The Platonic ideal of characters

Characters, as everyone reading this undoubtedly knows, exist not only on the page but in our heads. It’s one reason I sometimes read things I’m certain I won’t like.

My favorite characters exist to me as a kind of Platonic ideal, separate from how they actually manifest on the page. This is particularly true with comic books, which I’ve been reading since I was six, and with a few other characters such as Sherlock Holmes. My reaction to a bad story isn’t to dislike the character but to decide the story gets them wrong. My head canon of the character remains pure.

Case in point, Scott Snyder’s Batman: Endgame. If Batman can build a battlesuit powerful enough to take down Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League, he’s capable of doing a lot better on the streets of Gotham. Even if he doesn’t use that battlesuit, he could obviously afford one that would work like Iron Man in stealth mode. So why doesn’t he?

More generally I simply don’t like Snyder’s Bat-work much, for all the praise it’s gotten. So maybe it’s unfair to pick up yet another TPB and give it another negative review.

But at the same time, I do like Batman. I like reading Batman stories. So I’ll pick up Snyder just to see what the Bat’s doing lately. I care about Batman even when they’re doing him wrong.

And the same for Flash, Green Lantern Spider-Man and so forth. I love the characters even if I can’t stand the current writers. Though these days I’m much more likely to save time and pass on a TPB if I don’t like the writer (I avoid Jonathan Hickman’s stuff like the plague). But that’s more about time to read than the writer’s being worse than they used to be (as I wrote on the Atomic Junkshop site, there’s so much available now that changes the equation). Rereading the Bronze Age Freedom Fighters reminded me how poor the book was, but I still like the platonic ideal of the team.

So perhaps I’m being unfair picking up books I know I’m going to hate, but I’m still going to do it sometimes.

#SFWApro. Art by Greg Capullo, all rights to image remain with current holder.

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, Reading

One response to “The Platonic ideal of characters

  1. Pingback: Badass villains: The War of Jokes and Riddles | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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