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Jerry Ordway on the Darkening of Mary Marvel

With the release of Countdown #47, I thought it would be interesting to hear from one of the creators who has spent the most time working with the Marvel Family, Jerry Ordway. Here’s Mr. Ordway’s thoughts on the darkening of the Marvel Family. – BC

CTDW-Cv47_solicit.jpg

I think that I, like most Captain Marvel fans, am very loyal to the original concepts. But I sure don’t mean to come across as someone who thinks it can only be done by CC Beck. During my run on the title, I honestly tried to do the character as a 1960’s Marvel comic, as my way of updating it, but not trashing the groundwork that Fawcett had. I know even at that time, certain comic fans wanted us to ditch the wholesomeness, and go for grim and gritty, but I think that would be a slap in the face to the original creators.

I had issues with the time that Peter David “borrowed” Mary Marvel for a Supergirl crossover, and immediately wanted to have her sexually molested in his story. Then Keith Giffen wanted her to lose her virginity in Formerly Known as the Justice League! Now it looks like the movement to gritty Mary up are finally getting their way in Countdown.

I know there are fans out there who are disdainful of any character who is wholesome and good, and dream of dragging that character through the mud just for spite. I go to comic stores, and have heard it all.

As to the dark Mary Marvel– it’s just playing into a few fans’ hands. Whether it turns out well or not will play out in Countdown. I have 3 kids who like different stuff, and variety makes the world go round, but I do steer them clear of most of the mainstream comics. They can read what they want when they are older, but I have introduced them to appropriate material first. But having every comic book feature dark, moody and self-centered teens or adults is shortchanging the marketplace of positive, heroic, self sacrificing HEROES. With dark, you must have some light. The Marvel Family and Superman were heroes to look up to, because they did the right thing, even when that choice meant sacrifice from them.

I’m no prude, but if you want to “violate” the intent of a character, create a new damn character, will you? Just my opinion.

Edited to add: Jerry added the following in the comments of this piece:

Brian Cronin forwarded a little rant I had to this thread, and it’s stirred up some comments, which is great. I certainly wasn’t judging Countdown prematurely, as I hope to like it as much as “52.” My feelings on the overall darkening of comics in general, is what the post is really about. I read a fair amount of comic books, and I guess I’m an old fart, as I would like to see a little more optimism, and true heroics in the industry. Almost every character has been recast, it seems, for today’s audience, but many have lost what made them special. My original post addresses my own battles for 4 or 5 years, when I was writing Power of Shazam, with other editors “borrowing” the books characters for their own stories. I am not criticizing Peter David for wanting to write a comic about child molestation, just his inclination to use Mary Marvel as his victim. In the printed comic, his original storyline was watered down at the insistence of the Shazam editor and myself. If he’s writing Supergirl, he can do whatever he wants to her, so long as the editor approves. When borrowing a character, you don’t have that right. Again, I have no beef with Peter.

As for the Giffen story about wanting to have Mary Marvel lose her virginity and revert to the red costume, it was something I heard from a decent source, and sounds like the type of thing Keith would pitch, if only to shake up the room. Again, no beef with Giffen, whose work I love. Just trying to illustrate what I have observed, of the seeming need of fans/creators to drag a so-called innocent character through the mud.

Someone else pointed out that it would be boring for heroes to not get dragged through the mud, and that conflict equals good story. I agree wholeheartedly, but one can do that without turning a character into a murderer, or something. Spider-Man was a hero. He did the right thing whether it cost him personally. Sure he moaned about it later, that the police were after him, or the Daily Bugle was after him, or whatever, but he STILL was heroic.

I just read the current Countdown, and I am fine with it. I don’t own the Marvel Family characters, and no longer control their stories. When I read it, I am just a comic fan. Best, JEr

96 Comments

While I think that Ordway has some very valid points, espeically in regards to how Mary was treated in the past, we have seen two pages of her new persona. All we know is that she is currently taking on the powers of Black Adam and that, somewhere, down the line, she will face temptation and corruption.

For all we know, she could end the series by being more wholesome than she ever was.

I’m really sick of all the knee-jerk reactions that the comic reading community is throwing all over the place lately. We don’t know that the core of Mary is being “violated.” Unless he has seen Dini’s complete plan for where the character is going, he is just in the dark as we are. I’m not ready to pass judgement on the new “darker” Mary Marvel until I see how the story unfolds.

We need to see everything Mary Marvel is not so we can appreciate how awesome she is for her eventual return to her roots.

Adam – That’s what I hope is happening here.

That bit about “Formerly Known as the Justice League” kind of puzzles me. It seems like Mary losing her virginity would have stopped the book dead in its tracks. She’s such an over-the-top caricature of naiveté there that I can’t imagine how such an event would have been worked in to the story.

Anyway, I’m glad it’s not there.

I’d like to think that Dini has some idea what he’s doing (despite some comments he’s made recently) and that this is going to be a journey/morality play/what not, and the character (and potentially the audience) is going to come out of this more mature and wiser, though not necessarily more grim and gritty.

I could be wrong, but I’d rather see the story play out than judge it beforehand.

I figure Dini deserves that much given his past work and the way he’s handled properties.

ye olde iowa!!! wow. someone posting a reasonable, thoughtful comment on a comics website. actually asking folks to read the WHOLE story before mouthing off.

how refreshing.

The point is they didn’t do those things, I wouldn’t even have know of those writers intents if you didn’t tell me. I think Mary Marvel will come out of this an absolute heroine, more wholesome than before. You have to take the characters to the brink or no one will care about them. They have to come out of it better than before. I’m all for changing Mary Marvel, using her as a character and not just a caricature of wholesomeness.

Oh I hope that she goes back to normal in the end.

I think Joe Q made a good point in his Newsarama interview that can be applied to this situation. I’d quote it here, but the response is pretty long; the jist of it is, however, that bad stuff happens to superheroes. If they’re not put in peril, they can’t get out of the peril, grow, and otherwise do things fictional characters do.

I mean, look at the Ralph and Sue thing. Yeah, Identity Crisis was pretty brutal, but now that the arc is finished, we find Ralph and Sue out of the dark place they were ushered into, and solving mysteries as a married pair of ghost detectives. And perhaps more importantly, a whole new generation of comic readers got to see an awesome story about the two characters; how much they need eachother, what depths Ralph could sink to without Sue there, and how, ultimately, he heroicly took back his place in the light.

If, in the end, this was just throwing mud on Mary and it’s quietly retconned in hopes we’ll forget about it? Then that is the time to complain, because all that strife and pain was for nothing, and all that story potential was wasted.

Yeah, occasionaly comic writers can sound like overeager frat boys. But man, who hasn’t said something that could be taken the wrong way? Or just something dumb that didn’t convey their meaning right?

You make some good points, and I think there’s definately a place for people to go, “Guys, cut it out, seriously.”, but at the same time, I feel that a lot of comic fans are so quick to judge something as negative based on a mixed first impression that they’re missing out on some great stories that’re being told.

If you wanna see Joe Q’s comment in full, it’s in this interview, bout halfway in: http://www.newsarama.com/NewJoeFridays/NewJoeFridays49.html

The problem is, writers seem to be inconsistent or at least taking their sweet time about pulling characters out of peril. The Ralph and Sue arc you mentioned took THREE YEARS to resolve, and a lot of the big events have ended on these ambiguous pyrrhic victories instead of genuine cathartic release.

You have to be able to handle the highs as well as the lows to write good serial fiction. So far, the latter have been emphasized to such a degree that I’m skeptical of the “Dark Mary” subplot (which I don’t find that interesting to start with) being resolved satisfactorily.

I think wholesale revamps are a sign of writer laziness. It’s infinitely easier to bend a character to a new plot or storyline than remain true to the motivations and roots of a character.

We see this all the time with Bendis at Marvel (“let’s take a hero and throw away X years of continuity, because I think a “reboot” is more intersting”). Byrne also did it with a number of characters (including Superman, I think) in the 80s.

The harder challenge for these writers would be to contemporize a character, remain fresh and address current issues. But again, that would take time and effort…which would take away from all those screenplays and multimedia deals they’re pitching.

Stephen Bergstrom

June 7, 2007 at 11:43 am

Someone once said “Don’t give the readers what they want, but what they THINK they want.”

Just adding my voice to those that say this isn’t totally played out yet. Give Mary a chance.

Stanley L. Walker

June 7, 2007 at 11:44 am

I wholeheartedly agree with Ordway. What’s more is there have been numerous proposals to do this to the Marvels before. That for SHAZAM: A NEW BEGINNING actually made it to print.

It was not welcome and largely dismissed because it was against the spirit of these characters.

