Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

I'm back! And reading! And maybe even blogging! No promises!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Musings: Cassandra Cain

Okay, so I've been reading a lot of responses to Cassandra Cain's new role in Robin. (I'm personally eating crow for my interpretation, which was very very wrong.)

It really is nice to see fans mobilizing. Cass was a character that was a little too contrived for my taste, but I sympathize with the loss of a good character. The letter writing and other campaigns are a good sign.

But I think some of them are taking the wrong tactic.

See, a lot of them are focused on what Beechen "got wrong" about the character. About the Navajo and the speech and the rest. They're listing them as ways Cass is out of character.

Which she is.

But she also isn't.

This is New Earth. Infinite Crisis was designed in a way to allow writers/editors from this point on to cherry pick DC canon. We get some good things out of it...Leslie's no longer responsible for Stephanie Brown's death, Batman's more human, and a lot of dead characters have come back. We've got a Donna Troy with a workable origin.

But in the process, we got a different Cassandra Cain. Which means, I'd bet, that as far as DC's concerned, Mr. Beechen didn't get Cass wrong. This navajo reading maniac IS New Earth's Cass, and the one we remember from Batgirl either didn't happen as we remember, or something really screwed up happened during the last year.

This could actually be a promising sign though. Because enough people writing in about the original Cass might be able to do something after all.

Because this universe has duplicates. There was a funny example in the online 52 thing I referenced once.

We've got Power Girl and Supergirl. We've got an Aquaman that I've heard is tied to an earlier version, while the post Crisis one we know is still some form. (I'm shaky on the details, I don't read Aquaman.)

Maybe there could be a better Cass roaming around out there. Or not. I don't know. I admit, I'm interested to see where they're taking this though.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Some Thoughts on Mayordom

I was thinking randomly about that old Wizard Quiz, pre OYL, where they mentioned four options to become mayor of their cities: Bruce, Dick, Wally or Ollie. (If I recall correctly) I remember being thrown by that question, as I couldn't really see ANY of them as a Mayor.

But least of all Ollie.

Don't get me wrong, he's a smart guy and clearly charming. But well, tact and restraint never seemed his strong suit. And his identity is only slightly more secret than "I need a cup of coffee-Oops, a JLA Meeting!-Let me transform in this shop" Kyle Rayner at a time when metahumans seem just a bit distrusted. I mean, dude, he doesn't even shave!

Of course Green Arrow isn't a metahuman, but I'd be surprised if the common populace knew that. Fancy costume + skills few can manage + crime-fighting = Meta in most folk's head I'd reckon.

And he's certainly not tactful. Ollie's debate tactic seems to be ranting and raving with the occasional nazi/fascist/dictatorship comparison. Okay, the former mostly during the old Road Trip days, but can't tell me that the man's first televised debate would be anything but an unmitigated disaster.

Tactless, brutally honest and undiplomatic...he seems like the most unlikely candidate for public office.

I suppose in a weird way, he reminds me of this guy. I was surprised at that election result too. :-)

And I have to admit, it's definitely been an interesting story so far. :-) Now if only they'd address Connor, Mia and/or Roy...

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Miscellaneous News.

Okay, so I compiled every single Lantern-related post that has graced the halls of PFP.

The list is here.

From this point on, all Lantern posts will probably go on Zamaron. So from this point on, aside from the icon, PFP is now officially De-Lanternized.

It's the end of an era.

I'll link the posts here anyway. I'm too fond of my own voice. :-)

In other news, I got lucky and things worked out so my roommate and I can go to WizardWorld Chicago! Yay! I really didn't think I was going to be able to go!

Ragnell and Sinspired will be there too, barring unforeseen happenstances!

This'll be fun!

The New Donna Troy?

I've been thinking about someting that someone, I think it might have been Mark suggested about Donna Troy.

Basically that the Donna we saw in the History of the DCU segments and the one from WW were not the same character. Ultimately, that would-be Harbinger Donna is to the new Donna what Power Girl is to Supergirl.

The more I think about it the more I love this idea.

Because honestly, I think Donna Troy is ruined. I think that as likeable as she can be sometimes, the constant retcons, the shifting origins have ruined her character.

I don't necessarily mind retcons in general, especially if they're interesting, but there are certain core events that need to remain to help define who the character is. Nature versus Nuture I suppose. A character who was saved from a burning building and chose to emulate Diana is not going to have the same mindset and formulative experiences as a mirror-twin of Diana cursed to many lives.

They're not the same character. They're not going to see things the same way. As a correlation, what would become of Bruce Wayne if they'd never seen Mask of Zorro that night?

See, Power Girl...her retconning of origins worked for one reason. She didn't remember them. Thus it didn't matter if she was Clark's cousin or Arion's granddaughter, or the Earth-2 Kara returned. The formulative point of her personality was established at her post-crisis introduction.

But Donna's not amnesiac. She's supposed to remember those pasts...all those pasts. But tacking them on just blurs who she is more.

And it causes missed opportunities.

I mean think about the potential inherent in Diana having a mirror sister. A girl created solely to be Diana's playmate and forgotten about. You know, in my mind, that would make a fascinating villain. She'd be angry and resentful of course, but with some justification. She'd be just sympathetic enough that a later writer could redeem her into a tentative ally or a tragic death.

It'd be neat. But could never happen. Because Donna had a set personality. A slightly tragic heroine. And turning her evil would be very hard to make plausible.

Anyway though, the character's been reformed and re-envisioned so much she's like overused clay. Eventually it just doesn't hold a shape anymore. Ruined.

But Wonder Woman's Donna...she doesn't feel like Harbinger Donna. She feels fresh and new. Inexperienced, determined, with no sign yet of solemn tragedy. She seems to have a simple backstory (referred to as Diana's sister, which works fine for me, I can buy another animated clay baby. Or maybe born from a foray of Hippolyta in Man's World. Ooo, that could actually be really interesting.

Maybe if Hippolyta (a.k.a Pre-Crisis Diana, pretty much) did end up in the JSA, maybe she conceived Donna there. Sure she'd have to be older than she looks, but they ARE supposed to be immortal.

Ooo, Wildcat could be her *dad*! That'd be perfect! She'd get a legacy to play with without messing with Diana's uniqueness!

Anyway, I'm enthusiastic about this Donna. And I've realized why. She really hasn't seemed at all like the Donna in 52. She feels like a totally different character with some similar early experiences.

I could really really go for that. Make it a PG-Supergirl thing. The old Donna fans can keep Harbinger Donna while Diana's sister Donna can have the chance to win over the rest of us.

It'd be neat!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Opinions about Random Batman Rumors:

Okay, so I'm sure everyone's heard the rumor that Heath Ledger would be playing the Joker.

I admit, that boggled me. Heath Ledger?!!

Then a thought occurred to me. If you'd have asked me a few years ago if freakin' Luke Skywalker would be the best Joker I'd ever seen I'd have laughed in your face.

So suddenly I'm a lot more optimistic. I don't know if Ledger can play crazy, but people can be surprising.


The other rumor I found interesting was the one about the Batman Musical, which I'm sure has people screaming.

But I actually think it could be fantastic.

See, I'm a huge Meat Loaf fan, and Jim Steinman composed a lot of his most well-known songs. Steinman's style tends toward Phantom of the Opera meets Electric Guitar I think.

So if anyone could actually make a workable version of the Dark Knight on stage, it'd be this guy. I think it has the potential to be really cool.*

Or crazy.

But then so's Batman.

(*As long as Meat Loaf isn't cast as Batman. I really do love Meat Loaf's music dearly, but he wouldn't really suit the Batman.)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Miscellaneous thoughts: A couple I liked

While I wrote my diatribe against the Dick/Barbara pairing, I got to thinking about a couple that really really worked for me, involving one of Barbara's fellow Birds of Prey.

I'm thinking specifically of that time in JSA where Dinah Lance was dating Pieter Cross.

Now there was a relationship I really liked. I always liked how Dinah and Pieter interacted first and foremost like adults.

I find this to be saddeningly rare in comic book couples.

What I really liked about them though was the lack of melodrama. They had chemistry from the beginning, from the moment they met. And from that point on, it really seemed to develop organically. No "will they or won't they" nonsense. They were attracted and ultimately ended up dating.

I liked the way they interacted. There was obvious warmth and camaraderie. The displays of affection did not seem over the top or forced.

Okay, I admit it, I was won over when Pieter woke up after seeing Johnny Sorrow's face and complimented Dinah's CPR skills. It was such a cute scene!

Then the banter at the fair. :-)

Sadly, it didn't last. Ollie came back (which is good, I like Ollie) and Dinah left the JSA. Which is such a shame, really. As much fun as Ollie is as a character, I much preferred seeing Dinah in a mature relationship.

Oh well. It was fun while it lasted. :-)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Linkage and Wes Dodds Abuse:

Over at Zamaron, I've posted an examination of Warrior 42, from a feminist perspective. So if you're interested, go read!

(That's the one where Guy is turned into a chick, by the way.)

Anyway, as my connection's been flaking out all night, I'm not going to chance a longer essay. Instead I'm going to join in one of my favorite hobbies:

Wesley Dodds abuse!

Now I don't actually have the issue in which Wesley Dodds actually puts himself under hypnosis to forget his guilt over Sandy (ya know, as opposed to helping him), so maybe this makes sense in context, but...

From a flashback in DC Comics Presents 47:

Okay, now, is it just me, or does it seem like a really dumb idea to get hypnotized to forget all about the Sandman when you're wearing the costume?!

It just seems like trouble waiting to happen.

Wes, darling, if you're going to hypnotize yourself into forgetting you're a superhero, change into civvies first!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Trepidation Ho!

The Titans Tower Monitor Room has a report from the San Diego ComicCon Legion Panel.

