Saturday, December 18, 2010

Greetings, programs. TRON: Legacy Review.

I have been waiting for TRON: Legacy since I was old enough to know that movies had sequels. I've been nervously eying news about it since it was called TRON 2.0 or, worse, TR2N. I've had a google alert running for well over a year, slowly bringing me more and more news about the casting, development, filming, soundtrack, etc. etc. as each day passes.

To say I went in with expectations would be an understatement.

Still, as a fan of comics, I've gotten very very good at separating one iteration of something from another (a useful skill for things like I, Robot, I am Legend, and various other movies with Will Smith that start with both I and other letters).

So let's begin with my Twitter reviews posted last night:
Okay. Initial verdict: it was a pretty movie, not satisfying as a TRON sequel but totally satisfying on its own.
I'm not just saying this because I follow her on twitter: @'s character was definitely the most interesting (big picture-wise).
And a bit of a test on your SAT skills:

JJ Abrams Trek : Star Trek :: TRON Legacy : TRON

Yes, my iPhone has learned to correct Tron and tron as TRON.

I know that they keep saying TL is not a re-imagining, but a sequel. Honestly, as a fan of the original, it's much easier to think of it as a re-imagining akin to Star Trek XI. The things happening in this movie exist in a parallel world to those of the original, and yay everyone's happy.

'Cause, really, as a movie it's a lot of fun. It's beautiful to watch (I saw it non-IMAX 3D), the plot has holes but is saved by certain characters and actors, and the ending until the last sixty seconds is both satisfying and open-ended enough for a potential sequel. It remains open-ended during those last sixty seconds, but... well. I can't even tell you what it is a direct rip from, or it'll be some heavy spoilers (actually, I guessed it anyway about two days ago, but I'm trying to refrain from spoilers here).

So Sam Flynn is the cranky son of genius Kevin Flynn, whose ability to program video games and get digitized by an evil computer program have also imbued him with the ability to be a really good executive at Encom. Flynn the Elder disappears and Flynn the Younger grows up with various father figures and a big, archetypal chip on his shoulder that includes parkour skills, outrunning the police while his dad's old Ducati, having tons of money but drinking Coors Light, living in a swank bachelor pad, and pulling genius pranks on the company he now owns.

And then it gets interesting, because he gets digitized too.

There are a lot of questions that pop up for a fan of the original. Flynn yuppied out? Who's Sam's mom? Why won't Alan get contact lenses? WTF is Cillian Murphy doing at Encom? [Sshh, he's playing a completely inexplicable character that apparently exists as a shout-out to the original, which isn't really needed in the sea of other shout outs... but I hope they use him in the sequel.]

Who decided programs should have hair?

Luckily most of these questions can be answered by remembering that we're in an alternate universe where Nero has come through and changed history and not in the universe of the first TRON.

Flynn the Elder has basically become a cross between Gandalf the White and The Dude, which is absolutely fine because Jeff Bridges can pull that off in a heartbeat. He's not as adept at pulling off the bad guy, until the bad guy's real motivations are revealed. His origins are revealed in cut-scene flashbacks, some with animation lifted directly from Tron: Evolution, the video game that is supposed to bridge the gap between films (but is mostly just a digital version of Assassin's Creed 1).

The motion capture animation that made Jeff Bridges a younger Flynn the Elder was pretty neat. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough that I bought Clu as a character. It helped that he was supposed to be a computer generated character, quite literally. And, overall, I have to say that this was a gorgeous film to watch. The world was exactly as beautiful as all of the released footage made me think it would be, but on a larger scale. I have absolutely no complaints whatsoever about the visuals of this movie, aside from the film's insistence on relying on physics that it doesn't need: evident in the first disc game, when gravity shifts and the camera inexplicably doesn't, something that looks particularly sloppy in the world after Inception.

The enemy's gate is down, guys.

The plot had its share of archetypes, tropes and holes. I won't go into too many here, because I really don't want to spoil the parts of the plot that were interesting and good, but Sam Flynn was pretty much the worst protagonist since - actually, I can't think of a protagonist I have disliked as much in the past. This isn't a comment on Garrett Hedlund; he was just fine in the role he was given. It's that Sam as written was unlikeable, stereotypical, and grating.

Until I stopped thinking of him as the protagonist.

