Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
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2308/30/10Death Nor Consequences: Taking the "Hero" Out of "Superhero"(Blog) (Forum)Gen. Discussion(Back) (Next)

To the shock and horror of many, in my last blog, I asked, "When Is It Time to Quit Collecting Comics?" That discussion pretty much led me to the conclusion that quitting isn't really my issue. It's more that I've lost interest... sort of. I don't have the burning need to read a story when it's new, like I used to, but I still want to read it in trade. I still get excited about the idea of finding a great new comic, I still enjoy reading reprints of older material, and I still love creating my own characters. So it's not like age has abated my love of comics. I love 'em. My issue seems to be that I don't enjoy many of them.

I haven't read a story that gripped me in quite some time, and I've been trying to figure out why for almost as long. Something has been missing from my comics. Something that made me remember them, think about them, and go back to them. I have wracked my brain over and over, and just the other day, realized that the answer has been staring me in the face for a long time. It's the lack of death or consequences. That seems really simple. It's talked about quite a bit nowadays, especially with DC's Blackest Night putting the spotlight on the "revolving door of death." Until a couple of days ago though, I hadn't realized just how much the lack of those two things was really detracting from my enjoyment of the stories.

The circumstances of the "deaths" (in quotes, because some deaths only seemed to be death to other characters involved) and returns of recent years are common knowledge to most, so I won't go into them here. Look at the list of names though: Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers, Superman, Nightcrawler, Oliver Queen, Hal Jordan, Ted Kord, Jason Todd, Stephanie Brown, Batman, Reed Richards, Jean Grey... I'm sure there are ones that I've missed. Series characters are tough, because if you kill them off, that's the end of the series. Yet, if they don't face challenges that may kill them, it starts to become a question of "are they heroes, or just adrenaline junkies in costumes?" We scoff at deaths in comics, because most characters are guaranteed to return. The only time it's really a question is if it's a "second tier" or lower character (like Ted Kord [as much as I love the guy, he's only second tier]), or if there's a legacy character with the same name (like Connor Hawke as Green Arrow). Even then though, this only creates a little doubt, because chances are, if they wear a costume, they'll come back eventually.

Then there's consequences. It used to be that superheroes showed us, the readers, the difference between right and wrong, and the consequences of wrong actions. Now, it seems that they merely show us that doing the wrong thing for the right reasons is okay, as long as you can get away with it. The Punisher kills without remorse, but always manages to manipulate things so he doesn't take a fall for it. Wolverine's character used to be about a violent man of honor. Now, it seems that he kills as a means to an end, and "berserker rage" is a justification in itself. Jason Todd thinks killing is the way to take care of badguys, yet still thinks himslef a hero. Shadowland seems like a cool story, but c'mon, it's about Daredevil becoming a badguy. And Spider-Man. Oh. my. gawd.

Spider-Man made an actual deal with the devil, and the result is a happy shiny retcon, removing problematic plot points? Yes, he gave up his wife and future child, but that's it? "Deal with the devil" stories are notorious for the devil taking far more than the dealer bargained for. Is that coming for Spider-Man, or was this just a convenient plot device to retcon Spidey with? I mean, with the fantastic results that Spider-Man got, a deal with the devil seems no more dicey than buying a used car.

These are not the actions of heroes.

To put it in a real world perspective, look at 9-11. We hailed our police, fire and rescue as heroes, because they ran into the World Trade Center towers when everyone else was running out, at the cost of their lives. We found them inspiring again, because these sacrifices were so graphically thrust into our lives. It's literally of Biblical proportions: "No greater love has any man than this: that he would lay down his life for his brother."

That's a hero.

A killer is not a hero (Punisher, Wolverine, Jason Todd). A man that turns from good to evil to enforce his ideas of how things should be is not a hero. He's a would-be-tyrant (Daredevil). A man who makes a deal with the devil is not a hero. He's a coward (Spider-Man). A man who walks across the country to find himself is not a hero. He's a hippie. When he leaves his wife and other responsibilities to do so, he's a man-child (Superman).

I have always prided myself on being able to take a story and enjoy it for what it is. Even if I don't agree with the direction a character is taken in, or with how a character was changed during a reboot, I feel I can still say if the story is good or not. I don't mind if a character has to make hard choices, or even if he has to choose between the lesser of two evils to get the job done. I do want heroes though - characters that go into battle knowing they might die, and do it anyway, because there are other people in need. Granted, most dead-and-returned heroes don't know they're going to be coming back. As readers, we do, but the characters don't. Still, I want more from my comics. I want to be inspired by them again. Heroes should be able to do that. Is that so much to ask?

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#1 Posted by IrishX (2371 posts) - - Show Bio

I like your writing for the most part. Typically I wouldn't read something this long either. Maybe you should be a writer.... you do seem to enjoy it. 
 
Anyway like I said it was good except I disagree about "A killer is not a hero". Evil much of the time is a matter of perspective and it's really a matter of opinion so I won't argue it but I'm sure there are plenty of soldiers who've killed that are also heroes. 
 
"Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view." - Obi-Wan Kenobi

#2 Edited by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio

  I was thinking of writing a blog like this... Thanks for cutting that idea off at the base =P.  More importantly I completely agree with all you've said, glad I'm not the only one with this opinion.  I used to be a big Marvel fan, specifically a big Wolverine fan, mostly because of all the movies.  But I moved on to DC, why?  Because I want to read about heroes.  I want to read about heroic characters doing what they do best, being heroes.  Granted, DC has it's share of anti-heroes, but they also have a distinct line between the hero and the anti-hero.  In Marvel it seems almost every character has no complication with killing, the majority of them kill and they mostly do it without even a second thought. 
 
