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James Woodcock
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Posted: 11 July 2018 at 11:28pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Reading through a list of this week’s comics I came across a description of Red Hood. This got me thinking about how Jason Todd had been aged which then got me thinking about aging characters in general.

I ask this question - what’s the point?
Initially, a writer may say ‘It stirs the pot, allows them to take the character to new places” but does it? Does it really?

Because from looking @ Jason Todd, what it seems to have done is just create a new, different status quo for that character which then created a need to create yet another, new character, to replace the one who has just been aged.

Bar the bit of Red Hood actually being Jason Todd, is there any reason why that character, post the actual Hush story, needs to be Jason Todd? If not, why make him Jason Todd & age that character to an adult?

It just makes no sense to me @ all.

Full disclosure - I have not read Hush, nor have I read Red Hood.


Edited by James Woodcock on 11 July 2018 at 11:29pm
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 12:22am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Dick Grayson aged. Jason Todd (post revival) aged. But Batman remains pretty much the same age. That's the problem right there. 

There's no upside to aging characters, in my opinion. 
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Andy Mokler
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 12:39am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I agree that aging comic book characters is basically wrong.  I'm hesitant to say that whatever age a character is introduced should be what age that character forever remains, but I can't think of any examples that contradict the idea.

The primary reasons for aging comic characters seems to be either so the reader and character can age together or for romantic/sexual possibilities in stories.  Neither really benefit the characters.

Is there a term for resetting things to the status quo when a story is done?  Anyway, aging characters crosses that line.  Along a similar vein and with Kitty Pryde/Colossus and Batman/Catwoman wedding issues lately I tried to think of a wedding of comic characters that actually improved things.  The only possibility I could come up with was Reed and Sue but I don't recall if their wedding was a flashback or if they were already married when they were introduced as characters.

I wonder if evolve and age are being confused and misused when writers age characters?  
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 1:09am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Reed & Sue we’re not married when they were introduced & remain one of the few examples where that works. Franklin though presents a problem. 
I can’t help thinking that aging a character tends to be because a writer wants to tell a story with that character that could be told using a different character but might not get as much publicity. 

But the writer never thinks to ask or answer the question ‘What next’?
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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 2:49am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Aging characters is a problem. 

In the original Who's Who # 10 DC published there was a letter written asking (and I quote): 

"Another idea is establishing the birthdays and ages of all of your characters."

Len Wein responded:

"We are reluctant to establish birth dates and ages for our heroes and villains and only have a few definitive birth dates. Like limiting the powers by giving too much information, we feel this too will limit our characters."
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 5:45am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Because from looking @ Jason Todd, what it seems to have done is just create a new, different status quo for that character which then created a need to create yet another, new character, to replace the one who has just been aged.

——-

There are all sorts of things wrong with the way Jason Todd/Red Hood is handled, but what you say here does not reflect what happened. He was killed off and replaced with Tim Drake.
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 5:47am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Which I guess is a variation on the theme. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:47am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

The Old Guard understood. All comics take place NOW. Read issues from the Thirties, the Forties, the Fifties, etc. The captions are in the Present Tense.

Occasionally, character in comics and strips have aged. GASOLINE ALLEY is a prime example. Terry grew up in ...AND THE PIRATES. Cookie and Alexander Bumstead went from tots to teens, and beyond (wile Alexander's friend Elmo remained locked in childhood).

When the "Marvel Age" started, the characters aged. Johnny Storm and Peter Parker both went from high school to college, for instance. But most characters, being adults, needed to show no overt signs of aging. In fact. one can feel Stan and Jack steadily applying the brakes in FANTASTIC FOUR. They started at a company that was constantly on the edge of dissolving. After a few years, they realized they were going to be around for a while. One of the earliest indicators of their changing attitude was when Franklin was shipped off to Whisper Hill, to be taken care of by Agatha Harkness. A handy way to get rid of a character who HAD to "age" without actually killing him.

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before he was back, and aging. When I took over the book I arbitrarily turned him back to 4 years old, and kept him there for the next 5 years.

It seems, tho, that many, pros and fans alike, simply cannot do the math. They ignore the fact that Dick Grayson going from 12 to 25 means Bruce Wayne has aged the same amount. And then Wally West ages beyond that. And so on.

