Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Superman 2000 Pitch: The Fortress

This is possibly my final commentary on the excerpts from the Morrison/Waid/Millar/Peyer Superman 2000 proposal. Chad Nevett and I have almost run out of bits to excerpt, and he'll probably wrap up the discussion later this week with one final segment. Here's my (probably final) new excerpt, from the section of the proposal titled "The Fortress" with some commentary by me (just to clarify, the block quotes come from the pitch, and the other stuff between the block quotes are my comments):
Superman's super-intelligence and increased speed of perception, etc., has left him with more time and brain cells to fill, so the Fortress becomes a place of baroque activity once more as Superman becomes the hobbyist par excellance, the polymath who's interested in EVERYTHING. The Fortress becomes trophy room, laboratory, gymnasium, observatory--the perfect hangout for the ultimate being. Let's see the Fortress stuffed with incredible artifacts from all space and time. The Titanic hangs from the ceiling (Supes and Lois dine in the great staterooms, overlooking the wonders of the Fortress).
Superman's laboratory contains the Superman Molecule, where Superman engraves his personal diaries using heat vision through special goggles which reduce its bandwidth. The stories on the Superman Molecule are all told by Superman himself and allow us to see the world via his incredible senses: "The alcohol on his breath killed exactly 15 billion bacteria. There was no way I could save them. I did my best to patch up a liver malfunction during a microscopic high-speed scan of his body..."
Geoff Johns has reclaimed some of the spectacle of the Fortress of Solitude in his Action Comics run, but Morrison's All-Star Superman has really taken advantage of the Fortress as Superman's ultimate laboratory/hang-out. Either this section of the pitch was written primarily by Morrison, or he was heavily inspired by it, because you'll see that this Fortress aspect of the Superman 2000 proposal deeply informs his recent Superman work.
Elsewhere lies access to The Phantom Zone Vault, with its weird maps of this odd, infinite region of unspace originally used by Kryptonians to house artifacts and weapons. (The Phantom Zone sectors currently mapped by Superman include the site of Prometheus's Crooked House and the region where the White Martian Mothership is docked. The Zone will be colonized by the 30th century and become known as Tesseract Space.) The idea here is to emphasize the outrageousness of Superman's Herculean pastimes--he's seriously making maps of an infinite region of apparent nothingness. In the same Vault, the Phantom Zone Telescope is a machine which allows Superman to observe the eerie world of Phantom Supermen left here after THE KINGDOM.

Superman's Impossible Room opens into a transtemporal flaw. Here, Superman is able to rendezvous with his descendants, members of the Superman Squad from upcoming eras.

The Infant Universe of Qwewq, saved from Wonderworld by the JLA. This microscopic, living universe needs "care and feeding" and Superman spends long hours observing events here. He even descends into the nanoscopic Earth of Qwewq for occasional adventures as "Hyperman," the only superhero in that universe. (Qwewq is OUR universe, though we never mention it, and here, in our real world, Superman has adventures on a planet where he can never, ever reveal himself or tell people who he is or what he is.)
The Superman Squad members from the future. Qwewq as our universe. These are spot-on references to what Morrison has just done in All-Star. One wonders if All-Star #12 will involve Superman entering our world as "Hyperman."
There's a Krypton Museum which has a huge floating globe of the lost planet reconstructed from the holographic memory traces in the resonant atomic structure of Superman's rocketship (whose metal, being part of the atomic structure of lost Krypton, "remembers" the atomic structure of lost Krypton. Superman and his robots are now sophisticated enough to perform archaeological forays into ambient molecular memory and slowly reconstruct the glorious landmarks of the doomed planet). "You can even see Fort Rozz, Krypton's Mobile Arsenal, and there's the Quantum Jungle moving rapidly across the face of the planet..." etc.
Huge solar batteries collect the Antarctic sun during the long summer days. Sometimes, Superman bathes in the rays of the huge solar collector. Suspended between the giant mirrors, Superman could perhaps even super-charge his cells with extra solar power before a serious battle.

