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Old October 10 2008, 06:03 PM   #1
Lapis Exilis
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Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Mostly everyone these days notices how comics are influencing other media - that is, how they are providing materials for movies and tv (Smallville, for example, and assuming that Heroes is primarily an original comic book on television). But comics have almost always absorbed successful ideas from the media that they spin off. Kryptonite came from the Superman radio show, Batgirl came from the Batman television series, etc.

So, for all you folks who read the monthlies regularly - has the latest spate of highly successful superhero movies and tv brought any new ideas or looks to the comics? And what has the history of this been since the modern age of superhero movies; counting that as beginning with Superman: The Movie?

I know it's generally considered that John Byrne's reimagining of Krypton Post-Crisis (can you still refer to the DC timeline that way now that there have been fourteen or so other "Crises"? But I digress...) was influenced by S:TM. And I recall that the look of the Batman comics was pretty seriously influenced by the Burton movies, particularly the architecture of Gotham City, and that this happened fairly rapidly. I seem to recall there was some talk about Chloe Sullivan being introduced into the comics, but I don't know if that ever happened.

I'm mostly curious to know if things like Raimi's Spider-Man movies, Iron Man, or The Dark Knight seem to be having any influence over the comics. From what I've heard about what's happening in comics these days, I got to thinking how far removed they are from the movie visions, since comics seem to be very heavily into massive universe-wide team ups, and ever more fantastic villains and situations. I try to pick some up every now and then, but their tendency toward sheer fantasy which has next to no connection, even symbolically, to what's happening in the real world, just isn't to my taste. The movies on the other hand (well, maybe not Spidey) have at least started, with Iron Man and TDK, to go for some more direct allegory on topical issues. It seemed to me, while thinking about it, that it would be very difficult for comics to absorb influences from these movies, but they've been such huge successes that I don't see how they can't at least try to pull the comics towards their interpretations a little.

Thoughts?
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Old October 10 2008, 06:08 PM   #2
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Spider-Man was being heavily influenced by the movies - him gaining biological webshooters for a start.

However, Brand New Day has undone a lot of that. Yes, it's made the book possibly a lot more accessible to people jumping on (perhaps having seen the movies) but it's back to old fashioned Spider-Man stories. He's a poor photographer/student who lives with his Aunt May again. His web-shooters are mechanical devices filled with a fluid of his invention, the stupid stingers are gone, he can't communicate with spiders etc.

I don't read Iron Man's own monthly but he's in virtually every other book these days because he's The Boss. Movie Tony Start is not a lot like comic book Tony Stark.

Chloe never happened to the best of my knowledge.
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Old October 10 2008, 08:17 PM   #3
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

i know i saw a Two-Face cover recently (i think it was for Nightwing or Robin) and his scarred half was a lot more like Aaron Eckhart than the lurid green, purple or greeny-blue comicy scarring i've seen before...
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Old October 10 2008, 08:33 PM   #4
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Aside from specific plot points, movies and TV have a lot of influence on comics these days in the sense that more and more screenwriters are also becoming comic-book writers -- as well as the reverse. You have people like J. Michael Straczynski and Joss Whedon writing comics, and people like Jeph Loeb and Mark Verheiden writing for TV. Plenty of crossover.
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Old October 10 2008, 08:46 PM   #5
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Christopher wrote: View Post
Aside from specific plot points, movies and TV have a lot of influence on comics these days in the sense that more and more screenwriters are also becoming comic-book writers -- as well as the reverse. You have people like J. Michael Straczynski and Joss Whedon writing comics, and people like Jeph Loeb and Mark Verheiden writing for TV. Plenty of crossover.
I heard that Jon Favreau recently wrote a Iron Man miniseries for Marvel.
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Old October 10 2008, 08:53 PM   #6
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Yeah, he did. I think people said it was pretty mediocre though.

The one tie-in I do remember is the fact that the whole black costume thing made it into the comics when Spider-man 3 came out.
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Old October 10 2008, 11:00 PM   #7
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

The latest volume of Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction has a lot of the movie in it, both in terms of writing and visually (though not the use of actors' likenesses); Fraction has been drafted to help with Iron Man 2, in a case of the influence going back to the movies. Of course, the movie is just playing on the same themes the comic does (same with The Dark Knight).
Lapis Exilis wrote: View Post
I try to pick some up every now and then, but their tendency toward sheer fantasy which has next to no connection, even symbolically, to what's happening in the real world, just isn't to my taste. The movies on the other hand (well, maybe not Spidey) have at least started, with Iron Man and TDK, to go for some more direct allegory on topical issues.
If you like that sort of thing, you should read the current run on Captain America.
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Old October 11 2008, 01:36 AM   #8
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Hermiod wrote: View Post
His web-shooters are mechanical devices filled with a fluid of his invention, the stupid stingers are gone, he can't communicate with spiders etc.
That's probably for the best. If Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys has taught me anything, it's that talking to spiders only leads to trouble, usually in the form of obnoxious, unwanted, long-lost relatives showing up and stealing your fiancee's virginity. Peter Parker's life is complicated enough without all that to worry about.
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Old October 11 2008, 01:48 AM   #9
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Hermiod wrote: View Post
His web-shooters are mechanical devices filled with a fluid of his invention, the stupid stingers are gone, he can't communicate with spiders etc.
WTF? Talking to spiders? Who comes up with this shit? Who does he think he is Aquaman?
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Old October 11 2008, 03:06 AM   #10
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

^Spider-Man communicating with Spiders, as well as a lot of other retcons/changes, happened during the J. Michael Stryzanski run (Yes, the same JMS from Babylon 5), which featured a lot of controversial retcons, although according to JMS a good chunk of them were Quesada's mandates and not his own. Basically, Spider-Man's powers didn't come from radiation but from some mystical energy (The radiation only killed the Spider) or something like that.

Anyway, on to other influences:

-For a while in the X-men comics, the X-men wore black leather similar to the films. The look of some of the villains was likewise altered to reflect the films, such as Toad, Mystique, Lady Deathstryke and others . During X2, William Stryker was brought back after not appearing for years, and was working with Lady Deathstryke. Also, whereas the X-mansion had previously only housed a few students, it became more of a 'mutant high' than ever before when the X-men went public during Morrison's run. Eventually a good chunk of this was undone, with the X-men reverting more or less to a more 'classic' look. However a few of Morrison's changes to the status quo have stuck.

-Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus briefly adopted the likenesses of their movie versions, more or less. Green Goblin ditched the purple stuff and got a more practical outfit (But not exactly the "iron goblin" of the film) and Octopus started wearing leather jackets instead of the classic green and yellow getup.

-During the release of the first movie, Hulk fought Absorbing Man who suddenly acted a lot more like Nick Nolte's David Banner character (Who had similar powers to Absorbing Man in the movie) rather than the dumber character we were familiar with. This, like a good chunk of Bruce Jone's run, was eventually retconned by Peter David.
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Old October 11 2008, 10:14 AM   #11
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Dream wrote: View Post
Hermiod wrote: View Post
His web-shooters are mechanical devices filled with a fluid of his invention, the stupid stingers are gone, he can't communicate with spiders etc.
WTF? Talking to spiders? Who comes up with this shit? Who does he think he is Aquaman?
During JMS' run Spider-Man received a few power upgrades. However, IIRC, it wasn't actually JMS who wrote them in.

While Avengers Disassembled was going on, a tie-in in Spectacular Spider-Man (I forget who wrote it) enhanced his strength and Spider-Sense and gave him organic webshooters.

In Spider-Man: The Other (mostly written by Peter David, again IIRC) which crossed over between Amazing, Spectacular and Friendly Neighbourhood, he gained enhanced Spider-Sense which allowed him to use spiders as a kind of proxy, he would sense what they were sensing.

For instance, he was able to find a little girl in a collapsing building by creating a large web and then using his Spider-Sense to feel vibrations in that web.

He also gained bone stingers that would appear much like Wolverine's claws from his wrists.

As a direct result of The Other, he and Tony Stark became better friends and Stark constructed the "Iron Spider" costume/armour. That costume gave him limited gliding ability and various electronic abilities (emergency service tracking etc).

This costume became important in the build up to the Civil War. It seems that the costume was recording data on Spider-Man's Spider-Sense. Stark was able to replicate it within his own armour to a limited degree and, when Spidey switched sides, was able to nullify it. Stark also created an override that would cause the suit to shut down. Unfortunately for him, he failed to realise that Peter is a very smart guy and had changed the password on the override after figuring out it was there.

All of this has been undone by Brand New Day, however the Initiative operatives known as the Scarlet Spiders still wear copies of Iron Spider armour.
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Old October 11 2008, 05:00 PM   #12
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Thanks for all this, folks. It sounds like mostly comics tend to make a few cosmetic changes and use characters from the movies for a bit, then retcon away whatever changes they've made to the books. But have any of them picked up permanent changes from the movies?
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Old October 11 2008, 05:53 PM   #13
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Hermiod wrote: View Post
During JMS' run Spider-Man received a few power upgrades. However, IIRC, it wasn't actually JMS who wrote them in.
Yes, it was Paul Jenkins in Spectacular Spider-Man who gave Spidey the organic webshooters and the "communicate with bugs" upgrade to the spider-sense in the Disassembled crossover. I don't think JMS ever even directly acknowledged it in Amazing, nor did Mark Millar in Marvel Knights Spider-Man around the same time. Despite all the big deal that was made over it, it was all but completely ignored after the story where the change happened. We didn't see the mechanical webshooters, but we weren't explicitly told they weren't there either. And the bug-communication thing (which somehow included insects even though spiders are arachnids) was simply never followed up on at all. And then it was all rendered moot the following year when The Other put Peter through another remarkably similar metamorphosis, yet didn't even acknowledge that the one from Disassembled had occurred at all. It was as though the writers and editor all decided that Disassembled was a bad idea and tried their best to ignore it.

(Which is a shame, since most of Paul Jenkins' run as a Spidey writer was superb; he deserves just as much credit as JMS for the "golden age" of Spidey comics we had for a few years back there.)
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Old October 11 2008, 09:25 PM   #14
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

Lapis Exilis wrote: View Post
But have any of them picked up permanent changes from the movies?
Well, given the brief timespan of these movies, "permanent" is hard to judge.

Also, the films generally don't bring a huge amount that's entirely new to the equation; Iron Man and The Dark Knight mainly just distilled various different elements that already existed in the comics. I suppose Blade would be a notable exception, since the film version was far more popular than the comics one ever has been; all the various takes on the character since 1998 have used a lot of the films (to the point that his Britishness has been heavily diluted, although now that he's joined MI: 13, they're reemphasizing that).
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Old October 12 2008, 06:57 AM   #15
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Re: Comics Absorbing Influences from Other Media

I think the Paul Dini/Bruce Timm DC animated universe needs to be mentioned for bringing a lot of lasting influences to the comics. A number of original characters from the shows found their way into the DC Universe proper--Harley Quinn, Mercy Graves, Renee Montoya, Lock-Up, and probably a few others. DCAU takes on established characters heavily informed the comics as well... Chief among these would be Mr. Freeze, who never had much of an interesting origin/backstory prior to the animated version. The tragic ex-scientist seeking to revive his wife has become the accepted comics version of the character.

It was the DCAU that brought Batman back to the classic no-yellow-oval look, too (although Frank Miller had also used that look in Dark Knight Returns, the mainstream comics didn't adopt that look until after the animated series went there--kind of a radical idea at the time). Furthermore, the animated version of Green Lantern John Stewart led to a revival of that character in the comics. Prior to JL/JLU, John hadn't been a ringwielder in the comics for some time, serving as an occasional supporting character in the Green Lantern books. After the show gained popularity, John returned to active duty in the books, strongly resembling the animated incarnation in costume and hairstyle. Since then, the animated Stewart's Marine Corps background has been retconned into the comics, as well (the comic Stewart was an architect by trade--which remains the case--but he had never been depicted as having prior military service until recently).
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