Back when I wrote Watchmen I still trusted the viperous bastards, I had a different feeling about American superhero comics and what they meant.
I’ve recently come to the point where I think that basically most American superhero comics, and this is probably a sweeping generalisation, they’re a lot like America’s foreign policy.
America has an inordinate fondness for the unfair fight.
That’s why I believe guns are so popular in America – because you can ambush people, you can shoot them in the back, you can behave in a very cowardly fashion. Friendly fire, or as we call it everywhere else in the world, American fire.
If you’re up there in the stratosphere so that everything on the ground looks like ants, it might be insurgents, it might be an Iraqi wedding party, it might be some English soldiers.
There’s that beautiful bit of dialogue from the cockpit video when they say, ‘You’ve just bombed a load of Brits.’ Their pilots say, ‘Woah, dude, we’re going to jail.’ This is the Iraq war, not Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure!
I believe that the whole thing about superheroes is they don’t like it up them. They would prefer not to get involved in a fight if they don’t have superior firepower, or they’re invulnerable because they came from the planet Krypton when they were a baby.
I genuinely think it’s this squeamishness that’s behind the American superhero myth. It’s the only country where it’s really taken hold. As Brits, we’ll go to see American superhero films, just like the rest of the world, but we never really created superheroes of our own.
And as Londoners, when we had that little bit of bother on the 7th July 2005 – after America had two big buildings blown up… Terrible shame, but we had a lot more than two buildings blown up during the ‘40s when America was providing most of the munitions to Hitler…
But when it happened in England, what was the reaction of the American forces on the 8th of July, as soon as those bombs went off? They pulled the American servicemen outside of the M25, because London was too dangerous for the armed and trained American military men.
Then after a few days, they thought, actually, this does look kind of bad, even for America, let’s creep back into London and pretend we’ve been here all the time.