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19th Jun 2017, 6:32 PM #21
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Steven-Vincent:No, they're not. Implicitly any quality judgement is subjective and therefore saying 'this is terrible' and 'I think this is terrible in my own opinion' are synonymous by definition, and one just uses more words than the other.


Actually, they are. I can dislike something without making it terrible. But I've never seen the opposite though.

Here's an example.

"I don't like this" - for a fantasy book when you're more into serious, realistic stuff.
"This is terrible" - for a fantasy book with spelling mistakes all over the place.
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19th Jun 2017, 8:49 PM #22
DrewSpence

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That's still subjective.
Grammar and spelling might be your pet peeve.
You might be an English teacher so it really bothers you.
Someone else might not care or even have a super-knowledge of the language and its rules so much goes unnoticed.

Others may give credit for other areas and think "That's good for..."
Subjective isn't in the factual areas, subjective is the evaluation and judgment surrounding those flaws.

That's why we look to critics and judges and referees etc.
They have informed opinions.

They usually come from several places.....
1) Expectations of excellence
2) Knowledge of the history/important works/current scene
3) An understanding of the performance/creative process.
4) Lack of emotional investment.

So no, not all opinions are created equal and carry the same weight.
That's why it's best to go with a mix.

If I was unsure of my work wanted insight and critiques, I'd want a varied base to respond.
I've said this for other endeavors- It's a mistake to make art for artists...

Or to even take their opinions too seriously.
Because they usually lack several of the above 'good judgement' criteria.
Rare, that the help stays technical and neutral.
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19th Jun 2017, 8:54 PM #23
Steven-Vincent

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PartyEscortBotBeans:Actually, they are. I can dislike something without making it terrible. But I've never seen the opposite though.

Here's an example.

"I don't like this" - for a fantasy book when you're more into serious, realistic stuff.
"This is terrible" - for a fantasy book with spelling mistakes all over the place.


I am severely bothered by typos and editorial mistakes. I have a friend who shrugs them off if 'the rest of the writing' is good enough.

My point is, everything I say about the quality of writing or art is automatically subjective and my opinion. I don't feel the need to keep qualifying it needlessly by saying 'In my opinion' or 'IMNSHO' or constructions like that. I was taught at a young age that this is redundant and I try to avoid redundancy.

I realize that doing this sometimes causes people to react negatively because they think I am claiming to be stating an objective fact rather than my opinion. When that happens I attempt to clarify. But I would also submit that anyone who becomes upset at someone else's opinion needs to take a step back and maybe try some breathing exercises. For instance, the world is really not going to come to an end because I excoriated or talked trash about Grant Morrison.
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20th Jun 2017, 2:04 AM #24
GMan003

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Steven-Vincent:People who don't 'get' superheroes, like Zach Snyder, for instance -- see only what is on the obvious surface. They are doing superheroes for the money, the acclaim, whatever, and not because they understand the genre. What's on the surface is -- super-powers, special effects, strange names, and just the most obvious things that are known about the heroes. So Superman becomes a guy with those powers, from Krypton, with a funny suit. But that is not what made the superhero genre unique for the years before Miller and Moore came along and made superheroes 'acceptable' for grown-ups to read (and thus acceptable content for movies, which they had never been before that).


Snyder might have made that mistake. Why do you assume I did as well? You seem to have mistaken my dislike of unoriginality for an ignorance or hatred of the entire genre.

I don't hate superheroes. What I hate is slavishly copying old stories while offering absolutely nothing new.

You know what I don't see in your list? The weird idea of being a single city's defender (outside teamup issues). The similarity of costumes, outside the different colors. The obligatory fight when two heroes meet and then the obligatory villain team-up. The kid sidekick. The ass-pull power upgrades. The Comics Code-enforced PG-ness. The obsolete science or pseudoscience.

It seems you aren't that fond of every single element of old comics, either.

Steven-Vincent:And the list of elements I identified above are some of the main characteristics of the superhero genre.

- Secret Identities
- Over the top speeches
- Death Traps
- Heroic attitudes
- Brightly colored costumes
- Larger than life powers


Many of those are fine. Secret identities were only problematic when literally every hero had one, regardless of whether it made sense for the character or story. Heroic attitudes are great. Superhuman powers are wonderful when not done completely idiotically.

