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The Real Reason

There are things in comics which we talk about and take sides on, and yet this very attention makes us miss some obvious points. We get so caught up in the popular byways of the point that we depopulate the highways of the main point. If someone points out those main points, we are suddenly surprise. So let’s take a trip along an underused main road and find out the real reason…



The real reason people didn’t like Halle Berry in X-Men was because she had flat hair. That’s it. Don’t tell me, “You know what happens to a toad that gets hit by lightning?” That could have been a cool line and people would have been trying to put it in the last election.

“Do you know what happens to a Pepe…?”

But they didn’t take to it and they didn’t use it and it’s her flat hair.

I mean, look at her in the comic books. You know, those things, where she told colossus that she was so unhappy that Professor X convinced her to wear these scraps of cloth (a bikini) but she would wear them for the sake of convention.


That’s more like it, isn’t it. This is the Storm you want, with the big, bouffant hair that flows and and shifts and reminds you she is a fertility goddess who was founding bringing rain to her people.

Then she became an X-man her people died of thirst and hunger or something. But everyone hated flat-haired Halle Berry for taking the part. Don’t believe me? Of course you don’t. I am yet to make you afraid by pulling up the perfect example of my point.

Here it comes.

Oh, yeah. Medusa of the ultimate bouffant hair was described as looking like Morticia Addams without any colors being alike, not even the skin color between two Caucasians. It was all the flat hair and a lot of commentators said that explicitly. Marvel tried to add some bad CGI hair movement on her but it looked, well, like she had cancer of the hair and no one felt sorry for her.



And you all thought it was the glowing red demonic eyes, and none of you noticed the picture is obsolete. That’s his old suit. What that means is DC thinks because they want some change to be bright and fresh and perk your interest, it will do so. They don’t have to make him human.

Where they do – his friend, his son, and his friend’s son and friend of his son – it works. He wants to mope in a movie and it doesn’t.

Superman is only interesting when you think more of the man than the Super.

Think of the opening scene of a reboot: Clark gets dressed in shirt, cuff links, tie, pants, shoes, suitcoat. All on his own in a bedroom of an older house. As he dresses, he brushes everything to perfection. As best they can. They all do that. Believe me.

There’s a knock at the door. He tells his mother to come in. She does.

“You’ve got to stop using your x-ray vision.”

“It’s the creak of that floorboard. It’s something Pa…” he breaks for a second. “It’s something Pa never got around to fixing.”

We’ve seen Jonathan Kent die. We have visited his grave. We’ve never seen his funeral and more specifically we’ve never seen Clark at his father’s funeral. We’ve never seen that moment when man overcomes Super. Why did Jonathan die (excluding imitating Spider-Man moments)? What if his son was saving the world from Darkseid and couldn’t get his father to the hospital? Now being Super doesn’t seem so great, personally. But it is right to defend the world.

For that matter, look at the consistent rejection of Lois in the movies. People don’t like her. Recognize the truth.

Superman will save the world, then another world, then the universe, then another universe, then three thousand people in danger, several pets, then do some useful charity work where you can say this has improved permanently because of what he did and then people will see Lois Lane and wonder how he got so lucky.

No one thinks Superman is lucky because the Lois Lane of any of the movies loves him. They don’t have the chemistry so that we believe he might give up that power for her, and she wouldn’t let him give it up because the world needs him. Because she doesn’t have that sense of scale we don’t get that scale. It’s all reduced to personal fights.

In the end, though, because he can do it and doesn’t make a sacrifice in doing it, we discount that he can do it or we’d have to do it, ourselves.


There was a time when the Legion of Superheroes was so popular it pushed Superboy out of his own comic, and they did it twice. Then it got screwed up and in the end they put a bunch of Legionnaires in the twenty-first century in Legion Lost and left them there. They stopped the comic without a resolution to the story. There is little that says screwed up more than stopping in the middle in the story.

There have been many theories. One was that there were too many characters in the story – anybody tell that to Game of Thrones? Didn’t think so.

The first mistake was shown when DC kept denying that Earth 2 had a Legion. They had no Superboy on Earth 2 to inspire them. So, Robin can’t inspire them? Speedy? Star-Spangled kid? The origin story was rewritten so Superboy wasn’t even in it, but when he was the inspiration he was the flagship of the company.

The Earth 2 Legion might not have required every member have a super power, which would have made a contrast with the Earth 1 Legion. But it wasn’t necessary (except for fans like me).

The character of the Legion changed. Originally members except for Superboy had apparently weak powers. They had to work together. Temporarily clone oneself into three (Triplicate Girl), throw lightning bolts (Lightning Lad), turning invisible (Invisible Kid), for freak’s sake inflating and bouncing (Bouncing Boy). The weakness of the powers was important enough that Starboy started out with powers similar to Superboy but was weakened to inducing mass into objects.

Then Ultra Boy joined. Originally (looking at his origin story in Superboy) he seems to have been designed just to have visual powers (see through things, heat things up). But he quickly got Superboy-like powers that he could only use one at a time. Then they added Mon-El who has the same powers as Superboy. Supergirl who was underused. The Legion started getting an A-list.

It survived that change. It survived it very well.

What the Legion did not survive, when the sales started going down, was when the background was changed. It wasn’t that they got more realistic space ships or anything like that. It was that the United Planets changed.

