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09/28/2019 12:34:34 •••

Good for the most part, but there are some things I don't agree with

Linkara I ended up finding through his History of Power Rangers, and while I tried not to check out Atop the Fourth Wall originally, I gave it a look and I got hooked. The humor isn't pure slapstick or puns, some of it is wit, other is referential, and a lot of times the jokes are funny. Despite the tag line "Where Bad Comics Burn", when he rips into a bad series, it genuinely deserves the hate, but he'll also praise good stories both new and old. He can give detailed information on backgrounds, just enough to get you to look up the stuff more on your own, and with the confusing continuity of comics, its a big help when he can actually outline what happened and how. And while his storyline stuff isn't for everyone, I find it genuinely interesting enough.

However, one of my bigger problems is that, like everyone, he has opinions, and these opinions can make him biased in regards to reviewing certain characters and series. Namely, his beliefs in Anti Heroes. Because of how opinionated people can be and that I like to avoid causing issues, I'll just leave it at that. Aside from some opinions of his I disagree with, Linkara is an amazing reviewer you should definitely check out.

09/28/2019 00:00:00

See, I think this is absolutely a false equivalence? And also, I refer to SFDebris\' definitive video on the subject when I say, if Batman hands over the Joker to face justice, and society decides to put the Joker in a prison or asylum he will easily escape from, how the fuck is that on Batman and not society? Where do we get off demanding he bloody his hands so ours remain clean? And if you say, \"Well, then he should change society!\" is this not the point at which heroics become hero-worship? Saying that, above and beyond the huge amounts of money Bruce already dumps into trying to fix Gotham, what we need is a strongman to take away our freedom and rule us for our own good?

To say nothing of the obvious fact that even the Punisher and his ilk are absolutely powerless before the basic facts of business and genre that are the actual source of the problem here.

But, more-deeply... his overall point is supposed to be, yes. These are all unrealistic people. The Punisher is no less a 100% unrealistic wish fulfillment character than any of his comic book brethren. Arguably moreso, given he\'s using high explosives and high-powered rounds in population dense urban environments, and is somehow so good he never kills innocent people in the process.

But, while in these other cases, it\'s wish fulfillment of a good wish: the wish that you were powerful, and could use that power to help others. That you\'d make the world a better place. It wouldn\'t always be easy, or fun, or even pleasant. But it\'s you taking these things that you could use for selfish gratification and instead trying to use them for others.

And for the Frank Castles and Jasons of the world (especially the Jasons, really), it isn\'t. It\'s the adolescent fantasy of being able to engage in lots of guilt-free sex and violence without consequences.

You say that makes them relatable. Okay? I mean, sure, as someone currently undergoing anger management therapy, on some level I understand being very angry and wanting to lash out at the world.

But that old, old, tired, exhausted, nursing home argument that Superman isn\'t relatable exhausts me. In my small, meaningless life, I\'ve had to sigh and help people who don\'t appreciate it, even within my own family, and I\'ve had to grapple with whether or not volunteering at a food bank is actually helping anyone or just perpetuating a problem. That\'s not really so different.

And that\'s what irritates me most. People trying to argue that superheroes are \"unrealistic\" and \"unrelatable\" because they involve someone with extra-normal abilities using them to try to make the world a better place instead of just a means to sate their ids. It shows a bone-deep misanthropy with little basis in either psychology or philosophy. And really, buzz off.

It may sound like I\'m going off on you pretty hard. And I guess I am, a little? But this is less a review of Atop the Fourth Wall and more the same old tired anti-superhero ranting that the British New Wave has been exhausting us with for decades, and I don\'t exactly see a lot of new ideas in here to engage with.

