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Author Topic: The Superman Multiverse  (Read 37452 times)
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nightwing
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« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2004, 11:27:59 AM »

Re:  Earth-2 Superboy

Aside from the fact that he isn't featured in the first origin -- or the one or two brief re-tellings in the Golden Age -- how do we know for sure there wasn't a Superboy on Earth-2?  I mean, did Earth-2 Superman ever come right out and SAY "I never operated as a SuperBOY."?

Keep in mind that GA Superman and Earth-2 Superman aren't necessarily the same man.  In fact, they can't be.  For one thing, Earth-2 Clark spends his entire professional career at the Daily Star (first as reporter, later as editor) and never works for Perry White.  And yet the GA Superman clearly worked at the Planet under Perry.  So we seem to be looking at two different lives here.

Anyway, the only down side of the whole "Multiple Earths" concept was that it was the beginning of the notion that every inconsistency can somehow be explained away.  What that's given us is continuity freaks like the one over on the DC boards now yelling at Darwyn Cooke for his "New Frontier" book. ("You're destroying continuity!  All non-continuity books must show the 'Elseworlds' imprint! How do you sleep at night?" Yadda yadda.)  Too bad we've grown so "sophisticated" that we can't simply enjoy a good story for what it is, instead of judging how well it fits with all the others ever told.

Those old Superboy tales will just have to exist in some paradoxical other dimension, I guess, but so what?  Strictly speaking, so will every GA Superman story after that very early Action where he's suddenly working for the Planet.


Re: Cir-El

I don't like her, either, though the picture's nice enough.  Now that I see her drawn by a real artist instead of the psychotic monkeys at DC, I realize her costume is stolen, lock, stock and barrell, from the Earth-3 Superwoman.  Did it turn out to be her child?
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India Ink
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« Reply #41 on: January 22, 2004, 10:51:57 PM »

Although the multiple Earths concept can be a lot of fun, I sometimes think it's been more trouble than it's worth.  Every time DC tries to explain a differentiation in continuity they invite a storm of fan criticism.

Yet Disney has never bothered to explain why there are so many alternate versions of Mickey Mouse.  Nor has Warner Brothers engaged in positing alternate realities for Bugs Bunny in all his forms.  And fans somehow accept this--miracle of miracles.
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India Ink
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« Reply #42 on: January 23, 2004, 01:44:00 AM »

Quote from: "India Ink"
Yet Disney has never bothered to explain why there are so many alternate versions of Mickey Mouse.  Nor has Warner Brothers engaged in positing alternate realities for Bugs Bunny in all his forms.  And fans somehow accept this--miracle of miracles.


Go figure! I guess DC didn't think we were as smart as your average Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny fan. :shock:  :wink:
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« Reply #43 on: January 23, 2004, 04:53:36 AM »

Personally, I thought it was fun to have two Earths, with Earth-1 being the home of the Silver Age heroes (eg. the JLA), and Earth-2 being the home of the Golden Age Heroes (eg. the JSA). I loved the fact that the Earth-1 Superman could interact with his Golden Age counterpart, as well as the Golden and Silver age versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Wonder Woman and so on. The only real disappointment was that the two versions of Batman couldn't interact because the Golden Age Batman died while the Earth-1 Batman lived on. When the Crisis happened, I felt that something was lost in this respect, and I miss those days when JLA/JSA team-ups were major annual events that I always looked forward to. I even remember one occasion when we saw three generations of super-hero teams join forces (namely the JSA, the JLA and the Legion of Super-Heroes)!
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RedSunOfKrypton
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« Reply #44 on: January 23, 2004, 05:55:44 AM »

Thanks for the synopses, it was well written. Peace.
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KryptoniteKills
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« Reply #45 on: January 23, 2004, 06:15:50 AM »

Quote from: "India Ink"
Although the multiple Earths concept can be a lot of fun, I sometimes think it's been more trouble than it's worth.  Every time DC tries to explain a differentiation in continuity they invite a storm of fan criticism.

