Friday, August 5, 2011

DCnÜ Domino Dancing: Bloodwynd

It's really hard not to throw an umlaut at Bloodwynd when I have one ready to copy and paste. Blüdwynd! I realize that would actually convert it phonetically to "Blued-wind," but it isn't as if the "y" doesn't already render that terrible name extra ridiculous. By the way, if any more websites want to steal the top image (you're welcome BTW,) please be aware of what should be obvious: that it was hacked together out of multiple Bart Sears images and some really shoddy MS Paint action as an April Fool's gag. There was even a CBR thread at one point wondering why the series hadn't ever come out. Poor bastards.

I'll save the relative lack of merits of Bloodwynd for another time, though. The reason I bring him up is because a thought occurred to me this week following response to my posting a Comicpalooza 2011 commission of the dude. See, beginning with the Zero Hour timeline established in the mid-90s, the modern DC "heroic age" began with the first appearance of Superman something like 12 to 15 years ago on a sliding scale. That's a bit much, and was mostly due to excesses like delaying Robin's debut until three years in and the entire year everyone took off during 52. The timeline was in need of Slimfast to get it down to below a decade, but the sequence of events was fair enough. DCnÜ promises that Superman's entire career now only spans five years, which casts serious doubts over huge swaths of old DC history in hopes of a shiny nÜ one. We're not even sure if Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and/or Tim Drake ever served as a Robin, so what are the odds a derivative, forgettable character like Bloodwynd even exists anymore?

Pretty decent, surprisingly. When asked about which Superman stories were still in the cannon, a senior editor (Eddie Berganza?) stated only one tale outside the most basic mythos, "The Death of Superman." I'm sure a relatively recent direct-to-DVD animated movie and its being one of the best selling comic stories of all time played into that. In fact, one of Bloodwynd's saving graces is that he became among the most visible black super-heroes by virtue of his relatively prominent appearance in that story, courtesy of creator Dan Jurgens. Of course, seeing as this is the DCnÜ, can we look forward to a Post-Flashpoint revision in the manner that so many major reworkings of Pre-Crisis stories played out? Was it now our own Martian Manhunter standing with Superman near the end (before conveniently vanishing to "recover from injuries" until Doomsday was dead?) Seeing as we have a DCnÜ Justice League International title by (once again) Dan Jurgens, there's something of an inside source with a vested interest in preserving the story as is. Still, worth pondering. Do you think "The Death of Superman" as presented is immutable, and if not, how do you see it playing out in nÜ-vision?


Tom Hartley said...

Even if Bloodwynd appears in a "Death of Superman" flashback, and this flashback appearance somehow leads to a Bloodwynd revival -- maybe with Bloodwynd rejoining JLI? -- someone might streamline Bloodwynd's history by claiming he was never impersonated by J'Onn, and that it was the real Bloodwynd who joined JLI and participated in "Death of Superman". Bloodwynd will remain with us, by J'Onn will be written out of "Death of Superman". (Whether it's DCnU or DCnO for Bloodwynd, I've typed his name more than enough times for one lifetime, and vow never to do so again.)

LissBirds said...

Was there ever an original Bloodwynd that wasn't impersonated by J'onn? (This is getting in that part of comics continuity that I know so little about.)

And Superman is only to have been around for five years? I wonder how many years J'onn's been operating before the formation of the JLA? (Has anyone at DC said anything about that?)

Diabolu Frank said...

I didn't want to nitpick Tom's use of "impersonated," but since there's an actual question-- gonna.

Bloodwynd isn't just a character, but also a situation. Few people care enough to address that situation, because it is a can of worms, and even the best answer is a confusing interpretation of events rather than firm fact. I can only offer my best take.

Bloodwynd was an original creation of writer/artist Dan Jurgens for inclusion in Justice League America. Bloodwynd is an entirely separate entity from J'Onn J'Onzz with his own origin. His alter ego remains unknown, and his powers undefined, aside from being based in necromancy. Presumably he has powers similar to the Martian Manhunter's. He has often associated with questionable characters, and often failed to act in the interests of heroism, casting the nature of his relationship with the Justice League in question.

