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Author Topic: Superman = Namor?  (Read 13316 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: June 02, 2007, 09:07:41 AM »

It occurs to me just WHY characters like Superman and the Sub-Mariner, at least to me, provoke unusually strong signs of identification....and also why it is important to keep them alive even when they are temporarily dead (either creatively or literally)...and then revive them as soon as possible.

They're both great, complicated characters in their own right, but it's more than that. They're symbolic.

Namor's 1940s girlfriend, Betty Dean Prentiss, put it best in an issue of SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP: "Namor's kind of a symbol to me. A man alone taking on a world that is so often cruel and sometimes - sometimes - winning."

Superman on the other hand, is a little harder to summarize in a single sentence like that. He's symbolic of the sheer can-do ability to do anything, brains and pluck and power and whatnot.

Lots of people look to Superman as a model of absolute moral perfection, like the Catholic Saints...and while Superman is an idealist and incorruptible, I'm not as certain of the absolute unshakable importance of this as others are. If I had to pick, it's more important for Superman to be INTELLIGENT than to be Mother Teresa.

People gripe about Superman's execution of the Phantom Zoners, to the point where the recent continuity thread doubts if it is still in play  Doesn't it seem like the first thing that would get the axe, after all? Considering the recent story arcs involving the Zoners by Johns and Donner that seem to suggest a different Zone entirely? Lots of people, even fans of Byrne and Wolfman, don't like this story.

What's more, I've seen this story defended, but I've never seen anyone say they LIKE it.

Don't get me wrong, I object to the specific circumstances surrounding the PZers death (their deaths at Superman's hands were pretty gutless: they had lost their powers and were essentially at Superman's mercy), but the whole idea that if Superman has ONE death on his hands he's somehow "ruined" forever is aggrivating. It reminds me of certain Arab and African cultures with their obsessive fixation on female virginity.

For me, it's not as important to have Superman's be absolutely squeaky-clean all the time, as it is to have Superman be intelligent. I can live with a bad writer having Superman kill two decades ago, but Superman being just another muscleman in the here and now is non-negotiable for me.

Superman just throwing a punch is a failure of the imagination; that's not how Superman does things. He does stuff like deflect a hail of bullets by plucking one bullet and then throwing it at the others in just such a way that it causes all of them to ricochet away harmlessly. Or finding the one person in a football stadium that's a bomber by listening to everybody's heartbeat and finding the one irregular, anxious one.

In fact, the idea of Superman being this almost unreal paragon of goodness is frankly, untrue: Superman can and does LIE. Not just for little things like preserving his secret identity, but also for creating elaborate charades that defeat villains. In other words, of the two characteristics, Big Blue's brains win out over his honesty every time.

Speaking of Namor, does anyone else think Namor looks like you imagine those Michael Moorcock non-human races? The ones that are always described as looking human, yet at the same time have some quality that means they're always identifiable? Prince Corum's Vadhagh, Elric's "part-demon" Melniboneans. There was a cryptic hint in one of the John Daker/Erkose books (the name escapes me, but it's the one with the Erkose/1930s Von Bek team-up) that the reason these races are so similar is because they are the same race, scattered over the Multiverse just as humans are scattered.

Maybe Homo Mermanus is a particularly unusual branch on Marvel-Earth's dimension. It is true many Moorcock races have a connection to the sea: Melniboneans are master ship-builders (note that King Straasha is the only elemental Elric could call without a ritual), and Erkose's Ghost Women live entirely at sea and on ships. A water-breathing variation isn't unlikely. Also, Marvel-Earth IS a part of the Moorcock Multiverse: remember the John Buscema Conan/Elric team-up? It established there was a Melnibonean tomb on Marvel-Earth during the Hyborian Age.

What someone like Elric would make of Marvel-Earth exclusive features that are distinctly Moorcockian in flavor like the Celestial Madonna, Dormammu, and the Bloodstone family, is anyone's guess.
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Permanus
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2007, 01:22:10 PM »

Pom pom pom pom pom [pensive sound: I've given up smoking, so I have to make noises like this now when I want to indicate that I'm thinking]. Julian, with all due respect, don't you think you're falling into the rather trite argument that Superman is the Big Blue Boyscout and is therefore a bit boring?

In some ways I agree with you, because if I wrote Superman and had complete editorial control, I'd probably make him take a stand more often: I'd have him block the paths of loggers in the Amazon and fly off to Eastern Europe to allow Gay Pride marches to pass unmolested and all sorts of stuff like that, because I'm a card-carrying1, lily-livered liberal (indeed a Socialist, and yeah, I wrote that with a capital "S" just like Kal-El sports). In other words, I'd have him be a bit more interventionist than he is now. Where I think your argument falls short, though - if I've understood it correctly - is that since Namor is willing to do pretty much anything in order to get his point across, including killing, he is somehow morally superior. I'd like to take issue with that, because the whole point of Superman's code against killing is that he's so powerful, he doesn't even have to kill you.

It seems to me that the Sub-Mariner is the superhero equivalent of the guy who pulls a gun on you "Cos you didn't show respect, man, knowuhmsayin'?" when you accidentally stepped on his foot while getting on the bus. Hot-headed and violent, he's probably more than a little insecure; true, he's trying to make the world a better place, but he's doing so in an arbitrary and ultimately fascist way, by forcing events. Superman, by contrast, is entirely confident in his powers, and understands what they mean: nobody can hurt him, so what need has he of pre-emptive strikes?

Of course you're entirely right about Superman being a bit of a liar: in fact, he lies quite a lot, even more than I did when I actually had a day job and had to account for my whereabouts. However, apart from that minor2 character flaw, the guy is, to use your phrase, squeaky-clean, and there's also a perfectly good reason for that: yes, Superman is incorruptible; yes, Superman prefers non-violent solutions; yes, he's a paragon of virtue. I don't really see those facets of his personality as limiting, but rather as a natural outcropping of being who he is: of course he's incorruptible, what the bell3 are you going to bribe him with? He's got everything anyone could want. And since he's the man who has everything (as Alan Moore once termed him), he has no use for violence or malice: He's at peace.

The point I'm laboriously trying to make is that, like you, Julian, I want a Superman who is intelligent above all; however, I don't see how that should conflict with his morals. In fact, I suppose you're saying that you can either be smart or Mother Teresa; I'm saying that if you're smart, you are Mother Teresa (apart from all the contentious religious stuff, okay?), especially if you're Superman: there's no great effort to being virtuous when you can do what he does.

Namor, on the other hand, is a guy who lives underwater and has a bad temper; if he stopped to think of the ramifications of his powers, well, he'd become a regular Jimmy Stewart.

1 I don't really carry a card.
2 Lots of people do it, like bigamists and drug barons, it's no biggie.
3 Again with the aitch ee ell ell thing.
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JulianPerez
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2007, 11:19:38 PM »

Quote from: Permanus
I don't really see those facets of his personality as limiting

I never said they were.

But you said before that some people that think Superman is boring because he's a big boy scout. Most of the time, that can be used to drive stories forward and make Superman a more interesting character. For instance, he wouldn't sacrifice a child to save a country.

But those that make that argument are RIGHT: there are ways that this personality trait CAN be used to make Superman unlikable and remote.

The most irritating example of this I can think of off the top of my head is Waid's KINGDOM COME, a future where the Joker has killed the one woman Superman loves. But here comes a violent, results-oriented hero that whacks the Joker in retaliation.

So....Superman puts Magog on trial?

Waid's intention may have been to make Superman look saintly here, but it ultimately makes Superman look alien. Responding this way to the death of one's true love is downright inhuman. Yes, true, we didn't see this from Superman's point of view so maybe there's more to the story, but the end result is Superman comes off scary, as a fanatic...no different from people that turn in family members or lovers to totalitarian regimes, because they value "rules" more than a profound human connection like love or family.

The bottom line is, Superman being "virtous" can be used to make him creepy in the hands of a bad writer, or a writer having an off-day, if its all about certain "rules" Superman never breaks.

But Superman being smart and clever and tricking enemies? That's ALWAYS fun to watch.

Also, I don't think that's entirely fair. Superman's "Abe Lincoln" humanitarianism is a part of who he is, certainly, but it is emphasized far more often as being Superman's most important attribute as a heroic character by many writers...when really its his intelligence that's the more important and defining factor in defining not just how Superman behaves, but his modus operandi as a superhero.

