Friday, July 31, 2009


I started this blog mostly so I could write down all the things I was thinking about when I started reading comics regularly again. I honestly expected about five people to read it, and those are the five people whom I linked directly to the blog the day I created it, because they're the ones I'd been talking comics with anyway.

But last night I reached over 1000 hits. I know that in the age a bajillion people on the internet, 1000 isn't tons (heh, math wordplay), and I don't know all the stats about unique visitors and page views and blah blah, but it's kind of cool for me. So thanks to everyone that's stopped by, and thanks especially to When Fangirls Attack for linking me so often (most of my traffic is from that site, and most of my time is spent reading through the other links they share) and to those of you who have taken the time to comment and have discussions with/make suggestions to me.

Expect dorky thank yous at every self-imposed milestone (let's say the next one is 5000). It's just how I roll.

Thanks again!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bart Allen is back. More back than he was before!

Comic Book Resources did an interview with Geoff Johns here that's mostly about his work on various Flash-related things, and a little bit about Blackest Night. But only as it's related to Flash-related things.

During the interview, which I've got mixed feelings about (more on that later), he mentioned that Sterling Gates is going to be writing a new Kid Flash ongoing. Yay, Bart! Boo, Kid Flash, but yay, Bart!

I love Bart. I think I've been pretty clear about my love for Bart before. He's definitely my favorite Speedster by far, and as one of the six people that actually liked him as the Flash, I was pretty sad to see him die. But he's back! And after Flash: Rebirth he's getting his own ongoing.

Of course, he's stuck with being Kid Flash. Meh. That's just never anything I'd imagine Bart would settle for. But I've written about that before. I'm looking forward to seeing him grow up some at the hands of Gates, who's done a great job on Supergirl.

Johns also mentioned in the interview that Blackest Night takes place after Rebirth, which means Barry is... fine. Well okay then, so much for that cliffhanger. And since we're seeing a new Speedster by the end of it, one who may not actually be new, and Barry sticks around as the Flash, I'm guessing Wally takes a new name, gets a new uniform, and on we go from there. I'd actually rather have that happen than have some brand new speedster introed (or have someone like Owen Mercer become prominent or whatever), because with Barry back we've got plenty.

Meh, Barry's back. Whatever.

Anyway, things I'd like to see from the Kid Flash ongoing, in case anyone that has any say in these things stumbles across my blog, decides I have decent ideas, and feels like listening:

Bart grows up. Not in a complete, lose -his-Bartness sort of way. But let him adapt and change and move beyond just being the guy who used to be Impulse that's now stuck being Kid Flash even though he's not a kid... but he is again. Ahem. Tim's doing this over in Red Robin, and hopefully Kon will do this in Adventure Comics. I want Bart to move forward, not just stay the same old Bart.

Bart deals with his death. Not just "hey, cool, I'm alive!" but in a legit way. He was brutally beaten to death. I don't care if they brought him back with no memories of the incident. That can be retconned.

Bring back Arrowette! Hey, Mia's over in England doing nothing in particular (or so I like to pretend). And Arrowette was first introduced in Impulse back in the day. Last we heard she was going to school with Cassie, who's still out heroing. And while it's nice to see a hero walk away, she's one I want back. She's a good foil for Bart (Don't believe me? Check out canon to the left!). And I think this could relate well to the first two requests: she's had to deal with both Kon and Bart's deaths, and we haven't really seen any of that. We focus on Cassie, but not Cissie, because Cassie is Wonder Girl and Cissie is just a retired hero. So that could be cool. Also it is my personal fanon that they would be a great couple. But that's really just a side-issue, I swear. (No, really, canon. I don't want this to turn into a Bart/Cissie post, but I'm just sayin'.)

So my favorite Speedster is back in his own title, written by a writer I already know I like, and I'm excited. I'm also excited that the entire Flash family is getting more attention (even though, again, I'm meh about Barry). I'm excited that they're all going to be involved in the upcoming Flash title, even Bart.

Some more positivity! Not bad for a Monday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some positivity: Supergirl #43.

I liked it!

It was obviously a bridge between the Superwoman arc and the whole "Supergirl/Mon-El take on Nightwing/Flamebird" arc that's upcoming (and we were only anvilled once or twice about the whole Kara and Flamebird were friends things).

So it was Kara's birthday, which on New Krypton (and I imagine original Krypton) means choosing your guild. For some reason, it didn't occur to be that Krypton ran on a caste system based on guilding. But that sort of makes sense. Then again, they're also all heterosexual and seem to have the same kind of gender roles that Earth does, which doesn't make sense in the context of the universe. It makes plenty of sense in the context of having been written by humans.

