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Friday, July 07, 2006

52, week 9 / The All New Atom #1

*warning, spoilers* First things first: it's official; only 9 weeks into 52, the title has experienced its first, but probably not its last stall. And I'm not just saying that because the Great "Great Ten" Watch is once again left ungratified (although, of course, that is a factor... to ... me...) but because, frankly, I don't think anyone really cares about Natasha Irons and her problems with blood-related authority. Picking up from last week, we are subject to the results of Natasha's silly rebellion against "Uncle John", resulting in her re-birth as the Caitlin Fairchild of the DCU. The only cool aspect of this comic was discovering that John Henry Iron's new Steel-skin actually allows him to control molten metal, a la Magneto in X2. Unfortunately, not much else of note happened in 52 except that the Question and Montoya are re-united and we see Batwoman's first (no lines) appearance. Since the New York Times article and the appearance of Kate Kane in week 8, this was a lacklustre cliffhanger. I was more interested in the twisted episode of Dawson's Creek that has become Teen Titans (except, y'know, Dawson's dead) -- for all of you who picked up #137: how messed up was that last page? Of all things that should never happen but you knew was gonna happen anyways. So, instead, this week marked the release of the long-awaited The All New Atom #1 (henceforth referred to as ANA#1, because even typing as fast as I do, that title is a bitch to write over and over again), featuring the first-ever Korean American superhero!! Or, does it? (And before, I begin, let me just bitch about how tough it was to get my grubby little hands on this issue. First I forgot that due to Independence Day, New Comics Day was Thursday, so I went to my comic store yesterday, only to be sorely disappointed. Then, I went today and my store had sold out of ANA#1 within two hours of shelving. So, I bolted across town to the comic shop I never go to 'cuz they, like, can't socialize with non-fanboys where I was finally able to get a copy of this issue. But not before scraping my leg on my car-door. Badly.) I read through this issue a couple of times to make sure I could judge it objectively. I even stared at Cary Tagawa's halfway-to-bucked-tooth mug on the cover, hoping he could lend some insight. But, it really took writing this post to help me organize my thoughts on ANA#1. First things first: I think this issue would have been about a thousand times better if they did away with John Byrne's art. John Byrne is a heavy-hitter in the comics world, but I just don't think his style does justice to the themes of this book (which does a better job than many DCU titles in mixing real-world science, science history (via the quotes) and comic superheroism). The stylized, two-dimensional cartoonish look of this book is all wrong for the writing -- with such fantastical images available to a comic regularly delving into incredibly, visually impacting microscopic worlds, this book would be best suited to someone who can render that level of comic-book realism while still inspiring a sense of visual awe. I might even suggest going with a painting style (like from one of those Alex Ross knock-offs or even cover artist Olivetti... if Olivetti ever learns to paint a Korean American who doesn't look like Cary Tagawa). Next, I just have to say that I very much enjoyed the writing "quirks" of this book. I enjoyed the opening page prefaced by a writing style reminiscent of an exam or essay question -- fitting well with what seems to be a general theme tying the book closely to research and academia (one of the main reasons as to why I should probably follow this book). I like the intermixing of real-world quotes to give different perspectives on dialogue (although electroman found it a little unwieldy). I even liked having the "flash-forward"/"flash-backward" approach showing the apocalyptic future before even introducing our hero -- this sets the mood that though very little of "consequence" occurs in this issue, we'd better prepare ourselves for some madly relevant shit about to go down. It nicely keeps us focused for what would otherwise be a generic "regular boy gets superpowers" story. As for the invasion thing itself (I have to go back and re-read BNW to remind myself of the specifics), I'm a little hesitant about throwing myself into this one. Okay, so on page 2, we're treated with a tied up JLA, and that's pretty scary. But... dogs? Wasn't this an old Disney movie? It's clever and certainly hasn't really been done, but I'm kind of worried that ANA#5 is going to feature the never-before-seen, death-defying, edge-of-your-seat Atom/Krypto team-up. Also lending food for thought was the prologue scene in which we see young Ryan Choi training in the martial arts in Hong Kong along with some other teenaged boys. If Ryan is in his late twenties or early-thirties (as feasibility requires for anyone, even a boy genius, to be appointed to an assistant professorship), this is Ryan at age fourteen to sixteen. I liked the three or four panels dedicated to the two boys who want to pretend to be Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, and their taunting of Ryan for his interests in science. It demonstrates to the reader that though Ryan is trained in martial arts, he's not going to be that good -- and it takes the model minority myth down a notch by showing a couple of Asian guys who (by implication) aren't all about math and science. This is further reinforced by Ryan's statement that his interest in science has rendered him "weird". But, I also had a few questions: 1) why is a Korean boy being raised in Hong Kong? and 2) why does Ryan's dad look like a younger version of my dad??? It's really scary. However, when we skip to the present day, we are also treated with some other information: Ryan Choi, although sold to us as a Korean American superhero, is, in fact, not Korean American at all. He's Korean-Chinese (assuming his nationality to be Chinese since he was raised in Hong Kong). This is something of a disappointment to me; I had really hoped that Ryan Choi would be seen by DC as an opportunity to create and write a truly Asian American superhero. It seems that, yet again, we are going to have to look at Grace Choi as pretty much our only contemporary, prominent face in comics. That doesn't mean that Ryan Choi is a wash. Even though he's the F.O.B. superhero, this still gives writers the opportunity to write a decent "Coming to America" storyline. It will give the writers the opportunity to write about the difficulties and adjustment that comes with immigration to America. Perhaps the immigration narrative will finally be treated in comics as more than just a peaches 'n cream experience. Nonetheless, as of right now, Ryan seems unnaturally well-adjusted to America for having just landed, Fresh Off the Boat. [As an aside, while I have the comic turned to the first "present day" page, did anyone get the "Bleed Nun Artifice" line? 'Cuz I've read it three or four times now, and I feel real stupid that I don't understand it.] Next, I'm reminded of the panel that I highlighted in my last post about ANA, in which I highlighted two college-aged women going goo-goo over Ryan's appearance at the university. Although the women were obviously used as a recurring plot device to underscore Ryan's physical attractiveness (striking a blow to the demasculinized Asian male stereotype!), I still have to express concern about the role of women in this title. In this issue, we pretty much see only two women (not counting Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl who are part of the JLA groupshot), and these women only have two lines each (and one of them is a girlish giggle). In both cases, these women are shown expressing a sexual attraction to Ryan Choi (ew! pedophilia! ew! -- oh wait, even though he still looks fourteen, he's not anymore. I keep having to remind myself of that fact. I do like that Ryan's young appearance is addressed at some point in some exchange between two characters, though.) The blonde even suggests changing a major to pursue Ryan. This sends the message that in academia, female students are uncommitted, more interested in chasing ass than pursuing knowledge, and flighty enough to switch a major for a man. This isn't helped by the fact that Ryan is immediately (and rather forcibly) surrounded by an Old Boys' Network of scientists -- nary a single woman in sight. Still, I could see this being an intentional plot point which will later be used to address the sexism of academia. And I can hope that that's going to be the case -- I would love to see this comic discuss in future issues the obstacles still faced by women in science. The bulk of the comic tells the "secret origin" of the new Atom. Basically, he is in close contact with the old Ray Palmer, he finds Ray's old belt. He screws around with some of the buttons (no self-respecting scientist would do that, by the way) and he shrinks down, all naked-like to become lost in his clothes. (Incidentally, as far as I'm concerned, this is not an experiment, and Ryan could not write a paper on this experience. Nonetheless, it does establish that Ryan shares Ray's scientific curiousity, something I can relate to) Again, this entire scene would have been benefitted by a more realistic artistic style -- this page could have truly capture how cool a microscopic world of 50% polymer would look, but instead, we have some vortex-y swirls of red. After covering up his "guy stuff" (I had to wonder why Ryan would even bother to stop and clothe himself when he was just gonna try and return to normal size), Ryan fumbles around and eventually makes his way to the Atom belt which had been dropped on the floor in the harrowing experience of being unexpectedly shrunken. Ryan is confronted by a rat in the single action scene of the story, but saves himself before he is eaten (rendering him, once more, unexpectedly naked. And again, I had to fight off the unpleasant sensation of nigh-pedophilia since Ryan still looks fourteen). [Okay, at this point I am going to make the most pettiest of comments I can make on this issue. It's nit-picky, it's silly, it's irrelevant, I know! But scientists do not talk of "putting down" animals. We use the term "sacrifice", or "sack" for short. Sometimes we "euthanize" -- we almost never "put them down". And under what circumstances was Ryan, as a nuclear physicist, using animals in his experiments, anyways? Should I be calling PETA?] Okay, then we establish that the Ol' Boys' Network will probably make future appearances in the ANA title, since Ryan almost immediately runs to them to see if they can screw around with and improve the Belt of Shrinking (I want to work at Ivy University, where professional competitiveness is apparently never an issue). However, this isn't much of a secret as we've already seen Ryan's Mystery Science Theatre at full force in Brave New World. Overall, I have to say that it was better to read this issue cover-to-cover (lending credence to the idea that one should never pay attention to preview pages). While the story still has a few problems of "hookability" (at least to me -- I much prefer stories of questionable morality and explorations of the human psyche, hence my love for Batman), the issue was certainly much more intriguing than I originally gave it credit for. I am interested to see what DC does with Ryan Choi, especially considering that, for all the similarities in powers, Ryan definitely has a different personality than Ray Palmer and will hopefully approach "superheroing" differently. I still worry about the "Ultimate Peter Parker" factor, and this dog thing has me uneasy. And the art has just got to go. But I think Gail Simone has a few cards up her sleeve, and despite my wariness (and general lack of funds) I think I am just curious enough to buy ANA#2. At the very least, I do see potential. And I guess that's all anyone can really ask from a first issue of a new title.

