Saturday, May 22, 2010

Marvel Comics: "Heroes Will Be Heroes Again"

First, there was 1985, with its "clear-cut" heroes. Then there was the "rebirth" of Captain America via the "hope" of Barack Obama. It's official: heroism is back. From Marvel.com:

Marvel Comics is proud to announce The Heroic Age, the dawn of an exciting new era of heroism in the Marvel Universe! Beginning in May 2010 with the release of AVENGERS #1, The Heroic Age ushers in a brighter Marvel Universe and a bold new era for the world's greatest super heroes as they emerge from darkness with a renewed sense of hope and optimism...

Over the past few years, the Marvel Universe and its citizens have found themselves living in a dark age of despair.... Now, the heroes have united once again, stronger than ever and are prepared to face the dangers that lie ahead.

"Our heroes have experienced some of their greatest trials and tribulations recently, but now there's going to be a renewed hope among their ranks," said Joe Quesada, Chief Creative Officer & Editor-in-Chief Marvel Entertainment LLC. "As our heroes emerge from the darkness, the Marvel Universe is going to be a more optimistic place than we've seen in a quite awhile. But that doesn't mean we're making things easy for our characters!"


I'll have more to say as this plays out, but for the moment: When Landon and I started this blog, it was partly to speak out against the denigration of the very idea of heroism to begin with. But since then, with a seemingly worsening world-scene, there has been a radical sea-change away from the "grim and gritty" school back to a defense of values. (Hard times will do that...). We'll see how this plays out; I doubt that I will be a fan of their brand of heroism, if it's of the self-sacrificial variety. The conflict in values is still a Tower of Babylon, and we're speaking different tongues. But for Marvel's recognition of the value in heroism, I think the phrase "Excelsior!" is still universal.

2 comments:

madmax said...

Joe,

I am greatly enjoying this blog. You are one of the few Objectivists that blog on the subject of heroes and popular fiction. I have a question that is only tangentially related to this post that I would like to ask. Could you at some point in the future blog on the subject of the "anti-hero". I think the concept of the anti-hero is an important one to 1) properly define and 2) philosophically analyze. I have heard it said that characters like Snake Plisken and Captain Mal from Firefly are anti-heros. But are they? I would think anti-heros to be the ultimate product of cynicism and nihilism. I would greatly love to read your thoughts on this.

Joe Maurone said...

Thanks, Max. I think Landon has touched on the topic, I haven't really addressed it except tangentially. Off the top of my head, though, my
problem with the term is that is seems like a misnomer, it doesn't seem like they're "anti-heroic" as much as they are "a-heroic" because of some heroic actions they sometimes perform. I'm tempted to say that it's probably
just the pomo way of smuggling in antiheroism, except that in some cases, I think it's more a matter of "Nietzschean" transvaluation of values, in the way that some of Rand's characters could be viewed as "antiheroes" according to Judeo-Christian values.

But with the dawn of Marvel's new "Heroic Age," it may be a good time to assess the "death of the anti-hero," since I'm wondering what this means for the likes of Wolverine, the Punisher, etc....