Anyway, they had me from page one, which was a very cute, very aww-worthy triptych of Kara's desk in her room on New Krypton. Has there ever been an explanation of who flies after her and takes pictures of her flying? No? Okay, I'll pretend Jimmy Olsen got a jet pack. I really like the picture of her and Cassie, and the dorky BFF frame, because it's very humanizing. I also like the crumpled up balls of paper in front of the empty notepad. One of the characteristics of this Supergirl that has kept me engaged where other Supergirls haven't is her struggle with balancing her Kryptonian roots and her human friends and the fact that she's not very good at it. Not in a naive way. Not in a comic-relief way. But in a legitimate, "I have no idea how to connect" way. That's why I also appreciate the Daily Planet mug, why I wish there was a picture of Lana on the desk, and why the fact - as we find out later - that Lois wants Kara to stay off Earth for awhile is so sad. It's an injustice, but one that she weathers because she thinks she deserves it, even though we all really know she doesn't. But her connections on Earth feel so tenuous that she's not willing to risk pissing her cousin's wife off. She needs everythign she can get. Everyone she can get.

Poor Kara.

But this issue was nice not just for that. It was nice for me to get a look at Kryptonian society, and to see Kal-on-Krypton through Kara's eyes. I understood immediately what her mom was doing, but the fact that she didn't rang very true. And the fact that she's so wary of her mother's intentions that every single instant up until the very end was a fight... I liked that, too. I've read some response elsewhere that don't like that Kara picked the science guild. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with the character to know why this is such a betrayal, but her reasoning made perfect sense to me.

I can understand some frustration. But as someone in a professional field who would rather be a writer, who's been told time and again that I can always write, no matter what I do, I can sort of understand some of the rational behind Kara's choice. She can always pursue art, but she's got the chance to connect with her last living parent. Why wouldn't she leap at that chance? It's a shame she's apparently stuck there her whole life (caste systems are dumb, but I guess we have them in America too, we just do it a little differently), but it's not like that stopped her mom from becoming the leader of New Krypton.

Kara has her mother, she lost her father. She feels connected to her father, despite his death, but her mom is alive and Kara doesn't understand her. Why not try?

It's all about connection. And I really liked it. I really like this Supergirl. And I like Kara Zor-El. I want to stick with it and see where she goes. Issue #43 sold me on something I'd been unsure of before, mostly because I wasn't sure I'd make it past the Superwoman arc. But this glimpse into Kara's life, and into some of her motivations, hopes, frustrations, and thoughts has made me love the character.

Kudos to Sterling Gates. And speaking of Sterling Gates... well, I'll save Bart for his own entry.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hey, you know what's awesome? Torture. Also: women's legs.

DC released some Batman-related art over on the DCU Blog, for those of us who can't attend SD Comic Con. (Yeah, word, they actually talk about comics at Comic Con. Who knew?)

After I got over my joy at seeing The Question on a cover (I've been informed it's for Azrael, but as we all know I have had very little interest in Bat-related titles of the past, so I dunno), I looked for any Batwoman related art, and saw a bit of red peeking out at me.

Found it:

So I guess that's the trauma in Kate's past. At least she wasn't raped by members of her squad. Just captured by terrorists. And maybe raped. We'll see! (Unless she was also raped by members of her squad, then soldiered through - pun intended - the trauma, went to the Middle East, got captured and tortured... but that'd be too much. Right? Right?) The art remains very nice, though. I love the red and faded-blue/greens of Batwoman on the bottom contrasted with the sepiaesque top.

Anyway, the cover that really got me, and I mean that in a bad way, was for... I have no idea. Some Bat-title. Where Batman gets a little of the Mrs. Robinson treatment:

Remember back in 1969 when it was pretty awesome to see an older woman, clad in very little, show her still-in-great-shape legs to a younger man in an effort to seduce him? Remember when that was subversive and powerful because it messed with our ideas of gender roles and age?

Okay, technically I don't remember it since I wasn't alive, but that's not my point. My point is that this cover is more than half taken up by some woman's naked body. She's seriously only wearing a thong. And since this is Widening Gyre, that's probably Silver St. Cloud (and Bruce!Batman), which means that we're not talking about flipping things on their head anymore, we're just talking about a mostly-naked woman splashed across a comic page similar to, oh a Maxim girl or a Playboy playmate.


