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Comments for the week ending July 10, 2022

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Yes, Gordon did have a small speaking role in "Misplaced." One thing I really liked was that while trying to calm down the mob of unruly parents, it sounded like he was trying to calm himself down too.
In any case, the relationship between Cassandra and Barbra is much healthier here than it was in the comics (see Linkara's History of Cassandra Cain for more details).

By the way, The Spectacular Spider-Man is now on Netflix. So anyone with an account (or sharing an account) should check that out.


I've been sitting out the bulk of this conversation because I haven't seen Season Four of "Young Justice" an haven't read "The Killing Joke", but thought I should correct one side-remark of Karrin Blue's.

"Gordon, who's never spoken"

Actually, he did get a small speaking role in Season One, in the episode where the children and adults got shifted to separate worlds; he was trying to calm down a crowd (at one point, telling them that their outcry is only turning into a dangerous distraction - very apt, since Riddler and Sportsmaster were using the commotion to steal something vital to the Light's plans at that moment). But the fact that it was still just one brief appearance supports your overall argument.

Todd Jensen

So - I guess it's not very clear in my original post, and sorry about that. When I talk about Barbara being paralyzed as a result of TKJ, and how that can be a really good story about someone not letting someone else's cruelty be the end, I'm mostly thinking about what happened after TKJ, in the writers like Ostrander and Simone who did brought Barbara back and made her Oracle and dug into her as a person. Because she IS basically a cameo in TKJ, there just to hurt Gordon as far as everyone is concerned, even down to the camera of the narrative, but I do think there's something compelling in a story about someone who escaped the fridge, as it were; someone who was hurt specifically to hurt someone else, that had nothing to do with them, and who refused to let that be the end of them. In real life, people are hurt all the time because they're being used as tools against someone else, by people who don't care about them or what they do or anything other than that someone else is connected to them, so I think there's something meaningful in a character like Babs - hurt only because of who her father is, nothing to do with her own choices or life, who has everything about her reduced to Gordon's daughter and a piece to be moved in the debate Joker is having with Bats - go "No, that's not me and that's not the end of me."

The problem with adapting that anywhere else, though, is that Barbara becoming Oracle happened in another story; out of universe, Kim Yale and John Ostrander were motivated to write her like that because of how abysmally TKJ treats her, but anyone adapting that story will have just one creative team for the whole thing. The commentary on a past writing choice doesn't work if you're the one also making that writing choice, and the more you treat Barbara getting treated like an object getting damaged in a feud between men, even if it's to the end of showing her keeping herself in the story, the more you're still keeping her getting treated like an object getting damaged in a feud between men.

That's why I'm of two minds on it - on the one hand, it's absolutely awful that she's written that way in TKJ, and it speaks enormously to how little she was respected as a person and how women were and still are treated as levers on men's emotions. But at the same time - real people get treated that way too, and so I think a story about someone who has been hurt in that way not letting that be the end has a value you don't get in a 'hero continues fighting in a new way after a line of duty injury' story. It's not as though society has moved past treating real women that way in the last 30 years, after all.

And, of course, all that aside - YJ was probably never going to do TKJ at all. Suddenly having something so important be because of Gordon, who's never spoken, and Joker, who only appeared for one episode in season 1, would make no sense. And as good as Barbara's journey to being Oracle is, it's also not really something you can glance over, and I think it's entirely fair of adaptations to want Oracle, the genius hacker, one of a very few major disabled characters in DC (and even fewer disabled women) in their story without bringing TKJ along with her, if it doesn't fit their tone or their story or they just don't want to have something like that happen in their world. Having her get hurt some other way makes perfect sense for something like YJ, or an Elseworld, or so on. At the end of the day, tacking on TKJ or an adapted version of it just wouldn't really work on Earth-16, and the show doesn't have the time to go into Barbara as that would probably need, so taking the simpler route makes sense as a story choice.

Karrin Blue

I think the Killing Joke is a cool story, but as a continuity piece it's... really dull. I just find senseless violence boring and depressing. And not in a cathartic way.

