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Author Topic: Transmetropolitan and JMS Spiderman  (Read 13027 times)
HaemishM
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on: March 17, 2005, 10:18:26 AM

So the last two comics things I've been reading are JMS's Spiderman run, and Transmetropolitan.

The JMS Spidey's were up and down. On the one hand, his dialogue, especially between May, Peter and MJ, was quite good. Lots of funny bits, and very true to the heart of the characters. The stories were up and down. He spent a lot of time making Spiderman some kind of avatar of the totemic spider powers that have been transferred all through out history, and frankly, that didn't exactly work for me. It just felt off-kilter for Spiderman. The art work, by John Romita, Jr. and then Mike Deodato, was all good. One thing that I've taken out of the whole arc is that I really don't like Spiderman as a character. I never really have connected with him. Maybe it's the "whininess" of the character that I always used to hate (fighting bad guys while thinking thoughts about Aunt May's mortgage). I'm not sure, it's just that I really don't like the character. I love the movies, because they hold very true to the character I grew up reading, but I don't feel the need to follow the character like I do other comic characters, such as the X-Men or Daredevil. I simply don't care what happens to him.

SPOILER:

A few months ago, he introduced a new twist on the whole arc, one which you've probably heard about. The story is that Gwen Stacy, Spidey's love who was killed years ago by the Green Goblin, actually cheated on Peter Parker in between panels in the old stories. Not only did she cheat, she got pregnant. Not only pregnant, but pregnant with Norman Osborn's twins. And since Osborn was the Green Goblin, he targeted her to remove her from the picture so he could take her twins from her. The twins have super powers and age super-fast, because of the Green Goblin serum that Osborn had in his blood, even though the serum NEVER SHOWED THOSE PROPERTIES BEFORE. The whole arc felt like he was reaching for something ANYTHING to stir up some fan controversy. I thought the whole thing was terribly written, completely mischaracterizing both Gwen and Norman. I just don't see either of these two hooking up, EVER. So the whole story fell flat on its ass to me.

Now, Transmet, I've only read the first three issues. And frankly, it's yummy. Completely worth reading.

Velorath
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Reply #1 on: March 18, 2005, 01:52:22 PM

I like Spider-man, but I think of him in pretty much the same way I think of characters like Superman, Batman, the Fantastic Four, Captain America and all of those long standing characters.  There is no point in reading any of their comics on a regular basis because most major changes to their characters will be undone.  Many long time fans are resistant to change, and the suits want the characters to stay recognizable for their merchandising and movie deals.  Without any potential for real character development or change we're just watching Wile E. Coyote fall off the cliff again, or Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.  That's why it's important for Marvel especially to create more new characters, and why I'm happy when projects like Gravity get announced by them.
Arnold
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Reply #2 on: March 22, 2005, 04:53:50 AM

I'm not sure, it's just that I really don't like the character. I love the movies, because they hold very true to the character I grew up reading, but I don't feel the need to follow the character like I do other comic characters, such as the X-Men or Daredevil. I simply don't care what happens to him.

I haven't followed the comics very long, but I've read them here and there.  When I was a kid, I read (and still have) a paperback that has the first 5 or 10 spidey comics in it.  I watched the cartoons religiously as a child, and then picked back up on the comics for a while in high school.

Peter Parker, in the movies, is a fucking whiney pussy compared to the comics, and that's saying a lot.  Parker was a total wimp in the comics, but he's 10x that in the movies.  I didn't like the movies much at all.  The CGI was horrible, and could have benefitted from them panning out the shots to make them less fake.  I also hated the portrayal of the Green Goblin.  He was far too cheezy looking and cartoonish (as in cartoons, not comics).

The X-Men movies were much better.  X-Men 2, surprisingly, was a more entertaining movie than X-Men 1.  It's too bad the director has gone off from the franchise to do Superman.

BTW, am I the only one who hates the fact that every first superhero movie has to incorporate the origin story?  We all know how the fuck these guys came to be.  Even the general public knows the back story to Superman, or Batman, or Spiderman.  With the X-Men, it's simple enough to tell us that they are all mutants.  Come one.  Quit wasting time on the back story and give us a movie story!
stray
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Reply #3 on: March 22, 2005, 05:07:37 AM

Peter Parker, in the movies, is a fucking whiney pussy compared to the comics, and that's saying a lot.  Parker was a total wimp in the comics, but he's 10x that in the movies.  I didn't like the movies much at all.

