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Thoughts on the Super-Marriage Officially Being Erased

With the official word now confirming what we all knew was about a 99% certainty (I think I even went with 100% certainty at one point), that Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s marriage will be erased with the reboot, something I find myself thinking is, “Wait, they were married?”

We are nearing the finish of a two-year span where the Clark Kent/Lois Lane marriage was featured with extreme infrequency (heck, two years according to the comics – it’s actually been longer than that, right?). First, Superman goes to New Krypton for a year. When he returns, he goes on the road for a year.

Think about that for a moment, two VERY different sets of Superman writers with VERY different ideas of what to do with the Superman title, both came up with the SAME idea – separate Superman from Lois Lane for a year. Then, when planning the new DC reboot, Dan DiDio talks to the incoming Superman writers, and THEY also want to separate Superman from Lois Lane. And again, we’re talking a goodly variety of creative types here, and they are all coming to the same conclusion – Superman works best as, if not a LONER exactly, certainly somewhat disconnected from the rest of society (the dude has a Fortress of Solitude, for crying out loud!). While I personally never had a problem with the marriage (heck, I was okay with the Peter/MJ marriage, too), I can certainly see where the creators are coming from, and I am totally supportive of this decision.

Also, early Superman stories in Action Comics and current Superman stories in Superman? Sounds like a plan (although I still can’t get behind the armor).

98 Comments

Man, I can’t wait until people from my generation take over so that everything can go back to the way I like it from when I was young!

New Electric Superman is gonna be so awesome.

Ricardo Amaral

July 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

So, who was the Superboy that has met the Legion? (yeah, they did it again)

I presume we’ll be finding that out in September. It might be an issue, it might not be.

Ricardo Amaral

July 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I guess there is also the Legion Secret Origins that may deal with this too. Hopefully, we’ll see what happened to Adult Legion and v4 too. (hahaha)

Iposted my thoughts here.
http://fanboywatchtower.tumblr.com/post/7772609173/big-changes-for-superman-in-the-dcnu

Suffice it to say. I have some issues with this… Superman is superman because of the Kent’s influence, not because he is an alien who is “oh so alone” in this world. Its his connection to Humanity that makes him as great as he is. NOT his powers. His powers ENABLE him to do what he does. But they are NOT WHY he does what he does.

It’s gonna be great, Bill. The Avengers are gonna have SUCH cool bomber jackets in 2018.

I think the changing of the influence of the Kents is a bigger deal.

I can’t wait until the first time Superman gets his blue jeans blown off.

good for superman. Im not a fan of characters getting married.Keep them single or just dating.Wally west getting married and having kids ruined that book.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I still can’t shake the feeling that the red undies are gone due to the Sigels lawsuit – and it’s so weird that red undies will be a part of a legal agreement.

My big worry – today’s big worry – is DC’s claim that he will be ‘brash and more brooding’.
I only hope that’s just their PR department trying to sound kewl, and not what the actual writers are writing.
Not only do I not really want to read brooding Superman (isn’t that what Earth One is for?), I can’t really see Morrison or Perez wanting to write brooding, or doing it that well.
(I’m not as familiar with Perez as a writer – he doesn’t do brooding does he?)

Sorry funky green Jerusalem, Supes is going emo.
If Warner brother’s likes marvel so much, why didn’t they buy marvel?

How long is it going to be before some writer starts putting Lois and Clark into a relationship? The one thing that previous Superman reboots have taught me is that you can sweep away as much of the clutter as you like, but it’s all going to come creeping back eventually, as each writer thinks of a clever way they can reintroduce their favorite element from their childhood. And before you know it, Beppo the Super-Monkey is running around again.

i have to say, it really bothers me. Lois and Clark were a terrific couple, and I can think of a bunch of moments in recent years (well, not since Robinson, but I mean in the past decade or so) where their interaction has really choked me up in a good way. It seems like DC likes happily married couples about as much as Disney liked parents.

…I liked Mr. and Mrs. Superman and am unhappy about this altho ( siiigggh…) thank you all for officially confirming this :-(:-( .

i still say that if a writer can’t make a marriage work, it’s the writer’s fault. there is no reason to keep superheroes family-less and spouse-less.

I think it’s stupid that writers can’t seem to write interesting stories with married characters any more. I’m still looking forward to the relaunch, and I’ve gotten over Superman not being married a while ago, but this feels like a bigger problem. Why does it seem like the only superheros that can be happily married are The Flashes?

@ stsean

Totally agree. A good writer can make anything work. This current notion (Spider-Man, Wally West, Superman) that we can’t tell good stories once a male hero “settles down” is perpetuating the myth that comic fans are arrested development cases themselves.

That said, I’m still excited for Grant Morrison writing Action Comics, whether Superman is single, married, gay, or a eunuch.

I hate losing the Kents more than the marriage. I came in with the John Byrne reboot so it’s all come full circle for me. I’m still going to try both Superman and Action.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm

The sound you hear is… what, the couple of hundreds?… Silver Age fanboys breaking their hip as they jump up from their rocking chairs in joy.

The reason why these fanatics don’t use the marriage is because they don’t know how to write about two married people, all they understand is pandering to their outdated nostalgia for the 60s.

What DC needs to do is stop hiring fanboys and hire real writers.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm

No one worry about this crapboot. DC will reboot Superman again within the next 12 to 24 months just like they have done since Birthright. Plus, this is Grant Morrison, whose crap is always, ALWAYS, ignored as if it had never happened as soon as he leaves a series.

Superman not being married to Lois is like…I dunno, Moses never climbing Mount Sinai. You can look at other parts of Moses’ life, sure, but he EVENTUALLY goes up Mt. Sinai to get those tablets. It’s fundamentally written into the story.

I mean, all variations of Superman eventually end up with Lois, and those that don’t feel…off, somehow. The Earth-2 Superman married his Lois. Alan Moore wrapped up Earth-1 Superman with him quietly living in retirement…with Lois. The Post-Crisis Superman married Lois. Most Elseworlds Supermen married Lois…sure, a few didn’t (I’m thinking Red Son or War of the Worlds), but something went fundamentally wrong in those universes, and the not-being-with-Lois status was a reflection of that warped status quo.

Now…if they’re rebooting the characters for an EVENTUAL and INEVITABLE reunion of Superman and Lois, I guess that’s fine. But gee whiz, think back to the words of Kal-L to Kal-El in Crisis on Infinite Earths #11: “Y’know, you really ought to consider settling down with YOUR Lois. Nothing like a good marriage.”

Michael M Jones

July 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

What Marvel and DC have told me about being married, as exhibited by their erasure of Spider-Man and Superman’s relationships: it’s not hip, it’s not cool, it’s not modern, it’s not what the fans want.

What my own marriage of 13+ years has told me: it’s awesome.

Marvel and DC: Bite me. :)

Mike Loughlin

July 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm

The problem with hiring real writers, Michael Sacal, is that Brad Meltzer and Jodi Picoult are “real writers.” They couldn’t write comics any better than comic book writers. On your broader point about ascended fanboys, however, I couldn’t agree more. I just wonder if anyone else wants to write super-hero comics.

I don’t care one way or another about the Supermarriage, but I agree that married super-heroes are hard to pull off. The effects of a stressful job on a spouse are hard to depict in a believable manner, so I can understand the decision.

Mike Loughlin

July 18, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Michael M. Jones: Amen.

Also, they already had the Lois & Clark marriage. The second version, which may be inevitable, can’t have the impact of the first. It’s kind of lame that they seem to want to have the big moments (origins, intro. &/ or deaths of supporting characters, first encounters, etc.) over and over.

We’re looking at Ultimate DC, but without regular DC to ground it.

I have no investment in that particular marriage to get up in arms about its annulment, but I don’t like the trend of wiping out super marriages in continuity sweeps. Not only because it makes the heroes too samey, but also because it’s cowardly. If you don’t want Spider-Man or Superman to be married any more, then man up and write the story of the divorce.

D.C. is terrible. I don’t understand how you can reboot your comics every five to ten years and expect people to care. especially given how insulated comic fans are nowadays. I’m no continuity slave (and have never read any DC comic continuously … and given all these reboots what is the incentive to ever try to do so?) but dang DC … dang …

For those of us who like the Lois/Clark relationship remaining in existence, I’d like to remain hopeful that, as these stories are re-wound back through time, that, we’ll get to experience the growth and development of L&C from the beginning through a new set of eyes and a new set of stories.

I’m also looking forward to becoming a comic writer one day so I can reboot continuity and bring it back to the good old days of the mid-1990s. When Peter was married to MJ and not a Satanist. When Superman had long flowing hair. And when Hal Jordan was aged. Then dead and DC tried to pretend it cared (for one fleeting moment) about some diversity in its books.

This thesis assumes, of course, that the two writing teams really *did* independently come up with the same idea, as opposed to both of them receiving memos that said, “Hey, downplay the marriage. It’s not going to matter much in a little while anyway.”

In any case, I’m more worried about the descriptions of Superman as a more “brooding” character. As if we haven’t seen enough of that in the last… Jesus, it’s been 6 or 7 years, hasn’t it?

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Neither of the two names you mentioned are involved with the Superman comics…

beta ray steve

July 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm

Cass, I don’t think divorce would sit well with Superman’s corporate owners. But it would be a much better fit with Spider-Man, as it could re-establish his “loser cred”, something that has been lost for a long time.
I think having characters get married is a sign of desperation, having them get magically separated is a sign of chickeshittedness.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Having them get married is a sign of character growth.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Michael Sacall:

The reason why these fanatics don’t use the marriage is because they don’t know how to write about two married people, all they understand is pandering to their outdated nostalgia for the 60s.

What DC needs to do is stop hiring fanboys and hire real writers.

As the two major storyline to separate the couple both reek of editorial leading the story, I don’t think writers are to blame in the slightest.
Heck, before New Krypton, Johns and Busiek were giving it their all in writing the marriage, and it worked great.

I’d say the decision to pull back on, and then be done with, the marriage is straight down to editorial or executive levels of DC/WB.

Adam:

Superman not being married to Lois is like…I dunno, Moses never climbing Mount Sinai. You can look at other parts of Moses’ life, sure, but he EVENTUALLY goes up Mt. Sinai to get those tablets. It’s fundamentally written into the story.

But it’s not.
It often seems that way to me, as he’s nearly always been married to Lois since I’ve been reading comics.
But before the Man Of Steel reboot, it wasn’t on the cards, outside of Imaginary stories.
If anything, there was a big play on who he would end up with – even Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, Moore touches on why in this story he’s not with Lana, as it was a possibility at the time.
(As far as any status quo change was possible at the time!)

Mike Loughlin

The problem with hiring real writers, Michael Sacal, is that Brad Meltzer and Jodi Picoult are “real writers.” They couldn’t write comics any better than comic book writers.

Actually, they were a whole lot worse.
Neither showed any chops with the medium, and the stories they’ve written were incredibly dull.
Picoult is one of the few people to write a comic that made it look like Meltzer knew how to write one.

Ross:

D.C. is terrible. I don’t understand how you can reboot your comics every five to ten years and expect people to care. especially given how insulated comic fans are nowadays. I’m no continuity slave (and have never read any DC comic continuously … and given all these reboots what is the incentive to ever try to do so?) but dang DC … dang …

They are trying to get more than ‘insulated comic fans’ as their audience, and so are making the changes they feel will get as many people on board as possible.
As for rebooting every decade – there is an audience turn over. The ‘insulated comic fans’ may stay, but there are people who come and go to comics, and it’s them they are trying to grab.

Michael P

In any case, I’m more worried about the descriptions of Superman as a more “brooding” character. As if we haven’t seen enough of that in the last… Jesus, it’s been 6 or 7 years, hasn’t it?

As I said earlier though, Morrison and Perez don’t really do brooding.
I’m hoping it’s just spin.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 5:41 pm

The problem with the marriage is not the marriage itself, but that the people who came up with the idea (Jurgens, Carlin, Ordway, Kesel, etc, etc, etc, etc) are no longer part of the titles. They were the ones who had a vision for the two characters getting married and had an idea of where they wanted that story to go. Once they left, the entire saga of the modern age Superman came to an abrupt stop.

In the decade since the turn over, all we’ve seen is the same outdated fanboy crap over and over again. The only thing that changes is the name on the credit box… oh, and that now Superman has gone from dressing like a Kryptonian girl in Secret Origin to wearing his baby blanket around his neck like it was a cape like Linus in Penuts dragging his security blanket everywhere he goes.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 18, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Having them get married is a sign of character growth.

Not necessarily – if the characters don’t change in anyway from the experience, or if it came out of the blue for the characters, then it’s not growth at all.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm

“Not necessarily – if the characters don’t change in anyway from the experience, or if it came out of the blue for the characters, then it’s not growth at all.”

It didn’t come out of the blue, it was a plot that slowly develped across about six years or so. It began around issue 23 or 25 of the Superman series, when Clark decided to pursue Lois romantically. Then it continued on in Superman 50 where he proposed and she accepted. It would have continued with 75 but then they did the Death of, so the marriage had to wait until after issue 100.

It wasn’t something sudden, and it wasn’t something illconceived. The writers and editors took their time with it.

I for one am sure that the next step would have been for them to have a baby. Back then EVERYONE was having babies, from Lana and Pete to Lucy and Ron to even Lex and the Contessa. I think that the whole point of Superman Red/Superman Blue was to provide Lois and Clark with the opportunity to have children. There MUST have been a reason why Clark became 100% human whenever he stopped using his electric powers. What other reason could there have been but for him to have a child with Lois without any of the dangers that had been established in cross-race breeding?

Lois and Clark were definitely changed by the experience of being married. They were no longer the same people they were prior to it. Remember, Lois HATED Clark for scooping her on the Superman story, and in time that stopped being the case.

I agree with those folks who are saying that this decision wasn’t made by the creative teams. This sounds like it came straight from editorial or corporate. I think it’s due to equal parts of desire to appeal to new readers, the need to disassemble Superman before the Siegels do it for them, and somebody’s (I would guess Didio’s) personal desire to leave an imprint on the character or to regress the character to when he was a boy.

Ultimately, though. I don’t think it will matter. Superman doesn’t work without the tension between he and Lois Lane. It’s built into his story engine. And if we don’t have the Kents or his Kansas upbringing to keep him grounded, Lois HAS to fill that void.

And at this point, separating Clark from Lois is kind of like trying to pull apart a PB&J sandwich after you’ve already made it: you could probably do it, but everything’s already mixed together, and you know that the only way you’ll prevent yourself from making an ungodly mess is by putting them back together where they belong.

“oh, and that now Superman has gone from dressing like a Kryptonian girl in Secret Origin to wearing his baby blanket around his neck like it was a cape like Linus in Penuts dragging his security blanket everywhere he goes.”

And that begs the question… if he’s the first super-hero, and he’s improvising a cape like some kid playing super-hero, then where did those kids get the idea for their capes?

I’d say the decision to pull back on, and then be done with, the marriage is straight down to editorial or executive levels of DC/WB.

The notion that Grant Morrison, given the ability to reboot the Superman titles, wouldn’t erase the marriage when erasing the marriage was specifically a plot point of his previous pitch to write the Superman titles (withOUT a reboot) is not a correct one.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm

But he can’t be the first superhero, not if his debut takes place in contemporary times, and specially not if it takes place on an Earth with the shared continuity of Earth 1 and Earth 2, in which the Justice Society of America were heroes in the 40s.

On such an Earth, he would get the inspiration to don a cape from Alan Scott or from the Spectre or from Hourman.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 6:48 pm

“The notion that Grant Morrison, given the ability to reboot the Superman titles, wouldn’t erase the marriage when erasing the marriage was specifically a plot point of his previous pitch to write the Superman titles (withOUT a reboot) is not a correct one.”

