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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bats and Bug Zappers: Why I'm Enjoying the Jason/Kyle Rivalry

I've been seeing this idea here and there in certain places regarding Kyle and Jason, essentially dismissing their characters' interaction to a good guy/bad boy type rivalry over Donna.

This is strange to me, because I have a deep aversion to that sort of infantile love triangle. It's never portrayed well on any side. Either it's told from the good guy's perspective, which comes down to "Women only go for jerks." Which smacks of an entitlement and bitterness I've seen far too often in real life. Newsflash guys, the reason women don't date "nice guys" like you is that we can actually SEE the bitterness and entitlement. It becomes very obvious very fast. You could be the nicest guy in the world, genuinely, and just incredibly shy, but if we sense that frustration and resentment toward our gender, we're probably not going to date you. The other guy might call us annoying pet names and posture and generally act like a jerk, but he isn't the one pinning all the bitterness and dissatisfaction of his own life on our shoulders.

Or it's from the bad boy's perspective. The bad boy is dashing and smooth, while the good guy is bland staid milquetoast. The girl then ends up a conquest and prize in what amounts to the bad boy establishing dominance over the milquetoast. Yeah that's flattering.

But I digress.

I've been liking the relationship in Countdown/CotU/et al though and I really think it's because there really isn't a triangle.

Yes, Kyle is attracted to Donna. They'd been together a long time and he'd probably be keen on restarting their relationship. She was also there when his mom died and he's just coming out of a very traumatic time, so the emotional ties are going to be important.

He doesn't particularly like the chemistry he sees between Donna and Jason. But I don't actually read it as possessive so much. He's not irked because Donna's got chemistry with another man, he's irked because he doesn't like Jason.

And to be fair, who can blame him?

Don't get me wrong, I think Jason's a pretty interesting guy now that they've settled on a consistant personality for him that isn't snidely whiplash. He's dark, but he's got a lot of good reason and everyone with a brain can understand why he reacted badly to the Jokester for example.

But Kyle doesn't really know any of that. Where would he have found any of that out? It's not like Bruce gives Power Point Briefings on the ins and outs of his Robins. Tim Drake had already been well established as Robin for about two years when Kyle got the ring. Dick and Jason had the same costume, I'd be surprised if he'd known there WAS a dead Robin.

He seems to have some idea who Jason is now, true, but I'd imagine that's because Jason was running about as Red Hood and wreaking havoc for a while. Bruce probably ended up briefing the others with something like: "This is Red Hood. His real name is Jason Todd. He used to be Robin."

That'd be all the others really need to know. They're warned to expect a heavy level of competence, martial arts ability, and general Bat-trained creepiness. There's no reason they need to know about his death or any of that other stuff. And while he MIGHT tell a close friend or ally like Clark or Diana the truth, Kyle really doesn't fit in that category.

All Kyle likely knows about this guy is that he's an ex-bat, that he's terrorized Star City, New York, and Gotham. He's attacked Oliver Queen and company. That's about it.

And then when they meet, there's the added complication of Ryan being yoinked away from them. Kyle wants to go after him. Save him. Whatever. Jason wants to push on. Both attitudes are reasonable and both are in character. But Kyle's from a work culture that heavily, heavily emphasizes "Leave no man behind." The recent Parallax stuff just drills that even deeper.

Bats and Green Lanterns are pretty well known for their ideological differences. Kyle's the only one who EVER managed to get along with Bruce without the inevitable clash of wills. The Bats ideology is based on causing fear, tight self-control, strict physical training, and back up plans galore. The Lanterns ideology is based on overcoming fear, adrenaline, emotion, faith and sheer mindless determination. This isn't to say they're stupid (though sometimes Hal or Kyle really skirt that line, :-P) or that they're not capable of clever schemes. But in general, back up plans and second guessing aren't their thing. Bats also brood, where Lanterns repress and try not to think about it. (Though admittedly, in Guy's case, repression involves punching things)

Batman's scary enough that Kyle avoided the clashing that Hal, John and Guy fall prey to sometimes, but Jason's not that far from his own age. So the ideological clash returns in full force. The Ryan thing drills that home. Jason sees it as moving on with the goal since they can't help him. Kyle sees it as abandoning an ally to their fate. It's difficult.

(This may tie in with why I'm actually very happy with the lethal force directive in GLC, and I hope it stays around for a while. I'm not saying I want the heroes to kill, necessarily. But it makes yet another contrast to Batman. Batman can't kill. It's such a cornerstone of his ideology. Slippery slope and all that. But the GLC are soldiers and law enforcement. Making the call, taking a life, should never be an easy thing, but they should be able to do it if they have to. And it'll mean more if/when they don't.

And then there should be Internal Affairs type investigations and inquiries when it does happen...that could make for some interesting stories right there.)

Kyle definitely doesn't like the chemistry between Donna and Jason, but it's not possessiveness. He's not staking a claim. When Donna left Kyle and eventually started seeing Roy, he was a bit jealous, but he got along fine with Roy. This isn't "my girl is shacking up with that guy" anger. This is "someone important to me may be getting involved with someone dangerous." He's worried.

That's a completely different situation. If they were dimension hopping with Roy, or Ryan, and Donna started with the vibes with one of them, he'd probably sulk a little. Grumble. Mope. But he wouldn't be hostile. They're not dangerous. Where Jason?

Well, those decapitated heads in a duffle bag seem to support Kyle's attitude.


  • At October 07, 2007 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The part that bugs me about the love triangle isn't the Kyle/Jason leg. It's not being spectacularly well told (like much of Countdown) but I could buy it.

