Comments: 9
Murder by Death 1 year ago
You know, I agree with you on the dialog issues in the first panel you posted, but what capped it for me was the "Spear grunts with the satisfaction...". The "grunts", for me (having read nothing but what you've posted), puts the dialog into an even more confronting and distasteful context.
I wasn't sure, but, yeah, there's that too. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, and erring on the side of me being oversensitive in this case.

If Wolfman weren't normally so good about these things, I wouldn't have, but, yeah, he's pretty good. Women and PoC are normally treated really well by him - but I don't believe in not mentioning things just because normally someone is okay. I believe in calling that out, and mentioning that they're usually good about things.

This is pretty much Spear's story: he's an assassin and he doesn't get much else speaking time in this comic.
Murder by Death 1 year ago
Well, given only that frame, I could have talked myself into believing he's a character for whom English was a second (or third, etc) language - it's not totally believable, but I could have bought it in the spirit of giving the benefit of doubt; but the "grunted" makes it pretty clear that the inference is a lack of intelligence, or a bestial nature - and I can't sell that to myself as anything other than distasteful (at least). But to be clear, that's only my take from a single frame.
I think it was shocking because Wolfman usually doesn't write so, like you said, distastefully. But one mistake is different from systematically writing racist shit. That is, he's not doing it all the time, and one lapse? I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
Murder by Death 1 year ago
Fair enough. :)
Tigus 1 year ago
I had kinda forgotten about that fellow. Yes, my reaction to him was "okay that's a somewhat ill-advised approach to character creation, and he should probably be scrapped in favor of another design". he's part of that group of mercenaries and international assassins, none of whom are particularly memorable, or deftly depicted, with only a couple of panels before the Titans, and then Vigilante, dispatch them, and I think you have a point on this guy--even if you are going to create characters in haste, to be most likely treated as throwaway villains, I mean from a fictional standpoint where they are likely not to be used again, you want to avoid stereotypes. when I think of Marv Wolfman and Black characters, I think of Blade the Vampire Slayer and his friend Saffron and their great dialogue, their relationship, I think of Wolfman when he wrote Luke Cage, Powerman, and I don't remember any problems there (though maybe I need to revisit some of this material with a keener ear, an adult perspective of what to look for) with Chemistro obviously being a genius, well-spoken, a very smart man. I think of when Wolfman got to write Robbie Robertson, when he wrote Amazing Spider-Man, and Robbie is this clever, witty, insightful, compassionate newspaper editor that you would just love to meet and have as a friend; plus that series featured a villain called Dr. Boris Korpse who talks like Lex Luthor and can clearly outthink anyone around him. Wolfman's Nova series had The Condor: genius, inventor, master-planner. the list goes on and on--but yes, then we get this Spear depiction, and it's...not a good idea. as you pointed out, Grim, his dialogue isn't even consistent, almost as if someone realized something when they gave him one more scene later on. I can tell you that none of that team of villains (well, not really a team, as they were all freelance hired for the same basic job) were particularly inspired creations, or any comic-book creator's finest hour. and I had sort of let my brain roll by Spear.

he is the weirdest character to deal with, given Marv Wolfman's track record, before and after, with complex, interesting, well-rounded characters of various ethnic types--I forgot about that Night Force series...I don't remember ANY of the actual character names except for Baron Winters, but of the three teammates who did the fieldwork, I don't think the Black man was some awful, offensive depiction indicating a writer with issues; I remember a real guy with a full, complex essence that worked well as a strong character. so, yeah--bad choices with Spear, and I agree, a bit of a no-no, in terms of the accumulation of elements that play into stereotypes we don't need. I agree, and when he was given his scenes, I didn't like what the author was doing, and just sort of rolled past. I don't think any of that set of quickie villains ever appeared again. I would not blame you, Grim, if that particular character affected your entire Rating and Review. fair is fair, and you reap what you sough, in terms of fan reaction.
Exactly. He doesn't have a history, and I was actually listening to someone speaking about Bill Maher, and a, ah, poor choice of words. (And it was a slur against black people, yes.) What the guy speaking was saying was that he looks at history before making a decision: does Maher, or in this case Wolfman, have a history of racism and using inflammatory language carelessly? (In Maher's case, the man made a case that, yes, he does have a history - and so this becomes incredibly problematic.)

In Wofman's case, I don't believe he has a history of doing this, and so, as the gentleman on the radio said, it's not something that will follow him forever. As you prove, you remember the well crafted black characters.

This guy just struck me as odd. And you're right: none of the characters who were part of that mercenary band are particularly memorable. The black woman at least speaks intelligently, and the Asian character does as well. It just struck me as particularly noticeable, I think, because the other throwaway characters weren't, well, this.

