Friday, January 25, 2008

Luck Of The Irish?

I'd been thinking of putting up this panel for a bit just because I like her expression. Bridget Clancy has previously appeared on this blog, but given my Oracle post this week I decided to do a post specifically dealing with Clancy.
Clancy(she prefers to be refered to by her last name) first appeared way back in the fall of 1996 in issue two of DC Comics' Nightwing. Nightwing is the current superhero identity of Dick Grayson, the original Robin. If you haven't read comics since the 1970s or are only familiar with Batman from the 1960s TV series, cartoons or the feature films you may not have realised he isn't Robin anymore. He took up the Nightwing identity way back in 1984, deciding it was time to move on from being Robin. This was chronicled during "The Judas Contract" storyline of The New Teen Titans comic series, which you can read in the trade paperback of the same name.
(There have been three Robins since:
-Dick's original replacement Jason Todd, who proved unpopular enough that a 1988 phone in poll of fans saw them vote for his demise by a narrow margin, and he was subsequently killed by the Joker. He has recently been brought back from the dead, to some derision.
-Tim Drake, the current Robin, who got the role in part because he figured out that Dick was the original Robin, and through that revelation deterimined that Bruce Wayne was Batman.
-Stephanie Brown, who briefly replaced Drake, although she had already been active as a superhero under the name Spoiler. The presentation of her brief tenure as Robin, role in starting a disastrous gang war in Gotham, and torture at the hands of the villain Black Mask, causing her death, has been considered by some to be an obvious example of the "Women in Refrigerators" problem. )
Nightwing starts with Dick being sent to Bludhaven, a city located a bit downriver from Gotham, by Batman to investigate the murder of 21 gang members found in Gotham harbour. He decides to set up shop in Bludhaven and finds an apartment in a building managed by Clancy. In her first few appearances he, and the readers, don't see her face, but he finds her Irish accent attractive. It's only in the sixth issue that we finally see her face. We soon learn that she was born in Hong Kong and adopted by an Irish couple as a baby.
An attraction soon develops between them and they casually date. Or rather, try to. As is often the case with superheros Dick's secret life gets in the way. For example in the sequence that the panel above is taken from(seen in issue thirty) Dick and Clancy are headed out to a movie when a phonecall from Oracle leads to Dick having to run off to rescue a street kid turned vigilante who is about to be murdered because he calls himself Nite-Wing and hence has been mistaken for Nightwing. Clancy of course knows none of this and is rather annoyed, especially since this isn't the first time Dick has run off without warning.
Unfortunately for Clancy her interest in Dick proves to be stronger than her interest in him. He redevelops a romantic interest in Oracle, who he had dated back when Barbara Gordon was Batgirl. With the demise of their romance Clancy pretty much disappears from Nightwing, making only a couple of brief appearances afterward. In issue 55 Chuck Dixon, original writer on the series and creator of Clancy, effectively wrote her out of the story when she's taken to hospital after an accidental electrocution. Whether he intended to use her again or not Dixon was soon replaced by writer Devon Grayson, who would go on to disassemble much of what Dixon had created, to much controversy.
People talk of the luck of the Irish, and perhaps Clancy caught some of that luck. Being written out of the story saved her life, as Blockbuster, the would be kingpin of crime in Bludhaven who has been repeatedly foiled by Dick, eventually figures out Nightwing's secret identity and blows up his apartment in revenge, killing most of the residents. Fortunately for Clancy she is no longer manager of the apartment, having gone off to medical school after receiving a scholarship from the Wayne Foundation, allowing her to fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a doctor.
Clancy probably also got lucky that her romance with Dick didn't go very far. His long term romantic relationships haven't worked out too well. His wedding to Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran, better known to the people of Earth as the superheroine Starfire, was literally stopped at the altar due to a crisis involving their fellow Titan Raven, and their relationship subsequently dissolved. In more recent years he and Barbara Gordon became engaged, only for Oracle to decide they weren't ready to be married. And of course there's the general problem that the romantic interests of male superheros tend to be the victims of the attentions of their enemies. Not to mention the aversion some comic book professionals seem to have towards permanent relationships, as seen with Marvel's recent magic dissolution of Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane in the "One More Day" storyline.
After the events of DC's controversial 2005 crossover event (aren't they all these days?) Infinite Crisis Nightwing, after a year travelling the world with Batman and Robin, settles down in New York. There he encounters Clancy, who has a psychiatric residency at New York's Bellevue Hospital. Readers end up having to engage in a good bit of suspension of disbelief when Nightwing first saves Clancy from being choked by one of her patients, then asks her for possible insight into why the resurrected Jason Todd is trying to blacken his name by killing criminals while pretending to be Nightwing. Strangely Clancy shows no signs of recognising that Nightwing and Dick Grayson, who she shared a building with and dated for an extended period, are the same person. One would think the small mask he wears and whatever efforts he goes to in disguising his voice wouldn't be enough with someone who knows him well.
Compare this with what happened with Mia Dearden. A teenage runaway who became a prostitute to survive Mia's life takes a turn for the better after encountering Green Arrow. He tells her to seek out Oliver Queen, in reality his secret identity, for help in getting off the street. She does so, and when they meet it takes her mere seconds to recognise they're the same person, despite meeting Green Arrow only briefly under stressful circumstances. You'd think Clancy would do so equally as quickly.
Of all the artists I've seen draw Clancy I favour the original, Scott McDaniel. His take on her looks most like an actual, specific person, while some other artists strike me, if I may be sarcastic, as more "generic attractive young Asian woman #2." One interesting thing about the character is that her eye colour has varied. When we first see her, and in many subsequent appearances, her eyes are green. In others they're brown. Lazy colouring, or are we supposed to think she wears green contacts?
And to end, if anyone is wondering despite some of the pictures I've posted on here no, I don't have a fetish for Asian women with short hair. No more than I have one for Asian women with long hair.

1 comment:

Brent McKee said...

Well in the case of Mia, I suspect the giveaway was the beard. Pretty distinctive to the point where someone who figured out his identity in about two seconds said something like "It was supposed to be a secret?"