When I first heard the announcement on Marv Wolfman’s Twitter account that DC was releasing a previously unpublished story about Superman’s early days, I was intrigued. When Wolfman began praising the story all over social media, calling it “one of the top five stories I’ve ever written, and the best Superman story I’ve ever written,” my curiosity was officially piqued, even more so when I saw previews of the art! My inner fanboy was giddy with excitement at the thought of once again getting a traditional Superman story, a welcome change of pace after Supes of the last year or so.
Apparently other fans felt the same way I did. Wolfman was so high on his story that he began doing signings at various bookstores and conventions after the release of the book last month, which fans showed up at in droves. DC began plugging it all over their sites as well, far more so than typical 80-100 page specials. Wolfman would often repeat his belief in the book in subsequent interviews. I HAD to have a copy!!
Sadly, the book for me didn’t live up to the hype. I found Superman to be a bit too whiny for my taste, even for an origin story, and his supporting cast to be featured more than he was. If a writer wants to do an angsty Superman, have him be a lot younger, not an adult (see the excellent “Earth One” graphic novels by J Michael Straczynski- more on those another time).
Don’t get me wrong, there was definitely a quality there and very good writing. I would say it was an excellent Lex Luthor story and Lois Lane story, which Wolfman expounds on a bit in his introduction. Overall though, just not my cup of tea.
The real eye-opener for me though, was when I went to sell the book on eBay after deciding not to keep it. Copies were going for $15-$20+ with just a $9.99 cover price! My copy sold for $13.50, and two more I bought later on to sell both went for over $10 again (not including shipping!). There must have been a shortage of printings or something, because the book was clearly in demand and not enough supply to go around. Just yesterday, an Amazon listing for this coming November already showed a “Man and Superman” deluxe edition hardcover available for preorder!
I had to ask myself, where was all this interest coming from? The story was a good enough Superman story, but was it good enough to warrant this much interest? Could it be that the number of copies printed were severely underestimated? Was it the hype machine or droves of Wolfman fans?
Or could it just be that Superman fans out there are thirsting for a good Superman story?
I’m inclined to think the latter. I certainly have never seen a DC special of any kind solicited as a deluxe a mere six weeks after its release. Did Marv Wolfman just write one of the greatest Superman stories of all time? Some might think so, but at the same time I can’t possibly be the only person who’s been disappointed with Bendis’ output on the Man of Steel, either.
However you slice it, “Man and Superman” proves there is an audience for a Superman story like this- not in continuity, not leading to a big event, not capitalizing on a movie or media craze. Just a quality story.
I hope DC takes notice if they haven’t already. It would be great if they started tweaking the current titles to reflect this new taste in an older Superman style. At best, it would be awesome to see a series of graphic novels published regularly, written or drawn by more “classic” Superman creators (even though Marv is not that old). Maybe they could even be part of a new, “vintage” brand of Superman, as confusing as that might be to the casual reader. But speaking for myself, I can tell you I’d be all over it.
Congratulations, Marv Wolfman. You made the comic book community stand up and take notice that Superman doesn’t have to be gimmicky to be good. Thank you!