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Thursday, April 15, 2004

Everyone's looking one way... 

As you probably know, Steven Grant has a new Permanent Damage up.

The thing in this column most people have focused on is the Marvel Icon business. Which is interesting. But as the wise Franklin Harris pointed out, no one really knows enough yet to speculate anything meaningful; an opinion columnist can only lay out a spectrum of possibilities and their thoughts on each. Intriguing, but basically a mental exercise that has no real bearing on anything. Until we get more concrete facts, everyone's just pulling their pud and remarking on how clever they are about it. Grant, at least, recognizes this.

I'm not interested in that part of the column, anyway.

His "episodes from a freelance life" is much more interesting, as it gives a little peek into editorial policy that, while not revelatory, is still interesting to read. This part, particularly, struck me:

Here's something that's turned into a social taboo, particularly since Columbine: kids. Particularly evil kids, or harm coming to kids, even evil ones. Which is too bad, especially since our concept of "kid" has reverted as far as the late teens and even, for some, early 20s. (That there are those who wish to treat all of us as children is a separate issue.) I don't believe there's no such thing as a bad kid. I believe bad kids are usually the result of bad parenting, which isn't quite as transparent an observation as it sounds, but it's more complicated than I care to get into, so let's leave it at that. I've seen kids do lots of bad things; that kids can be flat out evil strikes me as fit fodder for fiction. (Check out J.G. Ballard's RUNNING WILD.) "Kids as villains" also strikes me as a thorny problem for almost any hero, and one that confronts our justice system as well. How do you deal with juvenile offenders? Should they be treated as adults for severe crimes? Is "zero tolerance" a fair approach? Given the understanding of technology that many kids (teen and pre-teen) far exceeds that of their elders, it doesn't strike me as far-fetched that, in a more technological world, young people would increasingly take not necessarily legal advantage of technology for a variety of reasons that wouldn't necessarily mirror adult concerns. Which makes them interesting to write about.

This might make me sound like a tool (as if I haven't already, in many many posts), but this reminds me of the Punisher one-shot where Mister Castle travels to Belfast to deal with some drug runners and murderous psychoes. He spies a couple of kids torching a car with a molotov cocktail and ponders to himself: "I wonder, sometimes. When it comes to what I do. How young is too young, exactly?"

I sure as shit wouldn't mind a story exploring that particular morality, as told by Ennis or Grant. The latter doesn't work much these days and the former gets too easily dismissed because of the oddball nature of his stories, but I don't think there's anyone else in comics who deals so comfortably with the darkest of morality plays.

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