Friday, July 30, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Arrow #2

BAD THING: This issue really has more to do with Brightest Day than it does with exploring the mysteries set up by the last issue.

GOOD THING: While the scenes involving what is going on in Star City and the forest are brief (being limited to the appearance of a man in the clothing of a knight wandering the forest and someone using black arrows seemingly killing Ollie in the same way that Prometheus was killed), they are well written. And the scenes with Hal and Ollie talking are picture perfect, presenting the two friends as equals in a way that hasn't truly been accomplished by any writer in a long time.

The Final Verdict: A solid issue, despite being less about Green Arrow and Star City and more about Brightest Day.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #56

GOOD THING: More Larfleeze, who we find out believes in Santa Claus. Perhaps more shocking, given how many stories have featured Santa Claus meeting the JLA, Hal doesn't.

BAD THING: The mystery of who is behind abducting all of the Emotion Avatars seems to have been revealed. I had expected this to be milked a little longer and am a little disappointed they didn't draw it out more.

The Final Verdict: The return of Hector Hammond + more Larfleeze = One great issue!

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern Corps #50

BAD THING: You usually expect an issue #50 to be the big conclusion of a story or the start of something big. Despite the fanfare on the cover, this issue is the middle of an on-going story and a poor place to try and start reading this book.

GOOD THING: Ignoring that, this is a good solid issue with a lot of solid characterization and good action scenes.

In face, the only real problem with this issue is that - as John Stewart points out - there's no reason for Cyborg Superman to be spilling his guts to John given that he's in the process of turning him into a mindless robotic slave. So the exposition rings hollow even if this IS a good explanation for how Cyborg Superman survived the end of The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night.

The Final Verdict: It's not your typical #50 issue. It's the middle of a storyline, rather than the end of one and not a good place to start reading this book. Still, good art and great character moments made this a solid issue if a poor place for newbies to jump in.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Warlord #16

GOOD THING: What can I say except that this book has more wonderful Mike Grell artwork and a lot of poster-worthy pages?

BAD THING: This is the final issue of the series and it is plainly obvious that they rushed to get everything that Grell had planned into the issues left following the series' cancellation.

Even Grell - who is famous for packing as much action into every page as he can - seems to be pushing the limit for just how much can be accomplished in a single issue here. While this does help to keep things moving, it does leave us with anti-climactic moments such as the alien fleet threatening the Earth AND The Final Battle (and we really mean it this time) with the evil wizard Deimos both being resolved over the span of four pages.

Still, we do get an ending of sorts with Skartaris seemingly sealed off for all time from the outside world, the story of Travis Morgan being sent to the outside world as a memorial of the now lost land and the man who laid the groundwork for some kind of civilization being built there.

The Final Verdict: It feels like a rushed conclusion, because that's what it is. Still, the artwork is vintage Grell and it is nice to see the Warlord saga get a definite ending, however haphazard.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Batman: The Widening Gyre #6

GOOD THING: I like Smith's take on Batman, which is very Bronze Age retro and not simply because of the inclusion of Silver St. Cloud in this storyline. Here is the Batman of Denny O'Neil, Steve Englehart and Len Wein - a Batman who can strike terror into the hearts of criminals but still crack wise in the heat of the moment. A Batman who tries to balance both his life as Bruce Wayne and his life as Batman. A man who recognizes the good that he does but does long - at least a little bit - for a normal life, even as he fears that he is completely unable to live normally. In short, Smith's Batman is all too human.

BAD THING: Smith has done his job too well. He has made Silver St. Cloud out to be such a likable heroine and her effect upon Bruce so positive that we want her to win. We want her to get Bruce out of the cave. We want her - and him - to be happy.

Of course we all know that can never happen. There must always be a Batman and he must always be a lone Dark Knight. But that still doesn't take away the sting when this happens on the final page.

