Batman Vs. Superman.

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batman vs supermanAre you ready for it? I’ve sort of warmed up to the idea.

The previous film, The Man of Steel, left a lot of people shaking their heads. It had many great moments. Lois figuring out who Superman was before he ever joined the Daily Planet was a fantastic change from the comics, and was a huge step forward for the character of Lois Lane. I really liked a lot of the flashback scenes. But then there was the sheer level of devastation in the movie. It didn’t line up with over seven decades of Superman comics, and who we knew Superman to be as a person. Sure superheroes knock things over in movies, but the entire city of Metropolis had to have been destroyed in this film. What is left to protect when your city is a smoldering hole in the ground?

And why did he wait until after it was a hole in the ground to stop General Zod by killing him? An entire city and countless lives being destroyed difficult to swallow. Superman not stopping Zod by any means necessary until he’s about to kill a single innocent family? That may be even more difficult. Though, Superman does kill Zod in the comics to stop him from continuing his death and destruction, there’s something about this presentation that doesn’t ring true.

Superman has always been the light to Batman’s dark and gritty nature. All of DC Comics’ other characters fell in between. Hal Jordan the Green Lantern is an intergalactic policeman, the Flash fights a bunch of guys with gimmicks who, deep down, aren’t bad at heart.

Superman sees the best in others. He doesn’t do for people what they can do for themselves, or make decisions for them. He believes in their human dignity, and the sanctity of life. While he has the powers of a god, and we are lucky that he is a god  on our side (unlike Zod, or Marvel’s Loki), he doesn’t flaunt it. He tries to do the right thing. He isn’t enured or corrupted by the ugliness he has faced, and he shows people a better way, just by being himself and doing good in the world. That’s the Superman I grew up with. A guy from Kansas, just trying to do the right thing. And he can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Don’t believe me? Here’s the shameless promotion of library materials. Among all the other graphic novels you can check out featuring Superman, give the Superman Archive Editions a shot, and see Superman’s grand history at work. Or take a look at Superman For All Seasons, both a classic, and a modern retelling of Superman’s coming of age and decision to become the person comic readers know him as. Type “Superman” into the search block on our catalog page. Dozens of stories will pop up.

So in this new movie, long-retired Bruce Wayne sees the destruction done by two alien gods fighting it out over a city. In fact, he appears to be in the midst of the destruction. What is a guy to do?

Batman is the dark to Superman’s light. He was hardened early in life. He is suspicious, cautious and prepared for anything, no matter how bad or dire the situation. In my understanding of the new movie, it’s entirely reasonable that Batman has decided that these gods are a threat, and that he’s going to solve the Superman problem once and for all.

In every retelling of the Superman and Batman meeting, they see the goodness in each other fairly quickly. Check out our Batman Archive Editions, or the Superman/Batman graphic novels (and animated films).  In the Superman/Batman stories, we see the obvious dichotomy between the two characters, represented by their inner monologues on each challenge they face. Clark, as always, has the more positive outlook. Bruce, as always, is waiting for the turn. For the part where Supergirl is not who she says she is (Superman’s cousin) and tries to destroy all of mankind.

It’s hard to not be suspicious when you’re usually right. I think, deep down, Batman is always hoping he’ll be wrong. But just as Superman has a deep sense for humanity’s goodness, Batman always sees their capacity for harm.

Which would be fine, if Batman were only suspicious and always looking for the worst. But Batman always has a plan. He has a plan should his batcave be invaded by his enemies. He has a plan to deal with all the bad guys in Gotham at once (see Batman: War Games). He even has plans to take out the entire Justice League, his allies and friends, should any or all of them go rogue (JLA: Tower of Babel) which can put a bit of a strain on friendships.

That is who Batman is. He isn’t afraid to be the ‘bad guy’ in a sea of good guys. And he is not afraid to come out of retirement to deal with this unknown threat to humanity. Heck, I even accept Ben Affleck as old, fat Batman. I’m ready to see Batman deal with an alien he thinks is going to destroy not just his city, but his world (it’s time for Batman to branch out, anyway).

I’m not fond of the level of destruction in The Man of Steel, but I understand why it was there. And it’s not without precedent. Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern’s home, Coast City was leveled in a hotly debated comic event (Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight). Even Batman had to deal with the destruction of his city in Batman: No Man’s Land. Long dramatic arcs ensued. Can we get the same level of pathos from Superman, when Metropolis really wasn’t ‘his’ city yet? I don’t know. Batman was born for pathos, so I think he’s good to go.

