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Author Topic: The Phantom Zone Miniseries  (Read 19161 times)
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2006, 11:04:54 AM »

Alright, here's me making my pro-Gerber PHANTOM ZONE arguments bite-sized:

1) The miniseries was weird and dark fantasy, yes, but this type of story may not be entirely inappropriate for Superman, just as Superman sometimes explores atypical themes and moods in other stories (e.g. the comedy and whimsy in Mxyzptlk stories).

2) Elements in the mini, such as the Sun Ring and obscure Zone inmates, show that Gerber went out of his way to be respectful of Superman's history, and knew it well. The whole thing is one big love letter to Superman's Silver Age universe.

3) The violence in PHANTOM ZONE is different in character from the violence under writers like Jurgens because Superman keeps his hands clean, and doesn't demonstrate lethal intent.

4) Likewise, the idea of the Zoners having killer instincts was not an idea Gerber pulled from nowhere, and was presaged by Cary Bates's introduction of an inmate that was a sociopathic man-killer.

5) It's hypocritical to condemn Gerber for making the Phantom Zoners dramatic and terrible, while at the same time lionizing updates of other villains in a similar "let's make 'em hardcore" spirit that were happening around the same time.

6) While the story was moody, it never embraced the nihilism that is the opposite of Superman. The good guys won a total victory in the end. This story is consistent with Superman themes.

7) The story was just plain GOOD. The ending was astonishing - just when everything was getting End of the World bad, out comes a regular guy from the Phantom Zone named Charlie to save the day. It was BIG, in the best possible way: terrifying villains and high stakes.

Quote from: "SuperMonkey"
Steve Gerber isn't all bad as you can all see  


Isn't "all" bad?

Isn't "all" bad?

ISN'T ALL BAD?

Gee, I'm glad you're able to spare such generous praise, which you've doubtlessly, assuredly reached through extensive reading of Gerber's work, right?

I mean, it would be totally out of character for you to talk about a writer you haven't actually READ, right?

Tell me, which subplot in Gerber's DEFENDERS did you find more interesting: Nighthawk discovering his wealth funds the Sons of the Serpent, or the Valkyrie going to prison?

How would you say Gerber's interpretation of the alienated loner hero, especially OMEGA THE UNKNOWN, was different or similar from other stories about characters of this type?

Do you think Frank Brunner or Gene Colan better captured the spirit of Gerber's MAN-THING? And why?

Of all the Russian villains that were introduced in DEFENDERS, who do you think was the most interesting?

Now, look, I'm not saying you're "wrong." I'm just saying that your opinions are based on total ignorance. Not unlike your excoriation of Geoff Johns; the part that REALLY cracks me up is your insistence he has contempt for DC history, the guy that writes stories featuring the Wizard of Ys for the first time since Gardner Fox, features lghtning monsters from TOMMY TOMORROW, the guy that brought Hawkman, Doctor Fate, the Ma Hunkel Red Tornado?
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2006, 02:35:51 PM »

1st of all it was a joke, thus the smiley face, I guess you missed that part.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, you like a lot of stuff that no one else cares about and that's fine. I am sure there are lots of comics which I love that you hate, and it's all good. I never said I was a fan of those Marvel books, I am not even Marvel fan, unless you are talking about the Marvel Family Smiley

I agree 100% with Steve Gerber about the modern comics being boring and uncreative and he's right, but you took issue with that.
Can you name 10 Superheroes from DC or Marvel post-Bronze age that are just as good as what came before? What about 10 Villains?

No remakes or revisions, but only original characters.

Can anyone do it? It's been 20 LONG years, surely someone must had done something creative in that time? DC and Marvel made a lot of comics during that time, and yet why is it so hard to come up with a list?

Can anyone think of at least a few good things added to the Superman mythos Post-Crisis, besides bringing back old stuff.

In 20 years what do we have to show for it?
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2006, 10:27:07 PM »

Well, off the top of my head, there's cult-favorite Sleepwalker, the Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel, the Tom Peyer Hourman, and the Baron/Messner-Loebs characterization of Wally West, that gave him a unique identity. There also was the Neil Gaiman Sandman. There was also the Busiek creations, Silverclaw and Triathlon, who were very much in the Avengers spirit, and the Thunderbolts (though they depend on whether you want to consider them "new," really). There's also the Cary Bates reinterpretation of Captain Atom, which is WILDLY different enough to qualify him as a totally different character.

And depending on when you consider the Bronze Age to "end," there's also Marv Wolfman's Nova (and villains like the Sphinx and the Corruptor).

