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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Default Shared universe for titles - the downsides

    I know we've had several discussion on whether COIE ultimately ended up being a mistake or not and why or not that was the case. But then I started thinking about the different characters and them sharing a universe. Obviously, there was the JSA back in the day. But I admit I'm really talking about more since the '50s.

    For me there are so many advantages that I can't say it's a mistake. I thought a lot of people would feel that way, so I didn't title the thread as such. But I did want to discuss some of the downsides.

    Firstly, of course, is continuity. It's something really noticeable in more recent years, even if it's an older problem. Different writers will say different things happened. Stronger editorial is the solution, I think, but when characters may show up in so many books that happens. The second is probably use of a character the primary writer doesn't approve of or that undercuts their characterization. I believe I heard something about an alleged threesome that Simone went out of her way to refute in BoP, but I haven't read the story. Third is the sheer number of characters. I heard that long ago Galactus invaded, and the Avengers were trapped so they couldn't fight him so the story made sense. That sounded brilliant to me. But the world's gotten too big to trap all the other heroes so the ones in one title can fight alone. Obviously, we can suspend disbelief, but it's a bit annoying. Even worse when they give weak explanations as to why others aren't there instead of just not mentioning it. Longer events (taking months instead of hours) make it worse and more untenable. And, of course, there's the competition between characters. Fans want to know who's strongest, smartest, fastest, best, etc. And some writers will definitely diminish other heroes to fluff the feathers on their own. Not a fan.

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member Lee Stone's Avatar
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    I think continuity can be a problem when it involves multiple titles.
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  3. #3
    Astonishing Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    What do you mean by 'shared universe?' Are we talking about Batman and Superman teaming up like has been going on since forever... or are we talking post COIE where tehy were combining multiple univerese all crammed into one? I'm a fan of the first. Continuity can be iffy, but for the most part, I don't have a problem with people sharing a world. If they have a decent editor and the writers keep their ego's in check then it's a glorious thing.

    The second is a lot trickier. i think a lot of characters suffer by trying to thrive in TOO BIG a universe. For example Alan Scott was never a 'second-class' lantern... or the 'old' lantern... he simply was THE Green Lantern and saved the world with the ring that did anything... Same as Hal. having them both in the universe.. it gets crowded and one gets pushed to the side or diminished. Same with Captain Marvel. He was literally the Superman of his universe. The #1 toughest, strongest, smartest hero... but put him in a world that already has a Superman... and he's off to the side to wilt quietly. Characters that were created for teh world work fine... but trying to retcon in ocharacters with their own histroy and acheivements doesn't work as smoothly.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    What do you mean by 'shared universe?' Are we talking about Batman and Superman teaming up like has been going on since forever..
    Well, it actually hasn't been going since forever (though a very long time), which is why I'm bringing it up. Originally, heroes were very much each in their own story, without influencing each other. As I said, I wouldn't undo having them interact, I think more good than bad comes of it. I just want to discuss the downsides that come with them sharing space, and see if anyone else perceives any.

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member sifighter's Avatar
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    Depends on the quality of the writing. I’ve seen plenty of great series, both ongoing, events, minis, elseworld, and tv series that have managed to use a shared universe to its best extent by having story elements and characters come together, not to mention we have some characters that can come together and have fun interactions, best example I think is Jon and Damian.

    Unfortunately not every writer is great at it so sometimes you get a less then stellar story that’s clunky with all kinds of baggage. Like Hell Arisen for example, it’s not a poorly told story and it’s decent enough build up to Death Metal but it’s a mixed bag of stories from all over the place like Year of the villain, Infected/secret six, and even Multiversity. That can hamper readers because you can’t just pick it up to read you have to have a clear understanding of all that’s going on and what we are going into.

    It all depends on quality and accessibility of reading in that case.
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  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Basic beginner storytelling lesson I often heard is "keep it simple, stupid" so I hold that, if the world is really too big, the history too long, there are too many characters and too many writers who can't or don't want to handle it and keep it consistent, then it's time to stop.

    That can mean many things. A reboot. Downsizing by focusing on the most important or best-selling characters. Divide them to different Earths where they assign different teams who only meet once a decade for a crossover.

    Whichever it is, consistency is the priority, and if it means the writers feel shackled because they have to read a history of a character or keeping tabs with other writers, deal with it, you're not working on your personal work, this is corporate comic.

    Now... we're talking about a corporate whose motivation is money, not the quality of the story or universe, run by people on who knows who basis and want to please everyone at once (impossible) when they're not affected by their own personal tastes. They're not gonna stop, so I'm the one who stopped reading.
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 03-28-2020 at 12:42 PM.

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member phantom1592's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Restingvoice View Post
    Whichever it is, consistency is the priority, and if it means the writers feel shackled because they have to read a history of a character or keeping tabs with other writers, deal with it, you're not working on your personal work, this is corporate comic.

