Tragic Comics Make Me Happy

I never really got into super heroes. So shiny and idealistic. So good and virtuous. Go fuck yourself. I like my heroes “anti”. I’d take Wolverine over Superman all day, every day.

Even with my unhealthy love of Mr. James HowlettI still prefer my stories to have a bit less organization. All these teams, leagues, and allegiances are hard to keep track of and make for a less personal connection for me.

Didn’t I watch all the X-Men movies? Yes.

However, I might be the only person who thinks X-Men Origins: Wolverine was the best of the bunch. Not because it won out against any fan-boy litmus test of what a comic movie should be but because it was darker, angrier, and more personal than the team-based features.

I got to know Logan (Wolverine, James, etc.) outside of the X-Men code of conduct. Outside of him being the lone, love struck, surly bad ass among a cast of do-gooders. And I enjoyed the darkness, anger, and personal connection of that world and his conflicted story.

In a story, there’s something lacking for me when there is a clear line between Good and Bad or everything can be saved or polished to a shine. When a hero can simply void the villain, it’s as if it never happened and it didn’t really affect anyone.

If Superman saves the world and puts everything back to normal, safe and sound the way they were before, was there ever really any danger? Is he really all that heroic? If he takes no damage and the bad guy slips away and all the civilians under the seats on the subway car are safe, so what?

It’s just a story about stuff that almost happened and could have been really bad.

It always bothered me that Supperman just did his job. His issue was never with Lex’s unending quest to foil him and take over the world; he was concerned with his day-to-day.

He had his friendships and his love life but neither was directly related to the conflict of his story, unless, of course, that good-for-nothing Lois got kidnapped again –which never really affected their relationship (did they ever argue about how much of a liability she is or how she’s the real fucking kryptonite?).

His Super Hero status is separate from his status as a person. Being a hero was his part time job that he did with the lack of enthusiasm that tends to come with side jobs.

While both Wolverine and Superman live everyday as men not allowed to simply be men, Superman compartmentalizes. His loneliness is his most humanizing quality but it rarely affects his bottom line. He puts the feelings aside and does a job. He’s so extraordinarily super that he’s safe doing this.

Wolverine is only what his he because he was never allowed to be a man and a mutant, just a mutant. He can’t close off his central conflict behind a door created out of suits and spectacles because his conflict is internal (and probably tracking him via satellite).

Also, Wolverine has never been anything but a man. But people refuse to see him as such. He’s vilified or victimized until he can prove otherwise, sometimes even needing to prove it to himself. Superman is welcomed with open arms into the human race by the vast majority who meet him and he knows what, who and why his is.

If I’m going to follow an individual, I need dimensionality. I need baggage they can’t just check because it’s inconvenient to carry it into a fight. And, I need conflicts that are actually about them or where there more is more than that of a deus ex machina.

Give me an Anti-Hero over a Super Hero any day.

“I’m an X-Man. Mutants like me, band of super heroes, good people, idealists, dreamers — forever looking for the best in others. With them, killing is a last resort. With me, it’s second nature. I take the world as it is, an’ give better than I get. Come at me with a sword. I’ll meet you with a sword. You want mercy. Show a little first.”

Wolverine #1 (Nov. 1988)