Tag Archives: DC
Something a bit different this week. Haven’t had time to come up with a topic worth writing about lately, what with all the preparation for jumping continents and what-not but apparently I’ve had time to piss about in Photoshop. Enjoy!
Has there ever been a story about Wonder Woman losing her powers? If not, this is probably why.
The Marvel and DC comic book universes provide something that most other pop culture properties don’t. They have been in production continuously since the 1930s. Arguably, this is one storyline that stretches back as far as 75 years. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have contributed to these stories. And, those contributions have impacted the characters. This is a pretty unique state of affairs that offers some interesting possibilities and challenges.
Two of the challenges that are forever linked are these: How do you avoid getting bogged down in decades of continuity, and how do you ensure that new readers aren’t scared off by all the story that has gone before. Marvel’s solution has been to maintain one solid line, with occasional, individual, in continuity retcons and reboots. For instance, when Peter Parker made a deal with the devil to erase his marriage from history. Or, when The Scarlet Witch used her power to erase most mutants from existence. These tend to be quick bumps in the road that are easily explained. Other changes that don’t go over as well, say Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn hooking up and having babies, are ignored or retconned away.
DC, on the other hand, has a tendency to change EVERYTHING. Let me try to explain this using The Flash, since he’s an important piece in a lot of these changes. In the Golden Age (30s and 40s), The Flash was a guy named Jay Garrick. He wore a little metal helmet and solved crimes and stuff. They stopped publishing his book in the early 50s. In the mid-50s, they started fresh with a brand new Flash – Barry Allen. This one read comic books about Jay Garrick that partly inspired him. It turns out, though, that Jay and the rest of the 40s superheroes actually exist on a parallel Earth! Jay and Barry can cross over from one Earth to the other and hang out. This eventually led to a whole multiverse of Earths. There was an Earth devoted entirely to Captain Marvel and his family. There’s another one where the heroes are evil, and Lex Luthor is the only good guy.
Through the 60s and 70s, Barry and his sidekick Kid Flash (AKA Wally West) had many adventures. Barry married Wally’s aunt, who later died, and then was sent back in time as an infant, and, well, yeah. Complicated. In an effort to simplify all the bizarre continuity weirdness that had gone on, DC had a Crisis On Infinite Earths. This lead to Barry sacrificing himself and all the Earths collapsing into one. Barry stayed dead, for the most part, and Wally became The Flash. This lasted for a good twenty years or so, until Wally left this reality and was replaced by Barry’s grandson from the future, Bart. But, the audience didn’t like Bart much, so he was killed off and Wally returned. Except now he had two super-powered kids to raise. Then Bart and Barry came back to life, and once again I’m cross-eyed.
The New 52 reboot happened last year in another effort to clear some of this stuff up. So, now Barry’s the Flash again and there’s another Earth where Jay is the Flash. So far so good. Bart also exists, and may or may not still be Barry’s grandson from the future, but there’s no sign of poor old Wally.
Okay, so did you follow that? Pretty messy stuff. And, it’s all in an effort to keep things easy to follow. And, so long as you get one issue at a time, or follow a book from one month to the next, you should be fine. The thing is, so much in comics these days is about the collected editions. Trade paperbacks and hardcovers. If you buy a Flash collection from ten years ago, it’s going to be a completely different character in a completely different world than the one that appears in the monthlies. If you get one from ten years before that, you’ll have a whole new set of rules.
The long and short of what I’m trying to get at here is that in their efforts to make their universe less bogged down in continuity, they have managed to make it confusing. From decade to decade, it’s hard to tell what stories from the past actually count and what don’t.
Graham Becksted didn’t mention the San Diego Comic Con once. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 68th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Welcome back faithful readers. This week, I’d like to make a return to my topic of choice: Comic Books. I’m actually writing this on the Monday of one of the rarest of treats, a long weekend. Not just any long weekend, though. It is the day after the birth of my home country – Canada. In honour of Canada day I will be presenting to you a list of 4 of my favorite Canadian comic book artists. The Great White North is the home to quite a few of the greatest mainstream artists in the comic book field.
1.) Chris Bachalo
To start with, I’m going to go with Mr. Chris Bachalo. I’m not sure if he counts, since according to his Wikipedia page he was raised in the U.S. But, he was born here, so he counts in my book. Also, he’s one of the most interesting artists to work consistently in the Marvel and DC universes. It’s sort of a graffiti style mixed with a Bruce Timm animation style. It’s very unique and is instantly recognizable. He made his name on a mini-series featuring the character of Death from the Sandman series. His profile was further raised when he co-created the X-Men spinoff Generation X. Recently he’s done some great work on Spider-Man and New Avengers. He’s actually one of the few artists that I would consider reading regardless of the writer.
2.) Kaare Andrews
I just realized that the rest of the list features artists who are also known for their writing. I don’t know if that means anything, but it probably does. All Canadians are multi-talented geniuses or something. Anyhoo, Kaare Andrews is unique in a lot of ways mostly in that his style is constantly changing. And all of his styles are cool. This is best exemplified by his series of Hulk covers. The one above is obviously inspired by Norman Rockwell, but he did others that look like cereal boxes and Where The Wild Things Are. I first noticed him on Ultimate X-Men, and he did a cool arc on Astonishing X-Men with Warren Ellis. His signature series, though, is Spider-Man Reign. He wrote and drew it, and it’s like a Marvel response to The Dark Knight Returns. Admittedly, it’s not my favorite thing in the world. But, the art is interesting and it’s a unique take on Spidey.
3.) Darwyn Cooke
The next gentleman on this list is Mr. Darwyn Cooke. Not only is he from my home country, he’s also from my home town – Toronto. He still lives here, and he’s one of the most sought after writers/artists in comics. When DC was looking for the best people in the business to work on Before Watchmen, he was asked to write and draw one series and write another. His style is very much an animated style. In fact, he was a storyboard artist on the Batman Animated Series. He’s best known for his mini-series, DC: New Frontier, which was turned into a direct to DVD animated movie. It’s very cool, and puts the changes of the DC universe into a real world perspective. For example, it explains why Batman went from a gun-toting, fear the night, badass into a kid-friendly, sidekick toting, hero. He’s also done extensive runs on Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and he has adapted some of Richard Stark’s Parker novels.
4.) John Byrne
Finally, we come to the only true legend on this list. He hasn’t had a great run of it lately, especially since his online persona is not the friendliest. He has had feuds with some of the greats in the business, but he is also one half of one of the greatest creative teams in mainstream comic book history. He and Chris Claremont redefined the X-Men, and Byrne was at the very least one half of that equation. Probably more since he is credited as a co-plotter on most of the storylines that they are best known for. His clean, crisp style is iconic and very influential. He also wrote and drew some of the most important issues of Fantastic Four and rebooted Superman after Crisis on Infinite Earths. His impact in comics is undeniable, and it’s too bad that he hasn’t had much work at Marvel or DC in recent years. I hope he gets another chance to work on the characters he helped define before he has to retire.
Graham Becksted is Canadian. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 67th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
So, in case you hadn’t noticed, homosexuality has been the latest big news item in mainstream comics. Both Marvel and DC had some big announcements in the last couple of weeks regarding two B-list (at best) characters. The companies touted their announcements as big events, and game changers, and earth quaking, and senses shattering. By and large though, these have made a fairly minor impact on me and, I suspect, most of the comic buying public.
Marvel got out of the gate first, both in these announcements and in the whole gay superhero race. Northstar, who was confirmed gay in 1992 but whose sexuality had been hinted at for years, is getting married to his boyfriend in an upcoming issue of Astonishing X-Men. This is all well and good, but it doesn’t really change anything. Maybe it’s just me, but gay people getting married shouldn’t be a big deal. I don’t understand why anyone would be against it, and as such I find it hard to drum up any more interest in a gay marriage than I would for a straight one. I mean, maybe if he were marrying Spider-Man, or something. Then, I’d have to get the issue just to see how they pull it off. But, he’s just marrying his regular, average joe boyfriend.
The other thing about the story is that it’s happening in a sort of second-tier X-Men title. All of the main X-Men stories are happening in Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine And The X-Men. Astonishing hasn’t been an important book since Joss Whedon and Warren Ellis were on it. The creative team is Marjorie Liu and Mike Perkins neither of whom is exactly a big draw. Despite all of that, it will probably sell well with people wanting to get a copy in the hopes that the value sky rockets and they can resell it for big bucks. I doubt, though, that in a year or two anyone will care that a second-rate, Canadian X-Man is married to another guy.
On to the DC side of this story. In the whole New 52 relaunch some characters were wiped out of existence due to continuity issues. One of them was the out and proud Obsidian. He was deleted because his father, Alan Scott, is now too young to have had him. And too gay. That’s right, the original Green Lantern is now playing for the other team. A character so important that he hasn’t had a solo ongoing series since the 1940s. He’s barely even connected to the rest of the Green Lantern mythos. And, he’s going to be appearing in a comic book that takes place on a different Earth than the rest of the New 52. He seems like he’ll have about as much impact on the rest of the DCU as Northstar does on the Marvel U.
All I’m asking is that if there’s going to be a push to address hot button issues, have it happen in titles and to characters that people are going to notice. Make Wonder Woman a lesbian or Wolverine a muslim, and then there will be something worth talking about. When the character you’re showcasing these ideas with can just be swept under the rug after the hoopla’s died down, you’re doing a disservice to the character and to the issue.
Graham Becksted’s too tired to think of a quippy intro line to this paragraph. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 66th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
All right! All right! I guess I’ll just have to give in. This week, there’s one thing all comic book blogs have to talk about. I’m not going to bury the lead any further. Watchmen. Prequels. There. I said it. Now, I don’t really know what else to say since every other blog seems to have said it all before. But seriously, was anyone really surprised about this?
I mean, sure there might have been some initial shock, but wasn’t it only a matter of time? For the past twenty-five years people have been saying, “They better not make a Watchmen sequel!” “How could they even consider doing a follow up?” “Watchmen is untouchable.” Turns out they were half right. Prequels are untouchable (at least for now), but prequels are totally fair game. At least, that’s what DC says. Alan Moore is not pleased.
But, Alan Moore is never pleased. The only time I’ve ever seen him even close to pleased was when he was talking to some Occupy London protestors. And I’m not just being flippant. It was on the news! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FumNSfY7SfI) Seriously, though, Moore fights with anyone over anything. He fought with DC over creator rights, and a rating system. He ended up not trusting the Image guys and Rob Liefeld in particular. He fought with Jim Lee when Wildstorm was sold to DC and they started messing with his work. He hates Marvel for some reason that I cannot quite figure out. (It has something to do with his time writing for Marvel UK.) So, Alan Moore not liking something is not reason enough for it not to be done.
The entire comic book industry is about taking other people’s work and exploiting it. I knew this isn’t exactly a news bulletin, but even Watchman is based on other comic book people’s work. Rorschach is a thinly veiled version of the Question. Nite Owl is Blue Beetle. Doctor Manhattan is based on Captain Atom. Has he ever thanked Steve Ditko for letting him corrupt all of his characters?
Besides, it seems like whenever comic book pundits say you can’t do something the industry takes it like a dare. After Chris Claremont killed Jean Grey in the Dark Phoenix Saga, there was an ongoing contest in the Marvel offices to find a way to bring her back. So, just when fans are getting used to the idea of Jean Grey being dead, she gets resurrected.
There used to be a saying, “Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, and Bucky are the only characters who stay dead.” Add to that Batman’s first dead Robin (Jason Todd), and you have a pretty important group of characters. All but Uncle Ben have returned to life in one form or another, most notably Bucky and Jason Todd. All three are characters whose deaths had a serious impact on other characters. They represented the greatest failures of Captain America, Batman, and Spider-Man. They influenced their thought processes and their priorities. But, that didn’t stop the industry from bringing them back.
Why should Watchmen be any different? Bucky’s resurrection has lead to a “new” character and some fantastic stories by Ed Brubaker. He even lead a group of Avengers for a short time. Maybe Watchmen could follow a similar trajectory? A lot of concern and dissention, but ultimately a big success? They certainly got a strong group of creators to give it the best chance possible.
Graham Becksted watches the Watchmen. And, apparently, so does the rest of the internet. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 52nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
P.S. Honestly, I’m not even all that interested in these prequels. But, I’m sure I’ll try ‘em out in trade just to see what’s what. At the very least it’ll give me something else to write about.
