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Thursday, April 08, 2010

My One Quibble with Blackest Night (Spoilers!)

It's been long enough since that I don't feel guilty about blogging this. I absolutely loved the finale of Blackest Night. Except for one thing, which bothers me more and more as I think about it.

I'm really kind of upset that we got Shiera back instead of Kendra.

I wasn't a huge fan of Kendra. Heck, I distinctly recall posting a few times disparaging her tendency of hitting my favorite character when she wasn't putting the moves on him, as well as how her backstory turned me off. (I'm WAY touchy about suicide in backstory, and most times it does NOT work for me for many complicated reasons that have little to do with the quality of the comic and more to do with my own issues.)

But this seems to be a big slap in the face to the character.

I mean, the one thing that made Kendra interesting was how she shook up the whole reincarnated destiny thing. Yes, she's Shiera reincarnated. The Egyptian Princess reborn yet again to be Carter's wife. But for once, it didn't quite work. She doesn't have those pre-existing memories to work from. She was someone knew, and Carter's presumption nearly drove her away for good.

This was interesting because it made Carter, a character very set in his ways, have to adapt. To change his approach. He'd have to court her all over again and he couldn't just expect victory. He had to be sensitive to her needs and particular situation.

And also, well, I sympathized with her greater struggle. She's expected to be Shiera, but she was her own person, and she was trying to deal with that. I always thought it was significant that when freaked out about Carter, she went after Sand.

I mean, okay, Sand was the closest to her own age. But I always thought it was a little deeper than that. She certainly had the opportunity to meet other young men her age (and eventually did mack on Roy for a bit, as I recall). But Sand had two things going for him at the time: 1) he was the exact opposite of Carter, and 2) which I think may ultimately be more significant, he KNEW Shiera. In the same way that it was completely inappropriate for Carter to act like a rival/bully to this kid who was once the Robin to his original JSA team, it would be equally as inappropriate for Shiera to mack on him. She was an adult woman when he was a young boy. She was a vaguely familiar aunt-figure as the team tends to be characterized.

So Kendra wasn't just defying her destiny by pursuing someone who isn't Carter (as in the case of Roy), she was rejecting it completely with an act that would be really fucking creepy for SHIERA to ever consider.

I didn't always like Kendra, but I can appreciate the sentiment. I didn't read much Hawkgirl, I admit, but her story in JSA worked for me. She proved that she mattered as more than just Shiera mark II. And while I never wanted her to stay with Sand (at least not unless she stopped hitting him whenever she got mad), and I wanted Carter to eventually win her over, I wanted Carter to WIN HER OVER. To figure out that he had to treat Kendra like SHE mattered. That appealed to me.

This negates the whole thing. Kendra didn't matter. She WAS ultimately Shiera in the end. And all Carter really had to do was wait Shiera's little amnesiac temper tantrum out (and mack on Power Girl) and he immediately gets handed the version of his girlfriend that he always wanted.

Ick.

26 Comments:

  • At April 09, 2010 3:49 AM, Blogger Saranga said…

    iirc, i think carter did start treating kendra like kendra, and they were just getting stuff sorted out, and getting together, and then they got killed.

    anyway, i'm sad that kendra is now gone.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 3:50 AM, Blogger Mario McKellop said…

    Slow clap.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 4:28 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Saranga: I agree with you (I didn't phrase it well), but it annoys me because IMO, this means he never even had to do that.

    If he hadn't made any effort at all and just waited it out, he'd still get Shiera back. And Kendra's still dead.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 8:00 AM, OpenID bookslide said…

    I always wished they'd make Kendra a lesbian--where's your destiny NOW, Carter??

     
  • At April 09, 2010 10:04 AM, Blogger Saranga said…

    @kalinara: oh ok I get you.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 11:07 AM, Blogger Empath said…

    I didn't really like the end of Blackest Night. It was kinda reset the DC world post Final Crisis.It seems that DC is never too keen to push the envelope with its characters for too long and bringing Shiera back would fit right into that. Consider also what they did with Firestorm, killing Gehenna off, breaking the Jason Rusch/Gehenna union and bringing back Ronnie Raymond. Kendra's existence challenged Carter, but now Shiera's back it would reset the DC world. I know they are pandering to some fans, but they are also alienating others.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 11:32 AM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    It is a Geoff Johns comic! All legacy characters get some slappin'!

     
  • At April 09, 2010 12:13 PM, Blogger Marshall Ryan Maresca said…

    Actually, Firestorm struck me as the one thing that's not a clean reset-to-Silver, unlike bringing back J'onn, Arthur and Shiera-- the last of which bothers me for much the same reason as you, kalinara.

