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Topic: Q for JB: CRISIS and after (Topic Closed Topic Closed) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 2:53am | IP Logged | 1  

Something I've always been curious about and I'm hoping that you, JB, can help me with it--

I've always found it somewhat ironic (or just tragic) that two of my favorite DC comics from my teen years LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES and NEW TEEN TITANS (and, as I understand it, DC's biggest sellers) were sort of "sacrificed" in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. Ironic since it was the TITANS team of Wolfman, Perez, and editor Wein who put things in motion with CRISIS that ultimately destroyed their TITANS.

JB, from your perspective over on the SUPERMAN revamp, did you know or hear anything about these two books being KNOWINGLY weakened in an effort to revive sales on books like SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, JLA, etc.?

It just seems to me that either the powers that be were very naοve that TITANS could survive with the whole Donna Troy confusion and that LEGION could survive with SUPERBOY being written out of continuity OR they willingly tossed the dice to shore up the icons even if it cost them their biggest sellers.

I really can't imagine a comics industry where LEGION (just cancelled a few months ago) doesn't have its own book, though it's understandable since it's been in a long death spiral ever since CRISIS. And, likewise, though they keep bringing the name back, TITANS has never been the same. It's the same as Marvel's X-MEN being nowhere to be found on today's stands.

Edited by Eric Jansen on 28 December 2014 at 2:56am
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 3:03am | IP Logged | 2  

Addendum: They REALLY didn't seem to care about my other favorite books at the time--Roy Thomas' INFINITY INC. and ALL-STAR SQUADRON! Those books DEFINITELY were never to survive post-CRISIS!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 6:07am | IP Logged | 3  

CRISIS happened before my time at DC.
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Kip Lewis
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 6:56am | IP Logged | 4  

How was Legion destroyed by Crisis? The
title continued. Yes, it was changed but
Five Years Later could have happened with
or without Crisis. Few years after Crisis
it got a second book. Yes last year or so
it was cancelled but that had nothing to
do with COIE.

Titans also continued for years. Any
diminishing in quality or sales was
connected more to changes in the creative
staff. Personally I found the quality of
TT stories to have diminished before
Crisis.

Edited by Kip Lewis on 28 December 2014 at 6:57am
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Jason Czeskleba
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 1:38pm | IP Logged | 5  

Crisis retroactively made the Legion's past continuity incredibly dense and confusing, but I don't think it's what killed the book off.  I think a bigger problem was Levitz's decision to significantly age the characters during his run.  This was probably gratifying for readers at the time, but by the end of his run it had resulted in the book being so far away from its original concept that the decision was made that they had to blow it up and start over with a complete reboot.
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Kip Lewis
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 4:42pm | IP Logged | 6  

But that change you are talking about. ..
jumping five years into the future, the
introduction of the clone batch could have
all happened with or without Crisis
because the idea to jump five years and
change the entire premise of the team was
not dependent on Crisis.

Plus the removal of Superboy was not from
Crisis. That came from Man of Steel, a
separate event that happened later.
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Darren Ashmore
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 4:53pm | IP Logged | 7  

Titans had begun to decline in  writing quality after George Perez left the series (and I recall Marv Wolfman commenting that he suffered some writers block during the same period). The erasure of Wonder Woman from continuity and the subsequent de-emphasis of Superman's Kryptonian roots (Kandor etc.) certainly had an impact on Wonder Girl especially and Nightwing tangentially but it was never a big issue for the series and the WG stuff wasn't even addressed for another four years.

The Legion didn't immediatly suffer as a result of Crisis.  Remember, the specifics of the Superman relaunch weren't known when Crisis ended, the next to last page of Crisis #12 had Superman and Power Girl walking off together in mourning toward the Fortress of Solitude.

Crisis's problem IMO was that the aftermath hadn't been worked out very well in advance.  Editors and writers were either unable or unwilling to get on board with the thing.  Result: a mad scramble after the fact to try and smooth out the wrinkles.  Compare the characters featured in Crisis 11 & 12, to what we got for the next 12-24 months.  My feeling at the time was if Marvel had done the same type of story, the transition to a 'new' Earth would have been much smoother.  Of course, for the longest time that was the major difference between the two companies, while DC had editorial fiefdoms which rarely crossed paths, Marvel prided itself on a clear editorial policy across its line.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 5:17pm | IP Logged | 8  

I recall Marv Wolfman commenting that he suffered some writers block during the same period...

•••

I recall a DC editor, years ago, saying that "Writer's Block is when you can't write, not when you write badly." Was he referring to Wolfman's troubles? I can't say.

Of course, one of my favorite quotes on the subject came from Charles Schulz: "Writer's Block is for amateurs."

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Ed Love
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 5:52pm | IP Logged | 9  

I would say the problem with  those Titans was that the company was NOT willing to sacrifice the title. Much like Nu52, they didn't want to be rid of the adult former Teen sidekicks despite supposedly rebooting the Universe.

The problem with Legion was not just ignoring the Superboy aspect of their history. He and Supergirl were already just occasional guest-stars and the title could have continued the same as it had been with never referring to the two again.

So, we got several waves of retcons trying to explain various holes: who inspired the Legion? Pocket-Universe Superboy? Or was it Valor/Mon-El?
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Darren Ashmore
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 6:16pm | IP Logged | 10  

Crisis should have been either all or nothing. Scrap the existing continuity and start from scratch (and not half heartedly like Nu52), or don't go that route at all and just have a big crossover with all the characters. Wolfman however seemed fixated on 'fixing' the DC universe when it wasn't really broken, and being the writer of the best selling title gave him that opportunity. 
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Josh Goldberg
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 6:36pm | IP Logged | 11  

Interesting that Wolfman's "writers block" coincided with Perez's departure from the book.
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Jason Schulman
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 6:43pm | IP Logged | 12  

The best thing to do would have to been to reboot both the Superman mythos and Wonder Woman mythos in ways that didn't affect the shared universe. That was certainly possible. JB could have (and, I think, would have if asked) done most of what he wanted to do with Superman without removing Superboy and Supergirl from Superman's backstory. And thus the Legion's backstory would've remained as it was before 1986.
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Josh Goldberg
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 7:04pm | IP Logged | 13  

I believe JB's original proposal for Superman didn't even involve a reboot.  Everything he wanted to do would have been done within the existing established continuity.

Damn.  CRISIS didn't fix what wasn't broken.  It broke what wasn't broken.  And I feel like that damage has never been repaired to this day.


Edited by Josh Goldberg on 28 December 2014 at 7:13pm
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 7:21pm | IP Logged | 14  

Sorry, JB, I wasn't sure of how much interaction you had with the powers that be at DC prior to the actual launch of MAN OF STEEL. I did think at least that you presented your wish list that included removing SUPERBOY from the canon that somebody might have said "But that will ruin LEGION!" or possibly "OK, we'll have to do repair work on LEGION but it'll be brilliant!"

As for when LEGION and TITANS declined--sure, maybe it wasn't right after CRISIS, but I suggest that the changes that CRISIS initiated are what led to the decline in quality on TITANS and all the confusing "fix-it" plots over on LEGION.

On TITANS, Wally became the Flash so we lost Kid Flash; Donna became Troia (Sorry, George, but that was an awful design!); and the book about sidekicks became irrelevant when the main heroes were suddenly younger (WW, Flash, even Superman was experiencing a lot of things for the first time).

On LEGION, they could have just ignored the absence of Superboy and Supergirl, but instead they "fixed" it--and then they "fixed" it--and they "fixed" it again! Until everything was so confusing that they had to reboot it! And then reboot it a couple more times!

My premise is that CRISIS set things in motion that destroyed DC's most popular books, even if it took a few years. It's the same as if Marvel suddenly removed Cyclops from existence and then kept doing stories that showed how the early X-Men "really" came together and did recaps of the early New X-Men without including Cyclops. Would X-MEN still be popular now and have a dozen books if Marvel did that? Or what if the Simon family had won ownership of Captain America? Would Marvel have to rewrite all of AVENGERS history?

Some above blame the changing creative teams on the decline in popularity, but if you were a creator, would YOU want to work on these confusing books and have your hand tied in a dozen ways? I don't think it's coincidence that BATMAN, who was the LEAST touched by CRISIS, drew the very best writers and artists over the next two and a half decades and helped solidify his superstar status.
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Roy Johnson
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 9:01pm | IP Logged | 15  


 QUOTE:
Crisis should have been either all or nothing. Scrap the existing continuity and start from scratch (and not half heartedly like Nu52), or don't go that route at all and just have a big crossover with all the characters. Wolfman however seemed fixated on 'fixing' the DC universe when it wasn't really broken


I agree there was no need for Crisis but if they did it they should have gone all the way. So did Wolfman.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 9:11pm | IP Logged | 16  

I believe JB's original proposal for Superman didn't even involve a reboot. Everything he wanted to do would have been done within the existing established continuity.

•••

Yup. The reboot was DC's idea. Probably if it had been done just a couple of years earlier, no one would have thought of it. But every desk up at DC had a shiny new Mac, and computer terms were buzzing in everyone's brains.

As to CRISIS -- of course DC could have been fixed without it! Nothing more was required than to simply stop mentioning all the "confusing" stuff -- things that were confusing only in the minds of elitist fans, and fans-turned-pro, who had memorized every comma of forgotten lore, and assumed that they, and they alone possessed the wit and wisdom to comprehend DC's "universes."

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Jason Schulman
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Posted: 28 December 2014 at 10:55pm | IP Logged | 17  

CRISIS itself wasn't even a well-written series. The Perez artwork is lovely, of course, but that's really all it's got going for it.

