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  1. #1
    Incredible Member Primal Slayer's Avatar
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    Default Metahumans treatment within the DC universe

    Metahumans are practically DC's version of Mutants, born with a metagene that grants them special powers.

    Some of the most notable Metas are: Black Canary, Black Lightning, Plastic Man, Fire, Killer Frost

    How do you feel DC handles Metas? Should there be more? Less? Should they have a similar story where Metahumans are under scrutiny and forced to possible register?

    Should there be something that differentiates them from the likes of Flash/Superman/WW/J'onn? Or do you consider them Metahumans?

    Barry Allen for instance is usually granted his powers by mixing chemicals and being hit with Lightning thus changing his molecular structure and depending on the origin tying him to the Speedforce which also grants him his speed.

  2. #2
    Extraordinary Member Phoenixx9's Avatar
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    Maybe the DC Metas are treated better in general because DC Earth tends to respect and treat its heroes better than does Marvel Earth?

    Or maybe because there are so few metas? Or their "Meta-ness" is not known, overtly stated, etc, so they just fall into the general "super hero" or "super villain" class without a more definite distinction?

    Or maybe it is because there is no very powerful ultra-maniacal villain trying to lead all the evil metas against the humans and obviously stating to the public that metas are better and that they should subjugate and destroy the humans?
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  3. #3
    Leftbrownie Alpha's Avatar
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    I never really liked the concept of metahumans. Mutants unto themselves are already a fraught concept in the Marvel Universe. Their place in society doesn't make sense unless you make all mutations into forms of disability, which solves the "mutant metaphor" as a stand in for the real world community of the disabled and various real mutations, and explains why people would arbor that specific kind of fear and hatred for the x-gene, since yeah it gives you powers, but you are never able to leave a normal life since you either lost use of your legs, or you have a weak spine, or you are blind and death, or something like that.

    Metahumans in the DC Universe don't adhere to the metaphor for the discriminated, which makes them more consistent, but they take away one of the coolest aspects of super hero stories, how the hero got his powers.

    Waking up one day to find out you have powers isn't nearly as cool as being badly burned by a terrorist attack and then having a criminal Kingpin offer you a prosthetic skin that makes you invulnerable, but also forces you to do jobs for him from time to time, even though you are trying to be a hero and stop crime.

    So I prefer the idea that metahuman is just an explanation for how humans can survive fatal accidents at times and aquire super powers. At least that way their origin story still has a dramatic moment where everything went to hell and fate intervened. But you don't even need "metagenes" for this. Just create a supernatural deity in the universe that has a sinister plan for the future of humanity and from time to time this deity intervenes in tragedies only to create even more chaos via super powers.

  4. #4
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    I've always seen Metahumans as DC's blanket term for a superhuman character e.g. Superman, Aquaman and Reverse Flash.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    I never really liked the concept of metahumans. Mutants unto themselves are already a fraught concept in the Marvel Universe. Their place in society doesn't make sense unless you make all mutations into forms of disability, which solves the "mutant metaphor" as a stand in for the real world community of the disabled and various real mutations, and explains why people would arbor that specific kind of fear and hatred for the x-gene, since yeah it gives you powers, but you are never able to leave a normal life since you either lost use of your legs, or you have a weak spine, or you are blind and death, or something like that.

    Metahumans in the DC Universe don't adhere to the metaphor for the discriminated, which makes them more consistent, but they take away one of the coolest aspects of super hero stories, how the hero got his powers.

    Waking up one day to find out you have powers isn't nearly as cool as being badly burned by a terrorist attack and then having a criminal Kingpin offer you a prosthetic skin that makes you invulnerable, but also forces you to do jobs for him from time to time, even though you are trying to be a hero and stop crime.

    So I prefer the idea that metahuman is just an explanation for how humans can survive fatal accidents at times and aquire super powers. At least that way their origin story still has a dramatic moment where everything went to hell and fate intervened. But you don't even need "metagenes" for this. Just create a supernatural deity in the universe that has a sinister plan for the future of humanity and from time to time this deity intervenes in tragedies only to create even more chaos via super powers.
    Metagenes don't stop that type of story from happening. They're just one of several ways people acquire superpowers in the DC universe.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Korath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenixx9 View Post
    Maybe the DC Metas are treated better in general because DC Earth tends to respect and treat its heroes better than does Marvel Earth?

