laughing_tree: (Seaworth)
[personal profile] laughing_tree posting in [community profile] scans_daily


I can write the Big Monster, the Alien Attack, or the Treacherous Supervillain, but I’m not doing that here because that would be me doing what everybody else does with Justice League and competing with those other voices. With virtually all other thematic exits blocked, here’s the fire staircase most readily available to me: deconstructive realism. -- Christopher J. Priest
















Date: 2018-01-16 04:18 pm (UTC)
lordultimus: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lordultimus
Was just about to post this. I think this quote says everything about Priest's Justice League run:

"The Silver Age of the average man on the DCU street cheering the heroes on is an anachronism now. If the League were real, today, they’d most likely be sued by every person they ever saved. They’d be subpoenaed by every authority in every jurisdiction imaginable; hearings upon hearings. There’d be waves of accolades followed by tsunamis of boos from social media. They’d be more feared than loved, blamed as much for not doing something as for doing anything.

This is the environment that interests me, what Stan Lee used to call, “The World Outside Our Window,” much more so than the benign idealized Silver Age world in which this group was originally formed."

Date: 2018-01-16 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] owlbrigade1
The reason I turn to fiction, particularly comic books, is to avoid all that stuff though. If I wanted the world outside the window, I can just open a window. Reality is way overrated.

Date: 2018-01-16 06:59 pm (UTC)
doctor_spanky: (Default)
From: [personal profile] doctor_spanky
Aren't flying people and superpowers enough though? I want stories where people act like people

Date: 2018-01-16 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] owlbrigade1
But what kind of people? I want them to be the better kind of people.

Date: 2018-01-18 11:48 am (UTC)
katefan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] katefan
Well said.

Date: 2018-01-20 04:41 pm (UTC)
doctor_spanky: (Default)
From: [personal profile] doctor_spanky
All kinds of people, I want superheroes to be moral examples cuz I think that's the point, and that's highlighted if the people they make sacrifices for aren't necessarily grateful, like in real life

Date: 2018-01-20 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] owlbrigade1
Nah. If I want short sighted, flawed and cruel examples of the general public then I can get that by reading the comments section of any alleged newsites. I want to have examples of a general public that is educated and sensible enough to be grateful and work in its own interest, for a change. That is what fiction is for. To inspire us all, even those of us who are only the voices in the crowd.

Date: 2018-01-20 05:27 pm (UTC)
doctor_spanky: (Default)
From: [personal profile] doctor_spanky
I like those stories too, Al Ewing and Mark Waid are awesome. I still don't think it's an either/or. You can also inspire change by identifying folly (Fahrenheit 451, Slaughterhouse 5, etc). That being said, "You have to take the bad with the good" is what assholes say to justify their behavior. But also stories that address ugly conflict help me deal with my own conflicts. I think superheroes are such a huge genre there's room for both

Date: 2018-01-17 05:17 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jlbarnett
human nature is changeable, it's why we don't act exactly like people from 100 years ago or a thousand or five thousand.

A world that different outside our window? How could people act exactly the same.

Hell, these people have answers to questions about the universe, gods and aliens that we lack

Date: 2018-01-20 04:49 pm (UTC)
doctor_spanky: (Default)
From: [personal profile] doctor_spanky
There's a Joss Whedon quote about how they wrote the Scooby Gang to show how people could treat each other (with respect & love, ignoring toxic gender stereotypes) instead of necessarily trying to be realistic. I think there's room for utopian fiction that gives an example of good behavior along with stories about how to deal with bad behavior

Date: 2018-01-16 10:34 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (jla (lj))
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
The reason I turn to fiction, particularly comic books, is to avoid all that stuff though. If I wanted the world outside the window, I can just open a window. Reality is way overrated.

^ This.

If I want reality I'll turn on the news. I read comics (or at least I used to) for much of that Silver Age idealism. Sorry if that isn't 'cool'.

Date: 2018-01-16 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mrwalker
If there was a "like" button I'd be hitting it. I mean...they ain't WRONG about how the world would treat groups like the Justice League. And going there can make some great stories (they built a whole season of JLU around this). But if it factored into EVERY story, it would get real depressing, real fast.

Date: 2018-01-16 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] locuatico
My big problem with this mentality is... THAT'S the most unbelievable thing? and I don't mean in the sense of "this is a story about a guy who can shoot lasers from his eyes". Even with heroes having a "no kill" rule the fact so many rogue villains simply... survive is absurd.
And no, I don't mean it is absurd Batman doesn't kill The Joker. He doesn't kill him because what would happen is what Priest describes here. I mean that ABSOLUTELY NOBODY ELSE kills him that is absurd.