Joseph Kosinski said in one of the many many interviews I read that TL was the story of two sons, and the TRON world let him tell that story in a new way. It wasn't and it was, but if you think of it as offspring and they are Clu and Quorra, and Sam is just the plot device that is being used to move you to the real characters - Clu, Quorra, and Flynn the Elder - then Sam is fine. He serves his purpose and does it just fine, with a bit of yelping and inexplicable martial arts skills.

And that's where Tron: Legacy gets good. The story isn't about Sam at all, so the fact that he's unlikable is something that can easily be ignored. As easily as James Frain's (love that guy) weird sycophant.

Olivia Wilde inhabits Quorra well, which is nice to write. I'm a fan of hers and Quorra is something different than her usual world-weary characters. She's naive, full of life and hope, and even though her shoulder-cut outfit makes even less sense when you watch the movie, she holds her own against the majority male cast.

The only other female character of note turns out to be exactly what you think she's going to be, and it's not a positive portrayal. But it was nice to see Beau Garrett have a larger role than I expected, and every movie needs its femme fatale. Well, no it doesn't, but screenwriters seem to think so.

All in all, the actors are fine. But what do you expect from the likes of Michael Sheen and Jeff Bridges? There's a reason they're big name actors that win awards: they're good at what they do. Garrett Hedlund does exactly what he needs to, and Michael Sheen is a lot of fun.

The main issue I had was that we're supposed to believe that Flynn created all of these programs. No one but a user can create programs, they can only repurpose or derezz them. So where does the free will come from? This was a question in the first movie, but because of the plot of this one it becomes even more of an issue.

But the plot isn't really the point of TRON: Legacy. The point is that it's a pretty movie with pretty people and a perfect soundtrack (many kudos to Daft Punk, who won me over with their gorgeous, ambient soundtrack and score, despite my love for Wendy Carlos) and it tells a familiar story well enough to be satisfying on its own. It's exactly what I want from typical Hollywood big-budget movies and even though it has the TRON name on it, it's better on its own as its own movie.

Go see it. If you're reading this blog, you're the the type that will enjoy it. Or hate it and comment here and tell me why. Either way...

End of line.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Queer in Albion: Fable 3 Playthrough One [and a half] Review

Author's Admission of Idiocy: Uh, I figured out how to adopt without giving the orphanage money as the monarch. So that basically makes 2/3 of the following entry pointless. Leaving it up anyway, because I always enjoy revisiting my ignorant indignation. [11/10/10]

As I get a bit less immersed in comics (mostly because I let myself go crazy and started collecting too many titles and am now nearly-broke), I'm going to start writing about other things that take my time up. So here's the first one about video games. Enjoy, and I'd love to hear what you think.

Warning: This review/commentary/rambling will most definitely contain spoilers to the main storyline (and probably several of the sidequests) of the recently-released Fable 3. So don't read it if you don't want to be spoiled. The end!

Alright, I got Fable 3 the day it released. I'm a huge fan of the Fable series and see them as sort of a spiritual descendant of the Zelda games. They're ridiculously easy to play, but very immersive and with a good fantasy-era storyline. Instead of adding stupid 3D control styles (I haven't really enjoyed a Zelda game since "Ocarina of Time"), they introduce choice and customization and keep the fighting simple.

As with the Mass Effect games (which I intend to discuss later), most of the marketing showcases the male player-character. But as of Fable 2, there's also been a female choice. And along with that female choice comes all sorts of neat ways to customize your character. She can wear men's clothes (there's even an achievement for this), she can wear facial hair, she can marry another lady... but in Fable 2, a same-sex marriage (whether with males or females) meant no kids.

Fable 3 changed that with the introduction of adoption.

Except... not really.

Before I get into that, I would like to say that I'd give this game a 7/10 for a lot of reasons. The world is large and interesting, the continuation of the world of Albion into a steampunk type place on the brink of violent revolution is interesting, and the Road to Rule is a way better way of customizing than having to earn specific orbs for skills. But I found the main storyline abrupt in its ending (at least on the first play through) and the moral of the story was that the good leader is still the bad leader. I'm not sure how I feel about that at this point.

Still, for any fan of the Fable series, it's a great game and definitely worth more (with money-to-play ratio) than the other game I got the same day, which was Force Unleashed 2.

