As you read this, I’ll be standing somewhere on the Mall outside the Capitol in Washington, DC, watching Obama get sworn in.
Many of my favorite comics of the past few years have been ones that worked in political commentary, whether as a major theme (as I wrote about DMZ), or an underlying sense. Classic books like V for Vendetta and yes, Watchmen suddenly took on new relevance, and the best superhero movie probably ever, The Dark Knight, dealt directly with many of the questions of the Bush era.
So when I say political comics, I’m not talking about capitalizing on Obama’s popularity by sticking him on a Spider-Man variant cover (sorry, Marvel).
The economic situation is still a mess, and there’ll probably be plenty of bleakness to work into fiction over the next couple of years. Indeed, I suspect that for a bit, I’ll be worried more about my ability to cough up the cash for the comics than whether they’re still providing insights into the world we live in.
But if things do get better? What then? Do the dystopias cease to have meaning, or will they feel quaintly outdated like the Nazi metaphors often do in the Harry Potter books?
Superhero books in general often seem to have a sense of optimism that the more realistic books lack (of course there are exceptions–Batman rarely strikes me as uplifting, which may be why I like him). So I wonder if an improvement in society will actually benefit the superhero books that tend to offer a cheerier view of the world.
Still, though I remain optimistic about Obama, it’s not going to be hearts and flowers. The world will still be a big messy place, and there will be lots of situations that need the attention not just of reporters, but writers and artists.
If anything, I worry that an improvement in our own fortunes makes those things that much easier to ignore.