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Author Topic: Iron Age Retrospective  (Read 18106 times)
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MichaelBailey
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« on: October 23, 2006, 05:34:23 AM »

Administrator's Note: This thread has been split from this one.

Speaking as someone who started reading the Superman comics on a regular basis during the so-called Iron Age I would like to say that even though that is in the past I am rather enjoying the current crop of Superman books.

Having said that I really don't know what everyone's problem with the so-called Iron Age is.  There were some bad stories in there (especially between 2002-2004), but frankly I find them more entertaining and engaging than the Silver and Bronze Age that I had read.  (Which is substantial, btw.)

I think it's time to stop complaining about it.  It happened.  It's over.  Move on.

There's no reason to sing that the witch is dead since the witch has been dead for several years now.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2006, 05:22:14 PM by Great Rao » Logged

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MichaelBailey
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2006, 07:15:28 PM »

Well, the idea of an Iron Age Superman is misleading since there never was a real Superman during the Iron Age.

The title should have said "Superman Returns!" but that was already taken.  Wink

A real Superman?

So the last survivor of Krypton who wore the costume and was secretly Clark Kent didn't exist during that time?

Funny, I seem to have twenty years of comics that say different.

I guess my question here is what exactly was it about the Superman of that era that bothered you so much?
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davidelliott
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2006, 07:44:23 PM »

I think what Monk was saying (and I share this opinion) is that the post Crisis/Iron Age Superman is not the Superman that us "old-timer" pre-Crisis fans consider being Superman.  I certainly don't. 

It's just that the Iron Age Superman is a parallel Earth Superman (contrary to what Crisis was supposed to do) that went against tradition.  Death? Long hair?  Electro-Supes? Kryptonite Rings?  No thanks...

What this Post IC Superman looks like is a return to greatness... but we'll see
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DBN
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2006, 08:43:25 PM »

Well, the idea of an Iron Age Superman is misleading since there never was a real Superman during the Iron Age.

The title should have said "Superman Returns!" but that was already taken.  Wink

A real Superman?

So the last survivor of Krypton who wore the costume and was secretly Clark Kent didn't exist during that time?

Funny, I seem to have twenty years of comics that say different.

I guess my question here is what exactly was it about the Superman of that era that bothered you so much?

I have read nearly every issue that the Post-Crisis Supes appeared in. The only issues that I really liked were Post-Byrne up until the Fall of Metropolis arc. It was downhill after that and the books were generally unreadable (with a few exceptions like the Superman/Aliens mini, Shultz's run on Man of Steel, Action 775, and some others) up until now.

As for story elements that I didn't like during the era:

Superman's execution of the Phantom Zone criminals. This was just completly out of character and wrong on so many levels. It also made him look like a hypocrite when he was chiding WW for killing Max Lord, Maxima for nearly killing Brainiac, Manchester Black and the Elite, and numerous other times.

Luthor as a Kingpin ripoff.

Matrix Supergirl. Not worth anything until Peter David took hold of the character.

Krypton that deserved to blow up.

The Kent boarding house for sidekicks and supporting characters. Kal can't help Mae or Kon, so he dumps them on his parents.

Kandor. None of the flair or depth of the original.

Kal-El the Pornstar.

Oxegen mask for space travel.

Supporting cast with suplots that made Superman a guest-star in his own book.

Lame villians like Doomsday, Brawl, Anomoly (Absorbing Man clone), Conduit, and the Kraven-like guy that controlled Star Labs at one point.

The breakup of Lois/Clark.

Lana Lang. Manhunter spy.

I found the mullet hilarious, though.
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Super Monkey
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2006, 12:57:06 AM »

I posted this at another message board which I don't post at anymore back when IC 1st started:

To me that's not really Superman, and to The Great Rao who runs that site, it's not really Superman.

as to why, there are countless reasons.

You asked about the Origin, I will let you yourself and others here answer, since it's easy to figure out, can you guess which version I am referring to? I will explain why that version and so called Superman doesn't fit.

1. Where was Kal-El born?
Answer: In every origin, he was born on Krypton, except one where he was born on Earth.

2. Krypton's destruction was a tragic event.
This is true in all versions except one.
actual quote: "Wendy Pini said I'd created a Krypton that deserved to blow up." - John Byrne

3. Jor-El and Lora were loving parents, the rocket was made for two, the baby and one adult, Jor-el wanted Lora to go with Kal-El to Earth, he was willing to die to save her, she however, couldn't bare to live without him so they decided they would rather die together than live apart, so the baby was sent alone.

That happen in every origin except one.

4. When baby Kal-el arrives on Earth, one of his 1st acts was to save Pa Kents life by lifting that truck, in one of the all time classic scenes. (the movies anyways) Which foreshadows his career as the world's greatest superhero.

