Ruby Nation

Ruby Nation
Ruby Nation: The Webcomic

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Allie Awards: Best Comics Of 2010

I wouldn't feel right doing a list of negatives without a list of positives, so even though my interest in following monthly comics has diminished, I still read plenty of good stuff this year. Named for the world's greatest cat, here are the awards for the best of the best, the comics that had me genuinely excited.

BEST NEW SUPERHERO SERIES: Avengers Academy by Christos Gage and Mike McKone. Yeah, it sounded like just another teen team book...until the end of the first issue, when it was revealed that all the teens are at-risk superhumans with troubled pasts, and the adults are only training them to keep them from becoming villains. Then it was clear that Avengers Academy would be an excellent new book with a complex cast of characters. The fact that they're younger doesn't mean they're treated condescendingly by the creative team-- in fact, these kids are just as competent as the adults (though when the adults are all failed Avengers, it might not be saying too much).

BEST ONGOING SUPERHERO SERIES: Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca. Last year's World's Most Wanted story was, and still is, my all-time favorite Iron Man saga. This year didn't quite measure up to that, as a lot of it was set-up needed to rebuild everything Tony had lost. But even when the story was going too slow, I didn't find it less interesting. Last year had Tony going on what appeared to be his final mission, sacrificing his entire legacy down to the last brain cell so it would stay out of Norman's hands. This year had Tony wake up with an incomplete memory, learning about the horrible mistakes he'd made without having any attachment to having made them, and trying to redefine who he is. Making a new company out of a small group of trusted partners, ditching the military entirely to just focus on his clean energy, and using Pepper's Rescue identity as a symbol for the ideal future of Iron Man were moves that indicated that Tony was A.) determined to make the world a better place, and B.) desperate to move forward to the point of not thinking the implications of his moves through.

In the process, we got a lot of great stuff, including the Iron Man Requiem back-up strip (that, in a move of metatextual tragicomedy, has the brain-damaged Tony hallucinate that his origin was AGAIN in Vietnam), a rather creepy look into Tony's sub-conscious, a brilliant reinventing of the Mandarin as egotistical despot a la Kim Jong Il or Christian Weston Chandler, an excellent-looking new armor, and the villains forming into a family act. Like the Aristocrats, except...well, given how it's the granddaughter of Justin Hammer/daughter of the Mandarin and the son of Obadiah Stane, it's pretty much the Aristocrats.

MOST SATISFYING SUPERHERO MOMENT: Siege #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel. After letting the world fall apart in the midst of their petty in-fighting, the Avengers get their shit together and take back their country. Captain America leads the charge against Norman Osborn, Iron Man shuts down the Iron Patriot tech with a condescending push of a button, and Spider-Man punches the bastard in the face. It wasn't brilliant, but damn did it feel good to see.

BEST SERIES CONCLUSION: Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6 by Bryan Lee O'Malley. This series has become popular not just for its video game references mixed with twentysomething angst, but the fact that it's actually quite well-done. After having broken up with Ramona in the previous volume, Scott regresses to his irresponsible man-child ways, only to find that it's no longer even remotely endearing. Embarassed, he has to pull himself together and fight Ramona's final evil Ex, Gideon Graves. But it's not Scott who gets the spotlight, but Ramona, who finally realizes that she can move past her baggage, and joins in the magically realistic fight. The ending doesn't go directly for happily ever after, but for the idea that Scott and Ramona now have the chance to movee on, and it doesn't treat Ramona as a prize to be won or lost, but a capable agent in the story.

Oh, and Gideon is finished off with a move from Chrono Trigger. Can't forget that.

BEST WEBCOMIC: The City of Reality by Ian Samson This series about a cartoony, hyper-idealistic city representing an isolationist paradise in a really horrible cosmos is one of my favorite webcomics ever. Unfortunately it went on hiatus this year, but it had some utterly great stories, most particularly the utter collapse of Reality's attempt to open its borders. This series made optimism cool, and hopefully Ian Samson will get back to it sooner rather than later. But don't take my word for it.... you can see the whole site Here.

BEST TEAR JERKER: The Boys #47, by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. The gratuitous violence and debauchery in this series obscures the brilliant storytelling and character depth. For years we've seen Wee Hughie, the only member of the Boys who is actually a nice person, dating Annie January, who (unbeknownst to him) is a member of the decadent military-industrial super-team known as the Seven. When he finds out not only this fact, but sees footage of her giving a group blow-job to get on the team. Given how a member of the Seven carelessly got his last girlfriend killed, Hughie is furious with Annie and throws ever horrible insult he can make at her. Annie, who has been feeling horrible and traumatized about what she had done, doesn't defend herself and begs for forgiveness. Hughie knows she's right, but leaves her anyway. It was an extremely tragic moment for the characters whose relationship was the heart of the series, and it was done perfectly.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Limp Arrow Awards For Worst Comics Of 2010

Originally I had entitled these end-of-year rant posts the "Humperdoozie ", after the inbred descendant of Christ from Preacher. However, I realized that might come across as though I equate crappy comics with developmental disabilities, and I don't want that. So I've changed the award name to something more specific and less offensive-- except to people who can't get it up because of nanite arm stump infection. Fortunately, none of them are coming forward any time soon.

Here's the best way I can express my opinion about the year's comics-- 2010 was the year when I stopped identifying myself as a superhero comic fan. I'd enjoyed a lot of the stuff from 2009, and I still enjoyed some things in 2010. But this was the year where I finally emancipated myself from specific allegiances, because I'd found other interests that filled the void. I've found franchise superhero comics largely an Ouroburos that somehow kept finding more of its tail upon which to nosh, and I don't know if it was just getting fed up with the directions of comics, or focusing my attention on other mediums that told the kinds of stories I actually wanted to see.

But let's put it this know how Mark Millar wrote his own afterword for Superior #1, saying about how comics fans needed new superhero characters to replace the tired constructs of the Golden and Silver Ages? Well, I found my new hero. His name is Solid Snake. :P

Anyway, onwards with the awards...

Worst Story Resolution: X-Men: Second Coming. After dragging the DeciMation out for five years, Marvel resolves it via living deus ex machina Hope Summers, whose Phoenix powers revive the mutant race with....five new mutants. That's equal to the amount of mutants killed in the crossover, significantly less than the amount of mutants killed since the DeciMation, and not even remotely worth the moral compromises Cyclops made in the name of chasing a messiah child without any evidence to support his faith. Yet now Cyclops is the hero, and everyone loves him, even though he's treated every mutant he wasn't sleeping with (re: every mutant except Emma and maybe Wolverine ) as expendable. Seeing Scott awarded the Medal of Honor by Captain America was especially jarring, since Cap wouldn't have stood for the shit Scott did, even in a wartime situation.

Worst New Direction: JMS' Superman. Walking through small towns trying to find the real America was corny when Green Lantern and Green Arrow did it in the 70's. But at least they were open to learning from their experience. Superman's just ditching his responsibilities to the entire world so he can slum it with mere mortals and feel better about himself. At best he's a politician going on a campaign trail to win his constituents' favor, and at worst he's an anthropologist fascinated by the behavior of us chimpanzees. Neither seems like a good use of his talents, and it's an especially jarring waste of a year's worth of comics.

Worst Move For Diversity Of Representation: DC Comics killing off the Ryan Choi Atom. Was Ray Palmer such an original and compelling personality that he had to return to the role at the cost of the new guy's life? What made him so much more " iconic " in that minor role, that he would have his competition eliminated by divine intervention...oh, wait, he's a white Silver Age character. And Ryan's a Chinese-American from the current generation. That explains it, and it's hardly the only example of the classic white guys taking back roles from their more diverse counterparts. At least in this case, people who enjoyed the All-New Atom comic/don't enjoy DC's current direction got a karmic bone by seeing the villain who killed Ryan sentenced to death by Snoo-Snoo.

Worst Comic About A Junkie Ex-Sideckick Who Cradles A Dead Cat During A Heroin Hallucination After Being Unable To Get It Up With The Supervillain Babymama Of His Dead Daughter Due To A Nanobot Infection In His Arm Stump: Rise of Arsenal. Okay, it didn't have too much competiton, but still, you can't make that shit up. At least, you couldn't until a professional writer DID.

Worst Trend: Identity Sub-Franchising. The Incredible Hulk has become The Incredible Hulks, with every character of his supporting cast now being a similar gamma-powered monster. Batman has become Batman Inc., franchising his identity built through a lifetime of suffering out to anyone who passes the job interview. Wolverine's gone from a solo X-Men spin-off to his own franchise, with a team book of is own and books for his clone daughter and evil son. There are two Captain Americas, a family of Flashes, and a Lantern Corps of every color. Has everyonejust given up on the idea that being a superhero can be inherently special? Or is it just

Limp Arrow 2010 Lifetime Unachievement Award: Mark Millar. See the above comment, except that his " new " concepts are a book about comic book fanboys playing at being heroes, a book about a Batman rip-off acting like a Joker rip-off, and a book about a Shazam rip-off. If you don't want to do the same old thing as everyone else, don't do the same old thing as everyone else! Filing off the serial numbers and adding a lot of swearing and "timely" pop culture references isn't good enough.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ruby Nation Is Coming: Get Your Passports Ready

As Baby New Year 2010 has become Dying Old Man 2010 thanks to the terminator genes engineered into him by the Patriots, we start making resolutions for 2011's arrival. 2010 was a big year for me, as I started doing freelance writing, got a lot of Ruby's World comics done, found a wonderful new fandom in Metal Gear Solid, and a horrifying new interest in Sonichu. But I digress...

