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Superheroes and Social Media: #Savingtheday, One Tweet at a Time?

Matt takes a look at heroes who use social media, and how this crossing of mediums benefits comics as a whole.

If you're on the Internet a lot, there's a good chance that you use some form of social media. I'm a pretty big Twitter nerd myself, and find it a great tool for getting what I need done; I follow people I'm interested in while using it to promote my writing and whatever other project I've got underway.

What's interesting, however, is the number of fictional characters that seem to have "real world" accounts. I'm not just talking about Drunk Hulk and other "theme" feeds; companies like Marvel Comics are actually using social networking to supplement and enhance their stories, which I think it a smart move. These characters using Twitter really seems to fit their personality, but are there other heroes that could benefit from a good microblog?

Spider-Girl and Galacta


I was pretty happy to find that @The_Spider_Girl had a shiny new Twitter account to go along with her new prominence in Young Allies, only to find that she'd been tweeting since July of 2010. This coincides with the end of The Gauntlet/Grim Hunt storyline, where she experienced both new powers and the subsequent loss of them.

Spider Girl's Twitter is an example of the concept done right; instead of having to rely on monthly issues for her thoughts, we get them directly from the "source." Especially with team books, there's always a chance that a particular issue might not focus on the character we want to read about.

That's when Twitter becomes useful: instead of having to wait for the next "Spider-Girl-centric" issue, we get little snippets to tide us over until that storyline eventually comes.

A good example is the recent flirtation she's been having with the Avengers Academy leader Reptil. A romance was teased at during the Young Allies/Avengers Academy crossover, where they worked well together as a team. This storyline was furthered during the "prom" issue of 'Academy, where she had a couple quick lines, but nothing too substantial.

== TEASER ==

However, then came this tweet:

No Caption Provided

While this message isn't the longest or the most detailed, it does something extremely important: it gives us access to a thought that you would never see in the comic itself. It lets us read about the otherwise inconsequential musings of a character that interests us, as individual fans, instead of wasting panel space with it.

Reading lines like "She kicked me through a window. Many apologies to the staff and customers of the cell phone store I crashed into" adds something to both the character and the story without making it seem inane.

Instead of drawing the ire of readers with tidbits like that, Marvel is rewarding the people who like the character enough to seek out their Twitter account. The readers who're just interested in Young Allies get to enjoy the book while fans of Spider-Girl get something deeper.

That's what Twitter is, in a nutshell: it acts as a gateway to the inner workings of whoever is using it. That's what makes celebrity use so interesting - for once, we don't need to wade through the BS of their PR people, and we get to see them for them.


That's what made Galacta's solo series so interesting; it would feature tweets within the comic's captions that actually existed as part of her (now-defunct) online account.

It brought a very big "meta" feeling to the whole thing, as if she actually existed. Of course, not everything she tweeted made it into the book, so following her account felt more like a "director's cut," if anything. Hearing about her Daddy issues with the Big G himself or her constant hunger problems brought a little humanity to a series that was supposed to be about an omnipotent cosmic being.

The people who manage these accounts must have a blast: replying to people's questions in-character and being a large part of supplementary material sounds like a good way to earn a paycheque.

While not every character has their own Twitter account, there are definitely a few who could benefit from that treatment. Here's two I thought would make good additions to the online world:

Hypothetical #1: Booster Gold


Like him or hate him, Booster would be right at home in the Twitterverse. I mean, it isn't enough that he's been plastered in ads from head to toe: how would you like to follow the most well-publicized hero in history as he goes about his day?

In my mind, Booster Gold would be one of those obnoxious Twitter accounts that never seem to publish anything that's written by a human hand. Tweets would likely be automatically generated from any headlines featuring him, along with a big ol' "#GOODASGOLD" hashtag, for good measure.

They would also be completely in caps. This would not change.

Just like some iterations of Booster Gold have been completely out of touch with what it means to be a true hero, Booster's Twitter would miss the mark of Twitter as a whole: instead of being genuine, it would just be a device to get him more fame.

Instead of interacting with fans, it would just be a PR machine that serves to make the owner look good. He would follow thousands of people without reading what they have to say: he'd only expect for them to follow him back.

Booster would also probably rig Skeets to publish live video of everything. That poor robot.

Hypothetical #2: Teen Titans


On the other hand, the Teen Titans could probably use Twitter to their advantage; I mean, their current tower is in the middle of America's tech hotbed, and they could probably wrangle some smartphones for their team if they tried hard enough.

While you could say that every hero could benefit from the ability to be tipped off to crimes online, I think the Titans have something to gain from Twitter. As a team book, members tend to get lost in the shuffle. Like Spider Girl's musings above, I think hinted-at storylines that are abandoned (like Lorena's merciless flirting with Blue Beetle) could be fleshed out without the use of extra pages in the book.

One of my main complaints with team books is that without solid rosters, characters become one-dimensional, especially if storylines don't tend to revolve around them. Twitter accounts from DC would allow for characters to build a fan base around them without having to take a chance on a solo series, saving costs. Even in the context of the book, the heroes would use their accounts to build a rapport with the public, gaining their trust for when they decide to break out on their own.

The Point

The ultimate purpose of adding mediums to comics that aren't comics is to supplement and enhance the product. Like I mentioned above, having characters post on a medium that isn't jammed down someone's throat allows for fans to seek out this supplementary material instead of forcing people who don't like it to endure it.

In short, it lets the fans get more of they love while allowing others to skip it if they choose. I can't complain about that at all.

Because really, who doesn't want to get a message on their phone saying that Spider-Girl answered them back?

So how about it, ComicVine? Which characters would you love to see online?
Matt Demers is a Toronto writer who spends too much time on Twitter and Tumblr; he always appreciates new followers, though!