The DC Comics October Solicitations are out, and much like last month I’m pretty non-plussed by the whole affair:
COUNTDOWN PRESENTS: LORD HAVOK AND THE EXTREMISTS #1
With Countdown, Countdown to Adventure, Countdown to Mystery, Countdown Presents the Search For Ray Palmer, not only is DC completely oversaturating its market but it’s doing so to absurdly unrealistic and unsustainable proportions. Lord Havok and the Extremists are old Giffen-era Justice League villains who came from an alternate dimension where the heroes obliterated the livability of their planet and a Walt Disney analog rebuilt society with anamatronic robots, including the supervillains, which in turn posed a problem for the League. I have no idea what’s going on here and don’t really care.
CAPTAIN CARROT AND THE FINAL ARK #1
Gosh! I was so excited to hear about the return of my beloved childhood characters Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo-Crew, but then the solicitation states it’s “a 3-issue COUNTDOWN tie-in miniseries!” Aw fuck!
BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #1
WRITTEN by Tony Bedard
Because lord knows Tony Bedard has nothing else to write (Birds of Prey, Supergirl, Countdown, Legion of Super-Heroes). How can one man be expected to write 5 titles a month of any quality for any lasting duration. It’s insane, and doesn’t he understand that he’ll be diluting his own popularity? Feh. Nuts to them all.
DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #1-2
QUOTE: “The title says it all!”
It sure does
For months now readers have witnessed the unimaginable and unthinkable as New Gods across the DCU have seemingly died, with Lightray’s death in COUNTDOWN the biggest of them all.
Oh, you mean that one where Lightray dies at the end of the issue with no explanation as to what actually happened and then next issue there’s no real further mention of it? Right… big whoop.
Now, the carnage continues but the mystery and adventure is just beginning!
CARNAGE! MYSTERY! ADVENTURE! BUY IT SUCKERS! BUY BUY BUY
Jim Starlin — master of the cosmic odyssey —
writes and illustrates this epic tale of death and destruction on a scale never seen before.
That’s what is known in the biz as “hyperbole” (see also: bullshit)
With a cast of hundreds and cameos by the entire DCU, this intergalactic 8-part series cannot be missed!
Word has it that there are photos of Dan DiDio, Paul Dini and Jim Starlin dancing on Jack Kirby’s grave that will be part of a special back-up feature.
CRIME BIBLE: THE FIVE LESSONS OF BLOOD #1
Perhaps the most inane part of 52 gets its own mini-series. Hooray!
METAMORPHO YEAR ONE #1-2
WRITTEN by Dan Jurgens, Art by Jurgens & Jesse Delperdang
BLUE BLAZES! This one’s going to be a snooze-fest. Don’t fail to not miss it.
GOTHAM UNDERGROUND #1
QUOTE: This 8-part epic explores the underbelly of the DC Universe…
Oh, nice… like that’s NEVER been done before
…and ties in to COUNTDOWN!
Of fucking course it does.
DC INFINITE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL #1
That title makes no sense at all. Why note “DC Halloween Special”? Why does it have to be “Infinite”?
TALES OF THE SINESTRO CORPS PRESENTS: THE ANTI-MONITOR #1
TALES OF THE SINESTRO CORPS PRESENTS: CYBORG SUPERMAN #1
Surprisingly neither of these cross-over tie-ins actually tie into Countdown, but there’s a desperate need for acceptance going on over at DC that’s really rankling me right now.
BLUE BEETLE #20
Oh yay, one of my favourite titles isn’t a Countdown cross-over. Phew
QUOTE: A “Sinestro Corps War” tie-in!
Aw fuck. Is January here yet?
It takes an Adam Hughes Zatanna cover to make Graig smile at the solicits this month.
ACTION COMICS #858
QUOTE: Spinning from “The Lightning Saga,” the original Legion of Super-Heroes returns! When he was a boy, Clark Kent was isolated and alone until he met this teen team from the 31st Century. Today, it’s been years since Superman saw his childhood friends. Why haven’t they returned to visit him? What’s become of the symbol of Superman in the future? And just why is the future so dangerous for Superman?
And why do I care? Not sarcasm, I actually do care, but I’m really troubled that I don’t know why….
AQUAMAN: SWORD OF ATLANTIS #57
QUOTE: Young Arthur must accept the role that destiny has cast him in…and accept his place as the new Aquaman!
I think this has been the same solicitation copy for the past 3 months…
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 1: LORDS OF LUCK HC
SUPERMAN: KRYPTONITE HC
WONDER WOMAN: AMAZONS ATTACK HC
Do any of these really deserve hardcover treatment? (It’s a rhetorical question).
SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SUICIDE SQUAD VOL. 1 TP
This it awesome incarnate. It would have been preferable if DC went the full-colour, royal treatment with the classic Suicide Squad stuff (with all the color challenges they would face I can see why they didn’t but still), but I’ll take this.
SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS VOL. 1 TP
Awesome! Captain Comet!!!
MIDNIGHTER: ARMAGEDDON #1
Written by Christos Gage
THE AUTHORITY: PRIME #1
Written by Christos Gage
STORMWATCH: PHD #12
Written by Christos Gage
Looks like Chris Gage is the only writer left at Wildstorm these days. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing mind you… but, again, overexposure isn’t really a good thing either.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: SERIES 2 ACTION FIGURES
DR. IMPOSSIBLE 6.75”
What an odd selection… and really, ANOTHER Batman action figure?
Minimates are dumb, but Ambush Bug… kewl.
The DC Comics October Solicitations are out, and much like last month I’m pretty non-plussed by the whole affair:
Oh dear boy… they killed Bart Allen unceremoniously last week (I reviewed it for the raid), and it’s starting to get to some people. Even co-creator Mike Weiringo is officially unhappy with DC’s treatment of not just that character but the majority of mainstream superheroes as is. I’m pretty annoyed at the whole thing, here’s why:
- during the Infinite Crisis, DC made then-Flash Wally West disappear, and aged then Kid Flash Bart Allen four years and made him the Flash.
- DC decided to launch a new Flash book (instead of continuing the existing book) with Bart in the role, written by TV Flash creators Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo. It sucked, and sucked hard. Uneven writing, awkward pacing, turning a fun-loving superhero into a whiny, emo college kid completely out of character.
- The writers were booted off the book after 8 issues, and if there were a consistent art team they too would have been kicked off. They then brought on writer Mark Guggenheim who was there for the sole express purpose of killing the character. He did a good job at returning Bart to a more mature version of his normal, impulsive self. But in his press junket, he spouted such lies as:
“Bart’s the Flash now… the one and only. He’s the heir to Barry and Wally’s mantle. In fact, that’s the thrust of my first issue and, at least, the initial few issues of my run. My mission statement is to firmly ensconce Bart as both the Flash and a major player in the DCU, befitting his heritage
- now he’s stating:
Yes. I always knew my run would be limited to five issues, culminating in Bart’s death in #13
- Even though issue #14 and #15 were solicited, they’re now retro-solicited as All-Flash #1 and Flash #231 (continuing with Wally West where the old numbering left off).
- Dan DiDio has stated that since issue #1, this was their trajectory. If that’s so, then why bother… why waste people’s time and money? Why lie to them? This is a terrible breach of customer confidence in their product. If they knew they only had 13 issues to work with then why didn’t they build a much better and more interesting story arc for the character, why not make the death relevant? Hell, why kill the character at all? Why not just send him back to the 31st century?
