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So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards

Necro

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So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« on: July 25, 2016, 10:05:21 AM »
Before the rebirth issues, I felt like the Superman books were meandering about.
Storylines were either unengaging, dragged on for too long, or made me lose interest in the middle of them.

In short, I thought the book was pretty damn boring.

Even the Doomsday storyline was eh, and while I applaud them for trying something else, I never really felt like the new incarnation was truly all that dangerous, even with it destroying everything around it. It just kind of fell flat to me, which, I guess, is the problem if you have an evil force that most people only can look at from the distance. Old Doomsday would wade into battle and smash the shit out of everyone, making it automatically more impressive, even if there was a lot of jobbing going on.

So, enough grumbling about the old, new, and lets talk about the new old.
The first few issues of Superman, along with the JLA rebirth issue were fantastic!
It was really great to see Superman back in action, the real one, and not only look good, but also offer an engaging story with a few mysteries thrown in.

I don't know how to explain it, but it really feels like the old, the REAL Superman is back.
He is thoughtful, intelligent, -experienced-, and I feel like they managed to capture the aura of a guy you can say "Yeah, he'll save me." I never felt Nu-52 Superman commanded even close the respect and the presence that Post-Crisis Superman did, but now that Post-C Supes is back, it really shows a tonal shift in the storytelling.

I am surprised, and immensely pleased, that they kept his family and son. I enjoy seeing how he tries to mentor his kid, while finding his place within this Brave-New-World.

It is also interesting to watch how the other JLA members are suspicious of him, although it feels like that isn't given enough face time yet. I'd want to see how they interact with him, each one, and how they deal with this "older, unknown version" of a friend they just saw dying.

Which brings me probably to my biggest gripe.
Wonder Woman.
She just watched her "lover" die, and now here is another guy with the same face, same body, just 10 years older, and married to Lois.
We didn't really have any chance yet to see how she reacts to all of this.
The love of her life died, and it seemed to have done little to her, really. I want to see her interact with the older Superman.

Lex Luthor.
Oh, I do love Lex.
No matter which version, he is always fun.
I'm enjoying seeing him, and while I am sure he has not really changed, it's fun to watch him interact, playing on being Hero.
I wish we had gotten more of a chance to see him try to take Superman's place, since he always felt that Kal held him back from being the world's rightful 'Superman', but he seems to regard the Post-Crisis Superman as an imposter, so I'm sure there will be a few twists coming yet.

The Chinese Superman.
...well, that was awful in all ways possible.
I really thought they had a chance to do something good with the concept, but they managed to make it godawful, boring, and with horrible art to boot.
Very disappointment, so much ugh. Wish they had gone with him being an actual Government stooge who gets the powers and then tries to be a genuine hero. Ah well.

So, loving the hell out of the New Old Superman.
Hell, even him showing the shield feels -right- again.

Also, is it me, or is the S-Shield quite a bit more prominent/larger/more eye-drawing on Post-Crisis Supes chest than it ever was on Nu-52? Or maybe it's that he's just a bit more barrel chested. Always thought SuperMAN should be a broad shouldered, early-mid 30 guy, not a lean 18 year old.

That is what SuperBOYS are for.



versus



All that artificial armor crap (On Superman of all people) sure didn't do the other costume favors.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 10:17:07 AM by Necro »

Pillow Biter

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2016, 02:20:17 PM »
They always struggled trying to find the balance between showing a younger, more immature Superman and still having Superman seem special and inspiring, and not JUST for his power level. They rarely found the right mix. This was particularly true because none of the other heroes--who were all supposed to be younger, more immature versions--seemed to show the same lack of experience. I mean Batman was just Batman.

Clownprince23

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2016, 06:23:43 PM »
I agree. The return of Post Crisis Superman has been wonderful. It finally feels like Superman again.

One of the things that I think makes up Superman, and the movie and Nu52 has lacked, is that Superman is the authority figure you know you can trust. Just like a kid knows he can go up to a police man or firefighter, you should have that feeling towards Superman. There was a convention years ago when a small kid was lost, and went up to cos players dressed as Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman, because in his mind he knew he could trust them. I didn't get that from Nu52, but from Post Crisis Supe's I do.

Necro

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2016, 07:07:32 PM »
I agree. The return of Post Crisis Superman has been wonderful. It finally feels like Superman again.

