Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writing Cultural Shock in Comics

Say you have a character that's from a different place. Another country or maybe something more extreme. Another planet. From another time. You want to show this character having misunderstandings and trying to get used to the customs. Let's talk about how this was done with Booster Gold (from BG VOL. 1) and Starfire (from the new series.)

When Booster first arrived in the past he didn't know what idioms were, he often took them literal. Such as "shake a leg." He didn't know where to use a credit card, didn't realize his accountants didn't pay his taxes, mistook 60s music as modern and didn't know how do dress for a PR. date. That said he never came off as dumb. Impulsive at times but he was still a smart businessman shown building his empire. Of course he also had Skeets to correct his mistakes but over time he got used to the changes.

Then we have Starfire, a character that has already been on the planet for some time. Her guides were Dick Grayson then Jason Todd and Roy Harper. In RHATO she showed no cultural shock. Once she flew ahead of the boys, got herself a new outfit and met them in a limo. They knew nothing about it beforehand so how could she go from that to not understanding the concept of banks? How did she do that or get new outfits? Is this supposed to mean others provided for her? She does not get that old people die. Kori was a princess, a slave, a freaking space captain and she never met/heard of anyone that died of old age? This implies she was pretty damn sheltered when evidences proves otherwise.

Even if the Starfire series is ignoring her time in RHATO (kinda hard to do since she talked to Essence) I call bullshit. Kori still spent time with Dick and Roy (Secret Origins confirmed this.) The Sneak Peek even had her knowing people she never met in the new 52. I don't care if their superheroes she would pick up on this stuff. Banks get robbed in superhero books. She would likely hear the news. Hell Lobdell implied she could pick up on more information than just languages when she kissed someone (see her attempt to do so with Jason.) Then out of the blue she gets a memory loss? I mean that is what happened, right? It had to be some kind of amnesia if she can't understand these basic things anymore. 

She doesn't get sarcasm despite using it herself in the past? Thinks an enemy that nearly killed her and her boyfriend is someone who will give her friendly advise? Starfire shouldn't have cultural shock at this point, not with things this simple. With celebrities, movies, even music? Sure. But this makes it look like she came to earth then spent all her time in a cave. Judging by Dicks' costume when they were together she's been around since Jason was Robin.


  1. "She spent all her time in a cave"

    According to Palmioti and Conner's interviews, they are treating her time with the Outlaws more or less like that.

    Is infuriating.

    And yet, people are happy with it because is cute *groan*

  2. I find it funny that they dismissed the idea what she'd live on an island yet they act like she just crash landed.

    Yes it is.

    You know that if Lobdell did it they call him on her acting dumb. I fail to see how Kori being portrayed like this is cute when it only reinforces the negative image people have of her intelligence from pre-Flashpoint.

  3. Sadly, a lot of people just see the most superficial aspect of the stories.

  4. True although some are petty. I once came across a self proclaimed Jason fan that found moments from RHATO they loved and Rocaforts' original cover for #3. Once they found out what it was from they made excuses for liking it and basically said it sucked because what it was in.

  5. Tell me about it, Jason's fanbase can get downright nasty when RHATO is brought up. Is like they want Jason to always be the angsty badass Winnick introduce on UtRH and while a cool introduction is sort of a creative dead end. Jason needs and has the potential to grow and be more than that.

  6. Mainly on tumblr although some of the ideas there for how Jason should be portrayed don't fit any canon except maybe BFTC.

    Winick was good but his writing was limited to Jasons' aghast period. He didn't understand why Jason was popular then tried to appeal to the fanbase in his last arc where he had Jason naked twice, violent and no real direction for the plot.

  7. Winnick dissapointed me with Lost Days. There was this incredibly interesting premise wasted on stories following the same format: Jason is trained by hitman-Jason ounds dirt on them-Jason kills them-repeat.

    I was expecting for the series to give us a glimpse of Jason mindset through DC's stories. Things like his reaction to Jean Paul or No man's Land.

    His final arc started strong but it went off the rails with the furry mercs and then it didn't recovered. March dropping out from the arc didn't helped either.

  8. Lost Days didn't bother me too much in that regard. Still I found the best part to be when he's in London trying to stop the bomb plot.

    It would have been nice to see his reaction but at the same time I can kind of see Winick thinking only the Tim reveal matter. He had a limited scope for what he wanted to do with Jason so I'm not too surprised.

    I thought so at first but thinking about it further things started to stick out. I never bought that Bruce could be such an ass to put him in Arkham because it was "safer." It tried too hard to defend that and it still never made sense to me.