In general it sounds interesting enough. But one part really makes me pause:

"Brainiac 5 is the biggest departure from his comic book counterpart; Although descended from the evil Brainiac, Brainiac 5 is very much learning what it means to be a real boy. The creators likened him to Pinnoccio."

Um. What?

They're turning Querl Dox into Data?!?!

Hoo boy. The warm feelings I've had since the Wil Wheaton as Cosmic Boy announcement (inspired casting, that) are starting to get overtaken by a bit of dismay.

Maybe they'll pull it off, but this...well, I've got my doubts...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Over At That Other Playground...

Posted an analysis of Evil's Might over at Zamaron. If you want to go read, click on the pretty Elseworlds Carol:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

My Confession: I love the Space Bug

Okay. I admit it. I love that Parallax wasn't Hal. I love that it was a Yellow Bug from Space. I don't mind it robbing much of the accountability from Hal Jordan.

I really really don't.

You know why?

Because I just read GL v3 25 again. And anything that allows me to write that off as ANYONE BUT HAL is a damn good thing.

That's the issue where Guy and Hal have the fight to determine which has the right to be Earth's chosen Green Lantern. The last time I read it, I was only mildly familiar with the characters and found Hal a bit appalling. NOW, knowing the characters, it's actually a little horrifying.

Now the fight isn't the problem, though naturally it's a dumb posturing move, because you can't tell me the Guardians wouldn't have favored Hal over Guy anyway, so it was just Hal establishing dominance. And how he does it, it's so incredibly cruel.

Here's the culmination of the fight:

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6

I don't know, to me that looks a LOT more like a villain's return than a hero's. I can't imagine any way that this was supposed to be a sympathetic portrayal of Hal.

And the taking of the ring was just heartlessly cruel. Notice John in the background still has his ring. And it's all well and good for Hal to talk about getting his life back, what about Guy? He obviously can't go back to being a teacher! What does he *have* at this point that's not being an admittedly erratic Lantern?

Guy's an obnoxious bratty jerk, yeah, but it's not like he chose to be that way. Injury in the line of duty, remember? As I recall, Hal, it was injury obtained while doing your duties.

Admittedly, I'm biased. :-)

But regardless of my fondness for Guy, the thing that leaps out at me is that HAL JORDAN actually has the following thought regarding a teammate:

"He's mine now. Mine to spare. Mine to destroy."

Okay, so, it's a very irritating/obnoxious/inconvenient teammate. But that...


Just no.

My heroes don't THINK things like that. Sorry. They don't.

So yeah. Parallax. Space Bug Influence. Yeah. Not Hal. Space Bug fucking with his thoughts. Space Bug. I can deal with that.

So I'm officially declaring my deep, unrequited love for Geoff Johns right here.

Space Bugs, yay!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Loose Reaction to the Atom

I was thinking about the Atom. Rereading. It's middle ground for me right now. I can't yet tell if I love it (Wonder Woman) or dislike it (Flash). Right now, it's kind of in that maybe category with the Blue Beetle. Seems cute enough, the protagonist seems likeable, a touch of diversity without going too far into caricature.

Not completely grabbed yet though.

There is one element I'm really liking, one that I've complained about being lacking in Blue Beetle, and that's the sense of legacy.

I dig legacy. I love the familial sense that DC brings. The whole sidekick/successor elements really help that. There's a sense of lineage that Marvel, probably due to their more static time progression and more unique identities, lacks for me.

But I think the sense of the predecessor is very important. I prefer successions to have connection to what came before. I'm not saying they always have to be sidekicks or little siblings or sons/daughters of the original, of course, but a connection seems there.

Like Kyle for example. Sure he was brand new, never knew any of the Lanterns, didn't know what the ring was when he got it. But that worked for me because Hal Jordan was such a presence throughout the book. He needed to live up to Hal's legend, earn the respect of Hal's peers, show that he's not making Hal's mistakes.

Firestorm's another I've liked in terms of legacy. I don't follow the book like I should (not a lot of money at the moment) but from what I've seen I've liked it. Reference to Ronnie, Ronnie's parents, Ronnie's friends, Ronnie himself and now Martin Stein. Throughout, from what I've seen at least, Jason gets to stay his own character in the process.

Blue Beetle's lacked that so far for me. Where Ted had the connection as Dan's student, and the emotional drive to live up to the legacy, Jaime's got no connection yet. He looked up Ted once and that's it. Presumably, perhaps, Dan will come into play as a previous scarab wielder. I hope so. Right now I'm saddened by the lack. I like Jaime a lot, but without some connection, I don't see the point of him being Blue Beetle instead of a brand new hero.

The Atom seems to be finding a happy medium between the two. For a first issue at least. We don't see Ray, but he's a palpable presence. Ryan and Ray have past communication, and Ray's been leaving messages for Ryan. Basically Ryan is Ray's handpicked successor, and I really like those sorts of stories. Ray's connections don't seem quite as overwhelming as the ones in Firestorm yet, which is probably good too. But we'll see. It *is* only the first issue.

I quite liked the bit with Ryan in the shirt-tag toga. Though I could wish for a different artist. I like Byrne's art style in general, but it doesn't seem to fit in this case. Besides, I like my half naked men to look older than fourteen. :-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Thoughts on Flash.

Hmm, I'm trying to get into the Flash, but it's doing nothing for me. I'm not sure why as I really want to like it.

I suppose a lot of it is Bart. Honestly, Bart Allen as a character does absolutely nothing for me. It has nothing to do with him not being Impulse. In fact, I'm the only person I know who simply *hated* Impulse. Yes, even during Waid's run. I'm sorry. The character just grated on my nerves. He was so gimicky. Yes, he's born in the future and yes he grew up in a VR environment and is all cute and impulsive and impatient and reckless. Sorry, does nothing for me.

It didn't help that his "funny antics" took valuable panel space in team books like Young Justice that could have gone to a more interesting character.

Kid Flash was mildly more tolerable to me. I still thought he was taking panel space from more interesting or deserving characters (especially Cassie, who'd really suffered since the end of Young Justice and is only know getting some of her spirit back). Still it was nice to see a bit of added depth. He seemed like he was actually growing up a little, and I approve of that. (For the record, I liked how Kon/Superboy was maturing into Conner. Superboy was awfully cartoonish, but Conner felt a lot more real and relatable to me. A poor lost kid trying to make sense of who he is and what he's supposed to be doing. Yeah, he dwelled on the Luthor thing a bit much and was inactive a bit too long, but as Superboy Prime shows, there are worse directions to go in.)

Maybe they overshot it a little for my taste. Impulse to Kid Flash was a bit quick of a transformation, but I could see the seeds for it in Young Justice, the Flash, Graduation Day and very early Teen Titans. But now that he's returned as an adult, it's taking me off guard. I don't know how he got to this point. It was too instant for me.

It might just be that I liked the cousin, (Xs?) better. She was adorable in Legion of Superheroes...

It might also be the legacy element. I love legacies usually, especially when the successor has emotional ties to his/her predecessor. But right now Bart becoming the Flash seems to have little to do with Wally or even Barry, suit aside, and that bothers me. Reluctant heroes are a dime a dozen, but Bart's finally replacing Wally and his Grandfather in a grand tradition that he's been working toward, if subconsciously, since he became Kid Flash. I'd like to see more nods to the role he's filling and less, "Ooo, scary Speed Force!"

Jay and Joan were wonderful though at least. I love Jay and Joan.

Still I'll give it another issue or two. Sometimes series do start off slow. No pun intended.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Unpopular Opinion: Why the Dick/Barbara couple doesn't work for me

You know, it's funny, I've seen a lot of references around to something Dan Didio said at Heroes Con. Basically, when asked if Babs and Dick were ever going to have their relationship develop he answers something like, "Not if I can help it, and guess what, I can."

Anyway, there are people decrying this as bad business sense. When the pairing would unite two fanbases (or something, apparently) and/or he's accused of "hating the fans."

First of all, how would it be good business sense to pair them versus not pair them? I mean, sure, if the story developed that way I can't see the harm that pairing them together would do. (Except possibly for one of them to stop appearing in their own series and end up an adjunct in the other, which would be a mistake, as Birds of Prey definitely shouldn't be collapsed into Nightwing, and Nightwing would end up skewing the dynamics of the Birds if he were there.) But where's the benefit?

Fans of Dick and Babs are reading Nightwing and Birds of Prey regardless of whether the characters got together or not. So there really isn't anything to be gained.

Anyway, on the day this question was asked (Friday), Centurion wanted a picture with him, so while this happened I nervously brought up the topic. (It might shock people, but I'm a little shy in real life. :-) I can only be truly myself on a garish pink blog).

And you know what, he doesn't hate the pairing because he hates a "good business decision", he doesn't hate the pairing because he hates fans, or Babs, or even Dick...wanting to kill him aside, of course.

He doesn't like the pairing because he thinks that ultimately the characters are incompatible. That pairing them together because it's "expected" would be a mistake and that Barbara's characterization in particular would suffer.

Which is a pretty valid reason to not pursue the pairing in my opinion.

Though, I admit, I could be biased. I do not like the Dick/Babs pairing at all.

Honestly for me, it's probably a combination of three factors. 1) I dislike Nightwing. 2) I possibly identify a little much with Babs (though I'm not nearly so smart and am a tech-incompetent) and 3) from what I've seen the relationship reminds me of certain relationships I've had, which ended messily.

Ignoring 1) for the moment as that is completely subjective, the reason I think they're fundamentally incompatible has to do with 2) and 3).

See, Barbara, at least as *I* see her (hence where the over-identification is likely to come in) is a strikingly independent person. She likes having her own space. She seems to avoid a lot of personal ties. She doesn't really even like to have someone help push her chair, preferring to do things under her own power. It's not that she doesn't like people, I think, but she likes to have quiet time. Time to herself, for her own projects, which are probably always going to be just a little more important than interacting with the people around her.

