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Author Topic: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?  (Read 1449 times)

Offline Glitch Girl

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Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« on: August 13, 2009, 06:02:05 PM »
Just felt like throwing this out there...

Of the big two (DC & Marvel), which of their flagship/A-list characters is the most challenging to write and write compellingly compellingly, and why do you think that is?

I have my own theories on this, but I want to see what other people think before I elaborate.   
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Offline Zippo

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2009, 06:18:48 PM »
From DC: Superman is probably the most difficult to write and have it be at all compelling.

Marvel: Wolverine. Everybody and their dog seems to want to do a wolverine one-shot of their very own, and its easy to follow the standard wolverine template, but for it to be at all worth reading takes someone pretty skilled at this point.

Offline herodad1

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2009, 06:20:43 PM »
know nothing of dc but of marvel maybe captain america and thor.dunno.

Offline Talavar

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2009, 06:52:15 PM »
DC: Superman.  He's extremely hard to get right because of his power level (written too strong, he's hard to challenge meaningfully, too weak and he seems like a chump) and his clear-cut moral compass (it can make him look naive, out of touch or dated if not used carefully).

I'll get back to you on Marvel.

Offline steamteck

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2009, 07:14:51 PM »
While if I actually had writing talent I think I get both quite well. Superman at DC and Captain America at Marvel. None of the current writers seem to understand that old fashioned sort of heroism. They come off as naive or stupid  or just wrongheaded. Superman's power level problems in writing post crisis I attribute to writer lack of creativity. I find it ironic they at one point powered him down to a much more dealable level for the writers then crept him back up.

Thor also is a character who is gold under the right writer but often many have real trouble with him.  Iron Man apparently has some issues with modern writers but I don't think he's really that hard unless you're Jim Shooter. A little research might be required but that should be true for all the characters.

Offline Tomato

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2009, 07:52:30 PM »
DC: Since everyone's already listed Superman, I'll say Batman. Batman's a character who is very tough to find a balance for... both in temperament and intelligence. Over the history of the character, Batman has been the superhero spoof in Adam West, the Goth icon in the Tim Burton films... and about a dozen other interpretations I don't feel like listing. Every person seems to have a different "take" on him, and they all vary so widely. Plus, even the writing styles... this is a character who matches wits with the Riddler. But you can either go the Adam west route, where he can solve any obscure puzzle instantly, or pull out any tool for any occasion, or break into fort knox with a paper clip... the superhuman level batman that is almost too unbelievable in his intelligence. Or you can go too far the other way... a Batman who can get almost taken out by a few dogs or who can't figure out a riddle intended for a five year old.

Marvel: Wolverine, for many of the same reason. Wolverine is a character that I feel should have a lot of depth to him... here's a guy who has been trained to kill and who has this monster inside, but who has taken samurai training and who has gone through these steps to move beyond that... and yet, people always write him as just this guy who kills things. In some ways, I find his actions worse then the Punisher in some books... Punisher takes out criminals, whereas writers have Wolverine content just mercilessly taking out cops and shield agents.

Offline AfghanAnt

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2009, 08:49:18 PM »
DC: Wonderwoman and easily Aquaman. They are both rich in character history but somehow always fail.

Marvel: Storm and Jean Grey. No matter what is done to Storm it is reversed, ignored, or just randomly forgotten. People love her but you'll never see a long running, well-written title featuring her as a lead. Jean Grey on the other hand suffers from Girlfriend Syndrome. In every appearance she's been featured in there has been a man to accompany her.

Offline Glitch Girl

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2009, 02:15:37 AM »
AfghanAnt and I seem to be in agreement about Wonder Woman being the hardest of the DC staple to write.  She's a lot of things that are hard to balance: diplomat, warrior, royalty, outsider, etc.  I think a lot of writers just don't know how to handler her character.

For Marvel, I'd have to say Thor comes to mind for similar reasons, the whole Asgar/Earth balance of the character seems hard to deal with quite a bit.  And admittedly my reading of X-Men over the years has been a bit sporatic, but Cyclops comes to mind.  In what I've read, I find many writers tend to write him as a twerp.  He's supposed to be a leader, but he often comes off as mopey or a jerk, neither of which inspire confidence as a leader.
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Offline Jakew

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2009, 05:29:05 AM »
I agree with the points everyone has brought up.

DC: Is Green Arrow A-List now? If so, that guy. Denny O'Neill, Mike Grell, Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer are the only ones who did anything good with him (although I haven't read the Diggle/Jock Year: One yet).

Marvel: Punisher in the mainsteam Marvel Universe. A guy who kills villains but, due to editorial mandate, can't kill anyone too important in the super villain hierarchy. Plus, the Marvel universe is rife with high-technology, etc. It all messes with the essence of Punisher. MAX still does it best.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2009, 05:34:32 AM by Jakew »

Offline DrMike2000

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2009, 06:47:43 AM »
I instantly thought of Wonder Woman.

She seems to present a lot of trouble to some of the best writers out there. Grant Morrison found a voice for her but little else in JLA -I dont think theres a single story in his run that she lead or really starred in. Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman's own title was pretty disappointing despite all the right elements being present.