  Superhero comics should focus more on the hero and not the super part.  I don't need to see Wolverine slicing open heads at every waking turn, I don't need it.  A hero in my book does not kill, which is a big reason why Captain Marvel is my favorite super powered hero.  He's a true blue hero... till Judd Winick started trying to ruin his character... Thats beside the point though, Captain Marvel is a hero and he's the epitome of heroes and what one should strive for morally.  As soon as a character I consider a hero does something unheroic, specifically kill someone, they're no longer a hero in my book.  Take Green Arrow, he kills Prometheous and boom, I can't even stand to look at him in the same heroic light that I did before.  Sure, shooting arrows at people was never the most heroic thing, but he put limits on what he would do but now he already crossed those limits.  I forgave him the first time because he understood the reprucusions of killing but now, really Ollie?  (Yes I still read Green Arrow, don't blame me I want solace.)
 
  Heroes are heroes because of their moral standard not because of what they do but how they do it.  All heroes face some defining moment in their life that determines what kind of hero they really are, real heroes move forward, face their challenges, take their punches, get knocked down and get back up, and they do it over, and over, and over again.  Some people are quick to say that a hero who kills to save lives is a hero, but not in my book.  The whole purpose of them being a real hero is that they are required to find another solution to a problem that doesn't end with someone visiting the morgue in a nice white bag.   
 
  Identity Crisis is one of the best stories to be created in this century because it brought up more than just heroes solving crimes, it brought to life the seriousness of the job's these heroes have.  "You don't wear the mask for yourself.  It's for your wife... your parents... even -- one day -- your children.  There are animals out there Wally.  And when it comes to family we can't always be there to defend them.  But the mask will." 
 
 
Heck!  When Zoom attacked for the first time, what did Wally realize?  That villains would do anything to know their secret identities, and it took Wally getting his butt handed to him on a nice platter for him to realize revealing his identity was a mistake, a big mistake.  Heroes are heroes because they face the challenge, and they bare the double-edged sword that is infact the mask they wear.  When Ollie first died, you could say it was comendable.  He saved his friend a choice that would bare heavy on his heart and made the choice himself.  And when Ollie came back... okay, I admit that I was estatic.  But that doesn't change the fact that he died.  When Superboy died, he died a hero.  When a family member dies you don't go digging up their grave in insane attempts to reanimate them.  No.  You give them peace, and you give them solace, then, lastly, you honor their memory because that is what they truly deserve.  Your respect
 
  People may die but the symbol a hero stands for never dies.  When Barry Allen died, he died a hero.  No reason to bring him back.  To many writers now-a-days are focused on the fact that if they kill off a hero they can just bring him back later and make some bs story to compensate the outrageousness.   
 
  I read comics for heroes, I don't read comics for cry-baby grown ups who don't know how to grow up and play the hand that life gave them.  The Batman family is the best group of families in this respect (excluding Stephanie, I really hate her.)  The entire Bat-family gets dealt their tragedy, they get knocked down.  They have their scars and they have their own unique problems, but what do they do?  Give up?  NO, NEVERRRRR!!!  They play the hand they're dealt and they roll with it.  I find reading a lot of comics with super powered heroes hard to read because most of the time they don't know how to deal with their problems, and thankfully the Bat-Family comics are a comfort from that.  That's inspiring. 
 
  Comics need more heroes now, I'm tired of all the angst Marvel puts out because they think it's interesting.  I'm tired of all the crap DC likes to bring back to life because of some spur of the moment compulsion.   
 
  Superhero comics need more heroes.    
 
  Real heroes.

#3 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@Amegashita: So I cut that idea off at the base, huh? lol ;)
#4 Posted by Reactor (2562 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop: That is the most epic thing I've read in months, and agrees with what I've been thinking entirely, especially with characters like Punisher and Wolverine. I've been adamantly against heroes, or rather people claiming to be heroes, using lethal methods and killing as a means to reach an end. Anti-heroes are taking over, and the line between heroes and villains are getting so blurred to the point that the only difference between them is who the writer says is the "hero" and villain.
#5 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@IrishX said:
"I like your writing for the most part. Typically I wouldn't read something this long either. Maybe you should be a writer.... you do seem to enjoy it.  Anyway like I said it was good except I disagree about "A killer is not a hero". Evil much of the time is a matter of perspective and it's really a matter of opinion so I won't argue it but I'm sure there are plenty of soldiers who've killed that are also heroes.  "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view." - Obi-Wan Kenobi "

"For the most part?"  That sounds like there's a "but..." in there.  If you have some feedback, please, by all means, let me know what's on your mind, either here or in a PM.  I would love to read your thoughts - truly.  As for the length... I know, I know - I try to cut it down, but my brain won't shut up.  On the plus side, this is three or four paragraphs shorter than it started out to be. lol 
 
As for "a killer is not a hero," I think we're probably operating on different definitions for "killer."  I wouldn't consider soldiers or cops "killers," just because someone dies at their hands in the line of duty.  I'm talking about the cold, remorseless taking of another human life.  Soldiers are trained to kill in battle situations, if fighting cannot be avoided.  Cops are trained to kill as an absolute last resort.  Punisher and Jason Todd see killing as the best way to get the job done.  Wolverine varies from writer to writer, but basically sees killing as just another skill set - "I'm the best there is at what I do, and what I do isn't very pretty."  Some writers make it his last resort, and some make it his first option.  When killing is the first and/or best option in a character's eyes, that character is a killer, not a hero with a gun. 
 
You've given me an idea for another blog. ;)
#6 Edited by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@Reactor said:

" @cbishop: That is the most epic thing I've read in months, and agrees with what I've been thinking entirely, especially with characters like Punisher and Wolverine. I've been adamantly against heroes, or rather people claiming to be heroes, using lethal methods and killing as a means to reach an end. Anti-heroes are taking over, and the line between heroes and villains are getting so blurred to the point that the only difference between them is who the writer says is the "hero" and villain. "


I should qualify two things about Punisher:
 
1) I included Punisher on this list, because his actions are without remorse.  He is plainly killing anyone he deems as needing a bullet.  Punisher doesn't call himself a hero though.  There was a point (during Civil War) where he told Captain America how they were in the same fight, and Cap decked him, seemingly out of disgust for what the Punisher is.  I don't really think Punisher sees himself as a hero though.  I think readers do that, when someone asks "Who's your favorite hero," and they answer, "Punisher."  I think it was weird and bent when Punisher donned a Cap-like uniform, as if he could stand in for the fallen Sentinel of Liberty.  It was bent of the Punisher to think he's anything like Cap, and it was a bent commentary from the writer, to suggest that Castle might be who we'd want to see filling the Captain America uniform.
 
2) <Said in my best Slingblade voice> I likes me some Punisher on occasion. <Back to regular voice> I don't always want to read superheroes.  Sometimes, I just want to see someone blow scumbags away, blow stuff up, and blow off anyone's objections to it.  Me enjoying the story still doesn't make him a hero though.  Yeah, in a Punisher story, Punisher is the guy we route for, because he's the main character, but he's not a hero.  There's a difference between a "hero" and a "main character."  I think Mark Waid's Empire is one of the best comics ever written, but the main character is definitely not a hero.  He is literally a world conquering supervillain. 
 
I like all kinds of stories, but in comics, I want my superheroes to actually be heroes.  You've given me an idea for another blog, too. ;)
#7 Posted by Benuben (230 posts) - - Show Bio

"A man who walks across the country to find himself is not a hero.  He's a hippie.  When he leaves his wife and other responsibilities to do so, he's a man-child (Superman)." 
 
That was just in that stupid film. Comic Superman would never do that. 

 

 

#8 Posted by FadeToBlackBolt (23334 posts) - - Show Bio

Good write-up, though I must protest the part about Spider-Man. Spider-Man is, without a single doubt in my mind, the best person and the greatest hero in comics. Spidey didn't make that deal, Joe Quesada did, I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but the fact is, that "writer" went in with a purpose, and he slapped everything that Spider-Man is in the face, so I don't consider that true Spidey. 
 
Let's look at Peter Parker for a moment. He is, in many respects, the stereotypical loser/underachiever. He's a genius who works as a superhero's paparazzi, he constantly has money problems, and he often appears to mooch off of his friends. 
 
But then you look below the surface, Peter Parker has superpowers, but compared to people like Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, Ms Marvel, Doctor Strange; Spider-Man is at best, a run of the mill low level mutant. And look at what he does! Peter Parker has stared Galactus in the face, fought for humanity's survival and won, and just helped out cats in trees. So, why does he do this? You could answer "with great power, comes great responsibility", but Peter really doesn't have great power. He has average-moderate power. He operates in a city filled with Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and the Fantastic Four, and he is still more recognisable than any of them. He helps people because he knows he can, because he feels it's the right thing to do, and for Peter Parker, saving just one person, whether from gun point or just by brightening their day by seeing Spider-Man swing by, that's enough to put on a ridiculous suit and basically forsake any normalcy or consistency within your life.
That's why I think Spidey is a hero, and possibly the greatest hero in comics.
 
Also, the Superman walking thing; blame the writers. When in doubt, blame the writers.
 
And if you're looking for a comic to sink your teeth into again, Y: the Last Man; I cannot stress it enough. Brilliant series.

#9 Posted by humanfly26 (1488 posts) - - Show Bio
@Benuben said:
"
"A man who walks across the country to find himself is not a hero.  He's a hippie.  When he leaves his wife and other responsibilities to do so, he's a man-child (Superman)." 
 
That was just in that stupid film. Comic Superman would never do that. 

 

 

"
Which movie was that? I must have missed that one...
 
Also, a man who walks across the country to find himself is not a hero. He's Forrest Gump!
#10 Posted by Benuben (230 posts) - - Show Bio
@humanfly26:
Superman Returns 
 
And you are trying to tell me that Forest Gump isnt hero? :-)
#11 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@Benuben said:
"That was just in that stupid film. Comic Superman would never do that."
Actually, comic Superman is doing that right now
 
Also, I'd have to defend Superman Returns.  Supes and Lois weren't married, and when he first meets the boy, he clearly didn't know that Lois had a child.  He wasn't sure until well into the movie that the boy was his.  Lois is married to someone else at that point, and at the end of the movie, Superman clearly vows to be part of the child's life.  That's kind of a divorce situation, so in that instance, I'd say Supes did the most manly thing he could do. 

