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The problem with comic book heroes...

I think part of my reluctance to get into the Marvel fandom is the fact that comic books don't end... and nothing happy ever happens in them. Yes, the hero saves the day, but it's usually at the cost of their own happiness. Their best friends and/or lovers die... or they do, tragically. You need drama to keep a story like that going and the best drama is tragedy.

So, for instance, I've been enjoying Captain America fic recently, but the fic that I'm enjoying is the sort of stuff that would never actually happen in the official story - because it's the fic where everyone is broken and is never going to get better, yet they learn to live with their brokenness and they learn to be happy, and the fic ends with the premise that everything has reached a stage of "as joyful as possible given the circumstances" and it will remain that way until all characters die of old age. Whereas, I already know that depending on what comic-book plot they follow, and, to me, all evidence points to the fact that they are going to follow this one...[Spoiler (click to open)]there's a good chance that Steve Rogers is going to die and Bucky Barnes will become Captain America. And that's not a happy ending, because someone is dead and someone must live without them.

I like things that end. Ironically, it was part of the reason I got into Supernatural - I was convinced that it would end after S5, and even if it ended in tragedy (which, at the time, Supernatural had all the markings of a clear tragedy), I would be fine with that, because at least it would have a definite end to the tragedy - and the tragedy would not continue forever. Comic books just keep going and they are ALWAYS tragic and nothing ever works out, not completely. And even if one chapter ends on a happy note, you know the next chapter is going to destroy that happiness... and I don't think I can take that when there's no clear end to the misery in sight.

Comments

( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
franztastisch
May. 9th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC)
This is very true. It's a joke, but also true, that superhero comics are soap operas, because they totally are. BUT the good thing with Marvel is that you can pick and choose. For instance, I have discovered that I'm not really interested in superheroes. So the current run of Hawkeye is absolutely perfect. And I think that story will have an ending, even if it's left open enough for other people to come in and write more about that character. But that's fine because, like with Supernatural (for me) I can stop. If you wanted, you could just follow MCU. It would have one - much more satifying, I have found - clear storyline, and yeah they might follow certain plots, like the one you mentioned above, but at least you can feel pretty safe in the knowledge that they probably won't fuck it up too badly. And, unlike with many of the deaths in the comics, they will be final (one hopes), they will have emotional resonace and the other characters around them would deal with it like people. Or at least, that is the impression I get the more Marvel films I watch.

Anyhoo. The Marvel fandom is very pick and choose. I mean, I'm in the Marvel fandom and I ignore about 95% of it. So I totally understand if you're reluctant.
hells_half_acre
May. 9th, 2014 09:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah... I don't know. I guess there's always the point where I can bow out and say "well, I'm stopping here and I'm going to pretend that everything that comes after this doesn't exist." And I've done that before with things - Torchwood, Supernatural (in a weird way, where I basically treat S6 onward as an optional official AU), the last half of the movie AI... there are others but those are my main ones.

I DID really enjoy the editions that I read of the current Hawkeye run, and I need to find a new source for those and read more, because the writing style in that series is less drama/tragedy-based and more "mundane of the extraordinary" which is something I love.

But yeah, MCU is PROBABLY the safest, and any trailers would warn me if I perhaps shouldn't watch an upcoming movie if I don't want to live in a world where certain people are dead.

I'm also REALLY interested in the upcoming Agent Carter TV series!!! But I don't consider that superheroes... that's more kickass woman dealing with sexism in a historical setting and MAN, that sounds so cool.
franztastisch
May. 9th, 2014 09:45 pm (UTC)
I thik thats another reason MCU would work for you. Cos even if the character died (because c'mon, they're played by actors and they can't go on playing those characters infeinately) I think it would be in a S5 Sam way rather than Mystery Spot Dean way. It would actually mean something (this is why I'm pissed at AoS and the return of Coulson because you've made his death mean nothing and I hate that). AND because it's done in a real world way which means that it's as plausible as it can be within the confines of a comic idea. Hence why Agent Carter is SO FUCKING EXCITING. And why Captain America isn't annoying (which he sort of is in many of the comics) and Hulk works and Thor isn't weird (which he is a bit in the comcis).

