I meant rant more along a ramble, sort of like going on and on. I just tend to do it in a negative fashion. Even with things I like.
Environments and/or UniversesSo I wanted to do a positive “rant” since I started off with such negativity. Hope you weren’t hoping for the same fire I had in my last post. And so here we go:
The “environment” is the universe (and sometimes multiverse) in which these characters live. So the environments are the backbone of any fictional world. They dictate the rules, the people, the animals, and absolutely everything about the characters. Environments are what draw in fans with their potential and nuances which allow for riveting and emotional tales of the characters and the reasons which drive them. But let me focus on a single type of environment, the traditional “superhero” environment. (aka usually my favorite environment )
Superheroes inhabit an extremely unique environment rarely shared by any other fictional world. You might say, “Well gee, Mak. Aren’t you fucking stupid. Why don’t you let go of your racism and join the 21st century? Are you going to say other fictions, particularly Japanese fictions, are inferior? How is a superhero environment different?” I would laugh, slap my knee, and say, “Climb up here boy so I can spank you.” The truth is superhero universes tend to be very diverse in both characters and abilities. “Wait a minute, Mak. How fucking ignorant are you? Are you trying to actively ignore entire universes like One Piece, which is defined by fantastic and diverse powers?” And I would say, “No.” One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, plenty of fantasy literature and etc. are indeed defined by having many powers extremely unique within their own universes. Natsu of Fairy Tail is the only fire dragon slayer, Soul Reapers are entirely different from one another based on the unique nature of their souls, entire ninja clans are apples to oranges in Naruto, demons are all different flavors in Inuyasha, etc. etc. But again, what do those all have in common? If you guessed tight contained environments, you guessed right.
Superheroes tend to live in a very unique environment: Expanded Shared Universes (ESU). Where someone like Eiichiro Oda might create rich worlds both huge and filled with many fun characters, it is not the same thing. After all, the pirates of One Piece have never had the ninja clans of Naruto fall into their waters and have two entirely different concepts battle one another. Their fighting systems don’t even come close to similarity. In an ESU you will not only get that, this fight will somehow fall into Soul Society and include the Soul Reapers. And you will probably also find that someone like a lieutenant will call in someone from Toriko to help out. Where one author structures a world and controls the concepts, ESUs are built by dozens and even hundreds of authors who implement rules and fill the gaps. Superheroes will ultimately end up dealing with all concepts from hidden ninjas to magic to future robots to giant past robots to anything you can potentially think of. The real benefit of the multi-author idea is the chance for someone to be inspired and build off another author. Galactus was spun from just some galactic god to someone of such importance it has launched entire storylines concerning the nature of necessary evil. It allows others to explore ideas and lands which the originals never thought of. The nation of Khandaq and how a tyrant can rule it and nobody can do anything about it. It basically gives the universe a chance to grow and interact through multiple minds where one might burn out or never even contemplate it. In comparison, a sealed universe (SU) never gets the chance for outside growth and is subject entirely to whatever the author has thought up either on the spot or ahead of time. Speaking of time, ESU’s have absolutely zero concept of it. Where manga universes like Naruto might have trouble with pacing, you still understand time is passing and it makes sense. ESU’s literally cannot do this and eventually have to state in massive crossovers about how much time is spent in that universe, despite the fact they’ve literally had more adventures than days in that time reference. This also brings up the idea of the crossover. Yes, manga might have crossovers here and there, but an ESU offers something unique to crossovers in that they make more sense and don’t have to be regulated to make things fit. Let’s say you’re Naruto, and you’re just training in your village. All of the sudden that village is besieged by an entire army of demons from Yu Yu Hakusho broken out of S-Class prison. Naruto would be beyond fucked. What is he to do? His world depends on people only relatively strong to his world, and only a few at that, to defend it. Naruto will end up some guzzling sex slave to some plant demon before long. Well, unless people from Toriko show up, but they won’t because Toriko is sealed off in another universe. But ESU’s do this, and they do it often because character interaction is important to them.
Before you say, “Well you old creepy coot, sounds like you feel ESUs are better than SU’s. Is that what you’re saying?” No, I’m not. ESU’s have massive drawbacks by the same method they get their strengths. While ESU’s generate ideas, they completely lack consistency and are subject to massive author interpretation. Characters, inner environments, even entire conflicts can be negated, confused, or outright misrepresented by this and it can really hurt. Magic might work one way before, but another author didn’t really know that and came up with another way. My last rant had an example of that specific thing. While SU’s aren’t paragons of consistency and understanding, they do function better in terms of making sure rules stay tight and observed. SU’s expanded creativity is exchanged for a strong singular story with specific arcs, where ESU’s exchange precision for more diversity and crazy whatever goes story telling from every part of their universe.
Someone at work tries to goad me into arguments about this sometimes and believes that I feel one is superior to the other. I don’t. I may sometimes prefer one to the other, but no way do I think one is inherently better. There are too many pros and cons between the two to allow one to simply be superior. It’s stupid, and he’s stupid to ask it.
This is truly just a small part of what an ESU is about, maybe I'll do more in the future on it.
