Saturday, December 26, 2009

Why Avatar Didn't Suck Like I Thought It Would (A Review)

Okay, first things first: go see Avatar and go see it in 3D (IMAX optional).

Good. Done? Great.

This entry will contain spoilers though, honestly, if the entire concept of this movie didn't give it away, go read more. Or watch more movies. Or both.

I think by now that the entire population of the world with access to movies knows about Avatar, probably knows the general gist of what it's about, and knows it's supposed to be a game changer. All the reviews pretty much ejaculate their praise all over it, pooh-poohing the idea that the rehashed, heavy-handed plot could, in any way, detract from the awesomeness of the tech that created this movie.

Dammit, they're sort of right.

I was one of the cynical, and a friend of mine begged me to go see it so that she could talk about it with me, because we talk about movies similarly. So I went, and I loved it.

Didn't just like it. Loved it.

I've been thinking about why on my car ride home. (A few of us from various points went to see it, and the most central location is about 35 minutes from me.)

Here's what I've got.

The Story

This wasn't the first time that I've encountered a story (I will use the word "story" to refer to pretty much any and all media... book, movie, comic, tv, video game, etc.) that was about a handicapped character (usually male) using some sort of tech to escape life. Sometimes that's into a computer, into a network, into another body, into a robot. Whatever. This wasn't the first time I've encountered a story where a member of the oppressing group (usually male) "goes native" and saves the more-complex-than-the-oppressors-think population, usually melting the heart of an icy, tough native (usually female) along the way, while butting heads with the don't-want-change voices of the group (usually the competitor for said female's affections), and completes that saviorness through some feat even the natives can't do, and usually be introducing them to his weapons and/or tactics. This wasn't even the first time I've encountered a thinly (or not-at-all) veiled allegory for the BS that conquering nations have pulled against indigenous peoples and the planet we all have to share (usually for money). Hell, it's not the first time I've encountered a story about a Great Tree with someone called Navi in it (hey hey, Ocarina of Time, 'sup?).

A lot of people have compared this to Dances With Wolves. I think it's more like Dune, another very ecological-minded story (well, the books anyway).

That's just it, right? This has all happened before and it'll all happen again. There aren't really any new stories, just new ways to tell the old stories.

So. This way rocked. And it rocked because of the 3D, which I'll get to in a sec.

Now, here are a few of my story-related quibbles, all of which I think were overshadowed by the finished product:

- Why, on this planet with a different atmosphere and a different gravity, where plants and animals developed very very differently to our planet, did the Na'vi develop as bigendered bipeds that can only reproduce through heterosexual intercourse?

- WHY NOT A FEMALE PROTAGONIST? Come on, Cameron. You made Ripley awesome. You wrote Sarah Connor. ! Exclamation! While it was great that Neytiri's dad handed her his bow and left her in charge of the people... uh, why didn't it end that way? I almost expected her to get to be People Leader and Jake to be the Tree Talker, in a gender-reversed ending. Which would have made sense and been satisfying within the narrative of the story. But, hey. Whatever. Notably, the only two females that We Care About that get to live are the protagonist's mate and her mother. Yeah.

- Did we really have to cast the voices of the Na'vi using only Native American and black actors? Really?

I think James Cameron is a smart guy. An I think he very very purposefully cast the parts the way he did, and very very purposefully made certain shots. Like Michelle Rodriguez (god I love her) as the only Marine to stand up to the scary white guy with muscles and scars. Or the long lingering shot over the collected Marines during the "kill 'em all" speech. The camera stopped on a group that was made up of a black man, a woman, and a couple of people who could definitely be classified, by our race-driven society, as "of color". Here's the best message, the most subtle one, the one that's beneath even the "don't kill our planet, assholes" message: for eff's sake, teach history, teach it right, and don't let corporations or the military run things.

The message of the story isn't really "stop killing our planet", it's stop putting people in charge and giving weapons to people who think it's okay to do these kinds of things.

That's pretty bad ass. Too bad most people mostly notice the SFX.

The SFX/3D

Okay, it's a game changer. There, I said it. I asked my friend why she thought this would be applicable to genres outside of science fiction or action, where we're in it for the "ooh" factor. The answer, which I figured out about ten minutes into the movie, is: because this type of 3D immerses us. This isn't about bringing the action out to our seats, it's about bringing us into the world of the movie. This can work for an alien landscape like Pandora or for a back alley in 1940's LA. Seriously, could you imagine a good noir in this kind of 3D? Really awesome.

She told me that by a few minutes into the movie, the alien landscape is no longer even alien because the effects are so good. True. The only thing that kept me from complete immersion was the alienness of the plants and animals, which went away after a little while spent with the Na'vi (so I get why they're a blue mix of cats, Native Americans, and tribal Africans, but I still don't like it). But what sold me on this was the shot right at the beginning, where Jake is sitting on the drop ship with a row of people, and I felt like I could reach out and if I did... I'd be reaching down the row. And it was reinforced everytime we panned through a room and it felt like looking at an actual room that I was standing in. A few times, I lifted my glasses up just to see the difference.

So the 3D blew my mind more in environments I could intellectually process than the alien world of Pandora.

But, you know, it still blew my mind.

Inna Final Analysis

This story had a lot of issues, as someone viewing it from a non-majority lens (i.e. the viewpoint of someone aware of the negativity of colonization, oppression, and marginalization who doesn't think that we're done doing this stuff yet... aka someone that's read Howard Zinn), with a bit of a critical view to directorial choices such as casting. It wasn't the best use of allegory ever, unless you peel back a few layers. It was cliché in all the wrong places (gender, racial politics) and the right ones (the deaths were correct, satisfyingish ending).

But for 2 1/2 hours I didn't just watch Avatar, I wandered the planet with the characters.

Now that's immersion

That's a game changer.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fresh New Bats for Gotham. [Detective Comics #860 and World's Finest 3/4]

This week Detective Comics #860 came out, wrapping up the origin story of Kate-as-Batwoman (And possibly ending Greg Ruck and JH3's run on the title? I guess she's getting her on ongoing or something. I don't know, I've fallen out of following rumors.)

It's not like my feelings on TEC have been unclear over the past few months. Despite a few quibbles, it's effing awesome.

This issue wasn't any different. I read a great explanation of why the art was so damn awesome at iFanboy. So go read that, because I agree and it makes more sense than I could.

What I love about this is the reason Kate becomes Batwoman. Not because of her trauma. Not because she's got a chip on her shoulder or something to prove to someone. She does it because she's a soldier.

A good one.

You know what that reminds me of? Carrie Kelly. And the more I think about Kate Kane, the more I'm reminded of Carrie Kelly. Carrie has literally zero trauma in her past, other than the trauma of being a teenager in a really nasty version of Gotham. Her parents are both alive, if inattentive. Her friends are around. She does well in school. And then one night she decides to throw on a Robin costume and go be a hero. This is one of the reasons I've always liked Carrie as Robin, and one of the reasons that I've always disliked Bruce as Batman and Dick as Robin. It's probably one of the reason I kind of like Damian, ass that he is. Bruce, Dick, and Tim later on... they were all forced to wear the symbol because they couldn't deal with their demons. Carrie, Babs, Damian, Kate, Steph... they want it. I like when the hero knows what they're getting into but makes that choice anyway. Bruce did it because he was broken. It was interesting the first time, with him, but it's been 80 years. Having new reasons is totally okay.

The difference between Kate and Carrie is that Kate knows what she's getting herself into. She's a soldier from way back. Carrie becomes a soldier through her life with Bruce. Bruce is the old soldier, like Kate's dad. Bruce turns Carrie into something special. But he couldn't do it if she didn't want it.

Kate wants it. (I think I'm getting repetitive.)

Kate wasn't forced into being a Bat. The splash page of her going through training is brilliant for just that reason. It shows us that she's had it drilled into her over years: vengeance is pointless. You've already lost. Bringing them back won't work (erm). Do this to save one life. One night, one life. Another night, another life. That's victory. That's war. You kill to save.

The Bat becomes Kate's insignia. Not of fear or vengeance, but of war. And I may be a quasi-realistic pacifist (I understand but dislike the need for war), but it's damn nice to see a Bat start out for reasons like that. And in this world, in 2009, it rings absolutely, one-hundred percent true.


(Which reminds me that I enjoy the irony of her getting booted from the military only to go on and be a superhero. Suck it again, DADT.)

And then there was World's Finest #3 (of 4). I've been following this mostly for the next-gen team ups. Specifically Red Robin/Nightwing and now, the issue I've been waiting for, Batgirl/Supergirl.

I've talked before about why I love Steph Brown as Batgirl, right? LOVE. HER. And her team-up with Supergirl was both kick-ass and fun. I want to see them team up more often. After the battle of the Supermen, or wtf ever is going on with the Supes next year, let them be the World's Finest front-runners. Neither of them are going anywhere, probably, and the fate of all the other Bats and Supes is still up in the air.

What I loved about this was that it was two teenage superheroes going forth and bonding and kicking but. They were clearly having fun together without losing out on the point of why they were together: to save people. (Scene with Catwoman in the crate? Priceless.) They were both trained by Batman, to some extent. They both mourned his loss.

They both knew they had to move on.

(If only DC got that hint. You know, over in Marvel, Captain America just handed his shield to the guy who was wielding it while he was dead, his old sidekick, Bucky, and while it was totally awesome, it was underscored by the fact that there's this stupid Siege thing coming up and he'll probably just end up as Cap again anyway. But maybe I'm wrong and, if I am, I hope DC does something similar and Bruce Wayne finally moves on from being the Batman.)

Every issue that Steph is in is fun. She's like Power Girl, with a proportionate breast-to-body ratio. I don't feel guilty reading her title though, because it's just flat out awesome. And throwing a somewhat-snarky Supergirl into the mix makes it more fun.

Kon and Tim's friendship was great, back in the day (and made for some good drama after Kon died). Let's have a new Super/Bat friendship! I'm all for it. (Thumbs up from Kara, yo.)

Props, also, to Babs getting annoyed at Dick listening in. Because. Really. C'mon now. Also, Kara questioning Oracle's omniscience after an unknown answer... classic! I love it when smart, young women are smart and strong. It's so nice to see. Comics is really one of the few places to actually see that sort of thing, so I'm glad that, even with some of the bumps in the road, they keep on going.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sports, Kick-Ass Women, MMA, and those creepy Female Force comics. Oh my.

Okay, something different: I like sports.

Yeah, I know.

Get ready for one of my anecdotes.

I grew up watching baseball and hockey with my dad, and playing little league during the summers. Back where I lived in Illinois, girls and boys both played baseball. Then I moved to Massachusetts, good ol' progressive Massachusetts, where girls had to play softball.

WTF, Title 9? Softball =/= baseball. Yeah, it's a sport, yeah it's hard, yeah it takes skill. But I spent 6 years playing baseball and then was told I had to play softball instead.

So I didn't, I tried out for the boy's little league and I made the team. And then my coaches wouldn't tell me how to get to the field. Or how to get my uniform. See, I made Babe Ruth. I was one of the youngest kids on the team and the only girl in the whole league.

I was 10 or 11, so I didn't understand why my mom was so angry about what they were doing. And I was shy, so I didn't push it.

If I could go back now, I'd sue their asses. Or something. And I'd play baseball.

When I hit puberty, with relatively little activity in my life and relatively large amounts of depression (puberty sucks, puberty for a gay kid in the early nineties doubley so, puberty for a gender queer gay kid in the early nineties tripley so) I put on about five billion pounds. It took me about fifteen years and some therapy to feel ready to get back into athletic activities.

So I did. I started going to Tae Kwon Do. This was something else I'd done as a kid in Illinois that stopped when I moved to Massachusetts. I've been going to an awesome TKD school for a little over a month. And twice a month this school has a teacher come in to teach students grappling. I went to the first class, had a TKD black belt as my partner, and held my own.

It was awesome.

Grappling is a big part of Mixed Martial Arts, which is a sport I got into thanks to my old room mate. I watch a lot of UFC. A lot. And one of the things about the UFC is that there are no women fighters. The only women involved (besides judges you don't see) are wives, girlfriends, and the girls in bikinis who hold the round cards. The UFC is the fastest growing sports franchise in the world, or something like that, and its president, Dana White, went on record saying he didn't see women fighting in the UFC any time soon (that was a few years ago, andI don't think his stance has changed, but who knows).

I just assumed that women weren't involved in MMA.

What a dumb assumption. After all, women are involved in boxing (more prominently now, thanks to Girlfight, Million Dollar Baby, and Laila Ali). Women are involved in martial arts (certainly at the Olympic level). So why not MMA? After all, one of the main tenets of Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, a premiere ground game technique and the one that changed MMA forever back in the day, is that the smaller, physically weaker opponent can still win with the right strategy and technique. Seems like a perfect venue for women, right?

And I found some. 'Cause I flipped on American gladiators and I saw Crush. And when I went to look up more info on Crush, I found out that she's an MMA fighter.

And she's hot. Over the next year or so, as I got more into MMA in general, I started trying to find events where women were involved as fighters. Usually I just googled Gina Carano's name, because she was The female MMA fighter. The thing is that to be a bankable female MMA fighter, you have to be hot. To be a bankable male MMA fighter, you have to kick ass.

This is the guy that just won the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter, the male version of a reality show, where 16 guys live in a house together, act homophobic and stereotypically masculine to prove that they're Real Men, and then fight each other for a chance at a contract with the UFC.

Basically it's a show that would be on Oxygen if it weren't about fighting, not that any of the MMA fanboys would admit that. (Seriously, I know professional sports are ragingly homophobic, but the UFC is like something special. I hope one day some dude kicks a lot of ass, wins a title, then comes out of the closet. Then defends his title.)

Oh, right, I was talking about Big Country.

Now, there's a lot of talk on MMA forums about how the UFC is basically going to try to drum this guy out as soon as possible because he looks like a fat hick. The fact is, he's a super-skilled ground fighter that uses his giant belly to his advantage and still has knockout power. That means he's a good fighter. And if he's drummed out of the UFC for not looking right, I'll feel a little better about the UFC as a whole, because at least they're consistent. Not that I like to look at Nogueira's face a whole lot.

But the deal is that they cast this dude in the first place, gave him weeks of screen time, and eventually a really big contract (which he did earn, yes).

And they won't give women a shot.

This goes back to what I was talking about in my last post, about female action heroes. You have to be hot to be an action hero, male or female. We're just willing to make more exceptions for the males. Would people think Daniel Craig was good looking if he didn't have a great body? Probably not. But no one calls him a "but his face" (you know, like a "butter face"?). Or makes remarks about it.

And when those male MMA fighters get in the octagon to square off, no one's commenting on how hot they are (or if they are, they're doing it in private). But it's pretty standard for female MMA fighters.

For the record, Gina Carano was recently beaten by a woman nicknamed Cyborg, who is significantly less traditionally attractive. And the female MMA buzz fell silent for a little while until a recent fight between the wife and ex-wife of some male fighters.

It's hard to find this stuff on TV, and it's hard to find a discussion of this stuff anywhere that doesn't involve comments on the attractiveness of the fighters.

So WTF does this have to do with comics?

Yeah, sorry. So remember that weird comic series Female Force? The biographical sketches of real women? Well, you know, they did a Barbara Walters one. So she mentioned it on her show The View.

Does anyone remember another time when a comic got a mention on a daytime, women-oriented television show? Anyone?


The deal is, this isn't a comic about female superheroes. It's a comic about real women doing real things. And it's "super" because it's effing hard to be a woman doing real things in this world sometimes. So, yeah, they deserve a bit of a shout out.

But maybe Barbara would like to show Detective Comics on her show. Or even the old standby Wonder Woman. Though at least Batwoman wears a full body suit, even if it has pointy nipples.

Or maybe they'd like to talk about how Batgirl (the current one) is juggling being a young woman, going to college, and being a superhero, under the tutelage of the old Batgirl, current Oracle, who is a woman with a disability.

Granted, it's not like male superheroes really get a lot of shout outs on national television. Not unless they're in the movies, anyway. Except, you know. They're in the movies.

Let me repeat that:

They're in the movies.

The women are few and far between, and usually relegated to the love-interested, ingenue roles.


No idea. Here's a thought.

So Robert Downy Jr. is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and brought Iron Man (the character) and Iron Man (the title) to national prominence. Hugh Jackman did the same thing for Marvel in the first place, back with the first X-Men. Meanwhile, check out the cleavage:


Sorry, I'm rapidly losing focus.

I suppose my point is that I'd like to see The View (or Ellen, since she's getting a Female Force comic too) take some time to put a spotlight on the positive women being written about and doing the writing/drawing in comics. So, mostly DC I guess. Though Black Widow: Origins and Spider-Woman have been pretty good.

Get some focus on those interesting character, make the companies and studios realize that women a) care and b) spend money on these things, and get them to do some decent, female-led superhero movies. Preferably written by Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Amanda Conner, or Paul Cornell. Or me. I'll take the job!

Heh, so I guess in the end the whole point is: give me a job writing a female superhero movie.

Anyone listening?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Why Hancock Didn't Suck Like I Thought it Would (Hint: Charlize Theron)

Hancock should be taught in marketing classes as an example of how not to market a movie.

When the trailers were released, I basically thought it was going to be a knock-off superhero movie that had the "original" twists of 1) a black superhero and 2) a bum superhero turned good. I use "original" in quotes because, well, I read comics. Also I watched Superman 3. Remember Superman 3? I loved bum Superman. I don't know, there was something about him being all fake-five o'clock-shadowy and seeing Christopher Reeves play surly that I just was into. As a ten year old. Yeah I don't know.

By the way. Kryptonite laced with tobacco tar? You know the cigarette companies freaked when they found that out. Hilarious! Why confuse everyone with red kryptonite when you can demonize tobacco? (For the record, smoking is gross, and obviously Superman agrees. He seems to be a fan of the whiskey, though.) Remember back in the day when we admitted that everyone smoked by showing it on movies all the time? Way to take a stand, Supes. Way to take a stand.

So Hancock. I'll admit it, I giggle a little every time I say or write the word. I'm secretly a twelve year old.

Based on the trailers, I thought this movie would be fairly predictable. And in a lot of ways it was. But then Charlize Theron popped up. Now, I'd seen her in one of the trailers, walking next to Will Smith and Jason Bateman, and again in a dinner scene, and I was like "why is she not even billed in this"?

Except she is. Billed second.


Obviously they were keeping a Big Secret under wraps.

Yeah, the big secret is that there's also a female superhero (or god or angel, more on that in a bit) and she's more powerful than the male superhero.

Also all she wants to do in life is have a family.


Okay, so I know I said I liked the movie. And I did, because the existence of Charlize Theron's character was a pleasant surprise, and the ending was an even more pleasant one. I like the idea of immortals that understand that, while they may be fated for each other, they don't have to constantly be together every single lifetime. And sometimes, maybe, they shouldn't be.

Suck it, Stefanie Meyer. Stefenie? Whatever.

It made me wonder why they couldn't market this with Charlize Theron as the number two. And then I remember: oh yeah, the mass consumer doesn't buy female super heroes. There are no female Avengers in the upcoming movie, we'll be lucky if Black Widow doesn't fall in love with Iron Man in the upcoming sequel, and Wonder Woman will probably never be made.

Meanwhile Ryan Reynolds has been tapped to play every single wise-cracking superhero ever written.

Right now, there are some really really awesome women in comics. They're still sort of bumping up against the glass ceiling insofar as they wear the most ridiculous costumes ever, tend to use sex appeal more to get what they want, and have disproportional breast-to-body ratios, but they're still there kicking ass. I don't think I need to list them here.

But these women won't sell movies.

Why not?

I don't know. Lots of reasons, I'm sure. But male viewers appreciate female superheroes, and female viewers generate a lot of box office (hello, Twilight and every Sandra Bullock movie ever?), and I bet they'd be interested in female superheroes. There's this base assumption that women don't like action movies. I think women like intelligent action movies just fine. Listen, Iron Man and Lord of the Rings didn't make bajillions of dollars on male ticket sales alone.

Back to Hancock. So Mary was interesting (so was the name of Mary). I also liked the whole "we could be gods, angels, superheroes, the name changes" thing. It's an interesting idea, one which I recently bumped up against while playing Assassin's Creed 2 (play that game, the story is fantastic). According to imdb trivia, the eagle may represent that Hancock is Zeus, making Mary Hera. (Backed up by her brother/sister comment from the ridiculous Jiffy Pop scene. Jiffy Pop? Really?) That would explain her sudden bitchiness (for lack of better term), since Hera's generally not known for her pleasantness.

Would it explain her sudden heavy make-up and revealing all-black clothing, though? Yeah, no. That really got me. As much as I enjoyed the fight scene between the two of them, particularly where she was clearly much more powerful than he was, it seemed sort of random and weird.

She did look pretty awesome, though.


But the hospital stuff really won me over. If you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about. Predictable, but really well done from the actors and the director.

Now, I had my quibbles. The random revealing clothing, the female superhero who only wants to be a wife and mom, the fact that Jason Bateman's character axes a dude to death and apparently is okay with that (I hope he and the kid are in therapy, because... really). Will Smith pursing his lips when he's playing drunk/bad as an acting technique, and the calling of every comic superhero a "homo" (though of course Hancock ends up in a tight outfit that looks like an X-Men movie cast-off... at least they throw the joke in).

The funny thing was that in the end I enjoyed this movie. It was almost nothing like what the trailers promised, and it was a far better finished product than I expected. Even with my quibbles, this was a superhero movie about not just a superhero guy but a superhero woman, too. That's rare enough to get me interested and it was handled well enough, despite some missteps, to make me like it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Whoa whoa whoa, back the Speedy truck up.

I don't really feel like writing about Blackest Night: Flash until it's over, and I can't find where I put my Blackest Night: Wonder Woman (so for now I'll pretend Manhunter is in it), and I enjoy Red Tornado for its randomness (what's he doing during the zombification of the DC verse?) but it was a pretty slow week as far as comics go. For me, anyway. I hear things were happening over in Marvel or something. Eh.

Right, so I find out form the internet that Speedy is back (making me suddenly interested in the Black Canary/GA books). I went and picked up issue 24 (her triumphant return) and then I got confused.

'Cause, like, Ms. Marvel was hanging out on a yellow crotch rocket asking if anyone missed her.

Okay, not really. Ms. Marvel doesn't cover her legs, wear a hood, or use a bow. But I submit to you the exhibits:

I rest my case! They're really freakishly similar. Maybe I have Ms. Marvel on the brain lately (thanks, Anika), but... y'know?

The shop didn't have issue 25, so I'll get it at the other store next week. Looks like I've got another title on my pull list, because I love me some Speedy.

Even if she looks like Ms. Marvel Jr.


I sort of want her and Steph Brown's Batgirl to hang out. (How excited am I for the next World's Finest, with Steph and Supergirl? WICKED EXCITED.) I think that would be awesome.

Someone get on that.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Don't Ask Me, I Won't Tell You

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers and happy Thursday to everyone else.