Also MCU is easier than the bajillion issues of comics you're missing because you weren't born in the 30s.

I can get you downloads of all Hawkeye issues if you want. :) IT GETS SO GOOD/PAINFULL.
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la_mariane
May. 9th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
I read Avengers fanfic without knowing the canon, and it works really well, so you always have that solution :) I did that for the Stargate Atlantis fandom too (I really don't like the TV series but I love the fics writen with those characters).
hells_half_acre
May. 9th, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I'm currently doing with Captain America - though, I may actually breakdown and watch the movies. Hence this post, while I contemplate the path this decision may lead me down....
la_mariane
May. 9th, 2014 09:53 pm (UTC)
From what I understand, there are several different story lines with the same characters. I'd just pick a short, already finished one and stick with it, if you need to have a coherent canon.
I know I don't mind when I don't have all of a series' canon (one of my guilty pleasure as a teenager was reading Perry Rhodan, so I got really good at filling in the blanks). Maybe I'd just pick the bits I like in canon and ignore the rest!
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caranfindel
May. 9th, 2014 10:41 pm (UTC)
I don't read comic books and I don't even know what MCU is, so take this for what it's worth (which is about what you paid for it), but I think the problem of someone always dying is inherent in comic books because otherwise, what's the conflict? The same good guy/bad guy, a different bad guy, it all gets old. In a story that doesn't end, you need some new drama to mix things up.
hells_half_acre
May. 9th, 2014 10:54 pm (UTC)
MCU is "Marvel Cinema Universe", I believe.

In a story that doesn't end, you need some new drama to mix things up.

Exactly. That's my problem with things that don't end, and why I prefer things that DO end.
katsheswims
May. 9th, 2014 11:45 pm (UTC)
I actually recently got into the Marvel fandom (as far as reading fic goes) just from watching the MCU films. I haven't read any of the comics, and when reading a fic if I come across a character I don't know I just do a quick wiki search. I've learned about some of the comic storylines that way and I get what you mean about all the death (and coming back from "death") and drama that happens. But I think in fic you can just ignore that and search for what you want. And the MCU movies are doing a good job keeping a followable timeline and linking the movies together.

I just saw the new Captain America a couple weeks ago and thought it was great. I hope you post a reaction after you see it because those are always interesting! So you haven't seen any of the MCU movies? I saw Avengers first and that made me want to see others. (I've watched the 3 Iron Man ones, 2 Thor, and 2 Captain America.) Also on imdb it says there is a Black Widow movie coming in 2015--hope it's true! (And I want a Hawkeye movie too! Or for him to be in her movie.)

And I heard about Agent Carter today and I'm excited. I wonder where they're going with it? I hope they do a good job because I haven't heard too many good things about Agents of SHIELD (though that got renewed so it must have something). Obviously it will be back in the forties or fifties, but I'm hoping there might be some flashbacks to the war that may incorporate others we've seen in the first CA movie. I can think of a lot they could include, but I just don't know what direction they'll take.
hells_half_acre
May. 10th, 2014 12:02 am (UTC)
I hope you post a reaction after you see it because those are always interesting!

Okay, if I do go see it, then I'll post a reaction. I already have the first Cap movie waiting to be watched, but I'll probably maybe wait and do a reaction post to both, if I manage to make it to the theater to see Cap 2.

So you haven't seen any of the MCU movies?

I've seen the (Edward Norton) Hulk, Thor I, Ironman I, and The Avengers, but that's it.

I hope Black Widow gets her own movie too! And I'd love it if Hawkeye was in it, or got his own movie too...or showed up in someone else's movie.

I hope they do a good job because I haven't heard too many good things about Agents of SHIELD (though that got renewed so it must have something).

I heard that Agents of Shield got really good towards the end of the season, once the Cap 2 movie was released and they could include storylines that otherwise would have been major spoilers, I guess. I've heard it said that other Whedon ventures have needed a whole season just to get off the ground and get going, so it could be that AoS was the same and they'll do better from here on out.