    What I can't buy - and what as a side effect makes the Kyle/Jason leg ring false also - is the Donna/Jason leg. The story hasn't sold me on there being much in the way of chemistry at all between those two, much less a strong mutual attraction. And given that it's Donna Troy and Jason "severed heads in a duffel bag" Todd, that's something that really needs to be sold to the reader.

  • At October 07, 2007 12:10 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Kyle should really listen to Guy. Bats and Lanterns don't mix.

    The one that I'm surprised at, is Donna Troy. Why on earth would she be attracted to Jason Todd of all people? On the other hand, I still can't explain the horror that was Terry Long, so maybe Donna just likes jerks. In which case, Kyle is better off out of it.

    I'll just continue to root quietly for Kyle, and pray for an anvil to fall on Jason.

  • At October 07, 2007 2:49 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    I totally agree that the 'nice guy' loses because he's a total goober. I know this because I am that goober.

  • At October 07, 2007 4:18 PM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    Sally, hasn't TV taught you ANYTHING? XD If a girl spends enuf time around a guy, she'll fall in love with him!

  • At October 07, 2007 4:27 PM, Blogger Jaap said…

    Ami? So untrue?
    If that were true, the phrase "You're more of a brother to me" wouldn't excist.

    And it does. OH IT DOES.

  • At October 07, 2007 6:20 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    I have to agree with Aaron Nowack: The creators involved in the "triangle" have committed the cardinal storytelling sin of telling us about this alleged "chemistry" between Donna and Jason (courtesy of the occasional Kyle internal monologue) but not SHOWING us. From my viewpoint, Donna has shown more chemistry with Kyle and even Ryan than she has with Jason.

    One question: How does Jason's resemblance to Dick Grayson affect things in either direction?

    Another one: Is the "Women only go for jerks" rationalization some guys use any more entitled or bitter than the "Men are intimidated by strong / intelligent women" one used by some women?

  • At October 07, 2007 6:22 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Another one: Is the "Women only go for jerks" rationalization some guys use any more entitled or bitter than the "Men are intimidated by strong / intelligent women" one used by some women?

    Probably not. But as those women aren't asking me out, I've got no real way to judge. :-P

  • At October 08, 2007 1:59 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Notintheface -- It strikes me as if the attraction is all in Jason's head, and Donna's just being nice. Kyle's annoyed because he can tell Jason is coming onto her. Some sexism on Kyle's part (which is in character), entitled jerkiness on Jason's part (also in character), and being nice to someone she has to work with on Donna's part (in character).

    Shame about the Marzinterviews, but that writer has a way of writing things without realizing what he's writing so it might still work out.

    As for the last bit, I've mostly heard that from people advising me not to be strong or intelligent around a guy in case I scared him off, not as an excuse for a guy dumping anyone.

  • At October 08, 2007 3:00 AM, Blogger Spoiler said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At October 08, 2007 3:05 AM, Blogger Spoiler said…

    Ragnell, I'm not sure I agree simply because I've seen nothing that indicates that Jason believes Donna is attracted to him. He clearly finds her appealing, and obviously prefers her company to Kyle's, but that's not saying much when you consider that he also seems to prefer Bob's company to Kyle's. I don't think Jason is imagining anything, I think if it's in anyone's head it's in Kyle's. Jason just strikes me as someone who finds it easier to get along with women than other men, I have yet to see anything that suggests he thinks Donna is into him.

    I mean really, when has he 'come on' to Donna?

    Sorry about the deletion, I'm new to this and have no idea what I'm doing. Yay, I suck.

  • At October 09, 2007 4:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "I think if it's in anyone's head it's in Kyle's. … I have yet to see anything that suggests he thinks Donna is into him."

    It may be in Jason's head, ever since Kyle showed up. Kyle rescues Donna from Belthera and calls her "beautiful". All of a sudden, Jason is all pissed. And what about when Donna rescues Jason from Owlman. He seems to pretend that she cares about him. Yeah right.

    I don't see any chemistry between Donna and Jason, she's somewhat sympathetic but she's not attracted to Jason. Kyle is a bit worried but he shouldn't be.

    There is a rivalry between Jason and Kyle, I don't know if Jason is really attracted to Donna, maybe he just wants to piss Kyle off. For instance, when he says that Kyle should go with Bob, and he should go with Donna, in The Search for Ray P.

    There are strong ties between Kyle and Donna (ex-lovers, still close friends) that Jason can't understand, and it may be insufferable to him. He's all like: "That arrogant ring-slinger, who does he think he is?"

  • At October 11, 2007 11:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "This is Red Hood. His real name is Jason Todd. He used to be Robin."
    This made me cackle; it's exactly the sort of Bat-dickery I'd expect from Batman.

    Thanks for the intriguing post. I got all excited about the prospect of Kyle & Jason in Countdown, but wasn't sure why (other than eyecandy, yum). Now I love the thought of the Bats vs GL angle. That would be extremely exciting, now that Kyle's gone through the Parallax phase and Jason's a smirking, formerly dead ex-Robin. Too bad the Kyle/Jason story is reduced to a high-school jealousy/love triangle over Donna (or forced into one, I'm going to chime in with the no chemistry between Donna and Jason camp). Besides, it's so OBVIOUS Donna's too good for either of them. *sigh* Just another reason for why Countdown's disappointed.

  • At October 12, 2007 12:08 AM, Blogger Mike Haseloff said…

    Oh, Green Lanterns use lethal force now? That's interesting, I didn't know that.


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