Wow, I thought McGuire was spot on. As a matter of fact, I can't think of another superhero portrayal that stayed as accurate as he has in the Spidey flicks. Which comics were you reading anyways?

Quote
The CGI was horrible, and could have benefitted from them panning out the shots to make them less fake.  I also hated the portrayal of the Green Goblin.  He was far too cheezy looking and cartoonish (as in cartoons, not comics).

I'll agree somewhat on that. Except that Wilem Defoe kicks ass (but yeah, the Power Ranger suit sucked).

Quote
BTW, am I the only one who hates the fact that every first superhero movie has to incorporate the origin story?  We all know how the fuck these guys came to be.  Even the general public knows the back story to Superman, or Batman, or Spiderman.  With the X-Men, it's simple enough to tell us that they are all mutants.  Come one.  Quit wasting time on the back story and give us a movie story!

Well, the new Superman flick won't be an origin story. It's intended to be a sequel.
Arnold
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Reply #4 on: March 22, 2005, 06:01:16 AM

Wow, I thought McGuire was spot on. As a matter of fact, I can't think of another superhero portrayal that stayed as accurate as he has in the Spidey flicks. Which comics were you reading anyways?

I dunno, maybe it just seemed that way since in the comics Peter was talking in short bubbles, but in the movies, he was going on and on.  Parker just seemed more savvy to me in the comics than he did in the movies.  Maybe it had more to do with him putting his scientific knowledge into action by making his webshooters and other things in the comics.  In the movies, Parker was pretty much powerless and Spiderman held all the power.  It was sort of like seeing a Batman movie where Batman had no detective skills.
stray
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Reply #5 on: March 22, 2005, 07:04:53 AM

In the movies, Parker was pretty much powerless and Spiderman held all the power.  It was sort of like seeing a Batman movie where Batman had no detective skills.

Hmm....OK, that was an extremely good point (not being sarcastic...It's just something I never really considered before).
Arnold
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Reply #6 on: March 22, 2005, 07:44:16 AM

In the movies, Parker was pretty much powerless and Spiderman held all the power.  It was sort of like seeing a Batman movie where Batman had no detective skills.

Hmm....OK, that was an extremely good point (not being sarcastic...It's just something I never really considered before).

It wasn't the best analogy either, since there were some movies (maybe all of them, I can't remember) where Batman wasn't shown as being a great detective.  I was just trying to point out that Peter didn't have all the faculties and the bit of confidence he had in the comics.  When his webshooters failed, it wasn't because he had failed in studying, it was because he studied too much and shut Spiderman out.  In the comics, he would have come out of that with some new and improved web fluid.  In the movie, he lost his powers!  WTF?
« Last Edit: March 22, 2005, 07:48:30 AM by Arnold »
HaemishM
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Reply #7 on: March 22, 2005, 11:44:33 AM

I thought the movie portrayals of Spidey were dead-on. The thing you have to remember about the movies is that this is the young Spiderman. I figure that the movies have taken about the same amount of character time as maybe 50 issues, by condensing a lot of things into about two years. He really wouldn't have the confidence or abilities in the movies as he does in the comics, because he's barely been doing this for any length of time. Also, based on the movies, it would seem he's really only fought 2 super villains, with his only other action being street crimes.

As for origin stories, yeah, I fucking hate them. I think a lot of it is that the movies feel like they have to establish the character for someone who has never read the comics. How much sense would it have made if the Daredevil or Hulk movies assumed all that foreknowledge? People who didn't read the comics would be totally lost. Why does this guy have this radar sense? I hate it, but I'm sure it's not something that's going away.

Velorath
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Reply #8 on: March 22, 2005, 03:12:04 PM

Does the average person really know Spider-man's origin?  Sure, I bet most people know about the radioactive spider part, but what about Uncle Ben's death?  Peter Parker getting bitten by the spider takes a few minutes of screen time to show.  The rest of his origin is character development which I'd take any day over another 30 minutes or so of fighting the Green Goblin.  Then of course in the second movie we got all that nice Alex Ross artwork to recap the origin and other key scenes from the first movie while the opening credits are playing.  Can't think of any way they could have done it better myself.
Ironwood
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Reply #9 on: March 23, 2005, 07:03:17 AM

In the movies, Parker was pretty much powerless and Spiderman held all the power.  It was sort of like seeing a Batman movie where Batman had no detective skills.

Hmm....OK, that was an extremely good point (not being sarcastic...It's just something I never really considered before).

It's actually been brought up time and time again as the main criticism of the movie version.  I've even bitched about it on this board.  The reason that I liked Peter Parker, way back in the day, was because he was a geek.  An A1 fucking science geek.  The Spider-man 'persona' - the wise cracking, even arrogant, in control dude - was simply a character that Parker 'put on' in order to get the job done.  The best comics and stories were when Spider man had to put that aside in order to win the day.  Hell, how many times in the comics did he use science and his own genius to defeat the enemies ??
That was what Lee had in mind - we're ALL superheroes inside if we use our own inbuilt abilities.
That's why I like the Ultimate reworking of Spiderman - it gets back to that level.  That's how he took down the Kingpin, after all...

That's why the organic webshooters just never seemed right to me.  I mean, sure they made the film flow better and probably helped the suspension of disbelief, but...  I mean, who really cared about Parker's actually schooling or job in the movie ?  Conners fired him - so what ?  Let's hear more about The Bugle !!!

Still, I'm willing to overlook ANYTHING that brings us such a fantasic portrayal of Jamieson. 

"Mr Soft Owl has Seen Some Shit." - Sun Tzu
Llava
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Reply #10 on: April 03, 2005, 01:36:34 PM



It wasn't the best analogy either, since there were some movies (maybe all of them, I can't remember) where Batman wasn't shown as being a great detective.

Yes, and those movies sucked hardcore.  Your point stands.

Peter should be shown to be a scientist, and Bruce should be shown to be a brilliant detective.  Otherwise Peter's just a lucky buffoon who happened to get super powers, and Bruce is just a really athletic guy who holds a grudge.

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell. -Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Margalis
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Reply #11 on: April 03, 2005, 07:10:41 PM

Batman has never been an even slightly believable character. He's super-rich, a brilliant inventor, a super-sleuth, a great fighter, can beat anyone with "prep-time", a world-class athlete, etc. It's clear he was created in the golden age of comics where characters were all larger than life and the guys you could be if you were perfect. I mean, what is Batman bad at? He's probably a gourmet chef as well.

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
MaceVanHoffen
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Reply #12 on: April 05, 2005, 02:53:15 PM

Batman has never been an even slightly believable character. He's super-rich, a brilliant inventor, a super-sleuth, a great fighter, can beat anyone with "prep-time", a world-class athlete, etc. It's clear he was created in the golden age of comics where characters were all larger than life and the guys you could be if you were perfect. I mean, what is Batman bad at? He's probably a gourmet chef as well.

Batman's failings are/were moral, not physical, and you can see that even in some of the earliest stories.  Some of the later story arcs, especially the Dark Knight stuff, were downright black.  At certain points he had more in common with "heroes" like the Punisher.  I love that stuff.  I don't find it that unbelievable.  He's a complex guy who's batshit insane (pun intended) from the loss of his parents, and has given in to his darker urges for vengeance and retribution.

The early Superman is probably a better example of a golden-age comicbook hero.  Truth, justice, the American way, apple pie ... sheesh the guy was just a cardboard cutout for the epitomized post-WWII American Male.  I still like those old Superman comics, but they lack the depth and believability of more flawed heroes.  Like Batman.
SirBruce
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Reply #13 on: April 05, 2005, 08:29:40 PM

I always thought Green Hornet was one of the most unrealistic heroes.  He's like a rich stuffy white guy who saw Batman and said, "Hey, I could do!  Fight crime!  Yeah, that's a great way to spend my spare time!"  Unlike Batman, who is a rich playboy but who is driven by inner demons to catch criminals, Green Hornet is a businessman first and this superhero stuff is just a hobby.  Hell, he's such a stiff rich elitist he wears a SUIT to fight crime, and gets his lesser class minority CHAUFFER to drive him around and help protect him.

Bruce
Arnold
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Reply #14 on: April 18, 2005, 04:59:16 PM

Batman has never been an even slightly believable character. He's super-rich, a brilliant inventor, a super-sleuth, a great fighter, can beat anyone with "prep-time", a world-class athlete, etc. It's clear he was created in the golden age of comics where characters were all larger than life and the guys you could be if you were perfect. I mean, what is Batman bad at? He's probably a gourmet chef as well.

Batman's failings are/were moral, not physical, and you can see that even in some of the earliest stories.  Some of the later story arcs, especially the Dark Knight stuff, were downright black.  At certain points he had more in common with "heroes" like the Punisher.  I love that stuff.  I don't find it that unbelievable.  He's a complex guy who's batshit insane (pun intended) from the loss of his parents, and has given in to his darker urges for vengeance and retribution.

The early Superman is probably a better example of a golden-age comicbook hero.  Truth, justice, the American way, apple pie ... sheesh the guy was just a cardboard cutout for the epitomized post-WWII American Male.  I still like those old Superman comics, but they lack the depth and believability of more flawed heroes.  Like Batman.


They've done a great job of portraying Batman in the cartoons; way better than the movies did.  I especially like how they show him in Justice League, because you get to see how he interacts with a chummy group that he's a quasi-member of.  I love how he talks shit to Superman.  He, the guy with no powers, knows he can kick the shit out of Superman and he stands up to him, when all the others pretty much worship him.
MaceVanHoffen
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Reply #15 on: April 18, 2005, 09:50:57 PM

Now, Transmet, I've only read the first three issues. And frankly, it's yummy. Completely worth reading.

I'm slowly getting back into comics seriously.  I borrowed the first issue of Transmetropolitan from a friend, after reading this thread and hearing him crow about it.  And ... holy crapmuffins that is a damn fine piece of graphic loveliness.  I like [post?] cyberpunk, so I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised.  It's exactly the kind of thing I like in novel form.

I'm going to go buy all the current novels/issues from my local comicbook store now.  Damn you all!
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Reply #16 on: April 18, 2005, 10:01:27 PM

I'm going to go buy all the current novels/issues from my local comicbook store now.  Damn you all!

I did the exact same thing months ago. And said everyone else should as well. Speaking of, hope you can find issue #0 at your store. I couldn't. Had to get it at Barnes and Noble, oddly enough. It's a fantastic work that consists of fictional articles and art from about 50 artists. Some of the articles are way too good for words.
stray
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Reply #17 on: April 18, 2005, 10:17:12 PM

It's exactly the kind of thing I like in novel form.

Except with funny pictures!

Seriously though, this is the only reason why I've knocked superhero comics. It isn't that I don't like them. It's just that it's kept a perfectly good medium tied to one subject for all these years. Comics and "superheroes" seem to be synonomous, and these other stories would probably have a wider readership if they didn't have the "comic book" stigma attached to them.

I mean, wtf? Do "novels" and "magazines" have a stigma attached to them? No. I'd like to see comics fall into the same territory. Some of these stories are better than a lot of novels (especially newer ones). It's just a shame there aren't more people to appreciate them.
Velorath
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Reply #18 on: April 18, 2005, 10:51:22 PM

Seriously though, this is the only reason why I've knocked superhero comics. It isn't that I don't like them. It's just that it's kept a perfectly good medium tied to one subject for all these years. Comics and "superheroes" seem to be synonomous, and these other stories would probably have a wider readership if they didn't have the "comic book" stigma attached to them.

I mean, wtf? Do "novels" and "magazines" have a stigma attached to them? No. I'd like to see comics fall into the same territory. Some of these stories are better than a lot of novels (especially newer ones). It's just a shame there aren't more people to appreciate them.

It's not that superhero comics kept the medium tied down to one subject, it's that in the 70's when the comics code authority cracked down on a lot of comics, superheroes is about all we were left with in the mainstream for a long time.  Also, the "comic book stigma" as you call it has lot more to do with the fact that comic books have been targeted towards kids for a lot longer than any of us here have been alive, than it has to do with the superhero genre.  Anyway I can't get too upset about people not taking comics more serioiusly, because I've got the same bias against people who like anime.  I just find it amusing how the public seems to love a lot of movies based on comics, and yet the comic book industry is getting smaller every year.
Margalis
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Reply #19 on: April 19, 2005, 12:10:00 AM

Batman's failings are/were moral, not physical, and you can see that even in some of the earliest stories.  Some of the later story arcs, especially the Dark Knight stuff, were downright black.  At certain points he had more in common with "heroes" like the Punisher.  I love that stuff.  I don't find it that unbelievable. 

His personality is not unbelievable, but his abilities certainly are. Again, he's a world-class athlete, a world-class detective, a world-class ladies man, a world-class martial-artist, a world-class driver, a world-class inventor - he's good at everything. Name ONE thing Batman isn't great at. It's hard. There really isn't enough time in the day to master all of that stuff, no matter how brilliant you are.

