Friday, July 28, 2006

Checkmate #4

My apologies for not having having a better reaction time, but bills and stuff have forced me to budget my money and essentially cut out almost all comic book spending (or really any spending of any kind). As such, I wasn't able to purchase my new comics untila couple of weeks after initial release. I won't be able to pick up my next batch of comics for another two weeks. Nonetheless, what follows is another installment of the Great Great Ten Watch. We saw a reappearance of the Great Ten in Checkmate #3 with a brief appearance of Immortal Man in Darkness on the very last page of the book. Checkmante #4 represents our first view of the Great Ten in the post-52 world, informing us that at least some of the Great Ten characters survive those events. In Checkmate #4, Checkmate battles four members of the Great Ten: Immortal Man in Darkness, August General in Iron, the Celestial Archer, and the Accomplished Perfect Physician. We learn some new things about the characters. First of all, Accomplished Perfect Physician has incredible control over sound, and is able to use it to control his opponent's physiology (although how this is accomplished remains to be seen). We see also that the Celestial Archer is, uhm, well an archer but seems to use his arrows as wastefully as Sasha Bordeaux uses her bullets. Any connection to Chinese mythology is still unclear, but he definitely needs to work on his mid-battle, witty banter (as does Sasha, herself, as their exchange makes almost no sense and sounds silly to boot). We also see in this issue that the Great Ten is still plagued with problems of bureaucracy as they are stuck waiting for hours with the Checkmate field operatives at gunpoint waiting approval to continue the battle. The issue spends some time establishing a more social relationship between the members of Checkmate and the Great Ten as they bide the time, and we start to see a human face behind these superheroes, but still it is hard to distinguish their personalities. The issue does expose one of the greatest mysteries of the Great Ten -- the issue implies that at least two of the Great Ten (Immortal Man in Darkness and the August General in Iron) obtained their powers not from China's own technological advances or achievements, but from the illegal misappropriation of alien technology. This seems to suggest that China didn't deserve to have superheroes, in their own right, but "stole" the powers through subversive and morally suspect tactics. Sufficed to say, I'm not thrilled with this turn of events: if DC comics was going to create a group of stereotypical, damn-near-racist caricatures of a Chinese superhero team, could we at least be competent enough to develop our superheroes by ourselves, and not have to steal the abilities from others? I'm still curious to know why Morrisson created ten superheroes, but only four of them have graced more than a single page. What about Ghost Fox Killer? The Seven Deadly Brothers? The horrific Mother of Champions? I'm tired of reading about Immortal Man in Darkness and August General in Iron -- it's time to find out about the characters that have created the most controversy.


Blogger Justin said...

But...but...China's where all the pirated DVDs come from! So of course they'd have pirated superpeople!

I do like the Archer, though. Whatever the superteam, the guy with the arrows is the rebel.

7/28/2006 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

I don't know, contrasted with how America comes off in Green Lantern, China's superhuman program doesn't look so much worse. The US was using Manhunter technology for it's military weapons. And most of the superheroes in the US have stolen alien tech (The Watchtower used Martian tech not from J'onn's brain, but from a cadre of Whtie Martians they defeated) or stolen future tech (Boster), or stolen from their family tech (Stargirl).

I'd say those two members of the Great Ten got powers in a normal DC way.

7/29/2006 03:31:00 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Ack, Typo Hell. Sorry!

7/29/2006 03:32:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Really? Interesting -- I hadn't realized that there was so much stolen alien tech in the DCU. I'd be interested to see if/when this becomes a problem for China whether they will make that same point that you did.

7/29/2006 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Jenn -- I hope they do. Green Lantern was pretty adamant they shouldn't have been messing wth that Tech, but he also helped them lock all of the stuff they'd collected up (very much doubt it will be untouched).

DC's writers, as a whole, like to poke at governments. Right now, Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters (which, sadly, I can't bring myself to read because of the art) are set up to deal with major internal corruption. I'd be very much surprised if we didn't see any more US government organizations using stolen Alien Tech.

7/30/2006 11:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This seems to suggest that China didn't deserve to have superheroes, in their own right, but "stole" the powers through subversive and morally suspect tactics."
--I disagree. Creating superheroes from alien technology is a common theme of comicbooks. Look at Captain Atom; he gained his powers from an experiment the U.S. government performed on him using alien metal.

8/04/2006 10:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, shouldn't we separate the average Chinese person from the Chinese government? The government of the PRC is a brutal dictatorship that oppressed it's people for 50 years. Journalists have been imprisoned. Dissidents are still sent to prison on trumped up charges. Prison inmates have been executed and their organs sold.

In the past, the Soviet Union received due slapping around in comics as has the United States. Marvel and DC have explored corrupt and evil government practices. (Hell, the X-Men showed a whole future where the U.S. practiced genocide against mutants.)

8/06/2006 02:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't want to defend racism but i think it was supposed to be an allegory to china's real life practice of illegal organ harvesting

8/22/2006 10:10:00 AM  

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