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Wednesday, August 21, 2013 

Superhero identities are "negative" and "hip" to explore from that POV?

That's what the AV Club might have us think, as they wrote about 14 notable comics published back in 1983, with one being Alpha Flight, and they say the following about Aurora:
Aurora suffers from acute dissociative identity disorder, viewing her civilian identity as a completely different person, and her mental issues allow Byrne to look at the negative effect of a superhero’s secret identity before it was the hip thing to do. A team of Canadian stereotypes may sound like a joke, but John Byrne’s work helped make Alpha Flight the fan-favorite it is today.
If it's become a popular thing today, that's exactly the problem now, and could have been even back then. As far as its early years go, while there were some interesting tales to be told by Byrne and even Bill Mantlo, I sometimes got the feeling Byrne didn't have much affection for the series cast, if he was going to heap that kind of mental mishmash on Aurora, since it looked like part of the problem with some of his storytelling: questionable depictions of women, and Aurora's background was pretty harsh. (On top of all that, seemed really strange to me that she'd be depicted as unable to find herself a life outside the orphanage where she'd grown up, if the Catholic nun in charge had been so nasty to her when she was a child. Once graduated, she took up a teacher's job right at the same place.)

And telling that a secret identity has negative sides mentally might be okay for exploring once or twice, but when it starts becoming a fad for focus, that's when it becomes unbearable. This is exactly how superhero comics become ruined, and another reason why the comics aren't selling well today.

They also bring up Lobo, who first debuted in the Omega Men at the time, and say:
A caricature of aggressive heroes like Punisher and Wolverine, Lobo was eventually embraced by the public for the very qualities his creators were criticizing, becoming one of the poster boys for hyper-violent, overly sexualized superhero comics. His character in Omega Men is more restrained, but still a scumbag, wondering mid-battle if his glowing opponent Kalista had the same radiance when she lost her virginity. He would become far more crass in the future, but Lobo is a total bastich from the very beginning.
You wouldn't know it from this superficial piece, but not only did Lobo never gain the same following as Punisher and Wolverine (while his ongoing series at the time lasted 6 years, he's not exactly big discussion stuff today), when his origins were retconned in the mid-90s, circa Zero Hour, this is what was established:
The last Czarnian (he killed everyone else on the planet), Lobo is the baddest bastich in the entire galaxy.
Why are we supposed to root for a character originally introduced as a villain, and for whom this later revelation would only be a negative, repulsive action? Killing vile criminals like what Punisher and Wolverine were known for doing is one thing, but wiping out an entire planet where there could be tons of innocents living? What planet is the AV Club living on? This reminds me that, during 1983, in Action Comics #544, Lex Luthor tried to lure Superman to the sanctuary planet he'd lived on occasionally called Lexor with the intent of killing him. During the ensuing battle, Lex accidentally destroyed the whole planet, sending the wife and child he had living there with it. Being a crazed man with no ability to recognize his own faults, he naturally blamed the Man of Steel for this. Obviously, this wasn't considered an admirable act, and if it wasn't right of him to hatemonger to the point where he'd lead a whole planet to oblivion, then it wasn't right for Lobo to wipe out his entire race either. If he's a bad "bastich", it's for all the wrong reasons.

DC's 1994 retcon of Lobo, IMHO, was a most ill-advised step, and did more harm than good.

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IIRC, the Punisher also began as a villain (or, at least, an antagonist) in Amazing Spider-Man, and later appeared (still as an adversary for the heroes) in Captain America and Daredevil. He got his own self-titled solo comic (and a lot of spinoffs) in the 1980s. My guess is that Marvel saw the popularity of tough-guy action movies (Rambo, Commando, Die Hard), and wanted to tap into that market.

Probably so.

Which is kind of funny, because the Punisher was originally created in allusion to the Death Wish and similar vigilante flicks of the 1970s.

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