Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Massive Spoilers for Captain America 30 herein:

Second post in a row inspired by someone else's review! Wow!

Warning. This post contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for Captain America #30. MASSIVE.




Okay, this post is largely in response to part of pervyficgirl's Captain America review.

Okay, while Pervyficgirl has many interesting things to say, I couldn't help but disagree strongly with her Captain America review...specifically this part:

Captain America, which is almost always awesome...was not this week. If Sharon Carter is really pregnant that will make me stop reading this series. Oh, Ed Brubaker, why have you forsaken me? Bucky is adorable, Sam wins at life, but Sharon used to have more of a purpose than to cry, be suicidal, and be mind-screwed. I have comics which prove this. Unfortunately, the Ed Brubaker run is not included in them. Look, my thing against the Sharon plot isn't even a feminist concern at this point (though, possibly the pregnancy nonsense is.) It's more along the lines of the same disgust I have for the Parallax plot line. Yawn, yawn, mind control. Standard comic book cliche. But it's only interesting if the character eventually is able to overcome the nonsense. And I know it's not the end, but this storyline has gone on and on and on, and the woman is still sobbing in the shower.

Mostly because I strongly feel that over the past few issues, Sharon's done a lot more than just sob in the shower. She's quit SHIELD, gone around ass-kicking with the Falcon, and been generally her usual kickass self.

She HAS spent an inordinate amount of time in the shower as well, but I think that tends to be understandable if you've been mind controlled into killing Captain America.

I'd also like to point out that while mind-control is a standard comic cliche and Sharon's not overcome hers yet, this is the same issue where Bucky Barnes got taken down by a well-placed "sputnik". Pretty sure that overcoming the mind-control's the way they're going here.

The part that bothers me though is the antagonism to the pregnancy storyline. Not so much the dislike of pregnancy storylines in general, since they do tend to be of dubious quality, but more the implication I get that suddenly this reviewer thinks that Sharon being pregnant is WORSE than all the mind-control and other things.

... Am I the only one bothered with finding anti-feminist themes in PREGNANCY? I mean, sure, it's one thing if EVERY woman in the comic were suddenly spawning offspring left and right. But Black Widow certainly isn't having that trouble while being kickass, and neither is Sin. But okay, acknowledging that a woman pregnant with her dead lover (which, come to realize, doesn't HAVE to be Cap. She was seeing that man who died before her reunion with Steve) is a bit cliched...

(I've always thought Brubaker an incredibly cliched writer. Which isn't intended to be an insult, as he tends to take the cliche, spin it around, and make it utterly satisfying.)

Pregnancy is a woman's issue. Pregnancy can happen to the best of us and the most kickass of us. Sometimes accidently. Now is a time when a pregnancy can do nothing but really fuck everything up even more for her...but you know...sometimes that HAPPENS. And really, the whole implication of pregnancy being anti-feminist sounds like a damn good way to alienate a LOT of women from feminist idealogy. Moreover, it completely ignores the fact that there can be a lot of interesting feminist stories to come from this development (including the decision of whether to keep the baby, give up the baby, abort the baby, or try to be a kickass agent mother...not even getting into when Steve comes back...all those issues strike me as very centered around womanhood and yes, feminism.)

It doesn't help that one of commenters adds:

However, Sharon being pregnant? Please, dear comic gods, kick Brubaker in the head so that he can start writing Sharon like the kick-ass woman she is. Maybe that'll rattle loose an idea for him to bring Sharon back to her kick-ass period.

Okay. Someone needs to go watch Farscape: the Peacekeeper Wars. Now. Because that's a very clear indicator that yes, a woman can be pregnant AND kickass at the same time. (How about giving birth DURING a firefight, gun in hand?) Heck, Aeryn Sun was even MORE kickass pregnant. She had even more to protect. Also, pregnancy hormones.

Seriously, if you don't think pregnant women are scary/kick-ass, go find a 8th month pregnant-to-the-point-of-waddling lady and hand her a gun. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Sharon's always competent and kick-ass and I think it'd be a shame to write her off because of a pregnancy before we even see where it takes her.

(Ten bucks says she's totally going to be shooting people while IN LABOR...I hope Steve's not in there...)*

*Not actually wagering ten bucks here, I'm a broke college student. You think I have that kind of money? Yeesh.


  • At September 22, 2007 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm glad you cited Aeryn Sun's pregnancy. The episode ("Prayer") where she was being repeatedly questioned as to who the father was ... the situation was one where Aeryn was in as powerless a position as possible (almost to an offensive degree), and yet she proved herself to still be jaw-droppingly strong-willed. ("Then I orphan no one." Holy crap.)

  • At September 22, 2007 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here here!

    I just got done writing a similar article about complaints about HEROES being sexist because (among other reasons) one of the main female characters (Claire Bennet - the regenerating cheerleader) is nearly raped by a football player and this inspires her to heroism.

    Granting that rape as a motivator for female heroes IS a cliche in comic books, I think it works in this case because...

    1) Claire was already motivated to heroism before this incident. Indeed, she was the only one of the main characters in the first episode to do something heroic (i.e. pull a trapped fireman out of a burning train-car)

    2) Claire acted not out of revenge on her rapist or all men but an honest desire to prevent future tragedies, after finding out...

    a) that she wasn't the first girl this boy had raped or tried to rape
    b) that he hadn't been the least bit affected by her accidental murder and that he was back to his old ways groping girls in the halls the next day.

    Claire's characterization afterwards also defied the usual victim mentality and indeed Claire - despite some whining about just wanting a normal life with a normal family - is one of the most moral and heroic characters on the show, who doesn't tolerate any attempt to manipulate her life.

  • At September 22, 2007 10:58 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    As someone who has been pregnant four times, let me just say that childbirth is not for the weak. As Dorothy Parker once pointed out, if men could get pregnant, then abortion would be a sacrament.

    Besides, I thought that Catwoman managed to pull off the whole pregnancy/motherhood thing rather well. No reason why Sharon can't too.

  • At September 22, 2007 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There is the stink of cliche, I suppose, in Sharon getting pregnant (of course, I don't think she should be alive at all, but that's another argument). But I read the issue and it worked for me. The whole point of the current storyline is the chaos that erupts when Cap isn't around, and Sharon finding out she's pregnant is just another thing that goes wrong.

    I'm willing to give Brubaker the benefit of the doubt as opposed to Winick or Rucka because, as Kalinara said, he's adept at spinning cliches.

    Plus, I'm glad Steve Epting is drawing Black Widow correctly (Yes, I'm that much of a Black Widow fan that I despise the Cho makeover).

  • At September 22, 2007 5:12 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    I was going to mention how a pregnant Jessica Jones once beat the hell out of Green Goblin, but that was a special case.

    Glad to see another Farscape:The Peacekeeper Wars fan. That movie was 100 different kinds of awesome.

  • At September 22, 2007 5:49 PM, Blogger zhinxy said…

    Aeryn Sun!

    Seriously, everybody. We will not achieve anything by painting pregnancy as The!Big!Scary!Inconvenience!

    I hope this storyline works out with Sharon working until she's 8 months along. With her finding a way to balance work and baby. With her dismissing any idea that a woman's body during pregnancy is any less a normal, healthy thing than a man's body at any time.

    Do I really think she'll make it through the whole thing with her head high? *Sigh* Not sure if I do. But I can hope.

  • At September 22, 2007 7:19 PM, Blogger tavella said…

    Well, my less than thrilled reaction has to do with the probable outcomes. I doubt that Marvel is likely to allow Captain America to have an out of wedlock baby, so if it's actually Steve's it's likely to be used to make Sharon's death more tragic (the Dibny) or traumatize her further with a miscarriage. And given the convenience of the timing and the fact that she's been under Faustus control for months, it's more likely that it's a Red Skull plan, and I'm not fond of women being used as incubators; it's a kind of rape, even when it is not literally so.

    I haven't given up hope that Sharon will end up saving herself, but I can't disagree with the original post; she's done a lot more sobbing and guilting over the last year than kicking ass.

  • At September 23, 2007 3:43 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    (Ten bucks says she's totally going to be shooting people while IN LABOR...I hope Steve's not in there...)*

    Man, I hope not. Gunfights during a child birth are pretty cliche now.

    Farscape, as alread mentioned. Way of the Gun, Time & Tide, Shoot 'Em Up...

  • At September 23, 2007 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Um..dumb question kali. Have you thought about posting this on her blog?

  • At September 23, 2007 7:49 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    universal person:

    Not particularly. This isn't about the original poster after all, but a largely tangential opinion/reaction to thoughts promoted by the original post.

    Besides, why should I invade her space with something only tangently related that at worst could be read as an accusation? Her comment space is hardly the place for me to get on a soap box. That's what I have a blog for.

    Since my blog is public, I'm fairly certain the original poster could find this post if she cares enough, and if she feels like commenting, I'm sure she will. If she doesn't feel like it, she can ignore it at her leisure. Seems like a perfectly feasable system to me.

  • At September 24, 2007 1:44 AM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Well, Batman has an out-of-wedlock child now, so I wouldn't say that it's totally out of the question.

    (No, wait, were they married at the time? I've never actually read the original story.)

  • At September 24, 2007 1:17 PM, Blogger Scott (The Mad Thinker) Anderson said…

    Hey, we agree! About everything! Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah!

    But let me add 2 things.

    1. I think we could make a case that implying that if a character weeps in the shower, she isn’t “kick-ass” is itself a bit of a sexist comment. It seems to imply that a character must act like a stereotypical “big boys don’t cry” male to be assertive and powerful. Expression of sorrow is not inherently in opposition to being assertive and powerful, i.e. kick-ass. I might suggest that that is a thing men came up with to demean women who are more likely to express sorrow or grief, or to cry for some other reason. If anything, Sharron’s ability to do both suggested to me that she (and Brubaker) was not going to be held to that sexist either/or dynamic.

    2. Cliché? Well, OK, but I think if people are putting out something like 1500 comics a year, you’re going to see some things repeated. Not only that but I buy comics in part for the clichés. I want to read stories with mind control … and death rays and killer robots etc. As you said, it is how the story uses the clichés that make them fascinating or dull, and I have to say while I’ve seen several scenes where someone is brainwashed and trying to kill a loved one and the loved one says, “But Sharron, it’s me, Steve. Fight it, Sharron. I … I love you and you love me …” and then Sharron shakes and sweat runs down her face and finally she drops the gun and her legs go rubbery … blah, blah, blah. But when have we seen a character like Sharron actually kill a character like Captain America? And have to live with the aftermath? Usually, these stories do some kind of quick copout, but here we see her actually having to make sense of and try to keep her life together while dealing with her own unjustified shame and fear. This story has been far more interesting for me than any other brainwashing story I can think of. If she wasn’t still crying in the shower, I’d think the author was cheating us.

    And, yes, the glorious Ms. Sun. How I loved her.

  • At September 24, 2007 1:44 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh dear, Scott. You realize it's going to start raining toads any minute now.

    *sigh* I really hoped we'd have a little longer before the apocalypse kicked in. ;-)


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