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Author Topic: Preview: ALL STAR SUPERMAN #1  (Read 39497 times)
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dto
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2005, 10:50:37 AM »

I'm still wondering if the All-Star line isn't DC playing "counter-programming" with its own regular titles.  We've heard rumors that the DC Universe will become more "grim and gritty" -- perhaps the "brighter" All-Star line is designed to retain disaffected readers and Silver/Bronze fans?  Why else would DC create a whole different continuity (in addition to their animated universe titles) when supposingly we're not getting a new Multiverse in this latest Crisis, and "Hypertime" is going "bye-bye"?

Concerning the artwork, I assume the All-Star universe's Clark Kent left the Daily Planet to become the host of The Tonight Show.   :wink:

And could "General Lane" be Lois' father?  In current DC continuity, Sam Lane died defending the White House in Our Worlds at War.  Interesting to see who else is still "alive" here...
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Genis Vell
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« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2005, 01:15:09 PM »

Quote from: "Super Monkey"
That's All-Star Superman, not Pre-Crisis Superman, it's a whole new start.


I consider it a great tribute to that Superman. In the next issues we will see

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Luthor classic villain, Bizarro World, Clark as Superboy...
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2005, 05:24:33 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Here's a question: if "All-Star-ization" continues, will the effects it yields be positive or negative?

If good stories and character elements emerge from it, then it'll be good.

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I for one, think that in the short term the effects will be positive: we're getting artists and writers that like the characters wanting to do them in the classic mode who do not want to worry about Manchester Black or Cat Grant (who the hell is that?)

FWIW, I can appreciate elements of Superman from pre-Crisis comics, post-Crisis, and other media (the TV series, toons, Maggin novels, etc.).  There are many elements I despise as well from all those genres.  

Cat Grant and Manchester Black were two decent characters when done right.  Check out the first season of L&C for fine Cat Grant moments.  Manchester Black has a cool veneer to him, even his name comes from the Apache Chief / Minnesota President school.  He and the Elite are certainly as good a take on '90s-era indy comic superpunks as Magog.

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, or about the gimmicky "event comic" super-marriage or worrying that Superman might turn electric. I don't have any faith in Grant Morrison at all, but at least he gets who Superman is - something that can't be said about the mental inbreeding that goes on in the Super-Offices, where bad concepts and bad interpretations are recycled.

That's because the indy comic writers that went in for that sort of thing raked in the big bucks and sales, and the big comic book houses took 'em in.  Like it or not, that crap sells.  Sometimes, there's good stuff amidst that crap.  For example, Superman: The Vanishing had some germs of good ideas (what about a contingency plan to protect the entire Earth from the worst) and really pretty Jim Lee art, amidst horrible story execution.  Worst, it incorporated bad elements from other lousy plotlines (the Russian General Zod) and even bad pre-Crisis schlock (super-self-hypnosis).  

Quote
In the long term, though, I think the effects will ultimately be negative. I don't know about you, but I think a character's history, their past adventures, and what they have experienced and done is much more interesting than their powers, costume, and their code-name. This is why I am infuriated by the Ultimates; the Avengers that never fought Kang in the Celestial Madonna, never saw the marriage of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, and never had Captain America and Hawkeye first fight and then become allies...well, they're not the Avengers at all.

But how do you feel about Ultimate Spider-Man?  Same writer and author for 90+ issues building up quite a continuity, doing stuff more interesting than any of the Spider-Man rags since the Ben Reilly mess (with maybe the exception of a JMS story arc or two, but JMS went to the cesspool).  And Morrison's take on Thor (that Millar adopted) in the Ultimates is way cool, in my book.  



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We'll see Grant Morrison's Brainiac, then after he leaves, we'll see Mark Millar's Brainiac, then possibly Geoff Johns' Brainiac...all mutually contradictory, all conflicting views.

So what you're really complaining about is the lack of editorial continuity, of editors either bowing to superstar writers or editors themselves acting like superstar writers to the detriment of continuity.  

Quote
There is a story about a coffee shop owner who had various labels on his coffee, like raspberry coffee, almond and nut coffee, and so on. He had a puckish sense of humor, so he labeled one "coffee-flavored coffee." Here's the strange part: far and away, "coffee-flavored coffee" became the bestselling flavor. I don't want Geoff Johns-flavored Brainiac or Grant Morrison-flavored Brainiac; I want Brainiac-flavored Brainiac.

