Hal Jordan. The Scarlet Witch. Magenta. Daredevil. Arsenal. Bloodstone. Quicksilver. The Sentry. Henry Pym. Mento.
Well, considering how everything turned out there, that's a sensitive and supportive code name, isn't it?
There's a fine line between making a mainstream superhero tragically interesting and both depressingly dull and off-putting, and it really isn't quantum mechanics working out where that line should be drawn, if uncontentious commercial success is the motivation: the fun to be gained by a reader through imagining themselves as that superhero shouldn't be outweighed by the unease and unhappiness inspired by any such act of wishful association. And, quite obviously, any hint of a serious and recurrent mental disability in the personality of a super-person is going to run the risk of acting as a deterrent to the daydreamer considering engaging with their adventures in a traditional superhero narrative. Where Henry Pym is concerned, for example, the cost-benefit analysis here is always going to count against him unless the stories he's placed in and the way his character is defined are completely changed. After all, take any of his costumed identities and he inevitably comes over as under-engaging even before his psychological problems are considered. Imagining being Giant-Man, for example is to
summon up an experience which would undoubtedly thrill the first time, but after that the excitement fades. Giant-Man grows tall. That's what he does. And when he does it, he's hemmed in by buildings, curtailed by wires, bent double to see whoever he's fighting, and unable to move around for the certainty of destroying everything beneath his feet including his fellow citizens. And it's somewhat the same process with engaging with Ant-Man, except that there the extra complications of being unable to walk across a floor without a pack of little sandwiches, two pints of water and a free afternoon come into play. (And that's not even considering the exciting privilege of being able to ride on flying ants.) And Yellowjacket? Well, Yellowjacket's just a second-rank Spider-Man, with none of the charm and some exceptionally daft elongated shoulder pads that are sometimes supposed to function as wings.
And Henry Pym as the Wasp? Oh, dear.
And then, if we might transfer our attention to the debit column of our role-fantasising, well, Pym's a frequently-disturbed ex-schizophrenic, subject to pretty much every serious psychological problem from despair to wife-beating-inspiring stress disorders. He can stand as tall, tall, tall as a skyscraper, but he can't keep from breaking down, and even when he's apparently sane, he's self-regarding and shiny-silver-robot-snogging odd.
If ever the odds were against a superhero earning marquee-headlining status, that superhero was whichever one Henry Pym was trying to be at the time.
II. It's not simply that it'd be a depressing and alienating business imagining ourselves being Henry Pym as he's been portrayed. It's also the awareness on the reader's part that Pym's possession of super-powers is inevitably tied up with the social stigma of being the distrusted and disturbed superhero, the one who's commonly despised as an unheroic whiner, in addition to being labelled as one of those mad, bad and dangerous to know people.
The character's broken where anything other than conflict-inspiring second-string roles are concerned. Or at least it is as long as it's a standard-issue superhero the reader is looking for.
Though if a publisher was looking to show respect to the psychological problems faced by so many hundreds of millions of people world-wide, then perhaps a superhero who wasn't so "standard-issue", who was shown in a sympathetic and accurate light facing problems which others might define as "odd" and "off-putting", would be a very good idea indeed.
And a really interesting one too.
III. There are, as we've discussed, mentally disordered superheroes who've been designed by purpose or chance to display mental disorders which enhance rather than diminish their appeal. Wolverine, for example, may be psychotic, but in his case that seems to mean that he's as disciplined and moral as any sane individual except for the fact that he gets to slice up his enemies whenever his writers want him to while - and this is the key point - feeling noble when he does so and noble when he chooses not to! How wonderful a trick that is, to have an uncontrollable killer who isn't uncontrollable, to possess as a property a superhero who's admirable enough for kiddie's comics and yet so tortured that he can blood'n'guts his way across the Marvel Universe whenever it seems thrilling and angsty.
