Saturday, January 28, 2006

Because of the Meme...

I've seen a 200% increase in traffic since being linked to Dorian's Always Remember meme.

It warms my heart to see so many of you viewing the best Green Lantern has to offer.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Linkblogging (Been saving some of these)

Hmm.. some of these are old, but too good to pass up.

Click Here for More Links

Firstly, if anyone is still here from Jog's place looking for Seven Soldiers insights, I don't have any for Mister Miracle yet. I suggest you check my archives, and then head over to Melchior's. If you are so inclined, the Bulleteer #3 preview is up at PopCultureShock.

The Comic-Blog Legion -- I found out about this last week, but umm.. Well, better late than never. Check it out.

Now, a concept we really need to see more of in comics. I think it could help. Maybe we could petition the Dark Lord.

Some lovely discussion of Frank Miller.

Alan Scott's son comes out. Fans speculate on Alan's reaction.

They've got to be kidding.

I believe this one may be serious, though.

Here's an interesting Legion of Superheroes/Infinite Crisis Theory (Mild Spoilers)

Well, he's wierd but he has a point. Especially in lieu of this and this.

If you are particularly strong of heart -- Click at your own risk.

And last, but never least, the following people have blogged about Green Lantern (I'm not the only one!):

Mogo -- Kalinara

John Stewart -- Jer-El78, GlyphRich, and myself

Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner -- Kalinara, James Schmee, Mallet, Greywing, Chris of the Matter-Eater Blog, and Devon.

Hal Jordan -- Jerry tells us how to draw Hal. Scipio, Dave of the Longbox, and Marionette discuss Hal getting hit on the head. Sleestak tells us about Hal being stupid. Dave of YACB shows us Hal being badass (mind-controlled).
This all leads to the challenge of Zombie Mallet: Be nice to Hal this week. Mallet's got a head start on us, but I'll do you one better. Do an "I Love Hal" post before the end of February, link me to it in the comments, and I'll link all of them by the time Green Lantern #9 comes out, and then crosspost those links on a few Green Lantern message boards. So, give it a try. It'll get you some traffic...

On a lighter note.

More Banners for Dorian

Click Here

Okay, I think it's all out of my system now.

Thank you

Feel Like Vomiting

(Sincerest apologies to Kalinara for stealing this rant idea, but I need to vent)

Well, just learned from Chris Sims about Spider-Man/Black Cat #6.

Turns out that its revealed that Black Cat was raped in college.

Lovely, another one for the list.

Yes, there's more to this.

I first read this sort of thing in a comic in my teenage years, when I bought some back issues that included Wonder Woman #1. I was irritated that it was there and chose to ignore it.

I then encountered it in Watchmen. Found it disturbing, but it served the story.

Same with The Killing Joke.

I didn't really mind it in Green Lantern #109, because I didn't care much for Jade to begin with. I just considered it a lackluster issue and moved on.

I thought Mia in Green Arrow having been a hooker was an interesting past for a potential sidekick, and was more bothered by her blonde hair and blue eyes than her traumatic past.

I didn't think the Engineer in the Authority needed this at all.

I honestly didn't care much about it in Identity Crisis. I mean, it was pretty vile, but it was about the only horror that could explain away the irrational actions of the Justice League.

But when you start putting them all together, you get a freaking bad trend. Nearly every female character has sexual trauma in her past.

Someone needs to sit these writers down and tell them to stop. You're not adding emotional resonance to the story anymore, because this ploy is tired and overused. You are not showing the slightest sensitivity to women's issues, so don't consider yourself enlightened for using such an adult subject. And you are not making the female character any deeper and more compelling with this, at all. If anything, they become more superficial because the issue isn't properly explored.

And it really bugs me that these writers find the only way they can emphasize a female character's strength is by giving her a past sexual trauma to overcome. As though this is the only trial fit for a woman.

I blame the guy who rebooted Wonder Woman (not Perez, the guy before him) for taking the Amazon's positive past and attitude and painting them as manhating isolationists with having been raped as justification for their prejudice. And I heard a rumor once that he'd planned on having Diana fend off a rape attempt within the first few issues but was stopped by editorial. I'm sorry, that's just plain stupid. Every crime prevention briefing I've ever attended has emphasized certain behaviors to avoid being a victim. Your standard rapist would not target a six foot Amazon who carries herself like a Queen. Too intimidating, too risky.

But I digress. However it started, it needs to stop. It's not only cheapening the characters, but the depicted trauma which happens to far too many women everyday.

Knock it off.

Or Else.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I can't stop...

Blame Dorien, and to a lesser extent Kalinara.

(I have at least 10 more saved on my computer.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Okay, One More

"Next time, you give me the paperwork before I get all the way to Oa!"

(Yes, that was Mr. John Stewart in the hooded sweatshirt)

(Check out LiveJournal's Green Lantern art meme)

Alan's Shame

Let's face it, poor Hal Jordan has been put through the ringer by the comic-book blogging community.

He's an irresistable target. An arrogant man who is constantly being hit over the head. How can we not make fun of him?

But, in the interest of fairness, I must bring to light the tendancy of the rest of the Green Lantern Corps to also take beatings over the head.

Click Here for More Head Injuries

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Green Lantern Follies

First, we see that Hal has passed on his tendancies to his respective successors.

So, surely, this clumsiness is only inherent in the human males in the Corps.


Katma and Arisia might disagree.

The Green Lantern Corps is for Equal Opportunity injury after all, I suppose.

But this isn't even the most shocking display of incompetence in this franchise.

Feast your eyes upon the Great Alan Scott, Green Lantern of the Justice Society, 1940-1951.

Here we see where poor Kyle went wrong:

We also get a double-feature in a later issue...

But hey, at least Green Lanterns have never been taken in by their own powers..

Oops, spoke too soon.

Yes, that was Alan Scott being beaten with his own power beam.

I think we've seen enough.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

John "Hal's Got the Paperwork" Stewart

DC has had trouble with John Stewart. They have five Green Lanterns (once again, Jade doesn't count) and each one was slated, after Rebirth, to appear regularly in a book. Hal got Green Lantern, Alan got JSA, Guy and Kyle each had roles in two miniseries, and John would get JLA.

The one year later solicits have revealed a few changes. JLA is being canned. John has only had a marginal role anyway, so its not much of a loss. Kyle's getting an ongoing. Guy's supposed to be headlining Green Lantern Corps when it actually starts (although I find it suspicious that it hasn't been solicited yet). John is only marginally mentioned.

He does, however, appear in the Green Lantern ongoing.

Just not nearly enough.

Yes, there's more to this.

Now, I like John Stewart. I think DC's writers do, also. But it's hard to think of things to do with him that aren't better suited to one of the other three. Hal, Guy, Alan, and Kyle all have distinctive aspects to their personality that just invite certain types of stories. Even the JLU version, when you get down to it, is basically a hard-ass version of Hal Jordan, and attracts the type of stories that in the regular DCU would go to Hal.

A lot of fans might tell you that the problem is that John has no distinctive aspects to his personality.

They would be wrong, of course.

John Stewart was heavily fleshed out in Green Lantern: Mosaic. Outside of Mosaic, I think John's written like a Virgo. Meticulous and detail-oriented, but still able to pull back, see the big picture and adjust accordingly. It's a good surface personality, and fits well into the Mosaic storyline, especially the issue where Hal confronted him. Hal thought his friend was losing his mind, but John was just undergoing such changes that his true self was bubbling to the surface. On the surface, however, John is a Virgo and Virgo isn't really an exciting and sexy sign. Their personality type isn't the kind you see in high adventure, not like a reckless Leo, a tempermental Aries, or a busyminded Gemini. The writers get distracted by these other personalities, and so they follow them and leave John alone.

That's one of the great things about Green Lantern: Rebirth to me. We see the John Stewart of Mosaic again. The mature John who kept his social activism/conscience. And it's not social conscience like Green Arrow. Oliver Queen mainly comes off as a blowhard. John Stewart doesn't simply sound off about the symptoms and the wrongness of the issue. He's an Earth-type, but his mind is a razor-sharp sword, that pierces to the heart of the matter. Even under the influence of Parallax, he's sharp enough to give Batman a verbal beating like he's never had before. And he follows up next issue by physically beating the snot out of the entire JLA (with a little help from Guy). This is the John we lost after Emerald Twilight. Our multifaceted rock. Our grounded philosopher. Our thinking bruiser. Our self-examining, endlessly questioning warrior/poet/social critic. John Stewart, the fully rounded, fully realized, fully effective character was back. If only for one mini-series.

As rich and deep and soulful as John is, he's still left to the wayside.


Is it the Earthly, solid surface to his personality? Does this superficial personality seem to boring in an action story? Does he lend himself better to introspection?
Or is it, as some contend, his race?

Or is it a combination of the the two?

