Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Legacy I'd Like To See...

I love the idea of Madame Fatal. I honestly do. I've never, sadly, read any of the comics themselves, but I think that it's one of the more entertaining ideas for a superhero I've ever read.

Now, being the legacy nut that I am, I really *really* want to see someone new take on the name in Richard Stanton's honor (making up for being reduced to a birdcage joke, hmph.)

It occurred to me though, honestly, in today's society, a man dressing like an old woman to stop crime is simply not edgy enough. As entertaining as *I* find the idea, my generation is a jaded, cynical bunch.

So my suggestion is to take one of those cracked out gender-shifting type plots and make it a reality. Make the new Madame Fatal a man somehow transformed or brain-switched into a female body.

Maybe borrow a page from Ghost in the Shell, and have it be an android body. The persona occupying it would be male of course. :-)

It's really easy to fuck this sort of thing up, I admit, but it could be an interesting way to play with gender perspectives. How people react differently to men and women. Things like that.

And heck, I'm a gamer, I've seen the kinds of female characters that men seem to like to play in RPGs...we wouldn't need an excuse for a very skimpy showy costume.

Okay, I admit it. I only want to make this character to poke fun at the gamer guys. :-) But I think he/she could be fun!

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  • At October 14, 2006 11:53 AM, Blogger Marionette said…

    I think it's about time we saw a proper transgendered character in comics. I know there's that skrull in Runaways, but that's as much of a cheat as Mantra.

    Even if it's a magical thing where the character transforms so their hero version is a different sex to their secret identity, it would work if the person actually wanted to be the other sex, and there was some subplot that addressed their gender issues.

    Of course the male who has to become female in order to be empowered is an interesting concept in itself.

  • At October 14, 2006 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One question - how is this any less patently offensive than DC's original idea for Black Lightning that involved a racist ex-Army redneck transforming into a super-powered, heroically minded Black man?

  • At October 14, 2006 3:50 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    "The Black Bomber" was offensive in so MANY ways, but the biggest one was Tony Isabella's own critique -- did DC really want its first black solo hero to be a white bigot?

    From what I've read, the Bomber's two personalities were independent -- he'd change, save people that he'd normally revile, and change back, to go back to being a rude, noisy bigot. The comparison is only valid if the New Improved Madame Fatal is a swaggering, chauvinistic macho member of the He-Man Women Hater's Club who unwillingly finds himself in a woman's (or female android) body.

    That's not a superhero, it's a Saturday Night Live routine.

    In contrast, a story about a white bigot who wakes up in a black body, can't change back, and has to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" has some compelling dramatic potential. These days, it's not particularly innovative, but it would have had some mileage in the '70s.

    On the other claw, any comparison to the Black Bomber completely vanishes if the character in question accepts his/her identity -- or embraces it. They've made some headway with introducing gay superheroes; maybe it's time for some transgendered ones.*

    *Yes, I'm aware of Eric Larsen's Mighty Man.

  • At October 14, 2006 5:58 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    marionette: I do like the Skrull in Runaways, but it's definitely true that he doesn't really fit a transgendered role. He's a man living as a woman out of love. Which makes for fascinating story potential but not a real portrayal of a transgendered character.

    I think gender issues would definitely be a long running theme in the story...

    If the character isn't transgendered, the quandary would be a little like She-Hulk's. There'd be the allure to always remain in one's more powerful form, but in the process, give up his male privilege in a very real way.

    If the character IS transgendered (which honestly, I'd prefer), then it's even more of a difficult situation because being female would be *right*. She would have everything she could want as a hero, but would be stuck returning to a very unwanted form. (Which would, admittedly make for an infailable secret identity.)

    Actually to make the transformation permanent could be an interesting long term goal for the character.

    starman: I apologize if you're offended. For me it's very different honestly.

    I suppose the key difference is that, like Your Obedient Serpent says, "the Black Bomber" would have been the first solo black hero.

    This idea would NOT be the first female hero. Not by any means. I would perhaps be the first transgendered hero. But that might be interesting to explore in a universe where gender is a lot more mutable (as Guy Gardner could tell us) than it is in ours.

    There's always the possibility for offensiveness, but on a serious note, I do think it could be interesting as well.

    serpent: Thanks!

