COMIC BOOK THEORY: THE "CAKE AND EAT IT TOO" GAMBIT - PART 2 (The Sequel to Part 1...this time it's personal)
When last we spoke on this subject, I cobbled together a bunch of funny pictures and talked a bit about Batgirl, and somehow I made a few good points. Ben Dunn re-posted the first entry on his Facebook page and this site here, cgmcginn.com saw unprecedented traffic, almost hitting 45 page views…almost. And for funzies, Ben posted Part 1 again today and I hit that sweet sweet 42 page views.
Seeing how I’m trending now, I figure now would be as good a time as any to release Part 2 of my thoughts on a Ninja High School reboot, comic books, and whatever the hell else comes to mind while I type and drink. Strap on your seat-belts kids and crank up the Nickelback. You’re in for a nerd-fueled ride into the mind on an obscure comic book fan! Roll the intro:
“Look at this photograph…something-something…it makes me laugh…”
In Part 1, I wrote about what DC Comics did right with the Batgirl story line during New 52. Re-read Part 1 for there will be no recap here.
If I were writing Ninja High School, here’s what I’d keep, and what I’d do differently—starting with characters.
I’m going to make the radical suggestion that Batgirl, and Jeremy Feeple are very similar, perhaps even two sides of the same coin. (There’s a Two-Face reference in there somewhere).
Jeremy is not violent by nature. He’s ordinary. He looks at the world in a certain way and makes judgments based on past experience and a moral code that he’s still forming. He’s only 16—he has a lot of growing up to do.
For much of the original run I felt that Jeremy was, ‘along for the ride’. He was pulled into a lot of strange situations that he didn’t ask for. He was the object of affection by both a ninja and an alien—hot. Every boy’s dream. It’s a great male fantasy and damnit it works!
But Jeremy’s ability to assert himself was often lacking. My teenage self at the time didn’t care about these sorts of heavy topics, but the dude who just turned 40 tends to look at things with, well, more experienced eyes—eyes which now need glasses to see.
Jeremy was the vehicle that my teenage self rode through these stories. He had personality but it was muted much of the time in order for us to see all the action and hilarity from everyone else.
It would be nice for there to be a bit more depth to Jeremy Feeple. Under the currently timeline, he experienced his father leaving him. In my proposed timeline, mom is out of the picture. In both cases that loss should impact him much more. He should have an edge. He shouldn’t be a punk, but there should be more grit around his character. Maybe he does well in school, but is also a bit full of himself. Maybe he’s aggressive in gym class. Maybe he’s a loaner, with only a small circle of friends. Maybe it takes a lot for him to warm to someone. Maybe the loss of his mother made him icy, so he’s had a string of sour relationships. He was burned by a first love and now he’s closed himself off. Enter Ichi and Asrial and suddenly their job to win his affection has gotten that much more difficult. The two smoke-shows show up and the boy just isn’t interested. How does one win the boy who doesn’t want to get hurt again?
Let’s get this out of the way: Asrial is fun and sexy eye-candy. She’s strong, she can do techie/mechanical/other-worldly shit. She looks great in short-shots, crop-tops, tank-tops, cut-offs, and body-suites. And there’s that whole furry thing with the ears…er…if that’s what you’re into.
If works! It’s great! The whole look sticks in the mind and has become synonymous with Ninja High School. All of what I just said has to stay. She’s one of the most well-rounded characters. She’s smart and sexy. She could be Batgirl. She should be Batgirl. She should fight crime when she’s not trying to woo Jeremy. I would read a series based entirely on Asrial, the same way I would play an entire Arkham game where Batgirl was the main character. More about that in a near-future post.
What Asrial needs in a reboot is more storylines that develop her and show that she can stand on her own, without Jeremy. She’s a strong female lead. She can kick ass and be independent. She don’t need no man!