Consider: read a Superman comic, and its attributes are far different than any other comic in plot: it's all about the exileration of Superman doing some fantastic deed (we KNOW he's going to save the falling plane or whatever, what's clever is HOW, what weird stunt Supes comes up with), as well as his clever plan to overcome what seems like an insurmountable dillemma (e.g. alien threatens to blow up the earth). This is very different from, say, FANTASTIC FOUR, where the essential plot is something like, "FF goes on vacation, and on a tropical island encounters a giant alien robot."

Some people don't like SUPERMAN II, but of all the versions of Superman in the movies, it feels the most like the Bronze Age comics. It could have been written by Len Wein or Cary Bates. Step 1: Put the gun on the wall (the Red Sun Chamber). Step 2: Introduce a problem that it looks like Superman can't solve (Zod). Step 3: Fire the gun on the wall (using the Chamber to trick Zod).

What I'm saying is, Superman can survive not being a Catholic Saint, but he can't survive being a flying version of the Incredible Hulk. That, I think, is the REAL problem with the 1990s: not that Superman had maybe killed in the previous decade...but that Superman actually throws a punch. Actually throws a punch!

Quote from: Permanus
It seems to me that the Sub-Mariner is the superhero equivalent of the guy who pulls a gun on you "Cos you didn't show respect, man, knowuhmsayin'?" when you accidentally stepped on his foot while getting on the bus. Hot-headed and violent, he's probably more than a little insecure; true, he's trying to make the world a better place, but he's doing so in an arbitrary and ultimately fascist way, by forcing events.

Namor's no different from any other superhero, including Superman, in that he uses force to impose right and wrong on the world. There's nothing fascist about that in a superhero context. The big difference is that Namor is a misanthropic member of an inhuman race to which he has his primary loyalties...so he's going to come into conflict with humanity sometimes. No different from Superman. Remember "The War Between Krypton and Earth?"

And I really doubt Namor's insecure. Part of being arrogant is, you think everything you do is absolutely right.

Quote from: Permanus
Superman, by contrast, is entirely confident in his powers, and understands what they mean: nobody can hurt him, so what need has he of pre-emptive strikes?

Whoa, whoa, hold up - I'm not giving Superman a liscense to kill here. That's not consistent behavior with what we know about Superman, and certainly a guy with his power level has lots of options other than just whacking people.

What I am saying, however, is I don't think Superman as a character is 'broken forever" or even "damaged goods" if he killed at some point in the distant past.

This is not an endorsement of Superman killing, but rather the recognition that superheroes can ultimately bounce back from these things.

Quote from: Permanus
Where I think your argument falls short, though - if I've understood it correctly - is that since Namor is willing to do pretty much anything in order to get his point across, including killing, he is somehow morally superior. I'd like to take issue with that, because the whole point of Superman's code against killing is that he's so powerful, he doesn't even have to kill you.

What? I didn't make that argument. What I said was, the reason the Sub-Mariner and Superman provoke such a strong response from readers is because they are symbolic of something. Namor as the "one man vs. the world" and Superman of a kind of do-anything pluck for which little is impossible.

You mention politics a few times in your post...one weakness of political argument is that a tack or approach that defies left/right black/white, is often baffling...and so people that disagree with what you're saying not only argue with what you've said, but also with things you didn't say, and love to label even when inappropriate.

The War Nerd, Gary Brecher back in the early 00s was anti-Iraq War, for example, and anti-Victor Davis Hanson, so his detractors labeled him a liberal and a peacenik (the IRONY of the War Nerd, who despises Jimmy Carter, being called a peacenik!). Gary Brecher opposed Iraq because he loved a good clean war and because he was a patriot, and for techie and logistic reasons. So obviously guys like Hanson, used to liberals, attacked his arguments in a very...confused...way.

Here in supercomics land, we're used to our version of left/right, black/white, which is the mentality that results-oriented heroes like Magog or Wolverine are better than "fair play" milk-drinkers like Hal Jordan or Captain America (or the reverse belief). I didn't make that argument anywhere - but you HEARD it, though, because you're hardwired to fight the Evil Empire.

A particularly obnoxious comic book store employee once labeled me a "Modern Age doofus" because I love Gail Simone and Geoff Johns.

Heh. If only he knew!
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Criadoman
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2007, 05:25:32 AM »

Wow - what a post.  This one got me very interested while perusing.

...some people that think Superman is boring because he's a big boy scout. Most of the time, that can be used to drive stories forward and make Superman a more interesting character.

