Tuesday, April 17, 2018

THE TEN GREATEST SUPERMAN STORIES EVER TOLD

Entertainment

DC Comics celebrates the 80th anniversary of the publication of ACTION COMICS #1 with the publication of the celebratory ACTION COMICS #1000 on April 18 this week—exactly 80 years to the date since the first issue hit the newsstands.  The original ACTION COMICS #1 had a cover date of June 1938 which leads many to think it must have hit the newsstands around the country in June but according to testimony in an old lawsuit between DC Comics and Bruns Publications, the on-sale date for the comic book was April 18, 1938.   That single comic book, cover priced 10¢, introduced readers to such unforgettable characters as "Chuck Dawson", "Sticky-Mitt Stimson", "'Pep' Morgan", "Scoop Scanlon" among others and in recent years has sold in auction for over $3 million!

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot to mention that ACTION COMICS #1 notes the first appearance of a super-strong defender of the weak leaping around in circus tights and a cape—Superman!   In a 13-page story written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Joe Shuster (a reworked version of their failed attempt at selling the concept as a newspaper comic strip), they introduced the world to Clark Kent.  Kent was sent to Earth as an infant in a rocket ship by his parents right before their unnamed home planet was "destroyed by old age."  Crashing onto Earth, the baby was found and turned over to an orphanage where he amazed everyone with his "feats of strength."   Once fully grown, he found he could leap 1/8 a mile and hurdle tall buildings in a single bound, outrun a train, lift "tremendous weights," and "nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin."  Kent determined that with such great powers came a great responsibility (that sounds marvelously familiar) and created his "Superman" persona as a champion of the weak and the oppressed.  And in that first story he does this dramatically by saving a woman about to be executed for a crime she did not commit, protecting a woman being beaten by her husband, and rescuing ace news reporter Lois Lane from a gangster who had abducted her.

The sales numbers and popularity indicate that the appearance of the first cape-clad super-hero struck a chord with the public and sparked a phenomenon that has never disappeared.  After Superman appeared there was a literal glut of copycats and derivatives that began appearing month after month that tended to be based on one directive:  "Bring me something like this Superman guy."  While 80 years of comic books have brought thousands upon thousands of other super-heroes, some of whom have arguably become more popular than Superman himself, none of them will ever be able to claim to be first.  Superman was the first.  All else are derived from him in some capacity.  In 80 years, a lot has changed about Superman, especially whenever DC decides he is losing relevancy and makes some major change.  But eventually the cycle shifts and things always seem to roll back to the basic conceptual elements and look.   The concept is so basic and archetypal that it can morph itself to fit into whichever cultural mileau it exists within, which is why the character of Superman is always relevevant even if comic book, film, and TV writers may not always understand how to tell relevant stories.  The failure is on the writers and not on the concept or the character himself.

In light of this unprecedented pop-culture event—the 80th Anniversary of Superman—I wanted to shine a focus light on my list of the 10 greatest single-stories about Superman ever told in comics.   Some of these stories span more than one issue but the key aspect of each is that it is a complete story that stands apart from the weight and the mass of the tens of thousands of stories that have been published featuring Superman.

10.  SECRET ORIGINS #1 "The Secret Origin of the Golden-Age Superman"
Writer: Roy Thomas
Artists: Wayne Boring (pencils)/Jerry Ordway (inks)

This is essentially the last-ever full on retelling of the very first Superman story (from ACTION #1) but fully informed by additional elements added to the character by his co-creator Jerry Siegel in subsequent stories.  These additional elements include the name of his home planet, Krypton, and his Kryptonian name (Kal-L), the inclusion of his adoption by the Kents, and the naming of the newspaper that Lois (and later Clark) work for—The Daily Star.  Note that the changes to his name (Kal-L to Kal-El) and the changes to the name of the newspaper (Daily Star to Daily Planet) were elements that came later.  These original elements were relegated to the "Earth 2" Superman.  In DC continuity, this became their built-in explanation for the differences between the original "Golden Age" versions of their characters and the modern "Silver Age" versions.

