- Posted by Johanna on May 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm
- Category: Superhero Reviews
While listening to the hilarious 4thletter Fourcast! podcast talking about Namor, Aquaman, and the Atlanteans — seriously, you should check it out, Aquaman’s various origin stories are demented — I found myself realizing what I wanted from Marvel and DC.
I want superhero comics that do “ripped from the headlines” stories. I want to see Aquaman respond to the environmental disaster of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. I want to see Daredevil try and track down the Times Square car bomber. I want Green Arrow, fed up with transportation costs, hunting oil profiteers (or maybe Batman, since he’s got more vehicles). I want every superhero in New York to avenge themselves on fat-cat Wall Street criminals.
This is what made Superman the success he was, and spawned the entire genre: he was an outlet for the little guy frustrated with bigwigs and sprawling events that felt out of control. Superman would bring justice where it seemed no one else could. That describes the feelings of readers today as much as in the 1930s.
I know that there are two huge problems with this idea. One, big comic companies are fraidy cats, scared that they will annoy potential customers, so they don’t want to take a stand on anything or have their heroes seen representing one particular point of view. Which is why so many of them are bland and interchangeable.
But if they took this approach of finding drama in real life, both their characters and creators would find new passion, and the titles might even get free publicity. People would be talking about them in terms other than “a humongous but boring all-title crossover AGAIN?” They’d spur interest and emotional involvement.
The second problem is timeliness. It takes time to write, draw, and publish a comic, so characters would be tackling challenges after they’d fallen out of the newspapers. But Law & Order manages to handle this problem by fictionalizing events (something you’d want to do anyway) — when we see the story on TV, we remember reading the headlines, and then we stay tuned to see what spin they’ve put on them.
Plus, as digital comics grow, the publication delay diminishes. Creators would still need time to create the work, but it could be released online almost immediately, and with the whole story collected into print (with cool extras comparing how the story went to the real-life events) later.
This, by the way, was one of the things I enjoyed about The Hacker Files. (I liked that title so much it was one of my very first online reviews, back in 1992.) The cases in that comic miniseries were based on actual investigations, often badly mangled by the feds. And you know, geeky old me has to adore that the letter column (remember those?) was called “usr/hacker/mail”.