Thursday, February 6, 2014

On the Superiority of DC to Marvel.  Or:  On a Healthy Form and Beneficial Function of Sectarianism

Though in general I view feuds over which brand of something is superior to its alternatives and competitors is idiotic and unhealthy when argued with the zeal of a zealot I think that it is not only healthy but beneficial to argue which surpasses the other, not simply to display which one is better, but to have a debate over which aspects and attributes are to be valued as opposed to others and to practice bringing forth sufficient evidence of the claims one is making.  If anything, brand wars are practice for lively debate in more important matters.  But what is almost as if not perhaps just as important than intellectual debate in philosophy and politics, is to once and for all conclude that DC surpasses Marvel. 
Firstly, DC has far more complex villains who represent certain ideologies and psychologies.  Each Batman villain represents a form of mental illness for example (more-or-less) while most Spider-man villains are mostly criminals who all have animal getups.  How cute.  X-men is a great series representing ostracism and Exceptionalism of those who are isolated from the lowest common denominator rather due-to meaningless things like race and sexuality, or virtues such-as intelligence.  X-men have Magneto and a few other interesting antagonists, but let me just run-off a few Superman villains and we’ll see how they compare:  Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Brainiac, Darkseid, and Mr. Mxyzptlk.  All of these characters have something fundamentally unique and interesting about them.  Of course most comics from both companies aren’t worth reading, but DC also has the flagship of Vertigo which has literary masterpieces such as V for Vendetta and Watchmen under its belt.  Marvel has works like Spider-man: Back-in-Black, which while a very well made and intelligent study isn’t exactly the introduction to Philosophy course that Watchmen is.  I confess I have only read a dozen or two stories from each company, so perhaps I’m not in the place to scrutinize either in-regards to comics, though I notice that Marvel is quicker to jump on the gimmick bandwagon of Marvel Apes and Marvel Zombies (which I loved the first two, the third however was terrible and I stopped reading after that) while DC has works like Forever Evil coming out which expresses the alternative universe of Nietzschean doppelgangers of our selfless heroes – I don’t think there’s a Marvel equivalent of that, and if there is they haven’t made it nearly as well or intellectual to be worth knowing.
It goes without any argument that DC is superior to Marvel in regards to animation.  Batman the Animated Series, the revamped version of it, Justice League, the reintroduction of that through Unlimited, Static Shock and Batman Beyond neither of which were as noteworthy as the prior two but were still pretty damn good.  Marvel had Saturday morning animations of nearly all of their main flagship heroes but the only one that I recall having the slightest attraction to was The Amazing Spider-man; the others just looked like, well, kids’ shows.  Not content meant for people of all ages with witty jokes, adult references that I always love to see in kid’s shows to see that someone still has a spine in the TV biz, and at-least somewhat in-depth moral, philosophical and intellectual issues that show that someone at DC also has a brain.  The Justice League in particular was a piece of genius and clarity, having issues that range from war, patriotism, Deontology vs. Consequentialism. 
One episode where we see this at-least somewhat is the episode where Batman may have to murder an innocent psychic named Ace or allow the alternative of hundreds of people being killed in a telekinetic blast.  In the end however he never needs to make the choice of whether he would break his one rule if it was absolutely necessary, but it was still a very deep episode that was in-effect more a final episode of Batman Beyond (which seemed ok but I never got into) having Terry deal with the realization that the man who raised him isn’t his father genetically, instead Bruce Wayne’s genetic material was manifested into Terry’s father (obligatory anal penetration joke) through nanobots.  If Batman was in this position, something tells me that he would be unyielding to his code, one which not only puts his own life more-so at-risk than otherwise (and if he dies in combat, that’s however many years that he could’ve dedicated to improving the lives of Gothamites and saving the world, so it’s not a matter of pure rational self-interest) and more importantly risking the lives of others when to stop a criminal from murdering someone he would need to use lethal force.  He and the others have always found convenient ways around killing their villains, at-least almost always there is villains like Darkseid who are nonhuman and their degree of inhumanity warrants death by anyone’s standards.  But ignoring the “it would be ethical to kill The Joker and Lex Luthor because they will inevitably break out of Federal Prison or Arkham only to endanger more lives” which seems like a reasonable argument for the worst of the worst, there will be situations where at-the-moment Batman should’ve killed the Joker and by not doing so he’s endangering people who are held hostage.  Police Officers should – though many forget this to put it kindly – only remove their guns from their holsters in the presence of a lethal threat, but once that threat has presented itself hesitating to shoot especially when dealing with mass-murdering psychopaths and Billionaires with plots of world domination would be a egregious error.
