AHC: Prevent the "dark age of comic books"

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Hadley, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. Hadley Well-Known Member

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    How would you make it so that comic books do not devolve into the ultra grim and dark, giant gun toting sociopath comics of the early to mid-90s? If it requires butterflying away watchmen, dark knight returns, and image then so be it.
     
  2. Geon Well-Known Member

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    Start With Watchmen

    I probably will have the Watchmen creators howling at me but here goes. To prevent the darker age of comics in the 90's I would start with toning down the Watchmen.

    There are ways to do this without destroying the "gritty" feel of things. Examples: Have Dr. Manhattan destroy the nuclear missiles after launch, Ozymandias then makes it clear the Watchmen will not allow the world to be destroyed by either side. He also offers the opportunity to world leaders to meet at his Antarctic base to discuss the grievances that have triggered the war. This is just one suggestion. I would like to hear others.

    Can we keep Watchmen good without making it Saturday Morning silly? I think the answer is yes.

    Geon
     
  3. Kalvan Well-Known Member

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    To prevent the "Dark Age" of American superhero comic books, there are two methods you can use:

    1: Frederic Wertham is confronted during the congressional hearings by appropriate counterarguements to his claims, and is forced to choose between admitting Seduction of the Innocent is a genuine case of making it up as he goes along, or else committing provable perjury to Congress. No Comics Code, ergo no cause to rebel against it and push the boundaries.

    2: The "DC Implosion" happenes 1n 1969, with Batman and Detective Comics among its casualties, before it can be returned to the relative seriousness of its '40s arcs under Dick Sprang by Denny O'Neill. Alan Moore, John Byrne, and Chris Claremont are denied work visas. Frank Miller becomes the chief cartoonist for The American Mercury, launching it back into bestsellerdom, if not actual respectability. Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Erik Larson, and Mike Deodato stick to the underground scene. In spite of all of Scott McCloud's efforts otherwise, comics are still treated as kiddy fare in America.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  4. Blackfox5 Well-Known Member

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    Jim Shooter succeeds in purchasing Marvel Comics with his investment partners. He resumes his job as Editor-In-Chief or puts in a trusted associate to do that while he concentrates on being Publisher.

    There was very little evidence of the "Dark Age" excesses in either Valiant or Defiant, so I expect they will be prevented. Of course, we don't get Shooter's run on Valiant, and any Shooter controlled Marvel will have certain talent leave or never come back (John Byrne is likely to stay at DC if Shooter exercises any editorial control at Marvel), but the quality level of the Shooter era (1978-1987) is likely to remain.

    There may be some Dark Age aspects that show up in Marvel, but not much. Without that, I don't expect DC to do anything. If Image still forms we may see more, but it will have much less effect as long as Shooter owns Marvel.
     
  5. Andrew T Kick 'em when they're up!

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    I don't have an answer; I just want to point out that this happened with -- of all things! -- Transformers in the 90s. Here's heroic Autobot Sideswipe, for example, heroically shooting the crap out of some unarmed innocent bystanders. Note that his automatic laser guns require a bandolier, because hey, Rob Liefeld is putting those things on everyone these days, isn't he?
     
  6. Hadley Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if storylines like "Inferno" (Arguably the first truly "dark" marvel event) or "Acts of Vengeance" would still happen under shooter, and what they would be like. At least we know that "What If" wouldnt become "Everyone dies!" (i was a big fan of that book, but the 90s revival was so grim it was ridiculous)
     
  7. Brady Kj Well-Known Member

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    Make some very successful comedies. Of course, popular comedies are harder than popular "serious" crap. People seem to like anything where the hero is an psychopath and an ass, no matter how poorly done it is. But that's possibly the solution right there. A silly, light-hearted comic about a superhero who's an ass. It doesn't even have to be good.
     
  8. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    So, Super-House?:p Trying to repair the damage to his leg, he injects himself with the blood of a radioactive wombat...:p

    One concern I have about Shooter owning Marvel: what happens to Jean? Do we end up with her dead?:eek: And resurrected?:mad:
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
  9. JamesHunter Well-Known Member

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    She may stay dead, which imho is not the worst thing, sure I like the character but her return started the whole revolving door of resurections, which never seem to help.

    Also it torpedoed clairmonts maddie pryor storyline, which led into inferno.
     
  10. phx1138 Bocagiste troll

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    Jean's death shocked me like nothing before or since. Once she was dead, tho, I'd rather she stayed dead than had that cheap, exploitative resurrection story.

    Not to say they couldn't have done a retcon, if it had occurred to anybody at the time: just send Kitty back to the diner, where she first learns who the X-Men are, just before the Hellfire Club snatch.:cool:

    Of course, if Claremont isn't hired, good chance the whole Phoenix Saga never happens to begin with.:eek::( And we're still stuck with Jean being a weenie.:( And with those stupid dotted lines.:eek:
     
  11. Sicarius yeeeeehaw

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    I think the Watchmen creators would be the first to agree with you that it, in large part, inspired the worst of the Dark Age. Moore has complained repeatedly that the form of Watchmen was ripped off widely, without any of the commentary or thoughtful content.
    The above being said, at this point we still have a Watchmen which features, among other things, a rapist superhero that works for the government and who murdered a woman carrying his child. And a psychopathic hero who chains a guy inside a burning building with a hacksaw, after said hero finds the guy fed a child to dogs. Watchmen is a dark comic. That's the point. Anyway, your changes would basically moot the story - without Ozymandias's false flag alien attack, and the Comedian witnessing its preparation, there's no murder of the Comedian, and no story. No Watchmen.