When I first read this book yesterday, I was horribly depressed by this scene. I suppose it is too much to hope that - even today - we could have a storyline in which superheroes are allowed to enjoy themselves, if only for a little while before the blood of The Dark Age tarnishes the Bronze.

Now, having read the commentary of many another critic, I find myself depressed for another reason. I feared that Silver's apparent Fridging was the last act of a desperate writer or editor hoping to shock the readers into paying attention. But so far nobody, apart from myself, seems to have even noticed - or indeed - cared about Silver St. Cloud dying!

I've heard one voice raised in anger raised about the suggestion that Alfred might be gay.

I've seen a few angry comments about Kevin Smith paying homage to/"ripping off" Alan Moore, with the above flower scene and the nod at Swamp Thing.

I've even seen one whole column complaining about how Kevin Smith has besmirched the reputation and proud legacy of Frank Miller by writing a Batman story with sexual innuendo and crude humor, by revealing that Batman wet his pants after a pivotal scene in Batman: Year One after a too-hot flash bomb went off too close to "The Bat Pole".

And nobody - NOBODY - has complained about a smart, funny female character being killed off (or fatally wounded) for no readily apparent reason other than to milk the drama and drag Bruce Wayne back into the dark. The one person who even mentioned it didn't seem to think that was nearly as bad as Frank Miller's legacy being tarnished.

That, to me, is a very, very bad thing indeed. Not because of what it says about this story or Kevin Smith as a writer but because of what it says about us as readers.

The Final Verdict: Might be the most controversial book this year. It has me annoyed and pissed off but not for any of the reasons any other critic is likely to be voicing right now. Suffice it to say, if you're not a fan of Bronze Age Batman or Kevin Smith's movies, you'll want to stay away. The rest of you should be ready for a hammer of a story that will move your heart, if only by punching you in the gut.


Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Chris Sims wrote an entire article complaining about how Kevin Smith has besmirched the proud legacy of Frank Miller...

... by writing a Batman story filled with sexual references and crude humor?

Just a thought.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #6

BAD THING: More adventures of Ronnie Raymond: Drunken Jackass Frat Boy Who Needs To Die Again NOW.

GOOD THING: Thankfully, as unpleasant as their story is, at least the Firestorm subplot seems to be going somewhere with this issues revelation. Actually, all of the story-lines seem to be developing interesting wrinkles this time, with Mera explaining the true nature of her home dimension, a third entity having infiltrated the Firestorm Matrix and J'onn J'onzz now killing plant-life with his presence. Oh, and it looks like the White Lantern isn't meant to be used for raising the dead... though nobody seems to know what it IS meant to be used for.

The Final Verdict: All the stalled story lines seem to be picking up speed now. As before, the Aquaman/Mera and Martian Manhunter subplots are the most interesting and best developed. At least the Firestorm stuff was a little less annoying this time around.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who #13

BAD THING: The covers of this book still stink on ice. At least this one looks completed, but why is there a giant Doctor coming through the Stargate?

GOOD THING: Thankfully, this book continues to be a shining example of why you shouldn't judge a book by its' cover. The plotting is top notch with Tony Lee bringing back not only The Advocate but two Edwardian-era Torchwood members previously seen in a different Doctor Who comic.

The Final Verdict: A must-read for any fan of The Tenth Doctor. Though we already know how this story ends, it will be interesting to see how it all comes together for his latest batch of companions, who we know must disappear before the end of the series... somehow.

Hateful Religious Crackpots Outnumbered and Outgunned By Geek Love

SOURCE: Super Heroes vs. the Westboro Baptist Church

There's quite a few photos at the above link, though I see precious few superheroes. I do see Bender & Fry from Futurama as well as The Buddy Christ himself.

Actually, the only superhero I saw was Gail Simone.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Doctor Who Annual 2010

BAD THING: Most of these stories suffer from baring superficial resemblances to elements form the recent 5th Series of the Doctor Who TV Show. While it is highly unlikely - given the production cycle of the average comic book - that these are intentional rip-offs, it does still leave the reader saying "Oh, well, this story about the man who is really a robotic doomsday device is just like Victory of the Daleks. And this man who claims to be a companion of The Doctor who he hasn't met yet is just like River Song!"

