Generic Column Opening (ripped off from Keith Giffen)
Question that suggests in a humorous way the answer to a comic-book related issue. Answer that suggests that reading this column is the solution to the aforementioned question.
Statements that express the writer's irritation with the appropriate aspect of the comic book industry without actually specifically offending anyone in the industry that the writer or his wife might want to have in their corner someday, with the exception of Rob Liefeld.
Exhortation to the reader to read this column and become more enlightened as to this aspect of the industry, in particular what they might do to (by dint of reading this column) stamp out this month's terrible wrongness in the fabric of the all that is fandom and/or geekery.
Smug assurance that the Silver Age is outmoded and that everything for which the reader blithely pays 2.99 for every week is wrong, with the exception of certain manga titles and possibly New X-Men and Ultimates.
Query as to why the reader doesn't change his, her, or its ways and thereby change the industry, fandom, geekery, and/or the world/omniverse itself.
Insert final, opening tagline:
The following cliches that must ALSO die (by Barb Lien):
(Note: while superheroes are often referred to as “he” in this piece, many of these cliches can also be applied to superheroines. Having just written over fifty cliches in one sitting, the author of the piece just can’t be arsed to be more gender-specific. Appy-ollie-oggies in advance)
--Afros. It seems that EVERY African American I’ve seen in comics lately has one and is wearing 1970’s SHAFT-style clothing. Let’s get rid of blaxploitation cliches and start putting realistically-written minorities in comics.
--Framing a superhero.
--Putting a superhero on trial for murder.
--Making the superhero team fight on foreign worlds.
--Blackmailing a superhero into doing the superhero’s bidding.
--Being a supervillain and creating your own version of the superhero or superhero team.
--Your superpowered pet whatever grows big or grows mean and you have to fight your fave animal friend.
--Orphans whose parents return, only for us to find out that these aren’t REALLY the kids’ parents.
--The non-powered friend of the superhero that is somehow, through mind-control, GIVEN superpowers and forced to FIGHT the hero.
--Innocent people in general who are mind-controlled, given superpowers, and sicced on the superhero.
--Battles outside planes, where anyone is forced to stand on the wings to fight. These fights never seem to take into account either a) the weight of two or more people on the wing might cause the plane to crash or b) the sheer velocity of the wind would blow the two or more people of the plane instantly.
--Non-invulnerable beings falling out of planes without parachutes and somehow managing not to die.
--People without any experience parachuting just strapping on a parachute and floating to the ground like a snowflake. Parachuting is a SKILL. It requires classes or an experienced parachute expert being with you to be done right. Just ask Jamie Summers. Or Scott Summers.
--People swimming deep, deep underwater but somehow still TALKING to each other normally.
--Superheroes with no social lives. Think about it. If your work mate never joins you for drinks or dinner or any office social events, keeps to himself, disappears at odd times, just when crimes are being committed, you’re either going to peg that guy a superhero or a psychopathic nut case. The POINT of a secret identity is to seem NORMAL, just the average Joe.
--Huge panels with maybe three words a page on them. When you think of how much writers are PAID in the industry and you see how few words are on the page, don’t you feel CHEATED, as Johnny Rotten once put it?
--Indie superheroes or mainstream ones that are all-but-clones of mainstream ones.
--Superheroines whose dates/boyfriends turn out to be villains. Three words describe how stupid these heroines start looking after awhile/how messed up psychologically they must be to always pick the wrong guy: Birds of Prey.
--Superheroes that speechify while trouncing the supervillain. Heck, the average person can’t work out for five minutes on a stairmaster without panting for breath. But, the superhero can beat a villain to kingdom come WHILE reciting a “crime doesn’t pay”/have to do this even though I have no strength left/you were a hero once/come back to helping humanity instead of hurting it” or name your cliche type speech without having to STOP for breath.
--Supervillain teams like the Injustice League where villain/hero fight is always matched up by gender. Why should the Cheetah always have to fight Wonder Woman, for instance? Wouldn’t she have more luck fighting a NON-metahuman like Batman?
--The distopian future where everything’s so awful that only the most extreme post-Punisher type heroes can hope to take on the street scum, which (honestly) was just a reaction to the utopias in sf/comics---or just the result of some writer seeing Blade Runner WAY too many times. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a future that’s neither better nor worse than the present, just DIFFERENT?