    Now... we're talking about a corporate whose motivation is money, not the quality of the story or universe, run by people on who knows who basis and want to please everyone at once (impossible) when they're not affected by their own personal tastes. They're not gonna stop, so I'm the one who stopped reading.
    I honestly don't have any problem with that at all! I REALLY think 'The writer needs to read a history of the character' should be the #1 requirement for working on a character. I remember when I was in high school, the writers took a backseat to the characters. People followed characters because they loved the characters. Now days... it feels like the writers are the celebrities. They write whatever the story they feel like telling... regardless if it's in character for the person he's writing. Bendis was a master of that. 'in the old days' creative teams could come and go, and sure some where better than others, but the character still felt consistent. That's how it should be. If one person writes Spider-Man and another guy writes Spider-Man... they should both look, act and feel like Spider-man.

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    A main character of one series having to be changed just so he can contrast with another main character of different series. This is one of the main issues i have with shared universes.

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    They write whatever the story they feel like telling... regardless if it's in character for the person he's writing. Bendis was a master of that.
    King. HiC. He even said so. I mean, there's definitely blame to go on Editorial, too, but still...

    A main character of one series having to be changed just so he can contrast with another main character of different series. This is one of the main issues i have with shared universes.
    Yes. And, for me a biggie is a character losing IQ, morality, or competence points so another hero can look more impressive. Hate that so very much.

  10. #10
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    Cost! Sometimes I think wouldn't it be good to just read one title of a character you love, and one title only. That character's history and supporting cast, all contained in one on-going series. No crossovers, no tie-ins and so on. But admit love a shared universe, just don't like having to purchase another title that I don't follow to carry on reading a storyline. Have the story run through one title. If the reader is interested in other characters they then have the choice to explore. Just hate being forced to purchase, especially when its done to prop-up an ailing title. Feel cheated. Nowadays too many line wide events, so event fatigue occurs. Guess 'Batman Universe' is a great example how to treat fans, self-contained mini-series which uses the DCU. It seems one for the fans who already know their DC, but fun enough for casual buyer. It really is best from Bendis since coming to DC.
    Last edited by Franny6422; 03-29-2020 at 10:55 AM.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, there's the price, but honestly, that's more of a problem for people who want to collect as they came out and for DC themselves. I'm not able to follow everything monthly but I can follow slowly with trades, one by one, maybe one trade a month. Much slower than DC's output, but I don't mind. Spoiler's a problem, but I follow solicitations anyway, and DC likes to spoil things in their news, so it's all the same.

    It's more of a problem for DC because not many people can follow everything monthly, not everyone wants to follow it either and just pick up their favorite characters, so they won't get the numbers they want.
    Last edited by Restingvoice; 03-29-2020 at 10:10 AM.

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    The biggest problem I see is if you do a really good version of one character but a really bad version of another character. Take the DCAU for instance. It has probably the best Batman ever made but their Superman was nerfed to the point of being useless. New 52 had a lot of examples of these (cough) Superboy (cough)
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  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by superduperman View Post
    The biggest problem I see is if you do a really good version of one character but a really bad version of another character. Take the DCAU for instance. It has probably the best Batman ever made but their Superman was nerfed to the point of being useless.
    For me, Batman started well, but went downhill in the DCAU. Got too Batjerk and too....not quite Batgod, at least not when I was watching (quit before it was over), but too damn "alpha" compared to all the other JL guys. They often weren't written as his equals, his peers. Superman especially bore the brunt of that (though I seem to recall Nightwing getting trashed over on Bats' show, but it's been a while). Worst of all, he had to the "right" on fundamental points of disagreement and so forth.

    Didn't care for Superman's show, and so didn't watch much of it.

  14. #14
    It sucks to be right BohemiaDrinker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tzigone View Post
    I believe I heard something about an alleged threesome that Simone went out of her way to refute in BoP, but I haven't read the story.
    To clear this up if I remember correctly:

    Back in Cry for Justice Ollie mentioned about a threesome between Jordan, Huntress and Lady Blackhawk (because every lady wants Hal you see? ). Simone didn't like that, made clear publicly that she didn't, and James Robinson came forward and apologized, also publicly. IIRC, Simone had went trough a lot to undo the "slut" label people had attached to Huntress (and I doin't understand why that happened in the first place, but then again, americans are way more uptight than I'm used to), and Robinson used both as throwaway characters to make a point about how Jordan is a man's man.

    There's a later line in BoP implying that in that episode Jordan was drunk, unable to perform and, even if that was the case, he wouldn't get lucky anyway,
    ConnEr Kent flies. ConnOr Hawke has a bow. Batman's kid is named DamiAn.

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  15. #15
    Astonishing Member Adekis's Avatar
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    I was thinking about this - a lot of major Batman stories involve something huge happening to Gotham, and for some reason, it's just Batman and the Bat-Family with their backs to the wall taking on half a dozen of the most dangerous criminals in the world - and I just imagine like Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern, or someone like that, showing up and just one-shotting Batman's entire opposition with the power of having powers.

    No Man's Land, nobody helps Bruce clean up, and it's totally forced. The Justice League could reduce clean-up by months. But the books come up basically with some contrived-ass reason for things to continue as if there is no Justice League, or even any larger superhero community who could help, beyond Gotham characters.

    Because honestly, there's pretty much not a Justice League, not the way most Batman stories are written.
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