Everything about Superman: The Movie was larger
than life, from the pyrotechnic destruction of Krypton to
the "spin the world backwards" climax, so it only
made sense that any DC publication celebrating the film
would have to be just as huge.
So it was that the tabloid-format All-New Collectors'
Edition C-62 featured neither reprints of old comics
nor new comic content, but instead served as a scrapbook
of interviews, behind-the-scenes trivia and scores of black-and-white
and color photos from what was termed on the cover -- with
blushing modesty -- "The Most Spectacular Movie
I must have been pretty caught up in the excitement over
this film back in 1978, otherwise I wouldn't have shelled
out the princely sum of $2.50 for this book. The bulk of
the content is photos from the movie and text that attempts,
with limited success, to tie it to the comics which inspired
it. The story of Krypton's destruction, for instance, is
a constant in most interpretations of the legend, even if
Richard Donner's Krypton looked nothing like DC's, but beyond
that it's a strain to reconcile the film with established
comics canon. Where's Superboy? Why did Pa Kent die but
not Ma? Is that supposed to be Jor-El's ghost advising Superman?
There's a four-page, Neal Adams-drawn diagram of the Fortress
of Solitude in this book, complete with giant dinosaur,
interplanetary zoo and an ocean liner hanging from the ceiling;
so how come in photos the movie Fortress looks like a big
empty pile of Pick-Up Sticks™?
At one point there's a two-page spread showing the Superman
cast of characters next to photos of the actors who play
them in the film. In almost no case is there even a slight
resemblance. One highlight of the book for me, then and
now, is a trio of photos showing original (serial) Superman
Kirk Alyn and his "Lois Lane,"
Noel Neill. In a neat nod to Superman history,
Alyn and Neill are cast as the parents of a young Lois Lane.
In the "Smallville" section of the film, the Lanes
are taking a cross-country train trip when Lois spots the
teenaged Clark Kent outrunning the train. The scene was
greatly trimmed in the theatrical release, but in some extended
versions you'll see Lois telling her parents what she's
witnessed, only to be lectured about her overactive imagination.
Another highlight of the book is production drawings like
these storyboards illustrating the bus rescue near the film's
climax. You don't usually see these things in full painted
color, and they're really quite lovely. I wouldn't have
minded if they'd used the whole book to tell the story of
the movie like this:
Then there are some nice drawings showing production designer
John Barry's concepts for Krypton and Jor-El's laboratory...
Also kind of fun is a page on "The Great Superman
Movie Contest" which, as fans of a certain
age will remember, promised to put winners in the movie
itself. In the fall of 1977, banners ran above the mastheads
of all DC titles alerting fans to the contest, which involved
clipping letters out of comics to form words, then mailing
the words to the DC offices.
We'll never know how many readers mutilated their comics
for a shot at stardom, but only two winners were selected
to visit the DC offices and yes, appear in the movie, and
we get to meet them here. I'd be hard-pressed to spot them
in the film itself, but if even Kirk (Superman) Alyn ended
up on the cutting room floor, why should a couple of fans
fare any better?
Rounding out the book are interviews with the cast. Here
we learn that Christopher Reeve went to
Julliard, starred on a soap as a bad guy and grew up as
a Superman fan. We learn Margot Kidder
fled life as a Montana housewife to pursue her movie career
(well, I never knew that, anyway).
And we learn that Marlon Brando was as
crazy as everyone always said he was, offering this cogent
insight on the making of the film: "We must preserve
the myth. There's no point hanging pumpkins on a morning
glory." Deep, Marlon. Really deep.
years later, DC gave Superman II the tabloid treatment
with DC Special Series #25. It's pretty much the
same sort of stuff as the first book, except now the price
has gone up, up and away to $2.95 (even Superman is powerless
In keeping with the increased emphasis on action in the
second film, this time out the cover is a frenetic mish-mash
of images showing Lois in peril and Superman in combat with
Kryptonian villains Zod, Ursa and Non.
Inside we once again have the attempts to draw parallels
to the comics (Phantom Zone villain Quex-Ul
looked a lot like Terrence Stamp's General
Zod), and the interviews with the stars (Reeve:
"This time we come out swinging." Stamp: "If
I weren't an actor, I could be dangerous").
This time, there's a lot less in the way of production
art, though we do get a storyboard image from the Eiffel
Tower rescue and another of Non and Ursa threatening to
pull Lois apart. There's also a pretty, if not very detailed
painted image of Superman flying Lois over the Metropolis
skyline at night, on the way to their hot date at the Fortress
of Solitude. Actually to me it looks more like the "Can
You Read My Mind" sequence in the first film, but whatever.
Otherwise, what do we get for the 45 cent price hike? Ads,
son. Full-page ads. Actually, I don't mind all that much,
as they have their own kooky appeal, especially the ad for
a Superman game cartridge for the Atari video game system
(you didn't miss anything, kids...the game was lame, trust
me). And in a weird way, it's almost worth the cover price
just to have the ad for a pair of exceedingly tacky "character
phones" featuring Superman and Wonder Woman
and ridiculously expensive even in 2009 dollars...
Besides the ugly colors and less-than-inspiring sculpting
(is that you, JFK?), the phones hardly seem practical. Notice
you have to reach behind the hero to lift the handset off
the base. Good luck if you have an incoming call and move
too fast picking that thing up; you'll probably break Superman's
cape. It is at least nice that they "plug directly
into standard Telco jacks" (otherwise you'd be stuck
with, in essence, a really goofy paperweight) but you have
to feel sorry for the money-conscious fans who opted to
save twenty bucks with the "rotary" option. Good
luck placing that call today, champ. And is it just me,
or does that insanely happy guy using the Superman phone
look a lot like DC President Sol Harrison?
Maybe I should ease up, though. The copy says it's "certain
to become a collectors' item." Wonder which collector