Reading the latest, newest, biggest can’t-miss-crossover-story-of-the-year-that-will-outshine-everything-that-came-before-and-whose-implications-will-be-felt-long-after storyline “Avengers vs. X-men” issue #1 I realized that super heroes truly have some conflict management issues and are potentially bad influences on the youth of America(and yes, the world).
Comic books once served as allegories for real world conflicts and issues. Am I the only one that learned vocabulary and morals from the pages of the Uncanny X-Men and the Avengers? Isn’t Superman supposed to represent the ideal moral compass for all others to judge themselves against? Comic books established themselves long ago as a medium to transmit life lessons. Just like those public service announcement commercials that teach you not to talk to strangers, to just say “no”, and that sharing is caring because knowing is half the battle. Comics are little more subtle but then again they don’t insult your intelligence. It’s good thing. It’s a sign of maturity.
Upon further analysis the evidence seems to be one of the central messages delivered in comic books pitting of hero versus villain issue after issue is that when the bad guy makes you make hit him as hard as you can. And the lens that this message gets delivered through just becomes more and more creative. Admittedly a lot of children’s programming sends the same message. But we’re working in comics(for now) so I’m sticking to that. Every kid has probably had that feeling of wishing for superpowers to solve their problems whether it’s to earn some extra money to pay the bills or to get the class bully off your case. Who wasn’t cheering inside the first time Peter Parker stood up to Flash Thompson and delivered the message “no more. not today. not ever again.”? Ahhhh, the triumphs of adolescence. But the problems of the real world loom a lot larger.
As “AvX #1″ showed, no, Captain America can’t just find a polite way to work with Cyclops to solve the impending peril of the arrival of the Phoenix force for the sake of the planet. Instead it’s a delivery of ultimatums and hurt feelings that turn to a line drawn in the sand with my friends and your friends on opposite sides posturing and trash talking. And that’s between “friends”. Or at the least co-workers in the hero saving-the-universe side of the spectrum. Good example guys. The Young Avengers, New Mutants, and the Runaways are watching you and that’s how you want to show them diplomacy works. Ohhh, you’d rather draft them to the front lines as more ammunition. Greaaaaat. Our youth are in good hands. The villains can go on vacation. Sure, we all know it’s going to end in a big misunderstanding and a reluctant joint solution probably with some hero making a sacrifice because that’s what heroes do. And everyone will get in their expensive overly designed aircrafts to go their separate ways having learned an important lesson. That is until the next big crossover of the year.
Fortunately video games, tv/movies, and the UFC are doing a great job of supplementing the violence for the kids. That’s sarcasm folks. That thing that doesn’t translate well in writing. Just making it clear. Anyway it’s not often that Mr. Evil Man bursts through the wall seeking to hold the city hostage for a gabillion dollars. So the battle of good and not-so-good is left to be played out in other arenas. Like the living room with brother and sister or the classroom with friend and annoying classmate or the store with child versus but-I-really-want-it-nowwwww. Or in worst cases when those lessons have become ingrained in a negative fashion over time then it’s in the bedroom between husband and battered wife or the neighborhood streets with doo-rag versus rival gang color or in the club with steroids against you-looking-at-my-girl-bro. It can get epic fail pretty quickly.
I’m more of the passive-aggressive sort anyway. It was somewhere in the third grade after an unpleasant visit to the principal’s office when I took the injustice of being cut in line at that day’s four-square match on the playground into my own hands that my aggression got pushed down inside of me to brew and bubble for another day. Which is probably why I can identify a lot with Bruce Banner/Hulk because, trust me, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. People perceive me as the pleasant sort most of the time because I really don’t turning to the dark side. Especially since I get that same furrowed brow and fire in my eyes as Anakin did when he was fighting on top on lava. Although more huffy puffy and less pouty and whiny. So instead I keep angst and frustrations boiled up until the pressure cooker can’t hold its seal and then I’m Amare Stoudemire in a glass house. I’d be happy resolving my conflicts with the silent treatment and hoping you read my mind to address my gripes but it doesn’t seem to work too well.
In recent interviews for “The Avengers” movie Joss Whedon has spoken on the need for superheroes to battle foes that can be solved with their fists or lasers or bullets because well, they just don’t work as well on “poverty” or “hunger”. Or the rest of the list of the world’s ills. As Mark Ruffalo says, “It’s hard to smash your way to a positive outcome.” Those take the united might of millions. And a whole lot more time than even the extended director’s cut of the film. Those are real problems that are a lot scarier than any alien army. Superheroes are supposed to provide the catalysts to enact change. The film’s issues of community and teamwork in the face of ego, glory, and individuality seem to speak even more loudly and pronounced when accompanied with explosions and 3D CGI special effects. There are a lot of themes to be garnered from the tales of heroes, super or otherwise, saving the world. But with the great powers let’s just try to work a little harder to make sure people are getting the right ones.
Positivity and great responsibility+++=