So this week's Detective Comics was pretty awesome. More of Kate's history, especially her days at West Point (ah, knew that was coming), the stepmother thing, her meeting of Renee (classic!), and her run-in with the Bat (I hope there's more to that, because it didn't seem particularly "fateful"; like Batman hasn't saved a billion women that are being mugged?). Which means this was a highly political issue, natch. Had to be, because Kate was washed out (well, dishonorably discharged) for violations of... uh, something numerical. I'm a little unclear on whether this was pre-DADT or post (DADT being Don't Ask Don't Tell), since, well. She was asked. Though she was also sort of accused. It seemed to be pre-DADT, but I don't think Kate's that old.

Back in the halcyon days of 2002, when my friends and I were convinced that President Bush was going to 1) re-instate the draft and 2) start drafting women in order to bulk up the military for the upcoming wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, my favorite law was Don't Ask Don't Tell.

I know, I know, Bad Gay.

Listen, I'm all for equality, but if someone asks me to kill someone else for "freedom," (or most other reasons, as I tend to be anti-killing) I'm going to go out and get gay married as soon as possible. Or make out with a lady. Or something. And I knew plenty of legit straight people who felt the same. My patriotism (and I am patriotic in my way, thanks) does not extend to ending other peoples' lives or being, in any way, responsible for ending those lives (though my tax dollars are, sigh).

So anyway, DADT is a really stupid law, which pretty much everyone ever agrees with. And Kate got herself discharged for making out with her room mate (wtf, why does everyone have a "room mate" story?) and her dad thinks that's just great. So her dad's cool, in case we hadn't figured that out before.

And her stepmom is cool too, but Kate doesn't want to give her a chance (understandable, if unfair). I didn't give my stepmom a chance. Then again, I was eleven (and she didn't really become my stepmom until much later). And I guess Kate's money comes from her stepmom now, and not old money? Maybe I'm forgetting 52, or maybe it was a retcon. Either one is likely.

I loved her meeting with Renee initially. Totally classic. I was hoping for a "frisk me officer" moment, but oh well. At least we got some ladies making out and in bed together. Huge! This doesn't happen anywhere but Showtime! And Logo, I guess. And independent cinema. Oh, and sweeps week. It really doesn't happen as often as I make it seem, particularly in a positive, normalized way. Props to Rucka for it, props to JH3 for the way it was drawn (the same way heterosexual love scenes are drawn) and props to DC for letting it through.

Hey, you know that American Idol guy who caused a furor over being gayish on TV? At least he didn't show nipple. Woo boy.

Quasi-random, don't mind me.

I was a little underwhelmed by her meeting with Batman, like I said. Wow, she beat some dudes up and then Batman showed up. She was living in Gotham, was it really that much of a surprise? I mean, was it really intense enough that she decided to slap a bat on her chest and become a vigilante?

I imagine the next issue will get more into that. How many times can someone see Batman (not even in action this time) and decide to emulate him? There's got to be something else, right?

While I enjoy that the reason she becomes a Bat doesn't seem to be directly related to her trauma as a kid (btw, I don't think Alice is dead for a second, weird Crime Bible people aside), I'm waiting for something else. Plenty of people don't become a Bat just because they see The Bat. So what's the difference between those plenty of people and Kate Kane.

I really enjoyed this issue overall, though. The art continues to be awesome and the origin story is engaging. There may be some clichés (the room mate thing, the hating the stepmom thing) but they work in the context of the story because the story is led by a lesbian. I dig clichés when they're being used in a way they aren't normally (and therefore normalize things that aren't considered normal).

I'm using the word normal a lot, but I'm not sure if I'm conveying what I'm trying to convey.

The reason Detective Comics can still kick ass where a book led by, say, Dick would be boring is because it's not a cliché for a woman to do these things. And while there are certain lesbian clichés that she's falling into, I'm okay with it for the purpose of this book just existing and being well written, well drawn and, most importantly, well received.

Go read this book.

(I also picked up a bunch of other things this week, including the entire run of Cry for Justice, because Supergirl and Captain Marvel were making out and I want to know what's up with that. And a bunch of Marvel titles, one of which was funny, despite my hatred of Spider-Man, and one of which almost made me cry, because Sam Guthrie is a Big Damn Hero. I'll write more on those later.)

And as a bonus, here's me in the 1991 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I'm one of the three Jewish elves on Santa's float:

Monday, November 16, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled comic post...

To gush about my new dog!

This is quasi-relevant. Her name is Ollie, and I named her after the Emerald Archer himself, Oliver Queen. (My sister has declared that her name is Olive, since Ollie is too much of a boy's name, but I don't really do that whole gender labeling thing anyway, and the dog likes it just fine).

This is Ollie:

She's guarding my apartment from unwanted attacks from the woods. Or something.

By the way, someone drew a version of a female Green Arrow, and this is how it came out:

Right. You know, maybe that's just one of those GA wannabes (like the ladies from Return of the Dark Knight). 'Cause even if gender-swapped (I am now getting fantastic ideas about a gender-swapped GA and her relationship with Dinah), I can't see "Olive" Queen going in for the midriff exposing, giganto-breast, green lipstick look. Maybe that's just me.

Actually, I enjoy the idea of gender swapping characters (or degendering, which is pretty much never done, since heaven forfend we not be either Man or Woman). When done right, it's really really interesting. It's not done right very often. The trick is to maintain the essence of the character while adapting him or her to a different gender, which of course affects the way he or she will interact with society, the kinds of experience s/he has had in his/her life, et cetera et cetera. It's not just about swapping around some parts of anatomy.

Wasn't I talking about my dog?

Anyway, she's awesome. I have the currently dorktastic plan of getting my photographer friend to take some shots of her in a Robin Hood dog costume. Because... why not?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The good "old" days.

You know, I've realized that the more I get into comics themselves, the less I'm into the movie adaptations of comics.

That's not what I was trying to say. I've been away from home for four days, about to be five (am missing Wednesday at the comic store to go pick up my newly-adopted-dog-named-Ollie, and was hoping because of Veterans day I wouldn't be missing much) so I've been reading through some trades of stories that I'd like to know more about but never read.

Like that Black Glove Batman story, which is apparently a prelude to Batman R.I.P. Okay. I bought it for JH3, let's all be honest. The first half was fantastic. I love the international, Batman-inspired heroes. And I loved the mystery (though I feel like things were missing, since it ended so quickly). The second half was decidedly less interesting, mainly because I don't care much about Bruce Wayne (which is why I'm a fan of the Batman titles now). Christian Bale sort of ruined me on him (sort of like he ruined John Connor for me, and sort of like Ryan Reynolds is about to ruin Green Lantern for me). Anyway, like I said: I loved the first half. Brilliant stuff. Who came up with that international team of Batmen? It reminded me of Watchmen, and Captain Metropolis trying to get everyone together in the 70s, before the Keene Act, and how it all fell apart. They didn't really have a uniting member like Batman, but I got the same sort of sad-hero feel from it. I like sad hero stories.

I also started (but didn't finish) reading Green Arrow: Moving Targets. I'm going to ask again: why does everyone hate Judd Winick? Legit question. I enjoy his Green Arrow stuff. A lot more than I enjoy some characterizations of characters written by other, more popular (or at least less polarizing) authors. I love seeing Ollie with his now-large family. I enjoy the single-guys-traveling-the-world thing he had going with Hal for awhile, but seeing Ollie as the patriarch of this messed up but heroic family of archers is pretty damn awesome, from a character development standpoint. The way he reacts after Mia kills That Guy is a really brilliant insight into the kind of guy Ollie has become.

