Robot 6

Three makes it a trend, right?: The new JLA is A-OK with using lethal force

Justice League #3

“Should Batman kill the Joker?” is a perennial favorite among superhero fan conversation topics, always leading to a variety of different answers. A Golden Age appearance aside, Batman’s bosses at DC Comics have always answered the question the same way, however: Hell no.

Part of the reason for that is practical. You don’t kill off a popular, money-making character (well, you can now and then if it will make more money, but then you have to bring the character back to life somehow). Part of it is smart franchise management. If Batman kills off his enemies, then he runs out of guys to fight awfully quickly. There’s a reason Spider-Man has such a big and colorful rogue’s gallery to fill movies, cartoon and toy lines with, while The Punisher  doesn’t. But a big part of it has to do with Batman’s characterization. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to not kill a mass-murderer you find yourself in deadly combat with on a bi-monthly basis, and sure, it makes even less sense to go out of your way to save the life of said mass-murderer as Batman regularly does for The Joker and his other foes, but then, dressing up as a bat to fight crime doesn’t make much sense either—Batman’s weird, and that’s what makes him so appealing. Of course his moral code is weird too.

The red, un-crossable line Batman has drawn between beating someone within an inch of their life and actually killing them is one shared by most superheroes. The hero pushed to the limit finally getting the villain at their mercy at the climax and forced to decide whether or not to end the villain’s life of evil once and for all is a staple of super-comics.

And it hasn’t changed all that much in the years since, say, “The Trial of The Flash.” Particularly in the DC Universe (The Marvel heroes embraced killing foes en masse during 2008’s Secret Invasion, in which they went to war with the alien Skrulls).

Wonder Woman famously killed Max Lord in the heat of battle in 2005, and it lead to year’s worth of stories in which her fellow heroes debated with her over whether or not it was a just act. She was even on trial in the international criminal court for a while.

Green Arrow killed the villain Prometheus at the climax of controversial 2009-2010 series Justice League: Cry For Justice, and it lead to a weird storyline in which his fellow Leaguers tried to bust him and he ended up being exiled form his hometown.

And during the 2009 story arc that introduced the Red Lanterns in Green Lantern, space policeman Hal Jordan wrestled with the idea of his bosses executing his mentor-turned-archenemy Sinestro.

As you may have heard, the DC Universe has changed quite a bit since then.

I haven’t been reading very many of “The New 52″ books as they’ve been released. In fact, I can count the number I’ve been reading on one hand: Justice League, Justice League Dark, Aquaman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.  But even among that very small sampling, I’ve noticed a trend emerging.

In the pages of Aquaman #2, by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, Aquaman and Mera confront the humanoid creatures called The Trench:

In last week’s Green Lantern #3, by Johns, Doug Mahnke and a whole mess of inkers, Jordan is confronted my a member of the yellow Sinestro Corps, and deals with him thusly:

And in this week’s Justice League #3, once more written by Johns and drawn by Jim Lee and Scott Williams, the various heroes of the Justice League confront Darkseid’s armies of parademons. I was a little surprised to see such an aggressive, ruthless Superman doling out pain to his foes:

But I was more surprised still to see this image, in which Superman takes off a Parademon’s arm and head:

Even the new sword-wielding Wonder Woman, who chose a maiming blade over a capturing magic lasso in her first appearance and, in this particular issue, chops limbs off like she was chopping vegetables, doesn’t take anyone’s head off in this issue.

I suppose the argument could be made that these aren’t human lives. The Trench are humanoid, though, and speak, so they’re clearly a bit more evolved than animals. That yellow Lantern is an alien instead of a human, but so too are all Lanterns save a handful (and hey, Superman’s an alien too, and maybe Mera, or are people from different dimensions more ultraterrestrial than extraterrestrial…?). I’m not sure how “alive” the new Parademons are, and they certainly have a lot of mechanical and/or robotic looking bits to them, but they also bleed, and I didn’t see Superman X-Raying their chests before ripping them apart, or Aquaman checking one’s pulse before shoving his trident into its back.

Basically, the New 52 Joker might want to lay low until the New 52 Justice League work through their collective issues.

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151 Comments

I was wondering if (and hoping) this is gonna be addressed before this arc is over. I don’t think Aquaman killing the Trench is the same as Superman dismembering the Parademons, though (the later being worse). I was planning on letting my son read JL #3, but now I dunno …

I don’t know, I mean, they are just Parademons. When I was 8 I read Cosmic Odyssey which featured Batman picking up a gun and blowing a hole clean through the chest of a Parademon and there wasn’t a whole lot of teeth gnashing about it.

Dc hasn’t come right out and said it but they’ve pretty much given up on trying to appeal to kids and women. They’re only going to concentrate on the immediate market (Men 18-40). That means more blood, guts and tits.

Current writers and editors have grown up with this mentality.

If you stab me, I’ll kill you. Its the rule on the streets and in our cutthroat corporate world. Its definitely a maxim in business, kill or be killed. Its true in war, its true in law enforcement (overly excessive force is used on all encounters)

So Why is this surprising?

I myself have no problem with superheroes killing, since many of our real institutions don’t.

I should add, there must be consequences to killing. In this case, Yellow Corps, Trenchites, and Darksied escalating the conflict? Because thats what happens in real life, the cycle is always spinning.

Perhaps the “new” Superman didn’t take a vow against killing living things – thus, it’s not the Joker who should be concerned, but General Zod who may not be getting a soft exile to the Phantom Zone.

Traditionally the parademons weren’t really alive. I remember reading that in a few different comics in the old DCU. Whether they were outright constructs, or sort of animated husks, or something else I can’t remember (and it might have always been vague). Is that still the case in the new DC universe? Probably, but they should’ve said so.

Well, Parademons are not really “alive” in the sense we know it. It’s been long since established that they are synthetically mass-produced creatures. I really don’t think Superman mashing them to bits amounts to murder.

As for Sinestro Corps, the Green Lantern Rings now allow lethal force against all enemies of the corps. Maybe Hal could’ve taken him down without killing him, but the Purple Tubbo looks liked a Alien Child Molester so heck with it. If he was in the Sinestro Corps, he had it coming.

And the Trench…flesh eating Fish-Men. They’re monsters. Monsters gotta be killed.

Frankly, I’m more appalled at how wretched Jim Lee’s art looks in those panels. Compared to Reis and Mahnke, it’s terrible.

If it dont look like us, kill it. Comics!

You missed one very important reason for superheroes not to kill: symbolism. Superheroes represent the best in us, the ideals we aspire to. When Superman saves Lois Lane, he’s also saving us, not by pulling us out of a crashing helicopter, but by giving us an example to live up to. And he does the same when he shows mercy and forgiveness to his enemies, and refuses to sink to their level.

Of course, that sort of thinking doesn’t mesh with today’s “realistic” and “adult” (read: cynical and adolescent) superhero comics.

“You missed one very important reason for superheroes not to kill: symbolism. Superheroes represent the best in us, the ideals we aspire to.”

Unless you’re Geoff Johns. Then superheroes are about proving superheroes are cool to the kids who beat you up for liking comics when you were 12.

I’m with you, Michael P. I’ve been enjoying most of the books I’ve read in the new52 (including Justice League, Catwoman, and Red Hood). This is the first real misstep (in my book) that’s given me pause. Catwoman’s a thief; her book should have different standards. It was obvious to me that Starfire in RH is going to be explored further. This is the first time I’ve thought “this just doesn’t work.” That said, maybe they’ll make it work. I think Johns has a real appreciation for trad superheroes, so I’d like to think he’s gonna address this.

I think there has always been exceptions made for “war” and “monsters”, which the Trench and Parademons examples definitely fall in to one or the other. Killing in order to save yourself and others from an army of enemies out to kill you isn’t the same necessarily as killing a single foe whom you’ve managed to capture and are just doing it to prevent future killings by the foe.

After all, if Batman kills a vampire, nobody cares, because it’s a “monster”.

I’m not sure that the ugly misshapen aliens of the Sinestro Corps don’t also count as “monsters” from Hal’s point of view. I mean, let’s face it, the alien in Aliens was just trying to find a nice place to raise her kids, right?

Are we really discussing if its ok to kill Parademons and human-eating monsters from the sea? REALLY??

It’s the internet that blows everything up now. Back in the gritty 80’s and extreme 90s there wasn’t an internet for people to complain about every scrap of comic books. So we’ll continue to discuss mundane things like killing monsters and cannibals and constructs and aliens to infinity.

I am saddened but not surprised by this. The DC Universe is now firmly under the control of Johns and Lee, and neither has ever seemed to respect the ideals of heroes. Which doesn’t make them bad writers. Just bad writers of HEROIC stories. But I guess DC doesn’t care.

I’ve never been all that happy with the decision to allow Green Lanterns to kill.
Yes, I get the logic. They’re space cops and regular cops can kill. Plus, you know, they’re also Jedi Knights and they use lethal force.
But I think part of me felt like that was one of the last frontiers of non-killing in comics. And frankly it requires writers to be more creative. It’s far easier to portray Hal Jordan blowing a hole through an enemy than finding creative uses to trap them. And that’s what I think bothers me the most about the decision. I could buy it if I wasn’t convinced it’s just an excuse for lazy, macho writing/art.

I read Justice League this morning, and I immediately noticed Superman’s lethal force.This was probably due in part to having just watched All Star Superman and having that characterization so fresh in the brain. I think that I’d rather him not kill, and by him I mean Old Supes (what the heck are we supposed to call them?). But this is the New 52. We’ll see.

And I don’t buy the excuse that parademons have long been established as husks or whatever – it’s the New 52 – they don’t know that, nor do we.

I’ve got to echo Michael P. here. Superheroes are above and beyond us, something we should all strive to be like. Super. Hero. So, of course compassion, empathy, and restraint factor into that. Killing seems like such an easy way out when taking on absolute evil; these heroes are able to rise above that option with the mantra that life is sacred, often a concept in direct opposition to the actions carried out by their foes. So, yes, seeing Superman, perhaps the most idyllic of all his super-heroic companions, rending even a Parademon limb from limb in a side panel, without a thought, is very disturbing. During Byrne’s run, the execution of the mass-murdering Phantom Zone villains by Kryptonite was presented as a huge, soul-weighing issue, almost shocking, which the JLA panel above neither addresses nor reflects.

I think DC dropped the bomb with their new relaunch. They had a chance to reinvent their universe to reflect the virtues of their characters to a new audience, namely the next generation of comic readers. I feel like they could have made these heroes accessible to kids (ones like me 20-30 years ago when I started reading) and told witty, intelligent and entertaining stories, without serving up overly violent and sexual, as well as convoluted, storylines. The dark ’90s grit seems to have reared its ugly head once again, under the banner of another tradition, “the all mighty #1 collector issue”. It’s a shame and yes, it helped their sales base, but how long can these sales last before these sweeping new directions fade into blah?

