Monday, April 25, 2016

Vindicator and Halo

I am glad that Katana has been gaining more popularity through her own comic series as well as appearances on TV and in the movies - I just wish that her Outsiders teammate Halo got some of the spotlight as well.   She had a great look and power set, and best of all was not simply a female version of a pre-existing male hero.  It's a shame that DC just chooses to keep her in limbo for years at a time.


Richard Fuller said...

Best look for Halo. When the Outsiders met the Titans and Dr. Light 'controlled' Halo, indications was she'd be a human being of living light. Instead, what I read later on, she was simply a teen-ager (A teen-ager????) possessed by light aliens. Total thumbs down, then she lost that astonishingly cool costume. Total ruination of a character who was too snazzy.

AirDave said...

Halo did have a cool costume and powers. She was always a teenager. I never got the impression from when I started reading BATO that she wasn't a teenager. She kinda rounded out the team. I would have liked it more if more of Batman's stable of partners had shown up as guest stars - like The Creeper, The Demon, Ralph and Sue or Plastic Man, Green Arrow. I liked the Batman, Black Lightning, Metamorpho combination.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I always felt that Violet Harper should've turned out to be another relative of Roy Harper. If only to bring about an Outsiders/NTT team-up much sooner than DC accomplished in real-time. It would certainly have been a much better gimmick than the sociopathic Terra story arc!

Anonymous said...

Richard Fuller, the relationship between the teenager Halo and her guardian, the hard warrior Katana, was integral to the early Batman and the Outsiders comics.

Anonymous above, great idea about the Harper connection. Ross, how about Halo and the Guardian, with an Outsiders/Newsboy Legion backup?

Bob Buethe said...

@Richard Fuller: To add a few more details, Violet Harper was a teenage sociopath who crossed the wrong people, and was murdered. A light-based alien, curious about humans, reanimated her body, but somehow its memory (and hers) were erased in the process.

Anonymous said...

@ B.B.---at least Violet was over 18. Tara Markov was, what, still in the first half of puberty when DC depicted her as Deathstroke's Trojan *ho**?

Cary Comic said...

@Anonymous (re: Terra)---unless she was a flat-chested over-16.

Richard Fuller said...

So Violet Harper being evil and possessed by alien light beings doesn't sound just a bit like Barbara Norriss?

Energy Law said...

I loved BATO until writer/creator Mike W. Barr split the team from The Batman, and took them to California in the deluxe format edition. I felt there were a lot of missed opportunities that could have been explored if the team stayed together in Gotham. I flat out hated the move to Los Angeles. And although I did like her origin story, Looker was simply an unneeded, unnecessary new member. I would have preferred simply adding Windfall (from the Masters of the Disaster) and that's it. We never explored Katana's sword, or had a rematch with the Samaurai Squad. Another war with Halo's "balls of light aliens" would have been cool. Mike Barr really jumped the shark with that one.

Richard Fuller said...

I thought EVERYTHING about Batman and the Outsiders was excellent in promise.

The JLA did not need Batman. The assortment of heroes was perfect (the initial six team members).

In no time at all, Batman was bogged down in "do as I say, no matter what you understand" until finally he left the team as well (appearing like he couldn't get along with anyone; Dick Grayson, JLA, Outsiders).

I always felt MWB was too hung up on Geo-Force and I'll go so far as to say because of Aryan white reasons.
Had Black Lightning been a white character, he would have been the hero put in charge of the group after Batman's departure.
"Writing" always dictated the black hero "didn't want" but it was always simply because the white writer saw the character no other way than being disagreeable.

From there, MWB allowed WAY too much of his political opinions into the book, as best evidenced on a letters page in one issue. He literally mocked, challenged and responded in an amazingly disparaging way toward readers who disagreed with him politically. I thought, and we are WANTING people to buy this book?

