Monday, August 31, 2009

Marvel Divas vs. Disney Princesses. Thunderdome style.

Nah, just kidding. I have no idea what the fallout of Disney's acquisition of Marvel will be, other than having stupid Marvel-based rides at the theme parks.

Though Mulan vs. Laura Kinney could be sort of fun.

My money's on X-23. Just saying.

I've been pretty vocal about my disinterest in Marvel titles lately. I've also shared my dismay that Marvel's movies are better than DC's (though I have yet to complain about the lack of female Avengers in the upcoming movie, which believe me I will) since I like DC's characters better. I've also been very vocal elsewhere (including college papers, no lie) about my hatred of the Disney Princesses imprint. Like it wasn't bad enough we had to grow up thinking that a happy ending = Prince Charming, Disney now has to saturate stores with pretty pink and sparkly princess items that girls Must Have to Be Cool. Grr and argh, in that order. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I had a mother who would sit me down and tell me it was okay not to be like the princesses in the movies, because everybody is different.

So what is Disney going to be doing with Marvel? I've been told "something exciting," by an anonymous source that will probably kill me for even putting that in my blog. I have no idea how said anonymous source knows this, other than that anonymous source has been involved in some wheelings and dealings with some production companies lately and said to me, when I mentioned the news this morning, that "I knew it was happening, but couldn't tell you." Stupid non-disclosure agreements!

Yeah, I don't know. I guess we'll see if there's much of a shake up. I have a feeling this will affect the movie division more than the comic division, but I have no idea. I'm not a business-minded person. I'm a consumer, and I haven't been consuming much of either company's products lately (though I love the movies I grew up on and I love Enchanted, and we all know my feelings on Tron, which better have a kick-ass comic tie-in now).

What would I like to happen? I'm not really sure on that, either. This isn't as big to me as when Warner Brothers bought DC (which was only vaguely big, because I wasn't into comics as much at the time). I'm still a DC kid (girl, reader, whatever), and probably will favor DC for as long as they turn out better stories and more realistic cup sizes (yes yes, Power Girl, I know). It's all opinion, of course. I just prefer the world of DC and the characters of DC, and so the fact that Cinderella may join H.A.M.M.E.R. doesn't really worry me.

Please note: I don't really think that Cinderella is going to join H.A.M.M.E.R. Belle might, though. She's fiesty.

Okay, just for kicks, Thunderdome match ups I'd like to see:

Mulan vs. X-23
Maleficent vs. Phoenix
Megara vs. Carol Danvers
(What's with the M-ladies, Disney?)
Ursula vs. Emma Frost

And to be fair, some guys:
Prince Charming vs. Captain America
Aladdin vs. Spider-Man

Wait, why do women have to fight each other? Tsk tsk, Sam, you know better than that. Mulan could totally kick Spidey's ass. Illyana Rasputin vs. The Sorcerer from Fantasia? No contest. Oh, and who doesn't want to see The Incredibles vs. The Avengers? Crazy people, that's who!

And I bet Giselle would tame Wolverine in no time flat.

Now that's a movie I'd pay to see.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sexuality in BSG.

I'm a bit behind on my comics because of my week long moving process, so I'm going to write about something else, instead. The title does say "and pop culture," after all. If this goes well, I may have some more non-comic posts in the future, especially during slow weeks.

Okay, so this came up in my post about female friendships in comics. I said not to get me started, but then James asked if I would start. So here we go.


Actually, I've talked about this a lot with one of my friends. Who would we like to see as The Token Not-Straight Character in BSG? The obvious choice is Starbuck, which is why Starbuck would be a no go (Billy would also have bee obvious). I personally vote Eight, but Eight 's line seemed to be particularly defined by her relationships with men, so meh! Dualla would have been good, or Roslin (though I loved the Adama/Roslin romance, and how it portrayed in a beautiful, tender, realistic way the development of love, romance, and a sexual relationship between older people) or Hot Dog (nope, had to spawn a kid), or Tory or... well, lot's of people.

But we eventually decided that the best would have been Lee. Why? Because it would have messed with peoples' ideas of what gay men "should" be. He's a soldier (suck that, DADT), a statesman, and a hero. He's a "manly man," and not overly effeminate (not that there aren't effeminate gay men, and not that I think there's something wrong with effeminate gay men, but if you want to mess with peoples' preconceived notions of stereotypes, you don't want the butch woman to be the lesbian - Starbuck - or the effeminate man to be the gay one. Not that there was an effeminate man on the show. Besides maybe Baltar. Cough.) Also he's a dude, and most Token Gay People tend to be women, and they're only Token Gay during sweeps week, so they can mack on other femmey women for ratings. Personally, I hated Lee. He was probably my least favorite character of the entire series, but a lot of that was because of his relationship with Starbuck, so maybe I would have liked him better as The Token Gay.