- People keep talking about how associated issue 13 of the Flash: The Fastest Man Alive is with the final reveal of the lackluster “The Lightning Saga” that ran through 2 issues of Justice Society Of America and 3 issues of Justice League of America which saw the return of Wally West thanks to the efforts of the pre-Crisis Legion of Super-Heroes. All obvious signs pointed to the return of Barry Allen, but actually further probing saw that, yes, indeed it was Wally that was summoned. And yet, this storyline has NO association with the Bart Allen Flash book. The events of one in no way impact the other. Just because one Flash comes back doesn’t mean the other had to go away. Hell, the Golden Age Flash has now lived through four generations of Flashes.
- The end of Justice League of America #10 had Braniac 5 saying that he got who he wanted, trapped within a lightning rod. The only way DC can save any face is if that’s Bart Allen he has in there, but everyone foams at the mouth saying it’s Barry Allen. If JLofA #10 and The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 are actually connected, then that would have to be Bart trapped in there, otherwise that’s one very tenuous connection.
- However, as my Bart Allen-loving girlfriend has solemnly pointed out, Bart died without his powers and therefore never joined the Speed Force in his death and thus couldn’t be returned via any lighting mumbo jumbo.
- Mark Waid (now returning to Wally West the Flash) has said he’ll never bring Barry Allen back and he’ll fight DC on that if need be. Maybe he’s eating his words now?
- Barry Allen is boring… more boring than Hal Jordan. That was what his character was intended to be. Boring criminal scientist Barry Allen, always late, perpetually slow, is turned into the fastest man alive. What makes the character exciting is not his character, but the costume. Wally West, he was interesting. Young, a bit cocky, stepping into very large shoes to fill, a bit of a womanizer, at one point very rich but then very poor, troubled relationship with his parents, and with a public superhero identity. Why bring a boring scientist back when there’s that rich tapestry to work with… I don’t understand the Barry Allen love.
Anyway… that’s my scattered thoughts on the Flash for now. I need to let it rest, and see how it works out, or perhaps ignore it altogether.
meanwhile, on the micro-marvel side
Marvel’s shady dealings continue… because, you know, they’re (shock) canceling the Irredemable Ant-Man (gasp, nooooo).
Okay, I don’t read the title, but from what I’ve read about it on-line, it seems kind of interesting. It’s about a guy who discovers how to tap Hank Pym’s shrinking powers and use them for his own personal interests. He’s a bit of a cad, an asshole if you will… irredeemable so they say. A title with a not-so-likable or unsympathetic character isn’t always an easy sell so I could see why it’s facing the chopping block.
But then, I don’t actually believe it’s facing the chopping block. The news of its cancellation came this past weekend, just days before, surprise, the digest edition collecting the first six issues comes out.
In a Newsarama interview, here’s what writer Robert Kirkman has to say about the cancellation:
Frankly, with a Marvel book, the fan base is invested in the “universe” so the “core” titles, the titles that effect the universe the most, are what sell the most. You start at say, I don’t know, New Avengers and you work your way backwards. As a title begins to affect the main universe less and less, you see them appearing lower and lower on the chart. That’s pretty much how it works. That’s why company wide crossovers are so successful. It makes all the books matter.
True enough, but here’s the kicker:
It doesn’t have to be cancelled. If everyone went out and bought the Volume 1 Digest TPB and it sold out in a week—they’d bring the book back. Marvel’s getting a ton of mail about the book—and that’s totally cool. But buying that digest is really the thing that would make them stand up and take notice.
So this whole “Ant-Man’s being cancelled, go buy the digest to save it” is a bullshit “marketing” scheme from Marvel to try and sell more copies of the digest.
Honestly, do they think we’re stupid, or just not paying attention.
The DC Comics solicitations for September went on-line the other day and, well… at one point in my life I would have been very excited, but now I’m pretty much just annoyed:
Item: COUNTDOWN 34-31
Sounds like somethings finally started to happen in Countdown, only 20 issues later!
Item: COUNTDOWN TO MYSTERY #1
Wasn’t Steve Gerber set to write a Dr. Fate book that was solicited but then pulled?
Item: COUNTDOWN PRESENTS THE SEARCH FOR RAY PALMER: WILDSTORM #1
So one of the MAJOR Countdown storylines doesn’t even take place in Countdown!!!. FARG!
Item: SUPERGIRL #21
Well, new artist Renato Guedes is drawing Supergirl in a pretty natural/realistic fashion, and kudos. But what about cover artist Bernard Chang:
Item: THE BLACK CANARY WEDDING PLANNER
Item: JLA WEDDING SPECIAL #1
Item: THE GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL #1
The big mystery of the Black Canary min-series (see the July and August solicitations), whether Dinah will say yes to her proposal (from last week’s Green Arrow #75) isn’t so much a mystery now is it. I guess we can all skip the Black Canary mini-series now. Brilliant marketing there DC.
Item: JLA WEDDING SPECIAL #1
Item: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #13
Written by Dwayne McDuffie … oh hells yes! The man had no clout in the industry for over 10 years, and then a phenomenal run on the Justice League/JLU cartoon has now landed him some prime Fantastic Four, Avengers and Justice League gigs. Well deserved.
Item: WONDER WOMAN ANNUAL #1
“At long last, the climactic, extra-length chapter of “Who is Wonder Woman?”, the story that launched the WONDER WOMAN monthly!”… you shouldn’t be so proud that your opening, 5-issue story took over two years to come to completion…
Item: INFINITY INC. #1
but… Written by Peter Milligan
yeah, okay… maybe give this one a shot, even though it’s yet another 52 spin-off (could be worse, could be a Countdown spin-off)
Item: SUICIDE SQUAD: RAISE THE FLAG #1
Written by John Ostrander … I think I just wet myself
Item: GREEN LANTERN CORPS #16
“‘The Sinestro Corps War’ continues as Mogo is attacked by the Sinestro Corps.” Poor Mogo.
Item: UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1
Awesome, another Uncle Sam mini… but of unknown (or at least unsolicited) length.
Item: SHOWCASE PRESENTS: THE GREAT DISASTER FEATURING THE ATOMIC KNIGHTS AND HERCULES VOL. 1 TP
Item: SHOWCASE PRESENTS: METAL MEN VOL. 1 TP
That’s on the buy pile fo sho.
Item: THE FLASH #232
Written by Mark Waid
More Wally West with Mark Waid. Not that I’m unhappy, but… what the hell?
Item: JLA/HITMAN #1
Hitman was a fun series that was generally madcap pg-13 mayhem and absurd violence. There wasn’t really much place for superheroes. While I’m glad to see Tommy again, by the same creative team of Ennis and McCrea no less, I’m not sure about this one.
Item: OUTSIDERS #50
Written by Tony Bedard
“A new era dawns for the Outsiders…FINAL ISSUE”
Nice, and I did a count and Tony Bedard is writing nearly everything at DC this year
Item: JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE VOL. 2 TP
Item: THE HELMET OF FATE TP
Item: MYSTERY IN SPACE VOL. 1 TP
Really DC, don’t you have anything better to collect out there?
Okay, this post on the latest comics flap is silly… utterly silly…
As one commenter states: “What exactly is the problem here? There are now FIVE covers for the Marvel Zombies HC. In each, beloved characters have been grossly and comically mutilated, in humorous homages to classic covers. Not just this one, but in each.”
Right, so a younger readers Marvel Comic gets parodied by a Marvel Zombies cover… shield your eyes children! The zombie apocalypse is upon you… Is ANYONE going to mistake Marvel Zombies for Mary Jane comic?
(Side Note: I think this is why the comics industry (or at the lowest level, comics shops) should instigate a ratings policy. To give retailers impetus to divide up their shop to sell to different age markets. Marvel has a ratings system on their books but until the rest of the publishers join in, comics are just going to be lumped onto the new release shelf for all to consume.)
I mean, there’s the new Elisha Cuthbert torture-pr0n movie coming out, and films like Saw causing quite a stir, and people, yes, people are kind of outraged, kind of disturbed, and kind of apathetic about them all at once. But will anyone ask for a full boycott of all the distributor’s films? Is someone not going to take their daughter to the Bratz movie because Lion’s Gate put out Hostel 2. Nope. Why? Because it’s dumb. Like movie distributors, there are plenty of different (okay, “different”) products that Marvel offers, certainly most of them are superheroes, but at the same time across age ranges, for which a ($30? $40) hardcover collection of Marvel Zombies is easily going to be identified as “not for kids” by any sensible retailer or parent.
If someone’s disturbed by the image, it’s what they’re bringing to it that bothers them and not the image itself. What I see? I see a zombie and a parody. While the Mary Jane cover is perhaps not the most recognizable cover it’s not an outrageous push to satirize it.
The stirring of the pot on this does appear simply for stirring-of-pot sake. The author himself enjoyed the Marvel Zombies series when it came out last year, and there’s been over 20 MZ Suydam zombie parody covers which he never had any issue with, so it’s obviously not the zombification of another’s art (in general) that’s bothering him… and since he never clearly states exactly what his problem is, I can only assume that it’s the fact that he loves the Mary Jane book and doesn’t want to see it tarnished, which is acceptable if only he copped to it instead of hiding under some “it’s demeaning to women” type rant.
(oh… he’s updated to clarify)
The smarmy responses like “Oh man, congratulations. You just won the fucknut sweepstakes.”, essentially stating “I don’t need to justify a thing to you” proves that he’s not out to have a discussion, but only out to have his opinion, however ludicrous.
Or to someone who stated: “You strike me as a guy who went looking for something to feign outrage over, and ingratiate yourself to the Gails and Leas.” and the reply is: I’m already friends with Lea Hernandez. And guess what? Gail and I shared a drink on Saturday night. (All I get out of that is a) self-congratulatory name-dropping, and b) a “look at our elitist circle of people who try and ’spot the outrage’ first… is there a prize at the end of the year for whomever is angriest or stirs up the most shit? Really.)
Seriously, some of these rampages are now hitting “cry wolf” status and I should really stop paying attention altogether. It actually wasn’t the cry that made me upset this time but the dismissive response to those that didn’t see the wolf. They were asking “where’s the wolf?”, but were being told “I saw a wolf, and you’re a fucktard if you didn’t. If me and [namedrop] say so, then it is so.” Still looks like a sheep to me.
Manga for awhile had the virtue of being cherry picked, so most of the more interesting series were picked up for American publication early, and gave the whole sector a patina of originality and daring, but now that literally hundreds of them are in print it’s way too easy to pick out the stock characters, and repetitive plots, gimmicks, art styles and story/series ideas; turns out the Japanese are just as fond of cookie cutter comics as we are.
Permanent Damage - June 6, 2007
Toast, you nailed it.
Okay, I’m totally with the FG Rampage on this one, tentacle rape is a manga/anime convention that needs to stay a manga/anime convention… we don’t need that thoroughly disturbing aspect invading North American superhero comics, thank you very much.
SLG Publishing editor Jennifer De Guzman has an interesting take on the whole thing.
Interestingly enough, tentacle rape in Japanese illustration can be dated back to an 1820’s woodcut called The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (source: Wikipedia). Disturbo!
Under the weather
Completely unrelated to cephalopods, I’ve picked up a cold of some sort. Well, more of just a dry, light cough and some mild fatigue, but damn, with the nice weather hitting Toronto in full force, sick is the last thing I want to be. Not to mention the folks are coming round for a visit (or I’m heading out for a visit) soon… sigh. Well, could always be worse.
Lost had its 2 hr season finale last night, and, well, the dual of the 3rd season epics between Battlestar Galactica and Lost is over and Lost trumps it hands down. Both shows are off the air until January, but Battlestar I don’t really even care about whereas Lost just left me hanging in the best (and worst) possible way. I want more now, now, now, but I guess I can wait (I kind of have to). What a flippin’ trip though.
If you’re a sci-fi/genre fan and not watching this show, you honestly have no idea what you’re missing. It’s the king of setting up the pins and knocking them down only to reveal more pins behind them. It’s a constant guessing game as to what’s going to happen. If you’re a fan of the obvious, this isn’t your kind of show. Vagaries abound, better than any show before it, it knows how to pose three questions for every one it answers. It’s a 2000-piece Jigsaw puzzle where the picture is nothing but blue sky and all the cuts are the same… oh it’s endlessly frustrating, but you divest yourself into it, and the rewards of progression through each episode are well worth it.
It’s certainly not striving for sophisticated (as in politically charged or even remotely topical) entertainment, but the layers and layers of storytelling that are going on, the number of balls being juggled at once, the demands it asks of its audience, for a mainstream show, is incredible. I’m so impressed. Soon I’ll bust out season 1 and 2 again for a revisit, by the time I finish those, season 3 should be out on DVD and hopefully, when that’s finished, there’ll only be a few more weeks before season 4.
Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar #2
Annihilation: Conquest - Star Lord #2
Nova #5 - Yes, the whole Annihilation saga suckered me into Marvel’s galactic mythos big-time. Curses
Black Panther #30 - Black Pather has taken a steep nose dive since he’s joined the Fantastic Four. Writer Reginald Hudlin doesn’t seem to know what to do with him in this capacity, and now he’s squaring off against the played-out Marvel Zombies. On the drop pile.
Avengers Classic #3 - Reprints of the original Avengers by Lee and Kirby plus new stories by Dwayne McDuffie… worth it? Could be.
Fantastic Four #549 - Reed and Sue are back. On the drop pile most likely, if Panther and Storm are gone.
X-Factor #22 - the only X-title worth reading on a monthly basis
Dear DC Comics,
In regards to your Solicitations for August 2007, I have to ask, are you trying to drive me away. Seriously.
Last year’s epic, 52 required a lot of patience and faith to believe that the end result would be something beyond just an experiment. While it was a minor success in terms of storytelling, one thing the 52-issue maxi-series had going for it was it was pretty much self contained. Countdown on the other hand is a big mess of cross-overs which, only two issues in, is already too much to handle. Off the bat it’s a dull, convoluted mess, and I’m not sure how much longer I can stick it out hoping it will improve, and looking at the August solicitations and noting that the series isn’t stand-alone, well, it’s literally too much.
And if it’s not countdown, it’s Amazons Attack which I really want to like, because, hey it’s Pete Woods and Will Pfeifer, but a resounding meh behind the first issue, and a couple “boo-urns” for all the other crossovers (Supergirl, Catwoman).
And what’s up with this Outsiders business? Really, 5 issues in one month? Don’t you think that with a weekly/crossover series, 3 issues of Action Comics, and two issues of the Amazons mini-series and those crossovers is enough that you have to toss in 5 Outsiders team-up books on top of it all, and you’re also launching five new books out of 52. Wow, DC, you’ve got balls…
Isn’t it time that you started focusing on selling books that anyone can read? You know, stand-alone titles that Joe Caravan can pick up for his kids for road trip reading? You have a few, like Robin, Blue Beetle, and The Brave and the Bold, but you’re diluting your own market with the glut of tie-ins, spin-offs and cross-overs.
Am I giving up on you? No. You make me want to, so desperately, but I’m not.
Here’s what you’ve nailed me for in the month of August:
Things I’m getting
Action Comics #855 - Superman in the Bizarro World. Uh, yes!
Blue Beetle #18 - Okay, so Blue Beetle is joining the Titans, good for him. But do we really need a cross-over? And Lobo? Sigh.
Checkmate Vol.2: Pawn Breaks - Yes. More Checkmate in tpb format. Rucka doing espionage with superheroes is solid gold.
