Forthcoming Essay: The CW’s #Arrow, #DCComics, & Race

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A few months ago, on Twitter (that blessed place) I had just happened to come across a friends’ timeline announcing a Call For Papers to submit proposals for a forthcoming book by McFarland on the CW’s ARROW. I don’t think I have made it any secret my love affair for this show, the diversity of the characters, the progressive message, the realism that is now turning into a more fantastic storyline. The Call For Papers was post on the Facebook Page for the Horror Area of the Pop Culture Association/ American Culture Association. My proposal was accepted and is due the first week of next year. Here’s the premise:

Tenative Title: Robin Hood Wears A Hoodie: a comparison of representations of People of Color in CW’s Arrow, “Green Arrow: Year One,” and “Green Arrow: Hunter’s Moon”

From its very inception, the comic book genre and its mythology have had to deal with the issues of race and ethnicity. After World War II with the return of African American veterans wanting to fight for freedom here in the U.S., as well as Japanese-American families being released from internment camps, the Ku Klux Klan attempted to regain its once formidable power in local and national politics. The producers of The Adventures of Superman radio show were contacted by activist Stetson Kennedy who had investigated the KKK’s activities. The producers subsequently wrote a series of episodes where Superman fough the Clan of the Fiery Cross in 1946. Concerning the other half of DC Comics’ Worlds’ Finest duo, Batman, scholar Chris Gavaler argues that Batman’s probable origin can be found in shadow novels that inspired works like the film “Birth Of A Nation.” Comic book historians point to the Comics Code of the 1950’s which began the comic book industry’s withdrawal from politics. DC Comics once again began to address the issue of racial injustice by teaming up its out-of-this-world galactic guardian, Green Lantern with the grounded, fellow Justice Leaguer Green Arrow.

Given the rise in popularity of comic book movies and television shows, it is my intention to examine the ways that people of color are represented in the CW’s Arrow in comparison to two very important Green Arrow story arcs: Andy Diggle’s “Green Arrow: Year One” and Mike Grell’s “Green Arrow: Hunter Moon.” I am particularly interested in scrutinizing the narrative tropes of CW’s Arrow’s take on DC Comic villains Shado and China White, as well as the introduction of the character John Diggle, the first member Oliver Queen’s crusade for justice. With Fanonian lens, I will point out how the character arc of John Diggle both fits and makes significant departures from what Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks, called “the-brave-fellow-who-knows-how-to-obey.” I shall contend that while Diggle was originally introduced as a Magical Negro/the Black Friend, the arrivals of Floyd Lawton/Deadshot and Lyla Michaels/Harbinger have managed to alter Diggle’s character into someone more complex. These changes to Diggle’s character has been well received by DC Comics fans, so much so that he has been officially canonized during Jeff Lemire’s current run of the New 52 Green Arrow comic.

Next, I plan to look at the differences of people of color in two crucial Green Arrow stories, “Year One” and “Hunter’s Moon.” At issue in “Year One” besides China White who I have already mentioned, is Oliver’s relationship with Taiana and how his encounters with her transformed him from being an apathetic billionaire playboy into a social justice warrior. Lastly, I will give close attention to depictions of blackness in the final two books of “Hunters’ Moon,” looking closely at Dinah and Oliver’s friendship with Colin, as well as Green Arrow’s battle versus the WarHogs. My conclusion will involve practical implications for how Green Arrow stories can be used to facilitate race conversations.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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postmodern blackness in ABC’s #Blackish @black_ishABC

This week I found great relevance in Tony Purvis’ article on postmodernism and television in The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism. In one of the opening statements of the chapter, he states that television is praised and censured for its ability to be the site of fantasy, ecstasy and pleasure. Ultimately the piece helped me to reflect on the question of whether or not television is still the site through which consensus norms and values are transmitted, as they were in the period of television’s modernity. I recently watched a series on ABC called Black-ish, which by its very titled screamed postdmodernism to me. I decided to use this show as a medium to provide my own analysis of postmodernism and television.

Image from Deadline.com

The very title of the series speaks to the complexities of the present in both the series and in the field of postmodernism. The title refers to a characteristic of not being a stereotyped urban black person or an urban black person with non-urban characteristics. This sets the background for the series. The show revolves around the lead character Andre Johnson and his family as they try to adjust to life in the suburbs. Through its treatment of cultural identity, postmodern subjectivity, and the generic boundaries of hybridization, the show Black-ish can be read in a postmodern context.

