Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 18

Every Tuesday, I post excerpts from my best-selling at not-selling super blog, Playing Favorites

Huh. Cloud 9 and All-Star Superman both have some good moments. All-Star Superman's Crowning Moment of Awesome was definitely punching out Lex, because...c'mon, that was great, but Cloud 9 didn't have any particular moment of cool. She had a moment where you saw most of her early arc end. Whenever she's saving a kid who's as psyched by flying as she was when we met her. The kid's mom tells him to quit being a spaz; Cloud 9 flies all the time because it's her job. Cloud 9 doesn't respond at all; she's completely impassive about the entire encounter, focused on saving the family from their apartment fire. The reader sees that the enthusiasm for her abilities is completely external. It's a great moment, and it defines her character.

So, I like Damian and Booster for how they screw things up and most of the other guys for having awesome moments, but what does that leave Adrian, Rorschach, Cloud 9, Cable, and Deadpool? Seriously, Cable didn't have one great moment where he's a bad-ass. He's Cable, his default setting is kick ass. And even when Deadpool is fighting venom-dinosaurs in New York, his crowning moment isn't actually during the fight, but whenever he's accepted by the superhero fraternity afterwards. I can see a distinction between characters who get awesome moments of catharsis at the end of a story arc, and those who get great moments because its an even numbered issue.

Although catharsis might be where I'm getting this wrong. Coolness is just purity of intent; a cool person wants to do something, they take actions and it happens. Mxyzptlk isn't cool because he doesn't really have any obstacles to overcome. Batman is cool because he's given large obstacles that he can largely overcome through advanced preparation. Consider; when Superman fights White Martians, there's a couple of pages of messy, back and forth slugging. When Batman fights White Martians, they're a much larger obstacle and the page or two that's spent on the fight is solely the display of the “one-shot kill” The Dark Knight has prepared.

Who's cooler? The guy who (eventually) beat a White Martian, or the one who beat three with a single match? Purity of intent. You know why motorcycles are cool? No doors. No gear shifts. Yeah, they have gears and you have to shift between then, but it's something that looks incidental to onlookers. When you see someone on television get on a motorcycle, what do they do? Get on it, take half second to start it, and go. Car? Unlock it, open the door, put the keys in, start it up, gear shift, go. It's not that the car is any less reasonable a means of conveyance, but it's that the motorcycle is a more direct expression of 'going.'

If only science fiction would allow me to express the next logical step in this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jy6S_RFuNw0&feature=related

Ah, okay. If you needed any more proof, consider this: does Batman ever have to touch the door to the Batmobile?

That explains a lot about what I like about Rorschach, Ultimate Captain America, and The Midnighter (even to a lesser extent Batman and Jenny Sparks). I obviously like Damian, Booster, and Deadpool for their lack of those qualities. Granted, any superhero can be muddled and get their ass kicked. It has to be a difference of style. With all three of those guys, there's an underlying desire to be good. Not to merely become better at kicking ass, but to become more heroic and to overcome their flaws to be a good person. Damian, Booster, and Deadpool all have messed-up histories that I can relate to (not Booster so much, but he has issues that are understandable enough to cover when they aren't relatable) mixed with a desire for self-improvement I can empathize with.

Veidt does have purity of intent, but he doesn't make it exciting, which is in keeping with his role not as a purveyor of action, but of ideas and themes. Rorschach, as the protagonist--more or less--does get more than anyone else. He gets both action and character, and that's what makes him a more enjoyable read than Vedit. Adrian has two (very good) fight scenes, and then of course, a crowning moment of awesome, but that's not really enough to enjoy reading him. Rorschach is exciting every time he's on the page because his intensity and integrity come through in everything he does, and his actions scenes are just fun. I mean, he has three to four crowning moments in the book and if you want to count the Captain Carnage story, you could call that five.

Granted, those are the points of the characters; taking the long view and planning out actions that benefit all mankind is a “less obvious kind of heroism” that doesn't have the same basal appeal as breaking fingers, fighting like a scrapper, and refusing to play by the rules the world gives you.

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