26 Comments:

Blogger William said...

My "recent comment" was banished! Fine, if the site's gonna play hardball, I'll just repost :-P

Anyways, I really enjoyed it. One thing that I'm surprised Gail didn't point out was the fact that Ryan is Asian, but NOT Asian-American. He'd been labeled as such in the media, but the opening of the issue clarified that.

Also, I had no idea who Cary Tagawa was, and didn't research him, but the minute I saw the cover, I thought, "Oh, THAT guy!"

All in all, it's got me hungry for more. And oddly enough, it made me want to know more about Ray Palmer. I feel that, out of all of the JLA-caliber heroes, Ray Palmer's Atom is on the D-list with orange shirt Aquaman and Connor Hawke's GA II. He rarely had a chance to shine. It would be a shame if this series turned out to merely be a vehicle for his return because I'm really looking forward to learning more about Ryan. All in all, I'll be back for #2.

7/07/2006 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger The Video Store Girl said...

Great review --
--the whole was he Korean or Chinese thing threw me too. I have a best friend who's Korean and he was psyched about the book & then he was like -- hey, that's Hong Kong!
Wasn't Milestone's "Xombi" Korean? I'm not sure if he was a superhero or more like a hero in a horror-type comic, but...

7/08/2006 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

well, it's possible that ryan's family moved to hong kong for reasons unknown...

this probably should be addressed in the title at some point...

7/08/2006 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If those coeds think Cary Tagawa is hot they must be into some rough trade.

Ariel Olivetti can't even do the research to find an Korean/Korean American actor to trace over and do his eye-slanting "adjustments"--do you think he'd be able to research real microscopic vistas? I'm just going to keep mentioning that Olivetti is an asshole for his covers. Byrne gets heat for his racist comments--I want the same reception to Olivetti.

Ariel Olivetti, you're an asshole.

7/09/2006 12:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

Indeed he is, Valerie. It was fairly surprising since it wasn't all that popular but then again Milestone was about experimentation.

Jenn, when I was in Hong Kong I knew a few Koreans and Japanese that were there for various reasons (mostly to do with their parents, I'd guess). They're not the majority by any means (there's my understatement of the year) but they were there. It's perfectly plausible for Ryan Choi to grow up the way he did - I'm just not sure we want to get to the border cases before hitting the main case. Part of the reason is that we already have a lot of heroes from Hong Kong and Asia, and very few from the U.S. proper.

Anyways, on a semirelated note, there was a rumour last year that Gail was going to write the relaunched Gen13 series this year but nothing's come up. The artist they have in the rumour, Talent Caldwell, looks pretty good. Oh, do you accept Wildstorm as part of DCU? There's probably a few guys you could yoink onto the Outsiders page.

7/09/2006 03:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Loren Javier said...

