Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mea Culpa, Nerdy Bird!

"From the moment I saw your face,
I knew all my so-called troubles were nothing."
- Peter Himmelman

I have a major apology to make.

Last week, I wrote this post explaining my thoughts on the DC reboot speculation. Here were some excerpts regarding the future of the Super-Marriage and explaining my dislike of Spider-Man's "One More Day and "Brand New Day":

If there's one thing about this reset that's pissing me off to no end, it's the possibility that this will mean the reversal of the Clark Kent - Lois Lane marriage.

Maybe it's just the lingering stench of One More Day/Brand New Day, or maybe it's because I'm now married myself, but I see this as a huge slap in the face from DC.

I still loved Spidey as Spidey. But I found myself despising Peter Parker more and more. This greatly increased after I got married, and I'll tell you why: Because, in my head, Married Peter was someone I could identify with. He was me. And not in the standard ways like race, sex, and hair color, but because I could relate to juggling the unique responsibilities that come with marriage, and I could relate to the private husband-wife moments.

But once the demonic deal was done and Peter was single, it felt like he took a giant step backward. Maybe it was just more obvious after I got married because I had reached the same point Peter had and could recognize how much he fell. Instead of being someone I strove to be, Peter became someone I never wanted to be again. (Best-kept secret: Much of being single sucks.) Worse, with One More Day, it felt like Marvel was telling me that my life wasn't relatable enough. It felt like a slap in the face. And now it looks like DC is essentially telling me to turn the other cheek.

And it's those above passages for which I have to apologize.

Yes, everything I said above was perfectly valid. The current Big Two do have a problem writing happily-married characters. Look at this post I wrote the eve of on my own wedding. Of the thirteen weddings shown that were actually completed, only six of them currently remain intact, the rest wiped out due to death, divorce, and/or retcon. Out of those six, one of those (modern-day Lois and Clark) is highly likely be reversed after the reboot. Another of those couples, Wally and Linda West, currently languish in comics limbo. And I didn't even include the Dibnys, or Vision and Wanda, or  countless others whose marital unions are no more. With that in mind, and now being married myself, I took the lack of married heroes personally. Perfectly understandable.

Until you step back and put it in perspective.

That perspective comes in the form of news that the Batgirl in DC's upcoming Batgirl#1 is, in fact, Barbara Gordon. Prior to this reboot, Barbara was shot and paralyzed by the Joker in THE KILLING JOKE, and then she was revamped as the wheelchair-bound Oracle in John Ostrander and Kim Yale's SUICIDE SQUAD before co-starring in the long-running BIRDS OF PREY. Now her legs are apparently all better. (I'm guessing DC's choosing to have them be healed somehow, rather than just saying "KILLING JOKE never happened".)

Not being a total idiot, and possessing at least some degree of empathy, I knew going into my post that the loss of another comic marriage for me was a small and insignificant loss compared to the loss of  Oracle as a role model for people with disabilities, particularly those unable to walk.

But reading this moving post by Jill Pantozzi aka The Nerdy Bird at Newsarama reminded me how small and insignificant. Jill is 28 and has has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a degenerative form of Muscular Dystrophy which forced her to use a wheelchair 14 years back.

I've had some second-hand experience with wheelchairs myself. My dad had spent the last 10 years of his life dependent on one before he succumbed to cancer last fall. About 11 years ago, in his mid 60's, he began to lose strength and muscular control in his legs. Whereas he had been able to walk for blocks at a time and even commute to his town's downtown area singlehandedly before then, he had reached a point afterward where he couldn't walk more than 3 feet unassisted. Without the use of your legs, your world can become considerably smaller.

This makes the escapism and sense of fantasy that comics can provide that much more valuable. This is especially true when the comics' heroes are people that you, the reader, can personally relate to. And in this regard, unfortunately, I'm much better off than Jill is.

The Super-Marriage bites the dust? I've still got some options. Reed Richards in the new FF. Or Barry Allen. Or Luke Cage. And even if I give up on the married heroes, I can fall back on other characteristics as a tall, abled white heterosexual male with brown hair. No real shortage of those to use as symbols, right?

Jill? Not so lucky. The pickings are considerably more slim.

Most of the time, heroic characters in wheelchairs only wind up that way for a short time. Whether they're newly-introduced characters like Sgt. Michael "Supernaut" Fields in Marvel's short-lived THE ORDER and Jose "Gangbuster" Delgado in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, or established icons like John Stewart, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, and Bruce Wayne, these characters stay wheelchair-bound for a story arc or three before being quickly healed of their disability through comic-book science.

Not so with Barbara. Like Jill and others, Barbara didn't get instantly cured of her disability; she simply adapted to it.No quick fixes for her, nor any futuristic hoverchairs or gadgets. Just a standard garden-variety wheelchair that didn't even have handles. The better to move her chair all by herself, you see. That was the essence of Barbara as Oracle. Even denied the use of her legs, she was extremely capable in hand-to-hand combat, particularly with Escrima sticks. Not only that, she was a computer genius and the lifeline of the DCU. Add to that her bravery, resourcefulness, and kind heart, and you can see why Barbara as Oracle makes a wonderful symbol for those like Jill.

But other than Barbara, I only count two other major long-standing wheelchair-bound Big Two characters on the hero side, one of whom is this guy....

...and he's actually the nicer one. The other guy (Doom Patrol's Chief) actually ruined the lives of 3 innocent people just because he wanted to field his own super-team. And that was just for starters.

So you can see how me moping about not having enough married characters to identify with seems, well, rather petty and dickish.

And for that I apologize, Nerdy Bird.

Hope this scan will do in lieu of flowers.


At 8:56 PM , Blogger The Nerdy Bird said...


At 7:26 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

Face, you ARE the man.


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