Exactly. He is doing the same thing that Waid did with Birthright, allowing their nostalgia for the past and hatred for the MoS reboot dictate the direction of their origin stories. None of the people involved in that proposal like what happened after the MoS reboot and take every opportunity they are given to undo those changes and regress the character back to how it was decades ago. This is no exception.

Mike Loughlin

July 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Michael Sacal,

Fair point about outside writers not handling Superman. My point was about DC’s overall track record with non-comic book writers writing super-hero comics.

I don’t get where DC’s youth-obsession is coming from. Maybe it’s just pervasive in pop-culture. I wonder when they’ll realize that Superman, for all his considerable strengths as a character, is not hip. He may never be hip. There’s nothing wrong with that. Given decent writing, Superman works fine. Trying to make him appeal to an adolescent crowd by changing surface elements or relationships with supporting characters won’t work.

Michael Sacal

July 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

“I don’t get where DC’s youth-obsession is coming from. Maybe it’s just pervasive in pop-culture. I wonder when they’ll realize that Superman, for all his considerable strengths as a character, is not hip. He may never be hip. There’s nothing wrong with that. Given decent writing, Superman works fine. Trying to make him appeal to an adolescent crowd by changing surface elements or relationships with supporting characters won’t work.”

This has nothing to do with appealing to younger audiences, that’s just hyperbole. The content of all these origin stories, from Loeb’s Return to Krypton to Waid’s Birthright to Busiek’s Action Comics #850 and Donner’s/ Johns’ Action Comics Annual #10, to Johns’ Secret Origin to this latest stunt, is designed to appeal to fans of outdated comic books and movies, be they from the 60s, the 70s, or, like now, the late 40s.

Nothing that these fanboys have done has managed to reinvent the character for the 21st century. The fact that none of their reboots have endured for longer than two years at a time is indicative of their continued failure.

DC needs a writer who can reinvent the character with new ideas that haven’t been done before, similar to how Byrne and Wolfman introduced notions, directions, and concepts that hadn’t been done in the Superman comics before, like the matrix, keeping the Kents alive, making Clark the dominant personality, and turning Lex into a businessman.

As long as they continue to worry about pandering to nostalgia first, they will keep failing, again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again…

@ Michael Sacal:

The problem with the marriage is not the marriage itself, but that the people who came up with the idea (Jurgens, Carlin, Ordway, Kesel, etc, etc, etc, etc) are no longer part of the titles. They were the ones who had a vision for the two characters getting married and had an idea of where they wanted that story to go. Once they left, the entire saga of the modern age Superman came to an abrupt stop.

The bottom line is that the post-Wedding status quo has never quite worked. A lot of talented folks have taken a swing at the book during the Mr. & Mrs. Superman era, but it has been steadily losing readers. It is time to let go of the Byrne-Jurgens era and try something different.

@ Michael Loughlin:

I don’t get where DC’s youth-obsession is coming from. Maybe it’s just pervasive in pop-culture. I wonder when they’ll realize that Superman, for all his considerable strengths as a character, is not hip. He may never be hip. There’s nothing wrong with that. Given decent writing, Superman works fine. Trying to make him appeal to an adolescent crowd by changing surface elements or relationships with supporting characters won’t work.

Grant Morrison wrote what (for my nickel) is best Superman comic of the last 20 years and one of the 5-10 best ever. That earns him the benefit of the doubt as to what works.

So JMS has now come on two different books with married characters and both characters shortly thereafter have their marriages retconned out of existence.

“The notion that Grant Morrison, given the ability to reboot the Superman titles, wouldn’t erase the marriage when erasing the marriage was specifically a plot point of his previous pitch to write the Superman titles (withOUT a reboot) is not a correct one.”

I see your point, but that’s not automatically true.

The analogous situation that everybody sees is the Spider-Man marriage. We now know that, prior to that marriage, Quesada had spent basically his entire run at Marvel trying to figure out a way to undo the marriage that would “work”. It’s fair to say he heard multiple pitches on the subject.

Therefore, given that it was known that that’s what Quesada wanted, it’s hard to assume that the pitches themselves were entirely “pure”.

Especially with a guy like Morrison, who is able to bend his actual ideas to the dictates of editorial (evidence that comes immediately to mind, re-casting his ‘X-Men’ proposal and killing Batman).

Come on, they’ve been trying to think of ways to get rid of the Spider-Man marriage since 1994. There were two different Editors-in-Chief in charge under the previous attempts at getting rid of the marriage before Quesada. I think it is more than safe to say that, just like Clark and Lois’ marriage, the vast (VAST) majority of comic book creators, if given the choice, would choose a single Clark and a single Peter over a married Clark and a married Peter. So the idea that it was just some white whale of Quesada’s is way off base.

The big difference, though, between Spider-Man and Superman is that at least Superman’s marriage had the support of the people writing the Superman books at the time of the actual marriage. Folks like Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern, etc. Those people at least did like the idea of Clark getting married (does anyone happen to know Byrne’s feelings on the matter? I know he worked on the wedding issue, but I tend to doubt Byrne ever would have married Clark and Lois had he stayed in control of the books), unlike the Spider-Man writers, where even the guys writing the actual books at the time didn’t want Spider-Man to get married.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 18, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Brian Cronin:

The notion that Grant Morrison, given the ability to reboot the Superman titles, wouldn’t erase the marriage when erasing the marriage was specifically a plot point of his previous pitch to write the Superman titles (withOUT a reboot) is not a correct one.

Sure, but the last mini-relaunch – One Year Later – started with a strong emphasis on the marriage, and then DC began pulling back on it from there, over arcs that weren’t steered by creative. Mozza wasn’t involved there.

Even if G-Mozz loved the marriage, I don’t think it would have mattered in the face of this relaunch.
He’s even writing early Superman adventures, so the marriage wouldn’t factor into his book anyway.

Michael Sacal:

Exactly. He is doing the same thing that Waid did with Birthright, allowing their nostalgia for the past and hatred for the MoS reboot dictate the direction of their origin stories. None of the people involved in that proposal like what happened after the MoS reboot and take every opportunity they are given to undo those changes and regress the character back to how it was decades ago. This is no exception.

I think your letting a distaste for Morrison’s work colour your thinking here – and possibly with Waid – they can’t do anything the editors don’t want them to do, and this relaunch across the boards is pointing to editorial/corporate owners leading the charge.

Birthright was initiated by Didio – and the silver age infused ‘Superman Y2K’ was already in motion before Birthright began.
Morrison has written Superman to the wider continuity whenever he’s written him in the DCU, and the only time he’s ignored it, was with the specifically non-continuity All Star Superman.

The uniform changes to the character seem to be aiming to avoid elements that are in the earliest appearances of the character – and thus owned by the Siegels/Shusters – and the latest ‘what to expect of the Nu Superman’ seems ripped straight from the PR for Superman: Earth One – the OGN Didio and Lee seemed to be touting as the biggest success of the year.
I think it all points to these changes coming from what DC editorial/Diane Nelson thinks their characters need to be, rather than what individual creators would prefer to do.

Sure, but the last mini-relaunch – One Year Later – started with a strong emphasis on the marriage, and then DC began pulling back on it from there, over arcs that weren’t steered by creative. Mozza wasn’t involved there.

Mini-relaunch, not reboot. Had they rebooted then, they likely would have gotten rid of the marriage then, as well, because if you give pretty much any comic book creator the option between a single Superman and a married Superman, they’re going to pick the former. This does not mean that the latter is a bad character, just that the latter set-up takes away a significant part of what most writers like to write – the dichotomy between Clark and Superman, the outsider aspect of Superman – stuff that you lose when you have him be married. Of course you could write different good stories with Superman married, but if given the opportunity, like they are here, writers are going to choose the other style of story 9 times out of 10.

For instance, here’s Busiek on the topic to Newsarama awhile back, and while he articulates it perhaps better than many other writers would, I assure you that most writers would have similar takes as Busiek:

[The marriage] made for a very nice story, but it eliminated an important part of the Superman mythos: the struggle between the two halves of Superman — his publicly known face, admired by millions, and his human side, meek and emotionally vulnerable,” Busiek said.

