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Wednesday, September 04, 2013 

USA Today gushes over DC's "celebration" of evil this month

USA Today fawned over the Forever Evil crossover being published this month, which is being accompanied by a documentary about their super-villains:
Beginning Wednesday and going through the end of the month, all 52 superhero titles, from Justice League to Batman, get a bad-guy makeover. Iconic villains Lex Luthor, Catwoman, the Riddler, Harley Quinn and the Flash's Rogues Gallery each get an issue (available digitally and in comic shops), as do newer and lesser-known baddies such as the Joker's Daughter, Relic and the female Ventriloquist.

Also launching this week is Forever Evil, an event series by writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch. The book centers on the arrival of the Crime Syndicate of America, a villainous version of the Justice League from the parallel world of Earth 3 — deemed "the birthplace of evil."
The stories published in the Justice League of America during the Silver/Bronze Age were a lot simpler and better, all without being so heavy-handed as these pedestrian writers tend to be. At this point, it's pretty obvious they're doing little more than a parade of nostalgia for tales they have no respect for.
And if that isn't enough malevolence for this fall, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment are releasing the documentary Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics on Oct. 25 on Blu-ray and DVD. The movie is narrated by Christopher Lee and features insights from comic-book creators, celebrities and filmmakers such as Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and the Hellboy series' Guillermo del Toro.

"One of the things that makes us stand out from others is our depth and breadth of our villains," says DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee. "Sometimes our villains are even more infamous than some of our heroes, and we are able to explore that side of the universe in a way very few other companies can."
Just how can they have any depth, with the poor writing they've been getting over the past decade? And Lee's done little than to explain one of their biggest weaknesses: they care more about the villains than the heroes, or even heroism as a concept, trying to use the "eye candy" of a costumed crook to compensate for their disinterest in building up and emphasizing the heroes and their personal lives/casts, many of whom have been sidelines recently, or phased out altogether.

And what does Lee mean when he suggest the heroes are "infamous"? Is that supposed to be an allusion to Identity Crisis and the way it set out to make the heroes look like they were really wrong?

Lee's boast that they can explore their villains as no others can is laughable in a way, too. Even if it's a bad idea, Marvel's editors can do that too if they feel like it. Come to think of it, so can some independent publishers.
DC's evildoers "have awesome names, they've always been the yin to the heroes' yang, and they've all made the heroes richer and more interesting because of the reflections they cast," Lee explains.
This is even more laughable. Marvel's villains don't have awesome names? Haven't they too been yins to yangs? That said, Lee's boast falls flat because the quality of the writing is what makes the heroes rich and interesting, including supporting/recurring cast members. Something that, as noted before, they've been jettisoning.
There was only one rule for the writers and artists, says DC co-publisher Dan DiDio: No evildoer should be sympathetic. "If they're villains, we want them to be villainous through and through."
I wouldn't trust DiDio's claim any further than his awful track record. Why, in Identity Crisis, this was one of the problems: the story was otherwise sympathetic to the villains. And DiDio's long since lost everybody's trust.
Nobody's worse, however, than the Crime Syndicate, which appeared at the end of the recent Justice League "Trinity War" story line. The vicious group includes Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, Power Ring and Deathstorm — alternate-universe analogues, respectively, of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern and Firestorm.

"I love the Justice League, and this is an even better Justice League for me because they're dark and evil and scary. They're more extreme in every way," Finch says.

Adds Johns: "We get to hold up this twisted mirror at the world's great heroes and see what they could have been."
The more I think about it, the more this is beginning to sound like "Superior" Spider-Man's direction. Finch is suggesting he cares less about the real heroes because in his view, they're not "extreme" enough. So they replace them with villains rendered to look potentially more bloodthirsty than their Silver/Bronze Age renditions were, and think that's something to be joyfyl about.
Evil is relative, Johns says, and readers will even see some notorious characters actually doing something heroic through the series.

"They're all extremely different," he says. "Some of them want to survive the day. Some of them want to take over the world. Some of them want to kill their enemies. Some of them want to blow things up. Some of them want to just be left alone. Some of them want to be cured of the curse of their powers."

Moral ambiguity is key to the overall story line, and so is the idea of there not being one absolute good or evil.

"Our characters are more complex than that,'' Johns says. "In order for us to wrap our head around a world full of superpowers, people start categorizing heroes and villains. But the lines are pretty blurry with some of these characters."
I see. Johns is once again blurring the differences between good and evil, which conflicts heavily with what DiDio said, since heroism is something that can be worthy of sympathy. But in the end, what they're doing is little more than something reminiscent of a war between two autocratically run countries (like say, Iran and Iraq), where, when you look at them under a microscope, you realize you can't root for either one. And even fictional supervillains aren't someone to admire.

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