Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

An Exercise in Egotism 2: What to do with Jade

I've never made it a secret that I am not a big fan of Jade. And how the fuck unnerved am *I* to have had enough critiques of Jade to produce that many links...

But I digress. I don't like the character. In fact, I don't know of anyone who *really* likes the character. I know a few who liked the *concept* of a woman with Green Lantern powers, as well as Alan Scott's daughter, but almost no one who liked Jade specifically for Jade, for who she is behind those things.

I'm sure Jade has fans, but most of the defenses of her I've seen are based on Infinity Inc comics published around the time I was *born*. It's a common defense that Marz/Winick didn't understand the character. Which might well be true, from the few Infinity Inc comics I've read, she still seemed pretty shallow but she had some measure of charm that she's lacked ever sense.

Most of the critiques I've seen of her death had more to do with how she died or the prevalence of the "Women in Refrigerators" syndrome than Jade as a character. I've heard of one person who left comics because of her death, but the reason given was that her death showed "a lack of respect to Alan Scott." Apparently because of his vow to always be there for his kids...honestly, I don't get it either.

So Jennie-Lynn Hayden went from being a mildly charming if ineffectual member of a charming but ineffectual team to being a self-centered, manipulative, incompetent twit who was constantly the weakest of any of her associates. And it's not like it was a sudden transformation. Her death was pretty much an eventuality.

But did she really need to die? Well, I suppose for the drama with Kyle. But I'd imagine they could have figured out another way to do that, or another storyline for him altogether (much as I'm enjoying Ion).

In some sense though it seemed like Jade's death was house cleaning. Getting rid of an unnecessary and unappealing character. But...again, did she really need to die? Or could she have been salvaged?

I really, honestly think that there was a character with a great deal of potential there, one that was definitely not unsalvageable.

How I would have "fixed" Jade:Jade has something in common with Nightwing. She has fans. A lot of them. But just like Nightwing, most of those fans seem very disappointed with the directions taken with the character.

I can't blame them really. At distasteful as I find the character now, she must have once been a very appealing character to still have so many comic fans remember her so fondly.

Now, I'm at a bit of a disadvantage here because I've only read a little Infinity Inc. But I've managed to find a few more issues lately, and actually, I have to say...I'm starting to understand. She really does have an appeal, one that was lost along the way.

See, for me, at least, the appeal of Jennie-Lynn Hayden in II was that she was refreshingly normal amidst all of these other folks with extraordinary backgrounds. She was just an ordinary young girl with an ordinary childhood with adopted parents that suddenly developed neat powers, got green skin, and discovered a father and brother she never knew.

In a sense she's very much a wish fulfilment character, a normal girl who discovers that there's something extraordnary deep down. It's the long lost Princess thing. And you know, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Because she was easy to identify with, really. Easy to sympathize with. Her normality was refreshing and appealing. It was easy to see why Todd, with his dark, confusing powers, abusive background, and repressed homosexuality, would cling to her. She was a warm dose of sanity and acceptance.

II was more of a soap opera with superpowers than a true superhero comic, and that was fine really. Not to everyone's taste of course, but it was an ideal setting for a character like Jade, ability wasn't as important as empathy. She wasn't there to fight bad guys, she was there for the soap opera. And she was good there.

Of coure once Jennie-Lynn got transplanted out of this nice setting into one that required more in the way of fighting and competence, she had a problem. And the emphasis on the Corps aspect of the Green Lanterns meant that she would languish in the background until Kyle's run, really. When room would open up in the form of a giant massacre via Parallax. Kyle was now the only Lantern, he needed a supporting cast, she was perfect.

Except she wasn't really. She was *redundant*.

You see, Jade's appeal in II was to be the normal one. The one that thought, felt, reacted in ways that were similar and understandable to the audience. Now with a character like Alan, stoic and occasionally imperceptible, or Todd, tortured and angsty under pressure and pain that we can't completely understand, Jennie-Lynn is a wonderful character. A dose of sympathetic normality that becomes our window into these characters lives.

But in Green Lantern, we already *had* a character that thought, felt, reacted in ways that were similar and understandable to the audience. And his name is Kyle Rayner. We didn't need Jade as a "window" character, because Kyle was doing just fine on his own.

