Friday, March 30, 2007

Wonder Woman #6

Yes, every bad review you've read is true. She treats the character like a complete fish out of water even though Diana's been underground pretending to be a regular person for an entire year, and before that had been around for years and gotten her lumps in during Perez and Messner-Loebs runs.

Beyond that, she's being vain and petty and existential and it makes me roll my eyes. Why does Wonder Woman give a flying fuck about being "cool"?

And why is Nemesis suddenly acting like Xander Harris?

It might be the first comparison, the milkshake replacement with a Black Canary milkshake, bothered me and set the tone wrong. Even though Diana didn't display overt jealousy, using the Black Canary replacement (and then driving it home with a mention by Nemesis) implied competition. Diana's from Themiscyra, where women can excel without tearing each other down. It also smacked of the Black Canary replacing Wonder Woman in the post-Crisis JLA recon, which irked me.

Still, even taking that into account, the plot was a stock plot (And the art seemed rushed. Drew Johnson is better than this) and the characters were too far off-base to make up for that. Diana's still supposed to be savvier, Tom's supposed to be more competent. This is a fresh off the boat story for an entrenched character.

I've read a lot of stuff that I've been iffy about on the first reading. I've read stuff that was entertaining but not particularly good on the second reading. I've read stuff that was mediocre but still had charm. I've read stuff that was decently plotted and timed but relied on cliched characterization and stereotypes, and therefore ruined my experience.

This issue was just plain bad, and I don't say that about a lot of things.

Cover Cliches

I did it again. I bought an issue based solely on the cover. It wasn't a series I was reading, or had heard about. It was actually the 3rd issue of a 6-issue miniseries. Silent War #3.

Like the last issue I bought just for the cover (the issue of New Avengers with the Scarlet Witch on the cover), it made me sad. I don't know why I'm such a big fan of Magneto's kids, but I always have been. I'm a sucker for any appearance they make. I scanned reprints of early Uncanny X-Men for them. I pick up random issues of Avengers when one of them is prominent on the cover (this is how I have the trade paperback of The Morgan Conquest). The first set of back issues I picked up when I was done with BMT and living on my own for the first time was the first two issues of the Amazing X-Men miniseries that tied into the Age of Apocalypse crossover. It was my favorite, because that was the one where Pietro was leading the X-Men. I have every issue PAD wrote of X-Factor and beyond that. Hell, I even own some of the 1997 Quicksilver series (I have the Heroes For Hire crossover).

So I've had issues with Marvel, or rather I've avoided buying issues from Marvel, since Wanda flipped out. It seems to have soured me on 98% of the Marvel universe and I dropped every Marvel book I read after Disassembled. It was such a wasteful stupid thing to do to a character.

Then I nosed around and picked up the first half of House of M, because I thought they might fix it. I dropped it when they revealed Pietro was the antagonist.

Then I picked up Son of M, just in case they fixed at least one twin. No such luck. Unlike the crossovers where Wanda was featured as insane, Son of M was a wonderful series. It was wonderful comic miniseries in the same way that The Last Sherlock Holmes Story is a wonderful book. Its skillful and engaging, and everything fits as they go through it. this somehow makes it more sickening than when the hero is completely mischaracterized, because the writer draws you into the story and its like a perfect horror picture. You empathize with the main character. That character is your hero. And you watch, helplessly, as they act completely within their nature and destroy their own sanity.

(If only Wanda's story could have been so good.)

Still, it was very depressing and I rationalized buying this because maybe, just maybe, it could get fixed.

It isn't.

But at least I still have this cover.

Isn't that beautiful? Crystal looks strong and protective and powerful here. Looking at the cover makes me forget a little bit about losing Wanda, mainly because I've never seen Wanda get to display such a presence. Not many female characters do. That's probably why I got out of my way for covers like this and like the Spirit #4. Its an image you can just look at and feel strong.

Last week, I saw a picture that looked much the same. It was on a T-Shirt in a souvenir shop and showed a classic poster of Luke and Leia for Star Wars. It was a little different from the ones I'd seen before, because rather than posing at his feet and holding a gun, Leia was wrapped around Luke's leg. It was the first time I'd seen that poster, but it didn't really make an impact on me. I thought at the time that it was the familiarity of the pose. Then I saw this cover.

