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Author Topic: Viewpoint: A Generational Perspective on the Iron Age Superman...  (Read 26877 times)
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2006, 04:45:50 PM »

I don't think that current readers truly understand just how much DC HATED the classic Superman, while at the same time how much people still loved the classic Superman.

The main reason why the Death of Superman story sold so well was because many people who hadn't read a Superman comic in a long time thought that DC was going to kill the classic Superman, once they figured out that the classic Superman was long gone, sales drop big time and only the actual Iron Age Fans kept buying the comics just like they always were.

DC refuse to reprint ANYTHING from the classic age other that the TGSSET TPB. The main editor called in to radio shows when people were discussing the classic Superman and tell them that that "corny" and "lame" Superman was dead and the current version was hip and cool and modern.

This was the main reason why this site was created. Because the classic Superman was all but forgotten and DC wanted nothing to do with him.

The Iron Age Superman was everything that the real Superman wasn't, so different in fact that he wasn't really Superman but just another modern superhero with the same name wearing the same costume. That was the way DC wanted him! DC designed him that way on purpose! That's not an opinion, that is a fact.

Of course, some sneaky writers managed to sneak in some classic goodness into the clone: Grant Morrison in JLA, Superman for all Seasons, and a few odd moments here and there.

Sure, some token classic elements were brought back, after the trades of the classic Superman sold so well, but they all had very little in common with the real versions other than name.

There were some trail runs but I think that the OYL-Superman (One Year Later Superman) in the legit start of some thing new. What happen before was more like what the 1950's Superman was, not really Golden Age but not yet Silver Age. The current OYL-Superman is a step in the right direction, while he isn't the pre-crisis Superman at least he is not like the dreaded Iron Age clone. Instead, he is something new, worthy of the name, but still very modern.

Once again, this is not an opinion, since that is just what DC is trying to do now.


 
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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2006, 05:45:16 PM »

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The main reason why the Death of Superman story sold so well was because many people who hadn't read a Superman comic in a long time thought that DC was going to kill the classic Superman, once they figured out that the classic Superman was long gone, sales drop big time and only the actual Iron Age Fans kept buying the comics just like they always were.

Actually I had a slightly different take on that affair.

I agree the book sold well because people thought DC was killing the "real" Superman, the Superman they knew from old comics, TV, movies, etc.  But I think the reason sales didn't stay high was because DC's publicity unit did their work too well.  They convinced the world that Superman was dead and that was the end of that, for most folks.  They never picked up a comic again, and no other sales event captured headlines and air time the way that one did.

Thus, to this day, I run into people who are surprised to hear Superman comics are still being published.  Personally, I think it's hilarious.  Even when DC succeeds, they fail.

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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2006, 01:00:27 AM »

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The main reason why the Death of Superman story sold so well was because many people who hadn't read a Superman comic in a long time thought that DC was going to kill the classic Superman, once they figured out that the classic Superman was long gone, sales drop big time and only the actual Iron Age Fans kept buying the comics just like they always were.

Actually I had a slightly different take on that affair.

I agree the book sold well because people thought DC was killing the "real" Superman, the Superman they knew from old comics, TV, movies, etc.  But I think the reason sales didn't stay high was because DC's publicity unit did their work too well.  They convinced the world that Superman was dead and that was the end of that, for most folks.  They never picked up a comic again, and no other sales event captured headlines and air time the way that one did.

Thus, to this day, I run into people who are surprised to hear Superman comics are still being published.  Personally, I think it's hilarious.  Even when DC succeeds, they fail.



I am sure that that played a part in it as well. Also the fact that the comics were really bad didn't help matters much. Mullet Superman didn't really set the word on fire, nor did Electric Superman, bringing back the deformed retarded grey Hulk clone or the other endless marketing gimmicks to try to recreate the sales of Death.

