Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Never Ending Battle...

    I’ve been a sci-fi/fantasy geek since I was really little and first saw a little indie film called “Star Wars”. For me, Star Wars was always my first love. There was always sci-fi shows–Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, The Black Hole, etc, etc. and then there was Star Wars. It was simply the gold standard in my mind. There was Star Wars and all other things.
    My first exposure to Star Wars was when I was three years old. My parents and I went to the now-defunct Zellers store at Kingsway and I got a C3P0 toy. I also remember seeing lots of promotional material for Star Wars–catalogues, collector cards that came with gum, posters, picture books, records with books, etc. I also remember going to the theater and seeing a trailer for something called The Empire Strikes Back and having my mind blown.
    I’m pretty sure I saw ESB first in the theater and later on, seeing ANH on TV. In those days, VCRs were scant. If you wanted to see a movie again, you had to wait and hope it played on TV or it got re-released in theaters (Back in the day, Star Wars and its sequels got re-released a lot). VCRs were for rich, progressive people (those first units were damn expensive. Also, my parents were cheap and backward when it came to new technological marvels–but that’s a story for another time).
    By the time Return of the Jedi came around, my memory was more developed and I can still remember what an awesome time it was (I was seven, btw). Luke had a cool new green light saber. I also remember all the colors–red guards for the Emperor; green rebel commandoes, the black and grey sterile look of the Death Star II... I recall the looong line outside Londonderry Famous Players theater as my mom and I awaited for the movie. I remember going to West Edmonton Mall and seeing it again later (I used the excuse that my sisters hadn’t seen it yet as justification. That same trip, I bought a copy of one of the issues of the ROTJ mini-series from Marvel Comics and recall seeing another kid and his father as they’d just purchased one of those cool miniature die-cast Star Wars toy sets that existed at the time. They were sitting on a bench fiddling with it as my mom and I furiously tried to find our way back to the theater and the rest of the family in the behemoth mall).
    About a year later, in 1984, Star Wars was over and I discovered something else called Star Trek. I’d always been aware of its existence, of course, but never gotten into it until then. It also blew my mind (what can I say? I was a kid! Everything’s exciting at that age). Of course, Star Wars was still the ultimate gold standard but Star Trek rocked too (and, truth be told, was better constructed overall).
    I was always a toy collector (in the kiddie sense. I’d buy them, open them, play with them, lose parts and/or have toys break or get lost). I collected everything. Star Wars, the scant few Star Trek toys I could ever find. Masters of the Universe. Go-Bots. G.I.JOE. Transformers. Etc, etc.
    This also lead me into comics. I started with scant issues of this or that and eventually went full-on collector with G.I.JOE, Transformers and myriad other comics–Avengers, X-Men, X-Factor, Captain America, Spider-Man...I sampled much of the output of the time and mostly enjoyed it.
    As you grow older, tastes change. So do writers, artists and the like on comics, TV shows, etc. You’re supposed to grow up, discover the opposite sex, get a job, move out and so on. The toys, comics, etc. are supposed to be put behind you as become an adult and become respectable.
    Of course, many of us still love this junk anyway. And that’s okay. There’s no law against it and, really, some of us have the spare time and want to keep up with it. Everyone needs a hobby right?
    Sometimes, though, I wish some of these money making franchises would just end, like chapters in everyone’s lives. Star Wars ended in 1983 with ROTJ. After that, we had the Ewoks and Droids cartoons. Then nothing for about five years....finally, Tim Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy hit stores shelves, followed by eight million books and comics of varying quality. Several new movies and TV shows and way, way more toys. As I write this, Star Wars Rebels is about to debut on TV and Episode 7 is coming out next year...
    Star Trek had a Next Generation then Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise.... TNG movies, a reboot with a new Kirk and crew and a sequel to that... also, a bazillion books and comics too.
    Everything old is new again. Battlestar Galactica came back re-imagined. Transformers and G.I.JOE never really went away... those Marvel and DC comics? Still grinding them out. Some are awesome while many are also terrible
    For me, new Star Trek just isn’t the same as the classic series. It’s still characters with the same names but they just don’t do it for me anymore. I’ve actually reached a point where I’m burned out on Star Wars. I really don’t think I care about the new trilogy... it can’t possibly match people’s expectations any more then the prequel trilogy could (it will likely be better but can anything match the memory of the first trilogy in people’s minds?)
    Marvel and DC have restarted, retconned, killed and resurrected, and everything in-between so much that none of the characters are the ones I grew up with. Fundamentally, they’re the same archetypes, of course, but the history and characters are gone. The people who worked so hard to maintain it are long gone. Retired, fired, dead... in their place are new blood who don’t always understand just what it is they have in their charge.
    So, you say, we should just end it all because one blogger is sick and tired of what’s out there. Abandon years of creativity and scorch the earth? Yes and no.
    I’m not opposed to new concepts, new characters and new stories. Back in the day, that’s what kept my personal odyssey going after all. After Star Wars, I moved onto Star Trek. Later on, Babylon 5... He-Man beget G.I.JOE which beget Transformers and so on. After Marvel/DC, I discovered Darkhorse and Image... The Avengers gave way to Watchmen and Miracleman (which is old but I actually only discovered recently).
    Sometimes, though, I wish we could truly retire some of the tried and tested things. Star Wars only exists now to make money for Disney. They even said they intend to release a new film every year! Paramount keeps churning out Star Trek movie after movie... Marvel’s going full steam on their superhero movies while DC tries to play catch-up. (There’s nothing inherently bad about Marvel’s movies, at the least, but how many super powered escapist films do we need per year before the general public gets burned out?)
    I wish these corporate money machines would risk more on new properties and concepts. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time out but it would be nice to let some stuff die–or at least rest a while (absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all) instead of constantly going back to the well for more. Of course, lately every time Disney does risk money on something we get a flop like John Carter or a project that doesn’t perform as well as expected, like Tron Legacy (okay, that was a sequel but at least it hadn’t been beaten into the ground in the intervening years).
    In the end, though, we’re powerless to stop the cycle. Only when people start voting en masse with their wallets will things truly change. Until then, each and every fan must be choosey about what they love and will accept–and what they will not. If you love a comic/book/show/movie/toy, support it if it’s good (and you want to, of course). But don’t just accept everything with a familiar brand just because... if you do, the people making it will just churn any old crap to satisfy their quota and the whole will suffer. Nobody needs that...


