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Author Topic: The Phantom Zone Miniseries  (Read 21714 times)
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Jor-El
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« on: August 09, 2006, 02:04:44 AM »

Are there any plans to put this on the site Rao?
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2006, 04:10:50 AM »

I would guess no.

https://www.supermanthroughtheages.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1934&highlight=phantom+zone
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« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2006, 04:43:06 AM »

Super Monkey guessed correctly.

S!
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2006, 12:49:50 PM »

If this is an editorial decision based on issues of content or some such, that's your call, Rao.  But if it's a question of simply not having the issues, I'll be glad to donate scans.  Might take a while, of course...
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2006, 02:57:45 PM »

I joined this forum...when? Around July 2005? (Hey, that means it's been a year!)

And I can't believe I didn't notice this and let the besmirching of the honor of my lady fair, Steve Gerber, go unchallenged! Sir Julian rides to the rescue! HUZZAH, VARLETS!

Now, before I start, let me say I don't think the Phantom Zone was a perfect miniseries, to be sure (and I'm not even going to TALK about DC COMICS PRESENTS #97 - yecch). Why did the Phantom Zoners feel the need to get revenge on Earth? The supernatural "soul" aspect of the Phantom Zone was particularly unwarranted in what was essentially a science fiction concept.

However, there are some essential differences between the PHANTOM ZONE miniseries and the post-Byrne/Helfer era. Steve Gerber clearly knows his Silver Age/Bronze Age Superman when it comes to this miniseries: he even brings out that donut-shaped sun used in one of the Flash/Superman races, and every obscure Zoner ever. The guy did his homework. This is why the comparison to the Post-Crisis guys bugs me: Gerber didn't live in consciencious ignorance of what came before as they did.

Ask anyone that was reading comics in 1982 what they remember happened to Superman in that year, and they'll tell you "oh, that was the year the Phantom Zone criminals broke out, right?" This was a "big" story: not in the sense that something like a superhero crossover was "big," but in the sense that the stakes were high, plot elements were introduced, lots of things you expect in big-budget movies; it was doing the "Avengers epic" treatment for Superman: this was the "Thanos War," or 'Korvac Saga," or "Celestial Madonna."

As what I can only assume is what Rao means by this Gerber work being the foundation of Post-Crisis and him not "getting Superman," Rao means the violence, particularly in the last issue, right? Or the general acid-trippy horror tone of the entire miniseries?

First, let me point out one significant diffence between the violence in the PHANTOM ZONE miniseries and the violence Post-Crisis, which makes a comparison between the two unwarranted: in PHANTOM ZONE, only the thoroughly nasty Zoners are doing things like setting people on fire and causing destruction out of sheer wickedness. Superman keeps his hands clean, fights fair, uses his brain, and doesn't even throw so much as a kidney punch, to say nothing of a disembowelment. Compare that to say, the post-Crisis Jurgens stuff where Superman is with all sincerity when attacking the Cyborg Superman, shooting to kill.

I would argue that it isn't even the violence that makes a lot of the Jurgens stuff unpalatable: it is the fact that Superman demonstrated lethal intent, which is out of character. A friend of mine were having an argument about the Brubaker CAPTAIN AMERICA, where the Sentinel of Liberty was dashing across a train to stop terrorists from getting a bomb into the city. He argued that Cap knocking people off meant that they may certainly be killed or seriously wounded, something Cap wouldn't do. I countered that for Cap, the priority at the time was stopping the bomb; and that while Captain America was shield-slinging bad guys off, I suspect that if we had thought bubbles, Captain America would probably have timed his shield-throws so that the men can land safely. Steve Rogers was throwing his shield to stop a bomb from going off. There is a big difference between that, and Cap hurling his shield to decapitate someone.

Also - this was 1982 and villains were receiving updates to make them scarier. Yet why is the Cary Bates update of Luthor as Khan in a battlesuit driven by vengeance (and that involved Bates making Lexor blowing up) and the liquid metal Brainiac Wolfman created get a free pass when they aren't downright PRAISED, yet Gerber's reinvention of the Phantom Zoners as wild-eyed megalomaniacs (something that always was true of them, really; and it should be pointed out that this is presaged by sadistic man-killer Faora by Cary Bates) triggers a less desirable reaction?

