Saturday, September 02, 2017

Profile: Marla Bloom

Marla Bloom

First appearance: in a backup story published in The Fury of Firestorm #24, June 1984, as part of the subsequent cast of Blue Devil's solo book that ran during 1984-86. Her co-creators were Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn.

History: the president of a film production outfit, Marla Bloom Associates, she was in charge of stuntman Dan Cassidy's movie, where a magical demon caused the effects that would turn him into the blue-skinned humanoid who'd take up a career in crimefighting. She'd provide assistance whenever possible.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: during the Underworld Unleashed crossover in 1996, Blue Devil made a deal with Neron for achieving more fame, and was given the assignment to take down a power substation. But during the day he was supposed to do so, Marla decided to go out on a scouting assignment in a helicopter for filming locations, and died in a helicopter crash, mostly because of Blue Devil's utterly foolish quest for more fortune.

What's wrong with how this was done? It was nothing more than a pathetic decision to kill off characters whose creators worked so hard to get them on paper in the first place, and following this, did Dan Cassidy do anything to get her resurrected? Apparently not, because next thing you know, he's getting Neron to make him a real devil after he's been put to death briefly during a fight. If the idea was to show him punishing himself for his grave errors, I'm not impressed. This was a story that did not have to be, yet DC's editors went out of their way to make bad use out of Blue Devil and co-stars anyway.

Since then, as far as I know, the death of Marla was never reversed. If it was, then certainly that would be an improvement. But so far, it doesn't look like that's happened, and what's resulted is a pure embarrassment.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Profile: Blue Devil

Blue Devil

Real name: Dan Cassidy

First appearance: Fury of Firestorm #24, June 1984, in a special backup story. His solo book followed the same month. He was co-created by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn.

History: a stuntman on a movie set that bore the very name he'd take up as a superdoer, Cassidy was affected by a magic attack from a demon who thought he was a real one, and led to his costume becoming grafted to his body so he couldn't get it off, as it theoretically merged with him. But, he managed to overcome any depressed feelings and took up the usual career in crimefighting.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in 1996, during the Underworld Unleashed crossover, BD became one a victim of a pure embarrassment. He makes a deal with the demonic Neron to destroy an unmanned power substation in California, all because he wants more fame and fortune, and unintentionally leads to the death of his producer buddy, Marla Bloom, who was traveling in a helicopter later in the day, when the copter collides with some power lines. Then, as if things couldn't get any worse, he's killed while seeking revenge on Neron and decides he wants to become a real blue-skinned devil, which Neron promptly fulfills. That's right, Cassidy doesn't act altruistically and actually try to get Marla's fate reversed. He just makes a mockery of his whole predicament by getting it shifted from bad to worse.

He later wound up in one of the worst stories written at the time Identity Crisis was published, a series called Shadowpact. Which didn't last long, thankfully. Later still, he appeared in the 13th issue of DC Universe Presents circa 2012, where he and Black Lightning get into a pointless clash as they're allegedly depicted trying to defeat a new take on the gangster Tobias Whale.

The catastrophe with Blue Devil is a leading example of how DC's modern managers have no faith or confidence in any of the creations they were in charge of.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Profile: Jane Foster

Jane Foster

First appearance: Journey Into Mystery #84, September 1962

History: Foster, a nurse when she first debuted, was assistant to and the first mortal love of Marvel's take on the Norse God of Thunder, Thor, in his mortal guise of Dr. Donald Blake at the time he'd originally had a secret identity. An interesting bit of trivia: at least twice she was referred to as Jane Nelson rather than Foster, as per a handful of early Stan Lee works where some accidental typos remained in place, but the family name Foster ultimately came to be the one solidified for naming her character. She may not have begun as the toughest lady cast member (admittedly, not many of the female co-stars in Stan Lee's first 2 Silver Age years did), but as time went by, she became a much more braver, determined character who wasn't afraid to put up a fight when facing danger.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: when she first found out Thor and Blake were one and the same, she tried to persuade Odin to make her a deity to live alongside Thor. But she failed the needed tests and Odin returned her to Midgard (Earth) with her brief powers and memories of Thor erased, though the latter returned some time later. In Thor #231 from 1975, an entity called Fear tried to manipulate her into committing suicide, and while Sif aided her by merging their life forces temporarily, she later wound up stuck in a pocket dimension the following year in issue #249. Fortunately, Thor and Sif rescued her, and in 1983, in issue #336, she married Dr. Keith Kincaid, the medic whom Thor's Blake identity was meant to resemble.

