Superman - Understanding the Most Convoluted Character Ever

#1 Posted by Jordanstine (907 posts) - - Show Bio


Maybe someone here can help explain this better.   
 
Big Superman fan. So much so that my dog is named Kent. He was the character that got me into comics, but trying to catch up on his book lately, I ran across so many different stories about him with no explanations that it literally is a headache.

My original thought of Superman was from his books The Adventures of Superman during the 80's. Wanting to be up to date with the character, as suggested by my comic book guy (CBG), I decided to pick up Superman: Secret Origin by Geoff Johns, and for some reason it felt like it was written like an episode of TV's Smallville with so many changes I'd have not known about Superman.

Hence, wanting to know more I decided to pick up some other books recommended by my CBG to know more about his origins (aside from Infinite Crisis of course - btw I hate anyting with Infiinity Earths storylines that retconns already established stories): Superman: Birthright and Superman: Man of Steel (which was the basis of my 80's read), and boy was it just super confusing.

Here's my biggest question (even my CBG can't explain)
I understand that Geoff John's Secret Origins written in 2009, along with Infinite Crisis in 2006, is supposed to be the "real" origin and continuity of Superman, and that the other 3 books simply do not "exist" anymore. But still, doesn't this affect some of the other books Superman was in (i.e. Justice League, Superman/Batman books, etc.) before the 2009 reboot took place (or 2006 before the changes in continuity during Infinite Crisis)?

Example:
When you read a Justice League book written in 1999, and you see Superman's interaction with Lex Luthor, you're supposed to think of their relationship as based on what was written on "The Man of Steel" books to make sense. But since "The Man of Steel" is no longer "valid", you start basing everything on "Secret Origins" instead, but when you go back to that same Justice League issue, it now has a much more different tone that doesn't even make sense. So does that Justice Leauge issue then "never really existed" in Superman's continuity?  Or how do they explain that then?   
 
My CBG explained to me that during the 80's Infinite Crisis, stories from Pre-Crisis Superman are now erased as if they never existed, and only his Post-Crisis stories do.  But when I gave him the above example, he was just as confused as I was!  Because even if we were to say that anything Pre-Secret Origins of Superman never existed, and only the Post-Secret Origins of Superman do, meaning that 1999 Justice League book never truly existed in Superman's continuity, what does that do to other heroes who were also in that book like Batman, Green Lantern, etc., since they were never affected by that origin storyline, since it only happened to Superman? 

Superman's origin just has so many loopholes and irregularities with no explanation given to most:

Extent of Superman's Powers
Superman had the power to see and predict when people were about to die; but it was never ever mentioned since, as if it just disappeared with no explanation.  Later in Infinite Crisis, Superman gets a new power: super intellect.  Really?  Is that like Reed Richards kind of intellect, or more like Charles Xavier? 

Superman's Strength
He first could only lift cars and punch brick walls; later he is able to lift buildings; then he became so strong that he literally moved planets; now it seems like just moving a mountain gives him such a hard time.  How strong is he really?

 
Zombie Kents:  
The Kents had passed away initially while Clark was growing up. But later, they were re-written back alive and well again with no explanation why with no recolection of them ever dying including Superman himself, as if they never died at all.  Even Deadman has to be impressed!

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes:
Superboy and the Legion were founded when Clark was a teen. Later Clark was never Superboy at all so it never happened. Later Clark was really Superboy so it did happen but in a different reality of Earth. Later it was actually the same Earth but in an alternate future. Later Clark was back to never being Superboy at all again.

Fortress of Solitude:
It was regarded as Superman's home away from home.  Later it was written as if it never really existed but just a metaphor in Clark's mind. Now it's back to having always been in existence.

Lex Luthor's History
Lex never knew Clark until he came to Metropolis; later it was revelaed he was actually from Smallville and had battled Superboy; then that never existed after Crisis; later it was written that he really was from Smallville and even classmates with Clark. Then, it was re-written that he's back to not really being from Smallville but had visited it before during his teen years; now he calls it his hometown.  What is it really?

And those are only the top of my head.   I haven't even touched upon Supergirl's or Superboy's convoluted origins - theirs are pretty confusing too.  Hello Krypto
 
I hated what Marvel did with Spider-Man on Brand New Day (which I though was their version of DC's Infinite Crisis), but at least there was an explanation to it (i.e. Mephisto) making events that happend Pre-BND still happened in Post-BND, so although I hated it, it's still in the same continuity.  Unlike some of DC's characters where Post storylines negates the continuity of Pre storylines.  Just like Superman's where just a "SNAP" of a finger and the story you knew all of a sudden just never existed anymore with no explanations why and everything just starts anew.

I heard that Hawkman's history may be worse.  Thank God I haven't gone there.
 
Anyway, will there be another Superman Origins book written in the future?     

"S" stands for Super Convoluted

 

#2 Edited by CosmicSpiral (5471 posts) - - Show Bio

More convoluted than Hawkman's origin? BND didn't even bother to include a plot that makes sense. 

#3 Edited by Jordanstine (907 posts) - - Show Bio
@CosmicSpiral said:

"BND didn't even bother to include a plot that makes sense.  "



Why?  Did Superman's
 
And if Hawkman's origin really is more convoluted, then I stand corrected (I heard he was but I've never read his books).
#4 Posted by johnny_spam (2028 posts) - - Show Bio

The key to DC continuity only the least ten years really matter trying to understand all of it will just get confusing and DC should not date their characters history indefinitely so retcons may be necessary to have them appeal to the current audience if you liked the stories from twenty years they are still there always to be reread so I don't see how they can cause so much problems for some people.

#5 Posted by Jodin20723 (79 posts) - - Show Bio

Well i believe other characters are ever more convoluted then superman. if you look down the line almost every Dc and or Marvel character had some sort of Convoluted past and history that did not realy add up untill over time it was re-told and re-edited to better fit and make sence. For some odd reason it has just took longer for superman to reach that ultimate "one" continuity( thats not even saying that Secret Origin is even going to last for long) What has to be excepted is that no matter what history is canon Modern superman post John Bryne is still the canon superman no matter how mant differnt re-tellings of his origin there are. and still one of the greatest superheros ever

#6 Posted by ssejllenrad (12780 posts) - - Show Bio

Superman is not convoluted! He's just... misunderstood... Ehehehe! Don't mind me, I'm just a fanboy.. :D
 
Honestly I'm still not over my problem with the precrisis postcrisis thing. Apparently he raced Barry a few time before his return so that makes him existent before Barry's demise thus making him pre-crisis in a sense. Now we add your analogy of his origins. Yep! Convoluted! (but not the most convoluted) 
 
I just wish they stayed with Byrne's consistency.

#7 Posted by Jordanstine (907 posts) - - Show Bio
@ssejllenrad said:
" Superman is not convoluted! He's just... misunderstood... Ehehehe! Don't mind me, I'm just a fanboy.. :D  Honestly I'm still not over my problem with the precrisis postcrisis thing. Apparently he raced Barry a few time before his return so that makes him existent before Barry's demise thus making him pre-crisis in a sense. Now we add your analogy of his origins. Yep! Convoluted! (but not the most convoluted)   I just wish they stayed with Byrne's consistency. "
Nods head.  Yup.
#8 Posted by CosmicSpiral (5471 posts) - - Show Bio
@Jordanstine said:
" @CosmicSpiral said:

"BND didn't even bother to include a plot that makes sense.  "



Why?  Did Superman's
 
And if Hawkman's origin really is more convoluted, then I stand corrected (I heard he was but I've never read his books). "
Superman's origin story makes perfect sense. Parents send away their only son away before their planet explodes, it lands on Earth, etc. Unlikely, sure. Nonsensical? No.   
 
Hawkman doesn't know who he is. 
#9 Edited by The Dave (142 posts) - - Show Bio

I was a fan of superman when I was a kid, but I ended up with that same "overpowered" feel which is probably why he isn't as popular as he used to be. Its hard to identify with someone who is relatively flawless.
Honestly though, the best superman story I've read(watched) ironically is from here...
 
 http://www.youtube.com/user/ItsJustSomeRandomGuy
  
Watch season 1 (after hours) I felt this to be a very good superman story even though its a parody. It actually made me like supes again. 
 In fact if you have not seen these little movies I highly recommend them. He has mostly gotten all the characters personalities correct as well. There's some very good stuff there.

#10 Posted by koala99 (13 posts) - - Show Bio

My understanding of post-Infinite Crisis/post-Secret Origins continuity is that most things pre-Crisis and most things post-Crisis still happened, but how they occurred in the same continuity is up to interpretation until an official explanation is given. For example, Superman's Superboy adventures, Silver Age Lex Luthor and Brainiac, Superman's encounter with Mongul in 1980, Superman's races with Barry Allen, Jimmy Olsen's strange transformations, Superman's encounter with Mongul in the Gladiator story arc, businessman Lex Luthor, Milton Fine Brainiac, Bronze Age Brainiac, the destruction of Lexor, Our Worlds at War, and Kara Zor-El's pre-Crisis and post-Crisis appearances all happened, somehow. Personally, I don't mind the confusion of post-Infinite Crisis continuity because it allows everything pre-Crisis to be canon again. Before anyone accuses me of being a Silver Age fanboy, I would like to point out that I grew up with the post-Crisis stories, but I simply found the pre-Crisis stories more entertaining.

#11 Posted by Press Oblivion (1643 posts) - - Show Bio

@koala99: Wow this is an old thread. . . I have to say that I hate the inclusion of Legion in the Superman canon. Time travel stories never sit right with me and there's no reason for Clark to spend time in the future. If they want to reference Superman in the future and say what a great guy he is, awesome! When I saw Morrison reintroduced them to the Superman reality in Action Comics, my heart sank.

#12 Posted by colonyofcells (2038 posts) - - Show Bio

Most of the Morrison convoluted stuff will probably be erased once Morrison moves on to greener pastures. DC can easily reboot the Superman origin every year if dc has a need to.

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