Why?

She's got that uneasy balance between modern day and mythology. That can be hard to get right. She also has some odd balance between being a warrior and a pacifist, and maybe writers are skittish of portraying her as either because she's a woman? Theres a certain expectation that female characters have to be "kick-arse" or you're doing a disservice to women as a whole. I think this may have lead Diana down a more martial path than she really needed at times, like, oh, say pulling Maxwell Lord's head off.

If you look at each superhero as a commentary on the human condition, what are they saying? spider-man's about being thrust into a position of responsibility before you're ready. Batman's about coping with loss and the transformative power of grief. Martian Manhunter keys into feelings of alienation and being an outsider no matter whether you can pass for human, and so on.

Wonder Woman's core agenda is to discuss the relationship between men and women, pretty much stated by William Marston-Moulton when he created her. The situation between the genders has changed heaps since then, so she's perceived as a bit out of date. She also suffers the problems of trying to discuss feminism
in a bathing suit, in an industry thats very uncomfortable with its own history of its treatment of female characters. To do Wonder Woman justice, sex has to be discussed, not necessarily in a prurient way but say the way it was in Promethea, who could be regarded as Alan Moore's analogue of Diana. That instantly narrows down the number of writers who can handle her properly.

Yeah, she's difficult, alright. I honestly don't know who I think could develop a good take on the character. Morrison and Simone have both tried and fallen short, that leaves me out of ammunition a bit.

Marvel:
Professor X is a hard one to get right. I hate it when he's treated as a stuffed shirt authority figure jerk, like Clarement did sometimes during his classic run. People say Superman is hard to challenge, but a writer can easily write a character who's just as strong, or better yet present Supes with problems to do with his loved ones. Charles kind of sidesteps that - any interpersonal problem he has is only really there because he lets it. He staggeringly powerful.
Then theres the question of his activity levels. I think he works kind of well as a semi-active figure, and can't really buy him being confined to a wheelchair any more since hes been cured too many times one way or another. But he still shouldn't be supplanted the "soldier" X-Men like Cyclops in terms of field activity. He's basically a very odd package to try to fit not only into standard superhero fiction but any kind of fiction really.

[edit] Both these characters have stroing agendas to change the world too. This doesn't sit well with serial fiction. Batman and Superman on the other hand exist to preserve the status quo, and so can happily fight a different psychotic killer/alien warlord every few months without appearing to fail or stagnate.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2009, 06:56:39 AM by DrMike2000 »
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Offline Tawodi Osdi

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2009, 07:58:06 PM »
In one since, all of the flagship characters would be hard right for.  They have many decades of history, and any tweaking or omission one might do to make a story interesting would bring the Continuity Police knocking on your door.  Also, I have not consistently read comics in a decade or two, and I am not up on current story lines.  I may be wrong on which characters are the power players, but I will try to give my best answer anyway.

DC: Green Lantern-Hal Jordan would be difficult to write for.  I have always liked the character, but his storylines are more messed up than a soap opera.  He comes with too much baggage, and his silver age persona had one of the dumbest weaknesses that any major super hero ever had.  He could destroy a space armada with his ring, but a brat with a tennis ball could ruin his whole day.  If I were able to drop the weakness to yellow and forego the extra baggage.  Hal might be interesting to write for.

Marvel: Silver Surfer is a character that is interesting, but I just don't get it.  He has a completely alien mindset that would have to be understood and kept in mind to maintain a cohesive story.

Offline Klauser

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2009, 01:54:19 AM »
DC:  As mentioned above - Wonder Woman.  Hands down the toughest DC flagship character.  I've never read an author that was able to make her "click" as both a heroine and a woman.  (Not as a hawt fantasy chick - as a woman!)  The closest I read was in the Perez/Byrne crossover story in Action 600(?), but that was a one-shot.

Marvel: Thor.  Probably because of having to balance the Norse Pantheon vs. mundane terestrial issues.  Oddly enough, he's worked well with the Avengers IMHO.

Offline Mr. Hamrick

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2009, 04:17:12 PM »
Let's see...
 
Marvel:
Spiderman - A couple of reasons here.  One is that the character has so much history and so much that has already been done.  That can really be said for all the flagship characters but with Spiderman is a little truer.  The second reason that spins out of the first is that in recent years his history has become so screwed up that it'd be a task for any writer to come in, make sense of all the damage, and get a good compelling story out of.

DC:
This is a toss up for me.  I agree with all the reasons that have been listed for Superman and Wonder Woman on why they should be the hardest.  However, I have to say that, for me, the hardest would be Batman.  First off, Batman is my favorite DC comic character.  I would personally be scared to go anywhere near the character just out of fear of not being able to deliver a good story.  I'm enjoying what Grant Morrison has done as well because it really drives the point home.  At the end of the day, only Bruce Wayne can be the real Batman.  Second, and perhaps most importantly, I don't know that I have any interesting stories that I would want to tell with Batman.  I can sit down (and have sat down) and brainstormed some ideas for a good story arc for both Superman and Wonder Woman.  I'd love to be able to come up with some thing for Batman but I've yet to do so.  So, he'd be the hardest for me at this point.