One aspect of postmodernity that recognizable in the show is its ability to blur generic boundaries of hybridization. It playfully makes use of self-referential preoccupation with the inner thought of Andre. Truth and falsehood are manufactured in various ways on the show. Thus it scantily totes the line between reality and Andre’s perception of reality. For example, on the first episode Andre feels like an animal at an exhibit as neighbors stare at his family as they pass by. This is clearly an example of how Andre’s thoughtful imagination influences the show. Yet there is no event to counter this reality. Thus it blurs the line between what is real and what is perceived as real by not clearly indicating a difference.

Realizing the plurality of perspectives is evident through many of different voice on the show. Andre and his father have different interpretations on what it means to black in a suburban setting. Simultaneously, Andre’s wife Rainbow and their children also have different interpretations of blackness. Laurence Fishburn’s character juxtasposes yet another example of blackness. Fishburn’s character plays the live-in father of Andre. He represents many of the traditional notions of blackness derived from the Civil Rights movement and its subsequent social impact.

They (the family) struggle to gain a sense of cultural identity in a predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhood. Black-ish for them refers to the ways that they have to redefine what it means to black in under a different social context. In the very first episode Andre is promoted to the Senior Vice President of Urban development. At first this promotion irritates him because he associates Urban Development with “minority stuff.” For his first project he submits to the other senior vice president his intention for urban development, which fit basically every conceivable stereotype for urban. By the end of the episode however he realizes that there is no one interpretation for the concept of urban. Urban only implies “minority stuff” if that is the way you choose to interpret it. Thus postmodern subjectivity is involved even in how the show defines itself. I think it is critical to understand that the show does not conceive of one definition of blackness and what it means to black under any context.

G.R.R.

Godaime Raikage Richard. Sociology of Religion. Japanime. Sports. Liberation. Brother of h00die_R.

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Spiritual Warfare & Demonic Strongholds: Unclean Spirits/Mental Demons Pt. 2

Content note: brief mention of suicide

So in the last post I tackled mental/emotional issues, most specifically depression, as demonic strongholds that are often symptomatic of our fallen world that is external to us and bound to produce such a heavy , demonic burden on the mind. In today’s post, I want to take it a bit further to the manifestations of mental demons –> i.e. spiritual warfare, and it’s more all-encompassing than just depression.

8Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. ”

1 Peter 5:8

 

As I stated in my introductory post for this series, I wanted to explore/use media and pop-culture to illustrate some of these ideas. There are two souls that I wish that more folks knew when it came to film/animation: Satoshi Kon & Darren Aronofsky.

Satoshi Kon.jpg(Satoshi Kon)

The late Satoshi Kon ( died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer) was a prominent  film director and animator and had a penchant for making some of the most surreal animted cartoons (anime) ever to hit TV and silver screens. His emphasis on human consciousness, the blurred lines between reality and dreams, and the ability of the invidual to relate to the outside world are some of his most recurring themes. Some of his most influential work includes the likes of Tokyo Godfathers, Millenial Actress, Paprika and Paranoia Agent. For today’s post, I will focus on Paranoia Agent.

Without spoiling too much, Paranoia Agent is a 13-episode show in which a pair of detectives are charged with uncovering  and finding the identity of “little slugger”, serial attacker/ killer. As the name of the show might suggest, however, the detectives, throughout the show begin to realize something rather perplexing about the nature of the serial tormentor- he may not actually exist, at least not in physical reality. Soon enough, after several episodes in and victims revealed, you begin to realize the unifying theme of all of the “lil slugger’ attacks: he seems to attack those in situations of immense emotional vulnerability – in times where reality seems to be so burdensome,  that the victim, rather than dealing with the situation, the lil slugger comes roller-blading right along with his golden baseball bat to strike the victim and place them out of their misery. The victims typically don’t die but they are unconscious and afterwards, they are more sober-minded. It is suggested throughout the show that the lil-slugger is actually not real but nothing more than a neurotic defense mechanism to protect the victim’s ego from being overwhelmed from outside attack.

