I know I have a tendency to complain about the state of modern superhero comic books, but once in a while, something really shows the wonder of what comic books can do. Superheroes don’t have to be stupid, and they don’t have to be dark to have something interesting to say. And in illustration, I offer Fantastic Four #579. The story opens with Reed Richards giving a thoughtful speech to an auditorium of scientists. I’d love to quote the speech in its entirety, but not sure how that jibes with copyright. So I’ll just say that it’s an inspiring, quotable speech saying we must never stop dreaming about a better future.
But onto the topic of this particular post. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always liked things that, for better or worse, most people think of as ridiculous and silly. I love monsters the size of skyscrapers, killer robots, and superheroes. You really don’t have to read many of my books to realize this. Whether it’s cannibal witches, robot detectives, or fat werewolves, I’m a guy who likes the absurd, the bizarre. I’d much rather watch Mega Piranha than Precious. If a story has a dinosaur fighting a vampire, I’m all for it.
The problem though is that I don’t, as a general rule, like “camp”. Camp to me is apology. And I won’t apologize for thinking robots are cool or that Superman is awesome. These things are absolutely true, and anyone with an ounce of sense should already realize this. But if you haven’t, that’s your problem, not mine.
Yet there is an apology culture when it comes to this stuff. Even people who like it try to excuse it. Or, even worse in my opinion, they’ll knock it down before anyone else gets the chance.
The trailers for the new Jonah Hex movie look promising. Hex is a comic book cowboy character. You’d think that would get comic fans excited about his move to the big screen. Yet I see far too many fans of the medium already eager to dismiss the film. Sure, the trailer is full of explosions, one liners, and has horse-mounted gatling guns. But isn’t that a good thing? Do we really need another action film that takes itself dreadfully seriously? Are those are only two options as a culture? High art and dumb fluff?
NBC has a new show called The Cape. It looks like a superhero show that dares to actually be about a superhero, unlike Heroes, which was so determined to be serious that it robbed every bit of joy from the superhero genre. The Cape, on the other hand, shows promise as a cop, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, adopts a costumed identity to fight for justice in a corrupt city. Isn’t this what superheroes are all about?
I don’t know. All I know is that I refuse to believe that things can either be smart and boring OR stupid and fun. I refuse to believe that a story with a robot or talking duck is automatically unimportant and unintelligent. I don’t think boring always equals deep, and I don’t think there’s anything innately wrong with a killer elevator story.
Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,