Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Assembly Line Heroes

It should come as no surprise that one of my chief complaints about DC Comics is that the comics they produce are not a lot of fun. This is because this is everybody's (or at least everybody with Internet access) chief complaint about DC Comics. The problem with DC at the moment is that every character must be dark and edgy and violent.

It makes a sort of sense.  I understand the appeal of dark and edgy characters. Audiences love badasses that play by their own rules. We fantasize about being these people, no longer bound by the petty rules and restriction of everyday society and strong enough to impose our whims on others. Nobody makes Batman do paperwork.

And that by itself wouldn't be so bad.  After all, power fantasies are pretty much at the heart of superhero comics. But its combined with another trend that makes these comics a chore to read. You see, it's no longer enough for the heroes to be badasses, they must also be tortured badasses.
They have to have deep psychological scars that explain why they are who they are and why they feel compelled to go forth and fight crime.

I suppose this create an illusion of depth. By giving a character psychological issues , you can create conflict and it allows for some compelling psychodrama. But it doesn't work for every character. I shouldn't look at Captain Marvel, a superhero who hung out with a talking tiger, whose most dangerous enemy was a worm who wore glasses, and fell like I'm reading an issue of Batman.

I'm not saying superheroes should be angst free. Done right, it could make for cool stories. Some of my favorite Batman comics were done with him in full on brooding avenger of the night mode. But it shouldn't -- it can't be every single character. Theres nothing wrong with superheroes being relatively light hearted and, dare I even say it fun. I wish the people who made the comics would remember that from time to time.

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