So now that I've rambled about who should have been the Token Not Straight Character, let's look at the ones we did get (spoilers):

1) Six, particularly her Caprica and Gina versions. Caprica really only had a threesome with Baltar and Three, so I don't think that should count. I'm also not sure that was Caprica, but I got confused by all the Sixes. You know the one. On the ship. In the bed. With Baltar and Three. She was a bad guy. And Gina detonated a nuclear bomb and killed a bunch of people. After having been tortured and raped for awhile (and was only Not Straight in the extended cut). Neat!

2) Three. But she got boxed, so that's some negative reinforcement for you. Also the whole threesome thing, which could be done in a very interesting "we don't think of relationships the way you do, you backwards humans" way, but wasn't.

3) Admiral Cain. But only in the extended version, and oh yeah SHE WAS A BAD GUY. Ahem, caps lock. A brutal killer. Shot people in the head for disagreeing with her. Super.

4) Hoshi. But only in the web series. The lone example of a decent portrayal of a non-straight person, if only because... well. Besides becoming Admiral at the end, he didn't really do much. Or express opinions. Or have screen time.

5) I saved the best for last. Felix "I'm Bastard" Gaeta. I lied before when I said Lee was my least favorite character. Gaeta was. To be fair, I hated Gaeta right from the very start, even before his whole mutiny thing. Oh and the VP to Baltar thing. He was a slimey, jealous bastard right from the start. And then he was VP to Baltar, and responsible for the death of how many people (I so loved the moment in the web series when we found out about that)? But it's okay, Felix, you didn't know. He was willfully blind, to the detriment of everyone, and I can't stand that sort of character trait. He's, arguably, one of the least sympathetic characters in the entire series. And if you felt sympathetic for him for anything but the whole leg-loss situation (which he then used as an excuse for later behaviors), please tell my why. I'd really like to know. I was actually satisfied when he was executed, which is saying something. So there we go. Plus he was only Not Straight in the web series, which was, coincidentally, the only time we saw a same-sex kiss on the show. Props for it being between two men, but boo because one of those men was Felix Gaeta.

There we go. That's what we were given. And here's why it was disappointing:

One of the beautiful things about BSG is that it was able to be an allegory for and a mirror in the face of our own society. It made us think about things. Things from the very obvious "what would you do for food" to the nature of what makes us human. It tackled subjects like torture,, terrorism, religion, democratic process, and abortion in very cutting edge ways that managed to both remind us of our culture and yet be something totally different. It made the bad guys monotheists, and then made them not as bad as we thought. The moment Roslin made abortion illegal was when this really hit home for me. I loved her. I wanted her to be my president. She was obviously, in my mind, the sort of liberal-leaning, civil-rights-loving, ass-kicking woman I wanted to my White House. And then she took away a woman's right to choose. She did it for a reason, and that reason was explained well, and her thought process was painful (kudos to Mary McDonnell), but here she was doing the exact opposite of what I thought she would do.

And it made me think. When you've only got forty-thousand people left, what's more important? The species or personal freedom? (I still say personal freedom, but that's okay.)

If they can handle the most divisive topics of our time in such a brilliant and bold way... why was everyone heterosexual? Why were the people who weren't heterosexual relegated to the web series and extended cuts, and why were most of them bad guys?

Rick Berman's old answer to the question of "why is everyone in Star Trek straight" was that it was a non-issue. It was evasive, since the complete lack of any representation in the twenty-fourth century made that non-issue a glaring oversight. But Ron Moore never said that. He even talked about including sexuality in the show. And it was a very sexual show, which focused several episodes on storylines revolving around, in no particular order: Starbuck and Lee, Starbuck and Sam, Helo and Athena, Chief and Cally, Chief and Boomer, Baltar and Women, Adama and Roslin, Cat and Random Drug Guy, Adama and Roslin, Billy and Dualla, Lee and Dualla, Starbuck and Leoben, Starbuck and Zack, Tigh and Ellen, Baltar and Caprica... I'm sure there are more. Storylines that were central to the entire arc of the series.

And so... and so I'm left unsatisfied. Could you imagine an episode where Roslin outlawed homosexuality? After all, if the survival of the species is tantamount to her, so much so that any pregnant woman is required by law to carry to term, you'd think she'd follow with the whole "homosexual relationships tend not to produce offspring so easily" thing. There could have been debates, gay couples that showed up with their kids, arguments about surrogacy and adoption, et cetera et cetera. It's not like they didn't have time for this, there was pretty pointless episodes/storylines along the way that could have been replaced with that storyline.