Obviously it will be back in the forties or fifties, but I'm hoping there might be some flashbacks to the war that may incorporate others we've seen in the first CA movie. I can think of a lot they could include, but I just don't know what direction they'll take.

Apparently it's going to take place starting in 1946, and follow Peggy Carter as she deals with the men coming back from war and wanting to put her back in the kitchen. She'll be running jobs for Howard Stark, while dealing with sexism, basically... meanwhile she'll be recovering from the loss of Steve, who, of course, is for all extents and purposes completely dead at that point.


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cordelia_gray
May. 10th, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC)
This is a lot like what I've been doing - there is a ton of information out there, so it's easy enough to get oriented without going through reading 60 years worth of comics. :D

I'd recommend Agents of SHIELD, with the caveat that it starts very badly, and doesn't get really good until the point where it starts to tie in to the Winter Soldier movie. If you're interested, I could probably recommend which episodes watch if you don't want to sit through the whole thing. ANd I'm so excited for Agent Carter! Yay.
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claudiapriscus
May. 10th, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
Frickin' LJ changed something and now I can't post anything from firefox...which meant when I forgot that, it ate my giant comment. Grr.

So let me try and hit the main points again:

I really can't say my experience of comics matches your description. You know I've got a low tolerance for angst for angst's sake and the kind of storytelling where everything always gets worse, always, and there's basically no point to anything? Comics...at least in my experience, which is pretty much just Marvel, don't do that. They tend towards hope rather than despair. Oh, there are a few titles, and a few authors, but it always comes back round again. Daredevil, which apparently was one of the most misery-soaked titles around for years, right now is nothing but delight...and that's without sweeping the past misery under the carpet. I mean, sure, there are the fluffier titles (MARVEL ADVENTURES, MY HEART), but what I really like are things like the late lamented FF, which on one level is about a main character's journey through grief following the death of his daughter, about managing to keep going, about the families you find when you need them. And it's heartwarming and joyful and funny with just enough pathos to make those things seem like even greater gifts. The dude's daughter is almost certainly going to be back among the living eventually. That'd doesn't negate the power of the story that was told though. It just means the reunion will feel all the more earned.

Even the most gut-punching moments/stories I can think of, just as the end of Journey into Mystery or the death of Ultimate Peter Parker (almost certainly not coming back) don't feel like angst ex machina. There's a purpose to those stories, and part of that is how they're told, and part of it is what is done with the stories after.

The marvel universe (Well, at least the 616. Ultimates...is another story. With Ultimate-Spiderman as the lone exception) is one in which hope exists and victories and sacrifices matter, even if there are always new villains or the old ones find ways of returning.
hells_half_acre
May. 10th, 2014 01:04 am (UTC)
Oh man, sorry to hear about your LJ/Firefox troubles. That's SUPER frustrating. Thanks for taking the time to write out the comment again.

Thanks for weighing in with your opinion. As you can tell, my opinion isn't based on me actually READING a lot of comics, because I've been avoiding them due to the above stated fears - so, maybe I just have it all wrong? Maybe things not ending doesn't mean that things are always miserable and without happiness. Maybe I've just been ruined by other media that DID do that, and now I just assume that everything that never ends does the same. Maybe I'm too used to seeing dark things like Batman, where everything is horrible all of the time... and not everything is Batman.

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thursdaysisters
May. 10th, 2014 12:49 am (UTC)
And that's why there's graphic novels. :-)
hells_half_acre
May. 10th, 2014 01:04 am (UTC)
I do enjoy a good graphic novel. :)
khek
May. 10th, 2014 01:17 am (UTC)
I read comics for about 20 years...until I stopped. Partly it was because I got fired by the comic book store I worked at (long story, but basically, someone was stealing money and they just fired all the staff working the shifts where the bank deposits disappeared). I was so angry at their reasoning that I stopped going to the store, and the next closest one was miles away. Going pretty much cold turkey, I found that I was saving money AND had more time for other stuff...like fanfic. :)

Anyway, the thing I actually liked about them was that, like soap operas, the story never ended. I always liked the books with teams and large casts of characters though, because even if one was lost to tragedy or (occasionally!) a happy ending, there was someone else left to take their place.



hells_half_acre
May. 10th, 2014 01:24 am (UTC)
Ouch, that sucks about the job.

