Saturday, August 25, 2007

Venting

I know I complain sometimes, but I am generally happy with the comics I'm buying. That's why I buy them. There's just some things that need to be pointed out, particularly when the problem is harmful like sexism. However, as the editorial direction at DC goes, most of it kicks ass in various ways.

(On the contrary, I can't stand what Marvel's doing which is why you rarely see me on Marvel blogs trashing Marvel staff in the comments of perfectly happy Marvel fans.)

Unfortunately, I can't bow out of the online comics community without dumping WFA entirely on Kalinara's shoulders (and that's mean) so I get to go and read everyone constantly complaining about the stuff I really enjoy, and oftentimes marrying it to a complaint I have as though that makes it more legitimate.

For example, A) "There's a conspiracy to kill off JLI characters" is often connected to a complaint about B) the proliferation of rape in comics due to Sue Dibny's treatment in Identity Crisis.

The two opinions can co-exist in one mind, that's no problem for me. The problem is when B is used to prop up the legitimacy of "A."

It comes in a little tiny hint sometimes, like "You hated Identity Crisis, right?" or "You hate retconned rape, like what happened to Sue, right?" in a conversation about hating on a particular writer or editor at DC Comics. The crux of it is that I should agree with them and be hoping for the person in question to be humiliated/fired/maimed/folded/spindled/mutilated because I dislike that storytelling trend and so should dislike everything else associated with the person.

Because apparently no writer has ever written something stereotyped, had the sexism pointed out and gone on to be a better writer. And apparently no good writer has ever let anything slip past him on a bad day.

Its similar to the people who were defending the Killing Joke earlier this week, because "You can't say that about Alan Moore!" Because in that point of view, like the above one, we don't criticize anything unless everything connected with it is utter shit.

All or nothing with some people.

At best, its a serious misunderstanding of the nature of criticism. At worst, its a slimy manipulative technique that places a person somewhere between a worm and a fossilized trilobite in my personal estimation.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Now that I look at it.

I was writing up something on Star Sapphire for Blog@Newsarama and I realized something about this cover. Look at Hal's dialogue.


"She hurled a repelling ray at me! There must be some way I can defeat this mystery woman!"

That picture and those words. That's pretty much Hal and Carol's relationship in a nutshell, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Also Unnerving

Someone in my comments recently called me a "Voice of reason."

How the fuck did that happen?

I'm a Green Lantern fan. I'm not supposed to be a voice of reason. I'm not supposed to be in the same room as Reason! I checked Reason at the door of my first GL fan-club meeting and lost the claim ticket while inside.

And I'm certainly not supposed to be the fan writing reality-checks. I'm not supposed to be the level-headed one. I'm supposed to be the one standing on the hood of a rusted lime green Oldsmobile waiving a Sector 2814 T-shirt in the air to distract Ron Marz while my deceptively mild mannered but similarly deranged sidekick fills water balloons with oil-based paint!

Yeesh, when the Lantern fans have to tell you to rein the fannishness a tad, its gotten bad.

Let's move this conversation here.

So, in my last post (which I figured was going to cause a fight, just not this kind of fight) I said that there was no conspiracy to kill off all old 80s and 90s comedy characters at DC, and some of the commenters thought that the way to refute that statement was to throw my own complaints about how women are treated by the company in my face.

Now, you'll have to pardon me if I misread the statements because my sarcasmometer is still in the shop.

It started here:
Well sure. But there is no conspiracy to treat female characters like shit. It just happens. DC still did a good job of pissing over Giffen's league. They appear to be trying to make up for it though, what with books like the new Booster Gold.
That irritated me:
Yeah, thing about that comparison is, whenever someone reacts saying "There's no conspiracy" we still get to point out that there's a huge system of societal sexism in place causing that to happen, and that people do things like that because of assumptions they were raised with. We also get to point out that this sort of crap is supporting a system of societal sexism that demoralizes people and shoves them into little boxes.

Giffen's league was funny, but DC killing off characters that were basically given to the guy because they were the second- and third-stringers the writers were free to turn evil, maim, or kill off is not the same thing as just about every company in comics falling back on the same shitty tropes, stereotypes and exploitation when it comes to an entire gender.
I should have chosen my words more carefully, because that left everything open for another commenter (yes, one of my regulars and not just some random anonymous person) to really piss me off with this statement:
Killing/maiming/turning evil of 2nd and 3rd tier characters is only a shitty trope if the characters are female?
My long answer (the one I posted):
Way to oversimplify my statement. You know there's a serious difference there.

