Thursday, December 28, 2006

Profile: Polaris

Lorna Dane, Polaris
First appearance: The X-Men in 1967

Current status: occasional member of the X-Men.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: when the onetime hack writer Chuck Austen was assigned to write Uncanny X-Men in 2003, he savaged her character with alarming heavy-handedness, writing her with some of the most unbearable dialect you’ve ever heard in comics. All this in order to put her at odds with the rest of the X-Men, alienate her, and even to ruin her relationship with Havok.

What’s wrong with how this was done? No realism whatsoever, just character assassination by a writer who clearly had no respect for the characters, and was only interested in money.

It’s fortunate that this has since been dropped and forgotten, but that doesn’t excuse the negligence they led to in the first place, which could have been avoided, and was one of the biggest farces in comics history.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Record: Geoff Johns

Whether or not it's been studied clearly, Johns too has more than a few noteworthy faults of his own that can be put on record here, as follows:
  • The use of Magenta in The Flash as an insane tool, and even the questionable characterization of Girder as a possible sex offender.
  • In the JSA storyline "Fair Play", Hawkgirl is chained as a hostage to be rescued in Roulette's most-dangerous-game settings. Umm, why exactly her and not Hawkman instead?
  • In The Flash #199, the neo-Reverse-Flash strikes Linda Park West to the ground with a vibrating shockwave, terminating her pregnancy until the time-warp effects in issues #224-225 change all that. Unfortunately, until we get to that point, we have to endure quite a few panels in which Linda is shown being assaulted, and prior to this story, Gorilla Grodd was tormenting Wally with images of his loved ones being tortured and put to death in the "Run Riot" storyline. This signals a serious problem Johns has of hammering the readers with filthy, rancid imagery, and probably thinking he can get away with it because it's not actually happening.
  • In The Flash #201, it's implied that Evan McCullogh, the second Mirror Master, has also committed a sex offense.
  • His story in The Flash #213 implying that the Turtle could be a child-molestor was a very serious misuse of a longtime character.
  • He went along with the whole Identity Crisis crap, even in the pages of JSA, with the first storyline stemming from that in 2004 being really painful (and autopsy on Sue). So too in fact was the second one a year later, with the Spectre, and the corrupted Jean Loring-as-Eclipso.
  • He wrote an awful story in Teen Titans featuring Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew, supposedly a commentary on Identity Crisis, but that’s no excuse for what could’ve been a delightful resurfacing of the Zoo Crew that could make people come away smiling. Instead, we’re hit in the face with an appalling and joyless story involving something like a murder mystery with animals in place of humans.
  • In Rogues' Revenge, he depicts Inertia, the main rival of Impulse/Bart Allen, slaying Josh Jackam, an infant who appeared earlier in the Flash. Must I point out how truly repugnant this is becoming when even infants are turned into sacrificial lambs?
So there we have a list, not a long one, but still a fairly sufficient one, detailing, even if only in small bits, some of the more wretched things that Johns did in his career to date, that reek of questionable violence and going overboard in character misuse.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Record: Brad Meltzer

But of course this big phony was going to be listed here sooner or later, as no matter how big or small his standing in the industry is, it would be foolish to leave him out. In practically but a single miniseries, he has managed to establish himself as a most serious offender. His list of offenses include:
  • Making virtually all of the women in Identity Crisis into one-dimensional lemmings, panicky, hysterical, insane, needing to be coddled and calmed, unable to defend themselves from assaults by males, and acting totally out of character in contrast to past storytelling.
  • Depicting Dr. Light out-of-character, and having him violate Sue Dibny in one of the grossest storylines ever, written in the ways of a bad fanfic.
  • Depicting Zatanna being punched in the stomach by Deathstroke, also out-of-character.
  • Depicting Deathstroke attacking Black Canary by…no, forget it. It’s just too sadistic.
  • Even male characters do not emerge unscathed. Flash is stabbed by Deathstroke, who also slices Hawkman’s wings, making him crash implausibly to the ground, and where exactly did Slade Wilson ever get microscopic eye-vision to spot the Atom with? As far as I know, Slade doesn’t have any power like that of Superman. Nor does it make sense that he could possibly nullify Green Lantern’s power ring, considering that it’s a personalized item, and that it responds to whomever’s wearing it on his finger.
  • Wonder Woman is turned into a puppet doing Green Arrow’s bidding (to find out info from Slipknot), which almost makes Oliver Queen seem like a pimp.
  • And was Jean Loring really sexually assaulted as told in the pages of a tabloid paper? That’s surely the most irritating thing of all about the end of the book, the question of if this is true or not, and sadly, it appears that, as told in the context of the book, she was. Most definitely offensive here was that she invited her ex-husband to hit her.
There are quite a few other very degrading details to be found in the book, but for now, I think this should do quite nicely. I urge everyone to do themselves a favor, and not do any for Mr. Meltzer. Don’t buy his books (a writer who’s on the bestseller list of the New York Times doesn’t rate very high in my book, as it is), neither novels nor comics, as he is not one who needs any fame nor fortune.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Profile: Omen

Lilith Clay, Omen
First appearance: Teen Titans #25 Vol. 1, 1970

Current status: dead

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day in 2003, she was slain by a Superman robot along with Donna Troy. Two years later, Brother Blood tried to exploit hers and other dead Titans’ souls, for the purpose of getting Lilith to be his newest Mother Mayhem. After being thwarted, Lilith’s and the other dead Titans’ souls just returned to the afterlife.

