Friday, October 28, 2005

This and that, plus a question and comments about Gotham Central and proprietary rights

Things in my head:

Cronin is getting all kinds of love these days, and the rest of the contributors here should be jealous, since, let's face it, Brian's Comic Book Urban Legends are cute and all, but I mean, really, have you seen Brian? Should we really be praising this guy?
I disagree with almost everything T. says, but he's interesting and provocative and has some good thoughts about comics. He begins a review of Wanted here, although he never actually gets to the book itself (it's part 1). Head on over there and tell him how crazy he is because of his thoughts about the history of America. Or tell him he's a genius - you make the call!
I was reading the second trade of Gotham Central, by everyone's favorite punching bag, Greg Rucka. It's the one in which we learn Renee Montoya's BIG SECRET (she's a lesbian - ooh, how cutting-edge!). It's not bad. Anyway, I thought of some things, and I need your help, good readers:

1. What the hell happened to Harvey Bullock? I always liked Bullock, but from what was said in this trade, he did bad things and Internal Affairs smacked him down. What happened? I have been away from the Bat-books too long, apparently.

2. In his introduction, Rucka says that when Denny O'Neil approached him about writing a Batman story, he told Denny he wanted to write a Two-Face story because, he suspected, every writer wants to write a Two-Face story for their Batman tryout. That may be true, but isn't that everything that is wrong with comics writing these days? All writers want to write the definitive "fill-in-the-villain-or-hero" story, and we get messes like "Hush." Why would Rucka even want to write a Batman story? I would like Gotham Central a LOT more if the cops were taking down "regular" villains. It would read more like a good police procedural instead of "cops-sitting-around-waiting-for-Batman-to-throw-them-a-bone" stories.

3. Rucka also mentions that he didn't "make" Montoya a lesbian. "She was always gay," says our esteemed writer. Well, sorry, Greg, but that just ain't true. Brian posted the other day about when Renee Montoya was created, back in 1992. Did anyone ask Paul Dini if she was gay back then? He may have said "I didn't really think about it," but that's not the same thing. Tell Montoya's boyfriend who died from the Clench that she was always a lesbian - he might be surprised. Tell all the writers who wrote her before Rucka did. Now, I don't have a problem with Montoya being a lesbian - whatever. But the fact is, Rucka took over a FICTIONAL character and needed a story, so he MADE her a lesbian. That's fine, but it's one of these things that comes up with regards to proprietary rights: Paul Dini obviously has no rights over Montoya, because he was a DC wage slave, but he created the character whose sexual orientation was probably not even an issue. Rucka grafted her sexual orientation onto her for the sake of a story. The next writer might say she was just "experimenting," and Rucka won't have a thing to say about it. Just a point.

Have a good weekend, everyone - watch out for Cronin lurking outside your window!

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Blogger Kevin Melrose said...

Rene, if she were real, wouldn't be the first lesbian to have a boyfriend, or a husband.

Perhaps, in Rucka's mind, she always was a lesbian. Each writer, I hope, brings his own take to a character. Sometimes that involves sexual orientation; other times, it focuses on family or work relationships, or political philosophy. Or whatever.

Of course, Rucka "took over a FICTIONAL character and needed a story, so he MADE her a lesbian." But he also fleshed out the character, making Montoya one of the more interesting and fully realized figures in the DC Universe.

This "point" crops up every so often, invariably about Montoya and a handful of other fictional gay characters. But no one seems fazed when a writer "makes" a fictional character heterosexual -- even when his or her personal relationships hadn't been previously depicted.

I don't know, maybe that's because in comics, "heterosexual" is the default orientation.

Sure, whatever writer tackles Montoya next may undo everything Rucka has done with the character: the writer could make her dye her hair, marry a doctor, have 2.5 kids and move to Sacramento.

But that's the nature (and pitfall) of handling corporate-owned characters.

10/29/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

Has anyone done anything with the other lesbian on the GCPD, Maggie Sawyer? Easily one of the most well-rounded, beloved characters of the Superman supporting cast, Sawyer's homosexuality was played as such a non-issue, and even made it into the cartoon series. I really missed her when she moved to Gotham, but I think she and Montoya have enough in common (homosexuality, fighting crime alongside superheroes, etc) to be pretty decent friends.

10/29/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the problem is that Rucka, particularly in the past few years, has injected girl-girl innuendo in nearly every comic he writes, from the Talia/her sister bondage scene in Death and the Maidens to the Sasha catfights in The OH GOD WHY DID THIS EVER GET GREENLIT Project. It's getting rather juvenile. Much like when people insist he really is angry about the treatment of women in comics... which he solves by brutally killing off or maimin his female characters so the male heroes can cry over it.

10/29/2005 02:16:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Kevin, I completely agree with pretty much everything you say - my point was that Rucka could have said "I always believed she was a lesbian," but to say he didn't make her one is kind of, well, wrong. And I think he did make her more interesting, not necessarily by making her gay, but by looking at how her personal life (including her relationship with her parents) influenced her police work.

