So Chasing Life, one of my favorite new shows of the last few years, got cancelled earlier this month. Worse still (depending on how you look at things) it ended with most of its ongoing plots unresolved, including the one where Brenna Carver dealt with the return of ex-girlfriend and fellow cinnamon roll Greer Danville to Boston. The episode itself indicated that Brenna was getting ready for a night out with Greer at the New England Aquarium, before being interrupted by other events. We never got to see the date, which is an absolute crime, particularly since we hadn’t seen Greer all season. So I wrote it.
At the entrance to the New England Aquarium, Greer Danville tried not to pace.
She wasn’t normally this anxious. Correction: she wasn’t normally this visibly anxious. Correction correction: she wasn’t normally this excited. Yes, that was better. In any case, it was all Brenna Carver’s fault.
Greer had not known what to expect when she’d showed up at Brenna’s house the previous day. The two former girlfriends were still on friendly terms, and their break-up had everything to do with external factors and nothing to do with the way they actually felt about each other, but still, a lot could change in five months. Brenna’s social media feed, at least, had suggested some level of moving on, and Greer had convinced herself that she was fine with that, if that was the case.
(Correction: almost convinced herself.)
The rest of the fic can be read at Fanfiction.net.
[Content Note: Transphobic representations]
As the #SummerOfAnswers rolled on, my favorite A theory was by Rachel Watkins, who runs the PLL Theorist Tumblr. According to the theory posted on May 22, 2015, A, then believed to be Charles Dilaurentis, would turn out to be Cece Drake, who knew and loved Charles while they were both in Radley, and loved him until the day Charles died. After that moment, Cece decided to play the game, becoming the first A. I didn’t agree with all of it—I’ve always believed that Mona originated the A identity and iconography on her own, like the show claimed, and that whomever almost killed Alison simply used it as a new way to carry on with what they were already separately doing—but it felt satisfying; if the show had ended up doing something like that—and it did—I would have been happier than I would have been with almost any other resolution. I liked Cece as A: not only did I enjoy the character of Cece, she’d been made into a big enough figure in the history of the show to make her a satisfying answer. Granted, she didn’t have much of a reason to torment the Liars, but the same could be said of most other viable suspects, and the series latter de-emphasizing of the high school and family elements seemed to suggest that the Liars’ actual connection to A’s larger motives would be tangential at best.
Other, not altogether dissimilar theories also had Cece as A, but also took the season 5 finale’s revelation that A was Charles (Dilaurentis, as eventually confirmed in season 6) at face value. Charles, the theories explained, was actually trans, and eventually grew up to be Cece Drake. While they kept Cece as A and were more in tune with what the show actually seemed to be setting up—it initially suggested Charles was actually dead before revealing that no, he was still alive—it was an extremely unsatisfying theory, largely because it would mean that the person who had tormented Alison Dilaurentis, the Liars, and increasingly large amounts of people, and who had killed several people during the course of the show, was also the only trans character in the show. Said theory, if true, would be a slap in the face to the show’s many trans fans, to the people who had come to see the show as a (decidedly imperfect) oasis in a universe still hostile to LGBTA people, and to the young watchers who deserve better than to being misled about trans people. No matter the execution, it would make Pretty Little Liars’ universe into one where cis people could be very many things, and trans people would be the one thing they always were in television, killers or victims or both. Even if the show attempted to somehow redeem A the way it had done with its previous villains, there was no guarantee that it would work, and her narrative would never stop reinforcing the idea that trans people are fundamentally dishonest and dangerous, which is the opposite of the truth and an idea that constantly endangers them. Therefore, it seemed too terrible a possibility to contemplate.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that we will almost certainly not be seeing Greer this season. Given production schedules, the abridged episode order, and her role in the show, there’s no reason for us not to have heard about Gracie Dzienny’s return, if it were going to happen. This, on one hand, is disappointing, because Greer is absolutely wonderful. On the other hand, it’s also super-interesting, largely because if this were any other show, there’s no way she wouldn’t be around. At this point, it’s impossible for the writers not to know that she’s a fan favorite. There’s no scheduling conflicts that I’m aware of that would have prevented her from being around, unless Dzienny is simply not focusing on acting right now. The only reason I can think of for her absence is that the writers are incredibly committed to a plan, and that plan means that Greer cannot be in the picture for now.