And really, Kyle's main writers were men. Naturally they're going to stick with a male viewpoint character whenever possible. It's perfectly normal and understandable to do so.

Unfortunately it meant that we see everything from Kyle's perspective only. Never Jade's. And we identify with her. So when Jade is undeniably cruel to him, we automatically sympathize with him and demonize her.

The thing is nothing she did was completely irredeemable. Even cheating on Kyle, while an awful thing to do, could have been portrayed more sympathetically: She's confused, in a relationship with a man who she may not love like she initially thought. He's changing, growing, but the person he's becoming is a stranger to her.

She owes him. He gave her back her powers. Actually, everything she has is from him. From the apartment to her powers. Hell, his ex-girlfriend gave her *customers* for her photography business. She's happy being a hero but she owes everything to him. And he's such a nice guy. Sweet, sensitive, she doesn't *want* to hurt him. But she finds herself being petty and cruel, trying to drive him away. If *he* breaks up with *her*, it won't hurt him so much. They can both be free!

She comes back to Earth for some space, to get her head together. She was almost *pregnant*, with the child of a man who's off on some wild crusade in space. Where is there room for her, does she *want* room?

Then an attractive guy expresses interest. One who finds her mysterious and exotic and amazing. She hasn't seen Kyle in ages, and this is something without all that baggage. She makes a stupid mistake. She makes several. He comes back and it explodes.

The thing is...I've been there. Sans powers and lanterns and all that good stuff. But I've felt stuck in relationships with people I've fallen out of love with. I've acted like a passive aggressive bitch to try to get *him* to be the one to break it off. I've watched myself, horrified at my own behavior. And maybe if some non-pressured alternative had come by at the right time...from that perspective, as vile as her behavior is, I can understand it.

Well, anyway, the problem with Jade is that she's the sort of character that needs to be the center of the story. We need to see her emotions to keep her sympathetic, hear her thoughts to understand why she does the things she does.

Of course, the biggest problem remains. She's acted horribly. She's *still* incompetent.

But that could be fixed. But she's another character that needs to be extracted, transplanted, away from Kyle in particular. Even away from the Outsiders (at least until she can get her act together, though she was a bit more tolerable there).

If she does get resurrected somehow, extracted from Kyle or something (hey, if *Alan* is living Starheart, she might *be* that power she gave back to him too, it's vaguely plausible...), she'd need to be kept far away from him.

What I'd do is have her, first, relocated to a place like California. Somewhere where she could resume her photography career. Or start something new. She could be an actress again or something. Who knows.

Anyway, what the character needs is an immediate way to get audience sympathy. What I'd personally do is have her adopted parents die. I know, it's a little cheap, but it's not like we've ever seen them in ages. If they're already dead, their belongings can be removed from storage. She has to catalogue their belongings.

I would have her find childhood pictures, trophies, ribbons from school. Pictures of her adopted parents. I would have her realize that somewhere in the process of her life, she's lost touch with them. She spent so long adopting the hero life and playing around as Alan Scott's daughter, she forgot the family who raised her. The mother and father she loved so much. She took them for granted.

Then she takes stock in her own behavior lately and realizes changes have to be made.

See, this has an advantage. Many women have been in her shoes, have made her mistakes, and we actually tend to be *harsher* than men who see it. Because most of us have reached that stage where we look back on our mistakes, flinch at our idiocy, our cruelty, then we move forward and try to change.

Jade can do that too, she should, it would go a long way toward endearing her with female fans.

Anyway, she does a lot of soul searching. She's lost her chance with her family, and she discovers, looking at these pictures, that her life hasn't gone the way she'd wanted it to.

So she decides to change it. She's still young. She's got all these possibilities ahead. Maybe she goes back to school. She'll continue to be a hero, but she'll realize she should and could be a much better hero. She'll train and practice.

This way, when she makes stupid mistakes. When she does badly, we'll be more sympathetic. She's trying, she's working to get better. And she will get better.

