Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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

Friday, March 31, 2006

I love GA Sandman:

So I've managed to get myself some issues of Adventure Comics, so I can read old Sandman issues from the 40s. I was a little worried I wouldn't like them, as I hated Wesley's portrayal in Creature in the Velvet Cage, for example.

I much prefered the Wesley seen in JSA flashbacks, JSA Returns and SMT to that self-centered asshole.

But I'm really enjoying these old issues. They're great! Wesley's much more like the Modern Age take on him than I expected. In these issues, he's sane, competent, and actually does worry about exposing this poor kid to such a dangerous element.

And Sandy's adorably cute and much more sarcastic than I expected. Their partnership/working relationship is, I think, much better done than the Batman/Robin 40's stuff that I read.

And Sandy doesn't end up in the hostage/burden/inconvenience position nearly as often as I expected...considering most of his compatriots' records at least. He's portrayed as much more of an asset than anything else, often catching details that Wes misses. (From the handful of issues I have, Sandy's been proven quite a bit better than Wes at catching a lot of visual clues, like the change in getaway car colors, or a little kid with stubble and a cigar...of course, that could be because Wes is near sighted. :-P)

Pretty much if Wes does leave Sandy behind, it usually doesn't work out right for him and the kid has to come to the rescue anyway. It's a nice balance.

That said, when the kid does get taken out, it usually tends to be entertaining.

Because, it doesn't ever seem to be anything ordinary. It's like getting picked up and bodily thrown out of a 10th-story window or getting whacked in the head by a rampaging Norse God, or getting sucker punched by a little person and left on the train tracks.

Just in case you think I'm exagerrating:

Okay, so he dodged and tripped, but that's kinda even worse really. :-)

I love this series.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Miscellaneous Non-Spoilery Thoughts: The Blue Beetle

Well, it was interesting. At first I was annoyed by the way they used Guy (bit too easy to choose him for that sort of role, like Hawkman), but Giffen managed to pull out an explanation that makes sense.

The premise is interesting enough, the armor and plot twists. Jaime's cute and funny. And it's neat to have a hispanic hero.

But I don't really get why this is called the Blue Beetle...

Yeah it's the Scarab, but it never did that for Dan. The powers/abilities have no resemblance to Dan or Ted...the character has no (as yet revealed) connection to Dan or Ted.

The "I'm the Blue Beetle" line came out of nowhere because Ted's never been in that position that I know of, nor has Dan. So what exactly about the situation makes the name fit...?

I just don't get why it's the scarab. Why not a brand new magic item? Why is he being pulled into a legacy that's not remotely connected to him. At least Kyle was brought very quickly into ties to Hal and Alan. What does Jaime have?

I'll keep reading for a few issues at least because it's an interesting start but I just don't get it.

And honestly, the mysterious origin plot only tends to work in a miniseries, IMO. Once you know what's going on, the rest of the series tends to feel lackluster after such a start.

Still, too quick to really judge.

And it had Guy, so I'm happy. Guy!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Things I've Learned From Comics, #452:

If you're going to tell a cute, tiny, slightly demented little sidekick he can't come along to save the city, while you're in a flying car situated about a foot away from the rooftop he's standing on, many many stories above the ground...

Make sure you've rolled up the passenger side window first.

(From JSA Returns: "A Terrifying Hour", because little Sandy Hawkins doesn't take no for an answer.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My Feminist Inspiration...or something like that:

I've mentioned how growing up, I tended to hate the image of the token white girls in children's shows. About the pink, and the prettiness, and the utter lack of substance.

Well, I have to give credit where credit is due, because there was a reason I hated these portrayals. A reason I was, even before the age of ten, frustrated with the lack of powerful portrayals of characters with my race and gender. And that's because even earlier than that, I had been lucky enough to be blessed with exposure to a cartoon show with strikingly positive portrayals of strong, intelligent and powerful women.

That cartoon show? He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Heh, I can imagine your skepticism already. The connotations of the term "He-Man", the very male oriented premise of the plot, even the existance of a token female version (who is anything but, but I'll get to her later), makes it seem like this cartoon/comic would be the antithesis of feminist inspiration.

But if you look close at it, it wasn't. There were more male main characters than female, I acknowledge, but there were quite a few females that were very prominent, very significant, and very strong. In fact, I would go so far as to say, these women all represented different feminist *ideals* in their own right.

The first is Teela, the Captain of the Guard, and probably the most prominent female character. She's young, the same age as Adam and a good friend, but despite most fans' assumptions that they will end up married some day, she is not romantically involved with him. (And I'm pretty sure he's gay. Just sayin' He spent a lot of time with Man-At-Arms, and hit it off really well with Bow, in any He-Man/She-Ra crossovers...)

Teela's Adam's bodyguard and trainer as well, and regularly proves to be a better fighter than he is when untransformed, which he never seems to have any trouble with acknowledging. While occasionally in the cartoon her relative youth was called into question, there was never *once* an issue about her gender. Never *once* did *ANY* character, evil or good, express doubts about her abilities in a martial capacity because of her femininity.

And in personality she was strong-willed and imperious, but by no definition an emasculating bitch. She nagged at Adam, yes, but out of concern and frustration, because he'd miss training that was intended to protect him. She was also sensitive, warm and caring. While she was primarily raised by a father figure, she was also portrayed as having strong emotional ties to Adam's mother, as well as female friends, and a subplot in which she searched for her mother.

So in this character, we have a young woman pursuing a career in a male dominated field (we did tend to see more male guards than female, though there were definitely females there too), strong-willed, uncompromising, but also without yielding femininity either.

The second is Marlena, Queen of Eternia, and Adam's mother. Originally, she was an astronaut from Earth, (and according to the series bible, was commander of her mission), who crash landed on the planet. They even emphasize during the episode that addresses it, that it was not pilot error, and that she would have been killed if she were anything less than a stellar pilot. She then marries Adam's father, the King of Eternia, and becomes its Queen.

Now, I've actually gotten into an argument about this character with another feminist. (We were bored). She believed that it was a negative portrayal, a career woman sublimating her own identity into that of a man's. I understand her point, but I very much disagree. Her situation parallels many women's, who choose to give up careers in order to raise a family. The operative word is *choose*. Feminism is about choice after all. And even within the Castle, she is always portrayed as her husband's equal. Warm and nurturing and more approachable, but she definitely has her own mind and will. It is implied that her less...traditional aspects, her intelligence and will and drive, were what made her so attractive to the King to begin with. Which is always a nice message for a girl too. (Rather than how many movies/books/tv shows were the girl has to lose any trace of will or independence to achieve romance).

It must also be noted that many times, Marlena is portrayed as the more reasonable and intelligent of the two rulers. And as well, while the series cast is generally split between those who know Adam is He-Man, and those who don't...Marlena is the only character from the "those who don't" camp who is implied to have figured out in an episode that the hero is indeed her son.

The Sorceress is a mixed message in terms of feminism. She is impossibly powerful, but only within the borders of her domicile. She gives He-Man his power, but she must act through him, rather than of her own will. However, an episode centering around her actually goes more into detail about who she is, how she became the sorceress and what sacrifices she made (including having a family, normal life) to get there. This episode changes her from a dubious anti-feminist image at best, to a strong woman who had made very very difficult choices and sacrifices in order to serve a greater good. It was a fascinating transition that most cartoons probably wouldn't have bothered to make. And there's something subversive about the way she chose duty over motherhood...

The villainess Evil-Lyn is also an example of a positive, well in as much as a villainess can be, female character. She is the most powerful of the villain Skeletor's allies, one that he often has to beseech to work with him, rather than order her around. She is only moderately under his command, and her role is more of a general than any sort of traditional femme fatale role. And according to the series bible, she has a complex unutilized history as well (having been the other woman scientist/astronaut on Marlena Glenn's spaceflight.)

He-Man's female counterpart, She-Ra is also given more substance than most female counterparts. She was introduced in the "movie" Secret of the Sword, as Adam's long lost twin sister, smuggled to another world and raised evil, as a general in Hordak's army.

The plot at first glance seems pretty standard, hero goes to the other world on a mission for the sorceress. With a sword very much like his own but no real knowledge of what's going on. However, instead of going with the whole hero rehabilitates villainess and rescues her, the story takes on a different form.

When he finds her first, she defeats him soundly, even though he is He-Man at the time (admittedly skillful trickery is involved), after some gratuitous bondage (Secret of the Sword was my first exposure to suggestive "twincest" too...she follows the usual He-Man villain path of chaining him spread-eagled because she can), he reasons with her, to get her to realize she's on the wrong side. Pretty standard fare really.

However, upon confronting the villain, she is brainwashed again. Puts her brother into bondage *again*, and ends up breaking through the conditioning of her own free will, without his input at all. (My memory is shaky, but he might have been unconscious or something at the time. I really hope it comes out on DVD. Seriously. It's bad and cheesy but awesome nonetheless). Anyway, she ends up saving the day, after which the two work as equal partners.

The movie was also the spinoff pilot, which probably explains why instead of being relegated to sidekick or damsel in the second part, she remains an equal partner to him. But it was still nice to see a woman and man as complete equals as I remember them being in the movie.

She-Ra as a show was more obviously feminist allegory (she ended up remaining on her adopted world, where he went home to protect their birthplace...which was a nice way to keep them acting like equals and opposites, as they continued to do in crossovers.) While there were evil female characters, they were very subservient to the leader Hordak (in contrast when She-Ra/Adora had been working for the bad guy, she had served with calm dignity and independence), all of the faceless armored foot soldiers were men. The rebellion and most of the allies met in various episodes was predominantly female. Only three or so male characters ever had prominent roles. And one had a mustasche out of 70s gay porn, with a heart motif was an archer who rode a horse named Arrow. So make of that what you will. He was pretty kickass regardless.

