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Author Topic: Superman as a Super-Leader  (Read 10893 times)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2006, 03:23:41 PM »

Quote from: "nightwing"
Well, being an inspiration doesn't necessarily make you a leader, nor does being "innately incorruptible."

I can think of lots of hugely inspiring people in history: Christ, Ghandi, Martin Luther King...but if you think I'd go into combat with a squad made up of those guys, you're nuts!


Perhaps "leading people into battle" is a different skill than getting people to listen to you - and Superman, just because he is who he is, gets people to listen to him. And according to Tony Robbins, isn't getting people to listen to you 90% of leadership?

Stainless Steve Englehart, in his MILLENIUM mini, played this up with Superman when he gave his speech in defense of the Guardians and their plot. Superman was just presenting his point of view, showing how he felt about the issue.

And the effect it had...! Superman was just trying to have his say, but when he walked away everyone walked with him.

Makes one hunger to know how Englehart would have written Superman if he ever got the chance.

Quote from: "nightwing"
Not to mention a guy who tends to pull his punches and has a real pacifist streak to him (he can afford to, but some people have too much on the line to adopt "turn the other cheek" as a first response).



You know who I think might be a good Justice League leader?

Wonder Woman.

The willingness to do violence may not be a virtue in battle in every situation, particularly with a team that has as much power as the League, which gives them options.

Quote from: "nightwing"
But the real issue is Superman's mental make-up. I just don't feel he'd be comfortable leading humans (even meta-humans) into dangerous situations when every fiber of his being has been devoted to protecting them. I think he'd tend to save all the riskiest jobs for himself and not put his teammates where they might do the most good, if that also meant endangering them.


Hmmm, interesting point.

This was the theme of one of the Batman-Superman issues by Dick Sprang, where Superman created a robot, using it instead of allowing Batman to risk his life for him.

Quote from: "nightwing"
In fact if anything I think it's harder to accept Superman joining a team than Batman. Batman has something to gain; additional muscle for the big jobs. Superman has nothing to gain other than a little fraternizing time with his colleagues.


Yeah, we've all heard the Seinfeld stand up bit about Superman needing the other members of the League when he can do everything himself, but really, this is a rather unfair perspective to how in practice the JLA and Legion of Super-Heroes really work - everybody on those teams brings something to the table.
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nightwing
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2006, 04:07:42 PM »

Quote
Perhaps "leading people into battle" is a different skill than getting people to listen to you - and Superman, just because he is who he is, gets people to listen to him. And according to Tony Robbins, isn't getting people to listen to you 90% of leadership?


If we're talking pre-Crisis, I think every member of the JLA had this kind of gravitas.  With the possible exception of Ollie, there wasn't one of them who couldn't speak up and have his/her views listened to and considered seriously.  Maybe it's just me, but I always saw the League as pretty flexible and adaptable to whatever situation arose.  They didn't need a "leader" per se because any grouping of two or three members, or the whole group, fell pretty much into sync once the fur started flying.  In contrast, the Avengers had to have a strong leader or they'd have flown off in ten different directions and tripped all over each other.  Remember this is Marvel we're talking about, where the first thing any "hero" does on meeting another person in costume is to attack.  Just spending an hour together without an internal brawl is a major achievement for any Marvel team.


Quote
The willingness to do violence may not be a virtue in battle in every situation, particularly with a team that has as much power as the League, which gives them options.


I agree it depends on the mission. If you're going out to do battle with Amazo or Mongul you want a fighter in the lead.  If you're out to solve some cosmic mystery or other it'd be nice to have someone slower on the draw, and with some brainpower.

Again, you run into trouble comparing Superman to Cap because they live in different universes. As Kurt Busiek suggested in JLA/Avengers, the DCU and the Marvel Universe have very different outlooks.  A Marvel team needs to be ready to fight, first and foremost, because if they're called to action it's usually to take on someone like Galactus or Kang, and if they see another team coming down the street, say the X-Men or the Defenders, they're going to want to start a fight with them just to pass the time.  The Marvel Universe is a place of constant strife and menace where muscle is valued over intellect and even the "geniuses" are only appreciated for their ability to build a bigger gun.

In contrast, the DC Universe (or rather the Multiverse) was a place where odd things happened that needed superhero intervention.  Now maybe it was some crazy bending of the rules of time and space, or maybe a natural disaster, or a rescue mission to another dimension, or just the arrival of some mysterious being or other.  But it wasn't guaranteed to end in a fight; not every situation boiled down to: hey look, someone new showed up, how can we kick his butt?

Thus, in my opinion, a Marvel team always needs a leader who can fight, and so the Avengers are unstoppable with Cap in the hot seat.  But at DC, it may very well be that Superman would be a great leader.  He's got more experience than anyone with alien races, he's got a super-brain, and he's not so quick on the draw that he'd escalate situations that need not get violent.  

But if he lived on Marvel-Earth, he'd take orders from Cap like everyone else.
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llozymandias
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2006, 11:15:41 PM »

Sorry Defender, Superboy did not decline the post of Legion Leader.  When wildfire beat him by a slim majority, Kal was not happy.  Most of Kal's colleagues in the pre-crisis Justice League had no idea how truly powerful he really was.  When he worked with them he seemed to downplay how vast his powers really were.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2006, 07:15:06 AM »

Quote from: "nightwing"
If we're talking pre-Crisis, I think every member of the JLA had this kind of gravitas. With the possible exception of Ollie, there wasn't one of them who couldn't speak up and have his/her views listened to and considered seriously.  


This is true. All of those 50s white male patriarchs were all confident and resourceful types; any of them could fill a Superman-esque niche if there was no Superman.

Although it is difficult to imagine someone with a subtle, quiet personality as Red Tornado assuming the limelight; there is as yet, nothing in Elongated Man's characterization that indicates any predilection for leadership. And the only way "Snapper" Carr would ever win a chairperson election would be by computer error.

Quote from: "nightwing"
Maybe it's just me, but I always saw the League as pretty flexible and adaptable to whatever situation arose. They didn't need a "leader" per se because any grouping of two or three members, or the whole group, fell pretty much into sync once the fur started flying.


What was that line from Terry Gilliam's TIME BANDITS?

"Now, we agreed there wasn't going to be a leader. So now get back to doing what I say."  

TRIVIA FACT: The first JLA chairperson was the Flash, according to the issue where they battle Starro.

Quote from: "nightwing"
Remember this is Marvel we're talking about, where the first thing any "hero" does on meeting another person in costume is to attack. Just spending an hour together without an internal brawl is a major achievement for any Marvel team.


While Marvel teams DO tend to be composed of volatile personalities, the supposed harmony and cooperation of the Silver Age DC superteams made of mature adults that always get along, is not an entirely accurate perception. When Hal Jordan and Barry Allen first met one another in GL #13 (1962), they fought one another. The authoritarian Hawkman and the rebel Green Arrow were always scrapping. In fact, nearly half of the JLA/JSA team-ups ended in one team fighting the other somehow; who could forget JUSTICE LEAGUE #74 (1969) where Earth-2 Superman and Earth-1 Superman duke it out?

Quote from: "nightwing"
But if he lived on Marvel-Earth, he'd take orders from Cap like everyone else.


Heh heh heh. This is probably true.
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« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2006, 02:29:46 PM »

Quote
And the only way "Snapper" Carr would ever win a chairperson election would be by computer error.


You use an interesting word here that I meant to bring up before, and that word is "chairperson."  This is a word we see applied to the JSA and JLA that would seem out of place in the Avengers.  It's a word that implies a level of civility, of protocol and decorum.  For me it suggests practical things like regular meetings with agendas...a JLA chairperson would logically be in charge of ensuring all members sign up for regular monitor duty, or that everyone knows what covered dish to bring to the annual JLA/JSA satellite supper.  But it's not a word I associate with battle tactics in the field.  ("Amazo's coming...what should we do, Mr. Chairman?")

Unless I'm forgetting something, the JLA was never (pre-Crisis anyway) the type of group to have a leader that said, "Okay, Tornado and Aquaman will tackle this guy head on.  Flash and Wonder Woman, you sneak around those hills there and try to flank him..."

I really don't see why Ralph or Reddy or even Snapper couldn't be a chairman.  A squad leader, no...but bang a gavel and take votes on who sweeps out the teleporter this week, yes.

Quote
While Marvel teams DO tend to be composed of volatile personalities, the supposed harmony and cooperation of the Silver Age DC superteams made of mature adults that always get along, is not an entirely accurate perception. When Hal Jordan and Barry Allen first met one another in GL #13 (1962), they fought one another. The authoritarian Hawkman and the rebel Green Arrow were always scrapping. In fact, nearly half of the JLA/JSA team-ups ended in one team fighting the other somehow; who could forget JUSTICE LEAGUE #74 (1969) where Earth-2 Superman and Earth-1 Superman duke it out?


I haven't re-read that GL issue yet, but it's coming up soon in my Showcase.  If memory serves, however, GL was under some sort of mind-control.  Which, I grant you, is a typical excuse for a hero-on-hero slugfest, but at Marvel it was standard practice to whip up on each other even when both parties were "in their right minds."  There seem to have been an awful lot of misunderstandings between Marvel heroes that could have quickly been resolved with a bit of conversation.  ("Ummm...Spidey, this'll sound silly, but are you working for Dr Doom?  You're NOT? Great, let's go grab a brew").

