Sunday, July 13, 2008

Flash - Linda Parks - Whitewashing

Ar god I'm hungover. Feeling very delicate today as I went out to a party last night and got to bed on my mates sofa at about 6am. Good party - twas a fancy dress theme and there was an awesome Heath Ledger Joker there.

I need muffins. Unfortunately I don't have any. What I do have is a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment at having finally finished reading 250 odd Flash comics. That was a mammoth run, and really really enjoyable. They are all the Wally West and Bart Allen Flashes.

Admittedly, the first 60 were more rubbish as I don't like William Messner-Loebs writing, except for Chunk, who's a bloody brilliant guy. Tis a pity he's not really in the picture any more.

Mark Waid's run was by far the best, and not just because he brought in Impulse, who I adore. His year 1 story arc, 62 to 65, was just wonderful. I can't quite work out why there's another Flash year 1 - Flash Annual number 8 - as surely there is only one year 1 story to tell? And which one is in continuity? *confused*. Anyway I don't know how they compare as I haven't read the annuals yet.

Mark Waid made Wally more human, more rounded and let him grow up. He also developed Wally's relationship with Linda into something real and intense and oh so touching. Despite what my rl friends may say, I think I am actually an old romantic after all. The thing about Wally and Linda is that their feelings for each other act like a beacon and no matter where Wally ends up in the time stream, or the speed force, or other danger, he will always come back to Linda because she's his rock. And I think that's awesome. Everyone needs a rock.

My main beef with these issues is how Linda is drawn and coloured. She's Korean, this is made explicit from the start, yet she morphs into a white person several times over this run, and even when she's drawn Korean she's not always recognisable as the same person.

Picking out a random selection of images:

Flash 28:
Flash 78:

Flash 114:

Flash 159:
Flash 233:

And perhaps the worst, Flash Secret Files and Origins 1:

I think the above is the worst because it's meant to be a definitive biography of the character. And portraying her as white is pretty bloody shit. And I know art styles change over time but c'mon, we always recognise Lois, and Jimmy, why wasn't Linda drawn consistently?
Whiteness isn't the default state of being. Is it really difficult for editors and artists to remember that there are other ethnicities in the world? Apparently not. And it's not just Linda this happens to. DC recently fucked up (yet again) with Vixen. Strange how the white heroes are never 'accidentally' given a new ethnicity.
And on another gripe about that Secret Files and Origins issue, having now read the entire Flash v2 and v3 books, I feel pretty safe in saying that the Pied Piper is not an outspoken gay man. Not outspoken about his gayness anyway. In not one issue did he fight and champion for gay rights, and in fact his being gay was mentioned very rarely. His boyfriend was never labelled boyfriend, rather it was inferred.
This is all lame as a very lame thing.
And I'm still gutted over Bart Allen's death, but at least the storyline was really well done, and 'a gripping read', as they say.


Ami Angelwings said...

My sister is always amazed when I tell her various Asian characters in DC ARE Asian and she's like "THEY'RE ASIAN!?" cuz a lot of artists seem to think every person on Earth is white except for slight changes in hair colour and skin tone (and sometimes not even skin tone) >:|

The Truffle said...

IIRC, there was a story arc where Piper worked on a presidential campaign and was campaigning against a homophobic presidential candidate. Does that count?

Saranga said...

@the truffle - yeah it does. the above post reveals my selective memory, oops.