The two points I would quibble with are the speeches and the costumes. The costumes' bright monochromatic colorations derived from a limitation of the media. Go back in time, give Jack Kirby access to modern printing technology, and he would take full advantage of it. Just compare his work in the 40s to his work in the 80s - he could do great things with a limited palette, but he could do greater when it wasn't holding him back. It is entirely possible to do a (precious-metal)-Age comic story with a modern art style. In fact, I believe it would be preferable. Even American Barbarian, a story very clearly in the Golden Age style, is somewhat restrained with its color in costumes (it's arguably not a superhero story, but I bring it up anyways as an art reference).

The distinctive, verbose dialog of old comics is also unnecessary. The early comics were very unevenly-paced - you might spend a whole page on a splash panel with entire paragraphs of monologue, but elsewhere dash through dozens of plot points in as many panels in a single page. You can have the important essence - monologues about good and evil - without slavishly copying the way old comics went about them.

Steven-Vincent:You mention the New 52. How many comics in the New 52 obeyed more than one or two of these conventions? I know for a fact ZERO obeyed them all. No modern comics obey more than one or two, in fact.


Okay, and? I addressed this myself - when doing a throwback-genre story, you aren't just competing with the current releases, but with the old classics. So all you've managed to prove is that OP should not try to copy the style of contemporary superhero comics - a point literally nobody was arguing.

Steven-Vincent:


You seem to have grossly misunderstood what I meant when I suggested drawing ideas from other genres. I did not intend to suggest making something completely unlike classic superhero stories - that would, in fact, be a quite stupid answer to the question "how do I make a better superhero story?". Perhaps some examples are in order - I'll limit myself to two.

Atomic Robo has much of the emotional feel of an old comic. (Bronze Age, I think?). You've got a straight-up good hero with superhuman abilities fighting straight-up evil villains. You don't have spectacular costumes but the protagonist, being a robot, doesn't need one to be iconic. You get superhero-like dialog without the pace-ruining walls of text. You have bits of humor to keep the mood from ever getting too dark. There's even sections taken straight out of old pulp stories or radiodramas. It never feels like it's trying to be an old comic, but it takes the essence of what made those stories enjoyable. And it makes changes - Robo and his team might be perfect paragons, but the US government isn't always, so there's still some moral grays. The narrative structure is less serial - even before the time loops, we weren't getting the story in chronological order because we didn't need to. Think of this one as taking the superhero story, and resculpting the outer layers. The core is still there, but it's surrounded by new ideas.

Star Power is like a classic superhero comic mixed with Star Trek: The Next Generation. You have a superhero, with a bright (but not colorful) costume and a secret identity. It has that relentless optimism of classic Trek - the future is going to be better and keep getting better because most people are fundamentally good - which works perfectly with superheroes. Think of this as a guideline for how to mash up two genres properly - find two things with common elements, focus on the parts that work well together while trimming away the parts from both that don't mesh.

GMan003:Your best bet, I feel, is combining with another genre. That's been successful at getting my readership, at least. There's plenty of superhero/scifi mashups - but what about superhero/high fantasy? Superhero sitcoms are all over, but what about superhero romcoms? Japanese influences have brought us not just manga-like art, but superhero/tokusatsu blends - try borrowing from another manga genre, maybe a harem manga but-with-superheroes could work? Or borrow from other media - a heavy-metal superhero, or a German Expressionist superhero, or something.


When I was making those mashup suggestions, I was focused not on making good suggestions, but on making wide-ranging ones, with the hope of inspiring creativity. So let's take a more critical look at them, maybe if I actually put more of my thoughts on the screen, I'll be better understood.

Superhero/High Fantasy could work, with the right premise. Both have that strong moral element, and superhuman abilities are common to both. In fact, it might be a problem - high fantasy has enough superhuman power that a protagonist might not seem "super" enough. (I will note that the current Magic: The Gathering superstory is explicitly inspired by superhero comics, mainly Avengers and Justice League, so similar ideas have been done with good results. Tell me this doesn't look like it could be a fantasy-setting Avengers cover)

A superhero romantic comedy has some synergies. Secret identities are ripe for romcom errors. Romcoms don't usually have antagonists, though, which are kind of necessary for superheroes. It would be hard to make it an even mix, and not become a superhero story with a romcom B-plot.