I also contest the belief that the only stories that can be told using the Super-Mythos are peppy science fiction tales. The Superman mythos is big enough that it can support dark fantasy and outright horror takes on it in addition to other kinds of stories as long as it is a mood and theme not used exclusively (just as Batman can bounce from zany jewel capers under the Penguin to globetrotting/supernatural adventures with Ra's al-Ghul). In other words, Superman in an acid trip/horror/weird story can work, as long as it isn't an everyday thing, and the Phantom Zone is one way to do this, just as Mzysptlk and J. Wilbur Wolfingham are springboards to whimsical, humorous stories.

Frank Miller once said in the eighties that Suoerman is day to Batman's night, and this I don't agree with; Batman has a great deal of merry swashbucklery in him, and Superman is science fiiction, and science fiction can be Phillip K. Dick as well as Andre Norton.

Well, let me amend the previous statement: Superman never had an element of nihilism in his stories, as can be found in Dick's books. And there was no element of nihilism in the Gerber miniseries! Superman breaks out of the Aethyr and saves the day. Wonder Woman and Supergirl prevent the missiles from hitting and stop World War III. A lot of stories are centered on Superman and superheroes being impotent or having feet of clay; this is not seen here.
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2006, 03:37:01 PM »

Well, your boyfriend also wrote that DC Comic presents issue as a sequel to his mini, who's only good point was the cover.

But, here is Steve Gerber himself on the Silver Age Superman:

Which came up on a question about Superman Elseworlds called Last Son of Earth:

The third book picks up the story eleven years after the end of the second and actually takes Clark back to Krypton and into the midst of a war between cultural factions there. Jor-El, his adoptive father, has begun to unearth the records of Krypton's ancient past, a period before the Clone Wars -- what you and I would call the "Silver Age" Krypton -- and wants to rebuild Kryptonian society on that model. He's opposed by the Council of Elders and even his own father, who are determined to protect Byrne's neo-Vulcan version of Kryptonian culture, even if it means civil war.

I'm having a lot of fun with the third book, because it's allowing me to play around with some of the wackier elements of the Silver Age Krypton -- the Scarlet Jungle, the weird animals, the Phantom Zone -- in completely new ways. There's even a new version of General Zod, a little riff on the multiple varieties of kryptonite, and a Luthor who's gone almost as loopy as the Joker.

It's interesting -- while I was researching the Weisinger-era Superman material for this book, I really came to appreciate how inventive it was. Much of it was silly, sure, and Weisinger clearly had no judgment as to when he'd crossed the line into too much of a good thing. But when you look just at the level of inventiveness, at all the concepts and characters he and his writers were originating on a regular basis, it's pretty darn astonishing.

You can make the same statement about the early Marvel era, as well, and about Jack's Fourth World books.

You asked me very early on why I didn't much care for comics today, and I think this may be the answer. Nobody is doing much imagining anymore. Think about it. How many new Batman villains have there been since, say, the early '70s? (Harley Quinn is the only one that comes to mind, and she wasn't even created by DC.) How many new characters has Marvel launched since the 1980s? How many new Spider-Man or Fantastic Four villains have we seen in that time? Where are the writers and artists who are willing to dive off the deep end, even within the established continuities, as I did with the darn duck? (And others did, too, with various other creations -- I wasn't a completely isolated phenomenon.)

Writers are willing to settle for regurgitating the stories and characters they read as kids, and readers are willing to -- well, let's not extend the metaphor any further.