I like my heroes actually heroic and inspiring and as people to aspire to.

But clearly, among the allegedly shrinking comics readership I am a minority.

Here’s hoping COUNTDOWN doesn’t do TOO much damage.

Unfortunately, if you wait until a story “plays out”, it is often too late to go back and fix things.

Face it, the Marvel Family will never become the Dark Knight. They are what they are, and as Jerry Ordway said, create a new character if you need to go down that avenue.

If anything, give the Marvel’s the same type of relaunch that has been afforded The Spirit. The character retains the core elements that made the originals so readable, and the “update” allows the character to face new realities that challenge their values. Turning Mary Marvel “dark” serves no purpose, other than to sell a handful of extra issues. Perhaps that is the ONLY reason to tinker?

Doug Atkinson

June 7, 2007 at 11:45 am

I should point out that Mary wasn’t molested in the Supergirl crossover story, or anything like it; she overreacted to a police officer who was coming on too strong.

While I may have to concede that the Ralph and Sue storyline was decent storytelling, I still feel a bit disapoointed that it was the best that could be done for or to them. From reading Identity Crisis, 52 and Justice I’m getting the impression that Ralph is coming in second behind Plastic Man. I may be wrong. It just seems that the story was put a bit forced.

I think the jury is still out on Mary Marvel, but it sure would suck to have high hopes or expectations and then be disappointed. Again.

Just my two cents

I seem to recall Mary’s appearance in PAD’s Supergirl as being used as example of everything Linda wasn’t….a noble, powerful, confident in herself, hero, while Linda was always trying and somewhat failing to distance herself from her dark past. (but I grant it’s been a while since I read the story).

The Mary taking Adam’s power is the first interesting thing that’s happened in Countdown…and as the powers still come from Shazam, aren’t they the same as Billy’s (as opposed to the days they were from a bunch of evil gods)?

I’ll be all behind Ordaway if the story ends and Mary’s some dark superslut. But I gotta agree with Iowa (jim?) and say give the story more than 4 pages to judge.

Jerry Ordway has long been a hero of mine, and I too was curious what he’d think of this storyline. I wouldn’t say, as other posters have, that he’s necessarily passing judgment on the storyline without seeing how it develops. I think he’s more showing concern over this trend of “darkening” sunny and hopeful characters. It appears, so far, as though he has good reason to be concerned.

I think he’s pretty bang-on, though. I don’t see the merit in changing a very well-established (and more or less, well-liked) character into something it never was before. I’m willing to see where the story goes, but I too am deeply concerned, given how fast and loose DC seems to be playing with the Marvel family these days. For my money, Jerry’s take in the 90s was perfect. They were modern stories, but Jerry didn’t feel he had any need, or RIGHT to alter these characters. He just made them work as they were, for who they were. In the end I think these characters will outlast any of the recent cosmetic or even fundamental changes that have been attempted of late.

I’d like to point out, that so far, Mary isn’t “dark”…she’s just wearing a black costume. It’s not like the lightning hit her and she went off and killed a kitten.

Jason Glaspie

June 7, 2007 at 11:54 am

Teth Adam had his magic word changed by Billy the Wizard. He couldn’t access his powers until he learned the new word, and it was supposed to be one that Black Adam would have a hard time just guessing. He then has access to all his powers and it seems he is still miserable. Enter Mary, someone else looking for her lost powers just like he did. Without too much hooplah, he relinquishes his mojo to her with the only after thought being for her to tell her brother “sorry” for him.

I think this is to show that Teth Adam finally “got it” and is showing guilt, remorse, etc and wants to move on (“Sorry” being the word needed to access his gods). He learned his lesson and then passed it on to Mary, a fellow seeker of what was lost.

His powers were never “dark”, they were just like Billy’s. His personality led him to use them in a dark manner; he wasn’t corrupted by darkness inherent in them. Other than a style of dress that reminds the reader of where the powers came from, Mary should just be Mary again. Anything else is something that will be revealed in upcoming plots.

The only knee jerk I have is why the word “Shazam” worked for Teth Adam to transfer his power to Mary… and that is a minor knee jerk. One I am sure will be explained later. In the mean time, I plan to read on and not get my undies in a bunch. Reactionary is never a good basis for anything.

Stanley L. Walker

June 7, 2007 at 11:55 am

Scavenger, that was the ongoing series and in the later issues during the quest for her more angelic half (and powerful) self.

The story Ordway is talking about took place in the PLUS annual that paired Supergirl and Mary Marvel. It was more than a little unflattering and uncomfortable.

Mary Marvel's Pimp

June 7, 2007 at 11:57 am

Ye Olde Iowa, it’s clearly said in the original post that, “Whether it turns out well or not will play out in Countdown.” Doesn’t seem like a knee-jerk reaction or any kind of slam on where Countdown is going. Perhaps you should go back and reread the original article again and rethink your comments. The only knee-jerk reaction going on here is yours… :)

The problem is, writers seem to be inconsistent or at least taking their sweet time about pulling characters out of peril. The Ralph and Sue arc you mentioned took THREE YEARS to resolve

I think in that particular case there wasn’t even an ‘arc’ for Ralph and Sue. The character was murdered in Identity Crisis, end of story. I think the writers of 52 wanted to have some kind of a happy ending, so they put it in. I don’t think it was an arc where they said “Can you kill of Sue but have her be reuinited at the end with Ralph as a ghost”

We see this all the time with Bendis at Marvel (”let’s take a hero and throw away X years of continuity, because I think a “reboot” is more intersting”).

Kind of off the topic at hand, but I disagree with you here. I think the reason Bendis’ Daredevil was my favourite superhero comic of the past five years was precisely that he didn’t throw away X years of continuity but built on the character’s backstory in ways that were fascinating and inevitable

In any event, I think continuity is a giant maguffin. What this is about isn’t continuity, but rather understanding the tone and concept of a character. And I think DC has missed the point on the Marvels for a year or so now.

Scavenger, no dice on me being anyone named Jim. Sorry!

MMPimp, I did read Mr. Ordway’s comments several times before I made my post. He did concede that he has yet to see everything play out, but only after he ranted about stories that didn’t actually happen and after he stated that changes to Mary’s character would be a “slap in the face” to her creators. Then he closed it by accusing the Countdown Crew of “violating” the core of the character. It seems to me that it is pretty clear that he has already made up his mind, despite seeing the entirity of the storyline.

I’ve reread his post several more times as well as my own reaction. I still stand by my thoughts that he is jumping the gun on condemning what they are doing in Countdown without seeing the whole story.

> His powers were never “dark”, they were just like Billy’s. His personality led him to use them in a dark manner; he wasn’t corrupted by darkness inherent in them.

Actually, post-Zero Hour (i.e., in Mr Ordway’s issues), Teth-Adam *was* the powers, where the non-powered half – his descendent, Theo Adam – was a separate guy.

Silver Age is Lame Any Way

June 7, 2007 at 12:14 pm

I can’t wait until Grant Morrison gets ahold of the Marvel family and turns Mary into a superpowered teen lesbian meth addict. Now THERE is a chance for redemption.

Hey everyone, I do agree that when the comic industry has the chance to revised “old-school” characters like the “Marvels” (Who I love) I do think that they should think very hard on what the foundation that the comic property was built on and then from there see what can grow from it. Mind you- when I say grow. I mean not in the degree where it’s a simple T&A, blood fest, limited series to appease the few “fanboys” out there but instead something that will make the property enjoyable for all… And hopefully add more to the Mythology of the character(s)
I’m currently self-publishing on my own comic book “PEACE” and I know that I will be facing a huge mountain. My mindset is of the comics of yesteryears. I love the writing and sequential story telling of the comics from the 60’s,70’s and 80’s, which in turn inspires me and my story. Does anyone remember ongoing series instead of limited series?
My initial feelings on the picture above of dark Mary Marvel above is a blank (honestly). I’m not going to hate on DC for trying something different, something new. I just hope that they don’t forget where the real magic came from that create those beloved characters.
nuff said
Peace

> > His powers were never “dark”, they were just like Billy’s. His personality led him to use them in a dark manner; he wasn’t corrupted by darkness inherent in them.
>
> Actually, post-Zero Hour (i.e., in Mr Ordway’s issues), Teth-Adam *was* the powers, where the non-powered half – his descendent, Theo Adam – was a separate guy.

Side-Note to that, Theo was gradually subsumed by Teth, it didn’t happen overnight.

I haven’t been exactly thrilled with the direction the Marvels have taken recently, but I do understand somewhat that they didn’t really fit into the DCU as they were.

