Monthly Archives: March 2015

Goddamnit, Bring Back Gertrude Yorkes!


runaways-v2-18-page-14

Okay. Okay. A quick disclaimer. I am aware that Runaways is over, and has been for quite some time. But with Nico Minoru and and Karolina Dean coming back for the A-Force (allegedly), I just don’t think it’s out of line to be like “Bring back Gert Yorkes already”.

It’s a problem. We keep getting characters like Captain America back from the dead, even though we have about decades and decades of material to enjoy, yet we won’t bring back characters like Gert, whose tenure in the Marvel universe is pitifully small, and comprised of two deaths.

That’s right. Two deaths. And not the fun oh-we-brought-them-back-to-life-so-they-may-come-back-again kind of death. Basically, future-Gert (leader of the future Avengers, I shit you not) goes to the past to warn present-Gert of the danger of Victor Mancha before she dies in her teenage lover’s arms.  Then present-Gert dies in the alternate timeline created by past-Gert changing things because fuck everything, Marvel hates us.

gertie yorkes dead
Chase gets my feels.

Frankly, I have a lot of Runaway feels, and most of them are “WHY IS THIS SERIES CANCELLED?!”. Which, if you’re curious, is roughly about the same as my feels for The New Mutant Academy and The Young Avengers.

Oh. That’s right. I forgot. The comic book industry is laboring under a false impression of who their audience is. If you are young, and like something with a little more diversity, sucks to be you. You comics will always be cancelled. Like the things comic book lovers always have liked, and you won’t have a problem.

Though, I think I should probably mention here that Runaways is coming back in May 2015. Except, and get ready for this punch to the crotch, it will not feature any of the original characters… which includes Gert Yorkes.

Nerd rage!

Anyway, my point is we’re getting more enlightened so it’s time for the Runaways we love to return. Ms. Marvel, my favorite comic on my pull list at the moment is getting critical praise, and is selling additional printings. Hawkeye is a decidedly less super-hero super hero comic book without going into the realm of The Dark Knight, and it’s doing incredibly well. For god sakes, he gets a dog.

So, I’m sitting here going… does that mean we can bring back Gert and her crew?

Runaways is a great Marvel comic started by Brian K Vaughn (a writer I have enormous respect for as he was the story editor of the best season of Lost, the creator of Y The Last Man, and my current favorite Image comic, Saga) about a group of teenagers who find out their parents are all super villains. It’s drawn largely by Adrian Alphona, whose art style many of you may recognize from Ms. Marvel.

The series itself is an interesting critique on super heroes, as the children often save the world, but believe that all adults (including superheroes) are corrupt and cannot be trusted. Therefore, their lack of faith in anyone except each other (well, and the largely forgotten Cloak and Dagger, apparently) translates into a mistrust of everyone, and a dynamic we don’t often see in Marvel comics.

Add in representation for minorities (both in the Marvel world –what with aliens, robots, mutants, and witches- and our world- what with different ethnicities, and LGBTQ characters), and you pretty much have the perfect comic. It embraces what is different about us, finds the story in it, and shows us a whole new world to super powers.

Gert was my favorite of the cast, which included glowing lesbian aliens, immensely strong mutant twelve-years olds, self-destructive witches, and sort of Manchurian Candidate-esque robots. She didn’t have any powers, and knew it. I mean, she did have a pet velociraptor that she was psychically connected to, but that was kind of a by-product of super evil, but over-protective parents. But she didn’t really have any powers. In spite of that, she felt it was her responsibility to make sure people with power were held in check.

gertie yorkes

She was overweight, and no one made a big deal out of it (something very important to me). She dyed her hair purple, and wore whatever she wanted. She also was in a weirdly healthy relationship with a dumb jock, who surprisingly was perfect for her. She was interesting, and different, and so unlike the characters we are usually treated to with Marvel women.

Not only that, she was a well-rounded character who was snarky, and sometimes motherly, but always interested in doing what was right, even if she felt that she should expound on how bad of an idea it was.

And … she’s freaking dead.

We don’t get characters like Gert very often (or any of the other Runaways, to be frank), and we don’t get comics like Runaways very often either. So why do we off them before they even have a chance to get a following? Why don’t we bring them back when we’ll bring back every other superhero under the sun?

