Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On Killing...Again

So, here's the state of the ethics of superheroes, as depicted by Marvel and DC comics, in the year 2011;

At DC, the heroes are continually depicted as ineffectual idealists because they don't kill, struggling in a sea of mass-murdering psychopaths. I can think of no better example here than Hal Jordan, so-called "Greatest Green Lantern". First, he forms his "proactive Justice League" in the abominable Cry for Justice. This would be the League where Ray Palmer, a man of 'great compassion' (so Blackest Knight tells us), went kicking around other people's brains like his ex-wife did when she killed Sue Dibny to torture them. And what did he end up showing for it? I mean, other than Prometheus completely infiltrating the team and completely botch the whole thing? Then, not learning from his mistakes, he corals together the "New Guardians", which has at least three members (Atrocitus, Larfleeze, and Sinestro) who are known mass murderers with body counts equal to or exceeding that of the Joker.

Over at Marvel, it looks like there isn't a hero left standing who isn't A-OK with killing opponents, which is why Wolverine and Moon Knight are accepted on the Avengers, and I'm sure the Punisher will be getting a call any day now. The only one who isn't OK with this is...well, I want to say Spider-Man isn't OK with this, but given the frequency with which he teams up with Wolverine and the Punisher, I guess he's OK with killing so long as he's not the one doing it. For me, the most telling case of this occured in the last issue of the Fantastic Four (SPOILERS AHEAD), where we see Valeria Richards, clearly anguished over the death of her uncle, gathering the rest of the young kids, and plotting to kill the one responsible. A tight moment of plotting, but the implications are disturbing. Let us consider the following;
1) SHE'S THREE YEARS OLD, TOPS - yes, she's hyper-intelligent, but intelligence rarely translates itself to any kind of emotional maturity. Yes it clearly is the act of a child, but there's no scene to draw attention to that little fact, so either it is meant to implied that she's making a rash, immature and dangerous decision, or we're meant to take this at face value. I'd feel better about the former being the correct option if this wasn't the same company that gave us Hit-Girl.

2) THE REST OF HER GROUP ARE CHILDREN - Oh, and the group she gathers together for her little plan are (with the exception of Alex Power) untrained combatants. So, if her plan is to advance, she will be making a group of minors accomplices to a premeditated act, and that trips well into that whole 'Child Soldier' thing I talked about a year ago.

3) WHERE'S THE ADULT SUPERVISION? - No one's around during class time? No HERBIE robots? or video cameras? Or any kind of supervision? No? OK.
So there you have it; Ineffectual morons on one side, and murderous children on the other. And people wonder why comic readership is sinking.


Greg Manuel said...

Johnny Storm's death wasn't all that great to begin with...

Tom said...

Hard to be great when the readers know he will be back in a year or so. Even if it is a bit longer than that the licensing alone demands he be back somehow in a timely manner.

I don't know the full details but I think his death at this point was a blessing (and on a side note, how can anyone in the MU take his death seriously when The Thing has died at least once and Reed went to Heaven to get him back? They even joked about revolving door death in the pages of She Hulk, when Jen pointed out she's died. Twice.). Storm has been stuck as a man child for years now, all that John Byrne character development was conveniently forgotten by writers who came after who found having Johnny Storm as an adult just wasn't "fun". Maybe it's for the best; if Storm had remained an adult Quesada probably would have One More Dayed him.

Yeah, still bitter over OMD. Hard for me to let go of some things.

Phil Watts, Jr. said...

"If Storm had remained an adult Quesada probably would have One More Dayed him."

Hate to tell you, but they already OMD'd him years ago. Remember that one time when Johnny was married to Alicia Masters? Oh---wait a minute--THAT WAS A SKRULL!!!

Anyway, on subject, a lot of people will justify killing by saying, "Hey, police officers and soldiers kill and that doesn't make them any less heroic, right?" Thing is, Policemen and soldiers have people they have to answer to. There are reports that have to be filled out, and they have to go to their superiors to explain why they had to take the actions they took and if their superiors think it's wrong, those policemen or soldiers get reprimanded for it. However, even if their superiors excuse their actions, if the PEOPLE find it reprehensible, the soldiers and policemen will lose the trust of the people they have sworn to protect.

Who does Wolverine and the Uncanny Snikt-Bub Force (I refuse to call them 'X-Force' because Cannonball hasn't been in it) have to answer to? Who gives them the right? What would happen if any of their kill-sprees were exposed for everyone to see? Would Mr. "I'm-the-best-there-is-at-what-I-do" be able to face the people and give them the same "Snuffing that child was the right thing to do" speech he gave to Deadpool? Best believe, Mr. Logan would've 1) further tarnished the Avenger name (as if Iron Man hadn't tarnished it enough), and 2) given the people a REAL and justifiable reason to hate and fear mutants.

mrjl said...

In the MU people have supported Norman Osborn at the head of all superhumans. America has frequently been depicted as willing to allow the genocide of the mutant race. So I;m not sure how ruined the Avengers name would be.

As for Cry for Justice, that was such an idiot plot it's best to just ignore any characterization.

Anonymous said...

Kbox always argues that Spider-Man is the only Marvel hero left standing who doesn't kill.

I'm just back from TV Tropes, and reminded that there's also still Squirrel Girl.

They haven't changed that yet, have they?

MrCynical said...

Give it time

Phil Watts, Jr. said...

"In the MU people have supported Norman Osborn at the head of all superhumans. America has frequently been depicted as willing to allow the genocide of the mutant race. So I;m not sure how ruined the Avengers name would be." could I have forgotten that!? I guess that blows my analogy out of the water, since the general public in Marvel is portrayed as fucking idiots. This whole thing shows why I absolutely HATE the comics of the past decade. I don't know how anyone who bashes 90's comics can turn around and support crap like this.

Tom said...

The past decade has not been all bad. I liked a lot of JMS' Spider Man run, pre Avengers. Busiek's Avengers was good as well and I liked what Geoff Johns did as well. And I thought Waid's Fantastic Four run was pretty decent. Morrison's X-Men was different in a good way and Whedon had a decent run as well (I just wish it hadn't taken so damn long for it to finish). And don't forget Runaways. There have been gems, here and there.

I think the point that it all went downhill for me was right before Bendis took over Avengers. I forget who was writing it between him and Johns but it was horrible. And then Disassembled happened and that was when it all went to hell.