This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but I love superheroes. They’re, objectively, the best thing. Bright colors, spectacular abilities, what’s not to love?
I came across this mash-up art the other day, and I thought it was a lot of fun. It combines the designs of several major heroes from both DC and Marvel comics and puts them together to make some very sleek concepts. Some of them involve combining characters who complement each other thematically (Superman and Captain America have so much in common before you even start talking about costumes and powers) while others seem to be done a little more… just because it’s awesome (I really don’t think Spider-Bat works as a concept because even though both characters are defined by traumatic origins, the circumstances are so incredibly different and have such opposite outcomes that I can’t see a way to reconcile Spider-Man’s everyman take on superheroing with Batman’s dour “I’m responsible for everything wrong with the world” attitude).
That’s not to say that Spider-Bat is any less wonderful of a concept, despite not making narrative sense. It follows in a fine superhero tradition. Just-because-it’s-awesome is a great motivation for doing things in superhero comics. I could go on about how we use these larger than life narratives as a way of making sense of what it means to act rightly, and how they’re modernized versions of ancient mythologies featuring heroes doing things that as a culture we find valuable, and some more highfalutin stuff that I go back to in order to explain my fascination with superheroes, but sometimes the excuse really doesn’t need to be any more than just-because-it’s-awesome.
Why is Superman fighting with Captain Marvel in the middle of a desert? Just because it’s awesome. Why does Captain America lead the modern day Avengers even though he’s a World War II hero? Just because it’s awesome. Why does Iron Man keep a gallery of all his old, out-of-date power suits? Just because it’s awesome. Why does Batman have both a T-Rex and a giant penny in the Batcave as decorations? Just because it’s awesome.
There’s a certain amount of joy in imagining these colorful figures doing amazing but admittedly absurd things. Superhero apologists like to give explanations about how the genre’s matured as an art form where the narratives try to look at real human issues with a backdrop of wonderment, or talk about the deconstruction of the genre that’s happened in previous decades to give a more sophisticated view of how it all works. I’m totally on board with that stuff, and I’ll happily talk about any and all of that if given the chance, but I know that the core of my love for superheroes boils down to a simple maxim:
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Wait, no, that’s Spider-Man.
Let me try that again.
Why? Just because it’s awesome.