Although almost every non-powered New Yorker received powers, MJ was key toward the end of the arc, defending Spider-Man from attack while he saved the day. This stint with a superheroic MJ comes after writers hinted that she was the Initiative hero named Jackpot during a previous storyarc. Even Ultimate MJ got some temporary powers from ingesting the Oz serum, transforming her into a red Goblin creature. I find the concept of a powered MJ interesting because, since she's no longer the "official couple" pairing with Spider-Man, it would be a great way for Marvel to make use of this incredibly well-known property. Mary Jane Watson is a very well known character because of the film franchise and cartoons, so why shouldn't they use this former love interest as a full-fledged superhero to sell some books?
This wouldn't be the first time a company has toyed with giving supporting cast members and/or romantic interests superpowers or heroic identities. Harry Osborn has had stints as the villainous Green Goblin as well as the heroic American Son. Flash Thompson is kicking all kinds of butt over as the new Venom. In the Superman camp Jimmy Olsen would frequently gain and lose superpowers and Lois Lane would also gain powers from time to time. Both concepts were explored in the excellent All Star Superman volume. Heck, even high school sweetheart Lana Lang became a supervillain for Supes. Similarly, Carol Ferris is now officially a Star Sapphire to Hal Jordan's Green Lantern.
Some examples are even of characters that are fairly well established these days. Ultimate Wasp might be a mutant, but the regular old Janet Van Dyne was given her powers by Hank Pym (whose true superpower seems to actually just be "inventing superpowers," which is awesome). Similarly, Carol Danvers could have simply been the Steve Trevor to Captain Marvel'sWonder Woman, but instead she was given powers and is now arguably more iconic as Ms Marvel than he ever was as Captain Marvel.
So what do people think of this type of maneuver? Is it a legitimate progression for supporting cast members--especially love interests--once their time as the girlfriend/boyfriend du jour is over? Or would you rather see original characters take up new mantles/powers instead of recycling old love interests?
Personally, I say go ahead and give 'em superpowers. A character like Lois Lane or Mary Jane is well-known enough on their own at this point that it's silly not to try and capitalize on that. It certainly beats killing em off or making deals with the devil just to get 'em out of the way for the next flame.
Here are some other "love interest" characters that I think could potentially make the move to standalone heroes:
Gwen Stacy: Hey, clones count. I'm sure Jackal can give her some powers next time he gets the itch to remake her.
I'm a pretty big fan of legacy heroes. I even made a list. So while I'm positive about many of the changes and titles in the revamped DC universe, I am very sad that a number of iconic "second generation" characters are being officially ousted (e.g., Wally West, Donna Troy), demoted to old roles (e.g., Babs Gordon, Renee Montoya, Stephanie Brown), or just quietly ignored (e.g., Cassandra Cain, Connor Hawke). Meanwhile all the Robins and all the Green Lanterns cruise right along untouched.
Here's a quote from Didio about the two that are being officially nixed, Wally and Donna (discussion thread here):
just had an excellent talk with Dan Didio. EXCELLENT. when I get a chance I'll update you all. I'm much less angry now
SpeedsterSite Brandan a lot of you will not like the quotes from Dan. And not just Wally fans. #Donna
SpeedsterSite Brandan @bottlecitykanga I tried bringing Roy into the convo but he didn't bite. I agree with you completely
SpeedsterSite Brandan Yeah, I probably won't make it into this justice league panel so here goes some highlights of my conversation with Dan Didio
SpeedsterSite Brandan You will not be seeing Wally for the foreseeable future.
SpeedsterSite Brandan Dan stated that the Perez era TT were very difficult to deal with because of their age.
SpeedsterSite Brandan Dan specifically stated that Wally's kids were a big reason why he's off the board.
SpeedsterSite Brandan When asked why iris and jai were aged up in the first place, Dan admitted poor planning
SpeedsterSite Brandan Dan mentioned that Donna Troy is off the board as well, especially because her similarities to Diana are too great.
SpeedsterSite Brandan He said its hard and very difficult to accept but eventually the perez era will be gone.
SpeedsterSite Brandan On a lighter note, Dan assured me that many creators (specifically @jamesdrobinson) are definitely involved in the future of DC
SpeedsterSite Brandan When kyle rayner's new book was brought up, Dan said it's much easier to branch out with green lantern than most titles
SpeedsterSite Brandan Dan also said that they realize they are pushing the limits of the bat books and that they may be "dwindled"
SpeedsterSite Brandan we were able to record some of our conversation so hopefully the audio isn't horrible.
A number of people have pointed out that the obvious solution is to just, you know, change these characters to be more unique and not clash with the creator-favored Silver Age-era characters, but even that makes me nervous that they'll lose what makes them special. If you can have how many Robins and how many Green Lanterns, why NOT two Flashes? Heck, there are so many Amazons I don't see why you can't have one more with Donna Troy.
But then, there's another solution. Why not dedicate one of the 52 DC universes to highlighting these second-tier replacements as if they were in the leading spots? After all, the JSA has already been slated for future release as an alternate-universe title:
James Robinson confirmed that he is working on a new Justice Society project with artist Nicola Scott, and that the parallel world Earth-2 will make a return. The crowd erupted into thunderous applause. "We don't want them to just be cameos and then forgotten," DiDio said. "We've waited on JSA because we really wanted to get the details right. We were hammering out the characters as late as yesterday."
Certainly there's room for a universe of younger heroes if there's room for a universe of older ones!
There's a few ways they could do this:
"As things were" - Basically how things were before the reboot except focusing on these characters. I personally would find that unfulfilling and really, what's the point of the revamp then?
"Young'uns stepping up" - The older heroes are either retired or dead but effectively gone, and each of the new heroes is carrying on their legacies.
"From scratch" - The most daring approach, what if these heroes were the #1 version of their character in this universe? What if Wally West was the only Flash? What if Dick Grayson was Robin in a world without Batman? How would things be different?
I think there's definitely room for a concept like this, especially if they build it from scratch as that would allow for new, unique origins. The characters I'd want to see in the roles I'd want to see them:
Wally West - Flash
Donna Troy - Wonder Woman
Dick Grayson - Robin (or Batman depending on how it's handled)
Sinister, listing the Schism sides to himself:"Rachel, Remy, Katherine, the remaining Gurthies, and others I'll list anon went east. Oh--and that Toad creature. Ororo wanted to go but Cyclops persuaded her otherwise. "Ms. Frost, the lovely Miss Betsy, Erik, King Namor, Piotr and many others stay. Ah! And the fledgling chick lets the troubled Miss Okonkwo escape from under her wing, I believe."
For those who may not know, Okonkwo is a character from the novel Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. I remember reading this book in university (might even still have it on my shelf) and how it dealt with the impact of colonialism on Africa. Wikipedia's summary:
Things Fall Apart is a 1958 English language novel by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa and widely read and studied in English-speaking countries around the world. It is seen as the archetypal modern African novel in English, and one of the first African novels written in English to receive global critical acclaim. The title of the novel comes from William Butler Yeats's poem "The Second Coming". In 2009, Newsweek ranked Things Fall Apart #14 on its list of Top 100 Books: The Meta-List.
The novel depicts the life of Okonkwo, a leader and local wrestling champion in Umuofia—one of a fictional group of nine villages in Nigeria, inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group. In addition it focuses on his three wives, his children, and the influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on his traditional Igbo (archaically "Ibo") community during the late nineteenth century.
Up until this point, I had never actually realized that "Okonkwo" was Idie's last name. It's an interesting reference, I guess, but I can't seem to see why the creators—Fraction and Gillen—would make it. Other than being from a rural Nigerian village, the characters of Oya and Okonkwo seriously could not be more different. Consider:
Okonkwo was a village leader, a great warrior, but prone to rashness. He was a strong believer in the old religion and grappled with the coming of Christian missionaries and their message. Eventually, he kills another member of the tribe accidentally. Although he did not mean to kill the boy, the law is clear and he takes his three wives and goes into exile.
