Loving and hating Helena Bertinelli

Helena Bertinelli’s often held up to be a good example of both Italian American representation in comics and Italian American stereotypes, if you believe the likes of Ragnell and some Tumblr blogger before in 2014. I remember him saying how stereotypical Bertinelli’s as her name should be spelt Elena (not that the Italian language’s devoid of h but it’s commonly either found in borrowed words, exceptions like hanno and in conjunction with other letters to form gh, dh, bh and ch).

That and bad stereotypes about Southern Italians with the Mafia being xenophobic enough to exclude black Africans. Ragnell eloquently remarked about the problems with Helena Bertinelli in being a hodgepodge of Italian American stereotypes. Mediterranean beauties (she’s from Sicily), gangster ties, Mediterranean tempers and Catholicism. Marvel’s Frank Castle’s also of Sicilian descent but while he’s got flaws himself, he’s not heavily defined by his ethnicity the way Bertinelli’s.

Go figure in a sense. There are other non-stereotypical Italian Americans in DC but the only well-known one’s Zatanna (Barry Allen strikes me as a weird Crypto-Italian if because the people in charge are also Italian like moths to flames). Whilst not always the case, Helena Bertinelli comes off as a stereotype especially to Italian Americans and Italo-Canadians who’ve been hit badly by stereotypes.

It’s like for every Frank Castle and Zatanna, there’s yet another stereotypical Italian character (Japanese anime’s not any better though sometimes an Italian character maybe an overall Westerner stereotype in general).

Not bad

Tigra comes off as this character who does need a redesign. Not so much about the outfit though it can be made more modest but rather tweaking her design to be more animalistic. It’s not just among some fans but also official productions and comics where she’s sometimes shown with either actual tiger markers, fur, paws, prick ears or whatever combination of them.

I also think she could easily be one of the more truly body positive characters in which there’s nothing to be ashamed with having body hair for women as she’s supposed to be hairy (she’s sometimes rightfully depicted as such). It would’ve been even neater if she had tiger stripes/markings on both scalp and body hair (though that involves redistributing said stripes at all) in tandem with tail, prick ears, round eyes and paws.

I think I recall somebody saying that there’s something wrong with her character design but another pointed out that she’s very often depicted as humanoid that others would tweak it to be more bestial, especially with West Coast Avengers as the starting point. (This might also explain the problems with X-Men’s Beast in that he’s usually just a hairy blue man.)

Not an entirely bad character but one that needs to look more uncanny to be truly intimidating and even heroically so.

Their real life counterparts

While some fictional characters like Roy Harper have real life counterparts who’re very much like them (Danny Bonadauce), there are those that are either charmingly mundane (Shari Lewis and her daughter Mallory being analogous to Jean Grey and Rachel Summers) or not quite as charming or bearable in real life (Dick Grayson’s real life counterpart being Jean Claude van Damme who took up ballet). Sometimes vice versa but still.

I guess it’s got to do with Fiifi Anaman being something of a pleasant surprise. Especially from research. For those who’ve got issues with how the Supergirl portrays Jimmy Olsen as, if there’s ever a man who resembles the character more right down to his fashion sense it’s Fiifi Anaman’s pretty much Supergirl’s Jimmy Olsen as he should be.

Logically Usain Bolt (sprinter turned footballer)’s black Wally West done right given he’s fast and acts more like the DCAU version (as memory ensures). Honestly, I think if Barry Allen’s real he’d be way more athletically inclined than expected but because my own relative runs a lot and I’m somewhat interested in football.

Proof that reality’s stranger than fiction.

Stealing Rahne’s thunder

I think should Caitlin Snow ever become a werewolf on the Flash, it risks plagiarising Marvel’s Rahne Sinclair who’s not only slated to appear in a movie (if the trailer’s any indication despite it being postponed) but has appeared on television ahead of any incarnation of Killer Frost. Even if Rahne’s fairly semi-obscure, that shouldn’t undermine that Rahne’s notable enough to not only warrant a forthcoming movie and several telly appearances but also an art exhibition on female werewolves.

Alarmingly in years’ time, it’s Caitlin Snow that’s cape comics’ foremost recurring female werewolf. The earliest female werewolf in cape comics is Supergirl herself but that’s only either brief or intermittent as with the earlier she-wolf in House of Mystery. Rahne Sinclair’s cape comics’ first recurring one given her multiple appearances in several magazines. But Caitlin’s infamy enough to bring Rahne to light.

Albeit by accident especially when it’s so scandalous as this.

The greater evil

Like I said, turning Caitlin Snow into an intersex werewolf’s going to be worse than making Iris West black. First, allegations of plagiarism on Rahne Sinclair’s behalf and she even predated her when it came to appearing on telly (situation’s reversed in comics). Second, allegations that Flash staff hates dogs because Caitlin uses them to attack people and then get attacked themselves never mind that two of them own dogs (JJBA but I think Hirohiko Araki could get cranky as I admit obsessing over dead dogs when pissed).

Third, allegations of transphobia if because she’s got the same namesake as Caitlyn Jenner even though Caitlin’s actually intersex (and severe partial androgen insensitivity to boot before being used with a wolf). Fourth, it reveals the problem with CW staff taking too much liberties with the source material. This isn’t unique to the CW itself as it’s found in other franchises like X-Men to varying degrees. Except this comes off as ridiculously shameless.

That the Flash ends up being constantly compared to X-Men and JJBA’s saying. Especially in how much of a PR disaster it’s become.

Fastest PR Disaster Around

Turning Caitlin Snow into a werewolf’s going to be disastrous for two reasons. One, some X-Men fans would assume the entire storyline’s ripped off from Marvel’s own Rahne Sinclair (though arguably DC already had one in House of Mystery in 1951). Two, some would think the Flash staff hates dogs because not only does Caitlin make dogs attack people but they themselves get attacked and even killed.

Never mind two Flash actors own dogs themselves and so does Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures’ author. Except in the former it’s about having to take down a baddie which’s necessary within the canon/plot, the latter likely’s cranky (I used to obsess over dead dogs when upset). Even JJBA got flack from not only some of its fans but also PETA for killing dogs a lot.

That’s exactly the same situation Flash would face should the werewolf Caitlin ever come around, she’d end up manipulating dogs to kill people as she’s been abused herself only to find themselves abused or killed for causing harm. Caitlin’s going to be a big disaster should it ever occur at all.

Television and comics

Like I said elsewhere, there’ll be a profound role reversal between comics and television/film once webcomics get prioritised. So is streaming which you need a paid subscription to do these. Actually DC and Marvel already offer paid subscriptions for their comics and either one of them publish webcomics. But I suspect should webcomics ever get popularised at all, it’ll lead to a near role reversal.

In that webcomics are for free but publishers need to find ways of making money. Not just through adverts but also sponsorship and deals with other corporations. That’s already happening to print franchises but may become the norm for webcomics. Not only that, adaptations would act as adverts for webcomics (and free online novels and books when you think about it).

The possibilities are endless from documentaries to promote books and comics to deals with clothing companies (that already happened many times over) and the like. The only real difference’s that people actually read comics for free from official websites. Something that gets easily accessed to through portable devices.

All’s possible in the near future should it happen at all.