Monday, June 12, 2006

On Hope

Marvel versus DC. The debate rages on (in spite of any efforts to the contrary.) And, again, in a DC-dominated comics blogosphere, I feel the foolish need to reassess why Marvel appeals to me. It's probably so much bullshit, but I think... I think this is why. At least, it is today.

It's about hope. Not the hope of the civilian on the ground cheering on the hero who's flying in to save the day for the umpteenth time, ogling (depending on your tastes) Green Lantern or Power Girl. You know, the "It's a bird, it's a plane" civilian. That can be fun and all, but... it seems like that's DC hope.

I tend to prefer Marvel-style hope. The hope that the world will go on, that things will go back to the way they were before Tony Stark unmasked (for the umpteenth time, I hear), before Hawkeye sort of died, before the New Warriors screwed up.* I don't want to be a civilian on the ground admiring iconic greatness; I want to get inside the heroes' heads and hearts, into their hopes: that they will live to fight another day; that their lost friends will return; that the civilians will let them do their jobs; and that Damage Control will clean up afterwards.

DC hope versus Marvel hope. It's the hope of the sanctimonious mayoral millionaire archer versus the hope of the archer who rose from a life of poverty and petty thievery to earn his status.

It's the hope of the god-gifted Amazon princess that she can live up to the works of her predecessor versus the hope of the woman warrior that she can simply be good enough to protect her people.

It's the hope for utopia versus the hope for survival. The hope that the multiverse will endure without shattering.

It's a hope for the underdog we know will win.

Yes. That kind of hope.

*Yes, I have been reading '80s reprints and back issues. Why do you ask?


Cole Moore Odell said...

Have you read Busiek's JLA/Avengers? Much of it is concerned with the difference in tone and expectation between Marvel and DC that you describe here. The Avengers see the DCU and assume at first that the JLA are fascist dictators (in part because they seem just like the Squadron Sinister, Marvel's villainous JLA clones)--and they also express some jealosy that people in the DCU admire their hereos so much.

For their part, the JLA initially interprets the fundamental suspicion that people in the Marvel Universe have for their heroes as evidence that the Marvel heroes are incompetent.

Canton said...

I have, actually. It was the first time I'd ever really felt for Captain America. Superman really didn't resonate as much. Instead of expressing the wish to help a world in need, he just decided to be a self-rightous jerk about it. Cap's reaction to DC's world, however, was one of instinctive distrust, and that's a little more familiar.

Cole Moore Odell said...

I thought Superman was being externally affected somehow by the new reality, making him act volatile, out of character.

Canton said...

Probably. He still came off as a jerk, though, whatever the reason.