And then the introduction of Looker (hmm, a redhead with telekinetic abilities, like Jean Grey?) showed up and is 'ugly' when she has short brown hair and wears glasses as Emily, but with long red hair is now beautiful (nevermind that artwork never drew her in an attractive manner).

Geo-Force and Looker were not a dynamic nor likable duo, yet they dominated the book, leaving old stalwarts like Metamorpho and Black Lightning so far in the background, it wasn't funny.

When the series ended, Metamorpho went into JLI where he was used brilliantly and to great effect, which I thought was further evidence of the bad writing in BATO.

And that silly attempt at a relaunch (with once again, the Mr. and Mrs. Unlikable couple, Brion and Lia) front and center and two-bit hackneyed new characters brought in, with not even a consideration to recruit Metamorpho or Black Lightning.

Much as I did with All-Star Squadron, I could look back at the first two issues of BATO and see all the promise and think of how it all just fell apart.

Cary Comic said...

Sad, but true, RF.

Sonofjack Well said...

Seriously, Richard Fuller? You accuse Mike Barr of being racist simply because he seemed to favor Geo-Force as a character over Black Lightning? He did, after all, co-created Geo-Force. This certainly would not be the first time a writer promoted a character he created over one that he didn't create. But since Geo-Force is white and Black Lightning is black, the only plausible explanation is that Mike Barr was being racist. O-kay. Got it.

Actually, I agree with Energy Law. BATO jumped the shark when they split from Batman. In my opinion, the most interesting thing about BATO was the idea of Batman training and leading a group of superheroes. I thought the only interesting character besides Batman was Metamorpho who was always a favorite of mine. Black Lightning, Geo-Force, Katana and Halo all seemed pretty generic to me--like they were characters called out of central casting. Of those, I liked Halo the best. However without Batman, The Outsiders held little interest. I did think that Looker was an especially bland character with one of the worst costumes ever.

Actually the best idea I ever heard for BATO was during a conversation in a comic book store in Bloomington, Indiana. Someone opined that The Outsiders part of BATO should have been made up of the Charlton Action Heroes (Blue Beetle, The Question, Nightshade, Captain Atom and Peacemaker) that had recently (at the time) been acquired by DC.

Richard Fuller said...

Geo-Force dominating BATO over Black Lightning, the more experienced hero, was essentially what we just saw with the recent Academy award nominations; it wasn't racism, it was the favorite choices, the most preferred, but it wasn't racism!

This, in essence, is becoming the new racism (or in truth, the racism that was and is always there) to automatically favor the fair-haired white characters as leader over any perceived minority character.

This has happened numerous times, really far too many to count, in comic books; Hercules dominated the Champions, but as Tony Isabella gave hint in a Yahoo group once, that was essentially too many cooks in that kitchen.

Roy Thomas likewise endlessly favored fair-haired blonde characters over and over in his series' (Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle as well as sassy Firebrand in All-Star Squadron, Arn Munro and golden-aged Fury in Young All-Stars, Silver Scarab and Fury in Infinity, Inc).

That it happened so often, and with writers insisting they were liberally open-minded to all facets just made the books repetitive and overall disappointing.

Anonymous said...

But, along that same line, Rick, do you think the recent trend of Afro-Americanizing certain old-time characters (Nick Fury, Kid Flash, et. al.) is over-compensatory?

Cary Comic said...

I know I do. For example: will the imminent "rebirth" of the DCU result in Jimmy Olsen becoming a bald African-American photojournalist in the mainstream comics, just to mimic the portrayal on SUPERGIRL?

I hope not. I'm not asking for a TV Jimmy with red hair and freckles. Just keep him Caucasian in general, to avoid going over-board with political correctness.

Unknown said...

