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  1. #1
    Mighty Member Lokimaru's Avatar
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    Default Superman and The Butterfly Effect

    I've noticed over the years that some Superman fans want his present to determine his Past and not his past to determine his future. At present we still have no origin Story for the current Superman but if on we was to surface it would be one determined by his end goal. That's not very organic in my eyes. As people may know I was a fan of the New 52 version of the character and whilst some of his future told of his past I thought they did a good job with it in not sugar coating things but it was still the future determining the past. If I am being honest I can't think of a Single Superman Story even the elseworlds that doesn't do this cause most stories are written from an outline and the writer knows where he wants the character to end up. Injustice started with dictator Superman and didn't even try to make the character Sympathetic as one would naturally try to do in such a scenario. All the sympathy went to Batman even though he was constantly escalating things. That and redeeming Harley. It's like future Superman is set in stone and the past just needs to catch up as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

  2. #2
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    *shrug*

    It goes back to the beginning. In the comics his origin wasn't an origin, it was exposition for the sake of context. Krypton and all that were generally approached from the perspective of being his background vs being the beginning of a larger story. The easiest contrast to me is how Spider-Man started from right before the spider bite and grew from there.

    Obviously there's a ton of stuff to like about "early years" and origins have really taken off as easily digestible and accessible looks at characters. "Year One" as a sub genre is such a big thing in part because you BOGO on a Gordon story for Batman, a Lex for Superman, etc. But as an idea I don't really like it. I don't like putting extraordinary circumstances into the past for the sake of giving the present or future events more weight. So Pa descending from a Civil War badass is great, but like... teenage Pa meeting Jor El or something stinks. I'm not even crazy about trying to force the Legion into the narrative tbh.
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  3. #3
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    As far as his origin goes, I don't think they know what to do. It's no secret fans are kind of sick of them at this point. My suggestion would be to solicit ideas from fans. See what they want. We're the ones who will be reading the books, maybe it's time to let us have a say in the direction they go in. Everyone has one or two things they care about the most. Maybe it's time to find out what those are. If anyone complains DC can just say "Hey, we polled the fans and this is what they told us they wanted."
    Now listen to me, Clark! This great strength of yours--you've got to hide it from people or they'll be scared of you!

  4. #4
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    Superman has pretty much had his life mapped out since the Silver Age began. No other super-hero had concurrent titles set at two different points in their life. There was no ongoing "adventures of Batman when he was a boy" or a series dedicated to Wally's Kid Flash career with new stories told alongside his adult Flash adventures. We might get an occasional flashback tale of Pre-Batman Bruce Wayne or Reed & Sue Richards early romance, but nothing that ran for years. So Superboy stories from 1945 on were setting up the character appearing in Superman/Action comics that came out the same month. By the 1960's Superman had more of his life detailed on panel than any other character.

    And the old "Imaginary stories" that frequently appeared in the Supertitles seemed to follow a very precise formula where no matter what wacky events were required most tales seemed to end with the same status quo set up- Clark working at the Planet with Lois and Superman using his powers as a super-hero. Krypton doesn't blow-up- we still have Kal saving the Kents (remotely from Krypton), Krypto gaining super-powers (freak accident) and Lois arriving on Krypton (Earth has interstellar travel). Kal-El encounters Gold-K before arriving on Earth- well Lex develops a formula to make himself Superboy, the Kents are killed in a hold-up leaving Clark to be raised by a rich uncle and become Batman, and by the story's end Lex has transferred the powers to Clark who becomes Superman. History just seemed in almost every tale to reinforce that Kal-El was destined to have the same supporting cast and super-career.

    Even after Crisis wiped out that era as continuity, it was still the ideas that writers had come to associate with Superman. And a lot of the Post-Crisis back story was left blank since Byrne was blindsided by editorial's desire for an established Superman rather than one just starting out. So much of his past was either assumed to be similar to Pre-Crisis (JLA career, life in Metropolis) or created later as stories that needed to fit his already established present.