Maybe it would have turned into a Token Gay Storyline. And maybe not, because the writers on BSG were some of the best writers out there. Like I said, the tackled pretty much every modern issue interestingly and in a way that was obvious without being preachy.

So it would have been nice to have someone besides the villains, the barely-there dude, or the deviants be the people in same-sex relationships or having same-sex hookups or even just declining a Baltar advance because they're not into guys. It would have been nice to have something beside the usual parade of negative portrayals.

I guess I should at least be happy Cain wasn't pregnant.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A postella.

That's like a novella. It's shorter than an actual post.

Since Flash Rebirth #4 releases today (finally!) I would just like to state once again my extreme and utter dislike for the Kid Flash costume which looks exactly like the costume of the Reverse Flash.

Okay, that's it. More later. Big day in DC, with TEC, Rebirth, the Secret Six TP, and Sirens out today. And possibly more zombies. I really don't know.

(Still no Marvel titles I have any interested in...)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Friends and Special Friends.

One of Gail Simone's responses to the whole Cry for Justice #2 thing (you know the one, where Hal gets backed into admitting he had a threesome with the Huntress and Lady Blackhawk) was that it's troublesome to see people write strong female friendships in a way that inevitably lead to sex. Like two women can't just be good friends with each other, because if they're that close they obviously must have some sort of sexual interest in one another.

To drag out a good quote of hers:
"What IS it about female friendship that is so scary or impossible to imagine that it's so rare in comics? Honest to god, and I"m not talking about this book here, but it's something I've thought of often, it's just utterly baffling to me how poorly female-to-female non-sexual relationships are realized.

We have tons and tons of historic bromances in comics, but I really had to invent a superhero female friendship for Diana because she didn't really have one outside of Donna. How dumb is that, in seventy years of stories? The Jla, the Avengers, all that stuff, hardly any lasting friendships between two women.

Once again, JLI was ahead of the game with Fire and Ice. But the vast majority of female team books are of the dumbass Charlie's Angels mode, where everything is about fake lesbian posery and talking about men, as if the characters don't exist without them.

When I wrote bop, we went almost five years with no serious romantic subplot quite intentionally, with the idea of showing that women can actually have real friendships and arguments and all of that range of emotion without having to connect it to guys for it to carry weight and validity. And I think it worked, I think people understood that Canary and Zinda and Babs and Helena loved each other, genuinely loved each other. I think that was the pure joy of the book, really.

Why is that such an unbelievably rare thing, not just in comics, but in all media?"
Yeah. Seriously. Unless it's in a show, movie, or book specifically targeted towards a female audience. Certainly anything aimed towards the male gaze has a lack of them, and even "neutral" things, like, um. BSG (okay, arguable if that's a neutrally targeted show, but that gets into the whole women-liking-scifi thing and I'll save it for another day). Even BSG has a lack of female friendships. Tigh and Adama's friendship is one of the core relationships of the series. The [heterosexual] romantic relationships certainly are, and ended up being the most important plot points of the arc, by the end. (Don't even get me started on sexuality in BSG.) But there was no strong female friendship, despite having lots of strong female characters hanging around.

I'm conflicted on this one. On the one hand, I absolutely agree with what Ms. Simone is saying. In comics (and other media intended mainly for men), female friendships are rare unless there's some kind of sexual subtext involved. On the other hand... I ship it.

What I mean by that is something I've talked about before: subtext. I'm a Xenite. That's arguably one of the strongest female friendships in pop culture history. But if you asked me if they were having sex with each other, I'd say "yes" in a heartbeat and not feel a tad guilty about it because I ruined the portrayal of a strong female friendship. In my mind they remain great friends, because ... what's that quote? Love is friendship set on fire. Word.

Here's the thing. I'm not just a woman, I'm a gay woman. (I know, shocking.) And as a gay woman, I have been pretty much starved for representation in the media. Disney princesses end up with Disney princes. Everyone on TV, everyone was trying to be in a relationship, make a relationship work, or dealing with the hilarious hijinks of having a relationship (depending o the type of show), and all of those relationships were heterosexual. Even the cross-species love (Kermit and Ms. Piggy) was still straight love. Every movie I remember watching, re-watching, and eventually wearing the VHS tape out on had a heterosexual relationship at the center of the story (with the exception of maybe Mary Poppins, but I'd argue that).

I completely understand the frustration with turning close female relationships into sexual ones. But at the same time... I'd like to see some ladies lovin' each other. Even now, even post-Ellen, post-Xena, post-The L Word, we're not really well represented. (Yes, I'm a regular reader of, why do you ask?) And if we are there, we're usually chaste. Don't believe me? Compare the amount of times you saw Bianca Montgomery kiss one of her girlfriends (let alone get into bed wit one) to the amount of times you saw her sister Kendall get her freak on with various dudes.

