Written on 8:37 PM by Jack B.
I know this is long after the fact, but I just sat down this week and read (in one sitting) DC’s mega-crossover “Final Crisis”. As long as it was fresh in my mind, I had to write down what I thought (just a reminder to myself perhaps not to buy any more crossovers). I started with a paragraph and pretty much ended with an essay.
As a whole, while Final Crisis did not appeal to me, one thing in it just APPALLED me - the treatment of one the heretofore sweetest, nicest, most innocent characters in all superhero comic history - Mary Marvel. Not since Emerald Twilight (which for all its faults was to build up Kyle more than tear down Hal) has DC been so determined to completely undo a long-standing character’s core persona so drastically and apologetically - for no purpose seemingly than shock value - what’s more “edgy” and “cool” than to corrupt than the purest and most innocent hero in your company’s pantheon? Right?
Then we have Paul Dini (who was the credited head writer on Countdown) saying "A character who stays cute, charismatic and funny isn’t very interesting. So, it’s better to put that character through some tests and see if they come out the way they came in, or if they undergo some changes that ultimately make them a stronger, more interesting character.". WTF? So a cute, funny character isn't interesting? This from the man who brought us the DCAU character of Kara Kent/Supergirl, the animated Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and Harley Quinn? Exactly how did Countdown or FC make her stronger? She came out as de-powered as she went in and is now dealt with differently (based on Zatanna and Supergirl's reaction) by the other characters in the DCU.
I think it's telling that DC never did character destruction this to either of the male Marvels, in fact Freddie had his own mini-series where he did indeed become a "hero" and will be a member of DC's flagship book, JLA. One would think DC wouldn’t do this so soon after the Batgirl backlash where they ruined another character (one who had spent her entire comic series run being horrified of the idea of killing) into a stone cold killer so the male Robin would have an antagonist. The hurried ret-con that she was brainwashed by Deathstroke (and made no sense) was basically DC admitting they screwed up...yet here they do it to another female teenage hero right away? Was there anyone who asked for a darker, edgier Mary Marvel? Anyone? I can't find a single reader who liked the Countdown or Final Crisis Mary Marvel storyline.
Then in FC, she is basically made into an unrecognizable character to make Supergirl look good, and saved by Freddy (who abandoned her in the first place). So now she was back to Mary Batson, but no, in JSA she's back to Black Mary (and yet is still drawn as Darkseid Mary) in a story we know to be set after FC because she mentions her corruption by Darkseid. Then she is saved by the JSA. She basically ends the whole process where she began, accept now she is looked on differently and with suspicion by everybody in the DCU (if present continuity remains intact). This sounds like no version of the "Hero's Journey" (see the writings of Joseph Campbell for details) I've heard of . In the time span Countdown and FC supposedly take place (either days or weeks DCU time) Mary wakes from a coma, is abandoned for no reason by her loved ones, is kicked out by Zatanna when she goes to help, corrupted by Black Adam, by Eclipso, by Darkseid, falls into the ocean, is made a quasi-slave by the Amazons, taken over completely by DeSaad, de-powered, re-powered, de-powered again, beaten up by Donna Troy, Wonder Woman, Black Adam and Supergirl. Mary is corrupted no less than 4 times, if you count her JSA appearance (by Eclipso, Black Adam, Darkseid and Black Adam again) and saved by others, never by herself. There is nothing “heroic” about this story.