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Author Topic: A question about multiple universes...  (Read 15024 times)
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #40 on: August 29, 2005, 04:36:01 AM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Having Superman not be the first superhero ever, and merely having him be a follower in a heroic tradition established by others decades before, is rather an insult to Superman's role in the history of comics, where he WAS the first. Superman isn't just another superhero; he was the point of origin for the entire concept. Superman as "just another superhero" compromises his uniqueness, even if he is the first after a brief pause in superheroic activity.

Superman put it all together, but he wasn't the first superhero ever, or even the first at any one aspect of superhero-dom, even in the comics.  Lee Falk's Phantom and Mandrake were the first comic book characters to wear tights and have unnatural "super" powers, respectively.  (In fact, Action Comics #1, the first Superman comic, also introduced Zatara, a Mandrake ripoff, and Siegel + Shuster had their own ripoff named Dr. Occult).  Superman's specific powers (heck, the specific verbiage S+S "adopts" to describe his powers!) came from Philip Wylie's Gladiator novel.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #41 on: August 29, 2005, 05:04:37 AM »

Superman was the first superhero - at least in the form that we accept the character type as existing: secret identity with a degree of irony, emphasis on science fiction or fantastic elements as a matter of course, unreal powers that were so exaggerated they went into the realm of Tall Tales, a distinctive means of dress or costume, and a morality that is a vague humanitarianism that involves rescuing all peoples in danger. The characters of the Phantom and Mandrake and Doc Savage all possess one or several of those attributes, but they do not possess the total package that Superman did. They were not enough of a leap from the pulp and adventure elements that existed in the aether at that time into an all-new creation, to the extent that Superman was. They did not create the superhero genre (at least, in the form that it actually took).

As for Wylie's GLADIATOR novel...why do people point to this as being the starting point for the Superman concept? There are no similarities between the two. Hugo Danner is a misanthrope that because of his strength, is unable to ever lead a normal life despite his many attempts, and he bounces from job to job and city to city until his strange gift isolates him and he has to do and go somewhere else. He is not heroic; his priorities are to survive. Oh, and Danner gets a lot - a lot - of sex, too, which in and of itself is not an important difference but shows a wildly different mentality to the protagonist that the novel worked with.

If anybody is the closest and tightest inspiration for Superman, it would be Doc Savage. Their first names are both Clark, both possess supreme strength and phenomenal skill at nearly every field of human endeavor and are completely non-beatable by most foes. Both have a Fortress of Solitude, both have a spunky, attractive young female cousin that fights crime beside them, both have a science-emphasis. Both have given some variation on the "Because of who I am I can never have a wife" speech. Most compelling of all, both have the jist of the superhero "protect and serve" mentality of coming to people in trouble despite the situation and a vow against killing.
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DoctorZero
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« Reply #42 on: August 29, 2005, 05:35:17 AM »

Let me throw in my own two cents about the end of the multiverse.

Yes, DC wasn't upfront concerning their reasons for doing so.  Marvel was outselling them.  Marvel had placed their Golden Age characters all on the same earth as their modern day ones.  They didn't need any cumbersome excuse for getting the characters together if they wanted to do so, as did DC with the JSA.  A crossover wasn't possible unless it included some character who had the ability to travel between the parallel worlds, like Superman or the Flash or possibly Green Lantern.  It wasn't the fans who wanted it simpler, it was the DC editors and writers.

Yes, Marv's idea of rebooting everyone post crisis was probably better.  In fact, that's what DC is finally doing with their Infinite Crisis.  They will reboot 99.9% of the DC line, most books starting over with new #1 issues.  

In the end, DC lost more than they gained.  The end result of Crisis on Infinite Earth's was that a lot of characters had histories which no longer made any sense, a lot of stories had to be dumped from continuity, and a lot of problems were caused rather than solved.  I still recall DC's comments at the time:  They claimed they weren't destroying continuity, they were creating it.  Fact is, they destroyed what continuity they did have.  Zero Hour was supposed to explain all the post Crisis gaffs, but it too fell short.

