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Author Topic: Who can save Superman now? KURT BUSIEK!  (Read 148319 times)
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Kurt Busiek
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« Reply #208 on: October 27, 2005, 06:01:15 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
Iron Man used to be tied to the Korean War but was later updated to the Vietnam War to keep him contemporary.


No -- the Korean War had been over for almost a decade by the time Iron Man first appeared.

But your point stands if you rephrase it: Iron Man used to be tied to the Vietnam War but was later updated to eliminate those references to keep him contemporary.

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One team that's been glaringly neglected in this regard is the JSA.  They seem inextricably tied to WW2 so as the rest of the DCU remains eternally youthful and contemporary, the JSA seems to be inevitably becoming older and older in comparison.  When the two Supermen first fought, only a decade or so separated them in ages so they could legitimately look virtually the same.  As time went on, now the original JSA members are supposed to be well into their senior years.

Would you agree with a revamp or subtle updating of the JSA to tie them to later eras?


No.  No more than I'd support the idea of moving Captain America's roots out of WWII.

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How about making them tied to Vietnam nor or the Gulf War?


I think that would change them so utterly that you might as well create a new team.  Vietnam was such a different war, such a different atmosphere.

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Must the JSA remain forever bonded to the WW2 era?


I don't see it as a hardship, but rather as the point.  The contemporary characters get updated to stay contemporary -- but the JSA are the "originals."  Uproot them and contemporize them and they're not the originals any more, they're just another set of contemporary characters, and we already have a lot of those.  Originals are rare, though -- it's what makes those JSAers special.

kdb
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Kurt Busiek
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« Reply #209 on: October 27, 2005, 06:17:51 PM »

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
Should be?  Depends on if they'd make for a good story, and if people want to tell it.

I suppose I think of it in terms of "do people want to read it".


And there's the difference between a writer's perspective and a reader's!

But more seriously -- if nobody wants to tell a particular, but readers want to see it, then I think if you do it anyway odds are you wind up with a bad story.

If somebody wants to tell a story, and the readers aren't interested -- well, maybe if the story is compellingly told, they'll change their minds.

But in general, I think the best way to test whether readers want something or not is to offer it to them.  Provided it's a story someone wants to tell in the first place.

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Some axioms, once undone, can rarely be redone without a total reboot.  Killing would seem to be one of them.


If so, then it's already done.  I tend to think continuity's a bit more plastic than that -- there are readers who refuse to ignore anything no matter how much they don't like it (indeed, some of these guys seem to insist that the stuff they don't like is so important that they'll cling to an interpretation of something that they hate and talk about it endlessly), but I think most readers are more willing to shovel bad ideas under the rug and agree never to speak of them again.

For instance, if the Metal Men started turning up, and Gold was one of them while that green guy wasn't, and Doc was there, and nobody ever mentioned again that they have human brains, I'm confident that most MM fans would breathe a sigh of relief.  There would be some readers who'd keep insisting that this would be violating continuity and it should be explained away somehow and it would color their every reaction to the Metal Men -- but strangely, these would almost all be readers who would rather have Gold in the team and them not have human brains.

Were I writing Superman and thought he should not only never kill but never have killed, I simply wouldn't bring up any past instances where he'd done so, and I'd let readers decide for themselves whether the guy they were reading about in my stories ever had blood on his hands.

But if I had what I thought was a really good idea for a story where Superman killed someone, and I thought it could be done right and was compelling, and DC thought it was good enough that they wanted to do it, then I'd hope enough readers saw it my way to give the story a chance.  But in the end, I've got to use my own judgment -- not only is it what I'm equipped with, it's what I get hired for.

kdb
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #210 on: October 27, 2005, 08:01:52 PM »

The Golden Age Superman killed a lot of people before DC realize that most of their readers were children and they had him denounce killing and and even take an oath against killing, going as far as to say that he never killed anyone and never would. The 1st two years were as a result re-conned out. Johnny Red-beard had the current Superman kill as well, after he exposed them to gold K and thus leaving them harmless and defenseless, Superman then the brutally butchered them in cold blood, the idea being that he felt bad afterwards and promised never to kill again, though I don't understand why he had to committed cold hearted murder to figure that one out, but that's just me I guess Wink
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« Reply #211 on: October 27, 2005, 08:33:22 PM »

Thanks for you perspective on the JSA, and indirectly the E-2 Superman, when it comes to updating, Kurt.  While no real 'right' answer exists here, and we're just expressing our opinions, you have the dual statuses of one of the community and visiting 'demigod' as a working writer.  Of course, your opinion has a greater weight. Smiley

If we keep the JSA tied to WW2 as a necessary core element, that forces us to invent more convoluted ways to make them interact with the contemporary DCU heroes.  Eventually, we might have to make them do the equivalent of the SA Superboy time-travelling to another era to meet the contemporary folks and vice versa.  It just won't be credible in a few decades that the JSA would still be alive or in any shape to fight alongside the youthful JLA; it's stretching it a bit right now.
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Captain Kal

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Kurt Busiek
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« Reply #212 on: October 27, 2005, 09:11:21 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
If we keep the JSA tied to WW2 as a necessary core element, that forces us to invent more convoluted ways to make them interact with the contemporary DCU heroes.  Eventually, we might have to make them do the equivalent of the SA Superboy time-travelling to another era to meet the contemporary folks and vice versa.  It just won't be credible in a few decades that the JSA would still be alive or in any shape to fight alongside the youthful JLA; it's stretching it a bit right now.


How many of the original JSAers are left?

I think there will come a time when the original JSAers would be limited to time-travel stories and period pieces, but on the one hand, I don't think that's so bad -- I like period pieces, myself -- and on the other, that's already the case for most of them, isn't it?

I think Geoff and crew have been doing a pretty good job in spinning out contemporary successors to the JSA (I particularly like Johnny Thunder as the new Thunderbolt), so there can still be a Dr. Midnite, a Dr. Fate and so on interacting with the modern-day DCU.  They're not the same characters, to be sure, but then, if you contemporized the originals, then they wouldn't be the same characters either, any more than the current Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman are their original selves.

But if you do contemporize the originals, you wind up in the same position as we're in with the Big Three -- you don't have the originals any more.  So I'd rather have Pieter Cross today and Charles McNider in the past, than an altered McNider today and no access to the original version of McNider.

Sure, there are problems if you do it either way, but I think the problem of, say, eventually making Jade into Alan Scott's descendant rather than directly his child is the sort of thing that happens with contemporized characters anyway, even if it's not specifically that.  But not having the originals any more -- that strikes me as the bigger problem.

I'd love to write a mini-series someday about the All-Star Squadron in the days after WWII, coming home to an uncertain world and adjusting once again to peacetime.  I have very little interest in a JSA that formed in the late Fifties and fought in Vietnam.  Those just wouldn't be the characters I know, and they wouldn't be DC's foundational generation any more.

So you're gonna get continuity headaches one way or the other.  I just prefer the ones that come with the original characters in their original context.

kdb
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« Reply #213 on: October 27, 2005, 09:52:01 PM »

All-Star Squadron was one of my favorite comics as a kid, for less than a dollar, I could read stories with billions of heroes Wink

The art and writing was fun, I sure wish that DC would release the whole run as TPBs.
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« Reply #214 on: October 27, 2005, 10:06:50 PM »

Love the idea of the return from WW2, like a "Best Years of Our Lives" for Golden Age heroes...
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #215 on: October 28, 2005, 12:45:38 AM »

Quote from: "Super Monkey"
The Golden Age Superman killed a lot of people before DC realize that most of their readers were children and they had him denounce killing and and even take an oath against killing, going as far as to say that he never killed anyone and never would. The 1st two years were as a result re-conned out.

There wasn't strong continuity in those stories, though.  A retcon doesn't mean much when continuity doesn't mean much, where consequences don't follow much from one story to the next.  I alluded to that somewhat when I mentioned not counting Elseworlds.  

Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
Were I writing Superman and thought he should not only never kill but never have killed, I simply wouldn't bring up any past instances where he'd done so, and I'd let readers decide for themselves whether the guy they were reading about in my stories ever had blood on his hands.

But not saying something can deaden perfectly good stories down the road.  Suppose, hypothetically speaking, Superman wants to call out Wonder Woman because she murdered a bleeding nose telepath.  If his past killing is unmentioned as part of Supes and WW hashing it out, it's probably not going to be a terribly strong story.  If he states he's never killed anyone, a lot of folks would cry "mind control -- not again!".  And if you simply don't tell that story, then that fundamental isn't really used.

To get to that 'place' where the suspension of disbelief happens, where you're in some other world, I think you need to have some traits that are pretty immutable to latch onto, even if it's a counterpoint to what you're reading.  Most of the Elseworlds work because it's neat to watch those 'immutables' get messed with, but that requires strong characterization.
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