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Author Topic: Superman = Namor?  (Read 12606 times)
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Permanus
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2007, 10:42:24 AM »

Well, I mean that in the superhero genre, the reader's frustrations with everyday life are dealt with by the fantasy that he or she is endowed with great power, and uses it to shape the world to his or her advantage. You know the sort of thing: "My boss wouldn't shout at me if I had Superman's powers". I think it's an essentially fascist trait (and I use the word in its broadest sense) because it holds within it the concept that might makes right, and is perforce self-justifying and unreasoning: I am frustrated with the world, and I want the power to submit it to my desires.

I'm not talking about the way comics are actually written, of course, just how we, the readers, respond to the archetype of the superhero. It tickles our id. That doesn't make all comics readers fascists, of course - I just mean that all people have those impulses in them. Sorry if I'm making a hash of this explanation, I'm doing the best I can.  Undecided
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2007, 01:12:23 PM »

Quote from: Criadoman
I didn't quite get Supes as "alien-looking" per se.  What I found most compelling about Lois' death at the hands of Joker, was that Supes was denied the right to justice.  Consider if you will that Superman's entire life as a hero was to stand up for truth and justice.  With any criminal taken into custody - Superman would expect they be faced with justice to the fullest extent.  Naive - yes, but that is, IMO the charm of Superman.  He "chooses" to impose certain rules on himself.  He doesn't have to, he chooses to.  An infinitely powerful, almost god-like character - who chooses to impose certain morals on himself to live amongst the human race.  That is greatness.  However, this was a case of a personal affront the likes of which as far as we could tell he never experienced.  Therefore, Magog, already a disciple of "giving as good as one gets" basically took away Superman's chance for justice - for himself.  Resultantly, Superman's necessary failing for the beginning of the story - how can he provide justice for all when he was utterly incapable of providing justice to himself?

A good surmise, but the problem is all of this is happening offscreen.

I haven't read the KINGDOM COME novel, but I almost guarantee it will have Superman's response to the death of Lois Lane make some kind of sense.

The biggest mistake Waid made in KINGDOM COME (besides the general humorlessness and lack of warmth - it feels like STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE for DC Comics, trying to be Big and Important without making us remember why we like these characters in the first place) is that Waid told the death of Lois from the point of view of Magog, and so we're denied Superman's inner mental state. All we see is that Superman put Magog on trial for murder. Worse, from what we SAW, there's a sense it was all done not because it was the Joker, but just because it was a murder. It could have been of anyone. Which is a downright alien way to behave and think.

Magog says he thinks Superman is old fashoined and a little nuts. And really, the way the scene was presented...it's hard to disagree with him. You can't just treat something with that much personal involvement as just another crime.

Quote from: Criadoman
When is it OK for Superman to kill?  This is a pretty interesting concept to consider.  Well, in view that his killing Doomsday was nowhere nearly as criticized as his killing the Zoners - obviously we seem to be OK with his killing in defense of others.  It was missed as a point 'cause obviously Superman died too, but the fact remains he was completely resolved to use lethal force and did.  One could grant him "just cause" and that would be the end of it, and seems to be the case here.

You know, this reminds me of the controversy in the NEW TEEN TITANS letters pages about whether it was right for the Titans to use lethal force against Gordanians and the Citadel during the first Blackfire story arc. Marv Wolfman's response was something along the lines of, "Well, it is a war, and so the usual rules of conduct don't apply."

Thus, the whole "it's in space, so it doesn't really count" argument was born! Cheesy I mean, that's like the ultimate loophole. Apparently, outer space is a little like Vegas: what happens in outer space stays in outer space.

Seriously though. I absolutely think under the right set of circumstances Superman will kill and it would be moral of him to do so.

The problem is, such a situation will only exist if the writer creates it, and this leads to a bigger question: yes, it must happen sometime...but do I really want to read about it?

Consider: at some point, Tarzan must have had sex with an ape. I mean, it MUST have happened. He lived with them well past puberty. And JUNGLE TALES OF TARZAN had one flashback story where Tarzan tried to woo a female ape. That story, incidentally, was a little like reading the diaries from Se7en, in that it pretends to be a perfectly normal document but actually is unbelievably deranged.

Would anyone really want to read about that, though? (Well, maybe Howard Lovecraft.)