    Or maybe because there are so few metas? Or their "Meta-ness" is not known, overtly stated, etc, so they just fall into the general "super hero" or "super villain" class without a more definite distinction?

    Or maybe it is because there is no very powerful ultra-maniacal villain trying to lead all the evil metas against the humans and obviously stating to the public that metas are better and that they should subjugate and destroy the humans?
    Not having meta-humans calling themselves homo superior certainly helps avoid some very bad images in the common people.

    Also, metagene needs an exterior event to quick in, unlike the X-Gene which seems to awaken automatically at puberty at the latest. Basically, on DC you can have the meta-gene and because you don't live in the old US of A, you won't have much opportunities to wake it up, since most of the events happen there. Of course, we know that it's possible to create a whole lot of meta in one go, as seen with Gnomon's plan in Batman and the Signal, but usually speaking, metas are rare, and they often lack extremely powerful abilities (most metas are closer to Duke Thomas' range than Black Lightning or Geo-Force, basically).

    And of course there is the Forces' users (Speed, Strength, Sage, etc.) who may or may not be metas themselves to unlock the access to the Force they wield.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Primal Slayer View Post
    Metahumans are practically DC's version of Mutants, born with a metagene that grants them special powers.

    Some of the most notable Metas are: Black Canary, Black Lightning, Plastic Man, Fire, Killer Frost

    How do you feel DC handles Metas? Should there be more? Less? Should they have a similar story where Metahumans are under scrutiny and forced to possible register?

    Should there be something that differentiates them from the likes of Flash/Superman/WW/J'onn? Or do you consider them Metahumans?

    Barry Allen for instance is usually granted his powers by mixing chemicals and being hit with Lightning thus changing his molecular structure and depending on the origin tying him to the Speedforce which also grants him his speed.

    By that logic, Captain Comet is a Meta.
    Pull List:
    Marvel: Spider-Man:Renew Your Vows, Champions, Marvel Two-in-One, Fantastic Four (2018), Avengers (2018), Mr and Mrs X, Ironheart
    DC: Not much these days, but being cautiously optimistic for Shazam! (2018-2019) and Young Justice

  8. #8
    Leftbrownie Alpha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Metagenes don't stop that type of story from happening. They're just one of several ways people acquire superpowers in the DC universe.
    Most definitely, but it's a crutch that writers shouldn't use at all. Black Lightning should have a cool and meaningful backstory for his powers, like Luke Cage does. Black Canary should also have one. All the Spider-man villains have an origin story for their powers, seems a shame that even these heroes don't.

  9. #9
    BANNED Killerbee911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korath View Post
    Not having meta-humans calling themselves homo superior certainly helps avoid some very bad images in the common people..
    Or Maybe DC has superhero group that actually take up for ALL superpower people instead of hanging them out the dry

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    Most definitely, but it's a crutch that writers shouldn't use at all. Black Lightning should have a cool and meaningful backstory for his powers, like Luke Cage does. Black Canary should also have one. All the Spider-man villains have an origin story for their powers, seems a shame that even these heroes don't.
    Crutch? You did the same thing. You suggested that basically that everyone gets their power by accident via supernatural deity. Which makes nobody origin meaningful because everyone is the same after awhile.

    Individual origin stories get playout after a while and it is hard to think up unique good ones there only some much you can new stuff you can do. A generic system that give allows people to get freely powers which is important because heroes & VILLAINS all of them need powers and allows unique origin stories to stand out. This is a crude way explaining it but imagine for some reason the hottest person ever decide to hook up with you and you go to tell friends this amazing story but before you can tell your story, your tells a story about how he accidently hook up with hottest person, Then next friend walks in and he tells the story about he accidently hook up with hottest person ever and this happens couple more times before you can tell your story. All of sudden your story doesn't seem that amazing now? Right?