Re: Wordiness, I mean more the literal relationship between Artemis and Cheshire. They have a long, dramatic conversation. Then we have a flashback to another long dramatic conversation. Then the flashback ends and they have... another long, dramatic conversation. They're not BAD or anything, but especially when contrasted with the literal season 1 scenes where their exchanges are far more brief and spread out but I still feel like they were more impactful and I learned a lot more about them... it's a bit jarring. I'm not someone who thinks the show was just *better* in season 1 or anything, because I think the concepts the show is addressing now are more adult and interesting, but I also think that's meant more dialogue heavy scenes.

I dunno how tight or sharp I think the writing is honestly. Like I said I thought it was a story that could have been told in 3 episodes. And some of it... frankly feels redundant. I like the scenes at the end with Cheshire and Ra's, but I think for a lot of this we just didn't go much of anywhere. Like we already knew she did not like her father and that he was cruel and abusive, we already knew she cares about Artemis, we already knew a lot of that stuff. And the episodes spends a fair bit of time on it.

Ra's... I'm rewatching the episode and the last scene I don't think I really *got it* the first time I watched it. Or maybe I did and I just forgot, there's a lot of information in this scene and there's a lot going on. The show spends a lot of time on Vandal Savage, and who he is, and what he wants. And it spends a lot of time on Lex Luthor, but after those two there just isn't a lot of real estate left for Ra's and Queen Bee and I think this story suffers a bit for that. Because as much as I can believe that Ra's isn't lying, and he wants to genuinely help rehabilitate Onyx and Cheshire, I don't necessarily understand what that means. It doesn't feel like a strong character choice. It just feels convenient for Jade.

And I think partly the show is undermined by not wanting to just leave characters behind once they become inconvenient, I tried writing up a ramble on arc 3, and I just felt like I was being *super harsh*, but I dunno how to politely put that I just think there's a lot of time spent on character building stuff the story doesn't need. Like with Zatara, I get not wanting Zatara to just be a prop that Zatanna has to save, but it really interrupts the momentum of the story to have a 3 minute flashback about Zatara's life. I feel similarly about Onyx, she just exposits about her home life at Sensei for like 20 seconds, which doesn't sound like a long time but it doesn't really add anything, I just find it distracting. And it *really* takes away from the core of the story, which is Artemis & Jade. It's like a 5 way conversation when it should really be a heart to heart between the two sisters.

Alex (or Aldrius)
Check out my anime podcast "Two Gays One Episode" on Spotify or YouTube!

The Killing Joke is an exceptional and insightful story...on the Joker and Batman's relationship with him. In fact, if there was ever to be a story that was meant to conclude the Batman/Joker dynamic, it should emulate what The Killing Joke did.

But for Barbra Gordon...that's tricker. As Algae put it, she's basically a glorified cameo appearance in the event that's shaped her life for decades. She's basically an example of "Women in the refrigerator" without the death meant to trigger the main character's angst. So when it comes to YJ, the decision to have her paralysis be in part because of her own agency does make her less of a victim via circumstance. But it also brings to mind this line of thought, "Why was Barbra the only one to be critically injured while on the job? Because she was paralyzed in the comics."

It's a creative decision I neither wholly support, nor disagree with. Which shows up several times this season.


KARIN> I like TKJ but I kinda feel it works better as its own li'l self-contained thing not really connected to any ongoing continuity. Otherwise, it kinda exists in the weird space where it's both THE single most pivotal and defining story of Barbara's Gordan's 50+ years of comic history, and also one where she's basically a cameo.
'nuff said

Then you'll be disappointed. We're all just fans with no access to spoilers. And Greg rarely if ever gives out spoilers on his Ask Greg answers (which are found on a different part of this site, "Latest Responses" under "Ask Greg").

I'd love to see some spoilers here.
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I love the discussion I'm seeing here.
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I think this second arc is probably the strongest in the season, at least for me (and maybe tied with the first one.) It's really sharply written and tied together, and the return to cloak-and-dagger loyalty and spy drama was great, especially as a canvas for the emotional core of this relationship between the sisters. I think it's also got the best fights in the season - the creative use of environments in the vault fight, the incredibly visually cool fight in the dark, and that last brief throw down between Shiva and Cass.

