Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You Know What Bugs Me?

You know what bugs me? What bugs me is when a comic book creator bends over backwards to make sure that their favorite gets put over in ever story, against all odds, no matter how ridiculous or silly it may be. Logic and reason are tossed out the window, and any semblence of (sur)realism is trampled as the writer makes sure that his or her "golden child" ends up as the victor, no matter what the situation or circumstance. It bugs me to great length when I see this happening, and it starts to get under my skin when I see it happening repeatedly.

I, of course, refer to Batman beating Superman in a fight.

I know what you are saying. "Cmon Luke, isn't this a bit immature, even for you?" And yeah, it is. I admit that. But this is my blog, and dammit, it bugs me that Batman can beat Superman with alarming regularity for little reason other than the fact that he is more popular with fans and creators.

I mean... seriously.

Batman is a great character. I think everyone who reads comics has a minimum threshold appreciation for him. I've never met anyone who actively dislikes Batman. The range goes from "Yeah, Batman's pretty cool" to salivating adoration. But no one really hates him, unlike pretty much every other superhero character in the history of time. And I too am part of that range. I have never bought a Bat-book with any regularity (unless you count Batman And The Outsiders), but I always like the Adam West-era Batman, as well as Batman: The Animated Series, and enjoyed most of the movies and so forth. So I am not a Bat-fan, but I think he's alright.

The problem comes from the rabid Bat-fans who elevate him above all others. Furthermore, the problem comes then that a lot of creators are just this type of rabid Bat-fan. Which is fine, really, because people will like what people will like, and obviously Bats does pretty good for DC. But this business of Batman beating Superman in a fight just strains credibility to me, and if a superhero comic is straining credibility, well, that's a problem.

People: Batman is a guy with a ROPE and a BOOMERANG and a CAR. He cannot beat the pinnacle of physical development, who can fly, see and hear a mouse sneeze half a world away, see through walls, burn things by looking at them, change the course of planets, resist impacts up to and including nuclear bombs, and pretty much approach godhood in most definable ways.

(That sound you here is all of my readers storming off in disgust. At least, you would hear it if I had any readers.)

I get that Frank Miller made this fashionable. I get that DKR has pretty much defined Batman for my entire lifetime. But, come on people: this is getting a bit silly. Batman being able to beat meta-powered folks in hand-to-hand, I can buy that. Someone like Green Lantern is not as skilled in fisticuffs as Bats. Similarly, Batman outsmarting and outplanning a superpowered opponent makes sense for most of the DC pantheon. But for him to do this to Superman on a regular, recurring basis just boggles my mind. These stories (including the still-excellent Justice League: The New Frontier Special, which you should totally go buy) rely on Superman being an idiot in order to fall for Batman's traps. And not just an idiot, an idiot who takes the least-efficient way to do everything. I have to essentially forget that anything that Batman does has to be filtered through the "Batman is a Badass"-scope, and I just can't do that.

I understand that Batman is popular. Like, really popular. Really I do. But the madness must stop eventually. When you reach the stage where having Supes defeat Batman would be considered a daring creative choice, I think we've gone past the tipping point, and sanity needs to make a come back.

(This message brought to you by Guys Who Like Superman And Think He Could Totally Take Out Batman. "I'm Luke, and I approved this message.")


Diabolu Frank said...

I've had a similar post in mind for the Idol-Head that's been percolating in the back of my mind for years that I'll have to post soon. Suffice to say, ditto. Difference being, ever since the 90's my feelings toward Superman and Batman run the gamut from grudging appreciation to outright hatred. They're both douchebags who need as ass-whuppin' or six from Wonder Woman.

Rick L. Phillips said...

I admit I know Superman can defeat Batman but I don't recall it happening. When did that take place? I never understood why or when Batman over took Superman in popularity. When I was a kid and this was during Batmania in the 60's, Superman was the biggest character in comics.

Luke said...

Frank -- My appreciation of Batman is pretty much limited to the animated form. What can I say, I really dig B:TAS. BATO doesn't really count. I really liked Superman when I was in Junior High and into High School (read: 1992-1995 or so), but since then my interest in the 4 color adventures of the character has waxed and waned, with the exception of the soon-to-be-concluded Busiek run over in his junior title, and All-Star, which is pretty darn cool. It seems like a lot of writers aren't content to write Superman as Superman, but instead need to examine his frailties and faults in order to make a deeper point. A point which, frankly, I don't want in my Superman stories. Big Blue was published for decades without being relevant to anything other than science adventures and being a dick to Lois and Jimmy. Why does he constantly need to be in a state of deconstruction?

And I share your opinion about the Amazon Ace. I had little-to-no interest in the character outside of Lynda Carter for years and years. When she showed up in Justice League, I was drawn to her because she got a lot of spotlight early on, and I knew the least about her. But when she showed up in, believe it or not, Countdown to Infinite Crisis, and Blue Beetle gave his rundown of her, that was when I started really liking her. Go figure.

Rick -- I cannot think of a single story off the top of my head where Bats and Supes duked it out and Superman came out on top. Not one. I personally prefer the old World's Finest mentality, the "old chum" camraderie between them, but I can accept the "uneasy alliance" aspect as well. I think that a lot of modern superhero writers push Batman over Supes in part for their own fandom leanings, but also in part to avoid the ever-dreaded "obvious" and the resultant nerd-rage backlash. Sometimes the obvious thing to do is the right thing to do, but you wouldn't know that nowadays.

rob! said...

ironically, it seems to me the 2 most famous supes vs batman battles--Dark Knight and in the recent New Frontier special--are the two scenarios most "believable", because both times Supes is vastly underestimating Bats.

but any Supes vs Bats fights taking place in the regular DCU? sorry, Bats, Supes is microwaving your insides from 1,000 miles up.

Diabolu Frank said...

Yeah, I came to realize over time that Superman really is problematic in a shared universe, because he must come out clearly on top in every story, or else it isn't true to the character. Superman is not about frailty, although the 50's proved tragedy is okay. I relish instances of Superman getting his ass handed to him, but only in non-Superman books. Otherwise, you're betraying the character and his fans.

Also, quick reminder, the Superman/Batman fight was faked in "New Frontier." They were both in on the scam, perpetrated against the overbearing government.