Steampunk and Superheroes – why here, why now?

I’ve noticed over the past year or so the rush of readers to both the superhero genre and the steampunk genre – not that the two haven’t been around for decades, but the surge to the forefront of the media is somewhat interesting. I’m going to put forth a few theories as to why I think movies like “Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” have really put us comic geeks into our Happy Place and why steampunk is picking up steam, especially in the romance area.

First, I’m a comic book geek. Used to devour Alpha Flight, West Coast Avengers and everything I could get my hands on. Unlike my hubby, I can’t tell you anything about the artists or the plotlines or anything like that, just that I like comics. And I *loved* Classics Illustrated, which I hear is making a return. I remember being startled by the violence in “Miracleman” and “Watchmen” and suffered through the bad comic book movies that we had for so many years, until “Iron Man”, “Spiderman” and his kin brought comic book movies into the mainstream and out of the back alley, badly-written and under-financed darkness. Suddenly we could go watch “The Fantastic Four” movie with our heads held high and without being mocked by most of our associates. And, Lordy, we got the full Manhattan in “Watchmen”, though I disagreed with them changing the ending.

I think the reading/watching public has rediscovered comic books because it shows a reality much like a soap opera – there’s always something going on, be it someone betraying their friends or having an affair or making The Wrong Choice. I lived for every issue of “Alias” until it went under, a faboo comic about an ex-heroine trying to deal with being famous and then NOT being famous. And who doesn’t love a good story dealing with real people dealing with real issues, like being pregnant and having superpowers? Talk about stressful! But like all the daytime soap operas, it offers up a good story and lets us destress with people who are nothing like us, but are so much like us.

Steampunk, well… I analyse that quickly with one word – civility.

Now, I *know* that the Victorian Era has been greatly magnified in our eyes, especially when it comes to the area of fiction. It was a dark, dank time when you could die in childbirth or before having a few years of life due to a plethora of diseases racing around, or be killed under the wheels of a carriage or chewed up in machinery. Very few lived well, and those that did still died from diseases that we treat as trivial now.

But steampunk… it moves that less-than-glossy time into a new era where men were men and women were women being treated nicely by men while they stood alongside them, making the wheels turn. Where a woman could be just as much of an engineer as a man, but still have the door opened for her as she flourished her latest invention.

Steampunk, basically, lets women be equal without giving up the courtesy that many have forsaken in this current age. You open a door for a woman and it’s almost treated like an event. You help a mother with a stroller to get up onto a bus and you’re stared at like you’ve grown a third eye. You offer to assist a wheelchair-bound person in the Walmart by reaching something on the shelf for her/him and it’s a novelty that has people whispering behind their hands.

Personal manners has declined so much in our current world, it’s sad. It’s a rare time that I see a young person opening a door for a senior; more times than not they intentionally slam it in the person’s face while laughing or texting about it to their buds. And we have an entire generation who seem to think that saying “Thank you” is some sort of anchronism.

Steampunk, well… steampunk reminds us of a kinder, gentler time when being polite and nice wasn’t seen as a personal flaw. Where men opened the doors, women thanked them and children said “please” and “thank you” without any curse words involved.

At least, that’s what I’m thinking right now. It could change, but it’s a start as to why I think these two genres are becoming more common in our society.

Now, how long until that second part of the Castle ep comes on?

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