As for Katar and Ollie, I always considered that one of DC's first clumsy efforts to remake themselves in the Marvel image.  Although I grant you it was more fun to see Katar give Ollie what fer than to watch Hal meekly submit to another sanctimonious liberal tongue-lashing from Ollie in the thinly veiled political pamphlets known as O'Neil and Adams' GL/GA.  In that mag, Ollie was clearly the "voice of wisdom" and his liberal views were always proved right, whereas in JLA...for my money, anyway...he often came off as just an opinionated loudmouth the other Leaguers dismissed as a crank.  

And as for E-1 and E-2 Supes duking it out, I do remember the cover, but even though I just read that story last year that's all I can remember, except that the story didn't live up to the expectations set by the cover. (So what else is new?)
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2006, 12:25:32 PM »

I liked Maggin's take on Superman as leader from the novelization of Kingdom Come:

Quote
Superman did not try to out-talk President Capper, and she did not try to overpower the  super hero.  Both were growing into unaccustomed roles -- she, long a gifted administrator of large systems, as the spokesperson of a grander vision; he, a renowned role model, as the manager of a vast complex of independent forces and sources of power.  They had a lot to learn from one another.


I tend to think that Superman's effect on world leadership would be similar to Einstein's dealings with Israel and India.  

Of course, this doesn't have much to do with "leadership of supers", but to me, that's not terribly interesting unless you have someone unlikely to be a team leader stepping in (e.g. Plastic Man in charge of the JLA).
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TELLE
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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2006, 02:00:39 PM »

I think the big 3 would make great leaders and the rest will have to be ranked in diminishing order, from atom (high leadership potential) and GL (basically a big 4) down to red tornado. Martian Manhunter has that Spock-like coolness and telepathy.  Scrappers like Black Canary and Ollie would be very effective, but the Earth-1 Hawkman I feel for some reason would be less so, maybe because of his antagonism with GA.  Flash had self-esteem problems, didn't he?  And Elongated Man was comic relief.  Red Tornado as a robot with very little personality.

I like the way Clark Kent is often portrayed as being a leader in some crisis situations, not only in the 70s, but earlier, sometimes simply by virtue of being a man in a suit with a job (ie, respected reporter).  Some of the old radio scripts show him to be pretty bossy.  In the Silver Age, whenever Lois or other threats are absent, he is quite assured.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2006, 06:03:24 AM »

Quote from: "TELLE"
I think the big 3 would make great leaders and the rest will have to be ranked in diminishing order, from atom (high leadership potential) and GL (basically a big 4) down to red tornado. Martian Manhunter has that Spock-like coolness and telepathy.  Scrappers like Black Canary and Ollie would be very effective, but the Earth-1 Hawkman I feel for some reason would be less so, maybe because of his antagonism with GA.  Flash had self-esteem problems, didn't he?  And Elongated Man was comic relief.  Red Tornado as a robot with very little personality.

I like the way Clark Kent is often portrayed as being a leader in some crisis situations, not only in the 70s, but earlier, sometimes simply by virtue of being a man in a suit with a job (ie, respected reporter).  Some of the old radio scripts show him to be pretty bossy.  In the Silver Age, whenever Lois or other threats are absent, he is quite assured.


Perhaps I mentioned this before, but my personal favorite JLA chairperson was the Gerry Conway pet character, Zatanna. She bossed around valuable characters, showing a suprising degree of battle ability and grit. She bossed Superman around on several occasions.

Red Tornado has an intriguing child-like personality; he had a subtle personality that was subsumed into the group and unfortunately, except for a few goodies like Denny O'Neil (one of the few cases of him writing a powered character effectively) and Steve Englehart, Reddy was allowed to fade into the background.

Unlike the Vision, his closest Marvel equivalent, he had no Scarlet Witch poignant love story, no battle with prejudiced Human Bombs, nobody like Englehart or Thomas to affirm his humanity, which is unfortunate.

One of the things more that anything that I personally looked forward to was Busiek writing JUSTICE LEAGUE, because it meant that he would probably tell a good Red Tornado story that would ever after, leave him unable to be dismissed as "boring." After all, some of Busiek's earliest work in the 1980s was a CRISIS-era Red Tornado miniseries where Tornado battles the Construct, and Mr. Silver Age's JLA run was going to involve both Tornado and his foe, the Construct.

It is a real tragedy that we may never know.
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