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Monday, April 24, 2023 

DC "events" that may not be adapted to film, for good reason

I found this item on CBR, containing a list of some of the worst DC "events" from the past 2 decades that are unlikely to be adapted to movies as Marvel's Civil War regrettably was, though you can never be too sure they're correct. For example, what else but Identity Crisis made the list:
Comic books have an utterly horrible track record with depictions of sexual violence. It’s not only a difficult topic to get right; a wrong portrayal taints the character forever. Such was the case in Identity Crisis when it was revealed minor villain Dr. Light had attacked and raped Sue Dibny, Elongated Man’s wife.

Disgustingly, certain members of the League decided to wipe Dr. Light and Sue Dibny’s memories, including Batman, who was against the truth being hidden. This was not only a needlessly edgy story but also made the responsible League members come off as complete monsters.
There is an interesting point about mainstream comicdom doing poorly in its portrayals of sexual violence. One of the very few examples I know of where it was handled right was the 5th issue of 1987-90 volume of The Question, written by the late Denny O'Neil. And thankfully, it was anything but graphic, but the main point is that sexual assault was depicted negatively there, so O'Neil deserves some credit for recognizing the seriousness of the topic. In sharp contrast, of course, to anybody involved in the production of Identity Crisis, who disgustingly didn't.

One of the most irritating things about the apologists this miniseries had in the past is that some of them were supposedly appalled and offended by Spider-Man's Sins Past, and what it did with Gwen Stacy, shoehorning her into an equally contrived, out-of-the-blue situation where she had sex with Norman Osborn, and supposedly gave birth to twin children. Yet these same phony fans were perfectly fine with the anal rape scene in Identity Crisis, despite how crass it was. Let's be clear. Sins Past was very bad. But how is a scene where Gwen was anything but sexually assaulted against her will somehow worse in every way, shape and form than a scene that was touted as a rape, where an innocent and defenseless woman was violated to her core by an out-of-character villain, another innocent woman was pegged as her killer, and a tabloid paper later claims she too was sexually assaulted in Arkham Asylum? Based on all the repellent hypocrisy and double-standards prevalent at the time, I don't believe for even a millisecond that these were Spider-fans complaining about Sins Past. (I vaguely recall a sick, creepy sounding message board poster with the screen name "Old School Spidey Fan" as one of the worst of the hypocrites.) At best, it suggests they were virtue-signaling, acting as though, because they supposedly disapproved of Sins Past, that somehow makes it okay to overlook their defense of IC. But as I've made clear before, it's a forgone conclusion that, if Mary Jane Watson were an obscure member of the DCU instead of Marvel, were the girlfriend/wife of either Elongated Man or Atom, and were put through the same wringer Sue and Jean were, these same pseudo-detractors of Spidey's Sins Past would welcome it full force. Exactly why said hypocrites should be soundly condemned.

Another example the article gives is Amazons Attack:
The Amazons have never had the most stable of relationships with the rest of the world, and it all came to a head in this miniseries by Will Pfeiffer and Pete Woods. It involves Queen Hippolyta coming back from the dead, and leading an attack on Washington, DC, at the manipulation of the sorceress Circe. Unlike The Trial of the Amazons, this does not paint Amazons very well.

The story is ridiculous and flanderizes the Amazonians to a sexist degree. Their reasonings boil down to basically “men bad” instead of having the typically nuanced reasons for Amazonians isolating themselves. At the very least, it did give readers the hilarious “Bees. My god.” line from Batman, after he sees a bee gun in action.
This too was a product of a time when contempt for ladies was particularly notorious, as the prior example makes clear, and the worst part is that the people who had no issue portraying the Amazons so hatefully in this miniseries are likely quite fine with supporting all the LGBTQ ideology that's been in motion since. Amazons Attack is practically the kind of tale that turns lesbians into easy targets. On which note, the chances you'd see a commentary about homosexual male variants on the Amazons (would Frank Miller's 300 count?) stating "women bad" coming from the Big Two is next to nothing. I remember one of the writers of this revolting tale practically laughed at a question of whether he'd noticed the outrage, which totally confirms DC prepared this for the sake of laughing at anybody who dared to take offense.

But the Amazons "never" had the best relations with the mortal world? That's a flaw. Under George Perez, they did. It's under Dan DiDio they didn't.

CBR even thought to add a Batman tale by Kevin Smith, The Widening Gyre, to the mix:
Kevin Smith is no stranger to the world of comics, but this comic made that fact rather suspect. The Widening Gyre storyline focuses on Batman, his fiance Cloud St. Silver, and a new masked hero named “Baphomet,” who earns Batman’s trust. The entire story is a mishmash of inconsistencies and bad characterization.

