Love, Capes, and Suburban Weirdness
There are times when I find myself reading some comics that I would never have expected myself to get into. I mean, I grew up on Marvel (DC being mostly cartoons and movies for me). I had the original four issue miniseries for Wolverine when he was first introduced, by golly. And yet, I still find there are times when I am reading some of the most bizarre stuff that doesn’t fall into the necessarily “super hero” category.
That is to say, over the past number of years there have been several comic strips I read that are the ongoing tales of the characters’ lives. A couple of these are college age kids and the stuff they are going through as they discover the world around them. And then there are the strips about gaming groups and the games they are playing (some going over the details of how to play games and others actually showing the adventures of the characters they are playing… it’s a bit meta).
Which brings us to the thoughts today…
So, it was last month that something odd crossed my recommendations list. The first was Love and Capes (IDW Publishing 2008). This being a story of a woman’s relationship with a Superman styled hero. The art style and the storylines are very comic strip in their look and feel. You can almost feel the sitcom nature of it as you go from panel to panel. The next one is Grace Randolph’s Supurbia (Boom! Studios 2012), about a neighborhood filled with super heroes and their spouses. This one has more of an hour-long drama to it. It’s a bit funny when you look at them side by side because it is a bit like comparing friends to something like Law and Order. And I can hear you groaning right now that my analogy seems completely off base. But bear with me a minute or three.
I’m going to balance the comparison a bit before I dip into other thoughts. See, in a show like Law and Order, we see a bit more of the law and order than we do of the character’s lives. Sure, that stuff comes into play and there are times when we are digging deeper into their lives, but for the most part everything else revolves around the job that needs to get done and how they go about it. And in a show like friends, the jobs they do are more of a back drop to the life they are living outside of work. Yeah, it’s a bit like that. And then the nitty gritty of production comes into play to give the mood and atmosphere of the shows. Really probably the most important aspect of the visual interpretations is how mood and atmosphere are portrayed. Right, pretty much a character in the story on its own.
So, I have this thought I am attempting to drag out of my mind about this but it is eluding me at the moment. I want to say something about the production and the choices the creators made to arrive at their destinations. See, it isn’t just the actors that make or break the stories in these. Though, they do play an important role. Getting the setting right to make it come together gives us the stories that we expect in either instance. In that light, let’s look at a storyline like friends. Now change the mood and atmosphere to something more in line with Law and Order. Suddenly, Joey getting a turkey stuck on his head takes a much darker turn.
But I digress…
Let’s take this a step or three back into the stories we started with today. The idea of Love and Capes is an interesting one. In a way we are getting a glimpse of what a relationship between Superman and Lois Lane could be like. If we were too examine this in a more serious manner, we would end up with essentially the Comics line that has been around forever. It definitely wouldn’t have the flavor of this particular comic. But I think the storyline of Love and Capes does it justice based on the presentation. Because the hero is pretty much the perfect at everything hero like, there isn’t as much concern for him doing his hero job. Sure, there are the lost moments as he dashes off to save this or that and do the general superhero gig. But it is in his leading a normal life that we are able to see the shades of nuance that we wouldn’t have seen in other forms stories like this. You need a bit of that sitcom mentality to allow some breathing room.
Whereas, the storyline of Supurbia falls more in line with a number of the super hero dramas that have been coming out in recent years. It’s a bit darker than something you might see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I would liken it a bit closer to the darkness of the Netflix Marvel series. We have quite a bit of their life outside of heroing while at the same time looking on in suspense as the families might of newscasts of major battles. We are given a view of the world they live in that we wouldn’t see otherwise. There is a darkness to it that brings it to something maybe a bit darker than the real world. Bad things happen, and the repercussions are worse because of the line of work they are in. We are faced with genuine worry that the heroes might not survive.
Anyway, the different takes on the stories works for what is intended. As we find in so many things, one may not be something you want to explore while the other could be right up your alley. For me it is the contrast between the two different storylines that gives me something to bite into. I like having the different choices of where my mind is at when I look for entertainment. The interesting thing is, when I first started reading comics neither of these would be possible. It has taken a number of changes with how we read and what becomes available for us to read that I can sit here and even compare the two different storylines. Maybe it really is a great time to be alive…
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.