Friday, October 5, 2007
Fair Trade -- Superman: The Wedding And Beyond
Sometimes, things just converge.
Now, two weeks ago my wife and I were still just engaged. We were dealing with our respective familes and trying to get everything in order for the wedding on the 22nd. Needless to say it was hectic and we had entirely too many people staying at our house and at a hotel literally half a mile up the road.
On the 22nd, my groomsmen and I got to the wedding site at around 1 in the afternoon to do some decorating and set up some chairs. Obviously my bride was sequestered away in her bride's room doing bridal things. But around 2:00, the photographer let me know that they were going to be taking pictures with the bridal party, and thus me and my gang had to make ourselves scarce for about an hour. So, like any good nerds would do, we went to a comic book store wearing our tuxedos.
Planet Comics is in Anderson, SC, which is about an hour from where I live. I used to frequent this shop about every two weeks or so back when I was in college, since it's only about a 20 minute drive from Clemson University. There's a good sized, full service comic shop who also carries a pretty large chunk of gaming and anime stock as well. And one thing which they have had for a while now is clearance bins for stuff which they just cannot move, including plenty of trade paperbacks. So I was perusing the titles, flipping through X-books I could neither identify nor comprehend, and indy press books which I had never heard of, and what do I find but this little gem, nestled snugly between a Batman "War Games" trade and a volume of Sojourn.
A Superman trade covering Lois and Clark's wedding and honeymoon, found in the clearance bin by me on my wedding day? Like I said, sometimes things just converge. Even my wife was amused by this coincidence.
An added bonus is that this story takes place squarely in a period of Super-history which I am familiar with. I read the four Superman titles at this time, but had to sell them off a few years back primarily for space concerns: reading one monthly for a year in the early 90's produced 12 or 13 issues (assuming an annual); reading four monthlies and a quaterly which functioned as a weekly produced 52. But having read these before, I knew some of the details which were not covered in the trade, including who some of supporting cast were, why Superman is powerless, and why Lois and Clark were fighting and estranged at the beginning. These are not minor quibbles, though, for a reader who is not familiar with this period, so I guess that's a bad mark there.
The stories themselves are pretty solid 90's fare, with each issue more-or-less telling it's own story but still adding to the overall direction (something the "Diamond Number" era Superbooks did quite well, generally). Starting off with Lois tracking down a story in subcontinental Asia, things segue quickly into a reconcilitation between our favorite couple, and a whirlwind wedding. The second issue collected is the Superman: The Wedding Album, a giant-sized special featuring no fewer than sixteen different artists from various periods in Superman's history, ranging from Curt Swan to Nick Cardy to Gil Kane to Dan Jurgens. It can be a little jarring to go from one artist to the other in the span of a few pages, but it's great fun trying to identify each new penciller. Following the (admittedly epic) wedding, it's off to Hawaii for the honeymoon, only to become embroiled in a little more adventure (and have a visit from Superboy in the process). It's a light read, with a lot of action but a good deal of heart, something which I think DC usually has a good balance with. Interesting to consider is that the issues contained herein (Superman #118, Wedding Album, Adventures of Superman #541, Action Comics #728, and Superman: MOS #63) represented one month of mainline Superman comics. To have this much happen nowadays you'd need 10 months, a few fill-ins, and an Annual.
It's hard for me to recommend this trade to a general readership: there's too much continuity to make much sense of some aspects, and the stories are just adventures, not the Internet-shattering, navel-gazing type of opus modern readers seem to enjoy. But I think DC fans will eat it up if they have a cursory knowledge of the era, and the nuptials of DC's oldest couple are certainly "Big Time" enough to warrant checking out. Superfans will definitely enjoy The Wedding Album for the bevy of artists and the Superboy appearance, and I think they will get a kick out of "Lois Lane, Black Ops Commando" -- I know I did.
So for your 4 Color fans about to tie the knot (or done so recently), see if you can find this volume at your local comic shop. It's a fun little diversion which can help keep you sane before the big day, and give you something to think about afterwards. Superman is someone you look up to, a role model, and if he can handle marriage, by gum, so can I.