A different kind of hero, however, is also frequently found in the comic books, graphic novels, and silver screens of the world-the "not-so-super hero."
Some heroes, such as DC Comics' Batman, have no super powers at all. Rather, they combat injustice and fight on in the war against crime by more conventional means. Batman, for instance, is a well-trained fighter whose powers are derived from his unwillingness to give up, his uncommon, but not impossible, physical capabilities, and his commitment to righting the wrongs that cost him his own parents. Heroes such as Batman are just as alluring for the avid comic book reader, the graphic novel enthusiast, and the average dreamer because his success in crime fighting, his superheroism, in fact, is absolutely attainable. This hint of reality and touch of hope has put millions upon millions of children and adults squarely in Batman's corner as he persists against the injustices in Gotham City to protect the innocent.
Two specific graphic novels, both released by DC Comics, present both the super and non-super version of comic book heroes for the enjoyment of fans everywhere. The first graphic novel, Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen (1995), is a collection of comic books about a world on the edge of nuclear warfare, where superheroes have ceased to enjoy the public support of the past. In fact, in this story, superheroes are distrusted and dismissed as untrustworthy, especially since it is difficult to keep them in check and watch for suspicious behavior among them.
As such, the heroes in the book, who are notably without real superpowers-Dr. Manhattan is an exception to this rule-find themselves distrusted and practically underground since public sentiment removes them so far from their favor. This graphic novel masterfully exposes the human aspects of the superheroes, including their struggles with the same issues grappled with by the average human being. Public distrust of the heroes is magnified with graffiti written on the walls throughout the book posing the question "who watches the watchmen" (Hughes 546).
It is important to point out that, in The Watchmen, thought bubbles were not used at all, leaving only an objective perspective for the reader and eliminating the thought bubble clarification style that is so common in comic books. While this is more widely used today, this piece was seminal in its use of such a technique.
All the superheroes in this story experience real-world problems throughout the unfolding of the plot, and several are captured, even succumbing to psychiatric testing. As the doomsday clock continues to tick toward the end, the heroes' ability to tap into the ordinary in the realist piece of comic history sets the story apart from so many of the average superhero comics and graphic novels that are available for readers to devour.
The other graphic novel for consideration, Wade and Ross' Kingdom Come (1997), involves a surprising similar set of themes as those found in Moore and Gibbons' work. Like The Watchmen, this graphic novel deals with a situation in which many people believe the Apocalypse is imminent. The story is full of a new type of superhero. These superheroes are younger, less moral, and more willing to do whatever is necessary to