Posted by: Andy | March 29, 2006

Comics go realist

So this year and last will be remembered, by me at least, as the year comics moved squarely into the “realist” setting. What do I mean by that? Well, it’s not a very good term for it, I just can’t think of a better one.

What I mean is this…both Marvel and DC seems to be moving their comic worlds much closer to the real world in the sense of “What would -really- happen if people were running around with these powers?” They have been doing things like this for years in alternate reality tales, but this marks the point where the alternate becomes mainstream. As mainstream as comics are :P.

DC beat Marvel to the punch – last year in their Identity Crisis they (in a nice bit of retconning – both parties are horribly guilty here, for better or worse) had some villians in the past figure out the JLA’s secret identities, and rape one of their wives. Because that’s something a sicko with super powers would do. No, seriously. The heroes, confronted with an actual dilemma decided to take the high road (relatively) and wipe the mind of that villain, and any other villains who learned their secret identities. Batman/Superman/Wonderwoman are of course not involved in this decision, keeping their moral slates relatively clean. Anyway, long story short, shit happens, someone takes control of Superman’s mind and has him beating the crap of of Batman & Wonderwoman – he tells them that there is nothing they can do to stop him, if they put him in jail he’ll eventually get out and use Superman to do evil, etc. So Wonder Woman kills him. Breaks his neck, and this goes out to national tv. This is probably much closer to what would happen in real life than what normally happens in comics…

Enter Marvel and their Civil War event. Some b-rank super heroes (the New Warriors if anyone cares) are fighting some b-rank villains, and one of them just happens to be Nuke or Nuclo or someone who can blow themselves up…and he does…and destroyes and entire city full of happy kids and friendly folks, etc. And this of course also gets nationally televised. So now the folks in the Marvelverse US goverment are forcing the heroes to register their secret identities (so they can be policed, fined, etc.) or be declared traitors/criminals/etc. Sounds like the kinds of things that would actually happen if people with superpowers battled it out on the streets all the time.

So, ….in conclusion…is this a good thing? I have no fucking clue. I’m all for actual progress in storylines, but I do like the idea of comics as an escape. Luckily, in the grand comics scheme of things, we (ok, just me) can probably rest assured that the companies will undo whatever it is they have done in another 3-5 years, just like they always do.

Oh wait, DC already started to undo their new “gritty” world. The Infinite Crisis is re-writing reality is we speak….look alive! But from the previews I’ve seen of it, it just got grittier, so who knows.

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