Hey, speaking of torture and half-naked women, apparently Silver has a history of getting the shaft (pun sort of intended, but I feel bad about it), despite being a strong enough woman to handle the whole Batman/Bruce Wayne thing. I admittedly know less about Silver than I know about Azrael, but wow. Wow.

I guess at least she wasn't kidnapped by terrorists, held hostage, and eventually - hey, do you think she has purple eyes? Too bad Widening Gyre is out of continuity, right? Perfect new Bat-Girl. You heard it here first. 'Cause you can't be a Bat without trauma, right? For some reason? Probably the same reason Gotham can't survive without Batman. Which is to say: no reason at all.

You know, with all my negativity lately, I forgot to write about how much I enjoyed the most recent issue of Supergirl. She doesn't have the shorts yet, but that's okay, I still managed to survive reading through it without feeling like a traitor to my sex. Anyway, I'll do that tomorrow.

So I hear people read Marvel Comics. Why?

Nah, just kidding. I get it. There's some cool stuff there. Their movies are definitely better (sigh).

Anyway, I have exactly three titles in Marvel that I'm interested in: Exiles, New Mutants, and Captain America. We already know my thoughts on the resurrection of Steve Rogers, which has made my interest in Cap sort of waiver a bit (or a lot).

And then Marvel canceled Exiles. Blah! Yeah yeah, low ratings. I get it. I'm a Pushing Daisies fan, too.

I really liked the first run of Exiles, up until they killed Sunfire. 'Cause, you know. Lesbians generally have to die, go crazy, get pregnant, or some combination of those three. After that, I was out. What a wasted chance to write interesting stories about an Asian lesbian. How many Asian lesbians have you seen, um, anywhere? Unless you watch the Lesbian Required Movies and have seen Saving Face, I'm guess the answer is "Sandra Oh in Under the Tuscan Sun, but that was an accident because I just went to see a romantic comedy and there was a lesbian in it and she was Asian." No, really, think about it. There's going to be one on Stargate: Universe, but I haven't really been into that fandom since James Spader was involved. Also she'll probably just wander around and be asexual. At least Sunfire totally got it on with Mary Jane. Where was I? Lesbians always make me digress. Anyway, I liked the idea of a motley crew of mutants "sliding" around the multiverse and putting things right that once went wrong, hoping each leap would be their final leap home.

Ahem. I think I got my sci-fi tangled up.

And the new Exiles (not to be confused with the New Exiles, I guess, which I didn't read) seemed to have promise. Scarlet Witch and Polaris on a team together! A more bad ass and subtextually gay Beast! The token-black comic relief (not to be confused with the token morphing comic relief)! The mystery around why Blink is still there and what she's not telling us. Hopefully that'll get wrapped up in the double issue we're promised for 9/6, because I'm curious.

So now I'm down to New Mutants and a passing sort of interest in Cap, mostly because I care about what happens to Bucky. I guess one less Marvel book I'm buying is money for one more DC book I've been waffling on (probably Wonder Woman or Secret Six, though I really need to catch up on the latter and was thinking about just waiting for the trade and, oh Adventure Comics starts soon, doesn't it?).

Or maybe I should get into Spider-Woman. Haha.

Edit: I just found out that Paul Cornell, one of my favorite writers from Doctor Who and someone I've chatted with/heard speak at the Gallifrey One convention, is writing the Black Widow miniseries due in November. Fine, Marvel. You win this round!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


iGoogle gets comic themes.

Which is cool. I mean. Superman gets his own set, but the Women of the DCU have to share. (I picked that one because it's got The Question). And it's unclear whether Batwoman is in there, or relegated to the Batman Reborn theme. I'm assuming these themes are going to update with ongoing storylines, right?

By the way, Spider-Woman has her own theme.


Have I missed something awesome about Marvel Comics' Spider-Woman? Because I don't think I have.

This doesn't really affect me much, since it doesn't change gmail and I don't really use iGoogle. (I search google via Firefox's handy search box). But I guess it's neat that if I ever accidentally click the wrong button I get a chance to see PG's giant breasts pointing at me over my news feed.


J.H. Williams III art is like a fairy tale.

Ah hah!

I had this epiphany while looking at the previews for the next issue of Detective Comics (which you can also look at here). The artwork reminds me of illustrations in fairy tale stories I've read. Which I'm okay with. I'm not really surprised either. Did I mention in my last entry on Batwoman that I think Alice in Wonderland is just a "modern" fairy tale? I may have. Anyway, it makes sense, then, why the art would look this way. I mean, it's sort of a water-colory, fantasty-heavy kind of thing with faded pastels and bright prime colors and lots of black and white.

