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  1. #136

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    Just to settle things once and for all re: Orion's appearance. In the original Kirby stories, he *is* supposed to look fairly handsome thanks to the instantaneous reconstructive surgery Mother Box does.

    Case in point:
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  2. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    On the contrary, Kirby's scenario was quite straightforward: the old gods destroyed themselves and their world, and the new gods and their world(s) arose in their place.
    Sure, but I don't think the Godwave and all that convolutes it that much.


    This is all so far off the mark I'm not sure there's any point in responding: why would you imagine the ancient Greeks thought of their gods as "people with delusions of grandeur" any more than Christians or Hindus think of their own gods in such a way? Obviously if they had, they wouldn't have believed they were gods at all. But most comics fans and writers probably agree with you.
    Except Christianity is monotheistic and Hinduism is pantheistic, so I don't know why you're drawing this comparison. If you read Iliad or Odyssey, the Greek gods are portrayed as manipulative and self-serving.


    It's pretty clear that superheroes are representatives of our fantasies of power and moral superiority, taking both those terms in a very broad sense. Think about popular superheroes like Superman and Batman and how fans feel about them.
    Fair enough.

    I would argue that Azzarello has done a decent job putting the gods significantly above the superheroes though, as did Morrison (albeit with a different explanation of them).

  3. #138
    Ek Vitki Runoz Writu CaptMagellan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Holmes View Post
    Except Christianity is monotheistic and Hinduism is pantheistic, so I don't know why you're drawing this comparison. If you read Iliad or Odyssey, the Greek gods are portrayed as manipulative and self-serving.
    Berk's one of the few people on CBR who has an anthropological and cross-comparative mythology foundation (nice to 'see' you again Berk ;) ). Where both he and I are coming from in regards to Greek polytheism (if I'm inferring his arguments correctly) is:

    1) the old arrogant western belief that gods were created to 'explain phenomena' has been discarded as anthropology, philology, and other disciplines have determined that polytheistic cultures created their gods to impart meaning in the nexus between the human, natural, and numinous realms. They're poetic interaction with their mythology (used in the sense of a collection of stories dealing with cultural cosmogony, cosmollogy, anthropogony, anthropology, and eschatology) was far more nuanced than most modern cultures and certainly more than older 'scholars' gave them credit for.

    2) The Greek literary tradition (Iliad, Odyssey, etc.) wasn't representative of the actual pagan practices of the Greeks (who practiced anywhere from 1000-2000 years prior). They were representative of en vogue biases against their 'old religion.' Academics like Ogden have done a great deal of research on how different the older practice would have been.

    3) Due to that, the Greeks who actually worshipped these gods didn't see them as petty flawed beings - that came a lot later.

    4) Any culture, whether it be monotheistic, polytheistic, etc. don't worship gods that don't provide an exemplary model (of some kind) to follow - especially any Indo-European culture (of which both the Vedic and Greek cultures derive from).

    None of that necessarily matters in regards to comic book logic of New Gods vs. Old Gods but it does clarify Berk's stance I think.
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  4. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptMagellan View Post
    Berk's one of the few people on CBR who has an anthropological and cross-comparative mythology foundation (nice to 'see' you again Berk ;) ). Where both he and I are coming from in regards to Greek polytheism (if I'm inferring his arguments correctly) is:

    1) the old arrogant western belief that gods were created to 'explain phenomena' has been discarded as anthropology, philology, and other disciplines have determined that polytheistic cultures created their gods to impart meaning in the nexus between the human, natural, and numinous realms. They're poetic interaction with their mythology (used in the sense of a collection of stories dealing with cultural cosmogony, cosmollogy, anthropogony, anthropology, and eschatology) was far more nuanced than most modern cultures and certainly more than older 'scholars' gave them credit for.

    2) The Greek literary tradition (Iliad, Odyssey, etc.) wasn't representative of the actual pagan practices of the Greeks (who practiced anywhere from 1000-2000 years prior). They were representative of en vogue biases against their 'old religion.' Academics like Ogden have done a great deal of research on how different the older practice would have been.

    3) Due to that, the Greeks who actually worshipped these gods didn't see them as petty flawed beings - that came a lot later.

    4) Any culture, whether it be monotheistic, polytheistic, etc. don't worship gods that don't provide an exemplary model (of some kind) to follow - especially any Indo-European culture (of which both the Vedic and Greek cultures derive from).

    None of that necessarily matters in regards to comic book logic of New Gods vs. Old Gods but it does clarify Berk's stance I think.
    Fair enough. I was going to reply to each of those points individually, but as you say in the last sentence, it's just clarification, and I appreciate it!

    I will just say that fair enough, I agree gods were more about representing abstract ideas in all of its nuanced glory that were difficult to convey or communicate otherwise. But if that's the favored portrayal, I think DC and Marvel haven't done too shabby, considering books like Journey Into Mystery and Wonder Woman. Not to mention, more fictional mythology works like Swamp Thing and New Gods.

    Secondly, even if the actual worship of the gods weren't as petty flawed beings, I don't see how comics need to follow that more so than the literary tradition.

