We need another hero

DC? Marvel? Somewhere in between? Members of Salon's community Table Talk reveal their comic obsessions.

Published July 25, 2008 10:32AM (EDT)


Look, Up on the Screen!

BaileyQuarters - 06:44 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #142 of 180

Haven't seen "The Dark Knight" yet, but it is SO on my radar. Anyway, there was an interesting commentary on NPR last week. The commentator, John Ridley, suggests that people are either DC OR Marvel fans. I don't know. I loved the previous "Batman" movies. I loved most of the "Spider-Man" films, enjoyed the most recent "Hulk," LOVED "Iron Man." I just generally like comic-book movies. I don't personally read comics and I think Ridley is largely speaking to people who do.

Brian W - 06:54 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #143 of 180

I've always been a Marvel fan but I don't think that stops you from enjoying a "Batman" movie. I'm actually impressed that they can make a decent "Batman" movie when really he's kind of a dork.

Chuck Lawhorn - 06:58 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #144 of 180

I always thought Bruce Wayne would have made big bucks on sunblock. In the comics, Batman and Robin were all over Gotham City in the daylight, and Wayne's face didn't have tan lines from the mask, which would have been a dead giveaway at all the charity functions he attended.

BaileyQuarters - 07:26 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #145 of 180

I think chances are good that anybody who is a superhero is a dork. My least favorite is Superman. I just don't think he's all that super.

Nojopar - 08:25 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #146 of 180

The universes are very different from one another (oddly enough). Plus, once you invest in the mythology and history of one, it can be a pain to go through and do it in another (both mentally and financially). And, as everyone knows, the REAL geeks follow all comics, and no one wants to be considered a geek :).

MacGuffin - 08:37 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #147 of 180

What? I'm a proud geek/nerd.

Chuck Lawhorn - 09:07 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #148 of 180

Just don't bring me any pictures. I've been told to beware of geeks bearing .gifs ...

Sky Bluesky - 10:53 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #149 of 180

I can't follow both universes. I grew up a Marvel kid, and every time I try to dig into a DC comic (like the bewildering "52" series), I just get confused. Who are all these bizarre supervillains? Mister Mind? The New Gods? WTF?

I don't know if I agree that the Marvel/DC schism is based on style differences -- angsty vs. grand. There's plenty of grand heroism in the Marvel universe, and there's lots of angst and existential turmoil in the DC universe. But I'm not as avid a comic reader as I used to be, so others might feel differently.

I think a lot of it has to do with familiarity. I'm not as familiar with the DC world, so it takes more effort to acclimate to it. Whereas, I get the Marvel universe and I know how all the characters fit together, so I can just fall into a Marvel comic.

Nojopar - 11:34 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #150 of 180

You're one of the cool geek/nerds. Not those freaky nerdy nerds. Please see appropriate chart to see where one fits. Using the chart from the top to the bottom, the root node is Geek Level 1 and the final node is Geek Level 9. I, for instance, am a Level 4 Geek. I once dipped my toe into Level 5 Geekdom, but I was really drunk and there was a geeky girl involved and it I was trapped in the phantom friend zone and I never, ever, ever did it again.

MacGuffin - 11:41 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #151 of 180

Yeah, I'm Level 4 too. Does anyone like furries?

Chuck Lawhorn - 11:50 am Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #152 of 180

Just the pretty little one with the syringe on top.

Matt McClendon - 12:03 pm Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #153 of 180

Shoot, I made it down to Level 5 on three different tracks without even trying.

Bruce Jones - 06:24 pm Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #155 of 180

When I was into comic books back in the '70s, DC always seemed so square. They had the hokey George Reeves Superman from the '50s, the campy "Batman" series in the '60s (best part: Julie Newmar), and the whole DC line just felt dated. Marvel seemed fresher and more compelling, better stories with better artwork. The other day, I was going through some of my old comics and came across the "Spider-Man v. Superman" comic released back in the day. The collaboration was a big deal at the time, but was a coup mostly for DC. It wasn't until I'd gotten away from comics that DC became fashionable again, and most of that seemed to be due to Frank Miller.

Nojopar - 07:32 pm Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #156 of 180

As a full-blown comic nerd (yeah, I read both Marvel and DC), I gotta say that if you have any inclination of picking up comics and comic reading, graphic novels are a great place to start. Some of the best stuff is already collected in graphic novel form. So for a fairly small investment you can read the best of the best stories from different comics. And even if you're not a big comics fan, you're doing yourself a HUGE disservice by not reading the "Sandman" series by Niel Gamien, which are in graphic novel form now.