    How about this: Dick Giordano takes Dennis O'Neil with him when he leaves DC in the early 70s, which aborts O'Neil's dark Batman run. Later in the 70s, DC hires the up and comer Mike Gold as an editor. He likes the job, but finds himself repeatedly prevented from going in the direction he wants. He works at Marvel for awhile, but that doesn't work out either, and he ultimately turns fulltime to his laudable political efforts and essay writing. No Mike, no First Comics. No American Flagg!, Grimjack, Nexus, Badger, or Dreadstar. After the DC Implosion, Jenette Kahn is fired, and replaced with a corporate suit. One who refuses to offer royalties to creators (no New Teen Titans, no Wolfman and Perez at DC, no Crisis on Infinite Earths). One who thinks American readers want to read American writers (no Swamp Thing, no Watchmen, no Hellblazer, no Black Orchid, no Sandman, no Animal Man, no Shade, the Changing Man, no Doom Patrol...). Creator owned comics rights are much weaker in this TL, so DC sees no reason to try and lure Frank Miller with Ronin (no Dark Knight Returns).

    With less of a creator owned movement within the two major publishers, the dam finally breaks in the late 80s/early 90s with a huge exodus from Marvel to create alt-Image. This comes at exactly the wrong time, as Marvel's parent company is liquidating its assets. Marvel gets purchased at bargain prices by Disney, which launches several TV shows as part of the Disney Channel's transition from premium to cable. Marvel finds itself having to shape its comics to fit the tone of the Disney cartoons, and is further left foundering when it's caught in the Ovitz/Eisner feud. By the mid 1990s, comics are increasingly irrelevant, mired in campy nostalgia and subpar writing, as the new creator-owned studios struggle to find a market in an industry that has lost many of its would-be adult readers. By the turn of the century, the most well known comic related matter is EuroDisney's Spectacular Spider-Man's Swingin' Supercoaster, which killed five people in a 1998 malfunction.
     
  12. Blackfox5 Well-Known Member

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    Jean Grey's death and resurrection both happened when Shooter was Marvel EiC. His subsequent ownership would not change that.
     
  13. Blackfox5 Well-Known Member

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    The massive crossovers at Marvel were originally started by Shooter from Secret Wars II and the Mutant Massacre. I can't remember if the Fall of the Mutants was done while he was still EiC, or if he had been pushed out by then.

    Typically, the crossovers were done by conferences between the Marvel editors who brainstormed ideas, picked one, and then worked with the writers to incorporate them. I suspect these crossovers would still happen under Shooter.

    I associate the Dark Age not so much with dark themes, but with the excesses associated with the Image boys, especially Rob Liefield who popularized heroes carrying oversized guns and excessive violence (and unrealistic anatomy for female characters). While that began with Cable around the time of Inferno, it didn't really take hold until Image was formed, and Marvel and DC tried to adopt itself to that in response.

    Shooter had some very exacting standards on what he expected to see. Given some of the limitations of Liefield and some of the other Image creators as artists, it's possible that Marvel might not hire them until they approved their craft, or had them extensively redraw their art until they achieved certain standards. That might delay the popularity of these artists for several years. And even if they did break free and form Image, Shooter is still unlikely to follow suit, although he may allow one or two darker new characters to be introduced but done "right".

    The main thing allowing the Dark Age was the ending of newstand distribution in favor of the direct market. Only people already buying comics went to those. Ultimately, it prevented new readers from being formed, and tastes exclusively went to long time readers who wanted different things done with the characters. Shooter was enough of a businessman to realize that this was a bad thing. I think he would look for other opportunities to keep books readily accessible, and thus have a need to keep the characters as they are so that they don't turn away new fans.
     
  14. ArKhan ಠ_ಠ dance monkey. dance. ಠ_ಠ

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    I strongly disagree with the term "devolve" that era produced all my favorites. If anything, a better POD would be to prevent the great comic crash of 1996, and thus comics would still be a relevent cultural force. Bitch about the so called "Dark Age" all you want, it was still miles ahead of what came before and after in terms of quality, with the notable exception of anything having to do with Rob Liefeld of course. And the sales where considerably higher then they are now too.
     
  15. Nietzsche Banned

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    This here. People forget that Watchmen wasn't about bad guys winning, it was a good guy doing bad things to, as far as we can tell, save the goddamn world from itself.
     
  16. Gwendolyn Ingolfsson Ordnung des Neuen Templars

    Wasn't the whole "Dark Age" thing sort of a natural result of the Comics Code finally starting to go away? Had there never been a Code to begin with the comic book ecosystem may well have been much better over all in terms of both quality and diversity.*


    *And by "diversity" I mean "not just cape comics."
     
  17. Richter10 Well-Known Member

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    May 18, 2012
    And the graphic novels of Will Eisner? If they get more successful in critical and financial terms, it would not push comics towards more serious (like the DCAU/Marvel Cinematic universe is now) but not necessarily "grimdark" like the Dark Age?
     
  18. Hadley Well-Known Member

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    Actually, without the code there would likely be less or even no superhero comics, as horror and crime comics were much more popular at the time of the comics controversy.
     
  19. unclepatrick Well-Known Member

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    Moore original take on Watchman, feature the Characters from Charlton Comic, with Captain Atom, Blue Beetle and The Question. I suspect that if He was allow to use the Charlton Characters than Watchmen would not have been as dark.
     
  20. unclepatrick Well-Known Member

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    Marvel decides not to let Frank Miller write Daredevil. No Electra Saga.

    So DC does not hire Him to do Ronin

    So He does not do Batman Dark Knight Returns.

    And then No Batman Year One.

    No Sin City.

    Miller remains a Artist.