After all, Charming Orphan Annie singing her way to a family is more optimistic than Malnourished Orphan Annie decrying the wealth gap created by the capitalist system.
Last week, I expressed the heretical opinion that Logan is excellent but miserable, a one-view-only masterpiece that is bereft of hope. This week, I thought I’d elaborate a bit more on just what hope means.
That’s a tall order, of course, just like it’s hard to express something that’s so subjective, as well as being a fundamental word, like trying to describe “hot” or “soft” without using those words. But perhaps there’s a way to narrow it down. Perhaps by grasping to explain, I can clear up the picture and feelings behind it for others. Just what IS hope in stories?
I don’t feel hopeful that they’ll beat the odds and succeed; I feel resigned to their deaths, and think it’d be nice if they met it with dignity.
Logan does a lot right. Well-paced, good balance of action and emotion, very elegant conservation of information that is transmitted smoothly in a plot-relevant way, all of which are difficult to achieve in any film, let alone an action-fantasy. Does a lot for the comic book movie genre to bring more mature storylines to light, along with all the other ‘serious fan’ pontifications. Proves that good writing can transcend genres and categories, surpassing supposed restrictions with creative execution.
In fact, there’s only one thing it fails to do: Make me happy.
What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?
Class is once again in session! Yes, that idiom was to be expected. Yes, you are fully allowed to cringe at me. Just as planned!
Today, I’ll be talking about a staple of fantastic settings and what we can learn from it: The SUPERSCHOOL! One highly popular example of a very involved setting.
Whether it’s an academy, the school, a magical order, or an alien police force, these are institutions built around the idea of collecting what we’d consider “special” and training it to perfection. From Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters to the Hogwarts School For Witchcraft And Wizardry, these have been a rich source for potential stories.
The main purpose of these, of course, is to teach superpowered individuals how to responsibly control and use their powers. Otherwise you’ll end up with all sorts of tragedy and collateral damage. Though the mission statement and end goals can vary, ultimately they’re about getting all that power in one place and getting it under control or awarded after rigorous training.
But what’s the deal with these schools? When’s something normal or not, and what’s the nuts and bolts behind it? What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?
“We have to retrieve Blue Beetle’s soul from the Phantom Zone and his body from Gorilla City and get Etrigan to stick the two together!”
Ah yes, death. The final answer. The culmination of a gripping battle or a long march. A powerful tool in the writer’s arsenal, meant to create SHOCK and DRAMA. For surely all will be touched by the loss of their loved one, the legacy and memories they leave behind, and all the emotions that come with it.
And then there’s comic book deaths.
As part of my usual target audience, you’re more than likely familiar with the concept. A character ‘dies’ only to come back to life later, sometimes to joyful celebration and other times to rolled eyes. And of course, you know the various ways this happens: clones, robot doubles, magic, time travel, bad/mad science, fight with Death itself, it was a dream, reality gets mixed up, the works. And of course, the classic “The fans/profits demanded it.”
There are plenty of articles to discuss this particular trope’s merits and faults, both from a literary and in-universe perspective, but I won’t be going into those. Instead, I’ll do my best to present the usual ways this plays out, and hopefully give you some fun and some tips about writing along the way. Because really, discipline aside, it IS important to have fun with writing.