After the teams that were on the books left or got fired, DC created a new policy that no famous writers or artists were allowed to write or draw Superman anymore. The idea behind this was that they wanted a fresh take on stale Iron Age Superman and they knew that Iron Age Superman fans were loyal and dumb enough to buy any old crap with the name Superman on it no matter who was on the book or how much it stank. The result was some of the worst art ever for a Superman book where you couldn't even tell who was who and most boring stories ever written.

This went on for years, until DC finally drop this policy and put superstar artist Jim Lee on a Superman book
with Mr. I love to drag story lines as much as humanly possible in order to bore readers so much that they will never want to pick up an other superhero comic again, Brian Azzarello. I believe he had a bet going with Jeph Loeb to see who could created the worst Jim Lee comic ever, shockingly Frank Miller won.

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« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2006, 06:24:18 AM »

Quote from: nightwing
I think the acrimony is a relatively new phenomenon.  Did Golden Age fans kick and scream when the Silver Age version added all the Wiesingerian baggage?  Did the Silver Age fans pitch a fit when Julie scaled back Morty's superverse?  Maybe a little, but not so loudly and not with the soapbox the Internet's provided to every shrill malcontent in the universe.

I've got to disagree with you on this one, Nightwing. Fan acrimony and "fan complaining" is not a thing that is a product of the internet age, nor is it a product of the way we communicate on the internet (anonymity, the "echo chamber," etc.). It's not new, and even back in the day there was tons of angry whining.

Reading some comics letters pages from the 1960s is a very, very eye-opening experience for me.

In order to answer a question TELLE asked in the Other Superfriends forum about Stan Lee's AVENGERS lettercolumns, I visited a friend of mine that's an antique and first edition novel, book and pulp magazine dealer. He also has nearly a complete run of just about every single Marvel comic, and is otherwise an awesome cat to hang around, that I use any excuse to visit him and his wife.

Anyway, anyone that thinks that people being upset by a controversial or unusual decision (and talk about it loudly and shrilly) needs to read the lettercolumns for the 1960s AVENGERS issues, for the issues when Stan Lee reorganized the membership of the Avengers from being Captain America, Giant-Man and the Wasp, Iron Man, and Thor, and replaced them with Captain America and three former super-villains (Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye).

Man, in that letters page, those guys used emotions and invectives that would make the angriest and most illiterate internet goon look like a piker. "Do you think you can apply 'the Avengers' name to just about any team you like?" Is just an example of the sort of things they said.

It was a weird experience - like reading Newsarama or the CBR forums 30 years early.

The only reason we don't see people pitch fits about things that happened a million years ago in comics is not because of the invention of the internet, or the idea the internet has somehow lowered our dialogue, but because as comics are such a transitory medium, people just plain forget, or things move by so quickly that nobody has a problem. The reason I used AVENGERS #16 as an example is because it's a little ridiculous (with 20/20 hindsight) for these guys to throw a big stink about Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch - people that have been dedicated and great Avengers for decades!

On the other hand, I've seen people get into barfights and lose teeth in arguments over Sean Connery and Roger Moore, a changeover which happened quite some time AFTER AVENGERS #16! The reason is that you can still see Bond movies, on cable or on DVD. On the other hand, it's harder to read back issues, especially of less popular magazines; not everything's going to get an ESSENTIAL or SHOWCASE.

Quote from: SuperMonkey
I don't think that current readers truly understand just how much DC HATED the classic Superman, while at the same time how much people still loved the classic Superman.

I said above that part of the reason that any new version of Superman is going to resemble the versions prior to the Byrne/Helfer/Carlin Superman version than the one written by those guys, is that in many ways the reboot was "this is not your father's Superman." The MAN OF STEEL Superman was based on being a deliberate reversal of what was done previously.

But how many people "love" the classic Superman? Look, MAN OF STEEL pissed me off, but Superman was exhausted and in phenomenally dire straits from 1978-1985 (at least in terms of sales; some writers were doing some interesting stuff). Any other character would have long since been canceled, but Superman was allowed to put-put around because of his role as a flagship character.