Of course, in fairy tales red is the color of the devil. Or evil. Or whores. Depending. Okay, and the loss of innocence. Maybe that's where this is going. The loss of Kate Kane's innocence as she becomes more ensconced in the world of Gotham and the life of a Bat. Let's go there. Let's make her Little Red Hood instead of one of the evil stepmothers with red lips and red nails (hmm), or Little Red Shoes who's so intent on being the best that she dances her feet off in devil-possessed shoes. Man, fairy tales are freaky. Good stuff to mine for a Bat-comic.

I swear I'm not getting this imagery out of nowhere. I took classes! I'm legit! (Actually, that whole "I'm a trained academic in [insert area of expertise here] thing doesn't mean tons when I'm just looking at something an interpreting it, but I wanted to use a few exclamation points.) Batwoman is obviously the hero, so it sort of sets up the whole "flip our ideas on their heads" kind of thing. Can we have a minute for Batwoman's mouth, though? Sweet merciful fang, those are some pointy teeth. Quite honestly, I'm more interested in seeing Kate Kane than in seeing Batwoman. Maybe that's because I've never been a big Bat-fan.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Watchmen DVD. Also: in defense of Laurie Juspeczyk

So Watchmen comes out today. But I'm not buying it. Because it's not done yet. Dagnabit. I'm so tired of companies trying to milk DVD releases for all their worth. It's bad enough that my 100+ DVD collection isn't in BluRay (and double bad that I picked HD DVD at first!) which means I've got half of BSG in standard def and one day will have half in high def, but why not just release the damn full version concurrently with the director's cut?

You know the one I mean. The one with "Black Freighter" and "Under the Hood" intercut with the movie. The one Snyder promises is coming. What if DVD sales of this version suck? Do we not get it? Will they poll how many of us are waiting for the full version before deciding?

By the way, now that Watchmen is dropping on DVD, it gives me an excuse to write about it. In case you couldn't tell. I was chatting about it with Anika of Fantastic Fangirls (whoa, I totally just name-dropped) yesterday, because I was thinking about writing this post and what I would say that would be 1) different to what I wrote in my livejournal when it came out and 2) hopefully different than what's been written about before. Though probably not, because the internet is big and mighty and I am small and uncreative.

Women! Specifically: Laurie! See? The title was relevent. (Oh. This will have spoilers.)

So I vaguely recall reading somewhere something about Alan Moore and women. I don't remember what it was, but I remember it being negative. I never really thought his women were particularly weak or anything, especially since the first thing I ever ready by Alan Moore was V for Vendetta. But in chatting yesterday, I could see how, yeah, the women of Watchmen (the few there are) could certainly be seen as weak. In a dated kind of way.


Nothing happens without Laurie Juspeczyk. That's it. She's the lynch pin of the entire story. But at the same time, she's defined by the men in her life. The Comedian (passively for most of the story), Dr. Manhattan, and then Dan Dreiberg. She's not moving forward on her own volition, it seems like, she's tumbling from man to man. That's pretty classic. We say women are important but we always then have to throw in this thing about some man they're with, to make them more human to us. A woman isn't human without a man, you know (this is why I have mixed feelings on the Uhura/Spock relationship of the latest Trek movie; it's very nice to watch, and Uhura is an interesting character, and I get that she's the exact opposite of Spock, but.. I don't know, let her me on her own for a movie... and NO LOVE TRIANGLES). Sorry, digressive parenthetical. Right, Watchmen, women, Laurie.

(By the way, I'm using the picture above because I love the art of the movie version of Watchmen. I want the photography book. I love looking at the stills. It's amazing. It turned a comic with art I wasn't too keen on - nothing against Dave Gibbons, but I'm just not into that style - and made it into something that blew me away.)

So Laurie is defined by the men she's with. Or... is she?

She's the one person that Adrian doesn't seem to have a handle on. He manipulates almost everyone else, but not Laurie. Of course, there could be a reason for that. He's pretty clearly, if subtextually, set up as either asexual or homosexual, so it's possible that's an anvil. But Adrian does just fine jerking Janey Slater around, so I'm choosing to ignore that possibility for now. Laurie, by virtue of being who she is - a second generation mask raised/pushed by another mask, a woman, and a daughter of a single mother - makes decisions that change the world, and that, despite the ending turning out the way Adrian wanted, don't fit into Adrian's plan.

