Tag Archives: Superman

Bulletproof Luke Cage in 2016

The Luke Cage stories of 1972 Marvel comics are not what you see in the new Netflix series. The new writers deliver a more mature story than their source material, Sam Knowles says, in many ways.

One clear improvement is apparent to anyone who happens to see cover art from the old comics. Luke was known as a ‘hero for hire.’ He used his abilities as a way to earn a living, which in the real world makes some sense, but what other superhero does this? The mercenaries are usually the bad guys. The good guys are heroes for the sake of justice. Knowles states,

Luke’s identity as a self-proclaimed ‘hero for hire’ sets him up in opposition to white superheroes, whose racial privilege enables the narrative of ‘superhero-ness’ to be about altruism. As a result, others look down on Luke’s attitude–most obviously Dr Noah Burstein [the scientist who gave Luke his power]: “I’ve heard how you’ve helped neighborhood merchants against Syndicate protection men. For a fee / Bit disillusioning from a so-called hero, isn’t it?”

Luke Cage and the Evolution of the Superhero Narrative

The Netflix story explicitly drops this idea early on. In the beginning, Luke doesn’t want to get involved at all. His father figure, ‘Pop’ Hunter, urges him to use his gifts to help others and later suggests he hire himself out, but Luke refuses. Though he struggles with whether his efforts to help amount to kicking the criminal hornets’ nest, he continues to help those he can because it’s the right thing to do. He loves the people of Harlem.  Continue reading Bulletproof Luke Cage in 2016

Superman’s Actions Speak Louder Than His Words

Recommending All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, Jace Lington points out the odd contrast between the Man of Steel’s words and his actions. He writes,

At one point in the story, Superman faces two Kryptonian astronauts who arrive on Earth and begin to subjugate humanity. They mock Superman for serving the “barbaric” humans and for refusing to establish Kryptonian dominance. They say his actions betray his homeland. Superman responds, “What right do I have to impose my values on anyone?”

He asks what right he has, but then when the bad guys come, he shuts them down. Does he not doubt his right to smack around bad guys, or are his actions merely emotional and therefore unaccountable? No, his actions demonstrate that he believes there is a proper time for standing up for what is right, or to put it another way, to impose your values on others.

It’s remarkable moral relativism has any traction at all, because no matter how you attempt to justify it, it falls apart. Moral relativism is not a moral framework. It only poses as one, because its fundamental assertion is that morality does not exist. Every moral question is defined as personal preference, no more significant than any other preference. If I say I prefer blue shirts, will you argue that I should choose white shirts instead? Of course not. And yet relativists want us to believe that a college student who feels intense guilt for hooking up with someone the previous night should feel no more guilty than if she had begun to second guess her choice of dessert.

Regret sleeping with someone? Don’t worry about it. There’s nothing wrong with that. But wait, isn’t that imposing your values on someone? If someone feels guilty for casual sex or for choosing apple pie over chocolate cake, isn’t that their choice? How could a relativist suggest anyone’s morality is misinformed on any point?

And there you have the theory’s incoherence. Even common sense questions about morality cannot be asked because relativism’s only criteria is what appeals to you? Do you prefer cookies to crackers? Achievement to dependency? Abuse to love? Whatever.

But as the writers of Superman appear to know instinctively, when you see evil, you must fight it, especially if you’re a super. You must impose your understanding of goodness on those who choose evil, even if you couldn’t support that understanding with words on the previous page. Life actually is precious; justice is a real thing.

Superman used to know such things.

A Completely New Super-Man

Writer and artist Gene Luen Yang is telling a new Superman story under D.C. Comics Rebirth banner. A Chinese boy from Shanghai, named Kong Kenan, is chosen by the right people to receive abilities equivalent to the Man of Steel. He begins as a bully but plays the hero at the right time to attract someone’s attention and change his life forever.

Blaine Grimes of Christ and Pop Culture thinks it works.

With New Super-Man, Yang sets up a narrative that directly confronts and subverts the traditional American superhero origin story. The dominant arc in comic book narratives—be it books or films—suggests that superheroes typically start from a position of basic goodness (or at least innocence) before they are imbued with fantastic powers or take up the mantle of public defender. . . .

But New Super-Man gives us a space, a not-so-fictional-universe in which damaged, wounded, and prideful outcasts are given both a new identity and a call to push back against the very darkness and injustice out of which they were redeemed.

The Best and Worst Batman

Peter Suderman explains how Frank Miller created the best version of Batman and also the worst.

The influence of Miller’s Dark Knight, however, extends far beyond this one movie. The four-issue comic permanently redefined the character of Batman, and is arguably responsible for making him the pop culture sensation he is today. Today’s Batman, from Christopher Nolan’s austere Dark Knight to the gothic hero of Scott Snyder’s contemporary Batman comics, is inseparable from Miller’s vision of Batman and, in some sense, from Miller himself.

But in the years since Dark Knight, Miller has continued to work with both the character and the brooding sensibility, with increasingly unpleasant results. And in the process, he has squandered much of what made the original so great. Miller gave us the best Batman — and the worst one, too.

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Critic Steven Greydanus says on Twitter this article aptly describes what he calls the Frank Miller worldview, “a nightmare world of antiheroes, brutal villains, whores, femmes fatales, sickening violence—lots of visual impact, no human interest.”

“Miller’s rather pathetic Superman was a logical extension of Miller’s Dark Knight universe—the right Superman for that Batman’s story.”

As Suderman says it, “Miller positions Superman as Batman’s true rival, a polite water carrier for ineffectual elites and authority figures, a symbol of weakness and civil decline to which Batman provides the antidote.” An antidote that feels as bad as the sickness.

I hope we see a new, hope-filled Superman, a Captain America-style Superman, by the end of this decade. Maybe we’ll see that in Wonder Woman.