December 04, 2013

Superheroes as fascists

Richard Cooper at Salon.com says superheroes are just that -- "a bunch of fascists."

The main problem is force: sheer physical force, which lies at the heart of the superhero myth, something Steven T. Seagle observed nicely in “It’s a Bird…”, his poignant autobiographical graphic novel about his reluctance to write for a Superman comic, in which he points out that Superman triumphs by being able to move faster and hit harder than everyone else: essentially a fascist concept.

Chris Yogerst in The Atlantic has a very good rebuttal to Cooper. For example, in retort to Superman only being able to triumph because he's massively strong, he writes

We want to see good triumph over evil, and “good” in this case means more than just defeating the bad guy—it means handling power responsibly.

The “fascism” metaphor breaks down pretty quickly when you think about it. Most superheroes defeat an evil power but do not retain any power for themselves. They ensure others’ freedom. They rarely deal with the government, and when they do it is with wariness, as in the Iron Man films, where Tony Stark refuses to hand over control of his inventions.

Indeed, superhero tales are full of subplots about how heroes limit their own power: hibernating once the big bad guy has been defeated, wearing disguises to live ordinary lives, choosing not to give into the temptation to ally with the villain or use their powers for profit or even civilizational progress.

What can I add? I agree wholeheartedly.

If Cooper really wants to investigate how superheroes become fascist, he should read Mark Gruenwald's superb Squadron Supreme series and various trade paperbacks of The Authority. In the former (taking place in Marvel's alternate "Earth-S"), the obvious Justice League analogue team decides to take control of the planet after chaos ensues following the defeat of an alien super-intellect (which had, as it were, taken over the minds of the Squadron). Of course their intentions are "good;" however, they soon begin to dabble in very controversial areas like "modifying" the minds of convicted criminals so that they'll be "cured" of their criminality. Further, founding member Nighthawk (who had previously retired from the team and was actually president of the US when the alien had attacked) quits the Squadron precisely because he believes the Squadron will become like unto fascist overlords. Nighthawk eventually founds his own team (called the "Redeemers") to fight the Squadron. In the climactic battle, some members of both teams are killed, and the Squadron agrees to stand down and rulers.


The Squadron Supreme, circa their takeover of their Earth.
The SS was a not-so-veiled analogue to DC's Justice League.

The pinnacle of a left-wing wet dream comic, The Authority sounds right up Cooper's alley. The entire team is comprised of hardcore "progressives" who have no qualms about exerting their power over the planet for they perceive to be "the good of all," and ultimately end up executing a coup d'etat of the United States. Ironically, the TPB Coup D'Etat was co-created by Micah Wright, an outspoken anti-[Iraq] war activist who had claimed he was an ex-Army Ranger. He got ink in the Washington Post and air time on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!" show before real Army Rangers contacted relevant media to reveal Wright was an imposter. Caught, Wright had to come clean.

In The Authority Revolution trades, team arch-nemesis Henry Bendix unleashes a plan to oust the team from world power. The Authority ultimately defeat Bendix, but they give up day-to-day command of the US (and the world). They do warn the planet, however: "We'll be watching." Has Superman ever made such a warning? Batman? The Avengers?

For another lefty-gasm, Cooper might also want to check out Gail Simone's The Movement which is based on the Occupy Movement. It doesn't seem to be selling particularly well (gee, wonder why?), opening at the #74 spot in sales with its debut issue.

Posted by Hube at December 4, 2013 05:37 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

It continually amazes me that moonbat outfits like Salon.com hire people to write about things they know nothing about. Cooper doesn't know what he's talking about and Yogerst is dead-on in his rebuttal of Cooper's nonsense.

That said, I didn't like the Authority at all, largely because of the progressive politicking. I would, however, read the Squadron Supreme series by Mark Gruenwald. I should look for the trade sometime.

Posted by: Carl at December 4, 2013 06:26 PM

Oh, and speaking of that idiot Micah Wright, I haven't anything about his "comeback" for over a year. That's good. He's one person who doesn't deserve a comeback.

Posted by: Carl at December 4, 2013 06:28 PM

Gruenwald did it first! I think you'd dig the SS trade, Carl. Definitely look for it.

Posted by: Hube at December 4, 2013 06:28 PM

I definitely will. I know the Squadron primarily from their guest appearances in the Avengers and other Marvel Comics, and I always thought they were an interesting team.

Speaking of Wildstorm, I did read some of its other titles, and they were mediocre at best. Gen 13 had tons of potential but it couldn't decide what genre it wanted to be.

Posted by: Carl at December 4, 2013 06:42 PM

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