People who have been keeping up with the Ruby's World comic know that it's coming to a close, and is going into the next chapter, entitled Ruby Nation. After being transformed, ostracized, and appalled by the world, our nine-foot-tall heroine is going to start her own country with a new, uncorrupted system. Joined by the comrades she's made along the way, and funded by the US government's black budget ( in exchange for military services against Beagle Labs ), Ruby plans to take an island military base off the coast of Southern California and make it into a refuge for other nanotech-enhanced young people, allowing them a place where they can live in peace and feel accepted.

It will NOT be an easy task.

This story is the story I actually want to tell. Consider Ruby's World a warm-up, what was necessary for me to gain the storytelling abilities and set up the framework for Ruby Nation. I've always been bothered by the reactive nature of hero stories, how most characters simply respond to threats instead of trying to build something positive. And most of the hero stories that do have the heroes try to reform society end up going into aggravating slippery slope parables, where taking the risks to do something positive makes the heroes into extremists or outright villains. This is going to be a more complex examination of what it requires to build something pure in a fallen world than, say, Iron Man being treated as a despot for trying to change the system from within.

The launch of Ruby Nation will not be for another few months, because I wanted to wrap up this saga in a properly heartbreaking fashion. And I will not be updating this weekend or next, due to the holiday vacation. However, when the story returns to regular scheduling, you'll see what the point of divergence between World and Nation is-- and who'll actually get through it alive.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Check Out My New Job At Console Press

If I've seemed lax with blogs/responses/horrifying you all with Sonichu reviews, it's partly because I've been busy getting the hang of a new job; Video Game News Editor at ConsolePress! I help find and write-up news across the video game industry.

You can check out the site and its daily updates ( some of which are mine ) Here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Signs Your Life Has Been Revamped By Geoff Johns

-- You find yourself in the same job and wardrobe that you had in your twenties. If you are in your twenties now, you find yourself in the same classes and wardrobe that you had in high school. All of the progress you have made since has been nullified via convoluted circumstances that reset your status quo.

-- Similarly, elements of your outdated wardrobe are now given intense personal significance. If you wore leg-warmers, you've started wearing them again because they were given to you by a friend who was hit by a bus. If you sported a mullet, you have once again chosen that hairstyle because it reminds you of the uncle who touched you, and gives you the feeling that you've conquered your past.

-- All of your friends and family throughout your entire life history are hanging around. You find that your life is basically just one big family reunion, with kindergarten playmates, high school sweethearts, bitter workplace rivals, and dead grandparents popping up. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention...

-- All of the people who've passed on in your life have come back. They may be traumatized after having been dead, but they're back to life and healthy. Any sense of loss is gone, replaced with confusion and a vague irritation at being manipulated by the powers that be.

-- In addition to everyone who'd been in your life having returned, you also find that a bunch of new people with close ties to your old associates have appeared. If you are in a poker league called " the Kitchen Table Crew ", they now face competition from the mysterious " Breakfast Nook Crew ", the bizarre and unpredictable " Linen Closet Crew ", and the sinister " Waterbed in the Basement Crew ".

-- Your rivals have become much nastier. The schoolyard bully who gave everyone wedgies now rips peoples' spines out through their buttocks. The guy who makes offensive racist jokes at work now keeps the bodies of his minority victims in his basement, and uses their coffers to put on puppet shows. And the obnoxious teenaged clerk at the convenience store has laced all the hot dogs with neurotoxins that cause four hours of mind-blowing pain before death.

-- Last but not least, you are having vision troubles because narrative caption boxes expressing your personal problems obscure everything you see.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sonichu Sub-Episode 5 Critical Review: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Drool Over My Sister

Didn't I Tell You It Gets Worse

Previously in Sonichu, Chris-Chan had defeated the B-Manajerk and Merried Seinor Comic who threatened to stop him from soliciting for sex at the " Mal-Wart " food court. However, he was confronted by the WM-Manajerk, a human head attached to a giant robot body*. Now, Chris-Chan is getting the crap beaten out of him by this new Manajerk. Fortunately, his gold-armored " Cherokian " ancestor appears in a vision, and tells Chris-Chan what he needs to do in order to summon his dream sibling....Crystal Weston Chandler.

Crystal is basically the female twin of Chris-Chan ( not Christian Weston Chandler, mind you, but his idealized avatar ). She wears a hedgehog medallion and a gaudy striped shirt, transforms into a Rosechu, and wields the same " Curse-Ye-Ha-Me-Ha " black magic as her brother. Her personality is entirely supplimentary to Chris'; she assists him in defeating the WM-Manajerk, and lectures the defeated severed head on why her brother's Love Quest is noble, but doesn't show any outside independent thought. Chandler created Crystal as the exact kind of woman he wants, a servile distaff counterpart to himself. Yet he chose to make this woman a blood relative, the kind that he couldn't ethically touch ( even by his own flimsy moral code ).

So why would a man capable of creating the woman he wants to be his dream mate instead create a sister he can't touch? Well, Chandler wants someone who understands and approves of him and his plans. By creating a clone of himself, he's made sure that his ideal friend understands what it means to be him. And by making the clone female, her approval of his Love Quest is meant to carry more weight. Back in high school, Chandler had several " gal-pals "**, females who were friendly to him but not romantically linked. Perhaps making Crystal a sister is Chandler's way of ensuring that she stay as his friend, because even his libido wouldn't make him commit the incest taboo.

It may also be the case that Chandler doesn't want to get a girlfriend without having " earned " her through a Love Quest, which is why he can't get a girl even in his own fictional universe. This is possibly the only concession that can be offered to Chandler, that he isn't so absorbed in his fantasy world that he can invent himself a sweetheart. Then again, Chandler isn't above having his avatar get laid; in later chapters, he travels to the future and fucks his future self's wife, taking advantage of the mistaken identity.***

And the sad part is that at this point, Chandler at least approaches his Love Quest with honest ( if deluded ) conviction. But we're still seeing things like his ad for Axe Deodorant, where Rosechu tells Sonichu that she wants to " orbit your belt " because he uses the Orion scent. The pretense that there's anything noble about Sonichu gets flimsier and flimsier.

* Which appears copied from the Transformer Jazz. It's likely that Chandler owns that specific toy of the character, given everything else upon which he's blown Virginian taxpayer money. And yet he doesn't draw the body with any attempt at proportion or perspective, thus negating even the POINT of plagiarizing.
** Having mainly platonic female friends is commonly associated with gay men-- ironic considering Chandler's vicious homophobia.
*** I'm worried about how well my sanity will hold out until that review. :P

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Disability Blog Carnival, Now With 100% More Neil

You may have already read my postscript for the recent Ruby's World strips, but they're also up on the Disability Blog Carnival. There are plenty of great articles here, my personal favorites being " How Disability Affects Wellbeing " and " The Big Society and Charity Model of Disability "

These blogs should be required reading for any participant in a human society. You can read them Here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sonichu Sub-Episode 4 Critical Review: Childish Idolatry Just The Way You Like It

Happy Thanksgiving, Hope You Like Crap

Christian Weston Chandler's famed inability-- nay, unwillingness*-- to grow up is best symbolized by his avatar's power sources. In the augmented reality of CWCVille, Chandler's toys, games, and dress-up accessories aren't just creature comforts**-- they actually give him the strength to defeat his enemies. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase " Security Blanket ", because the security provided to Chandler by his in-universe playthings is the equivalent of the most dangerous private military contractor.

Sub-Episode 4 has Chris-Chan demonstrate the power of his Peter Pan mentality upon more villains ( i.e. people who don't want to see a creepy little man soliciting his body in a public place ). We open to see Chris-Chan sitting in the Mal-Wart region's food court ( a.k.a. the real world Wal Mart, because that's where all the eligible young singles congregate ), musing upon how the world is against his Love Quest. He is confronted by the B-Manajerk and his partner " Merried Senior Comic "***, who tell him that love is forbidden in the Mal-Wart region. They call him a solicitor, an accurate assessment that sends Chris-Chan into a self-righteous fury. Fortunately, Chris-Chan is joined by his latest electric hedgehog creation, Darkbind Sonichu ( a mixture of Sonic, Pikachu, Darkwing Duck, and Link from Legend of Zelda**** ).

In the fight, Chandler uses all of his childish playthings with deadly results. Not only does his Sonichu medallion allow him to once again become Chris-Chan Sonichu, but it turns the anime wing hairclips on his head from a girl's cosplay accessory to actual flight-capable wings sprouting from his skull. In the battle, Chris-Chan also accesses his Pixelblocks to create a duplicate of himself that throws off the B-Manajerk-- because the 8-bit video game construction toy is now apparently capable of creating a lifelike copy of an organic lifeform.

It's a common theme in hero stories to demonstrate that super-powers can't solve personal problems-- that being Spider-Man won't help Peter Parker keep a job or a girlfriend, that Iron Man tech won't solve Tony Stark's fear of intimacy, that Green Lantern's ring can't stop bigoted thugs from beating up his gay assistant, and so on. This is not much different in Sonichu, except for the fact that this is how Christian Weston Chandler honestly sees his life. He believes that Sonichu is advantageous for him as a potential mate. The security he feels with the trappings of his TV-Y7 fandoms is where he feels empowered, and he doesn't listen to anyone who would tell him otherwise.

But if CWCVille makes Chandler's comfort zone into a super-power, then it also makes the people who tell him what he doesn't want to hear into one-dimensional villains. It's not enough that Wal-Mart not be a place where soliciting for a mate is acceptable, it has to be a fascist regime with anti-love laws written into its constitution. And it's not enough that Chris-Chan simply wants a mate but can't find one due to him being Chris-Chan, he has to be a tragic hero fighting on against the " infinitely-high boyfriend factor ".

