Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Okay, that's hilarious.

You know, I've stopped reading Teen Titans but this account of what just went on in the new issue makes me kind of regret that. Did that really happen? Really?

How twisted a person am I that my first response to that news is "...AWESOME."

Then again, I thought the part where Rippy the Gator ate Isis's brother in 52 was hilarious too. I realize that his name is Sobek, but well, the cheerfully grotesque stylings of the Arrogant Worms win out any day. know, I was going to comment that what happened in Teen Titans might be a wee bit much for a book geared toward young adults. But well, I've always been a little twisted. As a pre-teen/teenager, I think I would have found it very very funny.

Sometimes I think my first impulses to what's "inappropriate" for kids errs on the side of prudishness. Especially once I consider my own childhood. Honestly Summer Camp is infinitely worse on the poor innocent pre-adolescent/adolescent mind than a comic involving a carnivorous pet could ever be.

...and really, this is the same comic that introduced Trigon, Brother Blood, Terra and Deathstroke's inappropriate relationship, and so on, so I suppose freaking out now over these events seems a little silly to me. :-)

Remind me to pick up Teen Titans the next time I'm in the LCS. Heheheh.


  • At August 29, 2008 11:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My reaction was completely different, mostly because it struck of shock tactics and meanspirited fannish resentment. Plus, the summary promised a nice day-in-the-life style story; you don't offer up that, then swap it out for a crappy slasher story (which, by the way, I hate). Johanna actually summed up one of the things that made me angry with it - the blatant false advertising.

  • At August 29, 2008 3:56 PM, Blogger Frank Lee Delano said…

    I think you hit the nail on the head. I had a kneejerk reaction to this, mostly because I need little excuse to criticize DC these days. Still, the major difference between Chris Claremont and Marv Wolfman was that one was, at heart, a romantic fantasist, while the other was a horror writer. Wolfman repeatedly steered Titans in grim directions, and a play on "Rosemary's Baby" was the premise for the New Teen Titans formation. There were dark stories before and after Wolfman, so where is this really a betrayal of the integrity of the book? Isn't the whole point to put underage characters not quite ready for primetime in peril, and not without consequence?

    Besides, I can only take Wonderdog slaughtering Wendy and Marvin so seriously. I was getting "Ghostbusters" flashbacks more than anything. This all reeks of fan poposity, frankly.

  • At August 29, 2008 6:01 PM, Anonymous Justin said…

    Ugh, I totally had the opposite reaction. I remembered the new issue was out, flipped through it, and put it back in sadness, disappointment, and a bit of anger. I'd been curious about Wendy and Marvin since they debuted and wanted to see them grow as characters. This just seemed unnneccesary and grotesque.

    I don't think it's at all the same as Brother Blood or Trigon at all because yeah those were dark, but in standard villain ways (and everyone was all right at the end). This seemed to me to have an attitude of hatefulness and wallowing in Wendy's terror not unlike something like the movie Hostel, which I can't stand. As someone on Scans Daily said "it was basically five pages of a terrified woman running for her life only to be killed horribly" and it totally depressed me when I read it. It felt so unlike DC, as opposed to a horror comic, that for a split second I was surprised when I saw Robin and remembered it was main-universe Teen Titans.

    I guess I'd say I'm the opposite of what you were saying in your post: I can't do twisted at all. I might be too thin-skinned for it or something. But geez, I don't search it out so it shouldn't come to me, lol. I'm frankly hoping they get resurrected by the end of the arc somehow, although I don't think it'll happen.

  • At August 30, 2008 12:10 AM, Blogger Mithel said…

    Hurray! Sexaulized violence against women is HILARIOUS. AH HA HA HA. HA HA. HA.

  • At August 30, 2008 12:20 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I haven't actually read the issue, as I said, but someone would have to be the DaVinci of Tastelessness to sexualize getting chomped by your evil dog.

    I mean, that goes beyond standard to genius. I tip my hat to the artist.

    And I'm laughing even harder. Thank you, Mithel. :-)

  • At August 30, 2008 3:49 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    See and Sobek/Rippy eating Osiris in a two-page spread is why I gave up on anything Geoff Johns writes ever again. If I want something out of a horror movie I can get it somewhere other than super-hero comics...

  • At August 30, 2008 4:30 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Addendum, now that I've seen the scans from that particular scene, I'm disappointed.

    I wouldn't call that sexualized. Not like, say, Spoiler's torture which involved orgasmic torture poses and inappropriate clinging costumes. This was a girl running in terror.

    Now if you get OFF on women running in terror, sure, it's sexy, but it's not MAKING running in terror look sexy. If that makes sense.

    But it was pretty funny. And I'd be very surprised if it was permanent considering the Wonder Dog's owner. Heh.

  • At August 30, 2008 1:18 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    I agree with Melashaan, Justin, and Johanna (who wrote the article in the link). This wasn't nearly as well-done as Sobek, which benefited from MONTHS of lead-time. This just felt like a writer casually and off-handedly gacking a couple of characters who annoyed him, and doing it in a deliberately snarky way.

  • At August 30, 2008 2:37 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    I read this on Scans Daily and it actually prompted me to use the phrase "raped my childhood".

    By the way, who the hell was that on the last page?

  • At August 30, 2008 3:44 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    notintheface: It looked like Ares, to me.

    Given Greek Myths have a bigger revolving door re: death than even comics, I figure anything done by Ares's adorable puppy (Seriously, he's so CUTE in the last scene!) is probably going to be reversed.

  • At August 30, 2008 8:04 PM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    While death is a revolving door in comics, how often does that apply to non-powered support characters? Unless they plan on bringing them back Powered?

  • At August 30, 2008 8:53 PM, Blogger David said…

    According to McKeever's interview ( I think it was on Newsarama), it's supposed to be the son of Ares, pulled from mythology out of some little-known section.

  • At August 31, 2008 3:51 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Which kid? He's got like four, five counting Eros...

  • At August 31, 2008 6:55 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    I can't say that I thought this was the best thing I've read this week, but I thought it was kind of funny in the sense that it was ironically the opposite of what we'd have expected from the a Wonder Dog comic. Still, I knew the dog was trouble from the get go. Not that much trouble, but trouble. I thought the scene could somehow have been more darkly funny than it was.

    Still, "sexaulized violence"? Really, mithel? DC is playing to all those giant killer dog fetishists out there? Is Cujo sexy to someone?

  • At August 31, 2008 7:19 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    "Is Cujo sexy to someone? "

    You obviously don't spend enough time surfing the internet for porn if you need to ask a question like that...

  • At August 31, 2008 8:59 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At August 31, 2008 9:01 AM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    Luker, I'll take that as a compliment.

  • At August 31, 2008 6:45 PM, Blogger Evan Waters said…

    I dunno, stuff like this never seems to fit the genre for me. If you're doing something like WATCHMEN or a PUNISHER MAX series, that's one thing, but it seems somehow wrong to me when gut-churning gore and the helpless whimpering of a doomed woman is intercut with a bunch of kids in goofy costumes flying around and fighting supervillains. On top of which the whole thing has the feel of a cynical sick joke, which again, doesn't fit superheroics for me. If you want to be serious about two people being murdered, it helps if the entity doing the murdering isn't Wonderdog.

  • At September 01, 2008 12:26 PM, Blogger Dane said…

    Haha, wow, bless you for not revealing those pages in your post, Kal. That link was so worth clicking! Honestly, I jerked my head back and laughed. There's just something intrinsically funny to me about Wonderdog eating the twins, but then again, I've always been a fan of taboo/dark comedy.

    I find you can walk a line of feeling empathy for fictional characters and at other times not caring about what happens to them at all. Context is important here. If say, a little girl from the Make A Wish Foundation came by Titans Tower, and the dog ate her, I'd be a bit saddened by it, as long as they didn't ham the girl's disease up too much and made the girl a real person. But this was THE WONDERTWINS DAMNIT. They looked like they were more fleshed out in the comic, but they were G-rated cornballs in the cartoon, and the inappropriateness of the scene even funnier in retrospect.

    Another factor I think is how the shock value is measured here; it's another fine line. For instance, if Marvin turned out to be a serial killer or into incest, that would be going too far/trying too hard, and I wouldn't be into it. But it's freakin' wondermutt (or a dog pretending to be him) here, and it's just ludicrous enough to work.

    Finally, I just want to say the "sexualized violence" don't quite connect with me here. The reason Wendy was running for all those pages was to raise suspense, not to sexualize her death. Wendy couldn't have made it either way, but she reacted as an average human could have been expected to, and fought hard to survive as well.

  • At September 01, 2008 2:29 PM, Blogger Evan Waters said…

    Again, I don't think that kind of dark humor fits a reasonably mainstream supers comic. It's hard to care about a struggle of good against evil if we're also supposed to chuckle at brutal murders. Either the lives of the characters matter or they don't.

    And I don't see how the presentation is humorous at all- I guess it's only funny if you still have a lingering hatred for two characters from a Seventies cartoon, but the tone is more like a horror film.

  • At September 01, 2008 3:08 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'd be wary of conjecturing why some people found it funny, Evan.

    I have no lingering hatred of Wendy and Marvin. The only episodes of the Superfriends I remember seeing involved the Wonder Twins. I actually thought it was neat they were brought to the Teen Titans.

    My sense of humor is decidedly morbid/twisted and not shared by many, but I found it funny without any sort of hatred of the characters involved.

  • At September 01, 2008 3:23 PM, Blogger Evan Waters said…

    It's not so much that a scene like this couldn't be funny, but I just don't see the humor in the actual execution. The focus on Wendy calling for help and so on made it too serious.

    If it had been a really quick WTF? thing, that could work better, but here there's too much attention on the actual suffering.

  • At September 01, 2008 3:37 PM, Blogger Dane said…

    Evan, I can see you point about content in a mainstream superhero comic, but think what is suitable for these comics is very debatable. After all, the audience on average for these comics are quite older than they were 30 years ago. Plus, the idea that certain genres like horror comics and superhero comics shouldn't cross over is a suffocating idea to me. Great things can happen when genres cross over, and on a cinematic level, the suspense element brought over from horror comics was a benefit to the situation created in this issue. Besides, The struggle between good and evil is still here as well. Evil just killed off two innocent civilians -- volunteers at the Teen Titans base in a merciless and covert manner, and the Titans will have to avenge them. Content-wise, that's a good plot point as any for a super hero comic.

    So no, the actual deaths aren't that funny. On the surface level it's supposed to carry a sense of doom. What DOES make it funny for me is the meta-context going on here, which I explained in the previous post, and is equivalent to McKeever going "See what I did there, guys?!" I don't hate the Wonder Twins at all, but I still see what McKeever did there, and I enjoy the inside joke for what it was.

    So it really does go both ways for me here, without me loving the plot point to death or me praising the deaths. Hope that clears stuff up, Evan.

  • At September 01, 2008 4:12 PM, Blogger Evan Waters said…

    It's not so much what happens as how it happens- the tone of the attack reminded me of Lambert's death in ALIEN, and to drop that very suddenly in what is, if not a bright book, certainly not far from the average, feels very incongruous.

    If you look at, say, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, yes, it's dark like everyone says, but it's dark in a way that fits the genre and the series and is of a piece with what's gone before. The emphasis is still on action and magic and thrills, it's just a down movement. Similarly, as dark as DOCTOR WHO can get sometimes, it's never bleak.

    To be sure, the age of the average comic reader is older than that of the average person who was going to see EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or the average person watching DOCTOR WHO nowadays, but I'm not sure why that translates into wanting the violence and danger of the comics to be of the innocent-people-get-their-throats-ripped-out variety. It honestly feels like a lot of these writers are using shock value as a crutch- after all, even after all this, a flesheating Wonderdog still isn't as scary as a boy in a gasmask saying "Are you my mummy?"

  • At September 01, 2008 5:56 PM, Anonymous Bystander #3 said…

    I thought emotionally powerful and extremely well written. I read this issue without being spoiled beforehand. I was intrigued by the idea that we might get some behind-the-scenes insights into the lives of our favorite teen super-heroes through the eyes of the common man: basically was calls a "Lower Decks episode."

    Like most, I went into it expecting a tone of "light-hearted teen-comedy romp," which is exactly what we get for the first thirteen pages...

    ...and then it suddenly takes a sharp right-hand turn into the territory of Hollywood Horror.

    When I turned the page and saw Wendy saw in Marvin's room, I literally screamed. It wasn't a manly scream, either. It was a pretty blood-curdling, girly scream that went on for about thirty seconds, because whatever I expected to find when I turned the page, it certainly wasn't that.

    But here's the thing: I liked this issue. I think it is the most compelling and well written issue of Teen Titans in ages.

    Do I want Marvin and Wendy to be dead? No, of course not. They were clever, entertaining supporting characters in this book, whatever their silver-age, animation origins may have been, and I will hope against fan-boy hope that they will be back from the dead someday through the magic of logic-defying comic-book science.

    However, the way this story was put together was skillful and effective. It was meant to be shocking. I was shocked. I didn't put down the book in disgust though. The art and story-telling during Wendy's flight from the monster was clear, well-paced and gripping. The juxtaposition with the light-hearted trainng session and the whimsical image of the "good dog" greeting his master did the job they were supposed to do.

    This issue left me amped up and desperate to read the next issue. A confrontation between Wonder Girl and Ares, the God of Conflict who grants her powers is long overdue, and for those who have been following the book, the man on the last page is clearly reminiscent of Ares.

    In response to some of the other comments, I don't think it's fair to ascribe motivations to the writer. To assume that Sean McKeever watched the Super Friends cartoon when he was younger and found the characters of Marvin and Wendy to be annoying and is now acting out some petty, misguided act of revenge for the sake of a cheap laugh isn't fair. We have no idea if any of that is true. Speaking as someone who never watched that cartoon, I can think of many other legitimate dramatic reasons why he might have decided to kill the characters and none of them are necessarily mean-spirited or resentful.

    The two most common reactions to the shockingly unexpected are horror and humor. Wonderdog killing Marvin and Wendy is the last thing you expect, but I think the primary intended reaction here is horror. There is an element of dark humor to this issue, but I think that is secondary and I don't think it is done in a way that is disrespectful to the characters.

  • At September 03, 2008 12:26 AM, Blogger philippos42 said…

    At this point, it's a trope. I dunno if has named it, but I've seen it before. Advertise something as "a day in the life," then kill somebody off.

    It makes the plot a little too Stephen King, but somebody thinks he's being subversive.

  • At September 03, 2008 12:27 AM, Blogger philippos42 said…, I mean

  • At September 04, 2008 2:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Regarding TVTropes, I'd say this was more of "A Death In The Limelight." Take some minor characters and have the story focus on them, then instead of going back to the Status Quo, you kill them off.

    I really hated that issue. Not only does it pointlessly kill off two minor characters, but it makes the Titans look incredibly incompetent. And it's yet ANOTHER story where the Titans are attacked at their own base, instead of actually going out and fighting bad guys.

    Someone let me know when the JLA or JSA show up wondering why the Titans are getting their asses handed to them so much.


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