General Thoughts on the Game
And now, just to make this a quasi-legit review, here's my breakdown of improvements versus, um. Unimprovments (TM) between Fable 2 and Fable 3:

  • The Road to Rule. It's nice not to have to kill enemies in a certain way to be guaranteed an upgrade in that particular class, and I'm glad to have all the dyes and expressions in one area. Makes it easier to customize my character without hunting all over the place.
  • Weapon customization based on actions, instead of total body customization. No more disgusting evil characters. I've often said that evil would look fairly pretty.
  • The Sanctuary. Way better GUI for all your options than just the plain old start menu.
  • The gnomes. Way easier to find than those damn stupid gargoyles.
  • Job upgrades via the Road to Rule instead of through gold earned.
  • Multiplayer. Seems easier than before, though I'll admit that I haven't really gotten into it yet.
  • Using the map to manage properties, families, etc.
Things I miss:
  • The expression wheel. I've got all these expressions, let me choose different ones!
  • The ability to hold multiple types of food. If I want to get drunk I have to get rid of my carrots? Hell no!
  • Black dye. I hear it's in an upcoming DLC. Bring it on, yo.
  • The economy. I don't find shopping or trading to be as useful as I did before, particularly because you can only give gifts when they're specifically requested and because there are now only a few places where you can sell your items.
New things I could live without/things I'd like to see:
  • The Big Bad. I hope there's a Fable 4 to resolve all that. It seems sort of, like I said, abrupt. Maybe I'll catch more as I complete my second playthrough.
  • No integration of Fable 2 game saves. I know it's possible, since ME2 does it. My hero of the Spire was a woman, why is the previous hero a king and not a queen?
  • Relationship quests. Snore.
  • Why can't I set my spouse as a target? She's a pain to find in Bowerstone Industrial.

Having Kids in Albion: Where does the pollen go?

So. Kids. Let me tell you a bit about my first playthrough of the game. I chose the princess, who was forced to wear pink, bow-covered pajamas and flirt with some dude during the prologue. I usually make my first playthrough a good character, so the dude ended up dying and as soon as I was out in the world, I got my princess into some better clothes. Men's clothes.

I got married to the first lesbian character I could find, which was a pain in the ass (interestingly, now that I'm playing through as a male I'm having trouble finding straight women). I did it just to see what would happen. I was exploring the social aspects of the game as I ran through the main storyline (and some sidequests, which also forced opposite sex relations on me, such as seducing the bad husband in "A Marriage of Inconvenience").

So we got married in a nice ceremony on a bridge somewhere, and then I tried to figure out how to adopt kids. No luck. I made it to Bowerstone Industrial, where the orphanage apparently was, completed the quest to save the people who ran it, and... nothing.

Not until I became queen. By then I'd divorced my first wife and married someone hotter, because, hey. It's good to the the princess (that's a Mel Brooks reference, btw). I had to wait until half a year into my rule to decide to open the orphanage.


So a heterosexual couple can have babies whenever, but a same-sex couple has to wait until the game is almost over. This honestly isn't much of an improvement. Not to mention that you can't adopt babies, only toddlers.

But the worst part of this, besides the delay, is that you make money from having kids. There's some sort of kid benefit (which later on you can abolish or increase) that a heterosexual couple can start collecting basically right after you open up Brightwall. A same-sex couple doesn't have access to that until, well. It might already be gone. It's at least 10 hours more into the game, though.

This sort of detracts from the the whole "you can choose whatever you want" idea behind the series. It penalizes you, literally, for choosing to marry someone of the same-sex. I'm not disappointed, really, because Lionhead has been so good about this kind of thing since day one. It's hard to say something this minor (relatively) could ruin the whole game for me. And it didn't, I still enjoyed the game.

But now I'm playing through as the prince, and it's a whole different world. I've got kids in every port, and I'm raking in the cash.

I also find, incidentally, that I prefer to play as males. I could get into my theories on my gender identity as expressed through games, but I think it comes down to the fact that males just look cooler (in a totally subjective way) in most of the games I choose to play. The only exception, really, is Mass Effect. In that one, I only chose a male!Shep so I could sleep with Miranda in ME2.

I'm shallow like that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How Scott Pilgrim Got me back to the comic shop.

I've been gone awhile. No big secret there. In fact, I haven't read a weekly-issue comic book in ages. They're sitting on my shelves, waiting to be organized and read, and I just haven't had the motivation. I didn't even have the motivation to go to the store to pick up my subs.


