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dogpoet

S2Hell hearts the DCU

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It's a pity all that stuff went out of the window after the Vertigo schism, really. I thought the bit in the Fear machine with him moaning that if a few bystanders got killed in a fight between a couple of those poncy media darling superheroes nobody would kick up any fuss about it was great.

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Agreed, definitely. More was lost in the separation of the Vertigo Universe and the DCU 'proper' than was gained, I'd say - most of the best Vertigo stories could still have been told more or less as they are with the presence of superheroes around the edges, while plenty of good story ideas became impossible once the schism went ahead.

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More was lost in the separation of the Vertigo Universe and the DCU 'proper' than was gained, I'd say - most of the best Vertigo stories could still have been told more or less as they are with the presence of superheroes around the edges, while plenty of good story ideas became impossible once the schism went ahead.

It definitely hobbled Swamp Thing and Animal Man even worse than the damage it did to Hellblazer, iirc.

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It makes no sense at all to take those two out of the main DCU.

The same could be said of Constantine, in all honesty.

Didn't stop them though, did it?

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Agreed, definitely. More was lost in the separation of the Vertigo Universe and the DCU 'proper' than was gained, I'd say - most of the best Vertigo stories could still have been told more or less as they are with the presence of superheroes around the edges, while plenty of good story ideas became impossible once the schism went ahead.

 

BTW, were most of you reading comics at that time?

 

I think that there were reasons to split them, but the result sorta made the reasoning irrelevant anyway. First, and hardly anybody remembers this, there were very few writers back then who could do what Moore, Gaiman and the other UK writers were doing at DC. If they tried, they would just screw up the characters irretrievably.

 

Second, the way the "mature" titles were going, unless you split them, few writers would be writing stories that kids would read anymore - all the DCU would be for an increasingly older audience.

 

However, both these eventualities happened anyway. Less skilled writers simply took the superficial "grim and gritty" elements and turned the books into bad copies of Moore and Miller's comics AND the younger readers left anyway.

 

Moore and Miller's books were dark, but they were intelligent as well. I'd also argue that Moore's regular pre-Crisis stories (as well as stories like Gaiman's LEGEND OF THE GREEN FLAME) showed that there was still plenty of potential for the DCU before COIE. However, not long after WATCHMEN, DKR and SANDMAN, everyone started doing dark books. It really doesn't matter if titles are grim and gritty or light and fun if they are also dumb and dumber.

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Second, the way the "mature" titles were going, unless you split them, few writers would be writing stories that kids would read anymore - all the DCU would be for an increasingly older audience.

 

Oh, how you tease.

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I rescued the above confluence of sad comics nerds from the Hellblazer Q&A thread.

(Trust me, I am just being provocative here.)

 

My take is that the DCU lost out but the vast majority Vertigo titles concerned were untroubled.

 

Swamp Thing and Animal Man being two titles that had a lot of history in the DCU, it could be said that "same old crossover-itis" was avoided at the cost of some continuity. But there is NOTHING in a story that requires the use of Batman, Superman or Lex Luthor.

 

Having said all that, the reasoning behind DC's decision (like Marvel's "no smoking" policy) is quite flawed, as has been proved by them doing so many "adult" superhero books under the DCU masthead.

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I'm still for John Constantine in the real world though.

But Swamp Thing and especially Animal Man were severly affected.

 

As a comprimise of sorts, I would be fine with John appearing in the DCU, but not for the inverse.

 

Anyway Animal Man is back, so do the same for Swamp Thing.

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I rescued the above confluence of sad comics nerds from the Hellblazer Q&A thread.

(Trust me, I am just being provocative here.)

 

My take is that the DCU lost out but the vast majority Vertigo titles concerned were untroubled.

 

Swamp Thing and Animal Man being two titles that had a lot of history in the DCU, it could be said that "same old crossover-itis" was avoided at the cost of some continuity. But there is NOTHING in a story that requires the use of Batman, Superman or Lex Luthor.

 

Having said all that, the reasoning behind DC's decision (like Marvel's "no smoking" policy) is quite flawed, as has been proved by them doing so many "adult" superhero books under the DCU masthead.

