Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Infinity Formula Ponderings

Okay, I've been reading up on this Infinity Formula business. Mostly as I was bored and Wikipedia exists. I haven't read the actual stories at all, and am going strictly off of fansites, so please let me know if I'm missing something.

Okay, so, at least according to the Marvel website, the reason the Howling Commandos are not as old as they ought to be is because of exposure to Fury's blood after he got Infinity Formula-ed. Which confuses me, because I thought he needed extra doses, but I digress.

Anyway, it got me thinking about whether that sort of thing could be sexually transmitted. Because that would be very odd to bang Nick Fury (or for that matter Dum Dum Dugan or one of the other Commandos) and then gradually realize you're not aging as fast as you ought to be. And you would never know why.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Where's Jason Blood?

You know who I miss? Aside from Sand, of course, (though it'd be REALLY NICE TO SEE HIM, DC!) Jason Blood.

I mean, I know Etrigan's around here and there and probably Shadowpact and all, and that's great, but I miss his other half.

I'm also probably the only person in the entire Internet that actually liked Blood of the Demon. Hey, I liked the way it resolved both the original and the later origins, and also...well...Jason Blood was naked often, and really that's my only requirement for a good Jason Blood appearance. Angst, magic, bitching, and entirely gratuitous nakedness. Oh and violence of course. I love me some violence.

I did think Byrne drew Blood too scruffy for my taste though. I always thought he was supposed to be more elegant. And as much as I do like Etrigan, I like the duality more. (Which is probably why I've always liked the original/Blood of the Demon origin best. I'm amused by the idea of Jason as a manufactured split personality of Etrigan as opposed to a separate person.)

You know, with all the Camelot connections, it'd be interesting to see Jason interact with the new Shining Knight. I know it's not the SAME Camelot, but it could be interesting. I suppose he'd have to stay clothed though, she's much too young for that kind of thing...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Movie News

So apparently there's a direct to video gap filler for between Batman Begins and Dark Knight.

I have to admit, it does seem kind of cool. I did like some of the Animatrix after all, (though some of it bored me). It's also nice to spotlight different parts of Bruce's development that probably would have hit the cutting room floor if left in Dark Knight.

And they do seem to have good writers attached. The extras look kind of neat too. It makes me regret that personally, I have very little interest in Bruce Wayne/Batman himself. (Also, I have to confess a cardinal sin. I actually kind of thought Batman Begins was a bit overrated. You can shun me now, it's okay. :-P I did like it, mind you, just not, it seemed, as much as everyone else.)

I'm watching the new one for Harvey Dent really. :-) And because the footage at the convention looked really really good.

So I dunno if I'll get this or not. I guess it depends on how much I like Dark Knight. It is kind of weird that it looks, at least from the picture on Newsarama, so anime-esque. But maybe I'll think differently seeing more than one picture. I suppose it amuses me since anime-style is so clearly derived from manga, which has a completely different graphic evolution than American superhero comics. So an anime-esque Batman movie would make me giggle.

Oh, and good news on the Justice League movie front. The only named actor I've heard of is the OC guy, but that strikes me as a good thing. This way the "star factor" won't overpower the superhero role. :-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hal vs Tree!

Sometimes it's good to go back to the basics, right?

So today I bring you, Hal Jordan versus....

A tree!

Here we see our erstwhile hero giving his famous oath! Does he sense his incoming danger?




Tree wins! Yay!

(Taken somewhat out of context from GL v2 114...but not THAT far out of context. Oh Hal...)

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Couple I Like!

I've also finally caught myself up on Checkmate! Yay! I think my favorite part was Sasha's attempt to deputize Superman. Or rather, how she knew when NOT to pursue a given tactic.

I used to be really iffy on Sasha. I liked her in Murderer/Fugitive, disliked her in the OMAC Project (to be fair, most of that is probably because I really liked the earlier OMAC issues which focused on the aftermath of the Blue Beetle's death and I was annoyed by the switch in focus) and now I'm really enjoying her. She's well-suited to Checkmate. (As long as Winick isn't writing her. I still haven't quite forgiven him for the idiotic way the Checkmate/Outsiders crossover ended.)

It helps, I think, that Sasha Bordeaux/Michael Holt is one of my favorite pairings-that-I-would-never-have-thought-of ever. It reminds me of how I really liked Sasha and Bruce's early interaction, before OMAC Project. (I probably would have liked OMAC more if I weren't screaming "You idiots! Way to be sloppy and get one of you killed!" during their big kiss scene.)

Michael Holt is like all of the parts of Bruce Wayne that make him such an eligible bachelor: genius, wealth, reasonable amount of charm, but without half as many of the issues. Of course, Michael's had horrible tragedy as well, but, possibly because he was an adult as opposed to an eight year old boy, he's actually dealt with a lot of that. And while he's not quite as charming as Bruce, I also think he's a lot less likely to leave his love interest, or even just a friend, in jail for a while just because it'd be a benefit to the cause. I definitely think he's underrated in terms of eligible bachelorhood in the DCU

:-) Mostly though, I like them because they act like adults. I admit, I've missed some of the intervening issues between Michael taking Alan's position and now, so I don't know exactly how they got back together, but I remember liking that when they parted, they parted like adults. Sure, they didn't want to split and were visibly unhappy with the decision, but they didn't act like mopey teenagers about it. (At least in the issues I've read, it IS possible, I suppose, that they did act like utter idiots in the issues I've missed. I'm sure I'll catch up eventually.) There's a nice lack of melodrama about the two.

But yeah, I like him, I like her. And I thought the beach scene in this most recent issue was incredibly cute. :-)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Thoughts on JSA

Well, I FINALLY caught up on several weeks worth of comics, which makes me feel remarkably accomplished. Law school can be a bitch sometimes. :-)

One of the comics I finally got a chance to catch up on was JSA, which is fun, because it's still in the introduce new characters phase. Though, I still wish my favorite would get a speaking line or two, I was happy to see him mentioned. He confirmed something! He's still alive, yay!

