Joe Questrawman

December 27th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There is an interesting bit of discussion going on over at Blog@Newsarama over the very same comments Joe Q made that I linked a couple days ago. Click over and read it. The comments thread is more interesting than the Bendis Board reports, because a couple interesting tangents have popped up. I’m reproducing a response of my own here because, 1) just spent a long bloody time typing it up while sitting in bed, 2) I kind of like it, and 3) “Joe Questrawman” is positively inspired at this time of day night and I feel like patting myself on the back for thinking of it in my addled state.

I come in with my is-allnow-comics zen at comment 14. Read the rest of the thread, too, though. It’s got some long posts, but interesting ones. I try to present both sides equally because, even though I may give DC a lot of crap (some of it is even deserved), I still love a lot of their comics, you know? I may not have spent my time in elementary school thinking up awesome Batman stories like I did with Spidey, but a lot of the characters are near and dear to my heart.

(Spider-Man is still better, though :spidey:)

One day, I will write on this blog about things that aren’t superheroes, I promise. I think I’m still in Wally Sage/Flex Mentallo mode, though. Morrison’s good comics are like mental viruses.

Anyway, read. feel free to discuss below or over on Blog@. It’s a conversation I’m quite interested in.

And, I would suggest stating characters that were created almost 45 years ago as being more relevant or meaningful then characters created 60 years ago is a bit silly.

The Marvel/DC discussion aside, timeliness is often directly related to relevance. Lee/Ditko/Kirby Marvel was a hit because it spoke to the times. People weren’t reading Superman on college campuses, they were reading Marvel comics. Superman was the establishment, and there was definitely a vein of “fight the power” underneath a lot of Marvel books. DC Comics was Dad Comics.

So, no, suggesting that characters created more recently than others are more meaningful or relevant is perfectly fine. It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it is often true. Gilgamesh, Ghenghis Khan, and Huckleberry Finn are all facets of pop culture. Which one is more relevant or meaningful? I’d say Huck Finn, myself.

Joe Q not mentioning Marvel lifting DC ideas in a brief quote about the differences between Marvel and DC isn’t ignoring anything, or at least not the malicious, history-rewriting ignoring you seem to think it is.

In fact, Joe Q basically undermines your entire point when he says To me, the creation of the Marvel hero is very much like this. It took what Superman and other DC greats made famous, in many cases lifted whole parts, and added layers never before seen. Heroes with problems, heroes with Achilles heels, heroes who didn’t always make the right decisions, heck, sometimes they didn’t even beat the bad guy. This was a huge variation in the theme, the defining moment for everything..

He gives it up to DC right there in plain text. First four words, second sentence. They built Marvel characters off the backs of DC characters and added what’s now the signature Marvel twist. His line about DC trying to Marvelize their characters was intended to make the “Nuh-uh, DC is way better than Marvel!” crowd stop and think. Saying that Joe Q won’t give praise when praise is due is completely ridiculous. There is this kind of Joe Questrawman that some DC fans have built up on line that’s just as bad as the Dan Didiostrawman that some Marvel fans have dreamt up. Each time one or the other says something seemingly negative about the other company, and both of them do this, neither are exempt from mudslinging, good-natured or not, the fans get up in arms about it.

re: Superman–

It is also false to suggest that no one can relate to Superman (since this country still has immigrants coming to out shores every year and there are still people who feel like they are outcasts in our society). Sorry, but if no one cared, no one would watch or buy.

Superman is only a story about an outcast rarely. Nine times out of ten, it is a story about a great man doing great things. Between Spidey and the X-Men, Marvel has themarket cornered on outcast characters. In theory, he is an immigrant. In practice, he is loved by everyone in the country, super powerful, and able to determine his own destiny, three things which even second, third, or even later generations of immigrants still struggle with. Superman is as American as mom and apple pie.

It isn’t that no one can relate to Superman. It is that Superman is something or someone to aspire to be, as is Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Flash, while Marvel’s characters tend to be closer to who we are. Peter Parker has bad luck and makes bad decisions. The X-Men are hated for who they are, which is something they have no control over. Captain America is very close to a DC hero, but he’s often faced with a government that goes against the ideals and freedoms he represents.

Marvel heroes are us, DC’s heroes are who we want to be. Hotshot jet pilot with no fear gets a magic wishing ring? Superpowered woman from a nation of simultaneously advanced and pastoral women comes to show men what’s right and wrong? An alien from space who is indistinguishable from a human is a true hero who everyone loves? These are DCs heroes.

Marvel’s heroes are the guy who let his uncle get killed because he was petty and vindictive, the arrogant man who trusted in his own smarts and ruined his friends and family’s life, a group of kids who society sees as worthless and disgusting because of their genes, and heroes who gain great power, only to screw up horribly when they try to use it.

I’m not saying that there is no overlap, because there definitely is, but in general, these are the differences between the Marvel and DC styles.

And honestly man, saying “Superman outsells most Marvel books!” is about as valid in an argument as saying “Spider-Man outsells most DC books!” Both are true. Amazing Spider-Man sold 118k last month. That is higher than every DC book but Justice League of America, which sold 140k. Big deal. If you really, really want to play the numbers game, then let’s talk about Marvel beating DC in market share for something like the majority of the past few years, despite the Crises, Our Worlds at Wars, and 52s. Market share in a discussion like this is petty and pointless, because you can twist the numbers however you like.

This conversation is veering dangerously close to “Marvel rulz, DC droolz! DC rocks, Marvel (negative word that rhymes with rocks)!” territory, so I’ll just make a couple points in brief.

There is no spider-inspired character at DC comics because that isn’t the appeal of Spider-Man. The appeal of Spidey is the everyman aspect of Peter Parker. Both DC and Marvel have aped that appeal with varying degrees of success (Richard Ryder, Ronnie Raymond). Superman’s appeal isn’t Clark Kent, stumblebum. It’s Superman, a godlike mortal.

I may hate ice breath with a passion (oh yes I do), but one of my favorite comics stories is the Death & Return of Superman because it was about a great man overcoming a great end. He died a hero and came back the same way.

One of my favorite Marvel stories is Kraven’s Last Hunt, a story about a man who fails on a number of levels (Ned Leeds, the crook who was funeralized, fighting Kraven), is punished (buried alive), and finally overcomes that failure and whose only thought when faced with that failure was that he might not see the woman of his life again.

Two very different stories about similar subjects.

But honestly, Marvel vs DC conversations are pointless. Both have good, both have bad, read what you love and ignore the rest.

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