Thank God, a NEW controversy! Last week, Bill Willingham penned a piece for Big Hollywood, a newish website dedicated to presenting a more conservative view of the entertainment industry. The piece was entitled: Superheroes: Still Plenty of Super, But Losing Some of the Hero. While admitting his own part in superhero deconstruction back in the day with THE ELEMENTALS (remember Willingham’s fine art for that series?), he feels the right way to go is with a more heroic model of the superhero:
Borrowing some wisdom from the famous parable of the mote in one fellow’s eye, and the whole beam in another’s, it would be the height of hypocrisy for me to make any call for our industry to clean up its act, until I’ve first cleaned up my own. I’ve already made some progress down that road. In my run writing the Robin series (of Batman fame), I made sure both Batman and Robin were portrayed as good, steadfast heroes, with unshakable personal codes and a firm grasp of their mission. I even got to do a story where Robin parachuted into Afghanistan with a group of very patriotic military superheroes on a full-scale, C130 gunship-supported combat mission. And in my short run on the Shadowpact series I kept to the same standard (but with less success as several story details were editorially imposed).
But ’some’ progress isn’t enough. It’s time to make public a decision I’ve already made in private. I’m going to shamelessly steal a line from Rush Limbaugh, who said, concerning a different matter, “Go ahead and have your recession if you insist, but you’ll have to pardon me if I choose not to participate.” And from now on that’s my position on superhero comics. Go ahead and have your Age of Superhero Decadence, if you insist, but you’ll have to pardon me if I no longer choose to participate.
The post brings about a pretty healthy response, but nothing like the comments section at Robot 6 which erupts into an all-out culture war that we hardly dared wade into, although Kurt Busiek seemed all too eager.
After reading the piece, we got the impression that Willingham, being one of the better “Big Two” comics writers out there, is still more interested in telling good stories than trying to serve some absolutist political viewpoint. Or maybe he’s just on the cutting edge, because “grim and gritty” is getting old. Apparently Willingham will be a regular at the site — can you say, boon to blog-kind?