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Topic: The Atlantic:The Trouble With Superman (Topic Closed Topic Closed) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Roy Johnson
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Posted: 07 February 2016 at 2:13pm | IP Logged | 1  

It's like they've been reading the forum:

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John Byrne
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Posted: 07 February 2016 at 4:36pm | IP Logged | 2  

It's like they've been reading the forum...

•••

All the threads that aren't about Superman?

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Peter Martin
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Posted: 07 February 2016 at 6:57pm | IP Logged | 3  

I thought it was a decent article. That said, you don't have to be the most perceptive person to realise DC don't know how to handle Superman.
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 8:25am | IP Logged | 4  

They most certainly don't, and haven't for a long time. I think Superman is an incredibly easy character to "get", which is why his appeal was so strong for so many years.

I blame constant reboots and retcons, all of them blatantly unnecessary. Even MAN OF STEEL, to a degree. At least JB treated the character with respect and he was easily recognisable after. But it seems its success has inspired other creators into thinking that reboots are a good thing.

Most of all, though, I blame Jim Lee and the PTB at DC these days.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 9:52am | IP Logged | 5  

I blame constant reboots and retcons, all of them blatantly unnecessary. Even MAN OF STEEL, to a degree.

••

MAN OF STEEL was totally unnecessary. When I accepted the assignment, I expected to spend six months or a year doing stories that would guide Superman back to where I thought he should be. It was the Powers That Were at DC that insisted on a "reboot."

(As I have said before, I am convinced that happened because the editorial staff had all gotten brand new Macintosh computers, and computer lingo was on everybody's lips. If the project had happened a year earlier, no one would have thought to say "reboot.")

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Marc Foxx
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 10:42am | IP Logged | 6  

One thing I appreciated in the article that the guy got
right was using the term "trunks".
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Bryan White
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 11:18am | IP Logged | 7  

JB, is there any comic or character, so flawed, that a good creator couldn't  fix in 6 months to a year to get back on the right track?
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Jason Larouse
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 1:49pm | IP Logged | 8  

MAN OF STEEL was totally unnecessary. When I accepted the assignment, I expected to spend six months or a year doing stories that would guide Superman back to where I thought he should be. It was the Powers That Were at DC that insisted on a "reboot."

(As I have said before, I am convinced that happened because the editorial staff had all gotten brand new Macintosh computers, and computer lingo was on everybody's lips. If the project had happened a year earlier, no one would have thought to say "reboot.")

****

It's funny, I re-read COIE the other day and there's absolutely zero indication that Superman at the end of that story had changed. They obviously weren't intending a reboot at that point even though that was supposed to be the reason for all of the DC continuity changes.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 2:20pm | IP Logged | 9  

It's funny, I re-read COIE the other day and there's absolutely zero indication that Superman at the end of that story had changed. They obviously weren't intending a reboot at that point even though that was supposed to be the reason for all of the DC continuity changes.     

••

As I have mentioned on many an occasion, at a convention in Atlanta, at dinner with Frank Miller and his girlfriend, Dick Giordano offered me what would become CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. At that point it was seen as a history of the DCU. which would end by "blowing everything up" and beginning the next month with all new first issues. Frank cautioned me against taking on such a project, and I assured him there was no way I would even consider it. But what can be gleaned from this is that CRISIS began as something quite different, and underwent a series of "mutations" en route to the consumers. Problem is, it was still in flux when it was published. No one had really thought beyond CRISIS, just as they did not think beyond MAN OF STEEL.

Indeed, you are right. There was no reboot of Superman planned when CRISIS was initiated.

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John Byrne
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 2:21pm | IP Logged | 10  

JB, is there any comic or character, so flawed, that a good creator couldn't fix in 6 months to a year to get back on the right track?

••

Probably not. Some characters are "born" bad, so there is really no way to take them "back" to the right track, but one could at least take them forward.

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Andrew W. Farago
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 3:16pm | IP Logged | 11  

is there any comic or character, so flawed, that a good creator couldn't fix in 6 months to a year to get back on the right track?

The Punisher went from popular Spider-Man villain to anti-hero to superstar to established superhero with three or four monthly books in a really short period of time, and overexposure (among other things) led to all of those books getting canceled.  A few half-hearted relaunches led to them literally killing off the character and resurrecting him as an angel-powered hunter of demons.  Garth Ennis wrote the next relaunch, and pretty much undid that status quo with two captions, which set the tone for the character for the next fifteen years. 

So yeah, the right creative team can definitely come in and remind everyone what made a character work in the first place.  Like Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams on Batman, Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. on Spider-Man, Walt Simonson on Thor, John Byrne on Fantastic Four.  A lot of the most fondly-remembered runs in comics are the result of a creator re-focusing the character after a long aimless period. 
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Jeffrey Rice
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 9:20pm | IP Logged | 12  

I remember when DC created the Tim Drake Robin. He was so popular that multiple mini-series and and an ongoing were top sellers. But all of those stories could have been about Jason Todd with minor changes. Except he was killed off as a "bad character".  
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 08 February 2016 at 11:04pm | IP Logged | 13  

Also, there were two versions of Jason Todd. Originally, he was a circus acrobat whose parents had been murdered by Killer Croc. He had reddish hair and wore a costume different from Robin's. While he and Batman were trying to decide upon what name he should use, Dick Grayson showed up with his old costume and gave his blessing to Jason continuing in his role as Robin.

Come the Crisis, everyone realized they could start all of their stories over again and Max Allen Collins preferred a hot-shot street punk caught boosting the tires off the Batmobile as Robin. He was given ties to the criminal community through his parents, and Jason Todd became a bad seed trying to go good, although not really trying all that hard at times...

That incarnation proved fairly unpopular in certain circles and so DC pandered to the "controversy" by setting up Death in the Family and the infamous "1-800" number poll which was decided by a few fans with the ability to repeatedly robo-call in their votes. 

So once the "bad" Jason Todd was disposed of, violently, to the detriment of the Batman mythos forever after (Batman didn't save Robin? The Joker beat Robin to death with a crowbar? While Robin's mom stood by and did nothing? How does any of that help the character or the world of Batman?) They brought in Tim Drake. A kid who witnessed the death of the Flying Graysons and took on the role of Robin with the blessing of Dick Grayson... Not that far off from the guy they started with pre-Crisis.

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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 6:36am | IP Logged | 14  

Because I have to tangent... here's what I saw reading JB's comment:

JB: "... at a convention in Atlanta, at dinner with Frank Miller and his girlfriend, Dick Giordano offered me..."

Thank Dog for proper grammar and commas and context!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 6:37am | IP Logged | 15  

Because I have to tangent... here's what I saw reading JB's comment:

JB: "... at a convention in Atlanta, at dinner with Frank Miller and his girlfriend, Dick Giordano offered me..."

••

You saw what I wrote?

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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 6:43am | IP Logged | 16  

Crisis was a bad idea done poorly. The excuse of "too many Earths" seems barely a tertiary reason. I have inferred that the first reason for Crisis was that someone at DC thought that a super team-up of all its heroes would be really cool - and that included heroes from other Earths. The second reason would have been, "Wolfman and Perez have been such a big hit on Titans, let's try them on EVERY character!"

And then DC poisoned their own well with the aftermath of Crisis - especially their violation of THEIR OWN STORY CONCEPT in the last issue of Crisis. Everybody remembered the Flash; nobody remembered Supergirl. How does THAT work?

And then the aftermath - Supergirl, Superboy, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, the Justice Society, Superman (because, while Mr. Byrne's work is splendid, someone forgot to ask - why is Superman special in the post-Crisis universe? He didn't bring anything that Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, or Captain Comet hadn't earlier.)

I had heard second (third?) hand that Marv Wolfman had stated that he had a script (or script idea) of how to undo Crisis halfway through if it didn't prove to be popular with the readers. How could that have happened nearly fast enough?

There was nothing wrong with Superman. There IS nothing wrong with Superman. The problem is with the writers.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 8:10am | IP Logged | 17  

Crisis was a bad idea done poorly. The excuse of "too many Earths" seems barely a tertiary reason. I have inferred that the first reason for Crisis was that someone at DC thought that a super team-up of all its heroes would be really cool - and that included heroes from other Earths. The second reason would have been, "Wolfman and Perez have been such a big hit on Titans, let's try them on EVERY character!"

••

Reverse the order and you come closer to the mark. The primary reason -- what you call tertiary -- was fannish snobbery. "Oh, well, WE have been reading these books for YEARS so WE understand the complexities of the multiverse, but NEW READERS would be totally lost!" I heard variations on that for about a decade before CRISIS happened.

Sad thing was, nobody seems to have considered the simple expedient of NOT TALKING ABOUT THE OTHER EARTHS.* Again, the fannish mindset prevailed, and it all had to be "fixed" in a STORY. A story that, ultimately, proved even MORE off-putting to potential "new readers."

_________

* The way I simply made no references to Reed and Ben having fought in WW2.

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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 8:18am | IP Logged | 18  

I enjoyed a lot of the Tim Drake Robin stuff, but a lot of that could have been
done with the original Robin if Dick Grayson hadn't aged him.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 9:04am | IP Logged | 19  

I enjoyed a lot of the Tim Drake Robin stuff, but a lot of that could have been done with the original Robin if Dick Grayson hadn't aged him.

