Say My Name: The Pleasures Of The Spoken Superhero Logo
There are a lot of ways that a comic book can reinforce the iconography of the superhero. A snappy costume; signature powers; an artist that defined the look of the book for a generation. But part of the iconography of the superhero is a good logo, and part of establishing that iconography is that hoary old comics tradition: saying the logo out loud.
In a genre that is constantly trying to one-up itself, when you need to show that things have gotten serious and/or awesome, nothing sells it quite like saying the logo out loud. The occasion is so momentous that typography itself has ceded ground to the logo designer, as shown in this sequence by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, in which Superman prepares to inspire the entire world to fight back.
Saying the logo out loud never gets old for me. It is beyond boldface, above italics, and over the underline. It brings home the thunderous impact of the superhero’s name in a pointed and powerful way --- a way that conveniently lets you know that there’s other books out there with this self-same logo on the cover, and hey, why not try one of them, True Believers?
So much of the superhero is tied up in branding --- the logos, the symbols, the names --- and saying the logo out loud expresses this perfectly, as is the case with this page from the Wolverine miniseries by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller. Everything you need to know about Wolverine in two captions, one of which is what the cover of his comic book looks like.
(Technically, this is narration, but in comics that's just something a character says directly to the reader.)
Like just about everything to do with the average superhero comic, saying the logo out loud is silly. No one talks out loud the way they do in the comics, and people really don’t talk out loud to the point you can hear a logo in their speech. It’s so silly that it’s easily parodied, taking an epic occurrence and reducing it to the level of the mundane or ridiculous, such as in the sequence in Hitman, by Garth Ennis and John McCrea, where this conceit is taken out back and done in with a two-by-four.
Because comics is an entirely silent medium, we have no idea what saying the logo out loud is even supposed to sound like. The idea can even be used to hang a lantern on the fact that without explicit instruction, we don’t know how a word is supposed to be pronounced, such as in this gag in Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, by James Roberts and Alex Milne.
(It rhymes with ‘Avengers.’)
Foolish, bombastic, impactful, and yes, just a little bit silly, all while taking advantage of what the medium can and cannot do: saying the logo of the character out loud is as superhero comics as superhero comics can get.