TicChick - 08:20 pm Pacific Time - Jul 21, 2008 - #157 of 180

I am the product of a mixed marriage (nominal Marvel fan married to diehard DC fan). Not a big Batman fan, but I've always had a soft spot for Spidey, because he's such a dork. Just saw the new "Batman" film. I found it riveting. It plays much more like a true-crime film than a superhero film. Keith Ledger's performance is amazing. All I could think is "what a waste."

BaileyQuarters - 03:47 am Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #158 of 180

I read "Watchmen" when it came out as a trade paperback oh, about 20 years ago. I've actually been wanting to read that again, because I don't remember that much about it. And I read "The Dark Knight Returns" (#1 out in 1986, going for $150 on Amazon. Eep!) But that's about all I've read in modern comics. I don't think I'm really interested in delving into a lot of comics. I just love the movies, though!

Sky Bluesky - 06:02 am Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #159 of 180

I've been reading "Watchmen" once every two years or so. It's one of the few pieces of writing that deserves revisiting.

There's a writer named Brian Michael Bendis. He's got a series that ran for a few years called "Powers." It's a sorta noir story about detectives who investigate crimes involving superpowered folks. Bendis is one of the best writers in the field, and this is one of his best works.

Rumor has it that there's a "Powers" movie in the pipeline. You owe it to yourself to read the comics before the movie comes out. However good the movies are, they will never match the chemistry and stylistic brilliance of the books. So, that's my gateway comic for you. All of the "Powers" stories are out in trade paperback form -- that's how I'm reading them now. They're well worth your time.

BaileyQuarters - 06:05 am Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #160 of 180

I always figured that at heart, Sky, you were just a sly comics-pusher man.

Sky Bluesky - 06:12 am Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #161 of 180

I'm your momma, I'm your daddy, I'm that hero in your alley, I'm a Joker -- what you need? Here's some flight! Here's some speed!

You know me, I'm your friend I got arms that can bend Comic pusher maaaaaaan ...

Sarie - 09:18 am Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #165 of 180

I love the look of the movie trailer, but (sacrilege forthcoming) I actually think the story hasn't aged all that well -- it's good, but it's very definitely a product of its time and more "great" because of the things it changed/influenced then for its holding power.

And since we're doing the universe talk I'll confess: I have a shameful past as a Wildstorm universe fangirl, so I really ought to go hide in a cave somewhere.

bbudke - 10:25 am Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #166 of 180

Oh please. I was shamefully obsessed with Elfquest for YEARS.

Oh, crap. I totally just admitted that.

Lalalanothing to see here.

comixchik - 10:49 am Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #167 of 180

DC has its Vertigo label, which publishes lots on non-superhero stuff, including stuff I liked like "Transmetropolitan." Marvel just seems all about capes. Even Batman isn't really super. He's just a guy with lots of resources.

Elmo Beachwin - 12:01 pm Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #169 of 180

I pretty much stopped reading comics back in the early '70s, but back then I preferred Marvel to DC because Marvel kept showing hints of a larger, deeper, older world.

Sky Bluesky - 01:02 pm Pacific Time - Jul 22, 2008 - #171 of 180

Here's my take on whether "Watchmen" is still relevant. In the 1980s, there was a defined evil empire that we were all convinced was going to kill us and destroy the world. We felt helpless. We thought our fate was in someone else's hands -- either Reagan or the Russians, take your pick -- who might be crazy and didn't have our best interests in mind.

Fast-forward to the 21st century. We all feel under threat from one defined evil -- al-Qaida -- but more broadly, from terrorists. People who can attack anywhere, at any time, in the places we feel most safe and unthreatened. We live under a constant shadow of fear and suspicion.

The people who are supposed to be on our side are not. Bush is crazy, and his appointed successor, McCain, is even crazier. Bush has already started one unnecessary war and seems to want to start another.

Meanwhile, we have the very real possibility that our world, as we know it, is going to end. Massive climate change, the melting of the ice caps, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, all seem real in a way that the Cold War never did. We know that climate change can kill us all -- the whole world! -- and yet we feel powerless to stop it and our leaders don't seem to even acknowledge the problem.

Plus, the world hates America as a country. So we're more isolated than we were during the Cold War. We're seen as vigilantes, bullies, cowboys.

Plus, we don't just have two countries with nukes -- we've got at least seven or eight, plus all those runaway nukes that nobody seems to know how to track down. So nuclear war is still floating over our heads.

So powerlessness? Check. Apocalyptic cloud? Check. Fear and terror? Check. Mistrust of our leaders? Check.

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