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  3. Observer review: Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg | Books | The Guardian

Deborah Eisenberg is nearly unmatched in her mastery of the short-story form. Now, in her newest collection, she demonstrates once again her virtuosic abilities in precisely distilled, perfectly shaped studies of human connection and disconnection. From a group of friends whose luck in acquiring a luxurious Manhattan sublet turns to disaster as their balcony becomes a fron Deborah Eisenberg is nearly unmatched in her mastery of the short-story form.

Paperback , pages. Published January 23rd by St. Martins Press-3pl first published January 24th To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Twilight of the Superheroes , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Twilight of the Superheroes. Lists with This Book. Jan 28, Glenn Sumi rated it it was amazing Shelves: The final word in Deborah Eisenberg's marvellous collection of stories is "wartime," and, like every syllable she writes, it's precisely placed and significant.

These are tales for an uncertain time. Eisenberg's characters live lives that teeter on a ledge, with currents of violence, physical or emotional, about to knock them off at any moment. A bravura piece of experimental narrative, it spans years and peers into the lives of everyone from an extended family of Ellis Island immigrants to an ambitious group of young friends who are trying to make their mark in the big city.

Eisenberg has mastered the art of compressing entire lives into a few dozen pages. A story like "Some Other, Better Otto" begins as a dysfunctional Thanksgiving tale about the absence of a schizophrenic sister at the dinner table, then spreads out to become a meditation on forgiveness and the brutal passage of time.

Another story, the haunting "Like It Or Not," begins as a Jamesian tale of a middle-aged American schoolteacher set loose in Rome, then shifts gears in the final third to show us another character plagued by his own ghosts. Eisenberg has devoted herself to the short story form as tirelessly as Alice Munro, Raymond Carver or Grace Paley, but has a wider range than any of them and a way of writing - "style" seems too precious a word - that catches life from every angle.

These aren't the easiest stories to read; they demand attention, require you occasionally to turn back a few pages to orient yourself.

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But you won't be able to read them just once. Aug 28, Joey rated it did not like it Recommends it for: People who like terrible writing. This book is emblematic of everything that's wrong with contemporary "literary" fiction. The only thing I can find of any interesting literary value here is the last paragraph or so of the titular first story.

This book was reviewed well by a lot of publications, and I can't for the life of me understand why. I can only assume that the people who reviewed this book well are the same kind of people who like the whiny, affected fiction they print in The New Yorker and Diane Johnson's terrible nove This book is emblematic of everything that's wrong with contemporary "literary" fiction.

I can only assume that the people who reviewed this book well are the same kind of people who like the whiny, affected fiction they print in The New Yorker and Diane Johnson's terrible novel Le Divorce. I'm not sure that I've ever hated a book as much as I hate this one.

Maybe if I read the "Left Behind" series, I'd hate them more, but it would probably be a toss-up. I hate the whiny characters. Bored twentysomethings pining away for a better life; join the club, dickwads.

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Yet another pained family holiday, staffed with characters so stock you can't even remember who's who; Yay, let's carve the turkey. I hate Eisenberg's pretentious, boring writing style. I hate her for taking up good titles that better writers could have used to better effect. I hate the blurb on the back cover that reads "Eisenberg's stories have all the steely beauty of a knife wrapped in velvet.

View all 4 comments. Jun 26, Nicole rated it it was ok Shelves: I just finished this book a few days ago and, looking through the table of contents now, I'm already having trouble recalling most of the stories. Partly this is because most of the titles don't connect to their stories in any recognizable way, so when I see "Window," it doesn't trigger "oh, yeah, the one where that creepy guy takes the girl to his isolated cabin to babysit his kid.

The two elements most contributing to I just finished this book a few days ago and, looking through the table of contents now, I'm already having trouble recalling most of the stories. The two elements most contributing to my lackluster response here are: In "The Flaw in the Design," for example, the story of the tension between father and son is bookended by the mother's seemingly random one-time affair, and the family story sandwiched between the affair bits doesn't shed light on the affair or seem connected to it at all.

Telling a story through chopped up segments can work, but with the exception of the title story I don't think it works overall in this collection. Stories where nothing happens and there are no threads of interest to follow have an uphill battle to keep my attention. We have a first-person narrator, but we don't get much more than reporting and some bits and pieces of backstory from her outside of basic observation and dialogue.

In the end, I'm not sure why I should care or what I'm even supposed to be caring about , but I'm pretty sure she's not the person to get me there. Here's the silver lining: Eisenberg does a beautiful job making this whiny, selfish man Otto sympathetic to the reader. Watching his protective and considerate interactions with his mentally unstable younger sister helps this along.

