Posts Tagged ‘DC Comics’


Related imageThe Heroes in Crisis mini series has been excellent. Well paced with the super hero action, and the crime mystery noir feel of mystery to it. Who invaded Sanctuary? Who did the spree killing? Who removed the safe space for heroes to heal? These are the underlying questions.

But then the questions erupt even more as the mysterious Puddler has leaked the story to the media of Sanctuary. Lois Lane can only sit on the story for so long, and as issue 4 came to a close, it was revealed the story was going out.

This is the opening to issue 5. As Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, partnered with Blue Beetle and Bat-girl respectively seek out answers. Flash and Batman deep dive into this weird mystery.

Superman and Wonder Woman address the press. It is a timely tale within the week of Belle’s Let’s Talk, a social media initiative to remove stigma of mental health. It reveals that there is much more needed than simply social media awareness raising. It is a concerted effort by governments around the world to appropriately fund mental health care equally, and as part of universal health care. It is understanding what is happening, that it is shifting how one experiences the world. It takes courage to live differently, but it also takes courage to understand when one needs help, to seek that help out and to heal.

This is what Superman addresses to the world. The fear that they human citizens are feeling knowing that metas are struggling with trauma, and PTSD. The thoughts of someone that can level cities now being afflicted with what has been mistaken for violence trigger. It is a key piece of Superman’s press conference, and something everyone needs to understand with any first respondents, front line workers:

“The nightmares, the nightmares they will forever endure. Yes Sanctuary exists. It exists to help these heroes recover from this pain, to help them recognize themselves under these scars, to help them wake from these nightmares. But its existence, it should not scare you. On the contrary it should comfort you. This suffering, is needed for healing. It is not the mark of a madman. It is the wound of a warrior. It’s a sign. A sign of their love…”

-Superman, Heroes in Crisis #5

Will you live in fear of the unknown, or know that by someone opening up they will discover whey they are under the scars, and discover love of life once more.

 

Advertisements

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Internalized trauma. We know it is a reality in soldiers, abuse survivors, first responders. Now King and Mann bring this reality to the world of super-heroes. Some will toss it aside as yet another hero deconstructed story. There is more to it than that however. For it is also about the hero as person. Understanding that their decisions, lives and experiences craft who they are.

Welcome to Sanctuary. A specialty location built by the Trinity (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) for the utmost privacy in debriefing, and healing. It is  a place with a computer therapist that allows for complete autonomy. Supposedly no recordings, it is there for health. We are 2/9 issues in and so far it is a strong character driven story.

It is also a super hero story. As Sanctuary is not safe, someone has attacked and murdered those who sought healing. There are two suspects who survived of those that were supposed to be there. Was it an outside attack? Did the missing survivors have a psychotic break and kill?

Within those that are now dead, there are chilling full page confessionals sharing the effects of the life. These that show how out of control Blue Jay’s shrinking powers have become during his flashbacks. Truly showing how internalized trauma affects the whole self, whether it is convulsions, sweats, hypertension…the list can go on as no one patient is identical, same with the stories of the heroes seeking aid. Coming to the place that is supposed to be safe to decompress.

The heroes lay themselves bare.

Then the idea of stigma is so well handled. As even the big 3, the Trinity, use Sanctuary. Guard down, masks off. Who is the ones that use it for help? Who are the ones that continue to squash and avoid emotion? The answer may surprise you as tears flow.

Then the hack and the revelation that someone has the stories. The double standard is shown as the first story leaked is Arsenal (formerly Speedy), a recovering addict. The shock and dismay of the public on the hero laid bare.

Stigma.

Why someone would not seek help for trauma?

Laid out well in the shock of the public that a hero would have demons to battle. Even as walls come down around mental health support, old stigmas, internalized dialogues still persist.

The greatest fear of seeking help:

What if someone finds out?

What will the world think?

Will my loved ones see me as weak?

What will I lose by diagnosis?

 


Image result for DC Comics Heroes in CrisisYesterday it finally arrived, Tom King and Clay Mann’s first issue of DC Comics’ next big event- Heroes in Crisis. Yes, another crisis arrives at the DC Universe (a title tagged onto big events since the end of the original multi-verse in the 80’s Crisis on Infinite Earths). This crisis brings the real to our fictional heroes, and perhaps demystifies and removes stigma– for it is set in a place called Sanctuary Trauma Centre.

You read that right. A place for Super Heroes to go to deal with the mental chakra sludge of life. I also hear there is a murder mystery (as you can see, I have yet to pick up, but it is on the read list).