Dick isn't like that. Dick's a character that at heart needs people. He needs interaction. He needs reassurance and emotional support from the people who love him, possibly due to being raised by Mr. Warm and Fuzzy Feelings himself. When he led the Titans, there were very heavy camaraderie and familial bonds (as opposed to Barbara's more hands-off, mastermind approach with the Birds), when in Outsiders, he tried for a more emotionally disconnected, ice-queen approach, it failed miserably. When Dick loves, he certainly seems to go all out.

So you've got a character that prefers independence, distance and space with a character that thrives on emotional bonds and sharing and give and take. And honestly, those two ideals are pretty incompatible, and there really isn't a middle ground. It's either/or here. Everything's going to be either too much or not enough.

There's really only one way this could work realistically, and that's for one personality to subsume their own desires for the sake of their partner. Which already is trouble waiting to happen. Not to mention that both Babs and Dick are very strong personalities. Burying their own desires for the other's needs is not going to happen.

It's really easy for someone to say, oh, they can change. Especially in the case of Barbara, oh, she can put down her computer and spend time with him. But it's really not that simple. Because then it becomes an obligation. A chore to do when she could be doing something else. Dick's a very tactile character, so he's going to be likely for the casual physical touching. Hands on the shoulders. Embracing, that sort of thing. But when you're someone who's more private, these casual touches quickly become invasive and irritating. They're something to be endured. And that's really not a healthy mindset in a relationship. You shouldn't have to endure your partner.

And for Dick, it's not fair for him to have to restrain himself. Without the emotional support he'd need, it'd all end up very unhealthily one-sided. And he's kind of already got one of those...even if Bruce is *trying* now.

Again, a lot of this is me over-identifying, I'm sure. But having been in more than enough relationships with this sort of dynamic, they're awfully painful for both participants. Unpleasant.

Not that I'd stop reading or anything if they *did* get together, but personally, I'm really glad that they're not.

Besides, Barbara deserves so much better! :-P

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lazy Day: Movie Musings

As I just posted a Carnival yesterday, I feel justified in taking a break. So I'm basically going to collect some random movie related musings below.

I have to admit, I had my doubts about Hollywoodland, but after seeing the trailer that Ragnell showed me, I think it could either be really good or horrendously awful.
-Ben Affleck would certainly not be my first choice to play the Original Superman.
--But to be fair, it took me almost until the end of the trailer to recognize him.

I wonder what Mr. Reeves's family thinks of the movie plot though. Well. It is just a movie.

The Ghost Rider movie looks so bad it might be good. Nicolas Cage is an actor that is take or leave for me, usually leave. But he does clearly like comics*. And this is definitely a comic movie.

I still think Fantastic Four was an infinitely better movie than X-Men: The Last Stand.

If I were James Marsden, I'd have passed up X-Men for Superman too. My roommate bought the novelization of the movie. She said it was weird. Apparently Jason's...nature is much more ambiguous, peculiar.

I still haven't seen Pirates. I've heard good and bad things. Especially regarding the portrayal of race in the movie. It's very likely that, being as oblivious as I am, I might not have noticed these issues until later. Being of the privileged majority in this case, as well as being a bit oblivious to much in general, this is not something I'd tend to notice on my own. Now though, I won't be able to not have this hovering in the back of my mind while watching.
-And really that's a good thing (the thinking, not any racial issues that may or may not be in the movie), I need to be more aware of this stuff.

I've heard that the Silver Surfer will be in the next Fantastic Four movie. This fills me with trepidation. I actually enjoyed the first movie, but I can't see any way for the Silver Surfer's power to be done well.

When's Wonder Woman coming out?

(*)I still think it's dumb to name a kid Kal-El if you're not *actually* from Krypton, Mr. Cage.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Second Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

--A Transmission From The Distant Future--

A green skinned, bald alien woman clad in garish pink stands before you, antennae fetchingly adorned with ribbon, her arms outstretched.

Ladies and Gentleman, I bid you welcome to the grand opening of our Museum's newest and greatest exhibit, a monument to a dark time in our history, some thousands of years ago, when our foremothers fought the great war of Reclamation.

As hard as it may be to understand now, when humans and non-humans of whatever color, shape or creed dwell in harmony among the stars, there was a time when this was not the case. The fight for equality extended through many battlefields from the very grand to the very small. But they were never trivial. These battles all served the same purpose in the end, to create a world in which men and women could share in mutual respect and equality.

Thus today we commemorate one such battle, when, through the weapons of words, our foremothers and their allies fought for recognition and representation in the literary world, specifically in the realms of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Allow me to give you a tour of our grand exhibit and experience a step on the path by which our foremothers reclaimed the future.

==The Second Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans==


The first stop of our tour focuses on the battle with regards to books and the craft of writing. As you see in the first display, a woman on the moon, analyzes the history of science fiction from a feminist perspective.

"Of key importance to this study, however, are the two distinct factions that were evident during the late 1960s and the 1970s and that could be likened to realism and modernism in terms of their relationship with each other. The one movement consisted of the older generation of writers and placed the emphasis heavily on science fiction as an exploration of science and technology. The other movement, which has been termed the New Wave and to which many feminist writers belonged, was more interested in science fiction’s potential to explore the human condition. "

In the next display, Matociquala examines how the concept of the Other becomes an impediment in the writing craft. Danuta Keen, for her part, looks at the changing portrayal of women in general literature. While Todd Suomela muses on whether a feminist perspective would change the element of teaching in science fiction.

Reviews and analyses were very effective means for our foremothers and their allies to express themselves and their issues. Here we see Cory Doctorow review a book's feminist message:

"This is not a subtle book. I don't think that there's a single sympathetic major male character in it -- even the anarcho-syndicalist boyfriend of one of the activists dismisses her feminism as divisive "identity politics." But then again, subtlety is hardly the point of political, dystopian science fiction. If Alanya to Alanya is explicit and one-sided about its point of view, it is no more so than 1984 or Brave New World or Frankenstein are. And what's more, it's absolutely true that issues of gender are very divisive within progressive political movements."

At Two Sides to Nowhere, Jane examines two reworkings of the old story "Tam Lin".

While both Linda Talisman at No Time and Pirate Captain at Book Reviews of a Bibliophile discuss the same book:

Linda addresses some of the ideas behind the book:

Anyway, when I talk about "women's sci-fi" I don't mean feminist sci-fi, exactly. I mean "by and about women" as in the subtitle of the anthology, but I think I mean a little bit more than that. I mean sci-fi presented through the medium of women's experience, however each individual author defines that.

While the Pirate Captain reviews the book itself:

"But it's one killer introduction. Claiming that "women and science fiction were made for each other," it delves into the history of women writers in what appears to be a stereotypical Male realm.

It reminds us that strong women are not a recent invention, and that the first novel to usher in the modern era of science fiction, Frankenstein, was written by a woman."

The writer Alau analyzes Mildred in Fahrenheit 451:

"Similarly, in Fahrenheit 451, Mildred's personality is not only shaped by a censored society but by the expectations that keep her at home. These completely separate gendered spheres contributed to the social isolation and alienation felt by both Guy and Mildred. In Mildred's case, her emotional estrangement comes not only from the censored society but from her husband's expectations and reactions to her experiences as a domestic housewife."

Over here we see, Yonmei, at the Feminist SF Blog, reviewing John Varley's Millenium, while her compatriot Liz Henry challenges an idea that women can't write "great books":

"So, does Snodgrass think that women don’t read and enjoy the Iliad? Or if they do, they’re not really normal women? Or does he think their “minds” are capable of reading about war, but not paying attention long enough to write about it?"

To round out this wing of the exhibit, Lis Riba reposts a questionnaire about reading experiences.

Comic Books

The next stop on our tour focuses on the battle as takes place with regards to comic books and graphic novels.

Our first display is a cute cartoon drawn by Karen Ellis of Planet-Karen: What Would Wonder Woman Do

Whereas in the next display, we see how the varied response to the response to her NAN Grant offer(as seen at the previous incarnation of this exhibit) has Lea Hernandez weighing in:

And in this world of no prejudice that I turned topsy-turvy with my grant, there's David saying, "True. The amount of debate it's generated over at CBR is wholly disproportionate to the value of the "grant" itself...What poor Lea Hernandez should have asked herself before launching her (no doubt well-intentioned) initiative is how she would have reacted if someone had made a similar offer available to male applicants only. I rather imagine she'd have been among the first to vent her ire at the CBR forum!"

I don't think I need to point out that that statement is just sizzling with loaded statements, minimization of me, and David trying to make my mouth move with his words.

In this corner, a little dark voice speaks about what the differences between men, women, boys and girls mean in comics:

Anyway, I got to wondering if maybe male characters had an easier time being considered "men", even when they display more "boyish" quirks, whereas female characters who act "girlish" can really only be "girls.""

Over here, we see 100 Little Dolls repost her very first comic review, regarding Robotech: Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles:

"What is painfully obvious is that they're going to make Lisa Rick's motivation. She deserves more than that--they did such a good job with her in the original series. To make her pregnant, hurt/hospitalized and miscarry is just rediculous. It's akin to what Lucas did to Padme in Star Wars.

They take their strongest woman character--Lisa is the head in command--and make her weak and pregnant."

E. Arkell gives her answer to the question Why are you so angry?

And Shelly addresses the topic of feminism in comics from her own perspective:

"Is a woman who takes advantage of her sexuality, her beauty, her femininity to further her goals an anti-feminist? Or is she simply a realist, using what's available to her? Is she setting back the cause of feminism or is she clever? Is a woman who is aggressive, acting in a manner people have described as masculine simply a feminist not wanting to be pigeonholed as a weak, or is she trying to be more like a man, denying her true nature?"

