persona power the person in the pamphlet?
March 7, 2005
By Avi Green
When people read comics, is a personality for the characters what
makes it work for them, or is only the entertainment value what's
Some people have argued about characters who they feel donít have a
personality, which doesnít mean they dislike them, but because of
the lack, they donít consider them to have much value and may not
consider them worth keeping around.
However, whether or not you like the characters, does a lack of
personality really keep anyone from enjoying the series, especially
if itís an action/adventure series where the idea is to enjoy seeing
the goodies whup the baddies every week or month?
If the overall theme is an adventure for your enjoyment and
escapism, then thatís why Iíd think it a very good idea not to let
any lack of persona get in the way of what enjoyment there is to
find there. That is after all what many of the big twoís series are
Some people slammed Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, the
Flash and Green Lantern of the Silver Age, respectively, for not
having any serious personality in the past. But thatís where I have
to ask: surely even Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman didnít lack
personality as well?
So it puzzles me as to how these leading three superheroes at DC
never seem to have taken the kind of flak that Barry and Hal did.
Because their popularity somehow outshone theirs? How indeed did
they manage to evade whatever Barry and Hal didnít?
But for anyone who thinks that fixing such a possible flaw is the
answer, be wary, that sometimes, doing that with characters who may
not have one, or without a true expert, can have very clumsy
Back in the late 1960ís, DC, possibly in an early attempt to imitate
Marvel, tried to do something like that with Hal Jordan, when they
broke him and Carol Ferris up in the 49th issue of Green Lantern
volume 2, when she got engaged to another pilot around the company,
and he took it very wimpily. He went to a bar with piloting partner
Tom ďPiefaceĒ Kalmaku to drown out his sorrows over having thought
to propose to Carol too late, and acted like a real wimp, acting as
if it were his being Green Lantern and sometimes staying away from
Coast City for long periods that was the problem. Quite the
opposite, it was the fact that he was taking the news so badly that
was, acting like a lovesick clod. He then started wandering from job
to job, from being a pilot to an insurance sales adjustor, and worst
of all, when he discovered that two or three of the new women he met
were in love with his alter ego, including an alien girl, this had
the effect of making him want to just quit his job and not make any
attempt to seriously try and win them over.
Thank heaven and Denny OíNeil for stepping in and taking some steps
to fix that part, by making Hal bolder again even when it came to
dating, and in 1971, he revealed his secret ID to Carol too! But you
see, that may have been an early attempt to follow the Marvel
example of soap-opera storylines, when here, most of their writers
at the time didnít have the proper experience to know how to write
In any case, even Marvel wasnít immune to attempts to imitate the
kind of lunacy and hijinks that DC specialized in during the Silver
Age (they had also done so during the Golden Age too, but more so
during the Silver one) Ė in 1971, Peter Parker ended up growing
several extra arms, in a possible attempt to imitate said lunacy
from DC. But not only was it a disaster in storytelling, it was also
done during a time when DC had all but moved away from such ideas,
as they worked to become more serious in their approaches to
storytelling, certainly in books like what OíNeil worked on at the
time, including Batman and Green Lantern.
But aside from that, why is it so much more important to have
personality than entertainment?
Thatís exactly the reason why I personally have thought it a better
idea not to complain about whether or not the book I read is lacking
in personality for the characters. If the main theme is indeed to
enjoy the action, then in all due honesty, why let the lack of
personality ruin the enjoyment for one?
Not for me it wonít.
Of course, Barry and Hal arenít alone in the
argument about personalities. Even Reed Richards of the Fantastic
Four over at Marvel was often thought to not have a really in depth
persona for many years, but that didnít detract from my enjoyment of
the FF either. And then, just look at how various writers attempted,
rightly or wrongly, to repair that rather petty flaw of not having
personality in Reed, and it goes without saying that they didnít get
very far in making an accomplishment with it. There are other
characters, major and minor both, at Marvel whose persona might not
amount to much, but which doesnít mean they arenít likable
The same goes for Barry and Hal.
So if you ask me, letís put aside all this nonsense about
personalities and just enjoy what mainly matters in DC and Marvel
comics: the fun and adventure. If we let the lack of those oh-so
precious personalities get the better of us, weíll only be depriving
ourselves of the best reason to be reading comic books to begin
And what might that be? Simple. Escapism, entertainment and fun.
Copyright 2005 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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