09/28/2019 00:00:00

... Wow. You are really passionate about this. I was only speaking from my experience in that I've seen a lot of people have had similar opinions to what I said. I'm not really into comics too much, and this was more just me giving my feelings on his feelings on Anti Hero characters. Though to respond to some of your answers:

  • I've never watched SF Debris.
  • Arkham is a Carboard Prison. And Batman has captured the Joker so many times, and yet every time, the Joker always gets sent to Arkham, and he always breaks out. Every time the Joker breaks out, he kills more and more. If Batman has the power to finally stop the Joker once and for all when no one else can or will, but chooses not to bend his moral code, he is choosing to spare the Joker knowing full well he'll likely be out again in a few weeks. It's not even like he's averse to breaking his code anyway, since several times he's nearly broken it. In Infinite Crisis, he nearly broke it and attempted to shoot Alexander Luthor Jr. after he thought Nightwing was killed. In Final Crisis he nearly broke it when he felt he had no choice but to kill Darkseid possessing Dan Turpin.
  • I'm not saying we need Heroes to rule us. If I was, I'd be a supporter of Regime!Superman. I'm not. I agree with Batman in that Regime!Superman policing the world is too far, and I am of the similar opinion of Linkara's that Superman made the wrong choice in "The Quest for Peace".
  • The reason I said Frank and Jason were relatable wasn't because of the "sex and violence", its what made them who they are and what they ultimately did. Both have origins that people can relate to and see themselves doing, even if unrealistic. Wanting revenge for your families death and deciding that the Law is useless in helping. Wanting to kill the person who nearly killed you and won't stop killing.
  • And yeah, I'm very misanthropic. I won't deny that. But honestly, even superhero comics don't do much to dissuade that, precisely because of the Superhero Paradox. How often does what the Heroes do actually stick? As Linkara himself said, Superhero comics love Status Quo Is God. No matter how many times Superman saves the day, no matter how often Batman tries to stop the villains in Gotham, no matter how many Green Lanterns are made to join the Corp., there will always be more problems. Lex Luthor will always escape and try to get rid of Superman. The Joker will always escape and cause mayhem. The Red, Orange, and Yellow Lanterns will always be at odds with the Green Lanterns. The fight never ends.
  • It's probably why I like Anti Hero characters more and disagree with Linkara about them. They don't really have delusions of making the world a better place, not do they put themselves up as paragons to idealize. They simply follow basic human feelings: love, anger, sorrow, etc. and they let that drive them. Any good they do is simply a benefit of their goal. They more overtly suffer, they walk the line of morality, questioning if they've gone too far.
  • I don't agree with a story that tries to make it seem like there will be a happy ending even though it never comes. Superhero comics always try to frame their endings as if there's a happy ending. That no matter what, good will triumph and the future is always bright. But honestly, that idea is nothing more than a pipe dream. In my life, I've learned some things, and what I've learned is that even if there are humans who want to do good, most of humanity sucks, and the future is neither bright nor bleak. It just exists. We're slaves to our desires, and things are in a constant state of flux. There is no happily ever after, there will always be more things to do and evil to stop. So for superhero comics to constantly frame it as if things will get better when they never do, its just wrong.
  • And its not the fact that Superman is solely so helpful and kind that people thinks he's unrelatable, since I know several altruistic people like that irl. It's because he's effectively a God among Men. Any problem Superman has, he can reasonably end on his own, even after getting nerfed by Crisis On Infinite Earths. Unless magic or kryptonite is involved, Superman can and will end the fight himself. Even the thing that supposedly killed him, Doomsday, he was able to recover from and fight off. Even facing another Superman, or rather, Superboy Prime, he was able to overcome it. The only times I've found Superman to have a problem he can't overcome is when it involves someone else instead of him, such as Lois Lane nearly dying or him being unable to motivate Gotham during Batman No Mans Land.
    • Superman being a god amidst men is the entire point of his appearance in No Man's Land. He can't raise the spirits of the people of Gotham because they've had to suffer there for months after the government isolated them, and they see him as a god unable to relate to them. Superman is then forced to admit Batman is right in that they need to fix this themselves... only to then return disguised as a normal person thinking he'd do better help as a normal person. The entire point behind it was that the one thing Superman can't fix is human nature, something he can't relate too because he isn't human. Superman is kryptonian, and while he has the positives of humanity, altruism, love, compassion, he lacks a lot of the negatives due to being a paragon of virtue. While he does have anger and sorrow, he doesn't possess any of the other Seven Deadly Sins. So some people, myself included, find it hard to relate to Superman because he is a Paragon of Virtue.
I like Linkara's work. I just disagree with him on Anti Hero characters and how they cause his reviews to be biased. And I was giving my feelings on Anti Hero characters and why I disagreed with him.

