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Author Topic: If Rorschach is crazy, then so is Superman (and Batman)  (Read 11061 times)
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Aldous
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« on: December 02, 2006, 05:48:21 AM »

I don't think it's merely the fantasy of super-power that draws people to the comic book super-heroes. There are other elements involved, and one of them must be what I would loosely call "vigilantism". Taking the law into your own hands to defend someone, avenge someone, or challenge the system is a powerful fantasy, and all the super-types do it. It's merely a matter of degree.

Most super-types think they are doing the right thing. Batman is just as convinced about his mission as Rorschach is. Despite several latter-day versions of Superman where he cries a lot into his mother's apron, the Man of Steel is just as determined as The Punisher. Who has decided how each one should go about righting those perceived wrongs? Each one has ultimately decided for himself. The only real difference between Batman and Rorschach is the number of people who approve of their actions. You would have to dig a bit deeper to find fans of Rorschach, but no doubt they're there. Superman has probably the biggest approval rating amongst members of the public, but since when did having the biggest public approval mean you are automatically right? Or, to put it another way, does public disapproval automatically mean you're wrong?

Superman and Batman perceive a need for their services and then go out and take care of business. Rorschach and The Punisher do the same. The only difference between them is Superman and Batman have the approval of more people.

Because they all think they're right, and because they all act outside the law (no matter the degree), they're all just as crazy as each other. A vigilante is a vigilante.
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2006, 06:00:10 PM »

It is not a popularity contest it is the fact that those two murder people and Superman and Batman do not.

Making a citizen's arrest is legal, gunning anyone down in cold blood is not.



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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2006, 09:34:45 PM »

It is not a popularity contest it is the fact that those two murder people and Superman and Batman do not.

Making a citizen's arrest is legal, gunning anyone down in cold blood is not.

I wasn't thinking about their methods at all, and that was part of the point I was making. I was thinking about the state of mind of someone who goes out looking for other people breaking the law, then uses physical force to subdue them. On occasion, they all go looking for someone who hasn't broken any laws at all, but some personally subjective idea of what constitutes correct behaviour.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2006, 03:39:42 AM »

Interestingly, there may be a very interesting comparison here with Golden Age Superman and Rorshach. Superman often used intimidation and interrogation tactics on underworld informants that Rorshach could never dream of. Likewise, Superman was viewed as a public menace and hounded by police, especially on the radio version.

But there is one big difference between Golden Age Superman and Rorshach: if GA Superman saved me, I'd feel safe. If Rorshach saved me, I'd be just as scared of him than whatever he saved me from, and pray to God he doesn't notice my three day expired Driver's Liscense or the Playboy magazine I've got in my bachelor apartment. Golden Age Superman slapped around gangsters and mad scientists, and he was the kind of guy you don't mess around with, but unless you're a bad guy he's got no problem with you. Rorshach is more like a wild dog: he can turn on anybody. Being around Rorshach is hazardous to your health.

I'd have to say Roschach is pretty crazy in a way Superman and Batman are not. For one thing, there's his abnormal, psychosexual anxieties about women, and then there's his paranoia.

You are correct when you say Roschach, Superman and Batman are at their core men that operate outside the law - though perhaps a more accurate way to put it is "without official legal sanction." Superman has an S-Shield, not a badge. However,  Rorry's Manichean way of looking at things is frightening and something Superman and Batman don't have. I can hardly see Superman hassling a man because of his peach pit cancer medication.

Likewise, Superman and Batman are characters that pride themselves on the fact they have a working relationship with official law and order. It was a deliberate and very unusual situation when Batman was forced to run and hide from cops when Ra's al-Ghul framed Batman for murder during Len Wein's tenure on DETECTIVE, or when the Tobacconists Club got a cease-and-desist letter against the Caped Crusader. Even THEN, Batman was working with public approval, if not police approval. Superman, likewise, is someone that very much believes in the sanctity of law. He won't use the fact there are a few bad laws to disobey them all.

And that, fundamentally, is the difference between Rorshach and Superman. Both are uncompromising types and tough guys that play by their own rules. If Superman doesn't like the parameters of a situation, he kicks the game away and plays his own. But at the same time, there are certain things Superman won't do even if he thinks he's in the right.
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« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2006, 01:01:47 AM »

In the Silver and Bronze Ages, Superman and Batman WERE deputized agents of the law.  I'm not positive, but I THINK they both were in the Golden Age, too, and Superman is in the Modern Age. 

So, that makes what Superman does legal, doesn't it? 
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« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2006, 01:44:55 AM »

Not if you think about all of the laws Superman (and Batman) break in the course of a regular adventure.  Illegal search and seizure, surveillance/privacy violations, trespassing, Miranda violations, kidnapping, assault, assault with deadly weapon, uttering threats, etc etc.  And don't forget that wearing a mask when you commit a crime is another crime.
 Smiley

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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2006, 03:09:00 AM »

Not if you think about all of the laws Superman (and Batman) break in the course of a regular adventure.  Illegal search and seizure, surveillance/privacy violations, trespassing, Miranda violations, kidnapping, assault, assault with deadly weapon, uttering threats, etc etc.  And don't forget that wearing a mask when you commit a crime is another crime.
 Smiley



not true for Superman:

http://superman.nu/wiki/index.php/Superman#The_Relationship_with_the_Law-Enforcement_Establishment
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« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2006, 01:33:52 AM »

I have always interpreted that as meaning Superman is deputized.  That is not the same as saying he is exempt from the same restrictions (beyond jurisdiction) that other law enforcement officials are subject to.  Thus, he can apprehend criminals just like a regular beat cop of FBI agent, but every time he uses his x-ray vision without a warrant or scares someone into confessing a crime or gets a confession without reading the criminal his or her rights he is exceeding his authority and acting like a vigilante.
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