What I Read This Week – 1/25/12

SECRET AVENGERS #21.1

So far in the tradeoff between Ellis and Remender it looks like this series is going to lose some of the total weirdness (count me disappointed that they just fight run-of-the-mill supervillains this issue) and gained some actual characterization. The cast members actually have distinct personalities now! It’ll be interesting to see what the rest of the team dynamic is like. Please add more hyperdimensional threats though.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #5

I am officially bored of this book though I will probably stick around for the next issue to see Jim Lee draw Apokalips. Though with Geoff Johns writing it it’ll probably just be boringly generic. Also EVERYBODY KNOWS OMEGA BEAMS CANNOT BE TRICKED INTO HITTING OBSTACLES, THEY WILL JUST GO AROUND THEM. Darkseid is supposed to be all-pervasive, inevitable, yet fatally human. Here he is just another bad guy to be smashed. Read the rest of this entry »


Breaking the Vicious Circle

Written for the Women Write About Comics blog carnival, but also written because it needs to be. The topic: Women In Refrigerators 13 Years Later.

During the latter decades of comics, following the “social relevance” of the ’70s and the “gritty realism” of Watchmen (those quotes are more or less deserved), the threat of real violence entered the utopian world of the superhero. Rape and murder were now on the table for any villain seeking to prove themselves as a real threat. The superheroes’ non-superpowered significant others became targets to be victimized. And since most superheroes were men, that meant that it was the helpless women that got killed.

It’s not that it couldn’t hypothetically happen to men. If, say, Wonder Woman had some cute-but-mortal boyfriend (like Steve Rogers? Does she still date Steve Rogers? I can’t keep track of these things), and some XTREME new villain called BLOODICIDE or PAINSPIKE or similar came along looking to prove how HARDCORE EVIL he was, then poor hapless non-superpowered guy (who might be Steve Rogers) probably fits in a refrigerator just the same as any girl. But when was the last time a superwoman had a stable relationship with a regular guy? If she’s in a team book she’s probably seeing somebody on the team for purposes of narrative convenience. Only in the solo series where the characters date normal people so they have someone to keep their secret identity hidden from, and 99.999999999999999% of all solo series are about men.

Superheroes are a men-centric world. Written and drawn by men, assuming a male audience, with male central characters. Thus the women are incidental, usually side characters, objects to be desired or protected, defined entirely by their relationships with the men of the series. And they’re drawn to reflect that. Sure, there’s body dysmorphism for both sexes in comics, but it’s only the women that get distorted into sex objects that always pose for maximum T&A. The men are always hypersculpted icons of power, with nary a hint of sexual characteristics even when wearing a skintight body suit that ought to leave nothing to the imagination. Read the rest of this entry »


What I Read This Week – 1/18/2012

We’ll say it’s late due to snow, yeah, that’s as good an excuse as any.

PROPHET #21

The internet said this was going to be good and indeed it was! You know what this reminds me of actually is a hyperviolent Rice Boy, what with them both beind about an outsider journeying across a weird land to resurrect God. Between this and Spaceman it might be a good time for science fiction comics. Break the superhero’s hold on the direct market! Fight the power! But I suppose a lot of the enduring power of superheroes is that you can take any kind of genre and wrap a superhero costume around it. I mean, Green Lantern is basically 100% sci-fi-action-adventure. Maybe we can see some more quiet and socially oriented science fiction comics, like the New Wave authors of old? No, there is no room for that in comics. It must have explosions! And alien sex!

UNCANNY X-FORCE #20

I actually consider it a sign of a good series when I pick it up in the middle and have no idea what the hell is going on. That means it’s taking advantage of the unrestrained insanity of superhero mythology. The incomprehensible arcana. Something like that. There is Nightcrawler in this now but he isn’t the regular Nightcrawler, instead he is a jerk? I enjoy that. What I do not enjoy as much are those thick, chunky lines which render things visually incomprehensible too. Read the rest of this entry »


The Murderous Feminine in Mythology: Why Poison Ivy Shouldn’t Wear Clothes

I came to a realization when I was playing Arkham City: Poison Ivy looks weird wearing clothes. She’s been through many looks of course, all the way from Bettie Page in a green leotard to photosynthetic skin and ivy covering her naughty bits. It’s just her particular look in Arkham City, where she’s wearing a belly shirt and nothing else, looks so odd. Why (I mean, other than ratings reasons) would she even wear clothes at all?

Poison Ivy is beyond human society. The world of men is corrupt and hypocritical, and Ivy is liberated from that. She wouldn’t hide her natural body under man-made clothes. Plus clothes are generally made out of exploited plants. Ivy wearing a cotton shirt would be like a vegan wearing leather. If she does wear clothes at all, they would be made out of living plants that willingly give themselves to protect their Earth-mother from the poisoned atmosphere of the urban world.

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What I Read This Week – 1/11/12

FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. #5

Well telling the same story twice from slightly different perspectives is one way to save time while scripting a crossover, I guess. Mark me up as disappointed because I was definitely expecting more insane burly-monster-on-burly-monster action.

STORMWATCH #5

This incarnation of Stormwatch is a little lacking in the transgressive quality that made the original Stormwatch fun, but it’s still a good read. Apollo and Midnighter are just so cute together. They even finish each other’s sentences! Admittedly that’s because Midnighter is such an advanced human being he can calculate peoples’ behavior, but still, I look forward to them again becoming comics’ cutest/most hyperviolent couple. Read the rest of this entry »


What I Read This Week – 1/4/2012

ACTION COMICS #5

Maybe Action Comics hasn’t been the classic I was hoping for, but it’s still quite good with an exuberant sense of energy. And with what appears to be a full spectrum of Kryptonite-powered villains from the future it seems it’s going to be going full-on Silver Age at some point. I’m 100% OK with that.

FATALE

Criminal with tentacles! When I first saw the previews I was afraid it was just going to be a mashup of noir and Lovecraft stereotypes, featuring your typical evil seductress. That’s an archetype I find a bit problematic for feminist reasons, but since it turns out it’s actually A) from her point of view and B) she’s not particularly evil or in command, I feel much, much better about this comic. It almost seems like Brubaker’s going to be deconstructing the occult noir archetype from the inside, which should be really interesting.

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Dark Knight, Dark Continent

Batwing had the potential to be so much better than it was. Take all the psychotrope-enhanced  noir archetypes of Batman and then transfer them to a completely new setting, a reflection of Africa as dark and paranoid as Gotham’s reflection of New York. They could’ve made a whole new corner of the DC universe and instead they came up with one of the blandest comics in the New 52, where blank characters fight on a blank backdrop and the only way you’d know it’s set in Africa is because everybody keeps mentioning that it’s in Africa. There is more than one country in Africa, did you know? This is a fact you won’t learn from reading Batwing.

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