In this display, Ragnell re-examines an old Newsarama feature on Daughters of the Dragon, and then follows it up with more specific criticism here:

"The second picture, however, the landing is clumsy. I wouldn't describe it as dynamic at all. Her feet are skidding outwards beyond her control (her right foot even appears to be shaving wood from the porch -- was it changed so she would make noise on landing? Some martial artist!). Her back is bent in a painful and dangerous manner, you can see very little musculature. Her wrist is angled in a painful manner that adds no support to her upper body. This is not the landing of a skilled martial artist. This is an untrained girl who's gotten in over her head! Even her grip on the sword is loose!

The characterization is completely different for the two panels.

Which one do you think fits Colleen Wing, experienced martial artist?"

Marionette finds a feature in the back of a Marvel comic book interesting:

"This week's Marvel comics (well the one I read, anyway) contain an editorial from someone called Molly. I have no idea of who Molly is or what position she holds at Marvel, but I was so gobsmacked by her words that I'd like to reproduce them here in full. Responses mine."

While Tekanji takes her criticism straight to the source:

"Quesada hasn’t experienced hostility for being a woman in the comic book industry because he isn’t one. He hasn’t seen it, either, because his privilege gives him the ability not to see it. This doesn’t make him a bad person, but it does add another dimension of stupidity to the way he chose to answer the question. By dismissing the potential validity of the criticism he is speaking from an authority that he doesn’t really have — it stops being about how he feels and starts being about him being Right and those who feel they have been discriminated against being Wrong."

Finally, on the manga end of the spectrum, Love Manga's David Taylor is perhaps Foolishly Optimistic regarding the state of female characters in Shoujo manga:

"What I’m basically saying is at the moment the manga we seeing might be all anti-feminist, or if your of the other persuasion all manga at the moment might make females appear mediocre against the superlative male counterparts. In a few years that could all change as more stuff gets translated and the topic shifts to something else. It is all a balance and if what your reading at the moment doesn’t cut it for you there is something else which will hit the spot."

Television and Movies

Here of course is where we examine the nature of this battle in the realm of the primitive technology of the moving picture.

Our first display is Ifritah's critique of the movie Aeon Flux and how it fails to live up to it's television counterpart:

"After finishing the ten-episode stint of Aeon Flux’s animated cartoon, the biggest thing I noted was how the most loved part of Aeon’s personality was drowned out on the Hollywood screen.

Her snark. Her arrogant, casual, sassy persona was suddenly soggy once the animation turned to real life cameras."

While Philip Chien links to his own examination of The Cult of Princess Leia's Metal Bikini.

Over in the television section, Battlestar Galactica and certain Joss Whedon television programs are major topics of interest.

At Archive Sometim3s, reproductive politics in Battlestar Galactica are explored:

"It shouldn’t be understated, I think, that the decisive argument in persuading the President of the ‘necessity’ of banning abortion - who expresses with some conviction that she has “fought all her life for the right of women to control their own bodies” - comes when the population figure is brought, once again, into focus."

EL expresses enthusiastic love for the almost love between Apollo and Starbuck:

"He's mad, she's mad, they're in love, and they're totally (despite the small matter of rank) peers and equals. Equals enough that his punching her is equivalent to her punching him. It's not "violence against women" which indicates that violence against any woman, in particular, is worse, because she, in particular, is naturally unable to fight back. Instead, it was portrayed as the violence that happens between two people (who happen to be military-trained) who are negotiating a complicated relationship. He was not expected to grip his jaw, wince a bit, and take it, out of some pedestalizing "respect for women". He respected her enough to dish out what he took, in unbracing justice."

While Lance both commends Galactica's portrayal of gender while pointing out the problems with regards to race:

"The series debuted, Katee Sackhoff did a very competent job playing Starbuck(in spite of her dismal performance in "Halloween: Resurrection") and those fears were dispelled. However, another oddity had occurred: along with Starbuck's penis, somehow all the Black characters managed to also bid adieu to the Battlestar Galactica universe."

With regards to the other major topic of interest, Jason commends Joss Firefly's take on women:

"The point is, I think Whedon must have a copy of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" on a bookshelf somewhere, because he portrays his female characters with such depth and color that I cant help but feel less valuable for having a penis."

While at Wax Banks, the question is asked, Is Joss Whedon Feminist enough?:

"Hopefully-provocative title aside, my GF puts a question in response to the heartbreaking Angel episode 'A Hole in the World': Does Joss Whedon kill his major male characters anywhere near as often as he offs his central females? The answer is obviously NO, he doesn't. So the real question is: why not? From which we get to a whole host of other more specific questions, but let's approach through that one. Why not?"

Video Games

Our last stop on the tour centers around the battle as regards to video games.

At New Game Plus, Lake Desire examines the World of Warcraft forum's receptivity toward women:

"Many of the replies on the WoW forums are from misogynists: “What about all the guys that get harassed from (actual)female players? Huh? EQUAL RIGHTS” and “This post is like women IRL. They just dont know when to stop talking.” and “I think I’m done trying to respect and please women when all that happens is I get hated by ones I don’t even know.” and “Ok, honey, you’ve had your cute rant. Go make me a pie now.” Yikes. Analyze that as you will, but I think my regular readers know what I think."

She also addresses the disturbing implications of a new piece of software:

"Harassed in game? Now, instead of reporting the harassment to moderators or challenging the ways the game environment and culture encourage it, you have a new way of blending in and participating: disguising your voice as that of a man’s."

Over here we have Alaric S. relating anecdotal experiences from four female gamers.

While, in this last display, Roxanne challenges the idea that guys' addiction to video games are why women are starting to be more successful academically.

Finally though, what exhibit would be complete without a glimpse at the opposing side.

They never had a prayer.


Thank you all for coming, the next carnival will be held at New Game Plus. The due date will be August 1st, for an August 3rd showing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random Ridiculous Realization:

Okay, so my roommate was forcing me to watch old Power Ranger episodes again, when I suddenly noticed something...

In one season a character's little sister was kidnapped by bad guys and made evil.

In another season a character's older brother was kidnapped by bad guys and made evil.

In yet another season, a character's older brother was possessed by some sort of disembodied spirit that while not exactly evil, did begin antagonistically.

And something occurred to me.

The "evil sibling" plot is pretty common, whether it's in books, movies, comics, television shows, anime, whatever. But, in the instances when the evil sibling isn't a twin of course, it's usually goes the same way.

The evil sibling is either an older brother or a younger sister.

I seriously can't think of any instance where a hero has an evil older sister or an evil little brother. And that strikes me as very weird. I'm sure there are a few, but it seems to be a much rarer situation. Why does the evil older brother or evil younger sister end up so much more common.

I theorize it might be because a little sister is someone we're supposed to protect. She's got the dual hits of being a girl and being younger. Thus when she ends up revealed as a villain, there's a perceived element of failure. A little brother is not, I think, considered quite as helpless or needing protection. Writers, I'd imagine, decide if they're going to go with the "I was supposed to protect you" failure element, they might as well do it with a girl.

Whereas older brothers are supposed to be protectors, being both male and older. Thus they're always considered in a position of power so when they're then an adversary, it adds to the power dynamic. An older sister (usually) lacks the size component (older brothers are usually drawn bigger than their heroic siblings), and the perceived power element. Older sisters are considered nurturers rather than protectors, I'd guess, and are thus not as scary?

I don't know really, I'm just guessing out of the blue. It's a very strange phenomenon though, isn't it?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Random Ramblings: Flaws and Past Perspectives

Okay, in Manhunter 23, we find out the truth about Kate Spencer's ancestry. Specifically that she's the granddaughter of Sandra Knight and Iron Munro, with Al Pratt's name on the certificate.

Well, naturally given that I like legacies and family and I love the JSA in general, I think this is great. I particularly liked the flashback.

In fact the flashback had one bit I particularly liked and it's hard to explain why:

Basically, Sandra, after fighting with Munro goes to the bar, drinks a bit, then ends up spilling her guts to Al Pratt. We see her, very clearly, down alcoholic beverages at the start of the scene.

Now naturally, I'm not trying to advocate drinking during pregnancy, it's pretty common knowledge how dangerous it is. But back in the forties, people didn't know that, I think. So it would have been perfectly natural and normal for Sandra to have a few drinks when she knew she was pregnant.

It's hard to explain why, but I'm really glad they showed it. Because I really don't like the tendency some folks have to want to white-wash the past. To make it seem neater, cleaner than it really was. There was violence, there was sex, there was racism, classism, sexism and all sorts of social injustice. People did some stupid things sometimes that they didn't know any better about and other stupid things that they damn well did.

And portrayals of the past shouldn't falter at these depictions. Nostalgia is all well and good, but not when it ignores the negatives in favor of a fantasy land. Especially in cases where people are pushing their own beliefs on the past. More likely than not, all the rabid sanitation does is create this artificiality that hurts rather than helps the story.

Wherein I Ramble Incoherently, Do Be Warned
Take Young All-Stars, for example. I've complained about it before. Basically Roy Thomas used the character of Tsunami to explore racism in the World War II period. But the problem was, I think, that he couldn't really get past the idea that the characters were supposed to be heroes. So instead of a fairly realistic imagining where the average joe distrusted the girl because of her race, which would have made sense at the time, he instead had all of his heroes, all of whom were portrayed as relatively average youngsters for all their powers, immediately accept her in their fold. He chose a specific character to be the racist, and had every single other character denounce that one's vocal beliefs. Not even Dan the Dyna-Mite, littlest and most clueless of the group, showed any sign of being influenced by the racist character's beliefs or the propaganda of the time.

It didn't work. Especially as Tsunami's plight was so front and center, and the source was all from faceless bigots and the one token team member. It fell flat. And in the process, Thomas lost an interesting opportunity. He had the chance to give his characters depth as they, as again relatively average teenager type personalities, would be forced to examine their own ingrained assumptions and prejudices and move past them. Instead only the token racist got the development.

