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The Whole Wonderdog Hullabaloo

I’ll be honest, I just don’t see the big deal.

When the Teen Titans came back from Infinite Crisis after One Year Later, one of the coolest ideas I thought Geoff Johns had was to introduce Wendy and Marvin to the team as super geniuses who help the team with their technology. I thought that was a clever way to work in two of the supporting characters from the 1970s’ Superfriends cartoon series.

So yeah, if you asked me, “Hey, Brian, should we kill off Marvin and Wendy?” I would say, “No, I like them.”

That said, I don’t see how killing them off is much of a problem, especially in the fairly clever way that Sean McKeever did, by having a stray dog (who is named Wonderdog, wink wink nudge nudge) turn out to be something along the lines of Cerberus, therefore introducing to the team the son of Ares, who is going to be a major villain for the Titans.

When I get irked about death in comics, it usually involves one of the following:

1. Sexism – Not an issue here

2. Any form of minority misuse – Not an issue here

3. Killing off important characters just for “punch” (a la Karen Page and Mysterio biting the bullet to add some drama to Kevin Smith’s run) – Not an issue here

4. Killing off good characters that other writers wanted to use (a la Sue Dibney, Max Lord, Ted Kord, etc.) – Not an issue here, as they weren’t even being used in Teen Titans much, which is the only title they appear in!

So that really leaves the whole “you’re killing off characters from the SuperFriends, which is a kid’s show! That is wrong!” And I don’t buy that because, first off, the SuperFriends was a cartoon show from over thirty years ago. Secondly, Wendy and Marvin have not been around SINCE then. These characters are not important characters. Kids MIGHT recognize them from re-runs of the SuperFriends, but for the most part, they’re recognizable just to older comic book fans.

They’re Jean DeWolff, essentially.

Now, you can always say, “I like them! I don’t want them to be killed!” which was my reaction to Jean DeWolff dying – I liked her as a peripheral background character. That’s fine – you don’t have to agree with a character death (*cough*Nomad*cough*) to allow that the writer has to have some leeway with who he/she kills off.

You have to allow writers to kill off peripheral background characters, especially when their deaths are part of a long-term storyline (as was Jean DeWolff’s death – and yes, even Nomad – and is clearly the case with McKeever here).

So don’t worry, Sean McKeever, I don’t think you’re evil!

77 Comments

This is far too sane and rational. I’m deeply offended!

I think the problem is that it plays like a slasher flick. It’s page after page of a teenage girl being chased (eventually to her death) by a killer dog. While a bunch of superheroes stand around and do nothing. The scene itself is crass and disgusting, and it makes the Titans look self-absorbed and clueless.

Wait a minute, who is offended because Marvin and Wendy were killed ?????

That´s fanboyism ad maximum!!

Heck, how do we even know they’re dead? The entire thing played out in a way that left me thinking “okay, 50/50 odds that’s a dream sequence.”

I was offended because the story was just bad. They don’t question how the dog got there….to and island….other than to say “He swam here! He’s a WONDER DOG!!” The whole set up was just contrived just to get to the big “shocking” ending and made the Titans came off looking like self absorbed idiots through out the book.

And yeah, Wendy and Marvin are only noticeable to those of us who grew up with them so it’s no big deal. Just goes along with the overall problem I have with Teen Titans as a whole though. They have taken the “Teen” aspect all the way out. My son wants to read this book….he’s gotten a little older and liked the Teen Titans cartoon. Likes the “Year One” book that he’s seen so far, and thinks the characters in the regular book look cool. But when you have a character of innocence like Ms. Martian being ho’d out in a truck stop bathroom and then characters from my childhood that I actually pointed out to him as being from my nostalgic yesteryear eaten by their loyal dog…..well…..not the fun escapism I’m looking to share with him just yet. :-)

Overall the killing of them was no big deal. The hackneyed way it was done just didn’t sit very well with me.

Just wait’ they’ll be back in the last issue of Final Crisis…

(Or the one after that.)

ho’d out?

looks like i quit the wrong day to quit reading comics…but i have the trade to look forward too…:)

I guess it can always be looked at as ‘the death of innocence’ considering where they came from…

heck, if you want to go deeper you can say Wendy and Marvin were killed by Donny and Marie, since that;s essentially what Zan and Jana were…so they’re been dead for years, got resurrected only to have misfortune happen once again…

the dog decided it was them or him and he wasn’t going out again…it’s his time to shine…

I hear after that there’s a wonderdog movie in the works now, so his ploy for fame worked…good boy Wonderdog…

Next…Deathmatch with the Gleep!