The most irritating example of this I can think of off the top of my head is Waid's KINGDOM COME, a future where the Joker has killed the one woman Superman loves. But here comes a violent, results-oriented hero that whacks the Joker in retaliation.

So....Superman puts Magog on trial?

Waid's intention may have been to make Superman look saintly here, but it ultimately makes Superman look alien. Responding this way to the death of one's true love is downright inhuman. Yes, true, we didn't see this from Superman's point of view so maybe there's more to the story, but the end result is Superman comes off scary, as a fanatic...no different from people that turn in family members or lovers to totalitarian regimes, because they value "rules" more than a profound human connection like love or family.

I didn't quite get Supes as "alien-looking" per se.  What I found most compelling about Lois' death at the hands of Joker, was that Supes was denied the right to justice.  Consider if you will that Superman's entire life as a hero was to stand up for truth and justice.  With any criminal taken into custody - Superman would expect they be faced with justice to the fullest extent.  Naive - yes, but that is, IMO the charm of Superman.  He "chooses" to impose certain rules on himself.  He doesn't have to, he chooses to.  An infinitely powerful, almost god-like character - who chooses to impose certain morals on himself to live amongst the human race.  That is greatness.  However, this was a case of a personal affront the likes of which as far as we could tell he never experienced.  Therefore, Magog, already a disciple of "giving as good as one gets" basically took away Superman's chance for justice - for himself.  Resultantly, Superman's necessary failing for the beginning of the story - how can he provide justice for all when he was utterly incapable of providing justice to himself?

The bottom line is, Superman being "virtuous" can be used to make him creepy in the hands of a bad writer, or a writer having an off-day, if its all about certain "rules" Superman never breaks.

I think that simply speaks volumes for the writer himself, but I know what you mean.

Quote from: Permanus
It seems to me that the Sub-Mariner is the superhero equivalent of the guy who pulls a gun on you "Cos you didn't show respect, man, knowuhmsayin'?" when you accidentally stepped on his foot while getting on the bus. Hot-headed and violent, he's probably more than a little insecure; true, he's trying to make the world a better place, but he's doing so in an arbitrary and ultimately fascist way, by forcing events.

Namor's no different from any other superhero, including Superman, in that he uses force to impose right and wrong on the world. There's nothing fascist about that in a superhero context. The big difference is that Namor is a misanthropic member of an inhuman race to which he has his primary loyalties...so he's going to come into conflict with humanity sometimes. No different from Superman. Remember "The War Between Krypton and Earth?"

And I really doubt Namor's insecure. Part of being arrogant is, you think everything you do is absolutely right.

I'm inclined to agree with Permanus on this point.  By definition, arrogance is "having or showing feelings of unwarranted importance out of overbearing pride; "an arrogant official"; "arrogant claims"."  Of note, "unwarranted importance".  Someone demonstrating this characteristic is "hiding" something.  Be it his own views of himself, his contempt for someone or something else, whatever.  But he is "hiding something" about himself.  I believe in Namor's case, and this is my own hypothesis, that Atlantis or homo mermanus is a dying breed, or that he himself really doesn't have a right to claim them as his race as he's a mutant.  Poor boy's got alot against him.  He, however, is all about "defending his people" and "hitting back" and only when really fought against by someone with some admirable quality to him does he come to a solution to the benefit of all.  To me, Namor considers everyone your enemy until you prove to him that you are not, then he decides he can like you.  But, your argument on Namor's alignment is well taken.  One could conceive Namor being very friendly to his own subjects, and a fair, kind and loved ruler.  However, Superman doesn't just maintain this with one race as Namor would.

Superman simply "is" and onto himself.  He's approachable, caring, kind, etc.  Superman decides he likes you 1st, considers you a friend 1st, and typically takes you at face value.

Quote from: Permanus
Superman, by contrast, is entirely confident in his powers, and understands what they mean: nobody can hurt him, so what need has he of pre-emptive strikes?

I really don't see this as a line of logic for Superman not being defensive.  However, I'm of the school where Superman would be Superman with or without powers - and views them more as a gift and an earned privilege than a right.  I think Superman is willing to be harmed and hurt.  Case in point, when confronting a new foe, he's got no clue what to expect from them in terms of powers, etc.  Yet he generally still just flies right up and takes whatever happens.  Sure, more than likely he won't be harmed, and there is confidence in that.  However, even Namor would do something like that if he was so inclined. 