John's motives, values, and personality encourage social activism. Now, this is responsible social activism, mind you, not simply the venting partisan paranoia of some loudmouths we know, but a fully rounded fully realized responsible consideration of the issues. John is no slave to a political ideology, or any foolish consistancy. Nor is he fickle or reactionary. He is a truly radical thinker. He avoids camp mentality. Instead, he's a reasoner who adjusts, learns, and grows. John's social activism works best in a situation that shows both sides of an uncertain conflict. There, he can mediate a blanced solution that involves openness, education and understanding.
To say it short and simple, a good John Stewart story needs to be long and complex.

This leads us to two problems. First, and this may be a shock, John is a black man. That is not a coloring error. This gives us a combination-prejudice problem with his writing. From his story options glares one stunningly obvious theme. This theme was used well at his conception, but after 34 years writers may still find this theme too irresistable not to use, which then leads to a paranoid perception of John-- "He's black, so if we do a racial tolerance story it'll be seen as stereotyping" combines with "He's black, so let's make it a racial tolerance story" to create John's most recent role in Green Lantern, which involves bitching at Hal for joining the USAF, calling Hal at the scene of a car accident, bitching at Hal for the paperwork, and giving Hal a message Superman felt to socially awkward to deliver personally.

I know we all have our personal crusades, and many of us pursue a social cause exclusively. But John is a comic book character. He needs to be flexible and appeal to the widest audience possible from the start, so that he will sell, and develop a large enough fanbase to stick around. And John has loads of potential. We need him to stick around for another Gerard Jones. We don't need him slaughtered in the company crossover.

Secondly, John suffers from the stigma of social commentary. As superhero fans, we don't like it and we don't want to hear about it. I don't believe this is because fanboys are fangirls are necessarily bigoted by nature. Variety is the spice of life, and I've never heard objections to a character being a different gender, color or sexual orientation than is usually seen unless the character has been previously established as otherwise (though, for the record, I could've sworn Kyle was Asian from JLA those first few years, and I know for a fact I'm not the only one who made that mistake, so him not being 100% Irish isn't really a big deal) such as the Starboy reboot (which yielded a really awesome character design). It's more because any social awareness stories are reminders of the crappiness of existence, which we are attempt to escape from by diving into our stories about heroes and villains with absurb powers and motivations. A little reality, yes, is welcome. We want to laugh, so jokes about trying to make the bills and such are wecome. We want our bad guys as bad as bad can be, so a certain degree of grim and grittiness is generally acceptable. We want to empathize with our characters (just not through their helplessness!), so stories of complex motivations, failed romance, and a certain degree of tragedy is also encouraged.

There is, however, a limit.

In general, we don't like to be reminded of the idiocy of the human race as a whole.

We're after superhero stories, not after-school specials. If we want a life lesson, we will look for it. But as it is, if I see a female character I want her beating up bad guys, not wailing endlessly about the double standard. If I see a gay character, and he wants to get married, well, he'd better just move to Massachusetts and get on with it rather than spend a twelve-issue storyline fighting the governor. Again, more butt kicking, less preaching. And if I see a different colored character, I do not want them stopped at the door of the country club while the bad guy gets away. I want them to bust through, beat up the bad guy, and then get thanked.

Part of the problem of "A Very Special Issue" stories is the major let-down at the end. The injustice is too big to just punch away. The hero is usually deeply unsatisfied with the outcome, because it must be realistic (realistic = no hope). In order to lend weight to the issue, a feeling fo helplessness and impotence must be portrayed.

Case in point: Green Lantern: Brother's Keeper.

Kyle Rayner's Assistant Terry Berg (who, up until this point was a cute fun character with a crush on Kyle) is seen on a date with his boyfriend (who is a dead ringer for Kyle, talk about having a type, Terry!). They kiss in front of your standard, faceless, mob of morons. Morons beat the crap out of Terry. Kyle spends half the issue in the hospital waiting room, and the other half beating up the morons (which was not nearly as satisfying as it should have been) and asteroids. Oh, and bitching to Wally and Hal. GLAAD apparently gave Judd Winick some sort of award over this comic.
GLAAD knows shit about comic books.

Many fans still despise this storyline. Mentioning the name Terry Berg will attract much venom on most message boards, as the character is seen as a means to "hijack Green Lantern" for a social agenda. I very much doubt this is a reaction to the social issue itself. It's more the mood of the story. It was depressing and hopeless. The theme was helplessness. Kyle was coming off of an unbelievable power-up. Winick manufactured this situation to drive home the point of pointlessness. Kyle beats the crap out of the perpetrators, but cannot change their views, cannot change what they have done, and ultimately, cannot change the world. He's so insanely powerfuly compared to the featured morons he even feels like a bully for beating them up. The editorial point of the story was to make Kyle hate humanity and want to leave Earth.

