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Author Topic: What might you reject?  (Read 28225 times)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #32 on: August 04, 2005, 06:54:56 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Simply, total continuity is impossible, sometimes it can be repaired, often with disastrous results and it still isn't repaired, i.e, crisis, zero hour...

Changes like this are interesting, and what we all like to talk about and debate, but I can wish it to never change but it has to, eras change...


You are absolutely right, Matter-Eater Lad. Total continuity is impossible, simply because people make mistakes. That doesn't mean, however, that the attempt to make things fit together and make sense with the past is destined to failure forever. The trick to building good continuity is to look at all the pieces, fit them together, find patterns, and build on that. Even mistakes can be a strength when building continuity; look at the wonderful job Busiek did with AVENGERS FOREVER, reconciling mistakes and flaws, so that not only are they NOT mistakes and flaws, they're explanations that can be built on to create a story.

And sure, times change, but let's face it: the Silver Age was, well, BETTER than other periods - not because of nostalgia or sentimental reasons - but for the very concrete, real, and simple reason that there was a giant glut of talented people.

In any given year of the 1960s, we had Stan Lee writing just about any Marvel title of consequence; Jim Shooter and Curt Swan on LEGION, Mort Weisenger watching over the Superman titles, with John Broome, Gardner Fox, and Edmund Hamilton on most other DC titles. In any given year in the 1970s, we had Steve Englehart writing AVENGERS and DOCTOR STRANGE; we had Jim Aparo doing BRAVE AND THE BOLD; we had Elliot S. Maggin writing SUPERMAN and Cary Bates doing LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, there was Steve Gerber writing DEFENDERS; there was Jack Kirby doing his Fourth World comics and KAMANDI; even the worst stuff of the Silver Age, the lowest stuff on the spinner rack, like Gerry Conway's run on FANTASTIC FOUR or Marv Wolfman's TOMB OF DRACULA, stand much higher than even the average comic of today. I'm not quick to blame it on gimmicry like our moderator Super Monkey is; Comics are founded on good-natured hucksterism. One can blame the rising cost of comics, but that's not the answer either - it isn't that comics cost a lot, it's that very seldom do you ever feel like your money is well spent. Rather, I point the finger at "decompressed" storytelling, and just plain old failing upwards, with peopled assigned to comics who just can't write (yes, I am looking at you, Chuck Austen, Keith Giffen, John Byrne, Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Jurgens, Mike Grell, and Warren Ellis).

The only people working in the Modern Age I would say are equivalent in writing ability to people like Bates, Maggin, Englehart, and Gerber would be Alan Moore, Kurt Busiek, Dan Slott, and Christopher Priest.

I don't mean to slight the Golden Age either, but the fact is, while there were very many talented people that worked in those times, it simply wasn't as good as the Silver Age was; there were talented people, but not AS many talented people. To be totally fair, there were bright spots: Moulton Marston's acid-trip brilliant though creepily sexually deviant WONDER WOMAN, Kirby's CAPTAIN AMERICA, C.C. Beck's cute MARVEL FAMILY. and Eisner's SPIRIT. For the most part, Golden Age plots were centered on rote; all ending with a knockout punch to the bad guy's (glass) jaw that clocks him. Further, while the Silver Age was centered on innovation, the Golden Age had heroes that came in basically two flavors: Superman clones and Batman clones.  For the Love of God, count the Batman clones of the Golden Age: the Black Terror, Catman and Kitten, the Grim Reaper, even Green Arrow, whose archery gimmick cannot not hide the fact he was based on Batman's blueprint. To be fair, their is plenty of ugly plagiarism and derivativeness in many Silver Age characters and concepts, but the point is, it was not institutionalized to the extent it was in the so-called Golden Age. It should even be noted that even people that worked during the Golden Age, like Jack Kirby and Gardner Fox, do their best work in the Silver Age.

Just about every imaginative concept that exists today in the DC Universe was created in the Silver Age. The Flash, for example, was exclusively a product of the Silver Age; Gorilla City, the Cosmic Treadmill, even the dimensional travel that let the Golden Age continue in some form in "Flash of Two Worlds" was a Silver Age innovation. Superman's uniqueness is almost entirely the product of his Silver Age stable of (genius) writers and his (genius) god-editor, Weisenger, and while the E.E. Smith Lensman-concept (let's be generous and say it was "borrowed") was hardly original, applying it to superheroes WAS; thus we get Green Lantern and more innovatively, the Green Lantern Corps.

Roy Thomas, that sentimental genius, got a lot of mileage out of Earth-2, but the fact is, the Ultra-Humanite is no Luthor. The few villians that the Golden Age produced required research to unearth. Even then, it should be noted Thomas drew out so many concepts not from DC's history, but from novels like GLADIATOR and movies like METROPOLIS and KING KONG. And no matter how you slice it, the villian-impoverished Earth-2 has no Darkseid, no Weather Wizard, no Star Sapphire, no Brainiac, no Sinestro, and an Injustice Gang made of the same faces over and over: the Wizard, the Huntress, Sportsmaster, and that violinist with his magical violin.
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Gary
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« Reply #33 on: August 04, 2005, 08:10:07 PM »

I'd hardly tout the Silver Age stories as examples of good writing. True, they do show tremendous imagination, and that is their strength. But they lacked in other aspects.

