Too Many Caped Crusaders

Superman Comic Style

Why are so many of these about super powers?

That’s what I keep asking myself as I browse through the Comixology and Marvel apps.

I know I’m starting out. I’m just scratching the surface, but I know some of the standards: Batman, Captain America, Spiderman, Superman. Then there are also a whole lot of things I never heard of before like Chew, about a detective who gets psychic visions when he eats, and Irredeemable, which is about a super villain.

I’ve become interested in comics lately because of The Walking Dead, but I’m wondering why the entire medium appears to be focused on super powers. Nobody in The Walking Dead has super powers. The closest you get is an ex-lawyer with fencing experience and a sword.

Ok, I’m obviously overlooking the zombies. They have the super power of not dying until they suffer brain trauma.

But take something like Maus, an award-winning graphic novel about a survivor of Nazi concentration camps. Persepolis tells the story of a woman’s youth and her life surrounded by Islamic revolution. Both of these are extraordinary stories, but also consider the critically acclaimed American Splendor and its description of everyday life in Cleveland.

Comics have a bad reputation. They’re known as childish, for those who refuse to enter the real world and grow up. But when reading these stories it becomes very clear that comics are capable of telling gripping stories and narratives, in some cases superior to what the written word could achieve on its own.

So why is it that so much of the medium is about super powers and other fantasies, some that have been around since the early 1900s?


Photo by Flickr user frogDNA and used under a Creative Commons license.