Thursday, September 4, 2014

SHORTEST POST EVER?

After a long respite, my  IMAGINATION 201 writing workshop is coming to Kingston, New York in October.  Details are here.  Told you this was short!

157 comments:

  1. Rick here.

    Welcome back. I have a number of things to ask or comment about, but for now, I thought I'd start with the old--Phantom Stranger Futures End.

    You're right. It was a very well written and plotted story, while it tied up a number of older plot lines. The artwork also suited the mood and character. As ever, I have some additional comments:

    1. Why was Elena chosen as PS's ultimate "yin" to PS's "yang" when Cassandra Craft was the "yin" who survived after Elena moved on? Of all visages, she should be with her children. I can't imagine I'm the only one who noticed.

    2. I always thought that this Series 4 version of PS was really a prequel to Series 2, and it was nice to feel vindicated. I hope we see more of the Series 2 version in "Trinity of Sin", but I guess we'll find out.

    3. If I read (and re-read) the story correctly, the true origin of PS is not as Judas. Judas was simply a form which PS occupied while the character existed beforehand. I hope I'm right.

    4. Why would this most Judeo-Christian of characters be on a ferry adopted from Greek mythology which looks like a left-over from a Circle Line tour?

    5. There is an interesting undercurrent to the whole story: evil is intellectually stupid and good ("God") is a devious user who isn't much brighter. These cosmic beings couldn't figure out how some things would develop before they did?

    Sorry I'm not a suitable candidate for your workshop, but I might have need of your consulting services in the future. I hope you don't mind some questions about the writing and publishing end (later). I've developed a writer's bug, and am thinking about following up on it.

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    1. Rick: Could you email me via the address you used before? Something I want to talk to you about. JMD

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  2. I'd prefer not to dissect the story, Rick, and let you draw your own conclusions from what's on the page. That said, I'll address the Elena question...

    Elena's dialogue suggests that she was much more than just "Elena" in PS's life, that she played many roles over many lifetimes. Draw your own conclusions. As for Cassandra: We don't know how that relationship played out over the intervening five years (I have my theories and perhaps I'll have a chance to integrate them into the story in TRINITY OF SIN). Cassandra shows up in JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: FUTURE'S END in a surprising role, so I hope you check that out.

    If you're interested in my consulting work, jus shoot me an email at the address on the consulting page and I'll be happy to discuss it with you!

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  3. Loved PHANTOM STRANGER: FUTURE'S END. It was such great timing that we got not one but two great sendoffs for PS' solo book. I love these 'imaginary' futures where seeds are planted but not locked in, so to speak. It will be fun to see how much stuff from FE plays out in the coming months and years.

    Rick,

    1. I think Elena's role across time has been to 'ground' PS in the kind of unconditional love one finds with family. So maybe he hasn't gotten the point up until now? That's how I read it last night, anyway. I suspect he hasn't felt worthy of a wife and that's made things difficult between them in whatever incarnation she takes.

    2. I guess I'm not familiar enough with "Series 2" PS--do you mean the Pre-Crisis version with four different origins? Interesting thought!

    3.Interesting idea about PS inhabiting Judas Iscariot, maybe along the lines of the Spectre/Jim Corrigan relationship, though not as well defined? There's certainly room to make that argument. If so, I guess PS would inhabit individuals who feel alienated from humanity.

    4. I suspect a Jew living in the time of Christ would have been familiar with Greek mythology. At any rate, I'm not familiar with a Judeo-Christian parallel for the ferry into the underworld. It's certainly a great visual!

    5. I don't know that evil was 'intellectually stupid' so much as self-defeating. The New Council of Eternity seemed to know, for the most part, how things worked, but it was the morality they didn't get.

    As far as the Presence goes, I get the feeling that any perceived lack of foreknowledge on His part is done with a knowing and mischievious wink. When the Presence pretends like He doesn't know how it's all going to play out, it's just for the benefit of the players and the audience, so they can enjoy their own Story to its fullest.

    I also get the feeling, to paraphrase a Narnian's assessment of Aslan, "The Presence isn't a TAME holy terrier."

    --David

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    1. Insightful thoughts, as always, David. I'll leave it to Rick to continue the discussion, if he's interested. Or maybe Jack...? Or anyone else who's interested!

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    2. Dave, Rick here. My thoughts:

      1. I would agree that the Elena visage is his soulmate, but I don't think there is "unconditional love one finds with family." The family dog, yes; the spouse, not always. Viewed from the marital perspective, the concept is discomforting since she was married to someone else and had kids. A real Philip Stark would have reason to be pissed off to learn his wife was always the soulmate of someone else, and G-d approved of it.

      The section you mentioned is one of the primary reasons I think PS pre-dated Judas. How could PS not remember someone like Elena, when he went out of his way in early issues to say he had never found anyone like her before--but she remembered? Throw in the amulet which he had acquired earlier, and the most logical conclusion is that he had prior lives he did not recall. That would also explain the Holy Terrier's interest in him.

      More later. I don't want to lose a really long response in the ether.

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    3. To continue,...

      The Series 2 version ran from around 1969 to 1976, and continued pretty much through the New '52, except for the Series 3 "Lords of Order" mini-series. It hit its high point, I think, with Len Wein's run beginning with No. 14. Basically, there would be person(s) or creatures facing a horror and a moral or philosophical dilemma. PS would offer guidance, and some fighting, to get that person towards the right path. Usually, but not always, the person(s) would listen. If not, they suffered the consequences. When done well, the stories were great. But, they could turn very pedestrian if the character was not appreciated by the writer. One great description on the web of PS's character, by someone who plainly did not read the good stories, was: "This shit is whack. Here's a McGuffin."

      You are referring to the "Secret Origins" alternative issue.

      More to follow...

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  4. I think some of my comments may have been lost. There should be 3 of them.

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    1. I only received two comments, Rick—and this last one.

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    2. Rick,

      You make a great argument concerning Elena. You're right about marriage and unconditional love, I misspoke. I'm not sure what term I'd use to describe the marriage covenant, since it comes closest to unconditional love that a human relationship can (family puts up with an awful lot more than colleagues and friends). So maybe Elena represents a divine relationship that transcends human boundaries, and she's taken many forms across the ages. As far as PS not recognizing her, I think that's part of his journey, getting over his personal guilt so he can see the bigger picture.

      Thanks for the insights concerning PS' history. Very fascinating--I'll have to track the Len Wein stuff down! I enjoy tales where the hero doesn't really have that many hangups, and it's more about him or her helping the person of the week. Not surprising given that A-Team is one of my earliest television memories.

      --David

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  5. My recharge is the energy that emanates from his work, master. Welcome to sleep brahma !!

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    1. Sorry for the delayed pick-up JM and David, and thanks for the compliment, David. Here are some continued thoughts:

      3."Interesting idea about PS inhabiting Judas Iscariot, maybe along the lines of the Spectre/Jim Corrigan relationship...." I always try to find consistency with books, although, PS's history is the absolute worst when it comes to character shifts. I think there are some black and white collections out there; you can probably pick up some used ones pretty cheaply if you don't want to get new copies.

      I know of no other way to connect the dots except to refer to a pre-Judas existence for PS--other than for plot holes or an odd attempt to merge all the pre-New '52 universes into 1 (what a mess that would be in this case). And, I still don't know how PS could not remove the necklace at the beginning of his series, could do so later on, and at the end, ignore the necklace entirely and just hand the coin over (so much for the zipped dickey he also wore, too.) I have a theory, but it's time to move on.

      4. "I suspect a Jew living in the time of Christ would have been familiar with Greek mythology..." Definitely, a great visual, but why would G-d pick a ferry? Wasn't it G-d's choice and not PS's?

      5. "I don't know that evil was 'intellectually stupid' so much as self-defeating..." The reason I think the Council was stupid is that the amulet had explicit limitations and Zauriel knowing ignored them. Even a criminal knows that freezing water becomes ice.

      "As far as the Presence goes, ..." A classic religious/philosophical conundrum--how can someone who is all knowing truly invest people with free will because the outcome will already be known to him? Maybe he's like one of those people who can sit through the same movie over and over again.

      At least I now know how PS gets his clothes cleaned, shoes buffed and hat blocked. That silver coin at the end sure comes in handy.

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    2. Hey, Rick!

      I think there's some PS B&W SHOWCASE PRESENTS volumes.

      As far as the necklace goes, I can only speculate that some (maybe all) of PS' limitations are imagined. Think of it like Hal Jordan. Theoretically, there's nothing Hal couldn't do if he mustered enough willpower. So really, the only obstacle to Hal Jordan with a ring is...Hal Jordan, and what he thinks he can and can't do.

      As far as the ferry goes, I don't think God is locked in to any kind of specifics where imagery is concerned.

      The Council knowingly ignoring very real limitations comes down to pride in my opinion. After all, why would they think they could beat God in the first place?

      When it comes to free will, I affirm the paradoxical tension that we have free will but that God's good designs for all humanity will come to pass. Everyone will eventually find their peace in God, though some will come around sooner than later. So naturally, I really enjoy a lot of the themes that play out in PHANTOM STRANGER...

      Best,

      David

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    3. As you know, I'm keeping out of this—but I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying your back and forth.

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    4. David,

      "As far as the necklace goes, I can only speculate that some (maybe all) of PS' limitations are imagined." Absolutely, I agree. I'll go even further and say that the limitations arise from guilt, not (as in Hal's case) lack of willpower. On the other hand, he is also capable of adrenalin-like boosts which come from a sense of duty arising from compassion. It seems to mirror the Series 2 concept that PS was the collective conscience of mankind instead of its savior.

      I'm surprised no one has commented about this, but do you realize that the Future's End story essentially acts as the origin story for the second coming of the Messiah? Don't forget that PS starts off by pointing out that he has become the lamb.

      I hope God comes back in Trinity of Sin, but next time, he should look like George Burns. That might better explain his preference for old Circle Line ferries.

      "After all, why would they think they could beat G-d in the first place?" Because people can overestimate their skills, like Satan might think he could beat G-d. And, the Council may have thought they could beat G-d, but not by direct attack. They would have needed a subtler way to do it (Like the plotline classic "let's undermine faith in G-d" upon which he draws his power.)

