Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

I'm back! And reading! And maybe even blogging! No promises!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Random Facts

Thanks to Gordon and his Wildcat facts and Ragnell and her Hippolyta Facts, I decided to do my own.

Basically I'm a sheep. :-)

Anyway, without further ado, here's my Random Facts about Mogo!

-Mogo's history and origin are not unknown, as some say. Actually, Mogo has written its own autobiography, however the tale was so impossibly provocative and moving, that it ended up banned from more than 3000 planets because the flood of tears that it inevitably inspired from every reader destabilized their ecosystems.

-Mogo did not begin life as a sentient planet, it actually started as a sentient asteroid in a sub-universe of giants. When it ended up here, all of the tiny occupants of this universe were just really confused and Mogo didn't have the heart to correct them.

-The only native inhabitant of Mogo: Chuck Norris

-Mogo does actually socialize. We're just not worthy of its attention.

-The greenery on Mogo is *not* stylized into a lantern shape because he is a Green Lantern, the Guardians made their emblem a lantern because they were so inspired by Mogo's foliage.

-Mogo has won the Green Lantern Corps beauty pageant for a consecutive span of 300 years. This year, however, it almost lost out to Kyle Rayner's ass. The tie was broken however, because Kyle Rayner's ass voted for Mogo too. It knew it couldn't compete.

-Mogo was the real reason for the Guardian-Zamaron split. As it is quite simply the most virile being in the entire universe, the Guardians were simply no comparison.

-Mogo accidently caused the Earth's ice age by blowing in its general direction.

-Mogo used to have a moon, but it started to get annoyed at how its tanning light was being blocked by solar eclipses, so it ate it.

-Mogo didn't need to call Oa for help against the Thanagarian invaders, but did anyway in order to give the little twits a fighting chance. It still didn't help.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Random Ridiculous Realization #11...I think.

I think it's 11, I've lost count somewhere along the way. Whatever. Anyway, I've just come to the conclusion that I'd really like to see some random crossover in which Bigby Wolf, John Constantine and Pete Wisdom meet up in a bar. Then they can kill shit, or whatever. I don't care. As long as they snark while doing it. Damn that would be a lot of snark. And cigarette smoke.

Probably get lung cancer being in the same room as them. But damn if it wouldn't be worth it. I so rarely get to indulge my Bogart-esque fetish.

*sighs wistfully*

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Secret Identities: My Thoughts

I've seen a number of interviews about plans for the DCU after the OYL gap. (Lots of acronyms there. :-)) And one thing keeps coming back into my mind, from what is said, apparently secret identities are going to become much more important.

I'm not sure what I think about this, to be honest. On one level, I'm happy because Secret Identities allow for a lot of interesting stories centering around the characters in non combat, non heroic settings. And if nothing else, many of the recent DCU plotlines elaborate the downsides of having public, or at least not as private as one would hope, identities.

However, there are certain characters that work very well having no secret identity. Diana for one. She should never, I think, have to hide who she is behind some fake identity. She's the embodiment of truth, she's royalty, she's an ambassador, and even without Themiscyra around, I want to see her remain in that sort of role.

The Green Lanterns, I've always been fine with as they are. Guy and John are publically known (which may be problematic OYL for John...Guy's in space.) Pretty much everyone who knows Kyle Rayner has figured out that he's also a Green Lantern, (dating the green superhero chick that the GL is romantic with in public, answering to the wrong name, and transforming in semi-public places...I love the boy, but honestly, he's a little dim. :-P) I think Hal's secret is causing possibly more potential problems now than if his identity were public. But I can see why he and Kyle, who have stronger surviving family ties, try to keep their identities secret, and why Guy and John don't. "Green Lantern" isn't really a code name after all, it's a job title, and thus it's not necessarily bad to know the man in uniform.

The Bat-clan *need* their identities kept mum. With all those psychotics running around with grudges, no one's safe. In fact, that was the one thing that bothered me about Identity Crisis. Considering how paranoid the Batclan are about their identities, how the hell did everyone and their dog know that Tim Drake was Robin? I mean, the Titans know of course. And the current JLA probably least the guys who knew Bruce was Batman. But how did Jean Loring find out? I mean DC comics are hard, timeline wise, but I could swear Ray's JL didn't know Batman's identity, and Jean divorced him before Tim Drake ever wore the tights. It was just a little weird.

I always loved the bit in Divided We Fall (thanks Mallet for catching that mistake) when Wally, Kyle and Eel are shocked that Superman *has* a secret identity. As he never wears a mask. It perfectly articulated why I was never bothered by no one connecting Kal-El to Clark Kent. People see what they expect to see. Superman's lack of mask means that no one's really looking too closely to try to figure out who he is. His costume is more eye catching than he is, so it's easy to see why so many probably never got a look at his face. The common person has heard at least of the Fortress of Solitude, and it's only a mild leap to think that Superman actually lives there. Why would Superman pretend to be human?

(Of course we all know that Clark Kent came first and Superman came second, but the average populace just knows he's an alien. It's easy to assume that he just came one day, settled in, and went with the helping people shtick.)

Superman's got a reason to be cautious. He might be nigh-invulnerable, but his parents are not. Other characters though have less to lose.

I don't know. I love seeing heroes in mundane situations, but I'm a little worried that it'll all become a bit cookie cutter again: "Oh no! Character B has almost found out that I'm Superman/Batman/Green Lantern/Wonder Woman/whatever". I don't like Secret Identities for the sake of Secret Identities themselves. And variety always makes things better... Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Always Remember:...

This is such fun I wanted to try for myself.

Always remember:

Heh, this is addicting...

On Rape 2: A Specific Look at Nightwing 93:

Yesterday I blogged about a particular issue in which I believe there is a particular subtext regarding sexual assault. I gave quite a few reasons why, as opposed to most instances of actual or implied rape in comics, that one actually worked for me.

The ambiguity of the scene was part of what worked for me, however, there are other occasions in which ambiguity is a mistake that weakens the plotline.

One such case is the rather infamous scene between Nightwing and Tarantula in his solo comic.

Now, I admit, as a comic reader, I have a mixed-sort of percieved relationship with Ms. Grayson's work. She is very skilled at evoking emotional intensity in her work. It is very easy, when one reads Ms. Grayson's stories, to feel involved in her heroes' plights. I thought she was particularly suited to Gotham Knights. Her take on the Bat-family dynamics allowed for very good reading. She particularly had a knack with Tim and Dick, and expressing what it must really feel like for these young men, to be so entrenched in Bruce's crusade. And the emotional intensity of Gotham Knights, was balanced by the elements of action in the other Batman books, as well as Nightwing and Robin.

On the other hand, I found Ms. Grayson's run on Nightwing much less satisfying. The emotional intensity that made Gotham Knights work so well became too overwhelming, I think, in a solo book setting. Bad thing after bad thing happened to poor Dick Grayson, shattering his entire support structure in the independent life he'd made for himself. Now I don't necessarily have a problem with the *idea* so much, it was the pacing. There was no downtime, no chance for the characters (or the audience) to breathe.

When things keep going from bad to worse without stinting, it becomes numbing, and making your audience numb is not really, I think, an ideal result. Whereas a few issues in which it actually feels like things are getting better...well, that makes the next bad thing hit harder. But doesn't make the audience feel like the series is drowning in angst. Gotham Knights didn't have this problem I think because a) there were more primary characters to focus on so that it didn't seem like all of the angst was targetting one person. And b) as I said above, it was balanced by the action in other books. As there really isn't an "action book" correlation of Nightwing, like Batman/Nightwing/Robin was to Gotham Knights, I didn't think the style worked as well.

Anyway, personally, I think that the scene I'm talking about, a scene I'd classify as a rape/sexual assault scene (with certain caveats), particularly highlights the flaws to Ms. Grayson's approach.

Now I have to say that tedium of a sexual assault storyline aside, I have nothing against the *idea* of a female-as-rapist storyline. I had no problem with Starman for example. And I don't really have any problems with Ms. Grayson's characterization of Dick or any other characters involved with the storyline.

My problem with it is two-fold and it involves pacing and execution. Now, I'm going to disclaim right now that I do not know what kind of editorial mandates might have interfered with the development of the storyline, so I can't judge whether any outside influences might have kept this story from being as potent as it should have been. I can only judge by what I see.

The pacing is a minor problem. Coming on the heels of the Blockbuster killing and everything else that happened thus far to Dick, it feels like overkill. Moreover, it's overkill that's not really necessary, the death of Blockbuster has pretty much sent Dick careening to rock bottom. This last bit is unnecessary...especially because it's not really addressed again. (More on this later). That makes it simply gratuitous.

Alright, the most obvious problem is the execution. Specifically the possible ambiguity of the sex scene. Now, in a real life scenario, I know I would probably classify the sequence as a sexual assault. Dick Grayson was, to me, not in his right mind, in shock, and not particularly capable of consent after the sudden killing of Blockbuster. His last words were something to the effect of "Don't touch me!" hence implying that he's not particularly enamored with the idea. Tarantula did not listen or wait for implicit consent.

However, in another sense, I have to acknowledge the ambiguity of the scene as well, in terms of an audience member. How many times, I ask myself, have I seen a movie, soap opera, or read a book in which a distraught female protagonist yells to her male love interest "Don't touch me!" after a specifically horrifying event, only to have said interest soothe her hysteria and calm her down with activities of a sexual nature. This sort of scene is rarely portrayed as an assault. And it is possible that Tarantula herself saw it similarly. Which doesn't negate the sexual assault aspects, but it does muddy the issue.

See the problem here though is that comic audiences are primarily young men. Nightwing's audience is probably closer to fifty/fifty, but that's still half the target audience. Young men aren't really taught to identify with the rape victim to begin with. Young men are raised with very peculiar ideas of sexuality. Look for example at the most recent scandal with the 23-24 year old teacher and the 13 year old student. There are actually male comedians mocking the boy for turning her in, because she's physically attractive and because it's sex. They mock a statuatory rape victim for turning in the aggressor, and they say obscene things about how they would have enjoyed that as a kid.