A superhero harem-manga barely works together. The only real commonality is that both can have large casts of unique characters, and both are heavy wish-fulfillment. I don't see why this couldn't work, but it's not exactly clamoring to be made.

Heavy metal and superheroes both suffer from a complete lack of subtlety and an overdose of testosterone. This couldn't be straight-up Golden Age style - the metal part would require lots of ridiculous and graphic violence. Not dark-and-gritty, but egregious and stylized. Certain subgenres of metal would work better or worse - power metal has the triumphant element needed, which eg. death metal lacks. (For reference, consider the game Brutal Legend - it's not superhero at all, but it shows how to do a story based on the music style)

A German Expressionist superhero story would have to be like the Burton Batman films, only more so. Not sure if you could really commit to it and still have it work - GE is a dark and twisted style. Maybe in a villain-centric story? This one's probably a bad idea.
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20th Jun 2017, 7:24 AM #25
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Steven-Vincent, I know you probably know more than me, but I actually enjoy the work of "other" Snyder - Scott Snyder. The writer. It's clear you're not a fan of New 52, and that's fine. I've only read his Batman... few volumes (6? maybe), and his Joker is crap, but I like everything else. Especially his story line with the Owls and Riddler.

That said, here's my opinions to your points about what a superhero genre is (I don't intend this to be a huge conversation - just sharing my thoughts is all):

- "Secret Identities, and everything having to do with them." - Neither agree or disagree. As Marvel was creating a joined universe, this became the basis for Civil War basically. Is it okay to not have a secret identity? I feel that it depends, and personally, I side with having one. And not for the protect loved ones reasons, but rather just from a reader's perspective that it creates tension. The person often needs to be in 2 places at the same time (Spider-man more so than Superman). It also allows you to see how the person copes with time management, and opportunity cost (the typical story line where the male character is too distracted with a date while the enemy wrecks the city).

- "Over the top speeches." - Disagree. This is probably just a changing demographic. Not necessarily because people hate to read or anything. I wouldn't even call it an issue with realism. It just comes across as fluff. It's more of we-get-the-point. It makes it hard to care about what they have to say if all they do is reiterate one thing over and over. Over the top -> cool. One point monologues -> skip. Also, with anime being popular, it gave the rise of what I call story-handholding. Villains explain everything they do. It's irritating as a reader. I get it, I was along for the ride. I didn't randomly start mid-issue and hoped that the villain is going to summarize the first 10 pages for me. If I feel like I missed something, I'll turn the page back and re-read. I know how pages work.

- "Death Traps (and other elements like them)." - Agree. Just like superheroes come with a flavor, so do bad guys. Riddler does riddles. Scarecrow scares. Jokers makes you laugh (a bit too much). The best villains are the ones that don't take the easy way out. They often bite more than they can chew because that's what makes them supervillains. They are not trying to rob a bodega. That's too easy, it doesn't make a statement. A super villain is motivated by something more grandiose and expects the superhero. That's the best part in my opinion. They don't just hope that it'll work out. As silly as they seem, they come prepared every time. They put up a fight. One-sided affair is never fun. It gets to a point where the superhero will just come across as a bully. Sure the hero is on the side of justice, but if no one puts up a fight - why is the hero there?

- "Heroic attitudes - such as Code vs. Killing, Protective of Innocents, and the like." - Agree. This goes hand in hand with my argument of concealing identities. They know they are flawed people. They are often learning themselves - both sides of the super spectrum. So choosing to do the right thing and being accountable and dealing with consequences when things don't go right is what makes them relatable.

