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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, October 7, 2013

SUBCOMBATIVE SUPERHEROES PT. 3

In Part 2 I demonstrated proofs as to why the Spirit was a combative hero and his imitator The Masked Man was subcombative.  I did not elaborate on their natures vis-a-vis my concepts of "Reach vs. Grasp" because I felt it implicit that the "reach" of both characters was radically different due to their unequal dynamicities.  The "grasp" concept is a little more complicated, given that The Masked Man in its short run remains always within the mythos of drama, while the long-running Spirit, as I mentioned before, dipped its wick into all four mythoi at one time or another.  However, at this point in my analysis I would say that differences in grasp, a.k.a. "dynamis-stature," do not have any effect on whether or not a given feature does or does not utilize the combative mode.  Even if the majority of the Spirit's adventures had been comedies or adventures rather than dramas, as I've suggested earlier, the different "dynamis-stature" would have no effect on whether or not it was a combative work.  The primary determinants for the combative mode are, as I formulated in MYTHOS VS. MODE PART 2, the interdependent factors of a narrative combative value and a significant combative value.

This time I'll again deal with features within the same mythos, that of comedy, but will give reasons as to why only the first one is combative, while the other two are subcombative due to their lacking either a narrative or significant value.


DC Comics' original version of INFERIOR FIVE appeared in a total of thirteen full-length stories, which I'll analyze as a unit, factoring no revivals-- if any-- into my equations.  Not all of these stories had both a narrative and significant value; some had neither.  But only four of the issues were subcombative for either reason, and the other nine were clearly combative.  To be sure, since INFERIOR FIVE was an extremely broad comedy, most of the goofy heroes' triumphs were comically constructed.


In addition to their winning by accident, they also won by the intervention of guest-stars, as when Superman himself drops in to save the day. But, as I've established in this essay, the narrative combative value is not disrupted if some character other than the featured hero(es) is responsible for the final blow, so this issue remains combative. Statistically speaking, this series satisfies the "narrrative value" of the mode because the overall adventurers are dominantly combative in accordance with my "51 percent rule." Additionally, because the heroes demonstrate high dynamicity-- even if it is altered by its manifestation within a comic mythos-- the INFERIOR FIVE satisfies the "significant value" of the mode.


The significant mode is entirely lacking in Don Martin's equally broad comic take on superheroes, in the handful of adventures he devoted to his 1960s creation Captain Klutz.


Like the Inferior Five, Captain Klutz escaped perils from his equally silly group of supervillains through comic maneuvers.  In one adventure his enemy "Sissyman" traps him in a giant pile of ice cream.



Naturally, he eats his way out.  But Klutz not only had no super-powers, he had no discernible physical skills and only occasionally used mundane weapons.  Facing off the villainous "Granny," he admits that he dares not strike a woman, but that he has no problem shooting one.  In any case, though one might argue that the Klutz adventures satisfy the narrative value, in that there is a clear opposition between the hero and his enemies, there is no significant value because Klutz himself possesses no dynamicity.  He wins-- if he does at all-- through luck and/or trickery.



Finally, the current animated teleseries TEEN TITANS GO! looks for all the world like it's simply going to be a comic take on the 2003-06 adventure-series.  Being humorous, as I've showed with THE INFERIOR FIVE, does not mean that a work cannot be combative. 

In truth, the more direct influence on the teleseries was a comic book series of the same name, which I have not read.  The teleseries, however, though it features characters with roughly the same set of powers and abilities, does not often center its stories about the plot-element of combat.  The model for the teleseries seems to borrow more from the model of the American TV sitcom, in which there is some problem to be solved but not necessarily a battle to be won, as had been the case with most episodes of the 2003-06 show.  The earlier TITANS show made heavy use of humor, roughly following the example of some of the more raucous anime TV cartoons, but comedy was always subdominant to adventure.  Here, comedy is the main attraction, and the mode of the combative is often at best a side-attraction.  A recent episode, "Colors of Raven," begins with the Titans defeating frequent opponent Doctor Light, but Light's defeat is only important because it brings the heroes into contact with a magical prism.  The prism then splits heroine Raven into color-themed duplicates of herself. The remaining Titans must then corral the disparate Ravens in order to re-combine them into one entity, but little of their activities are focused on combat, even in the spoofy manner of INFERIOR FIVE.  Thus TITANS GO has the significant value of the mode, but not the narrative one.

On a non-related note, I'll add that one TITANS GO episode-- entitled "Books"-- does satisfy the narrative combative value.  However, the episode's primary focus is to make fun of the sort of thing critics like me do all the time: taking the primal experience of fictive enjoyment and making it "boring" through analysis and commentary.  It's a fair point, though it's not one that will dissuade me in any way.





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