I take what I can get. :-)

I've got mixed feelings about the new additions, mostly on account of the fact that my favorite character got a two page monologue in the last three years or so, and I wonder at adding so many people to a team that barely features certain characters enough as it is.

On the other hand, I really like the new folks. So instead, I'll just resume my wish that JSA-Classified would take a more varied approach rather than spotlight only a few characters at a time. Or that it'd just once spotlight MY favorite. I'm hypocritical that way. I do like the idea of the JSA as more of a society though, the JLU cartoon, but I want my favorite character to get panel time darnit.

I think my favorite of the new characters so far is actually Thunder's sister. I think that's mostly for that whole scene where Jefferson Pierce and his wife-whose-name-I-didn't-catch are talking with Mr. Terrific. I know it's yet another child that Pierce never showed any sign of in decades of comic history, but hey, she's cute. I like how normal their family dynamics seem to be as well. I'm all for angsty hero backstories, but I also like when heroes come from families or backgrounds that are...well...normal.

It's the same reason I've been enjoying the Flash un-reboot, essentially. I like seeing the way families deal with superpowers and heroic legacies. I like that Jefferson and his wife looked at Anissa's difficulties and decided to go a different route. And really the JSA probably is the wisest choice. Consider the trauma undergone by most child sidekicks and teenaged heroes, or the Teen Titans in general in their various incarnations.

Meanwhile, Stargirl, aside from a brief period of a temporarily dead family, is relatively trauma-free. Jakeem's had it rough, but very little of that can really be placed on the JSA's head. They're well-respected and reasonably stable, with a lot of responsible adults who'll do their best to see that she gets training and stays as safe as reasonably possible.

I don't know where the wife and girls came from really, but I'm really glad Jefferson Pierce has a family now. Besides, his daughters kind of rock.

I've always been kind of leery about the Amazing-Man character, mostly as the All-Star Squadron issues I'd read never seemed to know what to do with him. But I really liked the way the issue weaved in the history/legacy of Amazing-Man. I never felt the lack of a modern day Amazing-Man, but I'm intrigued to see more of him. Likewise Mr. America. I'm actually enjoying this version a lot more than I thought I would.

Aside from Jennifer Pierce, I think I'm most interested in Lance Corporal David Reid. Mostly for the idea that so many superpowered characters are in the U.S. Military. I mean, it makes sense, and certainly with Checkmate/Suicide Squad we've seen a bit more of uniformed/militarized heroes, but I don't really think the subject's been addressed much. I'd like to see a comic dealing with that branch of metahuman/superheroic experience. I also dig that the man's power seems to be, seriously, a pink raygun.

I'm less certain what to make of the whole great-grandson of FDR thing. I get leery about using fictional characters as related to real life people, since it seems kind of disrespectful to me. On the other hand, I'd imagine they'd have to have gotten permission from his surviving family to do so, and if they don't have issue with it, then it's none of my business. I think I'd rather they play up the active-military element of the character rather than the FDR's descendant aspect though.

I still think Cyclone and Citizen Steel are adorable, and to my surprise Kingdom Come Superman isn't annoying me. I think because he's so different than "regular" Superman, though I reserve the right to be annoyed by him later. I even didn't hate Starman for a second (when he went "I'm from the future, woooeeeoooo" heh). I had thought Judomaster spoke English, though. Oh well, I notice that unlike Bushido in Infinite Crisis, Judomaster talks in squiggles instead of Japanese. On one hand, at least it avoids the obvious pitfall of a teenaged boy speaking like a proper young lady. Still, it seems kind of lazy.

I might be one of those people for whom somethings never win. I like that between Jennifer, Judomaster, and the new Amazing-Man (oh, and the return of Jakeem Thunder), the team's seeming a lot less white-washed. And I like that a good portion of the new recruits are female. I like seeing such an obvious, conscious effort being made to make the team more diverse. It'd be nice if Obsidian got a bit more than one lousy pep-talk, but then Manhunter's supposed to be returning in June, so I suppose he'll get his panel time again. Still...

Overall I'm very happy with JSA. I'd be happier if my favorite character got more than the occasional passing mention though. Hmph.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Review of the Jumper

Okay, so I saw Jumper. And since it's one of those movies involving people with powers and stuff like that, it seemed like a good idea to review it here.

This review is going to have fairly massive spoilers. I'll put a cut-tag up for anyone who doesn't want to be spoiled for the movie. It's also pretty fucking long, as I really didn't like the movie.

The funny thing about the whole thing is that I remember reading the book when I was a kid. I remember bits and pieces at most (just enough to confirm it was the same book) and I think I put it down halfway through. I remember just enough to be mildly surprised that of all the obscure people-with-powers sort of urban paranormal sci-fi/fantasy out there, THIS book is the one that gets made into a movie. It was, to be honest, downright forgettable.

The movie is, at least, not forgettable. But it kind of sucks.

Spoilers Abound, Go Away

Okay, the biggest, as I see it, problem with the movie is that the main character played by Hayden Christensen never really seems to do anything to warrant being the main character.

I'm not saying that the guy has to be a standard boyscout-esque hero, mind, but even an anti-hero needs something to make the audience want to side with the character. I don't think it's Christensen's fault. The guy is a decent enough actor, but like Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, the role really isn't given a whole lot beyond cheesy dialogue.

Okay, David Rice is from a broken home. His mother left when he was five, his father is a loud shouty drunk who may or may not be physically abusive. At the very least, he's not adverse to kicking down the door to his son's room when he thinks the kid's hiding from him. It's a decent set-up for pathos, sure, but there's never really much pay-off. We really don't see enough of his father to make it worthwhile, though I admit, I might have teared up a little when eight years after leaving home for good, David ends up back in his old room, with his father rambling through the door that if he isn't a hallucination then he can come back home anytime.

I also liked when his father stood up to Samuel L. Jackson's character. He appeared to go along with his demands in a fairly bumbling fashion, but the interchange where he tells Jackson's character that he'll call if he hears anything about the son he hasn't seen in ten years, Jackson looks flatly at him and says something like "No you won't" and he quietly confirms, that's the best scene in the movie.

Of course, we never actually know if he lives through whatever Jackson's character does to him. We see David find him, teleport him into the hospital and people come running, but as far as I could tell, we never actually find out if he's dead. Which is really fucking annoying.

Okay, back to David. Okay, on paper David seems like he could be an interesting character. He's a thief, essentially. He teleports into a bank vault at 15, steals lots and lots of money, and lives wealthy, hopping place to place at a whim for eight years. He makes lip service to the idea of paying them back someday, but it's fairly clearly just that.

In the hopes of fair play, I'm ignoring the fact that I really think it's unlikely nowadays that a character would be able to successfully rob a bank vault like that. What with all the smart money and tracked money and serial numbers and all that sort of thing, I really think they'd have caught the guy much sooner than eight years in. But to be fair, the book is fairly old. I was twelve, near as I can estimate, when I read it, and I'm willing to allow that they might not have had the capacity to track the money back then like they would now.

Anyway, the formula for the sort of anti-hero that David is, on paper, is that you have a very self-absorbed protagonist who discovers a reason to look outside of his little bubble and genuinely care for someone or something else. I'm not saying that the guy needs to be ready to storm the gates of Hell to save the world, but there ought to be some measure of selflessness and human caring. David doesn't have that. Even when he's being "the good guy" and trying to keep his girlfriend from getting killed, it's more about the girlfriend in relationship to him than to anyone else.

The problem I think is that David starts off a smug, self-absorbed twit and he never really moves from that position in the whole film. Except for those few moments that he gets his ass kicked by Jackson early on, which really only serves as motive to go back home to Ann Arbor, meet his childhood sweetheart and take her on a trip to Rome using stolen bank-money, the man's smug self-absorption never seems to falter.

Honestly, I might have had more sympathy for the character if it weren't for the fact that he essentially squanders his ability for eight years on frivolous things. Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but it's called out in sharp relief when, early on, we see the man watching television and seeing news of a flood with announcers wondering how the rescue workers would get there. Obviously David could get there easily, but instead he goes off surfing and popping over to random other nifty places.

This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing except that he doesn't really ever get a redemption moment later. He saves his girlfriend sure, but that's about it. All I could think of, by the end, was how much better the story would have been if the other Jumper, Griffin, had been the lead instead.

Sure Griffin's a little crazy and more than a bit murderous. He spends most of his time killing "Paladins" (characters like Jackson who've been hunting Jumpers since medieval times. The movie never even conjectures where Jumpers actually come from, presumably since they have normal parents, it's like a mutation, but a bit of theory wouldn't hurt. Perhaps Griffin knows, but David never even asks, despite the shock of meeting another person like him) and is a prickly bastard aside.

But the thing is, at least he's doing something. He's clearly been training his abilities, and he's got some very entertaining ways of trying to kill the people who are trying to kill him. He's clearly got some measure of human compassion even if he doesn't really want David around, or he wouldn't give the guy advice or team up in the "Marvel team-up" fashion. He's got the basis to be a good anti-hero. It's a shame however that they don't do much with him aside from have him willing to set up a bomb to blow up Paladins and captured girlfriend aside once and for all.

Of course, it's a monstrous act, but it's not completely hard to understand. The movie avoids giving him a Han Solo esque redemption by having a huge fight scene between the two Jumpers, with David leading Griffin into a trap and leaving him there. We don't know if/when he gets out, which is pretty fucking annoying because by this point he was the only interesting part of the movie.

Aside from the not wanting to kill an innocent girl, there's nothing to make us side with David over Griffin. Admittedly, not wanting to blow up an innocent girl is a big thing. But a part of me can't help but wonder if David would care at all if the innocent girl was someone he'd never met versus the girl that was everything to him since age five.

The conflict between "Paladins" and "Jumpers" could be interesting, but there's no depth or complexity. Griffin's the closest thing to a complex character we have, being all haunted, chased, and half-crazy and more than willing to sacrifice one girl to get rid of the bunches of people trying to kill off his kind. The Paladins however have no such complexity. Samuel L. Jackson's character, and the Paladins as a whole, can be summed up in his oft-repeated "Only God should have this power."

Honestly, if you're going to spout one-dimensional idiocy like that, why not make it "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"? At least that has zip. Hey, I love me some evil religious fanatics as much as the next girl, but would it kill you to try to give them a little flair, even if not depth? How about some red robes? Ooo, or Latin! Something. It was neat that they had technology devices to find the tears in the space time continuum left in the Jumpers' wake and rip them open, but we don't know HOW they got them.

Now of course, there's the big twist. David's mother, who'd left when he was five, was a Paladin! Gasp! She left because he first teleported at age five and she didn't want to kill him. Why she was a paladin to begin with, we don't know. We also don't know why it took ten years for David to teleport again. And while it is at least somewhat a good thing that she left rather than kill her son, it's hard to sympathize with her when we see her all but palatial house toward the end of the movie and remember the kind of squallor she left her husband and son in. Also, there's a throwaway daughter/half-sister who's sole job appears to be to scream "Mom!" when David comes to see her. The sister seems to be a Hollywoodized 17-18. By which, I mean she looks twenty-five. Clearly she wasn't born that long after Mary Rice ditched the family, so one wonders whether she deliberately kept a child from her innocent husband and son, or if she went on the rebound REALLY fast.