- "Brightly colored costumes...[and something about no realism]" - Agree and disagree. I feel it could be both. I much rather a more mature Batman, but my favorite is The Flash. I think they can coexist. Yes, batman isn't realistic, but he doesn't need to be. It is the illusion of realism (*cough* Watchmen cape commentary *cough*) that is good enough. Flash on the other hand is more flamboyant - bright crimson, gold yellow and sometimes white added to his color scheme. I feel that the costume is more important about setting the mood nowadays. Remember - story-wise, it's most often that the hero chooses how they look, rather than it being forced upon them (ex. Green Lantern). It's an opportunity for self-expression about how the hero secretly wants to be known as but won't express in day-to-day life and that's why I don't buy into "no realism" and "brightly colored costumes".

- "Larger than life powers. If I hate anything it's the attempt to 'depower' and make more realistic the superhero powers that have existed for many years." - Disagree. I'm on the opposite boat. I yawned whenever Superman showed up. Here he comes again, to solve everything in half a second and there's never any tension. I'm surprised as an intellectual you aren't bored by Superman's one-sided powers. It's the book equivalent of turning to the chapter of the climax and all it says is "Superman showed up and every bad guy is now in jail." I know Superman has been depowered mostly so that DC can start mashing their characters together. There would be no point if one is basically omnipotent. Current Superman is only Superman in name and you have to accept that. I like to think of it as "rebalancing", where current Superman is an alien, and there is a cap of how much power one can have. Like in Justice League cartoon, he's normally on the "power" scale of Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman. At his full strength, none of the 3 can actually stand up to him - but at that point he's a bit reckless and knows he's endangering everyone (like vs Darkseid). I can agree that Superman movies don't do him justice and often they come across really bad, though.

---
Now to answer the OP:
What I feel is missing in current comics is the silence-speaks-volumes from enemies. As I mentioned earlier, Scott Snyder's joker sucks. He's an anime Joker basically. He explains what he's going to do. Instead, a more appropriate approach would have been a pun remark or overconfident "Ta-ta!" So I feel that letting the readers connect the dots as opposed to proverbial handholding is something missing.

I like how you said lighthearted, because everything is so gloomy nowadays. Gloomy is not necessarily realistic. One reason Squirrel Girl is having a lot of praises is because it's very lighthearted.

One thing that I feel is also missing is lack of follow up. Sure, the bad guy was put away. But now what? What about the people affected? "Thank you, whatever-hero!" and that's it?
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20th Jun 2017, 10:29 AM #26
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LukaszZ:That said, here's my opinions to your points about what a superhero genre is (I don't intend this to be a huge conversation - just sharing my thoughts is all)


Your agree/disagree seems to be more about what you liked. I was stating the characteristics that generally existed and can be considered part of the genre. They are so much a part of the genre that the Champions game creators wrote actual game mechanics into their RPG to account for them. You may not like those particular elements, such as over-the-top speeches, but it's not really possible to deny that those were important and significant elements of the genre.

As for GMan's other list of things, I don't consider those things to be as important to the genre as the other elements I mentioned (other than maybe CC compliance, which I should have mentioned) but I don't really mind any of them. I'd ask how many of them are unique to the superhero genre though. Many other genres have bad science/pseudoscience explanations for things (Star Trek comes to mind); many other genres have a main character whose primary 'beat' is a particular city (mysteries in particular, usually feature a cop or detective who works exclusively in a single city, e.g. Columbo did all but 2 or 3 episodes in L.A.; Monk did the same in S.F.). Kid sidekicks are also common features of most family-friendly or kids' movies, and not just common to superhero comics.

But you won't usually see secret IDs, villain speeches, death traps, and the other things I mentioned, anywhere but in the pages of a classic pre-modern-age superhero comic. My list was meant to be a collection of things which are unique (especially when found together) to the superhero comic-book which one does not generally find anywhere else.
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20th Jun 2017, 6:18 PM #27
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What do I expect from superhero comics? That's a good question--they're so varied. But overall, a hero with a larger-than-life persona and often super powers.

What do I miss in recent superhero comics? Heroes fighting villains (rather than each other), moral clarity (nothing wrong with ambiguity, but it shouldn't be all we get) and bright colors (because "desaturated" does not equal "realistic") are the ones I can think about right now.