As far as stories like the Dark Knight (Returns I assume you are talking about) what are his moral failings? In Dark Knight Returns he is clearly the moral superior of Superman, and I can't think of anything he did off the top of my head that pointed to any moral failings at all. He couldn't even kill the Joker - something the average NYC cop would have done without a second thought. (I mean, the guy has only killed hundreds of people and escaped prison a thousand times)

Batman has always been portrayed as a bit of an outsider or a loner, but that's never a weakness. His prickly personality rarely if ever gets him into trouble - because he's THE BATMAN! If he's really so dark, why doesn't he just kill guys like the Joker already?

I remember reading some issues of the Batman stuff Greg Rucka wrote, where the Joker kidnapped a roomfull of babies and shot Gordon's ex-wife in the face. (I think it was his wife, even though she had de-aged 20 years from Batman: Year One.) And in the end they - lock the Joker up again! (Yes, I know I'm going off on a tangent here) Hell, even I would just kill the guy after that. I mean really, I'm not all dark and creepy like Batman but at some point not killing the Joker is just irresponsible.

Edit: The series was called No Man's Land and the woman killed was not Barbara, it was Sarah (?). I forget her exact relationship to the Gordon family, I want to say ex-wife.

Edit 2: After a tiny bit of more research, Sarah was Gordon's second wife who he first met in Year One.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 12:18:07 AM by Margalis »

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Margalis
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Reply #20 on: April 19, 2005, 12:19:09 AM

Weird double post sorry.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 06:26:44 PM by Margalis »

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
HaemishM
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Reply #21 on: April 19, 2005, 12:04:58 PM

As far as stories like the Dark Knight (Returns I assume you are talking about) what are his moral failings? In Dark Knight Returns he is clearly the moral superior of Superman, and I can't think of anything he did off the top of my head that pointed to any moral failings at all. He couldn't even kill the Joker - something the average NYC cop would have done without a second thought. (I mean, the guy has only killed hundreds of people and escaped prison a thousand times)

I believe that Frank Miller once said he wrote DKR and Batman there as the ultimate Fascist Hero. His moral failings are that he brutalizes criminals with no civil authority. He is a vigilante. Which he's not alone in, but he's apparently a lot more brutal than most superheroes. It's a lot more apparent in the sequel to Dark Knight (DK2) or some such, when he essentially takes over the government. I don't recommend DK2 though, as it's meant to be a complete dark satire, and is not nearly as well-written or drawn. It's downright ugly most of the time.

As for not killing the Joker, I think he avoids killing because he doesn't just want to punish the wrongdoers, he wants to prevent the kind of pain he went through in losing his parents. He feels that by committing the same act of ultimate violence that Joe Chill did, he makes himself no better than the criminals he hunts. The upcoming story in Batman written by Judd Winick involving the Red Hood is probably going to go into this motivation more, because the Hood will be attempting the same crusade, except he'll have no qualms about killing.

MaceVanHoffen
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Reply #22 on: April 19, 2005, 01:07:44 PM

I mean, wtf? Do "novels" and "magazines" have a stigma attached to them? No. I'd like to see comics fall into the same territory. Some of these stories are better than a lot of novels (especially newer ones). It's just a shame there aren't more people to appreciate them.

Absolutely, some of these graphic novels are the equal of prose.  Ronin is the example I always trot out to show just how truly artistic and beautiful storytelling can be in comics and graphic novels.  It's looking like Transmetropolitan is going to be a new example.

But, as to a stigma, I think that's going to be true of any artform that is new.  Comics aren't even a century old, at least comics as we know them.  It takes a few generations of people to stop thinking of something as new or faddish and start thinking of it as a serious endeavor.  It'll probably take a bit longer for comics to finally hit that point.  That's an area in which all the superhero movie hype is helping, since it's exposing younger people to the the comics I/we grew up with in a way that is more socially acceptable and "cool".
Kail
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Reply #23 on: April 19, 2005, 06:15:03 PM

But, as to a stigma, I think that's going to be true of any artform that is new.  Comics aren't even a century old, at least comics as we know them.  It takes a few generations of people to stop thinking of something as new or faddish and start thinking of it as a serious endeavor.  It'll probably take a bit longer for comics to finally hit that point.  That's an area in which all the superhero movie hype is helping, since it's exposing younger people to the the comics I/we grew up with in a way that is more socially acceptable and "cool".