      I half-expected that PS's costume would turn all white at the climax of the story. Happy it didn't happen.

      Rick

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    5. Hey, Rick!

      I don't have the book onhand, but I don't recall PS claiming he WAS the Lamb now. I thought it was more him trying to live up the legacy of Christ's mercy and forgiveness.

      I remember liking the George Burns' "Oh! God!" movies as a kid. Morgan Freeman also did a nice turn as the Almighty in BRUCE ALMIGHTY and EVAN ALMIGHTY, though he's kind of exhausted the wise old sage angle with his voiceovers. But I'm also a big fan of the Holy Terrier look. Maybe we should start a discussion about who would voice him in a feature film. Sean Connery? Billy Connolly? Craig Ferguson? (Feel free to step in with this controversy, JMD!)

      Why did you think PS' costume would turn white? Is there a precedent for that, or did it just seem like that's where the symbolism was leading? At any rate, JMD usually doesn't go for stuff that's too 'on-the-nose,' so to speak. Glad your worries didn't pan out!

      Best,

      David

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    6. To paraphrase THE UNTOUCHABLES, "He says a curse, you say a prayer. He sends one of your guys to the hospital, you send one of his to the altar. That's the heavenly way!"

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  6. Not quite sure what you're saying here, Daniel...care to clarify?

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    1. I follow his work since 1985, when he was only eight years old. Your text captivated me since then, and opened my eyes to the fact that comics can be great works of art. Sorry again for the grammatical errors, I am quoting in portuguese translator into English. Thanks for listening, master !!!

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    2. Well, thanks so much for the kind words, Daniel. VERY much appreciated. And thanks for clarifying! Best -- JMD

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  7. Saw the news about Booster and Beetle. Thanks for bringing them back, sir.

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    1. You're VERY welcome, Douglas. We've got some fun things coming up in JL3K and Beetle and Booster are just one part of it.

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    2. WOW, when were you planning on telling us, you magnificent you!
      I read these news yesterday and I still can't believe it! 2003 BB is back! All your favorite characters took quite a beating after I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League and you guys just hung in there. By this point, the DCU is so different that going back to a universe that never got what we could call the "effects of the Superboy punches" (Sue, Ralph, Boomerang, Dmitri, Ted, Max, the Question and the Ventriloquist die, and Max, Superboy and Luthor II become evil) won't bother the younger fans and will cause great joy to the older fans! It's pure genius!
      I declare you and Keith "the saviors of the DC Universe"!
      Now only Ice is missing :/ Btw, did Parallax happened in this universe?

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    3. Thanks so much, Rafa. I've been pretty stunned by the reaction to the Beetle and Booster news. People have been so joyful, so enthusiastic. Now we have to make sure not to let all of you down.

      I can't divulge what we have planned for the post-Blue and Gold JL 3000, but (if sales allow) I think you'll be happy about some other characters we have waiting in the wings.

      As for Parallax: I have no clue!

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    4. LetitbeRalphandSueletitbeRalphandSueletitbe... You know what? I miss the entire bunch. I love Fire, Ice, Max, Guy, L-Ron, Dmitri, Mary, PJ, J'Onn, Oberon and even the recurring Newmans like Batman and Kilowog. And they never feel the same without you (well, maybe the Brave and the Bold version). I can already imagine the gang trying to solve the mystery of missing clowns.
      By the way, I love what you guys did with the personalities of what remains of the classic Justice League. Yet another JL would have been a bit business-as-usual, the need to overcome new flaws makes the ride a lot more interesting. Batman engages in bickering, Wonder Woman feels like Miller's version and Superman makes me think they probably mixed him with a descendant of Guy Gardner, lol.
      Keep up the awesome work; we'll keep cheering and buying!

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    5. They're a great group of characters, Rafa...and I'm especially enjoying Superman 3000. And once we throw Beetle and Booster into the mix, it's only going to get crazier.

      Thanks again for the cheering and buying!

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    6. I can't tell you how excited I am over the Beetle/Booster news! Any chance that this particular alternate universe continuity opens up a possibility of a third miniseries with the entire gang to explain how these guys ended up getting frozen (though I'm guessing that may be covered in JL3000). As a side note - my wife recently gave birth to our son Max (a name partially inspired by my love for JLI) - so I'm particularly glad that a certain event never occurred in this universe!

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    7. Congratulations of the birth of Max, Drew! And, yes, I'm glad that "a certain event" never happened (at least in our timeline).

      We intend to eventually explain the hows and whys of the cryogenic freeze...but we've got to tease it for a while first—or where's the fun?

      And thanks for your excitement about Blue and Gold. Everyone involved with the book is equally excited.

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    8. Wow, I think having a son with the personality of Maxwell (the real one, and after he gained J'Onn's trust) would be fun. I think he is quite similar to Peter Venkman. Now that I think about it, I'd love to see Bill Murray portraying Max, even if he keeps the gray hair.
      Seriously, J.M., I can't wait to read the rest of JL3000. I read 1-9 in a row, and I was revisiting today... Now I just want the rest of get plugged and pumped up into my veins. That world is just so interesting. Any influence from Moebius Incal?
      Not only I want to get to the blue and gold moment, I also want to get to the first flashback or appearance of the gang. I should meditate on patience and waiting.

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    9. I can absolutely see a Moebius influence in Howard Porter's work, Rafa. I'll have to ask him about that to see if it's true.

      Bill Murray as Max Lord? I can see that!

      Just finished scripting the issue that reveals Beetle and Booster at the end. Can't wait for the next one when I can start writing that Blue and Gold dialogue again.

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    10. You mean the one with the cover with the two goofballs running from something?
      That shows me how I have no idea of how the process goes... Until now, I used to think that having the cover with the short synopsis meant that the comic is ready in some computer at DC's headquarters, with the artist probably working on the next one and the writer one after that. But that doesn't really makes sense considering some changes I have seen (like Wondie's pants). I'd guess that the way the payment works also has something to do with it.
      I'd also like to ask you, did you guys threw any Jodorowsky influence into the JL3000 mix? I get certain Incal/5th Element vibe, even though the premise goes in a different direction.

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    11. It all depends, Rafa. Sometimes the deadlines hew very close to the release date, sometimes we're working months in advance. Lots of things can happen to change the timing.

      No Jodorowsky influence that I know of. But then Keith or Howard might have a different answer.

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    12. Makes sense.
      I wouldn't be surprised, but then again, there are many great stories set in dystopian, futuristic settings, and this is the only one with imperfect JLers fixing the galaxy against tptb. In forums, if this isn't New Earth, I've been coining this one "Earth-Bwahaha". Along the lines of what the good Dwayne McDuffie said in his essay about St. Elsewhere and comics continuity, I believe that in a great Multiverse, there is an earth for every awesome creative team that wants one.

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    13. "Earth Bwah-ha-ha"? I love it. I agree with you, and Dwayne, Rafa: there's room for ALL creative visions. Sometimes writers and fans are so locked into continuity that they limit themselves...and limit the joy of storytelling.

      "Earth Bwah-ha-ha." I'll have to tell Giffen about this!

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  8. That's two DC books you've got me buying when six months ago I wasn't buying any. My daughter wants to know if you could resurrect The Legion of Super Heroes for her. :0)

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    1. I don't think I'll be resurrecting the Legion...but I'm sure someone at DC will. They're too important to leave in limbo for too long.

      And thanks again for your enthusiasm!

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    2. http://www.newsarama.com/22122-upon-futher-review-is-futures-end-lexcorp-logo-legion-preview-or-shoutout-to-jlu-past.html

      --David

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  9. Alright Demattes, 11 writers of any medium, in any genre, who you think transcends all barriers and will be enjoyed forever by everyone.... GO! (teams count as 1)


    Jack

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    1. In no particular order:

      Dostoyevsky
      Dickens
      PKD
      Stan Lee
      Jack Kirby
      Rod Serling
      Ray Bradbury
      JD Salinger
      Steve Gerber
      L. Frank Baum
      Will Eisner

      (Then of course there are all-around genius storytellers like Disney, Frank Capra and Orson Welles...but I don't think of them as writers, per se.)

      Anybody else out there want to join in?

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    2. hmmmmm, interesting list. There is one name I thought you would put:

      A man who worked as a world mender
      a man you referenced in the pages Defender
      A man whose work was remarkably bold
      who delights faces young and old
      that man is Dr. Seuss
      something, something, goose.

      However I wonder about some of you list, like PKD. I have made it no secret that he is one o if not my very favorite author, that having been said... I wonder if he might be an acquired taste. Is it timeless? yes. Does it transcend all barriers? Tougher to say. I'm not sure. I could see how some mindsets may respect it more than like it. Dick was uniquely Dick, and what's more very counter... well everything.

      Steve Gerber falls into a similar trap. Great? Yes! Great to everyone? Tougher to determine... I especially see him rubbing some political views and maybe age groups wrong.

      I would say that Orson Welles counts as a writer (perhaps I should have said story teller, hindsight is 20/20 though) and a timeless one at that. For that matter... what about the Beatles? They WROTE songs.

      Interesting side point, my brother is an English teacher and he says kids don't find the main character in the Catcher and the Rye likable. Of course neither did I... but it is interesting to note this character who stoked so many young minds is maybe fading in importance.

      But hey, this is your list. I will add one thing.. that Will Eisner was considered but not Disney or Welles. Eisner was just as lacking in being a writer as them. He was a cartoonist, in the best sense of the word. The pictures and words were not separated... Hell, the pictures may have come first.

      Jack

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    3. Yeah, I kind of missed the "forever by everyone" part. If that's the case, well...I don't know who'd make the list. You can find people who hate all of those artists.

      Dr. Seuss? Absolutely! And he'd be near the top of my list. He's been as big an influence on me as any artist in any medium and his work means as much to me today as it did when I was four.

      So let's add Disney and Capra and Welles to the list...but now we've gone way beyond eleven. And I'm sure that, as I'm falling asleep tonight, I'll think: "But what about Woody Allen? And Jack Benny? And Isaac Singer? And..." Actually, I guess I'm thinking about them right now!

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    4. And the Beatles...of course. If I'm just going for major influences that will last forever, they—and Lennon in particular—would be right at the top.

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    5. Well, feel free to add.

      AS for Seuss, there is something great a bout someone who can take complex issues and break them down to such simple ways... and still have even the most cynical adult be amazed. For that matter:

      Perhaps some politicians should not talk out their caboose
      but instead pick up a copy of Dr. Seuss


      Jack

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    6. Brilliant, Jack! Extremely well said!
      Excuse me now while I hop off to bed!

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  10. Did you ever wonder about the Atlas era fans? We all love Marvel heroes, but there had to be some fans who were kind of bummed when they stopped with the giant monster stuff.



    Jack

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    1. I'm sure there were lots of fans who were disgruntled because the super-hero came back with such a vengeance in the 60's and soon dominated the market, pushing out ALL other genres.

      There was a time when comics, mainstream comics, had an incredible diversity. Humor, romance, horror, crime, TV adaptations, westerns, funny animals, you name it. Then comics became synonymous with superheroes and we've been the poorer for that ever since.

      There is, of course, diversity at the local comics shop these days but you've really got to work to find it.

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    2. I'd throw in Orson Scott Card, as ENDER'S GAME is still as brilliant and relevant today as when it first hit shelves. I can't recall ever reading a better book about cross-generational and cross-cultural conflict.

      --David

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    3. My wife is a big OSC fan, David. And she loves ENDER'S GAME.

      What other OSC novels do you recommend?

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    4. Just once, when Marvel feels like doing a summer event they would dip into doing some stories that are more like the old days, you know something fun like Giant Monsters. Hell, how about a modern spin o those tales? In fact I remember the late great Mike Boyle telling me how disappointed HE initially was when they did the switch up.

      As for Card, if I remember there are two series that go off from Ender's Game. I'm not well versed enough to go further than that.

      However, I know a quite a few people who have trouble dealing with Orson Scott Card, I'd probably say Heinlein before Card, and he has his own share of detractors. Of course the question is how many are judging work or unfortunately the politics of the men doing the writing. I'd personally have both in the PKD camp of talented and will probably be around forever... but not necessarily for everyone.

      Interesting side note, the biggest OSC fan I know's grandparents actually go to same church as him. The kooky ways of the world.

      Also, Dematteis:

      With a Scarlet Spiders book coming up as part of the current Spider-event, now might be the time to dust off that Lost Years proposal, also that novel you've been working on for when comics cease to be, but lost years first

      Jack

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    5. Re: Card. I think (ideally, at least) you have to separate the artist from the art, which isn't always easy. But the wok should speak for itself. A hundred years from now, no one's going to care what Card's political views were, but they might still be reading his novels.

      Re: Heinlein. I read a lot of his work when I was a teenager—still have fond memories of STRANGER IN A STRANGER LAND and a short story called "By His Bootstraps"—but haven't looked at it since. Wonder if it would still resonate?

      Re: Scarlet Spider. I'm taking part in Marvel's 75th anniversary celebration at New York Comic Con in October, maybe I can bribe an editor and get a Ben Reilly book going. (That's a joke, son.)

      "Comics cease to be"? They've been ceasing to be as long as I've been in the business...and, somehow, we're still here.

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    6. I guaranty that people will be reading his work, and you should always try to separate politics from art. Especially if they are not (as far as I know) advocating physical harm to anyone, even if I don't agree with it. After all we do still maintain we are independent of England, and I think those who would advocate slavery are few and far between these days. And I am aware that since slavery DID cause physical harm and death to a great many people my point is a tad muddied, but I think the over all point shines through.

      That having been said, I do seem to recall some people who had legitimate gripes with the storytelling itself.

      As for Heinlein, his politics may play a part more, not because of what he believed, but rather in how he does it. There are a few works of his, Starship Troopers comes tom mind, where he beats you over the head with his views and no one likes that. Of course if the 60's counter culture can look past the fact that he, like Ditko, hated that avid fan base maybe we all have hope for it. Of course that fact make his help counter culture icon Philip K. Dick even Stranger. Interesting at the same points in his life Heinlein was called a borderline Fascist and a bleeding heart liberal.

      By the by, Puppet Masters floated back in front of me a year or so back. It holds up there was a reason that he was one of the first superstars of the genre.


      I hope someone records the 75th celebration, cause I would love to see that. But just casually mention a desire to do that in front of a crowd of fans, and the internet will be demanding it (okay it will be David and I under pseudonyms, but...). Also mention 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the Silver Surfer and Stan Lee should write something for the occassion, I doubt he has ever turned down a chance to write the Surfer, and it would be a shame if the character he admits to being his favorite crossed the half century mark without a celebration. Plus than Stan will have written a Silver Surfer story every decade.

      As for comics ceasing to be, I'm not hoping for it, but I wouldn't bet against it either. It will be a shame too, it is a unique art form. And, how do you know it didn't start ceasing to be back then, and it was just a very slow burn?

      Jack

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    7. I highly recommend SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, which is such a weird and wonderful tonal shift from ENDER'S GAME, and somehow it all works. I found it very jarring as a young reader, but not necessarily in a bad way. It was like jumping from Lee/Ditko's Spider-Man run to find out that Peter Parker was now the Silver Surfer!

      I agree that ideally you can separate the writer from the controversy. When it comes to OSC, you'd never know his more extreme views based on his Ender stuff, and it really seems like an argument against those kind of biases.

      I'm not an OSC expert by any means, but the sheer brilliance of the Ender series guarantees his reputation for all of time as far as I'm concerned.

      --David

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    8. I've heard good things about SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD, David. And your recommendation carries a lot of weight.

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    9. It would be nice to see Stan do a 50th anniversary Surfer story, Jack. The character remains one of my absolute favorite Marvel characters—and one I'd love to revisit, if given a chance.

      Never read PUPPET MASTERS. Another one for the reading list. It was made into a movie in the 90''s, but I don't know a thing about it beyond what I just read on Wikipedia.

      The fact that Heinlein was called both a fascist and a bleeding-heart liberal makes me like him all the more. Few things fascinate more than human contradiction.

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    10. I'm a fan of those kinds of contradictions, too. ENDER'S GAME, for instance, makes a pretty compelling case for the necessary evils of war, and then things get radically more complicated by the story's end. But it doesn't necessarily condemn the human response to the perceived Formic threat, it just adds a deeper layer when the truth is revealed. And if the human leadership hadn't gone about it the way they did, then Ender would never have brought them a new message...

      Anyway, SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD expands on those themes in a major way. It's all about how trying to bridge cultural differences and it puts Ender's new philosophy to the test.

      Jack, it sounds like it's time for us to come up with a petition for a LOST YEARS followup set in the present day and sign it with a million different pseudonyms!

      --Matches Malone, signer #2,134 on the BRING BEN REILLY BACK AND GIVE HIM TO JMD PETITION.

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    11. Matches Malone? Now THERE'S a name I haven't heard in a while. I used Matches in one of the first Batman stories I ever wrote. Wonder if he still exists in Batman continuity?

      And thanks for the vote of confidence re: Ben Reilly. Maybe one of these days, right?

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    12. BTW,

      I've got to add that I find Marvel's stance on Ben Reilly odd to say the least. We keep hearing that his story is over, with the implicit assumption that his existence somehow undermines Peter's, and yet we just got yet another addition to the Spider-family in the form of Silk. There's nothing wrong with the new characters (Silk looks to be fun), but none of them are as good a fit for Peter's world as Ben in my humble opinion. Clone or not, it was a rare opportunity to explore a character who both is and isn't Peter Parker, and within the context of 'our' world and not an alternate universe.

      --David

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    13. Hey! You don't have to convince me! : )

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    14. I honestly don't know whether Matches is still around or not! DC tends to take Batman way seriously these days, but, hey, Matches is too much fun to stay gone forever. Loved the BRAVE AND THE BOLD episode where Batman got amnesia and thought he WAS Matches Malone, which forced the Birds of Prey to take him down.

      --David

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    15. Ah. BRAVE AND THE BOLD: how I miss you!

      Delete
    16. David/JMD-

      Ben Reilly is interesting besides just the is and isn't Peter Parker way. Yes the idea of choices and how they affect us is the most interesting part, but it is also a chance to do a more varied type of stories, because he can't be a superhero in the traditional sense, but he can be almost anything else. Spider-man the lost years could be Marvel's Vertigo book, it's Spirit. The barriers on the character do anything but restrict. Crime, slice of life, romance, morality tale, thriller, even sci-fi and horror are possible, the stories just can't get too big.

      Jack

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    17. Totally agree, Jack. One of the things I loved about the original LOST YEARS mini was the fact that it was totally different from the typical Spider-Man story. It was refreshing for me as a creator and, I hope, for the readers, as well.

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    18. As for Mr. Heinlein...

      Puppet Masters is good. It is also a very important part of sci-fi history, in that as far as I know it was the first time that a story had an alien taking over a person. I would say it is worth the read.

      The movie is good too if I recall, but I would also like to add that the 90s remake of Body Snatchers is a bit underrated and should be looked at too.

      Heinlein also bought a typewriter for PKD when he was ill and having IRS problems, and would call just to cheer him up after never having having met him before.

      Jack

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    19. Silver Surfer...

      more coming later.


      Jack

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    20. I'm a huge fan or the original BODY SNATCHERS, Jack...and the wonderful 70's remake with Donald Sutherland and Leonard Nimoy.

      Someone should make a movie about Heinlein and PKD. I'd pay to see that.

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    21. The original Lost years, as well as Redemption read like noir thrillers. GOOD noir thrillers, which can be hard to do in any medium these days. The short stories you wrote in recent years had the same noirish feel. What makes me think you had wanted to tell tales like this for a while? Deep in that hippie brain there is a hard boiled cynic trying to breathe.

      So it seems that it wasn't just an atypical spidey story, but an atypical Dematteis story as well.

      Jack

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    22. Absolutely. TLY was a story that just kind of gushed out of me without thinking, the story just told itself, and I was as surprised by the tone and style of it as anyone. But, clearly, my unconscious mind created a perfect template for Ben Reilly stories.

      Still, as you mentioned before, that template can expand to incorporate a lot of different storytelling choices.