Since this version of the origin appeared after CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, it became the last official retelling of the golden age origin because post-CRISIS, DC had removed Earth 2 from their continuity thus erasing the Golden Age Superman at the same time.  As writer, Roy Thomas, wrote on the splash page:  "The CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS is ended....but the paradoxes remain.  Even flourish. These are stories which need telling, and they shall be told.  But perhaps the most perplexing, the most poignant of these paradoxes is the passing of the original Superman from the collective memory of virutally all mankind...but we remember him...and this is his story. His first story."

Roy Thomas, a child of the golden age, and a writer who was there during the rise of DC's chief competitor Marvel Comics (even Editor-In-Chief at one point) brought to the writing a nostalgic love and a modern eye.  He wisely paired one of Superman's primary artists from those early years so many decades earlier, Wayne Boring, to pencil the story and current fan-favorite inker, Jerry Ordway, to pair together for the art.   The three of them created the definitive version of the Golden Age Superman and it still stands tall as one of the best retellings of one of the most familiar stories of all time.

9. ACTION COMICS #554 "If Superman Didn't Exist"
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Gil Kane

This story stands out first of all because of the art by one of the all-time greats, Gil Kane.  Kane is an artist known for his dynamic anatomy and superior design ethic (he designed the Green Lantern costume worn by Hal Jordan, for example).  In a world where our history has been rewritten and humans have lost their violent tendencies because we were conquered by aliens thousands of years ago, there are no heroes to be found.  No Superman. No Batman. No Wonder Woman.  This is a world where the heroic ideal never arrived.  It is within this context that 2 young boys, Jerry and Joe, conceive of an idea.  That idea is expressed artistically by young Joe who draws their new hero on a cave wall; their Superman who is really strong, can fly because his cape captures the wind, and does only what is right.  Their creation magically comes to life, inspiring humanity and freeing them from the control of the aliens—even demonstrating empathy and understanding for the aliens and their own plight.  
The story is really an exploration of the deeper impact that a character like Superman can have beyond just entertainment.  It also serves as a beautiful way to honor Jerry (Siegel) and Joe (Shuster), who originally created Superman.

8. SUPERMAN #230 "Killer Kent Versus Super Luthor"
SUPERMAN #231 "The Wheel of Super-Fortune!"
Writer: Cary Bates
Artists: Curt Swan (pencils)/Dan Adkins (inks)

In this "imaginary tale" two-parter, we encounter a Superman who is not Kal-El but rather Lex-El.  In this new version of the story, driven mad with grief over the loss of his wife, Jor-El commits an act of genocide and destroys his home planet of Krypton.  He escapes the destruction with his son Lex-El in a rocketship bound for Earth.  After landing, Jor-El adopts the identity of a small town doctor in Smallville and puts a wig on Lex to protect his identity as he starts his career as the quite-bald Superboy.
Clark Kent is the son of 2 notorious bank robbers who pay a criminal scientist to implant a stimulant in Kent's brain that will guarantee that no matter how he is raised, he will be "the greatest criminal who ever lived."

Young Clark and Lex become best friends but Jor-El flips out again and insanely tries to destroy Smallville.  Through a complicated series of events, we get to the point of Lex becoming a reporter for the Daily Planet, meeting Lois Lane who has no love for Superman—only for Kent, and a galvanized "Killer" Kent wielding a machine gun and swearing to destroy Superman. 
Kent and Superman engage in a series of conflicts until Kent learns Superman's secret identity and launches one last attack.  Superman ultimately prevails and the brain implant in Kent short-circuits killing him.  Once Kent has died, Lois's head clears and she loses her feelings for him, Superman realizes that her brainwaves were being inadvertently manipulated by the implant in Kent's brain putting her into a suggestible state whenever she was around Kent.  The story ends with a close-up of Kent's body as Superman's voice-over intones: "Tragic...only in death is Clark free of the awful curse of Markem's Chromo-Stimulant...Free from the evil that tortured his and distorted his face into a look of hate!"

7.  SUPERMAN ANNUAL #11 "For the Man Who Has Everything..."
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Dave Gibbons

Widely recognized as one of the most popular Superman stories ever written.  This story has been adapted into at least one animated adaptation in JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED and one live-action adaptation on the SUPERGIRL tv series.   Why does this story resonate so much?  I think Ian Dawes at Sequart nailed it when he noted here that it is essentially THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST but with Superman instead of Jesus.   Both stories illustrate the "necessity of a heroic figure to choose to suffer...to sacrifice something of [himself] in order to make that gesture."

In brief, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman visit Superman in his Fortress of Solitude bearing gifts for his birthday.  What they discover upon arrival is a catatonic Superman with a strange alien plant attached to his chest.   The plant, we later learn is called the "Black Mercy," is a parasite that survives by attaching to its host body and infiltrating the host's mind to determine their deepest heart's desire and letting the fantasy unfold.  Like the humans in THE MATRIX, the host is unaware that the fantasy is not the reality, and because the fantasy is their deepest desire then they are not necessarily inclined to try and fight it. 
As the heroes attempt to determine what the plant is and how to free Superman, we see what is happening inside of Superman's mind.  He is living his life on a Krypton that never exploded and is married with a son and a daughter.   Batman risks his own life to rip the Black Mercy off of his friend but winds up with it on his own chest.  The reader sees Bruce Wayne's deepest desire, in which his father overpowered the criminal and his parents were never killed.  Before the plant is torn from Batman's chest, he grows up and is happily married with a teenaged son.

The story climaxes when the alien villain, Mongul, who sent the Black Mercy to Superman winds up with the flower on his own chest and sees himself as having murdered Superman and all the heroes and hailed as the new emperor of Warworld.

6. SUPERMAN #296-299
Writers:  Cary Bates & Elliot S. Maggin
Artists: Curt Swan (pencils)/Bob Oksner (inks)/Bob Wiacek (partial inks on #297)

I'm not sure if this was the first time that DC did a complete story that spanned 4 complete issues, but it still stands strong as one of the first and best explorations of the deep tension between the Clark Kent and the Superman identities.   In Part 1, "Who Took the Super Out of Superman!," an alien named Xviar effects a change in Superman in which he only has his powers after he puts on his costume (think GREATEST AMERICAN HERO).  Superman, unaware of Xviar's meddling, determines that it must be his body telling him that he needs to choose either Superman or Clark rather than continue as both.   There are some fantastic moments in this issue, including the moment where Clark saves someone by allowing himself to be clipped by a car, then unexpectedly waking up in a hospital afterward as a needle is inserted in his arm.   Before he realizes that he regains his powers when he puts on his costume, there is a funny scene as he exits the hospital by slipping his costume on and moseying through the halls.

In Part 2, "Clark Kent Forever—Superman Never!," Superman decides to live for one week as only the non-powered Clark Kent.  Without powers, Clark finds himself becoming more assertive and confident since he does not have to hide his powers anymore.  He stands up to the workplace bully, Steve Lombard.  He tells off his boss, Morgan Edge.  He even single-handedly breaks up an Inter-Gang operation.  And most notably, he asks out Lois on a date and she finds herself actually falling for Clark finally.  Their first real kiss sweeps her off her feet. 

LOIS: "Clark, where have you been all my life?"
CLARK: "Would you believe...the office next door?"

Smooth, Clark.

Part 3, "Clark Kent, Get Out of My Life!", is the week where Superman decides to be a full-time Superman—no Clark Kent.  A new villain, Solarman, arrives on the scene and Superman takes him down.  While Clark is absent from his apartment for the week, Xviar takes that opportunity to sneak in there and swipe some hi-tech equipment that Superman had stored in a hidden closet.   A dramatic moment occurs when a goon from Inter-Gang, desiring revenge on Kent, also breaks into Clark's apartment while Xviar is in there.  Xviar promptly disintegrates him.  We also discover that Xviar's plan in doing this to Superman was to distract him long enough for Xviar to gather together the equipment he needs to destroy Earth.

In Part 4, "The Double-or-Nothing Life of Superman!", the alien Xviar pits Superman against 9 of his greatest villains.  He has irradiated Superman's costume such that with each use of his powers to defeat a villain he is building up towards an explosion of power and energy such that when he delivers that final punch Superman himself will inadvertently destroy the planet.  Thankfully, Superman figures out the plot and does not utilize his super powers to defeat the final villain and simply has to wait for the radiation to fade away before capturing Xviar and delivering him to a space prison.

In the end, Superman self-actualizes:  "Poor Lois--I tried to decide whether Clark or Superman is more important...and I realized that to do away with one would be to kill half of myself—whoever I really am!  So even before I got rid of my power problem, I'd decided meek, mild-mannered Clark Kent will still walk the streets of the city...while up in the sky...the world will still watch and thrill to the sight of...a job for Superman!"

5. SUPERMAN #423 & ACTION COMICS #583
"Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
Writer: Alan Moore
Artists: Curt Swan (pencils)/George Pérez (inks SUPERMAN #423)/Kurt Schaffenberger (inks ACTION #583)

In 1986, DC Comics decided to restart Superman from scratch with THE MAN OF STEEL mini-series by writer/artist John Byrne.  This was the first intentional reboot of the character.  This story was the final story about the version of Superman we had all known before.  When speaking of Superman we would now speak of pre- and post-MAN OF STEEL.

Alan Moore delivered a story that began in the future (1997) with a reporter interviewing Lois Lane about the last days of Superman's life before he disappeared 10 years before.  As the story goes, there was a period of time in which most of Superman's villains had either died or just sort of disappeared.  But then there is a horrific breakdown of expectations as some of his least dangerous enemies (such as Bizarro, Toyman, Prankster) reappear but take on murderous activities.   Luthor brings back Brainiac as Superman gathers up his circle of friends and family and hides them safely within his Fortress of Solitude.  

There is an assault by the Legion of Super-Villains and a creepy Brainiac-controlled Luthor attack.  At one point, Luthor begs Lana to kill him, which she does but Brainiac continues on using Luthor's body as a puppet.  In the course of the battle, all of Superman's friends are killed except for Perry White, his wife, and Lois. 

The villain behind it all is revealed to be a distorted version of Mr. Mxyzptlk who had decided the time had come to stop just being mischievous but to become fully evil.  Because he is so powerful, Superman is pushed to the point of having to kill him.  To self-punish, Superman subjects himself to Gold Kryptonite to strip himself of his powers then disappears into the Arctic wasteland presumably to die.

The story concludes by letting us know what the reporter does not realize—that Lois's husband, Jordan Elliot, is actually the unpowered Clark Kent in disguise.  And we see their young son Jonathan playfully squeeze a piece of coal in his hand turning it into a diamond.

4:  SUPERMAN #300 "Superman 2001!"
Writers: Cary Bates & Elliot S. Maggin
Artists: Curt Swan (pencils)/Bob Oksner (inks)

In 1976, to celebrate the 300th issue of SUPERMAN comics, they published this story that imagined the world of 2001 where Kal-El's rocketship landed on earth in the year 1976.   The story of how he arrives on Earth is the same but once he arrives, he is not found by a kindly old couple but rather draws the attention of the U.S. and Soviet military.  Navy Lieutenant Thomas Clark is the one who recovers the ship.  The rocket is taken back to a military base where the super-powered young Kal-El climbs out.  General Kent Garrett has a costume made for the flying boy and gives him the name "Skyboy."

In the 1990s, Skyboy prevents a third world war from escalating but in the end, General Garrett dies and Skyboy decides to give up the costume and try to blend in with humanity as Clark Kent, reporter.   However, in 2001, a new plot against the world and a 4-armed android send Clark diving into the ocean to recover his old Skyboy costume.  Calling himself Superman he saves the world and defeats the android and disappears again.  This time, however, he's holding onto the possibility of returning if he is ever needed again.

A highlight of this comic book, in retrospect, is the vision of 2001 that artist Curt Swan visualized. Yes, there appear to be a lot of floating vehicles and male fashions that include flared collars and ascots.

