Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,876
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Grey Gargoyle

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 20,299
Subj: Re: Thank you very much :-)
Posted: Thu May 06, 2021 at 05:51:04 am EDT (Viewed 63 times)
Reply Subj: Thank you very much :-)
Posted: Wed May 05, 2021 at 04:58:43 pm EDT (Viewed 58 times)


      Well, yeah, but "influential" is a quite different animal from "original". Because of their influence on what came after, many fans are unaware that Captain America wasn't the first superpatriot dressed in the Stars and Stripes, and these days many people erroneously believe that Wonder Woman - the most influential Golden Age superheroine - also was the first superheroine. While in reality there were well over two dozen superheroines of various types who came before her, including two Amazon heroines - the pulp heroine The Golden Amazon (1939) and Amazona the Mighty Woman (1940, one comicbook story only). And some of Wonder Woman's creative predecessors are still around these days (e.g. Hawkgirl and the Phantom Lady). But of course the majority has been forgotten because they were created for now-defunct publishers or not revived in the Silver Age...

    Here, we are dealing with the concept of game-changer.
    In my opinion, Superman is the original superhero because he is the game-changer: he is the one character whose influence changed the game.
    Every character before him may have been a superman or a proto-superhero but Superman remains the first.
    Otherwise, you would arrive to the conclusion that the "first superheroes" are French (1910s-1920s: Le Nyctalope, Protéa, Fascinax, Judex, Sâr Dubnotal, Félifax). Actually, they are not. They are only precursors, like Mandrake & the Phantom.
    That's what I was trying to explain.

In my opinion, the first superheroes ARE French (unless someone comes up with even earlier examples from other countries), and the Nyctalope may have been the first one. It is just that most historians of the superhero genre are Americans and comicbook historians (many of the latter want to claim that the superhero genre originated in comicbooks, therefore earlier superheroes who appeared in pulps, newspapers etc. weren't real superheroes. Something I consider an example of the "No True Scotsman Fallacy"(1)

The fact that these early French superheroes had little or no direct influence on the evolution of the genre in America is immaterial to me. It can happen that the same idea is developed independently by different people and different cultures (for instance, the Mayas came up with the concept of Zero independently from e.g. ancient (subcontinental) Indian mathematicians, Leibniz developed infinitesimal calculus independently from Newton). But what is clear is that American superheroes are heavily indebted to American pulps, among other things (Batman is Zorro transposed into a contemporary big-city environment, and the plot of his first comicbook story was swiped from a (fairly recent) Shadow pulp story). Conversely, was Batman inspired or modeled on Superman in any significant way? Yet if you believe the conventional history of the genre, every superhero was somehow like Superman...

The thing is that with the conventional histories of the genre, you get theories such as that supervillains were created to give superheroes someone to fight against besides street-level hoodlums. But supervillains had been around even longer than superheroes - I would point e. g. to Jules Verne's Captain Nemo(2) and Robur the Conqueror (aka the Master of the World), the British Spring-Heeled Jack and H.G. Wells's Invisible Man. In France and Italy you had this developement that superheroes fell out of fashion (and later never became more than a niche genre), but supervillains (notably Fantômas and Diabolik) continued to go strong.

(1) You also get this elsewhere. For instance, a lot of people like to claim that "The Tale of Genji" (early 11th century AD) is the world's first novel. But that is only "true" if you define a novel in a way that excludes ancient Greek and Roman novels such as the "Metamorphoses" (also known as "The Golden Ass") by Apuleius (late 2nd century AD, best known for its story-within-a-story, Amor and Psyche). I've even seen some Jane Austen fangirl seriously claim that Austen was the world's first real novelist, on the rationale that e.g. "Don Quijote", "Robinson Crusoe", "Gulliver's Travels", "La nouvelle Heloise", "Tom Jones", and "The Sorrows of Young Werther" weren't "true" novels.

(2) Unless you want to consider him an anti-imperialist (anti-)hero.

    Einstein is forever associated with E=mc2 even though it was Poincaré who had discovered the mathematical formula because it was Einstein who understood the importance of the formula and who developped the theory behind. He changed the game. Poincaré is only a precursor.

Every scientist and mathematician is a precursor to the ones who come later. Newton (who also can be considered an important precursor to Einstein) has this famous quote about standing on the shoulders of giants. And "E = mc^2" is part of the popular mostly because it is easy to remember (merely three letters and a cipher, that's even simpler than Newton's F = G m1 m2 / r^2) even for scientific laypersons and others who find the Theory of Relativity hard to understand and impossible to summarize.

    In some cases, it may be unfair. Maybe, they were clowns who happen to be also killers in fiction before the Joker existed but they are nearly forgotten. The Joker (and It) changed the game thanks to his popularity.

That does not make him original or less of a knock-off from previous killer clowns and Hugo's The Man Who Laughs (in his Conrad Veidt incarnation). But then, maybe I'm too cynical because I detest the Killer Clown trope. (Thanks a heap, Bill Finger and Stephen King, for spoiling clowns for generations). I see its spread as something to be deplored, not celebrated, and more akin to the way the "grim and gritty" style spread in the 1990s. (The latter is interesting, by the way, because it was pushed not by the creation of new characters, but by the reimagination of old ones in "Watchmen"(3) and "Dark Knight Returns").

(3) "Watchmen" was a game-changer for the superhero genre, yet its characters are the old Charlton superheroes with the serial numbers filed off.

    By the way, you reminded me Miss Fury. I bought the TPB of the comic strip a few years ago (very good drawings but the stories are a bit boring. That's often the problem with comic strips).
    Guess what? I suddenly remembered tonight that her catsuit was cursed with bad luck. The character is also named Black Fury in some stories. And, even if Timely Comics published some stories, the character was owned by Tarpé Mills. So even this angle had been used before.

    And, contrary to Catwoman, I don't believe that Black Cat is a game-changer.

That's no skin off my nose because I don't see Catwoman as a game-changer in the first place. I only see her as inspiring Black Cat, and even that is debatable. Catwoman is mostly notable for welding some pre-existing tropes together - cat theme, burglar, skin-tight suit (but that only since 1966) villainous or morally ambiguous character falling in love with the protagonist, seductress - but that does not mean that every character who also displays one or a few of these tropes is necessarily based on her.

Good catch!


      Luck powers seem to have been a thing in the 1980s. Ann Nocenti then created Longshot, who has good-luck powers, and he eventually became an X-Man.

    I was such a fan of Arthur Adams back in the 1990s. I didn't understand what was the point of this comic book but the art was so good.
    I was a fan of Nocenti on Daredevil but Longshot? I had no idea what it was about. I even had the feeling that it was contradictory with what happened to Longshot in X-Men, or not, or perhaps, or I don't understand the story at all.
    For example, Ricochet Rita being Spiral? I couldn't say if it was a retcon or if it had been planned from the beginning or even who had this idea to begin with?

The general consensus seems to be that that was an element that was only added after Chris Claremont decided to put Longshot, Mojo, and Spiral into the X-Men cast.



      "I really didn't want to see an origin for Storm, quite frankly. I really wanted everybody not to know who she is, where she came from. I was always of the opinion that Storm should be ageless. You could never tell whether she was fifteen or two hundred or a thousand years old. [...] There was a piece of copy in the first story that Len wrote, "Her eyes are blue and older than time," and I liked that. I thought we should never elaborate beyond that. And now she's just a person. I kind of enjoyed the idea that - well, she's not a goddess... but she might be, you know. Well, it's too late to do any of that now."

    Thank you very much. \:\-\) \:\-\) \:\-\)

You're welcome. It was fun looking that up and, in the process, correcting my faulty memories.

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