GOOD THING: For all the elements that seem derivative of other Doctor Who stories, none of the stories here are really that bad. Indeed, the best of the lot - Ground Control - is a truly original tale involving The Doctor having to deal with being stopped by a space cop for the galactical equivalent of a broken tail light and then having things progressively get worse as questions start being asked about "what is in the trunk?" Metaphorically speaking.

The Final Verdict: A solid collection of Doctor Who stories ruined only by bad timing that makes certain elements seem derivative of Series 5 stories the writers couldn't have possibly seen... unless they somehow have access to a TARDIS.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Booster Gold #34

BAD THING: Artists Chris Batista and Keith Giffen are no Kevin Maguire. It's not that the artwork is bad, really - it's just that the faces look odd and the details of the faces of the characters rushed. This wouldn't be so bad if it didn't seem like they were trying to imitate Maguire's style at certain points in the comic... and failing miserably.

GOOD THING: That being said, the writing is still top-notch all around. And I welcome any storyline that gives us more Big Barda.

The Final Verdict: Still the Best Book You Probably Aren't Reading.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Conan The Cimmerian #22

GOOD THING: Truman has been building to this adaptation of Howard's own Iron Shadows In The Moon for a while now. As before, he does not disappoint, keeping Howard's text intact while adding precious few flourishes to better fit the story into the graphic novel artform.

BAD THING: The coloring is very odd at times, with only the heavy inks saving the details from being totally blended into the background.

The Final Verdict: A classic Robert E. Howard story, masterfully adapted for comics. This is a good point to jump on if, for some reason other than not liking sword-and-sorcery, you aren't reading this book.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Queen Sonja #8

GOOD THING: There's some pretty complex character work here, as Sonja faces multiple conflicts. Ultimately, they all boil down to Duty versus Want. Sonja has a duty to her people to destroy the magic-cursed bloodline that threatens her land and her reign. At the same time, she has the duty implied by her oath to offer herself sexually to any man who can beat her in combat and the duty of continuing her line. This is all contrasted against her want to save the rebel leader Ariok from his curse and her honest attraction to the noble warrior mage.

BAD THING: Ariok - who was shaping up to be an interesting and unique character - seems now to be little more than Michael Moorcock's Elric trapped in the body of Conan.

The Final Verdict: A complex character study of Sonja, let down only by the realization that the potential love interest is but a pastiche of other, more complex sword-and-sorcery heroes. Still worth a read, though.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Birds of Prey #3

BAD THING: The mystery behind the "White Canary" is driving me crazy. Every logical suspect I can think of has just as logical reasons for not being possible. I'm afraid this is going to turn out to be something/someone totally out of left field and only my faith in Gail Simone as a storyteller keeps me from being worried.

GOOD THING: Speaking of Gail Simone being evil, the opening sequence of the book is just pure wrongness on a level that hasn't been seen since... well, Wonder Woman asking Power Girl to tie her up in Gail's Wonder Woman now that I think about it.

It's obviously a dream sequence but that doesn't stop the pain for Black Canary and Huntress fans who had grown used to their characters being treated like this outside of Birds of Prey. And that pain is the seed of a great bit of comedy. And let us give props to Ed Benes, who did a shout-out to the atrocious artwork of Green Arrow/Black Canary and Dinah's magically unzipping costume.

The Final Verdict: As maddening as the mystery behind this issue is, I can't help but recommend it for the wicked humor alone. The Birds Are Back And There Is Much Rejoicing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Who Is White Canary?

Full Review of Birds of Prey #3 to follow.

For tonight, knowing full well that Gail Simone reads this blog and will be laughing wickedly at me for attempting to play Batman, let us consider the mystery that has been given to us in the last three issues: Who Is White Canary?