I'm still of mixed feelings on the adaptation to Cass and Oracle's backstories... or, well. So, on the one hand: I think their comics stories, particularly for Cass, are stronger than the backstories here. Babs is more complicated - the artistic merits of Killing Joke, and how it DOES use Barbara as a massive prop for shock value, can be debated until the cows come home, but I think that as a setup for Oracle, for a story about Barbara refusing to let her heroism end just because someone else wanted to use her as a knife-twist for her dad, for a story about digging your fingernails in and not letting pointless cruelty be the end of you - I think that narrative and those themes are very interesting, and meatier than a simpler line-of-duty injury, and that making Babs the only one who gets permanently injured doing hero work does sometimes come with an implication that she's the one who couldn't keep up with the others. But for Cass - as far as her as a character goes, I think her original backstory is far stronger. That she really did kill someone, and saw them die in the most in-depth way possible, and was horrified by it, that her first and only victim was a criminal, someone who made their living off cruelty to others, but she still realized how terrible killing someone was, and ran away on her own and only then met up with the Batfamily; making it an injury instead of death, and a hero trying to help instead of a random gangster, and something that happens with the Batfamily right there, blunts the impact of that as a formative defining moment.

However! That all being the case, I do see why the crew went with this, and why although some of their changes are weaker in particular aspects than other takes, I get why those choices were made. For all the ink to spill about Killing Joke as a prelude to Oracle, it's still a complicated story to tell, and one that would need enormous sensitivity and care and time to show Barbara's recovery - time that YJ just does not have in an ensemble show (to say nothing of how the conflict of the Killing Joke would make NO sense and be completely out of place - Joker trying to prove a point to Batman with Gordon as a proxy would be centering so much narrative weight on people who haven't mattered before and won't matter in the future, and it's tonally at odds with everything else.) While I'd love a character study miniseries about Barbara post-TKJ, Young Justice is not going to be that, and that's fine! In that case, it makes perfect sense to simplify things down and streamline it so that the critical moment of her injury fits into a flashback. And, while I do still think Cass' murder-and-runaway story is stronger, if you already know you're going to be doing Barbara getting paralyzed, this makes perfect sense as a way to dovetail their backstories together. It's very neat and tidy and, even if it's less interesting to me for Cass as a specific character, that setup is fertile ground for a lot of beats and story potential that you couldn't get otherwise. The complicated relationship between Barbara and Cass, the forgiveness, moments like Batman seeing Cass kneeling by Barbara and gently taking the sword from her - that all is really great, and you couldn't do that without YJ's version of this backstory.

The 'I did it to save you' line is still pretty cheesy, though.

What else, what else... I don't remember the wordiness and over explaining being that noticeable to me in this arc specifically, but it is definitely a quibble I have with this season as a whole. There are a lot of moments I felt could have been left to the audience to put together, or shown visually without needing voiceover explanation, or just brushed over (I hope that's not a consequence of all the 'hey explain so and so's motivation to me' 'why does this comic story run on comic science' questions in the queue, trying to head off that kind of thing... it's probably not, but I still wonder.)

The conclusion honestly still bugs me a bit. Everything up to that point, Cheshire freaking out at Lian and running for a final suicide attempt on Ra's, that makes sense, but it still doesn't make sense to me that Ra's had this massive turnaround offscreen; if it's genuine, then we didn't get a real sense of what could motivate such a huge change, and if he's lying, then the therapy retreat seems incredibly sinister, and the others seem kind of dumb for falling for it (especially Artemis, who doesn't have the excuse of being psychologically primed for years to believe Ra's. It feels a bit like they wrote themselves into a corner, where Jade and Onyx couldn't go back to the world yet but there hadn't been a good place they could go instead, so... they go right back to the person who hurt them worst, who admits it, but it's fine this time? It's too easy to read them as mistaking something familiar for something healthy.

But, either way: this is still a very strong arc, and really good character material for Artemis. It returns to a lot of what drew me in and kept me in to the show in the first place, without feeling like a retread of previous arcs or like a copy of a comics plot.

