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Author Topic: The Phantom Zone Miniseries  (Read 21722 times)
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2006, 03:50:25 AM »

Huh, I don't know, Kara's death seemd fairly important, she moved Kal out of danger in the weird anti matter universe, and a sacrifice for her cousin seemed enough...not being that experienced or enthusiastic about comics "death" and reading the tributes from Batgirl, etc, afterwards, as well as Superman's...it seemed enough for me...but then that's just an opinion of a Silver Ager...

As to the end of super heroes in the 50s...I think you need a little more evidence to shore up the premise that they were laughed at...this is still 30 years before the grown-up fan of comics (i.e not War G.I.s but fanboys)...I think that the turn to movie stars and funny animals had a lot more to do with where the media was turning in the cold war era...and did comics buying kids really care that Wertham intimated that Batman and Robin were gay lovers?
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DBN
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« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2006, 05:39:31 AM »

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Others may see it differently, but to me, so called "light and comedic" stories (e.g. Giffen) are ultimately a thousand times more harmful to characters than so-called angsty ones, because if you do a dark themed tale, at least you have to play it straight and take the characters seriously.

Which is worse: taking things too seriously, or not enough?

For what it's worth, I'll have to agree with Alan Moore that the official moment the Golden Age ended for the superheroes was the Kurtzman MAD magazine parodies. Unlike Giffen and David and the rest, the MAD comics were truly, hilariously funny, yes, but the parody officially ended whatever vague relevance to pop culture superheroes may have had, and they have never entirely recovered their dignity.

There's such a thing as a parody that is just so TRUE, that it makes what it parodies ultimately irrelevant. It's no wonder that the film version of RENT bombed; how could anybody ever look at it the same way again after "Everybody Has AIDS" from TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE?

It wasn't just that MAD Magazine parodied the superheroes. It was the fact that the parodies reflected a real general shift in sentiment: deprived of the direct good and evil of the Second World War, superheroes, who require good vs. evil and symbolism, no longer functioned in the anxious world of the fifties. Superheroes became a joke. Remember, this was the era where Batman and Robin are gay gags started to be everywhere, and there were a thousand bright blue jokes about Wonder Woman and her lesbian island.

To be fair, there are real differences between the MAD magazine parodies and Giffen, David and the so-called "humorous" take on characters; for one thing, MAD was actually FUNNY. But here's my essential point:

Superheroes didn't die in the fifties because the problems and anxities of the time were beyond them, or because the times were too weird for them. Superheroes died in the 1950s because people laughed at them.


Comics are made this way to make them supposedly more realistic. Problem is, life isn't full of doom and gloom. Otherwise, more folks would take the option of swallowing a bullet.

You have to take in all of the good with all of the bad. For every goofy moment that YJ and Superboy title had, you also had moments like the death of Tana Moon, the retirement of Arrowette, Slobo's end, the OWAW issue of SB, and the last arc with Secret. These characters laughed and cried together in those titles.

I mean, my God, just look what DC has done to Raph Dibny and Robin over the past couple of years.

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Well, that's what I mean: if Conner Kent's origin was as the clone of some random guy, who really cares? What's so "Super" about him? Previously, it was thought he was a clone of Superman, but they did plenty of gymnastics around that. Another gutless concession to the Post-Crisis "No Kryptonians" rule.


Am I supposed to blame the previous writers for DC editorial decisions of that time? They did the best they could with what they had. And the funny thing is, those stories were still better than what Johns came up with.

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Now, the fact he was vain doesn't make him a bad character, but under the people that wrote him, he was something of a cartoon, a character right out of High School movies; I doubt under Peter David that Conner could be capable of such really honest moments of the kind Johns gave him, such as for instance, when he and Wonder Girl shared a private moment in that barn during the TEEN TITANS ANNUAL.


Because Young Justice was meant to be for readers younger than those currently reading Teen Titans. Without that restriction, I have full faith that PAD could have done much of the same. Heck, I give props to the man for making the blob of goo Supergirl into a readable character.

Incidently, Johns wasn't alone in writing the Titans Annual. He had Wolfman to help him.

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I think you're missing my point, though. I agree that the Death Scene wasn't perfect by any means. What I'm saying though, is that it wasn't some random non-sequitur or shock value death; he didn't die like Pantha or Wildebeest did earlier, as afterthoughts. His death is pretty much the central focus of the story arc of five major characters, as well as the direction of the DCU post-IC. In other words, his death MATTERED. It can't be said that he was just "thrown away."


Except, I feel that they only killed him off because of the on-going lawsuit with the Seigal's and because they didn't have the gall to kill off Nightwing.

