Jack Bauer never went to the toilet.
Seriously, no bathroom breaks in 24 hours? That either suggests some crazy levels of will power or some sort of medical issue that he really ought to look into. Where am I going with this? Well, I’ll tell you – as far as I can remember Spider-man has never used the bathroom, nor has Batman, Hellboy or pretty much any character you would care to name.
Now, the reason for this is pretty obvious, who wants to read about someone getting up and brushing their teeth when you could read about some sort of adventure which may well involve punching someone in the face. Lets face it, life would be a lot easier if all problems could be solved so easily.
Now, I don’t think anybody realistically would want to read about the ablutions of their favourite characters but there have been a number of very well received comics and story lines that show life between the adventures in the super hero genre and, of course, a number of critically acclaimed ‘real life comics’. I’m not a fan of most myself but I can certainly understand the appeal. Common Grounds was one of the first superhero comics I read which wasn’t about super heroics and its something that has contributed to my expectations of plot lines in no small measure. The concept was this: Common Grounds was a Starbucksian chain of coffee houses and each branch was official and inviolate ‘neutral territory’. Seriously, Batman could walk in on the Joker enjoying a Bagel and a latte (decaff hopefully) and wouldn’t be able to a damn thing until half an hour after the Joker chose to leave the premises. Each issue focussed on the story of one of the customers (good and bad) and really just gave an insight into their lives. For example, Prometheus was cursed with super speed and immortality as punishment for stealing fire from the Gods and in one issue explained that a side effect of that curse forced him to celibate. One word by way of explanation: friction.
Personally I love stories like this that show you ‘real life’ in the fantastic and Common Grounds showed me how entertaining such stories could be. Powers is a much better known book that has a similar hook in that it’s pretty much a Superhero book that isn’t about Superheroes as much as it is about the people that basically have to clean up after and live in the same world as them. Part of the enduring popularity of Spider-Man as a character is also down to the fact that he’s a hero for the common man- a guy trying to hold down a job, a marriage (sometimes) and support his friends and family whilst doing as much for the world as he can with the power he’s been given. It’s pretty inspirational stuff but it does also impose the requirement to show you his life as Peter as much as it does him throwing villains around. One of the funniest things I’ve seen was him trying to eat a bowl of froot loops on the way to battle Carnage (it didn’t work well).
Anyway, I’m sure you guys have your own favourite stories giving an insight into some of your favourite characters? Why not take a minute to tell us about them? #putdownthebagel