This was a great read, Jenn. BTW, I quoted you in my most recent ONE DIVERSE COMIC BOOK NATION column:

http://www.wayneenterprise.org/columns/viewcolumn.php?id=10

7/09/2006 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

I was thrown by the Hong Kong childhood scenes, but i'm not sure he's fresh off the boat. He's new in Ivy Town but he talks like an American. I figured he'd been in the country for much of his adult life already.

But on second read, it looks like I'm wrong because of the little part with the cabbie and his moeny being off, and the part about his mother's death being so recent.

I'm a bit disappointed he wasn't native-born myself, but if he's a naturalized immigrant he's still Asian-American, so I can see why no one corrected that to Asian before.

7/11/2006 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Atom #1 requires better art - there's no way this book will hold anyone's interest with the childlike scribbles John Byrne calls comic panels.

It's not going to happen.

In fact, now that I've seen the first issue, the only art I liked was the cover. I know some consider that a graphic arts hate crime, but it paints Ryan Choi as a powerful, muscular adult, not the prepubescent Lost Boy we see within, happy to follow in his absentee mentor's footsteps. Hell, Byrne's depiction of Ryan Choi would arouse Michael Jackson, not those two collegiate groupies in the book.

And the scientific quotes would have been rather cool, if they seemed like Ryan's own internal monologue, and not just random quotes.

Overall, I'll buy number 2, but Byrne's art treats the book without seriousness, and the introduction of a new character demands a certain respect. We'll see if the All New Atom receives this eventually.

7/11/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be addressed, but a couple times here I've seen it referred to that Ryan was presented as Korean American. If that's the case, DC slipped, but I haven't seen that anywhere. I do get that Ryan is more COMMONLY a Korean surname, but not exclusively. But there's a bit more here than has been presented.

And I did want someone born in the Kowloon area for a multitude of reasons. I understand the skepticism is born of having been disappointed in the past, but I do wish people would drop the notion that Ryan represents liberal guilt alone. I find that massively insulting and offensive, and frankly, a little bit of a sad platform to jump to with no evidence whatsoever.

Gail

7/11/2006 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

"I do wish people would drop the notion that Ryan represents liberal guilt alone."

I don't think I'm understanding... are you saying that you object to discussion of Ryan's political impact because it suggests that Ryan was only created to diversify the DCU?

7/11/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Jenn, and I don't think my comment needs to be twisted to be understood, frankly, either.

Here's a comment someone made and your response.

""I don't necessarily think DC's multicultural intiative is all that altruistic, either. As other comics commenters have pointed out, why would you need to go to the New York Times whenever you're coming out with a new lesbian or ethnic character? Can you imagine how stupid that would look were it any other medium? What if CSI put out a press release saying "Look, we have a black character in our show! Aren't we great?""

To which you responded:

"Amen. It's absolutely not altruistic. It's a giant White liberal pat on the back."


And I call you on this. First, I find it unbelievably insulting, but even moreso, where exactly did you get your facts for such a harsh and final analysis?

Before I went pro, one of my biggest complaints in comics was that it's a vast sea of straight white guy characters, and that bothered me for reasons far beyond liberal guilt. It bothered me because it's excusionary, because it does a huge disservice to comics readers of all stripes, because it's a piss-poor representation of reality, because I wanted to read more variety of character, and because it's an insult to every reader, in my opinion, to present such an archaic and skewed face to the potential readership (as well as the existing one) out there.

When you talk big as a reader, you can't just drop your ideals when you turn pro, not without being a cad. It is just plain annoying to have motivations made up for me and for people at DC that you don't know at all, Jenn. The people behind the scenes at DC are a very diverse group of people...is it not just barely possible that we want comics to catch up with reality in some small way?

No, even a sincere attempt to improve the situation MUST be no more than fake liberal guilt. Why? Because Jenn said so?

I'm sorry, I enjoy your blog, and I can handle misguided assumptions, but I don't know how you can look at the effort put out by some really stellar creators to bring more flavors than vanilla to the market and label it all just liberal lip service.

That's all. You've found a lot to be offended by, some of it quite at odds with what I think is actually in the book. That's all fair game, and I have no problem with it. But this one comment I felt was very unfair and completely unfounded.

No harm done, but that's how I feel. Not trying to be defensive or adversarial.