But other characters who aren't possessed of such a fortunate madness are tipping over that fine line mentioned above, and this is almost unavoidable, for reasons we've discussed before. For if the label of a serious mental disorder has been stuck to them in the past, it will quite likely continue to afflict how they're presented today. Daredevil, for example, is currently so "driven" that he appears to have quite lost his sense of what's moral under the rule of law and what's very much not, which for a superhero really does involve straying beyond an extreme of acceptable behaviour. Inevitably, since Matt Murdock has already spent decades collapsing into the kind of depression and mania which inspires the digging up of the corpses of dead ex-girlfriends, his past is now totally interpreted in the light of mental insecurity and disorder and his adventures are now utterly directed by the omnipresence in each writer's mind of this. And there's no escape for Matt Murdock as a character now. The fresh start of a sane life that Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli lent him a quarter of a century ago is now so much of an anomaly that it reads like a "What-If" story. For almost immediately after Mr Miller had written Murdock into a happy state and a stable role protecting Hell's Kitchen, Daredevil was back wandering the borderlands between being a functioning superhero and a candidate for care outside the community. And the approach to Daredevil since then has nearly always been to focus on the version of a broken Matt Murdock which appeared at the beginning of "Born Again" rather than the healed and redeemed man at the book's end
And so Daredevil's behaviour has got worse and worse, as has his state of mind, and the process shows no signs of slowing, let alone reversing. And the cost/benefit wish-fulfillment analysis, or CBWF because the very idea of an acronym for that makes me laugh out loud, is beginning to get difficult to maintain. It's getting harder to care for Daredevil, let alone want to be imagining experiencing his life on the level of wish-fulfillment. (Whose dreams are that grubby and conditional?) Daredevil's super-senses, his acrobatic skills, his bed-every-beautiful-woman super-power, and his street-level thug-beating appeal remains, to a degree. But there's that awful and despairing madness to take into account.
I. But don't worry. The superhero with a serious mental disorder nearly always ends her or his trials in redemption. True, that redemption is usually followed by more periods of greater disorder, and more trials, and then yet more redemption, and eventually all that will remain is the fact that screwing up will be their defining characteristic, but the big fights to save their souls through, er, big fights will reoccur like Stargate re-runs on Sky-UK TV. For the fact is that these psychologically-wounded superheroes are usually permitted to temporarily get better for long enough to punch out a super-villain or two, and thereby prove that they're not so disordered any more.
Until they become disordered again. And so on.
II. There are two well-worn paths to superhero redemption for those whose mental problems have that trace of a real-world and challenging disorder which would make the thought of possessing it disturbing to the reader of superheroes.
The first is the straight-forward and traditional way of how the "disturbed" super-person can prove that they're fine, and, indeed, as good as any other benevolent super-person, and that's by pulling on the costume once more, charging up the Kirby Krackles and thrashing around a fearsome super-villain that nobody else can defeat. What, after all, could signify super-heroic virtue - as well as sanity - better than dressing up in spandex and knocking seven bells out of another person, who's also wearing a costume, but who's bad and in need of punching too?
The second method to the redemption of the mentally disordered superhero is to never have been mentally disordered at all. This is a more difficult narrative strategy to pull off, because lots of readers will probably have noticed how one of their superheroes had been shown going mad. Even more so, that character will almost certainly have been shown doing some very bad things indeed of just checking into a clinic for some treatment and support. (*1) It's hard for a readership that's invested a fair degree of fan-angst in watching a character change so catastrophically from sane to insane, from world-saving hero into crazy dangerous mad-person, to suddenly accept that the mental disorder had never been there in the first place. After all, it was tough enough watching Hal Jordan psychologically implode literally between the pages of a single comic book, from a venerated and experienced space-cop into a mass murderer of epic proportions. But then to be told that he was never mad in the first place because something else had made him do it does threaten to make a mockery of all the original upset. Still, a remarkably focused and determined narrative operation to remove the taint of comic-book madness from a superhero can be pulled off, as Geoff Johns did with his favourite Green lantern. And if scrubbing out that stain is tough work, its removal does return the character concerned to something other than the madness/redemption/madness/redemption cycle.
And anyway, many readers were so pleased to see Hal Jordan returned from his unconvincing dispositional change from sane to insane that they went happily along for the ride, even accepting that it was the Parallax monster who'd done all those terrible things while in control of Hal's mind and body rather than Mr Jordan himself. Still, even though he'd apparently never been mentally disordered in the first place, it was still obligatory for Hal to go through the first path to redemption too, proving that he'd not been weak to surrender to the alien madness-causing thing, and showing that, yes, he could be trusted to fight alien warlords and not wipe out great numbers of his colleagues again.
Which of course he'd never technically done in the first place.
It's not enough to be free of the label of mental disorder, for even other super-characters who really should know better seem to believe those pernicious labels have justifiably stuck. No, in order to prove a superheroes sanity and virtue, folks have got to get punched too.
