A common conceit of today's comics writers.

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A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby Darrin Kelley » Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:57 pm

It's a common enough idea that evil is somehow "edgy" or "realistic", and that evil people are "edgy" and "mature" and "practical" and that they "face reality" while those who strive to be good are "naive", "unrealistic", "impractical".


When you have mainstream writers and editors operating from the above mindset, it is no wonder mainstream comics are in the horrendous shape they are.

This type of cynicism I believe has brought superhero comics to the absolute brink. And there has to be a way to turn things around.

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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby Kyle » Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:39 pm

What's the source for the quote?

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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby The_Watchman » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:25 pm

Kyle wrote:What's the source for the quote?


A discussion of the FATAL rpg according to google.

It is a pervasive view and has an annoying tendency to manifest "shades of gray" as 'behaves like an asshole and gets rewarded for doing so" or "the world just keeps dumping on characters until they become nothing but angsty." Thankfully, there's still plenty of works that use flawed heroes to highlight heroism rather than flaws. I mean take someone like Garth Ennis, who does some really scummy protagonists but still clearly gets the necessity of levity and praising heroic ideals. Look at how he treats Superman. Superman isn't a joke or an outdated notion when he shows up in Ennis' comics. He's the paragon of goodness and an inspiration. Ultimately, I think there has to be heroism or it is just a deconstruction or satire of superheroes.

I think there's also a major issue with being able to see multiple sides and portray them well. Nuance is not often handled well in superhero comics and its far too common that the "right" side just seems to be designated by the writer without allowing ambiguity. AvX and Civil War both did this absolutely terribly by not being willing to explore the conflicts between characters in a deep, meaningful way. You can have a good story and make it unclear which side was right but instead, the current method just seems to be to make the designated "wrong" side do something horrible to justify the actions of the "right" side. But putting that kind of thing into a continuous universe creates a breakdown for other elements.

Now I am an ardent supporter of the "superheroes don't kill" rule for a lot of heroes but that's really hard to justify when you have villains slaughtering hundreds every time they escape. An unbending no-kill policy can be justified for some heroes like Superman (who values all sentient life and views killing as the ultimate betrayal of the Hope he stands for), Batman (who views killing as the anathema of everything Bruce Wayne created the Batman to stop), or Spider-man (who is strongly motivated by saving people after inadvertently letting Ben die) but why would other heroes let these villains continue to live? Honestly, why doesn't Thor just bash in the heads of Carnage and all the other unrepetant and irredemable monsters? Why doesn't Wonder Woman (or any of the antiheroes or even outright villains) kill the Joker? And of course, writers make it even worse with the "it will make me as bad as him" or the "if I kill him, who next?" justifications. That's utter nonsense. Even sidestepping the morality of guilt by inaction, it makes the heroes weak. A hero that won't kill because it would make him look or feel bad is not a hero. A hero shouldn't kill because valuing all life is intrinsic to their nature. He or she could no more willingly take a life than he or could choose not to love or feel emotions.
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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby DSumner » Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:04 pm

The minute you start trying to inject reality into a world where people shoot laser from their eyes, gain super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider, or the Earth is invaded by aliens every other weak, you're gonna loose me, as one of major premises of superheros is the suspension of belief.

As far as why superheroes don't just outright kill the villains they encounter, is because superheroes are supposed to be setting an example, their an ideal that other people are supposed to try to look up to. They're showing that there's a "better way". Now if you want a logical reason, the minute a costumed vigilante, which is exactly what superheroes are, start killing villains, then the government is going to get involved, and crackdown, if not out right outlaw them.
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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby Darrin Kelley » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:26 pm

The_Watchman wrote:A discussion of the FATAL rpg according to google.


Inspiration comes from the strangest places. And honestly, it made a point to me that I felt justified a brand new conversation.

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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby FuzzyBoots » Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:21 am

Civil War was even messier because they never really sat down and said "these are the good guys", so who was kicking the dog to establish themselves as the good guys varied from issue to issue. If we wanted to be charitable, that could partially model the fact that both sides had their points, and unreliable narrators, but I doubt it was that deep.

Personally, I don't necessarily have a problem with superheroes that kill. I have a problem with superheroes that murder (e.g. killing a defeated opponent) or feel no remorse for killing. An example of where the killing was justified was Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord. She knew that if she didn't snap Lord's neck, Superman was going to kill even more people. It was the right solution for the problem.

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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby The_Watchman » Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:54 am

Darrin Kelley wrote:
The_Watchman wrote:A discussion of the FATAL rpg according to google.


Inspiration comes from the strangest places. And honestly, it made a point to me that I felt justified a brand new conversation.


Totally agree. There's quite a few comics that seem to have the basic maturity level as FATAL :lol:
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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby Darrin Kelley » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:29 am

I think the entire deconstruction trend has its roots in the mindset that I illustrated above. Because the resulting books ultimately paint the heroes as foolish for taking the stands they have chosen. That it instead does everything possible to outright glorify villainy.

Batman, for example, gets painted as a fool in the eyes of the reader for not ending the Joker.

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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby saint_matthew » Mon Feb 10, 2014 8:27 pm

FuzzyBoots wrote:Civil War was even messier because they never really sat down and said "these are the good guys", so who was kicking the dog to establish themselves as the good guys varied from issue to issue.


Actually it came out later in a podcast of a con panel that Iron Mans side was meant to be the good side & caps was meant to be in the wrong... Which I think demonstrates two things
1. Comic writers at the time had no idea what there fans wanted
2. Comic writers are still willing to throw there work under the bus when they realise they have really REALLY taken a giant misstep.
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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby DSumner » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:14 pm

FuzzyBoots wrote:An example of where the killing was justified was Wonder Woman and Maxwell Lord. She knew that if she didn't snap Lord's neck, Superman was going to kill even more people. It was the right solution for the problem.