Enough happens to keep me with the story visit to sister, family gathering, quarrel with partner , the end works for me, and the title even makes sense. I would actually recommend this story, and the title one where she uses choppy segments pretty effectively to weave separate threads together. The rest I can take or leave. Nov 25, Sarah rated it liked it Shelves: When people say that they don't read short stories because they want more character development, these are the stories to point them towards.

Every character is fully human, with human hopes and baggage frailties. But if they say also that they don't read short stories because not enough happens, well, this book won't change their minds. Most of the plots in this book read like an anecdote about a friend that you might relate to another friend. Eisenberg paints that scene and others in painstaking detail and beautiful prose, but I'm not entirely sure I cared to go on all of these journeys. Aug 30, Chris rated it it was ok Shelves: Okay, I've now finished the book and I have to say that while it did get a little better, it wasn't by much.

She lectures you on things you already know, repeats the same crap over and over, and while the disjointed sections didn't really bother me, they didn't really add up to anything for me. It just seems like the story was pretty pointless. Maybe in the year or so afterwards it felt like that, but I don Okay, I've now finished the book and I have to say that while it did get a little better, it wasn't by much.

Maybe in the year or so afterwards it felt like that, but I don't think that's a prominent feeling anymore. Most people have moved on. So I don't think this story really holds up. The second story, "Some Other, Better Otto," is almost definitely the best of the six, but that's not saying a whole lot. I somewhat liked the characters, but it's not very well developed at all, and the writing is still pretty atrocious.

And again, it didn't really say much. But the idea I think she was going for was pretty good, and, like I said, I liked the relationship between Otto and his sister. If there was a point to this story, it was completely lost on me. Not the worst of the bunch, but with a lackluster ending and a story that didn't really say a whole lot. Like I said before, some of her writing reads like something you'd get in a college writing class. This one is a great example.

And then she stops writing. This one maybe gets my vote for worst of the bunch. And, last, but not least see directly above , "The Flaw in the Design. And then she has an affair which is supposed to be important for some reason? Because that's how the story is framed. But there's nothing in the story about her motivation to do that other than her whiney family and nothing about her guilt or pleasure in having this secret. So it felt pretty tacked on. Actually, most of her stories have a very liberal slant. Those elements are probably a large part of what made the book appeal to so many people.

But, as I said, they're not well developed and often derail into preaching if, as Kenney would argue, they were ever on the rails at all. And it's a pretty quick read, so that's always a plus. So my final evaluation is a 2 out of 5. View all 5 comments. Jan 02, Douglas rated it it was amazing. I've been reading this on and off for the past couple of years. From what I've read about Deborah Eisenberg, she's a self-taught writer and sort of emerged slowly and quietly to the literary scene.

That's how these stories feel, too. There's nothing mechanical about them, nothing you'd expect from a writer that followed all the rules, made the necessary connections, and published with fanfare. The stories in this collection are unlike anything I've read, each an original masterpiece in emotional I've been reading this on and off for the past couple of years.

The stories in this collection are unlike anything I've read, each an original masterpiece in emotional tension. I was drawn to this book after reading "Window" in the O. Occasionally the narrative fragments or takes long detours, gestures puzzle, endings resist closure. Not every story takes such liberties, but those that do sometimes deliver the goods and sometimes fail to do so. The story is nearly gothic, shimmering with menace, and its ending, bringing the plot full circle, creates echoes of sadness: There's a lot of formulaic writing out there, especially in short stories, much of it's good, but these stories, filled with menace, sadness, tragedy, ultimately shine with an originality almost beyond compare.

Mar 26, Alan rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: That is people talking about what life means etc. I found a little of that but didn't mind it so much, in fact by the end I was enjoying the wankery. I just think she's a writer who can catch moments and make you turn aside and wonder now and again. I may have over-starred her here, but at the time, when I put the book down that's what I felt. I think the test if you'd like it or not is this passage I loved it but Clare thumbed her nose at it and then gave it the Vs - British for 'this is shite'.

Chain reactions in the post-nuclear family

The protagonist remembers overhearing her parents saying that she is afraid of reality, immature, lazy and confused: Well, that was a long,long time ago, of course, but I still remember feeling kind of sick and how quiet it was. It was so quiet I could hear the foliage in the painting rustle and the silvery dust particles clashing together.

Feb 22, Magdelanye rated it really liked it Shelves: Where has Deborah Eisenberg been all my life? Although the motive was pure and the aim true with regard to Crisis, I can't help feeling that somewhere along the line, in the attempt to consolidate and rationalize the DC Cosmos, a situation even more potentially destabilizing and precarious was created.

