Friday, December 08, 2017

Record: Gerard Jones

You may have heard, since the beginning of 2017, that onetime comics writer Gerard Jones was arrested on charges of storing child pornography in his computer equipment, and is suspected of committing an even worse offense over in Britain. Besides those revolting discoveries, I do believe his record as a comics writer has some items in it worth pondering. What he may have done wrong with any and all of the superhero books he'd written, not the least being the books he wrote for Malibu Comics, and that could be both before and after Marvel bought them out in 1994. So here, I may be able to list at least a few moments in his writing career worthy of attention.
  • In the premiere of Green Lantern volume 3, John Stewart's watching a TV news report that includes word of a child kidnapping. In light of the discoveries of Jones' crimes in real life, that's obviously not going to age well.
  • In the second issue of the series, Guy Gardner goes to a porn shop (where he finds the Tattooed Man and picks a fight with him all for the sake of making Guy look like a parody of "jingoists"). I think we can all figure out why time won't be kind to that story segment.
  • The Guardian named Appa Ali Apsa, first introduced by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams in the early 1970s as an observer for GL and Green Arrow at the time they were "hard travelin' heroes" was turned insane, deadly and villainous in the beginning story (when it was first reprinted in 2003, the given title was "The Road Back"), becoming the adversary they had to combat, and was finally killed at its end. In retrospect, I don't think this was getting off to a good start, taking a decent character and turning him crazy and murderous (he killed another character, seen in the 2nd issue). Mainly because Hal Jordan didn't seem particularly miserable they had to wipe him out. If anything, it was hardly focusing on the real villains in GL's rogues' gallery, who could've made for just as good a premise. Jones did all this just to set up a story where several colonies of races from across the galaxy would learn to live together, as though that couldn't be done.
  • In the 1st Green Lantern Quarterly from 1992, he wrote a story featuring Arisia, where the alien girl who'd boosted herself artificially to a theoretically mature age in 1986 had now reverted mentally to the age of a 13 year old. In light of the charges filed against Jones in 2017, this is why his early 90s story doesn't age well now.
  • In the 1992-93 GL: Mosaic spinoff, he wrote Ch'p, the chipmunk-like alien, getting killed by a truck on the planet Oa (a whole colony of humans was moved there by Appa ali Apsa). And I'm wondering what was so wrong with the poor little guy that they had to turn him into a sacrifice on the alter of slaying minor characters just because of how supposedly easy that was?
  • Although Jones did resurrect Katma Tui in GL: Mosaic, it was otherwise as an energy construct, and I'm not sure it was even in the same way Wonder Man/Simon Williams was. As a result, I'm not sure if Jones ever exonerated Carol Ferris properly. After all, that storyline from Action Comics Weekly in 1988 where Carol slew Katma when she was under the Star Sapphire influence was a very bad step in storytelling, and not reversing it entirely, IMO, did little to help mend a serious mistake.
  • In the first storyline or two from Wonder Man's 1991-94 series, there were some subtle attacks on capitalism, with an inventor who'd become a criminal now wanting to do business with corrupt governments overseas, all because he thought he'd been taken advantage of earlier by domestic corporations.
  • In light of the allegations against Jones, his jokes in Justice League Europe focusing on Power Girl's boobs and cleavage aren't bound to age well. (Nor for that matter is an idiotic joke he made about women sipping diet soda and becoming aggressive as a result.)
  • I'd mentioned before that Jones wrote a story starring Shanna the She-Devil in Marvel Comics Presents #70-73 during 1991? There's something else he's left in a broken heap for at least a while, but then, what good is a story that relies on horror elements when somebody like him is doing the scripting?
  • Though he never scripted the mainstay MCU's Hulk, he did write Hulk 2099, part of Marvel's mid-90s 2099: World of Tomorrow line, which wasn't very successful, and if he was doing it for the sake of exploring his whole notion of violent entertainment being "good for kids" he sure blew it.
  • One of the most notable titles in the Malibu line of superhero knockoffs he wrote was Prime, a Captain Marvel clone about a young teen boy gaining powers to turn into an adult superhero, who went after child rapists, including a school instructor. It goes without saying Jones' own arrest for sex felonies will ensure this Malibu product falls flat on its face.
  • Towards the end of his official career in superhero comics, he wrote Batman: Fortunate Son in 1999 (the title appears to be inspired by a Bruce Springsteen song), an early-days OGN tale where the Masked Manhunter and Dick Grayson, in his early days as Robin, were investigating the case of a rock star accused of blowing up a studio. The message of the yarn was apparently that rock music makes people insane. Oh, isn't that classic. I don't know what Jones was smoking when he came up with that one, but it's very ridiculous, especially now that he's been arrested for his sexual misconduct felony.
Over the past year since Jones' offenses made headlines, I've had to reevaluate some of the stories I read that he'd scripted, and concluded they weren't so entertaining at all, let alone respectable of past works that came before, and the Ultraverse books will surely wind up under an entirely different perspective now. Recalling that he won an Eisner in 2005 for his history books like Men of Tomorrow, it remains to be seen if the board of directors thought to revoke his prize, which he didn't deserve to win. He belongs in the category of overrated scribes whose personalities can easily ensure their stories wind up becoming more dated that others.

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.