Here’s Part 2.
1) The Cat/Tigra (Brad’s Note: Yes, again.)
We can all agree that any time you create a character to be an
anti-stereotype, you’ve created a stereotype. At best, this results
in something like the whitebread Fantastic Four, who were riffs on the
standard 1950’s sci-fi heroes. At worst, you have Tyroc from LSH.
In between was Greer Nelson, whose origin checked off all the boxes.
Uneducated widow of a cop killed in the line of duty, she discovered
an old friend was working on a super-soldier program geared at women.
Then of course a rotten evil person (a man, to be specific) destroyed
the lab and threw the old friend into a coma, so only Greer had the
benefit of the treatment and the equipment. Her empowering uniform
was a tight bodysuit, of course.
After she wandered through several issues of her own series and one
issue of Marvel Team-Up (introducing the villain Man-Killer), she
detoured past limbo and into a Giant-Size Werewolf by Night. (As
opposed the G-S Man-Thing…yes, yes….) It turned out that her
mentor had actually been a member of a lost race of catlike humanoids.
A botched rescue later, and Greer was transformed into the even more
empowered Tigra, whose costume consisted of catlike fur tastefully
accessorized by a bikini. At least her first appearance as Tigra had
the asset of making her look a bit eerie in her new incarnation, but
she was quickly turned more visually conventional in her later
appearances. Transition into a goofball furball would wait for her
ascension into the Avengers.
(2) Power Girl
You can’t really fume at the character called “Boobs McGeneric” until
you think about how she first appeared, in the 1970′ All-Star revival.
Then, instead of being a jock, she was more of an Emma Peel type —
self-possessed, and acting as if she was already a consummate pro and
expected to be treated as such. She could be chilly, snippy, uppity,
and a pill, but she had a distinctive personality. OK, that ain’t
saying much, given that the cookie-cutter good guys of the JSA were
leavened out by spooky Dr. Fate, lowbrow Wildcat, and rambunctious
Star-Spangled Kid. I don’t know why they changed her — maybe it was
the introduction of Helena Wayne’s Huntress, and someone said “two
cool, self-possessed women is a bit much, don’t you think?” Feh.
(3) Ms. Marvel.
Talk about too many remakes. First, she was just Carol Danvers,
generic female support. Then she became a heroine when an exploding
Kree gadget grafted a second personality, complete with powers, onto
her. Then it turned out that she never had a new personality, just a
transitory mental breakdown. At some point during all this, her
beach-bunny bare midriff/bareback costume got filled in for no
in-story reason. The new black costume was OK — being friends with
the Wasp can justify any costume change on the part of a character —
but after weeks of “who is this?” teasers in the Bullpen Bulletins
page, the reveal was given away in the Marvel Team-Up where Spider-Man
teamed up with the original SNL cast. I am going to politely
side-step the mother-of-her-own-lover foolishness as there are other
people who are lined up to rant about it. However, after being
powered-up as Binary, then powered down as Warbird, she developed a
drinking problem. And this paragon of mental health is tied with
She-Hulk for most prominent Marvel female.
(Note: I am not going to pick on She-Hulk. That character has often
been done well. The one-shot where she teamed up with the Thing vs.
Dragon Man. mad scientists and vampires comes to mind.)
Three things distinguished her visually from Vampirella — a green
costume, a bald head, and a cape. Her origin had the stuff that more
lasting characters had been made from, though: her parents killed
casually by evil aliens, she was raised by good aliens and taught
their mental and physical skills. However, her personality had only
one setting — snotty. For reasons unexplained, she developed a
severe crush on Daredevil (probably because she first appeared in his
comic) but after staying long enough to help decorate an Xmas tree
with telekinesis, she disappeared. Joined the Avengers around the
same time the Beast did, and spent most of her time trying to romance
Thor. Later, she became a complete rotter and telepathically seduced
Thor, overthrew a planet, and killed her reincarnated father. When
last seen, she’d reformed, become a literal dragon, and died a few
issues after that. It may very well be that the most lasting
character to come out of Jim Starlin’s Thanos epic was, in fact,
(5) Lana Lang
Pre-Crisis, she was a great foil for Superboy. Bright, vivacious,
competent, curious and full of herself, she could enrich and
complicate any situation. When she finally got her own costumed
identity (Insect Queen), she was LSH-class and they inducted her with
less guff than they gave Superboy.
And then, she grew up. As an adult, she was a jackass on a par with
pre-Crisis Steve Lombard and “Lois and Clark” Cat Grant (though not as
sexuaized). When she wasn’t aping Lois’s antics, she was so
egomaniacal and insensitive that even pre-Crisis Superman told her
Post-Crisis, she became a farm girl and stayed down home on the farm.
Except after she divorced Pete Ross she went through a makeover and is
now completely polished and generic.
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