Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Web and Hangman reviews. Also some more rambling.

Yeah, I bought this just because Angela Robinson wrote it (see my entry from earlier today). Good thing, too, because the art wasn't supertastic. Or even something I liked. I didn't hate it, but it was sort of meh. Also this character looks like a cross between Marvel's Banshee and Spider-Man. Seriously, his costume, not so much guys.

This is obviously a reboot (who decided to reboot this particular character?) and is fine as a first issue. I've never read anything Angela Robinson has written, only seen it translated to moving pictures, and heard the dialogue spoken on my TV screen, but I was okay with this. We'll see where it goes. I'm not interested enough in the character to be immediately engaged, but I'll stick with it because I like the writer and the mystery that's being set up.

I also dig the dual meaning of the web. Is that why they decided to bring this guy back? Considering that over in Batman and Robin, the new (?) Red Hood is using the internet to broadcast his crimes, I have to wonder if anyone's going to care about this guy doing it.

I care, though. It's interesting. I want this guy to use the internet as one of his gadgets. Like a Batman that uses Twitter.

Do we even call the internet the web anymore? There are people alive who probably don't know what the www stands for, right? It's just been there their whole lives, starting most of the internet addresses they surf to.

Do we surf anymore?

Anyway. Browsing, surfing, web, internet (I started out using a dump terminal at my dad's, messing around in GOPHER and checking my email on PINE, and roleplaying on a BBS called AfterFive, even though I was way too young to be doing that, and an old 9.6kbps modem to dial onto AOL 2.4 at my mom's, and I'm not even an early adopter), whatever. I think I'm talking about comics.

I'll stick with The Web (har har, stick!) for now and see where he goes. It's definitely better than some of the stuff out there. But, as with Streets of Gotham, I enjoy the backup feature more. The Hangman's sort of interesting! And brutal. And I enjoy the art waaaaaay more than I enjoy the art on the main feature. Too bad Angela Robinson's not writing that one.

The DCU blog refers to it as "urban noir," which would make it perfect for her (seriously, go check out GirlTrash!) and it's definitely got a heavier feel to it than most superhero comics. Well, except Batman I guess. But even Batman... I know Batman's not going to kill anyone (hell, Colonel Kane even called it the "Batman rule" when telling Kate not to kill Alice this week - and don't get me started on Detective Comics, because that's getting a post of its own). Maybe Red Robin will, but not while he's Tim. I just don't see them crossing that line.

Yeah, that line. It's bad to kill people, right? We don't do it, especially not if we're heroes.

Eh. Sometimes you've just got to put a bullet into the Joker's brain, because there's really just no such thing as rehabilitation for him. We're not talking about the real world, where things aren't black and white, we're talking about THE MOTHER EFFING JOKER. Shoot that dude. Seriously. It doesn't make Batman more interesting that he won't kill the Joker, it makes him A VERY BAD CRIME FIGHTER.


Nobody really has bad guys like Batman has bad guys (I just started playing through Batman: Arkham Asylum, and am sadly underwhelmed thus far), and some of those bad guys should probably NOT BE ALIVE ANYMORE. I'll give the guy a pass for most of them, I guess. But the Joker? Come the hell on, dude.

Also, even cops kills people sometimes. It doesn't necessarily make them bad cops (not that there aren't bad cops), it just means that sometimes, unfortunately, they have to kill people to do their job. And those are people people not THE JOKER.

This is why I don't like Batman. This is why it's hard for me to get behind Batman titles, and why it takes a little something extra for me to enjoy it. The guy probably wouldn't even kill a zombie Joker. I mean. Really. Lady up, dude. (See what I did there?)

Uh, I think I was talking about something else.

The funny thing about this is that I'm really against the death penalty and lethal force used by police officers and all that jazz, but if the Joker existed in real life and was really the Joker? I don't know, man. If it were my job to protect the world from him I think I would... protect the world from him. Would that make me a criminal, too?

Supergirl killed someone. The Flash did. Lots of superheroes do. The deal is that they don't want to, and sometimes it's an accident and sometimes it's out of anger and it's always to protect people and they always regret it. So, no, they're not villains.

And Batman's still a tool.

But the Hangman is sort of cool. So far.

