Thursday, November 26, 2009

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

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

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

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

I know, I know, Bad Gay.

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

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

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

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

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

Quasi-random, don't mind me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go read this book.

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

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled comic post...

To gush about my new dog!

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

This is Ollie:

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

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

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

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

Wasn't I talking about my dog?

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The good "old" days.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Couple of Origins

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

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

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

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

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

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

X-Men Origins: Iceman (one shot).

Black Widow: Unholy Origins #1.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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