Fortunately they just brought Earth 5(S) back. Here’s hoping they set some more stories there soon. (I assume the Jeff Smith Shazam story takes place on Earth 5.) As long as the sweet, charming, even goofy Marvel Family exists somewhere, I’m not going to get upset over the changes to their New Earth counterparts.

While I think that Ordway has some very valid points, espeically in regards to how Mary was treated in the past, we have seen two pages of her new persona. All we know is that she is currently taking on the powers of Black Adam and that, somewhere, down the line, she will face temptation and corruption.

I think Ordway acknowledges that, hence why he says “Whether it turns out well or not will play out in Countdown.” he just doesn’t care. I think his point, and it’s a valid one, is that whether or not the journey makes the character better or back to what it was only better, putting this character on the such a journey isn’t a good idea in the first place.

I can’t wait until Grant Morrison gets ahold of the Marvel family and turns Mary into a superpowered teen lesbian meth addict. Now THERE is a chance for redemption.

Wow, anonymous people making knee-jerk remarks on the Internet. What a new invention.

The irony is that in at least one interview I got the impression that Morrison was unimpressed with the whole ‘darkening’ of Mary Marvel.

The only problem is DC tends to take characters to the brink, and then toss them over to “satisfy fans.” And yet, not too many people are actually satisfied in the end.

Yeah, Morrison strikes me as a lot similar to Ordway in his view of the Marvels.

I can’t wait until Grant Morrison gets ahold of the Marvel family and turns Mary into a superpowered teen lesbian meth addict. Now THERE is a chance for redemption.

Just a side-note: Those three pages of that one issue of the Invisibles that you read?

Don’t really represent the rest of Morrison’s body of work.

I take back what I said, she can keep the costume.

But I still don’t want her to turn dark or edgy for the same reason I don’t like seeing any characters becoming dark, I read comics to see stories and characters with generally happy people where good triumphs over evil, not relative good triumphs over relative evil.

If I wanted to see that, I would just look outside.

DC is pretty much ruined anyway, thanks to Countdown, 52, Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis. The attempts to create a cohesive continuity with 52 Earths in and of itself is a contradiction. Darkening Mary Marvel, killing Shazam, and turning Captain Marvel into the new, albino Shazam was incredibly stupid.

I just hope when she finally decides to be good again that they revamp that white costume she used to wear. White just isn’t a good color for superheroes. I know Ordway changed her from a red costume to a white one to sort of color-code the Marvel Family. Red for Cap, blue for Junior and white for Mary… you also get that whole “red, white & blue” Americana thing going. But white is just too “blah” for superhero wear… they really need bright colors (or, in the case of Batman and other darker heroes, dark colors). Maybe Mary needs to go back to something in a red? I’m just sayin’ is all.

I think this is just another attempt by DC to try the push factor.
Just how many times will DC screw a character up only to fix it down the road?
As a lifelong fan of DC, I grow tired with their attempts to darken characters. They did it to Hal.
I’m saddened when I think DC may be their own worse enemies.
We go from multiple Earths, to just one, and now back to 52. Maybe if the current creators would take more time in planning their stories they wouldn’t have to fix everything in 10 years. Hal’s back, Ollie’s back, yet Barry is still dead. And just when we get used to Wally, he’s gone too. They killed Booster just to bring him back. (in a vary bad story) But Beetle is still dead. Just how long will the new Beetle be around until DC brings back Ted.
While I believe Mr. Dini to be a great storyteller, I fear what he does may have to be fixed at a later date.
I think Mr. Ordway has a point. I’m sure Mr. Dini could have created a new character. He has the ability.
I wish DC would stop with whatever present resentment they have towards the Marvels. I began reading comics in the 70’s with DC reprints of the Marvels and dare say I like Captain Marvel more than Superman.
I will wait to see what Mr Dini does to Mary before judging any further.

Does anybody know anything more about his Giffen/FKatJL claim? That really doesn’t sound like would’ve fit anywhere in that story as it played out.

Stan: Ah! The Plus issue…ok…all I remember about it was that I realllllllllly didn’t like it.

I don’t believe that Jeff Smith’s Shazam takes place on Earth 5…it’s too different from classic Captain Marvel…which shows the inherrant problem of the rigid multiverse approach DC does.

Another “grim & gritty” Image-style butchering.

While Dini has a track record that makes me hopeful, little DC has done in regards to heroines in the past 10-15 years (or heroes in big events recently, for that matter) inspires much reason for confidence.

Odds that Billy finds Mary’s corpse in a fridge at the end of this crossover: 52.93% and climbing. ;)

Sorry, but the “read the whole story first” argument is total baloney.

I agree that people should react to what is written, and not speculation, but that doesn’t mean they have to wait until the story’s done. It means that they are totally entitled to react to what’s been PUBLISHED.

After all, if Dini and DC didn’t want us to react to the story mid-way, they would have published it all in one piece. They have chosen to break it up, and therefore it’s only natural to react to each part.

Maybe Watchmen would’ve been more interesting if the Question was at the center, but I think Rorschach held up the story just fine. It’s not like I read it and think, “hmm, wouldn’t this be better with Peacemaker?” Instead, I’m enthralled by the story with these strange new characters.

There are so many creators trying to do their take on Miracle Man, instead of simply finding something fun about the Marvel Family. Which is a shame. Economics says that there’s more money to be made with a magical, FUN Captain Marvel instead of a grim and gritty, angsty adventurer. Maybe the point of making Mary Marvel dark is to let her come out as a lighter character in the end.

In which case, I’ll check back in a year after the story. If the character feels like she’d be fun to read, I’ll read it. As it is, the story just looks kind of creepy and weird.

The thing no one’s mentioning here is Trials. I think that if all our Marvel mayhem lately had been in 52 and Monster Society, we’d be reacting very differently to Mary in Countdown. As has been noted, she hasn’t really done anything bad. I don’t like the cover picture, but the story so far is all just set-up, and a black costume doesn’t make for a villain or even a corrupt hero. I for one would be thinking, “huh, wonder where they’re going with this?” rather than, “oh, crap, *that’s* where they’re going.”

But Trials means that we have reason to think that DC’s going out of its way to darken and coarsen the characters. And it’s such a many-times-over shame precisely because Ordway did such great work on POS and showed that the Marvels could still *be* the Marvels and have great superhero stories told about them. One of my favorite things about the 90s DCU was the idea that it could have Opal City and Fawcett City in it at the same time, and they could each have good reasons for being like they were and could have good stories told within them as well as coexisting with a broader super-hero universe.

Relatedly: I read Supergirl on the rack, because I wanted to see whether there was going to be some “the Supergirl from LSH reintegrates with and improves Super-Britney.” Instead, we got a script that put fans’ objections to the character into the mouth of a villain, in their screechiest possible caricatured form, so that the writer–speaking through the hero– could tell us why the fans were all wrong to object. Then we got a fricking Monitor giving us the “Kyle is the one true Green Lantern”– ahem– “Super-Britney is the one true Supergirl” speech. Really bizarre to have the idea that we might want slightly more wholesome heroes from at least the Superman family actively treated with contempt on the page. And, again, makes me accord DC zero benefit of the doubt about where they’re going with Mary.

Frankly, I trust DiDio about as far as I can spit him.
We keep getting this ‘Wait and see before you pass judgment’ routine, but let’s be honest-
We’ve had Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, 52, WWIII, and now Countdown, and we’re supposed to believe that all of a sudden, it’s gonna start being GOOD?

You sound like girlfriends on the Jerry Springer show, “Yeah, I know DC’s been treating me like shit since 1994, but they’ll come good. Just give ‘em a chance…”

C’mon.

Jason Glaspie said:

“I think this is to show that Teth Adam finally “got it” and is showing guilt, remorse, etc and wants to move on (”Sorry” being the word needed to access his gods). ”

No, in actuality, ‘antiquing’ was the word needed to access his gods. Or possibly ‘non-alcoholic’. In any event, it was from the database of words he almost never says.

>>I don’t believe that Jeff Smith’s Shazam takes place on Earth 5…it’s too different from classic Captain Marvel…which shows the inherrant problem of the rigid multiverse approach DC does.

Hmm. Part of that last comment got eaten. I was trying to reply with “Maybe that story took place on an alternate Earth 5″.

A couple of random comments: from the house ads, it looked like Mary was going to get Eclipsed at some point during the countdown proceedings, which strikes me as a fair way to briefly have a dark-ish Mary without doing too much long-term damage…

Also, my guess on the Giffen story is that it was going to be a punchline, late in the series. (Someone says something in her presence about her being such a sweet, virginal little thing and she comes back with a ‘No, I’m not; there was this cute guy at…’. Weak enough to not be worth doing, of course, but could make story sense…)

I find the “wait til the story’s over” defense lacking as well. Let’s say a guy comes up to you every hour on the hour and smacks you with a baseball bat. The next time you see the guy, he’s walking toward you, bat in hand. Should you really be criticized for assuming he’s going to hit you again? Should you “wait and see” if he does?