One of the things that I think makes up Superman, and the movie and Nu52 has lacked, is that Superman is the authority figure you know you can trust. Just like a kid knows he can go up to a police man or firefighter, you should have that feeling towards Superman. There was a convention years ago when a small kid was lost, and went up to cos players dressed as Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman, because in his mind he knew he could trust them. I didn't get that from Nu52, but from Post Crisis Supe's I do.

This is pretty much what I meant.
Exactly that!
When Superman arrives, people should go "It's Ok now."
Never once felt that way with Nu-52.

And while this is All-Star Superman, I always felt the Post-Crisis Superman felt into that category as well:

Everyone likes feats, but Superman has always been a beacon of safety and hope and inspiration and protection.
Him arriving on the scene meant that everything is going to work out.

The trust was never there with Nu-52 Superman.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2016, 07:10:00 PM by Necro »

Tarugo

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2016, 01:19:15 AM »
Pass me the tissue, plssssss...... :'(
Nothing Is Impossible - Batman!


Necro

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2016, 05:04:58 AM »
Point right there.

I also think it didn't help that, for the whole run of the Nu-Superman, we got the whole spiel about how dangerous Meta-Humans are, and how the public doesn't trust him. I mean, that is fine for an arc, but who thought it was a smart idea to make Superman the focus of the 90s X-Men comics?

How can any of the traits we see in Superman important, be part of the character, when the storylines themselves totally undermine it?
People -aren't- afraid of Superman, ffs. They aren't Lex Luthor, thinking he is here to take the world over, or destroy it. That was never a core part of his storytelling, so it's utterly frustrating to see it being part of Nu-52 from the beginning to the very end of his existence. No surprise he didn't work.

It also didn't help that they cut away all of his human connections.
His parents always did tether him, but now they were gone. Instead he lived in Metropolis on his own.
Sure, there was shitty Jimmy, but he really never mattered. Especially since he was a fucking multi-millionaire for part of his Nu-existence.
Then there is Lois. If they tried to play up any sexual, or emotional connection, they royally fucked up with that. Because we got nothing of it. If the writers actually wanted us to believe they care about each other, outside of some token "Oh, you're my best friend" lines, but never actually taking the time to show it, then they failed spectacularly.

So, what does that leave us with?
Batman, who he did not really interact all that much with (compared to post-crisis Superman), and who, by all accounts, I mean, seriously, is even less human than Clark. There is a reason why we think that Clark is the true persona, and Superman is the cape, while with Bruce Wayne it's the other way around.

Which leaves us with...
Wonder Woman.
A Goddess. Of War. Peace, whatever.

Then they take away his secret identity, and run a HUGE storyline how his presence endangers all the neighbours where he lived. Way to go undermining a core part of fucking Superman, goddamnit!

Instead of feeling safe and protected, they actually had a year long storyline run in which it was the total opposite.
The storyline said: "You're close, and people DIE around you!".
It didn't help that at the end people rallied around him, because even then they couldn't get over shitty writing, and still some people questioned shit.

If your writers aren't capable of writing a Superman that inspires hope instead of fear, then someone must have no clue what makes Superman tick.
No, a throaway line about how he "can bench the earth" is not really fixing that shit.

So, I'm glad.
I had my fair share of issues with Post-Crisis Superman, mostly because of the insane fanboys, but at least he -felt- like Superman.
He -was- Superman. And people looked up to him.

There were a shitton of scenes in his comics where, in the back of my head, I was humming the John Williams Superman theme.
Never happened once with Nu-52.

They tried to make him edgy too much, turning shit around on the head just because.

A lot felt like this:


Also, showing how much of a fuck up Nu-52 Superman version was, Post-Crisis Superman is everything he isn't.
Secret Identity. Check.
Family to tether him to humanity. Check.
Lois. Check.
Son. Check.
Thoughtful, confident, intelligent. Check. Check. Check.

People don't trust young punks.
People trust a adult who knows what he does.

« Last Edit: July 26, 2016, 05:25:44 AM by Necro »

