Thursday, March 29, 2007

Profile: Domino

First appearance: X-Force #11, June 1992. Curious thing about her was that the overrated Rob Liefeld was the artist who co-created her at the time, along with Fabian Nicieza. And another interesting thing about her was that, shortly before she officially debuted, there was an imposter who appeared before her! (in New Mutants #98, the series that preceded X-Force.) Her exact name isn’t certain, but at times, she’s been identified as either Neena Thomas or Beatrice Thurman, the latter used when once married to a man named Milo Thurman.

Current status: still a member of both X-Force and another team called Six-Pack.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: in 1996-97, in the "Operation: Zero Tolerance" crossover in a lot of the X-titles, she was taken prisoner by the meta-human villain Bastion, and he and his cohorts tortured her, which affected her mentally and physically.

What’s wrong with how this was done? It was going overboard. It was sadistic. That’s the best that can be said about it.

She was also once brainwashed into attempting to kill Cable, her occasional boyfriend. It really wasn’t called for either.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Profile: Donna Troy

Donna Troy, aka Wonder Girl, Troia and Darkstar
First appearance: The Brave and the Bold, 1965. She was a founding member of the Teen Titans and first female member. When she first debuted, she was the adopted sister of pre-Crisis Wonder Woman, though their meetings and team-ups were rare at the time. Later on, in 1988, she got a new origin, where she’d been raised by the Titans of Myth during her childhood.

Current status: not entirely certain just now. She’d taken Diana of Themyscira’s place as WW last year in the third volume of her series, but that was largely botched due to writer Allen Heinberg’s astounding delays as scriptwriter, which led to his arc going otherwise unfinished. You could say that she’s become something of a counselor anew for the latest incarnation of the TT, and has certainly been getting involved again with her onetime boyfriend, Kyle Rayner, former Green Lantern.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: it’s odd, but, during a few of her first appearances under Bob Haney’s pen, she got knocked unconscious a few times by the crooks. Her initial premise as the adopted sister of Wonder Woman being erased and replaced by a different storyline was probably questionable, but what was really nasty was the time when, as Team Titans was beginning, she was pregnant with a child who in the future would become Lord Chaos, and had even come back in time to ensure that he’d be born. It was a really disgusting ordeal, both for her and the audience. The whole matter was solved, and her child became a normal one, but later on, fate would again raise its heavy hand. Her marriage to Terry Long fell apart and he took sole custody of their son.

Donna later had to undergo John Byrne’s disastrous run on Wonder Woman (circa issues #131-136) where he tried to rewrite her origin as being a mirror projection of Diana herself who’d been kidnapped as part of a plot to strike at Hyppolyta by making her daughter the one to suffer by being born into lives that would end in tragedy. And then, Terry and their son died in a car crash. Then, in 2003, she was seemingly killed by a Superman robot in Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day, one of the worst miniseries ever written, by Judd Winick, before being brought back to life again in The Return of Donna Troy in 2005.

What’s wrong with how this was done? The story that took place in Team Titans was awful, and almost reeked of sensationalism. The attempted rewrite in the latter part of Byrne’s run on WW was a grave error, because Donna, in contrast to Diana, was always meant to be born perfectly human, and that’s what made her work as a character, and also how her personality was built together. And as for the breakup of her marriage to Terry, that too was pretty forced. But it wasn’t Marv Wolfman’s fault. It was different writers who’d been assigned to write the story in which Donna and Terry split up, and also for when her former husband and her son were killed off, apparently because this is what was needed in order for her to become a single, more available girl again without too many obstacles to being an adventuress. And the miniseries written by Winick where she was momentarily killed off was very poorly written, depicting her incompetantly and not featuring a genuine enemy for the heroes to combat.