Because it’s another case of turning something known for being pleasant into something gritty for little else than shock value. So I’m not with you on #3 there even though as far as DC Comics go they were pretty darn minor. It just seems like a desperate publicity ploy.

“Wait a minute, who is offended because Marvin and Wendy were killed ?????

That´s fanboyism ad maximum!!”

No, I think celebrating their deaths is ‘fanboyism ad maximum’…

I haven’t read the issue in question, but everytime I see anything about a character dying in a DC book, I just roll my eyes and say “Oh? Another one?” DC has numbed me to the deaths of their characters at this point. Which is why I care so little for the current DC universe. What’s the point…?

Less concerned over Marvin and Wendy/Oh noes Wonderdog was evil?!!? and more over the way this feels like a rerun over the whole 52 Osiris/Sobek thing. Isn’t there a statue of Osiris in Titans Tower? Shouldn’t Batman Jr. have plans against this sort of thing now?

What next Mr. Tawky Tawny takes a bit out of Supergirl in FC?

That said…after the latest Robinson Superman….Hell yeah I wanna see Krypto and Wonderdog throw down!

I thought it was a great issue, actually.

Re: JacobZC — If it makes you feel any better, Marvin was apparently reading a copy of 52 when he was mauled, so they were aware of the similarities and gave it a nod.

Have a good day.
John Cage

yeah, I agree. i’m gald to see writers taking chances and its nicely worked together for the events of Final Crisis

I always liked Nomad, and wondered just last week what had happened to him, assuming he had just faded into obscurity for a while. Sounded like a lame way to go.

i kinda sort of thing that Teen Titans maybe ought to be PG even if Checkmate or even Batman is not, but maybe that’s just a stupid thought in 2008. I don’t know.

The problem, Brian, is that it’s the same cynical, faux-“edgy” adolescent writing trying to pass itself off as “adult” superhero storytelling that DC’s been shoving down our throats for the last five years. It’s not clever at all; it’s peurile nonsense that would get a D-minus in a high school writing class. It’s also the reason I stopped reading Teen Titans in the first place; the book is nothing but joyless pseudo-snuff masquerading as “real” teenage drama.

And then there’s the subtext of taking characters from a children’s TV show that hipsters make fun of and having them eaten alive. It’s not immoral, but it is more of this fetish Didio and Winick and the rest of the DC braintrust have with proving to the people who made fun of them in high school that they’re not the media stereotype of the man-child comics fan. “See, we hate those things too; please tell us we’re cool!” Pretentious bullshit. Work out your adolescence issues with a therapist, please, not in Teen Titans or Justice League.

Bottom line: I see no problem with decrying bad, infantile writing, regardless of who it’s killing off.

I’m glad they are dead! I hated that show.

Shucks, I had a whole snarl ready to go, but Michael already nailed it. There’s some kind of angry-fanboy vibe about having Wendy and Marvin eaten by a dog that overshadows all the sensible plot-point things Brian is putting in the “pro” column. Those are all good and valid points, but the in-joke, stunt nature of the story completely eclipses them.

That’s my main objection to it. A secondary objection is more along the lines of, “It’d be nice to have a Titans title that skewed a little younger. There ought to be some sort of middle ground between Super Friends and this current DARK EDGY version of the DCU.” Every time I say something like that there’s a huge chorus of shut up, Grandpa! …but really, does it have to be either/or?

Bottom line: I see no problem with decrying bad, infantile writing, regardless of who it’s killing off.

Exactly. I think the reasons for hating this elucidated by Shade and Michael are much more valid reasons to bash this book than PC handwringing reasons like sexism. It’s just tacky, juvenile and plain dumb. First off, the whole winking, tongue in cheek fanboy in-joke thing like “He’s a Wonder Dog” are always forced and corny even when played straight which is why I don’t watch Smallville or read Jeph Loeb stories.

[Arthur Curry: Hey, maybe we should form a Junior Lifeguard Association”

Clark Kent: You mean a JLA [wink, wink]? Maybe some day…”]

That type stuff is always awful. But it’s even worse when you fill up a book with that type of crap to telegraph one bad cliche [gratuitous fanwankery] just so that you can eventually pull a headfake and shock the audience with a totally different awful cliche out of left field [tacky, tasteless gratuitous cannon fodder “shock” death]. It’s like being disgusted at realizing you fell into a crap-filled pit only to have someone surprise you by dropping even more feces on top of you.

Working under Didio really seems to bring out the worst aspects of most people’s writing. People who did great work at Marvel seem to do real lowest-common-denominator stuff when working under Didio.

