One of my new favorite shows is Psych. Sure, it’s mostly because of the immature, silly humor and my deep down desires to have wacky, heroic adventures while making pop culture references from my childhood and teenage years. But there’s a reality underpinning the fantasy that reveals a truth about humanity.
In case you don’t know the premise, here goes: Shawn Spencer is an expert but amateur profiler who uses lateral thinking and basic truths about human nature to solve crimes. However, since he has no other socially acceptable way to validate his skill, he tells the cops he’s a psychic.
The first truth: people are not that unique. If you’ve paid enough attention and let your instincts take charge, you can figure them and their situations out pretty quickly. Yes, YOU. Any of us can. That doesn’t excuse a lack of due diligence.I’m just saying the amount of time needed to “get to know someone” isn’t really that much. It takes a lot less time than most people think it does, which is why most don’t let themselves do it.
Which leads to the second truth: when faced with a person who can sum up a situation quickly, people really would rather be skeptical or believe in a fantasy like psychic abilities. Probably because it shatters the aforementioned deception that it takes time to get to know people. The easiest way to explain someone who does it successfully without shattering that illusion – unless you’re a skeptic and just say “phooey” at things like gut instinct – is to describe them as somehow gift or outside the norm.
A topic like this deserves a deeper breakdown. My English teachers would tell me this is a good start but I need more than declarative statements to make my point. Luckily it’s my website. But I do hope that throwing these ideas out there get some of you thinking. Or, at least, I hope it convinces you to watch Psych so you get my references.
Here are some previews of a few comics I’m writing and are being drawn by some pretty fucking dope artists.
First up, one of three stories I’m writing for Joe Cook’s Shattered Myth. This one features Samson versus Mammon and is being drawn by Micah Weltsch. This story will initially only be available in print – yes! print! – in Volume 3 of the Shattered Myth collection. Here’s a fun excerpt from the first page:
Next up is another Shattered Myth story I’m writing. This one is part of the Spotlight series and will be featured on the website in the coming months. Eric White and I will be telling a story about Hermes that has been heavily inspired by the classic Superman vs. Flash race stories of the past. I’m really excited for this one. Here’s a look at his pencils from the first strip:
Finally, and most dear to my heart, is my latest collaboration with my partner on Revenger, Michael Powell. We’re taking a breather from Revenger but staying in the same universe, albeit 7 years in the future. This the second most important character in our world, Sovereign. Here’s a look at the first full page, completely inked. This will also be our first colored story, thanks to Eric White!
Batman always has been and always will be my favorite superhero. The other night I had a dream that I saw an early screening of The Dark Knight Rises. In my dream it was a meta-existentialist film that included a Robin who also dressed like Batman and Jack Nicholson playing an older version of Heath Ledger’s Joker.
That doesn’t seem like a bad way to bring back Nicholson, by the way.
Another sign of superior mental health: not wearing red trunks outside of his pants anymore.
However — and I know this will sound “controversial” as far as comic book fandom goes but whatever — I think Superman’s psychology is far more interesting. Batman is not complicated: a kid sees his parents killed and goes off on a vendetta, complete with a rigid moral code. It’s interesting, sure, but only because it’s relatable and, by extension, uncomplicated (that is to say, if it were complicated it wouldn’t be so relatable).
I can’t actually wrap my head around Superman’s psychology, though. A lot of it stems from his relationship with Lex Luthor. One of the first things I wrote about on this blog is why Batman must not kill the Joker. Yet I can’t understand why Superman hasn’t flicked Lex Luthor’s head right off.
Seriously. That dude’s a giant dick. All Superman has to do is look at Lex Luthor and made that bald head blow up. Do it!
Over and over, Lex Luthor finds other people to take the fall for his crimes. Superman knows this. But he chooses to do nothing until he can capture Lex fair and square. Maybe this is why it’s better that only fictional characters be gifted with powers beyond those of mortal men. I’d be hard pressed to not overreact at least once, after deciding I knew better than everyone else, and take matters into my own hands. Lex would be the first guy who’s head I’d take off with a superdropkick.
Honestly, there’s a very good chance l would decide most people are too stupid to be trusted and crown myself ruler of the world.
That’s where the psychology becomes even more interesting to me. It’s not that Superman resists temptation to be selfish (i.e., take shit because he wants it and he can) but how does he resist the temptation to take care of humans by simply treating them like children? That’s probably what I would do with his powers. I’d force everyone to obey my rules for their own good. I’d be like the scary kindergarten teacher that no one wants to fuck with. Only my students would be everyone on the planet. And I’d teach lessons like “don’t be stupid assholes.”
Maybe Superman just realizes all-powerful does not mean all-knowing and his rules are just as likely as anyone else’s to be flawed. He seems to understand the need for democracy over dictatorship, if only to try and compensate for the inherent mistakes of any one person. Which implies an incredible amount of healthy self awareness on Superman’s part.
I think we can say that Superman’s greatest super power may be super mental health. Is that a by product of his other super powers? Is it a product of his upbringing? What’s it like to be some mentally stable?
We all deal with mentally unstable people in our lives. We all have our own psychological issues. These are important things to explore. But Superman’s healthy mental state will always be more fascinating to me. If only because people like that are so rare both in real life and in fiction.