For the Man Who Has Everything

 

SupermanAnnual11

Featured in Superman Annual #11, ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ is a classic Superman tale written by one of the comic book industry’s greatest writers in Alan Moore. For the next few months I will be reviewing some classic mainstream Alan Moore titles.

This tale centers around a symbiotic alien plant called Black Mercy that attaches itself to it’s victim and feeds off of their ‘bio-aura’ while they are placed into a dream like state where all of their heart’s desires are occurring in their mind while they are slowly dying in reality.

The story begins with Batman, Robin (the Jason Todd version), and Wonder Woman meeting at the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate Superman’s birthday. They suddenly come upon Superman who is standing still with this alien parasite attached to him. The villain Mongul is the culprit behind Superman’s predicament and Wonder Woman immediately begins to battle him while Batman and Robin attempt to remove Black Mercy from our red and blue spandexed hero.

During this mayhem we see what is going on in Superman’s mind. He is back on Krypton (having never been destroyed), married with a son, and living a regular non-heroic life. Very quickly though we see his dream world start coming apart. His father Jor-El has been ostracized by Kryptonian society since his prediction of the planet Krypton’s destruction never came to fruition. Kryptonian society is heading towards a civil war with various warring factions preparing to go head-to-head over differing views of how their world should be run. This is clearly not Superman getting to live out his heart’s desires and shows the reader that he is starting to come out of his catatonic state.

Batman and Robin are finally able to pry the alien plant off of Superman and he immediately awakens from his motionless state and, in a very violent rage, screams and goes after Mongul in what proceeds to be a brutal fight between to well matched adversaries.

While this is going on the parasite attaches itself to Batman and he starts to drift off into a world where his parent’s have never been murdered. Fortunately, Robin is able to pry the parasite off of Batman and just when it looks like Mongul is going to get the upper hand on Superman, he launches the Black Mercy and it attaches itself to the villain.

Mongul is now in a catatonic state and we get see his heart’s desire which is the death of Superman and him taking over the entire universe.

This story is very compelling since we get to see inside Superman’s mind more than usual and really feel sympathetic knowing that even though he became Earth’s greatest hero, he still wishes for a normal life which he can never have.

This is a classic tale which was very recently redone for an excellent episode of CBS’s Supergirl which really helped the progression of the character and give a nice nod to a classic comic book story.

Alan Moore has written some classic graphic novels over the decades and usually people focus on his more original work like V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, etc…. I will not argue on the merits of those works, but also encourage people to seek out his work on more well-known characters like Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, et al. A truly great writer can take a very well-known character and add his own flavor without ignoring it’s history. Moore is one of those writers and ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ is the perfect example of his amazing talent.

It has been reprinted many times over the years and I re-read it for the umpteenth time in my recently acquired DC Universe by Alan Moore hardcover which was released in 2013 and can still be easily found on Amazon and other book retailers. It features a lot of Moore’s mainstream DC output and is strongly recommended.

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Man of Steel

manofsteel

Finally, a damn good modern Superman movie. I was excited when I saw the first trailer and had high hopes for this movie and it did not disappoint. I saw it opening weekend at the movie theater and watched it again recently on blu-ray and enjoyed it even more.

The main thing that made this movie work so well was Henry Cavill as Superman. Perfect casting. They did not just go for someone with the right look, but someone who could really portray this character perfectly for a modern audience. Unlike most portrayals of the first superhero, Cavill did not come off as perfect. When Zod threatens his mother we see a natural reaction of pure rage and the destruction that can be caused by someone in that mental state who has super powers. Some people did not like that aspect of his character in the movie, but I really felt it rang true. He is young and learning and mistakes will be made which is how life works.

I also enjoyed Michael Shannon’s Zod. He showed glimpses of being a good person, but in the end threw it out the door and was willing to sacrifice an entire planet to save his people…understandable, but still pretty darn nasty. His fights with Superman were brutal and came off amazingly well.

Other great casting choices include Amy Adams as Lois Lane. I never liked Margot Kidder’s portrayal of Superman’s love interest and really feel that Adams is the first person to nail that character perfectly. Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, etc…were all great casting choices. A lot of effort was put into making this a great Superman movie and I really feel they succeeded.

The biggest point of contention many people had with this movie is when *spoiler alert* Superman kills Zod. The general consensus was that Superman would never kill. I have two issues with that. First off, in this movie he is not a flawless character as we normally see him portrayed. He is young and learning so mistakes will be made. Secondly, one of the biggest issues I have with heroes in comic books is when they do not kill. If Batman would just kill the Joker then thousands of lives would be saved. Superman killing Zod saved that family and untold numbers of other lives. Zod had to die. It was the right thing to do.

This is definitely a must see movie and only gets better with repeated viewings.