Tagged: Crossovers

John Ostrander: Alt Universes

Pencilers are not always satisfied. Maybe they’re never satisfied. They’ll take a page or panel that they’ve drawn and if they don’t like it, erase the sucker and do it over. If they do it too often, it gets all gray and muddy. I got a page to dialogue once that was erased so often that I couldn’t really tell what the figures were doing. Based on the plot, I threw on a lot of sound effects and hoped for the best.

You can do that as a writer as well. You can worry a plot or an idea to death, to the point where nothing really makes sense. At that point, it would almost be better to scrap it and start over.

Comic book companies (we’re talking about DC and Marvel) can do the same thing with their universes. For decades, DC had a stable universe – to the point of static. It was easier; the stories in one book were rarely if ever connected to any other story in that book or the larger DC Universe.

Marvel changed all that; their universe was very interconnected with stories and characters from one book often appearing or referenced in another. However, they were also proud of the fact that the continuity, once laid down, didn’t change (in theory if not lf not always in practice) even when that continuity creaked and groaned with age, begging for change.

These days, the universes (and some of the characters on them) flit by, get trashed, re-written, usually in a great company-wide crossover that promises that “Nothing will ever be the same again!” I’m not saying change is not a good idea; DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths was a landmark event that DC desperately needed at the time. Marvel desperately needed barnacles scraped off its editorial hull.

It seems to me, however, that these “events” are simply marketing ploys designed to make the reader buy as many tie-in books as necessary. They’re not born out of a need for anything but sales.

The problem (again, it seems to me) is there appears to be no plan for where they want to wind up. Even Crisis suffered from the fact that there was no clear concept of who the characters would be at the end and what the DCU would look like.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been doing a fine job of connecting the dots that are their movies and have had a real plan for where they were going and how each film fit into and furthered that plan. The DC Cinematic Universe… less so. They opted for dark and broody, broody, broody. Man of Steel, for any other faults it may have had, suffered from a Batmanization of its worldview.

Now Warners Bros (DC’s parent company) has announced that, in the future, not every film will fit together with the other films; in other words, like the DC Comics University of old. Some will fit together but not all and that seems to me to be a mistake. That invites confusion and there’s one thing that the general public will not appreciate is confusion.

The comics themselves, both DC and Marvel, also seem to be wrapped in confusion. It doesn’t help when the origin or the nature of the character is radically changed or the whole universe is re-stacked and changed. I think you run the serious risk of losing readers. You can erase things and redraw them so often that you turn it all to mud. You don’t grow the audience and, with the success of the superhero franchise films, you should be able to add readers. However, the event-driven books these days are not very accessible to new readers. Maybe there should be a line of a limited number of books that would be accessible and thus draw readers into the respective comic book universes. Even I, an old hand, am finding it hard to get into what’s going on. Constant change just becomes constant noise.

Find a good story. Tell it in as few issues as necessary. Otherwise, the reader starts to suspect you don’t have enough good stories to tell.

Unlike the movies.

Dennis O’Neil: Crossovers – And That Ostrander Bozo!

Before we get into this week’s topic, if we ever do… Who does this Ostrander bozo think he is? In a recent Facebook post, he told the world that he was about to start preparing a holiday meal. He was preparing to do this only about a month after undergoing bypass surgery.

Well. It so happens that some 12 years ago I had some bypass action and a month later, was I cooking up a feast? You kidding me? A month later I was mostly lying around catching up on my sloth. Wasn’t in the kitchen, wasn’t taking out the recyclables, wasn’t down here in the office tapping at the keyboard. Nope. Just sprawled on the couch, being torpid.

But Ostrander is being a chef and doing a weekly column and for all I know, writing comic books and for all I know, swimming the Hellespont. I have to admit, I’m a little hurt. I guess I expected better from a fellow midwesterner.

Spoiler alert: completely different subject.

Which is this week’s crossover event. Not in your newest comic book. Crossovers in comics have become so common that they hardly qualify as worthy of notice, however much marketing departments might wish it were otherwise. But crossovers between television programs remain still relatively rare.

Before we soldier on, a bit of clarification: a crossover is not a mere appearance of the lead character from one venue in another lead character’s venue – Batman popping up in an issue of Superman, for example. That’s a guest appearance. A crossover happens when a story is begun in one place and ended in another. Lex Luthor blows up Gotham City in Detective Comics and Superman pastes it back together in Action Comics. As noted, pretty ordinary in panel art but not elsewhere. But not unheard of. A few weeks ago, some evil stuff was done in an episode of the venerable Law and Order SVU and the story wrapped in Chicago PD and if memory serves – and won’t that be the day! – an oldie, Homicide: Life on the Street, once did a similar stunt with the Law and Order franchise.

Now, the crossover trope has, in a way, come full circle. Characters who started life in comics are doing comics-type crossovers on television. On Tuesday, if my TV listing is accurate, Arrow and some compadres will visit the Flash and on Wednesday the Flash will operate on Arrow’s turf.

I leave it to the brainier among you to mine this programming for significance. I will allow myself only this with which to close: I think that our television brethren know, really know, how to do superhero material in their medium. It’s been a bit of a learning curve as they encountered and solved the narrative problems we comics guys have been bumping into for decades. The comics-begotten shows are all honorable entertainments and one of them, Gotham, is, I think, more than that.

The only question left to ask is, does John Ostrander agree? Or is he too busy building a garage?

