Friday, July 28, 2006

Looking To The Stars - The Last Of My Favorite Things

Three weeks ago, I talked about the comics that got me into this wonderful hobby.

Two weeks ago, I talked about the first autographed comics I brought into my collection as well as the first Marvel Comic I ever bought.

Last week, I talked about Clerks 2 and apparently got a mention at News Askew.

This week, we’re back on topic and ready to take a final look at my favorite things. Four comics that I number as my favorites in no particular order.

It is ironic, given that I came into reading the title on the very last issue of this period, that my favorite moments in Ron Marz’s Green Lantern run came about during the period where he was dating Donna Troy. The relationship worked on all levels with the more mature Donna helping Kyle both with finding his feet as a hero and in helping him love again after the death of his girlfriend Alex.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. And Donna was hastily removed from the comic so that John Byrne could remake her in the pages of Wonder Woman. I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice it to say, for all the heat John Byrne gets about messing around with characters that shouldn’t be messed about with, this instance gets my vote for #1 on the war crimes list.

The short version is that it was revealed that Donna Troy was a magically created clone of Wonder Woman (she needed a playmate since there were no girls on Paradise Island) and she was briefly erased from reality by a villain who, having a grudge against Hippolyta, decided to kidnap her daughter only to steal away the clone by accident.

The basic upshot of all this is that Donna was restored to life by the actions of Hippolyta and The Flash- both of whom still remembered Donna’s existence, having been outside of time when the erasing occurred. Donna was restored, but her personality was based on Wally West’s memories of her from when they were in the Teen Titans together.

This was dealt with badly in the Titans book of the time and Donna was given a whole host of powers based upon the fact that she was sweetness and light incarnate and her touch could burn demons. The fact that she only had a fraction of her memories and that her personality had regressed was, for the most part, ignored. In fact, only one book that I know of dealt with this issue in a manner that truly respected the character Donna Troy had been and didn’t suggest that she was better off as this new Wonder Girl.

That issue was Green Lantern #118.

As the issue opens, Kyle Rayner is newly returned from space and his first attempt to revive the Green Lantern Corps. He’s been dating Jenny-Lynn Scott (a.k.a. the superhero Jade) for a few months of comic time now and he’s just gotten a gallery showing for his art. Things are actually looking up in his life… and then Donna walks in the door and all the old memories and feelings come back in a rush.

Jade gets jealous, as Kyle asks if they can delay their plans for the evening so that he can settle things with Donna (who he hasn’t talked to since her return) and leaves in a huff. The brunt of the rest of the comic details Kyle and Donna walking through the streets of Greenwich Village, talking about how things were and where they stand now.

Not the most exciting and action-filled of stories, granted. But this is easily one of the most emotional and spirit-touching stories I’ve ever read because of one simple fact; this story is a literal representation of every relationship that ended because “You’re not the person I fell in love with.”

Think back to any close friendship or romantic relationship you’ve had. Think of all the private things you never told another person that you shared. Think of all the shared memories from when you were alone. Think of all the little details like which of your jokes was that first to make them laugh.

Now think about all of that being gone. And all the other person is left with is a memory that they love you. And that they were happy. But they don’t remember why they loved you and why they were happy. They can’t remember how you wound up together. They can’t remember all the quiet nights watching a movie… the lazy days snuggling on the couch. All of that is gone.

That’s pretty much where Donna is with Kyle. Because Wally West knew she loved Kyle, she does love Kyle. But because Wally knew nothing about the relationship other than that it existed, Donna can’t remember anything about her time with Kyle and why she loved him.

You don’t get much more tragic than that. And good on Ron Marz for being the only writer at the time who even thought to look at this issue and discuss it in such a skillful way much less making it into a relatable metaphor for real relationships gone wrong.

And speaking of relationships gone wrong, I’d like to talk a moment about the Oliver Queen/Dinah Lance relationship.

I know there’s a vocal bit of fandom that doesn’t want the two of them to get back together ever. Some think that Ollie is a scumbag who isn’t worthy of Dinah, but that is an argument I’ve addressed before. Some feel that Ollie and Dinah quickly becomes OLLIEanddinah whenever the two are paired in a story, which I would put down to a matter of who the writer is. Some also think that Dinah has progressed too far from who she was before Ollie died and who she is now for a relationship between the two to ever work.

This later group, I think, would benefit from a reading of Green Arrow #11.

Unique in that this was the only issue of Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow run that was a true one-shot, with no links to a larger story, this issue has little action with a lot of nice character moments all around the board. But for my money, nothing quite tops the moment where Oliver Queen struggles to pick up the phone to call Dinah Lance.

It has, according to the text, been some two weeks since Oliver came back from the dead. And while he’s been trying to take some time to get his life in order and get to know the son he never knew he had. In his heart, he still loves Dinah but he knows that things have changed and that she has changed in the time he’s been away. And as much as the indecision is killing him, he thinks it would be worse to have to deal with her rejecting him than to sit there wondering and worrying.

Looking at this moment, I can’t help but wonder how anyone who has read this issue can question the commitment that the modern Oliver Queen has towards “his pretty bird”. Sadly, the character’s fates are currently in the hands of those who are either indifferent to the history between the two characters or are in little mood to restore the status quo. Ah well. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Brad Meltzer will restore the other sacred trilogy to the JLA – Hal Jordan, Dinah Lance and Ollie Queen – and can get started on rekindling the romance and saying, in no uncertain terms, that all of Ollie’s affairs during the last four years never happened.

Finally, I can think of nothing better to end with than the best damn superhero story of all time. And I can think of no better place to start describing this story than with a song.

I’m not much on musicals, but I do have a soft spot for Man of LaMacha; the musical story of Don Quixote. For those of you unfamiliar with the musical, the first act concludes with a song called To Dream The Impossible Dream in which Don Quixote sings about why strives to “do good” for people who do not appreciate him or think him mad.

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go.

To right the unrightable wrong
To be better far than you are
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far
To be willing to give when there’s no more to give
To be willing to die so that honor and justice may live

And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star.

To my mind, no song better summarizes the heroic spirit. And I think this song must have been in the mind of somebody at Marvel Comics when part two of this story came out, as well. Because the cover of Amazing Spiderman #230 features a balloon reading “To Fight The Unbeatable Foe”.

Much has already been written about this story. Even Wizard Magazine in one of the few times I personally feel they got it right, declared this to be the best Spider-Man story ever. And I, for once, concur with their assessment.

The plot is basic and knowing it will spoil nothing of the story for you that the cover does not. On a day when The X-Men are out in space, The Avengers are out of town, The Fantastic Four are off exploring N-Space and even Dr. Strange is busy, Juggernaut -he of the massive strength, nigh-invulnerability and big magic helmet – goes on a rampage through downtown Manhattan. And the only hero around to do anything about it is Spider-Man.

Boy, does it suck to be Peter Parker right about now.

Peter knows he’s screwed. Everybody watching the fight knows Peter is screwed. Everybody reading this book knows Peter is screwed. Even Madame Web, who called him in to deal with this crisis, tells him that she has foreseen him getting his butt handed to him.

And yet, Peter keeps trying to do everything he can reasonably think of to stop Juggernaut. Because there is literally nobody else who can or will do anything. Because with great power comes great responsibility, even when your power isn’t great enough.

Check out both issues of Amazing Spider-Man #229-230. You’ll be glad you did. And it’s the only way you’ll find out how Peter wins.

Peter wins? Well, you’ll never know if I’m telling the truth unless you read it now, will you? ;)

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

Visit our blog at:

No comments:

Post a Comment