Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sword of the Atom #1 (September, 1983)

Your eyes do not deceive you-- two text heavy posts in one week! I'm trying people, really. I also reckon that if you were a fan of the old Tiny Titan blog, you're like "Dude, Damian covered these books already! Aren't there other Atom comics out there that need the love?" To those, I say, "Dudes, the original Sword of the Atom mini-series was such sweet action, I've got to love it two times before I go away!" My game plan is to do story synopsizes in three eras-- the earliest Silver Age stuff, modern books starting with Identity Crisis, and '80s work starting right here. Also, Damian didn't make it past these first four issues to the three specials that followed, so it makes sense to offer this reminder/primer. Besides, I'll be doing more opinions and observations here. For a detailed look, go read Sword of the Atom - Book One: Stormy Passage.

The Atom was another solid seller for editor Julius Schwartz's line of Silver Age reinventions of Golden Age characters, lasting throughout the 1960s, with a bit of help in the last seven issues from incoming co-star Hawkman. Not to diminish the inherent appeal of the World's Smallest Super-Hero, but the Atom was likely selling respectably in the 200K realm due to the artistry of the great Gil Kane. Hawkman was faring less well on his own, and once their combined book began to be drawn by the agreeable Dick Dillin, it wasn't long for this world. The Atom spent the 1970s in the occasional back-up strip, and as a member of the Justice League of America, whose book hosted his wedding to Jean Loring in 1978. Meanwhile, Gil Kane spent the '70s at Marvel Comics, before joining the exodus of creators to DC after the former company appointed the unpopular Jim Shooter its Editor-In-Chief.

Gil Kane loved sword & sorcery tales, and had spent a good many of his Marvel years drawing Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian. Happy to reunite with a character he co-created and likely reticent to give up his favored fantasy setting, Kane suggested new life could be injected into the Atom by radically changing his milieu. Jan Strnad of Heavy Metal fame provided the script, and Sword of the Atom was born.

The book started with two gorgeous splash pages, one previewing the action to come, and another laying down the basics of the Atom's story. The book then cuts immediately to a troubled Ray Palmer and his marital strife as he catches his bride making out in a car with her law office partner Paul Hoben. Two things established in the very first Atom story were that Jean Loring was highly intelligent, and that she was a total bitch, with Ray wrapped around her finger. Unlike the mature heroic couples that helped define Julie Schwartz's other titles, this pair remained unmarried for nearly twenty years, and Jean was more a ball-breaker than a loving partner. In real time, the pair were only married for five years, which given Atom's then-decades long career being better than halved per the story, meant they were still practically (doomed) newlyweds. Once Ray deduces Jean had been carefully planning her affair for half a year, you just know he deserves better than this scheming Veronica Lodge/Lucy van Pelt.

Even though the Atom made and consistently buoyed Jean Loring's (she never took the Palmer name) law career, she threw in Ray's face his using the profits for one of her cases to buy a portable scintillation detector. I don't know what that is, but Ray used it to track a white dwarf fragment to Brazil on a research expedition/holiday from the harridan. Unfortunately, Ray ran afoul of drug dealers, and ended up lost in the Amazon, his malfunctioning size-altering belt trapping him at just six inches. Braving the hazards of the jungle, the Atom ends up surrendering to a troop of similarly pint-sized, yellow-skinned savages. Ray is escorted to the city of Morlaidh, and after rising to the defense of fellow captive and rebel leader Taren, is also sentenced to death at the teeth of a swarm of rats. While this is going on, Jean Loring is informed by Brazilian authorities that all evidence points to her husband's death,

Besides looking absolutely fantastic, the opening chapter of this story moves at an exciting pace. The proceedings don't feel rushed, as all the necessary time is taken to explore this turning point in Ray Palmer's life, but the action never lingers too long. Shrinking heroes are usually scientists, and by extension often dismissed as boring cerebral types by readers. Despite the soap opera, the opening of  Sword of the Atom is fast-paced and visceral, drawing readers deep into what would prove to be an unrelenting epic.


LissBirds said...

Didn't you just love the visual throwback to this with Ray becoming a member of the Indigo Tribe? When I saw him in his new duds I think I squealed a little. Atom's a tribal guy again!

