I don’t think Kings can be heroes either. They can be support characters, but their heroes journey is not transformative - it’s just to return to how things were. Kings are just like fathers in literature, they just have bigger families. The story is in the fall of the King, or the rise of a King, not in a king maintaining his kingdom. It’s why someone like Black Bolt or even Namor just aren’t strong leads (Namor only works when he’s not ruling Atlantis).
Totally agree. the only role for a king in literature is to feel regret for his mistakes and/ or die. You become a king at the END of your adventures. Ditto a Dad or a husband for all the reasons mentioned above.
In other words, Lois should not know Clark’s Superman or the dynamic of what makes it work falls apart completely. Suddenly, he doesn’t have to make his Clark Kent persona lovely enough for Lois to fall madly in love with. She’s crazy about Superman. But Clark is who he wants her to love and she thinks she’s likeable idiot.
As I was taught in school at around 13, stories revolve around conflict, not just fights but conflict of ideas or personalities. In every standard rom-com they fall out and get back together. They never just meet and get on swimmingly and then get married, even though that’s the ideal we all have and the reality for many people.
As such there is always a lack of harmony and quite normal behaviour in fiction. If there are happy marriages or great parent/child relationships they are normally window dressing to the main plot.
After Arthur becomes king, he stops being the lead character and becomes a supporting character for Launcelot, Gawaine, Percival, etc. He doesn’t get another significant leading role until his death (including the triangle with Launcelot/Guinevere – that’s Launcelot’s story, Arthur is the antagonist).
But that’s just another confirmation that all the best hero stories are their origin stories. After that they’re just treading water until the next reboot.
It’s significant that Mallory’s story that kick-started the whole legend wasn’t called The Life of Arthur
I don’t know, though. It cuts off a lot of options but I’m not convinced that it cuts off all your options.
Certainly, I felt that Priest’s Black Panther was really excellent, for a very long period of time. And there were threats to his monarchy, without a doubt. He was deposed and it even changed protagonists after, It hink, 50 issues or so.
But it worked, and it worked really well. So did the West Wing, for that matter. There are hard choices to make, hard questions to answer, as king. I think there’s somethign to mine there.
I guess I’m saying is I think I could do a pretty kick ass Aquaman book.
Well, this is who says Superman hates Clark. It’s the idea of Superman feeling guilty. My argument is that Clark is his release valve. It’s why he can’t be Superman 24/7. Otherwise he would hate Clark, having ever not been that powerful, and so being that powerful would kind of corrupt him. Isn’t that the classic argument, that eventually he comes across something he can’t handle, and then cracks?
I don’t know, maybe it’s just the Maggin argument. I grew up with Maggin as the guy who did the novelization of Kingdom Come (which in itself was a major statement about Superman needing Clark Kent), and not from his '70s work.
But again, I can respect different perspectives. And anyway, it doesn’t hugely matter. I think I’m done unintentionally antagonizing people here.
Thinking about it, “There’s nothing interesting to write about a King” is really the same criticism leveled at Superman, isn’t it? “There’s nothing interesting to write a super powerful sun diety”.
It requires something outside the typical scope of action comics, out of superhero comics, but that’s an opportunity, not a hinderance.
You got there before I could say it. And I’m glad that you did.
I think there’s stark differences between a king and a guardian/benevolent deity. One is typically married, with kids and has gone through his transformative journey. Superman will never complete his journey.
I dont’ think anyone completes their journey. Becoming a king is just the start of another.
Henry V was quite brilliant, I thought, despite focusing on a king. (so brilliant I’ve memorized most of it).
THINK NOT UPON THE FAULT MY FATHER MADE ENCOMPASSING THE CROWN!
I don’t at all see why a story about a king can’t be successful. Aren’t characters such as Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne basically kings of their personal empires? I think they’ve done OK with stories.
I think the argument there is that it always falls into the trap of ‘losing their company’ or ‘losing their wealth’.
But yes I agree.
King Lear was as big as Hamlet for me with Jupiter’s Legacy.The king dies three issues in, but it’s fascinating to watch someone awesome worry about their legacy, especially when their children are disappointing.
That’s really a timeless thing in fiction, isn’t it? That every subsequent generation is a degradation, further from that initial, divine source. The greeks were all about it.
A lot to mine there. It’s utterly tragic and makes everything taut, as if the very narrative is hurtling inexorably into some abyss.
Deniz brought up Black Panther and there’s still a discussion?
In this context I’d say they’re both princes. A king in the example I’m using is someone who’s married, has children and has a stable kingdom. Like Black Bolt. The only story you can tell with the Inhumans is a threat to their kingdom that the king defeats. Great as a single story, but impossible for the ongoing narrative in comics. So when you look at Inhumans as a property they’ve never become much as there’s nowhere to go outside of Attillan blowing up again.
Professor X is pretty much a King in comic terms. His books are about his children.
This has been a fascinating thread. I don’t tend to subscribe to the idea that any character should have a single, definitive take - new perspectives are what help to refresh these characters and keep them interesting, after all - so it’s been interesting to read so many different views on Superman and how he works best.
I think the ‘love triangle’ idea is an intriguing one, but for me it raises a big question: What is the cost of Superman’s ‘love’ of Clark Kent?
If Clark is just a construct, a glorious work of art that Superman loves to perpetuate, then what is the cost to humanity of Superman spending so much time as Clark, rather than spending it doing good as Superman?
While Clark is bumbling around Lois and tripping over his shoelaces, are there criminals getting away with murder because Superman isn’t on duty? When Clark is stammering his way through a Daily Planet editorial meeting, are there people dying in natural disasters that Superman could have saved? How does Superman justify that ‘downtime’ as Clark to himself, given the good that he could be doing instead?
Or is it perhaps that Clark serves the important secondary purpose of keeping Superman tethered to humanity? Without his time as Clark, would Superman find it difficult to empathise with us; to understand us; ultimately, to care about us? And if that’s the case, then isn’t Clark really an important, genuine part of Superman’s personality after all?
I’m not sure anyone has to ‘justify’ the things they need to do for themselves, to keep themselves sane and fulfilled, do they? I do think the typical answer would be that it keeps him tethered to humanity, and it’s a fine one, but I’m also fine with the idea that Superman NEEDS Clark. That Clark completes him.
In any case, the Superman you’re referring to actually DOES exist, as the Samaritan in Busiek’s Astro City. It’s an interesting take, for sure!
I think in the DC world construct nothing bad is happening when Superman is Clark. When he finds out there’s an earthquake or a sinking ship he makes his excuses and leaves. I don’t think we’ve ever had a scene where he’s bowling with Lois, see a plane hijacking and keeps going because he’s nearly got a perfect game.
Could he be doing other non-disaster things while he’s Clark? Sure. That gets into the ‘feed the hungry’ and ‘get rid of dictators’ narrative for superheroes. The concept of the character soon falls apart when you put them in that environment though. We need a suspension of disbelief to make all comic characters work. It’s no different from saying Bruce Wayne could do more good than Batman beating up desperate criminals. Well yeah, but that’s not going to sell any comics.