Tuesday, April 25, 2006

For When One Standard Just Won't Do


I'm dangerously on the verge of dropping The Outsiders. Two issues into its' "One Year Later" run and and two things have just been grating on me.

One: Nightwing's sanctioning the kidnapping and "interrogating" of a loyalist to a corrupt regime. Writer Judd Winick goes through great pains to explain Nightwing reasoning. "Metamorpho's pheromone treatments would take too long... a seven-foot psychotic woman in a leather mask is scarier than me..."

So, after Infinite Crisis has gone through the trouble of setting up Nightwing as one of the bright lights of The DC Universe, what do we get? Nightwing sanctioning this s***. Just... bad. Where's the continuity?!? Why'd they even bother?

Two: Thunder, the daughter of Black Lightning, is sent undercover to infiltrate the cabinet of President Benin, a corrupt African dictator. Benin is portrayed as pure evil, sanctioning the rape and killing of those he considers rivals. Eventually, Benin turns his eye towards Thunder and she, not wanting to blow her cover, "consents" to sleeping with him.

When Thunder confronts Nightwing with the things she's gone through, Nightwing tells her "it was good work." Seriously, what the f*** is this s***? I don't think anyone will ever label me as a feminist, maybe a humanist, not so much a feminist. That said, I call "bullshit" on Judd Winick and his treatment of the Thunder character. Seriously, was her "sleeping with the enemy" absolutely necessary in order to complete the goals of the mission? Was it completely necessary?

Admittedly, I have no idea what brought these characters to this place in that missing year. What I do know is that the Dick Grayson I grew up with would never ask a teammate to do any thing he wouldn't be willing to do himself. Dick Grayson would never have condoned any member of any team he's ever been on's "sleeping with the enemy" for "the sake of the mission." He wouldn't have it with Donna Troy, he shouldn't with any other character.

Ever.

PERIOD.


It's not in his character and it's just so glaringly wrong. Normally, I really enjoy Mr. Winick's work but on this one he's done many characters a disservice just for the sake of the story he's trying to tell.

That said, this raises another question: "Would someone ever write a story where Nightwing would have to... I don't know... s*** a d*** for world peace?"

I'm betting "no."

29 comments:

jamawalk said...

You, my friend, have been "Winicked."

Happens to the best of us.

But hey, check out Metamopho's cool slacks!

Devon said...

I know. Will the hurting ever stop?

Mike Loughlin said...

Re last comment: Google Nightwing and s*** d*** and see how much fan fiction you come up with.

Seriously, what's up with Winick? I loved Pedro & Me and that Oni Double Feature story he wrote a few years back, liked Barry Ween, Exiles, and some of his GL stories... and now he's writing this dross. I gave up on Outsiders and Green Arrow, and now won't pick up any DC books he's writing. I hate when a writer whose work I trust stops writing good stories. JMS, Millar, & Rucka are close to that stage.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

I was highly tempted to use the OYL break as my cue to drop the series from my pull list, but curiosity forced me to give it a try.

The lesson? I need to trust my instincts more.

Blockade Boy said...

Yikes! I assume there's a little box on the credits page that reads, "Plot assist by Chuck Austen."

Martin said...

What's even more bizarre is that in "Outsiders," Nightwing is this uber-Batboy cold-hearted pragmatist, and in his own title he's turned into a spineless wuss who gets owned by Jason Todd.

The simple truth is that Infinite Crisis and all of its associated hype was just that--hype. The DCU is absolutely no different than it was before, and there's still the same priority of making the writer's agenda more important than the character, the story, or the title as a whole.

I dropped "Green Arrow" when it became "Ex Machina Lite," and I'll probably be dropping "Outsiders" AND "Nightwing" both. Bruce Jones has the same problem Winick does, except he substitutes nymphomania for excessive bleeding-heart liberalism in his character stereotypes. ;)

And I AM a bleeding-heart liberal, so if I'M sick of it, you know it's too much. :)

Nathan said...

Thank you for voicing the same frustrations I have had with the last two Outsiders issues. Judd Winick simply doesn't care anymore whether he portrays a character inconsistently.

It's too bad. I used to like this book.

Anonymous said...

This Judd Winick thing worries me as he draws closer to writing the Shazam book....I enjoyed Outsiders until this whole "take it for the team" Thunder compromises her principles bullsh*t. Devon is onto something..in order for Nightwing to get an 'in' with some super pedophile ring, Winick out to make HIM do something like that...and let's see where THAT freakin' gets him...
ChrisM

Anonymous said...

P.S. Ya' know I wonder how long it will take some sub-element of the Far-Right to find their kids reading this and suddenly reinvigorate the 1950s "Seduction of the Innocent" guidelines once again...

ChrisM

Anonymous said...

Just went back and re-read the last two issues and I couldn't find a single reference to Nightwing being Dick Grayson. Any chance that this is Winick playing us and this Nightwing is actually Jason Todd? -KC

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting point about Jason there. Doesn't Grayson's current Nightwing getup include a utility pouch around the thigh, and a thick utility belt, while Todd's omits this?

rambozus said...

Yeah, you know I like Winick and he's losing me with this crap. The thing that spurred my irritation was in the first issue when rape was the third word out of everyone's mouth. Just doesn't really work, ya' know? And those last two guys had a good idea in Todd being Nightwing in The Outsiders...

SpiritGlyph said...

Yeah, I suspected we had a Jason Todd "reveal" coming when all six Outsiders showed up near the end, and Nightwing was the only one whose real name wasn't used in the little 90's X-Men-type nametag boxes.

Suspecting isn't nearly the same thing as caring, though. Winick has gone from being decently entertaining to being a purveyor of after-school special tripe, only with gay prison orgies and jokes about forced incest thrown in for shock value. Barry Ween was fun. Exiles was fun. This s*** isn't.