So a rape scenario between a man and a woman, with the woman as aggressor is not going to be a scenario that guys immediately comprehend. And it could have been so very good, especially given Ms. Grayson's knack for emotion. However, it wasn't. And a big part of that was the ambiguity. If it's hard enough for men to contemplate the idea that a man can be raped, and by a woman no less, it's even harder with more ambiguous circumstances. So this is not really a scenario that should be handled delicately this time.

I remember on a message board reading how a male fan was very upset that Nightwing was turned into a "sniveling submissive rape victim." While I actually disagree with that assessment, I can understand how it came about. There's a lot more stigma attached to guys getting raped than women. They should have been able to fight it, they had an erection/orgasm and thus secretly wanted it to happen..."blame the victim" mentality is strong whether the victim is male or female. And as I said, most guys are not raised to think about the possibility of it happening to them. So for guys to go along with the storyline, I think it has to be *shocking*. It has to drive home that this isn't kinky sex, this isn't something enviable. This is a violation.

(Starman, I think handled it better in terms of a male audience. Jack Knight was unconscious. Had no memory of it. No lingering trauma because of it. However, as he was unconscious, there was no question of it being without his consent. Thus the guys were able to accept that storyline more, I think)

I think the major problem was that Ms. Grayson wanted to keep using Tarantula as a hero. Which isn't really possible if she was a more obvious rapist. Right now, she has plausible deniability. She didn't realize he wasn't consenting. If the rape were more blatant, less ambiguous, she wouldn't have that safety net. However, by making the rape dubious enough to allow Tarantula to remain even marginally a "good-guy",it made Dick Grayson look weak enough that many male readers were lost. (Disclaimer: I don't think actual men who suffer from any form of rape are weak, of course, but it is, sadly, not an uncommon notion).

Now what lost me was the lack of a resolution to the whole mess. See, I understand catharsis, I do. I'll read a lot of intensely dramatic, so deeply emotional that it gives me a headache, sort of stuff and enjoy it. However, I don't see the point in wallowing like that if there's not going to be some satisfying resolution. Nightwing confronting Tarantula with her actions and making her leave Bludhaven, for example, would have worked for me. He loses it and she realizes the error of her ways. That might have worked for me. He loses it, Bruce realizes how much of a jerk and absentee dad-figure he is, Tarantula is punished by an irate Barbara Gordon, and all the bat family gets to have a cute early Gotham Knight-esque moment before things go to hell. (I did get the Bruce-Dick scenes I wanted, a year or so later, under Geoff Johns's pen.)

Now this resolution part I don't really think is Ms. Grayson's fault. Between War Games and Nightwing Year One, she probably didn't have time to show a good resolution. But it was frustrating nonetheless. (And another reason I didn't like it tacked onto Blockbuster's murder is that the Blockbuster incident seemed much more important, overshadowing what should have been a personal horrifying event...and stole away the resolution.)

JSA didn't need a resolution because of the particular sort of subtext it was, because it was a mid-confrontation flashback...and even then, it *did* get resolved somewhat, when the JSA broke in to save the kid, and the Spectre temporarily ate Johnny Sorrow. In Nightwing, the storyline is the now, which means that there is a lot more need for a truly satisfying resolution. I feel gypped.

Basically, I think before a writer should be allowed to write this sort of "ambiguous story", they should ask themselves a few questions:

1. Is this intended to be rape?
2. Does this happen past or present. If it's the past, why does the memory come back now? If now, what's happening now to facilitate it?
3. What character is the victim, what character is the rapist? Do the choices suit their IC actions/circumstances?
4. How in depth should I make the incident? Specifically how graphic should it be, how much detail? Do I have to be overt, or does the storyline stand without it?
5. What kinds of immediate ramifications will this have on the characters?
6. What is the "payoff"?*

*payoff* meaning the part of all this that'll make the reader glad they stuck through all the angst and turmoil. What scene will make it worth it to have been reading these past months. And that's what's missing for me. The payoff should be triumphant in a sense...either the villain's been brought to justice or the victim has made some very strong, unmistakable progress toward healthy recovery. Something like that, I'm pretty easy...

Anyway, I think every writer should be thinking of those questions, and once they've made the decision to go with it, they shouldn't stint what they're trying to show. It'll just weaken the entire thing.

Okay, I'm done now, thanks for making it through all this.

Friday, January 27, 2006

On Rape and Sexual Assault in Comics:

Ragnell posts very eloquently about sexual assault here. Definitely worth a read. I wrote a long thing myself in the replies. You probably don't have to read that, but it's got most of my opinions about the subject.

But I thought of a few more things to add here.

I have never been sexual assaulted/raped/molested. But like every other woman in this country and probably around the world, I've had to deal with the possibility of it happening all of my life. I know women who've been raped. Women very close to me. Women who've never done anything to deserve it (not that anyone could ever deserve rape). Women who've done far less risky, stupid shit than I have. The only reason I've avoided it thus far is that I've been lucky. And I know, everytime I'm walking to work at eleven 0'clock at night, after the buses stop being regular but before the Night Owl starts only takes once for my luck to run out.

I don't dress provocatively. (I'm lazy and want to be comfortable). My hair is perpetually bedraggled, I don't wear makeup (too time consuming and my skin will itch). But the girls I know...they weren't dressed any different than I am. None of us are incredibly beautiful or alluring or any such nonsense...but people are idiots if they think lust is all that motivates sickos like that.

And you know what, maybe I'm being selfish, maybe rape survivors do like seeing so many characters recover from being raped to become strong happy women, but I'd like to see it a little less. Comics are escapism for me, and while I like lots of drama and angst...I could do with a bit less hitting close to home thanks. I don't mean cut it out entirely. But save it for something like Identity Crisis, where you need something that monstrous to motivate the heroes into crossing a line.

And as I said in my reply there: subtlety is better than overt. I don't need to see all the details. I usually don't even need to see it said. I mean, personally, it's pretty obvious that Starfire's backstory contains some of that. Then there's JSA 18, as I mentioned. And the thing is, I think it's largely well done in these situations, and I'm perfectly okay with them, and I'll explain why in a second.

But first, let's look at JSA 18. Third issue in the Injustice Society plotline, majority consists of the answer to "who the hell is Johnny Sorrow?"

Now it might just be me, but I personally thought that the whole Johnny Sorrow segment where he kidnapped little Sandy the Golden Boy from his room at night...well, it was creepy. More than creepy. I seriously read it and thought, holy hell, they actually went there. (Which is the reaction a rape plotline is *supposed* to have, damnit!)

I mean, maybe it wasn't meant to have read like that. Maybe I'm just sick-minded. But damn if I don't see some very specific hints in the art:

One hell of a creepy opening.

Look at that for example. Specifically the detail of the kid's clothes. Do you notice what I notice? They're coming the fuck *off*. And that's a very deliberate, very subtle detail I think. I didn't catch it the first time through, but then I did and I was creeped out. Christ.

"I took the liberty of dressing you."

Next page. Okay, with or without any other implications on the previous page. That's fucking creepy. That's fucking traumatizing thank you. Imagine going to bed in your nice, warm, safe bedroom. A place that by all standards of decency and ethics should be inviolate. And then you're nabbed by a villain and you wake up in a different set of clothes. And your captor tells you he *changed your clothes* while you were unconscious. This guy has now seen you at the most defenseless and vulnerable you have ever been. That's horrific. (And part of why I like Sorrow as a villain so much. Shut the fuck up, Doctor Light, let Johnny Sorrow show you how horror's done *right*.)

And as Ragnell pointed out to me...notice the word choice. He doesn't say "I've changed your clothes." He says he *dressed* him. *shudders* Completely different vibe there.

Okay, fast forward through a bunch of backstory and some hitting of the poor tied-up kid and otherwise physically domineering positions (you can see for yourself). Yay for rescue:


Notice the stammer. It's a very small point, but significant. Go earlier in the issue, see how Sandy talks and acts during the robbery before it goes wrong. Go to JSA Returns and read "A Terrifying Hour" and see how he acts there (for more specific Geoff Johns characterization), go to the JSA issue of Sins of Youth (he's a little quieter there, but he's also the adult reduced physically to a kid, which isn't the same), and if you must, go read Creature in the Velvet Cage. Though it's bad and off-kilter in terms of Post-Crisis character development. Sandy the fucking Golden Boy doesn't stutter. He's brash, confident and smart alecky. He's fast-talking and quipping. He's always smiling. And always saying/thinking about how invulnerable he feels as the Golden Boy.

That stammer, to someone like me who reads way the hell too far into things sometimes, turns into something heartbreaking. That stammer doesn't belong on the Golden Boy. That stammer doesn't even belong on the much quieter and mature adult. (I think little Sandy would totally not have let Hawkman get away with being an ass; he'd say something like "Wow, you're a tough guy, picking on a kid!"). It's a nice subtle touch as to the trauma of the experience I think. (It might be worth noting that we never see grown-up Sand show as much of the smart-ass as he does in the next issue when chained to a giant stalagmite. Still waters run deep and the smart aleck always stays with the man.)

Last one fast forward a bit more, the fight is over, which maybe negates my whole point, or does it:


Yep, he's okay now that he's safe. It's not like he's ever going to *lie* to *Wesley* about his state, right? (JSA 70: "I told him I didn't remember being locked in this cage. That I wasn't aware of anything all those years. I lied."/"And to make Sandman follow me-- --I'll have to lie again." "You have nothing to blame yourself for, Wesley. I didn't feel a thing.") It doesn't read like textbook repression/denial at all right? And denial's not remotely a common reaction to that sort of trauma, especially among male victims...


And hell, it would explain a lot. His skittishness with Kendra, for example. He hasn't said one word to her about it (except when out of his head, which doesn't count), he hasn't pursued her at all, and even the dream/fantasy in the hospital room in 64 is very, surprisingly chaste for a young man. Could be that he's just a nice young man and very old-fashioned. But it might not.

Anyway, I bring this up for a reason. I very much...well, enjoyed isn't the right word...but I reread this storyline a lot. And each time I reread, I become more...certain that there are indeed subtextual implications of sexual assault.

So why am I okay with it?

