“Relatable”: A Complaint

“I want my characters to be relatable.”

“I like so-and-so because she’s so relatable.”

“I can’t get into so-and-so as a character because she isn’t relatable.”

Curmudgeonly writers and English professors (like myself) sometimes complain about this odd word relatable. It isn’t a real word! some will say. Well, it is now (and has been one for at least fifty years) because people use it with such frequency.

So it’s a “real” word. Fine. But I still think that we ought to stop using it, especially to describe fictional characters.

Wait! Before you dismiss me as a curmudgeon and go on to another blog, hear me out: (more…)

Changes to The Site

I’m in the process of revamping and updating my site. The biggest change is that there are now two blogs on this site: one for superhero-related items, and the other about writing and literature. I will continue to post on this blog about literature. You can find my posts about superheroes and comics (including my upcoming book, A Clash of Heroes) at this page. Check it out!

So I admit it . . . (More on Captain America: Steve Rogers)

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Update September 2016

From now on, all of my superhero-related posts will be published at my A Clash of Heroes Blog.

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. . . and I’m even happy to admit it. Thrilled. Like most of the world, I was hasty in my initial judgment of the Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 twist. In some ways, I think that the shocking turn at the end of that issue could prove to be a brilliant move—precisely because it turns out that Steve’s Hydra loyalties aren’t a secret that has been hidden from Marvel fandom for 75 years. Instead, it turns out that his mind has been hijacked by Kobik and the Red Skull.

I’ll have much more to say about this in my book, A Clash of Heroes, but for now I’ll say that issues 2-4 of Captain America: Steve Rogers have (mostly) impressed me in the way that they have driven home the fact that this is still Steve Rogers that we’re talking about (heroic virtues and all), and that in hijacking Steve’s mind with a sentient Cosmic Cube, the Red Skull has not only taken over America’s most beloved patriotic superhero; he is coming damn close to hijacking the very notion of what it means to be an American (which often seems pretty close to the truth). (more…)

Thoughts on Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

Update September 2016

From now on, all of my superhero-related posts will be published at my A Clash of Heroes Blog.
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Update, September 5th, 2016

So I think that a few months is enough time to calm down and think a little more reflectively about the issue. Please see my newest post about Captain America: Steve Rogers.

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(It’s hard to imagine that the book hasn’t been spoiled for every person on the planet by now, but SPOILER ALERT for Captain America: Steve Rogers #1.)

I’ll say this at the outset: in spite of what Nick Spencer and Tom Brevoort say, the Captain America we have known for 75 years is not a Hydra agent.

No, I’m not in denial. It is simply not the case that the current bigwigs at Marvel can rewrite the 75-year history of one of their most important characters, and especially not this character. Yes, Captain America belongs to Marvel, and they can do whatever they want with him, right? Nope. Sorry. Spencer can write whatever story he wants to write; it won’t change the work of creators like Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Mark Waid, Ed Brubaker, Mark Millar, J. Michael Straczynski, and others. Spencer and the folks at Marvel are custodians of a legacy that they have inherited, not its sole owners. (more…)