3. ACTION COMICS #436
"The Super-Cigars of Perry White!"
Writer: Elliot S. Maggin
Artists: Curt Swan (pencils)/Vince Colletta (inks)

This comic is such a product of its times and so charming in its simplicity.  In gratitude for his helping Superman save some young mutants from the evil Calixto, the mutants decide to secretly give Perry White a box of cigars that have the ability to give him whatever super-powers he desires while he's smoking it.   The charm of watching Perry White getting to essentially be Superman for awhile, but all the while, chomping on a lit cigar is entirely as entertaining as you would expect.
In the end, he winds up with one super-cigar left and decides to put it in his vault...just in case:  "I, for one, don't want to have super-powers ever again!  That is, unless I absolutely need them!"

2. SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS #1-4
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale

Brilliantly structured, SUPERMAN FOR ALL SEASONS is told in 4 parts with each part being titled after a season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) and a different narrator, which also means an entirely different point of view.  The focus overall in this story is a grand overview of Superman.  Artistically this is accomplished with lots of gorgeous double-page spreads and large imagery through the simplified graphic lens of artist, Tim Sale.

Part 1 is narrated by Clark's adopted father, Jonathan Kent, and the emphasis is on Clark as...Clark.  The boy and the man he was before he became Superman.  Part 2 is narrated by Lois Lane and the focus is on the worldview-changing impact the presence of Superman was on her and on the entire city...and even the world.  Part 3 is narrated by Lex Luthor and keys in on how Luthor perceives himself and also how he so perfectly figures out ways to hurt Superman in psychological ways that tick away at the hero's self-confidence.   Part 4 is narrated by Lana Lang, the girl Clark left behind when he moved to Metropolis.  This is the full-circle part of the story where we get to see Superman now through the eyes of Clark's childhood love.  We see how the farmer's son is still the farmer's son while at the same time he is the world-changer—the Superman.

1. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #1-12
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Frank Quitely

This 12-issue story is the ultimate Superman story.  Structured on the 12 Labors of Hercules, writer Grant Morrison wanted to explore different aspects of the character's full history.  In a brilliantly effective manner, he and artist Frank Quitely squeeze the entire origin of Superman into a single page.  From that start point, the story takes off and tackles everything from the loss of Clark's adopted parents to silly confrontations with super-powered suitors attempting to steal Lois from him, to a dramatic encounter with various Supermen from the future, fellow Kryptonians attempting to conquer Earth, becoming stranded on Bizarro's crazy world and encountering the depressed normal Zibarro, and ultimately facing down Luthor for the last time and his own certain death.

Utterly and equally mythological, archetypal, nostalgic, modern, emotional, and as perfect a distillation of who Superman is and why he is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

AN OTTERLY COLORFUL LOOK AT U.S. PRESIDENTS is NOW AVAILABLE!

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A labor of love for the last 6 months as I've researched and cartooned all 45 presidents (with a plan to keep this book updated with new editions whenever the office turns over).



The goal for this educational coloring book is not to retread the same grounds that a student usually covers during their years in school or reading thick biographical volumes. This book takes a . . . unique approach which allows I THINK, THEREFORE I COLOR: AN OTTERLY COLORFUL LOOK AT U.S. PRESIDENTS to be different and a bit more fun. Within these pages there are notations included of the dates each president was in office and a selected quote or two. The focus, however, is more on sharing some lesser-known or forgotten interesting facts about each president. Of course, there are also otters. Few things are as cute and adorable as otters. Those playful mammals—members of the weasel family—that populate rivers and zoos have become a mainstay of the modern world of memes and video clips. So what could make learning some presidential history more fun than otters playfully dressed up like presidents? Not much! Have fun learning in the least painful way possible—coloring some very silly otters.

Only $12.99 at Amazon and Prime Members get Free Shipping.




ALSO AVAILABLE!

           

Thursday, June 15, 2017

NO FANTASTIC FOUR IN MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE.....OR MAYBE THERE IS?

Entertainment

In an alternate reality somewhere in the vast multiverse, Friday, June 9, 2017 saw 20th Century Fox (Fox) releasing FANTASTIC FOUR 2, their announced sequel to Josh Trank's interminably awful 2015 disaster on digital celluloid FANTASTIC FOUR.   Thankfully, for our reality, Fox's plans for a sequel have not only not materialized, by all accounts, they have not even been discussed much if at all.   But back in 2015, Fox sure did have some plans and they made sure we all knew about it!


