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Friday, March 13, 2009 

Civilian identities have gone MIA

In this column at Comics Bulletin, they talk about how the civilian lives of the superheroes have become almost scarce in use recently, and even their supporting casts, if any, are not faring much better:
In good storytelling you had to know Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne to care about what happened to Spider-Man, Daredevil, Superman and Batman. I think the publishers/editors/writers take for granted that everyone already knows all about the hero's secret identity, supporting cast and reasons why they became a super hero. I think some of the writers are lazy in the fact it's just easier to write about the super side of the hero. They no longer have to interweave the character through sub-plots, non-powered supporting cast, new love interests and family.

As of late the only supporting cast end up being other costumed heroes. Sub-plots have been replaced with "the next big event." Love interests have been isolated to only other super powered beings. Family has taken the biggest hit of all. Marriage means death, death of the spouse or death of sales. The children of a hero are either killed off or turned into some raging, ADD, trauma nut case villain that only lives to kill their parents. In the case of marriage, if they don't kill off the spouse then instead of doing something realistic like divorce, the hero simply makes a deal with a devil-wannabe and POOF! It's all over.
Sometimes I think that's the biggest drawback with a lot of team titles: the heroes only date each other, and no civilian supporting cast is introduced to take the role of the main dates for various superheroes, whether they know their secret IDs or not. Mind you, there were some good stories out there where the heroes dated and even married each other, though some of these were undone too (Scarlet Witch and Vision, for example), but even so, with the exception of the marriage of Donna Troy and Terry Long in 1984 (which was also undone a decade afterwards and then Terry and their son were terminated), very few attempts have been made at giving a superhero/heroine who's a team book mainstay a civilian date, if at all, or even coming up with more than just one civilian co-star other than Jarvis, to name but one. And I've got a feeling that for now, little to no attempt will be made to improve upon that.

The big two have no idea what it really takes to make money and draw in larger crowds, or any idea of what makes for a good balance.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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