Having said that, I've little interest in doing anything with Flash and Green Lantern (any of them).  I might have an idea for an Aquaman limited series but I am not sure it'd work, especially with what is currently being done with the character.  Any Aquaman story that I tried would probably have to be an Elseworlds.  Otherwise, I would not be interested.

Offline Xenolith

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2009, 05:38:45 PM »
I'm going to say Batman because I'd make him a detective again, and I'm not as clever as I should be to write detective stories.

At Marvel I'm going to say the X-Men because they have the most rabid following that will want an explanation for every little thing that deviates from the already confusing history of those characters.  I'm assuming X-Men would be considered a flagship "character."  If its a one character book, as stated, then I'm going with Wolverine for the same reasons I stated for the X-men.

Offline doctorchallenger

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2009, 12:11:06 AM »
He could destroy a space armada with his ring, but a brat with a tennis ball could ruin his whole day. 

Best. Line. Ever.

Offline lugaru

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2009, 04:07:18 AM »
She's got that uneasy balance between modern day and mythology. That can be hard to get right.

They should pick up an issue of The Incredible Hercules or even Thor. Seriosly I think the best way to write wonder woman would be to forget she is a super hero and just keep her on myth related quests.


My tough characters?

Well WW was going to be my first choice. Others include:

Flash: if you view him from one angle he is really lame, from another angle he is infinitely powerful. Throw in some villains who look silly from all angles (even when they try to make them hardcore)

Most X-Men: Wolvie is easy to write, he is a pulp character. Send him to exotic locations, have him kill some minions and you are all set. How do you write a solo book for Storm, Cyclops, Colossus or any other character? I feel that they are deeper than many comic characters with their own book but somehow they inflict writers block left and right.


« Last Edit: October 08, 2009, 04:27:09 AM by lugaru »

Offline Tawodi Osdi

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2009, 11:22:05 PM »
Along the same line, let's say hypothetically you woke up tomorrow on an alternate earth where there was no Marvel, DC, or any other comic book company from our world, and you were able to get a job a comic book writer.  You could use any characters you wanted without worrying about 60+ years of comic book history, copyright issues, or fanboys who would behead you for messing up their favorite character.  How would you use the pre-published characters and concepts?  You would be free to use any character from any comic book, roleplaying game, TV show, or movie and be able to pepper the world with your own creations.

Offline MJB

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2009, 06:31:02 AM »
DC: Superman. It is difficult to write compelling stories about a super man.

Marvel: My gut wants me to put down the Hulk. BUT as a Hulk fan I know there have been 3 good Hulk writers in the last 10 years. (David, Jones, Pak). Captain America has had Waid and Brubaker. Thor has been "iffy" but he's not really hard to write, if you keep the classic version in mind (IMO).

My vote would be for Iron Man. There have been quite a few versions of the character. BUT how many writers have written iconic stories featuring the character in the 616 universe lately?

Offline lugaru

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2009, 06:31:13 AM »
Well that is a little bit of what the exiles is, taking all these liscenced characters and doing whatever they wanted with it.

Offline Tawodi Osdi

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2009, 07:57:00 AM »
I have been a dedicated comic fan in years and have not heard of Exiles.  What is it about?

Offline lugaru

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2009, 10:15:49 PM »
I have been a dedicated comic fan in years and have not heard of Exiles.  What is it about?

Are you familiar with What If... comics from Marvel?

Exiles basically grabbed a bunch of heroes from alternate dimensions moments before they died and put them together into a suicide team that saves alternate worlds from destruction. This allowed the writer to make any character they wanted and do anything they wanted with them. This included female versions of male characters, powered versions of supporting cast, evil versions of heroes, heroic versions of villains, etc. Not only that but they could pick and choose from previous storylines like Age of Apocalypse or M Day. At least the first 75+ issues where great, I hear the more recent stuff is not too awesome but still I love the concept, imagine playing a tabletop campaign where any character is possible, danger is always around the corner and there is always a big epic mission to accomplish.

Offline Tawodi Osdi

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Re: Hardest Flagship Character to Write?
« Reply #21 on: November 02, 2009, 11:40:25 PM »
That does sound interesting.  Have they packaged into any story arcs together in hard form? 

As for using the concept in table top gaming, I was in a pbem Gurps Supers game that allowed players to mix and match concepts from pre-published sources.  The game had a gritty Watchmen fill where heroes weren't that powerful and death and killing was a possibility.  The NPC hero was named Dollar Bill, and my first character was killed by one of the Wrecking Crew.  For my next character, I took advantage of the open creation rule and created an extensive background that included elements from Superman, Hawkman, X-Men, and New Gods.  I think I have the character backed up on disc somewhere.  I might have pull it out and post it; so, I can show off my writing chops.

I have been also daydreaming about putting together a campaign using DC Heroes or some other system, but so far, I haven't been able to come with a universe that isn't over-glutted with super heroes and villains.