Beauology 101: Marvel And DC Comics-Toning It Down And Turning Story Diversity Up

Your Writer Of Choice—Beau Smith Same Scowl, Same Channel.

Your Writer Of Choice—Beau Smith Same Scowl, Same Channel.


by Beau Smith

Thanos, Doctor Doom, Darksied; the big boys. We all know how The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, and The Justice League deals with these bad guys from the major leagues. We’ve seen our heroes sort them out for decades in print, and in the last few years, we’ve seen this spectacle of sparring partners go at it on the big screen with budgets that only Jack Kirby could imagine (and blazed the trail for).

How would Thor, Superman, or even The Hulk (in whatever version he’s currently in), handle what we’ll call…a smaller situation? Being old as dirt, I remember the spinner rack days of Avengers #1 and Showcase #4. I can vividly remember cases where, in one issue, Thor, hammer and all, takes on regular bank robber with .38 specials, and in the next issue takes on Loki and Norse giants the size of the Empire State Building—all at once.

Thor Has Street Cred As Well.

Thor Has Street Cred As Well.


In my opinion, DC Comics, more so than Marvel Comics right now, seems to primarily focus on “Big Event” confrontations exclusively. I kinda get that as a writer, but that’s more of my lazy writer side that tries to pop up now and then when deadlines are looming. A smart writer (that I work hard to try and be) should be able to show smaller confrontations as well as day to day interactions where the character’s personalities are truly revealed and unpeeled for the readers. Readers (which I am) want/need to see these mega powered characters, good and bad, in smaller, toned down situations and confrontations as well as, if not more than, the “Big Event” situations.

Blue Collar Crime Fighting. You Won’t Get That With Thanos.

Blue Collar Crime Fighting. You Won’t Get That With Thanos.


Spider-Man has taken on Big Crime, Mafia types for a good part of his first 100 issues; the same with Daredevil, Batman, and again, even Thor. They would mix it up with monsters and intergalactic threats now and then as well. It was a pretty good balance and always kept me interested as a reader. I’ll have to admit, I’m not as interested more times than not these days. I like cheeseburgers, but I don’t eat cheeseburgers every day. It ain’t good for you in the big picture. And the bigger picture is where we as writers should be looking.

We all ask for diversity in comics as far as creators and characters, but we should also “simplify,” or demand diversity in stories as well. Make stories relatable along with the fantasy, entertainment escape that most of us as readers seek in superhero comics books. To make them relatable, the stories, characters and situations might need to be simpler. By simpler I don’t mean “dumbed down,” but more human, more emotion related on a personal level. Let’s face a fact, who reads comic books?—HUMANS. Not dogs, horses or seaweed, but flesh and blood human beings. That’s who you have to relate with—every issue.

The Sub-Marianer Gets All Metrosexual Courtesy of The Human Torch.

The Sub-Marianer Gets All Metrosexual Courtesy of The Human Torch.


Mainstream superhero comic books are read for the most part for the incredible action and fantasy, please don’t try and deny that, but that doesn’t mean that every page in an 18 page comic book story should be slam, bam, jaw-busting action. That’s like getting in your car and stomping the gas pedal down to the floor and never letting up. If you do either, sooner than later you’re gonna crash, both in the car and as a comic book story. You’ve got to know how to finesse the curves, the banks, and the rougher roads. The same way with the comic book stories with superheroes. Those smaller situations, those stories where The Sub-Mariner is living with amnesia, hiding in the Bowery of New York have never really been revealed to readers. This was a time in Namor’s life where even though he has been out of the salt water for a long time, he is still far stronger than the normal man. He has wings on his feet and pointed ears—how did her live and interact in New York during those times? What situations did he come across before The Human Torch stumbled across him and “brought him back?” As a writer, I’d love to write that story. As a reader, I’d love to read that story. That’s just one small example of what’s out there to entertain that I don’t feel we as readers are getting and we as writers aren’t providing.

If you’re reading this, seriously think about toning it down a little. That goes for readers as well as writers. Ponder it. Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to post any reply saying what you think is the right answer that everyone else wants to read; think about what YOU really want.

I don’t want things simplified every issue, just as I don’t want every issue to be wall to wall carnage. (Yes, maybe I do.) I just want there to be a balance of both.

Bruce Wayne-Billionaire Playboy With Batman’s Attitude.

Bruce Wayne-Billionaire Playboy With Batman’s Attitude.


I care what Captain America bought at the grocery store after a week off fighting The Red Skull. I want to know who, as Bruce Wayne-Billionaire Playboy, goes out with on the weekend and just how does he keep earning that Playboy title….and most importantly…I wanna know what songs are on Wonder Woman’s Spotify favorites.

I think you do too.

Beau Smith

The Flying Fist Ranch

@BeauSmithRanch Twitter and Instagram

 

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