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Author Topic: Silver Age Continuity  (Read 33323 times)
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Ruby Spears Superman
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« on: August 29, 2007, 02:43:12 AM »

I was looking at the Superman Showcase volumes in the store today and I realized something: many of the Lois Lane stories weren't very flattering to the character. She was always trying to trick Superman into marraige or Clark into revealing his secret or some other "treacherous female" behavior that didn't make her look very good. One story had Lois and Lana fighting to the "death" for Superman's affections and playing a trick on him to force him to pick one or the other. Anyone with the volumes knows how the story ends and those who don't can find it fairly easy, but it just made me think that perhaps if the pre-crisis universe is a continuity, then this might not be a very good thing to have as part of official Superman history. This very sexist behavior would be official cannon.

This got me thinking about a much larger question: is the pre-crisis universe really a continuity at all? Superman's history was constantly being "updated", even until the last year with Superman the Secret Years. This certainly doesn't fit the pattern for a conventional continuity. Take Bizzaro for instance; he was origianlly an accidental clone of Superboy created by a duplicator ray, yet just a few short years later, he had become a delibrate creation by Lex Luthor. Or how many times did Jimmy Olsen travel back in time to Krypton to help Jor-El spare Kal-El? I can think of at least two stories that took place in less then a decade of each other with that very theme. Superman himself went back and met his parents at least two years prior to the famous Lyda story. Then there is still the question of what age did Superboy start his career? Some stories say he was in elementary school, others say he was a teenager.

All of these raise serious questions about what is or isn't, or even what should be, cannon in Superman history. Is it just me, am I thinking too hard?  Huh? 
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2007, 03:55:29 AM »

Ahh, a thread on my favorite topic: continuity!

There are many ways to explain the difference between the Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen stuff and the "mainstream" Superman books.

One solution is they exist "in universe," but in a different capacity. By that I mean...the weird John Byrne SHE-HULK stuff was, according to Dan Slott, what happened in the SHE-HULK licensed comic in the Marvel Universe itself. She can't really "talk" to her artist or believe she's in a comic book. She didn't really fight the toad-men.

This explanation can likewise be applied to early Silver Age SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN. Jimmy Olsen, being a gutsy two-fisted adventurer/detective/master of disguise with his own fan club, would probably have a licensed comic. I wonder what Jimmy's reaction would be to his funnybooks. It would probably be the same as the "real" Tarzan's reaction to his movies, as reported by PJF: at first it would be anger and outrage, and later, laughter.

The LOIS LANE stuff usually involves almost exclusively Freudian "all men are great in their dreams" themes like her almost-marrying Superman, getting superpowers, or getting the better of Lana. They certainly can be explained away as Lois's daydreams.

As for the relationship between Superman's early Silver Age continuity and how it seems to be in flux, we have to remember that this is, for the most part in a very narrow period of time, at least a decade (though I hesitate to give dates because all this is fundamentally imprecise) between 1953-1963. Eventually how Superman more-or-less worked was "established," just like after a certain period of time, on STAR TREK, people stopped saying "Vulcanian" instead of "Vulcan."

One of the great (but fun) exercises in futility is trying to establish when Superman or Batman was definitively on "Earth-1" and when he was on "Earth-2." I don't think it was instant, as in one comic is on Earth-2 and the next is on Earth-1.

This is key to understanding the early Silver Age continuity right here: it wasn't an instant switch over, but gradual, like turning the dial on the radio. Think of an infinite number of earths between Earth-2 and Earth-1, and when the dial was turned from one station to the other, the two radio stations blend and result in short-lived combinations.

That's my personal explanation for short-lived, gimmicky fifties and early sixties stuff that was never mentioned again: things like Superman being in the army. They happened in the fluxing worlds in between Earth-1 and Earth-2. Or alternatively, when the world was in flux. And thus, the reason we don't hear about them again is because they didn't really happen.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2007, 10:12:26 AM by JulianPerez » Logged

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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2007, 09:09:18 AM »

I can think of at least two stories that took place in less then a decade of each other with that very theme. Superman himself went back and met his parents at least two years prior to the famous Lyda story.
That was by design.  Weisinger was keen on recycling themes that worked.  "Within the same decade" are a couple generations of 8-13 year olds. 

Did kids really want all that continuity?  Do kids really want comic books when they can have cartoons instead, especially with most comic books ditching comic book aspects like captions and thought bubbles that are great to show off continuity. 

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Super Monkey
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2007, 12:24:57 PM »

Yes, plus they got a fresh batch of new readers every 2-3 years.

Kids actual read comics back then.

https://www.supermanthroughtheages.com/a/Creators/weisinger.php
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Ruby Spears Superman
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« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2007, 01:48:31 AM »

 Marvel (who always had much more stricter rules when it came to continuity) ran into a problem a few years back when they stripped Wolverine of his adamantium. In the original Weapon X miniseries it was explained that the claws were surgical implants. Needless to say, this created problems when Magneto stripped him of his metal skeleton and the claws were still there. Many fans tried to rational this away by making claims that since Weapon X wasn't in the Wolverine books proper, it doesn't count as cannon.

To me, I always want everything to match up perfectly. Perhaps this is too much to ask from comics originally written for 8 year olds but I guess I'm kinda anal that way. Following Julian's "middle universes" example you could also argue that Action #1 and Superman #1 take place in different universes because in Action we never see him get adopted. Ditto Earth 2 and the original Golden Age Superman since he never developed the ability to fly and his Earth 2 counterpart did. Not to mention the instant switchover from Star to Planet. Or how about when his X-ray vision also doubled as his heat vision? The examples could go on forever. 

Supreme did an excellent job of dealing with some of these kinds of "middle universe" events with the Supremacy.   
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2007, 01:59:59 AM »

Well, if Superman DID match up perfectly, how could you explain Lois going from a marriage-crazy lover of Pat Boone with a pill box hat to a hip social crusader, to what she is today in 40 years without ever getting any older?

I guess you are a continuity kind of guy.

For me, I like the comics because they remind me of the 60s when I was a kid, I expected that there would be turnover in readers and characterization.

Its comics - not "King Lear"... Grin
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carmine
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2007, 02:07:00 AM »

I always looked at a comicbook as a piece of history. How many books have been written on lincoln?? I am sure they agree on major facts but disagree on the importance of smaller facts and how to interpert what happened.
So we know for a "fact" that bizarro is a backwards copy of Superman. but when did he did he first come into existance. Was he created like a clone or was he created by a ray???

Well I have some evidence that he was made when superman was a boy!!
-what you still believe that?? that evidence has been totally discredited!!! everyone knows Bizarro was made by Lex in a lab!!!

so in conclusion...no the silver age had no continuity.
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TELLE
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« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2007, 07:28:25 AM »

The Silver Age did have a continuity --it is up to us, the guardians of the legacy of the Silver Age Superman, to explain away its inconsistencies and joyously marvel at its excesses!
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