I just make the same gag with googum’s questions every time.

§ October 23rd, 2020 § Filed under question time § 23 Comments

Getting a late start on the ol’ blogging tonight, so let me see if I can answer a couple of your questions right quick:

Bruce Baugh breaks in the following

“From time to time, Marvel and DC would launch a series that stood on its own, then later fold it into their regularity continuing – I’m thinking here of the Eternals, Omega the Unknown, and such. If you could pick a series now embedded in a larger continuity (regardless of whether it began that way or not) and pull it out to be its own stand-alone thing for ever after, what’d you go for?”

It’s funny, that when you ask this question, I immediately thought of the reverse, in that I’d love to see the cast of Atari Force returned from licensing purgatory and given a home in DC Universe proper. Dart in the Suicide Squad? Babe in the Teen Titans? Martin Champion working for S.T.A.R. Labs?

Hmm, the S.T.A.R. Labs thing could be the vector for getting Atari Force into the mainline DC continuity (whatever that is). With some minor rejiggering (and some relettering/art touch-up of the originals) we could have S.T.A.R. Force, with the team originating with a future version of S.T.A.R. Labs, trapped in the current DC Universe after a time travel mishap. …If I recall correctly, Dan Jurgens took characters from the outside-continuity Sun Devils sci-fi mini and brought them into his Superman comics, so there’s some minor precedent.

Anyway, it’s a moot point, since I believe all the Atari Force I.P. is owned by whoever it is that owns the Atari brand now, and no longer under any control by DC. But it’s nice to think about.

And that wasn’t your question anyway. What would I extract from the larger DC and/or Marvel continuity to be its own thing? Maybe DC’s Warlord, Mike Grell’s sci-fantasy weird adventure comic which began as its own non-DCU property and, eventually, particularly near the end of the initial series run and after, was merged into the larger shared universe. It’s very possible I’m remembering that timeline incorrectly, and aside from some short bursts here and there, I wasn’t a regular reader of the title. But whatever connection there was I don’t think was ever that strong, and removing Warlord from the DCU would do any harm, aside from losing a team-up where he and Green Arrow could compare their similar beards:

Oh, and also Jack Kirby’s New Gods should stand apart from the DC Universe, if only to keep comics folks who don’t understand it from, like, diminishing Darkseid with overuse outside his original context. If that means making the surprise villain of “The Great Darkness Saga” Terra-Man, well, what’s gotta be has gotta be.

I know it was part of the shared universe from the get-go, via Jimmy Olsen of all characters, but it should have just all been one solid run, from beginning to end, by Kirby, over and done when he concluded it, and that was it. This means losing Simonson’s Orion, which would be a hard blow, and some of the wilder stuff Morrison did, but SACRIFICES MUST BE MADE.

Over on the Marvel end of things…hmm, that’s a little trickier. Just to keep it simple, so I’m not typing all night, let’s say Ghost Rider. Yes, Johnny Blaze. Make that a standalone horror comic, instead of putting a literal damned soul chained to a demon in the middle of a bunch of superheroes who don’t really lift a finger to help him.

Oh, and Tomb of Dracula, too, which was a moody horror-action comic that was chugging along just fine ’til “Guest-Starring the Silver Surfer.” And then we had to wonder “why aren’t the Avengers stepping in to take care of this immortal blood-sucking monster?” I’m sure it was addressed at some point in larger Marvel continuity, but it still seems weird.

If you disagree, please send your letters of complaint to pal Ian. Thanks.

• • •

googum googummed

“What comic event series left you holding the most stock, and do you still have it?”

Let’s end this session on a depressing note as I bring up the specter of the Secret Wars series from a couple of years back, where the main series itself sold fine, it’s just the too-many tie-in mini-series launched to coincide with the event that tanked. I ended up dumping most of them in the bargain bin, though I still maintain most of a short box of bagged and priced back issues in case anyone specifically comes in looking for them. Which they do, surprisingly.

The recently completed Empyre was not exactly flying off the shelves either, but I did manage to move most, if not all, my copies of the main series from 2 on, but was stuck with a few too many variants for the first issue. The tie-in minis weren’t nearly as numerous, though several were planned that were canned, and the ones that did some out did…okay. This is certainly informing my orders on the forthcoming “King in Black” event at Marvel, which also has a main mini and a handful of tie-in minis which I’m ordering close to the bone.

I mean, none of these are a patch on Deathmate, of course, but my dealings with that series was at another shop and a lifetime ago. I don’t think I have even a single issue of Deathmate in my store right now.


23 Responses to “I just make the same gag with googum’s questions every time.”

  • Snark Shark says:

    “I don’t think I have even a single issue of Deathmate in my store right now.”

    “You have chosen… wisely.”

