I suppose starting off an article with a definition is a bit cliché, but if you are on the Internet, chances are you know what a Mary Sue is.
Why am I discussing this? In the wake of DC’s new launch, there has been much discussion. Some are happy, others sad, some angry. All of this is understandable, of course, but there was one criticism that I found to be baffling.
“I can’t read Birds of Prey. It has a Mary Sue!”
This is more common than you think. It seems nearly every major book coming from the big time press has been accused of hoisting Mary Sues on the public.
Specifically, the Mary Sue in question is the new character Starling. How is she a Mary Sue? Best as I can tell, her back story is as follows:
She is friendly with Black Canary, and was recruited to the team. I’m guessing her origin will be expanded in future issues.
That seems to be it, or least the main gist of it. There have also been some complaints about her hair length, a subject which baffles me. How does hair length factor into anything? No time is spent on it, at least no more than any other character. Most Mary Sues are shown to perfect and/or taking time any from the established characters. How is Starling doing this? From what I read, she uses a gun (not out of character for a Bird of Prey to use a lethal weapon), seems to be speaking terms with Black Canary, and can drive a car.
Perhaps the Black Canary connection was used to try and get her over with the fans? If they just had her show up, no explanation, the readers might be bored, but by saving she knows an established character, perhaps that is just short hand for a proper origin until they get around to doing it. Besides, since this is a new continuity, why bring any of this up anyway? Black Canary is a new character, right? DC’s use of continuity is a post in its own right, and a major headache to boot.
Lacking such analytical insights or clairvoyance, perhaps I’m not seeing what is obvious to so many people. If the next few issues of Birds of Prey just have every single character praising Starling and saying how she’s a better marital artist than Black Canary and a better detective than Batman, ok, she might be a Mary Sue. So far, her only sin seems to be being a new character. I won’t make demands of anyone, but I’ll wait for a few more issues before I decide.
But isn’t that what people want? Comic publishers seem damned no matter what; if they create a new character, why? The readers won’t buy it/demand the return of the old ones (go to any message board and say Jaime Reyes was better than Ted Kord), but if they stick with old characters, then they are told they are stagnant.
I think I’ll stop with the comic thoughts for a while. I’ll be doing some holiday-themed posts later.