#1 Edited by NetSpiker (296 posts) - - Show Bio

The current Help page is inadequate. It does not have any information about what counts as a character appearance that needs to be credited. All it says is that characters should only be credited if they have a speaking role. This is ridiculous, since some characters never speak at all. It also fails to give a definitive answer about what to do with characters that have alternate version. All it says that characters should not be separated based on universe (there shouldn’t be a separate character page for Ultimate Spider-Man) but there are some exceptions like Superboy-Prime and Maestro. The Help page doesn’t say how different is different enough.

So I’ve decided to write my own Help page to deal with these issues. Maybe if enough of you guys agree with it, we can make it official. This is only the first draft:

 

What counts a character appearance?

  • A character appearing on a cover only counts as an appearance if the cover is not a photo cover. This is because a photo cover is usually just a promotional image from the TV show or movie that the comic is based on. A character appearing on a photo cover might not appear in any comic at all.
  • A character appearing in an advertisement does NOT count as an appearance.
  • A character appearing inside a comic counts as an appearance even if the character only appears in one panel and doesn’t speak. Even if it’s a flashback. Even if the flashback is later revealed to be an exaggeration or a lie.
  • A silhouette of a character does NOT count as an appearance.
  • A statue of a character does NOT count as an appearance.
  • A painting or poster or photograph of a character does NOT count as an appearance.
  • A character’s computer avatar does NOT count as an appearance.
  • A character appearing in a dream or a hallucination counts as an appearance only if the character speaks.
  • A character appearing on a TV or computer screen counts as an appearance if the character has a speech balloon or another character on the same screen has a speech balloon.
  • A character appearing on a TV or computer screen is an appearance if the screen shows characters fighting. Basically, it only counts as an appearance if the image on the screen looks like it’s a video and not a simple photo.
  • If a shapeshifter assumes the appearance of another character, it counts as an appearance for the shapeshifter but does not count as an appearance for the other character.
  • If it's unclear if a certain character is the real character or a shapeshifter in a particular comic, assume that it’s the real character.
  • If one character switches bodies with another character, it is an appearance for the character whose mind is in the body, but not for the other character.
  • If one character possesses another character, it is an appearance for both characters.
  • A character appearing as part of a gallery of floating heads does NOT count as an appearance.
  • Some characters have no physical form, so they appear in comics in the form of a speech balloon with no tail.
  • The Bluewater Comics series “Fame”, “Female Force” and “Political Power” often show actors portraying various movie characters. These are appearances for the actors but not appearances for the movie characters.

 

Does it count as a first appearance if the character was not named?

  • An unnamed character can be identified by reference books that have more than one first appearance for the same character..

For example, The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe lists 4 different First Appearances for Erik Josten, one for each each of his aliases. Superman: The Ultimate Guide To The Man Of Steel says that Jimmy Olsen first appeared as an unnamed office boy in Action Comics #6 and first appeared as a named character in Superman #13.
 
It's easy for a writer to make a mistake  when they're just writing a single issue title for the First Appearance section of a character description. That's why The Marvel Encyclopedia and The DC Comics Encyclopedia are littered with mistakes. But reference books that list multiple first appearances for each character require a high level of research, so they tend to be more accurate.

 

  • An unnamed character can be identified if Comic Book DB, Grand Comics Database and either DC Comics Database or Marvel Comics Database agree on who the character is.
For example, the other comic databases all say that Daily Star editor George Taylor appeared in Action Comics #1.
 
It doesn’t matter that no official source backs that up. No one tries to claim that it isn’t George Taylor or that it is someone else. It couldn’t have been Perry White because he is listed as first appearing in Superman #7. Online databases may not always be accurate but they have 2 big advantages over reference books: they are accessible to everyone and they can correct their own mistakes.

 

Does an alternate version of a character need a separate character page?

This depends on the situation.

 

  • If one version of a character lives in modern times and another version lives in the 19th century, they are still the same character.

For example, the regular Batman and the Batman from Gotham by Gaslight.

 

  • If one version of a character has dark hair and another version has light hair or red hair, they are still the same character.

For example, DC Universe Lana Lang and Smallville Lana Lang.

 

  • If one version of a character is white and another version is black or Asian, they are still the same character.

For example, Nick Fury and Ultimate Nick Fury are the same character.

 

  • If one version of a character is a man and one version is a woman, they are separate characters unless the character is a shapeshifter.

For example, Deadpool and Lady Deadpool are separate characters.

 

  • If one version of a character is human (or a humanoid alien) and one version is a zombie, they are separate characters.

For example, Deadpool and Headpool are separate characters.

 

  • If one version of a character is human and one version is a vampire, they are still the same character. A vampire is much closer to being human than a zombie is.

For example, regular Batman and the Batman from Red Rain are the same character.

 

  • If one version of a character is human and one version is some kind of animal, they are separate characters unless the character is a shapeshifter.

For example, the regular Speedball and the Marvel Apes Speedball are separate characters.

 

  • If one version of a character is an adult and one version is a small child that wears the same costume as the adult, they are separate characters.

For example, the X-Men and the X-Babies are separate characters.

 

  • If one version of a character is human and one version is some kind of toy, they are separate characters.

For example, the action figures on Twisted Toyfair Theatre and the characters they are based on are separate characters.

 

Generally, if two different versions of a character have different real names, they count as separate characters. But there are some exceptions.

 

  • Sometimes a character’s surname is spelled differently in different stories. Both versions still count as the same character even if they exist in a separate continuity.

For example, Jack O’Neil and Jack O’Neill, Curt Connors and Curt Conners, Kal-El and Kal-L.

 

  • A female character may change her surname after getting married. Both versions still count as the same character even if they exist in a separate continuity.

For example Lois Lane and Lois Luthor (from Superman: Red Son) are the same character.

 

  • Sometimes a character’s surname might be partially changed when a comic is adapted into a move. Both versions still count as the same character as long as the first name is the same and part of the surname is still the same.

For example, Stella Olemaun and Stella Oleson from 30 Days of Night, Adam Susan and Adam Sutler from V for Vendetta, Billy Russo and Billy Russotti from Punisher: War Zone.

 

  • An Earth-1 version and an Earth-2 version of a character sometimes have different names. Both versions still count as the same character if both names were used in Golden Age comics. The Golden Age was a simpler time when there was only one continuity but it sometimes had a few inconsistencies.

For example, Jonathan Kent and John Kent, Martha Kent and Mary Kent, Harvey Dent and Harvey Kent. These were later retconned to exist in separate Earths but originally they were just minor inconsistencies in the same character.

 

  • The Tangent Comics universe and the Just Imagine Stan Lee universe are so different from the regular DC universe that all alternate versions appearing in those comics count as separate characters.

 

  • If an Amalgam universe character is a combination of two or more DC and Marvel characters, then the Amalgam character counts as a separate character from both of them.

For example, Super-Soldier is a separate character from Captain America and Superman even though he has the same name as Superman (Clark Kent). The characters in Superman: Speeding Bullets and the Marvel series Bullet Points are also a kind of amalgamations so they also count as separate characters.

  • However, Amalgam characters that are not amalgamations, do not count as separate characters.

For example, Nick Fury and Amalgam Nick Fury are the same character.

 

  • If two versions of a character from different parallel universes meet each other, they will be considered separate characters only if they have different Super Names and the 1st Appearance of the later version involves a meeting with the earlier version.

For example, Superboy-Prime first appeared in DC Comics Presents #87, where he first met the earlier version Superman so he is a separate character.

 

  • If public domain character has a DC Universe version, a Marvel Universe version, and an Image Universe version, they all count as separate characters.

For example, the different version of Hercules. I actually very strongly disagree with this rule, but this is how Comic Vine currently does it. All versions of Hercules are very similar in many ways. The same is true for other public domain characters. Each comic book company, may put their own spin on a public domain character each version still retains many recognizable aspects of the classic version.

 

I’m still trying to decide if a human version and an alien version should be considered the same character. This rule would be relevant for the different versions of Supergirl and Hawkman as well as Ultimate Lilandra and Clark Kent from Superman: Secret Identity.

I’m also trying to decide whether the characters in Marvel 1602 should be considered separate characters from the regular versions. Some of them have different names from the regular versions and some don’t.

I’m also trying to think of a rule that explains why Superman and Superman of Earth-2 should be considered the same character, but Supergirl and Power Girl should be considered separate characters. Having different Super Names is essential but it’s not enough, since Giant-Man met his earlier Yellowjacket self in the miniseries Avengers Forever. Maybe something about the fact that both versions of Superman existed in the Golden Age (the Earth-1 version existed as Superboy). Or maybe something about the fact that both Giant-Man and Yellowjacket were part of the Avengers team. And I still have no idea about what to do with the different incarnations of Nathaniel Richards. Why do Kang, Immortus and Iron Lad have separate character pages but Rama-Tut doesn’t?

An alternative to all of this confusion is that we make a list of every single alternate version that should have a separate character page and all other alternate versions’ character pages will be removed. All an alternate version really needs to be considered a separate character is to be easily distinguishable from the original version (so that when there’s a movie we know which version to credit) and to be interesting enough for someone to bother making a new page for them.

 

So, what do you guys think?

#2 Posted by Blurred View (363 posts) - - Show Bio

This all makes sense to me and is generally the same as my own thinking when dealing with character appearances. The only difference is that I make judgment calls when it comes to one panel background appearances, and that comes down to whether I think there is any substance to the appearance. As in, is the character in the background actually being shown doing anything or does their presence mean they're involved in something. If it's just some big, irrelevant group shot with the character just existing there, I tend to pass on giving them a credit. 
 
What's special about zombies? That's a qualification I don't get.  
 
The alternate versions of characters thing can be confusing here, and there are definitely some pages out there I don't agree with. I never thought Kal-L should have a separate page, but you have a good point about Power Girl. She's kind of an anomaly in that regard. If anyone should be an exception, it should be her. But I think there are also separate pages for Kingdom Come Superman and Red Son Superman. That's pretty sketchy to me. 
 
My thinking on alternate versions is basically this... I'll use Spider-Man as an example. Spider-Man is an identity and not a character. The character of Spider-Man is Peter Parker. Any alternate universe version of Peter Parker should go on Spider-Man's page instead of getting their own pages. Ben Reilly is a clone of Peter Parker, which is not an alternate version. It's a copy of the original. Miguel O'Hara is also Spider-Man, but he is not an alternate version. He is not Peter Parker. He is a separate character who uses the same identity. Ultimate Spider-Man is still Peter Parker so shouldn't have a separate page. The 1602 Spider-Man, though the name is altered, is still a version of Peter Parker. Some universe where Peter Parker is someone other than Spider-Man and is instead say... the Wasp... is still an alternate version of Peter Parker. Basically, that's the key thing to me. Is this an alternate version of the character, or is it a separate entity using the same identity?

#3 Posted by NodNolan (109 posts) - - Show Bio
@NetSpiker said:

The current Help page is inadequate. It does not have any information about what counts as a character appearance that needs to be credited. All it says is that characters should only be credited if they have a speaking role. This is ridiculous, since some characters never speak at all.....

So, what do you guys think?

 
I fundamentally agree with the original ruling..... take Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #1 as an Example. now I'm a huge fan of Rage (amongst other New Warriors), but does him standing in a crowd doing nothing constitute an "appearance". If I were someone coming into comics liking Rage, wanting to find all the story's with Rage in over the years, would I appreciate buying that issue from eBay and found he stood in a crowd of heroes.
 
Personally I think an appearance should only be an appearance if they have a speaking role OR if they have a major part / influence on the flow of the story ie in determining / helping the outcome of a fight.
#4 Posted by fesak (7061 posts) - - Show Bio

I've been trying to get some clarification on this subject for ages. The closest thing to an answer ive gotten is that a separate page is okay for alt.reality characters brought into the main universe and interact with their main counterpart (ex. KC Superman, Dark Beast, Headpool)
Another thing is a separate page is okay if the character is different enough, which is as vague as it gets.

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#5 Edited by NetSpiker (296 posts) - - Show Bio
@Blurred View: When a character becomes a zombie, their appearance changes to that of a decaying corpse. Unlike vampires, zombies are absolutely incapable of passing as human. A vampire would still look the same after turning and often still has the same personality. But when someone turns into a zombie, their personality instantly changes to extremely evil, regardless of what they were like before. And they eat people alive, tearing them apart piece by piece. A zombie could never be described as sexy, like most vampires can. While vampires can exist in a variety of genres, a zombie story will nearly always be a horror story. Zombies can lose limbs and survive after being decapitated, making them look even more different from their original human selves. I know there are some stories that depict vampires as extremely monstrous and some stories that show 'good' zombies, but the general stereotypes of vampires and zombies are very different.
 

@NodNolan

: A character appearing in a crowd scene shows that the character was present during whatever major event the crowd has gathered for. And that becomes  part of their history. Many people enjoy comics for the little details like cameo appearances. 
 
The character Doctor Phlox appeared in a single panel of a flashback scene in Star Trek Klingons: Blood Will Tell #1. Dr. Phlox is one of the main characters on the TV series Star Trek Enterprise, and this appearance is significant because it's the only time a Star Trek Enterprise character has ever appeared in a comic book. Even though he didn't say a word.
 
@fesak: You'll never get a definitive answer because there is no definitive answer yet. That's why I'm trying to make one. The idea of a character going to the main universe and interacting with their main counterpart only works if the two versions have different Super Names so that they can be distinguished from each other in the comics where they appear on their own. There's no definite boundary anywhere in the 40s or 50s where Superman of Earth-2 ends and Superman of Earth-1 begins. Superman is an evolving character and Earth-1 elements were gradually introduced. The Daily Star was replaced with the Daily Planet, George Taylor was replaced with Perry White, ginger Luthor was replaced with bald Luthor and finally the Justice Society was replaced with the Justice League. The idea of there being two different Supermen was a retcon that created more continuity problems than it solved. Earth-2 Superman's distinctive 'S' emblem was only created after the retcon. At least with Spider-Man and Ultimate Spider-Man, you can tell which one's which from the comics that they appear in.
 
Many Earth-2 characters appeared in the main universe in various crossovers, including the Wonder Woman of Earth-2 in Infinite Crisis. And then there's Legion of 3 Worlds. Do we really want to created separate character pages for every alternate version of every Legion member who appeared in that series?
#6 Edited by NodNolan (109 posts) - - Show Bio
@NetSpiker said:

@NodNolan: A character appearing in a crowd scene shows that the character was present during whatever major event the crowd has gathered for. And that becomes  part of their history. Many people enjoy comics for the little details like cameo appearances. 
 
The character Doctor Phlox appeared in a single panel of a flashback scene in Star Trek Klingons: Blood Will Tell #1. Dr. Phlox is one of the main characters on the TV series Star Trek Enterprise, and this appearance is significant because it's the only time a Star Trek Enterprise character has ever appeared in a comic book. Even though he didn't say a word.
 

They are nice Easter Eggs, definitely, but I'm a firm believer that having a swathe of cameo appearances / cameo appearances waters down proper appearances by characters in each book. When you can get anything up to 70 'appearances' of different characters in an issue with 20/22 story pages it becomes ludicrous.
 
I think Comicvine's  rule of speaking parts only, which I broadlyly agree with, was implemented for that reason.
 
saying that I, personally, wouldn't be averse to having a separate category for cameo appearances.
#7 Posted by Blurred View (363 posts) - - Show Bio
@NetSpiker said:
@Blurred View: When a character becomes a zombie, their appearance changes to that of a decaying corpse. Unlike vampires, zombies are absolutely incapable of passing as human. A vampire would still look the same after turning and often still has the same personality. But when someone turns into a zombie, their personality instantly changes to extremely evil, regardless of what they were like before. And they eat people alive, tearing them apart piece by piece. A zombie could never be described as sexy, like most vampires can. While vampires can exist in a variety of genres, a zombie story will nearly always be a horror story. Zombies can lose limbs and survive after being decapitated, making them look even more different from their original human selves. I know there are some stories that depict vampires as extremely monstrous and some stories that show 'good' zombies, but the general stereotypes of vampires and zombies are very different.
Yes, but why does any of that mean a zombie version would be a separate character? Regardless of the physical effects, it's just another alternate version of a character. I don't really see why the zombie Spider-Man should be considered a different, separate character from Peter Parker, especially not when a vampire version wouldn't be. It's all the same principle. Both would be alternate versions of Peter Parker and should be included in his page rather than given separate pages. If it is (or was) Peter Parker, then it's just not a separate character no matter how different it has become.
#8 Posted by pikahyper (12405 posts) - - Show Bio
@Blurred View said: 
Yes, but why does any of that mean a zombie version would be a separate character? Regardless of the physical effects, it's just another alternate version of a character. I don't really see why the zombie Spider-Man should be considered a different, separate character from Peter Parker, especially not when a vampire version wouldn't be. It's all the same principle. Both would be alternate versions of Peter Parker and should be included in his page rather than given separate pages. If it is (or was) Peter Parker, then it's just not a separate character no matter how different it has become.
I would have to agree
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#9 Posted by fesak (7061 posts) - - Show Bio
@NetSpiker 
This is an explanation i got from G-Man as to why we would have a separate page for KC Superman. Can't say i think we should have separate pages for all earth-2 characters, but it would be hard to define why some pages are ok and some not. Bottom line is the rules we had gets broken from time to time, even by the staff.
 
The non-speaking rule is something the mods have wanted to get rid of for years since it makes no sense. Don't think i need to clarify why.

Zombie characters in general doesn't have separate pages, on the top of my head Headpool is the only one, but mostly because of him crossing over to 616 and then being in Deadpool Corps.
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#10 Edited by NetSpiker (296 posts) - - Show Bio

I am becoming more and more convinced that my alternate versions rules should all be scrapped and we should instead just make a list of every alternate version that we think is different enough to have a separate character page. It's impossible to write a rule for every single situation, especially considering the complex variations of Hawkman, Supergirl and Kang. Let's all write a list of the alternate versions that you think deserve a separate character page. Any character that at least 5 of us agree on would go on a permanent list that will hopefully get stickied.
 
I think the main issue is that alternate versions have to be different enough so that when there's a movie appearance, we immediately know which version to credit.

#11 Posted by Blurred View (363 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, no series of rules were going to cover all the bases. There were always going to be some rare exceptions, like Power Girl. Technically, I guess Power Girl is an alternate version (an Earth-2 version?) of Supergirl, and in general, characters like that really shouldn't have their own pages. But it's Power Girl. The way DC has treated this character over the years makes her a unique situation. 
 
I think there just needs to be a basic rule stating what is meant by alternate versions. Saying that "alternate versions" means specifically other versions of the character behind the mask (i.e. Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, Steve Rogers) and not about other characters who have used the same identities (i.e. Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America). And then that these alternate versions should not have separate pages, barring a few rare exceptions like Power Girl. I think who gets those exceptions should probably be pretty conservative too, or else it can quickly snowball into a mess. I mean, I don't really think appearing in a dozen or so issues of Justice Society of America really warrants Kingdom Come Superman having his own page. I know the situation with Kang is confusing, but I'm not sure giving each of his different incarnations their own page helps or makes it worse. 
 
There's kind of a flipside to the confusion over alternate versions too. We have characters who probably should have their own pages not getting them because they're treated like alternate versions. I don't think any of the individual Hawkmen have their own separate pages, and I don't think all of them are versions of Carter Hall. None of the characters who have been Firestorm have their own pages too. 

#12 Posted by jinxuandi (595 posts) - - Show Bio

I am bumping this article because I find it extremely helpful and hopefully others will too.