I was walking through HMV the other day and saw a rack with some comic books. One of them had an interesting cover and was titled Dark Avengers. I figured I would take a quick look and keep going since I was on my way to the grocery store and didn't have much time. I opened the comic and read the first page... and was utterly lost. 20 minutes later (entirely a guess on my part) I read the final panel, closed the comic, put it back on the shelf and wandered away in a daze. Somehow this comic had simply grabbed me like a face hugging alien and would not let me go.
This story is a story of crazy, destructive, often evil people doing mostly good deeds. It is a story about a man who was once a villain following the path of righteousness and justice and using every dirty trick and mind game at his disposal to assemble his group of miscreants and maniacs into a force for good. These are dark, troubled heroes in desperate times.
I *love* it.
Certainly this one comic isn't unique and the theme of tortured souls fighting for justice is a common one in modern comics as well as many other mediums. I suspect that I would have been as easily captivated by any number of similar stories on that same rack and just hit upon this one by accident. Like a crack addict trying to take just one small hit I couldn't put it away once I started. I have a problem you see... I am addicted to heroes. The world they live in has so many characteristics of a world I long to live in. In their world those who stand for good and justice can stand up to evildoers and defeat them, brave incredible dangers and emerge alive and live without compromise.
In the real world we are surrounded by compromise and uncertainty. The death penalty is foolish because it is more expensive than incarceration until death as well as being irreversible. Sometimes we find out that despite our best intentions justice was not done and incarceration can at least be ended. Our society spends incredible amounts of money supporting those who make bad life choices whether it be teenage pregnancy, homelessness, drug abuse, insolvency or crime we take care of people who have made decisions that are not good rather than just leaving them to their fate. We prevent vigilantism because vigilantes create cycles of violence and end up persecuting the wrong people; police bureaucracy and legal red tape is a mess but it is better than the alternative. In these ways we compromise. We mostly do not rely on Justice as a guiding principle but rather Greatest Happiness for All. I agree with these choices. People as a whole are better off by far when we strive to help people and improve their lives even when they make terrible mistakes.
Knowing that a world of compromise is best for all does not reduce my longing for a stark world of heroes and villians, right and wrong, justice and certainty. In this world you know who the evildoer is as he is dressed in a skintight costume, has the body of a greek god and an unmistakable aura of menace. There can be no compromise; the evildoer must be defeated. In our world it is best to eat local, recycle, call the police if you see something suspect and crush pixillated monsters on the internet. I hope. In their world it is best to stand up, put on a skintight costume, be incredibly ripped and utter lines like
"You will have to go through me first you madman!"
Compromise is best for all in a world of uncertainty. That will not stop my dreaming about a world of heroes.