  5. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Holmes View Post
    Secondly, even if the actual worship of the gods weren't as petty flawed beings, I don't see how comics need to follow that more so than the literary tradition.
    I've learned to agree with that stance (if I hadn't I'd be disappointed in every single pop-culture treatment of polytheisms) and I *do* really like the way Azz is dealing with literary material of the 'flawed and petty family.'

    EDITED TO ADD: What frustrates me is that most people think that (the literary interpretation) is the ONLY or CORRECT interpretation as to ancient Greek belief. I wouldn't mind the choice if it wasn't the only 'default' one due to ignorance.

    I would personally love a more nuanced interpretation but until there is a generation of frustrated academics who become writers, adding a greater understanding of these subjects (kind of like the plethora of legal and medical pros who included their background into their thriller, mystery, and drama fiction over the past couple decades) the best we can hope for are people who might have actually read Homer.
    Last edited by CaptMagellan; 01-03-2013 at 11:53 AM.
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  6. #141
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    I'm part of that ignorance, but mostly because of its perpetuation.

    Figure this may be worth reading

    http://goodcomics.comicbookresources...porary-comics/

  7. #142
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptMagellan View Post
    (nice to 'see' you again Berk ;) ). Where both he and I are coming from in regards to Greek polytheism (if I'm inferring his arguments correctly) is:
    And you - how've you been? And yes, I'd agree with all that (easy for me to say, now that you've articulated it in such detail).

    BTW, I'm not familiar with Ogden - anything of his you recommend in particular? I have my eye on a book he edited, A Companion to Greek Religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Holmes View Post
    Fair enough. I was going to reply to each of those points individually, but as you say in the last sentence, it's just clarification, and I appreciate it!

    I will just say that fair enough, I agree gods were more about representing abstract ideas in all of its nuanced glory that were difficult to convey or communicate otherwise. But if that's the favored portrayal, I think DC and Marvel haven't done too shabby, considering books like Journey Into Mystery and Wonder Woman. Not to mention, more fictional mythology works like Swamp Thing and New Gods.

    Secondly, even if the actual worship of the gods weren't as petty flawed beings, I don't see how comics need to follow that more so than the literary tradition.
    As CaptMagellan said, that literary tradition derives from the Greeks interacting with their mythology in a nuanced way. I think that comics like WW forget to look at what that really mean: Greek poets and philosophers were interacting with THEIR mythology, which was still a living religion for their less intellectually adventurous contemporaries. When Plato or Euripides questioned the actions of the gods in the old stories, or when Homer poked fun at them, it was as if a western writer of today questioned the actions of our Christian God (he's "our god" if we were brought up in that culture, even if we happen to be atheist).

    So what comic book writers are doing when they write stories about the supposed pettiness of the Greek Gods isn't what the Greeks were doing. Rather, it's what I described before: a wish-fulfilment story about our own power and moral superiority. Superheroes are the fictional embodiment of this wish, which is why you get so many of those stories in superhero comics.

    Kirby, OTOH, was doing something different: he took the idea of myth seriously and wrote stories about the ideas he thought his imagined New Gods would represent, gods of our new, technological era: most obviously, totalitarianism vs freedom (social, political, and intellectual), science and technology itself. Not about how all these gods need to taught a lesson in humility by us human beings or our (super)heroes - which is what we usually get in superhero comics: WW defeating the gods in combat and the storyline with the de-powered Hera are typical of this kind of thing and don't bode well for the series, IMO.

  8. #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Holmes View Post
    I'm part of that ignorance, but mostly because of its perpetuation.

    Figure this may be worth reading

    http://goodcomics.comicbookresources...porary-comics/
    I definitely agree with the sentiment behind that article. In a lifetime of comic reading, I can't think of *one* example where a historical polytheistic deity was presented accurately in regards to cultural context... and most are either intentionally or unintentionally antagonistic towards that cultural context (Loki in Marvel's "Thor" and Ares in DC's "Wonder Woman" being prime examples).
    "The Way to see by Faith, is to shut the Eye of Reason" - Benjamin Franklin

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  9. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    And you - how've you been?
    Very well thank you!

    BTW, I'm not familiar with Ogden - anything of his you recommend in particular? I have my eye on a book he edited, A Companion to Greek Religion.
    Anything. But, to keep it of interest to Wonder Woman fans (and also because they are books of his that show a certain specialty of his that others don't cover) his "Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death: The Hellenistic Dynasties" is a very interesting treatment of the political power struggles between the genders and the classes. It shows the nuances between male and female power in what was a classic patrilineal society and also shows how the Hellenic cultures bore very little resemblance to the 'mythic' culture that Homer and others were parodying.

    Also, his "Greek and Roman Necromancy" and "Magic, Witchcraft and Ghosts in the Greek and Roman Worlds" would be wonderful sourcebooks for any aspiring WW writer who wishes for a bit more creepy versimillitude in regards to mythic magic.

