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02 August 2002 @ 11:48 am
Rant of the day #2: Superhero comics  
I've gone on record before saying I don't like superhero comics.

  1. Lack of real self-sacrifice. To my mind, true heroism often involves losing something. Most superhero comic characters are too static, and never really lose everything (which creates an impression that they never RISK anything).
  2. Resurrections. Dead should be permanent, especially if it was an act of self-sacrifice. There should not be dozens of different ways different characters have been "brought back" within a single universe.
  3. Shattered suspension of disbelief. I can accept any of the following at a given time, but if you require me to swallow too many at once I WILL get pissed off.
    1. "Mutants"
    2. Powers gained from exposure to Radiation (a big stretch for me, but it's a classic)
    3. Aliens that look exactly like humans
    4. Aliens that look radically unlike humans
    5. Aliens that look radically unlike humans, but can disguise themselves somehow
    6. Psionics
    7. Powers granted from a mysterious event
    8. Gods and Demigods living among mortals
    9. Genetically engineered super-humans
    10. Cosmic non-deity forces assuming human form
    11. Cosmic non-deity powers granted to humans
    12. Cyber tech
    13. Magic
    14. "Mysterious laboratory accidents"
  4. Cross-overs. These create a relationship between two different characters with different explanations. Too many crossovers result in an ill-conceived ludicrously inconsistent obscenity like the Marvel Comics universe.
  5. Costumes. I can understand hiding your identity, but you don't need to dress like a freaking bat to do it.
  6. Aliases
  7. Over-the-top action. Writers should have their hands cut off at the wrists if their characters save the world twice. The writer should be immediately executed if the characters save the world twice in the same volume.
  8. If there are THAT many threats that can't be handled by "mundanes", the comic book universe is radically different than our own. Ideally, this should be tied back in to the exact same difference that creates the "superheroes" in the first place.

Basically, I want a superhero comic to read like good scifi; a world that is different from our own in a MINIMAL set of SPECIFIC ways. The full impact of these differences should be explored by the story. Implausability doesn't bother me as much as inconsistency. I want an internally consistent, intricate universe; I want to be more fascinated by the universe and the ideas than by the characters. I good scifi author can spin a universe into many years of fascinating stories. I like Brian's superhero game a lot; I'd probably enjoy it even more if the same concept wasn't set in the Marvel universe. I'm still enjoying CannonComics games; thus far the universe is a lot more consistent. Thus far I've only had to deal with magic and psionics and "metahumans", although I've heard that there are also a couple humanoid aliens running around this world. All that being said, I am really liking Rising Stars, which pullthestars has been loaning me.
Eric Franklingamethyme on August 2nd, 2002 01:14 pm (UTC)
Is Rising Stars the JMS comic?

JMS = J. Michael Stracztoomanyletterstokeepstraightski - the man responsible for Babylon 5
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on August 2nd, 2002 01:32 pm (UTC)
Yes. Definitely worth reading.
Eric Franklingamethyme on August 2nd, 2002 01:51 pm (UTC)
I've read the first few collected volumes. Very good.

It's tough to get "gritty" and "superpowers" together.

Have you read "Watchmen" ?

I really need to get a copy of taht one ...
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on August 2nd, 2002 02:12 pm (UTC)
Nope. Haven't read "Watchmen" yet.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on August 2nd, 2002 02:36 pm (UTC)
UPDATE: pullthestars just convinced me to pick up a copy of "Watchmen".
Eric Franklingamethyme on August 2nd, 2002 02:58 pm (UTC)

Definately worth reading.
Jim: karandraswarpdragon on August 2nd, 2002 03:53 pm (UTC)
It is very good, and indeed is vulnerable to pretty much none of the criticisms you spelled out. If you don't wanna buy right away, I have one you can borrow.
Jim: karandraswarpdragon on August 2nd, 2002 01:50 pm (UTC)
Your criticism sounds like the promotion pieces for the New Universe, which Marvel launched to celebrate it's I-think-25th anniversary. It lauded Marvel's realism as better than what had preceded it (buildings having flat bottoms was one example), but pointed to the many fantasy elements, such as clothes made from unstable molecules.
The New Universe, Marvel promised, would be even closer to real life, basically real life with just a few very carefully introduced fantasy elements. Well, they introduced a different fantasy element for each of the eight books, so it rapidly became a mini-Marvel Universe.
I would note it sounds like you're less opposed to the genre itself as with the sprawling universes that have grown out of decades of Marvel and DC. I'm just old enough to remember when crossovers were a big deal, and I think they can be pretty neat (I loved the two they used in Buffy S4/Angel S1). But, yeah, the overkill is.... well, overkill.
St. Sean the Amusedseanb on August 2nd, 2002 02:18 pm (UTC)
Every once in a while, I get inordinately gleeful when I see something done RIGHT.

For example, there was a Batman Beyond episode where he worked (briefly) with that future's version of the Justice League. A building was falling over, and superman stopped it. The building visibly crunched around the point of impact, windows shattered, and people tumbled out of the building past Superman, plummeting to their doom. It made my geeky heart sing.

Now, if only they'd show somebody's back snap when they are falling at high speed and a superhero "catches" them. When you are falling at 60 m/s, it doesn't matter whether you hit concrete or Superman's arms; if they don't match velocity, you go splat.
TW Bruhn: Clobberin'Style (Smite!)apestyle on August 2nd, 2002 04:14 pm (UTC)
I have exactly one graphic novel that you might enjoy. Sure, its Daredevil so radiation gave him his 'radar sense', but its very well done.

Oh, and Daredevil suffers. A lot. Since I'll be out-of-work starting after today I'll have plenty of time to drop it off. Maybe @ game next week.