Both the fans that desperately want “gritty” and the ones that desperately want “fun” sound eerily the same to me. Both fetishists, both juvenile and trying to appear mature. The first by trying to deny anything silly about superheroes, the second by saying how mature they are for not trying to fake maturity.

Who cares?

A story’s quality isn’t dependent on how cheery or how gritty it is. I’m more interested in drama than in the “politics” of relevance versus escapism. Do we even have these silly debates in the science fiction community or the fantasy community or the horror community? Do people even take into account if a new Hugo winner science fiction novel is disdainful or respectful of the sf stories of the 1940s?

I thought you were talking about that episode of Friends I just watched for the first time.

I like how both sides denounce the other side as being emotional stunted man-children. I think we comic folk need new arguments.

You know, last week X-Force came out, along with Last Will and Testament, Wolverine and Avengers: The Initiative.

In X-Force we have a book so violent that they have “Bloody” variants. Last Will… showed a hero cutting his own throat. The Initiative showed the a group barbecuing a Skrull’s head and then eating it.

Did people miss all those books? All these books were far far more graphic than anything in TT. In fact the only graphic scene in Titans was Marvins body with Wonderdog standing over it.

I just find this very odd.

I like how both sides denounce the other side as being emotional stunted man-children. I think we comic folk need new arguments.

How did I denounce anyone?

Anthony Strand basically hit it on the head: the problem is bad writing straight out of a slasher flick, and it doesn’t even make that much sense with what little characterization there was.

The one piece of characterization gave Wendy and Marvin is that they were smart. Smart people, living in a place that is known for being attacked by villains (and which literally was under attack 3 or 4 issues ago) make plans to deal with that, even at the level of, if I’m under attack, here’s where the armory is so I can get a gun, here’s a safe room where I can hide until other come to get us, here’s a quick way to escape the building. (And let’s not forget that Robin should be forcing them to make plans even if they don’t.)

In this issue specifically, Wendy could have
a. tried to get to the training center, where Red Devil had told her the rest of the Teen Titans would be
b. tried to find some sort of weapon to shoot the monster
c. tried to find some sort of safe room with heavily armored doors to hold the monster out
d. make one panicked attempt to contact the Titans that failed because of shoddy construction, and then run around like a chicken with its head cut off

Only one of these choices is a direct rip off of every slasher movie ever made.

(I won’t add the whole “Blue Beetle’s scarab should have noticed something because one of its features is to track everybody Jaime’s ever met” because I’ve accepted that McKeever has no idea what the scarab’s power level should be.)

How did I denounce anyone?

I think he’s talking about us commenters.

Oh, good.

‘Cuz I figured I would count as being on one “side.” :)

They especially shouldn’t be offended that two characters who need special shoes to stand up were taken out in such a rad way.

I just had Google Chrome eat my lengthy eloquent response. This will be blunter.

For me, it’s just part of an overall trend at DC where you take make things that are happy, pure or nice ugly. Mary Marvel’s transformation from wholesome heroine to fetish-wearer is another symptom, as are others dating back to Sue Dibny’s rape. It’s what Valerie D’orazio described in her “Farewell to Comics” as DC’s repositioning as ‘badass comics’.

I was hardly surprised by what happened with Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog. The book’s co-edited by the architect of ‘badass comics’. And he made more or less the same joke last year when he had adult analogs of Charlie Brown and Linus blood sacrifice Snoopy to summon the Great Pumpkin. Because that’s what we do with happy things at DC Comics under Dan Didio: we make them sordid and grim. And bloggers outrage but still buy the damn comics.

The thing is, I can’t even work up the energy for outrage. I’m just sad.

Basically comics are being written by Billy Friday from Alan Moore’s Supreme. Only that was meant to be a parody of ’90s

Both the fans that desperately want “gritty” and the ones that desperately want “fun” sound eerily the same to me. Both fetishists, both juvenile and trying to appear mature. The first by trying to deny anything silly about superheroes, the second by saying how mature they are for not trying to fake maturity.

Who cares?

A story’s quality isn’t dependent on how cheery or how gritty it is.

I don’t think this is an example of people blinding themselves to a good story just because it happens to be grim, and they’re letting their disgust with the tone blind them to the story quality. I think the story quality was pretty poor, and that poor quality stems from McKeever trying to achieve a certain tone in a cliched, hackneyed way, which caused the story to suffer.

@Brian Cronin

I was too broad in my comment: I should have said, “There are people on each side that accuse the other as being emotionally stunted man-children.” However, I wouldn’t be doing my part as an internet blog commenter if I didn’t make generalizations.

Do we even have these silly debates in the science fiction community or the fantasy community or the horror community? Do people even take into account if a new Hugo winner science fiction novel is disdainful or respectful of the sf stories of the 1940s?

