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CSBG Archive

Gimmick or Good? – Superman The Wedding Special #1

WeddingAlbum_coverIn this column, Mark Ginocchio (from Chasing Amazing) takes a look at the gimmick covers from the 1990s and gives his take on whether the comic in question was just a gimmick or whether the comic within the gimmick cover was good. Hence “Gimmick or Good?” Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far. We continue with the embossed cover for Superman The Wedding Special #1…

Superman The Wedding Album (published December 1996) – story by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, David Michelinie, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern; Art by John Byrne, Terry Austin, Kerry Gammill, Murphy Anderson, Gil Kane, Bob McLeod, Stuart Immonen, Jose Marzan Jr., Paul Ryan, Brett Breeding, Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke, Kieron Dwyer, Doug Hazlewood, Tom Grummett, Denis Rodier, Dick Giordano, Art Thibert, Jim Mooney, George Perez, Curt Swan, Jackson Guice, Nick Cardy, Al Plastino, Barry Kitson, Ray McCarthy, Ron Frenz, Joe Rubinstein, Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway

Superman had been through a lot during the 1990s – a much ballyhooed death, followed by a lengthy resurrection and then the loss of his powers during the Final Night crossover. But the end of 1996 marked a happier time for the Man of Steel, as DC, in coordination with the Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman television series, decided to pull the trigger and marry Superman to his long-time sweetheart Lois Lane in a special one-shot, bringing together a score of writers and nearly every single living artist who ever worked on a Superman comic. In addition to the star-studded cast, Superman The Wedding Album featured a white embossed cover.

But what about inside the comic?

Wedding comics are typically schmaltzy affairs, so judging a comic like The Wedding Album for a feature like “Gimmick or Good?” is a tough task because the issue in question was designed specifically to draw in casual readers and fans of the Lois & Clark television series. The story is not meant to be overly deep or philosophical, just light and fun. Generally, the comics I’ve found to be the most problematic since I started doing this column nearly a year ago are those that lack substance, but still take themselves way too seriously. And considering the amount of money some early 90s books like X-Force #1 and Superman #75 and Youngblood #1 had made their publishers, it probably behooved Marvel, DC and Image to take these projects very seriously.

WeddingAlbum_03

But DC treats The Wedding Album like the frivolously joyous celebration that it is. It’s a wedding – the union of two characters in Lois Lane and Clark Kent that have been associated with each other in comics, movies and television for so long that they had become the pop culture equivalent of common law. There’s a little bit of superhero conflict within the issue, with the bulk of it stemming from the fact that Superman is still without his powers from the events of Final Night, but the real drama focuses on the human beings within the story. And their problems are very un-superheroic. Will Lois’s estranged father ruin the wedding? Is Clark mad at Jimmy Olsen for leaving the Daily Planet for another newspaper? How will Lois and Clark possibly spend their time on their honeymoon? It’s all a far cry from the token end of the universe scenarios we got a steady diet of during this era, but I can’t say that’s necessarily a bad thing.

There’s plenty to pick apart about this comic if you want to spend your time doing that. Certain moments don’t get the appropriate amount of build-up or development that they should. For example, in the beginning, Lois, who a year prior broke off her engagement to Clark, shows up at the Daily Planet and sees her ex for the first time in a year. After some initially tense conversation, she learns he no longer has powers and accepts his proposal.

WeddingAlbum_01

Meanwhile, the comic is filled with wedding issue/episode/scene clichés galore: feuding in-laws, surprise bridal showers and bachelor parties, to the inevitable build-up to the obvious “I now pronounce you husband and wife” ending. Unpredictable, this story ain’t.

Truth be told, I enjoyed reading Wedding Album in a Golden/Silver Age throwback kind of way. Sure, the calories are mostly empty, and the whole thing was rendered moot by 2011’s Flashpoint event, but every once in a while you need a comic that’s low-stress enjoyment. Even Batman takes an issue off from his dark and gritty persona just to wish Superman the best of luck before his nuptials (and to secure Lois and Clark a new apartment owned by Wayne Enterprises).

WeddingAlbum_02

Miraculously, having a plethora of writers and artists who each have very distinct styles isn’t the tonal train wreck it could have been. Sure, the artistic styles vary from page to page, but they’re not so divergent that you get disconnected from the central story. As a nod to everything he did for the character in the 90s, Dan Jurgens gets the final few pages, including a gatefold back cover showing the Lois and Clark kiss, which echoes the “Death of Superman” spread of Lois cradling Superman in her arms.

WeddingAlbum_04

I would never confuse this comic as a contender for any “greatest stories of all time list” (though it did rank on CSBG’s Top 75 Superman stories list last year), but it’s hard to get overly angsty about something that’s just not complicated. There’s a reason why peanut butter and jelly on white bread is a comfort food, and The Wedding Album doesn’t mislead anyone into thinking they should be getting anything more upscale on the menu.

Verdict: Good

26 Comments

Damn straight it was good, duh!

