NO FIWOTTS ALLOWED!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Death Walks With Him

One of the nicest things about American superhero comics is that, in general, they are on the side of life.

After a dodgy start, Superman ended up with an inflexible moral code of no killing that is stronger than his fists. He has been driven mental several times purely by the emotional anguish of causing the death of somebody, even when it comes to mortal foes. This makes him a Good Guy, and the influence of the character has seen his example kept up by the large majority of his peers.

There are, as always, some big fucking exceptions: The American horror and war comics are piled high with corpses, but most of them are bad people or Nazis, so that’s okay. The mainstream superhero comics have had an extraordinary body count ever since Phoenix was killed in the Uncanny X-Men. This body count has only been matched by its profitability, although frequency and nullifcation of earlier deaths ends up in the current state of mainstream comics. Off in the last comic of the 20th century, The Authority always end up saving the day, but millions die along the way.

But in general, life wins. Superman stops the planes that fall from the sky over Metropolis with alarming frequency. Batman saves who he can, depending on who sits in the editor’s chair, while the same back-seat writing also sees Wonder Woman turn into Wonder Warrior every now and again. Spider-Man is surrounded by death and he is sad about it for a while, but gets on with things the best he can, and that’s what life is all about. The Fantastic Four are off meeting new life forms and showing them how to drive fast, while the regular Captain America pounds the fuck out of the Nazis, but doesn’t kill them, leaving them with broken bones and a pitiful feeling of defeat.

However, if all comics were like this, it would get boring pretty fucking quickly. The precarious balance between light fluff and the sheer nastiness of death for the sake of it is maintained by another type of character, another archetype breaking the surface.

They are not always male, but they mostly are. They’re not always big, a huge physical presence often a bonus, but not needed. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with all sorts of personalities and quirks. They do, however, have one thing in common.

If you fuck with them, they will kill you.

Sometimes there are second chances, more often there isn’t. You can beat these people down, but they’ll just keep getting back up and then they will kill you. If you insult them bad enough, they will kill you. There is honour, but if you fuck with them, they will fucking kill you.

It’s a character not confined to comics. They show up everywhere, in novels, movies and television shows. Clint’s Man With No Names pre-ordering the coffins, Bond’s cold assassinations, Jack Bauer coming back from the fucking dead to kill those dirty terrorists.

In the comic world, this character managed to stay out of the superhero section for the most part. After the superheroes had helped win WW2, the non-killing phase lasted for decades. However, by the seventies, the desperate attempts to create new superheroes that would match the Marvel explosion of the sixties and their DC counterparts 25 years earlier saw experiments that had all sorts of personalities grafted onto fairly traditional heroes. The tough guy in the team becomes the stone-cold killer, real guns with real bullets replacing the fist.

Frank Miller, the Toughest Man in Comics, has given the world some fine examples, and has adjusted the template slightly each time, often by making a female version, Elektra or deadly little Miho more than able to kill without a seconds hesitation or regret.

In the slightly more corporate world of mainstream superheros, two of the most successful, in financial terms more than artistic, appeared from the same company under different circumstances. The Punisher starting out teamed up with one of Spider-Man’s greatest villains - an old insane professor dressed in green latex - before gaining in popularity and even occasionally picking up a bit of depth along the way. Under the hands of Wein and Claremont, Wolverine started out as a shortarse Canadian with a crabby temper and morphed into a cold-hearted killer with an exceptionally strong sense of honour. In the PG Marvel Universe, he slaughters hundreds, with the full effect of those adamantinum claws on human flesh only examined relatively recently.

Both these characters sparked a horde of imitators, especially in Image comics, where superhero names were replaced with basic nouns and personalities ripped off wholesale, that Samauri code occasionally making a brief appearance, only to be overshadowed by some increasingly preposterous firearm. Even the Big Two jumped on the bandwagon, every second book at one time guest-starring Wolverine or the Punisher, the man who carries death in his pocket facing the expected diminishing returns as new writers take a crack, often fundamentally misunderstanding how the character works.

Granted, in the last 20 years, there have been some fine stories by self-proclaimed manly-men like Beau Smith and Chuck Dixon that fit this pattern, often using these Marvel characters or ones with a similar template. However, the finest to emerge in the last decade is a generally agreeable Irishman with a strong pacifistic streak.