Instead of a parallel Earth cosmology that was, if the reader was sensible enough to overlook obvious discrepancies as what they were i. In the wake of the time-altering at the end of the Crisis we are left with a universe where the entire past continuity of DC, for the most part, simply never happened. I believe this is dangerous for a couple of reasons. Firstly, by establishing the precedent of altering time, you are establishing an unconscious context for all stories that take place in the future, as well as for those which took place or rather didn't take place in the past.

The readers of long standing, somewhere along the line, are going to have some slight feeling that all the stories that they followed avidly during their years of involvement with the book have been in some way invalidated, that all those countless plotlines weren't leading to anything more than what is in some respects an arbitrary cut- off point.

By extension, the readers of today might well be left with the sensation that the stories they are currently reading are of less significance or moment because, after all, at some point ten years in the future some comic book omnipotent, be it an editor or the Spectre, can go back in time and erase the whole slate, ready to start again. I myself felt something similar at the end of the first Superman film, when he turns time back to save Lois. It ruined the small but genuine enjoyment that I'd got from that first movie and destroyed all credibility for any of the following sequels as far as I was concerned.

I know that the average eight year old reader in the street is not thinking these things consciously while buying his monthly batch of titles. Probably the average seventeen or twenty five year old reader isn't either, although that's more open to debate. My point is that the large and largely incomprehensible tides of public favor or dismissal that determine the success of a title are often influenced by very subtle things far below the waterline.

I don't think it's too high-faluting to assume, for example, that the current success of the Teenage Superhero Group book has more than a little to do with the current massive sense of instability pervading our culture, especially with respect to instabilities in the family structure. I firmly believe that both this and the current seeming obsession with a strict formal continuity are some sort of broad response from an audience whose actual lives are spent living in a continuity far more uncertain and complex than anything ever envisaged by a comic book.

I believe that one of the things that the comic fan is looking for in his multi-title crossover epics is some sense of a sanely ordered cosmos not offered to him or her by the news headlines or the arguments of their parents over breakfast. That isn't to say that it's healthy or necessarily desirable to fulfill this fundamentally escapist sort of urge.

I myself would feel uncomfortable if the imaginary reality I was offering my readers was intended as a pacifier rather than as something to make them think about their own reality.

Observer review: Twilight of the Superheroes by Deborah Eisenberg | Books | The Guardian

I'd cite Watchmen as an example of how it's possible to fulfill the requirements of a continuity much more strict and rigidly defined than is usual while still making some sort of relevant point, hopefully, about the real world that the book's readers are living in. Attendant to this, there are a number of people in the industry and in my opinion they have a good case even if I'm undecided about the right means to carry it off who feel that it's time to break down the continuity and try to get rid of a lot of the rather anal and obsessive attitudes that have been allowed to dominate the marketplace and to some degree have hindered it in its periodic attempts to be taken seriously.

I suppose a shining example of this would be Frank's Dark Knight, which, while it doesn't seem bothered about fitting into any graven-in-stone continuity, does service to the legend of Batman and brilliantly redefines the character for an eighties audience, and nobody really seems to care much how this all fits into the continuity because it's such a bloody good story. Will Jason Todd really die? Will all the superheroes leave Earth to Superman and his government pals?

Will Oliver Queen really get his arm burned off at the elbow in a fight with Clark Kent and become an embittered urban terrorist? The readers seem quite capable of accepting that this may or may not happen in the future, without getting worked up and starting to chew through their own arms over how the idea of alternate possible futures fits in with the Crisis idea that there is only one timestream with no possibility of alternate pasts, presents or futures. Is there any way that these two apparently conflicting notions can both be accomplished at once?

Yes, I believe there is. I think it is possible to create a limited run series that would embrace both these attitudes comfortably and fulfill all the other requirements that we've gone over concerning crossovers of this type before. I think we could come up with a story that, like Legends, casts new light upon all the DC characters, and yet does no violence to however their creators and current creative teams are handling them in their own titles.

Something that pulls together the threads of the DC Universe in an interesting and revealing way, while at the same time remaining simple enough in construction so that the chances for any screw-ups in the crossover continuity are diminished or avoided altogether. This last point is important. Looking at the practicalities of the situation with the insight that Crisis has afforded us, it is possible to see the various practical problems which have emerged and which are unlikely to be solved by vigorous debating between the parties or sides involved.

Firstly, there will almost certainly be some writers or artists who do not really want to involve their stories with the crossover, whether they say so or not.

Making them "toe the line" if they're vocal about it or taking comfort from the fact that most people, even if they don't like the idea, will go along with it for the sake of a quiet life clearly isn't practical when you're dealing with writers and artists. If they aren't motivated by an idea, while it is theoretically possible to force them to adapt to it, it isn't possible to ensure that you'll get better than a mediocre story out of them, thus cheapening the whole overall concept to some degree.