In the film department, Marvel clearly makes more movies and displays more heroes than DC, who has only recently broken out of their Batman/Superman paradigm; however, most of Marvel’s movies aren’t exactly cinematic masterpieces.  Being mediocre at-best the only great Marvel movies are Kickass, its sequel (despite what most reviewers said), the X-men franchise save the Wolverine series, Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and The Amazing Spider-man.  The Avengers was an adequate popcorn movie, but I personally didn’t find it as riveting as most.  Now I did mention quite a few movies, so I would accept the argument that Marvel surpasses DC for the time being, though when it comes to not only worthwhile films, but hallmarks in story and content I still hold that DC has more to provide.  The Dark Knight is a masterpiece, I don’t think I need to spend much time arguing this, and actually has an ending which essentially promotes a quasi-Marxist ethic.  Which makes it all the more strange that the conclusion to the Nolan trilogy would be so terrible, not only in its ideology but basic plot.  Man of Steel was an astounding movie as well, one I plan to write an examination piece on so I won’t go far into that one either.  And then of course there’s Watchmen, which isn’t as great as the graphic novel, but functions as an adequate cinematic adaptation.
I think it’s necessary to emphasize how profound the Justice League can be.  Mentioning Global Warming, religion, the Government’s interaction with “potential threats” which it deemed the Justice League after the Justice Lords entered our “dimension”, as well-as Patriotism, pacifism and redemption (when it is rational and when it is ill-deserved) and many other topics.  If you haven’t seen it I can’t think of a children’s TV show I could recommend more for the intellectual at-heart – I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic in that advertisement either.  Also I love the episode where a Glenn Beck figure criticizes the Justice League for allowing divorce and being beloved by children who don’t “eat their vegetables.”  And also, did Superman ever deny being a Marxist?  In another reality he’s a filthy – probably Jewish – Communist who turns nearly the entire world into a Soviet satellite, and though our Superman seems to be as American as apple pie, has he outright denied any affiliations with Communists, Muslims or witches?  I think not. 
Let’s look at the notion of redemption for example and further what the show doesn’t state directly but gives us the material for us to discern on our own – a sign of material encouraging critical thinking and Skepticism rather than propaganda for a particular point of view.  What the show doesn’t state – what they leave to the viewer to decide for himself on – is that a person may do an action that seems contrary to their nature, but that doesn’t change the fact that people’s fundamental nature seldom changes.  Hawkgirl was at-worst a virtuous person who did a horrible thing, while Lex Luthor is a sociopathic greedy narcissist who occasionally does virtuous things, usually when it suits him and his goals.  A good person may and inevitably will do unjust and unjustifiable things, but that alone – at-least a single action outside the norm – does not define them unless the severity of the crime is malicious in magnitude.  And heinous people will occasionally do things that serve the greater good, though it will either be a step towards immoral deeds, or is an act that is in itself and is not a step for greater evil, but was based on warped psychology.  Like the forced sterilization of blacks may have positive sociological applications – at-least for a relatively short period of time until the same conditions and prejudices are placed on another group of people (probably Muslims only they aren’t enough in this country to be what the Conservatives would like them to be) consequently of the necessity for hatred and ignorance in Capitalist society as well-as to have the material conditions that produce stupidity and poor psychology particular on some groups more-so than others – only because statistically they suffer the material conditions of hardship ignorance and the environments of routine drug use and crime, but that does not change the fact that a racist who forces a particularly group whether it’s something as meaningless as race or not to disallow them to have children indefinitely – rather than what I support which is every citizen receiving a license to have children after having proven they are of sound mind and have the finances to support a child.