Ironically, All-Star Western is the only title I really follow. I love the anti-hero Jonah Hex, but I also know one thing: He is no Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, or Wonder Woman. Let’s keep it that way.

I think you guys are makin a huge deal out of nothing…this isnt the Golden Age. Wolverine is every boy’s favorite superhero and he’s been killing people since his first appearance.

I do think that seeing Superman or Batman kill a random thug would be too shocking and I don’t think that’s a line DC is willing to cross. At the same time I think it’s naive to think, if we are talking in a “as-real-as-possible” approach, that superheroes would never kill anyone in the middle of a battle. People’s lives are at stake and you’re concerned about the poor Parademon who wants to rip you apart? I don’t think so.

Grow up people.

I want to see a balance of ideals and reason in the comics I read. DC’s New 52 and most of Marvel’s modern output doesn’t do that for me. It’s for that reason, among others, that I don’t read, or buy, most modern comics. They were forced to grow up. It’s not right.

I read Green Lantern and was like uhhhhh, did Hal just kill someone???

In Birds of Prey, Starling is always shooting people, and Katana basically dismembers her foes with her sword. As far as I can tell Black Canary hasn’t killed anyone yet, but she doesn’t seem too broken up about her teammates killing henchmen. When I first started reading it I was surprised by their cavalier attitude towards killing. I guess this is a line-wide thing that I haven’t noticed because I only read BoP and Demon Knights.

Dear Warner Brothers and Disney execs:

For some reason, a handful of your low-level employees are slowly destroying the value of your intellectual property by producing pseudo-sophisticated, mega-cynical portrayals of long-admired and popularly-beloved cultural icons.

Please put an end to the paltry, pointless publishing divisions of your comic-book companies. Due to the oversights of previous owners, these divisions have been entrusted to talentless morons who depict mass murder as heroic because they personally find violence more titillating than abhorrent.

Please put a stop to this nonsense before your child’s Batman Halloween costume comes with a Bat-submachine gun, Bat-torture implements, and a supply of condoms for Bat-raping the buxom bad girls of Gotham City.

At this point, the only ones dying would be those considered glorified cannon fodder, so they don’t count.

Parademons always multiply, and I would imagine the Trench does as well (notwithstanding their leader I’m sure – I haven’t read any of the new 52 yet so I’m just plaing this by ear) so no one’s big enough yet not to die.

But by the same token, I say you have to put some of the blame on Hollywood and the movies they’ve done with all the superheroes, because they don’t believe in that “no killing the main villains” rule. They keep dying at the end of them.

And all written by Geoff Johns.

This guy is an unoriginal, uncreative BAD writer.

“I’m not sure that the ugly misshapen aliens of the Sinestro Corps don’t also count as “monsters” from Hal’s point of view.”

Ah, yes, the OTHER great moral lesson of superhero comics: It’s OK to hate and kill people who look different!

Evan Meadow says, “But by the same token, I say you have to put some of the blame on Hollywood and the movies they’ve done with all the superheroes, because they don’t believe in that “no killing the main villains” rule. They keep dying at the end of them.”

In most of the movies the villains die by accident, by means of their own treachery, or kill themselves. Consider Norman Osborn, and Otto Octavius. The only movies that outright showed their heroes killing were Captain America and Iron Man (also maybe Batman if you count Ra’s al-Ghul). They preserve the no killing by the hero rule pretty well. Also, no matter what any comic book writer says I believe Captain America killed enemy soldiers in World War II. Furthermore, the Iron Man movie is not too far from the comics either, in Tales of Suspense #39 (the first issue) Iron Man kills Wong Chu.

The way the superhero movies get around the hero not killing rule can be grating at times, though. Remember how in the Spider-Man movie (spoilers for 10 year old movie) the mugger tripped backwards out a window and fell to his death. Then later Osborn accidentally impaled himself. Having a villain die from their own carelessness and stupidity once would be ok, but twice is pushing it. Hollywood can kill villains because they only need enough fodder for about 3 movies before a reboot, whereas comics go on for decades before they reboot.

This is all worth it if the new JLA encounters the new Red Tornado and Superman immediately eviscerates him because he’s a robot.

“CCO”…

Someone needs to put Geoff Johns in his appropriate place.

HELLOOOO DC

It’s times like this that I wonder if message boards should make posting your age mandatory so the rest of us have a better idea of which era you come from.

I find this trend of increasingly graphic violence and cavalier attitude toward it by the creators disturbing because it it undermines the symbology of those characters that they (the creators) grew up with. I think it was Steven Grant who said that all super-hero comics are essentially fan fiction at this point, because all the creators grew up with these characters. It’s like nearly everyone at either DC or Marvel (there are a few isolated exceptions) has abandoned either exploring the characters they’re assigned or even plotting simple adventure tales, and are instead indulging their own adolescent power fantasies and justifying it for the sake of “art” and an ever-shrinking consumer base.

Haven’t been following either Aquaman or GL, so can’t comment on that, but in Superman’s case, don’t forget that this opening Justice League arc takes place in the past. In Action Comics #2, also set prior to the ‘current’ continuity, Clark threatened to snap Luthor’s neck if he didn’t return his cape, apparently the only keepsake he has, at that point, from Krypton – after Luthor had him strapped into an electric chair and was essentially torturing him, so it’s easy to understand he might be a bit testy.

This is one of the main points of what they’re doing with Superman: he’s younger and more prone to be reckless and act rashly. He’s not yet the elder statesman of spandex that he’s been in prior incarnations. This may not jive with everyone’s preconceptions of Superman, but it also allows room for his character and personality to grow. Juxtapose these ‘past’ stories with how he’s been portrayed in Perez’s present-day Superman stories so far, and there is a difference, Clark seems to have more of a sense of responsibility and restraint. Young Clark is literally on his own, having lost both sets of parents, birth and foster, and he’s in a world that clearly mistrusts him, if not outright fears and hates him, with no one else to turn to for guidance. That’s a change to the status quo that makes for much more interesting stories. I like the idea of Clark making mistakes and trying to find his place in the world as he defines himself.

The question is whether or not the various writers handling Superman follow up on this thematic element and make it something out of it. If they don’t, then everyone who’s cynical about it has a right to be.

hate to say it but the heros in dc killing now are part of the ndcu for one both the trench and parademons are not human and would proably kill if supes and aquaman did not stop them. plus hal killing mr. purple tubbo there could be considered self defense. and wonder woman is a warrior she would kill an enemy in battle like soliders in war. as for batman finaly killing the joker. even dc will still not let that happen for some things will remain un changed even in dcnu. batman crossing the line and whacking a few really deserving rogues with the joker deserving it for a long time. being one .

I just read this essay after watching footage of cops bludgeoning folks in the streets of NYC…

J Caleb, my brother, you need to put down the comics, step away from the keyboard and plug back in to the real world—this level of discourse is embarrassing…I feel bad for you…

The whole DCnU is gross. Instead of good stories, they are going for over the top sensationalism. It is going to fall apart very soon as people get tired of it.

It’s repulsive.

Well, the Skrulls are a different case for the Marvel Universe. The heroes and villains killed them because (at least to my knowledge) Skrulls can regenerate themselves. I think this is a similar case with the Apocalyptican (is that how it’s spelled?) invaders.
@JohnKelly Which titles did you read?

I think that this a major problem. I do not read most of the other titles you mentioned, but I had certainly noticed this in JL.

I particularly dislke – indeed, am appalled – by the portrayal of Wonder Woman in JL. The idea that Diana is constantly looking for fights and happy to kill people/creatures who cross her is absolutely at odds with many of the most fundamental ideals associated with WW. I always respected the fact that, of the big three, WW was the only one willing to kill. But she killed when it was necessary and never with a sense of fun, or a sense that life did not matter. This new characterization is just sickening.

I also noticed the vicious brutality of Superman. While I have been enjoying the new Action Comics and Superman, the portrayal of Supes in JL is, similar to WW, deeply disturbing.

It’s sad to think that this kind of mindless and vicious violence is what comics fans want to see. If so, then we really are a pathetic lot.

In the case of the trench and parademons i dont think its murder. Like i just posted on FB they are basically insects.

If that is the case, then we see the re-emergence of 1990s comic extreme violence! DC is repeating what Marvel did if the former will not be careful of its management. What is the meaning of short-term success if the long-term one will result to failure! I hope Jim Lee et al knows his history as for he is part of that phenomenon!

@ John Smith

In comics, ugliness and evil have generally walked hand-in-hand. That’s nothing new.

This is ridiculous.

Times change people.

Someone said something about Wonder Woman and her new battle-crazy nature. But to me personally it just makes a whole lot of sense, considering her background. She grows up amongst amazons who battle between themselves just for fun. Why wouldn’t she enjoy it? It’s like playing a game to her. Plus her background now is very much associated with Greek mythology and we all know how that works. I think Azzarello is doing a great job and I think Johns handled her pretty well on JL #3. That was my favorite issue so far.

Like I said, I don’t think we will be seeing Batman or Superman kill or maim one particular villain indiscriminately. We are basically talking about mobs of thugs here right? As much as I think this whole reboot was a pretty desperate move by DC (which I think in the long run is not gonna pay off) I dont believe DC is willing to put sub-machine guns in the hands of Batman or make Superman tear Lex Luthor’s arm off. I think in the middle of a battle against dozens of monsters/weird aliens/canniball creatures is normal that some casualties occur.

However…the Green Lantern thing is a little weird. I didn’t mind but I think it was a little out of character for Hal. Maybe he was just tired.

I think that it’s Geoff Johns who’s slipped, judging from the conversation. Unfortunately, he’s the creative head of the DCnU. I don’t pick up any of the books in the discussion, except for Birds, which was marketed as the down and dirty corner of the DCnU– the place people in need go when there’s no one else that can save them.

I think there are two lines being drawn in the sand, so to speak: 1) most of the protagonist dealt deaths I’ve seen are constructs, nameless, soulless, created for cannon fodder machines. 2) Are the characters in a outnumbered, fight to the death situation, or a war? Mostly, yes.

This then leaves another major question: Who are those protected by these heroes? If they’re attacked by a mind controlled populace, do the heroes act to save the ones trying to rip said heroes to shreds?

i don’t think it’s a big deal for a character like green lantern to use deadly force, i mean the guy is both a soldier and a cop (well space cop), for him not to use deadly force at times would seem suspect. superman is a little tougher though, but i do think they could’ve just taken a note from samurai jack and turned the blood into a black oil(which really helps dehumanize the creatures) and most people wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but the red blood definitely raises some questions.

I read the article and I read the comments. Personally, I don’t have an issue with darkness, violence or “realism”. As long as 1. They produce well written stories. 2. There is growth with these characters. 3. They don’t kill off main villians. All remain to be seen, so give it more time.

Superheroes should not kill because they are not (in most cases) vested with the authority to do so by the citizens of the countries that they inhabit (most frequently the US).

The argument for killing the Joker because he always escapes is as absurd as the Marvel Civil War concept. You are basically arguing for a realistic response to an unrealistic circumstance.

Realistically, the Joker would be caught ONCE, and incarcerated for the rest of his life. He only escapes because LAZY WRITERS insist on getting to use a character that someone else created. The real police never run out of criminals, because their are billions of people who end up committing crimes for billions of different reasons.

And even if Batman does “kill” the Joker, it will be no more permanent than any of his trips to Arkham, so that makes no sense either. If you are going to try and argue based on comic book logic, then imprisonment is a better choice simply because it means you at least no where they are, rather than allowing for them to secretly plot and plan because the hero THINKS they’re dead.

Trying to argue that “well this is how we do it in real life” for a situation that is predicated on numerous, unrealistic circumstances is illogical.

Superheroes shouldn’t kill, because they should not have to. Writers should be able to come up with new, and interesting threats, rather than just recycling the joker, darkside, dr doom, green goblin, and lex luthor over and over again.

A fantastic example of this is the Paul Dini version of Batman’s rogues gallery.

The Riddler is a glory hound, private eye.
Catwoman is a taciturn ally.
The Penguin is a shady club owner.

You could extend the appearances of these characters indefinitely by giving them stable, non-world shaking resolutions and character evolution.

Dixon, Ostrander, and Simone were respectively able to make Bane, Deadshot, and Catman in to narratively stable characters, and told the BEST stories with them that way.

As always, most of what is wrong with comic books (ret-cons, resurrections, clones, deals with satan, etc…) can be averted by way of COMPETENT WRITING.

Continuing a serial form of story-telling indefinitely while maintaining quality is a daunting task. Its too bad that so few professional writers seem up to the challenge.

None of this bothers me. I mean, Aquaman has a trident. What’s he supposed to do with that thing?

Ack!

All my preaching about competent writing and then I type “no where” when I meant “know where.”

Geoff Johns=Bad Writer No NO NO! well…..

Blown out of context and the implication that Superman killing an evil robot is just too much for a childs eyes, or tuat anyone who isnt offended or shocked by the actions mentioned in this article are the product of a generation with deficient morals and maturity just reeks of out of touchness.

Parademons = zombies with jetpacks.

Aquaman NOT a superhero.

Batman IS a nutter.

Wonder Woman, ancient warrior skilled in dismembering monsters.

If you look at the characters under their own lights they are capable of taking life when appropriate (or not in the Nutter’s case). It’s DC’s policies and the creators own views that tweak them into the NO killing under any circumstances mindest.

I have NO problem with Superheroes using deadly force occasionally. Though I think they should only kill the “minions” or lesser enemies and NOT the main enemy/threat. i mean it would make sense for Batman to kill some enemies if it could save more lives in the process. I hate comic book and video game fanboys because they are always very resistant to change and love living in the past. But like I said Comic Book companies have to limit it to a certain few characters otherwise they won’t have a sufficient rogue gallery. Plus the majority of the enemies being killed in the New 52 are evil aliens so I don’t see what the big deal is.

Brendan T (@TheUnholyDragon)

November 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

I get the impression the nuParademons are robots/cyborgs which lessens that blow. Aquaman has always been played as more militant when they’re trying to establish him as serious business. Green Lantern is basically a space cop meets special ops, and they’re trying to pull off a covert ops mission. He does what he thinks is necessary.

I look at it under police rules. If there is no other realistic option, then lethal force is okay. That said, there’s a big difference between killing out of need in the heat of battle and execution. There’s also a big difference between Superman killing a mugger and trying to kill Darkseid. It should only be in extreme circumstances where other options aren’t available.

Yes continue to write Superman like a hypocrite why don’t we? The guy is not jesus or gandhi.

He “killed” many robots before and he killed Doomsday while doing lots of damage and was very willing to kill Wonder Woman during the Sacrifice run cause he thought she killed Lois..yeah it’s okay to kill for Lois…it’s for love. And parademons have feelings and should be rehabilitated.

Let’s charge Geoff Johns a big bill for destroying Metropolis and every other city while we at it.

Cause I am sure as hell people die while Superman is playing messiah. You should do an article on that. Should heroes destroy real estate and who pays for it?

The reboot smells badly, all I have to say for now.
They just shouldn’t have created such kind of a situation when Heroes have to kill. They could also have the very same situation rebuilt so Parademons would be just beaten really hard. No wonder they are being hunted down – they kill without a second thought, and I, personally, would never depend on such a hero. Of course, Parademons are evil demonic creatures, but that doesn’t change the situation much – if You can handle something without causing death, do it so. All of current JL members could have done it differently.

Hmm, when they do the JL movie, we’ll have the heroes gently hit their enemies or preach to them simply beat them up till they black or blue. That’s less violent, right? When Superman who goes fisticuffs he is always using a lot of violence. Or are we saying that is better? Beat em to a pulp but pleasse, don’t break wing or head of a robotic horde of evil demons ready to annihilate the human race? No let them go back to Darkseid to regroup and terrorize humans and kidnap them so they can treat them nice and torture them on Apokolips.

Lethal force is relative. In a case like this yes. Superman has every right to do what he has to do. The numbers are sheer overwhelming. In another situation, it may not call for lethal force. And cops and soldiers are heroes too. They have to kill as well in some situations. Are they evil? Superman killed in comics in the old DCU. He killed a Doomsday, he killed a vampire, he dismantled robots…he used lethal force. So why the selective memories and soap boxing?

Superman. Doesn’t. Kill.

For other heroes, the circumstances may dictate different courses of action. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are soldiers/warriors for crying out loud. But not Superman. He is a Superhero. Heck, he is THE Superhero. He is always better…always.

(Personally, I didn’t consider Doomsday alive. He was like rage personified. He wasn’t so much “killed,” as he was “stopped.”)

My opinion.

@Rick

“Dear Warner Brothers and Disney execs:”

Those are exactly the people responsible for that which you’re complaining about. Particularly in the case of Disney, they have transformed what was once at least nominally a creative endeavor into a cut throat environment of fear and layoffs, where sheer sales numbers and regular culls to keep the stock holders happy are the only goals.

You’re barking up the wrong tree, mate.

@MK
Hypocrite? Is he hypocrite just because some people can’t (or don’t want to) imagine such a personality existing? Or do you mean that he is a hypocrite because there were several attempts of him to “step over the line”? Well, these are comicbooks, and writers may write whatever they want to. I wouldn’t like Superman trying to kill Wonder Woman, but it appears so that some writer would, and, unfortunately, none of us had or have the power to stop people writing stupid stories, in which characters are shown incorrect or just unlikely. So what? I go and read “All-Star Superman” and “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” then. I know who my exact Superman is and I know in which comics I can find him. Same goes to any other Hero.
Superman isn’t playing mesiah, he is being someone better than us in general. If people consider him “playing mesiah”, well – his mission is accomplished. For me, Superman is a symbol. Not of “the american way”, maybe, but of Truth and Justice indeed. Because he is the best what happened to him in the comics, and all the different grim and gritty trash goes burning in my personal garbage bin.

Yeah, I get the idea that some of you would see man-eating fish break into your home and attack your family and your only concern would be, “How can I restrain these man-eating fish?”

And parademons aren’t alive.

A war-like or invasion scenario is a common thread between these three storylines, and therefore I can see that the killing is justified. In JL and Aquaman, alien forces are attacking seemingly provocation, and in the case of Aquaman, threatening possible genocide. It isn’t a situation like the invasion of Iraq where the justification is murky at best, but a situation where unless decisive action is taken immediately, millions of lives and maybe society itself would be lost. The *REAL* question should be how graphically these situations should be depicted in mainstream comics. But suggesting that Superman should try to talk down a parademon in the midst of its attempt to blow up Metropolis is pretty damn laughable.

http://bit.ly/uW94EI

Read this, please, before writing something here.

Did we worry about not killing the Nazis in World War Two?

@John
That’s too harsh! You don’t seem to see a difference there at all! Superman could defeat The Elite while giving an example, people, however, couldn’t fight evil back in days of WW2 without using weapons because, well, if You didn’t notice, we don’t live in the world of comics and none of us are meta-humans.
People fought and did their best in 1940’s. Heroes should do their best, too. If they don’t then there must be a reason for it, and if there is no reason, too, then the problem is the writer. Please, stop making such stupid comparisons.

Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern lacking the no-kill rule seems all fine and dandy to me, it adds a bit of variety and is in line with the characters.
Superman killing doesn’t sit right with me, Superman is a boy scout, a goody two-shoes, he’s the friendly, brightly clad superstar with fantastical powers, he should stay light hearted and non-threatening.
Both sides of this argument each claim the other side to be childish when the truth is both are, having everyone laced with sugar firing rubber bullets is just as adolescent as everyone running round with chainsaws and a bad attitude.
Aquaman and Wonder Woman wielding deadly weapons is fine, just as long as Batman and Superman stay merciful.

In conclusion:
A full cast of killers should be avoided, so should a full cast of non-killers.
Killing a petty thief is just as ridiculous as not killing a repeated mass murderer.
Why can’t we have a bit of everything?

I will not rest until we see Superman rip Luther’s head off and sh!ts down his throat.

Do you think there’s any connection between superheroes escalating their conflicts in American comic books at the same time that the US and NATO are rattling their sabres against Iran and China?

No. End of story.

Its all really dependent on your take on superheroes isn’t it?

And really this article does blow this extremely out of proportion, considering that all the books are being written by the same author and they’re all his take on these characters and that the DCNU is pretty brand new.

That said, to my earlier point, it really depends on if you see your heroes as the embodiment of higher human ideals we can reach for, i.e. not killing, upholding higher standards, etc. Or if you see comic books as a reflection (as exaggerated as that is likely to be) of the real world, with corrupt police, and people dying on the streets, and failed revolutions and people’s indifference.

Me? I like the former, but that was when comics belonged to children and I think the older generation of readers would hold to this view of heroes. The more cynical and I think appropriately described as adolescent view of heroes is just a very Hollywood 18-25 demographic that ignores the larger audiences. It isn’t for nothing that movie theater viewership is dwindling and so are comic sales. If you have a home theater you’ve got the choice to watch anything you want instead of just the same tired movies that come out at the theater. Likewise comic book readers have the option of quitting comics completely or back issues or reading webcomics.

