superman.nuMary Immaculate of Lourdes NewtonHolliston School Committeefacebook    
  •   forum   •   MIRACLE MONDAY: "THE MIRACLE!" •   fortress   •  
Superman Through the Ages! Forum
News: Superman Through the Ages! now located at theAges.superman.nu
 
*
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
May 22, 2024, 04:11:53 PM


Login with username, password and session length


Pages: 1 2 [3] 4   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Are there too many Superman origins?  (Read 17446 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
JulianPerez
Council of Wisdom
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1168



« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2007, 11:21:05 AM »

Quote from: Ruby Spears Superman
Late last year I picked up the Superman Sunday Classics and in it they reprinted an origin story from around 1942-3 that was about two pages long.

I don't agree. Superman doesn't need a simplified non-origin. In fact, the very "simplicity" of the origin in the Gold through Bronze age was its biggest liability, and it was the thoroughness and completeness of BIRTHRIGHT that was its greatest strength.

The biggest problem with Superman's origin, and also with Batman's origin, is that it was always tended to be covered in montages.

I'm sure you can picture the Batman origin montage now: there's always the same three panel sequence of him "training:" one panel with Batman lifting weights, another with him holding up test tubes, and finally one with Bats at a pommel horse (or rarely, set of rings).

If the origin was covered in these montage sequences, then by definition there are going to be "gaps." And if there are gaps then there's the potential to go crazy.

Batman's origin was not harmed in this way, because mostly when we filled in the montage gaps, it was with cute, disposable facts like "Batman trained with Argentinean cattlemen in the use of the bolos."

Superman's origin, though? There were always new things being added or deleted. It was like he had a Wikiorigin.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about: in some versions of the story, Jor-El built the rocketship for both Lara and Kal-El, but Lara refused to leave because she wanted to die with her husband, and the weight would unsteady the craft. Some retellings have this, others don't.

And don't get me started on the "little details" that were forever being added: Jor-El sending a Super-Teacher, or Mon-El's ship landing as Krypton crumbled. One of the most important elements of the origin of Superman, the urgency with which he was sped away, was eventually neutered because it seemed Jor-El had just about all the time in the world, what between sending Mon-El off and building the Super-Teacher and all that.

You're right in comparing this to the Marvel heroes. One of the things I think is most interesting about the House that Stan Built is that every little detail, no matter how old, still counts. We Superman fans regularly forget really colossal things like the fact Heat-Vision wasn't a separate power for DECADES. Or the fact in some issues, gold blocks Kryptonite radiations as well as lead.

Compare that to, for instance, ONE LINE in an early issue of the Stan/Jack X-MEN where Professor X admits in a thought bubble he loves Marvel Girl. Stan wisely never, ever mentioned this again because it made the Professor look like a creepy, creepy letch, and transferred the "secretly in love" angle to Cyclops.

In case you're curious, the explanation later writers would come up with for that fantastically Mopee-ish line is that because Prof. X trained with Marvel Girl and they shared each other's thoughts, he was somewhat possessive and protective, and that "scrambled" him a little until the Prof came to his senses.

But my point here is this: because we saw the day-to-day developments of the X-Men "on camera," because we had a definite "first issue" and start point, something that Superman and Batman both don't have, there's a greater sense that what we see is "honest."

Hell, in the early Daredevil run, the Man Without Fear used gadgets in his cape and cowl, including a microphone inside his baton. These gizmos were abandoned after one issue, but almost every writer after (including Frankie Miller himself) has at least in passing rationalized them away: Matt Murdock eventually discarded them. Even if it was a one-issue phase, it was still a part of the story of Daredevil.

And so we come to the problem with the origin of Superman: whatever is in and out depends on the caprice or whim of the writer. And that's no origin at all.

This is why I liked BIRTHRIGHT very, very much: here was an origin of Superman where everything happened "on camera." There were no gaps that a future obnoxious writer could use to say, "Kal-El, before you left, your father sent out your beloved pet Kangaroo."

In fact, because it was so complete, it isn't necessarily desirable to include little twists like this.

As for there being multiple Superman origins...actually, I like this.

