March 10, 2007
Story subplots and developments
that either got botched, or werenít even explored
By Avi Green
If youíre of the mind that comic books could use some interesting
story and character developments, plus some interesting subplots,
one of the reasons many comics today can turn out to be
disappointing is because these things either arenít resolved
satisfyingly, or worse, theyíre not even explored at all.
And itís not just at Marvel where story developments have all but
become non-existent by now, but also at DC, where it would seem as
though theyíre coming up with something, but lo and behold, they did
And I guess you could say that itís DC thatís disappointing here.
Our example for this meeting will be the writings of one Geoff
Johns, whose works I was otherwise frightened away from some time
ago. Thinking back upon some of his work, I saw that there were
quite a few subplots that couldíve had some workable character drama
in them, yet they were never dealt with.
Letís start first with the Flash. For example, there were at least
two new cast members introduced in 2001, police officers Fred Chyre
and Jared Morillo. The former seemed as though he might develop a
relationship with Iris West Allen (mostly because he wanted to be
close to the child of Julie Jackam, his late partner), the latter
developed a power to heal from any wound almost like a vampire after
being sliced by Cicada in the Blood Will Run storyline with some
kind of techno-dagger.
Not only that, but, there was also, as speculated at the time on
Johnsí own message board, that Morilloís wife, whom we didnít see
on-panel, was Fiona Webb, the girlfriend of Barry Allenís who almost
became his second wife before Barry was forced to slay Professor
Zoom to stop him from murdering her.
Youíd think that these kind of details could lead to some
interesting side developments, right? They certainly did have
potential for something of the sort. Well, guess what happened?
Presto, nothing came of them. It wasnít a matter of if they were
simply botched, like say, the initial revelation of whom the
Hobgoblin was during the late 1980s in Spider-Man. Rather, they were
tossed aside, virtually forgotten, and with Infinite Crisis, you
could say that it seems unlikely that theyíll do anything about them
In fairness to Johns, I will say that the first part of his Flash
run was splendid. It was after issue #191 that he slowly began to
run downhill and self-destruct. Mostly because, if story subplot
development couldíve been a winning formula for the Scarlet
Speedsterís book, then after the whole Crossfire arc was done,
thatís when any or all of these subplots shouldíve been explored.
Come to think of it, an action plot done with far less jarring
violence than what ďRun RiotĒ featured wouldíve been more welcome
too. But alas, jarring violence, something which has become a
questionable staple of some of Johnsí writing, is what we got. And
the subplots which couldíve made for some interesting developments?
Swept under the rug and practically canned and forgotten. Chyre and
Morillo were slowly phased out as supporting characters, and even
Julie Jackamís son, Josh, whose father is the Weather Wizard, was
forgotten pretty quickly too. This has the effect of making it seem
as though that whole plot was just done in order to give Mark Mardon
a renewed reason for wanting to antagonize the Flash, and little
This whole tendency of Johns to come up with story subplots that
were left unexplored was not limited to just the Flash Ė even books
like JSA, Hawkman, and even Teen Titans had at least one item that
was abandoned even before itíd begun. Like say, when the Society
brought in a new curator for the small museum they kept in their old
brownstone headquarters in New York City, and then he was offed some
time later. Or how about the budding romance between Wonder Girl and
Superboy, which first sparked at the start of the TT run and was
then trashed when Kon-El was offed during Infinite Crisis? And over
in Hawkman, it would seem as though he might develop an affair with
Jayita Sahir, a historian from India, until she was murdered by the
corrupt police chief Nedal?
None of these worthwhile subplots were ever followed through on
convincingly, if at all, and were all thrown out the window
Now personally, itís not like I consider character and story
developments, not to mention subplots, the most important thing
above all, even for Marvel Comics these days, where I can only
wonder if itíd be best to leave some of that on the back burner for
awhile. But if youíre not going to explore the subplots you came up
with in the book youíre writing, I can see no reason why to even
come up with them in the first place. Whatís the use, or the point?
Thus, I figured out what was wrong, or what became wrong, with Geoff
Johnsí writing. And thatís one of the reasons why Iím more careful
what I read of him today. Because heís not following through on
subplots that could have promise.
Itís not just him, of course. Even novelist Greg Rucka, I hate to
say, is becoming one of DCís more pretentious writers, and Mark Waid
seems to be losing it. How come? Well, letís just say that their
going along willingly with all the mishmash that grew out of
Identity Crisis, has hurt their credibility, as well as Ruckaís own
multicultural leaning in 52, where it looks as though heís willing
to follow through with an editorial mandate Ė replace Vic Sage, the
only Question for me, with Renee Montoya, a lesbian and former
Thatís the disturbing problem with the current DC, that theyíre
suddenly going the multicultural route by replacing some of their
more ďminorĒ characters with minority groups characters, presumably
because nobody will give a damn. But, as I for one can show, I do. I
have nothing against adding minority groups characters as stars and
such, but if itís going to be done at the expense of the everypeople
who came before them, then simply put, thatís doing something almost
similar to real life, when governments start belittling their own
native populations for the sake of immigrants, mostly illegal, and
whose loyalty to their adoptive country is questionable, for
example, by giving them welfare benefits that the natives donít seem
to get, and tolerating their abuse of said welfare to boot. As some
would say, itís like anti-white discrimination.
To make a point, thatís why, while as of today, I tend to buy trade
paperbacks much more than pamphlet issues, I have decided to boycott
the ďAll-New AtomĒ, because of the defamation of Ray Palmer and Jean
Loring. Itís not meant as a swipe at Gail Simone, her own
willingness to comply with editorial mandate notwithstanding, it is
simply meant to show that I have points on which I stand firm. And
if theyíre going to degrade/insult them as they have so far, then
simply put, I cannot and will not have anything to do with their
End of a Realm
Last year, an old website I used to frequent, Hero Realm, shut down
after being in operation for about six years.
Iíll be honest, I was really mad at the webmaster, Alex Hamby, after
he trash-talked about Identity Crisis, which I mentioned above, in
2004. Sometimes I wonder if I even overdid myself when slamming the
bizarre biases I felt heíd sunk into. And yet, strangely enough,
almost three years afterwards, I donít feel terribly worked up about
his actions anymore.
Is it because ultimately, he did lose audience as a result of his
dumbing down the site? Is it because there was a time when we
actually were on good terms? I may never know, and may never figure
In all that time since, Iíve turned to blogging, but even when Iím
writing about comic books, thatís but one thing that Iíve stopped
thinking about. And I certainly am not worked up about what the site
ended up becoming either.
It was certainly a shame that Hamby had to do something as dreadful
as he had, but somehow, as much as I detest Identity Crisis, I just
canít get worked up about his own sugarcoating of DCís miniseries.
It was really sad to see the site go, to be honest. But as they were
dumbing down the site and nobody was even trying to protest (if they
did, they were exiled, as I discovered), I guess it canít be all
But, Iím just not worked up about it anymore, and, as I once said, I
wish Hamby no ill. Itís now part of the past, and should remain
Simply put, the time has come to move on.
Copyright 2007 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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