09/28/2019 00:00:00

Well, trying to master a deep surge of anger at what sure feels like a high-horse sentiment of "I'm not really a fan of the material, and I only know about it by reputation and a cursory inspection, but I choose to have an opinion about it anyway!" I'll try to stay calm.

And that's not what happens. Batman, when the Joker does bad things, stops him. Then, he gives him to the cops, and the courts shut him up in Arkham, to rest up until he kills again.

How is that on Batman? Because he chooses not to give into nihilism, to assume that people are just like this and will never deal with the Joker? Or on society, for refusing to deal with the problem of the Joker according to the law, and then having the teremity to insist that Batman is the real problem for not taking on another burden he never asked for and bloodying his hands doing a job they have the power to do and refuse to?

After all, Frank Castle has had the chance to kill several of his nemeses over the years and let them walk away. Jigsaw, for instance. How does this make sense? Is the Punisher understood to be morally responsible for Jigsaw's actions, rather than the courts who put Jigsaw into a prison he will easily escape from?

And again, the real reason is because killing off major villains means no writer can ever use that villain ever again. To say nothing of the fact that such villains often ''seem'' to die at the end of story arcs, only to improbably survive later on. At a certain point, you're criticizing the Necessary Weasel, rather than the character, and may as well ask why, in kung fu movies, nobody tries just using guns.

...And, honestly, I never liked any of those dumb "Batman grabs a gun" moments, and find it easier to sweep them into the "this never happened" bin with that time it turned out Frank had actually been supernaturally empowering that first mob boss he killed by slaughtering his minions, or when all the heroes were openly racist during the Golden Age, but sure, fine, I guess technically he shot a space god one time.

And, really, if you're in favor of Batman being judge, jury, and executioner, being the sole arbiter of who lives and dies with no legal process? If you want a world where all superheroes use lethal force, a rogue military unfettered by the law? That's a distinction without a difference from the Regime. You can say, "Well, you can have the murderer without the totalitarianism," and okay, fine.

Can you though?

When Superman intervenes in wars far afield, saving innocent lives threatened by national squabbles, and does so using lethal force, killing their presidents and leaders until someone he approves of is in power... well, is he not the master of the world then?

Oh, but you only want it at a street level? Well, fine. What's shooting a couple of rapists and drug dealers actually going to do about the problem? It is not the severity of punishment, after all, that deters crime, but the certainty. If the system puts them in prisons that are poorly equipped for rehabilitation because of a culture that glorifies punishment over actually fixing the problem... well, again, how is that on the superhero?

This isn't just a question of anti-heroes with guns vs. traditional superheroes, it's a question of whether or not Jason Todd, crime lord engaging in a guilt-free power trip of murder and fucking right out of A Clockwork Orange is somehow morally superior to Batman, a guy who just wants to help a broken world as best as he can, just because Jason Todd is willing to murder a bunch of people who're making bad choices because people are awful, they cannot be improved, and the only law is the law of the jungle where men like him can force their will on the world, while Batman, though not as obviously as his friend, holds onto hope for the pitiful human race. That we can be better, get better, do better.

That's part of why I have at least one glowing review of The Dark Knight Trilogy here on this wiki. Because it understood that Batman's story isn't an endless status quo of punchable supervillains, but Gotham itself going from a grimy third-world slum to a shining city of tomorrow. Because, good isn't perfect... but just giving up, turning to hedonistic nihilism like these anti-heroes you're defending do, is rejecting that possibility.

That's where he, and I, are coming from.

...Also, SF Debris put this better and less confrontationally than I did in his video review of Superman Vs. the Elite, and now you probably won't want to watch it because I made a pill of myself complaining like this... sorry. Though, those guys're a pastiche of the Warren Ellis school of nihilistic anti-hero, rather than the Punisher or Todd.

Anyway. I actually think he's very fair to his anti-hero characters? He outright says he doesn't like them and why, but, when he does go over their work, he goes out of his way to try to say when the work disrespects them and how. I found his examination of that one Punisher angel book thing to be very, very even-handed, talking about what could have made it work, and why it ultimately didn't.