I don't know that I agree with this... personally, I don't believe superhero movies are helping the popular image of comics a great deal (outside of the obvious piles and piles of gold and jewels they get for the license).  Showing young people that comics can be cool isn't going to change the popular opinion of them, since they're already the target audience.  In my experience, the main drawback of comics is that they're all after such a narrow demographic that anyone who falls outside the "I like sueprhero stories" camp can easily dismiss them as juvenile hack pieces.  Or, put another way: people who liked the Spider-Man movie can read the Spider-Man comic.  People who didn't like the Spider-Man movie but do like Legally Blonde, or Son of The Mask or whatever are going to have a hard time finding any (American) comics that fit their tastes.  What I'm worried about is that super-hero movies will reinforce the image that guys in tights fighting super-villains constitutes what a comic book is, rather than what a specific (albeit cutrrently extremely large) sub-genre of comic books are.
Margalis
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Reply #24 on: April 19, 2005, 06:31:38 PM

I believe that Frank Miller once said he wrote DKR and Batman there as the ultimate Fascist Hero. His moral failings are that he brutalizes criminals with no civil authority. He is a vigilante. Which he's not alone in, but he's apparently a lot more brutal than most superheroes.

This is the same Batman who thinks the Huntress is too brutal, and is suspicious of the Justice League because he fears they have the power to do what they want. Batman really is hardly brutal at all when you think about it. He's on par with a guy like Spider-Man! In DKR he doesn't kill Superman, doesn't kill The Joker, gives Harvey Dent yet another chance, etc etc.


Quote
As for not killing the Joker, I think he avoids killing because he doesn't just want to punish the wrongdoers, he wants to prevent the kind of pain he went through in losing his parents. He feels that by committing the same act of ultimate violence that Joe Chill did, he makes himself no better than the criminals he hunts. The upcoming story in Batman written by Judd Winick involving the Red Hood is probably going to go into this motivation more, because the Hood will be attempting the same crusade, except he'll have no qualms about killing.

Sounds a lot like Batman: Year Two. (Recap: A vigalante from before Batman's era comes back into town and starts killing bad guys). The Joker thing is just cost-benefit analysis. The guy WILL escape and WILL kill more people. It's just logical to kill him. I woudl in a second - to do anything else would be negligent!

vampirehipi23: I would enjoy a book written by a monkey and turned into a movie rather than this.
Llava
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Reply #25 on: April 20, 2005, 04:54:45 AM

Sounds a lot like Batman: Year Two. (Recap: A vigalante from before Batman's era comes back into town and starts killing bad guys). The Joker thing is just cost-benefit analysis. The guy WILL escape and WILL kill more people. It's just logical to kill him. I woudl in a second - to do anything else would be negligent!

So maybe that's the moral failing.  Batman walks a thin line, and it's not the way most people think.  He's barely holding on to his sanity.  He has a very specific and uncomprimising code of honor.  He does not kill.  Period.  Ever.  Not if there's any way he can avoid it.  Even if the guy deserves it.  He just plain doesn't kill.  Even if it's "the right thing to do."  So there's Batman's failing.  He works in absolutes.  He can't make exceptions.  To do so would, to him, completely devalue everything he's done because who knows who deserves to die and who doesn't?  Maybe he should've killed Two Face.  Maybe he should've killed the Riddler.  Maybe he should just kill criminals before they do enough damage to prove that they deserve to be killed, maybe he's doing the world a favor by following his gut instinct and removing the scum from the Earth.

But he can't do that.  He's Batman, and he doesn't kill.  Even the Joker.  And, of course, the Joker knows that. NEXT SENTENCE IS A SPOILER.  In DKR, the Joker very much wanted Batman to kill him and seemed disappointed that he had to finish the job on his own.

But back to the point.  Batman's character flaw is that he's less human than the Martian Manhunter and a good number of androids out there.  He made the rules, sure, but he simply cannot work outside of them even the slightest bit.  Like a computer, it's just not possible for him.  To do so would dissolve the very fabric of his reality.  Even when his rules are wrong and he knows it, he follows them.

And really, he's not a world-class ladies' man.  He impresses some girl every so often, which is easy to do when you're naturally handsome and rich as all fuck, pretends to date her for a month or two, then flakes out on the whole thing.  It's a show.  He can fake like he's charming, but who can't do that with an unlimited budget and a butler?

