Thursday, October 26, 2006

Profile: Mockingbird

Bobbi Morse, Mockingbird
First appearance: Astonishing Tales #6, June 1971

Current status: dead

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: at the end of West Coast Avengers in 1993, where she’d been a longtime member, she was shot in the back and murdered by Mephisto. Hawkeye/Clint Barton, her husband for several years, became a widower.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Yet another pointless offing of a female character, and what really made it bombastic was that, as far as I know, Mephisto had never been interested in actually killing anyone before. Put another way, it wasn't like him to try and take anyone's life for real.

Since then, there’s been one story in which she turned up as a corpse in a plot conceived by the Grim Reaper to destroy the Avengers. Yet, she remains dead, with no clear way to tell if she’ll ever be revived to full life again or not.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Profile: Pepper Potts

Virginia "Pepper" Potts
First appearance: Tales of Suspense #45, 1963. She was executive secretary for Tony Stark/Iron Man and his business firms. She’d been married to another of his employees, Harold “Happy” Hogan for a time, but later divorced.

Current status: working in other businesses today, she still maintains some connections with Tony Stark.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: the only storyline I know of where Pepper was given the PC treatment was in Iron Man #52-54, when she was brutally beaten by a woman of Muslim background (!) from a Chechnya-like country named Ayisha with whom Tony had a brief affair with at one point, who fell victim to the effects of one of Tony’s own inventions, a “living” form of armor, and because it was preventing her from maintain any proper life, and also making it hard for her to commit suicide, so she sought to try and push him over the edge by going to Pepper’s house and assaulting her, and, worst of all, terminating a pregnancy Pepper had in the story.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Aside from the fact that the Religion of Peace was being used as a whitewashed plot device in all of this, Pepper herself was also being used as a plot device, with the notorious cliché of an ill-fated pregnancy also figuring into the script. The story with Ayisha was also abandoned pretty quickly, as this all turned out to be an excuse for Tony to fight a son of the Mandarin who didn’t even don the electro-rings that made the Mandarin the challenge he was to begin with, and then to unmask his secret identity, an idea that was all but subsequently discarded. Presumably, it was also written so that Pepper and Tony could rekindle their relationship yet again, but Mike Grell, who’d written the whole quagmire, was taken off the book about a year afterwards, which is just as well.

With the way he wrote this, Grell proved even less convincing as a writer than when he wrote Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters. Pepper deserves much better than what Grell wrote in Iron Man.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Record: Ron Marz

Ron Marz – talented writer or just a hack for hire? You decide. But while his work at CrossGen was good while it lasted, there’s still a few things during his career since the early 90s that are worth questioning, and one act that most definitely requires scrutiny. Here are a few examples as follows:
  • In 1992, in Silver Surfer #75, he killed off the Human Torch’s onetime girlfriend, Frankie Raye, who’d become a herald for Galactus several years earlier.
  • In 1994, he took the task that DC gave him – he turned Hal Jordan into a villain (Parallax) and slew the GL Corps, including female members like Arisia.
  • His most notorious step, and the one that serves as the leading example over on WIR, was the murder of Kyle Rayner’s original girlfriend Alex at the hands of Major Force, who slaughtered her and then stuffed her corpse into the home refridgerator in 1996. And the big defeat in all this was that Kyle did not have the guts kill the villain himself. Instead, Guy Gardner had to do it (or so he thought he had). If it was supposed to be part of his character development, it failed miserably, especially after, instead of creating a new, rank-and-file citizen as his new gal pal, they just resorted to a character who’s already well known – Jenny-Lynn Hayden, aka Jade, daughter of Golden Age GL Alan Scott. And Kyle still came across as a whiny wimp long afterwards.
  • To add insult to injury, when Marz came back to DC after his stint as a writer/editor for CrossGen in 2004, he broke up Kyle and Jade in a most appalling manner, running the gauntlet of character assassination, and then, Kyle, coming to visit his mother’s house, found what appeared to be a repeat of the murder of his girlfriend 8 years before, by an inexplicably returned Major Force. Though MF said in the last issue of Green Lantern #181, Vol. 3, that it was just a mannequin, it makes no difference, especially after the whimpery resolution, with Kyle initially giving MF his power ring and only briefly afterwards coming to his senses and seizing it back and crippling the supervillain with it. The worst thing about this is how it almost all seems to imply that Alex wasn’t worth it to begin with. And that almost sums up the biggest problem with Kyle Rayner himself to begin with – they practically built him into a wimpy whiner of a character who was never properly developed, and whose book was abused by one succeeding writer, Judd Winick, for spouting his own biased views.
  • Even at CrossGen, there was one thing Marz did that I have to take issue with: in this case, something he said in an interview on Sojourn featured in the 2nd trade collection when he said that Mordath’s troll-general going back to his village to help euthanize his mother was “very human”. I’m no expert on Dr. Kevorkian, but the very idea of euthanasia just sickens me personally, and I think that was very irresponsible of Marz to say that.
Ron Marz is definitely not without his high points in writing, but the above, to say the least, are not among them. If anything, they certainly do put a shadow of doubt on some of his career by implying that he was just a hired hack due to the fact that he'd wiped out Hal Jordan and the Corps plus a supporting lady, and all because the company wanted him to, so he did it their behest. Well, so it seems.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Profile: Starfire