Shuttup, I watched All My Children for the lesbian. Sort of like how I watched The OC for those 8 episodes where Mischa Barton's character (um, I don't even remember her name) was dating Olivia Wilde's character (Alex!). Sort of like how I've seen pretty much every movie on the Required List of Lesbian viewing, because it's not like there's a lot out there to go through. Sort of like how I spent hours back in 2001 downloading Real Media clips of the first two seasons of the British show Bad Girls because.. you guessed it: lesbians.

Or bisexual women.

Anyway, my point is that sometimes I really do think the women ought to be together. Not always, no. And I absolutely agree that there is a lack of strong female friendships pretty much everywhere ever (Sex in the City and its genre copiers are exceptions, but all of those women were also defined by their search for men). But sometimes, you know. I just ship it. And maybe I'd like to see some women in comics hooking up with other the same way guys hook up with women. We've got a lesbian leading a comic, let's see how long it takes her to have the amount of sex the current Batman has had in the pages of his older Nightwing and Titans titles. Let's see how long it takes her to kiss someone.

I know that Ms. Simone wasn't saying women who are friends can't have sex with each other (in fact she explicitly said that earlier), and I know that my point of view is vastly different than the intended audience (men), so the above should be read with a grain of opinion-salt. I don't want all female friendships relegated to the dregs of "heh heh, that's hot" land, but sometimes I really enjoy the chemistry between two characters and would like to see them get together.

Preferably without a guy involved, though.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Girls, Girls, Girls. And Manhunter.

It was like Girl Power day today at the comic shop. Remember Girl Power? From back in the 90s? You know, Spice Girls and Xena and Ally McBeal and a female captain on a Trek show? Before LiLo and Britney broke down, and before Katy Perry fake-kissed girls, because Jill Sobule was busy real-kissing them. Hey, wikipedia has an entry on girl power. Now I don't have to explain it.

I wasn't actually expecting that sort of girl power from this week's haul. It's just what came to mind when I looked at the new release list and saw Power Girl, Supergirl, and Batgirl. Wahoo! (Except for the whole "girl" thing, which I've complained about before.) I figured it'd be same old same old, especialy since PG is just starting her "Girl's Gone Wild" arc, so we can cross that one off the girl power list, right?

Well, sort of.

The scenes of Karen and Terra at the movies were sort of adorable. Sure, there was the requisite breast-joke (har har, the sleazy guy is at nipple level), but their interactions to one another and reactions to the movie were really sort of nice. I know nothing about Terra. She's a teenager? Is it wrong of me to ship them? I'll assume yes.

Of course we fit in another breast joke, a teenager in her underwear, and a few panels about Karen's total lack of business acumen (her cat seems cool), before the real start of "Space Girls Gone Wild", which we'll get to.... next month.


So this was an interim issue. It was actually fine as one. I liked what it did (even the weird WoW/DoD-mocking villain) with the characters. Some nice downtime/development prior to the beginning of the next story arc. And I really like Karen Starr and I really like Power Girl and the way she's written and the way she talks. I think this is, despite the amount of breasts jokes (seriously, guys, at least one an issue?) and the "something's not quite right" with this feeling I get about the way Karen Starr is portrayed (oh, the dumb blonde that knows nothing about science or business) going to be a title I stick with.

Let's see, Supergirl next. I didn't actually read it. It's part 3 of Codename: Patriot, and I don't have 1 or 2. This is the tie-in I complained about before, swore to myself I wouldn't buy, then got confused and bought anyway. Go team me. But since we're talking Super, I did get Blackest Night: Superman, which... I don't know why. It was fine, really. I liked the part where Superman was basically every color of the lanterns. Damn straight. I'm sort of fascinated by all the BN stuff happening. Another promise I made to myself was to not buy all the tie-ins to BN, but I've been doing it anyway.

The continuity of all the comics I'm reading hurts my head. So BN takes place after pretty much every title that's currently running, yes? And Batgirl is after Red Robin, but both are before BN and after Streets of - nevermind.

I really want to write about Manhunter in her own thing, because this is an awesome character that I just discovered, but here's what I'll say: I am seriously buying Streets of Gotham only for the Manhunter co-feature. I am no longer engaged in whatever's going on with the back-up villains of Gotham. I only care about Kate Spencer kicking ass and making snarky remarks. Also her Hellraiser-reject villain was sort of gross in a good way. Ick. Yeah, no kidding.

Okay, I saved the best for last. Na na na na na na na na BATGIRL.

I'm glad they didn't string out the reveal for too long. Also sorry about the pun with the Spoiler thing. Yeah. I couldn't apologize for the pun without spoiling the spoilers. Gah!

I'm glad it's Steph! I like Steph. Granted, I like the duo of Steph and Cass Cain, so I hope Cass comes back at some point, but I'm glad if we're getting a new, non-Cass BG that it's Steph. And I'm glad Babs will somehow be involved (but for the love of snap, I hope she stays in that wheelchair), and I'm glad that Steph hasn't lost her cool voice (I... have a thing for snarkers) and that there was some great deference given to the symbol of the Bat. It's one thing to be the Spoiler, but it's another to wear a Bat on your chest. And Steph gets (and doesn't get) that in just the right amounts. I'm optimistic for the future of this title.

So that was Girl Power week.

I was thinking about Girl Power, while I was writing my generally-happy reactions to the stories, and I remember learning about third wave feminism and discussing Girl Power in my class, and the positives and negatives. You had shows with strong (Xena) or complex (Ally McBeal) female leads, but they were wearing short short skirts (and some of them could have used a sandwich, ahem). You had the Spice Girls saying friends come first (in a way more empowering way than bros before hos, yo) but most of their popular songs were still about finding love or something. I think. I can't actually admit in public to listening to the Spice Girls. You know.

Anyway, the thing with Girl Power is that it's not Women Power. It's cutesy. It's cheery. It sugar coats feminism to sell it to the masses. I don't know if that's good or bad. Do the means justify the ends? Were there any ends for those original Girl Power People besides making money? How many people really want to change the world through pop culture?

Well, besides me. But I've just got a blog and a pechant for waxing dramatic.

What it came down to for me this week was that it was nice to buy a bunch of comics that are led by female superheroes, who are super with or without their male counterparts, but don't exist in a vacuum of femaleness or solely for the gaze of the male reader. They're there to kick some ass and be super.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Y: The Last Man. Well. I'm done.

You know when you read something or see something and you know that it will fundamentally alter the way you look at everything you read and see for the rest of your life? Not in the sense of, you know, a religious text or anything. It doesn't mean that you live your life in a different way (or maybe it does, but it doesn't have to), it just tells a story in a way that makes you reevaluate all the stories you've read before and gives you a new lens to look at all the stories you see in the future.

That's how I feel about Y: The Last Man.

Which is really just a long-winded way of saying: wow.

I'm sure a bajillion people have talked about how this book was amazing, but it's my turn, so here I go.

But first I need an anecdote, because I like anecdotes. In college, I had the phrase "the personal is political" smashed into my head a whole lot. To me, the world is personal. Everything is personal. Our lives are what informs our views and our actions. I am where I am because of who I am, and I read things the way I do because of who I am. So here's the anecdote.

I'm a lawyer, but I wasn't always. And to become a lawyer in the United States you have to pass this stupid exam called the Bar. This is basically somebody's idea of a way to test you on everything you've learned in your three years of law school, about 1% of which has anything to do with the actual practice of law (I've been a lawyer for a bit now, I feel like I can legitimately say that). It's the hardest test you'll ever take in your life (if your life is the lawyer-path), not because of the subject matter, but because of the way it's done. It's a marathon of shoving information into your brain and hoping the stuff you're capable of regurgitating during those two or three days at the end of July is the stuff that happens to be on the exam. And the entire time you're doing this you have "real" lawyers telling you that it's more of a rite of passage than anything else, because it's got absolutely nothing to do with what you're going to be doing with the rest of your life. So you know it's completely pointless except for that one, important point: passing.

I have no idea how this compares to medical boards or GMATS or anything like that, but I was an excellent standardized test taker until the Bar Exam.

Which is to say that I failed my first time. If any of you know attorneys in the United States, you may know that, despite the passage rate of many state bars, there's a huge stigma on failing the exam. It's shameful, whether we admit it or not. Needless to say, I wasn't in a good place that November.

Shortly after I received the results, I went to see the movie Stranger Than Fiction. If you haven't seen it, and you enjoy quirky movies with a vaguely science fictiony, romantic, quirky bent, I recommend it.

That movie changed my life.

The thing is, that I'm not really sure how.

The point of Stranger Than Fiction was that everything happens for a reason, and that even the smallest thing can be extraordinary, and even the most mundane person can be extraordinary.

There's nothing more I want in life than to be extraordinary. It's why I lose myself in books and movies, like Bastian Bux. This is why I become attached to the characters in stories, like they're friends of mine.

Which is why I cried when reading the last two issues of Y, and why I'm getting a bit choked up right now just writing about it.

The reason I mention failing the Bar and seeing Stranger Than Fiction right afterward is because I saw that movie at the exact right moment in my life. I needed to know that everything would be okay, because life moves forward and the decisions I make can be important ones, even if something bad happens.