I thought it was good. I also thought that DC would use the opportunity for Lois to get pregnant since Clark was de-powered at the time.

Seems even better considering the Superman we have now…

it was good better then the trash we now have called superman dc comics has when off the deep in

Jurgens did a lot for Supes in the 90s, but it’s all so forgetable.
Any guidelines to tell the creators as guests?

Bought this when it came out. Issue was pretty mediocre. Best thing about it was the HE CUT HIS FUCKING HAIR.

Forgettable? Jurgens did tons of memorable Superman storylines, like Exile, Day of the Krypton Man, Panic in the Sky, Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey, and The Death of Clark Kent,.

Something’s been puzzling me–why was Lois brown-haired for most of the 90’s?

I miss the “triangle number” days. Things weren’t too bad when we entered the Jeph Loeb/Joe Kelly days either (though they really went downhill after that), but the overall period from 1990 to 1999 was a very distinct and memorable period.

Something’s been puzzling me–why was Lois brown-haired for most of the 90?s?

Byrne changed the hair color when he rebooted Superman in the mid-80s. He was inspired by Fleischer Studios’ take on Lois in their Superman cartoons. They had her as brown-haired.

@Adam —

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone claim that 90s Superman was anything other than crap before.

If I remember correctly, they even managed to work in some previously unpublished pages by the late Curt Swan so that Swan could be a part of the wedding celebration!

[…] feeling romantic, so for my latest edition of Gimmick or Good? at the Comics Should Be Good blog I put the spotlight on the all-white embossed cover of 1996′s Superman the Wedding Album. This issue, which featured a who’s who of comic book creators on script and pencils, shows […]

A Retired cop in Texas

February 15, 2014 at 12:03 am

” the whole thing was rendered moot by 2011’s Flashpoint event”, sums up my entire 40 year love of DC comics. But alas it doesnt remove my memeory of the pandering image of then DC head Jenette Kahn leering in the background, after her triump of gutting the Green Lanter Corps and handing the last ring to a drunk puking in an alley. That entertainment!

There! Thanks thats been building for decades! I feel better till some one says “the NEW 52!” :-(

I loved this book… around the time it arrived on store shelves Bog & Janke did a signing for this issue and I was able to get both covers as well as a few other oddball Man of Steel issues signed by both of them… Both of them were very nice to me and signed the 6 or so books I had which was great… That said, when my sister decided to get in line afterwards and only one of them would sign the book (I forget who signed it) but the guy who didn’t basically told her off and that he was tired. Turned her away from comics completely after that…

DC/Superman was by far, better in the 90s… Not every story was amazing but leaps and bounds better than new52 jackassman.

I remember 90s Superman as being great until it wasn’t.

TIme and Time Again: A-/B+
Panic in the Sky: A
Death: B
Funeral: A
Reign/ Return: A
Battle for Metropolis: B+ (but maybe A- when you take into account how well it built on the past)
Worlds Collide: A

… and then Conduit happened. And then “Dead Again.” And then Conduit some more. And then “Trial.” And then Red-Blue. And then Millennium Giants. Nothing above a C in the whole batch.

Cringing 90ties dialogue.

Byrne changed the hair color when he rebooted Superman in the mid-80s. He was inspired by Fleischer Studios’ take on Lois in their Superman cartoons. They had her as brown-haired.

I thought it was inspired, not by the cartoons, but by the Auburn-haired Noel Neill, who played Lois on “the Adventures of Superman.”

I thought it was inspired, not by the cartoons, but by the Auburn-haired Noel Neill, who played Lois on “the Adventures of Superman.”

I am pretty sure Byrne cited the Fleischer cartoon specifically, but sure, I could believe Neill was an influence, as well!

Lois was coloring her hair in the comics then. It was black when she first appeared in Man Of Steel 2.

“Any guidelines to tell the creators as guests?”

There was a guide in the comic pointing out who was who. Most of them were from the then-current creative teams on the Superman titles, but Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are also in there.

Lois was coloring her hair in the comics then. It was black when she first appeared in Man Of Steel 2.

Huh, so Byrne even gave an in-story explanation for the hair color change! Neat!

Can confirm 100% that Byrne’s Lois Lane was based on/influenced by the Fleischer cartoon version. He’s even said so himself. Those animated shorts were a big influence on his run in general and he’s brought this up in interviews before.

I own this but I have never read it. May have to give it a go. (It was 10p)

@Brian Cronin
I do not think Byrne ever had anyone actually say it out loud, but yes, he had her with black hair and then it changed. I think Man Of Steel 5 had the first auburn Lois.

If I remember right, when her hair went back to black some one did comment on her not coloring it/going back (around 2002-3 I think).

@ Anonymous (the second one)
I think a lot of Superman readers consider the 90s a high point for the character (up to energy powers at least).

Lois’ hair was black throughout “Man of Steel,” but was re-colored as brunette for the collected edition.

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