Saturday, July 31, 2010

Villains - How do you like em?

So, here's an important question: Do you think it's important for a villain to be relatable or sympathetic in a superhero story? If so, how much?

Now, I think the answer tends to vary on the story and the character itself: I don't want to find myself sympathetic to say, the Red Skull in a story because at the end of the day, he's a frickin' Nazi. I mean, end of story. I don't think it's a good idea to portray him as even remotely likable or sympathetic.

By the same token, I don't think I can actually get the motivation of someone like Joker, and I'm probably not supposed to, at least most of the time. With some villains, it's better to just think of them as pure evil because it makes it that much more satisfying when they get their heads beat in by the hero. Sounds simple enough, right?

At the same time, I can understand the desire to feed some complexity and nuance into a story. Making Kang sympathetic in Avengers Forever helps to give him depth. It actually elevates not only him and his lunatic schemes, but also the Avengers. By casting Kang in the role of the unstoppable conqueror, a futuristic Alexander, it helps elevate the Avengers to the level of a force of nature, the one thing that for all his power, Kang cannot conquer. Similarly, although I don't see Magneto as a hero, making his cause understandable adds nuance to his schemes and his fight with Xavier, making their rivalry as much about ideology as much as, you know, people hitting each other.

The problem, I think, is when you try to make a character never meant to be sympathetic into one. And I think that's a thing that has happened too frequently these past few years in comics as noir sensibilities, which work best with a sense of moral ambiguity, have muddied the waters of hero and villain.

What do you think?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Continuity Implant - STAT!

Here's where the "sliding timescale" is about to bite Marvel in the ass in a big way.

OK, I can accept that the Magneto walking/flying/menacing his way around modern day Marvel Earth is a lot younger than he should be because hey, when he got his proper age restored waaayyy back in the Claremont X-men days, well, he could have had his age reset in his late 30s for all we know.

That's not the problem.

The problem is the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

If we assume that they are thirty five years old (which is the upper limit of assuming their ages) that gives them a birthdate of 1975....which is 30 years AFTER World War Two. Which means that at best, Magneto (and Magda, his wife who was also a Holocaust survivor) would have been into their forties. This of course, is a problem that is only going to get worse as the timeline keeps sliding forward, and you have to do some impressive mental gymnastics to work around this issue.

Now, clearly I'm not saying that Magneto's origin needs to be fully retconned - like it or not, the Holocaust experience gives the character most, if not all of his gravitas and makes the character's motivations much more dramatic, revealing, and even on occassion, understandable (if not sympathetic). But don't be surprised if in the next twenty years someone in the Marvel Braintrust comes up with the idea that Magneto subconsiously "electromagnetically extended his own lifespan as well as that of his wife" in order to prevent this problem from getting any worse.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The heck with it, let's call it Gamer week, shall we?

I really don't think I'm going to have much to say about comics until after SDCC and all that news filters out and I've digested it, so let's go with this, ok?

Monday, July 19, 2010