* Identified as "Asian, maybe. That hair." by Dinah.
* Certainly looks Asian in the artwork.
* Stands like royalty.
* Dinah immediately thinks it's either Cassandra Cain or Lady Shiva.
* Dinah identifies the fighter as "better than Shiva" after one punch
* White Canary is skilled enough to hold off both Black Canary and Huntress at the same time.
* White Canary identifies Dinah by her deceased master's pet name for her "Siu Jerk Jai"
* White Canary's costume conceals most of her upper body, leaving her legs bare.
* White Canary proves agile enough to catch Huntress' crossbow bolts and then use them hand-held weapons.


* White Canary uses some sort of weapon that has a pointed handle, a string that is like a sectioned-off whip, with an arrowhead at the end of the whip.
* White Canary also has one thin braid at the back of her head which features an arrow head at the very end.
* Dinah feels that there's something familiar about the way White Canary hits her.
* Dinah dismisses Shiva as a suspect, saying that you never feel emotion in it when Shiva hits you.
* White Canary, based on the way she hits her, HATES Dinah.
* White Canary, at first, is good enough to fight Huntress and Black Canary at the same time to a stand still.
* White Canary is able to wound Hawk, who we are told has "skin like concrete".
* Hawk pulls out a lock of her hair, confirming that the Black Hair we see is real.


* White Canary attacks with thrown arrowheads.
* She is able to hit Hawk with something that forces him to change out of his superhero form - possibly a poison.
* Black Canary's comment about threatening families seems to strike a nerve.
* This leads Dinah to once again dismiss Lady Shiva and Cassandra Cain as suspects.
* Again, Dinah notes the hatred in each attack and how fighting Dinah is personal to White Canary, for some reason.
* Dinah identifies White Canary - to herself, not the reader - following a combo attack involving White Canary jump-kicking her and then scratching her face with an arrowhead.
* White Canary identifies herself as "a poor village girl" and then asks Dinah "Where do you suppose I got the money for this operation?"
* White Canary also seemingly confirms some connection to The Penguin.

And now... the suspects!

1. Lady Shiva
PRO: Asian. Born in poor village. Definitely has the skills to do this. Assassin who would work for Penguin for the right price. Possible motive for revenge against Birds in general and Dinah in specific for making her question her life and choices. Gail Simone likes writing her. Knows Dinah's old nickname.
CON: Doesn't deal with poisons, preferring direct combat. White Canary's attacks "too hateful". Dinah dismisses her as a suspect twice. No real clear motive.

2. Cheshire
PRO: Asian. Poor village girl. Assassin for hire. Definitely has family issues. Definitely hates Dinah. Master of poisons who MIGHT have something that could take down even Hawk. Gail Simone likes writing her.
CON: Not a good enough fighter to hold off Black Canary for long. Would rather attack from a distance than up close. Also, already busy in new Titans book.

3. Shado
PRO: Asian. Assassin for hire. Definitely has family issues. White Canary costume would cover her distinctive tattoos.
CON: Archer, not an martial artist. Was not a poor village girl. No clear motive unless she's still harboring feelings for Ollie and resenting Dinah for dumping him - makes little sense unless she wishes to prove herself the better woman and she's never had that kind of ego.

4. Robert, Son of Shado
PRO: Asian. Brainwashed into becoming Assassin for hire. Definitely has family issues. Might nurse grudge against Dinah for coming between his mother and his father - never mind that Ollie didn't know about him until several years after the fact and Shado was not vocally bitter.
CON: Unless the "operation" White Canary couldn't afford was a sex change, this makes little sense.

5. Cassandra Cain
PRO: Asian. Was briefly an assassin for hire. Definitely has family issues. Definitely has the skills to do this.
CON: Was not a poor village girl. Dinah dismissed her as a suspect. REALLY doubt Gail Simone would have her become a villain YET AGAIN. No reasonable motive or explanation for her being able to take down Hawk.

