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Dance of the Puppets

Like a bat on a hot tin roof since August 2005

Friday, June 16, 2006

Incandescent: Losing the Light

Incandescent not only describes my subject, but my mood. It's time to set the rant levels to 11.

I'd start with a few words about writer Judd Winick, but Ragnell's got that covered.

Now I'm not sure how much time is supposed to elapse between Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis, but continuity is stretched past breaking point here, so it may get a little confusing. In Green Arrow #54 Winick writes a story that follows up on events in Identity Crisis, but in order to fit in with Infinite Crisis and 52 it officially occurs during 52 week 2, even though it was published 10 months earlier. Confused yet?

GA #54, the short version: Green Arrow and Black Lightning are looking for evil Doctor Light. Evil Dr. L. is conveniently only a few blocks away attacking Kimiyo Hoshi, the good Doctor Light. Evil Dr. L steals Kimiyo's powers and flies off cackling. Green Arrow finds Kimiyo in the hospital and is attacked by Mirror Master and Killer Frost, and runs off to fight them. Kimiyo is left bleeding on the floor and never seen again.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Well the continuity problems start with Kimiyo being seen in costume in Tokyo during Infinite Crisis, and then in America in 52 #1, and in flashbacks to around the same time in current issues of Action Comics. She's actually appeared more in costume using her powers in the last few months than she has in years, except that she was depowered and badly wounded months ago.

And to make it worse, in GA #54 it states quite specifically that she has not used her powers in two years. But then it also has Kimiyo Hoshi, astronomer, scientist, and medical docter who lives in Japan working as a business executive in Star City, America. Something is wrong somewhere and I think it's probably that Judd Winick is a lazy writer who didn't bother to research the character he was planning to destroy.

Winick writes the fight between Light and Kimiyo as entirely one sided, and Evil Dr. L. only wins because Winick ignores Kimiyo's established abilities, and worst of all belittles her character by telling us that she lacks the instinct to understand the situation. Frankly, I don't fully understand the situation.

Winick implies that they have the same powers, but that's nonsense. Although both are light based, their powers are not related in any way. Evil Dr. L got his from technology built into his costume, which he didn't even create; Kimiyo was zapped by The Monitor who channeled the power of a star into her. And even if they were identical, that doesn't mean that one can just take the other's power. It's like saying an athelete could steal another athelete's ability to jump by hitting them. Sure, super villains are always stealing heroes' powers, but there's usually some explanation for how they are doing it. Here there is none.

And then there's the problem that Kimiyo is magnitudes of times more powerful than Evil Dr. L. In Crisis on Infinite Earths she tapped a star to blow a hole in the Anti-Monitor. Although nobody bothered to write her at this level of power in later years, for raw power output she is in the Superman class. And unlike Evil Dr. L. she has been shown to tap other sources to boost her levels. There is evidence to support her taking his power, but not vice versa.

Once Evil Dr. L has "stolen" her powers, we only get one more scene with Kimiyo. Green Arrow bursts into the hospital room where she is lying bandaged, with an oxygen mask over her face. She gets to deliver a message to GA from Evil Dr. L. that it is a trap, so that the villains can make a dramatic entrance. GA goes chasing after them and Kimiyo is left lying there, never to be seen again (not counting the many "flashbacks" that have appeared since). She gets no resolution to her story, no cathartic revenge on her abuser, not even an indication whether she survived the experience.

She didn't even get one of those little tag scenes you'd get at the end of the A-Team, where Hannibal would say "Well, Mary-Anne, your father and brothers may have been murdered and your family business burned down, but we brought their killers to justice so it's all better." And then they'd all have a big laugh and Face would hit on her.

But that's not the end of it.

Green Arrow eventually confronts evil Dr. L in GA #57, and Winick gives Light several pages to expound on the joys of being a rapist. He likens his attack on Kimiyo to rape "only more benefitting than usual." And having painted this character as the most vile abuser, Winick allows him to escape. Evil Dr. Light leaves the story without any kind of censure. Kimiyo gets no justice; her abuser who considers himself her rapist gets to walk free.

And I'd just like to mention that the only other female in the story, Mia, also gets badly wounded by evil Dr. Light and left for dead. Green Arrow is apparently badly injured right at the end of the story (not by EDL), but since he has bounced back by the following issue, it's not really the same. I don't know if Mia has been seen since she got shot and blown up by EDL but there was no mention of her in the two subsequent issues of GA I read.

To say that Kimiyo was badly written in this story is understatement. Her background details are arbitarily changed to fit the story Winick wants to tell, and the only reason she's in it at all seems to be to power up the villain and make him look even nastier than he was already (because being revealed as a rapist in Identity Crisis clearly wasn't enough). Once her purpose is served she is dropped from the story like a used tissue, and the fact that her story gets no resolution just shows how little Winick cares.

Is this the end of the road for Kimiyo Hoshi? With all of her subsequent "flashback" appearances one can hope not. It would be a sad and pathetic way to go out, symbolically raped and left to die, forgotten, while her abuser escapes cheerfully singing a happy little song, our last sight of her the back of her head in a flashback, or her broken body lying on the floor.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed.



Anonymous Staredcraft said...

BEAUTIFUL! ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL! You summed up what i've been TRYING to tell people for AGES! This is EXACTLY why I have a problem with her depowerment EXACTLY! It was wrong on ALL levels! PEople complain it's just because I lost the character, but it's MORE than that...I lost the character in a DISGRACEFUL manner but thank you for finally putting it into the right words!

12:30 am  
Anonymous Flidget Jerome said...

Mia's showed up in Teen Titans hanging out on some mysterious island; supposedly the next GA issue will explain why.

52 week 2, huh? Man, if they had just explained that at the time it would have made . . . slightly more sense.

12:33 am  
Blogger Marionette said...

No it wouldn't. It's obviously a fudge to cover her appearances in Infinite Crisis and afterwards. The "two years since she used her powers" line denies any suggestion that this was intended all along, as does her living in Star City.

1:11 am  
Anonymous Flidget Jerome said...

I meant in the fact that Mia and Ollie were up and running about in IC despite having been badly injured in GA. I don't know anything about Kimiyo Hoshi so I didn't know how well or badly she was being written but the Canary-Arrow family are favorites of mine so I was paying attention to the weirdness concerning them.

2:01 am  
Blogger Marionette said...

Ah, ok. My focus was a bit tight there. Yes, as far as other characters are concerned it has to be after 52 #1 too, since that's where they are last seen. It's only Kimiyo that this schedule doesn't work for.

2:15 am  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

So when they showed her and the Ray both laying the smacketh down on Evil Dr. Light in Infinite Crisis #7, that happened before all this did?

Ugh, I am so expletive deleted confused by DC these days.

On a somewhat positive note, I remember her making a cameo in a Superman comic a few weeks back (the cover depicts Clark kent stopping a train). She and the ray had been called in to try and help kick-start Supes' powers, which suggests she's repowered and back in the superhero biz, at least somewhat.

As for the Green Arrow story, cripes. This is the kind of thing that makes me glad I don't buy Winick's stuff.

2:25 am  
Anonymous JustSomeGuy said...

I found this linked to on the DC forums. Good rant.

Two things though. First, where did the week 2 thing come from? Did I miss an issue?

Also, the Good Doctor wasn't a few blocks away, but rather in Chicago when she was attacked. Doesn't detract at all from your point, though.

3:03 am  
Blogger Marionette said...

Calvinpitt: sorry, that was a flashback. Threw me too, the first time I read it.

The week 2 thing comes from the official 52 website. there's an article buried in there somewhere that dates the explosions in Star City to May 15th. the URL is http://www.dccomics.com/sites/52/?action=headlines&i=5827

How far is Star supposed to be from Chicago? Because if that's where Kimiyo was, GA does a lot of commuting during that story. But you're right, it's still a long way from Tokyo.

On second thought, it makes the whole thing worse than ever. It means that not only was evil Dr. Light looking for GA at the same time as GA was looking for him, but he somehow knew that GA was after him and set a trap for him in a whole other city.

How contrived is that?

I just checked #54 again to see if I missed anything about this (I don't seem to have) and one more thing struck me. Kimiyo doesn't even get to go out in costume.

There's a similar scene in her story in Showcase '96 #8 where her lab is attacked, and even though she is has given up crimefighting she manages to get into costume between panels. Not so here. She's restricted to civilian clothes that are gradually shredded during the course of the fight, just to make sure we see the sexualised element to the violence.

Judd Winick is such a shit.

3:59 am  
Blogger Marionette said...

And one more thing. Winick has her as a high flying executive. People like that do not have time for family. The whole reason she gave up being a superhero was because she wanted to spend more time with her two daughters.

Gah. She has to be a clone. It's the only explanation that begins to cover all the discrepencies.

4:02 am  
Anonymous Herald said...

Wanna know what makes this even worse?? Judd Winick once complained that there aren't enough powerful Asian females in comics! But what does he do once he gets to write a powerful Asian female?? He portrays her as weak and unable to figure out a situation, then DEpowers her!!

