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Mark Temporis said on February 6th, 2012 at 2:19 am

Joe X: As a die-hard B5 fan, HAHAHAHAHA!

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:03 pm

HammerHeart: So DC is left scraping the bottom of the barrel, “relaunching” low-selling books and old copyrights while claiming that they’re really relaunching the whole line – …. Let’s try to make something out of that old Kirby character we have …

Yeah, like that time they took that old Kirby character and let that guy from England change it around completely. Man, talk about a creatively weak series.

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Tales of the Boojum said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

They say that bad decisions make good stories. Someone decided to shoot all of earth’s remaining vegetation into space strapped to nuclear bombs, so that’s prbably a good (and maybe unintentionally hilarious) story. I’m all up for a Silent Running prequel.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

HammerHeart: both companies are creatively bankrupt IP farms insisting on an unsustainable model. The monthly superhero comic as we know it is a doomed enterprise, desperately milking their few profitable properties with three or four simultaneous titles of each.

and don’t kid yourself, without attracting new readers “mainstream superhero comics” as we know then will be gone in less than 20 years

Huh. S’funny. I remember reading posts saying exactly the same thing back on the Comics and Animation forum on CompuServe.

Point being, yes, comic book companies are in it for the money and that leads them to far more often than not to make business decisions over creative ones. And, yes, the publishing industry is changing and is likely to see some significant adjustments in how it does that business.

But definitive, “I declare them creatively bankrupt and doomed” pronouncements are just more fanboy-displaying-their-ignorance-by-claiming-to-know-what-IS-going-to-happen foolishness.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

HammerHeart: Wild experiments like Peter Bagge’s outrageous takes on Spider-Man or Hulk should be the standard, not the exception.

Be it All-Star Superman or Elseworlds or What If? or what have you, variations on the standard storyline can be great fun and an opportunity for a creative story. Just because it’s an Elseworlds certainly doesn’t mean it can’t suck (I’m looking at you Batman: The Blue, the Grey, and the Bat), but it does allow for a story that doesn’t have the constraints an ongoing tends to.

But if “outrageous takes” were to become the norm, then you’d have a disjointed, unappealing stories. Without that core, understood character to build on the occasional different take on them lacks foundation. “Who is this Peter Parker guy? I thought he was an every-man hero but in the story I read this week he’s really dark and vicious, and last week the Spider-Man comic was some light-hearted funny animal thing, and I read one last month where he was in the year 2099 with claws.” I doubt folks would tend to follow a series the only thing a character and their world seemed to have in common storyline-to-storyline was a name and a costume.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Stop pretending that these stories move forward, we know the characters can’t age. We know Peter Parker will never be 40, and Batman will never be too old for jumping off rooftops. At some point the character’s continuity lifeline stops being a bonus that enriches stories and starts being an embarassment.

Then maybe that’s where the comics should change. Follow the Gasoline Alley model. Let the characters age (albeit slower than their readers), grow, marry, pass on mantles for good, die, etc.

Granted, there’s certainly a lot of business reasons for Batman to always be Bruce Wayne, because the vast majority of the public who doesn’t follow his monthly adventures knows only that and I suspect more money is made from the general public (merchandising, movies, etc.) than from the actual sale of comics.

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Sean D. Martin said on February 6th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The moment continuity becomes an anchor tied around the character’s feet, it’s time to untie the knot and let go of continuity.

Or embrace it more fully and let real change occur.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on February 6th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Can I just interject for one moment to add that I HATE GODDAMN FUCKING PREQUELS.

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HonestObserver said on February 6th, 2012 at 5:45 pm

The quench for more sequels is something that predates comics by a longshot. The riots over Arthur Conan Doyle killing off Sherlock Holmes, anyone? Random classics that you might not have known had sequels: Robinson Crusoe, The Good Earth, Eoin Colfer’s continuation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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The problem with the Iron Man ideas is I just don’t buy Stark as what they’ve been pushing him as lately, the second smartest man in the MU(after Reed Richards) Much like Wolverine surviving being reduced to a skeleton it came out of nowhere and just doesn’t fit the character. Tony’s a good engineer and business man. That’s all.

And as for Batman and Robin, Tim Drake doesn’t work for me as the first Robin. Which means there at least has to be Dick Grayson first, which means reconciling characters.

and as for passing on mantles “I’m Batman because Batman trained me to be” has less impact than swearing to eradicate crime because he watched his parents be gunned down in an alley.

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@John Seavey Exactly. I posted comments to the same effect on the House to Astonish blog. I mean, I still am not going to read the prequels, but if the creators told it like that I’d at least respect them a bit more.

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Mark Temporis said on February 7th, 2012 at 1:24 am

Sean Martin: “A Name and a Costume” is exactly how the long-running Japanese sentai series work – in most, like the KAMEN RIDER series, the series don’t share anything except vaguely similar costumes!

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When in doubt, blame Dan DiDio. He has been responsible for some truly awful decisions over the past ten years. Which makes me wonder who he has incriminating photos of, since it would have been smart to fire or demote him at some point around 2005.

For years now, DiDio has been talking about how awesome it would be to do a Watchmen prequel. This is probably his baby and I’ll bet he regrets nothing other than not getting these comics out in time for the movie.

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My understanding is that DC’s reboot has actually been good for sales, so all the cries of “Creative bankruptcy!” then were drowned out by the CHING CHING CHING of the cash register.

Comics sales have also been a dying scene for years now, but the money made from comics isn’t half as important as the money that comes from toy sales, merchandising and films. So the comics keep coming out as a comparatively low-cost ideas factory.

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The thing is… they wouldn’t have needed a reboot if Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns hadn’t spent the last ten years trying to change everything in the DC Universe to suit their own personal preferences.

Sales were a lot better in 2002, before DiDio decided that he needed to start doing drastic stuff just because Young Justice and Titans weren’t selling as well as he thought they should have been.

Sure… Infinite Crisis and 52 made a bunch of money. But somewhere around DC’s third weekly series (the one hardly anybody bought), that would have been a good time for somebody to stop and say something like, “Wait a minute. We can’t keep doing things like killing off a bunch of characters just because DiDio and Grant Morrison had a fun pitch meeting. And have you noticed that most of this stuff we’ve been doing lately only gets us short-term gains? Get Levitz back in here and start coming up with a real long-term strategy.”

After years of lame stunts that would maybe boost sales for three or four months before driving away more readers and hurting the company in the long term, it’s hard for me to cut DC any slack just because people were interested in Morrison’s Superman reboot or somebody out there is still willing to spend money on comics about Red Lanterns.

… which in a roundabout way gets me back to Watchmen. Sure, curious people will buy at least some of these prequel comics. But DC just gave people another justifiable excuse to decide that they aren’t going to buy any more of their monthly titles. This will probably hurt them in the long term, just like practically everything else since Countdown.

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@Johnny…that rant on the sparkles blog is bunk.

It tries to conflate the two entirely separate issues of the Watchmen stuff.

One issue is should the rights revert to Moore AND Gibbons (funny how the pro-Moore people seem to forget and/or diminish Gibbons role in things)and if the deal was fair.

Two is whether Moore is a hypocrite for complaining about people telling stories with the Watchmen characters given it’s Charlton origin, and his own works like LGX and Lost Girls.

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No, it’s not.

It doesn’t ‘attempt’ to conflate them, it points out the two issues are fundamentally linked.
Its Charlton origin doesn’t in the slightest infringe on his right to be upset about being screwed over, fundamentally, and exploited. Which he has been.

More to the point, I have not seen Moore actually complain about it. Express disappointment and displeasure when he was asked what he thinks about it, sure. But he’s been utterly disinterested in everything for years.

It reminds me a lot of Gregor Perelman, actually…

There’s certainly several problems with Moore, but he’s absolutely in the right here.

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but nobody’s out there demanding we see a ‘Silent Running 2′

Hmmm. The last dome finally reaches the Kuiper Belt, with its cache of carbon, water, and other trace elements, and Dewey’s work can truly begin. Slowly but inexorably, the Drone Army grows in the darkness at the edge of the solar system. Meanwhile, on putrid industrial Earth, a brilliant but eccentric physician takes practically forever to figure out than humans need to eat.

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Candlejack said on February 14th, 2012 at 1:43 pm

You can tell the two issues aren’t fundamentally linked, Jonny, by the fact that you can believe (as I do) both that Moore and Gibbons were screwed over and Before Watchman is a thing that doesn’t need to exist and that Moore sounds like a bit of a hypocrit when he wants his characters left alone.

As Moore said, Moby Dick didn’t need a sequel–but that didn’t stop him from using Ishmael in LoEG. He’s undoubtedly aware that JK Rowling doesn’t want anybody else playing in her copyrighted sandbox, as that’s why Voldemort’s name can’t be used in LoEG–but, again, Voldemort is used.

That he’s using the characters in a transformative way, instead of claiming to add dimension to the original works they came from, is why he’s only a bit of a hypocrit. But even if he was a full-on hypocrit, doing nothing but writing prequels and sequels to other people’s works, that still wouldn’t invalidate the fact he was fucked over in regards to Watchmen.

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Candlejack,

Firstly, the word is “hypocrite”. Secondly, to what extent is he using Voldemort? Is he using Voldemort more or less than Mike Carey is in The Unwritten?

The difference in The Unwritten, and I think Moore would argue LoEG (with regards to non-Voldemort characters) and Lost Girls is that it’s important that we get the references to the specific characters, because they are iconic images of popular culture and literary fiction.

Carey is talking about how we relate to characters in massively popular fiction, in a nearly semiotic analysis, in the form of an adventure story. That we’re looking at how these characters make us feel as audiences requires these characters to be used, as the existing baggage of how we feel towards them is essentially what the story’s about.

I can’t claim to know what Moore is trying to do with LoEG, but the point remains that it’s a very different thing.

And I don’t really buy that Voldemort is used. Partially because I read the book without realising that, but mostly because there’s a difference in using Voldemort and notVoldermort. Many characters began as knock-offs, and have become significantly different (the cast of Watchmen, Deadpool, TMNT come to mind). I do think this is significan enough a difference, to be honest…

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This is just a sad thing to see from DC. They have a cache of intellectual properties to pull from and they’re too goddamn lazy/cheap to develop them. Flash, Wonder Woman, etc sit idle as they focus on “safe” endeavors.

There’s a reason why Marvel was able to get an Avengers movie out while DC milks Batman and a sickly Superman franchise.

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Candlejack said on February 14th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

His notVoldemort is as close to Voldemort as his notJames Bond is to James Bond. Which, in turn, is every bit as close as any of his main characters are to their original representations. Like I said, transformative, rather than imitative. But close enough that I got that it was Voldemort, even though my only direct experience with Harry Potter is three and a half movies.

We can both agree that I need to use spell-check, though, so there’s that!

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highlyverbal said on February 14th, 2012 at 9:20 pm

@ Sean D. Martin: “I’m not sure what Moore’s saying, since the only quotes I’ve been able to find on his reaction to the project boil down to:” …

Moore has recently (2/14/12) given an interview, after DC announced the project. I am not sure if it covers all the nuances on this thread, but maybe worth a look.

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=36996

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highlyverbal said on February 14th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

On the “transformative” debate (Sean D. Martin, Candlejack, et al):

Please understand that the fair use exception to copyright has been heavily litigated and the details are pretty well known. The assertions of laypersons, thus, become a bit suspect. The specific legal language often used is whether the work attempts to “supercede the use of the original work”. Which is bad, you can’t just supercede, you have to add creativity. Not the best word to hinge the entire copyright edifice upon, but it was 1841 so what can you do?

Moore’s characters are clearly transformative in that they pass the specific legal test — his narrative is clearly a commentary on the previous narrative and is not reducible to a mere attempt to supersede the prior work.

DC, on the other hand, is clearly trying to preserve continuity with Moore’s universe… meaning they are likely to fail the test and be merely superseding his work. (They may, however, hold the copyright due to contractual matters. I would be shocked if they didn’t.) But they are definitely not pulling on Moore what he pulled on the previous link in the creative chain.

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They quoted DiDio in that Alan Moore article as saying that they sought out the “very best writers and artists.” Which makes me want to say something like, “And then when the good writers turned them down, they gave half the work to the Babylon 5 guy because Geoff Johns was too busy.”

One thing that should be clear, if it hasn’t been after years of giving high profile gigs to duds like J.T. Krul and Judd “hasn’t done anything good since Exiles” Winick is that DiDio wouldn’t know good writing if it came up to him and ripped his arm off while referencing old Marv Wolfman comics.

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