    But with Firestorm, it seems we now have Ronnie and Jason, and in the little bit they showed in BN#8, I sense that 1. they'll need each other to form the matrix and 2. Jason really resents Ronnie for killing Gen. And that could prove an interesting dynamic. (If it's actually explored anywhere...)

     
  • At April 09, 2010 3:54 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Empath: I don't mind Ronnie's return because I always thought his interaction with Jason was some of the best parts of Jason's Firestorm run. It really lost something they switched him out for the Professor. There's a lot of potential for both characters. (I admit, I was never fond of Gen, but there are ways to bring her back too and complicate matters.)

    I wouldn't mind this if somehow things had worked out that Kendra AND Shiera could exist. But there's no potential in this for Kendra as it is. She's simply obliterated like she never existed. It makes me annoyed.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 9:00 PM, Blogger Shelly said…

    I'm glad it's Shiera. As long as it's always Carter, it should be Shiera. I liked Kendra, a lot, on her own. But as the reincarnation of Shiera, once Carter came back, Kendra went from being an interesting character to also ran. If Carter had been reborn as someone new or someone with amnesia, it would be a level playing field and fun watching them fall in love again. But it wasn't. It was about Carter and his needs and Kendra was at the disadvantage because he knew/remembered and she didn't. He belongs with Shiera and Shiera belongs with him and that's how it should be.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 9:37 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Why should Carter be the deciding factor?

    Kendra existed prior to Carter's resurrection. Why shouldn't she be the defining role? Heck, she even managed to solo her own series while both of them were still alive. Why not make Carter someone new?

    Really though, the series was doing fine with Carter and Kendra. It was, for the first time NOT about Carter's needs. He DIDN'T get Kendra back because he deserved her or needed her, he was getting Kendra because he was finally figuring out that he wanted Kendra not just the ghost of Shiera and was finding a way to approach HER.

    There could have been a way to 'bring Shiera back' while respecting Kendra as a character. Bring the memories back, slowly, have her learn to process how to be Kendra AND Shiera. Sure, the end result might easily end up more "Shiera" than "Kendra", but at least it's not an utter wipe-away.

    This way just makes them interchangeable. And takes away the character with a compelling solo story (how DO you deal with suddenly finding yourself the reincarnation of a very long life) as well as Carter's most compelling and sympathetic story yet to a character who has no conflict or role outside of being Carter's wife.

    Sorry, but I think it's a very poor, and insulting, trade.

     
  • At April 09, 2010 10:55 PM, Blogger Shelly said…

    I think that's how they wrote it. I certainly liked the Hawkgirl comic a lot more when it was just Kendra than when Carter came in. Kendra and Carter just didn't work well together. It's not my insult of them. It's how DC wrote them, IMO. They left Carter as is, but took away Shiera and that, to me, was the insult. So, I am very happy to have Shiera back. It won't make up for no Ralph and Sue, but it'll do, along with Arthur and Mera reunited.

     
  • At April 10, 2010 12:09 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I didn't mean to say YOU were insulting. I think DC insulted both of us with the way they did this honestly.

    Now what WOULD have been cool is if there were some way to split Shiera and Kendra and have both. Seeing the girls interact and Carter have to deal with both would have been kind of awesome.

     
  • At April 10, 2010 12:17 AM, Blogger Shelly said…

    Ah, sorry. I misunderstood. :)

    I never understood why they created Kendra as the reincarnation of Shiera. It did make for some nice conflicts when Carter came back, but there was a weird feeling about it. For me, it became a bit creepy, especially since she didn't remember him and their love, so he came across like a stalker.

    Frankly, I thought Kendra had more chemistry with Roy Harper.

     
  • At April 10, 2010 1:05 AM, Blogger notintheface said…

    I'm glad it wasn't just me, Kalinara. This did kind of seem like a giant "f--k you" to Kendra fans. At least Kyle and Wally got to stick around as popular supporting characters (and co-star in a spin-off in Kyle's case). Kendra just got completely erased from existence. And here I thought I'd be hard-pressed to find a DC legacy character who got treated WORSE than Connor Hawke.

    What's curious is that this was written by Geoff Johns, who was responsible for much of Kendra's character development. Was it his idea or editorial's?

     
  • At April 10, 2010 9:39 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I didn't think about it before, but actually this is also one more drop in the cup of Roy's heartache. He and Kendra were pretty tight there for a bit, and he was pretty broken up when she decided to go back and drool over Carter. So now he's lost his arm, his daughter AND his ex-girlfriend!

