POW! WHAM! (and other sound effects)

August 8, 2011

Who doesn’t love interesting characters in stories? Characters are the whole point of every story. Even if the story is about a whale that saved his sea shell money to buy a dolphin a new golf club for his birthday, the story is still about the whale.

Atticus Finch. Forrest Gump. Luke Skywalker. All great characters.

Interesting characters make us relate to the stories and make us interested to find out what happens next.

For me, the best place to find great characters is in comic books. (Or trade paperbacks/graphic novels, whatever you poison)

Now, I read many different kinds of comics. You can find a much more comprehensive list of what those are in my about page, but right now I would like to talk about the “Super Hero” genre.

I’ve dabbled in reading comics among the big two publishers, Marvel and DC. And I’m a much bigger fan of DC. I think the big difference between the two is this:

Quality vs. Quantity.

Marvel has some really popular (and fairly interesting) characters, but mostly they have just made so many different characters (mostly mutants) that they haven’t really had the chance to invest in characters the way I would hope they would. DC, while still having many characters, manages to add real depth and feeling to them as well. DC also does a great job in taking a more mature approach to the whole comic book thing in general.

They also have something else going for them as well…


When I was three years old the Tim Burton film Batman came out and I decided that I knew what my career was going to be. I was going to be the Masked Vigilante. I knew how to recite many lines, even though I had no idea what they meant. I wore a costume. I begged my parents for a Batmobile Powerwheel (which I never got). The tree in my front yard became my Batcave and at 7 a.m. I would rush outside, in full Bats regalia, and protect the world from certain doom.

I. Was. Batman.

Flash forward nearly twenty years and I still wish I was Batman.


Back then I wanted to be the Dark Knight because I just thought it was cool. He was a good guy beating up bad guys. That’s what good guys are supposed to do. But today I love him because he’s SUCH a good character.

There is something to Bruce Wayne/Batman that is unlike any other super hero.

He’s NOT a super hero.

Batman is not super strong. He has not been bestowed with any abilities that allow him to do anything unnatural. He doesn’t run super fast. He can’t regenerate. He’s not the world’s smartest man. Does not have super speed. Can’t mutate into some other form. Will never be able to talk to animals. He’s not capable of growing a beard that can stop bullets. And he’s certainly not immune to lava.

He’s flawed.

He is obsessed with trying to avenge the deaths of his parents. He works tirelessly until exhaustion. He uses the money from his parent’s estate and business to allow him to continue his one man war. He has a secret identity. He neglects making meaningful relationships in order to work toward his goal. He goes to sleep many nights wondering if it’s all worth it. He ponders if his job will ever be complete.

Despite this, he was invited to join the Justice League. And he still hangs with real “superheroes”. And many even fear him.

He seems to overcome adversity on a regular basis as well. Even one of his many enemies, named Bane, broke the Bat’s back in a well renowned issue. And even after being overwhelmed and broken, he recovered and kept up the good fight.

But, as Bruce Wayne, he keeps it all hidden. To everybody else he’s just a rich dude doing his thing. Being rich. Making money. Living the life.

But it’s all just a facade. His real identify is behind a mask. He real love is his work. And he wouldn’t change that for the world.

Despite all his faults. His mistakes. His pain. His weaknesses. His regrets. His obsessions. His conflicts.

He still tries to do the right thing. He wants justice. He hopes.

He’s a lot like all of us.

We’re all flawed. We all have our secrets. Every day each one of us has to get out of bed and fight our battles. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Sometimes we feel like our back is broken and there is nothing left. But we keep at it. We persist. We strive for better. We try to not fear what’s around us. We fight.


Now, let’s look at another DC character that I’m not really a fan of.


He’s faster than a speeding bullet. Can fly.  Has X-ray vision. Has super hearing and likely super smell. Can travel in space at will. Can pick up just about anything and spin it on the tip of his finger. He can’t get sick. He can’t get hurt. He can’t die. And he only has one weakness.

Even as Clark Kent he’s too good. He always manages to be polite. Does what’s asked of him. Doesn’t force his way into conversation. Kept a cordial relationship with Lois Lane for forever and a day. Even manages to show up to work everyday, shaved, showered, and peppy, to help with the paper.

Even if these are really great qualities for a person to have, it’s still inhuman. We all can’t do this all the time. We all slip up, but not him.

It helps to portray him as too impersonal. Not real.

He’s basically a god on earth.

I am no god, and can’t really relate to one. (This is also one of my issues with Thor).

Now, as a hero, who would I want to sweep in and save the day?

Come on, of course it’s Superman. I’d have him on speed dial. He’d probably get the job done lickety-split. Batman would take time, not to mention, isn’t even guaranteed to show up. And I’d probably have to wait until nighttime and when his third shift begins.

But who is a better character?

Mr. Bats wins it. Clearly.

Yes, yes. I know my scope of both of these characters is quite narrow. And I’m not considering all the different things that have happened in the DC Universe as a whole. I’ll admit, I’m not too familiar with it. I’m just speaking in basic terms here.

I should also note that there are a few different versions of Batman (and Superman). Frank Miller in particular was known for putting a very gritty (and non-cannon) spin on the Man in the Cowl. Batman was mean, driven, ruthless, even vicious in his pursuit of vengeance. He was even old in some cases.

He perfectly fit the mold of an anti-hero. And still, at the heart of the matter was his desire to do good, despite all those shortcomings.

Now I’m not going to blather on about who would win in a fight for too long, but…

Batman has “defeated” Superman before but he needed help and he really didn’t kill Superman. So how can I really say “defeated”? And we all know that Superman, in the blink of an eye, could rip Batman apart like a train hitting a cow. But he hasn’t. Probably because he’s too good to do something like that. And Batman probably didn’t kill Superman because he knew that the world would be much less safe without Superman flying around.

Since I don’t want this post to blather on more than it already has, let me just make a few more than a few bullets about different reasons why I like Batman more than any other “super hero”.

  • He wears all black
  • He works in the shadow
  • He’s about as tough as a normal human can get
  • He’s surprisingly business savvy
  • His movies are the best comic adapted movies. (I’d watch Batman Forever way before I’d watch Superman Returns)
  • Sometimes has stubble for facial hair.
  • Different interpretations have him at different ages.
  • Has had some pretty cool sidekicks/allies
  • He has THE BEST VILLAINS in all of comics. (This is really really really really important, but deserves it’s own post)
  • Talks differently while he’s in his suit.
  • If the world found out who he really was, it would all come crashing down, unlike other heroes.
  • Vigilante is such a cool word.
  • Is not only hunted by bad guys but is also hunted by the police.
  • Doesn’t kill people. (Even though I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule)
  • Fights crazy good.
  • Can exit a room/scene without anybody noticing.

So there it is. 

I hope this helps explain a little bit of the childishness inside me. I also hope it sparks even more entertaining and fun to read comments like my last post did. But I’m sure you’re all tired of that subject now…

The Bruce Wayne of the the blogosphere,


7 Responses to “POW! WHAM! (and other sound effects)”

  1. Frank Bishop Says:

    Batman keeps kryptonite weapons on hand, just in case.

    My biggest issue with Superman is that he is an alien that is the embodiment of all the morals and values that all people should aspire to. Essentially it takes a creature from another planet to show the humans what they are doing it wrong.

  2. Is there a dislike button I can push? Maybe I should “like” this post… just so I can unlike it.

  3. Frank Bishop Says:

    You are about to be sunfollowed.

  4. Whoa… whoa…

    were we engaged?

    how was the proposal?

  5. It was good. Terribly romantic.Sweet. It was a real life fairy-tale.

    You were stunning. I was gentlemanly.

    It involved me giving you free Starbucks for life, a diamond ring, and making you a Tuna Melt.

    If I remember correctly, it was a really, really, really smooth operation.

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