Saturday, June 23, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Doctor Light

Despite a last minute rally, Professor Amos Fortune earned only 33.33% positive votes out of 18, and has been escorted off the island like a card counter out of a casino.

The reason I push the Vile Menagerie so hard is because I want creators to recognize, utilize, and respect the foes of the Martian Manhunter. Doctor Light's occasional inclusion in this rogues gallery runs counter to all these goals, because he's a toxic slut. Debuting in 1962's Justice League of America #12, Light's gimmick was to teleport each Justice League member to a world representing their greatest weakness. At this point, the team was still pretty much the Founding Five, so Dr. Light didn't account for Superman and Batman, who helped rescue the rest of the team. The defeat wasn't humiliating, and a better villain could have come back from it to plague the team again, but not Dr. Light. Instead, he became a guest villain in the Leaguers' various solo titles, starting with perhaps the least impressive option, the Atom. Green Lantern, the Flash, the World's Finest duo-- everyone got a turn.

The first time anyone ever thought of Dr. Light as a Martian Manhunter villain was due to the cover of 1968's JLofA #61, which featured the bifurcated faces of heroes and matching foes. Tattooed Man, Captain Boomerang, Lex Luthor, the Penguin, I.Q. and the Floronic Man were all matched with appropriate Leaguers, while Aquaman was deemed sad enough to get a terrible new and rarely seen since archfiend, Cutlass Charlie. Unfortunately, no one could be bothered to extend the same courtesy to Green Arrow or J'onn J'onzz, so they were stuck with a pair of League leftovers, Dr. Destiny and Doctor Light. The Alien Atlas and Arthur Light had a brief fight where each of them won a round, but no "final battle" action, though good obviously won the day.

Dr. Light continued to alternate run-ins with the League as a whole (often with other villains) and appearances in solo titles. Martian Manhunter checked out for most of the Bronze Age, so they had no further contact in that period. Burning through his credibility before the end of the '70s, Light was downgraded to a Teen Titans foe, and not even one they took terribly seriously after a throwdown or two. By the time Martian Manhunter returned to the League in the mid-80s, Light was all washed up, and only began appearing again in the book super-villains literally went to die, Suicide Squad. While he managed to survive the experience, Light hardly thrived, never gaining the cult cool cache of other Squaders.

By the late '90s, Dr. Light was an occasional Green Lantern foil, which landed him on an Injustice Gang where he functioned in that capacity, while Jemm was pitted against J'Onn J'Onzz. In the nostalgic retcon mini-event The Silver Age, Dr. Light impersonated Martian Manhunter to battle Robby Reed's H-Dial heroes. A few years later, it was revealed that Light had once raped the Elongated Man's wife, and a subsequent mindwipe by Zatanna had rendered him the pale shadow of a threat he'd descended into decades prior. The revelation caused the Martian Manhunter's signature JLA incarnation to split up, and he hasn't been a member of the team since. However, Dr. Light's impact on Martian Manhunter's career was tangential to his becoming DC Comics' official super-sodomite, licking his lips as he made sexual threats to female characters. Ironically, Light's most persistent foe in these years was the womanizing Green Arrow, who'd been stuck with Dr. Destiny decades earlier on that one JLofA cover.

Dr. Rapist wasn't really a tenable position in mainstream comics, especially after he went back to fighting adolescent girls in the Teen Titans. Light was part of a whole group of villains who assisted in the kidnapping and execution style killing of J'Onn J'Onzz. Arthur was one of two lesser lights involved with the murder who were ironically dispatched by the Spectre, and aside from his reanimated corpse causing trouble during Blackest Night, that was that. Dr. Arthur Light has impacted on Martian Manhunter's life a number of times, but he's done so as the veritable embodiment of a particularly painful kind of villain. He is the preexisting "game" villain arbitrarily assigned to a hero by an ill-informed and uncaring team book writer who couldn't be bothered to do any research into a matter as basic to comics as who normally fights the protagonist. Worse, Light's a well known incompetent whose deviancy has been detrimental to the integrity of comics as a whole. Despite a handful of consequential but dispassionate encounters, there's no real relationship between the hero and villain, and Martian Manhunter is only diminished through reference to any association with such a scumbag.


mathematicscore said...

Indeed, while Dr. Retcon-Rapist was involved in J'onn's death (a most significant moment in our boys overall story,) he's never had the one on one enmity I think the Menagerie should merit. Lobo has more going for him.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'm trying to get the Vile Menagerie down to the "true believers," and Dr. Light is just another hanger-on.

live sports said...

nice post

will_in_chicago said...

I would say kick Dr. Light off the Island, resurrect Wonder Woman's sisters on Themyscira and turn the scumbag over to them.

While the revelation of Dr. Light's treatment by the Justice League may have broke apart J'Onn's team, I don't think that the bad doctor is particularly a foe for J'Onn. (Honestly, part of me would not have minded if the League had just put Dr. Light in exile on some forsaken planet where he could be king of a barren world.)

Dr. Light is a villain who has been a fill in. Worse, he is now associated with an abuse of a well loved character (part of the few funcitonal couples in the old DCU). So, J'Onn deserves better than this miserable person for a villain. Honestly, I think that a case can be made for not reviving Dr. Light in the DCnU. (If he does come back, I would like to see a quick and permanent death, with Neron thinking of something particularly inventive for him. (Perhaps Neron can run a dimensional superhighway through Dr. Light's body and his various orifices could serve as the highway exit ramps.)

Diabolu Frank said...

In the New 52, the Themyscirans aren't that much different from Dr. Light. I wouldn't want to run the risk of siring Lady Light of Fist Island.

will_in_chicago said...

Frank, so I guess Wonder Woman stands out more from her people than before. Hmm, maybe it might be best if Sue and Ralph Dibny did not come back in the DCnU.