I don’t have the answers. I only have my bitterness, and my comics to console me that at one time Gert was there. What I do have is money that I will throw at comics that cater to the same sort of audience Runaways does, and I guess that’s all I can do for now. So.. hello, Ms. Marvel. Please don’t get cancelled.


The Politics of Mutation Versus Evolution


I know that the last thing I should do is look to Pokemon to be a bastion of science.But yet, every time I’m confronted with my Charmander evolving into a Charmeleon, I find myself yelling at the screen, “It’s mutating! Not evolving!”

But I guess the sound of “Pikachu is mutating” makes you think of a horrible cancer-ridden body reaching out with a little clawed hand calling out “why” just before it uses Thunderbolt on itself just to end it all. But wait, it’s immune. So instead, it spends the next four turns giving itself a slower and slower Quick Attack until it is finally free of the painful cycle of life.

pikachuismutating

Still, that’s what Pikachu is doing. After all, evolution is the change of a genetic sequence over generations to what eventually ends in a unique species. It’s a continuum of changes. You and I, for example, are just another link in the long chain of evolution (provided we get jiggy with it and pass on our genes). Pikachu, when it turns into Raichu, is not breeding with another Pikachu over hundreds of years in its pokeball to create a plumper, oranger verison of itself. No, it’s changing its DNA right there and then. Therefore, it is mutating.

Sadly, this seems to happen in Science Fiction a lot. We mistake mutation for evolution, even in recent shows like Torchwood.

Now, I’ll admit we shouldn’t also think that Torchwood is a bastion of science (as proven by my why-is-Owen-breathing article), but this is a show that came out under a decade ago, and it still thought evolving was mutating. In the episode, “Combat”, the Torchwood team discover that the Weevils are becoming immune to the Weevil Spray (it’s assumed it’s the same population they have been dealing with). Gwen, the not science-y one, suggests they are mutating. The genius character Tosh corrects her to say they are evolving! That’s right, they had the right term, and then corrected themselves with the person who is canonically supposed to be in the know. That is unless, the spray they are using actually triggers some sort of immune response and over spraying the weevils has created an immunity…

But this is all distracting from my main point of evolution versus mutation, and the politics of the language in a science fiction universe.

It turns out, we like the term “evolution” a lot better than we like the term “mutant” (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being a notable exception).

The most obvious example of the politics of mutation versus evolution is The X-Men, a group of superheroes of whom most are called mutants. I won’t quibble over the fact that they are called mutants. But, I will quibble over the fact that it’s often glossed over that mutations is a apart of evolution.

It’s actually an interesting political commentary on how mutants in The X-men are addressed. To call them mutants has the weighted meaning that they are not one of us, and indeed “Mutie” is a bigoted term for them. The mutants who think they are the next rung on the ladder of evolution (*cough* Magneto *cough*) has the weight of them being superior. As such, he purposefully uses language that deals with evolution in order to say that there is a goal to their genetic difference. They are the homo superior. 

Though, I should note that is not what evolution is about, no matter how much we are falsely taught that in school. Evolution is random, no matter what Magneto says, and is simply a series of mutations that don’t interfere with propagation. That’s right, you could have a horrid disease that kills the second you give birth, and it would stay in the gene pool because you are still able to contribute that mutation by having a child before you died. We often arbitrarily assign all traits to evolution believing that our bodies are a hodgepodge of DNA Voltaire, which is to say the best of all possible worlds. But honestly, we know that Birds of Paradise with the longest tails are more likely to mate… but they are also more likely to get eaten as their tails get unwieldy. Where’s the evolutionary reasoning in that? There isn’t, just as there is not a whole lot of evolutionary reasoning behind Dazzler’s dazzling powers, or Wither’s ability to unwittingly kill anything organic he touches.

I don’t really have a broad-sweeping conclusion for this, just that we 1. have trouble understanding the difference between mutation and evolution, and 2. we don’t particularly like the term mutation as we tend to use it in derogatory senses. We see mutants as abnormal, but evolution as destiny, despite the fact that evolution doesn’t happen without random mutations.