Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 42

Every Most Tuesdays I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Materialistic villains are a simple counterpoint to heroes, but I can see why it’s not a dynamic that’s played up more often. Modern super-criminals  who are after money will usually use it to either do drugs, buy weapons to kill superheroes, or get foiled in the attempt and never have their full plans revealed. It’s usually unambiguous that they’ll spend it on something terrible when it’s discussed at all. It’s pretty rare that they’ll spend it on rent or their daughter’s operation (Thomas Hayden-Church). Sometimes, there’s a plan to retire somewhere far away with a special someone, but more often, that special someone is a harem. If they didn’t, if they were paying off student loans or funding cancer research (the real kind, not the kind that you test on human subjects to accidentally turn them into super-villains), then the heroes would be put in an ambiguous moral situation. The righteous violence that pervades the medium is grounded on a sense of clear right and wrong, and that ambiguity undermines a central theme. That clash with the fundamental nature of the comics is why you rarely see those types of robberies.
You could also contrast these crimes with super-heroic spartanism, or even communism. The heroes themselves aren’t that wealthy, but they realize that material needs aren’t important. They fight the criminals because they would do violence to others over something as worthless as money. I’m not sure if this has been explored or not, but I’ve never seen it. In all likelihood, it’s because so many of the most prominent comics are made in the slight (not to understate it) not-communist United States and because so many comic book heroes, as wish-fulfillment characters, are actually pretty wealthy.
Oh, fuck you Spawn.
(Image courtesy of SpawnCollection)

You too, The Maxx

Like sanctions against Iran, I've heaped so much scorn on Daredevil that I can't add anything more to the pile when he does something especially odious. Your mother hates you, Matt Murdock. 

She told me that when I was doing her.

Now, I’ve never seen Spider-Man stop a bank robbery without a certain degree of self-consciousness about the trope, so he’s about the only character I can think of who might get mad on principle about people injuring others for something so petty as money. Granted, I think Noir Spiderman would’ve gotten around to it if he hadn’t been avenging Uncle Ben. Noir Spiderman was a fascinating twist on the character(not fascinating enough to beat out…whatever I bought instead of buying the final issue, but still).  I just can’t bring myself to see it though. For that to happen, Spidey would have to be ambivalent about money, and he just isn’t. He isn’t broke because he doesn’t care about money; he’s broke because he cares about more than holding down a regular job. He always needs money though, that’s part of being a hard luck hero. He doesn’t just get by with less, he’s always trying to improve the lot of (if not himself) Aunt May and Mary Jane.

So, you can’t have anti-materialistic superheroes and you don’t have heroes locked in complex struggles with materialistically-motivated super-criminals.

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