Once I finish that, it's on to Trials of Shazam, because I loved the Marvel family as a kid, and then Green Lantern: Rebirth (no, I haven't read it).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Couple of Origins

I left my comics at home this morning, so I can't do a real fitting review of my haul. That's okay, because this was a small haul week for me. I caught up on Red Tornado (there's just something about an android elemental that tickles the Piers Anthony funny bone in me), which is fine. I enjoy it enough, though I'm having trouble with Red Torpedo's penis head. It's a penis head, don't argue. Torpedo my butt. Actually, she's got a penis head. Please don't torpedo my butt.

So the rest of the titles I got, briefly because I want to focus on two of them (and give a third one its own entry):

Secret Six #whatever. I'm not actually current on SS, but I'm getting the issues because I'll catch up and want to have them. This is how I think.

Athena #2. Remember how I was excited that there was in independent press doing a Greek god story? And remember how I was disappointed by the end of issue one? Yeaaah.

Stumptown #1. Good good good good great. Pick of the week. It's getting its own entry, because I'm a Greg Rucka fangirl.

And then last, but not least, the two I'll talk about in this entry:

X-Men Origins: Iceman (one shot).

Black Widow: Unholy Origins #1.

First things first: Iceman. I'm an Iceman fangirl. Bobby Drake is pretty much my favorite X ever. Maybe it's because I met him before the other Xs, when he was hanging out with Spider-Man and Firestar on my Saturday morning cartoons. Maybe it's because I sort of like his personality and how a guy like that is one of the most powerful mutants on the planet. Maybe it's because I feel for his total and utter lack of ability to maintain a relationship.

For me, if you're going to do an origin comic (not to be confused with an origin movie), you should remain true to where the character ends up, while updating and changing things for the time you're writing. Also, maybe have some fun art. The art in this was fine. It was like a weird Norman Rockwell comic. I wasn't blown away. Also, I prefer Bobby as a brunette, but that's a personal thing.

Here's the deal: this retold Bobby's origins, but made his dad less of a bigot. What? The guy had to go back in time to work things out with his parents, and he still wasn't kosher with his dad until that whole Creed presidential thing. It also made him way more sure of himself. What? Bobby is not sure of himself in certain ways. This is why he'll date Mystique when she shows him attention: because he needs that sense of being wanted. I suppose we could still get that from what's-her-name's rejection of him after he freezes Rocky, but c'mon. His lack of self-confidence is why he needs Emma to unlock his most powerful abilities. His lack of self-confidence makes him interesting!

If you want to set up some origins universe that starts fresh, eh. But this seemed to be a one-shot trying to draw in fans of the movies. I can tell you that I wouldn't care about Iceman at all if I read this book. Considering he's already my favorite X, that means this book sort of failed. Immensely.

But Black Widow: Unholy Origins didn't disappoint. After I finished reading (and enjoying) it, I went back and looked at who the author was. Paul Cornell! I love Paul Cornell, because he wrote the best Doctor Who book ever, Human Nature, which was turned into a pretty decent episode (would have been better if it was the seventh Doctor still, but whatever). I also have met him a couple of times at the annual Gallifrey convention, and he is awesome. He's funny, witty, and loves the medium he's writing in, whether DW or comics. (I will also be bringing this issue for him to sign next year.)

So I know this is meant to stir up interest in ScarJo's Black Widow coming up in Iron Man 2. Whatever. She's not even going to get to be in the Avengers movie, so I'm still annoyed.

I've always had a passing interest in the character, but I started to get really interested when I started getting into Winter Soldier. I think I've spoken before about my love for the new Captain America, so when I saw this origins title, with a "also featuring Wolverine and Winter Soldier" I knew I had to pick it up. (I got the variation with Bucky on the cover, the one on the left.)

The artwork was good, but especially in the flashback scenes. Also, Bucky with that 50s-era chunky arm was priceless.

The story kept me going, and I think Cornell did a good job of finding the black humor in it, which is important. I like that it wasn't just straight origins, that it tied in the present with the past. Also that line about James Barnes being a good enough boyfriend to get to call her Natasha made me laugh out loud. Literally. I got funny looks from the people walking by me.

The reason this succeeded where Iceman failed is two-fold. First, it keeps the past linked with the present. I need that to enjoy an origin story. I like flashbacks that aren't heavy-handedly telling the story, while the present scenes create the framework. Second, the writing was stronger. The characters had good voices, voices that I'd associate with them anyway, and the plot moved forward towards an interesting climax (that was the first of many, since this is a miniseries).

Maybe Iceman didn't get the benefit of a miniseries, but I can't help but feeling it's more about what was told in the issue itself than having a chance to write a longer story. Iceman was schmaltzy, Black Widow was interesting. Iceman took a character I enjoyed immensely and made him less likeable. Black Widow took a character I enjoyed a bit and made me want to follow her more closely.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Casting the Batwoman Movie

After my post on adaptations, I got to thinking about a Batwoman movie. So I posited a question on Twitter: Who would I cast as Kate Kane? I already knew who my Montoya would be. Then I started thinking about the other roles in the series, and I had a lot of fun just clicking around the internet looking for good fits, so I decided to turn it into an entire blog post, with pictures, pros, cons, and various geekery.


Hopefully. :)

Kate Kane/Batwoman - My friend Stewart suggested Amy Adams. At first I reacted "huh, Giselle?" and then I remembered her as Amelia Earhart in that movie about the museum with what's-his-face from Zoolander. I know Amy Adams can be adorable. I know she has red hair and very little skin pigmentation. But can she be Kate Kane? I think playing Kate Kane may be even harder than playing Batwoman. After all, with Batwoman you have the costume to get you into character. Once you put that symbol on your chest, I think it makes a huge difference (even with nipples, Clooney did better at Batman than Christian Bale does). But Kate is a non-stereotypical lesbian. She's neither completely butch nor completely femme, and Hollywood generally doesn't know what to do with that (that includes writers, directors, casting directors, and actors). And of course there's that whole spectrum of what it means to be butch and femme, blah blah blah.

I guess I wonder if Amy Adams can pull it off. I don't know. I maybe wouldn't mind seeing her try. She doesn't make any less sense than, say, Heath Ledger, and everyone thought he was a great Joker. Okay, she makes slightly less sense than Heath Ledger.

For a very different and competing opinion, I sort of like Christina Hendricks in the role. I know, I know the curvy Joan of Mad Men is ultra feminine, and Kate isn't, necessarily. But, well, Kate's drawn busty (like almost every other comic book heroine), and Christina Hendricks has done a good job at playing kick-ass, during her two episode stint as Saffron in Firefly. And, actually, Joan is sort of kick-ass herself, in that bound-by-the-sixties sort of way. (For any MM fan interested in a really interesting article about how Joan is a more interesting character than Peggy, read this.)

Here's the thing. I think Hendricks could pull of not only Batwoman (who has a tendency to be hyperfeminine and sexual) but also Kate Kane, whose femininity is a bit more restrained, but who is still a ballsy, alpha-type woman. And, again, the way Kate is drawn is actually very similar to Christina Hendrick's body type.

Yeah, I think I've found my Kate Kane.

Renee Montoya/The Question: Sarah Shahi. Hands down, no questions, absolutely Sarah Shahi. I know there are people that like Michelle Rodriguez for this role, but no.

This woman should play Renee:

Uh huh.

Now, there's more than just looks to back this one up. First, she's played a cop before. Dani Reese in Life, who was a hard-ass, wise-cracking, recovering-addict detective. Basically Renee Montoya. Second, she's played gay before. Carmen de la Pica Morales in The L Word, where she had weird toilet sex with Mia Kirshner. Once you act out weird toilet sex, playing a faceless, kick-ass lesbian PI who macks on Batwoman and gets involved in a Religion of Crime should be a cake walk.

Third, she's a brown belt in karate, which means she could at least be quasi-believable in some of the Question's martial arts-heavy fight scenes.

Fourth, she's Renee Montoya.