In some ways, I think the overt feminist allegory weakened the innate feminist inspiration that 4-5 year old me subconsciously garnered from the series though, as She-Ra's war-torn, dominated world didn't bear much resemblance to every day life. Where He-Man's Eternia, while of a mixed pseudo-fantasy setting, was more "normal", demonstrating the recognizable male privilege bias, but with strong women carving their own roles in it regardless. As it was more subconsciously recognizeable, it was more meaningful.

Regardless, as I got older, I abandoned these cartoon reruns I loved so much (I was born in 1983, so most of the episodes were long in rerun by the time I watched)...I certainly remember the embarrassment of being teased for watching "boys' cartoons" instead of Rainbow Brite or whatever the hell the other 5 year old girls were watching. I moved on to other things...joined my friends in watching the Pink Power Ranger faint, Kelly Kapowski giggle, and an endless parade of cartoons where the girl's sole purpose was to be the love interest or look pretty in a dress...

And I would look at my cousin, 8 years younger than me, and realize that this was what she'd be watching too...

And I'd remember wearing a bathing suit, tying a towel around my neck for a cape, carving the bottoms out of dixie cups to make "bracers", brandishing a stick and running around like a freakin' lunatic and driving my parents crazy... And oddly, think that I'm very lucky to have had that...

And now I have to go rent those He-Man DVDs again, and indulge my passion for awful, cheesy, campy and ridiculous because they're just that damn entertaining.

The gratuitous bondage of a barely dressed, well-oiled man in furry panties never hurts either. Heh.

Not sure what I think about this yet...

How's this for something interesting, if I don't know how accurate it is...

"Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason
Sandman Mystery Theatre is back with a brand new man taking over for Wesley Dodds. Set in the 21st century, doesn't face the grind of New York, as Dodds did. Instead, he enters the heart of the Middle East. The five-issue story, written by John Ney Rieber, with art by Eric Nguyen, arrives in October."

Not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, yay, more SMT! On another, this "brand new man" thing irks me. I'm usually pretty open to new characters, I liked Kyle, Wally, I'm not completely against Arthur Curry 2.0 or Jaime Reyes yet...but I'm also a traditionalist in some cases, and there's only one guy that should be taking over for Wesley Dodds, damnit. And he's not been "brand new" since JSA debuted. (In as much as any character originating in the forties could be considered "brand new" at ALL)

If it *is* Sand, that'd be awesome. Though the Middle East seems like an odd fit (the Far East would be a better fit, going by what they say in JSA), then again, as Diamondrock pointed out to me in AIM, there's lots of sand in the Middle East. Heh. Has the potential to be very visually striking though, with lots of "location" atmosphere...

And they'd *need* the prophetic dreams right? It's not likely that they'd just up and grab a new guy when they've got one already, criminally underused, with the proper skill set (detective abilities and dreams), and a complex interesting backstory with many pre-existing ties to Wes and Dian...Right?

Hmph, great, I'm gonna be brooding on this for *ages*. When's October gonna come around?

Monday, March 27, 2006

What Works and What Doesn't, v. 1:

It occurs to me, that there are times in comics where a particular character concept works for me in one case and utterly irritates me in another, and I've decided that I'm going to name a few and try to elaborate on why.

1. The Incompetent Female Portrayed as Less Capable than Other Colleagues (Male and Female): Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Robin IV) vs Jennie-Lynn Hayden (Jade).

Now I'm sure anyone who knows me can guess which one is the character I prefer and which one is the character I dislike, but just in case it's not obvious, I vastly prefer Stephanie Brown as a character.

Admittedly, the weaker female is a cliche in general, but I'm not gonna get into that so much. There are stronger, better women that these two are compared unfavorably to as well, so I'm not sure I'm willing yet to make the jump to an assumption that the motivation is sexist.

Besides, I don't mind incompetent characters sometimes. It's interesting to see characters make mistakes, learn and grow. And Stephanie did that, up until her death. She was never very smart (I personally didn't find the events of War Games particularly surprising or out of character...sad that she paid with her life, and it was irritating that her torture was in *Robin* of all books, but it didn't surprise me), nor did she have as much training or experience as Tim, Dick or Cassandra Cain.

But she tried, a lot. We saw her train, a lot. She trained with Tim, with Cass, with Bruce. She never gave up even when rejected by Batman, kicked out of the Birds, or anything like that. And I can respect that.

Related to that, my biggest problem with Jade isn't her bitchiness or incompetence, it's how we constantly see her screw up or perform sub par to the other characters, but she never does anything to fix it. Kyle Rayner is constantly showing her up in battle, despite his lack of experience and preparation. It makes sense though because from day one, we saw Kyle train to improve. He trained with Guy, with Alan, with the League. He specifically went out on quests to learn from fellow heroes. Admittedly, it's his book, not hers, but we never even got to see her try to train *with* Kyle.

Even in Outsiders, she takes over from Dick who's mismanaging it (though the misfortune seemed more like chance to me, when you're *searching* for something, splitting up is usually the best option), but never really got shown doing any better than he did. Which just made it pointless to me.

Meh, they're both dead anyway, but I felt sadder for Steph.

2. Wonder Girls, sidekicks extraordinaire: Cassandra Sandsmark vs Donna Troy

I've never connected much to Donna, probably because she's just too angsty. Every thing bad happens to this woman. And her backstory is flipping impossible...clone/mirror self of Wonder Woman cursed to live many lives. Why?! Why couldn't they use time travel or something to explain how she predated Diana?

Writing needs to employ a philosophical Occams Razor when it comes to backstories and explanations. Simplest is best. That's it. A character's personality can be complex, but what brought them here shouldn't. Donna's convoluted backstory isn't what killed the character, but it doesn't help her.

She doesn't have a strong personality either. She's nice...and?! She's a bitch when she's a leader...and?! Cassie on the other hand is a brat and occasionally a twit, stubborn, but pragmatic. She's Helena Sandsmark's daughter who walked up to Zeus, got powers and turned out to be his daughter. Okay. That's simple. I can follow that. She's got a strong personality, whether you like her or hate her. Okay, cool. I can deal with that.

Donna's just a loose collection of traits and tragedy that calls itself a character. Newsflash angst =/= development. Thanks.

3. Angsty Angst-Mongers: Dick Grayson (Nightwing) and Todd Rice (Obsidian)

Three months ago I would have went with Dick in a heartbeat. But somehow or another, poor Todd ended up with therapy, a new lease on life, and a hot blond thing on his arm.

I love angst, don't get me wrong, but somewhere along the way I've lost my interest in seeing characters dwell on their angst, wallowing in it. It's tedious. It's one thing if you're stoically brooding, or repressing, I can respect that. Sucking it up and getting the job done is fine, but damn if the constant self-deprecation, angst and mopiness doesn't get on my last nerve.

Todd was a bit more irritating though, as I could respect villainy, but he just wouldn't *shut up* about it. I kept wanting to be a character in the comic just so I could scream, to either of them, "Okay, your life sucks, I'm sorry. Deal with it! If it's so bad you can't suck it up, *fix* it!"

And then Todd did. When he lost his powers, got hospitalized, he actually seemed, in the brief glimpses we got in JSA, to be trying to fix it. And now in Manhunter, he has! I'd bet he still has angst, everyone does, and he certainly has reason to, but he seems to have largely put it behind him and moved on. AND he gets a hot blond out of the deal. (As well as what looks like a working partnership/friendship with the Manhunter).

Where Dick Grayson seems to be starting OYL rootless, shiftless, and banging hot redheads named Cheyenne, claiming to have disowned himself...

Well, other tastes vary, but I know personally which character I'm following with a new rapt devotion and fascination, just to see what's gonna happen with him next. And he's not even the main character of his book!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sinestro is *Everyone's* Daddy:

I had a bizarre random thought the other day: in a strange sort of way, Sinestro is the ultimate father figure in the Green Lantern mythos right now. (Albeit a scary evil father figure.)

As we see in Flight and Green Lantern, Hal's relationship with his actual father was pretty simple. (ignoring for the moment certain writers' takes that didn't correspond, I'm going to stick with current continuity whereever possible.). His father was a teacher and a mentor, taking little Hal up in the airplane so he'd learn not to fear it, patiently teaching him skills he'd need to know later in life. But Martin Jordan (an awful name by the way) is also a factor for dynamic change in Hal's life. Hal mentions in Rebirth how his father's death took away his ability to fear. And we glimpse Martin's ghost during Hal's resurrection in Rebirth as well.

Sinestro is also both a teacher and a force for dynamic change. When Hal was a Nightlight, Sinestro was his mentor, teaching him the ways of being a Green Lantern. But Sinestro was a constant force for change/maturation in Hal as well. Sinestro's machinations brought forth Parallax, leading Hal to become possessed/influenced by the Space Bug. The "Parallax" that tried to rewrite the universe and helped temporarily cure John Stewart's paralysis and grieved at Arisia's funeral was a new entity, melding of the two, that Sinestro could be considered to have created.

There is an Oedipal element to each battle with Sinestro, that constant archetypal image of the son needing to strike down the father in order to become a man. That theme recurs often in Hal's story, from when he was nearly led to rebellion against the Corps, to his battle against Sinestro in Rebirth. And it's significant, I think, that Hal's resurrection culminates in the vision of Martin Jordan, whereupon Hal, upon waking, immediately battles Sinestro.

Kyle's relationship with his father also parallels Sinestro, in a strange sort of way. It's through Sinestro's machinations that Kyle becomes the Green Lantern himself. His machinations cause Hal to become Parallax, leading to the destruction of the Corps. This then precipitated the necessity of Kyle Rayner being given the ring in an alley outside of a nightclub.