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Greg McPhee
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 10:00am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Weird that fans need aging or ages in the comics, but can probably accept the here and now scenario that a programme like "The Simpsons" has served up for nearly 30 years.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 10:24am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The fans who want the characters to age are the ones who have stuck around too long. They can't embrace the most basic tropes, and want the characters to reflect their own changing conditions.
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Drew Spence
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 12:41pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The fans who want the characters to age are the ones who have stuck around too long.
Wow, that's harsh/ Man, you don't pull punches. lol

I think aging should be done with flash-forwards or one-shot stories that may or may not happen in the future. I like possible futures.

I think there should always be a version that has ...classic-style adventures and also side-properties that twist and bend the foundational elements.

I think, for instance, Clark and Lois can stay the same, but maybe the news/media world modernizes......

I'm even for time standing still. A classic series told in the SAME TIME they started, still to this day. Like imagine, it was still the 70s when....

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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 12:55pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply


 QUOTE:
There's no upside to aging characters, in my opinion.


As much as I enjoyed the Spider-Man stories where Peter is in college, I don't
think he should have ever aged out of high school. Kid Flash should still be a
kid. Dick Grayson should have never grown up to become Nightwing.

*Character aging in INVINCIBLE works because the creator stayed with the
book from start to finish, and had a clear ending for the series in mind for quite
a while.
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Karl Wiebe
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:06pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

This is a great topic -- I never really thought about unneccessary it is to age characters (from a writing standpoint).  I like the idea of "Metropolis" or "Gotham" because it is NYC without really being NYC.  So if NYC buildings, landmarks, mayors change in real life --it is an easy sell to keep Metropolis "timeless".  Not saing fans SHOULD be given an easy out, but I can see the appal of timelessness in the stories.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 July 2018 at 7:23pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I think, for instance, Clark and Lois can stay the same, but maybe the news/media world modernizes......

I'm even for time standing still. A classic series told in the SAME TIME they started, still to this day. Like imagine, it was still the 70s when...

•••

So close!

For decades, the world changed, but the characters didn't. And, since comicbook readers, on average, lasted about five years, they very rarely noticed. If Superman was 29, he was always 29.

Best model, but unacceptable to selfish fans. They wanted "their" characters to age, like them. Leave school. Get married. Get a kid and a mortgage. That was REALISTIC! All the while donning costumes to use super powers to fight gangsters and aliens.

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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 1:27pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Curt Swan's Superman never looked 29. JB's did. José Luis García-López's did, but López was never the regular artist on ACTION COMICS or SUPERMAN.

So I don't know where the "Superman is eternally 29" trope came from. 
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John Popa
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 1:41pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

My first exposure to Superman as a kid was the Superfriends cartoon and the George Reeves show. I always assumed Superman was supposed to be 40'ish.
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Andy Mokler
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 2:00pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

The fans who want the characters to age are the ones who have stuck around too long. They can't embrace the most basic tropes, and want the characters to reflect their own changing conditions.
=========================================================
I suppose it's a reflection of me but I find it much more comforting and enjoyable that the fictional characters I care about to stay the same.  Would it be considered ironic that cartoons and comics seem so closely related but the former seems to "get" keeping the characters true to themselves while the latter seems to go out of it's way to change them at every opportunity and in almost every way imaginable?
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Adam Schulman
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Posted: 13 July 2018 at 5:01pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

Just did some research. Found some letters columns from the early '60s in issues of SUPERMAN. The editor or assistant editor said that Superman was in his early '30s. 

In generaly I think the persistent aging of characters has been a bad thing -- assuming math works in the DC Multiverse like it does here, Superman and Batman and other founding Justice Leaguers must be in their 40s, despite being drawn younger than that. (Yeah, many died and came back, Batman took a dip in the Lazarus pit, there are other excuses, but I don't remember Lois Lane going through the same experience.)

That said, I preferred a Teen Titans made up of 18-year olds only because I never liked Robin as a brightly-colored 12 year old. "Robin the Boy Target." And yes, Dick should've remained Robin and never become Nightwing. Intellectually I get this, despite the fact that I really like Tim Drake. (He's smarter than Dick. He might be smarter than Batman.) 
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