Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Challenge To Gail Simone

Dear Gail,

Congratulations on your return to Birds Of Prey. It's probably a little daunting coming back to a former book like this. Sometimes these returns to the sites of former glories can be wonderful to read (Ostrander and Suicide Squad) or a disappointment (Claremont & X-Men). You've pulled it off with flying colors. You had a truly intriguing reason for "putting the band back together", and even Ed Benes' art was fresh here. The only flaw I saw was the inclusion of Hank Hall (who was resurrected - not by you - at the expense of the more interesting Holly Grainger), but if anyone can squeeze lemonade out of that lemon, it's you. Good luck on your first story arc.

However, there's a piece of unfinished business that needs to be resolved, and you are back in a unique position to handle it.

Yes, I'm talking about this:

(From the "critically acclaimed" Cry For Justice#2.)

As a longtime fan of the Birds, particularly your tenure on the book, I can only say that I was rather annoyed that James Robinson pissed away years of your hard work developing Huntress and Lady Blackhawk all for the sake of the cheap throwaway gag I just showed. This...cannot be allowed to stand.

I remember reading your reaction upon seeing this. You were polite, but it was obvious you were not a happy camper either. It pretty much undermined the characterizations you had given both Helena and Zinda at the time, especially since said "interaction" would have probably occurred in your run's timeline.

I'm pretty sure you were already imagining scenarios that could have shown Huntress and Lady Blackhawk in a more flattering and more true-to-character light, but if you were creatively blocked, you can look to an old master for inspiration: your occasional collaborator, John Byrne.

Although their original X-Men run was among the finest comic series ever produced, Byrne and writer Chris Claremont did not get along. And after Byrne left X-Men to write and draw Fantastic Four, the feud apparently kicked into high gear. Claremont's first major post-Byrne X-Men arc was a story in which they fought Doctor Doom. Unfortunately for Claremont, Doc Doom is also Fantastic Four Nemesis Numero Uno, meaning he would obviously be written by Byrne. And this is where Byrne really stuck the knife in. He wrote a passage in FF revealing that the Doom Claremont wrote was one of Doom's robots. And in one last twist of the knife, Claremont's Doom was not only a robot....

...but a defective robot.

That move was extremely catty on Byrne's part, but it was also brilliant. But Claremont wasn't Byrne's only "victim". There was also Byrne's former boss, ex-Marvel Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter.

And this is Legends#5, drawn by Byrne and written with Len Wein and John Ostrander. Dave Campbell had a list of all the in-jokes here.

Ooh, that had to hurt!

Here's another far less mean-spirited example. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis' "Formerly Known as the Justice League" and their sequel "I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League" referenced Booster being married to an elderly rich woman named Gladys. Like Vera on "Cheers" and Maris on "Frasier", we never actually saw her.

However, Booster's marriage was never mentioned anywhere else, especially when his profile was raised during 52 and his later solo series. Finally, Booster's creator and then-writer Dan Jurgens explained it in his final issue: It was all a prank on his best friend and fellow notorious prankster Ted (Blue Beetle) Kord.

The point is that there are ways that a clever writer (i.e. you) can undo what he (or, in this case, she) feels is a mischaracterization of a favorite character without turning continuity upside down. For the sake of longtime BOP and Simone fans, please use them.

And don't worry about offending longtime Hal fans by making him look dumb in the process. There are many of us who would actually enjoy that.


A longtime "Simombie" since the "YABS" days,


(P.S. I don't have any ideas, but maybe some of my "regulars" do. If so, there's no need to be shy.)


At 1:37 PM , Blogger SallyP said...

Oh God yes. There WERE some rather nifty ideas being passed around when this first came to light. My favorite had Zinda drinking Hal under the table, and then she and Helena dumped him in his hotel room, and left him with the bill.

Of COURSE Hal would lie about it!

At 2:17 PM , Blogger Saranga said...

yeah i liek sally's idea. let's face it, no one is gonna be able to outdrink zinda.


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