Saturday, January 12, 2008

Responding to Cheryl Lynn

"Arrgh! I would have never seen this wack crap if not for you guys!"

Speaking only for my part, I would have let it go a little while and linked it in a normal WFA post but I needed a column and four people emailed me links. (Now I two days' worth of material spanning three blogs out of this. Go me!)

Anyway, answering your question:
Two, is this really a big deal? I've guess I've seen enough ridiculous beefcake pictorials of men dressed as pseudo-superheroes that seeing the gender flipped this time around doesn't bother me. Think this doesn't happen to Superman and Batman? You just haven't been visiting the right sites.
No, that's not it.

See, the big deal isn't that she's "dressed" as WW. The thing's in the article. I know, no one reads Playboy articles but Pink Raygun scanned it so we all saw it.

The writer is calling a reality-TV-Queen the "modern-day Lynda Carter" without listing a single heroic role or action. This is just more of the mixing of feminine symbols up. I mean, you said it yourself:
The material should be kept separate though. Wonder Woman can't be all things to all people in the same book, comic or magazine. And DC shouldn't be seen as sanctioning all things either. That's where the trouble starts. Keep your fetish material out of my adventure comic. It's not like chocolate and peanut butter. They don't taste good together.
By listing a bunch of reality TV shows and calling her the "modern-day Lynda Carter" because they painted her into a WW costume, they presented the adventure story as fetish material.

A heroic and strong symbol is considered the same thing as a sex symbol, not because strength and heroism is sexy but because her appearance is sexy. It's related to what's going on in comics, I think, where the heroines are considered to be sexy first and heroic second -- because the guys writing the comics are like the person who wrote the Playboy article. They can't see beyond the sexy. They don't realize that there's a heroic aspect to the appeal of the character.

Zhinxy may have the best analogy:
Wonder Woman porn is fine in my book. Maybe even more than fine, from time to time. But that write-up feels a bit like… taking pictures in the “naughty nun” vein and then claiming you’re celebrating virtue?
I figure sex culture is okay as long as it doesn't try to be higher than itself. If it was just a Wonder Woman spread with some talk about her being hot, that'd be one thing. And if it was a superheroine spread where she was fighting bad guys in various costumes and/or she was an actress who typically played asskickers, and the whole thing was about how sexy that was, that would also just be one thing. I could go about my existence not acknowledging what was on the cover of or inside any issue of Playboy.

But it's not. It's the muddling you mentioned. They aren't putting out porn and saying "Here is porn. It has a girl dressed as Wonder Woman in it." They're saying "Here is Wonder Woman. She is porn."

Instead of presenting our hero as fetish material as the comics sometimes often do, they went and presented their fetish material as our hero.

It's a fine difference, but it's there and I think reasoning and writing about it now will help pin down the problems when adventure comics and fetish material collide elsewhere.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Night Fights

(Is it just me or does Wonder Woman spend a lot of time fighting doppelgangers?)

Submitted for the weekly tournament.

What a way to start the day.

Damn, I just got three links about that Playboy cover with the painted Wonder Woman model. (NSFW, but that's the first link I got sent.)

It's not even the cover that bugs me (people will always fetishize everything) as much as the phrase "champion of truth, justice, and American sensuality" and the calling a reality-TV Queen the modern day equivalent of 70s role-model for little girls Lynda Carter.

At first I thought I didn't have the energy (especially given how crazy sexist and racist the election news has been over the past week) to rant properly at the moment, and was just going to link but.. then I got going. (And I'd had another post I ended up scrapping because this derailed my train fo thought.) I'm proud of myself. I didn't swear.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Two doses of Kyle this week.

Green Lantern Corps #20 was a weird experience when you take last issue into account. Last issue was like turning onto the freeway and finding the speed and direction of the rest of the traffic, and this issue was like making a U-turn in the middle of that freeway. I mean, he completely indicated last issue what Kyle and Guy were going to do with themselves, and then changed his mind in the first few pages here and went for a totally different setup. A bit disconcerting (though I prefer this setup for Kyle).

Countdown #16 was pretty cool. I really like this series when they focus almost completely on the Kyle/Donna/Jason storyline, and actually move it forward. It's fun and the ending makes me anxious for next week. This storyline was mildly amusing at parts when they did the specials (and I still found it the most interesting one), but it really got going once they got to Earth-51. I've already been amazed by how much I like Donna here. I've just realized that I've been liking Jason too, which is a weird feeling. He annoyed the shit out of me up until this week with the exception of the Gotham By Gaslight special. I'm glad I followed it this far.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It still puzzles me.

I've been reading the cross-community blogathon about the whole Spider-man thing, and I swore I wouldn't post on it but I broke that rule two days ago and I may as well get this one off my chest.

Admittedly, as a DC fan I'm probably more accepting of soft reboots, so I can get over the reset button and the regression. The problem is that I will never, ever understand what Marvel was thinking with Mephisto.

I mean, okay, so you don't like the marriage, you want to go back to fanland and you're too chickenshit to do a divorce (that's a rant for another day). That's one thing (). There are ways to do it without killing your character's moral standing.

There's The Scarlet Witch!, for one.

I mean, this character was ruined for a reason, right? Her powers were vague and unwieldy as a protagonist, so they made her crazy. That way she's available for use as a crossover villain and/or cheesy plot-device to make whatever the hell they want happen?

Ever since Peter took off the mask in Civil WAr I've been expecting her to pop up and fix everything. (It's not like anyone remembers what happened to her after House of M, anyway.)

Why the hell didn't they just do that? Have Peter or MJ personally piss her off.


Stupid Marvel.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

19th FSF Carnival!