It seems to me much more workable to come up with a concept by means of which whatever individual writers choose to do or not to do in their own books will have relevance to the crossover, whether they necessarily intend it to or not. If they choose to involve themselves actively in the crossover, then that's fine. If they refuse to do so, then the very act of refusing to do anything about the crossover also becomes part of the overall storyline, without doing any violence to the continuity of the books involved at all.

If the mechanics of how all this is to be achieved seem a little far fetched at this stage then I'd ask you to bear with me until after the story outline, at which point I'll attempt to demonstrate how the outline fulfills the various criteria that I'm defining here, including the next pertinent area on our agenda after the demands of commerce and continuity have been covered, this being the purely creative opportunities and pitfalls involved.

Creatively, there is an immediate aesthetic problem in the multi-title crossover in that, baldly put, it is very easy to strain the credibility of the entire universe by putting certain characters next to each other. Swamp Thing and Blue Devil spring immediately to mind, or Sgt. Rock and The Legion of Super-Heroes. In such juxtapositions, the flawed seams of the illusion of unity that we're trying to create become most apparent, and some thought should be given to a way of avoiding this distracting effect.

The creative plus side of the equation is more dependent upon the tastes and leanings of the creative people involved, in this instance myself and whoever we get to draw this thing and work with me on it. For my part, speaking purely subjectively for the moment, what I'd like to do creatively with the series, above and beyond the creative satisfaction to me and in fulfilling all the criteria above, is to create a storyline that lent the whole superhero phenomenon, the whole cosmos and concept a context that was intensely mythic and we extracted from the characters involved in it their last ounce of mythic potential, aiming at coming up with something that cements the link between superheroes and the Gods of legend by attempting something as direct and resonant as the original legends themselves.

One legend in particular will be the main thematic drift of the storyline, this being the Norse legend of Ragnarok, twilight of the Gods. The Storyline Itself Okay Please bear in mind that firstly, since the story has time travel as one of its central motifs, it's often difficult to present events in a clear chronological sequence without getting muddled, for which I apologize in advance.

Secondly, since I myself don't have all the fine details filled in yet I hope these don't detract too much from your enjoyment of the idea, since these will be things that will be polished up to their final shine in the actual scripting. I'd again cite Watchmen as an example of how much of this stuff only finds its way in at the final draught stage and ask your indulgence wherever necessary.

To kick off, I should perhaps explain the overall structure of the story, which, incidentally, I'm currently imagining as something in the Watchmen format, twelve issues long, twenty-eight pages, no ads, although these are just working assumptions and are certainly open to alteration at this early stage. The story is structured so that there is a central "core-narrative" which in this case is the tale of the Twilight of the Superheroes, taking place at some point in the not too distant future, say twenty or thirty years.

Around this there is a sort of framing narrative, a device which links these hypothetical future events with what is going on in the DC continuity at present. This device provides the sort of interface between the fairly self-contained story of Twilight and the numerous fairly self-contained storylines and continuities of the DC Cosmos, and it is achieved as follows: This is not without its own ambiguities, as we shall hopefully see, but it provides for the moment the easiest conceptual handle with which to grasp the mechanics of all this.

Thus, the agents in the present set about reaching various superheroes in the present and delivering the warning. Some of those who are warned heed the warning, and make decisions in their current doings and lifestyles that will hopefully avert what is to happen in the future, even though this is by no means definite. Others will ignore the warning and carry on with what they were doing, which of course has some relevance, even by default, to the outcome of this horrific Gotterdummerung waiting in the potential future.

Some of the superheroes affected will perhaps not be reached at all, and thus remain ignorant of the whole thing, although this, too, obviously has relevance to the outcome of what will happen in the future.

Knowing the fate of characters in even a potential future lends them a sort of poignance which is very important and which I'll take a few moments to discuss. As I mentioned in my introduction to Frank's Dark Knight, one of the things that prevents superhero stories from ever attaining the status of true modern myths or legends is that they are open ended. An essential quality of a legend is that the events in it are clearly defined in time; Robin Hood is driven to become an outlaw by the injustices of King John and his minions.

That is his origin. He meets Little John, Friar Tuck and all the rest and forms the merry men. He wins the tournament in disguise, he falls in love with Maid Marian and thwarts the Sheriff of Nottingham. That is his career, including love interest, Major Villains and the formation of a superhero group that he is part of. He lives to see the return of Good King Richard and is finally killed by a woman, firing a last arrow to mark the place where he shall be buried. That is his resolution—you can apply the same paradigm to King Arthur, Davy Crockett or Sherlock Holmes with equal success.

