Comics POLL: Superman's "weekly soap opera" continuity in the 1990s


Apr 30, 2004
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The Poll about the ‘weekly soap opera’ continuity of the Superman titles in the 1990s

A few words about why I’m doing this, in case you actually want to read an explanation before voting :)

With "52" coming up, it has occurred to me that this pattern of “a new chapter in an ongoing series every single week” is really very similar to what diehard Superman fans had to put up with during the 1990s. Technically, he had four different monthly titles coming out (after the fourth one started in 1991, anyway), but in practice it was more like one weekly serial drama that just happened to have four different creative teams involved in any given month, producing chapters that were totally "integrated" with everybody else's work as part of a single ongoing epic. Hence the numbered triangles on each cover that were supposed to let you know where an issue belonged, chronologically, compared to all the other Superman stuff coming out in any given calendar year.

For example, according to the cover illustrations reprinted on the back cover of my copy of “The Death of Superman” TPB, that seven-part story arc about a rampaging Doomsday and his final clash with Superman (which apparently left both of them dead) ran through the following issues in late 1992, in this order:

Superman: The Man of Steel #18
Justice League America #69
Superman #74
The Adventures of Superman #497
Action Comics #684
Superman: The Man of Steel #19
Superman #75

The part about having the ongoing threat of Doomsday cross over into the JLA title and then return to the Superman titles was a bit unusual, but the rest of that setup, with the plot constantly crossing over from one series to the next, in the hands of at least four different creative teams, was Standard Operating Procedure for Superman in that era.

So the question is: Was this really a good way to do it? Having all four “regular” Superman titles, sometimes accompanied by one-shot specials or the occasional “Fifth Week” Superman: Man of Tomorrow title, as part of one ongoing epic with tightly coordinated continuity?

I’m not trying to start arguments about whether a particular writer or story arc from that era was “good” or “bad.” I just want to know if you think the “general idea” of having four monthly titles (and some other stuff) all tied together in a single ongoing soap opera-style narrative was “good” or “bad” or “neutral.” If you follow the link above, you will see that I offer several possible opinions to vote for, including "Other" if you don't like any of the choices I did offer! (If you do click on "Other" then I beg you to post, in this thread, an explanation of just what your own opinion is! :))
I told myself I'd post an update when I had over a hundred votes. I've got them, so here's the update. Considering that I offered 8 different ways people might feel about this subject (3 varieties of Good, 2 varieties of Bad, 2 varieties of Neutral, and 1 "Other" for anyone who didn't agree with any of the other 7) I expected a wider range of results. For instance, I figured at least one or the other of the two "Bad" options would probably make the Top Three in popularity.

Instead, here are the Top Three Opinions, at the moment.

First Place
"GOOD: So good that I wish they still did it that way, right now, with four titles at once!" 30.2%

Second Place
"GOOD: It was okay in small doses, but maybe they only should have done it that way every once in a while, for really Special Events, and let the different series be more independent most of the time so each writer could do his own thing." 18.9%

Third Place
"GOOD: It was a good idea at the time, but it didn’t have to last forever. I’m glad they finally moved away from it." 15.1%

Those three scores add up to 64.2%. In other words, nearly two-thirds of my voters seem to feel that the idea of having the ongoing storyline rotate from one Superman title to another on a weekly basis, with numbered triangles on the covers to help the customer read it all in chronological order, was fundamentally a "good" idea -- at least some of the time, and at least for awhile after it started, even if it didn't have to last indefinitely.

The most popular single opinion on the Poll didn't even have those reservations attached -- those voters apparently wish DC were still consistently handling the Superman titles much the same way it did in the 1990s, as least where the tightly coordinated continuity running through all the titles at once is concerned.

(Those voters were not necessarily saying that they wish the same creative teams who had long runs in the 1990s were still hard at work on the Superman titles today, however. I made it clear I wasn't asking people to vote on the quality of the storytelling from that era -- just the way it was organized into one great big weekly epic instead of several "competing" titles each doing their own thing, independent of the others!)

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