There has been nothing to indicate the Mary storyline is anything but a continuation of the horribly wrong direction DC has taken the Marvels in. I feel perfectly justified in saying “Thank you, no.”

I’m perfectly willing to acknowledge that THIS time, yeah, it might work out okay. But history dosen’t suggest it. Perhaps the Marvels will emerge as the great characters they once were.

Great.

Call me when that happens, okay?

Uh-oh! A superhero appears to be turning evil!! This is most definitely the first time this has ever happened ever!!!! Nothing will ever be the same!!!!!

I can’t believe someone as talented as Ordway would fall for this old gag.

I think this is a great move. fans will love the idea of having another bad person in the marvel family line-up. although i don’t like the idea of mary being that one i believe its much better that someone close to the marvel family wound up having the power of shazam and being as bad as adam. anyways lets see what this turn out. oh and if you guys make her bad please dont make her good again. or if you do not for a while.

“Does anybody know anything more about his Giffen/FKatJL claim? That really doesn’t sound like would’ve fit anywhere in that story as it played out.”

According to Giffen himself, it would’ve been a subtle joke- Mary would go on a date with Guy Gardner, and then stop wearing her white costume- a subtle hint that she had lost her virginity. Thankfully DC didn’t go for it- back then. Like most people have said here, I have little faith that DC will handle this well after all the character assassinations they’ve done since Identity Crisis.

DC needs an equivalent of Buffy’s Faith in their universe.

How come bad girls always dress like sluts?
Can’t there be more conservatively dressed bad girls?
Surely shorter skirts does not make one bad?

She’s turned into a goth! she must be bad!
It’s as annoying as when Batman beat up on actual punks with mo hawks and shit.

Like obviously the writer had a problem with the sex pistols.

In about 4 years time, when superboy comes back, it will be as an emo.

Oh wait it was already done in spider-man 3.
LAME>

I don’t actually have a problem with ‘darkening’ of mary marvel.

just the way she looks.

I think we should feel free to judge one little bit of the story because that is the way that they are produced.

The one and two shot stories that Dini is writing in Detective are great. But who expects to be satisfied with 1/ 52nd of an epic?

The problem is that we are expecting short story pacing in a novel. They’re incompatible.

Sign me up with the “come up with a new character” school of thought (doubly so for TRIALS OF SHAZAM, which I find interesting, but not when it incorporates the Marvels). The fact is, no-one to date has ever managed a grittty/realistic take that worked better than the old CC Beck/Otto Binder stories–though I did enjoy E. Nelson Bridwell’s work on the Marvels back in th seventies.

A reprint line from the old Fawcett books would suit me just fine (at a cheaper price than the Archives), and it would certainly appeal to younger readers.

I’ve never been a fan of the Marvel family. Captain Marvel and Black Adam are enough for me. I thought the concept of the magical family was really hokey. I also didn’t grow up in the sixties…twenty years later in fact.

I understand Jerry’s points. With the recent reveal of the multiverse I understand why DC is doing this. Cause now they have their own Fawcett universe where Mary is sweet, innocent, and wholesome. Yet in the DCU New Earth they are going to update this Mary to fit in a bit better. Captain Marvel fit in nicely the DCU…Mary, Jr, and the stupid Tiger never did. Now they have their own universe where the die hard fans of the Family can enjoy them. Now lets make this Mary cool so everybody else can enjoy her.

Mainstream comics ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN. Ever since they went direct market IMO they haven’t been. It’s the main problem with comics these days. I like kid comics! I love the JLU series personally. But I also love the current JLA. :)

Brian Cronin forwarded a little rant I had to this thread, and it’s stirred up some comments, which is great. I certainly wasn’t judging Countdown prematurely, as I hope to like it as much as “52.” My feelings on the overall darkening of comics in general, is what the post is really about. I read a fair amount of comic books, and I guess I’m an old fart, as I would like to see a little more optimism, and true heroics in the industry. Almost every character has been recast, it seems, for today’s audience, but many have lost what made them special. My original post addresses my own battles for 4 or 5 years, when I was writing Power of Shazam, with other editors “borrowing” the books characters for their own stories. I am not criticizing Peter David for wanting to write a comic about child molestation, just his inclination to use Mary Marvel as his victim. In the printed comic, his original storyline was watered down at the insistence of the Shazam editor and myself. If he’s writing Supergirl, he can do whatever he wants to her, so long as the editor approves. When borrowing a character, you don’t have that right. Again, I have no beef with Peter.
As for the Giffen story about wanting to have Mary Marvel lose her virginity and revert to the red costume, it was something I heard from a decent source, and sounds like the type of thing Keith would pitch, if only to shake up the room. Again, no beef with Giffen, whose work I love. Just trying to illustrate what I have observed, of the seeming need of fans/creators to drag a so-called innocent character through the mud.
Someone else pointed out that it would be boring for heroes to not get dragged through the mud, and that conflict equals good story. I agree wholeheartedly, but one can do that without turning a character into a murderer, or something. Spider-Man was a hero. He did the right thing whether it cost him personally. Sure he moaned about it later, that the police were after him, or the Daily Bugle was after him, or whatever, but he STILL was heroic.
I just read the current Countdown, and I am fine with it. I don’t own the Marvel Family characters, and no longer control their stories. When I read it, I am just a comic fan. Best, JEr

Countdown is plodding, dull and ugly on most counts so far, and I’m no fan of the gory sadism that has infected comics lately. However…

…I felt the same way as Jerry does now when Mary Marvel started talking like a teenage Rush Limbaugh in the pages of Power of Shazam. I thought, if he wants to write a dittohead culture war conservative superhero making snide comments about Bill Clinton, why doesn’t he invent one? I guess it’s just living through the past 800 years of the Bush administration, but it’s funny to think anyone could have ever equated “wholesome” with “Republican.”

I agree with Jerry’s comments completely.

It would be nice to read about heroes doing heroic things and a writer can have dark things going on around the character without making the character dark itself but that doesn’t seem to be the direction DC has been going in. I like Jerry’s Spider-Man analogy but I think what’s going on around DC is that they’re so lost amongst themselves that they don’t know what to do with their own characters anymore. Hence, the continous darkening, killing and bringing back of characters.

All it does is show a lack of creativity going on upstairs.
Frankly, I’m tired of all their Identity Crisis’, their Infinite Crisis’ and the upcoming Final Crisis… which we all know is about as final as Infinite.

Perhaps DC should just focus on stories about their characters being heroes instead of running around every three months, having these characters trying to figure out who they are and what earth they’re living on. The more they try and explain this stuff, the more they mess it up. Someone else said it perfectly: If DC actually knew what they were doing, they wouldn’t have to spend current stories fixing all the things they messed up in the past.

And the thing is, they’re still messing and killing characters hand over foot. What does that mean? Well, for starters, the mess they make today is the Crisis they’ll clean tomorrow.

-I find it tremendously disturbing when I read comments like “Comics aren’t for kids anymore” as was said above. I remember the History Channel’s Documentary “Comic Book Heroes Unmasked” In which a DC editor says “Comics are not just ‘not just for kids anymore’ They’re now MOSTLY not for kids” And I couldn’t beleive or understrand his pride in saying this. How can this be a good thing? Do these people realy not see how wrong it is?

It’s more than the issue of the Marvels. Those characters may well be the final battle ground over which the matter of comic content is at last decided.

Is there really, finally, no place for stories that are simply imagnitive, exciting and more than anything else, fun? Because that’s what Captain Marvel used to be all about.

Does it really ruin all “serious” comics to have even one book that uplifts and inspires rather than depresses?

Is resistance truly futile?

Larry Houston

June 8, 2007 at 5:05 pm

Jerry,

I agree with you whole heartedly. Create a new character if you want to go dark and gritty. Don’t violate the integrity of the original concept just for a few fanboys. When I produced the X-MEN show for FOX-TV, I made sure the characters stayed true to their roots as much as I could.

i like dc comics evrey one in the dc comics like batman and superman all so catwom becuse they make move if in dc comics make move i will i them too

-I find it tremendously disturbing when I read comments like “Comics aren’t for kids anymore” as was said above. I remember the History Channel’s Documentary “Comic Book Heroes Unmasked” In which a DC editor says “Comics are not just ‘not just for kids anymore’ They’re now MOSTLY not for kids” And I couldn’t beleive or understrand his pride in saying this. How can this be a good thing? Do these people realy not see how wrong it is?