You cannot apply it to most comic book characters because, in order to meet the commercial demands of a continuing series, they can never have a resolution. Indeed, they find it difficult to embrace any of the changes in life that the passage of time brings about for these very same reasons, making them finally less than fully human as well as falling far short of true myth. The reasons this all came up in the Dark Knight intro was that I felt that Frank had managed to fulfill that requirement in terms of Superman and Batman, giving us an image which, while perhaps not of their actual deaths, showed up how they were at their endings, in their final years.

Whether this story will actually ever happen in terms of "real" continuity is irrelevant: It does no damage to the current stories of Batman in the present, and indeed it does the opposite by lending them a certain weight and power by implication and association— every minor shift of attitude in the current Bruce Wayne's approach to life that might be seen in Batman or Detective over the next few years, whether intentionally or not, will provide twinges of excitement for the fans who can perceive their contemporary Batman inching ever closer to the intense and immortal giant portrayed in the Dark Knight chronicles.

It also provides a special poignance They didn't know how it would turn out" that one sometimes gets when looking at old photographs. I feel that by providing a capstone of the type mentioned above, but one which embraces the whole DC Universe rather than just a couple of its heroes, I can lend a coherence and emotional weight to the notion of a cohesive DC Universe, thus fulfilling the criteria set out in my ramblings about the effect of all this on the idea of DC continuity as mentioned above.

Being set in a possible future, it does nothing that cannot be undone, and yet at the same time has a real and tangible effect upon the lives and activities of the various characters in their own books and their own current continuities. At the same time, by providing that capstone and setting the whole continuity into a framework of complete and whole legend, as Frank did in Dark Knight, we make the whole thing seem much more of a whole with a weight of circumstance and history that might help to cement over any shakiness left in the wake of Crisis and its ramifications.

Even if we pull the threads of these various characters' circumstances together at some hypothetical point in the future, this does imply that there is a logical pattern or framework for the whole DC Universe, even if the resolution of the pattern is at a point thirty years in the hypothetical future. This also fulfills the criteria that I outlined in my opening paragraphs concerning the commercial application of the idea. The framing device, which links the central story of Twilight to its possible crossover points with the mainstream DC Universe, is constructed so as to be detachable from the whole.

While the whole story presented in the actual comic will have cutaways to what is going on in the present to show how the crossovers work, the main storyline of Twilight will be working towards its resolution unimpeded. Thus, in order to make the central storyline comprehensible to a wider audience than the trivia-mesmerized hordes of comic fandom, the link with the present can be ignored and effectively severed, leaving only a powerful and simple central story idea, that of an apocalypse for superfolk played out by warring factions against the fascinating backdrop of a drastically altered future, with all the plotting, romance and intrigue of one of those stirring historical dramas about warring factions amongst the Medici or whatever.

It also lends itself nicely to a wide range of other spin-off projects, including those in the toy soldier range. The apocalyptic mood of the series, tied in with current preoccupations and encapsulated in a phrase like the previously mentioned "Waiting for Twilight" could work nicely with regard to the advertising campaign as well as giving us a range of credible adult items such as badges, posters and T-shirts.

The storyline would hopefully be resonant enough to provide a good springboard for new characters or revitalized old characters, and this again would work seamlessly when it came to actually orchestrating all this. A character who hasn't been seen yet When the character appears on the newsstands in her own title some months later, this should strike a suitably ominous resonance back to the Twilight storyline; is it all coming true?

Even if it doesn't all come true in every detail, even if, say, she never joins the Justice League, mightn't most of it come true? This is the sort of feedback effect that I want to foster.

In addition to that, any changes that writers have planned for their characters in the future could be hinted at directly as having happened in the past, so that when they actually happen in the regular comic book, they have a meaning beyond that which they have on the surface. Even if plans change and certain things don't materialize as planned, then even that has its implications with regard to the future proposed in Twilight, especially after certain key ambiguities that will be introduced in the final issues of this proposed crossover.

I should also point out if only to start a new paragraph I just noticed I didn't draw breath on the last page that the fact that the meat of Twilight's central storyline is detachable from the crossover device means that should anyone see any potential in the ultimate superhero movie, bearing in mind that DC currently own almost all of the really important superhero icons imprinted on the mass consciousness and could thus perhaps come up with something that legitimately laid claim to that title, then it will be simple to detach the central idea from the off-putting clutter of a massive continuity such as would almost certainly alienate the average non comic fan moviegoer.

I'm talking about characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Marvel Family, Blackhawk, Plastic Man, the Shadow and all the other truly classic and publicly recognizable characters that DC are fortunate enough to have access to. Handled in the right way, with the inclusion of these classic figures, the Twilight storyline could be printed as a spectacular and epic finale to the whole essential superhero dream. Like I say, anyway, it never hurts to consider these angles, just in case.