Marvel recently announced that the next in a long line of Spider-Man cartoons. In the last ten years there have been three different series, and Ultimate Spider-Man will be the next. Based on the Brian Michael Bendis modern retelling of the character’s history, it will begin airing on Disney XD in the summer. I’m really looking forward to watching this if only for the crew attached. First of all, Bendis is heavily involved. Second, most of the other main writers/producers are best known for comic book work (Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Steven Seagle and Duncan Rouleau). And finally, the other big brain on the show was one of the creators of the Batman Animated Series – Paul Dini.
That Batman show was part of a great superhero cartoon renaissance of the 90s. Animation standards went up, and so did writing quality. Batman, Spider-Man, and The X-Men cartoons all started within a few years of each other were all cartoons that could be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups alike. The Marvel ones in particular introduced storylines that would run through multiple episodes and even season long arcs. The X-Men cartoon was can’t miss TV for me as I had to know what was going to happen next.
Following in Batman’s footsteps, DC launched a whole line of cartoons in the same style. First there was Superman, then Superman and Batman, and finally the Justice League. The Justice League cartoon is the only Saturday morning cartoon I watched with any regularity since defeating the horrors of puberty. It has multi-episode arcs, complicated character relationships, and consequences that last beyond the closing credits. The third and fourth seasons took the show to a new level with a rotating cast of more obscure characters. When kids start hunting for action figures of Vixen (a member of the crappy as they sound Detroit Justice League) and The Question (Steve Ditko’s Ayn Rand inspired faceless detective) you know a show’s doing something right.
Marvel recently followed in a similar path with Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I haven’t followed that show quite as closely, but I really enjoyed what I saw. It had the same vibe of “absolutely anyone can turn up in any episode”, and it definitely had running plot lines keeping a sense of consistency. A second season has been announced but has yet to air. Hopefully it can keep the good times rolling for Marvel’s cartoons.
The potential for great cartoons is one of the best things to come from the Disney purchase of Marvel. DC has had Warner Bros backing for their cartoons for years and their cartoons have really thrived with that connection. I think that’s a pretty good sign, as Marvel has had trouble making consistently good cartoons in the last decade or so.
Graham Becksted knows more about cartoons than most 26 year olds should. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 51st follower, he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I’m back! After a week in the sun, sand and booze I’m ready to start the New Year. And what better way to do that than with an obligatory best of the previous year post!? Except, I don’t read nearly enough to make a truly representative best of the year, so it’s just going to be a my thoughts on the previous year.
First and foremost, I have to talk about Unwritten. I think it started in 2010, but I started reading it in trades this year and it is fantastic. Great writing and art, it’s an addictive read that is packed with literary references. Anyone who likes Harry Potter and YA literature in general should check this out post haste. And, if all that doesn’t convince you, THIS will: there’s a choose your own adventure issue.
Next, how can I talk about this year without mentioning the DC New 52. Great from a sales perspective, but, at least in my opinion, not so great with the actual execution. Admitedly, I haven’t read all that many of them so far. But, what I have has left me a little cold. In fact, of the ones that I’ve read I found the Internet enraging Catwoman the most intriguing. Wonder Woman was also quite good, and I’m looking forward to reading more of it. Superman by George Perez was completely awful, and Hawkman was just dull. But, I will gladly try anything else that anyone would like to recommend. I’d love to try collecting something in the New 52 on a monthly basis, but I just haven’t found anything that’s worth it yet.
As usual, Jonathan Hickman’s genius confuses and amazes me. I’ve read every issue of SHIELD and they’re all very interesting, but I have no idea what’s going on. Nikolai Tesla’s son is caught in a war between Isaac Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci. Michaelangelo is involved, and so are Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic’s fathers. There’s time travel, fighting robots in ancient Greece, and Galileo repelling Galactus. I feel like I should go to the library and do serious research after every issue. Either that, or yell at Hickman for making me feel like I’m a recent lobotomy patient.
My last two are comics that I’m depressingly late to the party on. Firstly, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man. By which I mean the 2009 relaunch, and not the relaunch from this year. Bendis and David Lafuente really gave the character a cool fresh start and introduced some fantastic twists. Like, the Human Torch and Iceman moving in with Peter Parker, Aunt May and Gwen Stacy. The superhero stuff is great, but the teen angsty drama was a ton of fun. And don’t take this as a slight on the current Miles Morales Ultimate Spidey, I just haven’t gotten that far yet.
