Tuesday, June 12, 2012

'Superman vs. the Elite' updates classic comic story

One of the biggest questions that has always plagued comic book fans is why heroes don't just kill some super villains, instead of arresting them so they can come back and terrorize more citizens.

In the Superman story "What's so Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way" writer Joe Kelly introduces The Elite, a team of heroes who kill villains, becoming judge, jury and executioner. This idea does not sit well with the Man of Steel and a confrontation is inevitable.

In DC Animation's latest film "Superman vs. The Elite" Kelly brings his critically acclaimed story to life.

George Newbern returns to voice Superman, "NCIS" star Pauley Perrette is Lois Lane and accomplished voice actor Robin Atkin Downes is Manchester Black, leader of the Elite.

What makes the story so fascinating is that it poses very real questions in the guise of a fictional comic book world. For Kelly it was answering these questions that drove him to write the original comic.

"The germ for the story really came from a very visceral reaction I had to a comic I was reading at the time – 'The Authority.' It was a dark anti-hero comic," Kelly said.

"I really like the Authority and its characters, but there was an issue in particular that felt like it had pushed the boundaries of what makes a hero and what makes anti-hero. I found myself getting ‘fanboy mad,’ which I don’t normally get," Kelly continued. "We had an anniversary issue, and I asked Eddie (Berganza) if we could directly address those characters. I wanted Superman to take those characters on. And that became the germ for 'Action Comics 775.'"

Of course the original story was told in a single issue, so Kelly had to expand things a bit to fit a film script.

"We wrote a lot of new content for the film, and it was funny looking back at the comic because I forgot how much is discussed rather than shown. There’s so much going on between the panels," Kelly said. "It was very exciting to get to see the action sequences that were just hinted at. I’d always seen them in my head, now I get to see them played out in animation."

So does Kelly agree with The Elite's quick justice or Superman's more civilized ideals.

"I’m definitely more in the Superman camp. There are plenty of people I get angry about, and the eye-for-an-eye mentality does flash though my head. I think it does for anybody. But at the end of the day, I do believe we need to aspire to higher ideals. Maybe I’m being naive, and I may not be able to achieve those ideals myself, but we must make the attempt," he said.

"Superman vs. The Elite" is out on DVD and video on demand today.

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