*1 - Of course, the vast majority of the mentally disordered pose no danger to anybody, except on occasion in some conditions to themselves. But this again is not a commonly grasped fact, especially in the superhero narrative, where psychological problems tend to indicate a failure of the part of a superhero in fulfilling their duty, or a compulsion to become a super-villain.
III: Hasn't this struck more of the creators and consumers of superhero books as being a rather insulting and medieval attitude to mental illness? That the victim and survivor of terrible circumstances quite beyond their control should have to prove themselves either through public displays of violence, or a professional absolution from the taint of mental disorder?
Is what used to be known as "mental illness" so unacceptable and so shameful still that the only choice for the afflicted superhero is to be better than everyone else or proven never to have been vulnerable to "real" disorder at all?
After all, even Superman suffered his psychological crisis in the Nineties, after feeling compelled to execute some alternate-universe Kryptonians, and he was returned to mental health, even though it seems the process of that was less than thrilling to some readers. Why is such an option so often ignored today when the big red "S" has undergone it and not lost his lustre?
IV: Of course, the superhero narrative functions symbolically. We know this. But the stories of the MU and the DCU still manage to quite appropriately show their respects to serious physical illnesses which are so challenging and dangerous to those that suffer them. Cancer, Leukaemia, AIDS, and a host of other blameless and appalling diseases are never represented as being conditions which must be overcome with a cape, an energy blast, and perhaps the revelation that that cancer had never been there all along.
And those who survive these physical conditions are never thought to be blameworthy for the condition which has afflicted them so awfully. Yet Henry Pym is still haunted as a character by the stigma of having lashed out and fiercely swatted away his wife while undergoing a complete "mental collapse". And while the act of a man beating a woman is patently abhorrent, a man who commits a single if appalling act of violence while psychologically disintegrating seems to me to be an ill person rather an evil one.
Or is it always and utterly the act and not the actor that we judge when determining guilt?
VI: For if Henry Pym is simply a weak man, or even an unpleasantly self-involved one, and thereby nothing but a"wife-beater", then we're back in the middle ages, where the sufferer was responsible for their own suffering, where victims were all considered sinners and where the psychologically self-brutalised were thought of as immoral brutes. Or is it that Dr Pym is an embodiment of a more modern form of prejudicial "diagnosis", the man who became mentally disordered because he was too weak, because he didn't try hard enough to stay sane, the man who was neither good enough nor strong enough to resist madness?
Which is pretty much all the same thing, actually. Both Medieval sin and modern weakness have an equal validity when evaluating mental disorder, which is to say, none at all. They're both absolutely appalling approaches to the question of representing mental disorder in the 21st century.
VII. The truth is that repeatedly representing mental disorder in such a light is no more helpful, or moral, or believable, than taking a character who's just survived chemotherapy and insisting that she smokes three packs a day in order to prove her bravery.
Which would be worse than insane where the character is concerned, for it would be cruel to the people reading the comic too, and especially to all of those who are survivors of the disease itself.
I: Henry Pym, as we've discussed, has never been convincingly diagnosed, for the simple reason that his various disorders have been so broadly and inaccurately drawn that a diagnosis that covers all his symptoms would be so broad as to be meaningless. (Well, he's "Aspergic-manic-depressive-stress-traumatised-chemically-imbalanced-multiple-personalitied-and-really-not-well-ish", isn't he?) But those stories of his disintegrations have included a great many explicitly represented symptoms;
- Roy Thomas gave Hank "king-sized schizophrenia" caused at least in substantial part through an accidentally gas-based drug overdose.
- Jim Shooter described a "mental collapse" and what appeared to be a pronounced stress disorder founded in part on an excessive inferiority complex
- Steve Engelhart portrayed Hank as suffering a major depressive disorder, with the character doing more than merely flirt with the idea of suicide
- Kurt Busiek had Hank suffering stress, depression and a strange and unique comic-book take on dissociative identity disorder too.
Being a superhero helps break him, but being a superhero is the only thing that anyone can lastingly think to do with him either.
II. Being a superhero isn't good for Hank Pym. (*2) Any competent counsellor, let alone psychiatrist, would've immediately identified this fact and advised him to right-this-moment hang up his spandex and his growth pills and his shiny booties. The stressors of functioning in the challenging and unregulated environment of super-heroing has laid low our boy every time. It places responsibilities and expectations upon Pym that he feels he can't fulfil unless he works himself into the ground. It provides excessive stressors which his psychology could probably bear in a typical environment, but which, through no choice or fault of his own, he struggles to cope with when fighting Kang or preparing for the possibility of one day doing so. Being out with the Avengers or the Defenders or whoever places him into situations which he's not capable of controlling or bearing, and produces challenges which his character isn't adapted to cope with.