Not sure. Money became tight for a bit, and shelling out $30 a week, or more, just wasn't as viable for me. Blackest Night ended and Lian Harper died and Ollie killed a dude and Steve Rogers was back and Barry Allen was back and Bruce Wayne was on his way back, while Batwoman ended up off the pages of Detective Comics, Bart Allen was stuck as Kid Flash, and there were five billion new Avenger teams to follow. So there wasn't a lot drawing me to the titles I'd followed.

Then I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I'd never read the books before, but the adorable story and styling of the movie interested me. It's hard for me, in my cynical old age (har har)to really get behind another dorky-dude-gets-the-awesome-girl heterosexual love story. But this dorky dude wasn't exactly dorky. Or he was, but it was the sort of dork I saw in myself. Because what dork doesn't want to be the best fighter in the province? Right?

So I thought to myself "I will go buy these books and see if they are as enjoyable as the movie". So far, yes (obviously, as source tends to be better than adaptation usually). And while I was in the comic shop, I picked up all the books that had been waiting for me for months.

And a Flash plushie (in my mind, that's Bart).

So I'm back. And I've decided I'm going to expand my discussion a little from comics and comic-related things to other Stuff I Like. Science fiction, video games, television, movies, and the occasional random pop culture bit of fluff. I've been heavy into video games lately, and I have a a few things I want to say - mostly about Mass Effect - about those. It'll keep me posting more regularly as I catch up with what brought be here in the first place, comic books.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

30 Days of DC Meme. Day 8: Favorite Film

I'm cross-posting this directly from Tumblr, because I have no idea how the comments work over there, and was hoping to foster some discussion.

Okay. Hear me out on this. I've written a little bit about this in various places, but let me try to filter everything into a bulletted list of why I like this movie. I completely understand some of the criticisms (and welcome discussion), but to me this is my absolutely favorite comic adaptation. That should be considered something separate than a comic movie, really, since the Superman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc. movies may be based off a bunch of things (focusing on origins usually) but aren't direct adaptations of a singular story. Still, they're all comic movies and they should all be considered.

  • First, please watch the gorgeous opening sequence. This is about 40 pages worth of comic (and prose) back story set to the perfect song and turned into a poignant, nostalgic, perfect look back at this past that is not-quite our past. They should have won an Oscar for Best Short Film for this. I could watch over and over.
  • Second, I know it wasn't completely faithful to the storyline. No giant squid (oh dear, I've spoiled you). But I felt that what they did do worked perfectly as a 21st century adaptation of the story. We're facing an energy crisis in a completely different way than they were when the story was written. Not giving us immediate access to the electric cars of the original story, having it be something tangible that comes out of Adrian's mass destruction (which was no longer limited only to NYC, thankfully), made the sacrifice of the people, and of Doctor Manhattan, much more poignant. We, as a nation, made it through 9/11. England made it through 7/7. Madrid... there are places where bombings and terrorism bring people together for a bit. And then we're divided again. I think Adrian's plan was a perfect way, in this new age of terrorism that is nothing at all like they were dealing with 25 years ago, to get his goal accomplished.
  • Casting. Damn fine casting. My only dislike was Adrian, and that was minor.
  • Get over the blue penis, people. Seriously.
  • They obviously put so much care into set design, costume, etc. that it really felt like the comic had come to life. Even if there were cuts from the story and things changed, I felt like I was watching one of my all time favorite comic books come alive in front of me.
  • This movie was made with love by a fan for fans. And as a fan, I appreciated that. And loved it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Help, I'm Alive.

Hi there.

In an effort to get myself back into the swing of things, I will be doing a "30 Days of DC" meme, in conjunction with my friend Anika (the Fantastic Fangirl), who's doing a "30 days of Marvel" version that she found on tumblr.

This was all her idea, and I love it.

I'll be posting the images to my tumblr, but I figured I could use this blog to write more detailed explanations, if there are some. I'll either consolidate or only post a few so as not to be annoying and have 30 days of posts.

Or maybe I'll be annoying and have 30 days worth of posts.

[BTW, 1979semifinalist, thank you for the nomination/award. I'm aware and am writing up a response, I just want to get a good list of blogs together and have been slammed at work. It's so so appreciated, though!]

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Women Don't Sell (Unless they're in bathing suits.)

At the recent Gallifrey One convention in LA, I went to this panel about transforming comics into other media. There was an interesting mix of creators there (6 men and 1 woman), and some guy who sat on the end and basically spent his introduction time telling us about upcoming comic movies we can go pay to see.

One of them was Ant-Man.

I was in the second row and had my hand up pretty much right away, to ask about the total lack of superhero women in comic movies, considering some of the awesome women flying around comics right now (Batwoman, Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman, just to name a few). I said something about how even Wonder Woman has name recognition that they can play off of. Javier Grillo-Marxuach says she wears a bathing suit. Someone said Black Widow, who as far as we know so far is the coquettish yet deadly/sexy sidekick to Tony in the next Iron Man. My frown was probably fairly evident, and eventually Paul Cornell interrupted his way into the "heh heh Lynda Carter bathing suit puberty" tangent to actually talk about my question.

A little later on in the panel, someone asked why, with the success of the recent Wonder Woman animated film, a live-action WW movie seems so far-fetched. Marv Wolfman answered that the return wouldn't be worth the investment.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach made another joke about Wonder Woman's bathing suit.

Marv Wolfman did a "no, but seriously, not enough interest to generate return," and nobody but me yelled out "Ant-Man?"


That's right, Hank Pym. Super scientist. That shrinks. Really really small.

Oh, and he beats his wife.

But it's okay, 'cause she's dead now and he took up her superhero name.

Well, at least he didn't kill her himself. There's... that.

How many non-comic fans have heard of Ant-Man? How many people think an Incredible Shrinking Superhero movie sounds fun? How about a Dude that Dresses Like a Bug movie? Sure, Spider-Man dresses like an arachnid, but he's also Spider-Man. He's also smarter and less of a tool.


The scientist who has a break down from stress and hits his wife. But it's okay. They make up. And then swap mildly-disturbing sex escapades.

Maybe Ryan Reynolds could play him. That's about the only way I could become less interested in a movie about Hank Pym.


Listen, I'm all for obscure, semi-obscure and quasi-obscure comic characters getting their due. But, I don't know, maybe we could, like. Have one of those be a woman? Most women in comics are obscure anyway, and all the best ones (Kate Spencer, Renee Montoya, Jessica Jones-Cage) would probably make even some comic fans stop, check out google, and then get back to you.

The deal is that studios want to sell tickets. So then, there shouldn't be any obscure characters having movies made about them. But if there are going to be, let's let some non-wife-beating-self-pitying characters shine, yeah? Maybe?

Hey, maybe Kathryn Bigelow can direct. She does action movies. And women go to see them. Shocking, yet true.

Monday, February 22, 2010

If anyone needs me, I'll be in random places.

Atlanta right now, and I'm heading to LA on Thursday for the Gallifrey One Convention (that's Doctor Who talk). There are a few comic-specific panels (including one on 70 years of Marvel Comics, with Marv Wolfman) which I plan to live tweet (if I can get a signal in the rooms). Either way, I'll do a write up of what's said.

In the meantime, I finally read last week's comics (Barry's mini-speech to Bart almost made me cry on the plane), and will be missing this week's because they're being pulled for me back home.

Also, there was that whole True Geek Confession thing last week, and I wanted to do it and forgot, so I think I'll get that written up at some point this week.

Just a quick update. Off I go. Am.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Someone bring that dead horse over...

I was actually busy working yesterday, so I missed the whole Captain America #602 kerfluffle. When I finally asked someone, and she told me what it was about, I laughed out loud.

Yeah, I LOLed, that's right.

I think it's no secret that I'm a too-liberal-for-Democrats liberal. Sarah Palin, in her autobiography, calls herself a "common sense Conservative." I consider myself a common sense Liberal, in that if you actually sit down and think about reality, you'd be a fairly liberal person. Or you're more self-interested than human-interested, which is a completely fine way to be. To each their own. Sarah Palin and I actually agree on a lot of things, except that the things she says and the things she does tend not to match up. I'm all about the government not putting their nose in my business, which I think means that I should be allowed to marry whomever I want that my local religious institution (if I have one) will accept. I don't think the government should use tax payer money to bail out large companies. Not because I'm anti-socialism, but because I think we need a total meltdown of our economic system in order to find one that's a little less archaic and better suited for a global economy with, literally, billions of consumers.