The story done at Byrne’s time has since been discarded, and the background written by Wolfman and George Perez in 1988-89 has been more or less restored. And her “death” in Graduation Day, as mentioned, has since been reversed, and she’s returned to being a notable crimefighter again.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Profile: Hawkgirl/Woman

First appearance: since this entry features at least three ladies to carry the mantle, it’ll feature the place of debut for all of them as well. Sheira Saunders first appeared in Flash Comics #1 in 1940, and became Hawkgirl two years later, becoming possibly the first woman in comics to take up a role originated by a male protagonist. The second one, Shayera Thal, first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #34 in 1961, and after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, her post-Crisis appearance was in 1989’s Hawkworld miniseries. The third one, Kendra Saunders, grandniece of the original, first appeared in JSA: Secret Files in 1999. She’s said to now be inhabited by the original Hawkgirl, for reasons I’ll try to give below.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: in Action Comics in 1987, in a story written by John Byrne, she was almost completely ineffective against the villains invading a spaceship, and was even smacked across the face by Hawkman (was it an imposter?) during the story. In 1994, during the Zero Hour crossover, Sheira was killed during a kind of merging of the two Hawkmans. (Who were later sent into a limbo-like dimension, where Katar Hol gave up his life in 2001 so that Carter Hall could return.) It was later, as revealed in the pages of JSA, that Sheira had been reincarnated within her own grandniece, who’d tried to commit suicide at age 17.

Kendra herself and her mother had been near-victims of an attempted rape by two racist police officers in their native west Texas, as told in the Hawkman series that spun out of JSA’s Return of Hawkman story. In the JSA: Fair Play story, she ended up in the mere role of a hostage, drugged unconscious and chained to a wall in a makeshift jungle from where Hawkman and Sand could rescue her, and did not play a significant part at all.

What’s wrong with how this was done? The Byrne story from 1987 was simply dreadful, one of the examples of negative attitudes that turns up in his work of yore as a writer. Perhaps Shiera’s de-facto killing off was needless too, just like a lot of Zero Hour itself, which seemed to exist only for the sake of killing off various JSA veterans such as the original Atom and Dr. Mid-Nite. And Kendra's depiction as a pawn rather than a player in Fair Play was pretty lamebrained too. Here, just when they had a chance to show how talented a young lady she could be in figuring her way out of a danger, they turned her into a mere hostage instead.

Was there anything good to come out of this? The background story for how Kendra came to be was well handled, but Rags Morales being the artist of Identity Crisis all but puts a cloud over it – since his role in that miniseries damages his credibility.

In fact, this reminds me of another very glaring flaw in IC – where was Sheira herself when Dr. Light violated Sue Dibny in the JLA space station in orbit? That she herself was absent and that Hawkman may have kept the incident a secret from her is one of the most insulting and offensive things about the miniseries.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Record: Chuck Austen

Here it is, just the entry we could use, a little listing of some of the worst writing acts of a since forgotten hack writer whom both Marvel and DC had the gall to hire to write some of their most high profile books, how about that! Austen, as far as I know, was an animation producer for King of the Hill in the past decade, and surprisingly enough, he even penciled a few of the issues of the otherwise abortive Elektra series that ran under the now defunct Marvel Knights label. But it’s as a scriptwriter that he really played foul. For example:
  • He made Polaris into one of the most annoying characters in Uncanny X-Men. Really irritating dialect, and for a comic book, alarming too.
  • He wrote an affair between Archangel and Husk, a very questionable act too, since Husk, if memory serves, is underage (around 16-17 years old), and so, this was really going overboard.
  • He was even allowed to write Action Comics, probably the last insult to his record, but still one of the worst, and wrote a sappy rekindled affair between Clark Kent and Lana Lang. He may have even written a few issues under the pen name of “J.D. Finn” to avoid further embarrassment.
Austen is now gone, and if forgotten, it’s probably just as well. As a writer, toiling away with his half-hearted writing between 2002-2004, he was unusually bombastic, and didn’t even try to hide his contempt for the audience. He did at least one interview with Newsarama in which he sunk into victimhood, one of the biggest mistakes for a writer today to make, and he sure won’t be missed.