@humanfly26 said:
"Which movie was that? I must have missed that one...  Also, a man who walks across the country to find himself is not a hero. He's Forrest Gump! "

Lol!  "Run, Clark Kent, run!" ;)
#12 Edited by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@FadeToBlackBolt said:

"Good write-up, though I must protest the part about Spider-Man. Spider-Man is, without a single doubt in my mind, the best person and the greatest hero in comics. Spidey didn't make that deal, Joe Quesada did, I know that doesn't make a lot of sense, but the fact is, that "writer" went in with a purpose, and he slapped everything that Spider-Man is in the face, so I don't consider that true Spidey..."

 
I agree with you somewhat.  It's not really in Spidey's character, but it's in the story, so alas, it is Spidey.  Which is exactly my point - our favorite heroes are being written in very unheroic fashion.  People make mistakes, and I don't mind characters making mistakes, but some things are out-and-out wrong.  This deal with Mephisto could be redeemed, by having it come back to bite Spidey in the rear.  One way to do that might be to look at Mary Jane's deal.  She asked something of Mephisto, as if it were part of Spidey's deal, but that deal was between her and Mephisto.  Spidey agreed to give up marriage and future child.  What is Mephisto going to require of Mary Jane, for her deal?  Or was he giving a two-for-one special that day?  If Spidey rises to the occasion and finds a way to beat Mephisto, then okay.  If this was just a plot device to retcon Spidey, then shame on the writer. 

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

"...Also, the Superman walking thing; blame the writers. When in doubt, blame the writers..."

 
I thought this was a bad idea from the moment I heard about it.  It's been partly promoted as: we just had this big epic battle in War of the Supermen.  Now we're going to bring Superman down to Earth and explore what makes him tick.  Ugh.  If there's a way to make that story any less appealing than it is on its own, it's to have it appear directly after a big action story. 

@FadeToBlackBolt said:

"...And if you're looking for a comic to sink your teeth into again, Y: the Last Man; I cannot stress it enough. Brilliant series. "


YLM was excellent. ;)
#13 Posted by humanfly26 (1488 posts) - - Show Bio
@Benuben said:

" @humanfly26: Superman Returns  And you are trying to tell me that Forest Gump isnt hero? :-) "

Forrest Gump is my favorite movie! I thought in Superman Returns he just flies out to see if Krypton is still there or something...
 
@cbishop: 
but to respond to the actual topic, here's my two cents.. I haven't read a lot of Marvel, but I think one of the things that made them famous when these characters first came out was that they acted like 'real people'. Spider-Man had real issues, Fantastic Four bickered like a family, etc. etc. So if you look at it that way, it's really a critique of our own society that these 'real people' characters are so screwed up now and killing people.

That was the pro-Marvel side, here's the other opinion: DC has also strived to make characters that we not only relate to, but can look up to as an example. Several of the characters (I'm thinking of Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow) have stated that they will kill in self-defense or during war, but never in revenge or cruelty. Green Arrow recently crossed the line when he killed in an act of vengeance. He turned himself in to the police for his crime. Wonder Woman killed Max Lord in self defense, but refused to let a defenseless Genocide die. While it is sometimes interesting to see characters cross the line, what makes someone a HERO is overcoming those human urges to do what's right.
#14 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@humanfly26: I'm not a big fan of Green Arrow killing, but at least the consequences were shown.  Ollie was arrested, tried, and found not guilty by a jury.  Wonder Woman... I haven't really been clear on what happened after she killed Lord.  The charges were dropped, but I don't know under what circumstances that happened.  I think WW killing was a travesty to her character.  She's almost in a Catch 22, because of it.  If she's in another extreme battle, and doesn't kill, then the question is "then why did she kill Lord, if she doesn't kill this opponent?"  There were other ways to end that battle.  I think they've cheapened and dulled WW's character with that action.
#15 Edited by Pizawle (1074 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop: @Amegashita:  Damn good write-ups, fellas.
 
 
In the five months or so since I started reading singles and really got into comics, I must have heard theses issues brought up dozens of times already. At this point, all I can say is it sucks. It does. Everyone is totally spot on with these complaints and it completely blows that they exist and that it has been this way for so long that there is no redemption anymore. The only way to alleviate it with DC and Marvel is to start up a new universe with a more realistic, serious basis which they will not do. Or it will just end up another Ultimate. Bleh.
 
So my solution, and I admit, it is a bittersweet one, is just to not take them seriously. I like all the characters way too much to just drop them all so I just take a laissez faire approach to it.
#16 Edited by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop said:

"@Amegashita: So I cut that idea off at the base, huh? lol ;) "


  Hmm, nice one.  To you, touche.  =P 
 
  @cbishop said:

"@humanfly26: I'm not a big fan of Green Arrow killing, but at least the consequences were shown.  Ollie was arrested, tried, and found not guilty by a jury.  Wonder Woman... I haven't really been clear on what happened after she killed Lord.  The charges were dropped, but I don't know under what circumstances that happened.  I think WW killing was a travesty to her character.  She's almost in a Catch 22, because of it.  If she's in another extreme battle, and doesn't kill, then the question is "then why did she kill Lord, if she doesn't kill this opponent?"  There were other ways to end that battle.  I think they've cheapened and dulled WW's character with that action. " 

  The story itself was pretty bad in itself.  Ollie already said he needed to be punished so why was there a trial?  Also, exile?  How is that even a real sentencing under U.S. law?  What is this?  The 1700's?

