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Can't our superheroes just be … superheroes?

Sean Kleefeld recently decried the usefulness/effectiveness of secret identities of superheroes in our modern world at his blog, Kleefeld on Comics.

You can click on the link above to read the entire post, but his basic argument is that with all the modern technologies at our disposal, inevitably someone is going to discern the movements and identity of even the most careful costumed character.

I suppose it would be too much for us to maintain our suspension of disbelief for comics, even these days? I mean, if we’re going to impose all sorts of modern-era logic on comic book superheroes, then we may as well do away with unexplainable superpowers as well (control over weather, laser beams shooting from eyes, um … everything else) and then we’re left with … The Punisher?

There’s a reason I can’t get into most of today’s superhero comics: They’ve become too realistic, too gritty, too desperate to distance themselves from “kid’s stuff.” You know what? Sometimes we need kids’ stuff. This is mostly an offense perpetrated by Marvel Comics, a company who is increasingly designing its covers to look less like comics and more like books and magazines.

Meanwhile, over at DC Comics, almost the reverse is happening: The maturing and streamlining of the DCU that happened after Crisis on Infinite Earths in the mid-1980s has been done away with: Multiple realities and multiple versions of DC’s characters abound once again in the wake of recent mega-crossovers that I really cannot even keep track of anymore. Far as I’m concerned, DC peaked circa 1987-1989, producing great comics, including the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League, the Byrne/Wolfman/Perez/Ordway Superman titles and pretty much anything Batman-related at that time.

Somehow, there has to be a middle ground: Why can’t comic books just tell everyday stories as they used to in the pre-crossover era? Why must every storyline create massive ripples for these characters, instead of allowing an organic, natural progression? It’s so convoluted now, I don’t even know where to start.

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