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Monday, July 25, 2011 

Morrison's POV of Superman is ludicrous

In USA Today's coverage of the Comicon, he says the following about Superman:
"Each decade, these characters represent our own best idea of what we'd like to be, our own big idea," says Grant Morrison, a comic-book writer and author of the new book Supergods (Spiegel & Grau, $28), a history of superheroes.

"Superman started out as a socialist fighter for the oppressed in 1938, but that was the time of the Depression. In the '80s, he's a yuppie."
I find both descriptions insulting, no matter what political standing Siegel and Shuster had when they first began. Mainly because socialism is just what helped lead to the Great Depression and such.

Later in the article, he told them that:
Morrison says 9/11 gave heroes in fiction, even the superpowered ones, much more realistic problems to face, sometimes with the bad guys actually winning before the good guys rise again. Yet incorporating human problems into hero-filled stories is something comic books have been doing since the Marvel Comics heyday of Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man.
And I'm afraid that's very superficial at worst, because since then, there've been quite a few stories where the heroes were presented as the scapegoats (as in Identity Crisis), and the heroes themselves turn out to be the problem (as in Avengers: Disassembled). And either the baddies win too often, or if Flashpoint is any suggestion, the goodies are being turned into baddies themselves.

And at the end, Morrison said about his take on Superman:
"There's a reason why he's dressed in the jeans and the T-shirt and he's Bruce Springsteen Superman," Morrison says. "That was the look I wanted to get back, of a genuine working-class hero."
Except that even most superheroes who stood for the working/middle class years before didn't wear outfits as tepid as what they've come up with now. Superman was dressed like a circus acrobat when he debuted in 1938, not like a construction worker. And the new look does not mesh well with the cape.

Update: I also found an interview with Grant Morrison in the New Statesman from July, related to his weak book, where he blabbers on about his view of Superman as a socialist superhero. Curiously enough, the interviewer began with the following:
His new book, "Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero", opens with the first comic-book appearance of Superman in 1938 and traces his evolution and the emergence of other heroes such as Batman, the X Men (and the ill-advised Captain Britain), through to the darker, satirical tales of Alan Moore and others in the 1970s and 1980s and on to Hollywood's current obsession with film adaptations.
Interesting. Does that mean that in the UK, there's some people who don't have a high opinion of Capt. Britain, regardless of the handling of Brian Braddock over the years? And here, just when you'd think they actually would like to have a fictionalized hero representing their country.

The next part is pretty ludicrous too:
How have superheroes evolved?

They've evolved along with us -- but in a lot of cases, they've also predicted social change. The "soft body" superheroes of the 1960s were almost a prediction of the way LSD would affect the consciousness of a lot of young people; there are "9/11" comics that happened prior to that event but depicted weird and uncanny images of ruined towers and destroyed cities.
So he's insulting superheroes by comparing the ones with more vulnerabilities to bullets to drug addicts?!? Well, that is coming from someone who wasted his time on drugs himself. As for comics that did feature destruction, it can certainly be said some of them were in poor taste, depending on how they were done. But it can't be told from this whether he thinks so.
Is it very different writing for a character with an existing mythology?

I like to go back and work out what the original writer and artist wanted to do with the character and then study as many of the different iterations as possible. Every generation has its own version of Superman and they can often be very different.

At the beginning, Superman was very much a socialist superhero. He fought for the unemployed, the oppressed, he beat up wife-beaters. It's about a man driven by a burning sense of injustice -- there are no monsters or robots, he fights against corrupt council officials! He was conceived as a Depression-era superhero, who dealt with the problems of ordinary people.

By the time of the war ten years later, he'd become like Elvis -- he'd had his hair cut, suddenly he was riding missiles and telling readers to "slap a Jap". He was suddenly very for American foreign policy.

In the 1950s, he became a patriarch -- with a family, surrounded by Supergirl and Superdog. I feel that was representative of men home from the war who'd seen horrific things and were being expected to "act normal". And so on, through the decades. So you have to go back to first principles and ask: how would a champion of the oppressed act today?
Oh please! Since when was fighting for the oppressed, unemployed, and taking on wife-beaters something just socialists did. Actually, since when did socialists ever take on those kind of subjects at all? Such problems, if any, were practically the product of socialist mindsets. Not to mention that what follows in the above about "acting normal" is also pretty slapdash and confusing. And it doesn't get any better with the following:
I wonder what the answer to that would be.

I think he's a much more global, connected character. Truth, justice and the American way isn't relevant any more. We've all seen the pictures of the earth from Apollo 8. The Superman I would write would be a much more international figure.
Okay, I guess that's all we need to know of just how galling he can be. He's apparently got no respect for the best ideas about Superman, and must've really liked the approach used in Superman Returns.

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Another fun retcon: Now Barry and Iris Allen were never married, Barry is a womanizer, and they aren't even dating.

It truly is the New Coke DCU...

Funny, how he welcomes the destruction of every hero's relationships/marriages yet won't let anyone else split up Animal Man and his girl....

What does that say there, folks?

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