Good lord, yes, of course absolutely those debates happen. Are you kidding? As far back as when Dangerous Visions was published in the mid-60’s. Or Philip Jose Farmer’s The Lovers. Or whether or not slasher movies should be considered ‘real’ horror. Or…. and so on and so on.

But Greg, aren’t those debates in science fiction pretty much ended by now? There were huge fights in the 60s and some time afterward, but right now? Please, tell me they’re not still fighting about that? I’m an avid reader of science fiction novels, but I don’t keep up with the fandom.

T. I didn’t read the story. I just get tired of the fans who are always complaining about things not being fun anymore, and the funs always complaning about things being too infantile, or whatever. But hey, I’m also complaining. So I shouldn’t deny my inner, bitching nerd.

But really, a story about a killer Wonderdog eating Wendy and Marvin manages to be BOTH gritty and silly? I thought it would appeal to both camps. :p

But Greg, aren’t those debates in science fiction pretty much ended by now? There were huge fights in the 60s and some time afterward, but right now? Please, tell me they’re not still fighting about that?

THOSE debates are done, sure. They’re not still fighting about those things specifically. But new fights always come along. I thought your idea was that other fan communities are over this sort of thing, or that they never engaged in it, or something like that.

Wendy and Marvin dying in and of itself is probably not that huge a deal. I think the issue becomes more clear when you look at the DC universe over a wider period of time. Lets face it ever since Sue Dibney was raped DC has become a freaking meat grinder. I collected through the 80’s and the 90’s and I honostly dont remember so many deaths in so short a time span. This is why I think the Titans comic has hit a nerve. We’ve moved past “Can you believe so and so died” to “Oh for Pete’s sake not again”

BUT, of course, Sean McKeever IS evil! He is Satan personified!!!!!!!!!! He is demon-spawn!

However, Ted McKeever will ascend to sainthood, once he completes the Metropol triology. ;-)

Wow, my last comment had to be the most convoluted, awkwardly constructed sentence ever! Geez…

It’s difficult to get too upset over the deaths of a couple of annoying characters that I couldn’t stand in the first place. However, the pointless stupidity of it, is indicative of everything that’s wrong with today’s comics. They really are scraping the bottom of the barrel these days if this is the kind of stunt that’s supposed to shock or titillate the readership. It’s the kind of stupid shit I would write in high school. Has the Joker gotten around to raping Robin the boy wonder yet? Or is that a key part of next summers big event?

Has the Joker gotten around to raping Robin the boy wonder yet? Or is that a key part of next summers big event?

They probably won’t do that to Tim Drake because DC seems to have too much respect for him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they retroactively reveal that that happened to Dick Grayson back when he was Robin. It’ll give him another hang-up to whine about and never get over.

To me, It’s another sign that it isn’t yet time to start buying DC comics again. (I quit after Infinite crisis when I realized death and mayhem were the current regime’s solution to everything.) *Sigh* I guess I’ll have to wait a few more years…. :(

Wendy really screwed up, trying to hide in that refrigerator.

The whole idea that people don’t like this story because “Oh Noes, DC killed off beloved Children’s characters, Wendy and Marvin!” is a complete distraction from the main point of objection.

It’s a terrible story.

Seriously, Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog appeared briefly on a cartoon series AGES ago that almost nobody remembers. I mean, everybody’s somebody’s favourite character, but I really doubt that there are legions of SuperMarv fans lining up outside the DC offices with torches and pitchforks.

No, the problem isn’t that they killled off a bunch of Z-list old characters, it’s that it was done so bloody badly. This is a badly-constructed story which exists almost solely for shock value.
The unfortunate thing is, the shock value thing DOESN’T WORK.
We’ve seen it already and we’ve seen it done at least semi-competently.

Shock value only works if you’re not expecting it.
Unfortunately, once you’ve seen Wonder Woman kill Max Lord, Sue Dibny get raped and torched, Teen Titans East get brutally wasted, Stanley and his Monster as victims of Satanic abuse, Charlie Brown sacrifice Snoopy to the Great Pumpkin, Impulse get kicked to death, Blue Beetle get his brains blown out and so forth… it’s not a surprise anymore.

Hey look! It’s an obscure light hearted character from DC’s past. I bet they end up eaten by cannibal hillbillies by the end of the story.

It’s cheap, and it’s badly executed.

So yeah, nobody’s pitching a fit because their favourite obscure Superfriends character got killed, just that it was done in such a half-baked way and almost as the sole reason for an appallingly bad story to exist.

So yeah, nobody’s pitching a fit because their favourite obscure Superfriends character got killed

They most certainly have, hence me writing this post in reaction to those people.