Pillow Biter

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2016, 07:51:40 AM »
We need to be careful. There is a danger of wanting Superman to be the way he always has been. To just be the icon. And in the process to forget that he still needs to be an interesting character you can actually write interesting stories about. The classic Superman persona can be so 'perfect' that it makes this job harder than it is with other characters.
So I didn't mind that the New 52 made some big changes. I don't think Lois is an essential element to Superman. I like what they are doing with Superman and his family now, but that could get boring in time. Changing those things up can be good. In fact, I think it's typically boring as hell when a superhero story is just about the one superhero and his non-powered supporting cast. It's the interactions of superheroes that I find compelling.
But the New 52 forgot one thing that IS central to Superman and the DCU: even without any powers, Superman is--as a person--one of the most impressive characters in the DCU. The reason that Superman and Batman are the core of the DCU is that Batman recognizes in Clark an equal--at the end of the day, his only equal. And it isn't about the powers. It's about the competence at what he does, the dedication, the raw intellect (though often portrayed as unrefined--that can be ok), and the inspirational goodness of Superman the MAN.
In the New 52, Superman rarely felt special beyond being the most powerful person on the planet. This lack was amplified by the fact that in many ways he was the only hero who had lost his essential mojo with the resetting of the DCU back to a time when heroes were younger and less experienced. Batman was still as competent as he'd ever been. Wonder Woman as well. Ditto for many others. It was just Supes that seemed to have lost his way.

Pillow Biter

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2016, 08:08:21 AM »
"Perfect" is a loaded word. But there can be no doubt that Superman's classic persona can be tough to write for. It's a tough balancing act that few writers can really nail, particularly in solo books where the focus is all on him. I don't mind some different takes to mix things up, where the core is still there, but you highlight some flaws.

Lois is a core element of the Superman mythos--but not essential in that he works without her. Some people felt their marriage was a huge mistake. I don't think Superman being with Diana instead of Lois was a key element to what was wrong with New 52 Superman.

Pillow Biter

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2016, 08:10:30 AM »
To be fair, early on Hal Jordan also seemed to have lost a lot of his experience and balance--he was young, cocky Hal. But frankly, he still worked. Hal's allowed to have more obvious personality flaws than Superman.

Necro

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2016, 08:51:25 AM »
You know, I actually thought you were interested in a conversation, but, like always, every point you make boils down to wanting Superman be TeH Awesomest!

Which is not what anyone here is talking about at all.
Superman is special because of his actions, which are guided by his humanity, not because he is "more awezome" than his peers.

You put him next to Green Lantern, and when there is a choice of who you want to protect you, you go to Superman. I guarantee to you, 9 of 10 people will make that choice.
But not because he is the most awezum, but because he is a protector, he is a guardian, he would literally throw his life away, as he DID against Doomsday, to protect the people around him.

Hal is still cocky. he is still at times an idiot.
Superman will -always- try better.


We need to be careful. There is a danger of wanting Superman to be the way he always has been. To just be the icon. And in the process to forget that he still needs to be an interesting character you can actually write interesting stories about. The classic Superman persona can be so 'perfect' that it makes this job harder than it is with other characters.
This is amusing, considering "character" usually boils down to "Power" with you.
There is nothing that holds Superman back from being an interesting character beyond the skill of the writer at the helm.

Was Superman a boring character under Morrison's pen?
I DARE you, I double dare you to tell me he was not immensely compelling, even in his Nu-52 shape, which was the only time I cared about Nu-him.


So I didn't mind that the New 52 made some big changes. I don't think Lois is an essential element to Superman. I like what they are doing with Superman and his family now, but that could get boring in time. Changing those things up can be good. In fact, I think it's typically boring as hell when a superhero story is just about the one superhero and his non-powered supporting cast. It's the interactions of superheroes that I find compelling.
Yeah, two things.
What the hell is wrong with you?
And what are you even talking about?

Superman's -human- supporting cast never really was the focus of his stories, and they never needed to be. They give him a contrast to the fantastical world he lives in. When he just smashed a dark god down, they helped to ground him. When there was a problem he couldn't figure out, he went home to his parents, sat with them, ate apple pie, and told them his concerns. That didn't make him 'weak', or 'boring'. That made him -human-.
This is the part you don't get. You NEVER did.

I find it funny that you caution against Superman being a simple icon, when he's never anything but a walking projection of a power fantasy for you.

He needed Lois in his life, because when he needed humanity around him, when he was done walking with GODS and creatures from beyond the universe. It helped remind him that, for all of his powers, he was like everyone else. He never considered himself special, which, incidentally -made- him special.
For all of his power, Superman was a humble, nice guy from Kansas, who just tried to make life a little better for everyone else, because he -cares-.

But the New 52 forgot one thing that IS central to Superman and the DCU: even without any powers, Superman is--as a person--one of the most impressive characters in the DCU. The reason that Superman and Batman are the core of the DCU is that Batman recognizes in Clark an equal--at the end of the day, his only equal. And it isn't about the powers. It's about the competence at what he does, the dedication, the raw intellect (though often portrayed as unrefined--that can be ok), and the inspirational goodness of Superman the MAN.
There we go again.
It's all about quantifiably being "better".
You are literally incapable of thinking outside of these terms, when it's the furthest away from how Superman ever would think of himself.

You know what made Superman special?
It wasn't that he is super-intelligent. He is.
It wasn't that Batman looked at him as equal (which he never did for the reasons you listed up).
It was that, even in the worst of battle, when he could decide between defeating his opponent, and saving a kid that is threatened by debris falling on it, he would go for the kid. He would catch the debris, would smile at the child, and things would be alright.
Batman loves Kal like a brother, and considers him his best friend -because- of that.
Because for all of Superman's powers, the only thing that matters to him is people.
In fact, I'm pretty fucking sure that Superman is the only person Batman thinks is better than he is, because while he is human, he is also terribly flawed. He is tempted.
Superman, he knows, will -always- do the right thing.
That is why he considers Superman his equal.

In the New 52, Superman rarely felt special beyond being the most powerful person on the planet. This lack was amplified by the fact that in many ways he was the only hero who had lost his essential mojo with the resetting of the DCU back to a time when heroes were younger and less experienced. Batman was still as competent as he'd ever been. Wonder Woman as well. Ditto for many others. It was just Supes that seemed to have lost his way.
And why may that be?
Think about it.
Why was it that all the other characters still felt like they always did?
I mean, fucking hell, you spelled it out, and you -still- don't see it.
It's because Nu-52 Superman had been stripped of all the things that made him special.
He was replaced with a punk who could punch stuff hard, but had zero personality.
All the things that defined him as the most grand, the most oustanding hero was GONE!
People feared him!
He had no connection to humanity anymore.
He had no fucking support cast, really.

You know how funny it is that Post-Crisis Superman ended up ten times as relatable to the normal person than Nu-52 Superman? think about that.
And get off on beyond "They didn't show him being speshul enough".

The only thing they needed to do with him was making him the guardian everyone wants him to be, instead of 1995 random X-men who was hated by the world, and played Linkin Park music while fucking a goddess on the side.

Fucks sake.
Nu-52 ended up a wet teenage fanboy's dream. Being super powerful, having no parents to tell him what to do, and fucking the prom (goddess) queen.

Pillow Biter

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2016, 09:27:38 AM »
Respectfully, I think you are being wildly unfair to me. And we don't actually disagree very much here.

I said that I prefer Superhero (and Superman) stories where there are other heroes to interact with. I didn't say that I had a problem with Superman having a human supporting cast, just that it can get boring if overdone. That is my opinion. Maybe others feel differently. I loved many of the moments with Ma and Pa Kent. But you can make Superman work with a wide variety of "supporting" cast members, as long as he is Superman.

I liked Morisson's work. My point is that it can be harder to write good Superman stories than it is for other characters on account of him not having the same obvious flaws. Many writers have said this. But that doesn't mean it can't be done--and it has. Moreover, many have said (and I agree) that when you do pull it off, it's all the more rewarding.

I don't get how this is all some power fantasy of mine. Superheroes are ultimately brightly-colored Greek myths, in a way. Part of their appeal is that they operate on the same basic level. Power levels and rankings matter, just as they did with the myths. But just because they set the scene--not because a character should be a power fantasy. Zeus should be the most powerful God because that is part of his mythos. Other characters should not be too powerful. Odysseus should be less of a warrior than Achilles. It's about everyone's power matching their mythos, no more, no less.

And none of this has been about power. But now I stand accused of taking my "power fantasies" into the realm of personal characteristics. Like there should be no ranking or comparison of those, either. But there is, and should be. It's all necessarily a little more ambiguous than the ranking of super power levels, but it's there and it matters. But again, it's all about the proper positioning of characters relative to what makes their mythos work. There may be "better" or "worse" (in a rough sense), but you shouldn't want your favorite guy to be better or worse than anyone just because you like them. You want them positioned in the best way for that character. That's all.
Superman's moral core--that he will always try to do the right thing--is central to him. And does distinguish him. But that's not all there is to it. Some other characters--not all, but some--have that as well. It's the complete package of core personal attributes that matter. And in a shared universe, some guys should be better or worse than others in terms of different aspects of their persona--again, "better" and "worse" being very rough concepts in this space. But in a shared universe, you do look at characters in relation to one another.



Pillow Biter

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2016, 09:34:40 AM »
Anyways, peace pipe Necro. I find this discussion interesting, and am happy to keep exploring. I'm open to being wrong and am happy to change my mind. I'm just getting too old for the aggro. I'm sorry if I pressed one of your buttons. Let's smoke a virtual bowl and dial things back.
Again, I'm not really sure exactly where we disagree. But maybe we can find out, in a chill way. I'm not Jelly or Abhi.