Heck, only the Titans and Supergirl have really shown any emotion over his death. His mentor doesn't even seem to really care.

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True, but the example doesn't work because the big secret behind Marvel's Mighty Thor is that he isn't "mythological." In fact, with Thor, the further in the stories get away from Norse myth, the better they are. The more interesting Thor elements are not the ones lifted from myth, but things like the Destroyer, the Enchantress, the Rigellians, the High Evolutionary, Ego: the Living Planet, and so forth.


Neither are many of the other mythological beings when they appear in comics. Because, it's a comic book universe. Mythology and science-fiction have been working in tandem for years.

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At some level, this sort of non-mythological science fiction stuff is a part of what Mighty Thor is all about; the same can't be said of Superman and the Kryptonese mythology. Truth be told, in nearly fifty years, the only thing about these gods that we really KNOW is that Yuda was the moon goddess and Kara was the Kryptonian goddess of beauty. They're a barely peripheral part of worldbuilding instead of active, real, and significant forces, cute factoids for Krypton fans to throw around like the fact the main building material on Krypton is a plastic called Grahu, or the Kryptoniad.


We learned more about the Kryptonian gods in Walt Simonson's Last God of Krypton, Neil Gaeman's Sandman, and Mark Shutz's run on Man of Steel.

Once you get past the civiliazation, the planet itself was full of mythological wonders. Besides, it's not like Rao came down and impregnated Lara. He only started the 'El line.

The combining of mythological and science-fiction elements is even more apparent in 52 when you have a group of humans practicing a Kryptonian ressurection ritual.
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TELLE
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« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2006, 07:59:33 AM »

This is a great thread --so much so that I have no idea where to jump in.

On topic: although I liked Gerber alot (HTD #16 is one of my top 10 Bronze Age mainstream books and Omega/Manthing/Defenders were fun and still stand up as inventive, above-average superhero comics), I still theink that Phantom Zone miniseries is problematic.  Miniseries are hard to begin with, and (re-)introducing many new characters in a few short issues means character development is at a premium.  I really thought it was too much, too soon in terms of concepts.  The Superman mythos is one of gradual acretion (or at least new concpets are generally confined to separate stories --even if those stories are only 8 pages long) and the mini had tons, including a "fantasy-world" PZ that I still don't buy --it would make a great video game, though.  Gene Colan was a great artist as well but the subject matter still made me resentful.

I also agree that the Iron Age has a dearth of memorable new characters (although I'm sure there is some good writing going on somewhere).  I would maintain that the main reason for this in Marvel and DC books is the issue of copyright and creators' rights in general, despite vast improvements, royalties, co-publishing deals, etc., writers and artists are still better off retaining full ownership and direction over the characters and concepts they create.  I think of the fan fave books from people like Alan Moore, Kurt Busiek, Mike Mignola (not to mention the Image phenom) published over the last 20 years and there is no comparison with the output of the Big Two --the good stuff in coming from the "minors".  With the exception of Neil Gaiman, I can't think of one creator from the post-1986 generation who hasn't had more creative success outside the traditional kids comics framework.  And Gaiman is now arguably more famous for his novels.

And the parody thing: the end of your total embrace of superheroes comes when you encounter the first half-way decent parody of that subject.  MAD might have marked the end of the historic Golden Age but in the sense that everyone has a different Golden Age dating from their discovery of comics/superheroes, parody marks the end of that.  Comics full of self-parody or gentle humour don't count as "Age-enders" though.
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Johnny Nevada
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« Reply #27 on: August 27, 2006, 12:14:15 AM »

>>
There's such a thing as a parody that is just so TRUE, that it makes what it parodies ultimately irrelevant. It's no wonder that the film version of RENT bombed; how could anybody ever look at it the same way again after "Everybody Has AIDS" from TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE? <<

Doubt "Rent" flopped because of a parody in "Team America" (which I don't recall doing stellar box office either; IMDB.com suggests "America" barely broke even)...  probably the subject matter/the "art house" aspects/comparisons to the original (and still-running) play/the film's actual quality has more to do with it failing. I admit I haven't seen either film, though.

Just because something's parodied accurately doesn't automatically kill the original item---otherwise superheroes wouldn't still be around after those "Mad" parodies of the 50's (or any subsequent parodies/take offs on the genre)...

-B.
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Gary
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« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2006, 06:07:29 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Well, that's what I mean: if Conner Kent's origin was as the clone of some random guy, who really cares? What's so "Super" about him? Previously, it was thought he was a clone of Superman, but they did plenty of gymnastics around that. Another gutless concession to the Post-Crisis "No Kryptonians" rule.


IMO, "super" isn't about powers or Kryptonian heritage. It's about trying to do the right thing.

John Henry Irons exemplifies this. He has no connection whatsoever with Krypton and at least as originally conceived has no powers. Yet even many people on this board who otherwise hate "post-Crisis" continuity see him as a worthy addition to the mythos.

Superboy, of course, hasn't always managed to do the right thing. He's made his share of mistakes, but he's generally been able to learn and grow from them. (At least that's the case in the original "Rebirth" storyline and the Superboy issues by Kesel; I've not read Young Justice so I can't comment on that.)
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Gary
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« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2006, 06:29:25 PM »

I'll add that while I of course can't speak for the writers at the time, I don't think that they were conceding to anything in having SB not be Superman's clone. I think the point of that was to tell a story of a guy whose sense of self-worth was based on his supposed parentage, of how he deals with it when that rug is pulled out from under him. Echoes of Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael.

It'd also be a problem just logistically to show human scientists capable of cloning Supey. If Cadmus can do it, what's to stop people like Luthor, Dabney Donovan, etc. from breeding armies of Super-clones for their own use? At best you'd have to do the Steve Rogers dodge -- it was a one-time fluke, and the one and only guy who knew how it worked got conveniently killed off immediately after, sadly not leaving behind any intelligible notes on the process. Yyyyyyeahright.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #30 on: August 30, 2006, 04:20:58 AM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Huh, I don't know, Kara's death seemd fairly important, she moved Kal out of danger in the weird anti matter universe, and a sacrifice for her cousin seemed enough...not being that experienced or enthusiastic about comics "death" and reading the tributes from Batgirl, etc, afterwards, as well as Superman's...it seemed enough for me...but then that's just an opinion of a Silver Ager...


Well, to be fair, as far as superhero sendoffs go, Supergirl could have done worse...just ask the New Warriors, who died because Mark Millar thought they were a bunch of losers. Thankfully, other (GOOD) people at the House that Stan Built were there to play Damage Control. Dan Slott in a recent SHE-HULK issue, had the New Warrior survivors declare.

"No! You're wrong! They're weren't just kids playing heroes! They...WERE heroes!"

My point was that 1) Supergirl's death wasn't dramatic or worthy of a character like her, and 2) it wasn't entirely integrated into the Crisis story; Crisis's story would have been the same or not whether she died, which is a way of saying the death didn't really matter.

Quote from: "DBN"
You have to take in all of the good with all of the bad. For every goofy moment that YJ and Superboy title had, you also had moments like the death of Tana Moon, the retirement of Arrowette, Slobo's end, the OWAW issue of SB, and the last arc with Secret. These characters laughed and cried together in those titles.


Good point, but bad example. The OWAW issue rubbed me the wrong way. There's a difference between having characters start to behave maturely (as Impulse and Conner did under Johns) and just having them come face to face with nasty events in order to scar them, like the trip to Apokalyps. Yeah, it's all fun and games until someone's sold into slavery!

A lot of YOUNG JUSTICE gags just fell flat. I'm almost positive that except for the talking crab advisor in AQUAMAN, Peter David has never done a single funny joke in his life. The absolute worst kind of joke (and this is what made Byrne's SHE-HULK so terminally unfunny, at least when he decided it would be a "humor" book - irony, thy name be Byrne) are fourth-wall breakers, where the humor comes from the fact the characters are talking directly to the audience. The flattest YOUNG JUSTICE gag was one where Conner, Impulse and the Ray are reading comics, saying "it looks like my comic is going to be canceled." "Oh! So's mine." And so on. Then, Robin (whose comic is not canceled) walks in the room. Everyone looks at him. "What?" He says.

 :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:  :roll:

As for C-K not wearing, really, a costume...I like the compromise that was achieved by Johns and his artists whereby Conner wears everyday clothing with an S-Shield shirt. Spandex would have been unfair to the characters' personality. This reminds me of SKY HIGH - watch the movie again: NOBODY, except the adults, are wearing traditional costumes; they're all wearing ordinary clothes. But their clothes nonetheless FEEL superheroic because they have either primary colors, or at least a consistent color scheme.

I won't deny that Peter David has been able to accomplish some really astonishing things (his AQUAMAN run had many high points). And maybe there is something to the idea that, as David was writing for a young audience, he didn't feel it necessary to make Conner Kent entirely three-dimensional.

My biggest problem with Conner was that he just never really "wised up" until Johns. I issue this criticism a lot, but Conner Kent was in a state of permanent arrested development; the fact that at one point, he could never age past 16 can be taken as a metaphor for his entire existence.