Well played, Mr. Johns, well played.

Avi Green said...

Mister, I may be getting some things wrong here about your take on Sword of the Atom, but it seems to me you're taking some things out of context, and possibly even criticizing the characters instead of the writers. There are some things here I feel I need to argue on, starting with this:

"Two things established in the very first Atom story were that Jean Loring was highly intelligent, and that she was a total bitch, with Ray wrapped around her finger. Unlike the mature heroic couples that helped define Julie Schwartz's other titles, this pair remained unmarried for nearly twenty years, and Jean was more a ball-breaker than a loving partner."

Dude, I may not have read every Atom story from the first several years, but I did read some of the 1961 debut story, and Jean was far from what you're implying she was. She was depicted with manners, if anything, and she was being depicted as a woman who wanted to decide the time to marriage upon her terms, which was an allusion to the times when some men wanted women to quit their jobs when they married. Does this mean my mother was wrong to remain firm in her wish to maintain a job when she first married my father? Does this also sum up what you think of Mary Jane Watson?

"Once Ray deduces Jean had been carefully planning her affair for half a year, you just know he deserves better than this scheming Veronica Lodge/Lucy van Pelt."

Are you sure you're reading the same book? I own the trade paperback of Sword of the Atom, and even did a review of it on my blog, and from what's shown there, it strongly signals that Paul Hoben drew her into the affair. I'm not excusing Jean's willingness to participate, but to say that she literally planned this herself is distorting things and like diverting the blame from Tiger Woods entirely to his partners. And if you read the first SOTA special from 1984, Jean admitted in the bio-book Ray himself permitted Norman Brawler to write that she'd been just as bad. She even risked her career in law to be honest that she'd done wrong. How can you take that out of context?

If I've gotten anything mistaken here, I'm sorry, but it appears to me you're getting things seriously mistaken, and worse, I get the grave feeling you're condoning Dan DiDio and company's actions at the expense of the writers who came before, and even risking criticizing the characters instead of the writing.

Also, I think your claim that Jim Shooter was unpopular is exaggerated at best. I know there were some things he did that were foolish when he was Marvel's EIC, but I don't think everything was that bad during his decade there.

As a fan of the Atom, I was devastated by the character assassination that even Jean Loring was victimized by since those 6 years ago, and it's a shame if you're accepting it without opposition. I once made the mistake of criticizing the characters instead of writers years ago. I will never do it again. If I could become a writer, the Atom is among several minor characters in the DCU I'd like to take the challenge of writing, including Jean Loring, and to humanize them. Not destroy them like Identity Crisis did.

Diabolu Frank said...

Goodness, Avi! I like my commentators feisty!

"Jean was far from what you're implying she was"

Honestly, it's just my opinion, but I'll defend it. I gave a more detailed account here, but when the first thing you ever do is turn down a marriage proposal and point out your boyfriend's professional failures, you're kind of an awful human being. As for "settling down," Ray did nothing but support Jean's career, and if anything pursued her because he knew how driven she was. The only person setting unfavorable terms and issuing ultimatums was Jean.

As for projecting my opinion of Jean onto other female characters, you're barking up the wrong tree. As I noted, I'm a fan of the Julie Schwartz married couples, and prefer Hawkwoman and Sue Dibney (not to mention Carol Ferris) to their male counterparts. Even in my own life, my girlfriend is the degreed-up professional, and I'm the jerk just starting back to school. Accomplished women aren't my problem-- Jean Loring is.

Speaking of school, I have to run to class. I'll finish replying in a few hours...

LissBirds said...

Meh. I'll join the fray for the heck of it.

Now I haven't read too many Atom stories, and I can't remember when I started calling him a favorite of mine, but I did re-read the first story just now. (And have read Identity Crisis.)

I don't get the "bitch" vibe from Jean at all in the Atom's very first story. The whole "proposal number 57" thing I thought was just playful banter--he knew she wasn't going to say "yes," and Ray wants Jean to succeed just as much as she wants him to be a successful scientist. To me it just seems like two people supporting each other in their careers. I thought her observation about his experiments was just curiosity about her fiance's work, not pointing out a failure. It would've really been cold not to show any interest whatsoever or dismiss his experiments as silly or whatever. Maybe she was even offering sympathy. "Didn't work, huh? That sucks."