As far as what annoys me in the current media, that second point can be extrapolated to know some of that. But I also don't like companies trying to eliminate all secret identities (a good way to compare how secret identities can be helpful: in Batman Begins, we see how Batman works best with anonymity on his side, as the criminals can be paralyzed by the costume itself; in Injustice 2, in a world where Batman's secret identity is public knowledge, we see in all the intro dialogues that nobody fears him anymore, with the Scarecrow offering the telling, "But nobody fears Bruce Wayne"). Some work to get rid of and some don't. I also don't like trends of superheroes all working through the government or simply having "superhero" be a paying job--it's supposed to be a calling, not a financial obligation, and while some can work for the government (like Captain America), I definitely am opposed to some teams being later ret-conned into government teams (like the Avengers).
20th Jun 2017, 7:11 PM #28
Steven-Vincent

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shastab24:
What do I miss in recent superhero comics? Heroes fighting villains (rather than each other), moral clarity (nothing wrong with ambiguity, but it shouldn't be all we get) and bright colors (because "desaturated" does not equal "realistic") are the ones I can think about right now.


Yes to all of those.
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20th Jun 2017, 10:22 PM #29
GMan003

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Steven-Vincent:As for GMan's other list of things, I don't consider those things to be as important to the genre as the other elements I mentioned (other than maybe CC compliance, which I should have mentioned) but I don't really mind any of them.


It seems like we basically agreed on the salient points, but approached it from different angles. I assumed that a work intended to imitate would, by default, imitate all or most of the features of the genre; I advised against precise replication, and suggested looking at other genres to pick up pieces to replace the ones being removed (because OP seems to be rather novice, and that's easier to do than coming up with new ideas out of whole cloth, and it's easier to pitch at audiences anyways).

You seem to have assumed that a work intended to imitate would skip all the bad parts by default, and focused on listing the elements you think are worth keeping. You confused me a bit by Scotsmanning - you defined the genre only by the parts you like, which is pretty biased, to be honest. But yours was probably more in line with OP's original question anyways.
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20th Jun 2017, 10:34 PM #30
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The thing I hate most in the superhero genre is when they kinda hate being a superhero. This is really evident in Superman vs Batman, where Superman was all sad and angsty due to bad press and batman frankly just didn't give a crap about anything. If I'm reading a superhero story I'd rather it have someone at least kinda enjoying doing their thing.

This was one of the reasons I loved the new Spiderman in the latest Avengers movie - he seemed to be enjoying his powers.
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21st Jun 2017, 12:40 AM #31
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GMan003:It seems like we basically agreed on the salient points, but approached it from different angles. I assumed that a work intended to imitate would, by default, imitate all or most of the features of the genre; I advised against precise replication, and suggested looking at other genres to pick up pieces to replace the ones being removed (because OP seems to be rather novice, and that's easier to do than coming up with new ideas out of whole cloth, and it's easier to pitch at audiences anyways).


When you choose to produce work in a genre, that is not imitation. It is working within a set of established rules. If you work in the mystery genre, there are certain rules to how those are done. Following those rules is not imitation. Imitation would be if you take an episode of Columbo and create something a lot like it.

GMan003:You seem to have assumed that a work intended to imitate would skip all the bad parts by default, and focused on listing the elements you think are worth keeping. You confused me a bit by Scotsmanning - you defined the genre only by the parts you like, which is pretty biased, to be honest. But yours was probably more in line with OP's original question anyways.


No. I did not define it by the parts I like. My original understanding of the genre, back when I was a kid, came from the Champions rulebook. Most of the elements you listed, such as costumes looking 'too much alike', are not codified in the Champions rules in any way at all. The elements I listed, ARE codified in those rules, and are central to how that game differs from every other RPG ever made.