The Brave and the Bold #6 - DC’s best book right now.
The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #15 - I’m enjoying it quite a bit.
Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Mortality tpb - The back-up feature from “Tales of Suspense” that you’ve heard nothing but good things about is collected in trade paperback. Awesome!
Justice League of America #12 - Brad Meltzer ends his run, for better or worse. Next issue welomes a new writer…and no doubt say goodbye to Vixen, Geo-Force, Red Tornado, Red Arrow and Black Lighting.
Justice Society of America #8 - focuses on the former Jesse Quick, now Liberty Belle. Aden’s going to love to hate this. Plus more 52 mumbo jumbo. Sigh.
Metal Men #1 - an all-new mini-series featuring an all-new team of Metal Men. And if 52 taught us anything, Doc Magnus is the lifeblood of the team, so hopefully writer/artist Duncan Rouleau gives him ample focus
Showcase Presents: Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo-Crew - I loved this comic book series of superheroic animals to bits as a kid. Although it may be lacking something in black and white, perhaps Aden’s wee one will get the same charge out of them as I did.
Things I’m considering
All-New Booster Gold #1 - Ok, you got me. The end of 52 had me interested in Booster and Skeet’s adventures in the megaverse… but Dan Jurgens on art? Yawn.
Batman Annual #26: Head of the Demon - Pete Milligan and David Lopez telling the origin of Ra’s Al Ghul… I wouldn’t normally care, but slap the word “Annual” on the cover and you take me back to the 1980’s where stand-alone annual stories were where the crazy stuff happened.
Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious #1 - I’m not sure I want to pay for a 2-issue prestige maxi-series starring Lobo, even if it is drawn by Sam Kieth.
Sword of the Atom tpb - Collecting the 1980’s mini-series and specials, I never really got into these as a kid, and I’m not sure if I will now… but micro-sized sword-and-sorcery, illustrated by Gil Kane? Hmm….
Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders Vol.1 - Mike Barr and Jim Aparo and 500 pages of 1980’s superhero action comic books. Villains include the Duke of Oil and the Nuclear Family. I read the bulk of these as a kid, and can’t really remember if I liked them or not… but hey cheap!
The Drop Pile: for consideration
Countdown - yes, you. If you don’t shape up by issue #4, then you’re out of here. I think four issues of any series is more than enough to invest and to know whether it’s worthy or not.
Two new armored Aquaman figures in January? Oh how cruel
Superlady statues… are they cheesecake or offensive, or both. Powerful and attractive or pornography and ugly. Being a red-blooded male who likes to look at women (but LOVES women for their personality and character) I’m not likely the best person to answer these questions for everyone, but I shall try to look at these as objectively (and not as object-ly) as possible.
MILD - eh, really, nothing to get too worked up over, acceptable for most
MEDIUM - okay, you’ve got a point, they could have changed a few things
HOT - it’s just about tits and ass and bad art
HAWT - well, I like it.. sue me.
Catwoman vinyl statue: Unfortunately it seems that Selena forgot to zip herself up when she went out for a night on the prowl, and wearing that leather catsuit without anything on underneath, skin to leather, well, she’s going to fill up her boots with sweat, I’m sure. By the Japanese sculpting co. Kotobukiya (who has done such respectable designs in the past as featured on the inside back cover of Previews this month…NSFW)
Batgirl bust: the classic costume, classic Barbara Gordon, a powerful pose, and hot… reminds me of Aden (probably because she uses Batgirl as an avatar on occasion). Beautiful without being flaunty.
Big Barda bust: I’d much more appreciated her in her classic costume rather than the Kirby-thong Adam Hughes put her in (I was informed that this is what she wore in the Justice League Unlimited episode she appeared in). Quite obviously she’s posing as the escape artist’s assistant, judging by the hand positioning, but, I don’t actually recall Barda ever being Mr. Miracle’s apprentice, so it’s more inaccurate rather offensive that she’s holding his cape. That’s Oberon’s job.
Black Canary bust: scary. I normally find Black Canary pretty foxy… I mean bustier and fishnets with that 1/4-length coat, the sensitive but tough as nails character… and yeah…when she’s in her “canary cry” pose, you’re in for a world of hurt mate. But are we supposed to see this as insinuation? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Accurate but slightly bothersome.
MILD - eh, really, nothing to get too worked up over, acceptable for most
Supergirl vinyl: UHGLEE. Disturbingly so. It’s all disproportionate and tacky and, well, Supergirl is a teenager. Leave the dirty teen statues to the anime nerds. Gluh.
Wonder Woman vs. Superman statue: rock on, Wonder Woman looks very powerful and Clark seems to be on the defensive. She looks great and in control. Perfecto. From a purely practical standpoint though, I just wonder how she’s supposed to stay in the air like that.
Donna Troy bust: I was walking Aden through the various “Women of the DC Universe” busts yesterday, and when I told her that this is the one that most reminds me of her, and she was offended, because she LOATHES Donna Troy. But it’s true. Though Donna’s perhaps got way too much makeup on, the hair and the body just remind me of my special lady. Red spandex sweetie… :) I don’t know why Aden hates Donna so much. I’m a little fond of her because Phil Jimenez likes her so much, and Phil’s a cool guy.
Power Girl and Huntress Legacy statue: well, Huntress looks fierce and Power Girl looks… well, not so much like her usual tough-girl self. I’m bothered by the position she’s found herself in because it doesn’t seem like her at all.
Wonder Woman Lynda Carter statue: oy, they tried but failed to properly capture the likeness and Lynda is painted up something ugly. Not offensive, just bad.
Supergirl statue: ACH. Michael Turner… GROSS GROSS GROSS. Bad, bad art.
Catwoman bust: Actual conversation:
me- “Well, another cleavage intensive Catwoman statue. Why is she unzipping herself…”
her- “…or zipping herself up…”
me- “That’s unnecessary, really.”
her - “Yeah. What’s that in her other hand…It’s a diamond!”
me- “But wh… oh, she’s sticking the diamond into her cleavage…”
her- “…because she doesn’t have any pockets…”
me- “Clever girl.”
Harley Quinn bust: that girl’s going to bonk you on the head with a mallet, she will… totally Harley
Hawkgirl bust: you know, this is just ugly. The whole “innocent girl holding the mace behind her back” thing is out of character, and well, it’s ugly.
Poison Ivy bust: bust is right… there’s quite literally nothing holding her in. Seriously, what were these people thinking when they sculpted her. Yes, Poison Ivy is always portrayed as a temptress, but she’s also sensible enough to wear an outfit that will keep her boobs from spilling out if she bends over or… moves… at all.
Supergirl: this is…sexy. I’m trying to justify that this is the old Kara, the 1980s Supergirl, to get over my conflicted pervy feelings. Just shows, though, that it’s not always flesh that makes things attractive.
Zatanna bust: Actual conversation:
her- “nothing wrong with that”
me- “well, she is sticking her tongue out, that’s kind of suggestive”
her- “oh come on, she’s concentrating. I stick my tongue out when I concentrate all the time.”
me- “oh, like Michael Jordan.”
Wonder Woman bust: OH COME ON! Seriously? Why does it look like her bustier, which is supposed to be metallic armor, is painted on? And her metallic belt is shaped around her abs? And her boobs are contained only slightly better than the Poison Ivy statue. Sheesh. Demeaning.
Wonder Woman action statue: A powerful pose and she looks in complete control of the situation. But she’s way too busty, and again, her bustier-armor looks painted on.
Cover to Cover Wonder Woman: striking a powerful pose with her sword standing atop a skull.. decent.
Wonder Woman mini-statue: a little too super-model-esque. The original Brian Bolland cover this is from looked more powerful and strong, where as here she’s been legged out and softened to be more ladylike, which I don’t like.
