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Author Topic: A question about multiple universes...  (Read 15022 times)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2005, 12:56:53 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Maybe those are good points, the two worlds concept did tie two TIMES together, the JLA necessarily did as well...Hawkman and the Atom interacted on adventures, but having not read Marvel in the 60s, I don't know how cohesive they were...when did Marvel become so cohesive...right after Spiderman, the Uncany X-Men, and the Fantastic Four, or did that take some time as well?


Quite right, MatterEaterLad; a case might be made in the fact that DC had more of a Marvel-style cosmos in the Silver Age than today. The device of dimensional travel brought the Golden Age together with the Silver Age very nicely, and nothing has been created since that has had the elegance and refusal to invalidate stories that this explanation provided.

When did the interactivity in Marvel comics begin? Right from the outset of Marvel comics. Marvel had something DC in the Silver Age never had, which was Stan Lee doing the scripting chores on just about every single title. Stan had a good-natured hucksterism that urged him to give a mention to the Hulk at least by the fifth issue of FF, when the Torch, reading his comic, says, "I'll be doggoned if this guy don't remind me of the Thing!" We can see it right from the outset in Fantastic Four, when by at least the third issue, during the battle with Korrgo, we see Mr. Fantastic use Ant-Man's shrinking gas to allow a planet of aliens to escape in a single evacuation ship.

DC did not view writing their comics as an act of world-building, and so details were not as concrete as say, Marvel. Witness the various different versions of Atlantis (Lori Lemaris's, Aquaman's, and others), the different vistas of the future (the one with the Superman of 2965, Tommy Tomorrow's future, Kamandi's future, and the future of the Legion of Superheroes) or the multiple explanations for the dominant life form on Mars, for example. If Crisis was viewed by the writers during and after as an opportunity to say "okay, THIS is what Atlantis is like," or "this is what the future is like," the DC Universe would have been stronger and more engrossing because of it.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2005, 01:11:44 AM »

All good points, though the attempts to reckon the two civilizations of Atlantis are interesting in a desparate sort of way... Cheesy

Sometimes I think Marvel benefitted from its ascendency from very little, and yes, guided by one man...

DC was cobbling together a longer continuous history along with new titles for new demographics (like when Congo Bill became Congorilla, or inventing Superbaby at all -- WHO was that supposed to reach, comic reading mother's of toddlers?)...the Flash of Two World's remains devestatingly clever to me!

The problems with crossovers even bothered me in its more limited DC iteration...how could the Flash balance the threat of Starro the Conqueror threatening the JLA with the Weather Wizard running amock in Central City?  What was the Joker up to when Batman ventured into Kandor with Superman?

Welcome to the boards!
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2005, 02:24:55 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
All good points, though the attempts to reckon the two civilizations of Atlantis are interesting in a desparate sort of way... Cheesy

Sometimes I think Marvel benefitted from its ascendency from very little, and yes, guided by one man...

DC was cobbling together a longer continuous history along with new titles for new demographics (like when Congo Bill became Congorilla, or inventing Superbaby at all -- WHO was that supposed to reach, comic reading mother's of toddlers?)...the Flash of Two World's remains devestatingly clever to me!

The problems with crossovers even bothered me in its more limited DC iteration...how could the Flash balance the threat of Starro the Conqueror threatening the JLA with the Weather Wizard running amock in Central City?  What was the Joker up to when Batman ventured into Kandor with Superman?

Welcome to the boards!


Thanks! I'm a longtime lurker.

As for the Flash Starro/Weather Wizard problem...gosh, I don't know. Well, I guess it is that Starro doesn't attack everyday, that may be it.

I suppose one would compare it like this: just because your Dad is in the hospital doesn't mean you get to miss your daughter's school play. An imperfect analogy, I suppose.

But you are right, and these questions OUGHT to be considered; what IS the Joker doing when Batman's in Kandor? A writer that takes the approach of treating the DC Universe like a real place, like the Marvel writers treated theirs, ought to provide an answer to this question. Thus, all writers needed to do was take this approach and perhaps a single event like Crisis would be unecissary.

