Whatever Happened to the Human Cockroach?

Scott Lobdell is a divisive writer. Some comic readers declare he is a great writer while others consider him to be a hack. I'm somewhere in the middle. I really enjoyed his work on RHATO, but I've found his run on Teen Titans to be disappointing to put it kindly.

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Regardless of your opinion of Lobdell's accomplishments, there is one quirk about Lobdell's writing process that is not disputed. Mr. Lobdell is not a planner. By his own admission, Lobdell likes to make things up as he goes along, and he does not have long term plans for his characters, teams and series. Fans of Lobdell claim that this approach keeps things fresh and chaotic, and while critics will agree that Lobdell's comics are unpredictable, his stories often fail to come together in any sort of meaningful way. (We're looking at you, The Culling)

One area which appears to highlight the problems of poor planning is Skitter. Skitter was introduced at the beginning of the DCNU as a new member for the Teen Titans. In interviews around the launch of the New 52, Lobdell said he wanted a character who did not look like a regular kid. He wanted someone who stood out from the crowd. As an insectoid girl with two extra arms, claws, glowing eyes, and eighteen inch long hair standing straight up, it's fair to say that Lobdell accomplished his mission, but to what purpose? Her use through the DCNU makes it seem as if Lobdell wrote her into existence one night, fell asleep, woke up the next day, and said, “Who is this chick and what the heck am I supposed to do with her?”

A Smattering of Skitter History

If you are up to date on Skitter or uninterested in her past, then just skip this section, but for those interested, we're going to talk real quick about how Skitter has been used in Teen Titans thus far.

Early in the DCNU, Red Robin heard reports of the monster Skitter, figured out that she is actually an innocent teenage girl, then tracked her down to a California sewer. When Tim found Skitter, she attacked him, and Red Robin would have been killed if not for the arrival of Wonder Girl who gives the bug a good swat and knocks her out. Red Robin took Skitter with him, and she cocooned herself and transformed back into her teenager form as Celine. Later, the Teen Titans went to fight Superboy, but Celine stayed behind unwilling to fight. After the fight is over and the Teen Titans were trying to escape, Celine showed up once more transformed into Skitter. Skitter webbed up some cops and almost killed one before Bunker intervened on their behalf.

Before we go on, let's refresh our memory on what we know about Celine. How did she get her powers? We don't know. Can she transform at will? Who knows? Does she have any control as Skitter or is she pure animal? It's difficult to say. Whatever happened to her sister? We have no idea. What is she like as a person? We do not know. She has no development whatsoever.

Finally, we get The Culling where the Teen Titans, including Skitter, are locked up in a concentration camp with a bunch of other teen metahumans. At some point, Skitter got separated from the team where she heard a voice similar to hers say, “Don't be afraid sister. We have better places to go.” That was the last we've heard of Skitter...until recently.

A Skitter Shocker

Last month's Teen Titans' “WTF Certified” cover revealed Beast Boy to be a traitor working with Trigon and Raven, but it was originally supposed to be Skitter as the traitor until an editorial mandate forbade it.

I have to say that I find this all incredibly bizarre. Skitter is introduced, we learn nothing about her, she is written off the series without any real explanation, and then she is almost returned as a villain? What's the thought process that leads to this series of events?

Though I can't figure a justification for Lobdell's use of the character, I can certainly think of reasons that DC editorial might have stopped the vilification of Skitter. DC has been practically obsesses with making itself appear diverse, but it still receives significant criticism for failing in terms of diversity. I suspect a conversation like this occurred.

DC: “We love minorities. Just look at Teen Titans. We added a black girl to the team.”

Critic: “You mean Skitter, the girl cockroach with no character development that was presented as little better than a semi-trained dog and barely quantifiable as human that you wrote off the series after nine issues and then brought back as a villain? That black girl?”

DC: “Well...how about that Batwing?” He's pretty awesome, right?”

Come on DC! I hate it when people pull out the hater card rather than giving an individual or a corporation the benefit of a doubt, but you are just giving critics ammunition at this point.


What will become of Skitter? Well, it appears that Lobdell did have a plan for her to be reintegrated into the series, but now that this has been squashed, her fate is more in doubt than ever.


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