I wonder if the artists understand what they convey when they do a role reversal like this. As a woman, I'm expected to empathize with the male characters as well as female characters (the whole "if boys will read it, girls will too; so make it for boys" mentality that the Entertainment industry displays) but that doesn't change the fact that when I see a man and a woman on a cover, I tend to identify with the female character.

So a picture of the traditional version, where the man is standing and radiating power while the woman is on her knees clinging to his leg can be offputting because at first glance my mind wants to identify with the female position. But the male character is the stronger in such a picture. He's the one we're meant to empathize with while the girl is the throwaway. So there's a little bit of distancing that has to happen. I have to ignore the gender difference to identify with the stronger character. Something is lost, and I see the art through a filter. I've seen tons of poses like this, with the woman wrapped around the man's leg, and they've never struck me as a good pose.

But looking at this cover the power hit me right away. There was no distance, there was no filter between me as a viewer and the stronger character. I got the full effect of the picture.

Its hard to describe, but when I saw it my heart felt a little lighter in my chest, my cheeks felt warmer and the corners of my mouth turned up in a smile. I think I may have stood a little taller in the store.

Now (because I know some poor soul who's cursed with apathy is misreading this feeling as a comment on the general state of my life) that's not to say that poses like this are as great as finding the cure for cancer, or my first taste of butter pecan ice cream, or that that's the most wonderful feeling I've ever had in my life. It was good enough to shell out the three bucks for a book that featured characters I liked. I've just lovingly detailed the experience so I can ask you all one thing:

Is that what it feels like for men when they see the typical pose?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

And now, a meme.

Okay, if I still have any readers left, I did a real entry for Jake's meme.

Yeah, its an old Kevin Smith reference. Best I could do.

Warning: This post contains snobbery, social ranking and unrepentant judgment.

I was going to post a pretty cover, but I ended up getting into a fight in the comments of Kalinara's blog instead. I was a real asshat too (especially at the end there), but that's not what I'm going to discuss here.

Instead, I'm going to be even more of an asshat. I want to pick on this little paragraph of this little comment:
Oh, and I deleted the other post because I had a much better argument to make. You might want to follow example once your a Cass fan.
Let's repeat that last part.
You might want to follow example once your a Cass fan.
Again, so it sinks in.
You might want to follow example once your a Cass fan.
Now, dreadful grammar/spelling (on both our parts) aside, this made me cackle with derision. The statement implies that being a fan of Cassandra-Batgirl carries a higher standard than not being a fan of Cassandra-Batgirl. This of course goes against everything I've learned in all my years of superhero fandom.

Cass-fans are a minor subclass of Batfans. Now what I'm about to explain in no way says that Batfans are the losers of superhero fandom or anything like that. I know Batfans with wonderful taste. But being a Batfan is so common that it is practically a pre-requisite to being a superhero fan at all. Within the Batfan class are subclasses of Robinfans, Babsfans, Cassfans, CommisionerGordonfans, SilverAgeBatfans, GoldenAgeBatfans, MillerBatfans, Catfans, Jokerfans, Villainfans, Alfredfans but all are part of the general Gotham experience. All are members of the Batfamily and all fall under the umbrella of Batfans.

I always pictured superhero fandom as a pyramid. At the base are your wide-appeal franchises like Batman and X-Men. Nearly everyone enters the fandom through one of those classes. (There's a Marvel side and a DC side) Some people remain at the base and divide into little subclasses and have little sub-class wars, while others move on to other wide-appeal (but not quite so large) franchises such as Superman and Spiderman, up to the lesser known but still popular franchises like Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League, Avengers, Captain America, Hulk. Lesser known solo characters like Daredevil, Thor, Firestorm are a step above that. As they move up, they still remain Batfans and keep their cherished memories of brooding lonely RotDK Bruce or a car battery being thrown at a villain, but they expand to be fans of other settings as well.

Above the current character followers you have writer-followers, and art followers, and historians. Those fans of comics that were published before they first started reading comics, Bronze and Silver Age fans who had Modern Age childhoods are a bit higher than those fans who insist that everything be as they first started reading, but both are lower on the hierarchy than the people who go out of their way to track down the Golden Age stories that started it all. A cut above the current writer/artist followers are the ones who follow classic creators like Gil Kane, and Carmen Infantino and Gardner Fox, and at the very top of the pyramid you find your Kirby fans.

