I bought Grant Morrison's Wonder Woman: Earth One in hopes of snarking about it online with bluefall, with whom I deludedly imagine I have some kind of fandom-based friendship.

Yeah. Well, it shows some research, but then so did Phil Jimenez's Wondy run, and we saw how that went. But I hadn't been real pleased with the first volume of Superman: Earth One, and my expectations were low. I was at first kind of pleased that someone had actually picked up on some of the Marston & Peter strangeness and pulled that out and interpreted as no one else has done.

Anyway, at some point I decided to read the second and third volumes of Superman: Earth One to compare. You know what? They're so much better. Oh, the villains are pretty stupid, but the supporting cast feel like people. There's some good work there.

By comparison Morrison's Earth One project is a muddled mess. Stilted dialogue and narration all out of order. It's visually somewhat slick, but I think it's a weaker piece.

That said, yes, jousting on kangaroos is in the source material, and fans who complained about that sounded hilarious to me.
philippos42: heather (red)
Only one comic book today. Starfire #7. And I just realized that some of the scenes are flashbacks, and that's why they don't make sense in sequence. I'm really stupid. I guess I should go back and re-read.
philippos42: Paul Rudd (pretty)
So, the latest Starfire. (That's #5.)

Kory, canonically, from like her first appearance, has the ability to learn a language by kissing (because Marv Wolfman was a perv wacky like that).

So in the latest issue, the writers remember that, and instead of just ignoring it in embarrassment, decide to use it. She kisses a porpoise dolphin and learns to speak dolphin. There is actually a cutaway to two observers:
Junior aquarium staffer: Oh my God! She's making out with Beth!
Senior aquarium staffer: Stop that this very minute! It's against the laws of nature!
So now Kory can talk to the dolphins, and she has a new job at the aquarium.

I started picking up Starfire because Atlee (aka Terra) was in it, and I'm glad I am. It has some pretty fun little moments. I hope they keep up the fun little touches like this, more than the big ongoing subplot with the superpowered multiple murderer (?) lurking in the background, which is supposed to be resolved in #7.
philippos42: (reach)
My response (could probably be better) to this piece: https://themiddlespaces.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/humanity-not-included/
Interesting and partially persuasive points. I think you're trying a little too hard to force a pattern here. But I agree that DC is a terribly conservative company in some ways, and their output reflects that.

I'm bothered by your attempt to condemn any echo of the Huck/Jim relationship. Surely the intended audience is the large proportion of the potential market who are white and not from great economic privilege? They are likely to identify with Huck (less so with Gar and Dick from the Teen Titans, who are wealthy). Huck's relationship with Jim humanizes Jim for them. That's not playing to a black perspective, no, but it's not a bad thing.

I'm not sure what you expect a "radicalized black person with superpowers" to do, in the Justice League. Maybe be some kind of "scary black" antagonist? Or perhaps be recast as the "social justice warrior" wet blanket on the team, as Geoff Johns used to write Wonder Woman?

Would I like a little more social awareness in the Justice League comics? Yes, of course I would. I would like to see them hire a new writer, who doesn't see "29-year-old white male mesomorph with a generic action-hero personality" as both default and necessary majority. But writing Cyborg better should be possible in this framework. A David Walker series may be a step in the right direction. I'm not optimistic, but I think I leave more room for subtle progress than you do.
philippos42: placards (placard)
Here's the link: http://www.themarysue.com/wonder-woman-36/

I personally favor a more human and less goddess-like Wonder Woman, but I agree that this issue had a bit too much JLA and DCU, and an odd sudden teddy bear! I also found Finch's Amazons a bit weirdly divergent from usual.
philippos42: (despair)
I probably should make notes of when I bought particular comics, if only for my own reference.

I went to the comic shop today to drop off an order from Diamond Previews.

I looked around the racks. Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #1 is out, but I am avoiding SIXIS, so nope. (Yes, I know it's meant to be AXIS.)

But I said to the propietor, "I may regret this, but I want to see what the new beginnings have done to my star-spangled characters." Here's why:

I got All-New Captain America #1, after thumbing through it and wondering who Nomad was. I wish I'd just read the introductory first page, which explains it--and it's not Jack Monroe, it's Ian Rogers, I think. And I would have noticed that Remender wrote this. I hate giving him money.

I got a LEGO-cover Wonder Woman #36--first issue of the Meredith Finch/David Finch run. And it'll most likely be the last of that run I get. It's not just that it's not how I would do it, it's wildly at variance with what I think it should be. The visibly decaying Amazon crone was a weird, tropey touch.