(I'm still convinced that it was mainly DC writers who couldn't keep track of which characters lived on which Earth, not DC readers.)
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 29 December 2014 at 3:26am | IP Logged | 18  

You know, it just hit me. CRISIS was like what they say about lying. It's just easier to tell the truth because every lie you tell requires another lie and another lie, etc.

It was more difficult and more confusing for writers and editors to keep on top of the artificial "history" that was dictated to them than just sticking to the printed history.
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Josh Goldberg
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Posted: 29 December 2014 at 6:38am | IP Logged | 19  

JB, I can't find it anywhere but I believe you've told us before.  Care to refresh our memory as to what your original in-continuity proposal for Superman was, before the reboot was proposed?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 December 2014 at 7:44am | IP Logged | 20  

It was fairly simple. A cataclysm occurs which sends Superman on a quest to set things right. In the end, it requires him to start over from square one.
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Ed Love
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Posted: 29 December 2014 at 7:46am | IP Logged | 21  

I enjoyed CRISIS for what it was and still enjoy re-reading it from time to time. Perez art elevates almost everything.

Most of the flaws really came AFTER the story as there seemed to be nothing set in stone. From the stories that JB, Roy Thomas and Wolfman himself, editorial powers kept changing their mind as to what the story was to do even while it was being written. Thomas was originally assured it wouldn't change ALL-STAR SQUADRON as that was set in the past. Wolfman wanted no one to remember the multiple Earths, but was told the heroes were to remember which is how the last two issues are written. Yet, when the new continuity titles started, no one remembered except the Psycho Pirate who was driven insane by his memories. This wishy-washiness continued into the relaunches. Superman and Wonder Woman are completely rebooted. Batman and Green Lantern and Teen Titans are not. Barry Allen is still dead with Wally West to become the new adult Flash. Captain Atom is rebooted despite the Ditko version recently appearing in a team-up with Superman and Firestorm. Hawkman is rebooted a couple of years after the series despite the 1960s Kubert verstion having a series and team-ups and working with the JLA after Crisis leading to several fixes making even less sense. The point seemed to combine various Earths into one, yet DC almost immediately gets rid of the biggest and most prominent alternate Earth characters - the Justice Society, leaving just a few behind including the one that is one of the bigger continuity holes, Power Girl. The Crime Syndicate, the founding members of the JLA get re-explained again and again. Editorial was smart to say, "no" to Alan Moore's plans for the Charlton characters which lead to WATCHMEN. If only they had said, "no" a couple more times.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 29 December 2014 at 7:59am | IP Logged | 22  

From the stories that JB, Roy Thomas and Wolfman himself, editorial powers kept changing their mind as to what the story was to do even while it was being written.

••

And before. As some will recall, Dick Giordano originally offered me the job of creating a "History of the DC Universe," which would run 12 issues, sort everything into some kind of order and then, in the last issue, blow it all up. The next month, all the books would begin again with issue 1.

This was at dinner with Dick and Frank Miller in, I think, Atlanta. Frank told me I would be insane to take on such a project. I told Dick there was no real chance that I ever would, as my "encyclopedic knowledge" of DC history was a myth. What I really had were the phone numbers of Roger Stern and Peter Sanderson! "Get them to do it!" I said.

Obviously, the project mutated quite a bit from that point.

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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 29 December 2014 at 6:00pm | IP Logged | 23  

Afterwards,it was at a point where  the main story of CRISIS was going to have everything 'blow up' with the end of CRISIS # 10, then the HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE would be a 'filler' for the next two months, the only title DC would publish during that period, then 'everything gets a new # 1'.
Clearly, in the meantime, they had some 'out of continuity' books that they didn't want to reschedule, so CRISIS 'blew it up' in # 10, just confused the hell out of everyone in its last two issues, and that two-issue 'concise history' was published as something of an afterthought, just after the 'post-CRISIS' Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman went on sale. 
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Stephen Robinson
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Posted: 30 December 2014 at 2:19pm | IP Logged | 24  

I think many fans have an obsessive need for events to
"fit together logically," so for them, it makes sense that
CRISIS led directly to MAN OF STEEL and YEAR ONE and it
was all planned in advance. I'm surprised by the number of
die-hard fans I've met for whom it's news that there were
several "post-crisis" issues of SUPERMAN and BATMAN.
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 30 December 2014 at 3:51pm | IP Logged | 25  

The HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE two-parter basically retconned away those 'post CRISIS' issues from early 1986. 
Looking back, pre-JB SUPERMAN really needed to be 'blown up', and those last few issues were very unmemorable. I grew up reading Cary Bates' take on Superman, but a lot of that era is dull to revisit now. The '70s-80s stories by Gerry Conway, Len Wein, and especially Martin Pasko, hold up better.


Edited by Brian O'Neill on 30 December 2014 at 3:53pm
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