Evil as they go

When it comes to depicting devil characters, the ones that get it know they’re evil even if they’re not always practising Christians but at least they know evil when they experience it. In the comics about the group Teen Titans there’s this character named Raven who risks going evil the more she gives into her evil father’s influence.

When she does, it doesn’t go well which makes me think it’s analogous to temptation and avoiding sin or vice or else they go bad or something like that. X-Men comics might be a bit more problematic given it tends to depict most Christians in a bad light that makes Teen Titans look like a class act when it comes to religion.

I feel in those cases that unless if they respect Christians, better that they don’t have them around to avoid disrespecting them any further. Characters like Blue Devil and Daredevil are in the danger zone in the sense of depicting devil characters as heroic, rather than being depicted as evil.

(Not that the Teen Titans are any better, but at least there’s this character who risks going evil the more she succumbs to her father’s influence.)

Better than devil characters are villains, rather than being heroic and just. Better that the character risks going evil whenever on a demonic influence, than depicting it as good and heroic.

Some weird headcanons of mine

I actually regard Barry Allen as Irish-American whereas Caitlin Snow’s actually Irish, tall (around 6″0) and intersex (she’s androgen insensitive); not that Barry Allen and Caitlin can’t be Irish, but that involves moving past stereotypes of sorts. Or perhaps more acknowledgement of Irish culture, where Irish folks and Irish Americans aren’t always drunk, angry and redheaded.

If you ask me, I have a hard time naming any Irish celebrity with red hair (I know two blonds: Ronan Keating of Boyzone and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh of Altan) so by this logic, Barry and Caitlin are blond Irish. It’s actually not that strange if you’re exposed to these characters, but that involves any real knowledge of Irish culture that makes me think earlier writers didn’t get it.

(Or are unintentionally ignorant, which’s usually the case to be fair.)

Like I said, though redheaded Irish do exist I have a hard time naming any Irish celebrity with red hair so it defaults to brunettes and sometimes blonds based on what I know. On the other hand, it’s something not many writers have considered though that would be because they don’t know any better or don’t know much to pull off something.

How do you fix Felicity Smoak?

When it comes to Felicity Smoak, bear in mind she started out as a Firestorm character as in it’s a story about a kid with thermonuclear powers with Felicity as his mum at some point which also starred the Hyena and Killer Frost.

It wouldn’t be any better if Felicity Smoak were reinvented as the Hyena, except that’s closer to her comics roots to the point where it’s a proper modernisation in ways Arrow’s Felicity Smoak isn’t.

Or at the very least, a much more logical reinvention as the Hyena and Felicity Smoak started out as Firestorm characters that it would be a more respectful reinvention this way. (That does speak volumes why Arrow’s Felicity Smoak felt like a Barbara Gordon ripoff.)

But that would turn the character on her head, where rather than being a copy of either Barbara Gordon or Chloe Sullivan (or even Abby Sciutto) she’s a modernised Hyena. Rather than straying from her roots, she returns to it in a way.

But that involves actually caring about the source material, where bear in mind Hyena and Felicity Smoak started out as Firestorm characters that turning her into the Hyena would be the more organic progression.

Derivative characters

Something superhero media’s very guilty of, much moreso than other media to the extent where you practically get variations of the same stereotype (in the original sense of the word, in the sense of printing plates used again and again). Disney and Looney Tunes are practically guilty of the same thing, but what DC and Marvel do’s almost maddening.

(At least to my knowledge, I could be wrong about it.)

The worst offenders are when writers do deliberately make parallels between male and female counterparts (though Disney likely does the same with Daisy and Donald Duck to some extent), that I feel the best way to distinguish them’s to give them separate trajectories and personalities. She-Hulk’s a lawyer, calmer than her cousin Bruce.

It’s like how some writers, beginning in the 1970s to some extent with Supergirl’s counterpart Power Girl (now that too’s maddening), end up giving Supergirl a more abrasive, brasher personality than Superman does and the worst scenario’s to make her too derivative of him.

The comics aren’t any better, but the programme did make her too derivative of Superman (journalist, works for a publisher, female version of Lex Luthor) that I feel it makes the trajectory of turning her into an angel, Power Girl/made brasher and angrier than Superman’s the wiser decision (she’s still like Superman but also her own character underneath).

The more derivative the character is, the hardest it is to make them stand out more without risking unrecognition so it’s a tough act to balance that for every She-Hulk there’s a blatant clone and other media are guilty of it to some extent, the key’s to make the derivative character independent enough to have their own quirks, skills and rogues’ gallery.

Or at the very least, any resemblance of uniqueness in personality and trajectory.