ESU’s: The Status Quo and Big Events
Remember when these two sides squared off in ideology which split them FOREVER and turned lifelong friends into lifelong enemies?
Nobody else does either.
A bit to cover here so please bear with me.
Big Events aka Company Wide Crossovers aka The Thing Which Will Forever Change the Structure of the Universe Maybe aka The Big Money Grab. This is one of the biggest parts of the American superhero comic book which stems directly out of my last bit about an expanded shared universe.
Let me tell you why I hate them.
BE’s are more or less simply stunts to generate money. Okay, let me back up. Generating money is a perfectly accepted business model, and doing whatever it takes within the confines of the law should be okay. But it pisses me off with the how, why, and end result.
First off, let me add something about the ESU I didn’t previously: Status Quo is King. While an SU such as a manga will have a start, long middle (hopefully), and an end, the ESU doesn’t. The ESU has a start with the first comic and then strives to literally continue on forever. This means characters who have certain traits will try to be maintained as such for decades. Tony Stark aka Iron Man was injured by his own munitions in the Vietnam War. Someone at Marvel probably didn’t say, “Oh fuck, guys! Did anybody have any fucking foresight to remember that in thirty fucking years the twenty year old Stark will be fifty and nobody is going to give a shit about the Vietnam War anymore?” And if he did, someone else said, “Shut the fuck up, McNobody. Don’t you see I’m using the Vietnam War to ground Frank Castle the Punisher in?” They simply change it to other wars or even nameless wars to keep that element of the story in.
The status quo is important to ESU’s because that’s the money generator. People don’t want to read about Superman’s eventual decent into villainy and tyrant like behavior because he got tired of sixty years of unsuccessfully preventing crime and occasional world domination. No. They want the Big Blue to win and persevere. So this sets me up for the Big Event.
Big Events are mostly lies. Why? Because the premise of the modern Big Event is to change the ground of the universe FOREVER AND EVER. Well, until the next big event or when the previous storylines stop being profitable. The status quo literally prevents Big Events from basically staying in place most of the time. Think I’m lying? Quick, using any and all American comic companies name five BE’s which changed the landscape to this day:
Crisis on Infinite Earths (Durr)
Ummm… Infinite Crisis (Wrong)
…. Secret Wars (Which one? Because neither mattered)
Zero Hour? (Not really)
Civil War? (Wrong again)
So two. TWO Events in the past 30 years? That’s not bad. Well, until you consider Marvel alone had over three times as many by itself, and there’s Unity, Image United, etc. (Okay, I left out World Storm). The fact is very few huge storylines have large long term effects. Anybody remember War of Kings? You know, the one were Black Bolt was the leader of the Kree and went to war against the Shiar being run by Cyclops’ brother Vulcan and he pretty much doomed the universe in a fight, which was only barely prevented? No? Black Bolt died in it. He’s alive again, king of the Universal Inhumans with more wives but now is just the regular king again? Well fuck me. Fuck status quo.
The strength of the ESU is also its greatest weakness. While it gives other authors a chance to expand and work with ideas no other author would have come up with previously, it also must assume the universe has a preset it must go back to. Johnny Storm can’t be forever dead, Masterson can’t forever be Thor, Captain Atom can’t forever be the Monarch, and Grayson can’t forever be Batman. Otherwise the Fantastic Four wouldn’t work, Thor loses the entire mythological edge, animated shows wouldn’t make sense for Atom, and Bruce Wayne MUST be Batman to the fans (a movie explaining Nightwing as Batman wouldn’t work since you’d also have to explain who the fuck Nightwing is and why he’s no longer Robin and why there’s been three or four Robin’s since.) So fuck, the status quo must remain because if not the characters which we all know and love would have been dead and replaced a few times over by now. The world would have been taken over, Iron Man and Captain America wouldn’t even think of working together, Frank Castle would either be dead or a Frankenstein Monster, Superman would still be split into Red and Blue and fly like electricity or dead, and a slew of other things which worked temporarily but never could sustain a long run profitably or enjoyably.
Big Events are entire sets of drama. They’re meant to test the mettle of heroes as a whole. It is a threat or situation that requires so much firepower that the premier teams alone could never begin to handle. Usually this threat has near universal consequences if the hundreds or thousands of heroes can’t put aside their differences and punch the same guy for a while. That’s great. So why do I hate them? Well, aside from the thing about them not making a fuck bit of difference I go back to the money grab thing.
See, I wouldn’t mind if Big Events meant nothing if it didn’t mean EVERYBODY has to be involved. Ever hear of the term “Tie-in issue?” It’s common with the Big Two (DC and Marvel) because of their slew of events. A tie-in is basically an issue or series of issues which deal with the main BE from the perspective of characters who may or may not participate in the main event. Why do I hate tie-ins? Easy. Five or six issues which have only one small element that deals with the main event, but is placed in there so you buy another twenty or so issues you might not have before. Who was Wraith during Annihilation Conquest? Kree guy stranded in space. Could he have been introduced without his own little miniseries? Easily. His story wasn’t groundbreaking or even that important to the overall structure of the event, but was placed beforehand using the hype of the BE to sell five issues you didn’t even want before. Basically BE’s try to push me to buy things I know I don’t want under any other condition. They don’t encourage me to try something new, they basically tell me “If you don’t go out and read this, you’re going to wonder why the Thing is in France and we won’t explain it to you any other way.” On one hand this is necessary because sometimes the stories are just so large you simply NEED to have another outlet to finish the tale. Rarely is it ever used to the effect to justify this idea and really is just used to sell empty pages of crap.