* The disturbingly extensive documentation we have about Chandler's life is plenty of reason not to show him sympathy; the people who try to defend him need only read the CWCiki to learn that nobody trolls Chris worse than Chris.
** I'm not really one to criticize adult men for having toys, given my three-figure collection of Transformers. But like with his other quirks, Chandler's problem isn't that he has interests below his appropriate age range-- it's that he doesn't want to bother with anything else, and doesn't feel like he should have to.
*** Nobody has figured out what that string of misspelled words means. Probably not even Chandler himself.
**** The latter because he wields a sword and is on a quest to rescue his princess, Zelina Rosechu. Ironically, the Legend of Zelda games never suggest that Link's desire to save Zelda is anything more than his platonic heroism.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Captain America " Fighting Chance ": A Really Uncomfortable Masterpiece

I recently read the two trades collecting " Fighting Chance ", the Captain America mega-arc by the late writer/editor Mark Gruenwald. My thoughts on the story are extremely conflicted, because while it's a surprisingly deep and poignant examination of the character and his legacy, it also has an unfortunate implication that doesn't seem fully addressed by the text.

The story begins with Steve Rogers talking to a doctor, who'd examined him regarding cramps and fatigue. The news he receives is much more dire than he expected; the Super-Soldier Serum that made him into Captain America is breaking down, and his body can't handle the level of activity that being a superhero entails. He receives this ultimatum; retire from crimefighting and live a full civilian life, or stay as Cap and risk total muscular paralysis within a year. Guess which one he chooses? Spoiler alert; it's not the one that would suggest he could have a meaningful life without punching Nazis in the jaw.

I became interested in this story because of its similarities to Metal Gear Solid 4, which has super-soldier Solid Snake aging rapidly and having trouble being an action hero. While Cap doesn't wrinkle up or start growing a dapper grey mustache, his experience is similar, failed by the physical strength that defined him and going into action despite increased risk. Both characters also start to require assistive technology to keep fighting, Snake wearing his Octocamo muscle suit while Cap starts wearing a belt-and-pocket-laden gadget suit, and later dons a Starktech exoskeleton once he completely paralyzes himself. There's even a thematic link between the two stories when both characters start thinking about their legacies, and what they'll leave behind for the next generation. For Snake it's being treated as a burden by former comrades, while for Cap it's meeting a new generation of vigilantes with different-- and often perverted-- interpretations of the American dream.

However, the place where they diverge is the place where Fighting Chance makes me uncomfortable. For Snake, death is the inevitable outcome of his aging, and he's desperate to finish his mission in the little time he has left. But for Cap, THE TERMINAL PROGNOSIS IS HIS OWN DAMN FAULT. The doctor tells Cap that he can live out a normal life if he retires from the battlefield. Cap doesn't like this news, but he does very little to try and take it easy-- instead, he keeps putting himself into combat situations. In doing so, he aggravates his cellular degeneration and eats away what strength he has left. Other than then-girlfriend Diamondback, he keeps his illness secret from his comrades, even his super-genius friends like Hank Pym and Tony Stark*. There are plenty of instances where the muscle spasms render Cap less effective or even outright useless, but he keeps fighting.

This is even more troublesome when you consider the fact that not only is Captain America capable of living a normal lifespan, but that his intervention isn't absolutely necessary for the world's security. Snake has the " advantage " of being the designated hero of his world, capable of feats no other soldier could match. In the world of Metal Gear Solid, being able to take down a ten-story robot with nothing but a rocket launcher is a skill that's very rare, especially amongst people who don't want to destroy civilization. But there are plenty of other superheroes in the Marvel Universe, and while they might not have Cap's legendary skills or reputation, they could certainly do the job. Even before the Marvel Universe became professionalized with an omnipresent SHIELD and a 50-State Initiative, there were Avengers teams on both coasts, the Fantastic Four and their network of fantasy nation friends ( T'Challa, the Inhumans, Namor on a good day, etc. ), dozens of urban vigilantes in the Big Apple, and way more mutants than anybody cares to remember. To Cap's credit he does start training Free Spirit ( the one new flag-suited vigilante in the story who isn't off their rocker ), but his pride keeps him from asking for help from people who can do the job without risking paralysis.

Of course, Cap eventually gets better**, but he didn't know that he'd make a full recovery... what Cap knew was that he could have lived out the rest of his life as a civilian, but instead chose to kill himself with a blaze of glory. This was explicit with Snake, who's always been presented as a death drive hero. But Cap is the great boy scout, the guy who sets the moral standard for the rest of the hero community. When he's killing himself to pretend that he can still be a superhero in spite of his disability, he's saying that he has no worth outside of his physical abilities. He doesn't even try to consider what he could do besides being Captain America.

Unfortunately it's an occupational hazard of the narrative for heroes to completely disregard any handicaps that would interfere with them doing their job. Metal Gear Solid 4 at least pulled no punches in showing how Snake's final mission was motivated by a mixture of necessity and self-loathing. But then again, Metal Gear Solid 4 was the last Sold Snake game, and subsequent games have starred other characters. Steve Rogers came back, so not only was he willing to disregard his health out of idiotic pride, but he didn't suffer any permanent consequences for it.

I mean, one of Cap's contemporaries was FDR, and he led us against the Nazis from a wheelchair...

* In an issue by Len Kaminski, Steve Rogers confides in Tony the degeneration of his Super-Soldier powers, but conveniently omits the fact that being Cap is killing him.
** And I admit I haven't read the stories in which he recovers, but since these stories were published in the 90's, I was fairly certain that he wouldn't stay down.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ruby's World: Ruby and Jens Postscript: The Redemption of the Neurotypical

I've finished the latest round of text pieces for Ruby's World, but the ending came sooner than I'd originally planned. Normally I don't like to talk about my work, for fear of A.) hindering the audience's ability to make their own conclusions, and B.) coming across as a pretentious douche. However, this is a case where the audience is unfortunately not likely to come to these conclusions.

If it seems deliberate that the two boys in Ruby's life-- Jens Larson and Jiro Sasaki-- both have first names that are four letters and start with J, that's because it is deliberate. The early drafts of this story were called " Ruby and Jens ", and only had those two characters plus Ruby's father. The rest was more standard high school superhero stuff, with Ruby's giant form triggered by stress ( sort of like a pre-college " Savage She-Hulk " ). These stories, which I did in undergraduate largely as prose pieces, were extremely crude by comparison to what I'm doing now. Like any self-respecting artist, I look back upon my previous work and see only mistakes, and the only satisfaction I get is to realize that I'm not doing that shit anymore. The thing that bothered me most in hindsight was the fact that I wrote Jens as too idealized a normal guy-- he was still without powers and had a sarcastic voice, but he was unremittingly loyal and selfless, and more effective in combat situations. Which in hindsight, is pretty ridiculous even by science fiction standards; if you want to compete in a world of super-powers, you have to work harder than ever, and the sacrifices that must be made to become that competent leave scars that take you outside the world of normality. Just ask Batman.

When I revised the story in 2008 and expanded upon it dramatically as " Ruby's World ", I kept Jens around, but instead of using him as more of a male power fantasy ( albeit one who exists in a world where the protagonist is a female hero, and is measured by his ability to be badass by normal human standards ), I used him as an obnoxious counterpoint to Ruby and the new characters. Jiro was created as an explicit contrast to Jens, someone who had the hyper-competences, but came from a place of feeling like an outsider. While Jens' issues were mostly ones of teen angst, Jiro had hard challenges in his life-- autism, poverty from the hardships his Japanese-American family still faced, incredible PTSD from the experiments that made him a cybernetic super-soldier, and clear markings of difference even with his powers ( red eyes and metal joints ). And Ruby became closer to Jiro because he actually understood what it was like to be different, instead of slumming with the outcasts despite having the ability to pass for normal.

When I started writing the text pieces from Jens' perspective, I started with a clear direction in mind; I was going to make him a villain. I would have his feelings of inadequacy due to his lack of powers get to the point where he'd abandon Ruby and her group, and make a deal with Beagle Labs to get powers of his own. Of course, he wasn't going to become evil, because he was doing it to secretly help Ruby. Similar to Revolver Ocelot from the Metal Gear Solid games, he'd ultimately be on the same side as the heroes, but he'd make himself the bad guy and make morally unconscionable decisions in the process. And he'd do so knowing that it would eventually get him killed, but that sacrifice would be redemptive.

However, as I started to get feedback on these stories, particularly from a friend who eloquently expressed how he could relate to Jens, I changed course. Even though Jens could pass for normal, it was observed that he didn't feel normal-- even before the world became overtly transformed by nanotech, he felt weak and inadequate. People think it's easy for young men in American culture, at least compared to young women-- however, many of the privileges that come with being in the majority are only available if you meet the majority's criteria. If you want to be treated as a strong man ( especially in high school ), you have to act manly, to not show feelings and through your weight around, and to not have interests that could put you in the out-group. Jens was shy and awkward, and didn't fit those criteria. Even though he was male, white, straight, and neurotypical, he still didn't fit socially. Which is why he's drawn to Ruby and her group-- he knows what it feels like to be an outcast. Realizing that, I thought it would be better to keep him alive. A heroic sacrifice after feigning treachery would suggest that the character's worth was contingent on an impressive suicide, and would be a betrayal of the audience members who found something worthwhile in Jens.