Best wishes,

Gail

7/11/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

OK, first off, for the Byrne haters, the rumor mill indicates that he's off the book by issue #6. He's not DC's favorite son at the moment due to some stuff surrounding "Superman Returns" commitments being dropped. I'm not a fan of Byrne's art because it's too much of a Jurgens/Perez hybrid. I know he'd find that insulting since he came before them, but that trifecta represents detailed art which is flat on the page. It's clear that it's intricate, but it's not kinetic.

As far as this Atom argument, you're new here, Gail, so allow me to help you cross the river Styx. There's no way to "win" on this site, nor will there be the "agree to disagree" option. I'm kinda scared that the heat's been turned up on this one. However, you're the first pro who's graced this page, so maybe the response will be different. Either way, I'll be hiding behind that desk over there...

7/11/2006 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Will, what do you mean there's no way to "agree to disagree"? You're making me out to be some kind of gigantic, nine-headed monster who eats commentors for brunch. I'm so not (and you know better). I certainly am not the kind of petty opinion-maker with a soapbox looking to bludgeon people to death with my thoughts -- the whole point of this blog is, imo, for people to share ideas. If that means that your opinions are challenged periodically, then that's part of democratic debate. I agree no one will "win" ('cuz there's no referee or point system here), but this blog is ALL about "agreeing to disagree". I certainly also object to the suggestion that because Gail is a "pro" (and not as in "prostitute" which took me a minute to get), that I wouldn't treat her with the same respect and challenge her opinions as I would anyone else.

Gail, I do think that the article published in the NYTimes was somewhat disengenous. Call it skepticism of Grant Morrison, but I found it difficult to stomach that Morrison would couple an applause of DCU's forthcoming racial diversity with heralding the offensive stereotypes that are the Great Ten. I don't know Morrison as a person, and I have liked much of his writing in the past, but it was extremely disheartening to find such intentional or unintentional racial insensitivity in an article that should have been all about breaking new ground and seeing something different.

I love comics. I respect the people in comics. I applaud the idea behind diversifying comics to include people who look and act like me. I grew up in an age when the only Asian American I could related to was Dante Basco in Disney's Hook so I'm all too aware of how crucial it is to have comic books reflect reality, particularly for young Asian American kids. That's why Ryan Choi is getting the kind of attention he is -- he represents (or at least represented) a crucial step-forward for the politicized APIA movement.

Whether you intended to or not, you've stepped into a firestorm, and no matter who was at the helm of the ANA title, APIA bloggers would probably be paying attention and commenting with what they like and don't like, just as they are now. Some are excited, some are apprehensive, but from my brief skimming of those of us talking about Ryan, we're all eager to see what happens next before we make any "final judgements".

That being said, as of right now, I question DCU's motives for drawing attention to their diversification efforts. If it were truly about having comics reflect reality, then such commendable efforts wouldn't require a big name like Morrison to go to the NYTimes and draw attention to it. There shouldn't have been a "hey, look at us! we're being racially and sexually diverse!!" -- to me, that was a little patronizing of DC, especially considering that the Great Ten was particularly singled out as an example of the diversification, and yet (as of right now) they are a mixed up grab-bag of offensive stereotypes. To me, the only people who need to draw specific attention to their diversity efforts are those who want to, in some sense, validate their White liberalism. That is why it seemed insincere. That is why this whole effort seems like little more than DC seeking a big pat on the back for introducing a lesbian and a few new characters of colour.

On to ANA, I didn't try to offend or hurt you in any way, and I apologize if it was taken as such. I actually agreed that, in general, I really liked the writing, and was optimistic about the title and where it would go next. Unlike the Great Ten -- for whom I am nearly certain will not turn out well -- I've been pleasantly surprised with Ryan Choi. Although I do have some misgivings about the DCU "divsersification efforts", if characters like Ryan are going to be the ultimate result of the effort, who am I to complain about why (or under what circumstances) he was created, if he ends up doing good for the APIA movement?

I think any character born into such infamy and cursed from his entrance with such a critical gaze is going to be the subject of some apprehension and indeed criticism. I appreciate that you take the time to read these thoughts Gail (when I certainly appreciate that you don't have to and indeed, even if it hasn't been said, I'm really honoured that you do), even if they seem overly harsh. I can only ask that you remember how important Ryan is to our movement -- these words come from concern and frustration within our community. These words come from disgust at current mainstream representation and distrust of future treatments of our people. We've been caricatured, yellow-skinned and buck-toothed, for so long, that this time, we are hopeful that we might see it done right. We can't ask much else from you other than remembering this -- Ryan's influence to us.

I hope this sheds some light on the disconnect. And if we end up agreeing to disagree, than that would be a happy compromise for me, so long as we've heard each other speak. Certainly, you've given me some food for thought, especially considering that what you have represented from the backrooms of DCU differs from public representation of the diversification efforts. And, in the end, I know that I'm still happily anticipating ANA#2.

7/11/2006 01:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have unfortunately gathered that facts that run contrary to Jenn's opinions are quite unwelcome here, but I still feel it's worth saying that her blanket condemnation of DC's motives is utter fantasy based on nothing whatsoever, and I do find that offensive.

Again, I do enjoy reading her blog and no one's saying she's not committed or intelligent. But in this case, she's dead wrong.

Gail

7/11/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I frankly do not think I am unwelcome to dissenting facts or opinion.

However, I think it's possible to be both welcoming and in strong disagreement to them. To me, "unwelcoming" of facts that run contrary to my opinions would be deleting said comments or banning said commentors.

As I have repeatedly said, ultimately, I want to wait and see what happens next. I fail to see how this is "unwelcome".

And just to put it out there -- this blog has been the target of numerous firestorms of trollers, some 200 comments on a single post calling me various sexist and racist names and all presenting hateful, hurtful language couched in dissenting opinion. They are untouched and still up for your perusal, and are in fact, still welcome.

I really fail to see, short of kow-towing to others' opinions and writing exactly what this blog's readers want to hear (rather than what I think), how much more welcoming this blog can be.

... and will, because you actually know me in real life, what you said above is possibly one of the most hurtful things you've said to me in a long time.

7/11/2006 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"No, even a sincere attempt to improve the situation MUST be no more than fake liberal guilt. Why? Because Jenn said so?

I'm sorry, I enjoy your blog, and I can handle misguided assumptions, but I don't know how you can look at the effort put out by some really stellar creators to bring more flavors than vanilla to the market and label it all just liberal lip service.
" - Gail

Character diversification in comics becomes liberal lip service when the new character's melanin only travels skin deep. New faces in the DCU that are yellow, red, brown, and black offer new conceptions on heroism and bravery and sacrifice, unforeseen interpersonal dramas and cultural conflicts. The downside, frankly, is that intention is irrelevant: if DC gets the politics wrong, or doesn't care to learn about the constituencies they represent in their issues, then they are reasonably subject to criticism.

And after Firestorm, it's hard not to call this liberal White guilt. We've seen writers discuss homophobic hate crimes, read brilliant and disgusting comic uses of sexual violence against women. Readers are challenged to accept all manner of fictional difference, but when people of color are discussed, we see the same old stereotypes.

Ronnie Raymond dies in Identity Crisis, only to be replaced by the African American Jason Rusch. Within six issues, Rusch appears wearing a chicken suit. Any rudimentary perusal of African American pop culture would involve the minstrel shows where images of a Black man wearing a chicken suit would be acknowledged as racist. Somehow, DC forgot this.

And the Great Ten, bandied about as members of DC's new color consciousness. You can't justify that team - it's like someone congealed every racist stereotype of Chinese people into one group, and then gave them all superpowers. Mother of Champions is a broodmare for superhumans, her only metahuman ability involves her uterus! Where's the feminist outcry within DC over that?

Look, it's liberal White guilt that asserts that simply showing non-White faces is enough to fulfill the modern-day comics affirmative action quota. Identity politics are too important to gloss over as if the simple appearance of non-White characters automatically makes DC Comics beyond reproach.

Ms. Simone, when Ryan Choi becomes a real person of Asian decent, then we can applaud. So far, the All New Atom is the Yellow Archie Andrews.

7/11/2006 08:47:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"As far as this Atom argument, you're new here, Gail, so allow me to help you cross the river Styx. There's no way to "win" on this site, nor will there be the "agree to disagree" option. I'm kinda scared that the heat's been turned up on this one. However, you're the first pro who's graced this page, so maybe the response will be different. Either way, I'll be hiding behind that desk over there..." - Will

"I have unfortunately gathered that facts that run contrary to Jenn's opinions are quite unwelcome here, but I still feel it's worth saying that her blanket condemnation of DC's motives is utter fantasy based on nothing whatsoever, and I do find that offensive.

Again, I do enjoy reading her blog and no one's saying she's not committed or intelligent. But in this case, she's dead wrong.
" - Gail Simone

William, you know better. You have the experience with this blog to realize that all opinions are welcome here, no matter how radical or minority. Jenn's better about that than I am on my blog - I'm nowhere near as open-minded about public idiocy. Your statement presents a clear and deliberate character attack, an utterly demeaning and useless slight based on absolutely nothing. Will, you're my man, but this was a childish statement. Are you so starstruck by a comics writer that you're willing to outright lie about your friend's blog?

Further, public debate has nothing to do with "winning"; people expose their perspectives on various issues and others examine their logic. No one "wins", and anyone unwilling to allow their perspectives to be judged via online scrutiny are free at any time to depart the arena.

Will, you have no right to characterize this blog as intolerant for any reason. If you can't handle it when people debate your views, don't talk.

And Ms. Simone, I doubt you've read enough of this blog to make your assertions. If you take offense that your company has been described as publicity-seeking over it's new diversifying, then how would you explain the news coverage over the Great Ten and the new Batwoman? Sure, I think Jeanne Moos CNN interview with Dan Didio proved more about the general public's perverse love for illicit lesbian erotica than DC's "aren't we great!" cosmopolitan liberalism, but when the brainchild of the All New Atom is the same creator responsible for the Great Ten, any logical comics reader interested in Asian/ Asian American pop culture portrayals would reasonably analyze both comics in terms of their possible racial stereotyping.

If DC can't handle political scrutiny over it's writing, why make comics?

Simply put Ms. Simone, bloggers who express cynicism over DC's diversifying motives are not antagonistic or intolerant. They are adults. Adults who love comics, and respect the medium's ability to challenge prevailing truths and articulate human phenomena. I've never seen a more despondent and realistic Reaganomics dystopia than Gotham City in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Alan Moore's V for Vendetta offers the finest comics interpretation of the Orwellian critique of fascism I've ever come across. The point? Issues involving race in America have yet to produce a DKR or a Vendetta within mainstream comics. Most often, we've seen hesitant, halting portrayals of minorities that either exude racist prejudice or deliver Bryant Gumbel demeanor, a moral, meek, impossibly articulate colored superhero who serves truth, justice, and the American way, without any mention of race whatsoever.

If this is too harsh, I think DC will survive; I buy enough of their product. No more Rainbow Coalition DCU - superheroes of every color and hue are not worth the paper they are printed on without their politics. By the way, that's tolerance talking.

7/11/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

it has really weighed on my mind all day that this blog is characterized as unwelcoming. i've tossed this over and over in my mind, and aside from finding my feelings very hurt by you, will, it has troubled me that i really don't know what else can be done to resolve this problem.

since its inception, i've actively tried to maintain a forum where no comment is deleted, no visitor unwanted. i have long touted the blogosphere as a medium that can trigger real debate, so it matters a great deal to me if visitors are feeling like they can't say what they honestly feel.

the last thing i ever wanted to become was to run a blog in which i got a bunch of yes-men agreeing to every post and no one saying anything of particular relevance. to me, that's not sharing ideas -- no one's learning anything from one another if everyone is repeating one another. i much prefer the dissenting posts to the agreeable ones -- it's saddening to think that this wonderful dialogue is being construed by others as unwelcoming.

so, if you have honestly found this blog "unwelcoming" (as opposed to challenging) i honestly want to know what more to the blog's commenting policy should be done. i really want to know how to improve this site to ensure a welcoming atmosphere to debate (short of asking me to give up vocalizing my opinions).

7/11/2006 11:19:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

It's funny how people can read between the lines. Nowhere in my comment did I mention YOU, Jenn. I meant the site. It's akin to someone throwing a party that gets out of hand, and the cops are called. The only fault on the host's part is merely the fact that they hosted the party.

I will, however, point out that there are not equal reactions on this site. I could post as myself, or post the same thing an "anonymous", and they would yield different results. James once told me that he pushes me because he "expects more" from me. Thanks, Professor Zoom...