The weird thing, though, is, that as “The Life of Brenna” shows, Greer is very much still in the picture: the episode is framed by an e-mail communications between her and Brenna, marking Greer as a confidant and repository of all of her former girlfriend’s angst about changing schools, her sister April’s cancer, and a life that seems to be spinning out of her control. She is obliquely alluded to when the show alludes to a character’s mentally ill ex, which accurately describes Greer during the second half of the first season. If there was ever an episode that merited a cameo, this was it. But no. Not that the episode suffers for this absence, as even without our favorite eco-club president, “Life of Brenna” still manages to be a fantastic showcase for its title character. Leer el resto de esta entrada »
Because the one thing you must absolutely do immediately after saving the world is to take pictures of your accomplishment. I’ve already defeated Omega, so now it’s time to see if my plucky band of girls (plus the token boy) can’t also defeat Shinryuu.
One of the claims I often noticed made when comparing the Peta Wilson La Femme Nikita to its successor, Maggie Q’s Nikita, is that it is both considerably more dark and more gray than its successor. After finishing season one of Femme, I have to agree with the first part of that assessment: while Nikita is a story that is fundamentally about the possibility of fighting impossible odds and winning without having to give up one’s soul—even if that soul has plenty of red in its ledger—the earlier show, or at least its first season, is about the futility of even trying. It makes for a work that is fascinating, yet unpleasant to watch, particularly since the writers and showrunners appear to have no idea of just how dark the story they’re telling actually is.
Both versions of the story, like all versions of the Nikita story, feature at its center a quasi-legitimate black-ops group which forces their “recruits”, including Nikita, to become spies and assassins—spyssassins—at gunpoint. Femme‘s is called Section One, and is, the show wants us to believe, mostly involved in legitimate counterintelligence—stopping terrorists, procuring WMD’s before they fall into The Wrong Hands, etcetera. Nikita‘s organization, on the other hand, is called Division, and is explicitly presented as a group which, unbeknownst to the rank and file, has been almost wholly corrupted by its director, who basically uses it as a way to accrue money and power for himself. The difference in the way the organizations are portrayed are largely a result of the two different stories each series is trying to tell: La Femme Nikita is a story about Nikita when she is inside, and therefore needs her to be doing arguably good work for Section One, while Nikita is about a Nikita who is on the outside trying to bring down Division, and therefore needs the organization to be a bad guy.
The year 2009 brought about a seismic shift to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: after twenty-five years as a mom-and-pop property–albeit a ridiculously successful one–the intellectual property was sold to Viacom, and more specifically Nickelodeon, an entity that would not, and did not, waste any time capitalizing upon it. Only an entity like Nick could have been able to take a cartoon series that lasted six years and almost a hundred and fifty episodes and make it seem like a footnote in TMNT history, but that’s precisely what happened; with the turtles once again in comic book stores, tv screens and movie theaters, the last few years have been like 1991 all over again.
However, this is not, in fact, 1991, a time when Eastman and Laird were willing, if not always happy, to let almost anyone play with their toys: Nickelodeon appears to keep the turtles on a much shorter leash. Even when characters like Karai get radically reinvented, it feels like a boundary exists; the turtles must not pass this point. They can’t be radical, just Radical (TM). Therefore it is not surprising to see that April is once again and three times over, a white woman.
More interesting for the purposes of this series is the fact that IDW Publishing’s license to create and publish TMNT books gave them the ability to reprint the old Mirage and Archie material, and that the company has thus been making books that were out of print for decades available once again. More interesting still, the reprinted Mirage material, much of it originally in black and white, is being recolored, meaning that various colorists have been tasked with looking at the various looks of April O’Neil and drawing conclusions about just what it was the original creators intended, and deciding whether or not they’ll stick to that original intent.
So yeah, lots to cover here. One note before we begin, though: these images are organized in more or less chronological order, and while that’s easy enough to establish with the books, I’ve had to rely on some educated guesswork when it comes to the images relating to the cartoon and film. So there’s that.
