Thursday, July 27, 2006

Profile: Atom 2

Ray Palmer, Atom 2
First appearance: Showcase #34, 1961

Current status: in limbo, to where he’s vanished since having been disgraced by the current overlords of the company that owns him in Identity Crisis.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: Ray Palmer may have long been a very neglected character, and DC may have shown a lot of disinterest in trying even to put together a miniseries in which to honor him, but with Identity Crisis, they really crossed the line. Besides the part in the third issue where he was shot by Deathstroke, who was given an inexplicable Superman-like X-ray spec in his one eye, he was additionally disgraced by having his ex-wife Jean Loring framed as a murderess, and it was even implied in a way that he actually told her all the other superheroes secret identities, which not only rings false, but was also disrespectfully framing him as a complete jerk who stabbed his own fellow crimefighters in the back. The whole insult was capped by having Ray make his exit while dressed in the very same costume allegedly worn by Jean.

What’s wrong with how this was done? It was truly disrespectful of one of the most underrated of DC Comics’ superheroes, tarnishing his image for the sake of political correctness in the worst of ways, and the part where he's shown wearing the costume Jean supposedly wore was truly insulting. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people, following Ray’s guest appearances in Hawkman in 2002-3, thought it would lead to a new starring role in his own solo adventures, even in a miniseries, and even a reunion with Jean. And I also wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of them were shocked to see it lead to this instead.

In point of fact, what was incredibly dishonest about recent developments in the DCU is that it looked as though it would lead to and add up to something in a plausible way, and instead, the audience, like the characters themselves, was slapped in the face with an editorially mandated storyline that made no sense and did little more than to tear down the heroic ideals that the DCU was founded upon in the beginning.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Profile: Mary Jane Watson-Parker

Mary Jane Watson-Parker
First appearance: approximately late 1965 in Amazing Spider-Man, although she may not have been seen in direct view. It was in mid-1966 when she made her first actual appearance in ASM #42, with the now famous scene where she tells Peter Parker, “Face it, tiger! You’ve just hit the jackpot!” The daughter of estranged/divorced parents, she was a teen woman’s libber, or just a very independent girl who thought for herself, and did her best to rise from the blue-collar existence she first grew up in around New York City by achieving a successful career in acting on stage and in supermodeling.

Current status: married to our friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man since 1987. However, as of December 2007, Marvel EIC Joe Quesada has de facto annulled that marriage out of a peculiar bias.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: editorial bias, you could say. It would seem as though, out of nowhere, there came some anti-MJ bias, by the writers/editors and even by some alleged Spider-Fans, that’s led in recent years to her being subjected to misuse by the writing and editing staff at Marvel. In the Clone Saga of 1994-96, when it's implied that Peter Parker was the clone, he knocks MJ against a wall, causing her to bleed badly, before running out of the room. In the late 90s, she was used less and less in the storylines, and her personality was written as annoying more than a few times. But perhaps the worst misuse was when she was implicated as a liar in the Sins Past storyline concocted by J. Michael Strazcynski in ASM in 2004, a most embarrassing storyline that seems to have been (hopefully) dropped for now. And in late 2007, following the awful repercussions of Civil War, her marriage to Peter Parker has been de facto obliterated.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Regarding her personality, while she may have been written as a cynic in her early years, the fact is that, when it was done at the time, it had what to do with the kind of unhappy background she came from, certainly when looked upon in context of the explanations given as she was developed, hence, the way that the writers (Howard Mackie, Strazcynski) made her grating later on was forced. The Sins Past garbage was even worse. But the aggravated assault on her in during the Clone Saga is probably the most offensive attack on her by far. Terry Kavanaugh, shame on you.

It would seem as though Marvel EIC Joe Quesada and company are trying once again, in the wake of the Civil War crossover, to get rid of her. This hopefully won't last long, certainly not if those who care about Spidey’s world do their best to take action, but, it’s still very irritating and has caused considerable damage to the Spider-World.

I sometimes wonder if, much as I do like the works of Roger Stern, that he might’ve led to some of the “no-MJ” mentality, since he once said in 1988 that he disliked the Spider-marriage. But really, there is nothing wrong with Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s getting married, since, it’s all part of their development as characters just as it is in many other books where couples get married, and of the Spider-world as well.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Profile: Jean Grey

Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl)
First appearance: 1963 in The X-Men

Current status: is she dead? Is she MIA? Or is she in limbo? I don’t know.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: it would seem as though she’d been turned into the Phoenix in 1979, but that was revealed to have been an imposter in 1985 in Fantastic Four, who’d put Jean in a state of suspended animation beneath the sea, where she was found by Reed Richards and company. Unfortunately, it did not end there. As the years went by, some writers, including Chris Claremont himself, either attempted to undo this, to baffle and bewilder the audience, or to mimic, rip off, imitate and regurgitate this story ad nauseam. Then, in 2003, writer Grant Morrison seemed to have killed her off, and without any genuine emotion or feeling for Jean either.

What’s wrong with how this was done? I think that the way Marvel’s writers kept boomeranging back on the whole mishmash ad nauseum when they didn’t have to is what really made me feel repulsed by the whole idea. But then, was it ever really anything good to begin with? There have been only so many stereotypes of pretty girls committing evil crimes, etc, in literature, that if you ask me, the Phoenix saga, as it’s since come to be known as, was a botch job from the very start.

I for one certainly didn’t ask for things like that, and will never understand why those who do, would. As for Jean’s current state and whereabouts, by now, to repair all that damage done to her could take an epoch.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Profile: Leslie Thompkins

Leslie Thompkins
First appeared: Detective Comics #457, March 1976

Current status: accused of letting Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, die in the War Games crossover by not giving her any medical attention, for the purpose of teaching Batman a lesson about being a vigilante/superhero, and left the country.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Considering that Leslie, a professional doctor, has long respected the Caped Crusader’s role as a crimefighter, that’s one thing that shows why it doesn’t make any sense. Then, there’s the part where she tried to get Batman to shoot her dead, because she didn’t have the courage to do it herself, which also made no sense and was definitely bizarre and out of the blue, and, most offensive of all, it repeats the same sick manner in which Jean Loring was pegged as a killer by taking the blame away from a male character and heaping it all on a female instead.

If the writers thought they were being clever by shocking and surprising anyone with such a sick storyline, they only showed why surprises and shock are not good storytelling techniques and gimmicks anymore.