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(Slate)   Two grown men debate the canonicity and relevance of Krypto the Super-Dog   (slate.com ) divider line
    More: Silly, Krypto the Super-Dog, dogs, Washington City Paper, relevance  
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1311 clicks; posted to Geek » on 05 May 2013 at 12:50 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-05-06 02:12:25 PM  

ZeroCorpse: I think that's a good starting point. The #1 rule would be "No taking long-standing characters and 're-inventing' them with the same names, similar powers, hip new lingo, and a different costume."


That's a terrible idea.  The vast majority of literature - including GREAT literature (e.g. Shakespeare) is writers taking pre-existing ideas and spinning them in slightly different ways.

Case in point:  We've got this guy, see, and he's really wealthy.  But he sees injustice and corruption, so at night, he dresses all in black and works as a costumed vigilante relying on his tools and his wits to survive.  By day he pretends to be a harmless idiot playboy.  Name that character:

ZORRO - who was pretty much Batman before Bob Kane took all of the important details and just threw a new spin on them (with a dash of The Shadow for good measure).

And need I mention The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?  Or Watchmen?  Both highly-regarded works that recycled old characters by giving them new twists.

Literature is BUILT on this practice, and comics especially.  "Original" doesn't mean better - it's almost impossible to come up with a completely new idea out of whole cloth.  The best writers make extensive use of what has come before to create something "new" - that is, in the sense that it twists or modifies its source material enough that it "freshens" it.
 
2013-05-06 06:53:46 PM  

lamecomedian: ZeroCorpse: I think that's a good starting point. The #1 rule would be "No taking long-standing characters and 're-inventing' them with the same names, similar powers, hip new lingo, and a different costume."

That's a terrible idea.  The vast majority of literature - including GREAT literature (e.g. Shakespeare) is writers taking pre-existing ideas and spinning them in slightly different ways.

Case in point:  We've got this guy, see, and he's really wealthy.  But he sees injustice and corruption, so at night, he dresses all in black and works as a costumed vigilante relying on his tools and his wits to survive.  By day he pretends to be a harmless idiot playboy.  Name that character:

ZORRO - who was pretty much Batman before Bob Kane took all of the important details and just threw a new spin on them (with a dash of The Shadow for good measure).

And need I mention The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?  Or Watchmen?  Both highly-regarded works that recycled old characters by giving them new twists.

Literature is BUILT on this practice, and comics especially.  "Original" doesn't mean better - it's almost impossible to come up with a completely new idea out of whole cloth.  The best writers make extensive use of what has come before to create something "new" - that is, in the sense that it twists or modifies its source material enough that it "freshens" it.


Warning. Wall-o-text again.

You're taking my rule too far. I didn't mean you couldn't have SIMILAR characters based on old ideas. I meant you couldn't take Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc. and just make the "newer, hipper" versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc.

Thinking of Zorro and coming up with Batman? No problem there. That's actually writing.

Taking Superman and "reinventing" or reinterpreting him with a slightly new costume and barely-modified origin, switching his job from "reporter" to "blogger" to make it updated, cool and hip? That's what I don't want to see. That's what I was talking about when I said, "No taking long-standing characters and 're-inventing' them with the same names, similar powers, hip new lingo, and a different costume."

If you want to make a new character based on Superman, that's fine. That's how we get the Captain Marvels, Hyperions, and others of that ilk. But taking Superman and just tweaking him slightly and introducing him as a "hip new direction" or "re-interpretation" of Superman? Don't do that.

Yes, Marvel Ultimate did that, but they did it in a better way. The Marvel Ultimate Universe keeps moving forward and doesn't reset shiat. People die, and they're just replaced after that; No retcons or reset buttons. DC could never do this.

That's what I like about the Ultimate line-up. They don't f♥ck around when they change or kill off characters. Peter Parker is DEAD. Janet Van Dyne is DEAD. The Blob is DEAD. Wolverine is DEAD. Cyclops is DEAD. Magneto is DEAD. Nightcrawler is DEAD.  And they've all stayed dead.Instead of finding some stupid way for Wolverine to come back to life, for example, they wrote up a whole new character: A son (and it's not Daken!) To carry on the Spider-Man tradition, they created a whole new character: Miles Morales. To continue the X-Men, they brought in new characters and promoted old ones. To continue the Ultimates, they created all-new characters and they always bury their dead for good.