Necro

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2016, 10:02:16 AM »
Respectfully, I think you are being wildly unfair to me. And we don't actually disagree very much here.
I admit, the whole "Superman IS his powers" is getting to me. The idea just makes me bristle, since he is so much more. No one disputes that he is first among his peers, as it -should- be.
But that shouldn't be -all- he is.

I said that I prefer Superhero (and Superman) stories where there are other heroes to interact with. I didn't say that I had a problem with Superman having a human supporting cast, just that it can get boring if overdone. That is my opinion. Maybe others feel differently. I loved many of the moments with Ma and Pa Kent. But you can make Superman work with a wide variety of "supporting" cast members, as long as he is Superman.
See, I don't get this.
If this is your stance, shouldn't you have loved the Nu-52 Superman?
Pretty much all of his "serious" interactions have been with other demi-gods and superheroes, and the humans and mortals he interacted with were either victims of "bad things happening around Superman", or gained Superpowers and fought against/with him, and so on.
Even the Daily Planet did not really play an semi-important role in Nu-Superman's life.
So, shouldn't you BE happy?
This is what you wanted.

I liked Morisson's work. My point is that it can be harder to write good Superman stories than it is for other characters on account of him not having the same obvious flaws. Many writers have said this. But that doesn't mean it can't be done--and it has. Moreover, many have said (and I agree) that when you do pull it off, it's all the more rewarding.
Which, pretty much, boils down to the Superman editorial not being lazy asses and get proper, good writers on the books. There is no excuse not to actually try and do a good job here, instead of just pumping out uninspired drivel.
Same with the artists. This, along with Batman, are the flagship comics. They better get the damn best artists and writers on it. If not, then they failed.

I don't get how this is all some power fantasy of mine. Superheroes are ultimately brightly-colored Greek myths, in a way. Part of their appeal is that they operate on the same basic level. Power levels and rankings matter, just as they did with the myths. But just because they set the scene--not because a character should be a power fantasy. Zeus should be the most powerful God because that is part of his mythos. Other characters should not be too powerful. Odysseus should be less of a warrior than Achilles. It's about everyone's power matching their mythos, no more, no less.
So, and I assume you -did- read the greek myths, not simply throwing down talking points, but do you really think this is what Superman stands for? What he should embody? A "Greek God"?
Is that not going wildly against the core of his very personality, in that he has such powers, but he is NOT a god? This is literally one of his core traits. He's simply a farmer boy, raised in Kansas by hard working, caring people, who taught him that he is NOT his powers. And he is not.

And again, power.
No one said he should not be the first among peers, but that is not what -he- is.
He is not Zeus. He's the guy who sits on the porch and watches the sundown.
He comes from fighting an Archangel to a still stand, and he relaxes by plowing the fields, or eating apple pie with his parents. He has the POWER of a god, but he is NOT a god.
That is literally the point why he is so humanized. Why he -needs- that tether.
NOT having a human identity, not having human friends, family, but having a Greek GODDESS as a lover, a multi-millionaire friend with who he roomed, his only friends being other beings who can destroy a planet while sneezing, that is not what he is.
And that is what they -made- Nu-52 to be.

And none of this has been about power. But now I stand accused of taking my "power fantasies" into the realm of personal characteristics. Like there should be no ranking or comparison of those, either. But there is, and should be. It's all necessarily a little more ambiguous than the ranking of super power levels, but it's there and it matters. But again, it's all about the proper positioning of characters relative to what makes their mythos work. There may be "better" or "worse" (in a rough sense), but you shouldn't want your favorite guy to be better or worse than anyone just because you like them. You want them positioned in the best way for that character. That's all.
Superman's moral core--that he will always try to do the right thing--is central to him. And does distinguish him. But that's not all there is to it. Some other characters--not all, but some--have that as well. It's the complete package of core personal attributes that matter. And in a shared universe, some guys should be better or worse than others in terms of different aspects of their persona--again, "better" and "worse" being very rough concepts in this space. But in a shared universe, you do look at characters in relation to one another.

Again, the character failed fantastically, because this is literally what Nu-52 was, which has me baffled that you do not praise him for all he is worth. It is like this version is -exactly- what you wanted, and the only thing you're miffed about is that he doesn't command the respect and presence the Post, or even Pre-crisis version did.

