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What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Chessack » Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:51 am

Even more fun, many comics show clear seasons. When real winter is happening in North America, many comics set in places like NYC will have winter in their pages (the Dec, Jan, Feb, etc, issues). Then when summer is happening in the real world North America, it happens in the comics too. If you try and track it, you notice that these characters have seen a LOT of winters and summers, but yet they have not gotten any older, and they're refer to stuff that happened 20 issues (and 3 or so winters) ago as "weeks" ago.

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby PDH » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:15 pm

I don't have a science-breaking point - I can handle any amount of what I'm going to call 'Magience' - but I do have a rationality breaking point. A recent-ish Eliezer Yudkowsky comment got me thinking about this:

An Idiot Plot is any plot that goes away if the characters stop being idiots. A Muggle Plot is any plot which dissolves in the presence of transhumanism and polyamory. That exact form is surprisingly common; e.g. from what I've heard, canon!Twilight has two major sources of conflict, Edward's belief that turning Bella into a vampire will remove her soul, and Bella waffling between Edward and Jacob. I didn't realize it until Baughn pointed it out, but S1 Nanoha - not that I've watched it, but I've read fanfictions - counts as a Muggle Plot because the entire story goes away if Precia accepts the pattern theory of identity.


Take Star Trek, for example. The central theme of Star Trek is (what they call) Logic vs. (what they call) Emotion. But rationality is about achieving your goals and for nearly everyone that will involve experiencing emotions like love and happiness. Thankfully, nothing in rationality says that you can't have emotions but the creators of Star Trek just don't understand that. To them, there is this thing called 'Logic,' which is given a totally different definition than the ordinary one and sometimes you have to put it aside because, dammit you green-blooded fool, the world just isn't Logical! In order to find these themes interesting you have to not know about decision theory. Once you get that, the whole thing just evaporates.

Or LOST. The central theme of LOST is (what they call) Science vs (what they call) Faith. But the maths behind knowledge is probability theory, which allows you to describe a state of knowledge with numbers instead of words and tells you how confident you should be about a claim (if something has a probability of 0.74 then you should be 74% sure about it). If you buy a lottery ticket and the odds of winning are 1 in a million, it doesn't make any sense to say, 'Some times you've got to have faith, Jack!' because why did you decide to have faith in THAT ticket instead of the one of the other 999,999? If I argue that it's one of those others instead, I have a 999,999 in a million chance of being right vs. your 1 in a million chance. I don't have 'Just as much faith as you,' it doesn't make any difference if, 'There are some things we're just not meant to know,' it won't in any way improve your odds if I'm not able to answer questions like, 'Why is there something rather than nothing?' or 'Fucking magnets! How do they work?' In order to find these themes interesting you have to not know about probability theory. Once you get that, the whole thing just evaporates.

More and more, I'm having a hard time enjoying this shit. I didn't watch Prometheus at all and never will because I knew it would be full of people asking Muggle questions like, 'Can a machine be alive?!' as if they were profound mysteries. It's like, it would never even occur to you to write something like that in the first place if you weren't horribly confused about some really important topics. And once you know this stuff, you can never go back to not knowing without some kind of, on-balance regrettable, head injury. So, I dunno. Right now, I've just settled for looking for stupid shit that entertains me instead of stupid shit that doesn't even do that. There's no escaping it.

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby IvCNuB4 » Sun Sep 08, 2013 1:40 pm

Has it been said that the eclipse is permanent or that this won't be addressed in issue #2 ? :smt017
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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Stephen Day » Sun Sep 08, 2013 2:11 pm

IvCNuB4 wrote:Has it been said that the eclipse is permanent or that this won't be addressed in issue #2 ? :smt017


Well, considering that the current Ultraman is powered by kryptonite and hurt by sunlight, I think it's pretty obvious that it's designed to protect him. Meaning, the very writing of this issue is telling the reader that it's supposed permanent.
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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Chessack » Sun Sep 08, 2013 3:19 pm

PDH wrote:An Idiot Plot is any plot that goes away if the characters stop being idiots.


I've never heard it phrased quite this way, but this is probably the single most annoying element to me about a badly-written story. Trinity War is a great example. Most of the between-heroes fight scenes would not have happened if the characters just stopped being idiots. H'el on Earth is another one... the whole thing could not have happened without Supergirl being extremely stupid about what was going on.

