Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A new Favorite Scene: Legion v4, #96

Since I mentioned the scene before as one of the many reasons I love Rokk Krinn, for all his occasional bitchiness, I thought I'd post the scene. Because it's cute. (Other reasons include the post-Zero Hour Machiavellian takedown of the president, because that was pretty damn awesome...been reading Post-Zero Hour stuff. :-))

Scenario: The Wedding's happened, but as they're in front of the altar, Rokk begins to morph into Garth, as he's who Imra really wants. "Garth" flies off, and Imra is forced to realize she's been mind-controlling him like a puppet for weeks.

Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22

Like I said, wakes up from a weeks-long coma to find out his best friend's been animating his body like a life-sized Ken doll, and his first decision, to get them home to reunite her with the person she really loves. Aww.

And I love how implicitly he trusts her, he *knows* she never meant to do it. It was an accident. He never even doubts it.

And to top that off, his assumption that it was Jo and Tinya getting married *finally* got those two idiots to stop angsting and tie the damn knot. :-) *Finally*.

Bitch maybe, but the guy gets results!

Rokk Krinn is *spineless*!

Literally. I found this out reading those issues for my last entry.

Here is my proof:

See! He's either completely without spine, or has like five or six more vertabrae than Earth humans do. And he has no ribcage!

Must be a Braalian thing.

Bet he's really good at limbo.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Puppet Weddings, Follow-up to On Rape 2.

A while back, I wrote an examination of the Nightwing-rape incident and why it didn't work for me. The comment-conversation wandered toward incidents of telepathic invasion as a mechanism for rape, and how differently it tended to be treated...especially if the perpetrator was a woman.

One of the examples mentioned was the Imra/Rokk courtship, almost-marriage, in Legion of Superheroes. Since I finally managed to find issues and read it, I thought I'd give my impression of it. A word to the wise, my sole experience with Legion up until now has been primarily the reboot, so I'm probably shaky with details. So if long-time Legion fans would like to correct me on details, or add their own perspectives aided by more experience with the storyline, please do!

I was surprised, but I really liked the storyline. I liked how sympathetically Imra was portrayed throughout even as she was forced to come to terms with unconsciously using her good friend in such a manner. And while the rape comparison wasn't made in regards to that relationship overtly, it was clear that Imra at least recognized the seriousness of what she'd done. (A few issues later, when Rokk is being controlled by Brainy's evil computer and she has to go into his mind to stop him, she even says how she swore she'd never touch his mind again.)

The rape element itself (regardless of whether or not there was any actual sexual content) is lowkey, but more similar I think to the Starman incident than to Nightwing. While Imra is clearly sympathetic, having not realized what she was doing at the time, Rokk was definitely not in a position to consent, seeing as how he was actually comatose at the time and being animated solely by her will. Thus it escapes any sort of the "well, he must have wanted it deep down" stigma attached to other such instances. (I'm not saying that's fair, but it's not an uncommon belief with regards to male victims, and one of the problems with the ambiguity of the Nightwing scene...)

What's interesting is, as Indicia mentions in the comic, the comparison with Dr. Psycho's invasion of Imra's mind, which *is* portrayed as more of a violation. But I don't necessarily think that the difference in portrayal has to do with gender as it does with intent. Also, it probably should be noted that Imra's primary control over Rokk came about when the latter was comatose after Dr. Psycho basically switched off his brain. Thus whatever figurative sexual assault comparison one could make with Rokk and Imra pales in comparison to the brutality of that assault. And really, given the timing, Imra's own victimhood lends an air of sympathy as this case, she might be reacting to her own assault by escaping into her fantasy with her fellow victim.

It probably helps that Rokk has no recollection of the events himself at least as of issue 100, which is the farthest I've managed to read, and seems to sympathize with Imra at least as much as the rest of the group does, Imra's harshest critic remains herself. This lets Rokk steer clear of the heavy, heavy angst that tends to plague characters like Nightwing (though I'd have probably liked a *little* more of the aftermath from his perspective, the less introspective aspects of the Legion title would have made it harder to do), which is probably a good thing over all.

And unlike in Nightwing, there *was* a payoff moment of sorts. When Imra frees Rokk from her control, and he wakes up, she confesses everything that happened between the two of them. Which was actually enough for me. In a case like Nightwing and Tarantula I would have wanted more of a condemnation than that, but in this case it was accidental, really, and enough for me that she owned up to her misdeeds, opening herself up to his possible anger (and who could blame him if he were) without ever playing the victim card herself.

And it reminded me of why Cosmic Boy's still my favorite Legionnaire in any incarnation I've read so far (awful outfits not withstanding...when you're a guy and *lavender* is probably your best fashion choice thus far in 50 years or so of're a little fashion-challenged)...yeah, he's sometimes a bit of a bitch but...

The guy wakes up from a weeks-long coma after a brutal mental attack to find everyone dressed up and Imra telling him that they were getting married, that she'd been controlling him like a puppet and probably would have perpetually if her love for Garth hadn't gotten in the way. And what does he do? He gets up and declares that he has to get to work, vowing to reunite them.

Now THAT is a good friend. :-)

But digression aside, I don't believe that Imra got away with her misdeed because she's female so much as the fact that it was unintentional, an accident, which she owned up to at first opportunity. She was forgiven by her victim, again, because of the accidental nature and their own close friendship.

It does make for an interesting read either way. Thanks for telling me about it, guys!

Random Ridiculous Realization 12:

A really short one for today. It's just...I think Rose of Rose/Thorn (the new one, preferably) and Jason Blood should date.

Because I'm a twisted, twisted person.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


How wrong is it that I think this is one of the cutest panels ever:

Aww, he's a baby! And he's breathing fire! And trying to kill his daddy! It's the cutest thing ever.

...panels like this make me think about having children. If they're not born twisted and/or evil, it'll be a waste of my genetic material. :-)

An Idle Thought: Killing in the DCU

I just reread Catwoman 52 and had a random thought about women in comics. Becareful, this contains major spoilers for Catwoman and Manhunter and Batgirl.

...Seriously, here be spoilers.

Okay, my first reaction to Selina and what happened with Black Mask was "Wow! That was hardcore! I can't believe she did it!"

I was delighted by the drama of the moment and worried about Selina's state. It was rather similar to how I felt when Diana snapped Max Lord's neck. That guy deserved what he got.

But then I had a weird thought. There were a lot of female heroes killing folk this month. Kate Spencer killed her father, Cassandra Cain kills Lady Shiva, Selina kills Black Mask...

Each time I understood and appeciated why it was done. Even admired how in each case the women were the ones who got to do it. To be "hardcore".

But then it occurred to many major female characters do we have that would NOT kill...would hesitate even if there was no other choice...very few.

But how many major male characters do we have that would NOT kill...would hesitate, yadda...Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, and so on and so forth. (A few of these might be debatable, I admit. But you get my point. :-))

On one hand, this could be a positive thing...women doing what's necessary...but then is it really?

What does it say that of the Trinity, the only character who's killed someone without a doubt (rather than been too late, or withdrew help) is the woman?

See, I actually think it might not be as progressive or feminist as some might take it.

See, I can't help but wonder if somehow it's more forgiveable for a woman to kill, especially a male victim (most of the time female characters kill, it's a man), because deep down we *still* have the idea of women as the weaker sex. Is it more forgiveable for a woman to kill a man because she is not expected to hold back? Where it's worse for a man because he *is*? (I can't really think of any occurance where a male hero ends up killing a woman in self defense...)

And as for the "hardcore" aspect...that gets disturbing too. Selina was "hardcore" for killing Black Mask. But Bruce is "hardcore" regardless. And he doesn't kill. And I can't think of any "hardcore" female character that doesn't kill.

Do female characters need to kill to be "hardcore"? Would we see a female character that refuses to kill to the point of leaving themselves open as often as Bruce, Clark, Kyle, Wally, or any of the multitude of others as equally as strong as they are? Or would we see them as "weak" and "emotional" sexist portrayals?

I'm not sure what I think about this. I thought Kate, Selina and Cass were very sympathetic. And I think Diana absolutely did the right thing with Max.

But I think I want to see a very openly non-killing female hero as well. Maybe a few. Just to broaden the spectrum.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Because it amuses me:

Anyway, so now that I have sources for 1940s slang, I have to decide what to do with it. Figured I'd use it only sporadically for local color, like bleeped out curse words.

But I do think it could be funny, occasionally, to be utterly incomprehensible.

Like in a scene like this:

A generic old-fogey hero and his chirpy young sidekick end up having to get information from a bunch of street-tough wanna-be delinquents, basically an eye-witness statement.

"So before the snitch could snap a cap, the grifter squirted metal in him!"

The hero is completely lost: "I have no idea what you just said."

The sidekick pipes up helpfully, "Before the informant could shout, the conman shot him.

Another incident, they overhear someone admitting to a crime.

"So we've got the snooper stringin' like a sucker, but turns out he has plenty enough of swift..."

"Translation?" The hero asks, annoyed.

The sidekick grins. "They tried to swindle the sleuth and he got wise on 'em."

The hero glares at him.

"Sorry, couldn't resist."


And at some point, the sidekick should chirp: "Aw, the goon's gone and done a Gooseberry lay, now we'll never find him!"

The hero will give the kid a LOOK.

"Oh, all right. I'll stop now."

I think it's funny at least. :-)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Rare non-comic post...

Been looking up 1940s slang. Because it's fun. I've been finding mostly gangster and "hardbroiled" slang (i.e. from detective novels). Which is awesome. Not quite teenage slang, but I'm sure I can find that too.

Besides, teenagers *always* want to sound street-tough, so it's not a total loss.

And it's so colorful. "Bindle stiffs" and "Eggs in the Coffee", "Highbinders" and "Alderman"...only good can come of knowing this, I truly think. :-)

Now if I were writing something involving superheroes and sidekicks in the forties, (like a period piece or flashback), one that I'd really like to use but would probably never be allowed to is "Gaycat".

Which means pretty much what you probably think it does, literally: "A young punk who runs with an older tramp and there is always a connotation of homosexuality" .

Crime-fighting hero, teenage *know* they'd have heard it. :-) Besides, maybe it wouldn't be such an old joke in the forties. :-P

Oh well, there's still a lot of useful stuff here. Yay! Now the trick'll be to watch a lot of old movies and get enough practice with it to make it sound natural. :-) That'll be a trick, in and of itself. Also to avoid the temptation to go overboard with it

...though at the right moments the complete incomprehension of the more "out of touch" characters could be decidedly entertaining...

I have a dirty, dirty mind...

See, when I first saw this cover:

My brain went to wrong wrong places.

Places that involve intricate Japanese bondage (or "Shibari"). Here's a picture for comparison. (WARNING: That photo, while a staged, "art-y" sort of photo, is still of a tied up, naked woman. Thus if you're underaged or bothered by that sort of thing, or likely to get in trouble...please don't click.)

Anyway, the resemblance is a little striking. Especially since poor only tied up by the arms. The rest is all his *normal costume*.

Sheesh, I thought Kyle's dog collar was "advertising"... :-)

(The above photo was actually taken from this photographer's website, I merely re-uploaded it for my own use.)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reactions to Green Lantern 9:

Normally I don't blog about comics the day I get them. This time I intend to. I'm even gonna learn this truncated post thing. Don't get used to it.

I'll be the first to admit, I didn't really get what Johns was doing in the new Green Lantern series. It felt like there was something missing. Hal was going through the motions. Something was off, hovering in the background.

I get it now. With 9, with the ending of the story, I completely get it. And I think it may be one of the most powerful things I've ever read. Because to me, Green Lantern 1-9 is a story about becoming human.

Spoilers Abound, Go Away

I can't really talk about Green Lantern without talking about Rebirth. I know a lot of people don't like Rebirth because they think it offers an out to Hal about all the Parallax craziness. And I've said before that I saw it differently. I saw it as Hal actually being established as the weakest of the Lanterns.

Parallax has now been in the battery since its creation. Which means that regardless of power, it has to have been trying to get out for eons...the idea that it wanted Hal because he was the most powerful is ridiculous because at that point, out would have been the only concern. It could find a more suitable host later.

No, it took Hal because Hal succumbed. Because of Coast City and Sinestro's manipulations, admittedly, but Hal did what Guy, John and Kilowog hadn't. He gave in.

Rebirth goes further though. Gradually all of the Lanterns begin to succumb...except Kyle Rayner, who combats it because he "knows fear".

A fine parallel to Hal. Hal Jordan, the Greatest Green Lantern, the man who has been without fear since his father's death. (Flight, in the Secret Files and Origins, fills in the blanks in that respect. Hal feared losing his happens, Hal has nothing else to lose...)

Johns though portrays a different ideal in Rebirth which extends into Green Lantern. Hal wasn't the Green Lantern ideal. He was a *perversion* of it as much as Sinestro (also considered the Greatest during his time) before him.

A Green Lantern's supposed to overcome fear. Hal didn't fear anything...which meant nothing to overcome.

Fear is a powerful evocative emotion. Fear is what makes us brave. Fear is what makes us strong. We fear harm, we go on regardless. We fear losing what we love, we love regardless. Fear makes us *human*.

Hal wasn't human. So he fell... Fear prepares you for the worst sometimes, when Coast City was destroyed, Hal lost everything again, and opened himself up.

Rebirth isn't the story about Hal's triumph. It's about Kyle.

Kyle's often called the most human of the Lanterns. And that's true. He's silly, self-centered, shallow, vain, melodramatic, insecure. He's also probably one of the purest and kindest characters in the DCU. His faith doesn't waver and he always forgives. He wasn't chosen for his role. He was a guy picked randomly because he stumbled out of a club for some air at just the right time. He fears a lot, often. But he keeps going.

And Kyle, symbolic embodiment of humanity, is the true hero of Rebirth.

*Kyle* discovers the evidence of Parallax.
*Kyle* pulls Hal's corpse from the sun.
*Kyle* protects it with his life, even without recourse to the ring.
*Kyle* is the only one to be able to resist Parallax.
*Kyle* appears to help Hal finally beat Sinestro.

Kyle's fear kept him resisting Parallax. His humanity brought Hal back to the light.

Hal's story though is in Green Lantern. Because Hal may be back, but he's not fixed. He's still got that same flaw that had him open to corruption via Parallax to begin with.

As of Green Lantern, Hal's still not human. He had cut himself off from his family, didn't make incredibly strong emotional bonds with anyone, and was largely going through the motions (which I complained about often).

And he ends up mind-controlled or at the mercy of telepaths how often?! Considering he's a Lantern, and thus obviously has a strong will...and Johns called attention to it very obviously in this last run of GL.

Now the 7th and 8th issue are fascinating for what they say about how Hal sees himself. Hal on some level knows that he's flawed/broken, and has been since long before Parallax.

In the fantasy, there is a Parallax, but he's being soundly defeated. Hal's father is alive, and he's close to his family. But the really fascinating part is Sinestro.

Sinestro is good, strong, wise...he's still the Greatest of the Lanterns.

Sinestro is the parallel of Hal through all this. He was considered the greatest but was inherently flawed. He's not human of course, but he's also *inhuman* as Hal is, because of a lack deep within.

Hal doesn't only dream of his own redemption, but he dreams of Sinestro's too. He understands that inherently they're the same. At the end, he goes to his family, reclaiming some of his human connections again.

And then there's Green Lantern 9.

I'd waited for 9 issues to have some real acknowledgement of Parallax and its aftermath. And it didn't disappoint.

And I don't think it was a coincidence that this was in an issue that starred Batman.

Batman in Johns's Green Lantern is the symbol of fear. In Rebirth he was shadowy and suspicious, though not without good reason. But in Green Lantern, Batman was the one reaching out to his own way.

Hal has to go along with Batman, ride in the too-small seat, (heh, poor Tim, height jokes even when he's not there), and take part in the plan to catch the guy.

But in the fight with all those tattoos...Hal's actually getting freaked a little. And when it's over, "I don't usually bleed this much on a team-up." Bleeding is another symbol of humanity.

And in the end, Hal's reaching back to Bruce as well. A Lantern and the man who embodies fear...Hal's finally becoming human.

It's the perfect ending really, before OYL. Hal's got so many possibilities ahead of him now...I can't wait to see where they take him

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Random Thoughts:

I decided to steal a blog entry idea from Mallet and write some random thoughts about comics. :-) I may expand them into actual posts someday maybe not.:

The Guardians only say they pick Lanterns based on their ability to overcome fear. It's really based on how good your ass looks in spandex.

All sidekicks have had to crossdress at some point in their careers.
-And stand on street corners.
-Thus all ex-sidekicks automatically know how to apply makeup and walk in high heels. Even Roy...*especially* Roy.

In Victorian England, some superhero was dressing his poor sidekick up like a prostitute to catch Jack the Ripper.
-And Count Dracula.
-Van Helsing totally wore spandex.
-Even if spandex wasn't invented yet.

Kyle Rayner is pretty but not incredibly bright.
-But so is Hal Jordan.
-Neither of them have probably ever crossdressed.
-But if they ever did...that would be incredibly amusing.
-I think Hal's an Autumn.
-And Kyle knows how to walk in heels.

Guy Gardner as a woman had a better rack than Power Girl.

Wesley Dodds somehow managed to seriously tick off Dian Belmont, so she and her nephew cooked an elaborate revenge scheme...that's the real reason behind the purple and gold spandex.
-Women are scary.
-As are incredibly cute sidekicks.

Speaking of Dodds's spandex, he was totally wearing a patented Ted Kord girdle for the out of shape superhero.
-Even though Ted won't be born for another thirty years.
-One of the perks of having a best friend with Time Travel.
-Van Helsing also wore one. That six-pack so wasn't natural.

The Summers Family Tree is the greatest thing Ever.
-Come on! Cyclops's dad is a Space Pirate and his step-mom's a *cat*
-One of these days, Scott Summers will fall into a time warp into the ancient past and become the father of all human kind.
-Or Mitochondria Eve.
-No, I don't know how that'd work either.
-But I bet Mr. Sinister's involved somehow.

I spent most of Todd's appearances in JSA thinking "Okay, your life sucks, get over it."
-And he seems to have.
-And I'm not sure what to make of that.
-But I think it's good.
-And he's dating a hot blond.
-Which is even better. Go Todd!

Tim Drake would make a scarier Batman than Bruce Wayne.
-Because he's not emotionally 8 years old.
-And because Bruce has been building him up to be Batman since 1990.
-And that's *never* a good sign.

Ted Grant and Sanderson Hawkins should go on a road trip. As it would be comedy gold.
-I don't know why he doesn't just go by faultline, make something up.
-They could take Courtney too.
-See above, re: Courtney's cosmic rod.
-And Jakeem
-See above, re: Thunderbolt
-Because the idea would give Alan and Jay apoplexy.
-Who besides me ever says "apoplexy" anymore anyway.

Hippolyta should come back from the dead and bitchslap the entire DCU.
-Ted Kord could help her.

Earth-2 Superman is a tool. Sorry.
-No, I'm not sorry. I stand by that.

Matrix should come back and kick this Supergirl's ass. Linda Danvers and pre-Crisis Kara could help.
-They should have switched *this* Kara with the pre-Crisis one.

Lockheed was more entertaining bitching at/with Pete Wisdom, than he ever was with Kitty Pride.
- And Moira MacTaggert and Pete Wisdom's bickering was the best part of that Excalibur run.
-You gotta love a man who wears an eye patch and convinces everyone he lost his eye just for the hell of it.
-And fakes his death as a hobby.
-And hung out with a female John Constantine. No seriously.