And, lastly – Clan Destine. This is a series that Alan Davis created, wrote and drew for Marvel in the mid 90s. It tried to introduce a new family of super powered characters to the Marvel Universe, but ultimately wasn’t successful (as evidenced by the fact that you’ve never heard of them.) Davis is an amazing artist and a decent writer, and puts both his talents to use creating an interesting drama. It’s simple and sweet, and has a way of drawing you in. All of the characters are interesting and unique, and clash against each other in a really familial way. They fight, but they also all clearly care about each other. They aren’t really superheroes either, just a bunch of people who are trying to get by. Good stuff.
All right, that’s all for now. If you’ve got any recommendations, please feel free to send ‘em my way in the comments.
Graham Becksted is back in the country, and has the barest hint of a tan. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 50th follower, he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Superhero origins are funny things. They define how a character will be portrayed for the rest of their run. When done well, they can set up a character for hundreds of great stories, but if they’re done poorly they can be an anchor that drags the whole series down. The best origin story is probably that of Batman. A boy watches his parents get gunned down and vows to never let that happen to anyone else again. He uses his vast wealth to train his body and mind to become the perfect crime fighting machine. Everything you need to know about the character is right there in the origin. He’s got a dark past, he’s a perfectionist, and he’ll do whatever it takes to stop criminals. Over the years some details have changed, like who killed his parents and how he trained, but the basic details stay the same. Even when he got all campy in the 60s, they stayed true to the basics.
Wonder Woman is a different story. Her origins have always been a bit more vague. Initially, she was just the best of the amazons and she won the right to take Steve Trevor back to America and help fight the Nazis. So, from that we know that she’s tough and likes adventure. It doesn’t give us much to go on. Eventually, they changed it so that she was imbued with the powers of some of the Greek gods. Then, she was the daughter of the original Wonder Woman who fought with America in World War 2. Then she was an ambassador from the Amazons to bring peace to the outside world. The problem is that when you get right down to it, she’s a hard character to pin down. Every writer who takes over the book seems to have a different idea of who the character is and what her motivations are. With the launch of DC’s “New 52” they’ve altered her origin yet again. Now she is the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta (the leader of the Amazons).
After the origin, there comes a period of setting the basic framework for what the character’s life is like. Batman runs Wayne Enterprises, but mainly spends his time fighting crime. He’s rich, has a butler, and a propensity for picking up young boys. Superman was raised on a farm, is modest, works as a reporter, and feels it’s his duty to help out. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, has had a million different jobs, and lifestyles. She’s worked for the army, she’s been an ambassador, she lost her powers and learned kung-fu, and she’s been a secret agent. Currently, her stories are taking on more of a horror twist, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
What the character needs is for a writer and artist team to take over the character and define her. Set her origin in stone. Take the most iconic aspects of her (lasso, tiara, invisible jet) and make them integral to who she is. Properly set out exactly what her powers are and what their limits are. I mean, if she can fly on her own why does she need a jet? Once details like that get hammered out she can finally have a chance at becoming as famous as the other big two at DC.
This week, I bring you part two of my Movember tribute to great Moustaches in comics!
This week, the Distinguished Competition:
The first moustache that comes to mind when I think of DC is a sinister little number. It’s something of a cross between Dali and John Waters and it’s worn by Hal Jordan’s (Green Lantern to the uninitiated) greatest foe!
Hardly thick enough to catch crumbs, it’s been with the wearer through good times and bad. Sinestro turned his back on the Green Lantern Corps, and started to use his stylish ‘stache to strike fear in the hearts of all. Now he has his own Corps, The Sinestro Corps, and he uses said ‘stache like antenna to hunt down new members.
Batman has had many sidekicks through the years. Several Robins from Dick Grayson to Tim Drake. His own son. Three or four Batgirls. But, his most stalwart companion is his butler’s moustache.
It’s not terribly well known that Alfred was quite different in his initial appearances. He was a chubby fellow, with a propensity for bumbling into the Caped Crusader’s crime fighting pursuits. In those days, he was more likely to cause a problem than to help solve it. But, one day, in an effort to improve himself, he went to a spa and cleaned himself up. When he returned, he was trim, capable, and moustachioed. This Alfred, thanks to his handy little ‘stache, could fix anything from a broken bone to a nice cup of tea. A vast improvement and the sole constant in Batman’s hectic life!
