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So I have been reading the Birds of Prey comics for the last week or so, and I've been really enjoying them, more than I was expecting to. I'm kind of surprised by the fact that so many of these DC heroes are, well, without powers. I kind of assumed that the super part of a superhero required one to have powers. (Or X-tra power, as Professor Xavier would say). I don't think I'm even aware of a Marvel hero without superpowers.

Also surprised that the level of heroic morality seems to be archaic to me. It makes me think of the very early X-men comics I read that made me want to pull out my hair. There was a scene where the Hellfire club tried to kill all of the X-men, and the X-men took them all out with the exception of Emma Frost. Storm had to be stopped from killing Emma, and Emma told them all that she was going to come kill them all at a future date as soon as she was done building the club again. And then they all just stood there and let her walk out, and I could not figure out why in the hell would they let her go. Because they're heroes, that's why!!! And then there was the scene where Wolverine actually stabbed Rachel to keep her from sullying the name of heroes everywhere by killing the very evil Selene.

Angel once said something to Connor that I kind of see as the code of Heroic Morality. He said: "It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be." And, I think, that that's the same morality the heroes of DC comics (and Marvel comics to a lesser degree) are working from. And it's admirable, really. But, you know what? It should matter whether they make a difference or not. Heroism shouldn't be about being all holier-than-thou and proving to the world that you're better than them. It should be, first and foremost, about making a difference. Because these heroes live as if the world were an ideal place, they neglect the real problems. There's a level of delusion that goes into their morality that allows them to let the Hellfire Club (or Cassandra Nova) walk away.

I think that the X-men comics, at least, have gotten away from this a little. Which I really enjoy. I think that Grant Morrison is largely responsible for bringing this bit of realism to the X-men comics and getting the heroes away from their delusions of a perfect world. Kitty might hate it, but I love Emma’s random suggestions to kill people once in a while. Not that I think that they should kill everyone evil, but as Emma said about Cassandra Nova: "There are some things you just shouldn’t be allowed to get away with." And, yeah.

I know that a lot of people dislike Emma (and Huntress, who is not nearly as hardcore as Emma Frost, in the DC comics from what I’ve read) because of this gray morality. But I think that people like Emma are what allow people like Batman and Scott Summers to be heroic and hold on to their sense of morality. It’s because people like Emma are willing to do the dirty work for the heroic community that they can pretend to be high and mighty with their refusal to kill evil, evil villains who continue to kill. And, of course, in return these people get shunned by the heroic community. This attitude is also carried over to the fandom where most people just don’t understand how anyone can like Emma when she’s such an evil, evil bitch.

While skimming through Alan Moore’s "The Killing Joke," I was baffled by Jim Gordon demanding that Batman bring Joker back to him unharmed to put in jail so they could show him that the LAW still works. This psycho just shot his daughter, and he is worried about showing him up. Yeah, that kind of morality is just beyond me. In the real world, I can admire this. In fiction, for me, it often makes for boring, stoic heroes that I just don’t understand.

And:



Birds of Prey review: issues 56-75.

As I suspected I would, I like Huntress the best. I just can't resist mentally/emotionally unstable dark characters. And in comics, I enjoy characters with a sense of moral ambiguity. What did surprise me is that I'm really enjoying the other characters, too. I have a tendency to pick a character to like and then ignore everyone else.

I especially like Barbara Gordon and would definitely be interested in more of her back story. So if anyone has any recs, do share. She reminds me a bit of Jessica Jones almost, but with a very different personality.

Black Canary is also fun. I'm not really interested in her back story or in her alone as a character, but I really enjoy seeing her interact with the other two. She is a lighter personality than Helena or Barbara.

The plots are mostly fun, if a bit slow at times. I definitely like them better when we're not dealing with the random evil of the week and actually get a backstory on the evil guy. I'm *really* enjoying the "Hunt for Heroes" arc.

And more than anything else, I enjoy seeing the women interact with each other. Canon literature (and as a result much of comics and TV) is so very devoid of positive relationships between women that I have come to really appreciate what little we can get. But this series is filled with it, which I really enjoy.

Date: 2006-10-19 03:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lux-apollo.livejournal.com
I totally disagree with your take on the ambiguous morality of Civil War. Morality and politics are interdependent entities; one influences the other.

Something moral can become political; that's when it's taken into the public arena, like the Civil War. The morals I'm talking about aren't the specifics of 'what side is right' so much as what they are doing as an act of supporting their side.

The slaughter, the collateral damage, the unwillingness to find a solution amidst the mess other than the solution that each individual has decided is 'right'.

And both Iron Man and Captain America have made decisions based on their morals, and made these decisions political by leading their causes. Iron Man values accountability over freedom, and Captain America vice-versa.

Iron Man thinks he can save lives, his moral impetus, by making everyone accountable. He also has the secondary moral stance that the law is immutable and must be followed no matter how wrong it is. Captain America thinks that lives will be lost and injustice done if all heroes are made slaves of the government. He is also taking a second stance that when the law is wrong, you stand up and do something about it (which Americans proudly tote around on their one-page constitution as the right to bear arms; the founding fathers' intended protection of the people against governmental opression).

They both have a clear moral position: they value human lives and justice, and want to save lives and see justice done to those who abuse their rights and the rights of others by taking a stand.

Morals and values are similar constructs; morals just have the additional paradigm of good/evil alignments. Politics is something else entirely; it has to do with societal morals and values and how society wants itself constructed. Furthermore, someone's politics and their morals can be very, very different things.

There are many people who may be judged as 'evil' who's moral code and their political code are very different things.

One of the most interesting political things I find in Civil War is how the pro-registration side can justify imprisoning people off US soil without any form of trial. This is a clear parallel to Guantanamo Bay, and other such US internment facilities abroad.

Anyway... This is a huge reply, and if you wish to continue this conversation, we should do it elsewhere so as to not disrupt things in [livejournal.com profile] prozakpark's journal.

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