January 29, 2005
DAVID ADESNIK ON SPIDERMAN IN INDIA: Very interesting. And a great opening: “ONLY SUPERHEROES have superpowers. But are superpowers the only ones who have superheroes?”
UPDATE: Reader Tom Hazlewood disagrees with part of Adesnik’s analysis, though:
Adesnik says, “Yet perhaps it was no accident that the first super-powered alien landed on U.S. soil. From the earliest days of the Republic, American culture has been conducive to fantasies of omnipotence. ”
Comic superheroes are not omnipotent. They always have weaknesses. It’s the omnipresence of great evil that gives realization of the superheroes’ purpose.
Superheroes and supervillians are always able to knock ordinary foes about, the good and the bad, like tenpins. The usual forces of law and order are always incapable of stopping them. Only superheroes can confront a archvillian. The point of the comics is that only superior good can counter great evil.
But too many red-kryptonite plots get kind of old. And speaking of super-limitations, this classic Larry Niven essay, Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, suggests that Superman may find life a bit frustrating.