6. Sin
PRO: Asian. Was a poor village girl. Was being trained to be an assassin for hire. Definitely has family issues. Probably has the skills to do this. Might hold grudge against Dinah for "abandoning" her. Knows Dinah's old nickname.
CON: Reference to operation would almost certainly have to be some kind of surgery to enhance her age and that seems very unlikely. Seriously doubt Gail Simone would bring her back just to make her a villain.

Leave your own theories in the replies!

Our First View of the Green Lantern Movie

SOURCE:The Green Lantern Pictures Just Keep On Coming

Not only do we have pictures of Hal Jordan in costume, we have pictures of him out of costume, with Carol Ferris, before and after pictures of Hector Hammond (with Amanda Waller in the background) and a background shot of Hector Hammond's lab where he is examining Abin Sur's body.

All in all, I like what I see here.

Sure, the "ribbed for her pleasure" (expect to see that joke repeated everywhere) bodysuit wasn't what I was expecting. But so long as there's no rubber defined nipples, I see no reason to panic.

So please, my fellow Green Lantern fans, maintain your calm and use that willpower you wish to emulate to avoid giving into fear.

Yes, the costume is different from any costume we've seen in the comics. But given how frequently the Green Lantern costume has changed and evolved over the years, that's hardly surprising. To be quite frank, I'm amazed we got a bodysuit with a mask and a glowing, recognizable GL Logo. If that doesn't comfort you, consider that Hal is wearing a brown leather bomber jacket as part of his street clothes... just like in the comics. Trust me - that's a MUCH better sign that the people running things are staying true to the spirit of the character than that they've tweaked the design on the superhero uniform a bit.

For goodness sake, I've seen far too many rants and seen far too many people I count as friends swearing that this movie is going to be a complete disaster just because of a few photos! And some of the reasons are just plain silly. So what if the ring design seems to be based on Kyle's ring rather than the classic Silver Age one? You know why that is? Because the logo shows up better on that style ring. Branding, kids. It's all about the branding.

And to answer perhaps the most insane complaint I've seen yet... yes, the costume in skin-tight and doesn't leave a lot to the imagination. Big deal. To the one fan who I've read complaining about how this is all some desperate attempt to appeal to the Ryan Reynolds fangirls and bring them in to watch the movie, I have this to say.

Suck it up.

Seriously?! Are you're afraid that that the womenfolk might come and menstruate all over the theater while you're trying to get your geek on? Or that gay men might be getting their hearts aflutter over a nice ass? Well, get over yourself. The geek girls and gay geek guys deserve their R&R beefcake!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 11: The Lodger



Stranded in modern times after a sudden jolt knocks him out of the TARDIS and sends Amy spiraling out of control through the Time Vortex, The Doctor is forced to find a place to stay and blend in while trying to get Amy and the TARDIS back. This leads The Doctor to the building of one Craig Owens and the room he is renting.

Craig is a rather ordinary man - Bit overweight. Bit of a geek. Dull job working in a call-center. Hopelessly crushing on his friend Sophie. The sort of bloke whose typical evening plans consist of "pizza, booze, telly" and whose weekends are filled with football with his mates before a night out at the pub.

Being a reasonable sort, Craig has no problem with trying to reach out to his new flatmate and trying to help him get to know people. 3000 pounds in hard cash, up-front for the rent and the ability to cook omelets like a gourmet French chef will buy a lot of good will. At least up until the point that The Doctor proves to be a natural footballer despite not being sure if you need sticks to play it or not, starts encouraging Sophie to follow her dreams of working on a wildlife preserve and move away and, in what proves to be the final straw, fills in for Craig at his job and proves to be beloved by all even after insulting Craig's biggest client.

But The Doctor will not be moved when Craig demands that he move out. Because The Doctor is not the strangest lodger in Craig's house. There is something upstairs powerful enough to stop the TARDIS from landing properly and it will take some low-tech jiggery-pokery and yes - Craig's help - in order for The Doctor to sort things out.