Case closed, appeals denied.

Maggie Sawyer - With the understanding that she's going to be somewhat important as the series develops, I figured "what the heck." I like Laura Harris from Dead Like Me and Women's Murder Club, but she definitely seems a bit young/soft for the job. Then again, if Amy Adams is Kate, well. We're skewing a bit younger than I think the characters actually are in the books anyway. So maybe she could work.

Stewart suggested Mariska Hargitay, and I can't say I disagree with him. Around seasons 3 and 4 of Special Victims Unit, she was perfect. But that was a lot of years ago, and I don't know if she could pull Maggie off right now.

So while Laura Harris might be too young, Mariska Hargitay might be too old. Not that I couldn't see having Maggie be a bit older than Kate. That could work, too. And since this is sort of a dream cast, I guess we could just take that Mariska Hargitay from back then and put her in. Hm.

I could go either way, really. I'd have to sit in on the audition and see who has the best chemistry with our lead, because Kate and Maggie already have some very nice chemistry in only a few panels of one issue of Detective Comics. I am, however, a Renee/Kate shipper, so I'm sticking fast with that. Still, definitely important that the actress be able to do well against our Batwoman, since Maggie's apparently going to be her version of Commissioner Gordon.

Edit: A reader, Nikki, has recommended Katee Sackhoff for the role of Maggie. DUH. Wow, great suggestion. She's a great balance of feminine and masculine, can kick ass, and can command a group of people. Also I wouldn't mind seeing her in a tux, either.

Alice - Mia Kirshner. I know I'm sort of double-dipping in the The L Word pot, but take a look:

Now imagine her white-blonde.


Mia Kirshner is a fantastic actress. If you're not familiar with her work, go rent more independent films (she also played Sarah in The Crow: City of Angels, so there's that comic link), and her character, Jenny, on The L Word was completely nuts by the last two seasons (check out this great compilation from S5 NSFW). She'd be perfect.

Colonel Kane - I'm going to go with JK Simmons on this. I just really like the guy and think he has great range (have you seen him in Oz or Law and Order: Special Victims Unit?). I think he could pull off a ex-military, sort-of-traumatized, loves-his-daughter-but-worries-about-her kind of dad. Kind of like a cross between the Juno dad and the SVU shrink. Totally. It's also occured to me that I don't know Colonel Kane's first name (besides "sir" or "dad"), so maybe I'm not particularly wed to the character just yet. Still, I think JK Simmons could pull it off, and be good in the roll. And I'm a fan of the guy.

Okay, there we go, my picks for the main roles of a Batwoman movie. I'd love to get input if you've got any. Or if there are any other roles out there you think I ought to cast (I've already cast Kate Spencer/Manhunter, and am daydreaming of a legal drama where she defends Wonder Woman and they smolder and spar together. Cough.) let me know that, too. This is a fun way to pass the time.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Question/Friday Answer: Adaptations

Okay, here we go for real this time: an actual Question/Answer entry. I made this question up myself, with some input from Anika, but please feel free to ask me future questions because I'm just not creative enough to keep on doing it.

I've been wanting to talk a bit more about non-print media, so this seems like a good transition piece.

What is your favorite comic book adaptation?

Because it's hard for me to narrow it down, Anika recommended I list a few and end with a winner. It's nice to have smart friends!

By the way, I welcome discussion on this. These are all opinion, and I have some very interesting tastes that not everyone agrees with (Donner's Superman doesn't crack my top 10, for instance).

Honorable mentions: Supergirl (1984), Watchmen (2009), V for Vendetta (2005), Mutant X (2001), Batman (1988), Iron Man (2008), Flash (1990), Flash Gordon (1980), The Crow (1994), Tank Girl (1995).

5) X-Men: The Animated Series (1992). This show made comics cool for my whole group of friends and, more importantly, for people who would normally pick on my whole group of friends. I didn't know anyone in my age group who didn't watch this at some point. And because of this show we got all the other neat animated shows that followed in that decade, including DC's amazing, comic-inspiring animated universe. Not to mention that it followed so well with the comics, including the awesome Dark Phoenix storyline. This show made me love Scott Summers, which... is saying something.

Plus it had the one of the best TV theme songs ever.

4) The Adventures of Superman (1952). My dad used to record all the episodes that aired late at night and we'd watch them together. This was my first introduction to Superman, so it holds a special place in my heart. There's something about the fifties-era Superman that is so perfectly perfect that I can't help but love it. The great thing about Superman is that he really is just always like that. I know that makes some people have less of an ability to connect to him, but for me that makes him more universal. Superman is Superman. Even if he crash lands in Siberia and is raised by Communists (a perfect foil to this Cold War Era show, by the way) he will always have the same set of values and morals. He always wants what's best for his adopted planet, even if he doesn't always fit in with it, and there's something very childlike and innocent about that which, in my opinion, is perfectly showcased by this fifties-era version.

3) X-Men (2000). As much as I hate that it was a Marvel movie that did it, Bryan Singer's more-grounded-in-reality version of the X-Men is responsible for the current wave of superhero movies and current love of comics by Hollywood (and therefore the main stream consumer). But more importantly, it's a pretty damn good movie. It's well cast, with a few exceptions (why did no one think of Liev Schrieber back in 2000?), it's got an interesting story, and the effects are good. But most of what makes that movie great, because it does change some things I don't get (swapping in Rogue for Kitty, for example, when Anna Paquin could have played a perfectly good Kitty), is the fact that 95% of the roles were cast perfectly, including the three most important ones: Magneto, Xavier, and Wolverine. These people are the characters. Wow. The first time we saw Hugh Jackman (and let's be honest, how many of us had actually seen Hugh Jackman before?) leaning against that cage, smoking a cigar... sent shivers up my spine. That movie set the bar. Let comic fans make comic movies and you'll get a well-cast (mostly), well-written, well-shot movie. It's too bad that his Superman Returns wasn't as good.

2) Batman: The Animated Series (1992). Where to start. First off, another great title sequence that really pulled in the dark-deco-noir atmosphere of Gotham:

This show created a whole universe of its own, giving us both Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya, who made the transition (very successfully) into the comics. It developed an animated universe full of superheroes and led to its own sequel, Batman Beyond. It made Bruce interesting, it made its villains interesting (Mark Hamil is still the best Joker, period), and it was the first time I ever really looked forward to getting back to Gotham. This did for kids and adolescents what Burton's movie did for teenagers and adults.

And it was fun. It was good. I enjoyed pretty much every single episode, and I still think of it when I think of Batman. To me, this show is Batman. This is the Bruce Wayne I want wearing the cowl. This is the world of Gotham I want to see. Darker than Metropolis, but not as dark as the comic version of Gotham. It really can't rain all the time, guys.

1) Wonder Woman (1975). Ah, the height of the second wave of feminism and we finally got the most well-known female comic hero onto television. Please note that we still have yet to have a female comic lead for a movie, other than the much-lambasted (unfairly!) Supergirl from 1984 and the did-anyone-else-see-it Tank Girl (both in my top ten, btw). And that there have been precious few female-led comic shows since the 70s (Birds of Prey, which I enjoyed, Model by Day, which was awful but I enjoyed because of Famke Jansen but it was just a TV movie, so... and maybe the argument for Generation X, but that was more of an ensemble). Okay, there's one exception, but I'm saving that for my Grand Prize.

Anyway. Here we are 35 years later and the Black Widow has been relegated to Tony Stark's secretary, there will be no female Avengers in the forthcoming movie, and if they ever make a Wonder Woman movie... yeah, exactly.

But besides all of that, I loved this show because of Lynda Carter. Man. She's still Wonder Woman as far as I'm concerned. She made the character interesting, strong, smart, sassy, vulnerable... human. While still being Diana Prince of the Amazons. And she did all of this in an outfit no man would have been caught dead in until 300. This. Is. Themyscira.