I can't help but compare this to a story I loved in one of the Secret Files and Origins books, where the old school JSA discuss class. Characters like McNider and Wesley Dodds expressed mildly classist sentiment to the irritation of Alan Scott (who it might be noted was still sitting with the "upper class" part of the JSA than the "lower class" part). In a single, very short story, we got more characterization than the majority of the YAS kids did in ten issues. The matter wasn't actually resolved either. But it didn't really matter. Wes and Charles were expressing ideas that they were raised with. Were portrayed as being in the wrong, naturally, from the outside writer/reader perspective. But it was okay. Because we know they're good characters, they're just also products of their time. Oddly they become more real to me because of this.

Another point for comparison might be the Per Degaton story in JSA, wherein a bunch of members, including Michael Holt, end up back in 1951. Michael in particular is brought face to face with the racism of the time. It's not pleasant. Now, like YAS, the actual main characters, the JSA members, do not seem to share the racist sentiments. But oddly it bothered me less. I think it's a combination of factors: first being that for Michael this sort of overt racism wasn't a part of his life as much as it is for Tsunami. Thus, the story could focus more on the novelty/shock of the experience, and didn't need the added pressure from the group to prove a point. Second, the characters of the JSA were adults and more...extraordinary in temperament/experience than the YAS kids were portrayed as being at the time. They had time to learn better, one presumes. Third, the events were always portrayed from the point of view of Michael the man, whereas Tsunami's tended to be omnipresent third person narrative. It was impersonal.

But that's a digression really. The thing is, in general, I like to see my heroes reflect their time periods.

Take a common complaint of Ragnell's about Judd Winick's Green Lantern. Basically how in the Terry Berg storyline, everyone was accepting of his choices except for his parents and attackers. Honestly, homophobia is rife in our time, it's sad but true. And even a lot of folks who consider themselves tolerant are not terribly comfortable with the idea. But all of the protagonists accepted Terry at the start. I'm not saying I want the heroes to be giant homophobes, but a bit of discomfort, naturally portrayed as misguided, would be suitable for some.

But let's think about that for a second. Kyle...yeah, Kyle's a very sensitive liberal college age young artist living in Greenwich Village. It's really hard to imagine him having even the slightest discomfort with the idea.

Jade, well, she's a woman and I don't mean to be sexist but women tend not to be raised with quite as virulent an aversion to homosexuality as men are. This is not to say that there aren't homophobic women of course, but it's pretty reasonable to accept that this upper middle class suburban girl, especially one that later became a model/photographer/actress, could be quite comfortable with homosexuality.

John's one that I could imagine being a trifle uncomfortable with the idea at first. But Mr. Winick skirted that of course by having him have a gay relative, if I'm recalling things correctly.

...and then there's Alan. Who was completely fine with it. Who really, really shouldn't have been.

Extending that, I love that in Manhunter, Alan seems mildly discomfitted over his son's choices, calling Damon "Todd's friend". It just rings true for me. He'll love his son regardless, but the going to take a lot of getting used to.

(Ragnell's post also addresses Hal's mild racist/sexist prejudices much better than I could. Suffice it to say, they felt natural to Hal, given his background and experiences, and growing out of them as he did, gave him a nice depth)

I'm not saying that this sort of thing should be applied equally to all characters. It makes sense for Wally to have been a little homophobic where it wouldn't for Kyle. It makes sense that characters like Jay or Sand or even Ted have much less ingrained sexist attitudes than Alan Scott, given their less rigid/more adaptive personalities. I'm just saying that when I think these sorts of cultural/generational factors are used well, (As I think they are in JSA or Manhunter), they become a really interesting part of the story.

(ETA: More observant people than I tend to be have said she's actually drinking ginger ale. Rats. Oh well, I can't be right *all* the time. :-))

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Random Panel: Jade and What Army?

Okay, while I'm not by nature a Jade fan, I have to admit. Once in a while, she can be cool.

Like when cornered in Outsiders 14.

She conjures an army of ninja.

An. Army. Of. Ninja.

Now I'm not much for ninja in general, but honestly...that's pretty damn cool. :-)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sandman is STILL a dick

Okay, so as we see here, Wes Dodds is a man who, after turning his sidekick into a sand monster and drugging him for years, then lied to everyone and said he'd left town...

Well, as of DC Comics Presents 47, Wes shows that he is *still* a complete asshole:

According to this story, after the poor kid wakes up and wreaks a bit of chaos, Wes has him shipped off to a hospital for a few years. Whereupon, an evil doctor/supervillain calling himself the Shatterer gets control of the woebegotten ward and his stupendous superpowers.

Naturally, the Sandman comes to the rescue and *finally* deigns to cure his pupil's plight:

In what amounts to minutes, he has a cure. *Minutes*.

The kid was in that "Velvet Cage" for decades and spends even more time vulnerable in a hospital while Wes is suffering from so much guilt that he *hypnotizes himself* to forget the whole thing!

As opposed to, I don't know, keeping his promise to help the poor kid! And then finally, finally he cures him in a process that takes all of five minutes.

Wes, you are a dick.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Idle Thoughts after Superman 654, no spoilers involved

I have to admit, I haven't been really keeping up with Superman OYL. I like Superman, don't get me wrong. And I like Kurt Busiek's writing, so I'm not really sure *why* I haven't been keeping up. Anyway, I decided to change that with Superman 654.

I won't say much about it. It's a downtime sort of issue. Nothing spectacular. Just a day in the life sort of thing. But damn if it's not cute. It reminds me of why I always get slightly disgruntled watching any of the TV shows or movies regarding Superman. Because for all that they shine in other areas, I've never seen any of them really make the Lois Lane and Clark Kent/Superman relationship shine.

This story does it. They don't even interact that much, a handful of pages scattered through the entire story. But damn if it doesn't really hit my buttons. It really shows how well they work for each other, and how their marriage can become a part of, rather than an obstacle, to storytelling.

It makes me happy. Especially with all the rumors of trouble with Spiderman and Mary-Jane or Reed and Sue (which I find really sad, as I still think of the issue where Reed makes a computer version of himself to distract a rogue program and ends up randomly asking her, in the middle of battle, things like "Can I carry a tune?" It was sweet...I'm upset they're going away from that). It's good to know that there's one couple, THE couple as far as I'm concerned, still going strong. :-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Why It Pays to Check My Blogroll...

Okay, apparently JD over at Lex Luthor is Pleased knows things that I don't.

Because he's got a future Teen Titans cover I've never seen anywhere else. (I think this counts as requiring a SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING. SERIOUS.)

I don't know where he found it, but if it's real, that's pretty damn big news.

Okay, now those of you who've looked, I'm going to respond with my speculation/reactions below. Those of you who don't want to know, go read a different entry now. The Supergirl one maybe. Or look at She-Hulk fighting the Gator.

Go Away.

All right. Key attraction is Miss Martian. Yeah, she's cute. Anime-esque. Which works for me, J'onn did once disguise as a female reporter named Hino Rei. (The civilian identity for fire-wielding Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon.) Maybe Martians like Anime.

A teenage Martian Manhunter counterpart is an awesome idea. A teenage girl is even better.

But that's kind of avoiding the point, isn't it?

Because in the upper corner, that certainly *looks* like a bald Conner Kent with an L slashed through the S.

Whoo boy.

I always thought there were a lot of parallels between Conner's death and Clark's in Death of Superman. Maybe there are a few more parallels after all?

And is that Jericho?!

Okay, I'm confused now. But it occurs to me...we have Kon, Jericho, Terra on a cover...what do these three characters have in common?

She could be K'im. You know. J'onn's daughter? I mean...sure she's dead...

But this Martian girl is on a cover with Kon, Jericho and Terra...

Okay, honestly, I have *no* idea what's going on here. But I know I'm going to be buying this damn comic. :-)

Exercise in Egotism: What I Want From Kara Zor-El

I don't think I'm going too far in saying Supergirl is a problem. More than that, she's a mess.

I'm sure Kara Zor-El (Post-Crisis version) has some fans out there, but I don't know many. Most of the folks I know are resentful. She's not Linda. She's not Pre-Crisis Kara. She's not any of the characters we like or remember. Which wouldn't necessarily be bad...except the end result is, to put it bluntly, sensationalist tripe.

She's a sullen, angry little lolita in a barely there costume, sexy tattoo on her back, whose only purpose seems to be shower scenes or kissing cousins. But...wait a second, she's *Supergirl*!

There's something, I think, innately wrong with taking Supergirl, traditionally a character that makes Superman's concept accessible to young female readers and remaking her solely for men.

Supergirl should be a series I can recommend to my fourteen year old cousin, so she can see a young girl like herself with powers, an neat concept and fun stories. I certainly can't, in all good conscience, recommend *this* to her. And honestly, I don't know anyone who really likes the character as she is now. Evil version, sent to kill Clark, uber-angst, and barely there costume or not.

What's interesting to me is that apparently, in an interview, Joe Kelly said that the reason he got the series is because no one else wanted it. Yeah, it was a joke, but you know what? You should have looked my way, DC. Because *I* want the series. Give me the chance. I can fix her.

Give *Me* Supergirl
The thing about Supergirl that no one seems to get, not even Peter David, though he was much much closer, is that she's supposed to be for *girls*. She's the character that little girls think of when they tie a towel around their necks and climb up jungle gyms. Or at least that's what she should be. I'm not saying that Supergirl should have only very sanitized content and never deal with mature issues. But there's a difference between dealing with mature issues and what's going on right now.

Hell, if you read any young adult literature, you'd quickly realize that the big difference between YA and Adult fiction is in subtlety. The horror, the sexuality, the death is a bit less overt. That dosn't make their themes any less substantial. (Read Lurene McDaniel for drama or Christopher Pike for horror, for example, you'd see that the scope of YA literature doesn't stop at Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, or whatever you fogeys think young girls read*)

(*Yes, I know these are all out of date. I'm referring to the crap I read as a girl, I'm sure there are new and better examples now...heck Harry Potter's YA, after all.)