••

When Robin was introduced the companies were still being run by people who were old hands at the publishing game, and who understood the rules, even if they were unwritten. Readers, too, understood how the game was played. It was not until they began to morph into "Fans" that the problems began to show themselves.

Robin, when I "met" him, circa 1956, was about ten years old. No kind of "realism" was forced into the character -- if anyone expressed concern that a ten year old child should be put into the kind of dangerous situations Batman faced, those complaints did not see print. And most people were not likely to worry about it, anyway. Comics were fantasy entertainment, not snapshots of reality. (Kids really didn't tie towels around their necks and jump off the garage roof trying to fly like Superman. They (I) understood it wasn't in the cape!)

When the Teen Titans were introduced, Robin aged subtly. He'd been a "tween" for a couple of decades, but now he was officially a teenager. Still, from the way he and the other Titans were drawn, it was easy to assume they were just barely teenagers, no more than thirteen.

But DC editorial offices have long had the problem of not understanding that they are part of a greater whole, and things that happen in one title can ripple out to impact on other, seemingly unconnected titles. So when the Batman office decided to restore Batman to his "roots," principally by getting rid of Robin, they packed him off to college. (Death was not yet the fetish it would become, for fans or pros.) But college meant a considerable jump in age, since apparently nobody thought Dick was genius enough to start college when he was thirteen.

Dick becoming roughly eighteen meant the other Titans became, instantly, the same age. And -- and here's the part everyone at DC seems to have trouble with -- everybody else aged the same amount! And when other kids were brought in, and they too aged, the effect became cumulative.

When I was working on WONDER WOMAN, I had Nightwing appear. I asked, simply for my own frame of reference, how old he was supposed to be. I was told Dick was at that time 28. Which meant he had aged 18 years since becoming Robin -- and so had Batman. And Superman. And Lois Lane. Hard to maintain that Superman is eternally 29 when 18 years have passed "on camera."

And all they'd ever had to do was not age the characters.

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Peter Martin
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 9:15am | IP Logged | 20  

Sad thing was, nobody seems to have considered the simple expedient of NOT TALKING ABOUT THE OTHER EARTHS.
---------------------------
Exactly. Your approach to the Fantastic Four is undoubtedly the right approach -- include the elements that need to be kept and quietly drop everything else. Think how mad it would be to have done a story explaining how Reed and Ben fought in WW2 and were still in their primes in 'now'. Just drop it and no-one cares -- and you haven't put a kink the characters' continuity for evermore. Do a story explaining it and you invariably complicate things when the opposite is required.
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Thom Price
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 9:17am | IP Logged | 21  

Dick becoming roughly eighteen meant the other Titans became, instantly, the same age. And -- and here's the part everyone at DC seems to have trouble with -- everybody else aged the same amount! 

***

I wasn't a particularly critical reader at the time, but one of the few instances where my brain rebelled against a story was Donna Troy's origin in TEEN TITANS. With Wonder Woman rescuing an infant Donna from a fire, that would mean Diana (and Superman, Batman, etc) had been active for close to, if not longer than, twenty years.  They were older than my parents at the time!

The older-than-my-grandparents heroes of Earth-Two didn't phase me nearly as much as the revelation that my heroes were so darned old.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 9:49am | IP Logged | 22  

I wasn't a particularly critical reader at the time, but one of the few instances where my brain rebelled against a story was Donna Troy's origin in TEEN TITANS. With Wonder Woman rescuing an infant Donna from a fire, that would mean Diana (and Superman, Batman, etc) had been active for close to, if not longer than, twenty years. They were older than my parents at the time!

••

From what I have been told, that "origin" came about thru a cascade of errors, the first being the assumption by the creators of the Teen Titans that Wonder Girl was Wonder Woman's kid partner. (The lack of communication between editorial fiefdoms at DC in those days was staggering!) Wonder Girl was, of course, a younger version of Diana (as was Wonder Tot) created thru Amazon magic.

So that had to be "fixed..."

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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 10:15am | IP Logged | 23  

Aaaargh!

That should have been "...if DC hadn't aged him."

So if Batman and Superman were 48-50 years old (at the youngest) when JB
introduced a new Wonder Girl… and DC later aged her to be at least 18...
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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 10:29am | IP Logged | 24  

Immediately after "fixing" the problem of the Multiverse, with its parallel worlds, what's the first thing DC did?  ELSEWORLDS!
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Kevin Hagerman
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Posted: 09 February 2016 at 10:46am | IP Logged | 25  

The most important thing I ever learned about Superman is that Clark Kent is Superman, not vice versa.  Completely changed how I read the stories.
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