Friday, April 01, 2022

DCU Holiday Bash #1 from 1997 featured a laughably stupid Green Lantern story about Hanuka

The 3rd volume of Green Lantern from 1990-2004 has long been notorious for plenty of reasons, from the stealth leftist politics and other smutty elements Gerard Jones injected, to the repellent fridge story Ron Marz wrote in 1994, but in addition to that, there was also a short story starring Kyle Rayner, Hal Jordan's tediously scripted and forced replacement circa Emerald Twilight, that was just as dreadful as what the flagship series turned out to be. The tale in question comes from DCU Holiday Bash, published in early 1997, 1st of 3 specials from the late 90s, and was written by Michael Jan Friedman, a book writer who'd worked on a few comics in the 90s (including The Darkstars, which became something like a refugee camp for former GLs and even a depowered Donna Troy in its latter half), and judging from how insulting to the intellect the tale was, Friedman was hardly an improvement over Jones and Marz. Here's 3 panels from the story in question, which wasn't much more than 10 pages. It chronicles Kyle going to retrieve an oil vessel used for the Hanuka holiday from some neo-nazis who'd stolen it from a synagogue. Let's begin with this scene:
So what we have here are a few people preparing for the Hanuka holiday, with the woman discussing how great it is, and the script hits a historical pothole when she's written telling how Judah the Maccabee fought against the "Roman overlord of Palestine". Say what?!? So Friedman was perpetuating the falsehood of using a name the Romans invented for delegitimizing Israel in ancient times (not that he actually acknowledges that, of course), and to add even more unintentional comedy to the mix, he never did any proper research to comprehend that the empire occupying Israel at the time was the Greek-descended Seleucid empire, led by Antiochus III. Why, if that's supposed to be Judah atop the horse there, I'm equally put off by how he's made to look like he's wearing an Arabic keffiyeh on his head, a depiction that's admittedly occurred in other 20th century depictions of ancient Israelites too, but doesn't offer an accurate portrayal. I thought it was bad enough Jones basically invalidated Israel by not bringing up the name in his writing, in an early effort to ramrod the whole false narrative of a palestinian Arab/Islamic people that's become a common falsehood for years, into mainstream comics. With this, it looks as though Friedman also comes from a monumentally cynical leftist background, and saw nothing wrong with injecting some of his own contempt into another GL story he'd written up. Now, here's the second panel:
Here, Kyle discovers the lady is a female rabbi, which in Hebrew/Yiddish could be pronounced rebbetzin, and it's made out to look like such a religious figure shouldn't be asked on a date any more than a Catholic nun. This also had me groaning, because unlike the setup the Roman Catholics go by, in practically all sects of Judaism, rabbis and rebbetzins can marry. Even in the Reform sect, which I assume is what the lady is meant as an allusion to. The only hurdle is whether the suitor can convert to Judaism.

Curious thing about this story is that it's a rare moment I know of where Kyle almost ended up dating a lady guest who wasn't an established DCU cast member, yet the writers and editors involved instantly back away from any such possibilities. Which, in all due honesty, is as pathetic as the rest of the Rayner era. That aside, I wonder if DC published this story as a shield against all the GL fans who took offense at the abuse they'd heaped upon Hal, no matter their personalities or conduct. Well if so, then let me just say that, as somebody living in the land where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's ancestry came from (Hal's co-creators John Broome and Gil Kane were also of Jewish descent), I find it most extremely objectionable they'd use anything to do with my ethnicity and/or country's founding religion as way to hide from criticism of bad directions. It's simply unacceptable, yet judging from what we've seen in more recent times, such tactics have become the norm in ways much more grimy than before. Criticize poor writing and direction involving a POC/LGBT practitioner introduced in a forced and contrived manner to check a diversity box, and the left wants to call even the most honest and law-abiding person who dares do so a racist/homophobe/transphobe/islamophobe. Not because they think it's true, but because they want that to be the case. It's utterly shameful. And here, if this 1997 story were anything similar, the worst thing about it is the inaccurate history and other details used in the process. Now, the third panel:
After capturing the neo-nazi thugs thanks to what must've been a holiday miracle of finding reserve energy in his power ring (it seemed to short out momentarily while he'd raided their lair), Kyle returns the valuable to the synagogue, where the female rabbi is then seen at the end doing prayer recital, and while it may not be visible in the front-based illustration, you can see from the back she's wearing a Judaist skullcap, which is accepted in the Reform sect, and some rebbetzin in their movement do wear skullcaps. Though why nobody working in comicdom on tales like this wants to acknowledge that is beyond my comprehension. And that's what makes this story all the more laughable, IMO. That there's only so much space an editor can provide in a book like this is no excuse.

Wow, I thought it was bad enough when Jones was in charge of the GL franchise at the time he was assigned, and if sales plummeted while he was writing, his flaccid scripting was the culprit. And Marz's work wasn't any better. But if this is any indication, Friedman also had some appalling approaches to writing sans any good research or sense of respectability for history. Looking back, it's amazing Hal Jordan never seemed to turn up directly in stories like these, and if not, that's actually a good thing. Sure, some could argue a story like this doesn't have anything that couldn't have been done with Hal, and it's not like he never appeared in stories with political allusions decades back, but seeing how shoddy these 90s tales truly were, that's why it's better if Hal didn't appear in them at all. If anything, such tales are symbolic of what went wrong in the 1990s, and how it affected future storytelling going forward into the current century.

No comments: