Friday, March 21, 2008

Comic Book Superheroes

I've always been a big fan of comic books and superheroes. I started out like most kids following the adventures of our icons Superman and Batman.

Even as a kid though, I felt that Superman was just a little too squeaky clean and preferred the whole "Dark Knight" aspect of Batman. He didn't have superpowers per se but I think he was/is borderline psychotic and is just this side of the line that separates him from the criminals he fights. That made his story a little more interesting to me.

Superman and Batman are of course DC Comics as are Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and a whole host of others. I have to say that honestly I was never really captured by the DC Comics line up. They always seemed to be missing something for me. Although around the time I was ten or twelve there was one DC super hero that I became VERY interested in.

I guess I developed a preference for smart, hot, assertive blondes with great legs early on. And when you're ten or twelve there are only certain magazines they'll let you buy.

So anyway, it didn't take me long to gravitate to the other big dog in the comic book yard, Marvel. Of course there was Spidey.

But my personal favorite was always The Fantastic Four. I WAS Johnny Storm. I believe I may have even uttered the phrase "FLAME ON!" once or twice in my childhood (okay I ran around the house shouting it while pretending I was flying). Hell, I yelled it the last time I watched the movie - just a couple of months ago.

The X-Men, at least in my memory, weren't as popular when I was a kid and I didn't really discover them until I was an adult but once I did I quickly became a fan. Especially of Wolverine. He's a smart-ass who quickly dispatches the bad guy then, with blood still dripping from his claws, lights up a cigar. What's not to love?

If you had asked me as a kid why I liked Marvel over DC I don't think I could've given you an answer other than "they're way more cool". Thinking about it as an adult I've come to the conclusion that it was because the Marvel characters were dysfunctional. They not only fought the bad guys but they were always fighting amongst themselves. Sometimes it was more of a sibling kind of thing like Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm and other times it was much worse than that. Wolverine and The Thing came close to killing each other on more than one occasion. In addition to their powers, they all seemed to have personal flaws that made them more human and much more interesting from a character development perspective. The stories also seemed to wrestle with larger issues that went beyond the good guy vs. bad guy theme that DC tended to stick with (at least from my experience) and the heroes themselves wrestled with their own powers as well. Like in real life things weren't black and white and while they were the "good guys" they weren't always a good guy. Those quirks, flaws, and demons gave them dimensionality and made you want to invest in their story. Probably why I gravitated to Batman over Superman.

I was never much of a Captain America fan (he always seemed more DC-like to me) but I was partial to some of the lesser known of the Marvel group. Actually they were pretty well known back then but you don't see much of them now. Thor and Ironman come to mind.

It was Mr. Tony Stark aka Ironman that inspired this post. Seems he's making a comeback in the form of a feature film starring Robert Downey, Jr. and the trailer kicks ass.

When it comes to the film versions of superheroes I think some of the movies hit it out of the park (Spiderman, X-Men, Christian Bale's Batman) and others failed miserably (The Hulk, Electra, the last Superman movie). I have high hopes for Ironman.

So what makes a guy stay interested in comic books and superheroes from the time he's a kid all the way into adulthood? Well they're entertaining. Then there's the character studies and the moral and sociological issues that I mentioned. But when it comes right down to it I guess I like them now for the same reasons I liked them as a kid. They're COOL. And...

I really, REALLY like the artwork.


Malach the Merciless said...

I LOVE Rogue. Dr. Strange was always a favorite, and Watchmen is simply amazing, just reread it.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

I somehow knew this post would interest you Mal. Just a hunch. Not familiar with Watchmen. Educate me.

And Rogue is dangerous. Remember, if you touch her she'll suck the life right out of you. So you'd better KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!!! You know...for your own safety.

Tequila Mockingbird said...

i always had a hard on for poisonivy from batmen. i think she was a little psychotic too. i think it wouldve been hot if her and cat woman made out.

Kitty said...

I think it's mostly a 'guy thing', this superhero admiration - I know my son loves all the films and comics he can get his hands on. I have to say I think some of the artwork is pretty amazing. x

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Poison Ivy and Catwoman? I'm sure there's a joke about scratching in there somewhere.

Yeah Kitty, I think it mostly is a guy thing. What can I say?

meggie said...

I was going to say the same as Kitty. I was not fussed, but I did secretly like the Phantom. I still do.

Mike said...

When I was growing up we didn't have much in the way of "super hero" comic books. Most of our heroes were mythic WWII super soldiers like Sgt. Rock. Since I was born less than 10 years after the end of WWII.

I often wonder if that is why I never really got into the whole super-hero thing. That's probably something you need to be exposed to at a younger age.

Malicious Intent said...

What keeps guys interested in comic books into adulthood.....on come on, you guys never grow up! Lucky bastards.

Marvel comics is as dysfunctional as my own family, so I can relate.

Mmmmmmm Wolverine...can I have him with a side of toast please?

Colonel Colonel said...

Like Mike, the comics I saw most were Sgt. Rock and related. In fact, when you were talking about super-heroes I was thinking "but what about Sgt. Rock"?

The other comics my friends and I read a lot of were the "Weird Tales" genre, no recurring characters, just lots of blood, guts, psychos, vampires and mummies.

Bruce, a work in progress said...

Meggie, I used to read the Phantom in the newspaper. That was one of the movies where they definitely missed the mark. It was a stinker.

Yeah guys, I remember Sgt. Rock. He wasn't as popular when I was into them. Remember it was the 60's and Viet Nam was going on. Col. I also remember the weird tales books. Stephen King was a big fan of those too. Did you see the movie "Creepshow"?

MI, if you mean Wolverine from the comic books then help yourself. If you mean Wolverine from the movies, aka Hugh Jackman, sorry, my wife has already claimed him.

Malicious Intent said...

I want Hugh Jackman...tell your wife to back off, I bite and I don't fight fair. I might be crippled, but I can use weapons.
(Let's visit back to the original Raiders of the Lost Arc when our hero was up against a giant sword swinging scary guy. Gun out, bang. Sword guy dead.) Yeah, thats how I roll, yup. MMMMMMM...Harrison Ford.............

Can to many poppy seeds on your bagel cause hallucinations?