Friday, August 29, 2014

Women Get The Vote!

Recently, IDW Publishing did a mini-series where a female writer (Mairghread Scott) and a female artist (Sarah Stone) produced a comic about the newly created female Transformer character called Windblade.
    The story was highly hyped for the fact it was the first ever TF comic written and drawn by female artists. On a related note, the forthcoming G.I.JOE comic will be written by Karen Traviss and the story will focus on prominently on both the Baroness and Scarlett (conveniently the Joe’s new Commander). I haven’t read the Joe series yet (it’s out next month) but the spin on it also appears to be a female writer prominently spotlighting the female characters, just because, well, they’re the girls!
    I also attended the annual Transformers convention–BotCon--back in June and was surprised to hear a couple of male fans talking about how only recently women seemed to be getting into Transformers in large amounts. I found this comment odd as I’ve been aware of female TF fans since at least as far back as the early nineties.
    I have nothing against women writing or drawing comics, of course, but I am surprised that in the early twenty first century that people are still concerned by who’s writing/drawing what. I grew up in the eighties and was exposed to women comic writers at an early age. The greats like Louise Simonson, Ann Nocenti, Jo Duffy, Wendy Pini, Colleen Doran, etc. More recently, Samm Barnes, Fiona Avery, Gail Simone, Nicola Scott, etc. Women artists may be a minority compared to the men in the field but they certainly are present.
    That’s why IDW’s advertising ploy baffles me so much. A good writer is a good writer. A good artist is a good artist. Who cares what gender they are so long as they give us the goods?
    Similarly, why should a female artist constrain themselves to writing/drawing only their own gender? I understand that a woman is likely writing from her own perspective (just as a man would likewise do) but certainly it helps stretch one’s talents as a writer to try writing characters of the opposite gender. Indeed, none of us are all the characters we write (psychos, evil people, etc.) so it only makes sense to try and get in the head of something we are not and put it down on the page.
    Were IDW so worried no one would care about Windblade if they didn’t have some kind of hook to sell it? It certainly seems so... (although in my case, I still don’t really care. Female TFs go back to the second season of the cartoon in 1985...nothing new to see here. Move along).
    People constantly talk about how sexist comics are toward women–and I agree. There’s far too much pandering to adolescents with skin-tight costumes and women-as-objects rather then someone bothering to portray them as actual, honest-to-goodness characters. But it can be done. Read some of Chuck Dixon’s run on Birds of Prey, for example, or his Batgirl: Year One (which was excellent).

