(caped men… in boxer briefs… in these chilly city nights
descend into… daring rescues.
‘no need to thank me’ gasping in his brawn,
her buxom chest heaving. ‘to the night!’
she does not know his face or name. she picks her purse up from unconscious
I never liked superheroes. just so lame. in their underwear, with their bourgeois values. they didnt have that aspect of ‘otherness,’ that raw rule-breaking feeling which is crucial in anything that is supposed to be ‘cool.’ a certain strangeness and edgy perverseness is prevalent in anime and manga,this is perhaps why these forms are more popular in more hipster circles of nerd culture… this factor of difference is what makes or breaks ‘cool’ for any commodity in the culture industry.
i was a savvy ten year old and i didnt buy into comics. they were too american for me, too ‘downhome.’ even in their new millenium dressings and blood drenched, pseudo-BDSM aesthetic for the video game and internet generation. even then, especially then, they were cheesy and try-hard.
Something changed in me, during one drunk night last year, when some friends and I indulged a nerdy roommate and agreed to watch her box-set of all those awful 80’s/90’s batman movies. even in a drunken careless haze i couldnt relax my sociological gaze.
I dont know what happened.. I fell in desperate amour.., not love, but obsession. I loved the gritty dirt of gotham- and batman taking down polluting industrialists. I stared transfixed and hypnotized at the primitive fight choreography. I didn’t pay any attention to the script. The dark streets and sooty brutalism of gotham inspired me. What was this alternative society? What was their economic order and political superstructure? What was the psychological orientation of gothamites.., so that a caped crusader, “the dark knight” would be taken as a part of their culture? I forgot that this movie was meant for 8 year olds. I was subsumed into the narrative’s daydream.
Over on idiot joy showland, this same fixation probably occurred to sam kriss. He wrote that batman was a fascist, beating down petty thugs and corrupt industrialists to ensure the prevailing order- to preserve the status quo. Batman is halting the revolution.
(God, look at me. There are Syrians drowning in the moat of Europe, fleeing the devastation our western capitalist empire has caused. Syriza capitulated in Greece. Leftist movements hold strong in England, Italy, Spain. While neofascist “alt-rite” nerds bitch about being forced to not be obnoxious. Cultural wars. Real wars. Virtual wars. Spiritual liberation is spreading thru the internet and Physicists are probing the Beloved Void with mathematics- and have uncovered the substrate of all existential possibility, the quantum vacuum., while species of earth creatures are being driven out of existence, their evolution and chemical orchestrations deleted….) But let’s talk about comic books.
What would a superhero be like in another society?. This phenomenon is entirely a capitalistic cultural form. (I heard the Chinese are making a superhero, and Russia has their own avengers movie coming out, but those countries are more-or-less capitalist.) why is this so? Why should the left be relegated to the role of psychopathic villains, trying to alter the society of the superhero for the worse; why should we sit back and be painted as totalitarian-inspired narcissists, nefarious, cat-stroking goateed mad scientists?
Where is OUR hero, a hero concerned with more than individual crime-fighting, a HERO concerned with social revolution, and saving the planet? Where is the People’s Hero?
In Soviet Russia, superhero is you! (:
Yes, I spent time actually thinking about this. Yes, I spent time sitting down to write about it for you, anonymous digital subject. Lets get into it, comrade.
The communist superhero could either be an underground revolutionary in a western country, or an orthodox public-figure style superhero in an established socialist order, say, Cuba, Venezuela a few years ago, old Yugoslavia, etc.
Personally, I think an underground radical superhero, working to fight corporate gentrification, police brutality against blacks and latinos, saving the environment, outwitting the media, holding politicians accountable, and leading our protests, would be fucking dope. Someone should get on that! I would support you.
So that is entirely possible, it is a workable comic book idea. You’re welcome, internet. You can have that one for free. Bear in mind that such a task would be of grave social and political import- comic book nonetheless. You would be charged with propaganda and ideologically corrupting the youth. But the guy writing Mr. Robot seems to be enjoying success. Maybe the time is right for progressive cultural activity. (:
But what happens after the revolution? Let’s say our hero is in some backwater second or third world nation- maybe Romania, Serbia, or Iran, Egypt, Morocco, or Argentina, Venezuela again, or Jamaica, or something… “Look, in the sky! Is it a bird, a drone, a satellite?! Wait- no! its Comrade Arazade! He’s shooting down NATO planes with his X-Ray vision! Go, Comrade! For the revolution!”
This could work. As Westerners, we would never see such subversive literature, but elsewhere, it might exist already.
But why was there no Soviet catwoman? No Chinese batman? My meditations have uncovered a few likely sociopolitical causes:
- There is still, as Agata Pyzik has pointed out, a certain high-mindedness that comes inherent with living in a socialist country. From having lived in a former one, I have witnessed that the materialism in people is a relatively new development, corresponding with transplanted capitalism and the western media flood. People in social countries are conscious about each other and existence- that’s the meaning of the social revolution. We don’t know anything about it over in the States. To a high-minded Eastern European or South American, those vintage marvel comic books were childish, toxic, ideological dribble for the automaton of the West. (like rock n roll, western degeneration). It simply wasn’t interesting- that’s why the Bureaucracy never commissioned a Soviet catwoman. Meow. (I like rock n roll. And I like catwoman, in fact, she’s my favorite.)
- After the social revolution, no one owns anything, and everything belongs to everyone. There is no petty crime- no muggers and thieves, generally. I’ve spoken with the older generations in the former Yugoslavia- they tell me they used to leave all their doors unlocked and open, all night. The kids would play outside late and there was no need to worry. Stealing from your neighbor is pointless when you can go and just take what you want, provided it made it thru the blockade, at the social storehouse. Or whatever the grocery store was. There was no crime on the street when stealing from someone else is technically stealing from yourself, and if there was, it would be more of a pathological thing. So there was no need for a batman to beat the shit out of the disadvantaged.
- Perhaps the strongest reason for no Soviet catwoman is that idealizing the individual hero is a prime example of a literary work espousing bourgeois ideology- such a concept would never make it passed the State censor. We are all in this together, one (wo)man won’t change or save the world… comic books are counterrevolutionary!
I think a cool twist would be an underground radical inside an established socialist order. The superhero could fight bureaucratic corruption and bribery and betrayers. He could beat the shit out of stalin and restore the beautiful dream She could ensure free elections and work with investigative agencies to eliminate bourgeois saboteurs… She could foil monarchist, fascist, capitalist, and nationalist plots…indeed, doesn’t it sound like the communist superhero’s narratives would be much more interesting and historically educational than Western counterparts?
It is possible the communist superhero would be relegated to military use and serving the State, something which is only subtly implied in capitalist comic books. our comrade would have to constantly fight the bourgeoisie in society, their secret regime-change plots and Western allies. It would be a busy life, for sure. When would megacomrade have the time to enjoy life, swim in the public pools, use the libraries, the symphony halls, go to sport events, be an artist, hunt and fish, and have free and safe sex with men and women in the name of existential liberation? What would be the point? Our megacomrade would have to fight for the World Social Revolution to ensure the peace and prosperity to Enjoy life!
Capitalist superheroes, of late, always work in a hierarchal organization (the Avengers, james bond in MI6 or whatever). They are just murder-automatons who need someone with cunning to tell them what to do. They do what they do either extremely efficiently or extremely bluntly, with brute force almost always. I think the communist superhero would be different- an enlightened and kind soul who changes the world not thru violence, but with cooperation- with the help of her friends!
all pictures taken off the google commons, appropriated in the name of social revolution. i would give credit, but they’re so easy to find!
gotham panorama picture from: http://batmananimated.tumblr.com/post/97262781831/gotham-city-panoramic-view-look-at-the-image-full
dope gotham illustration from: https://florinfecioru.wordpress.com/tag/gotham-city/