Thursday, June 22, 2006

Profile: Spoiler

Stephanie Brown, Spoiler
First appearance: 1992 in Detective Comics

Current status: presumed dead

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: after Chuck Dixon, her creator, left his job as a writer on the Batman line, including Robin, where she made many of her appearances, the title slowly began to turn into a train wreck. The following writers, when dealing with Stephanie’s character, seemed to be deliberately trying to write her in an unlikable mode, and the fact that Batman himself was shown as increasingly disapproving of her working as a vigilante did not help matters at all. It was in the Batman crossover, War Games, that she really got slapped in the face, when, shortly before it began, she was written as a temporary replacement for Tim Drake, the current Robin, in his own costume, and got “fired” by the Masked Manhunter after just two issues, then when she was bashed up in the crossover itself by Black Mask, who left her with an injured shoulder with a gun he’d initially given her as a challenge to shoot him, and when she didn’t, he took it back and shot her. Then, when she was in Dr. Leslie Thompkins’ medical ward, she appeared to have died there, and a couple months later in Detective Comics, it was said that Thompkins had allowed her to slowly pass away.

What’s wrong with how this was done? One of the worst things about Stephanie’s killing is that it was part of a gross editorial mandate, that also led to the death of Tim Drake’s father over in the Identity Crisis miniseries. Just like that notorious mini, the War Games story and what led up to it was also misogynist, depicting Stephanie as an irritating, annoying failure. Robin was not allowed to meet with her when she was being hospitalized, and then, after her presumed death, Batman did not even show any genuine sorrow, one more reason why his investigation that revealed that Leslie supposedly led to her death rang false and bore no impact.

I once found a most cynical message on Comic Boards in which a poster justified her death simply “because she was annoying.” What’s really laughable and insulting about that is the fact that this is a totally fictional character we’re talking about here, and if she was ever annoying, something that only really happened shortly before her death, it’s the fault of the writers.

Chuck Dixon himself argued some time ago that DC was killing off some of the characters he’d written for the Bat-world. With Stephanie’s victimization, I’d say that was by far the worst insult to one of the better Bat-writers of the past decade.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Profile: Gwen Stacy

Gwen Stacy
First appearance: December 1965 in Amazing Spider-Man

Current status: dead since 1973

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: are you thinking that what I mean is her being murdered by the Green Goblin when he knocked her off the George Washington Bridge in New York City? Nope. Guess again. It’s what was done to her about 30 years afterwards: she was made to look like some kind of slut, when J. Michael Straczynski came up with his bizarre storyline, “Sins Past”, in Amazing Spider-Man in 2004. She supposedly had sex with Norman Osborn, and this led to her becoming pregnant with twin children with some powers of their own, and who looked almost like Gwen, and Osborn himself. A very, VERY stupid and offensive storyline, it was way out of character, right down to the idea that Osborn would actually be willing to get involved with a girl much younger than himself, even if she was 20 years old at the time of her death.

What’s wrong with how this was done? It’s desecrating the grave of a character long dead, and who, even in death, has long been a most appreciated character, and another reason why Spider-Man is a dedicated crime-fighter, and why Peter Parker keeps his ID secret. Gwen and her memory should be allowed to rest in peace, but the political correctness of today would rather persecute her even in death, by implying that she was asking for it, and cheapening what’s otherwise thought to be a well-written storyline from the Bronze Age.

It’s also one of the many reasons why, as of recent, it’s become almost impossible to read the flagship Spidey titles, or anything Spidey related in comics today.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Profile: Looker

Emily (Lia) Briggs, Looker
First appearance: Batman and the Outsiders #25, September 1985

Current status: she was last seen in Infinite Crisis #7, and it's unclear whether she survived.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in 1993, during the time that the Outsiders had been revived, Lia was bitten by a vampire and turned into one herself. As far as I know, she may still be a human vampire, and still does have a bite mark on her neck.

What’s wrong with how this was done? As much as I admire the work of Mike W. Barr, if he thought he was being clever with that step, he wasn’t. It was pointless, and, as was the case with Halo, just a mere step in deconstructing the Outsiders team.

Was there anything good to come out of this? Only the fact that she’s still more or less alive (or is she?), and it’s thus possible to make some much needed repairs. She later left the vampire coven she'd spent time with, becoming a TV host on a fictionalized program called "The Scene" along with Vicki Vale and Linda Park West. So the question now is – will she be turning up in the pages of any DC title in the forseeable future? Because after what happened in Infinite Crisis, it's to be wondered if she was given the shaft again.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Profile: Halo

Violet Harper, Halo
First appearance: Batman and the Outsiders #1, 1983

Current status: it’s complicated. It was an alien being called an Aurikle that revived her to begin with when she was downed in Markovia before Batman found her, and now, her own body may be possessed by another being, while the Aurikle has since taken up residence in another host body (hey, I told you it was complicated!)

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: Violet Harper was all but killed in 1993, when Mike W. Barr relaunched the Outsiders one more time, and during which time he all but deconstructed the team (after Geo-Force married in 1995, they disbanded).

What’s wrong with how this was done? What was the point? They couldn’t have thought of what else to do with Violet instead of slaying her, and then writing her body as taken over by another being? It was needless, and altogether redundant.

Any chance the Aurikle which was hosted inside her could possisbly revive her again?