Or the fact that having contact to alien civilizations seems to have NO real impact on human society as a whole. What is earth's official policy on alien refugees? are there alien tourists? how do governments feel about the Green Lantern corp, who are space cops? is there a compromise in terms of jurisdiction? Superman is one thing, but a representative of a foreign entity acting as law enforcer of said entity is another.

Or everyone's favorite: the complete disconnect between society and the level of technology we often see.

I don't say these as crtiticisms of the DCU. But rather to point out that when you speak of this sort of things, it is important to note the entire universe in itself doesn't take into account how things would realistically go and to do so would require to re-think society on a fundamental level.
a "realistic" DCU would, ironically, look NOTHING like our world... it would look like Futurama, if i am perfectly honest.

It's why I think this kind of stories often work best when outside continuity, as an elseworld or something.

Date: 2018-01-16 04:43 pm (UTC)
drmanbot: Dr. Manbot Xmas Special (Default)
From: [personal profile] drmanbot
This has been done, and TBH, better. I can go back as early as Avengers # 168, with good ol Pete Gyrich. I didn't like it then, and I don' t like it now. It was fine for the Incredibles, but I prefer my super hero world, more fanciful, and less face the nation.

Date: 2018-01-16 04:46 pm (UTC)
goattoucher: (Brimley)
From: [personal profile] goattoucher
Consider the Samaritan in Astro City: all he does all the time is save lives. Whenever he pauses for anything, people die. It takes the entire super hero community to get him one night off to have a date with similarly dedicated Winged Liberty.

Now consider Superman: any time anything went wrong, people would ask "Where were you?" and no answer he could give would be satisfactory to them, or to him.

I often note that the biggest suspensions of disbelief that comics require have nothing to do with lifting trucks or flying into space or laser beam eyeballs.

It's questions like the one above, relative to superman: I know his parents taught him to be human, but with his personality, the idea that any time taken for himself would cost lives would mean that he simply would not take any time for himself.

It's the rogues gallery of villains ho are never executed. The revolving door penitentiaries.

The fact that, for all his genius, Reed Richards has not cured cancer, or AIDS, or perfected cold fusion and given it to the world for free, or established a cheap, effective, and environmentally safe mass transit system, or brought fresh water and sanitation to impoverished nations.

The fact that Bruce Wayne being Batman is the most spectacularly inefficient use of resources imaginable, made doubly egregious by the fact that simply spending his billions in entirely mundane ways around Gotham would do far more to stop crime and end suffering than
Batman ever could.

The problem is: "The World Outside Your Window". For one, people aren't looking for a realistic interpretation of what would happen if superheroes walked among us: they are looking for action stories. for another, a world that benefits from Reed Richards' genius, a Gotham made safe by Wayne Foundation money, would not be relatable. We would not be able to see ourselves or our world in it.

About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mr_cyn1cal
A few points:

Absolutely at some point Joker would have gotten the death penalty, as would any villain who's body count most closely resembles a war crime (Sabretooth, Doctor Doom, etc. etc.), but...that's not the story you want.

"Reed Richards has not cured cancer, or AIDS" - Reed's medical skills have always been limited. Never mind that the infrastructure needs for curing cancer (which isn't just one thing, after all) are probably beyond even the reach of singular billionaires (as Reed is).

But taking a moment to deconstruct the "Reed Richards is Useless" argument,

Quick Google check - when solar power was first invented? Yeah, I checked too, and there were patents in the 1880s, based on theories first developed in the late 1830s. The first practical solar panels were developed in the 1950s, and it’s really only in the last 20 years that solar panel tech has really become an “industry” of note. Now there were a lot of reasons for this - it takes time for a technology to be tested (as even the TVTropes people point out on the “Reed Richards is Useless” entry), but there are even more important factors:

-Time for a technology to be understood well enough by enough technological developers to really hit maturity;
-A lot of early adoption by the market to drive the price down so the technology can be accessible, and to help the technology develop fast enough to reach a viable state;
-A supply chain for a technology to be developed (i.e. from the raw materials into a finished project) to help make the technology ready for mass-market production;
-A regulatory environment that allows the product to effectively enter the market;
-The infrastructure environment must be set up so that the technology can be viable.
-The technology has to be user-friendly enough for the target market it is being sold to; and
-The technology has to be developed for mass market;

Cars really only took off as a technology once a group of the most powerful industrialists worked together in what amounted to an open conspiracy to make sure that the supply chain and infrastructure would support it - a car is nice, but if you don’t have gas stations set up at regular distances along paved roads that are wide enough to accommodate them, they end up being fairly useless. Which means you need to transport that fuel across country to those gas stations and etc etc. Electrification and the Internet were basically the beneficiaries of massive government funding to make the technology mature enough to be useful.
So yeah, there’s a lot of really valid reasons Richards’ technology isn’t changing the Marvel Universe on a grand scale, given the 12-15 year sliding timescale; he’s basically homebrewing his technology on the fly based on theories that only he and a handful of people understand. He’s basically a dude with a 3D printer, a huge budget and a desire to prototype his own devices to prove his theories to himself. Probably the most “ready for market” device he’s ever developed is the Fantasticar - and when it comes to flying cars, well, the issues are more regulatory and infrastructure based, rather than technical. There are flying cars that are semi-functional now, but for them to hit mass production, you would need to expand air traffic control by an order of magnitude in order to avoid collisions - because otherwise the skyline of any major city at rush hour would resemble the love child of a Michael Bay/ Roland Emmerich film. Put another way: you probably hate a lot of your fellow drivers on the road right now - do you really want to give them a third axis to screw up in at three times the speed?

And that's before you get into the idea that a lot of Reed's technologies would be dead-ends ("Great...so you made a portal to a hell-dimension and it's right next to where your wife and kids sleep - WHY EXACTLY WOULD ANYONE WANT THIS? WHY DO YOU WANT THIS, REED?")

As for Superman...well, I tend to imagine his viewpoint is that of a doctor, or firefighter, or similar - you can't just burn yourself out trying to save everyone at once, because once you are burned out, there's no one to replace you. You need breaks and relief or the burden will snap you in half. Yes, people might die without you there - even Samaritan realizes that when he saves someone, someone else dies. You get into that ethical debate and it does become onerous for anyone, so the solution is to treat it as a metaphor for other high-stakes occupations. Well, except that you don't see superheroes quitting or committing suicide at the rate of doctors because they can't cope with that strain...

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 07:04 pm (UTC)
goattoucher: (Cyke)
From: [personal profile] goattoucher
I don't mean to be contradictory, but consider this:

Who developed solar power? You have no idea. I certainly don't. Whoever did did not have the power, influence, or fame to push their invention to the forefront.

Lelectric cars have been around for decades, but have only become economically viable in the last ten years? You know who Elon Musk is. He had the media influence to get attention for his company. The Big Three still tried to shut him down,and when that didn't work, they introduced hybrids so they could keep fossil fuel engines in the mix as part of the solution.

Then Elon Musk gave his patented designs to the world, so not anyone can develop electric cars based on his designs.

Reed Richards is a world famous adventurer and scientist. If he developed fusion power, he would put it out there, and people would pay attention. His genius is such that (in defiance of the very accurate time frame of technology adoption you describe) a few years of work from him would make the fusion reactors self maintaining and simple enough for normal engineers to operate (with training).

It ain't Galactus, but it would save millions of lives. So too with curing diseases and developing medical technology. Imagine the medical applications of Pym Particles, and any jamoke can operate those.

Imagine the engineering marvels Tony Stark could create? Imagine a Stark Construction company.

You make a similarly good real world point relative to first responders and fatigue, but Superman doesn't get fatigued. When a fireman is done with his shift, other firemen take over and the city is still protected, but there is no other Superman to take over. He has to do it himself, and whenever he takes time for himself, people die. Could Clark Kent deal with that? That's a more interesting story to me than him boxing the newest space alien.

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 07:08 pm (UTC)
goattoucher: (Outrage)
From: [personal profile] goattoucher
As for flying cars, that has never been about the technology not being there. People crash cars into things on the ground. Imagine that destruction, compounded by the debris falling down onto a populated area or dry California forest. It takes teams of people with cutting edge computer technology all over the world to maintain the flight patterns of commercial flights, and they drive themselves to psychosis and suicide. Now put wings on every car? Hard Pass.

Like I said: quick, efficient and cheap mass transit. Well within Reed/Tony's wheelhouse.

What effect would that have on the economy? I don't know! Would super-scientists hold off life saving technology, allowing people to die for the sake of economic concerns? I DON'T KNOW!

these are very interesting questions, however.

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mr_cyn1cal
"quick, efficient and cheap mass transit. Well within Reed/Tony's wheelhouse."

There's lots of technology that does that now - but there isn't a huge market for it because the market, that is most people, quite like having personal individual transportation. Plus, there's the matter that at this point, urban and rural planning has been designed around automobile usage, so you'd have to really change the layout of your cities to make that really viable.

