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The Enduring Popularity of Spider-Man

Whether it’s Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen or one of the other dozen versions of Spider-Man, people love this character. What is it about this character that has endeared him to audiences for over 50 years. Is it the stories that he’s been involved in, the cast of characters around him or is it what he represents that has resonated with people so well for so long. By looking at the history of the character through all mediums, analyze what is it about the wall crawler that makes him and all his variants such a timelessly likable character.

  • I like this topic a lot because one of the most important things for superheroes to be popular and culturally important is their relatability. Even some of the most popular characters like Superman and Batman that have unbelievable abilities maintain some aspects of ourselves as humans like struggling with restraint, trauma, loss, identity, belonging, etc. Looking through the history of Spider-Man, he seems to be marketed as one of the most clearly, universally relatable heroes since his iterations are usually young humans dealing with very common young human issues like love, family, and even work-life balance. I think writing on this topic would require the targeted marketing of Spider-Man as an every-man/woman type to be explored more fully in connection with his overall likability and resonance. – Aaron 9 months ago
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  • I think even beyond his colorful and striking design, Spider-Man's resonance is sourced from him dealing with everyday problems many, if not, most people can relate to. Though he's a hard worker, he's poor, he's bullied, struggles in romance, handling his job, etc. All this on top of being a superhero who risks his life every day defending NYC citizens who are often ungrateful (depending on the writer). It grounds him as a character and shows that anyone can wear the mask, i.e be a hero who helps others, even in the face of adversity. – ImperatorSage 9 months ago
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  • The spider-man story usually starts in high school, and I think that is part of what makes it so appealing. The character is so average and relatable. He acts like any one of us would act. – kairigainsborough 4 months ago
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The Erotic Gaze

There are way too many articles written out there that have a heavy-handed focus on the male gaze. It is a tight rope talk to discuss the gaze in general, especially in regards to objectivity in what/who is being looked at. I would love to see an article written about the many wonderful works that have an erotica theme to them, especially from creators like Katie Skelly, Kyoko Okazaki, Lisa Hanawalt, Gengoroh Tagame, and even through a bit more mainstream comics like ‘Sex Criminals’ and ‘Sex’ from Image Comics. It would be great to get more of a perspective on the female gaze, instead of the male gaze, and would be even better to get this examination from a female perspective. Erotica can present a very interesting relationship with its readers, especially from a voyeuristic perspective, and I feel like it can be a fine line for some when it comes to how the body is presented. However, when it’s done right, erotica can really celebrate the body, dig into gender/sex politics, social rights and cultural ideologies as a whole (especially when creators like Guido Crepax and Milo Manara are put into the conversation). It would be worthwhile to discuss a topic that can hold a mirror up to many of us and get right to the subject matter that can be deemed taboo to some.

  • I recently read the book 'Ways of Seeing' by John Berger and some of the themes he discusses are centred around the gaze especially in art and contemporary Western visual culture. I like your proposition to examine this stance from a female perspective. However, there is a long and complex historical tradition, especially in art, which favors the male gaze and which objectifies the nude female body which needs to be taken into account. – Kaya 9 months ago
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  • Suspiria (2018) might be a great film to dig into this. It is thoroughly erotically-charged, but never in a purely physical or sexual sense; concerned more with physicality and power, force and affect than anything else. Really interesting. – joshasoflate 9 months ago
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Comics (and their subsequent films) and democracy

Western comics have an intimate relationship with the democracies in which they originated. It would be interesting to better understand how the two interact: that is, how the underlying ideas of democracy have influenced superhero stories, and in turn, how superheroes affected our ideas of democracy. For instance, Captain America was created during WWII as a champion against fascism, but the way he has been envisioned and even the person filling the role has changed over time, perhaps reflecting society’s changes.

More recently the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been tremendously successful, and several of its movies seem to approach interesting issues. A core question Civil War asks is how much power a democratic government should have to control the ethical decision making of individual participants (and upholders) of that democracy? The movie appeared (May 2016) at a time when it seems Western democracies were going into crisis. With themes about rebellion from overly controlling governments, did it influence people’s thoughts going into Brexit (June 2016) or the Trump election (Nov 2016). Another instance is the ongoing theme in many comics of the deep resilience of participatory forms of government, which we see again in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s End Game. Might that have similar influences?

  • The very mode of production of comics as descendants of pulp is democratic in terms of its mass production, popular culture, affordability. Moreover, its origins as art/literature written for children in essence made a niche for itself by creating its own adult market out of those children who then grew up and still wanted more. That reflects the mythological tie between liberal democracy and free market capitalism in that the demand of the consumers dictates the production of a supply though in fact the products breed further desire for consumption that merely appear as a self-generating demand. In a similar fashion, the rejection of the military in characters of the MCU like Stark and Rogers only appears to represent a democratic appeal to the common people but a closer examination reveals that the MCU ends up remaining a propaganda machine for the anti-democratic status quo when it vilifies such agendas as environmentalism (Thanos) or minority reparations or equality (Killmonger) at a time when climate destruction is demanding from our collective hand more extreme measures and Black Lives Matter struggles to have its voice heard. – williamnolen11 5 months ago
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The psychology and philosophy behind super heroes

Breakdown and analyse what makes super heroes tick and how they are an inspiration to us mortals. What are philosophical elements behind their characterisation and actions that appeal to an audience? Despite having unearthly abilities, humane qualities of superheroes are what makes them relatable to us. What are the psychological elements their creators have embedded in the stories that help us navigate our own challenges the way these characters do in comics, TV and film?

