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Unstable Molecule

Location: Calgary, AB Canada
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 3,114
Subj: Re: When bad characterization becomes the norm
Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 at 07:54:54 pm EDT (Viewed 169 times)
Reply Subj: When bad characterization becomes the norm
Posted: Wed May 06, 2009 at 06:55:49 pm EDT (Viewed 333 times)

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I've been coming to the slow realization that "bad characterization" is subjective. I've been reading comics for about 25 years, and many of the characterizations I loved in my youth have changed dramatically in the past 10 - 15 years. In other words, what I would consider bad characterization is in fact the only characterization that newer readers know.

Here's a list of a few prominent examples:

1. Doctor Doom. A lot of the cardinal rules that I grew up with are falling by the wayside with the good doctor. From "Doom calls no one Master!" to Doom has had a secret master all these years. From "Whoever sees Doom's true face shall perish!" to the Sentry ripping off his mask and throwing him in prison, resulting in two guards chuckling about how hideous Doom's face is. From "Doom is above such mortal concerns as desire for the fairer sex!" to Doom having a (maskless) affair with Morgana Le Fay and imagining Emma Frost and (ahem) Loki as his sex slaves.

2. Monica Rambeau. Introduced as a strong, confident, capable black woman whose character wasn't even remotely about her gender or race - it was just great that she had those qualities in additon to everything else. Her natural strength and leadership allowed her to lead the Avengers as well as Captain America ever did. She brought dignity and grace to her role in the Avengers. I haven't been a big reader of NextWave or Black Panther, but I've read that she was an annoying blowhard in the former and insecure/incompetent in the latter.

3. The Wasp (Janet Van Dyne). In her glory days, she lead the team through the mansion seige storyline, emerging victorious. She wasn't the best leader of the Avengers by any means, but she was portrayed as a tough leader who could weather anything. But in later years she's been portrayed as someone who would jump in to bed with Hawkeye to spite her ex-husband; someone who's ditzy enough to drunkenly tip the Scarlet Witch over the edge about her dead children, etc.

4. Hawkeye (Clint Barton). In his WCA days, his "Avengers Don't Kill" attitude nearly cost him his marriage. Now he's killing skrulls by the dozen. Frankly I think the darkness of the costume is pulling him down. It's hard to be grim when your costume is blue and purple. ;\-\)

5. Spider-man. Making deals with the devil. Conducts himself more like Howard the Duck than Spider-man on the New Avengers.

And for all these examples, I think newer readers will consider the recent characterization as the true characterization. It's hard to say they're wrong when these newer characterizations have been persisting for years or even decades.

Any other characters that suit this syndrome?

Great points. Yeah, there are a few others.

Tony Stark/Iron Man
Millionaire, playboy, powerful with the armor, powerful in the boardroom or in politics, happy-go-lucky and cocky at times, drukard at others. Has been used as a total tool lately, someone that no one wants to look at and say "I want to be him." He's become more of a government lackey, which is bad for a number of reasons...first off, being the lack of resourcefulness and thinking, then the incompetence and unprepared decision-making skills, and finally the inefficiency of the job...all of which were not very much like Tony at his height.

The directions that the writers have taken in the last ten years have made me want to gag and wish for the days of the whole "Second Clone Saga" that everyone back then abhorred...the new direction over the years has just been horrible and led me away from my favorite character. There are many examples, but I'll just list a few--Spider-Cult storyline, the MK Spider-Man "all my villains are themed as animals because of a Norman Osborn-inspired government conspiracy," Gwen Stacy having twins with Norman Osborn (bull--where did we ever see Norman-Gwen contact back in the day???), Spidey making a deal with the devil, Spidey nearly killing the Kingpin, Spidey joining the Avengers (can you say "JUMPING THE SHARK" there Fonz...er, Quesada), marriage goes away, and more. Then there is the art...some of you may like Romita Jr. but his art really bites and I find it is a distraction from the stories, but hey, maybe that's a good thing considering the crap that has been dished out.

Nick Fury
Yeah, I know that he has always been a gov't spook, but the Secret Warriors thing may be taking it a little too far. Add to it the MAX Fury (not Peacemaker) and the Secret War Fury and you have a mess for the character. Yeah, I know that MAX is not 616, but new fans would not know that. He was basically invisible during Civil War and World War Hulk.

Dr. Strange
Totally misplaced on the Avengers. I always pictured Doc as part of the non-team of Defenders...there when necessary, but busy acting as SORCEROR SUPREME, not as a team magician on the run.

The Avengers
What exactly is the mission and purpose of the Avengers? What have they avenged? Cap's death--nope. Scarlet Witch wiping out mutantkind--nope. Taking the fight to the Skrulls and OFF THE FREAKING PLANET LIKE THEY USED TO--nope. Will they avenge the atrocities committed by Dark Reign? Too early to tell, but I will hazard a guess--a big NOPE.
Too many teams with no common purpose, no common foe (okay, the Skrulls, but that was different--they all had their own little battles). At least when there was West Coast and East Coast branches they had a common purpose.

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