Lesbians write comics? Black lesbians? WHAT?

So I was reading my handy-dandy email newsletter from NEC about the new releases this week. Now, NEC is my "neighborhood" shop and I appreciate them for their ability to Not Suck, despite mostly employing white dudes. Every week they send out the new releases to people on the email list, including their top picks.

This week, along with a bunch of Marvel stuff I wasn't interested in (Emma Frost finally comes clean? For what?) one Marvel thing I'm curious about (Spider-Woman), and a very thin list of my usual DC titles, was a top pick that I was totally surprised by (since I clearly do not keep up on solicits, thankyouverymuch).

Who the Hell is the Web? I have no idea. Who is the Hangman? Also no idea. But I know who Angela Robinson is. Oh yes.

Angela Robinson gave us Jordana Brewster doing a hilarious music montage to an Erasure song. That's right. An Erasure song. Jordana Brewster. Is there a better montage in the last decade of movies? No. There is not, my friends. D.E.B.S. is a satirical spy movie about a group of young college-age women that are superspies, and the one Perfect Score who falls in love with the bad guy (Lucy Diamond. Yeah. Like in the sky.) It's lowish budget but adorable and witty, and has a great cast. The original short it was based on also has a great cast, and I think it still may be up on PopcornQ somewhere.

Or Youtube. Okay then.

(I guess that's only the first two minutes. You used to be able to see the whole thing streaming on the internet, but apparently since they stuck it on a DVD with 9 other shorts you may not een want to see, that's no longer possible. Right. Ohoh, here you go, a slightly censored version.)

Angela Robinson isn't just responsible for superspies and the evil lesbian supervillains that love them. She also did Herbie: Fully Loaded (yeah, with Lindsey Lohan) and this great, unfinished webseries called GirlTrash, which was a female-driven modern noir.

She's also directed some of the best episodes of The L Word, including that one with that awesome phone tree. You know the one. If you've ever watched The L Word, which you're required to if you're a lesbian or bisexual woman, or you get kicked out of the club.

Speaking of the club, I know who Angela Robinson is because D.E.B.S. has become a part of the Lesbian Required Viewing List. What list? Oh tsk tsk. You know, the one with Desert Hearts, Personal Best, Go Fish, and more recently Imagine Me & You, Lost and Delirious, The Cave (just kidding!), Saving Face, those episodes of Once and Again where Evan Rachel Wood's character realizes she has feelings for Mischa Barton's character, the first three seasons of Bad Girls, anything adapted from a Sarah Waters novel, and the entire run of Xena: Warrior Princess. Among other things.

Where was I?


Angela Robinson is writing a comic for DC Comics. Cool. I'm still not sure how cool this Web dude's going to be (and The Hangman looks a lot like Hooded Justice...) but I'll put it on my pull list, and I'll probably do a write up on that this week.

Don't want to get kicked out of the club, after all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Batgirl Returns!

You know who would be an awesome movieverse Batgirl? Steph Brown. She's funny, she's tormented (but not in a death-of-parents way, more like a I-screw-up-because-I'm-human way), and she's adooooorable. Seriously someone sign someone up right now and get this script written. I'm looking at you, Warner Brothers.

Of course, the Batgirl everyone knows is Barbara Gordon, so that's just not happening. Though they did try with Barbara Whatever that was somehow related to Alfred in The Movie With the Nipples.

I've already talked about how I'm pleased with the new Batgirl choice. In this month's issue, Dan Didio explained why it was Steph as opposed to, say, Babs or Cass (I'm glad something big is coming for Cass in 2010, and I'd really like to see her sack Damian around a little). Changing the Oracle would suck. Not just because the Oracle is awesome, but because I like Babs better in a wheelchair. It's bad (or good, I guess?) enough that people keep on coming back from the dead (btw, read Flash: Rebirth #4 finally), but giving Babs the ability to walk again would erase twenty years of interesting, painful, well-earned character development.

What can I say? I am a fan of the characters and their developing. And there was some nice development in this. And I love love love love love. Love. Steph Brown's voice. I thought issue 2 was stronger than issue 1, which is usually how it goes. We see some more of Babs' motivation, some more of Steph's motivation, and get a preview of how they're going to be working together. I couldn't help but think of the BoP, of course, but I have a feeling that that was at least partially intentional.

