Print View

Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--The Marriage Penalty

Column by Steve Bennett

Published: 12/05/2007 12:00am

Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by retailer Steve Bennett of Mary Alice Wilson's Dark Star Books in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  This week, Bennett takes a look at what the Big Two area doing with some iconic characters, and examines blasphemy in comics.

Remember that whole 'kill Batman and turn him into a New God' thing I mentioned a couple columns ago?  Well DC claims that never had any such plan, though there is a rumor floating around it got quashed when someone in the Time-Warner corporate hierarchy heard about it.  Strangely enough it was felt DC's plans were inappropriate given The Dark Knight movie is coming out next summer (on July 18th, hey, that's my birthday).  If true it's more than a little sad when a corporate 'suit' is a better caretaker to the character than his publisher.

Though we'll have to wait an extra month to see if Joe Quesada's wish will finally come true and the Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson marriage will be annulled by Mephisto (who Tom Spurgeon of The Comic Reporter Website likes to call 'the devil in underpants'), Quesada's reasoning (besides the obvious 'I'm the boss, applesauce') being Peter can only connect to his adolescent audience by being young, single and ready to mingle.  Now I understand how magically finding yourself unmarried and on the dating scene again would be the fantasy of a lot of middle aged men, but I think Quesada is really overestimating the desirability of a part-time teacher, part-time photographer with money troubles.

What's really interesting about this horrific development is that Mark Waid and Grant Morrison wanted to do the exact same thing (sans satanic annulment) to the Clark Kent/Lois Lane marriage in their unused Superman proposal from a couple of years ago.  Frankly I wouldn't be at all surprised if DC did it now given that the current status quo isn't tenable.  Ever since Richard Donner became involved in the comics Clark has become a nebbishy bumbler a la Brandon Routh (which of course is just the Christopher Reeve version given Crispin Clover's hair); it's a classic Clark but in what universe is this guy married to Lois Lane?

I know superhero marriages generally don't make for good stories but I've always thought the Lois/Clark marriage had a lot of untapped potential; I mean, think about it, the only weakness of the most powerful man in the universe is he's helplessly in love with a woman who, to be generous, isn't very nice.  Seriously, do you think Lois is the one in charge of their Christmas card list?  No, it's all too human Clark, happily basking in her shadow as he endlessly defends her to his friends ('You just don't know her the way I do') or soothes over family conflicts ('Lois didn't mean it that way, Ma').  Now that's a Superman comic I would read on a regular basis.

Thanks to the imminent release of the movie The Golden Compass, based on the book by Phillip Pullman, various groups are busily denouncing it sight unseen.  Focus On The Family calls it 'blasphemous and heretical;' while The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is calling for a boycott of the film and books, claiming both are part of a stealth campaign to introduce children to atheism.

None of which has anything to do with comics, though Dark Star has certainly sold its share of the books.  No, mostly I'm using all of the above as a pretext to, just in time for Christmas; take another swing at the subject of blasphemy in comics.  Previously I took issue with the gratuitous taking of the Lord's name (a.k.a. The G.D. Bomb) in the pages of All-Star Batman and Robin, in particular, coming out of the mouth of Batman himself.

So it must seem like I'm a hypocrite when I confess one of my favorite comics (so good I actually buy it instead of reading it at work) is Doc Frankenstein.  Now organized religion has always been the main target of the series (in the previous issue we learned Jesus Christ received his 'powers' from a group of fairies) but the just released #6 is billed 'The Blasphemous Never Before Told Origin of God.'  Not surprisingly it turns out the god of Abraham and Isaac is not only (as Samuel Clemens so memorably put it) a malignant thug, but is also quite the douchebag. 

By any definition clearly this is blasphemy, so doesn't it offend me?  No, it doesn't.  Let me tell you why.

I can understand why a lot of people would be offended by Doc Frankenstein, if they actually knew it existed, then took the time to seek it out and got beyond the disclaimer on the cover reading 'WARNING: May Cause Near-Sightedness, Hairy Palms and/or Eternal Damnation.'  None of which can be said for a trumped up Batman comic that can be purchased at any Barnes & Borders.

But mostly I'm not offended because Doc Frankenstein contains ideas, ideas antithetical to all peoples of the book to be sure, but ideas nonetheless and reasonable people of faith* are not threatened by ideas.  I can read Doc Frankenstein and enjoy it as a story, the same way I've read and enjoyed Preacher and Chronicles of Wormwood without letting either work of fiction threaten or challenge my beliefs.

Though I am well and truly sick of the unchallenged worldview they present.  I'll get into that next time.

* I can understand how it's easy to forget such people do exist in a world where one of the mob who shrieked for the death of a British school teacher who allowed her class to name a teddy bear Mohammad carried a placard reading 'NO TOLERANCE, EXECUTION.'

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.

 
 
Remastered, Oversized 'Star Wars' Comics Collections
Beginning in May
Marvel will release new editions beginning in May.