However, where Sinestro was a close, attentive, mentoring "father" to Hal (paralleling Martin Jordan), to Kyle he's a distant influence. Involved briefly with his creation in a manner that Kyle will never really understand. Aaron Rayner (or Gabriel Vasquez, if you will) was never a real figure in Kyle's life, though naturally, Maura's no Virgin Mary, so he had *some* role in Kyle's creation.

In the Ion story, Kyle finally tracks down his father and confronts him on his own terms. In Rebirth, it is much the same. While initially he is defeated and must be saved by Ollie, he then appears in the nick of time to help Hal, wherein both men are strong and triumphant.

The parallel continues for Guy. Where Sinestro paralleled Martin's role as a teacher/catalyst for Hal, Aaron's role as absentee creator for Kyle, he does the same for Roland Gardner. Gardner was both physically and verbally abusive, constantly tearing his younger son down, belittling him, beating him and otherwise crushing his spirit.

Sinestro took on the role as abuser for Guy, torturing the man and shredding his mind until the sweet, polite and gentle special-ed/gym teacher became the raving psycho we know and I love. In that sense, Sinestro had even more of a role in creating Guy-as-he-is-now, as he had in the creation of Hal or Kyle. In an even sadder part to the parallel, where Guy had always been an afterthought in his father's eyes, in the shadow of his elder brother Mace. So Guy was to Sinestro, as everything Sinestro had done to him was for the sole purpose of using him against Hal Jordan. (Now the parallels between Hal Jordan and Mace Gardner are *really* interesting, but I'll save those for another analysis.)

Another interesting element is how when Hal defeated Guy and took back his position as the Green Lantern of Earth, stripping away the latter's Lantern-status, Guy went to Sinestro's grave and stole his yellow ring, which he used quite skillfully, it must be said. In a very real sense, in Guy, Sinestro had created his own successor. A yellow ring wielder, antagonist to Hal. Even though it must be said that at his worst, Guy was never *evil* like Sinestro, just really really angry. But not all sons grow up like their fathers.

The successor element can be seen also with Katma Tui and Soranik Natu, both of whom ended up inheriting his position as Green Lantern of their sector. While I don't know anything about either's fathers, making that comparison impossible, there is the way in which a male leader of a country/nation is often considered a "father" in a sense. As the dictator of Korugar, he does become something of an evil national patriarch, which is enough to extend the metaphor.

It will be interesting to see, now that all the Lanterns *and* Sinestro are once more active, how the comparison will hold from this point forward.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Context is for the WeaK!

I was gonna write about stories and characters and how I think some could have been executed better, and the kind of stories I'd want to write if I were being paid to do it.

But I had a long night at work. So I'm gonna be lazy instead and post a gratuitously out of context panel from Masters of the Universe 8.

...oddly I feel much better now. :-)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Comics and Characters: Marketability and Niches

Over at Comic Bloc, there's a topic about which JSA member should get their own solo book. This is something I've posted about before.

For the curious, *my* opinion on the poll is here.

Anyway, it got me thinking that the popularity of a character shouldn't be a factor in whether a character gets a solo book or not. I mean, sure, it'll bring in readers from JSA, or whereever else the character originally appeared, but that's not going to be enough, and without a hook, there won't be any way to pull in a wider audience.

Let's take Mr. Terrific for example. Michael Holt is an awesome character with personal tragedy, mad skills and a busload of the coolness factor. I like him a lot. It's great when he's featured in storylines and I'm looking forward to his role in Checkmate.

But would I read a solo comic about him? Well, it'd depend on my finances that week. See, as awesome as Michael is, I'm not sure he has a hook that would really draw me to the comic every month. He's a smart guy with tech expertise and a neat costume. But...well, so's Bruce Wayne. So's Ted Kord...Barbara Gordon's also got tech expertise, even if she's a costume-less woman...even little Tim Drake might not be much of a robot-builder, but he's shown himself more than capable of hacking and detective work.

The thing is, while JSA fans would read Michael's comic, most other readers would probably gravitate toward Batman for that first. Batman's got the name recognition after all. Michael, instead, is better utilized in a group setting.

See, comic books, to me, have to offer something the others don't. DC and Marvel and Image and the rest aren't gonna pay to make two comics that are near identical when one would do. The stories have to have a notable difference and something new to offer.

Superman and Batman could have so many spinoff comics because each comic type told a different kind of story. Gotham Knights was very bat family, and then bat villain related, where Detective focused on the mysteries, and Batman proper was of course Bruce's center stage. Legends of the Dark Knight and Monster Men also tell different types of stories.

It's like...looking at group titles: JLA are the legends, they fight the big fights. JSA is closer knit, focused as much on family and legacy...they fight big fights, but they tend to be more personal. The Teen Titans are about growing up, the Outsiders were/are a bit more of a mercenary, grey-area type force...The Classifieds tell less constrained stories, often with a different tone, and only some of the same characters as the main lines...

I've heard rumors that they might bring back Infinity Inc, of sorts, which could work, I'd bet there's an audience for the soapy dramatic emotional crap.

See, the thing is, while many people read all of the titles, many just read one or two, whether their tastes run to coming of age stories or legacies or just plain grandstand heroics.

There can be so many Lantern comics because Hal's Green Lantern can do the home-based, Earth, traditional hero crises, Guy and the GLC can do their space opera/police drama thing, while god knows what Kyle's going to end up doing except that god willing it involves bondage and ripped costumes somewhere.

Comics need an audience and name recognition only goes so far. They need a tone and a genre and a direction. They can always run stories counter-type later, fun interludes that don't always fit the grand scheme, but the grand scheme is ultimately what draws a wider audience.

Going back to the JSA, for example: any one of those heroes would be a great lead character in a comic. They're all personable and appealing and cool. But the trick is figuring out what kind of comic they would end up fronting.

I picked Sand first not because I like him (though I do) but because there's a built in audience for mysteries with an occult/horror edge. It wouldn't necessarily even need a mature label, if the author went with the more subtle/cerebral understated elements of horror. And nothing with the former Golden Boy should ever be completely depressing, there should definitely be some underlying note of optimism, of making a positive difference beneath there.

In fact, it'd probably be *very* successful if they went in that direction. In the bookstores, the young adult shelves are filled with horror, mystery and fantasy. Comics that young people can enjoy are pretty rare,and a great many adults read young-adult related stories all the time. (J.K Rowling and Tamora Pierce could doubtless attest to this.) And because real horror, especially the kind of Lovecraftian stuff Sorrow is associated with, is as much about the unseen, unspoken implications as what's obviously there, a young adult direction doesn't need to impede the story at all. The adults might appreciate more of the subtleties and horrific implications, but younger readers could enjoy it too.

And best of all, there really isn't any series currently that taps into that market. Which means the possible attraction of many non-regular readers who'd enjoy that sort of horror, as *well* as regular readers of Sandman Mystery Theater and JSA who'd be attracted by the familiar name.

Mid-Nite's another one, because as the success of House and Grey's Anatomy now, as well as ER and Chicago Hope way back when, shows, people love medical dramas. And a medical drama about metahumans would be pretty nifty.

How would you diagnose a meta-human, or an alien, when you're not familiar with their particular physiology. What about battle injuries or weird unknown illnesses? Alien plagues? Ancient curses? There could be a lot of fun stories there. Could even bring in other specialists to round out a cast, psychic healers, magic users, alien scientists.

There are some fascinating elements about the DCU that don't really get explored. What does it mean to have aliens and superheroes all around, in plain sight, interacting with normal people in normal society. To know that John Stewart, the Green Lantern, and his blue girlfriend live down the hall from you. That if you go to Warriors on a Sunday Night, you might catch a glimpse of Superman or Aquaman...Magic's real, aliens are real, superpowers are real...and where Marvel's got most of those folks looked down upon or trying to blend in, DC's got a lot of 'em out and proud.

So what does that *mean*?

What does it mean for the judicial system: What happens to the supervillain once he's arrested? How is evidence collected? How do warrants work? Can a lawyer appeal on the grounds that Batman was unnecessarily brutal when he zip stripped his client and left him infront of the GCPD building?

Best part of Manhunter, I think, is the look at superhero justice. Allows for a lot of fun crossovers letting Damon hit on Carter too. Gotham Central was good for the look at police'd be fun to see more of that.

But anyway, I think the comic companies are more likely to go with characters around whom a new, interesting, and most importantly marketable franchise can be built around versus whether the character is popular or not.

Remember, Guy Gardner got his own comic after all. :-) *Twice*.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Tribute to a Fashion Disaster:

I'm enjoying the new Legion of Superheroes series. Not quite as much as the post-Zero Hour version, yet, but it's getting up there. I liked this months issue a lot, (because it never stops amusing me how a character like Rokk that usually ends up so scheming and machiavellian, keeps trying to then foist leadership off on someone else when everything's calm again)

But there is something missing about this new Legion, I've come to realize. And it finally occurred to me why. See, I don't actually tend to date Legion comics based on whether they're post crisis, post zero-hour, pre-crisis et cetera. I date them solely on one criteria: Cosmic Boy's hideous outfits. But in this version, he's actually dressed half-way sane! Which saddens me. So as a tribute to a bygone age, I present a collection of Cosmic Boy's horrible, horrible costumes.

Unveiling first, from the cover of Adventure Comics 247:

Now, what's really sad to say is that for all the pink, and the horrendous bubble head helmet thing, this is probably the best costume he has until Zero Hour. Which is sad, but true. And at least the bubble helmet provides character, or something...

