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Snark Free Corner for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Welcome to the latest installment of your breath of snark free air!

Special Saint Patrick’s Day edition!

Enjoy!

SNARK FREE DEBATE/CHALLENGE

I’m combining the two features this week, as the latter comes out of the former.

First, the debate…the Marvel character, Shamrock, is she just ruined as a character?

440px-Shamrock.jpg

Is there such a thing as a character who is just not salvageable? And if there is such a thing as an salvageable character, would Shamrock qualify?

As you may or may not know, Shamrock was one of a number of international heroes introduced in the Contest of Champions, and like most of the other ones, she was a fairly stereotypical character – her name and her “good luck” powers.

But while she may not be a good character, is there something there that can be salvaged? Can a character like Shamrock ever be taken seriously? Do note that the last time we saw her, she had retired and become a famous hair stylist.

That, therefore, is your challenge – come up with an interesting pitch for Shamrock that involves taking her seriously as a character.

NOTE: This challenge is only for those who believe she COULD be salvaged as a character – if you do not think she can be, you don’t have to come up with a pitch (as that’d be kinda contradictory, no?).

COVER THEME GAME

As always, here is the game. I show three covers. They all have something in common, whether it be a character, a trait all three characters share, locale, creator, SOMEthing. And it isn’t something obvious like “They all have prices!” “They all have logos!” “They all feature a man!” etc.

In addition, please note that you must have some familiarity with comic book history to correctly guess these comics. You cannot guess the connective theme just by looking at the covers solely, you must have some knowledge beyond just the covers.

A cool point to the first person to figure it out!

Good luck!

1.

secretorigins49.jpg

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6160_4_081.jpg

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1098_4_123.jpg

THE COVER GAME

This week’s game is as follows…

Simply enough, find me a comic cover that features Shamrock on the cover!

Here is an example (which you can’t use!)….

contest1.jpg

Remember, only one cover per commenter!

Good luck!

WHO IS IT?

Remember, tell me who it is and what number clue gave it away!

1. This comic creator was born in Ireland.
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2. This comic creator has worked for DC Comics.
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3. This creator has worked with Garth Ennis at DC Comics.
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4. This creator is currently working outside of comics.
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5. This creator did an arc on Legends of the Dark Knight with Ennis.

Who is it?

Well, that’s it for this installment of Snark Free Corner.

Hope you had fun!

And I hope you had a good Saint Patrick’s Day!!

46 Comments

Who is it? Will Simpson, clue #5.

The biggest problem with token nationality characters like Shamrock is the country-specific names – it would be like every American superhero reaching for a golden eagle, stars & stripes, etc for their name. Ugh. Having said that, the character could be rescued by a little tweak – perhaps amping up the Irishness by using a Gaelic version of the name, and rooting her in the culture, modern or ancient of the country. Alternatively, the Irishness could be jettisoned – the green, the shamrock symbol on the costume, anything Irish about the origin or the powers… leaving only the name and a brand new heroine, unconnected to Ireland or the Irish, save for where she lives.

What would be the point, though? ;)

Cover theme game: Patrick.
Scrapper – Patrick MacGuire
S.T.R.I.P.E./Stripesy - Patrick “Pat” Dugan
Plastic Man – Patrick “Eel” O’Brian

My Shamrock pitch:

According to her wikipedia entry, her “good luck powers” come from being the vessel for displaced spirits and ghosts. Obviously, this will be the focal point of the series.

Our story opens with Molly Fitzgerald has been doing her best to adapt to life in the private sector as a hair dresser. Its not a perfect life, and she has never entirely been able to escape from the occasional mockery of her previous career, but she’s managed to carve out a niche for herself.

This all changes the day a battle between two super powers (maybe Excalibur and some evil organization, is AIM international?) spills over into Dublin. The villains’ weapons bombard the city, causing massive destruction and death. The spirits of the victims, heavily irradiated by the cosmic energy of the villains’ weapons, find themselves trapped inside Molly’s body, unable to get free. As a by-product of the massive, unpredictable energy given off by the AIM weapons, each spirit now possesses a separate super power. Molly can allow these spirits to possess her like a voodoun houngan and access their powers, making her something like a combination between Crazy Jane and Ragman. Naturally, neither Molly nor the souls trapped inside her are happy with this situation.

