Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why Tragedy Should Not Be the Norm, but the Exception Part 1

By Snow Drift 

Ah, tragedy. You’re misery, you’re pain, but gosh darn it aren’t you so luring. From Oedipus Rex to Romeo and Juliet to Batman, you follow us all around the world, across all of time, giving us an infinitude of stories where men and women suffer and die. And sometimes we love it so much. 

Tragedy has always been a literary aspect for thousands of years that have helped create drama and compelling and memorable characters. And sometimes, within our hearts of hearts, we love to see this side of characters. It’s interesting, one has to admit, to witness the growth of a man or woman from their fall into the metaphorical darkness of misery and despair to their stand as beacons of light for humanity, both in the fictional universe and the real one.
However, ever since the birth of what can be called the Dark Age of comics (what many believe began with the death of Gwen Stacy, but that is still being debated), but especially with the explosion that was the DC Comics company-wide reboot, the New 52, almost every single superhero, no matter who they are and where they come from, have a massive pile of tragedy thrust into their lives, with an added dose of the oh so famous “grim and gritty”. Superman’s adoptive parents are now dead; Barry Allen’s, the Flash’s, mother was murdered by one of his enemies and his father was erroneously condemned to life in prison because of it; Hal Jordan’s, the Green Lantern’s, father was killed in a plane crash; Bruce Wayne has had two Robins actually die, including his son; the Amazons are now men-and-baby killing warriors; Buddy Baker’s, Animal Man’s, son has been killed and so on and so forth. 

On and on and on do we see this new tendency to infiltrate tragedy into the lives of our heroes over at DC Comics. Is it bad to do this? Not necessarily, since many heroes may have different motivations for their actions and decisions to fight as vigilantes. Batman and the Punisher are classical examples of men motivated by tragedy, along with Peter Parker with his Uncle Ben, Cassandra Cain with experiencing what it feels like to kill another human, and Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, with the massacre of her family, these last being based on the old DC Universe. It’s fascinating to see how these characters attempt to right the wrongs of these tragedies and avoid the same events from happening to others who do not deserve it. To see them fight and struggle for these beliefs is enriching in itself. However, among these characters and many others, there is another tendency that follows them around, along with the memories of their tragedies: their happiness, especially the one coming from their loved ones.

Bruce Wayne could have ended up hating the world that he lived in. He could have witnessed the crimes, the injustice, and the corruption of the police and justice system and determined to himself that society was a lost cause; that it did not deserve, or was unable to reach, a future of happiness and peace. But he didn't, because within the tragedy of the murder of his parents, he had the opportunity to witness love and comfort from Alfred Pennyworth, hope in the police from Commissioner James Gordon, joy and innocence against all odds from Dick Grayson back when he was Robin, and so on. He saw all of that and understood that life, and the world, was made up of more than just hate and misery: it had love, it had happiness, and it had justice. 

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