It started as a place where things were going well and the Legion just dealt with outbreaks of criminal activity. But DC decided to make a more “adult” comic, took most of the the clothes off the female characters and made the territory of the United Planets rife with production plants going out of business, pension funds disappearing, political corruption rampant at the planetary and interplanetary level, invasions, and still supervillains.

Can you shift from an optimistic world to a disastrous, dirty one without a lot of backlash from fans?


Can you change significant aspects of characters and background without backlash from fans?


Can you put people in a position with an easy solution and quickly take that off the table without fans wanting it back on the table?

No. They’ll still wonder why the Legion Lost doesn’t ask Superman for a lift to the 31st century.



Genres have particular requirements and you can’t escape them. You can exceed them by adding in another layer. So 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea does have the new technology and its implications as science fiction requires. But it also makes Captain Nemo and his hostages each represent one of the four elements. So Nemo is fire, Conseil is air, Professor Aronnax (a marine biologist) is water, and Ned Land is obviously earth. The additional layer doesn’t have to exist.

In the same way, Frankenstein, or: The New Prometheus keeps to genre. But the monster is a giant mongol (made out of Anglo Saxons – somehow). It is sometimes said this story is the first ‘yellow peril’ story. But yellow peril? Given the way the character is treated in both editions of the book and the themes in Mary Shelley’s later The Last Man, I wouldn’t give you a pass on that one.

What do you never have in Batman or Punisher? Probably. Never do you get the Punisher saying ‘it’s probably that guy,’ and then shooting that guy, mutilating his face and killing him. Batman doesn’t arrest or beat up people who ‘probably’ did it.

We have to see these are evil people so we can feel comfortable with them getting stomped and and shot. You can’t take out the evil they do, which they have to revel in and know what they’re doing. And the retribution must be individual, not happenstance.

In the same way, Captain America is about dealing with things as a patriot. Patriotism might change (man out of time) and he spent a lot of success years in the seventies trying to reformulate his own patriotism.

If he suddenly joins Hydra, you’ve broken the genre. People won’t read it, and they didn’t. You can’t break the genre, you can only start over in another genre. People didn’t like it because it wasn’t the genre they wanted. Captain America deals with being just to everyone as part of the issue of being patriotic. He doesn’t join Hydra for any length of time.



I know what you’re thinking. People hate it because Peter Parker acts like a total wimp and throws out his life and his wife for an aunt who told him not to be so stupid and who could die at any moment from a bladder hemorrhage and the whole story is c**p.

No, that’s not it.

Then you think it’s because it an poorly written and arbitrary, tossing out years of plot and character development because of a demon est machina with a villain who has very poorly described motivations and a Peter Parker who is suddenly out of character to make a bad decision so the story goes where editorial decision wants it to go. And in all it’s bad writing which would be rejected as a story from any reputable publisher.

But that’s not it either.

Then it’s because people really liked Mary Jane and detested her being thrown out of stories like that.

Still no. After all, did anyone object to the non-Mary Jane MJ in the movie? And what did Mary Jane do before she got bounced? She stood in clothing stores talking about how dangerous it was for Peter as Spider-Man. Lots of ‘I’m so worried about the danger he’s in that I never think of the wives of firefighters, soldiers, and the police.’

The real reason people hated it is simple.

They’d already done it. It was a total repeat and people had had enough.

Not only that, Gwen Stacy has stayed dead nearly as long as Bucky. And another thing, after she died Marvel starting putting out stupid(er) flashback story lines which made her every bad thing a publisher wanting you to accept a popular character’s death can go through.

I think they subconsciously feared Marvel was going to do the same to Mary Jane and they’d already had enough of that.



I don’t mean just in the last movie. I mean ever since his second reformation. The first time he changed from an arms dealer (with red hair) to a psychopathic technological genius (totally bald). They didn’t like him in Superman v Batman so much that no one, I mean no one, noticed the Easter egg that he was red headed and got shaved bald.


I love DC, I have always said DC has the better characters and Marvel uses its characters better. Look at the C-listers Marvel/Disney has made into movie stars.

But that’s not what I’m talking about this time. Luthor was changed from a technological genius to a businessman, as if there is a difference (Gates, Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk and others – they’re all Lex Luthors in that they’re techies in business and surely you could get a story out of that). But they got rid of anything positive in Lex Luthor. Why? Black and white hero and villain is not that interesting in an ambiguous world, but people think they are.

The pre-industry-is-bad-Luthor, he was the hero of the planet Lexor, which he rebuilt for the good of its inhabitants. To deprive him of his good intentions it to deprive him of a place in complex mature literature.

Put it this way. A perfectly logical way to look at it.

Darkseid beats the crap out of Superman.

Or Doomsday beats the **ap out of Superman.

And then when Superman is defeated and there are no superheroes left and the world is about to end and if you can’t survive by peeing your pants and you realize you don’t need a plan B, there’s a sudden blast that knocks the bad bastard guy for a loop.

“I’m not letting Superman take over the Earth, so I’ll be long damned before I let you do it.”

Now you’ve got everybody’s attention. And it’s perfectly in keeping with his motives in the rest of the story. I mean, a motive comes before action but too often comic book writers create the action and then try to find some half-assed motive for it. Bad writing. Start with the scene you need, create the motive for it, then work out what else that motive might make them do so they can surprise us with something that is consistent with their characters.


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