You mean the Otto Binder Brainiac, then?  The one that started out as just an alien, then was retconed as a robot six years by Ed Hamilton because all things that ended in -iac had to be robots.  (Never mind the fact that Otto Binder certainly knew how to do robots if that's what he had intended.)  This led to retconning Jerry Siegel's Brainiac 5, who had simply been evil Brainiac's descendant but now had to be complicated for no good reason.  If you want continuity police, Brainiac is not a good place to start.  

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True, characters like Superman and Brainiac change over time and each writer and artist leave their mark on them. But this becomes their history of how they grow and change. Treating them like Shakespeare plays that every production strives to leave their mark on, treats them as marketing icons, like Buster Brown on his shoes. While perhaps some real DC Continuity is too much to ask for, would it hurt to have characters at least remember their previous stories?

Some stories, like it or not, are a product of their times and remembering them would make things dated.  Superman ditching Supergirl in some sort of orphanage as a "secret weapon" (a.k.a. trying to decide if a Supergirl would play as well with the fans as Mary Marvel) is a problematic story for today.  How far back do you go?

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Another long-term problem with the "All Star" mentality is that it ignores history in favor of what is viewed by the artists as "the essential aspects of a character." Consider, for example, someone doing an "All-Star JLA."

It's being done, essentially.  Check out Alex Ross' Justice.  

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Obviously you'd have the Big Seven, and maybe one or two characters that are the writers' pet favorite or obsession like maybe Plastic Man, Steel, or Orion. They'd never go anywhere near characters that while are not as large as marketing icons as the so-called Big Seven, but are nonetheless functional and enjoyable members of the Justice League. I don't just read JLA for Batman and Wonder Woman. I read it for Zatanna, the Elongated Man, the Atom, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, and Red Tornado.

Some folks figured this out and created the JLU cartoons.  Smiley
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2005, 06:32:27 PM »

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
If good stories and character elements emerge from it, then it'll be good


Maybe, maybe not - does the phrase "superstar creator" make anybody else really nervous?

Grant Morrison at least, is thinking in the right direction - however, his historically demonstrated flash-over-substance approach, lack of ability to characterize, and his archaic "bottle" approach to each story makes me nervous. I personally enjoyed the cliche charm of a movie like INDEPENDENCE DAY, which is totally unoriginal and character-free and doesn't pretend to be anything else but big budget spectacle; there are so many ways however, that ID4 could not have worked. I liked Morrison's JLA in the same way I liked INDEPENDENCE DAY, by appreciating it for what it is; however, if Morrison forgets his limitations, however, they will appear.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Cat Grant and Manchester Black were two decent characters when done right.  Check out the first season of L&C for fine Cat Grant moments.  Manchester Black has a cool veneer to him, even his name comes from the Apache Chief / Minnesota President school.  He and the Elite are certainly as good a take on '90s-era indy comic superpunks as Magog.


Really? I thought the LOIS AND CLARK Cat Grant was a fairly one-dimensional skank. And while the "Missouri President" crack brings a smile to my face, Manchester Black is a manifestation of a repetitive story of the Modern Age that irks me: "The Silver Age Gets Revenge" story, like KINGDOM COME or that JSA story arc involving Atom Smasher turning evil for some reason. While I agree with the intention, the Silver Age can be brought back by telling stories of equal imaginative power, not by smashing a straw man.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
That's because the indy comic writers that went in for that sort of thing raked in the big bucks and sales, and the big comic book houses took 'em in.  Like it or not, that crap sells.  Sometimes, there's good stuff amidst that crap.  For example, Superman: The Vanishing had some germs of good ideas (what about a contingency plan to protect the entire Earth from the worst) and really pretty Jim Lee art, amidst horrible story execution.  Worst, it incorporated bad elements from other lousy plotlines (the Russian General Zod) and even bad pre-Crisis schlock (super-self-hypnosis).


Aw, man, of all the imaginative concepts the Silver Age had, they had to go and bring back THAT one?

Why do I hear Billy Friday from SUPREME shouting loudly in his nasal British voice: "THEN we'll have Omni-Dog raped and gassed, and the undersea mermaid city succumb to mercury poisoning!"

