Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Amendment to the Last Post

Yeah, I know there are comics fans who like Roy Harper. I don't particularly care either way about him, but here's the big thing: Nothing is more infuriating about Young Justice to me than using Roy. It's not because I absolutely hate Roy, or because I'm a fan of Mia (I really don't like Mia at all). It's because all the promos and the plot hints point to the idea that Roy Harper will leave the team and be replaced by a girl.

Roy Harper is the sidekick character who is the most easily replaced by a female character from the outset. There have been two Arrowettes and there is CURRENTLY one female Speedy.

Speedy is not an iconic character. Roy Harper fans are already knee-deep in comics culture. He's no more notable than Aqualad, who was judged unknown enough that they could swap him out for diversity. I actually think it was a good idea to swap out Aqualad, and would have been a better idea to swap out both Speedy and Aqualad.

Instead, because a conscious choice was made to start this cartoon series as a boy's club, we have Roy from the outset. And he is a jerk. And he is going to be replaced down the line, but because of Tradition we need to start out with a boy's club and women are not important enough to bring in at the start.

You know how the Tradition of starting with none or just one female character on teambooks started? Because they didn't think it was important to have women on the team at first. So in the Golden Age it took them 5 issues from the formation of the Justice Society to even have a backup of Wonder Woman. (Red Tornado was in the first issue, but she was laughed at by the boys and didn't formally join.) In the Silver Age, every team started with one girl (Wonder Woman in Justice League, Jean in X-men, Sue in Fantastic 4, Jan in Avengers) and it often took several issues to give her a good part (Okay, Jan was pretty cool from the outset but Wanda took the prize when she came in; poor Sue took forever to get some real cool moments) and years to add a second girl (Polaris was introduced in issue 50, I think, of Uncanny). Young Justice itself, as late as the 90s, took 4 issues to add girls even though it was launched as part of the Grrlfrenzy event.

This is not because it is good, or right, or "organic" for things to start out all-men and then add girls later. This is because the creators made a mistake early on, and acted to correct it later. The Boy's Club was a BAD thing, and they were trying to undo it. NOW we know better. We can start things on the right path. Continuing this silliness and calling it "Tradition" is wrong-headed and totally misses the point of expanding female roles as time went on.

And saying you're trying to lure boys in and "reeducate them" "organically" is bullshit.


  1. I don't disagree with you on this one - both in the macro view and the 'Roy Harper is useless' micro view - but I have a devil's advocate situation for you:

    The pilot for Young Justice features Mia Dearden, Stephanie Brown, Kara Zor-El, Iris West, one of the several and quickly-forgotten iterations of Aquagirl, and introduces M'gann (who is now the only non-white female on the show) at the end for thirty seconds.

  2. How is that a devil's advocate situation? It still sucks, just now because it's all white. Why not use Lorena Marquez as the Aquagirl and emphasize Iris West's Asian heritage? Trade Steph for Cass. You've now got an ethnically diverse all-girl team now.

    And since this is the reverse of the usual all-boy team, it's a subversion and makes it kind of interesting when Kara gets switched out for Kon or Mia for Roy.

  3. Actually, I'm trying to figure out just how it was a devil's advocate situation and not just a 'wouldn't that be a cool team?' one.

  4. Jeff -- I don't think it'd be as cool as one with Cass instead of Steph, the later addition of Jaime, and a guest-stint by Ystina.

  5. I love Ystina so much. Thank you for reminding me that DC needs to do something with her again.

  6. Weisman the producer said they couldn't use either Wonder Girl because of some legal issues early on.

    Let's add something to Jeff's original hypothetical: What if a male blogger complained that the show didn't have any boys at all on the pilot?

  7. Notintheface -- Since this would be an anomaly when the norm is all-boy and majority-boy teams, I'd have very little sympathy. Ultimately my response would be "Imagine that with everything. Welcome to my world."

  8. For the record, I do feel bad starting out the year with such a mean thought. All things being equal I'd be very supportive were the roles reversed, but all things are not equal.