Mike Gold: 52 Original Future Crises Of Sin

Original SinNow that the Big Two are deep into their mandatory summer crossovers – as opposed to their mandatory winter crossovers, their mandatory spring crossovers, and their mandatory fall crossovers – I can’t tell the players without a scorecard.

At the core of both series is the same plot: all or most of the sundry parallel universes are going to collide into one, if, indeed, that many. This does not envelop either series in an aura of originality, particularly when Marv Wolfman and George Pérez did this 29 years ago. You may not think they did it better way back in the early days of the Gilded Age of Comics (and you’d be wrong about that), but at the very least you could understand that story. Original Sin and Future’s End… not so much.

At least Marvel’s Original Sin is built around a clever plot point: somebody offed The Watcher and stole one or both of his eyes… and then, one eye exploded implanting various deep dark secrets held by various characters into the brainpans of those who were within the blast radius of the eyeball.

No, I don’t know how big the blast radius of a Watcher eyeball is. And I’m a bit pissed off at offing the big bald guy anyway, but it’s comic books, where death has no meaning whatsoever. If they ever kill Aunt May off, she’ll be back in a few months with a bionic bustle.

DC’s Future’s End simply makes no sense. Batman Beyond is sent back in time to prevent the end of the world as we know it, but he misses his mark and arrives later than he was supposed to. Well, fine. That’s it. The hero blew it and it’s over, right?

No such luck. All the characters wander around slapping their foreheads and mumbling woe is me a lot. It doesn’t help that this series features the New 52 version of the DC Universe, which really hasn’t been very well-defined or thought out, but has been compromised after-the-fact by bureaucrats who wouldn’t know a good comics story if they bothered to read one.

It was time to retire the mega-event crossover before we started worrying about Y2K. But these puppies make money, so the Big Two are going to keep on hitting the event button like a crack whore with new kneepads.

It’s easy to understand why comics fans like the Marvel movies. They exist in a comparatively small universe with clear roadmaps. DC doesn’t have that goodwill going for them, and Man Of Steel offered little hope.

But we continue to hope. These are great characters. We love them, and we hope that someday the powers at Warners and Disney start to trust those characters as much as we do, before the core audience is all on catheters and people start to view Superman and Wolverine the way we view The Lone Ranger and Buck Rogers.

Before time runs out. 



This week on the Book Cave-Win Eckert is back and we find out about Crossovers and more.
Win Scott Eckert
Home page: http://www.winscotteckert.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Win-Scott-Eckert/e/B002BM6T3W/

Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World 1 & 2 (Black Coat Press)

Tales of the Shadowmen series (Black Coat Press)

Sherlock Holmes: The Crossovers Casebook (Moonstone Books)
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/4uyylet

Meteor House (publisher of The Worlds of Philip José Farmer series)

Moi, Tarzan
A French documentary about the origin and history of Tarzan, with three Tarzan experts. Made for French television, it was shown on the TV channel Arte in 1996 and 2007. Features Philip José Farmer discussing Tarzan as a real person. Video-on-demand: Online at http://www.documen.tv/asset/Tarzan.html – in English, for $4.99 [Full-screen on your computer. The French is subtitled in English.]
Store: http://www.cafepress.com/thebookcave
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Coming Attractions – http://members.cox.net/comingattractions/index.html
All Pulp –  http://allpulp.blogspot.com/


Art and Ric are joined once again with writer Barry Reese as they talk about his current novel “The Damned Thing” along with his other books. Tommy Hancock returns this week with the All Pulp news.
Barry Reese – http://www.barryreese.net
Store: http://www.cafepress.com/thebookcave
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Coming Attractions – http://members.cox.net/comingattractions/index.html
All Pulp –  http://allpulp.blogspot.com/


Ron Fortier and Rob Davis joins Art and Ric to talk about the second annual Pulp Factory Awards coming to Windy City. My recording program stopped close to the end and muted my mic. You aren’t missing much, just Ric yelling like a crazy nut trying to tell the others that he was no longer recording. I think it was a couple of minutes before they realized I was gone.  ;-)  no All Pulp news this week, Tommy Hancock couldn’t get the nurses to let him out of his room in the nursing home. Be sure and check out the All Pulp site to see what is going on for this week.
Ron Fortier –
Rob Davis –
The pdf store is: airship27hangar.com.
The Print on Demand store with the 25% discount off retail is: gopulp.info.
website: http://homepage.mac.com/robmdavis/
blog: http://homepage.mac.com/robmdavis/iblog/index.2.html
Store: http://www.cafepress.com/thebookcave
PayPal: RJCroxton1@yahoo.com
Coming Attractions – http://members.cox.net/comingattractions/index.html
All Pulp –  http://allpulp.blogspot.com/

From Noho Noir-

That’s right…This week there are two NoHo Noir stories…
Published today, “Fools Rush In,” a cautionary tale about a gambler who doesn’t know when to fold ‘em and the consequences of that.
Check it out:

Also from last week-  I think you’ll enjoy this episode.  It’s a round-up of most of the characters. 
In other news…
The webseries pilot is a go.
If you Facebook, please “like” the NoHo Noir web page.  http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/NoHo-Noir/111051172304683
It’s just been created so more functionality has to come. 
If you need more coffee cups, check out the swag Mark Satchwill created in his zazzle store: 
There are also t-shirts with some of the designs from episodes like “Cosmos” and “Blockbuster” and “Molecules.”
If you have time to sign up on the patch site, please do and comment.  The sites are now being run by Ariana Huffington and our mandate is “interaction” with the readers.  Hitting the “like” and “recommend” buttons is great; but actual comments are even better. 
As always, thanks for your support.