Tag Archives: guise and garb

Superman 1.76: The Stupid Answer

So it turns out people aren’t tired of superhero movies after all, judging by the first weekend take for Spider-Man: No Way Home, which earned more money in a four-day frame than any other movie that has ever been made except for Avengers: Endgame. It looks like these films are going to be around for a while as a dominant pop cultural force, and comic book readers know exactly what to expect.

When there’s a new movie that’s coming up based on a Marvel or DC property, that means it’s time to relaunch the comic book, and have a new #1 out on the racks for people to pick up, read for two issues, and then decide that they don’t like it as much as the movie. These days, the relaunch titles last for about 12 to 18 months, and then get replaced by whatever’s coming next in the movie release schedule.

In 2021, we’ve seen relaunches for Shang-Chi (vol 2), Black Widow (vol 8), Eternals (vol 5), Suicide Squad (vol 7) and Venom (vol 5), plus a new Hawkeye: Kate Bishop title to tie in with the Disney+ show. This is what comics are for now, to support the movies and to occasionally come up with a new bit of intellectual property, like a Black Spider-Man, a female Spider-Man, a Black female Iron Man, a Muslim Ms. Marvel, a bisexual Superman and a Black gay Aquaman, all of them ready to be turned into cartoons, live-action TV shows and blockbuster movies, whenever people get around to it.

But back in 1978, DC wasn’t really sure what they were supposed to do about the upcoming Superman movie, except buy tickets, so their response was all over the place.

They started a new Superman team-up title called DC Comics Presents, and they launched a new “Mr. and Mrs. Superman” back-up feature in the Superman book about a newlywed Lois and Clark, in an alternate universe. They also wrote a four-issue story designed to sell diecast Supermobile toys, and they published a special Superman vs Muhammad Ali comic.

On the other hand, in what seem like perverse anti-tie-ins, they didn’t publish any comics that feature Lex Luthor all year, plus they reprinted the story “Kryptonite Nevermore!” from 1971, to make sure that readers were aware that Superman wasn’t vulnerable to Kryptonite anymore. They also published a story called “The Super Sellout of Metropolis!” which I interpret as a way of working through their ambivalent feelings about the movie.

And to cap off the year, just in time for the movie release, they published a story called “The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis!” which offered a full and unnecessary explanation for why nobody recognizes Superman, when he’s in the guise and garb.

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Superman 1.75: The Other Stupid Question

He lied to her. He came all the way across a thousand galaxies, just to lie to her.

He gave her a false name. He insinuated his way into her life. He became a co-worker, a friend. She trusted him. She confided in him. He was the person that knew her better than anyone else, the man who could see right through her.

And he lied to her.

They traveled together. They solved mysteries together. They survived a thousand hair-raising adventures together, one life-threatening, heart-stopping moment after another.

He used his super-ventriloquism, to make her think that he was in two places at once. He used his heat vision, to destroy the telltale evidence that would have confirmed her suspicions. He created dreams and hoaxes and imaginary stories, to confuse and distract her. He even invented a fucking robot duplicate of himself, specifically in order to keep his secret from specifically her. She trusted him, and he lied to her, and he did it for decades. And he thought it was funny.

So now, you want to ask why Lois Lane is so stupid that she never recognized the truth that Superman did everything possible to conceal from her?

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Superman 1.54: The Stupid Question

I got sidetracked yesterday talking about the special effects in the helicopter rescue sequence, which means I’ve left dangling reporter Lois Lane up there hanging on for dear life, approximately two feet south of safety.

I hate to leave her up there with nothing but a seatbelt, a camera crew and some front projection for company, but there are pressing matters that I need to attend to here on the ground, so she’s going to have to hang tight for today. I’m pretty sure she’ll be okay. The location filming for these Metropolis street scenes was completed in July ’77, and they didn’t start shooting the hanging-off-the-roof scenes until October, so technically we have three months before it even becomes an issue.

The thing that we need to discuss today is Clark Kent finally tearing off the guise and garb, revealing the supersuit and taking charge of the situation. It’s the moment that we’ve been waiting for — some city-stunning from the caped wonder, at last — and the only thing between us and it is a button-down shirt.

Now, at this point some people might ask where he puts the Clark Kent clothes when he changes into Superman. They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but then a question like that comes along, and you start to wonder if there might be a couple exceptions.

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Superman 1.33: The Coming of Clark Kent

It’s a textbook case of Hollywood ugly. Christopher Reeve is tall, handsome and built like a truck, with piercing blue eyes and a terrific smile. About thirty minutes from where we’re currently standing, he’s going to be the smoldering hunk in one of the all-time heart-melting romantic comedy scenes, and everyone in the theater will be thoroughly in love with him.

So how much work do you have to do, in order to make him look like a forgettable schlemiel? Well, you grease his hair down and give him big unfashionable eyeglasses, and then he hunches his shoulders, swallows his dialogue, and projects an uncomfortable glassy stare, with his mouth pulled tight in what you might call a resting frogface. At that point, he makes a convincing nerd that you wouldn’t look at twice.

I’m kidding, of course; he’s still insanely gorgeous, and if you don’t feel like hitting that, then I would be happy to take your turn. But the show must go on.

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