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Author Topic: What's so friggin' GREAT about World War II, anyway?  (Read 29339 times)
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Kurt Busiek
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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2005, 04:52:17 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
This was especially eggregious in the IMPACT line's introduction of the Red Hood: a vigilante completely like every other heat-packing lifetime NRA member "hero" in every way to the point that there was essentially no difference between him and the other characters of this type.


I'm guessing you mean the Black Hood.

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SOMEBODY had to buy PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL because they kept on printing the dreadful things, but everybody denies that they did now


I bought 'em, on occasion -- anytime Chuck Dixon and John Romita Jr. are doing tough-guy comics, they're worth having.  Or if Joe Kubert's drawing any sort of exotic-locale adventure stories.  I expect it isn't that people used to buy them but now deny it, but that the people you talk to these days weren't the crowd that bought them in the first place.

Heck, I buy the Ennis PUNISHER now, in TPB form.  I have no problem with the Punisher -- the obsessed lethal vigilante's a workable concept, whether it's Bronson in DEATH WISH, Mack Bolan in THE EXECUTIONER novels, or the army of imitators that followed.  [The Lone Wolf novels, written by Barry Malzberg under a pseudonym I don't recall at the moment, were particularly good, and not just because he took the concept to its logical conclusion, with the lead character getting crazier and crazier until his friends had to gun him down in the street like a dog.]

My general problem with the Punisher (and Wolverine) isn't that they're bad characters, but that other characters tend to be badly-written around them.  Any scene where Spider-Man works alongside the Punisher, shakes his hand and swings away, is a bad scene -- but it's bad because it violates Spider-Man's character, not the Punisher's.  Spidey knows the Punisher's gonna go off and kill someone else's uncle (or father, or brother, or entire family), which is exactly what Spider-Man puts on the costume to prevent.  There's no way Spider-Man would let him go.

Same with Wolverine -- it's fair to put him on the X-Men to help him learn to be more than a feral animal.  It's fair for him to be driven to act like a feral animal.  It's wrong for Cyclops to tolerate it.

Both the Punisher and Wolverine are fine characters -- and, ironically, good examples of characters who came out of something other than the Golden-Age-spawned idea of what a superhero "should" be.  It's when other characters treat them as if they're conventional superheroes that the stories go off the rails.

kdb
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Captain Kal
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2005, 06:38:42 PM »

Absolutely agreed.

It's the same discordant quality of having Superman -- literally! -- shake hands with that psycho Lobo as if they're pals in an issue of MOS.  It completely violates Superman's character to do that.
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Captain Kal

"When you lose, don't lose the lesson."
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2005, 07:37:19 PM »

Quote from: "Permanus"
Yep, you're quite right there! Much as I've rather been enjoying Marvel's Supreme Power series, it's actually just Superman, the Flash, Batman, the Green Lantern and Aquaman in a different setting. Oh, and Wonder Woman off her trolley. Maybe there isn't that much more you can do with the genre.


I've mulled long and hard over the morality of a comic like SUPREME which creates worlds by taking the formula created by other comics and following them to the letter, just plugging new numbers in it; a giant Orchid that's the catalyst for the formation of a great superteam instead of a giant starfish, and so forth. I *love* SUPREME; it was wildly imaginative and FUNNY (Alan Moore could be a stand up comedian if he wasn't so publicity shy). It feels sort of like those people that download music: yeah, it's wrong, but hey! Free music! I suppose one can perform the "paint by the numbers" approach to superhero worldbuilding if - and only IF - no distinctive, unmistakeable concepts are directly lifted, if concepts that are JUST AS INTERESTING are put in their place to replace them. It is true that the Fisherman is clearly based on the blueprint of Green Arrow, however, it is not plagiarism because the Fisherman's concept (involving fishing puns, flyfishing, and net gadgets) is distinctive and interesting enough to stand on its own.

To an extent, all the Silver Age DC heroes are based on formula: Lois Lane equivalent girlfriend (one neatly handed out to each hero), "authority figure" profession in secret identity, kid sidekick, etc. Nonetheless, they manage to be distinctive to one another.

Quote from: "Kurt Busiek"
I bought 'em, on occasion -- anytime Chuck Dixon and John Romita Jr. are doing tough-guy comics, they're worth having. Or if Joe Kubert's drawing any sort of exotic-locale adventure stories. I expect it isn't that people used to buy them but now deny it, but that the people you talk to these days weren't the crowd that bought them in the first place.

Heck, I buy the Ennis PUNISHER now, in TPB form. I have no problem with the Punisher -- the obsessed lethal vigilante's a workable concept, whether it's Bronson in DEATH WISH, Mack Bolan in THE EXECUTIONER novels, or the army of imitators that followed. [The Lone Wolf novels, written by Barry Malzberg under a pseudonym I don't recall at the moment, were particularly good, and not just because he took the concept to its logical conclusion, with the lead character getting crazier and crazier until his friends had to gun him down in the street like a dog.]