Karen Healey has the 19th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans up at Girls Read Comics (And They're Pissed).

She did a great job and there's a ton of reading there. Check it out at your leisure.

Looking for a host for the 20th issue. Please contact me if interested.

Monday, January 07, 2008

This bothers me.

And it's not just that Mark Waid's leaving the Flash:
And at this moment in time, I just ... in terms of superhero work, I feel frozen. I kind of... I feel like I'm momentarily out of step with what fandom wants because I don't get it. The same voices that are screaming that we gave Flash a wife and kids and family, because they say that's not what Flash is, are the same people who are screaming that they've broken up Mary Jane and Peter Parker. "How dare you take his family away!" I'm like, wait! Wait! What? Which way is it? So... growth and change good... or growth and change bad?
Hmmm. I've noticed that too. Of course, I'm a fan who thinks married with children works for Wally myself but yeah, I've seen this.

He's not taking into account (and this worries me that other writers might not take this into account either) that different characters have different stories that fit them, different books have different themes to them, and different companies have sincerely different feels. Add to that, different fans have different expectations for the characters. So these contradicting fan tastes aren't really so contradicting.

I've noticed people (and myself) annoyed that Quesada's anti-marriage for Spiderman but he was perfectly fine with Black Panther and Storm together. Well, we're being a bit unfair to him there. Spiderman and Black Panther (and Storm, but I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest he didn't give Storm two thoughts here. She's been really underused in the comics during Quesada's reign) are totally different characters. The same stories are not going to be told about these two characters. Fans expect different characters in the two books. Writers write different characters in the two books. The story goes in different directions.

You might disagree with those directions (and in the case of Quesada's choices there I do, early and often), but I don't see the inconsistency in expecting different things from different characters. I would hope that writers and editors would like to tell different stories with different characters, and would understand that marriage might not fit a certain character very well but that same character would suitably have to deal with their own biological children anyway, or guardianship of a niece or nephew. They'd understand that other characters would settle down and do the nuclear family thing (I think it suits the Flash very well), and other characters would settle into marriage and be married for a long time before starting a family. And, of course, there are still others who wouldn't think of children, or marriage at all.

I mean, the last thing we want is writers writing every character the same, what would be the point of reading more than one book?

Really, though, with the fan complaints it's all a matter of how fans take change. The Spidermarriage was status quo for twenty years, and that Wally's only had children (I don't think as many people are complaining that he's married as they are complaining about the twins) for a few storylines now. Spiderman changed by going backwards (which in my opinion, if you want it and you probably do because you're reading this blog, was kind of a shitty direction), Flash changed by going forwards (and in my opinion, that's a pretty good idea). Fans who have been reading the status quo for a while saw change and reacted. And in some cases they reacted badly. This makes perfect sense insomuch as the behavior of people makes perfect sense.

For me -- it just really bugs me that Mark Waid, the guy who wrote the definitive Wally West, talked about the Park-Wests and the Watson-Parkers as though they were the same couple. That just seems wrong.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


After four days, three nights, six full trashbags, three donation bags marked for Goodwill and twenty-two episodes of the 1991 live-action Flash series, I can finally see the floor in all of my closets! My storage areas are officially clean!

The rest of the place is not.

Baby steps, though.

Admittedly, the Flash was more of a distraction than a help. I popped the DVDs in because I'd seen most all of the episodes a long time ago, but I forgot that that was a long time ago. I had to stop and watch.

I really liked that this series had a different continuity than the comics. Part of the fun of was getting to see how much of which villains made it to television, and how much of which plots. The Flash series had some overt references to the Rogue's gallery (Trickster showed up in name and costume, but in personality he was Mark Hamill's audition for the Joker), some medium references (Mirror Master showed up with his civilian name, personality and tech intact, but no costume or villain name), and some subtle ones (the episode where three bad guys of varying degrees of evilness and competence team up to put the city to sleep -- The guy who makes all of the equipment has a green vest and bow tie). Everything's mixed and matched.

I do think they should've kept the comic book connection, though. Barry in the series came up with the lightning symbol on his own and the papers named him the Flash. Nothing really indicated he'd ever read a comic, and there's a few places in the series it might have helped him. In one episode, he gets an old classmate a job as Night Watchman at STAR Labs. See, anyone who's ever read a comic book knows that is the most dangerous job you can possibly get in a superhero city, but Barry thought he was doing the guy a favor (until the bad guy showed up at the lab and locked them in a death trap). Come to think of it, that should be logical by that point in the series. STAR Labs in Central City has no security. It was broken into every other episode. You'd have to be an idiot to think that's a safe place to be overnight. Night watchmen is a job you get your worst enemy.

Interestingly enough, we never saw the character again. (And there were a couple other injured STAR Labs Night Watchmen before the end of the series.)

Artist Iris was annoying too. She doesn't need to be a photojournalist, but man the girl in the pilot was a dull, shallow love interest. Very unlike the woman in the comics. (I prefer to think of her as some other girl named Iris, and that somewhere in that TV continuity there was another Iris West they would've brought in with Wally for the second or third series.) They were right to get rid of her for the rest of the show.

I also kind of wish the Nightshade had made it to the comics during the Golden Age Revisionist movement in the 90s. Yeah, he's only a TV cross between Jay Garrick and Wesley Dodds, but I think he could've been adapted as a Golden Age Central City counterpart to Jay in the comics.

Of course, I'm probably just disappointed he only got two episodes. It's a shame this series never caught on.

Amazons Attack 30 Second Recap

Yes, I'm pushing the deadline, but I worked on it so I'm posting it anyway.

In honor of the ISB's Third Awesomeversary, Ragnell's Written World presents...

Amazons Attack! (in 30 Seconds)