Earlier this week, The Onion produced a piece on just how unrealistic the depiction of The Daily Planet is in the Superman comics, or at least in the more recent ones. Meanwhile, over at Cornwall Graphic Novel Group I mentioned how the lack of realism was a missed opportunity in terms of subplots in the story of the comics.
While The Onion is obviously a satirical establishment, the satire in that piece raises some very good points about the nature of journalism today. To me it points to weaknesses in the subplotting of the Superman comics as they currently are. After all, most fiction writers are taught that they need to keep raising the stakes – that the stakes need to be high.
What better way to raise the stakes in the Superman comics – while dashing the misinformed hopes of aspiring young journalists – than having a more realistic Daily Planet where the internet and citizen journalism is eating into their margins and leading to more and more lay-offs as they struggle to change their business model? Having someone like Lois fired and replaced with a young freelancer would be fantastic. She’d be panicking about what to do with her life, reassessing it and at the same time it would warp any perception she may have major, world shattering events.
The lesson here? Sometimes the scenarios of the real world can offer more degrees of peril than the sudden invasion of aliens when it comes to comic books.