Grand Prize: Lois & Clark (1993). Best. Lois. Ever. I remember the big to-do when they announced that it would be Lois' name up front. And now it seems so obvious. Teri Hatcher's Lois was absolutely perfect for the time, and as a 12 year old girl watching this show, there was nothing I wanted more than to grow up and be like Lois Lane (except maybe to grow up and marry Lois Lane, but that came a couple of years later). The leads and amazing chemistry, Dean Cain was a great Superman and Clark (in the more modern, less bumbling sense), and John Shea was a perfectly cast as the evil, strangely noble version of Lex Luthor.

Yeah, this show jumped the shark. But it took awhile. We got a lot of good episodes out of it. But more importantly, we got a pop-culture phenomenon. And us girls got someone to look up to that was just a regular woman, living in a super world with a superhero.

It was sharp, stylized, and witty. Teri Hatcher carried that show (not that Dean Cain wasn't great, and not that I don't give props to Margot Kidder, for being the best part of the modernization of Superman that started with Donner's movie). It was fun and exciting and bright and it got people talking about Superman again. And I loved every minute of it, even after the shark jumping.

So there we go. I cheated a little because I couldn't narrow it down.

What are your favorite adaptations?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday Haul. Sigh. More Zombies. (But also Batwoman!)

Not that I'm on a strict timetable, but I meant to get this in yesterday and the day just sort of got the better of me. So here we go. Same idea as last week, bottom to top.

Necrosha (one shot) - Yeah, zombies. Yawn. I don't care if DC or Marvel came up with this first, DC got it out first, so Marvel is late to the game. The art in this issue is really nice. There are three separate set-up stories. The plot of the first one is okay, but mostly exposition from Selene (it seems) and... big reveals of zombies I just don't care about. I'm sure you're wondering why I bothered, considering my general disdain with Marvel's universe at the moment. Well, Necrosha is a big cross over with New Mutants, and NM is one of the two titles I regularly read from Marvel (though I may add a third). I know about Emma and the Hellions, so that was neat, but the rest... eh. Whatever. Good luck with the zombies, X-Force. I think the Cypher story was interesting but, again, I'm really only here for the New Mutants anyway. So naturally. And then, of course, they throw Destiny into the third one and I get all interested in X-Men Legacy just to find out WTF she said to Ruth, and who Ruth is (who's Ruth) and was she looking for Rogue?

Zombies are so complicated, man.

New Mutants #6 - The first Necrosha tie-in for New Mutants. Cypher's back and all evilish. Are zombies really evil? I mean, I realize that the Blackest Night and Necrosha zombies aren't really zombies. They certainly seem to have some choices in what they're doing. The Necrosha ones more than the BN ones even. I enjoy reading Cypher's thoughts, and I enjoy how he breaks down even body language and understands it. The scene with the Professor (he's walking?) and the newly graduated New Mutants is priceless. And thank heavens we don't have that terrible art style from last time. I enjoyed it enough this time, but I'm so tired of the dead coming back and punishing the living that I really can't get behind it 100% yet.

Blackest Night: Titans (3 of 3) - This resolution was much more satisfying than the resolution from the Superman tie in. I don't know why. The mystery of why Dove is a weapon against the zombies is interesting (I have theories), and it's cool to see Bart and Cassie step up and be part of the Titans now. For BN anyway. Also Bart had the best comedic line of the book (the fact that I could laugh in a zombie book is nice), and there was some real intensity with Gar and Dead!Terra and Donna and dead!Baby that not only rung true but was very powerful. I was pleasantly surprised by this. I've always pictured Donna as Debra Winger (I know, I know), but this sort of finally separated me from that image of her.

Now I want to know how they're going to bring Garth back from the dead, because... seriously. Once this is all over, I want some of these dead heroes back, guys.

Blackest Night (4 of 8) - "We need to run in, take charge and kick ass like we were born to. And Ray? Mera? We were born to." Damn. For the first time ever, I see why Barry Allen is such a big deal. So here we are, power levels 100% (finally), and Nekron rises and wants Barry Allen (and I'm going to assume Oliver Queen, Clark Kent, Bart Allen, and anyone else who's come back from the dead). There were some fine moments in this, but it's dead in the middle of the series, and I'm pretty sure January is a month off for BN (hey, maybe they can finish Rebirth) so I just feel frustrated and stuck. But these zombies still pack more of a punch to me than the Marvel ones, because these are characters I know and love rising and being tormented. Middle of the road.

Gotham City Sirens #5 - Wow, this title is like... full of super lesbian subtext. Jenna Duffy, The Carpenter? Hah! I love the way Paul Dini writes these characters, it's really fantastic. And a freakishly adorable reveal of the actual bad guy, Joker's old sidekick who doesn't like "Harley Come Lately" (seriously, gay subtext abounds). Great stuff. This is another one of those titles that I feel I should be annoyed at, but mostly just enjoy. The team of Harley, Ivy, and Selina is fantastic and I have a lot of fun with them.

World's Finest (1 of 4) - I like this idea of the young superheroes that stand in on a world without Superman or Batman (I'm assuming this is pre-Blackest Night?). Especially because I really like most of the young superheroes. And they started out with two of my favorites: Red Robin and Nightwing. I love Chris Kent. I love the idea of Chris Kent, I love how Chris Kent came to be, and I love what he's doing now. So I was happy with this.

It was just a small little story for the two of them, but it had a lot of good character development in it, which is nice to see in what is ostensibly a one-off for the characters. The contrast between Nightwing's blue and Red Robin's red is really pretty. Yes, I use technical words like pretty. I'm a professional, people.

Ms. Marvel #46 - This was my first issue of Ms. Marvel. Ever. And it's second on my list, so that's saying something. My interest in Ms. Marvel was piqued by Fantastic Fangirls' Anika, and when I saw the "Battle of the Marvels" cover, I knew I had to pick it up. I wasn't disappointed. Sure, I only had a slight idea of wtf was going on, but Carol/Catherine's voice and her character were so enjoyable that it didn't matter. The way she dealt with Moonstone was really... heroic. Like a woman who's made mistakes allowing someone else to reform, just like she is. I'm not sure if I'll continue on with the title. Maybe. But I know that I enjoyed this issue for what it was and what it did for a character that I've come to enjoy vicariously through a big fan.

Detective Comics #858 - The beginning of the next arc for Kate and the end of the first arc for Renee. And of course it had to be at the top. I go in not wanting to like this title (seriously, twins?) but then I can't help it. Between the great writing from Rucka and the amazing art from JHW3, I don't have a choice. Also, just keep drawing Maggie Sawyer in a tux. Seriously. Hot. I think they're setting her up as the Gordon to Kate's Batwoman, and that's fine by me. Except with more subtext and potential making out. Also fine by me (sometimes I'm easy).

One of the things that really stuck out to me (in a good way) was the difference between The Past and The Present. Artistically. The past had less detail, as if it really was just a memory that is fuzzy around the edges. I mean, I have no artistic talent whatsoever, but if I'm reincarnated as an artist, I'd like to be JHW4. His stuff is so amazing, and even though I still wish the Kanes could have some skin pigmentation (they used to have it! what happened?) that is seriously my only nitpick with the art. The part where Kate comes back into her HQ and sheds her gear before slumping in the chair... really great stuff. It's a two-page splash, so instead of scanning it poorly, I'll just say: go buy the issue and see it for yourself.

As for the story: again, I was okay with the reveal that Alice was Kate's sister, since that makes sense within the whole Alice in Wonderland archetype thing. The whole twin thing... less into that, but I suppose it makes the loss of Beth all the more painful to Kate, as they were able to literally be one another. Let's see where this goes, because I want to see why she becomes Batwoman in the first place (and... you know... Renee).

