Friday, October 13, 2006

For Science!

(Probably some Mild 52 Spoilers if you are afraid of those, as it's not the weekend quite yet.)

Yesterday morning I dropped three handwritten letters in the mail to DC Comics. One asked about those beach bunnies on Oolong Island in 52: Week 23. I wish I'd waited another day to write it though, because I didn't remember the new editor's name. It's Michael Siglain, and they have his first Q&A up at Newsarama. (It also has preview art. Looks like Ambush Bug's still off the Fourth Wall.)

I'm glad I sent the letter though, it didn't occur to Matt Brady to ask who the lady in the bikini coming on to Magnus was. I'm hoping Morrison found a female mad scientist I've never seen before, and she's not one of numerous ways that a mad scientist can get a beautiful woman who's interested in him (androids, cloning, mind control, alternate universes -- I think I came up with a couple more for the letter). I know Dr. Zeul (Giganta) and Mother Juno (The O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern run), but neither of them were there and I can't think of any others. Can anyone else?


  1. There is a new Giganta-esque mad scientist who consumes the Atom over the course of his last two issues.

  2. Rag -- No, that's Giganta. They call her Professor Zeul or Dr Zeul at some point in the drive-in theater scene.

  3. Just out of curiosity, why handwritten letters, given that DC no longer has letters pages? If you're honestly looking for answers, it seems like it might be more prudent to hit up the Geoff Johns board.

    I imagine at least some of them are actual factual mad scientist women. While I can't think of many specifically off the top of my head (besides Zeul, who you mentioned; Barbara Minerva's technically a scientist, and the Ultra-Humanite's been known to break the gender barrier in the past. Oh, and the Winick-created 'assistant' to Scarecrow, whose name escapes me), there are certainly a few between the rogues' galleries of Batman and Wonder Woman.

    And I wouldn't be entirely surprised if a few were of the android persuasion. Men with boundless intellect have a long and varied literary history of creating beautiful automaton women for their pleasure. There's an afterword to Ira Levin's The Stepford Wives (at least, there is in my copy, which is the most recent movie tie-in) which discusses some of the psychology and symbolism behind this. The men of Stepford behave like teenage boys, congregating on their hill to dream up the ultimate fantasy sex-toys, intimidated and bored with women of substance. So they create idealized maid-concubines to fulfill their base desires, rather than considering the prospect of treating women like people.

    These mad scientists, while generally more intelligent and successful than their Stepford brethren, are consumed by the same egotistical arrogance, overreaching pride, and desire for complete control. They already consider themselves superior to all others, but how much of that is overcompensation for a perceived inferiority? How many of these blustering geniuses avoid real relationships because they fear that, as with their battles against superheroes, they will be proven inferior, inadequate, and impotent?

    So, what I'm saying, I guess, is that even if some of these women are androids and whatnot, doesn't that say more about the men who create and associate with them than it does about women in general?

  4. Oh, and the Winick-created 'assistant' to Scarecrow, whose name escapes me

    Doctor Friitawa, aka Fright. Hasn't been seen or mentioned since the storyline she appeared in. Only reason I remember her is because of her conspicuously fake-Japanese name.

    (What is it about Judd Winick and Asian assistants, btw? Scarecrow, Black Mask, Doctor Sivana -- he wrote all of them with an Asian-American assistant.)

    Anyway, the only female mad scientists from the DCU that I can think of are associated with Wonder Woman. Giganta, Doctor Poison, Doctor Cyber, Veronica Cale... that's about all I can come up with off the top of my head.

  5. All those people are building robots? What a narrow definition of a mad scientist. Female mad scientists like Pamela Isley don't build lame bots!

  6. Anon -- Oooh, Pamela. Forgot her. And Thorn was a mad botanist too. To two ladies into regular biology.

    Hmm, that's... interesting. let's get a good list going. Who else do we have? Are there any women in robotics?

    Tom -- I'm a regular on the Geoff Johns message boards. There is no guarantee for answers, trust me.

    A lack of a letter column means you will not get printed, but someone does read every letter sent to DC. Ask the Project Girl-Wonder types. One can be very easily overlooked online. A letter's a much better bet than the message boards.