Mary has the potential to be interesting. She's clearly high enough up in the ranks of the Paladins to override Samuel L. Jackson's ambush plans and only send two men instead of an army to capture him in Rome. But all she does to help her son is thrust the keys to his handcuffs at him. There is a moment when, in her ex-husband's house, Samuel L. Jackson sees a picture of her, but there isn't much of a visible reaction and no consequences in this movie. You'd think the guy would have more of a reaction to the woman who'd changed his plans in Rome, let their quarry escape, who just HAPPENS to be the lead character's mother.

I did like the bit where she hugs him and tells him "Because I love you, I'm giving you a headstart." Since that character as a villainess could be fairly awesome. But it still doesn't overcome the general apathy of the entire storyline.

(And by the way, the whole teleporting a room of the building was an obvious plot progression as soon as Griffin mentioned knowing a guy who tried to teleport a whole building and died in the process.)

I did feel sorry for Rachel Bilson. All she got to do was look cute, petulantly, if understandably, demand answers, and get hoisted around place-to-place by David. As much as I thought she was a moron to accept an invitation to Rome from a guy she hasn't seen in eight years, I felt bad for her with what happened next.

And by the way, when David kept zipping about to prevent her from running when he finally does tell her the truth, standing in front of her, teleporting behind her when she ran, et al, that was really not indicative of a good relationship dynamic damnit. I mean, hell, all he had to say after the initial teleport is "Look, these people want to kill me because of what I can do and they're coming for you because I was stupid enough to drag you with me to Rome, I'm sorry" and teleport her away. Preferably to some place SHE knows, not to your new friend's nifty underground lair. Dick.

A good ending could have probably mitigated a lot of my complaints, but honestly, the ending was a paltry weak sputter which screamed "Look! Loose ends! Sequel!" I don't think I ever made it to the book's end, but the movie definitely doesn't encourage me to seek it out. Bah.

At least the company was good, the movie sucked. I'd have gladly watched a movie about that Griffin fellow though. He seemed kind of neat.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Titleless Post Today

I have no post today. None. And lots of things due.

But I do have a dumb newbie question. Can anyone tell me if there's an issue of the Avengers, or maybe some other Marvel Comic, that contains Nick Fury and Jarvis interacting for like a scene or something?

Because I've never seen the two characters interact and I think it would be interesting. Unfortunately, I'm too Marvel-clueless to know where to look. Anyone got advice?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kelly as Catwoman is Kinda Creepy

Am I the only one a little creeped out by this?

Okay, I acknowledge now, I'm probably being irrational. Especially as I have much much approval for barbie dolls dressed up like superheroes.

But I'm irrationally creeped out by the fact that of ALL the superheroes DC's got to offer, they have Kelly and Tommy dressed like Batman and Catwoman. I guess it's a bit of the prude in me, since well, I tend to think Batman's a little more adult in tone than a lot of the other heroes. I'd be more comfortable seeing the kid dressed like Robin or Superman, but well, it's hardly surprising.

I'm more uneasy about Kelly in the Catwoman costume though. I love Catwoman's current costume, I really do, and I'd love seeing it on an "adult" doll. But there's something about putting Barbie's little sister (Is Kelly the baby? Or Staci? I always get Barbie's family confused) in that costume really gives me the creeps.

I know that's silly, considering most of the heroes dress in skin tight spandex anyway, and it's really dumb that I'd be more comfortable with Kelly in the spandex purple number Selina wore previous, but that's the way I feel. There's something about a zipped up black leather catsuit that seems a lot more...borderline X-rated than mere silly purple spandex. I'm really terribly uncomfortable seeing a child-doll in that costume. (It probably doesn't help my subconscious that to me, anyway, Batman and Catwoman are among the most overtly sexual pair-ups in the DCU.)

I don't know. Irrational as it probably is, I really wish they'd decided to switch them, with Kelly as the Barbara Gordon Batgirl and Barbie as Selina Kyle. This way gives me the creeps.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Solicits and Miscellaneous Marvel Musings!

Yay! We've got Solicits! (DC and Marvel!)

Now most readers of this blog know I'm about 90% DC fan to 10% Marvel fan. Nothing against Marvel of course, it's just a matter of general personal tastes with regards to specific characters/storytelling structures. For May though, I'm actually more excited about Marvel's output, mostly because of THIS:

Where has Nick Fury been and who are the new Howling Commandos? It’s the debut of all-new characters and some surprising revelations about some classic ones as Nick starts to put his plan to stop the Invasion together. But will it be enough?
The Eisner award-winning team of Bendis and Maleev bring this very important Secret Invasion issue to life.
32 PGS.(each)/Rated A …$2.99 (each)

Yay! Nick Fury's back!!! I missed that lunatic! And he's got a plan! SCORE!

So is he going to take over SHIELD again? Because Tony might think he's running SHIELD, but I bet if Fury snapped they'd come running.

I'm also really excited about Avengers/Invaders #1. I'd like to see the Avengers interacting with a Steve that predates even Bucky-angst. I don't think they'll stick around of course, (and honestly, that version isn't really the Steve I WANT to come back for good), but it promises to be really fun.

I wonder if the "other Captain America" in the Captain America title will be a tie-in to this Steve of someone else entirely.

I'm kind of not really surprised that they have a Heroes Writer doing Ultimate X-Men. It seems like an idea that could go well or backfire. To be fair, as lackluster as I found the current season, Heroes has seemed to have done really well and given that the Ultimate Universe is a bit edgier/more modern than 616, I'd imagine the styles are fairly compatible. It might be interesting to see how it goes.

Iron Man as head of SHIELD still makes me twitch no matter how many months intoo it it is. Don't get me wrong, I don't actually dislike Tony. But, while he's unmistakably a genius in many many capacities, I can NOT comprehend how any sane person ever thought him a suitable head of SHIELD. Seriously. Egads.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Martian Request?

It occurs to me that I have a really irrational dislike of the Martian Manhunter. I honestly have no idea why. Especially since I enjoy Miss Martian quite a bit.

