Sunday, September 30, 2007


After my Marvel Vs. DC: Who Rules the Seas? post and reading the latest Aquaman, I've had a lot of time to evaluate my position and realize that I was completely right in picking Sub-Mariner as best King of Atlantis. This is not a statement on who's the better character, just in how the character is used.

Namor is not a superhero. Just because he was a member of a few groups does not make him one, especially in the Marvel U. He is an ally, someone heroes go to for support. He does not fight because it is the right thing to do, he does it to help friends who are real superheroes, like Captain America, the original Human Torch and Sue Richards. He can be King of Atlantis because it is his number one priority, as being the king of the most advanced civilization on the planet should be.

Aquaman is supposed to be a superhero. He spent more time doing the day-to-day running of the Justice League than anyone besides J'Onn and regularly patrolled the seas for trouble. This is not how a king should operate. Kings go to war to defend their kingdom, or to make sure their allies stay in power, not to save luxury cruiselines from pirates. Granted, being in the Justice League when they are saving the Earth or the universe from Despero or Starro or Kanjar Ro makes sense, but the JLA handle more routine crisis like natural disasters and UN peace missions. How would a king(a real one who actually runs the society) be able to juggle both superheroing and governing without his subjects feeling neglected? It's why Atlantis is constantly being overrun.

Reading Tad Williams' work on Aquaman, I can see how well Aquaman(even a fake one) works when facing a real supervillain, not just a usurper. He fought Vandal Savage and one of the most convoluted masterplans in comic history. We need Aquaman saving lives in his own series, not just while he's in the Justice League. It's okay for Namor to be a pompous ass, not one of DC's Big Seven. That's for the minor League.

In other comparisons, I can't see how anyone can see Jamie Reyes/Blue Beetle as anything like Spider-Man, besides the bug theme. Spider-Man is about two things: wise-cracking and guilt. Always has been since he let the man who would kill his uncle go free and made light of a cop's job while doing it. Peter Parker had to keep his identity secret from those closest to him and went out as Spider-Man because it was the right thing to do and to work out the troubles of his personal life. His earliest stories were almost always about his self-doubt and how he has to find the strength to overcome. Usually he had no one to rely on, and was more than likely trying to save his oddly elderly aunt.

Blue Beetle is something new entirely. I don't know if there has ever been a superhero whose personal and superhero lives have been as entwined as Jaime's. His family and friends are his support system for both aspects of his life, and that hasn't been done before. To see Jaime's parents help him cope with his new career and his web of friends help him combat reimagined second-rate villains is fantastic. John Rogers is writing a new take on teenage superheroics, very interesting and entertaining on it's own merits.

Beyond the fact that Blue Beetle and Spider-Man started their hero careers as teens, there is no real basis for comparison.


Gyuss Baaltar said...

Spider-Man is not about guilt, it's about lessons learned. Just like Batman isn't about revenge, it's about protecting the innocent.

I throw down the Blue Beetle challenge. Read the first 12 issues of Ditko Spidey, then the first 12 of Blue Beetle 3 and tell me if BB isn't carrying on the Ditko teen-hero tradition

Jon Hex said...

How many of Peter's friends knew he was Spider-Man? Who guided him to be a better hero? Did Peter have a superhero mentor?

Scipio said...

"He spent more time doing the day-to-day running of the Justice League than anyone besides J'Onn "

Darn tootin'. And yet people keep laughing at me when I talk about Aquaman as the real leader of the Justice League.

And you're right, I don't see the Spider-Man/Blue Beetle thing either. At the career point at which Jamie is visiting the Teen Titans Tower to hang out, Spider-Man was trying not to get captured by the Fantastic Four...