Yeah, another reason I'm reluctant to get too far into comics is the money issue. I save a lot of money by devoting most of my reading time to fanfic which is by necessity always free.

But, I was never a soup opera fan - or a long-running-anything fan. I liked stories that had a beginning a middle and an end, and even if the end left things open for me, I liked being able to decide for myself what would happen after the story - rather than have the story continue for me at infinitum.
etoile444
May. 10th, 2014 03:16 am (UTC)
Oh I think you'll like Winter Soldier. Its my current obsession. Watch the first Cap movie before though because u need the whole story.
hells_half_acre
May. 10th, 2014 03:32 am (UTC)
Cool. Yeah, I've got the first Cap movie all set to go on my computer. I may watch it tonight or possibly tomorrow. Then it's just a matter of finding where The Winter Soldier is still playing in town and a good time to go see it. :)
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kuhekabir
May. 10th, 2014 08:55 am (UTC)
That is actually very true. And I am afraid they might actually go with that story line where Bucky become Captain America because the actor playing Bucky is signed up for more movies than Chris Evans...who said he wanted to focus on other things anyway...

But they've surprised me so far...and in the comics, if I recall right, Steve does come back...resurrected or some sort of it...I actually have faith in them...they have done really well so far...LOL.
hells_half_acre
May. 10th, 2014 04:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's why I figured they'd go with that storyline too. I guess we'll see though - it's true that so far Marvel has made very good decisions when it comes to their universe. Though, I'm a little skeptical about Ant-Man.
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cordelia_gray
May. 10th, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
So I'm just dipping my toe into Marvel fandom, and it seems pretty fun so far. I think superhero stories are like mystery plays, in a way - there's a set of stock characters and situations, and they get retold over and over in a variety of ways. It's not like things just continue and get darker and darker: it resets periodically, and everyone goes back to ones, and they do it again, with different costumes in different era, with characters being added or replaced. Batman's parents always die, but what happens after can vary a great deal.

It seems pretty possible to pick and choose the parts of canon that work for you, and skip the bits that don't. And the advantage of the movies is that you need to have moments of triumph where the good guys win in a billion-dollar movie franchise, so they are by nature going to be more upbeat.

Though, that said, both the last run of Batman movies and the current Superman film were pretty relentlessly grimdark, so maybe it's just Marvel, IDK. (I was really irked by how dismal the last Superman film was, actually - this is a story which is supposed to be rooted in a basically positive, morally optimistic worldview - I hated what they did with it.)
hells_half_acre
May. 10th, 2014 08:57 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm starting to get the picture that Marvel is the light to DC's dark, these days at least.

I suppose comics are a lot like fanfiction - where you just have your base characters and then different runs/series with different authors and illustrators write different stories and it's all "canon" because it's all got that Marvel/DC stamp on it.

So, maybe *I'm* the one being doom and gloom and it's actually not that bad... or maybe it's just a matter of finding a story that ends on a happy note and then not reading anything else.

Edited at 2014-05-10 08:58 pm (UTC)
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metallidean_grl
May. 11th, 2014 07:57 pm (UTC)
and nothing happy ever happens in them And how is that so different from Supernatural? ;)

I don't read Comic Books, but I do enjoy the movies and shows that come out of them. I would think, though, that eventually they would come to an end, right?? I haven't delved at all into that world, except for the Shield TV series, and I am enjoying where it is taking us. But, I don't plan on getting involved any further into the universe aside from watching the movies/TV shows, as the SPN fandom is enough for me.
hells_half_acre
May. 11th, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC)
And how is that so different from Supernatural? ;)

Ha! It's not. When I first got into SPN, it was because I thought it would end after S5!! They tricked me! ;)

But yes, according to people who actually do read comics, I am wrong about this, and things do end and get rebooted and happy things DO happen - so, maybe the person who has the doom and gloom problem is actually me! :P
(no subject) - metallidean_grl - May. 11th, 2014 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
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