Garth Ennis’ first stories in comics were a fairly restrained look at the Irish troubles and a far bloodier story about one teenager’s slight disillusionment with God that ends with him shooting his PE teacher in the face. But while still in his early 20s, Ennis got his hands on Judge Dredd, the most violent man in British comics, a man who has killed billions of people in the name of the law.

Ennis can now dismiss his early 2000ad work as clumsy and a little embarrassing, but his work does have validity, if only for his black sense of humour. His Dredd is a hard, hard man, and Ennis, with the help of Carlos Ezquerra, even managed to team him up with Johnny Alpha, the second most violent man in British comics. This led to the high point of Ennis’ early career, showing the two together, beaten but not broken on the very last page of the Judgement Day epic. Who the hell was going to mess with them?

When he inevitably made the leap across the Atlantic into the American market, Ennis took what he learned in the six-page narrative and applied it to a larger canvas. Many of his stories since have featured the stone-cold killer, from the hapless Kev, who managed to wipe out the Authority in three seconds while still being fairly unlikeable in every other respect, to Tommy Monaghan, who will destroy vampires because they just weren’t very nice, but let a deadly dinosaur go home because it wasn’t its fault some dickhead brought it to the 20th century.

Preacher may have taken 60+ issues to say that even a cowboy can cry and that you shouldn’t bloody hit women, but it also featured the Saint of Killers, the avenging soul elevated to godhood through sheer will and meanness. He spits on an attempt to wipe him off the face of the world with a nuclear weapon and ultimately rests upon the throne of God. While Ennis appeared to have reached the zenith of the archetype with this, he went further. There was more death, much more, to come in various series, until Marvel, in a rare display of sheer fucking brilliance, gave him The Punisher.

Sticking with the black humour for the first attempts of the character, Ennis has in recent years, turned Frank Castle into something else entirely. In the MAX series, and most notably in the Born mini-series and the Tyger, Cell and End one-shots, Ennis shows a man who has plunged so far into the world of dealing death that he becomes Death, walking the world and dealing it out as he sees fit. Luckily, Ennis also has a talent for creating truly reprehensible bad guys, people who deserve their fate because nothing else will stop them.

Often put down, this type of story, of somebody killing everybody who has done him wrong, is artistically valid. Often dismissed for genre trappings or excessive violence, it shares the artistic ghetto with Italian zombie films and pulp novels from the dawn of the 20th Century . But while the genre issue is only a problem if you want it to be, the amount of blood and gore and cruelty in these tales are necessary, racking up the intensity level while showing the seriousness of the situation, showing that things have gone too far.

Enjoying stories that see one person cut a swathe of destruction across the face of the universe is not a bad thing. It may be difficult to show that the inherent themes and subtexts of such tales are just as worthy as anything James Joyce shat out, but there is nothing to be embarrassed about here.

Unless you’re reading an early Image bloodfest. There really is no excuse for that.

26 Love Letters:

Blogger paperghost said...

Awesome writeup!

Can I possibly quote a few paragraphs from this (with linkback and attribution, of course) for something on my blog?

4:35 PM

 
Blogger Smith said...

Sure. Why not?

12:24 AM

 
Blogger paperghost said...

Excellent, thanks! :)

2:47 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breast Cancer odd
Common Breast Cancer Myths

The first myth pertaining to this disease is that it only affects women.

Second myth that is associated with this disease is that if one has found a lump during an examination, it is cancer.

Third is that it is solely hereditary

The next myth associated with breast cancer is downright ridiculous. Would you believe, that in this day and age, some individuals still think that breast cancer is contagious?

Conversely, some individuals foolishly believe that breast size determines whether or not one gets cancer.

Finally, another myth that is associated with this disease is that it only affects older people. This is not so. Although the chance of getting breast cancer increases with age, women as young as 18 have been diagnosed with the disease.

You can find a number of helpful informative articles on Breast Cancer odd at breast-cancer1.com

Breast Cancer odd

6:58 AM

 
Blogger Ayisha said...

