Thursday, November 08, 2012

Vibe: the Series

Vibe: The Series.

By all rights, I should be exulting about the fact that Vibe, history's most unfairly maligned of all Justice League members, is not only part of the New 52, not only in the Justice League of America, but also being given his own title.

I'm not exulting not because I am not overjoyed about it; I am. But, quite frankly, I simply consider it appropriate; it is time; it is his due.

Newsarama is, wisely, opined little on the development, having already ruined their own credibility to with their puerile and ignorant comments on Vibe before.  Fortunately, writer Andrew Kreisberg is more voluble about it, and there is much that he immediately gets right in his approach to Vibe.

(1)  "I owe Vibe one." says Kreisberg.  As does all of DC and its fans, Andrew!  DC's first Latino superhero was, on the whole, a well conceived character but not one well handled.  

(2) Vibe is Hispanic.  This may seem like a no-brainer.  After all, making Vibe a non-Hispanic would be like, I dunno, making Aquaman into a sword'n'sorcery title or the Martian Manhunter into a sane person or Green Arrow into a television series.  You should never underestimate just how stupidly and off-model a character can be 're-imagined'.  

(3) "Paco" is not actually a name, it's a nickname.  I almost fell over when I read Andrew call him "Cisco Ramone", since, of course, his name would actually be 'Francisco', but almost nobody not familiar with Spanish names would know that.  Certainly not the boneheads at Newsarama, who could never even manage to remember that Paco's family was Puerto Rican, not Mexican.

(4)  Vibe lives in Detroit.  Look, I've got no big love for Detroit; in fact, I don't know anyone who does.  I don't think of it as some wonderful, under-appreciated urban gem or faded star of industrial past.  It's not special to me at all, it's not my hometown.  But it IS Vibe's hometown.  Paco was a normal kid in a real-world city drawn into the bizarre world of DCU superheroes by virtue of his powers, and nothing symbolized that better than grounding him America's arguably least glamorous city.

(5) There is a reason for Vibe's powers.  The fact that Vibe had powers in the old DCU was just... a fact.  No one addressed it.  The world 'meta-gene' was never uttered.  Was he bitten by a radioactive tuning fork?  Only later, after he was dead did we 'discover' that one of his brothers (Reverb) had the same power.  And no one ever seemed to notice or care?  I can't help but think that even in a world as power-full as the old DCU that teenaged brothers with the ability to cause earthquakes would go wholly unnoticed.

(6) Paco's got a love/hate with a ne'er-do-well brother.  It's one of the few identifiable and unique elements of his origin.  Paco's brother always symbolized the path that Paco rejected, making the tough choices to do the right thing and become a hero.  And for me at least, it's the thing about him I can most easily relate to.

Oh and of course...

(7) AGENT DALE GUNN.  Because that's just freakin' genius/hilarity, people!

Li'l Gotham

Okay, I'll say it, since apparently no one else will:

I detested "Li'l Gotham".

I didn't just 'not like it'.  There are a lot of thing I just don't like it.  Like, say, Marvel comics  But I don't care if you do.  Then there is 'disliking' something;  that's when how I feel about something makes me actively surprised that you like it.  Then there's 'detesting' something; that's when, if you like, it actually makes me frown or grimace.

I detested "Li'l Gotham." 

First of all, it was... soft.  The lines were soft, water colors are soft.  There are many ways to draw Batman stories.  A Bob Kane Gotham is very different from a Neal Adams Gotham or a Bruce Timm Gotham.  But all of them are ... not soft.  I have a big problem with Renoir's Gotham.

Second of all, it was... cute.  Now, I don't need Batman to be always grim and gritty; I am not one of those fanboys.  You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of the "Batman: Brave and the Bold" series or "The DC Super-Friends" book.  I never miss an issue of "Superman Family Adventures" which, while very juvenile, is hilarious and entertaining.  But I do not want to see cute loveable versions of the Joker and the Penguin; they aren't plushies.  Or for that matter Batman.

Third of all, it focused on the odious "Damian" character, a monstrous little thug, the kind of person Batman should be incarcerating, not training as Robin. And, again, making his awfulness ... cute.

Adorable sociopathic children. Adorable murderers and psychokillers.  Adorable bone-breaking vigilantes.  Who buy criminals lunch.  Perhaps I am curmudgeonly, but I cannot imagine to whom all this is supposed to appeal, other than adolescent girls who like to imagine that adolescent boys aren't really sex-starved hormone-addled monsters (like, say, vampire and werewolves) but are rather cuddly sensitive souls who just need someone to love them.