I think you've got that backwards, to be honest. Constantine wasn't seriously harmed by dumping huge chunks of continuity, but it didn't do him any good either, and it completely fucked up Animal Man and Swamp Thing (it's notable that the Brian K Vaughn Swamp Thing series would have worked a lot better inside the DCU than it did with just a couple of cameos from Constantine). Cross fertilisation between the two may have given some of the Vertigo stuff that stiffed a bit more life. (Not appropiate in every case, but it should be available for those writers who fancy a shot at it.) Even a few characters on the DC side of the division (Zatanna springs to mind, for some reason) didn't really prosper from it. Drawing arbritary distinctions between bits of what should be a large seamless lump of stuff weakens and impoverishes both sides.

As for nothing in a story requiring Superman, Batman or Lex Luthor, tell that to Gaiman: two of those gents are present at Morpheus' wake in the post Vertigo schism Sandman 72. The DCU was another source of story Gaiman dipped into on occasion, and the Sandman as a whole would have been a lot weaker without it. (No Facade or confrontation with the Kirby false Sandman, for a start...)

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All of those stories could be told with analogous characters.

 

We all know who the characters in the Wildstorm Universe are meant to be.

Supreme has managed okay.

 

And not having to tie DCU events into Hellblazer is a definite advantage.

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All of those stories could be told with analogous characters.

 

We all know who the characters in the Wildstorm Universe are meant to be.

Supreme has managed okay.

 

And not having to tie DCU events into Hellblazer is a definite advantage.

Most of them wouldn't have any great impact in any case, but the occasional reference never did Moore or Delano any harm.

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"Occasional reference doing no harm" is at odds with "It definitely hobbled Swamp Thing and Animal Man even worse than the damage it did to Hellblazer, iirc."

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"Occasional reference doing no harm" is at odds with "It definitely hobbled Swamp Thing and Animal Man even worse than the damage it did to Hellblazer, iirc."

Not really: doing no harm to something precludes hobbling or nobbling it any, I'd have said, and the removal of all the people in tights hitting each other stuff has left gaps in backstories and less material for writers to work with. You could argue that the first isn't an insurmountable problem (or even isn't a problem at all) but the latter is most likely a bad thing.

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It's only a bad thing if you need all that shit reconciled rather than taking a story on face value in the context it was published.

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Umm...that's what dogpoet just said, more or less.

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In brackets among the thread of what he was focussing on. And no, the "hobbling" of a writer to be creative rather than dig up a DCU staple is not "a bad thing".

 

The point of all that universe stuff is NOT to bring us better stories but to bring the companies an easy ride.

 

The last run of Swamp Thing suffered nothing from not being in the DCU, except a lack of fankid interest.

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In brackets among the thread of what he was focussing on. And no, the "hobbling" of a writer to be creative rather than dig up a DCU staple is not "a bad thing".

 

Ah, so you remember all those times when lazy writers used to bring Superman or Batman in to guest-star in Hellblazer too, do you? It was awful, wasn't it?

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It was to take the "adult content" that might frighten the wickle amewican kiddies. Or turn them into juvenile delinquents. The decision was made to separate out characters such as John Constantine and Swamp Thing so they could deal with more "adult" themes. On the whole, titles that had already set up this tone were not taken out of the DCU, but stories were disassociated. Certainly Swampy and Animal Man still appeared in the DCU from time to time but in a very constricted manner.

 

Kids who read Batman were no longer going to be lured over into the muddy brown world of Vertigo.

And we got to have bestiality and swearing.

 

In effect, most Vertigo books exist in their own universe, in that continuity is not vital between Lucifer and Books of Magic - although both should maintain links with Sandman because Neil Gaiman is God.

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Ah, so you remember all those times when lazy writers used to bring Superman or Batman in to guest-star in Hellblazer too, do you? It was awful, wasn't it?

 

Phantom Stranger was in Hellblazer, you know.