#17 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio

@Amegashita said:

"Hmm, nice one.  To you, touche.  =P "

LOL! Wondered how long it would take you to get back to me on that one. ;) 

@Amegashita said:

"The story itself was pretty bad in itself.  Ollie already said he needed to be punished so why was there a trial?  Also, exile?  How is that even a real sentencing under U.S. law?  What is this?  The 1700's? "

There was a trial because there needed to be.  I don't know about "exile" as a true ruling, but it might be on the books somewhere.  In North Las Vegas, NV, it's illegal to take the tomatoes off of your hamburger, so stranger things have definitely happened.

#18 Edited by asafager (84 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop said: 
To put it in a real world perspective, look at 9-11.  
And that's where you lost me.
#19 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@asafager said:
"And that's where you lost me. "

asafager, I say this with no malice or sarcasm whatsoever, but why did I lose you there?  Was it too long, and you didn't feel like reading any further?  Did you not agree with the 9-11 analogy?  Did you not understand it?  If you elaborate a little, perhaps I can clear it up for you and/or edit the blog so that it's clearer.  Feedback is appreciated.
#20 Posted by humanfly26 (1488 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop said:
" @humanfly26: Wonder Woman... I haven't really been clear on what happened after she killed Lord.  The charges were dropped, but I don't know under what circumstances that happened.  I think WW killing was a travesty to her character.  She's almost in a Catch 22, because of it.  If she's in another extreme battle, and doesn't kill, then the question is "then why did she kill Lord, if she doesn't kill this opponent?"  There were other ways to end that battle.  I think they've cheapened and dulled WW's character with that action. "
i haven't read these issues yet, so i don't know how much this helps, but apparently Manhunter 26-30 deals with Wonder Woman's trial in the U.S.
#21 Posted by asafager (84 posts) - - Show Bio

More than anything, I'd say it's a general wariness of 9/11 being used as an example of/metaphor for anything. The previous (and even present) executive administration used 9/11 as a jumping point to justify just about anything they felt like doing. And using this fireman "hero" concept tie-in as their main lifeline. This kind of thinking is infectious and dangerous. A gross over-simplification of all the issues and events surrounding 9/11. 
Don't get me wrong, those guys did some impressive stuff. And somebody had to dive in and save those people. I don't want to sound unsympathetic, but perhaps there's more to the picture. Did you know that the reason why so many firemen died in those attacks was because nearly every fireman in NYC rushed to the WTC that morning? Despite protocol and actual need, a sense of machismo and (perhaps) misguided heroism overtook them and got a lot of good people killed. 
I worked with the Red Cross in NYC for a time a couple months after 9/11, sorting out where, to whom, and how much money was going to the families of the people killed in the attacks, many of them firemen. More common than you might think, there were as many as three claims made on one man's income: his wife, his ex-wife, and his mistress. I'm not implying that a lack of monogamy implies an inability to be a hero. But it certainly paints a different picture of these people than we're used to. 
Ernest Hemingway (the definition of machismo), defined courage as "grace under fire, nothing more." Perhaps heroism is just defined as a human being, flaws and all, just diving into the fire at the right moment, regardless of who they are, what they've done before, or what comes after. And why can't this apply to superheroes as well? 
One of my favorite examples of heroism and humanism is Hush, the old Batman story. It's about Batman needing all the people that fight in his city, either beside him or against his wishes. How they form a network and support each other. THAT is heroism in my eyes. 
And Superman attempting to reground himself by walking across the country: Yeah, it's a little loopy of an idea, but a bold move, I think. Superman has gotten a bit out of touch, both with mankind in the DCU and with us as readers. The whole New Krypton series was a mess, his role in Final Crisis was confusing and spectacular (to put it simply), and I believe he needed a chance to literally get back to earth. Put his feet back on the ground. Which is what Straczynski is going for. Maybe it isn't perfect, but it's brave. 
So there you go, my long winded response.

#22 Edited by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@humanfly26:  Ah, it does help.  Thanks.  So again, the crime was dealt with.
 
@asafager:
Yeah, I can understand the weariness over it.  It's probably the most widely known, recent example to draw from though.  Your work let you see deeper into those guys' lives than most, so you got to see "warts and all."  All I (and most) got to see was a bunch of guys run into the building.  When I was standing in front of a TV with my coworkers in stunned silence, it was awe inspiring - with the emphasis on inspiring - to see anyone move to help.  I guess what I was getting at with the 9-11 analogy is that I want to read superheroes and feel a similar level of inspiration.  When I was younger, I used to see stories that could do that.  I've seen moments like that in recent Marvel movies... I'm hoping to see something really effing inspiring like that from the Captain America movie. 
 
Maybe I am oversimplifying it some, but I don't always want to see "warts and all" on the superheroes.  ...Actually, no that's not what I'm saying here.  Kind of the point of this blog is that lately, it seems like some "heroes" are "all warts," not "warts and all."  I don't mind heroes with problems or flaws.  As someone pointed out in an earlier comment, that's what makes Spider-Man so great.  It's just that lately that seems to be how comics want to define the heroes.  I don't want to bring superheroes down to my level.  I want them to seem higher.  I want them to be examples. 
 
I don't know.  Maybe I wouldn't mind it as much if it didn't seem to all be happening at once.  Marvel's moving into "The Heroic Age," and DC into "Brightest Day," and the heroes seem like they're darker than ever.  I thought the purpose of those two stories was to get back to the lighter, brighter stories of the Silver Age?  Not that I necessarily want to see them regress to past stories, but I just want that good feeling that comics used to give me, and the current stories aren't doing that, because I'm not seeing very heroic heroes. 
 
