Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Friday, May 11, 2007

50 Things I Love About Superhero Comics:

It's been argued before and it'll undoubtedly be argued again, that girls don't read superhero comics. That there is nothing DC and Marvel can offer that manga or indy comics can't deliver better, and we should of course focus on them.

I don't think it should surprise anyone that I disagree with this wholeheartedly. Instead of going on a long, angry rant explaining why, I figured I'd explain what I, a girl and a feminist, personally love about superhero comics. None of these should be a particular surprise to anyone who reads this blog, but I feel like sharing.

Please note, I'm not saying that all girls or feminists would share my opinion. There's no hive vagina after all.

So, without further ado and in no particular order:

50 things I love about superhero comics

1. The richness of the universes. Really, any sort of story can be told using some part of the Marvel or DC worlds. Action, romance, science fiction epics, historical pieces, time travel, buddy comedies, or sheer's all good!

2. The connections within the universes. Connected to #1, really. I love teamups and crossovers and seeing new sides of familiar people by the way they interact with one another. I love that Carter Hall's son was married to Hippolyta's grand-daughter in spirit, or that Alan Scott's kid is working with Sandra Knight's descendent. Or that Superman and Batman are BFFs, or that Namor has hit on both Sue Storm and the Scarlet Witch. The interactions are what really make the universes seem vast.

3. The history factor. Marvel and DC have franchises dating back from my grandfather's childhood, and the decades of real time development and contradictions remind me of what I used to love about soap operas. The sense of generation is wonderful too. My grandfather's heroes inspiring and interacting with my father's heroes inspiring and interacting with mine.

4. The fact that Mr. Terrific might be the third smartest MAN in the DCU, but Barbara Gordon is the smartest PERSON.

5. Guy Gardner's character arc took place in more than thirty years real time and still feels satisfying.

6. Sanderson Hawkins ends up as frequently unclad as any superheroine.

7. Power Girl can be sexy, confident and flaunt her goods, and NEVER be dismissed as a slut or worse by her fellows in the DCU.

8. No one was right or blameless in the Jean Grey/Scott Summers/Emma Frost love triangle.

9. Superheroines get to punch people, just like superheroes.

10. There are bad artists and stupid drawings, but there are also very good artists who do some amazing work.

11. Spandex will always amuse me.

12. Fanfic will never match the crack that has or will occur in canon.

13. There are many and considerable issues regarding portrayals of race, sex, orientation and the like, but there is also considerable attempts to improve and increase diversity.

14. I like violence.

15. "Vomited on by a nazi" is the best origin ever.

16. Stargirl is the heart of the JSA.

17. I get more enjoyment out of hating Dick Grayson than I do out of loving Spock.

18. My biggest complaint about Cassandra Cain is her clicheness, NOT any inability to kick ass.

19. My rage over the treatment of Reed Richards is only because I love him so.

20. The Fantastic Four's powers lend themselves well to dirty jokes.

21. Dementor genuinely scared me.

22. Janet Pym annoys me as much for her negative comparisons to every other heroine I can think of, than anything else.

23. Jade's incompetence frustrates me mostly because Donna Troy was as much Kyle Rayner's mentor as Alan Scott had been.

24. I care about characters that haven't appeared since before I was born.

25. Cyclone reminds me of me, good points and bad. (Though I don't crush on Stargirl)

26. No matter how obscure the character, you can always find a fan who loves them best.

27. Hippolyta and Ice are back.

28. Ms. Marvel is a dick, but in a way that's strikingly similar to early Booster Gold, (that's rare for a female character)

29. Female characters aren't demonized for not being virgins.

30. Hank Pym's story is frustrating, infuriating and compelling. And Ultron is just fucked up.

31. The Pym family tree is at least as fucked up as the Summers tree. Minus the time travel, plus robots.

32. Heroes represent nearly every religion imaginable. Even atheism.

33. No religion appears to be completely correct.

34. A woman can be a mother and a hero.

35. But she doesn't have to be.

36. Stephanie Brown gave her baby up for adoption, because it was the right thing to do.

37. Dinah Lance is both a founding member of the current JSA and a founding member of the JLA. (Is she the only one?)

38. Superheroes come from all walks of life.

39. Hawkman never wears a shirt.

40. Giant Robots are cool.

41. The creators grew up on superhero comics too, which makes for infectious enthusiasm.

42. No one makes me twitch like message board fans. :-p But then there's a lot of interesting stuff too.

43. Fanboy/girl analyses essays are a blast.

44. I always wished I could fly...and punch people.

45. Johnny Sorrow is incredibly creepy in the best way possible. I love villains who are genuinely unpredictable.

46. I'm reminded about what it feels like to be PROUD of being American.

47. I still catch my breath seeing Superman hold up the Daily Planet Globe.

48. Lois Lane is the best reporter the Daily Planet has ever seen. And she lists her pulitzer before her marriage when naming her achievements. But her marriage is a quick second.

49. There are bad stories too, but in general, when I buy my comics I come home satisfied.

50. The expression on little Ramsey's face when he meets Wonder Woman.

So, do you REALLY think I should just stick with manga?


  • At May 11, 2007 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "15. "Vomited on by a nazi" is the best origin ever."

    Please tell me who this is. That's pretty awesome.

  • At May 11, 2007 8:08 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    hee, that's the new Citizen Steel. His family is attacked and killed by neo-nazi villains in JSA 1 (or was it 2? Very recently, regardless). One of them vomited weird liquid metal on him.

    He hasn't woken up or become active yet, though the metal nazi-vomit appears to have had some effect...

  • At May 11, 2007 8:20 AM, Blogger Anthony Strand said…

    Where was that Kendra/abortion story? Somehow I didn't know that.