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    23. There were talks for a while about a PKD biopic a few years back, Paul Giomatti was to star I think, but as far as know it fizzled.

      The original Body Snatchers is a masterpiece of sci-fi. The 70s one is lesser, but still good. The 90s one is also a step down, but also good. The lack of money given to the project add to its charm. I wouldn't say rush out to buy it, but I wouldn't turn up a nose at it either. And the INvasion with Nicole Kidman was just awful.

      oddly, I have never read Jack Finney's book that they are all based on, but the nature of the aliens is very different in the two works, and puppet master is told of the perspective of secret agents trying to stop them.

      Here is a sneak peek at that 90s Body snatchers:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3yqMvvWhP8


      Jack

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    24. I'm pretty sure I saw the 90's BODY SNATCHERS...but I don't remember it very well.

      Jack Finney's a terrific writer. BODY SNATCHERS is excellent, but TIME AND AGAIN is one of the best time-travel novels ever. I highly recommend it.

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    25. Now for my views on the Silver Surfer...

      In many ways I think that Silver Surfer was Vertigo before Vertigo. It was a very real (and I believe successful) attempt to elevate the medium with more thought out and engaging stories. Those first 18 issues of solo material are probably the best of the Silver Age.

      It is n wonder then that Stan Lee has sad that Norrin Radd is his favorite character. He became selfish and possessive wit the character, with Lee not allowing almost anyone to write him. After Stan Lee left Sliver Surfer and Fantastic four, there are only a handful; of guest appearances sprinkled across the Marvel Universe, a one-shot with Lee providing dialogue, a Graphic Novel by Lee and Kirby, and only 2 writers writing him regularly, both in the Defenders, Englehart and you, and of course the Lee Buscema story in epic 1 before the 1987 series began.

      This MIA statue actually helped him, everyone knew that if you wrote the Silver Surfer you had to do your best... he was not another super powered crony. ure here were one or two writers who merely sort of had him fight "space pirates" or "Space gangsters," but for the most part even misses were at least missing a great target. In the end the greatest sin with Silver surfer is not to be bad, but to be bland. There is some sort of knowledge, whether handed down from management or just in the hearts of fans, that you try your damnedest with the Surfer, and you don't imitate any other character.

      He is also important for Stan Lee. He proves Stan wasn't riding Kirby and Ditko's coattails, since neither were on that solo book. It proved he was actually a writer and not just some guy filling in dialogue, and most of all it proves he wasn't a thief, since he always said Kirby added him to the Galactus story and he fell in love. credit was always given.

      Stan Lee has even come back decade after decade:
      60s-the original series
      70s-the graphic novel'
      80s-Epic #1, Silver Surfer volume 2, Silver Surfer: Parable, and Silver Surfer: Judgement Day
      90s-Silver Surfer: The Enslavers
      00s- Stan Lee meets the Silver Surfer

      All of them had Lee trying his hardest (okay S.L. meets was a bit weaker than the others).

      Lee's return to the surfer, even if he sadly decided it should be his swan song for the character, would be almost mandatory reading for any comic fan.

      Jack

      P.S. Donald Sutherland also played the old man in the Puppet Master movie. weird.

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    26. I agree, Jack. The original SURFER book was Stan's attempt to break out of the Marvel straitjacket and try something new. The first six issues or so of that series remain among my all-time favorite comics—and the third issue, featuring the first Mephisto story, is one of my all-time favorite stories. Beautifully written and John Buscema at his absolute peak.

      I'm also fond of the graphic novel Stan and Jack did together and the Moebius collaboration.

      Let's not forget, though, that without Jack there wouldn't be a Silver Surfer. And that the Surfer was one of the final nails in the Lee-Kirby coffin. Jack was apparently drawing out an origin for the Surfer that was going to run in FANTASTIC FOUR when he found out that Stan was doing his own origin, very different from Jack's, for the solo series. Jack was understandably pissed—he hadn't been told and he hadn't been asked to participate—and that was one of the straws that broke the camel's back.

      None of which takes away from the fantastic work Stan did with the character. But it's a sad chapter is the Surfer story.

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    27. Understandably is a relative term. I had no idea Kirby had his own plan for the Surfer's origin, it doesn't surprise me though, however that doesn't mean all that much. Did he tell Stan his idea. If he hadn't he has no leg to stand on, Hell even if he did he is stuck in hopville. As a man with an editor, I know how aggravating to have an idea brushed aside for another, BUT the editor has every right to do that. The fact is that Kirby's idea couldn't have held that long, he would have been a background character at best.

      Kirby was a man of intense imagination, but he always seemed lost in understanding the business side. However that is even less important than the fact that the whole story is indicative of the real problem, Stan and Jack (like the Beatles) were consumed by ego and thought they were the reason for success alone.

      In the end, what I really think is that it isn't a sad chapter, because we got a classic lead character, instead of an interesting side character.

      Jack

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    28. In those days, Jack, Kirby was plotting the books solo, so it made sense that he'd be working out a Surfer origin of his own. And, considering that the character sprang, full-blown from Jack K's imagination, Stan should have at least TOLD him what was going on with the new SURFER book. Stan wasn't just Jack's editor, he was his creative collaborator. A collaborator who, more and more, was depending on Jack K's fertile imagination to do the bulk of the plotting work.

      And why do you say Kirby's idea "couldn't have held that long"? Jack's ideas have been living on since the 1940's, He was, perhaps, the only flat-out genius to ever come out of the comic book business.

      I also don't think Jack was consumed by ego. In fact, for a good part of his career, he constantly put ego aside in the name of supporting his family. It was only in Kirby's post-Marvel years, when Stan really took over the spotlight and Jack's contribution was pushed to the sidelines, that Kirby started making some statements that were as outrageous as some of Stan's statements.

      For that matter, I don't think Stan was really consumed by ego, either. He saw himself as the editor, art director, head writer, involved in every aspect of the Marvel line and so viewed his own contributions as very substantial. (And, of course, they were.) That said, Stan's job was the promote— himself and Marvel—and he was a master of it. And I think the reason the Ditkos and Kirbys of the world found their contributions downplayed had less to do with Stan and more to do with the corporations that owned Marvel looking over their shoulders, afraid of lawsuits. Stan, as an employee of the company, did his best to please the bosses.

      We're not going to settle the Kirby-Lee debate here and, as you know, I have tremendous respect for both men.

      One thing I may want to write about one day is the reason why I think tensions between Lennon-McCartney/Lee-Kirby-type collaborators are inevitable. But not today!

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    29. Look, both Lee and Kirby were tremendous talents in their own right and dynamos together.

      That having been said, my point is that if Kirby said nothing to Lee about a proposed Silver Surfer origin then he can't really get mad for him doing one himself. It would be like me getting mad at someone for making me a shrimp cocktail for dinner if I never told them that I had an iodine allergy. Should Stan have told Kirby? It would have been nice, for sure, and in all honesty a responsible editor would have, that however does not mean that he was obligation to. Since the characters belonged to Marvel he do what e saw fit, and since they did not have a typical writer/artist-editor relationship and as you said the relationship was becoming strained, there may, MAY, have been an instinct that could end poorly. That last part is only a possibility.

      And many of Jack Kirby's works WILL last forever, but not all. I mean, do you really read a lot of Satan Six? Or Silver Scarab? Just because a man is talented does not mean he is infallible. Kirby had a lot of great stuff... He also had clunkers though. When you churn out that much it is going to happen.

      That wasn't really my point though. My point is rather that Kirby's vision of the Surfer, an odd alien who had to learn to be human would not have lasted 18 issues, or probably even made it to ongoing status. His Surfer would have been a side character, he would have been the Vision (if Roy Thomas was already working on the idea that may have been another reason for Lee's actions). The fact is that even by 1968 that idea was already incredibly tread.

      As for Lee and Kirby, well consumed was the wrong word, but their egos were in a bit higher gear than needed. Funky Flashman I think is a good example, but there are also plenty of interviews from the 70s were both are claiming to be the driving force in their stories and that the other was just there.

      The point of bosses is well made. I did always find it strange that a guy like Ditko who was so into Ayn Rand would have an issue with corporations. I have always wondered how much of the anti-Stan talk evolved from the very typical line of, "My boss is an idiot." which we all say from time to time.

      Jack

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    30. Good point about "my boss is an idiot." I think ANYONE who's in a position of power, no matter how good they are at their job, is going to alienate half the people they work for. It's just the nature of the beast.

      Back to the Surfer: I LOVE Stan's angst version, but I think, given his head, Kirby's version could have been just as good.

      As for Kirby's ideas: Look at his output in the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's, Every single decade he's breaking down walls, creating concepts and characters that are at the forefront of the industry. He was even pioneering creator-owned comics in the 80's when, admittedly, his powers were waning (more, I suspect, due to bad health than a weakening imagination). Did he have clunkers? Of course. But his "genius ratio"—I just made that up—is higher than anyone else's in the business.

      Ditko is a mystery. And that, I think, is the way we all like him!

      Delete
    31. Editors have an inherently different relationship with employees than other bosses. Because the goal is to bring out the best it is often collaborative to some degree, or at least with a bit more give and take. Because of this when they give a hard line against you it can sometimes feel more personal when it really isn't.

      I don't think that you can really blame all of Kirby's issues on age. I personally think that his solo Captain America run in the 70s was one of the worst in the character's history. Of course that is just an opinion, there is no need to get into that now, but I am hardly in the minority in that. The run was however very imaginative. The fact is many of his books were cancelled fairly early on. That doesn't necessarily make them bad in a qualitative way, but it does in a commercial way.

      The point I was making however had nothing to do with that, was that an inhuman character learning to be human can only be used so much before it gets old, or he has to fully become human and then his tale is over. There is reason that historically such characters have either had a single story (like Pinocchio) or have a large cast to play off of (The Vision or Data on Star Trek the Next Generation).

      Of course it seems like you are assuming that he would have had the Surfer be a solo act like Stan did. It is very likely that he would have the surfer be a character that returned now and then in FF, perhaps becoming a bit human each time.

      No one was questioning Kirby's greatness.

