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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 October 2017 at 7:15pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

When Superman met Spider-Man, they wanted to know why it hadn't happened a hundred times before.

***

I've heard that question asked a few times.

Bizarre. Don't we all meet someone for the first time? My best friend is called Paul. There had to be a first time I met him, right? I feel like I'm missing some point that I have not yet been able to fathom.

I really don't know why editors would have even considered letting fan concerns dictate such things.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 13 October 2017 at 10:10pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

In the case of Roy Thomas, the editor of What If?, I would guess that his concerns largely echo those of the fans. He does take tremendous pride, after all, in his place amongst that community and raised questions of this nature back when he was a fan. He's also is one of those continuity-conscious fix-it men rushing towards every opportunity to tie this event to that one, and this character to another. 

After all, as Dick Grayson, Robin HAS TO be the cousin of Chuck Grayson, Robotman Bob Crane's lab assistant, right? I mean, right? And Sandra Knight, the buxom late-40's queen of the Fox Features headlight covers HAS TO be the cousin of Ted Knight, All-American Comics' star and JSA member. Just HAS TO! I mean, how is that NOT FUN?? That's where all the fun in this stuff is, right? Right? Oh, man, if only DC had the rights to Hogan's Heroes and the Mary Tyler Moore Show... Now THAT would be a blast!!

And hey, if Thomas paid no attention to fan concerns or fan publications, he'd never have seen Mark Gruenwald's Omniverse and started What If? in the first place.


Edited by Brian Hague on 13 October 2017 at 11:14pm
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Brian Miller
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 5:08am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Mark Gruenwald’s Omniverse?
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 5:40am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

A fanzine by Mark Gruenwald, Brian. You can find a bit of information via Google about it. There's a discussion about it on a couple of forums. 




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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 6:14am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I don't want to criticize creative people (those mentioned) who, on their worst days, have one hundred times the creative abilities I could muster on my best day. I just don't like where this all headed.
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Lars Sandmark
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 6:29am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

I do like that Omniverse cover. The artist really captured the distinct art styles of the different 'eras'.
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 11:08am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

FWIW, "Avengers Forever" has a reference to "Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man" as well... one of the time portals shows Doc Ock giving a piggy-back ride to a certain bald headed evil archvillain.

Sometimes, I think some of these crossovers or origins can be fun... but it can be just as much fun to NOT have any link. Dick Grayson and Paul Grayson are related? Yeah, that's kinda fun. Superman is NOT related to Two-Face (on Earth-2)? That's kinda fun too. (FUN TRIVIA: Two-Face of Earth-2 is Harvey Kent. Um... nah, I guess that's not all that fun, is it?)

But I don't like the slavish adherence to the idea. Why didn't the Avengers show up when Galactus first appeared? Where were The Fantastic Four when the Serpent Society was in the process of taking over the country? Why didn't Spider-Man show up at Superman's funeral when they're on the same Earth? JUST. BECAUSE.

I find it enjoyable when some of these occur... but when it gets ham handed and forced, then it's not so good.

COROLLARY: A friend of mine had the issue of Omniverse, and the second I saw it, I saw the questions inherent... and the Earth-1/Earth-2 explanation only goes so far. Thirty-odd years later, I think Kurt Busiek may have remembered and used it for his Final Crisis mini, "Legion of Three Worlds." At least, that's the first thing that I thought of.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 11:17am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

But I don't like the slavish adherence to the idea. Why didn't the Avengers show up when Galactus first appeared? Where were The Fantastic Four when the Serpent Society was in the process of taking over the country? Why didn't Spider-Man show up at Superman's funeral when they're on the same Earth? JUST. BECAUSE.

***

The problem, Eric, is that lack of logic from fans.

Why didn't Superman mention Spider-Man previously? Well, how do we know he didn't (off-panel)? Maybe, unseen to our eyes, Clark and Lois talked about that "web-slinger in New York" whilst relaxing in the canteen at the Daily Planet. Maybe after Spider-Man defeated the Sinister Six (the 60s tale), and after the last panel we saw in that issue, Parker and Mary Jane discussed that "man of steel from Metropolis".

We don't see EVERY part of a character's life. We don't see Bruce Wayne on the toilet; we don't see Peter Parker having a shower (he couldn't, anyway, because spiders cannot get out of the bath); and we don't see that many instances of Clark Kent sitting having breakfast in his apartment. We see a fraction of their lives, mainly the exciting parts.