It turns out that the weapons used by AIM (or whoever) are semi-mystical in nature, the result of an age-old contract between dark Irish wizards, the vengeful descendants of the Fomorians (the original occupants of Ireland, who are eventually revealed to be Deviants), and North African Ifrits. The Celtic gods, who have been living in Ireland much the same way the Greek gods currently live in America, are not pleased with the idea of mankind reestablishing contact with the Fomorians or Ifrits, and so Lugh (an Irish cross between Loki and Mercury) and the triple goddess Morrigan task the new Shamrock with unraveling this conspiracy in exchange for helping her passengers move on.

Stories will feature Shamrock battling evil faeries, finding a Deviant city under Galway, teaming up with Cloak and Dagger to stop a shipment of mystical drugs, attending a controversial wedding between two members of the Norse and Celtic pantheons, and beating up Iron Man.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 18, 2008 at 3:33 am

I can’t remember, but didn’t Daredevil fight a villain named Gaelic around issues 220-230 (vol. 1)?

Guess I’m getting old.
Happy ST. PADDY’s DAY to one an’ all!

Cheers, mates.

Shamrock?
Give her to Garth!
He would fix her right up.

May be interesting to put Shamrock in a luck v luck situation (v Longshot), or luck v chaos/chance (v Scarlet Witch).

Maybe.

Yes, ANY character can be salvaged. If Conan the Barbarian parodied as an Aardvark could be turned into the longest-running, most surrealist independent comic ever (Cerebus) ANYTHING can be done!

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with heroes with a cultural or nationalistic theme. Look at Captain America, you don’t get more nationalistic than that, and he works. Of course, he’s been written by people like Lee, Kirby and Thomas. Characters like Shamrock are only used as tokens, and even when spotlighted in their own stories, they tend to be (intentionally?) ruined by writers who precisely see them as stereotypes and not characters. The trick is thinking of them as people, writing about more than their cultural elements, give them lives beyond their hero identities, details that make people interested in them. If all there is about Shamrock is that she’s Irish, has a green costume, and luck powers, then yeah, she’s one-dimensional. But it’s nothing a *good* writer can’t fix.

I thought Shamrock was used pretty well in Guardians of the Galaxy, actually

I think she could easily be salvaged. There’s not terribly much back story to work around, so it shouldn’t even be too hard. First, I’d ditch the costume and set it up as a mini-series focusing on the mystical aspect to the world. there’s some things that a well-placed fist just won’t help.

Molly has retired to a life of ease as the hair-dresser to the rich and famous. However, her mystical past will not leave her be as innocent spirits appear to her in seek of her aid in helping them pass along. Normally, she deals with such a spirit every other month who appears as a faint ball of light only she can see. They come to her because among the dead, she has a reputation as a medium. In fact, for the first issue, she helps such a spirit find justice by bringing his killer to justice. But something has changed. At the end of the first issue, dozens of grotesque spirits appear to her demanding her help.

The spirits continue to haunt her for several days. And now they’re visible to everyone. (which is certainly going to cut down on repeat business for this hair dresser.) Someone has imprisoned and tormented these lost souls in pursuit of additional power, granting their request to see their loved ones again. However, their appearance disgusts and frightens the loved ones which drives these spirits mad. It is up to Shamrock to find the mysterious villain and stop him before maddened spirits overwhelm her and the entire living world.

In her search, she encounters Siryn (her father returns from the dead and causes the sort of mayhem only a mutant ghost can) and Magik (team up of the mutant mystics). She finally tracks the culprit down. Mephisto.

Buoyed by his recent success with the Parkers, Mephisto is now intercepting the innocent dead and making a pact to allow them to return to the world. Most do so without realizing they’re dealing with the devil or that he’s going to warp and twist them to be unrecognizable.

Shamrock must defeat the master of evil and undo all these recent pacts.

At least, that’s what I’d do.

I have to agree with Matt, I also enjoyed her in Guardians of the Galaxy. Though I have to admit I am a GoTG fan.

And uh.. hey, there’s always the potential of an Ennis IRA take right?

achem.

Maybe Shamrock should go on a date with DC’s Jack O’Lantern! (Who, despite the corny name, was one of my favorite Global Guardians from years back. I guess it’s because I was (am) a GL fan and I’m Irish, so as I kid I didn’t mind that he was just a GL knockoff.)

So is there any makor difference between Shamrock & Longshot? The only difference I remember right now is that Longshot has hollow bones and a backstory. He extremely agile, but that can be learned, so I don’t count that as a difference. If he can work, then there’s nothing to “fix” with Shamrock. She just needs to be used by a halfway competent writer.

You could sexy up that costume a little bit, for starters! Give the fanboys what they want!

