Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

An Exercise in Egotism 2.1: Continuing Ideas for Jade

Well, much to my surprise my previous Exercise in Egotism regarding Jade became much more interesting in the commentary than I'd anticipated. Lots of new ideas brought up that seem like they could be fun.

As a result, Ragnell and I started toying around with the ideas, developing a few of them in ways I find interesting. And because it's my blog, I'll share.

Expanding on the Idea

Now, as I've indicated in the comments, I'm particularly taken with the idea of re-imaging Jade toward a younger female audience. See, I've been thinking about Amethyst, lately, and I thought that series was interesting in its scope and target audience range. It had managed to cash in on a fanbase that tended to be neglected, one that's currently neglected now except by manga and some few indie comics. Neither DC nor Marvel really have a series that targets younger teenage girls. Supergirl is possibly the closest, but her current re-imagining, as much as I've been liking the LoSH version, is not really geared toward the same audience as the pre-crisis version.

Amethyst was interesting because it combined elements that are very common in young girl's manga(though I don't know if it was intentional) like the magical girl/girl falls into another world/little girl is aged to a more adult figure elements. However, there were distinctly American elements to the story and its presentation. It became a story both younger readers and older readers could enjoy. Now the only real outlet for younger girls interested in comics is really the manga section, which is a shame for the Big Two.

I think Jade could easily slide into that particular, underfilled niche. Jade's an older protagonist than Amethyst, so it won't be the same style precisely, but she's got a lot to attract young girls. She's very beautiful, in a way that manages to remain quite a bit more modest than most of her sisters in the comic fandom. She's got what amounts to magic powers. She's got a regal governing father figure. And she wouldn't take much work to be a positive character for parents to like their daughters reading as well. (Youthful indiscretions in Green Lantern aside). Her flaws are considerable: self-centeredness, bitchiness and incompetence but she's really no worse than a lot of starting manga heroines. Maturing the character tends to come part and parcel with the plot.

Merchandising would probably be pretty easy. Some lovely imagery-intense posters. And lets not forget dolls. I still want a green Barbie Doll.

Now as for her potential setting, much as I love Opal City, and the notion of all the gemstone-people fighting Star Sapphire there, heh. I'm not sure the setting would suit her. It'd be visually striking, but really, I don't think it'll suit her. She might be a legacy character, but she doesn't have the same vibe as say Jack or even Courtney.

And ultimately, I think I'd like to see her some place quieter. A lot more trees. Rustic. Which would allow for some character humor as well, Jade's a city girl at heart, so this sort of lifestyle would take a great deal of getting used to. It'd be a nice, sympathetic, mundane problem to counter act the weirdness.

I like the notion of using nature and the wilderness because well, for one, the image. Jade is green. There could be a lot of artistic imagery casting her as something of a mother-nature sort of figure. I also like it because it would take Jade out of her element. As a "princess" type character, we've never really seen her have to buckle down and be self-sufficient, but that's really a wonderful way to humanize said "princess" characters. We may not know what it's like to be rich, or the daughter of a hero, or to be born with special powers and find out you've got a long lost twin. But we know what it's like to strike out on our own. And we sympathize with the foibles and frustrations of someone in a new environment. Besides, we can move her back to the city later.

And it'll help introduce a lot of the supporting cast. See, we actually ended up thinking, well, why not take the fantasy/fairy tale elements to a logical conclusion and use the Fair Folk themselves. Best part of the Sidhe is how in the right circumstances, they could be enemies OR allies. Part of it's just that I like Faeries. But another part is that they're an element of magical folklore that I don't recall touched much upon in the DCU...which allows for a lot of author leeway. Heck the idea of creating an entire Underhill setting: the Courts, the politics, the society...that's a really attractive prospect.

Faeries (naturally I mean the intense, messy, scary folklore kind, not Tinkerbell) would be a good for Jade's skills as a character. First there's the theme elements of nature and Green Magic, but also subtler bits. I said in my previous post that Jade worked best as an audience-window sort of character, as the sane normal one. And certainly, the interworkings of the Seelie and Unseelie folk would be alien enough to highlight that element. The politics inherent in the folktales indicate a healthy dose of diplomacy (specifically in managing volatile personalities...which she certainly has experience with), social maneuvering and intelligence.