Well, there's the deniability factor. It's not stated, it's implied at best, and possibly not even intentionally so, though I think the clothing in particular seems like too subtle and deliberate a touch to be unintentional. But if you don't want to read it that way, you don't have to. There's enough overtly traumatizing factors to suit the story that the subtext only adds an additional gloss of horror. Also because if it's never brought up, then it can't bog down the storyline in depressing angst (c.f. Outsiders) (Though damn if it wouldn't be satisfying seeing the old school JSAers: Alan, Jay, Ted...hell even Carter tear Sorrow apart for it. Hell, I bet Pat Dugan would get in on the act...probably worse than the others, he's *got* kids that age). But regardless...

There's the shock factor. Rape is supposed to be shocking after all, that's why they started using it and why so many people ran with the idea. It's supposed to be viscerally horrific. But we see it so damn often now that it's lost that. When I see that sort of plotline, I only ever see exasperation. But as I said, reading JSA...I sincerely reacted with: "I can't believe they actually went there." I was disgusted and horrified. But in the right way. In the, "I'm so into this storyline that I actually want to eviscerate this badguy" sort of way.

There's the characterization factor. Now I'm not trying to say rape victims can't move beyond it to be strong and forceful, that's a ridiculous thing to say. But there are particular characters that the past-rape storyline works best in the past of than others. Wonder Woman and Power Girl should not be. Not because of their personalities so much, but their symbolic attributes. Yes a woman who is raped can be as strong as either of these women, but these women are supposed to represent the idealized notion of womanhood. As such, I have to say, they should be inviolate. Now, Grace Choi, for all my problems with that storyline, makes sense. She's strong and wonderful, and she's clearly had experience with the darker aspects of the world and moved beyond them.

Sand works as a victim for me, though one that's not moved quite as far beyond as Grace has, of course. His overt quiet, compared to the much more expressive caption introspection and compared to the Golden Boy's cheerful chirping, works with it. He's been touched by his experience as a monster already, so that adds that touch of "survivor" that accomodates my reading of this event as well. (A character with a "survivor" thread due to one event can more easily accomodate an added thread, when it seems much less likely that another character's why Jade's molestation story never worked for me. She doesn't read like someone who's had to experience the darker side at all...nor is she repressed enough to hide it.)...Sand's also a "still waters run deep" sort of character. There's a lot of room to explore the character beneath the surface, which allows for multiple readings.

It also suits Johnny Sorrow's particular obsession. (Emphasized by how he started to react when Sand began to mouth off to him in the next issue.) He serves the Elder Gods, probably has tea with freakin' Cthulu, if the copyright's run out. Guy like that is bound to be all about power and domination.

It's also got a little bit of variety now that it involves the less obvious character of the younger set. Kendra would be the obvious choice, as she's female and aggressive, and a little jaded. Courtney would be a horrid choice, but that wouldn't stop a weaker writer. (Though I hope no one is tasteless enough to bring that idea up to Mr. Johns. Egads.) In short, it makes me happier because it's a boy. Not because I hate men. Just because it's something a little different.

Mostly though, it's the horror aspects. The flashback is supposed to be horrific. It's supposed to be terrible and traumatizing and terrifying. And honestly, I thought it was. Reading that scene, I started remembering the way my heart races when I walk to work late at night. It was subtle but visceral.

So yeah, if you're going to be lazy enough to do a rape/sexual assault plot, do it the fuck *right*.

That is all. :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I love Ragnell <------------------This----------------> Much

Lookit what she made for me:

I *might* have provided the motto though.

Inspired by Dorian.


Why didn't anyone TELL me about this?

I got ahold of something I didn't even know *existed* today. 1999 "JSA Returns" comics.

Why did I not know these existed? They're perfect! The covers are all wonderfully old-school, and even use "National Allied Productions" and the other names of the original companies that eventually all became the DCU we know and love.

And it's got *Sandy*! *Sandy*! Cute, smart alecky, impetuous and competent little sidekick Sandy! I've been hunting for ages for stuff with the kid pre-Sand Monsterdom. Why didn't anyone tell me that Geoff Johns wrote a cute post-crisis, 1940s story with *Sandy the Golden Boy*?! Damn you all for failing me like this! I should have *known* about this!

The issue in particular that I'm squeeing over is Star-Spangled Comics #1. Sandman and the Star-Spangled Kid team up and get taken out, so Pat Dugan and Sandy the Golden Boy get to save the day!

It's a little obscene, because in the midst of all the cuteness you get lines like this:

Sandy regarding their poor adversary: "It's almost sad really, that guy wasn't turned into a monster by choice, y'know. I can't even begin to imagine what that's like."

That's just mean, man. Remind us of the half-a-century of monsterdom, will ya?

And at the end, when the day is saved:

Wesley's decided they could use another tactical advantage: "Next time I'm not taking any chances. Been working on that new weapon design. Time to put it into action."
What is this weapon design, you ask, well Sandy can answer for us: "The silicoid gun you were telling me about? Neat!"


That's just really freakin' cruel man.


And it makes me even more upset that there isn't a post crisis replacement version for The Creature in the Velvet Cage.

I mean come *on*, there's some good ideas there, but it really doesn't work with the post-crisis versions of the characters. And Wesley should never be that much of an ass.

Fine, since you're not gonna do it, I *am*. If This Monstrosity, proves nothing else, it shows that I won't back down from a challenge! And compared to a planetary orgy, this wouldn't be *that* difficult.

*rolls up sleeves* If ya want something done, ya gotta do it yourself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I'm not proud of this:

I don't know if anyone remembers me posting this.

But anyway...I wrote it. I would not advise anyone *actually* read it. Seriously.

On the other hand, at least I have the dubious honor of being the first person to ever write a planetary orgy. (God willing.) So yeah, without further ado:

Mogo Does the Universe

(Warning: Do Not Read if You Are Sane)

Oh and on a loosely related note, look! A neat meme.

ETA: I have now drawn Mogo here. Art is *not* my strong suit. :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Yes, Guy *is* the man!

From Green Arrow v2 issue 23:

It's official. Women everywhere love Guy Gardner.

It's the haircut.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Random Nightly Thought: Superheroes, Idealistic or Classist Propaganda

I have a friend who is very insightful and intelligent who once told me that she didn't like Superhero comics in general because she thought that they were classist. They were upholding the status quo, which means that the people in power stay in power, while the people below stay below. And she felt that the whole movement had its roots in old classist notions of heroes who were "born better" than the ordinary man.

It's an interesting perspective, really. Personally, I've always felt it to mean something different. The appeal of the superhero to me, has always been that most of these people are relatively ordinary and identifiable but have found something about themselves that's exceptional, that they are able to channel in a way to help their fellow beings. Whether it's because they're powerful aliens, born with nifty powers,have had something happen to them...whether it's because of something many people have: intelligence, imagination, altruism, blind faith. I've always thought that the varied kinds of Superheroes really represented how everyone had their own unique gifts that could be used to somehow make the world better.

My friend resents the idea that the heroes are presented in a way that emphasizes some sort of inner nobility and self-sacrifice. I have to admit, I can't really present her argument properly because I've never been able to see why these attributes *shouldn't* be considered admirable.. Unless, perhaps what she resents is that perhaps the hero archetype presents the notion that it is admirable to sacrifice one's own individual needs for some sort of governmental ideal (truth, justice and the American Way!) or a charismatic individual's goals (see Professor Xavier). I should really ask her to write about it formally some time so I can link to it.

I'm not really posting this to argue one way or another, but it is an interesting point of view. Especially since, I personally, have always been of the idea that superheroes were the ultimate symbols of freedom and transcendence. I've never been particularly sensitive to propaganda and I can be a little easily influenced.

In the end it probably doesn't matter, entertaining characters and stories are entertaining characters and stories.

But it's still a fairly interesting thought to play with late at night when I should be asleep...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Sudden Insight: Black Circle and Zero Hour

I was rereading the Green Lantern/Green Arrow Black Circle storyline and I got to thinking about Ollie's irrational dislike of Kyle. I'm not trying to say that Kyle's not sometimes obnoxious enough to merit certain conflicts.

But Ollie's usually a *little* better about that. He's worked with Carter without much trouble and Carter's a lot harder to get along with than Kyle is. I mean, Kyle's own prickliness is somewhat justified; the kid's high-strung, in the middle of a stressful time, and Ollie's being a completely unreasonable ass when they *could* be working together and have the damn thing done by now and be completely out of each other's hair.

But Ollie's usually not this unreasonable. Is it just bad writing?

Then I read Zero Hour again (I *like* Zero Hour), and had a realization when I saw this scene again: (Zero Hour #0, pages 19-20)

Page 19
Page 20

So yeah, I think everyone remembers this part. When Ollie shot Hal to stop him from destroying/rewriting the universe.

But notice...Ollie doesn't shoot Hal to save the universe, I think he shoots Hal out of anger, because of what happened to alt!Batgirl. I don't think Ollie's unsympathetic here, far from it. But he didn't shoot Hal to save the universe. And to an idealist like Ollie...that's gotta haunt him.

And Kyle's there too. The very green (pun unintended) kid who's been Green Lantern for maybe 5-6 issues by this point. The kid who's got Hal in a hold, calling for Ollie to stop, wait, Hal's powerless now!

The kid who ends up unintentionally sharing Hal's fate.

A few issues of Green Lantern later, there are some crossovers, with Warrior, with the Titans, in both cases there's a very pointed reaction of "I thought you were dead!" As far as most of the DCU knew by that point, the littlest Lantern was killed, sucked up into that vortex with Hal Jordan.

So as far as Ollie knew, he'd not only killed his best friend, but a total innocent in the process. Out of anger. And hell, what if the kid was right? What if it hadn't been necessary?

And that has to grate on a guy like Ollie. He's got that guilt: killed his friend, killed the kid, because he didn't listen. Sure both turned up alive again later, but that's almost circumstantial. Ollie's also the sort to express guilt/grief/pain/sorrow outwardly as anger, as often as not, I think. He's got to have a lot of self-recrimination/self-directed anger there. But he's going to lash outward instead.

And then there's resentment of Hal. Hal's his best friend of course, but he also went crazy and put Ollie in that position in the first place! Rewriting the universe, screwing with time, killing Batgirl. But Hal's his best friend, he's crazy and ultimately he's dead. So that meant a lot of anger that couldn't be focused on its original target.

There's resentment of Kyle. He's glad on some level that he didn't cause the kid's death, but why does *he* get to come back well, whole and sane and not Hal? Why is his best friend the one to be crazy and die, while this kid gets to use the name and powers and be smartass and irreverent and metrosexual, and completely not-Hal. (For the record, I don't think Ollie's got a problem with metrosexuals in general, just that it's yet another way this kid isn't Hal. Well, post-Crisis Hal anyway, Silver Age Hal is a *whole* different bird.)

And there's another part too: revisiting what I said earlier. Ollie's an idealist. That at the moment he shot his friend, he wasn't really thinking about saving the universe. He was *angry*. He acted against his own morals, hurt someone for a reason that while sympathetic and understandable is certainly not heroic...

And that kid is a witness to it, that kid saw him violate the heroic code, or something like that. That kid knows. And is probably judging him for it every time he sees him.

With all that probably going on in Ollie's head, his insane behavior in Black Circle starts to make a whole lot of sense. And Kyle, sensitive to the emotional undercurrents even if he doesn't know the cause, would undoubtedly set him off. No one likes to be unjustly attacked after all, especially when under a lot of stress.

So yeah, now, it all makes sense to me. So I can enjoy Black Circle for the fun adventure I think it is, instead of griping about possible OOC-ness. Yay me!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dan Didio is an evil genius:

I mean it. Seriously. The man is a marketing genius. Whether you like or hate what DC's doing with the Crisis/OYL stuff, it's a brilliant decision for sales.

First, you have the Crisis, and the chance to (yet again) attempt to simplify and streamline certain aspects of the DCU. Whether it ends up successful or not, it will be an exciting story, and streamlining is always a good thing when it comes to newer fans. Mr. Didio's indicated that the world will return to a single universe, and one can probably assume it'll be close to the current DCU, considering the solicits still sound like roughly the same universe, and bad guys aren't supposed to win in comics anyway.

The particular advantage here is that it seems like a lot of the planning for the Post-2nd Crisis universe is in the hands of relatively "new school" writers like Mr. Johns and Mr. Morrison. While I mean no offense to the veterans of the trade, having much of the creative planning in the hands of the relatively "newer generation" of writers will probably enable the Post-Post-Crisis (*why* are they both Crises?!) Universe to develop its own feel and tone faster. And the OYL stuff means that unlike, say, Zero Hour, there won't be as much return to the status quo. (The quick resuming of every other comic line I think helped the impression that Zero Hour didn't do what it was supposed to do. There wasn't any time or reflective change).

OYL's a brilliant decision too, a lot of would-be-comic fans balk at jumping in at the hundredth or so issue of a series. Back issues are nice and all, but that's a lot of hunting if you can't find Trades. With the success of Batman Begins and the upcoming Superman and Wonder Woman movies, DC has to be anticipating new fans. With the OYL, a lot of series will end, a lot will start again, and the ones that continue will at least have to wrap up a lot of their more complex plots in order to start from a fresh point a year later. Thus, the new fans can start with the OYL stuff, where they might only have to catch up on 1-5 previous issues to understand the plot, rather than god knows how many.

Let's look at Countdown and Ted Kord. Ted Kord's a funny character that almost everyone liked, but no one really paid attention too. He's got legacy and impact, and played a major role in the first Crisis, but since then was mismanaged in his own series, was fun in JLA/JLI/JLE until they went with the less comic/more dramatic current batch, and had fun bit parts in Birds of Prey and certain other nostalgia type stuff like Formerly Known As The Justice League. Ted didn't have the momentum to front a book anymore, even if he is, as most DCU people are, more than complex and interesting enough to make for a good book under the right writers.

I'm sure there were other reasons why Ted was the one picked for the death in Countdown, but from a fan's perspective, he was perfect. Countdown highlighted all the aspects of Ted's character that would be perfect in his own series, emphasized his humanity and connection with the fans (he's much easier to identify with than Batman or Superman for example)...and really seemed to hint to me that at some point, in some form, he'll be back. (I think all the pros who say otherwise are either lying, or just haven't found the right time, sales wise to bring him back in one form or another. I think that about every dead character: I'm just cynical that way. :-))

But I'm definitely going to give Reyes a chance as the Blue Beetle. Countdown and Crisis has pretty much ensured BB #1 will sell well. Then it's up to Jaime Reyes to carry the series. If he doesn't carry it, if sales drop, well, they've got another possibility in the wings...and that would *definitely* sell, at least long enough for the writers to get their footing. And if Reyes can carry a series under Giffen's pen, then Ted'll probably be back eventually some other way: a ghost, a confused computer program, a hallucination, a zombie, whatever. Someday, someone will bring him back. And that'll sell books too.

It's genius really.

And from a more out-of-comics standpoint, let's look at Mr. Frank Miller and All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Many people love his work, many people hate it. I know, personally, I liked Sin City well enough, but his Batman isn't my Batman. But he sells books. Can't deny that.

So DC gives him one. AS:BARTBW or whatever acronym you choose to use. It's perfect, really. Out of canon, so Mr. Miller can play with the characters as much as he likes without making us more...traditional?...Batman fans cringe and go "That's not how it happened! I hate this retcon!!1!"

But see, this is perfect. Some of us hate All Star: Batman, some of love it, but most of us are talking about it in some form or another.

And you know, publishing those scripts was genius too. All Star Batman's cheesy, tawdry cheesecake objectification (few folks can deny it)...but with those scripts, well, *clearly* it's not DC or Mr. Lee's instigation. Mr. Didio's managed to very subtly shift all the credit/blame onto Mr. Miller's shoulders. "Hey, it wasn't our idea," it implies, "This is all his."

Very very clever. Evilly, diabolically clever. I'm not sure whether I'm in love with Mr. Didio or if I just want to *be* Mr. Didio someday. Either way, color me Impressed.

Revisiting the Wizard Quiz...

You know, I was reading the solicits for April, and thinking about Infinite Crisis 4, and suddenly remembered that Wizard "quiz" a couple of months back. Specifically that one question:

One of these characters will be the only one around after "Infinite Crisis": The Flash/Wally West, Superboy/Conner Kent, Green Lantern/Guy Gardner, Nightwing/Dick Grayson

See, like almost everyone else, I figured that meant only one of these guys will be active OYL. Which worried me, because I really don't want to lose Guy or Conner.

But then, at Facedown in the Gutters, Jon had a different interpretation (scroll down), which I thought was neat, even if I didn't think it was plausible.

See, Jon read the "will be the only one around" as referring to the only one of its *type* around. Which made sense for the Flashes and Green Lanterns; there were so many after all. But not so much for Nightwing or Superboy. There was only one of each, I figured... So it didn't work for me.

But you know...:

"The streets of New York have never seen anything like the war raging between twin super-powered crime lords and...twin Nightwings?" (April's Nightwing Solicit...)

Hey there...

And then with Crisis...we're only four books in, in a seven book series. You can't tell me the Flashes are gone for good, not yet anyway. Just like the Earth-2 stuff...hell, Parallax *did* manage to wipe out the universe for a little bit in Zero Hour before they fixed everything again...

And there are certainly two Superboys to play with...and really, given the way things have turned out, it's really not likely that Superboy Prime (as sympathetic as he ended up) will be able to stay in the DCU.

But even if I'm wrong, and Clark stays and Jay's the last Flash, or's pretty nifty isn't it? A nice way to show how by giving us a hint, they might have deliberately led us down the wrong speculative path. Heh, that's really really clever. I look forward to seeing if that's the case.

(And really, it means I lose fewer of my favorite characters that way, :-) Denial is fun.)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Just a little gleeful!

This is just a little spoilery, but they actually said it last issue, so I don't feel bad:

They brought back Johnny Sorrow!

I *love* Johnny Sorrow. He's got such fun potential as a villain. He's a bit wastes in a team book though. His particular Lovecraftian tendancies would be better utilized in a horror-themed solo comic. But he's still good for a lot of fun.

And it's a bit of a relieving sign, because Johnny Sorrow's one of those characters that only really suits an enemy team if his adversary is on the hero team.

Which means Sand's probably not going to die! Yay! (If they *can* kill him...) I was a little nervous about him not being on any OYL covers. Then again, much as I love him, a tiny guy in skintight hunter green, a gas mask and a trenchcoat isn't quite as visually flashy or intimidating like the others.

So yeah, this bodes well. Whenever Sorrow shows, Sand gets to do something cool. (Wanna juggle the Rock of Freaking Eternity, anyone?)

(And hey, it's kind of funny that of all the JSA-ers, *Sand* is the one with two personal-type enemies in the Injustice Society [Icicle and Sorrow]. So any IS story should be good. :-))

Yep, I'm happy.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lazy, Shameless Self-Promotion

Aww, look at Kyle. He's sleeping! And his evil split personality is escaping! Isn't that cute?!

Anyway, I'm lazy enough tonight to not actually post anything of substance tonight at all.

Though if you want to see something *I* think is kind of neat: for a while, my very good friend and I have been working on an online manga-style comic.

Yeah, yeah, I'm a hypocrite. :-)

Anyway, I do the script-writing, she does the drawing (as well as web design and anything else visually creative), and the story is pretty much fifty-fifty. We don't update very often as University and other Real Life things have gotten in the way. But if all goes well, we're going to have a lot of time this coming year. :-)

So if you're curious:

The Pen Stealer

(If you do end up reading it, please remember that the pages are laid out like Japanese manga, so the panels should read from right to left. :-))

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Another Likely Unpopular Opinion: Snapper Carr

I confessed to one earlier when I said I didn't like Charles Xavier. Now I've got an opposite one:

I like Snapper Carr.

In fact, I love Snapper Carr.

I'm even slightly fond of him in his pre-crisis dorky "hip" teenager-hood in JLA. He was endearingly obnoxious. Sometimes I like that in a character. I was dorky like that as a kid too.

But anyway, regardless of that, Post-Crisis Snapper Carr is one of my favorite characters in the DCU. And it's really hard to explain why.

See, I'm a relative newbie fan, so I'm one of those folks that gets to read stuff incredibly out of order. So when I first encountered Snapper Carr, it was in Young Justice, as the new mentor guy.

And I thought he was great. (Not in the least because that Nightwing shirt is a thing of beauty). Really, though, I thought he was the perfect balance to those kids. Easygoing enough to be largely unphased by their...eccentricities, but also knows when to be a grownup.

And even though he was sent to be the guardian-figure by the JLA, he also knows when to help the kids instead of hinder them. Like in the link above, he knows the kids are just going to go invade Zandia anyway. He can't stop them. So he's going to help them do it *right*.

He really won my interest while Secret was losing it, when Tornado muses that it was odd the Spectre didn't show up to help, and Snapper confesses that he told him everything's fine. This is something the kids would have to handle themselves. That's a very risky decision, but he's got a point too. These aren't just kids, they're *superheroes*, and thus they have to learn to stand on their own two feet. (Besides, it led to that great candid-Tim Drake/Secret scene). It was exactly the right decision to make and showed how much faith he had in the kids.

So yeah, I found him neat. So Diamondrock convinced me to give Hourman a try. And it was, of course, very good. And Snapper Carr ended up my favorite character in the series.

As sidekick/mentor (bizarre combination that :-P) he got to be a little more complex than in Young Justice, and really, had at least as much of a starring role in the comic as Hourman himself.

And he's neat! Grown-up a lot from that obnoxious youngster. He managed to get just the right sort of attitude with Hourman, most of the time. He makes some mistakes (it's clear that he learned to deal with the kids in Young Justice through this experience) but in general manages to be exactly what Hourman needs.

Hourman's looking for human experiences and in the series, Snapper basically becomes his guide. From coffee buying to dating, he's got just the right amount of easygoing brotherly flippancy that makes even embarrassing mistakes okay, because heck, it's not a big deal. He even makes a show at being unimpressed by Hourman's ship and powers, because that's exactly what Hourman needs. Someone who won't be awed and amazed and call attention to his alienness, but someone who can appreciate his normality and teach him humanity.

In Hourman, Snapper's the quintessential embodiment of humanity. He's creative, crafty, sneaky, mischievous, eccentric, and independent. He has no powers (anymore), but finds ways to be useful in various situations through his ingenuity. (Like talking a demon out of killing him). He loves his cat and is generally a nice guy to everyone. His wardrobe of super-hero shirts is the best thing ever.

He's also haunted by the past, by self doubt, by shame and his "betrayal", which everyone but him has already forgiven. He's being chained down from his potential because he can't let go of the past. And there's nothing more human than that.

And he's really a great guy. He can joke cheerfully with a police officer friend, even as he's being arrested and carted off to the station. He introduced his ex-wife to his new robot friend because he believed they were great for each other. And the only person he seems to hold a grudge against is himself. And by the end of the series, he's grown as much as Hourman had. It's really satisfying to see.

(And issue 15-16 did NOT make me a little misty. Did NOT... Hmph.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Fashion Fueled Interlude

Heh, since everyone's complaining about Ion's costume (I like it, myself, but then I also liked the crab mask and the dog collar, so my taste is questionable).

Besides, artist or not, Kyle's made some pretty bad fashion choices in the past. He's no Ted Kord with neon orange socks color coordinated to his blazer, or Dick Grayson and his multi-colored polka dots, big collar and mullet...but still...

See this outfit from Green Lantern 89. There's a better look at it here.

Oh, honestly, Kyle sweetie, wearing brown and black together? That's like wearing white after Labor Day. *disappointed sigh*

Monday, January 16, 2006

On Charles Xavier:

I have a really unpopular opinion coming up, I think. One that might shock a lot of people. It's about Marvel. For once. About the great and wise, Professor X.

I hate him.

That's right, you heard me. I absolutely despise Professor Charles Xavier. I think he's an idiot, and quite honestly, fairly monstrous. Your mileage may vary of course.

Let's start with why I think he's an idiot. That's the hardest to justify I'd imagine, as he's Charles Xavier. I don't doubt he's a brilliant man, and very powerful, but when it comes to PR, he's a complete buffoon.

See, okay, I get that mutancy's like a metaphor for race, for sexual orientation, et cetera. (It's a very visible isolating quality often, like race, and can occur for seemingly anyone, no matter their parentage, like sexual orientation.) I get that Xavier preaches a message of tolerance and brotherly togetherness like Martin Luther King Jr.

So how does he go about it? Peaceful protests? Public appearances to show that mutants really aren't any different?

Nope, he raises a *private* *army*. One that the average populace only sees in huge battles (usually against other private mutant armies) that cause immense property damage, and occasionally even hurts bystanders. Yeah, that's gonna help your cause, isn't it, Professor X? Certainly would put *my* mind at ease.

And see, the fact that the Fantastic Four exist in the same universe simply underscores Professor X's idiocy. Let's look at the Fantastic Four. Okay, they were born normal, but the cosmic ray's alterations fit the dictionary definition of genetic mutancy. And there are folks on the X-Teams that's powers came from external sources. And even aliens.

The Fantastic Four have no secret identities, their headquarters is the unmistakable, famous Baxter Building. Reed Richards creates space-worthy craft, and extremely dangerous weaponry, and dimensional gateways and crap all the time. And no one minds. While presenting to the UN, he'll stretch across the room to grab a pencil, Sue and Johnny use their powers publically, and Ben can't turn his off.

And the people love them. And not just because it's a different book with different teams. It's because they're well known, because they're human (figuratively) faces. The X-Men are scary troops of uniformed alien-seeming mutants. But the Human Torch? That's just Johnny Storm! He's a hot rod who flirts with most of the women in New York. The Thing, that's Ben Grimm, he's a little scary looking but he plays a mean game of pool.

See what I mean?

I think we all remember being kids, and being afraid of strange-looking people, like maybe the old woman down the street with all the cats or the guy with the artificial arm...things like that. When you're little, you're ignorant, and these folks seem scary. The lady's a witch! The guy's part robot! But then you get to know them, and the witch lady's actually a really nice widow who's got pictures of her grandkids on the wall and will let you play with the kitties, and the guy might have lost his arm in an accident, but he's pretty much just like your dad. 'xcept for only one arm, of course.

It's basic psychology really. And a guy like Xavier should *know* that. Reed does. There's a nice scene in one of the Waid issues, where Reed hires a publicist and no one understands why. But he confides in little Valeria how, because he robbed his loved ones of their normal lives, he was very emphatic about encouraging their public personae, the code names, because by making them celebrities, he was protecting them from fear and revulsion. And that's why Reed Richards is the smartest man in the Marvel Universe.

Hell, even look at the movies. Look at X-Men's destruction of the train station, and Fantastic Four's bridge mishap. I've heard people complain that the Fantastic Four shouldn't have become media darlings for solving a mess they caused. But the reason they got that attention is because by solving the problem, and sticking around afterwards, and showing themselves to be pretty normal folks, well then, that makes them pretty nifty. Normal folks that can do cool things and are willing to help out. They've even got real names. Neat! Now the X-Men stuff, to be fair, they're too busy saving Rogue to help clean up the station wreckage. But think about what those people must think. A mutant battle, one's power goes crazy, destroys everything, and they're gone. No wonder mutants have become boogeymen.

Another reason I hate Xavier is that he's manipulative and controlling, I think. It might just be that I was for a long time really into Silver Age Marvel, but Xavier there is scary. He micromanaged all of them, lusted after Jean and expressed both resentment and support for Scott dating her because *he* couldn't. And there's at least one case that I can recall, where Scott is reluctant to obey, and we see Xavier raise his hand. Then Scott backs down. Now if I had my copy of the book with me I'd scan to share. But I don't. But I know personally, I never knew quite what to make of that panel. Either he was a) using mental coersion or b) physically threatening his foster son (who has a history of abuse).

Now that might just be back then, but as far as I know, it hasn't been retconned out, and he's done a great deal of manipulative crap since. And Onslaught was all his fault.

My hatred of him is also personal. Let's look at Cyclops. I know Scott's not a very popular character, he's uptight, brooding, and almost fanatic. (Though one shouldn't forget his very dry, amusing sense of humor. But I digress). But all those, undeniable, traits, were either caused or exacerbated by Xavier.

Think about what we know of Scott's backstory: parents in an airplane, sole parachute strapped to both kids, it doesn't open, Scott's powers activate saving their lives, but he gets brain damage and is comatose/amnesiac. Nathaniel Essex, Mr. Sinister himself arranges for the kid to be placed in his scary orphanage, until the kid escapes. Ends up with powers activating, and is taken in by the thief Jack of Diamonds.

Okay, even providing that Xavier doesn't know about anything preceding Jack (which I doubt...most powerful telepath after all), he knows he's got this abused, terrified, abandoned and isolated 15 year old, that really has no where else to go and no one else to rely on. (And I want to know who thought giving a child to Xavier to begin with is a good idea...I'm thinking there was mind whammying involved).

So what does Xavier do with this poor thing? Get him counseling/therapy, support him so he can have something resembling a normal life? Nope. He makes him his prize soldier. He is the sole support structure for a damaged, abused child, and uses that to indoctrinate him so firmly into the "dream" that it amounts to brainwashing.

As for Scott, of course he's fucked up. He's finally, for the first time in *ten years* some place where he can stop running, stop looking over his shoulder, stop worrying about scary things in the basement or being hurt when he disobeys, and he's being primed to be Xavier's second in his private army.

And honestly, I can't see that as anything but *monstrous*.

I complain occasionally about the treatment of sidekicks in the DCU, how Batman's screwed up his Robins...Dick's a basket case, that whole mess with Tim's "present"...but you know, Batman never intended to have Dick as his sidekick at all. Not at first, that was a choice that Dick made. And Dick had a social life, had Alfred, had school had the Titans, had Clark, even. Tim's got his own network, his family, his contacts...

Batman's not completely sane, and the horrible "present" thing in particular, well, that was actually meant to benefit Tim...sort of. It definitely means that, now that Tim can't trust anyone on blind faith anymore, he will never have a Harvey Dent...but Batman in general really does care about his sidekicks. He can't express it, but he does. And any screwing up is largely due to his own fucked-up-ness, preventing normal relationships.

With Xavier, it's worse, because I get the impression that Xavier meant to do this. That he *deliberately* made a vulnerable, dependent child into a weapon. I also don't get the sense that Xavier cares nearly as much for Scott as Bruce does any of his sidekicks. So you have an emotionally neglected, physically abused child with nowhere to go, no one else to turn to, with a power that's impossible to hide or control, probably scared and alone and seeking reassurance. With his history, the kid probably figured out real quick that anything good came with a price. He might have even believed that becoming Xavier's pet soldier was a *condition* on staying in this nice, safe, warm haven. If he said no, would he be kicked out?

I'm not saying that's what Xavier expressed or intended, but this is the kid who upon being given quartz glasses to be able to not kill/destroy stuff when he opens his eyes, was then made to help rob banks. There's no way that child wouldn't think of that and honestly, I doubt Xavier ever bothered to clear that misconception up.

So yeah, given that, is it any wonder that Cyclops grew up so uptight, screwed up, brooding and all those other things that Cyclops-haters hate about him? And he's *still* using vulnerable children to fight his private wars. Fortunately now there are other mutants: Jean (well, pre-deaths), Storm, Logan, even Scott to mitigate that effect.

But a bastard. So I hate him. :-)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Ion Costume

So all the Kyle-fans are talking about the new costume image for the Ion ongoing, here.

So yeah, it takes some getting used to, but it's not necessarily bad. It's green and has a Lantern (look close at the chest) and thus he's still probably in the Corps.

The face mask is a little odd, but hey, I'm a Sand-fan, I can deal. Besides, it's pretty interesting, Kyle's quite vain, after all, takes pride in his then covering his face, *hiding* behind a mask, could have *fascinating* implications, whether of emotional state or new duties (something secretive/covert requiring more anonymity?)

So I'm looking at the bright side.

Though, really, I do think the ideal costume would be this. I'd read that. :-)

Continuity, Retcons, and BS-Explanations

Sometimes I think I'm much too easy...

As a fangirl I mean (minds out of the gutter, please. :-))

Beware: yet another incoherent rant.

It's just that a lot of things that other people complain about as continuity errors tend not to bother me. I seem to be able to instinctively smooth it all over in my mind.

For example, in JLA Year One, there's a very notable cameo of Ted Kord. (He thwarts Hal Jordan unintentionally with a giant yellow thingy! I'll post scans of that someday). But some Ted fans were upset by this. Ted looked wrong, he's all scruffy and his hair isn't red, and...

Whereas me, I'm like "Well, Ted's supposed to be in his early thirties now right? So odds are in that he's a college student or just out of college, and well, students are scruffy. As for the hair, well, maybe he didn't wash it in a while (eww), or he dyes it occasionally. I know a few folks like that, redheads who don't like it. Heck if I know why, but hey, no problem for me.

I'm similar with Green Lantern costumes, with any costumes really. In the case of the GLs, we know the costume comes out of their thoughts, (and Sins of Youth has young!Kyle changing it every panel), so why couldn't one day, he decide to ditch the collar, or have the lantern bigger or something like that. As for other heroes with more...substantial costumes, that's a little harder to explain. But then I think, considering how often clothes get wrecked in battle, surely they must have spares. And why not experiment or play around with logos, cape lengths and things like that. It's not like it'll last that long, whether the change is a success or not. (heh).

Even bigger continuity "errors" don't bother me. I knew quite a few Tim Drake fans upset that in TT29, Jason says something about Tim stalking Batman for a few weeks. When every Tim fan knows it was for four years. There were complaints about the "retcon". Honestly, it never occurred to me that it could be a retcon. Jason's crazy. He's delusional. And he really doesn't want to admit that his replacement is any good, if he even *knows* how long the kid's been watching. It's not like Bruce would have been likely to tell him. I figure, if Jason does know, there's no way he could face/accept the notion of this kid having spied on them for his entire run as Robin. And notice, Tim merely says that he is indeed that good. He's not going to bother to correct Jason. But I never thought it was a retcon.

I've also heard lots of complaints at how Dick Grayson kept showing up in Outsiders, and JLA in his blue uniform, while Nightwing had him undercover with Deathstroke, in red. How can Ollie try to get Dick to turn on Bruce, if Dick is incommunicado?

But see, me, I figured it all worked out fine. See, the DCU timeline sets a specific time since War Games/Identity Crisis to now, I'd imagine. Whereupon, Batman, JLA, Outsiders, et al, have been continuously occuring. Whereas Nightwing had a huge break around 100 for Nightwing Year One. So I figured, honestly, that the Deathstroke/mob arc was supposed to take place timeline-wise then. Ergo, it's not really a continuity issue. As far as JLA/Outsiders go, the Deathstroke stuff had already happened: over and done with. He's back and in blue again. (there might be some timeline reference in Nightwing that contradicts this, that I can't remember, but I've decided this is *my* explanation.)

I've just, apparently, got a gift for making on the spot, bs-infused explanations.

Seriously, the fact that timeline-wise Kyle Rayner's much too young for a ten year reunion, (Donna's supposed to be older than him, is the same age as Dick, and Dick isn't much past 25), (and he's certainly not the sort to have graduated high school early,) doesn't bother me. I just figure the reunion people bought the wrong balloons. It's the 5th year reunion.

Sometimes it can create interesting story potential too. I've probably mentioned this example before but in Sandman's Mystery Theatre, Dian Belmont is very emphatically stated as an only child. This was before JSA of course, but that leaves a quandary. Where did Sanderson Hawkins *come* from? Whatever explanation one can think of: adopted orphan, long lost relative, genetic experiment, allows for an interesting bit of story to develop. My pet theory is actually that she's his mother. It would have been the 1920s, and back then, there were quite a few instances of an unwed teenage mother's child being passed off, for example, as the grandparent's "late in life baby". (Jack Nicholson is apparently one). So say, the Belmonts were too old themselves to pretend her son is theirs, maybe she herself was an *actual* late-in-life baby. Then they decided to pretend the baby belonged to a black sheep sister they "never talked about". Now *that* could be a fun subplot with lots of potential to play with.

It's weird because normally I am really obsessive about continuity, though that's probably why I bother to think of ways to make everything fit without negating what came before. (Unless it's Hal-on-Oprah, negate away, that). I don't like negating things, it makes me twitch. Everything I read contributes to my opinion/take on the character, and it's hard for me to go back and take out something that I've already incorporated into my understanding of the character. Even if I don't necessarily like what happened, in general, I'd prefer it just get dealt with.

The Parallax bug from outer space retcon didn't bother me, because it didn't negate (as far as I know), anything that happened before. It just put a new spin on it. Hal's still crazy, just the craziness is outwardly imposed. As far as anyone knew at the time, he was just plain crazy, thus the retcon can be accomodated easily. I hate continuity-negating retcons though. (or trying to smoosh Gothamite-timelines together so that Bruce never hits forty. Damnit, let the man hit forty. People can kick ass at forty. But that's a rant for another day.)

But pretty much, I'm easy. This sort of stuff doesn't bother me. If I can think of a semi-plausible explanation (and on-the-fly BS is my best's what's getting me through 40,000 Anthropology classes), then I'm happy. And I can explain away damn near *anything*. :-)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Reason 472 to like Kyle Rayner.

I'm essayed out today, so I'm going to do a cute filler post instead.

Reason #472 to like Kyle Rayner:

He knows how to win an argument. I'm not talking about bickering with Wally or Ollie, or even fighting with Donna or Jade.

I'm talking about when Kyle Rayner, for whatever reason, needs to shut someone the hell up for the sake of the world or the universe. He doesn't get to do it often, but when he one delivers a verbal smackdown like Kyle Rayner.

Exhibit A: JLA WWIII: The ring is busted, the JLA is getting their asses kicked, and reinforcements arrive...including Guy Gardner.

"Anybody got any questions?"

Exhibit B: Green Lantern 135: psycho gets his hands on a Qwardian ring, Kyle gets the JLA (and others) to help. Kyle mentions the possible necessity of using deadly force. The others voice scornful skepticism. Surely Kyle's overreacting.

The best part is Warrior's smirk...

A Raynerian smackdown is calm, matter-of-fact, completely honest and 100% effective. It can even be used (with some modification) for interrogation. As Kyle demonstrates in the GA/GL Black Circle crossover:

Kyle doesn't need a "bad cop"

So the "years" is a bit of hyperbole, but that's as effective an interrogation technique as *I've* ever seen. Kyle's one of the few DCU heroes that can be scarier when he's *not* angry. :-)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Love is in the Air:

My last post made me realize that I'd like to post on some of my favorite couples and relationships in comics. Guy and Ice is pretty much done, down there, and in my why-I-love-Guy post. But there are other couples that appeal a lot as well.

I'm not much for romance in general, stereotypes of my gender, and jokingly slashing characters aside, so if a couple interests me, there's got to be something that particularly amuses/interests me about it. So I guess I'll share!

Reed Richards/Sue Storm (F4): In everything but the movie, they're awesome. A great match. I actually fell in love with the Ultimate version of the couple first, as 616's Sue always seemed a bit long-sufferingly passive aggressive to my taste. Always complaining about Reed being in the lab. Whereas Ultimate-Sue would go down there and friggin' tackle him. But then I read that issue where Franklin made the living program obsessed with Reed, and he had to put himself into computer code. And her fond smile when defending herself and others, when he asks quickly "Can I carry a tune?" "Not really, dear." And then I stopped, because for all the ridiculousness about the situation...that set of dialogue right there felt *real* to me. At that moment, I felt like I could see that she loved him so much, knew all of his flaws and loved him even more for them. And him too, he's more closed off, distracted about it, but the fact that he knew immediately that she knew him better than he knew himself, that the most brilliant mind in the Marvel Universe trusted his wife to answer the questions that he could not. That feels like love to me.

After that, I reread everything I had and I could see/feel it. It's quiet, not as melodramatic as Scott Summers and Jean Grey, but all the more pure for it.


Snow White/Bigby Wolf (Fables): Now they were fun. From their first interactions in the Rose Red Murder Case, I knew I wanted them to get together. The best male and the best female of an entire cast of breathtakingly awesome characters. From the beginning, they seemed to balance perfectly, and he's the exact opposite of her ex-husband. Attractive in a Bogart-esque way, gruff, uncivilized, unflinchingly honest and loyal. And on her part, she's as strong and forceful as he is and will never be afraid of them. When he told her how she was the only person he could never ignore, I melted. Every bit of dialogue between them sparked like electricity. Please, Mr. Willingham, let them come back to each other soon!

Ted Grant/Hippolyta (WW): Best couple I never would have *ever* thought of. Seriously. Hippolyta and Wildcat. That's really all I need to say. Wildcat was totally whipped. And loved every minute. Sucks that she's dead.

Helena Sandsmark/Jason Blood (WW): Just the idea is mindbogglingly awesome, but it actually happened. It didn't work out of course, and that doesn't bother me, because it really doesn't make sense long term. But still. It's awesome. Helena went to Hell, essentially, to save his life. Helena's underrated and Blood's always awesome.

Jay and Joan Garrick (Flash/JSA): Of all the old timer relationships, this one really feels like forever. Yeah, he looks a lot younger than she does, and they can't always talk about *everything*. But whenever they're in the scene together, all that love, all that *history* just pours off the page. It's the sort of timeless love that deep down, everyone hopes to find someday, I think. The kind where you're 80, sitting in rockers side-by-side, bitching about the neighbor kids tossing baseballs in your lawn and fighting over the remote control...or maybe that's just me.

Apollo/Midnighter (The Authority): I'm not a huge fan of the Authority and Wildstorm (though I've always liked WildCATS...Spartan's nifty), it always seems like they're trying too hard to be edgy and risk-taking and shocking. But I did like these guys. The relationship is wonderfully low key, never emasculating either man in the process. The "revelation" of their relationship was very well done (though I'm not sure why it was necessary, considering that their first ever appearance in Stormwatch had them sheltering in a warehouse, both unclothed...though I guess, fanboy denial can be an amazing thing: "They're not gay! They're just hiding out...naked...")

And some runner ups:

Ted Kord/Barbara Gordon (Birds of Prey): Even without ever crossing over into actual romance, they were perfect in my opinion. From their first meeting, and figuring out of each other's identities (I loved that he was only a little slower to figure it out than she was, with a lot less to go on), to the date on the Bug where they simultaneously ask to be just friends, to the heart condition, and everything else...

Clearly Barbara has a type: acrobatic, attractive, with horrid fashion sense. I think Ted would have suited her more (less needy, when she needs space she could just send him to invent something bizarre or go play with Booster or something. And they've common interests). Regardless, I loved the parallels of Dick being jealous of Ted in BoP, and Ted being jealous of Dick in Countdown. (Especially since I think both guys would be incredibly shocked by it). Damn I miss Ted. *sighs wistfully*

Dinah Lance/Pieter Cross (JSA): Their relationship started out so interestingly. He's quietly very attractive and attentive and not half the jerk Ollie is. Ollie's return made it impossible, (damnit. I like Ollie, but damnit). Missed opportunities...

Grace Choi/Anissa (I can't recall her last name just now) from Outsiders. Yeah they're not a couple. But they seem to have a bit of flirting going on to *me*. And it'd be hot. :-) (I'm an equal opportunity perv. :-))

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Perfect Couple (seriously)

Ragnell and I were chatting amiably about Bulleteer and the Seven Soldiers, when she came up with the most blindingly perfect couple idea ever.

Guy Gardner and Alix Harrower.

It's perfect really. They've both worked with special needs kids for one thing, so that's a common interest right there.

And their temperaments and tastes compliment each other perfectly. Alix is a sweet, relatively innocent, compassionate person from what we've seen. Very much like Ice. She's in over her head, but she's doing her best and doesn't seem to be about to back down. She's not a clone of Ice, mind you, but she's got a lot of those traits that would appeal to Guy in a more long-term sense.

Guy in turn is somewhat forceful and domineering, though in an overt way, rather than Alix's husband's passive aggression. At the risk of judging on only two issues, Alix seems like the sort of woman who is attracted to strong personalities (consider also her interaction and obvious respect for Sky-High Helligan). And unlike her jerk of a husband, Guy's honest and loyal. He might leer at her body and make a few jackass-comments, but he'd never have made subtle cracks about age and losing beauty, he'd never have tried to push her into getting the metal skin. And he certainly wouldn't have cheated on her with an internet superheroine. He'd have supported her in whatever she'd have wanted...even while being overtly an insensitive jackass about it.

Going by Guy's relationship with Ice, Guy appears to enjoy being less of a complete jackass and playing up the protector/supporter in his personality. Which seems to be the sort of personality that would suit Alix (I get the impression that she's probably a little old-fashioned in certain ways in terms of gender dynamics, not that there's anything wrong with that; and Guy and Ice's relationship seemed to follow that sort of line). And whenever he did manage to get her angry enough to yell at him or hit him, Guy'd more than likely enjoy that. He enjoys when women are forceful, especially if they're usually more reserved. He'd definitely encourage her to be more assertive.

Yep! Probably won't ever happen, but it could really be great! (Unless of course, I'm misreading her personality entirely. :-))

Hero Crossovers in Solo Comics:

Why some crossovers work, and why some don't.

Over at Chronicle of World Domination, Centurion posted a little rant about Supergirl which led me to think about her again.

In a weird way, her circumstances remind me of Kyle Rayner's, in that she's a new character, tied to a previous legacy (the S as well as being linked to pre-crisis Kara), and that many of her experiences so far have been crossover experiences with other heroes. Which never bothered me in GL, but I don't think work well enough here. So I got to thinking of why this is.

Kyle Rayner as a newbie was still pretty clueless. Tried hard, but still had to learn the ropes basically from scratch. His crossover events were always in a teamwork style, Superman helping him against Mongul, him helping Guy against Major Force. They all had some plausible reason for occurring and both characters tended to be well-treated. No single character in those partnerships ever saved the day, it was a team effort, with mutual respect and competence.

And then there was Hero Quest. Hero Quest was a great arc I think, both for emphasizing Kyle's drive to improve and for showing how a crossover arc could really be done well.

If you don't know/remember Hero Quest, it's somewhere around the end of the 60s for the GL v3 run. (after the lead pipe scene). Kyle's had a few shocks to the system, Guy killing Major Force, Ganthet demanding the ring back, and what self-confidence he had was nearly obliterated.

So, he decides, he's going to learn how to be a hero properly. And if the lead pipe scene is how I initially fell for the character, this just crystallizes it. Because, I think, there are few heroes who would actually, having come face to face with their own shortcomings, actually go out and seek guidance. It's also interesting in who he chooses to approach.

His first choice is Batman. Who is like, the anti-Kyle. Seriously. This doesn't work out well, of course, though Kyle does get to have a cute dialogue with Robin, where he manages to pull out a few useful tips from Robin.

Aww, how sweet is that. He's so willing to learn/improve, that he doesn't even mind getting help from a more experienced kid. (And he's respectful too! :-))

The choice of Batman is interesting too. Intelligent, calculated, ruthless...It shows that Kyle's aware of his own shortcomings (he's a little dim, silly and soft-hearted), and willing to learn from someone who blatantly scares him a little.

Anyway, the issue continues, when he meets Alan, by chance, and ends up helping him/semi-tricked into helping him with his wife's particular supernatural circumstance. Kyle reflects later that Alan taught him that sometimes it's necessary to be a little ruthless. So he got the lesson he needed, even if it wasn't from Batman.

In the issue after that, Kyle goes to Fawcett City, to learn from Captain Marvel. Specifically from the "Wisdom of Solomon" part. (Again, a clear indication that Kyle is aware of his shortcomings). He and Marvel end up teaming up to stop a crazy curator being possessed by a mask, or something like that. Marvel wants to talk to the guy first, Kyle's thinking that they don't really have time for that as the guy's trying to kill them. Marvel manages to talk the guy down after all. And Kyle admits that he learned something about thinking first, trying to figure out the entire situation, before simply acting.

The last one is a crossover with Wonder Woman, they start off fighting each other, but it's quickly established to be staged in order to fight a villain. In the process, Kyle hesitates on using his full power, because his adversary is a woman. This makes things problematic, but Diana saves the day. Kyle is apologetic and admits that he wasn't really comfortable fighting full tilt against a woman. (Aww, Maura definitely taught him to never hit girls. Good boy.) Diana gently scolds him for this, reminding him that when it comes down to heroing and saving lives, he can't really cling to such unrealistic chivalry.

So what do we get from this arc, three team-up issues in Kyle's own comic line, where he is foolish, green and makes mistakes. In each case, the other hero is the one that looks (and is) wise and experienced. And Kyle comes out with valuable learning experience that stays with him for the rest of the Green Lantern run. (And was probably particularly useful when Fatality comes around)

Contrast that with the crossover appearances in Supergirl, thus far. Instead of team-ups, they're battles. The crossover characters don't quite seem right (Batman letting her patrol in Gotham? Wonder Woman apparently ignoring all of her respect for Clark and taking his ward to Themiscyra against his wishes? The three calmest Titans Cyborg, Cassie and Raven attacking without a single question first?)

Now it's probably not fair to compare these crossovers with Hero Quest, which was in the 15th-18th issues of Kyle's run. But even compared to the Mongul fight and Major Force, there's clearly something missing here. Crossovers can be a good way to further develop your new character through interaction with the established guys, but what development does Kara really get here? Ooo, she's more powerful potentially than Superman, Batman doesn't trust her, and she can beat the Titans and Outsiders easily. The only thing of worth to her character development was the crush on Dick Grayson.

Maybe I'm missing the point, and this is being written this way for a specific purpose (i.e she's an eeevil doppelganger and the real one will be coming in Crisis) but what's the point of these crossover events? See Kara beat the crap out of more established heroes?