That 2-year silence has led some comics fans, myself included (I even facetiously proposed a #OcuppyFF movement), wonder aloud whether Marvel Studios might be negotiating behind-the-scenes some sort of shared ownership of the FANTASTIC FOUR (FF) film license that would allow the FF characters to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Perhaps it was some sort of karmic harmonic confluence of some kind, but on the heels of this historic date passing us by like a failed prophesy date-setting for the Apocalypse, I noticed an influx of several clickbait-ey type posts online making the social media rounds declaring that MCU head, Kevin Feige, has made it explicitly clear that the FANTASTIC FOUR are not headed to the MCU from Fox—along the lines of a deal similar to that made with Sony that allowed SPIDER-MAN to have his "Homecoming" as a full-fledged member of the MCU after repeated film missteps in the Sonyverse.

Newsarama, a website devoted to comics industry news and commentary, posted the following report on June 13, 2017 with the bold headline "No FANTASTIC FOUR In MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE, Says KEVIN FEIGE"—

 According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, not only does Marvel have no plans to incorporate the Fantstic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the conversation isn't even on the table.
"[We have] no plans with the Fantastic Four right now," Feige told AlloCiné in a Facebook video. "No discussions about it."
Feige's comments come after a fan-submmited question echoed persistent rumors that the FF could appear in the MCU in a deal similar to the one Marvel struck with Sony to allow Spider-Man: Homecoming to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. . .

And so, the string of shares and comments on social media of comic book fans both cheering and lamenting began.  Either cheering because they hate the Fantastic Four characters or lamenting because their last, best hopes held out that "Phase 4" of the MCU might include the first family of the Marvel Universe finally "done right" on film seem utterly dashed by Feige's statement.

However, might I suggest that this is following a very familiar politician-like pattern as what went down when Marvel was quietly negotiating with Sony to get them to allow Spider-Man to appear in the MCU.  Fifteen months before it became "official" that Spider-Man was jumping from the Sonyverse to the MCU, Feige was dismissing the very idea, but as we all know, a multi-million (billion?) dollar negotiation like requires months, if not years, of lawyer haggling to get both sides to sign off. Note the similarity in Feige's words in this report from October 2013 when asked about the idea of Spider-Man joining the MCU:

Over at the French website Reviewer.fr, a new interview with Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has gone live. Appreciating that Feige is on the publicity rounds at the moment, and that interviews with him aren't in short supply, this nonetheless had one or two interesting bits in it that are worth pulling out.
Firstly, for instance, Feige confirms that there was a conversation about inserting Oscorp Tower into Joss Whedon's The Avengers film, which would have crossed the Spider-Man cinematic world (which is owned by Sony) with what Marvel is up to. Feige said in the end though that "the deal was never close to happening".
He also confirmed that there are no plans to bring Spider-Man into a future Marvel film. "They have movies they want to make, we have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Thor stories, and Cap stories, and Avengers stories", adding that "it would be cool to happen sometime. But I don't know when that would be"

The bottom line is just to say that when Feige says that there are "no plans with the Fantastic Four right now", that is the same turn of phrase as FBI Director Comey saying there are "currently no open investigations into the president."  "[N]o plans . . . right now" does not at all mean "no plans . . . ever."

So, until Fox craps out another FF movie to preserve their license, there's always hope that the next "Homecoming" will be Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben—THE FANTASTIC FOUR!



Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: THE YEAR MORE PEOPLE LIVED THAN DIED

Entertainment


So, 2016 has come to an end and I am just as guilty as everyone else for bad-mouthing this entire year.  The collective hatred and dread regarding 2016 reminds me of the infamous “Summer of the Shark.”  You remember that, right?  Back during the summer of 2001, there was a media feeding frenzy of ridiculous over-coverage of shark attacks and it blew the whole country up into hysteria over why shark attacks were increasing.  However, statistically, shark attacks on humans, in terms of actual numbers, were slightly less than average that year.  Of course, the coverage of shark attacks stopped completely when the twin towers came down on September 11.  That provided the media with some real meat to consume and they promptly stopped propping up a false story to get people to tune in to the news and to buy their papers.