Well, I think that would describe just about each and every one of us too. I suspect that Pym's mental state is one that we'd share if we were in the cape'n'costume brigade after the fourth multi-dimensional crisis of the month. (There's an irony in the fact that Pym's response to being superheroic is much closer to what a "real" persons would be than is often considered.)
Still, he's a brilliant scientist, a caring colleague, and a brave man. Indeed, I'd go as far as to say that he's braver than most of his super-powered colleagues, because the whole business of trying to be a superhero in a superhero world has defeated him time and time again, but he keeps trying, and he really ought to be allowed to stop.
*2 - Steve Engelhart seemed to grasp this in West-Coast Avengers, and then had Pym become a superhero again, though without a costume, as if the absence of the spandex would make the stressors disappear. Before him, Roger Stern had understood the issues completely and presented a Henry Pym abandoning his superhero role despite Captain America's desire for him to continue, saying: "Trying to play super hero was the biggest mistake I ever made with my life!"
I. I've a great deal of time for Dan Slott where his work on Hank Pym is concerned. (In fact, I've a great respect for Mr Slott's work in general.) He's fond of Dr Pym and he's worked hard to find him a role of some importance as a superhero in the Marvel Universe. But a second glance at the first few issues of Mr Slott's run on "Mighty Avengers" show that the standard-model "redeem-the-mentally-disordered-superhero-through-super-hero-ing" narrative is still being used, despite the best intentions of Mr Slott to treat Pym with some greater measure of kindness.
II. When the reader first encounters Dr Pym in "Mighty Avengers", he's locked himself away in a spectacular and secret laboratory, and he's not pleased to see the super-people who've come to ask for his help. In fact, he's plain unwelcoming. And if those facts on their own aren't a sign that Pym's back into a bad place, he's created yet another superhero identity, which is often a foreboding sign with the unstable Doctor, and he's named his new new alter-ego after his dead ex-wife too.
And then there's a quite untypical display of self-regarding mania from Pym, as a result of displaying all the above concerns, should have anybody who understands anything about mental health thinking about the welfare of their obviously-sick colleague;
"I'm in the middle of some extremely important work. It could change the very nature of a universe. Not our universe, mind you, but that's still very impressive."
Now, the Bendis-era has had Dr Pym portrayed as a selfish, self-regarding beater of women, but this is way beyond even that derogatory reading of the character. This has taken a self-involved man and puffed him up with an astonishing measure of self-importance and even, yep, mania. (The arrogance on the character's face as he says all of the above is quite chilling.) And taken along with Pym's unpleasantness, his desire to be isolated from human beings, his adoption of a new identity, his association of his own superhero guise with that of his dead wife's, shouldn't someone have cared a little more?
Look, Avengers-folks; Pym's telling everyone how brilliant he is and he's thoroughly unpleasant while doing so, and he's living in a secret home he's designed to allow him to hide away in from the world. He's sharing his safe hidden hidey-hole with a female robot who carries his dead ex-wife's "brain patterns", and he's taken Janet Van Dyne's code-name and her powers for his own. Isn't he rather obviously in need of help so that he doesn't seriously relapse into whatever of his previous problems, or combination of them, is threatening here?
For since continuity is held to be so important, and since this continuity and a respect for extreme and inconsistent dispositional change has frozen Pym into this role of the mentally dysfunctional hero, shouldn't respect for continuity also mean that care for the mentally disordered, whether or not they're recovered or they're relapsing, should be a prominent concern in the text?
III. His fellow Avengers ought never to have even considered pressurising a disturbed Hank Pym to lead them into an end-of-the-world brawl without having made some provision for medical support. (In fact, regardless of his apparent state of mind, they ought to have left him alone or provided care for him, giving his propensity for relapsing under pressure.) The very fact of his obvious mental difficulties combined with his psychological history should have had at least Jarvis realising that help was going to be needed, if it wasn't already. And if nobody but Pym could go once more into the breach, dear friends, then some psychological professionals should have gone with him. That needn't have undermined his heroism. Quite the opposite, actually, because it could have very effectively illustrated how brave, and indeed important, Pym is. The only way to establish heroism isn't to show the gritting the of the teeth, the girding of the loins and the wearing of the cowl. And Doc Sansom and Night Nurse assisting Henry, laying into Hercules and USAgent for their ignorance, and Stark for his cruelty, would have made for a fascinating dynamic in the book.