   Women don’t have to be damsels in distress or militant lesbian warriors. There are other options out there if the writer takes their time and the audience is open-minded enough to accept it.
    I guess what I’m saying is this: support good storytelling in comics, regardless of the writer’s gender. If a woman writes/draws it and you like her skills, great. If she doesn’t have a clue, don’t. The same as if it were a man. Ultimately, judging talent, not gender or any other factor, should be the deciding factor in supporting art.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Oh My! The Sulu Conundrum...

    Is Mr. Sulu gay? We all know the actor who played him, George Takei, came out several years ago. Since then he’s championed gay causes and been omnipresent with his “oh my” catchphrase on social media.
    But is the character of Hikaru Sulu also gay? Nothing is ever conclusively stated in-story about Sulu’s sexuality. Star Trek seems to be void of gay people in general. In part, this is a product of its time. People simply didn’t have gay characters in TV shows in the sixties (Takei related an anecdote how he tried to get Gene Roddenberry to put an openly gay character in the show but Roddenberry was reluctant to, citing that he couldn’t go that far and get away with it on network television). Why the 80s The Next Generation and subsequent spin-offs are also devoid of gay characters is less clear since things had changed a lot by then.
    Looking at the story as it played out, we notice Sulu never has a romantic interest in the story. Not ever. (The mirror universe Sulu does seem to express an attraction to Uhura but since he’s from a parallel universe it’s possible he is straight. This doesn’t really answer the question of whether or not main universe Sulu is gay though). Every other character gets a romantic interest to some degree–Scotty dates a dancer in one episode (Wolf in the Fold); Chekov has a lost love (The Way To Eden); McCoy marries an alien priestess in another (For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky); Uhura has a thing for Scotty (Star Trek 5. Admittedly, a stupid movie but...)
    The only time we get any sense of a family for Sulu is in Generations when we meet his daughter (Demora Sulu) at the helm. Even there, though, we’ve previously never heard any hint of Sulu having a family and this comes out of the blue. (Several books expound upon her back story, notably The Captain’s Daugher by Peter David. The books however are not canon).
    The truth of the matter is Hikaru Sulu was a named background character in the original show and he was kept around throughout the movie era, being given further drips of character here and there. There was never much attempt to develop his character, any more then Chekov, Scotty or Uhura got much in-depth characterization. They always had to play second fiddle to the series leads, Kirk, Spock and McCoy. The movies were worse in some respects–two hours to tell a Kirk-centric story. While fans were salivating for more of Sulu et al. we got some scraps thrown at us–Sulu gets a promotion and his own ship, etc. But there simply wasn’t the time or ability to focus much on Sulu, Chekov and Uhura.
    There’s no concrete evidence Sulu is gay. But there’s also no evidence contradicting the idea either. Sulu never seemed to marry or even express any interest in women in the filmed canonical stories. His daughter exists in Generations but her existence comes from out of nowhere. It seems likely the initial script called for Sulu himself to be at the helm but they couldn’t get Takei to sign on and decided to amend the story to include his “daughter” instead. (Ronald D. Moore co-wrote the script and has stated the film was rushed and not his best work). In my opinion, Generations is a story best forgotten–particularly the parts concerning the original crew (ironically, the story doesn’t really work without Kirk...)
    There is the one instance in The Motion Picture where Sulu is flustered when showing Ilia the controls at the Navigation console (I can’t remember if that scene is in the final cut or not. That movie’s been re-edited so damn many times it’s gotten confusing). It could be he’s excited by the thought of an alien woman who’s culture is sex based–because he’s straight and into her. Or it could be that he’s gay and simply unable to comprehend the sheer alien-ness of her cultural heritage (okay, this is a bit of a stretch on my part). But it’s possible. After all, humans are simply more private about such things and the Deltans are very much open about their sexuality.
    Perhaps Hikaru Sulu was gay all along and we just never realized it... if that’s true then Star Trek was even more revolutionary then we ever realized.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Real American Hero