Jason Blood ends up gratuitously naked more often than any character in the DCU.
-And this is a damn fine thing from where I'm standing.
-Etrigan however can stay clothed.

I like the DCU comicverse better than the animated universe.
-Because of the art style.
-And because I like my Bruce Wayne batshit crazy.
-Terry McGinness is still Kyle Rayner in a batsuit though.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Favorite Panel-Manga this time:

Yeah, I've criticized manga before and I largely prefer American superhero comics.

But that doesn't mean that I don't like manga, or that sometimes, a particular creator can't really nail an evocative image.

Like this one from Jinjuu Houretsuden 11 (translates to something like Legend of the Man-Beast):

Basically one of the characters (the blond writhing one) has been brainwashed by the bad guy to believe that the dark haired one, a friend, is eeevil. Naturally, at the best dramatic moment, the control breaks:

Now THAT is how to do a deprogramming scene. You can't tell me that doesn't look fucking *excrutiating*.

If I ever write a comic with brainwashing, I'm going to have a scene like that. Seriously. I'll homage it and credit it, but I *want* that scene.

(For the record the writing is basically lines of the programming, and the biggest/thickest font, slashed vertically across the right side of the panel is the character's own speech, which translates roughly to: "Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!")

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thinking Pink:

You want to know something weird?

As a little girl, I hated being white. Well, that's not precisely the case. I hated being a white *girl*.

See, I was born in 1983, which means the era of cartoons and comics and television shows and comics I remember from my childhood stems from the late 80s and early 90s.

The thing about that period of time that I mostly recall is multi-ethnicity. Which is great, don't get me wrong.

But you know, they were almost always the same.

Let me break a random group down for you:

One (1) Boy, White, subclassification: "jock" (Athletic, capable in sports, a fighter)
One (1) Boy, White, subclassification: "geek" (The group intellectual, glasses, socially inept)
One (1) Girl, White, subclassification: "pretty" (Usually not terribly intelligent, defined by her physical attractiveness)
One (1) Miscellaneous, Black, subtype: "tough but sensible" (Not as athletic as the white boy, but with more common sense/street smarts)
One (1) Miscellaneous, Asian, subtype: "smart and calm" (Not as intelligent as the white boy, but more socially adept)

That was always the way it was. Sometimes the black kid was the boy and the asian was a girl sometimes it was the other way around. I'm not going to try to claim that the racial stereotypes weren't obnoxious or even harmful. I have to admit, it's not something I ever really considered. (I am, in terms of race, a member of the privileged majority and thus didn't really have to notice those things growing up)

But I know one thing, if we neighborhood children were ever pretending to be those characters...I always wanted to play the black or asian girl. Or the boy geek. But I was weird like that. (I prefered Tygra to Cheetara in Thundercats anyday. :-P)

I mean, yeah, it also wasn't fair to those other girls that the white girl was automatically the "pretty one". (It was also blatantly untrue in some cases where the black or asian girl was actually equally as physically attractive as the white girl), but at least the other girls could be skilled and competent.

The white girl was only there to be flirted with or a girlfriend. And she was often associated with the color pink. And I hated pink.

Yeah, yeah, people change. Deal. :-P

Anyway, yeah, usually the white girl was supposed to recognize some pure spirit or pure heart sort of bullshit and be the token love interest/crush object.

But what I always wanted to know was why couldn't the white girl be the "tough one" or the "calm one". Why couldn't the black girl, or the asian girl, be the token pretty thing to look at? Why couldn't the white girl be the jock or the geek?

For that matter, why couldn't one of the boys be "the pretty one".

(I mean, if it works for Kyle Rayner. :-P)

I just really hated growing up that the character that I was supposed to identify the most with because of similarities of race, sex, and socio-economic standing couldn't be anything more than the local bimbo. Only worth anything because of looks.

Heh, it probably helped that I was a decidedly unattractive child. (I have the sort of features that needed to be grown into, shall we say. :-)) Even though my appearanced improved a lot in later adolescence (if I do say so myself), that was much later on and didn't really help during the time when these characters were supposed to be identifiable.

Or god forbid role models.

See, I never thought Barbie was that bad. Yeah, the body standard was a little unrealistic, but I never particularly felt like I didn't measure up. Barbie was about the clothes. (and I hated clothes shopping for myself)...of course I was the sort of child that considered ball gowns "Sorceress dresses", (screw "Princess", my doll was a fucking *Queen* thank you), and broke off a ski-pole to be a sword and called paintbrushes lances... Yeah, it took a bit of imagination to turn stretch pants, knee high cowboy boots, and a motorcycle helmet into a "warrior's outfit", but well...if you're determined enough...

But those female characters...*they* were harmful growing up. Those shows convinced me that "feminity" (dresses, pink, flirting with boys and liking clothes) was mutually exclusive from intelligence and competence and being taken seriously.

Those shows created artificial hierarchies of competence, ability and attractiveness based on race and gender that were subtly re-enforced everywhere.

I think that's changing now. I do. I think there's a lot more emphasis on character first, with race and gender as aspects of the character but not the sole defining characteristics. I think people are making a conscious effort to go beyond stereotypes and have, god forbid geeks that are black or female, asians that are into sports that aren't martial arts, where being "the pretty one" doesn't mean you can't be black or asian or male and it doesn't mean you have to be incompetent or stupid either. Hell, even white boys don't have to be so strictly categorized into boxes like "the jock" or "the geek".

We're learning, I think, that labels are self imposed and that people are who they are, good at some things, not good at others, and those talents and faults are based individually not racially or sexually.

And we're learning that femininity has nothing to do with intelligence or competence.

We're learning that just because something is pink, doesn't mean that it's substance-free.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lazy today:

I'm feeling lazy and uninspired, so in lieu of an actual post of substance I'm going to post another entry for Dorian's meme. You've all seen this pic before, but pretend it's new. :-)

And in a further attempt to disguise this post as anything but the place holder it is, a decidedly unflattering pre-job interview picture of me, taken on Valentine's Day:


Yep. That's why I use the koosh ball picture instead. :-)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A Quite Disturbing Panel: Demon #0

I know it's symbolism, but that just doesn't look right.

Etrigan! I get the need for mind-wiping your insane host, but can't you give him clothes when you do?!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Now *this* looks interesting:

Paul Kupperberg's got a JSA-centered prose novel coming out, and it sounds like it'll be pretty damn cool.

Anyway, Jim Beard at SBC has this interview up.

Some quotes that are of particular interest to me:

"Geoff asked to see, for instance, some effort by Sandman, Wesley Dodds, to strengthen his relationship with Sandy, which turned into one of my favorite quiet moments in the book, set in 1945, with the two of them sitting on a bench on the boardwalk at Coney Island, just talking about stuff like Nathan’s hot dogs and their favorite baseball teams, getting to know one another a little better."


"The big surprise for me was Mister Terrific. I don’t even recall why I decided to open the book with him. I think it was because I’d come up with a good opening line that worked for him. But once I started with him, he wound up being a major thread throughout the story, both as JSA chairman and the brains of the operation.


"So, in the end, this became somewhat Michael’s book...although Jay Garrick gets to own the World War II sequence."


Okay, this sounds *fantastic* to me. First, spotlighting *both* JSA's seems like it'll be a blast, I'm always interested in the Modern Age's take on the 1940s. (JSA Returns was such fun!). Second, I was *just* bitching about how wasted Michael seems to be in JSA sometimes, and how I think he's underutilized. Also, a Wes-Sandy scene!

The only way this could be better is if Sand gets a significant role in the Modern-day stuff as well!

And best of all, it's written by a guy who really seems to know what he's writing about, unlike a certain fellow who hadn't seemed to have read any Green Lantern issue after Emerald Twilight.

He really seems to know the material, the characters, and have a great deal of enthusiasm. Best of all:

"I know the novels are not necessarily canon, but I stuck as close to the comics continuity as I could, and I hope, in the end, I’ve contributed something to the franchise."

I can't begin to express my love for this statement right now. I'm not bothered by the occasional deviation from the comics, but they should feel at least *close*. Seems like Mr. Kupperberg agrees. <3 I'm definitely going to buy this book.

Of course, if it's bad, I'm going to rant vehemently enough to make the above linked rant seem nice and diplomatic in comparison. :-) Hell hath no fury like a ticked-off fangirl. :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

JSA ranting: Chairmanship and Terrific

I love JSA lots, it's in fact my favorite comic out there right now (with JSA Classified), but I have to rant about something.

I didn't like when they gave the chairmanship position to Mr. Terrific/Michael Holt.

This isn't a slight against Mr. Terrific. I like him a lot and I think he's underused. This also isn't because Sand is my favorite character. I think that Terrific taking the chairmanship could have been an interesting storyline. But they didn't do it right.

See, I noticed something. When Sand was Chairman of the JSA, he had a lot more of a focus in JSA, this decreased sharply after he gave up the position. However, when Terrific became the Chairman, his storyline focus *didn't* actually increase. Terrific as Chairman had about the same storyline time as Sand when he *wasn't* Chairman. In fact, he had less. Sand was in primary focus during the Stealing Thunder storyline and was fairly prominent up until his "death" in issue 50. 52 had a random geologist character placing a foot in the door for the 63-64 resurrection. Then the character had some very nice scenes in the 1951-Degaton story, as well as being generally quite capable in battle. (I especially like rereading his smackdown of Mordru in 79...Fate might have ultimately had to save the day, but Sand was doing pretty damn well on his own *and* freed the others.) Sand also had a significant focus in the Secret Files and Origin issues.

Terrific got a little bit of focus in the Roulette storyline (which had as much focus on the Black Adam/Atom Smasher and Carter/Sand conlicts) and the 1951-storyline. In fact, I can't really think of any time aside from 1951 when there were captions reflecting Michael's inner monologue at all.

I like Michael, I like Michael a lot. I loved that JLA/JSA secret files issue which had him sort-of-bonding with Batman. That was a very interesting look at the character and the first time I really started connecting to him as a character...and I think it's annoying that the only real focus Michael gets is in this story and not in the 82 issues of the series itself.

And the *really* annoying thing is that before Michael got the chairmanship, being the JSA Chairman was treated like a very big deal. It might have never really been the main plot of the story, but there was a steady focus on what being chairman meant for Sand. We got to see how overwhelming it could be being essentially in charge of characters that were older and more experienced. We got to see what being the Chairman involved, like public speaking or naming a curator for the museum, other things like that.

Now maybe it wasn't treated like a big deal because Michael was better suited to it, less overwhelmed by it. That would make sense. He might be one of the less experienced members, but he's older than Sand (monster years don't count) and has more confidence/presence. But we don't really get to see that. In fact, we don't really get to see Michael *be* Chairman at all. He gets to be a good tactician and he gets to do cool stuff with the T-spheres in fights, but he did those things *before* being Chairman.

And I admit, I'm a bit of a dork, but I'd like to have seen a little bit about what the changeover-in-chairmanship meant. Terrific never volunteered for it, and was in fact replacing someone he respected, the man who initially approached and recruited him for the JSA. That had to mean something. And for all of his impressive ability, he probably wasn't as experienced with some of the administrative/diplomatic aspects of being Chairman. What about finances? Would Terrific manage the JSA finances, being Chairman, or would that still be one of Sand's duties, as initially he *had* been bankrolling them, and as far as I remember that hasn't changed. It's just something I'm curious about. Be nice to have had a throwaway line *somewhere*.

Now Terrific should be and probably is supposed to be read as a kickass chairman/leader. But I have to admit, in retrospect, I rarely get to see him as one. Even Sand had that moment in 20, when Mid-Nite uses the recorded image of Johnny Sorrow's face against him. Mid-Nite says that it was Sand's plan from the beginning. Which was a fascinating revelation to me. Asking Mid-Nite to play freakin' Russian Roulette with Johnny Sorrow's face on the off chance that his blindness would save his life (which if Canary wasn't there to give CPR, he could have died anyway). That's pretty fucking ruthless really. I can't recall a comparative instance for Michael. Which annoys me because I don't doubt the character's got it in him.

And then there's the way that Hawkman just completely took over chairmanship in Black Reign. That annoyed the hell out of me. At least when he started ignoring/overruling Sand, it was a personal attack against the kid out of anger for Kendra. He didn't even demand the position back, though it had been offered. He wasn't even going to, I think, when the team interrupted and decided to vote. In Black Reign though, he just up and declared "I'm Chairman, now." Yeah, he knew the territory and terrain better (debatably, considering his knowledge was how many centuries out of freakin' date?) but he could have acted as advisor, or even *asked* Michael to be named temporary field leader for the mission. But he didn't. His demand showed no respect for Michael, nor even for the position. It was pretty clear that Michael's input wasn't valued in this decision, even though the man's Chairman. And the other characters, except Jay and Courtney (who wanted a vote and got yelled at for it, shut up, Carter!), just went along with it. Oh well, it's not like Carter made a good showing as Chairman anyway. It was a bust all around. But he *had* shown more respect for Sand-as-chairman than Michael, and that's annoying.

What I'm really hoping is that in OYL, Terrific (and Sand, and Mid-Nite) actually gets a damn storyline. Something that lets him feel something and do something that's more than just using his T-spheres in the nick of time.

You know what was awesome, that one issue with Batman, which started with Terrific, Sand and Mid-Nite investigating a crime scene. Pieter doing the medical examining, Sand the detective/forensics work, Terrific on point doing the directing. That was pretty damn cool. I'd like a bit more of that once in a while.

I just think it's a damn shame to give an interesting and underutilized character an important position (in the process taking attention away from *another* interesting and underutilized character) and *downgrading* the position instead of giving this character a chance to shine.

Did all that crap with Hector and Lyta, the Tyler family, and Black Adam and Atom-Smasher need to take as many issues as it did? Couldn't the other characters have gotten a little time?

Oh well, I'm hoping maybe Michael, Sand and/or Mid-Nite end up in Checkmate. That'd be cool. Then they can get more attention there. Maybe if Michael's in Checkmate he'll give the chairmanship back to Sand, who'll actually get to do something in the position (and re-establish the parallel with Sorrow leading the Injustice Society). That'd work for me. Michael would suit Checkmate a lot and actually get to do things that aren't just making the T-spheres into steps to catch himself and climb back into the window he'd fallen out of...(I admit that was cool).

Or you know, they could keep him as Chairman and just make the position mean something again. That'd work too.

And give Sand and Pieter more panel time that isn't medical-examining Power Girl in her underwear, thanks! :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Favorite Scene: Identity Crisis #1

No picture this time, because there really isn't any one panel that I love so much. (Though I've always liked the art in Identity Crisis). Lots of incoherent rambling to make up for that though.

Anyway, in honor of yesterday being Valentine's Day, I decided to talk a little about a favorite "romantic" moment in comics.

See, I really really liked the beginnng of Identity Crisis. When Ralph is talking to Lorraine about his and Sue's relationship.

Over the course of the night, Ralph reveals that he always figures out ahead of time what she had planned for his birthday but he plays along because he knows how hard she worked at it. He even knows the present she's going to get him, which bemuses Lorraine immensely. That's not the part that gets to me, even though I do think it's cute that he plays along just to make her happy.

The part that always gets to me and always makes me sniffle (well, that and Butter Pecan...I might secretly be a sap. Shut up. :-P) though is when she's wrapping up the present. When she says, "My honey thinks he's so clever. And he is. Which is exactly why he'll guess the magnifying glass..."

I don't know why but that moment epitomizes true love to me. I've never bought into the "Love is Blind" idea. Infatuation makes you ignore the flaws of the object of your affections, but that's not the same as love.

To me, love is the exact opposite. Love isn't blind. Love is about knowledge Love is being able to look at someone and know exactly what an irritating, obnoxious person he/she can be. It's knowing exactly what about a particular person really sets you off and makes you twitch. It's about seeing, if not all, than at least a good portion of that person's flaws. And not caring one whit.

Because people are flawed. No one's perfect. But what makes love *love* is that when you're with this person, all of those things don't really matter so much. They're *there* of course, but in the end, it's the whole person that's important, and those irritating qualities are part and parcel.

In fact, those irritating qualities are what makes a person real. Anyone can become infatuated by a fantasy, by someone who seems utterly without flaw, but they're only setting themself up for disappointment. No one can live up to that idea. No one should have to try. Eventually that perfection will crack...and that's where the real test of the relationship comes in.

It's part of why I've always loved the Ice/Guy pairing so much. There was no way she could have ignored the...multitude of personal flaws and quirks of Guy Gardner. No human being could. It's pretty much impossible to have any sort of romantic delusion/infatuation with Guy Gardner that wouldn't be cured in a grand total of thirty-two point six seconds.

But Ice knows that this isn't all that Guy is. And these flaws just make her appreciate the rest more. I've mentioned before that one of the scenes I consider incredibly romantic is in that silly story where Guy ends up taking her to the Ice Capades. Because this is Guy Gardner. And thus, there is no man *less* suited to enjoying the Ice Capades in existance. But he goes there for her. Macho, overly-testosterone-filled Guy Gardner is actually sitting through the freakin' Ice Capades because he wants to make her happy.

There's nothing more romantic than that, to me. And what's more important, she appreciates the gesture for what it is and is touched. Because she knows he's a testosterone-filled jackass. But that just makes it sweeter, that he's willing to try to tone it down for her.

But back to this scene, that moment when she's putting the glass into the package, knowing full well that he knows what it'll be. And she probably knows that he knows about the entire mystery ahead of time too. But that's okay because she loves *him*. And that's all that's really important.

It's not "I love you in spite of your flaws." It's just plain and simple "I love you."

And so, yes, I sniffle. Hmph.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Happy Valentine:

May you have your heart's desire...if you really want it.

Happy St. Valentine's Day Everyone!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Random Ridiculous Realization 10:

Kyle Rayner is weird among all the Earth Green Lanterns, because where they'll end up bickering/clashing with one another, they all get along very well with him.

I finally figured out why.

1. Kyle is sweet and non-threatening with an inner core of quiet strength.

Ice is sweet and non-threatening with an inner core of quiet strength.

2. Kyle is clever and quick-witted, able to adapt to many odd situations.

Katma Tui is clever and quick-witted, able to adapt to many odd situations.

(They display similar creativity/fortitude in situations...for example, when she had to communicate what it means to be a Lantern to the alien guy from the place with no light/color, or when he discovered the attacking rock monsters to be actually Mogo, who'd forgotten itself, in mindless self-defense.)

3. Kyle had a split personality that was quite villainous. And he's vain and image conscious.

Rose of Rose/Thorn had a split personality that was quite villainous. And Molly is vain and image conscious.

4. Kyle is strong willed and high maintenance.

Carol Ferris is strong willed and high maintenance. And there's that thing about a split personality that was quite villainous again. :-P


Basically, I think the other Lanterns like him because he reminds them of their girlfriends. :-P

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Favorite Panel: The Demon: Driven Out #4

I like the Demon: Driven Out. A lot. The art's pretty, Jason's suitably tragic without wallowing, Etrigan's a bit more over the top with the mass-murder, but one can blame that on the repressed anger of his temporary host, lots of Japanese/Japanese-American characters and language stuff.

Even if I spent the whole issue trying to figure out if Ame's name was supposed to be Ame as in "rain" or Ame as in "candy".

But that's probably because accent/syllabary stress is something I find impossible. I can make myself *understood* pretty easily in Japan, but I'm never going to sound like a native.