People tried everything. They first tried replacing the artists: there are rumors they tried to attract John Buscema away from Marvel, but they settled on the incredible Garcia-Lopez and Ross Andru (just back from Marvel). They tried to get "cool" Marvel guys to do the writing, like Len Wein, Gerry Conway, and Marv Wolfman. They tried a brief return to the Weisenger age, with multiple stories in a single issue...

...in the end a reboot was necessary because Superman was embarassingly tired.

Maybe Byrne and Wolfman weren't the right men for the job. Maybe they shouldn't have caved in when Byrne wanted Andy Helfer to be his editor-cum-yes-man. But if there was some antagonism at that point towards Superman pre-1986, it is to an extent, understandable. Carlin and Helfer and the rest didn't create the situation Superman was in, circa the mid-eighties; they inherited it.

My comic book owner was telling me a story that circa 1981, he was selling 800 copies of UNCANNY X-MEN per month. How many copies of SUPERMAN was he selling?

Ten.

Quote from: SuperMonkey
Of course, some sneaky writers managed to sneak in some classic goodness into the clone: Grant Morrison in JLA, Superman for all Seasons, and a few odd moments here and there.

No props for Roger Stern's space opera and old school panache?
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2006, 06:48:24 AM »

JulianPerez:

Quote
I've got to disagree with you on this one, Nightwing. Fan acrimony and "fan complaining" is not a thing that is a product of the internet age, nor is it a product of the way we communicate on the internet (anonymity, the "echo chamber," etc.). It's not new, and even back in the day there was tons of angry whining.

Reading some comics letters pages from the 1960s is a very, very eye-opening experience for me.

In order to answer a question TELLE asked in the Other Superfriends forum about Stan Lee's AVENGERS lettercolumns, I visited a friend of mine that's an antique and first edition novel, book and pulp magazine dealer. He also has nearly a complete run of just about every single Marvel comic, and is otherwise an awesome cat to hang around, that I use any excuse to visit him and his wife.

Anyway, anyone that thinks that people being upset by a controversial or unusual decision (and talk about it loudly and shrilly) needs to read the lettercolumns for the 1960s AVENGERS issues, for the issues when Stan Lee reorganized the membership of the Avengers from being Captain America, Giant-Man and the Wasp, Iron Man, and Thor, and replaced them with Captain America and three former super-villains (Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Hawkeye).

Man, in that letters page, those guys used emotions and invectives that would make the angriest and most illiterate internet goon look like a piker. "Do you think you can apply 'the Avengers' name to just about any team you like?" Is just an example of the sort of things they said.

It was a weird experience - like reading Newsarama or the CBR forums 30 years early.

An interesting post, Julian. I would just like to add that the situation now (as I see it) is somewhat different (but not entirely different). I am not disagreeing with you; just throwing my two cents in, that now you have a situation in which anybody and his dog can have an opinion and publish it (Yours Truly is guilty as charged), whereas in the old days all of the letters were read by an editor or assistant editor, judged worthy or unworthy in some way, and then published or not published according to (A) the letter's merits, and (B) the mood of the editor in question. (In my defence, I have had letters to the editor published in comics pre-Internet.)

Quote
They tried to get "cool" Marvel guys to do the writing, like Len Wein, Gerry Conway, and Marv Wolfman.

A very quick word about Len Wein. Although I like Marv Wolfman and Gerry Conway, since I was a kid I have really enjoyed Len Wein's writing for DC, Superman being no exception. Some of my favorite Superman comics are Len's.
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« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2006, 05:18:14 PM »

Aldous writes:

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An interesting post, Julian. I would just like to add that the situation now (as I see it) is somewhat different (but not entirely different). I am not disagreeing with you; just throwing my two cents in, that now you have a situation in which anybody and his dog can have an opinion and publish it (Yours Truly is guilty as charged), whereas in the old days all of the letters were read by an editor or assistant editor, judged worthy or unworthy in some way, and then published or not published according to (A) the letter's merits, and (B) the mood of the editor in question. (In my defence, I have had letters to the editor published in comics pre-Internet.)

Yes, but isn't it interesting to see which letters did see print?  If you go back to the 60s and 70s, a letter writer with a negative opinion about a story was just as likely to see print as one who liked the tale...provided they could assemble a well-worded and intelligent missive.  Sometimes it's amazing to read some of those letters which, as Julian says, tear into the editors and writers mercilessly.  In some cases, the editor doesn't respond, in other cases he may offer a defense, but either way, he printed the letter and that speaks volumes.

By the 90s the lettercols had degenerated into mindless suck-up sessions where everything printed gushed praise, deserved or not.  Was this because editors had developed a thinner skin and tossed the negative letters in the trash?  Or because the people still reading comics by that point were no longer the discerning type, just zombie fanboys? Or perhaps because the REAL debates, the most interesting discussions had already moved to listserves, usenet and the web, where feedback could be more immediate and putting in your two cents didn't cost you another 33 cents in postage?

Anyway, Julian, I appreciate your perspective and of course you're right that the most devoted comics fans have always been prone to heated rhetoric.  But I would argue it's worse now because (1) the internet makes it easier to split off into "camps" of opposing fans that can yell at each other, not just an editor, (2) the immediacy of the 'net also means the battle of words can escalate quickly, passionately and with no editor to moderate the exchange or enfore civility and (3) the audience for comics is no longer as broad-based and diverse as it once was, being composed now almost entirely of "hard-core" fans.  Where before you had people who might have only a casual interest in the books, or be "just passing through," these days I think the folks still reading comics are the kind of intense, obsessed fanatics who used to account for a lot smaller segment of the total audience.  In other words, these days if you don't take comics really seriously and have a lot of deeply-felt opinions about and personal history with them, you're probably not reading them anyway.

Quote
Man, in that letters page, those guys used emotions and invectives that would make the angriest and most illiterate internet goon look like a piker. "Do you think you can apply 'the Avengers' name to just about any team you like?" Is just an example of the sort of things they said.

Well, with due respect to Clint, Wanda and Pietro, who as you say have a long and valorous history with the Avengers, you have to admit that team was a MAJOR come-down from the likes of Iron Man, Thor and even Giant-Man.  Even that early on, the Avengers were supposed to be the "heavy hitters" of the Marvelverse, and giving the name to this collection of lightweights was quite a shocker.  In fact, though I suspect you'll disagree with me, I think it's on par with reforming the Justice League with the likes of Vibe, Vixen and Gypsy.  When you pay for (and in those days, subscribe to) a book about one thing, you're likely to be ticked off when it suddenly becomes a book about something else altogether.

Quote
On the other hand, I've seen people get into barfights and lose teeth in arguments over Sean Connery and Roger Moore, a changeover which happened quite some time AFTER AVENGERS #16! The reason is that you can still see Bond movies, on cable or on DVD. On the other hand, it's harder to read back issues, especially of less popular magazines; not everything's going to get an ESSENTIAL or SHOWCASE.

You mean to say people have actually come to blows defending Roger against Sean?  Good for them!  I love Roger as much as anybody, but I don't think even I would take it that far.

Quote
People tried everything. They first tried replacing the artists: there are rumors they tried to attract John Buscema away from Marvel, but they settled on the incredible Garcia-Lopez and Ross Andru (just back from Marvel). They tried to get "cool" Marvel guys to do the writing, like Len Wein, Gerry Conway, and Marv Wolfman. They tried a brief return to the Weisenger age, with multiple stories in a single issue...

