Dexter is all of us (insert eerie sound)

Not to be judgmental or anything, but finslippy has added a “donate” button, and I’m like, so out of there. She got tiring after a while anyway. She did say something funny once, but then she said it over and over again, and now she wants to be paid for saying it. Paid for blogging? Come on! And, finslippy, don’t you dare call this moralistic jive! Or actually, go right ahead if it makes you feel better. I won’t be listening.

Where was I? Oh yes. I got season one of Dexter for a solstice present, and I’m half way through, that is, where everyone else was around a year ago — a sort of familiar experience for me only I’m usually more like a decade behind. I only have one thing to say about Dexter: it’s a comic book. I was reading Marvel and DC at the time they decided to “go dark” and get graphic-novelish — around 1980. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is about Dexter that’s so reminiscent of X-Men and Spiderman in this phase, but it’s more than just the fact that the comics got Jungian, taking up the themes of the evil within, and the hero vs. himself, and the close relationship between the vigilante and the criminal. This is part of it. But there’s also the way they explored these themes, the kind of language they used. Everything said in Dexter appears for me as in a rectangular dialogue box, and it’s like I’ve read it all before.

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6 thoughts on “Dexter is all of us (insert eerie sound)

  1. Some other Dexter. I’ve inserted a link into the original post. In short: forensics expert by day, vigilante serial killer by night.

    Watchmen came after my comic reading days, but Jake is a big fan and I think there are lots of books lying around. Should I check it out?

  2. I noticed in the University of Toronto bookstore that The Watchmen is required reading in someone’s English class — so it’s probably on syllabi everywhere, including (or especially?) Pomona. I tried to read Jake’s copy, but it got boring (in the belaboured mode) after the initial premise was established. After six episodes (maybe only three or four) Dexter got boring differently. It’s now less than a comic book, and moving toward a mix of action flick and sit com. The standard Hollywood issue of the former begins with intimations of technological mastery and human mastery of technological mastery, on both sides of the good/evil split, and gradually devolves into a moronic fist fight to prove the superiority of good, though even that always depends on the dumb luck of the good guy at a crucial point — very democratic. Dexter’s twist on ubercompetence and superhero incarnation of divine retributive justice rather quickly became thinking about killing the neighbour because of her barking dog and wrestling with the stupidest sort of girlfriend problems; now he’s thrown away all his equipment in a bid for normalcy; so the season has to end in a punch out with the bad guy doppelganger to save a girl — the Jungian evil within possibility (maybe he’s doing it himself?) didn’t even make it past the first show. It’s not even ponderous trash.

  3. You forgot that, as the culmination of the final man-to-man struggle, the bad guy has to fall on a sharp thing! Or I guess this is what you call his last piece of luck. Let’s see if this happens to Dex, whose claim to fame is, after all, that he kills people, bearing full responsibility.

    About your general argument, that comic books might be better than Dexter, I agree. Certainly you’re right that a good comic from the era I’m talking about would have strung along forever the creepy possibility that Dex himself was the ice-truck murderer, rather than ruling it out in the second show. But I have to add that the comics that explored these ideas also tended to get sit-commy. Just when X-Men was at its blackest, with the main themes being “the darkness within Wolverine” or “the affinity between superheroes and supervillains,” whole issues would also be devoted to a love triangle, or problems with parents, or the tensions of day to day life in the X mansion.

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