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  1. #1

    Default Madelyne Pryor: Victim of the Refrigerator

    Reposted from Alvaro's, in response to a ( sadly ) typical Scott/Jean/Maddie 80's X-Men retroactive hate thread...

    I'm sorry, but to put it like that, even when discussing a fictional character, is something that deeply bothers me. Regardless of your feelings for Maddie as a character, her treatment stands as one of the worst excesses of misogyny in mainstream superhero comics. It's on the level of Sue Dibny's murder and retroactive rape in Identity Crisis...and in some ways, worse.

    I've realized what bothers me the most about the nightmare of bad comics that was Inferno, and it's not just that retconning Maddie into a clone and making her a psycho proves that superhero comics are more about continuity housekeeping and not storytelling. It's that in order to resolve the plot-line of Scott ditching Maddie, it wasn't that Scott was punished, but that Maddie was.

    The topic of whether or not Scott was justified in bolting ( even if he told Maddie it would be temporary ) when he learned of Jean's ressurection has been beaten to death, but her subsequent treatment in Inferno is not just crappily written, but ideologically troubling. In Chris Claremont's X-Men title, where Maddie tags along with Storm's team after losing everything ( husband, son, house, finances, all records of ever existing ), she is shown as an admirable woman, who survives and even assists her husband's comrades despite having nothing but her own skills. If this was the extent of it-- Maddie being put through hell and finding a way to cope-- it would be a great story. Even the part where Maddie learns about Scott leaving her for Jean and having a psychotic break.

    But the psychotic break is not used as grounds for further character development, but a way to write the character out of the franchise. When learning about her husband's " infidelity ", Maddie makes a deal with demons to gain power. She starts dressing in scant black leather as part of her new identity, and clearly sexualizes herself ( to the point of taking Havok from a close friend she bonded with over their respective suffering, and into being a boy-toy ). Her break from being human is further dramatized by learning that she literally was not a human; that Mr. Sinister ( the villain equivalent of a Mary Sue back then, tied into everything ) had created her from scratch as a means of producing Scott's child. If the idea that women have no point but to make babies wasn't clear enough, now it's literal!

    So thus, instead of Scott and Maddie having a serious conversation about his sins, we get Maddie transformed into a whorish demonic supervillainess, and her final battle is with Jean Grey. Just compare and contrast Jean, the Virgin Mary of the X-Men who is completely clothed and portrayed as the pinnacle of human kindness and decency, and Madelyne, who at this point is just a " psycho bitch " who cheated on her husband with his brother ( a point that should not matter, as the Scott/Maddie marriage had long since died before then ). Jean wins the fight; not only does she manage to stop Maddie, but she becomes the only version of Jean Grey in existence by absorbing the other two, and gains custody of Maddie's son ( and by the by, even though Jean is Nathan's mother in the emotional sense, she didn't actually carry him. More of Jean's chastity at work here ).

    Christ, if that's not a superheroic rendition of the Virgin/Whore complex, I don't know what is.

    What I'm asking is for people to put aside for a moment the shipping debates-- whether or not Scott belongs with Jean or Maddie or Emma or Squirrel Girl for all I care-- and realize the larger problem with our genre. If superhero comics are accused of being a " He-Man Women Hater's Club ", stories like Inferno support that claim.

  2. #2
    Imagination and Bravery Double 0's Avatar
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    I agree with you, but Mary wasn't the only victim out of this situation.

    The person she "originated" has also suffered from some terribly written segments either to write her off (Dark Phoenix in general normally leads to death), or to attach her Scott. I believe Inferno did the latter.
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  3. #3
    More Donald than Charlie stealthwise's Avatar
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    Wow... that's... that's a bloody terrible story. I had never actually read it or realized what went on behind it, but that's crap, and probably one of the key moments where the X-Men became garbage, given the date of its publication.
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  4. #4
    Were You There? Michael P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealthwise View Post
    Wow... that's... that's a bloody terrible story. I had never actually read it or realized what went on behind it, but that's crap, and probably one of the key moments where the X-Men became garbage, given the date of its publication.
    But say that on the X-Board and you're worse than Hitler.

    While Maddie's finale is nothing to be proud of, I've always considered her more the victim of being a bad idea that got even worse in the execution.
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    Imagination and Bravery Double 0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P View Post
    But say that on the X-Board and you're worse than Hitler.
    Same thing happens if you complain about the current direction.
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  6. #6
    Veteran Member Flâneur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael P View Post
    But say that on the X-Board and you're worse than Hitler.

    While Maddie's finale is nothing to be proud of, I've always considered her more the victim of being a bad idea that got even worse in the execution.
    Wut? Everyone thinks Maddie was treated really badly.

    Same thing happens if you complain about the current direction.
    Pretty much everyone is bitching about the current direction too ... hah.

  7. #7
    Paragon of Derpitude Elegance Liberty's Avatar
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    As a Jean fan, even I have to admit that the whole Madelyne/Inferno thing was tasteless.

    The only good thing I see having come out of it is that it's pretty much damaged Cyclops' reputation for good, because IMHO ditching your wife and newborn son to be with your back-from-the-dead former girlfriend -to put it in layman's terms- is right up there with Hank hitting Janet. So I feel the hate Scott's gotten over the years for that is justified.

    I know they had to get rid of Madelyne after X-factor began, but I think killing her in cold blood probably would have been a far better fate for her than what happened in 'Inferno'.
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  8. #8

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    Apparently that was all due to editorial demands. She wasn't even supposed to be the villain in Inferno.

  9. #9
    That guy over there Eric Tolle's Avatar
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    Huh. Was this a 90s comic? Because everything described- demons, black leather, stupidly sexualized female characters- makes it sound like a 90s comic.

    I stopped reading X-Men sometime shortly after Meddie and Scott got married, so thankfully I missed all of that.

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    Were You There? Michael P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Tolle View Post
    Huh. Was this a 90s comic? Because everything described- demons, black leather, stupidly sexualized female characters- makes it sound like a 90s comic.

    I stopped reading X-Men sometime shortly after Meddie and Scott got married, so thankfully I missed all of that.
    Late-'80s, actually.
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  11. #11
    Nyah! Paradox's Avatar
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    And that's when all that crap started. It just became more noticeable with the boom of the '90s having so many more garbage books on the shelves.
    'Dox out.

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  12. #12
    Canadian Member newscott's Avatar
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    The X-Board is a rough place. No fun to visit.

    .

    That being said, I can offer only my own opinion, looking at it from a different angle.

    Inferno, and the Maddie/Jean triangle did affect the way I view the male characters involved. As a reader, I have never forgiven Scott for the way he treated Maddie. Twenty years later, and he is still the untrustworthy one.

    Moreover, it was Inferno that made me a fan of Alex, for realizing what Maddie needed, and trying to fix the situation despite a)Maddie being crazy, and b) wearing that boy-toy S&M outfit. Alex kept his word. He fought Maddie by standing by her. It was that loyalty that won me over to his side as a reader, and one that hasn't been explained enough for me in the books over the years.

    .

    Maddie Pryor was executed by Marvel. Hung out to dry.

    But in my mind, Marvel did much worse damage to Scott Summers' character. He became so wantonly flawed that it was inevitable that he would consistently be portrayed as unfaithful from there on out.

  13. #13
    Paragon of Derpitude Elegance Liberty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by newscott View Post
    But in my mind, Marvel did much worse damage to Scott Summers' character. He became so wantonly flawed that it was inevitable that he would consistently be portrayed as unfaithful from there on out.
    Agreed. I never really liked Scott much in the beginning... I always thought he was a whiny leader in the X-Men cartoon (bear in mind that's my thinking as a 6 year old), but it wasn't until I learned more about him that made me openly dislike him: especially this stunt.

    I still stand by what I said earlier: Scott ditching Madelyne -clone or not a clone- and his son for his former girlfriend is right on par with the infamous 'Hank hits Janet' thing. Sure, you can beat them up for years as (rightfully deserved) punishment and then later redeem them... but you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube either. The mark is going to stay on with them for years, possibly forever.

    Heck, I recall reading that Jean herself was upset that Scott ditched his wife (unbeknown to her at the time that Madelyne was a clone), let alone the fact that he HID his marriage _and_ son from her [Jean] as well.

