Friday, September 16, 2005

Aquagirlish Charm


I'm not sure why everyone thinks Aquagirl is bland. She's demonstrably emotional, pugnacious, and headstrong. Hers is unchanneled passion; Aquaman, by his example, is mentoring her in channeling passion effectively. Part of her storytelling function is highlighting Aquaman's character; he still tends to be "angry" but when he is, he directs that anger toward a constructive purpose (or tries!). She has helped me see that we can (and finally do) have an Aquaman who is likeable, admirable, AND an ass-kicker.

Some Aquagirl character moments...

  1. She wants Aquaman to kill Geist. He doesn't waste time convincing her that that's wrong, he merely explains that it's stupid. Intellect should inform and direct passion; nice one, Aquaman!
  2. She's trying to enjoy a "normal" Sub Diego life with her friends. But she becomes angry at their passivity, given how much needs to be done for Sub Diego. "Why don't you do something?" she complains. They wisely suggest that she needs to go hang out with her "friend in the orange shirt", which she does, because Aquaman is channeling his frustation into bettering the situation.
  3. After the "magical life-swapping" perpetrated by the Ocean Master is over, Lorena decides to make the most of it, and keeps the costume she was given. You can view it as a simple plot device to get her in costume or a young girl's interest in pretty clothes (both true), but I think it's a small sign that she's begun to learn the art of turning disaster into triumph, bad into good.
  4. When she sees a shark preparing to attack someone, she, "super-powerless" though she is, charges right in to help. Stupid? Maybe. Heroic? Definitely. If you saw someone, waterbreather or not, take on a shark to save a stranger, I doubt you would think of her as "bland".
  5. When the Atlanteans show up, she doesn't sit on her ass (or, um, "float" on it); she decides to check out Atlantis, do some recon. When she meets Koryak, she realizes that two problems -- Aquaman needs help and Koryak is lonely in Atlantis -- can be solved with one solution, reuniting Koryak and Aquaman, and she makes it happen. I like that she's quite a proactive little problem-solver. I never saw Aqualad do anything like that; all he ever did was stand around and *gulp* about how difficult whatever situation was confronting Aquaman and him (yeah, he's definitely your typical passive, fearful Atlantean-type).

Her crushes on Aquaman and Koryak have been cited as criticisms against her. I'm pretty supportive of differences of opinion on many things, but that criticism is just plain old idiotic. Almost any non-lesbian teenage girl in Sub Diego who doesn't have a crush on one or both those guys would need to have her head examined (and be quickly locked away on the underwater prison bus with "Five Kinds of Crazy" Carl and his purple-smelling traffic light).

Ask any woman you know who she thinks is sexiest, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, or Green Lantern. Guess what the answer will be (even if she doesn't know about the magical water hand)? Even I, grizzled veteran that I am, get all giggly when Aquaman juts his jaw. As for Koryak, well, when I read Aquaman, I've taken to keeping a handfan, a moist kerchief, and a mint julep at the ready, because I need them every time Koryak appears on panel. He affects me as marine heartthrob Aqualad does the girls on the Teen Titans cartoon; my eyes become pulsating heart shapes, a goofy grin stretches from ear to ear, and little manga-lines radiate from my skull as I clasp my hands together in front of my collarbone. Needless to say, I no longer read Aquaman in public places.

Lorena's entire family died, and suddenly, leaving her alone. Aquaman's saved her life already, what, four or five times? Her having a crush on him or his more age-appropriate son is realistic and I appreciate it. Speaking of which, she's drawn with a realism so uncommon nowadays in comics as to be almost shockingly novel. Her breasts aren't the size of her head and she doesn't have a six-pack of steel. Now, I love Power Girl and Hawkgirl, too, but it's nice to have a more realistically proportioned character once in a while!

She's still got plenty to learn. I was disappointed in her recent childish taunting of Dr. Geist, saying that her "champion" Koryak is better than his, Officer Malrey. But that blew up in her face when Geist ignored her and Koryak announced that he really likes "wonderful" Officer Malrey. Lorena "Aquagirl" Marquez still makes those kind of teen-age faux pas, tee hee! I'd love to read her letter to YM Magazine: "So, there I was at the monster-bashing, boasting to Vice-Principal Geist (who killed my parents) about how much better my guy-crush was than the jerk-faced hall monitor--only to find out they were best friends! Was my face red! Lorena M., Sub Diego."

I'm not one of those readers who automaticaly adores female characters or sidekicks. Supergirl's bare midriff and pert manga breasts don't distract me from that fact that she's just as colorless as her Silver Age predecessor; Shaolin Batgirl with Kung Fu Action should come with a warning not to read while operating heavy machinery; Speedy the Prostitute With the Heart of Gold and STD who just happens to have a Natural Gift for Archery (tm) actually gives cliches a bad name.

But Aquagirl I like. She's gutsy, but headstrong; heroic, but not wise; proactive, but naive; responsible like a woman, but petty like a schoolgirl. She seems not like a prop or plot device, but an actual person, stuck in the mess of Sub Diego and doing her best.

And not bland at all.

13 comments:

Basilios said...

Interesting thoughts on Aquagirl. I gotta say I agree with you on the other sidekicks these days. Aquagirl seems the most interesting.

What do you think of Koryak? Did you read the old PAD series? He seems a bit different. Has he changed his evil ways? Do you think that he is gay? Alot of people are jumping to that conclusion with his Marley comment. I'm not sure what to make of him, yet. I just want him to admit that he was a bit of a prick in the past, but his grown up. Aquaman was far too excepting, if you ask me.

Have you read JLA#118, I'll like to read your thoughts.

By the way everytime you write on the subject of Aquaman I provide a link to your website at ComicBloc Forums. Thanks alot. I like reading your articles even the non-Aquaman ones, well most of the time anyway. Thanks again.

Marionette said...

I don't think you are being fair to Batgirl, here. Okay, I don't have much idea what she's like now, but as originally written by Kelly Puckett for about the first 30 issues or so of her title she was as non-typical as Lorena. Of course one issue after he and artist Damion Scott left I dropped it in disgust, but it used to be good.

Scipio said...

"What do I think of Koryak?"

Well, I can't REALLY answer that and keep this blog G-rated, now, can I?

I'd never seen him before his current re-appearance. My impression from what I've read of his backstory is that he was never really evil, just misguided. I'm happy when a character is allowed to "grow up" and not bear adolescent grudges(ahem, like Aqualad does).

I don't think Koryak's comment was intended to convey that he was gay (Malrey is a nice guy, but, well, not all that handsome, you know!). I think it was intended to be a pleasant contrast to Lorena's attitude and perhaps to "the old Koryak".

The author knows that many readers will be wary of Koryak because of his history and he is trying to show that Koryak is changed. At least, I hope so! I would hate to find out that they are doing with Koryak what they are doing with Golden Eagle over at Hawkman's book. I will write more about this, because you and other seems interested in it.

That said, I still think it would be interesting if Koryak turns out to be gay.

As for JLA 118 ... I loved it! Particularly for Aquaman's sake. The only thing that has kept the public and readers from thinking that Aquaman is cool is DC itself not thinking that Aquaman was cool.

Fortunately, DC finally seems committed to him and readers are responding accordingly.

N said...

Ask any woman you know who she thinks is sexiest, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, or Green Lantern.

One said Batman. Two said they didn't know what the other three looked like.

Franny said...

Marine heartthrob Aqualad...voiced by none other than WIL WHEATON.

Elephantine Room said...

JLA #118: the Martian Manhunter is so gonna die next issue.

A couple nice Aquaman scenes, though.

Anonymous said...

Batman, incidentally, is much hotter than Aquaman. Batman has his dark bad boy thing going; Aquaman's saddled with that awful green and orange color scheme.

Devon said...

Lorena's alright in my book. Anyone who rocks a tanktop, hip-hugger shorts, knee-hight athletic socks and Chucks WHILE underwater is more than deserving of praise.

Anonymous said...

You should totally write Aquaman. Put in a proposal to DC. Circulate an online petition. I volunteer that if you write Aquaman I will subscribe for as long as your run lasts.

I'd be glad to be part of your "Scipionic Circle" of support.

R Greene said...

"I'm not one of those readers who automaticaly adores female characters or sidekicks."

Well, I am. Supergirl's bare midriff and pert manga breasts go along with her strong-will and new facination with boys (JLA 118) and she promises to bring a struggle to find an identity in the shodow of the "S"; "Shaolin" Batgirl is admittedly a little dry lately, but as the daughter of Shiva, I expect a return to glory soon; and Speedy the Prostitute With the Heart of Gold and STD (or weak Pedro Zamora homage) is fascinatingly appropriate as a young girl in an extraordinary situation making the best of it with a new (and somewhat letcherous) older man as her father figure.

I DO think these characters would be a lot more interesting if their mentors were women--as Cassie is in Wonder Woman. The other good example of male hero with female sidekick that worked was Stephanie Brown as Robin, however briefly. She changed the landscape of that book and left a legacy that will never be filled (at least not until she comes back to life as a pseudo-villian).

Two final points, though: 1. Speedy still should have been Arrowette, an interesting character virtually WASTED by DC, and 2. Is Lorena ever going to learn how to back up her tough talk and FIGHT?!

Scipio said...

"Well, I am."

LOL, you're exactly the person I was thinking of, Rico!

1. I agree; I really LIKE Arrowette. BUT, I have to respect the character making a decision and sticking to it. Of course, it's hard for writers to use her after that and without YJ itself (which was much more interesting that Titans) they have no reason to.

2. Interesting question. I'm not sure that's really her role. I mean, how much can AQUAMAN get from a teenage girl? Maybe he should give her one of those underwater quill-guns...

Scipio said...

"She promises to bring a struggle to find an identity in the shadow of the S..."

Just like
Silver Age Supergirl
Bronze Age Supergirl
Matrix
Superboy
and Powergirl?

I don't mean to pick on her. But that same struggle is what EVERY Superman related character seems to bring to the table.

I can see what Robin, Kid Flash, Aquagirl bring that complements their mentors. I just can't see what the Super-sidekicks bring...

JP said...

'Ask any woman you know who she thinks is sexiest, Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, or Green Lantern.'

My sister says she doesn't know from costumed freaks, but she thinks the Adam West Bruce Wayne was hotter than any of the ones in the movies. Go figure.