Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide: Day Seven-Superman

Today we have different gift ideas for the fan of The Man of Steel on your holiday shopping list. These are all different interpretations of the last Kryptonian from over the years in comics, TV shows, animation and action figure form. If you have a Superman-loving collector on your list, you know what to do…

Smallville: Complete Series – 20th Anniversary Edition
$154.99 (discounted at many online retailers)

This is a big-ticket item, but if you know somebody who was a big fan of the Smallville TV show, this may very well be worth it.

Twenty years out from its debut, this box set collects all ten seasons of what remains one of the best live-action treatments of the Superman mythos. This fresh take on The Man of Steel focused on his life in Smallville, before he moved to the “big city” of Metropolis. In the comics, he was already operating as Superboy when he lived here, but this series shows him developing his powers and discovering his origin, and the shocker, if you didn’t already know it, is that he doesn’t don the blue suit and red cape until the last ten minutes of the final episode.

Tom Welling heads a stellar cast that includes Annette O’Toole, John Schnieder, Kristen Kruek, Michael Rosenbaum and loads of guest stars (including Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder).

This box includes all 217 episodes of Smallville, plus tons of extras and bonus features.

This is the story of what led Clark Kent to become the Man of Steel. While we don’t see Superman fully-formed, we do see Clark Kent go up against Lex Luthor, Brainiac, General Zod and other criminals from The Phantom Zone. Along the way Clark encounters Green Arrow and Aquaman, his cousin, who in the comics is Supergirl, The Justice Society of America and even prepared for the threat of Darkseid.

It’s a great, different take on Superman, in his early days, and rumor has it an animated revival may be in the works with many of the original actors and producers involved.

Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore
by Dennis O’Neil, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson
DC Comics
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1779507525

From 50 years ago, this is the first attempt at a major revamp of Superman, and it’s by the classic creative team of writer, Dennis O’Neil and artists Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.  In this series of stories, Kryptonite was wiped off the face of the Earth, but as a result, Superman’s powers were also greatly reduced, and he had to deal with his newfound limitations.

Here’s how DC describes it…

Kryptonite. The very word has become synonymous with hidden vulnerability—a modern-day Achilles’ heel. The fragmentary remains of Superman’s doomed home planet, this glowing green mineral has bedeviled the World’s Greatest Hero since he first arrived on Earth.

But what would happen if this deadly threat was completely eradicated?

That was the question posed in 1971, when legendary comics editor Julius Schwartz took over the Superman family of titles at DC Comics. In response, an up-and-coming young writer named Dennis O’Neil joined with acclaimed artists Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson to deliver what would become a milestone in the history of American comics: the saga of “Kryptonite Nevermore”!

Over the course of nine issues in the monthly Superman series, this supercharged creative team turned decades of continuity on their head and transformed the Last Son of Krypton from an impossibly strong galaxy-faring adventurer into a more reasonable powered, relatable guardian of Earth. Now, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of its original publication, DC Comics is proud to present an all-new hardcover edition collecting this historic story line in its entirety—featuring newly restored color on every page as well as insightful essays from O’Neil and former DC presiden and publisher Paul Levitz.

Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore is a tremendous collection of stories with fantastic art by the team many consider to be the definitive Superman illustrators. There have been many attempts to rebbot or revamp The Man of Steel since this, but none of them have been so consistently good.

Superman Action Figures by MEGO

Speaking of definitive, the idea of MEGO making a Superman action figure pretty much defined what kids were playing with in the mid-1970s.

Now with MEGO revived, and deals with DC Comics in place, you can Once again purchase Superman MEGO figures in the classic 8-inch, or the new 14-inch sizes.

And there are several different versions from which to choose. You can buy the classic 8″ Superman in his tradtional suit, the 14″ “New 52” Superman who runs around with no pants, or if you are lucky and/or patient, there’s a new 8″ Henry Cavill Superman reportedly turning up at Target stores, along with a new traditionally-suited 14″ Superman due in before Christmas.

You should know your Superman fan well enough to know which MEGO figures will best suit them. Prices range from fifteen to forty bucks, and there are several reliable MEGO dealers to be found on Facebook.

The Amazing World of Superman (Tabloid Edition)
edited by E. Nelson Bridwell and Sol Harrison
DC Comics
ISBN-13 : 978-1779509185

In the early 1970s, the town of Metropolis, Illinois, attempted to boost their economy by building a huge “Superman Land” amusement park. This ill-fated venture stalled and crashed due to the financial realities of the time (they blamed the oil crisis, but they’d never lined up any serious funding).

When the project was still alive, DC Comics published a special and unusual tabloid-sized comic book that acted as a program for the town’s 1973 Superman Day. This annual event is still held every June (barring pandemics) and in 1973 they went all-out with the mayor dressed as Superman and potential investors coming to town to survey the crowds and this tie-in, which was pretty darned cool.

Produced by DC Comics (then National Periodical Publications) this 64-page The Amazing World of Superman giant was printed on different, whiter, paper than DC used for their comics and weighed in at a slightly larger size (and proportion) than DC’s then-new “Limited Collectors Edition” comics, plus it was printed in black-and-white instead of color.

This new hardback edition reprints the book, pretty much as it was in 1973, with no real “DVD extras.”

Much of the book was filled with some pretty great articles for the time, including a step-by-step look at how comics were made–from writing and drawing to printing–and a look back at the 1966 Superman Broadway Play. It’s great to have this stuff back in print.

There were also some features reprinted from comics, including a classic story drawn by Wayne Boring in 1955 that speculated about a Superman Land amusement park, and a few pages drawn by Bob Brown that show Superboy’s secret lab in Smallville, but the star attraction was a brand-new 15-page origin story for The Man of Steel, created especially for this publication.

“The Origin of Superman” was written by E. Nelson Bridwell and drawn by the then-top Superman art team of Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. DC’s then-publisher, Carmine Infantino is sometimes credited with the plot and layouts. It’s widely considered the definitive take on Superman’s origin story (at least pre-Crisis), and it’s cool to see it reprinted here in it’s original format and art size, with wash-toned black and white art.

At twenty bucks, this is a pretty nice package. It even includes the full-color “pull-out” poster map of Krypton (drawn by Sal Amendola) that came with the original book, although it’s inserted loose here, making life easier for everyone involved. It’d be a great gift for any fan that doesn’t have the original printing.

Superman: The Complete Animated Series
Remastered for Blu-Ray
$69.99 (discounted at Amazon)

Even better than Smallville for die-hard Superman fans, Superman: The Animated Series is beloved, and even if you know somebody who watches it every day with HBO Max, they’d probably love having this new Blu-Ray edition.  And we go to the blurb…

The creative team behind the Emmy Award-winning Batman: The Animated Series chronicles the adventures of Superman, the legendary Super Hero. As the planet Krypton is destroyed, its leader, Jor-El, secures his infant son, Kal-El, in a rocket that will transport him to Earth. There, a young Clark Kent (voiced by TIM DALY) discovers the truth about his interplanetary heritage. Upon reaching adulthood, he assumes the identity of Superman, the Man of Steel, in the city of Metropolis, battling the forces of villainy and continuing his quest for “Truth, Justice and the American way.” Fly with Superman in this complete collection of adventures.

There is some epic storytelling here, including late in the series, a very faithful take on The New Gods and Darkseid, that includes a touching tribute to Jack Kirby.

This is probably one of the top five animated adventure shows of all time, and it’s a great way to enjoy the story of Superman.

1 Comment

  1. Thomas Wheeler

    Some amazing stuff here!

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