Thankfully, things end happily with The Doctor recovering the TARDIS and Amy, setting up the stable time loop that enabled him to save her (she wrote him a note telling him he needed to go to Craig's house in the future) and Craig - having finally opened up to Sophie about his feelings - allowing The Doctor to keep his apartment keys, saying he'll always have a place to stay if he needs it.

Of course everybody is in such good spirits that they fail to notice the glowing crack behind the fridge in Craig's kitchen...


* More than any episode so far this year (and, possibly, in the entire new series), this one truly explores the nature of The Doctor as the eternal outsider and does it well.

* This episode also sets up and explores the differences between the Eleventh Doctor compared to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Whereas Nine and Ten seemed to recoil in horror from the idea of living a mundane or domestic existence (remember how pained he looked when Rose broached the subject of settling down and getting a job when it looked like the TARDIS was lost forever?), Smith's Doctor seems to revel in the novelty of the mundane and things like having an ordinary job or just hanging out...even as he proves to be truly horrible at managing it.

* Craig is a wonderful character and you can really feel with his plight in trying to deal with his strange new roommate and the weirdness around him as his routine is shattered.


* Really, I only have one problem with this episode but it is a big one. Namely. there are some aspects of The Doctor's lack of knowledge regarding what ordinary people do that seem a little far-fetched.

* To my mind, it would make more sense for The Doctor to be overly-knowledgeable to the point of confusion rather than ignorant, as he is here for the most part. The Doctor fixing up a gourmet meal as a light snack is believable. The Doctor not remembering what the standard month's rent is in the year 2010 and overpaying is believable. The Doctor not knowing what Football is and being unable to understand basic metaphors (i.e. annihilate the other team) isn't.

* On that note, granting that it is generally accepted that sometimes The Doctor's memories can fade somewhat following a regeneration and that skills and knowledge don't necessarily carry over between incarnations, it seems a little hard to believe that Eleven would be totally unfamiliar with how Earth screwdrivers don't have on-switches. After all, this is the same man (well, nearly) who criticized Romana's lack of historical sense when she complained that none of the artwork in the 1979 Louvre had been made on a computer.

* We get that Eleven is not nearly as much as a people person as Ten but it's a little hard to believe that The Doctor need instructions on how to hang out at a pub considering he spent a goodly while hanging out at a pub with Vincent Van Gogh not one episode ago!


It's hardly intentional but The Doctor cock-blocking Craig as he's trying to make his move on Sophie is heartbreaking. You can see him wanting to say "I Love You." You can see her wanting to hear him say "I Love You." Everybody can see what is happening and what SHOULD be happening... except for The Doctor, who is more than happy to socialize at the worst possible time.

The Final Verdict: Despite several large leaps in logic regarding what The Doctor shouldn't reasonably be able to know about modern British culture, this is a rather enjoyable episode that explores The Doctor's alien nature even as the personality of his 11th Incarnation. It is enjoyable enough but it really should have come earlier in the season where it really could have helped introduce the new Doctor to the masses.

So here's a little something I've been working on the last few days...

What do you all think?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Brightest Day #5

BAD THING: As much as I appreciate the sentiment, the opening scene in which Aquaman and Mera go into action to fight an oil spill... too much, too soon DC.

GOOD THING: There isn't a page of this comic that feels like filler, with three plots each getting a fair amount of development this time. In addition to the revelation regarding Mera's past and what that means to Aquaman, we also get to explore an apparently familiar realm with Hawkman and Hawkwoman and discover a little more behind the purpose of The White Ring that Boston "Deadman" Brand was given.