Also there’s the episode where Green Arrow (who actually is a Marxist in some interpretations, and actually states Leftist positions with legitimacy and credulity, rather than being a “Fox News Liberal” or even worse Democrat who either is right-wing and is absurdly believed to be Left, or who is just a puppet or caricature who is paid to be akin to a Catholic’s interpretation of what Atheists think and are, or even worse betraying the few real values or merits you have to your worst ones, whether they be illogical convictions or petty vices like greed, seen in Conservative pundit SE Cupp in her getting paid doing Right-wing idiocy from a “free-thinker” claiming to be an Atheist and then pandering to the most stupid Christian Conservatives selling books saying religion is under attack in America.) actually makes his political stance (at-lest his loose or relative stance) clear by saying, “I’m an old Leftie” but then gives an inaccurate description of what it means to be Leftist.  “The Government is there to do for people what they can’t do for themselves.”  This is actually more-or-less a Classical Liberal position of being there as a safeguard protecting innocent people from crime or other injustices.  But of course it’s a foolish statement if for no other reason than that the Government is a body made up of people and is nothing more.  The Government is not a metaphysical entity that exists in this universe independent of those who control and manage it.  In our country which is a mixed-economy, we have the USPO and we have Fed Ex, obviously the Leftist position is that Fed Ex makes a profit unfairly and it would be for the best interest of the majority to have either workers’ control of all mail, or to have the Government control all of it and have them all be federal employees and earn a fair wage.  Having people do what they “can do for themselves” and with the assistance of intelligent organization which the Government can be in potential without corrupting political or corporate influence.  Really his statement has nothing to do with Leftist mentality or ideology, and if anything is a vacuous and almost meaningless statement I’d expect Ayn Rand or some other Right-wing Libertarian to espouse.
Now of course having brand wars as an analogy for a healthy form of sectarianism can’t be complete, for where one is non-ideological and non-intellectual in the sense of not being a construct of consciousness (at-least not in make-up but of consequence) but of course can be intellectual in the sense of having intellectual elements or being superior as to have intellectuals support it en masse, the other is a construct of one’s mind with serious goals to achieve or a comprehensive view of the world and humanity or an aspect of them.  For example, one could argue that the Gamecube was superior to the PS2, and make an intellectual case for it, but there’s no such thing as “the Nintendo position” for how to handle the Conservative attack on violent videogames as the main source for actual violence.  One could make a very well made argument over the superiority of 2-D Sonic to 2-D Mario (now that Nintendo has made a Mario game where if you get a game over you can get a “rape the game” cheat and become invincible throughout the entire level, even though the last great 3-D Sonic game that came out was Sonic Heroes – Sonic DX and Sonic Adventure 2 in particular were phenomenal games as-well – which came out a decade ago I don’t believe a defensible or respectable argument of three-dimensional Mario games surpassing their Sonic counterparts can be made.  The last worthwhile Mario game in my opinion was Super Mario Sunshine despite it being disliked by a large group of people – who from this moment on will be known as complete morons and the first on my list for extermination!  Love the addition of the Fludd or die. – though perhaps I should add I never played Super Mario Galaxy 2 though didn’t have high hopes for it if the only improvement to the first was the addition of Yoshi.  Which would be more of a complimentary benefit or plus, rather than an actual improvement from the mechanics and game play as a whole.) but that doesn’t amount to a “Sonicist” position on anything besides which franchise surpasses the other.

In general sectarianism is an evil that Socialists should avoid, however, that does not mean we should discontinue all intellectual discussion and debate between fractioning ideologies as-long as it is functional and does not make cooperation amongst the Socialist spectrum impossible or impaired.  As Materialists and Intellectuals we must never say that nothing is beyond reproach or scrutiny, but petty criticisms of Anarchism or ignorant and juvenile insults of Marxists or Marxism is neither helpful nor intellectual.  If we must further our cause, we must first further our own understanding of when and perhaps more importantly how to debate and cooperate as to create an ideal society where lively debate and cooperation is a common phenomenon – something that Capitalism and religion are both explicitly and tacitly against.

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