Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bask in the Williams Art!

The Seven Soldiers preview is up. Shining Knight looks just as awesome as I remember.

I hope this means its actually coming out this month.

Friday, October 13, 2006

For Science!

(Probably some Mild 52 Spoilers if you are afraid of those, as it's not the weekend quite yet.)

Yesterday morning I dropped three handwritten letters in the mail to DC Comics. One asked about those beach bunnies on Oolong Island in 52: Week 23. I wish I'd waited another day to write it though, because I didn't remember the new editor's name. It's Michael Siglain, and they have his first Q&A up at Newsarama. (It also has preview art. Looks like Ambush Bug's still off the Fourth Wall.)

I'm glad I sent the letter though, it didn't occur to Matt Brady to ask who the lady in the bikini coming on to Magnus was. I'm hoping Morrison found a female mad scientist I've never seen before, and she's not one of numerous ways that a mad scientist can get a beautiful woman who's interested in him (androids, cloning, mind control, alternate universes -- I think I came up with a couple more for the letter). I know Dr. Zeul (Giganta) and Mother Juno (The O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern run), but neither of them were there and I can't think of any others. Can anyone else?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

This was when I realized Morrison was writing this week.

I miss his JLA.

Go read.

While I was probably damaging Geoff Johns approval ranting a bit more than I intended with my last post, Kalinara was making up for it by dispelling an annoying myth about Johns' Green Lantern.

And I'd like to take this occasion to point out again, that I can't understand why any Green Lantern fan would scoff at a bug-shaped, mind-controlling, yellow, parasitic, fear-inducing, monster (from OUTER SPAAAAACE!!). It's every possible weakness, rolled together and put into in a crunchy grasshopper shell.

I say this nice thing today because I sent him a message about the quote we were discussing earlier, and I may very well be too angry to say anything nice tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

So You're Erasing the Expiration Date to Prolong the Shelf-Life?

Update, Oct 11, 2006: I got a look at the context here. More on that later, but yes, this post is directed towards toward the reaction, not the quote itself (though the post explores the quote's implications). Because the reaction is alarming.

I'm a bit mad about this:
Well, what other character? Not Wonder Girl. Enough women had died in the DCU.

I'm not going to put up the money for the hardcover, because I have all of the issues and I don't really need this roundtable, but I am going to ask a friend to see this tomorrow. However, knowing fully that this is a quote taken out of context, I'm still going to rant about it tonight.

Because the direct quote, without context, annoys me a little.

Then, I see the people on that thread applauding this quote, and I get just a bit more annoyed.

Then, I see the people on the thread (and in the WFA comments) criticizing the statement, and I get pissed beyond belief.

They are complaining about the wrong fucking thing.

The quote itself, I don't see as hypocritical because it could signify a change of mindset, like Waid and Augustyn's professed regret at killing Ice, (that it was shortsighted and for the wrong reason). I strongly suspect that, whatever the actual context, this comment may be a result of some of the criticism we've leveled at the writers in the past year.

Sadly, it's the wrong result. It's a short cut.

To me, that quote says "I will treat female characters differently. I'm not going to use them in the 'real plot' where they run the risk of death."

See, death is a part of reality in the DCU and the Marvel U. Characters die, they get replaced, and they return to life. Sometimes it may take a few decades, but that's the reality they live in. To simply say, without qualification, that those rules no longer apply to female characters is ridiculous. Giving an expendable character a pass from death when you feel the story demands it only for the reason of gender is sexism, whichever way the pendulum falls. It breeds that attitude of "women = weak" that sends my blood pressure through the roof and keeps women out of believable lead roles.

I'm well aware of the quantity problem. There's less women than men in superhero comics. That's stupid, and should be fixed. A blanket statement promising no further death doesn't help anything.

We all know that there will always be characters dying in comics. It's to move the story along. There's an infinite number of ways to bring them back, death is not, has not been, and never will be permanent at DC.

I know some of you have heard me lament about the great characters who lost their lives too early and unfairly and plead for resurrection or at least a retcon away of the death, but this comment horrified me. I have at least two women on my "wish they'd die and stay dead" list, and I know I'm not the only one.

I'd sooner see some energy thrown behind resurrecting some of those dead women, like the men tend to always get resurrected, than see them have to be "protected" to a greater extent than the men.

It goes back to my complaints about rape, I suppose. It's an unequal threat, ever-present over the female characters and never-present over the men unless its in a "Mature Readers" book. If all our complaints do is stop them from killing female characters, we basically put a similar unequal threat out there. Death will hang like a shadow over male characters and never truly threaten the female characters.

I want to see both genders face the same trials, not inequality. I'm fucking tired of fucking inequality.

I'd be happy to shut the fuck up about rape in comic books if two conditions were fulfilled:

1) It must suddenly and immediately become as overtly present a threat in the lives of male superheroes as it is for female superheroes. If both Green Lantern and Black Canary are captured by a group of supervillains, and the writer chooses to have the villains leer and make sexualized threats -- they would be levied at both characters, not just Dinah.

