Friday, February 05, 2010

Make Mine Marvelaaaaugh!

Just like the Marvel Comics I grew up with:
From Siege #2, available at your favorite abattoir.

I once ran a roleplaying campaign that had this level of violence. It was a superhero-style campaign with adult themes. In the world that I created, there were no pre-existing superheroes. The meta-theme that I used for the heroes was that they wore the same costumes as comic book heroes so that the public would not be as frightened of them as they should be. After all, comic books were just for kids, right? The characters were mature, but very pragmatic in the treatment of their enemies. There was no superprison available to contain the extremely powerful criminals and some of them were quite horrible. Imagine a Hannibal Lecter-type serial killer, only with powers that make a straitjacket as effective as wearing tissue paper. In a setting such as that, it would be understandable to see someone in tights and a cape tearing someone in half.

In the Marvel Universe, it just seems incongruous to me to see someone clad in what is more or less a variation of Superman's costume, bathed in the blood of another humanoid being, while his victim's intestines literally spill out on-panel. At this point, let's abandon the costumes. They're not superheroes. There's no reason they should dress as superheroes. In a setting like this, there's certainly no purpose for them to wear the costumes. Masks to hide their identities would be appropriate, because I wouldn't want to show my face if I behaved that way.

3 comments:

edige23 said...

Yes, I've got to admit I've finally hit the wall. Between this and the Blackest Night cr*p over at DC I think I've had it. The whole "Golden Age" thing they have said they're moving to next is a good idea, but too little, too late. And more than anything it points back at the earlier problems. Plus, how much longer before we turn the wheel back and again have this bloody-minded approach to superheroes. Dark Knight made a lot of money, and now we're going to see a "darker" Spiderman movie next.

Just tired of it. And this coming from a guy with a pretty high tolerance for this stuff.

Michael O'Connell said...

Devil's Advocate Comment #2: The character of "The Sentry" has been involved in a long-term arc that's finally come to fruition. His sanity has been shown to be more and more...well, missing...as we've found out more and more evidence that we never really knew him at all. He's been working with Osborne as one of his enforcers, starting off mostly heroic, but then getting further and further down the path of doing dirty work...and watching the last of his sanity slip away, as questions have quietly been raised amongst the Osborne gang about what happens if the most powerful being on Earth loses it and goes bat guano.

Now we know.

This is not a super-hero we're seeing. The Sentry turned into a villain before this, fighting against the good guys. This is a former hero turned crazy villain, something everyone reading Marvel comics these days knows (and has been waiting to see the outcome of). This two-page spread is that moment happening, that question being answered - the Sentry is completely evil now, and just ripped a god in half (for the record, by the way, the one who got ripped in half was a hero...this was not a hero-kills-villain thing, but the other way around). This shot taken out of context can suggest, "This is how Marvel heroes handle the bad guys" and "Hey, kids, it's okay to rip your enemies into pieces."

That's not what happened here. We don't need Sentry for that.

We have WOLVERINE for that sort of thing, thank you.

Just saying, the "this is not how heroes act" part of what you're saying is correct, of course, but doesn't pertain to this situation in that way. Now, as for the seemingly endless escalation of graphic violence, from both of the big two? Oh, yeah. Out of control, ridiculous, almost comical. You've got bodies being torn in half here, you've got hearts being ripped out of chests by rotting zombie corpses over at DC, and you don't even want to KNOW what went down in Marvel's Ultimate line with their big "Ultimatum" event (assuming you didn't hear about that already).

Unfortunately, there may be no turning back from it. Once an escalation begins (as this one has been for years), it's not easy to turn it around. It's the times we live in, too, and where entertainment's gone. Videogames are splatter-fests. "Torture porn" films are garnering franchises. The comic stuff isn't happening in a vacuum. While it's not the whole problem, though, it's certainly part of the problem. Definitely not part of the solution.

Good news: the Iron Man movie wasn't really dark, it made loads of cash, the sequel looks to be more of the same, and it's setting a good tone for more adventurous, and less "grrrrr!", super-hero movies. Hopefully this, Cap, Thor and the Avengers movies will set a big box office fire that the comics will feel obligated to mirror. We'll see.

I'll miss Ares. He was a swell character. (sniff). But, hey, it's comics. I'm sure he'll be alive again in a few months...

Jim McClain said...

Mike, it's great that this is the culmination of a long storyline. What's not great is that a guy in yellow tights that no adult would ever wear is tearing someone in half, splaying intestines everywhere. It doesn't work. If this is the future path of Marvel and DC mainstream comics, fine. Then have them take off the colorful costumes and dress like the extremely violent adults they appear to be. Comics don't have to be for kids. Superheroes do. At least, that's how I see it. I want my daughter to be able to read a Marvel or DC comic when she's old enough. I just don't want "old enough" to mean 18 years old.