Provacative thoughts, Rick Fuller! I can't completely disagree. What can we say? MWB was definitely "old school"! He essentially wrote Black Lightning as a blacksploitation character, with fake "ebonics" slang and what not, even though Jeff Pierce was an ENGLISH TEACHER! But i tolerated it cuz Barr really WAS my favorite writer in the early 1980s. Katana was written a bit better. Halo was a dumb blond chick, no matter how you slice it. Barr was "old school", the last of the baby boomer writers fom the late '60s and 70s (who's left? Len Wein?) with that whitebread mentality. As a black kid, it was tough defending DC Comics to my friends who preferred the diversity over at Marvel!

Simreeve said...

I agree about having liked the Halo/Katana dynamic, and having preferred Gotham over LA for the Outsiders' base. My personal choices for new members after the founding ones would have been Windfall, perhaps, and then either Man-Bat or Ragman.


Richard Fuller said...
"Roy Thomas likewise endlessly favored fair-haired blonde characters over and over in his series' (Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle as well as sassy Firebrand in All-Star Squadron, Arn Munro and golden-aged Fury in Young All-Stars, Silver Scarab and Fury in Infinity, Inc)."
What?!? Arn Munro wasn't blond, he had black hair... as did Flying Fox ['First Nations'], Tsunami [Japanese-American], and Neptune Perkins, who all received significant exposure in that series as well. And, leaving aside the detail that Firebrand was a redhead -- like Thomas' second wife -- rather than a blond (which admittedly isn't much different in "racial" terms), have you forgotten that it was Thomas who created 'Amazing-Man' as an [anachronistic, in terms of Golden Age comics] African-American superhero?!?

Anonymous said...

To be honest, I haven't read enough of the comics mentioned here to have a view on the serious issues being discussed. But I would like to say two things about Black Lightning.

1) As Mr. Pierce, the English teacher, he spoke standard US English. As Lightning, he used slang. It was as much part of his disguise as the big hair and mask, and easily as believable a disguise as Superman having a curl where Clark Kent's hair was straight.

2) He was often a reluctant hero and a lone operator. While it would have been good character development making him the leader, not doing so was in character. As was the much less interesting character Geoforce naturally moving into a leadership position.

Worldmusic said...

The Outsiders completely fell apart as a book by the late '90s. I had stopped buying comics in general when i went off to University in 1992, then it was grad school overseas, and then the Peace Corps. By the time I returned to my local comic shop in NYC in 2000, I could not recognize the book!?! Looker was a vampire? Halo was dead? Two different teams? The Eradicator? A werewolf? Felix Faust was now a hero? The book was a complete mess. Believe it or not, things were even worse over at the Teen Titans- Marv Wolfman had lost his damn mind with that title as well. It was at this point that began to exclusively purchase European or independently published books and high grade graphic novels. DC and Marvel had both gone to the pits by 2001 and things have not gotten better (New 52?) in 2016!!!

Iron Butterfly said...

Mike Barr must have realized his mistake when he finally reunited Batman with the Team when they went up against Eclipso, but by then the book had lost all its steam and it was too little too late. I agree with SIMREEVE, would have loved to see The Outsiders team-up with Ragman or Man-Bat. In fact, I always felt Robert Kanigher should have taken over the book, since his writing style really matched Mike W. Barr's, I felt. R.K. was "old school" too, but his stories always has a progressive/social justice slant to them. BTW, the Deluxe Format was highly overrated, in my opinion.

Energy Law said...

.....well, despite jumping the shark eventually, (and some issues with stereotypes) Micheal W. Barr (and Jim Aparo) will always be my favorite Writer/Artist team for the bulk of my childhood and teens as a comic book collector.

Richard Fuller said...

It really isn't much of a trend to 'blacken' characters as has been done, such as Nick Fury in Avengers and Jimmy Olsen on Supergirl, but what makes the Jimmy Olsen change ABSURD is there is then essentially another character standing alongside the black Jimmy Olsen who, is basically the Jimmy Olsen character. Black is irrelevant, it's like watching Jimmy Olsen in a Michael Jordan vein or something with the racial transition on Supergirl.

Arn Munro had that white streak like Rogue and Alexandra Cabot, might as well have been blonde, and redheads still fall under fair-haired, all Caucasian. And before anyone says there was Phantom Lady and Hawkgirl, which of the four women had much more exposure in the title?

And same for Young All-Stars. An Indian and a Japanese girl? Really? Didn't mean nothing with Arn (and his father's!) sexcapades dominating the series.

And while I was never a MWB fan from anywhere else, it seems apparent what writers such as Thomas and Wolfman did in the seventies or so drastically changed in bizarre ways into the eighties.

I can't believe the same Roy Thomas wrote some of the books I 'MARVELED' over in the seventies then turned around and did the peculiar turn on All-Star Squadron.

And the only 'character' in Black Lightning 'being reluctant' to be a team leader is because of his race. No matter what 'character' he had, if he were white, like Wolverine, the Thing even the Hulk, hey, if the leader position was offered to him, he'd leap at it.

This was DC's understanding of black in the '70s; they refuse to join.

And I won't say things are much better today, but I don't read a lot of today's comic books, as I've said elsewhere, other than Scooby Doo Team Ups and Batman '66.

But today's comic book writers pretty much have grown up reading those from the '80s or '90s, so that was their influence, or at best, all comic books will do today is emulate the movies, as was done with Adam West and Chris Reeves at their moments in time.

Ah, the books in the '80s had their period and all the disappointments that went with them.

Richard Fuller said...

Truthfully, putting Japanese Tsunami and Native American Flying Fox or Neptune Perkins in Young All-Stars was the SAME as Black Lightning in Outsiders; just put them there to be seen and do nothing with them.

Their 'character' is a reluctance to join and associate with the mainstream (white) crowd. Why? Because this was how the writers and editors viewed these 'people of color' in general.

And once more, all along the same line as Black Vulcan, Samurai and El Dorado having such visible skin on the Superfriends to show so-called diversity.

Simreeve said...

Richard Fuller said...
"Arn Munro had that white streak like Rogue and Alexandra Cabot, might as well have been blonde,"
[imagine 'eyes rolling' emoticon here]
'one drop'?

Anyway, he was the post-Crisis "replacement" for the Golden Age Superman's energies, so of course he got a lot of attention...
just as the 'Fury' added for YAS was not just [now] the mother of the 'Fury' already appearing in Infinity Inc, so that her story really had to be told, but the "replacement" for Wonder Woman's energies...

Richard Fuller said...
"and redheads still fall under fair-haired, all Caucasian. And before anyone says there was Phantom Lady and Hawkgirl, which of the four women had much more exposure in the title?"
Roy Thomas had plans from early on in the series (maybe even from the very start?), to move the 'Freedom Fighters' to Earth-X at some point, so making much more extensive use than he did of Phantom Lady might not have been the best idea when she was going to be written-out like that; Hawkgirl was seen by some people as too [close to/dependent on] Hawkman to be worth reading about; so if Thomas wanted to place a female character of genuinely 'Golden Age' origins in a significant role that didn't really leave him much choice except Liberty Belle, did it? There was probably a limit on how many newly-created characters he could have added to the team without breaking the general theme, and can one really blame him for modelling the first new female team-member whom he added [i.e. Firebrand] on his own wife & co-plotter?
Or do you consider the fact that Roy Thomas married a Caucasian woman to be "racist" in itself?!?

Richard Fuller said...
"And same for Young All-Stars. An Indian and a Japanese girl? Really? Didn't mean nothing with Arn (and his father's!) sexcapades dominating the series."
and the multi-part 'secret origin' story for Neptune Perkins & his family, in which Tsunami played a significant role; and the business about the internment Japanese-Americans; and the introduction of the 'Young Allies', and Fury's fight to control her inner mythological being...
And remember that the series was cancelled while Thomas was still interested in writing it: Who here knows what long-term plans for the various characters that might have disrupted?

Richard Fuller said...
"Truthfully, putting Japanese Tsunami and Native American Flying Fox or Neptune Perkins in Young All-Stars was the SAME as Black Lightning in Outsiders; just put them there to be seen and do nothing with them.

