Monday, February 07, 2005

When In Doubt , Kill Scott Lang - Writers' "Idea Repertoire"

Michael Pullmann made the point in the "shtick" entry about how Chris Claremont tends to use the theme of human slavery a lot in his comics. And he's right, it does seem to pop up often frequently, doesn't it?

So I thought that would be an interesting topic for a discussion...what ideas do certain writers always seem to fall back upon, their so-called " Idea Repertoire"?

I differentiate this from shtick in the sense that I was using shtick to denote a style of writing that a writer uses, no matter what book s/he is writing. This is different from an idea repertoire because you can write a book in a totally different style, but still reuse an idea that you've used in the past.

In addition, I do not think having an idea repertoire is a NEGATIVE thing, really. It is just something that you notice when you read a writer a lot, that certain ideas keep showing up.

Brian Bendis has now killed off Scott Lang twice in his comics.

Chris Claremont uses slave traders a lot.

Karl Kesel is obsessed with old Kirby characters.

Greg Rucka has introduced two strong female characters, both of whom were totally fixated on the star, male character.

Jeph Loeb strip-mined Frank Miller's Year One for The Long Halloween, then used whatever was left over to do Dark Victory, as well.

Warren Ellis seems to enjoy writing characters in his stories that can be his "fiction suit" in the story (that is, a character that embodies him).

What other idea repertoires spring to your mind?


18 Comments:

Blogger David Welsh said...

I would cite Geoff Johns and his "heroes worshipping heroes" theme. Wally constantly measures himself by Barry's standard. JSA is predicated on super-heroes as father figures (old guard training the worshipful new guard). Heck, that whole Hourman thing had not one but two characters vying to off themselves to save grandpa. Teen Titans has all kinds of mentor/daddy issues running through it. (Do characters in Johns' books ever look up to women?)

2/07/2005 08:50:00 AM  
Blogger Lex said...

"Wally constantly measures himself by Barry's standard."

David, in the 20 years since Crisis, when has that statement not been true? That's been the corner stone to Wally's characterization since Barry's death. So don't blame Johns for it.

2/07/2005 02:36:00 PM  
Blogger David Welsh said...

Well, Lex, Johns does choose to keep flogging it, so barring evidence of an editorial mandate, who would you suggest I credit?

2/07/2005 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

Grant Morrison tends to go for these endings where it revealed that one character was behind all the action, a sort of "puppet master."

It happens in (SPOILERS)

Doom Patrol (The Chief)

New X-Men (Cassandra Nova)

Animal Man (Himself)

2/07/2005 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

That's a fair point, Ian.

However, in New X-Men, the "puppet master" was Sublime, not Cassie, right?

2/07/2005 06:09:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Oooh...I've got another one.

Chuck Austen, in his writing, tends to use domestic abuse a lot (I would say TOO much). Twice in Uncanny X-Men and twice in Avengers. In addition, I guess an idea Austen uses a lot is that "human beings are terrible creatures."

2/07/2005 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

Morrison's new X-men was a series of "puppet Master" scenes playing out. Cassie then Magneto then Sublime. Which I thinks reflects his fascination with the fractal nature of reality.

Claremont's fascination isn't with slavery so much as control. Characters are constantly getting possesed, captured and torutred and are forced to show their control over their own personas to get out.

Neil Gaiman's all about storytelling. Stories within stories as a method of revelaing obscurities.

2/07/2005 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger rysolag said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/07/2005 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Hisham Zubi said...

Peter David has shown a tendency to compare charecters with the Freudian terms: id, ego, and superego. The two examples I know of were Hulk (Green Hulk, Grey, Hulk, Banner) and Young Justice (Impulse, Superboy, and Robin).

2/07/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

Does the Loeb thing count, since Dark Victory is a sequel to Long Halloween? If he'd stripmined Miller for two completely different stories, I think you'd have more of a case. I do think you can compare the endings of Long Halloween and Hush and see him reusing the same idea, though, at least. This may be more style, or at least theme, but his and Sale's color coded series for Marvel all revolve around the idea of the main characters reminiscing about the time period when they first met their dead girlfriends.

Bendis has dealt with his main characters' indentities being revealed in Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man, although in drastically different ways. I mention this only partially because it amuses me that the post revolves around the idea that Bendis kills Ant Man when he's run out of ideas.

2/07/2005 06:34:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Which I thinks reflects his fascination with the fractal nature of reality."

Dude...fractal nature of reality? I think you are too smart for this blog.

"Claremont's fascination isn't with slavery so much as control. Characters are constantly getting possesed, captured and torutred and are forced to show their control over their own personas to get out."

I dunno...he had slavers in New Mutants, slavers in Uncanny X-Men, slavers in Days of Past Present (whatever that FF/X-men Annual crossover was called), slavers in his 2000 run on X-Men, slavers in X-Treme X-Men...I think the dude just thinks slavers are interesting, for whatever reason.

2/07/2005 07:10:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Does the Loeb thing count, since Dark Victory is a sequel to Long Halloween?"

He used Year One for Long Halloween, then used whatever Year One characters that were left for Dark Victory. The dude had, as the victims in Dark Victory, every cop who was mentioned in Year One!!

2/07/2005 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Peter David has shown a tendency to compare charecters with the Freudian terms: id, ego, and superego. The two examples I know of were Hulk (Green Hulk, Grey, Hulk, Banner) and Young Justice (Impulse, Superboy, and Robin)."

Good point....did he ever do that with Captain Marvel (you'd think Captain Marvel would translate quite well to such an approach, no?)?

2/07/2005 07:13:00 PM  
Blogger Hisham Zubi said...

I'm not sure if David applied Freud to Captain Marvel, since I didn't follow it much. It does seem likely though.

2/07/2005 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Rice said...

The Johns Generational Obsession thing is a particularly obvious one, yeah. (Hi from Florida! It's hot here! I still have no phone service in my new apartment! I'm surrounded by fat, middle-aged women! Get me out!)

2/08/2005 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

"Good point....did he ever do that with Captain Marvel (you'd think Captain Marvel would translate quite well to such an approach, no?)?"

Not really, although there was that one issue where Marv and Rick both met two past versions of themselves. One of my favorites of the run, and it was a damn good run.

For that matter, I'm not sure he ever came out and said the Hulk thing was intentionally along Freudian lines; I know Paul Jenkins made the observation during his run, and it certainly fits in retrospect, but I don't know if that was in PAD's planning.

2/08/2005 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Julio Oliveira said...

Bendis, also like to blame the women: in New Avengers, all the bads things that will happen to heroes apparently will be Spiderwoman's fault.

2/09/2005 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger David Lee said...

Claremont's Reoccuring Scenery -

"Good" character goes "bad", usually through mind control or trickery.

Lost civilizations. Not always the main focus of the story but Claremont has tossed a gob of lost civilizations/lost worlds/alternate dimensions into the MU.

2/11/2005 07:06:00 PM  

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