      Jack

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    32. We'll never really know what Jack would have done with a solo Surfer series...but, given the era, Stan would have almost certainly provided the dialogue and, given the wonderful creative push-pull between the two men, I'm sure it would have been great. Somewhere, in some parallel universe, I'm reading it right now.

      All that said, I LOVE Stan's Surfer; especially those first six issues. Amazing.

      I didn't think you were questioning Jack's greatness. Honestly, it;s unquestionable!

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    33. I'm actually pretty drawn to the idea of Kirby's Surfer, because there's something attractive about the alien learning to be human concept. But I also see the appeal in the alien learning he is actually human (or humanoid).

      If Kirby's Surfer had a solo, it probably would have been in the tradition of the 'client of the week,' which would have kept him bouncing off different humans every issue. Sort of a QUANTUM LEAP formula.

      --David

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    34. I think the essence of Kirby's Surfer is a soulless alien finding his soul; a being without compassion, having his compassion awakened. That would have made for quite the internal journey, with the Surfer growing, evolving, over the course of the stories.

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  11. Wait, weren't you going to do a post about what makes kids comics, or all-ages, or something? Didn't you not answer my question because you wanted to expand it to a post? Though in the end I think it will be as hard tom identify as mature.

    Also you should be watching Mask...of...the...Phantasm. You know that movie won't get watched on its own or while you "work" to "put your daughter through college" and "eat food" and "live indoors." When did you sell out Dematteis?


    Jack

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    1. Your timing is almost eerie, Jack. Apparently I started working on an "all ages" post right after we discussed it...and then I totally forgot about it. In fact, I forgot I'd even written it. Yesterday, I was going through a folder and there it was. Plan is to clean it up some time in the next week and get it posted.

      MASK is still on my Netflix queue.

      When did I sell out? Lemme see: 1980, I think! : )

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  12. Did you ever notice that the original Defenders line up was more like a fantasy story than a superhero team? You have a warrior king from beneath the waves, a sorcerer, and a monster. It looks more like a Dungeon and Dragons game than the Avengers. Who do they then add? The Silver Surfer, a being that could be viewed as comparable to several fantasy creatures, and a Valkyrie? The off beat adventures add to this as well. Maybe that is part of why it seems so hard to have a successful Defenders series post 1979, that is when sword and sorcery was biggest.

    While we are at it. Gerber's Defenders is interesting. The first half is deadly intent with social commentary, very similar to his Man-Thing, While the second half is far more like his Howard the Duck, with its humorous slant.

    by the way that goldbricking thing was a joke.

    Jack

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    1. For me, DEFENDERS was always an attempt to take the oddball heroes who absolutely didn't belong on a team and throw them together into one.
      Loved the early Englehart issues and that amazing Sal B artwork.

      Haven't read Gerber's DEFENDERS in years and years but, God knows, I loved it. Even had a letter (or maybe two?) printed on the letters page.

      Re: goldbricking. I know it was a joke.

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    2. "For me, DEFENDERS was always an attempt to take the oddball heroes who absolutely didn't belong on a team and throw them together into one."

      You mean like Trinity of Sin?

      Rick

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    3. wait, JM Dematteis thought the Defenders would be good for oddball stories? Then why did your stories include a messianic figure tricked by demons who abuse his loving nature and allow him to call angels that are actually demons, have a love story between two people who both though they were brother and sister as well as BOTH the child of Satan, a collection of multiple minds tying to reconcile their past lives, an alternate world with superheroes accidentally paving the way for an invasion, a reality based off of Dr. Seuss, a hero being groomed to take over hell, and an addict seeing through magic because his mind is too thrashed on drugs.

      I mean come on not a year goes by that the JLA or Avengers do all of those. I mean come on, those old cliched tropes? really?

      No matter what, the Defenders were too much of there time. I don't think we can ever really expect an honest to God Defenders feeling book lasting more than a year these days. Oh, well... Enjloy what you can right?

      Jack

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    4. That was the fun of DEFENDERS, as you clearly know, Jack: you could push the stories and the characters in as many wild directions as your imagination would allow.

      When I first started at Marvel, DEFENDERS was the book that allowed me to experiment, stumble, fail, and (I hope) sometimes succeed as I tried to find my own voice and vision as a writer. I poured heart and soul into that series. Looking back all I sometimes see is the work of a newbie writer with so much to learn, but it's a series that remains near and dear to my heart.

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  13. I'm sorry I came so late to the Silver Surfer party. Of all the Marvel characters, he's probably my favorite.

    I have to agree with you, JM, about those early SS issues. They were like a cross between Shakespearean tragedy (except the hero survived), but with a dash of Messiah thrown in. While there have been aliens who came to Earth before, including some guy with a red cape and a manhunter from Mars, the way Stan focused on the loneliness and sacrifice of the hero really stood out. And that Mephisto story was perhaps the first I remember in which the writer tried to show the "evil" of Satan. Too often, comics portrayed Satan as someone who would just as soon rob a kid of his candy as focus on the broader issues of morality.

    Unlike most of you, however, I was never bowled over by Kirby's work. With the exception of Mr. Miracle, I simply don't care very much for his Fourth World at DC, no matter how creative it was. In particular, I thought those Jimmy Olsen stories with the Newsboy Legion were absurd. I do realize, however, that part of my views reflect a preference: I prefer complete tales in compact packages (with a longer story arc in the background). To my recollection, I thought Kirby's stories were hyperactive but never-ending. So while I respect his creativity, I didn't care for the output.

    On a different note, let me add that I do miss another character of a different Kirby collaborator--the original Fly.

    Rick

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    1. To each his own, Rick. If I look at my favorite Marvel Comics of the 60's, most of them have Kirby's fingerprints on them. And the New Gods/Forever People/Mister Miracle/Jimmy Olsen books are, perhaps, my favorite comics ever. Talk about Shaespearean! Grand emotions, grand themes, grand ideas, memorable characters...and enough ideas on every page to keep entire comic book companies going for years. Perfect? No. But I've come to love Kirby's imperfections over time. It's part of the charm of his work.
      Is the Jimmy Olsen material sometimes silly? Absolutely. But it's also great fun and filled to the brim with wonderful concepts.

      I'm not bringing this up to start a debate, just to note how much those comics mean to me. And you cannot underestimate the impact they've had on the industry.

      The original Fly? Why does that particular character appeal to you?

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    2. I will have to try and address this tomorrow in detail, but if it makes any sense, it's because the Fourth World is not Game of Thrones.

      The Fly, for me, is more of a trip through nostalgia. But thinking back, it's the dream of a young boy who can be man, and then, continue to grow up from being a boy. Captain Marvel with more realism; urges not understood by a boy, but still there, if you know what I mean. I wonder if there is still that audience.

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    3. Archie Comics is relaunching a lot of their characters, Rick, so maybe we'll see a new Fly that's true to the original vision but updated for the modern age.

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    4. The Fly was terrific for a kid. For a middle-aged adult, not so much.

      But kids today really are different. Look how the original Captain Marvel sank after it was re-introduced.

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    5. "Have you ever read Mark Evanier's Kirby book? It's wonderful and really gives you a sense of the man and his extraordinary talent."

      I haven't, but I'll put it on my list. Anything new and different is certainly worth a look. Besides, maybe I didn't give Fourth World a fair shake.

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    6. I think the Captain Marvel concept—a kid in a grown-ups body, essentially pretending to be an adult super hero—is one that could translate very well to today. Something I'd love to do with Giffen, actually.

      If you read the Evanier book, let me know what you think!

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    7. I'll order it later tonight.
      Rick

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    8. Why not turn the Fly/Captain Marvel concept inside out?

      Have an old, normal person get superpowers--and be young again. Then let's see if youth is really wasted on the young, or if the natural order of maturity and aging should have been left alone. Would you really want to relive high school? Rick

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    9. What you're describing, Rick, is similar to the Gargoyle—a character I created (and Don Perlin designed) for my DEFENDERS run back in the early 80's. Of course Isaac Christians became a super-powered gargoyle, not a traditional young super hero. But the character did allow us to explore the psyche of an old man (he was in his 80's) who found himself suddenly thrust into a world of super powered beings. He remains one of my favorite characters.

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    10. I remember that character. He really stood out.

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  14. Rick here.

    I've been giving what you wrote a lot of thought about the Fourth World in order to try and crystallize what I did not like. Bear in mind that we are talking about work which I read over 35 years ago, and read lightly, because I didn't like it (except Mr. Miracle). I could certainly miss stuff. If I did, so be it.

    I felt it was too much. All the grand ideas, themes and odd characters did not strike me as grounded in any reality. Shakespeare's characters were tortured souls, in many cases, but you can still relate to their emotions. When Batman gets hurt, he really gets hurt. I've read that when the Spirit was shot, he would stay wounded for weeks on end. Great science fiction stories are great stories set in a science fiction background. With Kirby's Fourth World I felt that all the fiction got in the way of the stories' reality. By the way, I didn't care for Thor, either.

    Which brings me to Game of Thrones. The stories mix fantasy and historic fiction (If you're curious, you can find bits which are taken from sixth-ninth century Saxon England, in general, and the wars involving Mercia, Northumberland and the Viking invasions). But, the characters are real. They can be ambiguously motivated, or have different strengths and weaknesses, but they all feel like actual beings. It's been 35 years, but when I think of the Forever People, I think of a bunch of super-hippies.

    Everyone's taste is different, and I certainly respect yours. You are a really terrific writer, and a good person, to boot. But, I'll still take a pass on the Fourth World.

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    1. Well, we'll agree to disagree and that's just fine, Rick. Me, I've got all the Fourth World hardcovers on a shelf in my office and I love to reread them every once in a while. For me, they get better with time.

      Have you ever read Mark Evanier's Kirby book? It's wonderful and really gives you a sense of the man and his extraordinary talent.

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    2. I think Kirby's work gives off a sense of something so big that one artist can't fully realize it. That's why I believe, though I can't say for sure, that the average fans prefer Kirby's work when he's grounded by Lee, while creators tend to hold his solo career in equal or greater esteem.

      With Lee, on the other hand, fans get a sense of something more complete, more fully realized. Kirby kept pushing the envelope and challenging himself, while Lee kept getting better at doing what he'd always been good at, until eventually he'd said everything he wanted to say about as perfectly as it could be said.