DC could really benefit from that sort of re-inventing. They sometimes play with it for a while (Dick as Batman) but then they hit that big old reset button and everything is back to normal. Superman didn't die. Batman didn't die. Hal Jordan didn't die. Everything goes back to the way it was.  You will NEVER see any of the main JLA members die for good, and that's why they're all getting so damned boring.

Yes, Marvel 616 does this a bit, too, and they need to stop bringing back every Avenger they kill off (though Sentry is probably going to stay dead, and I'm pretty sure Swordsman and Captain Mar-Vell will, too.)   But Ultimate Marvel doesn't do that.  They almost never bring back a dead character, and it makes their whole universe feel much more alive and dangerous. Events have actual consequences.

In the Ultimate Universe, Reed Richards went totally off the reservation and became a major villain-- And he stayed that way. The Fantastic Four is broken apart. Sue's hanging around with the Ultimates. Johnny's hanging around with the X-Men. Ben isn't rocky anymore-- he's a glowing purple energy being, and he and Sue are a couple. Captain America is the President. The nation has just been through a real civil war and several states dropped out. Billions worldwide were killed over the past year.  And this all remains canon!

Now, wouldn't it be cool if DC had the balls to turn Batman truly evil, making him the JLA's honest-to-goodness arch enemy? And wouldn't it be game-changing if he decided he had to take Superman off the board, and so he honestly, truly, without any take-backs, KILLS him?

And after that, wouldn't it be cool if someone else-- Someone very powerful but not from Krypton-- stepped up and took on Superman's title and duties? And there was no reset. No "Oh, Kal-El was just in hiding." or "He was sent hurtling through time but now he's back!"

How about having this evil Batman wipe out Metropolis? I mean, actually kill 75% of the population including the superheroes who show up to try to rescue people? Kill off bunches of B & C-listers in one stroke. Maybe even take out a couple of A-listers?

And let that remain canon. No reset button. The world has to continue on without Kal-El, without Blue Beetle, without Kid Flash, without Starfire, without Cyborg... MAKE IT STICK! Instead of letting writers "fix" things by resetting big events, force them to  keep writing forward and develop new ideas and characters.

It's just such a let-down when they do character deaths in the main Marvel or DC lineups (More so in DC, because they keep resetting all of reality. Marvel just resets individual moments, not all of reality.)

What would happen to the DC Earth if they didn't have to CONSTANTLY maintain the status quo?

The writers are stuck. I get that. WB won't let them write truly creative stuff that could potentially kill or dramatically change their characters permanently. So they're forced to write  around  their characters' long-standing images, and that sucks.

The biggest problem with DC is WB depends on merchandising, and the most popular characters are pretty much immune from significant changes, death, or destruction. They must ALWAYS be recognizable as the characters they've always been so that WB can sell pillowcases, lunch boxes, video games, snack cakes, and other things.

What Marvel did with the Ultimate line was FREE THEMSELVES from the marketing and merchandising tie-ins. They still have their 616 mainstays (and Cinematic Universe, now) to grace toys and lunchboxes, but they have Ultimate as this great playground in which they can write freely without worrying about not being able to sell t-shirts with the new Spider-Man on them, or market backpacks with the now-defunct Fantastic Four. They've got free reign to do ANYTHING to the characters, and it's a fun ride!

Yeah, it gets weird and stupid sometimes, but even when it does they continue to live with the mistakes and missteps. They write from that point and fix things in-story, instead of just starting over.

DC would be amazing if they had a line like that. As a writer, I'd love to be allowed to play in that universe. Let me kill off Lex Luthor and replace him with Bruce Wayne. Let me give Barry Allen an inoperable brain tumor. Let me wipe out STAR Labs and set Doomsday loose on Earth after Superman is already dead. Let me wipe out the Metal Men and Doom Patrol and NEVER BRING THEM BACK. Let me have Vandal Savage's plans have LASTING, LONG-TERM EFFECTS. Let me allow characters to get old, get sick, retire, and die.