  5. #5
    Savior of the Universe Flash Gordon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superduperman View Post
    As far as his origin goes, I don't think they know what to do. It's no secret fans are kind of sick of them at this point. My suggestion would be to solicit ideas from fans. See what they want. We're the ones who will be reading the books, maybe it's time to let us have a say in the direction they go in. Everyone has one or two things they care about the most. Maybe it's time to find out what those are. If anyone complains DC can just say "Hey, we polled the fans and this is what they told us they wanted."
    Polling fans for a Choose Your Own Origin is a bad move. That's not how you get a masterpiece like BATMAN YEAR ONE.
    Follow your inner moonlight, do not hide the madness. -Ginsberg

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flash Gordon View Post
    Polling fans for a Choose Your Own Origin is a bad move. That's not how you get a masterpiece like BATMAN YEAR ONE.
    I think if we had gotten a Year One style origin for Superman, it probably wouldn't have been rebooted so easily. YO lasted as long as it did just because it was such a good story. It was also adaptable to just about any version of Batman you want. Superman is much more complex with more moving parts than Batman. Was he a Superboy? Was he a member of the Legion? Are the Kents still alive into his career as Superman? What age did his powers kick in? When did he meet Luthor? These are all questions that an origin would have to address. It might be in the best interest of DC to find out which one of these things the fans want so they can incorporate them into the comics. Batman is a fairly easy character to get right. That's probably one of the main reasons why DC likes to use him so much. Superman is a divisive figure. Maybe it's time to sit down with fans and hash some of this out.
    Now listen to me, Clark! This great strength of yours--you've got to hide it from people or they'll be scared of you!

  7. #7
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    From 2000 to 2012, he got nearly a dozen origins and “year one” stories. I think they’re avoiding them because taking any one side would alienate 70% of the fan base and a new take would ALSO alienate 50% of the fan base.

    It’s probably for the best that it’s a hazy version of Johns’ Secret Origins with other stuff tacked on as needed.

    We got his overall history during Reborn.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by superduperman View Post
    I think if we had gotten a Year One style origin for Superman, it probably wouldn't have been rebooted so easily. YO lasted as long as it did just because it was such a good story. It was also adaptable to just about any version of Batman you want. Superman is much more complex with more moving parts than Batman. Was he a Superboy? Was he a member of the Legion? Are the Kents still alive into his career as Superman? What age did his powers kick in? When did he meet Luthor? These are all questions that an origin would have to address. It might be in the best interest of DC to find out which one of these things the fans want so they can incorporate them into the comics. Batman is a fairly easy character to get right. That's probably one of the main reasons why DC likes to use him so much. Superman is a divisive figure. Maybe it's time to sit down with fans and hash some of this out.
    Agreed.

    Its not that Batman hasn't had aspects of his origins retconned. Its just that those retcons have tended to prevail and have entered the popular consciousness as the definitive take on the character.

    For instance, few people are even aware of the fact that Alfred originally wasn't Bruce's surrogate father and only met him AFTER he started out as Batman! Or that Catwoman's original backstory revealed that she was an amnesiac airhostess. Or that Bruce Wayne was the original Robin when he was a teenager.

    With Superman, you have an endless cycle between whether or not he was Superboy, whether or not the Kents are alive or dead...even over whether or not he's 'Clark Kent' or 'Kal-El' first and foremost. His very identity and morality are up for grabs as far as interpretations go. And the divides between what different fans think Superman is or ought to be only grow deeper.

  9. #9
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Maybe that's due to the weird luck of most of those things just not being as loved. Like the alternative to growing up with Alfred got to die off whereas Superboy is about as popular as growing up and not being Superboy. Is anyone out there fighting for amnesiac Catwoman, or if the hooker thing is out is anyone sore?

    As far as identity and morality go: ten years before the Miller/Grant Batman was the Bob Haney Batman, whose subtle differencess in life produced a completely different character. Ten years before Byrne/Stern? Guys like Bates were virtually writing the same character by comparison, just through different circumstances. If I show you a Swan story from 1978 vs 1988 you would probably not be able to tell based on anything but page quality.

    When it comes to fan divides, all I can think of is this Op Ivy line: "I'm in this prison you built for you." If your favorite creators do Superman I don't think you'll really care about those details, just as a story you don't like can pop up anywhere. If they sat down with five fans they would get five different preferences based on something you could work through with any origin anyway, and then they would get angry letters from a sixth later.

  10. #10
    Mighty Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    At present we still have no origin Story for the current Superman but if on we was to surface it would be one determined by his end goal. That's not very organic in my eyes.
    I would argue that nothing written in the present about a character's past can ever be organic. It will always be through the lens of what we already have.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kuwagaton View Post
    Maybe that's due to the weird luck of most of those things just not being as loved. Like the alternative to growing up with Alfred got to die off whereas Superboy is about as popular as growing up and not being Superboy. Is anyone out there fighting for amnesiac Catwoman, or if the hooker thing is out is anyone sore?

    As far as identity and morality go: ten years before the Miller/Grant Batman was the Bob Haney Batman, whose subtle differencess in life produced a completely different character. Ten years before Byrne/Stern? Guys like Bates were virtually writing the same character by comparison, just through different circumstances. If I show you a Swan story from 1978 vs 1988 you would probably not be able to tell based on anything but page quality.

    When it comes to fan divides, all I can think of is this Op Ivy line: "I'm in this prison you built for you." If your favorite creators do Superman I don't think you'll really care about those details, just as a story you don't like can pop up anywhere. If they sat down with five fans they would get five different preferences based on something you could work through with any origin anyway, and then they would get angry letters from a sixth later.
    The bit about the tonal differences is fascinating. I never thought about it before, but tonally speaking, and even characterization-wise, Batman arguably went through a bigger shift Post-COIE than Superman. But somehow, these changes were embraced wholesale by virtually the entire fanbase and the public at large, while with Superman, the continuity changes and retcons that didn't really change the tone of the character much proved to be more divisive.

    Of course, it might just be that the Modern Age ushered in an age of darker storytelling for Batman that suited the character, whereas attempts to take Superman in a darker direction have been rejected by many fans, while keeping him as a lighter more optimistic character can be seen to be making him 'outdated' or 'unrelatable'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigone View Post
    I would argue that nothing written in the present about a character's past can ever be organic. It will always be through the lens of what we already have.
    Very true.

    Superboy is probably the earliest example of this. You basically had the fully-established Superman concepts of the later Golden Age and Silver Age 'backported' into Superman's history, essentially wiping out the original Siegal/Shuster version of the character from canon (well, at least up until Earth 2 was created and acknowledged those stories again).

    Barry Allen's parents being killed by Thawne when he was a child is probably the most literal application of this!

  12. #12
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    Yeah... if I've deviated from the OP it's really because statements like the one made by tgizone say it perfectly. In the first Action he goes from nameless baby to champion of justice in one page. So any interest generated has to stem from his final form. The old tagline for Superboy was "Superman when he was a boy." Peter, Dick, and Wally grew up on panel so each respective status quo doesn't have to factor into newer stories set earlier. Honestly I wish Superboy continued in his own continuity.

    Batman can be fun Adam West style or as the mean, almost Dredd like character from my childhood. But you say, typically close off his experience as a crimefighting teen goofball when you make him the modern way. His present day character varies too wildly for his "past" to hold steady. Meanwhile Superman has literally had anything shoehorned or subtracted and stayed pretty much the same guy. I've been tempted to ask the more Bat inclined about how they process discrepancies, but I guess the thing is that it's not really something they think about.

    My second DC guy is Katar Hol though and that... is a can of worms. All these other retroactive stories are pretty easy for me to swallow as a result.
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