Jade could be a great character to attract more adult female readers to superhero comics. An adult woman, who's not all T&A, who's made a lot of mistakes, but is making efforts to fix her life. A lot of women will understand that and be attracted to the series. Her situation, her resurrection and heroism would become an allegory for many women's struggles to reclaim their lives after divorce or sudden loss. It would be a strong draw.

And Jade would actually be likeable.

Or they could just leave her dead, that works too.

ETA: More musings derived from comment ideas can be found here.


  • At April 27, 2006 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Did Jade need to die? I dunno... although it was classer than,maybe,having a 800 number to dial in and VOTE on it....

  • At April 27, 2006 7:24 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Well. There is that.

  • At April 27, 2006 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sure, you could try deciding her fate by an 800 number, but give it 15 years and she'll come back as an unstoppable Mary Stu, who runs around in multiple masks while beating up Kyle with giant guns and is totally extreme to the max!!! *guitar riff*

  • At April 27, 2006 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm sure Jade has fans, but most of the defenses of her I've seen are based on Infinity Inc comics published around the time I was *born*.

    Suddenly I fee so very *old*. :D

    Truthfully, few of the II-ers had a lot of personality aside from being well-intentioned and competent but there's a lot of affection just for their legacies (something that Jennie-Lynn invokes better than her brother) amongst the readers. (I'd also note that JSA fans had a long antagonistic relationship with DC that I don't think the current series has fully mended.)

    I do see Jade as a part of WiR syndrome because one of the trends I noticed was that female characters are much more likely to be creatively mishandled until the best story potential for them seems to be as a victim... and, indeed, the only Infinity Inc characters who've gotten better over time have been men.

  • At April 27, 2006 1:52 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    spiritglyph: Heh, I think Lanterns tend to be a different kettle fish regardless, but yeah. Heh.

    lyle; Heh, sorry. :-) And to be fair, according to the DCU Guide, II #1 came out in 1984. So I was alive for a year...that's not helping much is it?

    I don't actually dislike the II cast from the comics I've read. But I wouldn't argue the WiR syndrome for Jade. She could be written better. Or at least more sympathetically.

    Though to be fair, Nuklon/Atom Smasher continues to suck. And Hector Hall's Dr. Fate was an experiment that really didn't work. So I'm not sure it's completely gender-linked, but I can definitely see the argument.

    I'm glad I'm a newbie JSA fan really. No grudge against DC. Just, "Ooo, yay! JSA!" and "Ooo, yay, *more* JSA!" and then finding back issues of all the mini-series and II and multi-verse stuff: "Oooo, even *more* JSA!"

    Much happier that way. :-)

  • At April 27, 2006 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd say it might have been more of a problem with the Infinitors themselves being an entire team of spinoffs. The only two that were any sucess were Power Girl and Huntress, and they had the advantage of hailing from Superman and Batman, concepts that had already proven the ability to sustain spinoffs.

    JSA works where Infinity, Inc. didn't because of two factors. First off, it came out of Starman, the first series to firmly establish the concept of the legacy hero. Second, it's a mix of spinoffs and originals, giving the book the best of both worlds.

  • At April 27, 2006 2:23 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'd agree on that, actually. With a caveat. Hector and Al had the additional advantage of being present at the start of the new JSA. Oblivion and Dr. Bones also, so they were pretty well known to younger crowds before they were moved to Manhunter.

    Jade *could* have worked in another book, but unfortunately she got shoved into one where she was basically redundant and thus never recovered from that, IMO.

    But yeah, current JSA is an awesome mix. Jay, Alan, Ted as the old hats. Hector and Al (the latter is rumored to come back as well as Obsidian) from II, Courtney, Michael, Pieter, Jakeem as new folks. And Sand who's not exactly any of those three types...hmph, they should bring him back darnit. :-)

  • At April 27, 2006 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And to be fair, according to the DCU Guide, II #1 came out in 1984. So I was alive for a year...that's not helping much is it?

    Aaaaugh, flashbacks to the time a co-worker didn't recognize Madness' "Our House" when it played on the radio!

    But I wouldn't argue the WiR syndrome for Jade. She could be written better. Or at least more sympathetically.

    That's my point. I don't have an explanation for it, but one of the trends I originally spotted on the WiR list was that female characters seemed more likely to shine under one writer and then wither under bad writing, something that *feels* like it happens less often with male characters (admittedly, this could be because there are fewer female characters that have shined and when that gets fumbled, it hurts a lot more).

    I've liked most of the II-ers and (this is just an impression) I've long had this feeling like there was more interest in writing the guys well. Hector and Al had some cool stories before I found JSA to be a mess and dropped it and Todd (along with Mr Bones) seem to finally be getting his due. And I read somewhere that Rick Tyler, the only II member I found useless except as eye candy, has resurfaced as Hourman. Meanwhile, among the women of II the only one to get any decent stories was the comatose one. The others are dead, dead and dead. (Though I can understand that somewhat in Yolanda's case, though she died in one of the lamest comics ever.)

    This is still hard to articulate properly, but one of the trends that struck me about WiR was that it seemed like female characters were either hit with bad writing a whole lot or they recovered from bad writing far less often (like no one seeing a way to fix Lilith Clay after she was revealed as Omen, except to kill the character)... a problem that did hurt Jade greatly.

    (Ack, just had a flashback to that horrible period when she lost the GL powers and started exhibiting plant powers. ::shudders::)

  • At April 27, 2006 7:35 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    For the record, I *have* heard "Our House". :-)

    I definitely see what you're saying. And I think some of it was that, well, they're written by men.

    Now I'm not saying men *can't* write women. Heck, I've liked most of Ron Marz's women who aren't Donna or Jade. I've liked Winick's Anissa and Grace at least.

    But Jade's circumstance in particular really needed a woman's touch. Both men and women have been in that situation before, but I'd say that do to cultural raising factors, those in Jade's role are 99% women. So men will, naturally, identify more with the heart of the poor boy she's basically trampled. She was a bitch, she cheated. Whereas, I think, only a woman who'd been in that situation could really pull a sympathetic perspective on that. It's a really complicated emotional situation and really hard for anyone who's not been there to easily understand.

    I actually think the problem with II's women is that they're from a comic without nearly as much outright superhero action. It's practically a soap opera. (And I say that approvingly, diversity is good, and it's fun). But the increased emphasis on emotion without nearly as much fun action to balance it out is, I think, intimidating for some writers. Male characters are fine, because they're men, but women seem to be much trickier.

    (Which is silly, really, as we're not terribly different from you, deep down. Odds are what makes you angry, makes us angry. what makes you sad, makes us sad. Society might teach us to express these things differently, but the underlying emotion is pretty much the same.)

    But anyway, I can kind of see why many (though not all, of course) male writers in the field would shy from writing these kinds of female characters.

    It still sucks though. We need more women writers. :-)

  • At April 27, 2006 11:17 PM, Blogger Jon said…

    Since it comes up so very unoften, Currently Drunk and Referring To Himself in the Third Person Jon wonders what male characteristics women writers would have trouble with.

    We're much easier to write, says my bias. We like hitting things. And anger. And that weird sense of heroism we get when we're doing what we think is the Right Thing, regardless of whether or not what we're doing is even close to right thingitude.

    Women, according to comics, like the men they are with, the men they are not with but are the exact opposite of the men they are with, dying so as to provide motivation and not wearing shirts that cover the entirety of their torso.

  • At April 27, 2006 11:46 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Heh, I don't really think that women have any more innate an understanding of men than men do of women.

    But we do have an advantage when it comes to this medium and genre.

    See, I think that superhero comics is still primarily a male dominated industry. So the standard superhero formula is already writing male (and female) characters from a male perspective. Thus, a female writer writing male characters in this genre has that inbuilt perspective to work with.

    Really most Western media still has a slight male bias. A slant that's determined by the majority of male producers, directors and writers over many years that's basically become the standard. It's not overt and it's not deliberate sexism I think. But it is there.

    So women writing have that weight of male perspective to work with when writing male characters. Basically we have some idea from these comics, from movies, television, books, how men are "supposed" to act, from a vaguely male perspective.