Permanency. Consequences. Story progression.

DC has tried many of the above story ideas in Elseworlds and one-shots, but they never make them last. They never go on from there. It's always "Well, that was a cool hypothetical question. Now back to the way things always were."

That's what I meant with my statement above: Don't just replace Kal-El with Kal-El. Replace Kal-El with someone we've never seen before. And make it remain canon.
 
2013-05-06 11:33:12 PM  
ZeroCorpse:

Warning. Wall-o-text again.

You're taking my rule too far. I didn't mean you couldn't have SIMILAR characters based on old ideas. I meant you couldn't take Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc. and just make the "newer, hipper" versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc.

Thinking of Zorro and coming up with Batman? No problem there. That's actually writing.

Taking Superman and "reinventing" or reinterpreting him with a slightly new costume and barely-modified origin, switching his job from "reporter" to "blogger" to make it updated, cool and hip? That's what I don't want to see. That's what I was talking about when I said, "No taking long-standing characters and 're-inventing' them with the same names, similar powers, hip new lingo, and a different costume."


Didn't your "wish list" for the DC universe basically include the abolition of every legacy character since the Golden Age?  No Flashes past Jay Garrick, no Lanterns past Alan Scott, etc.  Those are characters with "the same names, similar powers, and a different costume" - and they were all great additions to the DC universe.  Maybe I'm misunderstanding what exactly you're looking for - I mean, let's face it, DC's new 52 is terrible, really terrible. I'm not going to argue with you there - but you seem to be looking for something quite radically different.

If you want to make a new character based on Superman, that's fine. That's how we get the Captain Marvels, Hyperions, and others of that ilk. But taking Superman and just tweaking him slightly and introducing him as a "hip new direction" or "re-interpretation" of Superman? Don't do that.

Then we wouldn't get excellent stories like "Superman: Red Son" or "The Dark Knight Returns."  Some of the best writing that DC has done has come from taking those characters in different directions/re-interpreting them.

Yes, Marvel Ultimate did that, but they did it in a better way.

This sounds to me like you're okay the actual practice of "re-interpreting" characters, so long as it's executed properly.

The Marvel Ultimate Universe keeps moving forward and doesn't reset shiat. People die, and they're just replaced after that; No retcons or reset buttons. DC could never do this.

Marvel also maintained the Ultimate line side-by-side with the rest of their books.  They didn't stop publishing "traditional" Spidey in favor of Ultimate Spidey (who was really great).  And while we're on the subject of Spider-Man, I find it hard to believe that you can look me in the eye and tell me that Marvel doesn't do retcons or push reset buttons after Brand New Day and One More Day - we're talking about one of the most hamfisted, character-defiling retcons in the history of comics here.  And how about House of M where Marvel decided it needed to thin the ranks of a bunch of mutants because it had added WAY too many to keep track of?  Marvel is every bit as guilty of this as DC.

That's what I like about the Ultimate line-up. They don't f♥ck around when they change or kill off characters. Peter Parker is DEAD. Janet Van Dyne is DEAD. The Blob is DEAD. Wolverine is DEAD. Cyclops is DEAD. Magneto is DEAD. Nightcrawler is DEAD.  And they've all stayed dead.Instead of finding some stupid way for Wolverine to come back to life, for example, they wrote up a whole new character: A son (and it's not Daken!) To carry on the Spider-Man tradition, they created a whole new character: Miles Morales. To continue the X-Men, they brought in new characters and promoted old ones. To continue the Ultimates, they created all-new characters and they always bury their dead for good.

And a lot of the writing in the Ultimates series was pretty weak.  Wolverine was a freaking pedophile, for crying out loud.

DC could really benefit from that sort of re-inventing. They sometimes play with it for a while (Dick as Batman) but then they hit that big old reset button and everything is back to normal. Superman didn't die. Batman didn't die. Hal Jordan didn't die. Everything goes back to the way it was.  You will NEVER see any of the main JLA members die for good, and that's why they're all getting so damned boring.