“There’s some value to be had in exploring their married life, but I’m not sure that’s something that couldn’t be gotten from exploring some other hero’s married life, and I don’t think it outweighs the value of that great dichotomy that was always at the heart of Superman, the idea of Superman as the symbol of adulthood and power, and Clark as the inner, less-respected adolescent self-image. That made Superman appeal to younger readers for decades, and made a very strong character engine.

“Writing them as a married couple is fun, because I like that romantic, supportive banter,” Busiek added, “but it does soften the concept.”

and

Busiek said the marriage also makes dramatic stories a little harder to accomplish when writing Superman. “It’s harder for Clark to be in a bind at work if he’s got someone there covering for him. And of course, it’s harder to do stories where he explores the idea of romance, or of finding a place to belong that isn’t necessarily with Lois. It makes him feel less like an outsider, more like a homebody,” he said. “Which is nice for those of us who like those things in our own lives, but it’s not as dramatic. And while there’s drama in marriage, it’s not always easy to bring that kind of drama to the kind of sweeping action-adventure story that’s usually Superman’s wheelhouse.

“None of this is to say those challenges are insurmountable,” Busiek added. “I wrote a married Superman and had very little difficulty with it. But the one pre-marriage story I wrote felt even sharper, livelier in the Clark/Lois relationship. It can definitely work either way, but I think there’s more immediate juice in having their relationship unresolved, more competitive and subject to change.”

I think I’ve come up with an answer for both Marvel & DC.

Begin at a decade (for instance, here we are in 2011, the start of teens) and reboot EVERYTHING!

Start all the books, characters, etc… at square one.
Then, go from there.
Plan a decade (or if you wish, maybe 15 or 20 years) worth of stories and adventures that differs from what creators had tried in the past. You’ll have the full playbook. Spider-Man, for instance, will be back in high school and Gwen, Captain Stacy, etc… will be alive. Introduce new characters and villains and re-introduce old ones.
If we truly have talented writers and artists out there, they’ll have the chance to make their mark. The only caveat will be, if a character dies———-they’re DEAD. No returns. No revivals.

UNTIL

2021 (or later if they decide to go at a 15 or 20 year clip) Now, at 2021 you reboot to square one, all over again.

Does this sound ludicrous? No more so than the patchwork crap that Marvel and DC have been doing for years. When Stan and Jack (& Steve) started it all for Marvel in ’61 they had NO IDEA it would continue 10 years on, let alone 50! These characters were never meant to keep such an anal continuity for all this time because it COULD NEVER WORK!

By rebooting every 10 (15 or 20) years, you can get media attention, new generation of readers and books that new readers can pick up and not be totally lost after two pages. And for those old farts who are so stuck in their way of how the characters SHOULD be written, there’s always all of those great collected paper and hard back books. Those stories will never be forgotten as long as there are collections to read.

It’s a weird situation to me, where I can see the benefits of erasing the marriage for a very particular take on Superman (one that Morrison, Waid, and Busiek all express in varying words)…but I also think it makes Lois Lane — herself a character with a 73-year pedigree — much less interesting. Let’s not forget what Superman (and Lois) co-creator Jerry Siegel intended regarding their relationship becoming one of equal partners : a marriage in spirit if not in letter.

My other issue with the marriage being erased has to do with the evidently persisttent idea among middle-aged creators today’s readers want to identify with a romantically-conflicted adult character as they did in decades past. What we seem to get now aren’t conventionally vulnerable superheroes, but rather characters so deeply damaged that they couldn’t manage a relationship. On the other side, we get characters who move from one long-term committed relationship to another — Spider-Man’s marriage was erased, but his current romantic storyline really doesn’t have any conflicts that a marriage would supposedly preclude.

The chaste triangles also don’t hold as much appeal in the age of the hook-up; adolescents and adults are a lot less sexually and romantically self-constrained these days than in the Silver Age. You might add to this an increasing sense that the protagonist who mopes after their love interest or who can’t keep a relationship together has something wrong with them — a stalker, or a loser, not a hero. The supers with unstable love lives these days tend to be the ones who are portrayed as seriously traumatized wrecks — the Daredevils and Tony Starks of the world, who are these days imagined as hollowed-out sex addicts, as broken people. The model comic-book hero’s relationship these days seems to be a middle-aged writer’s idea of friends with benefits/recurring hookups-on-the-job: see Bucky Barnes and Natasha Romanova in Brubaker’s Cap, Hank Pym and Tigra in Christos Gage’s Avengers books, Scott and Emma in X-Men, even Batman and Catwoman in Morrison’s recent Batman, Inc. stories. They’re all examples of professionals in love who don’t leave the Howard Hawks banter phase of the relationship because their profession is dangerous, and their profession is what brings them together.

Say, didn’t Hawks make a film about a pair of cynical, witty newspaper reporters whose hectic jobs and professional passions kept bringing them back together. If only there were a comic-book love story about a pair of big city reporters that could take its cue from that flick….

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Brian Cronin:

Had they rebooted then, they likely would have gotten rid of the marriage then, as well, because if you give pretty much any comic book creator the option between a single Superman and a married Superman, they’re going to pick the former.

Do you really think this came from the creators though?
I was arguing against this idea that the writers are ruining the concepts of the characters by wanting to write it like it was when they were kids – mainly because I feel it was motivated by someone who wants the books to go back to the way it was when they were kids*.
But I really get the vibe that DC made the decisions in this regard – mainly because some of the other ideas don’t sound like they come from the attached creators.

*Although I’ve honestly no idea about Michael Sacal’s age or motivations.
(I think Superman Y2K and post-OYL were great takes on the character, so we’re definetly coming from different places regardless).

For instance, here’s Busiek on the topic to Newsarama awhile back, and while he articulates it perhaps better than many other writers would, I assure you that most writers would have similar takes as Busiek:

I agree with a lot of Busiek says about how it affects the fantasy of the character for younger readers – ie. Clark is considered a nerd because no one knows how great he really is – but not necessarily with how it’s easier to write the single Superman for drama.
Well, it may be easier, but for me as a writer, both single and married suck when done poorly, and rule when done well.

I like Superman married, as that’s what I’ve known since I’ve been reading him (and comics), but I like stories where he’s single as well.
Just depends on if they are done well.
But, again, nothing I’ve heard really makes me think creators got a lot of say about the set up of these characters.

Hell, you could make the argument that if they’d asked the creators, they’d have kept Superman married – it seems so rare they do what the actual creatives think!

Omar:

My other issue with the marriage being erased has to do with the evidently persisttent idea among middle-aged creators today’s readers want to identify with a romantically-conflicted adult character as they did in decades past.

‘Today’s readers’ may not want to, but there isn’t that many of us, and we’re a good two to five decades older than these characters were written for, up until the 80′s.

Spider-Man’s marriage was erased, but his current romantic storyline really doesn’t have any conflicts that a marriage would supposedly preclude.

I dunno, a big part of his current romantic storyline is ‘will Carlie Cooper figure out Peter’s identity’.
Heck, the last couple of story lines she’s had screen time in are about her getting angry with Peter for always disappearing, and almost catching him out. It’s also been made a point that Spider-Man (not Peter) is her best friend.

The chaste triangles also don’t hold as much appeal in the age of the hook-up; adolescents and adults are a lot less sexually and romantically self-constrained these days than in the Silver Age.

Smallville, Twilight, and whatever god awfulness the kiddies love at the moment, all revolve around love triangles.
They just aren’t chaste.

Do you really think this came from the creators though?

The IDEA of doing a reboot, I agree came from editorial, as editorial had to decide which books should be flat out rebooted and which books would mostly stay the same (Batman and Green Lantern, for instance, are mostly staying the same, because editorial was happy with their respective status quos). So I do believe that editorial made the decision that Superman needed a reboot.

Once the creators were asked what they wanted to DO with the reboot, I think Perez and Morrison both wanted to go with no marriage. However, I will admit that the idea of erasing the marriage is such a no-brainer that I could see them going forward with no marriage even had Perez and Morrison said otherwise. I don’t think they did, though, as, again, I think at least 90% of any comic book creators you gave the opportunity to reboot Superman would get rid of the marriage.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 18, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Once the creators were asked what they wanted to DO with the reboot,

This is where we differ – I’d be very shocked if they were asked that, before DC had made up the new status quo/rules for the character.
With the success of Smallville, and legal issues hanging over head of what they can and can’t use with the character, I wouldn’t be shocked if the execs told the editors what they wanted, and then editorial interpreted that, and then Mozza and Perez were brought on board to do it.

I don’t think they did, though, as, again, I think at least 90% of any comic book creators you gave the opportunity to reboot Superman would get rid of the marriage.

What would be the point of a reboot if the status quo were the same, and not starting over?

This is where we differ – I’d be very shocked if they were asked that, before DC had made up the new status quo/rules for the character.
With the success of Smallville, and legal issues hanging over head of what they can and can’t use with the character, I wouldn’t be shocked if the execs told the editors what they wante

You seriously think that editorial came up with Grant Morrison’s approach to Superman? It sure sounds exactly like something Grant Morrison would come up with.

What would be the point of a reboot if the status quo were the same, and not starting over?

Agreed. Which is why it makes sense to get rid of the marriage.

funkygreenjerusalem

July 19, 2011 at 1:21 am

You seriously think that editorial came up with Grant Morrison’s approach to Superman? It sure sounds exactly like something Grant Morrison would come up with.

His approach? No. If anything, I think regardless of what else was happening, Morrison would be writing a Superman, set in his early Siegel/Shuster days – it’s not only natural after the silver age All Star, I think he’s been mentioning this idea for awhile.
(Someone must have – I’m not smart enough to come up with a Siegel/Shuster Superman as a natural progression from All Star at all, and I’d heard the idea before this).

But the rules by which he has to play? Certainly.

If there is an exception to the norm in this relaunch, it would be Morrison, but with lots of what we’re hearing about these titles – both intentionally and unintentionally – it sounds like DC are laying down the framework, and inviting creators to work around that.
With a character like Superman, who I get the strong impression WB feels is under-performing to what he should – and is at the center of a massive lawsuit – I can’t believe this wasn’t laid out by editorial, and vetted by execs.
(And regardless of which version you believe*, a recent issue of Superman was scrapped against editorials wishes, so execs are paying attention to the character).

Morrison’s take on the character in his book sounds like his ideas, but the ‘current day’ Superman they are talking about doesn’t seem to have that much to do with Morrison’s approach at all.

Hopefully, the point is moot as we’ll be getting great stories come September regardless.

*And on that note I’m torn by which I WANT to believe. On a human level, I want to believe it was due to objectionable kitten rescuing content, not the appearance of a Muslim super hero.
But on a fan level, I want to think it’s an over-reaction to the over-reaction of some news sources, to recent DC characters being Muslim, because I just hate the idea that people who own the character would think it’s uncool to see him rescue a kitten.
(Even Mark Millar wrote a whole issue framed by Superman finding a lost dog!)

One thing no one brought up so far (at least as far as I can tell):

When I was a kid reading comics, my friends and i apparently had the opposite reaction that Marvel and DC editorial seem to think we should have. It was *AWESOME* that Spider-Man, after years of being the loser, married the incredibly hot, successful, brilliant Mary Jane, and that Clark Kent, not Superman, had finally won over Lois and they were engaged.

It gave the sort of nerdy kid who was reading comics something to look forward to–even the underdog gets the girl sometimes. What sort of lesson, or moral, if you prefer, are they sending now by magically undoing both marriages?

There are plenty of ways to get both characters single without a messy divorce. And I don’t mean by offing the ladies.

This thread is surprisingly pro-Marriage. Personally I thought Lois was bearable before the marriage, but since she married Clark she’s been incredibly irritating.

Personally I say kill the marriage – and never have Lois call Clark “Smallville” ever again. She’s smug enough without that.

As an aside, one major thing that no-one seems to have said yet is – Gosh that’s a pretty picture. Rags Morales has come on a long way since Identity Crisis (and his work was perfectly good on that).

Yeah, it’s a great drawing. Morales back then was being fairly heavily inked by Michael Bair. Now he is being inked by Rick Bryant and you definitely see more of Morales’ own style shining through (not that Morales/Bair was a bad team, of course, as I liked them a lot together).

I love DC. “It’s not a reboot, it’s a relaunch. Which means Damian can stay as Batman’s son and Robin but Lois is gone from being Superman’s wife.”

I’m a big fan of the marriage, but I grieved for its loss already when they brought back Barry Allen and Hal Jordan and, to a lesser extent, brought back the Silver Age Krypton. The writing has been on the wall for a decade now that the comics I followed since the ’80s and ’90s, the comics that had a progression and evolution and gained its own fans, were being eradicated in order to bring back the silver age iterations of everything and the comics the current creators liked in 1974 when they were fans. Only with more torture porn.

So I’m sad, but I’ve made my peace with it. The only thing that really disappoints me in a big way with this relaunch is losing Oracle so Barbara Gordon can be Batgirl again. That just sucks.

But DC keeps saying it’s not a reboot.

Now I get an image of a DC exec doing his best Arnie voice. “It’s not ah Reeebooot!”

Michael Sacal

July 19, 2011 at 6:05 am

@Brian

“i tend to doubt Byrne ever would have married Clark and Lois had he stayed in control of the books”

I was once told by a fan on a mailing list that he had heard/read that a lot of what Roger Stern did after he took over Superman following Byrne’s departure came from plots that Byrne wrote. Since Clark’s romantic pursuit of Lois began during Stern’s run, there is a chance that it’s something Byrne intended to explore.

I wish there was someone that specializes in exploring comic book legends who we could ask to look into this…

Part of me keeps itching at the idea that the new DCU has two Supermen. One from the past and one in the modern day who is the son of the original. It would allow Grant to do his Hugo Danner inspired take and Perez to do more modern stories with the present day Superman, his son. Because so far these two characters seem to be presented as vastly different from one another.

Michael Sacal

July 19, 2011 at 6:26 am

@Nick, they could have just turned Conner into Superman and Cassie into Wonder Woman, that way they could have a single Superman who “plays the field” while Clark and Lois retire to the farm.

There is no excuse to doing ANOTHER G-D Superman origin when they just published the last one within the last 24 months.

Agreed with Michael Sacal, if you’re going to do another Superman origin, then publish three at once and let people choose which one they’d like. Instead you get so many different contradicting ones that create a different character with a separate background, there’s no telling who you’re reading, especially when they play ping-pong with the creative teams.

Michael Sacal

July 19, 2011 at 7:40 am

The character’s origin shouldn’t be determined by commitee, though, it should be honest to the concept, not based on nostalgia or pandering.

I believe it was PAD who said that writers should give readers what they need, not what they want. DC, through Waid, Loeb, Busiek, Johns, and now Morrison has been giving readers what they want, which is the revived Silver Age Superman, and each time it has resulted in absolute failure.

Byrne and Wolfman, in contrast, gave the character what he needed (i.e. sole Kryptonian, Clark comes first – given that it was HE who creates Superman), and that resulted in an iteration of the character that lasted 20+ years in the comics and has been adapted across various media, like TV (i.e. Superman on CBS, Superman TAS, Lois & Clark, Justice League, and Smallville)

@The Livewire: Have DC editors recently been saying, loud and clear, “Superman is not getting rebooted”?

Or have they only been saying, in more general terms, that they aren’t doing a total reboot of the DCU as we know it?

The latter is my understanding — but I think the door is wide open for individual characters to get most or all of their existing continuity tossed out the window so they can start all over from scratch, which is what “reboot” usually means.

The rest of this post is something I said several weeks ago, shortly after the news broke about what’s happening in September with 52 new “first issues”:

************************************

Based on past experience, I expect that this September we’ll find the treatment of each of DC’s established characters will fit into one or another of the following categories. As was the case after “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” and after “Zero Hour,”and after “Infinite Crisis.”

1. Rebooted. All the old continuity about that character (or sometimes an entire team) got flushed down the toilet! A “fresh start” was being made! For instance: Superman and Wonder Woman fell into this category right after COIE, and the Legion of Super-Heroes fell into it right after Zero Hour.

2. Heavily Retconned. Some major changes were made to the character’s continuity — but a lot of his or her older stories had still happened, more or less the way we remembered. For instance, “Donna Troy/Wonder Girl I” has had a ridiculous number of origins at different times! But no matter what her origin story is at any given time, it’s always stayed in continuity that Donna was a founding member of the original Teen Titans as “Wonder Girl,” and that she really did have all those old adventures with them in comic books published from the 1960s onward.

3. Got Off Lightly. For instance, Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen scarcely experienced any changes after COIE. Hal later went crazy just in time to be a villain in Zero Hour, but his previous continuity wasn’t actually being thrown away. (And besides, the craziness all wore off after awhile!)

4. Erased. Some characters just fall by the wayside during these big shake-ups, so that now they are nowhere in sight in anyone’s supporting cast. And it is not because anyone plans to reboot them (and thus “re-introduce them” to other characters) in the foreseeable future. For instance, after Superman got rebooted in the Post-Crisis era, many of his villains and regular supporting cast likewise made new appearances “for the very first time” over the next few years — but the Earth-One Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, stayed “officially erased” from the mainstream timeline for almost two decades until Jeph Loeb got permission to reboot her. The Matrix Supergirl who debuted in the late 80s was so different from Kara that she really qualified as a whole new character concept who just happened to be re-using the name “Supergirl” now that it didn’t belong to anyone else.

I figure that once again we are going to see a medley of all of the above. Come September, some of our favorites will be Rebooted, some will be Heavily Retconned, some lucky souls will Get Off Lightly, and in some cases a character concept will either definitely or implicitly have been Erased.

Which characters will fall into which category? I don’t know for sure! I think DC is deliberately trying to get us excited about this by encouraging us to wildly speculate (and argue) about such details before we actually see what happens! (Isn’t that thoughtful of them?)

Byrne and Wolfman gave a group of readers what they wanted, which was a DC book that read that read like an 80s Marvel book. I was part of that group. I would never in a million years read a Bronze Age Superman comic by Bates, Maggin and company. Byrne and Wolfman also gave another group exactly what they DIDN’T want, which was a DC book that read like an 80s Marvel group. The former group was larger than the latter group, hence the increased sales, but the latter group was a vocal minority.

But rewriting history to say that Byrne and Wolfman did some courageous thing by giving readers what they needed rather than what they wanted is a romantic rewrite of history. Appealing to the Jim Shooter era Marvel fan was totally a form of pandering, it was just pandering that was well-written,

Likewise, the Waid, Loeb, Busiek, Johns return the Silver Age is the same…some readers wanted a return to the Silver Age, some didn’t. What made it fail wasn’t about what readers need vs what they want, but rather that it was overseen by Dan Didio and his inept editorial, who work as a reverse Archie Goodwin. Archie Goodwin was an editor renowned for pulling out the best story out of any writer, whereas Didio can pull out the worst writing out of anyone. Post-Crisis DC was run by Jeannette Kahn, That’s a world of difference.

Michael Sacal

July 19, 2011 at 7:57 am

DC was at its best when run by a woman than it has been since a man took over… odd, isn’t it?

Cant wait for DC to lose the rights to Superman.

not surprised to see the end of superman being married to Lois for one the marriage kind of puts superman and lois in a corner for where do they go from there but wind up with a super bundle of joy when superman and wonder woman are more ideal to be the marrying couple that plus the fact that marvel and dc really have proven that marriage kind of ages the characters given how they keep rebooting their time lines. though some marriage in comics have worked like reid and sue and scott and jean before he cheated with emma.

DC was at its best when run by a woman than it has been since a man took over… odd, isn’t it?

Why is that odd?

Michael Sacal

July 19, 2011 at 9:02 am

Well, aren’t women supposed to less interested in comics than men?

Michael Sacal

July 19, 2011 at 9:41 am

Let us say that Brian is right in his analysis and that DC went after writers who wanted to separate Lois and Clark… what if instead they had gone after writers who wanted to keep them together?

Just because these set of writers can’t figure out how to tell stories with Lois and Clark married it doesn’t mean that there aren’t writers who cannot do it.

The problem at DC is that Didio’s agenda is to regress the DC U back to what it was in the 60s/pre Crisis (i.e. the multiple origins of Superman, Barbara Gordon back as Batgirl, etc). In contrast, Mike Carlin’s vision was to tighten continuity and allow for characters across the line to grow and change.

Didio hires writers and editors that help his agenda. That doesn’t mean that all writers and all editors agree on what THESE writers and THESE editors see as being right or necessary.

Well, aren’t women supposed to less interested in comics than men?

Well, I’d say interest is unrelated to vision, competence and talent. You can be as interested as you want to be but without vision, competence or talent it’s irrelevant. You just get shortsighted fanwankery. This explains Didio and his regime. Whenever I read interviews of or about Jeannette Kahn or Jim Shooter, both had vision, competence and talent.

There are screenwriters and directors and animators who make great big screen or animated adaptations of popular comics and admit they barely read the source material, that they just did cram sessions after getting the job. Tim Burton is one example.

Thinking about other as-yet-unconfirmed relaunch rumors, I have to wonder if annulling the Super-Marriage wasn’t as much about yet another (misguided and probably doomed ) attempt to turn Wonder Woman into a top-tier character, sales-wise, as it is about issues directly related to Superman himself…

Didio has been running DC like a boy’s club, letting writers do whatever they want with no one to control them. Kahn did things more orderly, and because of that DC became a force to be reckoned with.

Didio has been running DC like a boy’s club, letting writers do whatever they want with no one to control them.

based on every interview i’ve read of people who’ve worked at didio’s dc but no longer do, most recent example of dylan horrocks describing his batman war games experience, i’d say the opposite is true. people couldn’t do whatever they wanted in the least.

Regarding whether DiDio lets writers do whatever they want:

I do seem to recall that Adam Beechen said that when he started writing “Robin” scripts for the “One Year Later” leap after Infinite Crisis, he was told:

“Use Cassandra Cain in your first story arc. Reveal that she turned into a shameless villain during the “missing year.”

So he did. He didn’t know much about Cassandra Cain at the time, and evidently didn’t take the trouble to do any comprehensive research on her, but he still wrote an arc in which she turned out, toward the end, to be the “mystery villain.” The plotting of that arc made very little sense — even if you accept the idea that Cassandra had gone nuts during the missing year, and that neither Bruce Wayne nor anybody else had known or cared what was up with her during all that time!

Still, I wouldn’t call that a case of DiDio and the other editorial types allowing Beechen to run wild. I’d call it a case of giving him his marching orders (“drag Cassandra down into the mud on any old excuse!”) and then leaving the messy details up to him.

“but no longer do”

Hmmm… maybe then it’s about his agenda, and he lets those who follow it do what they want and not those who are against it.

Whatever. There goes the idea of the world’s top superhero as a mature family man. Made most comic readers feel bad about themselves, I guess.

Wow.. so many posts , with so many views on the subject …

Before i give my own POV, let’s begin by saying.. i’m 42 yers old.. i’ve grown with marvel and DC in the 70′s and 80′s.. i really do have found memories of those years

But .. time changes , like people do … what i liked in those days, isnt what i’m looking for today… when i need to go back to those days , i pick up old FF, Spiderman, Legion, JLA issues / runs/ collections of that time… not some “redo-hemo-mode-of yesteryear” (all taht hemo-mode tends to make me flee )

Getting rid of marriages , be it PP/MJW or CK/LL only shows what limited ideas the writers on those titles do have (it was simplier in those times …. )

What i know, is that even if i will have an eye for a time on those DC titles.. my money will go the DH and the reborn First

The bottom line for me is good comics. I don’t like that the marriage is being erased, but I’d rather see great Superman comics without it than crappy ones with it. Bollocks to continuity.

