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David Hines [userpic]

landed safely

May 12th, 2004 (12:23 am)
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...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.

Comments

Posted by: Vvalkyri (vvalkyri)
Posted at: May 11th, 2004 10:58 pm (UTC)

Glad you had a good landing. If you don't want to put political stuff on this lj, create a second one. Then if you get 'round to the moveable type thing go mirror it or something. But I'm lazy so shall probably forget to read what you write then...

Posted by: Nos (nos4a2no9)
Posted at: May 12th, 2004 09:41 am (UTC)

Yeah, I feel the same way (about writing Batman vs. wanting to be Superman). His supporting cast really contributes to his character - sometimes I notice, in one-shots, that I'm constantly expecting Robin or Nightwing or Batgirl to show up.

Did you agree with that whole "feminine mode of operation" arguement I used? That the lonely male hero motif isn't very popular at the moment, and people prefer to read about a community of close-knit individuals and characters?

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 13th, 2004 09:33 am (UTC)
pointy teeth

I agree with the popularity of the ensemble books, but disagree with it being a "feminine mode of operation." Doc Savage and his five aides, for example, were about as un-feminine as you could get, but the banter and deep friendship they shared are a huge part of what makes their adventures such a delight. See amplification at your LJ.

Posted by: scrollgirl (scrollgirl)
Posted at: June 10th, 2004 06:31 pm (UTC)
dcu supes/bats scrollgirl

Saw your post surfing friendsfriends and wanted to comment. I agree that Batman's ensemble is so much more intriguing, more three-dimensional than Superman's ever will be. I suppose this is why I often want to read SV characters into comic!Superman storylines, especially in fanfic where sometimes the lines blur anyway. While SV has its bad points, at least the cast of characters are more varied and have their own personalities and agendas. Projecting a future Pete and Chloe and Lana --okay, maybe not SV!Lana -- into Superman's life, characters with history and their own lives that don't necessarily jive with Clark's, gives Superman dimension he otherwise wouldn't have.

Of course, there's the other problem where SV canon and comics canon conflict. And I'm not sure there's ever going to be a way to resolve SV!Lex with comics or toon!Lex.

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