Inside the same comic though, it seems that Rokk decided to ditch the bubble helmet after all:

Unfortunately, he's traded it in for wearing his name on his shirt, which is just rather tacky. And the scoop collar doesn't work withut the bubble helmet. And now we see he's wearing lavender trousers with a pink shirt...poor boy, this starts that wonderful trend in your fashion history of taking one step forward and two steps back.

However, in his appearance in very early issues of the comics, Rokk was in the habit of never wearing the same thing twice. Sadly, like in this little number from Adventure 267...perhaps he should have:

Hoo boy, I thought the pink and purple trousers were bad, but at least that had some semblance of dignity. This...this just doesn't work. Though I tell you one thing, if I were a kid back then reading this, I would have wanted a doll of Rokk. I'd dress him in pretty, frilly pink Barbie clothes. He can't look more ridiculous.

Fortunately for my sanity, by Action 267, Rokk had settled on a look that was almost workable:

Yeah, it's still a little...the black panties and the white shoulder hoop things clash, but honestly, it's got a bit more...dignity than his previous costume. This is the one he'll wear for decades, though there will be some variation in color of boots, piping, neck thing, and so on along the way. It's pink but it'll do for now.

As we see some decades later in LSH v2 204, Rokk's still wearing the same ensemble:

The black chest rectangle whatever it is has gotten a little higher, the colors have altered some as I've said, but largely the same.

Actually I just added this one for that stance. If Rokk knows nothing else, it's how to strike a pose.

As is evidenced in LSH 215, where he takes on his most infamous costume change and I devote my unending love to Mike Grell between cackles:

The odd thing is that if looked at as a progression, the outfit isn't quite that bad. Yeah, it's out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show...and yeah, it makes any image that involves Rokk on the ground with a bad guy looming over him just look wrong, but...

It's the comparison really. And it takes toughness to wear *that* in Space I reckon. Space is fucking cold. And to my shock none of the other Legionnaires even blink an eye at the costume.

Honestly, I just think Braal is one strange strange planet. And that pose makes me want to photoshop in a pearl necklace. But fortunately for us all, I can't photoshop. Too bad.

Sadly, after this entertaining if awful costume, poor Rokk plummets into outright hideousness as can be seen by this panel from LSH 294:

It's horrid. Hideous. So bad I can't even excuse it away like I can most of Dick Grayson or Ted Kord's ghastly outfits, which is that it'd look fine and dandy on a bedroom floor. Rokk's too young for that! And honestly, I don't want it near anything I own just in case it contaminates it!

Anyway, he wears this for a very long time too, until, his brother pops up and gets the pink monstrosity foisted onto him. He wears it partially white instead of black though, but as this is Rokk's fashion show, I'm not showing it.

But as we see in this panel from LSH v3 51, having little brothers can be a benefit:

BLUE! And...well, honestly, it's a bit unflattering in cut and style. But it's not the previous montrosity so I'll take what I can get. Besides, anyone looks good next to that monstrosity Polar Boy is wearing. Did he even bother to kill that animal first?

Finally after Zero Hour, we get the pinnacle in costumes, in LSH v4 62:

Somehow it manages to incorporate a lavender color scheme and all the formerly hideous black panelling and circle-disk crap in a way that actually kind of works! He still...looks like a boy much too accustomed to wearng lavender, shall we say, but it's a flattering cut and the girls seem to enjoy it.

And those dorky disk things actually have a purpose which is awesome! I was quite impressed by the use of them as a weapon. And this Rokk's the most scheming and Machiavellian so that might be why I like this one best too. I'm not unbiased. :-P

And finally, the costume from the current version (issue 8, for the specific panel):

See, it's probably the best of, flattering...but I dunno, it looks like a Star Trek jumpsuit's too sane. It should at least be pink or lavender! Or pastel, girly blue! Come on! Work with me here!

It's such a loss. :-)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Baby's First Very Wrong Panel:

Sometimes even I wonder where my strange, strange love for random homoeroticism, extremely suggestive imagery and gratuitous tearing of costumes comes from.

Then I remember being five years old and gorging myself on old He-Man and She-ra cartoons and comics and whatnot.


It really is a conundrum isn't it?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Kari Limbo is a manipulative bitch!

If you don't know who Kari Limbo is, you are a sad sad person who's not read a lot of Green Lantern Volume 2. Kari however is a blight on those largely entertaining stories.

Okay, Kari is a gypsy and psychic because you can't have a non-psychic Gypsy in comics. Because racial and ethnic stereotypes are Cool. She's an example of the worst kind of female psychic too...swooning terribly as she is "overwhelmed" by her visions. Dude, I watch the Dead Zone, and Anthony Michael Hall never fuckin' swooned. Keeled over sometimes, but not swooned. There's a difference. But I digress.

Anyway she's involved with a nice young gym teacher named Guy Gardner. Their peaceful existance is shattered when the Green Lantern himself appears to request that Guy temporarily fill his shoes. Tragedy strikes and Guy is killed (presumably) in an explosion of the power battery. (In reality, he got zapped into another dimension to be tortured by Sinestro for what was probably months...but Kari's so damn psychic that she couldn't tell until she swooned on her wedding day. Hmm.)

Now when the distraught Green Lantern comes to tell her of her loved one's fate, she has an understandable angry reaction, slapping him in the face. Now it wasn't really Hal's fault of course, but still, who can't understand that reaction.

However, what happens next is straight out of West Side Story: "You killed my brother, you bastard! Let's sing a song!"

(GL 117)

Hmph, not wasting any time here is she. Now I'm giving Hal a bit of a pass for what happens in the subsequent issues, because I think it's pretty clear she's manipulating him. And he's kind of dumb.

But if you think I'm exaggerating at the level of manipulation, check this out from one issue later...two since Guy's death:

(GL 118)

"I have feeling that this crumbler is somehow connected with the death of my beloved Guy Gardner!"

a) Broken English is annoying. Yes, she's a Gypsy, we get it!
b) Notice the wording...if it were a genuine sentiment, she'd have something like "I have feeling that this crumbler is somehow connected with Guy's death!" Almost the same, but not quite. For one, it'd actually be easier to say. For two, the use of both first and last name means that she's deliberately trying to remind him. Trying to slam Hal's head into the fact that he's somewhat culpable for the loss of her "beloved". And it's not like some weird foreign thing like Teal'c from Stargate. She's a gypsy, not an alien, and Gypsies have first and surnames too, as far as I know.

This is a deliberate attempt to poke at Hal's guilt. And it succeeds of course.

She's good too, she doesn't let up for a moment: Hal leaves her for a moment to save a guy from falling off a cliff: (from the same issue)

She forgives him again! What a saint!

Anyway, by the end of the issue, she's gone *home* with him:

I like O'Neil most of the time but damn if Hal in this scene doesn't sound as foreign as Kari does. What the hell is up with that? Proves that even "the Greats" should read their damn dialogue out loud to see if it sounds okay.

But that's a digression. Notice how she has to mention Guy's name right before she kisses him? Emphasizing her loss and Hal's role in it? Damn if she's not good.

No wonder she'll have him at the altar only a few issues later.

Where she's conveniently, *finally* realize that he's still alive. And apparently, despite being so bad a psychic as to not notice that he's been tortured for weeks/months, she can still mentally accompany Hal on his journey to save him...

Riiight. Bitch.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Random Ridiculous Realization 15 (or thereabouts)

There should be more stories with gender shifting.

And crossdressing.

Because while they tend to be dumb, I find them vastly entertaining.

Because I'm weird.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Even Polite Guy hates Batman:

In JLI, there's a part in which Guy Gardner, having been hit on the head and given *another* dose of brain damage, becomes very sweet and a childlike way.

(Basically if regular brain damaged Guy was like an angry little boy, freshly brain damaged polite Guy became a prim and proper little girl. Which is disturbing enough that I refuse to think of it again)

Anyway, polite!Guy had a nice word for everyone, but I realized something...sometimes what he said actually wasn't as nice as it seemed to be. Sometimes it was a pretty sharp insult if you think about it. Inner Guy couldn't be suppressed that much...

Like this panel: (From JLI 13)

Why there are few men on Earth more honest, more decent, than you are. Not even my own father could-- -Emphasis mine.

Now it seems like a sweet thing to say...

But is it really? Let's look at the kind of father Guy Gardner had?

Okay, hmm, considering the kid just spilled juice on his newspaper, well, it seems a bit like an overreaction, but what do I know? Might be a one time occurance. He had a bad day.

Hmm, bouncing a football off your son's head and calling him a pansy for not being able to catch it. That's a bit mean. And probably explains a lot of his personality right there.

Yeah. And this scene continues for the entire following page. I won't go into detail but well, let's just say, comparing you to his dad? NOT a compliment. In fact it means he probably HATES you.

Hee, even *Polite* Guy hates Batman. Now that's *some* strong dislike right there. When even the sweet little girl inside even the toughest of jerks hates you, that's pretty damn impressive.

(Disclaimer: I realize that it's probably just that somewhere along the line different writers have different ideas of the as-yet-unpublished parts of a character's backstory. But I like my explanation better.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

An Unpopular Opinion: Death in Comics

I have another unpopular opinion and this centers around the argument I've seen about comics that basically says, "Make Death Mean Something Again!"

And honestly, I heartily disagree. (And *Again*? Are we reading the same comics in that it ever meant something to start with?)

Yeah, it gets ridiculous when Donna Troy or Jean Grey comes back from the dead for the fourteen-millionth time. But that's *comics*. Death is but a side-step in comics. And that, I think, is what it should be. Comics are about fantasy after all. Make believe. And getting a loved one back from death is the ultimate fantasy I think. And what's wrong with that?

