June 14th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

A lot is made of how, in comics, readers can/will/are supposed to identify with certain characters.

I’ve talked a lot about how, when I was a kid watching Batman: The Animated Series, Batgirl was my favorite character.  A girl, running around, having adventures, kicking ass, taking names and sassing Robin was just about the coolest thing little Esther had ever seen.  And while I can’t deny that I feel a certain personal investment in Barbara Gordon, exulting in her triumphs and enduring her failures, I don’t think that’s the same as identifying with her.  Most of the characters in the Batverse are too perfect to identify with.

Identification also depends a great deal on the reader as well as the character.  When you were a kid you might feel a kinship with a fictional child, but when you’re an adult, often you look at the same character and think, “What a brat.”

Have you ever felt a strong connection between yourself and a comics character?  And if so, does the connection endure, or has it faded?

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8 comments to “Identification”

  1. Little known fact about myself: I served in the Korean War, where I stumbled into a cave and discovered a ruby that transformed me into a 10-foot-tall invincible monster with a dome helmet. Then I spent years inside that cave, which had collapsed onto me, and burrowed my way out until escaping and dedicating my life to murdering my psychic stepbrother while committing more generic crimes on the side.

    Because of that, I feel a very strong connection towards Snapper Carr.

  2. I’m a skinny insecure geek with glasses who spends too much time inside his own head and has a thing for redheads, so yeah, I found a lot of myself in Scott Summers.

    And like him, I never saw why people preferred Wolverine.

  3. At age 6, I used to wish that I had all the powers and outlook of Bill Watterson’s Calvin. Nowadays, I’d be more comfortable if he was a relative I saw often.

    Any connection I felt with Peter Parker was built up steadily in JMS’ run, and now is gone. In fact, based on most of what I hear is going on in his book, I can’t help feeling utterly repulsed by him and Spider-Man. I have strong doubts that I will ever like them again in my lifetime.

  4. This is going to sound petulant because of Flash: Rebirth, but the honest truth is that I always identified with Mark Waid’s version of Wally West (not so much Geoff Johns’, who I hear had a sort of Midwestern conservative streak).

    I’ve never had a mentor like Barry, but even without that admittedly big chunk of his character, I’ve always seen myself in Waid’s Wally since I was a teenager, sometimes down to the individual lines he’s speaking. He’s got a tendency to lock people out and take everything on his shoulders. He alternates between getting a swelled head and being too hard on himself. Cynical, but a romantic at heart. Most of all, I think it’s that Waid always portrayed him as being acutely aware of his own faults, but showed that just because you *know* you’re somewhat impatient doesn’t always help you get over it.

    Then again, Waid’s said in interviews that Wally is basically him in a red suit, so I guess that means … I identify with Mark Waid? Huh.

  5. As a dorky white boy and a progressive activist, I’ve developed a really strong identificiation *shockingly enough* with Spider-Man. Spider-Man embodies Superman’s “never-ending battle” even better than the Man of the Tomorrow himself. Everyday he’s out there doing what he knows is right for him to do. It gets him walked on and shat on and people think he’s a bad dude, but he does it anyway because he knows its right. I realize this is a pretty generic and self-serving identification, but after a long day of data entry and canvassing, it’s nice to repose with an issue of Amazing. The experience of Peter Parker just really speaks to me. Also, post-BND he has no luck with women and I like that a lot.

    I’m just glad I don’t have anyone in my life like Norman Osborn or Venom. *cringe*

  6. I think we all wish we were Jesse Custer, but in the end life turns us into Cassidy. You keep trying though. In spite of all the sloth and greed and envy, you keep trying to be one of the good guys, ’cause there’s too damn many of the bad.

  7. mea culpa, Paul Wilson. Any conflicts of opinion we have had on a separate post are totall null and void, dood.

    Fellow Cyclops peeps are hard to come by, especially after his portrayal in those inexecrable movies.

    It’s why I(surprisingly, not veing a Buffy-verse minion)enjoyed Whedon’s Astonishing so thoroughly. ah, myopia as a metaphor.

  8. The Silver Surfer. He was always crying on how much humanity is making war and stuff. I quickly identified to him when I was a kid with the TV show and a few years later, the first comic I bought was a Silver Surfer one. Of course, I discovered there’s much more to the character but his nobility and love for Shalla-Bal always impressed me. I’m not saying I’m like him, just that he’s a character that I can identify with.