For one, Batman is shown to be paranoid about his fiance being some kind of robot or sleeper agent. Meanwhile, he trusts Baphomet, a man he’s never met before, without question, to the point of revealing his secret identity to him. The reveal that Baphomet is the obscure and weird villain known as Onomatopeia was just the icing on the confusion cake.
I notice they confused the name that's usually Silver St. Cloud, but that's probably nothing compared to the head-shakingly stupid idea she'd turn out, in this story, to be either a robot or an enemy spy. And it's hardly a surprise Smith could have such a pretentious take on both DC/Marvel, recalling that overhyped Black Cat miniseries he stalled on completing in the early 2000s for a year and half before finishing it with a retcon injecting sexual abuse into Felicia Hardy's background. Also notice how the woman, regardless of exact status, is portrayed as untrustworthy, while the male stranger by contrast is fully trusted. That's certainly eyebrow raising.

Let's also see what they say about Final Crisis:
This arc right before Final Crisis was so universally panned that Grant Morrison even says it’s unnecessary reading for his storyline. The 51 issues are a confusing mess of mischaracterization and shocking deaths that ultimately amount to nothing by the time Final Crisis rolls around.

The fact that all of it is set on Earth-51 means nothing there matters for the main continuity. Not only that, even within the bounds of the story, it ends with abject failure, as Ray Palmer fails to develop a cure for the virus, and it ends up infecting their entire universe anyway. Plus, “I’ll kill you to death” is not nearly as cool as the story think it sounds.
But what's telling is how the Silver Age Atom is made out to look like a failure, adding insult to injury over how his former wife, Jean Loring, was forced into the role of a killer in Identity Crisis a few years prior. Now that I think of it, in the mid-2000s alone, DC was going miles out of its way to make Ray look terrible. So this would be just one more example, and it makes no difference whether it'd be an alternate dimension doppelganger; it's still pretty obvious what they'd set out to do. And even Morrison never complained.

Another gross example is Cry For Justice, and what it does with Green Lantern:
After the events of Final Crisis, a few heroes have started losing faith in what the Justice League fights for. So, he and Green Arrow split from the league to form their own, much more brutal vigilante team. Leaving aside the red flag of “Hal Jordan being stressed and taking things into his own hands,” this storyline was practically character assassination.

Hal Jordan, fresh off his “redemption” from Emerald Twilight, suddenly relapses into a vengeful vigilante. Green Arrow, typically a jokester, engages in the cold-blooded torture of villains. Not to mention, the editorial issues meant that any interesting ideas the storyline had were not given time to breathe.
I'm not sure Ollie Queen was ever a "jokester", but the way this comic exploited him for what could easily have been a political metaphor for Guantanamo Bay (similar to Identity Crisis, which was definitely that kind of metaphor) was truly disgusting, as was the tale's turning Arsenal's daughter Lian into a sacrificial lamb for the sake of culling every minor character in the DCU, every which way but loose. IIRC, this comic was also notorious for doing the same with the Three Dimwits from the Golden Age Flash tales.

There's also Batman's War Games, although here, there's one part where they stumble:
This is one of the most mean-spirited Batman stories ever told, and that’s because of how personal it gets with Stephanie Brown. This storyline has Batman determined to prove to Stephanie that she was never worthy of the title of Robin. What follows is a cruel series of events that results in her “death.”

The fallout from this storyline meant Tim Drake became more angst-ridden and lost a lover. Even worse, it was revealed that the death was faked all along to teach Batman a “lesson.” Everybody involved in this storyline comes off as a bitter and hateful person, except Stephanie Brown. Not a great choice for a movie if the studio plans on making the cast likable.
In the years since, DC's desecrated Tim by turning him bisexual, or maybe even full-fledged homosexual in a relationship with another teenage boy whom Bill Willingham introduced some time before. On which note, let's consider that Willingham has to shoulder some of the blame for bringing us to this dire situation. For an alleged conservative, he did considerable wrong here, and now everyone's paying the price, not just Spoiler and Dr. Leslie Thompkins. But what makes this fumble and so insultingly awkward is how they imply reversing the death of Spoiler was worse than killing her. What actually happened, assuming they confused the info, was that Thompkins was established as supposedly killing Steph, all supposedly to teach Batman a "lesson". Oh, did I forget to mention Willingham penned that storyline too? Like I said, we have us here a case of a "conservative" who sure knew how to lose everybody's respect, and make it difficult and embarrassing to read anything mainstream he wrote ever since, even if those storylines have since been jettisoned.

Finally, there's Heroes in Crisis:
The not-so-long-awaited spiritual successor to Identity Crisis, this storyline involves several traumatized superheroes in therapy getting massacred. Over the course of the story, it’s slowly revealed that the man behind the massacre was none other than a deeply disturbed Wally West.

The insensitive portrayal of mental health, the butchery of several classic characters, and the specialized hitjob on Wally West led to this series being universally panned by critics and fans alike. It’s so bad that every year, a new retcon changes something about it to distance all the characters from the consequences of said event.
That was eventually what happened with IC as well, though it's pretty apparent we're still shaking off the horrific effects it resulted in for comicdom. Either way, none of these artistic fiascos will be solved so long as the Big Two are under corporate ownership.

And if none of these storylines are adapted to film, that'll be a blessing. DC sure knows how to go miles out of their way to supposedly Marvelize their universe, and that's exactly why their efforts have backfired only so many times. And the worst part is that, if Marvel hadn't gotten there yet at the turn of the century, they sure have since.

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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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