May 12th, 2004

bruce and diana

landed safely

...and Ghod, I'm glad to not be building a fence any more.

I'm getting tempted to put some news/political posts on here, but have resisted that so far. Not because I wouldn't like to have a blog of that sort, but I told vvalkyri that if I did, it wouldn't be on my LJ, which I figured I'd reserve for fanfic and related stuff. So not sure what I'll do about that.

Ran across some talk on nos4a2no9's site on supporting casts in comic books. I think that Batman's great supporting cast is a large part of his appeal. I'm not talking about the villains, like Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, and Two-Face, but characters like Alfred Pennyworth, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Barbara and Jim Gordon, Leslie Thompkins (about whom I plan to write later)... they're always interesting, and there's a zillion naturally-arising conflicts that can give rise to an interesting story (or throw a new light on some aspect of an unrelated one). Spider-Man has always had a magnificent supporting cast: Aunt May, MJ, the Staceys, Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson. Superman's supporting cast, meanwhile, sucks. Perry White and Jimmy Olsen are functions, not people. The Kents aren't too bad. I confess that Lois Lane has pretty much always bored me to tears; I have no clue what Supes sees in her. (The animated Superman's Lana Lang, however... rrrrRRROWWRRR.)

So why do I feel this way? Why do Batman and Spider-Man's supporting casts work so memorably, and Superman's much less so?

I think it has to do with their being integral to the hero's travails. Batman's supporting cast knows of his mission, takes part in it, and is drawn into internal and external conflict as a result. Spider-Man's Aunt May knows about his superheroing now, but that's a recent development; for most of his history, his supporting cast has known him only as Peter Parker. But Peter Parker has had his own difficulties to face, and his supporting cast has been heavily involved in that.

Superman's supporting cast... well, what do they do? They serve as a sounding board for Superman, or as plot devices. And that's about it. Character conflicts within Superman's circle, when they do arise, often come through circumstance. Not through fundamentally different views on life, the universe, and everything. In the Superman comics I've seen, the closest Superman gets to that stuff, really, is with Superboy. And with Batman; that's what makes their team-ups so interesting.

Which may be why Superman comics really don't do anything for me. If I had to choose between them, I'd like to *be* Superman -- but I'd like to *write* Batman.