Now, I'm not saying Laurie is the central character to this story. One of the good things about Watchmen is that it's everyone's intertwined choices and actions that lead them to the inevitable result (squid or no squid, it's all the same, thematically, to me). But Laurie is a woman in a man's world, and she's arguably the strongest of all of them. She can handle things Dan can't. She can know truths reserved for Doctor Manhattan. And she can make decisions without having her strings pulled. And it's the way people react to her decisions that change things, not vice versa. Dan puts back on the costume largely because of her. The Doc leaves largely because of her. Rorschach... is insane. But you get the idea. Laurie is important, and not just passively, but also because of what she chooses to do, how she chooses to do it, and who she chooses to do it with.

Oh, and she can kick your ass.

So Laurie's not as bad as she seems at first blush. Sure, she dresses awfully (like every other woman in comics, really). She's a bit angry. She smokes like a chimney, and has some weird mullet-like hair cut. She's got mommy issues, daddy issues, and probably a few other issue to boot (like every character in that story). But in the end she's not a weak character, and I don't think she's defined by her relationships with men quite as much as they're defined by their relationships with her.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This ain't your older sister's crisis.

Okay, admission: I don't have an older sister. But my parents didn't read comics (that I know of), and did the DCU have Crises back in the day, when old people like my parents were reading them? I don't know.

Anyway, I appreciate that Blackest Night isn't being called a Crisis, even though it very obviously is the sort of imprint-changing, cross-title event that seems to get slapped with that title every few years. Which also makes me wonder why I'm not just waiting for the trade paperback, but I'm not. I'm also only buying the main title... and maybe GL Corps. And, okay, I bought Titans #15 today, too, but that was for Aqualad. Erm. Tempest.

Aw, come on, who doesn't like Garth? And his tragic story. That is clearly being brought up again (years later, people) just so his loved ones can come back from the dead and they can duke it out. But that's okay, because I got two things from this issue: Garth and Dick not being a dick. Har har, see what I did there? The transformation when he took off the cowl was literally the best moment of the comic. The second best moment was the rest of the conversation between Dick and Garth. That right there was some good Titans stuff.

Okay, onto the main event: I really liked Blackest Night 1. Now, this is said as someone who's been in and out of the DCU for 15 years. So this caught me up to speed nicely on everyone who's died that I may not have known about (I just read Identity Crisis, but I didn't know Ralph died also.). I've never been a superfan of the GL titles, despite liking individual GL characters, but I liked following Hal through this day of rememberance. The destruction of Coast City is actually one of my earliest, strongest comic memories, so it was a good way to draw me in.

I have also read zero (0) Hawk-whatever titles, and yet in about 5 pages Geoff Johns made me love this incarnation of Hawkman and Hawkwoman. Right in time for them to get killed and resurrected, so that sort of sucks (which is a feat: I had absolutely no emotional connection to these characters and was totally saddened by their deaths). But I'm sure it'll... probably... maybe... come out... I don't know.

Which is cool. I like not knowing. And I like that this crisis (erm) is bringing everyone back from that dead (that hasn't already been brought back, sigh) in a good way. Well, not good. Bad. But that's the good part. They're evil, rotting corpse monsters of death that know our heroes intimately. Creepy!

Given what the Black Lantern said to Hal and Barry (and wtf, isn't Barry himself the Black Flash? CONTINUITY!) I wonder how he's going to deal with Kon and Bart. Probably ignore Bart entirely, because god forbid we treat Bart like an actual character in the DCU (sorry, I'm bitter) unless he's comic relief. But he got a panel, so maybe. There was a lot to do in the issue, so I forgive them.

Overall, I'm really enjoying this story. I like the concept. I like how it feels pretty epic, and how, continuity with Flash Rebirth aside, it feels like this effects the entire DCU in ways that will probably be resonating for awhile. I like how it feels like a Crisis without being a crisis.

Though I wish that Black Lantern guy would stop making out with skulls. It's sort of gross.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I figured out the link-back function on blogger. Go me.

Look Out! Here Comes A Comics Blog!: Giving back to the man who gave us an Oracle

John Ostrander, who brought Barbara Gordon back from the icy grip of, um... I don't know, I'm high on cold meds. Stuff. And things.

Anyway, this guy is great and brought us some of the best female characters in comics. And now he's got Glaucoma. K.D. gives us readers a good reason to fork out what we can for him, in the form of quotes and pictures and... seriously, cold meds. Even if you don't have money, you have good thoughts and well-wishes and, for the religious out there, prayers.

So there you go.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Escape to Wednesday (Comics)

This week has been a bad week for me. Work, apartment, life in general... it's got me down. And during a particularly bad moment last night, it was said to me that you have to focus on the good things, even if those good things are little.

And, oddly, I thought about comics.


