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Shared universes .. good or bad for fiction?
You couldn't swing a mutated amphibian without hitting a trope or cliché.
Heroes meet. They initially distrust each other. They slug it out. A danger threatens. The masked Marvel and the Dashing Crusader put aside they differences in order to face this problem. They become friends. It's a cliché, but it's also how many friendships develop in the real world, usually without webs, capes and jet-packs.
Acrimonious introductions have become the trope of movies, television shows and comic books. In the aforementioned Batman- Green Hornet team-up the Hornet(actually Britt Reid) visits Gotham City to meet with his old friend Bruce Wayne(Batman). The Hornet is viewed as a criminal, much as Batman was in his early days. The novel difference here is that The Green Hornet and Kato encourage the idea of the underworld allegiance as it allows them access to the plans and inner-workings of these nefarious ne'er-do-wells..
Batman and Robin meet the Green Hornet and Kato
Teamups: for better or worse
Batman first teamed up with Superman, not in the comics, but on the radio. Years later Batman and Robin would team up, and fight against, the Green Hornet and Kato. The Justice Society is seen as the first Team book, but a more elemental meeting occurred when Jim Hammond first faced off against Namor McKenzie. This was the first of many battles between the original android Human Torch and Marvel's first mutant the Submariner.
These team-ups were amazing and justifiably regarded as important moments for these characters but they set the tone for more frequent meetings and a utility belt full of tropes and cliches.
Shared Universes ... this is nuts
The House of Ideas Promises and Potential
Marvel's Shared Universe
While the Fantastic Four are justifiably the first family of Marvel Comics it is without a doubt the Avengers who truly ushered in the expanded universe at the House of ideas. The All-Winners Squad brought together Captain America and Bucky, the original Human Torch and Toro, and Prince Namor the Submariner. Later retcons would establish the Liberty Legion and the Invaders as predecessors, but it was Iron Man,The Hulk,Thor, Ant Man and the Wasp who were the founding 'family' of the expanded Marvel universe. When the Avengers were born to fight the foes no single hero could stand against, comics evolved. The Justice League had grown from the ashes of the Justice Society, and as great as they were they didn't have the same depth as the idea that was the Avengers. The idea so strong that even the loss of the original Avengers and the inauguration of Cap's Kookie Quartet could not dim the luster.
For the most part this was Spiderman and a Marvel hero(perhaps a Marvel team) meeting, fighting, eating Chicken Shawarma and hanging out for 23 pages. Occasionally a licensed character like Rom would appear.
Marvel Two in one
Marvel Two-In-One was an American comic book series published by Marvel Comics that featured the Fantastic Four member, the Thing, in a different team-up each issue with a different character. For the most part this was Benjamin J. Grimm (The Thing) and a Marvel hero/heroine(perhaps a Marvel team) meeting, fighting, having brunch and hanging out for 23 pages. Occasionally a licensed character like Conan would appear.
DC's Shared Universe
Brave and the Bold
Legion of Super Heroes
Crisis of Infinite Connections
The greater good
By combining characters, by cross-pollinating realities and seeding elements from one storyline into others writers(and audiences) have access to a richer source of stories.
Batman and Superman,Spiderman and Superman(Yes, it did happen) The Justice League, the Avengers, Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys. Even Night at the Museum combined realities to good effect.
Writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill brought forth the League of Extraordinary gentlemen, a meeting between some of literature's greatest heroes and most vile villains. This new reality set in a steampunk alternate universe is a feast for the eyes and a trail of crumbs for fertile minds. Mina Murray is tasked to recruit of group of disparate and desperate adventures; which includes Allan Quatermain, Hawley Griffin, Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde, Captain Nemo and the immortal gender-fluid Orlando.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Bad to the bone
Some unions shouldn't happen. Archie and the Punisher was fun in a stupid kind of way, but it wasn't informative of story or character in any sort of way.
The Amalgam universe meeting between DC and Marvel characters created nothing like a good character moment. The meeting between Star Trek and the Legion of Superheroes was actually fun, but presented the newest incarnation of Jim Kirk as a drooling horn-dog.
Watchmen ... a shared revision
DC Comics: The expnding Universe
Comic-book tropes across two universes
Some of them just want to be used by you.
Which shared universe makes best use its characters?
The elephant in the room
In fact it's a herd of elephants. They're mutated, traumatised, orphaned, leaving or joining a clandestine organization, discovering their sexuality or having parental issues. These are all good story points, but not when they happen to the same fricking elephant fortnightly! The problem with the shared universes is that these tweaks reboots and revisions inevitably create ripples and outright tsunamis across the fragile landscape of said universe. SpiderVerse was fun, as was secret wars, Crisis et al, and whatever event happened in Image, Dynamite and Archie last week.
Rawhide and Dakota
Superhero Teams from various universes
Todd McFarlane Productions
America's Best Comics
Dark Horse Comics
Dynamite Entertainment IDW Publishing Image Comics Marvel Comics Aardvark-Vanaheim AC Comics Action Lab Comics AiT/Planet Lar Alias Enterprises Alternative Comics Another Rainbow Publishing Antarctic Press Arcade Comics Archaia Entertainment Archie Comics Aspen MLT Avatar Press Azteca Productions Black Mask Studios Bluewater Productions Bongo Comics Group Conundrum Press Devil's Due Publishing Drawn and Quarterly Eureka Productions Fantagraphics Books First Second Books Hermes Press Kodansha Comics USA Last Gasp Legendary Comics Milestone Media Mirage Studios NBM Publishing Oni Press Papercutz Platinum Studios Radical Comics Radio Comix Rip Off Press Seven Seas Entertainment Shadowline Sirius Entertainment Slave Labor Graphics Top Cow Productions Top Shelf Productions Udon Entertainment Valiant Comics Vertical Viper Comics Viz Media WaRP Graphics Zenescope Entertainment Aircel Comics All-American Publications American Comics Group Atlas Comics Atlas/Seaboard Comics Awesome Comics Blackthorne Publishing Caliber Comics
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Vortex Comics Warren Publishing WildStorm
Vampires, and the other children of the night
Vampires have existed in Literature for a while. Going back to James Malcom Rymer’s Varney the Vampire (1845) and certainly best represented by Bram Stoker's Count Dracula. Dracula and Mary Shelly's Frankenstein represent the best of Gothic storytelling, and in may ways two early examples of modern novels, but Stoker's Dracula was not the first. Stoker managed to combine the best elements from previous stories and marry that to his own experiences and relationships in the theater.
Dravula became not only the best representation of the vampire mythos but he was also the character that other characters were linked to and other mythologies could be built upon.
- Dracula’s forefathers: Lord Ruthven, Varney and Carmilla | Skulls in the Stars
The depiction of the vampire which we see in most of contemporary horror fiction has its roots in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897). Of course, vampires have lurked in the shadows of folklore through recorded history, and Stoker drew upon that folklore.