As far as my "you can't win" comment, well...you can't. Nothing's ever finished, nor is disagreement agreed upon because things just drag on until the next controversial post gets people's attention. I know that there's no final word on any of these posts, but some people fire with more vigor than others. There is a difference between saying "I don't agree" and saying "you're simply wrong". In this kind of forum, no one can be comeplete wrong because we all bring different perspectives to the table. But, on both sides, I've seen, "You're wrong, and that's all there is to it." I have witnessed and been involved in discussions here where two sides are actually saying the same thing, yet somehow an argument erupts.

I'm not starstruck. Gail shits the same way we all do, unless Warner Bros is a much more powerful company than I give them credit for. Y'all do more arguing over what Morrison meant than simply finding a way to ask him. Gail actually came on here to answer your questions, when she could have just John Byrne'd you and mocked you on her own site. As far as that goes, I feel like she can't win because she's not Asian, so her perspective is gonna be deemed "exotic", while she'd be considered a sell-out were she Asian. Either way, it sounds like you've pretty much decided you don't like the character, or he's at least got a long way to climb in your book.. It doesn't get more "horse's mouth" than the writer, but that still hasn't assuaged any fears. My point was about the site. Its climate has changed. Where's the old guard? The Tekanji? The Sour Duck? Hey, things change and that's cool, but there don't seem to be many dissenting opinions anymore. There's PhillyJay, who's comments commonly are either brushed aside or he's admonished. Other than that, the site has become preaching to the choir. When I say that, though, it's not blaming you. In a sense, we're all to blame. But, lighten up, Jenn. You're just throwing the party. You're not the reason I called the cops...

7/12/2006 12:52:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Prof. Zoom? I thought I'd be more Lex Luthor. But Will, you're a smart brother who can handle real world debate. You have to know that no one here's trying to attack you or shut down your views.

Look, I just don't see the standardized thought process at work, especially here. It's not like anyone said DC was a Whites Only company - Marvel Comics' holds that down nicely.

It's just that I'm surprised when people assume that disagreement means attack. Ms. Simone assumed that a characterization of her company's diversity p.r. was an egregious diss, just because none of us know the hearts and minds of DC creators.

Her opinion was her opinion; the idea that she'd be unable to have that opinion undergo reasoned discourse from people who were not hellbent on securing the last and all-powerful final word does not compute, in my opinion.

Ms. Simone had not been shut down, silenced, or otherwise censored, so the idea that no one would respect her views was absurd. Maybe you didn't mean any harm, but I think that people are always going to assert themselves with differing vigor; that's life. Still, I think most folk can handle general debate. Including Ms. Simone.

7/12/2006 01:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Choi can be a Cantonese surname. In Mandarin, that's Cai, or Tsai, for all you Taiwan people. The Chinese character is 蔡.

- SWK

7/13/2006 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger Scipio said...

"did anyone get the "Bleed Nun Artifice" line? 'Cuz I've read it three or four times now, and I feel real stupid that I don't understand it."

Bleed nun artifice, like the later message that Ray left on the pin (or that Ryan assumes was left by Ray), is an anagram. Specifically, an anagram of "under file cabinet".

Which leads me to suspect that the message may actually be coming from the Evil Tiny Ones.

I have never seen any statement from DC that Ryan was Korean. I assumed he was supposed to be Chinese (as everything in the text suggests) and that DC simply chose the wrong name for him, which, while not ideal, is at least a step up from "Pieface" and "Chop Chop".

As for the dogs, they are being mind-controlled by the Evil Tiny Ones, as "Brave New World" prepared us to expect.

7/13/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

SWK is right, Choi can be Cantonese, which might fit into the being from Hong Kong thing.

Ryan Choi first surfaced (amongst Asian American communities) as being identified as Korean American in a few reputable (as far as APIA news is concerned) sources: namely AsianWeek and AngryAsianMan (it's somewhere in Angry Asian Man's archives, but he doesn't have permalinks so I can't find it).

7/13/2006 02:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Scipio -- Thanks for the anagram thing :) I totally thought it was some obscure Atom reference or a pop culture joke I didn't get...

7/13/2006 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous philly jay said...

Off topic

Hey, I'm not destroyed or brushed aside!At least I don't think I am......

7/18/2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

philly, i never thought you were. i like hearing what you have to say -- you're always very challenging, as well as one of my oldest, dearest readers :)

i think you were my first non-RL regular!!! you need a special hat to reflect that status...

7/18/2006 12:29:00 PM  

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