Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Wouldn’t it be cool if we had Superheroes?

No. No it wouldn’t be.

Since I sometimes get nauseas from reading too much a few days after each eye surgery, I stocked up on a few things to watch. One of those things was Justice League Unlimited animated clips from YouTube. There are some things that work better in print than they do in animation or films and vice versa of course. One of those things is battles. If Superman is fighting Doomsday in the middle of Metropolis, thousands of people are going to die. The animated JLU illustrates this in almost every episode with the massive destruction of property when two super humans fight. Take a look at this clip of Superman fighting another good guy, Captain Marvel aka Shazam.

If I remember correctly, this is a new housing project so no one is actually in those buildings. But in many other episodes, fights like this happen in well populated downtown and there are people inside those buildings. All of those people are dead or maimed for life. Buildings being shorn in half and then collapsing as two beings harder than steel go careening through them does that.

Heroes or villains are always slamming into buildings, having been punched there by another super being.

Of course, we all suspend our disbelief in order to enjoy the cartoon/comic/movie but as you start to get older you realize you have to work at it sometimes. Take Spiderman for instance. He has a lot of human villains that attack him. Like, say, Doc Ock. Doc Ock is only human but has four metallic arms. Spiderman is not considered one of the stronger superheroes. He has other things that make him a powerful person in the Marvel universe, but not his strength. In one reference I remember that he could lift about ten tons at maximum exertion. The same reference listed the Hulk as being able to lift around a hundred tons and more when he achieves maximum angry.

Ten tons is enough to lift a city bus. When Spiderman fights Doc Ock or the Vulture or any other human with normal strength and no power to resist damage, the reality is the fight is over as soon as Spiderman hits them once. There would be no dodging of Doc Ock’s arms for five minutes, get in a couple of punches, bounce away to avoid the arms, spring back in and hit him a few more times. No. It would be – avoid the arms, punch Doc Ock in the head once and his head explodes like an egg in the microwave.

In closing, I just want to say that while I have enjoyed some comics that have explored the more realistic effects on human civilization as two super beings battle around them, I much prefer to just suspend my disbelief and go along for the ride. But, having watched some JLU this week, I just felt like posting that observation.


  1. Kingdom Come is also a great example.

  2. Obviously I agree with the Superman vs. anyone else super strong comment completely. J.M. DeMatteis also once commented on the absurdity of "hypo thyroid jocks dropping buildings on one another" while seemingly harming no one in the process.[1] Nice to see someone in the business poking fun at such things.

    I don't entirely agree with the Spider-Man comment. Spider-Man (or another character) remarks on several occasions in thought balloons that he always pulls his punches to avoid seriously injuring his opponents and that if he didn't, he could have easily killed or maimed most of the villains who constitute his rogues gallery many times over.[2][3][4]

    However, there are times when this makes no sense at all, i.e., life or death situations. I am thinking specifically of the time Spidey was fighting to save the life of his then girlfriend the Black Cat as Doc Ock was attempting to make good on his vow to kill her (in retaliation for her stealing his nuclear detonator amidst the Owl-Octopus war, as you recall).[5] He hits Doc several times over the course of the fight which would suggest he was not even fighting at a fraction of peak capacity which, given the circumstances, is just bad writing on behalf of Mantlo. Another good example might be when he was fighting the Green Goblin outside the home he shared with Aunt May at the time and thought-balloon-commented that the site of them fighting might give his aunt a heart attack.[6] But in Lee's defense, Peter never landed a blow in that fight so in theory he still might have decked the Goblin in one punch.

    DeFalco is a guy who gets it when it comes to strength enhanced characters vs. normal toughness characters. I greatly enjoyed the fight between Spidey and Shriek where he knocks her out with the flick of a finger.[7] (But of course, that was before she learned to shield herself with a "sonic buffer zone.")[8]

    1. The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1, issue no. 397, Jan 1995
    2. Spider-Man vol. 1, issue no. 47, Jun 1994 [Pages 19-20: "Time to finish up, Demogoblin! But I'll do it without killing you. Though the thought has some appeal...all I'd have to do is stop holding back."]
    3. The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1, issue no. 238, Mar 1983 [Page 5, panel 3: "I wish I didn't have to pull my punches with these creeps—but if I didn't, it'd be a little messy!"]
    4. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 1, issue no. 56, Jul 1981 [Page 26, panel 5: "What's more, he missed me by mere inches...and I'm sure he did it on purpose! He could have hit me, but he didn't!" - Jack O'Lantern I (Jason Macendale Jr.)]
    5. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 1, issue no. 79, Jun 1983
    6. The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1, issue no. 39, Aug 1966
    7. Spider-Man Unlimited, vol. 1, issue no. 1, May 1993
    8. The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1, issue no. 391, Jul 1994