I just fucking hate the idea that I need to buy/read issues of crap I don’t want to anyway for something so groundbreaking, so important to the whole universe that it will simply be disregarded in a year for the next BE when the status quo is king. Clearly this isn’t always true, as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint/New 52 literally did change their entire worlds to both great controversy and praise. Those deserved the title of Big Event. The rest are basically gimmicks, and I hate empty gimmicks.
crisis on infinite earths properly the biggest cluster fuck in comics imo.
the first secret war was entertaining at least.
Didn't Civil war change stuff. All superheroes was supposed to job for Shield after it.
Civil War was completely reversed without a retcon after Secret Invasion. No Superhuman Registration Act, no distrust of heroes, Captain America isn't dead, he isn't even upset with Iron Man, nor is Iron Man upset with him despite the total screw he pulled. The only "long term" effects were one minor remark in Heroic Age Avengers, Tony in his own book saying he'd do the same thing over (which surprisingly went super well with Captain America, who he put in traction and life support), and Ragnarok (Thor's clone) had a starring role in that post Dark Reign Dark Avengers almost nobody knows about. The one where June Covington masquerades as the Scarlet Witch, Superia masquerades as Ms. Marvel, US Agent is now leading the team despite being previously legless via symbiote, Gorgon is Wolverine, etc. etc.
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Without CoIE, I don't think a formal DC universe would have ever truly solidified without basically ignoring everything from the past anyway. At least this way they would have a precedent for the future of universes, a neat little conclusion, and a fresh start which didn't require the beyond confusing nature of what came before.
Civil War was the first and last marvel comic book I bought in Norwegian, sort of disappointing that they reversed it.
They reversed Peter's reveal in the worst of ways.
Allow me to introduce you to the storylines: "One More Day," and "Brand New Day," where Peter Parker and Mary Jane-Parker decide to make a literal deal with the devil (Mephisto) in this case to save his Aunt May from a gunshot wound taken during the fallout of Civil War (it's a very convoluted and awful story which makes little sense). Mephisto only wants their marriage in payment. The couple agree to is so long as the knowledge of Peter's idendity is once again unknown. Mephisto agrees and retcon punches everything to a new way. Basically it removes any Spidey story or event he was involved with the creators want to, or add as necessary. It completely removes The Other storyline while retaining some of the characters, and reintroduces a "younger" more "hip" and more "immature" Peter Parker to the Marvel landscape who's only far too happy to be getting it on with other ladies. You may say, "Well that wouldn't explain everything, there are still gaping holes." And Joe Quesada basically said, "It's magic, and Mephisto is an extremely powerful reality warping magical lord of Hell, he can do whatever he wants." Very unsatisfactory, sure. But already some writers were starting to hint towards a future romance between MJ and Peter before the Superior Spider-Man. Chances are in the next couple of years they will get back to dating like nothing ever happened. It'll just not be "marriage" so they can break up if necessary to the story.
The storyline was so despised that the writer J Michael Straczynski (sp?) originally refused to put his name on the last few issues so that people knew his disgust with everything going on.
EDIT: The only difference between Spider-Man's reveal reversal and Civil War reversal is one is a retcon and the other is simply relegated to forgotten history.
Last edited by Makenzye; 04-07-2014 at 08:50 PM.
Mak, I got to say, even though I don't know much about comics, I am absolutely loving reading your rants. Keep up the good work.
Funny, he went to everybody on that list sans the Sentry, but did include Dr. Strange, Dr. Doom, Doctor Octopus, and even the High Evolutionary, all of whom could not do anything oddly enough.
Strange told Peter he could do nothing for May, and so Peter used one of his spells without permission to go back in time but ended up getting badly injured. Injuries which Dr. Strange had no problem healing and then sent Peter on his way. It was pretty bad.
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And really anybody is welcome to rant themselves. Or even add to my lunatic ravings if it doesn't make sense or they think it's wrong or whatever.
Like I want to do a piece on ease of jumping in, but an outside viewer might have a completely different feeling on the matter.
Superman and Magic
Alright, so I said I’ll do negative -> positive -> negative -> etc. But fuck that. A thread about Blackbeard reminded me how I have a beef with this topic. A special beef. I fucking hate it when this argument is drug out because it confuses everybody and leads them astray. We’ll start out simple:
SUPERMAN IS NOT WEAK TO MAGIC
You guys get that? Maybe? Well, for the short bus crew let me spell it out: SUPERMAN IS NOT WEAK TO MAGIC. Fuck, I guess there is really no simpler way of describing it. Guess you’ll have to sit there with your dunce caps forever if you didn’t catch it.
Superman is a character who has won the superpower lottery by being a F.I.S.S. (Flight, Invulnerability, Strength, Speed), and pretty much has few things which give him obstacles. But for a long time those were not even half of his powers, because for many years pre Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman would develop powers like Gad develops crushes on men simply to deal with the plot of the month. These powers would include super-ventriloquism (so he could throw people off of the scent of his identity) and super-hypnosis (because that doesn’t come off tyrannical at all) just to name a couple. These were the things which plagued Superman for the longest time, because unless your name had something to do with Kryptonite or was Pre-Crisis Darkseid, you just didn’t pose a threat to Superman. DC was clever though, because they knew when they had to reboot their universe for the first time with Crisis on Infinite Earths, they had a chance to get rid of the planet juggling, galaxy obliterating, time reversing, etc problems they had with Superman stories. Enter the Post-Crisis universe where DC commissioned John Byrne with revamping Superman and he gave us a very depowered Superman devoid of all his powers aside from FISS, telescopic vision, heat vision, and freeze breath. See, Byrne may be a jackass with the face of shit kids have nightmares about, but what he was good at was showing us a very limited Superman who actually had difficulties in his universe. He had an idea to show angles of Superman which were not weaknesses, but vulnerabilities without generating new powers to just simply overcome them. Now Superman had to work. And one of these vulnerabilities? Magic.
Before you say, “You just fucking told me he’s not weak to magic, and now you say he is?” Shut the fuck up because I used the world “vulnerabilities,” which is different from “weak to.” You may say Superman has “A weakness in magic,” but you can’t say Superman “is weak to magic.” Why? Well, you really need look no further than his powers: Physical strength, durability, flight, breath, and visions. Notice I used the word “physical,” and not “to everything.” Superman is a physical being born in a physical universe with a physical structure amongst a very physical people who didn’t dabble in magic. “What does that have to do with anything?” people who don’t understand minor complexities may ask. It means Superman never had a reason to be resistant to magic. His body simply does not have specialized resistance against it like he does physical damage, vacuum, and heat. Simply put, Superman is subject to the effects of magic, but is not weak due to the presence of magic like he is Kryptonite which he is definitely weak to.
“But…” Shut the fuck up. If Superman were actually outright weak to magic he would die just being on Earth. You know, the place which is the magical nexus of the entire universe. Superman teams with magic users, has fought magic users, and literally lives and breathes magic which is concentrated on Earth, yet has never managed to clutch his chest, sob his goodbyes, and kick the bucket due to it. Superman has shown what happens when he is around weaknesses because whenever Kryptonite gets involves he is immediately and catastrophically affected by its mere presence. So we know if Superman has an allergy to something he is immediately incapacitated by it.
We done? Fantastic.
“Well… Wait a minute Mak… What you’re talking about has been directly contradicted in the comics themselves. Heck, even the premise of DC vs Mortal Kombat used magic to explain why people like Scorpion didn’t just die in his presence.”
Uggghhh… Chalk it up to bad writing and lack of understanding of the character. Now we’re done. Looking at this page, the very fact Superman is being possessed by Eclipso should him triple dead.
“Not quite. Wouldn’t DC have a department that specifically keeps continuity in line?” Mother fucker.
Yes. You would be correct in assuming the editing process is supposed to ensure comic continuity stays on track. The problem is, most of the time these guys are simply subject to whatever the writer wants and how good the writer is in with the big editor because shit like bad writing happens semi-often and distorts things like vulnerabilities and strengths and sometimes even history of a character. The good thing is usually these things are never mentioned again like the Silver Surfer getting nerve locked by the Black Panther or Iron Man copying Spider-Man’s spider-sense, but the Superman/Magic thing is so oddly misunderstood it tends to pop up in both ways over and over. Superman is defeated by the “magic infused” punches of Captain Marvel due to their magical properties once, then Superman has zero problem eating up magic lightning bolts another time.
Comics are long and storied, and are prone to have misrepresentations due to the library of authors who will touch them as they go along. But it’s no excuse to be ignorant of the character because if you really think hard about it: Someone like Ragman or any idiot who learned a few spells can come up off the street and wipe the floor with Superman. It would be an even easier weakness to exploit than the hard to get kryptonite.
So fuck this topic.
The Character of a HeroOkay, this isn't as much a rant as just a little bit of my history.
Years ago I ran into Stan Lee in an airport before he was the ultra mega giant super-star he has become in the past few years (not that he wasn’t, but he could actually go places without people swarming him due to movie recognition back then). This was also before my general distaste for Stan Lee when I was naïve, young, and filled with the (mostly heroic) optimism of the heroes I would read on the pages.
Ah, the good ol’ days.
Either way, when I saw him I lit up and rushed on over and greeted him like a little fangirl talking about how he created all of my favorite heroes (completely unknowing of how he basically only sort of did and took full credit). I asked probably a dozen questions right away. All the basics, “How did you come up with this or that?” I followed with how I wanted to write comics and blah blah blah. Ever the PR sort of guy he just laughed and made a comment about how rare fans came up this charged and young to him in public and said something along the lines of, “Alright little guy, I’m pretty busy but I’ll answer one question. What’ll it be?” I thought long and hard for all of like half a minute and simply asked:
“Why aren’t your heroes more powerful? They would so much easier beat bad guys that way.” Lee laughed and I was actually pretty embarrassed because I immediately felt like I asked a stupid question. Keep in mind I was around 10. Stupid questions are the forte of a ten year old.
