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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
More SGA thoughts - tiny spoilers

Our Heroes and Comic Books

Someone said that Rodney was DC and John was Marvel. And I've been thinking about this. Now, I have to make a disclaimer here - I'm a DC girl. I read Daredevil and no other Marvel universe comic. However, I *am* a comic book fan, and I am part of this culture, so I know something about the Marvel universe and most of the big heroes.

And I did read the big crossover series a few years ago.

However, I might be mistaken in what I've gleaned, so any Marvel readers out there, please correct me.

In the DC universe, people with powers are out in the open. I don't mean that they don't wear masks or otherwise keep their civilian identities separate, but they function in the greater world openly cooperating with the powers-that-be. Several even *were* the powers-that-be - Barry Allen was a "police scientist", Ollie Green is mayor of Star City, Dick Grayson was a police officer, John Jones was a detective and Bart Allen is in training. And superheroes are lauded by most people - their books sell, when they die, they get statues. Some are even worshipped. If they get injured, they go to Star Labs. Even the villains are...open, if you will. They use their powers in their villainy and they have to be kept in special prisons. Some are insane, and have to be dealt with in that way. However, no one is deemed good or bad because they have powers - only in how they use them. (Very Jewish, that.)

So, in pretty much any crowd scene in a DC comic, you'll see people wearing t-shirts with hero emblems, and there magazines and tabloids dedicated to them. They're up there with actors and rock stars.

In the Marvel universe, from what I can see, it's very different (and probably closer to what it would be in the real world - witness the series Heroes.) Heroes act without government sanction - I think the whole Civil War thing is about that. The public at large, while aware of what good the heroes do, do not trust people with powers, and less so those who are born with them. So the heroes are often underground, avoiding authority while taking care of the bad element. Daredevil went through several years of this particular problem, culiminating in an arrest because he was outed.

Do kids wear Captain America t-shirts in the Marvel universe?

These people are not rock stars.

So, let's look at John and Rodney.

Rodney is not about going underground, or hiding himself. He *can't*. He needs an audience (for all his apparent ego, Rodney's self-esteem must be abysmal), he needs to bounce his ideas off other people and he needs it to be known that he's smart. In fact, that might be the only thing he thinks is positive about him, so, you know. Yeah, I know this feeling. :)

And here's DC, all sunny and bright and full of people whose superpowers or abilities (like archery or acrobatics) are acknowledged - where people are allowed to be special and different and better without it being a threat. So, of course he's a DC fan.

And here's John. And what do we know about John? Very little - because John hides - he hides his intelligence, his geekishness, his own insecurity and, possibly, his sexuality. He doesn't let anyone in but Rodney. He fears being different, being outcast, and so he's learned to hide those parts of himself, and he's learned really, really well. He still wants superpowers :), but he wants them on Atlantis where - well, he *has* superpowers, so what's more? Just like other "mutants" - he blossoms where it's okay to be different, but back on Earth, he'd be in his shell again, hiding.

And then - who is Rodney's favorite hero? Batman. Batman, as we all know, is not powered. He has an arsenal of "toys", he has a superbly trained body and he has a brilliant detective's mind, but he's completely "normal." He's also the guy everyone goes to when they need something solved. When he stops trusting his fellow heroes, things go wrong.

And he's in the deepest hiding because he's not officially with the Gotham City Police Department. He's sort of on the side and tolerated - he even spent some time being wanted by the police. He's in so deep that he has created a persona he's named "Bruce Wayne" - a thoughtless, spoiled playboy - to hide behind during the day. In many ways, despite his normality, he's the closest DC has to a Marvel type hero.

And. Here's John, who has created this wise-cracking, laid-back, not quite bright persona he's named Lt. Col Sheppard to hide who he really is.

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As someone who is familiar with both houses... yeah. I think you pretty much nailed it. Atlantis is John's X-Mansion -- where he is among people who know who he 'really' is and what he can do and it's not like they don't appreciate it and aren't a little in awe, but they're all there because they can do something special, too, so the sliding scale of relativity is adjusted because of it. Outside of the mansion on Greymalkin Lane, the X-Men are all anonymous (or try to be) and they're no examples to society -- they don't fit in well and they don't *try* to fit in well since they know the world doesn't like them ("protecting a world that hates and fears them.") In Big Air Force, John doesn't try and doesn't succeed in playing along because he knows they don't like him and he either doesn't want to fight that or doesn't think he can.

And on a slightly more meta route... DC has an institutional memory -- Alan and Jay remember what they were doing in WWII, Dinah became a hero because of her mom, the Starman legacy, etc... Marvel doesn't really have one. It's always "contemporary" -- Jean Grey used to wear pillbox hats and Hank McCoy used to go to beat poetry readings, but now they are of the age where their parents might have done those things. Rodney is a legacy character -- he has a history with the SGC, with SG-1, with the whole universe. John... doesn't.

Marvel doesn't have an institutional memory? Huh.

John does try to fit in - not so much with the Air Force, since he really is utterly unambitious, so he doesn't care - but as an "ordinary" guy. But Atlantis is different. As you said, he's living with other "mutants" now, so he doesn't have to pretend to be ordinary, which means he doesn't have to keep people at a distance. Which is good because the snarky humor that keeps them away on Earth is an attractor on Atlantis - everyone's snarky. But it means that the armor cracks more than a little.

This is a really interesting post. :) I agree with your characterisations. I was wondering, because I watch the show but don't participate in the fandom, if there were any meta posts about John's sexuality. Do you know of any? I'm still in the middle of season 2 so I'm a bit afraid of spoilers, but thought I'd ask.

Oh, yeah. Many. SGA is a big slash fandom, so the sexuality of the characters comes under a lot of discussion - especially with a lead character who "never sees it coming" when the pretty girl wants him.

Best place to check would be the memories for sga_newsletter, under meta discussion.

Wonderful, thank you!

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

Um, well. I'm a yaoi manga fan myself, so I can't say. :)

Thank you!


Ahh! I was *going* to say yaoi manga, but I kept remembering all those fanarts of Zelenka jumping in the air and it just seemed like the perfect pose for a fuku. Eh well.

I'm not much into comics myself, but maybe someone else can expand on this with other things like graphic novels and webcomics.