The trouble with Superboy (and Supergirl)

When it comes to making many derivatives of the same character, there’s the risk of redundancy especially when they have the same powers that the solution’s to give them different personalities as with the Flashes and Green Lanterns. Not to mention, when it comes to the history of Superboy and Supergirl there’s the added risk of being made redundant by other characters, even if they don’t share the same relations but occupy similar roles and powers.

To give you the idea, Supergirl’s a female Superman and Superboy’s a younger Superman (Superboy as originally presented was practically Superman as a boy), to further complicate matters Lois Lane’s actually the first Supergirl (actually twice before Kara Zor-El showed up) and that for a long time, barring Superboy Supergirl’s both a younger counterpart to Superman and also his female counterpart.

That’s practically the real reason why the idea of a Superboy who’s not Superman, whilst attempted many times before, had yet to be solidified and be given the same staying power as Supergirl does. A Superboy programme did exist or three, but neither of them featured Conner Kent even though he gained his own fanbase he had yet to appear on telly (it could be argued DCAU Supergirl, having the same personality as he does, is the closest to Conner Kent making an appearing in 1990s telly).

As for Supergirl, whilst interesting in her own right, it would be hard to make her stand out without making her too unrecognisable that the solution’s to give her a brasher, moodier personality than Superman does and this ended up having any real staying power for better or worse. (If true, then that’s also the same with Superboy and they’re both cut from the same cloth to worsen matters.)

Superboy has the other problem, that if he were to grow up he’d become Superman and frankly that’s practically the reason why it took a long time for Superboy to be handed down to another character altogether for good whereas Supergirl gets away with it, even if she’s not without her own problems (to the point where a more abrasive personality’s the personality she ended up with).

My understanding of Mary Sue

Too often the word Mary Sue’s used to refer to either characters they hate (though I’m guilty of this to some extent) or complain about being too competent that I think Mary Sue actually and historically referred to idealised fan inserts interacting with official characters.

I did have a Mary Sue where I identified a lot with a certain character and based my character upon her, interacting with other characters but that happened mostly in my head as far as I recall. So a Mary Sue should be a character that fans live vicariously through, when it comes to stories they like.

When it comes to Kitty Pryde, she might be a better example of a Mary Sue as she’s dangerously close to the Mary Sue as identified by earlier writers: an idealised fan surrogate interacting with existing characters. She might be less Mary Sue if they played up her ruthlessness, given she’s shown to be one at times.

But that would mean certain characters would be made redundant and we’d see Kitty become a ruthless assassin (as shown in Age of Apocalypse) who attacks people with the focused totality of her phasing powers, so Psylocke wouldn’t occupy that role (at least until recently).

Play up the feline aspects, then she’s the X-Men version of Catwoman and a proper female counterpart to Wolverine so there’s no need for X23, that would involve thinking through characters and taking them to where they’d logically or realistically become.

That would mean actually following through the character’s logical progression and sticking to it, whether if they want to go through it or not like say turning Kitty into Professor Xavier’s brutal hitwoman (her beating up people in anger and assassinating people should be the logical or organic progression).

So Mary Sues aren’t necessarily flawless, but rather idealised fan surrogates that fans live vicariously through especially in fanfiction.

Is it sexist?

As much as I disdain some Mary Sue characters, there’s also a whiff of sexism and possibly racism aimed at characters deemed to be authorial surrogates, even though ironically it’s not uncommon for people to base their stories after their own life experiences in one way or another.

Something like calling Carol Danvers a Mary Sue even though she’s been through a rough time that it’s only recent that she got treated kindly (save for episodes where she’s made evil and even then I don’t think she’s a Mary Sue at all), whereas actual Mary Sues tend to be treated more kindly.

Or at the very least more identified vicariously through, whereas I don’t really get that from Carol Danvers at all and sometimes the word Mary Sue’s used to bash characters they don’t like, though I could be guilty of the same thing at some point.

(I’ve known people calling Riri Williams a Mary Sue because she’s so competent, that makes me either they’re racist, sexist or perhaps simply disrespectful.)

I do have moments of being disrespectful, even if some criticisms are from a good intention. I guess when it comes to quantifying a Mary Sue, to be objective about it’s to realise what’s the real intent behind a Mary Sue that’s if it’s a character fans live vicariously through it in the stories then that’s Mary Sue in the original sense of the word.

(Mary Sue itself’s the name of a parody of a character found in some fanfictions where authors come up with characters they identify with in the stories they love, which I know from experience having a Mary Sue at some point.)

So the real Mary Sue character’s an idealised fan surrogate, which makes much more sense than if it were a highly competent character. Multitalented people do exist, not that they’re flawless. But Mary Sue, to me, implies an idealised fan surrogate if not a power fantasy of a character that interacts with established characters.