Because a fan of Jack Kirby obviously has impeccable taste.

While there's no reason to roll your eyes because someone is a fan of Batman or one of his many spinoffs, there's no reason to be impressed. Everyone has been to Gotham in one way or another. I'm probably going to laugh when someone tells me about the exacting social standards of CassandraCain-fandom. I'm probably also very likely to make fun of them. But when someone who owns Hunger Dogs and has read all of the necessary Adventures of Jimmy Olsen issues talks about what's necessary to be a Kirby fan, that's another situation entirely.

(What? Its not like I'm the only one to ever put cliche dialogue to a Kirby panel. Besides, I needed something for Jake's meme.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

While I Was Out

Yeesh, the stuff you miss while you're on vacation. Among characters I liked I saw resurrection, a death, and a promotion. Plus there was a teamup where Supergirl was actually fun to read and a cover with a setup I love.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, I really like images where there's a woman carrying a man. Its sweet. If I can find enough I might put a gallery together online.

Anyway, finally caught up on my blog reading. The IRIS Network (for female gamers) launched, which is of interest to me as an old tabletop gamer. Also, missed round two of Friday Night Fights.

Out of all of this week's blog posts (and I can be reasonably certain that I monitor a good section of the comics blogosphere through my Bloglines) I think Dear Comics gets the prize. And I don't think I saw anyone point to it which surprised me because its a beautiful piece of writing.

Monday, March 26, 2007

An Open Letter to Ron Marz that Spoils the Events of Ion #12

Dear Mr. Marz,

This is getting out of hand.

Seriously, that's the fourth time you've killed that particular character. I was pretty annoyed with you the second time you killed that character to give Kyle a shot of angst, now I'm rolling my eyes. Don't get me wrong, I love Kyle. I enjoy reading him but really this is getting old and he's an entertaining enough character without the curse.

This isn't like his girlfriends where a different writer killed each one. No, this is you killing this character each time. You didn't even do any proper resurrections the first couple of times. You just seem to change your mind about her death each time so you can bring her in and kill her again.

Come on now. Even South Park got tired of the Kenny thing after a while.

Plus, its just downright creepy that every woman who comes in contact with Kyle Rayner dies, except for Donna. As it is, she's the only possible love interest because she's the only one popular enough to survive the relationship and go on to die in her own storyline. Why don't you kill a male character next time? Just for a change of pace.

How about his Dad? His Dad never died. He went from being quasi-villainous to super-spy, but he never died. Why don't you kill him? You can knock off both the thin version from the Green Arrow/Green Lantern crossover and the fat guy from Winick's run. Then you can change your mind and kill one of them again. Mix it up and alternate for a while.

It'll be different at least.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Regarding Birds of Prey #104

Oh... my... god...

So help me Simone, if this is a trick I will...



Yeesh, there's really no way to take down an evil writer, is there?

(On the other hand, if this isn't a trick its one hell of a wonderful story to return to. Maybe if I go on vacation again I can get my other fondest comics wish.)

I'm Back

5 different amusement parks (run by two different companies) over 5 days. I think I may be more tired than when I left. I believe my sister and mother are quality-timed out.

I had a wonderful time. I also got a picture with Cyclops, and yes, I did get mouse ears at the other park.

(That's me and my sister -- who comments as Sinspired -- by the way. I fully expect anyone who mocks either picture to comment in the comments, by the way.)

Predictably, Tower of Terror and Space Mountain were among the best rides at Disney, but I was surprised that Men in Black topped out Universal's rides. (I did personally like the Jaws boat ride, though).

I'd advise you to avoid reading and asking about anything before you do Tower of Terror, though. Part of the fun is in not expecting what they do.

We also got to taste the original recipe for Alfredo sauce at Epcot. They have a branch from Alfredo's in Rome in their Italy section, the restaurant founded by the guy who invented Alfredo sauce.

Epcot's little World Showcase section was a bit surreal, though. There was a sign in the bathroom saying the baby care center was in Mexico. Mexico was right next to Norway which bordered China which Germany which bordered Italy and so on. All of the salesmen and waiters were from whatever country they represented, which made me wonder if there's some sort of amusement park employee exchange program. Are there people from the US in Japan or Norway wearing cowboy hats and doing rope tricks to replace all those people in the folk costumes?

Anyway, I think I need to recover from vacation now.

Did I miss anything big this week?