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell. -Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Velorath
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Reply #26 on: April 20, 2005, 09:59:37 AM

A lot of superheroes won't kill.  Spider-man and Batman are a lot alike in that respect.  I wouldn't say it's a moral failing, nor does it make them less human.  If Batman has a failing, it's his complete lack of trust towards just about everyone.  One of the few JLA stories I've read, JLA: Tower of Babel, shows that pretty well and ends with him getting thrown off the team.
HaemishM
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Reply #27 on: April 20, 2005, 02:55:08 PM

Batman actually used to have no qualms about killing/letting a criminal be killed in his early days. Read the first ever Batman story by Bob Kane. It was only in the pussified 50's-60's era, when we had Ace, the Bat-Hound and other stuff that Batman turned into the no-killing type. Later writers had to come up with a justification for that.

Llava
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Reply #28 on: April 21, 2005, 01:38:32 PM

Batman actually used to have no qualms about killing/letting a criminal be killed in his early days. Read the first ever Batman story by Bob Kane. It was only in the pussified 50's-60's era, when we had Ace, the Bat-Hound and other stuff that Batman turned into the no-killing type. Later writers had to come up with a justification for that.

I don't consider those stories part of the Batman continuity.  He used a gun, too.  That's not Batman.

And I don't know about the "no-killing" thing not being a moral failing.  If you believe in utilitarianism, it is.  Hell, Venom and Spidey had this argument about Carnage.  Venom wanted to rip him to shreds and Spiderman wouldn't let him.  And so Carnage kept killing, and Venom blamed Spiderman.  And I'm not sure he was wrong.

But you're right, the staggering mistrust of every other hero is a flaw as well.  The whole Tower of Babel thing and being kicked out of the JLA and all that.

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell. -Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Kail
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Reply #29 on: April 21, 2005, 02:59:33 PM

And I don't know about the "no-killing" thing not being a moral failing.  If you believe in utilitarianism, it is.  Hell, Venom and Spidey had this argument about Carnage.  Venom wanted to rip him to shreds and Spiderman wouldn't let him.  And so Carnage kept killing, and Venom blamed Spiderman.  And I'm not sure he was wrong.

Yeah, but in the context of being his great weakness, I don't know that his having a different (but still fairly reasonable, E.G. not "Humanity is scum, therefore it's moral for me to kill all of them") moral philosophy is really on the same level as being vulnerable to, say, Kryptonite, or yellow light, or whatever.  It just doesn't come off as a serious hurdle: Batman, having tracked the Joker back to his lair, is forced to overcome his greatest weakness: moral relativists!  How will Batman counter their arguments in time to defuse the bomb?  Will he be forced to reconsider his stance on abortion?  Find out next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel...  It doesn't really do a whole lot to counter the whole "Batman is unbelievably perfect" argument.  When you're talking about Batman having "Moral Failings," they should probably be slightly more serious than those you would find in maybe a third of the people sitting down for lunch at the local McDonalds or whatever.
MaceVanHoffen
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Reply #30 on: April 21, 2005, 04:05:14 PM

When you're talking about Batman having "Moral Failings," they should probably be slightly more serious than those you would find in maybe a third of the people sitting down for lunch at the local McDonalds or whatever.

Donning a bat suit to take vengeance on criminals, each of whom you subconsciously imagine to be the one who killed your parents, isn't more serious to you than a third of the people at the local McDonald's?  You must live in a strange place ...

Lots of folks here seem to define "dark" and "moral failings" as a Sin City-esque orgy of death and violence.  Why does it have to go to that extreme?  Batman is a screwed-up human being.  He's not a mass murderer.  He isn't as completely gone as, say, the Punisher.  But so what?  Failings don't have to be fatal, or so extreme that you can't function in society at all.
Llava
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Reply #31 on: April 21, 2005, 05:00:14 PM


It just doesn't come off as a serious hurdle

I don't know.  I'd think his heroing life would be a hell of a lot easier if he'd just killed Joker, Two Face, Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Clayface, and Bane when he had the chances.

And let's examine the uses of a weakness.

For Kryptonite, Superman doesn't actually encounter it that often.  The enemies who know him best will put him up against it, but for the most part he doesn't encounter it that often.  Only his biggest enemies know and can exploit that weakness.

And it's the same for Batman's mental state.  The Joker often taunts him about his sanity, and Bane exploited his need to protect others to wear him down with an overload of enemies to take care of.  So maybe you're right, maybe his weakness isn't his inability to kill, but his mental fragility and self-doubt combined with his self-sacrificing need to protect the weak.  Those are the things that his biggest enemies exploit in attempts to overcome him.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2005, 05:06:02 PM by Llava »

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell. -Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
Kail
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Reply #32 on: April 21, 2005, 06:07:03 PM

Donning a bat suit to take vengeance on criminals, each of whom you subconsciously imagine to be the one who killed your parents, isn't more serious to you than a third of the people at the local McDonald's?  You must live in a strange place ...