For example, I recently bought the trade paperbacks featuring the Silver Age JLA/JSA team-up stories. Many of these are (rightfully) hailed as classics. But there's no way the stories would hold up by today's standards. The characterizations are mostly bland, the premises often shaky, the plots full of arbitrary deus ex machinae.

As for continuity, yes, there were fewer continuity problems back then, but that was mainly because most of the time they didn't try to have continuity. The Weisenger Superman stories were almost completely episodic. Characters rarely remembered what happened in the last issue. Kryptonian artifacts or alien races would show up in one story and then be forgotten in the next.

I'm not trying to bash the Silver Age here. I've greatly enjoyed reading those stories. But to suggest that comic writing has all gone downhill since then is just wrong. I think if you took even a mediocre modern-day writer like Byrne and sent him back fifty years in a time machine, he'd have a lot he could teach the writers of the era.

(Remembers "Superman vs. The Earth Stealers")

Okay, well, maybe not Byrne....  :wink:
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Gangbuster
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« Reply #34 on: August 04, 2005, 09:22:06 PM »

Personally, I think that comics writing has gotten better. But Superman hasn't, and that's the problem. Superman writing is generally crappy, except when they bring in guest writers. (Birthright and Bizarro Comics are examples of this.)

Superman just isn't super anymore. He's a pretty boring character, who just gets in punch-out fights with people. Yet the slugfests that happen in every new comic still aren't nearly as interesting as Popeye's were. Give Superman his spinach back!

I understand what you're saying about the Silver Age, but there were some really well-written stories during that time. The Last Days of Superman, the Death of Superman...and I challenge you to read "The Bizarro who goofed up history" without laughing! I dare you!

New Superman comics can't make me laugh. They don't make me feel sorry for Superman, they don't make me gasp, and they don't leave me guessing. So the three stories I mentioned are at least much better writing than the new stories.

I do agree with you (if this is what you were saying) that Bronze Age stories were even more well-written, though. You can't beat the Alan Moore or Elliot Maggin stories, no matter how hard you try.
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Gary
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« Reply #35 on: August 04, 2005, 09:43:17 PM »

Quote from: "Gangbuster Thorul"
I challenge you to read "The Bizarro who goofed up history" without laughing! I dare you!


Heh. Got a link to it?  It's a good point, one thing you can definitely say is that comics were a lot better at being fun back then. I remember some of the old Bizarro and Mxyzptlk stories. There hasn't been much like that since -- Phil Foglio's work is about the only comparable thing I can think of.

Quote from: "Gangbuster Thorul"
I do agree with you (if this is what you were saying) that Bronze Age stories were even more well-written, though. You can't beat the Alan Moore or Elliot Maggin stories, no matter how hard you try.


I agree about Moore -- he just about single-handedly raised the bar for comics writing. He came in at the very tail end of the Bronze Age, though. Personally, I'm not a big Maggin fan; I generally like his stuff but wouldn't put him in a class with greats like Moore or Starlin.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #36 on: August 04, 2005, 09:56:34 PM »

Quote from: "Gary"
I'd hardly tout the Silver Age stories as examples of good writing. True, they do show tremendous imagination, and that is their strength. But they lacked in other aspects.

For example, I recently bought the trade paperbacks featuring the Silver Age JLA/JSA team-up stories. Many of these are (rightfully) hailed as classics. But there's no way the stories would hold up by today's standards. The characterizations are mostly bland, the premises often shaky, the plots full of arbitrary deus ex machinae.

As for continuity, yes, there were fewer continuity problems back then, but that was mainly because most of the time they didn't try to have continuity. The Weisenger Superman stories were almost completely episodic. Characters rarely remembered what happened in the last issue. Kryptonian artifacts or alien races would show up in one story and then be forgotten in the next.

I'm not trying to bash the Silver Age here. I've greatly enjoyed reading those stories. But to suggest that comic writing has all gone downhill since then is just wrong. I think if you took even a mediocre modern-day writer like Byrne and sent him back fifty years in a time machine, he'd have a lot he could teach the writers of the era.

(Remembers "Superman vs. The Earth Stealers")

Okay, well, maybe not Byrne....  :wink:


When I read this, I laughed very, very bitterly.

The Modern Age (screw Bronze and Iron; after the Silver Age, it's all Modern Age to me, and definable only by individual writers, not by geologic ages) is defined by writer-artist non-talents and artists that just can't write. Did I say the Modern Age was intellectually bankrupt? No; the Modern Age has a handful (I can count them on one hand) of great writers whose work is perhaps the equal of even the highlights of the Silver Age writers: Englehart, Fox, Kirby, Bates, and Maggin.

