Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Arcs De Triomphe


Ten "Arcs" that Most Superheroes Must Endure Even Though Almost None of Them Should

  • The Year In Space
  • A Shadowy Figure is Deploying All My Enemies Against Me, in Sequence
  • What Do You Mean I've Been Replaced?
  • And That's Why I Need This New Costume!
  • My City Has Been Destroyed
  • Well, Then, I'll Just Operate WITHOUT Official Sanction
  • Someone's Taking Away My Life, Piece by Piece
  • I Must Reclaim My Life, Piece By Piece
  • I Never Thought of Myself as Leader, But Now I Have to be
  • You Mean, Everything I Knew About Myself Was a Lie...?!



38 comments:

Matt said...

Man. It's funny because it's true.

Sea_of_Green said...

How about, dying for no apparent reason, and then being brought back to life for no apparent reason? ;-)

Brian said...

Someone is targeting those closest to me! My friends and family are in danger, and my secret identity is at risk!

Mike Loughlin said...

I didn't want to be a hero [anymore], but now I must [again]!

Patrick C said...

Batman has spent plenty of time in space, but was he actually lost there for a year?

Superman has, Green Lantern(s) have, Starfire, Animal Man, Adam Strange, Starman. Can't think of who else.

All the others are totally true.

What about "My sales are slipping so we'll have a huge change of direction that doesn't really make any sense and actually drives away the readers that have stuck with the book for this long."

Scipio said...

"I didn't want to be a hero [anymore], but now I must [again]!"

Oh, that didn't occur to me; I don't read Marvel, LOL!

Jacob T. Levy said...

The Shadowy Figure plot is a classic and indispensable! Don't throw out the baby with the Hush bathwater-- after all, that (combined with 'taking away my life, piece by piece') is the arc of What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, too.

Come to think of it, I think I'll protest 'taking away/ reclaim my life, piece by piece,' too. The problem with that arc is that no hero should go through that cycle more than once. It was brilliant with Daredevil once; it's boring the 47th time Daredevil does it.

SallyP said...

Hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head.

Teukro said...

And what about the whole "this new nemesis turned out to be someone i met in college/high school/kindergarten and now he hates me and knows all my secrets"?

Jeff R/ said...

Well, you can add Swamp Thing to the list of people who had the Year In Space thing.

There's also the related 'bouncing around the timestream' plotline that quite a few characters have had to put up with.

A lot of these are basic stories that can be done well or badly...I don't see any real reason why 'The Shadowy Figure' is inherently a worse story than non-list-making 'My Powers...Suddenly, They're Gone/Different', say...

totaltoyz said...

"After all these months....(blank) has returned to my life!"

Most of the examples I can think of are Marvel: Liz Allan (Spider-Man), Gwen Stacy (also), Marianne Rodgers (Iron Man), Sharon Carter (Captain America), Karen Page (Daredevil), etc. About half of those could also be "It's--(blank)! But it can't be! You're dead!)

totaltoyz said...

And a popular one at DC is, "I'm the (blank)now, and I have to prove myself worthy to everyone who knew the old (blank)!"

Kyle Rayner, Jaime Reyes, Aquafake Bored of Atlantis, Connor Hawke, etc...

Otter said...

Let me just add my favorite: it's RAGNAROK (again) !!!!

On second thought, that probably only relates to Thor. My bad.

On a more genuine note, how about the road tour through middle america to discover more about his/herself as a hero. Cameo appearances by regional heroes and villains abound! This also follows the someone-is-taking-my-life-apart-piece-by-piece arc....

Sean T. Collins said...

Don't forget the X-Men (multiple times) and the Hulk for the outer-space sabbatical list.

totaltoyz said...

Oh, and lest we forget:

"Let someone else be (blank)! I quit!!"

Iron Man, Captain America, Green Lantern, the Atom, Batman I think...any others?

Brushwood said...

lol, wow.
off the top of my head:
1. Starman "stars my destination"
2. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
3. All Star Superman #9
4. Blue Beetle, I can't believe it's not the JL

oh never mind, too many examples for the last few!

Scipio said...

"the arc of What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, too."

And it was GREAT there, Jacob, for two reasons (other than a great writer):

1. it was the LAST Superman story, so it was an appropriate finale;

2. it was a STORY, not a frickin' year-long arc.

Arcs, as any Biblical scholar will tell you, are just time-killers for treading water while waiting to start life anew.

totaltoyz said...

Arcs, as any Biblical scholar will tell you, are just time-killers for treading water while waiting to start life anew.

THAT....is beautiful.

jonnyquest037 said...

You know, thinking about it, I'm really amazed that no one at DC or Marvel has thought to put all those substitute heroes on a team together. SOMEONE would want to read the advetnures of Jean-Paul Valley, Artemis, John Henry Irons, Arthur Curry Jr., Ryan Choi and Kyle Rayner all together, right?

Or at Marvel, we could read the adventures of John Walker, Thunderstrike, War Machine & others I'm probably mercifully forgetting.

Scipio said...

Jonny, I guess you didn't read my post of December 12, 2005...!

Steve Mitchell said...

Also: I've lost my superpowers (at least temporarily), but I still have to fight a supervillain to prove that I'm a hero even without the powers.

