“Hey Hey JJJ, How Many Spiders Did Ya Slay Today?”

Just checking in briefly to muse upon a subject first raised by Adam Stephanides:

superhero comics don’t just implicitly say that we should place our trust in powerful heroes, they explicitly say that if you mistrust heroes [as characters like JJJ, the man who financed the construction of the Spider-Slayer robots, and Bolivar Trask, inventor of the Sentinels, do], you’re either a bad guy or being duped by the bad guys.

The Howling Curmudgeons have been thinking about JJJ a little bit too, and Mike Chary asks the same question I would–namely, is JJJ a villain? I’ve never thought of him that way. In a Silver Age Marvel story, the hero is a person who attempts to use their power responsibly, and the villain is a monster of lust bent upon abusing his/her power over others. But where are the folks whose intentions are fundamentally decent, but who nevertheless use their powers irresponsibly? That sounds like JJJ to me. Ditto Bolivar Trask. The publisher of a New York paper has a lot of influence, and the temptation to use it in ignorance–especially when one is thinking of winning the puiblic’s approbation–must be powerful indeed. JJJ and Charles Foster Kane have a lot more than a job in common. And here, again, we have another argument in favour of the secret i.d.–you have a much better chance of using your power judiciously if you know that no love can accrue to you through its application to the problems of the world.

There’s a lot more to say on this topic, of course, and I hope some of you folks will take up the baton! (I’m a little distracted right now–we saw Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 last night, and I’m still trying to figure out what I thought of it… Clearly, I sympathize with anyone who wants to get rid of Bush, but I don’t like political discourse which centers on “corruption”… Bush is bad ’cause his ideas are bad–not because he’s “corrupt”. All politicians are corrupt. It’s a given. In Canada, we may be about to take a massive step backward into right-wingery simply because the Liberals got caught with their hands in the till! What the Hell are these poll-respondents thinking: “Yeah, that Paul Martin abused our confidence, and all of a sudden, you know, I think gay people are bad, just like that nice Stephen Harper”? What the fuck? Anyway, I’m not gonna be much help to the Liberal party either, because I’ll be voting NDP on Monday, just like I always do…)

Good Afternoon Friends!


  1. Yeah, lumping Jameson in with the “bad guys” (not “villains,” iirc), as I did, was an expedient simplification. In the stories with him that I’ve read, he’s struck me as more of a comic antagonist than anything else (though I never encountered the “Spider Slayers”). But he clearly is unsympathetic: as I said, I’m not a regular reader, but hasn’t he been pushing his anti-Spiderman line long after there’s been ample evidence to the contrary?

    Re secret identities: but superheroes do “accrue love,” even if this love isn’t connected to their civilian names.


  2. some superheroes are beloved, it’s true, but that don’t help them get dates! On Jameson–you’re right Adam, he’s not a terribly sympathetic figure, but he is depicted as a “crusading editor”–and a lot of his crusades are laudable ones! (his pro-Civil Rights stance in the sixties for instance…)


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