Yet Disney has never bothered to explain why there are so many alternate versions of Mickey Mouse.  Nor has Warner Brothers engaged in positing alternate realities for Bugs Bunny in all his forms.  And fans somehow accept this--miracle of miracles.


You are comparing apples and oranges here.  Mickey mouse and Bugs Bunny are slapstick cartoon characters.  Their stories barely makes sense by themselves and they aren't really supposed to.  They are just an excuse for a series of surreal gags.  

Superman is a bit different.  Yes he is a fantasy character, and his stories aren't serious in the sense that say,  "Requiem for a Dream" is;  But the audeince is more interested in seeing how Supes foils Luthors plan than having a few yuks.  This sort of storytelling requires a bit more logic than an old school toon.  Also note that comics are a serial medium, so intuition tells us that what happened in issue #65 occured before issue #73.

Can such continuity ever be perfect?  No.  And no one should expect it to be.  Nor should fans obsess over petty details.  But some basic consistency is required for a story to make sense, and adding explanations for more innocuous inconsistencies can add more depth to a fantasy world, and is just generally fun.
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Aldous
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« Reply #46 on: January 23, 2004, 06:34:13 AM »

Quote
nightwing:

Anyway, the only down side of the whole "Multiple Earths" concept was that it was the beginning of the notion that every inconsistency can somehow be explained away.


I suppose you're right. But the problem, to be more specific, was brought to my attention by a comment of India's:

Quote
India Ink:

Every time DC tries to explain....


The company never used to explain things, or "explain away" things. Why did they ever feel they needed to start?

Now, my favourite version of Superman is O'Neil's from the "Sand-Superman" saga. But, is he the same Superman from other stories I love? Is he the same Superman as the one from "Superman's Day of Truth"? "The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island"? The deformed Superman from "Love is Blind"? The Superman who lost his powers in "Who Took the Super Out of Superman"?

The answer is, for me, yes, it's all the same Superman. Call him the Earth One Superman if you like, and I'm OK with that. But to me he's just Superman. I don't need anyone to try to explain away the perceived differences in the character, especially not the company. I couldn't care less. I love each and every story on its own merits.

The continuity for me is that it's all Superman.

Quote
India Ink:

....it develops it into a rigid scheme that reinterprets those 1940s stories as if they were set on Earth 1--overlaying the continuity of a later date onto these stories and ignoring contrary continuity as anomalies.

This tortures logic.


It does.

Your "retroactive continuity" tells us the Golden Age Superboy must have been Earth One Superman as a boy, but this is best left as the private thoughts of random readers, or a subject for discussion between enthusiasts. I'm probably with you, in that I could read a Golden Age Superboy story and have no desire whatsoever to try to fit it into the Earth One chronology of DC's long and amazing history. I can just take it for what it is, a little gem of a story that lives or dies on its own merits, and -- I'm not sure how to put this -- my mind is firmly in the Golden Age as I read it.

The mistakes come in, I feel, when the company tries to explain things. They will never get it right and they should stop trying to get it right. Let the fans argue. That's part of the silliness of being a fan of anything.

The company could concentrate on delivering great stories. NOT on creating thin, multiple-issue episodes that owe greatly to the past and also to the future -- doubly in debt -- but on rich, satisfying stories that stand on their own merits. And this may leave the reader with a genuine and long-term desire to purchase further stories. It's like a good, hearty meal versus a junk food meal. On the one hand you may have free range roast chicken (cooked by your wife), carrots, peas, roast potatoes, and gravy -- and on the other hand you will have a franchise burger, french fries, a big Coke, a plastic-wrapped, microwave-heated dessert bar, and a little plastic tub of potato made by mixing hot water with dehydrated flakes. Now, one meal will satisfy you for the entire evening and make you feel great; the other meal will fill your guts, but not for long, and you will want another the same in maybe two or three hours, and you will feel a little "off" into the bargain, as if you missed out on something.