But it does get sexist or racist whenever it gets bandied around otherwise competent characters, that implies a degree of insecurity around the character or the lack of understanding of the true Mary Sue character.

Supergirl

When it comes to Supergirl, she’s formally the younger cousin of Superman and also his female counterpart that writers would try to make her more distinctive from Superman but what made her distinguished from Superman in later stories’s her temper and brashness as opposed to Superman’s collected calm as well as rebounding from bad mistake after bad mistake.

The newfound brashness was played up in later cartoons, where I think if it was only Supergirl there wouldn’t be any need for Conner Kent (a brash young man) especially if they played up the brashness (which’s also the case with some cartoons). The other Supergirl, her doppelganger Power Girl, also brash and fiery that I think a Supergirl having a brash personality makes her more distinct from Superman without trying.

But in the sense that Supergirl/Power Girl will act in ways Superman doesn’t do, if done right or by accident I suppose given whatever attempts at teasing the two or three due to the risk for redundancy. This’s also the case with Superboy that unless if they make Superboy more distinct from Superman, but the other problem’s that he’s cut from the same cloth as she is.

In the sense that they’re made into clones or relatives of Superman in some fashion or another, they’re made brasher and angrier than Superman is and at some point, they’re the clones of somebody else and frequently risk redundancy whenever another version of them shows up.

Jon Kent’s the other Superboy, just as Power Girl’s another Supergirl that if it were just Supergirl alone that at least that makes her less redundant in the sense of filling in the role for both female Superman and a younger, brasher version of him.

Hating on diversity

Racebending characters and criticisiing them may be understandable to some extent, but entirely new characters that simply inherit titles and entirely new and original ones needn’t to always be the ire of hate whatsoever in some regards.

Something like Static being practically his own hero, since I feel with Milestone comics (whilst not always the case for all African American writers and cartoonists) they do present non-stereotypical roles but also receiving ire from some readers.

Kamala Khan, for another, sometimes draws ire from more Islamophobic readers, even though Carol Danvers (though the first Miss Marvel) became better known as Captain Marvel (even with the original Ms Marvel outfit in one Avengers cartoon, she was known as Captain Marvel there).

Even Carol Danvers’s reinvention drew ire from some readers for being too in-your-face feminist and being desexualised even if there were attempst at desexualising her before (any attempts at dressing her more modestly were there), and she was at some point meant to be a feminist character or something.

Same thing with Tigra where if they did bother to give her fur a lot (which some cartoonists and character designers do), she’d easily be the face of body positivity for being female and hairy (I could say that there are cartoonists who do make her look more bestial, paws and stuff).

If Tigra’s initially meant to appeal to female readers and was supposed to be a feminist character (where she even had a costume that looked more like a cat than her eventual reinvention that kept her from being taken seriously), she could’be been an SJW character with all the derision from inside the publisher.

Then comes Squirrel Girl who also gets ire for being SJW, even though she does have fans who accept her in her current form, but there’s a tendency to bash her for being feminist and stuff. Where I suspect that some readers do get threatened by certain characters who don’t fit their taste, which might be true on some level.

Something like reinventing Carol Danvers to have shorter hair and be this desexualised (considering earlier attempts at desexualising her and I actually think she didn’t look too bad with shoulder-length hair) as well as being more outspokenly feminist that intimidates some readers.

Show some tact

When it comes to depicting characters with certain backgrounds, sometimes there needs more sensitivity to it that you can’t just announce that they’re Jewish/depressed all of a sudden and you don’t just do the research, you have to be really sensitive with the topic you’re handling that you’re ultimately responsible for.

Like say if Stephanie Brown’s Jewish and has a Jewish mother’s who the daughter of a Holocaust survivior, you don’t just stop at Stephanie having bat mitzvah and eating latkes but also show sensitivity to her being the granddaughter of a Holocaust victim and if she does remember the Holocaust from her grandmother, that’s a big responsibility to do and pull off well.

Likewise if Kitty Pryde does become a werecat for good but with the added complications of her being an obligate carnivore and with regards to kashrut where lizards, pigs, any clawed animal and mice are off the menu that she’s stuck with eating deer, cows, buffalo and antelope so she has to make good with it and that necessitates writers to be sensitive about kashrut as well.

If you’re a Jewish vampire, if blood’s so unclean that the only way to legally drink blood’s to get it from cows, antelope and buffaloes and even then you can’t mix it with cheese and dairy, that’s going to be tough to pull off but necessary to show sensitivity to such a religion as to warrant greater tact to and knowledge of it.