    As CaptMagellan said, that literary tradition derives from the Greeks interacting with their mythology in a nuanced way. I think that comics like WW forget to look at what that really mean: Greek poets and philosophers were interacting with THEIR mythology, which was still a living religion for their less intellectually adventurous contemporaries. When Plato or Euripides questioned the actions of the gods in the old stories, or when Homer poked fun at them, it was as if a western writer of today questioned the actions of our Christian God (he's "our god" if we were brought up in that culture, even if we happen to be atheist).
    And the comics that continue that intellectual exercise, by extension, are usually not thought provoking explorations but are as whacked out as "Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter" is in regards to the dominant religious context of modern Western society.

    So what comic book writers are doing when they write stories about the supposed pettiness of the Greek Gods isn't what the Greeks were doing. Rather, it's what I described before: a wish-fulfilment story about our own power and moral superiority. Superheroes are the fictional embodiment of this wish, which is why you get so many of those stories in superhero comics.
    I hadn't quite seen the connection between the two but I think you're right. Especially when one considers the 'resurgence' of individuated independence and power free from authority that has been so much in the forefront of the American paradigm.

    Kirby, OTOH, was doing something different: he took the idea of myth seriously and wrote stories about the ideas he thought his imagined New Gods would represent, gods of our new, technological era: most obviously, totalitarianism vs freedom (social, political, and intellectual), science and technology itself. Not about how all these gods need to taught a lesson in humility by us human beings or our (super)heroes - which is what we usually get in superhero comics: WW defeating the gods in combat and the storyline with the de-powered Hera are typical of this kind of thing and don't bode well for the series, IMO.
    Hmm... it *will* be interesting to see how Azz dances through that particular minefield... and how Didio, Johns, and the other less than stellar decision makers at DC decide to shape their various 'pantheons' in the DCnU.
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  10. #145
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    Hey do you guys (Capt and berk) have any links to read more about the interpretation/ideology behind polytheism worship? It's hard to find the exact words to google search.

  11. #146

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    Quote Originally Posted by berk View Post
    I looked at this because I always check out new versions of Kirby's New Gods and Orion in particular has always been a favourite character of mine: Not much to go by at this stage, but Azzarello's Orion already seems a little too boastful, although not nearly as bad as the old JLA version. I really don't know where writers get this from, because it isn't there in Kirby's series. But perhaps I'm reading this into Azzarello's story from years of seeing it from just about every other writer since Kirby, so I'll try to keep an open mind for the upcoming issues.
    There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. I'd argue that Azz's Orion, thus far, is the former rather than the latter. It's a dangerous game, though.

    There's also a conceptual problem in that the New Gods shouldn't coexist with the Olympians: the idea was that the NG were the successors to the Old Gods, including the Olympians and all the other pantheons, so it's going to be difficult to keep each of these mythologies from diluting and being diluted by the other.
    We've discussed this -- this feels, to me, more in keeping with your inflexibility rather than any loss of genuine impact and meaning. While I'd agree that in an ideal world we'd get a genuine evolution, I do think there is much to be taken and done with this more commercially viable state of affairs.
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  12. #147

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Holmes View Post
    Byrne's explanation of all that works well enough.
    No, it doesn't. It's absolutely atrocious, and utterly nonsensical.

    The vague explanation that had arisen independent of Byrne suffices. Big, cosmic gods.

    Byrne's greatest failure as a writer of the New Gods was his inability to balance mystery against content. He explained things into mundanity, relied on cheap superheroics and soap opera.

    In my head, nothing about his work is canon, or valid.
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  13. #148
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    Quote Originally Posted by Desaad View Post
    No, it doesn't. It's absolutely atrocious, and utterly nonsensical.

    The vague explanation that had arisen independent of Byrne suffices. Big, cosmic gods.

    Byrne's greatest failure as a writer of the New Gods was his inability to balance mystery against content. He explained things into mundanity, relied on cheap superheroics and soap opera.

    In my head, nothing about his work is canon, or valid.
    Huh, I thought I've seen you cite the Godwave stuff before when explaining the Greek and New Gods coexistence. I'm not a fan of Byrne at all myself, but I thought it worked fine enough.

  14. #149

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Holmes View Post
    Huh, I thought I've seen you cite the Godwave stuff before when explaining the Greek and New Gods coexistence. I'm not a fan of Byrne at all myself, but I thought it worked fine enough.
    It's what is in continuity so I'll mention it if someone REALLY needs it, but the whole way it interacts with superhumanity and other dimensions and all that is completely unnecessary and cheapens the whole concept of divinity, in all shapes.

    But it fumbles in the same way that everything Byrne does fumbles; it lacks subtlety, it lacks intelligence, it lacks wit, it lacks substance. It's just "this hasn't been explained, here is some continuity, lets 'make it work' " when there was nothing that needed to be made to work.

    The Old Gods were big, glorious, beautiful creatures of impossible grandeur and power before Byrne ever came along. That's all you, or I, really need to know.
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  15. #150
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    Fair enough. So you think the explanation of who the Second and Third World Gods are is fine, but just keeping the relationship between them more vague?

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