riseupwithfists: the reyes hug it out (mommas and grandmommas love you)
the artist formerly known as oneangrykate ([personal profile] riseupwithfists) wrote2010-02-01 04:38 pm
Entry tags:

we would like to hear more about this fresh fruit portion of the negotiations.

Okay, sports fans. This is what I did all weekend instead of writing Kon/Paco for Porn Battle (your mileage may vary re: whether this was a good thing or not).

1. A great thing about my Big Bang fic is that it's basically an excuse to reread Blue Beetle. Again. Not that I need an excuse to, really, but I usually dip into favorite issues, whereas this time I've started from issue one and read all the way up to the latest Booster Gold mini-story (y'all are still reading it, right? Sturges gives good Jaime, and I need to talk to someone besides Jube about the implied hilarity behind the latest plot twist).

As always, issues 22-25 really get to me. It's not that they're full of bombast and splashy Crowning Moments of Awesome. They are. But it all works because of the massive bombast being contrasted with tiny character moments which consistently, wonderfully work.

There was one in particular that really got me this go round. I'm going to go ahead and post the full page:

When you're growing up (and even after then) you desperately want your family to be on your side. The tragedy of family is that this rarely happens, at least not for us queer kids. So I will acknowledge that a huge part of what makes Jaime work for me is that his family sticks up for him, always. They are in his corner, even when they're not shooting aliens. Deep down, you always want your family to stick up for you. Just as I got into superhero comics at a time where I was feeling really physically vulnerable both as a woman and as a queer person, I got into Blue Beetle at a time where the ten year-old child in me wanted my parents to stick up to the homophobia that surrounds me whenever I'm back in my hometown.

Ugh, me issues. Sorry about that.

2. At the same time, I don't want to fall into the trap of claiming that the series is so good merely because his family is biologically related. The Reyes are legion, this is true, but they are also a small part of a massive supporting cast. Comics, when they work, appeal to me as much as they do because they portray the possibility of successful alternate familial structures.

Think about the "happy" families of the DCU, for example. Most of the reason why the last few years of Batman canon has enraged me is because it's been pushing the meme of Biology Is Destiny! in a way which seems to undermine the very reason I loved the Bats in the first place*. Jason was born poor, Morrison et al declare, therefore he is morally bankrupt and will always be so. Damian Wayne can be forgiven his hefty bodycount because he sprang from the seed of the rich white patriarch**; Jason did not, and therefore cannot be forgiven for his bloodthirst. Tim is suddenly Not Really a Son, Not Good Enough. A ten year old with an attitude problem is suddenly the Best Robin Evarrrrr.

This, fair reader, is absolute bullshit.

What's made the Batfamily work in the past (and hopefully the future) is that they're a family, yes, but a family forged by experience and a common purpose, not biology***. I blame this insistence on my first DCU exposure being Gotham Knights. The Bats in my head will always be, for me, the way they were portrayed there - as a self-made family, extremely dysfunctional but no less important in each other's lives. This is why I also love the Arrows so damn much - I love that Roy and Mia are just as important to Ollie as Connor is, and that they all have massive Ollie issues but will still, by golly, show up for chili night. Also also, Roy is the only character, besides the Reyes, who is consistently characterized as an amazing father. Certainly the only example I can think of at the moment who's a nigh saintly single parent (only saintly wrt Lian, of course, he is still a raging horndog everywhere else).

Which is not to discount how AWESOME Jaime's folks are, and how awesome it is to see a nuclear family portrayed as a unit you can trust the very secrets of your heart and body with. But that's mainly because of a) the aforementioned queer kid fantasy talking and b) secret identities are starting to really bore me.

3. Speaking of the Reyeses, whither Cousin Jorge? If you place a gun in the first act, you sure as hell need to pull the trigger in the third act/family reunion issue (which was, as far as I can tell, Jorge-less). How much older is he than Jaime (I think of him as older automatically, maybe college age)? Did they used to hang out? Could they hang out now pretty please?

Plus, the total chillness of this conversation! Jaime's facial expression implies that he's teased his mom about this before, and that this is a familial atmosphere wherein the possibility of Jaime being gay isn't a minefield of potential awfulness, isn't the end of the world.

I read a story lately, which shall remain as unnamed as possible, wherein Jaime is devastated over his gayness (it's the type of story where it's "gay" instead of "queer") because his fam is so "conservative and religious" that they would immediately shun him in disgrace. This is problematic for a couple of reasons:

A) At least with regards to his immediate family, this doesn't seem to be true. Jaime himself is ambivalent and "most of the time... sort of" believes in a higher power. His family seems more culturally Catholic than Bible-thumpy? The fic's writer seemed to be more interested in riding out the stereotype of all Mexican-Americans being ultra-Catholic, ultra-conservative religious freaks than examining the actual source material, wherein Jaime's parents seem pretty chill.

B) What's more traumatizing: gay son or missing for a year, returned with alien spinal parasite that can blow up the world son? I think we know what freaks Bianca out more, at least.

I mean, I really should have stopped reading this story when the Titans were seen as a potential force of homophobia, because, like, hello? Seriously? They'll throw a fucking parade, Jaime. BART will throw you a parade. Okay, I need to stop dumping on this poor story. But I've been putting a lot of effort into having Jaime *not* have Big Closet Drama in my story, because frankly that sort of plot has stopped being fun for me.

Anyway. Cousin Jorge. I find his invisibility frustrating but also a potential for fannish interpretations that could be Full of Win. Any of you who know me at all know what this means.

4. Speaking of religion, I've never come across any comics which address the unique conundrum of the existence of traditional monotheistic religion in a world where New Gods or Old Gods or Whatever Gods are tumbling around at all times and the entire universe gets remade every five years. They've handled cults, but not the 'classics', as it were. I mean, who would fucking bother after the second Crisis or so?

5. Also: the quasi similarities between Jaime and Billy Kaplan! Both smartass, sweetass kids with a heart of gold! Both ridiculously overpowered but keep themselves from taking over the world due to aforementioned hearts of gold! Both with a snazzy blue motif!

*If the long term plan is to eventually send the message that Damian is *not* in some way superior because of his Bat-genes, then I will hesitantly back off of this statement. But Grant Morrison is too much in love with him for this to happen, I'd wager. Once Morrison's off the Batbooks and his influence isn't as quantumly ridiculous, I'd also wager that a new writer (or old - I bet Judd Winick is pissed over what they've done to Jason) will retcon things back to the early 2000's status quo: that you make yourself a family, and that DNA is secondary, at best. But I digress.

**and I totally shuddered while typing that phrase.

***Also, as much as I cling to my personal fanon that Jack Drake isn't Tim's biological father, I'd never want Bruce to turn out to be his real dad in canon because it completely undermines the point of Tim as the self-made man. He doesn't have to be Bruce's kid by blood, as he already is in mind and spirit and ethics. He turned himself into a son, which is vastly more interesting and creepy. But, again, I digress.
msilverstar: (billy elijah snug)

[personal profile] msilverstar 2010-02-02 03:38 am (UTC)(link)
I am so glad there's at least one series that's joyful and satisfying to you!
gloss: (Dick/Roy - UST in short pants)

[personal profile] gloss 2010-02-02 04:19 am (UTC)(link)
What I've always responded to, first & foremost, in (DC) comics is the whole created/made/chosen family -- that, by becoming your true self (in tights), you also acquire/build a whole family, whether that's the JLA or the Titans or whatever. There's a powerful narrative there, I think, about identity and relationships that runs *against* biological/reproductive logics. Tim-as-Robin is the brother of Dick but also his begotten and successor? That kind of thing. Other than Dinah and original!Helena and then Jade & Todd and Connor, the second and third generation heroes aren't children of the first generation but successors anyway. (Maybe Diana? I can't remember. ANYWAY.)