If other people have only criticized the writing of the issue, then fair enough.

That’s not what this post is about.

I have specifically seen posts along the lines of “You killed Marvin and Wendy, you bastards!”

Ah well, in that case, feel free.
However, I feel that the important issue (this is a shitty comic book which is badly written and serves only as an incubator for the sort of shitty shock tactics which seem to be DC comics’ default setting these days) is being buried under a ridiculous shitfight of:

“Waaaah! DC raped my childhood that I didn’t even know or care about until now!”
“Haw! They killed the Wonder Twins! That roxxors! I’m glad you’re crying!”

Babyman, Babyman,
Does whatever a baby can.
Cries and screams,
Poos his pants,
Responds to stuff
With childish rants.
Look out!
Here comes the Babyman!

A shitty poem which I feel justifies the term.

To me it just seemed a question of the tone being off.

If I pick up a WOLVERINE comic (well, apart from FIRST CLASS) I’m not going to be too surprised at a stabbing or someone losing an arm. INITIATIVE featured the Skrull Kill Krew, so again, no big surprise.

Here, it was basically a horror movie scene- the kind of lingering death that’s hard to watch, like the first victim in JAWS or how Lambert dies in ALIEN- dropped at the end of what had been a lighter “day in the life” issue. Sure, you affect the reader more if you catch them off guard, but it’s less an organic shift in tone and more a cheap shock.

McKeever’s better than this.

They most certainly have, hence me writing this post in reaction to those people.

I don’t know, I did a google search after reading this article to see. My search was “wendy marvin wonder dog titans”

First blog result I get is this.

Second blog result is this.

Third blog result is this.

They all seem to criticize the writing of the issue, particularly the needlessly gratuitous shock ending and tasteless violence, the poor setup and plot, the use of a final page reveal that pretty much means nothing to the reader since it’s a villain no one’s seen before, and how after since Identity Crisis DC has been one gruesome spectacle after another and how gleefully butchering Superfriends characters is further proof of the sself-hating fanboy syndrome that’s overcome DC where they feel the compulsive need to destroy anything from its past that was unforgiveably silly, a la raping Sue Dibny.

I have specifically seen posts along the lines of “You killed Marvin and Wendy, you bastards!”

I’m sure those exist, but most of the criticism I’ve seen of this book is more like the well thought-out criticisms II’ve seen in this comments section. At the very least they are much better and valid than the hullabaloo raised over whether Tigra’s beating was sexist or not or whatever the current Women in Refrigerators debate happens to be..

McKeever’s better than this.

But Didio’s not. And guess who just started directly editing Teen Titans?

Well, if Didio wants TEEN TITANS to just be Dark and Gritty- well, okay. Do that, but be consistent about it.

. At the very least they are much better and valid than the hullabaloo raised over whether Tigra’s beating was sexist or not

Yeah, that WAS pretty bad.

Bendis really botched that one, and he’s usually much better than that.

Thankfully, he didn’t kill Tigra, at least!

But…but…but…they DIED! People can’t DIE in comics! That’s not OK! And they certainly can’t be killed by a cute dog!…it’s MEAN!

To be honest, here’s my problem with Wonderdog: it’s a ripoff of Sobek in 52.

It was kinda weird how McKeever even sort of acknowledged the Sobek take-off part in the comic (with Marvin reading an issue of 52 as he’s killed).

Wasn’t there a recent item on this very site rather unequvically condemning the practice of assigning motivations to other people and then decrying them for said perceived motivations? In that spirit, can’t we at least consider that the goal behind the story was to write out two characters the author wasn’t really using while introducing a new villain?

I’m not defending the book. The writing was terrible in spots – the part where Wendy tries to call the Titans in the training room and none of them can hear her had me rolling my eyes (even if it wasn’t a cliche as hoary as the car engine that just won’t start or the fleeing woman who keeps falling down, no high-tech superhero base that’s been attacked multiple times should be without some kind of panic button on their intercom panels). I’m just saying that often when a character dies, there are people who insist it was done for no other reason than “shock value,” but as bungled as the execution may have been, I think it’s at least conceivable that it sprang from less cynical motivation.

(I’m also not saying that Wendy’s death wasn’t played like a horror movie, but there’s a distinction between a writer killing a character “just for shock value” and trying to make a character’s death suspenseful – or even shocking – after deciding to kill that character for legitimate reasons.)

I personally give it even odds that the next issue opens with the Teen Titans in the infirmary, standing over the heavily-tressed bodies of Marvin and/or Wendy, with somebody going, “Thank god we got to him/her/them in time! He/She/They is/are barely holding on! What could have done this?!”