It’s more than the issue of the Marvels. Those characters may well be the final battle ground over which the matter of comic content is at last decided.

Is there really, finally, no place for stories that are simply imagnitive, exciting and more than anything else, fun? Because that’s what Captain Marvel used to be all about.

Does it really ruin all “serious” comics to have even one book that uplifts and inspires rather than depresses?

Is resistance truly futile?

I agree with this.

I agree 110% with what Jerry said. DC, in my opinion, has mostly ruined the Marvels. Trails of Shazam is a travesty and I don’t know where Mary is going. I have faith in Paul Dini though. In the past, he’s stayed true to the basic concepts of heroes being heroes. I hope this hasn’t changed. I also believe that not all the people at DC have the same opinion on the Marvels.
Their product line reflects that the Fawcett version of Captain Marvel is still what they want to produce.
Their 13″ action figure, for instance, sells very well and is becoming harder to get. So that would tell me that not all fans are up for grim and gritty.

I have just finished the “Countdown” were Mary gets the “Black Marvel” treatmen. I must say I’m not a fan of the new costume (I don’t like that short, frillly skirt and the sleeves that go all the way over the hands look kind of funny. I also miss the cape), but I am intrigued. Mary does not apear to have lost her innocence, but maybe she has a new set of powers. Maybe something in those powers will tempt her. But if they stay true to Mr. Orday’s interpretation, she will rise above it and become a greater hero for it.

Remember, Mary was always a little insecure (not much, just a little) as one might expect a young girl to be, but when her inhibitions were taken away, she became unbeatable. Imagine, then, a Mary innocent nutnot naive, good but not vengeful, knowlegeable but not cynical, confident but not reckless. That sounds like the Fawcett Mary to me, or like Power Girl without the man-hating grudge or like Superman without the anti-Luthor bias. She could be one of the greatest heroes out there.

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Captain America et al all had the opportunity to grow and evolve over the years. Sometimes the change was gradual, sometimes momentous, sometimes imperceptible. Yet though all these changes there still had to be something that stayed true to the original concept. Over the years what was important about the original concept has become distilled, until it is almost common knowledge and part of out cultureal heritage to know what these heroes are.

The Marvels never had that chance. Their characers were defined very early and remained the same (aside from Mary’s costume) until they were shut down in 1953. Thus they did not have the chance to eveolve, for the forces of trial and error and market demand todistill the casic concepts of their charachters so they could survive the capricious whims of fasion and cultural trends. When they were brought back in 1972, their original audience was long past the age of reading comics, and the new comic audience wasn’t ready for them, nor were the writers. although by the time of their last stories in World’s Finest, DC had pretty much gotten a handle on them, the subsequent demands for change led to changes that were too shocking for the audience that had gotten used to them, and failed to grab the new audience as was intended.

So now I think DC is faced with a situation where the classisist fans are not numerous enough to support the old-time characters, but are enogh to raise an embarrasing hue and cry when they try to update. They have to update or die, but there is no precedent, no established, inviolate, distillation of what the Marvels are that has been proven, the their satisfaction, that enough people will come back to buy for them to stick with.

http://www.captainmarvelculture.com

Bgztl (Jack Holt)

June 9, 2007 at 3:55 pm

I posted this elsewhere, but I’ve loved the discussion here as well:

I think that Jerry Ordway’s original central complaint is very valid. A character’s central intent or creative genesis does, to some, extent, map out the types of stories or tales that work well with them as fictional entites.

Sherlock Holmes is a detective who solves crimes through inductive or deductve reasoning. It might be interesting to see him deal with the essentially irrational like in the famous novel The Seven Percent Solution (dealing with drug addiction, the origin of psychology, and mental illness). But it probably wouldn’t work to have him wielding a bazooka and kicking goons in Lethal Weapon 5.

Likewise, using Peanuts characters for a life insureance commercial is a little surreal but makes a vague sort of sense. You buy life insurance usually because you are worried about your spous or for your kids and Charlie Brown is the type of character who worries about things. Two messages that are the key to the appeal of insurance. But using Peanuts characters to advertise condoms probably doesn’t hold up so well. “No glove, no love,” says Lucy to Shroeder doesn’t really wash, does it?

But Mary Marvel was used very effectively in a short story from Bizarro Comics. In the story Mary meets up with Supergirl to catch up on old times. In the story it becoems clear that Mary Marvel’s essential character is the normal girl next door, not the idealized version of wholesomeness and fun that Supergirl is. And the characterization is right on. The Mary Marvel of Bizarro Comics loves her family and leads a normal life, and hardly ever thinks of using the old wizard’s magic — because she never used her powers out of pride or a sense of ego. She didn’t enjoy the spotlight, just helping people. Supergirl is given as a contrast — a friendly, wonderful contrast. Because Mary loves her old friend Supergirl, too. She’s just NOT that person.

The examples that Mr. Ordway gave about bad approaches to Mary Marvel are similar to those involving Peanuts and Sherlock Holmes above.

I think Countdown is closer to the Bizarro Comics tale, at least so far.

I have a Mary Marvel collection that streches from her first apearance in Wow Comics # 9 through the Golden Age and the early 1950’s. It picks up again in the 1970’s and again with Power of Shazam, and again with PAD’s Supergirl and Formerly Known as the Justice League.

I think the argument could be made that Black Adam and Captain Marvel are “alter egos” in the classic sense developed by Cicero. They are the same essential character with only the accident of history to separate them. Both times Shazam selected individuals with a strong sense of family, with self-confidence and pride, and with a strong sense of duty to receive his powers.

The essential difference is when they were selected. Teth-Adam was an adult with a family when he receieved his powers. He followed duty and pride to defend his allies in Egypt and paid the price in the loss of the only people he loved, his wife and child. Again, in the modern age, Black Adam accepted –no, SOUGHT — a role as the savior of Kahndaq and paid the ultiamte price again in the lives of those he loved.

In contrast, Billy received his powers as a child. His parents were already dead, he did not remember his siter but found her later in life. He falls in love with people like other kids (remember Stargirl) but in the background is the sense of duty and responsbility that also drove Black Adam.

It extends even to his realtionships with villains. Billy always does the appropriate and “right” thing but in avery ordinary way. It goes even to teh point in some old storie where Sivana would be defeated and take off his glasses and say, “I suppose you’re going to punch me now.” “I’m afraid so,” says Captain Marvel, as he thwacks him and takes him off to jail.

That is Billy in a nutshell. Billy can leave the Earth and take on Shazam’s mantle just as Black Adam probably would have been able to do once upon a time. Why? Because he believes in preserving the order of things.

But Mary Batson is not the same as Teth-Adam or Billy Batson. For her, family, love and compassion come first. She gets powers because of her love for her newfound brother. She fights evil only to help others.

She accepts things that aren’t really quite right. For example, she pretends to believe old frauds like Uncle Dudley who dress up in a Captain Marvel costume and pretend to have Shazambago. She tolerates and loves a freckle-faced imp. She perceives the good in people where her brother takes a hard line based on his perceptions of good and evil. Where Freddie as CM3 acted first and asked questions later, Mary Marvel took the opposite course. She thinks through what she does so that it helps but hurts others as little as possible.

There is a priceless scene in Formerly Known as the Justice League that perfectly protrays this — believe it or not — when a demon attacks and all hell is literally breaking loose. Mary Marvel ends the whole thing with one gentle slap.

smek.

THAT’S Mary Marvel.

–more —

Mary Marvel is not Black Adam’s alter ego, but his polar opposite.

Where Black Adam chose power and an attempt to re-work the world in his image of justice, she chooses family and the protection of individual people. And I think Black Adam knows it. In his cynicism and pride, he sees Mary Marvel as an even bigger fool than Billy.

But he can’t bring himself to kill her.

Why? Maybe because, even in the heart of the most evil man in the world, there is still a bit of good. A bit that only Mary Marvel can see.

Do you really think anybody else in the world could have walked into that room — that charnel house — from Countdown # 47 and walk back out again? Would Black Adam have even listened to anyone but Mary Batson? I don’t think so.

Black Adam is more than cruelty. He is bitterness and pain and love denied. So he gives Mary Marvel her wish.

He’s convinced that power and a corrupt world will corrupt her too. He thinks that will make him feel better. You and I know better.

In fact, there may be a little part of Black Adam himself that hopes he is wrong.

I agree that Mary Marvel is not about darkness and power. Definitely, I agree. But only Nixon can go to China. And only Mary Marvel can light the way out of Black Adam’s self-imposed hell.

Now, that’s the story I would write if I were Paul Dini. He may have something else in mind and I probably won’t like it.