  • Smicha says:

    Atari actually has a new console on the market (although it appears destined to fail) and owners who seem eager to push the brand so an Atari Force resurgance wouldn’t be totally outside the realm of possibility.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Too bad about the Secret Wars tie-ins. I actually thought that was the most interesting cross-over event Marvel’s ever done. I don’t follow most of them or even have much interest, but I like how they did that one.

    I mean, the Battleworld or whatever just had all these interesting, inter-connected lands that took regular Marvel characters and re-imagined them “What If” style. Some were better than others, of course, but so many were really fascinating. I remember the Weirdworld one as a highlight, and Planet Hulk with Captain America and Devil Dinosaur in the land of Hulks, and the Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows one was really good.

    Okay, I had to look up the titles for the above and I realized there were, good Lord, 59 tie-ins. So I can see how you might have some left over. Still, some of them were really fun re-imaginings, to the point I kind of wish they’d simply made that the new Marvel continuity.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    To me, the obvious answer here is Plastic Man. Over at Quality, he occasionally had to share a cover with the Spirit, but otherwise was wisely allowed to go his own way. When DC revived him, it did the same, apart from one seemingly harmless team-up with Batman. But then there were more team-ups with Batman, which very unwisely turned him into a grim’n’gritty character. And then he was more fully integrated into the DC Universe, which made the writers feel that they had to justify the humorous aspects of the character–when every other superhero is presented as miserable and tormented, how to explain one who seems to be having fun? They did this, alas, by turning him into a complete goofball, which to me shows a basic misunderstanding of the character. Read the original stories by Jack Cole, and you will see that he usually made Plas the straight man; he had fun with the ways he utilized his power, but otherwise he was the one person taking things seriously in a goofy world. So, yes, if there must be more stories about Plastic Man, he should be allowed to exist entirely outside the DC mainstream.

  • Imp says:

    Terra-Man is.

  • Daniel says:

    To someone who wasn’t there when it was released, Kirby’s Fourth World stories are extremely frustrating.

    First: The Vince Colletta inking is as terrible as its reputation suggests.

    Second: The redrawn Superman and Jimmy Olsen characters are extremely distracting and completely take me out of the story.

    Third: The way that DC has released these series (in original release order, so one issue of Jimmy Olsen followed by one issue of Forever People followed by one issue of New Gods followed by one issue of Mister Miracle, etc.) is incredibly distracting to read. Jimmy Olsen wasn’t meant to have its latest chapter continued in New Gods, so what you get is this jumbled narrative. And Kirby’s…let’s be kind and say “unique” prose style…doesn’t help things either.

    I’m generally in favor of a character’s original creator(s) being the chief steward of their destiny, but in this case, I think other creators have made the Fourth World characters better (Simonson’s Orion; Bruce Timm’s DCAU version of the Fourth World).

  • Bryan Irrera says:

    For me, it would also involve a team that would be wrangled in IP…we’d have to find out who owns the Mego licenses now, but I’d really love to see a full return of the original Micronauts to the Marvel Universe (I know that Bug still occasionally shows up in the Guardians books).

  • Randy SIms says:

    I can’t decide if I would rather see Terra-Man or Vartox sitting in a comfy chair menacing folks as they enter their apartments.

  • I was not originally on board with keeping the Eternals out of the Marvel Universe, but the further they’ve strayed from Kirby’s work, the more compelling I find that perspective.

    The Fourth World doesn’t need to be excised from DC continuity – just left alone once Kirby was done with it.

    (maybe you had to be there when Great Darkness Saga was first published to get a thrill out of it; when I read it — 30 years after publication — it seemed like just another darn Darkseid story. Terra-Man is not a bridge too far)

  • JohnJ says:

    The Plastic Man reference above really brings to mind another obvious one, Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family. Forget the whole “Shazam” nonsense and lift the bunch of them out of DC continuity, where they have never shown a clue as to how to use them, other than Jeff Smith’s retelling of the Monster Society and portions of Ordway’s The Power of Shazam.
    Call him Captain Thunder if you can’t handle Marvel’s taking over the name.

  • Mikester says:

    Michael – the thing about the Darkseid reveal at the time was that it WAS kind of a big deal, making him a menace again after the diminishing returns of the post-Kirby Fourth World. It was a genuine surprise, and one of the actual effective uses of the character outside of Kirby’s hands.

  • Hal Shipman says:

    Agreed about the Great Darkness. It was such a big deal and Darkseid was not so overused that it was a genuine surprise. Also, it was pre-Internet crowdsourced examination of the clues.

    And what was going on with Omega and Eternals that they had these damned Hulk robots running around before they were folded in to the MU? I know, I kow, the sales boost of a fake cross over. Still…

    And, finally, I had that exact conversation with a DC Writer acquaintance who was, strangely, VERY tight with Johns, despite their insanely different aesthetic. They (and apparently others in the company) agreed – sledgehammering the Marvels into the DCU was missing the point. Just let them go to Earth-S. Though, as much as I despise “everything you knew is wrong” stories, I did really like Morrison’s “Kid Eternity.” (And, don’t worry Mike, Swampy.)

  • Chris V says:

    I think Ghost Rider is probably a good choice, but my answer would actually be the X-Men.
    I think Jonathan Hickman’s current run is showing just how detrimental being stuck in the Marvel Universe has become to how the X-Men concept has evolved.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    The way I look at it, Tomb of Dracula is it’s own continuity. There happens to be the same characters in the Marvel Universe, but their story isn’t the same as the ones in TOD. The Silver Surfer in TOD 50 is a random alien, and Dr. Strange is a sorcerer Dracula got mixed up with once, much like Cagliostro in the Dracula Lives! magazine. TOD 70 is the end of the main characters’ story.

    I would also separate the Marvel family from the DCU, but maybe have some DC characters exist in that continuity. Plastic Man would fit, and so would most of the Charlton heroes.

    I would separate the X-Men, too, only because the concept and characters don’t need the greater Marvel Universe. Claremont & Co. kept them apart from the MU throughout most of the ‘80s. I think the X-Men can work with the rest of the MU. The mutant metaphor works better without other super humans.

    That being said, I’ve never had a problem with the idea that mutants are vilified while the Avengers are accepted by the public. People in the MU fear their children becoming mutants. Anyone could one day sprout wings or turn to metal. The FF and Hulk were transformed due to accidents unlikely to be repeated by a random citizen. Captain America volunteered for the super soldier treatment. Hank Pym experimented on himself and his girlfriend. Iron Man built his own suit. Hawkeye’, Iron Fist’, & Daredevil’s skills are acquired. Thor is a “god.” Most villains are rogue scientists or the result of an accident or experimental procedure. Your children aren’t likely to have the above experiences.

    Mutants spring from the x gene, clumsily analogous to a disease or disability. The child can overpower the parent; the prospect of a super-strong or telepathic teen-after is frightening. I would not want my children to acquire powers, and they’re good kids.

    In other words, I’m way off topic… Anyway, the X-Men could be their own universe without losing much.

  • Sir A1! says:

    I know he’s “in” now that he’s part of the MCU, but Shang Chi should totally be its own thing. The classic run was straight James Bond, spy-fu action that works best in a real-ish universe as opposed to one filled with capes. Plus, it’s such a part of Fu Manchu (boo, Mandarin and/or Yellow Claw) that it really is an extension of that vein of pulp storytelling.

  • JohnJ says:

    Oh, yeah, CONAN!!!!!!

  • Bruce Baugh says:

    Thanks, Mike. And thanks, everyone here – having a lot of fun imagining the various options y’all propose. :)

  • Brian says:

    Not to stray terribly off topic, but I’ve sometimes wondered why DC (and to lesser extent Marvel) doesn’t meet halfway with integrating old properties into their universe by bringing them into continuity — but inserting them into those decades-long gaps that have now formed as time goes by.

    With the old JSA and other Earth-2 types locked into WWII and the descendants of Earth-1 moving along “Now,” imagine placing the Fawcett characters in the 1950s (around when Captain Marvel dominated the newsstands). Likewise, put the Charlton characters in their 1960s heyday, telling the sort of spy-adventure stories the characters were built for (just as the Shazam characters could make ‘modern’ appearances through magic, a 1960s Ted Kord could still pass the mantle to a modern Jaime Reyes as the old JSA guys have done before).

    I’m not sure if it would actually work (too many writers seem to only want to deconstruct the past rather than write stories set there), but it’s just a thought I’ve had before…

  • Brian says:

    That aside, I’m curious how a Green Lantern without the superhero trappings and need to tie its background into the DC Universe would work. You see hints of weird sci-fi and pure space policing coming and going in the title, but it always pulls back to Hal Jordan, Square-Jawed Man In Spandex because of the JLA ties to the property.

  • @misterjayem says:

    If I were the King of Comics, I would pull the following from DC Universe:

    1) The Legion of Superheroes,
    2) The Marvel Family (using the name “Captain Thunder” really is the simple solution to their IP naming woes),
    3) Warlord,
    4) Hellblazer, and
    5) Snapper Carr

    — MrJM

  • googum says:

    There was a stretch in Warlord guest-starring Power Girl; during the Arion-tied origin and I don’t think they knew what to do with her. She was good friends with Jennifer Morgan, though; it would’ve been nice to see her in PG’s book.

    I’m sorry to bring you down on a Sunday, though! I was just fishing for quarter-bin books. “Gosh, I’m sorry you got stuck with all those Siege books! I bet you’re just giving them away, huh…?”

  • Thom H. says:

    “And Kirby’s…let’s be kind and say “unique” prose style…doesn’t help things either.”

    I sometimes have to stop in the middle of one of his books to remind myself not to shout all of the dialogue in my head. It has given me a headache before.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Thom H.: “not to shout all of the dialogue”