Monday, September 28, 2009

Heroes: Season 4 - Episode 2: Ink


The revelation that Matt did indeed put Sylar's personality inside his head, using the logic that "I'm a cop, he's a killer. I stop killers. If that means imprisoning him inside my head, so be it." It's stupid but it's the ballsiest thing Matt has ever done, so I'm willing to let it slide.

The whole fake-out with Sylar proving just how much of a threat he can be inside of Matt's head was VERY effective. Basically, Sylar used Matt's own power against him and caused him to see several things that weren't there, tricking Matt into accusing a drug-dealer of kidnapping and murder with a lot of evidence that didn't actually exist and nearly beating the guy to death.

Again with the character growth! Noah actually admits he can't protect Claire for the rest of her life and that he has to let her handle her own problems.

Still no sign of Mohinder. He didn't even do the voice-over. Not even the Previously On Heroes.


The murder mystery re: Claire's roommate has been completely dropped. And they didn't even bother to hide the subtext of Claire's new friendship ("Can I see it?" "This is my first time?") If you're going to make with the lesbians, let's get it over with and see some kissing!

Our new carnie bad guy's power doesn't make any sense to me. He says he's an Earth-Mover and we did see him fill in a grave with a wave of his hand. But how does that translate into him being able to absorb ink, make someone's tattoo choke them, throw a bottle at a pyramid of milk bottles and letting it stand despite knocking out one of the middle pins and being able to photoshop newspaper photos with a touch?

Emma - the newest hero. A deaf woman who hates people, intentionally isolates herself by wearing headphones so people won't talk to her... and her power is seeing sounds as colors. Or maybe she really does have synthesia and her power is being able to pick up any musical instrument and play it like a pro instantly. Either way, what the hell is the point of this character and every scene she was in?!

I just realized - why is this show called HEROES when the only person who is really doing anything heroic or noble is Peter?


I think that HEROES must take place in some parallel version of the Marvel Universe... because I'm hard pressed to believe there is anywhere else where people - much less hospital workers who presumably would be fairly intelligent and well educated - are so stupid/evil to believe it possible for an ordinary man (keep in mind none of his co-workers know about Peter's powers) to rig multiple accidents without people being killed, just so that he can set himself up as a hero - something that Peter is accused of doing after being sued for dislocating a man's shoulder while saving his life.

For that matter, aren't EMT's insured against this type of thing? Something like Malpractice Insurance for Doctors?

When people look back and ask at which point HEROES jumped the shark, I think the words "The Cello Scene" will be fairly common.

Heroes: Season 4 - The First Two Hours


Peter is awesome again. His power is apparently back to full strength (I'm too tired to ask why at this point) and he's back to his heroic ways, working as a paramedic and using his powers to help make the job easier.

The sequence with Tracy trying to kill Noah was actually pretty good. And the brief flirtation between the two is the most interesting thing that has been done with either of them in a while.

Danko is finally dead. I'm curious how he stayed out of prison after last season but hey - no point in worrying now.

Matt and Noah both tell Angela off for forcing them into the whole "saving Sylar's life" situation. And Peter tells Noah off (politely) for trying to drag him back into being a Company man.


The whole story arc with Claire and her dead roommate is just BORING. I can't believe we spent two minutes watching Hayden P. suck at playing Guitar Hero.

The writers clearly have no idea what to do with Hiro. The whole "my powers are killing me" thing is classic soap opera. And the "I can use my powers to do this... but i must not!" thing got tired two seasons ago.

They didn't wait long at all before showing that Sylar/Nathan is breaking his programming.

I have no idea what the deal is with The Compass, The Carnies or how being able to move earth translates into controlling ink and using tattoos to strangle someone.


I'm just going to lay this prediction out right now and promise myself an M&M Blizzard if I am right; Claire's new best friend killed her roommate as part of a misguided effort to "get to know Claire". Because I'm just cynical enough to think the only way NBC would allow a lesbian college girl relationship to be depicted is if it turns out that the other girl is a psycho killer.

