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Author Topic: Are there too many Superman origins?  (Read 17448 times)
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« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2007, 02:19:42 PM »

Julian Perez writes:

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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).

Even Batman's origin has been too mucked about with in recent years.  From his debut through the mid-80s it was enough to know "his parents were killed in front of him, he vowed revenge, he trained himself in all disciplines and now he dresses as a bat."  Period.  It's only been in the last 15 years or so that writers have felt compelled to "fill in the blanks" and follow Bruce through his years of training and whatnot, and in my view this really detracts from the character.  Batman works better with a certain air of mystery about him, and it was always fun in the past to have some tiny tidbit parcelled out to us about Bruce's past.  That gets harder to do when every moment of his training is tracked and documented.  It's not quite as bad as giving an "origin" to Wolverine, but almost.

I think the reason Batman's "montage origin" worked for so long is that what mattered about him was the here and now...what case is he on at the moment and how is going to solve it.  We know he's a detective, and he's human; all we need to be reminded of every now and then is why the outfit?  Superman, on the other hand, requires constant explaining.  Why does he have these unearthly powers? How is he able to do what he does?  Anyone from the Joker to a simple gangster is a potential threat to Batman...have the villain pull a gun and voila, you've got a tense moment.  On the other hand a Superman writer has to go to great lengths to create a threat for Big Blue.  "Well you see there's this radioactive rock that can kill him.  Why?  Well, you see he comes from another planet..." The need for challenging foes leads to flame dragons from Krypton, escaped criminals from the Phantom Zone, rays duplicating those of a red sun, and so on.  It gets to the point where every issue you have to refer to Superman's place of birth just to create a menace to the guy.

In other words, Superman can never escape his origin because it totally defines the strip.  Every power, every weakness and most enemies either hail from Krypton or exploit a knowledge of it.

Where it gets messy, though, is when writers decide they want to tell a story that won't work in the Superverse as is, so they go back and rewrite the origin to suit their needs.  This could be as simple as Binder, Seigel or Hamilton giving us a Krypto, Lyla Lerrol or Kandor, or as sweeping and jarring as Byrne making Krypton into a festering pit of despair, then Loeb saying, "No wait it was a scientific paradise" and Waid saying, "Well it looked a little like this one and a little like that one."  Sometimes these tweaks pay off, but more often it just comes off as sloppy storytelling, the same way it does when a joketeller says, "Oh did I mention there was a nun in the bar?  Because that's kind of important.  Yeah, there was a nun.  So anyway, the horse says..."


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« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2007, 03:15:58 PM »

sometimes less is more.

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« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2007, 03:40:23 PM »

The sloppiest part of Superman's origin is the first thing that he does after becoming Superman. Krypton always blows up. There are always other Kryptonians who survive. The Kents always die (eventually.) And Clark always does super things before becoming Superman, whether wearing the costume or not. His origin AS SUPERMAN is the messiest.

Action Comics #1 says that he saved Evelyn Curry from execution first. Or did he catch Lois in a space-plane? A regular plane? A helicopter? Or did he stop Luthor first?

I don't think that more rewrites are needed to correct this disparity...I just think that DC should choose a particular origin and stick with it. After that, the story can be reprinted, but not changed. We've had several rewrites in the last year already.

Another thing to consider is that we are now living in an age in which most people have never read a Superman origin. The most popular origin of Superman, by far, is the movie origin. It wouldn't hurt DC at all to just choose that one. (Though for my money, the 1973 origin is the most developed, and my favorite.)
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« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2007, 05:30:19 AM »

Another thing to consider is that we are now living in an age in which most people have never read a Superman origin. The most popular origin of Superman, by far, is the movie origin. It wouldn't hurt DC at all to just choose that one.

Aside from giving Marlon Brando a beard, it's looking like that's exactly what DC is doing.  Perhaps that's why they're not printing a new origin.

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« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2007, 05:49:27 AM »

Honestly, I hope they wait a couple of years until the new era is more set in stone before they do yet another origin. A glimpse here, a glimpse there, but nothing more.

That, and ignore the dreck over in Supergirl.
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« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2007, 07:00:56 AM »

I hate to be a "fence-sitter," but whether Superman's origin is told in montages or in a story dedicated to it doesn't matter much to me. As long as the origin allows future writers the ability to add to the mythos, without undue restrictions, then I'm perfectly happy. These restrictions are bad because writers have to create convoluted backstories to justify or reintroduce characters. That's why we had Matrix-Supergirl, the pocket universe Superboy, and so on. If Byrne had created a more open origin then these concepts wouldn't have felt so forced and needlessly complicated.
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