This cinematic, the lead-in to the new DC Universe massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), neatly illustrates one of the points I was trying to make about corporate superheroes in the last podcast: because they are brands more than they are characters their stories can never have proper endings, and it is the presence of an ending which gives everything that comes before it dramatic weight. This six minutes of animation looks at a possible Ragnarok for the heroes and villains of the DCU, and—so long as you’re familiar with the players—it is mind-blowingly intense.
It also obliquely features what would have been a better answer to Mark’s question in the podcast about current memes in superhero comics, namely: the incredible powerful figure who presents himself as wholly benign (i.e. Superman) but is actually, terrifyingly not. (Warning: loads of graphic violence in these links.) Marvel did their version with the Sentry, Robert Kirkman did it with Omni-Man in Invincible, Mark Waid is doing it with the Plutonian in Irredeemable, Tomasi and Champagne did it in The Mighty, and Garth Ennis is doing the ultra-explicit version with the Homelander in The Boys.
Of course, DC can’t go full-antihero with Superman, whose other pole is as a stand-in for Christ, so they nod towards it in the visage of ‘angry, red-eyed Superman’. I don’t want to get political, but I think it is very reflective, if unconsciously so, of our feelings about the greater powers at work in the world. We’re worried about the “heroes” now, as well as the villains.
Check it out: