Thursday, August 30, 2007

If you realize what I'm talking about, this post contains Spoilers.

I wanted to not be pissed off in my 800th post (I've been going through my archives, I swear my blood pressure wasn't always in the stratosphere whenever I wrote), but Kalinara just can't keep her links to herself and just had to show me something that pissed me off. She showed me a post which had scanned pages from a book that came out today.

The events in the comic book did not piss me of.

The reaction of the fans did.

I know, I know, I've spent most of my time lately yelling at other fans for one reason or another but seriously, there's a lot of people out there who are annoying the shit out of me and some things need to be said about it. So I'm not going to link the post (so I won't be singling out just one idiot) or name the comic (because that will spoil it), but I am going to say some of the mean things that need to be said to keep my sanity.

I talk a lot about narrative clues and artistic clues, but there's another huge method by which writers communicate their intentions to readers, and that is by using tried and true narrative tropes that some people know as "genre rules."

Serialized superhero comic books are a genre, and most readers are intimately acquainted with the narrative clues, artistic clues, and genre rules for superhero comics and they know when a ending is actually the beginning of another huge storyline.

Despite the fact that it may appear that the character's setting is now in ruins from a "permanent" change, certain clues let you know that this is not the case. The situation is one that the writers realize is a state of ruin, the "permanent" change is anything but, and rebuilding the setting will be a future plotline.

One of those clues, ladies and gentlemen, is when in the last three pages of a storyline a major company-wide villain is revealed to have been disguised as the traditionally benevolent power behind the "permanent" change.

This usually means that the person who appeared to be the benevolent power is lying (lying is something supervillains sometimes do) and that the whole damned point really was to fuck up things for the hero but from and in-story standpoint and not from a meta-standpoint. Now the hero has to fix it.

And if I have to tell you this, you either need to read more serialized superhero comics or stop reading them altogether, because you are doing it wrong.

I didn't know there could be a wrong way to read something you enjoy, but if you are getting an impression that is so far from the traditional intent and the narrative mechanics of serialized superhero comics, something is going wrong between you and the page. As a result of this something wrong, you are going to be unable to enjoy these stories as intended because even when the writers blatantly violate these tropes they are still playing off of the expected result to get the effect they need from the reader for the story to work.

That's not to say that based on other factors that the whole thing was not just a crappy story. Its not to say the ending wasn't stupid. Its not to say the twist wasn't stupid. Its not to say its not annoying to read something and get a cliffhanger like that. Its not to say the entire thing wasn't poorly handled, poorly written, poorly drawn, or had some dreadful symbolism. Its not to say you didn't find it contrived or overly complicated. Its not to say that there's nothing to criticize or dislike or that all criticism/dislike of the story is stupid. No, no none of those. "You should be happy about what you just read" is not what I'm saying, that's not it at all.

However, this sort of thing is not called "ruining" or "trampling" a character or a franchise. This sort of thing (for good or bad) is called "Plot."

Next time, we'll discuss how when a hero is placed under mind-control and used as a villain in the kickoff issue of a large crossover it usually means he will be rescued and/or save himself from this state by the final issue, and how it is usually not the ruination of the hero unless the writer is playing on narrative tropes to surprise the audience.

Because that's another one a lot of people seem to be missing.


  1. So what i'm gathering from this post is, there were fans that were outraged because they think Granny Goodness is going to be Athena from now on? Or that the Greek Gods have been taken out of commission forever?

    If so,


  2. I think some of them figure the Amazons are permanently gone from now on. I read at least one post saying that "everything special about Wonder Woman has been raped away from her" -- and yes, the post used the term "raped" repeatedly in reference to this storyline.

    Most people used the term "ruin" and at least one person called Diana "rudderless."

    I was overjoyed to find a post that complained that it was another miniseries cliffhanger leading into a crossover, because that's actually a complaint that understands the story!

  3. C'mon! Wonder Woman vs. Apokolips, that can't be a bad idea.

    I got the impression that the Amazons were reincarnated into ordinary folk, to act as a sort of resource/plot device for a bunch of new female super heroines. It's a convenient origin point; "Oh, how'd she get her super powers? Amazon spirit within her.?

  4. I get that its all a set up for the Die New Gods Die and Final We Really Mean It Crisis. Its still a weak ending. Athena telling all the Amazons they were being tested and that they had all failed? I can accept that as the ending. It would fit. Mindzapping all the Amazons into "normal" people? Fits the concept they're going for. I guess. Even if its already been done with the Martians...

    But that ending? Granny Goodness? Now with Super Magic Powers?


    That was just stupid. That was DC TRYING to not get my money. I seriously am thinking about dropping ALL my DC titles, even the Vertigo ones. I can buy trades from secondary and teritary markets so DC doesn't get my direct money. I am TIRED of this. Tired of Crisises and Character Slaughter and even for super-hero comics, utterly ridiculous plots...

    I'm probably overreacting. But right now I'm burned out on them and don't want to give them money...

  5. And yeah. Its fixable. Wonder Woman/DC/Etc isn't "ruined". But I honestly don't want to give money to encourage DiDio and his current stable of editors and writers anymore. Not even the ones I enjoy like Morrison or Giffen or whoever...

  6. Shows how much people have been thinking about those Countdown "teaser" images. Granny's standing in front of Polly's shield, remember?

    A Newsarama forum-poster called it back on July 2.

  7. Sounds like they were trying to move the Amazons off the board to make Wonder Woman more unique. Am I correct on that?

  8. The Amazons had already been "off the board" since Infinite Crisis, though. AA seemed like it was going to be a "they're back and they're pissed" story.

  9. However, this sort of thing is not called "ruining" or "trampling" a character or a franchise. This sort of thing (for good or bad) is called "Plot."

    Quoted for effin' truth.

    I remember Scans Daily erupting into fury when Guy Gardner was stuck on security detail for a month. Because it was ruining the character.


    And further proof of the anti-JLI conspiracy.

    *cries softly*

  10. It's pretty sad when Wonder Woman fans can make the Green Lantern fanbase look polite and civilized.

    And I say this as a big Wonder Woman fan. Of course, I think I'm one of four people in the entire world who actually has enjoyed AMAZON'S ATTACK and the current run on WONDER WOMAN thus far.

  11. No way, Wonder Woman having been made out of Clayface is canon, I tell you. Canon!

    Also, I don't know why villains don't realize that all they have to do is wipe the word "EMET" from Diana's brow, and she'll be neutralized.

  12. I read the scans of the final issue, and it seems pretty obvious (not to mention heavy-handed) that they're going for precisely the same "defeat the villain who masqueraded as your benevolent power" storyline you described. So yeah, I don't understand the woe that WW is ruined forevar and evar.

    But I can understand some of the reactions I've seen that *do* consider this "ruining" or "trampling," in the sense that Diana and the Amazons were manipulated and defeated by a really contrived plot. Not only was that disrespectful of the creative team in a meta sense - within canon it makes the Amazons seem weak and kind of dumb, and that definitely does damage to the franchise.

    Then again, what I know of AA is only what I've read in summaries and scans. So if, within the story itself, Diana and her sisters come off as strong and intelligent, that would change my opinion.

  13. It is going to make things difficult for the next few months, though, which is problematic because that's when Gail Simone is taking over WONDER WOMAN, and you don't want to see someone like her forced to work with something like this.

  14. Gail's coming on board. Dini's a show-runner. Harley's involved. People are aware of these three facts and still have the impression this is going to suck?

    But I guess I'm still a little high on hope after that self-esteem seminar.

  15. Well, not knowing the specific complaints you're complaining about, it's hard to say, but can't Wonder Woman be ruined and trampled by this storyline simply because it was so, so, so, so, SO bad?

    The story's "permanent" in the sense that it happened, right? So unless FINAL CRISIS re-re-boots or re-deboots or de-re-reboots or whatever Wonder Woman history, there's this big stupid event that doesn't make any sense wedged in her stupid history which doens't make any sense (due to it's stupidity) which will have to be not-ignored from now on.

    As was mentioned above, the Amazons were already off the board. Then they were brought back, to be put off the board again? Or something?

    I didn't really understand what the point of AMAZONS ATTACK was at all, other than to a) make every hero in the DCU seem like an idiot (Superman—and any one of a half dozen others—could have solved the whole thing in two friggin' seconds) and b) redundantly point out that Granny Goodness is recuriting female furies on earth in the guise of Athena, which is already being teased out in Countdown (and none too subtly, as that's been a popular theory on the goings on there for months).

  16. Okay, I may have posted a comment already, but eithier I posted it somewhere else by accident (eep!), you removed it, or I have been banned from you blog. (Please don't ban me!)

    The comment though, was basically a vengenful rant about how much I despised Amazons Attack. It's probably for the best that it wasn't posted, though I will say that if Wonder Woman hasn't been ruined, CIRCE has been. At least, she won't be seen for a while after this plotline.

    Anywho,as someone who disagrees with you Ragnell, let me ask you a hypothetical question: say that DC decided to do a crossover event where John Stewart got captured by planet Earth because he works for aliens, and Krona brings back Katma Tui who leads almost the entire Green Lantern Corps to basically attack Earth and cause massive damage. The corpsmen themselves are completly out of character, not to metion working with Krona, and when John is freed and goes to the Guardians, they rebuff him completly before teleporting him back to earth. Hal, Kyle and Guy basically question Katma, but then follow her orders. The Green Lantern Corpse then commits terrorist actions on human beings, before joining with the main group, and revealing that Miss Martian was a deep cover agent, but they use her for their own benefit. It seems like the Corps are all being mind-controlled, but in fact, the plot explicitly says they aren't, although Krona rants he put a piece of himself inside Katma when he revived her. Ganthet then come down and yell at everyone for causing the conflict, before mindwiping all the Green Lanterns and teleporting them back to their home planets, except for Katma and John. At the end, we see the real Guardians all captured, and that the Ganthet we saw was actually Nereon, which fits well into the upcoming "Death of Hell" miniseries.

    How would you react?

  17. Also, the whole "make all the Amazons forget their real identities and live their lives as thinking they're normal humans" bit?

    Didn't Morrison already do that with the White Martians back in JLA#4?

    Does that mean in the future Diana is going to send the Amazons into the Phantom Zone, and then later go apeshit crazy and kill them?

  18. Universalperson, I can't speak for Ragnell, but as a fellow Katma fan, I'd be thrilled.

    Because a) beginning of a new story, involving John, ultimately, undoubtedly freeing the Guardians, saving Katma (who is now ALIVE).

    And doing it all under a good writer. (Who says a lot of this doesn't play into Gail Simone's upcoming plans? Or Grant Morrison's Final Crisis plans)

    In this case, you seem to be forgetting that Ragnell is as much a WW fan as she is a GL fan. And as someone who loved Hippolyta like mad, I'm THRILLED.

    This is the BEGINNING of the story. Yeesh. I'm not saying you can't think it's cliched or poorly written, but declaring it the ruination of characters as some have...

    Well, I start to wonder how much of the concept of "serial storytelling" is actually understood. Stories don't END. They just start new plotlines. Yeesh.

  19. caleb-

    You don't need a crossover reboot to take things out of continuity. That's just a concrete, heavy handed way of doing it.

    More often than not, stupid things are just ignored by every writer to come until it is forgotten about, or written off in one line of dialogue.

    For example, Leslie Thompkins being a child murderer wasn't even mentioned in the "History of the DC Universe" backup when they mentioned Stephanie's death.

    So, it's not particularly damaging. Writers & readers will just choose not to pay it any attention.

  20. Dora -- They weren't, but honestly Hippolyta didn't come off any worse than she did in Messner-Loebs' run, and the Amazons in Jimenez's run, and they all survived that perfectly fine. Hell, Pfieffer's Polly has one up on WML's Polly because at least in this storyline she was acting out of character (honestly, WML had her complicit in Hercules' rape of the entire Amazon nation, and he had her set up a girl to get murdered in Diana's place and there wasn't any mind control or shard of Circe's soul to explain it).

    So, shitty yes. Disrespectful to female characters? Sure. The ruination of Diana? Hardly.
    And no, this is not the worst

  21. I just remember a time when mini-series used to have definite endings, even if they ultimately led back into another book.