Now, there is a logic some may see, that says hook the customer into the cheap, greasy, sugar-rush meal, because, before you know it, he'll be back for more. And that's true. But is he a "satisfied customer"? I don't think so. I think he's coming back because he's a dissatisfied customer, only he doesn't know it. And does this produce those winning comic book sales figures? The evidence says no. Why? Because there just aren't enough people who are addicted to junk.
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nightwing
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« Reply #47 on: January 23, 2004, 02:16:11 PM »

Kryptonite Kills writes:

Quote
You are comparing apples and oranges here. Mickey mouse and Bugs Bunny are slapstick cartoon characters. Their stories barely makes sense by themselves and they aren't really supposed to. They are just an excuse for a series of surreal gags.


Well, let's take an example that may be more relevant.  In "Star Trek," we started with "Klingons" who looked like swarthy humans with greasy mustaches. In the movies and the spin-offs, "Klingons" became more "creature-like," with teeth like dogs and bony ridges coming down their foreheads.  Roddenberry's answer to this discrepancy was that the new look is how Klingons "always" looked, only in the 60s they didn't have the money to do it right! :-)  In an episode of Deep Space 9, Worf (a "new" Klingon) interacts with old-school Klingons and someone asks why they look so different.  Worf's answer: "That is something we prefer not to talk about!" :-)

Keep in mind this is Star Trek, a franchise with arguably the most devoted and detail-obsessed fan base in the world, and Roddenberry and Worf toss off "answers" that offer little more than a shrug and a wink.  And the fans -- as far as I know -- are okay with it!

This is the kind of "continuity" we need in comics; we need to see an honest effort being made to keep characters and the DCU consistent, but when some little thing doesn't add up, we should be big enough to shrug it off and not let it ruin a good story.  Especially if that discrepancy was committed decades ago by writers who couldn't very well follow rules that didn't exist yet!

Quote
Can such continuity ever be perfect? No. And no one should expect it to be. Nor should fans obsess over petty details. But some basic consistency is required for a story to make sense, and adding explanations for more innocuous inconsistencies can add more depth to a fantasy world, and is just generally fun.


Exactly.  What made the early "Earth-2" stories fun was that no one ever expected those inconsistencies to be explained, and yet Julie and company found ways to do it.  In fact, prior to "Flash of Two Worlds," Showcase #4 seems to be giving us a very different answer, saying in essence, "whatever you might have read about another guy named 'The Flash' was all make-believe.  The Barry Allen model is real."  Watching Julie Schwartz and his writers find ways not only to connect the dots between Golden Age and Silver, but even to make that previous "explanation" (from Showcase) fit in as well, must have been a true joy for readers who were lucky enough to live through both eras.  Being a bit younger, the closest I came was "All-Star Squadron," in which Roy Thomas tied up loose threads and closed gaps in logic that had been hanging around for over 50 years!  

That being said, not everything could be explained by the multiple Earths theory, and in some cases the "solution" created a new set of inconsistencies.


Aldous writes:

Quote
The answer is, for me, yes, it's all the same Superman. Call him the Earth One Superman if you like, and I'm OK with that. But to me he's just Superman. I don't need anyone to try to explain away the perceived differences in the character, especially not the company. I couldn't care less. I love each and every story on its own merits.


Well, I don't love them all! :-)  Another benefit of your approach (which is my own) is that when a bad story does come up, you can just reject it.  A good example is "The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis." I have no doubt DC meant it as THE answer to the secret identity issue, but when readers rejected it, it was forgotten.  Similarly any other story I read where I didn't think Superman was "in character," I just rejected it as apocrypha.  When "continuity" becomes oppressive is when it forces us to accept changes whether they work or not.  And that happened a lot when the super-titles were joined together, and every storyline led directly into every other one.  I reserve the right to reject Executioner Superman and President Luthor just as I rejected Clark's hypnotic glasses.  





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