Been home from the Shire for a few days and like most recent MFA graduates, I have been doing my best to avoid writing at all costs. Therefore, in my finite wisdom, I decided to have a super hero marathon – this has lasted several days.  

I’ve watched Superman, Batman, X-Men (all of them), Wolverine, Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man (one and two), Ghost Rider, and even went as far as watching The Avengers and The Justice League animation series.  

Three days into my Super Hero Festival, I hadn't showered.  My English bulldog, Penny, with all her burping and farting wouldn’t come by me. I took a shower.

As I was removing the stench of stagnation, I realized my favorite super heroes have always been
from DC Comics, but my favorite super hero movies and TV shows are Marvel Comics.  How could this be?  Who doesn’t want to wear Hal Jordon’s ring, or take a ride in the Batmobile or Lois Lane. 

I just couldn’t understand why I enjoyed Marvel more than DC.  Then it hit me like a fight scene from the 1960s Batman and Robin TV series (the one staring Adam West): BAM! POW! SLAM! Stan Lee, the major creator for Marvel Comics, creates flawed super heroes. 

His heroes, and his villains, are character driven, not plot driven like DC Comics. Peter Parker is constantly dealing with the consequences of his past choices. Tony Stark has everything a man can want, but is alone. Ant-Man and The Wasp have relationship difficulties. The list goes on.
Even Marvel’s Villains have moments of clarity where the viewer or reader thinks they might give up their evil ways. In recent years, Magneto has become a popular Marvel villain. After being freed from the Nazis, Magneto teams with fellow mutant Charles Xavier to help other mutants.  After being betrayed by those he trusts, he decides there is no room for normal humans in the world, and vows to help create a world ruled by mutants.  There are times throughout the course of his storyline that Magneto seems to question his evil ways.  Not unlike the greatest villain, Darth Vader, who starts off as good, but when events turn, turns evil only in the end to save the day.  It is this human quality.  This glimpse into humanity that makes super villains likeable.  The chance of redemption. The Joker is just pure evil; no redeeming qualities. 

Good story telling is good story telling no matter what form the story takes, whether a literary novel, poem, movie, or comic book.  Great stories have great characters and those characters drive the story's arc not the plot. We want to see our characters in motion whether it be morally or emotionally.  We want them scared with demons and a past to overcome. We want to be invested.

Once there, we want some good fight scenes and many explosions. BOOM!

If literary fiction and nonfiction are defined as character-driven stories, then I will make the argument that comic books and graphic novels that follow the same disciplinary agreement should be considered literary, and thus, should be required reading in high school and colleges across the nation.

What better way to judge a society than by what society’s artists and intellectuals are debating and creating.  Comic books combine art: visual and written.  The stories contained inside the colored, stapled pages tell us of our pasts and let us foresee our future. Within those pages are stories of characters who struggle with their own sense of self, and just like us, they are flawed.  The only difference between them and what we call literary writers is they write in bubbles with pictures.


7/2/2013 07:02:44 am

Well considered post, JES. My next post will discuss the literary merits of porn.

7/5/2013 02:27:10 pm

Darren's been researching since puberty.

8/1/2013 10:55:14 pm

Enjoyed this one. I like being invested!


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