What's the one thing worse than still having Sylar around? Having two Sylars around. Prediction: Matt will go over the edge as "Sylar" begins taking over Mr. Hyde style.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fast Thoughts on Almost Everything I Read - The Week Of 9/23/09

One book that was good (though not as good as it has been), one book that was spectacularly bad and a whole lot of meh. Today, we discuss the Meh.

BLACKEST NIGHT SUPERMAN #2 : The most interesting part - Supergirl fighting her zombie father on New Krypton - is also the part given the shortest shrift. Dragging an undead Psycho Pirate (who has the power to manipulate emotions) into the mix is an inspired idea but it can't hide the fact that Robinson's dialogue sounds just plain weird at times, especially the Earth 2 Superman.

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #14 : Did you want to read an exciting adventure about Conan's village having to fight a monster? No? Too bad, cause that's what most of this issue is devoted to, apart from some brief scenes showing how quickly bored Conan gets by easy love and palace life. It's not that bad by any means but as cool as it is seeing Conan's mom kicking monster ass, I'd much rather see a whole issue watching Conan hunt in the queen's private park than cutting away to see what is happening elsewhere.

DOCTOR WHO:BLACK DEATH/WHITE LIFE : It's a typical New Who Season 3 story, with Martha Jones being next to useless and The Doctor having to play at being a real Doctor as he deals with a space plague infecting 17th Century England. Easily skipped by all but the most die-hard of Whovians.

Later This Weekend: Why Power Girl Is Awesome and Why I'm Glad I Didn't Cancel My Subscription To Hellblazer Until Now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just When You Thought Marvel Couldn't Get Stupider/More Evil Regarding Marketing To Women & Girls...

... here comes their new line of superhero-inspired costumes for women and girls!

Yes, they come in girl's sizes too! So you too can begin training your elementary-school aged daughter for a high-profile career in the exciting world of exotic dancing!

The best part about this? The descriptions on the site!

Inspired by some of the most well known Marvel super heroes we have created a line of fashion forward costumes for women and girls who have the desire to be fun and playful for Halloween.

Because why would you want to dress like one of our many wonderful female heroes when you could be dressing like a sexy Captain America?!

And as far as "fun and playful" goes, from the look of it I'd say "Emma" is strictly play for pay.

Great to team up with a few of your fellow super heroines to save the world.

Unless you're dressed up as one of the two characters who, at their best, have always been anti-heroes if not outright villains. But who cares as long as you're having sudsy fun?!

You know, I really have to tip my hat to whoever designed these. It takes some doing to create a line of superhero-inspired costumes where the Black Cat and White Queen outfits are the LEAST trashy while somehow being completely inaccurate to the original character design. But damn me if costume designer/manufacturer Disguise didn't manage it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Because I Live To Answer These Questions...

Someone over at Topless Robot had the good fortune not to see any of HEROES thus far. He asked if anyone could give him any context going into the show.

Well, I love a challenge and I could use a catharsis to keep me awake tonight. So let's just see how well I can sum things up and how funny I can make it.

First, a list of the major players.

The Company - a shadowy organization founded after the Vietnam War, dedicated to policing/controlling people with superpowers. It was founded by 12 people with superpowers, who decided that there were a lot of corrupt bastards who would abuse their gifts if they weren't monitored. Corrupt bastards like them, to be exact. The Company (as an entity or through the actions of its' founders) has been responsible for 90% of the bad things that happen on this show.

Angela - the only surviving member of the Company founders going into Season 4. Has two sons, Nathan and Peter as well as a granddaughter, Claire - all of whom have powers. Angela is the queen of manipulative bitches and is the only person, up until the end of Season 3, who was written with a consistent IQ. She has dream visions of the future and a deep hatred of time-travelers, whose antics give her headaches when they 'change' things.

Peter - emo male nurse who had the power to copy the abilities of any other powered person he'd ever met, even if he never sees them use their powers. Would be the most powerful person in the world if he weren't a complete idiot. Currently working as an EMT in NYC and has his powers nerfed to where he can only store one power at a time and he has to touch a person to copy their power.

Nathan - ex-Congressman appointed state Senator. Had the power to fly but he didn't like using it and spent most of the first three seasons either denying his powers, giving the shaft to other people with powers and secretly overseeing a project to give everyone superpowers. Has been President of the United States in at least two alternate futures. Is currently dead, but being impersonated unknowingly by major villain Sylar.

Sylar - a watchmaker who had the power to instantly understand how any complex system works by looking at it. What made him a cracker-jack watchmaker also enabled him to "steal" the powers of others after he cut their heads open and took a look at how the brains worked. Was an effective villain in Season One and an afterthought in Season Two. And as for Season Three... well, wait for the season summaries...

Claire - the invincible cheerleader, with a Wolverine-style healing factor. Most of the show's main storylines have focused on how important she is and how very important it is that she not be put in any kind of danger. This is ironic (and stupid) since the show has shown Claire (or anybody with a healing factor) can regrow limbs, survive prolonged exposure to radiation and that they don't age after a certain point. So Claire is actually in the least amount of danger compared to any other character.

Noah - a.k.a Bennet a.k.a. HRG (Horn Rimmed Glasses) - Claire's adopted father, Company Agent and the one person who has kept the world safe from the stupidity of his bosses and the idiots who won the genetic lottery and got superpowers.

Hiro - the time-traveling, time-stopping, teleporting otaku. Alternates between being genre savy and a complete idiot as the plot requires. Would be able to solve most of the problems on the show in five minutes if he weren't easily distracted by the side-quests the writers keep throwing at him. Also has his powers nerfed, to where he can now only freeze time. Also, using his power might be killing him.

Ando - Hiro's long suffering Hetero Life Mate. Started out with no powers but, thanks to a dose of McGuffin Juice, now has the power to boost other hero's powers. (i.e. a moderately powerful telepath could read minds across a city) He can also shoot red lightning bolts when the plot says he has to.

Matt - the series butt monkey. He's a telepath AND has the power to see the future, but is continually distracted from actually doing anything to affect the plot by various side-quests. Exists primarily to show an Everyman suffering at the hands of characters who actually do things.

Mohinder - a.k.a. Mohinderance. Geneticist whose geneticist father apparently did a lot more harm than good with his research into superpowers. Mohinder is continuing the fine family tradition of dabbling in SCIENCE! and is here primarily to explain things to the viewer. Created a formula that gives people superpowers after spending the better part of four months trying to find a way to take their powers away. Tested the formula on himself and has now settled - after a brief period where he was turning into a giant cockroach - on having super strength.

Tracy - a lobbyist who spent most of Season 3 either working under Nathan (in every sense of the phrase) or being chained up in an oven. Was thought to have the power to freeze things but her powers may extend to controlling and becoming water, based on the Season 4 preview. Exists primarily to provide fan service until Claire is 21 and lusting after her is officially "no longer creepy".


Around the world, ordinary people are developing extraordinary powers. Three of them (office worker Hiro, junkie artist Isaac and nurse Peter) join forces after each of them is confronted with evidence that New York City will be destroyed in a nuclear disaster.

In Hiro's case, he accidentally went forward in time and saw the devistation. In Isaac's case, he paints visions of the future when he is high. And in Peter's case, he was approached by a man who claimed to be Hiro in the future, who only gave him the cryptic message "Save the Cheerleader, Save The World".

This message, it turns out, referred to Claire - a Texas cheerleader, who was the next target of a serial killer called Sylar. Sylar targeted other superhumans so he could take their powers. Using Isaac's paintings, Peter was able to figure out where to go and saved Claire. Everything was wonderful until Peter started having visions of exploding and realized that whatever destroyed New York would still happen and he was the cause.

It turned out that The Company had also foreseen Peter's impending doom and was planning to use it to put Peter's brother Nathan on the fast-track to the presidency, letting him milk the sympathy of having his district "nuked by terrorists" in order to run for higher office.

Sylar was captured by The Company but quickly escaped and set about continuing where he left off. At the same time, Claire's father was working to hide Claire's powers from his bosses, eventually putting her into hiding rather than let her become a guinea pig. This led to him being imprisoned and orchestrating a jail break with several others, including a scientist who had the power to manipulate radiation.

For a while, it looked like Sylar (who killed the radioactive man) was going to become the human bomb instead. But after he killed Isaac and gained the ability to see the future, he was able to manipulate things toward a final showdown with Peter, where Peter lost control of his powers and threatened to explode. Disaster was averted when Hiro showed up, killed Sylar with a sword through the chest and Nathan - feeling guilty over the deaths of the people he was supposed to represent - showed up and flew Peter into the sky, seemingly killing them both. The season ended with a time lost Hiro crash-landing in feudal Japan.


In the past, Hiro winds up setting up the birth of The Company by accident. His interference in a war leads both to the creation of the legends of Kensei (his favorite mythological hero) and an Englishman with a healing factor (the original Kensei) swearing blood revenge on all of humanity after Hiro accidentally won the heart of his girlfriend.

Back in the present, Peter (who survived the explosion) is imprisoned by The Company, befriends another prisoner named Adam and the two escape together. Peter is given telepathic amnesia and sent to Ireland in a crate, where he is discovered by Irish gangsters who quickly recruit Peter into their organization. Somehow, Peter is much more effective at using his powers without any memories... though he quickly winds up screwing up his new life after he accidentally goes forward in time to a future where a plague has destroyed most life on Earth and leaves his girlfriend there.

Eventually, Peter gets back, meets up with Adam again and we find out that Adam is the bloke Hiro pissed off in the past. He convinces Peter to help him break into a Company facility so they can get this virus "to destroy it", intending to use it himself the whole time. Despite being a telepath AND amnesiac, Peter never things to read his new best friend's mind... just to make sure.

Oh, and Sylar? It turns out The Company had an agent save his life and inject him with a virus that would remove his powers. That's good. But they only leave him with the one agent to guard him. That's bad. And by the end of Season Two, he has his powers back.

Eventually Adam is stopped by Hiro and buried alive in a coffin. The virus isn't released and Peter - after a talk with Nathan (who was healed with Adam's blood in the hospital) - agrees to out the existence of superpowers to the world. But at the press conference, somebody shoots Nathan before he can reveal that he can fly and the season ends.


It turns out that the gunman who shot Nathan was Peter FROM THE FUTURE! It turns out that revealing the existence of superpowers was a very bad thing and the future sucks because of it.

Sylar tracks down Claire and takes her power but it turns out cutting her head open won't kill her, making most of the worries behind Season One - COMPLETELY POINTLESS! He then goes after The Company's main headquarters, intent on revenge. The good news is that one agent is able to stop and subdue him. The bad news is that, in the process, a bunch of other people The Company has been keeping imprisoned escape.

We are told that together they are as dangerous as 10 Sylars. In actuality, most of the escapees are either innocent people The Company imprisoned because they thought they COULD be dangerous (i.e. a man who could create controllable wormholes) or idiots whose first action upon breaking out of prison is causing as much property damage as possible and robbing banks. Sylar is told by Angela that she is his real birth mother and he immediately goes to work for The Company, trying to recapture all the escapees. Most of them are dead or recaptured within two episodes, making the whole break-out plot... COMPLETELY POINTLESS!

All of this is put on hold, however, when it is revealed that Angela's husband Arthur isn't really dead, that he had the power to permanently steal other people's powers and that she tried to kill him after he used his stolen telepathy to turn her into a Stepford Wife. Arthur has some kind of plan to give everyone in the world superpowers using a formula The Company had access to at one point. He also recruits Mohinder, for some reason, to work on the project even though Mohinder's efforts at accidentally creating the same formula are slowly turning him into a cockroach. He also recruits Nathan and Sylar onto his team, along with all the escapees who didn't get recaptured and a few disgruntled ex-Company agents Angela fired.

Meanwhile, Future Peter takes Present Peter to the future to show him how much things sucked after everyone got superpowers. Future Peter is killed, Present Peter is captured and winds up killing his own brother (IN THE FUTURE!) after taking Sylar's power (IN THE FUTURE!) and time-traveling back to the Present, where he promptly loses all his powers after confronting his father.