Well, in 2016, it was even more insane because we now live in the world of social media dominance where “clicks” on stories and ads equal revenue, so the more “click bait” they can chum the waters of social media with the more money pours into their profit margins.  Kicking off 2016 with coverage of the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and a string of other near-forgotten former greats in entertainment, including the previously presumed immortal Abe Vigoda, all dying just within January appeared to set up a portent of great disaster for 2016.  And this stigma never seemed to shed, and I will share that I went and looked through the January celebrity deaths from the previous 15 years and it really was a remarkable (but arbitrary) grouping of celebrities that January 2016 in comparison to other Januaries.  However, this does not make 2016 a terrible year.  Every year has ups and downs.  I think the families of those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks of 2001 would have a very difficult time agreeing that 2016 was the worst year ever.


I say all of that to say this—while most articles and blogs reflecting on 2016 are going to focus on the negatives, I’m going to break that mold and instead refocus our memories and experiences on a few great and positive things that happened in 2016.  The best way to go forward into 2017 is to stop letting this collective negativity sour all of us over what was an historic year.  And it was historic in bad ways and in good ways.  Every year has deaths. Every year has wars. Every year has political victories and losses.  Every year is full of pain but it is also full of joy.  Let’s take a look back at 2016 in all her greatness!

IN 2016 . . .

Related imageA WOMAN WON THE POPULAR VOTE FOR PRESIDENT!
In 2016, the United States saw the first major political party nominate a female to run for president and even though she lost the electoral college count, she won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.  

Three. 

Million.  

That is historic and sets the stage for a very near future where the sex/gender of our presidential candidates are irrelevant in terms of qualifications.  

Image result for new prime numberA NEW PRIME NUMBER WAS DISCOVERED!
Mathematicians discovered the number  2^74,207,281 – 1.  This means it has roughly 24 million digits and is about 5 million digits longer than the previously known prime number.


Image result for chicago cubsTHE CHICAGO CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!
For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs won the World Series.  So, the century-old jokes about the Cubs are officially done.

And that should be a reason to celebrate in and of itself.


Image result for snl debate baldwinSATURDAY NIGHT LIVE GOT FUNNY AGAIN!
Not only did SNL give us Tom Hanks as David S. Pumpkins—instantly one of the funniest new characters to appear on SNL in years but their skewering of the 2016 presidential race, with Alec  Baldwin introducing his magnificent Trump caricature, was easily on par with the brilliant SNL skits during the 2000 presidential race.



07BRAIN CHIP ALLOWED A QUADRIPLEGIC TO MOVE HIS FINGERS AGAIN!
Not only did the implanted chip allow a quadriplegic man to be able to move his fingers again, he was able to play Guitar Hero!  Also, stem cell injections allowed stroke victims to be able to walk again!  This was a grand year for scientific advancements in this area!



Related image

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE DEMONSTRATED ORIGINAL THOUGHT!

Yes, that’s right, some of Google Brain’s AI personalities have begun sending messages to each other through self-designed encryption codes. 

Image result for netflix and hboTV RAISED ITS OWN BAR FOR EXCELLENCE!
Television stepped up to the plate and hit these three brand-new brilliant series straight out of the ballpark:  Stranger Things, The Crown, and Westworld.



MORE CELEBRITIES LIVED THAN DIED!
For example, here’s a selective list of famous people who might have died in 2016 but they didn’t.
They are still alive!!!


Jimmy Carter! Mary Tyler Moore! Stan Lee! Kirk Douglas! Brian Blessed! Grace Slick! Queen Elizabeth II! Ringo Starr! Alan Arkin! Don Rickles! Steve Ditko! Woody Allen! Dick Van Dyke! Carol Channing! Carol Burnett! Betty White! McCauley Culkin!

All these celebrities, and many more, did NOT die in 2016!!!

So, remember 2016 the way it should be remembered. 
It was the worst of times; it was the best of times—as it is every year. 

But if you’re reading this, then you survived 2016.

And that is good.