And then the end of Renee's story was fine. The solicits said "bittersweet," but it didn't seem that way to me. It seemed just fine. I continue to love Renee and enjoy Cully Hamner's art (I got his autograph!) and I'm excited for the next arc to start. I'd like to delve a little more into Renee's character rather than just have it be a mystery she solves, but as long as I get Renee kicking butt and being snarky, I'm unlikely to complain.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Prop X, Where X = 8

Okay, I'm doing a switcharound because clearly I'd rather write about this than do a Q/A. So the Q/A can be Friday.

Apparently, over in the Marvel universe, a place I dare not look (Dune reference!), Matt Fraction had the "foresight" (self-proclaimed) to plan this story out two years ago, way before anyone even cared about Prop 8.

What story?

WTF is Prop 8?

Right, so Prop 8 is the California proposition to amend the California constitution to ban same sex marriage.

And Prop X is the thinly-veiled Marvel Universe equivalent wherein mutants aren't allowed to breed.

Here is why Prop X would never happen, even in a mutant-hating world:
  • Breeding and marriage aren't the same thing. Believe it or not, the Constitution actually establishes a fundamental right to privacy where it concerns what to do with your own body in the matter of conception. That's from Roe v. Wade, which lots of people hate but which is still law. The deal is that a woman can decide when, how, and if to become pregnant and/or stay pregnant. Granted, that's a very wide reading of the law, but considering the actual case law about procreation is very different than the case law about marriage, I could make the argument that it doesn't matter. The deal is that the federal Constitution serves as the entry-level for rights. A state can give more rights than the federal Constitution, but not less. That means that because of this fundamental right to privacy extended over the conception and pregnancy of a woman, a state constitution, no matter how amended, can not take away that right.
  • Too many comparisons to Communist China are never good for any right wing movement. Sorry, guys.
  • Unless you forcefully sterilize mutants, you can't actually stop them from breeding. And while various governments of the real world, including the United States, have been responsible for forced sterilization in the past, it's pretty much considered a horrible thing by just about everyone these days. Except more governments that a right wing movement wouldn't want to be associated with, such as Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and, you guessed it, Nazi Germany.
  • The reason Prop 8 passed was because President Obama got a whole heap of church-going African American and Latino voters out to the California polls in November that would not have normally gone. This was part of his grassroots campaign that worked beautifully for him and terribly for the separation of Church and State. There is no equivalent reason in the Marvel Universe right now for there to be a high voter turnout for Prop X.
Now none of this stops that whole Humanity Now! movement from trying, I guess. And maybe it's some sort of way for the writers and the readers of Marvel to feel satisfaction over the failure of a right-wing, anti-rights group's failure. Or maybe they'll (inconceivably, and that words does mean what I think it means) succeed, and that's a way to get us all angry and Doing Something.

Though unless we live in California, there's really not much for us to do at this point.

Well, unless we're self-proclaimed Comic Fan Obama. He could always repeal DOMA. That'd help.

Wait, sorry, talking about Prop 8 again.

Which is the point, I guess.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Haul! Lots of girls, a few zombies, and a woman.

So just like everyone else in the Comicverse (I blame Joss Whedon for everything being a 'verse now), here's the first of my official weekly haul responses.

Bad first, because I want to end on high notes.

Justice League #38. It wasn't really bad, it was just... there. I picked it up because of the new writing team, and because I like the idea of the Justice League, and I've got a soft spot in my heart for them, but... Vixen? Really? I didn't even know who half these people were (someone died in the first few pages, and he looked like a cross between Captain Falcon and Hawkman, and I'm sure I would have been upset if, you know, I knew him). At least Red Tornado was there. And then Zee showed up. And then it was all just a PRELUDE to Darkest Night: JLA. Ugh and blah. The art wasn't anything spectacular, so really this book felt like a waste of my money.

Supergirl #46 is apparently the conclusion of the Hunt for Reactron, but I really don't care so it doesn't really matter. I haven't read any of these Reactron tie-ins, even though I really should because I like Supergirl. Why do I buy them? I don't know. Maybe in some small way, I feel like my money will make a difference. Not that it did for Exiles. Jerks.

Azrael #1. Okay. The art is sort of weird-but-good and I sort of am interested enough in the story and the character (I never liked Azrael the first time around, but I like the idea of Azrael), so I'll stick it in the middle.

Blackest Night: Superman#3. Ah, the conclusion. Where Krypto and Kon both manage to kill some Black Lanterns and we get to... wait until the next issue of Blackest Night to see anything else. Sigh. I love the three main Supers (Man, Boy, and Girl) so I was happy to see Kon using his TTK and dealing with Clark issues and such, but... Kara's trapped on Krypton and... we have to wait for BN for any furtherance of plot. Sigh!

Streets of Gotham #5. This is something I picked up from the Manhunter co-feature. We've apparently moved on in the story, because now Huntress is the main character of the main feature. And even though Batman is on the cover, he's not in the story at all (woo). I like the Huntress. She's sort of cool. Like the Red Robin of the ladies. I dig it. And the weird homicidal priest guy is interesting. SoG is at its best when it's showcasing Gotham, and I think that this issue did that. And then there was the Manhunter, and I love her something fierce (more on that Friday) so all in all I was really happy with this issue, and it's reinterested me in the main feature. Also I really like the art of both the main feature and the co-feature. I've added Dustin Nguyen to my "favorite artists" list.

Power Girl #6. Man, do I hate myself for loving this title. But I do love it. There are breast jokes aplenty. There are more-than-half-naked women running around getting taken advantage of and then being brutally violent. And then... Terra is adorable. And Kara's awesome with her cat. And the bright colors and heavy lines really work (Amanda Conner is definitely on my list). And every issue is just fun. I'm glad this Space Girls Gone Wild (sigh) arc is over with, even if the ending seemed a bit too cut-and-dry for me. I'm sure those women and their "handler" will be back.

Ahem. Anyway, how adorable was the page of Terra and PG shopping for furniture? Super adorable! And on the rooftop? I mean, seriously. Seriously! Also, I'm really enjoying the movie parodies that are "real movies" in the comic world. Hilarity. Fat Guy and the Hot Chick. Too true! How does Power Girl manage to be both horribly offensive and totally spot on in its feminist/pop-culture critique all in the same issue? I don't know, but when it comes down to it, it's just fun. In a sea of waking-dead zombies killing everyone and torturing everyone else, it's nice to have a title that is just light and superheroy and enjoyable. So thanks, Gray, Palmiotti and Conner. You made Wednesday brighter!

And then my number one buy this week, which is completely unexpected because it's Marvel: Spider-Woman #2. Man. Man man man.

Erm, excuse me. Woman.

There is nothing I don't like about this book. From Jessica Drew's inner monologue to the noir-with-color style art which reflects the gritty darkness of the plot, to the fact that I don't really need to know any of the random junk happening in the Marvelverse (damn you, Whedon!) to follow along. This is a fantastic book. I'm actually tempted to spend some money on the motion comics just to see the different stuff in that format.

It's funny, because Spider-Man is probably my least favorite mainstream/well-known superhero ever. Ever. I just don't like him, never have, and probably never will. You'd think I would, because he's the geek-turned-superhero wise cracking guy that gets to fly around the city. Maybe it's the spider thing (I hate insects... and arachnids), but I like Blue Beetle just fine, so probably not. There's just something about the type of stories he has that I dislike.

But Spider-Woman is nothing like that, and is nothing like what I expected. After I read issue one I was surprised, and now to see it continue into issue two, I'm totally sold. I hope this creative team stays together for a long long time (Bendis said in an interview that he's got tons of stories to tell, and I totally agree with hi that Maleev is doing some might fine artwork), because this book is absolutely in my top three right now.

There we go. Wednesday done. Comment! (If you, cough, want. I like feedback! And discussion!)