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
But how do you feel about Ultimate Spider-Man?  Same writer and author for 90+ issues building up quite a continuity, doing stuff more interesting than any of the Spider-Man rags since the Ben Reilly mess (with maybe the exception of a JMS story arc or two, but JMS went to the cesspool).  And Morrison's take on Thor (that Millar adopted) in the Ultimates is way cool, in my book.  


Spider-Man isn't one of my favorite superheroes, and so I am hardly emotionally invested in his stories. However, from what I've read of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, it has him as a teenager again, and I really hate superhero teenage stories because they are universally histrionic. Teenage problems never look as irrelevant as they do when the other things on a character's mind include SAVING THE WORLD. The trendy, insincere pop culture references will make USM a thousand times more dated and unintentionally hilarious 10 years from now, a thousand times funnier than Luke Cage's tinfoil headband and little white girl Dazzler "talking street" while wearing platform shoes and a disco ball necklace. The Kingpin asks Spider-Man who hires him, and he responds "Carson Daly." It was made a few years ago, and it ALREADY feels dated - aren't his 15 minutes of fame over? And I swear they did NOT make a J-Lo butt joke. While the characters in the original Ditko run had definite personalities, in Ultimates they are hollow cardboard versions of themselves, pop-out characters, like "rich kid" or "goth."

They replace timeless character concepts with absurd, up to the moment fads that pass through the ether of our culture. Witness Kraven the Hunter as a Discovery Channel crocodile hunter-style host. Imagine if someone did Ultimate Spider-Man in the 1970s and had Kraven become a radio DJ named "Wolfman Kraven."

It's a basic truth that nothing is less cool than someone desperately trying to be cool. If this is true, then ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN is the least cool comic in world history.

Since you brought it up, here's my take on ULTIMATES:

All of the characters have devolved into vicious, ugly caricatures of themselves, with a single flaw that far superior stories have handled more subtly being exploded to disfiguring proportions (Tony Stark's alcoholism, Hank Pym's out of character incidence of spousal abuse, Captain America's Superpatriotism). They feel like Mad Magazine parody versions of the characters, except they're not a joke. In fact, there's no humor whatsoever, it takes itself that seriously.

Captain America's characterization as a violent "love it or leave it" fanatic is downright grotesque. Captain America stands for the IDEALS of America and our stumbling, slow march toward their realization, not the morally compromised reality.

Henry Pym as a wifebeater. Leave it to a fraud like Millar to blow out of proportion a single bad Shooter story that had him act wildly out of character and interpret this as the correct way to look at Giant-Man. What, you couldn't make him an anti-semite and a child pornographer as well?

The Hulk as a bone-snapping monster with none of the characteristics that make him interesting (his innocence, his childlike personality) is also unoriginal: Mr. Hyde from LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN wants his idea back. Yes, Hulk was based on Mr. Hyde in the beginning, but he differed so much from his start point that he could be considered an original character. And who wants to bet LXG - released barely a few years ago, gave Millar this idea and not the original novel?

Special mention should go to the Scarlet Witch shacking about with the Vision robot. Suddenly, the most beautiful love story of the entire Silver Age (and possibly in comics) that could have been wonderful to see from the outset. It has Wanda go from a courageous woman willing to defy everything for her love ("Wanda...I can make you happy! Please, please forget all the human rules and marry me." "Of course! Love is for souls, not for bodies.") and cast it into a sleazy light destructive to the characterization of all involved. Hey, I know what he can do for an encore: how about doing a version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST where Belle is a Furry?

Thankfully, Hawkeye, the Avenger with arguably the most personality, has not been made into some unrecognizeable form.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
So what you're really complaining about is the lack of editorial continuity, of editors either bowing to superstar writers or editors themselves acting like superstar writers to the detriment of continuity.


That's a good way of putting it. No single individual writer or artist is not greater than a character's collective history and role in popular culture. This goes for any character with a history, but most especially for one as famous and important as Superman.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
You mean the Otto Binder Brainiac, then?  The one that started out as just an alien, then was retconed as a robot six years by Ed Hamilton because all things that ended in -iac had to be robots.  (Never mind the fact that Otto Binder certainly knew how to do robots if that's what he had intended.)  This led to retconning Jerry Siegel's Brainiac 5, who had simply been evil Brainiac's descendant but now had to be complicated for no good reason.  If you want continuity police, Brainiac is not a good place to start.  


