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Post By
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
In Reply To
Nitz the Bloody

Subj: Re: I respectfully disagree
Posted: Mon May 25, 2009 at 03:34:00 pm EDT (Viewed 127 times)
Reply Subj: Re: I respectfully disagree
Posted: Mon May 25, 2009 at 02:45:55 pm EDT (Viewed 142 times)

    If we're talking about morally uplifting art, then let's ask the question, why are we doing it in the context of superhero franchise comics? Certainly they're entertainment capable of a lot more intellectual merit than most would give them credit for, but not the category of art ( with some exceptions like Frank MIller's Daredevil work ).

    If we're talking about fun, why put judgments of right and wrong on virtual worlds? Enjoying killing a Nazi in a WW2 shooter game, and enjoying killing a real human being, are two different things. What people find fun shouldn't be judged as long as it isn't a detriment to themselves or others.

    If we're talking about the moral structure of the superhero genre...well, personally I find both traditional Silver Age superheroes and the modern stuff as celebrations of might making right, just that the modern stuff actually shows how unsavory using violence can be ( on either side ), whereas the traditional superhero is capable of just leaving it at knocking out the bad guy with a punch to the face, putting them in jail, and putting the flag back on top of the capital. Denying the existence of moral complexity is worse than wallowing in it, me thinks;

I don't disagree with your final sentiment, but the situations created in most superhero comics do posit the existence of one morally simplistic formulation even now: there are plain evil people. We've reached a point where even characters like Doctor Doom, who once had a patina of moral complexity, have absolutely none in most of their 21st-century appearances. Essentially, doing the right thing is to wallow in such complexity that you achieve nothing. If you want to actually affect the world in the MU, it's far smarter to be a villain without limits.

And indeed, the reader reaction to Dark Reign seems to support that: from sales and commentary, watching Norman Osborn dispense with civil liberties and employ psychopathic and gleeful murderers like Bullseye is quite popular, and Norman seems to many fans like someone who actually gets results.

More to the point, we don't seem to be seeing any protagonists who can really navigate the moral complexities of superheroing. That is to say, we have lots of protagonists being thoroughly undone by their failure to appreciate such complexities, but we're not seeing what a successful or even partially successful strategy for dealing with ethical problems might be.

I'm not necessarily asking for didacticism or aspirational writing, but for heaven's sake, wouldn't it be narratively satisfying to see someone with a conscience make out alright using thought, empathy, and, yes, even healthy cynicism more often than not? I really question what sort of fantasy is being indulged at Marvel currently, and what sort of psychic architecture underlies it. From here, it looks less like "Black and Gray Morality" than like an amoral cosmos in which only an imbecile would try to be moral in the first place. Being good (or trying) is utterly without practical, social, narrative, or thematic value in the current Marvel Universe as a whole.

It's one thing to have the solution of a major problem produce unforeseen consequences or fallout; it's another to have every crisis be not only worse than the prior one but a direct result of it as well. Political inaction or wickedness become the only sane options at a certain point.

If we're simply giving up on the idea of superhero fiction and enjoying Dark Reign as a Grand Guignol sort of sensationalist pleasure, that's fine -- not worth 4 bucks a pop, but unobjectionable. If it's anything else, though, it's failing at it and badly.

    to quote a great Jedi master, " Only a Sith deals in absolutes ".

Isn't that statement itself an absolute?

- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."
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