The thing that ticked me off about the Jeph Loeb "Return to Krypton" is that all it did was bring back "classic" Krypton. It didn't show us anything we haven't seen before. BIRTHRIGHT at least, showed us a totally different take on Superman's origin, with totally different elements that were a nice surprise: the idea that Clark Kent travelled the world before becoming Superman, which gives him a global, cosmopolitan perspective instead of being Jeph Loeb's provincial "Super-Forrest Gump."

Quote from: Ruby Spears Superman
How about the All Star universe Superman?

No one knows this. Including, I bet, Morrison.

Sure, there was that two-page thing in the beginning that hand-waived the origin away.

This is a great example of the postmodernist, subliterate assholery that makes me loathe Morrison with every fiber of my being: the ASS origin was a copy, but of something that has no "original." (What would Jean Beaudrillard say?)

Quote from: Ruby Spears Superman
DC is still tip toeing around the issue and I think it's because they are so desperate to get people to approve of it that they are afraid of offending someone if they choose the wrong origin. I think they figure that by the time that his history is revealed, you will like the series so much you won't care if it's not to your specifications.

I think DC has been pretty good with their "have your cake and eat it too" explanations that are intended to please many different kinds of fans. Hal Jordan is a Green Lantern, and so is Kyle Rayner.

If there's ever a time to whip out a new Superman origin, it would be now. People are as exhausted and tired of the Byrne/Wolfman origin now as they were in 1985 with the Wikiorigin. And people aren't willing to commit to BIRTHRIGHT. It went over about as well as an abortion in a Disney cartoon.

Quote from: Gangbuster
Spider-Man, which are considered the best two superhero movies ever made.

For the record I agree with Alex Ross: time will not be kind to the Spider-Man movie in the long-term. The truly good, truly definitive Spider-Man movie has yet to be made.

Quote from: nightwing
I just think it would be refreshing to see some of these overpaid modern "superstar" creators add something significant to the mythos instead of re-telling the oldest story in the book.  Just as it's nice to hear a new joke every now and then, no matter how great the old ones are. 

Awww, c'mon. Waid made some pretty substantial and significant additions to his BIRTHRIGHT origin.

Quote from: Ruby Spears Superman
My question is, should there be one for all time version that has to be universally followed in all forms like there is with the other characters?

Yes, I think there ought to be at least for the comics. I really hope Kurt and Geoff get off their fannies and give us this. If they don't want to use BIRTHRIGHT, fine, but we need something.

This is not to say that there can't be other origins to meet the needs of shows, games, etc. However, one of the greatest advantages of comics is that they are how it all "really" happened.

Of course, there's always some ape like Morrison reminding us all stories are imaginary stories. But this is temporarily putting away an instinct we all have initially: that the comics version is real and definitive.

Cartoons can afford to be vague, but comics are what started it all.

A friend that knows I like adventure comics, asked me if I knew how it all "really" happened with the X-Men (he was a fan only of the movies). Note the assumption implicit in that statement!
Logged

"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
nightwing
Defender of Kandor
Council of Wisdom
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1627


Semper Vigilans


WWW
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2007, 01:06:37 PM »

Julian Perez writes:

Quote
This is why I liked BIRTHRIGHT very, very much: here was an origin of Superman where everything happened "on camera." There were no gaps that a future obnoxious writer could use to say, "Kal-El, before you left, your father sent out your beloved pet Kangaroo."

And yet, from all I've read, BIRTHRIGHT is already being ignored and/or treated as an Elsewords.

This is my big gripe with re-doing origins, especially at DC: no matter how well you might do it, someone a couple years down the line (if that far) will probably be allowed to ignore your work and take a stab at the origin themselves.

IF DC could find someone with the skill to write a "definitive" origin that ties up all the loose ends, IF they were willing to commit to that origin as canon and IF they compelled all future writers to respect and adhere to it, then maybe I'd be willing to read it.  But that's a lot of IFs.  As it stands, BIRTHRIGHT is as much a waste of time as any tweaking Binder, Hamilton, Byrne, Wolfman or Loeb ever did, only to be undone. 

Sorry, but for me every retelling of Superman's origin reads like a "fill-in" issue.  It never moves the mythos forward and more often than not it just creates a lot of headaches for continuity.