The odd thing is that I really really should like him. I love aliens nearly as much as I do robots. I think shapeshifting and telepathy are cool. (I think they're ripe with fascinating potential with regards to identity also.) I like that J'onn has an obvious weakness too, to keep him from being too overpowered. I like the color green.

And hell. Mars is cool.

But the character himself just leaves me cold.

I think it's because he's so mopey. Every time I read him, it seems like he's moping. Which isn't really a fair complaint given that the character does have legitimate tragedy, but when am I rational?

I think the real problem is that I never really was able to get a sense of his identity, about what makes the character tick beyond being a vaguely stern authoritative figure that also seems to serve as group telepathic network when not shrinking away from fire or having yet another angst breakdown.

I'm sure he's probably a good character, but I just don't get him.

So any J'onn fans out there got any storyline/comic recommendations for me so I might learn to appreciate him better?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Insert Title Here

Screw action figures, I've decided I want Marvel to mass produce actual Nick Fury LMDs.

Wouldn't you buy your very own Furybot if you had the chance? I know I would, even if I had to sell my non-existent first born to do it!

Furybots are awesome.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Aren't ALL DC Heroes Derivative?

Valerie D'Orazio has an interesting post up here responding to David's post here all relating to the discussion of minority characters.

It's an interesting discussion, but she raises a point of argument that I don't think is particularly valid on examination when she says:

Seems to me, David, the real shame is that John Irons had to be originally cast in Superman's image, not his own.

That John Stewart had to be cast in Green Lantern/Hal Jordan's image, not his own.

That Jakeem Thunder had to be cast in Johnny Lightning's image, not his own.

That Shilo Norman had to be cast in Mister Miracle's image, not his own.

That Ryan Choi had to be cast in The Atom's image, not his own.

That Kathy Kane had to be cast in Batman's image, not her own.

Do you know why that happens, David, behind-the-scenes?

Because editors are afraid that a non-white non-male non-straight character cannot lead their own comic unless they are tied in to a preexisting character. Because there is the perception behind-the-scenes that "women books don't sell," that "Black books don't sell," "that books with gays don't sell," etc.

I don't think that's the reason at all.

John Stewart was created in Hal Jordan's image, yes. And Ryan Choi was created in Ray Palmer's. But that's rather ignoring the fact that both Hal and Ray were part of a movement that derived names from previous properties as well. John is derived from Hal. Hal is derived from Alan Scott. Ryan is derived from Ray. Ray is derived from Al Pratt.

Kathy Kane was created in Batman's image. But Kathy Kane was a straight female character. Kate Kane, the lesbian was created in Kathy Kane's image. Much like Jason Todd and Tim Drake are derived from Dick Grayson. Or Barbara Gordon is derived from Bruce Wayne.

Jakeem Thunder's not the first derivative of Johnny Thunder, he's just the only one that stuck. And while Scott Free is not a derivative character, Shilo Norman's hardly the only derivative of a 4th World character. Both of those characters, it must be noted originate in stories where EVERY character is either a Golden Age character re-envisioned or a derivative of a Golden Age hero. And John Henry was created in the same move that created Hank Henshaw and Conner Kent.

I'm not saying DC is perfect or that there aren't serious problems in their treatment of minority characters. But to compare DC's treatment of Marvel's with regards to minority characters in the terms of which one's characters are more derivative of existing white heroes is ridiculous.

Derivative characters are the staple of the DCU. It's how it introduces new characters of any type. I think if you look at DC's output, their frontrunners, you're going to see either 1) characters created in the Golden Age, 2) characters created in the Silver Age using the names of characters in the Golden Age, 3) characters introduced to fill out groups starring Silver Age or Golden Age characters (JSA, JLA, Teen Titans, All-Star Squadron), 4) derivatives of any characters that fit categories 1,2 or 3 such as kid sidekicks, girl versions, rivals, partner heroes, replacement/legacy characters or the like, or 5) miscellaneous other characters from any of the aforementioned heroes' personal books

Essentially, it's like a bullseye diagram. Golden age characters in the center, and then extending outward. I think you'd be hard pressed to find any character, be he straight white male or not, leading a book who doesn't fit into the bullseye somewhere. All new characters must connect somehow with what came before.

In contrast, Marvel is a lot less about derivative characters and more about group filling. We need a new batch of X-Men, okay, let's make one of them a black woman from Kenya with weather powers! Let's slot out a few Avengers, okay, let's bring in the ruler of a fictional African country! I think they're also more likely to introduce solo characters with no real tie to any existing group. (Young Avengers is the only book I can think of off the top of my head where most of the characters involved seem to have been created in the DC style: that is derived specifically from, or created to appear derived specifically from, pre-existing heroes.)

I'm not saying this is a bad thing. I think both methods have their uses and creates fantastic characters. I do think characters created by DC will end up a bit more obviously derivative. Characters created by Marvel will probably be a lot more individualized in terms of powers and name. I know personally part of the reason I tend to prefer DC over Marvel is that I like sidekicks and legacies and lineages and generations which DC's method provides and Marvel's doesn't. Everyone's tastes are different though.

But I don't think using John Henry's derivation from Superman to compare him negatively to Black Panther is fair, when really I think that's indicative more of the companies's policies in general than their policies toward race/sex/sexual orientation in particular. You're going to end up with a greater number of derivative minority characters if most of the characters you create are already derivative.

Now as to which company gives their minority characters more exposure/attention once created, that would probably be a much better area for comparison, but it's not one I feel personally equipped to tackle.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Superheroine Barbie Dolls

I'm not actually much of a doll person, but looking at the 2008 black label Barbie dolls,

I particularly like the Black Canary one. The level of detail is very nice. I also like the Batgirl one. I'm not as impressed with the Wonder Woman's cape, but I do think the dolls are exquisite.

So pretty!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Disjointed thoughts on Tokenism

I was reading David Brothers's awesome post on dismissing minority characters as "editorial fiat" or "token" and well, I pretty much wanted to post how much I agree with it.

