The Big Picture: Dumbsday, Part 1 - The Death of Superman

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Dumbsday, Part 1 - The Death of Superman

For his 200th episode, MovieBob takes a look at the (in)famous DC Comics series that killed off one of the most iconic heroes (albeit temporarily).

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Congratulations on 200 episodes, Bob. They've been great.

Obvious padding by re-using the Comics in the 90s - What Happened? episode's content aside, this was pretty good. There was probably not a better way to show that scene's dumbness (even if that Man of Steel scene used to criticise it pisses me off).

Were the comics at least better than the movie "Superman: Doomsday"? I thought that movie was a bit lack-luster, to be honest.

I unironically enjoy it to be honest. It's dumb, but it's what a lot of people wanted to see (even if they didn't know they wanted to see it) - Superman going toe to toe with someone he can't beat.

When your character is as black and white as superman, you're going to have a hard time putting him in a moral dilemma like Cap, and when you have a whole Justice League and team of superheroes, it would seem mad that Superman would die saving the planet or whatever. No one would accept that an existing foe could beat him, because that's not how the stories play out. It had to be someone new.

I dunno, love ya Bob and watched all of your Big Pictures, but I reckon your dislike of the 90's is showing through here. It's fun, even if it was published cynically.

Congratulations on the milestone Bob.

I hated the Death of Superman arc, but it's not like Superman comics of that day were all that great to begin with. Those books were weak sauce. Nothing against Superman as a character, I just didn't care much for the DC of the day during that time.

But I went out and got my copy just like everyone else did. It felt exciting that some kind of shake-up was going on. Then you got around to reading it and just went "ugh".

I did like Knightfall though. Sure, it had many of the same problems. But Bane's attack plan on Bruce was far more fun to watch play out.

I remember reading that comic. Being a little kid and being and unfamiliar with DC canon, I had no idea what was going on the whole time.

Thank you, Bob, for 200 Episoden of Background, Spekulation and enternteinment.

Congrats on the episodes. I gotta agree, I never really cared for the death of superman either.

Congrats on 200, Bob! You deserve it.

If anyone wants another entertaining video about this stupid, stupid event, watch Max Landis' "The Death and Return of Superman" short film. It's hilarious.

Wow. Has it really been almost four years? Yikes.

Anyway... quite an appropriate topic, as it mirrors the letdown of having a completely pointless story for such a seminal event.

Gotta disagree with bob here. Death of Superman was actually not that bad at least it had impact. See Superman was up against an uknown and worse an unknown that he simply couldn't overpower or pull a new power out of his ass to defeat. He was up against someone who could actually hurt him... badly.

Now it's one thing to be heroic when you know you're bloody well invulnerable but when facing a situation where your invulnerability is negated...that is where a hero is tested, It's one thing to shield someone from a bullet when you know the bullet will bounce off... it's another when you know that bullet will not only probably kill you but that there's still a chance it'll go through you and kill the person anyway.

Supes faced in that scenario, did what he always did... he fought on, not out of hope of winning but out of desperation to stop the beast before it destroyed everything he held dear. He died for that.

heck even the replacement hero arc wasn't so bad... we got to see how some heroes tried to fill the void that come with a great loss. Steel made no pretense of being the next superman but was just trying to continue the good work. Superboy saw it as his chance to step up and out of the shadow of the original to make a name for himself... and the other two okay.. that sorta sucked.

The problem with the death of superman is that he came back. Heroic sacrifice is ruined by the sacrifice being rendered null. I.e. there being no actual sacrifice. Plus the 'how' of how he came back has got to be the stupidest thing I have ever seen in comics... and I've read a lot of X-men comics.

Seriously, The idea of superman going down to stop a rampaging monster... great... bringing him back afterwards... sorta killed whatever impact the death might have had and it further damaged the industry's credibility. Death means nothing in comics... everyone comes back... or is replaced by someone who is fundamentally the same as the person that died.. Bucky and Jason Todd live..

I swear I actually feel sorry for death in the comic verse , he must be the most depressed entity in either the DC or the marvel cosmos. I mean one someone dies he probably goes. 'Why bother?' he does it anyway and of course they come back to life and Death goes to empty another case of bourbon.

You're a little too hard on the event, most of it is right but you a little too hard on the splash pages as it was a gradual thing from all for Sup titles, as the story went on the panels got bigger. That's a cool idea and it looked it too.

I don't think it mattered whether or Superman died for a just cause or not I mean if the threat is big enough it doesn't matter but I'll tell you this, the fight was more interesting than anything in MOS where nothing but a neck snap happened.

I loved that comic when it came out. Doomsday is a force of nature that could not be spoken to or reasoned with - something Superman has never faced. Most of it was a desperate fight to stop Doomsday getting to Metropolis. It was good to see Superman struggle like that, made him more human. I think they added abit of Doomsdays character into Zod in the MoS movie. A straight "i want to kill everything and nothing will deter me from my path" mentality. Maybe a better ending would have been that Superman survived but had a new understanding being that he was pushed to his limits and had to go against everything he believed in to save humans. But then all heros die and come back. But i liked Eradicator Superman and the Cyborg were interesting. The Doomsday back story was good also. But over time they ruined him after that.

The idea if having a known villian kill Superman is stupid, he has fought them all many times. Its lame. Doomsday was an unknown quantity. Neither Superman nor the fans reading the book knew what the hell Doomsday was. An thats awesome.

I think now you cant do "death of" stories because we all know they are not permanent so they lack the sense of loss. But if you really want stupid isnt there comics were a character punched reality? Wasnt it Superman Prime who did that? Comics are silly, and im glad for that because its fun and escapism.

BigTuk:
Gotta disagree with bob here. Death of Superman was actually not that bad at least it had impact. See Superman was up against an uknown and worse an unknown that he simply couldn't overpower or pull a new power out of his ass to defeat. He was up against someone who could actually hurt him... badly.

The problem with this is that there's no shortage of bad guy's in the DC universe who could go toe to toe against Superman and stand a reasonably good chance of killing him. Instead of using one of those guys (or preferably someone not that powerful like Luthor) and building up to something actually meaningful and interesting, they had Doomsday come to Earth on a spaceship and he and Superman beat each other to death.

Superman was killed by some nobody villain no one had ever heard of before, and it happened because they just stood around punching each other to death. There is so much that is wrong with that. His death may have had some slight impact, but his death really had next to no meaning. It wasn't some final climactic showdown with a long time enemy where he died because they managed to outsmart him. It was a street brawl where he died because none of the other heavy hitters showed up to lend a hand (in other words, because the writers wanted him to, not because it made sense).

So sure, it had some slight impact, but it was not a fitting way to kill off one of the most well known superheroes of all time. It'd be like making a James Bond movie and killing off Bond by having him choke on a piece of steak.

Superman wasn't killed by one of his classic villains and his death had no overall greater meaning, and that automatically makes it bad? The only way I'd agree with that is if the death was permanent, no more superman comics, nothing. DEAD dead. Of course that will never happen and I'm sure nobody thought that was the case at the time, so I really can't see any major complaints here, it was just an excuse to build up hype and see the most invincible comic book character be defeated (temporarily). I really see no harm in that.

Been here from the start, and will stick around to the end.

Btw, if anyone wants to make a smart investment, you should buy the first episode off me and make *billions* in 30 years! ;)

If MovieBob makes fun of Steel (John Henry Irons) I expect Jim Sterling to defend Shaquille O'Neal.

....

Or maybe my expectations are too high.

I have two memories of the Death of Superman. The first happened a few years after the comics themselves came out, and a friend of mine who as trying to convince me to give Superman a chance offered the trade paperback for me to read at school. I read the first few pages, asked him "do they ever explain who Doomsday is and where he came from?" and he said: "not really" so I laughed in his face and gave it back to him.

Years later, I was going through my old long boxes and found several "Reign of the Supermen" comics, some still in those plastic bags that the "special" comics got sold in. Never opened, never read. I must have bought them off the shelf and forgot about them almost immediately (maybe I thought they might be worth something one day, who knows).

So, you win this round, DC!

But without out the Death of Superman, we may have never got Shaq as Steel. Wait, I think I may have done that wrong.

Good job reaching 200 episodes Bob ^_^!!

Also yeah ... the Death of Superman was a very .. poorly done story to be honest. I watched a video on it based on some hilarious guys and it confused the living crap out of me. I figured his death would be in saving Earth and this long-established arc but ... introducing a new villain that just ends up making Superman go into a 'Super Coma'? Dumb.

Very dumb indeed. Especially the fact that ... there was wrestling involved. I'm not kidding.

This is why I hate Superman. Everything is some cheap shit.

His powers are super laziness and super convenience for the writers. Back on topic, to really sum it up: A monster came to Earth a punched Superman to death.

Cheap shit.

Well, At least we got Steel out of this, i like Steel

TheMemoman:
This is why I hate Superman. Everything is some cheap shit.

His powers are super laziness and super convenience for the writers. Back on topic, to really sum it up: A monster came to Earth a punched Superman to death.

Cheap shit.

Hello friend. Like you, I too once hated Superman because of the lazy writing and cheap shit powers rendered all conflict meaningless, but then I discovered "It's Just Some Random Guy". He did a series of videos called "After Hours" that actually turned me overnight into a dedicated Superman fan. (The gimmick is that the heroes (in the form of action figures) typically argue over whose movie is better, but it unfolds into a broader narrative.)

I don't want to spoil the story, but let me just say that Superman's internal conflicts can be profoundly interesting in the hands of a skilled storyteller. Ultimately, Superman can do anything he wants, but what happens when doing the "right thing", isn't the same as doing the "good thing"? What effect does Superman have on the world, and what effect should he have?

Obviously, this was just a series of videos on YouTube of a dude putting voices over video of him wiggling toys (it may take you a while to get past that), but it showed me that Superman has the potential to be a very interesting character in his own right. YMMV.

First off, happy 200th episode Bob! Second, it's nice to see you finally tackling this milestone event... which apparently isn't as good as everyone thought at the time.

Personality, I didn't get into comics until the late 90's/early 2000's, so I missed out on the crap comics of the 90's. Yet I have a bit of curiosity about those comics and how they turned out (But seriously, fuck comic book speculators).

CrazyGirl17:
First off, happy 200th episode Bob! Second, it's nice to see you finally tackling this milestone event... which apparently isn't as good as everyone thought at the time.

Personality, I didn't get into comics until the late 90's/early 2000's, so I missed out on the crap comics of the 90's. Yet I have a bit of curiosity about those comics and how they turned out (But seriously, fuck comic book speculators).

The 1990's wasn't as universally blowful as it seems in retrospect. One of my favorite Spider-Man stories is the Clone Saga (or at least the later parts of it). Unlike the other replacement heroes on the video, Ben Reilly didn't reflect "the Spider-Man people wanted", but rather, "the Spider-Man the editors wanted". Unmarried, unshackled by guilt and responsibility, and so on. Ultimately, several retcons later, the editors finally got the Peter they always wanted.

Reilly's most interesting effect, though, was on Peter himself. I remember very vividly how the two developed a brotherly relationship that both had always wanted (seeing as Peter was an only child). Fascinating and heartwarming stuff for a time. But the "official story" is that no one liked Ben Reilly or the Clone Saga. Baby boomers and Gen-Xers froth at the mouth if anyone suggests there was merit to the Saga or that it deserves to be considered for adaptation. Oh well. :)

As for speculators, the speculation bubble directly led to Marvel selling off movie rights that ultimately kindled the comic book movie renaissance we currently enjoy, so I wouldn't be so harsh.

twosage:

TheMemoman:
This is why I hate Superman. Everything is some cheap shit.

His powers are super laziness and super convenience for the writers. Back on topic, to really sum it up: A monster came to Earth a punched Superman to death.

Cheap shit.

Hello friend. Like you, I too once hated Superman because of the lazy writing and cheap shit powers rendered all conflict meaningless, but then I discovered "It's Just Some Random Guy". He did a series of videos called "After Hours" that actually turned me overnight into a dedicated Superman fan. (The gimmick is that the heroes (in the form of action figures) typically argue over whose movie is better, but it unfolds into a broader narrative.)

I don't want to spoil the story, but let me just say that Superman's internal conflicts can be profoundly interesting in the hands of a skilled storyteller. Ultimately, Superman can do anything he wants, but what happens when doing the "right thing", isn't the same as doing the "good thing"? What effect does Superman have on the world, and what effect should he have?

Obviously, this was just a series of videos on YouTube of a dude putting voices over video of him wiggling toys (it may take you a while to get past that), but it showed me that Superman has the potential to be a very interesting character in his own right. YMMV.

My favorite recommendation for showing Superman as an interesting character is Superman: Secret Identity, which is finally back in print. It's a standalone story that doesn't take place in the main DC universe, but it deals with him first and foremost as a person and a man rather than as a superhero. Not surprisingly it's written by Kurt Busiek, who's also known for doing similar things with stuff like Marvels and Astro City.

On Justice League animated series, Doomsday made an appearance. I have a feeling the writers had as little love for the character as Bob did, because Doomsday didn't run into the normal league, he ran into the "alternate universe team of well meaning tyrants" version, the Justice Lords. So, instead of giving the guy a good fight, Justice Lord Superman immediately used his heat vision to lobotomize Doomsday into a coma.

Also, the Justice League's version of the death of Superman MUCH better. It wasn't a random supervillian we have never heard of before, it was TOYMAM. Instead of having "everyone would be sad," the death of Superman brought up the question of "what the @#$^ is the world going to do without him?"

In your video you are showing Superman Doomsday. I know this episode is about the comic but what I am interested in is what did you thing about that movie.
I really liked it.

twosage:

CrazyGirl17:
First off, happy 200th episode Bob! Second, it's nice to see you finally tackling this milestone event... which apparently isn't as good as everyone thought at the time.

Personality, I didn't get into comics until the late 90's/early 2000's, so I missed out on the crap comics of the 90's. Yet I have a bit of curiosity about those comics and how they turned out (But seriously, fuck comic book speculators).

The 1990's wasn't as universally blowful as it seems in retrospect. One of my favorite Spider-Man stories is the Clone Saga (or at least the later parts of it). Unlike the other replacement heroes on the video, Ben Reilly didn't reflect "the Spider-Man people wanted", but rather, "the Spider-Man the editors wanted". Unmarried, unshackled by guilt and responsibility, and so on. Ultimately, several retcons later, the editors finally got the Peter they always wanted.

Reilly's most interesting effect, though, was on Peter himself. I remember very vividly how the two developed a brotherly relationship that both had always wanted (seeing as Peter was an only child). Fascinating and heartwarming stuff for a time. But the "official story" is that no one liked Ben Reilly or the Clone Saga. Baby boomers and Gen-Xers froth at the mouth if anyone suggests there was merit to the Saga or that it deserves to be considered for adaptation. Oh well. :)

As for speculators, the speculation bubble directly led to Marvel selling off movie rights that ultimately kindled the comic book movie renaissance we currently enjoy, so I wouldn't be so harsh.

Ah, okay then, thanks for the history lesson.

My big problem with the Clone Saga is that they kept flip-flopping on who the clone was, because they wanted to stretch the story out and make more money. I think the story could have been handled well under the right hands... but Marvel really dropped the ball with this one.

Other than that, the late 90's comics were apparently better handled, so there's something, I guess. Now if only DC would take the hint that "darker and edgier" is not always the way to go...

I don't know, some random guy just coming to Earth and punching Superman to death sounds like it could be pretty powerful to me. But I guess this was before 9/11, so I assume no one thought of the shock and sense of powerlessness everyone would've felt? Maybe an arc where someone like Batman goes on a killing spree out of vengeance, but then gets the Justice League involved in a drawn-out war that solves nothing? Or maybe some other superheroes descend into alcoholism and retire because if Superman can be beat, anyone can? And what about the enormous power vacuum? Maybe some superheroes could show a darker, more ambitious side as they tried to claw their way to the top. If Superman was killed, I'm sure everyone would start getting more critical of everyone else's weaknesses, and even more so their own. Long-standing super-friendships could be torn apart as everyone loses faith in each other.

I don't know, it just seems to me like this would have a really big effect that they could have milked for years. But I suppose next week we'll hear about how they pissed that away too.

Oh, and congratulations, Bob. Very well done, I don't think I'd be able to keep at anything for 200 weeks.

For the record, the "replacement Batman", Azrael, went on to have one of my favorite comic runs of all time (at least until issue 50 brought in editorial changes that KILLED the series and the character afterward).
image

Jean-Paul Valley utterly, entirely, miserably failed as Batman. He failed so hard Batman had to come and take the mantle back. So where do you go from there?

... You make a great character out of it. One defined entirely by his failure to live up to his own heroic dreams and aspirations. At his lowest point, he forges one of the best supporting cast in comics, where his only friends are a reformed(?) villainess with unclear motivations and an alcoholic former psychiatrist. This ragtag group of individuals basically work on rebuild all their lives and becoming their own people... and Azrael finally becomes great, making up for his failures as Batman by doing everything possible to earn the favor and respect of the heroes he disappointed.

That includes a basically one-man war against the very evil Order that created him in the first place, a task that also served to permanently burn the bridge between the man he was and the man he would become.

Basically, even though the character was born from a terrible stunt and was intended to be despised, he went on to become a pretty amazing character I STILL wish was around (he's got a "replacement hero" of his own running around in his stead as well.)

And, well, I admit, I still have some love for the 90's AzBat costume. The full-face mask in particular.
image

Knowing DC they'll probably try to adapt this story for a Man of Steel sequel or Justice League film at some point.

Happy 200th episode, Bob! And it's almost a week after my birthday, too!

Not G. Ivingname:
On Justice League animated series, Doomsday made an appearance. I have a feeling the writers had as little love for the character as Bob did, because Doomsday didn't run into the normal league, he ran into the "alternate universe team of well meaning tyrants" version, the Justice Lords. So, instead of giving the guy a good fight, Justice Lord Superman immediately used his heat vision to lobotomize Doomsday into a coma.

Also, the Justice League's version of the death of Superman MUCH better. It wasn't a random supervillian we have never heard of before, it was TOYMAM. Instead of having "everyone would be sad," the death of Superman brought up the question of "what the @#$^ is the world going to do without him?"

OMG, YES! Those were great episodes, with so many classic moments! Superman having none of his powers so he survives by his wits, driving around in a sweet-ass caddy, taming a pack of wolves, forging a sword, and running into Vandal Savage. As with the Justice Lords, I liked the two Batmen fighting (physically and philosophically), and Arkham Asylum finally being a place that gets results.

OT: What Bob described sounds way better than the direction Death of Superman went in. You want a great "Last" Superman story? Bob already showed "Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?" by Alan Moore and Curt Swan, but there's also All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. I also liked the "Replacement Hero" angle, stating the thematic side of making John Walker (who's an OK guy) Captain America and Jean-Paul Valley into Batman (as a visual middle finger to people who want Batman to be like the Punisher). I hope you keep it going in next week's episode, since both Batman and Cap had recent, and positively received, replacement characters: Richard Grayson and Bucky Barnes.

200th episode? Has it really been almost four years since since you started this show? Time really does fly.

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