2) A sexual assault scene for a female victim is drawn in exactly the same mood and manner as a sexual assault scene for the male victim. Meaning panel angles, point of view, emotions, and reasoning behind writing this.

(Please note: If you find these two options absurd because this treatment "emasculates" i.e. weakens a male character, do consider what it tells us about your attitudes towards women as a gender when it is perfectly acceptable for female superheroes.)

Which brings me to the second problem with the above statement.

It doesn't solve anything.

It's a way to bypass thinking about the actual issues, and throw a quick-fix on the problem. This is trying to manufacture a magic band-aid.

"I won't kill a female character" does not in any way mean "I will treat female characters with the same respect as male characters." It doesn't exclude female characters being 'damsels in distress,' being motivations/rewards for the hero, being shot and paralyzed, being impregnated mystically, being raped, being dragged through the mud, being used solely as eye candy, being retired from action indefinitely or generally being put through any of the shit we've been complaining about for the last seven years. If every writer and editor were to adopt such an attitude as is being cheered on (and alternately condemned as hypcritical, implying that the complaintants feel that this is the correct idea) would be a decision to take women one step away from the plot.

Chucking the Refrigerator and going to non-perishables does not stop female characters from being used as consumables.

It doesn't even come close.

Nice try, writers, but you're going to actually have to learn to use your brains when you write.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Action Comics #843 Realizations

This comic taught me something very important about the Phantom Lady.

She is made entirely of plastic.

Shiny, shiny plastic.

I wouldn't have been looking at it if not for Kalinara's post (my problem with Phantom Lady is not her cup size or the lighting, but the hideous and improbable pose she struck in the Brave New World Preview Art -- Yes, there is something for everyone to hate in that picture!), but there it is, the explanation for all of our woes. Plastic. As a plot point.

The Wizard: Basic Training scans don't completely shoot down this theory. I saw them in the magazine when I was a teenager and tried to learn to draw from them. They've been drawing off that advice for years and while they've produced some truly, truly awful parodies of the female form, there's rarely been something quite this bad.

And it's hard to believe that this is owed entirely to lack of talent of the designer, because the above image was drawn by an artist with a different style and a different inker, in a different book.

As much as we may hate to admit it, Phantom Lady could very, very easily be on purpose.

The option is intriguing. Not nearly intriguing enough for me to pick up Freedom Fighters and brave Acuna's faux-to-realistic art, but intriguing nonetheless. The whole senator's daughter thing could just be a good cover, and she's actually a plastic android built by Ivo, Morrow, or Magnus, and therefore sentient. That would be pretty cool.

Shame it doesn't make for pretty art.

Speaking of pretty, though, on the very same page of the very issue, we see Green Lantern:

I am not imagining this.

That character is posed so that we see both his butt and his face.

I'm prepared to throw out all previous theories. This can't be some attempt at equal objectification. There's no way its actually a running in-joke at DC over the last 45 years. And there is absolutely no chance that this is an accident.

Hal Jordan is purposefully trying to moon us.

He is consciously aware that he is being read, and he's been mooning us. There's no other explanation. And whoever told him, told the other Lanterns. They know too, that is how they always position themselves in such a way as to display their rumps. Collectively, the Green Lantern Corps has been breaking the Fourth Wall just to show us their hindquarters.

I'm sorry to end this post on such an abrupt and awe-inspiring revelation, but I think I need to sit down after this one.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Holy Cats!

It wasn't a joke.

They really had him in fishnets.

Thanks, Rob!

Monday Misogyny

Okay, everyone relax, this time, it's not our community (though I wouldn't be too surprised to find it here):
Why does every game that comes out nowadays revolve around a female main character? Yes I understand that you need female characters for eye candy.
It just gets better from there. (There's racism too!)

This is just one of the wildly entertaining links you'll find at Jade Reporting, a new blog that does for the gaming community what When Fangirls Attack does for the comics community.


The "decapitation as castration" idea has come up, and damned if it doesn't bug the living shit out of me.

The idea basically seems to go that your identity, personality, and power is all contained in your head. Therefore, losing your head makes for a particularly degrading death because your body's been separated from all of that. It's equated to castration because that's an obvious loss of potency.

To look at a decapitation scene and call it symbolic castration is awfully backwards to me.

You see, the underlying attitude is that castration is a loss of identity, life, or power. Its root lies in the hypermasculine society that devalues all femininity. It hinges on the belief that the very worst thing possible is not to have a penis. It's an idea from a society that places all value and power into the male sexual organ. The same sort of logic that considered sperm the "Seed" -- the carrier of all that was needed to make a person, while the womb was simply soil to grow a person in. In this mindset, he penis holds your personal power and identity, so losing it is like losing that heavy thing on your shoulders that happens to hold your mouth, eyes, face and brain. Castration is a symbolic decapitation.

Castration's equivalent for a woman is actually becoming barren -- which is what happened to Black Canary in The Longbow Hunters. Another symbolic decapitation.

Decapitation itself is not a sexualized or gendered death.