It hits home, as readers know my Bionic Knight Pulps have been taking the Great Crime Fighters through a similar loop  as complex post traumatic stress disorder set in on the big three remaining in that universe. That being Rick Saturn, The Original Bionic Knight; William “Shotgun” MacKay; and Supra Agent Louis Regis. Three characters that have been travelling within my stories from the perspective of Rick for 33 years; Shotgun about 30 years and Regis, 14 years. Many adventures, many times when the old model of they are heroes doing heroic things, so it does not wear one down. Much like our world still looks at many, including charity workers who have rising rates of C-PTSD yet help falls through the cracks because the industry and individuals have a troubling time wrestling with it, but also when help is sought it is wait listed. This is due to the repercussions of Klein’s Third Way of health care having gutted what should have been on track by this point to be where European health care is, that being holistic and multi-pronged at once, not triage one symptom while forgetting or putting off the others.

In the Alberta system some choices can be removed due to heavy stigma, waitlists, or simply being constantly bombarded by the unhealthy Americanization of our heart-thought patterns to simply “buck up” or “white knuckle through” for it is all simply in your head.

That is what led to (spoilers ahead) the three outcomes for our long term heroes. One with their family vanishes without a trace and no one knows what happens. Another’s tipping point in the loss of his son, and saving the world one last time to protect the future pushing him beyond what the Working Mind Workplace Mental Health training would term “the red zone” (great system for usual office work)…and taking of his own life…and another simply resigns and walks away.

Neither outcome really looks like healing yet they are the choices made constantly in the vacuum.

Perhaps, our world will find compassion, and look to those who are in need and realize that when we debate costs it may look like a drain on the system. Yet that “drain” or rather INVESTMENT in our neighbour, grows a healthier Post Traumatic world.

Stories like Heroes in Crisis matter for it challenges the existing paradigm.

Perhaps challenging will cause fracturing.

Fracturing breaking.

From those pieces, a new reality of healing and belonging.

What do you think?


Dr. William Moulton Marston (pseudonym for comics Charles Moulton). The unpatented creator of the lie detector test. Theorist of DISC. One of 2 Professor Marston’s at Harvard, the second his wife Elizabeth, whom the patriarchal system of the time refused to credential… and the other Mrs. Marston, Olive (daughter and niece of two matriarchs of the radical feminist movement, raised by nuns).

William, also after losing his teaching gig due to the polyamourous relationship with Elizabeth and Olive, seeks out work that can use his skills, Wonder Woman, is his love letter of discovery. It is based on the women in his life, their journey, and also challenging societies patriarchal constructs. The message of independent power of the feminine bound by the patriarchal society. Targeted by the decency league (as were all comics during this era) for what the fundamentalist Roman Catholics stated were unnatural themes.

But what does this all have to do. Ancient history. What does a psychologist turned comic book writer, former OSS agent, and his two women (and their children) have to teach us at all in our 21st century world? As any good psychologist worth their salt they pushed the boundaries of their times for how to grow the inclusion/belonging base. Perhaps they will realize where ever they are, that we are getting closer.

The movie is Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Trailer here).

I am sure the movie will raise many discussion points  Here are some key questions for you to ponder, and discuss:

  1. What is love?
  2. What is a normal relationship for consenting adults?
  3. Can you love (Eros love) more than one person at once?
  4. If you were to leave one lasting legacy to tell your core values to the world, what form would it take? What would be that legacy?

The CW tends to start super hero shows out well, the new Black Lightning series is no different. Two episodes in and Jefferson Pierce’s life is being laid out. The lead is much older than most, if not all, of the CW heroes brought to the small screen. In comics, he first launched as a black-ploitation hero; then was a member of Batman’s team the Outsiders; onto the Justice League (before that, many forget the President Lex Luthor time when he was in Luthor’s cabinet as Secretary of Education). Milestone Comics Static (Shock) was a very visible nod to the hero as it was a teenager taking up the power.

Jefferson Pierce is a principal (in original comics a teacher) using the investment in education to hopefully lay new paths away from the 100-gang life for his community. Within Pierce’s body courses the power of the lightning, but he has chosen a path to make a difference when offered a choice by his wife Lyn. A choice he has stayed the path on while the darkness overtakes his city without his alter-ego out being the light. Hoping to save his marriage—yet still separated. Not re-dawning the costume until his daughters are taken into sex trafficking to rescue them—at Lyn’s insistence.

Which brings us to the question of addiction Lyn raises in Season One, Episode 2: Lwanda: Book of Hope. She states that he can’t go back for he was addicted to the power. Even with his community calling upon him out of the shadows as a rallying cry to freedom.

The statement on addiction made me think of 3 other stories that dealt with addiction in superheroes:

  • Roy Harper (Speedy, the Green Arrow’s Sidekick) during the awesome ripped from the headlines style run of Green Lantern-Green Arrow it is a 2-parter that reveals Roy’s heroin addiction. It delves into the orphan now abandoned by his adoptive father. The story was prophetic for its time in that it spoke to the lack of belonging that fed into addiction. The lack of belonging, and feeling no control leading to the one thing that can be controlled. It is through belonging he finds a path out of the darkness. A risk taken.
  • Hourman (Rex Tyler). This may be a long shot for anyone to remember, but Hourman was a golden age super hero, Member of the Justice Society, All-Star Squadron. His son took up the mantle later on. Why Hourman? Simple, he took a pill that for one hour gave him super powers. Miraclo. This was the story of a heroic man, who succumbed to the habit of popping the pill to transform his life from what he saw as the mundane to the heroic. The adrenaline rush not only of doing good, but literally of the magic pill serum coursing through his body. Never believing he could be a hero without the drug, never believing his life had meaning without. Pushing away his life for everything but Miraclo and the adventures that came.
  • The final one, is from Captain America in the early 1990’s I remember buying them from our local Ma’s & Pa’s convenience store every two weeks when each part of the 6 parter came out “Streets of Poison”. It is the basic war on drugs story from the streets. Yet Cap (Steve Rogers) shows great insight that his powers are a result of drugs. Cap had the super soldier serum drained from him, and continued being a hero. He may not have been as “super” as before, but he was still a well trained, hero hearted person driven to make a difference. Shining through that heroes will even strive to be heroes with or without the power source.

Which brings us back to the episode of Black Lightning and Lyn’s assertion the Pierce has an addiction to the life. Yes there is an adrenaline rush when it comes to combat, same as what comes with doing good works. Yet if it was the addiction he would not have been able to walk away so easily, and stay away from it. Perhaps as my wife pointed out in talking about it, this is a case of projection in that Lyn was addicted to being the girlfriend/wife of the super hero but disenfranchised by not being able to scream it from the rooftops, so she finds a new addiction—the ability to control someone.

The story could take other twists, that is the fun of the many forms the heroic meta-narratives can take. It is also part of the fun to watch these shows with friends and discuss what ifs, what you think, what may be a deeper underlying message.

For me, up to the end of episode 2 the Black Lightning is showing that heroes are those that struggle to be the light in the darkness. Heroes are those that work to change the tide. Will Pierce and Lyn’s debate on addiction fit one of the 3 noted above or something else entirely.

Is it an addiction? Or is it being a good citizen?


So yeah, I have now read and thoroughly enjoyed 6 volumes of the DC Earth One Graphic Novels. I have mentioned in other posts some of them. From the re-imagining of Superman into a young adult, social justice crusader out to better the world and Lex Luthor as the surviving part of the original L2 Duo of geniuses out to destroy him, to Batman to the Teen Titans, Earth One is what the New 52 should have been about.

Stripping away years of baggage, getting to the core of the character, the icon and presenting them freshly for the 21st century. If DC did their movies this way, they would be bankrupting the super hero wing of Disney Corp.

Anyway, today thanks to the wonders of the Calgary Public Library, I got to read Wonder Woman Earth One Volume One, and Grant Morrison and the crew hit it out of the park. This was not the dark murderous-Goddess of War B.S. of the new 52, it was truly re-imagining the origin/struggle of Princess Diana discovering a world outside of Paradise Island, and bridging two worlds, much like creator William Moulton Marston imagined. It is a story to show the error of gender stereotyping, show that violence is not the solution, but also the wonder of the world we usually ignore.

This may provide some spoilers, but know this as you enter in.

Steve Trevor re-imagined as an African-American Air Force Pilot is brilliant, especially with the subtle commentary on being sent on the weird mission into the Bermuda Triangle ( I will let the reader connect the dots on that one).

Queen Hippolyta’s PTSD/Fear of men working to victimize her daughter coming out of adolescence and wanting fear to be thrown off to enter into the world.C’mon one word: MEDUSA.

The chilling opening where Hercules has the Queen chained and degrading her, alluding to the abuse before, and the victory of Hippolyta breaking her bondage, ending her victimization.

The new take on Wonder Woman’s origin that shreds patriarchy.

The first time Diana steps into a U.S. Hospital and she is faced with the horrors of a medical system based on $$$$ money! Not compassion, need and healing…

To her sisters bringing her to trial for what they see as a crime in entering Man’s world…

To the final choice…Which world? Or Both?

So the question that is left open with this story, like our own lives, are we willing to take the leap of faith into the darkness knowing that our light will confuse it and transform it?

Are you ready?


Scan_20150527 (46) Scan_20150527 (47) Scan_20150527 (48) Scan_20150527 (49) Scan_20150527 (50) Scan_20150527 (51) Scan_20150527 (52) Scan_20150527 (53) Scan_20150527 (54) Scan_20150527 (55) Scan_20150527 (56) Scan_20150527 (57) Scan_20150527 (58) Scan_20150527 (59) Scan_20150527 (60) Scan_20150527 (61) Scan_20150527 (62) Scan_20150527 (63) Scan_20150527 (64) Scan_20150527 (65) Scan_20150527 (66) Scan_20150527 (67) Scan_20150527 (68) Scan_20150527 (69) Scan_20150527 (70) Scan_20150527 (71) Scan_20150527 (72) Scan_20150527 (73) Scan_20150527 (74) Scan_20150527 (75) Scan_20150527 (76)