And Jean's got to be tough becuase she is, well, a lawyer. (Cue the lawyer stereotypes...)

Jean's wanting to win that big case isn't all that different from Rosalind Russell wanting to write that big article in His Girl Friday, a movie which also offered two choices for the female protagonist: career or marriage. (Except that in this case, it's the opposite: she's trying to get away from her career and start a family.)

Though I wasn't alive then, I'm 87% sure that even in the early 60's many (but not all) women had to choose between career or family--most family-oriented women of that era probably would've considered balancing a career with kids to be neglectful of their children, and many husbands expected them to tend to the house. This isn't to say that lots of women didn't work--my grandmother and great aunts worked in sweatshops to support their families--but manual labor is different than choosing a career in a "man's" profession. And sometimes, women wind up having to be over-assertive to get respect from the old boy's network. I mean, I've even seen that kind of behavior in the last ten years from several academic departments in college--from physics to philosophy, both traditionally men's professions. Though I know you don't mean it that way, calling a driven, assertive woman a "bitch," as I've seen way too many times, is a misapplication of the term. I don't think a woman deserves to be called a bitch unless she's really cruel, mean, and heartless for no reason, both to men and women, and I don't see Jean that way. From what I've read, Ray doesn't seem too broken up about her turning him down, and indeed, the case could even be made for his being sexist by wanting to manufacture fake success for his bride-to-be so she can retire from her career and accept his proposal. Imagine how mad she'd be if she found out she didn't make it on her own steam...(I didn't read that far to see if that ever happens. I know I wouldn't be happy if success wasn't my own.) I mean, if anyone is scheming in this relationship, it's him.

Part of the issue may be that since Ray's a passive guy, it makes Jean seem bossy. Okay, she might wear the pants, but so what? As long as he's okay with it, no harm done. I know several men who would rather sit back and let their wives run the show, including some in my own family.

Later on, okay, maybe she was bitchy. I haven't read any of her Bronze Age appearances so I don't know. In Identity Crisis she wasn't bitchy, just plain nuts and poorly-characterized.

Diabolu Frank said...

Ack! I disappear for a few hours, and my arguments expand! You're like rabbits!

Liss, speaking as a guy who has dated his share of Jean Lorings, I've got an ear for passive aggression. The proposal talk was defensive banter on Ray's part, and an artificial barrier on Jean's part to maintain her control of the relationship. Then she knocks his self-confidence to keep him jumping through her hoops. There isn't an ounce of sympathy in a line as pointed as "Still no luck with your experiments, I see!" She's merely affirming her confidence that Ray continues to fail to live up to her standards. Ray's thought balloon confirms the effectiveness of Jean's technique. She's got all the hand.

Back to the barefoot & pregnant debate-- I'm a big Billy Wilder fan. Two professional, progressive people could get together in 1961 and work out their own terms. Shiera Hall‎ and Dinah Lance weren't stuck at home darning the little ones' socks, after all, and there's no indication Ray would want Jean to. Therefore, Jean's just using her career as an excuse to avoid commitment, probably so she can better deal Ray if the opportunity presents itself. Jean has to make a choice, but it isn't the law or the hearth-- it's whether Ray's really good enough for her, and how long she can string him along before deciding. I'm pretty sure a lawyer could afford a nanny if that were really the issue. My great grandmother was running her own business and raising a family in the 1930s, while my grandmother was a single parent in the 1960s. Jean should be able to swing it, right?

So basically, what I'm saying is that Ray's breaking his back to prove his worth to Jean, not as her babydaddy & meal ticket, but just as an equal partner worthy of her devotion. That's why it took so long for them to marry, why they busted up so quickly, why both parties immediately jumped on the first alternative mate they could find, why they were childless, and why it took Jean years after the divorce to sign over her half of Ray's patents. Jean is evil, and everything she wants, and everything shes sees, is out of reach; not good enough. Ray don't know what the hell she wants from him.. It's because Ray may not be dumb, but he's kind of a dweeb-- just a sucker with no self esteem.

Just look at the second story from Jean and Ray's first appearance. Loring is so incompetent in her "genie defense" that she pretty much guaranteed a mistrial or speedy appeal in her first ever case, and has to have an acquittal handed to her on a silver platter. Does she cry sexism over a man going behind her back to save her tail? Does she sob tears of gratitude? No-- she proceeds to take 99% of the credit and see the win as a feather in her cap. It isn't the means with Jean, just the ends.

Plus, by your definition of bitch, Jean's a dead ringer. "Mean" would be the least of the descriptors Ralph and Sue would hurl her way. Evil, manipulative, condescending, callous, demanding, and psychotic come to mind.

Diabolu Frank said...

Avi, I'm rereading SOTA for the first time in better than a decade as I write the summaries. Perhaps I should have used the word "hypothesized" instead of "deduced" with regard to Ray's accusations, but I won't know for sure until I reach a point where Jean contests the assertion. I'm up to the second issue, so maybe it's upcoming, but I don't remember that happening in my previous reading.

If Paul Hoben's part in the estrangement expands, I'll write such. My recollection of Paul was that he was a bit of a dope and whole lot of a dupe. Jean jerked Paul around to get her way, and Paul was always trying and hopelessly failing to compete with Ray/appease Jean. That was more in Power of the Atom, though.

For the record, I loath most everything Dan Didio's had a hand in. I thought Identity Crisis was reasonably well executed, but morally repugnant. So many DC characters have been mishandled in the last decade, I've lost my faith and my interest in most of the company's output. Just today, those scumbags killed another child to justify the radical revision of an existing super-hero. It's nauseating. I run a Martian Manhunter blog, and was surprisingly calm about his death a few years ago, because I knew that at least that was one favorite character who wouldn't have his reputation smeared anymore. His likely return is bittersweet, because I will have to start worrying about his handling again.

As all that relates to Jean Loring, well, I can't forget she was a murderess any more than I can forgive Hal Jordan. In Jean's case though, there was already a body of evidence to support her being horrible. Killing just took her that much further into the black. There are plenty of instances where I'd like to see the clock turned back and characters "fixed," but Jean isn't to my mind worthy of that effort.

I personally adore Jim Shooter as a writer and editor. His rein at Marvel saw that company's finest and most consistent output, while the drop in quality after his ouster from Valiant is readily apparent. The fact remains that the majority of comics professionals who worked with Shooter hated him, and that there was a mass exodus of Marvel talent to DC in the late 70s-early 80s, with countless interviews verifying that it was directly related to Shooter. All you have to do is Google "Jim Shooter." Big Jim acknowledges his own bad reputation, and bemoans how to this day he's struggles just to get writing work without politics getting in the way. Didio took serious in-house heat for Jim's too brief run on Legion of Super-Heroes, while Jim's current boss, Mike Richardson, is shielded by being outside the big two (not to mention that Dark Horse is his company.)

LissBirds said...

Meh. I'm really not getting that vibe from Jean in the first issue. Maybe later she gets worse (looking at the stuff Scipio posted about her, it looks like she goes insane.) I like to take comics (and fiction, and movies) at face value and I don't like to read into things too much, and do not like to attribute intentions to writers unless it's absolutely clear to me. (You know I like stories where characters' motives are insanely, glaringly obvious.) Or maybe I took one too many literature courses where literary criticism and all of the (occasionally ridiculous) assumptions it heaps upon stories places the emphasis on what the reader believes rather than what the writer intended...it left such a bad taste in my mouth I got into the habit of refusing to look deeper than the surface when I read anything.

I guess Jean Loring is just an inkblot where each of us sees what we happen to see. Lots of people believe Jean Loring is a total bitch, and contrarian that I am, I like to belive the opposite and perhaps make a case for the defense.

About hiring a nanny...well, I'm sure regular folks did that, and in the case of my family, they occasionally had to bring the kids to work, and later on, the kids helped out at work. But the "ideal" woman of the late 50's early 60's, as portrayed in TV and fiction (comics being no exception, I guess) was supposed to want to stay home with her kids, and leaving them home with a babysitter would be out of the question. I don't think that was an option for the writers because portraying a career woman with kids would've been too socially progressive.