Death and resurrection opens the doors for a lot of interesting stories when done right. For example, the only time I've really found Oliver Queen interesting in his own right was in Quiver.

Currently there's all this buzz in DC about how death is going to stop being a revolving door. That now the door will be shut. Those you see corpses of are going to stay dead. (Even though, I don't see how shot in the head trumps getting blown to atoms in the "severity of death" column, and that didn't stop Ollie).

First of all, I cry bullshit already. You can't tell me most of the dead characters won't be back as soon as some writers and editors get a nifty story idea where they will be useful. Whether it's clones, reincarnations, regenerations, or other means, they'll be back as soon as it'll sell a book.

Second of all, if it were true, I fail to see why this is a good thing. See, I think all comic characters *should* have the dim possibility of resurrection at some point in the future. For one thing, it makes character death more palatable for folks that love that character. And every character is loved by someone. There were folks arguing frantically after IC3 that Risk didn't have to have been killed when Superboy ripped off his arm. *Risk*. When I read IC3 my sole interest in seeing Risk's arm yanked off was: "Blond man in green! Ack! Wait, no, if it were Sand, he'd have combusted and reformed. Whew." But he does have some fans somewhere. Every character does.

And if you're the fan of a less popular or less known character you know you run the risk of having that character be killed on you. Many people worried about whether Cassandra Cain would make it out of Batgirl alive. I, personally, was quite worried about whether Guy Gardner would make it out of Rann-Thanagar (thanks to that stupid Wizard Quiz). And I know Diamondrock holds out hope that Azrael will turn up wandering around amnesiac in Europe somewhere.

It's good, I guess, to have suspense for the characters...but when they actually die it's pretty cold comfort. We've grown attached to these guys and we really cling to the notion that they might come back somehow, someday. Even if it takes 20 years.

And hey, is there anything cooler right now than the possibility that that Flash that appeared at the end of IC might be Barry Allen?

Third of all, honestly, whenever someone says "And this time it's for real" about death...the story tends to suck. Killing Jason Todd (who by the way is back, and while it took me a while to warm up to the idea, seeing him in Nightwing is kind of awesome) was a brilliant idea in terms of lasting effects on the DCU but honestly, "Death in the Family" kind of sucked in execution. Had some nifty ideas but as a story...well, it could have been much better.

I'm not holding out hope for the upcoming Fantastic Four story either. It's like if they're advertizing the death of a main character like that, the shock value/emotional resonance of the death is pretty much the only draw to the book. And that should never be the *only* reason to read anything.

Besides, these advertized "and this time it's real" deaths are the first ones overturned anyway. And usually with good reason as they tended to suck.

Fourth of all, does anyone seriously buy that the "closed door of death" is ever going to apply when Donna Troy bites it again? If Hal Jordan manages to fly into a wall hard enough to knock his brains out literally, he won't be back? If god forbid someone actually had the balls to kill Diana or Bruce or Clark, they won't be back?

Nope. The "closed door of death" is going to be arbitrary as fucking ever. And that makes it pointless.

What makes Donna Troy intrinsically more deserving of resurrection than Ted Kord? Both were pretty damn useless when they were alive, on the outskirts of other peoples' books (Wonder Woman/Titans, Birds of Prey), both have rabid fans and charm. And honestly, given that he actually has a marketable code name, he could have fronted a series or mini at least as well as she could.

Why did Aquaman get to come back after Our Worlds at War, when Hippolyta stayed dead?

And if the closed door really is closed...well, the only people who'll die now at all are gonna be the Risks and the Bushidos and the Panthra's and the Wildebeests and the Freedom Fighters without name recognition, and the Titans of the East, and Cassie Cains (now that she's not Batgirl) and Ices...

And how is that any *more* suspenseful than knowing the possibility for resurrection is dancing around the corner? It's like watching the old Star knew that when Kirk, McCoy, Spock and Ensign Ricky went down to the planet, who was gonna bite it.

But see, I ended up watching the Search for Spock before the Wrath of Khan...and you know what? It lost *nothing*.

Death in literature isn't about death. It's about the living. It's about grief and mourning and love and loss. It's about funerals and stammering eulogies and sorrow and rage. It's about statues and armbands. And antagonists very briefly finding common ground in shared love for a lost one.

And even knowing Spock's gonna regrow on the Genesis planet, doesn't change the fact that when Scotty plays Amazing Grace on the fucking bag pipes, or Kirk's voice hitches on the word human, when the casket is ejected into space...

Besides, this is a universe in which we're all fine with suspending belief about Clark's glasses hiding that he's Superman, with otherwise sane people dressing up in garish costumes to live the life of vigilantes, of super-powers, aliens, gods, demons, Atlantis, Mars, and all that crap...but we can't pretend that death could occasionally be reversible?

Johnny Sorrow is a Sick Fuck, part 2...

Found this the other day, rereading through: (From JSA 16)

"Sorrow told me about your new tricks...even controlling the molecules of silica that make up your costume..."

He told Geomancer about Sand being able to manipulate his costume. The man has had *conversations* about his target/victim being able to *manipulate* his *costume*.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Johnny Sorrow is a sick, sick son of a bitch.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Musings on Heroic Deaths...

As evidenced, I've been rereading old issues of Justice League and Green Lantern. Which is fun, but I've come to a conclusion about certain heroic deaths.

They suck.


Now, I'm not against killing characters. I'm not against killing heroes. I'm not even against killing some of my favorites as I firmly believe death is (and should be) a revolving door based on the writers and editors' whims.

But the deaths of heroes, even minor heroes, *especially* minor heroes, should mean something.

Now I know people have a lot of problems with Ted Kord or Sue Dibny dying the way they did. I do too. But at least their deaths meant something. They had an impact on the DCU. Identity Crisis had some incredible ramifications, whether you like or dislike the story itself, it did set things astir very nicely. And Countdown to Infinite Crisis managed a dual blow of "something big's started" while making one realize how great the character was before killing him.

But then there are deaths that don't even have that.

I'm thinking of Katma Tui. And Tora Olafsdotter.

Now, I don't mind Katma and Tora actually dying. I don't *like* it, because I really liked both female characters, but I understand that minor characters have the element of cannon-fodder sometimes. And their deaths would have a big emotional impact, if done correctly.

But they *weren't* done correctly. Not even remotely.

The first problem is that minor heroes shouldn't be slaughtered indiscriminately just to bolster up a bad guy. That's what love interests and random family members are for. (;-)) Heroes deserve a little more respect than that. The deaths in IC against Superboy worked because it was something *huge* happening, world-wide crossover and all that. The deaths in Our Worlds At War were similar in that respect. Ted's death by Max Lord might have been an attempt to make Max into a legitimate villain, but it was also very focused on Ted himself the whole time, so it made it work.

Katma Tui was killed by the freakin' *Star Sapphire* in a tiny story in Action that didn't even keep her in character! She was a hero! She was the center of quite a few interesting stories in Green Lantern. She found and recruited the alien from the part of the universe with no light! She interacted with Hal and John as an equal, even if she wasn't the star of the comic. And she was John Stewart's wife!

You wouldn't kill Lois Lane just to show how evil Lex Luthor is. Even what-ever-the-fuck-her-name-was that Bruce dated's death ushered in the long and complex Murderer/Fugitive story arc. Especially considering Hal's own lack of a real love interest, Carol aside, she and John were a vital contrast. A wife of a hero deserves better than to be Star Sapphire's "LOOK HOW EVIL SHE IS" example. An established *hero* deserves even better than that.

Katma's death was pointless. It didn't really change anything for John (excepting possibly making him more depressing, which he didn't need, IMO) and it didn't change anything for the Star Sapphire. Katma was an important character, predating even John or Guy in the Corps, she had important interactions with Hal, a connection to Sinestro, and was just plain cool.

And she didn't really even get a nice death scene!

Tora Olafsdotter's death was also gratuitously mishandled. She did at least get to have something of a heroic self-sacrifice against the Overmaster. But still! It was the *Overmaster*! Not Sinestro, not Lex Luthor, not anyone of any real long term importance! Just a one-shot villain!

She wasn't even used in the "LOOK HOW EVIL HE IS" sense. As I don't recall the Overmaster being even remotely important since. She was just cannon-fodder. On a mission that Guy Gardner wasn't even on!

See, Tora was a quieter character than Katma. Something of a wall-flower. Even though she's got her own storylines in JLI, she was still better defined through her relationships with more outgoing and dynamic characters. (This is okay, I think, because female characters like Bea or Diana were of the more dynamic type. If Ice were the *only* female it would have been annoying, but as just one of many, it worked). Thus Ice was more defined as Bea's more sensible, quieter, naive best friend. And the woman Guy Gardner loved.

Tora and Guy's relationship was important for the effects it had on both of them. Tora was more dynamic in his company, actually getting angry and forceful on occasion. She even hit him when he deserved it. (Probably not as often as he deserved...but he likes it anyway.) Whereas she made him more human. He was still a crazy jackass, but she made him think about someone else and actually try to regulate his behavior. A little at least.

Hmm, there's a thought. After getting the yellow ring, it seemed like Guy was a lot saner/easier to work with. He wasn't *fixed* by any means, but he was a lot less cartoonish and more human already. (Which has interesting implications that I might blog about someday). I wonder if that might not have something to do with Ice's death in a behind the scenes sense...her purpose as the means to show the scraps of Gardner's humanity having lessened...I don't really like that notion...

Anyway, though, unlike Katma, Ice, for all of her Global Guardian past, was still more defined through her relationships than through her own deeds. So in killing her, one would expect the story to focus on those she loved. They should be there and their reactions are important to give her closure.

Bea is there at least, and the Justice League focuses on her reactions. But Guy? The man she loved, in spite of himself? Found out through a television announcement in his own series. He didn't get a *reaction shot* in Justice League.

And that's disrespectful I think to both of them. Because it proves once and for all that Ice's death wasn't about Ice at all. Any one of the characters could have died there for the same effect. Booster or Beetle, leaving the other in Bea's position maybe? It didn't really matter. If Ice's death were about *her* then all of her loved ones, not just Bea, but Guy and her family, and others she was close to, should have been placed in primary focus.

Her mother's grief got more respect and attention in *Warrior* than in Ice's own comic. And hell, given Guy's own general impact in that series, he should have gotten something there too. It's not like he was only in four issues or something...I wanted to see something with Bea and Guy putting aside differences and grieving *together*.

"I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League" was the first time, aside from *maybe* the Christmas issue of Warrior, that the death ever seemed to get the closure it deserved. And that's not even in continuity!

Most recently, in Rann-Thanagar War, Jennie-Lynn/Jenny-Lynn Hayden was killed as well. I didn't particularly like the character. But I thought her death was mishandled too. She did at least have the most prominent former love interest around...and her death will have an impact on her loved ones. She also was killed dramatically in a big it meant more than a

But it was still unfulfilling. She didn't really die like a hero. She didn't get to die in an act of noble self-sacrifice like Ice or Superman (temporarily), she didn't get to die with martyred dignity, clinging to her beliefs to the end, like Ted.

She died like Sue Dibny really, a victim set up to set events moving for the others around her. Which would have been okay...if she weren't a hero herself. And *heroes* aren't supposed to die like that.

She should have knocked Kyle out of the way of that blast and took it herself. Or Alan. Or Donna. Or one of the others. But she died pointlessly. And thus it was empty and unsatisfying. And Mr. Gibbons is so *good* on Recharge.

Oh well. At least it wasn't Guy or Kilowog dying instead. Though if one of Kyle's exes had to die. I'd have preferred it to be Donna. As she'd be back anyway.

A Moment of Shock for Me:

Once more I find myself intending to post something of actual substance...but I have a headache and I don't wanna.

But while rereading old JLI issues I found something mildly bemusing.

A picture in which Guy Gardner actually looks...almost...physically attractive. (Much as I like him, the personality is the real lure, I have to admit.)

I have no idea why, but...I kinda think he looks even a little hot. A little evil. But hot. (I have weird taste)

My brain hurts.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Some non-spoilery comic reactions/musings:

My comic store didn't have Teen Titans 33 today. I'm sad and sulking. The other comics were good, but I'm behind in that series and I wanted to see...[/whine]

And 34 got pushed back, darnit.

The other comics were pretty nifty though. Especially liked BoP, I doubted we saw the end of a certain minor character before, and I'm glad I'm right. :-) Nightwing was okay, Dick still does nothing for me, even with Johns writing, oh well. I was hoping he'd have gotten over some of his issues, seems not though. I'm definitely not surprised that a certain recent development fizzled. Oh well. The Annual was fun, I liked the reflection back to Young Justice, even though I much prefer the Titans portrayal of the characters.

Infinite Crisis Secret Files was disappointing. It didn't feel like a Secret Files. I guess to me, the SF&O are supposed to be little self-contained sneak peek type stories that we don't normally get to see. A little bit of "behind the scenes" feel. They shouldn't be *necessary* to read. They should be added treats.

Like the Green Lantern 2005 one. Flight was a cute story, and the other one showing how Kyle learned about Parallax was nifty. Neither story was particularly necessary for Rebirth or the current Green Lantern storyline, but they were neat to read.

Infinite Crisis felt like they just didn't feel like making the IC mini-series 8 issues long. And to be honest, I don't care about the characters well enough. I'm sure others disagree, but I wouldn't mind seeing them go far, far away. The sooner the better.

Watching Superboy Prime watching Kon was interesting, especially the notion expressed that Kon was Superboy's counterpart, for all that he's "Clark Kent." It reminded me of my own thought in Infinite Crisis 5. Earth 2-Diana Prince/Wonder Woman isn't really *Diana's* counterpart, she's Hippolyta's. Their dignity, presence, and the way they interacted with Diana is the same. I liked that.

I still want Hippolyta back.

GL:C looks like a blast...and 52 is going to eat into my wallet like mad. Should be fun though. Each subsequent cover of Ion looks better too. June's has Mogo! Can't wait!

I might post something with more substance later. Probably not.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

An Unpopular Opinion: Random thoughts about Dick Grayson

I have to confess yet another unpopular opinion.

Dick Grayson, a.k.a Nightwing, a.k.a the first Robin...does absolutely *nothing* for me.

I'll admit, he's very physically attractive (as I suddenly realized after a long time reading bat-comics thanks to Supergirl of all books), but as pretty as he is, as soon as he starts to talk, he loses me.

I don't hate the character, he's likeable and appealing enough I suppose. I liked seeing him lead in Obsidian Age. But in general, the character doesn't appeal to me.

Which is weird, because most female readers love him, in my impression. Which actually might be my problem come to think about it. He's just so blatantly...well..."fangirl bait" that I wouldn't be surprised if DC's got some giant character database that has him labeled thus so...specifically designed to appeal to female readers. He's pretty, sensitive, angsty instead of stoic, of smaller stature, more vulnerable, much much more expressive... He really seems specifically targeted toward women.

Which might be why he falls so flat to me. I find...something contrived about the character that I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe the extreme angst...or the many, many images of him moping prettily on rooftops in the rain. Or the constant "you don't love me" woe with regards to Batman.

I can't blame it on Ms. Grayson either, much as I've complained about her writing style on Nightwing. I never really cared much for the character under Dixon's pen either. Or Winick's in Outsiders.

I do tend to like him when he's being a "big brother" to Robin. The stuff with Jason in Year One, most of his appearances in Tim's line, the taking Tim train hopping in Nightwing, his concern and answering machine message in Identity Crisis.

But he's so very easily relegated to "victim". And as odd as it sounds from someone who celebrates every time a Green Lantern is tied to a table in a disappating costume, and whose favorite JSA-er was stalked by a Lovecraft-reject... It doesn't appeal to me.

It seems to me like it's really really *easy* to victimize Dick Grayson, to take things away from him, whether it's his job as Robin, his job as a cop, his job as the Outsiders' leader, to blow up his building, kill his friends, have him sexually assaulted.

It's just too easy. Like some sort of giant cliche. Dick's very open to his pain, so they just keep heaping more on. Which isn't as interesting to me as when the same thing happens to a character that *doesn't* deal with it so openly, that holds it until it explodes in some fascinating way. (Dick Grayson would never have a story like Circle of Fire.) I find repression more interesting than moping, even if moping's actually the healthier outlet...comic characters don't need to be healthy.

I think my problem really is in how *weak* he tends to be written. He's the clingy one. The needy one. The one who gets slammed the hardest when even little Tim is sucking it up. When I see images of Dick moping on rooftops, I have the same reaction I used to get with Obsidian's tirades in JSA. "Yes, your life sucks. I'm sorry for that. But *Deal With It*! Go see a shrink, therapist, bartender, priest, Alfred, it out, get the help you need, just do something that's not moping on a goddamn rooftop! It's gotten *old*!"

That's probably not a very nice reaction, but Dick's internal monologue gets *old* after a while.

But there *are* portrayals of Dick that I've liked. And oddly, both times were by folks that don't write his own comic.

I'm really liking Dick in Infinite Crisis. I like the way Johns is taking his humanity and empathy and making them into the strengths they should be, rather than only constant sources of pain. And you know, actually *resolving* at least a little, all the crap between Dick and Bruce goes a long way too.

Obsidian Age had a Dick I liked too. It was nice to see a Dick who still understood what it was to lead, and who was able to use said humanity and empathy alongside the intensity learned from Bruce to get all of the others to shut up, listen and do their jobs. It might be noted that Kelly also, if indirectly through Faith, managed to insert a bit more reassurance/warmth in the Bruce/Dick relationship too.

But it probably says something that the only portrayals of Dick that I really like aren't in the bat books at all. As he's usually written in those stories, he does nothing for me.

Oh well, more for the other fangirls.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Post for Me, not You

Was gonna write another essay, but I don't really feel like it, so I decided to post something solely for my own enjoyment:

Sand in a half-formed costume! An attractive ex-sidekick with the ability to instantly summon/get rid of his costume...

I'm easy to please. :-)

Monday, March 13, 2006

A Favorite Moment: JSA #14

A moment I found cool in JSA #14:

They're off to fight Extant, and Sand tries for some earthquake mojo and it blows up in his face pretty damn literally.

See, to me, that is incredibly cool. Most other super-powered heroes freak out or get hyper-angsty when their powers are either gone or otherwise useless. Not Sand, Sand's thought process is just: "Hmm, okay, scratch that. Where's my gun?"

And *that* is why Sand is awesome. :-)

Beau Smith and I have the same sense of humor...

I've come to the conclusion that as my subject line says: Beau Smith (specifically when he wrote Warrior) and I have the same sense of humor.

I first came to this conclusion when reading the gender shifting issue because that was damn funny to me. (I've heard some argue it was sexist, but I thought it was hilarious. I've seen more than enough gender-shifting shit, where the guy is suddenly less capable or more emotional or some utter crap just because he's in a woman's body. Guy as a woman was exactly like Guy as a man. Same abilities, same personality. And was hot. And Dementor's entire fashion show, whatever-the-fuck-it-was made me laugh so very very hard and I got the impression that it was supposed to. So yeah. I liked it, but I digress.)

But rereading through earlier issues, I caught something else that made me laugh my ass off.