Shamrock is salvageable – it’s not as bad as the heroes I got to identify with as a child. I’m from Germany and as a kid all the superpowers that came from Germany were connected to the Nazis. Hell, Captain Nazi is still prominent over at DC.

Cover game: You didn’t say that floating heads don’t count, so here’s Alpha Flight #109 http://www.comics.org/coverview.lasso?id=51241&zoom=4

Molly is an Irish-American hip hop (or whatever the kids are calling it these days)artist. Her schtick is something like House of Pain — hence the (modified) cotume and the name Shamrock — intended as an ironic in your face appropriation and subversion of a stereotype. She witnesses a gangland slaying/has a family member killed by a criminal/whatever and becomes the target/avenger of crime.

She is, at first, incredibly lucky.

Hence the urban myth that grows around her ‘lucky’ powers.

Give it to Brubaker, Ennis, Lapham etc.

Or me.

There’s a tiny little Shamrock floating in space over Death’s skull on the cover of Contest of Champions #3

http://www.cbgxtra.com/Portals/1/CoC3.jpg

Shamrock joins the IRA. How’s _that_ for a kick-ass story engine? :-)

Shamrock, Domino, and Longshot go on a trip to Vegas. That miniseries would sell millions of copies.

Stephane Savoie

March 18, 2008 at 7:38 am

Cover Challenge:
Each cover features a character who, at least some version of, has been in the Seven Soldiers of Victory.

-Guardian was in the Morrison miniseries.
-Stars and STRIPE are modern version of the original Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, who were in the original.
-Metamorpho was in a wierd late 80s/early 90s version (with Batgirl, Adam Strange, and Deadman I think)

Didn’t mean to post that just yet– I wanted to add that it seems a very good way to deal upfront with the character’s innate Irishness without devolving into stereotypes. Once converted to the cause of a Free Ireland, she would fight for it as deeply as anything else; a really good writer would avoid cynicism but still give her some moral problems to work through. Something gritty without devolving into the dirty underwear school of superheroes. Her luck powers would also be good in tense, real-world situations more-so than big, splashy superheroics.

A similar character exploring the middle east situation would also be interesting– especially if they were pitted against Sabra, who is quite the fox.

Stephane Savoie

March 18, 2008 at 7:48 am

Oh Stargirl and STRIPE were also in the JL Unlimited episode where the JLU version of the Seven Soldiers take on The General. Almost forgot.

Give Shamrock a side kick, The Shillalah Kid!

For the cover challenge, Guardians of the Galaxy Annual 3.

As for Shamrock, I dunno if the existing version can be salvaged, but that’s no reason a new Shamrock couldn’t work out.

I’m not sure salvage is the right word. Since there isn’t much there to begin with besides powers, a costume, and a nationality anything done would be essentially creating a new character.

It’s like Morrison on Animal Man. The only things in place were a costume, an origin, powers, and a short lived team affiliation. All the things that kept him from being generic were created by Morrison. He could just as easily created someone brand new and done the exact same stories.

I think it would be much tougher to salvage characters who have gone through multiple creative teams and “new directions”.

To all the guys saying Shamrock should join the IRA , stop. The IRA haven’t been active in that that manner for a number of years (although they still exist) and are using their political arm to achieve their objectives now. While it may it be an obvious choice for the character it’s completely irrelevant now. And I’m Irish so I do know a small bit about these things.

As for whether or not Shamrock is salvageable, with the right creators ANY character can be saved but it would take one hell of a job with Shamrock considering she’s a pretty rubbish character to begin with in my opinion.

Jesse Letourneau

March 18, 2008 at 10:39 am

To “fix” Shamrock all you have to do is kill her parents. All good heroes have dead parents.

You could sexy up that costume a little bit, for starters! Give the fanboys what they want!

Make the shamrock on the front a cutout a la Power Girl, and you’re there.

Rather than a mystical bent, as the others have taken, I’d make her power less of a subconscious thing (where good things just “happen” to her) and more of a struggle: she can sense probabilities, and through practice knows how to take advantage of the best ones. Someone chasing her wouldn’t just *happen* to twist his ankle and fall, she’d need to lead him to the place where that was most likely to happen. She has a great enough sense of cause and effect that she (with her ghosts’ help) can nearly extrapolate the future – that even helps with her hairdressing, because she can spot trends and hot looks before they arrive. You could even have a flashback somewhere about how much she hates Scarlet Witch, because Wanda would arbitrarily change the things Shamrock had seen, basically canceling her powers at a whim.

