Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Haikuesday with Dr. Sivana

Let's pause to savor how bad Judd Winick's dialog for Dr. Sivana was in the most recent issue of Green Arrow / Black Canary.

Okay, I get that many younger writers are really just writing fan-fic, and so love to pull characters out of the DCU's left field to solve their plot problems, rather than sticking with toys closer to them in the sandbox. But, really, this reads like an issue of the DC Challenge.

Wait, so, Ra's Al Ghul was actually Shado, with some flimsy explanation given as the charade? Why not just put in an honest caption box that says, "Yeah, this'll be a great surprise reveal to the readers! No one will guess it! Take that, Geoff Johns!" When her son was dying of leukemia Shado naturally sought out.... Dr. Sivana?!?! World expert on, um, leukemia? Disease? Destroying Captain Marvel?! Who used Plastic Man's blood to ... cure leukemia? Repair brain damage? And the thing he wants in return is.... killing Green Arrow? I'll believe a man can fly, but my credulity needs an injection of Plastic Man's blood to make these kinds of stretches.

Anyway, if you're going to use Dr. Sivana, please have him be recognizable as such.

Winick starts off with Dr. Sivana speaking appropriately: "I will say you've piqued my curiosity"; "You travel in circles that are not unknown to me." Yeah, that's about right. But it degenerates pretty quickly...

"You guys"? "Peepers"? "Whack"? "Doesn't fill my glass"? "Screws with Green Arrow?" "Kick your asses"?

Raise your hand if you want Dr. Sivana to talk that way. Those with your hands raised, go buy some Marvel comics.

I get that writers sometimes feel the need to modernize characters a bit. But when and why did "modernization" come to mean, "I'll write this character as if they were in the cast of Friends or Buffy"? Perhaps it's an attempt at greater realism (very common among those who are concerned that, although they love comics, they aren't "cool" enough, and are desperate to make them -- and, by extension, themselves -- cool enough for hoi polloi).

I hope it's not an attempt at realism, because no one I know talks that way. At least, no one I know for very long. And, as I have mentioned before, it isn't "normal" to have comic book people talk "normally". They aren't normal; that's part of the point. They don't dress normal, they don't act normal, why on earth would they talk normal? A pig in a dress is still a pig, and having one of literature's most traditional mad scientist figures talk like a castmember on the Real World just seems incongruous and inappropriate, not "realistic".

The tragic part is, I can spy the soul of the real Sivana, desperately struggling to maintain some dignity and assert itself through such atrocious dialog. At one point, he even manages to squeak through a somewhat disjointed but still technically correct haiku:

"Y'see, that's funny.
You think you have me at a
disadvantage. What?"

Poor little guy. Shame on you, Judd Winick, for making me sympathize with the World's Wickedest Mortal. Readers, rally to my cause! Help Dr. Sivana express himself in haiku as he rebels against being forced to speak inappropriate dialog! Here's my own offering:

"Winick's dialog
angers Dr. Sivana.
Heh heh. Heh heh heh."


P.S. By the way... "vanytes"? Okay, I understood Chemoids, and Molemen, and Doombots, and Un-Men, etc. But why the heck are plasticized ninja generic figures called "vanytes", and why isn't even a hint of explanation given as to the etymology? And don't tell me Sivana wouldn't stop to explain, because that is exactly something Sivana would do, particularly since he prattles at length in this scene about how and why he made them. So, is it pronounced "van- nights"? If so, I'm dumbfounded. If it's pronounced "van ee teez", then it's straight Middle English (Like Wycliff's "Vanyte of vanytes, seide Eclesiastes, vanyte of vanytes, and alle thingus vanyte"), and (I assume) a meta-commentary on why writers like Winick do things like this.Still, they would make great Heroclix low-point generics, with plasticity and a bit of regen. Fun!.


SallyP said...

So...it wasn't just me? I am SO relieved. As you say, comicbook characters particularly villains shouldn't sound "normal"...whatever the heck that means.

Frankly, I prefer a touch of grandeur to my villains. I enjoy it when they speak in the third person, when they soliloquize, when they indulge in maniacal laughter. If Doctor Sivana is going to use slang, then make it slang from the 1940's!

Although I am still baffled as to why Doctor Sivana would give a rat's behind about Green Arrow.

totaltoyz said...

Judd Winick writing
World's Wickedest Scientist?
Forty blue curses!

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Evil pharmacist
Spits venomous threats to us:
"Your fate is sealed!"

Coke-Bottle Glasses
Conceal genius villain,
Not petulant twerp.

k26dp said...

I skipped this issue
Green Arrow/Black Canary
Life is just too short

Anonymous said...

"Thaddeus Bodog
Sivana" -- Shazam wishes
His name were that cool

Why didn't he call
Green Arrow "Stinky Green Cheese"?
A perfect chance -- lost.

Chandler vaporized.
"Could I beeeeeeeeeeeeee any ev'ler?"
Sivana on "Friends".

Doctor Polaris said...

I can assure you that Doctor Sivana is mightily displeased by this turn of events. Thaddeus an I are not good friends, but we share a love of both science and verbosity.

As for a haiku:

Judd Winick, you fool!
Try a real villain M. D.:
Doctor Polaris!

Citizen Scribbler said...

"What's wrong with my speech?!?
Have you got hours to spare?
Bah! No one listens."

-Citizen Scribbler

Gustavo said...

Maybe the "vanytes" are short and sweet for "Sivannytes". Again, out of character, but then, remember all the names of the Sivana family of characters...

( btw, not defending Winnick, just trying to sort his cooky ideas )

Laurie said...

Far worse in Titans
Offensively poor plot twists
Matched by awful art

No matter how bad GA/BC is, it cannot be any worse than the drek that is Titans. I have no idea what Winick is thinking regarding the dialogie he is putting in those characters' mouths.

notintheface said...

"Whedon wannabe
Makes me talk like Chandler Bing
I will fix him good."

Scipio said...

Nice job, guys!

Oh, and for the record, I am enjoying GA/BC immensely. But that doesn't stop me from perceiving its flaws.

Mike Loughlin said...

If it's not too late:

Real one's from Earth-S.
This one is from Earth Winnick!
Where all speak Buffese.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Sivana should talk
Like the Terror from the Tick
23 Skidoo