--Mutants that are MISERABLE. Sure, they are opposed minorities. Sure, they are either gifted or physically challenged in some way. But, even under such horrific and unfair circumstances, people are leading rich, full lives in the real world. There are heroes in our world who survive and flourish in spite of discrimination, hate crimes, jokes at their expense, under-representation in creative industries, or any other thing that makes life less fair for them than the silent majority.
--The initial superhero team-up/misunderstanding that leads to a fight, then they resolve it just in time to team up and stop the real evil du jour.
--Any case where the hero exchanges bodies with his supervilain, sidekick, team, girlfriend, potential love interest, or family dog.
--Variation: any time the hero wakes up surprised to find himself in a worn-out, sick, non-powered body.
--Subset: the way his oldest friends initially reject the hero’s claim to be who he is. You get this image of crazy people coming up to WayneTech every day saying, “I’m Bruce Wayne. The Joker planted my brain in this homeless person’s body!” the way that such claims are handled in comics. You’d think in a universe where they fight a giant STARFISH or one in which has battled a planet eating godlike creature with a Surfer dude for a lackey that people would be more openminded about such claims.
--A variation on number 81: the foolishly disbelieving cop. The last appearance of said cop type was in a recent issue of Warrior Nun Areala. In this case, the cop knows that he lives in a universe where Nuns in fetish gear are hired by the Vatican to fight supernatural battles, but he can’t accept there’s a soul-sucking DEMON on the loose? The Vatican didn’t send their soft-core fantasy nun to battle JAYWALKING, for Pete’s sake! But, it could be any cop in any comic book city at any time. We’ve seen them all scoff in the face of a RELIABLE hero about one thing or another and TRAGEDY is narrowly avoided as a consequence. If you live in a city full of superheroes and supervillains, you probably should take the word of the superhero for gospel.
--Oh, what about the two guys that look exactly alike, but one’s the villain and one’s the hero? Oh, which to shoot? Why, the one who doesn’t say “Shoot me or shoot both of us, that way you’ll be sure/safe”, that’s who.
--The introduction of a hero’s mentor/teacher that we’ve never heard of before nor will we ever hear of again after that flashback story.
--The villain that must tell the hero in recap form the entire plot/evil plan before killing the hero while the hero just stands there. If I were the hero, I’d kick the villain in the nuts the second he opened his blow hole and be done with it. (Park: Thou art a harsh mistress, Quote Lass.)
--As a related point, the hero that is so stupid that the villain feels the need to explain the plot/evil plan because the hero just doesn’t get it.
--Ye olde, “If we weren’t on different sides, we might have been friends”, “you know, we’re a lot alike”, “I’m your shadow side”, “we both wear masks”, attempt to make the villain into the hero’s psychological doppelganger motif.
--Someone without superpowers goes to the hospital and gets a head injury, but their head is never shaved to get to the wound. Or, the alternative, the person is covered with bandages from injuries, but they never, ever bleed onto the bandages. Now, we at the Park and sometimes Barb Show can’t even get a paper cut without producing a bit of blood on a band-aid, but these comic book people can get every bone in their body broken without a bit of blood on their bandages.
--Incompetent/stupid cops. You know why criminals flock to Gotham in spite of Batman? Because he’s the only competent crime fighter in the city. He’s just one guy. The odds are that the crook won’t encounter him. (Park: You're forgetting the Bat-Crime Detector built into the Batmobile. Every night that baby plans the most crime-stopping-efficient route through the city. It's all part of the excellent service provided to Batman by the OnStar satellite navigation system.)
Next time: Yer darn right more cliches. The kids seem to love 'em.
PS: Use the link that's built into my name at the top of the page to write to us if you are an artist, preferably not manga, good enough to do real comics, like, say, horror comics. By real comics I mean not mini comics, just sketches, or just ripoffs of the traditional mainstream superhero poses and anatomy. Wife needs artists. More artists! MORE artists for wife! Artists good! Fire bad! Must be able to complete, and I mean actually complete, at least a page a week. If you've never tried it, stop laughing and go try it, THEN decide if you should laugh or not.