So, the first story: she sees a man walking down the street, and he trips over a crack in the sidewalk. She starts thinking about the events that led to him putting his foot down in that exact spot: how many steps it was from the corner, any half-steps or larger steps he’d had to take, anyone he had to walk around, everything. But she also begins thinking forward, about where he’s going to be next, what the odds are of anything specific happening to him. In the process, she realizes he’s going to be killed in a stickup in two days – she now has an appointment to keep to foil the robbery and keep him safe.

And it’s like that for almost everyone she meets: her kitchen calendar is full of handwritten notes and post-its about where she needs to be when in order to “luckily” show up and make people’s lives better.

And then at the end of issue one, she meets someone she can’t read in either direction…

You might want to fix question #3 even though everybody obviously knows what you mean. I have nothing else to contribute :p

Glenn,

I meant no offense, though you’re quite correct re: current state of the IRA. Perhaps that kind of story would work better if set in an alternate time, such as the seventies.

Police! Plastic Man started in Police Comics; the Guardian was a policeman; and wasn’t Stripe also a police officer or something? Could that be the correct common element in the covers?

Tom,

Don’t worry about it. Your idea could be used as a new origin for Shamrock and then lead to a story about her being a character searching for a new motivation/cause

More ideas for the adventures of the All New, All Different Shamrock:

-Teaming up with Zombie William Butler Yeats to defeat a giant robotic Maud Gonne.

-Battling a team of evil hurling-themed super villains.

-A time-displaced Queen Elizabeth allies with Klaw and Turner D. Century in a plot to destroy all the musicians in Ireland. Guest starring Dazzler and The Pogues.

-Introduction of a new villain the Dark Lord of the Dance. He can tap over 38 taps per second, and he can kick you in the face just as fast.

I’m disappointed nobody’s suggested a Shamrock versus the Serpent Society story yet. If we’re doing blatant Irish references, that seems like an obvious one.

You might want to fix question #3 even though everybody obviously knows what you mean. I have nothing else to contribute :p

Ha!

Thanks, Da Fug!

I’m disappointed nobody’s suggested a Shamrock versus the Serpent Society story yet. If we’re doing blatant Irish references, that seems like an obvious one.

The original cover theme game was going to involve snakes! :)

It was going to be a GI Joe cover, a Captain America cover, and then it all just fell apart on me. :D

Not to mention that the Cap bit is a bit too much on the obscure side. ;)

Wait, is it an Irish theme? Guardian, Stripesy, and Plas?

All three comics feature the sons of a Golden Age hero?

The modern day Newsboy Legion were the sons of the original group (later explicitly revealed to be clones of the originals), S.T.R.I.P.E.’s son is Mike Dugan (Just checked my copy of JSA #81 & he’s in there), and I believe that the Plastic Man featured in Brave & The Bold #123 is the son of the original who was featured in DC’s 60s revival.

Does anyone else here remember the huge B&B #123 debate that raged in the letter pages of Batman & the Outsiders back in the day? Good times.

Oh, sorry, I forgot to confirm that the cover theme was the Patrick one.

Invasion of evil space leprechauns. They disguise themselves as humans and manipulate the world’s economy. Only Shamrock can tell who they are.

Hey, why not go whole hog on the stereotype thing and at least have some fun with it.

>It was going to be a GI Joe cover, a Captain America cover, and then it all just fell apart on me. :D

Rewrite the back story (if there even is one) to include a friction-filled relationship between Shamrock and her oh-so-successful brother, the Leprechaun commonly known as Bono.
He’s using his good luck powers to achieve personal success in the music industry, and is putting forward a seemingly altruistic/environmental/let’s save Africa agenda as a front for his scheme for a new age/new world order/dictatorship.
And only she knows the truth.
Will she stop the evil machinations of this would-be messiah?
What the hell is really hiding behind Bono’s sunglasses?
And how quickly will the real Bono’s lawyers jump in to stop this tale from being told?
Find out, next month, in the next thrilling issue…

Yo Go Re’s idea for Shamrock is a good one. The same idea applied to Major Disaster after he made a deal with Neron in Underworld Unleashed. So, instead of causing natural diasters, he would be able to “see” cause probable cause and effect, which would let him cause a chain of accidents, one mess snowballing into a bigger one. I saw this in an issue of the Flash….maybe somewhere around #130 or so. Unfortunately, when he joined the Suicide Squad and the JLA, either the writers forgot about his new powers or retconned them back to the way they were before. But at least it showed that the idea for Shamrock is a viable one. Also, I saw her in the Guardians of the Galaxy, and I agree that she was done very well in those issues.

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