You know, I'm not a big fan of Alan Moore's ABC books, but if there's a reason they've been so successful -- apart from the fact that Alan is a magnificent writer, I mean -- it's that he's had the courage to show people something they haven't seen before. He may be packaging it in familiar wrapping a lot of the time, too familiar for me, but at least it's new. At least it's the product of one writer with one very distinctive point of view.


link to full interview: http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/features/99261919770355.htm
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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2006, 03:48:56 PM »

Steve Gerber isn't all bad as you can all see Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2006, 03:52:34 AM »

Quote from: "Steve Gerber"
You asked me very early on why I didn't much care for comics today, and I think this may be the answer. Nobody is doing much imagining anymore. Think about it. How many new Batman villains have there been since, say, the early '70s? (Harley Quinn is the only one that comes to mind, and she wasn't even created by DC.) How many new characters has Marvel launched since the 1980s? How many new Spider-Man or Fantastic Four villains have we seen in that time? Where are the writers and artists who are willing to dive off the deep end, even within the established continuities, as I did with the darn duck? (And others did, too, with various other creations -- I wasn't a completely isolated phenomenon.)


With all due respect to the great Steve Gerber, this line of thought never has held water with me, because it implies that world building is a neverending process; and while innovation never should stop, there comes a point where the framework for creation stops being built, and you have to get to the phase where you start filling in the gaps. To strain the metaphor a bit more: after a while you stop building a house, the time comes to live in it.

This is not to say that some comics, unfortunately have been in a state of creative arrested development for some time, but that writers cannot be faulted if, after a certain point, you get a sense of what this particular series is about. In fact, I would argue that the clear definition of a Rogue's Gallery and Supporting Cast and worldbuilding are not a sign of absent innovation, but it's just a part of what happens to any type of good serial fiction at a certain point in their development.

MIGHTY THOR is an example of what I'm talking about. The original JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY issues gave Thor a new supporting cast member just about every issue; or a new villain from the Gray Gargoyle, Absorbing Man, and so forth. The orginal JIM is exciting because we see everything for the first time  Some ideas have been a regular part of Thor's universe (e.g. the Enchantress, Bifrost, the Destroyer armor, Ego: the Living Planet, the High Evolutionary). All that has been established, and Stan and Jack did a great job. But there comes a point that, okay, now we know what Asgard is like and Thor can't just have a cousin of his or something pop up out of nowhere.

And eventually, niches start to form for villains. Let me go out on a limb here and say: does Superman REALLY need BOTH Brainiac AND Lex Luthor, for instance? The answer is yes, since Brainiac is different in many ways from Lex Luthor, however, the point is, in many ways they overlap, and this problem gets worse the more villains a hero gets. For instance, Walt Simonson when he wrote THOR, had to do gymnastics to show us why, in the story he was doing, the Enchantress's sister would make a better villain than the Enchantress herself.

More to the point, there comes a point where a writer can say, "why create a new guy, when Doctor Octopus would be PERFECT for this story?" And there is nothing wrong with that and here's why:

A villain, in their first appearance, nearly always, is only half an idea (with the exception of certain high-concept foes like Ultron, that were heavy-hitters from Day One). It takes later stories to establish who they are, exactly. In fact, villains only become a presence in the book the second time they pop up and a hero says "Oh, I thought you fell into your own destructatron last time!"

And after a certain point, villains become a legitimate part of the scenery of a book - they become supporting cast members, in a sense. That is, one reads DETECTIVE COMICS to see what the Joker and Penguin are up to as much as for Batman, and one reads AVENGERS for Ultron, Kang, Zemo and the rest. Using them is not an absence of the imagination; it can be, but often it is what the book is ABOUT.

Sticking to traditional villains is not a lack of innovation, but something inevitable (and, in fact, desirable) as comics get older, because the books get their own identity. This is not to say that infusions of new ideas aren't necessary, but there comes a time, creatively speaking, that you have to stop buying new toys and start playing with the old ones.

The most common complaint on any team book is that a character is "underused." Red Tornado is "underused." Black Widow is "underused." Even places, like Limbo or Kosmos have been called "underused." This is why many people resent the introduction of a character like Wolverine onto the Avengers: if you want a pragmatic, results oriented character with an espionage background in the Avengers...there are a half-dozen characters with history with the team that can be used instead of importing Wolver-freakin-ine.
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