    In contrast, women tend to be a more silent voice. It's steadily better, more equal, of course as time goes on, and there were women really early on in these industries, but they were fewer, farther between and usually expected to play by male rules. In media still, in some sense, women have the status of "the Other", portrayed more as not!Men rather than Women. Which is an important decision.

    Something I tend to notice, personally is that when characters like Power Girl or Diana are accused of being written as "Men with boobs", the person making the accusation is male. Very rarely do *women* make this accusation.

    And that's because, honestly, we're not that different. The way men are portrayed is not that different from the way we feel. We get angry, upset, sad at the same things that make you guys angry, upset, sad. We don't always show it the same way, but that's more behaviorial/social, we're raised to think such displays are inappropriate.

    That doesn't mean we don't *want* to punch the jackass who makes obscene comments toward our little sisters too. And I think a lot of men, who've absorbed the image of the Not!Men in the media as their idea of *women* don't realize that.

    Just my theory on the whole thing.

  • At April 29, 2006 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is it just my overheated imagination, or could what we already know about Jade be presented as a fairly decent individuation story? You've got a normal girl leading a normal life until she finds out that she's one of those special adoptees that has super-powers and a long-lost twin brother. She sets off on a journey of discovery, co-founds a super-team, learns the origins of her birth - including the nugget that her dad was the de facto king of Golden Age superheroes - and eventually she goes beyond them, arm-wrestles the source of both her powers and her father's, and comes back to earth to spread her newfound wisdom `n' shit.

    Granted, she was a second-tier character - and, yeah, both female and a perpetual sidekick - but in a perfect world a story like Green Lantern/Sentinel: Heart of Darkness would still probably have played out as more or less her equivalent of "the Return of Barry Allen" over in Wally's book: the kid stares the mentor's legacy in the face, steps beyond it, and becomes a respected mainstay of the DCU until the next Crisis comes along.

    Instead, she lost her powers - well, until Kyle gave them back to her.

    . . .

    We will not talk about the thing with the plants.

    Anyway, it'd take a full-blown Jade: Year One to excavate it from the current canon, but there's a proper - and very solid - heroic arc in all that.

    As for the work she needs as a character: I know it's not cool to disagree with the blog-host, but I don't know that giving the Haydens an unfortunate bear-bating accident would help her character much in the long run - I actually find the idea that she loves them but isn't particularly hung up about them to be kinda cool.

    By all means, put some space - put a lot of space - between her and all the people she's hung around with in the past; I vote, send her to Opal City. Partially just for the cheesy precious stones riff, partially because that's the first place in the DCU I'd look for a green girl with a fondness for Louise Brooks bangs, and partially because it's an urban environment with enough character to elicit character in response. Put her in a setting where the Shade is dropping by for tea and there's a crazy O'Dare on every block, and you make it a little bit easier to go back to playing her as a point of view character in an interesting world - kinda like in II, but with a lot less Roy Thomas-style melodrama.

    Plus, I miss Opal.

    For audience sympathy . . . hm. Actually, what sticks in my head is that every time we see her someplace new, she's in the middle of reinventing herself. Been a while since I've read II, but back then she'd just left home to be an actress/superhero, right? Then she turns up a couple of years later on the other side of the country, determined to make it as a photographer. Then, after the mess with Kyle, she joins Uncle Roy's Full-Time Professional Superhero Sideshow.

    Given that, I bet you could win people over with the soft cell: by portraying her as more or less the bastard daughter of Peter Parker and Betty Cooper. She's an optimist and an extrovert who's been pretty regularly worked over by life, and she's trying - again - to find a place for herself. It's accessible, it doesn't require a whole lot of exposition, and it's a set-up just one frantic editor away from being totally extreme to the max with guitar riffs!

    What she'd really need to keep her going after that is an ace supporting cast and good, Jade-specific villains.

    Which, yeah, may be where my imagination starts breaking down.

    So, yeah, I guess she could stay dead . . . .

  • At April 29, 2006 2:26 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    *gasp* Daring to disagree with the blog-host! Tar and feathers! :-)

    Honestly, killing them would be a short term solution at best, and admittedly lazy, but it would or would not be feasable.

