There comes a time when the characters are so stupid, you have to stop thinking, “Yikes, they are stupid” and start thinking, “I’m reading this; am I stupid?”
“It’s comics,” they will say to me when they see this. We expect our comics to be serious-as-a-dead-child stories about open-mouthed dum-dums who could still believe in the Tooth Fairy. It’s not a bug; it’s a feature. That “Joker fell in water; guess he’s dead” thing alone has been done so many times this most recent one was probably a “reference.” But maybe we have put so many spins on that classic story (from the forties, for eight year olds) that we have upped the ante past the maximum safe ante height. Any more, it’s just rubbing our noses in the mess we’ve made. Imagine the next poor sap who has to write a Joker story. For Batgirl.
Jim Mroczkowski is finding himself wondering whether or not taking certain genre conventions for granted is a good thing or not. My general rule of thumb is pretty much, when you start thinking about this kind of thing too much, it’s time to give yourself and the story a break for a bit; otherwise, you will start to realize that, no matter how good Superman is at hunching over, someone would realize that he’s really Clark Kent.
Of course, there are times when the stories involved make ignoring the ridiculousness of some of these things particularly difficult; any time a story focuses on the importance of the secret identity, for example – as Scott Snyder’s been doing over in Batman, the book that Mroczowski is talking about – there is that moment of “You’re just reminding us how ludicrous this actually is, you know that, right…?”