Anyway for all that, there is one panel that makes me laugh my ass off: when Jason Blood ends up on the wrong end of some Japanese gangster kid's gun.

Look at that expression. Jason Blood is *pouting*. *Jason* *Blood* is POUTING. The guy who's been alive for a millenium, stuck as the host of a demon, had his mind and memories mucked with constantly, ended up tortured in *Hell* for quite a while, whose best friend aside from a blind seer is now a living *cushion*...and he's *pouting*.


Because he can't speak Japanese. Apparently, he's fine with Latin, and the Romantic or Germanic languages, and can speak anything Celtic (wonder if he could talk to Ystin then?)...but he can't speak Japanese. And thus, he pouts.


Heh. The Japanese language and culture major in me is very amused. And this close to batting her eyes at him going: "Daijoubu desu yo. Jason-san wa nihongo o hanasemasen desu keredo, watashi wa chotto hanasemasu. Tetsudatte sashiagemashou ka?"

It's a good thing he's fictional. :-)

(And ick, romanji always looks terrible. But I'll be damned if I'm going to actually take the time to figure out how to get this thing to type in kana.)

A Celebration of Guy Gardner through Scans:

James Meeley posted this which has inspired me to post this loving tribute to Guy Gardner. :-) Because I can, and because I have nothing better to do at work, with an actual internet connection (for once!)

And to punish him because he said mean things about Guy. :-P (And because how better to celebrate Guy being contrary and obnoxious than by being equally so myself! So I'm celebrating his *nice* moments! Mwahaha.)

I've blogged about my love for Guy Gardner before, and this time, I'm gonna include pictures. :-)

Admittedly, there are only two people who really get to glimpse more of Guy than is immediately apparent. Ice, who is sadly dead, and Kyle Rayner. As I have access to more scans of the latter than the former, I'm going to stick with those, maybe one of these days I'll do a sequel post for Ice.


Exhibit A: Guy Gardner apologizing...sorta... (JLA #40)

"You gotta stop taking me so seriously." From Guy, that counts as an apology.


Exhibit B: Guy Gardner expressing concern: (Guy Gardner/Warrior #28)

"No, you don't need to go through this twice." (It's a full page, so it's linked)


Exhibit C: Guy Gardner accepting teasing: (Green Lantern #82)

Guy can take as well as dish out


Exhibit D: Guy closing ranks against Roy: (Green Lantern #128)

"Sounds ta me like yer ego is bruised..."


Exhibit E: Post-Traumatic Comfort, Guy Gardner style: (Green Lantern #131)

"Makes you forget that a buncha robots just tried to turn your can into a microwave, huh?!"

See! Deep down under that asshole exterior, Guy's actually a decent guy! Well. As long as you're Kyle or Tora. (A.k.a, much younger, cute, sweet-tempered, and not a threat/rival for a position/reputation, and either a serious love interest or surrogate little brother/student...basically, you have to be Kyle or Tora) Otherwise, he's pretty much an asshole all the way through. :-P

He's still great though. :-)

(Edited to give James his proper blame. :-P)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Little Known Fact:

Etrigan (Prince of Hell, son of Belial, brother of Merlin and so on and so forth) really likes kissing.

He likes kissing women:

He likes kissing men:

He even likes kissing...himself...?

(How wrong is it that I find that last one kind of hot?)

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Favorite Panel: JSA 64:

This is one of my favorite panels in the JSA series. I'm not entirely certain why.

I think it's a bit of the gender reversal element, really. I like seeing a woman strong enough (even if it's supernaturally enhanced) to carry a guy like that. There's something fascinating about the whole dynamic.

And Power Girl just looks so amazing and strong and nurturing at the same time in there. Very feminine, if that makes sense. A woman who's strong enough to carry a man when he needs it and still seem like a woman. Her expression, her words, her breasts (:-P) she's not drawn or portrayed even remotely like a man there. And that's really nice. It's just a really nice, gender-equal image, I think.

And heck, naked-Sand, that's good too. But he needs to eat! Look at their legs! And Karen's not that big! Oh well, Ma'll make him eat, even if she has to forcefeed him to do it. She's that sort of woman. *I* wouldn't mess with her. :-)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Willingham: Fables and Robin, Why One Works And the Other Didn't

A few minor spoilers for both Fables (though nothing terribly recent) and Robin below:

This month marks the end of Mr. Willingham's run on Robin, so I thought it suitable to write this now. I am a Robin fan, have been since A Lonely Place of Dying. I've tracked down and read every Robin issue I could find, Young Justice, Teen Titans, and any and all crossovers. I've read a fair chunk of all the Batman storylines that heavily featured Tim Drake as well.

I'm only saying this because I'm going to say something almost no other Tim fan will agree with: I didn't think Bill Willingham was that bad. Mind you, I don't think he was *good* on Robin. But I don't necessarily think it was because he didn't get the character. It was a question of style. Let me elaborate:

To me, Fables is the pinnacle of Mr. Willingham's work. Everything works in that series. Every single character, with the sole exception of Jack (who got written out anyway), is incredible. Even the ones like Prince Charming, Beauty and the Beast, Little Boy Blue or King Cole, who seem largely functionless at first, gradually grow and develop into fascinatingly three-dimensional characters with surprising depths and awesomeness.

So why isn't he able to make Robin that awesome. I don't actually think it's a lack of understanding of the character actually, and I'll elaborate on that in a bit. I think it's because he was trying to use what worked in Fables in Robin. And it didn't work.

See, Fables is all about taking a pre-conceived, shallow, one-dimensional idea and deconstructing it. Fairytales and Folklore are not designed for the characters themselves so much as to impart warning or morals. Whether it's don't talk to strangers or the Wolf will eat you or don't try to shoot for above your station (how many of Grimms' Tales involve evil servant girls taking the place of the poor princesses?). The Wolf in the stories has no real characterization, but we all have this idea of him from childhood retellings of the 3 pigs or Red Riding Hood.

So from the very beginning, by making Bigby Wolf one of the head protagonists, a grizzled cop type with heavy if gruffly expressed communal and emotional ties to the community, Willingham was turning everything on its ear.

And Fables is all about people being more than they appear. Even the initially strong characters like Snow White or Bigby get moments where you realize exactly how formidable they are behind their ball-breaking bureaucrat or rough-hewn cop facades. When Snow marches straight into the rebelling farm, unexpected cavalry at her back after being chased and on the run for her life. When Bigby Wolf transforms and takes a huff and a puff to blow Goldilocks away or tells Snow White how she's the one person he can't ignore...

Then there are characters like Boy Blue and his jaunt in the Adversary's world. Prince Charming and his killing of Blue Beard for his ex-wife. King Cole and his unexpected diplomatic prowess. Each revelation is both shocking but not unfitting at the same time. It's depth, not a 180 for a character.

And the story style of Fables allowed Willingham to do this. Fables doesn't have one main character really. It has many. There's very little introspective monologue. Most of the story is expressed solely through the characters' actions and dialogue. That means there's a lot we don't see right away and a lot of room for surprise and depth.

And that's why Willingham couldn't write Robin well. Superhero solo comics are all about the introspection. They're from one character's point of view and basically takes the reader through the character's mind to get there. *Especially* for Gotham characters. Gotham characters are all about the inner monologue. The hidden feelings, the angst, the thinking through puzzles. One of the parts that always made Tim so fascinating to me was how his inner monologues never hid the fact that he was afraid, that he knew when he was outmatched, but was still always thinking of a way to even the odds and get out with his head in tact.

Now, I was saying that I think Mr. Willingham does understand the character. I maintain that. There are parts of his writing of Tim that deep down ring true. For example, he gets a lot of flack for the way Tim ended up giving up being Robin. But if you think about it, it was the only way Tim *would* have left. The "Birthday Present" didn't drive him away because in the end, Tim didn't want to give up the relationships he made. No amount of personal transgression would make Tim leave the suit as long as he still had a role to fill and people that needed him and that he needed.

The only real way for Tim Drake to leave the suit behind was if another duty superceded it. And so Mr. Willingham used what had been in Tim's character since Dixon...the conflicting loyalty to his father. (And for the record, Willingham did NOT kill Jack Drake. Brad Meltzer did. :-P If you're going to bitch about probable editorial mandate, get it right. Now he did make Leslie evil/crazy, so bitch away about that. :-P). Now the journal and badly hidden uniform was dumb. Seriously. But I can see why it was used...and in a way it even made sense. Tim didn't *want* to hide from his father and keeping the secret was a very very heavy burden. Just like with Young Justice, Tim wants to tell, but he knows Bruce's identity depends on him keeping quiet. (I *love* that Jack figured out Bruce too, though, proved Tim right all those years).

Now what would have made it work, I think, would have been a reaction caption saying something like: "I know it was stupid to keep those there. Where anyone could stumble over them. But I think...deep down, I *wanted* Dad to find them. For him to find out, without me breaking my promise."

That would, I think, have been enough to explain why an otherwise incredibly meticulous young man would be so careless. And I think that's what Mr. Willingham had in mind really, but he's not used to the need to explain it. In Fables, it wouldn't have been explained. But in this, we needed to hear why. We know Tim better than we know any of the Fables characters. Through the captions, we've been in his head, and thus we need more of an explanation for seemingly poor characterization.

The other big instance where I think Mr. Willingham's lack of introspection-technique failed him was during the whole Uncle Eddie debacle.

See, a lot of Robin fans dropped the book cold when Bruce offers to adopt Tim and the latter agrees enthusiastically. I almost did myself. What the hell was that?! Even *before* the "Birthday Present" thing, Tim didn't really trust Bruce. Not completely. He's got a completely different relationship with Bruce than either Dick or Jason did.

I mean, think about it. He became Robin because Batman was *losing* it. That's not a way to foster a good father-son relationship, nor a lot of personal trust.

And the fact that Mr. Willingham had Tim so enthusiastic about it was horrifying.

But he was building up to something, the Uncle Eddie reveal. See, if you know Fables, you might remember the Cinderella storyline, in which we are meant to believe she is a spy for the Adversary and winning someone else to her side. She's on the phone with the Adversary and reporting on her progress. But then, it's a big reveal when we find out who she's actually talking to, and why. It's mindblowingly awesome.

I think that's what the Uncle Eddie reveal was going for. That same brand of "Holy crap! He *hired* him?!"

I mean, the scheme was good. Definitely worthy of Tim. Planted evidence, hiring an actor (how'd he get the money, another question, but I'll suspend disbelief)...and all because he can't bring himself to *tell* Bruce that he doesn't want to be adopted by him.

Overly convoluted clever plot when simple honesty would have done...yep. That sounds like Tim. So where's the problem?

The problem has to do with the fact that such jolting surprise doesn't work in Robin. We're supposed to be able to peek into the hero's head, to see how he gets from A to B. His monologue when he spoke to Bruce didn't indicate he was planning something. Or even a "Not on your life." The monologue didn't indicate anything but surprise when record of an Uncle Eddie showed up. And you can't *do* that. Either Tim's got a split personality he's not aware of, or the monologues should reflect his actual thoughts/emotions. What worked in Fables doesn't work here.

I've heard fans complain that Mr. Willingham's writing Robin too much like a normal kid, rather than the tiny little freak we all know Tim Drake is. I guess I agree and disagree with that. Mr. Willingham knows Tim's freaky, and does indeed utilize that occasionally, but he utilizes it as he would in Fables...under a normal teenage facade. Whereas Tim doesn't really have a normal facade. Everyone who meets him knows he's a little off.

See, Tim's not like Batman. He's not a scary, intense, emotionally wounded guy pretending to be a normal, flighty, male socialite. He's also not really like Dick, a relatively normal (if highly skilled and charismatic) kid putting on a mask to go fight crime. He's a kid who's so into the role he's supposed to play that he's systematically carving off anything that doesn't fit. Like D&D, like computer games, like school, like friends, like family... I mean, even in the really early parts of Dixon's run, Tim tended to identify himself by his roles: "Ariana's boyfriend", "his father's son", "Robin". Steph was the only character he didn't really have a set category for, and he met her and primarily interacted with her as Robin.

Tim's been, for three years of his time, and 16 years of ours, systematically turning himself into that mask while simultaneously struggling against the inevitability of taking Bruce's place. And that's a whole other kettle of fish than what Mr. Willingham is adept at portraying.

Added to that, Fables is a story that works on slow pacing and building tension. Robin is an action series. The pacing of a Fables story doesn't work for a Gotham story.

Though, you know...if you somehow put Willingham and Devin Grayson in a blender, you might end up with a perfect Bat-family solo title writer. He's slow paced, tension building, her action/drama keeps piling on without any sort of downtime to breathe. (Bam! Nightwing loses job. Bam! Nightwing loses apartment building. Bam! Blockbuster. Bam! Tarantula. Bam! Deathstroke and mob!). He's not good at the introspection, she's overboard with it. Put them together and you get an even paced story with appropriate action levels interspersed with slower building long term drama, with characters who are just introspective enough but not overly so.


That said, I'm really looking forward to Shadowpact. See, Willingham might be a poor suit for Gotham, but this is a different kettle of fish. 1st--more characters, less need for introspection. 2nd--it's about magic. And while my knowledge of magic comes solely from a few basic ceremonial magic books from five years back, it seems to me that magic is all about symbolism and using symbols (like an athame for air) to influence the real world. Now comic magic is more overt, but I think that element is still there. That should suit his overt appearances not always being all that there is style very well.

Golden Age vs. Earth Two

I'm not gonna make this one a long rant. It's just, reading JSA today reminded me about why I really don't want the DCU to go back to "Earth-2" permanently.

See, I love the Golden Age stuff. I love the Golden Age heroes. I love the JSA.

But I like them *now*. I loved Johns's whole JSA Returns, and the Golden Age psuedo-elseworld, because what I love isn't so much the comics as they were written in the forties, but the way in which the forties are portrayed now in the comics. I love that sense of history and legacy tinged with a modern perspective.

And I like my JSA without Superman and Batman. Wonder Woman can stay...but as Hippolyta thank you, not Diana.

See, when I read this month's JSA I was disappointed. Because as necessary as the story is for IC, I don't read JSA to read about Superman and Batman...any version of them. They have Action Comics, Detective Comics, Superman, Batman, Superman/Batman, Legends of the Dark Knight, Gotham Knights and spinoffs like Supergirl, Nightwing, Batgirl and Robin.

I read about JSA for the legends. And yeah, I know that in the real forties Superman and Batman were the main heads of the team.(I've been corrected! Thanks guys, they were only the heads in the later re-interpretation of Earth-2! Which is what I really don't want returning. :-))

But I think that something's lost there. See, when I say I want more GA-flashback type stories, what I want are stories about Jay, Alan, Carter, Ted, Wesley, Sandy the Golden Boy, the Crimson Avenger, Johnny Thunder, the Spectre...

I want to see these guys shine.

I love the thought that with or without Bruce or Clark, the JSA existed and was going strong. I love seeing Alan and Carter as the head statesmen of the JSA rather than Superman or Batman. I love Jay as the warm voice of wisdom, Ted as the brawler, Wes as the detective.

In my opinion, Superman and Batman are unnecessary in this scenario. In fact, the thought of them in there permanently I feel robs what the Modern Age has given to these "lesser" heroes. (Who are only lesser when stuck in a group behind Batman and Superman).

JSA gave some great characterization to Ma, Power Girl and Earth-2 Lois Lane, I admit. But the rest...Jay had one line. I didn't see much of any of the others. None of the newbies, of course, but also really none of the old-timers who are supposed to shine there. (And *did* in the far superior Degaton-in-1951 story)

I still think this Earth-2 stuff's clearly not sticking around, the covers for the new issues have everyone on one Earth again for example. (And I'm in denial about a certain ghost silhouette looking like E-2 Batman. There might be another explanation). I don't really want these guys to remember E-2 anyway. They shine better unencumbered by that time.

And I like the JSA on regular Earth thanks, I like them having *inspired* the Silver Age JLA and Superman and Batman and company. I like the thought of Alan Scott and the Crimson Avenger inspiring Batman, not them following his lead. Besides Batman's got 14 million other books where his adventures are told, where he gets to lead and kick ass and dominate his given group. Superman too. Leave the JSA, and the prestige of being the "elder statesmen" to those that deserve it.

Oh well, I guess I'll have to wait and see. At least my three favorites are still alive and well. :-)

(Edited for Clarification: What I'm complaining about really, is the way the JSA is portrayed in multiverse stuff, mostly the seventies. And that's what I think of when I think of "Earth-2"...and what I'm afraid of happening. I really really don't want is a return to the Superman/Batman dominated era to the JSA, and that's really what Levitz's story felt like to me. :-))

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Substance Free Post:

As my birthday has just past, I've decided to take a break from opinionated essays for today and post something nice for me:

From JLA 71:

Seeing Jason Blood "perform". One of the many, many, *many* reasons I enjoy Obsidian Age so. *ogles*

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Let Batman Age!

In honor of the fact that I've officially hit 23 years old today, (Shameless plug!), I decided to post one of my favorite rants. This one'll be relatively short for one of my rants.

Why can't they let Batman age?! Superman too for that matter, but as Superman doesn't have a steady progression of aging sidekicks to keep perpetually and noticeably under 25 while their former teammates age without them, I don't mind/notice so much. But Batman, christ, they've already retconned it in Nightwing, I'm told, that Tim Drake was six at Haley's Circus instead of three, conveniently keeping Dick Grayson under the age of 25, so Bruce Wayne's youthful vigor can stay safe. (Nope, not working for me: Dick's ten years older than Tim, it's a nice even number, allowing for a quick shorthand "Robin generation gap". You can keep trying to change that, but I read A Lonely Place of Dying First, so in my head, that little freak saw the circus at age 3 and remembered the special somersault six years later. :-) Sorry, Dick should be at *least* 26 by now. And I'm sticking to that. :-P)

Anyway though, it doesn't really make any difference to Dick's character if he's 24 or 26, but the older Dick is, the harder it is to keep Bruce on the sunnier side of 40.

But *why* does Bruce need to be on the sunnier side of 40 anyway?! It's not like hitting the big 4-0 suddenly makes you not kick ass. Chuck Norris turned 40 three years before I was *born*, (technically two years and 11 months, according to IMDB but who's counting?

If Chuck Norris can continue to kick ass in his 50s and 60s, you're telling me *Bruce Wayne* couldn't at 40? You're telling me that *Batman* is less kickass than Chuck Norris?!

Besides, as Batman Beyond proves, an *octogenarian* Bruce Wayne could kick more villain ass in a minute than many young sprats could do in a day. You think he seriously needs that cane?! Maybe he does, after all a life of the physical punishment he's taken would certainly make the joints ache when it rains. But more likely he just has it to hit idiot kids with.

I want a cane for the same reason, but it'd look pretty weird. Maybe in four decades. I'll put it on my list.

Regardless, it's not like Bruce would need to look any different. Men age better than women (bastards), and a 40 year old Bruce Wayne would doubtlessly look as disgustingly dashing and handsome as ever. It'd just be a nice character moment. And maybe then Dick can finally hit 28. And Tim Drake will *finally* be legal and I can stop feeling guilty for leering at choice panels.

Anyway, yeah, I'm not asking for a big change. I'm not asking for heroes to age in real time like the rest of us. That'd be pretty fucking silly. I just think it's about time for Bruce Wayne to hit 40.

And then he can stay like *that* for another 60 years. :-)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Always Remember... (Version 2.0)

I couldn't resist one more:

Reason #456 why Warrior is vastly underrated. :-P

(As always, thanks Dorian)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Yay for Superhero trivia!

