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Author Topic: Siegel's "JSA"  (Read 4892 times)
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TELLE
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« on: November 30, 2005, 03:50:21 AM »

Nightwing's comments in the Men of Tomorrow thread and the on-going pre-Crisis speculation in other threads got me wondering: what if the world of the superhero was severely limited and all that remained of the concept were the inventions of Jerry Siegel.  Let's say that Donenfield successfully sued all of his rivals and that Siegel successfully sued Donenfield.  What would a world that only knew Superman, the Spectre, Dr. Occult, and Slam Bradley be like?

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Jerry and Joe started the ball rolling, but if the character had remained exclusively under their control, he may well have sputtered out by war's end, to be remembered as a fad like bobby socks and plane-spotter cards.


This is one of those "Earth-Prime, Squared" questions that I love.  Are these Siegel concepts rich enough to propel the idea of the superhero into the 21st Century?  Or would the idea whither away, due to mismanagement and lack of new blood?
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2005, 04:10:20 AM »

1st someone needs to compile a list of every hero Jerry Siegel ever created for DC.

This will give us a good idea on how the team would look like.
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2005, 04:13:24 AM »

Just because Jerry Siegel existed, doesn't mean that Mort Weisenger, Jack Kirby, or Elliot Maggin didn't exist. Since Jerry is responsible for most of the "Superman Family" as well, I wouldn't think that Superman would be very different. Likewise, Superhero comics, while more limited, wouldn't be very different, either.

On the first day Jerry created Clark Kent, and it was good.
On the second day, Mxyzptlk
On the third day, Superboy
On the fourth day, he rested.
On the fifth day, he took Legion of Superheroes and ran with it. Also, Lyla!
On the sixth day, Tales of the Bizarro World.
On the seventh day, he rested. He was sleepy. But then Elliot S! Maggin came along. And after he woke up, he approved of the last Superman story.

So, as you can see from my weird and oversimplified Genesis analogy, Jerry had a creative hand in Superman during most of his lifetime. Not much would change if Superman were one of the only superheroes, except for the lack of JLA and World's Finest Team.
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2005, 04:36:40 AM »

Don't forget that Siegel also created Robotman, one of the more entertaining and amazing comics of the later Golden Age, if you can get your hands on it. It tapped into the high-energy, hallucinogenic whimsy that blew up MARVEL FAMILY to trendsetting, genius-level comic.

If Jerry Siegel had fled with his properties, it is likely that Robotman would have remained closer to the Golden Age incarnation; Doom Patrol Robotman would never have existed and consequently the Golden Age character would not have been pushed offstage. Ditto for that wonderful robot dog that the Golden Age Robotman had!

Superman would not be very different; the different tone of the Silver Age Superman from the Golden Age Superman is as a result of the general, post-Code and post-C.C. Beck climate of kid-friendly playfulness. This creative climate would remain the same whether Siegel would work at DC or his own company.

The Superman Family aspects that were created by Otto Binder would exist in a form radically different from the one they ultimately took, such as for instance, Krypto (created by Binder and Swan in 1955) and Supergirl (created, again, by Binder in 1959). However, these niches would probably have been filled somehow; Captain Marvel had a Marvel Bunny, Robotman had a robot dog...it's unlikely Superman would have gone without SOME kind of superpet, because the "need" existed for one. Ditto for Supergirl; the copyright for Supergirl was filed for as far back as 1941. It's unlikely that Superman would have gone without his own Mary Marvel or Batwoman.

Though just because characters are owned by the same company does not mean they will form into a superteam. Thunderbolt, Captain Atom, Nightshade and others were owned by Charleston, but they did not ever form a Charleston Avengers-equivalent (and a good thing too, for Steve Ditko's graying hairs; those are a lot of costumes to remember).

Though it is likely some form of team-up may exist in the Siegel comics. How about the Robotman/Superman Team? Two mighty men of steel!
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2005, 02:01:20 PM »

Quote
Let's say that Donenfield successfully sued all of his rivals and that Siegel successfully sued Donenfield. What would a world that only knew Superman, the Spectre, Dr. Occult, and Slam Bradley be like?


Well, first let me see if I understand your hypothetical lawsuits.  Donenfield drives all other publishers out of the business and then Seigel shuts Donenfield down?  

In that case, I give the whole superhero genre about a five-year lifespan and Superman vanishes into the mists of time.

If Seigel had driven National out of the business, he'd have had to start up his own comics publishing firm to keep Superman in print (as in your scenario, the rest are out of business thanks to Harry).  I don't think he'd have gotten anywhere.  Superman's success story is as much -- perhaps more -- thanks to National's tireless promotion as any artistic merit in the concept itself.

Further, in this hypothetical world where Harry could successfully sue Timely, Fawcett, Charlie Biro, Quality and the rest out of business on the premise that all superheros are an infringement on National's properties,and where Jerry could win the legal argument that Harry's own Batman, Green Lantern and the rest are likewise cribbed from Superman, I hardly think it would end there.  Jerry himself would be sued by Philip Wylie, the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Street and Smith for ripping off Gladiator, John Carter of Mars and Doc Savage respectively.  And Roy Crane would sue Joe Shuster for stealing his art style.

So even if the concepts had "legs" to last more than a couple of years, the lawyers would have killed comics pretty fast.
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2005, 06:51:34 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Though just because characters are owned by the same company does not mean they will form into a superteam. Thunderbolt, Captain Atom, Nightshade and others were owned by Charleston, but they did not ever form a Charleston Avengers-equivalent


That has to wait for Alan Moore and Watchmen! Cheesy

Thanks for reminding me of Robotman.

Nightwing: Perhaps, after swearing to hang all lawyers, we could modify to original proposition, and imagine a world where a legal climate of cold scare existed around the superhero concept because of a Donenfield's suit-happiness in combination with profit-sharing/co-ownership with Siegel and Shuster.
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2005, 08:07:43 PM »

TELLE;  your hypothetical earth would not have much of a comics industry.  Most of the pulp characters (like Doc Savage, the Shadow, etc.) would most likely have been ruled to infringe on Edgar Rice Burroughs' copyrights.  And any comics super-heroes that survived that would most likely have been ruled to be infringements of Popeye.  Edgar Rice Burroughs (Nightwing; on our earth he lived untill 1950) & E C segar/King features Syndicate would have sued Harry Donenfeld, Jerry Siegel, & Joe Shuster out of business.
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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2005, 08:54:36 AM »

Robotman in any version is a big favorite of mine too.

The idea of a human brain in a robot body, was awesome to me when I first heard about it.  For so many reasons I love the character that is both man and machine, ala DATA or the VISION.
i also dig the tortured angst of the human soul trapped in an inhuman body. A lonely being who feels no woman could ever love him. Like the Thing who was monstrous, the Robotman was both powerful and tragic.
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