"What effect would that have on the economy? I don't know! Would super-scientists hold off life saving technology, allowing people to die for the sake of economic concerns? I DON'T KNOW!"

And it's good science-fiction, yes - there are stories that deal with that. But whether that works in superhero fiction is the question.

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 07:57 pm (UTC)
goattoucher: (Pamcakes)
From: [personal profile] goattoucher
"And it's good science-fiction, yes - there are stories that deal with that. But whether that works in superhero fiction is the question."

Indeed! My point was that I can handle stretching and lasers and super suits and spaceships, but I have trouble reconciling all that is implied by the existence of superpowered individuals and technological minds beyond what we know today.

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 07:21 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mr_cyn1cal
(Note: I have actually worked in the renewable energy/smart grid/alternative energy sector)

Electric cars have been around for decades, but it's only in the last little while we've got a handle on a good technology for energy storage (Lithium-Ion cells - A Tesla would look a heck of a lot different if it had to use Lead-Acid Batteries) and the charging technology. And even at that, it's only because there has been an enormous push from both public and private sectors to develop and test, at great expense, the infrastructure and business models to make electric vehicles viable as a business model. Even with all of that, the technology is only beginning to see widespread adoption, with halting steps and only in certain regions.

Reed develops fusion power, alright...but, who's going to develop the company that sells the first fusion reactors? Who is going to create the regulatory framework? Do you have a supply chain in place to create all the parts? Who's going to build those parts? Or the tools to service them? Oh and Reed's results need to be independently confirmed and tested, as is true of all science. Yeah, it might not take 100 years to get fusion reactors once you have a world famous guy promoting it, but it might take a lot longer to develop the kind of change you're talking about - and it probably falls outside the 12-15 year window.

Same with most of the other options for Stark and Pym.

Superman may not suffer physical fatigue, but emotional/psychological is a factor. The idea that there is no other Superman to take over doesn't quite fly in the shared universe where there's about 3 other people and 2 other animals with an "S" on their chest, never mind the other superheroes. I mean, that argument might make sense in Snyder's DCEU, but it doesn't map to the comics very well.

And the counter to the argument is that Clark Kent, reporter, spends his time fighting some of the battles to save lives that Superman can't punch and lift his way out of. And that guy should have a life too.

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 08:07 pm (UTC)
goattoucher: (Spidey)
From: [personal profile] goattoucher
"Reed develops fusion power, alright...but, who's going to develop the company that sells the first fusion reactors? Who is going to create the regulatory framework? Do you have a supply chain in place to create all the parts? Who's going to build those parts? Or the tools to service them?"

Tony Stark.

Money. Influence in the government. Manufacturing infrastructure already in place. Technology to produce the technology necessary for the automated construction of fusion reactors in a matter of months.

I don't mean to be pedantic, but we have a fifty five year old world in place, and it is -full- of super-genius billionaires.

As for independent testing, that is a very good point for mundane science (the kind we use) but Richards is literally without intellectual peer on Earth, but, having saved the world publicly on numerous occasions (while not a mutant) he is more trusted and beloved than any real world scientist could ever possibly be. The FF/RR seal of approval would be good enough for most.

Even then, he could always ship in Kree, Shi-Ar, and Inhuman scientists to check his math and give it the thumbs up.

I don't like the "Reed Richards is Useless" trope title, because he is not. He is hog tied by editorial. "Where the World of Wonder meets the Status Quo!" would be better.

That's what I can't get my head around: Guys as smart as the genius heroes not using their tech to make -huge- steps to improve the lot of mankind.

And, again, what about water and sanitation in undeveloped countries? Nowhere near the obstacles, and you would save millions of lives, not to mention giving people enough free time to pursue education and improve their way of life, allowing them to develop more easily.

People in those countries need the level of technology we use every day far more than we need super science here.

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-18 08:32 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
"I don't mean to be pedantic, but we have a fifty five year old world in place, and it is -full- of super-genius billionaires."

It certainly is. And THEY ARE DANGEROUS.

Ultron has committed LITERAL genocide. The Illuminati decided they were smarter than individual governments. World War Hulk is directly a result of their actions. CLOR. Hank Pym's bouts of mental illness. Tony Stark's addiction problems. Reed's God complex.

There are lots and lots of examples of those super-genius billionaires doing two things: losing their billions repeatedly and having their inventions and instabilities lead to widespread damage and harm. Half of their time is spent fixing mistakes of their own making. Reed invents a translation device, it nearly destroys New York. Tony decides someone may have used his technology, he attacks foreign powers and agents of his own government...during the COLD WAR. Hank Pym kidnaps his girlfriend and attacks his friends. Hank McCoy messes with the time stream so much HE BROKE IT.

