Or an examination of the modification of the existing archetypes of heroes and villains in the Detective Comics Universe.
First and foremost, I realize this isn’t the first arena of research to visit comic book mythologies. I know of two other fascinating books on the market that have explored such themes, and I have taken a cursory glance at both.
Both books are highly recommend for those intrigued by the mystical and archetypal origins of the comic book hero and villain. Knowles work is interesting in respect to the cultivation of the origins of beloved characters that have graced Marvel and DC literature, whereas Kripal draws from other esoteric influences of the 20th century (for example, a wonderful review of the work of Richard Shaver is recommend for anyone interested in the Deros mythos).
In the same vein, I’d like to begin to explore a similar pattern of myth creation in respect to unique population of stories: DC’s Rebirth. Beginning in May of 2016, the creative forces at Detective Comics initiated a new series of publications that “reset” the DC universe to a point in mythological time in hopes that the titles would draw fans back to their literature. So far, so good, as the re-launch has generated millions in sale dollars, and for the first time in quite some time, recently outsold Disney’s Marvel line in terms of unit sales.
A Continued Examination Courtesy of the DC Mythos
With all that being said, my goal is to provide a continued analysis of the before mentioned universe of DC’s Rebirth story. I feel it is the perfect population of data to analyze, and being a bit of contrarian in nature, it is the antithesis of Disney/Marvel’s media juggernaut that is possibly reshaping the very nature of the story itself. As I have not read the majority of literature thus far, my goal is to provide some commentary that makes some sense (to me at least) on the storylines as I work through them. Where this process will lead to, I have no idea, but I want to at least throw my commentary out there for feedback and criticism. With that said, initially, I want to:
- Define story characters as being either a “metahuman” character (ie the Flash), a “mystical” character (ie Swamp Thing), and “human” character (ie Green Arrow).
- Map out each story arc visually from a high level (ie ‘human’ hero fights ‘metahuman’ villain, ‘human’ hero is victorious)
- Call out any interest symbolism inherent or included in the storyline
- This could very well be Jungian, esoteric, Masonic, or some other interesting path way that leads to some unknown interpretation of the material at hand
Again, I have no idea where this will lead to, but having read the DC Rebirth primer, I have already noticed references to the resurrection archetype, initiation, the demiurgus, ancient cosmogonies, the mandela effect, and even possibly to the great CERN itself. Whether that is by design, intent, or included subconsciously, again I can not speak to, but given Warner Brother’s massive offensive to move these stories and characters to the silver screens around the world, I think it may be worth documenting.
A Side Note : My Storytelling Hypothesis
Here is my wild speculation regarding the Marvel versus DC Universes. Disney, the primary holder of the rights of the Marvel catalog, is modifying the archetype of the most human construct : the art of story.
As seen above, and using a very non-scientific data set, I wanted to compare two comic book films released roughly at the same time. The first is the Marvel blockbuster : Captain American: Civil War, and the second is Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice. At a very, very high level, let’s compare the two. In Civil War, we have:
- Hero A (Captain America) vs Hero B (Iron Man)
- Hero A, the metahuman, distrusts the policy of the State
- Hero B, the physical hero, trusts the policy of the State
- Hero B is set against Hero A by way of a physical, but intelligent, villain’s plot for revenge
- Hero A defeats Hero B, despite the audience being forced to feel sympathy for Hero B in respect to Hero B’s tragic family background
- Hero A and Hero B remain alive, but divided, and set up the next film
Plus lots of hero/villain mishmashes, fight scenes, and more hero infighting; honestly, I personally didn’t care the film, and felt it was too unfocused. With that being said, it did very well at the box office and appears to have been viewed favorably by the overall public (see above). Moving to Dawn of Justice, we observe:
- Hero A (Superman) vs Hero B (Batman)
- Hero A, the metahuman, is viewed as a possible enemy of the State
- Hero B, the physical hero, distrusts the possible enemy of the State
- Hero A is set against Hero B by way of a physical, but intelligent, villain’s plot for revenge (Villain A)
- Hero B defeats Hero A, yet both unite and include Hero C (Wonder Woman, the mystical hero) to defeat metahuman Villain B
- Interestingly, it is the ancient idea of the triad that defeats the villain bent of world destruction
- Hero A dies, Hero B and C appear united, and the next film is set up
- The movie also hints at the resurrection of Hero A
Sure, Doomsday probably wasn’t needed, and the ending got messy, but I thought this was a much better film than Civil War. Looking at the above sketches of plot of Civil War, we see the idea of the binary and conflict within the binary. It is a very simple plot line with a lot of additional characters thrown in to attempt to make the film appear complex (and set up other films for profit).
Moving to Dawn of Justice, we see very old themes of the triad, conflict and resolution of the triad, and resurrection in the film. Could the film and story been laid out better? Absolutely, but what I find fascinating from reviews on line and from friends is that the much “simpler” of the two movies was thought to be “much better.” What that means, I can’t say with certainty, but it was an observation I found interesting none the less.
Returning back to the inquiry at hand, my goal is to continue to write up observations of the DC Rebirth storyline as I work through them. I will plan to set up a separate page on this site and continue to add the articles as they are published. Of course, feel free to skip them as they are rolled out; I realize comic books aren’t for everyone. And as always, criticize away!
I still plan to look at other topics that pique my interest, and even have a Hatybov article in the works, so rest assured: not all hope is lost!