There's so much going on in the Ray/Jean dynamic that I haven't fully come to a conclusion yet and bears further investigation. But I refuse to jump on the "Jean Loring is a crazy bitch" bandwagon because it's almost become a cliche, and cliches just irritate me. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't, but I've got some reading to do before I make up my mind one way or another.

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, surface reading isn't such a bad thing. I've always had a problem with taking too much in my life at face value, and as I age, I'm making a point of applying more critical thinking. I finished rereading the SOTA mini-series today, and I assure you, Jean gets worse in that specific context, as I will elaborate.

I'm looking forward to exploring Jean further myself. I'm actually trying to keep an open mind, but when the first thing I read is Jean being so nasty through mannered posturing, it's hard not to see where the popular hatred comes from.

LissBirds said...

If anything, having Jean around only makes Ray a more popular and sympathetic character, I think. He's kind of like the Walter Middy of comics. In fact that analogy fits pretty well if you think about it...

And now I have to go off and read some Silver Age Flash comics to see if Iris West was a shrew like Scipio said she was. If she was, then it's going to kill my Silver Age high, because I'm running out of Silver Age women to root for. So far all I've got left is Diane Meade.

Diabolu Frank said...

Oh, tish tosh. What about Lois Lane, Carol Ferris, Mera, Sue Dibny, Black Canary and especially Hawkgirl? I'm excluding Wonder Woman because of all those horrible years under Kanigher, but there's still Sekowsky's Diana Prince on the tail end of the Silver Age to consider.

Avi Green said...

As all that relates to Jean Loring, well, I can't forget she was a murderess any more than I can forgive Hal Jordan.

I tried to find some credible points in what you said.

However, with the above, you have just pushed the button that has turned me away from giving any credence to your argument. Now, it's clearer to me than ever that you are condemning the characters instead of criticizing the writers. Excuse me? Since when was it Hal's fault and not the writers and editors for that disaster that was Zero Hour? This is exactly the reason why mainstream comics became ghettoized to begin with, because you not only consider it fait accompli, you practically uphold it to the sick end.

In Jean's case though, there was already a body of evidence to support her being horrible. Killing just took her that much further into the black. There are plenty of instances where I'd like to see the clock turned back and characters "fixed," but Jean isn't to my mind worthy of that effort.

And I suppose Rifqa Bary isn't worthy either because she dared convert from Islam to Christianity? How about that, just make one mistake in writing, and even a fictional character's blood becomes haram. Whether or not what you say is true, that is still the fault of the writers and not the characters. I suppose that means that if Iris West Allen, Mary Jane Watson, and even Enrichetta Negrini were gal-pals of Ray's, and written in the same fashion you imply, you'd go to such lengths to condone everything done to Jean, no matter what the cost? What this tells is that if I were a writer and wanted to depict her apologizing for any mistakes she made, you'd probably reject my efforts because you cannot distinguish fiction from reality, or because she's a female, and therefore not worthy of the priveleges given to males like Rick Jones and Wolverine, or even Gambit.

I feel embarrassed to have ever said anything here to begin with, and would rather not say more, but I will leave you with something to think about: if Jean were black, Asian or Latina, or Identity Crisis featured someone calling her a "filthy white cracker" would you have stood for the demonization they gave her there? Think on that, I recommend.

LissBirds said...

Lois Lane is okay from the little Silver Age appearances I've read. Though sometimes she made Superman jump through hoops, it seemed.

Sadly I haven't gotten around to reading any Silver Age stories featuring all the other ladies you mentioned. (Except Carol Ferris.) I'm really interested to see Hawkgirl's early appearances. My Things To Read Pile is bigger than the entire graphic novel collection at my local library...

I'm also wondering who Jean Loring was designed after (if anyone.) Every time I flip through Showcase she just screams "Jackie O." Pillbox hat, short hair, pearls.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'll be back later: lots of commenting to consider...

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, Lois was nuts in the Silver Age, but with a sadist like Superman as your object of desire, who wouldn't be? Lois carried her own, and you've got to respect that. Plus, Superman and Lois make life so difficult, they deserve each other. No one else could keep up with their shenanigans.