I mean, I'm not completely insane. I also thought about my friends, video games, family, the occasional good meal, the (finally) beautiful weather, the upcoming All-Star game, my tickets to see the Red Sox at the end of the month, et cetera et cetera.

But also comics.

I haven't really felt that way about comics in a long time.

What a perfect time for Wednesday Comics to come along. One page spreads of old-school style comic storytelling. My first comics were in the newspapers, not the books. (I was a Heathcliff fan myself. Eff Garfield.)

And even though I wasn't around during the golden age (or even the silver age, I guess), there's something awesome about opening up some newspaper grade paper and reading about superheroes being superheroy. Even if there's more modern art (I'm not sure wtf is happening with Wonder Woman, but I think I like it), it still makes me feel like a kid again. It's nice to feel like a kid again, because kids don't have jobs (or... shouldn't), kids don't worry about rent or health insurance, and on beautiful summer days, kids run around the yard and climb trees and scrape knees and don't sit in little offices with no windows.

Okay, that's enough of that. (My other two pulls this week were Red Robin #2 a.k.a. the Emo Quest and Green Lantern #43 a.k.a. gory death drawn beautifully. So I'll stick with WC for my happy thoughts, thanks.)

I thought Wednesday Comics was great, and great fun. For nostalgia if nothing else (and there was plenty else to love; though the stories are hard to call at this point, I'm loving the various art styles). I read someone somewhere (brains no worky) saying they hope this becomes a summer tradition. I couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Wait, what?

So I guess there's this series of biographical comics about, like, women or something. It's called The Female Force - which really makes me think it ought to be a bit more action-adventury (c'mon, Clinton would so whoop Lex Luthor's ass) and a bit less... um. Boring?


Actually, I haven't read them. I'd never even heard of them until AfterEllen did an article about them today, even though apparently Bluewater (a company I'd never heard of until today, that seems to specialize in this kind of comic... there's a Michael Jackson tribute coming in October) has been publishing them since October of last year.

Apparently they're getting a lot of press.


I mean, cool?

I don't know. Biographical comics are... neat? Woo for getting the details of these (arguably) strong and (definitely) powerful women out to the people who... read... comics.

I'm really curious, though. Who's buying these? How's the art? (The covers don't impress me much.) Which details are left out? Which are left in? Why Barbara Walters? Does Michelle Obama really have superpowers? Is Oprah the real Emperor of the Known Universe? Sarah Palin? Really?

And what would Christna Romer (oh yeah, who's the feminist political geek now, hmmmm?) think about me spending $3.99 for a graphical representation of a fraction of the information available for free at my local library/on the internet?

Has anyone read these? What do you think?

Oh, what the Hell.

The second printing of Detective Comics #854 has a way better cover.

I refuse to blow more money on something I already have just because it looks prettier, but dagnabit. That's the sort of thing I'd stick on my wall as a poster. If, you know. I were still in college.*

Not that the first one was bad, not at all, but this one has THE QUESTION (and an inexplicable lightning motif...). I'm shaking my fist in a disgruntled manner.

* I may buy it anyway. It's pretty, and this week I don't have a lot of pull titles. And one day I fully intend to have a comic wall or something, so... it could come in handy. Right? Right!

Girl Wonder, but Not Wonder Girl.

So the DCU blog gave us another cover shot fo the new Batgirl. She's got purple eyes. Gasp. Shock. Awe. I don't really care. The only answer I could possibly be annoyed with would be Barbara Gordon. Other than that, let's just reveal who she is an move on.

I mean, I'm assuming she's a she. 'Cause, after all, her name is pretty clear. Batgirl will always be female. Batman will always be male. (Good thing Bruce never took on a female side - OH WAIT.) Luckily Superman's been cloned so there can still be a Superman if Clark ever decides to retire. Whew. And Wonder Woman is, well. You know. She's actually one of the rare examples of a gendered hero-name getting first billing. But her version of first billing is pretty pale compared to the other Big Two of the Big Three (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman).

Considering I took An Awful Lot of Women's Studies classes (enough to get a degree in it, actually), usually with a lot of reading about critical race and gender theory, I don't remember a lot of the buzzwords I'm supposed to. I've been out of Academia for awhile now, and that kind of stuff just doesn't stick with you unless you practice.

Most of my dislike of various sexist, heterocentrist/homophobic, and racist images in comics (and the rest of pop culture) boils down to common sense. At least I think it's common sense, until I mention my frustration with Yet Another Crazy Lesbian Storyline and someone goes "huh?"

Seriously, it should be weird for everyone that most of the time you remember seeing a lesbian on television, she was pregnant or wanted to be pregnant or had just been pregnant and was fighting for her right to have her child.

This should bother people on so many levels.

Anyway. Pop culture. Women. Where was I?

Oh, my favorite Robin. (No, really, that's where I was. I swear.)

My favorite Robin is Carrie Kelly. Carrie came around in this dark and grounbreaking Elseworld right after Jason Todd "died". She wasn't my first Robin.* My first Robin was the Dick in the 60s TV show. But that's sort of my point. I grew up with Robin "the boy wonder". And then Frank Miller gave us Carrie Kelly, this spunky (hey, remember that word?) young girl who pushed and pushed until she was accepted. And she was fearless. Or she seemed fearless, until that scene on the roller coaster.

Good little soldier, Carrie Kelly. She was a Robin for the end of the world as we knew it. I was bummed when she ended up as Cat-Girl in the sequel. For a few reasons: one, Bruce's relationship with her bordered on romantic, and setting her up as an heir to Catwoman just reinforced that. Two, I really really really really hate hero names with genders in the title. Thanks a lot, Nietzsche. Three, because of two... it took a lot from the character. She'd gone and turned the original boy wonder into a role that didn't need a boy, thus freeing it from the requirements of having a specific (male, of course) gender. Stephanie Brown should thank her (and I should read more of her run as Robin, and I will be upset for similar reasons if Steph is the new Bat-Girl).

Of course, as Cat-Girl she was also brutally attacked by the original Robin and mangled for life. As the non-gendered Robin she was strangled, shot at, et cetera, but as Cat-Girl, her physical features were literally shredded.

And for me it's common sense that that is Some Very Bad Symbolism Right There, but I don't think it is for everyone else.

Which is probably why the female characters in comics still have a long way to go.

* This idea of having a "first" anything only really came to me when I got into Doctor Who fandom. In DW we have long and drawn out conversations about our first Doctor, our favorite Doctor, our first companion(s) and our favorite companion(s), and said conversations usually involve a lot of geeky talk about the minutia of episodes, the context of the era they were broadcast in, and some good old fashioned fisticuffs. Okay, no fisticuffs, I made that up.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Guys love lesbians. Well. Most lesbians. Well. Femmes.

So I started to to follow When Fangirls Attack, which is a great aggregator of, well. Women-in-comics links. And I've been reading through the various Detective Comics/Batwoman related things, and maaaaan is everyone in love with her/the book.

Except by "everyone" I mean "all the guys who are writing reviews." There are women that write reviews of comics, right? Somewhere? In the week and a half since the book came out, most of the reviews I've read have been by males. And the few negative or neutral reviews I've read have been the ones by women, or by people whose gender isn't evident based on name. (Which leads me to my first caveat: I'm absolutely admitting to assuming gender - and making alliteration! - based on posting name.)

One of the most obvious indications of the maleness of the reviews is that they all love love love Kate but the reaction to Renee is middling. Femmes get all the straight, male love, yo. And a lot of the focus is on the art, really.

There's something that doesn't sit right with me when a review by a man starts out with "I'm in love." This isn't to say the rest of the review isn't valid, or that people don't have a right to continue the objectification of women (well...), especially in the very visual medium of comics where the practice has been rampant for years, but how many reviews of Dick Grayson throwing on the Batman outfit start with "I'm in love."? There's this cloud that hangs over the head of a lot of lesbians with an interest in pop culture, and that cloud is: two ladies macking on each other is twice as hot as one lady just standing there!

I don't like that cloud. It takes away from my sunny joy of finally finally having a lesbian leading a major comic line at a major comic company. We're one issue in and I already need an umbrella (and a new metaphor). And these guys aren't getting it from nowhere. They're getting it from pointy-nippled costumes and cracks about Batwoman's hair, and her essentially using her (unattainable to the male) sexuality to soothe a bad guy in the first few pages of the issue.

Danger Will Robinson.

Can you imagine The Question going up to some guy, cooing at him in a soft voice with her lips (erm... no-lips) inches from his, running a hand through his hair, and talking coyly? No, exactly. How about Batman? And the sad part is, I'm not sure if I can see Wonder Woman doing it, or Black Canary or any number of other female superheroes. That means that the "femme" lesbian is getting hypersexualized while in her superhero persona. On purpose.


As one of the few female superheroes with a costume that actually covers her entire body, and with sensible shoes, to boot, why does the sexuality have to be turned up a notch or ten?

