Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Salute to Vibe

You probably don't like Vibe, or think he deserves any sympathy or respect. "The breakdancing Justice League" is probably just a big joke to you.

But I don't care how you feel about the man ... this is really horrible. A tragic and undignified end to a man who rose above ghetto origins and early gang involvement by exploiting whatever natural talents he had, be they lighthearted, like breakdancing, or deadly serious, like the power to shake an entire city block from its foundations through psychokinetic force of will.

Brash and headstrong? Maybe. But you don't you almost have to be to put on a costume and take on crazed supervillains and alien conquerors? He could have become a supervillain himself, and although his own superpower was a supremely destructive one, he worked to use it to help others and better himself. I prefer to see him as a model of restraint rather than excess.

He was, as I've posited before, essentially a Golden Age hero, despite his Big Eighties' stylings. A bright costume of red, yellow, and green; a happy-go-lucky attitude of unbridled confidence toward fighting crime, to the point of foolhardy bravado; as likely to use his fists as his superpower; not much concerned with others' opinion of him and what he did. Like the Golden Agers, he never forgot that his "secret identity" was his real identity, never forgot that he was a kid from the streets ... who just happened to be in the Justice League.

And for that, he was killed. The man who caused his death hadn't ever even heard of him. Who he really was irrelevant. He just ... happened to be in the Justice League.

And when he died (at what, maybe 25 years old, tops?), there was no one there for him. No one to help. No one even to witness.

No chance to sacrifice himself saving the innocent, or the multiverse, or his colleagues. No noble fairwell speech.

Just a pair of mindless, hand-shaped vises, slowly crushing his windpipe until his corpse fell face down on a garbage-strewn sidewalk in the ghetto.

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But at least he gets to appear in crowd scenes in JLU. Looks like you're not the only one harboring some fondness for him.
He's prominently featured on the cover of a forthcoming issue of JLU, so maybe something more than a crowd scene is contained therein.

Wherefore art thou, Steel?

Note that the 'bot that kills him utters a perfect and properly formatted Haiku in the first panel there.
I'd like it if he got some more JLU love. I really think it could lead to interest in the essential character, without his '80s baggage.

If enough interest in generated (he is one of DC's few Hispanic heroes), his brother, who has the same powers, is still alive and could easily take up his mantle and moniker.
For some reason, I have the feeling that a Vibe-centric episode of JLU would be named something along the lines of "Grodd Got Served". Am I the only one who thinks that?
Really, the only things wrong with Vibe were:

1. The breakdancing thing, which both immediately dated the character and gave off that whiff of "desperately trying to be all hip and groovy, and failing miserably," and
2. The "unproven young street punk hero" idea is perfectly serviceable, but in this case, just another element that made people think "I don't know what this is, but it sure as hell ain't *my* Justice League of America!"

But however crappy the character, he deserves better than to die like a punk.
Hm, and here I always thought that the all time worst death in comics was having the Liberty Bell dropped on you...
[b]Hm, and here I always thought that the all time worst death in comics was having the Liberty Bell dropped on you...[/b]

I don't recall who that was, unless it was Liberty Belle's friend Tom Revere.

I say the worst death in comics was Dr. Mid-Nite. Longtime hero, active almost the entire Golden Age; in more original JSA adventures than any other member besides Hawkman and the Atom; saved the whole team from menaces like the Wizard (All-Star #34); and [i]he dies off-panel!!![/i]
It was Miss Liberty (p 205 in the DC Encylopedia)
Re: Agent Orange: Why have a whole blog dedicated to such a lame Mike W. Barr character? Is there a blog dedicated to the Duke of Oil?
Thats alot of spam.

I hated how Steel went, all smushed up like a terminator.
Like JFK, I don't we will truly honor the man who was Vibe until we stop mourning his death and start celebrating his birth.

Of course, the fact that his "birth" was in a comic by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton makes that SO difficult.
Yes, Gerry and Chuck have much to answer for the great beyond, I'm afraid.

Wait, you're telling me there's a BLOG devoted to Agent ORange?

Oh, somebody's asking for it...!
MY GODS, Jeff, you're right!

VERY freaky! That will merit a post next Tuesday!

You win a HeroHaiku Black Belt just for noticing...
Miss Liberty's death is NOT worse than this one.

Miss Liberty's death is flawless Comic Book Irony, which is an honorable way to go out.

Painfully ironic, but honorable.
Why is Conway so despised? It isn't like he's Liefeld or anything.
Conway starting writing comics at a very young age (19) and that seems to have 'frozen' some of his taste in character creation and choice. As a result, much of his work is marred by certain sophomoric immaturity.

That's no real excuse for the Demolition Team (he was 32 when he created them). Had there been even the slightest sense of irony in their portrayal they (and other Conway creations) might have been perceived as clever parodies. But they were in deadly earnest and were therefore ill-received.
I dunno, I re-read some old Conway JLAs recently (around issues 190-215 or so), and I really dug them, even to this day...they were some of the first comics I bought, so that may have something to do with it, but the familiar, jovial, somewhat-over-the-top-yet-entertaining narration of those books reminds me why I liked comics in the first place. I must've read every Batman and Superman issue that came out from about '86 to '90, and I don't remember what happened in a single one of them, but those old Conway JLAs really stick in the memory banks.

But yeah, the Demolition Team was lame.
As I've mentioned in a previous post, Conway is the only writer who really understood how Aquaman's "telepathy" must work...
I'm more of a Marvel fan, but I did get into the JLA during that short time that Aquaman was the leader and the members were Zatanna, J'onn J'onnz, Vixen, Vibe, Ralph Dibney and whoever else was in it. That was the only time I read the JLA on a regular basis.

I quit reading it before Vibe died though.
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