The dark and gritty trend has slowly been destroying and I believe is responsible for the decline of comic book sales. There is an audience of young readers as mangas popularity has proven, and publishers constantly publishing books for younger readers constantly prove. Superhero comics have walked away from kids because of their ridiculously violent takes on superheroes. People mistakenly think, because Batman sells every character has to be Batman but they don’t realize that if every character acts like Batman they’re all writing the same kind of book. Which is why a small number of people buy all DC’s books and keep the company afloat in an ever dwindling market.

Should superheroes be allowed to kill? Yeah, I’ve always loved the Authority, but it becomes a dull comic book in the hands of less inventive writers and when every other superhero book seems to be doing the same thing. Warren Ellis wrote those murdering bastards with heart, and yet other writers can’t bring a non-killing Batman to have any kind of personality. It comes down to the weakness of the writer … whether Wonder Woman kills or not is not as relevant as whether or not the writer is being true to the character, or just trying to make the character edgier and dark.

I like my heroes not to kill, mostly. But the best case scenario would be where one writer isn’t responsible for the way all the books are written, and that’s happening both at DC & Marvel.

As for the people who don’t think we should be discussing violence in comics because there’s real violence on the streets … that’s seriously ridiculous. They go hand in hand, the violence on the news, and the violence in our entertainment. It speaks to the society that breeds the cops that beat people on the street. You want your heroes edgier then it should come as no surprise your own police force mimics what its fed in its entertainment, and infotainment news.

This article is not silly, and neither is the discussion of this … what’s silly is talking about the mandate of the new52 based solely on these three books written by the same author. A more comprehensive study is called for, I think.

I believe DC lost the rights to Superman after next year or so, I think all they are doing now is just mess with the character so people no longer like him. Sure Any super hero could kill any one at any time but what makes a good comic is artists and writer is taking each individual character and delivering different performances. just couse it is cool to see Batman beat up a guy up doesnt mean Superman needs to do so too, Bats has to beat them up he has no super strenght or way to inmobilize them. Sure you can cut the villians had and legs and kill them but then again .. Who gave the superheroes the right to do that none of them are actually police officers or lawyers for that matter… What I am trying to say is DC is just plain doing a dumb soap opera plot “Oh I’m pregnant now you must stay with me and marry me” . Sure it is good the first time you see it done… but people get bored of it and soon enough people will stop even reading their comics due to that.

p.s. my spelling sucked but hope you all get the messege :)

Short answer: no it is not.
This goes against everything the heroes stand for, it is inconsistent with the way they talk about their values and it removes the possibility for us to get interested in their questioning their morals after they just decapitated a guy two issues prior.
Worst thing is: this is just lazy writing on Johns’ part to make his heroes look cooler.
It is weird because he did not think he needed to prior to the relaunch but I guess we ARE back to the EXTREEEEEEEEEEEEME of the 90’s.

“Killing a petty thief is just as ridiculous as not killing a repeated mass murderer.
Why can’t we have a bit of everything?”

Amen to that

I thought about it for a while to try and determine who should kill and who shouldn’t. Really, there are only two characters that I don’t want to see kill their villains and that’s Superman and Spider-Man. I know Batman won’t ever kill someone, but if he did, I honestly don’t think it would bother me. I’d probably say, “Bout time.” However, I really can’t ever see Spider-Man or Superman crossing that line. Spider-man, even though he has been around since the ’60’s in my mind represents innocence and purity within the super hero community while Superman represents the most noble of all aspects of superheroes. People should emulate Spider-Man and heroes need to emulate Superman.

No super-heroes shouldn’t kill.

The psychos should be brought up on charges and given a fair trial.

So they can break free and live to kill again, again and again.

:)

I like the New DCnU 52. I like the characters, (all of them) and how they are portrayed. You people complaining about the portrayal of women or certain characters, then don’t read it. Go read something else. I remember everyone complaining about not being able to relate to Superman, too powerful, too much of a boy scout, God. Whatever. They are trying something different. I’ve read Marvel for years, because I couldn’t understand DC’s continuity, and all the multiverses, or whatever else just didn’t make sense. Not only that but I could relate to the characters in Marvel, than DC. But now with the reboot I have a chance to get into it and access these stories from the beginning.

Bottom line, some people like it, some don’t, if you do then read it, if not then stop complaining and ruining it for the rest of us, and go read something else.

I have yet to decide if I have a problem with these examples. I personally don’t read Johns anymore. Used to enjoy him, but it seems he’s said whatever it was he had to say about most of DC’s characters by now.
I do find it interesting that all of the, um, questionable murdering is going on in his titles. As someone mentioned, Catwoman gets a different standard. The same standard can be extended to Red Hood, maybe Arsenal, and probably lots of other books’ protagonists. I would be pretty willing to give a pass on Aquaman and Mera, too. I remeber Arthur Curry being depicted in some pretty bloody ways before. And I stopped reading Lantern a while ago, but I remember that s#!t got real and the Guardians lifted the no-homicide restriction from the rings. I think that was in the Sinestro Corps War, like a “time(s) of war” exception, but maybe it stuck.
But man – SUPES?! Okay, people are posting that parademons aren’t really alive or whatever, but what about the popular trope in genre fiction (and fiction in general) about the soul being found by the soulless? I mean, there’s Frankenstein, most recently a part of the New 52, such crap-classics films as ‘D.A.R.Y.L.’ and ‘Short Circuit,’ and, to speak directly to the issue: PARADEMON from SECRET SIX. That character actually had depth, which I think disqualifies it as a lifeless husk. Granted, the character had been ousted from the armies of Apokolips because it was deemed unfit to serve Darkseid, but if we’re to give credence to that character, then it may be the case that many or all parademons have potential for displaying humanity.

If it’s said that the parademons are a lifless (or soulless or whatever) subspecies not to be concerned with, then I would suggest that such consideration (or lack thereof) be extended to other manufactured or genetically engineered beings like book/title protagonists Frankenstein and Superboy.

To say Superman does not kill when he HAS killed and taken down non sentient beings is a rather stupid argument. And that involves robots, evil demons, energy monsters…whatever…it is killing. You guys are trying to get technical cause he hit the head off a parademon and exclain in shock as if it is a first.

Read the source material. He has technically “killed” as have all these heroes. Superman has sliced off wings and limbs off parademons in a kids’ cartoon too. So as most people say, a hero would weigh circumstances and try not to kill but when it comes down to it, they may just have to stab that vampire in the heart or even sing something out of existence…that is “killing” I guess that makes it palatable so you can feel good about yourself.

And his creators Siegel and Schuster meant for him to mete justice when the law and government and all else fails. I doubt they fuss over this.

Parademons aren’t alive, the Trench are man-eating monsters attacking, Green Lantern is a cop.

So…what’s the problem? Oh wait, I forgot, it’s the internet, where every thing is a problem.

I think it is about time – kuddos for Johns writing this stuff.

Lackshmana wrote “Superheroes should not kill because they are not (in most cases) vested with the authority to do so by the citizens of the countries that they inhabit (most frequently the US).”

Let’s see:
Oa has commanded the kill shot on the Sinestro Corp.
Aquaman is the king of Atlantis and sets his own rules in dealing with sea-based races.
Wonder Woman is sanctioned by a warrior race to kill when necessary.
Superman – well, yeah, you got us there! (even though he only killed mass produced parademons – I would kill a demon too with out proper authority!)
And as said before: Batman is nuts!

So what is the problem here?

If I had my druthers, I would like to see our heroes use their mind so that they don’t have to resort to killing. Sometimes, though, it needs to happen.

Why don’t people have a problem with the way these heroes put people in the hospital?

It’s not a problem. It’s an arguable inconsistency. I don’t see it as being inconsistent with Aquaman and I’m unsure of Green Lantern’s status. But Superman has never killed without great deliberation, save for maybe in the 30s and 40s.
The iteration of Superman that people are most familiar with is patently opposed to killing. It may well be that context will be given, and the New 52 Supes will come to a different approach than is shown by Johns and Lee in Justice League #3. But indiscriminate killing of even husk-type, ‘lifeless’ beings is still pretty well against his ideology. I wouldn’t suggest that Superman is entirely above killing – we know that’s not true. But I would suggest that the character would view it as a last resort, at least historically.
How Superman’s character forms in the New 52 is obviously somewhat up in the air. I think people are maybe a bit upset that something they may have conceived of as being essential to the character’s nature is potentially being excised.
Ultimately it’s up to the tellers of the tales what goes down with these characters, but people understandably feel strongly about things like homicide. Even fictional homicide.
I would argue that Superman’s moral compass is more essential to the character than some details we’ve seen reversed, such as Jimmy being on more equal footing with Clark as journalists and friends. That’s in keeping with the times. There’s less call for alphas in today’s social hierarchy than there was twenty years ago. I would suggest that there is no less need for principled women and men in today’s social climate, though.

I do find it frustrating that Batman won’t kill the joker.
On the other hand, Batman: Arkham Asylum would have been pretty dull if Batman just flitted around with a sniper rifle and cyanide gas.

It does make for more interesting story, though, when heroes have strong values. Check out DCnU Catwoman #3. The story would have ended on a dull note if Batman had reassured Catwoman that killing Rock Face was OK.

And Superman… Superman has got to be the goody-goody who agonizes over killing a flea. Otherwise he’s just Black Adam combined with Vladimir Lenin or Che Guevara. “If it hurts the common man, kill it.”

I think people don’t have a problem with the way these heroes put people in a hospital because incapacitation is often necessary. Incapacitation of an opponent could result in concussion or broken limbs or whatever. I think the moral code held by most traditional superheroes has been not crossing that line of murder/homicide.
Arguably, Superman, with his extreme might and x-ray vision and countless other powers could or should be able to incapacitate most (or nearly all) opponents without f-ing them up to the point of hospitalization.
But Batman’s just a dude. He’s arguably got no choice but to break some arms on his way to save the innocent victim or capture the big bad or whatever.

@Tim Hammack nailed it.

Call me old school but I don’t like my super heroes killing their enemies unless its self-defense…

The thing that annoys me is that why does comicbook universe’s justice system sucks? You would think that the most heinous of villains would have already been sentenced to death by now? Anyway, back to the topic, super heroes killing their villains is only acceptable if its self-defense…

I agree with henryjvs, my heroes don’t kill. If we want to get “realistic” about our superheroes and have them act like murdering vigilantes then we should see governments create a super powered police force to deal with those so called heroes. Realism has nothing to do with comics, these are supposed to be people who act according to a higher standard.

At least that should be the case with Marvel and DC. These are characters who should be able to appeal to all ages. Other companies with characters who do not have the same history (Invincible from Image for example) can act differently because there is no tradition to uphold. Heck, DC and Marvel can do it too, create a separate line of comics with all new characters who are wholly separate from the mainstream universe.

I see a lot of guys in these type of “Won’t someone think of the children!” arguments cite Manga, but you guys do know that books like Naruto, Bleach, DBZ and many others feature violence, high body counts, and heroes who kill, not to mention plenty of sexualized females.

Surely you’re not assuming that simply because they are popular among kids (though not near as much as they used to be, but that’s a different thread) they are as bland and harmless as you assume most of the stuff kids like are.

Naw people on the internet making false assumptions because they think it will aid an argument against something they hate, what am I thinking.

I don’t think that we’re looking at a trend in the New 52, since the violence in these books seems counterbalanced by books like Action Comics and Wonder Woman, both of which have portrayed violence with a sense of horror and grief. Diana dismembers a centaur in her first issue, admittedly, but then the funeral pyres in #3 make the title’s death toll anything but impersonal. Meanwhile, Grant Morrison and Rags Morales have given us a more hot-headed Superman, but they have also emphasized his weary expression in combat and his outrage at the suffering of dispossessed citizens. He has not yet crossed the line in that title, despite threats to the contrary, and his anger has roots in moral outrage. Which is to say that DC is publishing titles that confront violence rather than simply exploiting it for titillation.

The trend isn’t in comics publishing, but in the writing of Geoff Johns, whose output over the last few years has consistently wobbled between maudlin displays of nostalgia and panoramic scenes of slaughter, both escalating in step. Sinestro Corps War generated a story logic for the new standard of lethal force, but then ended with a saccharine homily to heroism. Blackest Night gave us zombies to be mangled without consequence, but then ended with an arbitrary selection of fan favorites brought to life as if by fan sentiment. It’s a heady mix, to be sure, but one that increasingly demands the manufacture of vermin-like foes without inner life or moral worth. Sure, the JLA members are only killing mindless constructs and monsters beyond redemption, as far as we know, but that distinction preserves their in-story virtue without salvaging my interest. I’m bored of stories that imagine beings worthless enough to be destroyed; it feels too close to the social logic that makes it all too possible to passively believe that smelly people in tents are fair game for tear-gas. I don’t think that’s what Johns is saying, to be clear, but the resonance has soured me on the story conventions that pop up in his work without fail.

What Dooper said, more or less.

I dont know what half of those words mean.

Should police officers be despised for killing in the line of duty?

@Dan C. also nailed it.

@Nailsin – no. As long as lethal force is justifiable in a given set of circumstances, police should not be despised for killing in the line of duty. Superheroes are fantasy, moral standards to look up to. Police do an extremely hard job and should be commended for having the courage to do it.
They should also commended for performing tasks that many would not be able to do, including the very tough task of killing people when necessary.

I don’t think Superman pulling the heads off of stupid, genetically-engineered beings is tantamount to a real-life, flesh and blood having to make a judgment call that he or she will have to live with the consequences of for the rest of his or her life. Pretty different things, really.

That should read “… flesh and blood person…” Left that last bit out.

You guys are a bunch of babies if you’re still worried about things like this. Does anybody here(without kids) really care if comic books are kid-friendly anymore?

Things change, fanboys. DC is doing some different now. Hence the term, “REBOOT.” Why go through the trouble of a reboot if you’re going to do everything the same as you did before?

Peruse those early comics with the Golden Age Batrman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others…violence was handed out to criminals almost always with wink and a smile.(Hell, some depictions during the war could be argued as down right racist)

I would argue that the kids of today have had ‘cartoon/video” violence so ingrained in their entertainment diet, they don’t see what the big deal is tearing into a parademon.

I don’t view this as a social problem of kids experiencing more ‘cartoon/video” violence because of the portrayal of superheroes in the New 52. I view this as subverting the nature of Superman’s character.

If you want to put it in the social arena, you could argue that it’s “a shame” that kids might not get to experience Superman’s uniqueness. He had the powers of a god but tried his best to act like Gandhi. Inevitably, because stories revolve around conflict, Superman has had to resort to violence to resolve nearly every (or maybe absolutely every) conflict he’s found himself in.

I’m not taking issue with the presence of violence in superhero comic books. The first superhero comic was called Action Comics. I’m taking issue with what seems like it might be an unfortunate portrayal of a character that is meant to embody the best of humanity (even if he is an alien).

Superman’s the one that was supposed to be the model or set the standard for the rest. If he’s decapitating and maiming willy-nilly, that’s not going to make for more ‘realistic’ portrayals of life.
Are we supposed to think he’s more realistic because of his lack of discretion? Maybe. If you want to compare him to the leaders of the real world, then maybe it is realistic for him to be amoral and to be slaughtering foreign beings with little (if any) forethought.

If the fictional, everyday people of the DCU have that to look to as a model of the best, then the new DCU will be a very dark place indeed.

I feel that all the killing is unjustified. People who talk about “realism” and “What would you do” and “what about nazis” and so on just don’t seem to understand something.

Heroes are modern mythology. Part of that mythology is the quality of mercy and the belief that things can be corrected, made better for everyone. It’s a belief that is powerful (like all beliefs.) Heroes don’t kill because there is a chance, no matter how small, that EVERYONE can be satisfied, if not happy. It’s true, real life isn’t like that, but isn’t it worth trying to make it that way?

Superheroes can do that.

Heroes show us that those with power can be kind, that they can modulate their power, to use it not just to destroy or force their own will on others, but to lift others up and give them the chance to succeed. As Superman says at the end of the White Martian arc in Morrison’s League (paraphrased): “We’re here to catch (Man) when (he) falls.” They do not overbear with their presence. They react because mankind needs to make its own mistakes. They don’t “fix the world,” they keep it from sinking so that WE can fix it.

Superheroes don’t kill.

Death removes possibility. Death is the end. Sometimes death is necessary for the greater good, but not until every other option is exhausted. YES, it is more expedient, but NO, it should never be the first or only response.

Even Wonder Woman and Aquaman should be RELUCTANT to kill. They may see the necessity of it more than the rest, but they should also understand that killing outright is not the first solution.

Superman, at this point in his career, should technically NOT be the “brash kid.” That’s supposed to be (or so I thought) his “Action Comics” phase. When he dons the (ugh) “armor,” he’s supposed to be grown up. And why is being a “boy scout” a bad thing? What does that say when being good and trying to make sure everyone wins is derided and looked down upon? It reminds me of the old argument about how Superman is such a dull character because he can do anything. It is precisely because he CAN do anything – but chooses NOT to that makes him interesting.

Anyway, that’s my 2c.

It really depends on the hero.

Guys like Spider-Man and Batman should absolutely never kill under any circumstances.

I’m fine with Captain America or Superman killing as a last resort.

I’m absolutely cool with Wolverine dropping henchmen like flies.

I THINK EVERYONE’S OVER THINKING IT. In green lantern its just an alien, so what, Hal Jordan is not going to kill every enemy that stands in his way, it was just one minor sinestro corps member. FURTHERMORE, superman wont become a mass murdering ant-heroe, everyone’s over thinking that, it was a lousy parademon. And How many times have they destroyed Braniac?is that killing?See there’s a grey line and were fine with superheroes knocking off minor characters, but like robot 6, if they kill someone importent like the joker ,well, thats crossing the line. I would be displeased just becuz i know the story would be so stupid and convoluted.

Lethal force works GREAT for The Punisher.

My only problem with the act of killing in these comics is .

Personally, I think Hal Jordan, being a space cop dealing with threats far more deadlier that the thugs who live among us in the streets, should be allowed to kill when the need calls for it. But only when pushed. As enforcers of the law, they would be required to try restraining or capturing the criminals first before resorting to deadly force.

Wonder Woman is an Amazon from a warrior race. And Aquaman comes from a different, more primal culture. While killing shouldn’t be their first course of action, it would logically come easier to them.

Flash is a cop. So he would naturally try to serve and protect first, but if needed, would be mentally capable (not necessarily willing) of killing.

My only concern would be Batman and Superman. Unless they’ve changed Superman’s origin, the man was raised by everything that is good about America. (I’m not even America but I can tell the good American values from the ugly ones) So one would think life is more sacred to him than anyone else on the league. I understand that there may be situations wherein he would beed to exercise deadly force, but it shouldn’t be that easy and unconsciable to be him. Same with Batman. His motivation stems from a death related trauma. Death is part go who he is and part of his demons. I would imagine he would be capable of it, more so than superman, but only as a last resort.

And therein lies the concern. The fact that they seem to carry about with such wanton disregard for life. It’s not the act of killing that bothers us. We have been exposed to far worse. As our heroes, we do expect them to hold a certain moral responsibility given their great power, and the ease by which they kill, some might say gleefully even, makes them less of what they ought to be, rather than “cooler.”

Oops. Erased part of my first sentence:

“My only problem with the act of killing in these comics is the ease by which they take to it .”

The post-Crisis, Pre-New 52 Superman has killed. Remember John Byrne’s Supergirl Saga storyline? Superman goes to the pocket universe created by the Time Trapper to discover that universe’s General Zod has exterminated all life on that pocket Earth after the death of that Earth’s Superboy. After capturing Zod, Quexl-Ul and Faora, Zod vows to escape and follow Superman to his world to kill him and all life on earth, which made Superman decide to execute them with Kryptonite from the pocket universe .

Police officers are authorized by law to kill criminals within certain boundaries… In the DCU and Marvel U, most super heroes are not authorized. I feel that comicbook writers tend to forget this, one of the issues I had with the whole Marvel Civil War was the lack of respect for that U’s laws…

Yes, I know they’er all fictional but that’s besides the point considering the premise of the whole discussion is regarding the fictional world of comicbooks!

Not for nothing is Superman called the “man of tomorrow.” He’s suppose to inspire us to be better. He embodies the best qualities in humanity, chief among them being mercy. Superman absolutely should not kill. However, he also shouldn’t be depicted as an extreme pacifist either. In the truly atrocious Superman Returns movie he never once throws a punch or uses force to stop anyone. That’s also the wrong idea. Superman should get into fights with guys who can take it, and then beat them into submission without killing them.

Heroes who have been established as being against killing like Batman or Superman definitely shouldn’t kill. But, heroes who have been traditionally depicted as willing or eager to kill like Wolverine or the Punisher should continue to kill their foes. Also if a creature is sentient or has independent thoughts then it should count as killing, although I’m pretty sure superheroes have been killing sentient robots in comics for decades.

“Not for nothing is Superman called the “man of tomorrow.” He’s suppose to inspire us to be better. He embodies the best qualities in humanity, chief among them being mercy.”

