Thursday, July 05, 2007

Well, to be fair, he was pretty whiny in Ion too.

Deep in the heart of Oklahoma, Ragnell the Foul stirs in her subterranean lair. She lumbers towards the ancient computer on her desk, turns it on, and goes to make her iced tea the old-fashioned way. When she returns, the computer has booted up, and the wonders of cyberspace await her. She logs on to check the news, and discovers to her delight an interview with Ron Marz about what he plans to do with one of her favorite characters. She reads eagerly, nodding in anticipation of September's comic books when she sees something distasteful. She frowns, rubs the dusty screen with a scaled forearm and squints at the monitor.

Yes, he did indeed just say that.

She sighs and reaches a clawed hand for her set of Wonder Woman stationary. She selects the blue paper with the red envelope, then picks up a green quill. The creature takes a moment to phrase her objection in the clearest yet least offensive manner possible, and then she writes.

Dear Mr. Marz,

I am writing because I found your quote about the nature of the Donna-Jason-Kyle love triangle in the upcoming The Search for Ray Palmer miniseries problematic. You stated:
One of the things we’re going to be doing in this book—is this sort of triangle—between Jason, Kyle, and Donna. Jason Todd and Kyle Rayner are not going get along. I think in a lot of ways Kyle is the good ex-boyfriend and Jason is the somewhat alluring bad boy—and the bad boy and the good ex-boyfriend never ever get along.

I believe your phrasing of this story idea presents a flawed and malecentric view of romantic relationships.

From the viewpoint of a man who has just seen what appeared to him to be a perfect relationship dissolve, the next man may seem to be of such a different personality that the two men are destined to clash even without a woman in the picture. To that end, such a different personality may seem like a "bad boy" to the discarded gentleman. And even though the supposed "bad boy" is not a bad guy at all, the differences combine with the circumstances to create the illusion that a low-down scoundrel (a devil perhaps) has stolen the lady in question (or that the lady in question is a duplicitous, fickle woman who just doesn't appreciate such a nice guy). Indeed, when this sort of thing happens continuously it may seem as though women in general are attracted not only to this particular sort of scoundrel, but to bad men in general.

And surely a good many of the men who have found themselves on the unfortunate end of this sort of event use the written word as a way of working out their tensions. Since romance is one of the oldest sorts of stories, and we have a few centures of ignoring female voices in favor of male voices at our literary backsides, this has probably happened quite a bit with few counterexamples. This would naturally lead to the side of the story belonging to the "Good Guy" (the "Nice Guy") being overrepresented in romantic stories to the point it becomes a cliche, the sort of thing everyone knows and everybody jokes about. And because everybody knows it, and jokes about it, they are quicker to believe it in their own lives when they see a seemingly perfect romance dissolve.

But honestly, if you look at the situation from the point of view of the woman, and not the "Good Guy," you will see that there is usually a very good reason to look for a completely different personality in the next man. More often than not, the apparently "Good ex-boyfriend" was needy, whiny, irresponsible, childish, or held a host of other character flaws that are not readily apparent in the new "bad boy." The "bad boy" has his flaws, but they are rarely the same flaws the woman was rejecting and in my experience the "Bad boy" usually has strengths in the very areas where the "nice guy" was found lacking.

So you can see how your setup for the Jason-Donna-Kyle love triangle perpetuates an already cliched and unfair stereotype that just adds to the pile of cultural crap that allows so-called "nice guys" to avoid taking responsibility for their own flaws, instead blaming women who won't put up with those flaws for being duplicitous and fickle, or blaming other men for "stealing" their girlfriends.

I could understand it perfectly if Donna was ignoring Kyle for Jason because he had been whiny, childish, temperamental, needy, irresponsible, or annoying, but he hasn't exhibited those character traits since your run on Green Lantern ended several years--

At this point, she pauses and twitches her prehensile tail. After a few moments of careful thought, she puts down her quill and places the unfinished letter aside. She replaces it with fresh paper, and starts to write once more.
Dear Mr. Marz,

I will be picking up The Search for Ray Palmer. The love triangle you described in your interview sounds very true to life, and I look forward to reading about it.

Ragnell the Foul
Four Miles Beneath Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Needy, whiney and compulsive? I...I thought you were talking about Nightwing! Of course Donna is no prize pig herself. This is a woman who married Terry Long afterall. *shudder* If Jason starts hitting on her friends, he'll be well-nigh irrisistable!

    And then Kyle can find a nice girl.

  3. I just want Donna to quit calling everyone "Honey."

  4. While I completely agree about the cliché love triangle story, I want to point at that Jason Todd is a jerk even when he isn't compared to anyone else.

  5. Ticknart -- yeah, I think it'd bother me a lot less if the "bad boy" in the scenario wasn't actually an asshole.

    This plot was a lot better with Roy as the new boyfriend.

  6. I just sort of looked at it and sighed. I don't mind Kyle/Donna, but considering who she dumped him for last time, it's clear that Kyle is not actually her type, just the type she thinks should be hers.

    So I tend to think that the sane thing to do would be Kyle shrugging and wandering off.