Look at how Blue Beetle died and how Jade died. Who died having solved a crime and who was a "vessel" for her signifcant other's power?

Compare Phantom Lady's death scene to Black Condor's. Someone died quickly in mid-air and the other lingered with her clothes torn off and asked a miserable, scared "Why?" of a supervillain.

Stephanie Brown's to Jason Todd's. Who's costume went from loose-fitting to skin-tight? Who was drawn as if they were having an orgasm during their death? Who is now back to life?

Hell, even when they go bad, does Max Lord going evil and damned near managing to take over the world seem nearly as fucking pathetic as Jean Loring arranging for a friend's death to get her ex-husband back?

Tomar Re died during a battle in CoIE. Katma Tui died a few years later on the kitchen floor while her husband was at work, without ever getting to put up a fight.

The shittiness is not in the characters dying/going evil/being maimed, but the how and why and how it conforms to a shitty societal standard for what men are allowed to do and what women are allowed to do.

And guess what, even then its not a fucking conspiracy, but just a bunch of people who are used to thinking one way who need to learn to think another.

I'm not going to tell you what to like or hate, or what to complain about, but I am going to tell you that these things are not equal in any way shape or form. One is a hell of a lot worse than the other because of its real-life reflection.
My short answer:
Well, if no one gets to be hurt or in danger or have a moral crisis we really have no story. The problem is when it only happens in certain potentially cool ways for one gender and certain crappy ways for the other gender. Invisible Woman being mind-controlled and turned evil isn't shitty. Invisible Woman being mind-controlled and turned sexy-evil is.

Anyway, now I'm spoiling for a fight and I'd prefer to have it here and not in the comments of the other post which really had nothing to do with gender issues.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Comic Foundry

I don't like reviewing. It makes this blog into a chore when I have to actively dreg up a coherent opinion on something substantial. Aside from the things I'm really fanatical about (which I obsess about endlessly and need to vent on) or the things that inspire some strange insight (that I need to write just to get it out into the conversation), I just enjoy reading and don't comment on it here.

But for whatever reason I accepted an early print copy of Comic Foundry this weekend, even though it meant I had to review it. And now I feel like a total sycophant, because I got something for free and really enjoyed it and now I'm in the position of trying to talk a bunch of people to pay for what I enjoyed for free.

This is awkward.

I tend to stick to comics and the internet for my reading because of my extremely short attention span (it was once described as "the attention span of a gnat on crack" by one of my sister's friends). The first half of Comic Foundry is very nice to my poor attention span. Most of the creator stuff is only a page long, which is good because they have a lot of different personalities packed into this little magazine (the table of contents "Creator Locator" lists about 50 different people). There's a page full of quotes from Darick Robertson [Pg ], a block diagram comparing the Kubert brothers' opinions [Pg 26] and Matt Fraction's guide to seducing Kieron Gillen [Pg 23] sprinkled in along with standard Q&A articles, so it tends towards the surreal sometimes.

The Life+Style section was the best part. It had a feature with four different women reacting to theoretical pickup approaches from five different comic book personalities [Pg 19], cocktail recipes [Pg 19], artists who also play music [Pg 22], a page on items of interest in Maryland [Pg 27], Brian Wood explaining his office decorations [Pg 18] and my personal favorite, tips for comic-themed home decor [Pg 17]!

The longer articles are in the second half of the magazine, and there's a couple that are of particular interest to my regular readers and When Fangirls Attack followers. "Heroine Addict" [Pg 74-77] ranks superheroines by comparing them to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and of course the ones I like score low, I'm not sure whether to bother writing in about that or not) and "Sex and the Superhero" [Pg 62-67], wherein a psychologist analyzes She-Hulk and several covers (including the controversial Heroes for Hire #13).

Which of course brings me to the big draw here. Now, I hear a lot of complaining about Wizard in the feminist comics fan community, and I know from back when I was reading Wizard they really couldn't give two shits about women. As it is, we've been blogging steadily for over a year about women and female characters and most of the online sources have picked up on the issues, and we've seen gender issues touched on in mainstream magazines and news publications but I can't remember when I heard of Wizard or The Comics Journal nodding to anything that's covered on WFA. But here, in black and white print and carried by Diamond Distributors, I see Storm in Black Panther [Pg 77], Wonder Woman in All-Star Batman and Robin #6 [Pg 66], the cover to Heroes for Hire #13 [Pg 67] and how hard it is to tell a sex scene from a cover illustration [Pg 15] all touched upon in the first issue.

I strongly advise anyone who complains about Wizard Magazine and their attitude towards female readers to support this magazine. And if you disagree or have something to add, please write them a letter and see if they print it next issue. Keep the conversation going. I really believe it would be in the best interests of most feminist-minded fans to see this one continue and possibly make it to being a monthly instead of a quarterly magazine.

Comic Foundry is quarterly, black and white, $5.98 an issue and out tomorrow (Wednesday, August 22nd).

Submission Call: 17th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

What: The 17th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans
Where: Spawn of Blogorrhea
When: September 26th
Deadline for Submissions: September 19th
Contact: lee[UNDERSCORE]kottner[AT]mindspring[DOT]com or submission form

Notice:
Accepting Volunteers to Host the 18th Carnival. Email Ragnellthefoul[at]hotmail[dot]com if interested.

Four Important Things All DC Fans Should Know

Since I'm already shooting my mouth off and possibly causing hurt feelings in my comments, let's go over some things here on the mainpage:

1) There is no pro-Hal conspiracy to kill/ruin Kyle Rayner. Kyle becoming Parallax just makes fucking sense from a narrative standpoint since that would be his (and the rest of the DCU's) greatest freaking fear since Kyle first found out what happened to Hal. This story had to happen, and it may as well happen now. If you are worried about how the writer feels about Kyle, reread Rebirth.

Since I've also seen this one theorized, Kyle Rayner is being moved to the Countdown books not to ruin Kyle, but to sucker his rabid fans into buying Countdown. (Seriously, check out today's solicits. See who is prominently featured on the cover of every Countdown tie-in they appear in? Kyle and Donna. Kyle and Donna. Kyle and Donna. They know why people would want to read this stuff, and its not the creative team or the storyline.) Its working for me, and I know its working on some of the rest of you too. If anything, this proves Kyle is safe because they need a character who can draw 40K readers into their crappy crossovers.

(Also, they finally gave him a good costume. Things are looking up!)

2) There was no plot to kill all of JLI and ruin everything Keith Giffen created. (If there was, why is Ice back?) That is why they joke about that at conventions. They are making fun of fans who think that.

3) There is no conspiracy to kill off Young Justice characters. Superboy's copyright was complicated. Bart wasn't selling (possibly because so many of his fans were boycotting DC over other matters, but I'm just guessing based on who I've seen complaining about what online). Secret and Arrowette were removed in the original series. Empress has a fucking stupid civilian name and will never be prominent again because her creator couldn't resist a stupid pun. Lil' Lobo was one of those jokes that was funny for one panel but got overused. (Like a lot of the jokes in Young Justice. I swear, that series was like the Saturday Night Live of superhero comics).

That team is down to two, but they'd be mad to get rid of Tim and I'm just not lucky enough to see Cassie die.

That series wasn't all it was cracked up to be anyway, take it from someone who was the age range of those heroes when they were created. It was good for a laugh, but in the end I remember preferring the big guns in the JLA or the grumpy old men in JSA than the heroes that were supposed to have been my generation's.

4) They actually do hate Kirby fans. Starlin was overjoyed to get to kill off the New Gods. Bastards.

(Or, y'know, that sort of joking around at a convention could be just them fucking with our conspiracy theories again like they consciously did leading up to Identity Crisis, GL: Rebirth, Infinite Crisis...etc...)

Monday, August 20, 2007

November DC

Its that time of the month again! (Shut up Sims, I don't mean that time of the month.) Newsarama has the November pre-solicits up. The full ones should be around by 5 PM on Monday, but it looks like all of the Green Lantern stuff made the early ones.

GREEN LANTERN #25
Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert
Variant cover by Gary Frank

This is it! The most talked-about storyline of the summer, “The Sinestro Corps War,” concludes in this double-sized anniversary issue! Why does Sinestro believe he has won? How will Hal Jordan stop his greatest enemy? What is the truth behind the prophecy of “The Blackest Night”? Where will the end results of this battle take the Green Lantern Corps? What is the bizarre fate of the Anti-Monitor? Why has Earth been assigned so many Green Lanterns? Learn all the secrets! Witness all the battles! Prepare yourself for the startling ending of the greatest epic in the history of Green Lantern!
Retailers please note: This issue will feature two covers that may be ordered separately. For every 10 copies of the Standard Edition (featuring a cover by Ivan Reis & Oclair Albert, retailers may order one Variant Edition (featuring a cover by Gary Frank). See the Previews Order Form for more information.
On sale November 28 • 64 pg, FC, $4.99 US
"Why has Earth been assigned so many Green Lanterns?" There needs to be an explanation for that? Haven't they seen what Earth in the DCU is like? I'd stick a few extras there too! Hell the Guardians could save a lot of time by just basing the Corps on Earth, because if a universal threat isn't from there its headed there anyway.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #18
Written by Peter J. Tomasi
Art and cover by Pat Gleason & Prentis Rollins

“The Sinestro Corps War” epilogue! The fires still burn, the dead are many, and the Green Lantern Corps rises from the ashes to rebuild and continue their mission to protect the universe as the Guardians’ recent decision in the midst of the Sinestro Corps War reverberates within the ranks and alters the Corps forever!
On sale November 28 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
Oa is seriously still on fire in November? This started in June and they still haven't managed to douse it. They need a Green Lantern Fire Brigade because this is hardly the first time in the last 25 years that place has been set ablaze.

TALES OF THE SINESTRO CORPS PRESENTS: ION #1
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Michael Lacomb
Cover by Ivan Reis

Ion is the chosen one of the Green Lantern Corps, whose coming was foretold as a prophecy in the Book of Oa. But now that Kyle Rayner has been possessed by Parallax, can he ever bear the mantle of Ion again? Or will it pass to a completely new bearer? This all-important Sinestro Corps tie-in reveals the answers, and sets the stage for Green Lantern — and Kyle Rayner — for years to come!
On sale November 7 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US
That bug is still inside Kyle by this point? Damn, I was betting on the Parallax special being when it gets moved. DC, that's another dollar you've lost me.

Funny how every other special has been about an active bad guy as the title character, but this one is the second one about Kyle and instead of Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax #2 or Green Lantern Special: Ion we have Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Ion. It makes me wonder if Sinestro's going to try to place Ion inside one of his lackeys to make a second Parallax-level ally. I mean, everything we've seen has suggested that Kyle was in the driver's seat while Ion was boosting the engine. Sinestro himself said Ion wasn't a possessing force like Parallax, but a support entity. There's no reason to think that a bad guy hosting the whale would be anything other than a bad guy. Sinestro would be stupid not to try this.

Most importantly though, who the fuck is Michael Lacomb and can he get the hair right?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Now that I've recovered from actually attending the convention...

I thought I'd point out something I witnessed (I'll quote the Newsarama writeup, though) since I've had a few commenters on this blog worried about this:
- Will Kyle Rayner die?

Didio asked the panel: Should Kyle die?

Van Sciver: "Absolutely not"
Starlin: "I missed the question because I was talking" (to a woman in a Power Girl costume), but then he added, "yes."
Calafiore - Yes
Wayne - No
Jones- No
Levitz - No

Didio said "Stop right there."

Aureliani, who would have been next after Levitz, said - "What, you don't ask the cartoonists?" To which Didio said, "He's the boss."
There. The freaking Publisher telling the Editor-in-Chief he didn't want Kyle Rayner dead. If that Green Lantern was ever on the fabled kill-list, he's not anymore.

(Not to mention the Green Lantern artist sounded absolutely horrified at the thought of killing that character.)

Beyond that Didio said that Green Lantern #26 would lead directly in Kyle joining Countdown at the Friday panel.

Now will you guys please stop angsting about Kyle's fate and let me enjoy the current storyline?

Quote

Angband:
Yes, women are raped in real life. And the reason I read comic books is to escape from real life.

Once again...

Fuck you, Frank.

*Sigh*