Whoa, whoa, hold up - I'm not giving Superman a liscense to kill here. That's not consistent behavior with what we know about Superman, and certainly a guy with his power level has lots of options other than just whacking people.

What I am saying, however, is I don't think Superman as a character is 'broken forever" or even "damaged goods" if he killed at some point in the distant past.

This is not an endorsement of Superman killing, but rather the recognition that superheroes can ultimately bounce back from these things.

I only just recently read the Phantom Zone story in question.  I thought it was interesting that that was the last drawn by Byrne story before he left that title.  Don't read too much into that, but I thought it was interesting timing.  Recently I also studied what the Russian Zod character was actually supposed to be.  I discovered he was supposed to originally be the E1 Superman who was being controlled by the dead Zod as Superman's new enemy.  What a wild trip that would have been.  It is interesting to note that Superman in essence did "bounce back" so to speak in that there have been many, many stories where this wasn't such a factor.  I don't believe I saw it come up in Infinite Crisis outside of an aside by Kal-L.  Also, let us not forget he also "saved" a universe in the Phantom Zone - which should have been a sort of personal exoneration.  However, I can see your point, Julian, regarding Superman not bouncing back - only to the degree where it is brought up by a writer or damning of Superman in critiques.  I think the real deal breaker for me is whether or not Superman really needed to kill those PZ guys.  More on this later.

Quote from: Permanus
Where I think your argument falls short, though - if I've understood it correctly - is that since Namor is willing to do pretty much anything in order to get his point across, including killing, he is somehow morally superior. I'd like to take issue with that, because the whole point of Superman's code against killing is that he's so powerful, he doesn't even have to kill you.

What? I didn't make that argument. What I said was, the reason the Sub-Mariner and Superman provoke such a strong response from readers is because they are symbolic of something. Namor as the "one man vs. the world" and Superman of a kind of do-anything pluck for which little is impossible.

You mention politics a few times in your post... Here in supercomics land, we're used to our version of left/right, black/white, which is the mentality that results-oriented heroes like Magog or Wolverine are better than "fair play" milk-drinkers like Hal Jordan or Captain America (or the reverse belief). I didn't make that argument anywhere - but you HEARD it, though, because you're hardwired to fight the Evil Empire.

I didn't particularly see that argument in your post, Julian, and as stated I see your point regarding the whole "Superman ruined" item.  It is interesting to note that there is another time Superman killed post-crisis - and that was the Doomsday storyline.  Yes, Doomsday came back, but we didn't necessarily know it til Reign of the Supermen.

When is it OK for Superman to kill?  This is a pretty interesting concept to consider.  Well, in view that his killing Doomsday was nowhere nearly as criticized as his killing the Zoners - obviously we seem to be OK with his killing in defense of others.  It was missed as a point 'cause obviously Superman died too, but the fact remains he was completely resolved to use lethal force and did.  One could grant him "just cause" and that would be the end of it, and seems to be the case here.

In the Zoners point, the damage was done - and the universe was extinct.  But the real reason for the extinction had everything to do with the "heroes" of the planet.  To review the story again, it was that universe's own Lex that was the cause of the problem and the cause of the extinction.  In this case, what was Superman really defending?  Our new Superman was sorely out of his class, as the real culprit was obviously a universe-class Time Trapper manipulating that universe.  All those lives, tossed to simply battle his own enemies, the Legion.  I could go on with this but I mean really, what a psychotic situation.

Ok, now come the flaws and the contrievences that I can see for this story. 

Everything is gone and completely desolate.  There is nothing left to defend in the entire universe.  Further, the Zoners are now completely and utterly powerless.  Why, after all this, does Superman now worry they might make it to his universe?  Although the real chances are pretty low, he exposes them to Green K to kill them to further allay his concerns for the off chance they survive the barren Earth, that as well on top of that, they might get their power back?!?  We are talking very low chance here.

What would have been the more correct or poetic justice?  I believe the Supes I know and love would have taken his chances with the powerless Zoners and left them to the heck of their own design.  Superman dealt with them well enough on his own, and if they surfaced on his Earth, he'd have an entire world of heroes and villians to defend it (a la Invasion).  And why couldn't he?  He had Thanagarians, Daxamites, etc. His home universe would never really be in any serious danger.  (In the pocket universe there was just Earth.)  In this scenario, here would have been Superman applying his intelligence.  In short, there really was no real point to killing them, outside of revenge for a race and universe that was destroyed.  This was more rightly a Namor-eque type handling than Superman's.

