Thursday, April 19, 2007

Record: Dan DiDio

Now, let’s run a little record about an editor’s errors. What can be said about the mistakes that an editor makes in what he does? It’s what they allowed to happen, to be written and published, that counts. We’ll start first with DiDio, as he does seem to have quite a few very hideous things to shoulder blame for as editor-in-chief of DC Comics, which include:
  • The defeatist storyline in Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day, where Donna Troy was killed, even if only temporary, by a Superman robot that was unleashed by a female robot named Indigo (get it? Judd Winick’s story there has a woman to blame for the death of another!). Lilith Clay was also killed in this storyline, and since then, DiDio’s staff has been blatantly sweeping that under the rug.
  • Allowing a certain writer (Brad Meltzer) to abuse just about everyone and anyone in the pages of Identity Crisis, simply because he’s a “high profile novelist”, to make it almost entirely pro-masculine in its POV, and some of the most shoddy contempt for DC’s female cast ever.
  • Allowing for another writer (Bill Willingham) to write up an equally hostile-to-women story in the Batman x-over War Games, where Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler, was beaten to death, and even to further the insult by implying that nurse Leslie Thompkins killed Stephanie to teach Batman a lesson about the dangers of crimefighting! DiDio also allowed Willingham to write the vicious Day of Vengeance, which featured yet more degradation of Jean Loring for the sake of degradation.
  • Allowing for still more atrocious depictions of Dr. Light in the pages of Green Arrow, where the villain blabbers on and on about the “joys of rape”, and Ollie does not even seem to rebut any of it.
  • Letting Geoff Johns write up a scene in Infinite Crisis where Phantom Lady is stuck to death with a spear by Deathstroke in a show of “violence porn.” But then, we all know how Johns is a “hot” writer, so no interfering with his work, right?
There are some more examples, but for now, this should do quite well as an example of what bad things an editor of any high rank has allowed to happen on his watch. DiDio is a most dishonest man who’s been unwilling to answer any of the charges of misogyny leveled against the company, and certainly not honestly. For that, he does not deserve to be in his position.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Profile: Hellcat

Patsy Walker, Hellcat
First appearance: Miss America #2, November 1944. She made appearances in the romance comics that Marvel did up until the early 1960s in such books as Patsy and Hedy, and was later officially established in the main Marvel universe when making a cameo appearance in the 1965 Fantastic Four Annual #3 (Marvel subsequently stopped publishing annuals for about a decade before trying them again). In Amazing Adventures #13 in 1973, that’s when she began to take up a more adventure filled life, when she met Beast and asked for his help in establishing a superheroine career. She officially became Hellcat in Avengers #144 in 1976. She also worked with the Defenders.

Current status: currently inactive as a crimefighter.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: Patsy later married Daimon Hellstrom, whose demonic inheritance took possession of him and in this case drove her insane. She was confined to a mental institution and later, the otherworldly villain named Deathurge drove her to commit suicide.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Exactly why must Patsy be the one to be driven nuts? Shouldn’t it have just been Daimon himself? IMO, it was a grave mistake, and Patsy did not have to be injected with insanity, and certainly not driven to suicide, which was awful.

Was there anything good to come out of this? Thankfully, when Kurt Busiek was writing the Avengers and the Thunderbolts in the past decade, he wrote that Hawkeye brought her back from hell, having mistook her for his own dead wife, Mockingbird. She maintained some special powers she’d obtained during her time there, though they later wore off. She joined the Defenders again for a time, until they again disbanded.

She became victim to editorial misuse, however, when during Civil War, she was on the pro-registration side of the whole crossover mess.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Profile: Mantis

Mantis Khrul-Brandt
First appearance: The Avengers #112, June 1973. She was the daughter of a Vietnamese mother, Lua Khrul, and a German father, Gustav Brandt (Libra), who later became a terrorist, and was revealed to be the Celestial Madonna in Steve Englehart’s notable storyline from 1974-75. Her exact first name does indeed appear to be Mantis.* She later took up the pseudonym of Mandy Celestine when living in Connecticut.

Current status: not certain.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: she had to give up custody of her child to her father’s people, and during her adventure in space with the Silver Surfer, she was struck by an explosion that caused her to literally split into multiple versions of herself, an effect that apparently had what to do with the powers she was developing, and she had to find all the pieces in order to set things – and her memories – right again. In 1995’s disastrous story, “The Crossing” she returned as the villainous bride of Kang the Conqueror, plagued with a lot of hatred towards the Avengers for telling her manipulative lies. This was later retconned by Kurt Busiek in 1998, when he wrote a story where it was revealed that it was actually a Space Phantom brainwashed into thinking he was Mantis.

What’s wrong with how this was done? “The Crossing” was one of the most awful ideas in the history of the Avengers that almost ruined a good character. That she had to abandon her child was probably also ill-advised, though he was still around, and later turned up again.

Was there anything good to come out of this? Kurt Busiek had a good idea to retcon the damage done in 1995, and in Avengers: Celestial Quest, Steve Englehart took up writing an Avengers story again in which he wrote that Mantis remerged with the remaining fragments of her personality that she’d split into, regaining a lot of her lost memory sections. During this miniseries, she and the Avengers traveled into space to find her son and save him from a clone of Thanos who was targeting him. It’s good that she got to reunite with her child in the end!

* Thanks to Kurt Busiek for providing some details on this.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Profile: Shrinking Violet

Salu Digby, Shrinking Violet
First appearance: Action Comics #276, 1961. She was one of the first members introduced of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th century, a native of the planet Imsk, and was co-created by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney.

Current status: she sometimes goes by the name of Atom Girl today.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: she was once kidnapped by radicals from her home planet, and suffered a trauma from that. But she was also betrayed by Duplicate Boy, who hadn’t even tried to rescue her. In a story called “Battle of Venado Bay” in which she and her fellow Imskians were battling the home planet of Cosmic Boy, she had to save her fellow Legionnaire, who was badly injured, from her own fellow fighters. He was so crazy with pain that he didn’t recognize her and smashed her in the head, destroying her right eye and leaving a scar on her face. Shrinking Violet and Cosmic Boy reconciled later and she had her eye repaired, but left the scar intact. Prior to one of the relaunches of the Legion, she had one of her legs blown off and replaced with an artificial one.

What’s wrong with how this was done? I’d say the injury Salu sustained to her face was the most grisly thing she ever went through in her career as a superheroine. But as you can also see, she certainly did go through quite a lot of alarming injuries for a girl during the Bronze Age period.

An oddity: she’s got a fierce loyalty to Brainiac 5, so much that once, when Invisible Kid was spying wrongly on Brainiac, she beat him up but later forgave him. She seems to be quite comfortable with being taken for crazy.