Judd Winick is a HYPOCRITE.

Side note # 1: Kimiyo has a son and a daughter, actually.

Side note # 2: Obligatory plug for my Dr. Light fanfic!


4:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calm down, it was an Editorially mandated story. Kimiyo was considered a duplicate. She was depowered, and then later repowered by the end of Infinite Crisis after the universe reset itself.

12:16 pm  
Blogger Marionette said...

Just because it was editorially mandated (if it was. Unless you can cite a quote from someone at DC saying this then it's just your assumption) does not mean that it had to be such a bad story.

And if she had been depowered because she was considered a duplicate, what would be the sense in immediately repowering her?

Your argument is devoid of logic. Also factually defficient.

Please specify where you saw her repowered because unless you've found something I missed then I think a careful reading will reveal that you are citing a flashback (Action #838, 839)or a story that took place before she was depowered (Infinite Crisis, 52 #1, Teen Titans annual).

2:03 pm  
Anonymous DoctorLightFan said...

I can't tell you how much I agree with your post. Kimiyo was a great character who did not deserve being depowered in such a lame and poorly written way.

3:35 pm  
Blogger Sleestak said...

Evil Dr. Light leaves the story without any kind of censure. Kimiyo gets no justice; her abuser who considers himself her rapist gets to walk free.

Kind of like real life sometimes...

4:07 pm  
Blogger Marionette said...

I am sad that for you real life involves unresolved sexual abuse. I am lucky that my real life has escaped it so far. But I still don't want it turning up in the story of every heroine I read.

10:38 pm  
Anonymous Starman Matt Morrison said...

One of the best and most thoughtful critiques of Judd Winick just not doing his homework I have ever read, including the ones I've written. ;)

Seriously. I wish I had gone after this one but after Black Lightning becoming a single father, turning Ollie from a flirt to a cheat and Kyle Rayner suddenly becoming half Hispanic only for that to be ignored...

The honest truth is that I was too tired of shouting about Winick's approach to diversity for diversity's sake and his not complaining about a lack of positive minority characters while ignoring the fact that he had the best new minority character of all the last ten years in Green Arrow and did NOTHING with him except use him as cannon fodder.

Then again, I suspect that due to bad coloring (no pun intended), Judd probably had no idea that Connor Hawke was of mixed Anglo/African/Asian heritage.

Thanks for giving an old war dog hope that he's not howling at the moon on this one...

10:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...somebody actually agrees with me! Great article! To add to the confusion, Kimiyo also appears OYL, using her powers to try and recharge Superman...

11:16 pm  
Anonymous staredcraft said...

Wow...somebody actually agrees with me! Great article! To add to the confusion, Kimiyo also appears OYL, using her powers to try and recharge Superman...

Actually that was a flashback to some time in between IC#7 and 52#1

12:07 am  
Anonymous ManofTheAtom said...

The timeline goes:

Green Arrow #54 through #59

Green Arrow #65 (GREEN ARROW #65

Part 1 of the new story "Away Game" -- a 3-part flashback explaining what happened to Ollie a year ago after he was left for dead with Mia and Connor. After making it to a desert island, the three lick their wounds and plan a return to full power!)

Infinite Crisis #5-#7

52 #1

Green Arrow #60

How Dr Light got her powers back could very well be explained in the flashback, unless it's set after Infinite Crisis #7 and concurrent with 52, in which case the explanation may never come.

3:57 pm  
Blogger Nimbus said...

Regarding the Good Dr Light getting her powers back...

In the Teen Titans story that occurred just after Identity Crisis (IIRC) and before all this stuff, the Evil Dr Light held GA hostage. When the Teen Titans attacked, the Evil Dr Light managed to absorb Superboy's heat vision (I guess because the heat vision is just a form of infra-red light). Thus it was already established that Dr Light could absorb light powers.

Anyway, IIRC Superboy regained his heat vision a little while later - the absorption was just a temporary thing. Perhaps the same is/will be true of the Good Dr Light?

10:28 am  
Blogger Marionette said...

Winick tried hard to suggest that it couldn't be fixed that easily. He has evil Dr. Light take "the Starlight" from her (whatever that is). He has the doctors say that Kimiyo no longer possesses the metagene. He has them say that she is in critical condition and her lungs are failing. And then he has her knocked to the floor and leaves her there.

He tries very hard to suggest that not only has Kimiyo lost any possibility of regaining her powers, but that she is dying.

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No the story does not have her lose the Metagene, she never had had it. Kimiyo's powers came directly from the Monitor they had nothing to do with the metagene.