More formally this is usually referred to as a "contrived" story -- i.e., it is happening against all reasonableness and against the internal consistency of the story, "just because." And the usual device that causes the contrivance to happen is, yup, the characters acting like idiots.

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Arion » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:00 pm

Stephen Day wrote:
I don't think it's so much that he doesn't know science. I think it's more that he thought it would be like one of those "cool" Superman in the Silver Age type things. Of course, if that's the case, he's not considering that this sort of bad storytelling is one of the reasons why Marvel sold so many more copies than DC in the Silver Age.


Good explanation.
And yet another reason why we shouldn't love the Silver Age so much.

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Chessack » Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:25 pm

The problem isn't with the Silver Age per se. It's that they are teleporting individual Silver Age ideas as isolated nuggets into an otherwise grim-and-gritty, pseudo-realistic "Dark Knight Returns" kind of world. It'd be like having a Quidditch match played in the middle of Minas Tirith in Return of the King. The problem isn't that Quidditch is "unrealistic," but rather, that in tone and style, it does not fit with the rest of the LOTR world.

The same thing is true here. If they had built a Silver Age world, with Silver Age logic throughout, then doing something Silver-Agey like this would be entirely consistent and reasonable. But they haven't done that. They've gone for (what they think is) a more "realistic" DC Universe, and then they keep inserting this over-the-top Silver Age ideas into it. The two mix about as well as oil and water.

I am too young to remember Silver Age comics from live purchases... I've only read them in back issue form. I would completely agree that I wouldn't want all comics to be like that today. But I sure as heck wouldn't mind if DC put out a title called "Silver Age" that was set in the pre-Crisis DCU and retained the Silver Age tone. I'd almost certainly have it on my pull list if they did such a thing. Again, not what I'd want the whole DCU to be, but I'd love getting one or two Silver Age style titles per month, just as a fun change of pace.

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Lord Simian » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:40 am

Stephen Day wrote:
I don't think it's so much that he doesn't know science. I think it's more that he thought it would be like one of those "cool" Superman in the Silver Age type things. Of course, if that's the case, he's not considering that this sort of bad storytelling is one of the reasons why Marvel sold so many more copies than DC in the Silver Age.



Image

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Mr. Log » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:47 am

Lord Simian wrote:

Image


:lol:

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:56 am

SuperginraiX wrote:Image


:lol:

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Herald » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:07 am

PDH wrote:An Idiot Plot is any plot that goes away if the characters stop being idiots.


Chessack wrote:I've never heard it phrased quite this way, but this is probably the single most annoying element to me about a badly-written story. Trinity War is a great example. Most of the between-heroes fight scenes would not have happened if the characters just stopped being idiots. H'el on Earth is another one... the whole thing could not have happened without Supergirl being extremely stupid about what was going on.

More formally this is usually referred to as a "contrived" story -- i.e., it is happening against all reasonableness and against the internal consistency of the story, "just because." And the usual device that causes the contrivance to happen is, yup, the characters acting like idiots.


Idiot Plot:

"...this trope is a term for a Plot that hangs together only because the main characters behave like idiots. A single intelligent move or question by any of the characters, and all problems would be resolved, which is especially prevalent when a Story Breaker Power such as Make a Wish is involved. It's not so bad if the characters are supposed to be acting like idiots, but it's very bad if the Idiot Plot depends on a character suddenly acting stupid enough for the Plot to work."

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Herald » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:09 am

Punchy wrote:I don't have one.

The crazier and stupider the better!


As you demonstrated when you foolishly bought into the idiotic example in question. :P

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby Herald » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:30 am

Spinning off from that previous trope, Idiot Ball:

"A moment where a character's stupidity fuels an episode, or a small plot line. If multiple characters have the Idiot Ball it becomes an Idiot Plot. Temporary (or permanent) Genre Blindness is often a cause of this trope.

"Coined by Hank Azaria on Herman's Head: Azaria would ask the writing staff, 'Who's carrying the idiot ball this week?' This is generally not a compliment on the writing because the person carrying the idiot ball is often acting out of character, misunderstanding something that could be cleared up by asking a single reasonable question or performing a simple problem-solving action, but that he isn't doing solely because the writers don't want him to. It's almost as if the character is being willfully stupid or obtuse rather than that being the character's natural default character."

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Re: What is Your Comic Book Science Breaking Point?

Postby outsider » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:31 am

I take it on a story by story basis. If there's a consistent logic or approach within the framework of the story, I'm good.
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