    Your powers don't need a back story if a character has a good backstory, Black Canary being bitten by a radioactive canary does not make her a better character, Black Lighting getting struck by radioactive lighting does not make him a better character. It just makes them lesser version of something you saw before and character like Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler are just fine without origin story for their powers. Everybody getting power via accident is just as "generic" as people being born with powers.
    Last edited by Killerbee911; 05-16-2021 at 04:50 AM.

  10. #10
    Leftbrownie Alpha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Killerbee911 View Post
    Crutch? You did the same thing. You suggested that basically that everyone gets their power by accident via supernatural deity. Which makes nobody origin meaningful because everyone is the same after awhile.
    The metagene is commonly used to explain how people can get super powers from surviving accidents. What I was saying is that there are other ways to explain how humans in DC universe sometimes get powers from surviving accidents, without using a weird gene that for some reason gives you laser eyes or flight or super strength at random. One possible explanation for why logic doesn't apply to traumatic accidents in the DC universe could be that a deity like Nabu or Spectre or Phantom Stranger could from time to time choose to save people's lives and imbue them with those powers. This doesn't even have to be something that the characters themselves are aware of. But I would still rather give each character a unique backstory instead.

    And most of these characters had powers long before Invasion (the storyline that introduced the metagene in the 80s). All of us could come up with a unique origin story for their powers that enriches the backstory of these characters and adds to their mythos.

    Let's take Black Lightning for example. He is an olympic athlete that wants to serve his community and comes back home as a superhero for his neighborhood and a school principal by day.

    What if when Jefferson Pierce was growing up he had a Doc Brown/ Marty Mcfly type relationship with a neglected black scientist in his neighbourhood that wanted to empower his community. That scientist was building an experimental battery in his garage that could power the entire city district for decades to come. A 12 year old Jefferson Pierce works as his assistant and learns from this scientist the idea of black pride. As the project goes on the scientist discovers that this new type of energy he is channelling in his garage can interact with our own bio-electricity. He is a creating a "black lightning" that that can heal and strengthen the human body. When he finally works out the kinks of this incredible battery, he is emprisioned by the government and his creation is stolen.

    But Jefferson Pierce, his kid assistant, kept a mini version of the battery for himself. As the years go on Jefferson secretly uses the battery to heal people from the crime and police violence in his district, and to give electritcity to his friends when they can't pay the electric bill. Eventually the battery dies out and stops working. It doesn't matter anymore, because from prolonged exposure to it Jefferson gained that bio electricity within his own body. He is Black Lightning. And you can keep everything else about his origin story as well.

    Black Canary and all those other characters could also easily have their backstory revised to include a meaningfull story behind how they got their powers. Maybe the "Canary Cry" power comes from a high piece of tech in the form of a necklace / collar that Dinah wears. A present from a rich man she once loved that respected her work as a superhero but couldn't be in a relationship with her. That necklace/ collar could be passed down from mother to daughter as a family heirloom.
    Last edited by Alpha; 05-16-2021 at 06:21 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    The metagene is commonly used to explain how people can get super powers from surviving accidents. What I was saying is that there are other ways to explain how humans in DC universe sometimes get powers from surviving accidents, without using a weird gene that for some reason gives you laser eyes or flight or super strength at random. One possible explanation for why logic doesn't apply to traumatic accidents in the DC universe could be that a deity like Nabu or Spectre or Phantom Stranger could from time to time choose to save people's lives and imbue them with those powers. This doesn't even have to be something that the characters themselves are aware of. But I would still rather give each character a unique backstory instead.

    And most of these characters had powers long before Invasion (the storyline that introduced the metagene in the 80s). All of us could come up with a unique origin story for their powers that enriches the backstory of these characters and adds to their mythos.

    Let's take Black Lightning for example. He is an olympic athlete that wants to serve his community and comes back home as a superhero for his neighborhood and a school principal by day.

    What if when Jefferson Pierce was growing up he had a Doc Brown/ Marty Mcfly type relationship with a neglected black scientist in his neighbourhood that wanted to empower his community. That scientist was building an experimental battery in his garage that could power the entire city district for decades to come. A 12 year old Jefferson Pierce works as his assistant and learns from this scientist the idea of black pride. As the project goes on the scientist discovers that this new type of energy he is channelling in his garage can interact with our own bio-electricity. He is a creating a "black lightning" that that can heal and strengthen the human body. When he finally works out the kinks of this incredible battery, he is emprisioned by the government and his creation is stolen.