I've blogged my own thoughts about tokenism before.

There are plenty of reasons to criticize the practice of token characters. I've blogged before about how I hate the "And then there's the girl" phenomenon where there's that one female character amidst the crowd of male characters that essentially is supposed to embody everything that is woman. I'd imagine that the frustration is similar for black readers, gay readers, and so on.

There's a flipside, however. As annoying as I may find Cheetara as a character (to use one of my own examples), if she's taken out...well then, there would be NO adult women on the original Thundercats team.

That's not a solution.

I get rather uncomfortable when I read people dismiss a particular character as being "token" because I think it oversimplifies the issue. (I am being a bit of a hypocrite here, because I know I've done that too, but it's my blog and thus my prerogative.) A lot of really good characters came about as a "token" effort to include a bit of diversity.

Like Supergirl for example. Supergirl is the poster child of a token created character. While I have no way of truly knowing what the creative process was behind Supergirl, I bet you ten-to-one that the creators started with this line on paper: "A girl version of Superman."

Of course "girl-Superman" isn't all that Supergirl is as a character and doesn't encompass all of Kara Zor-El's particular ins and outs (regardless of which version you look at). But that's probably how it started.

And that's not a bad thing. What's bad is when creators take the token concept and just stop.

The thing is, that's pretty curable. A walking stereotype can be developed fairly easily with an interested creator behind him or her. Take for example, Snapper Carr. I know not everyone who visits this blog is a fan of course. But I quite like him. In his first appearances in the JLA though, I'd say he fits a token "young slang-using audience stand-in" type role. He's pretty fucking annoying at that. But the thing is, ultimately, over the course of years and even decades, a couple of writers decided to try new things with the character. Some of it was stupid, sure, but some of it was good, and by the time I read Hourman, I ended up finding him one of my favorite characters.

That's the nice thing about comics. It's really easy to add depth and layers long after the character is originally introduced. They never have to be static.

And in general, I think the results are pretty good. John Stewart is awesome. He is always awesome. And I challenge anyone who doesn't think he's awesome to read Mosaic. And heck, you don't see Hal, Guy or Kyle being offered membership into the Alpha Lanterns, do ya? (If you do, don't spoil me, I'm behind in my comics again. :-))

Firestorm? Jason's fantastic. My favorite parts of the comic were when he was teamed with Ronnie inside his head because we really got to see the contrast between the characters and I really liked the rapport, but I pretty much enjoyed every inch of his run.

Michael Holt is brilliant, awesome and easily handles both Checkmate and JSA with aplomb. And for all that "Black Lightning" is not the most original codename, I think they've managed to do a lot with Jefferson Pierce over the years to give him a very interesting perspective and a weight of experience that a lot of the other heroes lack.

It is kind of amusing how they keep dragging out previously-unheard-of offspring for him, but I'm the sort that loves to giggle at the Summers family tree. I really enjoy family dynamics and generational herodom. So I'm looking forward to seeing the new guy.

I won't argue that all of these characters probably did originate as editorial fiat or an attempt to shove a "token" black person on the team. But honestly, with results like these, does it matter? Besides, is it really that different from making the upteenth new young white straight male hero and shoving HIM on the team? If you're gonna make a new character anyway, why not occasionally change the pattern up a little?

Personally, I think what matters is results. We should have more diversity in our heroes, not less. If a writer decides he or she wants more women, racial minorites, gay characters, and decides to throw a few more out there, that's great! If the editors decide the teams are a little too lily white and want to try something new, I think that's a good thing. Even if they fuck it up, and I'm SURE they're going to fuck it up occasionally, they've still added something to the giant shared sandbox that is the DCU (or Marvel U, for that matter) that someone else can pick up and spin to gold.

I think it's worth the try.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

I'm cannibalizing a two year old post to bring you this Valentine's day blog-card.

As Etrigan will tell you...

Love yourself and the rest will follow.

Happy Valentines Day!

(With thanks to Matt Wagner.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Best Crossover Pairing Ever

It's occurred to me, that the most awesome crossover pairing ever would be...

Amanda Waller and Nick Fury.

I'm not sure how exactly it would work, and it might very well destroy the multiverse in the process, but it would entertain the crap out of me.

Also, there might be LMD Amanda Wallers. And that would be kind of awesome.


I just hope they don't breed.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why am I ALWAYS the last to know?

So...apparently there's a GI-Joe movie now?


I mean, I guess I can see it. But still, what IS it with the trend of 80s cartoons being made into movies recently?

And does this mean we might get a He-Man movie that doesn't actually suck? (Though admittedly, Dolph Lundgren was very pretty...) I could go for a He-Man movie. Or an Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers movie. Just too bad Jerry Orbach's passed on, since well, voice acting aside, they clearly based Zachary Foxx's character design on him. Those eyebrows are intentional damnit. It could work, Firefly's DVD sales seem to indicate folks like space-westerns!

Still, I'm slightly weirded out by the idea of a GI-Joe movie. It's like my childhood's come back and has started whapping me in the face with a frozen halibut. I mean, I'll probably like it, but the trend still boggles the fuck out of me.

For the record, I still think Thundercats is gonna suck.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dumb Question - Why Phone Booths?

Okay, this is probably one of those things that gives away my utter cluelessness as to certain aspects of superhero comics still, but...

Why does/did Clark Kent change in a phone booth at all?

I mean...every phone booth I've ever seen is transparent. Glass. Can see in and out. Which means if anyone glances over, they're gonna see some guy changing in there. Okay, presumably, he can change faster than the human eye can see, but...then why does he need a phone booth?

I mean, okay, he probably doesn't want to change in mid-step, in case someone should see that where Clark Kent was standing a moment ago, Superman is now. But I hardly see how seeing Clark Kent enter a phone booth and Superman step out is any better. Phone booths are small and have only one exit. It's not like passing someone in the hall.

So. Um. Why a phone booth?

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Huh, this Trinity thing sounds kind of interesting. On one hand, I kind of feel the same as Brainfreeze here. I mean, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman all have comics of their own, and in the case of the boys, multiple comics. On the other hand, I do like seeing Wonder Woman on an even keel with the guys. And I do think that using the big name heroes definitely means it ought to sell.

And it IS Busiek. I like Busiek.

I suppose I'll give it a shot at least. It'll be interesting to see what direction it goes in. Maybe there'll be some interesting team-ups and minor character appearances as well.

But the fan-entitled little brat inside my brain is still whining that my favorite character shares a title with a huge group of legends, growing bigger all the time, and gets maybe one line every five issues or so, while Batman and Superman get like five titles a piece.

Oh well, I'm sure I'll get over it. :-P

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Okay, I know I totally abused my placeholder thingy on Thursday, but well, the combination of a massive amount of crap due, a mock trial competition (I didn't make it to the semi-finals, but I'm reasonably satisfied with my performance :-)) and a massive headache mean I can't think of a damn thing to post.


I'll try to have real content tomorrow, right now I'm going to feel sorry for myself and take a nap.

Oh and today's entertaining search term is "husbands crossdressed on bet"

Thinking about all the DCU hero-type husbands that that could apply to...hee, that IS amusing. Night!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fanclubs, Tabloids and Other Thoughts

SallyP's post mentioning Hal Jordan having a teenaged fan-club (which I second as being an awesome idea) got me thinking a few mostly unrelated thoughts.

1) If this is a universe where young girls put posters of superheroes on their walls like girls here do musicians and the like, which hero would be the preteen draw?

I mean, thinking specifically of the "pre-teen heartthrob types" I remember, they all tended to be rather non-threateningly pretty, not-quite-androgynous-but-not-remotely-"manly" types. You know, like the boy-bands or Leonardo DeCaprio, I have no idea what young girls are into nowadays. Anyway, that sort.

I mean, acknowledging of course that there's an element of cookie cutter boyscout-ness to most of the superheroes, I'm not really sure I can think of a whole lot of heroes that would suit that particular fanbase. Nightwing maybe? But he IS a Gothamite, and they're kind of intimidating. He may also be too overtly sexual. Hal is certainly out. Kyle MAYBE, but I dunno there.

Maybe Connor Hawke. He's cute, young, only barely not-virginal and monkishly non-threatening. I bet his hospital room's filled with tons of flowers and teen girl tear-blotched "Get well soon" cards. Aw.

2) I'm also reminded of one of the Black Circle arc comics where a girl sees Kyle fly off and boasts that she banged him (identifying him as Guy Gardner, heh.) But it got me thinking of the tabloid industry in the DCU (or Marvel Universe for that matter). Not so much the Star or Enquirer types, I'm sure they have plenty of fodder. ("Superman's secret fling!" "Is the Flash gay?" "Batman v. Aquaman, the feud no one wants you to see!")

But what about the REAL tabloid rags. You know, like Weekly World News or the Sun or that sort. The "I'm having an alien's baby", "Satan lives in my shoe" or "Scientists clone encephalitic ebola monkey".

I mean. In the DCU, that's gotta be like..."My mother slept with the mailman" or something. Fairly earthshaking on a personal level, but ya know, fairly ho-hum to the rest of the world. Who doesn't know someone who hasn't gotten knocked up by an alien? Sheesh!

What do you use for wild and crazy news when that sort of thing is positively mundane?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Birthday Placeholder

Well, since February 7th happens to be the anniversary of that splendid day I was born, I've decided that I'm taking a break from blogging today.

Hey, I'm a whole quarter-century old now. I'm practically ancient and I need a nap! :-)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Quick Post

So there's a Wolverine and the X-Men series now?

Egads. I have to say, honestly and in my opinion, Wolverine is the most overrated character in the vast history of comic books.

There, I said it.

I mean, I do get the appeal. I don't begrudge folks who like him, but must he dominate EVERY bit of non-comic X-media?

Okay, well, to be fair, I'm sure he doesn't dominate every bit of non-comic x-media but it certainly seems that way to me. Yes, Hugh Jackman is attractive. And yes, claws are cool. But yeesh, there are so many other interesting X-Men out there.

I'm not being fair. I don't know how the animated series will be. I liked the 90s one and I loved Evolution, so I'll probably like this one too.

But did they really have to give him top billing? Really? Hmph.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

McKeever Leaving BoP?

Apparently Sean McKeever's leaving Birds of Prey. (Via) I have to admit, I wasn't too enamored with his Birds of Prey thus far, but I figured he needed time to get settled a bit.

Honestly though this is probably the best situation, since from what I read, I really do think McKeever's talents best lie with teenagers and young adult characters. Teen Titans seems like it's a much better fit for him.

I wonder if they can get Bedard back for Birds of Prey. He had some uneven moments, but I thought he had a lot of potential. Also, I'm constantly annoyed that right when it seems like he's really settled into a book (BoP, Supergirl), he gets rotated out again. I want to see what the man can do.

Oh well, I'm sure it'll be good, whoever they choose. :-)

Monday, February 04, 2008

My Thoughts on Recent Case Developments

You know, I have to say, I've never particularly cared whether Stephanie Brown got a memorial case or not. I wasn't fond of the character in either incarnation, but I would rather have had a case for Steph as Spoiler rather than Robin. But I didn't really care either way.

But thinking about the recent mention of the lack in Robin and the dream sequence in Batman, I have to say that I'm with Ragnell here.

Whether this is a stunt or something more, I think it's ultimately a good thing. They've been listening and they're actually acknowledging that there's a good portion of the comics reading population who thinks the treatment of Stephanie is unfair.