I’m sorry, but having mercy for Parademons, is like having mercy for a shark as its trying to eat you. Parademons are not people, they are self replicating, self repairing, engines of destruction, given a rudimentary appearance of life by the creation forges of Apocalypse. They are not alive.

But just as a side note, there are hundreds of thousands of these things pooring through portals invading the earth, what are these characters meant to do… “oh well, we could have destroyed them, but we thought, no better not, its better that we let them kill & enslave the earth on the basis that it might compromise our integrity.”

Seriously, if aliens ever did invade, i swear most of you would let them on the basis that well they came all this way, turning them back would be considered rude..

Well, I wonder if the New DC really thinks of their product as modern mythology or, more likely, just entertainment. I don’t get the sense that Geoff Johns’ stories really try to impart an ethical code of behavior for how super-powered beings should act, so much as he wants to up the level of threat so that their super powers are tested. Not exactly a condemnation of his work but it seems Johns is more interested in exploring the “super” rather than the “man”.

However, it is a problem when Superman is just viewed as a predictable boy scout. Why would consumers want to check in on his monthly adventures if they already know, in general, what he’s probably going to do? That safe, predictable Superman is great for beach blankets and coffee mugs but doesn’t really push monthly issues into more hands. Not saying he should kill to become commercially viable, just that the challenge is that both his powers and his moral core are unshakeable that it’s hard for many writers to know how to write an engaging story. Not impossible, though. I loved Morrison’s All-Star Superman and Alan Moore’s Supreme stories.

I think Marvel’s more fallibly human, less powerful and mythically iconic characters are able to explore the idea of killing a bit more believably and arguably than DC’s. I love that in Avengers Academy, the superheroes-in-training are dealing with the fact that they had to kill in a war. Some are shrugging it off as a necessity, some are shaken either because the enormity of it or that it didn’t seem as bad/challenging as they thought it should be. Although an acknowledged killer, Wolverine has several stories in which he’s tried to protect the younger charges from crossing that line: it may be absolutely necessary that first time but each time you face it, the easier it is to say it is necessary and cross it once more (at least, that’s what he says).

If I had my druthers, I’d break down some Justice League heroes as follows (pretty obvious off my choices when I started reading):
Kill with little regret: Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter.
Kill with some regrets: Both Flashes, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Hawkgirl
Kill in self-defense and/or with an angst-ridden storyline: the Atom, Kyle Rayner, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna.
No kill: Superman, Batman, Elongated Man.

People writing stories about heroes are likely to give those characters admirable personal traits, characteristics that the writer and audience aspire towards themselves … such as, apparently, the ability to turn the cranium of one of your enemies into so much cottage cheese.

One way to measure a person’s level of maturity is to look at just what character traits they find admirable. It takes some wisdom to realize that the ability to f**k s**t up is not actually all that impressive; in fact, that’s precisely where our weakest and basest impulses would lead us. Villains f**k s**t up routinely.

Heroes, on the other hand — although fully able to f**k s**t up, even extraordinarily able to do so — make a conscious choice to show restraint instead, to aspire to something greater. They rise above the petty impulses of the common horde. They demonstrate for the rest of us that we’re capable of more than stunning displays of barbarism.

What the hell kind of stupid children are writing (and editing! and managing!) for the major comics companies nowadays?

IMO the problem is that the only remaining audience willing to pay the inappropriately-excessive prices to keep up with monthly comics consist of adult men with profoundly stunted notions of right-and-wrong. The big-two comics companies favor writers who are willing to pander to the worst impulses of their shrinking audience.

When I was a child, fictional super-heroes helped teach me the meaning of self-sacrifice and human dignity in its highest, truest sense. Now, comics are filled with anti-heroes who fairly revel in how indistinguishable they are from their villains in ethical terms, if one stops to actually think about it.

Meanwhile, many wonder why the audience for such pablum continues to shrivel. Don’t we get enough ugliness from the daily headlines? For God’s sake, let’s have a few heroes who model something better than that for the rest of us to aspire towards.

@claypool2011
“Barking up the wrong tree”? Yeah, could be. But there’s no reason to think any reform of the big two companies will come from creators within, given the editorial mandate to sensationalize and pander to their constituency in any and every way imaginable. I was merely speculating about the possibility that some newcomer to the business from above, someone with clout and good sense, would realize what it was that made super-heroes matter to the general public in the first place.

I’m not arguing that no hero should ever kill, nor that there isn’t a place for the visceral violence etc. associated with comics, what’s being argued is with the ease with which some heroes are doing it. I’m not against heroes killing in comics when it is a last resort and/or deemed necessary. I am against heroes with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men killing things out-of-hand just because they’re ugly, evil, different, threatening.

As far as the Trench go, I think it’s pretty obvious avenues have been explored to the extent with which it was possible; Communication broke down pretty quickly and I think it was justified.

As far as Superman v Parademons, there’s nothing wrong with that if you kind of squint. Superman should probably be taking a little more restraint; You can say that since he fought a parademon off-panel he knows enough about them to know he’s not “killing” them, but it’s a little unsettling the ease with which he’s tearing them apart given their humanoid appearance and sentient mannerisms. Again, depending on what happened off-camera, this might be completely justified.

Green Lantern has the least excuse to kill for at least two reasons. First, the Green Energy can do just about anything you put your mind to. If it can kill,it can certainly incapacitate. And with yellow being more of a plot device than a weakness nowadays, I’m not sure that was the best thing, Second, a force that (at least seems) to casually kill (it seemed effortless in the panels on display) is just going to foment FEAR OF THAT FORCE (woohoo, Green Lanterns spreading Fear!) I don’t think Green Lantern would be more opposed to killing than Superman, but in this case, I think it was overkill (pun not intended.)

And for those who maintain “well, it’s more interesting if they don’t,” this is true, but to view it as a matter of plot convenience destroys character consistency and story, and if you just arbitrarily decide that there’s no real reason to kill or not kill except to continue a story, then that’s not a good story. Logically, if you’re talking triage, minimizing damage to a patient (a society, a culture, humanity, the Earth itself) then any “hero” would be foolish not to don the garb of a supervillain, bring the world to heel under him, and construct a secret rebel force to oppose him, allowing Humanity to “regain power” ostensibly while the hero continues to work in secret defending the order he imposed through stealth actions against threats to the society.

i have no problems with lethal force, but the art makes it look like it’s the cool, heroic thing to do.

I remeber reading a weird little short story many years ago which had Superman in it, and some very weird shenanigans, but the Author in a neat piece of metafiction, had Superman make a comment along the lines of, in the end it doesn’t matter what you make me do or say because I as a character transcend what you put on the page. Neil Gaiman made a similar comment in an issue of Sandman where the characters were commenting on changes made to one of Shaespeare’s play’s wouldn’t last, and I believe that these characters which we’ve grown up with have become modern myths and work the same way. When a writer builds on the myth it becomes part of it, but the elements which don’t mesh with the core concept are soon forgotten. Time will tell.

Batman deals with this issue in catwoman #3 (worth a look btw)

What’s sad is I didn’t even notice these examples, I must be accustomed to it all :(

The poster saying that DC has given up on kids and women and so forth by doing this in oversimplifying things. It’s saying that kids don’t like the gore wich a lot of them do. It’s naughty, if anything it attracts them more. Furthermore the whole relaunch is about introducing a variety of readers, look at all the multucultural stance and woman solo titles. Not only that but why wouldn’t they want young readers when with this whole relaunch most of their characters have been reduced in age? I haven’t seen one pic since then where Superman doesn’t look like Superboy. If they really want older men to read this, it’s missing the boat.

Now as far as heroes killing, I have a big problem with it , especially how comics have become dark and cynical. It’s like DC has pretty much thrown Kingdom Come in the trash and said “I don’t give a fk!”. The only times I have a problem with heroes on their non-kill code is when for instance Batman is fighting someone, the guy falls off the building and Batman catch the guy. I like my heroes noble and true but i’ve always find those type of actions overdoing it. I want them to fight the bad guys and save civilians, I don’t want them to save the bad guys too. Unless you are an intellectual hero and you’re trying to prove a point. (Batman is brainy but he has other things to worry about)

Laurence J Sinclair

November 21, 2011 at 2:28 am

Isn’t the ring that Hal uses to kill that alien a creation of Sinestro, notably Not A Nice Guy? There’s always the escape clause that perhaps it’s making Hal more kill-happy than normal.

I want to see the so called “heroes” get some payback.

The Joker rapes Bat Man and Darkseid rips the head off Superman and uses it as a latrine. I’d even pay 4 bucks for that!

Don’t forget it would be realistic! Wow!

hugueknot wrote :
« I was wondering if (and hoping) this is gonna be addressed before this arc is over. I don’t think Aquaman killing the Trench is the same as Superman dismembering the Parademons, though (the later being worse). I was planning on letting my son read JL #3, but now I dunno … »

Really? In a world where GTA, Call of Duty, the SAW movies and Breaking Bad rule pop culture, you’re thinking of preventing your son from reading Justice League #3 because heroes are killing murderous aliens?

This. This right here. This is why comic books don’t stand a chance against other media. This is why more and more people have given up on comic books and turned to less intelligence-insulting forms of entertainment.

It’s one thing to say super heroes should represent the best among us, but what about keeping them relatable? There’s absolutely nothing I can relate to when I see Batman and Gotham City officials keeping Joker alive so he can kill again. You’ll tell me they’re keeping our sickest murderers alive behind bars in the real world, but they’re not escaping every other week.

I guarantee you that if there was a Joker in real life, constantly breaking out and killing more people, even the most liberal state will vote to end his life. There’s a certain logic to the argument that every murder Joker commits is blood shared on Batman’s hands.

I’m not saying go out there and kill people without due process — even if that’s what Navy Seals did with Bin Laden, and what Superman does in this comic — but if you’re going to capture someone and lock them up, they should know that should they escape, kill, and be caught again, they’re dead. Period.

Aquaman, Womder Woman and Green Lantern aren’t really ‘superheroes’ in the traditional sense, but this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have a moral code of ethics. It’s not that they choose to kill, that’s missing the point, it’s that they do so without hesitation or regrets.

They’re not superheroes any more, as they’re no more heroic or less sociopathic than the villains they face. Mark Waid predicted this in Kingdom Come, that the new generation of “heroes” would be uncaring, self-righteous hypocrites who fight only for themselves instead of for what is Right.

Didn’t Superman incinerate a bunch of parademons in Superman The Animated Series?

And people who are saying that ‘it’s more realistic’ for superheroes to kill need to stop and consider that these are funny books were talking about. Superhero comics were never designed to reflect the real world, they were designed to be BETTER than the real world. Batman not killing a mass murderer might not be the realistic course of action for him to take, but morally speaking it’s the course of action that only a superhero could take – that they’re strong enough to take the high road where no one in our world ever would is what made Superheroes such endearing characters in the first place.

