What’s so great about the Great Ten?

DC’s 52 is off and running. The series jumps one year ahead to take place in a world without the big three: Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. The comic is released every week this year, hence the name, 52. Or something like that. I’m not a big American comics reader — simply because the Japanese material seems to demand most of my time. (My son demands the rest of it.)

Forgive me for not getting it straight. But the reason I bring up 52 is that a new slew of superheros will be making their debut this month: the Great Ten.

They’re a group of Chinese government affiliated superheros.

So far, much of the reception has been positive.

Remarks like “It’s about time!” have popped up, and I’m supposing that’s referring to Chinese superheros….? (I’ve included an image of one of China’s most popular superhero’s of all time.)

Mind you, some of the design for the characters is quite inspired. (sample illustration featured in the New York Times.) But some wonderful discussion has arisen about Grant Morrison’s use of Chinese mythology, or rather, why do Chinese superheros more often than not bear reference to mythology?

Not to mention, and a mighty, mighty holler to the fellas who ask this same question: What is up with the Mother of Champions? This “superheroine”, the only woman of the bunch, has the power to bear an army of 25 soldiers every 3 days.

I’d like to elaborate on that question and ask: Why would anyone want to bear 25 soldiers every 3 days? Isn’t it enough of a superpower that women can do it in 9 months?

I also wonder why the only Chinese woman in the gang is reduced to being a human incubator – the superhuman incubator. Somehow, I find this distasteful. Not just because the idea of giving birth to 50 people in one week or constantly being pregnant turns my stomach and gives me morning sickness all over again, but because it’s the opposite of hero. It’s the antithesis of super.

One of the aspects of superheroism is the ability to take the law into your own hands. It’s decidedly active. Superheros are born out of the inability of government to protect their people, or of a need for intervention. It’s an active role. What Mother of Champions is, is a passive superhero. Do you see the contradiction there?

Pregnancy is a relatively passive time in a woman’s life. There’s all this stuff that’s happening to you that you have no control over. So what the character of Mother of Champions plays upon, is that passive nature, of perpetually not having control over your own body.

Was I a Women’s Studies major in my undergrad?

The Great Ten does require readers to suspend belief and at times sensibility. Why would the Chinese government, of all people, subsidize the development of humans with superpowers? Comrades, have we forgotten the Cultural Revolution? Have we forgotten about the corruption within the country that resulted in the development of martial arts and Shaolin monks? Citizens, have we forgotten about the Shaolin monks?

That said, I’m honestly looking forward to Morrison dismantling my assumptions about the Mother character. And I’m curious to see the rest of the Great Ten in action. Did I mention the character who strikes a remarkable resemblence to Stephen Chow? I’m pretty psyched to see him in action, too.monkey006.jpg

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