Category Archives: Life in the Gutter

What’s this I hear about a reboot? by Mandy Stegall

Seriously, getting information about the DC reboot happening in September has been very hit and miss for me.  I just finished school today (Wednesday), so I’ve been very preoccupied with finals and research papers lately.

Honestly, I’m very torn about the reboot.  I’m excited about seeing what Francis Manapul can do as the writer on The Flash.  I’m excited to finally have a chance to read a Justice League book with all the “heavy hitters.”  I don’t think they’ve all been active members at the same time since I started reading.  But at the same time, I’m having a hard time accepting some of the changes that have been made.  I’m not sure about the new Teen Titans.  I’ll probably give it a shot, but it will be one of those books I keep a close eye on for the first couple story arcs.

I’ve had to stop myself on numerous occasions over the last week or so from getting really bent out of shape over some of the changes that are being made, especially when it comes to characters.  I have some of the obvious questions about characters who appear to have their back story changed in some fundamental ways.  (For example, is Tim Drake actually a former Robin in the Teen Titans reboot?  If he’s not, then he’s not the Tim Drake I know and love, and that worries me.)
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LITG: C2E2 Coverage, Part 1 by Mandy Stegall

I originally started writing this Saturday night, after my first day at the convention.  I got back from McCormick Place, got out my notes, booted up my laptop, and wrote a good five paragraphs.  And then, I fell asleep.

Now, I’ve taken a couple of days and digested everything I saw and heard and feel like I can give everyone a better picture of what went down in Chicago this past weekend.

First of all, I think C2E2 is shaping up to be a great show that will only continue to improve as years go by.  This year the show was held in the West Building as opposed to the Lakeside Center (where it was last year).  While Lakeside had that wonderful view of Lake Michigan, it apparently also gave off a hellacious glare once the afternoon rolled around that was distracting both to artists and the public in general.  The West Building allowed for everything to be more spread out though, making sure there was something for everyone and that it wasn’t cramped into one specific space.

I didn’t get to attend all of the DC panels, but I really enjoyed the ones I did get to see.  Paul Cornell shared in the DC Icons panel that thought bubbles have returned to Superman, but I’m going to actually save my opinion for another column, which will probably be up later this week.
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LITG: Some Earths Are Still Unaccounted For by Mandy Stegall

Back in the day (translation: a couple years ago) I remember having a conversation with Sean and Jim where we asked how we’d like to see the universe depicted on Smallville continued once the show was over.  This post expresses my opinions at the time, saying I believed that Smallville should be considered a part of the DC Multiverse.

My opinion from over two years ago remains the same.  And with Smallville getting ready to gear up for its final run of episodes soon, the subject seems to be pertinent once again.  According to Superman Group Editor Matt Idelson, there is not a plan for an ongoing series.  However, what would be the harm in at least establishing it as part of the Multiverse, giving DC the option to revisit these versions of the characters from the show in the future?

The Batman Beyond cartoon ran for three seasons and now gets to call Earth-12 home.  Young Justice hadn’t even aired its first episode before it was designated as taking place on Earth-16.  Smallville has run for 10 seasons and is being treated like the bastard child of the DCU.
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LITG: The dangers of being a fan By Mandy Stegall

Long-time readers of this column know that I’m a huge fan of Smallville. In fact, I could probably write a column every week if it was Smallville related.  But, I don’t think the general reader on this site would want to read my comments week-in and week-out.  I’ve read comments all over the Internet blasting the show for killing the character of Superman by drawing out Clark’s journey for so long, so I know my feelings of love aren’t necessarily shared.

Like many people, I have searched out other people on the Internet who share the love, just like I sought out Raging Bullets because I read DC comics.  More specifically, I sought out people who love Lois and Clark.  And because this is Smallville, most of the conversation is about the building of their relationship and how Lois fits into his world and is instrumental toward him becoming Superman.

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LITG: Superman movie by Mandy Stegall

I’ll be honest.  When the news broke that Henry Cavill had been cast as Clark Kent/Superman, I said, “Who?”  I have never seen the Tudors, or anything else he’s been in, for that matter.

If I can be shallow for a moment–and I can because it’s my column–he has the look.  Give the boy a shave, an appropriate haircut, and some specs and he could very easily be Clark Kent.  Take off the specs and put the spit curl into effect and he’s Superman.  And for all our sakes, let’s hope that he’s able to learn a Midwestern accent. (And yes, people from the Midwest have an accent.)

