Friday, May 21, 2010

Record: James Robinson

There isn't much I can think of to say about this once-lauded writer who penned the adventures of the original Starman's son in the 1990s, since it was only recently that he screwed up, big time. But what I have to offer for now is related to the miniseries where he threw all his credibility as a scriptwriter out the window - "Cry for Justice".
  • Some people have criticized Kara Zor-El's depiction since 2004 as over-sexualized. In Cry for Justice, such arguments were certainly valid - one of the advertisements for this junk featured her depicted "headless", that is, almost all her body but not the head, which is ridiculous, and the inner story pretty much featured this absurdity at least once more too. Robinson and company even insulted people's intellects with a coverscan that showed Supergirl and Capt. Marvel Jr. kissing, but not only does this not take place in the story, it turns out to be Prometheus in disguise.
  • At the end of this abomination, which saw a few characters killed for starters, Star City is destroyed along with close to 100,000 other people, and among the dead is Lian Harper, Roy Harper's daughter with Cheshire. All this in order to send Roy and mentor Ollie Queen down the road to darkness. To make matters worse, when Green Arrow shoots Prometheus to death at the end, in a followup miniseries the Justice League is depicted turning against him, including Barry Allen, sadly enough, because dealing out punishment against a supervillain for a violent crime is apparently illegal. Simply stupefying.
Robinson may have once been well regarded as a writer. But to do a hack job that was superfluous and only furthering the flood of contrived shock tactics and publicity stunts DC has become notorious for this past decade - destroys any notion he's sincere. Some of the worst storytelling effects in the DCU came as a result of their publicity stunts over the years. Robinson is not making things any better by collaborating in all these efforts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Profile: Sarah Essen Gordon

Sarah Essen Gordon
First appearance: Batman #405, March 1987

History: first introduced in the Batman: Year One story told in 1987, she was a detective partnered with Commisioner James Gordon who'd had an affair with him that led to the breakup of his first marriage. She later returned and revived her relationship with James Gordon, becoming his second wife.

Current status: dead since Detective Comics #741.

Was subjected to the following act of discrimination: in the No Man's Land story of the late 90s, while trying to rescue a group of infants from the Joker, who was holding them hostage in the GCPD basement, the Clown Prince of Crime forced her to have to catch one of the infants, and following that, gunned her to death in the head. James Gordon, who'd caught up with them, could only react by shooting the Joker in the leg.

What's wrong with how this was done? A grave result of overusing the Joker because he signals sales spikes, this was particularly atrocious, not just because of how only so many minor characters or even unnamed civilians were being turned into sacrifices, but also because of how neither Jim nor anyone else was written as having what it took to deal the Joker the death blow he was asking for. How many more people have to be slaughtered in cold blood by the Clown Prince of Crime before this particular supervillain is finally put to death for his obscenities and abominations?

In the time since this terrible story was written, the Joker's use has been downplayed, but if you're familiar with how things are going under the reign of Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns in the past decade, you'll know they haven't improved, thus, no credit can be given.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Profile: White Queen

Emma Frost, White Queen

First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #129, January 1980

History: she began as a member of the Hellfire Club, a gathering of mutants, and later became the leader of the Hellions, a kind of rival group to the New Mutants. After the Hellions were later slain by another gang of enemies, she talked the X-Men into accepting her as a member, became one of their closest allies, becoming one of the leaders of Generation X alongside Banshee. Her power is usually telepathy.

Current status: may still be hooked up with Cyclops.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: her personality depiction has been rather scattershot. She's been depicted as a vixen, a nutcase (and it was told at one time in GenX that she'd been in a mental institution), and even manipulative/exploitive. The writers/artists have sometimes even gone into the theater of the absurd with how she's depicted wearing almost slutty outfits.

What's wrong with how this is done? It seems like Marvel's powers are hell-bent on "normalizing" her very exploitive personality that she's been depicted with since the turn of the century. It's certainly not very appealing. She's even been made into Cyclops' paramour at Jean Grey's expense (and as of this writing, Jean may still be dead). Big problem is that she seems to be manipulating him, implying it's not a very authentic relationship.

In 2004, there was a miniseries telling (or rewriting) her background, and one of the problems with that was the covers, which were not only drawn by Greg Horn, a photo-realist artist with very stagnant talents, but also depicted her several times in that very questionable costume, making it a very discouraging and embarrassing product.

On top of all that, I'm not very impressed with how they've "developed" Frost in this decade gone by, and think it could use a very serious improvement.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Special notes: cities and unnamed civilians

In some, if not all, of these nasty cases that have taken place since the early 1990s with established characters being killed off and villified, some of those who've suffered the worst next to them include whole cities and even tons of nameless civilians. DC is a serious offender in this, and Marvel has a few cases of their own too. This will be a special list of all cases I can think of where innocent nameless bystanders were also turned into horrific sacrifices.

Here is one of the first crossovers where quite a few people ended up in a pool of blood. The idea of this reprehensible story was to introduce at least a few new superhero characters (including Anima, Argus, Gunfire and Hitman), most of whom vanished after barely 2 years. A race of aliens who can do things like what Aliens, The Terminator and Predator already featured, comes to earth to suck the spinal fluid out of humans at random, or even devour them altogether, and shed quite a bit of blood in the process. Challenging question: did they truly need to make this a bloodsoaked story in order to introduce these newcomers to the superhero community? Or couldn't they have done so in their own stand-alone stories, even within a miniseries of their own?

When the editors who mandated this can only resort to crossovers as a means of introducing new characters, or even serving as a lead-in to the same, that's what shows a severe lack of creativity, and an inability to create stories that can stand and be marketed on their own. It all culminated in a finale titled Bloodbath, which caps it with a manhole cover.

Coast City
This was certainly one of the most notable, when Mongul destroyed Hal Jordan's hometown, and later on, Hal went insane in despair. So many people may have gone down courtesy of this, and what was the point? Apparently, to destroy almost everything that made the GL Corp's amazing background, which signals that, despite initial work on nostalgic storytelling in the 90s, they were certainly not going in that direction with GL, if they were going to otherwise make Kyle Rayner the only Green Lantern for at least a few years.

Keystone City
When Geoff Johns took over the Flash, there was alarming violence and destruction on a level probably never seen before in the Scarlet Speedster's title, and the aforementioned Blood Will Run atrocity certainly saw quite a few bodies piled up in the morgue. And, even if the rest of his initial run didn't have as many bodies, it still featured more than enough wanton destruction and violence to sink a ship. (Did I mention issue 195, where the Top used a ludicrous eyesight bending power to cause Wally West quite a vomit-inducing headache? And if Wally could get his head knocked up that bad, we can only wonder if everyone else on the dock...)

This was the name of a fictionalized European country featured in the Ultron Unlimited storyline in the Avengers in 1998 that got wiped out by Ultron and an army of other robots he built. I have more respect for Kurt Busiek than I do for Geoff Johns, but this, to be honest, has me feeling depressed and wondering today if it was a good idea to take Ultron that far as a supervillain. After all, it would be one thing if Ultron had slaughtered a small number of people, but a whole country? Unless we look at this as a section of the former USSR, this can be troubling, and even bothersome as to whether it works or not.

Star City
Happened just recently, and was definitely one of the most disgusting and poorly written storylines, with not just Lian Harper biting the bullet, but also close to 100,000 other unnamed souls in Green Arrow's main home burg. James Robinson and company at DC fell back on the same mistake made with Green Lantern in 1994, coughing out a pointless story nobody asked for, and Robinson threw away his credibility as a writer.

This is what the list will comprise for now. In time, I'll see if there's any more input I can add. For now, I will say that DC is definitely the worse offender in terms of over-the-top violence on a global scale, and has been since as early as 1993. Also the most pointless when it comes to their awful violence-laden stunts.