That's part of why I disagree too. I personally don't like blood and guts horror movies, but I don't say Chris Stuckmann has a "bias" towards those; I accept that's a difference in taste that will alter the way I listen to his opinion as a reviewer. And I often disagree with Jim Sterling about whether or not shit things are good because they're camp, or good things are bad because they're serious, but I don't think that means he has a "bias." That's just what he likes as a critic, man.

What I would say would be valid criticism would be, for instance, pointing out that both men tend to beat all the life out of bad gags, either by stretching them out past the point that all humor has been wrung from them, or by repeating the gag over and over until you hate it. In Linkara's case, I find he can sometimes be very picky and fussy over fairly minor details that don't affect the reading experience in the moment, or gets hung up on bold inflation in dialogue that's been part of the way comics work for longer than either of us have been alive.

09/28/2019 00:00:00

I admit bias may be too strong a word. And I am a fan of Comics, just no that big of one. I'm not going off of reputation or a cursory look. We'll have to overall agree to disagree though. While you seem to be the optimist, I find myself more on the pessimistic side. I wouldn't say I'm a nihilist, since I do see the value in trying, but if you keep trying over and over and nothing changes, then it seems better to try a different approach.

  • I'm not of the idea of superheroes acting as Judge, Jury, and Executioner, nor am I of the idea they should be allowed to do whatever they want. The reason I detest the Regime is because they don't do these things out of a sense of right and wrong, they do it because they only see their ideals as justice, and are delusional to the point of Sanity Slippage. Regime!Superman even killed Shazam for daring to suggest that he'd gone too far, and that in turn caused Flash to defect to Batman's side. The Regime were no longer heroes. They were He Who Fights Monsters.
  • I do believe however, that if the situation has no other options, I Did What I Had To Do is in full effect.
  • Darkseid was bringing forth the apocalypse in Final Crisis. The planet was under his control thanks to the anti life equation. Oa was incapable of reaching Earth. Apokolips was reaching the point where it was a risk to all life itself. So Batman Grabs A Gun. There was no time for Batman to do anything else. He had to act now, even if it meant breaking his vow one time and killing Darkseid's host, Dan Turpin, in the process. Even Linkara doesn't have an issue with the idea, just that the book didn't earn the use of it.
Linkara: Yeah, this is just... no. Look, if you're gonna do something like this, break the kind of huge ass thing that has been Batman's hatred of guns, you gotta have something leading into it. Sure, end of the world and all that, but the book hasn't properly framed that from Batman's perspective.
  • The Joker is a criminal more dangerous than most terrorist groups in the DC universe, with a body count reaching in the thousands. He has been sent to jail numerous times and they've even had people try to see if there was hope for reforming him. One of said people, Harleen Quinzel, ended up in an abusive relationship with him and became Harley Quinn, while every other person has died by his hand. He is too far gone for redemption. Arkham is a Cardboard Prison. The justice system has failed to keep him locked up, and he's escaped every time. Batman is well aware of the danger this man poses, as well as him being alive poses. While other villains like Clayface, Poisen Ivy, and even Harley can redeem themselves, the Joker can't, and the longer he's left alive, the more lives he can take. That's the argument Jason Todd gave Batman as to why he was angry Bruce didn't kill him. And he's right. Batman doesn't have to become JJE for every member of his rogue's gallery, nor does he need to become like Superman and his Regime. He just needs to break his vow once, and kill the Joker for the greater good. Heroes have killed villains before, whether because they couldn't save them, or because it was too dangerous to let them live. Why can't he do the same?
    • And again, the entire catalyst behind Injustice Gods Among Us was the Joker. He was bored with tormenting Batman, so he decided to try and torment someone else for fun: Superman. But this caused Superman to snap, and unlike Bruce, Clark killed the Joker not because he was too dangerous to live, but because the Joker ruined his life. He killed Jimmy, tricked Clark into killing Lois and his unborn child, and used a nuke to destroy Metropolis. All it took was one bad day for Clark before he snapped. That in lies the difference. If Batman had to do it, he wouldn't be abandoning his morals, he would only be breaking his vow once and never again, and it would be for the greater good. Superman doing it though, he only did it because he abandoned his morals, and because it was revenge.


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