But all he said was, “What sort of story would it be then?” which didn’t make sense to me when he said it, so he continued with, “How exciting would it be if Iron Man simply showed up and delivered a chop to his foe and flew off like nothing happened?” I shrugged and said something like, “He’d save the day.” Lee then said, “Of course he would, but what makes you think he couldn’t before? Because he’s not strong enough? Seems to me Tony never had a problem exercising his greatest superpower to win before: His creativity and brain.”
I must have been just staring like a deer because he simply paused and went on.
“Remember kid, when you start writing your own comics you don’t make heroes stronger than the villain unless you give them something to hold them back. Do you think the Hulk would be so great if he wasn’t a mad monster who had to fight his own anger to do good? It’s about the character, not about his power. The conflict draws out the Character of a Hero, or what makes them special. Anybody can have power, anybody can beat up people. Heroes are the people who go out and put themselves in the way of those much more powerful than them to protect others and must rely on their own skills and spirit to make up for their weakness. Heroes hold back to protect others and shouldn’t get stronger because the character of a hero isn’t about that. Heroes don’t seek strength, they seek resolution. Heroes don’t understand strength, they understand weakness.”
To this day that remains with me because it hit me and was like something broke within me. Despite no matter how many comics I read before and how much it was literally spelled out in front of me the answer was obvious: Heroes aren’t designed to be stronger than their villains, they’re designed to struggle and win through their internal character strengths. Heroes aren’t dumb lugs who go around swinging their fists at whatever pisses them off (despite the fact this was the 90’s, and that’s EXACTLY what heroes were doing at the time), heroes were the reluctant gunslinger who only drew when necessary, and even then they weren’t shooting to kill, just to stop the other person.
He left, waved and told me to write him when I finally made it as a comic writer. But I'm pretty sure that was all fluff because I'm sure he's said it to thousands of people. He didn't say "Excelsior," though. Strikes me odd as an adult since that was his catchphrase since the 60's.
Batman: His Discrepancies And How His Fans Make Him This Way
This was started originally for my Suggestion thread for PoPs, but it actually spun off into something more and I felt it was best served here. He asked me for stories which featured Batman in a group setting with great "Batman Moments." You would be surprised how weird that request is. Odd because Batman is among the top recurring comic book characters due to his guest appearances (Wolverine and possibly Spider-Man stomp him in this area), so you would think that with all those team ups he would have a lot of material for me. Well, yes. He's been in the Justice League, guest starred in the Justice Society, owned and operated the Outsides, and Batman Inc. I think you'll start to see the problem with just how widespread Batman really is. The more widespread he is the weirder his interpretations get, particularly in team books. He suffers from what is called the "Thor Effect," named so by Thor's appearances in the Avengers where instead of the cunning warrior he is in his own books, he's reduced to a sentient mass of muscle with a hammer. Batman suffers this in a different way and here's why: People who write Batman don't have a ton of room for characterization and possibly have never actually written the character before, so they take what they believe is best known about the character and exaggerate it to help make the character pop in the page. I won't say this is always true. Alan Scott helped mentor Jesse Quick after the whole sex scandal thing with her mom's boyfriend in JSA, or any miniseries which focuses specifically on teams. What -does- happen to Batman though is he is known for a few things: Master Martial Artist, Hardass, Paranoid Smart Guy/Strategist.
Commonly people actually forget he's a detective and so they take what they know and like about Batman and crank it up hard turning him sometimes into a character he's not. This is what creates disparity among representations of Batman, because he has to be believably competent in a team filled with planet eradicating superheroes. While he may struggle against the likes of Killer Croc or the Joker in his own books, a Bat Roundhouse-Kick is going to put out Flash villains. Often these are used to emphasizes the "Badass Normal" nature of Batman and remind people he's not JUST a human, he's the best human who dresses up like a bat and can dismantle people made of rock with his bare hands in the middle of a lightning storm after clawing his way out of the grave and suffering two gunshot wounds. When he makes team appearances, there is a small effort to display his smarts and abusive leadership skills and then he goes flying across the pages in a jump kick that will almost definitely knock the Cheetah right the fuck out. It basically becomes the worst of fan fiction with what the author thinks Batman should be like: A human with invisible super powers everybody loves. All the women want him, all the men want to be him (or also want him), and no matter how little time exists he devotes hours to his studies, several more to work out, plan, strategize, eat, run a business, and somehow sleep despite the fact a lot of Batman's activities are at night in Gotham and during the day on the Justice League and sometimes at night, too. Batman should be dead from this but he's written in team books to be this invincible perfection that not even the likes of Superman enjoy. The only flaws Batman has in these stories is how much he cares for the world, or how hard he's willing to push himself. Ultimately, Batman is diluted into a character who is only interesting because authors think we like him that much.