Oya is a timid young outcast who is hated and feared by the rest of her village. She also has strong faith, but seems to believe she is a demon, referencing "witchcraft" in very typically Christian terms. She does not accidentally kill a villager, but instead knowingly cuts down a group of terrorists in order to prevent a bomb from going off. And far from being exiled from her home, she's allowed to leave Utopia and start a "real" life going to a school.
I understand the urge to tie your Nigerian character to one of the better-known existing Nigerian characters, but why do that if you're going to invert nearly everything about that character? It'd be like referencing Sherlock Holmes only to make him a slobbering idiot. Furthermore, why make that reference if you're going to abandon everything that makes them relevant? It just kind of bothers me a bit considering the serious social issues Things Fall Apart dealt with compared to, well, Schism, which seems to be dealing with "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if Cyclops fought Wolverine?" Now, I'm not saying that comics, even superhero comics, can't deal with serious issues. I've railed against considering speculative fiction as a literary ghetto, here and elsewhere. However, what they've done with Oya seems to be totally unrelated to those issues. Perhaps the writers feel that the topic of the impact of imperial colonialism is a bit too high brow for comics? Perhaps they think the issue of child soldiers is relevant to Nigeria, so why not? I'm just not sure it's a good idea to invite this comparison. It'd be like if they'd written in an Indian X-Man and named him "Saleem Sinai" after the character in Midnight's Children. I mean, really? You want to set the literary bar that high and then deliver something like this?
I dunno. Did anyone else notice this? I know I'm late to the ballgame here as I didn't realize what her last name was until Sinister called her that. It just seems like a really odd choice.
I want to see DC Comics put out a Booster Gold book that takes place in neo-Gotham where Michael Jon "Booster" Carter is a high school senior and the captain/quarterback of the football team. The point of this book would be the typical high school "football drama" but with a futuristic and superhero twist. Booster would NOT be a superhero in this book, but he would have chances to be heroic: for a football team that's counting on him, for Booster's friends, for classmates that Booster doesn't yet consider friends but maybe should, and for a family dealing with the abuses and excesses of Booster's father.
First and foremost it would be a book about a teen protagonist dealing with usual stresses of high school, but it would also frequently reference and tie into the super-human nature of the DC universe as well as the environmentally bleak vision of the future first seen in the pages of Booster Gold.
I like to think of Booster Gold as Flash Thompson with the old Parker luck. He's the big man on campus but at the same time he's got a rough home life he's embarrassed of and tries to hide. Booster genuinely wants to be a good person—partly because he compulsively wants to please everyone; to be everybody's friend and live up to his own hype—but he's often irresponsible, lazy, or just kind of an ass without meaning to be. He's anything but a saint, but he's also not a bully or a thug.
Booster's primary motivations are helping his family and guaranteeing himself a future after high school via scholarship.
Booster likes to hang out, party, and have a good time, but as established does not drink alcohol (possibly because of his father's bad example?) and is surprisingly awkward dealing with girls. Frequently bumbles endearingly while attempting to be the suave campus hero everybody tells him he is.
Michelle: Booster's younger sister who looks up to him more than he realizes.
Coach of the football team: Puts Booster under tremendous pressure, talking him up when he succeeds and putting him down or blaming him whenever the team does poorly.
Backup QB: Close friend of Booster's from within the "jock" clique, last name of "Stone" to imply a connection to fellow football star hero Cyborg.
Other players: All have their own personalities, problems, and concerns, which Booster comes into conflict with at times and helps with at other times.
Neighbor: A friend of Booster's from when they were younger who is more part of the "geek" clique but remains friends with Booster. Should be the "Ted Kord" of Booster's youth and, even though they get separated into different cliques at school, they remain friends and frequently join up on the net for video games (where for once Booster isn't the big star).
Cheerleader captain: Booster's ex-girlfriend who he likes but her interest is fickle at best. She seems to be only interested in Booster for popularity points at school, although her character should be developed more over the course of the comic (think "Cordelia" from Buffy).
Primary love interest: A loner-type girl who Booster is interested in partly because she doesn't care about the football team and doesn't fit with the usual cliques. She is largely uninterested and he tries to win her over while at the same time being led on by the cheerleader.
Booster's ultimate goal is to land a scholarship to guarantee a future. This hinges on a winning season and good personal performance on the field.
