Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Definition Time!

Doug: Some of our Open Forum topics of the past few weeks have me thinking about these way-out characters we know and love. In the discussions of super-powers, weapons, etc., words like "invulnerable" and "invincible" have come up, or at least have been a part of the conversation in the background. Also, the cover to Thor #183, where the God of Thunder exclaims, "Without my hammer -- I am truly lost!", made me say "Huh?" Isn't Thor one of the guys who's invulnerable? As his strength and stamina don't derive directly from Mjolnir, why would he be "lost" without it? Additionally, if he's either invulnerable or invincible, would a blast from some doohickey concealed in Dr. Doom's gauntlet really hurt him? While a punch from the Hulk would obviously create a powerful force, would it tickle a bit?

What's your take on some of these words that get thrown around? How would you define these (or others of your choice) terms?


Fred W. Hill said...

For me, ajectives such as invulnerable and invincible were just so much meaningless word decorations. Iron Man, after all, was certainly powerful but fortunately not really invincible -- I say "fortunately" because if he had been his stories would have been excessively boring. Whatever their powers, I think most superhero fans want at least some degree of tension in the stories, to see the main protagonist have to struggle to overcome the latest meanace.
As for Thor, back in the ancient days of yore, if he was without his hammer for more than a minute he'd stop being Thor altogether, a bit that did become rather monotonous in those early tales. Fortunately, King Kirby came up with some threats to really test the Thunder God's mettle, even seriously hurting him a few times -- such as when he faced Seidring (Odin's assistant gone bad) or when he nearly slain by the Wrecker. Made for some better drama than would have been the case if Thor truly was invulnerable.

david_b said...

Doug.., one of the blatant offenders of the verbal 'decorations' was Iron Man.

Back in the early '70s, to see Whiplash or some seeming two-bit villain taking winning blows against IM on his cover, just under the 'INVINCIBLE' description and reinforcing, awe-inspiring riveted IRONMAN logo was a bit of a stretch.

That, and 'The Man Without Fear' line on DD's cover, showing him 'gasping' at someone firing at him.

Ah, wasn't Bronze Age Marvel marvelous..?

Anonymous said...

Well, both words mean you cannot be harmed.

Obviously the use of those words was hyperbole since a character that cannot be harmed isn't going to make for very dramatic stories.

Anonymous said...

Invulnerable means that, but invincible means you can’t be defeated. I think the issue is superlatives, isn’t it? Thor is indisputably mighty, Hulk is, by any definition, incredible, or at least if he followed me into the men’s room, I wouldn’t WANT to believe it.....but are the Avengers really the world’s mightiest heroes? Iron Man is demonstrably not invincible as he spent half his time getting the bejesus knocked out of him, having heart attacks and having to recharge himself off the mains (always an embarrassing moment for a super hero).
In the hyperbole stakes, I think Marvel set out their stall on day one with the modestly described ‘world’s greatest comic magazine’.


Anonymous said...

Fantastic Four #1 really was the "world's greatest comic magazine" when it was published! No hyperbole there. Name me another comic book published that month that even approaches its status as a classic.

Anonymous said...

Well, as a strictly Marvel Boy (I mean I only read Marvel comics, I’m not revealing my secret identity here) I can only agree with you. I know DC would have had Superman, Batman, JLA, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and others on the go in Nov 61, but I strongly doubt any of them could have held a torch (human or otherwise) to the FF that month.
But to be fair, they did keep that slogan for about the next 35 years, and I’m not sure the wave of triumph from issue #1 could be ridden quite that long. I used to be 21, but it’s a fair while since anyone carded me, unfortunately.


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