    Now, for your second point, it's all fun and good to wax philosophical about the motivations of mad scientists who create women they can control but remember the setting of Oolong Island. The best and brightest morally imperfect people that one shadowy figure (Dammit, it's gonna be Egg Freaking Fu, isn't it?) can gather.

    It says a lot about women in the DCU if that shadowy figure didn't find any female minds worth gathering.

  7. Filby -- (Well, we might've found one of Winick's fetishes; or maybe they're all based on the same person -- or both!)

    Anyway, associated with WW, I'd toss Cale because she's a business type. I've forgotten Drs Poison and Cyber.

    Someone else has to have some female mad scientist antagonists.

  8. There's Rampage (Dr. Kitty Faulkner) who was created by John Byrne (I think) for the post-Crisis Superman revamp. I haven't read this week's 52, but Rampage was usually drawn in some kind of torn one-piece bathing suit thingie (mainly because she was kind of a She-Hulk ripoff).

    And, sadly, beyond the Wonder Woman villains above, I can't think of any other female mad scientists. You'd think there would be more of them, wouldn't you?

  9. Or.. on second thought (and I'm allowed to comment spam my own post), it could say a lot about the baddie who's collecting them.

    But really, only if a specific point is made about that shadowy figure being a sexist, and it's not for lack of lady scientists in the DCU.

  10. Or.. on second thought (and I'm allowed to comment spam my own post), it could say a lot about the baddie who's collecting them.

    But really, only if a specific point is made about that shadowy figure being a sexist, and it's not for lack of lady scientists in the DCU.

    Dang, you responded the response I was going to respond. I didn't realize DC made a habit of responding to letters these days; chalk it up to cynicism on my part.

    If indeed this is Egg Fu, and if his clashes with Wonder Woman are in continuity again, then it seems to me that he might have a sexist bent.

    I don't know that I'd consider Kitty Faulkner a mad scientist per se. I suppose she is in the way that Doc Magnus is, in that they're both heroic scientists. I suppose if we're going in that direction, then you could include Dr. Sterling Roquette, Shondra Kinsolving, Karen Beecher (Bumblebee), Tina McGee, and Kimiyo Hoshi. But, if they are indeed trying to collect supervillains, those ladies might have an undesired effect.

  11. Jer -- we might be missing some because they're underused, maybe?

  12. Stormy Knight AKA Phantom Lady has a degree in quantum physics and is a fashion model. And the shiny skin makes her indistinguishable from a fembot.

    She's really a natural for a position here.

  13. Wasn't there a Jurgens villainess called The Bookworm whose power was that she was smart?

    There is also Lex Luthor's ex-wife, The Contessa. Although she and her secret world conquering organization are kinda dead at the moment.

    Also, I think Superboy had one or two female scientists at Cadmus as part of the cast.

  14. There are a few possibilities that come to mind concerning the females on the island.

    The most obvious one is that the writer didn't think it through, and just went with the stereotypical mad scientists. And yeah, with them all being robotics related scientists, it's a safe bet these are all sex toy/LMDs.

    Another possibility is that there are female mad scientists around, and we just haven't met them yet. Maybe they all happened to be a little more dedicated and none were lounging on the beach when Magnus arrived.

    It could just be that most of the mad scientists in the DCU don't have the particular skills needed for this project. Professor Morrow referred to the worlds maddest scientists, but perhaps they are the worlds maddest robotics specialists.

    Another possibility is that we already met several DCU female mad scientists. It doesn't state anywhere that the bikini clad females present aren't themselves mad scientists. Morrow didn't introduce any of them, but at the same time he didn't introduce many males either.

    The attractive female flirting with Magnus could be doing it because there just aren't many good looking men around. Look, that rocket scientist hussy in the white bikini already snached up IQ, professor black bikini just wants to stake her claim before the other women move in.

    It is also possible the discrepancy crept in at the artists end. Perhaps the scenes called for backgrounds of men and women frolicking on the beach and the writer just wasn't expicit about making them look like scientists.

    Of course this is the DCU, (Poison Ivy, Stormy Knight, Kimiyo Hoshi et. al.), maybe there are no old or unattractive female geniuses, just poorly dressed, anatomically incorrect ones.

  15. My theory is that Ira Quimby has been sharing his special suntan lotion with them.

  16. You know, even Winick's Barry Ween had an Asian-American sidekick/romantic interest. (Sara, not Jeremy.)