Now, this may seem like a random selection at this point, but what I adore about the way Satoshi Kon wrote and conceived of this show is that the Lil Slugger simply is not physically real, rather he prowls around, seeking someone to devour. Preying on the emotionally vulnerable is lil-slugger’s technique and seems awfully similar to how scripture warns of the devil’s behavior.

This of course gets increasingly interesting when we think of the lives of those who are oppressed, systematically. Who else is more emotionally vulnerable than the meek and the poor in spirit? Perhaps this explains the rampant drug abuse/addiction., sex abuse/addiction, etc. we see in oppressed communities of color, especially , something to put them out of their misery. This of course has clear echoes to my last post , as some will sadly seek to do this through suicide. One thing I’ve always loved about Jesus, especially growing up in the pentecostal tradition, is that He is not some nifty narcotic and shot to our vains , He forces us to DEAL with our issues through the power of forgiveness and the refining fire of the holy spirit (Holy Ghost Fire, us pentecostals like to say) , he deals with the unclean spirit and fights and overcomes.

Next time.. I will dive into Darren Aronofsky’s portrayal of a demonic stronghold many are far too familair with – drugs. Til’s next time ;)

 

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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October Series: Demons & Spiritual Warfare

Fall is here and October is starting in a week! The season of pumpkin-flavors, changing leaves and Halloween is here to stay for a while. With the season of witches and goblins stead approaching, I find no time better than now to dive deep into a topic that has always been of interest to me and that I’ve wanted to explore here at PJ! And that’s.. demons/spiritual warfare..

Having been raised in the pentecostal tradition (and still very much a part of it) ,  demonic strongholds and spiritual was always been stressed in the life of a Christian. I would like to take the next 4 weeks or so to explore different aspects. I will do so using the various forms of spiritual captivity we see represented in pop culture- film, shows, comics, etc. It will also include an examination of the “pop-culture” demonology of our time and comparing how that really holds against what is taught in Scipture and the experienes of the oppressed/margins. It will be a fun and informative series for sure! Feel free to give your input and suggestions on the matter!

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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#DoctorWho: Robot of Sherwood: Justice and Doubt

Image provided by Screen Rant

For the past couple of years, I had been rather embarassed to call myself a Whovian. I felt (and still feel) that Stephen Moffat’s writing is just ruining the show, and that they tried to make Number 11/Matt Smith too much like the 10th Doctor, David Tennant. The raw reactions of Doctor Who fans to antiracist critiques led to even more facepalms by me.

Fast forward to this season. As a fan of “The Oncoming Storm” 9th Doctor, I have been pleasantly surprised by the performance of the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I love the surly, ironic change in the humor. The show’s cast looks like it is looking to get more diverse with the character Daniel Pink. Through the first three episodes, I am indeed here for Number 12, Clara, and Pink.

We start at the beginning of the episode, the Doctor tells Clara they can go anywhere she wants. She talks about her dream of meeting Robin Hood, Earl of Locksley. At first the Doctor refuses the request because he tells her that Robin Hood isn’t real. Finally, 12 gives in, and when they land in Sherwood Forest with no person in sight for a few seconds, the Doctor brags, “No damsels in distress. No pretty castles. No such thing as Robin Hood.” Immediately after he says this, an arrow hits the T.A.R.D.I.S., and lo, and behold, it’s Robin Hood himself!

Robin Hood stakes his claim to the Doctor’s ship: “Don’t you know that all property is theft to Robin Hood.” The Doctor questions if Robin is serious, and Hood responds, “Robin laughs in the face of all.”

After their comical duel, the Doctor acts on his skepticism even after having won over RH’s trust. The Doctor cuts a piece of Robin’s hair and tries to take one of his sandals. “This sandal isn’t real.” The Doctor is suspicious of Robin for about 95% of the episode. When they both find out that the knights working for the evil Sheriff are actually alien robots, the Doctor argues, “Isn’t it time you came clean with me? You’re not real and you know it. Perfect eyes. Perfect teeth. No one has a jaw like that.” Still sadly, no go. It is not until the Doctor sees Robin Hood bleed from being attacked by the robots does 12 begin to be less skeptical.

Stories about the possiblities of justice are really difficult to believe in. In a fallen world filled with injustices and disasters, it can be pretty easy to give in to all of wrong that need to be righted. Even after 12, Robin, and Clara, team up to become victorious over the Sheriff and his “knights,” the Doctor denies himself the right to laugh and enjoy their feat. The Doctor has placed far too much responsibility as the “white savior” of time and space. Robin, meanwhile, puts everything in to perspective. He asks whether in the future, people will just remember him as a legendary myth, 12 answers in the affirmative. Robin replies, “Good. History is a burden. Stories can make us fly.” [....] “Perhaps we will both be stories. And may those stories never end.”

Indeed, narrative can open up our imagination for us to be open to that which we have not experienced, and motivate us to work for a more just society. A different world is possible.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Doctor Who: The Time Of The Doctor

 Stephen Moffat‘s War On Christmas Women

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct...

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct times. These are the eleven faces of the Doctor. (Top) L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker (Middle) L-R: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann (Bottom) L-R: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight the Christmas special of Doctor Who aired on BBC America at 9pm EST/8pm CST.  While all Doctor  Who Christmas specials are meant nowadays to be memorable, this one will be remembered as Matt Smith‘s last episode as the Doctor.  The episode starts off with of course the unrequitted love between the Doctor and his companion, Clara.  Clara invites the Doctor to Christmas dinner because she has made up an imaginary boyfriend.  The Doctor of course obliges, and Clara chooses to cook the turkey on the TARDIS.  While on the TARDIS, the Doctor runs into Tasha Lem, the Mother Superior and chief religious figure of the Church of Papal Mainframe.

Tasha Lem allows Clara and the Doctor to pass through her force field while they investigate a planet with possible Gallifreyan connections.  I don’t want to give away too many spoilers but I will say this, that like last year’s Christmas special, I could understand what was going on, unlike many other times during the Moffatt Era.  I remain a fan of Clara and I hope they make her character stronger.  I liked the way that the 11th Doctor died of old age before his regeneration, and there seem to be some real Star Trek like speculations when it comes to religion such as  “everyone enters the church naked.”  My biggest frustration with  the Moffatt Era continues to be his inability to write women, and much of the time, his portrayals are sexist.  At one point, there’s a disturbing scene where the Doctor kisses Tasha Lem without her consent, and when she confronts him about that fact, the Doctor dismisses her concerns with “humor.”

Much like Moffatt’s dismissal of having a woman Doctor Who (comparing a woman Doctor to a man “playing” the Queen), the Doctor seems not to care for the free will of women like Tasha Lem.  Rape culture dismisses arguments for consent with “she was asking for it.”  I can only hope , that with the new batch of regenerations, Moffatt will choose to make wiser writing choices, and take the sexism out of his story-telling.  As for Capaldi’s 12th/13th Doctor, I wish that they can go back to the Untamed Storm/ angry professor style of Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor. We shall see.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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#DuckDynasty, Evangelicalism and Reality Television as Bizarro World

Bizarro Logo, Man of Steel Style

Image provided by Wak Paper.

Last week, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson made racist comments, and not a single Evangelical Christian leader called him out on it. Not. One. They may have said, well, he might have been a little insensitive. Oh, well that’s implying that racial minorities are being overly sensitive. In a white supremacist culture, the marginalized are always going to be seen as the villains in the story. I have learned to accept this reality the hard way.

Phil Robertson, on the other hand, he’s a real hero. He’s standing up for his sound Christian beliefs. Yes this test for Evangelicals was very easy, as Fred Clark said, it was oh so easy. And evangelicals failed. Miserably. You want racial reconciliation? Challenge influential members of your bodies who have racist beliefs and are spreading them. Telling the truth is the first step to reconciliation, not holding onto lies and false myths of white supremacy.

But even more Bizarro than Phil Robertson’s racist comments was the idea that evangelicals now actually WANT US TO WATCH reality television. But just a few weeks ago, one of evangelicalism’s leaders, Dave Ramsey, condemned watching reality television as the seriously bad habits of lazy poor people. Or is it that evangelicals want us to only watch reality television with THEIR preferred religious superstars, white, conservative, and “truly American?”  Evangelicals had no problem with Sarah Palin having her own reality show before Dave Ramsey gave his advice.  The ads and lifestyles on the show certainly were not geared towards persons with lesser means.  What this all points to is that Evangelical leadership only finds reality television helpful, not if it includes ordinary citizens, but that it is the exclusive property of elite, millionaire, WASP leadership.

