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February 07, 2023, 08:49:27 PM


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Author Topic: Erik Larsen's latest article  (Read 4849 times)
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Super Monkey
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« on: January 05, 2006, 11:23:18 PM »

I don't know how many of you have been reading his articles, which always seem to anger people, this one makes a good point and can be applied to the Iron Age Superman comics from 1986 until now.

Warning however, he has chronic potty mouth:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/columns/?column=20
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« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2006, 12:02:46 AM »

It can also be applied to the previous Superman comics, though. A lot of "Superbaby" stories are the same sort of thing he's describing. Superman's "first" meeting with Jimmy Olsen, his babysitter, feels sort of illegitimate in that way. Though not all Superbaby stories have that artificially retrofitted feeling to them (I love the one where Superbaby went to Scotland Yard) most do.
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« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2006, 03:26:30 AM »

There really is something to the point of squeezing in backstory as opposed to telling new stories that has always bugged me...I like backstory, but the past is a finite entity, it can only hold so much...
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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2006, 03:45:05 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
There really is something to the point of squeezing in backstory as opposed to telling new stories that has always bugged me...I like backstory, but the past is a finite entity, it can only hold so much...


Tell it to the fans obssessed with the current Batman's "Year One" (and the zillion stories they seem to have published covering said era of Bats) :-)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2006, 07:43:48 AM »

Jesus, am I ever so tired of talking about John Byrne and Kurt Busiek. But their careers are helpful because they illustrate what to do and what not to do as a comics writer. They're like a real-life Goofus and Gallant of the superhero comics world.

What Erik Larsen is talking about - retroactively inserting details and events that happened on camera to the detriment of the spirit of what has gone before, is a specialty of Captain Johnny Redbeard. He had Storm and Jean Grey meet each other before GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1 because "there was never anything to specifically indicate that they HADN'T met before." Augh! Of course there isn't, but there sure is a palpable intent there! Ditto for Byrne's singlehanded power inflation of Darkseid to unreasonable proportions; using the fact that as Kirby characterized Darkseid as a schemer and planner and never put the Lord of Apokalips in a fight, there was never any specific occasion that it was not stated that Darkseid was so powerful - so lo and behold, Cap'n Johnny comes in and makes Darkseid twice the match for Superman. This doesn't violate anything we know about Darkseid...well, except for Kirby's intent that Darkseid was a menacing, subtle plotter, not a superphysical type.

Quote from: "Erik Larsen"
And I seek out work by creators that own their own characters and are the sole people to chronicle their lives - there are tons of terrific comics out there. And I enjoy the hell out of them. And I get caught up in their lives. And I drift away from the companies I grew up with and the characters I once loved.


I don't agree with this sentiment. Kurt Busiek's best work, at least for me, was AVENGERS and THUNDERBOLTS. Why them, why not his awesome ASTRO CITY?

The answer is that Kurt was working with characters that have an actual past, whose lives have been lived "on camera," and therefore there was a much more definite sense of who these characters were and where they had been, as opposed to ASTRO CITY, where he had to counterfeit the world's history from scratch. A greater degree of emotional investment is possible for AVENGERS and THUNDERBOLTS.

Busiek understands the fact that, while characters change over time, that does not mean that there is not something "objective" about characters that is required to be preserved, which trascends the boundaries of what Writer #345 wants to impose.

Writers have an obligation to maintain consistency both in worlds they create, and especially in worlds created by others.
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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2006, 07:53:28 AM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Jesus, am I ever so tired of talking about John Byrne and Kurt Busiek. But their careers are helpful because they illustrate what to do and what not to do as a comics writer. They're like a real-life Goofus and Gallant of the superhero comics world.  What Erik Larsen is talking about - retroactively inserting details and events that happened on camera to the detriment of the spirit of what has gone before, is a specialty of Captain Johnny Redbeard. He had Storm and Jean Grey meet each other before GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1 because "there was never anything to specifically indicate that they HADN'T met before." Augh! Of course there isn't, but there sure is a palpable intent there!


To be fair, when I pitched virtually the same series a few years before John sold the idea -- I called it X-MEN: THE SECRET YEARS -- I made exactly the same suggestion in my proposal that he used:

Surely Cerebro didn't ping up a whole new set of potential X-Men five minutes before Xavier just happened to need some.  At least some of them were mutants Xavier had to be aware of, had to have kept tabs on, but thought they were in safe enough circumstances not to need to intervene.  This suggests that he may well not have known about Nightcrawler until the last minute, but that he might well have known about Storm, Colossus and Thunderbird.

And as long as the stories don't say somewhere that the others never actually met them, and don't imply it, then maybe they did.  They clearly didn't have long bonding experiences, or become great friends.  But met?  Yeah, they could have met.

Sorry not to be Gallant in this case, but I agreed with John.  Not necessarily with how he told the story -- I haven't read those issues -- but with the concept, at least.

kdb
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2006, 06:42:05 PM »

Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
To be fair, when I pitched virtually the same series a few years before John sold the idea -- I called it X-MEN: THE SECRET YEARS -- I made exactly the same suggestion in my proposal that he used:

Surely Cerebro didn't ping up a whole new set of potential X-Men five minutes before Xavier just happened to need some.  At least some of them were mutants Xavier had to be aware of, had to have kept tabs on, but thought they were in safe enough circumstances not to need to intervene.  This suggests that he may well not have known about Nightcrawler until the last minute, but that he might well have known about Storm, Colossus and Thunderbird.


I cannot possibly comment on a story that I have not read.

That said:

My dispute with the concept of  inserting the "all new, all different" X-Men into the Lee/Thomas years, is that these characters are being insinuated into stories and an age where they were not present and played no role.

However, I am less suspicious of this premise than of Byrne's approach, because Byrne's reason for doing it is "well, why not?" Which strikes - at least me - as insufficient justification.

Whereas the premise outlined for SECRET YEARS makes the selection of the "new" X-Men less arbitrary: they weren't picked out of a hat. It makes Professor X's choice to entrust them with saving the X-Men more logical, because they had been proven to be reliable in the past.
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2006, 10:49:18 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
My dispute with the concept of  inserting the "all new, all different" X-Men into the Lee/Thomas years, is that these characters are being insinuated into stories and an age where they were not present and played no role.


Except that Byrne didn't insert them into the Lee/Thomas years -- he used one of them (at least one) in a series set in the post-Thomas gap.

And yeah, they hadn't been established by then, but to pick another example, Chris Claremont had Professor Xavier meet Amahl Farouk and get pickpocketed by a young Storm in an era before any of those characters were established.  Lee and Kirby retroactively established that Nick Fury had met Captain America, though he'd never been present or played a role in any actual 1940s Cap stories.

To suggest that the X-Men can't meet Storm in a story set before GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 implies that it's a bad idea to have Superboy meet Aquaboy, or to have a young Aquaman meet a young Princess Diana.

Any of these characters "played no role" in eras they haven't been shown appearing in right up until someone shows them having a role in that era.  I stuck Phil Sheldon all through Marvel history, insinuating him into stories and an age where he hadn't been previously shown as present and played no role.  Showing Storm in a manner consistent with established Storm history and established X-Men history (i.e., she shouldn't meet Xavier because she doesn't recognise him in GSXM 1, but there's no such indication that that's her first meeting with, say, Iceman) shouldn't be any different from that.

And if John defends that choice by saying, "Why not?" -- well, that may not carry a lot of detail, but since there isn't a reason why not, it's a reasonable point.

By the way, I apologize if all I seem to do is correct you on Len Wein comics and disagree on stuff.  It ain't intentional!

kdb
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