Animated Zatanna statue: Okay, I get the stage outfit, I get the box, I get the cuffs and chains are all part of the magician thing, but still this bothers me slightly. I suppose seeing a real female magician being handcuffed and chained and locked in a box would bother me too, but if it’s what her male counterparts are doing as well, then surely she can too. Confused.
Note: I noticed that many of the “Women of the DC Universe” busts varied slightly (or greatly) from the original Adam Hughes illustrations, in some cases making the women either bustier or revealing more boobage that the design called for. Stupid sculptors.
Further to the statue
The MJ statue is still on my mind (and not for the obvious reasons). But I think what makes the statue such a heated issue is that - unlike many statues of women that are quite flagrantly demeaning or disturbingly sexualized (like the many manga/anime statues of little girls holding their skirts up) - this one tells a story. What that story is, however, is what you bring to it.
If you want to see that she’s being objectified and denigrated by wearing a pair of jeans with a fray in the bum and a thong, then you will see that. If you think she’s being subservient doing Peter’s laundry, then you will see that. If you think she’s a passive and unwilling participant in whatever the scene is, then you will see that.
I’ve stated previously what my view of this is, and there’s a few others scenarios that do come to mind. Some comments I’ve read about it (below: from 1 man and 3 women respectively) had this to say:
“she’s glancing over her shoulder, somewhat cheeky looking in the face. Maybe she’s planning a little late night role-playing session where she gets to be Spidey and Petey gets ‘rescued’”
“who does laundry in a bucket with a pose like that? Its a set up for ‘Spidey and the naughty laundress get wet’ IMO.”
“Granted, it’s a cheesy pin-up pose, and I too would like to think she’s being playful.”
“And I agree that’s totally what the set up is. Its a peek into Peter and MJs home life, and if they’re flirting shamelessly while doing laundry, power to ‘em.”
To say that MJ would never do or wear something like this is denying her any sort of sexuality. To believe them as fully fleshed out characters but then say that her and Peter don’t have some kind of fantasy life (”Go get ‘em Tiger”) would be naive. To argue that a statue representing this quite obviously private moment is tacky is valid, but to say that it’s porn is denying that sexuality exists, even for comic characters. Again, my point, as always, is just keep it out of the books… (radioactive sperm, sheesh). Comics are, at least DC and Marvel would like to have you believe, accessible, but when you have a lack of minorities (or tokenized ones), thinly characterized and objectified women, and all too often extreme violence or overly mature situations that kids shouldn’t be exposed to, then you’re not being very open to the bulk of the entertainment audience.
But if something with a production run of a few thousand (actually only 900 of these things are being made) and niche-priced as a $150 statue is targeted solely at older men (at that price point it isn’t going to the kids), then fine. I’m not buying it, but I don’t really care if someone else wants to, but it’s not what the industry is built on. I think there should be statues and models that are targeted at all different groups: sexy stuff for men and women, generic stuff for everyone, silly fun stuff appealing directly to kids….
It’s okay to target different markets, everything doesn’t have to be for everyone, but at the same time, don’t just target one market continually. Of course there isn’t a diverse range of target markets because of a perceived lack of interest from certain markets (and we know why there’s a lack of markets, because DC and Marvel have failed to attract or maintain those markets). Clean up the comics, make them (it doesn’t have to be all of them, but the bulk of the mainstream lines should be) accessible for all, and then there will be a lot less need for these types of uproars.
And realize that even if your female fan base is only 10% of the market, and supposing the superhero readership is only 200,000 fans that’s still 20,000 women out there that might like to see some beefcake. I’m telling you, you could easily sell 900 statues of Nightwing in mid-dress (or mid-undress). Or how about Captain America in a pair of Speedos and nothing else but his helmet and shield. I know one lady who would buy one of each, at least.
On the Mainstream and their problems
While most of the discussion as of late centers around gender issues (because the “When Fangirls Attack” crowd is the loudest and most organized group addressing them), thats only one part of the puzzle that comics is missing. Race, sexual orientation and younger readers are all under-represented or under-targeted by the industry who has, by and large, made the claim that there isn’t a market there, basically because they don’t want to try hard enough to reach it, or they don’t know how and they don’t want to learn. It’s pretty pathetic.
Back in the ’80’s, when I grew up, DC and Marvel comics were fairly accessible. Not to say that they didn’t tackle dramatic issues or mature themes, but they weren’t riddled with exploding guts or perky nipples either. As an 8 year-old I could pick up almost any comic with the DC bullet or the Marvel masthead and simply and easily escape. This isn’t to say the 80’s were perfect, but that kind of storytelling, where it allows young new readers to come in, easily, is where the mainstream needs to return to, by and large. The constant focus on company-wide crossovers, while healthy for maintaining your 100,000 core readers, only ostracizes the entire remainder of the possible audience. For an outsider to come in and try and approach a Crisis or Civil War, a whole lot of priming must happen, and most people would be easily dissuaded, not having or interested in investing the time to understand what’s so important about these events.
Of course, pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, minorities were often tokenized and women were thinly characterized (if not nearly as drastically objectified as they became in the 1990s) and that needs to change too. Whenever some strides are made to have a title centered around a black or female character, and it fails, the execs use that as an excuse to say “look, they don’t sell” without ever really examining WHY they didn’t sell (lack of support, doomed to failure from the beginning, bad writer, inappropriate artist, etc).
These days, DC and Marvel do things like: “lets make Captain America black”, or “maybe the new Blue Beetle can be Latino”, or “how about a female Punisher”, and “we have Scoobie-Doo comics for the kids” and then dusting their hands and saying, “there, all done, something for everyone.” Well, as appreciated as the gesture is, you still have to introduce characters who will connect with the audience, whatever age, race, gender, or age.
This is a nice write-up from former DC staffer Johanna Draper Carlson, much better thought out and in the most part reflects exactly my sentiments on the matter.
I’d be interested to see existing superhero comics change to be so girl-friendly that they’d have a majority female audience… but to get there, I think you’d have to remake so many levels of the current direct market (creators, superhero company executives, distributors, retailers) that the world would no longer resemble the one we know…
…I would really like to see what some of them thought about Go Girl!, the only comic I know of that’s unquestionably a superhero comic made by women for girls. But we’re not really talking about superheroes; we’re talking about DC and Marvel superheroes, because many of those requesting more girl-friendly superhero comics want them with the familiar characters they have a love/hate relationship with.
So true. But at the same time, I don’t know that the push is ostensibly “superhero comics for women” but making those comics less outright offensive. Has anyone seen if there’s a list from the Fangirl Rampage out there of what’s routinely offensive and also the conceits they’re willing to give their superhero comics?
And for Aden, and any of the other “dissenters” that get immediately ostracized for not sticking with the herd on every point, Johanna also isn’t one of the gang.
P.S.: I wrote this two days ago, and I’ve since reading many of Johanna’s blog entries like this one, I’ve made my peace with the MJ statue business (her masters in sociology studying fan behavior gives her some pretty good insight, as does her experience as a fan and industry insider). This is the last I’m going to address it unsolicited. Still willing to discuss it in my comments if someone wants to, but no more posts.
Also, had this thought the other day when thinking and typing about this issue so much: That’s not my only opinion, just my first.
Meaning, essentially, I’m not close minded. I don’t always make up my mind and hold fast to that opinion. Reading, discussing, debating, watching, thinking, understanding, examining things beyond just your first assessment means your initial conclusions aren’t your only conclusions. As big-brained humans (as Vonnegut would call us) we have the luxury of processing and storing a gluttony of information, and to hold fast on one opinion for eternity would be denying the influence of our communal existence. It’s why I don’t get religion, because so much of it asks that you hold fast to one belief while denying so much evidence or information outside of it. There are people that can juggle the exterior information and still have their faith, and more power to them, but sheeping your way through life is no existence at all.
