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Sunday, March 08, 2015 

Scott Lobdell falls back on his one-sided attacks against Starfire fans

Lobdell, notorious for his forced rendition of Alpha Flight's Northstar as gay in 1992, and as one of the worst writers for the X-Men in the 1990s, boomeranged back on a tactic he used a few years ago. It began with a tweet Jimmy Palmiotti wrote last month wondering how people think princess Koriand'r of the Titans should be represented:

Soon, Lobdell chimed in, acting like the guy who tweeted the reply is just some kind of a prude:

Just wait, it got worse:

Funny how a leftist like Lobdell alludes to the Taliban, but honestly insulting if he called his critic such a thing. The tweeter tried to explain what he really meant, to no avail:


Wow, all this from the same guy whose characterization of women in past products wasn't very impressive, and who wrote a line for Starfire telling Arsenal in Red Hood and the Outlaws that "love has nothing to do with it." And who admitted that he comitted sexual harrassment at a convention, but didn't apologize convincingly. Lobdell sure has a lot of contempt for those who criticize his writing. So much he won't even defend his writing assignments or engage in a simple debate about them. Now it's true that "slut" is a pretty nasty word; a more vicious slang for "prostitute". But "dumb" and "submissive" are far from being rude descriptions of how he wrote Koriand'r, and the tweeter was only trying to argue that his depiction of Koriand'r made her look peculiarly obedient to Red Hood, and offering herself up to Roy for sex without love or actual fun. These replies are merely a repeat of an earlier Q&A he gave to Comic Vine, where he said:
I think what HAS surprised me the most is the vulgar tone of the comments I've read. When I hear people calling Starfire a "slut" or a "whore" or a "sex toy" it makes me sick to my stomach, honestly. I don't think a person (man or woman) gets to define someone else's sexuality and certainly not in such derogatory and dismissive terms. The notion that people genuinely believe they are staking the moral high ground in what they believe is their defense of Kori, by using such dehumanizing language is otherworldly to me.
Now again, the word "slut" itself is crude, and if any of the message boarders he alluded to were accusing Starfire of being one rather than criticizing his own writing - which he seems to be obscuring - than of course that was a dumb move. But while I've been well aware for years how alleged comics fans have been insulting fictional characters while otherwise letting so many hack writers get away with it sans critique, I can't believe all readers across the board are unable to distinguish between fiction and reality, and the fact that jerks like Lobdell are the ones really responsible for tarnishing these many cast members major & minor. What he's really trying to do is sidestep the real issue, which is his whole approach to characterization. J. Michael Straczynski tried a similar tactic a decade ago when he published Sins Past, telling everybody he saw Gwen Stacy being cursed as a "slut", yet never plausibly acknowledging he's the one to blame for the bad characterization. Some people on Comics Beat's followup put the record straight and said:
“Slut” and “sex-toy” are almost diametrically opposed critiques of the work: “slut” states that she is a woman who has chosen to pursue sex shamefully (and is not an insult I would ever use), while “sex-toy” strips her of agency completely. Starfire in issue 1 was robotic, not slutty.
Yes, that would be my assessment too. And:
I do NOT buy that response one bit. Turning the tables by saying “You’re the ones who are reading bad things into my work,” is a cute way to not take responsibility for what he did. Is he going to say we’re bullying Starfire for her choices too?
That's just it. Lobdell was trying to attack the audience and skirt around his own responsibilities as scriptwriter, which he never clearly addresses. I don't think Starfire has to be depicted as a girl who must always lead committed, monogamous relations, and I don't think she always was anyway after her relationship with Nightwing soured. But depicting her as a brainless airhead who doesn't even have sex for love, let alone the fun of it, and submits herself for the man's benefit alone, is insulting to the intellect, and does reduce her to something worse than a cypher. This was in stark contrast to Wolfman and Perez's characterization, which depicted Koriand'r as sexy AND intelligent, with great emotions.

Thank goodness Lobdell may be off the books now. Besides, when he committed sexual harrassment at a convention, that wasn't his only offense: he also blurted out at least one racially charged comment insulting to Asians. And this was a man once assigned to writing a franchise featuring a girl of Asian descent (Jubilee), and a British woman whose mind/interior body tissue was switched with that of a Chinese kunoichi (Psylocke). What business did he have then engaging in a conversation with Ron Marz about racial issues? Come to think of it, what business did even Marz have engaging in the same, since his track record has always been so questionable? I can't say I've ever seen him talking much to Lobdell, who hasn't used his Twitter page much recently, but I wouldn't be surprised if Marz hasn't disassociated himself from Lobdell either since the time this scandal was first publicized.

Since we're on the subject of Lobdell and his terrible writing assignments, here's also a Hollywood Reporter article about the time when he pushed Northstar out of the closet, and very badly at that:
Writer Genevieve Valentine’s low-key observation that Selina Kyle’s sexuality “wasn’t a revelation so much as a confirmation” is, if nothing else, a less sensational way of dealing with the issue than Alpha Flight No. 102, the ridiculous 1992 issue in which Marvel Entertainment introduced homosexuality into the Marvel Universe [5] with the superhero Northstar — who, at that point, had been around and closeted for more than a decade — came out midway through a fight with a homophobic supervillain by declaring “For while I am not inclined to discuss my sexuality with people for whom it is none of their business — I am gay!”
Excuse me? Northstar was clashing with Major Maple Leaf, a superhero created by Lobdell himself, and it says so on the page Graeme McMillan linked to. It sounds like his biases got to him so badly, he wants everything to go according to his tunnel-vision.
As strange as it may seem, that scene in itself was a major leap forward for the publisher; one of the reasons Northstar had remained in the closet for his existence up to that point was, apocryphally, that former editor-in-chief Jim Shooter had decreed that there were no gay heroes in the Marvel Universe, with the only other instance of on-panel homosexuality in Marvel history having been an attempted rape of Bruce Banner in a 1980s newsstand magazine [6]. (Appallingly, an earlier attempt to deal with Northstar’s sexuality by revealing that he had AIDS was nixed at the last moment, with the illness explained away with the staggering excuse that he was actually a fairy and had contracted a special fairy disease. I am, amazingly, not making this up [7].)
But didn't McMillan just say the story was ridiculous? And it was, if only because of how heavy-handed it was to begin with, as only Lobdell could possibly write it in much of his unadulterating badness, all to uphold a lifestyle he seems far more respectable of than women. I will say, however, that Shooter may have made a mistake by telling there's "no gay heroes" in the MCU, instead of saying they don't depict homosexuality in a one-sided, positive light. Sure, he may have been trying to tell audiences who find the practice reprehensible they won't try turning them off, but he did so in a chicken-out manner, and that may have effectively hurt Marvel for years to come.

As for that Hulk story, I'll admit it's not very appealing, but the CSBG article does state Shooter wanted to address a serious issue, one that may still be underreported, and there were a few TV shows in the 1970s (Marcus Welby MD, Kojak) that also tackled the issue, so I don't see why some liberals might have a problem with it in that context. McMillan then says:
Since those tentative, stumbling days, both Marvel and DC have improved their records when it comes to LGBTQ heroes — at least, slightly. The 1998 debut of Apollo and the Midnighter, two gay heroes in a committed, non-sensationalized relationship in DC’s Stormwatch series was a milestone, with the characters later becoming central to the successful series The Authority (The two characters got married in what is, despite claims to the contrary [8], superhero comics’ first gay wedding in 2002.) Elsewhere at DC, Gotham Central won awards for storylines surrounding the sexuality of Renee Montoya, who went on to star in the 52 series which introduced Batwoman, an openly-gay hero who would headline both Detective Comics and her own series in subsequent years.
Curious he doesn't mention the Montoya character, who first appeared in the Batman cartoon series of the early 90s, didn't begin as a lesbian. This only turned up about a decade afterwards when Greg Rucka exploited her for his own self-interests, rather than introduce a new character who could fill the spot if it's really that important.

As for the gay couple in the Authority, telling us their relation wasn't sensationalistic is a laugh. That series was mostly intended for shock tactics and leftist politics, and homosexuality was just the icing on the cake.

Lobdell once worked as a comedian years before. But after his disgraceful act at the convention, I think a lot less people will find him funny, and he does seem to be getting less work lately. His callous attitude towards readers proves he hasn't changed much in the past few years.

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Comic writer asks for opinions, when given one another comic writer attacks the person for their opinion...wow.

Some of these writers need to grow up.

I was going to buy Convergence, but then realized it's just a waste of money. Some comics from the Didio era at DC have been interesting, but not many. Lobdell actually did a slightly better job with Koriand'r after his outrageous initial portrayal of her in RHAO #1 and as he got further into RHAO. I don't know why, but I got the feeling from the writing that he had personal issues that he channeled into the portrayal of Koriand'r and he was conflicted about it. Again, not sure why. I think that was how Lobdell came to the character and that sort of dovetailed with DC's agenda for Kory, which was a different thing.

Wolfman and Perez had cemented those two so well in the Titans. To wreck that ship DC had to wreck Kory's character. It's a funny thing, because that ship was never about her being the clinging girlfriend. The two characters built each other up, and their ship was all about mutually dealing with challenges the other one was facing. Kory helped Dick become an independent leader away from Batman who was not obsessed like Bruce. Dick helped Kory overcome her unquestioning obedience of her royal parents and situation. The two characters could have come out of the mess of 90s stories on a new footing and stayed together. To do that though, would have required that Dick Grayson at least partly become a space genre character, because think about it - can you see Kory working Gotham?

The alternative was finding a proper vehicle for the older Titans. They started to get closer in 2003-2007, but then Didio's agendas took hold and the promise of the Titans in 2003 all went down the drain.

For DC's powers that be, Batman was and remains their big brand and number one cash cow. There had to be a reason why Dick could no longer be with Kory, because he had to be returned to the Batverse. They had to justify why Dick said he no longer loved her. They couldn't point to an inconsistency in his character.

It was easy to build Dick up in the Bat franchise and separate him from Kory, all at Kory's expense. The person on twitter who said that Kory should be a cross between Leia and Daenerys got it spot on. I could see Kory becoming a kind of space ambassador. The idea that she's just some slut handmaid who sleeps with all the male Titans who cross her path, and a few other random heroes (they started doing weird things with her when they matched her with Animal Man), is just so wrong.

Perez put it best: "what have they done to my little girl?"

*Correction above - Wolfman and Perez had cemented Kory with Dick so well in the Titans.

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