Friday, March 19, 2010

Profile: Adam Grant

Adam Grant/Morgan
First appearance: Adventures of Superman #429, June 1987

Current status: dead.

History: When Cat Grant was first introduced in 1987, she was a news columnist who'd come from Los Angeles to work for the Daily Planet, and she had a young son named Adam, via her ex-husband Joe Morgan, who'd been a cast member too.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: he was murdered by the Toyman (or as recently claimed, a robo-Toyman) in Superman #84, December 1993, after this villain kidnapped him along with several other children to his hideout. After Adam tried to help work an escape plan, Toyman decided to kill him for daring to "disobey". He even later told Cat Grant while in prison that he killed Adam because she was "a bad mommy".

What's wrong with how this was done? Although it had been established since Toyman/Winslow Schott's reintro in 1987 that he was capable of killing, he did have limits and an honor sense, drawing the line when it came to children. For example, when he discovered that Sleez from Apokalips was planning on harming children at the Happyland Amusement Park, he turned against him and even tried to blow Sleez to smithereens. Superman #84, penned by Dan Jurgens, usually a pretty good writer, was quite a departure from that initial characterization, taking an otherwise established villain and making him more reminiscient of those you'd see in Batman, making him hard to use without embarrassment for many years.

(In fact, I suspect the Batman movie of 1989, to say nothing of comics like Watchmen, might've had an unhealthy influence that led to this kind of bad storytelling that was harming comics in the mid-90s. I know that the Batman movie seemed to have influenced the short Flash TV series that aired during 1990-91.)

This is an early example of a young child becoming a sacrificial lamb instead of being developed as a character, and took place during the time when several other heroes/cast members were being offed, including at least 2 Infinity Inc. members I've already written about.

Was there anything good to come out of this? I don't think so. Recently, in Action Comics #865, Geoff Johns wrote a story claiming that it was actually a Toyman robot who committed this heinous deed. But how does that excuse the fact that a young child was slain as part of a mindset that went out of control in the 1990s, turning "minor" characters into sacrificial lambs? I'm afraid that's too easy to try and redeem a villain instead of try to turn back the clock on a young child's death in a world of fantasy. That's very weak and only suggests the writers/editors are treating this as fait accompli, exactly the reason why comics have become only so ghettoized and weaker in storytelling value as the years have gone by.

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