Returning to Crisis, the reason I thought Crisis was a good idea in theory, was that the intention was to create a DC Universe where Superman talks about what is going on in JLA that month, where the Flash wonders if he should be fighting Weather Wizard when Starro is on the loose in JLA.

Notice I did NOT say Crisis was successful in this regards. First, because it invalidated stories, and the very DEFINITION of a cohesive universe is that the characters remember the past.  Now it's not even clear what the past is. Who IS Hawkman these days, for instance?
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Spaceman Spiff
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« Reply #27 on: July 28, 2005, 03:51:00 AM »

At Marvel, as you said, Stan Lee wrote nearly everything. And he cross-promoted a lot. Of course, since nearly every Marvel story had to have a "hero vs. hero" battle, crossovers were a fact of life. Also, most of the Marvel heroes operated in New York, whereas DC had Metropolis, Gotham, Central City, Coast City, Ivy Town, etc., etc., etc. Much easier for, say, the FF and Spider-Man to meet in midtown Manhattan than to explain why the Atom was in Central City.

At DC, there was a degree of cohesiveness within each editor's domain. For example, Flash and Green Lantern teamed up quite often since both were edited by Julius Schwartz. Also consider the Adam Strange/Hawkman crossovers. Later, when Schwartz took over Batman, we got to see the Weather Wizard fight Batman. And don't forget the Zatanna storyline that crossed through nearly every Schwartz title, ending in JLA.

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
The problems with crossovers even bothered me in its more limited DC iteration...how could the Flash balance the threat of Starro the Conqueror threatening the JLA with the Weather Wizard running amock in Central City? What was the Joker up to when Batman ventured into Kandor with Superman?

Actually, there were some early JLA stories where a member was absent and the explanation was that he/she was "busy on a personal case." In later JLA stories, there were many times that members were said to be "away on a mission in space." I always wondered who summoned the JLAers, and why we didn't get to read about those missions. Of course, that was just an excuse to eliminate some heroes from a story. I also had to wonder where all the non-JLAers (Supergirl, the Teen Titans, etc.) were when the JLA was fighting some invading aliens or the like.

It seems to me that the single universe that DC got after the CoIE (Crisis of Idiotic Editors) has this problem in spades. If a group of aliens invades, you've got the JLA, JSA, Titans, Marvel Family, and Sugar & Spike involved, or you've got to explain why they aren't! But if you do involve everyone, you can stretch the story through 732 monthly issues and challenge the readers to get every one (and the special cover variants) so they don't miss a single important plot-point. Then you collect all the stories into a TPB within six months.

Please pardon the previous paragraph. I accidentally hit the Sarcasm-Lock key on my keyboard.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2005, 04:13:23 AM »

LOL...

I was going to bring up the point of Marvel heroes having to go mano a mano everytime they first meet (the time could have been used for better purposes and is kind of a waste of energy)...about as "real" as two accountants having to slug it out at a "national convention" for allowable deductible corporate losses  in Debuque, Iowa...

Actually, to me, a "crisis" as promoted in Silver Age DC was a sufficient call to arms, and it superceded the heroes personal obligations...and hell, I trusted the Flash to keep Central City going on his own...
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2005, 04:34:30 AM »

Quote from: "Spaceman Spiff"
At Marvel, as you said, Stan Lee wrote nearly everything. And he cross-promoted a lot. Of course, since nearly every Marvel story had to have a "hero vs. hero" battle, crossovers were a fact of life. Also, most of the Marvel heroes operated in New York, whereas DC had Metropolis, Gotham, Central City, Coast City, Ivy Town, etc., etc., etc. Much easier for, say, the FF and Spider-Man to meet in midtown Manhattan than to explain why the Atom was in Central City.


Yeah, having all the Marvel heroes more or less in the same city did make the rationale for crossovers easier, but a shared universe is more than just crossovers.

Quote from: "Spaceman Spiff"
At DC, there was a degree of cohesiveness within each editor's domain. For example, Flash and Green Lantern teamed up quite often since both were edited by Julius Schwartz. Also consider the Adam Strange/Hawkman crossovers. Later, when Schwartz took over Batman, we got to see the Weather Wizard fight Batman. And don't forget the Zatanna storyline that crossed through nearly every Schwartz title, ending in JLA. .


You're so right - Julius Schwartz's contribution to forming the idea of a shared DC history is impressive and has gone mostly ignored by Marvel Zombies, who want to believe the idea of a shared universe began and ended with Stan Lee. I wouldn't say that Julie went as far as the Marvel writers did, but he took one very important step in that direction, which was not just that the characters COULD meet one another, but that they REMEMBERED their previous meetings. And thus, a sense of history was acquired.

Quote from: "Spaceman Spiff"
Actually, there were some early JLA stories where a member was absent and the explanation was that he/she was "busy on a personal case." In later JLA stories, there were many times that members were said to be "away on a mission in space." I always wondered who summoned the JLAers, and why we didn't get to read about those missions. Of course, that was just an excuse to eliminate some heroes from a story. I also had to wonder where all the non-JLAers (Supergirl, the Teen Titans, etc.) were when the JLA was fighting some invading aliens or the like.

It seems to me that the single universe that DC got after the CoIE (Crisis of Idiotic Editors) has this problem in spades. If a group of aliens invades, you've got the JLA, JSA, Titans, Marvel Family, and Sugar & Spike involved, or you've got to explain why they aren't! But if you do involve everyone, you can stretch the story through 732 monthly issues and challenge the readers to get every one (and the special cover variants) so they don't miss a single important plot-point. Then you collect all the stories into a TPB within six months.

Please pardon the previous paragraph. I accidentally hit the Sarcasm-Lock key on my keyboard.


I think everyone here can agree that the excesses of cynical, grotesque, and pointless maxi-series are offensive. They do not, however, invalidate the idea of the value of interrelated continuity any more than Mengele invalidated genetic science.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #30 on: July 28, 2005, 04:42:36 AM »

But you know, the continuity was there at DC as well...handled differently...

Think of people in the same line of work today...they meet a few times a year, or exchange papers in the scientific community...

A similar concept goes back to the Justice Society of America...and that really amalgamated some freaky characters, from comedy to magic...a bigger feat than Thor and the Hulk whacking each other in "continuity" (sorry, don't even know if they both were "Avengers" or whatever the other group was)...
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2005, 05:20:32 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
But you know, the continuity was there at DC as well...handled differently...

Think of people in the same line of work today...they meet a few times a year, or exchange papers in the scientific community...


I'm not arguing that the Marvel approach was "better" than the one that occurred as a result of the multi-editor system at DC. Both yielded some really great stuff.

And the JLA was a great, awesome concept - like the exchange of papers in the scientific community, as you say. But where it differs from a "tighter" approach to world-building is this: the events that took place in JLA were seldom mentioned in the individual titles of the respective members (especially if said member was in a title written by a different editor).

I am, however, arguing that the Marvel "tight" approach emphasizing interconnectivity to their shared universe made the Marvel Universe feel more like a real place. If the intention behind Crisis was to yield a DC Universe that adopted this approach, it would have had a beneficial impact because it would have ended the "bottle" approach to each story, and made the characters individuals in an active, real world. And thus, easier to care about and get emotionally involved with.

This makes the failure of Crisis all the more total, because it failed to deliver on this promise, and worse, invalidated the history of characters (and all a shared universe is, basically, is history - a history to use as a tool for characterization and to provide seeds for future stories).

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
A similar concept goes back to the Justice Society of America...and that really amalgamated some freaky characters, from comedy to magic...a bigger feat than Thor and the Hulk whacking each other in "continuity" (sorry, don't even know if they both were "Avengers" or whatever the other group was)...


In defense of Stan Lee, at least during the Silver Age, superbrawls between heroes always happened for a plausible reason, or because of an appropriate misunderstanding or villainous coersion. Having Wolverine pop up in every darn title is very much a Modern Age conceit, the product of inferior writers.
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
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