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Welcome to day 12 of [community profile] scans_daily's 30 Days of Winter celebration! Today's theme is deconstructing superheroes, comics that take apart the superhero mythos to analyze the nuts and bolts and find what makes it tick!


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Watchmen! The most well-known superhero deconstruction in comics, and certainly the most influential (though not always for the best). Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' 12-issue maxiseries changed superhero comics forever with its depiction of morally ambiguous superheroes facing nuclear war in a real-world setting.

So S_D, what are your favorite superhero deconstructions?

Stick with us for all 30 days of our month-long event! Tomorrow's theme is LGBT Comics! And our full calendar can be found here!

Date: 2010-12-12 08:26 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Always a fan of the original Squadron Supreme maxi-series, which predates Watchmen by a year, and is perhaps Mark Gruenwalds finest work.

A bunch of analog heroes (in this case the MU answer to the JLA, the Squadron Supreme) with their world in chaos following an alien invasion, basically take over with the intent to undo much of the problems of the world; crime, poverty, disease etc.

Problems arise from ethical conflicts within the team; if you have a device which can make anyone become "good", should you use it if it helps the world, or respect the individuals right to choose (even for people who showed no such restraint themselves?)

So villains and some disillusioned heroes have to co-operate to stop the heroes from going too far, and it all ends rather tragically.

Date: 2010-12-12 09:02 pm (UTC)
myniamh: (Default)
From: [personal profile] myniamh
The Authority did that well too. Although they didn't 'go too far' in the end, they were convinced they had through shenanigans.

Date: 2010-12-12 09:05 pm (UTC)
darkblade: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkblade
On the flip side of the coin from Watchmen there is Kingdom Come which made it's mark by deconstructing the morality (and lack therefore) of the grim and gritty Anti-Heroes from the Nineties. It also left some less than desierable marks on the modern industry mainly the overemphasis on the Silver Age much to the determent of several better characters created since then. None the less it is still well worth the hype it receives and everyone with any interest in the Superhero genre should take a look at it.

From the other side of the Pacific there is Darker Than Black an anime that details the lives of the superpowered beings known as Contractors who are primarily employed as covert operatives and assasins by Government Agencies and Criminal Syndicates. Little is known about the Contractors except that they receive their powers from the mysterious Hell's Gate within Tokyo, upon becoming contractors they lose their sense of morality and become sociopaths in the truest sense of the word and to maintain their powers they must engage in strange behaviours that range from breaking their own fingers to writing poetry. As you no doubt guessed based on that description the protagonists here are far from traditional superheroes, even to the point where only one character even has a costume. The show is more based around deconstructing superpowers than the kinds of people who posses them but it is related enough that I thought I'd count it here. If that interested you at all then there is some good news. The first season of the show is available for free on Youtube (as long as you are in North America. My apologies to readers elsewhere).

I might have more to contribute later.

Date: 2010-12-12 10:26 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
On the flip side of the coin from Watchmen there is Kingdom Come which made it's mark by deconstructing the morality (and lack therefore) of the grim and gritty Anti-Heroes from the Nineties.

Written by Mark Waid, author of Irredeemable.

Date: 2010-12-13 12:42 am (UTC)
fifthie: tastes the best (Default)
From: [personal profile] fifthie
But see, that was before the internet drove Waid insane by saying mean things about him.

Date: 2010-12-13 01:52 am (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
*Hmmm* Darker than Black sounds interesting: *Adds to my netflix queue*

Date: 2010-12-12 09:24 pm (UTC)
domino_blue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] domino_blue
Oh sweet time to bring out some 80's comics.

Date: 2010-12-12 09:29 pm (UTC)
majingojira: (Default)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
Well, I'd be remiss to not mention either Neon Genesis Evangelion, Martian Successor Nadesico or Super Dimensional Fortress Macross.

These genres are built on tearing apart, mocking or otherwise deconstructing the tropes of Space Opera, Robot Pilot Heroes and even the mediums they appear in.

In a fun little bit of parallel irony: Both Evangelion and Macross ran out of money towards the ends of their initial runs, but today are utter cash cow franchises.

Having recently marathoned it and its' movies in a 22 hour session split across 3 days (GOD WHY!?) I'd be remiss to not mention <i>Neon Genesis Evangelion</i>.