Quote from: Aldous
Any deviation from his view of how the world should be, and especially how he believes others should act, sends him into paroxysms of rage and desperation.

Oh, come on, you're making Namor sound like a petulant child. Namor can take bad news: Sue Storm said no, and he was able to take no for an answer. In fact, the reason Namor pursues Sue is not because she doesn't want it, but because she DOES.

In fact, Namor's acceptance of the fact he gave Doctor Doom his word to serve him in SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP was downright quiet, internal, philosophical. "I have lived a very long time...I have little regrets. But I do not wish to be Doctor Doom's slave."

Yes, Namor doesn't take crap. You don't put chains on Namor (as a few sorry suckers discovered in DAREDEVIL #7), though this is less of a function of insecurity as it is Namor's fundamental dignity. "I go before your judge...but NEVER in CHAINS!"
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« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2007, 02:20:56 PM »

Magog says he thinks Superman is old fashoined and a little nuts. And really, the way the scene was presented...it's hard to disagree with him. You can't just treat something with that much personal involvement as just another crime.

Yeah, but just to elaborate, my reading of that is that Magog is criticising Superman for being oldschool and not part of what one might term "the new world". But then, isn't Magog conveniently forgetting that he's one of the begetters of this new world, and in fact dissing Superman for not coming to his party? Of course, on a visceral level, you want Superman to fry the Joker with his heat vision, and slowly too; however, it isn't beyond human ken to imagine that he would simply bring him in. By bringing Lois' killer to justice, Superman's just doing it by the book, regardless of personal involvement, which is something policemen and legislators have to do all the time (if you want a real-life example, my girlfriend's brother is a policeman, and a couple of years ago, he had to arrest their nephew, but then got relieved from the case because of the conflict of interests; all very embarrassing). Magog thinks Superman's nuts, and Superman thinks Magog is irresponsible - in fact, it's a clash of generations.
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« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2007, 12:06:19 AM »

While Namor is one of my very favorite Marvel characters, he really bears little resemblance personality-wise to a superhero (much less a Superman). Noamor is more like a warrior king like Kull or the afore-mentioned Elric. In fact, comparisons between Subby and Elric are pretty interesting. Both have bizarre appearances that set them apart from their subjects; both possess powers far beyond their ordinary people (Elric's sword and sorcerous skills, Namors strength, flight and amphibiousness); both men have lost their loved ones to their respective nemeses, and both have largely brought chaos, strife, and ruin to their own peoples. Personality-wise both men are noble, yet highly cynical. Both men have impetuous natures and pretty vicious tempers.

As an aside, in the Justice League animated series Aquaman 2-parter, I felt that Arthur's personality was very Namorian.
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« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2007, 11:06:29 AM »

Welcome to the forums, Amazo!

Quote from: AMAZO
As an aside, in the Justice League animated series Aquaman 2-parter, I felt that Arthur's personality was very Namorian.

Yeah, that's true, isn't it?

Aquaman has been changed a great deal to be much more like Namor. For instance, Aquaman didn't have superstrength in the beginning. And there have been occasions where Namor has demonstrated powers far more Aquaman's style, like commanding sea creatures (especially when written by Golden Age lover and Aqua-Fan, Roy Thomas).

Aquaman's been written, post-TIME AND TIDE, as a character with a temper, just like Namor. This leads to Morrison's characterization in JLA, easily the most swaggering version of Aquaman ever.

Quote from: AMAZO
In fact, comparisons between Subby and Elric are pretty interesting. Both have bizarre appearances that set them apart from their subjects; both possess powers far beyond their ordinary people (Elric's sword and sorcerous skills, Namors strength, flight and amphibiousness);

Interesting comparison.

Though I don't know if Elric has a temper as such - that's almost too human a character trait for him to have. It's more along the lines of an ability to HATE far, far more deeply than a human being.

Elric's berserk battle frenzies are less fueled by rage and anger as Namor's, and more by the memory of his Melnibonean ancestors: a kind of perfect, pure evil untainted by ordinary earthly motives. Because Elric has something like a conscience, obviously he finds these fits deeply disturbing.

That's one theme inherent in Moorcock and the Eternal Champion that I've always loved: the idea that the battle of good vs. evil is fought between a brutish, thuggish evil of the present that worships force, against an older, more flawless evil of the past that laughs at the upstarts. The best example of this is in THE DREAMTHIEF'S DAUGHTER, where Von Bek leads a horde of dragons to fight the Nazis in the Battle of Britain.

BLOOD! BLOOD AND SOULS...FOR ARIOOOOCH!

Quote from: AMAZO
and both have largely brought chaos, strife, and ruin to their own peoples.

If this is about the nerve gas putting the Atlanteans to sleep back in his first magazine, I would hardly say that was Namor's fault...at least to the extent it is for Elric, who led a fleet to attack his own people.

Here I think, we come to the main difference between Namor and Elric: Elric and Namor are both kings, and both outcasts among their own kind, but Namor takes to the role of monarch, whereas Elric feels estranged, only invokes his kingship when he wants a favor from Dvyim Tvar or Dvyim Slorm, and when he WAS Emperor, he was clearly confined and dissatisfied.

Quote from: AMAZO
Namor is more like a warrior king like Kull or the afore-mentioned Elric.

Interesting you should mention Howard, because there's a paragraph from "Worms of the Earth" that can very much have been said by Namor if you change the words around.

This day I stood still and watched a man of mine die on the cross of Rome. What his name or his rank I do not know. I do not care. He might have been a faithful unknown warrior of mine, he mgiht have been an outlaw. I only know that he was mine; the first scents he knew were the scents of the heather; the first light he saw was the sunrise on the Pictish Hills. He belonged to me, not to Rome. If punishment was just, then none but me should have dealt it. If he were to be tried, none but me should have been his judge. The same blood flowed in our veins; the same fire maddened our brains; in infancy we listened to the same old tales, and in youth we sang the same old songs. He was bound to my heart-strings, as every woman and every child of Pictland is bound. It was ine to protect him, now it is mine to avenge him.
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2007, 04:45:44 AM »

Quote from: Criadoman
I didn't quite get Supes as "alien-looking" per se.  What I found most compelling about Lois' death at the hands of Joker, was that Supes was denied the right to justice.  Consider if you will that Superman's entire life as a hero was to stand up for truth and justice.  With any criminal taken into custody - Superman would expect they be faced with justice to the fullest extent.  Naive - yes, but that is, IMO the charm of Superman.  He "chooses" to impose certain rules on himself.  He doesn't have to, he chooses to.  An infinitely powerful, almost god-like character - who chooses to impose certain morals on himself to live amongst the human race.  That is greatness.  However, this was a case of a personal affront the likes of which as far as we could tell he never experienced.  Therefore, Magog, already a disciple of "giving as good as one gets" basically took away Superman's chance for justice - for himself.  Resultantly, Superman's necessary failing for the beginning of the story - how can he provide justice for all when he was utterly incapable of providing justice to himself?

A good surmise, but the problem is all of this is happening offscreen.

Yup.  You're right.  Funny that I recall at the time reading the story that things were taken a bit brief there, but I was OK with that and gave Waid and Ross the benefit due to how distantly numb Superman looked when Diana mentioned it.  It was rather touching, and hard not to imagine the above.

Seriously though. I absolutely think under the right set of circumstances Superman will kill and it would be moral of him to do so.

The problem is, such a situation will only exist if the writer creates it, and this leads to a bigger question: yes, it must happen sometime...but do I really want to read about it?

Agreed.  There does come a point where I could see that the only option would be resorting to that - however, the Zoners weren't it.  Doomsday was - as appears to be the consensus and I agree.  But, it would seem to me to be a wonderful aspect for Superman when younger and uncertain about his abilities has an accident or circumstance or some experience that really forms the whole "code against killing".  I'm not saying he'd have to kill someone, but what a great story that would make.  It's a lot like what I like about "Secret Identity".  The creation of Superman, how Clark develops into him made sooo much sense and really touching.  But to me, it worked in SI because he was the only superhero and had to figure things out himself, and confront the "secret empire" himself.  You kinda lose that impact when GAge GL did the same thing years prior, and Kal should have consulted him.  I can't quite seem to ever forget that Superman was the reason for the rest, and that should ring true in his books and interactions in the DCU.