Bear in mind that the details of this are subject to change, as long as the overall idea is sound, since I'm not absolutely sure about forthcoming events in the DC Universe that might invalidate some of this. I'm confident there'll be a way around any such problems anyway, so the following should still be fairly sound and useful. The first thing we do is to solve the paradox mentioned earlier, concerning "Does Dark Knight really happen in the future?

At the same time, I'd also like to put right something that has bothered me since the resolution of Crisis, namely the fact that I actually like parallel world stories and that a lot of other creative people enjoy the freedom that gives them too. Some of the better stories in DCs history have been those directly related to the idea of alternate Earths including Crisis itself, paradoxically enough , and there are a lot of brilliant imaginary stories which display the same urges and the same ideas at work, albeit outside mainstream continuity.

What I propose is something that would allow for the possibility of alternate world stories as well as the possibility of revisiting old discarded continuities that still have charm without opening up the whole "Earth-One through -Fifteen" problem that prompted the Crisis in the first place. What I propose, basically, is something like the following, subject to input by any creative people with prior claims on the characters I'm suggesting, of course Firstly, I understand that there is to be some restriction upon time travel in the revised post-Crisis continuity, which is all well and good by me.

To consolidate the importance of these restrictions and their reverberations upon the various books that use time travel as a motif, I suggest that, as an example, some members of the Legion of Super-Heroes should volunteer for a reconnaissance mission exploring the time stream and testing its new limits with regard to their vehicles. Those Legionnaires might be selected for this that me and Paul have agreed between us are appropriate. At the same time, in any other books that might have time travel problems, it could be mentioned in passing that from our own era, Professor Rip Hunter was currently investigating the phenomenon in his time top.

The Time Trapper, living up to his name, intends to set up a sort of temporal fluke field in the timestream that will in effect make time travel in or out of this area all but impossible, thus trapping the Legionnaires who volunteered or were selected in the past, unable to return. I suggest that the Legionnaires chosen should be some that Paul is able to do without for a few months, and maybe those that he'd like to see some changes made to. Like I say, these details can be sorted out later. The Time Trapper is maybe planning to trap these various Legionnaires in the past so that they cannot help prevent some plot he is planning to devil the Legion with in the future and might conceivably be useful as a plot springboard to Paul over in the Legion's own book.

The important thing in terms of Twilight is that the Time Trapper successfully sets up his fluke field, which effectively distorts a whole stretch of the timestream from, say, to the year With very few exceptions, nothing can get in or out of this Time Tangle. Furthermore, as a result of an effect of the fluke field upon a continuum already sorely abused during the reality- reordering of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, within this bubble of fluke time, numerous alternate realities again become possible, if only for a limited thirty year stretch. Although we won't be exploring any of these realities save for one in Twilight, the possibilities there for story ideas in other books are limitless.

Within the fluke, there are maybe worlds where the imaginary stories happened: Or the world in "The Death of Superman". Is there a world perhaps like the old Earth- Two or a world in which Dark Knight takes place? As well as opening up a wealth of story possibilities without opening up the attendant can of worms, it also provides a convenient trash bin for every story that DC ever published that didn't fit in with the continuity. It happened in the fluke. Because travel by people in the mainstream continuities into the fluke zone of the timestream would be presented as all but impossible except in exceptional circumstances, the chance for the infinite number of maybe- worlds in the fluke to spill over and damage the mainstream continuity would be minimal.

The group of Legionnaires find themselves trapped upon an Earth, circa the year , albeit only one of the Earths A. As a result of the sudden moire effect rippling across the timestream from the fluke, any time travelers in the timestream at the time of the flux coming into operation which, as we shall see later, poses an interesting little subparadox are drawn to the same point, trapped within the enclosed multiple continuities of the flux. These include Rip Hunter and some others who I'll detail later. They find themselves cut off from their own times on a world in which the superhero ideal seems to have gone badly awry, with events seeming to be leading to a terribly apocalyptic war between superheroes.

As they struggle to find a way to return to their own times, they experience the terrible events which are going on in the world around them, these events making up the central core-narrative of Twilight. Eventually, they find a way to escape, the Legionnaires and others returning to their respective times while Rip Hunter returns to the present, which is where our story proper "begins", if such a time crossed tale can be said to have a real beginning.

At some point during his unwanted stay in the future, Rip Hunter has met a twenty-years-older version of John Constantine, who, as ever, seems to be a prime mover behind the scenes in the events going down in this world. Prior to Hunter's escape, Constantine circa A. The mechanics of this as a crossover device, as explained above, allow all the creative people involved to do or not do whatever the hell they please while still directly or indirectly involving them in the concept of Twilight as a whole.