I think an excellent part of Batgirl is that they're setting it up very much as a mentor-mentee thing with Babs and Steph, and it's released the same week as Batman and Robin. This week's B&R had a great rooftop fight with Dick and Damian that ended with a small smirk from Dick that reminded me of my favorite Bruce (Frank Miller's), and was a very telling look into why Dick chose Damian for the job (sidenote: I think I missed the last issue of the last arc, which I'll have to find at some point, but I really love the way Phillip Tan's art works for this dark and brutal and creepy storyline). And in contrast to Steph's adventures (and foibles) this week and her interactions with Babs, it was really good.

Batgirl is both separate from and yet integral to the core of the Batfamily. You don't wear the Bat without being something important in Gotham, but at the same time she doesn't have Batman as a mentor the way that Robin does. And she's not entirely independent, like Red Robin. Also she's a female (hello!) in a very male-oriented family. Sort of like Mia in the Arrow family (I know Judd Winnick gets some flak for stuff, but I've never read anything of his I disliked, and I love the idea of making a young, teenage, white girl a victim of HIV. Also I was a huge Real World fan for the first few seasons. Ahem.) The idea of Batgirl teaming up with Oracle really appeals to me. And I think I'm going ot enjoy it as it develops, especially considering the revealed-this-week villain (I always appreciate when female heroes aren't patronized with female villains that didn't exist until we decided they needed to fight someone but it can't be a dude so it's just like a male villain, but is female. Yeah, Alice, you know who you are, Ms. Scarecrow+Mad Hatter.)


I like Batgirl. Some random guy on the T yesterday tapped me to get my attention, and asked me about the current state of Gotham city. "I heard Dick Grayson is the new Batman. Is that true?"


"Huh. How'd that happen?"

I gave him a brief rundown of the death of Batman, the Battle for the Cowl, and then explained that I don't know the details because I really had no interest in Gotham City until Bruce Wayne had died.

"That makes sense," he said.

Thanks for the positive reinforcement, random guy on the T. Right back atcha.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Write What You Know?

Okay, first things first: sorry for my lack of entries lately. I promise I'm not dead (see, I made it through two sentences without once asking for your brains). Regular followers of this blog probably know that I recently moved. It was a bit of a process and involved moving from one place to another to another, and I don't do very well when trying to adapt to new routines. I'm mostly adapted now, though. I've also had some medical issues, blah blah, and have spent most of my free time playing mindless video games or Beatles Rockband (buy it if you like The Beatles).

One of the side effects of moving (and last week's holiday) was being all turned around on my comics. I've only recently started catching up. I have yet to read the last issue of Exiles or the latest issue of Flash: Rebirth (they're waiting for me at my local comic shop), but I've read Adventure Comics (loved it!) and Red Robin (ooookay) and the Blackest Night: Batman title (meh).

Also, I bought the Secret Six trade and, on the recommendation of one of the Fantastic Fangirls, the two volumes of Whiteout.

I read the first one last night.

And I loved it.

As usual, the art first because I don't know as much about art other than my personal reactions. I normally don't like the black and white thing, unless there's some sort of hook (like black being the background and an occasionaly bit of color, like Sin City), because I just... like pretty colors? Actually, I don't know. I just know I tend to not like the style.

But considering the setting (Antarctica! Cool! Literally!) the very-white with some black worked. It made me feel like the Ice really did get to Carrie and become part of her. And by the end I really was into it. So way to go Steve Lieber, for having art that doesn't make me wish you also had a colorist. (I also like the way Carrie looks, short and with a button nose and freckles and an attitude, like a cross between a petulant kid and someone that can break your neck with one hand tied behind her back - and the other missing two fingers. I think Kate Beckinsale does not look like Carrie, but hey. That's okay. I get why she was cast, and I dig her as an action heroine in general.)

The story got me hooked, in a way I didn't expect. The trailers for the movie make it seem very supernatural, so I was expecting some kind of alien Yeti or something, but no. Just normal humans in an abnormal environment. Just your regular old murder mystery that happens to take place in Antarctica. As someone that likes my comics to border on the fantastic (I think V for Vendetta is the most "realistic" comic I've enjoyed up until this point, which says a lot), you'd think I would be disappointed. I don't like mystery books, I don't like mystery movies, and I do like superheroes and aliens and apocalypses and spirits and... yet I still liked this book.

So I started wondering to myself: why?

The women.


I mean, sort of a given for me right now, right? Strong and interesting women make me interested, even if it's in the type of story I normally wouldn't go for (erm, yes, I've seen every episode of Golden Girls and Sex in the City, why?).

I've been wondering recently why we're not allowed to have female action heroes anymore. I have a half-done entry about it. I mean, they're around, right? There was that one movie with Rhona Mitra. And that other one with Rhona Mitra that was a sequel to the one with Kate Beckinsale. And Lena Headey is sort of awesome in general. We've got a few on TV, but I think they're sort of watered down by other things now. Buffy wasn't so much a high priced hooker (Dollhouse, which I enjoy but which can be iffy with that sort of thing). And... actually, who else? Yeah, can't think of any other female action people on TV, but maybe that's because I'm multitasking.

Anyway, long story short (too late!) I was thinking about Greg Rucka, and the fact that I like all the women he writes. And I was trying to think about other male authors (in various forms of media) that I can say the same of. Joss Whedon, maybe. Sort of (I can go into the issues with the women and the negatives weighed against the positives, but that's a post for another time). Ron Moore, also a sort of.

When I was in AP Bio, my teacher told us to take an exam question and twist it around so we could write what we know (eight years later I'd wonder if he had ever been a first year law student, since we were given pretty much the same advice for our first advocacy memo). So on one of my AP exam questions I managed to turn it into a map of the digestive system from mouth to anus, with all the enzymes included (I was taking anatomy at the same time). I think I must have read the same thing about fifty million times in various "So You Want to Be a Writer?" books.

Write what you know.

I don't know anything about Greg Rucka personally, other than what he shares on his Twitter account (he's a Doctor Who fan! cool!), but I'm pretty sure he's not a woman or a lesbian.

So how come his women all rock so much?

Yeah, I don't know. Though I can maybe come up with a few male writers in movies and TV that write women with the same combination of humanity and kick-your-assery that Rucka does, I can't think of anyone who does that in comics besides Gail Simone (and I will then add the caveat that I do not consider myself to be a well-read person in the modern comic field, so please correct me if I'm wrong).

You don't really need to limit yourself to what you know, I guess. Or maybe it's more that you have to find what you know in lives you haven't experience.d I mean. It's not like Jerry Siegel could fly or Stan Lee turns into a giant green dude when he gets angry (or DOES he). But the little Jewish guy knows what it's like to be an outsider. And Stan Lee is a master of finding the archetypes in all of us and putting them into comics.

Archetypes come from some place, right? They come from the old stories which were told for a reason. Because we all want to Be Somebody, and we all need to be Saved, and we all have Daddy or Mommy issues, and we're all Totally Normal Until We're Special, and we all want to Fight the Good Fight (or Be Very Very Bad).

And then we don't get new archetypes, we get new applications of the archetype. We get Kate Kane stepping in with her mommy issues, being Someone Special in Gotham, and yeah she's a woman and yeah she's a lesbian and yeah her breasts don't defy gravity and yeah that is sort of groundbreaking for a mainstream comic title. And she's not just groundbreaking, she's cool.

Though not as cool as Renee Montoya, but we all know how I feel about that.

So my point is that when I read that the female co-lead had been cut from the Whiteout movie adaptation, I was not surprised. Having one woman that can be a woman and kick ass (and did they keep the references to her being called a dyke in the movie? because.. yeah) is a big enough deal in mainstream movies, which are of course more mainstream than the most mainstream of comics that you're definitely not going to get two on there. No matter how much that might change the story.

Actually, wait. That wasn't my point. My point was that Greg Rucka writes better women that I do, and I'm a woman. He probably writes better lesbians than I do, but I've honestly never tried. Most of the time I write, I write men, and I certainly don't write for a living. So props to Greg Rucka for continuing to create and write the most interesting women out there in comics.

And tonight I'm going to read Volume 2 of Whiteout, and we'll see how that goes, because I'm sort of worried Sharpe won't be there anymore.