I was saying that the AVERAGE comic was better in the Silver Age. Thanks to decompressed storytelling and page killing subplots that go nowhere, there is more story in one ISSUE of even a lousy Silver Age comic like KA-ZAR or Claremont's IRON FIST or SON OF SATAN. Compare it to the bottom of the barrel crap of today: WILDCATS, Warren Ellis's "work," and anything produced by the cold concrete of the Top Cow basement. There is no comparison.

Even the average, technically adept though uninspired writers of the Silver Age were better than even the so-called "good" writers of today. Example: Grant Morrison vs. Bill Mantlo.

Bill Mantlo's correct characterizations and uninspired plotting put him well above fanboy-favorite Grant Morrison, who has wildly incorrect characterizations from noble, tormented Orion as a mindless, hulk-like berserker, to Batman as a one-note, boring weirdo whose sole expression is "growl."

Grant Morrison did not do a single story in his Justice League run that a million other writers did not do better (seriously - when you have ANGELS - angels from GOD, and it feels like just another alien invasion seen in a million other comics, you're doing something wrong), and he was tainted by his terminal lack of characterization. Tomorrow Woman rebelled against her creators. WHY? Why did she do that? We don't get an answer. She has no personality, no motivation. Her decision to sacrifice itself is so unprecidented that it comes off as an insane whim.

Bill Mantlo on the other hand, gave characters motivations, whether it be the Sub-Mariner's honor and legitimate grievances against the surface world, Magneto's haughtiness, and Doctor Doom's monstrous arrogance and power in his SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP, to the happy go lucky but conflicted Warren Worthington III and Iceman in CHAMPIONS.

I don't mean to sound like I'm picking on Grant Morrison or upholding Bill Mantlo; I'm just pointing out that even an average scribe of the Silver Age is far more talented than the so-called geniuses of today.
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llozymandias
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« Reply #37 on: August 05, 2005, 12:21:43 AM »

Silver-age Luthor could have easily cured his baldness if he wanted to.  The whole "i hate Superman only because he made me go bald" thing seemed to start in the late 60s or early 70s.  I wonder how many people have actually read Jerry Siegel's story from 1960.  A lot of people credit Elliott S Maggin for Lex's experiment in creating life.  That was in Siegel's story.  In that story Lex started hating superboy for ruining his greatest experiment.  He believed Supes did it deliberately out of jealousy of Lex's superior intellect.  The baldness was treated as a side issue.  At first Lex's intention was to use his super-intelligence to make himself more famous than Superboy.  Lex's first attempt to kill Superboy was after several more of his experiments backfired.  Lex believed Superboy was actively sabotaging his work.  Basically Lex hated Superman, because he saw him as an obstacle/impediment to Lex's greatness.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #38 on: August 05, 2005, 12:50:37 AM »

As far as the Golden Age goes, it just seems to me that super heroes battled the enemies that were the enemies of the time...maybe it was two bit crooks, maybe Nazis, maybe it was the Ultra Humanite, maybe it was Luthor's first appearance as a p-r-e-t-t-y formidable enemy for the time...

Of course, you always have to up the ante, and the nuclear age and the age of fantastic science fiction were just added in...

Actually, I kind of agree that there was a big change in the "bronze" age, that was a beginning of self doubt that struck me very much, in some ways, as much as post-Crisis stuff that I frankly don't pay much attention to except a mild interest in reading about it as an abstract concept...
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #39 on: August 05, 2005, 03:11:29 AM »

As far as Superman eras go, here is how I rank them, please note this is only based on my personal taste:

1st Sliver Age  - IMHO the greatest run of any Superhero mythos ever, period. For my money this is the ultimate Superman. The greatest Superhero comics of all time.

2nd Atomic Age aka the late 40's to late 50's  - IMHO the most underrated era of Superman, and one of my personal favorites. I tend to enjoy stories from this era more than any other, besides of course the Sliver Age stories.

3rd Bronze Age late 60's to late 70's - The comics became more serious, the relevant Age of DC had begun. The format changed from the power pack stories of old to full issue tales. The Artwork became more modern looking and dramatic. Still fun, lots of great tales but overall not as fun as the above two, IMHO.

4th Early 80's - 1986 - The comics went back to being a bit wackier, it was the 80's after all, but still some of the all time classic tales were made during this time, Superman comes to an end. Short run, when it was good it was really good and when it was bad, yikes was it ever bad, most people tag this to the Bronze Age, BTW.

5th Golden Age - 38 to 48 - The most historic decade but also the most boring, sorry but having the ever more powerful Superman "fight" normal crooks doesn't really do it for me. Most of the stories were very repetitive and non-suspenseful There were still some great stories made here, but IMHO, Superman didn't become really Super until the late 40's.

S!
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