It all ends badly when Peter destroys the facility where Nathan is mass-producing the formula to make an army of super-soldiers, Mohinder is somehow cured of his cockroachism by being drowned in the formula, Sylar kills Arthur after using his newly-acquired lie-detector power to figure out that he isn't really Angela and Arthur's son and goes back to his villainous ways. Oh, and Peter sorta gets his powers back in that he can still copy powers, but only one at a time and only through touching another person. So yeah, he's basically Rogue now.

Oh, and Hiro was running around trying to recover the formula this whole time... but it's really not worth going into except to say he lost his powers and Ando got powers. So... yeah.


After spending most of the last chapter thinking that giving everyone superpowers would solve everything, Nathan does a total 180 and decides that he has to imprison everyone with superpowers, lest they prove to use them unwisely. He recruits Bennet to help him with trapping and monitoring these people... but things go screwy after The President (who Nathan tells about the existence of super powers) insists that he put a Black-Ops expert named Danko in charge of the field teams.

Danko, in the fine Marvel tradition, hates all mutants. Except for Sylar, who he eventually partners up with. And is screwed over by.

Pretty much everyone is captured by the government, escapes when Claire crashes the prison plane they were being held on and goes on the run. Except for Sylar, who manages to kill every agent who comes after him, tracks down his real father, figures out dad has the same powers and is kind of a jerk and goes back to his old goal of becoming as powerful as possible - by replacing The President of the United States.

Long story short (too late) the Heroes do eventually unite, convince Nathan of the error of his ways (after he gets outed as a filthy mutant to Danko, of course) and Sylar is subdued... after he killed Nathan.

If saner heads were in charge, they'd kill him right then and there. But because Angela is obsessed with the idea that her visions of the future can not NOT happen, she convinces a late-to-the-party Matt to use his powers to make Sylar (who can now shape-shift) think he is Nathan.

The chapter ends with Tracy (who really didn't matter until this point) starting to kill off various officials involved in illegally incarcerating her and other powered people and Nathan/Sylar showing signs that he is figuring out the truth.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fast Thoughts on Everything Else I Read - The Week Of 9/16/08

EX MACHINA #45- Things are heating up going into the final story arc. And I honestly have no idea what is going to happen next.

FABLES #88 - Frau Tottenkinder is up to something and Beauty is pregnant. None of this is this least bit shocking to anybody who has been paying attention for the last few issues.

Still no mention of Rose Red. Hell, Jack's attempting to corrupt Bigby and Snow's kids has been completely forgotten. I guess we're not supposed to care about Rose anymore now that the writers apparently don't.

Six Things I Liked About Batman: The Winding Gyre #1

How did Kevin Smith put out a new Batman comic - much less one that arrived on-time - without my hearing about it until I saw the ads last week?

1. The Smith writes a damn good old-school Dick Grayson; all wise-cracks and pluck.

2. The fact that this story is set at some point before Infinite Crisis, since we still have Dick Grayson as Nightwing, working out of Bludhaven and generally being a much happier character than he's been since... well, anytime in recent memory.

3. The brief character moment where we get inside Bruce's cowl and have him pondering his own aging and mortality. I can't remember anyone else except Frank Miller approaching this subject and this is nowhere near as heavy handed.

4. Like Bruce, I too feel my three-sizes too small heart warm when I ponder this image.

5. Speaking of blasts from the past, I love seeing someone writing Ivy was she used to be written back in the day; putting the nymph back in nymphomaniac.

6. Finally, I love how Smith writes Etrigan. Especially his rhymes, which are very fitting for how Etrigan is written in the Vertigo titles. Or any Etrigan The Demon story Keith Giffen or Dwayne McDuffie ever wrote.

I also love the concept of the book, which centers around Batman having to protect Poison Ivy from a vengeful Etrigan. Why? You'll have to read the book to find out. ;)

Six Cool Things We Learned in Blackest Night #3

1. Now, they say you don't tug on Superman's cape and you can't pull the ring off a Black Lantern's hand...

2. Whatever the Black Lanterns rings are made of, it's channeling the energy they absorb from living beings elsewhere and it's very, very old.

3. The Black Lanterns can't sense a living being unless they are feeling an excess amount of one of the big seven emotions.

4. Ray Palmer radiates compassion like a little purple dwarf star.

5. A Green Lantern's Light, combined with that of another color, like Indigo, can disrupt the Black Lantern rings.

6. The undead Firestorm is apparently able to simulate "the Matrix" well enough that half of the current Firestorm can become trapped inside his head, unable to affect the actions of the undead body half of the equation.

Very interesting and very good book.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's Send Disney A Message About Marvel's "All-Ages" Books.

I avoided writing about this for the last few days. Partly because I hadn't read the issues in question and partly because so many others were covering the story in a better fashion than I ever could. In case you've somehow avoided hearing about the "Spider-Man Rape Scandal" until now, you can read all the dirty details, with image scans, here.

Actually, you can read all about them at more than a few sites. The story has become so big it has broken into the mainstream media at multiple points. So why break my silence now?

Because I still believe that with great power comes great responsibility. And minute as my power as a comic-reviewing blogger is, I do feel a responsibility to use it.

Because I don't think that heroes - especially heroes in a book advertised as being suitable for young children (Amazing Spider-Man is rated "All Ages" according to Marvel Comics) - have any business drinking to the point of insensibility.

Because I don't think that it is appropriate to imply sexual activity - particularly irresponsible sexual activity - in a book that is apparently intended for younger audiences. And make no mistake - according to Marvel assistant editor Tom Brennan, "what you think happened is pretty much what happened."

Because I don't think portrayals of women as hateful, nagging shrews who can be turned into clingy, obsessive bimbos after one sexual encounter rape make-out session are funny or appropriate in the 21st century.

But mostly - because I don't like having my intelligence insulted. And I can't think of any word besides insult that I can use to describe a Marvel Comics editor Steve Wacker insisting that "readers have imagined more than is on the page" after they depict a woman wearing a man's shirt and underwear as she immediately starts setting down rules for their relationship and telling him what they are going to do together.

They've implied a sexual act occured between The Chameleon and Peter's roommate, Michelle. Plain and simple.

And you can argue the legal definiton of rape, based on whichever country, state, provience or prefecture you live in - it's still sleazy and wrong by any decent moral standard.

And even though the most recent issue reportedly confirms that nothing happened between Michelle and the Chameleon besides a make-out session on the kitchen floor, portraying Michelle as clingy folowing the act - whatever it was - when she's been nothing but dismissive and insulting to Peter before now does not make a lick of sense.

At best, it's an insulting stereotype (i.e "bitch just needs to get laid!"). At worst, it's an insult to the intelligence of the readers to believe this sudden change of heart came about because of a simple make-out session on the kitchen floor.

Thankfully, there's a new power running things at Marvel now. And they don't take kindly to racial stereotyping, blatant sexism or rape as comedy.

I think they would appreciate hearing your polite, thoughtful letters about your concerns over this sort of thing being presented as "All-Ages Entertainment".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Six Things To Love In Wonder Woman #35

1. The opening splash page...

2. ... which leads into a wonderful scene of Dinah and Diana in a Japanese toy store. I want that Green Arrow figure!

3. Every bloody scene of Diana and Dinah bonding as they go around Tokyo.

4. Wonder Woman fights a vengeful Pele; goddess of fire and violence in the Hawaiian pantheon... and gets burned, literally and figuratively.

5. Dinah faces an arena full of super-villains by herself... and wins easily!

6. Sarge Steel confronting Dr. Psycho about the evils of identity theft.

Six Things To Love In Blackest Night: Batman #2

1. Batman follows step one of the Zombie Attack Survival Guide - Get Weapons.

2. Jim Gordon - Zombie Fighter!

3. What's more awesome than Batman? Batman with a Flamethrower!

4. Deadman's last-minute save of Jim and Barbara Gordon.

5. For that matter, the fact that Barbara's body is still strong enough to pull off this kind of maneuver while carrying her father's weight. That's all Babs, everyone!

6. Red Robin bisecting zombies with a Bat-Plane.

Six Things To Love In Green Lantern Corps #40

I like this format. Let's do it again, shall we?