It worked. Kyle was so disgusted he up and left that night, and so did many of his fans.

I'm sorry, this sucks.

I don't want to read a superhero story and get this much powerlessness out of it. I have little enough power in reality, I want hope and triumph in my fantasies. Villains so evil as to be inhuman must run away in the end with their tails between their legs. Heroes, even when setback, must retain some measure of control over their lives. Helplessness, injustice, that's fine for the middle of the story. But you don't end it with no progress. The situation needs resolution or resolve. At the end of the stroy, the problem must be solved or the hero must be resolved to solve it at a later date. In addition to doubling the hero's determination for change, some small progress must at least be made. Just one person needs to change their mind for the better.

This is the twofold problem of social commentary stories. The situation cannot be properly resolved, because it is a direct mirror to our society's unsolved problems. The underlying problem is too big to be resolved by a single person, and if it is resolved it is disrespecting the problem as a whole and destroying the faint reflection of reality in the story. Solving the situation that stirs up the underlying problem in a manageable storyline in a way that is satisfactory to the readers and respectful of the difficulty is a delicate line, and one most writers do not have the balance to walk. And they know this. So many of them don't even try.

Witness Wonder Woman. She can never eradicate sexism. There's only one of her. Yet, in the early stories, she seemed unstoppable. No one could resist her reasoning. She used a message of tolerance and understanding (and... hehe.. loving submission) to turn nearly every enemy she made into a friend, even that Nazi baroness! She's suffered badly since Crisis, and I think that's because they kept the "Mission to spread Tolerance" but will never let her win anymore. When writers use her to bring awareness to women's issues (The Once and Future Story), there's a hideous fatalism to the story. You are reading a tragedy. This is Wonder Woman's life mission, and it is doomed to tragedy. Wonder Woman should not be a tragedy, it should be fun and hopeful. She should be something women want to be!

Likewise, John Stewart should be someone fun to be.

He has one of the best concepts in all of comicdom. But due to the combination of being the only fully non-caucasion male Green Lantern flying about and having a history of being used for social commentary (good and bad stuff), he's become difficult to handle. Stewart's most unique strength is his social conscience. He looks at people and power and questions their motives, he looks at his friends and questions their motives, he looks at himself and questions his own motives. He's a character that lends himself to social activism.

But it is hard, in these pessimistic times, to tell a tale of social awareness and instill hope.

Green Lantern: Mosaic managed this. I think it's because the mirror wasn't so direct. I mean, it was firking obvious that they were talking about tolerance, but the messages wasn't hammered into the reader's head. It wasn't simplified, if anything, it was complicated more. Simply because it was damned wierd! Religious tolerence was explored with the Orthodox poulty, homicidal triplets and the displaced Crow Ridge Indian Reservation. Understanding through singing plants, Sex and violence and resurrection, something red, yellow trucks, yuppie copycats and the whole damned mess was about cultural tolerance!

And more than that, Green Lantern: Mosaic was fun. John got to make jokes.

Now that I think of it, Star Trek has the same advantage. By exploring social issues through an alien culture, they maintained just enough closeness to recognize the issue, but had enough of a distance that fans could explore the situation objectively, and engender enough hope that the audience doesn't feel like total defecation when the credits role.

This is the main advantage of all science fiction.

So why the hell are our Superheroes spending so much time in earthly problems they can't solve?

I mean, I think its vital to the story and the message of any social awareness plot that the heroes be allowed to change things for the better. Social commentary set on Earth restricts that change so as not to compromise the "mirror" so much that we can't suspend our disbelief anymore.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Twice the Lumps, Half the Time

For Scipio's collection, from Green Lantern #2, current series.

Now, this image shouldn't count, because it's in mid-battle, right?

Well, here's the thing. In this storyline, Hal gets his butt saved from the indignity below, suffered from a standard manhunter robot. His rescuer is a newer model manhunter robot. Immediately afterwards, Hal gets up to thank the new model, and suffers the indignity shown above.

Within a page of this, guess what happens again.

Welcome Back, Hal

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Now the Meme can die.

I was avoiding joining this particular set of fun images, but someone was left out. When even Linus has participated, I can't let this meme die without one of these guys.

So always remember,

(All of them do!)