Perhaps, off-panel, Superman has mentioned Spider-Man many times. And vice versa. As for funerals, well maybe Peter Parker was there, as incognito as possible. Only so much art one can fit into a panel, perhaps he and Steve Rogers showed up unassumingly.

Just believe, I say.

As for "Where were the Avengers when Galactus invaded?" or "Why isn't Iron Man showing up to stop the Rhino when he's attacking Spider-Man?", well firstly there'd have been no point in having an FF VS Galactus tale if everyone from the Avengers to Santa Claus had shown up; secondly, it's a non-question (at least in the minds of some), but if one really wants to explore it, perhaps they were busy. Maybe they were off-world at the time - and maybe, off-panel, they visited the Baxter Building after returning, with Cap saying to Reed, "Tell me all about this invasion we missed..."

If the questions are asked, and they shouldn't be, there are answers.

Oh, does anyone here know Paul, my friend? My best friend? No? Well, he exists. Why haven't you heard about him before? Why have none of my posts mentioned him or our friendship? Well, like the first Superman/Spider-Man crossover, there has to be a first time for everything. We became acquainted in 2006 whilst working at a tax office. Now you know. Perhaps pedantic comic fans out there can ask why Robbie never mentioned Paul previously. ;-)


Edited by Robbie Parry on 14 October 2017 at 11:19am
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John Byrne
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 11:28am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

The day Mark Gruenwald started working at Marvel was a dark day indeed for the House of Ideas.

We had no way of knowing that, of course. We all just thought Mark was a fun guy with an encyclopedic knowledge of comics plus a few wacky ideas. We could not know that he would slowly rise thru the company to a point where he could implement those ideas.

Mark never embraced Len Wein's famous maxim: The first story you'd do as a fan should be the last story you'd do as a pro.

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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 7:33pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Found the cover of the second issue of Omniverse. Interesting to read Jerry Ordway did some of the art for Omniverse and that Dean Mullaney who would later start Eclipse Comics and Mike Gold who later became the editor of First Comics worked on Omniverse.

 
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 7:38pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

And here's the first cover. I believe that first image featuring this cover that I posted earlier was an ad for this. Nice cover by Peter Poplaski.

 





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John Byrne
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 7:45pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Mark celebrates the very thing -- relentless de-uniquing -- that brought DC to its present sorry state. The same thing he inflicted on Marvel every chance he got.
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 7:50pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Probably explains why he was such a fan of Squadron Supreme, too. Yet more versions of those characters! (Although they existed prior to his use of them.) That and the fact he was basically a DC guy working at Marvel so it was his chance to write the Justice League, albeit a warped version of it where they create their version of a Utopia through rather dubious means. 
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David Miller
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 9:01pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

Gruenwald's influence on Marvel, baleful as it was, came at a serendipitous time, preparing me as a reader when it came time to follow John Byrne to the deblighted Brand Echh. Okay, I don't really remember, but there was an adjustment period as I explored the DC universe.

One thing I respect to this day, which I don't see given a lot of attention, is even as JB fit in immediately as a "DC artist" in whatever ephemeral meaning that conveys, he incorporated bits of Marvel-style storytelling and techniques, such as in the way the Daily Planet staff were developed through their own complicated personal lives, not merely as beneficiaries of rescue attempts or fulcrums of repetitive office drama (I'm being unfair to DC comics, but I was like 12 and my impression was the supporting casts were more like theater backdrops). As I was reading from 1986-1992 I saw the style JB introduced permeate the DC comics I read as much as or arguably more than WATCHMEN's dark 'n' gritty.   
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 14 October 2017 at 11:20pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

I was lucky enough to come across the first and second issues of Omniverse at some point, so they're among the many items locked away in my storage unit. As I recall, Gruenwald posited the "Three Worlds" solution of DC's Earth-2 actually being the characters from the late-40's, early-50's as opposed to the originals because of the many variations that had been introduced into the Earth-2 concept since it's inception, such as Superman continuing to work at the Daily Star under Editor George Taylor for instance. 

Clearly, the originals were still "unaccounted for" in the DC cosmology and Gruenwald thought it best to bring them in to explain who the Super-Sons were and why their parents could legitimately be Superman and Batman although they were obviously not the ones who were starring in the rest of the DC titles at the time. The Super-Sons were a major sticking point for the increasingly continuity-conscious fanbase of that time. The official explanation, similar to something mentioned earlier in this thread, was that we didn't see every moment of our heroes' lives, so the Super-Sons were just something that had been taking place "off-panel" all the while... Which really doesn't explain anything. Superman and Batman have been married, raising teenaged boys all this time and no one thought to mention it until now...?

