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Friday, October 25, 2013 

Forbes unimpressed by Necessary Evil documentary

Forbes reviewed DC's documentary, Necessary Evil, and they were disappointed by it, finding it pretty thin. But, they offer a little extra info of what's in store:
...there is unintentional comedy in the final portions when they all discuss the idea of “redeeming” super heroes-gone-bad such as Hal Jordan or Black Adam who have basically committed genocide but were really sad about a personal tragedy at the time.
With such awful editors as DiDio involved, it would not surprise me if it does come off pretty badly, or, if they fail to explain correctly why it's just so mind-numbingly illogical that anybody mourning a tragedy, personal or otherwise, would take things from worse to hopeless by committing the same grave errors themselves. In fact, why do I get the notion there's nothing in this documentary about redeeming supporting cast members who were turned bad for no good reason, like Jean Loring? Co-stars don't matter?

I hope Forbes isn't saying it's impossible to redeem fictional characters whom nobody who truly loves the heroes and co-stars ever wanted to end up in such embarrassingly bad situations. But it's good they brought this up, because everybody should know what happened in 1994 with Green Lantern (and Black Adam can count too), and the past writers who brewed up such a monstrosity should by all means be ashamed of themselves if they tried to cover it up as the years went by.

I also found a review of this on BSC Kids, and this one, which is positive, unfortunately blows big time by gushing, taking the risk of celebrating evil as though it were totally positive:
Let’s face it. Everyone at one point or another has wanted to be a villain. Whether it was during a Halloween Party, or because a person cut you in line, you have had the inkling to let out the evil side that lurks within us all.
It makes no difference; wanting to be a villain in itself is a terrible thing, and there's something about that line that just rubs me the wrong way. No matter how great literature can be for reading, that doesn't mean evil is something we should want to be.
...Not only am I a big fan of the Joker, but I truly believe that a hero can only be as good as his or her rogue gallery. Heath Ledger’s Joker summed it up well in the last scene of The Dark Knight. When he’s hanging upside-down he says, “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” A truer statement has never been said. Numerous times, the Joker has caused unimaginable damage to Batman and the ones he loves, but somehow, Batman never gets rid of him. And neither can we. We need the Joker as much as we need The Batman.
Do we? In the 1990s, it got to a point where the Joker's acts of murder and other violence went throughly overboard, and he was certainly overused in storytelling. If they'd spent as much or more time crafting stories where Batman would battle non-costumed criminals, there wouldn't be as many complaints.

The ending paragraph is what really destroys this review:
All in all, the documentary was a nice treat to a long day at the show on Thursday. I highly recommend it to anyone who roots for the villain to win at the end of a story, or at least on some occasion. Sometimes, it’s good to identify with the bad guy. At the very least, it lets us know who the heroes are.
Oh, for crying out loud! That's a really stupid thing to say. It's in poor form to encourage people to root for villains. After all, there's more than enough people in real life with limp moral compasses who could be badly influenced by such a statement in how they look at decent people in real life too. And then we wonder why some cities/countries have high crime rates?

Which brings us to the main problem with the reviewer, if not the documentary: his MO is just the problem with anybody working in the press today who's supposedly trying to set examples: he's saying something that could encourage very bad behavior. This is exactly what results when the inmates run the asylum.

It's the heroes and their co-stars we should be rooting for. Villains can provide excitement by giving the heroes a challenge, but that doesn't mean we should root for them. Besides, it's the heroes and co-stars who have the humanity. And that's what should matter in a superhero comic.

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Engaging villains are a necessary part of fiction. If your villain is more engaging than your hero, though, it speaks to a flaw in the writer's character and/or ability.

One reason why villains interest some people is that they're usually the more active character in the story, and readers always respond better to the more active characters. Good writing will have them active at initiating the action but then have the hero take the reins. Really good writing will feature both characters counteracting each other until the climax, when the hero finally overcomes the villain.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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