Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

EiE: Infusing Estrogen in the JSA, Shining Knight

Please be warned, I haven't had the chance to read Seven Soldiers #1 yet, so I'm forced to consider the possibility that this will be all rendered moot when I finally get a chance to go to the comic store today.

I was thinking though, from my vantage point of only reading the mini-series, that the new Shining Knight would be a good addition to the JSA.

For me, the real criteria to be a JSA hero is to have some sort of familial or legacy connection to the Golden Age. Ystin is stretching that definition a little, as the Camelot she comes from actually predates Justin's. And the two have not, at least as far as I have read, met.

However, there are quite a few legacy heroes that haven't interacted much with their predecessor and I think it would be pretty easy to write a quick crossover story with both of them that includes some sort of symbolic passing of the torch scene. That way there's a bit more of an "official" legacy tie.

I really like Ystin and I want her to succeed as a character. That said, I think she'd be better suited for a group book at the moment as opposed to an individual. This way she can hopefully build up enough of a fanbase to warrant a new comic. Also I'd like to see how challenges like the language barrier and strangeness of the new culture impact her in a group situation.

I think as a character, Ystin would benefit from a group. It would give her some support, which as a fourteen year old (fifteen now?) in a strange world, would be very necessary. And I think the JSA would be the best choice for a number of reasons.

The JLA is a team that tends to be portrayed as very iconic. Have a huge alien invasion, it's the big guns that you call first. The trinity. They're very grandiose.

In contrast, the JSA deals with serious threats, but on a more personal, down-to-earth level. The themes of the JSA are family and legacy. Thus most of the main villains have very personal ties to members of the team. Their fights tend to take place on Earth (or a pocket dimension) and the interrelationships of the characters even start to take on a family dynamic. (Poor Jay is always stuck as the mom.)

I personally think that Shining Knight is a character that would more suit the second. In her miniseries, her fights were less earth-shattering than they were personal. Gloriana Tenebriae's exposure and humiliation of Ystin was something beyond a standard villain taunting the hero bit. Galahad as a fighting opponent was very personal in a way that the JLA tends to avoid while the JSA embraces.

In January, Ragnell posted an awesome analysis of Shining Knight #4 as symbolic of the ordeal of puberty for a young woman. I have the first comment, which I'm going to basically repeat here because I can.

The thing that makes the miniseries work so well as a puberty-allegory is how alone Ystin is. Her isolation resonates emotionally with the isolation felt during that stage of life. However, that story is told. She's passed the point of no return. Once you've crossed that stage of development, you can't go back.

So now there's no reason to be isolated. In fact, part of being a young adult is to find out your new place and new relationships with your family now that you're no longer a child. Ystin's actual family might be dead, but that doesn't mean she couldn't forge new familial bonds.

The JSA would be good for that. Making the assumption that this cover is an accurate representation of at least part of the JSA roster, she's already got a plethora of surrogate siblings to choose from. Jay and Alan will, I'd imagine, resume their semi-parental roles to the group. Ted and Carter would be something like erratic uncles.

It does make me regret (more) the loss of Hippolyta though, because out of anyone who could take the girl under her wing, she'd be a fantastic choice. Even if Camelot and Themyscira are nothing alike, she'd also understand what it's like to be a stranger in a strange land. And they could practice sword drills together!

Even so, Power Girl is no slouch in the inspiring, nurturing role model department either. And I think Courtney would really shine if she had the chance to be a big sister to another hero. Playing the tour guide to teenage life in the twenty-first century is a role that I think would suit her. Also I think she'd make a remarkably good older sister figure. Besides, Courtney wears responsibility very well.

Also the JSA is used to time travellers. While none of them are from anything close to Ystin's time, many do understand the feeling of waking up in what amounts to an alien world. If anyone could sympathize, they could.

And Mr. Terrific could so invent a translator or something until she learned the language.

I just think it would fit really well. And we need more kickass women with swords, damnit. Swords are COOL. :-)

...Hmm. Hope she lives.

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  • At October 29, 2006 7:24 PM, Anonymous Matthew said…

    Shining Knight II is a great character.

    Unfortunatly, she is a.) A strong young female character meaning that she is on the kill/do horrible things to list, (Sue Dibny, Wonder Woman, Barbara Gordon) b.) Created by Grant Morrison, whose creations are all forgotten (Zauriel, Aztek, Crazy Jane) and c.) Shining Knight I was in Justice League Unlimited, therefore an entire generation of TV watchers will read the comics and go "Who the heck is this lady?" and try to replace her, or at least forget about her. (Cassandra Cain)

    Face it, she's doomed. DOOMED.

  • At October 30, 2006 1:14 AM, Anonymous Ron said…

    Speaking of forgotten Grant Morrison creations, when I read this line in the original review of Shining Knight #4:

    "Yes, Ladies and Gentleman, Grant Morrison has managed to capture the experience of puberty for a young girl."

    I was reminded that this may actually the SECOND time he's done that, depending on how you feel about the "Red Shoes" issue of Doom Patrol featuring a highly metaphoric take on Dorothy Spinner's first period.

  • At October 30, 2006 1:59 AM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    Team Ystina with Alix. One is a normal girl that doesn't know or want to be a heroine, one is a heroine that doesn't know how to be a regular girl. They fight crime!

  • At October 30, 2006 9:55 AM, Anonymous Mark Engblom said…

    I'll second the call for Ystin to join the JSA. I think the JSA needs an element that's alien to the otherwise very chummy, familiar vibe of the group. Also, a character who predates even the JSA's oldsters (by a few millenia) would be a nice switch-up.

    I'm not sure about Ystin being an allegory for puberty, but then again, I'm the OTHER what do I know? If anything, Ystin's story seemed to parallel stories of gender identity and/or homosexuality...but even that seems like a real stretch. Has Grant Morrison said anything about larger themes he was trying to build into the character?

  • At October 30, 2006 11:04 AM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    I'll repeat here something that I heard once and that is awesome.

    What does the writer know? He just wrote the thing.

    Things can have hidden meanings the writer himself doesn't realize. They can have more than one hidden meaning, too.

  • At October 30, 2006 9:33 PM, Blogger RAB said…

    I'm tickled by the idea of Sir Justin, the Shining Knight of the original Seven Soldiers, being a chronologically later analog of Ystina, serving his own iteration of Arthur. (The latter presumably aided by a Merlin who has the demon Etrigan as a servant...) One then wonders how much Sir Justin's era knew of the proto-Arthur and his court and their battle against the Sheeda.

    Suddenly I have this image -- not justified by anything in the text, but merely a flight of fancy -- of the "classic" Sir Justin being introduced to this teenage girl in the modern day, nobody else knows who she is, but Justin bows really low and says "My lady! In your honour I was christened thus!" And everybody else takes a step back in confusion...

  • At November 03, 2006 9:24 AM, Anonymous green with wheelpower said…

    I like swords
    Welcome to Canaria
    I like swords


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