Thursday, August 30, 2007

Profile: Moira MacTaggart

Moira MacTaggart
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #96, December 1975. A scientist of Scottish heritage, she’d been a close associate and at one time a paramour of Prof. Xavier’s for many years.

Current status: dead

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: Mystique, assisted by Sabretooth, infiltrated her laboratory on Muir Island in X-Men #108 (sans-adjective series), 2000, where the villainess had the idea of forcing Moira to use her research talents to turn the legacy virus into something that would only affect non-mutant humans. Having no success, they destroyed Muir Island’s research center and gave Moira a lethal injury. Moira died while the X-Men were trying to fly her to a hospital and was later buried in her native Scotland.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Is it just me, or is the list of death victims among the X-Men’s cast higher than I previously thought? But Moira’s death was definitely another one totally uncalled for, as I think she made as much of a backbone for the series’ cast as Xavier did, even if her role was smaller.

To make matters worse, when House of M came out, dredging with it its whole alternate-reality theme that we’ve seen done much better in anthologies like What If, they had the sheer chutzpah to spit upon her corpse even more by declaring her a criminal because she’d wanted to cure her son Kevin of the mutant gene, and his psychosis. It even seemed to tie in with Exiles in an extension of the alternate reality thing. If she’d had a decent burial in X-Men #108, they certainly insulted it in House of M. Put another way, they desecrated her tomb.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Profile: Candy Southern

Candy Southern
First appearance: X-Men #32, May 1967. She was a childhood sweetheart of Archangel (Warren Worthington)’s who became more involved with the X-Men and the superhero world after getting to meet them up front at Iceman’s 18th birthday. She later became a cast member of the Defenders. Roy Thomas, her creator, got the idea for her last name from the author Terry Southern.

Current status: dead

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: Cameron Hodge, a former friend of Candy’s and Warren’s who later became a villain against all mutants, kidnapped and murdered her by torturing her to death in X-Factor #34.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Too obviously, we had yet another case of bumping off the girlfriend for the sake of turning her paramour into a chest-thumping Neanderthal going the revenge route. And yes, did Warren ever go that way, because what he did to avenge her death was to behead Cameron, eye-for-eye style. Maybe villains like Hodge are deserving of their fate, but that doesn’t mean the leading lady has to be the one to suffer in order to justify that.

In Uncanny X-Men #306, it was later shown that her mind became absorbed by the Technarx/Phalanx as part of a plan they had to gain more information on the X-Men, continuing her life in a cloned body. But she sacrificed herself again in order to put an end to Cameron Hodge, whose mind had also been absorbed into the Phalanx systems. She let Warren know that she loved him before she passed away fully.

Was there anything good to come from this? You could say that she who may have died heroically then, given that she terminated herself in order to put an end to Hodge, but it still doesn’t excuse how yet one more girl in comics bit the bullet instead of finding story development, even with a different paramour than Archangel.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Profile: Hawk and Dove

Hawk and Dove
First appearance: this entry features the first Hawk, Hank Hall, and both Doves, as well as two protagonists Mike Baron intro'd in the late 1990s, so it’ll thus feature the debut times of both those to take the latter role as well as when Hank first appeared. Hank and Don Hall, the first duo by this name, first appeared in Showcase #75 in 1967, a pair of twins, one a conservative and the other a liberal, who could never really agree on anything (i.e - how the use of force should be managed). Their powers of greater strength and agility were acquired via a mysterious voice. Both were created for DC by Steve Ditko and Steve Skeates, and had a short lived series that ran six issues, after which they became guest members in the Teen Titans many times. The second Dove, Dawn Granger, first debuted in a 1988 miniseries and was revealed to have gained her powers the moment that the original Dove lost them, some more on which anon. And another duo named Sasha Martens and Wiley Wolverman made their appearance in a miniseries written by Mike Baron circa 1997.

Current status: two out of three of them are pretty much dead, with Hank surely having suffered the worst destruction as he had been corrupted before officially being killed off during Armageddon 2001, published ten years earlier then its title features. Don was killed during Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Dawn was seemingly slain during Armageddon by the villainous Monarch, but turned up again in 2003. And Hank, well, he was corrupted and turned into Extant, some sort of a time-lording supervillain during Zero Hour before being killed in JSA in a time-travelling story published in 2000.

Were subjected to the following acts of discrimination: Indicated above, but that wasn’t all of it. The character destruction of Hank Hall, which could be considered by some to be an unfair swipe at conservatives, was the result of an editorial fiat that resulted after it was leaked that Captain Atom was going to be revealed as the time-travelling villain of Armageddon called Monarch.

What's wrong with how this was done? The editors apparently decided that with the ongoing Hawk and Dove series at the time losing buyers and set for cancellation that this made Hawk and Dove worthy of sacrifice for sales. This, of course, is just another show of disinterest in developing the characters through appearances in other ways like miniseries and guest roles in other books.

Was there anything good to come out of this? Close. In JSA #45-51, Dawn turned up alive again, and her “death” turned out to be a hoax mastered by the evil sorceror Mordru, who also turned out to be the one behind Hank’s going bananas. Okay, so they cleared things up for Hank in that case. However, writer Geoff Johns may have botched the attempt to introduce a new Hawk in the guise of Dawn’s sister from Britain named Holly when he featured them in the third volume of Teen Titans #22-24 going up against Dr. Light after the character destruction that villain went through in Identity Crisis. Talk about really blowing it! We did not need that particular story, that’s for sure.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Profile: Spider-Woman 1

Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman 1
First appearance: Marvel Spotlight #32, Feb 1977. She was the daughter of British-born parents(?). She’d fallen victim to a deadly poison while her parents were living on Wundagore Mountain in Europe, the same place where Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were raised following both Magneto and their mother Magda’s disappearances. Her father, a scientist, first tried to save her life by injecting her with an experimental spider serum of his own. But because it didn’t seem to have any real effect, he let the High Evolutionary, Herbert Wyndham, help her by putting her in a special genetic accelerator where she aged at a decelerated rate, emerging little the worse for wear when she was about 17 years old. Lady Bova of the New Men (and Woman) raised her during her first few years in the open on Wundagore.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: when HYDRA was under the leadership of Count Otto Vermis, he captured and brainwashed her in hopes of using her as one of his top minions. He even went so far as to convince her that she wasn’t human but rather, an evolved spider! It was during a mission on which she was told to attack SHIELD that she learned the truth and turned against HYDRA and going back to the good side again. However, she was later recaptured and brainwashed again by the sinister terrorist gang, but freed again after a confrontation with the Thing.

But she was subsequently depowered, following a case where she was stranded on the astral plane following a battle with Morgan Le Fay, and went all but unused for many years, only recently coming back into use again (and before that, there were even two different versions of the character introduced in her stead). Unfortunately, it appears that Joe Quesada’s staff, Brian Michael Bendis included, may have really done whatever they could to ruin her background: during the Civil War crossover, she was written to be a double agent, working for both SHIELD and HYDRA, and even a triple agent working for a crooked agent named Maria Hill.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Nothing wrong with her origin story from the late 70s, since that’s her character development of the time. However, there is something wrong with how she was just depowered and left to gather dust on a shelf for many years. There was a lot more that could’ve been done for her, yet editorial of the mid-80s canned her instead of allowing her potential to be realized fully. Not good. Of all the three Spider-Women there've been in the MCU, Jessica Drew's probably had the most interesting premise, yet they screwed up badly.

And the way Jessica was used during Civil War and other pointless crossovers of recent is a terrible way to bring her back, not allowing for her to develop in any plausible story of her own.