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  1. #1
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Default How would you tweak DC characters you think are too similar?

    This thread might touch on some sensitive ground, but I'm hopeful this won't degenerate into another hate-fest.

    DC has a lot of different characters with similar powers, appearances, status quos, and personalities. How would you change those characters to be more distinct from one another?

    The easiest examples would be Barry Allen and Wally West, who ended up swapping each others character traits back and forth so much over the past several decades, the characters are viewed (rightly or wrongly) as being too similar to co-exist. How could either one be tweaked to make Barry and Wally more similar beyond Williamson's too vague idea that Barry views his speed as a scientist while Wally is more spiritual. In the end, they are both speedsters in red cracking jokes who use science and guile to foil their foes while being married to Lois Lane-types. Because of their age, Jay Garrick, Bart Allen & Wallace West have their own niche, but Barry & Wally don't because they're both going to be depicted as guys in their physical prime. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to solve this beyond the usual complaints about DC Editorial?

    Another example would be Amanda Waller and the revamped Etta Candy, who's lost her more comedic persona over the years. They're now both heavy-set black women working for American Intelligence with close ties to the superhero community. Now, normally being visually similar isn't a big problem in superhero comics because the costumes are an easy way of distinguishing all those identical blonds, brunettes, and red heads with the exact same muscleman or porn star bodies. However, neither Waller or Candy wear a costume, so the only way of telling them apart is whether or not you can see freckles (Candy, unless the artist forgets to draw them) and the level of bitchiness (Waller, unless Candy is being grumpy). I don't think DC is planning on reverting Etta Candy to her former ginger incarnation or have her shout her old catchphrase every time she appears, so is there any way of making the characters more visually distinct from one another?

    I also think Guy Gardner and Simon Baz are hitting too many of the same beats. Now that his brain damaged idiot days from JLI are behind him, Guy has evolved into the blue collar GL from Baltimore with a chip on his shoulder. Unfortunately, that also describes Simon Baz, except that he's a blue collar GL from Detroit with a chip on his shoulder, who is Muslim. Now, there's a lot to play with in regards to both characters, but they feel so similar they kind of make each other redundant, and, because Guy's been in more fan favorite comics, he's probably going to get used more than Simon, who hasn't really had a stand-out appearance yet. How can this be solved?

  2. #2
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    Easily.

    You give them different situations and things to do.

    Baz goes to Space, deals with Aliens etc. Guy gets a team uo series thats him and Steel doing Bro stuff in a more macho Blue and Gold kind of thing.

  3. #3
    Incredible Member WonderNight's Avatar
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    Batman as a street level detective and nightwing as a global superspy.

  4. #4
    It sucks to be right BohemiaDrinker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    This thread might touch on some sensitive ground, but I'm hopeful this won't degenerate into another hate-fest.

    DC has a lot of different characters with similar powers, appearances, status quos, and personalities. How would you change those characters to be more distinct from one another?
    Ah, this is an interesting one. I'll start by dealing with your examples, and then maybe later I'll come up with some.

    The easiest examples would be Barry Allen and Wally West, who ended up swapping each others character traits back and forth so much over the past several decades, the characters are viewed (rightly or wrongly) as being too similar to co-exist. How could either one be tweaked to make Barry and Wally more similar beyond Williamson's too vague idea that Barry views his speed as a scientist while Wally is more spiritual. In the end, they are both speedsters in red cracking jokes who use science and guile to foil their foes while being married to Lois Lane-types. Because of their age, Jay Garrick, Bart Allen & Wallace West have their own niche, but Barry & Wally don't because they're both going to be depicted as guys in their physical prime. Does anyone have any suggestions of how to solve this beyond the usual complaints about DC Editorial?
    Well, you write them properly. That is really it, as much as whoever in editorial wants to disagree. Sure, they have lots of similarities, since they have the same heroic identity (and a legitimate claim to it), are family and have a mentor-protege relationship. But all those were offset by meaningful differences a long time ago. Their powers work differently (Barry has more control over his vibrations, being able to phase trough objects while Wally makes them explode, Barry has less control over his time traveling abilities, but understands time travel better than Wally, Wally can lend and steal speed while Barry is an encyclopedia of Flash Facts, etc, etc, etc).

    Barry is introspective, Wally is really expansive. Barry is a straight man and only shows his sense of humor to people he feels close to, Wally is a goofball who's only serious with people he is close to. Barry is a JL founder, Wally is the connective tissue between the second and third generations, Barry is a leader and a teacher, Wally is a hands on kind of a guy, Barry is always late, Wally is the most punctual human being on the planet and the list goes on and on and on and on.

    Sure, a lot of those traits were wrongly used over the last few years - mainly because editorial wanted to secure every and anything cool about the Flash to Barry (this is documented, don't come at me) but hell, as similar as those 2 are, there's amore differences among them than between any 2 Bat-Characters (with the exception of Cass) at any given time.

