by Beau Smith
Let’s talk about Marvel and DC characters a little. Depending on your age and when you started reading comics, you no doubt have that time period wired into your brain and it makes a difference as to how you see the characters. Example: If you started reading Batman in the early 1960’s, then a part of you will always think of him with the Batcave, the giant penny, fighting bad guys like Gorilla Boss, and never having a story go more than one issue. A far cry from the Batman of the 1980’s when the “grim and gritty” trend began for him.
Neither is right or wrong, it’s just a matter of when you came to the party.
A lot of the foundation of how I see Marvel and DC characters was built in the 1960’s. I can mark down another change in my perception of them in the mid-1980’s when I became a comic book writer. Add to that even another layer when in the 1990’s I wrote most of the characters that I grew up with.
From 2000 on, I’ve noticed that with my writing and reading, I’ve taken on yet another layer to my thoughts on these characters, one that, to me, encompasses almost every decade of knowing them. I look at that as a very good thing. It gives me a variety of camera angles to look at these characters so that I can enjoy them more when reading their adventures and writing them (Which I need to be hired for more often. Do you hear that, Marvel and DC? Please say you do.)
Just the other day as I finished reading The Avengers #1, (Heroic Age by Brian Bendis, John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson) I found myself mentally summing up, in just a few words, my thoughts on who these characters and others were. By that I mean who they are to ME, in MY head. We all look at them differently, which is a good thing. If we didn’t, things would be really boring. My/our opinion on these characters isn’t always the way we saw them growing up or as they are written today. That’s the neat thing about it, because it goes to show how our own thoughts influence the way we read and write the characters. It also makes a big difference in why we keep buying comics. I feel that deep down inside, all of us think at some point the characters will one day return to, or change into, the same ones we used to read or want to read. All it takes is one or two panels of the characters acting like we imagined or saying a line or two of dialogue that we think they should say and we’ll continues to buy those books for decades to come. (Or until we take up residence in the Poor House.)
Take a little time to ponder that as you go through your latest comic book buys. You may find that a little of what I’ve said is right. (Being right always makes me happy, especially when others think so as well. Hear my ego inflating?)
Just for fun, I thought I would list a few Marvel and DC characters here and jot down my basic thoughts on who they are to me. Remind yourself of that when you read this. Not all of us will agree, but we’re free to not agree and that keeps thing from getting stale.
Iron Man: Smart, sophisticated, a bit egotistical, and used to being in charge. Admires loyalty and gives it when earned.
Batman: Driven always to be the best, almost to a fault. Doesn’t suffer fools. Not known for his sense of humor, but does have one although at times it’s a little dark and well hidden. Values his time alone, but also knows that he craves being with others, much more than he would ever admit. He is more than willing to be a teacher to those that are truly willing to learn.
Spider-Man: Wears his heart on his costumed sleeve and doesn’t try and hide it. Uses his very witty sense of humor to calm his own fears and angst as most normal people do when faced with dire situations. Even after years of having special powers, not a day goes by that he isn’t amazed that he can do some of the things he is able to do.
Captain America (Steve Rogers): Never has there been a more natural born leader. His presence alone brings out the best in others, even if they are more powerful than him. Although they will rarely admit it, his worst enemies respect him.
Superman: The core of Superman is to do what is right. Even if he had no powers at all, that core would never change and he would still seek to help others.
Hawkeye: Street smart. Emotional. Able to adapt in any situation. It takes a lot to earn his loyalty, but once you do, it’s there for life. Has learned a lot about leadership from Captain America and could step up if ever need be.
Jonah Hex: A man who has had nothing but lemons tossed at him all his life, but instead of trying to make them into lemonade he turns them into whiskey and rough justice. Want to stop him, then you’ll have to kill him. Good luck, amigo.
Invisible Girl/Woman: The mother of Marvel Comics. In reality, the true leader of the Fantastic Four as well as the glue that keeps the shoe together. She knows her teammates/family well and has always been able to inspire them and make them the best they can be.
Nightwing/Dick Grayson: The ultimate pupil. Incredible ability to learn, retain and separate the good from the bad on his own. In many ways he has become to the parent and Batman the son.
Wolverine: The last person you would ever want hunting you.
Wonder Woman: Warrior. Diplomat. Leader and the loneliest hero in comics.
Okay, there are just a few of the heroes and my thoughts on them. I could go on forever as I know you could as well, but they only give me so much space and they’re telling me that it’s time to shut up. Please feel free to post up your own comments here and let us know what your thoughts are on Marvel and DC heroes in just a few sentences. It’s harder than you think.
The Flying Fist Ranch