Bizarro and Mister Myxlplyx from Superman:The Animated Series

Image from DCAU Wikia

 

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h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

Posted on November 19, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger. Check out part 18: Green Arrow. Check out part 19: the Flash. Check out part 20: Animal Man.

What were the final scores?

In order from least points to most, the scores were:

Iron Man: 1.0666666  points
Phantom Stranger: 3 points
John Constantine: 4 points
Hulk (Mr. Fixit): 4 points
Captain America: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Green Lantern: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Aquaman: 4.5 points
Luke Cage: 4.5 points
Black Canary: 4.5 points
Thor: 5 points
Wolverine: 5 points
Hulk (Smart Hulk): 5 points
Green Arrow: 5 points
Wonder Woman: 5.5 points
Batman: 5.5 points (1 bonus point)
Power Girl: 6 points
Static: 6.5 points
Spider-Man: 7 points
Hulk (Savage Hulk): 7 points
Animal Man: 7 points
Superman: 7 points (1 bonus point)
The Flash: 7.33 1/3 points (1 bonus point)

Before I comment, I want to make a critique of my methods. 

Justice League

Justice League (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, my categories were too binary. There is a large difference, for example, between the worldview of Animal Man and the worldview of Luke Cage, but the binary “yes or no” did not leave much room for exploring that. In fact, I admit I fudged the numbers a bit by using decimals when that binary became too restrictive. If I were to revisit this series again, I would use a scale of some sort, not a yes/no.

Second, this list is nowhere near as diverse as I would have liked. While I did speak about race and gender to some degree, there remains a lack of diversity on my list. Given unlimited time and energy for this project, I should have included Cyborg, Steel, Storm, Black Panther, Falcon, Batgirl/Oracle, Supergirl, Katana, Black Lightning, Vibe, Stargirl, and others as representatives of minorites. But instead, I chose the representatives that I already had some affection for, and contrasted them with the more standard heroes of the Avengers and Justice League.

The "Heroic Age" roster of the Aveng...

The “Heroic Age” roster of the Avengers. Cover art for Avengers vol. 4, #12.1, by Bryan Hitch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Third, there are doubtless many other heroes that I could have reviewed that would have scored much higher than those represented here, and certainly there are heroes that are not represented that are fan-favorites of people very near and dear to me. To you folk, I apologize. I simply ran out of steam for the job, and people were already threatening to boycott Political Jesus if I continued, lol. So perhaps one day, I will give Blue Beetle, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Gambit, Nightwing, and Boris the Beat their due, but it won’t be today.

Conclusion:

Having said all that, I believe that I am in no shape to give a whole-hearted devotion to a super-hero the way I have done for Green Lantern in the past. In dissecting these heroes over the last few months, I have gained an appreciation for them beyond how they fit into my categories. Phantom Stranger and Constantine rated very low, but why do I enjoy reading them so much? Thor rated fairly high, but I have little desire to read his book monthly just because he did well on my list.

Still, there were a few heroes that really outshone the competition and made me appreciate who they are. Spider-Man and Superman are heroes that have always been in my periphery. I tend not to like more mainstream heroes. But I simply cannot deny that they represent the best of who we want to be. I am now committed to diving into their stories a bit more over the coming year. I was surprised Hulk rated so high, but Hulk has always been a favorite of mine, especially in his Savage (childlike) persona.

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, ...

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, #1 (April 2010). Art by Tony Harris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The true front-runner (no pun intended) however, is the Flash. He surprised me. I have been reading a lot of these heroes in preparation for this blog, but I was really struck by the Flash in a way that the others didn’t strike me. In particular, his boundless hope and his humanization of even his enemies, and unwillingness to settle for anything other than the best outcome was truly inspiring. And I don’t mind saying that this is coming at a great time for Flash fans, who have a TV show on the horizon, a great comic to follow, a whole slew of t-shirts to wear, and a new advocate on Political Jesus. The new Flash fan – ME!

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 19, the Flash

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 19, the Flash

Posted on November 19, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger. Check out part 18: Green Arrow.