Comics neglect the Young Adult market anyway, which is stupid. You gotta hook the kids young damnit. Hook'em young, you got 'em for life. Cigarette companies know this, why have you forgotten?

Anyway, things aren't hopeless. In fact, right now, it would be really, really easy to turn Kara Zor-El into a likeable, marketable character. Without having to turn her into her pre-crisis version.

You see, it occurs to me, during Mr. Loeb's initial run of the new series, there was one moment where I found Kara Zor-El interesting. It wasn't while showing up Superman, single-handedly taking out severely out of character Titans or even beating up on the Outsiders. It wasn't while fighting Luthor or her buried evil side.

It was when she had her crush on Nightwing. It was silly. It was embarrassing. She made a total fool of herself and it was obvious to *everyone*. And I felt for her. In that moment, for the first time ever, I liked her.

Forget Kelly's silly bit about her being older than sixteen but acting sixteen or whatever that nonsense was. She's sixteen. Stasis doesn't count. She's not a safe means of exercising a school-girl fetish. She's *sixteen*.

So I'd write her that way. At the risk of being sexist, I bet I've a much better idea of what it is to be a sixteen year old girl than Jeph Loeb, Greg Rucka, and Joe Kelly combined.

Sixteen year old girls are silly. They're insecure. They're exciteable. They're angsty. No one understands them. Everyone's laughing at them. They're in love. Sure they were in love with someone different yesterday! But today it's the *real thing*. The genuine article! And...tomorrow's will be even *more* real.

Forget the dark evil daddy issues. Save them for when the character's grown up a little. Let her put them out of her head and focus on being a kid now. Focus on dating, on fitting in, on learning the ropes of this new world she's on. Focus on using her powers to fight bad-guys while trying to maintain something resembling a normal teenage existance.

She's got a good start really. Her sullen anger is very teenager-ish. But that's a bit unlikeable isn't it? Besides no teenager is that angry all the time. I'm not saying she can't be sullen and angry of course. Especially around grownups who Couldn't Possibly Understand. But that shouldn't be her default state.

We need to see Kara with kids her own age. People she won't be angry and sullen toward. School-friends, for example. So she can show other sides of her personality.

My suggestion would be boarding school. It'd be a good way for her to learn to adjust to Earth. She'd have to sneak out in order to fight and sneak back in later. She can make friends, meet boys to crush on (and she's sixteen, there'll be lots of cute crushes...let's avoid going too far though, okay? Krypton's a pretty non-touchy feely culture it seems). It'll keep her away from Clark or Bruce or Karen so she be defined on her own, apart from them.

With her personality, it'd be fun too. She's not sugary sweet like her pre-crisis self. She'll want to be cool. She'll want to impress the right people. She'll skirt the line between tomboy, girly-girl and bad girl. She'll be insecure and self-absorbed, but grow to genuinely care about the friends she makes.

And of course, there'll be ass-kicking. Bullies...she's not the sort to meekly roll over, but she'll also have to exert enough control so as not to hurt them or reveal her secret. Bad guys. There are always bad guys. But not Luthor and that sort yet, she's young. Give her her own bad-guys for a while. That way it'll be a big thing when she's got to join a big-league fight.

And in crossover stories, she should crush on more people besides just Nightwing. Come on, she's surrounded by a bunch of really attractive guys in very showy clothing. Nice, gallant, hero types. She's sixteen. It's a done deal. And she should make a complete idiot of herself. That's part of what'll make her appealing to teenage girls. Because we do that. Trip over stupid shit, stumble over her speech, all her normal grace and skill *gone* in front of a hot guy! How unfair is that!

Naturally, she'll still be competent in a fight though. She's a hero and heroes suck it up when it counts.

Finally, her costume needs to go. We do not need to see that much of her torso. The Matrix one would be much better. Still short skirt, but more of a unitard top.

It'd be really easy to get a good motivation to change it anyway. She's a teenager. Have someone make fun of her for it. Or have her overhear a guy she likes, maybe one of the other heroes, say something about how the costume's a little much on someone that young. Teenagers are sensitive and insecure. In a snap, the costume would be gone and traded. I'm sure Martha would be relieved and thrilled to make her a new costume that covers her up a little more.

But yeah, that's what I want really. Lose the daddy issues (for now) and the Lolita complex and put the *girl* back in Supergirl.

Maybe they are going this way (I love the cover with Kara getting hit by the truck), but from the interview with Mr. Kelly and the other things I've read, I'm not particularly hopeful.

Come on, guys. You have tons of sexy superheroines out there designed specifically designed for you in mind. Let us girls have Supergirl back!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Second Call for Submissions!

Just a reminder! The Second Carnival for Feminist SF/F Fans is coming!

Any material written on or after June 29th is eligible! The deadline is July 16th for a July 18th exhibition!

Please submit via e-mail (my alternate one is here) or by using this submission form.

And if you want to know the guidelines, they are up here or here.

Because It's Fun

Sometimes, things really don't need any explanation, you know?

Like this, from Savage She-Hulk 7:

She-Hulk fighting a crocodile.

I love comics.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Deja Vu: Supergirl 7

Okay, so Supergirl was actually surprisingly interesting. Definitely rife with What-the-Fuck moments, but they're not actually what I'm going to blog about.

It occurs to me, actually, that this whole plot (sans the Ozarkian plot twist) looks like something I've seen before.

Am I Reading Joe Kelly or Timothy Zahn?
When I was a kid I loved the Star Wars novels. This was before New Jedi Order, before Salvatore killed Chewbacca, and those really annoying solo siblings had only just popped up as toddlers in that one Anderson trilogy.

Well, anyway, I remember reading a trilogy that took place a little before the aforementioned one. It involved clones. I don't remember a lot of the plot but I remember one aspect.

This series introduced Mara Jade (a.k.a. the future Mrs. Skywalker) as the Emperor's Hand. She was red-haired, force-adept, and an assassin brainwashed to kill Luke Skywalker.

Anyway, even though the Emperor was dead at this point, the compulsion still remained. Naturally this caused trouble when she met up with Luke. As she didn't, as I recall, actually *want* to kill him.

Of course, that's where the clone plot came in handy. See, there was a clone of the Emperor. He also had an evil clone of Luke (called Luuke. There was something with double "u"s. I think Zahn is just a little weird. Or Morrison-crazy. Take your pick.) Anyway, Mara manages to finally complete her programmed duty by, naturally, killing the clone. Thus everyone is happy.

So what does that have to do with Supergirl? Nothing really, but I couldn't help but remember it when I saw Kara flash back so often to her father telling her to kill Clark. How that was apparently one of the reasons she went away to Kandor. Now all of a sudden, she's in a bottle universe with an evil version of her cousin.

It would make sense as much sense, plot wise as anything else. (And Kara getting so close in order to kill him makes a lot more sense than the...err...obvious explanation for that particular scene...)

It might be just coincidence. It might be an intentional homage. I might be misreading it altogether. Either way, I'm actually interested to see how this will turn out.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bizarre Slash Pairing I'd Read:

I like slash. But I'm tired of the most common pairings. Sometimes, a gal just wants to see something different.

You know what I want to see?

Nemesis and the Question slash.

Seriously, the man with any face paired with the no-faced guy.

Well, it makes sense in my head...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Cult of Mediocrity: Shoujo Manga and Me

I don't blog very often about manga. This is because, while I used to be very much a manga fan, my interest has wandered into that of superheroes and I rarely look back.

But I do still read occasionally. And I still keep an eye out for manga-related topics on WFA

Recently there was a set of topics that intrigued me, discussions on whether or not shoujo manga is feminist or sexist. I can see the arguments for both, really. Both sides have really good points. In a sense, I think they're both right.

But this post isn't about that really. Or maybe it is. I'm not sure. But during the whole thing, I'm reminded of something that really started to get to me about shoujo manga.

I call it "the cult of mediocrity".

Ragnell once described comics as an adolescent power fantasy. I'd always thought that was an apropos description for both Japanese and American comics. And it started to explain to me why I was so tired of manga.

See, manga in Japan is a lot more gender-stratified than it is here. Manga is classified as shounen (Boys') or shoujo (Girls') based on a number of flexible criteria, up to and including the type of publication they're found in. While there are cross-genre stories, the majority tend to be stratified along the lines of Boys' stories being more action/plot based and Girls' stories being more character and emotion driven.

This is oversimplifying matters considerably of course. Many boys' manga have relationships and strong character development, many girls' manga have action, et cetera and so forth. But honestly, I'm sure you guys, if you really care, can look that sort of thing up on your own. Suffice to say, one can usually tell a girls' manga from a boys' manga.

Besides, this isn't my problem. I don't see anything wrong with differentiating manga focused on plot/action from manga focused on character development/drama. After all, there's no law that says a boy can't by girls' manga, or vice versa, and it's good to know what you're looking for.

It's just that after a while I started noticing an odd sort of theme. And I think it relates to Ragnell's power fantasy thing. See, the main character of shounen manga is usually a boy, the main character of shoujo manga is usually a girl (or the uke in boys love manga, which is the homosexual themed romance subgenre of girls' manga...the uke is the character that tends to correspond with female gender stereotypes.) The idea, I believe, is that readers are meant to identify with these main characters. To use them as wish-fulfillment, fantasies for themselves.

I have no problem with this either.

But what I've noticed is that in boys' manga, the lead character is differentiated as being special in some way. Either the strongest fighter, the smartest detective, the best magician something like that. Even if the character is a complete dunce, there's always some spectacular talent to be highlighted. (With the possible exception of harem stories...but one could imagine the accumulation of so many attractive women to be its own spectacular talent...certainly there are those that envy it). There are often female characters that are strong or capable as well, but they are not the center of the story and thus usually end up never quite matching up to the men.