Okay, I'm done whining.  As for your "long winded response," no problem - you saw the length of my blog, right? ...And the length of this response... yeah, sorry about that... ;)
#23 Posted by StrangerXL (211 posts) - - Show Bio

@ cbishop : Great blog piece. Always nice to know there are other folks out there with similar views on the current state of superheroes.
#24 Posted by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop said:
"

There was a trial because there needed to be.  I don't know about "exile" as a true ruling, but it might be on the books somewhere.  In North Las Vegas, NV, it's illegal to take the tomatoes off of your hamburger, so stranger things have definitely happened.

"
  Ollie wanted to be punished so there shouldn't have been a trial, only a sentence hearing.
#25 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@Amegashita said:
"Ollie wanted to be punished so there shouldn't have been a trial, only a sentence hearing."

Not necessarily.  Even if you sign a confession, you still get a trial.  Now, you can choose whether or not you want a jury trial, or to just stand before a judge, but you still get the trial.  Plus, wanting to be punished and pleaing guilty are not the same thing.  If Ollie had plead guilty, then the trial would have gone immediately to sentencing.
#26 Edited by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop:  Which makes little sense.  If he wanted to be punished, why didn't he plead guilty?  Also the exile could have been better, like for example, the citizens take Ollie to the cities' border and tells him how they appreciate his help all these years but they don't need him around anymore.  I would have liked it a little better and would make more sense.  If that had happened we would have to see how Ollie deals with being exiled by the citizens he swore to protect.  The whole story could have been done better all together, with Ollie not killing anyone in the first place and not having Lian die.
 
  Thankfully they didn't kill Mia or I might have cried =[
#27 Edited by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@Amegashita: Well, I never said it made sense. lol ;)  I'm at a bit of a loss over what they're doing with Green Arrow.  They ended a great series so they could finally marry him off to Black Canary (and start a new series with both of them), then they promptly had Ollie kill, undid the marriage, and now he's living in the woods (park, whatever).  Somebody at DC needs a good slap. 
 
Lian's death was just wrong, but they can't kill Mia.  That would be a colossal mistake on DC's part.  Now that they've shown her as having HIV, the only thing they can do with her that won't seem like a cheat is to have her die from it.  I'm not a fan of hot button topics like HIV.  If the story itself is about HIV, that's one thing, but to introduce a character with HIV into a story that's about something else comes off as sales gimmick, no matter how well they do it. 
 
Oh, and if they'd killed Mia, you'd have cried?  Are you sure you're a guy? ;P  (in-joke from another thread, folks - just keep moving - lol) [and it is just a joke, folks.  If guys weren't meant to cry, we wouldn't have tear ducts.]   ;)
#28 Posted by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop:  Lol, yup.  End a great series just to marry Green Arrow and Black Canary, which is something that should have happened two decades ago.  They spent the entire early part of the Green Arrow volume 3 series just explaining how guilty Ollie felt about everything.  About killing his first man and how it affected him.  Then they throw it away.  And the marriage was completely rushed, Ollie and Dinah are back together for two issues and boom, marriage?  Really, I get how they're made for each other but let the relationship grow more so they can get back to what made them great.
 
  The DC executives wanted to kill both Lian and Mia, luckily the writer on the story stopped one of those things from happening.  Mia is a good character, grown up on the streets but meets Ollie and becomes his ward/ surrogate daughter and becomes Speedy to do what is right.  Besides Roy, I think she is probably one of the few characters that actually look up to Ollie and see him as a father figure.  
 
  Tears are for everyone.  Real men aren't afraid of tears!! 
#29 Posted by NexusOfLight (1715 posts) - - Show Bio

I really don't wanna come off like those guys that say, "your problem is Microsoft, get a Mac" or "get Firefox" ect, but I will say that everything that's been said is really pretty standard for most Marvel/DC titles. Should it be? Absolutely not, but it is. I guess it's to be expected for them being around for so long, but still, there needs to be a change, but for the time being, I suggest--maybe taking a break from the tights and supes, an' lookin' into some indie stuff. Death still means something in the world of Top Cow, and their stories seem to still be goin' strong. Consequences are all around in other non-big 2 companies. Granted, every company's got its faults, but still. Just throwin' that out there for you.

#30 Posted by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio
@NexusOfLight:  I noticed that too, I'm thinking of picking up some Top Cow issues, but as of right now I mostly read DC.  So, the standard problems in DC equate to a few of my pet peeves about comics.
#31 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@Amegashita said:
" @cbishop:  ...Tears are for everyone.  Real men aren't afraid of tears!!  "
 <thumbs up> ;) 

@NexusOfLight: I am currently taking a break from comics, just due to finances, but it's not just whether a character dies or not.  A story's got to have plot too, and the little I've read from TC was lacking in that department.  Although, if I'm correct in assuming that Platinum Studios is an imprint of Top Cow, the books I've read from them were awesome (especially Hero By Night).   My favorite two comics are Savage Dragon and Dynamo 5, closely followed by Invincible and Walking Dead.  There's plenty of stuff at DC or Marvel I'd like to read, but they don't make the top of the list.  I love those characters too, but I've just been disappointed by the non-heroic turns they've taken lately.  They'll find their way eventually.
#32 Posted by NexusOfLight (1715 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop: Wow, that must be differing taste then because story wise, I think Top Cow's put out a lot better things than Marvel and DC have lately. And even still, Top Cow isn't the only indie company out there. I've liked the mini-series Radical's been putting out. Hotwire, Shrapnel, and City of Dust to name a few. Crom-Cruach has told me about some good things goin' on in Hellboy and Invincible. Then of course, there's Vertigo and Max, and other imprints.
#33 Edited by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@NexusOfLight: [Sorry, was lost on Twitter] I said "the little I've read."  Mostly, I've read early Witchblade and Darkness, and found those to be incoherent.  Maybe if I read more of it, it would make sense, but the few TPB's I read didn't.  I've read plenty of indy stuff, with varied results.  Some I really like, others not so much.  I don't hate anything Marvel or DC right now - just disappointed by the non-heroic goings on with some characters.  This will pass though.
#34 Posted by 614azrael (10314 posts) - - Show Bio