And as for Wonder Woman? We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime we have plenty of Wonder Woman graphic novels to tide you over. Batman has two full shelves of graphic novels, Superman does too. Check them out, or Green Lantern, the Justice League, novels, including Kevin J. Anderson’s Batman/Superman-oriented Enemies and Allies, or any of our DC live-action or animated movies to get you ready for March 25th, 2016 when Superman Vs. Batman premiers.

Krakoom! Pow! Bang!

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When I was a young boy there was nothing more that I enjoyed than going to the grocery store with my grandfather. Not because I was particularly fond of bargain shopping or squeezing melons. The reason was my grandpa would always buy me a comic or two from the comic rack if I managed to behave during the shopping trip. These trips started with the adventures of Richie Rich, Archie, and Casper the Friendly Ghost, and turned into a lifelong devotion to comics.

Of course, now that I am older and a librarian, I think a lot of people surmise that I read voraciously or only the finest in literature. I wish this was true, but to be honest I still read comics all the time. At least they call them graphic novels now. Makes me feel a bit older and a bit more mature. One thing that has definitely changed is the newfound acceptance and success crossover they have had in mainstream culture.

When I was a boy back in the 1970s, comic book heroes on television and in the movies where silly and corny. Those of us that remember the old Batman TV series or The Amazing Spiderman show can attest to that. The Incredible Hulk was Incredibly Hokey.

Flash forward thirty years and the landscape has completely changed. We now live in the age of the comic superhero. Leading the way is Marvel Comics. Even as a lifelong DC Comic devotee, I have to admit that Marvel has done a much better job with marketing and bringing the heroes from the comic page to the movie screen.

A book that speaks towards the awesomeness that has come into the library this week is “Marvel Comics: 75 Years of Cover Art.” This book collects all the brilliant covers that Marvel readers will remember throughout the years. Starting in 1938 with the Human Torch fighting evil and Captain America fighting Nazis (even before America went to war with Germany.) This wonderful book shows the covers in full size and takes us on a history of American Comics, from super teams, aliens, the troubled hero, and all points in between.

This past summer Marvel and movie fans were treated to the movie “Guardians of the Galaxy”. A couple of weeks ago the library put on the shelf the comic based on the movie that was based on the original comic. Yes, that happens nowadays. (Look for the movie to be available at the library in a few weeks.)

Another big movie to come out in the past few months from Marvel was “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” This movie centers on the character of Wolverine and his attempt to change the past to avoid the world becoming a dark, dreary place ruled by the Sentinels. This movie is already on the shelves at the library. Also available is the original comic, I mean, graphic novel of the same name. Hard to believe that the original story came out in 1980.

As if all of this awesomeness was not enough, we also have all the other Marvel movies and comics (graphic novels) that people have come to love: Marvel Avengers, X-Men, Spiderman, Thor, Captain America, and last but not least Iron Man.

So make a point of stopping into the library and enjoying the superheroes that you grew up with. No matter what age you are now.

The Future, the Past, Slaves, and Dorks are at the Library

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The Liberal Memorial Library is constantly adding new material all the time. Here are some of the new items that we’ve acquired recently.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Have you seen the blockbuster “X-Men: Days of Future Past?” Did you wonder where they came up with the plot? Wonder no more as you can read the original story from the graphic novel – what else? – X-Men: Days of Future Past. The graphic novel is a compilation of X-Men issues 138-143 and Annual 4.

Relive the legendary first journey into the dystopian future of 2013 – where Sentinels stalk the Earth, and the X-Men are humanity’s only hope…until they die! Also featuring the first appearance of Alpha Flight, the return of the Wendigo, the history of the X-Men from Cyclops himself…and a demon for Christmas!?

The Days of Future Past arc is covered in issues 141 and 142. Take a read of the story, compare that to the movie and you’ll see immediate differences right away. It’s a great read and time travel is always incredibly thought-provoking. You’ll also get to enjoy the superb artwork of John Byrne and the embellishments of Terry Austin as well as the story telling abilities of Chris Claremont.

Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star
Everyone’s been rooting for Nikki Maxwell and her crush, Brandon—and fans will finally learn if they had their first kiss in this seventh book of the New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!

Nikki’s juggling a lot this month. A reality TV crew is following Nikki and her friends as they record their hit song together, plus there are voice lessons, dance practice, and little sister Brianna’s latest wacky hijinks. Nikki’s sure she can handle everything, but will all the excitement cause new problems for Nikki and Brandon, now that cameras are everywhere Nikki goes?

We also have Dork Diaries and Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Spanish.

12 Years a Slave (DVD)
Based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.

So come down to the Library and check out these and other new items!