By Beau Smith

Super Heroes, capes, tights, masks and secret identities. In our current times, there’s one of the above that’s missing in comics.

Secret identities.

If you take the time and really pay attention to your mainstream super hero books, like me, you’ll wonder why they bother anymore. Part of what made stories compelling was the fact that the hero had to not only save the universe, but juggle their dual lives as well.

What happened to that?

In good storytelling you had to know Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne to care about what happened to Spider-Man, Daredevil, Superman and Batman. I think the publishers/editors/writers take for granted that everyone already knows all about the hero’s secret identity, supporting cast and reasons why they became a super hero. I think some of the writers are lazy in the fact it’s just easier to write about the super side of the hero. They no longer have to interweave the character through sub-plots, non-powered supporting cast, new love interests and family.

As of late the only supporting cast end up being other costumed heroes. Sub-plots have been replaced with “the next big event.” Love interests have been isolated to only other super powered beings. Family has taken the biggest hit of all. Marriage means death, death of the spouse or death of sales. The children of a hero are either killed off or turned into some raging, ADD, trauma nut case villain that only lives to kill their parents. In the case of marriage, if they don’t kill off the spouse then instead of doing something realistic like divorce, the hero simply makes a deal with a devil-wannabe and POOF! It’s all over.

I’d like to see Batman become more interesting by having to be Bruce Wayne now and then. Part of the reason that sales of Wonder Woman and Aquaman comics have never been as iconic as their names is because no one really knows the other side of Arthur Curry or Diana Prince. Remember when Matt Murdock’s life as a lawyer was the actual start point of the story’s adventure?

Remember when great characters were debuted and kicked off in monthly flagship books? If not, let me toss out a few names for you: The Silver Surfer, The Inhumans, The Punisher, The Falcon, and how about Wolverine? The same goes for supporting characters. Where’s the new J. Jonah Jameson, Alfred, Rick Jones, Foggy Nelson and, dare I say…Snapper Carr?

For many decades Batman’s sidekick, Robin was one of the most boring, mocked and disliked characters in comics. It wasn’t until writers Denny O’Neil and Chuck Dixon turned the character completely around with an interesting personal life outside the mask and shorts before he rose to match his legendary name and history.

Come on, even the the Thunder God, Thor had a major personal life when he was Dr. Don Blake. It’s not a matter of how are you gonna keep the readers down on the farm after they’ve seen the bright lights of Paris, It’s a matter of giving the readers their $3.99 cover price worth with more layers and more depth.

Do me a favor, really think about the person underneath the mask. Is your favorite hero swimming in the shallow end of the pool or the deep end? After all, you’re the one paying almost $4.00 per book.

Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: The Phantom #11
Gold Key Comics.

When I was a kid, I could always count on Gold Key Comics to have the very best painted covers. Long before Alex Ross was a paint blotch in his daddy’s eye, incredible, unsung painters were brushing very manly covers on canvas for Gold Key. Covers like this one didn’t need word balloons. Action always spoke louder than words.

Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Sarah Lancaster

You see her every week on the hit NBC show Chuck. She plays Ellie, Chuck’s sister. She’s even hotter than the female lead on the show, who is super hot herself. This show gives you a double slam dunk. For someone so young, Sarah Lancaster has quite the long resume – and the legs to match) She started out early in her career on Saved By the Bell and has since gone on to roles in Dawson’s Creek, Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch, That ’70s Show and CSI. She hails from the heartland of Kansas and you are really missing something when you don’t eyeball her on Chuck once a week.

The Roundup.

As most of you that read this column on a regular basis know, I am quite the book addict. My personal library boasts over 10,000 hardcovers, and that doesn’t even count my comic books or paperbacks. Recently, thanks to a new friend, Holly Tsourides, I discovered Shelfari

It’s a wonderful site that lets you not only list and review books you’re going to read, are reading and have read, but you can also share your love of books with like-minded people. In less than a week, I’ve discovered lots of books that I will have to add to my collection. If you take the time to check it out, I think you’ll be hooked. When you stop by there make sure you check out my shelf of books. You may just find something there you’ll want to read yourself.

Open your eyes and open a book.

Beau Smith
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author


Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin