September 7, 2017

I hate superheroes

Wearing undies on the outside doesn't make one super

I've never been much of a super-hero comic lover. I've often felt that the supers, if I may collectively address them as such, were poorly thought out characters. They always seem so infallible, completely lacking the rich tapestry of flaws that round out the personality of a "normal" human being. This has been especially true of the DC Universe characters. Let's just talk about their three favourite children.

  1. Superman

    Mr. Perfect goody-two-shoes who started off simple superhuman abilities. Leaping over tall buildings in a single bound is one thing. But over time, the scope of his powers extended beyond all basic concepts of physics and logic. Travel across dimensions? Into deep space? He transcends time, space and energy and yet, he retains a trivial primary charter of fighting crime in Metropolis? Why would he even bother?

    I would expect someone with as much power as him to be impassive... like Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen. He would hardly bother with pedestrian concepts of right and wrong. And probably have better dress sense than wear a cape, and briefs over tights.

    Lastly, why does he even bother with a secret identity?

  2. Batman

    This was DC's attempt at making a more relatable super hero. A tortured soul, haunted by the horrific murder of his parents, which he witnessed as a young boy. Billionaire, loner, and spends his nights fighting crime on the streets of Gotham. While marginally more plausible than alien baby from Kansas, this is also where they have lost the plot a little.

    So yes, he did see his parents murdered. But since then, the only parent he has had has been Alfred, his butler. Alfred has raised him and cared for him, and moulded him into the aforementioned "tortured" soul. Lemme splice that again. Rich kid, and the only authority figure is technically his employee. That's a recipe for a spoilt brat, a deplorable 1% human being, not a vigilante masked crusader.

  3. Wonder Woman

    Princess Diana of Themyscira has an origin / back story that make her colleagues the caped crusader and the man of steel almost realistic. She's essentially a greek goddess who fights crime dressed in lingerie. This is where we give up.

Marvel has better character design and origin stories than the DC lot. On the whole, the characters are much more relatable, and their circumstances believable.

  1. Spiderman

    I like the idea of a school kid, working part time and struggling to make ends meet. He's often torn between doing the right thing and making money. I also like J Jonah Jameson, the archetypal yellow journalist who vilifies Spiderman constantly, despite his obviously positive achievements. Peter Parker also has this tongue-in-cheek persona, and his clever one-liners are quite entertaining.

    Spiderman's antagonists are kinda irritating though. Doc Ock? Green Goblin? Sandman?

  2. X-Men

    I like that there are a number of people, each with one power, and one or more vulnerabilities. They have to work together to fight the forces of evil. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I also like that there are a number of other powered folk who are not particularly convinced that they are meant to be battling evil. Or rather, they resent being treated as freaks by the non-powered people.

    The villains are similarly powered people, and what often tilts the odds in the X-Men's favour is their tendency to stick together, and have each others backs. Good stuff.

  3. Captain America

    The origin story is a little... irritating. Super soldier serum during WWII ? Before Watson and Crick discovered the double helix? Come off it. Also, his primary weapon is an indestructible shield? Thankfully, the movies, and specifically, Chris Pine have infused this character with a lot of wit and charm, and the subtle one-liners referencing his very dated outlook and thought process add to this charm.

  4. S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Avengers

    S.H.I.E.L.D. has an irritating backronym because it seems so contrived. But Shield itself seems seems to be almost an infinite visibility and control into peoples lives. They have a charter that seems to be beyond that of NSA, CIA, and FBI combined, and they police the whole world. There never seems to be any paucity of funds for them (flying aircraft carriers?) and they seem to be able to do anything and go anywhere, but are not aware of something as fundamental as a rogue enemy organisation within their midst? I hope the human race goes extinct before we allow an organisation like SHIELD to exist.

    As for the Avengers, err... first, what are they "Avenging"? Phil Coulson's faked death? They are a poorly named, and poorly orchestrated band of vigilantes, who seem to get successful largely by luck and the ineptitude of their opponents.

There is an entire world of comics/graphic novels out there, outside the DC and Marvel cocoons, which feature no superheroes or flimsy origin stories at all. No costumed vigilantes, no mysterious super powers. These are true graphic novels, and are infinitely more entertaining than men wearing briefs over tights.