    So, yes, my answer to that is write them properly.

    Another example would be Amanda Waller and the revamped Etta Candy, who's lost her more comedic persona over the years. They're now both heavy-set black women working for American Intelligence with close ties to the superhero community. Now, normally being visually similar isn't a big problem in superhero comics because the costumes are an easy way of distinguishing all those identical blonds, brunettes, and red heads with the exact same muscleman or porn star bodies. However, neither Waller or Candy wear a costume, so the only way of telling them apart is whether or not you can see freckles (Candy, unless the artist forgets to draw them) and the level of bitchiness (Waller, unless Candy is being grumpy). I don't think DC is planning on reverting Etta Candy to her former ginger incarnation or have her shout her old catchphrase every time she appears, so is there any way of making the characters more visually distinct from one another?
    Not a shot at you, Bored (at all, sincerely), but I kind of take offense at this. They're both black, female and spies, sure. But so what? There's a shitload of white spies on the DCU and no one seems to bat an eye about it. Waller and Candy are nothing alike, and the only reason I can see for someone to think of them as too similar is them both being black, which in turn usually comes from an assumption that "white" is the baseline human. It's not.

    Gimme more black female spies who are their own characters.

    Yes, that's my solution. WE NEED MOAR.

    I also think Guy Gardner and Simon Baz are hitting too many of the same beats. Now that his brain damaged idiot days from JLI are behind him, Guy has evolved into the blue collar GL from Baltimore with a chip on his shoulder. Unfortunately, that also describes Simon Baz, except that he's a blue collar GL from Detroit with a chip on his shoulder, who is Muslim. Now, there's a lot to play with in regards to both characters, but they feel so similar they kind of make each other redundant, and, because Guy's been in more fan favorite comics, he's probably going to get used more than Simon, who hasn't really had a stand-out appearance yet. How can this be solved?
    I think that the dark skinned arab who used to be at odds with the law VS the ginger who used to be the law is contrast enough. But you can always dig deeper: I'm not an specialist on Siumon, but I believe he has a solid family life as a foundation to his character, while Guy is an abuse survivor. Baz is pragmatic while Guy has an inferiority complex (for which the rest of the DCU, and not him, is to blame IMHO). And, if on Earth (or even oput of it if they play it right), there's always the issue of how society view those 2 men with apparently similar attitudes due to superficial or cultural reasons.




    Ok, I admit, I may use "write it properly" as a solution too much, but isn't it the solution to every writting problem? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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  5. #5
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BohemiaDrinker View Post
    Not a shot at you, Bored (at all, sincerely), but I kind of take offense at this. They're both black, female and spies, sure. But so what? There's a shitload of white spies on the DCU and no one seems to bat an eye about it. Waller and Candy are nothing alike, and the only reason I can see for someone to think of them as too similar is them both being black, which in turn usually comes from an assumption that "white" is the baseline human. It's not.

    Gimme more black female spies who are their own characters.
    My issue is not them being black female spies, but with them not being visually distinctive enough. All of the other super spy characters either have costumes or easily distinguishable visual ques.

    King Faraday has white hair. Sarge Steele has a metal hand. Nemesis is always wearing that black turtleneck with the red scales of justice logo, so nobody confuses him with Steve Trevor, even though they both dated Wonder Woman (although I'm sure the fact that both Steve and Tom are both hunky blonde dudes was a factor in Nemesis being WW's Steve Trevor replacement).

  6. #6
    It sucks to be right BohemiaDrinker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    My issue is not them being black female spies, but with them not being visually distinctive enough. All of the other super spy characters either have costumes or easily distinguishable visual ques.
    Etta is a field agent with a butch wardrobe. Waller wear suits and high heels. I think they're fine.
    ConnEr Kent flies. ConnOr Hawke has a bow. Batman's kid is named DamiAn.

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  7. #7
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    A fundamental issue here is that some of these characters have suffered from so many reboots and reimaginings over time, but the primary way to fix it is to do a new version of the character.



    For Etta Candy I've long been of the opinion that Rucka did a huge mistake in tying Etta Candy (and Steve Trevor) so strongly to the military-intelligence complex. I'd solve that thing by having both Etta (and Steve) quit the military in disgust, start doing something else, and at least Etta becoming much happier as a result. While I can agree with BohemiaDrinker's sentiment, Etta Candy was never intended as and should not be written as Waller-lite.