One final quote
My worst fear is that what many male comics readers will take away from all this is the unfortunate idea that most fangirls will find their erotic desires to be demeaning regardless of context or circumstance. Given the astonishing number of truly risable images, characters and stories out there in the Direct Market, seizing upon a harmless bit of cheesecake like this only reinforces the notion that there’s no way to win against such complaints — that male sexuality is somehow offensive by definition — and that the only reasonable thing to do therefore is to ignore them altogether. And that truly would be a shame.
Have you seen the BINGO card? It’s a pretty clever piece of shut-them-up-quick anti-argument propaganda. Does it have merit, well yeah. Because when fanboy clash with fangirl, oft times fanboy argues with basic blunt statements, the old “put up or shut up” or “well that’s just the way it is”, which contribute nothing to the discussion. But are all of these fanboy statements valid to ignore? Maybe, maybe not. Let’s explore:
Just read manga like the rest of the girls.
Well that’s just dumb. Manga is more riddled with offensive material than mainstream superheroes are. The Japanese tendency to mix sex and violence is highly disturbing, and the abundance of subjugation and rape is probably 100:1 compared to American work. And the child-like appearance with adult body parts is just disturbing. Not saying this is all manga, but it’s more rife with that kind of stuff…
But doing martial arts in high heels is perfectly reasonable!
If “What Not To Wear” taught me anything, it’s that flats are ugly. A little bit of heel is needed simply for appearance sake. Not stilettos though, that’s completely impractical. Sometimes though, aesthetics do need to win out in the fantasy world of superheroes.
No one wants realism in comics!
Not true. There’s a dividing line between reality and fantasy. For any story to work the fantasy has to have some grounding in reality, and in superhero comics, a large part of that is the visual realization of heroes and heroines with some anatomical correctness and realistic movement and quasi-plausible wardrobe, as well as naturalistic dialogue and some semblance of real personality.
If you don’t like it, shut up and write your own.
Erm, it’s not about what’s available, it’s about what’s prominent. Making your own comics isn’t going to change much (but it does help). Doesn’t mean you can’t still try and get the bigger companies to change their tune, though.
Sexism is a convention of the genre!
Not even worth examining. Whoever tries to argue this point is missing the point.
You’re only jealous because you don’t look like that.
We’re all jealous that we don’t look like that. We all have our insecurities, and for some the buff man and buxom woman play into that, for others it’s just a reminder of what you don’t have or what you don’t look like. But the point is more that the women are drawn as sex objects from a by many artists when it’s completely outside the scope of the story being told. It’s not a jealousy thing, it’s about the necessity of objectification…
But super-strong women don’t need bras!
I agree. Bras, unless they’re worn on the outside like Superman’s underwear, has no place inside spandex. I don’t want to see undewear lines on the Flash’s tights, nor bra lines under Batwoman’s. That said, nipples really don’t need to be represented under the spandex either.
But rape happens in real life too!
Exactly, but do we really need to have it perpetrated or insinuated within the pages of escapist material? The answer is: sometimes. But rape as character motivation is tired, and as “character building” is insulting. It can be a story point, yes, but in superhero comics, which *should* be intended for all ages, it’s really not appropriate.
Why are you complaining about comics when women in Muslim countries are oppressed?
The same reason you’re complaining that the continuity between 52 and Justice Society of America aren’t in synch instead of worrying about kids in Sudan. Women can care about comics too.
Are you calling me a misogynist!?
Are you one? Take a good look at yourself, and answer that on your own. If you think the question is even being asked of you, do you have an answer?
So you want comics full of ugly fat chicks?
Some women I’m sure do, but no, I think what is needed is respect of the female characters beyond sex objects and rape bait and character builders for the male characters. Women should look just as good kicking ass as men should, but naturally good, not “sexed-up” good.
But she’s from an alien culture with no nudity taboo!
If there are alien men around also sporting a mostly nude aesthetic, then great. But if it’s simply an excuse to draw a tarty woman with no characterization, then bleh.
But men are drawn unrealistically too!
See also: No one wants realism in comics!. Yes, the men are drawn as an ideal, just like the women, but they’re not put in pouty lipped, suggestive poses all the time. It’s an artistic and editorial decision to allow such conduct, and that’s what needs to change.
This is just fanboy entitlement… from women!
Damn skippy, only it’s not. It’s a matter of respecting the audience, not just women, but all readers. Fanboy complaining is usually about inane plot points and discrepancies in characterization: this is about treating, en masse, the readers and characters with a different level of respect and consideration.
My girlfriend never complains about this stuff.
Mine neither. My girlfriend will argue “but there’s the men for the ladies, too” on occasion, and she’s right, but also acknowledging that the men aren’t sexied up in the same way the women are… in other words, either sexy up the men or tone the women down…
If you don’t like them, don’t read them.
But they do like them, they’re just assaulted by imagery or characterization that tries so very hard to push them away. Imagine if you’re, say, a big fan of NASCAR, and suddenly they start making the pit crews wear thong underwear instead of coveralls. Doesn’t mean you hate NASCAR, just, really, what the hell? That’s inappropriate.
But girls often wear skirts. Why wouldn’t they go flying in them?
See But doing martial arts in high heels is perfectly reasonable!… again, it’s aesthetics and I don’t have a problem with it. A sensible superheroine will have some trunks or shorts on underneath.
Men can’t help themselves! Why are you punishing us for our biology?
Not sure what angle this argument is coming from. If this is a rape arguement, it’s disgusting.
There aren’t many women working in mainstream comics because they’re just not good enough.
Well, considering how awful so many of the male writers and artists are, I’d call bullshit on that. Yes, there’s a sexist attitude towards women in hiring them for the big projects, but they really need to get their foot in the door the same way most other writers and artist do these days: by doing something else first. Whether it’s publishing their own comics (Jill Thompson) or writing a TV show (Johanna Stokes) or film or book that has comics crossover appeal (Laurell K. Hamilton or Jodi Picoult), or just proving your as big a continuity nerd as the boys (Gail Simone). You can’t just expect a free ride. Yes, the men and women in charge need to take greater strides at identifying the right talent (male, female, black, white, asian, latino, gay, straight) and putting them on the right books.
But male characters die too!
Uh huh. But male characters die for the sake of saving the world or in the heat of battle. They die as heroes for honor and valiance. Women tend to die to give a male character motivation or “depth”. There’s a heavy and unfortunate disparity there. I think the only male character to die for this purpose was Terry Long, Donna Troy’s husband.
In a sense, yes. But what’s being pushed for isn’t censorship, but decency and good taste in how characters are written and drawn.
But that costume suits her personality!
That can happen, sure. But sometimes it’s just flagrantly skin exposing for the sake of titillation. A little thought behind the practicality of some wardrobes is necessary. Bad character and wardrobe design, however, is not exclusive to female characters. Check out the bulk of what Rob Liefeld created. Even the legendary George Perez doesn’t really make very good costumes. I’d accept Phanom Lady over Jericho any day. In large part the problem is artists aren’t costume designers or fashionistas. Perhaps DC and Marvel should have a few trained designers on staff whose responsibility it is to design new wardrobes and hairstyles and whatnot for the characters…?
Women just don’t get comics.
That’s a blanket statement about a very large population, and is stupid to argue. Yes, there aren’t a lot of women who buy comics, and there aren’t a lot of women (by and large) who like comics, but when they female characters are objectified the way they are and when comics are so abjectly written and/or drawn for a post-pubescent male audience, it’s not really any great surprise they’re not interested. However, if superhero books didn’t focus their stories and art so much on male power fantasies (often to the denigration of women) then they would so immediately drive so many women away.
…I mean, because they’re just not interested.
Which isn’t wholly true and you know it. I’ve gotten many women (friends and girlfriends alike) into comic books, on many occasions even superhero books. They’re interested but obviously easily off-put.
Comics are never going to change. You’re wasting your time.
And with that attitude they never will. Imagine if all black people said “things are never going to change”… sure there’s some people who would like that, but we make fun of those people and their level of intelligence and their incestuous parentage.
I see why the BINGO card exists. Those, en masse, are some pretty dumb sentiments, and I too would get tired of having to reply to them over and over. However, not all of them are easily dismissed, and they can have a deeper argument behind them, provided there actually is a deeper argument behind them when they’re made.
Aden pointed this latest fangirl rampage out to me yesterday, with the statement of “what is all this furor over the Mary Jane statue? …I agree its tasteless, but I don’t know if its worth getting that worked up over.”
I have to agree.
You know, I’m all for making fun of the horribly disfigured “women” Michael Turner draws, because really, he’s a shit artist… and you know when they apparently sexify a teenaged superhero, well, yeah, that’s unnecessary and wrong (considering it was a Jim Lee drawing I’m just numb to his artwork as is, so I didn’t really think of it one way or another at first)… and then you have the inclusion of, well, traced pornstar images appearing inside the books (see: Greg Land)… and when “women in refrigerators” is deemed “character building” I understand why there is a fangirl rampage… and I really do approve of it.
Superhero comics are, historically, an all-ages medium. I grew up reading them, as did millions of others, but, somewhere along the way the audience outgrew the medium. Blame cable tv, video games, the internet and other recreations that have attracted the young’un’s attentions in the past 30 years. In that time, let’s call it the 1990’s shall we, the mainstream comic book makers (read: DC and Marvel, the big two superhero producers) were swayed by two outside trends: sex and violence, which a lot of smaller press publishers were having some success with. With this, and understanding that their audience had started to dwindle and that the bulk of readers were teenaged or 20-something hangers-on from the 70’s and 80’s, comics decided to “grow” with their audience. Some good did come out of it… Vertigo and some smaller press companies that cater to a non-superhero audience with smartly written and decidedly spandex-free stories still exist and are a haven from the spandex hype that’s perpetuated by the success of superhero movies like the Spider-Man and X-Men trilogies.
Back in the 90’s, though, the mainstream, geared towards teenaged boys, became littered with not so much sex, but rather “bad girl” T’n'A art, where the artists drew women in skimpy or skin-tight costumes posing and posturing rather than being in movement. It was pretty unseemly. What made it worse was the violent nature of the time, where movies were pushing the limits of violence, and everything was going “Extreme” and “Grim’n'Gritty”. It was not a good time to be a comics fan, and I’m sure the ugly, busy art with big breasts and big guns was off-putting to many a parent who wished to buy their child a comic or two. And mixing sex (not the physical aspect, but the illustrative “sexy”) with violence, subjugating women, in essence certainly isn’t the what most of us want out of our escapist entertainment.
Since the crash of the “Grim’n'Gritty” and “Bad Girl” era of comics (which also coincided with the “Speculator Boom/Bust”), the big two (DC/Marvel) haven’t yet fully recovered. They’ve made some strides at trying to capture a new audience, but they’re still obsessed with catering to the late-20’s to early-40’s fanboy demographic that they’ve been stringing along for all these years at the expense of building a new fanbase.
This leads us to my point, comics need to cater to more than just an existing fandom. I don’t like seeing women posturing unnaturally in my comics when they’re supposed to be punching someone in the face, and using a cheesecake illustration for the sake of a cover, especially when it has no relevance to the contents inside, isn’t really essential. I also don’t care for on-panel exploding guts and decapitated heads, voluminous blood splatter isn’t really acceptable for the spandex crowd, especially when there’s ostensibly no ratings system in place for readers or parents to evaluate an individual title by. And i don’t want to see superheroes girlfriends ballgagged and tied up and made to look like they’re enjoying it, or murdered for the sake of giving Green Lantern something to get all emo over.
But, I do realize that comics are fantasy. Superheroes are supposed to represent an ideal, in physicality, in attractiveness, in capability, and in character. There’s a reason there’s very few ugly men or women running around in comics (the same way that the big film stars are generally quite attractive), and that’s because it plays into the whole pastiche of reader fantasy. The bad ass vigilante or the noble neo-god, the meek reporter or the billionaire playboy, the superhero and their alter ego give the reader a gateway to a different, much larger, more diverse fantasy life.
Teenaged geeks are, generally, outsiders, unpopular with the cool kids, often with body issues or confidence issues. The fantasy of comics, the buff or buxom unattainable bodies are part of the attraction to it all. The power, quite obviously another part. And identifying with a character who represents both strength and attractiveness brings the reader well into that realm and, in some (many) cases, these fantasies can extend beyond just the printed page.
To find the tight, muscular, spandex-clad men and women of comicdom alluring isn’t altogether unseemly, in fact, unintentionally that’s what they’ve been for years, and moreover, it’s part of the attraction, part of the fantasy of comics. It’s only really since the 1990’s that the obviousness of this aspect has reached the production stage of the mainstream books, and it just hasn’t left since. I would like to see a return to a more willfully oblivious superhero world, where within the pages of comic books the superheroes and superheroines by and large are drawn from an unobjectified perspective and they move in a manner that isn’t reminiscent of a Sports Illustrated photo shoot.
But that doesn’t mean the fantasy can’t extend outside the page. Yes, there’s slash fiction and plenty of fan-created materials on-line to feed this, but “official” stuff is always going to be of a better quality and more attractive, if only because it’s legit. If DC or Marvel wants to print a cheesecake poster of an Adam Hughes-drawn Power Girl or Frank Cho-drawn Spider-Woman, then why not? If they want to make cheesecake bust of Batgirl or Vargas-esque statue of Mary Jane then hey, go for it (it’s when the Michael Turner and horribly anatomically incorrect artists are allowed to do it that I’m offended). Just keep it out of the comics that are intended for a general audience. Though a poster isn’t all that expensive, an alluring portrait on the wall of a teenaged boy’s room is still subject to the scrutiny of his parents. A $50 to $300 bust or statue with a production run of a few thousand are going to be snapped up by fanboys who can afford it, taken to their basements, and rarely to see the light of day beyond that (especially considering most comic book stores don’t order many statues unless requested by a patron, because they’re pricey inventory to hang onto if they don’t sell). If a cleavage-intensive, thong-wearing, ripped jeans Mary Jane bending over a wash basin is going to give a fanboy a few dozen nights of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Parker fantasies, I really don’t see a problem with it. Like I said, just keep it out of the pages. And it’s not like low-cut t-shirts, ripped jeans, and thong underwear don’t exist in everyday life (my girlfriend will tell you that she owns all three, and, from sheer observation, whenever a woman bends over or even sits down in jeans, the jeans move down exposing the underwear… I tease Aden about this often… and apart from moving to wearing, ugh, the “mommy jean” [I watch way too much "What Not To Wear"] that kind of thing isn’t going to stop). I’m not saying that the statue shouldn’t be offensive to some, and I’m not saying that it isn’t kinda tacky, but at the same time it’s cheesecake, and there’ll be 5000 (or so) lonely guys who will enjoy the hell out of it. I say let ‘em have it.
