Superman Through the Ages! Forum

Superman Comic Books! => Superman! => Topic started by: Great Rao on April 20, 2006, 12:44:20 AM



Title: Superman 651
Post by: Great Rao on April 20, 2006, 12:44:20 AM
Superman 651; the bodycount:

2 bystanders fall to their death;
2 guards have their brains sucked out and eaten;
one man has his heart ripped out by a completely uncaring monster who regards human life as disposable and gloats in cruelty.

You'd think the CCA would catch this stuff.

I will have to drop the Superman books until Geoff Johns is off them, and I will be returning this issue to the store for a refund.

The previous two issues were fun while they lasted, though.

:s:


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: DBN on April 20, 2006, 01:29:27 AM
Quote
one man has his heart ripped out by a completely uncaring monster who regards human life as disposable and gloats in cruelty.


By the same guy who accidently destroyed an entire planet full of people, including his own family, in an attempt to kill Superman (and blamed him for the incident). Did he not?

I will continue to pick up the books, they haven't been this good in ages.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Great Rao on April 20, 2006, 01:34:23 AM
The key difference here is "accidently" versus tortuously cruel, gloating, and graphicly violent.

Besides, you've touched on one of the many reasons that I don't like Marv Wolfman, either. :)

:s:


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 20, 2006, 01:45:18 AM
Quote from: "Great Rao"
Superman 651; the bodycount:

2 bystanders fall to their death;


Where?

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2 guards have their brains sucked out and eaten;


Their blood sucked out, actually.  Fleas drink blood, they don't eat brains.  And I plotted that bit.

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one man has his heart ripped out by a completely uncaring monster who regards human life as disposable and gloats in cruelty.


That particular man has survived such treatment before, so I hardly think it adds to the bodycount.    And the man who did it has been uncaring and a killer for decades, and has often gloated in cruelty.

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You'd think the CCA would catch this stuff.


There is no CCA rule against there being deaths in comic books.  Otherwise, those bastards Siegel and Shuster, who blew up a whole planet, would be booted out of the industry right alongside that parent-killer Bob Kane.

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I will have to drop the Superman books until Geoff Johns is off them, and I will be returning this issue to the store for a refund.

The previous two issues were fun while they lasted, though.


First issue's bodycount is at least as high -- two scientists killed on the Avenue of Tomorrow.

Second issue didn't have any on-panel deaths, but it did establish that one of the villains liked burning through people with fake heat-vision.

Next two issues have no on-panel deaths that I can recall offhand.

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 20, 2006, 01:46:20 AM
Quote from: "Great Rao"
Besides, you've touched on one of the many reasons that I don't like Marv Wolfman, either. :)


You don't like Marv Wolfman because of a Cary Bates story?

I voted "Menace," though.  "Threat" wasn't one of the choices...

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: DBN on April 20, 2006, 01:56:36 AM
Quote
The key difference here is "accidently" versus tortuously cruel, gloating, and graphicly violent.


By a guy that has been a villian for decades (one that has killed in the past, if I had my archives available, then I would go into detail). For me, that's the key difference. Villian. Not the hero.

Yes, some of the violence is graphic. But, this is nothing compared to Infinite Crisis (and you already know my opinion on that).

I'm just glad that the heroes are heroes again.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: NotSuper on April 20, 2006, 03:05:40 AM
Meh. I think Johns is a great writer (ditto for Busiek). At the moment, the violence content doesn't bother me the least in the Superman books.

Heck, Metallo used to steal HUMAN hearts (by teleportation) from his still living victims. Keep in mind that this was in the seventies. The point is that some villains are going to be killers. And frankly, it's not like the Superman mythos (including the pre-Crisis one) doesn't have its history of villains that killed. While it might not have been as graphic, it still happened. Besides Metallo, another good example is Jax-Ur, who blew up an inhabited moon of Krypton by accident (there's that word again) and felt no sympathy over his actions. As for Luthor being a killer--well, he is. Birthright established that he'll kill to accomplish his goals. He's willing to sacrifice people to achieve his ends--including his own allies.