Booster tries not to fail classes so he doesn't get benched from football for academic suspension.
Booster's coach turns on him as he hits a slump and he's ostracized by those who used to support him.
Booster struggles with his own desires regarding his love life and various interested parties, which distracts him from work, school, and football.
Booster tries to shield his mother and sister from his father's drinking, violence, and verbal abuse.
Booster first develops his "anything for a buck" attitude trying to literally keep the lights on at home as his father gambles away the family savings.
Booster is first tempted with illegal money-making opportunities.
Supervillain attack on the city causes a crisis that Booster has to help his family survive and ride out (rinse and repeat).
A classmate of Booster's is actually a teen superhero who either turns dark, meets a tragic end, or both (for once it's not the main character!).
The big football rivals, who are also jerks, crush them in the regular season and are first up in regionals for the post-season. This bleeds over into harassment and fighting between fans and players on the streets.
Some of Booster's teammates are involved with substance abuse and he has to decide on turning them in, which could possibly cost the whole team their season.
Some of Booster's classmates are involved with gang activity in the city, drawing Booster and Michelle into street violence they'd rather having nothing to do with.
Booster has opportunities to cheat in various ways: in football, in the classroom, and on relationships. He learns the hard way about fair play.
Booster and "neighbor" have various online adventures in a classic superhero-themed online game.
Booster's classmate has a problem in or out of school and Booster tries to help them with it (rinse and repeat).
Booster's dad goes way overboard and beats the tar out of Booster. Booster wants to hide what happened but "neighbor" knows the truth. Rather than accept help, Booster turns on his friend.
Booster tries to balance his social life with practice, school work, hanging out with his younger sister, and financially supporting his family.
DC universe tie-ins:
The football team is named the Sentinels as a reference to Alan Scott. Team color is green.
Booster dresses up as "Batman" for Halloween only to be told that he's actually wearing Batgirl's uniform instead.
Booster and "neighbor" frequent a DC superhero-themed videogame where Booster always picks Batman or Superman while "neighbor" opts for more obscure characters like Flamebird or Batwing. "Neighbor" is the leader of their superhero "guild" in this game and they go on superhero-themed adventures.
Water is very scarce, as mentioned in the original Booster Gold run, and one of the big motivators the coach forwards to the team is a hot shower with actual clean water for every win.
Rip Hunter frequently stops by to substitute teach and watch Booster play.
Booster often finds enigmatic and seemingly nonsensical messages written on blackboards as a reference to 52 and his recent solo title. These should be lighthearted and deal with the typical high school rumor mill instead of line-wide DC conspiracy theories (i.e., teasers).
Why I'd like to see it: I like Booster Gold as a character. One of the primary reasons I like him is because he's the inverse of a common superhero theme. Instead of the geeky underdog getting the superpowers, it's the jock, the popular kid, the ass. And yet, that's still interesting and still okay and oddly enough we enjoy cheering for him. I think this book would be a great way to explore that concept to its fullest as well as provide the DC lineup with another type of comic that fans don't get to see very often. High school "football dramas" are popular enough but I can't think of a single comic book title that surrounds the theme. Just as DC Comics has a military book, a western, and sword-and-sorcery titles, I think it could benefit from having this type of title.
Do I ever expect to see this type of book? No. But it's fun to dream. "Let's go Booster!" indeed.
Cassandra Cain was recently given the callsign "Blackbat" in Batman Inc. It's unclear if she's ever used this moniker as a true "superhero name" and now she's in revamp limbo, but it's the last name we've seen her operating under so I was curious about it. My question is, does the name come from anywhere else? After all, Morrison likes to pull old names forward from time to time. So, I did a quick knock around google and this is what I came up with two examples of previous characters:
2. Black Bat was a pulp hero who came out around the same time as Batman and there were lawsuits back and forth where each party accused the other of a ripoff. From wikipedia:
Both the Black Bat and Batman hit the newsstands around the same time, and both claimed that the other was a copy. The threat of lawsuits ended when DC editor Whitney Ellsworth intervened. Ellsworth had once worked for the Black Bat's publishers and brokered a deal that allowed both characters to co-exist peacefully. It is probable that the costumes of both characters were copied from the 1933/34 Black Bat series which featured costumed illustrations of the Black Bat inside the pulps though actually the "Black Bat" in the stories was indistinguishable from any other man in his choice of clothing. Batman creator Bob Kane always contended that the only bat-like man he had seen was the villain from the 1930 film, The Bat Whispers. However, the Black Bat did have a permanent influence on the Batman: chief Batman scribe Bill Finger called Kane's attention to the unique gauntlets the rival character wore. Subsequently, similar "fins" were added to Batman's gloves which remain to this day.[source]
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Morrison wasn't going out of his way to reference the Black Cat, so I'll discount that example.
