Identity Crisis. Avengers Disassembled. The “event” books of the year.
In DC’s Identity Crisis, the loved ones of the JLA are threatened by a mysterious killer. The plot revolves around a dark episode in the group’s past.
In Marvel’s Avengers Disassembled, the Avengers are threatened by a mysterious killer. The plot revolves around a dark episode in the group’s past.
Now, I like, no, LOVE work done by both the writers of these series. But what the hell happened here? In both series, big-time smart heroes are willfully idiotic in order to advance the plot. I’m as big a fan as anyone of a writer finding a neglected character and spiffing them up, but not by making other characters complete dolts. Green Arrow is the new hotness – Yay! Batman is suddenly Hamilton Burgher -- Booo!*
Someone’s gathered all the Avengers into one place and is killing them! Horrors, how will we unravel … oh. Wait. Where’s Wanda? You know, she’s usually right next to us. What are the odds this is the day she would mysteriously disappear? Huh. Anyway – WHO COULD BE USING THEIR INCREDIBLE REALITY-ALTERING POWERS AGAINST US? WHOOOOOOOOO?!
There’s a term in television writing, coined by Hank Azaria when he was working on Herman’s Head. He’d ask the writers “Who’s carrying the idiot ball this week?” In sitcoms, many plots depend on someone making a ridiculously mistaken assumption, or a bad choice, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time … the character who’s driving the plot that week with their poor judgment is “carrying the idiot ball.”
The idiot ball gets passed around these two series like anime porn at a Japanese middle school. As noted before, Hawkeye dies because his quiver, filled with exploding arrows, catches on fire. You’d think a guy with several pounds of high-explosives strapped to his back would have some sort of quick release system. But no, apparently Tony Stark and Reed Richards hadn’t mastered seat-belt technology. Hey Iron Man, look in a Honda Civic sometime, it’ll knock you on your ass. Jean Loring just happened to be carrying around a flamethrower. As one does. Batman, tracking the villainous Calculator, is outwitted by the equivalent of the old “two pay phones taped together” trick. Time after time, right after a really cool moment, the idiot ball comes smashing through the window.
Moving out of the petty (but not inaccurate) realm of nit-picking, both series have a distressing common theme. This was the year when comics could be summed up by:
“Dah Wimmin’s Gone Craaaazyyyy!”
I’m not going to hop on the violence-misogyny bandwagon here – not just the female heroes come out looking bad in these series, pretty much everybody in a cape does. And I ain’t saying anything there that hasn’t been covered by much smarter people. No, I want to address the villains in these series. Both villains are not just insane … they are insane for specifically weak-ass girly reasons.
Wanda kills because she wants babies. Jen Loring kills because she wants a hug.
They’re not just crazy. They’re WOMB CRAZY.
What. The. Hell? Seriously, are there no female editors? No female friends of these writers who could go “Umm, you know, maybe this kind of sucks?” Good God, this sort of sorry-ass understanding of women’s internal motivations was supposed to have died out in the 1910’s, back when “hysteria” was a madness literally attributed to the presence – not even a disorder in, but the more presence of – wimmin’s parts. Bendis and Meltzer are arguably two of the best guys typing comics right now, and both of their opuses rest on women in the throes of hysterical womb-madness?
No, I repeat, NO year-long universe-shaking arc in comics should be able to be cleared up by time in the community health center’s
I know I’m just an enthusiastic amateur dipping his toe in a very well-established world. But this shit’s got to stop. There are some very talented writers working on female heroes. Gail Simone; Waid always does them well; call me a slut for him, but Warren Ellis treats ‘em right; Giff, of course; Rucka with Tara Chace and that new SCU boss … and of course a few others. But what we need, really need, is some good female VILLAINS. Somebody maybe a little different from the Madonna/whore complex of Selina Kyle or the “deadly kiss” of Poison Ivy. Even Harley Quinn, as much fun as she is, is a villain because she’s Joker’s girlfriend.
It’s time for some cunning bastard with a double XX-set. Some woman who, when she pops up with a grin on the JLA viewscreen, makes Batman’s teeth grind.
Conan Doyle created Irene Adler in 1891. And comics are still catching up?
*(look it up. I’m not going to explain them all)