Friday, July 13, 2018

Betty Brant

Betty Brant

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #4, September 1963

History: a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she worked as J. Jonah Jameson's secretary at the Daily Bugle, later becoming a reporter herself, first dating Peter Parker and later marrying fellow journalist Ned Leeds for a time.

Was subject to the following acts of discrimination: after Brand New Day came about in 2008, some of the best character developments were drastically erased, and she was belittled in a story from #583 in 2009 where Peter Parker makes it sound like she's having an affair with Marlon Brando, just to make her look more like a gossip writer. And when she holds a birthday party later, nobody even comes around, because they resent the job she gets at the Bugle. She's basically alienated.

What's wrong with how this was done? Writers like Mark Waid went out of their way to marginalize a once decently written character in almost the same way Mary Jane Watson was. It's but one of many grievous errors made for the sake of One More Day, long viewed as one of the worst stories in modern Marvel history.

That particular story may have been quietly dropped, but the damage has remained for a long time after, and does nothing to salvage Spider-Man. Certainly not so long as Joe Quesada remains in charge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ned Leeds

Ned Leeds

First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #18, November 1964

History: a young reporter for the Daily Bugle, he dated and later married secretary/reporter Betty Brant. He was co-created by none other than Stan Lee and the late Steve Ditko.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in the mid-80s, at the time of the Hobgoblin tale, Ned, while trying to bring down the Kingpin, fell victim to brainwashing by the Hobgoblin (which damaged his relations with Betty), Rod Kingsley, and was framed as being the Hobgoblin (much like Flash Thompson was around that time). Ned was murdered by the Foreigner at the behest of Jason Macendale in the 1986 Spider-Man vs Wolverine special, and for a time afterwards, it was thought Ned was the Hobgoblin.

What's wrong with how this was done? This story turn was the result of machinations by Jim Owsley (Christopher Priest), whose work as both writer and editor have been very hit-or-miss. It was controversial at the time, with Peter David, Tom deFalco and Ron Frenz taking offense, mainly because Owsley kept it secret until the last minute. It wasn't considered very plausible either; just a cheap excuse to kill off an established co-star.

Was there any good to come out of this? A decade later, in the 1997 Hobgoblin Lives miniseries, an effort was made to exonerate Ned by retconning in-story that Rod Kingsley/Hobgoblin was the culprit all along, and had brainwashed Ned.

This year, in ASM Annual #42, Ned was revealed to be alive (it seems he was resurrected by the Jackal in Clone Conspiracy), or a clone of him turned up. I'd like to think that's good news, but coming at a time when Mary Jane Watson was still thrown out by Joe Quesada's editorial mandates, it decidedly wasn't. (With terrible scribes like Dan Slott taking charge, how could it be?) The takeaway from this is that Ned was sadly a victim of frivolous obsessions with garnering attention at all costs, no matter how poor the artistic merit could've been to start with.

To date, there's only been a few male characters I've added to this database, but I think Ned Leeds certainly qualifies, and I realize there can be advantages in keeping track of some of the men in comics too.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Profile: Heather Glenn

Heather Glenn
First appearance: Daredevil #126 Vol 1, 1975
Death: Daredevil #220 Vol 1, 1985

History: She was the daughter of a rich industrialist factory manager. She helped Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson open up a new law firm called Storefront Clinic, and subsequently learned Matt's secret identity as Daredevil. She was co-created by Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown. She even guest-starred at least once in Iron Man, and similar to Tony Stark, suffered from alcoholism.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: she committed suicide after believing her relationship with Matt had fallen apart by hanging herself in her apartment.

What's wrong with how this was done? Fortunately, very little, maybe because her death was by suicide, rather than coming to a more grisly end via murder, as happened with Karen Page during Kevin Smith's run in 1998 on the 2nd volume.

I'll have to admit though, that it's a shame Marvel's staff at the time thought the only good way to give Glenn a sendoff was by sending her into the afterlife. If that's the only way they can think of dropping a character they no longer want to use, how can they call themselves creative?