Heroes, Hardships, and Happiness
When I was reading comics in my teen years in the 80’s, I was reading back issues from the 60’s and buying the current issues of X-Men monthly. I always preferred Marvel comics since they were more “realistic” and well, more interesting. Writers and editors at Marvel gave characters lives outside of being a hero and problems that “real life” people face, like paying the bill as well as joys like dates and marriages. DC comics, with the new 52, has taken that idea on more than in the past. They seem to want to get as far away from the idea of the “Super Friends” as they can. But the dark and gritty can go too far.
DC recently refused to let the lesbian character of Batwoman marry her girlfriend in the pages of the comic. (Disclosure, I don’t currently read Batwoman.) The reason, according to publisher Dan DiDio, is that heroes can’t be happy. “Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.” Yeah, right.
I like conflict in a story. I like seeing characters have to think and yes, fight, their way out of tough situations. But I don’t need my heroes to be tortured day and night by their past/present/lack of future. In serial work, this just leads to melodrama and burnout for the readers. Give the character a break and you give the reader a break. I can speak from experience that when a show/comic/series gets too depressing, too melodramatic, I just stop watching/reading.
If DC wants to emulate Marvel more, perhaps they should look at the Northstar’s wedding. Not only did he marry his boyfriend in the pages of the Astonishing X-Men, Marvel sent postcards out to comic book stores asking readers to save the date. Good story telling for serial fiction needs to have a little happiness in it.