The Final Verdict: Apart from an opening page that aims for relevance but comes off as just a little bit tacky in light of recent events, I think this may have been the best issue of Brightest Day so far. The action on all the features storylines moves well and nothing here feels like padding.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Secret Six #23

GOOD THING: One of the few things I haven't liked on this book was Gail Simone's take on Bane. Even considering how much the character has changed in recent years, the protective paternal figure really didn't click with me until recently. Ostrander's take on Bane, however, is perfect.

BAD THING: This story feels really rushed and there's little sense of danger. Realistically, I know that the Six shouldn't be the least bit threatened by a group of billionaire hunters in super suits. That still doesn't stop me from feeling that the fights in this issue still seemed to end far too quickly.

The Final Verdict: Despite being yet another reworking of The Most Dangerous Game, Ostrander does his best to breathe life into a tired premise. For the most part, he is successful, delivering a lot of wonderful character moments throughout. The only real flaw is that the action moves so quickly that it is over before we have a chance to appreciate it, with most of the fight scenes being over in one page.

Not a bad issue, by any means - this is good stuff. It falls just short of greatness, however.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In honor of American Independence Day...

Let us celebrate The Right of Free Speech. Specifically, The Right To Speak Your Mind And Say Any Damn Thing You Want To, No Matter How Uniformed Your Opinion.

SOURCE: Wonder Woman Reboot: Strident Feminism Is the Problem, Not the Costume

I don't have time to pick this whole thing apart today and I imagine that quite a few of the ladies on When Fangirls Attack are going to let this schmuck have both barrels over the sexism. So I'm going to limit myself to discussing one choice sentence and how you can tell this guy knows jack and squat about comics.

The problem with Wonder Woman isn’t her look. It’s her personality. She has never been a warm, appealing character. She comes from an island populated only by immortal Amazons who hate men. And men aren’t allowed to set foot on the island. This island of super-women send her to “the man’s world” where she brings the baggage of this sexist worldview.

See, here is problem #1. Most comics readers are male. So you start off telling them their gender sucks. Great sales pitch.

Anybody who knows a damn thing about comics history can tell you that at the time Wonder Woman was created, comic readership was fairly universal among boys AND girls. True, the superhero genre was dominated by male characters but there WERE female superheroes. Heck, Wonder Woman wasn't even the first one to have her own book (that would be Sheena, The Jungle Queen, as draw by Will Eisner!) Wonder Woman was created partly in an attempt to snag all the female readers who were still reading comics - they just weren't reading THOSE comics.

And get this - immediately after World War II leading into the early 1950s before the creation of the Comics Code Authority, Romance Comics were a bigger business than superheroes. In fact Jack Kirby and Joe Simon - yes THAT Jack Kirby and THAT Joe Simon - wound up going into making Romances because Captain America was no longer profitable. So odds are that for a time, there may have been a greater percentage of girls and young women reading comics than boys and young men.

Incidentally, this link was provided to me by Gail Simone, who noted this was the worst thing yet she'd seen about the Wonder Woman costume controversy. Presumably because she hadn't heard the Fox News report which confirmed that not only is the new costume a misguided effort to appeal to women in a male-dominated marketplace - it's an effort to make Wonder Woman a more popular figure globally!

SOURCE: New Wonder Woman Loses Patriotic Costume in Favor of 'Globalized' Duds

Am I the only one who thinks it is ironic that they're complaining about the costume being less patriotic when Wonder Woman's new background makes her more of an American girl than ever before?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 10: Vincent and the Doctor



Taking Amy to an art museum - apparently determined to do as many things as she wants following Rory's death - The Doctor notices something odd a painting by Vincent van Gogh. Some sort of face in a church window that The Doctor can't identify but knows - somehow - isn't right.

One trip back in time later, and The Doctor and Amy are quickly hob-nobbing with Vincent. Reluctant at first to accept their friendship (Vincent's brother has sent a LOT of Doctors to try and help him, he says), he is quickly won over by Amy's charms and praise of his paintings. The three are forced to flee to Vincent's house after a dead body is discovered and Vincent - considered a madman, bum and terrible artist by the villagers - is blamed.