When the Civil War crossover was published, Jane was shoved into the mess as well. In the third Thor volume, after learning Donald Blake was around again, she divorced Kincaid and lost custody of the child she had at that time. In 2015, she was depicted contracting cancer and was turned into a female Thor, complete with same name as the male protagonist who bears that very name.

What's wrong with how this was done? The stories from early times were done plausibly and respectably (including a What If? anthology tale from the late 70s), without trying to turn Foster into a tool. But forcing her into the Civil War crossover was bad, and it was disrespectful how J. Michael Straczynski and company had her divorce her husband, as though nothing mattered anymore, ditto the child custody loss.

And then, there's that little matter of turning Jane into "Thor" for the sake of publicity stunts and catering to SJWs and "diversity" advocates in 2015, as though such steps alone equal talented writing. Not so at all. Jason Aaron's notions of how to go about were laughable in the extreme, and despite the attempts by leftist apologists to claim otherwise, sales did not hold up, and certainly didn't sell over 100,000 copies (and don't be surprised if plenty of those copies are gathering dust on the shelves and in bargain bins now). It was a decidedly terrible misuse of a character who deserved far better, just like the equally abused Mary Jane Watson.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Record: Eddie Berganza

Berganza is one of DC's longtime editors whose career stretches back as far as the early 1990s. Of recent, he was outed as a sexual harasser. Some of the books he's worked on may even have some bizarre irony to go with his newly discovered behavior behind the scenes. I'll try to list at least a few of his serious errors here, some of which relate to his job as the editor in charge of the Superman titles.
  • In Wonder Woman: Earth One, written by Grant Morrison last year, there's a scene where the book's take on Steve Trevor, changed to African-American, is grabbed in a very inappropriate manner by Diana, while she asks if he's a man. No, it's not shown directly, but it's still very revolting they had to strongly imply it, nevertheless. Not only that, there's apparently a cameo illustration of Berganza himself in the miniseries, which came out around the time the accusations against Berganza resurfaced. Talk about bad timing.
  • In May of this year, in the 23rd issue of the sans-adjective Superman volume they've been publishing (let's remember there were at least two other volumes sans-adjective in better days), Lois Lane got her leg sliced off by a laser shot. Worst, it was shown right out in the open, and not even silhouetted, as previous generations of editors would've thought to do.
So there's at least two examples involving books with both a hero and heroine that he served as editor for, and neither of which have particularly tasteful storytelling to offer. And after what Berganza did, it may not be surprising he was willing to associate himself with such lowbrow elements.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Profile: Shanna the She-Devil

Shanna the She-Devil

Real name: Shanna O'Hara
First appearance: Shanna the She-Devil #1, December 1972

History: a variation on Will Eisner and Jerry Eiger's earlier Sheena, Queen of the Jungle tales from the Golden Age, adventuress Shanna was an early example of a heroine co-created by a woman, writer Carole Seuling, with artist George Tuska, and Steve Gerber provided some extra backup assistance on the scripting. The heroine, also known as Lady Plunder, was the daughter of Gerald and Patricia O'Hara, the former a diamond miner who accidentally shot his wife dead while searching for a rogue leopard that belonged to the mother, and this led the outraged Shanna to take a negative stance on firearms with few exceptions. (As seen in the panel I posted, which is from the 2nd issue, only for tasks like blasting heavy doors open did she see fit to use guns.)

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: both she and paramour Ka-Zar were dragged into the mess known as Secret Invasion, and she killed a Skrull named Pit'o Nilli. I don't think she was ever depicted killing before. Yet that's probably nothing compared to the idiocy of the Marvel NOW event of the early 2010s, where she was killed by a neanderthal on a mysterious island within the vicinity of Savage Land, and though she was resurrected, she was now filled with supernatural powers, all for the sake of it.

What's wrong with how this was done? The biggest problem is that it wasn't organic. Another is the sensationalized approach to storytelling by awful writers like Brian Bendis. And the supernatural powers were unnecessary. This wouldn't have worked with the Black Canary or Lady Shiva over at DC either.

But maybe the worst thing that could happen to Shanna from a real life perspective is that one of the later scriptwriters penning a story where she made an appearance turned out to be a scumbag: Gerard Jones, who wrote a 10-part story for Shanna in Marvel Comics Presents 68-77 in 1991, was arrested at the end of 2016 for child porn trafficking. Now, what might've been one of the better stories starring such a fine creation is going to be tainted for quite a while with the stench of Jones' actions behind the scenes. It's absolutely terrible when something awful like that happens.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Record: Gail Simone

Did I really just say Gail Simone?

Yup, I'm afraid so.

