Friday, June 23, 2006

That's it, I'm taking your comics away

From the New York Times:

CARTOON SUPERMAN never amounted to more than that for most people. But for a select group, early encounters with the Man of Steel wearing a molded bodysuit, knee boots and a shiny cape helped set the course of an erotic life. "Batman and Robin and Superman were all really exciting," said John Weis, the chairman of the Folsom Street East street fair, an annual event that kicked off Gay Pride Week in New York on Sunday. "Batman was always tied up or in some peril, and I thought that was really great."

You'll all get your comic books back when you can promise me you'll behave. But first I want you people to think about what you've done. Your mother and I are both very disappointed in you.


  1. I like the idea of categorizing the different kinds of Superman.

    Cartoon Superman hangs out with Bugs Bunny and Droopy, and played for a short while as part of a two-man act with the Quik Rabbit. He has much better public relations than his unacknowledge brother, Aryan Superman.

    Concerning the rest of the content of your post, involving Batman in bonda- NA NA NA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

  2. Then you definitely don't want to read this. I mean it. I'm warning you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

    Good catch on the Quik Rabbit connection! I'm not sure why Guy Trebay, writer of the NYT piece, felt the need to identify the character as if he thought readers might confuse him with one of the other Supermen. You know, like what happened when even Superman gave in to the division between red states and blue states.

  3. Heh.

    It was odd, reading the Superman-Makes-Everything-Perfect story. It doesn't really, you know, work from a dramatic standpoint, but it was kind of cool and wistful in its own way.

    Of course, superheroes can never really solve any of the world's problems in those comic books. The villain always gets away, or if he doesn't there'll always be another to take their place. Of course, to think that superheroes could really solve the world's problems would betray a fundamental misconception of both the nature of evil and human expectations of what our lives should be like.

    (Superman's hypno satellites to solve the problem of evil are kinda disturbing too. It strikes me that they're not so much shooting anti-evil rays as pro-conformity rays.)

  4. True. In a larger sense, the "imaginary stories" in Superman comics from that era were intrinsically pro-conformity and supportive of the status quo by their very conception. The idea was always to show readers something that couldn't happen in the "regular" Superman stories -- something that would radically alter the whole premise of Superman, such as marrying Lois or ending all crime on Earth or rebuilding Krypton -- and it was almost obligatory that those things could not be shown as leading to better stories. Because if they did...why not just do them as "regular" stories and change the premise of the series accordingly? The ultimate message of an "imaginary story" had to be that, no, we really do have the best of all possible Supermen.

    This was a very upbeat one, and possibly less interesting for that. There's one where Superman ends up marrying Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and Lori Lemaris in fairly rapid succession...because upon marrying each one, the bride dies tragically very shortly thereafter. I cannot imagine what sort of impression of marriage this gave contemporary children. The darkest "imaginary story" I can remember is one from 1969 which opens at the empty grave of Lois Lane -- Superman's wife having been disintegrated by one of his foes, leaving Superman to raise their five year old daughter Laney as a single parent. Poor Clark Kent is given the job of assembling a scrapbook of the ill-fated Superman/Lois romance by an oblivious Perry White...a grief-stricken Superman takes up with a robot duplicate of Lois in his Fortress of Solitude...then Laney is disintegrated by red kryptonite before his eyes...this one pulls out all the stops in tear-jerking! (But it's spectacularly well written and actually does have a happy ending.)

    Anyway, we've gone astray here from the topic of comics-inspired sexual fetishes. What I learned from Superman comics is that everyone should marry a robot, because flesh-based spouses will die tragically. Wait, no, I actually learned that from Futurama...

  5. Good points about the imagination stories. Although thinking about it a bit... it seems evident that it strongly implies that Superman continues because he actually has a character flaw: Superman could solve all his, and the world's problems, if he'd just take a bit of a risk and make himself super-smart with that head zapper thing. He only does it when an outside, father-like force,, the citizens of Kandor, demand that he do something about it. Who would have thought Superman was a slacker....

    There's one where Superman ends up marrying Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and Lori Lemaris in fairly rapid succession...because upon marrying each one, the bride dies tragically very shortly thereafter.

    What, the mermaid? Wowsa. As Fry discovered, there's kind of a problem with that, one I don't think even Superman could overcome....

    It strikes me sometimes, in my occaisional reading on comic books, that Superman used to be quite cool at times. The original Lex Luthor, the one who went to another planet and found an alien race to rule who genuinely looked at him as a hero, and who decided not to disappoint them... THAT is an interesting character. I'm kind of sorry I missed that.

  6. You mean this one? Oh yeah. Still impresses the hell out of me. I remember it as a full-blown epic...but the evidence shows it all happened in seventeen pages.

    The premise of a world where Luthor is a hero was revisited much later with pathetic results...but the concept of a sympathetic Luthor was something Superman writer Elliot S! Maggin got a lot of mileage out of, starting with this story, and even more with his two Superman novels. Superman's sense of responsibility for creating Luthor (in this version) and losing a friend ties neatly into the next point...

    It's not that Superman's a slacker. If anything, he's the opposite. He's continually crushed under the responsibility of always having to be right. If he slacks off, or goofs around, or makes a bad choice...the results could be horrifying. He can't take a risk or push the envelope, because it might go wrong and then he'd be responsible for a worldwide disaster. (It fits in with that massive case of survivor's guilt he has, see?) He has to be perfect al the time. It's not that he's the boringly perfect eternal boy scout, but that he feels he has to act like he is. And that should be the great tragedy of the character.

    LOL at the Futurama reference! In all these years of overthinking Superman, I never made that connection. But Superman can only date girls whose initials are "LL" so that kinda limits his options. Unless Lene Lovitch isn't seeing anyone at the moment...

  7. Yeah, that was the one. It's awesome, IMHO. One of the greatest things about the several recent DC animated series is how they will frequently make the villains into sympathetic characters, like the one where Penguin falls in love, or the one where Harley Quinn tries to go straight. Not really good, but not entirely bad either. Maybe I'm just a big milksop for believing no one is irredeemable, but nothing turns me off a story like a moustashe-twirling villain (no offense to Snidley himself, of course).

    No great villain can be entirely bad (a lesson the writers and directors of dozens of summer blockbusters could stand to learn), and Luthor had admirable qualities.... at least, until this version of the character was retconned out of existance by Crisis. And even before that, I seem to recall reading that a later writer blew that planet up.

    That Superman In The Sixties book looks rather cool. Maybe I should get a copy some time....


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.