    I think also, that it's not so much that we keep seeing Jade in the process of reinventing herself so much as we keep seeing her just afterwards. Thus, there's no real connection to what came before, we're told she did this and this before becoming a photographer...but without *seeing* it, the sympathetic aspects of the transitory state are lost. And there's further disconnect because she's practically a new character...

    Contrasted with say Guy Gardner, has gone through some very major twists and turns characterization wise but it's always connected to what came before.

    Heart of Darkness is a missed opportunity, but it's probably a bad idea to try for a retelling of's always going to be compared to the original story, and most changes will be negative...especially as Jade lacks the popularity of Alan or Kyle. (It's an unfair cycle really, it'd be good to develop the character, but she needs development to be more popular *first*.)

    But the Peter Parker/Betty Cooper thing is kinda what I'm going for, it probably wouldn't work forever, but it'd make for a good starting point, especially if we stick to her point of view and revisit *why* she wants to do this again.

    Just my opinion of course.

  • At April 29, 2006 2:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Pf! Tar! Feathers! Typing . . . problematic!

    Anyway: yeah, good point. Lots of good points. And it's not even that we typically see her *after* she reinvents herself - it's more that we watch as it all fails to come together. The early burst of optimism and energy is off-panel, and then we just tend to see her in varying degrees of stasis. Or, alternatively, dead.


    So, again, I'd say you're on the right track. Is there a well-established tradition around these parts of people demanding DC start sending you paychecks?

  • At April 29, 2006 3:05 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Not really, but flattery'll get you everywhere. *bats eyes*

    The Opal City thing is a really good idea though. The only problem is that as she is right now, she'd likely get overshadowed by such a vibrantly developed place. But after a few issues to really firmly establish her direction and personality, *then* she might suit a place like Opal better...

    which I like because I can't resist naming puns. If I could find a way to get Amethyst in there I would.

    Actually, speaking of, that might be a good way to market Jade too... Amethyst kind of cashed in on the fairy princess/magical girl sort of market for young women and girls pretty well. Basically what would become a portion of the manga market.

    A character like Jade might be good at attracting some of that group of manga fans. She's got the cool princess element as Alan's daughter. She's got pretty magical powers. Her character design is pretty and her costume covers most of her in a flattering yet modest way.

    Considering how unfalteringly *stupid* a lot of female characters marketed to girls are, Jade would be a step up. Her faults were more self-centeredness, bitchiness and incompetence than stupidity. A lot of the first two would be softened a bit if written with a more sympathetic, female-directed perspective, and the last could be fixed with training.

    Heck, seeing a female character struggle to get stronger and prove herself is always a good inspiration for young girls to keep at their own goals. Even if Jennie fails at first, as long as she keeps trying, she'll be a good example.

    Of course, when marketing to a younger audience, certain elements would need to be toned down. But really one can do a lot in a young-adult themed story without losing much as long as there's a certain subtlety in the portrayal. Robin manages to cover dark and serious, "adult" type stuff in a way that'd work for younger readers.

    And think of the marketing potential! Green Barbie Dolls for one...damn, I wish I didn't say that, now I really want a green barbie doll to dress up and play with.

    ...there is a certain part of me, I admit, that never made it past the age of twelve. :-)

  • At April 29, 2006 4:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As far as I'm concerned, no one ever has to justify a desire for green Barbie dolls. And no one who proposes Jade and Amethyst in Opal ever has to justify anything. It's in the rule book somewhere!

    As for Jen fitting into Opal . . . okay, sure, there are only half a dozen artists out there I'd trust to draw the city in the first place, but if you got one of them - J.H. Williams, say - then my guess is, from a purely visual perspective, she'd fit in immediately (albeit in a different way than Jack did), and that's half the battle right there!

    The character as a character, though: I dunno. There might be something to be said for starting her off as working in (off the top of my head) an Opal gallery or some such, just so she could start off grounded in a supporting cast, but the more I think about it - and, clearly, I've already thought about this way too much - letting her choose to go to Opal on-panel really might be the best way to go. Make the city itself the payoff of the first act; God knows it has its fans.