They're also wonderfully suited to a young adult book. I've never thought Young-Adult had to mean sanitized so as not to damage the fragile things' minds. Faeries, in the stories, are often savage, terrifying creatures. They're elements of nature and man is just their plaything, and even when they're benevolent, it's a touchy thing.

And they're pretty, thus allowing for interesting relationship potential.

I would also, were I writing this story, rework Jade's powers a little. Well, re-envision's probably a more accurate word. This is where it gets really controversial.

I don't want to take away the green powers of course, but I want to re-imagine them a little. As long as Jade's powers are portrayed as the weaker version of Alan's, she's never going to stop being the "least competent" Lantern. The thing is, she's really NOT a Lantern at all. And she shouldn't be. She's born of the *Starheart*. Her green magic was inside her from the beginning.

Thinking about that leads me to two thoughts. The first is that, it could be very easy to establish that she's not actually incompetent. But rather, she's trying to use her powers in the same directing/focusing/controlling way Alan does or the Corps Lanterns do. I mean, what they're doing is using an inanimate object (even if Alan is merged with his). They've got to activate the object, extract the energy, form it into a usable state, make it go in the right direction, make it not explode/expand too far/or anything like that on the way...But Jade's isn't an external object. It's *her*. It's a part of her. It pulses through her body to the point where she's *green*. It's default state seems to be on, and it's supposed to be chaotic energy, it's plausible that it's tied far more with emotion than with a deliberate effort of will. Instead of forcing it, she should be letting it free...or something like that. It'd explain away her weakness and give her the chance to be more effective once she'd figure this out.

The second thought is a little wilder though. Why should Jade's powers be a mirror of Alan's exactly? One could take them in a different direction entirely. Still the conjuring stuff and flying of course, but with a different emphasis. The Starheart is inorganic, inanimate. The Power Pulse is organic and alive. His powers are artificial, hers are natural. And given the nature of her mother's abilities, it might be interesting to re-conceptualize the Power Pulse as an amalgamation of her mother's nature powers and her father's celestial powers. I know not many people liked that bit where she briefly manifested plant powers, I didn't either. But it could be interesting to use in tandem with the Pulse. The Pulse being tied to life or something like that. I admit, it might just be that green growing plants could be visually very pretty. I'm shallow like that.

Besides, I'd like to tie Jade more into her mother's legacy as well as her father's. She's not Athena, sprung full grown from her father's head. Obsidian has a lot more thematic ties to both father and mother, but Jade is solely her father's daughter. And that's a shame. Besides, Green Magic's tied with plant growth in stories. So thematically, it'd fit together nice. It could be a very natural, organic extention of her powers.

The set-up of the story could be easy. A hero's quest. Perhaps after being returned from the dead, she's trying to get on with her life, and her powers start acting up. Alan can't help her so she's forced to try other means, whereupon she ends up in way over her head.

There could be a lot of striking visual imagery, which would really be a selling point to the comic. Romantic tension's easy, a few intriguing male characters here and there. And well, if it doesn't work, just move her back to the city, write it off as a drug-hallucination, and/or kill her again. :-)

I think it'd be fun though.


  • At May 03, 2006 6:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'd love to see her return from the dead by stepping out of a flower pod; a strange plant grown from where they buried her body.

    Which could be a gateway to youthening her, too.

  • At May 03, 2006 9:13 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    In the right artist's hands, that'd be an *incredible* image, I'd reckon.

    Gosh, I wish I could draw. :-)

  • At May 03, 2006 10:14 AM, Blogger joncormier said…

    So move her to Ireland or something and tap into that whole Goblin King, Selkie mystique. That would be quite cool.

  • At May 03, 2006 10:18 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Could be, problem is it'd be very easy to accidently reduce a place like Ireland to a offensive caricature I think. Still, with enough could be really cool. :-)

  • At May 03, 2006 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe a closer look at her origin;any questions there,any mysteries,any secrets,any puzzles?Sometimes we find things,hidden in plain sight...

  • At May 03, 2006 10:47 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    *nod* That's why I really want to play with her mother. After all, such a big deal is made about her learning that her biological dad is a hero and she's got a superpowered twin as well. But Rose/Thorn/Alix tends to be neglected. A split personalitied villainess for a mom is as interesting as a hero (even one as awesome as Alan) for a dad, and it doesn't tend to get played with.

  • At May 03, 2006 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Two thoughts:

    One: before the whole "Guardians Made A Big Ball Of Messy, Chaotic Magic And Tossed It Into Earth-Two's Universe", way back in GL's origin story, back in All-American Comcs #16, the Green Flame expressly stated that it was green BECAUSE of its connection to Nature, and to "green, growing things".

    That was also the stated reason for Alan's vulnerability to wood -- which Jade, should she come into full awareness of her powers, SHOULD NOT SHARE.

    You're absolutely right: by all logic, since Jade's been shown to have her mother's powers as well as an internalization of her father's, they should synergize into something MORE. Jade should be Ion-Level: Lantern Plus.

    Maybe we could even rewrite the rewrite. I've never liked the revision of the Green Flame of Life into the Star Heart; it vaguely made sense Pre-Crisis, as a way of explaining why Earth-Two was so bloody magical while Earth-One was so sci-fi, but the Post-Crisis Universe is every bit as magical as Earth-Two was.

    Two: if we're going to do the "Fantasy Princess" thing, why not go all the way, and have Jennie-Lynn being reborn in the Land of the Fae itself? It could turn into a whole Campbellian fantasy quest epic, as she slowly learns not only self-reliance in this strange new world, but also learns the true nature of her powers and how to master them.

    We could even stay true to her character (and to the manga/anime tropes we're borrowing): at first, she latches onto some dashing Legolas clone to "guide and protect her", but eventually realizes that she's more powerful than he is, and he's really kind of a jerk -- who might actively betray her or let her down (demonstrating that he's more Fae than Tolkien).

    In any event, she realizes that a) she doesn't Need Him, and b), she's spent her whole life subordinating herself to the men in her life.

    At the end of the Big Twelve-Issue Miniseries, she could then be reborn (re-reborn?) into the Mortal World, New, Improved, and Independent -- neatly set up to move off and away from her East Coast baggage, just as you'd originally described. I could see her in San Francisco -- I think the DCU has a hard time keeping heroes there.

    Three: My one concern with the proposed model of her powers is that it treads dangerously close to a sexist cliche: "Male Power is Will Power and Conceptual/Female Power Is Passion And Emotion and Nature".

    That was, in fact, one of the main gripes about Jade losing her Green Flame and getting her mother's plant powers instead.

    Emphasizing and reinforcing the idea that her abilities are a SYNERGY, more than EITHER, might moderate this.

    (Wow, this was long and rambly. Maybe it's time for me to get my own blogger comics rant site.)

  • At May 03, 2006 1:12 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Those are some good ideas too. :-)

    Yeah, I suppose the willpower vs emotion thing can definitely be read sexist, but Jade really doesn't suit the detached will-power angle, I think. What we need are more female Corps Lanterns to represent that side and equalize the gender dichotomy.

    Also if we make sure to have a lot of male character among the fae...they'd be equally as thriving on emotion and passion, which might help as well. :-) But yeah, the emphasis on a synergy would be best. :-)

    Yes, you should make a blog! Blogs are fun!

  • At May 03, 2006 1:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Alan's powers have been said to depend on his confidence, not his willpower, in his early adventures at least. Playing up this angle with Jade would tie nicely with a character-growth story.

    -- Jack of Spades

  • At May 03, 2006 1:26 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Hmm, that *could* end up being an interesting split off the angle...

  • At May 03, 2006 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This seems to be getting into territor that has already been well-trodden by Vertigo. Gaiman used the Fae in Sandman and Books of Magic, and I gather they were expanded on in the series by another writer which continued from that, which I haven't read. Still, you're absolutely right, the Fae are awesome. It might be interesting to examine them from a more DCU-y point of view. It would make sense to have Jade as one of the characters that bridges the Vertigo and DCU mythoses, like Zatanna or Phantom Stranger. She would fill a niche that they don't because she would be connected to the Dreaming and the Green rather than angsty trenchcoaters. :)

    I recently read an English fairy tale (for a class on John Milton, because it was supposedly an inspiration for Comus) where boy had to go to fairy-land to rescue his kidnapped sister (Maybe this series could begin with a reversal of that? Obsidian is captured by the Fairy King and enslaved by him, like Tam Lin, and Jade has to get him back, so she rescues one of the men in her life for a change?)... yes, this has a point. In that story, he meets up with Merlin, who tells him that to save his sister he has to cut off the head of everyone he meets. So he goes around asking fairies for direction and then immediatley cuts off their heads. If this series had that, it would be the best comic ever. :)

  • At May 03, 2006 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Green Barbie dolls, beheadings, and mad bastard Fir Bolg running around: I'm not seeing a downside to any of this.


    Actually, my first reflexive thought is that a lot of this sounds like it might work even better with Poison Ivy - not least because a degree of sociopathic detachment strikes me as being fairly consistent with some of the Sidhe tradition. But then we really are more than halfway to Vertigo, and the shojo princess angle goes bye-bye.

    So, right: back to Jade.

    [That said, given how much of post-Moore Swamp Thing mythology revolves around the metaconsciousness of plant life as "the Green," there may be Vertigo bits you'd actually want to embrace.

    [The other thing to grab onto in this scheme would almost have to be Seven Soldiers - Gloriana Tenebrae and Melmoth and the Sheeda invasion can all be taken as some kind of aspect of the DCU Unseelie, and they're probably too high profile to ignore in the near future.]

    What else? I'm all for retooling the power pulse, and I like your take, but let's toss in one awkward twist: do we think that Jade's mother is still Rose Canton? I have the sneaking suspicion that Dan Didio would say that there's only one schizophrenic Rose/Thorn in post-Crisis DC continuity, after all.

    Which is a backhanded way of saying I bet you're free to take some liberties with Jen's maternal ancestry, if you're so inclined. I figure all we know for sure are the plant powers.

    Back to the big picture: taking her out of an Art Deco paradise breaks my heart, but, yeah, your concept has legs. Tam Linning it could well work, given the manga parameters - there's certainly a well-established context for dragging heroines off to magical parallel worlds - but consider me voting strongly against leaving Todd safely unkidnapped over in Manhunter. Yes, any heritage issues are going to come back to him in time, but the guy really needs the room to breathe right now.


    Okay, I lived there for a couple of years in college, and I love the place deeply, and I can say with great certainty that if there's one characteristic that unites every single one of my Irish friends, it's a love of taking American misconceptions of Irish life and beating one to death with them. I don't mean to discourage you - I just suggest you tread carefully.

    And possibly write under an assumed name.

    . . .

    Like "Warren Ellis."

    Anyway: fun! Very fun!


  • At May 03, 2006 7:02 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    djack: Oh yeah, like I said, Ireland would be tricky. I'd actually prefer something like America and Canada. Ireland's got the atmosphere, but I'd only work with a writer that's been there.

    If *I* were the writer. No. I've never even been there, could never write it.

    Actually I thought part of the fun would be ultimately moving Jade back to the city. Maybe a few Sidhe-types in tow, so *they* can be the clueless ones.

    adrian: I don't think I'd use Obsidian like that. :-) He can take care of himself. But there would definitely be beheadings. :-)

  • At May 03, 2006 9:25 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Lemme chime in on the emotion vs willpower thing.

    Part of Jade's problem is trying to graft a personality like Power Girl on top of a sweet-natured traditionally feminine person when you want to show off her strength. It comes off unnatural and she comes off as weak. Ice was the most traditionally feminine character I've ever seen, and she was able to be strong in JLI without immitating a different type of charater. It seemed natural and organic.

    Jade's got traditionally feminine aspects to her spersonality, those are her personal strengths, but nobody seems to want to build on that because the traditional definition of feminine doesn't equal strength to them.

    Now, I love characters like Power Girl, Katma Tui, Barbara Gordon and Soranik Natu, but not everyone needs to have willpower and rationality be strong.

    Some people, both genders, are emotional and passionate and that's where the strength lies. I say stop worrying about sexism here and allow the character to have strength in a way that seems natural. If you're worried about sexism, throw in a supporting female cast member (one of the Fir Bolg?) who does hold power in the opposite way -- with willpower and reason.

  • At May 03, 2006 11:53 PM, Blogger James Meeley said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At May 04, 2006 2:32 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Yep, it was darkly ironic, the most competent/useful/likable the poor girl's *ever* been...and she's dead.

  • At May 04, 2006 4:25 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Actually it's wierd, four pages by Levitz and I was more attached to her than in Winick's entire run.

  • At May 04, 2006 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Haven't though of Amyphst(sp?) sense the ORIGINAL CIE damn! Your ideas great and its worked before a la Gargoyles you just have to homage the source not transplant, and be very creative


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