That happen in all versions except one.

5. Growing up in Smallville, young Clark learns how to master his powers (sometimes as Superboy sometimes not).

That happen in all versions except one.

6. The Kents taught him never to abuse his powers, ie for Sports, and of course not to kill.

Only in one version was he a football jock, and other than the early few issues of the Golden Age stories which were quickly reconned, did he commit cold blooded murder, then only afterward did he figure out that he should not kill, then he kills again anyway.

7. About the Kents, when one or both of them die he moves to Metropolis.

That happen in all versions except one.

8. "Superman is Superman and Clark Kent is an assumed identity - his facade. The disguise of Clark may be vivid, important, and beloved to Superman - but Kal-El's true nature is that of the Hero. Clark has depth and preferences and structures of belief that grow as he grows older but they are all constructs of Superman's obsession with him. Clark is Superman's hobby and his template for humanity."

That is true in all versions except one.

9. Superman was the 1st Superhero.

This was the case on Earth-1 and Earth-2. Not true for one version.

10. "Superman honors and cherishes the memory of Krypton, not just because all things of beauty should be treasured, but because the values and strengths of Krypton's society are the foundation of Superman's character."

Again true in all version, except one.

11. "Superman is not just some big guy with a lot of powers. He is a shining example of all that is worthwhile in humanity. His morals are also Super. He is an inspirational and aspirational role model"

True, except for one version as Batman pointed out


Spoiler  Wink
What was that version you ask?
The Man of Steel Post-Crisis Bryne version.


Another quiz, this time from the site, this was written in 1997, kept that in mind:

Many people have been trying to put their finger on just what it is about the Iron Age Superman that is "wrong" - they've been theorizing about the changes to Superman's continuity, his history, or his powers. They've basically been trying to figure out just who Superman is. But this question is so easy and the answer so obvious that many people have missed it.

So here is the pop-quiz. Multiple choice:


Question 1

Superman discovers that Lex Luthor is formulating some plot against him. So he confronts Lex and says:



A
"Oh, No! You're tricking everybody! I'll never be able to stop you!" (Grabs Lex by throat) "What are you up to now? You'd better tell me, or so help me, I'll..."



B
"I don't know what scheme you've got going this time, Luthor, but whatever it is - it'll never work." (Hauls Lex off to jail)

Question 2
Superman and Lois head down to the post-office so that he can read his fan mail. When they get there, Superman sees the innumerable sacks of letters and says:

A
"Oh, No! I'll never be able to read all this mail!"

B
(Superman reads all the letters in 2.3 seconds at super-speed, using his X-ray vision so that he doesn't even need to open the envelopes)


For each question, if you answered B, you know who Superman is. If you answered A, you must work for DC Comics. Yes, both of the events in the As are from recent issues and serve to illustrate just how poorly DC understands Superman.
Superman's power level, his changed continuity, and even the new electro-costume are all irrelevent. The Golden Age Superman, the Silver Age Superman, and the Bronze Age Superman are all very different characters with different powers, different continuities, and different costumes - but they are all Superman.

Superman is moral righteousness - knowing what is right and doing it. That's it. He doesn't whine or complain about doing the right thing, he does the right thing because it wouldn't even occur to him to do otherwise.

The Iron Age "Superman" is a killer. This is not the right thing - it is the wrong thing. He complains, is unsure of himself, is pessimistic and ineffectual. He defeats himself before any villain even has a chance to. He is not Superman - Superman makes a difference.

T.M. Maple put it this way: "Superman is not just some big guy with a lot of powers. He should be a shining example of all that is worthwhile in humanity. His morals should be 'super' too."

DC Comics refuses to let real Superman stories be told. Even Scott McCloud, one of the best super-hero writers on the planet, has his hands tied in Superman Adventures.

Elliot S! Maggin has proven that it is possible to write post-Crisis Superman stories that actually have Superman in them. He has done brilliant work in Action Comics #642, Luthor's Gift, and the Kingdom Come Novel.

Mark Waid isn't even allowed anywhere near Superman.

DC doesn't like Superman - they are sitting on a goldmine but refuse to use it. Superman is the greatest hero of all time and today's comic book readers are literally starving for stories about real heroes.

Legends cannot be killed - someday, Superman will return. This web site is keeping him alive for just such a time. Meanwhile, I'll continue to follow the adventures of the white-haired Superman in Supreme and the red-garbed Superman in Astro City.

"Look! Up in the sky!"





Read the whole thread here: http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?p=2314242#post2314242
« Last Edit: October 25, 2006, 01:05:48 AM by Super Monkey » Logged

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davidelliott
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2006, 01:44:06 AM »

Super Monkey...

