Friday, January 05, 2007

Opposite Man

After reading this interview with Chuck Dixon (which is very good considering it could have been nothing more than a puff piece but instead gets into some real issues) I am a lot more impressed with the man as a writer than I was before. Not for his stance against writing sexual superheroes (a prudish and limiting attitude towards superhero stories that he himself has broken in order to write about teenage pregnancy), but for his ability to NOT inject his own politics into the story he needs to write.

Specifically, he states that he's pro-death penalty, which surprised me, because Joker: The Devil's Advocate is one of the best arguments against the death penalty I have ever read.

Now, I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a Dixon fan but Devil's Advocate is a cut above. Not only does it feature some of Graham Nolan's best art ever, as well as a Joker that is intelligent, vicious, crazy, and actually funny, it presents the ultimate test case for the death penalty: The Joker.

The Joker is guilty; he's irredeemable; he offers nothing to society (which Lex Luthor arguably does or could); and he's a credible future threat. In short, if ANYONE deserves execution, it's the Joker.

And yet... and yet the punchline of the book is that the Joker is actually innocent (of these murders, if not all the other ones) and that executing him would be a mistake! And therefore executing anyone, even the Joker, when you are not 100% certain he did it, would be a mistake as well.

I've used this book as an argument against the death penalty, and to find out its author is actually PRO-death penalty is... surprising, to say the least.

It gives me some hope for the Grifter/Midnighter series, that Dixon can convincingly write a character whose motivations and causes are so different and antithetical to his own. Perhaps more writers should do the same, just to prove that they can.

Maybe they'd learn something.

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