Not to get too sentimental here, but on a bit of a tangent, and I really don't know how this might get fixed outside of possibly a set up similar to Alan Moore's Supreme series and the concept of the Supremacy where the all the out-of-continuity Supreme's teach the new avatar the ropes.  The thing is that Superman shines best as number 1.  1st guy with a secret ID, 1st guy that's a superhero, 1st guy who sets the standard for others, etc., in his respective universe.  He loses a lot when there are "mystery men" before him, I think.  One of my more saddening moments of all things was the revised timeline in Zero Hour where Jay Garrick was the 1st superhero.  What a joke!

OK, enough of that.

Quote from: Aldous
Any deviation from his view of how the world should be, and especially how he believes others should act, sends him into paroxysms of rage and desperation.

Oh, come on, you're making Namor sound like a petulant child. Namor can take bad news: Sue Storm said no, and he was able to take no for an answer. In fact, the reason Namor pursues Sue is not because she doesn't want it, but because she DOES.

In fact, Namor's acceptance of the fact he gave Doctor Doom his word to serve him in SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP was downright quiet, internal, philosophical. "I have lived a very long time...I have little regrets. But I do not wish to be Doctor Doom's slave."

Yes, Namor doesn't take crap. You don't put chains on Namor (as a few sorry suckers discovered in DAREDEVIL #7), though this is less of a function of insecurity as it is Namor's fundamental dignity. "I go before your judge...but NEVER in CHAINS!"

Well, back to topic.  Sure, there are similarities between Namor and Supes, in that they both are aliens to us (or "us" as represented by the normal Joe's of their respective universes) - but outside of the basic similarities; demeanors, attitudes and conduct - they're not.  But, never have they been more similar than when Byrne did Namor.  Secret ID and all.  Spooky.  Not to say that Namor's blood weakness wasn't clever - but it did kinda take away from Namor's personality a bit IMO.  I've always liked him best as anti-hero.  There was some real gold about him in Supervillan Team Up.

Quote from: AMAZO
As an aside, in the Justice League animated series Aquaman 2-parter, I felt that Arthur's personality was very Namorian.

Aquaman has been changed a great deal to be much more like Namor. For instance, Aquaman didn't have superstrength in the beginning. And there have been occasions where Namor has demonstrated powers far more Aquaman's style, like commanding sea creatures (especially when written by Golden Age lover and Aqua-Fan, Roy Thomas).

Aquaman's been written, post-TIME AND TIDE, as a character with a temper, just like Namor. This leads to Morrison's characterization in JLA, easily the most swaggering version of Aquaman ever.

Actually, I thought Aquaman's superstrength was a brilliant insight by whatever writer put it there 1st.  You'd have to be pretty darn strong to swim fast, long and deep.  But, the whole "pressures of royalty" crap and "I against the surface world" is just plain stupid!  Why try to make him more like Namor?  Arthur has always been the most light-hearted hero done right, IMO.  Funny, but I think the Superfriends and Smallville got him the most right out of anyone.

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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2007, 11:29:26 AM »

Namor, especially post-Golden Age, has always struck me as part of the Marvel tradition of "alien" anti-heroes.  I would include Vision, Black Panther, Black Bolt in there.  Maybe Thor.  Proud, not always in synch with contemporary mores or emotional life.  A man out of time who differs distinctly from Captain America.  His characterization seems closer to J'onn J'onzz than to Superman in the DC-verse, with a few exceptions (maybe Kingdom Come?).  Superman is very human, raised in small town USA.  Namor may have more in common with Supergirl of maybe some of the more repentent Phantom Zoners or Kandorians.

Namor in Super-Villain Team Up vs Namor in Invaders is often very different --the same man, 30 years apart?  Invaders Namor is different from early FF Namor vs 40s Namor vs Byrne's Namor (I read several issues while drunk during the late 90s, that's it, I swear).  The main factor?  Different writers or different decades, I can't decide.
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2007, 08:21:31 PM »

Quote from: Criadoman
Agreed.  There does come a point where I could see that the only option would be resorting to that - however, the Zoners weren't it.  Doomsday was - as appears to be the consensus and I agree.

Wow, that's a good idea. It might make an interesting story where Superman's sole solution to a problem is to kill, and the subsequent anguish he experiences over it. It might be great for a Superboy story, as you say, because such an experience would certainly shape and color his view of the entire phenomenon. Lots of Superman stories have been fundamentally tragic; it would be interesting if it was someone "asking" for it, as was the case in the Robot X story.