Even the very woman who was one of the architects for the site (Women in Refridgerators) that led me, among other things, to think up this blog, has pulled quite a few very reprehensible stunts that are actually demeaning to women and men alike, whether it's her politics in real life or her own fictional writing, that made me decide finally I'd have to chalk up a special entry with at least a few citations of her grievous errors. So, here's what I can think of:
  • When she was writing the "All-New Atom" an early example of "diversity" run amok, long before Marvel went out of their way to do the same, there was one story where Ryan Choi's climbing a ladder in miniaturized form, and accidentally slips and bangs his crotch. I couldn't help think that this bore traces of male-bashing, even as she and the company were going out of their way to pander to a PC crowd.
  • She went right along with Dan DiDio's jumbled vision for what should be done with the DCU from the very moment Identity Crisis was published, and had no complaints about what harm this could do to Birds of Prey.
  • Why, even when she was writing BoP, there were already signs it would turn out to be as idiotic as Geoff Johns' own writing that was flooded with too much nostalgia, done very tastelessly at that.
  • She was the scripter of Villains United, a miniseries connecting with Infinite Crisis, one of many superfluous crossovers in 2006. In this story, the Fiddler, a villain who first appeared in the late 1940s in the Flash, was murdered by Deadshot. You may not think it's as big a deal as it certainly can be when heroes and their co-stars meet similar fates, but even killings of villains can end up being superfluous, and this one was just another pointless shock tactic at a time when DC really went overboard. Making matters worse, Deathstroke was a cast member, as if it weren't bad enough that Identity Crisis made him look like he hadn't reformed at all.
  • And then, there's Simone's own politics, which are counterproductive to women: she gave her backing to LGBT advocates demanding that transgenders be allowed to use bathrooms, public or otherwise, of the opposite sex, no matter how much risk it could pose for women, and already has. It was stunning how ignorant and heartless her positions were. At no point in any of the Twitter posts and other notes she wrote backing the position did she show any understanding why denying a woman the right to privacy is morally reprehensible. There was no sign she had any second thoughts or understood why being transgender is no defense for making things unpleasant and dangerous for a lady. All she did was present a picture of somebody who lost her moral compass.
  • She further wrote an agenda by emphasizing transgenderism in the Batgirl title she wrote circa 2014, and presenting homosexuality as normal in the process, as if we don't already have plenty of that. Yet no Romanians, Armenians, Chileans or Portuguese anywhere.
This is not something I'm happy to have to bring up. Indeed, it's depressing and I'm writing it with a heavy heart. But the sad reality is that somebody here succumbed to leftism in one of the worst ways possible, and it's made a mockery of what she supposedly complained about early in her career. I think it's fortunate she's not literally the creator of Women in Refridgerators - a lot of the material that got put into its making came from what other people offered as examples, and a few other webmasters were instrumental in writing up the pages, not her.

She hasn't written many comics lately. In retrospect, it's not like she was stratospherically popular either; Birds of Prey only sold 30,000 to 40,000 copies when she was writing it, which is tedious compared to what movies usually sell in tickets. I think DC (and Marvel) wanted to part ways with her no matter how left-wing she was, and the irony is, she was asking for it. I'm sure she'll still be writing comics to some extent down the road, but so long as she sticks with all these bad political leanings and lets it affect her work (and any editors approve of it no matter how alienating), whatever comics she turns out at this point won't be worth the effort. For now, what matters is that she sullied what could've been a respectable reputation, and made an unfunny joke out of her career.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Profile: Sapphire Stagg-Mason

Sapphire Stagg-Mason

First appearance: The Brave and the Bold #57, Dec/Jan 1964

History: the daughter of crooked scientist/industrialist Simon Stagg, she became Rex Mason/Metamorpho's girlfriend (and later wife) and loved him even after he was turned into a man of the elements by the Orb of Ra, which he'd been seeking in Egypt for Simon.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: when a miniseries for Metamorpho was written in 1993, Sapphire had decided by the end that her crooked father Simon Stagg was not worth supporting anymore, and had left him. But several years later, when JLA #52 was written up, this worthy development was ignored, and she was back in Simon's company again as though nothing ever happened. This was certainly also the case by the time Birds of Prey 51-52 Volume 1 was published in 2003.

What's wrong with how this was done? It has the effect of making Sapph-baby into a bimbo, but if anything, it certainly makes a mockery out of everything prior. Of course, it's the writers who have to shoulder the blame. What's surprising is that Mark Waid, who wrote the 1993 miniseries for Rex, inexplicably reversed this turn himself circa the time his JLA run went to press, and if he did, that's downright peculiar.

It's a pretty good demonstration of how plausible story development went out the window at DC as the 1990s came about.