The Living Library is Superman's complete DNA record of every species he has ever encountered.

Close by will be Superman's Bizarro Habitat, where Superman keeps poor, deformed creatures mutated by the attack of the Cube Earth--Bizarro dogs and cats and rhinos, whatever. He tries to make their pitiful, illogical lives as comfortable as he can, all the while seeking an antidote to the Bizarro plague.

The Fortress also includes titanic memorial statues of Jor-El and Lara, a Gallery of Foes, new upgraded versions of Kelex and the other Fortress robots, Superman's JLA Boom Tube generator and anything else that occurs as we proceed. Fragments of his rocket. The Electro-Supes suit. His "Hyperman" costume. A "KLTPZYXM" word balloon left by Mr. Mxyzptlk. The emphasis is on cool stuff. A Fortress we can do cutaway diagrams of again. The ultimate treehouse. The greatest den known to man.
The more I read this, the more obvious it is that this is deeply Morrisonian. This is his version of Superman, as a fetishist of the fantastic. This Fortress is far more vast, though, than anyone has ever expressed in any comic book story. Johns hasn't taken the Fortress this far, and even Morrison hasn't taken it as far as he and the team proposed here. It certainly celebrates the wonder of the Superman universe, and that's something that was missing from the character throughout the late 1980s and 1990s.


Chad Nevett said...

You are right, it looks like I'll wrap it up tomorrow. I can see two short sections that haven't been posted yet--maybe a third, but I'll have to look back through our posts to check.

Also, the Fortress discussed here is very similar to the one from the Silver Age. For example, the diary then was giant and written in Kryptonian. Or, he had rooms devoted to his parents (both sets), Lois, Jimmy, and even Clark Kent--to, you know, protect his secret identity. Morrison used the super-heavy key, which was from the Silver Age, too, except the key was giant (apparently, it would take 100 men to lift it).

I don't think we'll see Hyperman soon, just because that would undermine the message Morrison was trying to get across in issue ten about our world needing to invent Superman since he doesn't exist here. Having Hyperman show up would kill that.

monstermike said...

First of all, hearty thanks to both Tim and Chad! I've wanted to read this stuff for a few years now, and it's great to see, especially now that Morrison's All Star and Waid's Birthright (not to mention Geoff Johns on Action - he has to have read this) have used some of these ideas.

When all is said and done, will we have seen the complete pitch, more or less? I've been compiling the excerpts into a Word document, and I'm wondering about how the complete thing is laid out as far as the order of the sections and the general format.

Thanks again!

Chad Nevett said...

Mike, we'll have posted the entire proposal. I just looked through the document and marked off what we've quoted to see what's left, and I will deal with those short sections in my post tomorrow.

Marc Caputo said...

I'm really going to go over these again with a fine-tooth read over the next few days.

But, and I'm serious when I ask this, how about taking on Alan Moore's Twilight proposal next?

Timothy Callahan said...

Mike: I can post a "table of contents" list to show the format of the proposal one Chad's done with his final post (and we see if we've missed anything).

Marc: The Twilight proposal is available online, though, and the Superman 2000 proposal wasn't. But it might be worth looking at, especially in relation to Kingdom Come or other versions of DC's future. Chad--are you interested in that idea?

Chad Nevett said...

Well, first, I can guarantee we'll have covered every last bit of the "Superman 2000" pitch.

Second, um... only if it involves some actual planning. Although, our random, no plan whatsoever manner for this did seem to work out alright.

monstermike said...

Thanks! I've really enjoyed this.

Marc Caputo said...

Talk about synchronicity! In Brian Cronin's Comic Book Urban Legends #162, posted yesterday, he talks about Alan Moore's Twilight.

Weird, huh?

Chad Nevett said...

Mike (and anyone else), I did put up the final sections in a post on Friday and just now posted a table of contents that outlines how the pitch was laid out with links to all of our posts.