While the preferrred execution method of criminals in some cultures, decapitation is a warrior's death when it happens on the battlefield. The shame associated with such a death is the shame associated with losing a battle. And yes, a sexism and castration parallel can easily enter into it. In such an instance, the victor holds the severed head of his enemy in his hands and declares that his opponent was weak and soft, like a woman, because (according to a hypermasculine culture that equates strength with masculine prowess) loss in battle can be attributed to either being a manly warrior up against someone who far outpowers them, or a pathetic, effeminate creature not suited to the manly arts.

When a female character's death occurs by decapitation, in the heat of battle, the nature of the death is non-gendered because decapitation is a non-gendered warrior's death.

It's one thing, of course, to find sexism by focusing on the reasoning why, or the reaction of the other characters to this death. However, to focus on the method of death itself, and how humiliating and degrading it is and connect that with castration when it is a death that occurs no where close to the sexual organs, and occurs on a battlefield rather than a traditional women's setting, comes dangerously close to the attitude that one's identity, personality and power lies in one's sexual organs. It also, when all the shame connected with a death in this matter comes specifically from losing the battle and not one's gender role, comes infuriatingly close to equating "loser" with "woman."

That particular line isn't crossed by simply engaging in the intellectual exercise, and going through a Freudian reading of the text. The line's crossed when it seems like its coming not from analyzing someone else with Freud's theory, but when the analysis is shown by someone wit the attitude that "women" = "weak." It's the difference between an objective eye seeing that something "could be taken this way", and a fanatical devotion to "must be taken this way" to the point that all evidence to the contrary is rationalized away.

That would be is where the blinding rage wells up.

When the attitude of an analyst overcomes an analysis of an attitude, it becomes a bit difficult to debate the fine points of Freudian theory.

(Oh, and thanks, Revena, for the input on this post)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Mystery in Space #2


Twice Captain Comet says something to the effect of "I've dropped the Captain, just call me Comet now."

What the Hell?!!

You can't take the Captain out of Captain Comet!

It's just Not Done.

Starlin, what are you thinking? What is he, a super-horse now? He loses so much of his early 50s Sci-Fi charm if you drop the Captain. That charm is what makes the character! You may as well turn Captain Marvel into a serious... mystical... *Ahem* Nevermind Captain Marvel.

My point is that "Comet" is way too modern a name for a character that belongs in another decade, and is supposed to be writtern as though he belongs in another decade.

And the de-aging? He's cute, but I preferred the other version. More of that early 50s placement. he should be a bit old-fashioned and crotchety. Played well off of Kyle in Rann-Thanager War. (The mere idea of the early 50s perfect person and the mid 90s everyman working together made the book worth reading to me. Could have been handled a bit better, of course, but I liked it.)

This whole thing seems like you'tre just trying to make Captain Comet seem young and sleek and sexy, and he's not really supposed to be that way. He's supposed to be like your genius Uncle who could do anything that your Mother told stories about.

"You'll never guess what Uncle Adam did now -- He industrialized a small tribal society in six months just to get a ride off the planet! He's such a character!"

Modernization isn't for everyone you know. Some heroes are period heroes. A flashy new name, a streamlined costume and a twenty-something body takes away the nostalgia factor that a period hero needs. Period heroes set in the modern era are quirky characters, and that's a lot of fun to read. Any attempt to update them risks losing the quirkiness. This issue had a lot of attempts to update Captain Comet. I swear, even the dialogue seemed less corny this issue. That's just not right.

On the other hand, the gold eyes are a pretty cool idea. The art made it tough to tell if his irises are supposed to be gold, or if his comments were just about the glowing effect. This book could use a different inker on the first part.

DC vs Marvel: My Half of the Population

(I'm going to address this over here because it is almost completely off-topic from the original post, and I don't want to interrupt his comments conversation with my own concerns *ahem* again.)

While discussing why Marvel gets more criticism about LGBT character treatment than DC does, Dorian points out something else:
Just as a counterpoint, we seem to be having the inherent misogyny conversation about DC far more often than it comes up with Marvel.

Now, I know that the majority of Feminist, Comics, and Feminist Comics blogs I farm for When Fangirls Attack are DC. That's because I'm primarily a DC reader. I know there's a huge and vocal contingent of DC fans discussing how female characters are treated.

But I am wondering why now. Is it an effect of the blog community demographic? More DC blogs than Marvel blogs, so more discussion about misogyny at DC than at Marvel. Is it because less Feminists read Marvel? I'm not sure that's true, because I know more than one fan who reads primarily about Marvel but blogs about women at DC more often. Does Marvel treat its female characters better? Not that I've seen.

Or is just that the conversation feeds itself, and the issues being brought up are associated with DC, so people address DC more often in response?

So, I'm curious. I know why I blog DC more often, because I read only two or three Marvel books and one of them is inching towards the drop pile (the other two I put on the pile, and often put off reading them for weeks at a time). In the meantime, I'm just picking up more and more DC. But I do blog Marvel when the occasion to rant or rave presents itself. I'd like to know, though, from everyone else who blogs about women at DC instead of women at Marvel -- Why?