The whole storyline was another example of DC's trend of having previously established heroes *and while Max was an opportunist, he was still trying to do the right thing), suddenly go off the deep end, and become mass murdering psychos.
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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby FuzzyBoots » Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:47 pm

DSumner wrote:The whole storyline was another example of DC's trend of having previously established heroes *and while Max was an opportunist, he was still trying to do the right thing), suddenly go off the deep end, and become mass murdering psychos.

Eyeh... I'll just leave it at that, when killing happens in the line of "defense", things get really tricky. Sometimes you get something clearcut, where someone clearly acted to save others (shot the guy with the Uzi about to mow down a mall or shot someone who was unarmed and running away in the back), but most of the time, it's far less clear, c.f. the Zimmerman case where we'll probably never know what Zimmerman or Martin did to provoke the situation, if they did. Honestly, for someone deciding to just kill a murderer to save others, Wonder Woman, as a member of a culture that upholds some ancient values regarding action in combat, would have been one of the most likely ones in my mind.

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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby tomorrow » Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:43 am

Well honestly, I'm not sure that this can simply be labeled "a common conceit of today's comics writers". If its a conceit at all, its a long, long held one.

The concept of evil/ruthless being sharper/smarter/more practical (or at least superficially so)/sexier (yeah, that too) has been around for forever. Likewise has the idea that heroes burden themselves with ideas of duty, morality, honor, or other types of 'codes'... which the bad guys oft use against the heroes to make them look bad/dumb or that even the common people use against them after the fact. Do we really need to quote Spaceballs here?

In all honesty, these concepts go WAY back, like classical literature and ancient mythology WAY back. Its one of the reasons a good majority of heroic tales are ultimately tragedies (in whole or in part).

It's even psychologically common in real life. One of the most common fantasies around is the the idea that a person would somehow be superior/better if they just stopped playing by the rules/unburden themselves of moral or societal chains and/or started being darker/more ruthless... a real bad arse... and that said person is a fool for not doing so. Nice guys finish last and all that.

Mind you, there are other concepts that counter-balance and mix in with this, and its possible the perceived conceit isn't merely the adherence to the above, but instead the exaggeration or predominance of it being applied by today's comic writers.

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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby ghostman76 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:57 am

saint_matthew wrote:
FuzzyBoots wrote:Civil War was even messier because they never really sat down and said "these are the good guys", so who was kicking the dog to establish themselves as the good guys varied from issue to issue.


Actually it came out later in a podcast of a con panel that Iron Mans side was meant to be the good side & caps was meant to be in the wrong... Which I think demonstrates two things
1. Comic writers at the time had no idea what there fans wanted
2. Comic writers are still willing to throw there work under the bus when they realise they have really REALLY taken a giant misstep.


Wow...really?? They intended for Iron Man's side to be the good guys of the story? Just...wow. I could buy that they wanted it to be a situation where both sides were shades of grey, or that Cap was willing to do good stuff for bad reasons and Tony was willing to do bad stuff for good reasons...but cripes....if they intended for the Pro-Registration side to be the clear cut good guys then Civil War was even more of a mess than I thought.
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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby DSumner » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:46 am

FuzzyBoots wrote:
DSumner wrote:The whole storyline was another example of DC's trend of having previously established heroes *and while Max was an opportunist, he was still trying to do the right thing), suddenly go off the deep end, and become mass murdering psychos.

Eyeh... I'll just leave it at that, when killing happens in the line of "defense", things get really tricky. Sometimes you get something clearcut, where someone clearly acted to save others (shot the guy with the Uzi about to mow down a mall or shot someone who was unarmed and running away in the back), but most of the time, it's far less clear, c.f. the Zimmerman case where we'll probably never know what Zimmerman or Martin did to provoke the situation, if they did. Honestly, for someone deciding to just kill a murderer to save others, Wonder Woman, as a member of a culture that upholds some ancient values regarding action in combat, would have been one of the most likely ones in my mind.


My issue isn't with Wonder Woman killing him, my issue is what was up with DC having all of it's heroes flipout and suddenly become villains.
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Re: A common conceit of today's comics writers.

Postby Dragonblade » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:53 am

The_Watchman wrote:
Kyle wrote:An unbending no-kill policy can be justified for some heroes like Superman (who values all sentient life and views killing as the ultimate betrayal of the Hope he stands for), Batman (who views killing as the anathema of everything Bruce Wayne created the Batman to stop), or Spider-man (who is strongly motivated by saving people after inadvertently letting Ben die) but why would other heroes let these villains continue to live?


My take is that Superman essentially lives by the exact same creed as Spider-Man though it has never been explicitly articulated in the way it was for Spider-Man. Just like with Peter's relationship with Uncle Ben, the core value instilled within Clark by the Kents is "With great power comes great responsibility". And being arguably the most powerful being on Earth, he feels a sense of responsibility that is proportionate. So its not so much that he has a code against killing per se, its that his view of killing as an absolute last resort is derived from his sense of duty that if there is any other possible resolution, it is his responsibility to find it.

As far Batman goes, I felt that the explanation put forth in Under the Red Hood was the singularly best explanation for Batman's code. Batman doesn't kill because of some noble ideal. Rather, he doesn't kill because he knows that once he ever accepts killing as a solution, he won't be able to stop. He knows that the Joker deserves death a hundred times over. But its Batman's own fear of himself and his limits that lets Joker live to kill again. This concept perfectly encapsulates the tragedy of Batman's character.


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