I'm getting used to holding the opposite opinion to you on most things Wink, and sure enough you can put me down as a fan of "montage" origins.  In my opinion, every comics origin worth telling can be told in two pages.  And the best characters never have so much historical detritus piled on them that they can't be reduced back to those two pages.  Thus Batman adapts just as well to an Adam West treatment as a Christian Bale treatment, while the X-Men have to jump through all kinds of hoops to be made into a movie, and even then the fanboys gripe about the details.

My preference would be to keep with that little blurb they used to run at the start of Superman stories in the late 70s and 80s: "Rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton as a baby, Superman now fights for truth and justice"...or whatever.  That's all you need; now get on with the story. 

Logged

This looks like a job for...
JulianPerez
Council of Wisdom
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1168



« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2007, 06:47:01 PM »

Quote from: nightwing
I'm getting used to holding the opposite opinion to you on most things , and sure enough you can put me down as a fan of "montage" origins.  In my opinion, every comics origin worth telling can be told in two pages. And the best characters never have so much historical detritus piled on them that they can't be reduced back to those two pages.  Thus Batman adapts just as well to an Adam West treatment as a Christian Bale treatment, while the X-Men have to jump through all kinds of hoops to be made into a movie, and even then the fanboys gripe about the details.

How well something can be made into a movie SHOULDN'T be the barometer for how successful - or how not successful - an origin is.

Some things can't be given a "Reader's Digest" version.

THUNDERBOLTS for instance, one of the greatest triumphs of the 1990s and arguably Kurt Busiek's greatest work, is so dependent on events in the Marvel Universe that there's no way it could exist in any form outside of comics. That's not a positive or negative trait, just an attribute.

And LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES is the sum total of decades; the only way a Legion movie would work is the X-Route: starting in the "middle," with the assumption of all this backstory behind us, and a POV character that brings us into the Legion world.

(Incidentally, it's always baffled me that there have been TWO visual versions of such a hard-to-film book as DUNE.)

There can never be a LOST movie (unless it is an X-FILES style continuation of the series proper) and that's GOOD, because to condense all those twists and turns (and complicated personal backstories) would be doing a disservice to LOST's greatest attribute: how complex it all is.

There are some characters that have "montage" origins that are great, and there are some characters with montage origins that are terrible. There are some characters with complicated life-stories that are terrible (the original Spider-Woman) and some characters with complicated life's stories that are absolutely scene-stealing and terrific (Valkyrie, Hank Pym).
Logged

"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
JulianPerez
Council of Wisdom
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1168



« Reply #19 on: April 11, 2007, 07:19:02 PM »

Quote from: nightwing
My preference would be to keep with that little blurb they used to run at the start of Superman stories in the late 70s and 80s: "Rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton as a baby, Superman now fights for truth and justice"...or whatever.  That's all you need; now get on with the story. 

And if that's all there was - a few sentences and that's it - Superman's "Wikiorigin" would WORK.

Something can succeed by being complex, and something can succeed by being simple, too.

But here's where it becomes a problem: Superman's origin, because it is so vague, becomes adjustable to the needs of the writers, who feel free to add a Super-Pet here or a big brother there, until it isn't a "simple origin" anymore. Details, like Lara's sacrifice - flicker in and and out until it isn't 100% certain exactly WHAT happened.

All in all, the vagaries would not be as helpful as solid details that a foundation can be built on, like the Fantastic Four and Hal Jordan Green Lantern have with THEIR origins.

Strangely enough, the montage origin worked for Batman but not Superman; it's telling that Batman's origin has never been truly rewritten; it's only been "tweaked." And even THEN, the keep details (like what movie Batman's parents were at) pretty solid, which is usually pretty rare. Sure, Batman's origin is a little more plastic, but early variations tend to be dropped instead of perpetuated forever (the idea that Mrs. Wayne was killed by a heart attack instead of a bullet at the death of her husband).

Compare that to Aquaman, whose origin lacks even BASIC features.

I would attribute this to the fact that Superman's origin is (contrary to popular belief) dependent on details. This is why the 1980s recasting of Krypton was so disruptive: Krypton wasn't just a place that blew up, it was a world that had been so solidly developed: the Kryptoniad as the epic poem, the Three-Sisiters Volcanoes, Mt. Mundru being the highest mountain, and all that stuff that gave E. Nelson Bridwell a woody.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2007, 10:45:29 PM by Great Rao » Logged

"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
Uncle Mxy
Superman Squad
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 809



« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2007, 09:06:43 PM »

There are some characters that have "montage" origins that are great, and there are some characters with montage origins that are terrible. There are some characters with complicated life-stories that are terrible (the original Spider-Woman) and some characters with complicated life's stories that are absolutely scene-stealing and terrific (Valkyrie, Hank Pym).
For the most recent horrible complicated origin  that works better as a montage, compare and contrast the recent Iron Man cartoon DVD or Orson Scott Card's Ultimate excrement with Iron Man's historical origin.  Iron Man's origin isn't THAT interesting (especially in a post-Jarvik world, but of course the real inventor of the artificial heart voiced Silvermane in a Spider-Man cartoon Smiley ). 

« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 01:04:22 AM by Uncle Mxy » Logged
carmelo
Superman Emergency Squad
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 84



« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2007, 10:53:50 PM »

e about the details.

My preference would be to keep with that little blurb they used to run at the start of Superman stories in the late 70s and 80s: "Rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton as a baby, Superman now fights for truth and justice"...or whatever.  That's all you need; now get on with the story. 


I agree.  Wink
Logged
Ruby Spears Superman
Superman Family
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 142


« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2007, 02:11:44 AM »

 Birthright was fun, well written, and had pretty good art (I think the coloring was better then the drawings, but I also think that about DS Returns) and would have made a great movie, but I don't feel it added anything to the mythos. the reason why I gave the two page comic strip example is because it covered the basics without getting bogged down in little excess details like Birthright did. Yes, the "Wikiorigin" can get very annoying if your determined to follow every minutia detail in continuity and wanting to get it all accurate (like I tried to do, trust me, it's not possible!). I think it is possible to do a Superman history the way you do Batman, have little snippets out of his life showing him growing up and using his powers to do this, that, or the other, but nothing so significant that it couldn't be left out of a two page montage like Batman has. You want something you can hand to someone who doesn't read every issue going back to 20 years ago and still make them feel like they didn't miss out on something important. You couldn't have that with the "Wikiorigin" and you couldn't do that today.

 My screen name was taken from an old Saturday morning cartoon version of Superman that showed a little snippit after every episode called Superman's Family Album, it showed clips of him using his powers while growing up but nothing so important that you didn't feel like you missed something when the "camera" was turned off. These were not "Superboy" type adventures, just things like his first day of school or him going on a camping trip with the scouts, or him running away from home because he wasn't allowed to use his powers to do chores. If you saw one episode, you got a pretty good idea of what he was like growing up. It could have been summed up in two pages easily. I feel Birthright said a lot but still left some things out about his development. Like what age what powers developed and so on. If you want your audience to interpret continuity correctly, these are the things you need to establish early on. This is a trend that Superman has gotten away from recently.
Logged
Permanus
Superman Squad
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 875



« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2007, 08:08:46 AM »

http://ape-law.com/GAF/pages/the-five-other-identities-of-superman.shtml?
Logged

Between the revolution and the firing-squad, there is always time for a glass of champagne.
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

CURRENT FORUM

Archives: OLD FORUM  -  DCMB  -  KAL-L
Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines

Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS! Dilber MC Theme by HarzeM
Entrance ·  Origin ·  K-Metal ·  The Living Legend ·  About the Comics ·  Novels ·  Encyclopaedia ·  The Screen ·  Costumes ·  Read Comics Online ·  Trophy Room ·  Creators ·  ES!M ·  Fans ·  Multimedia ·  Community ·  Supply Depot ·  Gift Shop ·  Guest Book ·  Contact & Credits ·  Links ·  Coming Attractions ·  Free E-mail ·  Forum

Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
The LIVING LEGENDS of SUPERMAN! Adventures of Superman Volume 1!
Return to SUPERMAN THROUGH THE AGES!
The Complete Supply Depot for all your Superman needs!