So I shifted direction with the story, and changed the text pieces to reach a quicker but more subdued and humane ending. I wanted instead for Jens to reach some kind of peace with himself-- not for him to stop feeling inadequate, but to give him just enough of a morale boost to keep going. The scene with him and Alexis talking was a metatextual expression of this; both characters feel peripheral, as Alexis has the same feelings of inadequacy, and while she does have powers, they're non-combative and ill-defined ( in contrast with the rest of the series, where advanced technology explains everything ). Their ability to go on becomes contingent on their ability to find worth in themselves, instead of their roles in cultural ( and in this case, literal ) narratives.

Given my own experiences, I feel proud that I am able to use my work to examine the troubles that everyone feels-- even if they don't wear it on the outside.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sonichu Episode 11 Critical Review: CWCVille the Confederacy

The Horrible Hate Crime, Here

Even the early Sonichu comics aren't free of Christian Weston Chandler's problems. The formal introduction of the Chaotic Combo has them come together to stop a common threat-- Black Sonichu, who steals the all-powerful Sunstone from Flame the Sunbird*. The formations of hero teams are often contrived, but the circumstances here take the ham-handed coincidence up to eleven-- as Black Sonichu escapes with the Sunbird's Sunstone, he literally bumps into four of the five ersatz Sonichus, giving them reason to meet. Magi-Chan joins up with them after their chatter bothers his meditation, and the original Sonichu isn't far behind. What results is six electric hedgehogs against one, which is about as contested a battle as the Hulk vs. Woody Allen

What makes the circumstances especially humorous/horrifying is the insistence Chandler has on referring to Black Sonichu as black-- the other Sonichus calling him " Blackie " or " that Black guy ". Since that's his only distinguishing characteristic from the the other Sonichus, one might see this as unintentional. However, racism is one of Christian Weston Chandler's many despicable traits. He doesn't hate black people as openly as he hates gays or other autistics ( especially those with the Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis ), but he does make it clear that his Love Quest doesn't include non-white women, he portrays the head Jerkops as scary black men, and one of his most infamous videos has him scream the N-Word at a troll. It's debatable how conscious Chandler's race hatred is, because he will deny being a racist if he is given that label, and a lot of it he just picked up from his less-than-tolerant Southern upbringing ( and refuses to correct, since Chandler's most fatal flaw is his unwillingness to admit any wrongdoing ).

However, there's a really unsettling subtext to the fact that the Black Sonichu is the one being beaten by a mob of brighter-colored Sonichus. It's even worse when you consider Black Sonichu's origin-- he was literally cloned to serve Naitsirhc's evil whims, and has never been given the opportunity to exercise free will. He's simply doing what he has to in order to survive, since he would certainly be terminated if he disobeyed Naitsirhc. At least the Chaotic Combo use stun force instead of inflicting a killing blow, but they've still treated him as persona non grata, even though he doesn't have the power to fight off six copies of himself.

What's even more unintentionally disturbing is the fact that Chandler will eventually have Black Sonichu reform, but in doing so change his name to " BLAKE Sonichu ". Chandler allegedly did this to quash the accusations of racism, but the fact that he surrenders his color identity upon converting to " good " is a troubling coincidence. Of course, CWCVille isn't a place for diversity, because that would involve the introduction of new ideas. This is the paradise of a man who specifies that the woman who finally takes his virginity should be white-- as though he's in a position to be choosy about who will lower themselves to an unemployable man-child who lives with his parents and carries the stench of sweat, grease, and the Axe body spray that he uses as an alternative to bathing.

Oh, and if you thought that the racial implications of this chapter were bad enough, Chandler posts an mock advertisement for a hotline that lonely men can call for a free girlfriend. That CWCVille apparently has a state-sponsored prostitution service is bad enough, but for some reason, the ad says that if you call now, late, or early, you will instead get a monkey. This was probably an attempt at " random access humor ", using non sequitirs in lieu of actual jokes. At least I hope it is, because state-sponsored beastiality is even worse.

And now I go to take five consecutive showers before writing the next critical review, which is one of the dreaded Sub-Episodes...

* A character who doesn't appear to be outright plagiarized, meaning that he/she will have little to no page-time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sonichu Episode 10 Critical Review

Descent Into The Dark Heart of CWCVille

The " Sonichu Babies " story introduces an important fixture of the Sonichu storytelling engine-- the Chaotic Combo. If Sonichu is the avatar of Christian Weston Chandler's hopes and dreams, the man ( or electric hedgehog ) he wishes he could be, then the Chaotic Combo are his circle of friends. But they're not friends so much as groupies and imitators. The members of the Chaotic Combo are transparent copies of Sonichu, with color coding and minor traits being the only distinctions. They even carry " Sonichu " and " Rosechu " as surnames-- the origin story has them spawned from the same Chaos Energy rainbow that turned a Pikachu into Sonichu, refracted clones of the original.

It's suitable that a character who is already a plagiarized copy associate with characters who are themselves copies of him-- talking xeroxes so faded that Sonichu looks better by contrast.

But Chandler still maintains the delusion that he is creating a series that will be a merchandising phenomenon, as opposed to a complex psychodrama starring his baggage with guest appearances by bored internet trolls. So we get obligatory origin stories for each of the Chaotic Combo, starting with them as " Sonees " and " Rosees " ( the infant form of the Sonichu/Rosechu species, and a merchandising hook as transparent and nauseating as the Ewoks ). The distinctions between the stories are based on the colors and " elemental " characteristics of the copies, stealing from the rock-paper-scissors combat system that drives the Pokemon games. However, each story foreshadows the psychological horrors to come, as seen with...

-- Wild Sonichu, the green Grass male. We see a page of him in his baby Sonee form, toddling around and saying " Sonee " in an infantile tone. Since CWCVille is an inherently childish setting, the super-infantilized Sonee goes past being cute and into being nauseating, and even hideous. Fortunately for us, within the next page ( following an " Eventually " caption "* )

-- Bubbles Rosechu, the blue Water female. She is adopted by a female Swampert Pokemon, and stumbles around in her Rosee form until a whale suddenly appears to drop a boulder upon her new mother. Bubbles immediately matures and rescues the Swampert. Bubbles doesn't really develop any character despite being another female and the blue part of the rainbow group, but the Boulder-Dropping Whale becomes a fan-favorite. The incidental characters in Sonichu gained a following as a means to spite Chandler and his main cast-- a webcomic called " Moon Pals " was even made to chronicle their adventures. Unfortunately, the Boulder-Dropping Whale failed in his noble mission to exterminate the Rosee spawn and her protector.

-- Angelina Rosechu, the white Flying female. She is adopted by a convent of nuns and is raised to be a devout Catholic electric hedgehog. The fact that nuns are traditionally chaste and do not approve of pre-marital sex makes her presence in the coming comics hypocritically hilarious.

-- Punchy Sonichu, the red Fighting male. He is raised in a dojo by a sensei who makes a lot of " random access humor " references. This term is what Chandler uses to refer to his style of comedy, which consists of random non sequitirs. Chandler is a huge fan of Family Guy and the Adult Swim cartoons, which are about as mature as his tastes go. While " edgier " than traditional Western Saturday morning cartoons, they still reflect an immature mindset, using cartoon characters to do shocking and random things. They tend not to have any meaningful characterization or narrative structure, and treat concepts like sex and excrement as new and shocking. Except when they do it, it can actually be funny-- Chandler's " random access " is truly random, and just comes across as forced and obnoxious.

-- Magi-Chan Sonichu, the purple Psychic male. He is raised in isolation to focus his psionic powers, observing human culture from outside media. This is an excellent approximation of the way Chandler understands the world, learning of mature concepts through scatological late-night cartoons, morality from children's hero shows, and relationships from romantic comedies and internet porn.

If I seem like I'm rushing through this, it's because the narrative structure here does the same-- we are given the supporting copies of Sonichu, we are given token backstories in the pretense that they are independent characters, and then we are forced to move on. But remaining to flesh out the Chaotic Combo would mean that this is an organic narrative that fleshes out its characters. And Sonichu isn't about trivial things such as " plot " and " characters "-- they're just the flimsy foundation of Chandler's refuge from reality. And once his infantile utopia is besieged by the outside world....well, that's when things get interesting.

* The time frame for this is ambiguous; how long did it take for these characters to mature? The original Sonichu and Rosechu evolved from mature Pokemon forms, but these characters started as infants, yet immediately matured to adulthood. Unless time flows differently in separate regions of CWCVille...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The New Avengers Cartoon, And Why I Love Voice Actors

Even more than live actors, voice actors get around....with different roles, that is. And it never ceases to entertain me how many different characters can be attached to a voice actor, especially one with a distinctive voice. For example, with the new Avengers cartoon...

The Jarvis AI ( Phil Lamarr ) is also Vamp, the bisexual, flamenco-dancing, nigh-unkillable villain from Metal Gear Solids 2 and 4. Presumably, he's planning to hijack the Iron Man suit so he can go down on the Avengers Mansion's silverware.

Rhodey ( Bumper Robinson ) is Bumblebee from the Transformers Animated show. I really hope he'll call Tony " Boss-Bot " at some point.

The Wasp ( Colleen O'Shaughnessey ) is Konohamaru, the tag-a-long kid from Naruto. Aside from the different genders, they're equally annoying and largely useless.

The Black Widow ( Vanessa Marshall ) is Irwin, the nerdy sidekick from the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. Hail Hydra, yo!

The Red Skull ( Steve Blum ) is, amongst other characters, Leeron, the flamboyantly homosexual tech guy from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. He certainly gave the Third Reich a hard, manly twist.

Amora the Enchantress ( Kari Wahlgren ) is, amongst others, Haruko Haruhara, guitar-slinging space-wacko from the dub of the even wackier anime FLCL ( Fooly Cooly ). And lo, was Midgard besieged by a pox of vespas..

Dr. Leonard Samson ( Cam Clarke ) is Liquid Snake from the first Metal Gear Solid. Hopefully the gamma treatment will compensate for his DAMNED INFERIOR GENES!

Any others?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sonichu Sub-Episode 3 Critical Review: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Explaining The Joke, Here

....a Dean of Student Affairs at the Piedmont Virginia Community College*, by the name of Mary Lee Walsh, is confronted with a student creating a problem. The student, one Christian Weston Chandler, is soliciting newsletters based on his plagiarized children's comic strip that explicitly ask for a boyfriend-free girl, and publicly carrying a sign doing the same. The dean sees him as a public nuisance at the lowest, but since the dean is also a member of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, perhaps she suspects something worse about this creepy little student.

So the dean reprimands the student and tells him to stop spamming the campus with his desperation. But the student ignores her warning and continues to carry his " Attraction Sign " and distribute his " Sonichu's News Dash " papers. The dean, obviously annoyed by her authority being ignored, calls the student into her office, and orders him to stop. She uses very blunt but accurate language, saying that the student would never get a girlfriend this or any other way. He angrily screams at her, but all it does is get him expelled for a year.

But the dean doesn't hear the last of the student. The student works the dean into his plagiarized children's comic strip as an evil witch, who spends her spare time plotting against love itself. The student, on the other hand, is reinvented as the hero who fights for the sake of love. After a tense** fight, she is defeated when the hero teams up with his plagiarized cartoon " son ", pooling their powers together for a massive energy blast that defeats her. For now.

But it doesn't end there. While the dean doesn't dignify the student with a response, the group of internet users devoted to following the student's terrible life and work take note. And seeing the badly drawn image of the evil witch Mary Lee Walsh, they interpret her golden helmet as a shock of blonde hair with horns, and draw her as a sexy succubus. Some fan stories even cast her as a heroine, fighting against the corrupt regime of the student's ego-based imaginary town.

So the elderly dean of a southern US community college, simply by doing her job, becomes turned into an online sex symbol that doubles as a troll symbol. And here's the punchline...

This isn't a joke. All this shit actually happened.

And nothing I say can top that.

* You can find the full story here; yes, an entire Wiki has become devoted to Chandler's failures.
** If by " Tense ", you mean " badly drawn Pokemon moves followed by Mary Lee Walsh tapping Chris-Chan Sonichu on his neck, causing him to revert back to Chris-Chan in the dumbest weakness since Thor turning back to mortal Dr. Don Blake if he lets go of his hammer for 60 seconds ", then yes, it was quite " tense ".
*** Courtesy of Sonichu Finale, one of many entertaining fan works that redeem Chandler's " creations " with good writing and art. And one of many fan works replete with Metal Gear Solid references.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sonichu Episode 9 Critical Review: Dark Graduation

Psychological Hang-Ups The Way You Like Them Here

The Chris-Chan/Sarah Hammer/Wes Iseli love triangle continues this issue, as Christian Weston Chandler continues to bend time and space towards a favorable reality. And in doing so, he introduces the arch-villain of Sonichu, Count Graduon, whose name is a reference to Christian Weston Chandler's high school graduation.

The fact that a story about one man's refusal to grow up and take responsibility for his life would have a villain named after a rite of passage into an adulthood is stupefyingly appropriate.

Count Graduon is represented as a purple staff containing an evil spirit-- the Cherokee and Wasabi clans apparently teamed up to banish him to an inanimate prison. While the symbolism inserted by Chandler doesn't go further than the name, the meaning attached to Graduon runs much deeper, like everything else about Sonichu. Graduon is a perfect representation of the personal and cosmic forces that Chandler believes oppose him; while he has a name, he does not have a body. He is a force that is attached to an inanimate object. But he directs the efforts against Chandler, coordinating efforts of the Jerkops, Mary Lee Walsh, and the other " trolls " who deny Chandler immediate pleasure and ask him to do things that might cause pain.

The symbolism is even more telling ( and horrifying ) due to what Chandler attributes to his high school graduation. He sees it as the turning point in his life, the point where things started to go downhill. Chandler has said that he expected to receive an award for his art at the ceremony, and when he didn't, he started crying. It is certainly understandable that a young person, especially a socially awkward one who'd been coddled by his parents due to his " special needs " labeling**, would become visibly upset if they did not receive the recognition they felt due. However, the disappointments in our life are the moments where we are given opportunity to show our true strength. At that moment, Chandler could have,

A.) Done what every person ( autistic or not ) has to do, intellectually accept that life isn't fair, and try to make the best of his situation, or

B.) Create a comic strip universe inhabited by childhood heroes where he is treated like the very special flower he wants to believe he is, and refuse to leave there.

Guess which one he did? Instead of pushing back against the circumstances of graduation, Chandler DID bottle them up in a cartoon super-villain, and constrict their overt activities to sending giant golem monsters after CWCVille. Except that adulthood is too big a concept to be adequately summarized as a single bad guy, shaped like a glowing purple dildo***.

But that's the unwitting central conflict of Sonichu-- Chandler tries to create a paradise where adult problems become manageable villains, but only creates more problems for himself as he tries to simplify/ignore his challenges. The triangle between Chris-Chan, Sarah Hammer, and Wes Iseli is another example; Sarah dumps Wes for attacking her " best friend ", and teams up with Chris-Chan to fight Graduon's monster. But Wes is still around, acting mopey and hopeless until Chris tells him to snap out of it ( because Chris-Chan's ephemeral infatuations are apparently a worse loss than Wes actually being dumped by a woman with whom he was in an adult relationship ). And after the battle, when the two take a taxi home****, Chris-Chan makes a point of " being there " for Sarah, listening to her talk and playing the best friend ( while obviously waiting for her to jump his bones ) only to find that she still regards him as nothing more than a friend. Because being honest about his feelings would be a risk for Chris-Chan, and CWCVille is a place which is supposed to be free of risks-- even if that keeps Chris-Chan from the female contact he so badly wants.

The sad part is that is that Chandler ends the chapter with a tribute to the real world Sarah Hammer, his childhood friend. Uncharacteristically, he's actually acknowledging the good times they had together as kids, and mentioning specific instances that he fondly remembered. This is emotion that evokes a genuine feeling of loss, untainted the sexual frustration that warps everything else in Sonichu. It's also a reminder that underneath his outer shell of childhood trappings and adolescent libido, there are redeeming qualities that remain in Christian Weston Chandler. Of course, every time they surface, he immediately buries them under more outlandish behavior, and never learns any lessons.

* Who I'll get to in the review of the next sub-episode.

** There isn't a hell painful enough for Bob and Barbara Chandler, whose enabling of Chris catastrophically ruined a child who had as much chance of success as any. It's known that Chandler's mother buys his clothes for him, and speculated that she picks those ridiculous clown colors so that he'll appear more " special " and thus won't face adult repercussions for his actions. It's also known that Chandler's father encourages him to remain on welfare for disability, despite a lack of any known impairments that couldn't be corrected by a tall glass of Grow The Fuck Up. Chandler at least garners pity; these people are simply reprehensible.

*** This is one of many things that makes Chandler's homophobia doubly hilarious.

**** In a badly drawn taxi so lopsided that it could never roll in a straight line. Like Greg Land, Chandler's drawings liberally borrow/plagiarize from other sources; unlike Greg Land, he can't even copy his references accurately.

Ruby's World Happy Halloween Cosplay, 2010!

For two years I've been doing my webcomic Ruby's World, and for the second time in a row, I've done a Halloween cosplay image, with my characters dressed as other characters from comics and animations. In order, they are..

-- Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story characters, a character who ( in the first film anyway ) is troubled by his artificial nature. This was a deliberately idiosyncratic choice, to reflect not just Opal's lack of social awareness, but her flexible gender as well ).

-- The original Wolverine from the 70's Hulk, wearing a costume which might be construed as badass, but is more likely completely ridiculous ( much like Jens' personal conflicts ).

-- Rei Ayanami from the landmark anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, an extremely quiet and isolated girl with a mysterious nature ( Rei's was revealed in extremely unsettling fashion; Alexis' has yet to be divulged. Yet. )

-- Solid Snake from the peerless Metal Gear Solid series of video games, a cloned super-soldier whose traumatic life has left him emotionally discombobulated and extremely cold, and whose stealth catsuit attire makes grown men question their heterosexuality. I'm not sure if the latter has been true regarding Jiro, but if any readers have had that experience, I won't judge.

-- Cally Calhoun from the recently launched webcomic Spy6teen, written by Tim Simmons, with art by DJ Keawekane, colors by Lisa Moore, letters by Brant Fowler, and story edits by D.J. Kirkbride. Starring another seemingly ordinary teen girl given super-powers and thrust into a larger conspiracy, with red hair to boot. The comic hasn't been around long, but it has such a high level of technical craft and collaborative skill that it deserves the shout-out. It updates weekly Here.

I'll also be bringing more major news regarding Ruby's World and its upcoming new direction. And more Sonichu reviews, of course. It works to my advantage that I put news about my comic following my Sonichu reviews, because no matter what I put out, it will seem like pure genius compared to Christian Weston Chandler's creative abortions.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sonichu Episode 8 Critical Review: Fail is a Triangle

This is where the horror starts

In this episode of the Anchuent Prophecy Saga, we are introduced to Sarah Hammer and Wes Iseli, more characters who are based on real people. Sarah is Christian Weston Chandler's childhood friend, who he lost touch with after age 10. Wes Iseli is her boyfriend, which makes him CWCVille Public Enemy #1. Both of them also have ancient destinies dating back to the era of the Cherokian Clan; Sarah's ancestor was the wife of Chris-Chan's ancestor, while Wes' predecessor was head of the rival Wasabi Clan. Sarah's ancestor at least looks somewhat like a Native American woman, if you can call a blonde-haired blue-eyed white girl in Pocahontas cosplay " Native American ". Wes' Wasabi Clan ancestor, however, just looks like a Pope in orange.

In short; this is an alternate history where the Cherokee were Caucasians who wore Greco-Roman gold armor, wrote in Hieroglyphics, and were the arch-enemies of a clan who dressed like Catholic clergy and took their name from a spicy condiment in Japanese cuisine. This is either an extremely clever mixing of world cultures, or an extremely lazy handling of the author's thin sliver of Cherokee blood. I'm tending to believe it's the latter-- call me crazy if you want.

Stories dealing with ancestral destiny usually tend to have the characters question the old ways, and try to forge their own futures. This scenario implies that the characters ( and authors ) question the seemingly conventional wisdom placed before them. This, of course, is not how Chandler handles it. Instead, he takes the forces of destiny within his story and uses them to ensure that he will defeat Wes in the battle for Sarah's heart. The extent to which Chandler carries this is almost ingenious, creating a set of circumstances that rob both Sarah and Wes of any agency without denying them the pretense of free will.

This is a love triangle with the powers that be balanced squarely against Wes' point, even more than they favor Chris-Chan. If Wes were to win Sarah back, he would have to...

A.) Not be tied to the losing side of history. Presumably the entire Wasabi clan was wiped out, without even any survivors on CWCville-sponsored reservations. Wes says that their clan cried Trails of Tears* over losing claim to the Cherokian Crown, suggesting that in this alternate history the Cherokee were the ones to commit genocide against the Wasabi, via forced exile. Wes is Jacob Black, forever fated to watch with a broken heart and a bluish scrotum as his true love goes for the Cullens, the thoroughly European vampires that eradicated his race.

B.) Find a different arena in which to compete with Chris-Chan. In the real world, Wes has the clear advantage as a prospective mate, since he's a self-employed magician available for any festivities, as opposed to being, well, Christian Weston Chandler. But in CWCVille, the measure of a man's superiority is their ability to fight with the ancient martial art of " Being an Anthropomorphic Hedgehog ". In this realm, Wes-Li Sonichu is just a copy of Chris-Chan Sonichu ( himself a copy of Sonichu, who of course is a copy of Sonic and Pikachu ). And since Chris-Chan can bend the rules of time and space so that a Yu-Gi-Oh playing card actually becomes a dangerous trap, any extra skills that Wes may or may not have are moot.

C.) Not show any pretense that he wants to keep his girlfriend. While Sarah and Wes have since split up ( though Wes is currently married ), they were a couple at the time this comic was drawn, with Chandler looking on jealously. In Sonichu's universe, Chris' fixation on wanting to fuck his friend from elementary school is him being the hapless nice guy, while Wes wanting to keep this stranger with no capacity to move on is him being a controlling, jeaous boyfriend. Wes' words are twisted into a pledge of world domination, while Chris-Chan is in his own words, " pouring my heart about how I care for my best friend, while you did into your pot of greed **". Even Sarah's opinion is twisted into finding Chris-Chan's crush, one that persisted for the many years that the two were apart ( including all of puberty ) sweet and flattering.

D.) Treat Christian Weston Chandler with the credit he is due as a romantic rival. I.E. none, under normal circumstances. But " normal circumstances " are never something you expect within Chandler's mind...

* It's actually offensive that Chandler was familiar with the word, but didn't even bother to Google it to see that it referenced the government-sponsored murder of thousands of humans, not the invented heritage of a white boy who wants to be special.
** I have to give Chandler credit here-- he's great at delivering melodrama so overly bad that it's good. Were he translating video games in the late 1990's, he would have found a calling as the Master of Unlocking.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sonichu Episode 7 Critical Review

Click here for the strip

One of the most important points I want to make in this series is that Christian Weston Chandler isn't just an isolated freak. All of his bizarre theories and hang-ups can be found in other people, both neurotypical and autistic, and especially in internet fandoms. Chandler is just a special case because he's cut himself so completely off from everything BUT his hobbies and his neuroses, so they inbreed and mutate into the compelling train wreck that is Sonichu.

Case in point: The Anchuent* Prophecy introduced in Episode 7. This is where Sonichu is literally replaced by Chris-Chan as the star of the comic, and where Chris-Chan's grand purpose within CWCVille is revealed. Chris-Chan is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, a Mary Sue character, an author avatar created in an idealized image. And he has all the typical traits of a Mary Sue. The story is devoted to proving that Christian Weston Chandler is a very special flower.

The plot involves Sonichu finding an ancient tomb in the CWCVille woods guarded by a mysterious old man. He brings it to Chris-Chan's attention, and while reading the heiroglyphics, Chris-Chan meets the ghost of his Cherokee ancestor. Chris is granted the power of Chris-Chan Sonichu-- this is the origin of his transformation in Sub-Episode 1, where he renders his flagship character completely and utterly irrelevant.

You can practically use Chris-Chan Sonichu as a textbook case for the Mary Sue, a character found in awful writing everywhere. Let's use the ;TVTropes checklist of Common Mary Sue Traits

-- Chris-Chan is portrayed as pure and incorruptible. All of the denizens of CWCVille, human or hedgehog, love their mayor. His only weakness is his inability to get a girlfriend, but Chandler presents his avatar's romantic woes as the result of the cruel world in which he lives. Hanna toyed with him because she was a bitch, and his attempts to find a mate at the mall were only hindered by the Jerkop conspiracy.

-- Chris-Chan is all-powerful. The Anchuent Power that his ancestor bestows upon him isn't defined, so he's basically in God Mode. The Curse-Ye-Ha-Me-Ha is powerful enough to warp reality against someone's welfare. Like the Scarlet Witch in recent years of Avengers comics, Chris-Chan's power can do anything except get him the kind of relationship he wants, which causes his descent into madness. Except that the Scarlet Witch wants her dead children back instead of just getting laid, and is actually treated as criminally insane. Perhaps the next Sonichu issue will have Chris-Chan declare " No More Boyfriends " and make himself the only male on Earth. Even then it wouldn't do him any good.

-- Chris-Chan is striking and uniquely handsome in his appearance. Granted, this is entirely in the context of the comic, where everyone's proportions warp and weft based on how much or how little time Chandler spent on the panel. But he's got a unique wadrobe, gaudy jewelry, and special eyes. In real life, Chandler has mild heterochromia, with one eye colored slightly differently than the other. But in the comic they're sapphire blue and emerald green, further proof that Chris-Chan is a Very Special Flower.

-- Chris-Chan is the hero of the story thanks to the powers of destiny. In fact, the Cherokee heritage that empowers Chris-Chan makes him so important that he can retroactively change the entire culture to suit his own whims. In Sonichu, the " Cherokian Clan " consists of Caucasians in gold armor and purple silk, who have recorded their Empire in ancient tombs with Heiroglyphics. Plenty of Americans claim that the slight sliver of Cherokee heritage in their genetics makes them special, allowing them to identify as Native American as much or as little as they want-- and it invariably becomes " as little " when it's dealing with the circumstances forced upon actual Cherokees. Chris-Chan takes it even further, identifying fully with his Cherokee heritage by completely disregarding any and all traits of actual Cherokee culture. He doesn't even use common Native American stereotypes, like feathered head-dresses or communion with nature ( unless you count deformed hedgehogs as nature ).

The upside to this is that Chris-Chan's identification with Native American culture isn't stereotypical, so much as just outright stupid. The only people who should be offended by the Ancient Chief of the Cherokian Clan are fans of Yu-Gi-Oh, since Chris-Chan basically stole the Ancient Egypitan backstory, and thus people who watch Yu-Gi-Oh or play the card game will forever have the image of Christian Weston Chandler tainting their fandom.

-- Chris-Chan is literally modelled after his creator. The literal aspect makes what is strongly implied by other fanfic insert characters a direct statement. And since people from Chandler's real life will be introduced next chapter, it gets even more of a ridiculous attempt to skew the world to the author's whims...

* Pronounced " An- CHU- Ent Prophecy ", though most people assumed it was just a misspelling, like 90% of other words Chandler types.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sonichu Sub-Episode 2 Critical Review: How to Lose a Girl in Zero Seconds

The madness starts here, click on the images to proceed

Aaand now we go back to the " classic " Sonichu, the style that obscures its plagiarism with its warped recounting of Christian Weston Chandler's personal problems. The second sub-episode recounts another installment in Chris-Chan's Love Quest. While loitering at the mall ( apparently having cursed the Jerkops away this time ), eating his eight daily Chicken McNuggets and waiting for a girl to come up to him, a girl DOES come up to him. A blonde woman named Hanna** invites him for coffee, and while is able to maintain his composure enough to agree, he leaps for joy against a rainbow background* while declaring his Love Quest over. Chris' hedgehog friends are equally happy to see Chris share his Sonichu-themed world with Hanna. However, Rosechu overhears Hanna gloating over the phone to her friends about how fun it is to yank Chris' chain, and immediately tells Chris. Chris confronts Hanna, and upon finding this to be true, screams a massive no as his heart level is reduced to 15%. " ***Fortunately " for Hanna, he's willing to send Hanna an email telling her that he forgives her and is still open to the possibility of them dating.

At first glance this seems to be another affirmation of Chris-Chan's virtues, painting him as the victim with the woman rejecting him portrayed as a manipulative harpy. This actually happened to Chandler in real life, and the only substantial difference in the fictionalization's plot is that Rosechu tells Chris the truth, instead of a " gal-pal ". The real-world Hanna is actually as cruel as Chandler makes her out to be; however, the event reveals the faults in Chris' dating methods, and how he unwittingly sets himself up for this sort of trolling time and time again.

For somebody who wants a girlfriend so badly, Chandler has done tremendously little to actually learn how he should best go about finding a mate. The sub-episode's altered reality only serves to highlight Chandler's willful ignorance and subsequently warped perspective, because...

A.) Chris-Chan doesn't get involved with any outside activities during his Love Quest. The most he's done to put himself out there is to loiter in a public place. And even then he's just waiting to be noticed, eating his eight McNuggets and playing his DS.

B.) Chris-Chan puts all his expectations into every girl he meets. This is hard for most single people to control, but most of them intellectually realize that relationships do take time to build. Chris immediately-- and literally, in the most homo-erotic way possible-- jumps to the conclusion that he's found his soulmate right after an initial coffee date is arranged.

C.) Chris-Chan doesn't reflect on whether any of his behaviors are socially acceptable. What is documented of Chandler in real life shows that his fashion sense and conversation style are EXACTLY what we see here. He regularly wears a shirt resembling Ernie from Sesame Street, he brings up Sonichu in every conversation, and he spams all of his personal effects with the plagiarized kid show mash-up. There are plenty of geeky men who are able to attract women, but they are aware that their interests aren't necessarily socially acceptable, and are able to poke fun at themselves. Chandler doesn't even think this far. If Chandler could give himself an honest assessment, he'd realize that the gaudy Sonichu medallion he wears is more effective than any chastity belt, and a woman who comes up to him with a sudden invitation is probably trolling.

D.) Most damningly, Chris-Chan doesn't leave his own little world, even when trying to embrace others. He " practices " dating by playing Sprung, a DS dating simulation. He's trying to take real-life advice from a video game designed for entertainment purposes only. Perhaps he was drawn to this because it was available for the DS handheld, meaning he didn't have to leave his comfort zone. But instead of using the advice of real friends and family, self-help books, or even reality shows like " Blind Date " , Chandler goes for a low-quality*** dating sim. It's also worth noting that Hanna only gets one line of dialogue when they're getting to know each other, saying that she's a fan of Fight Club director " Chuck Paladuck ". First of all, it's Chuck Palahniuk, and secondly, he wrote the original NOVEL that inspired the book; the movie was directed by David Fincher. Apparently Chandler wasn't paying attention to what she was saying, and was too lazy to use Wikipedia as a fact check.

Chandler actually captures the truth in this installment-- that any human female who enters his candy-colored atavistic world and isn't his mother is probably screwing with him. But his intention was to set himself up as the innocent victim, not the clueless sucker.

* Chandler went back and editted this image. The new version is a significant improvement, as it looks cleaner and more consistent, and doesn't exaggerate further than even a cartoony style will allow. Mind you, it's still crude and childish, just less so. Why Chandler chose this image and not others in the strip is probably because of the homo-erotic symbolism attached to rainbows, which he couldn't reconcile with his vicious homophobia.
** Chandler also retconned the names to distance them from real people, as per the advice of a troll pretending to be Nintendo R&D head Shigeru Miyamoto. In the modified version, " Hanna " is " Fandanna ". Everything else is the same, including her spherical Peanuts-gang head.
*** Even putting aside the ridiculousness of measuring his romantic feelings in a " Heart Level ", Chris-Chan apparently thinks that being rejected by a girl you knew all of a few hours is heartbreaking.
**** GameRankings Aggregate Score for Sprung: 48%. But being a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, a game being completely terrible never stopped Chandler from buying it, yes?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sonichu Episodes 4-6 Review: The Black Sonichu Saga And The Vestigial Remnants of Sonic

Read Here

I'm reviewing " the Black Sonichu Saga " as one lump installment because, frankly, there's not much to say here. This is still the point where Chris-Chan's Caligula-like reign over CWCVille doesn't totally dominate Sonichu, and as such, the stories can be read as just another awful fanfic crossover, instead of a surreal documentation of Christian Weston Chandler's ongoing nervous breakdown. Everything here is plagiarized; Black Sonichu is an inferior copy of Shadow the Hedgehog, himself a transparently grim-and-gritty copy of Sonic the Hedgehog. His construction was a joint effort by the Pokemon villain Giovanni ( leader of Team Rocket ), and Sonic's arch-nemesis Dr. Robotnik. His black shade is explained as accidental, as his creator Bill the Scientist spilled Cherry Cola over the Sonichu DNA.*

So yeah, there's no gripping narrative here, intentional or not. The swindled Sonic and Pokemon villains make an evil Sonichu clone, said evil Sonichu clone kidnaps Rosechu, Sonichu and Sonic the Hedgehog ( also swindled from his copyrighted environment ) team up to fight Black Sonichu and Metal Sonichu ( a derivative of Metal Sonic, another evil Sonic doppelganger ). The day is saved, with Black Sonichu defeated, Metal Sonichu retreating to the moon, and Rosechu getting to have girl talk with Amy Rose.

Christian Weston Chandler has repeatedly tried to counter accusations of plagiarism by saying that Sonichu is a parody. But this isn't making fun of Sonic or Pokemon, or even using them to try and make some sort of point. This is just a poorly written, poorly drawn regurgitation of those series' formulas. The worst fact is that even though both Sonic and Pokemon have comic adaptations, Chandler chose to plagiarize from the animated medias, the games and the cartoons. He has no grasp of sequential storytelling; he uses massive text walls to dump information upon his readers, and those salvos of Comic Sans MS usually don't even have full figures attached-- he cheats and has the speaker be a severed head floating in white space. He takes on the Pokemon style of having characters scream the names of their moves while they attack, but instead of utilizing the page space for dramatic angles, Chandler crams the action into little panels the size and ( poorly approximated ) shape of a Game Boy screen. Presumably he doesn't use a ruler, or even use the line tool in Photoshop to create borders.

The only thematic value the " Black Sonichu Saga " has is that Black Sonichu becomes a major character later on, and there's some interest in having the original Sonic the Hedgehog meet his his hideous half-Pokemon counterpart. To Chandler's credit, Sonichu holds up okay as a character when compared to his inspiration. Of course, given how Sonic's games have been infected by superfluous and uninspired supporting characters over the past decade or so, that's not a compliment to Chandler so much as an insult to Sega. Were he divorced from Chandler's problems, Sonichu would fit right in with Amy Rose, Shadow, Big the Cat, Silver the Hedgehog, Rouge the Bat, Cream the Rabbit, and any number of other annoying spin-offs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sonichu Sub-Episode 1 Critical Review: Magically Realistic

Here Begins the Jerkop-Tastrophe

The Sonichu Sub-Episodes are where the Christian Weston Chandler phenomenon truly starts. Initially they were categorized outside of the main Sonichu chronology because they did not actually involve Sonichu-- they instead dealt with Chandler himself, and focused on his own trials and tribulations. Yet they did so within the Sonichu continuity-- Chandler's avatar, the mayor of CWCVille, was the one experiencing his author's problems, and responding to them with fictional solutions.

These stories were in large part why people became fascinated with Sonichu-- not just because of the absurdity of Chris-Chan's stories, but the fact that the absurdity was accentuated in direct contrast with Chandler's real life. The premise of the first sub-promise has Chris-Chan hanging out at the mall, making himself " available " for any girl who wants to be his true love. However, a " Jerkop " ( Chandler's not-so-subtle reference to local mall security, a portmanteau of jerk and cop ) tells him to stop loitering and accuses him of loitering.

Now, This Actually Happened in the Charlottesville Fashion Square during September of 2004, where Chandler was disciplined and eventually banned for loitering. What's more, Chandler was reportedly more active in his real-world Love Quest, by throwing out a red construction paper heart attached to a string towards eligible women. After months of being a public nuisance at best and a sexual harasser at worst, Chandler received what is definitely an appropriate consequence for his actions. But through the power of fiction, Chandler has created an alternate reality in which events occurred somewhat differently.

" Somewhat differently " being an understatement. In the comic, the Jerkop is an evil authoritarian devoted to squelching Chris-Chan's love quest, out of an apparent disdain for love itself. When he tries to detain the love-questing loiter, Chris-Chan activates the power of his Sonichu medallion* and transforms into Chris-Chan Sonichu, a blue version of his " son ". The Jerkop transforms into an armored warrior, but is not only defeated by Chris, but utterly ruined. Chris-Chan uses his " Curse-Ye-Ha-Me-Ha " attack ( inspired by the Kame-Ha-Me-Ha move from the Dragon Ball Z manga and anime ) to infect the Jerkop with bad luck; immediately after the spell is cast, the Jerkop trips over a banana peel, breaks his glasses, and receives a phone call telling him that his wife has left with the kids and all their possessions. The Jerkop cries " My Soul Hurts "; Chris-Chan, however, comments that he's endured worse than losing one's family and fortunes-- the " shattering of his heart ". Because being stopped from soliciting is just that terrible.

The Sub-Episode sets the precedent for the genre in which Sonichu actually belongs; rather than a fantasy adventure for kids, it's a piece of magical realism. The fantastical elements linger around Chris-Chan's experiences without being treated as remarkable. Unlike most science fiction, the Sonichu webcomic does not try to explain its fantastical elements, or even set itself apart as a unique universe. Chris-Chan's world is just Christian Weston Chandler's world embellished to lead to a friendlier environment with potentially favorable outcomes.

Certainly this was not the intention of Chandler; he just wanted to work out his frustrations with his Crayola supplies, and used his " franchise " to do so. But in his catastrophic failure to tell a decent genre story, Chandler has hit upon the rich tradition of magical realism, seen mainly ( but not exclusively ) in Latin American literature. Authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Sherman Alexie, and the Hernandez brothers have all written stories that use an ambiguously surreal landscape to reflect the human condition. Christian Weston Chandler joins this tradition, drawing upon his stunted maturity and warped perspective on dating to diffuse the boundaries between our shared reality and his own personal worldview. Except instead of dealing with ghosts and angels, his expansion of consciousness gives us electric hedgehogs and anti-love conspiracies.

If you don't believe me, read Junot Diaz's recent magical realism masterpiece, the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao! It, too deals with a romantically frustrated twentysomething fan who can't find a girlfriend because of a curse within his Dominican family's heritage. Since Chris-Chan works his tiny sliver of Cherokee heritage into Sonichu as a major plot point, you can read his story as a Charlottesville, VA variant of the " Fuku ". Granted, Diaz actually succeeded in what he intended to do, but postmodernism knows no boundaries.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sonichu Episode 3 Critical Review: Eternal President of the Republic of CWCVille

Witness the Work for your Self

Sonichu Episode 3 is an interesting transitional episode, marking the point where Sonichu stops being a children's adventure story and starts becoming the final stand for Christian Weston Chandler's besieged youth. On the one hand, it has a very clear good vs. evil plot, with the villainous Naitsirch ( Christian spelled backwards ) trying to kidnap Pokemon-- a standard plot for the show that contains half of Sonichu's conceptual DNA. On the other hand, it is the full introduction of the stage upon which Sonichu is set-- CWCVille, the city where Chris-Chan is mayor, and holds his office in the shopping mall.

Fan works regarding Sonichu often treat CWCVille as a totalitarian state, dominated by the promotion of its dictator's ego. Later issues of Sonichu will justify this, but for now CWCVille is a haven where Chris-Chan is treated with respect-- he's a benevolent authority figure who has the townsfolk's respect, even if the townsfolk are mostly mutant hedgehogs. But this is also the debut for Chris-Chan's major character arc-- his " love quest ". Chris-Chan is absolutely obsessed with finding a girlfriend, and treats the search for a relationship as a Herculean ordeal. Ironically, at this point he can't find a mate, even within a fictional world of his own creation. But his " son " Sonichu is there to give Chris-Chan words of encouragement. Even though Sonichu's thought balloons show that he doesn't really believe Chris-Chan will be successful, he still admires his creator's courage for continually trying.

At this point, Chris-Chan knows he is not the hero who gets the girl, but the sad sack nice guy who can't get past the " friend zone ". He uses the comic as a means of coping with this problem, by having the hero to whom he aspires validating him. Even though Sonichu calls Chris-Chan " father ", he's more of a good big brother figure here; Chris-Chan watches how Sonichu and Rosechu interact, and he sees the kind of relationship he thinks he should have. It's similar to a sick child seeing an actor dressed as their favorite cartoon character as part of a Make-a-Wish event, and having the actor tell the kid how important they are. Except that Chris-Chan is A.) a grown man and B.) has no serious illnesses.

Sonichu's relationship with Rosechu is another important development here, showcasing what Chandler believes a man-woman relationship should be. Rosechu exhibits every female gender stereotype in existence-- she wears pink, she shops to the point of running up a massive credit card debt, she has Sonichu lug her purchases around like a pack mule, and she's completely useless in an actual fight. This is a common phenomenon in boys' adventure stories, where we are told that the female is just as tough as the guys, but she never actually proves it ( at risk of upstaging the men ). Believe me when I say that the hypocrisy here is NOT an isolated incident for Sonichu; most of the perverse appeal of Sonichu comes from Chandler's extremely twisted conception of " women's rights ". The hypocrisy of trying to telling us that the main heroine is effective while showing her as helpless without her man is just the beginning.

But the story here is still a story that, hypothetically, could be taken as a straight adventure comic. Granted, it would be an adventure comic well below professional standards, due to the unique storytelling methods chandler employs. Chandler makes countless amateur mistakes; he uses Comic Sans MS as a font, his pages are infected with white space, and his panel borders are crudely drawn by hand. This isn't even beginning to describe the many errors present with his anatomy, perspective, reference material, and basic consistency. But since I'm analyzing Sonichu as a postmodern artistic statement for the sake of this academic exercise, I think it serves the story. The childish, Crayola-colored visuals accentuate the fact that CWCVille is an adult-free Neverland, and they make the instances where more mature issues slip in even more jarring.

Sonichu Episode 2 Critical Review: The OTP Syndrome, Electric Hedgehog Style

Sonichu Episode 2 continues to set up the world of CWCVille, and while it's still relatively benign in its content, it predicts the relationship dynamics that would help make Sonichu an ironic favorite. What's unfortunate is that the " chemistry " between Sonichu and Rosechu is NOT a problem exclusive to Christian Weston Chandler's personal problems.

Like most Sonichu stories, the plot of episode 2 is about as deep as a wet piece of paper. While looking for food for his new, larger body, Sonichu realizes that he's lonely and needs a mate. At that exact moment, Rosechu walks by and Sonichu is immediately smitten. Later, Rosechu is talking with her Pokemon trainer Kel about how she needs a mate; they are conveniently interrupted by Sonichu arriving at the door. Not in the least bit perturbed by Sonichu having followed her home, Rosechu invites Sonichu in for dinner. A few days later, Sonichu and Rosechu look at the night sky together, exchange some truly awkward confessions of love, and kiss.

There is no conflict in Sonichu and Rosechu's relationship, even when they first meet. Their personalities complement each other and their goals are identical. The entire basis for the coupling is because Chandler considers them the One True Pairing. After all, Chandler is as much fan as creator, so if he wants to live vicariously through Sonichu, he'll make sure that the character has what Chandler considers an ideal relationship-- one based on " true love " and not any shared interests or experience.

Almost everything in Sonichu is lifted from other sources, and Rosechu is no different-- she is based on Amy Rose, the pink female hedgehog from the Sonic series. However, while Amy is smitten with Sonic, Sonic has never returned Amy's affections-- in canon, at least. Their dynamic is very much like a gender-flipped Pepe Le Pew cartoon, and Sonic's only kindness towards Amy is being willing to save her life when her stalkerish activities put her in danger. In other words, the canon Sonic/Amy dynamic is a relationship meant for comedy. But Chandler is just one of several fans who see an actual relationship between the two, with Sonic eventually returning the affections. In Chandler's " adaptation ", the variants of Sonic and Amy do not have any dramatic tension interfering with their romance. That they have romance is enough.

Any fandom will have readers who view the stories in context of the relationships, and wether or not they fit the reader's individual tastes a la a bingo game. They need not even have any basis in canon, and often don't; Sonic has the aforementioned Sonic/Amy, Avatar: The Last Airbender has Kitara/Zuko*, and Metal Gear Solid has Snake/Otacon**. The most egregious example may be Harry Potter, where Harry/Hermione 'shippers even threatened to boycott the books if Harry ended up with Ginny. It's worth noting that regardless of the pairings, NONE OF THESE SERIES ARE BASED EXCLUSIVELY ON ROMANCE. The interest in shipping comes from the personal baggage the fans collectively bring to the forums.

This is an odd phenomenon, and unfortunately, it's one that threatens to derail drama and creativity-- instead of reading stories because they're curious where the characters will end up, fans have strong preconceived notions of what they want to see, and won't accept anything else. It doesn't matter for Chandler that nobody cares about Sonichu and Rosechu's true love but him, because this world is his escapist paradise. Unfortunately, the phenomenon isn't restricted to the mass of neuroses and perversions that is Christian Weston Chandler-- just take a glance at the majority of fan fiction.***

One of the most interesting relationships that I've read in a mainstream comic is the X-Men pairing of Scott Summers and Emma Frost. This is because it's an active deconstruction of the nature of the OTP. While Scott and Jean Grey were the official pairing of the X-Men****, Grant Morrison had Scott come to realize that after all the hardship he'd been through in his life, he didn't want a perfect relationship. He found himself more comfortable with tempestuous ex-villainess Emma Frost, whose sins made her more relatable. The relationship began with an affair and was cemented with a kiss over Jean Grey's corpse, but so what? These are mutant pariahs whose profession has a high mortality rate. They aren't part of the culture that sets the terms for what acceptable love is, they aren't necessarily going to be drawn to conventional notions of relationships, and they're going to seize any chance at happiness they can get. Of course, this is antithetical to fandom logic, but it allows for more story options.

* Of course, because Aang/Kitara was an Official Coupling done with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer and logic of a fanfic parody, I can understand this.
** And Hideo Kojima has all but made this canon, since MGS4 ends with Snake living out his final days with Otacon and their adopted daughter Sunny. I can't even call Metal Gear a homoerotic series anymore, because between this, Ocelot being a secret hero motivated by his gay love for Big Boss, and the Big Boss/Miller slashfic missions in Peace Walker, Kojima is basically pre-empting the fandom with homosexual pairings.
*** There are many great fan fics, mind you. I want to make clear that just because the medium is used by terrible writers doesn't mean it has exclusively terrible writers. Some are even more inventive than the canon creators.
**** I often think of the main 'ship in my own comic as a reconstruction of the Scott/Jean dynamic, with genuine devotion and love being constantly challenged by the fact that Ruby and Jiro are two outcasts with troubled histories and no other real options.