    Jade as pseudo-manga princess? Yes. A thousand times, yes. Hell, Alan's origin itself is kind of an industrial-age fairy tale, and playing Jade up as the heir apparent to a version of Aladdin who fought zombies and immortal cavemen-warlords is just too nifty to miss. There's the whole wish-fulfillment vibe built right into the powers themselves, no less!

    The two tricks to shojo-izing Jade that you haven't touched on are romance and bad guys. Older readers would probably be grateful if Jen had a chance to get her life in order before trying to figure out if there was a guy out there who could take the place of an artistic space messiah in a dog collar, but - and I concede that this is speculation, as I've never had occasion to be a twelve year old girl myself - I'd think the younger readers would want an admiring boy-creature lurking around from early on, just to keep things interesting.

    On the other hand, if my experience as a young girl fails me, my history as a young guy informs me that there are a lot of us out there, and we're generally not that hard to confuse, tame, and distribute according to need. Shouldn't be a big problem.

    Finding a villainous theme, though: that really is kind of a stumper. Yes, having Jade and Amethyst team up against Star Sapphire for the sake of Opal would pretty much justify the existence of the entire DC universe, but you could only do it so many times before it stopped being magical.

    More to the point, you need an early opposition that implicitly underlines what Jade's all about, and . . . well, I'm not quite sure what that is, so I'm stuck. Do we need somebody out to steal the Starheart from Alan? Nero and his angry demon posse? Brainwave, Jr., on a tear? Todd (please, no) around the bend (please, no) again (pleeease, no)?

    Still, I'm getting strangely into the potential of this - kind of a shame it'll never happen.


  • At April 29, 2006 4:40 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I think it'd be best to stick with original villains (NOT Todd, thankyou) at least at the start. Later one can imagine pulling in II era acquaintances/adversaries, but as I'm really bad with that time period, I'm not gonna suggest any. :-)

    I think the initial primary villain should be female though, and possibly not initially connected to Jade at all. (Speaking of, it might be useful if she could turn off and on the green thing. Much as I love it, it'd certainly help blend in more.) Someone who has designs on the city, is thwarted, and holds a grudge from that point on.

    She could even be a parallel character of sorts, a spoiled heiress type, self absorbed to the point of sociopathy. Thus there's the element of "There but for the grace of God go I" involved. It won't negate Jade's own flaws, but it will cast them in a relative light. Jade's can be overcome, this woman probably not so much.

    It take some time though to develop a real plausible villainess, but the nice thing about a young adult/psuedo-manga-princess sort of orientation is that not all of the enemies have to be terribly serious. Some shoud be, but others can be fairly light-hearted and silly fun.

    I'd like to avoid using villains already associated with Alan in general, but the woman could be the daughter/granddaughter of a particular rich fat-cat sort of villain that Alan fought once but never seen on panel.

    Failing that, doesn't Vandal Savage have a daughter?

    As for the romance, well, romance is definitely a big part of shoujo, especially magical-girl sort of shoujo, but it also tends to build very slowly. So if there are a few attractive and interesting male possibilities around to flirt or have sexual tension with, that should suffice. Anything deeper could develop in time but there's probably no need to rush into things...especially with that whole cheating thing in the background.

    It's definitely fun to speculate! I'm actually starting to really like the idea of the character that she could be, as much as I dislike her everywhere else.

  • At April 29, 2006 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Original villains? Agreed. And, actually, I like the idea of a throwback to the crooked moneymen of Alan's youth (even if that's never made explicitly clear).

    [I'll add that I was actually around for the original run of II - albeit as something of a youngun - and I don't remember too many standout villains apart from ol' Bones himself. Jade's most complicated off-team relationship, IIRC, was with Solomon Grundy, but he's damn close to being overexposed these days.

    [And I never, ever thought I'd write a sentence like that.]

    Initial villain female, and not directly connected to Jen: cool - though some trawling through back issues of All-Star Squadron for inspiration might be fun. [If I remember the Arsenal mini properly, Vandal probably has a lot of daughters, but I think the main one's gonna be a fixture in Secret Six - so she's probably out.] And, actually, I really like the idea that Evil Lady's potential would be emerging along the way. I don't need slavish parallelism, but it's nice to have the occasional villain who demonstrates the same kind of capacity to learn and to react as the hero.

