~ by Michael Tennant, the CBU’s Nightwing ~
Our heavy thinking (drinking?) brother from south Florida has some things weighing on his mind about the current state of comics.
It seems so very simple. Good vs Evil. Only that is not what morality really is.
Morality is a particular system of values and principles of conduct.
Good and evil do not even come into it. The problem with morality is that it is a sliding scale for each individual.
Once upon a time, morality was simply this: the heroes were the good guys and the villains were just evil. SUPERMAN rescued cats from trees, while LEX LUTHOR kicked puppies. Nice and neat. It was an easier time with more well-defined threats. At the time of the Golden Age of Comics we were in the middle of World War II, so the Nazis right there for comics creators. When that war was over the Soviet Union nicely took their place during the Cold War.
In the Silver Age of Comics, as comic fans became comics creators, society moved on and grew up some. Characters had a more defined morality. Even amongst heroes, their principles and values were not always the same. CLARK KENT and BRUCE WAYNE did not believe in the same methods. There were lines each would not cross, but not necessarily the same lines. It was much the same amongst the villains. Things would blur even more in the 70s and 80s with the birth of the anti-hero. Characters like the PUNISHER often felt that the ends justified any means. It seemed that each and every character had their own individual morality that was different from anyone else.
Now, not only do heroes fight villains, but also each other. Some heroes will stop at killing, while others felt that that line must be crossed to safeguard others.
So where does the Moral Center come in?
With all these distinct values and principles, you need that center. A basis to compare and contrast that behavior is necessary, whether in the real world or these imaginary worlds we explore. There had always been some characters that were just and good; ones we could rely on to do the “right thing”. Now we have a CAPTAIN AMERICA who leads HYDRA, versions of Superman who not only kills but rules the world in a totalitarian regime. All the lines have blurred. You cannot distinguish the heroes and villains without a scorecard.
We need that center once again. We need heroes who fight villains, and not each other.
We need hope to come back.
Author Info: After discovering Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #239 as a young man, Michael never looked back. Armed with a passion for journalism and a thirst for knowledge, he still talks to his imaginary friends.