If I had to finger any one cause as to Winick's sudden nosedive, I'd say it was those special awards he got. If Kyle Rayner's assistant being the victim of gaybashing gets so much attention, why not give Mia AIDS? If giving Mia AIDS gets so much attention, why not have the Outsiders team up with John Walsh to teach people about the evil of child slavery? John f***ing Walsh, people! Three whole issues! Grace's tattoos? Them's slavery tattoos.

There's nothing wrong with dealing with real issues, but it has to be done well. Just because a story about child slavery does not mean that it's automatically good. No story is automatically good. Serious subject matters do not give you free reign to turn your quality filters off. If you do so, it'll go to your head, and there's a danger you'll turn the Scarecrow into a Hulk-ripoff, the Riddler into a metrosexual mime, and Jason Todd into a Gary Stu who shoots criminals with rocket lauchers because he's totally extreme to the max.

Anonymous said...

Drop the book Devon. Your money can be better used elsewhere.

Athelind said...

I skim my comics before buying them.

When I saw the torture-interrogation scene, I put Outsiders back on the shelf, Permanently.

Franny said...

I don't even know what to say about this issue. I have previously loved Outsiders, even the terrible bizarre child sex slavery storyline. (I missed the first issue of it--it's perfectly readable if you have to imagine what happened in that issue and don't recognize the weird guy helping the team as from America's Most Wanted.)

I guess what I really want is, god forbid, Devin Grayson to write the book, because she really would make him suck a dick for peace. If editors let it in--I imagine they would not let that storyline happen, even if a writer wanted it, while this one is totally acceptible. In that sense, you need to blame the whole apparatus that produces the comic for letting this story happen. Editors approved this where they could have said "hell no", and what I think Winick needs in all of his books is a much stronger editor.

Also, thank you for your repeatedly voiced concerns about sexism. Calling yourself feminist carries a lot of baggage but we would totally be glad to have you.

Hale of Angelthorne said...

"suck a dick for peace"

World's least successful anti-war bumper-sticker slogan...

Devon said...

Thanks, Franny.

Martin said...

I hadn't actually considered that this Nightwing might be Jason Todd, mostly because of the (admittedly flimsy) visual cue of the hair length. Dick is currently rocking the "Renegade" locks, while Jason actually has Dick's old hairstyle.

Plus, even with their similar appearances, wouldn't the Outsiders be able to tell Jason and Dick were different people? Or have they all been Winickized into a dull stupor?

Speaking of "dull stupors," anyone who wants to go at Brian Bendis for writing comics that're nothing but dialogue should take a gander at Winick's last "Green Arrow." The cover? GA in a Western face-off with Deathstroke. The story? 22 pages of "Ex Machina Lite," with Slade not even appearing until the last page.

You know your comic sucks when "New Avengers" has more action than yours does.

Craig said...

I really like the Green Arrow character, but it went terribly downhill with each Winnick story. The scripts just seemed to get lazier and lazier. It got to the point that I was only buying them for the great James Jean covers. It's gotten to the point that I really hate that guy (Winnick).

The Fortress Keeper said...

Black Lightning should totally fry Nightwing's a$$ for this.

Mallet said...

Boy howdy I'm glad Captain Marvel Jr. left the team...

Seeing him any where near this scenario would make me want to fillet Winick.

Anonymous said...

"Plus, even with their similar appearances, wouldn't the Outsiders be able to tell Jason and Dick were different people? Or have they all been Winickized into a dull stupor?
"

Don't forget, we have no idea what happened in the past year, dude. They might know it's Jason.

And to be fair, the Suck a Dick for Peace comparison is hardly fair. (unless Thunder is a Lesbian. Is she?)
If Nightwing had to sleep with a woman for the good of humanity, you think he wouldn't?

Bully said...

Whatever happened to jumping on top of gigantic typewriters for the sake of humanity?

Laura said...

Yeah, thanks, I was wondering if I was just being wussy when I ended not liking this arc. Plus, what happened to Shift? Did Metamorpho absorb him or did he die, or is just not putting up with this crappy mean-spiritedness?

Ununnilium said...

I actually do think the DCU is much more interesting OYL. ...but not Outsiders. Seriously, WTF.

Ununnilium said...

Also, I didn't realize what "s*** a d***" meant until someone spelled it out. >>; Probably because I was thinking of a different s***.

Jon said...

My guess is that it's not Dick. If it is, then OYL is either brilliant or a stupid joke. I'll buy that Tim is still f-ed up after losing his dad and Connor, but I can't imagine Bruce could possibly end up well adjusted and Dick ends up as the guy who breaks all the rules.

My guess is that it's either Jason Todd or Speedy with a die job.

That said, the book still sucks. If you guys want to pretend to be dead and are operating outside the law, GET SOME NEW F-ING COSTUMES!!! Pick up an issue of JL:E or the Thunderbolts if you don't understand how it's done.

kalinara said...

And to be fair, the Suck a Dick for Peace comparison is hardly fair. (unless Thunder is a Lesbian. Is she?)

I don't know, it seems like a fair comparison to me even without bringing sexual orientation into it. Whether she likes guys or not, it certainly didn't seem like she had any attraction to a mass-murdering dictator. Heck, being coerced into sex with someone you might have been attracted to isn't really inherently better than being coerced into sex with someone you weren't. It's still coercive.

That said, I could see Nightwing (Dick) willing to sleep with a woman or even a man for World Peace, he's that sort. But I could *never* see him sending out anyone else to do it. He feels responsible for his team and in character, he'd be horrified at the notion.

Hopefully it's Jason though.