Hawkgirl is awesome! She was cool, calm, calculating-- basically the exact opposite of Bronze Age Hawkman. There's a reason beyond gender quotas why she landed on Justice League Unlimited without Katar.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if you called Jean as Jackie O. The villainous Chronos was clearly modeled after Richard Nixon, so it makes sense.

Diabolu Frank said...

Since when was it Hal's fault and not the writers and editors for that disaster that was Zero Hour?.

Since rather than being an isolated, embarrassing incident with little continuity impact (like Iron Man's "Emerald Twilight" knock-off, "The Crossing") it was a decade long debacle that impacted virtually every major DC Comic at some point, and reverberates to this day.

Avi, I run a Martian Manhunter blog, and for years I harbored the desire to someday write a story that would wipe away all the worst incidents involving that character. I had a bunch of ways of going about it (Bloodwynd did it! He was possessed by Eclipso! Etc!) John Byrne made a career of that sort of thing, and that desire drove the many revamps that followed Crisis On Infinite Earths.

I was a devout Post-Crisis convert, shouting down all criticism from the old fogies that Superman/Wonder Woman/etc. had been "ruined" by Marvelization. I fumed any time someone brought up J'Onn J'Onzz's weakness to fire ("Psychosomatic only!) For me, with exceptions, the DC Universe clearly began in 1987, and the new law was gospel.

Like many religious converts, the more I looked into history and applied critical thinking, the more I realized how wrong I was. Denying the Pre-Crisis continuity was like denying Internment Camps, the Holocaust, or the genocidal campaign against Native Americans. I was choosing to select the history that suited my tastes, and dismissing the obvious fact that stories-- our modern American mythology-- good and bad-- had been told for decades before I came along to apply my arbitrary definitions. I could argue all I want, but too many people remembered the old ways-- the true history-- the ideas of the creators and the architects of development. How could I claim to be a fan of a character-- any character-- while simultaneously denouncing any aspects that didn't jibe with my preferences? That only made me a liar, a hypocrite, delusional, and repressive. I acknowledged that I was wrong, and that someone remembers every story, making everything matter. It all counts. Everything. Whether you or I like it or not, it's in print and on the record.

The vast majority of DC and Marvel characters were created under work-for-hire contracts that legally declares the companies themselves the "authors." Whomever they decide to actually produce their stories, those stories belong to the company. If DC Comics decides Hal Jordan is a mass murderer, and they promote that fact for a decade, then it is so. If they then decide they're sick of H.E.A.T., and that Kyle Rayner's got too much mileage on him, they can come up with a contrived way to resolve a great many conflicts and reinstall Hal Jordan into the face of the GL Corps. I have no control over that besides choosing not to purchase most Jordan-related product, voicing my disdain for his handling, and not forgetting the crimes he perpetrated as Parallax. I'm unwilling to just forgive and forget, because I accept that teams of creators devoted years to pursuing DC's goal of demonizing Hal Jordan. I don't own Green Lantern, nor do any of his fans. He's DC's property, and I can only choose how I react to what they decide Hal got up to.

The alternative you put forth is to freeze time at some subjective point. I can declare that DC got Martian Manhunter right until-- say-- 1984, and all stories published since are aberrant. The problem with that is that whole generations of readers only know J'Onn J'Onzz as he became in 1987, or even 1997, or maybe just from Smallville on TV. My declarations are as significant to the public at large as the Amish lifestyle. I can stomp off to a farm in Pennsylvania and start raising barns all I like, but the world at large carries on, and things change.

Diabolu Frank said...

Growing up, I was a big fan of Michael Jackson and Mel Gibson. Both those guys went from heroes to lunatics in my eyes as I learned my perception of who they were differed from their actual selves. I could be one of those guys dolling themselves up like Michael and declaring his innocence, but I don't believe that's true, and it taints my appreciation for Jackson's music to this day. Same goes for the once charming Mel Gibson, one of my favorite action stars, turned into an adulterous, crotchety substance-abusing bigot in my eyes. I can't really enjoy Lethal Weapon much after that.