    The best example was the Claremont/Miller Wolverine mini in the 80s, which brought Logan to a new level of self-awareness and was instantly put to the test in the following issue of X-Men.

    Complete stories, yet there are still plot threads that lead into future stories - not lame-ass cliff-hangers that lead into further mini-series that lead into further mini-series.

    That's just annoying, and a pretty big gyp in my book.

    Oh, and WW is NOT ruined. If Marvel can't bury Spider-Man with the Clone Saga, Sins Past and The Other, Diana should survive Amazons Attack quite nicely.

    Then again, I'm probably the only one out there who prefers the Kanigher Wonder Woman to the post-Crisis version.


  22. Am I the only one who just didn't understand what was going on?

    If Athena wasn't really Athena, then why did she have Athenians powers? Why was she hanging out in an abandoned Thymiscera? Why did she send Diana back with the antidote? And how did she do it without going "BOOM!!!"?

    I mean, my favorite part of AA was definitely Everyman and Nemesis both impersonating Sgt. Steel, with everyone else trying to figure out who was the "real" Steel. But it worked because neither of them "really" had Steel's powers. GG's impersonation was just too good to make a good surprise ending.

    On the topic at hand, I agree with "I'm not saying you can't think it's cliched or poorly written, but declaring it the ruination of characters as some have . . "

    I just agree with the "cliched and poorly written" part more.

  23. Kalinara,

    Well, miniseries do end, and this one did.

    Ideally comic book stories do end, while opening up more story possibilities. Creators just never getting around to finishing a story so as not to have to think of a new one is pretty poor writing, isn't it?

  24. Anon.,

    Good point. Writer Jeff Parker touched on that recently when talking about the difference between continuity and canon.

    If no one mentions Leslie Thompkins for a few years, and no one speaks of the events featuring her again, the story likely will go away.

    I think AA will be sort of difficult for future writers to ignore and future readers to collectively force from their memories though, based simply on it's scale. Not simply the page count or numer of tie-ins, but just that it dealt with the relationship between the Amazons and Man's World (how often does it shift, over the decades? Twice>) and that it dealt with ALL of the Amazons. Like, it wasn't just a bad Wonder Woman story, it was a bad Wonder Woman story about all the Amazons and their place in the DCU.

    (Of course, DC has willed ECLIPSO: THE DARKNESS WITHIN and that version of Eclipso out of continuity, and it's page count dwarfed that of AA, since it was in a mini, every single DCU comics' annual, and a short-lived ongoing. So who knows).

  25. Ragnell: Point taken. I've pretty much only read good WW so far, namely Rucka's and Perez's runs, so I've been spared seeing some of the crappy storylines inflicted upon the title.

    (This knowledge, ironically, just gives me more respect for the character of Diana. If not the creative staff at DC.)

    I'm still (like you, it seems) convinced that AA is pretty piss-poor storytelling, but I guess it isn't anything new in that sense.

  26. Jeff Parker on Wonder Woman. Hmmmm...

    Maybe if Gail's on vacation... or maybe he can do a six-page backup story...or a Christmas story...or...something.

  27. Dora -- Yeah, still a study in sexism and antifeminism, but its not The End.

    It actually restores three elements that were absent until the miniseries, they just need a story where Diana rescues the gods and removes the mind-control from her mother and the Amazons.

  28. It's true. Nothing is permanent in comics.
    I thought the ending to Amazons Attack was pretty awesome. It changed my whole perspective of the whole run. I was sort of mad I'd bought the thing, but then I got there and I was like: nope, not mad. Pretty cool. It especially made all of "Athena's" self-righteousness toward the end, toward the big heroes, pretty awesome.

  29. P.S. To questions about how she could pull the thing off... Granny Goodness can fake being Athena because she's also a god, and presumably has all the machinations of Apocalypse at her back.

  30. Anyone who seriously believes that this ruins Wonder Woman needs to be locked in a room with the Wonder Woman Showcase.

    The problem with the ending for me was that Granny Goodness has never been shown with that level of power, and never shown with that level of subtlety. I could see Darkseid rearranging the life histories of people to suit some great and subtle plan, but Granny is more the sort of person who would just hit them.

    My best guess is that it's somebody else pretending to be Granny...