“characters from a children’s TV show that hipsters make fun of”

Please. Hipsters don’t even know or care about Wendy and Marvin. Find a new name for the people you resent.

To be fair, T, Brian IS a moderator on a comics forum, so he’s gonna be getting a higher percentage of ‘fanboy indignation’.

And Dan, yeah, you’re right. Hipsters don’t know Wendy, SuperMarv and Wonderdog from nuthin’. However I do.
I’d recommend the term ‘old fucks’.

Ah well, in that case, feel free.
However, I feel that the important issue (this is a shitty comic book which is badly written and serves only as an incubator for the sort of shitty shock tactics which seem to be DC comics’ default setting these days) is being buried under a ridiculous shitfight of:

“Waaaah! DC raped my childhood that I didn’t even know or care about until now!”
“Haw! They killed the Wonder Twins! That roxxors! I’m glad you’re crying!”

I don’t see this so-called shitfight happening anywhere. And I think there’s a variety of positions between the two points you forth. I don’t think DC raped my childhood. But I do think there is a prevailing attitude of “Gee, that’s kind of cute, let’s make it dark and edgy” for its own sake that I don’t like. The story is terrible because it’s reverse-engineered– it starts with “let’s turn Wonderdog into a parademon and have him eat Wendy and Marvin!” and makes a dumb story that makes that sick gag happen. It’s like the comics of the 50s and 60s, only it’s about how they can make nice things twisted rather than having an original idea.

Have you been to the DC message boards? There are a bunch of people accusing DC of “raping” another one of their cherished childhood memories.

If this was just a debate over a poorly written story in a Teen Titans comic, I don’t think anyone would care. If it was just “a demon dog kills two teens,” there would be significantly less “hullabaloo.” It’s the “Wonderdog kills Wendy and Marvin,” that’s getting people riled up.

When George R.R. Martin started writing/editing the Wildcards books, he knew there was going to be a major battle several books into the series. For it to be realistic, there had to be deaths. So from the outset he created a number of minor characters, giving them minimal appearances and dialogue, knowing they’d be cannon fodder.

The battle ultimately arrives, Kid Dinosaur dies, and he gets flooded with hundreds of letters saying “How could you kill Kid Dinosur! He was my favorite character!”. The character had appeared perhaps four times, over a total of as many pages (out of about a thousand total) … but he was the favorite character of hundreds of people.

I will now think of Kid Dinosaur as a deWolffe…

Have you been to the DC message boards? There are a bunch of people accusing DC of “raping” another one of their cherished childhood memories.

Oh yeah, I’m sure, but over there people have the most extreme reactions to EVERYTHING. That place takes the fan indignation to outrageous extremes on every issue, valid or not. Many people there did the same thing with the Sue Dibny rape for example, using the “raped my childhood” line. I wouldn’t invalidate the many intelligent commentators bashing this comic for rational reasons based on the DC Message Board yahoos out there.

Brian notes in his original comment about one plot point: “by having a stray dog (who is named Wonderdog, wink wink nudge nudge) turn out to be something along the lines of Cerberus.” So Wonderdog is a sword and sorcery aardvark with female issues? Man, that is one kooky comic book.

Capper: You’re thinking of Cerebus, not Cerberus, the Dog of Hades. (Though the former WAS named after the latter.)

And while it’s true that most comic book BBS are places for knee-jerk fan reaction- CBR’s is sadly, a good example of that- there IS a point in that people CAN be upset by the killing of Wendy and Marvin. In popular culture, Wendy and Marvin (as part of the Super Friends) ARE probably better known than most modern DC heroes. And if you tell most people, “They got eaten by Wonderdog. No, that’s not a joke” they’re not likely to think it was a good idea- though perhaps based on the assumption that comics are still for children. Still, people HAVE a right to feel outrage over this, AND to express it online. Questioning that sounds silly to me. Seriously: some of you look at these things too much from a clinical “element of the story, blah blah” part, and not enough from a humanistic viewpoint. Maybe that’s DC’s problem of late- they’ve become disconnected from what the general public feels, possibly convinced that only the shock-value-loving fans are worth pursuing. Funny how Marvel isn’t doing that (except maybe with Marvel Zombies) and still sells pretty well…

I see the argument that characters were created for specific purposes, and that using Wendy and Marvin in the context of a slasher film is changing, but not really *improving* on, their original context.

On the other hand… They got ate by Wonder Dog. That’s kind of hilarious.

I am torn.

So was there really a comic where pastiches of Charlie Brown and Linus sacrificed Snoopy, or are people just using that as a ridiculous example of what would probably happen? If that did happen, where was it?

Jazzbo: I think that was the DC Halloween Special last year… I think Brian covered it in a previous Urban Legend…

Guess what? The Wendy and Marvin who appeared in Teen Titans weren’t the Wendy and Marvin who appeared in Superfriends. They had the same names. That’s it.

Titans: Wendy & Marvin are fraternal twins
Superfriends: Wendy & Marvin weren’t related

Titans: Wendy & Marvin were technological geniuses
Superfriends: Wendy seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. Marvin wasn’t very bright.

If someone puts characters named Clark & Bruce in their story and kills them, does that mean Superman and Batman got killed off?

[QUOTE]If someone puts characters named Clark & Bruce in their story and kills them, does that mean Superman and Batman got killed off?[/QUOTE]

No, but if someone called “The Joker” killed them with KRYPTONITE……..well that would just be oh so clever and edgy!!!

Sijo – Humanistic viewpoint? You mean that superhero comics should teach good values? I happen to disagree, I think the only goal must be making them entertaining and dramatic. Of course, I won’t complain if they’re also uplifting, heart-warming stories. Heart-warming can be quite good. But that should NEVER be the main goal. All in my oppinion, of course.

And it’s hard to speak for the general public. Did not the general public love Dark Knight, the darkest mainstream superhero movie yet? Maybe the innocence of childhood heroes are not so precious to most of the general public.

I have a question for all of you. Do you guys think shock should never be employed in a story? Should it be permanently removed from the writer’s toolkit? I happen to think that eliciting shock is perfectly legitimate, just like elicting fear, excitement, romantic feelings, laughter, crying, or whatever other emotion. If there are stories that are all about laughing, or crying, why not stories that are all about shocking?

I’m curious to know what is the core of the objection to shock. Being shocked can often be good to make you think and to shake you from complacency. I’m not saying this particular story used it well (the story seems kinda silly to me), I’m just saying that doing things for shock value isn’t inherently bad. Or is it? I’m curious to see what you guys think, and why.

I don’t think shock value is inherently bad, just overused. As a non-reader but casual observer of DC’s titles it does seem like they’re overplaying the death card and it ceases to be shocking fairly quickly.

I would also say that you’d better have a solid story backing up your shocks if you want what you’re writing to hold up to repeat reading. So in that sense I would say that a story that is all about the shock or the surprising twist is inferior to one that makes you laugh or cry or any other emotional response you care to name.

Good point, MRW. A story that has many shocks and twists can still stand repeated reading if it’s good, because we can go back to it just to see how the writer pulled it off. Still, there is no problem with some stories being “read one time only” kind of stories.

But the problem is, I’m numb to DC’s “shocks” because it’s the same thing, over and over, every time. Am I shocked that they killed off Wendy and Marvin, in a gory and horrific manner? No, because it’s what they’ve done to every single minor Titans character to appear in the last three years. It’s not shocking anymore. They have, in fact, removed it from their toolkit, by employing it until it loses all meaning.

And the fundamental truth is, once you’re numb to the “shocks”, Didio’s DC has very little else standing behind it. It’s a short-term marketing strategy at the expense of long-term character-building, and I think it’s backfiring. Why do I think that? Because I only heard about this latest controversy online…because I’ve dropped every single DC title and don’t give them my money anymore. (Except for the Showcase Presents line, which reprints their old Silver Age material.)

Are things that bad?

I’ve recently read a whole lot of issues of JSA in one sitting and the newly-relaunched Justice Society of America, and also Birds of Prey (until the end of Gail Simone’s run), and also Justice League of America. A lot of issues, and almost no “shocking” deaths of important characters.

Actually, these series have what we could call “uplifting” themes, since JSA is about older heroes training new ones to be better heroes, and Birds of Pray has a lot about friendship and empowerment.

I don’t quite see it as “the same thing over and over again.” Are a couple of shocking deaths enough to make the whole DC Universe “gritty”. One gritty issue is worth more than, say, 12 issues that have no or few gritty elements?

Maybe the gritty bits get more visibility? Because of the controversy?

How many gritty stories are “too much”?

I see quite a bit of diversity of mood in the DC Universe. It’s not like the Marvel Universe in the early-to-mid 1990s when indeed almost all books were gritty. Is the DC Universe really that gritty? Or are there fans that have a very low tolerance for gritty?

“The writing was terrible in spots – the part where Wendy tries to call the Titans in the training room and none of them can hear her had me rolling my eyes”
TBH – the toiwer had just been destroyed by the Terror Titans.

“Is the DC Universe really that gritty?”