In every one of Kyle's crossover events, there was a significant impact on both Kyle and his story. Superman and Mongul led him to realize there was a wider world out there and that this wasn't even remotely a game. Zero Hour, also impactful, doesn't really count because it was a DCU wide event, not just in GL. The Titans gave him something of a team feeling for a while and training with Roy and Donna to improve his fighting skills. (He did NOT tend to win). Guy's actions with Major Force shook Kyle's confidence in herodom, and Hero's Quest let him be wrong, silly and foolish and *learn* from it and the more competent, experienced heroes around him.

If Kara isn't an evil doppelganger and is sticking around the DCU after Crisis, then she's going to need something like a Hero's Quest. (No matter how she might save the day in Crisis, Kyle blew up Oa and stopped Hal from rewriting the universe *and* convinced crazy Hal to give back the ring via lead pipe and still needed his Quest). I think that might go a long way into making her tolerable, in my eyes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Meandering Thoughts: Barbara Gordon

(A warning: this is a meandering, stream of consciousness post and is very likely not to be particularly coherent or make sense to anyone but me)

I have an odd confession to make, for a long time, I was very...uneasy, about the current signs in Birds of Prey that Barbara Gordon might regain her mobility.

It's not that I don't like Barbara, far from it, she's one of the best comic females ever. But I couldn't understand why it would be necessary.

After all, as bright and shining and whip-smart as Barbara was as Batgirl, she really grew into her own, I think, after her paralysis. Then she became Oracle.

I suppose it's that to me Batgirl always was subordinate to Batman, even if that wasn't actually the case in the stories. Batgirl sounds to me like someone young, uncertain, green, needs Batman's guidance. I mean, she's got *girl* in her name. It's why I was really glad that Huntress didn't remain Batgirl after No Man's Land. (Though I was annoyed that it was written as though she didn't deserve it, I've always thought Bruce was a jackass to Helena. Both Jason and even Tim have been as ruthless as she was, Batman himself, after Jason died, acted far more erratically and dangerously. Helena doesn't deserve the crap she gets from him. But that's another rant altogether).

See, I would have liked Helena to have instead quit herself. Why would a strong, passionate, independent woman like Helena ever want to be Bat-*girl*. To be subordinate and somehow *less* than Bruce. She's better than that. She's a successful vigilante, she's more violent than some, it's true, but she's effective and smart and powerful. Batgirl's a fine title for Cassandra Cain, who while capable in many ways, still requires a lot of support and nurturing, but not for Helena.

And not for Barbara either. When I heard some rumors about Barbara taking up the Batgirl mantle again, they made me wince. It's not because I'm fond of Cassandra (though I am), but it's because in my opinion, Barbara's grown so far beyond that role that to go back seems like a regression of the highest order. Especially since her way is at least as effective, I think, as Batman's. And she's a much better "leader figure" than he is. She shouldn't be returned to a subordinate position. (And who the hell is he to tell her not to operate in Gotham? It's as much her city as it is his! It's her home too! I really hope she lets him have it in the next issue.)

The thing is, I've since realized, that this has nothing to do with her mobility (or lack thereof) at all. I don't want Barbara in a subordinate position in the Batclan. Okay. So why else had the thought of her regaining her mobility made me uneasy, I thought to myself.

It might have been a slight bit of resentment at the thought that becoming mobile would make her more "effective", that it implied she couldn't be a "whole woman" or a powerful person without being able to walk. And I realized quickly that that was ridiculous. Barbara has never been portrayed as anything other than the strong, confident, brilliant, infinitely capable, undeniably beautiful and sexual being that she is. With or without the use of her legs. As Oracle, she's probably the single most influential character in the DCU. She can find out anything, she could contact anyone, and manage the Birds of Prey in a way that no other person could.

So clearly that wasn't my problem. So what *was* my problem? Why did the thought of Barbara regaining the ability to walk bother me? It's not that I haven't even asked once or twice when I was very new to comics why she didn't use JLA technology or something to regain her ability to walk before? And it doesn't have anything to do with a lack of faith in the author. Birds of Prey is fantastic and will keep being fantastic, I have no doubt about that.

But then I was reading Birds of Prey 89 and I figured out what my problem was. When Barbara tells Jim (a long awaited scene and well worth it) how she became Oracle, and she mentioned her feelings of helplessness of being trapped on that floor waiting to die, and how the need to strike back fueled her, I understood.

The problem was me. I'd linked the idea of Barbara as she has become so much with her losing her mobility, that I was thinking that somehow if she regained her ability to walk she'd lose what made her Oracle. She'd go back to really being "Batgirl".

And that's incredibly stupid. Barbara isn't the incredibly strong woman she is despite of her injury or because of her injury. She just is an incredibly strong woman. If she walks, if she doesn't, if she stays Oracle, if she wears a batsuit, hell, if she did put back on the tights and call herself "Batgirl", she would still be the character that I admire so much. I like her better as Oracle than I did as Batgirl, because she's grown up since then. And even if the impetus for growing up is removed, growing up can't be undone. So what am I worried about?

Nothing. :-) I'm not worried about it anymore. I'm not even mildly uneasy. If she can walk or if she can't, if she's Oracle, Batwoman, or Batgirl (though I'd still be annoyed at such a clearly mature adult woman being called "girl"), if she's at the computer or hopping rooftops...hell, even if she's wearing a damn midriff bearing costume (bleh!), I'm sure she'll still be fantastic.

Parents and Children in Comics

I was thinking while rereading JSA 81 (an issue I highly enjoyed, as I'm fond of Stargirl and there was also the Shade! Yay! And S.T.R.I.P.E!) that Pat Dugan is a great father figure.

Really, not many dads (or stepdads) would go and create a giant robot to help protect his daughter while she goes out to superhero. And he loves her like she were his biological daughter too. From bitching about her midriff (which I *loved* BTW, I'm glad to see not all adults have lost their senses) and that bit later where with the robot destroyed, he still has to help "[his] daughter." Not Step-Daughter, Daughter.

See, that's one area where DC won me where Marvel and other comics never could. In Marvel for example, the characters are primarily orphans or their parents are rarely addressed at all. Kitty Pride's parents are alive, I think, but when do we see them? Christopher Summers shows up occasionally but the Summers family tree is a weird anomaly that is both awesome and fucked-up at the same time. Cable's dad (Cyclops, as you all well know) is around but young enough to be his son, (gotta love time travel). Possibly because of the original premise of Xavier's manor as a boarding school, there are very few satisfying parent-child relationships in X-Men. (And don't get me started on Xavier's and Scott's relationship, he picked up an abused child who was forced to help rob banks by his evil foster father and had a power that pretty much cut him off from any normal interaction and turned him into his ideal soldier. You want to know why Scott's such a mess of brooding, stick-up-ass issues...Look at Xavier.)

Fantastic Four isn't any better really. I vaguely remember stories in which Sue and Johnny's dad was nuts and Reed's was lost in some dimension thing, but in general, the main four have no relationships to their own parents. Franklin and Valeria are better off of course, (I loved the issue where Franklin accidently makes the computer thing that's obsessed with his dad because he's feeling lonely, Reed has to make a computer program that is himself: "Sue, can I carry a tune?" "Not really, dear.", and at the end, they end up playing magic), but I still wish it seemed like the four's own parents were more of a presence. (Ultimate F4 is better about this).

Spiderman's got some satisfying stuff with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, though, but it's only one.

Manga rarely has parents be a presence. They're usually the ones causing the trouble somehow, and the kids are stuck in the middle of it. Or the kids are orphans. Again, there are exceptions, but it seems to be a trend.

But DC Comics...Parental Figures are very, very important to DC Comics. Whether you're looking at the Kents (it's very obvious that the amazing, down-to-earth and *human* guy that Clark Kent became is due to his adopted parents), the Waynes (or Graysons, who might be dead, but remain a tangible spectre onto their children's lives), Hippolyta (who might have done some questionable things, but it was all to protect the daughter she loved)...

There are great parents, like Pat Dugan, like Helena Sandsmark (how can you not like a woman who dated *Jason Blood*, went to hell and back to save him, got in a catfight with Bonnie King-Jones and still seeks to give her hero daughter something resembling a normal life), like the Kents.

There are flawed parents, like Jack Drake (who was fairly monstrously neglectful before his wife died and he was comatose, and later on became rather over-protective and pushy to compensate), like Maura Rayner (whose inability to let her son grow up combined with his own stubborn bullheadedness led to a long estrangement, only mended after her son became the Green Lantern). Linda Danvers's parents who never quite understood their daughter and took some time to adjust to her change in status.

There are parents like the first Ray and Black Canary and Starman, whose children inherited their legacies.

There are also absentee parents like Aaron Rayner, Oliver Queen, Alan Scott, Courtney's dad. But the difference is that their absence is very clearly felt and expressed by the children left behind. Connor came to find Ollie, Jade and Obsidian have many different issues with their dad, Kyle searched for Aaron/Gabe Vasquez for years...

There are even horrible, abusive parents/parental figures, though thankfully not that many considering.

And there are a lot more heroes with children (though weirdly, not as many heroines. And while many couplings were hero-villainess, I can't think of any villain-heroine pairing that resulted in children...though that might be for the best): Jack Knight, Roy Harper, Linda Danvers to name a few.

The thing is, as tedious as say Conner Kent/Kon-El's parent issues tend to be sometimes, I'm glad he has them. I'm glad parents are so important in the DCU. I'm glad that in general the relationships between parents and children are pretty good in the DCU. I think that it's great that they also show that blood really doesn't matter sometimes. Pat Dugan is as much Courtney's father as the guy who sired her. The Kents have had a lot more to do with the man Clark Kent became than Jor-El of Krypton (who is admittedly very cool).

I guess for me it's a matter of sentimentality. I love my parents so much. They've had everything to do with how I grew up. They've made mistakes, but they're my parents. They've always been a presence in my life, just as their parents were in theirs. And I think it's that way for most people, whether their parents are great, monstrous, in between, blood related, not blood related, not there at all. I think that is ultimately very important to people and the acknowledgement of that connection is a big part of what drew me to the DCU.