I admit, this is a little irksome to me, but I understand where it's coming from. Everyone dreams of being the strongest, smartest, fastest, whatever. It's wish-fulfillment.

Girls' manga is different though. Because when I stop and think about it, I can think of very few spectacular female lead characters. The lead character is usually a c-student, klutzy, socially awkward, but naturally quite beautiful. She may or may not have a special power, but in general, she starts off unable to really use it well. She tends to be swept up into destiny. This is not to say that she's not brave and doesn't experience character growth. But, while her friends may correspond to "smartest", "toughest" et cetera, she herself is downright mediocre.

I wouldn't have any problem with this normally, as it's nice to see normal, flawed, imperfect central characters right? Except the male characters aren't written the same way. Because these tend to be romance fantasies, the male character is almost always perfect. Intelligent, handsome, either sensitive or an asshole with intriguing angst behind it.

So what this amounts to is a perfect male character and what amounts to a mediocre female character.

I'm not saying I want the female characters to be all-knowing or all-talented. But I think pretty much everyone has *one* thing they do well. These female characters don't. Their only real advantage is their "pure hearts", with which they winsomely end up entrapping their love interests. In fantasy type stories, they tend to have the destiny of something great, but the girl's own role tends to be passive. Often if she does have a great power, it always activates beyond her control. She might have the power of a goddess, but the power almost always controls her rather than the other way around.

(Yaoi/Shounen Ai/Boys Love manga works similarly. The uke character, again, tends to be klutzy, academically un-impressive, with their strength in their emotional bonds to other characters while the seme, or top, who is more traditionally masculine, tends to be again the perfect man. It's quite a disturbing thought that femininity=mediocrity).

And this bothers me. The boys get power fantasies of being special. Being the strongest, the fastest, the smartest. They win the girl, get the prize, beat the badguy.

The girls get power fantasies of...being in the right place at the right time and being victorious through no control of their own? And ultimately meeting the perfect man?

Doesn't something seem a little uneven here?

I mean, yes, I understand the fantasy of being a normal person and then finding yourself involved in something great. But where are the power fantasies for the girls? Why are the smart, tough, strong girls shoved off to the sidelines while the mediocre girl remains the center of the story?

In the end, this is probably where manga lost me. It's not that I don't like these characters. They tend to be very likeable. But I want more in my power fantasies than to win the perfect man or to be carried into my destiny.

But why the hell, when I can dream myself to be like anything imaginable, would I want to settle for mediocrity?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Reactions to JSA 87 (very minor spoilers)

So. That's it. That's how it ends until the new series starts in the fall.

I've mixed feelings about this arc in general.

Now a part of it is simply because I *still* have no idea where my favorite character is, barring a random mention in JSA Classified which was nice, and a glimpse during a crowd scene in 52.

It's nice on one hand because I'm pretty sure he's alive (yay), but I've no idea if he's going to be on the team later. And while I'll read JSA anyway, I really really hope he'll be on the team and not end up in limbo.

I mean they brought back Johnny Sorrow. And Johnny Sorrow would be a pretty lame villain without his primary target. He's one of those sorts of villains that works best because of the personal scary ties to a single character.

There's also no sign of Hourman, Hawkgirl, or others which I find a little anxious as well. Hawkgirl's got her own series, and future covers indicate Hourman (Rick or Rex??) will still be around, but where...I'm not sure...

The thing about this OYL story arc is that it's a very weird mix for me. When Mr. Levitz is good, he's very very good. I like his Stargirl. I like his Power Girl. I like Terrific and Green Lantern. And when he wrote Jenny, well honestly, in that brief set of scenes as a ghost, she was more likable than I *ever* remember seeing her.

Mid-Nite was good for the most part, though in the first OYL issue, he felt flat. More like Mr. Levitz was writing McNider instead of Cross. But he seemed to have settled into it an issue or so in. Which I liked.

I suppose part of my problem is really that I don't really care about the Gentleman Ghost. He's an interesting novelty naturally but when I think of great villains for the JSA, villains I'd consider to be worth spending this pre-reboot time on, well, he's not really on my list.

Mordru, perhaps, for the full circle thing with the beginning, though he's been defeated pretty recently. Obsidian's not an issue anymore, being cute and sane now. But what about Ian Karkull. I mean he's the guy who manipulated Alan Scott's son, bathed earlier JSA in neat deaging rays...definitely a long history. He also showed up in the first issue, allowing for more of a parallel.

The Ultra Humanite could have been a good choice I think. He's tricky. And you can't go wrong with Monkeys.

Failing that, I'd have really liked to have seen a villain/plot that's tied more into the history of the DCU. I mean, for me, that's when JSA works best, playing off of nostalgia. This, well, felt like a place-holder. A cute charming one, naturally, but a place holder.

In general, I like Mr. Levitz's plotting and use of character, but I thought the Ghost's flashbacks were much too long. I don't mind villain origin flashbacks that take up a good portion of a single book (see Johnny Sorrow) but when that origin starts to take up a good portion of *five* books, that's a little much. He's not that interesting a villain.

Still, the characters had some nice moments. And I liked his choice of hero. The fulfillment of the prophecy was a nice twist.

I'm not sure how I feel about the use of E-2 Batman there. On one hand, it's a nice nod to the old multiverse fans. On another, it honestly, felt a little tacked on and forced to me.

Now what does bother me is the destruction of the Brownstone. This I don't feel is much of a spoiler because it's on the damn cover. I've no intention of explaining how it happens though. Now I'm sure anyone who's read my Rebirth-destruction of Warriors rant won't be surprised that I didn't like this part. And I don't. At all.

I get why the headquarters needed to go boom in a thematic sense, but I'm bothered as well. I suppose it's a good sign actually. After 80-some odd issues of JSA, the house seems as much a character in its own right as the people inside it. There's sadness in losing it.

But I'm a little upset too. Because while the house might be "nothing more than stones and wire" to certain characters, there are others who might have more of a connection to this house. One who's parental figures lived in that house until their death perhaps? One who set up the museum in their honor?

I'd like to think there's a reason for his absense, but it still strikes me as a little cheap to destroy the Brownstone without a single panel of reaction from the man who owned/cherished it. I know it was kind of destroyed once already in Virtue and Vice, presumably rebuilt, but it still seems like the sort of thing that Sand should be there for.

Even if they do give him a reaction-flashback later, it won't be the same.

That said, now that I've got the arc in front of me, reading it in order, I'm much more appreciative of the overall structure and character moments. Mr. Levitz has a very different feel to his nostalgia than the Robinson/Goyer/Johns form I'm used to. It makes for an interesting contrast and a nice interlude. I just wish I connected to the story more.

But honestly if they ever resurrect Jade, I really hope they have Mr. Levitz write her a miniseries because the way he wrote her's fantastic really. He made Jade likable without ever really changing any of the core elements of her personality. She was still recognizable as the same woman, but...

I don't know. But he made me like her. And that's no small feat. I'd like to see him do it again.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sandman is a Dick.

I love Wes Dodds. I do. But sometimes...he can be an asshole.

He told them Sandy left town. He turned his sidekick into a sand monster and told everyone he left town!

Wes, you are a *dick*.

(scan from JLA v1 113: The Creature in the Velvet Cage)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Random Love...

I love Annuals. Annuals make for the best crack-tastic plots sometimes.

Sometimes they explain neat how pre-Morrison Klarion turned blue in one of the Demon Annuals.

Sometimes they're just the one where the three Gardner sisters have to go reclaim a family heirloom (a lantern, hah!) from the eeevil Lizzie Jordan.

Well, one of *my* personal favorites is Green Lantern Annual 6.

Basically Kyle falls into a painting and ends up wearing a loincloth and a wacky helmet...and not much else:

This is the source of my Christmas Card way back when.

Yep. I love comics.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hal Jordan is a bit of a doofus:

As seen in Creature in the Velvet Cage:

How long have you been a Lantern by now, Hal? It's not like you have a terribly complex or hard to understand weakness. It's not like you're vulnerable to an alien rock or something.

Your weakness is a primary color. Well, okay, not anymore, but back then? Your weakness was yellow. That? Is made of sand. The primary pigment in sand? *Yellow.*

Ergo, your ring+sand monster=you are dumb.

On the other hand, it's freakin' hilarious when he zaps you.

(Dude, Sand has mad rainbow skillz!)

Monday, July 03, 2006

Feelin' DAMN powerful.

That pretty much shows how I'm feeling right now.

Ragnell and I have been spying our progress reports on a few different forums and the replies have been interesting.

There's been helpful suggestions, thoughtful disagreements and explosive virulence regarding the topic.

We've been accused of taking part in "fanboy masochism". We've been accused of exercising adolescent rape fantasies. We've been accused of "raping" someone's childhood. And in one case we were even accused of endangering comics themselves by giving the censorship advocates fodder. And that's just in one thread!

This is amazing!

I mean, all we've got right now is a set of incomplete, unverified notes posted on blogs. And somehow they're provoking such fuss!

I mean...*our blogs* are apparently important enough to *endanger comics*?! Now that's an ego boost, if *I've* ever heard one.

More seriously, this knee-jerk reaction indicates that we're on the right track. If the idea gets this sort of venom during the planning stages then I can't *wait* to see what happens when everyone sees the finished product.

Announcement and Submission Call: The Feminist SF Carnival

Well folks, I'm hosting the Second Feminist SF Carnival, (go check out the first at Ragnell's Written Worlds.

Only materials written after June 29th 2006 are eligible. The deadline is July 16th. Please submit via e-mail (my alternate one is here) or by using this submission form.

The final product will go up on July 18th.

As for guidelines, they can be found here:

"* All Weblog Postings on Science Fiction and Fantasy works in all media (books, comic books, television, film, roleplaying tabletop games and video games) written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Fan fiction written from a Feminist Perspective is eligible.
* Posts about fan fiction written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Posts about conventions and fan gatherings of a Feminist nature are eligible.
* Posts about conventions and fan gatherings written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Posts about any science fiction or fantasy fandom written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Posts linking to newsand announcements are eligible, so long as they pertain specifically to the Feminist Sci-Fi Fantasy community.
* Considerations about science fiction/fantasy news from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Analysis of non-Feminist works from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Rants about any of the above written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Posts which spell “Space” using 3 A’s and two exclamation points and are written from a Feminist Perspective are eligible.
* Posts about Green-Skinned Amazons (from Outer Spaaace!) with more than two breasts that are not written from a Feminist Perspective will not be eligible (and if they aren’t damned funny,* will be reproduced for mockery).
* Posts about Getting Your Girlfriend into [specific type of fandom] had also better be damned funny. If written from a Feminist Perspective (even tongue-in-cheek), they will be eligible.

*Sexist and/or homophobic does not equal damned funny, nor does it constitute anything approaching a Feminist Perspective."

Come on folks, step right up and let's see what ya got!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Reactions to Young All-Stars 1-8

I have to admit, I bought Young All-Stars expecting it to be bad. I wanted rant material. And honestly no matter how one spins it, it still seems very odd to have cast little Sandy the Golden Boy, sidekick/ward of Wesley Dodds, the Sandman, who he dotes on and follows with only occasionally sardonic enthusiasm in the Simon/Kirby adventures...whose philosophy and techniques are heavily influenced by his time in "the Orient" the token racist.

Well, honestly, it doesn't really click for me. In fact, now that I've read the first eight issues or so, I'm quite certain the character was chosen only because Thomas wanted a relatively recognizable young sidekick character as the token racist. I'd bet he'd have chosen Robin if Crisis hadn't wiped out any chance of a Robin existing in the 1940s. The fact that he's gone to "visit Wes in the hospital" in issue eight and subsequently (from brief skimming through later ones) seemingly never to return supports this. While that attitude was indicative of the time period and shared by many, I still think it's odd that in a group of impressionable teenagers, the only one buying into the propaganda is the one with presumed experience with Asian culture.

That said, aside from the tacked-on, out of place seeming racism, Sandy was pretty well portrayed. He's mouthy, charming/sweet when he wants to be, flippant, snarky, a show-off, a brat, and a bit insecure of his own value without Wes. To give him credit, Thomas seems to understand that the racism is out of character, and puts a few points in to make it a little more understandable. The notion of Dian being killed by Nazi spies (which might have actually been in Adventure Comics 69 for all I know, but I doubt it) makes spy-paranoia presumes the rumors of her death were exaggerated as she's been seen in the DCU since, :-). And Tsunami *did* initially fight on the Japanese side.

I'm not excusing the racism of course, but it is portrayed as one aspect of the whole. It probably helps that aside from Dan the Dyna-Mite, he's the youngest of the group. Which lends to the idea that he can be taught otherwise, and also...well, let's just say there'd be an entirely different feel if, say, Iron Munro had been the racist. Being young and smaller than Tsunami helps make it more...well, more of an annoyance than a danger. Makes it easier to preserve the character's ability to be a protagonist. That said, I'm glad they resolved it early.

So anyway, Sandy wasn't my problem. The problem was everyone else. Ironically, the token racist was the *only* character in my opinion that was anything beyond a bland caricature with one or two defining traits.

Wherein I Bitch About Everyone Else Seriously:

You had Helena "We don't have elevators back in Greece!" Kosmatos, the Fury, whose sole purpose seemed to be to have scary dreams and get possessed when she gets mad. In eight issues, that's all the development she had.

You had Neptune Perkins. Which is still an incredibly stupid name. He's characterized as a complete socially inept dork in the worst way. He's, I think, the geek-wish-fulfillment kind of dork. He gets the girl in spite of his behavior (because she sees past the dorkiness or something) and never gets called on the dickier part of his actions. Yes, Sandy was being a twit and deserved a slap, but physically attacking someone *that* much younger/smaller is out of line. However, he gets a pass because it's in defense of his girl, of course! Shame he hasn't any personality aside.

Little Dan-the-Dyna-Mite has confidence issues. Which are understandable. But every panel he's in seems to be his confidence issue at work. In eight issues, there's nothing else.

Iron Munro shows the most sign of possibly developing a personality. I was intrigued by his assholishness in Manhunter. Right now he's token strong guy with a chip on his shoulder.

Flying Fox is the token mysterious shamanic native. Apparently that's enough characterization right there.

The worst though is Tsunami. Roy Thomas gets praised for introducing a Japanese-American character to the group and exploring issues of Internment Camps and racism...but honestly, there's no *character* there. She's a walking, talking PSA. That's it. Her only purpose is to explore this issue and she doesn't even have the cardboard cutout personality of the others.

She doesn't get to have any likes or dislikes. She doesn't *do* anything besides end up in the camp with her family, tirading about the tragedy, up to and including the damn "single tear falling from one eye" scene. Let me tell you something, it didn't work for me in the littering commercial, and it didn't work here. She doesn't even really defend herself against Sandy's childish jabs. It's the others who do it for her. (And again, given how racism was deeply ingrained in the culture of the time...why is *every other* young character somehow enlightened?)

When even Dan, Neptune and Iron occasionally get lines that transcend their stereotype, she never utters a line that isn't somehow reflecting of Japan, the war or the camps. Seriously.

When she saves Sandy in issue 6, and he apologizes for everything (which did actually work for me, he's very young, adaptable, and I'd bet a lot of anger had to do with Dian's death and other things Tsunami wasn't linked to...also it was worded in the awkward way of a young boy...), her response isn't trepidation, tentative acceptance, suspicion or even anger like a real character's might be. Her response is a canned After School Special speech:

"It's going to be a long war- a sad war-- but everything will be just a little better anyway if we just love one another."

But on it's own that's not so bad. I mean, race and war politics was the crux of their animosity right? So it makes sense here if a little cheesy, but it gets better.

In issue seven, there's an incredibly cute baseball benefit game between the Squadron and the Young All-Stars. It's adorable. (And without the tacked on racism, Sandy's pretty much the Simon/Kirby character in full again. I'll give Thomas credit, he writes a good Sandy.) Anyway, Iron Munro hits it, managed to atomize it, Hawkman seems to catch the atoms or something, so Wildcat and Iron are arguing with the Ump about which won...when Tsunami breaks in with:

"It seems to me that you're both losers." "What reason do you two, and your teammates, have to start a war over which of you truly won? If this benefit game shortens the real war, hasn't it achieved its purpose?"

Naturally the men are chastised. And I am irked. This sort of speechifying isn't natural, and it really doesn't add to her character!

Hell even with her boyfriend, Neptune Perkins, her dialogue still revolves around her martyrdom and the tragedy of being Japanese, "There's no use going back home, I'd just be put into a detention center with my family..."

Honestly, I commend Thomas for trying to tackle such a hard issue. And I'm not trying to say they should gloss over the tragedies and hardships for a Japanese-American in WWII. But she needs *more* than just those tragedies to define her. Every word she utters is about her family's state, the war, or Japan, and that's not really an exaggeration. In eight issues, the only think we find out about Miya Shimada the *person* is that she can't hit a baseball.

And this is wrong. She's dehumanized here. Made into the long-suffering symbol of a race of people...there's no human connection. I read her and I feel an academic distant sorrow that this happened, but I don't *feel* it. I sympathize but I don't empathize. There's nothing to connect to. Now maybe if in the process I learned that she loves the color blue, hates dogs, likes to dance, wanted to be a singer when she grew up...*something*, I'd feel more. But as it is, she's a waste of potential.

The really ridiculous thing is that my Bachelors was in *East Asian Language and Culture*. Specifically Japanese. I have a particular interest in politics and social ramifications during the second world war. The plight of Japanese Americans during that time is definitely a part of that. I should love Tsunami. I should connect with her. I should find her fascinating and her relationships fascinating. But I don't. At all. And this is due to the execution.

Stories involving racial conflict are hard to write, I understand this. But the key is to make the victim an active personality, one that is human. One that acts rather than only reacts. One in which race is an important aspect, but not all that he/she is. John Stewart is a character who's often involved in race-related storylines, but that works because he's a strong compelling character in his own right. He's a crusader. He defies authority. He lets his temper get the best of him sometimes and he can be impatient. And you know what? We knew that his first appearance. We'll soon learn more: he's an architect. He likes alien women. He's got questionable taste in music.

By the eighth issue, we could have learned so much about Tsunami by now. Think about the eighth issue of JLA. Of Teen Titans. Of Young Justice. Or any other team book and what we knew by then about the characters. No one except Sandy, of all people, can claim the same amount of exposure. (I think that's because Thomas is focusing on one trait for each character: Iron: the chip on his shoulder, Dan: the lack of confidence. In Sandy's case it's the racism, but as Tsunami's not in every one of his scenes, he actually gets the chance to show other sides...I think it might also be that he's not one of Thomas's original, so he had Kirby/Simon to fall back on.)

Where this really hurts the story is that basically we've got the racist with the more developed personality than the victim. Our racist is the active personality, which we know more about. We've seen him snarky, arrogant, bratty, sweet, competent (beating up a nazi while blinded without any trouble...a very cool moment), worried... We see her as a speech-giving martyr.

It's funny because as much as I'm pre-biased to like him and give him the benefit of the doubt. I'm also pre-biased toward covering the issue of racial struggles in America. It should balance out making me interested in both. Instead, I was far more interested in seeing him come to his senses and get over that irrational anger than I was in her struggle. It's a real problem.

And I don't like the green bikini. It looks dumb.

That said, I intend to read more. I've 13 issues left to read of what I've bought and more to track down later, maybe this'll change. I hope so. Otherwise, there will be subsequent irritated blog entries to follow.