Sunday, January 31, 2010

I shouldn't comment on this one.

I think what's making me irrationally pissed off about the "Silver Age had no meaningful women" argument going around is that I used to think that way.

I used to think that the female characters in the Silver Age were complete bubbleheads, bad sitcom women who stood on tables and cried "Eek a mouse" and spent all their time swooning over the male leads. There were a variety of "look at the sexism" scans in books and on the Internet to support that, after all. And we all knew the 60s were sexist.

Then, at my sister's urging, I read some Silver Age comics. The Essential X-men, in particular. And holy fuck, yes there was Jean mooning over Scott and the guy's making utter asses of themselves to get her attention. But there was also Jean throwing the biggest guy on the team across the room with just the power of her MIND, and Scott being the one who fainted, and the telepath/empath on the team was the old bald guy while the girl was the heavy artillery.

And there was Wanda Maximoff.

Holy shit, there was Wanda Maximoff the one-girl wrecking crew who just pointed at stuff and destroyed it. She was saddled with an overprotective brother... who ended up injured and on the ground much more often than she did. (Which made the couple stories where she accidentally takes him or herself out with her power much more humorous than insulting to me.) She was the pretty girl Magneto pointed out to lure guys like Namor to his side, but she wasn't there because she was pretty or had some controlling men power. She was there because she pointed at things and broke them. Behind that beauty wasn't the sort of fake power that girls get so much, there was real destructive power. She made bad things happen. She was the Scarlet Witch, and god help you if you knocked her brother down in the fight.

And then, in search of more Wanda, I found myself seeking out the Avengers. And the Essential Avengers features the fucking Wasp saving the asses of Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America on a regular basis, dammit. Yeah, she was a clotheshorse and kind of frivolous, but she had the power to shrink to a fucking spec and they used it and her cleverness to make her a force on a team with a GOD on it.

And I know, some of you are going to argue "Well, our point was girls who weren't derivative and could carry a story..." Well, stuff it. First, EVERY superhero is derivative of Superman, that's just comics. Second, these women could carry titles if it weren't for the constant glossing over of everything appealing about their early appearances by people who haven't bothered to look.

Seriously, if you find yourself arguing that Silver Age Nostalgia is exclusionary to women? Do yourself a favor and go read some fucking Silver Age comics. And if you have and you think that, you seriously missed something there. Because buried underneath all that 60s sexist shit is some solid gold.