Their 'character' is a reluctance to join and associate with the mainstream (white) crowd. Why? Because this was how the writers and editors viewed these 'people of color' in general."
I don't remember much reluctance on the part of Flying Fox to join: He had been sent out by his people to fight the Axis, so he would fight the Axis, and the team seemed to him like a good way of doing so; and as for reluctance on the part of Tsunami, mightn't you have been reluctant to fight for a country that had just locked up so many of your relatives just because of their ancestry?!?

Baseball Man said...

I think things are a lot better now, thanks to the profileration of independent publishers, european bande desinee, and graphic novels like Love&Rockets, Persopolis, and Joe Sacco's Palestine books. We now have a Black Mr. Terrific and Batwing who had thier own books, sexually ambiguous Harley Quin and Deadpool, and openly gay Batwoman. Unfornatunately, the quality of writing is spotty, but the industry has gotten better with this NEW GENERATION crop of writers. The old fogeys are out, Mr. Fuller! Give the NEW kids a chance!!

Richard Fuller said...

No imagined eye-rolling going on with your 'one drop' comment. Arn Munro was caucasianistically white, regardless of hair, odd or otherwise. He could be intended to 'replace' Superman and GA Fury to 'replace' Wonder Woman, but that hardly meant they had to engage in endless juvenile antics.

As for the 'attention' on these characters, it was banal at best.

These were SUPERHERO comic books for crying out loud, not daytime romances.

And what on Earth does Roy's WIFE have to do with his inclusion of dominant white people? He couldn't extensively include blacks or Indians unless he married a woman of this race?

This is all really a moot point. Young All-Stars, BATO, All Star Squadron, all are 20 to 30 years old. They should have been better than they were, but sadly weren't. No one is going to look at any of these titles and go, "WOW, what an astonishing inclusion of minorities on an equal basis with the white characters. When did things change?"

I think the funniest bit overall was early on in All Star Squadron, Roy asked several times, "what heroes do you want to see? The main ones (Superman, Wonder Woman, Dr. Midnite) or less seen characters", but I think he intended all along to have Belle-Brand-Quick, as I called them, front and center in the series all along.

Richard Fuller said...

Baseball Man, todays books are too expensive and comic books should be stories, not soapboxes. Include characters, don't endlessly spout on they need to be included to the readers.

I really couldn't care less about Harley Quinn's sexcapades anymore than I could Batwoman or Kevin Keller, whatever his name is in Archie.

Not what I look for in comic books.

Anonymous said...

"...which of the four women had more exposure in the title?"

Given the scantiness of her Golden Age costume at Quality Comics?

Phantom Lady (lol)!

Gasoline Koolaid said...

Rick Fuller, I remember quite well those Letters to the Editor pages, where Mike Barr lambasted readers who he disagreed with. I have to say, I sure do MISS THOSE DAYS when comics actually had letters pages, and writers and editors took the time to respond to them. I have not seen a letters page in a comic book since 1993. This literary tradition has disappeared and its too bad. Companies have ZERO relationship now with fans, outside of comic book convention participation. Mike Barr was HILARIOUS when he was roasting readers who felt Katana was too "violent", or were angry that a Metamorpho story where he figured out The Batman's identity was declared "non-canon"! Mike Barr tore them new ones, and was funny as hell when he did it! Yup, the last of a dying breed of Old School writers. How i miss those days when people took to time to write thoughtful, analytic critiques of an issue, as opposed to some dumb ad hominem comment on youtube.

Richard Fuller said...

Then MWB needed to get into stand-up. I wanted to read a comic book about superheroes, not someone's mouthing off at others who took the time to write in with their perspective.

Ironically, you seem to be praising behavior that would no doubt do in what you are missing. Why would any reader bother writing their opinion in to a comic book team if they were going to be ridiculed in such a manner?

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