Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Profile: Fire

Beatriz Bonilla da Costa, Fire
First appearance: she first appeared in Super-Friends #25, October 1979, and was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon. In the pre-Crisis time she was originally created in, she had been the president of Wayne Enterprises’ business branch in Brazil, and got her powers via magicians and mysticism. After the Crisis, her origin was redone, making her a model in Rio de Janeiro as well as an actress and a showgirl who became a special agent for the Brazilian government, and her powers were acquired after she was stuck in pyroplasmic explosion that gave her the power to produce eight-inch bursts of green-colored fire. She was reintroduced in Infinity Inc. #32, November 1986. She first took up the names Green Fury and Green Flame, and later changed it simply to Fire. She became a member of Justice League International for a couple years.

Current status: an agent for the new rendition of Checkmate.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: she was badly injured in the battle with Doomsday in 1992 and lost her powers for a while. Years after she’d got them back, during the time of Infinite Crisis, when she became a Checkmate agent, they wrote her into a killer, trained by her father, Colonel Ramon da Costa (aka Corvalho) when she was just a girl.

What’s wrong with how this was done? The steps taken during this new Checkmate are simply atrocious. Bea’s father, Corvalho, was written as an employee of a right-wing military dictatorship, who ordered thousands of innocent deaths in Operation Condor, a South American counter-terrorism mission. The apparently politicized storyline, which demonizes conservatives as not caring about innocents, is disgusting.

Interestingly enough, Bea is also depicted as killing a new Colonel Computron (a minor villain who’d first appeared in The Flash in 1981) after government agent Amanda Waller blackmails her into doing it under threat of exposing her father, whom Bea is later forced to turn in anyway for international war crimes. A perfect way to ruin a very good character for the sake PC-madness.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Profile: Catwoman

Selina Kyle, Catwoman
First appearance: Batman #1, Spring 1940

Current status: may be joining Batman and the Outsiders in its new incarnation.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: in 1986, sometime after she’d first reformed, she was tortured and brainwashed by Dr. Moon, which made her forget the first revelation she’d made about Batman’s secret identity, and returned to crime for awhile before reforming again. In 2005, it was revealed that her initial reformation was the result of brainwashing, by Zatanna, no less.

What’s wrong with how this was done? In the case of the latter example we have here, it considerably ruins much of the development made for Selina over the years of her career as the Feline Fatale, and makes a mockery out of her personality. That she knocked Zatanna out of a window after the magic maid told her this, even if Zee survived the fall, was also incredibly tacky.

I guess it’s also worth noting that this seems to be the justification they used to get from point A to point B – her killing a supervillain, Black Mask, who, curiously enough, in an attempt to “improve” himself as a crime kingpin, threatened some of the most important people in Selina’s life after learning her secret ID, namely, her occasional boyfriend detective Slam Bradley and also her best pal Holly. She took him by surprise in Catwoman #52 vol. 2 by blasting him in the head. But this seems more than a wee bit forced, as the approach Black Mask was using here may have been a retread of what Dr. Light was blabbering off with in Identity Crisis, and, come to think of it, Blockbuster, when he threatened Nightwing in an almost similar way in his own solo book, before the Tarantula seemingly gunned down Bludhaven’s own kingpin in 2004.

Nothing against even anti-heroes and anti-heroines killing, but if they’re going to use contrived circumstances to get to that point, then I think it’s a waste of time.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Profile: Enchantress

June Moone, Enchantress
First appearance: Strange Adventures #187, April 1966. Besides having an origin almost similar to that of Captain Marvel/Billy Batson, it’s possible that the inspiration for Moone at the time may have been Elizabeth Montgomery’s comedic role as a young witch in the Bewitched television series, which ran from 1964-1972.

Current status: appeared in Shadowpact in 2006.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: as early as 1980, she was turned into a villainess in Superman Family #204, in a story starring Supergirl. Even after Crisis on Infinite Earths (where she’d been part of the villain’s army), this continued, with June next becoming a cast member of the Suicide Squad. Later on, in 1999, she was reworked again in Day of Judgement as less of a villainess but still far from a real heroine. However, the story had Faust (the son of Felix Faust, I think), murdering the Enchantress portion of June in order to restart the fires of hell, leaving June in a passive and almost catatonic state.

What’s wrong with how this was done? I know that by the time the whole change done in Superman Family came around, DC had long moved away from some of the goofier approaches they’d specialized in during the Silver Age, when Moone first appeared, but that’s still no excuse for turning a character who could’ve had comic relief potential into a crook! But Day of Judgement is worse, with a pretty ludicrous premise of June having her persona dealt another terrible blow. JLA: Black Baptism did fix things a little though, when a character named Anita Soulfeeda was revealed to be the Enchantress portion of June’s soul.

But with Shadowpact, which was scripted by the pretentious Bill Willingham, whose works I will not support after the jaw-droppingly crass job he did when he wrote Robin and Detective Comics, it only got worse again, because here, once again, a character who could be better repaired gets stuck in a story that’s little more than another abysmal effort to abuse Jean Loring as the new Eclipso. Need I continue?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Profile: Blue Beetle 2

Ted Kord, Blue Beetle 2
First appearance: Captain Atom #83, November 1966. He was the second superhero to take this role after the first Beetle, Dan Garrett. In Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985-86, he and some of the other Charlton characters were merged more fully with the DCU.

Current status: dead

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in 2005’s “Countdown to Infinite Crisis”, he was targeted for death by an otherwise out-of-character Max Lord, the businessman who’d sponsored Justice League International years before.

What’s wrong with how this was done? Plenty! The whole story, co-written by Geoff Johns, Judd Winick and Greg Rucka, was done as part of an editorial mandate, but then those three writers themselves seem to be part of the inner party, which could explain why they’ve gone along in lock-step with almost everything DC Comics has done. Aside from that, there’s also the story, which depicts Ted, instead of trying to fight back boldly against his pursuers even one-man-army style, trying to telephone a couple other superheroes for help, and finding none. Worst was the part where Barbara Gordon puts him on hold, one of a few things that signals that this was done as an insult to the well-regarded miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League, a reunion of several of the lower-ranking characters who appeared there during the late 80s-early 90s. And violence-wise, the worst part was the slaying itself, with Max blasting Ted Kord through the skull in a bloodbath.

It would seem that the message they were trying to create with this was that it’s wrong to be a hero by acting in your own defense, and that superheroes are crummy too. Not to mention that, if anything, Ted went down here without even trying to fight back.

They may have shown him turning up in the afterlife in recent publications (yes, really), but how does that counteract the bad taste the assassination story left behind? I’m afraid it does not.