Week ???- Ghost World

Now the most obvious theme in ghostworld is that of change, of a coming of age of 2 friends who become increasingly distant. What is good about the book is it’s realistic prototypical of female friendships and changes in life.

Female friendships in general have been lacking in many mediums of art and fiction (Leading to the creation of the Bechdel test). Notably, while the friendship between Enid and Rebecca is not ideal, it is realistic. This helps to build the slice of life, realistic atmosphere which when combined with the ages of the girls-18 (a crucial point in most peoples life as they head off to university) makes the comic extremely relatable.

Another interesting aspect of the comic is the fact the characters apathy to change is what generates most of the plot. They spend most of their lives looking for stability as they see the end of adolescence- the dark at the end of the tunnel. For example, this search for stability be seen in their delight when they see the same pair of pants on the street twice.  This was extremely significant to me as I had a mini-existential crisis in the days leading up to first year orientation (Sept 2017), and I too ‘grew’ out of many of my high-school relationships.

In a way, it is this morbid but realistic take on reality that makes ghostworld so interesting. It is also this realistic take on reality that makes ghostworld so polarizing, because it is extremely hard to use it as an escape from reality (which many other comics are used as), when it is all about the nuances of society and reality.

Or some people could just not like the book. Weird huh.

Week 6-The Art of self-contained issues

Planetary reminded me a lot of Black Mirror. Planetary seems to be aiming for that thought provoking theme- where each issue provokes discussion about the real world. A key difference however, is that world-building and crafting the overarching story is a  key focus for Planetary, whereas that aspect isn’t explored in black mirror (the episodes exist in different universes).

Also Planetary (so far) seems to be aiming for the slice of life genre in a fantastical setting. Which is really interesting but can also be considering boring if your used to more traditional works in the fantasy /superhero genre.

One thing that I found really interesting is that the advanced level of technology and the prevalence of superpowers (while not common, but not exactly extremely rare either), has limited effect on the world. The world is a mirror image of today’s world, which logically makes no sense. This is a large part of the difficulty in writing sci-fi/futurist books that aim to be realistic-we have no idea how the world will turn out. For proof,  noone in the early 1900’s can guess what would happen to the world in just a century. The rate of change is just too fast.

World-building these worlds is extremely difficult, in that we can’t remove ourselves from the context of today human society. This makes it nigh impossible to imagine a totally new society-whether it be the human race in the future or an alien race without an element of today’s human morality and technology creeping in there.

Just look at black mirror- they tell the fear’s about tomorrow’s technology in today’s world. But their perception of tomorrow’s technology is based off of today’s (they just loooove brain implants which are basically phones with blurring features). WildStorm is no different. And both works can’t imagine tomorrow’s society, so they stick in today’s. And while it is interesting, it isn’t exactly realistic.

 

 

 

 

Week 4-Between Blood and Nation

I personally found Black panther to be a breath of fresh air compared to Ms. Marvel and Captain america. While not perfect, the book crafts an elaborate world, full of political intrigue and tough choices. And a villain who actually has reasons for doing the things he do, a villain I can easily imagine existing in the real world (unlike that pigeon from Ms.Marvel who was just a stupid straw-man for everyone not young).

But enough good things, lets discuss another stupid aspect of comic books and Black Panther: People just never staying dead.

Shuri coming back to life was one of the biggest disappointments of black panther; comic book writers have to know that when no one stays dead,  death has no effect on the reader (and it is one of the powerful tools in the writers arsenal).

 

“oh XYZ died again? Wonder how long it’ll be until they bring him/her back”.

 

Is a sentence that is unfortunately common in comics, and I had hoped black panther would be different.

It can be argued that writing about superhero’s requires them to be both ageless and immortal- that not dying is a fundamental part of being a superhero, that the cyclical nature of superhero’s somehow says something about humans (other than raising the question of why we keep buying this shit).

But I personally think that’s BS.

A nice contrast I’d like to make is between Game of Thrones and Comics. SO SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!

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Now I’ve never watched the shows, But I’ve read all the books and Ned Starks death was a profound moment for me. I remember sitting there for an hour thinking: this makes no sense, good guys don’t die in stories. It showed that Ned Stark was righteous, brave, kind and that got him nothing but a nice beheading. Just like the glorious real world.

I am 100% percent sure I will never have the same feeling for any comic book character death. It’s easy to see why.

I’d like to conclude with the fact that clearly, I’m biased. I like dark, gritty, realistic worlds, and comics aren’t those. But I’d like to think that my criticism is still fair, albeit heavy handed.

Week 3-Superhero Origin Stories

Whats really interesting is that Ms. Marvel is being praised for being one of the first prominent muslim superhero, nobody seems to notice that even the first Muslim superhero has to be american! Approximately 0.2% of the worlds muslims live in america, but off course she is american. After all, how could superhero’s possibly exist anywhere else than the land of the free and trump?

So while you can argue that Ms. Marvel is “progressive”, it really isn’t. And even more  disappointing is that it comic writers this long to create a major Muslim superhero.

After a while, the american-centric stories get really boring and it shows a profound level of ignorance about the real world by comic book writers that basically every superhero I can name (save for black panther) is from America. (note that I am not a particularly avid comic book reader, I’m sure there are obscure characters not from america. But that’s the point; they are obscure. And if they aren’t, they are fighting for western ideals, with western superhero’s. Their unique background is stated in their backstory and forgotten.)

Note that I am not arguing for token characters. But when there are so many cultures, so many niches, so many people, you can base a story off of, why another american with the same western ideals, same western perspective as the thousands of capes before them?

This also relates to the idea of doing reboots.  Or another origin story for a character that has has already has hundreds of them (cough superman, batman cough).

It’s just so, repetitive. And this is apparently what the readers want to, because apparently new characters don’t sell (source ted-Talk we watched in class). The genre is for me at least, isn’t that interesting. And what a waste that is. It has so much potential-there are so many things you could say about the human condition in a world where <1% of the population can wipe out the other 99%.

But no. We want another superman story.

 

Week 2- Humanizing the Superhero

Superman is in a pretty weird place. He is basically a human- he was raised as a human, thinks like a human, acts like a human. Literally the only thing that makes him special is his powers. Nothing else. But  then this raises the question as to why an alien from a society whatever light years way, is a perfect example of an lackluster, average, boring human. What I mean by this is, if we took an average human with good morals and gave him superman’s power, he/she would be almost identical to the current superman.

And that is why it makes no sense that people describe superman as an “godlike” or an “ascended being”, giving him labels that he does not deserve.

He is the epitome of the common man; trying to do his best to help the world. It is just that this common man (superman) has alot more options available to him, none of which are earned, but inherited. 

Applying to this weeks theme, why we should even need to humanize the superhero? They are functionally all humans, because they are the product of our thoughts, affected by our culture, driven by human desires.

It is we who gave them that pedestal, to place them above the laws of man, to say they are something more than human (an ideal anyone???). But then they make the most human of mistakes, do the most human of things (looking for love, family, a home, struggling against a villain, facing life’s challenges etc), but yet they are somehow godlike.

An apt way a godlike being would never have to be confronted with their mortality because they above it. Just like they are above humans.

And so Superman never was, and never is godlike.