Other guys, like Prince, have always been jerks. I don't care for how Prince treats people, and I have serious misgivings about his modern faith and views. However, his talent is so amazing, and his flaws reasonable enough, that I choose to overlook my issues and enjoy the music. I can make that subjective choice, but I still acknowledge Prince isn't necessarily a great human being a lot of the time.

My point is, I don't believe you can walk through this world with blinders on, and I recognize I can't just choose what's "correct" about a subject while entirely ignoring the muck that may lie beneath. I can allow for rose-tinting glasses, or outright rejecting a thing once adored then turned cancerous, but I don't find arguments for treating history like buffet at all credible.

"And I suppose Rifqa Bary isn't worthy either because she dared convert from Islam to Christianity?"

Rifqa Bary is a human being who accused her parents of masterminding her potential honor killing, but who has also been caught in a slew of demonstrably false statements. I would err on the side of caution in the defense of her well being, as has been the case so far, because that's a whole world of real life gray to sift through.

Jean Loring is a fictional character whose "life" is an open book filled with betrayal, adultery and murder. Writers created and sustained that life at the behest of DC Comics, and ended it under the same terms. There is no gray there. It's in black & white or color, depending on which edition you pick up. It's all fiction, and the story is that she was a bad girl who came to a bad end. She might have been good once, and clearly still is in your eyes, but no one else is obliged to assume your narrow selective memory of her make-believe "life."

Diabolu Frank said...

What this tells is that if I were a writer and wanted to depict her apologizing for any mistakes she made, you'd probably reject my efforts because you cannot distinguish fiction from reality, or because she's a female, and therefore not worthy of the priveleges given to males like Rick Jones and Wolverine, or even Gambit.

...and you'd be shouting nonsense. These are comic book characters, not living beings. Writers and editors guided and decided Jean's fate as her "gods," while I am but a mere mortal onlooker. I'm looking critically at a text, and you're demanding that I accept comic book characters as living beings independent of their creators. I assure you sir, that my view is the comparatively grounded one.

As for your rant about my supposed gender bias, man, I don't even know what planet you're on. Have you read anything I wrote beyond what you chose to argue over? Getting selective again? Skipped the parts about the matriarchs in my family, or my own superior girlfriend, or my enjoyment of great heroines like Lois Lane, Black Canary & Hawkwoman (not to mention the many I haven't mentioned, like Wonder Woman, a character I own more comics about than just about any other?)

Avi, you don't even make internal sense. Hal Jordan has apologized and fought to redeem himself for half a decade, I still don't forgive him, and he's never been shy with his penis. Would it help to balance the scales if I called him a bastard, or do I need to be more gender-specific? This isn't about men and women, no matter how fervently you try to frame it as such. This is about a psychotic murderer who just happens to wear pink.

I feel embarrassed to have ever said anything here to begin with

That's a natural reaction. I've embarrassed myself in arguments many times, and try to learn from those mistakes. The first step is to listen without prejudice, or at least be receptive to the potential validity of a counter argument. I'm interested in enlightening conversation, not lectures.

if Jean were black, Asian or Latina, or Identity Crisis featured someone calling her a "filthy white cracker" would you have stood for the demonization they gave her there?

Wait, what? WhAT? No seriously, what? I'm going to try to work this out, but it was almost as left-field as the Rick Jones reference.

If someone had called the wealthy, entitled, abusive Jean Loring a "filthy white cracker" in Identity Crisis, I'd have laughed my head off. She murdered a delightful woman who happened to be with child, and made sure to scorch the body so her husband could grieve over a closed casket. Yes, I realize a evil boogey-boogey writer made her do that, but since she's only a figment of the imagination, and her existence is determined by her writers, I accept that as her fictional "truth." I've called her far worse, and her writer too, and I still figure they both deserved my harsh condemnation.

If Jean were a minority (was she Jewish like Ray?) she would get in line with all the other characters of color who've been mistreated by white, male, middle class creators. If she were the same personality beyond that racial classification, I wouldn't squeak much more though. There are far more worthy characters to defend against injustice (Bill Foster & Hector Ayala R.I.P.)

Arthur Canning said...

Holy Moley!!