I agree with what you're saying, essentially, that Superman's Code vs. Killing works best when it is a function of something other than a hardassed "rule" that he obeys, and is more a function of life-changing experiences and a veneration of life itself. One of the most wonderful additions that Elliot Maggin made to Superman in his novels was the idea that Superman sees life in a totally different way, as luminous, beautiful beings, and it is this sense of awe and mystery that is the cause of his code against killing - an idea used later by Mark Waid.

This idea has always been better in concept than in execution. A dead dog convinces Superboy to reveal himself to the world? The scene was written so histrionically ("It'll never happen again!" (sniff) ) that I just couldn't stop laughing.

Quote from: Criadoman
I can't quite seem to ever forget that Superman was the reason for the rest, and that should ring true in his books and interactions in the DCU.

Not to get too sentimental here, but on a bit of a tangent, and I really don't know how this might get fixed outside of possibly a set up similar to Alan Moore's Supreme series and the concept of the Supremacy where the all the out-of-continuity Supreme's teach the new avatar the ropes.  The thing is that Superman shines best as number 1.  1st guy with a secret ID, 1st guy that's a superhero, 1st guy who sets the standard for others, etc., in his respective universe.  He loses a lot when there are "mystery men" before him, I think.  One of my more saddening moments of all things was the revised timeline in Zero Hour where Jay Garrick was the 1st superhero.  What a joke!

Actually, I think I remember reading somewhere that at one point in the DC Universe, the first known superheroes were the Crimson Avenger and Zatara.

As for what you're saying, I don't know if I agree 100% with this.

One of the reasons that UNDERWORLD UNLEASHED is one of the few of these large crossovers that I truly like (along with COSMIC ODYSSEY and THE AVENGERS-DEFENDERS WAR) is because Superman is not center stage, he's just another one of the characters, and other people (notably the Trickster) got their chance to shine. One of the real weaknesses of the Morrison JLA is that it was "Superman, Batman and Friends," with Superman and Batman generally being the one to solve problems. I love Superman and all, but give other people a chance to save the day. Heck, remember the stunning upset Elongated Man gave the Lord of Time during the Len Wein years? Didn't see that coming.

As for Superman being the first superhero vs. Superman as a significant hero but not the first...like Alex Ross, I was always very much in favor of the first option because it gave Superman his deserved role in history.

That is, until Geoff Johns's JSA. That book convinced me of the value of the singleverse where the JSA came before Superman and the rest, for several reasons:

The biggest reason is it gave the JSA a new identity, a grandiose one that defined them as something more than being "the slightly older JLA of a parallel earth." Namely, the JSA are elder statesmen, the most experienced, who created the hero and the heroic legacy, which continues not just in their members, but in their legacy: hence the presence of INFINITY INC. people and types like Cyclone and Stargirl. Ordinary people may look up to the JLA, but the JLA look up to the JSA.

Superman as the first hero is a great idea...but the JSA as the first, and as the subsequent keepers of the flame with a relationship to the "later" Silver Agers, is a great one too.

I say without hyperbole that Geoff Johns's JSA is the single most important DC comic of the past ten years. More important than INFINITE CRISIS, more important than the Peyer HOURMAN. Because this book radically redefined not only who the JSA are, but what the DC Universe looks like. Time was, JSA was a pet project of Roy Thomas and a favorite of the most hardcore of fans, one of those titles that gets resuscitated every five years to get canceled again after 30 issues, like Doctor Strange, Green Arrow, and so on. Now, it's unthinkable to even imagine a DC Universe without a JSA as a constant presence, and it's because of the niche for them that was created by Johns.

If you look at the current DCU, it looks like what Johns was doing back in 2000: emphasis on examining DC history, use of minor characters in a serious way, "character doctoring," returning classic characters to rightful roles (Hal Jordan, Hawkman, Dr. Fate), new visions made up of all sections of a book's history (as in he used classic JSAers, but also members of INFINITY INC. and later additions) and an emphasis on talented writers telling characterization-centered, LOST or HEROES style stories (e.g. what Gail Simone, Busiek and others are doing).
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