Koriand'r, Starfire
First appearance: DC Comics Presents #26, 1980

Current status: looks like she’s joined Adam Strange on a space adventure!

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: following her sister Komand’r’s vicious attempt to put her to death in a gladiator-like battle, and betrayal of their home planet Tamaran, Koriand’r was sold into slavery, abused by the many slavemongers who kept custody of her, before being, along with the evil sister who’d betrayed her, subjected to an experiment by a race of alien scientists who performed a light-energy experiment upon the two of them that gave the two sisters their starbolt powers. In 1993, in the 100th issue of New Titans, Raven disrupted the wedding planned between her and Nightwing, injecting an influence into Starfire that made her decide to take a flight off into space.

What’s wrong with how this was done? There was nothing wrong with how Koriand’r’s origin was done, but there was with how the botched wedding was. It was just a needlessly nasty way of avoiding the possibility of having Dick Grayson and the princess of Tamaran tie the knot.

Was there anything good to come out of this? In the case of Starfire’s origin, it’s what helped build her character, as a girl who’d been violated, yet maintained a thick skin and managed to keep an optimistic viewpoint as the New Teen Titans and other DC superheroes gave her new hope on earth. And, it helped establish many stories involving her home planet, Tamaran.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Profile: Lana Lang

Lana Lang
First appearance: Superboy #10 Vol. 1, 1950

Current status: she’d been married to Pete Ross, the vice president of the DCU’s United States, for a couple years, but their marriage later became a shambles.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: there aren’t many I know of that Lana went through, certainly not as many as Lois Lane during the Silver Age (in fact, no, I don’t know of anything so far from around that time). But, in 1987, in Superman #2, she was captured by a fluke by two of Lex Luthor’s goons while they were trying to search the Kent farmhouse estate to see if there were any clues there that could tell who the Man of Steel was, and while in the clutches of Luthor back in Metropolis, she had the stuffing beaten out of her, all in order to get Superman into action to confront Luthor and his gang about this. In the Lost Hearts storyline from 2003, she’d fled from the vice presidential residence to look for an Asian teenager called Girl-13 who’d asked for her help, and while spending her time down in the gutters of D.C, she was taken in by a porn pimp who hoped to exploit her. And, there was even a storyline a few years ago in Action Comics where you could say she came under the exploitive pen of Chuck Austen, a would-be writer who’s now been forgotten with good reason, in a very poorly written story in which she and Clark try another fling with each other.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Referring to her assault at the hands of Luthor’s gang, that was all in order to give Clark Kent, who, at least in the post-Crisis era, had made her one of the first people to know his secret ID as the Man of Steel, and hardly any developments for her, if at all, a leading problem with some of the works of writer/artist John Byrne from around that time. And the Austen-scripted manure-fest was just typical of the incredibly insulting portfolio that he put out within just three years, about the time in which he lasted in the comics medium.

Was there anything good to come out of this? In the case of the assault in Superman #2, I guess it’s that Lana recovered pretty well in the aftermath. In the case of Lost Hearts, what works there is that Clark, when rescuing Lana from the pimp, gave her a wooden board and told her to let him have it, to show that she’s no pushover. And that, if you ask me, is much better writing.

Other than this, there’s little I know about what Lana’s history is like, so I cannot provide much further data.