Think how much mileage the Thor writers have got from the idea of the Norse Gods trying to do something to prevent Ragnarok, or fearing that Ragnarok was about to come upon them and I'm sure you'll get the possibilities. To do this I'll start off with a brief description of the world and its background before moving on to give sketches of the main characters who make up the events which happen in this world. The World and Its Background The world of Twilight is not a world where the superheroes have deliberately taken over, but one where they have inherited the Earth almost by default as various social institutions started to crumble in the face of accelerating social change, leaving the superheroes in the often unwilling position of being a sort of new royalty.

Even though government and civic authority has all but disintegrated, the various areas of America each have their own coteries of protecting superfolk to look after them, and the superheroes have thus tended to group into clans, each looking after a certain province. There are numerous "Houses" of this nature dividing America up into a kind of feudal barony system effectively, in terms of politics if not in terms of technology, which is as advanced as one might expect by A.

The development of this future society is something which I intend to go into in detail, although not here. I want to avoid the sort of nuke -blighted future that has been a feature of Dark Knight, Watchmen, Ronin and a lot of other futures presented in comic books and other media, like the Road Warrior films and their ilk, because I feel that is becoming something of a cliche, and, while it's gone some way towards serving its purpose and alerting people to the dangers of the present day by pointing out the possible effects waiting in the future, I personally feel that it's all but outlived its usefulness as a motif in Twentieth Century function and would prefer to come up with a different kind of holocaust.

What I want to show is a world which, having lived through the terrors of the Fifties through the early Nineties with overhanging terror of a nuclear Armageddon that seemed inevitable at the time, has found itself faced with the equally inconceivable and terrifying notion that there might not be an apocalypse. That mankind might actually have a future, and might thus be faced with the terrifying prospect of having to deal with it rather than allowing himself the indulgence of getting rid of that responsibility with a convenient mushroom cloud or nine hundred.

Following the predictions made by Alvin Toffler and other eminent futurologists, I want to show a future in which everything from the family structure to the economy is decentralizing into an entirely new form that, while it might ultimately be better suited to survival in the changed conditions of life in the Twenty-First Century, is in a constant and incomprehensible state of flux and chaos for those living through it, caught in one of those violent historical niches where one mode of society changes to another, such as the industrial revolution, for example.

The people of our world find themselves going through an upheaval more abstract and bizarre but every bit as violent, and as their institutions crumble in the face of the wave of social change, they find themselves clinging to the various superhero clans who represent their only anchor of stability in this rapidly altering world. At the time in which our central Twilight storyline takes place, there are eight "Houses", each containing a different superhero clan, scattered across America, although as we shall see some of these are pretty well abandoned or non-functioning in any active sense.

I'll deal with these one at a time, and introduce our main characters along the way, House by House. Alternatively, if I change my mind it could be outside America altogether and set in the Arctic Circle, based around a new Fortress of Solitude. This is because the House of Steel consists of the clan founded by Superman— we have Superman himself, a morally troubled figure who doesn't know what's best to do about the chaos he sees surrounding him, but who has come to accept that the Houses provide the only real permanent structure in a destabilizing world and are thus important to maintain.

Superman has married and raised a couple of kids, and the person that he has married is Wonder Woman, who has had an identity change to Superwoman to accommodate her new stature— we see the genuine and powerful love between these two in the face of the perils of the world surrounding them and the desire to do what's best. They are also troubled by their two offspring— one of these is a new Superboy, and he's about eighteen when the story opens, and he's real bad news. The other child is a less delinquent Supergirl, a new one who, like Superboy, has been born of the union between Superman and Wonder Woman but who is much kinder and gentler, more her mother's child.

Having three members in the Superman class and Wonder Woman Superwoman herself, they are obviously a clan to be reckoned with. House of Thunder The House of Thunder is the other major power, and possesses members with power in the same class as that of the House of Steel. The House of Thunder is composed of the Marvel family, plus additions. Captain Marvel himself is the patriarch, and is if possible even more estranged and troubled by the state of the world than Superman is, perhaps because the Marvel family are having to come to terms with the difficulties of having human alter egos along with everything else, a point I'll return to when I outline the plot.

Alongside Captain Marvel, there is Mary Marvel, who the Captain has married more to form a bona fide clan in opposition to that of Superman than for any other reason. There is also Captain Marvel Jr. To complicate things, Captain Marvel Jr. The other member of the Marvel clan is Mary Marvel Jr.