I mean, you're not wrong that many of them aren't allowed by the writers to make actual, real long term improvements. On the other hand, the general public is and SHOULD BE suspicious of tech advances...and even when the heroes mean well, there are lots who simply DON'T. And major publisher comics is not about exploring the long-term effects of even on technological advance, let alone fifty years of fake ones.

Consider that even recent adoptions of things like cell phones was not quick. Consumer grade equipment existed in the 1950s...but wasn't useful outside of limited applications and locations for a long, long time (the so-called Zero-G network). Distribution of technology and deployment is far different than a one-off made to stop the Super Skrull. If it's not reliable 99.9% of the time, if it's not easy to use or maintain, if it's not safe, if it's not reasonably affordable...then its not going to suddenly be immediately available. And the economic impacts have to be considered. If you suddenly put major auto manufacturers out of business, what happens to their employees? The companies they buy materials from? The people who invest in them?

That's why comics can't tackle this stuff. It's big, messy and complicated. And if you don't want it flying off in full-on Sci-Fi directions where it totally stops representing the actual 'world outside your window' and turns into 'Minority Report' or 'Meet the Robinsons' or 'the Jetsons' or some other alternate near-or-not-so-near future...they have to just sort of conveniently ignore those sort of things. A single title can do stuff like that (something like Kirkman's Invincible, perhaps).

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] mr_cyn1cal
Going back to Pym and Stark - both of them have huge hang-ups (some valid, some not) about their science "falling into the wrong hands".

Which has some validity in-universe when you consider that the one application of a superhero universe is very well-explored in the Marvel timeline - the development of super-soldiers.

And within the Marvel Universe, the simple answer is "Just. DON'T."

Yes, you have the best case scenario in Steve Rogers...who still operates as a complete free agent with minimal oversight. But he's generally a nice guy.

Then you have Nuke. And every single product of the Weapon X program, which includes Wolverine, Deadpool and Sabretooth. Each one crazier, more lethal and more uncontrollable than the last.

If anything, the cautionary tale of Weapon X would make more organizations within the Marvel Universe more conservative in terms of applying new technology and science.

Re: About that...

Date: 2018-01-16 09:00 pm (UTC)
goattoucher: (Shield)
From: [personal profile] goattoucher
Very true. Alfred Nobel learned that the hard way.

But, again: Medical treatments. Elimination of disease. Clean electrical energy. Water and sanitation. These are different to weaponize.

Stark had a beef with his tech falling into the wrong hands because he made weapons. Pym Particles are not weapons, but they have ready military applications. The Super Soldier Program, Weapon Plus, and other human modification programs: all of the ones in the marvel universe were conceived, not to augment human health, but to produce better soldiers. The idea of weapons being weaponized should not limit the development of peaceful technologies.

Date: 2018-01-16 10:39 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (superman (red-&-gray))
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
It's questions like the one above, relative to superman: I know his parents taught him to be human, but with his personality, the idea that any time taken for himself would cost lives would mean that he simply would not take any time for himself.

I've always thought that the reason Superman could never exist in RL is that Clark would be crushed by the guilt. While he's drinking coffee or eating lunch someone's dying out there. He could have saved them! And so on and so on...

Date: 2018-01-16 10:50 pm (UTC)
beyondthefringe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] beyondthefringe
Lois: "Clark, why don't we ever make love anymore?"
Clark: "Because of the screaming."
Lois: "I-er-I'm sorry, I can try to be quieter. Maybe a pillow or something."
Clark: "No, that's not it at all. It's all the other screams I hear. Cries of pain, of rage. Cries for help. It's impossible to keep an erection while I can hear people suffering for hundreds, even thousands of miles. How can I enjoy myself when women are being raped, children are being beaten, people are being attacked or robbed or murdered?"
Lois: "..."

Wow, that got dark quickly. :(

Date: 2018-01-17 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] adriantullberg
"It could be worse."

"How?"

"You could stay at full mast *because* of the screaming?"

"... good point."

Date: 2018-01-17 08:19 am (UTC)
bruinsfan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bruinsfan
Don't give Zack Snyder any ideas. It was bad enough having The Dark Knight Returns mapped onto the DCEU, I don't want to see it happen with A Feast Unknown.

(Mind you, I'm not opposed to seeing Henry Cavill in a straightforward adaptation of the Farmer novel...)

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