It's not that folks don't inevitably fail to recover from psychological incapacity, absolutely not. And it's not that Pym needs his hand held in all situations at all times. But it is that he shouldn't be going into the very environments and performing the very roles which have most exacerbated his problems in the past, and especially not when he's showing signs of distress. That's a bad message to send out to the readers of comic books, that those with mental disorders need to prove themselves by being someone else rather than themselves, that they need to be fulfilling dysfuctional expectations rather than learning how to be what they are and how to contribute in the light of that.
Dr Pym is a brilliant back-room boy, and the backroom gals and guys are often, it should be remembered, the women and men who turn the course of wars. There would be nothing shameful in Pym serving the cause in a way that allowed him to escape triggering the stress-fractures of his mind.
IV: Dan Slott's tale of Pym's partial redemption follows the typical pattern which is outlined above. The odds are against him, the danger is extreme, but the disordered man proves himself to be a superhero simply by acting as a superhero does.
But there are moments in the story which, while quite appropriate in an ordinary superhero tale, strike a very ugly note indeed in the context of Pym's history, and which make many of the Avengers seem quite repellent. For example, we might expect Hercules to be insensitive and unhelpful, so it's possible to understand him declaring to Pym that "You're a founding Avenger. Now act like one!", though surely somebody else there might have noticed that Henry needed support and encouragement rather than contempt and hectoring. And perhaps Hercules's decision to abandon Pym and, with the notoriously hard-hearted USAgent, follow Iron Man's lead, can be seen as a reflection on those character's personalities rather that Hank's. But the fact of how Tony Stark responds to Pym illustrates how this tale is actually one about the Avenger's stupidity and cruelty, about their ignorance of and disinterest in the mental health of their colleague. For Stark is a man who's twice succumbed to alcoholism, and the second time he did so, it happened despite him being in full position of all the information about how that illness operates. Iron Man knows what a psychological disorder is and he
knows how it can take and profoundly damage a person despite their very best efforts. He knows that individuals who suffer such disorder aren't to be blamed or held Medievally culpable for their actions. He's been at the bottom himself, he's hurt people, and, let's be honest, there was nothing but luck between the alcoholic Tony and mass murder, given his habit of driving drunk while in possession of a super-powered armoured suit.
Tony Stark's been there. He ought to know, and care.
But he doesn't. "I'm sorry, Yellowjacket, but we don't have time to deal with all of your baggage." he declares with the maximum measure of dismissive disdain when Pym attempts to help him. And later, when Henry Pym really has saved the day, Stark's response is repellent: "Don't screw up!"
That's all he says as he flies away. "Don't Screw up!". Not "Well done." or "I'll help whenever I can." or even "Thank you for saving the entire world."
If the function of Tony Stark's alcoholism, as we discussed before, is to humanise the character, the effect of Mr Slott's script is to establish him despite all that as a utterly despicable arse.
V: And for heaven's sake, let's not discuss Reed Richards and his spectacularly ignorant and cruel way of treating Pym later in the pages of "Mighty Avengers". These are brightest men in the MU? They know pretty much everything?
Everything except compassion for its own sake, and mental disorders in particular.
VI: The habit that writers have of creating conflict for the sake of the dynamics it offers a story can be quite nauseating when it leads to such unpleasant and out-of-character behaviour.
For one thing, the Reed Richards shown to us previously by Mark Waid, who was bent double by the weight of the guilt he'd cursed himself to for having caused his colleagues to become the "Fantastic Four", simply wouldn't judge another so harshly. Not when this most conscionable man was still bearing the responsibility for the death of Bill Foster. That makes no sense at all. For either these characters are psychologically consistent or they're nothing at all, and I for one would rather believe that the folks I'm reading about today pay some feasible relationship to their past fictional selves.