  • At October 14, 2006 6:48 PM, Blogger Marionette said…

    The idea of the man who becomes female against his will but learns to accept it was done in Mantra and also in at least one movie (Switch). It's an interesting idea but that is not the story of a transgendered person.

    Transgender people have to fight every step of the way to achieve some semblence of an outward appearance that matches who they are inside. To address that in any kind of relevent way in a comic would mean that the only reluctance would be to ever change back.

    But the idea of someone who wanted to change sex, but only did so when they were asleep (kinda Rose & Thorn with a twist) is also an interesting one.

  • At October 14, 2006 7:03 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I agree with you. I didn't really phrase my previous reply right. (The reluctant transformation would be a different scenario than a transgendered person's)

    I do think though that there would possibly be more reluctance besides ever changing back for even a transgendered person though.

    As much as it'd be a wonderful thing to finally have an exterior to match who they are inside, it does mean a lot of sacrifices. The person they were would be, in the eyes of many, completely gone. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, of course, but it's a very large step to make. In the case of a comic, there'd be a little more to consider. The female identity would be a superpowered one. Now if she's relatively normal looking like Diana, that wouldn't be an issue. She could make a new secret identity, no problem.

    But if she looked like Starfire or She-Hulk? Then there'd be no respite from her superhero identity. No more civilian identity/sanctuary at all. That would be a big decision to make.

    Not to mention there's the risk of friends and family not understanding, of losing the people she cares about because they don't truly understand how difficult it is for her...

    Many transgendered people don't actually take the step to undergo surgery, and those reasons wouldn't necessarily disappear because it's a comic book.

    (Though as I believe heroic comics should be ultimately uplifting, I definitely think that the character would ultimately choose to take the final step, whatever it entails, to become physically what she's supposed to be.)

  • At October 14, 2006 8:09 PM, Blogger Johanna said…

    What was the name of the shapeshifter in Blood Syndicate? Everyone thought "he" was male for the longest time.

  • At October 14, 2006 11:09 PM, Blogger Marc Burkhardt said…

    I kinda miss Mantra. That was a pretty good book before Marvel lobotomized the concept.

    I think it would be a pretty cool idea, though, to have a truly transgendered hero. Might be up Chris Claremont's alley! :)

    Not sure if the Big Two has the guts right now to give the green-light to the all-new Madame Fatale, though.

  • At October 15, 2006 5:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    kilnara: I wasn't really offended by the idea of a man becoming a superpowered woman. I was just thinking that - strictly speaking - it IS an apt comparison.

    I was mildly offended by your assertation about gamer guys, being a gamer guy myself... but I know what you meant by it.

    It's ironic though - I play James Jesse (The Trickster) in an on-line DC Comics RPG campaign and one of my "scams" involved mugging muggers and taking their earnings for charity while disguised as an old woman. Then when the superheroes questioned me, I claimed I was the long lost grandson of the original Madame Fatale trying to continue the legacy...

    Power Girl gave me an invite to join the new JSA. Naturally, he never got around to calling her back... ;)

  • At October 15, 2006 5:53 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    starman: Heh, I used to game a lot online (usually MUDS), and one thing I figured out quickly is that if one meets a character that's an elf mage, in stilletto heels and a halter top, with a barely there strip of skirt, flirting with every guy loaded with innuendo...

    9 times out of 10, it's a guy player. :-P

    Which isn't to say that they're not fun to play with. :-) (Heck, I've played my share of yaoi-manga-uke girly-boy types myself, so I really *really* can't talk. Egads, that period was embarassing.) Most of the characters were fun to interact with, even if the descriptions made me giggle.

    I like the Jesse James idea though. :-)

  • At October 15, 2006 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, it seemed a natural idea for him - this being the post-Underworld Unleashed, trying to reform version of James Jesse. Nothing better for a chaotic, master of disguise who gets his kicks making people look foolish than dressing like an old lady and leaving random thugs trussed up.

    Gives me a chance to write out all the stories I had for a reformed James Jesse that, sadly, will probably never see the light of day since Geoff Johns made him respectable (FBI Agent? C'mon!) before making him evil again right before the Universe rebooted.

  • At October 20, 2006 12:04 AM, Blogger Erich said…

    As you mentioned that you'd never read anything with Madam Fatal, I found a five-page story that somebody scanned and put up on the web here:

  • At October 20, 2006 4:30 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    starman: :-) That sounds great!

    erich: Ooo. I love you!


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