Anyway, I like the current Superman comics (though my favorite is still All-Star Superman) and will continue to support them. Why? Because I enjoy reading them. I'm not trying to convince anyone or invalidate their opinions, though. I just had to get that off my chest.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Klar Ken T5477 on April 20, 2006, 07:49:57 AM
Cant say until I catch up with this stuff.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: nightwing on April 20, 2006, 08:40:01 AM
I still haven't picked this one up yet, but I loved the first two issues.

At this point the best I can hope for is comics I find an entertaining read before I hide them from the kids.  I agree it's too bad there's almost nothing out there I'd want to see youngsters exposed to, but that's a battle we lost a long time ago.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Genis Vell on April 23, 2006, 03:04:29 AM
I agree with NotSuper.
And I (as you all, I think!) hate violence in comics.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 23, 2006, 12:32:59 PM
I'm still wondering where the two people falling to their death are.

There are refrigerators that fall to their presumed electronic death, yes, but I don't think I'm eaten up with rank mechanical prejudice if I say that refrigerators with robo-bits sneaked into them by the Prankster are not people.

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Uncle Mxy on April 24, 2006, 07:41:08 AM
Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
Quote
2 guards have their brains sucked out and eaten;


Their blood sucked out, actually.  Fleas drink blood, they don't eat brains.  And I plotted that bit.

Sounds like someone has either seen too much of the Starship Troopers movie, or not enough.  It's a guilty pleasure for me, and Michael Ironside's "They sucked his brains out." line was a highlight.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Great Rao on April 26, 2006, 09:25:47 PM
Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
I'm still wondering where the two people falling to their death are.

I could be misreading this one, and I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until the rest of the stuff started showing up later in the issue - like, on the next page.

Page 9, panel 6.  I figure if there was supposed to be a rescue or a save, it doesn't count unless we actually see it.

But I was serious when I asked about the Comics Code Authority seal - this issue had the CCA logo on it, and I did not want to see the gore, cruelty and suffering that those guards went through, nor see Lex rip out the Kryptonite Man's heart in such a "heartless" (hah!) manner.  If I had known in advance that the comic contained such material, which I was certainly not expecting based on the previous 2 issues, I would not have bought it.  So who is in charge of adding the CCA seal, and what are the current guidelines?  Having it on the cover of this issue was extremely misleading.

:s:


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 26, 2006, 10:05:16 PM
Quote from: "Great Rao"
Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
I'm still wondering where the two people falling to their death are.

I could be misreading this one, and I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until the rest of the stuff started showing up later in the issue - like, on the next page.

Page 9, panel 6.  I figure if there was supposed to be a rescue or a save, it doesn't count unless we actually see it.


That's Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, who can both fly, and who are both seen to be fine the next time we see them.

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But I was serious when I asked about the Comics Code Authority seal - this issue had the CCA logo on it, and I did not want to see the gore, cruelty and suffering that those guards went through, nor see Lex rip out the Kryptonite Man's heart in such a "heartless" (hah!) manner.


There's nothing in this issue that wouldn't have passed the Code in the mid-1970s, though.  TOMB OF DRACULA passed the Code, after all.

Since nobody actually falls to their deaths, and since Metallo's not dead and there's no actual "gore" involved in pulling a radioactive rock out of a cybernetic housing, your objectionable scenes boil down to guards who get their blood sucked out by monster fleas, and that's not a scene the Code would have objected to since it was revised in the early 1970s.

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If I had known in advance that the comic contained such material, which I was certainly not expecting based on the previous 2 issues, I would not have bought it.


As noted, the first issue had two people burned to death in a lab explosion, a man beaned with a chunk of rock and our hero beaten viciously by the bad guy.

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So who is in charge of adding the CCA seal, and what are the current guidelines?


The books are submitted to the Code before publication, and they accept, reject or ask for changes as they see fit.  The 1989 version of the Code can be seen at:

http://www.geocities.com/athens/8580/cca3.html

I don't know if that's the latest version, though.

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Having it on the cover of this issue was extremely misleading.


I disagree.  You don't like what was in it, but that doesn't make it "misleading."  There's nothing in the book that is out of line with material that's been passing the Code for decades, so it's thoroughly in keeping with accepted practice, and shouldn't be misleading to anyone.

The Code was first revised in 1972 (or thereabouts).  That's over three decades ago.

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Great Rao on April 26, 2006, 11:30:56 PM
Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
That's Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, who can both fly, and who are both seen to be fine the next time we see them.

Well, blow me down!  So it is.

Quote
There's nothing in this issue that wouldn't have passed the Code in the mid-1970s, though.  TOMB OF DRACULA passed the Code, after all.

Well, I thought I was buying SUPERMAN, not TOMB OF DRACULA. :)

Perhaps I've just got a lower tolerance for this sort of stuff than I used to.  Or perhaps most other people now have a higher tolerance than they used to.  But either way, it didn't feel the same to me.  It wasn't really the violent acts per se, it was more the attitude behind them.

:s:


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: MatterEaterLad on April 26, 2006, 11:47:32 PM
I, myself am kind of glad that Kurt shows up around here and he's not beset by as many millions of questions of "what's happening next?" or 'why don't you do 'this or that?' "...

Nevertheless, for better or worse, I'm a Silver Ager who saw so many storylines solved without graphic death...but then I'm not sure that will ever mean anything anymore...


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 27, 2006, 12:46:48 AM
Quote from: "Great Rao"
Well, I thought I was buying SUPERMAN, not TOMB OF DRACULA. :)


Logo fooled you, did it?

More seriously, if you're making an argument that the Code label is deceptive, then the argument is that the Code wouldn't normally allow such scenes, not merely that you wouldn't expect them in  a Superman book.  As such, if the Code was regularly approving blood-sucking deaths in any comic back in the early 1970s, it's germane to the counterargument that no, the Code does allow such scenes and has for a long, long time.

Sucking the life out of bodies and leaving them mummified husks isn't out of Code either -- it happened numerous times in X-MEN, just to pick one example.

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Perhaps I've just got a lower tolerance for this sort of stuff than I used to.  Or perhaps most other people now have a higher tolerance than they used to.  But either way, it didn't feel the same to me.  It wasn't really the violent acts per se, it was more the attitude behind them.


And that's a fair comment -- I don't object to you not caring for it; I just object to the argument that the Code is being unusually lax and that such material isn't within the established range of Code practice.

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 27, 2006, 12:55:00 AM
Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Nevertheless, for better or worse, I'm a Silver Ager who saw so many storylines solved without graphic death...but then I'm not sure that will ever mean anything anymore...


Depends on who you're selling 'em to, I think.

I'd love to see a line of kid-oriented "graphic albulms" (something like the Golden Books format) written and drawn with a sensibility not that far different from the 1970s DCU and sold in bookstores, where kids and their parents actually turn up, but the industry is not reaching those audiences now, and changing the content won't alter that -- it'll just sell fewer copies to the audience that is buying.

"If you build it, they will come" is a phony argument -- even in FIELD OF DREAMS, it only works because God is on the side of the writers.  Comics publishers can sell books to kids when they figure out how to reach kids again.  Until they do that, there's no way for that sort of thing to succeed.

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Great Rao on April 27, 2006, 01:03:32 AM
Here's an excerpt from the link Kurt posted:

Quote from: "Comics Code Authority circa 1989"
VIOLENCE

Violent actions or scenes are acceptable within the context of a comic book story when dramatically appropriate. Violent behavior will not be shown as acceptable. If it is presented in a realistic manner, care should be taken to present the natural repercussions of such actions. Publishers should avoid excessive levels of violence, excessively graphic depictions of violence, and excessive bloodshed or gore. Publishers will not present detailed information instructing readers how to engage in imitable violent actions.

I never read Tomb of Dracula, nor X-men, so I can't comment on whether or not the way these things are presented now is the same as they way they were presented in the 1970s.  I expected the CCA to stand for something - but I was apparently mistaken.

:s:


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Great Rao on April 27, 2006, 01:16:42 AM
Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Nevertheless, for better or worse, I'm a Silver Ager who saw so many storylines solved without graphic death...but then I'm not sure that will ever mean anything anymore...

Depends on who you're selling 'em to, I think.

I'd love to see a line of kid-oriented "graphic albulms"  (....)  Comics publishers can sell books to kids when they figure out how to reach kids again.  Until they do that, there's no way for that sort of thing to succeed.


Marketing books strictly towards kids isn't necesarily the same thing as creating books without graphic violence in them.  The assumption you are making is that it is a story's natural state to contain graphic death, and that anything without graphic death must, by definition, be strictly kiddy-fare.  I would argue that having graphic violence and death in a story is an abberation - and that it is a worthy goal to create well-written adult stories without visceral gore.

:s:


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 27, 2006, 01:28:32 AM
Quote from: "Great Rao"
Here's an excerpt from the link Kurt posted:

Quote from: "Comics Code Authority circa 1989"
VIOLENCE

Violent actions or scenes are acceptable within the context of a comic book story when dramatically appropriate. Violent behavior will not be shown as acceptable. If it is presented in a realistic manner, care should be taken to present the natural repercussions of such actions. Publishers should avoid excessive levels of violence, excessively graphic depictions of violence, and excessive bloodshed or gore. Publishers will not present detailed information instructing readers how to engage in imitable violent actions.

I never read Tomb of Dracula, nor X-men, so I can't comment on whether or not the way these things are presented now is the same as they way they were presented in the 1970s.  I expected the CCA to stand for something - but I was apparently mistaken.


I never expected them to stand for much, myself.

But mainly, in this case, you disagree with them on a subjective matter.  I think it's hard to say that anything in SUPERMAN 651 is "excesively graphic," but to each his own.

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Kurt Busiek on April 27, 2006, 01:44:34 AM
Quote from: "Great Rao"
Marketing books strictly towards kids isn't necesarily the same thing as creating books without graphic violence in them.


Didn't say it was.

Quote
The assumption you are making is that it is a story's natural state to contain graphic death, and that anything without graphic death must, by definition, be strictly kiddy-fare.


No, I'm not making any such assumption.  ACTION 837, for instance, had no graphic death in it, nor does 838, if I'm remembering correctly.

I'm making the assumption that the level of violence and minimal gore in SUPERMAN 651 is not something that needs to be avoided if it comes up in a story, unless you're specifically trying to do so.

If a story has such content, fine.  If it doesn't, also fine.

Quote
I would argue that having graphic violence and death in a story is an abberation


And I think that's preposterous.  The Bible is an aberration?  The Count of Monte Cristo is an aberration?  James and the Giant Peach is an aberration?

No.  They're not.

I don't think there is such a thing as a "natural state" for stories, that says that stuff I approve of is normal and stuff I don't like is aberrant.  I think stories can have many, many different kinds of things therein, and that there is no peculiar dividing line that declares Anne of Green Gables to be "natural" and Catch-22 to be "aberrant."

Quote
and that it is a worthy goal to create well-written adult stories without visceral gore.


I think it's a worthy goal to create well-written stories.  Limiting worthiness to adult stories or to stories without blood in them seems to me as pointless as limiting worthiness only to children's stories or to stories with visceral gore.

I also continue to think that if SUPERMAN 651 is considered a gory story, then the scale of acceptability is very narrow indeed.  If it were a movie, it wouldn't even rate a PG-13.

kdb


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: nightwing on April 27, 2006, 09:23:40 AM
Quote
I think it's a worthy goal to create well-written stories. Limiting worthiness to adult stories or to stories without blood in them seems to me as pointless as limiting worthiness only to children's stories or to stories with visceral gore.


I'm following this debate with interest.  Thanks guys.  :)

Without addressing Superman 651 specifically (I still don't have it) or Kurt's work in general (which I tend to enjoy), I will pipe up at this point and say I always have trouble with the word "adult" being treated as analogous to stories with dark themes, violence and cruelty and "children's stories" being analogous to uniformly bright and cheery pap.

Of course we all know there are many classic children's stories with death and mayhem...Grimm's fairy tales can be the stuff of nightmares.  But the point I want to make is that adding in blood and gore and murder and rape just for the heck of it does not make a story "adult." It may render it inappropriate for persons under a certain age, but it doesn't convey to the tale any great sophistication or intelligence or literary worthiness just by being there.  Violence, sex, etc have their place in fiction, but it's not so very difficult to tell when it's gratuitous and tacked on, and for my money, that's just about every time they show up in superhero comics.  These are stories about people who wear their underwear outside their pants, parade around in capes, shoot power beams out of their eyes and fingertips, and fool their closest friends with flimsy disguises.  The whole superhero genre is childish and silly and no amount of sexual assaults, dismemberments or decapitations will alter that basic fact.  Superhero comics with "mature themes" are not any more "adult" than their 1950's counterparts.  What they are is a niche genre for really oddball tastes (if not perversions).  Honestly, to me a guy who enjoys watching people in spandex kill and mutilate each other is every bit as weird as the guy who fantasizes about fuzzy animal cartoon characters doing porn.

I'm ranting.  Anyway my point is that the "Adult" label has gone from what it was originally meant to be -- a warning -- to something entirely different...a boast.  And an empty one, at that.

I'm reminded of what David Letterman said about those joints in NYC that  had little booths where you could screen a porn movie in privacy.  They were advertised as films with "mature themes and content." As Dave said, how "mature" is it, really, to watch a movie with your pants around your ankles?


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Michel Weisnor on April 27, 2006, 10:03:20 AM
Post-IC Superman reflects the changing DCU. Now, there is quite a difference between heroes and villains. For example, Lex Luthor was in character when torturing Metallo. This is the same Lex Luthor whom feigned friendship to Superman; then murdered Superman while Clark's friends watched in Superman 169. Lex is being Lex.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Uncle Mxy on April 28, 2006, 12:42:10 PM
Amidst all the gore and anticlimax, no one's commented about Clark having gangreen on the first page.


Title: Re: Superman 651
Post by: Johnny Nevada on May 07, 2006, 12:51:12 PM
OK, I've read this issue (and the other Busiek-written issues), but haven't seen much that's objectionable by my standards at all... so far, it's been reasonably entertaining. Only two real objections: being reminded of "One Year Later"/"Infinite Crisis" (given my loathing of IC), and seeing Clark semi-casually swearing ("Dammit"; think he'd only swear when extremely upset, at best).

Re: the supposed gore: I didn't see much objectionable by my standards (vs. the god-awfulness slasher-film levels in "Infinite Crisis"), aside from wondering why the few bits of blood were colored black (vs. red). As for the Luthor-removing-Metallo's-heart bit, I must've seen Metallo's kryptonite-heart ripped out/removed/replaced with fake kryptonite rendering him inactive/etc. about 83 times by now across various comics/Superman:The Animated Series/etc. (going back to his first appearance in the late 50's where it's replaced by fake kryptonite and rendering him inert)...

The monster-attack scenes seemed standard "mortal people running around panicked while nobody apparently gets hurt unless the writer explicitly has someone point it out/say so" comic-book stuff to me. :-)

Not read Action #838 yet, but plan to do so (sorting through the comics bought at Free Comic Book Day yesterday)...