Nice and knowledgeable gifts for everyone-
booksshelf
knowledge
books
liberary
kitaben
Books and references
books

12:22 AM

 
Blogger Iza Roberto said...

Kind regards

9:13 PM

 
Blogger Andrew said...

It's an old story, the wronged man out to get revenge. We've had it for a while. I'd wager you could build a case that a lot of the great works of Western literature hinge on the very premise (Hamlet, or the Iliad, for example). It's so old that it's easy to be jaded by the violence and the premise, and it's been done so poorly so often that people are quite right to laugh at it and reduce the motivation of the wronged man's rampage to "you touched my stuff."

I like the comment about Joyce. It puts it in perspective.

12:38 AM

 
Anonymous Dadzarro said...

Hello-ello-lo-o-o-o-o?

Where'd everybody go?

'Salright, I'll get the lights.

1:49 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

好秘书 中国呼吸网 肿瘤网 中国皮肤网 癌症康复网 工作总结 个人工作总结 半年工作总结 年终工作总结 单位工作总结 教师工作总结 教学工作总结 学校工作总结 德育工作总结 财务工作总结 医务工作总结 安全工作总结 乡镇工作总结 党员工作总结 团委工作总结 公司工作总结 实习工作总结 班主任工作总结 党支部工作总结 办公室工作总结 学生会工作总结 总结报告 工作报告 政府报告 述职报告 述廉报告 考察报告 自查报告 情况报告 调研报告 调查报告 申请报告 辞职报告 实习报告 验收报告 评估报告 汇报体会 工作汇报 思想汇报 汇报材料 情况通报 情况汇报 心得体会 学习心得 工作心得 培训心得 读后感 发言致辞 发言稿 开业开幕 领导讲话 动员讲话 庆典致辞 节日致词 新春致词 晚会致辞 追悼悼词 节目游戏 毕业致辞 思想宣传 组织人事 晚会主持词 会议主持词 婚礼主持词 常用书信 表扬信 感谢信 倡议书 责任书 承诺书 检讨书 申请书 保证书 决心书 悔过书 建议书 慰问信 邀请函 条据书信 礼仪文书 贺电贺词 社交礼仪 个人礼仪 商务礼仪 职场礼仪 涉外礼仪 饮食礼仪 节日礼仪 婚庆礼仪 鲜花礼仪 其他礼仪 交际礼仪

4:55 AM

 
Anonymous new house said...

companies marketing mineral makeups and also get the best bargains in mineral makeup you can imagine,
find aout how to consolidate your students loans or just how to lower your actual rates.,
looking for breast enlargements? in Rochester,
homeopathy for eczema learn about it.,
Allergies, information about lipitor,
save big with great bargains in mineral makeup,

change edition interviewing motivational people preparing second
,

interviewing motivational people preparing second time
,

interviewing people motivational preparing for a second time
,

black mold exposure
,

black mold exposure symptoms
,

black mold symptoms of exposure
,

free job interview questions
,

free job interview answers
,

interview answers to get a job
,

lookfor hair styles for fine thin hair
,

search hair styles for fine thin hair
,

hair styles for fine thin hair
,

beach resort in the philippines
,

great beach resort in the philippines
,

luxury beach resort in the philippines
,
iron garden gates, here,
iron garden gates,
wrought iron garden gates
, here
,
wrought iron garden gates
,
You: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger
,
eat eating mindless more than think we we why
,


texturizer,
texturizers here,
black hair texturizer,
find aout how care curly hair,
find about how to care curly hair,
care curly hair,
lipitor rash,
lipitor reactions,
new house ventura california,
the house new houston tx,
new house washington dc,
new house pa philadelphia,
san antonio tx house new,
house new pa philadelphia,
new house washington dc,
new house ventura california,
the house new houston tx,
house new san antonio tx,
the house new houston tx, that you are looking for,
new house ventura california, you need to buy,
new house washington dc,
house new pa philadelphia,
new house san antonio tx,