Is DIni using Mary Marvel to explore the boundaries of what is good, the nature of pride, the strength of family, and the tear in one’s heart when everything that you love is taken away. . . ? If so, although it’s a slightly darker theme, I think that’s still within the scope of her original character.

Sometimes the only way you know there is darkness is to have a little light. If Mary Marvel has to “grow up,” if she’s to be a hero in the “real world”, this is one approach to take. Turning her into Lobo wouldn’t be.

So. . .

I’ll be looking over shoulder of my friends buying Countdown and if it’s good I’ll pick it up. I find myself unable to repeat the disappoitnments of 52 as far as pacing and timing are concerned, but I may reconsider.

Well said!
(A bit long, but well said ;)

I’m hoping that any “corruption” of Mary Marvel is more along the lines of her battle with new powers (do Black Adam’s powers carry a tinge of dark as reflected in her costume??).

In regards to Captain Zorikh’s comments, I’m looking forward to Mike Kunkel’s version of the Marvel Family in the upcoming DC series for just this reason – bringing a classic character into modern times for newer audiences without taking him too far from his origins. Publishers are always going to fight the battle of “classisist fans” vs newer audiences, but I think Kunkel is the storyteller to walk that fine balance.

Hi There,

I think DC Comics just like to let everyone know they don’t care about Marvel Family at all. No one is taking iconical characters and elements from Superman, for an example and taking “to the edge”. Darker Mary Marvel? Don’t make me laugh.
The Marvel Family needs a good writer. Taking the characters to the recent times doesn’t mean that you will wreck the mythos just for comic sell-outs.
Someone remembers the spidey’s clone saga? It was a bad waste of money and paper. Just like this one here.

The Kirbydotter

June 10, 2007 at 8:24 am

I agree 100% with Mr. Ordway.
His interpretation of the Marvel family was the best since the original and is the definitive modern version I would say. It’s a classic, good, fun and exciting run.

DC comics are depressing since IDENTITY CRISIS.
The only thing I buy from them since then are archives edition and TPBs. Marvel is not much better.

Aside from a few rare exceptions, modern superheroes comics target teenage or young adults males that have yet to get laid and that have a very narrow definition of what “cool” really means.

Comic book publisher like Marvel and DC are now corporate whores that have no interest of just publishing good and fun comics. The money isn’t in the actual paper comic books anymore, it’s in action figures and merchandise and movie rights. They crave the attention of other “legitimate” medias so much that they try to “out-shock” each other by killing off their major heroes (Robin, Superman, Captain America, etc.), or changing their sexual orientation (Northstar, Rawhide Kid) or making them more violent than a Tarentino movie character.

No wonder this medium is going downhill so fast.
Wholesome and fun characters and stories can be fun and cool too! I don’t mind violent or “adult” (whatever that means) comics, I just wish we could have a choice. I don’t mind for updating the old and classic characters as long as there is a respect for what those characters always stood for. Like Ordway wrote, if you want to change what a character is all about, just create a new one! Moore did it with WATCHMEN, Millar did it with WANTED, and they were both very good books that sold well on their own merit without destroying someone else’s creations.

Ooookay… Didn’t want to reply to this mess, but I feel like I have to at this point.

First… Equating the idea of Mary losing her virginity with her becoming “dark” or “gritty” kinda creeps me out. I mean, we do all know sex isn’t a horrible thing that nobody should ever do, right? Sex with Guy Gardner, on the other hand is a horrible thing that nobody should ever do. No amount of showering can cleanse that away. But I digress…

As far as this story (which I haven’t read, to be honest… I’ve read a few synopses, so I think I do have *some* idea of what’s going on, at least, but yeah, I haven’t read it, so take what I say here with a grain of salt.) So far, the only “darkening” is the color of her outfit. Black Adam gave her his powers, and she gets his color scheme, too. Makes sense to me. What bothers me here is how *exploitative* that cover is. The skirt that allowes you to see her tush, the bust-out posture. This is pretty much an overt sexual objectification of the character. *That* really bothers me, and it’s something that’s been endemic to comics for quite some time now. Hell, from the very beginning, female characters in comics have been getting really *bad* characterization. (Go ahead, read the 1960s Avengers and try not to wince at how Janet Van Dyne is portrayed.) From my sorta-feminist-ish perspective, this is highly disturbing. Adding to this that *if* Mary becomes dark, it’ll be indicated with her being tarted up, and that adds to the creepy puritanical repression thing. So, either way, this troubles me.

At this point I should add that I can’t stand “grim and gritty” superhero comics. The bore the living crap out of me. So, in no way am I defending any such thing. Oh, and mister “Silver Age is Lame Anyway”? Grant Morrison doesn’t like “grim and gritty” stuff either. He’s said so, on multiple occasions, over decades. Hell, rejections of that sort of thing in his actual work go all the way back to his Animal Man and Doom Patrol days, and his current run on All-Star Superman is as far from “grim and gritty” as humanly (or superhumanly) possible. So, really, if you’re gonna throw around a creator’s name to bash gritty stuff, make it Frank Miller.

Okay, moving on: LonMadnight: I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Both Marvel and DC have entire lines of comics that are just for kids already. Do you mean to suggest that all or most mainstream comics should be for kids? That’s kinda… dumb, really. The idea of comics being “just for kids” is something that the industry has been fighting for a long time now, and rightly so. I’m sure you must have heard of some cases of comic shop owners facing obscenity charges because things like Hellblazer have tits in them, right? Propagating the “comics are for kids” myth is only going to continue to legally hurt retailers and creators. Yes, there should be comics for kids. And you know what? There ARE! Comics based on the DC cartoons, Marvel Age comics, Cartoon Network comics, Looney Tunes… They’re all still right there. And you know what? Among the “not just for kids” comics, there are still plenty to uplift and inspire. All-Star Superman is once again an obvious example. Blue Beetle comes to mind as well, as does Runaways, and I’m having some pretty high hopes for McKeever’s Supergirl. And those are just a few. Hell, even “adults only” comics can serve to uplift and inspire. Look at Promethea. Adult and depressing are not the same thing, unless you have a Peter Pan complex of some sort.

And moving on to Mr. Kirbydotter:

“DC comics are depressing since IDENTITY CRISIS.
The only thing I buy from them since then are archives edition and TPBs. ”

I’m sorry, but you do realize that this makes you come off sounding like you’re saying that you find comics you haven’t read depressing, right? And something else you say strikes me as highly worrisome:

“They crave the attention of other “legitimate” medias so much that they try to “out-shock” each other by killing off their major heroes (Robin, Superman, Captain America, etc.), or changing their sexual orientation (Northstar, Rawhide Kid) or making them more violent than a Tarentino movie character.”

First, Northstar’s been gay for freakin’ forever at this point. Secondly, I’m *deeply* disturbed at the idea of gay characters being shocking. The death and violence thing I can get behind, but that other bit comes off as a little… bigot-y. Now you very well may not intend for it to sound that way, and I admit I’m pretty sensitive about this issue, but still, that sort of attitued strikes me as worrisome.

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to say in response to this thread. There may have been more, but I’ve forgotten it.

Economics says that there’s more money to be made with a magical, FUN Captain Marvel instead of a grim and gritty, angsty adventurer. Maybe the point of making Mary Marvel dark is to let her come out as a lighter character in the end.

Why do you have to make her dark to make her light again?
She’s a fictional character, you can do whatever you want with her.
I think people buying into ‘we have to do this before we do this’ is as big a problem as writers wanting to make everything dark.
Even if you wanted to keep precious continuity intact, it should take no more than one panel, hell one line, to explain why it’s back to fun times.

I read through the responses before responding myself. Bgztl, you had some of the most intelligent and well thought out comments I’ve seen here. Thank you.

For me, both the Big Red Cheese and Mary were about honor, honestly, but most of all, being a KID. I liked Jeff Smith’s take on it. Underneath all that muscle of both Cap and Mary Marvel were a couple of preteens that just looked like adults.

They were never innocents. But there was always the optimism that made both characters I enjoyed.

Ordway had the right balance. More than a repeat of the Fawcett days (or even the Shazam from the 70’s or in the back of World’s Finest), it was fun and enjoyable to read, without dropping into camp.

The new additions (from C.C. Batson to Theo Adam to the new Tawky Tawny) fit in with what came before.

I have no problem with “The Last Temptation of Mary Marvel” as long as she is able to recognize the temptation and resist it. However, the current editorial staff at DC has caused me to lose all faith in them. They are no longer in the business of writing comics for people to read, but rather the four-color version of Howard Stern and shock jocks.

If they stop writing the lowest common denominator and “agenda comics”, I may go back. But right now, there is very little reason for me to even look at them.

And that’s a shame.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 10, 2007 at 8:47 pm

I was the last anonymous!

I think DC’s move to put out Jeff Smith’s story and to go forward with Mike Kunkel as the writer and artist on the new ongoing Shazam series is a specific move to keep these characters “honourable” open to all ages! I believe they do care.
“classic, good, fun and exciting” – that sounds like Kunkel’s type of comic…

The Mary storyline is getting a lot of hype, but again, other than the costume change, we don’t know what personality changes come with it, do we? Appreciated Thom Khatt and RachelEvil’s comments – we’ll have to wait and see what the final outcome is.

I trust Paul Dini. I however always remember that he doesn’t get final say. He’s not EIC or in charge. DiDio is. And we know how much he loves fun characters. Thanks Mr. Ordway for this insightful commentary. I feel like I’ve been a lone voice in the woods for the last 5 years since Young Justice got cancelled (look up Colier Rannd on newsarama or alot of other places and you’ll see this exact rant). I appreciate that people are finally speaking up on this load of crap that DC has become.

Regarding the Mary Marvel plotline, my biggest complaint so far is that it doesn’t feel like it’s had time to breath. Mary wakes up. She has no idea where her best friends are. She goes to someone who can hopefully help her. That someone tells her “Don’t go to Gotham!” Mary goes to Gotham. She meets an old enemy/friend. He’s in a particularly crazy kind of way. He gives her powers. He leaves.

And there we are so far. On one hand, plenty has happened. On the other hand, absolutely nothing has. Maybe I like my navel gazing and melodrama too much, but everything feels like it’s going in straight lines, like connect-the-dots, and it feels seriously, seriously lacking. This story, about what’s probably the fall and rise of Mary Marvel, deserves a lot more than it has so far. It’s something that I would have preferred to see in a series of its own, something with a definite beginning, middle and end, plotted out over 25 issues or so.

I want to see Mary feeling lost and betrayed by not having any contact with her fellow Marvels. I want to see Mary going through power withdrawal, like an addict who needs her fix. I wanted to see Mary having actually having to make the conscious choice to take up Black Adams power, not to just have it handed to her. I want to see Mary having to pay a price for her power, and having to keep making choices that slip her closer to the dark side. I want to see Mary overcome that, realize that power isn’t worth it, and reject her power – with whatever price that entails.

I want a basic standard story of temptation and redemption, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me” sort of thing. It’s the difference in Luke Skywalker between the start of A New Hope and the end of Return of the Jedi. He’s still just as earnest, and good, and idealistic (maybe even more idealistic than when he started), but it’s now an idealism that’s been tempted, tempered, and has come out stronger than ever. That’s why my hope is for a Mary Marvel story.

I’m bound to be disappointed.

Anyhow, my problem isn’t with Mary going darker, for at least a little while. It’s that the story isn’t getting the space it needs to be done well, so far as I can see.

RachelEvil says…

“Okay, moving on: LonMadnight: I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Both Marvel and DC have entire lines of comics that are just for kids already. Do you mean to suggest that all or most mainstream comics should be for kids? That’s kinda… dumb, really. ”

Kinda not, as that’s not what I said. (then again, I no longer post on DC’s boards because people insisted on telling me what I said, invariable mangling my message in the process)

What I was saying is that the idea that comics should be mostly not for kids is wrong. I have no problem with a close balance. But it should always be favored to kid-friendly material.

Oh, yes the “Marvel Adventures” and the “Johnny DCs” are out there but the main stream books (and editors) seem to regard them as the little-kid brother they have to drag along because mom said they have to. Those books wouldn’t exist if there had been no animated series to inspire them. (Superman Adventures was killed the moment the cartoon was dropped.)

Marvel saw that the animated approach drew readers and followed along. In any case, It can’t be regarded as editorial effort to adress a perceived imbalance in content.

Look, let’s stay clear on a very touchy point: When we’re talking about Characters who fly, lift mountains, fire lasers from thier eyes and talk to fish, It’s fantasy, it is in fact absurd fantasy. It can be dressed up with mature sounding dialouge and high-tension drama, but in the end it’s all really pretty silly.

McDonald’s can dress up the Big Mac all they like, even call it T-bone steak, but it’s still hamburger.
And that’s what modern comics in general are: hamburger that’s being sold as T-bone steak.

dragondeathlord

June 14, 2007 at 10:04 am

Ok at the risk of being flamed I support a dark Mary Marvel. She has been ignored to long and she is not wholesome. Just none realistic.Peter Parker IS WHOLESOME
but he is a Realistic (as in fleshed out hero)and he is married so probably not a virgin! My point is Jerry Ordway has been very LAZY WRITER! Now Why I so do not want Mary marvel to turn in to a goth crack using SLUT!Nor a goose stepping Nazi like with IronMan.(It would still be better van she is!)

But there a big difference between keeping the creators intent and stagnation there is a WORD CALLED BALANCE.

Back when she was first created ALL COMIC SUPERHEROS WOMEN ACTED JUST LIKE THIS From Lois Lane to Batgirl!!!And Batman used a gun!

BUT FOR MARY MARVEL THERE HAS BEEN NO PROGRESS NONE! She is the poster child foe why wholesome is a stupid joke!And wholesome is not STUPID! Now why I would never want her to stop being who she is I would like to stop being the DC JOKE! How about a Black or Asian Boyfriend Or a Girlfriend(Saying this becouse it’s implied on this thread that a Lesbian is some how a sign of corruption! Witch is as bad as it gets and proves the point that the Hero is not only stuck in a Braidy bunch 1960 time warp but got other people thinking that way to!) NOT A GOOD ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNG WOMEN!And women know it and avoid it! She like June Kleaver!)At least Betty and Veronica had a boyfriend Archie!And had Kissed!

What I am saying is how about some normal relationships!(there been none!)Not a good sign of mentell health!

No I do not Want to see Her turn in to the dark knight but in to a Peter parker Venom (he stayed Wholesome threw that but seemed more real in the End!) might be a good shake up and some real guilt might help the character Be more real and become more popular.If nothink else it will get people talking!( WE ARE TALKING ABOUT Mary Marvel THERE FOR IT’S A GOOD IDEAR!
If she stays evil (DC heroes THEY NEVER DO)at least it will be some change at least some and the 1950 mold will be broken and will will still have the new other earth Mary Marvel to enjoy on a EARTH THAT IS IN THE 1950’s!

OK I AM READY FOR THE BOOS But I AM OLDER THAN Jerry Ordway. And as I remember there was nothing Whole Some about the 1950’s when women were supposed to acted like that! No there wear just as many teen pregnancy’s just that the girl could not keep it or they would say she was sister. And there were plenty of gay’s but they got married and lied and when my wife was a kid there was a shooting at her school and they just hushed it all up!
And there was a lot more of unreported Rape and child abuse!
Jerry Ordway attempt to turn back the clock is moronic! Comics Did a lot of good !

The real Seduction of the Innocents started not becouse of the book by the same name that claimed Batman and robin were gay But becouse a Congressman (Probably much like Jerry Ordway )was bent out of shape over a comic book story based on a real story he had killed(it was not very WHOLESOME)about two cops that were using there badges to force very young teenagers (some of the girls did not even know it was Sex!)That wear never punished nor lost there badges! Let’s here it for the wholesome 1950’s!

What I am saying is how about some normal relationships!(there been none!)Not a good sign of mentell health!

Mr. “dragondeathlord”,

We would humbly like to request that you work on improving your spelling, especially at your age. Also, please pick a more age-appropriate name, like “dinosaurdeath’sdoor”.

-The Snark Pack

dragondeathlord

June 14, 2007 at 10:05 pm

Apodaca I work for a living. And I did not get much sleep. And So my typing sucks. You have my most(sinsear appogise)! Yes that was sarcasm with the spelling errors this time, and no that was not on topic nor was a your correcting my spelling. And MOST OF ALL you never to old for comics!

I’ve used dragondeathlord for over 20 years as a login I like it!I like Dragons And D&D, So TOUGH!

And Yes I think Jerry Ordway Is Just a tad OverRATED! Not to bad theres worse but the mans lazy as a Writer and never thinks any think threw.

PS Told you all I would get Flamed!

dragondeathlord

June 14, 2007 at 10:24 pm

Ps Let me be clear. Countdown is doing a whole earth to just the marvel family so it would make sense that the core earth Marvels wear very different even darker as in keeping with the core earth. And IF a big IF they even make her dark or IF a villain the Pure version that might redeem the core earth Mary will still be around or they might kill off all the core earth versions as they did The wizard Shazam and keep just the Alter earth Versions maybe pull a Supergirl killing core earth Dark Mary Marvel saving them All Who knows? But it will be new and Different!Hey maybe The Dark Mary Marvel will be there Black Adam! The new book I think takes place there wear the wizard shazam is still alive!

http://www.boneville.com/2007/01/12/shazam-production-journal-mary-marvel/

Thats a great skirt for super heroing.!

also lol @ dragondeathlord but only in good fun :)

I agree with RachelEvil. Mostly.
Gay = dark side? Come on people, I can’t believe I’m reading opinions like that in 2007.