The Doctor quickly discovers that the culprit is some manner of alien beast, invisible to his senses but somehow visible to the unusual perspective of Vincent van Gogh. He is able to identify the monster using some equipment from the TARDIS and a trap is quickly set for the monster. Naturally, The Doctor and Amy wind up in danger and it is Vincent who saves them using the sharpened points of his easel legs as a weapon to stake the beast's heart.

Grateful for the save, and for his attempts to show them the night sky as he sees it, The Doctor and Amy take Vincent for a ride in the TARDIS and take him to the present, where his paintings are now in museums and he is considered the greatest artist ever by a respected curator. They return Vincent to his home time and go back to the present again, with Amy running into the museum to see what other new paintings Vincent must have made. She is disappointed to find that there are no new paintings and that her inspiration did not prevent Vincent from committing suicide... although one of his paintings now features a dedication to Amy.


* I like that they don't explain exactly how Vincent is able to see the monster. All too often Doctor Who does try to assign spectacular abilities to historical figures through some unconvincing technobabble (i.e. William Shakespeare in The Shakespeare Code) and it's nice to see them decide that no explanation is necessary for once, since true genius cannot be defined.

* I also like the twist that it is Vincent who winds up saving The Doctor - not the other way around. Okay, it's hardly the first time a historical figure has been the one to save the day (think Charles Dickens in The Unquiet Dead) but it's still rare enough to be enjoyable.

* I'm not ashamed to admit I cried during the scenes where Vincent tries to show The Doctor and Amy how he sees the world or the magical moment when The Doctor takes Vincent to a modern day museum and shows Vincent that not only is his work remembered but that he is widely regarded as one of the greatest painters ever.


* Amy doesn't really get to do much but look cute and inspire Vincent, which does little to refute the accusations of her being a Mary Sue.

* Just how DOES a race of bestial giant space chickens with inoperable wings travel through space? Anyone?


It's a subtle point, but I'd say that it's The Doctor apparently throwing himself into the role of amusing Amy without having even tried to tell her that her fiancee and the love of her life has been erased from reality. Admittedly, I'm not sure how he could even begin to go about convincing her of this... but keeping it a secret can't possibly be healthy - especially given the obvious signs that SOMETHING inside her realizes that something is wrong.

The Final Verdict: A solid episode that gets to the heart of what Doctor Who should be about; history, the human condition and hope.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Green Lantern #55

BAD THING: I could really do without seeing The Specter again this soon. Or ever again, for that matter.

GOOD THING: The rest of the issue after that one scene is one gigantic knuckle-down battle between Lobo and The Lanterns. And to a lesser and yet somehow greater degree, Lobo's dog and Red Lantern Dex-Starr.

Incidentally, you can read the amazing origins of Dex-Starr: Cat of Earth here.

The Final Verdict: A great issue of a great book, plain and simple.

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Wonder Woman #600

GOOD THING: Oh, there is so much good here it is hard to narrow it down to just one... so I'm going to cheat and do two each. :)

The opening story by Gail Simone with George Perez artwork is just the sort of meeting-of-the-giants that makes a special issue like this truly special. And hey - we get to see Misfit again! I can't help but wonder where the rest of the Birds of Prey are, though.

The Amanda Conner story is a nice little coda to her Power Girl series, with Diana utilizing one of her less-often used powers to help Karen out with one of her supporting cast.

BAD THING: The preview of the upcoming series does not inspire confidence AT ALL. But probably the worst part is the unintentional irony of the essay at the end in which J. Michael Straczynski talks about how he is redefining Wonder Woman for the 21st century in order to stop her from being defined by what men expect Wonder Woman to be.

Also, is it just me, or does the drawing of Diana in the new costume on this page looks WAY too much like Megan Fox?! Yeech.

The Final Verdict: A fitting capstone for the pyramid of the Wonder Woman legacy. Would that the preview of the future was as inspiring as the tributes of what came before.