Gruenwald's "Journal of Fictional Reality" was on the case!


Edited by Brian Hague on 14 October 2017 at 11:22pm
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Eric Kleefeld
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 12:05am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Brian Hague:

 QUOTE:
…and then, sadly, the bordering-on-unprofessional Earth-Prime, where DC staffers could interact with the DC characters.

That Earth debuted in the 1968 story, "The Flash — Fact or Fiction?" written by Cary Bates and drawn by Ross Andru. (And future appearances of Earth-Prime were often written by Bates and/or Elliot S! Maggin.) I read it in a reprint when I was maybe nine or ten years old. And I loved it!

Barry accidentally crossed over to a world where there are no superheroes, and his life is chronicled in a comic book. He then sought out the help of Julius Schwartz, who had Barry hole up in the DC Comics office while he went out to buy a list of materials for Barry to build a cosmic treadmill.


Barry then read through all of his own back issues while Schwartz was gone, in order to figure out how to overcome the menace of the month when he got back to Earth-1. (An alien creature that fed on his heat-protection aura.) And at the end, on that other Earth, Julius Schwartz observed that this adventure, too, will be chronicled in a comic book — but he now knows it's real.

I read this story during the first few years of the post-Crisis era, but it had me thinking about all the fun and magic that the Multiverse made available. But as I ended up thinking about it more over the years, I also came to realize you couldn't think about it too much.
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Shane Matlock
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 12:17am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I loved the DC multiverse but trying to explain it all and make it all fit into a cohesive continuity really sucked all the fun and magic out of it! Even though I was much more of a Marvel fan as a kid, I still loved the Justice League of America comics where they'd team up with the Justice Society. The concept of multiple Earths really appealed to me. 
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 12:45am | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Eric, I've read that one and still don't love the idea of Earth-Prime. No doubt a great deal of that comes from my first encounter with the place being JLA 123-124 wherein Cary Bates writes himself as a power-mad super-villain and the only hope for three worlds is his hapless buddy Eliot S! Maggin who Bates has trapped inside of a word balloon. Just nauseating.

Have you read Superman #411, Eric? If you liked the original Earth-Prime story, you may like that one as well.

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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 8:07am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

(I'm being unfair to DC comics, but I was like 12 and my impression was the supporting casts were more like theater backdrops). 

***

That'd have been my thought, too, although you articulated it better.

I've read a lot of 50s/60s reprints. Good fun tales (you must read the Jimmy Olsen story where he swaps brains with a gorilla!), but as far as the supporting cast are concerned, they are, to use your terminology, akin to theater backdrops.

It's the same with Clark Kent. Around the time Mr Byrne's MOS was released, I had read a lot of 50s/60s Superman tales (black-and-white reprints) and Clark really only seemed to be there to notice something so he could change into Superman. Rarely saw him in his apartment or anything, unless it was to show him witnessing a natural disaster. 

It's one of many reasons I enjoyed MOS, Clark was real to me. It was about the super-action, but I felt I got to know Clark very well, too.
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 9:25am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Robbie, as a backup to Superman stories, and later in Superman Family, was a feature called "The Private Life of Clark Kent." It certainly would have been unusable in the 50s/60s, but in the 70s, it came from a few other stories that gradually depicted more about Clark Kent. They were fun.

It was an issue that happened at Marvel in X-Men* too. As I'm recalling, with the original X-Men and with the second team, there were so many characters and so much story that it was hard to focus on the characters and any backstory/history. Certainly there were elements of it, and for tales with (around) six main characters, it was undoubtedly a major challenge to get a lot of character history in. This situation reminds me of Justice League of America too, where the non-solo heroes (most often Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Red Tornado at the time) had nowhere to highlight their personal lives BUT JLA.

There was nothing to be done for it, of course; if fans found those characters more interesting, then those characters would have had their own books. But it seemed to be a hard issue.

*Desperately trying to undrift back towards the original topic... :)
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Eric Kleefeld
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 12:18pm | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Here was the opening page from "The Flash — Fact or Fiction?" It sucked me right into the fun of playing in fictional worlds, and then asking what we mean by "true" or "false" in that context.

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Doug Centers
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Posted: 15 October 2017 at 12:52pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

That was a fun story, Eric.

I have it in a TPB somewhere.
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