What’s wrong with how this was done? This is symbolic of the unpleasant trend of late where, instead of trying to develop characters and breathing new life into them, the writers and editors can only think of killing them off. Just because Lilith Clay, until now, never really had an exact origin offered to her, doesn’t justify terminating her.

To make matters worse, DC Comics has been trying to sweep the whole case of Lilith under the rug since then, and when the third and current volume of TT premiered in 2003, she wasn’t even mentioned there, in contrast to Donna Troy, who was, and who’s since been revived. Lilith, on the other hand, still remains in the grave.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Profile: Psylocke

Betsy Braddock, Psylocke
First appearance: 1976 in Captain Britain. She’s the twin sister of Brian Braddock, and at one point took up the role in his stead. In 1986, when she, along with kunoichi (female ninja) Kwannon, were captured by villainess Spiral, they had the essence of their bodies switched, and were even brainwashed as well, in one of the most bizarre storylines of the Bronze/Iron Age.

Current status: she has now joined the cast of Exiles. When Chris Claremont was assigned to write that book, she went where he did.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: she was violently assaulted by the villain named Slaymaster (whom her brother Brian killed to defend her), and was blinded for a time. In 1996, she was gashed by Sabretooth, and it was thanks to the Crimson Dawn that she was healed. In 2001, she was slain by a villain named Vargas, all so that writer Chris Claremont could replace her with an obvious clone (in fighting style anyway), the former Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, in the pages of X-Treme X-Men (now cancelled). In New Excalibur, when she vanishes into the dimension of the Exiles, it would seem as though nobody can remember her except her own brother Brian.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Two violent acts of assault inflicted upon her at the hands of two violent villains is just two acts too many, and the second one was certainly overkill. And that Claremont would replace her so pointlessly with another protagonist was also stupid. The way that the annoying Pete Wisdom makes a remark about an "imaginary sister" to Brian Braddock is equally annoying, since, while I'm not as prone to attack Chris Claremont as some other people are, that was still insulting, even if she's still alive in the next dimension.

Was there anything good to come out of this? Since then, she’s alive and well again, having been found alive and little the worse for wear in Uncanny X-Men, and she’s returned to her role as a crimefighter again. She’s lucky to have the nine lives or more of the cat she is!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Profile: Storm

Ororo Munroe, Storm
First appearance: Giant-Size X-Men #1, 1975

Current status: prominent field leader for the X-Men. She recently married T'Challa, alias the Black Panther, whom she'd met when she was in her early teens, and it had been told in later years that they'd been in love with each other in their younger years.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: she’d almost been raped when she was twelve and was trying to flee from Cairo, where she’d grown up most of her life. She killed her attacker with a knife in self-defense, but swore never to take another life. In the mid-80s, for about two years, she took on a ridiculous mohawk hairstyle. Later on, Henry Peter Gyrich, the Avengers’ unlikable UN liason, shot her with a Neutralizer device that drained her powers from her in Uncanny X-Men #185. It took until issue #227 for her to have her powers properly restored, when Forge, then her boyfriend, built an anti-Neutralizer to help reverse the effects.

There are also times when she’s gone insane from anguish, but which are too hard for me to find and compile together as examples just now.

What’s wrong with how this was done? That depends on what we’re talking about among the examples I’ve cited. In the case of her near-violation by a thug in North Africa, that looks like it was written in ways that make sense in terms of character development (better still, it wasn’t forced), though I will have to argue that, while I agree that killing is not something that most super-heroes should have to be confronted with as an option, I still have to wonder if Ororo’s vow not to kill again was really necessary. On the other hand, that Storm should turn to punk subculture with a mohawk haircut was decidedly forced and made little sense for a woman who’s much more classy than that. It was supremely silly, and doesn’t really serve in developing her character.

As for the time when she was de-powered, I think that was a shame, even if she could prove herself heroic without her powers, and goodness knows how many stories there are out there, plausible ones, mind you, where heroes prove themselves effective even without superpowers. But at least since then, she’s regained what she lost, and more!

Was there anything good to come out of this? Well, the examples that were written well when she first began her superheroine's career do involve character development for her. And, that she’s long since overcome some of the worst that was thrown her way. Thank goodness!