  • At May 11, 2007 8:28 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    You know, for the life of me, I can't find the reference now. I'm starting to think I hallucinated it or something.


    Oh well, I'll take it off until I can find the reference again. As soon as I figure it out, it'll go back up and I'll let you know. :-)

  • At May 11, 2007 9:10 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Okay! I have found the info needed and I was utterly and totally WRONG.

    JSA All-Stars #2 is the issue that deals with Kendra's teenaged pregnancy. She'd given the child up for ADOPTION and she even ends up meeting the girl!

    I'm not sure how I misremembered so extremely! Egads! :-)

  • At May 11, 2007 9:57 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    But that's part of the fun of comics. You can go back and look something up, and then you find all sorts of OTHER things that you forgot about, and the next thing you know, you are sitting in the middle of the floor surrounded by boxes, in a world of your own.

    A world where there are dinosaur-riding Nazis, where Batman punches out animals, and characters get to say things like "Holy humongous heffalumps!"

    I...I love comics. (wipes away a tear of nostalgia) And don't tell me that Green Lanterns aren't the best idea ever!

  • At May 11, 2007 10:27 AM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    26. No matter how obscure the character, you can always find a fan who loves them best.

    Don't forget the contra-positive. No matter how obscure, there is always a fan who hates that one most, and thinks he single-handedly ruins every comic he is in!

    For me, there is irrational and undying love for Rory Regan, with a n equal and opposite hatred for Guy Gardner.

  • At May 11, 2007 12:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "I Like Violence."

    I do not know why I find that so awesome and entertaining...but I do.

  • At May 11, 2007 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Citizen Steel. His family is attacked and killed by neo-nazi villains in JSA 1 (or was it 2? Very recently, regardless). One of them vomited weird liquid metal on him."

    You know, I never even thought of his origin like that. Now I like him a lot, even though he's done nothing.

  • At May 11, 2007 1:46 PM, Blogger Centurion said…

    Yeah, you should stick with manga. Look at how much more there is with manga:

    1)schoolgirls with crushes
    2)macho guys
    3)schoolgirls with crushes on macho guys
    4)macho guys that fight macho guys
    5)schoolgirls that fight schoolgirls
    6)schoolgirls that gain magical powers and friends
    7)guys that gain magical powers and friends
    8)magical animal companions...for the kids with magical powers

    Maybe you're better sticking with DC and Marvel after all.

  • At May 11, 2007 4:24 PM, Blogger tavella said…

    The first few are why independent/freestanding comics are not a substitute for the big two. I love my Ex Machina and my PS238, but I miss the interactions. And with DC and Marvel frustrating me (one, because it's kind of climbing up its own fundament with continuity/legacy porn, one because it's decided that fascism is cool) I don't really have an outlet for that.

  • At May 11, 2007 5:13 PM, Blogger Will Staples said…

    Numbers 1, 2, 3, 12 (talking Nazi gorillas for the f***ing win), and 24 are my biggest reasons for loving DC, myself. 32 and 33 are pretty important to me too.

    4. The fact that Mr. Terrific might be the third smartest MAN in the DCU, but Barbara Gordon is the smartest PERSON.

    Really? I wasn't aware Babs was a super-genius on the level of Terrific or Luthor.

    16. Stargirl is the heart of the JSA.

    I always thought of Alan (heart) and Jay (soul) in that capacity... though Courtney is the glue that keeps the younger members together, IMO. She embodies the legacy aspect of the team more than anyone.

    Centurion: You forgot:


    (Seriously, I love manga. But still. Tentacles.)

  • At May 11, 2007 5:18 PM, Blogger Centurion said…


    You're right. I can't believe that slipped my mind...

  • At May 11, 2007 6:03 PM, Blogger Flidget Jerome said…

    31. The Pym family tree is at least as fucked up as the Summers tree. Minus the time travel, plus robots.

    On the contrary, Vision II is based off the brain-patterns of a teenaged Kang the Conqueror. They just need some alternate-reality family members and then they're all set.

    Centurion - You also missed out #11) Gay Porn.

  • At May 11, 2007 6:27 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Filby, I base it off of Morrison's JLA run honestly, and the way Barbara basically coordinated the ENTIRE Justice League in WWIII among other things.

    She's not always written like that, but well, she's the first character whose greatest narrative flaw is omnipotence.

    And given people usually list Bats up above Terrific (which honestly, I disagree with) and Barbara had to be relocated from the clock tower because he was resorting to "Ask Oracle" rather than doing the detective work himself...

    Yep, I stand by my statement. :-)

  • At May 11, 2007 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    schoolgirls with crushes

    You mean, schoolboys with crushes on macho guys. ^_-

  • At May 11, 2007 11:18 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I DO think superhero comics could use more macho-guy crushing.

    But then, that's what slash fanfiction is for. :-P

  • At May 12, 2007 2:59 AM, Blogger Unknown said…


  • At May 12, 2007 9:04 AM, Blogger Sleestak said…

    #12) Pedophilia
    #13) Incest
    #14 Tentacle porn

  • At May 12, 2007 10:33 AM, Blogger Will Staples said…

    #14 was covered by #10.

    Anyway, let's please not go overboard with the manga-bashing, eh? There is a lot of good manga out there.

  • At May 30, 2007 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    12. Fanfic will never match the crack that has or will occur in canon.

    Well, that's pretty much covered by one story in the early 1980's where they retconned Black Canary into her own daughter but with her (the mother's) memories. You just can't get any nuttier than that.

    So superhero comics could be conservative & rational & realistic from now on, & that would still be true. Forever.


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