Finally, a character who would appear to not even have a ‘stache. But this is the most devious lip toupee yet.
Cesar Romero, the original TV joker refused to shave to play the baldfaced Joker. He said that he owed his entire career to his hairy sneezeguard. So, they just painted white makeup over it, thus creating a secret-stache. He was the most consistent thorn in Adam West’s side during the three years that the show was on the air, and probably the most memorable. And to think, none of it would be possible without that moustache.
So, if you’re as thankful for moustaches as Mr. Cesar Romero was, please make a donation to help men’s health at: www.mobro.co/GrahamBecksted
And, if you’d like, you can follow me on twitter @GrahamBecksted .
Superheroes have come a long way over the course of their over 70 years of existence. The physical quality of the comic has improved, from the paper stock to the colouring. A greater diversity of races and genders has been introduced. The writing and art in general have improved. Even within the worlds depicted in the comics there have been some big changes for these characters. None bigger, perhaps, than their powers.
As with all things superheroes, it’s best to start with the original. Superman was created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. In his earliest appearances he could jump real high, he was pretty strong, he was pretty fast, and he could see pretty far. Oh, and he could also control his face muscles so well that he could make himself look like someone else. That’s it. Over the years, his powers grew. Instead of jumping, he gained the ability to fly. He went from being able to survive an artillery shell, to being able to survive a nuclear explosion. And, his powers didn’t just increase in strength, but in number. He gained the ability to see through walls, and shoot lasers out of his eyes. His memory became infallible. He could blow hurricanes. Oh, and he had super-ventriloquism whatever the hell that means.
The next big time superhero created was Batman by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939. He was the opposite in many ways to Superman. No powers, just lots and lots of money. But, like Superman, his abilities increased over the years. He started off as a guy with a cape and a gun who killed people who broke the law. He had a Batmobile, but it was basically just a car. Over the time he has gone from a millionaire to a billionaire. He’s gained a Batplane, Batcycle, Batboat, Batcopter, and pretty much any other vehicle you can slap a bat on. He has also gone from being a detective to the World’s Greatest Detective. Whenever two kids argue who would win in a fight between superheroes, Batman always wins because he’s supposedly smart enough to find anyone’s weakness.
Every other superhero created is some combination of these two. They’re the fathers of the genre. And their children definitely take after them. Take Iceman from the X-Men for example. He starts out as a young guy who looks like a snowman. He can make simple things out of snow, and he can ride around on an ice platform. Now he is an omega-level mutant who can freeze the water in a person’s body. He can alter the temperature his environment. In some versions, he can even turn his body into a thin layer of ice and move across surfaces in that form.
Another example from the world of the X-Men are the Summers brothers. Scott Summers, Cyclops, has the ability to shoot blasts of energy out of his eyes. Alex Summers, Havok, was created a few years later and has powers that are a bit more difficult to describe. He can shoot these sort of ray things that heat stuff up to the point that they instantly explode or melt. It involves absorbing cosmic rays, or something. Gabriel Summers, or Lord Vulcan, was introduced a few years ago and can basically do anything. He can manipulate all forms of energy, including those of other mutants. So, if he needs telepathic powers, he manipulates the powers of a nearby telepath. His power basically lets him do anything.
Okay, so, back to Superman. In the eighties, the bosses at DC realized that he was way too powerful. They were having a hard time coming up with anything that could threaten him. So, he was rebooted and made a little less super. His strength was toned down, and he lost some of his more ludicrous “powers” like super-ventriloquism, and his genius level intellect. It made for some more interesting stories, because there was actually a chance that he would be defeated. I think that’s something that more superheroes need to have done to them.
When you have a character like Iceman who went from being able to create some snow, to being able to freeze a person at the molecular level you have to go even further with his villains. Because of that, Iceman rarely appears in X-Men comics anymore. A much less powerful version of him appears pretty consistently in Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men, though. If a character has powers that you need a degree in chemistry to understand, it’s going to be pretty hard to come up with stories for them to be involved in.
To sum up: powers – good! Infinite power – bad!