OK Folks. We are not all about spoilers here at PCS, but there is definitely some spoilery information in this post. If you have not seen the first six episodes of Young Justice: Outsiders, and you are planning to, there will be spoilery information below.
After a long break, one of the best animated shows ever has returned. Young Justice is now producing new episodes, and they are airing on the DC Universe streaming platform. This show has always been a favorite of mine, and I have urged as many people as I could to go and watch this fantastic series.. The new season is absolutely incredible. It is inventive and respectful to canon while telling a unique story. The voice acting is superb, the dialogue is witty and engaging, and the animation is excellent. However, I have an issue. It is the “respect for canon” thing with which I think the show-runners went a little too far.
In the fifth episode, a revelation is made that was hinted to early on in the series. We see Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair. She is Oracle. We guessed that this might be the case from clues in the covert Markovia mission, but now it is confirmed.
Let me be clear, there has been nothing revealed in the show as to how she came to be this way. Also, she is a fully functional hero behind the keyboard, and the relationship between Dick and Babs is definitely going be a high point for fans of that ‘ship. My problem is with the “Why” of it all. Why is it necessary to keep repeating The Killing Joke? Why put her back in the wheelchair when we had gotten past it? There are a lot of things that I really do not like about the DC Comic Universe post Flashpoint, but putting Babs back in the cowl is probably the best thing to come out of it, and now were are back at this point. As I said, up until now, we have not seen how she got injured, and I pray that we will not see a reenactment of The Killing Joke in this series, but I fear that I will be disappointed.
There can be some grasping at understanding of why the writers made this decision. After all, there was a DC Animated Film of The Killing Joke between the last season of Young Justice and now. However, that movie…. Let’s just say, I have never seen it, and I never will. So, we are back to this faithfulness to canon that I mentioned earlier. One of the very cool things about this series is the Easter eggs and nods to comic book stories or facts that are seen on screen. For example, it is fun to see that the names used for Halo are Gabrielle and Violet, but they are in reverse order. However, there are choices made in this series that are changes from the source material. Some examples are: Halo is Quaraci, Baron Bedlam is Geo-Force’s uncle, Conner and Megan are engaged, etc. Why is it necessary to have Barbara be in a wheelchair? Could she not be the technical mastermind of the team without a physical disability? Please understand, there is nothing wrong with physically disabled heroes. It is that the hero was injured.
The fact that our colleague here at PCS, John Ostrander, along with his late wife Kim Yale, rescued Babs from the scrap heap of bad DC editorial decisions and gave her new life as Oracle does not mean we need to relive it. Let’s be honest, Oracle was a wonderful character for decades. Whether she was in the hands of John and Kim, Chuck Dixon (more about him in a minute), or Gail Simone, Oracle was a force for good and a hero to be admired, and in Young Justice all the things that made her amazing as Oracle seems to be there, and we truly like the character.
So now comes the question. Why does this bother me? What if it was a different character that was injured out of a suit? Would it matter as much? Honestly, it would most likely be upsetting, as it is intended to be, but the fact that it is Barbara makes it worse. For the same reason that the re-imagination of Hank Pym’s domestic violence in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe was distressing, the retelling of a painful, upsetting event is ultimately what is most disappointing, especially when it felt that, as a collective, we had grown past it. When we as a community, and I include the major publishers in that community, have recognized that there are ways to tell stories that are inclusive and not abusive to certain types of characters, the decision to not be creative and adjust the story to more forward thinking sensibilities makes us question how far we have really come.
I will continue to watch this series. This editorial decision is unfortunate, but they are still telling a very good story. I will be hoping that Barbara’s injury and the origin of it do not become a major plot point in this series, as that will be utterly sad.
Now we get back to the Chuck Dixon comment. Let me be honest. Chuck Dixon wrote a lot of really good comic books. Mike Baron was a writing hero of mine. The “CG Artist who will not be named” makes beautiful art. Yet, all of them have aligned themselves with a faction of fandom that is loosely identified by their opponents as “Comicsgate”. They support people with an agenda that questions inclusion of diversity and is full of people who spew hatred at people who embrace and support diversity in the comic book community.
The talented people who have chosen to align themselves this way did not lose their talent by doing so. But they have lost me as a fan, and I will not support them or their creativity if they will stand for hatred.
On January 14th, Gail Simone, who to many of us middle-aged folks is the standard bearer and beacon for diversity and inclusion in comics, posted her disappointment with Mike Baron’s hateful behavior in particular in a Facebook post. You can find the post below. Chuck Dixon thought it would be funny reply with a hate filled picture. This was incredibly distasteful and frustrating.
We do not all have to have the same beliefs or have the same political ideologies in order to get along. But when your approach to the world is to attack others who are different from you for their difference and to mock them for being upset about it, you show your lack of humanity. As far as I am concerned, I do not need to support those guys anymore. I will continue to support wonderful comic storytelling in all its forms. There are so many places to find it.