    Roy's having one hell of a week.

     
  • At April 10, 2010 12:43 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    I was nonplussed by the way they handled Sheira/Kendra. Your idea of Kendra Dealing With Memories would have been both more interesting and a more logical, organic evolution of her decade-long character arc.

    The Jason/Ronnie dynamic might prove interesting, but I'm not thrilled that the Firestorm fusion now has Ronnie's complexion.

    Leaving all the issues of Inclusivity vs. Tokenism aside -- and I consider those nontrivial -- but, quite frankly, that costume and that color combination simply looked better framing dark skin and African-American features.

     
  • At April 10, 2010 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What's interesting is that the Hawks are calling each other Carter and Shiera but isn't their hair color that of Katar and Shayera? I am not a fan of Kendra either. I only found her interesting b/c of the initial Sand storyline. Thought it was kind of gross that Carter was after her as he looked like a alot older compared to her.

    - Seafire

     
  • At April 10, 2010 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My one quibble is why J'ohn got pants when Wondy didn't after Blackest Night. What, the White Light is a guy?

     
  • At April 10, 2010 3:30 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Your Obedient Serpent: Can't disagree there. I like the fusion, but I wish Jason's traits dominated.

     
  • At April 10, 2010 10:48 PM, OpenID Arynne said…

    I totally agree. I suppose they'll defend it by pointing out that it never was Kendra - technically she died and her distant cousin Shiera took over her body and her memories - but that never seemed to matter to anybody, even her grandfather. Kendra was a character in her own right, with her own personality and her own story, no matter whose soul she had. Those early issues of JSA were some of Geoff Johns' finest work, and Kendra's journey of self-discovery was a big part of it. It's hard for me to go back and read them now without sadness.

     
  • At April 11, 2010 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hope Shiera remembers being Kendra, and realizes that she doesn't need to be fawning over Carter all the time.

    Other thing I really hope (ooooh, what a pretty blue ring!) that whoever writer Carter gets has enough sense to have him make a distinction between the two women. And maybe give the Hawks a chance to develop a new dynamics, instead of going straight to the OMG-soulmatez!!!!111 phase.

     
  • At April 12, 2010 11:53 PM, Blogger Jack Bennett said…

    One thing that might be overlooked (but I think played a big part behind the scenes) is that without bringing back the Thangarian Cops Katar and Shayera (sadly killed off and still dead) Johns and DC brought back a red haired Hawkgirl whose name sounds just like the one from the cartoon and who a whole generation thinks of (in their minds) as "Hawkgirl". She may not be Shayera Thal but for merchandising purposes it suits the same purpose. Also I think Johns JSA episode of Smallville which basically starred the "reincarnation/lost lovers" versions of Hawkman was a tip-off that THIS was the version DC was going to keep. And now he has a Hawkgirl to match from the cartoon too.

    As for Kendra. I was never a big fan. Didn't like the way she basically used Sand (one of my faves) and was always hot and cold with Carter (either tell him to get lost or don't already). And I thought the whole "romance" with Roy in JLA was forced - with of course no resolution since we never actually saw them break up (since the Hawks supposed to die in FInal Crisis and it was changed at the last minute). The interesting thing for me to see is how much of "Kendra" was Shiera and how much was the remnant of the original dead/suicide Kendra. I mean, as you point out, it's hard for me to see Shiera Hall pursue Sandy Hawkins who she knew as a child or bed Roy Harper.

     
  • At April 13, 2010 12:14 AM, Blogger Shelly said…

    Shiera was the Hawkgirl I remember. Before things got confused and retconned and redone and whatever, and I liked it all well enough, Shiera and Carter Hall were the human names Shayera and Katar Hol took when they decided to live on Earth and work in the museum. So Shiera is Shayera and that's how I think of her still, even though they changed it so Shiera became the reincarnation of Shay. I think that's what it is now. It's so confusing.cy

     
  • At April 13, 2010 12:17 AM, Blogger Shelly said…

    Ignore that cy at the end of my previous comment. It was supposed to go into the capcha box and I didn't notice it dangling there.

     
  • At April 17, 2010 4:36 PM, Blogger Steven said…

    It's extra annoying because the ending of the Hawkgirl series actually established that Shiera had moved on and the original Kenda was solely in charge; now we're pretending that that didn't even happen.

    I also really hope that whoever is in charge of Firestorm now actually read Jason's series; the Firestorm stuff in Blackest Night seemed to pretty seriously not jive with what those creators established.

     

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