DC could turn this around in a big way with a future event, where the world has enough of their lack of responsibility and places them on trial, forcing them to become better heroes.

James Collinge wrote :

« And people who are saying that ‘it’s more realistic’ for superheroes to kill need to stop and consider that these are funny books were talking about. »

And this kind of thinking is why comic books will never again be able to compete with TV, movies and video games. Because THEY’RE taking their craft seriously.

Just try to imagine if the makers of Call Of Duty decided “Bah, it’s just a video game, let’s have a pink elephant randomly walk across the battlefield, it’ll be funny.”

No matter what argument “purists” come up with, one thing remains undeniable — it’s not working. Traditional comic book storytelling methods are not working. Applaud their virtue all you want, you’re in the minority and soon there won’t be comic books anymore. And when that happens, everyone’s going to go « well maybe in hindsight we should have evolved with the times ».

I’m mostly echoing what others have already said, but I think a big part of it is what type of enemy is being faced. It’s different killing say, a Brood than it is killing like, Mad Hatter. I think the sentience is a big litmus test. So robots/zombies/bug-like monsters/aliens are all fair game. I thought Skrulls in Secret Invasion were over the line for non-military heroes to be killing. They’re aliens, sure, but they’re sentient and humans have interacted with them peacefully before.

I do think it’s okay for like, Green Lanterns or Shield agents to kill. They are officially sanctioned and properly trained, not just independent operators.

Can’t believe how blown out of proportion this was. If that was Aquaman killing a corporate executive for polluting (I notice that everyone commonly refers back to street crime, even when they believe themselves to be morally superior…nice way of perpetuating stereotypes of the poor) then I could understand outrage. But comics have constantly, I mean constantly held different standards for humans, humanoids, and “things”. No one ever questioned the death of a vampire in any comic, and I mean any comic. Unless of course that vampire was a hero. No one has ever questioned the killing of mindless robotic drones, which could have the same level of sentience as a Parademon or the Trench.

As for superheroes being something to live up to. I find that laughable, that we have to find some fictional creatures to aspire too. The creators of those comics created these characters to make money in the beginning, don’t let nostalgia cloud your judgement. They didn’t create them as some modern day myth (BTW: heroes in mythology did quite a bit of killing…but you know let’s ignore facts righ?). We, as readers, might have propped them up to that level but that just goes to speak more on our mindset. To say you aspire to be a piece of fiction is the same as saying you aspire to be like someone else’s ideal…

And about manga/anime: the most popular manga and anime have always been violent. Don’t prop the Japanese up to be some pillars of exceptionalism. Violence has gone hand-in-hand with entertainment for men for centuries.

So far as I remember, Hal Jordan killed three of their ex coworkers in the recent movie.

Evil Guardian, Hector Hammond….blanking on a third. But that’s prolly cause the movie was so forgettable.

Not having slogged through every response so far, I have yet to see one rather important point. Heroes who kill can have no hope of cooperation with the authorities. I realize this may not be a real issue in the New 52, as complete vigilantes who take the law into their own hands appears to be the preferred model. However, at what point can we keep calling them super HEROES? At what point is their effectiveness against crime (if that’s even a concern anymore) compromised by being so above the law that they end up having to fight the law? Does Commissioner Gordon remain the “good cop” of Gotham if he enlists the aid of a killing vigilante, or does he become as dirty as all the other cops who make up their own rules, above the law?

We’re leaning towards the anarchist (or else fascist, depending upon how you read it) world of The Watchmen, which worked precisely because it was not Superman and Batman.

Part of the appeal of superheroes is that their powers make using lethal force unnecessary. Wonder Woman doesn’t need to kill because she has means to avoid it without worrying about self-defense issues. Superman can apprehend the sniper at the mall without hurting himself—or anyone else. If all they use their powers to intimidate and kill their opponents, they are no longer heroes, but bullies and self-appointed judge if not dictator.

If a murderous, reckless Superman is the Man of Tomorrow, give me yesterday.

-Neil

I’m guessing the parademons are the same as always. After all in the DCU animated universe they’ve beaten up, melted by Superman’s heat vision (in S:TAS) and even decapitated in the last episode of JLU. Green Lantern’s in general have this odd relationship with killing. They do kill (and considering how violent their books are I can’t say I’m surprised) but Hal’s not the only one who has killed who’s worn a ring. I wonder how Batman and his non-killing stance would view Hal and the other GL’s in general if he saw them operate on a day to day basis?

Sending supervillains off to jail to escape and murder again eventually is far more irresponsible and wrong than simply ending their threat when given the chance.

Superheroes are breaking the law by being crime fighters. To be accepted by society or trusted to do what’s right, they must follow a code- no killing (yes it can happen, but it should be their goal).

And if Joker (or whoever) is so bad, then society should put him to death- not Batman. Is it the arresting police officers job to kill criminals- is it their fault if criminals escape jail or get released and kill again? No it’s the courts.

I dont think its very heroic to put mass murderers in prison only to have them repeatedly break out and continue to murder while hiding behind a mantra of no killing. We have seen that in comics forever and it has never made sense to me. To me being a hero is about making tough decisions to ensure the safety of everyone and repeatedly putting dangerous killers in jail knowing they’re going to break out again and kill some more when you have the power to stop it forever makes that “hero” culpable in those future deaths. The “hero” goes above the law to put themselves in the thick of these issues only to sidestep any real responsibility because it isnt their place? Talk about hypocritical.

Holy smokes.

Am I the only one who thinks everyone’s over thinking this too much? On both sides.

I grew up in violent neighborhoods, watched violent tv, movies, read comics with violence, etc, since I was very young and guess what? I’m not a violent person.

That’s because I’m not an idiot who thinks any of the above mentioned is anything but fake.

End of story.

« If a murderous, reckless
Superman is the Man of
Tomorrow, give me yesterday. »
-Neil

Then, in yesterday you shall remain, while the comic book industry closes its doors once and for all.

No one is saying “reckless & murderous” — that you have to resort to such extremities to make your point reflects how thin it actually is.

We’re saying that Batman should have killed the Joker a long time ago.

Not in a reckless, murderous way. But in a solemn, for-the-greater-good, let’s-save-some-lives kind of way.

Please tell me how you expect our troops abroad to maintain world peace without the clearance to kill. Rather, consider how quickly terrorist/evil empires would raise and spread in this context.

Either give us stories we can relate to like TV, movies and video games have all managed to do, or just close the curtain on comic books once and for all. The slow and painful death while a vocal minority continue to champion “yesterday” is difficult to watch.

I don’t like the message that DC is tacitly agreeing with: that killing bad guys is not a big deal, and that it’s okay. I posted my thoughts on the topic here: http://www.caseyjonescaseyjones.com/?p=289

I’d love to know what you think.

@ jyeager11

Either give us stories we can relate to like TV, movies and video games have all managed to do, or just close the curtain on comic books once and for all. The slow and painful death while a vocal minority continue to champion “yesterday” is difficult to watch.

A big Amen. JL is a T rating comic too and it’s content is no different from many action cartoons on Cartoon Network and if DC wants to continue to have old commentators and old hard core readers wag their fingers at younger readers who seem to understand the rule of comics, then say good bye to the genre or write comics for 10 years and under.

Fact I am kinda sick of the new DCU being commented upon by longer time readers while many new ones are left out. Dan Didio is you listening…listen to your sales cause that is a gauge to success not the soap boxing of a loud minority.

If you want violent realism in fictitious form, you may as well watch live action films and television shows. Those are at least populated by actual humans pretending to do stuff. Comics most often depict clumsy approximations of biped beings that may or may not be human(s) performing what are, mofe often than not, impossible feats.

If you want realistic comic books, at least stop reading superhero stuff. Read ‘Scalped;’ it’s awesome, and very well-crafted, and doesn’t involve aliens from Krypton, radioactive spider-bites, or gamma irradiated, involuntary hulking out.

Superman doesn’t need to be extinguishing lives. The dumbass who lives down the street and has a second grade education can do that with just as much or as little thought if you give him a gun.

Heroes should be heroic. They should be better than the average person. They should never kill.

This should not even be a debate regarding Batman and Superman. If they start deliberately killing, they become forces of terror backing the injustice of the political systems of everyday life. Batman has good reason to never kill- his parents were killed- and he knows that no one should have to suffer the pain caused by murder.

Superman, on the other hand, believes ultimately in law and order and working within the system. If he killed he would be setting himself up as a separate law over humanity. If he did this, he might as well become the Stalinist Superman and rule over us directly. Much less would die in s Superman run world.

Heroes should not kill because they are heores and better than us. A real hero defeats the vile villain that the audience wants to see killed, but the hero does not do this because the hero is better than us.

Now, just because we should have heroes that do not kill, like Batman and Superman, this is not to say there is not a place in comic books for less heroic characters that might kill, like Wolverine. Wolverine, when written in the best way, is somewhat tortured by his killing and walks the line between humanity and being a monster. He is often one of those characters that knowingly takes on the pain of being a killer so that he had make the world a place so others never have to know the pain of fighting and killing.

On the other hand, it is quite disturbing that sociopaths that were once villains, like the Punisher, are no considered fit for the lead in comics. I can’t bring myself to call him a hero, but the Punisher originated as a villain because he killed. Yes he killed villains, but being a remorseless killer is being a villain. I can’t speak to how he is portrayed today, and perhaps the character is complex and interesting, but he should nor be considered a hero.

A hero is someone who risks themselves for others, never placing their life above anyone’s, even that of the villain. The hero should embody our highest aspirations for humanity- truth, justice, compassion, and redemption. Back in the 70s and 80s Batman believed in the redemption of the villains he fought. Most of them were mentally ill. Catwoman reformed. The Riddler is now much more interesting as a largely reformed rival to Batman as the world’s greatest deceive.

Murder and violence are not necessarily realistic and they are not necessarily good interesting writing. Good stories can be inspiring and be about human values. While there is room in sequential art literature for murderous protagonists, there must always remain room for actual heroes with standards and morals, like Batman and Superman. The Dark Knight Returns shows that a dark gritty Batman story is possible when Batman still refuses to kill.

Heroes should be what we aspire to be. That is what makes them heroic. They are strong, determined, and willing to go the extra effort to find that way that does not violate important values. Lazy scum are the ones that torture and kill to allegedly protect the innocent. Sometimes stories about such flawed characters are interesting, but even flawed heroes need some values, otherwise they just become jackbooted thugs supporting an indefensible system of exploitation and repression.

Really, it all comes down to the “practical” aspect that was cited at the beginning of the article. There’s only one Joker, one Lex Luthor, one Kingpin, one Doctor Doom, etc. So if any of those A-list villains do get killed, there’s a glaring hole in the mythos. However, there are thousands, if not millions, of Hydra agents, Hand ninjas, Skrulls, Parademons, Dominators, and various nondescript alien invaders out there in the Marvel and DC universes, so that you can kill dozens of them off without making a dent in their numbers. The whole notion of “heroes don’t kill” is merely a long-standing attempt by the Big Two to explain away why it is okay to kill a Parademon but not the Joker.

i don’t think DC is referring to them as super-heroes right now anyway. they’re either Metas or Masks. Maybe a super-hero code has yet to evolve in the DCnU.

just realized, i didn’t mind that buffy was slaying vampires and other humanoid monsters, so why should i mind aquaman or superman slaying (?) non-human enemies? maybe they’re just sights and sounds to forget by the end of the book..

Much ado about nothing I think. The only egregious example given is the Green Lantern one. The others are different. Why?

Zombies.

The trench and the current Parademon thing are just zombie stories dressed up like other things. It allows the writers to explore real danger without real killing. These are all relatively mindless killing machine droves of monosyllabic monsters. that’s a zombie more or less. No one would care if they were plowing thru zombies. I have no doubt that when it comes to real grounded characters that the angst and torture of how to deal with the use of force and what is appropriate will return.

also, if you are trying establish a universe where supers exist but are truly feared by the regular people…you have to have them witness things that are truly frightening to a regular person. A world where the supers can save you from hordes of mindless other dimensional killers is great…but if you saw them do it with vicious raw power…well that is scary. it also creates emotional stories as the supers discover that they have responsibility not only to what they do but HOW they do it.

I suspect that is where we are heading.

I do however think that the fact the we are seeing similar plots (hordes of mindless killing pawns) in several titles…Justice League, Aquaman, and Lantern Corp comes to mind…does seem to reveal a bit of lazy writing IMO.

Googam son of Goom

November 22, 2011 at 8:05 am

They’re not really heroes anymore if the ethical code of most people I know is of a higher standard than iconic characters. I blame the Punisher for starting the downward spiral ;)

Googam son of Goom

November 22, 2011 at 8:07 am

I would like to add that we live in an age that glorifies serial killing i.e. Dexter. I blame Jason for the downward spiral. See it all starts in the 70s. LOL

That´s too much hypocrisy.

DC has been cashing for decades in the fact that their heroes are HEROIC, unlike Image comics, unlike Marvel.

“Kingdom Come” is based on this premise: Superman must return to teach morality to the new generations of misbehaving heroes, and so on.

Now IMAGE comics assimilated DC, literally, and it´s turning the Justice League into the “Wildcats” or “Youngblood”. :P

Perfect.

@Mr. Jones:
I’d be the same way about Aquaman killing anyone – executive or not – without attempting other methods of resolution. So,not really arguing anything there, you’re just dredging up something currently not being discussed. Oh, and one of the reasons no one complains about Vampires is that Vampires are, by definition, dead. Though I would feel the same way if heroes were slaughtering *sentient vampires who had the ability to be reasoned with and other methods existed for dealing with them.* I can see Aquaman responding to the Trench forces with lethal force in the immediate, given the circumstances.

Many people find fictional creatures to aspire to. Ever heard of angels, gods or spirits? As children we are taught to live up to Santa Claus’ morality. Media and Entertainment constantly push false sterotypes and larger-than-life personas (or outright fabrications) as moral points. Some inspire you to be better, others scare you into doing so. It’s not hard to find these examples of exaggerated (and thus at least in part) fictional creatures. It’s also OK for you to be “like” someone else’s ideal. Most people aren’t self-contained islands and they tend to grow by associating with others, taking on others’ morals and values which they may not have thought about or considered, but find valuable and incorporate it into a self-image.

As to your point about mythology, you’re further arguing a point that was never made. No one is ignoring the facts of ancient mythology. I was, however, referring to a “modern” mythology, in which we are extolling “civilized” values that include the sanctity of life and the desire to elevate everyone as possible. Would you like to address *this* point? Is this a valid set of morals and values or should we discount it because it’s pretty much unreachable in the real world?

No one is arguing the point of using violence, but we are talking about blurring the line between what is acceptable and what is not in terms of final result. We can agree to disagree, but it’s better if we discuss the points at hand and try to keep the snark to a minimum.

@JYeager

I don’t think your argument is entirely accurate; Just because the way a comic universe “works” isn’t in line with your tastes doesn’t mean it is unrealistic or unable to compete. In fact, the very nature that it offers an alternative to the grittier kinds of storytelling you’re talking about would make it a more unique commodity which might benefit it.

And is it worth “evolving” to a point where the characters are not what they were? And before anyone jumps on me for trying to say these are the same characters that were originally penned in the early half of the 20th century, I’m not making *that* argument.

I AM saying, however, that comic books should evolve with the times and I think that this particular evolution is unnecessary and at the very least disheartening. Frankly, I think that if the characters don’t resonate with the modern day, then the characters should retire, secure in their long-espoused views and let legacy characters pick up the symbol, the shield, the banner, whatever. I think that trying to shoehorn longtime, fan-favorite characters into this sort of format and mindset is disrespectful to the characters and the long-time fans.

Your comment about how this affects “our troops” is also wildly out of context. We are not dealing with the “real world.” We are dealing with a fictional world where a man can create anything of any level of lethality with a magic space ring and a world where a man can field-strip every weapon on a battlefield in the blink of an eye while holding a tank in one hand (which will not rip apart from inertia) and scan every soldier for lung cancer in the process.

It’s the difference between expediency in dealing with a situation, or the hope that it can be better.

You like the modern day shooters, the Call of Duty (with unrealistic elements like regenerating health bars), and the desire to kill in the short term in the hopes that it will fix things in the future. Guess what? That is a completely valid point. But you should also acknowledge that maybe others’ views are valid as well. Maybe it’s not the morality that is the issue with failing comic sales.

Maybe it’s the issue that the heroes don’t stand for anything because they’re 60 years old, change minds with the whims of editors, and their stories never finish, just get retold and rehashed because comic companies don’t want to take the bold step of creating legacy characters – not new characters, but rather legacy characters who deserve to bear the name and standard but are also their own person.

@jyeager11 (and @MK, @etc.)
I don’t doubt that you are a dedicated and sincere fan of comic books. Nonetheless, I suspect that you, like the vast majority of dedicated and sincere fans, have no idea what makes for a good comic book story. Fictional stories succeed not simply by resembling real life in its factual details but by expressing something truthful about life that is counter-intuitive or less-than-intuitive. Knowing how to do that is what makes a person a good writer of comics, as opposed to a good fan or even or a good critic of comics (either of which you may very well be). Who was it — Marty Pasko perhaps? someone of his era — who remarked once in a fanzine about how the people who buy comics shouldn’t have their wishes attended to by those who create the books, basically because the fans don’t usually have the first clue about what goes into making a good comic, not even with the comics those very fans like the most. (It’s hardly a coincidence that as the fans moved in and took over the roles of creators at the big two comics companies in the 70s and thereafter, the quality of the books began a steady decline that has only steepened to this very day.)

Modern comics have very few, if any, truly-gifted writers, and even fewer (if any) gifted editors or business people calling the shots. It’s the fault of the companies themselves, who have historically mistreated every gifted creator unfortunate enough to cross their paths (… take note, those of you who remain, and ask not for whom the bell tolls when it finally tolls for thee — you know as well as I what happened to Bill Finger and all the rest down through the years, right up to the most recent victims — R.I.P. Gene Colan …)

@Sureiachan

Your nuanced comments suggest that you have a gift for being at least a good critic or a good editor of comics, if not a writer (hard to tell on that last one; it takes even more than sharp analytical skills to move people’s hearts). Anyway, IMO, superhero comics are in desperate need of all of the above — sharp critics, sharp writers even moreso, and sharp editors above all (who the hell are those people? jeezis! no sense of history, no love for the medium — nuthin’ but paycheck-cashing slot-filling zombies, the lot of ‘em! graahr! …).

“If you want violent realism in fictitious form, you may as well watch live action films and television shows. Those are at least populated by actual humans pretending to do stuff. Comics most often depict clumsy approximations of biped beings that may or may not be human(s) performing what are, mofe often than not, impossible feats.

If you want realistic comic books, at least stop reading superhero stuff. Read ‘Scalped;’ it’s awesome, and very well-crafted, and doesn’t involve aliens from Krypton, radioactive spider-bites, or gamma irradiated, involuntary hulking out.

Superman doesn’t need to be extinguishing lives. The dumbass who lives down the street and has a second grade education can do that with just as much or as little thought if you give him a gun”

Not trying to disrespect your POV about Superman. For me, his greatest power is restraint. He CAN do things the quick and easy way – at times, he can be criticised because he doesn’t – but choses in the majority of cases to take the ‘hard path’ to set the example that just because you can… you shoudn’t.

One episode that sticks to my mind happened during the JLA Unlimited run where he was powerless and being attacked by a pack of hungry wolves. Off screen he took out the leader of the pack (i.e killed) and was wearing its fur as a ‘cape’ and leading the rest of the pack. To me, that’s a close representation of the ‘reality’ of violence and self-defense. In the ‘real’ world, you try to use deadly force as a last resort – not the first thing in your mind (a la Wolverine or other anti-heroes) and mainly when you have no choice and it’s either kill or be killed.

Again, in the earlier versions of Superman – writers of the time and you could argue the attitude of people of the time – ‘accepted’ that if a person perished it was mostly that person’s ‘fault’ as part of the choice to live a life of crime. “Crime doesn’t pay”.

In his history through the long years Superman has killed and sometimes through inaction caused the death of others: Off the top of my head: Golden Age Superman in the early years of his existence; Superman serial – Superman saves Lois and Jimmy (if I remember correctly) but doesn’t save the rest of criminals that die as a rocket explodes; G. Reeves TV series “The Stolen Costume” and Superman Cartoon 66 “The Parasite” episode. I would add that – as shown in theaters – C.Reeve ‘killed’ in Superman II (the additional cut scenes – of course, say otherwise)

Superman ‘mellowing out’ mostly in the comic books and being more a “I don’t kill EVER” – for me – I believe began thanks to the influence of the (now defunct) Comics Code.

Again, Supes not killing is cool with me but – especially kids nowadays who laugh at a Superboy and flying dog and even red shorts but don’t blink twice at violence in their entertainment (aside from video games; movies and anime) – arent’ too worried about Superman tearing into a parademon. Some would even say (like the lack of red ‘underwear’) “it’s about time.”

That’s just my opinion.

My heroes are gone, and replaced by attractive villains.

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