It's funny because, as I said, I never much cared about the character or the cause, but I'm actually quite elated about this. I don't know if it's a change in attitude suddenly, or indicative of something that's been planned for a long time, but either way, I think it means something. Even if it's just "Yes, we know you exist." It's still something.

I really do think this is a good thing. :-)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Now That I'm Not Delusional...

Having determined that I'm not crazy (at least with regards to THAT) I went on Amazon and purchased a used copy of the Siegfried and Roy cartoon series/movie for .01 dollars (and 2.98 shipping and handling) and it has arrived!

It's fairly standard fantasy fare, but not nearly as wretched as I expected. Though the fact that the starring characters are, sort-of, Siegfried and Roy, means that there are some interesting changes.

Siegfried's a fairly standard hero for this sort of story. The somewhat roguish everyman. He's a trickster and illusionist and is generally out for a buck. He gets to be the one that starts off relatively clueless to the major plot/conflict of the story. He also has a gnome sidekick whose name I still can't recall.

Roy gets to be the wounded mysterious fugitive with a special book and a magic tiger who gets to be all empathetic and with a special bond to animals. He's serious and a bit angsty, and by turns impressed or exasperated with Siegfried's derring-do. He's the one who basically gets the others involved in the plot.

It's kind of interesting, from a long-time fantasy fan's perspective, because while both characters are fairly standard archetypes, Roy's is one that (at least when teamed up with a character like Siegfried) tends to be female. This is not to say that Roy's character is at all effeminate. Merely that in the traditional story pattern, when the roguish ne'er do well ends up stumbling across the wounded and solemn fugitive who clues him into a greater quest which ultimately shows him that there's more than just money/prestige/fame/whatever, that character's usually female.

It's interesting that of all the stereotypical story patterns they could use, the writers went with one so, well, traditionally heterosexist. Having both be male makes an interesting dynamic.

The tiger is a rocking sidekick by the way, as is the flying hawk thingy. They never, however, really explain why Roy can apparently psychically communicate with them or why he has the seer's book to begin with.

Or why his accent tends to fluxuate from germanic to pseudo-Irish at a moment's notice. And sadly, it's still steadier than whatever it is that comes out of Siegfried's mouth. (Neither the real Siegfried or Roy provide the voices).

The princess Estella is an interesting character. Even if she does get sidelined for most of the story. She's pretty, daring and stubborn. When she came on screen I figured that her presence was there to...well...straighten the proceedings up so to speak.

Honestly, if that were the intention, it failed miserably. When she offers her hand in marriage to whoever figures out a way to help her father, Siegfried's enthusiasm is strictly expressed in terms of the profit/money gained. He never once expresses any sort of physical attraction to the princess herself.

He actually seems to spend most of his time invading Roy's physical space, touching his shoulder or arm, and pestering him about letting him use the cat in his act.

After a while, I was starting to think that was a metaphor. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway, the princess gets sidelined fairly quick anyway, so as not to interrupt the growing romance dashing adventures of the two men.

The overall plot is fairly lame, but with a few interesting bits here and there. I thought the possessing spirits of greed and pride were particularly striking in the manner in which they were used. King Midas's touch is the usual mythic cliche, sure, but the way that the spirit menaced, tormented, and then physically invaded the king was rather strikingly horrible for a cartoon. I was impressed.

They couldn't seem to quite decide which mythos they were using. We had King Midas, the Titans, Medusa, Grendel, some personifications of the seven sins, Zeus and Loki. Zeus, by the by, was a wife stealing dick. So at least some things were fairly true to the source material. :-P

It was definitely clearly a couple of episodes first, rather than a single movie. There were odd repetitions, marking episode breaks, and the structure was definitely more in four or so mini-climaxes rather than one movie climax.

The ending was reasonably satisfying, though clearly more intended to be the beginning of a series rather than the end of a movie, as the main quest (save the Tiger!!!) is still ahead of them. Siegfried does of course decide not to marry the princess, and instead goes off with his one true love partner, the gnome, the tiger, and the bird to seek adventure. While still pestering him about Roy letting him use the cat in his act.

Yep. Definitely a metaphor.

And one that's well worth the three bucks I spent to get it. :-)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Miscellaneous Musing

I have a thing about certain types of storylines. Essentially, I'm one of those sorts of people that will read or watch almost anything, no matter how stupid, if someone describes it in the right way.

To put it in perspective, I watched a whole year's worth of Charmed JUST to see the seekrit kid from the future's storyline.

God that was a horrible show.

I mean really really bad. But "seekrit kid from the future" is one of those sorts of plots that I will torture myself with sheer crap just to see. Another one is "character is secretly related to other character." I know, I know, it's cliche. But...

Maybe I'd just watched Star Wars a bit too much in my youth. I don't know. But I just can't resist the whole "Luke, I am your father thing."

(I've, for the record, never forgiven Earth: Final Conflict for not resolving their secret evil father, good son relationship damnit. What good is it, if the other character never finds out?!)

I'm only saying this now, because my ex-roommate, who is inexplicably a Power Rangers fan, is evil. And has very recently informed me that one of the main characters in the recent series has been be a robot! (Well, android, but robot's more fun to say.)

"Revealed to be a robot!!!" is one of my FAVORITE storylines EVER! Which of course means I have to go hunt down and watch this wretched show (I did get to see the robot revelation episode, which, to be fair, had a couple of surprisingly creepy/surprising moments for a kids' show).

But yeah, I really have no willpower or sense of self-preservation, clearly.

On the plus side, it's still better than Charmed...

Friday, February 01, 2008

New Dresden Poster!

Oooo, check out the new Dresden Files poster available:

So, so pretty...

On a tangential note, it's occurred to me that I really wish someone would do an adaptation of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan saga. Mostly because I think it'd be cool and I <3 the series muchly. But also because I still have the damnedest time trying to figure out what Quaddies actually look like and I'd really like some talented artist to figure that out for me. :-)

But anyway, I kind of want that poster. :-)