Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Crisis management: At Movie Poop Shoot, Scott Tipton turns his attention to the history of Ralph and Sue Dibny, and to the controversial events of Identity Crisis:

"The biggest problem I have with the story is that, dramatically, it’s still something of a cheat. The reason the murder of Sue Dibny is so shocking is because of the emotional investment that longtime readers like myself have in the character, thanks to the fine work of others, and to first cash in on that for shock value by brutally murdering her, and then to taint the older appearances by inserting this horribly degrading assault years into her backstory, making it hard to re-read those appearances without recontextualizing them through the prism of this brutalization, seems to me at best a cheap and lazy manner in which to generate an emotional response in the reader, and at worst an outright slap in the face to all of those writers and artists who came before you. Without cashing in on the readers’ investment in Sue Dibny, it’s hard to say that the story would have any impact at all. As the late great Mark Gruenwald said, 'Every character is somebody’s favorite.' You shouldn’t kill them off lightly, or worse, ruin their old appearances in retrospect.

"Still, even though I disagree with the decision, I have to admit that the story is gripping and well-told, and at least DC isn’t reveling in the murder and torture of its characters the way Marvel is nowadays, with the gleeful stripmining of the proud, four-decade-spanning Avengers heritage (complete with a ghoulish 'check-‘em-off-as-they-die' chart at the Marvel Web site – no thanks, Marvel, I don’t need to pay that close attention as you disembowel my childhood), all so they can replace the team with a slapped-together mishmash of top-selling Marvel characters that have little to do with the Avengers concept. Feh."