  • I think this is a notable and wonderful topic to look at. Why? because while we may feel limited in many physical aspects of our lives, we identify with a superhero in each of us whose imagination and mind has no limits. We are superheroes trapped in physical bodies and whom we identify with is perhaps where we feel the most limited. Superheroes hurl that limitation out the window for us! They are a wonderful way for us to channel our inner strength, power and courage. They provide an identity for us more in line with the truth and for this reason, I love this topic. – MinGHathorn 9 months ago
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Life lessons from the character of Bruce Wayne

Batman has been one of the most popular characters in the DC Universe and so are the people who voiced, played and created the character as well. The character has some really die-hard fans who try to take up the characters voice, merchandise and personality. The character has been played by many notable individuals including Adam West, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, and many other talented individuals as well.

Here we would deep dive inside things that makes Batman, Batman and how his life and personality traits can help us make our life better

  • Maybe less about how Batman makes our life better, more about how different actors such as West, Kilmer, Clooney, Keaton, Bale, and Affleck have presented him. – Joseph Cernik 1 year ago
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  • I think looking at all of the general ways a character like Batman can serve as a role model would be a bit overwhelming because he is designed, like most superheroes, to serve as a role model in a wide-range of ways for targeted young readers and viewers, but I think it would be incredibly interesting to look into a few specific traits. Batman in particular has consistently been presented as a symbol of self-discipline as he improves himself physically and mentally after experiencing the trauma of loss. This isn't an overly original set of traits, but Batman's embodiment of them is unique in that his dedication to bettering himself and Gotham city is frequently questioned since it clearly takes a toll on his well-being when he allows it to consume himself. A closer analysis of one or two of these traits is something I would be very excited to read! – Aaron 9 months ago
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Analysis of Spider-Man’s origin story

In the comments section of my recently published article on Batman’s origin story, the topic of Spider-Man’s origin came up. I’d be fascinated to see an analysis of it. This includes the spider that bit Peter Parker and the death of his Uncle Ben, inspiring him to be a hero.
What changes in the origin story when Spider-Man is rebooted or we get an alternate universe version? What stays the same, and what meaning can be found in that?
What tropes does Spider-Man’s origin story include? Does it subvert any tropes? What impact do these tropes have?
How original, deep, or personally impactful is Spider-Man’s origin compared to others?

  • Oh, one more thing. A commenter pointed out Spider-Man’s origin seems similar to Dr. Octopus’ backstory. That would be an interesting point of comparison and contrast. – noahspud 1 year ago
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  • I think there is a significant overlap in content that would be discussed, considering that both involve a murdered love one at some point. Regardless, it would still be interesting to contrast and compare. – Gliese436B 1 year ago
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Published

Why Has Batman's Origins Remained So Iconic After Eighty Plus Years?

The very short panels first introduced the Wayne’s murder nearly eighty years ago. Despite the changes in comics and society since that time, the core foundation of a murder in an alley by a criminal has remained unchanged. Why has Batman’s origins remained the same while so many heroes have their origin stories and past drastically changed?

  • Touch on also the appeal of the orphaned child - a very strong trope in children's literature and quite common in origin stories. – SaraiMW 1 year ago
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  • Good topic! I guess it comes down to the result of the murder - would he have ever become Batman if he hadn't experienced such tragedy? I also think it shows he truly is a hero. Where others are mutants or born gifted, what makes Batman a hero is his reaction to tragedy and the attitude he adopts. He's a hero because he uses his trauma to protect others, rather than just standing by and watching criminals hurt others. You could maybe even talk about new supers vs. older supers (in relation to the movies): do the morally questionable actions of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool really allow him to call himself a hero? Or is he just a mutant? Since when did the lawfully good attitude of Batman become irrelevant to what it means to be a superhero? Are the characteristics of an individual even part of what makes them a hero anymore? – Gemma Ferguson 1 year ago
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  • It could be helpful to address how spin offs have also taken the origin for granted and built upon the character based on that. How does a movie like Batman Ninja (2018) fit into this mix? – Kevin 1 year ago
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3

Representations of the female form

Much discussion has occurred widely, and here on The Artifice, concerning the representation of women. From their characteristics, values, roles, costuming and purposes within film, TV, literature and comics, there is a rising concern about the way women are represented in popular culture.

However, one area that has not received too much discussion yet is the concept of the representation of the female form. By this I am referring to the actual body type and shape of female characters. Although there is much written about the over sexualisation of the form – an emphasis on unrealistically sized breasts for example – there is little that discusses what constitutes a positive portrayal of the female form. For instance, if we go to the polar opposite and position women physically with almost a masculine form are we undermining the concept of femininity? Does that even matter? Or if we present them as pseudo-teenage boys does this then privilege the male form over that of the female form? As quite frankly, outside of supermodels most women will have pronounced breasts. Should this physical feature be depicted or ignored? What is the better choice? How can we continue to represent women in a positive manner without removing their gender altogether? I recognise that some would argue for this, an androgynous form, but would that form actually resonate with women or would it isolate them further?

How can we today present a positive version of the female form?

  • I actually added to this, but seem to have lost the update so I will add it here:A jumping off suggestion for dealing with this topic is to examine the representations of the female body currently popularised in visual means, look at the exact form and physical features and develop an overview of common stereotypes. Alongside this should be the discussion of the purpose of the different portrayals. This should then be compared to what fringe art is doing in the construction of the female form and explore how they are portraying gendered bodies in a modern manner that could be adapted into mainstream presentations. A discussion of the issue of the male-gaze and the stereotyping of body to gender expectations could also be interesting to explore. There are a number of interesting new representations of the female in comics and general art that are presenting more "realistic" views of the female body. – SaraiMW 2 years ago
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