No, they didn't try everything.  They didn't try moving Julie to another book and letting a new editor try his hand.  They didn't try moving Curt Swan to another book and making Garcia-Lopez (or Perez, or Dave Gibbons, or some other young gun) the main artist.  And lord knows whoever was in charge of covers was asleep at the switch...it's hard to imagine any covers that were less enticing than those 80s creations by Buckler, Andru and the like.

You can put whatever "cool" Marvel writer you want on the stories, but in order for that to make a difference, somebody has to actually READ the story.  That's not going to happen if the cover is too boring to pick the book up and thumb through it, or if, upon doing so, the pictures inside look the same as they did five, ten, twenty years before.

Anyone who knows my history here knows I adore Curt Swan and Julie Schwartz, but honestly if DC dropped the ball anywhere it was in keeping these guys on the books out of loyalty or tradition or whatever long after they lost their sales appeal.  They should have been allowed to do other things instead.  Look at that great fill-in issue of Teen Titans (was it #4?) and tell me Curt Swan couldn't still make magic when presented with a challenge.  For their own good as well as Superman's, there should have been a shake-up in personnel about 1981 or so, maybe earlier.

Was Supes in a rut circa 1985?  Sure.  Did DC "try everything" to fix it?  Not even close.

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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2006, 10:49:06 AM »

My 2 cents:

1) I don't think that this new post-post-Crisis Superman is for new readers... Because I don't think that there is a new generation of readers, in this moment.

2) I don't think that DC editors and authors hated the classic Superman. John Byrne, believe it or not, is a huge fan of the character. And so Stern and other writers. The big problem with the one you call "Iron Age Superman", for me, was that DC produced his stories in the wrong way. Superman must be an accessible reading. A comic book for everyone who wants a comic book.
Look at what they're doing in the '90s, instead: events over events, bad ideas, unaccessible stories. If you wanted to follow the Man of Steel, you were forced to buy 4 titles a month. 4! In Italy we were lucky, because all the Superman stuff was published in one single comic book, but I suppose that for you Americans it was a nightmare.

3) (Hey, I had another cent in my pocket) I love the Bronze Age Superman. That's the way I like the character, alongside the Byrne and Loeb versions. I have collected most of the stories released in 1975/86 and rarely I find bad ones. Maybe the only complain I have about the reboot is that it interrupted that age. I always wondered how Superman could be if Byrne had written him without a reboot.
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« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2006, 12:29:59 PM »

In retrospect, it looks like Byrne was the long-delayed introduction of a "young gun" to Superman.  Unfortunately it happened post-Crisis and long after Byrne had entered into his superstar/retcon/dictator mode, leading to a diminished shared universe and poor editorial/creative decisions on DC & Byrne's part.  I agree that the visual look of the 80s Superman comics was lacklustre and, as a non-Superman reader who enjoyed the FF and Teen Titans (2 graphically interesting titles that were essentially rejuvenated older franchises) the idea of getting Byrne to revamp Superman initially appealed to me back then.

I think that Byrne created/designed a few things that were visually interesting as late as his run on FF but most of what he introduced into the monthly run of Superman comics (apart from the odd Jack Kirby characters who guest-starred in Action/Legends --designs that are hard to screw up but impossible to master) went down the wrong design road.  Too much of the emaciated patented Byrne figures, black suits, 80s big hair, and totally unimaginative, visually dull, violent villains.  I tired of this after a few issues and now look back on that stuff as just ugly, frustrating, and insulting.

Of course, the Alan Moore Whatever Happened to.. issues, with dynamic Swan covers and a great story, indicate that the old formula still had lots of strength to it.  But could it have been sustained for longer than 2 issues?  Maybe Julie was the big problem.  Who knows?

1986 was really pre-internet and the hub-bub about man of steel and crisis was huge in the fan press.  It was harder to see it expressed in letters pages because A) many books were being revamped and B) DC had put alot of time and money into the revamps and publishing critical comments would undermine that effort.  Just a thought.

(Julian, really sounds like you went to alot of trouble about that Avengers info --you are a true fan and a scholar!)



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