In the Ultimate Universe, Reed Richards went totally off the reservation and became a major villain-- And he stayed that way. The Fantastic Four is broken apart. Sue's hanging around with the Ultimates. Johnny's hanging around with the X-Men. Ben isn't rocky anymore-- he's a glowing purple energy being, and he and Sue are a couple. Captain America is the President. The nation has just been through a real civil war and several states dropped out. Billions worldwide were killed over the past year.  And this all remains canon!


Your rubric for storytelling seems to rely pretty heavily on "how many characters get killed/crapped on" and "how many characters become evil"  This isn't Game of Thrones, these are comic books we're talking about - ongoing serialized adventures of colorful costumed heroes.

Now, wouldn't it be cool if DC had the balls to turn Batman truly evil, making him the JLA's honest-to-goodness arch enemy?


They did.  He was called Owlman, and it was pretty cool.

And wouldn't it be game-changing if he decided he had to take Superman off the board, and so he honestly, truly, without any take-backs, KILLS him?  How about having this evil Batman wipe out Metropolis? I mean, actually kill 75% of the population including the superheroes who show up to try to rescue people? Kill off bunches of B & C-listers in one stroke. Maybe even take out a couple of A-listers?

And now we're back to "omg wouldn't it be great if they KILLED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE?"  A lot of us LIKE these characters.  We don't WANT to see them die - we want to see them fight evil and win.

It's just such a let-down when they do character deaths in the main Marvel or DC lineups (More so in DC, because they keep resetting all of reality. Marvel just resets individual moments, not all of reality.)

Here's your solution: when a character that you like dies in the comics, just stop reading those books.  Boom!  You've just blocked any retcons, and now you get to go enjoy other comics.

DC would be amazing if they had a line like that. As a writer, I'd love to be allowed to play in that universe. Let me kill off Lex Luthor and replace him with Bruce Wayne. Let me give Barry Allen an inoperable brain tumor. Let me wipe out STAR Labs and set Doomsday loose on Earth after Superman is already dead. Let me wipe out the Metal Men and Doom Patrol and NEVER BRING THEM BACK. Let me have Vandal Savage's plans have LASTING, LONG-TERM EFFECTS. Let me allow characters to get old, get sick, retire, and die.

Seriously, man - every single "contribution" you would make to comics is to wreak death, destruction, and misery on characters that you allegedly love.  That's kind of messed up.  You're not *really* talking about Batman growing old and dying - you're talking about him going nuts and WIPING OUT OTHER HEROES.  That's your vision - death, misery, despair.  Let me tell you pal, we've been through that: it was called the nineties, and we've gotten over it.

Permanency. Consequences. Story progression.

DC has tried many of the above story ideas in Elseworlds and one-shots, but they never make them last. They never go on from there. It's always "Well, that was a cool hypothetical question. Now back to the way things always were."


And what's wrong with that?  You admit that DC is doing the things you want them to do, but it's somehow not good enough for you because they won't throw beloved characters on the trash heap for good?

That's what I meant with my statement above: Don't just replace Kal-El with Kal-El. Replace Kal-El with someone we've never seen before. And make it remain canon.

That's ridiculous, and I'll tell you why: people LOVE these characters.  They want to continue reading about them for years to come.  Sure, there's going to be a lot of crap stories along the way, but 90% of everything is crap.  And in the midst of all the chaff, they still produce some great alternate interpretations of those characters - I've listed quite a few in this thread.  Seek those out and read them, if you want.  But it's selfish to expect publishers to just throw away beloved characters just because you want to read different stories.  If you want to read something other than Superman, pick up a copy of Nightwing (what's that, you say?  A DC sidekick character who went on to become his own unique hero, thus progressing as a character without a reboot?  Heresy!) or Before Watchmen or ANY OTHER BOOK.  I mean, this is literally only a problem for you - you don't want to read about Superman anymore?  Then stop reading Superman comics!  It's so simple, Joe Quesada could even figure it out.
 
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