That cover with the cops shooting at him looks fantastically Golden Age. My guess is that he’s not even flying, but jumping. That’s one fun thing from the earliest Superman stories: Superman as an urban legend who tangles with the cops on a regular basis.

I have my fingers crossed that they’ll truly go back to those stories, which would work fine with Morrison’s social bent and as a counterpoint to Batman Inc. “Grounded Superman” worked fine in those stories. They’re definitely for children, but they’re tremendously exciting as a snapshot of American populism in the late 1930s.

I mean the stories where Superman deposits fatcat arms dealers in the middle of war zones, smashes an entire factory of dangerously unsafe cars, swindles investment-dealing crooks into the poorhouse with his own super-con, and masquerades as an immigrant worker to teach a mine owner the perils of cutting corners on worker safety – by burying him and his snob friends alive for a night.

I think the world could use that Superman, and I mean yesterday.

I do like the original upbringing for Superman, raised in an orphanage, lifting heavy objects as a toddler in front of kindly, astounded boffins.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Michael Sacal:

The character’s origin shouldn’t be determined by commitee, though, it should be honest to the concept, not based on nostalgia or pandering.

My favourite take on his origin is in the Superman Animated Series of the 90′s – I’m not sure how that show worked from a writing perspective, but from what I know of American tv shows, there was probably a group of people working on it.
That said, I imagine all the writers being in a room working on something for months, rather than having to put it together at a week conference than over the phone – as I imagine comics are – could play into that.
(I can’t help but think that the idea of writer conferences and planning out the beats to a story came to comics via tv… and as they can’t match how tv series are planned exactly, it doesn’t work out quite as well).

T:

But rewriting history to say that Byrne and Wolfman did some courageous thing by giving readers what they needed rather than what they wanted is a romantic rewrite of history. Appealing to the Jim Shooter era Marvel fan was totally a form of pandering, it was just pandering that was well-written,

It’s an odd idea that getting the top Marvel guy, who helped set the companies 80′s standard with X-Men, would be hired on as anything other than a fan pleasing exercise designed to make the book feel Marvel, and sell a ton of copies.
It’s still done today – you spice up your line by stealing the other companies top guys, and letting them run a bit wild.

Let us say that Brian is right in his analysis and that DC went after writers who wanted to separate Lois and Clark… what if instead they had gone after writers who wanted to keep them together?

Just because these set of writers can’t figure out how to tell stories with Lois and Clark married it doesn’t mean that there aren’t writers who cannot do it.

I doubt it would have mattered.
Regardless of who you blame, Superman comic sales have been down for awhile. Yet Smallville, about single Superman, lasted a decade, and there’s going to be a film about Superman coming out, and he’ll be single in that as well.
Even if the writers wanted to do it, I doubt DC would have let them.

T:

based on every interview i’ve read of people who’ve worked at didio’s dc but no longer do, most recent example of dylan horrocks describing his batman war games experience, i’d say the opposite is true. people couldn’t do whatever they wanted in the least.

Maybe it’s changed now he’s got a top job, but we know Geoff Johns didn’t always get his way with what he wanted to do with characters/stories.
If Geoff Johns didn’t have free reign, then I’m not sure if anyone did.
(There could be an exception for Morrison, but he normally works in contained books/storylines, so there’s not as much spill into the rest of the line).

“DC was at its best when run by a woman than it has been since a man took over… odd, isn’t it?”

DC is currently run by a woman.

As a matter of fact, DC’s been run by a woman most of the last three decades, outside of Paul Levitz’s relatively brief time as president.

All right, let’s just take this one step at a time, Brian.

So, for the past two plus years, Clark’s been a pussy and ran away from his responsibilities as a husband to Lois and went and played in Krytpon City and then bummed around pretending to be Jack Kerouac. Got it. Now, Lois being the centered, strong woman she is certainly could tell him it’s over. That’s a reasonable, logical story progression. On the other hand, she could demand he come back and that they go through marriage counseling together, too. Not like marriage counseling isn’t a hot trend in entertainment; it’s all over reality TV. You can’t escape it. Knowing how derivative comics writers are today, I’m amazed they haven’t already done it.

Does he work best ‘disconnected’ from society? Perhaps. But that’s SOCIETY. Not your spouse. Lois doesn’t have to represent society or normalcy, just Clark’s connection to humanity. She is in her own way a ‘super-woman’ just on the strength of who she is herself. That’s why Clark fell for her. But he’s hardly even disconnected from society. He’s too high profile. Still connected to the Justice League. Still has his cousin. Still has a clone ‘half-brother / son” over in the Titans that they’ve never even come close to resolving matters with (and they’re playing that up in the Young Justice cartoon, at least; I have no idea what they’re doing / going to do with it in the comics). He can’t be THAT detatched. “But he has a Fortress of Solitude!” Okay, so he’s got a Man-Cave made out of alien crystalline substance up in the Arctic. Next, Brandon Hanvey does a COMICS CRITICS where Bruce and Clark are arguing over who’s got the better clubhouse. Sheesh. Who gives a damn? That’s no defining element to either character.

Bruce is no loner, either, for that matter. No matter how hard they try to make him out to be. You don’t collect four “sons” (Dick, Damian, Jason and Tim), and three “daughters” (Babs, Steph and Cass), and forge multiple teams outside on your own (Outsiders, Batman Incorporated), and be a member of the best known and ‘sanctioned’ superhero team on the planet, if you’re a lone wolf who likes to be on your own. Duh.

“Regardless of who you blame, Superman comic sales have been down for awhile. Yet Smallville, about single Superman, lasted a decade, and there’s going to be a film about Superman coming out, and he’ll be
single in that as well.”

I’m wondering why “the marriage” is what’s so often blamed for sales declines in an industry where there appears to be minimal market research, where I don’t see a verifiable majority of readers who insist that characters’ marital status is what determines whether or not they’ll read about a character. (Small Internet minorities on either side of the issue hardly matter as more than anecdotal data.) After all, there have also been Superman films where he’s single that did poorly, as well as plenty of single-Superman Elseworlds and various tie-in comics that did badly. He’s single in all of those. And there have been times when a married Superman sold quite well indeed by then-contemporary market standards. Honestly, the most credible reality to me is that Superman as a character is typically a hard sell in most markets.

Smallville is an anomaly: it used a template borrowed from elsewhere, being much more a supernatural teen drama than a straight superhero adaptation. Its protagonist wasn’t an adult who knew his role and his mission, but a young adult stumbling his way towards it; the show declined and ended once the stumbling was over and the hero’s journey was complete. In order to tell that story, Smallville necessarily, it stripped or radically altered away the bulk of the basic plot elements and visual markers of Superman as a multi-media character. People didn’t like it because Superman was single instead of married, they liked it because he *wasn’t yet Superman* instead of being a fully-matured costumed superhero.

It’s as much an argument for removing the costumes entirely or de-aging the character to high school as it is for dissolving the marriage. That’s why dissolving the marriage of Spider-Man didn’t end up having much long-term sales impact, and why dissolving the Super-marriage probably won’t either. It’s hardly as if lots of people wander around saying “I’d like that character if he weren’t *shudder* married.” Marrying off the hero is at best symptom of the deeper problem and dissolving the marriages is usually a red herring seized on by fans and pros who share a favored, agenda-driven analysis. It’s mostly people who objected to the original marriage story, some 20 or 15 years prior; in other words, it’s not young non-readers who care about breaking up super-marriages. Teenagers don’t analyze twenty-year-old creative decisions every time they make a purchase or put time into watching a TV show.

I think the key is that teenagers are less concerned with marriage per se and more with having teenaged protagonists in general, with a degree of disdain for the most traditional superhero trappings, and most importantly with a rejection of the 22-page comics format and the DM system in favor of digest-style collections and multi-genre, multi-feature anthologies for serial publication. DC’s digital initiative seems to me like a much stronger initiative for bringing back a wider audience in that it’s at least copying a sales method with a good track record in other media rather than sticking by the aging DM system.

