Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Profile: Jade

Jennifer-Lynn Hayden, Jade
First appearance: All-Star Squadron #25, September 1983. A few months afterward, she became a team member in Infinity Inc, the teens-to-young adults series that starred the offspring of the Justice Society, which ran 1984-88.

Current status: resurrected in Blackest Night 8.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: while she may have shone her metaphysically acquired GL’s light in Infinity Inc, where she was a team member when she first started out, in later years, she became a very underwhelmingly used (underused?) character. For example, in Green Lantern #111 Vol. 3, when she had a chance to really prove herself in saving John Stewart from the villainess Fatality, Jenny-Lynn instead finds her power running low, and it’s thanks to the fact that then paramour Kyle Rayner comes back from space at that very moment that’s she saved from being trampled by Fatality. She lost her powers again in the following issue, and while she did acquire some similar to those of her mother, the Thorn, it was only when Kyle became a superbeing called Ion that he restored her power. Courtesy of an editorial mandate, she ended up turning against Kyle in a cynically written finale to the 3rd GL volume by dumping him for another guy. In the latest take on the Outsiders, she had some of the weakest lines like “I should be leader.” Then, in the Rann-Thanagar War special, she was killed, or at least it seemed that way, and the powers she was carrying went back to Kyle, turning him into Ion again. She’s turned up as a ghost recently.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Green Lantern #111 Vol. 3 was a colossal ripoff – instead of writing it as a showcase in which she could prove herself effective with even a half victory,* it denies her even that much, instead relying on Kyle to save the day. The editorially mandated finale in the third GL volume did not help matters either. Nor does killing her off in an Infinite Crisis lead-in story help.

And there you have it. A green-skinned chick with potential, maybe even She-Hulk style potential, was repeatedly trivialized for the sake of the male characters, or lack of interest from the writers. In fairness, it is possible that editorial fiats could’ve played a role in sabotaging any pitched possibilities to give her a real spotlight.

Of course, this is also what happens when the audience fails to show the same interest and offer the same support for DC heroes as they may for Marvel heroes. Maybe the Identity/Infinite Crisis debacle will help to change all that?

Was there anything good to come out of this? There's fortunate news, that yes, room was left for Jenny-Lynn to return, as she did turn up as a ghost in one of JSA’s last issues, and towards the end of Blackest Night, she was revived. Those who understand that “there are no bad characters, only bad writers” would do well to take note of the fact that they have a chance to think up proposals that could hopefully help Jade make a good comeback.

We could even suggest writing more fanfics about Jade. I only found one fanfic, and she may not exactly be the main star.

* I say that because I remembered a story from Incredible Hulk #218 from December 1977 in which Doc Samson scored a partial victory against the Rhino. As some might agree, a story like that could work for a lot of other protagonists as well, Jade included.

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