      You could easily see Lee's Spider-Man ending with Gwen Stacy returning from Europe, because the book had essentially been running in circles after Captain Stacy's death. For Lee, at least as I read him, he'd brought the story to its natural conclusion. If he could have ended Spidey's story, I think Peter would have married Gwen and found a balance between heroism and family life. Something a lot like DeFalco's Spider-Girl. He's still got problems, but on the whole, he's a happy (if concerned) husband and father.

      Kirby's work, on the other hand, is more like a challenge, an acknowledgement that he's the first guy to really try doing it like this and his spiritual successors will have to complete his legacy. After all, isn't that the intended message of his orginal ending for FOURTH WORLD, where Orion and Darkseid kill each other and bring about a FIFTH WORLD? You kids will have to create your own worlds.

      In that sense, JL3K is a very real successor to Kirby, because it's a book that's kind of free to do its own thing in a way that so few are. I have no freaking idea where that book will be in five years, and I doubt you and Giffen do either, which is a lot of fun.

      Batman, on the other hand, is the most like Lee's legacy in my opinion. He is the best at what he does. You kind of know what he's going to be doing and how he's going to be doing for the next 100 years, and there's nothing wrong with that. It frees Batman's creative teams to focus on the execution more than the concept, since it's already established.

      At any rate, I think the same is probably true of Lennon and McCartney. Musicians will look to Lennon's solo work as a high point, when he could realize his vision, whereas mainstream music fans tend to prefer his Beatles work, and see McCartney's work as a clearer extension of the Fab Four.

      Best,

      David

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    3. That's a pretty brilliant analysis, David...in terms of both of Stan & Jack and John & Paul.

      Re: JL3K. Keith's vision of the book is very Kirby-like in that he wants to unleash something new and different on the readers every month. As you'll see in the stories coming up, he's delivering on that promise.

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    4. I think that Will Eisner said it best with Jack Kirby always though of himself as a writer, but he wasn't so much a writer as a creator and Lee thought himself a creator but he was more a writer.

      Despite coming up with the Fantastic Four (and that has been proven) he approached it as a writer. Stan started with characters, Kirby with big ideas.Oddly enough, through the 70s Kirby Cap stories I think he wanted to be Lee. He tried injecting "real people problems" like missing a date, and it seemed incredibly out of place.Many of Kirby's "failings" felt like storyboards to a movie. It was good ideas lacking a human element. It felt incomplete. Lee's "failings" just seem like a bad episode of a tv show you want to like or already do.

      As for the Defenders... Defenders 101 was the first issue I read of it, which was the clean up issue of the six-fingered hand saga. It was an odd beginning.to the series. But God, I loved the Silver Surfer and Devil-Slayer story elements.

      I personally see your Defenders as a swan song to the 70s (along with some Claremont work). The first story involved almost every big name in 70s only comics... and some lessers. You even wound them down to happy endings and walking away. It was also the end of those wacky philosophical/social commentary tales that made the decade so memorable.

      Jack

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    5. Proving once again, Jack, what a wise man Eisner was. I think his observation was incredibly insightful. You can poke some holes in it, but, overall, I believe it's true.

      DEFENDERS #101 must have been a weird jump-on point. "How come nobody's fighting? How come Doc Strange and Clea are dancing?"

      Devil-Slayer was a fascinating character. Loved the stories that focused on him, especially "Hunger," which, I think, was one of the best of the DEFENDERS run.

      Delete
    6. Was Hunger the one where Devil-Slayer has the old-hippie he was helping used as a pawn against him? And was Essentially the Ending of Devil-Slayer for a while? If so, that was pretty good.

      This was after Defenders had been over for a little while, all I knew was that it was the "weird team," so I had no idea what to expect. The lack of fighting was fine, but all the talk of people lost in Hell was sort of weird. This was a little while after the Defenders ended, so there was no context at all for me.

      As for Mr. Eisner's view, it was only two sentences, so who knows how accurate he was. It was in the Frank Miller Will Eisner book, and Frank isn't exactly an expert interviewer, so it didn't get expanded on. It was really just a book on art technique and style.

      I did my est to try to expand it, but that was based off of my views, not Will's.

      Jack

      Delete
    7. I can see why traditional Marvel fans thought Kirby had lost it with his second Cap run. That "Madbomb" arc was wiiiiiiild! I kind of love it myself because it's such an interesting departure from form. That said, I was nearly three decades removed from it when I first read it, so I wasn't worried that it would shape Cap for years to come. Had I been reading it at the time, I'd have been freaked out. There is some really bad dialogue if memory serves.

      And honestly, on the whole, I think Kirby unleashed is a pretty poor fit for established characters, especially Marvel's. I prefer guys like Spider-Man and Cap to be grounded, and it seems their stories are getting wilder every year.

      With Spidey being an Avenger and having scores of spider-themed allies, virtually all he's lacking now is an army of spider-pets.

      So, oddly enough, DC's characters seem increasingly grounded these days, and Marvel's have ventured off in directions that might even give Kirby pause! If you'd told me twenty years ago that Peter Parker would be leading an army of alternate universe Spider-people against mystical forces, I'd have laughed uncontrollably! Not a bad idea, but it sure feels like a weird reversal for a fan of the eighties, which had pretty much exorcised the 70s quirkiness and gotten back to basics.

      Best,

      David

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    8. "Hunger" was the one where Devil Slayer kept returning to the Negative Zone, pondering suicide...while simultaneously visiting key people an moments in his life. Is that the one you mean?

      You and Eisner are clearly both insightful people, Jack. I acknowledge your wisdom along with Will's!!

      Delete
    9. What's interesting, David, is that so much of the Kirby work that was reviled at Marvel in the 70's is back in print now and deeply loved. I'm not a huge fan of that Cap run myself: my favorite Kirby of the era is THE ETERNALS, where Jack went off and did his own thing. Some great stories, concepts and characters there.

      Good point, too, about Spider-Man. I haven't read the current stories—and, given my respect for Dan Slott, I'm sure they're excellent—but the concept does seem very DC and very different from the "street level" Spidey we're accustomed to. But, then, that's what people said about the Clone Saga!

      Delete
    10. You're absolutely right, JMD. It would seem that they can't print Kirby stuff fast enough to meet demand, and his influence is deeply felt across the board. Comics are a funny business, and even when a story seems universally reviled, it often turns out not to be the case. I haven't read it, but I understand that Rick Remender's Cap recent stuff is way more Kirby than Lee.

      The Clone Saga was pretty far out there, but it was also grounded in Peter's marriage (and Ben's lack thereof). As controversial as the marriage was, I think it had a tendency to anchor Peter's wilder experiences. And MJ was actually at the center of every Spider-Man (and clone's) arc. Peter's fear of being a clone had been foreshadowed with the way he was losing touch with his human side and his marriage, Ben was trying not to interfere with Peter's relationship, and Kaine was determined to protect MJ from the horrible fate he'd foreseen at all costs.

      The Clone Saga didn't necessarily take things too far so much as it went on too long. It's okay for Spidy to have wilder adventures, but four books a month for nearly a year was a bit much! (Maybe that's why LOST YEARS' earthy, noir spin was so refreshing.)

      --David

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    11. It went on for way more than a year, David.

      I agree about the marriage grounding things, but we still went way overboard with some elements ("Maximum Clonage" especially). That said, there were many wonderful elements, and characters, in that storyline and it's nice to see some of them living on.

      Delete
  15. MAXIMUM CLONEAGE?! Never heard of it! :)

    --David

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  16. That is exactly the issue of Defenders I was thinking of. I don't know wht the series gets so little respect, when ever Marvel does a book about there Universe the Defenders are barely mentioned.

    I remember really liking the Eternals when I read them, I actually liked the idea more than the New Gods. I also liked 2001 and Machine Man, and thought that Devil Dinosaur was fun, no more and no less... and that is perfectly fine!

    About the Marvel/DC seeming switch... it is odd. I saw a thing online about Batman and the Avengers, where Batman is a hated loner and the Avengers are all best friends, and I thought, that is what the movies show... but isn't Marvel supposed to have the angsty freaks? In the best possible way of course.

    Slott is doing something similar with the Silver Surfer, I don't want to say good or bad, or right or wrong, but definitely a different take than any other writer. It feels like Doctor Who has a huge role in the idea.

    I wonder if this is over correction on MArvel's part, because for a little over a decade, EVERYTHING was street level and angsty. Even the Avengers were made up of street level characters and dealing with threats like gang wars.

    I think DC is just trying to emulate MArvel, or just as likely seperate itself from the shining example of perfection.

    The sad thing is that while was more Marve than DC, I liked both for what they were, and the characters were better at the style their UNiverse had. decided on. Liked Marvel's sort of realistic tone with heroes often in a world less connected top superheroes, and I liked DC having a world that had grown around superheroes since 1930s, where being a superhero was almost a life style opposed to marvel making it a mere character trait. Now it seems like they have sort of swirled together, taking a certain amount of the uniqueness away. It does almost seem that (like in the Golden age) they could be operating out of the same universe.


    JAck

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    Replies
    1. On a more practical level, Jack. the "swirling together" really began in the 70's when we saw many of the same creators—Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Steve Gerber, Steve Englehart, Gerry Conway, to name a few—working for both Marvel and DC, bringing elements of one universe to the other. The definitive differences of the sixties started to blur then.

      When I was a kid and I went to the newsstand (no comic book shops then), the difference between a Marvel comic and a DC comic were inescapable—and it was all right there on the cover. But those days, I think, are long gone—and have been for many years. The idea we all once and that DC has the "classic" heroes and Marvel has the "upstarts" seems a little dated when Spider-Man is more than fifty years old.

      In the end, for me, I'm just looking for good stories. All those writers mentioned above went from company to company, leaving a string of wonderful stories in their wake. I know that, for me, a guy who started at DC, did tons of work for Marvel, then spent years going back and forth between companies, I never stopped to think about the difference in the companies; I just locked onto, and into, the characters and wrote the best stories I could.

      That's a long answer for eight o'clock in the morning!

      Delete
  17. Dematteis... I'd like to see you do a Ben Urich mini series.


