starwolf_oakley: (Default)
[personal profile] starwolf_oakley posting in [community profile] scans_daily
I've said on this board I don't like it when superhero comics (and other forms of pop culture) make it look like mental illness is some sort of moral failing.

Three actual psychiatrists have taken issue (pun intended) with DC Comics and their description of the mentally ill, especially Batman's rogues gallery. It was originally in the New York Times.

Newsarama covered it as well.

More and four pages from THE KILLING JOKE after the cut.



"You're trying to explain a character's villainy or extreme violence by using a real-life illness, that people in the real world have, that are very common. That's when it's harmful to people in real life."

"The psychiatrists repeated several time that they don't want the beloved villains in comics to be changed, and they are fine with depictions that show bizarre behavior. But they want the references to mental illnesses to be handled more responsibly."

Most comic book villains like murdering people for their own amusement. It is hard to describe the behavior of in "genuine" psychiatry terms.

There was praise for how Geoff Johns wrote Starman, who had schizophrenia, in JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA.

Here are four pages from BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE. While the Joker wanted to prove a point about mental illness to Batman (one bad day will drive the sanest person mad) I don't think Alan Moore was trying to write an examination of mental illness. If Moore ever did examine mental illness in a graphic novel, it would be something. (WATCHMEN touched on mental illness, but it wasn't the theme of the story.)









I recall someone once saying THE KILLING JOKE would have worked better as a Two-Face story. Perhaps.
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Date: 2011-11-03 04:41 am (UTC)
misterbug: (Default)
From: [personal profile] misterbug
Technically "From Hell" is about mental illness, but only in the sense that it be counted as a form of prayer.

Date: 2011-11-03 05:00 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Kamino Neko's default icon... (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
If only mis-identifying and mis-characterizing mental illnesses was the worst the bat-books did in that regard.

No, the worst is the fact that Dr Arkham's genuine desire to actually help his patients become functional (including treating them and referring to them as patients, not prisoners) was, even before he was shown to be psychotic (hallucinating 3 whole patients), and suffering from DID (where the secondary persona was a violent, manipulative psychopath), meant he was as dangerous as anyone in the asylum.

Date: 2011-11-03 05:03 am (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
just got through reading the watchmen in my graphic novel class.

I had skimmed through it before and liked but this is the first time i actually read it and i LOVED it.... I also loved the Killing Joke. Moore really is a master story teller.... but he can't write women... i have yet to see him write a female character who is not a mere prop for a male character.

the thing is, i think he is CAPABLE of it,. he puts so much damn thought into all of his work. And there was more character development for Sally Jupiter in FOUR SILENT PANELS at the end of the book than every single other female character in the book had.

And Killing Joke is an excellent book, but he fucked over Barbara Gordon. (yeah he realized he messed up, but whats done is done) i think his problem is he gets an idea and be becomes obsessed with it and devotes all his time and energy to it, anything that is not connected to the main story, he considers, but only peripherally. He's still a damned genius... but he has his faults...

Date: 2011-11-03 06:27 am (UTC)
oroburos69: (Default)
From: [personal profile] oroburos69
I don't like the implication that mental illnesses can't be helped, and that every single time a villain "gets better" they relapse within a couple of issues. Or they were faking it all along. I know it's villain recycling 101, but couldn't at least one mentally ill villain respond well to medication or therapy and go on to live a relatively normal life? In a mental hospital, of course. No need to get too unrealistic.

Of course, competent use of medication and therapy would actually have to occur at some point for that to happen.

Date: 2011-11-03 06:55 am (UTC)
red_cyclone: (Default)
From: [personal profile] red_cyclone
Have you read Promethia? It's my favourite thing he's done, with several amazing, different female characters.

Date: 2011-11-03 07:14 am (UTC)
big_daddy_d: (Default)
From: [personal profile] big_daddy_d
As someone battling a mental illness of their own, this intrigues me. Also would like to be pointed towards said Starman focused stories in JSA.

Date: 2011-11-03 07:34 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I actually didn't mind the way they did this with Norman Osborn in Dark Avengers (if you overlook the stupid premise that they would put him in charge, of course). He had medication and therapy and got considerably better in the sense of not trying to destroy Spider-Man/not dressing up as the Green Goblin and blowing things up, while still being basically evil and controlling in a very sane and socially acceptable way. He wasn't faking it, he was never "good", but he was in control and competent.

In the end he stopped going to therapy because he was too busy with his other plans, overdid it and relapsed, but I found that pretty realistic and appropriate, too.

Date: 2011-11-03 08:22 am (UTC)
eyz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eyz
Well, I'm not sure Batman villains should be taken as a good example (read: portrayals) for mental illness :P

Date: 2011-11-03 08:24 am (UTC)
eyz: (Default)
From: [personal profile] eyz
-Tsk- And they still plan to shovel the JSA OUT of the DCU?
(and no, putting them back on "Earth 2" doesn't count/won't work the same because you'll also take their connection to the main DCU and their lagacies like the Starmans or Alan/Hal/John/Guy/Kyle or Jay/Barry/Wally/Bart...))