I love the franchise, but god, WHY DID I DO THE LAST 12 EPISODES + THE MOVIE IN A SINGLE GOD DAMNED DAY!? WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Further, what was I thinking doing character design analysis from a rhetorical stand point on a series whose later installments can be freeze framed for more detailed nuances in meaning and symbolism?

I handed the thing in almost a week ago now and I'm STILL RECOVERING FROM IT!

There's a lot more Anime deconstructions--which become Wildly popular int he US for some reason, but I'll only mention those three. Because some of the others are just mean.

Date: 2010-12-12 10:34 pm (UTC)
darkblade: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkblade
To be fair a lot of the symbolism in Evangelion wasn't really symbolic of anything and was just there to mess up people looking at it too closely.

Date: 2010-12-12 11:08 pm (UTC)
majingojira: (He Will Eat You Right Now)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
Why do you think I focused on character design elements? Color, Shape and Style over Crosses, Freudian Imagery and Existential Manifestations made things a lot easier.

Date: 2010-12-12 11:54 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
I'm a bit surprised you didn't mention Excel Saga, which deconstructed EVERYTHING, or FLCL, which was more of a stylistic deconstruction (plus general mayhem).

Date: 2010-12-13 12:41 am (UTC)
majingojira: (He Will Eat You Right Now)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
I would have also mentioned The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya since it deconstructs the very idea of Genre, or Paranoia Agent which deconstructs Japan's obsession with cute things, but I chose ones that were closer to the Superhero Deconstruction of the thread.

Date: 2010-12-12 09:56 pm (UTC)
blackruzsa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] blackruzsa
Hm....
Although I don't entirely understand the concept of Superhero deconstruction.....

Can I suggest The Filipino Heroes League?


Kinda like the aftermath of a 60s superhero boom in the security force in the country, eventually falling to squalor under budget cuts and a lack of supposedly "better" superheroes. XD Still ongoing, and despite the very simple put-together, the art is pretty damn awesome and the characters are well-rounded.

Date: 2010-12-12 10:04 pm (UTC)
majingojira: (He Will Eat You Right Now)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
Bandwidth Exceeded :( What's it called? I want to look it up!

Date: 2010-12-13 12:43 am (UTC)
majingojira: (WTF Guyver)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
It is now fixed...and now I see it's actually called the Philipino Heroes League.

heh. My bad.

Date: 2010-12-12 10:18 pm (UTC)
nezchan: Navis at breakfast (Default)
From: [personal profile] nezchan
I remember an old indie that came out in the black & white boom of the mid-80's called Power Plays, which was a fairly benign and often funny take on the whole "what if a random segment of the population suddenly got superpowers" idea. An odd little group coalesces around the charismatic and completely non-powered bookshop owner, Barker the Beagleman, who habitually wore a beagle mask even before the metahuman outbreak.

It was loads of fun, and at one point featured send-ups of Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Colossus with Three Stooges personalities.

Date: 2010-12-12 10:37 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Marshal Law. "Ultraviolent" is kind of an understatement; at times, it could make Lobo look restrained. I'm not as unreservedly uncritical as the writer linked above, since it could be pretty anvilicious and the protagonist's girlfriend gets fridged, but it's still pretty amazing in parts.

Date: 2010-12-13 12:45 am (UTC)
thehefner: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thehefner
I also feel like it was doing The Boys way before The Boys. Is that a fair view?

Date: 2010-12-13 04:24 am (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Kind of. It was a lot more succinct (some of which can be attributed to the shortcut of having the capes seem more grotesque simply by having Kevin O'Neill draw them) and ML himself never seemed that appealing; you never really get the feeling that Mills really admired his own creation, as opposed to Ennis and Billy Butcher.

Date: 2010-12-13 04:26 am (UTC)
thehefner: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thehefner
From whenever I skim through The Boys at the shop, I keep getting hope/sense that Ennis is setting up Butcher to be a villain in his own right for Wee Hughie to take down. But every other time, I feel like Ennis is holding Butcher up as the hero after all.

Date: 2010-12-12 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] karthzon.livejournal.com
I have a serious problem with superhero deconstructions. I mean, yeah, Watchmen was good, and so were a few others, but after a while, it just seemed (and still does in many cases) that the creators stopped deconstructing them "to see what makes them tick" (and reconstruct them better afterward) and started just destroying them for fun.

Just look at Batman. He got deconstructed several times in a row, every aspect of him got torn apart... and then they left him like that.

Date: 2010-12-13 12:43 am (UTC)
majingojira: (Default)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
We need a Reconstruction as epic and far reaching as Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann was--a Reconstruction that tackles the Grimdark and tears it appart.

WITH DRILLS.

Alan Moore's Top 10 or Tom Strong come very close, but haven't had any far reaching effects yet...

Date: 2010-12-13 01:13 am (UTC)
darkblade: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkblade
I'd say Gao Gai Gar was the more reaching Reconstruction of the mecha anime and TTGL was a response to that reconstruction.

Date: 2010-12-13 02:12 am (UTC)
majingojira: (Squirrels)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
And I'd disagree. I don't think ti properly addressed the points made by Evangelion nor did it have the full impact of Evangelion. It came to soon for the effects to be fully felt. Gurren Lagann allowed the concepts to crystalize in the minds of the viewers before shattering them with what came before.

But I haven't seen it all, so I could be horribly wrong.

But it's a cyclical thing, really. Mazinger to Gundam. Ideon to Dancougar. Dancougar to Macross. Macross to Gunbuster. Gunbuster to Evangelion. Evangelion to GaoGaiGar. GaoGaiGar to RahXephon. RahXephon to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann to Rebuild of Evangelion. Rebuild to Shin Mazinger.

We are at full circle.

Date: 2010-12-13 12:48 am (UTC)
thehefner: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thehefner
The problem with so many superhero deconstructions is that it's like they stopped reading Watchmen after the first or second issue. Moore started with subverting tropes, then went on to explore them and deepen their complexity. Underneath it all, it's still a love letter to comics and superheroes.

But in that first issue, Rorschach was a creepy, one-note, fascistic bigot. Moore went on to flesh him out wonderfully (that said, he's still a creepy fascistic bigot, but still an awesome character), but most writers seem to think that they don't need their deconstructed superheroes to be that flat. See also: many of the instances where Garth Ennis wrote superheroes.

Date: 2010-12-13 05:28 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Overall, I'm not a big fan of superhero deconstructions. They have a tendency to go too far, and some can be positively stomach-churning. That being said, 'Watchmen' is hard to find faults with, and if it counts, 'Astro City' is pretty nifty, too. (I'm not sure if that's a deconstruction or not, but it does show a lot of the nuts and bolts of how a superhero universe WORKS.)

Date: 2010-12-13 05:59 am (UTC)
stubbleupdate: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stubbleupdate
Does Marvels count?

Date: 2010-12-14 01:21 am (UTC)
pyynk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pyynk
Naw, I think that Marvels, like Busiek's Astro City, is more of a reconstruction style work.

Date: 2010-12-13 06:36 am (UTC)
mad: Never fear! Misfit is here! (Misfit happy)
From: [personal profile] mad
Faith Erin Hicks' Adventures of Superhero Girl.

Date: 2010-12-13 10:16 am (UTC)
bradhanon: (Serious editor)
From: [personal profile] bradhanon
I'd say Top 10 counts as deconstruction, in that it essentially takes all traditional superhero tropes for granted, and then lets them play out to their heart's content in a completely different setting, context, and tone. Also it's so fucking awesome it's terrifying, so there's that.

Also, Astro City is both a reconstruction, of superheroes themselves, and a deconstruction of a lot of the OTHER unexamined assumptions of the genre. What the hell is it like to live in a world where people cheer for the heroes one day and call for their heads the next? A world where the "Evil Twin Defense" is a recognized legal tactic? A world where everything undergoes periodic shifts in dramatic tone and style? Turns out it's a lot more like our world than we thought...

Date: 2010-12-13 08:07 pm (UTC)
jarodrussell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jarodrussell
Empowered.

Date: 2010-12-13 09:13 pm (UTC)
benicio127: (Default)
From: [personal profile] benicio127
In late, but I thought Under the Hood did a bit of superhero deconstruction when Jason asked Batman why all the good guys/superheroes say that when asked why they can't "cross that line."

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