The Life and Times of Savior 28 #3 cover image
Although it seems to have developed out of writer J.M. DeMatteis’ desire to examine violence in superhero comic books, in many ways, The Life and Times of Savior 28 is still a superhero comic book – post-modern and deconstructive as it may be. The series follows the life of titular superhero, Savior 28… as told by Dennis McNulty, a depression era orphan who became Savior 28’s sidekick The Daring Disciple. McNulty would eventually become the man who killed Savior 28.
In The Life and Times of Savior 28 #3 (“The Whole World is Watching”), McNulty relates the changes that Savior 28/James Smith went through after 9/11. Savior 28 wants to use his powers for world peace instead of using them to battle super-powered villains. His decision makes him enemies, such as the White House, and also former adversaries pop up – including Ms. Jupiter, who is looking for an epic battle. So the question is did Savior 28 change, or is it a question of what really changed?
I’m conflicted about The Life and Times of Savior 28. While I think that it is certainly well-written and thoughtful and that its themes and intentions are worthy of discussion, this would probably be better off not being a superhero comic book. We should consider that the kind of stories found in superhero comic books (not superhero movies, novels, video games, etc.) are fantasy, and a unique form of fantasy, at that. Superhero comics are, as someone once described L. Frank Baum’s writings (particularly The Wizard of Oz), like the kind of make-believe a 5-year-old comes up with.
One can use superhero stories to discuss contemporary socio-political issues. One can use them as metaphors for real world issues. Creators can even make superheroes more “realistic,” which means placing them in a real world setting (What if superheroes were real!). All this can result in something special (Watchmen) or something that verges on self-parody (Marvel Comics).
In this issue is a battle between Savior 28 and Ms. Jupiter. As I read that sequence, I started to wonder if I was missing the point that this is all a joke. Is this a metaphor for real world violence or a closeted parody of superhero realism?
Mike Cavallaro: http://www.66thousandmilesperhour.com/