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July 01, 2006

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J

Well, Jim Shooter was 16 or 17 years old when he wrote that story. How enlightened a seventeen-year-old were you back in 1968? Or, for that matter, how good a writer?

jholbo

Hmmm, good point. I didn't realize he was so young at the time.

Benjamin Nelson

Pahahaha. That's gold.

Oh, well. At least they had the decency to hide their... ah, unique perspectives... behind popular superheroes, back then. ...pah.

NelC

Surely that should be Bitch Lass, PhD?

Grumpy

In Adventure Comics #319 (mid-1960s), when Saturn Girl is chosen by random chance to join a "suicide squad," Brainiac 5 objects to having her on the mission: "It's too dangerous for a girl. I must eliminate you, Saturn Girl."

Saturn Girl insists, and does indeed go on the mission -- because, after all, she was the leader of the Legion at the time! (In the end, the suicide mission is saved by none other than Night Girl of the Subs; One of the villains exclaims, "It's a girl, with mighty power!")

A couple issues later, Saturn Girl is deemed to be the cleverest Legionnaire, and thus re-elected as leader. So some mixed messages there.

Ginger Yellow

"When things are this badly written - by Jim Shooter - what do you think is actually going on with the writer?"

Ask Chris Muir, because I sure don't know what he's on about.

Ignotus

Also on the subject of the Legion and feminism is this awesome article by Chris Sims making fun of a storyline involving another girl legionnaire revolt and the Amazon Queen of Planet Femnaz(!).

http://www.prismcomics.org/display.php?id=1229

pbg

I know far more about Jim Shooter's psychopathologies than I want to--or can honestly reveal in a comment, having worked under him at Marvel for his entire tenure as ed in chief at aMarvel. (I was one of his first 'discoveries.') I'll just point to two things: in Secret Wars II, his character, the Beyonder, deals with a high-priced hooker to whom Shooter gave the real name of a Marvel staffer without her permission.
And the last I heard, he has never seen his son, having deserted his wife upon finding out she was pregnant.

He was a seriously disturbed individual, and didn't get any better from his Legion days.

Timothy Francis Sullivan

One can see in Shooter's storytelling a sort of throbbing conflict between a recognition of the barefaced wrongness of a "patriarchal background" and an instinctive allegiance to his gender and the status quo. Why would the dude feel the need to write this story, but to explain why something that seems wrong (the oppression of women) isn't actually wrong. This seems especially obvious in that the straw man of matriarchal tyranny the alien ambassador wants to implement on earth could be seen as a point-for-point representation/critique of the existing order, with only the window dressing changed.

This kind of hysterical two-mindedness is everywhere in 50s and 60s era culture: stories that end with the characters arriving at a "final" perspective that is stylistically represented in the hues and rhythms of moral approval, of virtue and relief, when the articulated perspective is entirely perverse (note the absence of sympathy for the alien who's been coerced on the threat of death by an authority that no longer exists) and self-contradictory. It looks to me ike the wish fulfillment of a child (or a child's consciousness) who desperately wants to be good, or thought of as good, but without actually recognizing its own emotional attachment to and political complicity in the existence of non-goodness. It seems like the whole culture was sixteen or seventeen.

I guess this is all obvious. Or something.

jholbo

Hey, this is getting interesting. Thanks for comments. Thanks for your personal perspective, pbg.

It's terribly funny that Chris Sims already did this because I actually sat down and thought - OK, time to make some comics jokes that I didn't just steal from the ISB. Oh, well.

Glenn Ingersoll

I remember becoming familiar with Jim Shooter when he took over as Marvel's Editor-in-Chief in the early 80s. He introduced a series-spanning event, called Secret Wars in which all the major Marvel superheroes (& villains) were whisked off to a planet on the other side of the universe where they were pitted against each other. Being big on several Marvel series at the time I had to buy it. Shooter took on the writing chores for the Secret Wars series himself. And, dang, was that badly written. I sure felt burned. Does being feministically clueless ordain bad writing? Well, it don't help. Being clueless just don't help.

Tlaloc

um...1968? Doesn't that go a long ways toward explaining things? Yes, forty years ago people were- frequently- overtly sexist.

Doctor Memory

It's worth emphasizing the point that in addition to apparently being repulsive personally, Shooter was a thoroughgoing hack professionally. "Secret Wars" was pretty much everything that was terrible about the comics industry in the 1980s rolled into one ugly little morsel: it wasn't just that it was terribly written, and that it was a transparent ploy to wring more money out of their pre-adolescent fanbase, but the whole concept was shamelessly ripped off from DC's "Crisis on Infinite Earths", which could at least claim to be an original transparent money-grub.

You can draw a nicely straight line from Shooter's tenure as EiC at Marvel to the inanity of Image Comics and the entire industry's subsequent implosion.

bryan

"He was a seriously disturbed individual, and didn't get any better from his Legion days."

With great genius comes great instability of the mind.

I just had to write that.

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