The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posted by Matt on November 18, 2010

You know what archetype in fiction is really boring now? Serial killers.

A lot of creators just seem to think that making your antagonist a serial killer (or sometimes your protagonist) will automatically add weight. It’s especially bad in the case of antagonists, and ESPECIALLY in the case of antagonists in genre fiction. It doesn’t feel wrong for some crime fiction to still utilize them, although it’s still usually to the same effect: our bad guy is a BAD GUY holy shit (serial rapists are slowly replacing them, though). But in the case of something like a superhero comic? It feels overplayed and dull.

Every new villain now seems to be a serial killer, or almost one. Some older villains have been retroactively turned into serial killers. And you know what? In a genre that allows you to literally do anything, this just lacks scope. There as a time when mad scientists trying to steal all the diamonds in the city or take over space with robots was considered cliche. Now I want them back, because at least you didn’t automatically know what they were going to do.

That’s one of the problems I have with serial killers as antagonists: they are completely predictable. Let’s take a look at a prominent example: The Joker. The Joker started off as more of a traditional detective fiction killer, than drifted to become more or less a themed criminal, and today has basically gone through various phases of absolutely insanity (and overuse). It makes sense for the character to be made scary, because scary clowns are classic, and it’s a nice dynamic to have the good guy base his theme around something feared and his archenemy based on something benign. But while some may feel that The Joker is only scary if he’s a homicidal maniac who has caused more deaths than all the world wars combined, that’s not really true. In fact, what makes Joker scary is that he’s unpredictable. You never know if his gun is real, or whether he’ll rob all the party supplies stores in Gotham or fill the reservoir with poison. Only he gets his own jokes. Once you make him a crazy guy who will off you in seconds, he just loses what makes him frightening, and just turns him in another killer psycho in make up.

This is a problem that seems to have afflicted most of Batman’s villains, homogenizing them to the point of tedium. I was relieved to hear that the new Nolan Batman movie would not The Riddler, because I knew what direction they’d take him, being all dark and ‘realistic’ and all. The Riddler isn’t a villain I would see being a murderer at all; I think he works a lot better as a big-time thief. That may seem even smaller scale, but it’s good to pit the hero against different kinds of challenges, instead of just making them all essentially interchangeable, except maybe they use different kinds of knives or whatever.

All I’m asking for is a little variety in MOs, and therefor a little variety in the kinds of stories being told. Not everything needs to be gore porn, so you can stop with the serial killers now.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: