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Wednesday, March 14, 2018 

A writer for Comics Bulletin seems to grasp why Identity Crisis was offensive

I found a writer on Comics Bulletin who seems to recognize why Brad Meltzer's notorious 2004 miniseries was such a repellent experience and smack in the face to an audience that appreciated the best of the Silver Age, even as he was apparently somebody who first got to "know" the Elongated Man and his wife through that very notorious offense to victims of sexual assault. He says:
Like many readers of my generation, I was first introduced to Ralph and Sue Dibny in the pages of the controversial miniseries Identity Crisis. At the time, I didn’t understand the outrage. Not the outrage that Sue Dibny was (spoilers for a decade-old story) raped by Doctor Light. That outrage was very understandable. It was the outrage that they had unceremoniously killed off a character that, in my uninformed opinion, was insignificant. I shrugged as the concept of using the two as “ghost detectives” was introduced in 52 only to be never followed up on. When the two avoided resurrection in Brightest Day, I didn’t flinch. I mean, this wasn’t Batman or Spider-man or even Spawn. This is the Elongated Man and his wife. Not necessarily marquee material.
Well I'm glad he understands why the outrage about the shock value scene where Sue's anally raped by Arthur Light; it shouldn't take a genius to figure out supervillains of the Silver Age weren't depicted as sex offenders, which even the wider public of modern times wouldn't take kindly to. At worst, the story made light of a serious issue, and that's why I consider it offensive to victims of rape and child/spousal abuse. DC still hasn't taken full responsibility for the moral damage they led to.

And why must their minor status make them insignificant? You don't judge by "ranking", but by story merit. A fact that's been missed for decades by people who preceded the SJWs plaguing entertainment today. When you just kill off a "minor" character unquestioned, it's little more than another way of affirming you have no interest in using them to build a story, and especially no intention of making it easy for another writer who could have better ideas how to develop something entertaining to do the same. If this is all superhero tales are about now, it's no shock they've become so dismal and uninteresting.
But it is not their individual characteristics that make the Dibnys a great couple, but rather the chemistry they share on the page together, no matter the circumstance. The aforementioned “ghost detectives” proved to be a highlight of the celebrated maxiseries 52. While they are featured throughout the 1960s-1980s in Justice League of America and Detective Comics, it is their time in the pages of Justice League Europe and the “Superbuddies” books Formerly Known as the Justice League and I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League where they truly shine. Ralph’s overly cheesy dialogue combined with Sue’s sharp, witty retorts – all while being able to keep their hands off each other – makes for an absolutely magnetic romance.

This brings us back to Identity Crisis, and what a true shame it was that DC decided to destroy this couple. The entire story was a teardown of a genuinely happy and healthy relationship, something that superhero comics are sorely lacking. Thankfully, with time comes wisdom, and the two were restored in the pages of Gail Simone’s Secret Six to the delight of everyone presumably not named Dan Didio (did you really think I wasn’t going take a shot at him?). Though they have not been seen since the end of Secret Six in 2014, the “Rebirth” era has provided a modicum of assurance that when they do reappear, it will be as the sickeningly sweet lovebirds we’ve grown accustomed to over the decades.
I suppose that's one thing Simone did right, though she largely ruined everything since with her own ultra-leftist standings. And if Elongated Man and Sue Dibny haven't been seen since, then ruin sets in once again, if they can't prove their ability to do something worthwhile with the twosome in a living, flesh-and-blood format.

The worst part of the whole mess involving Identity Crisis is that Gerard Jones, who wrote some of the Justice League Europe title where Ralph and Sue were a notable presence, added injury to insult after his sex offenses were discovered. That's why only the first 13 issues of that spinoff series from 1989-94 are worth reading at this point, IMO. And maybe that's what makes the IC mess so offensive - in a manner of speaking, it exploited a tarnished era as a cheap excuse to punish the characters and the audience instead of the writer before the crimes were even discovered.

I'll give the columnist some credit for recognizing what's wrong with the miniseries, and realizing why minor status is no excuse for putting characters through a horror-fest. And for realizing that DiDio's got to take some responsibility for engineering the story. It remains to be seen now if DC will even allow the abused cast members to be put to better use in the future by writers who respect that even minor characters can make for entertaining stories.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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