Why do I always refer to Champions? Because it is company-independent (they do not adhere to just the conventions of DC or Marvel or Fawcett) and because the writers of the original rulebook made a comprehensive and very accurate study of the genre conventions before codifying them into game rules. You may not agree with this approach to understanding the genre, but my choice of items I listed was not arbitrary.
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21st Jun 2017, 12:52 AM #32
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With both the heroes AND villains, develop their characters, make them interact in the most mundane of matters (whether it's going shopping or doing a mass order of nukes for whatever diabolical plan they're setting up) all within reason and if it reflects your characters. Things that have made me cringe a little is how robotic every hero seems now, devoid of...any personal ambition, and the concept of the hero simply being an ideal of pure morality. No drive, no needs or wants except to only serve the people. As for villains they seem less threatening and some writers tend to just slap on a mental illness/tragic backstory/whatever that's blatantly hollow and meaningless and BAM that justifies every horrible thing they do. (please...stop doing this.)
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21st Jun 2017, 2:18 AM #33
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Steven-Vincent:


Alright, now you're just being contrary. Every single defining trait of a classic super comic that you listed, you treat as an incredibly positive attribute. Either you cherry-picked only the positive attributes in your definition (which, for the record, I wasn't even upset about - you weren't trying to deceive, you just made unstated assumptions that I did not), or you're such an obsessive fan of the subgenre that discussion with you on this subject is impossible. And regardless of which is true (I do not care), either can only result in pointless argument for the sake of argument, which both of us are better than.

And since nobody else here has made any points that I really disagree with, or feel the need to comment on, I guess I'm done with this thread, then.
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21st Jun 2017, 2:44 AM #34
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Something tells me Steven wouldn't like Watchmen. That's okay since it's just taste and opinion. There is charm to the golden age way of heroes. I kinda like my coffee a little darker though. It's an answer to the question "what if heroes did exist in our not so colorful world?" aka the real world. The genre evolved for better or worse. At least the modern approach is a bit more immersive and 'for adult' than old stuff. Fans age too you know.
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21st Jun 2017, 2:55 AM #35
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All I expect is for someone in a gaudy costume to fight crime; it's a pretty broad checklist so you can go wild within those confines.
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21st Jun 2017, 12:59 PM #36
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Me, I want some kind of unusual or interesting life situation set up with the character.


- Spider-man, usually he's a teenager or college student juggling two drastically different sides of life
- Savage Dragon is a cop in Chicago
- Runaways are female majority, on the run from various things, don't use codenames or costumes
- Gen13, kind of the same as Runaways in a lot of areas
- Kamala Khan-Ms. Marvel, from an under-represented culture, has nerdy interests and is learning the ropes of superheroing

etc. etc.



With the DC and Marvel comics, I've been annoyed with all the different writers and artists going zig, zag, zip, with the same characters. It gets... almost heartbreaking when you try to follow the continuity of characters and try to get attached.
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21st Jun 2017, 3:16 PM #37
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Well right now I'll be expecting is pretty much a handful. First of all and to generalise my opinion, I expect something that hasn't been done before, so that means, no alien origins, no billion dollar high tech suits etc. I could overlook power origins through radioactive or chemical means. But just try and be a lil distinctive and that goes for the plot as well. If you want people to have that nolstagic feeling of the good old comic days or whatever. Get ideas from their concepts, story pacing and overall limitations.
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21st Jun 2017, 6:03 PM #38
shastab24

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I thought of another thing, though it's not one of your questions:

What do I like about modern comics as opposed to classic ones?

Diversity, primarily. We no longer get primarily cisgender heterosexual white characters and have a greater range of people (even if some writers wouldn't understand how to write a minority character--they should get the hint to write them like they would any other character).
23rd Jun 2017, 2:53 AM #39
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monoushi:As for villains they seem less threatening and some writers tend to just slap on a mental illness/tragic backstory/whatever that's blatantly hollow and meaningless and BAM that justifies every horrible thing they do. (please...stop doing this.)


Isn't villainy NOT justified despite their backstory? Should villains be inexplicable?
23rd Jun 2017, 3:40 AM #40
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E-hero Vulven:Something tells me Steven wouldn't like Watchmen. That's okay since it's just taste and opinion. There is charm to the golden age way of heroes. I kinda like my coffee a little darker though. It's an answer to the question "what if heroes did exist in our not so colorful world?" aka the real world. The genre evolved for better or worse. At least the modern approach is a bit more immersive and 'for adult' than old stuff. Fans age too you know.


Not liking Watchmen is fine, but I would hope that someone who didn't like it would respect its quality, or failing that, at least have a particularly good argument for why it doesn't work as a story.
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