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Author Topic: What was wrong with the Bronze Age Superman?  (Read 13724 times)
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Doctor Will Magnus
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« on: September 19, 2006, 03:18:47 AM »

Hello one and all,

I'm a college student and a big Superman fan.  I was first introduced to comics by my father, who read me a Swan/Shooter Legion story when I was very young, and I've been hooked ever since.  After sampling just about every era and medium that Superman has to offer, I've discovered that the stories that (to me) contain the most adventure, character, and sci-fi fun seem to be the Maggin/Bates/Schwartz/Swan Superman in the late '70s and '80s.  Yet, it seems that this Superman gets the most flack for being "too-powerful", "too inhuman", "too fantastic", and the reason for the sales slide that culiminated with Byrne's reboot in 1986.  
After some time lurking here, it seems that this board is probably the best one to ask this question (as you all seem to have a significant knowledge of just about every Superman incarnation).   With all of the positive reaction to the VERY Silver/Bronze Age All-Star Superman, I can't figure out why such an awesome character was so unpopular and thusly discarded!   So I ask of anyone who has an opinion, what was wrong with the Bronze Age Superman? Thanks in advance.

PS: My undying thanks go to Great Rao for setting up this great site!  Always a good place to visit.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2006, 03:42:27 AM »

Well, for ME, there were problems with the Bronze Age Superman because the titles seemed to follow more real world trends that end up being transitory in the long run...the "real world-ification" of the 70s doesn't even hold up as well as the "ideal world-ification" of the 60s...

But as to your question, I suppose the all-powerful being was seen as a liability in terms of increased realism as it affected movie, cable television, and video game sales...nevertheless, the sales slide in general continued...

Comics are tricky...in the 40s, sales were huge in terms of kids wanting heroes and adult GIs loving the reminders of home. the 50s and 60s introduced a sense of fantasy above and beyond that able to be re-produced in the fantasy and sci-fi of its day...and the competition from other media has never let up and has gotten far more diverse...
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Great Rao
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2006, 05:13:44 AM »

Quote from: "Doctor Will Magnus"
So I ask of anyone who has an opinion, what was wrong with the Bronze Age Superman?

Absolutely nothing.  I have yet to meet a single person who has read the stories and doesn't like them.  Most of the criticisms I've heard are either speculations or from people who haven't read any of the tales but are just repeating other's arguments.  I think there may be a few who just like to criticize anything that's good.

Quote
PS: My undying thanks go to Great Rao for setting up this great site!  Always a good place to visit.

You're very welcome, Doc!  Glad you like the site, and thanks for signing up!

S!
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2006, 11:29:50 AM »

The whole trend of "relevance" was extremely heavy handed and has dated poorly, IMHO.

While it wasn't as good as the Silver Age, the Bronze Age did provide us with some of Superman's greatest stories, Jack Kirby on Jimmy Olsen and all that good stuff.
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ShinDangaioh
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2006, 01:05:34 PM »

The crricizims leveled at the Bronze Age was due to poor writing.  There were some real clunkers in the Bronze Age for Superman(the Master Mesmerizer for example)  

Green Lantern * Green Arrow: Hard Travelling Heroes story arc is a perfect example of the heavy handedness.
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Gangbuster
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« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2006, 01:14:32 PM »

While the Silver Age was the most creative period in Superman's history, the Bronze age was the best from a literary standpoint. Show me any writer since 1986 who can match Maggin's novels or Alan Moore's stories, and I'll buy you a steak dinner!*










*- unless you are a member of PETA
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shazamtd
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2006, 07:30:14 PM »

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Absolutely nothing. I have yet to meet a single person who has read the stories and doesn't like them. Most of the criticisms I've heard are either speculations or from people who haven't read any of the tales but are just repeating other's arguments. I think there may be a few who just like to criticize anything that's good.

I agree.  I think what happend is tastes changed.  I feel people just lost their love of fun action/adventure stories and creativity went out the window with it.
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"Is there no one on this planet to even challenge me?!" - General Zod (Superman II)
Doctor Will Magnus
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2006, 08:22:30 PM »

Thanks for all the replies! I've never really had the opportunity to talk about the more classic incarnations of Superman before.
I have not encountered much in the way of "relevance" in the Bronze Age Superman comics I have read.  It may just be my particular sampling of stories.  I certainly agree that such themes can overwhelm any kind of enjoyment in comic hero stories.  
I was inspired to ask this question after reading Maggin's Last Son of Krypton and Miracle Monday.  Both of those sweeping stories had so much going for them that I could not imagine anyone wanting to replace that cast of characters.  
Was the Byrne reboot inspired by the deconstructionist trend created by Watchmen? Or was it in the works before that began?
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