And it's not going to affect my rating - although I will be like 'hey, there were these couple weird panels.' I'll actually probably mention it in a compare/contrast to Cyborg and the other mercenaries. Woflman's proven that he can do better, and while I don't expect him to be perfect, I don't feel bad about mentioning it. (Wolfman's in a catch-22: because he can do better, I really notice when he doesn't. But if he didn't do better, I'd be like, huh, he has a history of this. I figure better to be what Woflman is: damned good at a whole host of characters normally and one or two slips won't actually affect my rating.)
Tigus 1 year ago
some final thoughts I had while out today, shopping, getting a haircut, overspending on books again:

maybe when creating a character with only a few chances to make an impression--especially when trying to convey a nationality or place of origin--and ESPECIALLY when working with a character that is not of one's own background and so will be viewed by people of that ethnicity or background, perhaps that's when it's most important to not rely on easy choices and stereotypes just to hastily "ground" the character. clean it up, make it respectful, or don't do it.

it's a small point, but Mr. T was a popular character at the time, and was received very positively by many, and if there was going to be some clones of this kind of persona, you were going to see them in the 1980s. the difference is: Mr. T had many seasons of TV to solidify as a complex, three dimensional human being who lives beyond his initial persona. when Marv Wolfman just throws a character like Spear at us, there's nothing besides the initial accoutrements and, yah, stereotypes, to latch onto...and it's just not the way to go. I think part of it was he felt he was okay creating a character like this in contrast to other members of the mercenary team featured, and so he overdid it. it's like saying "I'm an alert enough writer to know there are all sorts of people in the world, and I'm not trying to insult anyone if--amongst the many, many complex characters of many ethnicities I create--I propose that a guy like this might exist.". the counter to that is "always think about the impression you're giving--and that no amount of positives you offer as a writer, that one negative, stereotyped image, character, is going to be held against you. and why deal characters like that. be imaginative, break from feeding the same narrow notions to your readers, and have that little light of respect ON, in your head, all the time. Try not to slip once.".

finally: y'know I see fellow readers here reading Agatha Christie, and loving her books, and certainly never in a million years planning to swear them off because some dusty, racist content, stereotypical, insulting characters--but they mention it! As have you, with this writer, this character. It's hard to avoid this shit, especially the further back you go, in years. I remember, in the 1970s, you could go the bookstore and buy a book of Polish jokes. you can't do that now, and good for that! I'm reading this wonderful Gogol book, considered a great work of insightful, humorous literature...and a character is suddenly described as "turning Jew" when he starts arguing prices. should the book be banned? should I stop reading it? do we cut parts out? really emphasize any little snippets like this that come up, when we go on the internet and spread the word about the book? maybe "Yes" to all those questions--certainly "Yes" to the last question! the internet spreads the word, gives the other person's perspective, opens the mind, points out shitty warts in the masterpieces that prove we still have a lot of change to make, even when it comes to the masterpieces! I love it. harder and harder for people to get away with this shit, even when we worship them for other stuff they achieve. and yah. as an eclectic reader, who will read material from any era and who hates censorship, I'm used to the fact that--every now and then--I'm gonna have wade through a bit of this shit.
I'm still planning on five starring this, by the way. You have incredibly valid points. And I just don't like 'well, that was that time period' as an excuse. (I've noticed, by the way, those same readers of Christie calling her out for her racism in her books. Just because you like something, it doesn't make it perfect.)

This hits me in the feels in all the right ways. And like I said, I don't think Wolfman is systematically racist. I think he took a lazy way out with one character. And given the change in how he speaks, I have to wonder if an ever more quickly approaching due date has to do something with that. (To be honest, that narrative/speech pattern change makes the OCD/anal aspect of myself grit my teeth as much as the other point.)

It's okay, though. I'm not gonna quit, nor am I going to hold this against the writer or the book. It was one bit of weirdness in it all. Look and see what I said about the history/time period. I understand /why/ it happened even if I don't agree with it. And I certainly can't let problematic make me stop reading things. I'd pretty much have to stop reading all the things.

Also, the creator of Kim and Kim has a really good take on this. She's a trans woman railing against a new comic called Alters, and her feeling that it's detrimental to the trans community by using trans stereotypes. However, others in the trans community feel empowered by it. She doesn't understand why, but she accepts it. That is: something is going to affect someone one way or not based on their own personal experiences - making what's offensive and what's not even more of a blurred line most times, if not all the time. I think this ties into Maggs' point: you can like something, but even if you love it the most of all, you can still call it out on what you feel is bullshit.