Amen, my brother... AMEN!!!
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Genis Vell
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2006, 05:49:44 PM »

I'm with Michael Bailey on the post-Crisis Superman. I love the Bronze Age Superman, but I always liked what came later, too. At least, the good stories. Those by Byrne, Loeb, Kelly... I'm a big fan of those runs (MAN OF STEEL will always be my favorite story).
Particulars change, but the basics always are the same. The problem is when the stories are replaced by eventsd and bad ideas... and you have the '90s Superman. Metropolis destroied, young Lex Luthor, the death of Clark Kent... No, thanks.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2006, 09:16:18 AM »

Quote from: Genis Vell
Particulars change, but the basics always are the same. The problem is when the stories are replaced by eventsd and bad ideas... and you have the '90s Superman. Metropolis destroied, young Lex Luthor, the death of Clark Kent... No, thanks.

You know, it's funny, I think the opposite is true: Superman in the 1990s was an improvement over Superman in the mid-to-late 1980s - at least in the sense that the high points were higher.

Roger Stern told space opera stories introducing Maxima, and his magnum opus, "Panic in the Sky," featured an old school Superman that was a breath of fresh air after the very earthbound, Spider-Man lite Wolfman/Byrne tales. Then we had Louise Simonson's Superman stories featuring the incredible Riot (a one-man crime spree).

What originally hooked me into buying the Busiek/Johns book was the promise that Superman would be fighting in space. Roger Stern understood that science fiction and big, STAR WARS-type stories are a part of Superman's identity. "Panic in the Sky" had everything but the kitchen sink: Warworld attacking with an army of space gladiators led by Brainiac, Superman showing panache as a superhero general, Mister Miracle diffusing traps, Billy Batson using the wisdom of Solomon, Ice thinking Superman is the handsomest man she's ever seen, and use of the Superman supporting cast, which was pre-DEATH OF, and didn't have the usual idiots that waste pages in the Super-books like Emil Hamilton (who the hell is that?), and useless, boring wankers like Steel, Gangbuster and Superboy.

In Stern's "Panic," Matrix was a shapechanging alien with protomatter powers instead of being a confused, illegitimate Supergirl. Sorry guys, Loeb's Supergirl is ten times more "Supergirl" than this space blob is - her best stories were when she wasn't TRYING to be Supergirl at all, like Stern's "Panic in the Sky."

I've never liked anything Byrne has done as a writer, and Wolfman joins the illustrious company of writers that don't "get" Superman, whose solution to writing the character is to have him not act smart, or "scale back his powers." The Spectre story was confusing, the Metal Men team-up story shows Byrne's childish obsession with robots not being "real people" (which he first showed by demolishing the Vision in AVENGERS WEST COAST, calling this beloved character "just a toaster"), and the idea that the Metal Men are some sort of plastic polymer so totally undercuts who they are that it's not even funny. There was also the "I don't know what to do with all this fan mail!" moment that shows a truly embarassing lack of understanding of who Superman is, that Great Rao made that a part of this site's questionnaire like, a bajillion years ago.

The only story from the Byrne/Wolfman/Kesel/Helfer years that I really like at all is the Lori Lemaris story that Byrne did with Karl Kesel, and I wondered about this for years and years...until I found a SUPERMAN FAMILY with Silver Age reprints, and found the Kesel story was just about a panel-by-panel REMAKE of the original Lori Lemaris story!

And then there was Superman killling the pocket dimension Phantom Zone inmates at the tail end of the Byrne/Wolfman run.

Boy, this dead horse has been whipped, hasn't it? But nonetheless, I have a couple more things to say on this:

1) It was pretty darn gutless of Superman to kill inmates that had no powers and were completely at his mercy.

2) The pocket universe story wasn't the "odd story out" as many of its defenders say. The whole theme of the Byrne/Wolfman Superman revamp was that "this is not your father's Superman." In other words, it got by on being a deliberate reversal of what we know about Superman, which is why it was so shocking and interesting at the time. So much of what made MAN OF STEEL work was "a-ha, look at Clark Kent being a he-man, pushing Lois out of the way and saving her! Wow, that's surprising!"

Superman killing was just another shock value surprise in a series full of shock-value surprises. It was done because we KNOW "Superman wouldn't do that."

And I don't think that's good enough of a reason to monkey around with something as important as Superman's code against killing.

Sure, the nineties gave us arguably the worst stories in Superman's history, too, with an endless string of vapid villains: Conduit, the Cyborg Superman, La Encantadora....but still, at least it was all done for reasons apart from shock value and "this is NOT your father's Superman!"
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