  7. *nods*

    Kyle can do WAY better.

    Much as I can understand the urge to try and patch things up with a woman after things ended because we both changed (in Donna's case, REALLY changed) into other people and thinking that maybe the new people might be a new "us"... yeah, let's get Kyle to move on to someone else. Anyone else.

    Donna and Jason though... yeah, let them both die to save Kyle. That would make me happy.

  8. Jason Todd beat the living hell out of Tim Drake and left him for dead after infiltrating Titans Tower and knocking out all of Donna's friend there--Donna was there when they found Tim.

    He also murdered a bunch of guys in Gotham, cut off their heads and put the heads in a dufflebag.

    He's not a "bad boy," he's eeeeevilllllllll. I stopped reading Countdown shortly after it became clear that no one seemed the least bit disturbed by the fact that Jason was an evil killer. (That's not why I stopped reading it, but it didn't help).

    Good boy/Bad boy love triangle? Okay, fine, whatever. But Good boy/Evil boy? That really doesn't work so well.

  9. The whole prehensile tail thing will haunt me for the rest of my natural life...

  10. Good boy/Bad boy love triangle? Okay, fine, whatever. But Good boy/Evil boy? That really doesn't work so well.

    Yeah, that would be the other half of it. There's a point when someone's taste is so low that even trying to compete romantically becomes below you. And the whole beat the shit of your friends and nearly killed one of your best friend's brother out of jealousy... that would be about it.

  11. Some thoughts:

    1. Unless Emo-boy Prime punched a wall I don't know about, Donna didn't technically dump Kyle for Roy. She dumped Kyle for some time to herself (dealing with her ex and her son's deaths). Then LATER she hooked up with Roy.

    2. I agree that Roy in the bad-boy role would be be a better fit than Jason. Guy Gardner (even the brain-damaged one) in the bad-boy role would be a better fit than Jason. Those two at least are cool. Jason Todd? I once wrote an entry in Chris Sims' blog saying that I would buy a comic book filled with nothing but different superheroes taking turns kicking Jason in the nards. I now amend that: I would buy a HARDCOVER GRAPHIC NOVEL filled with nothing but different superheroes kicking Jason in the nards.

    4. I can see how women can be annoyed by the "not appreciating nice guys" trope, but considering the plethora of flawed, cliched, unfair, female-centric defense-mechanism stereotypes men get saddled with (like "men are afraid of strong women", "men are afraid of commitment", "men are pigs", and the ever-popular "there are no good men out there"), I'd say your gender is getting off light in this area compared to ours.

  12. See, if they just recharacterize this from the cheesy nice guy versus bad boy dichotomy and just really embrace the possessed whiner versus deceased murderer slant, this could be quite the original love triangle.

  13. Starman -- How is it Kyle has the WORST taste in women imaginable? They use him as the ultimate "Nice Guy" and I'm getting sick of seeing these romantic cliches. I'd say Jade cheating was the last straw here. No wonder all his girlfriends die.

    Honestly, I'm surprised he hasn't actually date a supervillain yet. No, I'm wrong there. Fatality picked him up at a night club.

    Damn. I was joking when I suggested it in an open thread with Marz, but I think Kyle might seriously be better off gay.

    Caleb -- On the bright side, at least Kyle and he aren't going to get along. They won't be not-getting-along for the right reasons (seriously, Kyle should hate him for being a psychopath, not for macking on Donna), but at least they won't be getting along.

    Hale -- What? Its standard monster accessories.

    notintheface -- Actually, check your stuff. She left Kyle and never called back, and was moved to the Titans where she started dating Roy. Donna's memory problems complicate it so it wasn't exactly that, but its a plot that has been done.

    I will agree that men get screwed by the stereotypes, but I'm not going to say our gender gets off light. There's a lot of evil woman stereotypes out there too.

    (and I'd buy that hardcover of Jason being kicked in the nards too.)

    Aero -- Nice idea! :)

  14. I'll address your points in order:

    1. Whoops! When I read your post above, I referenced your "Why I Hate Donna Troy" post in the process, and ended up correcting something you wrote in THAT post (about Donna dumping Kyle FOR Roy) instead of responding to the scenario you described above, which was a better fit for the Kyle-Donna-Roy triangle.

    2. A funny thing happened. I was trying to think of another male-centric stereotype in the category I described and coming up blank, and suddenly the radio station inside my head started playing "Golddigger" by Kanye West. The stranger thing was that Billy Joel's "You May Be Right" immediately followed.

    3. I would DRAW that hardcover of Jason getting kicked in the nards, but my talents don't lie in that direction.

    Kyle's real problem with women is that the ones closest to him end up taking one-way trips to Harp Class.

  15. ragnell - My theory is that Kyle was one of those nice guys who was too scared to talk to girls for fear of being rejected through high school. Most of what we know of Kyle's teen years seems to back that up.

    More than likely Alex was the first one to ask HIM out. She always struck me as being the more aggressive one in the relationship.

    Of course we only have a few issues to go on, but I liked Alex as a character simply because she had the same kind of no-nonsense, low-tolerance for bullshit, tough attitude that Lois Lane has.