Most things become interesting when there’s some subtext to read into. Recently, I was having a conversation with my roommate about comic books. What’s fun about comics is their innate subtext. Like anything written or drawn in earnest, they’re not simple words or sketches. They’re the gilded layer on top of something human, and unlike people (or an ogre with a donkey), there aren’t myriad layers to pull back. The humanity is so damn accessible. And that’s where our conversation turned: from where the enjoyment comes. It’s not the capes or the masks or the powers or the smarts characters have. It’s how we see those things in ourselves.
I hadn’t thought of it in those terms as an adult, but it makes sense. More than that, it clicked right away.
Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of DareDevil books from the monumental Bendis/Maleev run. Every aspect of the books is mindblowing. But why? What the hell is there to a blind lawyer dude?
Well, that’s just it: DareDevil, or Matt Murdock, is blind. When he was blinded as a boy in a selfless act while saving someone from getting run over by a truck, his other senses were heightened to Everest levels. He’s a lawyer who plays by the rules as much as he has to, and then does his own thing that he deems not only morally acceptable, but necessary, because if he doesn’t people will continue to take advantage of current circumstances or become subject to their capital virility.
Now what the hell does that have to do with me?
Well, I’ve always felt I have a strong sense of a lot of things, but there’s always one thing that, metaphorically, blinds me. It can be staggering. It’s immensely difficult to compensate once I realize it. If you read my previous post, you’ll see that I’m not exactly in to just accepting faults because they exist. “That’s just the way it is” is a copout, but combating it is a legitimate, inner fight I have to confront every day or succumb to.
I’ve always felt there are different angles to be played – to act from one point of view is to seek out paralysis. My own struggles with an anxiety disorder have provided some very frank, curt perspective. (How awesome was it using two names as adjectives in that last sentence? I’ll give you a hint: pretty awesome.) For as absent as I can be in certain areas, or to any extensive degree, I have an equal desire to seek out and believe in any sensibility I have otherwise. And like DareDevil, the way I embrace that vivid reality isn’t by accident; in fact, it’s positively aggressive in a way that could easily be received as obscure.
But so it goes. The point isn’t about how things are received in the wide world of comics, but how they exist. They provide a mirror in a tight hallway and get the reader to see themselves up close in ways other literature tries to drill into them with a set of dentist’s tools. And let’s be honest, no one likes the dentist.
Tl;dr? Comics are way neat.
Worth noting: my roommate started a podcast with a friend, called Comic Book Junto, all about the nitty gritty Everyman aspects of comics, and it’s worth your time.