See, much as I enjoy Ron Marz's work, and I don't actually mind the whole Alexandra-in-the-fridge thing, I do find Major Force's tendency to shove love interests and relatives of the heroes into kitchen appliances incredibly, darkly amusing.

I've often joked that Kyle needs a studio apartment without a kitchen, as with his girlfriend in the fridge, his mom (though she's a facsimile) in the it'll be the cat in the freezer, the dog in the microwave, the goldfish in the toaster...

Well, in Warrior, there's a crossover in which Guy Gardner finds Major Force in his kitchen. After finding out from Kyle what happened to Alex, well he goes back, horrified, expecting to find his mom in there: (From Warrior #28)

"And that's the cat sleepin' with th' ice cubes."

Beau Smith put the damn *cat* in the freezer. The CAT in the FREEZER!!!

I love that guy.

(Also, Guy's mom's name is Louise and her murdered friend is Thelma. And that makes me snicker too.)


And as a bonus: I've always thought it was funny when abrasive, obnoxious characters every once in a while didn't focus on the obvious topic for mockery and instead went with the this, from Warrior #29:

That entire sequence = funniest thing I've seen in a long damn time. Brilliant set up from "They're all just being polite. No one would..." to the look on Arthur's face at the end.

The long hair was stupid anyway. Take it from someone who'd taken swimming lessons since 6 months old or so. Unrestrained long hair is very, VERY inconvenient underwater. :-)

On John Stewart...My Perspective

Ragnell's most recent post about John Stewart made me think about my own problems with the character. And why I think it might be that he gets shoved into the sidelines.

See, I think John is definitely a three dimensional character, and he's definitely grown and changed over time and cool as Mosaic actually was, I still have trouble seeing him as a character I'd seek out to read about by himself.

I'm not against intelligent, stable and thoughtful characters mind you, (I still want a Sand comic after all), but part of what has always appealed to me about the Lanterns has to do with how they overcome their own flaws and shortcomings and come out on top through sheer force of will. Lanterns aren't supposed to be the smartest, strongest, or stablest in my opinion. That's what makes it awesome when Kyle Rayner holds a supernova in a safe construct for example.

John has flaws too, but they're not really utilized enough, so it doesn't have as much impact when he overcomes them. Heck, as Ragnell points out in her post:

"John is the first character personally selected by the Guardians. The intention may have been to show that this was standard practice, but it's the first time we've seen it"

In his first story, John's specifically chosen by the Guardians where Hal was chosen by circumstance, Guy because he had been the other circumstantial choice and Hal needed a stand-in, and Kyle was just randomly in the alley. The story's all about how Hal has all these mistaken assumptions about John and has to get over them...which is pretty good character growth for Hal...but not for John. John's the one in the right. And ever since, John's almost always been pretty damn solid, a better flier than Hal, more focused than Kyle, saner/stabler by far than Guy...

But see, I guess my problem with John is most highlighted in Recharge 5. Not because of anything John did or didn't do...

But because I think the single coolest moment I've seen in a GL comic, possibly EVER, was Guy Gardner leading the entire Corps in the Lantern Oath. Because this was Guy Gardner, the barbarian, the jackass, the joke. He'd ultimately shown a lot of growth through Warrior and Kyle's GL run, but as a Green Lantern, he was the black sheep, renegade, trouble maker, whose sole purpose often seemed to be competition and negative contrast to Hal.

But now he's *leading* the entire Corps (Kyle and Hal included) in the Oath. And they're following, they're inspired and it's awesome. Because it's something he'd never have been able to do before.

The others could manage something almost that cool, (probably not THAT cool, because that recognition is something the character had sought throughout almost all of his existance, but still almost as cool)...

Hal began as a slightly racist, sexist moron. He overcame these qualities, but remained a klutz and a dork with almost no common sense (he leaves the ring *behind* to go flying!), and is very susceptible to mind control. So if he does something that requires a great feat of overcoming mind control, or something athletic that doesn't result in him hitting his head on something...well, that's automatically twice as cool as if anyone else does it.

Kyle started off as a silly self-centered newbie. He's grown over time, matured, but honestly, he's still not the brightest bulb in the box. Now imagine if for whatever reason, no one else was able to solve some puzzle or riddle...something intellectual, but of all people, *Kyle Rayner* was the one to figure out the answer through sheer luck and determination...well, that'd be pretty damn kickass.

But what really could John do to compare to that sort of thing. Given the flaws John can he overcome them in a way as awesome as the twit Kyle Rayner solving a puzzle, the mental taxi-cab Hal Jordan pushing away mind control, or Guy Gardner, who spent most of the Bwa-Ha-Ha Justice League and Hal's v.3 run as a freakin' *cartoon*, leading the entire Corps in an oath.

It's not fair really. I mean, Guy can spend the rest of his comic existance being a competent, kickass leader and it will never stop being cool because we are constantly reminded by his past and his general personality where he came from. Kyle can be mature and reasonable and confident, and we'll remember him as the newbie he was and admire the growth. Hal's got a multitude of problems he's working out now, which will keep him being interesting to read.

But what does John have that quite compares?

I think that's why he doesn't get written as often, because writers have a tough time getting a handle on what could make John Stewart an enthralling character. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes...and when he does, they're like the destruction of Xanshi, or his sister's death, the kind that are so horrible they can only be overcome and moved beyond...there's no real learning from that. It's the other three that really get to make the stupid, silly, to be learned from mistakes.

And that's not fair.

It's not like John's faults couldn't be exploited satisfactorily either. We know he's always had something of a Crusader personality...he's mellowed some, but that spirit is still there. He can be very arrogant. He can be over-defensive.

Raab's Green Lantern storyline had a lot of problems, but the one thing I thought was interesting was his portrayal of John and Merayn's relationship. And her unhappiness and lack of direction, and how much her lack of self-sufficiency on Earth bothered her. They never really talk about it though, and when she leaves him, she leaves a note. That at least implies that John's not the most sensitive fellow, and that he's got something of a blind spot for things that don't fit his world view.

He's very structured and organized, and less likely to fall into idiot-traps than the other three, but that probably also makes him less adaptable. That fault could be exploited a lot too.

I really hope that a writer who knows how to do this and has interest in doing this ends up getting his or her hands on John. I want to see John portrayed in a way that makes me interested in seeing him for him, not just advising Kyle, admonishing Guy or bringing Hal fucking coffee.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hal Jordan *still* fails at First Aid:

Love you Hal. 3rd Favorite Lantern and all, but...


Remember how I said that you didn't understand backboarding?

Right, anyway, the point of backboarding is to immobilize the head/neck to keep the spinal cord nice and stable. It's done in the case of a head, neck or back injury (like being smacked straight on by a school bus, for example) to prevent further injury.

And from this next page:

A stretcher is a good idea, Hal, sweetie...but a *pillow*?! For the guy that just took a BUS TO THE BACK.

*sigh* It's a good thing you're hot, Hal.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Kid Eternity visits a Familiar Tailor...

Look, I don't care what crap you try to sell me about Kid Eternity's white bodysuit. I've *seen* his bodysuit. But no matter what you say, in this panel of JSA 1:


That is all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Random Ridiculous Realization #14:

Ganthet is an evil genius.

Way back when, Ragnell posted this. Basically a look at how Guy was the scariest person in the universe because of his friendship with Kyle. The Guardians love (loved? Who knows what's happening in Ion yet) Kyle. They've let him get away with things that would have gotten other Lanterns expelled, his disobeying direct orders in the R-T miniseries merely led to Kilowog gently guiding the boy out of battle, and they greeted him with adoration when he appeared in the audience chamber in Recharge.

And the thing is, Kyle's humble enough to never realize how much they love him. He'll never be in the position to abuse that regard because he's never gonna notice it exists, and if he were aware of that special treatment he'd refuse it.

But Guy noticed (even remarked on it a few times) and Guy is/was Kyle's partner. Which means that like in Ragnell's post, he could stretch that influence to get away with pretty much *anything* with just a slap on the wrist. And Guy is both perceptive enough to notice and would totally abuse it if he felt it were necessary...or amusing.

Now at the beginning of Recharge, I'd thought that it was going to end up with Guy as an instructor sort and Kyle as something akin to the Commander of the Lantern Corps. And if Guy were in a position that's easily abused *before*, as one of the closest friends of the young, sweet and always forgiving Commander...?

Nothing in the universe would be safe.

But Recharge didn't go that way. It ended with Guy stepping up, taking charge, using his own brand of...unique charisma, and his innate understanding of people (which, of all the Earth Lanterns, he's actually best at. That's how he's able to piss off so many people with so little effort :-P) to take charge and inspire.

And the Guardians made *Guy Gardner* the first of the Honor Guard. Which seems to mean, *he* is going to be a Commander in the Corps.

And as frightening as that's a brilliant stroke.

Guy takes being a Lantern seriously. He also takes his role as a mentor seriously. He's always been good with Kyle. He used to be a teacher and a social worker. And if you pay attention to his behavior in Recharge, you'll notice that most of the outright jackass commentary is directed to provoke the nightlights (lantern trainees) into action or get them focused in annoyance or anger so that they can do their jobs.

For all the posturing, Guy's always out to prove he's good at his job. That he's really "the best" as he claims he is. His pride won't let him do anything less than a good job, and with the nightlights depending on him, that'll make it even more important.

Guy was in the perfect position before and if Kyle had been made Commander/Honor Guard, it would have been even better in terms of having fun and wreaking havoc.

But Ganthet and the other Guardians just put him in the one position he won't be *able* to abuse at all. Nicely played, Ganthet!

(though I wouldn't be surprised if Hal finds himself scheduled for lots of boring diplomatic missions all of a sudden, heh)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Some Panels that Disturbed Me:

Okay, so I've been, as evidenced below, reading old pre-Crisis Green Lantern issues. They're lots of fun. I got to see John and Guy's first appearances...when Guy got hit by the bus, and other things.

The thing that actually got me though was when Sinestro pretty much tore apart Guy's mind. Not so much that part as the aftermath. Because the mind-tearing caused brain damage (which ultimately led to the jerk he became in GL, JLI and JLE...and ended up fixed in Warrior...though he stays a jerk because he likes it. :-P)

Anyway, what got were the images of Guy a coma/unresponsive for *years*...

(From GL v2, 123)

(Same Issue)

(From GL v2, 189)

See? They're just wrong. He's so...vacant. Guy Gardner is many things...but never *vacant*. I seriously shuddered seeing these pages. And had to read Recharge again to feel better.

Ragnell mentioned in chat that she liked the smile at the end. But it makes me cringe more. Because it means on some level Guy was *aware* during years like that. That's a torture I wouldn't wish on anyone. *Anyone*.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'm No Doctor But...

I did get a lifeguard certification way back when, and honestly this doesn't look like proper backboarding technique to me...:

I applaud you for knowing that a backboard's good for a head/neck/back injury, Hal, but I'm *reasonably* sure, you're supposed to support and keep the neck straight as well. Spinal cord reasons.

You'd think with all your head injuries you'd have remembered that...

No wonder Guy spent so long pissed off at you...

And Then There's the Girl: "Women Characters" vs. "Characters that are Women"

For the Blog Against Sexism Day...because I'm a crowd following sheep. :-)

Women Characters vs. Characters that are Women.

I have a confession to make. I tend to dislike women characters.

Give me a moment to explain.

It's not that I don't like women. It's not that I don't like characters that are women.

But I don't like "women characters".

And there *is* a difference.

Ever see a group of male characters, all representing different aspects of humanity. Race, culture, personality, stage of life? And then there's one woman?

THAT is a "woman character". A character who's sole defining characterization is as "the woman".

Like Thundercats, for example. I loved that cartoon as a kid, still do, but let's look at it more closely.

You have one old ghost guy who's the elderly mentor/grandfather figure in Jaga. You have one architect/intellectual/wise older brother figure in Tygra. You have one young, brash, heroic but kind of dim main character in Lion-O. You have the token black guy as the strong gruff mechanic in Panthro. And you have the two cheerful "Thunderkittens" in the kids, Wiley-Kit and Wiley-Kat.

And then you have Cheetara. What the hell was Cheetara's purpose? To be the woman and look hot in the leotard while being vaguely maternal? She could run fast and was dimly, conveniently psychic. But where the male characters at least had some stereotypical, shallow quality to serve as their personality (grandpa/big brother/brash hero/gruff strongman/playful kids), she had *nothing* but feminity to define her.

Why is there one woman (well, technically two, but Wiley-Kit was a child, and thus intrinsically genderless in portrayal), where is the "intellectual" woman? Where is the brash leader woman? Where's the pseudo black or asian or hispanic woman?

Why does this *one* single, pseudo-white woman represent my whole damn gender? And why doesn't she get one sole other defining personality trait besides "being a woman".

It's stupid. Because, and this might get my ass kicked, feminity is *not* all that we are. It's one part, but that's it. Our sex isn't even that important to our DNA.

We have forty six chromosomes containing all of our genetic material. Forty six. Forty four of these chromosomes are autosomal. They're the same for men and women. Two chromosomes are sex-based. Two. Out of forty-six. That's one pair out of twenty three. And of that pair, barring anomalies, one is always an "X". Men and women differ by *one* chromosome out of forty-six.

So why is this one chromosome so important in terms of characterization then?

Why not define other traits first and *then* pick the gender? I'm not saying gender shouldn't affect the characterization. Gender/sex is important in our society, we're raised in ways that encourage certain traits and behaviors and that shouldn't be ignored. Like race/ethnicity, they *are* important to the character.

That's the point. They are *important* to the character, they are not the character in and of themselves. They are one of many facets to a person.

It is possible to create interesting characters while starting with a gender concept, many female characters of DC Comics came about through wanting to create a female counterpart to male characters. Like Supergirl in her first appearances. But what made Supergirl a good character wasn't that she was a female version of Superman, it was her kindness and bravery. It was how she chose to live at an orphanage for a long time, helping make things better for the orphans she lived with. And that's more than just being "the girl".

But too often people just think that being "the girl" of the group is enough. And it's *not*.

I blame the Justice League and Justice Society in one sense. As they're groups with only one woman. The Justice League/Superfriends made for a very corny, cheesy, but entertaining show for kids. And people watched that and thought, okay, it's enough to have a group with only one woman.

But they missed one important fact. The Justice League could afford to have this token woman because she was an iconic character with years of characterization behind her. Whether one likes her or not, she had many years of her own comic book (as well as a tv show. :-P) to establish/develop her personality beyond just being the "token woman".

If you have characters that are only established in a group setting, you need to do things differently. You shouldn't have just one woman. You have to give your women characterization beyond just "the woman".

While I tend to prefer early X-Men to later, I have to admit, there's one thing that they definitely improved on over time. When the X-Men started, it suffered from Thundercats Syndrome. It had the sarcastic leader, the rich pretty boy, the scientist, the kid, and the woman. But the team expanded, gained more women, the female characters became more evolved. Storm, Rogue, Kitty, Jubilee and so on and so forth are very strong, developed characters in their own right. Even the original token girl, "Marvel Girl" herself, evolved into a more complex character.

That needs to happen more often. And characters should be created as whole beings, gender, race, and everything as part of a *whole*.

No more "Women Characters", let's have more "Characters that are Women".

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Favorite Cover: Fables #1 (And some bonus babble!)

Today I want to celebrate one of my favorite comic book covers. Fables #1:

I just love the composition of the image. It's beautiful. The tree with the little fables peeking out in front of the distant cityscape...

Snow White in her most demure and sweet looking design holding the apple. It's a fascinating juxtaposition with Snow White as she's portrayed in the story...certainly not so sweet demure. In Fables, Snow White's much different, but the traditional image is the emphasis of the cover.

But the cover image is definitely not the same woman. The cover!Snow White is young and guileless. Even her clothing is very demure and childish. She's the traditional image of Snow White...the kind that goes with the tree, the pig, and the others.

And then there's central image. The rough looking human man, cigarette in his lips, emerging from the skin of the fairy tale wolf. Here's where the *point* of the series comes in. He's not particularly rushed, but he's definitely coming out of the damn skin. Moving forward from these "traditional" images. It's just beautiful...and it doesn't hurt that he's nice to look at.

Bigby's always been my favorite Fable, and the most complicated. Where almost all of the others are dwelling in the past, he's the one constantly looking forward, changing, growing. The Fables as a people are growing, but they're growing in spite of themselves. They're still largely clinging to the past, their power, their enchanted property, their identities. They see mundane recognition as power, and they try to live as close to perception as possible in a modern setting. But Bigby's different, he's the wild card that knocks away the game board in the final match.

See Bigby's the only one that's completely divorced from who he had been. Yeah, he can still take the form of the wolf, and huff and puff, but this isn't the same guy that terrorized Little Red or tried to eat the Three Pigs. If you consider fairy tales often originated as warning stories, don't talk to strangers, don't eat things you don't know, don't steal, don't impersonate others... The Wolf is the symbol of chaos and danger. He's the one who'll eat you if you let him, who'll invade your house if you can't defend it. He's unknown, wild, uncontrolled and he'll eat you if you let him.

But in Fabletown, everything changes. Because he's not allowed on the farm with all the other non-human Fables, he's got to live in disguise with the others. And he changes. He's not unknown chaos. He's the Law. He's the right arm of society. He keeps things ordered and structured, even if he's got to do some underhanded things to do it. And he's not even corrupt! He *genuinely* does what he does to make Fabletown a better place, so that the Fables can live peaceful and happy lives, even if he doesn't personally like them. He's even fought in both World Wars. On the side of the Allies. To preserve and protect his adopted land.

They know him. Some of them don't like him, but they all know who he is. And they all respect him, and most even trust him, if only to keep things in order. He's the Patriarch of Fabletown, the equal and opposite of Snow White, and it's him that finally expels Jack for good when the latter goes too far and threatens their way of life. The scary badguy of the old fairy tales, the dreaded outsider has become a leader, and the Giant-Killer of renown has been driven out. And while both he and Snow White withdrew when Charming took over, it's pretty clear that the Beast would not have been able to take his place without Bigby's approval.

When the Frau (another villain who is now on the side of right) fights Baba Yaga, she talks of notoreity versus anonymity, and what she says about herself also applies to Bigby. Neither of them are known by name in their stories, but their presence is felt. But in some odd way, the lack of specific notoreity is freeing. Snow White, Prince Charming, Blue Beard, Boy Blue, King Cole, they all have to correspond in some sense to their original stories. They can reveal deeper aspects of themselves, but from all accounts, none of them have changed much since the Fables first fled to this world. Whereas the Frau and the Wolf have become new someones entirely. And they're the ones that turned the tide against the Adversary's forces. They're unknown factors, and thus they're incredibly powerful.

His love for Snow White has a certain symbolism too. Snow White's, as I said, one of the most easily recognized fairy tale characters. She's still recognizeable, but she's definitely not the demure, sweet thing on the cover. She's a powerful, modern woman. And she's not going to be fooled into taking a goddamn bite of any stupid apple again.

And Bigby is very attracted to her...whereas on this cover, he's emerging from the wolfskin toward *us*, away from the traditional image of the Snow White. He's emerging out of his past role and into something else entirely. He's Order out of Chaos, but he's still Dangerous. And when he comes back again, things are going to be Very Interesting.