Sunday, August 11, 2013

365 Comics...222/223: Green Arrow #23 / G.I. Joe: The Cobra Files #5 (2013)

You're probably wondering (or at least I'm going to assume you're wondering) just what the connective thread between the latest issues of Green Arrow and The Cobra Files is.  Naturally, these two books, one about an ex-billionaire playboy turned vigilante archer and another about a covert anti-espionage unit have unrequited geek love in common.  Naturally.

In Green Arrow, Jeff Lemire devotes a whole page to Oliver's tech-geek buddy Henry Fyff psyching himself up to tell the other member of Oliver's support squad, Naomi, that he's got a raging crush on her.  But of course, when he's about to do so, she confides in him at that very moment her feeling towards Oliver.  It's a terribly cliche sequence from an otherwise outstanding run by Lemire so far on the title that hopefully has some kind of twisty life in it because it'll otherwise be an awful drain on the charm and goodwill the book has managed to elicit so far.

Over in The Cobra Files, ace network specialist Clockspring gets a focus issue which includes flashbacks to his first unrequited geek love scenario that naturally apes his current unrequited geek love scenario, that of the girl he wants going for the handsome jock.  Mike Costa gets into the head of every teenage outsider who can't seem to muster up the self-confidence required to go after the girl (or boy) he (or she) wants, and vilifying anyone who deigns to go out with l'object du desir.

I get angry about these kinds of stories, mostly because I know those emotions and feeling all too well, but also I've overcome them to a point.  I know what it's like to get stuck inside my own head and had a great many potential relationships flitter away because of it.  But at the same time the right relationship happened because I could let go of a lot of those insecurities, and those other relationships that never happened would probably have been disasters if the approach was even made.

The Green Arrow sequence is total tokenist shorthand bullshit, a tired plot complication played out with only the minimal amount of investment in the characters (and I expect much better out of Lemire).  The Cobra Files, however, digs into the complexities of the emotions Clockspring is feeling, how his past experiences shape how his feelings are manifesting, as well as the external influence of Tomax Paoli, using his feelings for his own agenda.  There's a great sequence early on in which Firewall confronts Clockspring about his Reddit surfing for which he tries to justify it:

"You misunderstand me.  I don't care about you taking a breather.  This isn't a gulag.  I don't want you to stop looking at the internet every once in a while.  I want you to stop making excuses.  Stop flinching and cringing when you see me.  When I ask you what you're doing, don't just tell me what you think I want to hear."

I wish someone had called me on that when I was, like, 17.  Had I read this book -- that passage specifically -- when I was younger it would have been very influential.  Or, at least, I'd like to think it would have resonated strongly with me.

So, unrequited geek love is a true thing, but it's also a hoary cliche that can only really be overcome with a dedicated sense of purpose.

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