There's a difference between saying "I think it's wrong to kill under any circumstances" and saying "I'm going to dress like a chiropteran in order to protect the world from psychotic clowns."  One is a relatively common belief, while the other is not (I think).  If I was going to make the argument that Batman has serious moral failings, I think it would probably have more punch if it were based on the second one.  Otherwise, it just looks trivial.

Lots of folks here seem to define "dark" and "moral failings" as a Sin City-esque orgy of death and violence.  Why does it have to go to that extreme?  Batman is a screwed-up human being.  He's not a mass murderer.  He isn't as completely gone as, say, the Punisher.  But so what?  Failings don't have to be fatal, or so extreme that you can't function in society at all.

Well, it depends on what you mean by "has to be."  Batman has some incredible abilities, as Margalis pointed out.  As you pointed out, his failings are mainly moral, and even they aren't that severe.  That puts Batman way above the average reader on the scale of "People who have an easy fucking life."  A lot of people don't really care for reading fiction about people who have it better than they do.  It's hard to identify with a character who (like Batman) can apparently pull millions of dollars out of thin air with no effort, when the reader is struggling to scrape together the funds to pay for a second mortgage.  That, according to a lot of people who know more about it than I do, is why Spider-Man became such a success: yeah, he can do all this crazy spider stuff, but the writers worked very hard to show that he's facing some serious, serious problems, and being able to throw buses isn't going to help him work through them.  If Batman's got all these advantages over Joe Average and nothing substantial in the negative column, his stories are going to ring a bit hollow with a lot of readers.

On the other hand, I do remember what things were like right after Spawn came out, so it's not like I'm saying that it's a good idea to start tacking on all this angsty emotional baggage onto your characters.

I don't know. I'd think his heroing life would be a hell of a lot easier if he'd just killed Joker, Two Face, Penguin, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Clayface, and Bane when he had the chances.


I think that's largely due to the fairly contrived nature of the story.  Writers don't want to create a new villain every week, so they spring the Joker from the asylum for the millionth time.  If they did things your way, and Batman did kill the Joker, another villain would be back next issue regardless (or else we'd get thirty pages of Batman playing spider solitaire on the Bat-Computer).  Either way, whatever decision he makes is going to bite him in the ass.

While I suppose you could call it a weakness anyway, I don't think it would make that much of an impression on most readers.  It just seems way too common.  It's like saying that Spider-Man is weak against decapitation, or Professor X's great weakness is that if he eats a pound of arsenic, he will die.  True, technically, but you're not going to garner any sympathy from your readers by saying that.
Velorath
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Reply #33 on: April 21, 2005, 07:01:19 PM

Well, it depends on what you mean by "has to be."  Batman has some incredible abilities, as Margalis pointed out.  As you pointed out, his failings are mainly moral, and even they aren't that severe.  That puts Batman way above the average reader on the scale of "People who have an easy fucking life."  A lot of people don't really care for reading fiction about people who have it better than they do.  It's hard to identify with a character who (like Batman) can apparently pull millions of dollars out of thin air with no effort, when the reader is struggling to scrape together the funds to pay for a second mortgage.  That, according to a lot of people who know more about it than I do, is why Spider-Man became such a success: yeah, he can do all this crazy spider stuff, but the writers worked very hard to show that he's facing some serious, serious problems, and being able to throw buses isn't going to help him work through them.  If Batman's got all these advantages over Joe Average and nothing substantial in the negative column, his stories are going to ring a bit hollow with a lot of readers.

Batman's got plenty in the negative column that in my opinion more than outweighs having lots of money.  He's pretty much given up any real chance he has of being happy to focus completely on his mission, he keeps most of the few friends he has emotionally distant from him for the most part, he saw his parents get shot right before his eyes, and had one of his sidekicks/foster son blown up.  He's had a pretty hard life, and I doubt Joe Average would really want to trade lives with him if they really thought about it.
Llava
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Reply #34 on: April 21, 2005, 08:10:29 PM

To quote Bruce Wayne in the animated Batman feature film, Mask of the Phantasm:

"I never counted on being happy."

Best Batman movie there is, atm.  Maybe Christopher Nolan will change that.

That the saints may enjoy their beatitude and the grace of God more abundantly they are permitted to see the punishment of the damned in hell. -Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica
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