Peripheral to all this but perhaps interesting, somewhere in the House of Thunder which rises up from the middle of Los Angeles over on the west coast, by the way there are quarters occupied by those characters from the Fawcett universe who can no longer cope with life in an increasingly realistic and difficult outside world. These include a sad and aging Mr. Tawky Tawny and perhaps even Mr. I think I can make it work. The Houses of Steel and Thunder face each other across the country, with the various minor Houses and constellations gathered somewhere in between, vying for the power that's left over after the two major Houses have had their share.

House of Titans One of the two foremost clans making up this collection of lesser Houses is a clan composed of the remains of the Teen Titans, now grown up and a hell of a lot grimmer and more frightening than they ever were in the past. They are led by an adult Nightwing, who, trying to emulate and live up to the reputation of the Batman, has become every bit as driven and vicious as his mentor but who lacks the depth of compassion and understanding that separate the Batman from all the other grim vigilantes. As a result, Nightwing is not an altogether nice character.

This isn't helped by the fact that Starfire has been killed some years earlier during a period when all the aliens were being forcibly expelled from Earth by the big powers, who feared alien influence moving in to take advantage of the disruption and uncertainty in society. Other Titans who have died include Jericho, while some, including Kid Flash and Wonder Girl, have left the Titans to take up with other clans, a cause of bitterness amongst the remaining Titans.

There is also the Cyborg. Vic Stone has had some rejection problems with his bio-electronic parts in the time that's elapsed since our present day, and as a result more and more of his body has been replaced by mechanical parts, including one lobe of his brain. He is forced into considering the frightening question of when exactly something stops being a person and starts being a machine. How much do you have to take out and replace before there's just a robot left? One thing that helps take Stone's mind off his own problems is that he must keep an eye on the Changeling, who has serious problems of his own.

When the terrors of the world finally became too much for his hokey, light- hearted facade, the Changeling did what he always said he'd do: Not completely crazy, but more and more these days he stays in animal form, or worse, in some awful halfway form between the human and the animal. Worse still, increasingly these days he is starting to adapt the forms of animals that don't exist outside the increasingly tortured confines of his mind.

Before the story is out he will have adopted a new identity, calling himself the Chimera. The only other Titan is Raven, who is now an aging, very dignified sorceress. The proposal gained fame after surfacing on the internet in the s where its status as a lost work by one of the superstars of the medium, as well as its dark treatment of superheroes, garnered much attention.

The story was to be set two decades in the future of the DC Universe and would feature the ultimate final battle between the heroes of Earth, including the older and younger generations of superheroes, as well as the supervillains and some extraterrestrials who inhabited Earth in the DC continuity. Twilight was conceived as a standalone limited series which could also be tied to ongoing titles at the other writers' consent, much like the then-recent issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Various web sources preface the proposal by claiming that it originated in , after Moore had made a name for himself with comics such as Swamp Thing but before his departure from DC. With regard to superheroes, Moore stated that one problem with the genre was the lack of a definitive end to the story of most heroes; in the manner that the Norse Gods, for instance, had a definitive end. He felt that this prevented superheroes from achieving the iconic status that they might otherwise acquire and praised Frank Miller's Batman: On the subject of crossovers as a storytelling tool, Moore criticised them as either forcing other books to make tentative connections to a central storyline, or forcing readers to buy comics they otherwise would not for fear of not understanding the storyline.

His goal for the Twilight proposal was to address both of these concerns by providing an end point for the DC superhero universe, as well as providing a crossover which would logically tie into the company's various books without forcing readers to buy numerous titles. The framing device of the story involves future versions of John Constantine and Rip Hunter travelling to the present day, ostensibly to prevent a catastrophe involving the superheroes of their time. The hook through which the series would connect with other titles is the attempts of the two time travelers to recruit others into their quest to alter the future through warning them of upcoming events.

Individual books in the DC Universe could tie into the crossover or not, as their creators wished, by having Hunter or Constantine show up and warn the stars of the book of some event. The main narrative of the series involves Constantine relating the story of what has happened in the future to his present-day self over drinks in a bar. The series was set in the future where the world is ruled by superheroic dynasties, including the House of Steel presided over by Superman and his wife Wonder Woman and the House of Thunder consisting of the Marvel Family as well as houses built around the Teen Titans , the Justice League , and an alliance of supervillains.

The Houses of Steel and Thunder are about to unite through the marriage of Superboy and Mary Marvel , with their combined power potentially threatening the status quo, and several characters attempt to stop it.


  1. The Peculiar Boars of Malloy (Brecht Yearbook).
  2. Navigating the Winds of Change.
  3. I nuovi contratti di lavoro (Trattati brevi) (Italian Edition).
  4. Stories from the 'Twilight of the Superheroes'?
  5. Twilight of the Superheroes?