    But Jefferson Pierce, his kid assistant, kept a mini version of the battery for himself. As the years go on Jefferson secretly uses the battery to heal people from the crime and police violence in his district, and to give electritcity to his friends when they can't pay the electric bill. Eventually the battery dies out and stops working. It doesn't matter anymore, because from prolonged exposure to it Jefferson gained that bio electricity within his own body. He is Black Lightning. And you can keep everything else about his origin story as well.

    Black Canary and all those other characters could also easily have their backstory revised to include a meaningfull story behind how they got their powers. Maybe the "Canary Cry" power comes from a high piece of tech in the form of a necklace / collar that Dinah wears. A present from a rich man she once loved that respected her work as a superhero but couldn't be in a relationship with her. That necklace/ collar could be passed down from mother to daughter as a family heirloom.
    They have unique backstories already. The metagene isn't the only source of powers and even among the heroes with metagenes, their backstories vary. Black Lightning's origin isn't just how he got his powers but why he became a superhero in the first place. When you start getting obsessed with making origins that "add to the mythos" you often get unnecessarily convoluted stories that just seem more like jokes than anything else.

  12. #12
    Leftbrownie Alpha's Avatar
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    Do you think my idea for how Black lightning got his powers is a bad idea? Did you dislike my idea about Dinah Drake being a normal vigilante and eventually getting a necklace / collar from a lost love that she turned into a family heirloom to be passed down from mother to daughter, and that necklace being the source of the canary cry?

    Do you think these ideas hurt those two characters more than they help? If you really hate those ideas then I guess I can't argue with you. But if you did like them then what makes you think the same thing couldn't be done with all those other characters in a way that enhances their backstory without making them too complicated? I totaly agree that there's more to a character's origin than how they got their powers (case in point Spider-man) but I definitely think that having an explanation for their powers usually leads to interesting plotlines and supporting characters and thematic weight.

    Fire (Beatriz Costa) already had a cool story behind her powers before the metagene existed. So did Plastic Man.
    Last edited by Alpha; 05-16-2021 at 02:21 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightning63 View Post
    I've always seen Metahumans as DC's blanket term for a superhuman character e.g. Superman, Aquaman and Reverse Flash.
    Those are not metahuman
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    An experiment gone wrong

  14. #14
    Extraordinary Member Robotman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightning63 View Post
    I've always seen Metahumans as DC's blanket term for a superhuman character e.g. Superman, Aquaman and Reverse Flash.
    Yeah, meta-human is a blanket term for every person who has superpowers, but there are also people born with a meta-gene. Something that can allow them to hyper adapt to trauma. It's a fun explanation for why superheroes are created from being in a terrible lab accident, doused in strange chemicals, hit with cosmic radiation, or even caught in the blast of a gamma bomb.

    There are some unfortunate people whose meta-gene turns them into monsters in order to survive the accident. Those are the ones who either become villains or heroes who are persecuted for how they look.

    I don't think metas are necessarily persecuted like mutants, but there have definitely been times that they are exploited. A big plot of the Young Justice show has been evil organizations trying to trigger a person's meta-gene in order to control them as weapons. Amanda Waller has made a pretty good living doing that.

    The whole X Men concept would make a lot more sense if they didn't live in a world full of super powered beings. Though mutants often have the misfortune of looking different or even scary to the average dumb fearful human.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    Do you think my idea for how Black lightning got his powers is a bad idea?
    Yes.


    Did you dislike my idea about Dinah Drake being a normal vigilante and eventually getting a necklace / collar from a lost love that she turned into a family heirloom to be passed down from mother to daughter, and that necklace being the source of the canary cry?
    No.

    Do you think these ideas hurt those two characters more than they help?
    Yes. At best they add nothing of value, at worst they overcomplicate the characters' origins. More often than not, writers confuse an origin with characterization and I think you're making the same mistake here.


    Fire (Beatriz Costa) already had a cool story behind her powers before the metagene existed. So did Plastic Man.
    Let's agree to disagree on that.

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