What people want to read is the progress of the young hero, with a definite ending in the nebulous future where the protagonist comes into his/her own. The manga and anime series that do the best — Naruto and One Piece currently, and earlier things like Pokemon and Dragon Ball — are very much about the hero’s journey, not the finished product. Ash never wins the tourney, Monkey’s still on his first quest, and Goku was intended to be killed off once he made Super-Saiyan. When he wasn’t, the series shifted focus to Trunks and Gohan so it could tell a new hero’s journey story. What adolescent and young adult readers respond to now is superhero bildungsroman.

Superhero bildungsroman is about a lot more than being single or lacking the costume or having a whine now and again. Ultimate Spider-Man has been a book that understands this, and has therefore been the most successful of the youthified revamps sweeping the superhero genre in recent years. Earlier, Kyle Rayner’s initial hook was that he’d just gotten this ring, and been thrust into the big leagues; once he figured it all out and started sounding like every other superhero, his sales declined and Hal Jordan came back because Kyle had already grown into a version of him anyway.

But there’s licensing deals and closed-narrative films and so much else to think of. What we get, then, are half-solutions: you can’t de-age Superman or Spider-Man, so you dissolve their marriages to “youngify” them or you launch an “Ultimate line” that eventually matures most of the characters right back into the same unappealingly “finished’ state. Meanwhile, the writers don’t seem to be able to write convincingly adult characters, instead giving us the sight of costumed grownup superpeople who pine and moan as if they were foolish teenagers. And guess what: teens and young adults don’t want to imagine themselves at 30 with the same problems they have at 15 or 21. Thy don’t want their superheroes to be arrested development cases — Come on! — but rather to be int he process of developing as people.

Interestingly, there was another solution in the past that involved treating the adult characters as model adults and giving them younger supporting cast members — initially dodgy kid sidekicks, but later just civilian or slightly older junior superhero characters. This eventually became what we have now among successful teen-oriented superfictions: adult mentors and friends to younger protagonists.

The adult heroic characters got to play the part of aspirational figures who had already made and learned from their mistakes, while the younger characters got to be the main characters and the audience identification figures. Giles on Buffy, Ma and Pa Kent on Smallville, and the revamped Aunt May in Ultimate Spider-Man are all great examples. You don’t fix the problem by making your adult heroes less mature or less stable, you do it by shifting focus entirely…or by finding a way to make the badass grownups cool for being badass grownups, a challenge no one seems willing to accept.

Lots of interesting idea. I’m not going to weigh in on all of them, and just say that I’m fan of the Super-marriage (as I am the Spider-marriage).

I’ll freely admit those affinities may be born of the time that I came of comics reading age (mainly the 90s while devouring back issues from the 80s) but I also, in general, like the idea of characters growing and evolving (albeit slowly) over time. Over several decades Peter Parker grew up and getting married seemed like a natural evolution of the character. Ditto Lois and Clark, whose relationship reached a point where marriage seemed like the logical next step.

More generally, the more I hear about DC’s “relaunch” the more dubious I am about it. It sounds more and more like the hodgepodge approach that DC used following the first Crisis, as Lorendiac outlined, and I’m worried the entire endeavor is going to come out muddled and confusing, which, putting aside whether you like the character changes or not, seems to be exactly the kind of thing that would scare away potential new readers, thus undermining the entire endeavor.

For me, I just wonder what is to be gained by having all of DC’s supposed male role models be swingin’ bachelors without responsibilities to equal partners in their lives.

I know, of course: money is to be gained, paid by people who don’t want to be told that this is an aspect of heroism. For all the focus on responsibility, right now, the safe money seems to be in superheroes who operate under fantasies of complete personal autonomy.

“Yet Smallville, about single Superman, lasted a decade, and there’s going to be a film about Superman coming out, and he’ll be single in that as well.”

As someone who sat through all ten awe-inspiring seasons (like the train wreck I couldn’t stop watching), Clark was hardly ever single in Smallville. Either he was with Lois or Lana the whole time, and he was married for a short time to a crazy, superpowered woman. Frankly, even the writers eventually realized how stupid it was to have a guy always be on scene the whole time when crap went down and then run off without anyone having a clue, so by the end of the show everyone knew who he was and was actively helping the Justice League.

And that’s the whole problem here.

You can press the reboot switch, and you can stick him with someone other than Lois (which is what they’ll do because it “rocks” the status quo and they’ll be coy and play the “Will he ever get back with Lois?” card), but you run into the same issues they face now…you simply erase them for a short time. Having a significant other of some kind is probably necessary for storytelling; you have to have him learn about humanity somehow, otherwise why bother with this? But by doing that, you run into the same “save Lois” stories that have been a part of the continuity forever…and you have to advance the relationship or else it gets stale/annoying to the reader if there’s a relationship with no pay off (Seriously, how many people here are excited by a potential 10-20-30-40 years of Supes and his significant other, whoever it is, simply dating with no advancement or change in that status quo?). Of course, he can dump her…but that’s hard to see them do that given the character, especially if he winds up with Lois.

That works in Batman and Green Lantern because Batman and Green can drop women because that’s what they do and what they’ve done. Would they make Superman that character? It seems out of place to do that.

And if they stick him with no one, you essentially have the Martian Manhunter: an alien who is trying to learn about humanity from a distance but who saves them regularly because it’s “the right thing to do”. Which again requires me to ask why do that?

The whole thing seems forced. I get the industry is struggling and this helps sales, but I don’t see any way to go with it that doesn’t bring us back to where they started. It was better to just let it lie and not draw attention to the marriage if they didn’t want to.

“The only thing that really disappoints me in a big way with this relaunch is losing Oracle so Barbara Gordon can be Batgirl again. ”

Somehow I missed this in the reboot. I’m sure that there are others who have expressed some outrage over this, so I’ll save mine, but that is disappointing…extremely disappointing (though infinitely more disappointing would be them crippling her again so that she can go back to being Oracle).

So what’s next? Matt Murdock being blind is stupid, so he gets Lasik to make it more real?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Smokescreen:

As someone who sat through all ten awe-inspiring seasons (like the train wreck I couldn’t stop watching), Clark was hardly ever single in Smallville

I honestly wouldn’t know as I’ve not watched a full episode – I’ve tried, but it wasn’t for me – but all the ads always seemed to push the ‘will they/won’t they’ angle to every relationship.

So what’s next? Matt Murdock being blind is stupid, so he gets Lasik to make it more real?

That’s not really the equivalent – all they are doing is undoing changes to the character, not undoing who the character was when they first appeared.

It’s one of the moves they are making not for fans, but for the potential new reader – Barbara Gordon is the model/starting point for Batgirl in almost every non-comic spin off they do, so they are putting her back in so someone who saw the 60′s show, or the 90′s animated series, or Batman And Robin isn’t left in the dark when they pick up the book.

Jason Barnett

July 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

if DC is really courting 18-35 year olds then dropping the relationship between Clark and Lois in ridiculous. Superman the Movie is 32 years old and since then there hasn’t been anyone else but Lois except for annoying “will they? Won’t they?” scenarios and love triangles.

“I honestly wouldn’t know as I’ve not watched a full episode – I’ve tried, but it wasn’t for me – but all the ads always seemed to push the ‘will they/won’t they’ angle to every relationship.”

To be fair, they did that a lot, but he was usually directly tied to someone as actively in the relatiionship or having just broken up. The last season was all about him being engaged to Lois and planning to be married (which they show does happen in an episode).

Also, it really wasn’t my cup of tea either past season 4…but it seriously was so over the top ridiculous that I felt compelled to watch it. Doomsday moonlighted as a human medic; they had every kryptonite one could think of, including wish fulfillment kryptonite; the series ended with Lex Luthor back from the dead only to have his entire memory of the series wiped by his sister with a special chemical right before Clark fights Darkseid, who comes to Earth and decides to bond with Lex’s Dad. And this is only scratching the surface, not even including that he fought his entire rogue’s gallery before he was ever calling himself Superman (though I give them props for the Zod story they did in season 9; possibly their best series arc).

Eh…that was me right above as anonymous…somehow I forgot to sign it with my user name.

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