I'm interested/scared to see her interactions with the child-like Alice. Male homosexuality is often associated (wrongly) with pedophelia. So let's see where this goes. I'm interested/scared to see this supposed trauma in her past. If it's rape at the hands of some military guys either related to her dad, or while she herself was in the military prior to getting ousted for DADA stuff, I may have to walk away from the title. Lesbianism is often associated (wrongly) with rape survivors. That kind of overdone storyline may be a deal breaker for me. (Okay, I'd still get it for the Question co-feature, but... you know!)

So, yeah, let's see where it goes. I continue to have faith in Greg Rucka, because I think he's awesome and I like his sensibilities (I've been reading his livejournal and started following him @twitter). But the reviews I've been reading have got me worried, because this is the audience that's being catered to: straight and male. Let's be honest. Even if they're aware that LGBTQ people and females or other gendered people are reading their comics, and even if they're trying to get an inclusive message out to the majority group, they still want to sell comics. So that's not who they're aiming for, because minorities are, well. Minorities and therefore aren't spending at the same level, and comics are still a business and businesses need money to survive.

Maybe I just want a Question feature and a Batwoman co-feature and I'm bitter that it's the other way around. Heh. 'Cause seriously, I don't love Kate Kane. I like her, and I'm interested in her, and I like what she means, but I don't love her. Not yet. But Renee Montoya... well.

I guess she's more my type.*

*Irony intentional.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In time for July 4th...

I give up on Technorati. I'll just hope word of mouth and various links get me page reads. Because I need attention.

Speaking of attention, I did not buy Captain America Reborn. I think that maybe I'm the only person on the planet that isn't excited that Steve Rogers is back. I've waxed on (and off, Miyagi-san!) about how I'd really like to see comics moving forward, and that the continual resurrection of golden age heroes is not moving forward, so I won't go into it again.

I think that my dislike of this storyline (which I know nothing about other than it exists) is twofold: one, I like Bucky and his story of redemption, and how he's a Formerly Very Bad Person trying to live up to this epic legacy. This isn't Dick taking over as Batman, because that's what Dick has been working towards every moment of his life (even before meeting Bruce, as Alfred pointed out in Batman and Robin #2 this week). Dick is a good guy, no question about it, no matter what gray area things he may or may not have done in the past. Bucky wasn't a good guy. And, granted, he was brainwashed, but it's not like he doesn't remember the things he's done. They were very bad things.

Second: the idea of Captain America never really worked for me until Civil War (the arc, not the war), which I admittedly only vaguely followed. But there's no symbolism in post-Vietnam/Nixon/Pentagon era of a man wearing the stars and stripes... or to put it in terms more relevant to my generation, the post-Lewinskygate/Schiavo/Patriot Act era. And then I started to realize that he stood for all the things I believe in (some of which are considered very very unamerican these days). Particularly personal freedom being more important than the illusory idea of safety, and the notion that the government (and superheroes) exist to protect everyone from everyone - including the government (and superheroes), especially minorities that get kicked around by majorities.

Even though I started to appreciate this more modern Steve Rogers, he was still surrounded by this aura of perfection. I'll be totally honest, again, and say I haven't read a ton of Captain America stuff, but just the way I see other characters talk about him gives me this feeling. I don't like war, any war, and I think that America did some awfully bad things during all of the wars it's been involved in. I don't think having some Storm Saxon (okay, yes, Steve Rogers predates V for Vendetta, but still) look-a-alike wearing the American Flag is really going to do it for me.

I want Captain America to be conflicted over wearing the uniform. And Bucky is. And his conflict over the terrible things he did is a good allegory for the terrible things America has done. That's the kind of Captain America I want.

The Cap I want to read about uses guns, because it's a bad ass world out there. The Cap I want to read about doesn't think he deserves the job. The Cap I want to read about is high-tech, but that high-tech came from another country. The Cap I want to read about thinks that the world isn't perfect, and that the people he's there for may not need him... and he feels despair but balances that with his love of a flawed country.

My Captain America speaks fluent Russian, because this is 2009 and our enemies aren't Nazis and Reds and Charlie. They're everyone, everywhere. Anyone who can sit at a computer and hack into a system, anyone who can hop on a plane and fly it into a building, anyone who can put together a bomb in his shed and take out a city block. They're even us. And Bucky knows that.

So I'm not psyched Steve Rogers is reborn. He's not my Captain America, because I don't think I live in that kind of America. Maybe I wish I did. I understand having a symbol of that hope. Maybe I'm just too cynical for a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Captain America to stand proud with his square jaw and make everything okay again. Because everything is not okay.