Il b hounest at 1st reading i was like"WHAT HERESY IS THIS" but as i went on u make some solid points n rele hav created a sublime blog. Alot of heroes have lost there heroic edge, in civilwar much as i love the arc ironman was close to xecuting captain america with his own sheild at one point. a image truely griping an compelling but its rele to dark a place for these heroes. At that moment Ironmans arc would be from playboy to profiteer to hero to murderer of an iconic hero an freind. Wolverine used to kill as a last resort an has been willing to drop the wicked now hes seen riping ninjas to threads now he is obviously an anti hero an i wil always love wolvie but ther isnt much heroism in the guy who slays 30 ninjas. Theres alot of dark twists that are unjust an never used acurately. Havent read the spoken of WW story but it dosent seem like she rele hesitated i believe a hero can kill but it should never b so simple as stab, its a bloody comic u can easyily get in the mindset of the character. Show us ther contemplation ther weighing odds an morals. SOme things are arcs an that is great we want this but the results have to be noble spoting the eror learning the lesson dealing with a tragedy they caused.  
 
Anti heros should even have a noble out look this is why i love moon night he gave into rage an was fighting the earge to repeat the brutality i havent got a hold of more recent isues but at that moment he was battleing himself and Kounsho this was great. It was the is it ok to slay an how much is going to far. The dark moments one has is good its what alows some heroic acts but its lately often not ending the way it should. The green arow killing an xile is good if its followed threw if the society is like man u went to far an he has to redeem himself this is great but that dosent seem the rout. As for the most infamous anti hero punisher u cant rele call him as hero. Im a P fan all the way but lets not go throwin that H word around him. Hes punisher, a slayer a xecutioner eliminateing the never ending garbage till he cant even beet them with his old man walking cane, hes a warior at heart but his mind is on a single track this is partialy me bing defensive an part just stateing the facts. While he wont go an kill a jwalker but show scum an he wil scrub end of his story 
 
Heroes these characters are some more then others but some of the peril has left it less captivating, lets not xclude them completely tho for xample look at the xmen particularly cyk hes in a bad spot has to balance the xmens responsibility an the mutant comunity as a hole. there are characters faceing the imposible still. THey do however need to be brought more to the foreground. Comic writers need to xcept the mortality of the bearer an imortality of the symbol mor responsibly. Give a story for some of course but many need to stay down. Superman was never 1 i liked but his fall that was epic. Love or hate him u saw him sacrifice himself for a world that in someways wasnt even his. To leave the world to rebuild was smart for him to be the inspiration of what to be for all heroes that was good to have various knock offs an his new found solar healing factor is to kill a tale that was spellbinding. 
 
Also dont xclude ppl related to darkness as non heroes right away, ghost rider still fights for good dose he not? Spawn a character i love was an antihero an a killer but in the comics he did releave humanity from the manipulative war hungry angels an demons. Satana sacrificed herself originaly for doctor strange. 
Ok im done lol ive ranted as much as u maybe mor evn lol

Online
#35 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@614azrael: Hey 'azrael, thanks for the comment.  Note on the Punisher: Back before Marvel did a reboot on him - around the time of the "Suicide Run" storyline, I think - Castle's war had become a parody of violence, and he was shooting any and all lawbreakers.  If I recall correctly, he did actually shoot (or maybe only threaten to shoot) a jaywalker. ;) 
 
As for darker heroes, yes, they do exist, and some of them are well written.  Ghost Rider manages to have some cool storylines every now and then, but his character stopped making sense to me, back when they made him the Spirit of Vengeance.  His powers made more sense then, but his character made less sense.  When Blaze was Ghost Rider, GR was a demon trapped in a mortal body.  To an extent, Blaze had the internal struggle of trying to keep the GR in check (kind of like the struggle between the Demon and Jason Blood).  That story never really seemed to go anywhere though.  When they made him the Spirit of Vengeance, they really screwed things up, because they wound up with this big, convoluted mess.  Ketch had power, Blaze had power, there might have been two GR's, there was a GR look-a-like as a villain... ugh.  I read at least half of the Danny Ketch series, but at the time, I liked it for the art and the villains, as much as anything else.  When Blaze came back into the story, I lost track and lost interest. 
 