But at the same time, I’m really happy with how she and Jeremy end up together in the original run. I feel like she went from the best-friend tag-along to the lover. Though I never fully understood where Jermey and Ichi, turned into Jeremy and Asrial. That was lost in the cobwebs of my mind or was never made clear.
Were the same scenario to play out again, there needs to be a breakup. There needs to be time to heal. Since it’s Ninja High School, there needs to be ninja’s sent to kill Jeremy, who are later called back when Ichi sees that revenge only works when your parents are shot outside of a theater and you have a strange obsession with bats.
Ichi is the wild-card in all this. Like Asrial, she’s strong and independent. What makes her different? Ambition? The Ninja Clan. Out of all the NHS primary character, she is the hardest to wrap my head around. She’s always been the most selfish character in the story—at first. And her development into someone who actually cares for Jeremy is a very well done transformation.
Storylines I Loved from the Original Run that should be Explored with Modern Themes
Lendo Rivalsan goes to Hell. The entire plot line where Lendo goes to Hell to save Jeremy’s soul was amazing to both my young mind, and as a concept. It was never fully developed but Lendo changed during that time in Hell. He sort of revert back to his old self once the story had run its course. It was a missed opportunity that could be rekindled in the reboot.
We also learned a great deal about Mimi Master. It was also a great tie-in to the Warrior Nun Areala, which is becoming a Netflix something-or-other, so it would be topical. Speaking of…
Mimi Masters as a character, in a story about Ninjas and Technology—both alien and steam, the fact that there magic is interesting. Magic, in a world that could otherwise be categorized as science fiction with martial arts—like the Matrix.
Mimi brings the whole philosophical, spiritual, supernatural element into the series—again, like the Matrix. It makes for a great tool to have in your comic-writing toolbox. It falls in line with Dr. Strange being part of the Avengers. You have Iron Man technology, but there’s also some dark and mysterious shit going down that not even Iron Man is prepared for. With Mimi, you have magic and demons and the idea of an afterlife, and magic missiles. There could be an entire story-line that would label the comic, fantasy, before bouncing back into something based in technology and/or Kung-Fu.
Kung-Fu: For much of the series, Jeremy’s girlfriend was a ninja. Let that sink in. Jeremy was dating a ninja. Why oh why did he not think to ask her to learn some moves? Not only would it help develop his relationship with Ichi, but it would be both humorous and maybe even rewarding. Jeremy learns some moves and then gets himself out of a jam. Jeremy and Ichi train together, and grow closer. Jeremy looks more like a developed character and less like a prop for the ladies.
His brother, Ricky was the ninja in the family while Jeremy remained ordinary. I say, make Jeremy start the story ordinary and develop into something more.
Here’s a small tangent. As you may have gathered from the first post, I’m a fan of Batgirl. Again, there should be an Arkham game for Batgirl. Recently I read Batgirl of Burnsides. Didn’t much care for it, but what they tried to do was make Batgirl—and a comic for that matter, hip to shit like social media. There were clones of Facebook, Tinder, and Spotify all over the place in that damn book. An underlying theme in Burnsides was how social media could be used for evil and nefarious ways, instead of, ya know, being used for evil and nefarious ways…
I think Burnsides went overboard with social media. But what was cool to see was that everyone had a smartphone, or a computer, or something that made them connected to everyone and everything else. Good or bad, it showed the kind of world we live in and didn’t try to remake some ideal time from days gone by. It’s a question that is asked in a lot of older science fiction: in a world with cell phones, how would this story be different. Think about a movie like Starwars. What if they had cell phones, text messaging, social media platforms?
What if Ninja High School had a social media platform? What would a computer powered by steam look like? What if Dimension X were a computer simulation instead of another realm that exists in the backwaters of space and time?
I’m going to stop here. This series of posts probably requires a part 3, or a well paying job, or a side-hustle, or no money at all but commissions from time to time. Whatever the case, I’m not finished with these ideas. I just have to stop writing before I start vomiting words on paper.