Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
[I’ve] pretty much been given free rein on Captain America and Daredevil and all the stuff I’ve written for [Marvel] to do whatever I do because they like what I do. Still, I know what I’m doing. I know the superhero comic has to have a fight in it. I know there has to be a bad guy. I know that at the end of the day, the problem will not be solved by talking about it but will be solved by two people punching each other in the face. Although I have gotten away with letting the bad guys win a lot of the time, which is more true, I think.
David Milch said, when he created Deadwood, that part of Deadwood was wanting to exorcise — I think he worked on Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue, and he thought it was bullshit that every week they were solving crimes when in the real world people were always getting away with it. He wanted to do something about crime the way crime really is, where crime is corruption and crime is behind everything. It’s much more about what’s really going on in our country right now, where Bill Clinton deregulates the media and now we have seven companies that basically own America. Sometimes when I’m writing a superhero story I wonder if they really have to punch each other in the face. Is that really going to solve anything? I feel the same way sometimes when I watch episodes of Law & Order. I’m like, “Yeah, right. You found the sex offender and now everything is fine.” TV is big on closure, but I think closure is horseshit in real life. I’m still haunted by stuff I did in my teen years when I think about it too much.
There’s a lot to chew on and pick apart and mull over in Tom Spurgeon’s long, fascinating interview with writer Ed Brubaker on the occasion of the launch of the next installment of his and Sean Phillips’s crime comic Criminal this week, but this is the passage that jumped out to me. I’ve often said that the core idea behind superhero stories is “extraordinary individuals solving problems through violence”; now that I think about it, what sets Brubaker’s Captain America and many of his other superhero comics apart is that the violence committed by their extraordinary individuals tends not to solve much of anything.