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365 Reasons to Love Comics #30

Another day, another supporting character. This one features the second blind supporting character to appear in this theme fortnight so far!
1/30/07

30. Alicia Masters

Alicia Masters 1.jpg

Alicia Masters– blind paramour to Ben Grimm, companion of the Silver Surfer, expert sculptress, step-daughter of the Puppet Master. Great supporting cast member.

Stan and Jack knew the power of sheer poetry when they made the blind Alicia truly see beneath the monstrous shell of the Thing to the heart of the good man that he was.

Usually, she ended up as a pawn of her stepfather, the Puppet Master. Remember how, in the original story, she was a dead ringer for the Invisible Girl? There’s an interesting twist on the Ben/Alicia relationship. Ben had a crush on Sue for a while, there… Hmm.

Ben and Alicia have broken up and gotten back together multiple times. She married Johnny Storm that one time. But then Tom DeFalco decided that Alicia was really Lyja! It’s okay, though. I like that retcon.

When the Puppet Master isn’t busy with her, she’s probably getting carted off by someone or something in order to be the requisite damsel in distress:

Alicia Masters 3.jpg

She travelled with the Silver Surfer for a while there, and even gained the ability to see once or twice. Alicia and the Surfer’s friendship dates back to the famous Coming of Galactus story, in which Alicia was the one who convinced the Surfer that humanity was worth saving. So, there you go– she saved the world, albeit indirectly.

She’s also a very good friend to Sue, who is usually surrounded by dudes. Visible, Invisible– Alicia knows she’s there, and doesn’t have to see her to “see” her.

In the actually-released FF movie, she was played by Kerry Washington, an African-American actress. Some fanmen complained, but I think it added an extra layer of depth to her relationship with the Thing– remember people, it isn’t *about* physical appearance. Alicia being white isn’t central to the character. And besides, now we can get Morgan Freeman as the Puppet Master! …okay, so it’ll probably end up being Lou Gossett, Jr.

Alicia’s a very likable character. She rightfully deserves your fan love!

Maybe she could date I-Ching.

14 Comments

Supporting “character” might be a little strong here.

Supporting plot motivator/theme re-itterater would be more accurate.

(I’m soooo very not an Alicia fan. And here she is taking the # 30 supporting character slot that should belong to Willie Lumpkin.)

> Alicia being white isn’t central to the character.

Well, Alicia looking EXACTLY like Sue is central to her first appearance. :)

(I’m soooo very not an Alicia fan. And here she is taking the # 30 supporting character slot that should belong to Willie Lumpkin.)

I won’t let the year go by without Willie, I promise. I think he’s awesome and he was on the list for this week, but, you know, we can’t neglect the ladies.

but, you know, we can’t neglect the ladies.

That’s I-Ching talking, right there.

I guess I’m in the minority, but I didn’t like the retcon. I appreciated the idea that Ben and Alicia had moved on with their lives, and Ben wasn’t so uncomfortable with his rocky self any longer (of course, he reverted to human form in Walt Simonson’s run, which helped). The retconseemed really farfetched (not once did Reed, the smarted guy on Earth, ever pick up at Alicia wasn’t who she seemed?), and too much of a nostalgia “reset” to “the way things used to be.” (ie., the Kirby/Lee glory years). Given that it came right after Simonson’s terrific run (maybe the only definitive one since Kirby/Lee and Byrne, at the time) made the retcon look even weaker.

Forget Alicia Masters – the only blind Marvel supporting female for me is Blind Al! Deadpool’s confidant/captive/Bea Arthur-clone rules!

The retcon wasn’t just farfetched, it was actively inept. Supposedly, one of the keys to Alicia’s being a Skrull was that she couldn’t sculpt like Alicia did, and had turned to more “abstract” pieces. DeFalco harped on the fact that Alicia hadn’t done a realistic sculpture since before she and Johnny started dating.

Setting aside the rampant stupidity of sending a spy to impersonate a sculptress and not sending someone who can sculpt, there are at least two occasions where we see Alicia sculpt after she starts dating Johnny. One, in fact, has her sculpting She-Hulk, someone she didn’t even meet until after she was supposedly replaced.

But apart from the sloppy plotting of the retcon, it was just a bad idea. DeFalco basically said, “I don’t like the idea of Alicia developing as a character, I’ll just reset her back to the way she was before Byrne started writing the FF.” Then, having done so, he realized that he couldn’t also reset Ben and Johnny’s character development, which basically meant that it was a good five years before Alicia even appeared in a comic again because there was suddenly so much emotional baggage attached to the character–and even now, her appearances are very sparing for someone who was once an integral part of the FF. Alicia has really never recovered from the retcon. (And arguably, neither has Johnny, but that’s a topic for another angry rant.)

I still have to laugh at finding an old interview with Tom DeFalco on the FF run, which featured the quote, “I want it to start out bad, and just keep getting worse and worse.” With straight lines like that, who needs punchlines?

Does the Weeping Gorilla count as a supporting character? If so, you should definately do him.

RE the Lyja retcon of the Johnny/Alicia romance…it was not only inept, it was lifted from a Levitz/Giffen Legion plotline over at DC, years before!

In a storyline that had stretched for years, Colossal Boy’s longtime crush on Shrinking Violet was eventually reciprocated and they became an “item,” inspite of Violet’s long-term, long-distance relationship with another guy (Duplicate Boy of the Heroes of Lallor)(yes, I’m a geek). But it is eventually revealed that this Violet is actually a Durlan (those are DC’s alien shapeshifters) spy, and the real Violet was being held captive.

…And, years later, the same thing happens to poor Johnny Storm. He should have been reading the Legion.

I’d love to see someone make a list of such re-occurring plotlines that have appeared across different comic companies. One could start with Swamp-Thing/Man-Thing and go from there…

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 11:32 am

How could I not think of Alicia Masters when I was trying to come up with strong female supporting characters!
You are so right.

Kirby and Lee were trailblazing again when they created her. What a brilliant way to illustrate the old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” to show the sentimantal aspect of Ben Grimm.

Maybe DeFalco didn’t do it right when he tried to fic Byrne’s mess, but I was still happy he did it. I thought that Byrne went very wrong when he made her reject Ben Grimm for Johnny Storm. I had been a big fan of Byrne’s FF up to then. He was the only one to make the FF interesting since Lee and Kirby’s run at the time. I dropped the title when he did that stupid stunt with Alicia. I must not have been the only one because Byrne was removed (or left of his own) from FF not long after that. He had pretty much run out of ideas of what to do to shake things up anyway, and Fantastic Four was slipping from the top sellers ranks where it had been for most of Byrne’s run.

The Kirbydotter

March 10, 2007 at 11:45 am

After I-Ching and Alicia Masters, besides the obvious Daredevil, another very interesting blind character was Dagger (of the Cloak and Dagger duo) from Terry Austin’s (yes, that Terry Austin!) stint as writer of the adventures of the light&darkness team in the late 80′s. I think they were published in an anthology series called Strange Tales edited by Carl Potts and also featured Doctor Strange adventures. Or maybe it was in the Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger series?

I met Terry Austin at a convention at the time and he told me how he had thoroughly done his research about recently blind persons adapting to their new life. I don’t remember how Dagger had become blind but I though it was brilliantly written by Austin. Austin’s stint was sadly short lived, the series was cancelled, and I don’t think he wrote a regular title after that. Must have been a blow to him to invest himself so much into something and get the rug pulled from under him.

You guys should try to hunt these gems down and read them.

I can see why some people didn’t like the Alicia thing ( I personally don’t care). Instead of the beauty beneath the beast thing, she ended up with the most handsome character possible. Not that she could see, but the reader could. To the reader Ben got dumped for the pretty boy. ……. hehe what would shake things up more then Sue and Reed breaking up. They’ve made Sue way too powerful. They’ve practically have made her a telekinetic… which are all way too powerful in the marvel universe anyway.

The Kirbydotter if you ever read this thanks I’ve been thinking about picking up some Cloak and Dagger comics for awhile now. So a recommendation is great.

I think there is great potential but every story I’ve read has something happen to Dagger and then Cloak teaming up with somebody(Usally Spiderman) to rescue/revenge her.

If anyone other than I has ever read the ‘John Harkness’ issues at the end of Englehart’s run, when he was using the dreams to show the plans he’d had for future plots, you’ll see that he had a much better way to split up Johnny and Alicia and return her to Ben. I don’t know why DeFalco couldn’t have used it. (Maybe because it had already been shown in the dream.) Of course, the marriage had been kind of rushed in the first place– they could’ve just broken up like a normal couple. That would’ve made a lot of sense. I don’t understand Marvel’s aversion to normal divorces.

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