I read the first 25 issues or so of Spawn in trades, but never really liked it.  Not because he was a dark hero, but because it was badly written.  Other than Spawn, I think the ultimate hero from darkness is Hellboy, and I love that book.  It's excellently written, and HB's struggle to be the master of his own destiny, rather than giving in to his demonic nature, is so well done.  I cannot say enough good things about that book.
#36 Posted by 614azrael (10314 posts) - - Show Bio
@cbishop: yw an thax for replying to all these ppls coments many others dont or at least not as xstensively. Cant believe i forgot to mention Hellboy lol. An yeah ghost rider is a mess but wanted to throw it in there sence he obviously is dark but is still a hero type i donr believe hes gone killer(i could be mistaken however) an spawn is all sorts of messed up but he did eliminate the greatest of enemys at least for this realm. An then of course theres HB so i wanted to make sure as much of the spectrum was covered without being broad(apologize if these words dont convey quite what i entended)
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#37 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

I can see what you're pointing out there!
Specially with Spidey's coward attitude (a deal with the devil? seriously? Real "old school" Peter Parker wouldn't have done that! why wouldn't he bring back Uncle Ben too as well? He should have learnt, accepted it and move forward never giving up, specially to SATAN!! that's...anti-heroic!)

#38 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio
@Eyz: Interestingly, OMIT has now retconned the deal with Mephisto.  Now, it's a spell that Dr. Strange cast, that made everyone forget who Spider-Man really is.  Marvel must've really gotten some negative feedback about the Mephisto thing.
#39 Posted by LP (675 posts) - - Show Bio

  I want to be inspired by them again. 


 

THIS.



#40 Posted by batshrine (994 posts) - - Show Bio

@cbishop said:

To put it in a real world perspective, look at 9-11. We hailed our police, fire and rescue as heroes, because they ran into the World Trade Center towers when everyone else was running out, at the cost of their lives. We found them inspiring again, because these sacrifices were so graphically thrust into our lives. It's literally of Biblical proportions: "No greater love has any man than this: that he would lay down his life for his brother."

That's a hero.

A killer is not a hero (Punisher, Wolverine, Jason Todd). A man that turns from good to evil to enforce his ideas of how things should be is not a hero. He's a would-be-tyrant (Daredevil). A man who makes a deal with the devil is not a hero. He's a coward (Spider-Man). A man who walks across the country to find himself is not a hero. He's a hippie. When he leaves his wife and other responsibilities to do so, he's a man-child (Superman).

I feel this is where you fall especially with your comparison to Superman and the fire fighters. Can you give me any stories that Superman actually risked his life to save someone? Cause I can give you a whole list of them. There are stories like Grounded however that are made to show the humanity of these characters as well. That they aren't perfect and they deal with thoughts just like everyone else.

Real life example, those firemen in 9/11 aren't always firemen. You took one story and called them a hero. You cannot cherry pick cause otherwise the same thing applies to all those characters. Yes I agree the firemen for that were heros, but just because they have normal lives and probably also have their faults, then are they not heros all of the sudden?

I hope that made sense lol

#41 Posted by Crom-Cruach (8865 posts) - - Show Bio

@cbishop: Honestly what you need is to look beyond the Big Two. The problemas you highlight do not exist in the smaller companies: Top Cow, Dark Horse, European Companies like Soleil, Dargaud and Glenat. There, I've never had any of problems you go on about. In fact it's those problems that prompted me to go elsewhere.

Instead of despairing use this disappointment as an opportunity to broaden your horizons. There GREAT comics out there that are barely ever mentioned on this site because the big two get all the spotlight. I once tried to get people interested in some of them by posting a few reviews. But barely anyone cared.

#42 Posted by cbishop (8215 posts) - - Show Bio

@LP said:

I want to be inspired by them again.

THIS.

Definitely.

@batshrine said:

I feel this is where you fall especially with your comparison to Superman and the fire fighters. Can you give me any stories that Superman actually risked his life to save someone? Cause I can give you a whole list of them. There are stories like Grounded however that are made to show the humanity of these characters as well. That they aren't perfect and they deal with thoughts just like everyone else.

Real life example, those firemen in 9/11 aren't always firemen. You took one story and called them a hero. You cannot cherry pick cause otherwise the same thing applies to all those characters. Yes I agree the firemen for that were heros, but just because they have normal lives and probably also have their faults, then are they not heros all of the sudden?

I hope that made sense lol

You made perfect sense. That was kind of my point though. Yeah, they used to have all kinds of stories that showed them risking their lives and being the heroes, and those were great. Human moments of self-doubt, weakness, and even making a tragic mistake are all fine. What I'm talking about in this blog though is what appeared at the time to be a trend of putting our heroes in stories that leave them lacking. It's like creators have become so focused on humanizing the heroes for characterization, that they've forgotten how to write an inspiring superhero.

@Crom-Cruach said:

@cbishop: Honestly what you need is to look beyond the Big Two. The problemas you highlight do not exist in the smaller companies: Top Cow, Dark Horse, European Companies like Soleil, Dargaud and Glenat. There, I've never had any of problems you go on about. In fact it's those problems that prompted me to go elsewhere.

Instead of despairing use this disappointment as an opportunity to broaden your horizons. There GREAT comics out there that are barely ever mentioned on this site because the big two get all the spotlight. I once tried to get people interested in some of them by posting a few reviews. But barely anyone cared.

What I need is for my comic book heroes to be heroes again. I grew up with DC & Marvel, and they have a special place in my entertainment heart, y'know? They used to be inspirational to a degree. I find them much less so now, and I don't think it's just because I'm older.

As for other companies, I like plenty of stuff from other companies: Hellboy, Invincible, Walking Dead, others that aren't on the tip of my typing fingers, and of course Savage Dragon, which has been my favorite comic since I picked up the first issue. This blog was just about a trend I was seeing at the Big Two, that I wanted to see change. I have seen change, but I wouldn't say improvement.