Dave Galanter
December 1st 1969 - December 12th 2020
He was loved.

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Member Since: Sun Dec 21, 2008
Posts: 2,229
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Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 5,014
Subj: Thought of another one
Posted: Mon Jul 19, 2021 at 01:32:12 pm EDT (Viewed 86 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Well see, here's the thing (with a postscript re. "robotic" characters)
Posted: Wed Jul 14, 2021 at 04:43:46 pm EDT (Viewed 95 times)

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    *** But they tended to be "second-wave" characters, the characters that had come before them tend to be ignored, maybe because of their more pleasant personalities? I'm thinking of people like Jimmy Woo, Wong, the Ancient One, Wyatt Wingfoot, Joe Robertson, Bill Foster, Gabe Jones, Glory Grant, even the Black Panther.

    With the exception of the Black Panther and the Ancient One, I've actually read very few stories, if any, with those characters, or the two you mention later, Randy Robertson and Hobie Brown, so forgive my not taking them into account, I don't know a lot about them.

That doesn't necessarily contradict what I said. Indeed, I might wonder if your generalization is based on insufficient evidence.

    *** I never found Rogue's Southern dialect unreadable or painful, it was mainly just a few phonetically spelled words (actually not a lot apart from "ah" for "I").

    Right. The phonetic spelling is what I find painful about Claremont's Rogue dialogue. Writers, just please never do that.

So you just have a general aversion to phonetic spelling and thus don't say anything about the actualy quality of Claremont's writing of characters speaking dialect - indeed it is left unclear why you single out that writer and that character. After all, Claremont also wrote Moira, Rahne, Sam, Sean with phonetic spellings, and other writers use similar methods (e. g. people writing Ben Grimm often use(d) the spelling "wuz" for "was"). As for me, I have no problem with phonetic spellings, but then I live in Europe where a lot of people take great pride in their dialects and also use a largely phonetic spelling to write texts in them, partly due to the fact that there is no standard orthography for most dialects. For instance, in Germany you can buy most Asterix albums translated into various regional dialects, and in Belgium there are some Spirou stories you can buy translated into the Brussels dialect of French.

    *** Storm and, as far as I recall, Sunfire and Thunderbird too, spoke grammatically correct standard English with no trace of an "ethnic" or regional accent, which definitely was a step forward from the way the language of Africans, Native Americans and East Asians had all too often been rendered in decades before.

    Good point for sure, but it's not their perfect grammar that bugged me. I was talking about their more robotic personalities. Like how Hollywood thought they could never make a normal American black person acceptable to American audiences in something like "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" or "Still of the Night" so instead they'd use Sidney Poitier.

I never thought of T'challa as having a robotic personality, I always thought of it as regal, befitting his status as a king. Also, he was/is the ruler of an idealized hyper-modern African country, so the last thing he should do is resemble a "normal American black person". With Ororo it is not dissimilar, in Wein's original conception she was a Kenyan goddess (well, a mutant who felt very comfortable in that role). It was only later that Chris Claremont made her father an American, had her being born in New York and growing up in Cairo (not the one in Illinois). But at least given the nature of her power it makes sense that she always appeared so cool and collected - she had to keep her emotions reined in so she wouldn't inadvertently cause meteorological disasters. But she evidently had problems with that, and Claremont offset it first with her claustrophobia and later her spiritual crisis that led to perhaps the most famous changes in hairstyle in superhero comics.

In general: These things do not exist in isolation. These extremely calm and collected Black characters were a necessary and probably inevitable corrective to the way Black persons (and especially men) had been portrayed for centuries, going back at least to Shakespeare's plays, as beings driven by their emotions and passions, whose mostly irrational behaviour ran the gamut from "child-like" to "animalistic". Apart from actors and fictional persons, Jackie Robinson also comes to mind (he was chosen to become the first Black player in modern-era major league baseball not only because he was a great player, but also because had the nearly superhuman self-control necessary to keep calm in the face of racist taunting).

Postscript: Another factor that may be in play here is that Marvel most of the time tended to write "natural leaders" as detached and cerebral. Place Ororo next to Cyclops, Mr. Fantastic, or Professor X and you wouldn't think of her as "the robotic one".

    *** Characters created to be killed off are nothing new, and there is nothing wrong per se with this happening.

    I disagree with that for sure. I despise that trope. It's callous.

It's what most of literature and related arts are built on. It reflects an important fact of life - countless people die before they can fulfill their life's potential, even if we love them. Since most writers do not determine the outcome of their stories by a throw of dice, but plan them ahead, their imitation of that fact inevitably leads to characters being created to become victims. And you're not seriously proposing that e. g. Spider-Man's origin would have had the same kind of emotional impact if Uncle Ben had not been killed (and instead would have lived to largely duplicate Aunt May's role in the stories that followed, while also relieving Peter of the necessity to be the family breadwinner as a news photographer)?

    *** (2) Complaining about it happening in a parody one-shot (which might as well end with all characters dying) is especially puzzling to me.

    I wasn't complaining about it happening in the one-shot. I was mentioning how the one-shot did a good job of distinguishing the trope.

I'll have to take your word for it. But I'm no admirer of Grant Morrison, and judging by your less than enthusiastic description of it, it seems I'd be wasting time and money trying to buy it to check whether it really does a good job of distinguishing that trope. From your description alone there's no way to say it is different from any other story.

    *** (from your response below) They wanted to shock the readers (and, in-story, the X-Men) with an unexpected death, and decided that Thunderbird was the most "expendable" character on the team.

    EXACTLY my point though. It's a weak storytelling. It's not shocking to kill off expendable characters, it's just showy. These days, we say "performative". This is also the problem I had with DC's Identity Crisis. "Look at how tough we are! No one's safe! We're going to kill off SUE DIBNY!!!!" I hate it.

Well, judging by your and The Silver Surfer's reaction, I'm tempted to say that Thunderbird's death definitely was shocking to some people. Personally, having re-read his debut appearance recently, I'm glad they got rid of him, he was the most badly written member of the cast at the time (vide my responses to The Silver Surfer further below). Killing him off can be said to have served a purpose, that of putting readers on their toes, and it made his departure stick in readers' minds. Had he just left the team it would have fizzled out and got lost in the shuffle, as five members of the old team plus new recruit Sunfire all left around that time. (And people would have asked: why the hell introduce this new character(1) if all they do with him is make him leave again immediately after?). What really would have been callous would have been to keep Thunderbird on the team for an extra year or two (despite being largely redundant next to Wolverine) and then kill him off. As it was, there was the pure shock of a sudden and unexpected death before the readers had a chance to establish a lasting emotional connection to the character. (As far as I can see, people who are calling for him to be brought back are doing this not out of attachment to the person he was, but for the "potential" of the person he could be if a writer decided to completely rebuild him. And IMO, "potential" in this kind of discussions all too frequently is just a euphemism for "they haven't actually done any good stories about this character").

(1) You'll recall that Sunfire had already appeared in X-Men vol. 1 #64, Sub-Mariner #52-54 and Iron Man #68-70 before GSXM #1.

Creating characters to be killed is neither good nor bad writing in itself nor is it an indicator of bad writing. Neither is killing off an already existing character. The story in which these types of characters are used can be written well or badly, alwhough I would of course specify that the gimicky or overuse of this trope is a form of bad and/or lazy writing, with the exception of satirical works and parodies.

Another character whose dialogue I hated to read, because of the hamhanded way they tried to write it phonetically, was Rahne Sinclair.

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