The thing is, Conner Kent's characterization as a vain, rather irreverant and occasionally immature teen is one that, by definition, has a brief shelf life. There have been occasions where the writers had an opportunity to make Conner "wise up:" I thought at the time, during the Death of Superman, that "a-ha, this kid is going to snap out of it, and show everybody he's got the right stuff." Alas, it didn't happen that story: during his follow-up series, he became a glory hog in Hawaii. Then came the death of Tana Moon, which would be the moment he'd start acting with maturity, right? Nope - he wasn't going into showbiz, but at the same time he was still kind of a slacker.

Quote from: "Gary"
IMO, "super" isn't about powers or Kryptonian heritage. It's about trying to do the right thing.


Don't get me wrong, there have been many great fellow heroes and support in the Superman Mythos that aren't Kryptonian or blood-relatives of Superman, and that shouldn't be a prerequisite: just look at Vartox, or Valdemar, or the Silver Age Superwoman.

However, the problem with Superboy's DNA Project origin is that previously, he was a straightforward character (Superman's teen clone) that was muddled to all hell. The origin is an important part of who a character is and it can't be wiped clean without the character being altered. This is why the Mantis was plunged into such despair with the knowledge that her origin was a lie; thankfully, we soon learned the whole truth and it was even more interesting.

This is why stories that a alter an origin, like Mopee or the Byrne SPIDER-MAN CHAPTER ONE, are so unwelcome: it DOES matter where the Flash's speed comes from (accident or magical elf), or whether Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus were created at the same time.

Though I do believe that characters are the sum of their history, not just bite-sized soundbytes, there is something to be said for origins that are "tight." A character like Batman with an origin that can be given in a sentence is stronger than a character like Cable or Spider-Woman.

Quote from: "Gary"
John Henry Irons exemplifies this. He has no connection whatsoever with Krypton and at least as originally conceived has no powers. Yet even many people on this board who otherwise hate "post-Crisis" continuity see him as a worthy addition to the mythos.


Some may say that, but not me. Steel is phenomenally dull from start to finish.

Here's the thing about noble and heroic "protect and serve" Silver Age style characters: you have to be given a reason to care about them. The fact that Steel was a Silver Age throwback in terms of outlook is just not enough.

A character like the Roger Stern Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) was a character that was Silver Age in mentality, but she has other personality qualities that make her interesting: her feistiness, her devotion to family, her assertiveness; the way she was opinionated without being pushy, and the fact that occasionally she was given a great many cool things to do.

Steel, by contrast, has really no personality apart from serving and protecting.

Classic Superman is anything but bland; the best-kept secret of Superman is that he is in reality a very complicated character. Jim Shooter once said that it would take volumes to talk about Superman's personality. Superman has so many intriguing and contradictory character traits: his fundamental idealism and unwillingness to compromise his beliefs - but the fact that at the same time he is savvy and a realist, his sense of humor, his sense of law, his respect for humanity and his simultaneous detachment from humanity and loneliness and sense of exile, the way he was intellectual but simultaneously approachable, he was confident but also humble...and so on.

Not EVERY character can be the Fantastic Four, with all their idiosyncrasies. Captain Comet makes up for his lack of personality with the fact that he has an intriguing costume, origin, and suite of powers, and the fact the writers had him do neat things. But Steel has nothing this cool going for him.
 
His costume is GRAY. How appropriate - the most boring of all colors. What, they couldn't make his outfit a muddy, plain brown?

Steel has a terminally dull origin about being a weapons designer that wised up. Other characters have this origin, but there's not even a single other wrinkle in the formula to make Steel distinct.

He gets his powers from a suit of armor. Gee, how innovative. You'd think at least he'd have a few gadgets that someone else doesn't, right, like maybe those cool hammer-hands that Iron Man used in AVENGERS #2, or a finger that shoots freon, or a teleport matrix? Nope. He's got boot jets and super-strength, just like every other armor wearer in history, ever. Oh, and a hammer that he can kinda throw, but doesn't even have any other gizmos.

I can't even think of a single cool Steel moment, ever. Moments that make you say, "wow, what a great character," like the Black Panther cold-cocking Mephisto in one punch, or Hawkeye robbing the train in "Go West, Young Gods," or Batman discovering the true identity of the Hyperclan.

Steel is a boring failure of the imagination at every level, and is not worthy of the goodwill he receives because he kinda-sorta reminds people of other characters.
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« Reply #31 on: August 30, 2006, 04:34:22 AM »

Well, one of the story telling elements I give the Crisis is the step-by-step escalation approach it took in its playing out, almost as if, this gets more and more serious as it goes...Barry Allen's destroying the anti-matter cannon didn't stop the Anti Monitor either...
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