This is also why I so thoroughly dislike Superman offing the Phantom Zone villians.  That was so utterly and completely unlike Superman it was sick - and the overall story, full of a ton of holes and ultimately seemed like a simple point of showing he was different cause he killed.  This doesn't make Superman damaged goods, but this also isn't Superman.  It would have been a much better story to discover years later that he was being influenced by someone else (the post-crisis Brainiac for example) to heighten his self-doubts and set him up for destruction.

However, I personally would like to shoot the person who started to associate Superman being a "boy scout".  This is not directed at you Julian - but I believe it was simply attributed to him by somebody who really doesn't get the character.  I suppose once this was a term to describe virtues, but as much in today's day and age, has been degraded down to someone who abides by long deceased morals.  I personally believe that when morals are viewed as un-needed or un-necessary, we are in for some severe trouble.  But, philosophic meanderings aside, in Superman's case, his values and morals or code of ethics are qualities that are exactly what is needed in a hero such as Supes - and as I opened up with, completely necessary.

As to "looking alien" - heck, that ain't all that hard for anyone.  All it takes is someone to disagree with "the masses" to look like an alien.  I don't believe that groups are anywhere near as effective in making sense as an individual, and here we had a case where Superman was trying to do the right thing despite the Roman bread and circus of Metropolis.  Unfortunately Superman's PR rep was asleep and Magog's was in full swing.

As to the idea that Superman is a "paragon of" whatever - again, guys who miss the point of the character, but heck, maybe I'm the one.  Superman would be the last guy, I would think, who would say he was a paragon of anything.  He's not, but he's more right than he is wrong, and that counts for something.  I suppose getting one's giddy kicks out of seeing admantium claws rip through guts every other time they're deployed qualifies one to know what a hero is.
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2007, 08:57:02 AM »

Quote from: JulianPerez
Namor's no different from any other superhero, including Superman, in that he uses force to impose right and wrong on the world. There's nothing fascist about that in a superhero context. The big difference is that Namor is a misanthropic member of an inhuman race to which he has his primary loyalties...so he's going to come into conflict with humanity sometimes. No different from Superman. Remember "The War Between Krypton and Earth?"

And I really doubt Namor's insecure. Part of being arrogant is, you think everything you do is absolutely right.

Julian,

Use of force? Yes, Superman is the star of "Action" Comics and he's a physical marvel. Conflict with humanity? Too sweeping. Superman is never at odds with "humanity" in the same way Namor is. Misanthropic? Yes, Namor can be. Superman? Never. Fascist? Namor is pretty close to it. Superman, never.

The link, or lack of differences, you are trying to string between Namor and Superman is gossamer-thin.

And Namor's over-the-top arrogance definitely indicates insecurity. In fact, I hadn't ever really thought about it before, but "insecure" describes him perfectly. Any deviation from his view of how the world should be, and especially how he believes others should act, sends him into paroxysms of rage and desperation.

Perhaps Superman's saving grace is his compassion, which is the most highly developed of all the super-heroes. I really think if you are trying to see similarities between Superman and Namor, you can't get far beyond "super-strength" and, at a stretch, "nobility".

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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2007, 09:13:55 AM »

The bottom line is, Superman being "virtous" can be used to make him creepy in the hands of a bad writer, or a writer having an off-day, if its all about certain "rules" Superman never breaks.

Well, no arguments there. I remember an absolutely dire Brave & Bold story from the 70s in which Batman tricks some alien invaders into believing that all earthmen have superpowers in order to frighten them away, and what does Superman say? "Thanks, good thinking", maybe? No, he says "Well, I don't really approve of lying, but in this case I'll make an exception". I wanted to strangle him.

Quote
And I really doubt Namor's insecure. Part of being arrogant is, you think everything you do is absolutely right.

Criadoman responded to this better than I could, but basically I think arrogance is insecurity's cloak.

Quote
What I am saying, however, is I don't think Superman as a character is 'broken forever" or even "damaged goods" if he killed at some point in the distant past.