I retook the Bar Exam and passed on my second go around. Not because of that movie, because I'm insane but not crazy, but because of myself. Because I wanted to be a lawyer since I was ten years old. And now I am.

Okay, anecdote done.

You know, usually I'm a lot funnier than this.

Anyway, I read Y: The Last Man at the perfect time in my life. I just don't know why yet. It's one of those things. To make a quasi-obscure law joke, I'll know it when I see it. Or when I experience it. I just have a feeling.

All the best stories, to me, are stories that transcend the literal. (Quote from Tron: "All that is visible must grow beyond itself and into the realm of the invisible.") Yorick's story isn't just the story of the last man on Earth (and I like what Vaughn said about the epilogue beying the story of the last boy becoming the last man), it's our story. My story. It's an epic. An Odyssey for the twenty-first century. It's about searching for love when it's next to you the whole time, and losing it when you finally find it. It's about an ordinary person stepping up and being what he (or she) needs to be, for the good of everyone. It's about how we're inherently good, deep down, and we want our loved ones to be okay... even when we're bad for a little while. Even when we're bad to them. It's about being extraordinary in an extraordinary world... and about being ordinary in that world, too. It's about surviving when you don't want to, and escaping to freedom when you need to. It's about the way lives intertwine even if we don't see it or realize it. It's about how everything happens for a reason, even if that reason is "just because".

It's about telling a good story (which I realized when Yorick responded to the meta of "Tragicomic" with a very telling "meh").

And this was a good damn story. One of the best I've ever read. The characters became my friends, the world became my world, and the story became my story.

So that's why I liked Y: The Last Man.

There we go. I'll try to make the next one funnier.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The characterization hurts. It hurts so badly I use capslock.

Okay, so I think I've said before that Young Justice is pretty much my favorite superhero team, right? Well, they are. Like the Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl, Arrowette, Impulse version.

If I haven't, well. Young Justice is pretty much my favorite superhero team. Probably because I was a teenager when they were wandering around be heroic teenagers, so clearly I was in the target demographic (except for being a female and gay, but that's neither here nor there... sorta).

So I'm pretty excited that Bart's alive, Kon's alive, and Tim's doing his own thing. Cassie's being kind of kick ass on a terrible version of the Teen Titans, and Cissie is - well, nothing, except for an oddly out of character appearance where she randomly offers to put the mask back on "anytime" to help out Cassie. Yeah, I don't know.

Naturally, then, I bought this week's Adventure Comics #1. Hey, Superboy was my favorite during Reign of the Supermen, so I feel like I've been with him the whole time, right? THe Legion back up sort of confused me a little, but that may have been the massively huge roster it seems to have. And the crazy dude. I dunno. Starman? To me Starman is Kevin Flynn, but whatever. He was wandering around that whole movie with Marion Ravenwood, so I'm certainly not someone to look to for any sort of legitimacy.

Um, anyway.

I mostly want to talk about Red Robin #3, which I also picked up.

Oh, first: I love the art in Adventure Comics. Love it. It's a style I really really enjoy. And I like the slightly-more-complex Kon that appears to be gracing the pages, plot-wise. Also, Krypto is both annoying and adorable. Perfect!

So RR 3. Blah blah Grail, blah blah Ra's. What really got me was how this title is turning into the "let's alienate Tim from everyone ever" story. It just makes no sense. I can get Dick not beleiving him, and I can get the frustration over Damian being chosen as Robin. But I can not get what happened this week with Wonder Girl.

So Cassie stops by to tell Tim that he's not alone. For about thirty seconds, until he tells her Batman is alive.

And then she doesn't believe him.


Look, I understand that continuity is sort of fluid and whatever, but it is my understanding that this story is taking place after Flash: Rebirth (because it's concurrent with Blackest Night, and BN is definitely after the will-apparently-never-be-finished Rebirth).

So haven't Tim and Cassie both seen Bart?

"We've been through this before... with your friends." Yes, and then THE FRIENDS CAME BACK TO LIFE.

Sort of like everyone else and their mother, but we can ignore them (Hal, Barry, um... SUPERMAN), because BART AND KON ARE ALIVE.

Even if they've only seen Bart (and you'd think that'd be enough), Bart and Kon came back at the same time, so you'd think Bart would mention that Kon's alive. And, y'know, even if RR takes place before Superboy, fine. Except they know Bart is alive. So her whole entire disbelief of him is absurd. Besides the fact that I don't think Cassie would do that anyway.

This makes me dislike the plot of the entire title. Before it was dark and broody and even though I knew where it was going (to Ra's), I didn't mind because I wanted to take that trip. Now it's sort of stupid. So he has no friends (I'm sure somehow Kon will disbelieve him next month, even though Kon came back from the dead himself) so he gets angrier?

