Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The 2006 Mama-Thon Kick-off Post

This Sunday is Mother's Day. Jake got me thinking about it when his commentary turned to real-life motherhood.

I haven't gone in-depth with it on this blog yet, but I have a beef with how motherhood is portrayed in comics. I think it's the nature of comics, the serial storytelling that normally revolves around male heroes, that brought this about. It's just easier to have a fling and a long-lost child show up than to explore a loving, ongoing relationship between two sympathetic characters. The story revolves usually around the male hero, and the mother is often a guest-character, more often a villain. The few female characters who are in the lead rarely get pregnant and have babies (Yes, I've been meaning to check out Catwoman) because no one wants to do the Nine-Month Story Arc. So, as a result we have a deluge of irresponsible and clueles but well-meaning fathers, and outright evil and selfish mothers. I have special problems with the stories that put daughters at odds with their mothers (Jade and Thorn, Cassie Cain and Lady Shiva), but that's a long, involved rant for another day.

Because Mother's Day is supposed to be celebratory, I made a conscious effort to focus on positive portrayals of motherhood in comics at the beginning of the week. A few good mothers came easily to mind - Martha Kent, Queen Hippolyta, May Parker -- and then it stopped. I asked Kalinara for help and we started brainstorming. Sadly, it was so much easier to think of the evil mothers than the good ones. We managed between the two of us to come up with maybe ten ideas for highlighting the best comic book Moms have to offer. What bothered me, though, was that some of those few mothers I simply didn't know enough about to dedicate a long post to, maybe a short note.

So I sat on the idea, for three whole days, and I'm finished sitting on it.

I am committing myself, here and now, to posting once per day about a Good Mom in comics, at least until Mother's Day, and maybe beyond. I can't promise link-worthy posts everytime, but I do promise some content at least. I welcome any of you to join me, if not for the long haul, then maybe just a post or two.

In fact, I'm making it my first Comics Blog Meme. If you want to particpate, if only for one post, leave a note in the comments with the address.

Anyway, without further ado, let the 2006 Comics Blogs Mama-Thon Commence!

The First Mama-Thon Mama

Our first Mamathon Mom hails from the unfortunately named planet Jerome, located somewhere in the back galaxies of the DC Universe, chronicled in the backup stories of old Pre-Crisis Green Lantern issues, filed near the back ends of longboxes, stacked in the back room of a used bookstore that I occasionally frequent. KT21 was an experienced member of the Green Lantern Corps who spent her off hours glassblowing, house-keeping and caring for her young son. She was still waiting on the replacement Green Lantern the Guardians of the Universe had promised when BJ, pictured above, was born. He appears to be four or five years old by human reckoning, and here's poor KT was still waiting on Maternity Leave! See, that's how you know its a work of fiction --1 mean, if you can't trust a secretive cabal of short, balding, old men who've been estranged from their wives for six billion years to safeguard the interests of the women who work for them, who can you trust?

Anyway, sometimes you just can't afford to take time off for the kids, and KT understands this well. This story opens in her studio, where KT sits working on her glass projects while her son plays. His pet eats his last packet of plastiglass, a toy for training kids to grow up to be glassblowers. While she promises to get more, news of a pirate raid at the local mega-sized supercenter type store comes over the radio.

KT suits up and hits the skies in the classic tradition of Green Lanterndom - by which I mean she set on her way without anything even remotely resembling a plan. But KT is smarter than the average superhero, as she realizes this before she runs into the actual villain and decides to sneak quietly into the store. On her way, she is distracted by something colorful on the ground. BJ's toy! The one he was crying about earlier. Her baby still on the brain, she scoops up a couple of packets of plastiglass, knowing this is wrong, but rationalizing that the store would let her keep them if she stopped the pirates. She goes on and confronts the villains, and that's when the Green Lantern Curse hits her up.

No, not that curse (although if she has a husband, he is neither seen nor heard from in this story), I mean the yellow weakness. Not only the yellow weakness itself, but the rule that if you are a Green Lantern who is still suffering from the yellow weakness, any and everything that you are attacked by will be yellow. This curse has recently been replaced by "Man, I run out of power fast lately," curse, but at the time of KT's story it was still in effect.

And, of course, at the time of this story, just about everyone in the Universe was aware that Green Lanterns were weak to the color yellow. Jerome is a planet with a thriving glass-blowing industry. Well, assumedly thriving glass-blowing industry. I don't recall seeing any actual glass but KT seems to make a living, they make a point in training the workers young, and the villains are experienced in glass-blowing techniques.

