Monday, December 19, 2005
Why I Hate Saturn, Rann and Space Cabby
What do Swamp Thing, Starman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) and Superman all have in common? *
OK, besides that. That’s too obvious.
You’ll never get it….
Give up? The one common thread they all share is space.
It isn’t some bias that I’ve suddenly developed. It’s something I’ve discovered that I do. Sort of like sticking one’s hands down one’s pants while watching television. If you want me to continue reading a comic, don’t send your character into space. I will drop your book. That is not a threat. It is just the truth.
When a writer needs to explore a character’s humanity, they have some sick need to have that character bounce their humanity off an alien’s. We all know how these comics turn out, with our hero, hair blowing in some alien wind and framed by an alien sunset saying something dumb like, “Why did I have to go so far away just to appreciate what I have on Earth? Thanks you, aliens.” After witnessing the alien equivalent of a Mexican donkey show, I’d probably have the same feelings about America and Jade. (Hi, Kyle!)
Jack Knight’s father never visited the stars in order to become a better Starman. Ted Knight was Starman and dammit, that’s all we needed to know. Ted Knight didn’t need Space Cabby to show him the way home. Superman should know that whatever problems he had on Earth would still be there when he got back. For Pete’s sake, that’s the type of thing that in another time, Superman would have had to explain to Jimmy Olsen. “Wonder Woman In Space” did nothing for Wonder Woman other than expose the fact that she had no city or supporting cast worth defending.
The main thread that these space stories share is that the characters all went off to space in order to “find their way home” after some kind of soul-shaking personal event in their lives. I don’t know about you but I don’t read Superman for a monthly dose of super-heroic self-doubt. I read comics to reconnect with my humanity, not have it questioned. I know it may sound silly and cold but let’s be honest, we are not there for the superhero, we want the superhero to be there for us. If you wanna see me run away from a hero, all you’ve gotta do is have them whine. The space adventure has become the superhero equivalent of the therapist couch and we, the readers, are left to decide on whether or not we want to pay for the journey.
Space just leaves me cold.
* The author of this blog is the pround recipient of two "F's" in two sciences he never used anyway and one "D+" in Earth Sciences with which if he throws a rock at your head, he'll know if it's igneous or somesuch. Do not listen to him.