Karrin Blue

KADEN - *sigh* Sorry, but this isn't "Ask Greg". "Ask Greg" is a different portion of the site, with a link near the top. (I've said this before,but we really need to find some way of making it clear that the comment room and "Ask Greg" are different places.)
Todd Jensen

Was there anything you tried to do but sensors wouldn’t allow it?
Kaden - [kktunc at icloud dot com]

Not that much, Season 3 had a great episode revolving around Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. But the holidays aren't really the focus. And I can't think of any holiday taking center stage in Season 4.

Speaking of "Young Justice", did Seasons Three and Four make as much use of the "year's cycle" as the first two seasons did? I've picked up that they continue to show the date and time in the "setting captions", but did they also include things like "landmark holidays"?
Todd Jensen

Alex> A lot of your thoughts on season 4, mirror my own. I'll go into more detail whenever I get around to doing a proper review of the season.

Oh and I loved the normalcy of Artemis's new boyfriend. That was so great.
Alex (or Aldrius)
Check out my anime podcast "Two Gays One Episode" on Spotify or YouTube!

Arc 2 of YJ ramble:

So I think Artemis's arc is the (very general) consensus for "favourite arc" and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that it's a fairly grounded arc which focuses largely on the The Team (tm) as it exists now, and focuses on a Light scheme, which is very sort of classic and familiar for this show.

One thing I want to mention structurally is how this episode has A, B, C and D plots. But unlike a traditional TV structure where we sort of dip into these plots inbetween one another, all four of these plots are happening at the same time in the same scenes. Let's say the four plots are Artemis/Onyx/Cassanda (Savage, henceforth known as Savage), the Artemis/Cheshire story, then Barbara/Cassandra (Cain, henceforth known as Cain), then Lady Shiva/Cain. All of which are all kind of taking place in the same spaces with the same narrative line. I think this structure is cool, I think it's kinda new, and I really like seeing new things and not just the same structure every time. But I think it was also a bit messy unfortunately. There's a lot of emotional payoffs in this arc, and they work *well*, they were good for sure but I wanted to be blown away by them.

I think it's cool and unique, but I also found it a bit overwhelming because it made it harder to kind of parse things (which for me was a recurring problem this season). It's harder to kind of get at the core or the heart of the story when there's four stories going on at once. Effectively it *feels* like the Cheshire/Artemis stuff should kind of be the core of things, but there's so much going on at once it's kind of hard to be as impacted emotionally. It was interesting to see the tone and presentation of the season 1 scenes contrasted with the season 4 stuff. I'm not sure the additional scenes added much necessarily, but there was some cool stuff to see. It added detail (and stuff like Jade giving Artemis a small piece of their Vietnamese heritage was nice) but I'm not sure if it added meaning? Does that distinction make sense?

I do kinda feel like this story could have been a 3 episode arc maybe, or at least a little tighter, a little more focused. There's a big dramatic battle between Shiva and Cain at the end of episode 3, but that's not really even the stories' climax, and I feel like I've never really had a chance to get to know either of these characters, so while the fight itself was awesome, and I like a lot of the concepts here I wish it had come together in a bigger way. I mentioned this in my arc 1 ramble; where I feel like delineating these stories and making them into more separate full stories somehow might have worked better. We wouldn't be dealing with Onyx, Cheshire, Artemis, Cain and Barbara all in one scene together, and this Cain-Shiva story could have had a bit more breathing room.

That's just my opinion, though. To be clear. I recognize that for sure.

Cheshire in particular, I felt like her characterization wasn't quite as strong here as it has been in past seasons. She's obviously a very damaged person, but she usually doesn't let that show in quite the same way she did here. The scenes are a bit wordier, there's more explanations for things. Which is all very necessary when these storylines are happening in the way they are. I don't wanna sound like I'm just ragging on stuff either, so I will say, I still love Kelly Hu, I love her design, and I loved the way she interacted with the other league assassins (her former team) if anything I wish there was more of that and that was a bigger part of the story. I think that was the main thing I missed with Cheshire here, was the sassiness, she was a little too melancholic for my taste. Still enjoyed the character a lot, though.

