Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Holding Out for a Hero

As long as we are talking about superheroes, here’s a little thought provocation from Kurt Busiek, in his introduction to Astro City: Life in the Big City.

At this point in the essay, Kurt is talking about the complaint he often hears about the superhero genre, that the characters are too simplistic and that they are nothing more than symbols. He then lists several of the figurative views of heroes – Superman as the weak child wishing for strength; Captain America as American ideal, etc.

Then he says this:

“However – and you knew there was going to be a however, right? – what charms me about that objection to the superhero is the way it points out, in the guise of criticism, what to me is the greatest strength of the superhero genre – the ease with which superheroes can be used as metaphor, as symbol, whether for the psychological transformation of adolescence, the self-image of a nation, or something else. A genre that can do something like that – is that really a limitation?”

For a compelling introduction to Busiek’s work, check out Marvels, or my favorite graphic novel of recent times, Superman: Secret Identities – Busiek’s own take on the Heroes question “What would happen if someone discovered super powers in a non-superpower world?”

Just my thoughts,


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