However, I did get Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #4, which continues the Gilbert Hernandez story from previously; pretty fun. It also has a vaguely Bronze-Age-Earth-1-like story with the Bronze-Age Hawks and Byth, drawn by Tom Lyle, which is OK. And a who-even-knows-what-continuity story with a vaguely Golden Age Wondy and Etta fighting Ra's al Ghul, helped by Deadman; drawn by Dean Haspiel; Etta is HUGE.

So, yeah, Sensation is staying on the pull list. The others, I think not.
philippos42: (green)
A couple of days ago I decided I'd been sitting around the house too much, and I walked downtown and bought a stack of comics:

Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #1: Wow, I was not real happy with this. I don't like Ethan van Sciver's art in general, and the lead story was illustrated by him. I wasn't really that impressed with either script, either. Lots of weird fight scenes, not a lot of coherent story story, to me. Of course, I may have been in a bad mood because I read it right after three issues of...

Captain Marvel #5-#7: Three issues of this, mostly OK, and I like Tic. But I may have to give up on it. The cat really was a Flerken? That means the raccoon was right? That really changes the whole interaction we saw earlier, and I don't like it. I may be slightly angry about it. I guess that is one way to subvert the Power Girl parallels (blonde flying brick with energy projection and a surly cat).

Ms. Marvel #7-#8: Not bad. I like Kamala in her glasses for reading online, and the way she embraces Lockjaw apparently without knowing who he is. I just wish that the stories were a little denser or more complete somehow.

I think I'm getting a lot more judgemental about print comics than about webcomics. Hmmm.
philippos42: zat's bunny (comedy)
OK, since I've been missing days, a short bonus writing meme post to make up for Saturday--which more or less would have been Saturday's post if I had remembered:

It occurs to me that some of the revamps of major comic book superheroes in recent years are not only, "Why haven't we done that yet?" but a bit of, "Of course they are!" That is, "Of course they are!" if you asked someone with only the barest familiarity with the property.

Wonder Woman is Superman's girlfriend? "Of course she is!" as you might be told by someone unfamiliar enough with the mythos to confuse Wonder Woman and Lois Lane.

Spider-Man is black now? (That is, in the "Ultimate" comics) Hasn't he always been?

Going back a little further, we could add more:

The Avengers work for the government, so they're basically a military outfit? Of course!

And Spider-Man has to be an Avenger, right? Of course he is!

So Spidey is a government employee? Uh....

And having a Robin who was literally Bruce Wayne's son may have been playing with that trope.
I first ran into Chuck Dixon's work when he was writing for Savage Sword of Conan. He was OK I guess.

Then he wrote the Alien Legion revival, and I bought a bunch of those. Old Alien Legion fans complained about him turning it into the Jugger Grimrod show. Maybe so. He wasn't quite the same as Alan Zelenetz. I think his last Alien Legion story was some weird mess with the characters stuck in a time distortion and coming out years later. I was annoyed by it somehow.

He moved on to DC and became the major Batman family writer, starting Nightwing and Robin ongoings. These were OK. I didn't really follow his Batman, but I liked Nightwing and Robin.

One problem with the "Dixonverse," as these titles came to be nicknamed, was that he perhaps overmuch liked the trope of having the one action hero take out a large number of foes implausibly. (His earlier Evangeline series is the same way.)

In the midst of this, he got to be the writer on a new series called Birds of Prey, a revamp of both Oracle and Black Canary. I got some of the specials before it went monthly. Some neat stuff, but his Dinah Lance seemed slightly off to me at first, because I had been a fan of Sarah Byam's Black Canary, which preceded it.

Meanwhile, there was some editor--Gorfinkel?--who shipped Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon, so that looming ship was hanging over his characters in multiple books. I wonder if he would have done something different with Dick and Clancy, or Barbara and Ted, if not for that editor. Hm. Still, a very "family"-oriented run.

And I remember now, back when Byam was doing that series, myself telling an acquaintance who was a big Jugger Grimrod fan that I liked both Alien Legion and Black Canary, and he didn't get why anyone would be a Black Canary fan. So we're full circle!
I like to present myself as someone who likes the more obscure characters, not someone who goes for the big obvious household names.

But let's be honest, I have been a fan of the big names too. I watched Happy Days when I was a kid, and I loved Fonzie; stuff like that.