Flash (Barry Allen)

Flash (Barry Allen) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Flash is no stranger to comics fans, and has been a staple of the medium long before his re-introduction signaled the dawn of the Silver Age of Comics in 1962. With a catchy name, a simple costume, and ability to run at super speeds, this “fastest man alive” has been capturing the imaginations of fans for a long time now. The Flash even had a short-lived TV show in the 80’s and is now poised to have another TV show coming up, already in the works for the CW.

Who is the Flash?

The Flash has had many incarnations, but the most popular and most well known is Barry Allen. Barry is a police forensic investigator. He works in a crime lab. One day, he was working on a case when lightning crashed into his lab, knocking over hyper-charged chemicals onto him. Ever after, he has had the power to run nearly as fast as he wants to and has devoted his life to doing good.

Is this character heroic? Resolutely. Barry always does the right thing. He is yet another example of the superhero who has all of the power to save others, but simply can’t seem to salvage his own social life or prevent disaster in his own sphere. Yet he never stops and always searches for ways to help those who can’t help themselves.  (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Well, I am really struggling to find what I want to say here. In one sense, since he works for the police department, he literally “represents” the powers. Yet, he is constantly subversive to those in power at his precinct. He also has shown that in those cased where the powers turn “evil,” he resists them with all his might. Yet, it can’t be denied that he has an overly optimistic view of the world, and that can lead him, right or wrong, to give the benefit of the doubt to others, even the powers. I’ll throw Flash a bone, but I can’t give a full point. (.33 1/3 points)

Does this character kill? No. In fact, he goes out his way NOT to. He is another one of those heroes that simply refuses to accept that killing someone is the only possible way to achieve a good. The Flash, probably more than any other hero, is committed to applying creativity to every problem and is always successful, or at least is willing to accept the consequences of not killing. And there have been consequences. (1 point)

Does this character have a spirituality? Flash really came into his own during that era where religion wasn’t talked about so much. So, he really hasn’t gotten into his own religious preferences much. While he is a consummate scientist, this does not automatically indicate that he is a strict materialist or agnostic. In fact, the evidence is scarce, but does indicate that Barry is, or was at least raised in, a Christian home, and holds at least a cultural grasp on those values. He has been seen in various incarnations getting married in Christian churches and throughout the years has never disparaged religion of any type. But, there is something else to consider. Flash’s powers have their source in what is called the Speed Force. The Speed Force has acted in the Flash’s comics as a sort of higher power/afterlife/universal truth for the Flash to philosophize against, and so surprisingly, the Flash’s comics are filled with a lot of spiritual questions and dialogue, but in the context of this supernatural phenomenon particular to the Flash. So yeah, I think that qualifies.
(1 point)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Absolutely. One of the Flash’s greatest strengths is that his stories are often easy for writers to pen. That is not to say that lazy writers can’t tell bad stories about Flash. Trust me, they can. But it is to say that his powerset, his relationship with his city and its people, and his rogues gallery are all top notch. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Yes. The Flash has always had a number of others that have shared the spotlight with him. his oft-sidekick Kid Flash is as much the hero of the book as Flash has been, his on/off romance with Iris West allows her to be her own woman as well as a love interest (point of note: Flash is currently dating Patty Spivot, a well-formed character who he works with). His rogues gallery, once again, is among the best in comics, probably only behind Batman and Spiderman, and they are all FULLY fleshed out characters in their own right, thanks to brilliant writers over the years. It isn’t just the writers, though. Flash’s penchant for hope and optimism allow these characters room to grow, as we will see below.  (1 point)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Yep. Just ask Sheldon Cooper.  (1 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Yes. Yes. This is the thing I like most about Flash. I cannot think of another hero that goes so far out of their way not only to  stop villains, not only to not kill them, but also to make every effort to try to redeem them. The Flash is always trying to humanize his rogues gallery, trying to see things from their perspective. He not only tries to help stop them from their crimes, but also tries to help them become better people. He knows them on a personal level. While Spider-Man might be funny as he beats down his foes, Flash is sympathetic, and has even been shown to visit his villains in jail, even reforming them on occasion to become good guys (Pied Piper). This is true gospel stuff, folks. The Flash cares about all things, and hopes for all good things.  (1 Point)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? The Flash’s powers make his stories amazing with potential. He can run so fast that he breaks the speed of light, making time-travel stories possible, if not always common. He often plays with physics and (Flash fact:) we often learn something about the world when he uses his powers in a specific way. Like I said above, even mediocre writers should be able to mine good stories out of his powers.  (1 point)

 

Verdict: 7.33 1/3 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Animal Man…

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 18, Green Arrow

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 18, Green Arrow

Posted on November 18, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger.