Well, he would be sort of broken for me, mainly for sentimental reasons. There's something comfortable about Superman's non-lethal world. I see what you mean, though; it's just that I'd rather writers didn't explore that particular path. Basically, I think of Superman's virtue as something that should remain untarnished, and I don't deny that I'm conferring a sort of messianic status on him. Remember that scene in Watchmen where Laurie accuses the Comedian of being a rapist and he helplessly responds "Only once", as if that made it any better? Well, I feel much the same way Laurie did.

Quote
Quote from: Permanus
Where I think your argument falls short, though - if I've understood it correctly - is that since Namor is willing to do pretty much anything in order to get his point across, including killing, he is somehow morally superior. I'd like to take issue with that, because the whole point of Superman's code against killing is that he's so powerful, he doesn't even have to kill you.

What? I didn't make that argument. What I said was, the reason the Sub-Mariner and Superman provoke such a strong response from readers is because they are symbolic of something. Namor as the "one man vs. the world" and Superman of a kind of do-anything pluck for which little is impossible.


Well, okay, no, you didn't say that. I was exaggerating for effect. Guilty!

Quote
You mention politics a few times in your post

Actually, "Only once", but I did it in such a shrill manner that it must have seemed like it was all I was talking about. I'm a sort of political Liberace sometimes. I certainly take your point about labelling, but it does help when you don't want to take up too much space. For a more nuanced view, see my Response to Julian Perez' Superman=Namor Post, vol. 3, pp. 458-502. (Incidentally, your Gary Brecher example reminds me of the confused responses of the Conservative Party in Parliament when Labour took us to war. They were plunged into the situation of having to agree with Labour, though it stuck in their craw.)

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Here in supercomics land, we're used to our version of left/right, black/white, which is the mentality that results-oriented heroes like Magog or Wolverine are better than "fair play" milk-drinkers like Hal Jordan or Captain America (or the reverse belief). I didn't make that argument anywhere - but you HEARD it, though, because you're hardwired to fight the Evil Empire.

Well, okay, you didn't actually say that, I just think it's the logical offshoot of what you're saying. And of course it isn't, really, but now I've chosen my path, I've got to stick to my non-lethal guns and pretend it is.

Basically, if I may make a less biased assessment, I think our disagreement is that you, being a cold-blooded, vicious murderer, think that Superman might kill someone and bounce back from it, and I, being delightful and splendid in every way, think that Superman should never kill anybody, ever, BECAUSE IT WOULD RUIN MY LIFE.
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Permanus
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2007, 09:21:19 AM »

Quote from: JulianPerez
Namor's no different from any other superhero, including Superman, in that he uses force to impose right and wrong on the world. There's nothing fascist about that in a superhero context. The big difference is that Namor is a misanthropic member of an inhuman race to which he has his primary loyalties...so he's going to come into conflict with humanity sometimes. No different from Superman. Remember "The War Between Krypton and Earth?"

And I really doubt Namor's insecure. Part of being arrogant is, you think everything you do is absolutely right.

Julian,

Use of force? Yes, Superman is the star of "Action" Comics and he's a physical marvel. Conflict with humanity? Too sweeping. Superman is never at odds with "humanity" in the same way Namor is. Misanthropic? Yes, Namor can be. Superman? Never. Fascist? Namor is pretty close to it. Superman, never.

Mind you, I think (and it's hardly an original thought) that there is an aspect of the superhero genre that appeals to the fascist in all of us: it's an empowering wish-fulfilment fantasy.
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2007, 10:17:44 AM »

Quote from: JulianPerez
Namor's no different from any other superhero, including Superman, in that he uses force to impose right and wrong on the world. There's nothing fascist about that in a superhero context. The big difference is that Namor is a misanthropic member of an inhuman race to which he has his primary loyalties...so he's going to come into conflict with humanity sometimes. No different from Superman. Remember "The War Between Krypton and Earth?"

And I really doubt Namor's insecure. Part of being arrogant is, you think everything you do is absolutely right.

Julian,

Use of force? Yes, Superman is the star of "Action" Comics and he's a physical marvel. Conflict with humanity? Too sweeping. Superman is never at odds with "humanity" in the same way Namor is. Misanthropic? Yes, Namor can be. Superman? Never. Fascist? Namor is pretty close to it. Superman, never.

Mind you, I think (and it's hardly an original thought) that there is an aspect of the superhero genre that appeals to the fascist in all of us: it's an empowering wish-fulfilment fantasy.

You'll have to explain that one. Wishing for what, exactly, and how does it indicate fascism?
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