A few years ago, a series arrived from DC Comics with the self-explanatory title of “Superman & Batman Vs. Werewolves and Vampires.’ Aside from being a mighty specific sort of title, it also brought to mind one of my major complaints of genre-mixing: Batman doesn’t really seem like he belongs in the same story as a vampire.  Yes, I understand that one of his earliest villains was a vampire.  Yes, I understand that he’s battled them in multiple stories and that he himself is vaguely vampiric in his overall look and nature.  That doesn’t change that fact that somehow Bruce Wayne doesn’t belong in a story about superheroes vs supernatural forces, leading me to today’s mash-up query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) felt the same way when The X-Men fought Dracula, but not when Doctor Strange used his sorcerous might to end vampires in the Marvel U, so make of that what you will, asking:  Are you okay with superheroes vs supernatural threats, or do you prefer a separation of ghosties & ghoulies and guys & gals in tights?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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4 Comments

  1. Daniel Langsdale
    September 4, 2017 at 12:06 pm — Reply

    It all comes down to genre (or sub-genre, if you take “superheroes” as the genre) setting for your superheroics.

    Batman fighting vampires makes about as much sense as Batman fighting “white Martians,” if your take on Batman is that he’s essentially an uber-capable individual in a crime noir setting. Once you break the genre boundaries, it makes it easier to break them again.

    My comfort levels with superheroes v. supernatural would depend on how much it breaks the genre of the setting. If we’re dealing with a world where superheroes exist because of super-science such as radiation spurring on fantastic abilities, then yes, the supernatural might feel out of place. (Hulk smash puny emo undead!) But if we’re dealing with a setting where ancient archaeological artifacts or shrines or magic empower people to super-heights, then supernatural threats become more in line and palatable. (“Seripmav enogeb!”)

    (FWIW, I find Bruce Wayne v. vampires much more in-line with his premise than the X-men v. vampires ever did with theirs. This is because I take Bruce’s story to be one of the man who has vowed to always rise to the challenge that threatens the safety of humanity in his society, and if that threat is supernatural then he will fight it to the best of his training. And the X-men premise I see is one of fighting and persevering against social injustice, and supernatural threats don’t really seem to play into that.)

  2. Will
    September 4, 2017 at 4:20 pm — Reply

    I like it if it’s treated right. With Batman’s extensive training it makes sense to me that he would be exposed to a lot of supernatural legend and lore. What bugs the heck out of me though is when a non supernatural hero becomes the ‘key’ or ‘legend foretold’. Mostly this is because it is conveinantly forgotten once the crises is over.

    Etrigan, Zatana, Strange, Fate all live in this world. Of course Batman, Superman, X-Men, Spiderman can be along for the ride and help with an assist, but to have Bats recognized by the Gods one month and next month just hanging out with two face has always felt lame to me.

  3. September 4, 2017 at 5:29 pm — Reply

    Sometimes I like the stories, sometimes I don’t, but in general I don’t have any issue against the theme. To me, it is no different than having Batman fight a naturally super powered person or robot ninjas or some other strange thing that seems a normal occurrence in comic book worlds. There are heroes with a supernatural related origin who fight run-of-the-mill supervillains and plain criminals, so why is it so different that Spider-Man, Batman or Iron Man fight an occasional ghost, demon, vampire or any other supernatural related entity?

  4. Toric
    September 5, 2017 at 3:17 pm — Reply

    If a superhero goes five years without brushing up against the supernatural, he or she shouldn’t suddenly fight Dracula in my opinion. Supernatural horror needs a certain cultivated atmosphere to work, and without that ground work the werewolf or wendigo comes across as just another crazy person to be punched. Batman can fight the Chupacabra if he wants, but he ought to hang out with Constantine or the Swamp Thing for a few issues beforehand.

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