Before we head of to our exploration of the Nickelodeon era–with its three new (white) versions of April, and, more importantly given the subject matter of this series, IDW’s color reprints of old Mirage issues–I want to devote this section to some random stuff: additional images, information on related concepts, and clarifications on some of my thinking on the various topics dealt with here.
My third Four Job Fiesta, and my second victory. This time, I attempted a Random Run–you’re given jobs taken from a pool of all job choices, instead of just newly-available jobs–and while I enjoyed last year’s team more, this particular combination made the end game far less painful.
Despite the obscene amount of variant covers offered by IDW for their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30th Anniversary Special, there was no question which one was the coolest. Drawn by Ozzy Fernández and inked by Tony Kordos, the Heroes Haven wraparound variant cover, featuring the turtles and their allies about to do battle with the franchise’s most popular villains, was pure nostalgia porn. The Shredder, Baxter Stockman, the Technodrome, the Rat King, Casey Jones and –ing Ace Duck, all in one official image, and all in their most iconic looks? It seemed too good to be true. And it was, because lost in the shuffle was one character who most definitively should have been there : April O’Neil, the property’s most prominent female character and arguably the most iconic character in the franchise after the turtles themselves, is nowhere to be seen in the cover (*). Without her, the image felt incomplete; worse, it meant that the cover featured some twenty male characters and no women .
And so, despite being lucky enough to be present at the event where this limited-distribution cover would be first sold—Puerto Rico Comic Con—I wasn’t sure I’d get the cover. Not only was April’s absence pretty much a deal-breaker, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about having to spend twenty dollars on a book I already owned, fantastic art or not. Fortunately, I didn’t have to, as cheaper prints of the image were also available for sale—prints where April O’Neil was very much present and prominent.
Something was up.
I’d originally intended to ask the people there on Heroes Haven’s behalf—which included the artists for the cover in question, there to promote their work—just why April was absent from the cover. Now aware of the print, I had an idea of what the reason was, and a quick conversation seemed to settle it: apparently Nickelodeon, who owns the turtles and has to approve every bit of licensed art, had asked that she be removed. A post located on Fernández’s Facebook page makes the same claim.
I had my awesome print, and two new questions:
1) If the claim is true—and I have no reason to doubt that it is—why had Nickelodeon asked for April to be removed from the cover?
2) Was this the only time it had happened?
There’s reason to believe that this wasn’t a one-time deal. A few weeks back, IDW released the cover image for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures Volume 8, the latest in their trade paperback collection of the comic book series originally published by Archie during the early nineties. Again, April was nowhere to be seen, despite the fact that the stories collected in the book all prominently featured her. The absence was glaring enough that it made me think back to previous covers, only to remember, rather effortlessly, that she had, in fact, been absent from all of them (**). One of the most well-known characters in the franchise, and one who was more prominent in the collected stories than many of the (male) characters who did show up in the covers, and she appeared to have been neglected multiple times by multiple artists. And while the reason for April’s absence is self-evident in some cases—either she wasn’t prominent in the stories collected in the book, such as with Volumes 2 and 3, or the scene depicted in the cover didn’t include April in the original story, such as with Volumes 1 and 7—no single explanation that I could see existed to explain all the absences. The cover for Volume 5, for example, depicts a scene from the book which originally featured April along with the turtles; why, then, isn’t she there in the reproduction?
Before Puerto Rico Comic Con, it was impossible to say why this was the case: there were too many potential whats, whos and whys, and too little available information. Is April’s continued absence the result of a mandate, or had different artists with different biases all independently realized that they didn’t care to feature her in their covers? Had April just been unlucky enough to fall victim to a series of what are essentially coincidences? Now, at least, some light has been shed on the situation—enough to make it clear that we need more.
(*) It’s also worth noting that April is not just absent from the Special’s covers; she is absent from the covers, absent from the stories, and absent from the pin-ups. If the book were a person’s first taste of the TMNT, that person would have no idea that a character called April O’Neil ever existed, or that she is nearly as old as the turtles, being introduced in the very second issue of the original comic book.
(**) She’s not the only one, as so far only one of the series’ handful of prominent female characters has ever appeared in a collection cover. See if you can spot her.