Now, I'm sure everyone's already seen these links, but I think they're pretty awesome and thus I'm promoting them:

If you ever wondered what your favorite hero's birthday is, someone's compiled a list: The DC Universe Calendar

(My mind will never stop boggling at the thought that Bruce Wayne is apparently an *Aquarius*.)

If you ever wanted to know the religious affiliations of comic book heroes:'s got a list here ripe with related creator quotes and other tidbits.

(I'm not sure why I find it amusing that Johnny Thunder is a Mormon. But I do.)

And a DCU Atlas!

As a disclaimer, I don't know how accurate these sites are, how well they've done their homework or anything like that. But they're very very cool nonetheless. :-)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

On Rape 3: Exploring the Metaphors

Telepathic invasion, mind control, technovirii, cloning, forced transformations...

These are all staples of comic book plots. And from a certain point of view (largely depending on the writer/artist/tone of the story), these can be considered comic book genre allegories of rape.

I'm not trying to trivialize the real, horrible act of sexual assault in real life by making this comparison, please don't get me wrong. However, if you examine the traditional manners of rape-stories in literature, the fictional comparison becomes a little more apparent.

It all depends on how you define "rape" of course. If you define rape as completely synonymous as sexual assault, then no, these acts can't and will never qualify as rape. However, if you look at it as an incredible violation of something that should remain sacrosanct, in a way that lacks the victim's consent, robbing him or her of their self-autonomy and will...

Well, then the comparison starts to be more valid, I think.

I mean, lets look at a very recent example: Max Lord mind-controlling Superman. It's not a sexual assault. It is an incredible violation. Clark can no longer control his own body, he's being made to fight and hurt a very close friend, he has no way to fight this influence and is powerless against this assault.

Possession and mind control aren't usually written as direct allegories for rape, but the comparison is there.

How about a different example: Kyle Rayner is kidnapped by crazy Manhunter Robots who want to take control of the Green Lantern ring. He is overpowered, injured, bound to a metal table, where they inject him with an excrutiatingly painful technovirus that is slowly turning him to a machine, so that they can use that interface to "convince" the ring that their will is his.

It's a decidedly unpleasant scene. Not sexual of course, but there is again, the element of violation (this time even a physical violation), they're intending to override his own control over his will and use him and the ring for their own purposes. It's even written as rather traumatic...for a comic book, at least. We see some aftermath, with counseling from John and cheering-up attempt from Guy. And really, given comic books' usual record when it comes to recovery/recuperation scenes from even actual sexual assaults or torture, that's pretty impressive.

So are these rape? As I said, it depends on your definition. Me? I think it could, but it depends on the writer. If a writer wanted to seriously write a story that makes the direct comparison and treats it as much like a rape as it could be, I'd read it and believe it.

You know what's interesting about this though? If you think about these occurances, particularly those involving telepathic invasion, mind control or possession. The majority of the victims are male. There are a handful of instances with females: Donna Troy, Raven for example. But 9 times out of 10, at least to me, it seems like the victim's male. (The exact reverse, I feel, to the percentages of female rape victims in comics...there's your Jack Knight or Dick Grayson, but in general...)

So what do I get from this? I'm not sure, but it does seem a little funny that the men are getting "raped" figuratively while the women are raped literally. Why is this?

I have my theories. See, I fancy myself a writer, and sometimes I write stories that involve rape and aftermath. See, rape can be a tantalizing subject for a writer I think. It's visceral and raw and emotional, the intensity and resonance is remarkable. It's a brutal act that not only effects the victim him/herself but also everyone around him/her. It's not something that should be overdone, of course, (The main problem *I* have with comics), but for something to really shake things up and reveal sides and aspects to all of the characters that would normally never be unearthed, well, yeah, I've written it. And I probably will again.

The problem with comics, I think, is that a lot of people feel the same way. And their primary audience is male, and that makes the subject of rape trickier. A mismanaged rape story involving a male character (see Nightwing 93 for example) can cause the male audience to scorn the character instead of sympathize. Can "emasculate" the character in the eyes of a male audience. Even though 1 in 10 males in America are believed to be victims of assaults, men are not raised with that proportion and possibility drummed into their heads from childhood the way women are.

In contrast, a raped female character is much easier in that respect. Male fans are more easily able to sympathize with a female victim, to understand the frustration and helplessness of her friends and family. Women naturally tend to be raised with a more personal awareness of that sort of threat, I think, so female fans aren't the problem here. Also there's not as many of us.

So the writers have a much more limited pool to choose from. Thus it gets to the ridiculous point that nearly every female character in comics has experienced some form of sexual assault/abuse.

But sometimes, you really want to explore that raw emotionality, that anger, pain, helplessness, fear and other such emotions in terms of male characters. Possession/mind control/technovirii, et al, allow for an exploration of similar emotions in a way that is divorced from sex. Thus not emasculated. Also, in each case, the character might have been made helpless to someone else's will, they were also being made into a weapon as well. Even when figuratively raped, a man is still dangerous at least.

So what does this mean? I don't really know. What should we do about it? I don't know that either. I know that I like a good story, but I'm tired of sexual abuse. I don't mind subtext occasionally, if it's well done, but honestly, it'd be nice if they decided to write the women like they write the men. The nice thing about the figurative metaphor versus the reality is that there's a lot more variation in the scenarios. Overt, textual rape plots tend to be more than a little predictable. Whereas the mind control/possession/technovirii, et al, come with a lot more and different possibilities. It's a sci-fi/fantasy universe, with a lot more potential and possibilities than are available in real life, I'd like to see more of that instead, please.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Because I'm over enamored with my own cleverness:

Over on a livejournal community, I ended up posting a response to someone stating how ironic it was that between them, Bruce is a better father than Clark.

Well, I disagreed with that. Vehemently and with far more words/effort than I probably should have. But since I rather like the post, I decided to duplicate it here for possible discussion. Because I'm an egotist and overenamored with my own cleverness.

"I'm glad someone agrees with me. I've been kind of frustrated with Clark's and Kon's relationship. It's kind of ironic to me that Batman is actually the better father."

That's not really a fair statement to make, I think. For one, Clark never chose to take on a child to begin with. He had his genetic material stolen and a child formed from it to be used against him. This is an act that I'd consider metaphorically a rape, at the very least. (Not all that different from Starman, when the Mist has sex with an unconscious Jack Knight and thus is impregnated with a baby). Clark isn't a father here, he's a victim, and the fact that he's opened his arms to Conner at all, isn't blaming him for the manner of his conception, proves he's a very big person.

And by my criteria, that statement's still inaccurate. My criteria is as follows: intention, effort and results.

In terms of intention, let's look at both for a moment. Batman's "children" are soldiers in his crusade, trained harshly and dispatched on the street in dangerously eye-catching costumes (I don't care if Dick designed it, I wouldn't let my ward go out like that) where upon they're put in incredible danger. It's not as if these kids are metahuman with the whole "With Great Powers Come Great Responsibility" thing. There is nothing these kids can do out there that a fully trained adult cannot. And they had to train a tremendous amount to get to this point as well, placing their bodies under remarkable stress, just to make them fit and able to go out every night and face people who want to hold them hostage, hurt them, torture them and kill them. And there have been casualties.

Now, what does Clark do? He gives the kid his name and sends him to Smallville. Yeah, nothing happens in Smallville, and yeah, Clark could be more of a presence in his son's life. But Clark did the best he could by placing the kid in a home with people he knew with 100% certainty could deal with raising a superpowered child with all the love and support he could need. They managed quite well with him after all. Now is this best for Kon, maybe, maybe not. But Clark's *trying*. He's got the kid where he can be guided and supported, and kept out of random danger except for when with the Titans.

I mean, it's all well and good to say that Kon was happier in Hawaii, but he was also facing dangerous situations everyday. Here he can be as protected as possible.

So in terms of intention: super soldier for your crusade vs putting a kid with a good family that you know will support and love him regardless...I can't see anyway that Superman doesn't win there.


Well, Batman *is* more of a presence in his "kids'" lives, I have to admit. Clark's got a more hands-off approach. But then *is* that necessarily a bad thing? I mean, Clark doesn't know anything about child-rearing, is very career oriented in both senses: civilian and superhero, has a career wife. They couldn't give Kon what a kid needs. And would that be fair to Lois? To raise her husband's cloned son? One that wasn't even obtained consentually?

Now Bruce gives attention to his kids, but is that a good thing? In Batgirl, Cass had a death wish because she once killed someone and that's so much against who Bruce was that she couldn't deal. Tim's suffered isolation because of Batman's long time insistence that he keep distant and secretive with Young Justice, and is under such pressure to succeed that he's basically been carving away all the parts of his personality that aren't suited for a Robin. When's the last time we saw him really relax, or play D&D with friends, or geek out over cars or computers?

In contrast, Clark's distant, but he does play a role. In Teen Titans, when Kon's skipping class, he comes and talks to him, and it's not treated like a one-time thing. It's portrayed like he comes to check on Kon a lot.

So in terms of effort: well, suffocating destructive pressure versus complex-creating hands-off-ness...I suppose they're tied really. But I figure having a few complexes is better than suicide or pathological self-dissection, so I'll give Clark this too.

And finally results: It's hard to judge this really, because the kids are still developing, but let's try:

You have Dick Grayson: a competent fighter, warm and emotional human being capable of forming bonds with many people...and is also a basket case of insecurity and uncertainty to the point where both Outsiders and Nightwing indicate he needs a lot of therapy.

Jason Todd is dead...okay, back and evil. But still.

Tim Drake's molding himself so much into the perfect partner for Batman, he doesn't really know who he is anymore. Except that he doesn't want to be Batman...which seems to be inevitable. It says something though that after the initial shock, no one was really surprised by how he turned out in Titans of Tomorrow. (And he's the only one who doesn't see Bruce as a father figure to boot)

Steph Brown is dead, another victim in Bruce's crusade.

Cassandra Cain has never had the chance for a normal life. Bruce never insisted she learn to read, or tried to keep her off the streets until she got settled into a real life. She went from being on the run from David Cain to being another vigilante who's life is all about fighting. Oracle does her best, but Batman's not biting. Cass is still incapable really of holding a job on her own, is vastly uneducated (which Bruce could have had fixed by now, he's got access to specialists all over the world). Bruce is better than David Cain...but that's not saying much. "At least he doesn't shoot her in the back" does not a good father make.

Okay, now lets look at Clark's one and only attempt: Kon feels isolated, lost, lonely. He's just discovered with an unmistakable certainty that he can be controlled and that his powers mean that he can easily kill if he's not careful.

In a sense, Kon is very much like a child of rape in the real world who's just discovered the truth behind his conception. Doubts come crashing down. It becomes: "My god, my father is a monster!" "My god, I share half my genes with a *monster*!" "My god, what if it's genetic! *I* could be like him!" "My god, my dad violated my mom!" (comedic gender shift aside, I would personally consider a lot of the crap Lex has done to Clark as a violation...not in the least creating a child to fight him) "My god, when my mom looks at me, does she see *me* or *him*?" "How can she love me at all?"

The thing is, Kon's issues if you look at them in a metaphoric sense, well, they're no different from that which most teenagers face. Most teenagers feel like no one understands them, like they're alone and don't know what they're going to do with their lives. They're resentful of authority and people who think they know better, but at the same time know they want what's best for them.

The whole thing about how dangerous his powers are is a realization that Kon had to come to somehow. As Clark undoubtedly has. When you're that powerful you could easily hurt someone. This isn't Clark's fault.

And the last bit, well, that's not so normal, but again, that's not Clark's fault. He's the victim here and he's trying his best. And Kon knows that. *That* is why Kon's got his brain so wrapped around the idea that his genes from Clark are where all of his "goodness" comes from and that he could so easily fall. Because Clark *is* good and poor Kon suffers from a lot of perceived inadequacy that it's easy to blame on "inferior genes".

So let's look at these results: emotionally tortured basket case/dead and evil/self-constructed machine/dead/unable to live a normal life vs what amounts to be a normal teenager, suffering exaggerated but still recognizeable difficulties we've all had to face. Clark wins there as well.

So by *my* criteria, I'd say hands down, Clark's the better dad.

A Coloring Error?

Well, if you've read Rann-Thanagar War right now, you probably know what I mean. There's a scene involving Alan and Jade, where he touches her face and says, "You're yourself again." (Sorry, no scans today).

I mean from context, I *think* we were supposed to get that she wasn't green anymore. She was actually white and brown-haired or whatever her original appearance had been. So it's probably a colorist screw-up.

But that got me thinking, I don't know how they really go about doing the art stuff in the industry. (I'm much more interested, usually in the writing). When they give the panel to the colorist, do they give him/her a copy of the script too?

Because honestly, just from the staging of the scene, without dialogue, I wouldn't have been able to figure out that she might (or might not) have supposed to have been a different color.

For that matter, was that even the intention. And if it was, was it in the script at all or left to be inferred. Did the colorist drop the ball, or was it other circumstances, I wonder. I mean, otherwise, I really liked the work.

I wonder how much coloring a colorist has to do a day. I mean if he/she has to do many books a day, then even if they do get scripts, it'd be really hard to keep abreast of all of them.

Of course, I've no guaranteed knowledge that it is an error. (Though I can't see any other way for Alan's line to make sense.) Maybe it's not. I mean, if it were, wouldn't editors have seen it and caught it before it went to print? Or someone else? Do the writers get to see the finished work before it prints and make any last minute alterations (i.e. if they can't make Jade not green, at least change the confusing line?)

I'd like to think the editors are very good about catching those sorts of things. I'd also like to think that writers like Mr. Gibbons are given enough leeway to re-examine the "finished product" to make some last minute adjustments. After all, comics are a funny medium. Unlike a book which is 100% yours, a comic is a collaboration of art and text. Thus no writer (unless he is also pencilling, inking and coloring as well) has 100% control over the output, and as such, he/she should be very careful about how the story they want to tell is actually told. And that includes the graphic side.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

It's all Relative, the Bitch as Literary Decoy

Okay, so I just read Rann-Thanagar War. So there might be a major spoiler or two in this essay. I'm going to try to avoid saying it directly, but it'll likely be pretty easy to guess.

So um, if you're spoiler-phobic, don't read.

Anyway, I just read RTW and I came out of it with one thought. And it's not the thought you're probably expecting (if you've read it too). My single thought was: When the hell did Donna Troy turn into such a raving bitch?

Okay, I'll be blunt here. I'm not a fan of Donna Troy. I don't really dislike her, she's just a non-entity to me. And I never quite got over her freakout about Kyle painting the naked model, because the boy's a damn artist. And anyone could see how chaste that scene actually was. But that scene aside, Donna's always been relatively sweet and inoffensive in her relationship with Kyle. And when they split, they were both relatively amicable. It had a lot to do with circumstances outside their control, her identity confusion and loss of ex-husband and child contributed to it. They made it clear since that they still cared a great deal for each other.

Let's contrast that with Jade, shall we? I've already posted criticisms of her so I won't again. But let's consider this for a moment, she goes back to Earth, stays there, is unhappy with their relationship (though he does make a special effort to keep in touch via Lianna) and cheats on him. She doesn't even have the sense to use that nice message thingy he sent her to tell him it's over. Instead he comes home to find another guy there, wants answers from her and gets slapped for his trouble.

So honestly, if anything, I would have expected their roles to be reversed. Donna's always been nicer than Jade. Jade's got more of a history of bitchiness. So why is Jade suddenly the sweet supportive one and Donna the uber-bitch?

Well, considering the ending to the comic, it's probably pretty obvious what vested interest Mr. Gibbons and company have in making Jade seem like the better woman.

You know, I've seen this tactic before. This propping up of one woman by turning another into a raging bitch. Anyone who's read romance novels and/or watched a Soap Opera has.

You see, romance novel heroines are rather infamously poorly portrayed. While there are always a few exceptions, the majority are weepy little twits that somehow manage to hold onto their virginity until their late twenties (Which by itself isn't that bad, but considering how idiocally these girls tend to fall into bed with their always very atractive "love at first sight" guy because he breathed on them, well...then it gets a little less likely). They're supposedly professional but never portrayed at actually being good at their jobs, their companies are always on the brink of ruin, while they gossip about their lovelifes to co workers and occasionally end up prostituting themselves to the boss, who just so happens to fall in love with the hapless heroines and rescue them from the squallor born from their own damn incompetence.

These women are idealized-purity embodied. Even when involved in needlessly complicated revenge schemes, espionage or some other such nonsense, they're always honest, forthright and in over their heads. If they're thieves, whores or sold to husbands, it's always for the sake of someone else...a martyred sacrifice. And of course if they're whores, they meet their true love on that very first night and he claims her from then on.

Honestly, most of these women are terrible characters. They're stupid, vapid, incompetent and unrealistic. And all the female romance novel readers I know admit this. They're intelligent women, but this is pretty much all the companies publish. They do admit though, that it starts to get decidedly implausible though, that manly idealized fantasy-men like the hero would seriously go after a twit like that.

And do the romance novelists resolve this quandary by creating well-realized and developed female characters that readers can actually cheer for on their own right rather than as cypherized audience representatives? Every romance novel reader I talk to says that it sounds like a grand idea. But do they do it? Of course not

Instead, 99% of the time, they introduce a foil. This woman is an insane caricature type stuffed full of every "negative" cliche in the book. She's promiscuous and always attempting to seduce the hero, she's manipulative and bitchy, tormenting the poor heroine in secret, she's deceitful and cold and money grubbing... Because she has to be the negative foil for the heroine, next to this woman the heroine becomes as gold as her idiotic locks of hair.

You see, it's lazy writing really. A hallmark of a lazy, bored writer who can't be bothered to introduce depth to her idiotic creation. It's also an indicator of the intolerability of your heroine. Those rare strong female heroes in romance novel do not tend to have the bitch rival. Because they don't need a negative contrast, they look fine on their own. However, the weaker your heroine is, the more monstrous the rival becomes.

So what does that have to do with R-T-W?

Well, it's not just limited to romance novels.

See, I don't blame Mr. Gibbons for this really, well, I do for the execution not the idea. I don't doubt this is editorially mandated, and he's really really good on Recharge. But he got stuck with an impossible quandary. Considering how the issue ends, I can see why he wanted a more positive portrayal of Jade.

But he didn't actually present her that way. He presented the easier option, he turned her rival into a bitch, because any other means of redeeming her would be impossible in a single issue.

But think about it for a moment...has Power Girl ever needed a bitch for a rival to look good? Kory and Barbara have both been in love with Dick Grayson for years, but I've never either need to be turned into a bitch so that one could undeniably emerge on top. That's because Dynasty aside, most adult women, even when one man is involved, aren't going to make with the screaming and fisticuffs. Kory and Barbara both have their good qualities. And their not so good qualities. And they can "compete" in a sense on equal footing. They can shine in their contrasts without events being weighted either for or against them.

See, the thing is, I think if RTW were written a little better, it could have been fantastic. Could have focused more on Jade as a character, her memories, her life. Showed things through her eyes and let the audience experience her regret and sorrow as well as the thrill of being a part of this grand plan to save the universe. I'm a sucker for POV stuff like that, (Countdown made me cry long before the gunshot), and it would have made the tragedy more meaningful.

Instead they just went with Donna-as-bitch. *sigh* Bravo.

(Oh well, as long as Recharge/GL:C is good, I'll probably forgive you anyway, Mr. Gibbons.)

And I liked the mask better when it looked green. :-) The stars look stupid.