One thing I think I maybe missed was why did Barbara take such an interest in Cain/Orphan? Considering the wound she took for the sake of Cain's... soul, basically. It just seemed like a bold move for a girl she doesn't seem to know. I LOVE the new take on the Oracle story. Which I've never particularly liked (always seemed kind of sensational), and I like that Barbara lost her legs doing something heroic in the line of duty, rather than just being another Joker victim. I'm smart enough to understand that it's entirely possible Barbara and the league and whoever had a file on Cain, and Barbara felt sorry for her, or felt that she could be something else and that doesn't need to necessarily be spelled out, but it sort of felt like there was something missing there maybe.

Also speaking of the Joker, I thought this characterization was a lot stronger than the one from season 1. The Joker was funnier, but he also seemed more deranged. Bigger energy, which I think is always a better direction to take the Joker in.

As always the logistical aspects of the plot are *immaculate* and I think the skill with which Greg writes these caper plots is so underappreciated. The detail of Onyx creating confusion which made Savage less suspicious was something I picked up on immediately. (Basically the question goes from being "IS Cassandra Savage a spy?" to "Is Cassandra Savage OR Onyx *the* spy?") And so I felt very smart when Shiva mentioned it later in the arc. The glamour charm aspect was also very cool. I didn't REALLY believe that Cassandra Savage was punished by her father; Vandal is just too practical to make someone less capable. Too wasteful.

The whole conclusion on Infinity Island was interesting. Onyx felt a bit out of place just because again there was so much going on, but the themes of tradition, doing better, generational trauma stuff, that was all great.

I've never been too clear on this version of Ra's Al Ghul. Traditionally Ra's is either an environmental extremist, an anti-crime extremist or an anarchist extremist, or all of the above. But none of those seem to really fit this version of Ra's, who worked with the Light, and cooperated with an oppressive dictator and a technocratic businessman (both of whom seem like they SHOULD be ideological opposites to Ra's, but that's hardly a given I suppose, especially given that the Light is aware of the intergalactic community at large).

So I just don't know if I really understand what this version at least of Ra's is all about. He's usually a voice of reason in the big Light scenes. I kinda wish I understood more about him, I suppose, but there is just so much to cover so maybe that's unfair.

But all that is to say, is that what worked for me about this arc works *really* well. It's not necessarily *my* favourite of the season, but I think it was really strong and fittingly nostalgic.

Alex (or Aldrius)
Check out my anime podcast "Two Gays One Episode" on Spotify or YouTube!

Thanks. She was a warm person and still a source of strength to me.

B - My condolences over your godmother.

Returning to "Goliath reading classic authors"; the next name on the list was Charles Dickens. (Dickens may have provided one echo in the Gargoyles Universe, if one that Goliath probably wouldn't have been aware of. We know from "Bad Guys" that Fang's original name was Fred Sikes, which evokes Bill Sykes from "Oliver Twist".)

WHile there are some obvious differences between the nineteenth century England portrayed in Dickens and modern-day Manhattan, I suspect that Goliath would have found the darker aspects of Dickens' London evoking Manhattan's own grittier aspects (which he'd have seen a lot of, obviously).

The specific Dickens book that I'd like to see Goliath's response to is one of his greatest (if darkest), "Great Expectations". I suspect that he'd have found Miss Havisham's vengeance-driven tone to be familiar - even if with different trappings than that of Demona. And I'm certain he'd have frowned at Pip casting off his family in his pursuit of success. But the most "Gargoytles-evocative" aspect of the book is one that I suspect Goliath might have missed, being perhaps too "meta": the way that the Havisham and Magwitch elements of the story are interwoven, with not only Magwitch being Estella's father, but his adversary Compeyson being the guy who left Miss Havisham standing at the altar. That element definitely strikes me as feeling a lot like the "inter-connected" tone of "Gargoyles". (And to top it off, we've got Pip and Herbert's "Hey, you're the guy I got into a fight with years ago" moment.)

Todd Jensen

Happy Independence Day! Also my late godmother's birthday, so we'll be leaving fresh flowers as always.

Yes, happy Independence Day!

I wonder how Bronx responded to the noise of the fireworks on the first Fourth of July after the gargoyles awakened in Manhattan. (Since the London clan don't have beasts, they won't have to deal with their response to similar noises on the Fifth of November.)

Todd Jensen

Wishing my fellow American commenters (and everyone else why not), a happy Independence Day!