And they're right to in some ways. These don't make great Batman stories, but they do make entertaining stories. And his fans eat this shit up which perpetuates this cycle. I said it elsewhere on this forum but I'll repeat it here:
If you go to a superhero forum, there's an unspoken rule about how people avoid arguments with Batman fans. It isn't because they don't know enough about comics. It isn't even because they're unlikable. It's because the majority of Batman fans tend to be the biggest cocksuckers with a walls proudly displaying all the worn out kneepads with little time placards they've used over the years for Batman.
Batman fans are what people think of the comic industry. They're like Star Trek fans or Star Wars fans or even Wolverine fans. (Star Trek fans are pretty much as bad.) Batman fans tend to love the idea of a man weighing a little over 200 pounds blowing into battle against Martians using skills he never displays anywhere else and kicks ass in a way that makes the rest of the League look incompetent despite all their individualized experience. Why? Well, Batman HAS to be that cool. Isn't that why he's on the team? Isn't that his entire deal? Fans don't want Batman to show up and get his ass put in rehab by a stray punch from Mongul. Batman MUST be that good and powerful, and his fans become ever worse for it each time Batman has any sort of "power up" or exaggerated showing. Tower of Babel is a perfect example of how people actually view Batman. Batman is so damned smart he can outsmart HIMSELF. This is where team books fail. Batman works best when he is actually Batman, a man on a crusade to do his best to prevent the crime of his city at all costs though sometimes it's not enough. A man who must be broken ocassionally and put in a situation of great loss so he may overcome it emotionally and rededicate himself to the cause and make up for his limitations with his extended family and network. Knightfall was a great example of Batman learning about himself. Commonly called the "Knightfall Divide" in the comic community for two reasons, it was an excellent showcase on where Batman actually was as a character. It showed he was willing to be weaker in order to be better, and then rededicated himself to training to become better and not necessarily stronger emphasizing skill and hard work vs strength and natural power which is the very core of Batman. The other usage is actually derogatory for some as it presents Batman in an odd light: Batman is weak/Batman is strong. I've seen this argument used a few times to describe enemies Batman should/shouldn't have problems with and it is faulty. But here's the rub: Batman pre-Knightfall had problems fighting the likes of the Joker and Clayface, problems which still exist post-Knightfall when Batman supposedly "zenkai'd". Batman went and became a better martial artist, but he never actually became stronger. If this were shonen, Batman would have left his old enemies in the dust a long time ago. Riddler, Killer Croc, Two Face, etc. would now pose no threat and would have been eaten by newer enemies meant to challenge Batman's new might. Such isn't the case with comics. Rarely do characters outright become "stronger." They become better and can better handle their villains who must come up with newer ways to deal with a slightly better hero, but rarely do they go from peak human to... well... superhuman I guess. Though don't tell Batman fans that.
Want to know a little bit of comic inconsistency and fan rage directly regarding Batman? We can look at the debated top five martial artists in DC: Richard Dragon/Lady Shiva, Conner Hawke, Batman, Batgirl (Cassandra Cain). Well wait... It should be Richard Dragon/Lady Shiva, Conner Hawke, Batgirl, Black Canary. Wait... Shiva/Dragon, Batgirl, Hawke, Batman. No, Batman said Hawke was third only behind Dragon and Shiva. Dragon, Shiva, Hawke, Batgirl, Batman, Canary. Well... Canary was stated to have skills on par if not exceeding Batman so.... Dragon, Shiva, Hawke, Canary, Batman. We know Cain is better than Batman because Batman himself said so and she has defeated Shiva, though Shiva is still regarded the superior combatant. Dragon, Shiva, Hawke/Cain, Canary. Well, shouldn't Batman be IN there, though because he's Batman? Dragon, Shiva, Hawke/Cain, Batman. FUCK, I forgot Bronze Tiger who is regarded to be in the same league as Richard Dragon and Shiva, but Conner should be third? Let's use experience to help. Dragon, Shiva, Bronze Tiger, Conner/Cain. Well, there is Constantine Drakon who completely trounced Conner, and Conner fought evenly with both Dragon and Shiva, so is he top billing then? Ugh... Dragon/Shiva, Drakon/Bronze Tiger, Conner or Cain because Dragon/Shiva should still be on top. Which means Batman cracks top ten. So wait... How does Batman succeed when people even better than him struggle against similar foes? Few reasons. One, tiers aren't clearly defined as win/lose in comics as they might be in shonen where if someone like Luffy stomps an enemy once, he should forever. Batman utilizes preparation in a way where when someone may train to fight another person, Batman makes sure he has specific tools. Batman has SUPERPOWERS
as does Conner sometimes. Okay, not technical ones. Author and placement dependent ones. Batman enjoys the benefits of PIS/CIS. He wins because of Plot Armor. In a Deathstroke comic Slade went on a kill and beat Batman twice effortlessly and LEFT HIM ALIVE EACH TIME, and then had Batman hit the guy with a rifle and knocked him out. Stroke kills often to simply to get things out of the way, but he leaves someone who is a threat to him? Granted, Deathstroke is one of the most inconsistent characters where he easily beats the likes of Batman, struggles against Nightwing, admits later on he beat Batman only due to his healing factor, and then beats up Lady Shiva. Shiva, the woman Batman has never beaten. But that's comics. The defined tiers shonen enjoys comics do not, but Batman fans try hard to do. And these are the people who really get a thrill out of Batman when he shows up to the JLA and scowls until people do what he tells them to and then proceeds to make the Flash look bad and lazy. Want another example of how fans feel about Batman? Look no further than the horribly written JLA: Act of God by Doug Moench where Batman becomes the world's most effective Superhero because he's the only one who can deal without powers while Superman goes and cuts himself listening to Evanescence because without all his strength Superman is useless. This is why Batman works best in his little microcosm of the DC universe, because he doesn't have to be scaled up or written badly to be relevant and enjoyable. He can be the Batman.