Most recently seen with Superman in Action Comics in the six-part Legion story.

Jeff R. said...

Hm. Let's try a case-study, here. The Flash (Wally West).

No Years in Space, but at least one bout of Bouncing Through the Timesteam and a couple of Trapped In a Parallel Dimensions, both of which seem completely analagous.

When All of his Enemies get Deployed Against him, though, it's almost always in parallel rather than sequentially, whether or not a Shadowy Figure is involved.

Been replaced multiple times (by John Fox, Walter West, and Bart Allen that I can think of off the top of my head.) And is a replacement of a replacement himself.

New Costume made of Speed Force, check.

Keystone/Central City tends not to be Destroyed so much as Misplaced, on a couple of occasions. So another partial hit.

At least one of the Parallel Dimensions was one where he had less Official Sanction than the average Costumed Vigilante.

The next two are really one big arc, really. And one that's never really come down on Wally, although there are a couple of arcs where Linda is in hiding, erased from existance, or afflicted by Amnesia to get partial credit in.

The 'Leadership Arc' is tougher to fit, although the related version with 'Parent' or 'Mentor' would score a hit.

Everything a Lie: Well, there's the Speed Force reveal, of course. And the 'Barry mindwiped people' reveal post-IC. But no full-on, Swamp Thing-level reinventions...

So, no complete misses, but more than a few only-partial hits.

Juan Arteaga said...

> "After all these months....
> (blank) has returned to my life!"

Barry Allen makes a living with that plot!

Also, a plot nobody has mentioned yet:

I am having a dream sequence / Traveled to another dimension where all my friends and enemies look like characters from Alice in Wonderland / Wiard of Oz / Fairy Tales!

Anonymous said...

"My powers are threatening to kill me / consume me!"

plok said...

"In the future, I'm a villain!"

Jacob T. Levy said...

O good lord, plok is right. That arc needs a stake driven though its creatively-barren heart...

Frank Lee Delano said...

Did anyone mention Wonder Woman yet? She spent 6 months or more in space bondage with space pirates during the Messner-Loebs run...

Anonymous said...

How many characters have turned into energy/mutated further beyond their original form?

Geez even Superman fell into this one.

Lauren

Derek said...

Someone needs to add these to TVTropes immediately.

In fact, I bet some are already there.

I'd check, but I know from experience that if I click one single link on that site, I'll spend the next six hours reading more about Pokemon or somesuch than I ever wanted to know.

totaltoyz said...

There's also the related 'bouncing around the timestream' plotline that quite a few characters have had to put up with.

Well, one of my all-time favorite "story arcs" used that idea, but before it became trite: Marvel Team-Up #'s 41-46, 1975. (I acknowledge that some of those issues were done as deus ex machinas to promote series that were on the verge of cancellation, such as Killraven and Deathlok; but Mantlo made it work for me.)

Frank Lee Delano said...

Dipping into series at or nearing cancellation is always the best. Creators are usually fans hoping to save the book, and regardless, they have tons more storytelling latitude.

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

"Or at Marvel, we could read the adventures of John Walker, Thunderstrike, War Machine & others I'm probably mercifully forgetting."

There was an Avengers miniseries about 15 years ago that did exactly that - Avengers: The Termanatrix Objective, if I am remembering this awful title correctly. Awful series as well, dealing with Kang continuity (Marvel is periodically obsessed with clearing up Kang continuity, something that makes even long-time Avengers fans want to die).

Otherwise, yeah, this is an amazing list. It is downright bizarre just how many major superheroes from both companies - and even the major Image heroes, for goodness' sake! - have experienced all these story cycles. It is downright depressing...

Reality-Man said...

You Mean, Everything I Knew About Myself Wasn´t a Lie After All...?!

Anonymous said...

I was going to go into detail about "The Terminatrix Objective", but I can't improve upon what you said. Except I actually liked it.

Bet you didn't know that Kang actually conquered the 20th century. Oh, not in the sense of military conquest, but in terms of shaping technological advancement to his liking. He'd introduce a piece of technology here or inspire a genius there, and shaped the 20th century to his liking. I think that's pretty cool; if nothing else it explains the availability of high tech in 1940.

I guess that works out to "Your whole world is a lie!"

Jonathan Nolan said...

And I quote:

"1 reviews | Write a review

Batman and the Outsiders
Issue #7:

DC May 2008

With Metamorpho still lost in space, Batman kicks his rescue mission into high gear! Meanwhile, the Outsiders are neck-deep in trouble of their own…deep in the heart of China!"

Also Batman and the Outsiders... Been done before innit? Cycles within cycles. Interest will be rekindled. Interest will die. Comics will be published. Comics will be cancelled. And please god let the current Skankgirl version of Supergirl die die die.

jonnyquest037 said...

Well, of course YOU thought of banding the Substitute Icons together, Scip. What I'm amazed at is that no one at DC or Marvel has done it as of yet, not even in a one-shot.

totaltoyz said...

Well, of course YOU thought of banding the Substitute Icons together, Scip. What I'm amazed at is that no one at DC or Marvel has done it as of yet, not even in a one-shot.

Oh, but they did. It was called Justice League International.

David said...

Journey through the past, to a mythical land of archaic costume design