    Out-and-out goofy issues would also be a plus. Hell, just signs of a sense of humor in our lead would be appreciated: the poor kid has spent an awful lot of her career in soapy roles, one way or the other, and a bit of lightening up would probably be good for her. God knows, at the conceptual level, there's no reason to play her dark.

    I honestly don't know how much attention the cheating thing warrants anymore, incidentally. Yeah, it was a crappy thing to do, but as of the OYL event it's probably meant to have been a couple of years in the past. If Jen were ever to be restored, I think we could reasonably anticipate that her relationship with Kyle would be in a different place than it was when he came back from space - particularly given how she went out in Rann-Thanagar. She wouldn't have anything to feel terribly proud about, maybe, but she'd at least be in a position to know that she wasn't responsible for emotionally mauling Kyle so badly that he'd never hit on mute artist girls again.

    If that's not an excuse to move on, I don't know what is!

    Anyway, this is a hoot - if you're ever inspired to do An Exercise in Egotism 2.1, I'd definitely like to see where you'd take it . . . .

  • At April 29, 2006 6:21 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    The cheating thing struck nerves in a lot of people I guess. Best to just move on from it, I'd reckon...and have her keep distance from Kyle.

    And you're right, a little bit of humor would go a long way toward making Jade likeable. She actually had moments really early on in Green Lantern (Marz's run, I think) where she was actually somewhat charming.

    2.1, maybe. :-) I blog-post on whim, so inspiration might strike.

    Or I can decide to mess with another character! Mwa-ha-ha!

    Hey, isn't there a Gothamite called Onyx? She could join Amethyst and Jade in Opal, fighting Sapphire. It'd make *me* laugh. :-)

  • At April 29, 2006 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    On the "there but for the grace of God go I" thing, I was actually thinking an alternate-universe version of Jade who'd gone a slightly different path and was now all villainous and crazy.

    (Yes, I know, Crisis, shut up. Dammit, DC, this is why you need a multiverse.)

    Also, it'd be a good idea to bring Todd around as a supporting character - nothing says shojo manga like gay guys! ^-^

  • At May 01, 2006 12:42 PM, Blogger Steven said…

    "(Yes, I know, Crisis, shut up. Dammit, DC, this is why you need a multiverse.)"

    Dammit people, one last time!

    The Crisis did NOT get rid of parallel universes. The Crime Syndicate, Elseworlds, Hypertime, intercompany crossovers, all still happen (and evil, goateed Jade could still exist).

    The Crisis just made it possible for Power Girl, The Ray, Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle, and Guy Gardner to all be in the Justice League at the same time with the LEAST AMOUNT OF EXPLAINATION.

    Back on topic...

    "Jade: Power Princess of Opal City"?


    I'd also add Booster Gold, The Emerald Eye, Silversword, and the (precious) Metal Men to the cast. Plastic Man can make a guest appearance, but it would be tacky.

  • At May 03, 2006 12:41 PM, Blogger Hate Filled Poster said…

    "Anyway, she does a lot of soul searching. She's lost her chance with her family, and she discovers, looking at these pictures, that her life hasn't gone the way she'd wanted it to.

    So she decides to change it. She's still young. She's got all these possibilities ahead. Maybe she goes back to school. She'll continue to be a hero, but she'll realize she should and could be a much better hero. She'll train and practice.

    This way, when she makes stupid mistakes. When she does badly, we'll be more sympathetic. She's trying, she's working to get better. And she will get better."

    All this sounds a lot like what Marvel is currently doing with Carol Danvers in Ms.Marvel. Jade could easily be DC's character to step up and be a powerful female hero that has never really been explored to her full potential. Excellent post as always.

  • At May 03, 2006 12:46 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    shane: Thanks! I admit, I don't keep up with Marvel much (not so much to my taste) but I've heard good things about Ms. Marvel. I'll have to give it a shot.

    ununnilium: hmm, honestly, I tend to find "parallel alternate versions" to be best used sparingly. Evil Jade might be fun for an issue, but as a long term villain, it'd be less fun.

    steven: Heh, that tends to be my view of things as well

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