As for the pulp character of the Black Bat, I'm not sure if DC was referencing him or not. Would this "Black Bat" be public domain at this point? I assume there are at least not active trademarks on the name, or there wouldn't be the Amalgam character. Would there even be a problem if it's spelled "Blackbat" instead of "Black Bat?"
It's interesting because the character of Black Bat is—I've learned from flipping through the summaries—a gun-toting crime-fighter who pretends to be blind during the day so he can do superheroics at night. That sounds like Batman, Daredevil, and Punisher all rolled into one. However, it sounds nothing like our Cassandra Cain. I hesitate to assume either of these characters are being referenced because 1) neither are anything like Cassandra and 2) neither are DC characters (or at least, only DC characters).
Anyone know more about these characters? Anyone know of some other character they might be referencing with 'Blackbat'?
I also don't like how the Red Robin mantle has been passed around from each Robin, starting as Dick's future costume in Kingdom Come, then becoming Jason's in Countdown, and then finally coming down to Tim's after he basically gets fired to make room for Damian. Now, I know it's not like Tim Drake has ever had a unique identity for himself to begin with—he's the third and arguably the fifth Robin if you count his "retirement" when Steph took over—but I feel like if you're going to "graduate" him, give him his own thing.
Finally—and this might be a local issue for me—I can't hear the name and not think of the chain of burger joints. I mean, not that I eat regularly at Red Robin, but come on now. When I see them all over the place reading it in the book is just jarring.
In the revamp, we have an opportunity that is being missed to ditch the Red Robin thing. In fact, he seems to be embracing it full-bore by busting out the Falcon wings. Well, why not just call himself "Falcon?" Why not just call himself any number of "bird" names? But alas, they want the word "Robin" in there to keep it selling. Is this how they're handling the "lost" Bat-Family members now? Red Robin? Black Bat? Pink Oracle? Ocher Alfred? I just do not like it. So what are some other options?
I think there are a couple ways DC could handle this:
Stay with Red Robin: The "Red Robin" series was pretty well received, people are kind of used to the character name, and it has "Robin" in the title so people will know what to expect. Why rock the boat? I might be the only one who has a problem with this after all.
Reintroduce an old moniker: AKA, the Nightwing solution. Flamebird would work, wouldn't it? Well, maybe not, but there has to be other old superhero names that Drake could pick up for himself. All the writers are into continuity porn so they might actually like the idea.
Go name-less: The "Dr Hank Pym"-slash-"Jean Grey" solution, could Tim Drake support a book without being in costume? Probably not—even Oracle had a cool name and symbol—but it's a question worth asking.
Swipe another franchise's moniker: The best example I can think of here is, well, Nightwing again because that was originally a Superman-franchise deal, but also I think of Renee Montoya as the new Question. Montoya was definitely a "Bat" supporting character, and still moves closely in those circles, hanging out with Batwoman and Huntress. But it worked, and worked really well. Tim Drake as "Richard Dragon?" Okay, bad example, but you get what I mean.
Totally new name: Then my personal favorite, let him spread his wings (Note: I do not like the wings) and be his own unique character. This can be riskier, of course, but without a solo title anyway, you'd have time to introduce his new moniker in a team book and have it picked up later.
What does everyone else think? Am I the only one who dislikes "Red Robin?" What are some alternatives he could try? I'd love to see him mentoring under Ted Kord with an all-new persona. Let me know what you think!