When it comes to comics—for all that I might say Steve Gallacci, Alan Zelenetz, and Jaime Hernandez mean to my sense of the art; for all that I deplore the reliance on super-heroes over other premises by certain publishers; for all that I might tell people I'm a fan of Black Canary or Amanda Waller—I certainly had lots of opportunity to read Batman, Spider-Man, and Superman as a kid, and I have been a fan of those, too.

Superman wasn't my favorite. I liked Spider-Man more. Superman was one of DC's ridiculous mesomorphs with jet-black hair and oddly blue eyes, overblown, overpowered, and oversold. But Superman (and Superboy, of the young-Clark-Kent variety) got into my head in a dangerous way.

You see, I am rather seriously nearsighted. I got glasses in kindergarten. I got to accept them as part of my face. It was after I got glasses that I could see people's facial features well enough to differentiate adults by them and not mainly by hair color, clothes, and voice, or something. So I learned to see faces when I was internalizing glasses as part of my sense of my own face. But wait, why would I internalize them that way?

I loved cartoons, right? So here was this major cartoon hero, who didn't wear a mask, but put on glasses, and was taken as a different person! Could that actually work?

Well, it can throw a kid, right? People looked different to me if they curled their hair, or colored it, or wore glasses. Learning to recognize the face underneath was something that took a while. I think it's one of those skills we all have to work on as children. People I don't know really, really well still look different to me if they gain a lot of weight.

Anyway, in the Superman comics, apparently everyone was assumed to be a little bit faceblind. Because adding glasses, using a different voice, and combing one's hair differently was supposed to be enough to confuse things, and (though I think this had faded away in the Julie Schwartz era) there had even been a lot of coincidental doubles running around.

So I wondered. Maybe when I grew up, I could stop wearing glasses and change my name and get far, far away from my youth. I'd have a face no one quite recognized.

Yeah, right.

Anyway, Superman was too powerful, too much a hotshot, too ridiculous, but somehow nerdy little Philip wanted to be like Clark Kent—really something grander under the specs.

I'm old enough to remember Superman before the Crisis. Excuse me, Crisis on Infinite Earths, COIE, but the Crisis to that generation. He had two kind of, sort of, love interests in newspaper reporter Lois Lane and television reporter Lana Lang. I kind of shipped him with Lana, which may have been contrariness.

I used to muse about a superhero with a dual identity having one girlfriend under one name and another girlfriend under the other name. Lois could marry Clark and he'd cheat on her, as Superman, with Lana. Well, that's an awful idea, and as an adult I grant it wouldn't really work. And of course, Clark in the comics was too decent to do it, even if everyone in his world was face-blind. Good for him.

Anyway, I like Lois & Clark as a couple now. And Lana became totally different with the Byrne revamp.

I was not pleased at first with Byrne's revamp of Superman post-Crisis. A Clark Kent who had played high school football? That was just not right. But over time, I came to realize that some of Byrne's revamps actually made a lot of sense, even if some of his stories were dire. (He was writing two issues a month for a while, and threw some crazy stuff at the wall that is better treated as non-canon.)

A Clark Kent whose parents were still alive, whose invulnerability was a projected ability that could be turned off physiologically, who didn't need an invulnerable costume, yeah, that made sense for an update.

And of course, that Clark was permitted for several years to have his story progress and move forward. This Supes (after Byrne left) would grow his hair long, cut it again, marry Lois Lane, become editor at the Daily Planet for a while, and sort of evolve. That was nice.

I grew to like this guy, especially when he had the long hair. He was a little different from the generic image of Superman that had been around when I was a kid. He was still a goofy invulnerable muscleman, but he had good points.

But what really won my affection was...earlier. Back in the 1980's, probably even before the Byrne stuff got going, I'm not sure—I had opportunity to read the earliest Superman stories from Action Comics. Siegel and Shuster. Here I got to see the roots of the superhero genre: A science-fiction detective.

Oh, it's a bad way to write a detective story. A hero who can conveniently hear conversations through two brick walls, who is conveniently super-strong and bulletproof? It's cheating, is what it is! It's cheap! And it's a bit immature. Clark had his heart in the right place, but he was trying to bully the world into behaving better. Like kidnapping a munitions manufacturer and putting him into a warzone to scare him straight.

OK, I loved that bit. Supey started with a social conscience. He was out to fight corruption wherever he could find it.

