On Superheroes Strength and Violence

Sometimes I hear the claims that superheroes embody the idea that violence is strength, and might makes right.  When I see the best of heroes like say Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America, I see something different.  At the very least when they’re written well.  I see the idea of violence being something necessary that good men must sometimes use.  Particularly when we see characters like Batman and Captain America face off against far more powerful foes they come out on top.  Why is that?  I like to think it’s because of the ideals these heroes represent.  The idea that it isn’t might that makes right but rather the inverse, right makes might.

When it comes to my own writing, you might think it odd that someone who draws noir would try to embody any ideals at all.  When I write, I see violence as something neither inherently good nor evil.  I see it as a tool.  It is a dirty, ugly thing and I try my hardest to portray that ugliness, but not as a means of denouncing violence.  Violence is something that’s sometimes necessary to achieve an end when all other options are exhausted.    It shows that doing the right thing isn’t always easy.  In fact doing the right thing can be the hardest possible thing to do.  It can require herculean effort to do the right thing, and through that heroes are forged in a crucible of violence.

In the case of Nailbat I wanted to put aside realism at the end to embrace the ideal of comic book superheroes brought out by literally turning Nailbat and Knell’s righteous spirits into fighting strength.  But at the same time it’s a compromise.  Doing the right thing requires sacrifice, and in this case it’s trading off a dwindling lifespan.

That’s what I’m aiming for.  That’s the kind of meeting point between ideal righteousness, and brutal reality I want to write.


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