    In 2013, after a year of delays to reshoot and add in 3D effects, the sequel to 2009's G.I.JOE: The Rise of Cobra was finally released. It was entitled G.I.JOE: Retaliation.
    It was originally slated for a June 2012 release but pushed back into the following spring instead. The rumor at the time was that some of the film executives had seen the finished product and decided it needed a bit of fixing and also that since 3D was such a big deal now, it could use with that addition as well. (The delay came after the initial trailers had already been put out to theaters and the toys were well into production by Hasbro, the company that owns the property. After the delay, several stores put the toys out anyway since they had the stock in-hand).
    The post production 3D conversion rumor appears to have been a fact while the re-shoot rumors may or may not be true (I’ve never actually seen anyone connected with the film confirm they really happened. All I saw was fan sites stating it like a fact). Regardless, the film was delayed by nine months.
    The film is an interesting project all on its own. Numerous articles cite the film’s director, Jon M. Chu, as stating that he wanted it to be a stand-alone film and/or soft reboot. Several fans disliked the first movie since it deviated some from the established concept, making the Joes an international force and having more James Bond like elements rather then militaristic ones.
    When watching the film, it’s clear the film is a sequel to The Rise of Cobra. Cobra Commander and Destro are prisoners of the Joes; Storm Shadow returns from the dead; Zartan is still impersonating the President... Duke is the same actor; Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow’s back history employs much of the same footage from ROC.
    And yet it clearly isn’t.
    Now, the Joes are an American Special Forces unit. Only “One man can give that order” (to kill the Joes), which is in reference to the U.S. President. Cobra Commander has an established hierarchy in place for Cobra when he returns from imprisonment (Firefly tells him, “Welcome back, Commander”, implying that he was already waiting not just hired new). Also, Zartan lead Storm Shadow down the path of servitude to Cobra when he was young (which would be odd if Cobra didn’t even exist yet).
    The film is full of contradictions. Much of the second film is thematically more in-tune with what Joe fans want to see (Cobra Commander looks right; Storm Shadow changes sides; both sides have cool futuristic tanks; Firefly has a similar costume to his 80s incarnation; Zartan’s powers work more like the ARAH comic, etc.) But in many places the story decisions imply it should be a reboot while others imply it is a sequel.
    It seems likely Chu went into the project with a clear vision to make a reboot film, ignoring the first one completely as he’d stated in earlier interviews. But then somebody, most likely Hasbro, decided to the two films had to connect for continuity (for obvious marketing reasons). Perhaps they reasoned viewers would be confused how and if the films related. Recall the two Ghost Rider movies–both star Nicholas Cage as the titular character but are intended to be separate films. Also, the Ang Lee Hulk film and Louis Letierre’s The Incredible Hulk were originally intended to be a series but the latter film was made into a reboot instead.
    I can understand their logic here and agree with the decision. To write-off the first movie is silly. No, not everyone liked it (judging by the fanboy vitriol online) but I don’t think it was that bad of a film actually (different then what was expected, yes, but not necessary bad per se). To throw away the first film makes it worthless in a sense and for the casual viewer (i.e. most people) it would be confusing. What if Paramount chose to the bundle two films together later? What if Hasbro wanted to re-use some of the first film’s toys? Also, it was only a few years in-between the two films (contrast this with Superman Returns–a film that came out nearly twenty years after Superman IV. Now there’s a film that never should’ve tried to connect with its predecessors and needed to be standalone).
    In-story, it’s hard to rationalize the contradictions. I suppose Zartan could’ve been in a position to poison Storm Shadow’s perspective and did so with the idea of using him in the future–which he did when Cobra was eventually formed. Perhaps the U.S. conceived of the idea of the Joe team and after the ROC debacle, downsized it back to a U.S.-only operation. Or perhaps there are other Joe style teams in other parts of the world? This would account for why we never got a clear explanation where most of the first movie’s cast was. Maybe the Cobra organization was fully formed before Cobra Commander went to prison and Destro was duped into believing it was all his plan all along? Maybe they needed his monetary and/or technical resources long enough to subvert them for Rex’s personal army (aka Cobra).
    In the end, I like both of the films for different reasons. Both are at least decent films about our favorite soldier heroes. Retaliation has more familiar RAH elements but I think ROC might have a slightly stronger story overall (that is, a better thought out or composed plot while Retaliation felt a bit weak in places).
    Chu is coming back for the third outing apparently. Truth be told, I’d rather have a new director come onboard and see what new take they bring to it all. Keep it different from film to film and allow those differences to add some new flavor to each story.


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Setting the Course...

    Every story starts with the kernel of the idea. From the kernel comes the firm idea, then an outline then a rough draft and so on.
    In the realm of television, the rough draft is often manifest in the form of the Pilot episode. Sometimes the story materializes fully in its final form. Other times, it has elements that are later smoothed out–a different actor or a concept missing (or conversely, a concept or extraneous character removed).
    Pilots are designed to show television executives at the various networks what the show will be. Psychic detective solves crimes? Check. Space western? Check. Promiscuous bachelor gets into wacky hijinks with his inept brother? Check. But often times what the executives see in the beginning is not what we end up with. Sometimes this is a good thing. Other times, not so much.            
    When I think back on the nineties, two shows spring to mind immediately:
    Sliders, a show about a guy who develops a device that can travel between alternate universes. Together with his Professor, a girl he likes and a washed up lounge singer, he travels from world to world, each one variations on the world he knows. The show went several seasons, each worse then the last before finally being canceled.
    The pilot is noticeably better then the rest of the series. The concept is intriguing; the budget seems slightly higher then the rest of the show (it was always somewhat-low budget but the pilot was better looking. Let us not mention the Sci-Fi Channel episodes later on, which seemed awful looking even up against the earlier FOX episodes).
    Sadly the show never quite lived up to the potential of the pilot. The show had some good episodes, granted, but the budget hampered a lot of what could’ve been accomplished (or at least that’s what I view as the problem. Too many episodes happen in the exact same locale, involving many of the same background characters).
    Another story with an excellent pilot was Roswell. The pilot was about a teenaged girl finding the boy of her dreams. The only problem? He was a super powered alien.
    In the case of Roswell, I think the producers didn’t really know where to go with it. The first season was about the three alien characters (Max, Isabelle, Michael) finding their way in human society and evading secret government forces out to capture them. Season two was more contrived–an alien princess (Tess) came to retrieve the main alien character, Max; used her mind-manipulating powers to kill their friend Alex off and tricked Max into loving her. Season three went off in yet another direction so stupid I had trouble remembering it (I looked it up on Wikipedia finally). If the show had stayed a bit more grounded, focused on Max and Liz’s relationship more and gone less dumb-soap-opera it might’ve remained around longer then it did.
    Another, more recent example is the Knight Rider reboot. The pilot was decent (not fantastic but certainly serviceable) and a good set-up but the series producers (who were different then the movie pilot’s ones) apparently didn’t know how to take the idea seriously and made it goofy, focusing on girls in bikinis, bad storytelling and absurdity such as a car that can transform into a truck–while somebody is driving it no less. By the time they tried to fix what was wrong it was far too later. Viewers had long since tuned out. The original show had been cheesy too–but it was sincere 80s cheese, not intentionally stupid but more a product of its time.

    Even more recently, Almost Human and Intelligence had excellent pilots. Almost Human was starting to really bore me for a while there but later in the first season got more interesting again by picking up on lingering story threads (it’s still a bit too early to tell but it might have avoided the trap).
    Intelligence set up a great idea for a running storyline in the first episode–only to resolve  in the second one! Despite this, it’s had some interesting stories come along so it too might have avoided the trap. Or it might devolve eventually into monotony. Time will tell. 
    It’s hard to say why one show debuts and survives while another goes off the rails. Generally, a lack of direction can take it off course. The producers of the show having no idea where they really want to go with it after birthing it–or just plain having nothing to say after bothering to grab our attention in the first place. Sometimes production issues can affect it too–I am certain Sliders low budget caused it to fail to live up to its true potential.
    It’s great when a story debuts strong and only gets better from there. But oft times, a concept starts strong, giving it a hundred and ten percent right out of the gate only to sputter out not long thereafter. But I guess they can’t all be successful all the time, right?
    Such is life...