1. Kyle Rayner's aura to the eyes of a Black Lantern; a mixture of Love, Compassion and Willpower. This, more than anything else, shows how well Peter Tomasi understands Kyle as a character.

2. The Star Sapphire Miri Riam and the Sinestro Corps Soldier Kryb joining forces to find out what happened to all the babies Kryb has kidnapped.

3. The sudden power struggle between the Manhunter-technology enhanced Alpha Lanterns and the non-cyborg Green Lanterns holding leadership posts... which lasts all of two minutes thanks to Salaak.

4. Salaak quoting from The Book Of Guy in his dressing down of said Alpha Lanterns.

5. Kyle proving just why he's in the Honor Guard and that he's no fool, even when faced with a girlfriend returned from the dead.

6. The return of Katma Tui in a way that we couldn't possibly... actually, we saw this coming a mile away. But it's still awesome to finally see it!

Six Things To Love In Secret Six #12

1. Ragdoll. Just Ragdoll. But especially Ragdoll looting the body of an unconscious Wonder Woman.

2. Scandal Savage staring down a gang of hardened, heavily-armed slavers and telling them they only have half a minute to live.

3. The fact that they believe her.

4. Parenting The Vandal Savage Way! Where you celebrate your daughter's 9th birthday by running her through a gauntlet, telling her that her mother will die if she doesn't make it and then giving her her first weapon, a combat lesson and a second chance as a present.

5. Deadshot's daydreams indicating that his conscience may not be nearly as dead as he claims it to be. Either that or he's more annoyed by his current bosses than his teammates.

6. Catman, looking ever so pimp, as he makes the greatest entrance ever.

Long Story Short: This Is Officially Now My Favorite Book. :)

An Ode To Alexandra DeWitt. Or Why Ron Marz Might Not Be Quite As Big A Pig As You Think.

I was catching up on When Fangirls Attack this afternoon, when I read an article by one Marron regarding Kyle Rayner's first love and the inspiration for the phrase Women In Refrigerators, Alexandra "Alex" DeWitt.

It's a good read. There's a few factual errors (Alex and Kyle weren't on their first date in Green Lantern #48 and Major Force had always been depicted as being relatively immortal) but these are things only a die-hard Green Lantern fan is likely to know. And ultimately these mistakes are unimportant compared to the main point of the article, which is made wonderfully. That is to say, to quote Marron, "Brutality against women in comic books is not acceptable as a plot device, especially when the character in question was created with no purpose other than being murdered."

Marron's main point is that, in creating a character whose death would forever change Kyle Rayner and force him to manhood/maturity as he took his first steps on The Hero's Path, there is no reason why the death had to be that of a female character. Alex could have easily been a man and the death need not have been that of Kyle's girlfriend but his brother, father, uncle or best friend.

Now, this is a fair complaint, if only because the male hero avenging his wife/girlfriend/mother/sister/daughter is probably the biggest cliche in the action/adventure genre. But I think it's also a little unfair to draw major conclusions about Ron Marz's feminist credentials (or lack thereof) based on one character in one story. Particularly given that he managed a hell of a feat with Alex DeWitt given what he had to work with... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

In her article, Marron quotes from a statement Ron Marz made to Gail Simone's website about Alex Dewitt. Marz said, in defense of Alex's death, that "Alex was a character destined to die from the moment she was first introduced in GL #48. I created her with the intention of having her be murdered at the hands of Major Force."

While this does seem like a damning statement at first, the rest of the paragraph does, in my mind, absolves Ron Marz of some of the flack he has gotten. For while he did create Alex solely for the purpose of killing her off, he did realize how important her death needed to be and what that required of him as a writer.

" I took a lot of care in building her as a character, because I wanted her to be liked and her death to mean something to the readers. I wanted readers to be horrified at the crime, and to empathize with Kyle's loss."

It would have been easy for Marz to make Alex a one-note character... but he didn't. He made Alex smart. He made Alex funny. He made Alex, in a lot of ways, a much more stable and likable person than Kyle. And he did this in just three issues.

Just think about that. Three issues.