When it comes to Cavill, I’m willing to give Christopher Nolan and Zach Snyder the benefit of the doubt.  For now.

I want so bad to be excited for this movie. I want to geek out about it.  I want to have faith that this is going to be an interpretation that isn’t going to leave a sour taste in my mouth.  So…I decided to make a short list of things I feel need to be present for this movie to be a success.

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LITG: Secret Origin DVD By Mandy Stegall

Expect a few postings in the next few days from me.  I have an extended break from school/work, and I have a number of topics I want to discuss that I just haven’t had time to write out in the last few weeks.

First off, I just watched the Ryan Reynolds-narrated Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics DVD that was released in early November.

As documentaries go, this one was great.  The part that stands out the most to me, after watching it twice, is the way the history of the comics follows history in general.  We see how the comics changed in storytelling during World War II, and how the end of the war–which falls in with the Golden Age–signified a low point in comics.  This was also in part to the publication of Seduction of the Innocent by Frederic Wertham during that same time period.

Then comes the Silver Age, and the first generation of creators who were, as someone (I can’t remember who) proclaimed, getting into the business because that’s what they really wanted to do.  These were the same creators who grew up reading the adventures of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and decided that they wanted to do that when they grew up.

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LITG: Lois Lane Series? By Mandy Stegall

I know I’m a few weeks behind on this.  But, December 12 brought about a Twitter campaign in support of a Lois Lane ongoing series.

Yes, please.

What impresses me the most about the campaign was that it got some writers and artists show their love for the character and express their interest in working on such a series.  The Twitter campaign and the interest from some big-name creators even gained the attention of DC Editorial.

I hope that this interest is taken seriously by DC, and that it is not in the same vain as the Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane series from the 1950s.  I admittedly haven’t seen many of these issues, but I do know that they were mostly considered Elseworlds tales.  And because of the times, they also put much less emphasis on Lois as a reporter and more on her role as a romantic interest of Superman.

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LITG: “Why Superman?” By Mandy Stegall

Sometimes, there’s a moment in life that makes you take pause and really question why you believe the things you do.  These moments make you look past the superficial reasons and really look into yourself and, if you’re lucky, you come out feeling like a better person.

I had a moment like that recently.  And believe it or not, I owe it all to comics.

Regular readers of this column know that I teach high school English and journalism.  Since my first days as a teacher, I have never hid the fact that I read comic books.  Instead, I have embraced it as part of who I am.  The wallpaper on my computer is always decorated with some kind of DC Comics character.  Right now, I have that awesome Shane Davis Superman from Earth One where the pavement is cracking underneath him.  It’s epic and majestic and it’s been on my desktop since the beginning of school.  I’ve been told I should change it.  I don’t want to.

Anyway, students will ask me about comics every so often.  I had a student in my most recent journalism class who loved to get me started on comic talk while they were working in the lab on stories and layout.  Another student said one day that he should put a microphone between us and just record us talking.  He would ask me all kinds of questions, like why I don’t read Marvel (it took me a few days, but I finally was able to explain it in a way that he could buy into) and if I knew anything about the Green Lantern or Batman movie.  They were fun conversations, and I often times found myself wondering why I was never able to put these thoughts in writing.

And then, my student asked me one day, “Why Superman?”  Honestly, I didn’t have a good explanation at first.  As the reasons formed in my head, I knew that by voicing them I ran the risk of making him—and potentially every other student in the class—laugh at me uncontrollably.  I thought long and hard about my response and finally came up with what I felt was a good, sturdy, and (hopefully) an inspiring answer.  Because that’s why I got into the business of teaching in the first place—to inspire.

I consider myself an idealist.  I want to see the best in everyone, so I find that I trust fairly easily.  I believe that everyone deserves a second chance, and I’m a firm believer in equality—for everyone.  Can I claim credit for coming to these beliefs on my own.  No, of course not.  My family, friends, and colleagues certainly deserve some of that credit.  But another person who deserves that credit is a fictional character.  So as odd and crazy as it may sound, I think I’m a better person because of Superman.

At his core, Superman has a huge heart.  Maybe Kryptonian hearts are just naturally bigger than human hearts, I don’t know.  But the guy has the ability to find redeeming qualities in everyone.  He listens, he shows compassion, he gives second chances.  He isn’t quick to judge.  For all the strength and power he has, he still finds time to go back to Smallville for a piece of his mom’s apple pie.

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LITG: Let the love-fest begin by Mandy Stegall

I hereby promise that this is the last time in September that everyone has to hear me rant about Smallville. For anyone who’s new, you should probably know that I’m more than just a little over the moon about the show.  I’m sure it’s easy to imagine how I’m going to feel when it’s over at the end of this upcoming season.

But why get all pouty now?  I have 22 brand new episodes to look forward to before the end of the road and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

And come on, who wouldn’t get excited over the characters the showrunners are bringing in this season?  John Schneider is back for at least two episodes (including the premiere), John Glover for at least one, and Michael Shanks for at least one.  They’re also introducing the Suicide Squad and Rick Flag, as well as Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.  Now, tell me that isn’t enough to get everyone excited.

See, but here’s the newest of the casting excitement: In what has to be some of the best stunt casting EVER, Smallville has landed the one and only Teri Hatcher to play…Lois Lane’s mom!  Don’t even tell me that doesn’t go beyond excitement.

Public perception in the past has been that Hatcher has shunned the show in the past because she didn’t appreciate the role and its history.  The reality of the situation is that Smallville is filmed in Vancouver, and the majority of the time her show, Desperate Housewives, was being filmed in Los Angeles at the same time.  It should also be kept in mind that if you’re going to bring in a name like Teri Hatcher, someone who has a place in the Superman mythology, you better have a damn good role for her to play.  It just had to be the right story.

Honestly, what gets better than playing Lois Lane’s mom?  Yes, I know she’s dead in Smallville lore, but just go with it here.  I don’t want to spoil too much, but trust me that it will make perfect sense once you know the premise. (And if you want to know, go to Michael Ausiello’s column on, where it was posted today.)  This is, without a doubt, the perfect role for Teri to come back and play.  And, it puts to rest once and for all the rumors that she did not look back at her time on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman very fondly.

Before I go, let me warn you that my columns over the coming months might feature Smallville heavily.  I’m a Superman geek and I’ve been watching this show since it started ten seasons ago, so I’m very enthusiastic about what looks like could be one of their best seasons.

LITG: Sometimes, it’s hard to admit I’m from Illinois by Mandy Stegall

My latest reason is hearing that our latest in the long line of governors-turned-criminals, Rod Blagojevich, was signing autographs and posing for pictures with “fans” at Chicago Comic-Con on Saturday.  Really?

It’s bad enough that when I meet new people and tell them that I’m from Illinois (though I’m NOT from Chicago–far from it, actually), they automatically mention Helmet Head.  But what is this guy doing at a comic book convention?  Is he replacing Alfred E. Newman?

More bad press for comics

I saw this article earlier this week and it made me angry.  Long story short, this lady did a study and found that movie superheroes, like Iron Man, are bad role models for young boys.

I have many problems with Sharon Lamb’s study.  First of all, why is Iron Man the only “movie superhero” she mentions?  By doing so, she makes it sound like she has a personal problem with the character.  I also want to know how much this woman actually knows about comic books, because this article (and the original report, which really only talks about the superhero issue for a couple paragraphs) make it sound like movies based on comic books are the only exposure she has to the superheroes of today that she says are bad role models.

But because this is a DC Comics blog, let’s put this in perspective a bit.  I don’t expect Dr. Sharon Lamb to ever read this, but if it ever happens, I’d like to give her examples of superheroes that would be good role models for all teenagers, not just the boys.

Let’s look at Barbara Gordon, for example.  The first Batgirl was shot by the Joker and left paralyzed.  She very easily could have sat in her wheelchair and become a shadow of her former self, but I’ve heard comic writers contend that she’s more interesting as Oracle than she ever was as Batgirl.  Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she reinvented herself, becoming the “operator” for the DCU and being the poster child for the power of knowledge.

And what about those characters who use their brains to help people?  Ray Palmer’s scientific discoveries allow him to help people as The Atom, Ralph Dibney used his detective skills and concentrated Gingold and became The Elongated Man, and Michael Holt, who overcame personal tragedy to use his intelligence as Mr. Terrific.
I purposely stayed away from the Trinity, simply because I think those are the characters many people would immediately go to when trying to convince others that comic book characters can be good role models.  (Yes, I think Batman can be argued.  As calculating as he can be, he never gives up and has learned to push through pain.)  And, the ones I listed aren’t necessarily the ones who get the most publicity.

What other DC characters are good role models for young readers?   Share your thoughts in the comments.