4:30 pm  
Blogger Marionette said...

The story specifically mentions that she does not have the metagene now.

Green Arrow seems to think she should have it. The whole point of that scene appears to be that rather than just stealing her powers temporarily, as he did with other heroes, Light has completely destroyed hers. It is quite clearly stating no metagene = no powers.

Other people have suggested that the Monitor activated her metagene with the zap he gave her. Unless you can give me a reference for a comic where it specifically states that she doesn't have it then it's just your opinion.

Not that it's hugely relevent either way.

6:20 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

Aren't you forgeting to take into consideration that people may just assume that Kimiyo has the metagene because they don't remember her origin and that she got her powers from the Monitor?

10:18 pm  
Blogger Marionette said...

Okay, I checked. In GA #54 where Green Arrow and Black Lightning enter the hospital and BL says "Dr Hoshi needs specialised treatment for metahumans." to which the doctor replies "We found no sign that she's metahuman."

So in a way you are correct. Nobody says anything about the metagene at all. My mistake. I don't see where this makes the slightest difference to any of my arguments, but you are right. Have a gold star.

12:46 am  
Anonymous Drew said...

Perhaps we can hope that Gail Simone, who came up with Women In Refrigerators and is a vocal opponent of strong female characters being crapped on by comic companies, will save Kimiyo.

Personally, I think Kimiyo should be a member of the Birds Of Prey or The Outsiders. With Winick writing The Outsiders at the moment, I doubt that will happen and don't even hope it will happen. Not while he's writing it.

It's bad enough Cassandra "Batgirl" Cain goes crazy and becomes a villain, but for Kimiyo to have a fate like this happen to her is awful. DC does not like their strong Asian female heroes.

5:35 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good ridance, Kimiyo. Too bad the REAL Dr. Light didn't fuck her in the ass too...

12:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure what is worse: Winnick's treatment of the good Dr. Light (who should have received her own, unique sobriquet and costume), or, over in Outsiders, the fact that he now has Metamorpho not only being able to assume the appearance of others (a la Mystique or J'onn), but has him getting boned by other guys. The comic world will be a much better place when Winnick the hack and his self-serving agendas are out of comics once and for all.

And I so want to buy a new Shazam series; why oh why does he have to be the writer??? Freddy will be humming show tunes in no time, I'm sure...

8:32 pm  
Anonymous sh@z@m said...

While it is true that Arthur Light did not originally have any powers of his own, he was eventually converted into a being of living light, thus internalising his photokinetic abilities. This would probably be the best explanation for his seeming ability to take what would be otherwise fatal injuries and repair them in seconds.

What's more, Kimoyo did tap the power of a star, but it did not remain as her constant power source after that occasion. Her powers are fuelled by any outside source of light (allgedly the sun more often than not) at present.

This raises the interesting question of how she still lost to Arthur Light. Should she not have been able to absorb the photons that he generated to increase her own power? The only explanation that I can think of for this is that the restoration of the criminal Light's memories has allowed him to come up with some way around this.

It bears thinking about.

11:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps we can hope that Gail Simone, who came up with Women In Refrigerators and is a vocal opponent of strong female characters being crapped on by comic companies, will save Kimiyo.

This seems unlikely, since Simone's been at best a cheerleader and at worst an apologist for the kinds of stuff DC's been doing the last few years.

11:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going a bit off topic here - The constant rants about the E-I-C of DC comics are getting a bit annoying.

1:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I talking to myself here? Here's an example of what I'm talking about in my earlier post:
"You can go ahead and delude yourself all you like"
And that was just the beginning of a ten page rant thread.

5:09 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ironic part of Judd Winick's lousy portrayal of an Asian woman is that Judd is married to one! I wonder if she made him sleep on the couch after reading what he had A.Light do to Kimyo....

7:48 am  
Anonymous Metroanime said...

according to something i read on Wikipedia (which therefore may not be true) - the Spectre has dealt with the evil Doctor Light in his usual macabre fashion.

9:46 am  
Anonymous Zefram said...

Reading this makes me take even greater satisfaction watching the ep of the Teen Titans animation where Raven leaves EDL trembling on the ground like a little kid who just got molested by Freddy Kruger. In a later ep he sees her and just surrenders quietly. Could that have been retaliation on the part of the animation staff?

12:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can Marionette contact me via e-mail ASAP?

9:40 am  
Blogger Marionette said...

Sorry Anonymous, but a) I don't check old comment threads much, and b) you don't include an email address or any other identification that would enable me to contact you.

3:15 pm  

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