They put forth a satisfactory effort to make Brainiac work, and his personality and powers and appearance after some growing pains, were constant, and when Marv Wolfman updated him, it was done logically, in the context of the story in a way that made sense.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Some stories, like it or not, are a product of their times and remembering them would make things dated.  Superman ditching Supergirl in some sort of orphanage as a "secret weapon" (a.k.a. trying to decide if a Supergirl would play as well with the fans as Mary Marvel) is a problematic story for today.  How far back do you go?


Good storytelling is never dated. If anything is dated, it is the constant reboots, that clearly show their age by instead of invoking timeless concepts, bring things in line with passing fads (see comments above about USM).

That said, some things about comics have been invented that strengthen them instead of weaken. For example, the idea of extended subplots and story arcs that have definite resolutions, used brilliantly by Kurt Busiek and Steve Englehart, and to a lesser extent, by Paul Levitz. A "bottle" approach to each individual story is no longer desirable because sub-stories allow characterization and have a bigger payoff.

Quote from: "Uncle Mxy"
Some folks figured this out and created the JLU cartoons.  Smiley


Isn't that a great show? They deserve applause for "getting it." For thinking past "okay, who's a name that will move action figures and ceramic banks?"
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2005, 07:33:29 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
There is a story about a coffee shop owner who had various labels on his coffee, like raspberry coffee, almond and nut coffee, and so on. He had a puckish sense of humor, so he labeled one "coffee-flavored coffee." Here's the strange part: far and away, "coffee-flavored coffee" became the bestselling flavor. I don't want Geoff Johns-flavored Brainiac or Grant Morrison-flavored Brainiac; I want Brainiac-flavored Brainiac.


Whether you agree or disagree with Julian, he's still master of the turn of phrase.  Well said!

Now, my critique ...

While your example was well-stated, it assumes that a single, definitive interpretation exists for a given character.

That's not the case, esp. for the Superman mythos, and certainly not for Big Blue himself.

Each decade, at least, has had a very different characterization for Superman.  He's certainly not the killing vigilante who stomps on all laws, rules, and authority as he enforces his personal idea of Right by sheer 'might is right' mentality, as per Action Comics #1.

While one may have a preference for a given characterization over another, the supermythos has had varying takes over its vast and multicoloured history.

My Superman, for instance, would never kill, never lie, nor bend his values to achieve his ends no matter how noble those ends might be.  IMHO, Superman should be iconic and super in morals not just body as the legendary superfan T.M. Maple once stated.

http://superman.nu/a/maple.php

Some core, key elements should remain or we don't have the same character anymore, at least to some fans.

I guess ultimately -- pun unintended! -- what's acceptable about a character is defined by those doing the accepting, not just the creating.

(And I still can't come anywhere near the eloquence of JulianPerez ... )
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« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2005, 08:05:59 PM »

Interesting, and while I agree that the quality of conversation here is high, I have to also agree that it often comes down to subjective preference...

I like the phrase "Brainiac flavored Braniac" myself  Cool  but it was jarring to me to have to reconcile his "new" (at the time) robot status with what was written before...that's a change in continuity, and one of the reasons I can't always say that strict continuity can always be maintained...and that good story telling is more important.

But talking about it is what makes the forums, so that's cool with me...
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2005, 08:10:29 PM »

Random responses:

- Aww, c'mon.  Cat Grant's "slip into something more comfortable" and confession to the priest were laugh-out-loud funny moments, and she rightly bitched out Lois when Lois was deserving of it.  There was definitely promise there, and I didn't even really like Tracy Scoggins "attributes".

- I like Ultimate Spider-Man because it's about a teenager.  He's not saving the world against world-shaking badasses (unlike X-Men/FF/Ultimates), but simply trying to keep his head above water.  Apart from Thor and Wasp's characterizations, I'm not a big fan of the Ultimates either, and the other Ultimate books have good moments and bad.  

- Good storytelling can definitely be dated, sometimes.  Sometimes, it's the topical nature that makes it good.  But that's not even what I'm talking about.  

Building a decades-long continuity that makes sense for characters that don't really age will lead to stupid conflicts.  Think about any number of good ol' "Lois and|or Jimmy are trapped" stories that'd fall apart in the modern era owing to cell phones.  Should Supes reference those?  At what point would it become problematic to do a modern retcon of old stories for them to make sense in the current day and age?   Trying to fit decades of stories in a consistent framework is hard stuff, especially as the real world develops in a different way than one envisioned and most consumers want stories happening in some rough approximation of the real world.  