    Make of that what you will.

    (And people wonder why I'm such a die-hard fan of Logan/Jean...)
    Last edited by Elegance Liberty; 09-30-2008 at 08:54 AM.
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  14. #14
    To burn and to rise Mormel's Avatar
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    I think the injustice to Madelyne Pryor is not so much that she was corrupted to evil in itself, but rather that she doesn't get the remembrance she deserves afterwards. When later stories mention the X-Men's fallen comrades, it's usually Thunderbird, Cypher, Magik, even Changeling gets a nod at one point. But Madelyne isn't remembered for joining the X-Men during one of their grimmest times, despite not being a mutant (rather, not knowing she is a latent telekinetic/telepath at the time), and pulling her weight for their fight like Nitz said, instead she's remembered as the Goblyn Queen and the clone of Jean.

    Even in one of the final acts of the 'Inferno' crossover, in which Sinister tries to take over the minds of Jean and Madelyne, after Storm has talked sense into what remains of Madelyne's identity inside Jean's mind, though it's Madelyne who finally stands up for herself and decides not to be Sinister's pawn, the mental image that finally breaks Sinister's hold is not of Madelyne, but of Jean in her Phoenix and Marvel Girl costumes.
    Quote Originally Posted by newscott View Post
    The X-Board is a rough place. No fun to visit.
    It's not a 'place' at all. It's a subsection of this message board. And I've had tons of fun in the year-and-half I've been posting on it. If you want to talk about X-Men on the X-Books forum, the only thing stopping you, is you.

  15. #15
    Scary lady Chris Lang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitz the Bloody View Post
    The topic of whether or not Scott was justified in bolting ( even if he told Maddie it would be temporary ) when he learned of Jean's ressurection has been beaten to death, but her subsequent treatment in Inferno is not just crappily written, but ideologically troubling.
    I'd rather that 'Inferno' not be remembered for THAT atrocious portion of it. See below.

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinRedmond View Post
    Apparently that was all due to editorial demands. She wasn't even supposed to be the villain in Inferno.
    I have to agree that what happened to Madelyne was a good example of what TV Tropes refers to as Character Derailment. There were so many different ways they could have handled the situation, but they ended up just violating Maddie's character and turning her evil just so they could be rid of her. And THIS came as a result of Scott's character derailment. Bob Layton or whoever decided to make Scott a jerk, who dumps his wife once his old girlfriend is back in town.

    Keep in mind this all started when Jean Grey was brought back from the dead AGAINST Chris Claremont's wishes, when 'X-Factor' began. Claremont said that he was so pissed off about this that he was going to complain to then-EIC Jim Shooter about it, but he forgot the number, and ended up sitting back down to discuss the Ororo story he and Barry Windsor-Smith were working on.

    But apparently, once Jean was back, Maddie was deemed superfluous. So rather than write a story where Scott has to tell Jean "I'm sorry, but I've moved on with my life.", those behind X-Factor made him practically abandon Maddie to be with Jean. Apparently, despite a year or so's worth of his telling Maddie that his love for her was real, it wasn't after all (though Claremont's original intention was that it WAS).

    As for 'Inferno', I choose to remember it as the fun crossover where demons invade Manhattan, Illyana/Magik makes a fateful choice, inanimate objects come to life, and surreal craziness abounded. I frequently re-read the New Mutants, Excalibur, and X-Terminators issues, and tie-ins from Spider-Man ... but I steer clear of the X-Men and X-Factor issues, because (among other things) I felt they reeked of truly bad soap opera writing.

    As far as I'm concerned, the 'Inferno' trade paperback reprinted the wrong issues (with the exception of the New Mutants issues). I would have reprinted the issues I cited above, instead of the X-Men and X-Factor portions. Aside from the horrible treatment of Madelyne Pryor, Sinister didn't really belong in this crossover. It was SUPPOSED to be the consequences of Illyana Rasputin's years-long story arc. Trying to tie in those other storylines in to Inferno just didn't work for me.
    Last edited by Chris Lang; 10-04-2008 at 08:12 AM.

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