I've only read a couple of the new 52 DC comics, but I'm sure they're full of superheroes who are smarter, braver and more compassionate than me. Why wouldn't they be?
Batman is better than me
Originally posted November 18, 2010
I’m sick of reading about stupid people in superhero comics. I want superheroes to be smarter than me.
T Davies once said the hardest thing about writing Doctor Who was that
the main character was much, much smarter than the writer, so coming up
with a clever and ingenious solution to plot elements was insanely
difficult. This might explain why stories that end with the Doctor
building some piece of scientific bollocks to save the day are rarely
satisfying, and an ending that relies on a ridiculously clever plot
shuffle is always brilliant.
I like reading about characters that
are better than me. A lot of Batman writers have been unable to
distinguish between ‘ultra-competent’ and ‘ultra-arsehole’ – the
character can be the best at what he does without alienating everybody
else on the planet.
I always enjoy a Batman who is smarter than
everybody else. I can handle a Mr Fantastic who comes up with ingenious
solutions to world problems without being a dick. Intelligence is
nothing to be scared of.
And that’s why I always like it when
superpeople take a stand on killing, because it’s the easy way out that
solves nothing. A strict moral code not only gives superfolk an absolute
honour that makes them intensely likable characters, and it also means
they need to come up with their own ingenious solutions to take down bad
guys who shrug off death like an unfashionable coat.
people is the kind of idea that a 12-year-old dipshit who just
discovered black is his favourite colour comes up with, and thinks its
realistic and smarter if Superman just burned his heat vision through
the bad guy’s brains instead of imprisoning them.
adolescent attitude that often gets mistaken for a mature one. A
Spider-man who strings Doc Ock up by his tentacles isn’t dark and edgy.
He’s just somebody who has run out of ideas.
Killing is so easy.
Superheroes should be good at this game. One of the things that has
always been enjoyable about somebody like the Flash is that he is such a
smart motherfucker, often coming up with ingenious methods to take down
bad guys that can seem incredibly clever in the speed of the moment.
Probably because he’s got time to think about it all in the space
between seconds, over and over again.
Killing the bad guys is a real world attitude that has no place in a superhero universe. And it solves nothing.
send the Joker to the afterlife that has been established within the
fictional DC universe, and he will come back and fuck you up with his
demon powers. This is a place where the afterlife is a verifiable entity
- there have been enough trips over to heaven and hell to prove that
oblivion is not an option - so killing people just makes things worse.
Superman once pointed out, it’s a simplistic solution to a complex
problem when you’re dealing with the revolving door afterlife of the DC
Universe. If Batman went a bit funny in the head one day and took an axe
to the Joker, chopping him into little bits and then feeding him to
pigs all over the world, the grinning one would just keep coming back.
has even happened in a comic book. When Alan Davis did his gloriously
mental JLA: Another Nail comic, Joker just did some demonic deals and
came back worse than ever. The Joker survives on his ridiculously
powerful mega-personality, and that’s way more powerful than any death.
irritating enough to see this kind of thing in the real world. Modern
political discourse has devolved into a series of simple solutions for
complex problems, with sound-bite ideology driving people into
ridiculous frenzies of entitlement. We see this every day in the real
world, and it’s maddening and impossible to shut down. I don’t want this
in my comic books as well. I want them to be smarter than that. Is that
too much to ask?
I don’t mind a bit of stupidity in my comics.
Dumb can be fun. Dumb can be funny. Art comics about dumb people are
invariably rewarding and joke comics about dickheads who always screw
things up are always good for a laugh.
And The Marvel Universe
just doesn’t work unless the general population is as dumb as a bag of
hammers. They’ve put up with a lot. Strange people have been bringing
buildings down around them for decades, but they go off their fuckin’
nuts at the X-Men or the Avengers or somebody every second day. They
readily gave Norman bloody Osborne the most powerful job in the world
and are regularly dragged out to give mutants a bit of that fear and
prejudice they’re after.
But I really do expect more from
superheroes. We don't need tpo drag them down to our level, they can
pull us up to theirs. Batman is better than me, and I’m okay with that.