Three issues he has to develop this character who many readers fell in love with instantly... just to kill her off so the audience would get good and pissed off at the bad guy. Given that it's some 15 years or so after that story and people are still talking about it and still pissed off about how Alex died - I'd say that Ron Marz accomplished his goal with the story.

Yes, Alex DeWitt's death was tragic. It was stupid and pointless. But it would have been stupid and pointless regardless of whether Alex had was a man or a woman. So whatever else you may say about Ron Marz, I don't think you can call him a bad writer. He accomplished his goal with Alex DeWitt and created a character who we were genuinely sorry to see die. And I find it hard to level charges of sexism against a man who concluded his thoughts on Alex DeWitt's death with these words.

"Comics have a long history as a male-oriented and male-dominated industry. That's not a statement of judgment, simply one of fact. I do think comics can and should be more sensitive to female characters. But these are times in which the general editorial mindset is "cut to the fight scene," in which half-naked women on covers spike sales. Publishers are unfortunately more concerned with survival than with sensitivity to women. And that's a shame. If we want to save our industry, maybe we should stop ignoring half the population as possible readers."

It's funny what prompted me to think about this was another remark about Alex. How "the only way Alex DeWitt is coming back is possibly as a Black Lantern in Geoff Johns’ Blackest Night event. Sadly, I don't think we're going to get even that which is a shame as I always liked Alex better than Donna Troy or Jade. And I can't believe this malarkey we're getting now about Jade being Kyle's One True Love.

Read Green Lantern/Green Lantern #1 from the Circle of Fire mini-series. That's all I'm saying.

Good night, Ms. DeWitt. Wherever you are.

Help out Aerie of Queen of Wands and Punch and Pie!

I know some of you are fans of her comics, so if you can afford to PayPal a few bucks her way, do so.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nearly Everything I've Read In Steptember... So Far.

Okay. So more budget problems kept me from getting my comics for a week. And then crummy weather kept me from getting them until the Sunday after I got paid. So here's what I don't feel like writing separate special reviews for.

BARACK THE BARBARIAN #2 - A bit of a let down after the first issue. Not that it's bad by any means... but the artist is not a good caricaturist and only the punny names help us identify some of the foul Pond Ditz er, I mean pundits who inhabit the labyrinth. Billo and Limbo as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum is inspired but the helpful pundit "Rake Hell" doesn't look a blessed thing like her inspiration. No "Mad Doe The Barbarian Princess"? For shame, Larry Hama!

DOCTOR WHO #3 - Apart from wondering just how the main big bad of the story survived his last appearance on the show, this is a very effective issue of the comic you could easily see being an episode of the TV series. The short version is that The Doctor is put on trial for interfering with the space-time continuum and playing God with the universe. The fact that the laws he's violated were set down by the now-dead Time Lords and the fact that he was acting for the greater good aren't worth a tinker's cuss, especially with the prosecutor for the trial being another would-be universe conqueror who the Doctor stopped once before. Throw in a few attempts to see The Doctor assassinated before, during and after his trial and you've got a heck of a story to lead us into next issue...

RED SONJA #48 - Nothing much happens for another issue, with people still refusing to talk about their mysterious, ill-defined plans as they continue to move northward towards their vaguely defined and rather pointless goal, since we now know the weapon everybody was searching for was Red Sonja herself. And it turns out the place the bad guy was searching for was the resting place of Sonja's mostly-dead patron goddess, who wants him to save her from Sonja, who she is convinced is coming to kill her off.

I'd quit now but then I'd always be left wondering just how the hell all this randomness will come together. At least the scene with Sonja fighting werewolves, brief though it is, is decent.

WARLORD #6 - Everything gets tired up in a neat little package, though I'm a little amazed at just how quickly archeologist turned fur bikini babe Alysha has become a competent warrior. Still, I can swing with it simply because this issue is almost all action and is entirely awesome. And the ending promises the return of an old enemy as the series continues...

Tomorrow: The latest on Blackest Night. Also Six Things To Love In Secret Six. And Wonder Woman (finally!)

The Birth of a Meme

In response to this and this, I have created this...

Comic Reviews Will Be Posted Tomorrow. I promise!