Ruby Nation

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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-- Similarly, elements of your outdated wardrobe are now given intense personal significance.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.


  1. On the plus side, people might actually find your life interesting, for once. The Most Interesting Man In The World was just a
    stockboy at Kohl's until his Johns revamp.

  2. You're playing it a bit too obvious. Some less obvious signs would be:

    (related to your second point) You find yourself justifying your decisions in moniker/wardrobe to others, even though you've had that moniker/wardrobe for years.

    You find it difficult to resolve an altercation without resorting to the death of at least one friend/enemy/bystander.

    You know at least one person who has been viciously maimed; you may have been the one who maimed them.

    Although life may be one big family reunion, that old saw "the best heroes are orphans" is still sharp.

    You keep meeting people who dress or name themselves after a recently (or long-ago) deceased person. Even though you've never heard of these people, they talk at length about what an inspiring legacy the deceased figure left behind.

    In a strange bit of metaphysics, you find yourself obsessed with comparing yourself and friends' respective "rankings."

    Also in metaphysics, the perception people have of you on internet message boards has an identifiable impact on your day-to-day life.

    At some point you will find yourself ever-so-briefly adopting the wardrobe/special equipment/abilities of an associate, even though you have perfectly fine wardrobe/special equipment/abilities yourself.

    Your own special abilities have a tendency to fluctuate, either developing new powers or weakening to an earlier state; you may spend months or even years without any special abilities depending on your metaphysical sense of "ranking."

    You may live a life of secrecy and deadly danger but everyone you know seems to be either in the same business or aware of your double life.

    You pretend to take Ted Grant seriously.

  3. Oddly enough, Johns's latest Flash comic has, since Rebirth, managed to avoid a few of these problems: there are no narrative captions, and a relative minimum of death and gore.

    Unsurprisingly, it's the best thing he's written in years...not a masterpiece, but an improvement. And I'm sure it'll become a mess as soon as he starts going back to the crossover-seeding plot threads from the execrably bad Flash: Rebirth....

  4. Michael, when you talk about the opinions people have of specific characters on "internet message boards", and the "rankings" of a character and his or her friends, are you talking about the whole A-list, B-list, C-list pecking order?

    I ask because, although this isn't the time or place to go into the reasons why, I loathe the whole concept of the A/B/C-list pecking order.

  5. Jared, that's a big part of what I'm referring to, but also the propensity of Johns' material to repeatedly bring up fan obsessions like Power Girl's cleavage window, or mocking Gunfire on-panel.

  6. Michael: Blah, I figured that's what you were talking about. For various reasons, this trope really, and I mean *really*, gets under my skin. It's one of my superhero comic pet peeves, right up there with the idea of superhero "families" and citizens who blame the heroes for collateral damage when the villains are the ones who started the ruckus in the first place.

    But again, I don't want to clutter Nitz's blog up with this, so I won't go into the details. If anyone's interested, mail me at and I'll explain exactly what I mean.

  7. Feel free to " clutter up " my blog with this, jared. It's an interesting topic.

  8. With Neil's gracious permission, I will do so.

    What I hate about the A/B/C-list notion is how it seems to almost have an undertone of denigrating and belittling the C-list heroes' accomplishments and abilities, and the C-list villains' threat levels and their ability to accomplish anything.

    When it comes to characters like Sleepwalker, Darkhawk and the New Warriors, to declare them C-list strikes me as saying their accomplishments aren't worth as much as those of Thor, Iron Man or Captain America, and that they couldn't accomplish the same kind of things that the supposed "big guns" do.

    Sure, Spider-Man can take on Doctor Octopus, Bullseye or Sabertooth and we know that it's a credible fight on both sides. But if Sleepwalker, Darkhawk or Night Thrasher were to step up in Spidey's place, it's almost as if it's automatically assumed they can't hack it against "big name" villains. Never mind that Sleepy and Thrasher are themselves experienced, battle-hardened warriors who have just as much training as the big guns, they'll lose because they're "scrubs".

    And for the threats they *do* manage to stop? Who cares, those guys were low-rent and couldn't really pose much of a threat anyway. If the Avengers didn't snuff them out, the Red Skull or Doctor Doom would have. And if Doom or the Skull do try something, the low-rent losers should stay out of the way, since it's a foregone conclusion that they'll be slaughtered.

    It's one thing to not be in the spotlight, but it's quite another to be looked down on by everyone from readers to creators to people within the universe itself. If I were a low-rent hero, I'd seriously consider just hanging up my cape-Batman is the king of prep time, so no matter what happens he's already got a contingency plan for it. Why should I even bother when Superman or Wonder Woman can do it so much better than I could ever hope to do? If the Joker comes to town, I might as well just run for the hills, since whatever I try to do he'll already be able to flawlessly predict everything I think, say or do and will remain ten steps ahead of me at all times.

    And then there are the villains. There's no reason to take 8-Ball, Firebrand or Stegron seriously, since they're just low-rent losers who couldn't pose an actual threat to anyone if they tried. The Master of the World seriously thinks he can put himself on the same level as the Red Skull or Doctor Doom? You're kidding, right? And besides, you don't need to worry about the likes of Evilhawk or Cobweb-no matter what they're planning, they're never a significant threat.

    In a nutshell, that's what I hate about the notion of A/B/C-list characters, namely that the ones on the lower end of the totem pole tend to be dismissed as losers, ineffectual threats, or-worst of all-disposable characters.

    There's a reason they call the trope C List Fodder, and I freaking hate it. Instead of being treated as unique characters with their own personalities and contributions in their own right, they're treated as largely interchangeable cannon fodder. It applies to the heroes just as much as the villains-when they're not being blown up by Nitro, the heroes are ridiculed as losers who could never expect to keep up with the big guns.

    Seeing characters like the Walrus, the Condiment King, or Mr. Fish treated as losers and comic relief doesn't really bother me. They were specifically created as gag characters, and they fill that role well. But when guys like Speedfreek, the Cobalt Man and 8-Ball are treated as throwaway plot devices, that's when I get steamed.

    That, in many respects, is what drives me nuts about the "pecking order" among superheroes and supervillains.

  9. And as I feared, all of Johns's worst habits are back with full force in Flash #7. *sigh* Those first six issues had some real promise, too....

  10. Well done Jared. I have the same gripes as you when it comes to how Marvel/DC treats their lesser-known characters. At least another one of my fandoms, Nintendo video games is content to leave their C-listers alone.