And this is why I love Superman. Other heroes may have melodramatic origin stories that drive them to do good, or "fight evil," because of some tragic loss in their past. Frank Castle's family died. Bruce Wayne's parents were shot by a mugger in front of his eyes. Peter Parker learned the hard way that actions can have random consequences. But Superman's motivation? One panel: Pa Kent telling young Clark that he should use his powers to help mankind. Superman fights the good fight simply because he was properly brought up. And that is the best motivation in comics.

Again, I am contrary.

Sure, one can "fanalyze" (Is that a word? Is now!) that one panel, to find a lot of depth behind it. But that one panel is what Siegel and Shuster gave us. And it makes Superman pretty freaking cool.

What about recent years' Superman comics? Well, I haven't been following it all that closely, but I think there's been too much rewinding, and maybe too many big "high concept" wacky changes ("New Krypton"?) and not enough faith in gradual evolution.

I think DC really had already done enough stories with a single Clark, and they needed to accept that the premise had become a married Superman, with Lois and Clark as a team. Breaking them up leaves the same bad taste in my mouth as breaking up Pete and MJ in Spider-Man; the same fake-feeling rewind.

And I know that it's really a relaunch, but you might think that looking at Legion of Super-Heroes sales over the last two decades would have told them something. A launch of new characters is a good idea. A relaunch/revamp of old trademarks is trying to hard to have that new juice while maintaining nostalgia, and becomes its own kind of tired trope with overuse.

In fact, I think that there were good story hooks to come out of Clark and Lois having a kid (and apparently several DC writers thought so, and rushed to do Chris Kent stories before he was Phantom Zoned or whatever). Also, they had some neat characters in Steel, Starlight, and Superboy (Kon-El). They had even started to make the new version of Kara work before Nu52. DC misses a bet by rewinding to "young" heroes.

But it's not the first time they've heavily revamped. The Byrne revamp, as much as I hated it at the time, eventually led to a pretty smart version of Superman. It's a matter of what you're revamping into.

In the 1980's, there was some talk of really letting characters age. Now, there seems to be explicit repudiation of that, which limits writing choices a lot. Oh, well.

But yeah, I kind of like Supey, sometimes.

I really am a fan of the underdogs, though.
I for one am almost relieved that Maggie Sawyer and Kate Kane are not getting married. Not that it matters now, but I was never happy about putting them together in the first place. Maggie had a long-time significant other before appearing in Batwoman, right? I hated to see that broken up to play into the attitude that there are only a handful of lesbians in the world, and they all know each other, and all the recognizable tradmarks will somehow date another one of the recognizable trademarks, god forbid we invent a new character!

I know that in real life, it's not a shock that lesbian relationships (where there aren't kids) can end pretty quickly. But it still bugs me.
I have indeed looked at scans_daily a little bit lately, and I have thought of some things to say about Wondy and such, but I thought maybe I'd do a post on my own Dreamwidth that tried to answer a bunch of things together, and...yeah, maybe I won't. I can still post on s_d, I just haven't been bothering very much.

(But yes, the redhead with the ponytail in the latest Smallville is clearly "Artemis" though her role and personality is more "Orana"--and that's a probably obscure distinction, however clear in my own mind.)

Also, shame about the way Morrison left Batman. Belated reboot soon, then?
Inspired by discussion at http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/3922421.html

It's like DC can't see the reader's perspective, except for a tiny minority of people who despise the same past continuity they do, and in fact the idea of continuity itself.

They don't want to continue the character arcs, but they want to keep the trademarks. So somehow stuff like the new Titans run gets greenlit, where there's no credible thread from the old stuff, but casual readers might not know that. And the old diehard fans say, "Wow, this is a good jumping-off point, let's leave!"

They probably could have done a midstream distillation of each book, clearing off cruft as they went, but instead of letting that flow organically, they decided to completely derail most of their titles at once as a stunt.

And they'd alienated so many of their talented writers that they're hiring Scott Lobdell to write multiple books. (Grant Morrison's still around, yes. I don't know if he stays in order to feed an expensive drug habit, or because DC is more respectful of him at this point. Maybe both.)

DC may catastrophically self-destruct before they figure this out.
Let the books be themselves; Blue Beetle is not "even more Batman," Wonder Woman is not Deadface (though that's perhaps preferable to "even more Batman"), Mr Terrific is not "backstory for Superman or somebody."
Don't try to rewrite everything from the top.
It's OK to publish stuff you aren't the target audience for, in order to reach a broader audience.
And let writers write their own stories.
"I have been doing this for a long time, now. I have lived in the neighborhood of superhero comics for a long time. And frankly, if this is how they think it's ok to treat me when I walk down the street in a place that I thought belonged to me just as much as anyone else who lives here, then I'm not sure I want to live here anymore."