As for villains, Abattoir provided a few good mysteries in the Bat-Books, and it was neat to see Batman rescue Ronald Reagan from the KGBeast. Maxima is a classy villainess that was very Silver/Bronze Age in scope.

And then (scraping the bottom of the barrel here) there are original creations that are nonetheless neither original nor really that great, such as Byrne's creation of Galactus-clone Terminus and Alpha Flight, or recently,  Gravity, or boring and pretentious Mark Waid Flash foes like Savitar or Cobalt Blue.

But overall, I'd say Gerber's right, there has been a slowdown in new and innovative concepts.  But I'm not sure if Gerber is looking at the whole picture here.  

YES, comics have in many ways been taken over by a great many non-talented people that just don't have it in them to come up with NEW things. However, that's forgetting two things:

1) Since the Bronze Age there's been a fundamentally different approach to how comics are published. If a writer really likes an idea, they have the option of taking them over to minor presses where they can own the rights. If Marv Wolfman and Steve Gerber wrote today, they probably wouldn't have given away to Marvel Nova or Howard the Duck, characters they obviously loved and fought to keep.

2) As I stated a few posts back, the slowdown in innovation in published worlds with thousands of characters and places,  is not necessarily a sign of lack of innovation, it's something inevitable that happens to a shared universe as it gets more established. After a while, you stop building a house and start living in it.

The question ought to be, are good stories being told with the supporting cast and villains that already exist?
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DBN
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2006, 11:11:07 PM »

Quote from: "Super Monkey"


Can anyone think of at least a few good things added to the Superman mythos Post-Crisis, besides bringing back old stuff.

In 20 years what do we have to show for it?


Superman being a living solar battery.

Kal-El as a descendent of Rao.

Expanded supporting cast of Metropolis.

The Eradicator.

Keelix, the robot butler.

Kon-El.

Steel.

Linda Danvers.

Superman One Million.

Kismet

Villains:

Riot

Maxima

Gog

Bloodsport

Hank Henshaw

Solaris

Massacre
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2006, 11:43:33 PM »

Remember No remakes or revisions, but only original characters.

Quote from: "JulianPerez"


Well, off the top of my head, there's cult-favorite Sleepwalker.


oh yeah, he is selling tons of books, I barely remember him.

Quote
the Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel


btw where is she now?

Quote
the Tom Peyer Hourman,


Remake, based on Hourman

Quote

and the Baron/Messner-Loebs characterization of Wally West that gave him a unique identity.


Remake of the Flash

Quote
There also was the Neil Gaiman Sandman.


ok, that's one. Though, I don't know if I would call him a superhero per-say.

Quote
There was also the Busiek creations, Silverclaw and Triathlon, who were very much in the Avengers spirit


How many people actually know who they are?

Quote
and the Thunderbolts (though they depend on whether you want to consider them "new," really).


I don't.

Quote
There's also the Cary Bates reinterpretation of Captain Atom, which is WILDLY different enough to qualify him as a totally different character.


so is Bryne's Man of Steel, and like it (only a million times better), still a remake.

Quote
And depending on when you consider the Bronze Age to "end," there's also Marv Wolfman's Nova (and villains like the Sphinx and the Corruptor).


It ends in 1986, with the death of the most classic comic book universe of them all. So Nova doesn't count.

Quote
As for villains, Abattoir provided a few good mysteries in the Bat-Books, and it was neat to see Batman rescue Ronald Reagan from the KGBeast. Maxima is a classy villainess that was very Silver/Bronze Age in scope.


ok, complete unknown besides Maxima, so that's one so far.

Quote
And then (scraping the bottom of the barrel here) there are original creations that are nonetheless neither original nor really that great, such as Byrne's creation of Galactus-clone Terminus and Alpha Flight, or recently,  Gravity, or boring and pretentious Mark Waid Flash foes like Savitar or Cobalt Blue.


heavyhitters I am sure Wink

Seriously, so far we one The Sandman, who is actually famous but debatable if he's a superhero and Maxima.

Quote
1) Since the Bronze Age there's been a fundamentally different approach to how comics are published. If a writer really likes an idea, they have the option of taking them over to minor presses where they can own the rights. If Marv Wolfman and Steve Gerber wrote today, they probably wouldn't have given away to Marvel Nova or Howard the Duck, characters they obviously loved and fought to keep.