They killed off over a hundred characters over the course of building up to, and through, Infinite Crisis. Many of them, like Psycho Pirate, Pantha, and the Earth-2 Superman, were killed on panel in extremely gruesome ways (head popped like grape, head punched clean off shoulders, head pounded into grisly pulp…hmm, I sense a theme developing here.) 52 continued the fun by ripping a man in half on-panel, and having Black Adam fly all over the world gruesomely murdering people.

I’d say yeah, it’s really that gritty.

Is the DC Universe really that gritty?

No, actually; at least, I don’t think it’s designed to be. That’s why this kind of thing grates more than it would in, say, Daredevil.

I know that’s not Rene’s actual question he was asking but for me that’s the thing that points up the problem. It comes from jamming characters into stories completely inappropriate for their original design and intent. Sometimes you can get something interesting from this — like Alan Moore on Miracleman, which began as a Captain Marvel pastiche– but it seems like this is the only trick they KNOW any more, and I think we’ve all gotten sick of it. At this point, given things like this or the new “bad girl” Mary Marvel, I wonder if DC is ever going to wear it out… especially since I have an ugly hunch that the box-office success of Dark Knight is going to be seen as validation for this approach.

Look, I’m a Bat guy, I applauded the darker Batman approach when it was first floated in 1969 and I’ve been on board ever since. But that doesn’t mean I want the same thing on Superman or Mary Marvel or the Teen Titans. It doesn’t FIT there. That’s basically my problem with it.

Can I be offended by the story in question being fairly stupid and lazy writing, all tone questions aside? I read it out of curiosity once the hubbub started up, and my exact reaction during the Wonderdog reveal was “You have got to be fucking kidding me.” Which I somehow doubt is what McKeever was going for. (Granted, there was that issue of 52 at Marvin’s foot….)

As for killing off Marvin and Wendy, I can think of a very major aesthetic objection to it – the characters were totally unestablished, with maybe two pages of appearances in any given issue, until the issue where they were killed. Not only is killing off minor characters subsequent to their first major characterization a tremendous action-story cliche, but it’s very poor writing from any sort of structural standpoint. How can anyone give a damn about the deaths of characters who couldn’t possibly have triggered suspension of disbelief and felt “real” yet? This is a tremendous mistake, and I think a reader who just expected better out of McKeever would be justified. Even if McKeever goes somewhere interesting from this particular issue, it will never stand on its own as anything but poor work.

It would have been far better writing, from a structural viewpoint, to have disposed of a less obvious and less defenseless target. In a purely theoretical universe, Wonderdog eating Robin would’ve had maximum dramatic impact, but like hell DC’s going to let him get away with that. It’s also sort of obvious that McKeever won’t be allowed to kill Wonder Girl or Blue Beetle, either. That still leaves Kid Devil as (presumably) a viable target. So I feel confident in saying that if Wonderdog had eaten Kid Devil you would’ve been left with a much better story, a more menacing villain, and a less predictable narrative, without any of the pages preceding the Wonder Dog sequence being changed.

Greg, John –

There are a lot of gritty elements in the current DC Universe, yeah. But what I was getting to, was the number of issues with gritty elements versus the number of issues with no such elements. From my reading of JSA and Birds of Prey, I’d say issues with gritty elements are a tiny minority. It’s just that when a gritty thing happens, it’s a big deal, because it’s a character dying, that supposedly will have consequences. Now, an optimistic story will not always have consequences (thought sometimes it does, like when Black Canary adopted that Asian child).

I’m just not sure that someone buying and reading all the comics published by DC comics in a given month, with no preference for darkness or light in superhero comics, will find the whole thing that gritty. On the other hand, gritty things usually happen in the big event mini-series, like Infinite Crisis, so they’re more noteworthy, one could argue that the general “direction” of the DC universe (as demonstrated in the minis) is gritty these days, even though someone buying the Superman titles will likely find no over-abundance of gritty elements each month. Unlike, for instance, Marvel in the 1990s.

IMO, most of the iconic characters lend themselves to a variety of different approaches. I’d say Superman is a mostly optimistic character, but there are enough dark/tragic elements in Superman to tell the occasional pessimistic story too. I’m less sure about Captain Marvel, that seems to be much more optimistic than Superman. The Teen Titans? I dunno. The characters had their heyday when they were super-angsty, under Marv Wolfman’s hand. The graphic details were never there, but you could tell that Starfire had been abused when she was sold as a slave to the Citadel, for instance.

I think the characters are more elastic than you give them credit for, personal preferences aside.

[…] good points the story may have had– our Dread Lord and Master did a nice job enumerating them here– they are utterly lost beneath the gleeful sniggering. “Check it out! Wendy and Marvin got […]

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