It's as true of comics as it is true of media: it's possible to be annoyed by someone that's overexposed. A backlash against MC Hammer was inevitable when commercials for his dolls were shown on his Saturday Morning cartoon.

The reason the Punisher gets under my skin is threefold:

1) He was a big deal at the time and his comics oversaturated everything. The same is true of the X-books, however, the X-Men fit in better in the context of the Marvel Universe. Wasn't there a Punisher annual that he fought in the Evolutionary War? The Punisher doesn't fight in Evolutionary Wars.

2) Political. Not to get too deeply into my own views, but sufficed to say, what the Punisher - NOT a progressive figure - represents: immediate personal satisfaction through violence, the macho aggressive vibe...it disturbs me. Mr. Busiek, you're supposed to (by all accounts) be a person on the progressive side of things; how do you reconcile your liberal political convictions with liking the Punisher?

3) The Punisher were pointed to as an example of a "new" variety of character, to cast into irrelevancy the established Silver Age characters we love. Perhaps the Punisher wouldn't rankle me quite as much if his book was published and bought by its own audience, if it wasn't for the fans (and creators) who pointed to the Punisher confrontationally as being, instead of being a distinctive character type (one that, admittedly, has potential) but as being "the next step in superhero evolution."
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
Captain Kal
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« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2005, 08:00:16 PM »

Maybe it's like how you like the Stainless Steel Rat, Julian.

You might not like the person in the real world if you met him, but you're entertained by him in a fictional novel.

I, personally, have a moral and ethical aversion to the likes of the Punisher, Wolverine, and Lobo (who originally was DC's jab at the other two -- until DC got cash crazed over how Lobo sold).  But I can't in all honesty say they don't have their own creative place in the sun or they're completely without merit.  I just wish the industry had something more positive to say esp. to kids.
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Captain Kal

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Kurt Busiek
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« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2005, 08:32:07 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
Not to get too deeply into my own views, but sufficed to say, what the Punisher - NOT a progressive figure - represents: immediate personal satisfaction through violence, the macho aggressive vibe...it disturbs me. Mr. Busiek, you're supposed to (by all accounts) be a person on the progressive side of things; how do you reconcile your liberal political convictions with liking the Punisher?


Simple.  I don't have to agree with characters to find them interesting.

In the real world, I would be vehemently opposed to someone dressing up as a bat and beating the hell out of people he claimed were criminals.  I'd think it was a massive, massive, unforgivable ethical conflict to write newspaper stories reporting on yourself, let alone not disclosing that you were, in fact, the guy flying around in the red cape.  I think Middle-Earth would be better off with a democracy rather than the kind of leader-worship that results in guys like Saruman getting so much slack and so little oversight, so while Aragorn is a nice guy, putting him on the throne merely perpetuates an unhealthy system.  And I can't say I have a problem with rabbits being killed, skinned and eaten.

But I like good Batman stories, good Superman stories, LORD OF THE RINGS and WATERSHIP DOWN just fine.

I'm a huge fan of Donald E. Westlake's Parker novels (written under the name "Richard Stark"), and Parker's a professional thief who kills people left and right.  What makes it fun is that the plots of the novels inevitably involve him clashing with someone who's worse than he is and who deserves to be dealt with harshly.  If they were about him robbing the pension fund, it wouldn't be much fun.

But I can read all kinds of stuff that doesn't share my politics.  Heck, I can write CONAN without being in favor of casual violence or beheading people who disagree with you.  Chuck Dixon's a conservative, but he can write Green Arrow pretty darn well.  

I'd hate to read (or write) only stories about characters I agree with or approve of.

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Kurt Busiek
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« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2005, 08:34:33 PM »

Quote from: "Captain Kal"
Maybe it's like how you like the Stainless Steel Rat, Julian.


Slippery Jim diGriz!

Great example.  A terrific character to read about, but if he really existed, you'd want him locked the hell up.  Or at the very least, not near you or yours.

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Permanus
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« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2005, 08:34:07 AM »

Oh my God! I just realised you actually are Kurt Busiek!
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2005, 07:20:47 AM »

A character can behave badly and still be accepted as a protagonist as long as they're likeable. The Stainless Steel Rat may be a crook, but he's got personality. People cry at the end of BONNIE AND CLYDE because Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are so good looking and charismatic.

I don't dislike the Punisher because I disapprove of his behavior. I dislike the Punisher because the primitive, macho vibe of his stories turns me off. This also is true of Hawkeye, however, Hawkeye has a much more interesting and complicated characterization, picking fights out of insecurity and agitation. Hawkeye is likeable because there's just more TO him than that.

This does bring up an interesting point, however: is it possible that there are some character traits that in and of themselves, make any character that possesses it unable to be accepted as a protagonist? I would not want to read about an anti-semite, for example, no matter how good looking and charismatic they are. Ditto for an abuser of children or women. It is for this reason that every single AVENGERS writer since Shooter has had to play "damage control" on the character of Hank Pym after Shooter made him, in a lapse of his established characterization, strike his wife. And nobody (except the Japanese) has done a rapist hero.
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
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