I am not sure how you cannot see these things.

Post-Crisis Superman, now that he has returned, has the presence. He has an aura of confidence and respect around him. He is not acting brash, he is acting smart, he is considerate and intelligent in his approach, despite the powers he possesses. When he goes into battle, we see his thought bubbles, and we know he worries about things. We know he cares deeply about his (human) wife, and his son, whose power fluctuations worry him. He is still the first among many, and hell, I bet he is going to be even more powerful than Nu-52 Superman, since he is older, and they will forget that Nu-52 earth somehow weakened him.

But he has all the things Nu-52 Superman did not have.
All the things that humanized him, even with being so powerful, so intelligent, so... awe-inducing.
Post-Crisis Superman stands in the room, and people pay attention to him. It's a posture, it's a composure, and he inspires people.

Superman since Rebirth has been really interesting. The storylines unfolding so far, his own, his family, his interaction with the JLA, Lex Luthor trying to slide into the void, etc, all are highly intriguing.
The Superman books are the most interesting they have been since Morrison got off of the Superman books, and it involves all the things you prefer to avoid in favor of "colorful gods".

And you know what? This Superman is still the most powerfullest in the DCU.

Necro

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2016, 10:03:46 AM »
Also, fucking hell, another discussion about Superman devolving into a shitty power chart conversation.
Fuck.

Pillow Biter

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Re: So, Superman - Rebirth and onwards
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2016, 10:32:28 AM »
I don't see just a power chart comparison here. I think that while we are necessarily discussing those elements, and we may disagree, we are doing it in a way that is rarely done. We are simply talking about what kinds of power levels and personal characteristics properly fit this character. Neither of us is going "ra ra! Supes is number onest at everythings!".

We are actually in pretty broad agreement. I guess the one point I'd make is that the key thing is that Superman be Superman--regardless of who is around him. I'm not disagreeing that having him interact more with regular Joes is good way to show those aspects of him. But the key is that he has them in the first place.

The reason I didn't like New 52 Superman is because they failed at showing what made Superman special (beyond his powers). Even in the many issues where they talked about him the way they used to talk about Pre-FP Superman, they almost always failed to show it. The contrast between the Superman that the other characters talked about, and the Superman they actually showed was depressing. And I think we broadly agree about what personal characteristics Superman should have--his presence, maturity, morality, etc. The whole package.

But these weren't missing JUST because of his supporting cast. They were just missing. I agree that perhaps a better mix of supporting cast members would better showcase these elements, but the key point is that they just weren't there to begin with. Pre-FP, Superman has had extended arcs without many appearances from his more human supporting cast, but he was still Superman.

And I think you kind of failed to articulate something you were clearly aiming at. Superman is a colorful God. And he isn't. It's that contrast (even contradiction) that is essential. You need both sides. The reason people argue who is the real Superman: Clark Kent or Kal-El is that they are both him. You need both sides. He's the most powerful and alien of the heroes, and yet the most human. Like Jesus, he is somehow 100% God and 100% human at the same time. New 52 often tried to get at that. But somehow failed in the execution. I agree that a different mix of supporting cast might have made that easier to show, but somehow the failure was primal to that.

And I may not be expressing myself perfectly either. I'm old, and I've read Superman comics for too long. I remember too many arcs that were just about Superman stopping bank robbers and hanging out with the Daily Planet crew. And they were boring. But there have been some good ones of that kind, too.

Anyways, I basically agree with everything you've said in terms of the abstract. But I'm having trouble identifying the key element that was missing in New 52. You seem to be suggesting it was Superman's basic humanity, and it was because he surrounded himself with too many high-fliers, rich guys, and gods that they couldn't show it. That may have aggravated the problem, but that doesn't seem to be the essential missing piece. They did a lot to try to show his humanity and how he didn't feel like he fit in with all the Gods and Aliens, etc.

I can't quite peg it, but what was missing seems to be located on the other side: his impressiveness as a person. Not just that he would always try to do the right thing. New 52 Superman seemed to do that. But rather there was some element of his greatness--of the greatness of his spirit that had nothing to do with his powers--that was missing. And without that element, everything else fell flat. Including the contrasts innate to his character--his failings, his humble humanity, etc. Basically, there were many times where I felt like if you just dialed his powers back in yoru mind so that they didn't make him special, then there wasn't much else special about him. And without him being special in that way, all the attempts to show how "human" he was also feel flat. You need the contrast between him being powerful like Zeus, a great spirit like Jesus or Moses or something, but still just a guy who was raised on a farm.