Rott is a demonic entity who is at odds with Bloodwynd. The Martian Manhunter stumbled upon one of their battles, and was possessed by one or both characters. The controlling entity transformed J'Onn J'Onzz into Bloodwynd's image, and arranged for "Bloodwynd" to join the Justice League. The rational offered for this was that Rott wished to locate a power source for some scheme, which would indicate that Rott was the controlling entity. Taking the form of Bloodwynd would be contraindicated, so perhaps Bloodwynd was the controlling entity partial influenced by Rott. Alternately, J'Onn J'Onzz may have had influence that either prevented his body from taking on the more welcome form of Martian Manhunter, or perhaps guided Rott/Bloodwynd to the League in hopes that they would uncover the scheme. However, it could be as simple as Rott not believing he could keep up a masquerade as J'Onn J'Onzz, so he chose the less familiar Bloodwynd identity.

So, the short of the long is that Bloodwynd is a real person with a painfully ill-defined relationship with J'Onn J'Onzz that still puzzles readers twenty years after his debut.

Tom Hartley said...

Didn't Jurgens leave the book after revealing that Wyndy was really MM? I don't think Jurgens cared about Wyndy as a character in his own right. He was just a plot device. We have this mysterious new member who's secretly a returning old member. Kinda' like Sensor Girl in the Legion (wiki it, Liss), only Jurgens' twist was that the mystery hero wasn't just a fictional identity, that there was also a real guy who was being held prisoner in some other dimension. But Jurgens' interest didn't extend beyond the big reveal, so the real Wyndy was left to the tender mercies of other writers.

Sorry you didn't think "impersonated" was a precise enough term, but... who cares? Probably not Dan Jurgens.

Could Jurgens be responsible for a League even less loved than Justice League Detroit? JLD has at least one fan.

And it's not just to keep my vow that I'm calling him Wyndy. It's actually a better name.

Anyway, any writer who thinks Wyndy is cool for some reason, and who can convince DC to keep Wyndy around, should use the nÜboot as an opportunity to ditch the silly and confusing J'Onn-as-Wyndy business and just say it was the real Wyndy who joined the Justice League, not someone imp*****ating him. What about Rott? One less comic book demon from another dimension with a stupid name may as well be one less cockroach. Give Wyndy a new origin and a new baddy. Maybe something interesting this time.

Diabolu Frank said...

Tom, it's just that there is SO much confusion about Bloodwynd, that I get itchy when I see a relatively accurate statement that could be misconstrued... which is exactly what happened when Liss read it. My take would be Rott impersonating Bloodwynd through the shapeshifting abilities of Martian Manhunter's body. I just hate to think 75% of Bloodwynd's appearances were outright frauds, but the one thing that is clear is that J'Onn J'Onzz was not behind the wheel. J'Onn was just the flesh suit for Rott and/or Bloodwynd.

I never caught the Sensor Girl connection, but you're dead on. Didn't Jurgens even draw some of those issues? My only argument against Bloodwynd being solely intended as a plot device was his having a fairly elaborate origin and his prominence in the Death of Superman. I think Jurgens was making a calculated attempt at creating a hot '90s antihero (possibly at the suggestion of an editor,) but his heart wasn't in it, nor was reader interest. Once killing Superman made him a name, Jurgens decided to just ride that out, and slapped together a quick resolution while exiting the book.

JLD has a lot of fans. It's a case of a run becoming infamous for its negative reception, curious readers rubbernecking in longboxes, and discovering it was actually a much better book than its reputation. It also helps that every time they need to mention Leaguers that stayed dead, there's always Paco and Hank. Vibe is also a running joke/kitsch figure.

Jurgens J.L.A., or as I like to call it, "Superman and his Adequate Friends," has comparatively little love. Giffen & DeMatteis fans hated it for not being funny and ruining their characters. Satellite Era fans still resented the JLI members. The stories were crap and the relationships were toxic. When someone decides to positively reevaluate Extreme Justice, I might have to pause, but by my reckoning, this period was just the set-up for that tripe.

I don't think any writers care about Wyndy. I don't think they could make sense of him. Fans, specifically African-American fans, once had an interest given that he was really powerful and briefly prominent. I'm not sure how much of that interest remains, though. I like Bloodwynd's look and potential, but the name is terrible, and the continuity worse.