Sunday, July 8, 2007

Who Wants To Be A Superhero: The Comic

I'll admit it. I was a big fan of Who Wants to be a Superhero went it first aired last year. Sure it was corny, but there were some truly awesome moments: Iron Enforcer turning into Dark Enforcer, Major Victory becoming a hero in his daughter's eyes despite being eliminated, and the twists to each mission Stan Lee would introduce to the contestants.

One of the prizes for Feedback, the winning contestant, was the chance to get his character published in a comic written by Stan Lee. That comic hit the shelves last week. While I'm guessing it might have been one of the highlights of Feedback's life, I can't say that I enjoy the comic as much as him.

All the characters are such outrageous cliches, whether it's the mohawked punks that start trouble with Feedback ("Leave some fer me t'whap!") or the villain that double-crosses the hero (if having a robotic metal skull doesn't set off any flags, I don't know what will). Take Sarah, the love interest, as an example. She's a nurse but the uniform she wears is the same type of white, one-piece skirt with a red cross hat you find in old cartoons. Anyone that's ever been inside a hospital knows that nurses don't dress like that anymore. Later, when Feedback needs help sewing a costume, Sarah saves the day by doing it for him. To my surprise she makes a sleek, professional looking suit and all Feedback has to do to pay her back is fix her computer. Sarah's tailoring ability coupled with her technological incompetence can easily be construed as sexist.

This comic just seems so outdated. It pretty much crams every single writing trick Stan Lee's accumulated in his career into a single issue (the flashback that shows how Feedback got his powers, the character talking to himself, the reveal of the villain, the introduction of the love interest, etc). That either means Stan Lee is writing for the same audience he used to back in the Sixties or he's taking a self aware approach to the superhero genre. In either case, this comic serves as nothing more than fan service for Feedback.

I suggest reading Radioactive Man #711, which coincidentally is another comic that came out last week that's part of a multimedia tie-in (found in 7-Elevens to promote the Simpsons movie). This comic also contains the same types of cliches you find in the superhero genre but uses them instead for parody. This doesn't change the fact that I'm still going to watch season 2 of Who Wants to be a Superhero. However, it does make me wonder what would've happened if Fat Momma won the contest. Stan Lee would've had the opportunity to write about a protagonist that could address issues of sex, race, parenthood, and body image. But then that wouldn't be as enjoyable for his audience.

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