Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

Open Letter to Brian Michael Bendis

Dear Mr. Bendis,

I would just like you to know that I'm very sorry that my and many of my fellow comic bloggers' posting styles lack the thoughtful, long form investigative journalism that you'd prefer to see.

Perhaps if you paid us more, we would be more than happy to accomodate your tastes in the future.

Or you know, paid us at all.

But since this is a labor of love, I'll tell you what I've told other people who've complained about the content of my personal blog over the years: if you want to see something other than what I post, then there's nothing stopping you from writing it yourself.

Blogger and wordpress are free, Mr. Bendis. I hope you have as much fun blogging as I do. :-)

Looking forward to your future endeavors,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Personal Update

On the plus side: FINALLY got my diploma! Yay! I'm officially a law school graduate!

On the minus side: Hit a deer with my car.

On the plus side: Not hurt! Only winged the car.

On the minus side: Car goes in for repairs.

On the plus side: I get to take Friday off work!

On the minus side: Days off are boring, and all I do on them is be lazy and read really awful fanfiction. (:-P)

On the plus side: I think I can count it as win in my vendetta against deer.

On the minus side: Deer vendettas aren't as funny when I might have killed one.

On the plus side: No body though. So it might have been okay. Deer are tough little bastards.

On the minus side: I think that makes it a loss, because I don't think the DEER is taking the day off work tomorrow.

...Fucking deer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Okay then

So, um, Chloe Sullivan? Really?

I suppose I shouldn't talk because I'm the only person I know who's never cared for Smallville. (I'll grant though, they can stunt cast like no one's business. But Jeeze. Teri Hatcher as Lois's MOM. I feel SO OLD right now!)

I never really got the Chloe love, during the brief time I watched the show. She seemed very Lois-lite to me (without the parts that makes Lois endearing), and while she seemed to be a slightly better actress than Lana, I never quite connected to her. To be fair, I watched before they brought in REAL Lois, and I'd imagine that bringing in the genuine article would have given them the opportunity to really distinguish Chloe from her. I'd like to watch to find out sometime, but the show still makes my brain throb.

(It doesn't help that I was never particularly fond of the show's take on Lex Luthor, either. John Glover will never not be awesome though.)

Eh, I can't complain though. I like the idea of fleshing out Clark's past a bit beyond the standard bits. And I'm always glad to see new/different female characters slid into shared universe. She could turn out interesting in her own right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Button Blues

I haven't posted on the whole issue of the conspicuous lack of Wonder Woman on a particular publicity image. Mostly because I don't have that much to say.

For me, I don't think it really means much. I do think the image seems oddly incomplete. It seems like it'd balance better if they scooched Superman over closer to Flash, and put Diana in the middle. But I don't think it's a particular sign that they're phasing Diana out in favor of Barry or Hal.

GL might be big right now, and the movie will help, but there's no way that Green Lantern has greater brand name recognition than Wonder Woman. Girls of all ages who've never picked up a comic carry Wonder Woman backpacks, lunchboxes, and have dolls and Halloween costumes. Women who weren't even born during the 1970s have practiced Lynda Carter's spin. In contrast, the vast majority of people you see wearing or carrying Green Lantern merchandise are 30-40-someting men. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not that well known a property. And honestly, as I pointed out in the comments of Ragnell's post. There's a great many people who, if you ask if they know who Green Lantern is, will answer "Oh, yeah! Bruce Lee played his sidekick Kato, right?" (This is actually a direct quote from my mother.)

My guess is cynically that they're marketing the pen to young men, so they put on the four main male characters. I don't think it's a conscious exclusion of women. Merely that there are times when the Big Two market toward women (I've always thought they've missed several opportunities myself, but no one asks me these things. :-)) and sometimes when they don't. This, I suspect is the latter.

A friend had an alternate suggestion on AIM that I thought was valid. He suggested from a design standpoint, the issue could be in Wonder Woman's logo. It IS a kind of awkward shape to be highlighted in silhouette. In her various costumes it would be too big, or two small, and if they used the girdle version, it wouldn't match up location wise with the other logos. In my opinion, they should have tried a little harder, but I appreciate that sometimes laziness wins out.

I definitely think that people have the right to be upset though. Because it's not really about the pin, but the feeling that people have that Wonder Woman (and by extension the female comic fanbase) isn't as appreciated as Batman and Superman. (Some of the commenters to Ragnell's post don't really help, let me add.) The thing is, it doesn't matter if you as a fan think Wonder Woman deserves her position in the big Three, or if you think she got in through some sort of comics marketing Affirmative Action. The fact is, you're dealing with the most mainstream SPECIFICALLY female-oriented franchise* with seventy-odd years of history.

(* Say what you will about Marston's bondage fetish. The fact remains that Wonder Woman was, from the beginning, marketed toward and directed toward female fans. I don't begrudge the guy for potentially getting his rocks off at the same time. Really, I just wish certain modern creators had his knack for subtlety.)

If you start knocking Wonder Woman's role in the DCU. You're going to offend a lot of female fans. You're going to offend a lot of female fans who don't even particularly care for Wonder Woman, the character, or even DC Comics. You don't HAVE to appreciate what she means as a symbol to many of us. Just don't be a complete dick about it.

And it'd be really nice to have a Wonder Woman button. I'd buy it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Movie costume images, ho!

God damnit, I've really let myself slack on this blog. It's a far cry from the first three years, when I posted something every day. I've got to get back to doing that. Yeesh.

It'll help when I can afford reading more comics again. :-) Still though, I've been unforgivably lazy.

On the plus side, in my gap of silence, they've leaked Captain America costume photos.

You know, at first I wasn't sure what to make of it. But I think it's growing on me. I especially like the painted on wings. That seems like a good balance for a feature that looks a little silly, but without removing it altogether (which really doesn't make it look LESS silly).

Really, it might help that I've had many traumatic flashbacks to the Matt Salinger Captain America movie. Really, I'm happy as long as the muscles aren't inflatable.

I'd know if I like it better from front view. From the side, I don't really think the stunt double has the cheekbones to pull off the chin strap, but Chris Evans might.

I'm cautiously excited!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Why I love Legacy Characters...

Over at 4th Letter, David Brothers has an interesting post here about legacy characters. It's worth reading, so go do that and come back.

I can see what he's saying, but ultimately, I think that legacy characters play an important role in the Big Two and I think that it would be lost if it were jettisoned.

I'm not going to argue that it's not frustrating to see a new and interesting legacy character apparently abandoned for a less interesting original character. I liked Ronnie Raymond well enough, but Jason Rusch really had a lot more to draw me in. Ryan Choi brought new life into the Atom. And to me at least, Wally West will always be THE Flash.

And I'd always like to see more completely original heroes because they make the shared world a more complicated and vibrant place.

But I think that there is a point to legacy characters that goes beyond just sliding a new, often more diverse character into the (usually) white, male old guard. For me, it ties into what drew me to DC over Marvel in the first place, and while my tastes are not so uniform anymore, it's still what draws me to the particular comics that I read.

For me, legacy characters bring a sense of time into the universe. A sense of change and growth. Yes, there is backsliding and I won't deny that. And it's always difficult to see a favorite pushed aside or replaced (in either direction). But I like seeing new ideas in comics and I like the idea that someday Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne and company could retire. Not that they will, of course. But they could.

I mean, it's why I could never get into the argument that the Justice Society was better on Earth 2 and has no place in combined post-crisis Earth. As the only major superhero group on their own planet, the Justice Society is just the Justice League by another name. They're a bunch of guys (and gal) banding together with familiar powers to save the world. Cool, yes. But I think in the shared universe, they represent so much more. In the shared universe, they're the OLD old guard. The folk that never rest. The proof that heroism doesn't die, but it goes on, kicking and screaming as long as you do. Just because new guys are the ones stopping the big form alien invasions, doesn't mean there isn't a threat to be stopped.

The old school guys have seen a lot. They've seen the world change. They're relics and hasbeens and throwbacks. And the bits of new that have come in: Mr. Terrific, Dr. Mid-Nite and (sort of) Sanderson Hawkins. They add a sort of spice to the group that nothing is permanent. But that these ties to what came before are important, but that nostalgia isn't the be all and end all point. There's a sense of generation to the Justice Society (and off-shoot teams) that you don't get anywhere else. Of the old teaching the young, side-by-side. Of the young learning from the old directly, not like the Teen Titans and going off to have their own little adventure with conveniently slacking adult supervision, but like an apprenticeship to life. Or a grander version of "take your kid to work" day.

I like legacy characters because they bring the idea of consequence. I mean, yes, those consequences rarely last. But that's what comes of a medium that exists in a weird state of flux in the way that comics do. It's the same reason why death and the like is never permanent in soap operas. When you have something that goes on for decades, never stopping, you're going to go back, revisit, undo, warp, retcon, double-back and so on. It's part of the machine.

But that said, legacy characters give the consequences a bit more merit. As a rare Marvel example, there were fans who sincerely doubted that Marvel would EVER bring Steve Rogers back once Bucky Barnes proved to be so successful and vibrant in the role of Captain America. (And even now, this new set-up is allowing Steve to explore the after-effects of his experience in a way that he wouldn't necessarily get to do, if he went straight back to that cowl and shield.) When Dick Grayson took over for Batman in Prodigal, we suddenly felt that broken back more than if Batman had just slid right back into the role after some odd months of off-panel down time. Barry Allen and Hal Jordan could be dead or evil/possessed/dead for years because there was someone to pick up the slack. Legacy characters add that element of chance, I think.

And it lets there be some lingering effects that won't completely go away, I think. Hal can occasionally dwell on his Parallax experience and guilt complex. Barry Allen can be momentarily dark and bitter. There's more ability to explore consequences I think, when there's someone else who can step in as the hero that's supposed to be wearing the costume. It lets the other be dark, angry, suffering, PTSD, or whatever other condition would not be common in the "traditional" view of a superhero.

Legacy characters also, and this might be the most important thing for me, really bring forth the idea that becoming a superhero gives you something, it makes you more than yourself in some hard to define way.

Take Batman Beyond. Before that show, I would never have thought the idea of a non-Bruce Wayne Batman could ever have really worked beyond a vague hypothetical. For all the Batclan and the way Bat-derivative characters dominate Gotham, I'd felt like Batman was the one DC hero that couldn't TRULY be separated identity from core, Prodigal aside. (Or DC 1 Million aside, because that seemed more gimmicky to work.)

But Batman Beyond really did it. Terry McGinness couldn't be less like Bruce Wayne if he tried (I've always said he was Kyle Rayner with a batsuit instead of a ring). But I felt the IDEA of Batman more watching that show than I ever did. Batman is more than just the people who follow him, and more than just an iconic costume. Batman Beyond's Batman looked nothing like the original, acted nothing like the original. But he was BATMAN.

I love that. I really do. I love the idea that the mythos of the superhero is so strong that even in the universe, they feel it.

I love that Kyle Rayner had doubts that he could ever truly fill Hal Jordan's place as Green Lantern (even though the current GL franchise has modified to be closer to the Batclan than a uniform legacy line.) I love that Wally resented him, and Bruce doubted him, and Ollie wanted nothing to do with him.

I love that Wally West felt the burden of Barry's death with everything he did early on as Flash, and how he grew past his own weaknesses and character flaws to surpass his mentor in many ways while remaining his own distinct person.

I love that Tim Drake took like three mini-series to actually earn the right to wear the Robin costume. And that originally, he'd never even intended to take it! Batman needed a Robin, though, and since Dick Grayson vetoed coming back, someone had to take it.

These are only three examples, and they're probably bad examples in many ways. For one thing, they're all white male characters and all still around in some form and don't really address the frustration of having introduced diversity and new faces and then yanking them back. But they do illustrate what works best about the legacy idea for me. The idea that each of these characters, whether they were former sidekicks, complete strangers, whether they intended to or not, found themselves joining something bigger than them already in progress.

What I really wish is that we could separate the idea of "legacy characters" from "replacement characters". Because for me, that's what hampers these new characters more than anything else. Because if there can be only ONE Superman, well, then, it's always going to be Clark Kent. If DC is going to pick only one Hawkman or one Atom or one Firestorm, it's probably going to be the one that they think will sell more books, or appeal to the fanbase more. And given the current (perceived) tastes of the fanbase, it's probably going to be the old white dude.

But it doesn't have to. Supergirl, Batgirl/Nightwing/Oracle, and most of the Teen Titans. They're all legacy characters TOO, in my opinion. And ignoring the inheritability of those identities for a moment, they have a sense of permanence that the replacement guys don't. This isn't to say they can't or won't be killed off, but I think they have as much chance as any new hero. (Possibly more, since even if their book is cancelled, they can slip into recurring/supporting cast of the main book.)

What makes Green Lantern so amazing right now, to me, is that they took a legacy concept (Hal->Kyle) and the corps premise, and made something new. Guy Gardner, John Stewart (It took long enough!) and Kyle Rayner may not be THE Green Lantern. But they're all around. All prominent. All strong and nifty and playing their own roles. And say what you will about Blackest Night, they all got to do some pretty interesting things there.

Flash managed for quite a while even before Barry came back, by incorporating Jay, Jessie, Bart and so on in a wider net. And of course, there's the Batclan.

I definitely think we should have new characters, too. And I think it would be good, even, to put a moratorium on legacy characters for the time being (at least, legacy replacements. New Green Lanterns are always fun.) If nothing else, we ought to create more NEW legacies that others can inherit. But I still think that there is a power to legacy characters, and a meaning and depth they bring to the story that I'd hate to lose.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Parenthetical heavy babble about Fantastic Four movie rumors.

Truth be told, I'm kind of sad to hear about the Fantastic Four reboot movie, because I'm like one in three people who genuinely liked the recent films. Really!

I mean, don't get me wrong, they were pretty stupid. But they were cheesy fun and I liked them and even the casting. (Well, um, except Jessica Alba, who's a lovely girl and all, but her acting style isn't really to my taste. And also, she looked ridiculous with blonde hair. Can't they just have left her dark haired? It's not like we couldn't have figured out that the lady who goes invisible with the blow-up-doll boyfriend and the brother on fire is the Invisible Woman or anything...)

And all the rumors for the Thing aren't very reassuring. CG? Bruce Willis? That makes me a little sad. I thought they did as good job as one can do with Michael Chiklis. (I mean, let's be honest. Ben Grimm's kind of like Steve Rogers in the sense that no matter how you try to modernize the costume/design, it's going to be a little stupid looking. So why worry so much?

As long as they don't go with inflatable muscles. Yeesh.)

I suppose there is the advantage that now Captain America and the Human Torch won't be identical. But it's not really hard to keep them straight. Really. One's on fire, and one's wearing a flag. It's not that hard! Hmph.

(Edited because half my post went away!)