My issues with Geoff Johns’ treatment of the Golden Glider

Today’s guest post is by Lia and was originally posted at The Rogues Kick Ass.

There are a number of reasons why I dislike Geoff Johns’ treatment of the Golden Glider (Lisa Snart), and it’s primarily because he makes her weak. Originally, she was an angry, vengeful character — a woman so angry about her boyfriend’s untimely death that she sought revenge on the Flash for purportedly killing him. It was her sole reason for becoming a villain, as she’d had no criminal record prior to the Top’s death and originally wasn’t interested in theft. For example, in Flash v1 #250 she vowed “No more skating for me…not until Roscoe’s death is avenged! And that means — get the Flash where it hurts the most!”

All her early appearances depicted her as viciously obsessed with making the Flash suffer just as she had, to the point of being defiantly willing to kill herself to fulfill this revenge. When the Flash bluffed about killing her to save his family from her scheme in Flash v1 #257, she declared “Then I’ll die — gladly! Without my beloved Roscoe, I have only one thing to live for anyway — vengeance! And with that accomplished, I’ll perish in peace — knowing you will be mourning as I have mourned — three times over!” There were in fact quite a few instances of her declaring hate for the Flash and her intent to get revenge. She was a strong and forceful person, if not a particularly pleasant one.

But Johns has negated most of that by adding to and altering her history. In addition to giving her the victimized origin of an abusive childhood, he has changed her motivation for becoming a villain. In one of his retcons, she now became the Golden Glider because she followed her big brother and wanted to be just like him. In Flash v2 #182, Captain Cold asks his sister why she quit professional skating to become a villain, and she answers: “Why did I give it up? I wanted to be like my brother. With my brother.” And when Cold argues with his abusive father about Lisa in Rogues’ Revenge #2, his father declares “Lisa’d still be alive if you hadn’t chased her off.” Cold replies “I didn’t chase her off. She ran away.” To which his father says “After her big brother. And what did you do? You let her follow you.”

Meanwhile, her original motivation of anger and revenge has become secondary. In Flash v2 #182, Cold describes it thusly: “Another of my fellow Rogues, the Top, had been killed in a battle with the Flash. The Top was dating my sister at the time. I guess Lisa was looking for revenge.” Since she’d stated quite explicitly in the original stories that she was looking for revenge, saying “I guess” is rather downplaying it. And this is the only time in Johns’ work that her seeking vengeance is ever mentioned.

Johns changed her motivation from anger and revenge to a little sister hero-worshipping her brother and trying to escape an abusive father, and it’s not difficult to see how this weakens her and makes her look like a victim. To make matters worse, now that she’s dead she no longer has new appearances to strengthen her character, and only appears in flashbacks as the dead sister Cold feels sad about. In fact, Johns has publicly stated that he wants her to stay dead because it makes her brother more interesting, which actively disparages her to prop up another character. The strange thing is that Glider wasn’t even particularly close to her brother during the Bronze Age; the siblings were often overtly hostile to each other, sometimes physically fought, and rarely interacted otherwise. Johns has completely altered the past dynamic between the Snarts for the purposes of his own stories, which certainly changes the nature of the previous issues.

Originally, Golden Glider was fiercely vindictive and tough, planning and pulling off her own schemes to make the Flash suffer. She was the first — and for decades, the only — female Rogue. But Geoff Johns has reduced her to a tagalong little sister, a victim of her father, and someone to appear sad and frightened in flashbacks. Not only did he change her entire motivation, he considerably weakened her character as a result. And it’s very unfortunate that this fate has befallen one of the few female Rogues.


10 thoughts on “My issues with Geoff Johns’ treatment of the Golden Glider

  1. GCU Prosthetic Conscience

    Unfortunately, this seems to be the trend in DCU writing, not just with Johns. Look at what they’ve done to Selena Kyle, for heaven’s sake.

    1. Lia

      I’m not intricately familiar with Catwoman, and can’t really comment on anything done with her. But it is interesting that while Johns has changed the histories of the other (male by default) Rogues a fair bit, it’s mostly been to make them more vicious or badass. Meanwhile, Lisa’s been softened significantly. If it’s a coincidence, it’s an unfortunate one.

      1. Ben Hall

        Catwoman has heart problems and gave up her baby. The Last Catwoman series dealt with the baby and Heart of Hush dealt with the start of her heart problems.

  2. Gokitalo

    Great article. As good as The Flash #182 was, Johns’ take on the Golden Glider looks like an almost 180-degree switch from her actual personality.

    It’s a bit of a stretch, but since Johns has always described Glider from Captain Cold’s point of view, you could argue Cold’s remembering Lisa through rose-colored lenses (would explain the visor! :P). He would probably never admit it, but deep down, maybe Leonard’s just sentimental…

    1. Lia

      Cold is and isn’t sentimental, depending on the situation (I guess we’re all like that to some extent). He certainly likes to pretend he isn’t, but more or less admitted it at the end of #182.

      I could maybe believe Cold isn’t a reliable narrator, but his dad backed up the claim that Lisa was following her brother, so I think we’re supposed to take it as true. And Johns seems to portray Cold as a ‘no bullshit’ character, so his memories are likely more true than pitifully lying to himself.

  3. Rob S.

    GREAT article, Lia. Well said!

    Back in the day, Golden Glider was one of the more dangerous rogues, in that she was the only one who knew Barry’s identity, and would use it against him — attacking him and Iris at her parent’s house, and even setting Iris against Barry with the Ringmaster.

    Her gimmicks were a little haphazard — ice skating & gems that could do pretty much anything — but her motivation was always rock-solid: Make Barry suffer by striking at him through his loved ones. She’d fit right in in post-Identity Crisis DC.

    1. Lia

      Thank you! 🙂 I agree — her particular brand of vindictiveness would fit in well with today’s DC villains. She was ahead of her time in that sense!

      A lot of people today seem to think the skating schtick is inherently lame though, so that’d be a hurtle to reintroducing her. And as long as Johns thinks she should stay dead to benefit her brother’s characterization, she’s probably SOL :\

    1. Lia

      Could be; that was definitely the first time they really got along.

      She acted a bit differently back then too — after the Rogues party in v2 #19, she never mentioned the Top again (which is somewhat normal, as she had to get over it sometime, but it’s a bit odd that she never mentions him ever again), and was outright obviously crazy. You can make a good argument that someone who pursues a long vendetta and is willing to kill herself for it is mentally ill, but Messner-Loebs made her overtly and violently nuts. So it was an…interesting time period for her, but at least she was still tough.


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