I started getting disappointed when reproductive/childrearing logics -- Damian, then Christopher Kent, and Dinah's Sin, etc. -- seemed to take hold. I like teams over actual families.

Except for the Reyesesesess. They rock. And I love your thoughts and apologize for burbling at you.

(Also, that fic sounds HORRIBLE in just about every possible way.)
Edited ((more canon examples)) 2010-02-02 04:19 (UTC)
haunted: Jaime Reyes, most kicks ass Blue Beetle (kickass jaime)

[personal profile] haunted 2010-02-02 07:25 am (UTC)(link)
I've been trying to write a reply to this for a while now, but I can't quite get the words to work, and it veered off into a tangent about the X-Men, and it's too early in the morning. Basically I think it comes down to, have you seen Lilo and Stitch? There's a line at the end that always makes me cry: "This is my family. I found it all on my own. It is little and broken, but still good."

So yes, I agree with everything you say about families, from strong biological connections to self-forged groups. They're all important, and if a comic doesn't have them (solo titles without a recurring supporting cast), or I don't believe the dynamic that's being presented (like I usually don't with the JLA), then the title loses me.
haunted: Apollo, by Dustin Nguyen (Default)

[personal profile] haunted 2010-02-02 11:07 pm (UTC)(link)
Something that just occurred to me re: point 4, the Final Crisis: Revelations stuff veered a little in this direction. It didn't quite cover the lol why bother aspect, but it had the Spectre and Radiant (God's Spirits of Vengeance and Mercy, respectively) realising how their powers didn't work in a certain situation because God gave humanity free will and that meant that even His...avatars, for want of a better word, couldn't intervene in something humanity had to sort out for itself (which is really unsatisfying and contradictory on so many levels, come to think of it). Mister Terrific and Dr. Mid-Nite also had a issue or two relating to their conflicting (dis)beliefs, although I don't recall how it ended.

Point 5:

We only get a close-up of these tables out of like six during the family picnic, but 100,000 word epics have been written from less!
sockich: (Balance)

[personal profile] sockich 2010-02-02 01:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I agree with everything in this post. I would attempt to say more but I literally just woke up (I am typing this with a toothbrush in my mouth) and I can't brain so good right now. Just, lots and lots of YES THIS! :D
cmshaw: DC Comics: Robin and Wonder Girl have HUGS TIME (So what if they're looking?)

[personal profile] cmshaw 2010-02-02 02:45 pm (UTC)(link)
When you're growing up (and even after then) you desperately want your family to be on your side. The tragedy of family is that this rarely happens, at least not for us queer kids.

i actually really love this meta -- thank you for saying it! i think i really need to chew over how it relates to my problems with the titans and the ways they've been talking up chosen family and not providing it lately.

Speaking of religion, I've never come across any comics which address the unique conundrum of the existence of traditional monotheistic religion in a world where New Gods or Old Gods or Whatever Gods are tumbling around at all times and the entire universe gets remade every five years.

i think i've seen helena address this a couple of times. i can't put my finger on it, but she's not just wearing that cross for personal reasons. although boy howdy is dc theology wacky!
cmshaw: DC Comics: Kon facepalms and sighs, "Aww Nerts" (Aww Nerts)

Re: thoughts continued

[personal profile] cmshaw 2010-02-03 05:55 am (UTC)(link)
yes! exactly this! and bart especially with his whole speedster family thing and no one ever talks about vic's or kory's family anymore and, stuff, and i will try to return with a brain tomorrow and say so!
cmshaw: DC Comics: Impulse with a batmug, captioned "Daydream Boy" (Sweet dreams are made of this)

Re: thoughts continued

[personal profile] cmshaw 2010-02-09 06:15 pm (UTC)(link)
hah, and by "tomorrow" apparently i mean "someday". *facepalm* my lack of brain, let me show it by omission?