And at the risk of offending any gay people out there, I think in real life, "heterosexuality" is the default orientation, just like in comics. Let's face it, heterosexuals outnumber homosexuals anywhere from 4 to 1 to 10 to 1, depending on who you believe. That's why no is fazed about a fictional character is straight, and the same reason why people get all bent out of shape when some character is gay.

I'm just saying, as you are, that dealing with a corporate-owned character means you can't really make statements like Rucka did. I also wonder if he would have the stones to make, say, Commissioner Gordon gay. Now there's a story!

10/29/2005 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

That Cronin is a scary cat!

What was your overall take of Gotham Central, Vol.2? I just tried Vol. 1 and loved it but dreaded Vol.2 because of the Ruckaness.

10/29/2005 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Vol. 2 is pretty good. I actually like most of Rucka's work - both Whiteout series are good, and his early stuff on Detective is decent. This is more of the same - police procedural stuff. It's not great, but as Kevin points out, he does a good job turning Montoya into an interesting character and making her relationship with Harvey Dent a key part of the story and her life. It's definitely worth a read.

10/29/2005 11:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think the real "love that dare not speak its name" is bisexuality. No, you can't have tendencies in both directions! You have to pick a team and stay with it!

10/30/2005 01:27:00 PM  
Blogger Bill D. said...

Didn't Montoya and Two-Face have a weirdly flirtatious thing going on for awhile, or was that an animated series / Batman Adventures thing?

10/30/2005 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was hoping someone would explain what happened to Harvey Bullock. I missed it...

10/30/2005 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Bill - this is the story about Harvey's little love thing with Montoya. It's not reciprocal, so I don't know, not having watched the animated series, if she flirted back with him in that, but here, it's definitely one-sided.

I know, Charlie - I'm still wondering too. Come on, people - what happened to Bullock?

10/30/2005 05:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Harvey Bullock? Short answer is "Batman: Officer Down" -

Officer Down was a rarity, in that it was a title-wide crossover that worked fairly well. Gordon gets shot and the only witness is a surly Catwoman. In the end, the culprit is found but gets off with a relative slap on the wrist. Bullock used his own methods to make sure the person who shot Gordon was killed and was kicked off the force as a result, becoming a boozy PI.

Tom, Maggie Sawyer eventually moves to Gotham and becomes the head of Gotham Central to replace another character. Given that she and Montoya are both in serious relationships, the friction between the two is refreshingly non-sexual. Montoya points out having to deal with problems Sawyer never had - an extremely religious, Hispanic family and a city (apparently) less accepting of gay and lesbian lifestyles.

The whole boyfriend issue thing doesn't bug me, considering I just got into the Batbooks a few years ago. Also, Renee has been portrayed as being in denial/the closet for a long time for a multitude of reasons. One of those reasons is, yes, she knows Two-Face has a crush on her - the end result of that crush becoming the Gotham Central arc "Half A Life".

For the curious, Harvey Bullock also returns to Gotham Central in a well-done story about a case he never closed that they need his help one, involving The Mad Hatter and the Penguin. Gotham Central is a damn fine read on the whole.

10/30/2005 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

In other gay comics issues, I thought it was interesting that Young Avengers went ahead and confirmed the orientation of its two gay characters. A lot of people said that they were never going to explicitly state it and just hint at it, but I thought it was commendable that they didn't go that route and just went with it. It is annoying to read the letter columns though. It seems like it's all letters saying "You shouldn't be talking about these ADULT issues in an all-ages comic! How dare you try to approach an issue that I have strong feelings about!"

10/30/2005 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ah, crap, I had some other comments about homosexuality (mostly dealing with the recent "outing" of a character in Runaways), but they didn't post right. Bummer. So that's what I meant by "other gay comics issues".

10/30/2005 09:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a story about a bi sexual robin would be fun!

I give DC 3 years for them to pull that story!

Her Lesbianism is burnt into montoya now, literally!

So how come everybody likes picking on Rucka? I just read Loeb though.

10/31/2005 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger Darkseid said...

Your Cronin is WEAK compared to the power that is DARKSEID!

10/31/2005 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Darius Kazemi said...

Heh, I'm sure Grant Morrisson would have a thing or two to say to Rucka about expanding on the lives of fictional characters.

10/31/2005 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger acespot said...

As for Greg writing Lesbians into all his work, have you ever read "Queen and Country"? First off, it's better than any of his DC work. Secondly, nary a lezzie to be found.

6/07/2006 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My main issue with the Renee suddenly being outted thing was it seemed like she was made a lesbian, as you said, for the sake of story, not because of character. Also... I may be reading a bit too much into this, but I was a bit annoyed that the two most prominent and strong female cops in DC both have to be lesbians. Maggie feels very natural as a lesbian and I like it, but Renee... Well, it was just for the sake of the story and since she was a strong, independent woman she was their easiest choice.

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