    I'm not sure different situations work as a simple answer, especially when it comes to the legacy characters (in this case Gardner and Baz, both being Lanterns). Space is fundamental to the idea of being a Lantern, and the different situations and environments should come from the character in itself, not something tacked on afterward.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  8. #8
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    Don't tweak them. Just get rid of them. No matter how much you tweak them, people are always going to have their minds made up about which character is lesser and who is not. Hal, Kyle, Guy, Simon are pretty much the same character to me. Vic Sage is useless when you have someone like Batman. Mia and Stephanie can change costumes and no one would notice.
    Last edited by Raijin; 05-14-2019 at 01:55 AM.
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  9. #9
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BohemiaDrinker View Post
    Etta is a field agent with a butch wardrobe. Waller wear suits and high heels. I think they're fine.
    Agreed. If artists stick with the more butch look with the severe military Mohawk with freckles, Etta and Waller are easily distinguishable visually. Unfortunately, I have already seen Etta’s look and demeanor start to slide towards Waller lite and those freckles seem to have disappeared. I don’t think Waller is just suits and high heels though. She wears whatever is appropriate for the situation she’s in.

  10. #10
    It sucks to be right BohemiaDrinker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    Agreed. If artists stick with the more butch look with the severe military Mohawk with freckles, Etta and Waller are easily distinguishable visually. Unfortunately, I have already seen Etta’s look and demeanor start to slide towards Waller lite and those freckles seem to have disappeared. I don’t think Waller is just suits and high heels though. She wears whatever is appropriate for the situation she’s in.
    So... draw them properly? XD
    ConnEr Kent flies. ConnOr Hawke has a bow. Batman's kid is named DamiAn.

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  11. #11
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BohemiaDrinker View Post
    So... draw them properly? XD
    There’s always that, but, as has been pointed out by your favorite guy, there are too many comics being published and not enough talent to keep them all at the same caliber of quality. Maybe scaling back the number of comics published will help artists and editors from inevitably letting these kinds of details slip.

  12. #12
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    Well there are two characters for whom I have an idea of how to differentiate them: Tora Olafsdotter aka Ice and Sigrid Nansen aka Icemaiden.

    The former is a member of a tribe of Norsemen with magical ice powers. The latter is a metahuman with ice powers.

    Since Tora is a magic/mysticism based character, I'd just play that up and deal with ice creatures from Norse myth.

    Sigrid is a metahuman so making her an expert on metahuman biology would work. Maybe give her a place on Checkmate.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    A fundamental issue here is that some of these characters have suffered from so many reboots and reimaginings over time, but the primary way to fix it is to do a new version of the character.



    For Etta Candy I've long been of the opinion that Rucka did a huge mistake in tying Etta Candy (and Steve Trevor) so strongly to the military-intelligence complex. I'd solve that thing by having both Etta (and Steve) quit the military in disgust, start doing something else, and at least Etta becoming much happier as a result. While I can agree with BohemiaDrinker's sentiment, Etta Candy was never intended as and should not be written as Waller-lite.

    I'm not sure different situations work as a simple answer, especially when it comes to the legacy characters (in this case Gardner and Baz, both being Lanterns). Space is fundamental to the idea of being a Lantern, and the different situations and environments should come from the character in itself, not something tacked on afterward.
    Is she really Waller-lite? I mean, she tends to have a better relationship with superheroes than Waller tends to.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bored at 3:00AM View Post
    Agreed. If artists stick with the more butch look with the severe military Mohawk with freckles, Etta and Waller are easily distinguishable visually. Unfortunately, I have already seen Etta’s look and demeanor start to slide towards Waller lite and those freckles seem to have disappeared. I don’t think Waller is just suits and high heels though. She wears whatever is appropriate for the situation she’s in.
    That they look somewhat similar right now is not that big a deal to me. More important is the way that Etta's personality has been changed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Is she (Etta Candy - ed) really Waller-lite? I mean, she tends to have a better relationship with superheroes than Waller tends to.
    There are differences, but Rucka set modern Etta Candy on the path to being a big, driven, capable, and black woman in the military-intelligence complex, directing covert teams handling metahuman problems. Wilson latched onto this (probably because she decided to really continue from Rucka's run), and made her a bit more focused on protecting national interests or international stability.

    So I think Waller-lite is a fair assessment. She's not a Waller clone, but the way Etta talks and acts in Wonder Woman #60 could easily be imagined as being Waller instead.
    «Speaking generally, it is because of the desire of the tragic poets for the marvellous that so varied and inconsistent an account of Medea has been given out» (Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History [4.56.1])

  14. #14
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    I don think that it is in case of Etta Candy and Amanda Waller really a big problem. Since they belong to different franchises and hardly ever appear in the same book.

  15. #15
    Obsessed & Compelled Bored at 3:00AM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aahz View Post
    I don think that it is in case of Etta Candy and Amanda Waller really a big problem. Since they belong to different franchises and hardly ever appear in the same book.
    The thing is I'd like to see Etta appear more in the larger DCU. The WW book tends to be too isolated for my tastes. Etta Candy's an interesting character and I'd like to see Waller and her meet at some point. However, unless they make sure the two are distinct enough from each other, that probably won't happen. I would like to see her grow beyond the tired "black best friend" role and become someone who has connections beyond Diana and Steve, who I'd also like to see more of in the DCU.

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