But these Tea Partiers. Woo boy. I kind of like them, in the sense that any vocal anti-government group always interests me and I really am a bit of a libertarian from time to time. I'd like them more if they would declare themselves a third party, but they want to latch onto the money and power of the GOP, and that's understandable. (Never mind that if you ask any Democrat in the US, they'd say they hate socialism, too.) They compare our current sitting president to Adolph Hitler, and they don't bat an eyelash. When people compared Bush to Hitler, I disagreed vehemently (despite actual similarities based in fact, not in a fear of socialism), and I will continue to disagree with that. You know who you can compare to Hitler? Hitler.

The kerfluffle I alluded to before was over the fact that Cap doesn't like the militia folk and Falcon doesn't want to mix with them thar angry white folk.

Let's take a look at a picture of an actual Tea Party protest:

Check out the token black guy front and center. Well, at least they all look happy. Except for the guy right next to the token black guy. [Feel free to check out some more from google and let me know what you find out re: the racial make up of Tea Party protests.]

When I read #602, and I actually read it, it reminded me more of a Tim McVeigh type militia than the Tea Party people. Why? Well, they were armed and run by a blonde guy who wanted to blow stuff up. So there's that. Yeah, the signs that Quesada apologized for (sigh), okay. I know it sucks when comics reflect current events instead of outdated things, but there you go.

Speaking of actually reading the issue, did you know that this Captain America isn't Steve Rogers? Most of the people getting up in arms about it don't. It's James Barnes, the kid who was Steve's advanced scout in WW2 (re: little dude that slit peoples' throats) who was brainwashed by the Soviets and became the greatest assassin in the world, before Steve saved him and he (James) took over the mantle of Cap after Steve's death.

Let's take a moment.

Here we have a guy who use to kill people for the American government, then the Soviet government, who now wears the American flag on his body (and, btw, stands up for those 2nd Amendment rights by using a gun where the previous Cap refused to). James has seen communism first hand. James has killed for communism as well as capitalism. James knows way more about socialism than someone who hasn't lived in that kind of society.

And James thinks the protesters in #602 are creepy mofos being led astray by a violent lunatic.

I'm gonna go with Cap on this one.

Oh, also, they're not the supervillains, the mentally unstable (due to an experiment by the American government) ex-Cap is.

And also, every American that is interested in pursuing their own freedoms and/or the freedoms of others and/or a better tomorrow blah blah is a patriotic American. Not just the conservatives.

And also, my liberal bias here is that I read the book, know the context of the characters and the story, and find the obvious non-researched response appalling.

But what's more appalling is that Marvel apologized.

Really? Seriously? You clothe your women in skin-tight, no-way-that-can-protect-you clothing, you let Bobbi Morse get raped and blamed by her husband and then forgive him, you have like two gay characters and only one of them ever actually gets even remotely close to as naked as the straight characters, and you apologize for reprinting actual signs?

Oh, and speaking of signs. There are some awesome ones. I think this might be my favorite (among the signs saying Obama loves baby killing, declaring this a Christian nation - wrong according to the Constitution they supposedly respect so much - and asking for members of Congress to be hanged):

Yup, totally the same. The taxes we pay that fund things like the military, road building, power plants, etc. (along with social programs like education and welfare) are exactly like being taken from your home, shoved into a train, sent to a camp, and then burnt alive.

I can see why Marvel would apologize, and why the gentleman that brought this to everyone's attention thinks that the Tea Party people are being victimized.

No, sorry, that was liberal sarcasm.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Best Books of the Week

Hands down my favorite pull this week was the Blackest Night: The Question tie-in. This was the book I'd been looking forward to when DC announced that they were going to use this month to resurrect (heh heh) dead titles, with original authors, and tie them into the storyline. I was pretty much guaranteed to like the writing, since I haven't met a Greg Rucka story I don't like (I hate to sound like a fangirl, but I am) but the chance to read a Denny O'Neill Question story! With Vic! Awesome.

And I wasn't disappointed. It was a good story, that managed to be one of the least annoying resurrection stories of the entire saga. Also, and here's some more fangirling, I like that Renee is strong-willed enough to become invisible to the Black Lanterns. That's pretty bad ass. (So is her fighting Lady Shiva.)

I also loved the art. I'm not sure when I became a fan of "non-traditional" art in comics. This isn't to say I don't like the more traditional styles. My second favorite book of the week, Red Robin, was very classic looking, action-style, bright-colored superhero fare and was equally as enjoyable. I guess for me, it's about matching the art with the tone. Sometimes hard lines and bright colors work for the Question (I enjoy Cully Hammer's work, even if it's not my favorite) and sometimes distressed, textured watercolory looks work.

And this week's Red Robin, speaking of, was just really great. This is where I wanted Tim to be: still the Red Robin, questioning his own decision to live this type of vigilante life, but relieved by the knowledge that he was right. He's able to be more sarcastic and lighthearted now, and to notice that Tam is hot. Though Tim and Tam... really. Really. Also, his interaction with Conner was amazing and it let me know that Bart survives Blackest Night.


Also, I really really like Tim in the Red Robin costume. I like the costume, I like the Tim, I want him to stick around this way.

And I want the new Titans to be Superboy, Red Robin, Kid (blech) Flash, Speedy (if she's, you know, not dead), and Wonder Girl. Can someone get on that? I would also be okay with Bat-Girl being on the team. There are some really awesome young adult superheroes running around right now, someone ought to get them on all on a team together so we're not stuck with the less awesome ones. No offense to, um. Any of the Teen Titans. They can stick around. Let these ex-Teen Titans be Titan Titans. Or have a new name. Or something. Just put 'em on a team and let me read that book, because it will be great.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm too serious about race and gender. But especially gender.

A couple of months ago, I posted about my new dog, Ollie, who is a female but who is named after Oliver Queen. I also posted about the Lady!Ollie picture I found on the internets, and some brief thoughts on gender-swapping characters.
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.
There's been this chromatic casting meme floating around. The idea is that you take established comic characters and insert people of color into the roles. But it's not just insertion, of course, because being a person of color changes your experiences and interactions. Just like your gender does. Anyway, it started, I think, on Livejournal and has gone viral. Got picked up, distributed and, as is the way with anything ever, offended some people. Then one of the creators wrote an excellent response.

Last night during the State of the Union Address, President Obama promised to push through an Equal Pay bill so that women earn 100% of what men earn. Not more. Not the same for less. But equal pay for equal work.

This is the year 2010.

My mom, who was one of two women in her medical school class in the late 70s, used to tell me about burning bras in college and marching down 5th Avenue for Women's Rights and having men spit on her. My mom, who used to add epilogues to fairy tales and Disney stories telling myself and my sister that it was okay if after we went off to the castle and lived happily ever after, we wanted to get a job and not just be a stay-at-home parent, as long as we made our own choices, is the first person that comes to mind when I think of a feminist.

I remarked to her via IM that it's sad that it's 2010 and there's not equal pay for equal work.

"I know," she said.

After the State of the Union, Chris Matthew said he forgot that the President was black, sparking off an uproar (and rightly so) about the remark. After all, why can't an intelligent man be black? That's not what Chris Matthews was saying, I think, but he said it stupidly.

But what no one else seems to remember is that he ended his train wreck by saying that men talk about The Godfather. "It's what we do."


During the Presidential primaries and election in 2008, a discussion of race and racism was at the forefront of nearly every mention of Barrack Obama. But a discussion of gender was limited to comments on Sarah Palin's clothing or Hilary Clinton crying. In the recent election here in Massachusetts, the female candidate was portrayed as cold by the good ol' boy driving around in his truck. She lost (though that's not the only reason). Men who are portrayed as cold are strong. Women are frigid.

Here's my point: sexism still exists, but we are so convinced in this post-third-wave-feminist era that things are okay that we refuse to admit it. It's even okay to be sexist. Ever watched a commercial for Axe body spray? How about a commercial for Progressive insurance where they mock a man carrying a bag, who insists his wife bought it? How about that, again, it's 2010 and this is arguably the worst TV pilot season for women. Teen girls fawn over strong Edward and Jacob while aspiring to be Bella, who's off wilting in the shadows of her immense love for her stalker vampire.

Everything I'm saying doesn't mean racism doesn't exist. Not at all. And overt racism is definitely worse than overt sexism. But the subversive sexism that permeates our culture is still there, and it seems like something only a handful of people are willing to talk about. And those people are often called oversensitive (at best). Really, read some of the comments in this discussion about Marvel's Deadpool cover trade-in promotion (the one where you rip up DC comics to get a reference to a show that was popular 7 years ago with half-naked women that has nothing to do with the title, Siege).

Have some highlights:
"What I'm trying to get at is that sexism in comics isn't going untreated, and there seems to be a better balance nowadays. So to get all up in arms about this seems alittle [sic] futile and tiring."
So because it's being worked on (the author gives three examples of the umpteen comic creators out there), we shouldn't discuss it. Check.

"That cover is funny. Clearly, some people just don't appreciate humor. I hate living in a PC world, where people can't take a joke. Anyone who would call that cover sexist or racist probably has some personal problems that they need to work through."
No words necessary.
"Sorry I just find it funny people think this is sexist. I mean if you feel like that then go for it, but to say this is sexist considering a lot of comics from the 1940's to now have have naked women on the cover....that means the entire industry has been sexist since day one. "
Uh. Yes. I love the argument that because things were more sexist in the past (or racist), to think they're sexist now is ridiculous. Hey, look, in 1860 black people were slaves. So in 1954 when they were working on the Civil Rights bill to allow black people access to voting, they should have just let it go. And since women used to be the property of their husbands a hundred years ago, we shouldn't worry about equal pay because, hey. We're not property.


And let's end with how we started:
Well the only thing I can say that, [sic] your [sic] taking this way to seriously.

So to wrap this all up, I wonder if the people up in arms over "Chromatic Casting" would have similar issues with Genderswap Casting. Maybe they would. I don't know. I think it's a lot easier to be offended by racism, because racism is still considered a Big Problem, whereas sexism is something that got fixed in the 70s so we should get over it.

2010 - Equal pay for equal work. Keep an eye out.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Real" Men Can Wear Indigo (AND Violet!)

I'm sitting in Logan Airport, which has no outlets in its international terminal, waiting to board my Virgin Atlantic flight, which has no outlets in its economy cabin, so I thought it'd be a good time for a long-needed blog update. When without the ability to recharge your laptop prior to a 7 1/2 hour flight, clearly you need to write about comics.


So you know what was cool this week? The Deputy Lanterns over in Blackest Night #6. This almost made up for the Black Lanternization of Bart, Ollie, and Kon. And, yeah, Superman. My friend pointed out that Ollie has to come back to suffer the post-Roy-becomes-Dark Knight-Ollie storyline from Cry for Justice, so he's going to be okay. And Superman is Superman. But I worry about my former Young Justice people.

Anyway, BN #6 was accompanied by Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #2, which was yet another ridiculously awesome Greg Rucka book. This was a slam bang issue, man. I loved the overlap of Diana's thoughts with those of the Black Ring. And it was a totally emotional ride through her life. I had no idea it was fake until her mom showed up. Then I was a bit suspicious. Then Batman (can someone tell me why Bruce is Diana's symbol of love?), then Aphrodite.

Let me say, as an aside, that every time I think of Aphrodite I picture her like so:

Yeah, I'm a Xenite. I don't apologize. (Please enjoy Gabrielle's expression in that picture. For serious.)

Right, so the Deputy Lanterns. I'm not mega familiar with GL mythology. Has this happened before? I know the rings choose the right people, but I dig the emergency, planet-specific deputization. And I like the people they chose. One of the things I do like about the GL stuff is that there are good guys and bad guys in the good corps and bad corps. I mean, Mera's in red, right? Cool.

I guess there's been some kerfluffle about Diana's uniform. Yeah. It's a bit showy. So is her normal uniform. Now it's showier. Yeah. How about the blood running down Mera's face? Not an issue?


I'll let other people go into that. Personally, I don't get why men can't be loving enough to be part of the Star Sapphires. If women can be angry enough to be part of the Red Lantern Corps, against the stereotype of meek and non-angry women, I don't get why a man couldn't have been chosen by the violet ring. I'm going to be honest, I'd probably have given the ring to Kal-El. But okay, give it to Diana. It's not like I'm a writer at DC or a Violet Ring. You know. And I did like how over in Action Comics he was a blend of all the colors. Or good colors, I guess. Green, blue, whatever.

Something I like about Doctor Who is that it makes Earth out to be this really special place. There's a reason the Doctor likes it so much. The people here are terrible and wonderful and they change the course of time itself. I sort of wish that attitude could be found in other genres. Maybe Earth could be the place of the first male Star Sapphire. What about planets with no genders or more-than-two genders? What do Star Sapphires do there? Just skip over that sector?

I liked this issue. Now let's fix Bart (I have a sad sad feeling that now that Irey is Impulse, Bart's not as necessary to the DCU) and finish up this Black Lantern stuff (I know, I know, April). It's been interesting, but there's only so much of the undead I can take.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to London. Cheers!