Monday, January 13, 2014

Steel and Sugar

            There are three characters in DC Comics who are considered the seminal ones over all others. One is Superman, one is Batman and the other, Wonder Woman. Together, they are often referred to as “The Trinity”. Batman is hands down the most popular of the trio. Superman is a close second and then Wonder Woman is somewhere in third place.
            Of course taking these three characters above all the others in the DCU and casting off the rest is an insult to gems such as Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, Hawkman and so on. While some are difficult to keep up a regular series (Hawkman comes to mind) it implies an undeserved second tier status.
            Batman’s popularity is obvious. He’s just a man with a burning vendetta–he seeks justice above else and will do anything to see it done. Superman is a being of great powers who dedicates himself to protect the lesser human among whom he dwells. He is a source of inspiration by his very existence, a reminder mankind can rise to bigger and better things.
            And then there’s Wonder Woman.
            What exactly the most popular female character at DC stands for exactly has always been a subject of debate. The great champion of the Amazons from the isle of Themyscira, the answer should be obvious. Princess Diana is a role model to women everywhere, a character who demonstrates aptly that a woman can stand to any challenge a man can and meet it head on.
            Yet, the creator of Wonder Woman (William Moulton Marston) often depicted the character in those early years, subdued by her own Lasso of Truth, strapped helplessly to a phallic image, such as a surging missile as it rocketed through the skies. Early Justice Society stories also portrayed her in the role of the Society’s secretary. But that was then, right?
            Wonder Woman enjoyed a run of popularity in the 1970s as her TV show aired and brought her national attention. Even though the show only lasted two seasons, feminists immediately embraced the character as an icon of strength and female independence.
            Wonder Woman has been portrayed as a strong woman, with great strength, ferocity, beauty, grace and compassion. But she’s also been contradictorily made into everybody’s girlfriend at the same time. The Justice League cartoons had her with an interest in Batman and stories such as Kingdom Come and the more recent New 52 stories have had her as Superman’s lover.
            Batman is Batman, first and foremost. He’s not defined by his relationship to Catwoman, Talia Al’Ghul or whoever. He is Batman. And sometimes he has a love interest. Contrast this against Wonder Woman, who has to be Superman’s girlfriend first and a character second. This is not to say she can’t have a love interest but why must it seem to be such an integral point to making her character interesting to modern readers? There’s now a Superman/Wonder Woman comic series–but no one make such accommodations for Batman/Catwoman, for example. Why was Wonder Woman okay as a character on her own when George Perez reinvented her in the 80s or John Byrne wrote her comic later--but not now?
            Sadly, the answer would seem obvious. The current crop of comic writers is bereft of good ideas. Someone doubtlessly put as much thought into the matter as “hey! Superman’s really strong and Wonder Woman’s really strong too. We should make them boyfriend/girlfriend! That would be so cool!”
            Female characters can be interesting on their own without being someone’s damsel in distress or an accessory for accessory’s sake. Look at Batgirl (any iteration), the Huntress, Ms. Marvel, Spider Woman, She Hulk... it’s all in the writing. Someone with half a brain and a granule of talent is able to carve personality and drama out of a female character. It’s the lazy hacks with very little understanding of what makes a character interesting who manage to fail time and again, resorting to making the girl a trophy for the boy character. It’s the same mentality that automatically equates “gritty” with “dramatic”.
            Given the large number of female comic readers and geeks out there one would assume the comic companies would try a bit harder to pander to them, making consistently interesting female characters, regardless of the characters various slant on the world (villain, hero, saint, sinner, etc).
            Let’s be honest too–a strong, intelligent female character is just as appealing to a male reader as to a female one. It’s their journey ultimately not their gender that is interesting. (Likewise, if the female character is weak willed and vacuous they can still be made interesting–in the right hands).
            It seems DC Editorial should take a good long hard look at itself and realize the terrible mistake it’s making by allowing Wonder Woman to be shuffled off to be somebody’s girlfriend instead of allowing her to stand on her own. It seems like they don’t understand what to do with her when given her popularity, she should be a marquee character with several books out–like Batman and Superman. Also, get a movie or TV script that works and get it out there! Why waste such a great marketing opportunity for the character.
            After all, if DC won’t take the character seriously why should anyone else?