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/#ixzz1Z9P2yXKn

Give it up. There is no reason to support books that offend you. There is some reason to boycott DC, I think. Or just to buy books that aren't this kind of offensive. It's not like your characters are continuing, this is a great time to jump off the ride.

There's a lot of good work being done in sequential art, free to view on the web. Pay-to-view is a weak model, & will lose to free-to-view work supported by advertising & merchandise. Print is a little better, but many comic shops are part of the same toxic culture you describe.

If you want to save DC, write to someone at Time Warner or DC, explain why you're not buying their books, and DON'T BUY THEIR BOOKS. I'm not saying that in a libertarian, "You can change the channel," way. I mean give up on them, encourage others to do the same, and get out of it. Eventually Warner may figure it out.
philippos42: Miss Tyra funny face (funny face)
Here, the argument is advanced that DC's line-wide numbering reboot is the perfect "jumping-off" point. I disagree. The perfect jumping-off point was whenever we were told there'd be another 100-issue crossover.

What this is, more, is an attempt to renumber for a new format, thus bringing new readers in while keeping old ones. And an expansion of titles married to a new distribution system. In a way, an attempt to do Marvel's early-1990's "glut the market" approach right.

And yet I worry they're still screwing it up.
1) Instead of launching 52 titles at once & then coasting, they should be rolling out new stuff every few months in perpetuity, so there's always a new jumping on point.
2) If this is 52 superhero titles in the DC style, they may find there isn't enough market even if they escape the comic-shop ghetto. In general, they need to understand that not all customers want the same things, & the publishing line must be thematically diverse.
3) Are they even managing to advertise to new non-comic-shop customers effectively? I don't know. If I see ads outside the comix press, I'll give them props, but I ain't holding my breath.
4) If they even think about trying to do a 52-title crossover, they deserve to have it blow up in their faces and all get fired.

Oh, well, I'm calling it now. Superman, Wonder Woman, & Batman will still be around whatever comes, due to the corporate culture. Other stuff, like Mr. Terrific, will get lost in the crowd, and be gone in (let's see, 52 titles?) 12-18 months.
philippos42: "Dark Vengeance!" (cold)
Found on teh itnernet:

Beware of Doug:
What Superman was, right from square one, was an American. A vigilante American, not a main-street flagwaver (not yet), and without much patience for any Bill of Rights. More a kind of futuristic frontier lawman. The kind of guy you'd call on to clean up a bad neighborhood in Cleveland.

Exapno Mapcase:
Well, yes and no. The people that Siegel sent Superman after in the first few issues were not breaking any laws. The mine owner, the munitions maker, the head of a foreign government, they were all legally sanctioned, well respected, wealthy, powerful - and morally wrong. Superman was a vigilante, but not a frontier lawman. He was a moral crusader for social causes. This was wildly different even from the pulp superheroes that he was mostly modeled on and bore no resemblance to the western lawmen in the movies that Siegel loved.

Siegel got away with it because nobody was paying him any attention. As soon as the Powers That Were noticed they shut it down. Vigilantes were fine. The rest of the superhero comics were filled with vigilantes. But they didn't go after respectable capitalist businessmen, which was exactly what the people running DC comics saw themselves as. For them, labor was the troublesome, unreliable, crackbrained, lower-class hustlers that made up the writing and art staffs. They didn't want to stand for labor: they wanted to exploit it. Even though many of them came from the same sort of backgrounds, they were now on top of the pile and that changed everything.

So they changed Superman into a Boy Scout and gave Batman a Boy Wonder and made all the plots resonate with kids who had no social consciousness. It worked, spectacularly. And Lois mooned over Superman and blacks were invisible and religion was never mentioned and the law was paramount and Superman and Batman were not wanted by the police but were given medals by them. Real Americans.

And Jerry Siegel became a bitter paranoid recluse who considered jumping off the Empire State Building (a real incident that Chabon adapted for his book).

That's also American, unfortunately.

Well, that was depressing.
(xposted from tumblr)
I am bemused that this: (joverfield doesn't want quotas for sexually deviant characters blah blah) was triggered by this:

'Cos I saw that & I was like, "point."Read more... )



May 2017



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