I don't know. I'll stick with it through the appearance of Superboy and see how that goes, but man, what a disappointment issue 3 was.

Also I'm impatient for my Kid Flash (sigh) ongoing. But you probably knew that already.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A confession.

Another small pull list today (Wednesday Comics and Exiles #5, a title I continue to enjoy and will sadly miss after next month), and NEC finally had the first volume of Y: The Last Man in (no back issues of Secret Six, so I'm waiting for September's TP), so I picked up the first two (this is my logic). Yes yes, I've never read Y, I know. I know!

That was the confession, for those not paying attention.

But I'm reading it now. I'm about halfway through Volume 1, Unmanned, so... three issues, I think.

Yeah, I love it. The storytelling is snappy, the content is mature, a woman co-wrote it (and draws some mighty nice art), and the story itself is interesting.

When I was in college I took a class called... actually, I don't remember. But it was about Utopian and Dystopian fiction, and it was taught by a professor that had formerly been part of the Women's Studies department, but had left in a flurry of political intrigue and gone to the Comparative Literature department. Not that I knew that at the time. I was just into post-apocalyptic science fiction, and needed a Gen Ed, so I took it. We read some interesting stuff, some boring stuff, and some good stuff.

And we read this book called Egalia's Daughters. The premise was that this world existed where females were dominant and males were oppressed. But, like, just completely opposite. Like that one episode of Ellen where the majority was gay and the minority was straight. Complete opposite things don't really work for me, because, well. Reality. I think the intent was to say that women would be just as bad in power as men are, which makes sense in the context of that professor (like I said, she'd left the Women's Studies department, and I'd found out it was because she'd become a vocal "anti-feminist") but which fell really flat in the context of the story. I don't know, maybe it was the translation, or maybe it was the fact that the most memorable scene in the book was one where the male protagonist was gang raped by some women... who rubbed themselves against his thigh.

Not that that's not a violation, but I don't even recall there being any penetration. And this led to a quasi-interesting discussion about the nature of rape, which I had in a way more interesting context in my 1L criminal law class a few years later, but it just really took away from the book. The scene was almost comical. Also there were a lot of really ignorant things said during that discussion that got us off on tangents.*

Speaking of tangents, my point was that Y reminds me of that book, but in a good way. Like, this was what we should have read in class. It doesn't show women as the exact same as men, but it shows them acting similarly in difficult situations (okay okay, I'm only three issues in, so we'll see), thereby showing actual equality. It's not ridiculous, it's very realistic and that makes it much easier to connect to and much creepier. I love me some well-done post-apocalyptic fiction.

I'll probably write the occasional reactionary post as I read through the ten volumes. Last year Pia Guerra was supposed to go the Gallifrey One convention, but lost her passport (or something). I hope she goes this year. By February I'll have finished the books and would really be interested in talking to her.

Anyway. I'm finally reading Y. There we go, confessed and absolved.

*To be fair, I tried re-reading the book about a year ago. It was even worse than I'd remembered, and I failed to see the point to it at all. The males weren't "men that are oppressed," they were written like caricatures women in our culture, but with penises. And the same for the women: caricatures of men, but with vaginas. Satire!fail.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lesbians Have Sex Appeal, Too. Damn. (Also some Batwoman.)

Well. I guess from the amount of times we see girl-on-girl action in movie trailers and television sweeps week, that's probably a given. But we're talking comics here, yo. And specifically the latest issue of The Question (which I will pretend is an issue all its own, because it was way more interesting than the main feature this week).

Actually, let's break parenthetical again. Nothing against the Batwoman feature this week, but it seemed like just a bridge story moving things along. Here, learn a little more about Alice (she's insane, carries a lot of weapons, and isn't your typical Religion of Crime* ringleader), watch Kate's wig come in handy, and then watch her trip on weird gas and get a small clue into her past. Then cliffhanger. Okay. I'm not going to say I was bored with it, because the art is so damn stunning, but I don't feel like much happened in the issue and I'm waiting for the payoff of whatever the hell is going on. Though, to be fair, I did appreciate Kate's little "oh come on, another lunatic that thinks they're from Alice in Wonderland?" moment.

I don't see why that's so weird. Considering the fact that we've got Batman, Robin, Red Robin, Batwoman, Batgirl, the Spoiler, and the Huntress that are all wandering around related to the Bat-Family. Not to mention Manhunter (um, I love Manhunter and will be devoting a future post to her) and whomever else is wandering around Gotham being a vigilante. Do other cities have this many Masks (Keystone, I guess)? So you get a little bit of a repeat with villains. Whatever. Harley's just another card out of the Joker's deck (Har har! See what I did there?).

Anyway, so the co-feature was more interesting than the main feature this week. Again, not in a bad way. Just in a "this is clearly an interim issue" sort of way, and Renee's interim issue was slightly more interesting.

Now, what I mean by sex appeal is this little bit right here:

Aaaaaaaaaaaah! Come on. First off, you're really ruining the idea I had in my head of Renee. (Remember when I had that disccusion with a reader in the comments of that one entry? And I said that Renee strikes me as a butch despite her feminine appearance? Yeah.**) Okay, sure, that was just the idea in my head, fine. But she just doesn't, and hasn't, strike me as the type to do this. She had to practically be goaded into sex in the "Lust" part of Crime Bible, because she was being all "no no, sex is not used this way and I don't approve." Okay, and also issues with Kate and prsotitution, but whatever. Second off ARGH WTF, why? "Here, let me press my breasts up in your face, while appearing vaguely gayish, thus flustering you and making you give me what I want. I have now used both my femininty and my lesbianism as weapons! Because I am incapable of otherwise getting what I want and/or it's just easier this way! Yay!"

By the way, I think the receptionist looked more bemused (like, "did she just try what I think she tried?") than interested. So it was Renee sexing herself up for an arguably straight woman. That's a big assumption on my part, but it's a cherry of meh piled onto my sundae of wtf.

And it's not like this is followed by her kicking some ass. No. The ass kicking came first. In fact, the order of this issue was: Ass kicking/name taking, sex/sexuality objectifying, TASERING.

Head, meet desk.

Look, I've said before (and will say again) that I have faith in the creative team behind Detective Comics right now. If Greg Rucka ever comes to a con near me I will run there squeeing like a fangirl to get him to sign my Crime Bible hardcover (I sadly gave my issues away to an ex-friend) and both versions of Detective Comics #854 that I have (yes, I broke down and bought the second printing, but my pull list was small this week and it's very awesome!).

But that said (again), I'm wary of the way that women and queer women*** are portrayed in "mainstream" media. (Are comics mainstream again?) And I feel like that's a valid wariness, based on a bajillion years (that's an estimate) of negative portrayals.

I feel like I've written this before. Have I written this before?

So I'm hyperaware of the little things. I'm a nitcpicker of women and and queer identity. Context becomes important. The way female characters (and queer characters) are portrayed immediately sets me to Terror Alert Elmo.

Okay, the last few paragraphs have been me rationalizing my negative reaction to that panel. Or explaining. I like to think of it as explaining, since I know that my viewpoint certainly isn't shared by everybody.

Despite that Panel of Doom, I still liked the co-feature more. We got some ass-kicking, some Renee-snarking, and some detectiving. I like the way Renee looks with the mask on more than with the mask off. I can't remember thinking that before, but maybe there's just something about her face (which certainly looks different now than it did before) that doesn't work for me. But, and I think this is what we're seeing here, and some of what Greg Rucka has said in interviews makes me thinks this wil be the case as the series continues, Renee is different without a face. That makes sense. They're all different without their masks, to varying degrees. Usually I don't notice as much, because my favorite characters are that ones that really aren't all that different. But Renee is. And I just don't see Faceless Renee pressing her chest up into the face of a receptionist to get into the back office.

And, finally, I wonder what would have happened if the receptionist had been male. Wait, do male receptionists exist? I mean, besides in situations where it's funny just because they're guys doing "women's work". Yeah. Anyway, I don't find it very subversive to have a lesbian smooshing her mammaries together for another woman, just because it's a same-sex attraction thing. To me it's the same thing as a straight woman doing it to a bouncer in a club. Or even a lesbian doing it to a male bouncer in a club. They're objectifying themselves to serve an end that could probably be served just fine another way. And for all the joking comments I read about Superman's package and Dick Grayson's ass, I don't see them sexing themselves up just to do their jobs.

By the way, none of this is even touching on Renee's racial identity and the hypersexualization of Hispanic women. I'm not going there (today).

Renee is a smart woman and a talented detective. But when push comes to shove, she pushes her chest together and shoves it in this woman's face.

I don't get why.

I mean, I do get why.

But I don't like why.

*Still the stupidest name ever.
**Since I now feel this is necessary: all identity labels I apply to characters are opinion only based on a whole slew of personal experience, quasi-boring academic reading, and kneejerk reactions. I welcome discussion on the topic, but I'm not saying I'm any expert on anything ever, especially not something as fluid as personal sexual identity.
*** I use queer women for lack of better term to encompass lesbians, bisexual women, and trans women at whatever phase of transitioning they are at. I'm also concerned with the portrayal of queer men, but less so because it's just a personal thing. And that doesn't even get into the whole can of worms that is the spectrum of gender identity. So please take the term "queer women" to mean whatever you want it to mean that is vaguely feminine and vaguely interested in same sex relationships.