Friday, May 27, 2011

Miss America

Marvel's remembered they have the Miss America name in their properties again, and they've released some preview art of the new title carrier. Naturally, we're all arguing about her clothing:

My own first reaction was "What the hell? Who the fuck designed this outfit?"

Because seriously, another superheroine who walks around with her belly exposed and those look like high heels. I cringed and raged, but now I've calmed down a bit. It's still a bare midriff, but the artist isn't the worst one ever. I hate that every superheroine is perfectly packaged to land as a sex bomb, and male writers expect us to find that empowering.

Of course, the more complex complaints are being overwhelmed by slutshaming and "that doesn't suit America" reactions that go beyond complaining about Marvel's artistic predictability to insulting women who actually dress like this.

This is a style that real women wear. It was popular when I grew up, and Cheryl Lynn and Joe both pointed out how true to life the outfit looks. That doesn't make it practical for crime-fighting, but it does mean that when you make a character judgement about this costume you're making a character judgement about real women so knock off the misogynistic trashtalk.

The other thing is, like Cheryl, I remember that style on women I wanted to be. I know, white girl from hillbilly country but I still took daytrips to NYC and had a TV in the 90s. It's sexy, outspoken, and unapologetic. The hair, the pants, the boots and the top were assumed to go with an attitude that was beautiful.

I think that's what the artist is trying to capture here.

I'm still unsettled, though. The artist interview didn't reassure me. I don't understand this emphasis on being able to "shake it like Shakira, but still kick your ass" over a substantial character hook, it sounds like empty marketing babble. And I'm deeply annoyed that Madelyne was last written as a "dead, out of touch racist" (I didn't read it, but I'm guessing they needed an old Golden Age hero to be a racist and had to use Miss America because all the Golden Age men are still alive) but at least someone's got the mantle and a later writer can do something that ties them both together.

I don't trust a male writer telling me she's a "new vision of American female empowerment" either. Show me.

I can't look at her yet without imagining her solo miniseries with covers by Greg Horn and shuddering.

Still, she is kind of intriguing. Marvel's reviving the Miss America name. A Hispanic woman (and Dragotta drops her name, Chavez, possibly America Chavez if I'm reading that interview right) wearing the flag, in this political climate. "Ego and indestructibility."

That last part would seem to take care of some of the impractical parts of her costume.

She reminds me of Power Girl. Modernized version of an older character, that pose, costume that the worst artists are going to go crazy with, already being judged based on that costume... "Ego and indestructibility."

And the mini also features Angel from New X-men.

Don't let me down, Casey.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Stupidest Idea I've Ever Heard

So, someone spoiled Green Lantern Corps #60 for me. I don't really mind, because what they spoiled turned out to be the Stupidest Idea I've Ever Heard.

It's the sort of idea you'd think I'd get angry about, but I didn't. I was simply too baffled at the Stupidest Idea I've Ever Heard. Of course, I probably wasn't angry because the Stupidest Idea I've Ever Heard isn't racist, sexist or really offensive on any of those levels. It takes a certain amount of logic to come up with an offensive idea. You have to be adhering to certain stereotypes and actually attempting to craft a half-assed story. It takes a special cluelessness about humanity or malice to offend. It takes a small amount of intelligence.

It takes no intelligence to come up with the Stupidest Idea I've Ever Heard. It is in no way offensive to me as a person, or even as a fan. It is just something so pointless and wasteful that I feel sorry for the person who came up with it. The person who came up with it works in the entertainment industry. That person is paid to come up with ideas to entertain us. That person needs ideas in order to pay for food and rent.

That person is so clearly out of ideas, the bread and butter of their chosen business, that I can't help but feel sorry for them.

Indeed, I fear this is worse than simply being out of ideas. The Stupidest Idea I've Ever Heard can not have come from a simple lack of creativity. This can only have come from a complex lack of creativity. A lack of creativity so intense that it has collapsed in on itself and pulls ambient creativity into it. A lack of creativity that has grown into a Void That Swallows Creativity.

And as Creativity is sucked into this Black Hole of Banality, another substance is emanating from the Void That Swallows Creativity. It is the opposite of Creativity. It is the opposite of Light. It is Anti-Creativity, and whenever it touches Creativity it renders all present incapable of detecting Story Potential as it rends the fabric of the universe.

If that's too melodramatic for you, perhaps the following story will illustrate what I think of this latest plot twist and the direction the Green Lantern franchise in general has taken since the middle of Blackest Night:

I was walking along one day when I saw a water truck parked on the side of the road. In the cab sat a man with a canteen. His skin was cracked and dry and his lips were parched. He was moaning quietly about his thirst.

I asked the man if his truck was out of water and he told me no, it was full.

So I asked the man if the water was undrinkable and he told me no, it had been tested and was perfectly potable.

So I told him to drink.

He shrugged, bent over, and lifted the back of his pants. Then he poured the water underneath the fabric. It ran out of his pants-leg and collected in a puddle at his feet.

Then he looked at the canteen and sighed, and sat on his wet behind. He'd been drinking like that all day, but he was still thirsty.

I'm worried about the Green Lantern creative team. They could die of thirst despite having an abundance of water, because they insist the proper way to drink it is through the ass.

Someone can still set them straight, though. Unlike the Wonder Woman creative team, who insist that the perfectly potable water is poisoned and that it doesn't matter because no one's known how to get water from the truck since World War II.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wonder Woman Wednesday

Well, it's ridiculous that I haven't gotten in on this so far, but I've been busy Wednesdays.

The scene I initially considered is too awesome, I need to blog the whole issue and explain the context. Instead (from the same run) here's Diana meeting the esteemed wielder of the "Daggers of Vulcan" in Wonder Woman #307:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Something cheerful

I've heard this episode is getting postponed, but at least they've released some of the Wonder Woman intro. (Via)

That has to be the best first scene of a guest yet. I can't wait until she gets a full episode.

Monday, May 23, 2011

This is exactly why I say DC is being stupid about Wonder Woman.

When it came to the most talked about pilot they were shopping around, Roth said he thought Wonder Woman was a very “well crafted” pilot. “But after seeing the announcement of the NBC schedule, I now understand and agree with [NBC Entertainment Chairman] Bob [Greenblatt] that it doesn’t necessarily fit particularly well with their schedule,” said Roth, “As well crafted and contemporized as it was, it was a big and radical shift for viewers to embrace this new idea — and that may, to some degree, have had to do with why it didn’t make it.”

When asked if Wonder Woman would be seen in another form, on another network besides NBC, Roth answered, “To be determined. I’m just not sure yet; we haven’t given it a lot of thought.”

One of the classic, iconic comic book characters of the 20th Century, the most recognizable female superhero in our culture, is a "big and radical shift" for viewers to embrace.

Oh, and this project got more press and excitement than ANY of the shit they'll be flinging at us next fall based purely on the name Wonder Woman but they haven't given any thought to trying another adaptation.

This is stupid. It's very clear people want some form of Wonder Woman, they were hungry for news of it. They devoured every picture and release and casting decision. People want to watch Wonder Woman.

You're supposed to be fucking businessmen. You are on top of a fucking gold mine, but you're standing around at the entrance looking at your map trying to find some copper.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It hurts to say this, but Steve Trevor is not a complete idiot.

We all like to make our "Nice house, nobody home" and head injury jokes about Wonder Woman's boyfriend, but the truth of the matter is that he's not meant to be an especially stupid person. He can be a bit slow sometimes, and he's certainly mockable for it, but he's not actually unreasonably stupid about the secret identity. Yes, this man is completely in love with Wonder Woman but does not recognize Diana Prince. There's an interesting metatextual aspect to this, but Marston was a very smart man who actually included an in-story reason for Diana's secret identity being secure.

See, the thing everyone conveniently forgets is that there actually was a Diana Prince in the Golden Age. She's the Pauper in our Diana's Princess and the Pauper style origin story. Diana Prince has a job at the hospital and a man who's going to move to South America, but she doesn't have the money to join him. Princess Diana has the money, but she's really got no home, no job, and no way to keep an eye on her danger-prone love interest while he's in the hospital. So one Diana helps the other out, and manages to get a quiet place from which to observe Man's World.

A lot of people hate the secret identity, I know those are the stories where Diana looks the worst in the Silver Age (but they are also the sort of stories where CLARK looks the worst in the Silver Age), and I actually do like emphasizing Truth and Honor as what Diana represents among superheroes. But if we have to have one (and for some reason they seem insistent upon it), I prefer the story where she comes up with it herself while helping another woman out. It's certainly better than "Batman set it up for her."

"But RAAAAGNELL! It's too implausible that she'd find an EXACT lookalike."


The gods have taken an active role in Diana's life. This isn't "Magneto's magnetic powers are allowing him to control stuff that can't be magnetized" implausibility, this is "What the fuck? A Steve Trevor from an Alternate Universe breached the wall between realities at the EXACT SPOT his recently deceased counterpart landed years ago, the DAY after Diana's memory of this universe's Steve has been erased" implausibility. This is a "part of the plot, and showing the mysterious works of Fate" coincidence, the sort of coincidence that is perfectly in keeping with her fairy tale/fantasy setup, having Hermes the god of chance meetings as a patron, and knowing that the Fates have woven this meeting into Diana's life.

But how does this make Steve less dense? Well, Nurse Prince worked at Walter Reed. Steve Trevor is based in Washington and has probably been in and out of that hospital a few dozen times for physicals, checkups, and minor injuries. He may not have ever talked to Diana Prince, but he's probably seen her around. And this is an established woman with a paper trail, a birth certificate, a diploma from a nursing school and (by Kanigher's retelling) a picture of herself standing next to Wonder Woman.

Along with not realizing there was once another Diana Prince peopel also tend to forget that Wonder Woman's real name isn't Diana Prince. (At least, they do when tagging on Tumblr.) It wasn't pre-Crisis, and it's not now. She is simply not that person. She has an origin that involves being raised on Paradise Island at the same time that Diana Prince was growing up in the US. While Diana Prince was establishing her paper trail, being photographed, meeting people that a private investigator can track down and talk to, Princess Diana was on Paradise Island. And while some people may doubt that the Amazons exist and their princess never set foot on US soil until the day she dropped of Steve, there's one person who has seen and spoken to them and knows that girl never saw a man before he showed up.

Steve Trevor is the only man on the planet who can be absolutely certain of where Wonder Woman came from, and he knows it's not the hospital on Diana Prince's certificate.

But why does he insist one is more attractive than the other? Well, he's pretty dazzled by Wonder Woman and it goes much deeper than her having a pretty face. He's wowed by her strength, capability and energy, traits that are hidden when she shows up as Diana Prince.