No-one would deny that comic-books have a responsibility to engage responsibly with issues of sex and gender. Nobody would reject the premise that matters of race should be dealt with respectfully in the pages of the superhero tale. (Indeed when they're not, as in the virtual wiping out of a generation of multi-cultural heroes at DC, there's an appropriate response from a substantial number of readers.) But the treatment of superheroes with conditions redolent of those psychological disorders seen as frighteneing and disturbing in the real-world can be, albeit entirely unwittingly, extremely problematical. In the case of Henry Pym, and regardless of whether his story in "Mighty Avengers" can be read to show him as disturbed or not, he should always be presented in the light of an awareness of what his psychological problems have been, and in a way that reflects how someone with those problems should be treated. (The first step, of course, is to clearly define those problems.) And if there's a possibility of a script seeming to be dismissive of the responsibility to be supportive and respectful of those who've survived such disorder as we've been discussing, then the script also needs to compensate for this by putting forward a more positive view of the situation too.
It's not that Dan Slott or any of his colleagues are consciously meaning to portray some issues relating to mental disorder in the light of a terribly old-fashioned and often counter-productive narrative tradition. (I'll always read a Dan Slott book. I thoroughly enjoy his work.) It's that the various traditions of the superhero tale and the habits of superhero creators and fans have meant this substantial blind spot has developed over decades, and no good can come from that.
Or to put it another way: if a reader is suffering from anxiety, or has undergone a schizophrenic incident, as a number of teenagers in particular do, what might they learn about their situation from the superhero comic? Do they learn that their condition must be ignored, that it's shameful or a mark of weakness, that it must be denied through will and extremes of physical daring, that they're on their own until they prove themselves to be as "good" as the best of the "normal", and super-normal, folks, or worse, that they'll never be well or free of stigma?
For it's not just that extreme dispositional change involving serious psychological problems to superheroes creates endless problems for the characters as time progresses. It's also that the message being sent out here, about bravery and suffering, responsibility and blame, isn't an accurate, helpful or fair one. I'm certainly not suggesting that the solution is to produce a simple-minded set of happy survivors of disorders being loved by their communities and supported by trained professionals, anymore than the solution to the problem of race in comics is to make every black character a hero and a take on MLK too.
But we could all do better here. For once those labels are applied to a character, it's the responsibility of the creative teams to respect wider issues than simply those of what makes a superhero tale more supposedly thrilling, just as it is their responsibility to do so where issues of sex, and race, and gender, and a host of other social issues, are concerned.
And the Sentry? Oh, don't get me started on The Sentry. For a man with so many thousands of friends, he didn't seem to know a single competent psychiatrist to help him on any consistent and productive basis. (Or was that covered in a story while I was hiding away from another daft Sentry tale?) What a lonely life he had, and what a futile message his existence sent out: not only can't mental disorder be cured, but it can't even be treated. In fact, even the insane superheroes can't even be trusted to stay safely in whatever secure accomodation we leave them in, whether it's a prison of their own mind or something more material in Avengers Tower.
And those messages are the ones that the Sentry's life and death sent out, because no character of equal prominence to the Sentry since that character's invention has made the opposite journey, from hopelessness to hope, to indicate any other more inspiring possibility at all.
These mad people. They're going to get you, you know, one way or another, and there's really only one solution.
But it's not clever, and it's not funny. It's actually rather .... well, upsetting actually.
We should all be doing better than this by now. Creators shouldn't be writing this stuff, and readers shouldn't be buying it either. We should all simply know better. And though in the very near future, these stories are undoubtedly going to be as embarressing as, for example, Ebony in The Spirit, and as cringeworthy as "adorable" and marriage-crazy Janet Van Dyne tricking the schizoid Henry Pym across the altar, in today's world they're far more worrying than that.
Or, as Mr Terrific would have said: "Fair Play".
I'm sure I've expressed myself badly here, and that I've used terminology in an awkward way. It's not been my intention to offend anyone, let alone Mr Slott, who was never meant to be getting the blame for what's an utterly common problem. Do shoot me down for my screw-ups and I'll amend the above or sign up a relevant comment. And there were so many other characters to discuss, from Morrison's "Doom Patrol" to the Hulk and onwards. But there just wasn't time, and I fear this wasn't such a well-expressed piece anyway to justify fourth or fifth chapters. Ah, well. I'd like the opportunity to write about the above situation with the super-villain in mind, so perhaps that'll be up for your consideration at some time in the future. Thanks for reading. TooBusyThinkingAboutMyComics will be back in a few days time with a piece or two on Mark Millar and The Fantastic Four, and probably Wolverine too, long promised in the comment boxes. It would be a genuine privilege to see you there.