Not true, those Image fellows were giving away a crapload of characters to Marvel, including Venom who I think is very boring besides the way he looks, talk about a one trick pony!, but at least he is famous enough that people who don't read Spiderman know who he is. People have been giving away TONS of characters but very few of them other than a handful in the past 20 years, are worth mentioning in the same breath as the pre-crisis ones. Just look at all those countless totally forgetable Mutants, Marvel seem hellbent to find another cashcow, but they never did.

Quote
2) As I stated a few posts back, the slowdown in innovation in published worlds with thousands of characters and places,  is not necessarily a sign of lack of innovation, it's something inevitable that happens to a shared universe as it gets more established. After a while, you stop building a house and start living in it.


If they have nothing new to say, why should I and other readers care? Perhaps it's just time to move on.

Quote
The question ought to be, are good stories being told with the supporting cast and villains that already exist?


Recurring villains and heroes are fine and all, but if that's all you have the same old ones over and over and over and over again it's going to get really boring... really quick, unless you have some incredible writers and artists on board to keep things interesting.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2006, 01:30:29 AM »

Well, since nothing in comics qualifies as high literature, philosophy, or science...it all comes down to preference to me...

One thing I do think is that a freshness needs to come in, whether I like it or not...I'm often amazed that people don't see the differences between the Silver and Bronze Age, but then, I figure I'm just older and read more comics from one era...actually, a ten year window seems about right, it keeps new kids coming in and prevents the diminishing audiences of aging fans from dictating results.  Nods to continuity may make old fans smile, but I'm not sure its always good storytelling...just on this site, if you read the two Super Teacher from Krypton stories, yikes, they are different...the Super Teacher is sort of the same old lame idealogue, but Superboy himself is very different.  It seems clear as day to me that the Silver and Bronze Age Superman and Superboy are very different, but that may just because I lived through the contrast as a comic buying kid.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2006, 02:58:24 AM »

Quote from: "SuperMonkey"
   Remember No remakes or revisions, but only original characters.


Why not? The Tom Peyer Hourman, for instance, is different enough in character and with so many other little innovations that the only similarities to the Earth-2 character is that he's made of Miraclo.

Quote from: "SuperMonkey"
Seriously, so far we one The Sandman, who is actually famous but debatable if he's a superhero and Maxima.


Since WHEN does a character being well known qualify them for "good character" status? Sleepwalker and Omega the Unknown are better characters than other, more famous ones that have emerged in recent times. And speaking of Gerber, DEFENDERS was really boring under the household names (Dr. Strange, Hulk, Sillver Surfer) and vastly more interesting under characters like Valkyrie and Nighthawk.

Actually, some (myself included) will argue that the John Broome stories of Captain Comet in STRANGE ADVENTURES were the greatest DC Silver Age book, and poor Comet's never had so much as a 7-11 cup.

Quote from: "SuperMonkey"
If they have nothing new to say, why should I and other readers care? Perhaps it's just time to move on.

Recurring villains and heroes are fine and all, but if that's all you have the same old ones over and over and over and over again it's going to get really boring... really quick, unless you have some incredible writers and artists on board to keep things interesting.


Because Batman vs. the Joker, and the Avengers battling Ultron, are the comic book equivalents of the Rolling Stones playing "Satisfaction."

And just because new elements are not used does not necessarily indicate new stories cannot be told. Walt Simonson for instance, told stories about Thor that built on the framework that the Lee/Kirby JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY provided. the stories about the deadly dragon Fafnir for instance. Simonson even found a new role for trickster Loki. If a new character was introduced that did the same job, it wouldn't have worked as well.

The thing is, history and previous events give stories POWER, because it can be used to alter characterization. If Kurt Busiek had used a new villain other than Ultron for his masterstroke, "Ultron Unleashed," the story wouldn't have worked as well, because of how much these past stories influenced everybody's characterization, making everything more desperate and intriguing.

Quote from: "SuperMonkey"
It ends in 1986, with the death of the most classic comic book universe of them all. So Nova doesn't count.


CRISIS is as good a place to end the Bronze Age as any, but there's as much debate about the end of the Bronze Age as there is about the Silver Age and Golden Age. Actually, at DC, I'd define the end of Bronze Age being several years earlier, when it seemed that Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman were writing EVERYTHING, a period that had some highlights but overall made Crisis a mercy-killing. And if there's any man that could end an era, it would be Gerry-freakin'-Conway, who was EIC of Marvel for - I'm not making this up here - TWO WEEKS, and in that time arguably the two greatest writers in comics history, Englehart and Gerber, left the company.

Quote from: "SuperMonkey"
One thing I do think is that a freshness needs to come in, whether I like it or not...I'm often amazed that people don't see the differences between the Silver and Bronze Age, but then, I figure I'm just older and read more comics from one era...actually, a ten year window seems about right, it keeps new kids coming in and prevents the diminishing audiences of aging fans from dictating results. Nods to continuity may make old fans smile, but I'm not sure its always good storytelling...just on this site, if you read the two Super Teacher from Krypton stories, yikes, they are different...the Super Teacher is sort of the same old lame idealogue, but Superboy himself is very different. It seems clear as day to me that the Silver and Bronze Age Superman and Superboy are very different, but that may just because I lived through the contrast as a comic buying kid.


I agree there is a break, particularly where Superman is concerned, though I'd argue overall, if there is such a thing as a "Bronze Age" it would have been marked by talent coming and going, not necessarily by theme and the "character" of the stories; note how different, for instance, late fifties stories are under Otto Binder, from late sixties stories with guys like Jim Shooter in LEGION, and Denny O'Neil in JLA and HAWKMAN AND THE ATOM. To be fair and accurate as possible, the DC Silver Age ought to be broken into two parts, and even then, their books were totally different from what was going on next door at the House that Stan Built at the same time.

I would argue the reason there's overlap between the sixties, and seventies-to-late-eighties is that the second period is all about keeping the past alive. If I wanted to read about the early issues of Spider-Man or the Avengers, there were reprint books like MARVEL TRIPLE ACTION and MARVEL TALES, and if I wanted to read some classic DC stuff, there were the 100-page DC Super-Spectaculars.

Quote from: "DBN"

Superman being a living solar battery.

Kal-El as a descendent of Rao.

Expanded supporting cast of Metropolis.

The Eradicator.

Keelix, the robot butler.

Kon-El.

Steel.

Linda Danvers.

Superman One Million.

Kismet

Villains:

Riot

Maxima

Gog

Bloodsport

Hank Henshaw

Solaris

Massacre


Some of these are good ideas, but most of these are not. Maxima and Riot, for instance, I will give you are extraordinary and worthy villains, created by Roger Stern and Louise Simonson, respectively. Hank Henshaw was an ugly, insincere character with a murky origin and murky motivation and personality, associated with the absolute nadir of Superman's existence. Nothing is less cool than someone desperately trying to be cool.

Conner Kent was ONLY interesting when Geoff Johns got ahold of him in TEEN TITANS and made him grow up and behave in a mature fashoin, as well as streamlined his entire concept.

Steel has a big fat nothing of a personality, and his gizmos aren't even that interesting, either. A dull, derivative character that adds nothing to the Superman Mythos.

Though I'm not a Morrison fan, I have to begrudgingly give him props for the over the top grandeur of Solaris, however.

Kal-El as a descendant of Rao is a totally inappropriate concept, because the Superman stories have always been science fiction with his Krypton a 1930s style technocratic and atheistic society, and this grounds it in mysticism (one can argue the PHANTOM ZONE mini did the same, but it was nonetheless in a science fiction context, and one can argue the zone has such liminality that weird elements are certainly possible in it that aren't elsewhere).

Every single one of the Metropolis supporting cast was an annoying, one-dimensional cardboard bore: Ron Troupe, Bibbo (a ridiculous, Giffen-esque caricature meant for "comedy" but like Giffen's work, lacks charm or even the very comedy), Cat Grant, Perry White's drug addict son. Mostly they were used for superhumanly dull, page-killing human interest stories that made Superman's stories earthbound, and Superman into an inferior Spider-Man.
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2006, 03:16:54 AM »

LOL, well, we are spinning out of Last Days of the Phantom Zone here..but, my argument about the Bronze Age difference focuses on this, an emphasis on Superman fitting in in a contemporary context...move him to TV, give him an ex-jock pain in the butt, focus on his private life and his apartment, try to fit him into what the Guardians believe...alll that is fine but it WAS different...in the Silver Age it just wasn't a point to care about whether the Daily Planet's circulation was up or not, Clark Kent's apartment life was more centered around whether Batman broke in to place a brain recording that would fool Superman in a game of Super Identities, and honestly, Superman wouldn't give a hoot about what the Guardians had to say...

Its weird, but I do agree with you about the Crisis being a mercy killing, but maybe for different reasons, and like the fact that I don't like Maggin and Bates as much as most people here (but I don't revile them or disrespect them), I think its just a demonstration that we all have very particular tastes.
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