Friday, August 23, 2019

Another conclusion

It's been a few years since I decided to resume using this blog again, though on a less frequent basis than I had originally, and I think the time has come to call it a day again.

I should note that, as of this writing, Dan DiDio has struck again over at DC (along with figurehead EIC Bob Harras), with another reprehensible miniseries called Heroes in Crisis, where the victim this time was Wally West, turned into an "accidental" murderer of a number of other characters, all for the sake of more drawn out storylines and publicity stunts. And even under current Marvel EIC C.B. Cebulski (and lest we forget, Joe Quesada's still in charge), similar stunts have continued, with the replacement of Valkyrie by Jane Foster one of the most recent examples. And judging from sales receipts, it looks like these PC stunts have finally taken their toll, with pamphlet and trade sales plunging, and stores even closing down.

It's all the fault of these higher echelons who've gone out of their way to spite their fanbases, and for all we know, both of the Big Two may eventually be closing their publishing doors, unless they're licensed out to 3rd parties who could have a better idea how to write stories, and stand continuity erect again while jettisoning the worst stories of the past 20 years or so. Better yet would be if the Big Two were sold off to smaller businesses minus the merchandising rights for films, toys and games, which, IMO, can remain with Disney and Time Warner.

For now, you could reasonably wonder if it's for the best if the Big Two close down. And maybe that'd be a good thing, since it would prevent further pointless abuse of their properties.

Some of the sexism that was prevalent in the 2000s storytelling may have stopped, but there's still more going in other ways, including how uglified the artwork's become in mainstream superhero comics, especially at Marvel during Axel Alonso's tenure as EIC. Carol Danvers was a particularly notable victim of this when she was shoved into the role of Captain Marvel. With that kind of approach, flaccid storytelling and even Mary Sue-ish writing, it's no shock the several different volumes of that solo book would collapse so badly.

And that's why, let me be clear, if the Big Two finally collapse, it'll probably be for the best. The way they're being run now is an utter disaster, and it would actually help if they ceased production of new stories. The people in charge not only refuse to take responsibility, resign and allow somebody not part of nepotism to take over their position, they even openly signal their contempt for core audiences. That's no way to run a business, period. So again, if the Big Two are on the way out, there's no need to feel too sorry about it.

And with that, I once again conclude the use of this blog.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Profile: Mariko Yashida

Mariko Yashida

First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #118, 1979

History: the first notable lover of Wolverine, she was the daughter of Shingen Yashida, the half-sister of the Silver Samurai, Kenuichio Harada, and the cousin of Sunfire. The two of them met when the X-Men traveled to Japan to stop the terrorist Moses Magnum from menacing the country. They were engaged to be married, but because of the usual complications seen in superhero adventures, it never went through.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in the years following hers and Logan's failed plans for marriage, she was poisoned with a toxin-laced blowfish by a hitman named Reiko, who was working for mobster Matsuo Tsurayaba, a rival of her family's, in Wolverine #57, July 1992. She wanted to avoid a painful death, and convinced Wolverine to finish her off faster, which he did, while swearing to take revenge on Tsurayaba.

What's wrong with how this was done? Fortunately, very little. It was a tastefully and plausibly handled passing of a character, at a time when Marvel writing was still coherent enough. And one of the better stories of its kind set in the Asian/far-eastern world.

It's still a pity though, that Wolverine couldn't be allowed the benefits of a better life, along with a lady like Mariko.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Profile: Valkyrie


Real name: Brunnhilde

First appearance: Avengers #83, December 1970

History: initially, Valkyrie debuted as a disguise of the Enchantress, and later, made an appearance as the persona of a deity that was placed into the body of a mortal woman, Samantha Parrington, in the Incredible Hulk #142 in 1971. Then, in the 4th issue of The Defenders in 1973, Valkyrie's essence was placed in another mortal woman, Barbara Norris, and the 3rd iteration of the character joined up with the group for much of the rest of the run.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: she was originally killed in the last issue of Defenders, just so some cast members like Beast could then be used in X-Factor, though later resurrected in a Dr. Strange story 2 years afterwards. More recently in 2019, she was slaughtered again in the War of the Realms crossover by the dark elf Malekith, just so that Jane Foster could take her role, after being forced into the role of Thor himself a few years prior when Axel Alonso was Marvel's EIC.

What's wrong with how this was done? It was cheap and superfluous to kill her off in the Defenders finale from 1986, though in fairness, they did wisely reverse this shortly after in Dr. Strange's solo book. It was much worse when Valkyrie was put to death in War of the Realms, where she was either stabbed to death with a sword in the back, or worse, decapitated.

The worst thing is that this was coming some time after Marvel had taken up a social justice Orwellian anti-sex agenda, yet jarring violence was still left intact. That's what really makes their steps abominable, and it hasn't changed much under C.B. Cebulski either.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Profile: Jet

Real name: Celia Windward
First appearance: Millennium #2, 1988

History: a black woman of Jamaican/British background, she was one of several people chosen to be part of the group of superhumans the Guardians of the GL Corps and Zamarons wanted to create (or, more specifically, Herupa Hando Hu and Nadia Safir), and was granted powers of electromagnetism, pulses and microwaves. She was a cast member of the brief New Guardians series in 1988-89, which was published under the short-lived "New Format" DC sub-label, and was co-created by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton.

Current status: uncertain.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrmination: an attack by a villain called the Hemo-Goblin, sent by the villainous and racist African government bigwig named Janwillem Kroef resulted in her being infected with AIDS (this story element was seemingly meant to address the problems faced at the time), and she fought during the Invasion crossover of 1989 to stop the alien attackers before succumbing altogether to the disease.

What's wrong with how this was done? I think the writers/editors of NG wrote themselves into a corner and got nowhere fast. Why not a story where she not only survived Invasion, but also got cured of what the Hemo-Goblin (who died soon after fighting the NG) infected her with? All they did by knocking her off was make it look like they had no faith in what was already turning out to be a failed spinoff of the Green Lantern mythos (I'm sure it didn't help that a villain like Floronic Man was turned into a cast member). The use of a bizarrely thick accent may not have helped either.

Interestingly enough, she was later seemingly revived in the mid-2000s for "One Year Later". But that was coming on the heels of such a repellent "event" as Identity Crisis, it ruined everything. Since then, she appears to have vanished yet again.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Profile: Saturn Girl

Saturn Girl

First appearance: Adventure Comics #247, April 1958
Real name: Imra Ardeen

History: the first lady to found the Legion of Super-Heroes in the Silver Age, her powers were mainly telepathy, and she hailed from the planet Titan, which was comprised of a race of telepaths. She traveled to Earth, and along the way, had to rescue their benefactor, billionaire R.J. Brande, from an assassination attempt, which led to their formation as a team.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: when the Legion was rebooted in 2005, at the time when DC was really going downhill, she had her vocal powers removed, and "spoke" through telepathy only. She became emotionally isolated, much colder in personality than before, and more introverted.

What's wrong with how this was done? IMO, it reflected some of the worst ideas from when Dan DiDio forced darkness on the DCU post-Identity Crisis, right down to lacking a sense of humor in what followed. That kind of approach does not have wide appeal. And it's unlikely to have improved at a time when Heroes in Crisis has once again brought back the worst of these notions.

The cast of the modern day DCU suffered badly from DiDio's mandates, but so too did the future inhabitants, and Imra's one example.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Profile: Sabra

Real name: Ruth Bat-Seraph

First appearance: Incredible Hulk #250, February 1981

History: Sabra was an Israeli police officer and Mossad agent born in the Jerusalem area whose son was murdered in an Islamic terrorist attack (this may have happened after she'd originally met the Hulk). She became a minor protagonist in the Marvel universe, and subsequently worked on occasion with the X-Men, since she herself apparently had mutant powers. Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema were her co-creators.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: in Contest of Champions from 1982, after the original Arabian Knight was made to look bad by initially refusing to work with a Jewess (his characterization was that troubling alright), she was made to look ridiculous herself by refusing a helping hand by Arabian Knight after she fell off his flying carpet during a battle with She-Hulk and Captain Britain as opponents. After 2000, she was subject to similar embarrassments in the Union Jack miniseries from 2006, where she sustained a shot at her eye, and the moral equivalence involving her dislike for the second Arabian Knight as much as the first made it worse.

There was even a story published in New Warriors #58-59 where she was brainwashed into sabotaging peace talks between Israel and Syria, which included a nasty attack on a Syrian hero called Batal.

What's wrong with how this was done? The superficial depiction of her mistrusting, hostile feelings against Arabic/Islamic characters without establishing or explaining properly why is just what seriously undermines those stories (no willingness to acknowledge the Koran's contents is a serious flaw in development). The plotline from NW in particular was very sloppy, and was left dangling with nobody commenting on her mental condition.

I don't think she was ever featured in the anthology stories from Marvel Comics Presents (1988-95), whereas Arabian Knight appeared in at least one, and this left me wondering if TPTB had no courage to use her, even in short stories? What good is that? Though in fairness, she did continue to make appearances in X-Men related material as the 90s came about.

Sometimes, from what I've researched of Sabra in the past, it all but seems like they victimized her through cowardice combined with disinterested, ill-informed approach to politics surrounding Israel, the Islamic world by extension, and characterization. Such superficial approaches never do anyone any favors.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Profile: Lori Lemaris

Lori Lemaris
First appearance: Superman #129, May 1959

History: Lori was a mermaid from Atlantean-related kingdoms (in this case, Tritonis) whom Superman fell in love with during the Silver Age. She was created by Wayne Boring and Bill Finger.

Current status: unknown

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: she was originally killed during Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, and later the Infinite Crisis crossover of 2005, she appeared to have been killed there too during the Spectre's insane outbursts, like quite a few other characters who were just slaughtered because the editors considered them worthless, selectively or otherwise.

What's wrong with how this was done? Totally disrespectful to a character who'd been a notable member of Superman's recurring cast of characters, and it makes no difference whether she's minor, that doesn't automatically justify such awful attitudes. Certainly not in the 2005 example, where it was even bloodier.

Lori had the potential to work quite well as a recurring character. Instead, she's one of quite a few in a corporate-owned franchise who've been done a terrible disfavor.