Crisis on Infinite Earths was supposed to be the solution for all DC's continuity problems, but in the end it only created even more problems.  The fact that DC is still trying to sort them out today indicates how wrong they were with it.
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #43 on: August 29, 2005, 05:39:43 AM »

Pre-Superman Heroes:

Buck Rogers
Tarzan
Doc Savage
The Shadow
Conan
Detective Dan
Dick Tracy
Popeye
Flash Gordon
Zorro
Doctor Occult
Slam Bradley


If you all want to know what really inspired Superman just read this interview with Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster where they tell all:

http://superman.nu/seventy/interview/?part=0
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« Reply #44 on: August 29, 2005, 06:09:04 AM »

Since Julian brought it up, and he's probably not seen my posts on this matter elsewhere, more fundamental differences between Superman and Hugo Danner are their themes.

Danner really wasn't trying just to survive.  That came too easily for him.  Hugo wasn't misanthropic except at the very end when he was ultimately frustrated and despairing over a world that had no place for him.  He was a superman in his values -- note the girlfriend who left him because he was too good for her, the cops and banker who tried to beat him up because they refused to believe a man would use his super-strength just to help people, etc. -- not only his body, and ordinary humans were too flawed to accept him for this.  He was trying to fit into society.  Wylie's theme for Gladiator was our society has come to glorify the mediocre so that a man of truly gifted talents would actually be at a disadvantage over average men.  That was the theme of Gladiator.

Siegel took almost the exact same events of Gladiator and molded them into his Superman stories, at least the earliest ones.  What's so different?  His protagonist clearly celebrates the gifted individual and his ability to make a positive influence on the world.  Superman is a positive statement on the role of the superior individual and how he would fit into society.

Hugo Danner never found his place in the world.

Superman/Clark Kent certainly did -- twice over.
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #45 on: August 29, 2005, 12:57:49 PM »

Wow -- didn't realize I'd stir up quite this much discussion.

My only point here was that calling him the "first superhero in comics" is something of a misnomer.  Superman was the first to put all of the pieces together (and integrate innovations from others over time -- Shazam!), and that's huge!  But a lot of what we think of as "Superman" showed up first elsewhere, in both the comic book and non-comic contexts.  

I was explicit in saying that Superman's powers first showed up in Gladiator's Hugo Danner character, not necessarily his other character aspects.  But I'm reading all these responses about how other aspects of Superman aren't like Hugo Danner.  Yes I know that, but that wasn't really my point...  it was just about the powers.  

Why make that point at all?  IMO, after decades of sustained success, Superman is revered and ubiquitous enough that he doesn't need to be "the first hero in the DC universe".  Every superhero since then owes a debt to Superman and everyone with any sense knows it without needing it codified.  He can be an iconic role model without being the first.  And, the fact that some of the other "firsts" are still kicking around makes the notion of casting Superman as "the first hero ever on the scene" seem kinda silly to me.  

As for this issue of what Crisis failed to achieve, what IC might hope to achieve, etc., I really hope they're using a master database to map out characters, locations, events, relationships between characters over time, etc.  When a comic book script gets broken down into "characters and places used and when" and matched up in a database to see if it can make any sense, then I think things could work.  Marvel's effectively doing a reboot "in place" with the Ultimate series -- am kinda surprised that DC isn't taking the same path.
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Maximara
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« Reply #46 on: August 29, 2005, 01:11:39 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Most compelling of all, both have the jist of the superhero "protect and serve" mentality of coming to people in trouble despite the situation and a vow against killing.


Actaully the vow against killing came later for both Superman and Batman. Superman started out like Sam Spade/Phillip Marlow with superpowers (See this steal bar? -twists it into a knot- this is your neck if you don't tell me what I want to know) but quickly mellowed into the 1940's Super-Roosevelt version that set the standard. But in the beginning Suerman was almost on the level of Supertough guy boardering on Superthug.
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TELLE
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« Reply #47 on: August 29, 2005, 11:43:49 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Superman was the first superhero - at least in the form that we accept the character type as existing: secret identity with a degree of irony, emphasis on science fiction or fantastic elements as a matter of course, unreal powers that were so exaggerated they went into the realm of Tall Tales, a distinctive means of dress or costume, and a morality that is a vague humanitarianism that involves rescuing all peoples in danger.


The Shadow knows these elements also describe him. Cheesy
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