 

But let's just read behind your spectacularly clever sarcasm to suggest that if Hellblazer was not subject to such appearances, then it doesn't miss the DCU at all. One could also point out that Zatanna might have been the fanboys choice obvious DCU staple to which I was referring.

 

Still, please try and find an example of something that was actually lost in the schism.

Because absence of something that adds little to the story is nothing to worry about.

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One could also point out that Zatanna might have been the fanboys choice obvious DCU staple to which I was referring.

 

Was that decided by editorial, then? Because it was a one-issue tiny cameo that wasn't even mentioned on the front cover.

 

Still, please try and find an example of something that was actually lost in the schism.

 

That's not really fair, though. How can you bring up an example of something that never had the opportunity to be?

 

Here's what was lost: a lot of potential storylines.

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What are you asking?

 

If it clarifies, I was using a simpler example to deflate Mark's hyperbole.

 

But anyway, get writing kids:

 

http://www.dcdatabaseproject.com/wiki/index.php/Vertigo

 

That's not really fair, though. How can you bring up an example of something that never had the opportunity to be?

 

Here's what was lost: a lot of potential storylines.

 

Re your additional comments, Mark and Dogpoet et al are trying to suggest that the Vertigo books suffered.

Which I'd call a flawed sentiment based on nothing more than an affinity for the DCU.

And there are plenty of examples of the sort of thing they desire to be found in pre-schism days.

 

Someone's already mentioned the Metamorphic Woman story in Sandman, which was a fine story, but could easily have been told with analogous "back issues" to explain who she was. In fact the story barely requires a knowledge of who she is, because it is written well.

 

As a comics fan, I think the Dr Destiny stories in Sandman work well, but Gaiman could have carried even that one - but would the series have survived for so long without the initial nerd-patronage?

 

WHich is certainly not the same as a lot of good stories being lost.

 

Still it's a great big shame that Superman and Captain America aren't in the same universe any more.

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I can't see there's any question that Swamp Thing and Animal did suffer from the partitioning (was Doom Patrol still going at that point?) It didn't do Shade any harm, but then Milligan's character wasn't the same bloke as the badly dressed type from the '70s in any case, so it didn't take any harm from that.

My own feeling is that stripping out all of the DCU stuff from those two (and, to a lesser extent Hellblazer) has slightly impoverished them as this was part of the background and now it's been removed. Lost potential is always a bad thing, even if said potential wasn't needed (which seems to be your own argument), and I'd definitely question that Swamp Thing or Animal Man ever belonged outside of the DCU in the first place. I'd say that they didn't and the partition was ill considered in the first place, but you obviously disagree. Fair enough, but that may not leave much room for a debate.

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Ade - my 'hyperbole' was a response to your comment about writers having to be creative, rather than "digging up DC staples" - something which, as has been pointed out, didn't really happen anyway.

 

James and Dogpoet are right - it's about lost potential, and the ill-thought-out way in which the 'schism' was executed. Grant Morrison's Animal Man and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, as two of the most significant pre-Vertigo titles which prompted the editorial shift in the first place, are both intrinsically tied to the DCU in a way which could not be replicated through the use of analogues and implication - the potential to tell more stories like that is something which has been lost, right there. The situation in those titles is not at all comparable to, say, Moore's Supreme (which you mentioned earlier) - the latter series relied on the audience's awareness of the innate, fundamental differences between the original Superman mythos and the Wildstorm version for much of its effectiveness. Supreme and Darius Dax are not simply analogies for Superman Lex Luthor - in Moore's hands, they're metatextual commentaries on them, which is a largely separate discussion.

 

Besides, a more pertinent question would be this: what has been gained? It's arguable that, say, the Metamophic Woman story wouldn't have been substantially worse had the character used been a new, made-up equivalent (although I'd suggest that a certain nuance would have been lost - there's a certain neatness to using a long-forgotten character to tell a story about a long-forgotten character which wouldn't quite be carried over into the analogous version you suggest), but it wouldn't have been any better either.

 

Claims of "protecting the children" aside (which are, as pointed out earlier in this thread, dubious at best), what purpose was actually served by severing the two universes in the first place?

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