This. My thoughts exactly.
I can give examples of why I disliked the Loeb/Kelly/DeMatteis runs, and I agree about Johns's work as well. It just felt off, and you could just see him get his dream come true of writing Superman, but it read that way too.
But the Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/Simonson run? Jeez, that was pure magic. The books were somehow cohesive, with an understanding of the fact that a great big chunk of what makes Superman Superman are the people around him in his life. And it was steeped in the Fourth World characters introduced in Jimmy Olsen, along with the importance of Ma and Pa Kent.
Damn, so much of that work still needs to be reprinted!
And I am so glad the feeling has returned in the Bendis runs on the Superman titles. I'm full of glee.
Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:
Thinking of Superman, and where I draw the line in a different way. For me, and my reading experience, Superman isn’t really “my” Superman until the Bronze Age. When I met Clark (in the comics, as opposed to TV), he was working at WGBS, but had lots of friends and co-workers at the Daily Planet. Before that -- the Golden and Silver Ages, basically -- there are some brilliant stories, but I can take or leave them as canon.
This Superman is valid for me through Crisis.
Then, after that, there’s the post-Crisis Superman. And those stories ALSO work for me, and gradually HE becomes “my” Superman too. And I think he persists until the Jurgens/Ordway/Stern/Simonson run ends. When Loeb, Johns, Kelly and DeMatteis take the reins, the magic is over, and he’s a character being written by people again. And it’s not till Kurt Busiek takes over for a bit, in a run that recalls when I first met Superman in the 70s, that he feels “real” to me again. (Then again, the Johns stories over in Action don’t have that same feeling, and still seem concoted to me, rather than true. As fun as some of them were.)
Then my post-Crisis Superman came back with Rebirth, and hasn't left.
Yeah, that Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/Simonson run is one of the great works of comics continuity. The sheer editorial effort it must have taken to keep everything consistent! I don't think it gets enough credit for that. I don't think the O'Neil-edited Batman books ever quite managed it, and I think the Spider-Man books probably fell short, too. (At least content-wise, as they got mired in the clone saga, but considering how they wrote themselves into a corner with that, I think we can say they pretty visibly dropped the ball.) Maybe X-Men was the only other franchise of comparable size at the time... and I doubt that made such tight, issue-to-issue sense.
I hold the Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/Simonson version in high esteem as well (and I would throw Byrne into the mix). There is an omnibus which picks up immediately after the Byrne run, and a Byrne Superman omnibus (including Stern/Ordway, et al) has been solicited for July 22 release. I am less thrilled with what I call “the ponytail era,” but I don’t have a clear division in my mind, so I included everything up through Flashpoint. The recent and presumably-soon-to-be-completed Watchman series has done a lot to smooth out many of the post-Crisis/pre- and post-Flashpoint bumps (AFAIAC).
NEXT UP: Batman
This may come as a surprise, but I don’t have a line for Batman.
Batman #254 was one of the very first comic books I owned… not just “batman” but overall. Featuring, as it did, tales from “The Fabulous, Forties,” “The Furious Fifties,” “The Sizzling Sixties,” “The Swinging Seventies” and the “Fantastic Future,” I was weaned on the idea that multiple versions of the Batman have “always” (from my perspective) existed.
My first Batman was a year earlier with #247!
But I grew up in the 100 Page Era so I had no problem with past stories.
With Batman, it's easier to separate his versions through his various Robins:
Deathlok first appeared in Astonishing Tales (1974), set in the “futuristic” world of 1988. (Ooh!) When his solo series was cancelled, his adventures continued in Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Spotlight and Marvel Two-In-One. Deathlok’s world was ravaged by war in 1983. When 1983 rolled around, the dichotomy was dealt with in Captain America. Eventually Marvel created a second Deathlok, but Captain America #286-288 is where I draw the line.
Along the same lines as Kirby’s “Fourth World,” this one occurred to me last night while watching TV, but it crosses media.
“Watchmen” is a 12-issue mini-series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.
Geoff Johns’ Doomsday Clock, the “Before Watchmen” series of limited series, the movie, the television show… all that is someone else’s “take” on Watchmen.
I don't know if I agree with that one, Phillip. I think once you kill Robin, it's your responsibility as a storyteller to mine that vein. Much of that is a close look at Batman during his new solo time, but I think having the Joker around occasionally to salt those wounds is a very workable choice.
Basically, give Batman time to come to grips with things on his own, and just when he's about on solid ground again, bring in the Joker to topple everything over.
Same for Barbara. I'm glad the Joker was around for her to confront as Oracle years later.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
OMAC would be another example, perhaps a better one because it had only eight issues to begin with. Those eight issues inspired 1) a series of back-ups culminating in DC Comics Presents #61, 2) a 1991 series by John Byrne, 3) the OMAC Project (2005) and spin-off series (2006), and 4) a “New 52” version (2001), all different, all drawing on those original eight issues as a source of inspiration.
Also Kamandi #50 and Hercules Unbound #10.