hair surgery transplant
,

air filter allergy
,

refurbished dell laptop computers
,

hair surgery transplant
,

air filter allergy
,

refurbished dell laptop computers
,

hair surgery transplant
,

air filter allergy
,

refurbished dell laptop computers
,

chocolate esophagus heartburn study
,

chocolate esophagus heartburn study
be informed,

digestion healing healthy heartburn natural preventing way
,

digestion healing healthy heartburn natural preventing way
,
sew skirts, 16simple styles you can make!,
sew what skirts 16 simple styles you,
rebates and discounts on sunsetter awnings,
sunsetter awnings discounts and rebates,
discount on sunsetter awnings


truck and bus tires 12r 22.5, get the best price,
tires truck and bus 12r 22.5 best price,
tires truck bus tires12r 22.5 best price,
plush car seat strap covers,
car seat strap covers,plush,
car seat strap, plush covers,
oscoda voip phone systems, the best!,
oscoda voip the phone system,
oscoda voip phone systems,
exterior iron gates,
oriental wrought iron gates,
powder coated iron garden fencing,

6:06 AM

 
Anonymous photo soft said...

black mold exposure,
black mold symptoms of exposure,

wrought iron garden gates,
your next iron garden gates, here,

hair styles for fine thin hair,
search hair styles for fine thin hair,

night vision binoculars,
buy, night vision binoculars,

lipitor reactions,
lipitor reactions,

luxury beach resort in the philippines,
beach resort in the philippines,

homeopathy for baby eczema.,
homeopathy for baby eczema.,

save big with great mineral makeup bargains,
companies marketing mineral makeups,

prodam iphone praha,
Apple prodam iphone praha,

iphone clone cect manual,
manual for iphone clone cect,

fero 52 binoculars night vision,
fero 52 night vision,

best night vision binoculars,
buy, best night vision binoculars,

computer programs to make photo albums,
computer programs, make photo albums,

9:39 AM

 
Anonymous naruto episode said...

my name captain, I like comic of japan of naruto episode

10:40 PM

 
Blogger Eddy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:16 AM

 
Blogger Eddy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:16 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

酒店
酒店經紀 酒店上班 酒店兼差 台北酒店 酒店打工 酒店工作 禮服酒店
酒店兼職 酒店PT 打工兼差
酒店喝酒 酒店消費 喝花酒 粉味

12:42 PM

 
Blogger Eddy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:47 PM

 
Blogger Eddy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:58 AM

 
Anonymous Eddy said...

Hi, I liked your post, was useful. I came across this post through a Google search and your post was relevant. Thanks. Check out this link. I think that you might enjoy it.
http://mafiawarscheats.ratereviews.net/

Thanks
Eddy

10:45 PM

 
Blogger go said...

很棒的分享~祝福你........................................

5:45 AM

 
Blogger didi said...

情趣用品,情趣,
按摩棒,電動按摩棒,
IC按摩棒,IO按摩棒,
G點,後庭,
AV女優,AV,
跳蛋,無線跳蛋,
變頻跳蛋,數位跳蛋,
跳蛋,跳蛋,
潤滑油,情趣精品,
SM,吊帶襪,
馬甲,角色扮演服,
角色扮演,充氣娃娃,
貓裝,絲襪,
褲襪,性感絲襪,
性感睡衣,睡衣,
自慰器,自慰器,
爆漿,自慰杯,
做愛,電動自慰器,
威而柔,高潮,
逼真按摩棒,振動按摩棒 ,
按摩棒,按摩棒,

12:36 PM

 
Blogger bgf123d said...

Such attentively manages your ~
.....................................................

4:16 AM

 
Blogger xc15ds5s said...

Such attentively manages your article ~
...........................................................

4:21 AM

 
Anonymous 2004 Chevrolet Tahoe AC Compressor said...

its nice to read a useful article for beginner like me. Some of points from this article are very helpful for me as I haven’t considered them yet. I would like to say thank you for sharing this cool article. Bookmarked and sharing for friends.

4:44 AM

 
Blogger sheena said...

VW Jetta Turbo
This is my Good luck that I found your post which is according to my search and topic, I think you are a great blogger, thanks for helping me out from my problem..

12:25 AM

 
Anonymous florida gator forum said...

Thank you very much for you perfect and useful post .it's really valuable.

2:52 AM

 
Blogger Riya Jacob said...

Such a nice post ! great love to read this one.

mumbai escorts
mumbai escorts
mumbai escorts
mumbai escorts

5:40 AM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home