    Jack

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    1. I don't think I've ever written Ben Urich. I'll have to look back at my short DAREDEVIL run and see if he appeared...but I don't think he did.

      Delete
    2. Well, that story won't get written with you sitting here goldbircking.



      Jack

      Delete
  18. Just remember though, you did put Ghost Rider in Detroit during your first Defenders epic, and had had the Defenders show up. Its like you knew you'd be here one day.


    Jack

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    Replies
    1. Another example of my psychic prowess.

      Delete
    2. I'm not a huge fan of the way DC and Marvel's styles have meshed. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule.

      DC's magic and supernatural stuff still feels very distinctive, and they've pretty much kept it that way since the 70s, maybe because sales expectations are lower and it's easier to insulate them from modern trends. But I've never picked up SWAMP THING, or PHANTOM STRANGER, or JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK and felt like it could easily be transplanted into a DR. STRANGE book.

      In the 80s, I think the wall of separation between VERTIGO and the DCU kept the supernatural stuff 'pure' for lack of a better word.

      And now, after the walls between VERTIGO and the DCU have once again broken down, I'd credit Dan Didio. He clearly LOVES DC's 70s stuff and knows how to bring it into the present day without losing what made it special in the first place. The only character that seems to be controversial, and I was never a reader so I can't really speak to the changes involved, is Constantine.

      So while The New 52 is Dan Didio's most obvious financial legacy, I'd say DC's fringe stuff (because that would bring OMAC and JL3K into the fold) is his purest contribution to modern storytelling.

      I think you're right about the late 1970s/early 1980s 'cross-pollination.' It was a perfect storm of sorts. Marvel's newest wave of creators had huge successes using the kind of creative freedom you could only get with low expectation books.

      Claremont on UNCANNY X-MEN, Michelinie on IRON MAN, Byrne on FF, Simonson on THE MIGHTY THOR, Peter David on THE INCREDIBLE HULK, Frank Miller on DAREDEVIL. They all got away with things you just couldn't do with SPIDER-MAN.

      Which meant it was a perfect storm, because then DC offered them the opportunity to remake their universe in Marvel's image.

      And even though it might not have been the best thing from a brand perspective, I'd argue that DC was (generally) putting out better "Marvel" comics than Marvel in the 1990s. And not coincidentally, it was the first time I had DC books on my pull list.

      It was only through the work of Mark Waid--both on FLASH and KINGDOM COME--that I eventually came to appreciate what DC once had to offer, instead of dismissing it as irrelevant. So that's been an interesting journey for me as a reader.

      With Marvel, I think the breakdown of the 'secret-identity' has played a huge role in bringing characters closer to the DC side of things, because that was always a huge part of what grounded them. Without that, it becomes more about the adventures, and less about the running subplots.

      --David

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    3. Beautifully said, David. Why am I not surprised?

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    4. I don't think that you really have to think about the difference in the characters before writing to differentiate. Superhero is more all encompassing in the DCU. Who is Green Lantern's best friend? Green Arrow. Who is Daredevil's? Foggy Nelson. You call them Batman and Superman not Bruce and Clark when discussing them with fans, while you are more likely to say Peter and Ben instead of Spider-man and Thing.

      For all the work Englehart, Starlin, Wein, O'Neil, and crew did to make them more realistic, they kept that alive. Even after Crisis when DC actually tried to adopt Marvel ideas, There was still an idea that superheroes were a different world, a separate group from humanity at large, they were there own group, not just people with super powers.

      MArvel on the other hand treated characters all the way through as groups of people who just sort of had superpowers.

      In other words if Spider-man lost his powers he would feel he should help people even though he can't anymore, while Green Lantern might have an identity crisis and not know who he is anymore. In effect Crisis actually cemented this idea while adopting the opposing view, by making a long history of superheroes that per-dated the most popular characters it seemed almost like a subculture within the universe.

      Now does that mean using opposing ideas can't work? Of course not, and yes good stories are the most important part. However giving the opposing origins it can make certain choices seem more alien than others. For Example when Peter Parker moved into the Avengers mansion it never sat right with me, and I didn't know why. But it was probably the fact that the majority of his supporting characters now were superheroes. The everyman was anything but.

      It seems more like Marvel is adopting more DC methods than vise verse these days. If I had to guess this is most likely the idea of pushing a shared universe harder than ever to coincide with the movies, along with for a few years making almost everyone an Avenger (and there were some odd choices), constant big events (probably the biggest cause, a desire for bigger stories, and as I said an over correction of grim and gritty under Joey Q. And of course a generation of writers who were fans and not writers and artists in the era of growing similarities, and a seeming preference for tales that are not as connected with the secret ID.

      Of course the growing loss of internal monologue and thought balloons and narration hurts the Marvel idea far more than DC

      So is any of this bad? As a whole... no. But to the individual? yeas, sometimes. I do think that comic creators get so caught up in defending their ideas sometimes, they forget that you can not like something without thinking it of bad quality. So to this end, to prove that they are on target they will take already existing ideas and expand them out more than previously done, like say Captain America's fondness for Spider-man, and then push it further, like having him not only become an Avenger but have him move in with them. So while making this accurate and not out of line it can disregard a history and disconnect ideas from what fans love about the characters.

      Now, usually writers will balance out these two conflicts and land in a good spot. That's the beauty of ongoing, correction and explanation. IN a world of increasing editorial control, and big events, and shaping for movies, and big ideas, there is less time and space to find that sweet spot. So things can become runaway. Especially at Marvel since the characters in themselves are less of icons than DC, so nuance is more important. You have to know the person, not an idea behind them.

      sorry.

      Jack.

      Delete
    5. As for mentioning Detroit in Defenders, I think in was the cosmic conscience telling you that there someday there would be someone there that you HAD to meet.

      Jack

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    6. Oh yea, I know I mentioned "shared universe," and that was always a Marvel staple, but I think that it was pushed to a further point, making the relationships with other heroes in some cases as big or bigger than with the traditional elements of the story.

      Never hurts to clarify.

      Now...to sleep!


      Jack

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    7. I think if I just get out of the way, Jack, and let you, David and Rick (who I'm sure has some strong ideas about this) hash it out, we'll have enough material for a fascinating book.

      And nothing to be sorry about.

      Also: "You have to know the person, not the idea behind them" applies across the board. For me, if a story is rooted in concept, not character, you've failed. It's got to be about the people, first and foremost. (There are, as always, exceptions to the rules.)

      Delete
    8. Exellent analysis as always, Jack. I think you've hit the nail on the head about the way DC fit their pre-existing characters into the post-Crisis world. One of the things that immediately struck me about the DCU when I first began reading their books in the 90s was the legacy hero.

      That was especially true of Waid's Flash, where Wally West fought alongside the Golden Age Flash while honoring the Silver Age Flash's memory...and taking Bart Allen under his wing along the way. And there are a lot of pros and cons where the New 52 is concerned, but the biggest loss was undoubtedly the legacy heroes. When they compressed the timeline and de-aged guys like Batman, it meant that Dick Grayson was now closer in appromixation to Bruce Wayne's kid brother than his son, and all the Robins were squished so close together there wasn't the same sense of cross-generational teamwork.

      There have been some exciting developments with the post-Crisis characters recently, or so I've heard, that might blow those doors wide open again...

      As far as secret IDs go, I think 9/11, the Patriot Act and digital media have eroded the concept. It's harder to imagine these days that someone wouldn't accidentally catch Peter Parker changing into his costume on their cell phone. But honestly...I don't care if it's supposedly difficult to suspend belief. The idea behind the secret identity is that we all have loving, heroic qualities that might not be obvious to those around us. We all face inner struggles, after all, and sometimes getting up in the morning feels like a challenge equivalent to taking on the Brotherood of Evil!

      Oh, and JMD, I've got to say that JLD: FUTURE'S END was awesome...and disturbing. You've really got me worried about where the future's taking the team...in a good way. I did not see THAT coming.

      Best,

      David

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    9. Your point about secret identities in the post-9/11 era is right on the money, David...and, honestly, I'd never really thought about it. We're being observed and monitored in so many ways that it would be almost impossible for someone like Peter Parker to maintain that secret. That said, I agree that suspension of disbelief is a must. We've got to have some fun, right?

      Thanks for the kind words re: FUTURE'S END. It was a fun story to write.

      Delete
    10. It's funny, because to my mind, the harder writers try to explain heroes in 'realistic' terms the thinner their explanations seem. That's not to say it can't be done well, but it usually just calls attention to things that shouldn't be the focus anyway.

      But I'm a big fan of the sillier ways heroes maintain their identities, like when Peter Parker webbed up some fake bats to scare his sunbathing neighbors off the roof. More recently, Dan Slott had a fun take on how an unmasked Peter narrowly missed being exposed as Spider-Man on live television.

      I mean, maybe we deeply need some genius writer to show us the way by retconning that fun little bit from the 80s and explaining how Peter made his bats so convincing...but I highly doubt it. :)

      --David



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    11. Yes, there's a point where you have to stop explaining and just accept the absurdity of the premise.

      I don't remember the bats. Reminds me of the few times Kirby drew Spidey and had him come up with all manner of web weapons.

      On another front: Has anyone else noticed that the "shortest post ever" has perhaps the most COMMENTS ever?

      Delete
    12. The bat trick is from ASM 271, "Whatever Happened to Crusher Hogan?" It's an underrated gem by Tom DeFalco. It's from the days when Peter had three hot neighbors--Candi, Randi, and Bambi--whose romantic attentions frequently caused him trouble.

      As far as the comments go, I guess it's because you were out of pocket for a while and we're all making up for lost time!

      --David

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    13. If it's a DeFalco story, it must be good! (I have vague memories of Candi, Randi and Bambi.)

      Delete
    14. "On another front: Has anyone else noticed that the "shortest post ever" has perhaps the most COMMENTS ever?"

      I did, indeed. Not counting this post, the ratio of words posted to comments made is 5.24 to 1. Not quite up there with the Ten Commandments, but certainly headed in that direction. August company. Rick

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    15. August company? But it's September! (rimshot)

      Delete
  19. "It's funny, because to my mind, the harder writers try to explain heroes in 'realistic' terms the thinner their explanations seem."

    I think that part of the problem is simply that "realistic" heroes are normal people who rise to the occasion of heroism. JFK was a hero, but he was also an adulterer who made deals with mobsters. To do an ongoing series about, say, a Peter Parker who caught Doc Ock, and then cheated on his taxes to make ends meet isn't too inspiring. Furthermore, a lot of people want inspiration even if it isn't real. Rick

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In TV these days, the JFK model is exactly what people are looking for. In superhero comics, though, it seems we like protagonists who are flawed, but consistently rise above those flaws.

      Delete
    2. I have got to develop the discipline to write a script for my character.

      Delete
    3. Well, my story consultation business is still going!

      Delete
  20. So many things to get too, except that JFK thing, that is a mine field I ain't walking into here.

    But before we get that, here is a question that can bring it all together...

    In 1985 Squadron Supreme, written by Mark Gruenwald, was released. A year later similar themes were discussed in two other books that came out, Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns, however they gained far more attention than Squadron ever got. What;'s more I would say that some heftier topics were hit upon. Why is this?

    Jack

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    Replies
    1. What I've seen with my own work, Jack, is that, in comics, all the elements have to hit a magic balance: the writing, art, coloring, lettering, have to all come to gather in some sublime way to make a classic. Or something that's perceived as classic.

      KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT lives on year after year, finding new readers and new editions, but there are other superhero stories of mine that I think are better—but they don't get the praise KLH does. There was something in the mix of my story with Mike Zeck's art...and every other element...along with the timing of when the story appeared...that combined to give KRAVEN a kind of impact I never anticipated. And that continues to resonate twenty-five years later.

      I think the same applies to SQUADRON SUPREME. A terrific book, great themes, an excellent creative team...and yet that ineffable "something" that WATCHMEN had simply wasn't there. Please note, I'm not saying WATCHMEN was better than SQUADRON (or vice-versa), just that the final SS product did not spark the collective imagination in the same way that WM did.

      Part of that might have to do with form, not content: WATCHMEN (and DARK KNGHT, too) was as much about HOW the story was told as it was about the story itself. Both felt revolutionary in the storytelling. SS was, perhaps, a revolutionary story, told in a more traditional way. Again, that's not a knock—I bow to none in my respect for Mark Gruenwald, who was both my editor and my friend—just an observation.

      And I certainly didn't expect to write such a long reply to that question!

      Delete
    2. You know you really shouldn't be typing "SS" when praising something.

      I think you got it perfectly there at the end. Gruenwald WAS ahead of his time, even in other ways. His Captain America/Agent story, I think was a precursor to the Death of Superman and Knightfall saga. The elements of mind switching and changing in Squadron would be a major point in the DC Universe 20 years later. However he had an old fashioned way of writing, even for the time. The dialogue especially could feel old fashioned. That isn't a bad thing per se, but people can be very superficial at times. And in the end this can make it harder to see a leap ahead, because to some it might just feel like a really good story opposed to something revolutionary. Of course comics could have taken if Squadron Supreme was put in that same pool. Gruenwald's tale seems more like evolution than deconstruction. If that had been a guiding princioal, there may not have been a decade of unmaking heroes, with mixed results. There may have been a greater variety.

      However, I will say this, and I don't think anyone could argue, whether you like Watchmen, DKR, or Squadron Supreme more, Gruenwaldd felt far more invested on an emotional and personal level. HIs work often did, but especially there, this is why old fashioned can be over looked... it was good and it was from someone who had something to say. It is only fitting that he would be the first. In fact the back of the trade reads,"before Kingdom Come, Before watchmen, before stories like this were common place, there was... Squadron Supreme." I mean more or less, I don;'t have the book in front of me. A fitting tribute.


      Now, an oft forgotten comic tribute:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SPyzW5GBrs


      Jack

      PS, you need to get on whether my theory on Ghost Rider in Detroit is either right, or erily right with a strange feeling that I may be of the divine.

      Delete
    3. "More like evolution than deconstruction." Very well said, Jack. You also hit the nail on the head talking about Gruenwald's investment in those characters and their world. Mark G was passionate about the Marvel AND DC universes and thought about them in very deep and insightful ways. More than that, he truly loved those universes.

      A wonderful writer, a wonderful man and a great loss that he left us so young.

      I'd never heard that "Challengers" song...and I liked it quite a bit.

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    4. Yeah, of all the comics to reference Challengers of the Unknown us a weird one. Glad you liked it though. It is a good song. Good ol' Neko Case.

      Yay, I was right about something, but it was bound to happen eventually.

      However, for all of Gruenwald's greatness he did make one misstep... breaking up Cap and Bernie, Because if there was anyone who needed a nice Jewish girl it was Cap. Come on, you know I'm right. DOn't be afraid to chime in.

      That reminds me I do have two questions.:

      1. When you guys revealed Aunt May's surname during the Clone Saga, why Reilly? Come on, she's a member of the tribe?
      2. What wa
      s the origin of you putting together the New Defenders during your run?

      Thanks.

      Jack

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    5. My memory is that it had already been established, in some earlier story, that May's maiden name was Reilly. And I agree: If ever there was a Jewish character in the MU, May was it.

      Re: NEW DEFENDERS. As I recall, I felt I'd exhausted the supernatural aspect of the team and was looking for a new direction. The joke is, once I established the new team, I realized that I'd turned DEFENDERS into exactly the kind of more traditional super team I didn't want to write...and I left the book a few months later!

      Delete
    6. Really, Reilly was established earlier? What makes me think that was a Conway decision. Maybe it was an Ellis Island thing. Giving an Irish name is an odd choice , but stranger things have happened, or maybe she was adopted.


      And going back to my other point, if even anyone deserved a nice Jewish girl it's Captain America. Come on, with Sharon Carter he can got shot and only get a "suck it up, Steve." Bernie Rosenthal will make him chicken soup if he comes home with a runny nose from fighting the forces of fascism on a cold November day. Not to mention all time bragging rights for Bernie, seriously, what friend's husband can live up to Captain America. Also., if I remember correctly she blows glass... it isn't particularly helpful, but it can't hurt.

      It just goes to show that you and Roger Stern got him... even if you did make him get drunk.

      Jack

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    7. I meant the Reilly name pre-dated our 90's Clone Saga, so it's very possible that Conway came up with it.

      Bernie was a great character. Whatever happened to her?

      Steve? Drunk? Never!

      Delete
    8. I know what you meant Deamtteis.

      As for Bernie, she moved to Wisconsin and became a lawyer. She still pops every now and then. I think she showed up when Arnie Roth died, a few years ago she even acted as defense lawyer for Bucky when he was put on trial for for his acts as the Winter Soldier, so she is sort of a hero in her own right.

      Jack

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    9. This is probably going to shock you given everything I've written so far, but you said you thought Bernie Rosenthal was a I good character, well I (get ready to pick you jaw off of the ground)... think she is too.

      Any way, fortunately my Cap comics from a certain era are easy to get to, and I had a memory of something, and I was right. There i a story by Roger Stern in Captain America 600 where Bernie and another member of tenant of the apartment complex reminisce and mourn Steve's passing on the anniversary of his then death. Okay, so it was actually like 4 years I think, but you know comic book time. She was shown to maybe not be carrying a torch for Steve, but she at least has a pretty hefty book of matches with his name on it.

      It is a really good issue in the middle of a rally good run. I'd suggest seeking it out next time your making pacts with the devil for comics... o inr a comic book store I don't know.

      Jack

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    10. I'm waiting for Marvel to put out a BERNIE ROSENTHAL, SENTINEL OF LIBERTY monthly. I'll write that one.

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    11. Better idea:

      An alternate reality series, sort of like what Defalco has done with Spider-girl or the short lived back-up Mr.and Mrs, Parker where Cap and Bernie DID get married. Maybe she went to law school in New York, or Cap let her use Avengers technology to commute. It takes place past all of that where they have settled into a nice life. Now, here is the best part, it's a JLI type series, a sitcom with superheros as the back drop.

      Falcon can be his single friend who has picked some of his slack, and is always saying how great the single life is.

      Beast can be the wacky neighbor.

      The whole host of normal superheroics is there but comedy and Steve and Bernie's relationship is the glue that holds it together.

      Captain America (& Bernie?): Domestic... bliss. I even have the title for the first story:

      "Hurry up with those terrorists, or we'll be late for Seder!"

      it is disturbing how much I would love this comic. Once again Creation point out does DC and the so called "House of Ideas" at there own game only to be shunned.

      Don't tell me that you aren't salivating to write this now, Dematteis.

      Jack

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    12. Let me call Keith Giffen and Kevin Maguire. This is right up our alley! : )

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    13. Oh my God, I am so Depressed, because I SO want this comic to happen and I feel that5 it won't.


      Such a drag.


      Jack

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    14. Guess you'll have to change the names and make it your first foray into Creator Owned comics. Hey, it worked for me with SAVIOR 28!

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    15. That's out of the question, look let's you and me be real, you can't recreate Bernie. She is unique.If you take anything out or change it around you don't have the seem sweet, funny, kind offbeat, nurturing, self-confident, smart woman we all fell in love with. She is absolutely perfect as she is.

      So, why not just change the name? Do you really think Marvel would let that happen? I would be sued in a heartbeat. They couldn't let someone else run with that character as a co-star.

      I just have to keep hoping you'll eventually get around to it. It will be right next to the return of Spider-man the Lost Years. Because, look I love MJ Watson-Parker, Shalla-bal and Betty Brant are Great. Storm will always be a good character, but Bernie is the heartbeat of Marvel, and she needs, NEEDS to be in print.

      As for your proposed creative team, do we need Giffen. Don't get me wrong, I think Giffen is great on a team or on his own, but Bernie needs someone who gets her, someone with experience with her. Of course if you vouch, I'll concede.


      Seriously, people go on and on about Gwen Stacy, but my sweet Bernie Rosenthal; gets forgotten? What the Hell?

      Jack

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    16. And we'll leave that as the last word, for now, on the Bernie Rosenthal ongoing series!

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    17. But it will never be the last word on Bernie in my heart...


      Jack

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