Date: 2011-11-03 10:57 am (UTC)
drexer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drexer
Yeah this. Promethea really shows of that Moore can write a lot of great characters, be they woman or not, and that the biggest problem is usually that the characters in the sidelines don't get as well developed and thus seem weaker in comparison.

Abigail in Swamp Thing also had a great evolution as a character side-by-side with Swampy which is quite enjoyable.

Date: 2011-11-03 11:21 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] runespoor
That's like saying racist portrayals aren't good examples of problematic portrayals.

Batvillains are presented as having mental illnesses. For most of them, it's actually shown as the reason why they're villains in the first place. That's the very definition of problematic portrayal of mental illness.

Which is a shame, as Bruce is shown to be struggling with psychological issues himself.

Date: 2011-11-03 11:24 am (UTC)
randyripoff: (Barry Ween)
From: [personal profile] randyripoff
IIRC, the decision to cripple Barbara wasn't Moore's.

Additionally, I would argue that if you've only read Watchmen that you should probably sample a lot more of his work. I think he's done an excellent job over the years of writing numerous and varied women with strengths and weaknesses. Heck, it's his ability to write all sorts of people with their strengths and weaknesses that make him a great writer.

Date: 2011-11-03 11:55 am (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Mina Harker in "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"?

Date: 2011-11-03 01:04 pm (UTC)
junipepper: (jumplines)
From: [personal profile] junipepper
It's the Starman (formerly Starboy) from the Legion of Superheros -- I think that's what they were referring to. He appeared in the earlier books of the last run of JSA. I think you'd want to start here:

http://www.amazon.com/Justice-Society-America-Vol-Next/dp/1401215858/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320324820&sr=1-1.

Starman comes into play somewhere around The Lightning Saga and all through Thy Kingdom Come Vol. 1, 2, and 3.

I really liked this JSA run; it's definitely worth a look.

Date: 2011-11-03 01:19 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
Oh, he intended to cripple Barbara...within the context of 'Killing Joke' only. It was supposed to be an out-of-continuity story when he wrote it. But it proved so popular that DC decided to make it canon.

Date: 2011-11-03 01:22 pm (UTC)
wizardru: Hellboy (Default)
From: [personal profile] wizardru
He does have his faults, but writing good female characters isn't one that I'd ascribe to him. As others point out: Promethea, Mina Harker and Abigail are all solid characters who are far from props. I suppose you could make a case that Dahlua might be a prop for Tom Strong, but I don't think you could make that case for his daughter Tesla.

Date: 2011-11-03 01:37 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
hmmmm i i didnt' know he did promethea, and forgot about abagail... i miigjt have to pick these up...

Date: 2011-11-03 01:37 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
forgot about Mina....

Date: 2011-11-03 01:38 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
he gets props for realizing he messed up

Date: 2011-11-03 01:38 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
the biggest problem is usually that the characters in the sidelines don't get as well developed and thus seem weaker in comparison.

that may be it.

Date: 2011-11-03 01:41 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
"Scary bat-god that lives in Bruce Wayne's head" idea, the biggest psychological issue.

yeah.... that was one of my problems with Dark Knight Returns...

Date: 2011-11-03 02:02 pm (UTC)
thehefner: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thehefner
Speaking as someone who loves the Batman villains (especially the mentally ill ones) even more than the heroes, I just wish there's be some sense of consistency in the way their personalities and illnesses are handled. Sometimes I think the only way to salvage the mess would be to blame the quack doctor as Arkham for using a rotating series of unethical/unorthodox therapies and medications that only end up making the illnesses worse.

That said, I too miss Jeremiah Arkham as he was. The change to Black Mask was just too inexplicable, especially since Tony Daniel and David Hine both seemed to have completely separate ideas about HOW it happened (was Jeremiah a pawn of the Ministry and especially Fright, or was he a pawn of Hugo Strange and himself conspiring with Alyce Sinner? HAHA YOU GET NO ANSWERS BECAUSE EDITORIAL DOESN'T CARE), and it ruined Jeremiah as a character in a way that may never be reversible. Even if he's rehabilitated, writers won't be able to resist the looooooming specter of Black Mask, or some shit.

Date: 2011-11-03 02:09 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
I'm afraid that I found the "stupid premise" there to be so staggeringly stupid that it essentially derailed anything that came about as a result of it.

Date: 2011-11-03 02:11 pm (UTC)
icon_uk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] icon_uk
Wouldn't the scale of survivor guilt that he still lives with be considered to be a psychological issue? (Morrison appears to be trying to remove it, but frankly I don't hold out much hope of that sticking).
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