So, KT gets trapped in a giant yellow bubble, and it looks like the end for her. It's a good thing she had her handy-dandy straw and had stolen borrowed a few plastic bubble-blowing packets. She took out one and blew an inner red lining to her bubblicious prison so that she could use her Lantern energy to bust out, make short work of the criminals and be rewarded with piles and piles of bubble-stuff packets for BJ to play with. All in a day's work for Super-Mom Green Lantern.

From here, she fades into obscurity... Maybe.

I blogged a short time ago about my initial reaction to lnfinite Crisis #7 and the sheer joy I got from seeing so many female Green Lanterns in the GLC crowd shots. I was so overcome with this that it wasn't until my second read-through that I noticed this lady.

Adjusting for Phil Jimenez's art style, could that be KT21 still waiting on her maternity leave?



  1. Hey, great topic! I'd love to see a post about Jessica Jones' baby with Luke Cage. She's not a 1950's stereotype, but as a post-modern heroine, she is still portrayed as a good mother.

  2. R. Greene, I was just about to post that! I haven't read many of the recent issues about Jessica and Luke and their kid, but the small bits I've seen have been absolutely joyful.

  3. I think Ivan Reis drew that, not Phil.

  4. Other non-evil Mamas in comics:

    Ma Hunkel, the Red Tornado, mother of the Tornado Twins.

    Iris Allen (Although she appears more often as Impulse's grandmother than as anyone's mother.)

    The original Black Canary, mother of the current Black Canary.

    Bonnie King, the original Arrowette, who started as the evil mom of Arrowette, but later made the change to non-evil mom.

    Huntress / Tigress: Even though she and her husband, the Sportmaster, are technically evil (being bad guys and all) they somehow managed to form one of the most functional and stable families in comics. Even their daughter, Tigress II, who is a psycho, likes them.

  5. Invisible Woman somehow manages to be an awesome mama, despite Franklin getting kidnapped every other week.

  6. The KT21 story is one of my all-time favorites! She did turn up again for a few panels and a couple of lines in an Englehart story where the Guardians summon all the GLs to Oa. I'd have to look up the precise issue number. All things considered, I'm really really really glad she hasn't made any other appearances over the subsequent years...

  7. That can't be KT: her thumbs are on the insides of her hands, unlike other Jeromians.

    Of course, given Jimenez's other work on the book... maybe...

  8. Off-topic, I love the new banner.

  9. I did mine.

    I didn't end up choosing any of the people I expected. :-)

  10. Queen Hippolyta was a good mother to Diana, but what about poor Nubia? She basically had her mind erased to avoid thinking about her ever again.

  11. I mentioned this in Kalinara's blog, but Rocket, who was Icon's sidekick in the Milestone universe, dealt with teen pregnancy and motherhood, didn't she?

  12. Rocket thought about abortion, and eventually decided not to. Became a single mother, and her support system helped out. (While she was pregnant and for awhile afterwards, someone else took over for her as Rocket.)

    It was worth reading. (All of _Icon_ was.)

    (Hi, I'm a Kate.)

  13. Well, I've thrown my 19 cents into the ring!

    Be amazed!

    Or at least mildly pleased.

  14. R Greene and Kitty -- Could one of you guys handle that? I haven't been reading since before the birth.

    Jeffrey -- It's very likely. I hadn't noticed Reis' name in the credits.

    Batiduende -- I thought of Black Canary and Red Tornado, actually. Can't bring myself to do Bonnie King, though she didn't turn out so bad in the end.

    Vasu -- Hehehe

    RAB -- Good point.

    Chance -- Thanks, Chris Sims made it for me.

    GayProf -- Oh, that was the Blonde Hippolyte. Not Our Hippolyta, who I firmly believe is a reincarnation of the Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman. Our Hippolyta would never do such a thing to her daughter.

    Lis and Kate -- I never read Icon, but I'm starting to wish I had.

    Chris, Kalinara and Calvin -- Great! 3 people I never would have thought of! I'll link them all up on Sunday. :)

    Keep 'em coming, people!

  15. Shoot, I don't think I can take over on the Jessica Jones write-up - I think I've read just about as much as you have. I stopped following Jessica's stories around about Pulse #2 and have been keeping up mostly through friends and Daily Scans. :(

  16. Kitty -- That's okay, we have next year!