- Yeah, my complaint is about the editing.  Editors should be empowered and qualified to be the carekeepers of some great traditions and worldwide icons.  That doesn't mean they can't be innovative, but at least be aware of what.  These days, Marvel and DC develop properties for movie deals, cartoon deals, and merchandising.
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nightwing
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« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2005, 08:16:23 PM »

Quote
In the long term, though, I think the effects will ultimately be negative. I don't know about you, but I think a character's history, their past adventures, and what they have experienced and done is much more interesting than their powers, costume, and their code-name. This is why I am infuriated by the Ultimates; the Avengers that never fought Kang in the Celestial Madonna, never saw the marriage of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, and never had Captain America and Hawkeye first fight and then become allies...well, they're not the Avengers at all. We'll see Grant Morrison's Brainiac, then after he leaves, we'll see Mark Millar's Brainiac, then possibly Geoff Johns' Brainiac...all mutually contradictory, all conflicting views.


I see your point re: the Avengers, but I'm not so sure you can apply it to Superman.  All Marvel characters and teams are the sum total of their long, convoluted and near-impossibly byzantine back-stories.  This is why die-hard Spidey fans reject the Sam Raimi films and X-Man fanboys have trouble with the X-films; decades of history are compressed and shuffled into something that can be shown on screen in a comprehensible manner in the space of two hours.  The rest of the world has a good time, while the fanboys whine, "But it was Gwen Stacy who fell off the bridge, not Mary Jane" and "Bobby Drake should be a contemporary of Scott Summers, not ten years younger!"

The beauty of Superman and Batman, once upon a time, was that their histories were relatively uncomplicated and easily stripped down to a handful of basic points: baby comes from Krypton, grows to super-manhood, works as a reporter.  Nuff said, let's go.  When Superman entered Kandor, did you have to have read the story where Brainiac shrank it in order to follow the action?  No (though you'd have been curious to see it!).  When the Joker escaped prison, did you have to know the details of his last encounter with Batman?  No.  This is the kind of storytelling I liked and miss; one-issue stories that can be taken as straight adventure if it's the first comic you ever read, maybe with a few asides or knowing winks to readers who've been around longer.

I think it's entirely possible to hit certain marks with a Superman story and beyond that go your own way.  And yes, when you're done, let the next guy do the same thing without regard to what you did.

The Weisinger-era mythos I loved were complex (some would say cluttered) and built on an internal continuity, but the thing that held it all together was one guy in charge.  You don't have that any more.  You have an endless succession of prima donnas and would-be auteurs taking Superman in a hundred different directions and "editors" insisting that somehow it all adds up to one big story.  I welcome "All Star Superman" because, in my mind, I've already grown accustomed to rejecting huge blocks of continuity.  I not only don't want to read about "Electric Superman," I don't even want to read about a guy who five years ago used to be Electric Superman.  I still can't get into Superman here in 2005 because nearly 20 years ago he murdered three Phantom Zone villains.  why should writers be hobbled right out of the gate by staying true to dumb stories by idiots from five years ago?  Or worse, spend their whole time on the book trying to undo, explain or make right some other writer's goofs?  Far too much time is spent these days either mucking up continuity or trying to fix it again.  Enough already.  DC's tried to create a Universe with continuity and time and again they have failed.  Time for a new approach.

I say let Morrison do his thing for a few months and move on.  If I don't like it I can quit in the middle, assured that in a year's time someone else will be along to start over.  If I do like it, I know the next guy won't come in and pervert, negate or invalidate what Morrison did.  

The single best thing about this whole idea is that it means no cross-overs.  Not between super-books, not from super-books to bat-books, nuthin'.  If I ever collect ANY monthly again...which I doubt, and that includes All-Star...it will only be with the assurance that it will never be part of any cross-over or company-wide event EVER.  

And for the record, this preview isn't very encouraging to me.  Yes, Superman seems to be at pre-Crisis power levels.  And yes, Luthor is an evil scientist as we remember him.  But the storytelling technique on these pages is confusing and the people are drawn ugly, especially Superman.  (Hardware looks nice, though.  If this was a technical manual, I might be more interested).
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