Green Arrow

Green Arrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Green Arrow has entered into what can only be described as his Golden Age. Ironic since he has been around since the 40’s. Green Arrow has been on a steady incline in popularity since the Justice League Unlimited cartoon in the 2000’s. He was featured heavily in Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon, and had a very influential run in the later seasons of Smallville. Now, he has his own TV show, and his comic is selling much better than it has in ages.

Who is the Green Arrow?

Oliver Queen is the rich heir to the Queen Corporate empire. He was a selfish playboy in every sense of the word until his luxury yacht was shipwrecked on a remote island. There, he came face to face with a criminal syndicate, and only survived by becoming extraordinarily deadly with a bow and arrow. After many years on the island, Ollie returned to his home city, determined to use his new skills and new outlook on life to better the lives of the downtrodden. Taking the name Green Arrow, as a nod to Robin Hood, he seeks to save those who can’t save themselves.

Is this character heroic? Yeah. he doesn’t have any powers, nor is he the most intelligent hero around, but he has lots of money and a willingness to put himself in harms way in order to do the right thing. He also gets beat up more than any other single hero out there. (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? In most of his incarnations, he fights against the powers, to a fault. In fact, there have been numerous times that he has given up all of his great wealth in order to show solidarity with the poor he sought to save. In his previous incarnation, his story seems to be progressing that way, but hasn’t been realized yet. Still, he is all about shunning his corporate duties to save the oppressed, so we will give him a pass here.  (1 point)

Does this character kill? Yeah. He has. Or does. Or will. But maybe not. Ollie’s relationship with killing is complicated. He doesn’t want to, but his power set is fairly specific, and it seems you can only shoot so many pointy things at people before someone dies. In the comics, he tries to mitigate that in various ways, like trick arrows, etc., but he has killed enough, and has been shown to go against his own “no killing” policy enough that I just can’t give him a point here.  (0 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? Well… not in the traditional sense, no. So no points. BUT, he is the most consistently evangelical superhero ever. He has been shown to be (in most of his incarnations) ultra-leftist/marxist/socialist in so far as he supports redistribution of wealth, fairness for everyone, a disdain for corporate and national interference in nearly any aspect of freedom or life, and he makes sure he can bring others along with him into this view. His current incarnation, as noted above, hasn’t yet been brought to this extreme, but careful readers will see the groundwork being laid.
(0 points)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Yes. Especially lately. As the comics world and the TV world merge, Green Arrow is becoming interesting again. He had fallen into the trap of becoming just a loudmouth hero that critiques everyone else. While that IS important, he really was losing his own narrative arc. Now, in the comics, he has a relatively clean slate and his story and growth arc are just beginning. And it is good. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Getting there. Diggle (from the show) has just been introduced into the comics, as has Moira Queen, his mother. Both of these are welcome additions. However, in the past, Ollie has had a lot of great supporting characters, too. Black Canary, Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow, and even Green Lantern have all been featured alongside Ollie, and he makes them shine just as brightly as he does.  (1 point)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Not really. (0 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Yes, actually. While I don’t self-describe as a leftist, Marxist, or Communist, I can certainly understand what makes him want to. His understanding of corporate/national oppression and his desire to fight against it on behalf of racial/class-based minorities is awesome. He is the only superhero that seems to think and talk about real world issues in a relevant way that doesn’t seem like platitudes, but rather a call to action.    (1 Point)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Meh. He is a “poor” man’s Batman. He was created as such. A rich dude who used gadgets to fight crime with no powers. He was even introduced with an Arrow-car, an Arrow-cave, and a boy sidekick. His powers (trick arrows or not) are not what make him interesting. It is the reason he fights that is interesting. (0 points)

 

Verdict: 5 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of the Flash…

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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