About the virginity issue… well, I think that Mary could lose her virginity and remain as pure and good as ever; I don’t think that she is supposed to stay a virgin unti 2087, even with the particular space-time continuum that rules the comics universe. On the other hand, I don’t think that the conscious decision of Mary of waiting as long as she wants for it has anything stupid or even unreal about it. There are people who prefer to live their lives that way, and I’m not talking about priests and nuns only. The point being, it’s something really personal and I would like it to be treated in the comics in a way that represent who Mary is. And I thinj that the little portrait Bgztl (Jack Holt) offers us in his replay really reflects who she is.

—–

Just to add something. Let’s not forget that DC comics is in the business of selling comics. And you know? They probably are right now very happy about this, and probably don’t care what we all think in the end about what has been done to the character. The are probably just happy to see Mary Marvel being discussed in lots of forums like this one. You know how the saying goes: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”.

All I know is, before this “darkening”, I never gave mary too thoughts, NOW I can’t get her out of my mind and want to follow her, read all her appearances and hope they make an action fig of her in this get up! I love it!

I’m hear a lot of people saying “Dont judge an incomplete work.” and several others saying “This is a violation of Mary Marvel.” I have a few comments. Older fans will most likely not like me and if your ones to flame, Please skip my post.

Background. Large stories like 52, Countdown, and Super Groups like JLA, JSA and Teen Titans are there to introduce us to the members of the universe (Multiverse in DC’s case) that the average reader may not have had the chance to get to know as well as Superman, Batman, Green lantern or Flash.
In This Countdown has been a success to me. I had not before the “Seduction of Innocence.” Plot line payed any mind to the Marvel Family or even Captain Marvel. Countdown made me change this, I was told that the Mary Marvel story was the best part of it because it takes her out of her element.
Not knowing what her Element is I picked up as many of the Classic Graphic Novel reprints I could find at my local border and fell in love with the exploits of the Marvel Family.

So after getting to know the original material I sat down and real what has been printed of Countdown.

On Innocence: Mary to spite her inheritance of the Egyptian Pantheon of the powers and having a mind that is clearly being influenced by them manages to shine through with the same Innocence and Naiveté that made her charming to fans from the get go.

That isn’t to say she isn’t “Darker.” She simply wanted some attachment to her old life and got the “Be Careful what you wish for.” solution.

All of her interactions with Zatara show the Innocence in her struggling to win out over the Darker Pantheon she has dawned as “Black Mary”.

This being said. Virginity, Naivete’, and Softness do not equate to Innocence. Only a lack of experience. Superman is by his nature an Innocent Character, But he’s a married man which means him and Lois have most likely had relations. I will ask if that makes him less of a hero?

Mary is going to come out of this a far more deep and wise character for it, Not a boozeing, drug addicted, slut in leather.

That being said. I like the leather outfit it needs a longer skirt.

Judging an Unfinished Product:

Paul Dini has a wonderful track record for both modernizing and keeping to the original spirit of the material. Anyone who wishes to question this needs to go but either the 90’s Batman or Superman cartoons from Borders.

He was also one of the key authors on my favorite Else Worlds. Even if it wasn’t called it. Batman Beyond.

Dini has a plan he has foreshadowed that this is not a going to last.

Read Mary’s Interactions with Billy and Zatara everyone, Including Mary knows that this isn’t right.

/end Rant.

Thank you for you time

{Likewise, using Peanuts characters for a life insureance commercial is a little surreal but makes a vague sort of sense. You buy life insurance usually because you are worried about your spous or for your kids and Charlie Brown is the type of character who worries about things. Two messages that are the key to the appeal of insurance. But using Peanuts characters to advertise condoms probably doesn’t hold up so well. “No glove, no love,” says Lucy to Shroeder doesn’t really wash, does it?}

Hey didn’t didio do a sick and twisted comic with characters supposedly charlie brown and linus worshoping the great pumpkin by killing snoopy in an occult type dark way?

So now, in the pages of Countdown #10, the “good” Mary is back1 She is in the white costume, but now has long sleves with the gold cuffs of the other Marvels but the lighntning bolt is…grey?

Maybe the sleeves and the bolt are indications of maturity, that bit of wisdom and seriousness that comes from experience, seeing the other side, knowing what happens when things go wrong. She went t for herself was not the most important thing in the world, That what she wreally wanted was the power to help people, make the world better, and she is stronger for it. The gods realized this and gave her power back. I figured/was hoping something like this would happen.

And lord knows I just LOVED that the goddess Thalia became the patron of Harley Quinn, who has now reformed and been “powered up” as a comedic Amazon superhero!

http://www.captainmarvelculture.com

Mary Marvel was boring… and pointless. The only thing they could have done to her was kill her.

Now she has a story of her own.

And she is all grown up and sexy. She filled in.

I have been a comic collector for over 30 years and I agree wholeheartedly with mr.Ordway!The Superman and Shazam families should be exempt from the gritty attitudes of some comic characters,Wolverine was unique in the 80’s because he was one of the few heroes who walked the fine line between good and evil now he is just like almost every other hero in comics!Some heroes should never be darkened just to please some readers or some creators perverse idea for “modernizing” comics.Comics today pretty much suck unless there is a major crossover comics in general have lost the magic they once had.I READ COMICS FOR ENJOYMENT AND TO LOSE MYSELF IN A WORLD OF FANTASY AND LITERATURE!!IF I WANT TO READ ABOUT CHILD MOLESTATION (which should be banned from comics)OR ANYTHING ELSE DEPRESSING I’LL BUY THE NEWSPAPER!Mr.Ordway,I feel it is too bad you have to be careful with whatever comics your kids can read,because when we were kids comics were a way to learn how to read and also to learn about the moral values of sacrifice,family and heroism.You won’t find any of that in comics today,all you’ll find are stories of death,betrayal,murder and so-called heroes who kill(contrary to popular thought the punisher is not a hero,he’s a serial killer.If killing your enemies is so cool why do we have laws?Remember comics are a form of escapism from the trials and tribulations of life but instead it seems like some”creators” would rather have comics become another depressing reminder of the messed up world we live in.Mr.Ordway is one of the last of a dying breed of creators who still love and respect the heroes he grew up with and I applaud him for not conforming his ideals and ethics just to make a buck.Mr.Ordway you are my hero and I salute you.Anyone agree or not can contact me at daswook@yahoo.com. Thank you.

I just feel that Mary needs the new look. In this new era of superheroes, the sexy thing is in. Look at KARA ZOR-EL for example. She’s gone through so many changes it’s rediculous. In other words I think it’s time for Mary to grow up in the eyes of the comic. Let her character evolve a new sexy look, yet maintain that originalality and personality that was created for her.

You are absolutley right about wholesome goodness and moral values lost in today’s society. Look at what they did to Superman. They kill him and everyone from New York to California bought an issue. The end of the goodie-to-shoes era and hey, sex and anti-heroes sell right? Shame. That’s why I love Shazam. The mom and pop/five and dime store lives on!!! But Hey, it’s all about selling comics right? Then get some damn good writers with better ideas instead of sadistic macho/sado egotistical juvenile to handle it. I mean there are wayyyy better writers out there……aren’t there?
Just a thought, keep some friggin continuity for godsake!!! Billy as the wizard shazam doesn’t exaclty explain why he’s Captain Marvel in Kingdom Come. I’d perfer bringing back Kid Eternity to be the Wizaed Shazam so that way, Mary Marvel can have the white outfit (eternity) black outfit (black adam) and red outfit (captain marvel) each with different god powers. then freddy can have the blue outfit with red cape (captain marvel) or white cape (eternity). Kid Eternity can better hold the 7 sins than billy any day. AND THAT’S MY 2 CENTS!!! p.s- I also write……POETRY!!!! lol.

As a factual matter, Jerry Ordway was born in 1957, while dragondeathlord @ comicspace.com listed his age as 39 in 2007 (so, born c. 1968). This makes the latter’s claims about firsthand knowledge of the 1950’s suspect, as should be evident from the fact that he simply regurgitates today’s popular perceptions of that era (i.e., the same sociological issues existed in the same degree, only hidden). I doubt Mr. deathlord was pulling a Jack Benny on his comicspace profile, as he had no problem asserting a much greater age here, even if it is only fabricated to make a point.

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