Friday, January 26, 2007

Profile: Magik

Illyana Rasputina, Magik
First appearance: She was first seen as a child in Giant-Size X-Men #1, but her first actual appearance was Uncanny X-Men #160. She’s the younger sister of Piotr Rasputin (Colossus), and like him is also a native of Russia. (In English, her last name does not include the letter A at the end, but that appears to be how they spelled it not just for her, but even for her mother!) She was a member of New Mutants and a good friend of Kitty Pryde.

Current status: dead

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: held captive by the villainous Arcade and his assistant Miss Locke to use as a pawn in attacking the X-Men, held captive by a sorceror named Belasco in the Otherplace (Limbo) dimension, where he turned part of her soul demonic, used it to conjure up bloodstones, and even made her look part vampiric before she finally beat him in a battle and drove him out of his own realm, regaining her human form again. However, she later became infected with the Legacy virus, and died from it, which had the effect of sending Colossus over the edge and into Magneto’s Acolytes for a time.

What’s wrong with how this was done? It’s the fact that they killed her off that is. Instead of developing her character full time, they chose to kill her off, all for the purpose of a storyline that focuses on the effects this had on her brother, who for a time turned criminal. Another story wherein the female’s death serves as a catalyst for a male, instead of one where you can focus on the female’s personality, a much better idea.

And while her brother has been revived from a death of almost four years (in Astonishing X-Men, written by Joss Whedon), she still remains in the grave.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Record: Grant Morrison

He’s overrated, and his criticism of Frank Miller on Newsarama was in poor taste, one more reason why his work will do quite well for scrutiny. So, what did he do that makes the list here? It’s mostly from his take on X-Men that this comes from.
  • He regurgitated the Phoenix farrago, had Cyclops utter a nerve-wracking sentence as if Jean were the Phoenix, warning her that she could “lose control” again, then started giving Jean Phoenix-style powers again under the claim that it was a “rogue manifestation”. Boring! Also uncalled for.
  • We get a stereotypical villainess in Cassandra Nova (and why did she have the codename of minor superhero Richard Ryder?). If you don’t know how she sliced a scientist named Trask to death, you won’t want to know even now. Filthy!
  • Morrison’s depiction of Magneto was one of the most obnoxious, crass abuses of an already misused character I’ve ever seen. It’s bad enough that Magneto may have caused tons of deaths in the early 1990s when he disrupted the earth’s magnetic fields, but this was going way too far.
  • At the end of his run, Morrison then “kills off” Jean, while turning her into the Phoenix again. The scene then shifts into a future time where some astronauts on the moon find a “phoenix egg”. Is that supposed to imply all hell breaks loose? And Cyclops seems to disavow his love for her too.
As far as his work on X-Men is concerned, I don’t like it at all. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that some comics writers from Britain (Morrison, Millar, Jenkins) are not really to my tastes (2000 AD was never my cup of tea either), but rather, that his whole idea of what mutants, metahumans, aliens or any other kind of lifeform are supposed to behave like or be like is numbingly wrongheaded. The same goes for his regurgitating of storylines we don’t need anymore.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Record: Kevin Smith

Once upon a time, I wrote upon a message board where another poster said that, while Kevin Smith may be a good filmmaker (well, I guess that can be debated), he’s a pretty awful comic book writer. And after some of the examples I’m about to give here, I’m beginning to wonder the same thing.
  • Smith began the second volume of Daredevil that ran under the now defunct Marvel Knights label in 1998, and in issue #5, Karen Page came back into Matt Murdock’s life, tricked into thinking she fell ill with HIV only to be killed by Bullseye, instead of installing new life into her as a supporting character.
  • In Green Arrow vol. 2, he starts off his story with a crime kingpin about to sodomize a young girl (Mia?), before Oliver Queen comes in to save the day. Pretty excessive, if I do say so myself.
  • And then, most notorious, and most sloppy of all, for more reasons than one, was his Black Cat miniseries, which got stalled halfway through in 2002, but not before we were left with a cliffhanger leaving us wondering if a gangster is going to rape poor Felicia, and then, when it finally picked up almost two years later(!), even if she evaded that repugnant fate, we still get hit by an artificial retcon claiming that Felicia Hardy took to becoming the Black Cat because she’d been raped in college! Ahem. She took to becoming the Black Cat in 1979 – and initially, a burglar – because she was inspired by her late father’s own criminal career as a professional thief. The miniseries has since been written off by many in the audience, with good reason.
Kevin Smith, clearly, does not have the talent it takes to write a good comic book, let alone a good movie, and I should hope that the comics companies won’t hire him again, no matter how many comics his name alone can sell.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Record: Rags Morales

Even artists have their share of faults and blame (someday, maybe I’ll let you know what I think of Dick Dillin for 2 or 3 nigh-offensive panels he drew in Justice League of America in the early 1970s), and in Mr. Morales’ case, he certainly hasn’t done himself much good by taking one positive item he drew, and then damaging his credibility upon that with another. What exactly am I referencing here? Well, that’ll come up in just a moment:
  • In Hawkman Vol. 4, we get the background of Kendra Saunders, current Hawkgirl, who, when she was around 13 years old, had been out with her mother Trina in the west Texas countryside where her mother, a skilled landscape painter, was spending the day working on her talent, when two racist patrolmen came along and took the two of them hostage at gunpoint, with the intention of raping Mrs. Saunders out of a hate crime (Kendra and her mother are of Hispanic background). Kendra fought back against one of the two policemen, whose name was Nedal, killing the second one, Darryl Jenkins, who came running up to them (and may have grazed the first with his own weapon). What made this storyline work was the fact that you did get a female viewpoint here, via Kendra herself as she reflects upon that ugly moment in her life, and it was neither excessive nor sensationalized in execution. Plus, Morales even drew it in black and white.
  • But then, Morales, as the artist of the above example, went along and ruined his credibility on that by drawing one of the ugliest, most poorly written examples of molestation in Identity Crisis, Dr. Light victimizing Sue Dibny, that in sharp contrast to the prior example, bore no female viewpoint whatsoever. Not only that, but he even told the AP Wire, "If nobody really cared, that's an insult to us. . . If they hate it, that's great. If they love it, that's great. But if they are like, 'Ehhh. . .So what? No big deal,' those are the ones that would bother us." Meaning in other words that Morales doesn’t want a following of fandom? It would almost seem that way.
This may not be a really long line of examples so far, but, it can serve as an important example of how a artist or a writer does something credible the one moment and then tosses it out the window, splattering all over the pavement, the next. As of this writing, either I haven’t heard of anything Mr. Morales has worked upon lately, or I just haven’t cared enough to pay any attention. Not that it matters, really. But I figure he does deserve to be written off and shunted into obscurity for being as rude as he was in his actions.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Profile: Jean DeWolff

Jean DeWolff
First appearance: Marvel Team-Up #48. She was a NY police captain and frequent guest star for a time in Spider-Man’s adventures, proving a most helpful ally many times.

Current status: dead

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: she was terminated by her ex-lover Stan Carter, alias Sin-Eater.

What’s wrong with how this was done? I think it was a case of needlessly tossing out yet another cast member of Spidey’s world with potential. Jean had some very good moments, and why not give her some more?

Was there anything good to come out of this? That it may have had some dramatic impact and value to it. The story can be found today compiled in trade format, in Amazing Spider-Man: The Death of Jean DeWolff, co-authored by Peter David and Rich Buckler. It was revealed that her feeling towards Spidey may have been even warmer than what she may have usually indicated.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Profile: Ice

Tora Olafsdotter, Ice (also Ice Maiden 2)
First appearance: Justice League International #12, April 1988. She was the daughter of a king of a tribe of magical ice people in Norway, and at one point she even took up the longer name of a predecessor, Ice Maiden, who’d first worked as the Global Guardians’ representative from Norway before her, that being Sigrid Nansen. She was also loved by Guy Gardner.

Current status: turned up alive, in a state of suspended animation, in the pages of Birds of Prey.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: she was killed while turning against the Overmaster, who’d offered her a power-up, in Justice League Task Force #14, July 1994.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Apparently, it was all part of an editorial mandate, something which, in fact, had originally been intended back around the time when she debuted. But when she started catching on with readers and received a much-deserved following, that’s what kept DC editorial from killing her off initially. Unfortunately, in 1994, the fate first intended caught up with her.

Mark Waid later said that regretted killing her off. But this may have just been a few years afterwards that he came to that conclusion. Given that this is comics, it may not be too late to fix these mistakes, but even so, he should’ve known better, as should DC editorial. And given that he’s been going along with the Identity Crisis debacle since 2004, it’s become hard now to credit his statement from the late 90s about what he did to Ice.

Was there anything good to come out of this? Now, the death has been reversed in Birds of Prey, where she turned up alive in a suspended animation storage.