As an aside, sometimes Batman is highly downplayed in certain books as some weird form of "Writer's Revenge." Below is Hal Jordan post Parallax when he punched Batman out with a regular hook when Batman was on his right side which means Jordan had to spin around and Batman was actually very suspicious and ready for Jordan but couldn't react. But don't worry, Batman just as unbelievably got him back when punched Hal Jordan in a mirrored fashion, despite the ring making any GL naturally resilient to most attacks subconciously so they aren't killed by a falling rock or stray bullet when they're just looking around.
PoPs asked for group books with great Batman moments? I suggested any team book, but the answer is "None." If you want great Batman moments, read Batman comics. If you want to see Batman smirk and say "Haters gonna hate" while punching Solomon fucking Grundy out like a light, read team books. ("But Mak, Grundy comes back with different strength levels each time." Guess Batman's pretty fucking lucky he never had to deal with any of the Grundy's Superman had to. Aint that shit just convenient?)
@Pimp of Pimps;
The inconsistency of characters like batman due to having a lot of different writers sucks. It seems like you'd have to state the specific versions/comics of some characters when you make a battledome thread due to how greatly their abilities can vary.
When it comes to comparing characters, you look at them over their most relevant history such as reboots, powers they've had/gained/lost, any sort of training, and primarily consistency in use. Whatever isn't truly inconsistent can be written off as an outlier or straight up PIS/CIS/Bad writing and can be disregarded. For instance, Iron Man learned not only how to trick Spider-Man's spider-sense, but how to adapt it to his armor and then promptly never EVER used it again despite the ridiculously useful applications it would have. Another Iron Man example was when in one of his older armors he lifted a nuclear reactor weighing tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of tons by basically frying his armor, but his Hulkbuster armors would never be nearly as strong.
That's just the nature of comics, unfortunately. So when you do look to compare fights, you look for consistencies because using the most recent revelations might have their place such as the power of Shou-Lao being damaging to the power of the Phoenix as Chaos Magic is as well, certain things like actual strength levels will fluctuate. The Hulk is only supposed to start in the 80 ton range and increase in range upwards, but Marvel has been slowly skewing their strength levels upward which makes some of their past efforts null and void.
In fact, Superman's strength level is defined by even his writers are "As strong as he needs to be for the story to work," meaning he can barely move mountains to barely moving moons, tanking a nuke with great difficulty to tanking a supernova and just be rendered unconscious.
But you're right, sometimes characters might be well defined within their own stories and so I've seen people talk about like Kurt Buseik's Iron Man vs. Kieron Gillen's Iron Man.
Time to go double negative
Rob Fucking LiefeldLet's start with the point of this entire rant: Rob Liefeld is one of the most horrible things in comics of all time. Eisner's racist Spirit drawings is better. Superman telling people to "Slap a Jap" has more class. The Human Centipede is a better work of art than this fucker could ever hope to draw. Yes, DRAW. His drawing is so bad that I literally think a movie about surgically attaching peoples faces to other people's asses is better. A million times better.
I want to smack this fucker's shit eating grin right off his shit eating face
Remember my rant about Brian Michael Bendis? Yeah? I feel the same fucking way about Liefeld. Liefeld is the other side of the Bendis coin. Bendis "writes" fucking terrible, and Liefeld "draws" fucking terrible.
Remember what art for comics in the 90's was like? Remember how bad, and full of pockets, and filled with spikes, and dripping with blood it was? THIS FUCKER IS ITS FATHER. Look no fucking further than Liefeld for examples of the absolute worst comic art of all. Fucking. Time.
Don't believe me? Well....
Let's start on the top left. Who is that? Doesn't fucking matter as much as "What is that?" The lady there with the 8 inch waist as thick as her fucking arm is the one I'm talking about. This is also guilty of another Liefeld fuck up: Pouches. See how she has pouches on both legs and two that fit on her waist? The one on her waist must be there as support to keep her from snapping in half. But that isn't all. Look at the person partially in panel next to her. Pouches. You think this is the worst? Not no, but fuck no.
The one who looks like some horrible deformity of Wonder Girl. There's only one explanation why she looks that way: Someone literally severed her upper torso and reattached it on the side as some horrific Frankenstein monster gone horribly wrong. "Unh" is probably what she cried when her spine broke into that position.
Third needs no fucking explanation because this is a HALLMARK of Liefeld: One. Fucking. Hand. Look at it. Shatterstar has only ONE HAND. His left one. His right hand was consumed by Liefeld's insatiable lust to suck.
You know what other thing Liefeld is known for?
Inability to drawHorribly drawn feet and every attempt to NOT draw them. Examples follow.
The example on the left is the most original creation Liefeld has ever made: Cable. Look at his feet. Well, if you can call them that. Pistorious has more convincing feet and his nickname is the Blade Runner because he runs on curved synthetic materials because he has no lower legs. Note the pouches which do not match up on his belt. Note the ridiculous hips which outsize his extremely muscular torso almost 2:1. Note his arms don't start on the same level. But again? NOTE HAS NO LEFT HAND. You see that? His left hand which should be holding the gun? Gone from existance. This picture also does a pretty good jerb showcasing another Liefeld trademark: Bendy weapons. Look at the rifle again. Look hard. Notice that if bullets had to go out of it, they would have to go through a curved barrel. The man is a nightmare. Buck back to the feet.
Look at the second picture on the right. How many pairs of "feet" do you see? If you answered three, you need to stop huffin paint because there is only two. Shatterstar in his billowy white shirt and cape which comes out of the back of his fucking head has feet which taper out like some sort of carved out triangle and Spider-Man who apparently removed his lower body and replaced it with a fat midgets legs which also have taper "feet". Everybody else? HIDDEN FEET. Liefeld is well known for hiding feet whenever he can because he cannot draw them, even if that means they are all standing on different grounds or something. Cannonball is drawn the way he is now because Liefeld simply made it so his power concealed his feet and it caught on. Juggernaut is apparently 45 feet tall because his foot extends about 10 feet back to be hidden behind Warpath who himself is about 10 feet tall, only because Cable who is about twice as close as Warpath is only a tiny bit taller. That or Warpath starting freebasing Pym Particles and is two feet tall. Juggernauts other foot is apparently six feet into the ground and behind that mysterious yellow dust and odd...gray...half mound? In fact, for Juggernaut to be that big, everybody was snorting Pym Particles except Spider-Man who was too busy getting ass and leg replacement surgery and showed up late. You know what? The picture lacks depth so we can't even fucking tell who is standing where or why. Let's ignore that Cable's thights are three times the size of his head, let's even ignore that Juggernauts shoulder apparently comes out the side of his neck. Let's DO notice that Domino is so fucking small she can hide behind Cable's leg despite having a similar head size implying she is immediately behind Cable. Also note that her legs are either detatched and are closer to us than the rest of her body, or her legs are thicker than her upper body to be showing behind Cable's leg like that, she is literally trying to straddle Cable's leg, or that IS Cable's leg. WHY DOES JUGGERNAUT HAVE 84 TEETH? The nightmares will never stop.
Left picture: Bendy gun, bendy sword, no feet? Check, check, triple check. Here's a good one, weapons so large they would be more hinderance than help. If you have the strength lug a weapon like that around no problem, you are MORE than strong enough to engage villains by hand. Now look at Cable's and Shatterstar's hands. Seriously, look hard. Well, Cable's left hand is mysteriously hidden behind the disproportionate tree stump called Shatterstar's left arm. What are they holding? Nothing, because guns and swords were simply drawn on top of clenched fists.
Right picture: Mismatched hips and waist making the hero a real fatass? Check. Bendy gun? Check. No feet? Check. Gun drawn on top of clenched fist? Check. Now look at his legs. One is a pillar of some sort of warped wood colored blue and wrapped in pouches and the other is shorter and tapers oddly. Want another hell to ponder? Look at his left arm. Notice his upper arm is almost twice the length of his lower arm. Now cover your mouth with one hand and hold out your other arm. Scream into hand.
I can literally go on and on and on and on about the fucking terribleness which is Rob Liefeld. He is so hated by the comic community he once jumped on the Hype forums and we all bashed the fuck out of him until he left. So why does he keep getting hired? Well, he's a famous face. How famous? The mother fucker had a million dollar jeans commercial directed by Spike Lee where he talked about his job. He was at one time the highest paid comic book artist, and might have been the highest paid of all time since back then comics sold by the million rather than by the thousands of today. Paid time and time again to draw this shit, never improving, never learning, never even trying. I could forgive him if he got better, but he never has. In fact, he has declined in "skill" as time has gone on as definition of pictures have become better.
What's worse? Marvel and DC have both said at one time or another, "Gee, Rob. Your art is so fantastic, why don't you try writing?" I honestly cannot tell you which was worse. I honestly don't even contemplate it. I imagine trying to really think about causes your mind to collapse in on itself as some sort of preventative measure to keep you from going out and cannibalizing your neighbors.
Rob Liefeld, the only reason Greg Land isn't at the top of the list of terrible artists with no integrity.
I think Rob Liefeld literally sold his soul to Satan to draw comics. I'd say he should eat shit and die, but he'd probably get paid 5 million dollars for it because of the "art" of it.
FUCK YOU SO HARD ROB LIEFELD
Hey Mak, what can you tell me about the mid-credit scene in Captain America 2 with Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch? Are they going to be antagonists in Avengers 2? What can I expect from Avengers 2 based on the comics?