I’m personally much more disturbed by the proliferation of Anime statues and figures which have childlike-but-buxom anime women[?] in submissive [or worse] positions, especially considering how Anime and Manga is more in line with what the kids are actually reading and watching these days. This model is MJ washing Petey’s tights in a skimpy, yet, really, everyday outfit. It’s not like she’s in her underwear bowing down at the heels of Electro or anything. Looking at the statue my imagination conjures that Peter is there with her, having just shucked his costume, his (supermodel, remember) wife decides to wash them (and I know personally that spandex is handwash only) and put on a little show. The statue is a peek into Peter and MJ’s private life, don’t real couples do this kind of thing in the privacy of their own home? Some may think that’s distasteful, others will find it appealing. I’m not purchasing it, I don’t need it, but I’m not angered or even offended (This Supergirl statue is so much more offensive, primarily because it’s so absurdly unrealistic, and secondly because she’s a flippin’ teenager). In fact, I think it’s kind of nice, showing that yes, even married couples can still have sexy fun. They should do a similar statue with Sue Richards, mother of two, to show that a wife and mother can still be smoking hot.
You know, straight fanboys aren’t the only ones who have these kinds of fantasies. The delightful website Living Between Wednesdays has been Rating the Super-hunks, and more power to her (I think it’s great), and a few of the links incoming to Rack Raids are from gay fanboys, containing pictures of pinup men and comic book discussion, which I think is rad. There is a large contingent of female and gay comics readers who I’m sure would love some equal opportunity beefcake happening. A statue of a hunked out (bulging) Nightwing or an “all-hammock” posterbook of the super-men I’m sure would be appreciated by many a gayfan and fangirl.
To say there shouldn’t be cheesecake - or beefcake - as ancillary by-products would be ignoring the demand for it, and obviously there is demand, however niche. But as witnessed by the Commander Steel incident, there’s obviously some ingrained homophobia in the comics industry, which just like sexism, needs to be beaten out before equal-opportunity fan-service will happen.
None of this is to say that there aren’t problems with sexism (or racism or homophobia) in the comics industry, because it does abound. I just think that the battles that need to be fought should stick to the source material: the comics and the people who make them. The ancillary stuff is so niche (most statues only get a couple thousand made) that it’s not the stuff of consequence. Like an actress who goes from 7th Heaven to the cover of Maxim, you can easily watch the show and ignore the peripherals. It’s when her character start striking porn-star poses while having an argument with daddy that you need to get upset. I don’t think a statue or a poster should detract from a title or story or character, they’re fun fan-service that has their place (just a little equal opportunity would be nice).
(note: Fangirl Rampage is not meant in any way as a derogatory sentiment, in fact more rampaging fangirls would be a definite boon to the industry)
Over at Rack Raids… reviews… of comics… they’re awesome!
These ones are by me as of late:
52 Week 52 - the end of the big 52 comics in 52 weeks experiment, I take a look and then look again.
The Clarence Principle - a compelling mix of fantasy and macabre dealing with a post-suicide dreamscape.
Welcome to Tranquility #6 - the end of the first storyline, a great murder mystery (with some spandex and humour tossed in)
Midnighter #7 - the best done-in-one issue of this year.
Agents of Atlas Premiere Hardcover - a fun little (well, big, actually) adventure book packed with lots of extras… a breath of fresh air from Marvel
In case you haven’t been keeping up… here’s what the geekent did over on the Raid this month.
Amazons Attack! #1 - they take control of Washington… and will no doubt do a better job than Bush.
Nightwing Annual #2 - finally, a good Nightwing story for a change
Justice League of America #8 - it’s craptastic, and I love it
Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #11 - the quality level is where it should be… thankfully
World War III books 1-4 and 52 week #50 - so many problems, so little time
Brave and the Bold #3 - best superhero title on the stands.
Wasteland vol.1 - a decent post-Apocalyptic desert spectacle
Batman: Snow tpb - awesome, buy it.
Sandman Mystery Theatre: Sleep of Reason #5 - Made me miss the old Sandman Mystery Theatre (now collected in trade, volume 5 just released!)
Nova #1 - never thought I’d say it but Marvel’s cosmic heroes are kicking DC’s cosmic heroes asses.
Buffy Season 8 #2 - still awesome.
Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness #2… what can I say, I was wrong about this series. Issue #1 stunk it up, but #2 made up for it in spades, and a killer ending.
A couple months ago, I went to lunch with a comics writer well known in the “alternative” comics market. To my surprise, he stated that most independent/alternative comics were tedious crap. Because they were all “girl comics.”
He didn’t mean they were comics aimed at girls, or that he had any problem with female characters. He meant “girls” in the most cynical marketing director’s sense of the word: pointless touchy-feely twaddle designed to establish nothing more than how goddamn sensitive the author is. And really, as he pointed out, who gives a flying crap? Those aren’t stories, they’re comics as encounter groups.
Permanent Damage April 25, 2007
I can’t believe I didn’t do a single Rack Raids post here for March… well… let’s correct that.
Here’s the rundown of the numerous titles I reviewed for out ever-growing, ever-popular site since we last left:
The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #9 and #10 - at last, a desperately needed change in creative team arrives. #9, not so good, #10 a winner.
Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1 - erm, 2 self-contained stories about … Heralds… of Galactus. 1 of 2.
Batman Secrets tpb - for Sam Kieth fans, it’s Batman, Sam Kieth style
Worldstorm #2 - the Wildstorm anthology series, totally not necessary.
Transformers Movie Prequel #1 and Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness #1 - two movie related comic ventures that did absolutely nothing for me… but the second look at Transformers Movie Prequel #2 warmed me a little. MZvsAoD second look coming this week.
Phonogram #5 - rocked it, as usual.
The Authority #1 and 2 I loved but it’s coming out at a drunken snail’s pace.
Shazam! Monster Society of Evil #2 - nope, still not working for me
Nat Turner Vol. 2 - Revolution - a challenging but vital read
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 #1 - Joss Whedon returns to his most famous creation, carrying on where the tv series left off. And it’s fun.
A Late Freeze - a bizarrely beautiful one-shot in panoramic format.
American Elf Book 2 - James Kolchaka’s Sketchbook Diaries… like a blog, but done on paper, in cartoon form.
Essex County Vol. 1 - Tales From The Farm - so utterly Canadian, hauntingly familiar
The Brave and the Bold #2 - sure to be the funnest comic book of the decade. Love it.
Wonderland #3 - the continuing adventures of Disney’s Wonderland, AA (After Alice). Great reading.
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50 - fantasy writer Tad Williams hops aboard and… guh.
Fantastic Four #544 and Black Panther #26 - the new Fantastic Four featuring Storm and Black Panther actually has me excited… but I’ll need a few issues to warm up to it in execution.
Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol.9 - classic ’60’s Legion and hardly affordable prices… silly as all hell.
Virulents One-Shot - Virgin Comics puts out a war-horror that’s truly excellent.
Action Comics #847 - Dwayne McDuffie writes a hell of a fill-in issue, with stunning art by Renato Guedes
Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper - from the director of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels comes this rather pedestrian action comic suitable for a DTV Jean Claude or Seagal feature. Meh.
27 review, one month, and I’m not the only one doing reviews for the Raid!!! You should be going there at least once weekly… you really should.
Have I even posted an update about the goings-on over at Rack Raids in the past month?
It’s been a long three weeks, in any case… with one week being rather light on the Raidage, at least from me, due to illness (still did manage to pump one out though).
Soo, starting with the return of Captain Marvel in Shazam! The Monster Society Of Evil #1 (decent but also confusing and not as kid friendly as I had hoped), I then took a dose of yearly magic with the Action Comics Annual #10 (it’s funny that a comic that’s been around 70 years has only 10 annuals).
I couldn’t stop there, no! I had to take another look at Utopiates since the second issue was so much better than the first. But as the facts of life teach you, you take the good and you take the bad, like the end of Steel’s story in 52 week 40 contrasting against the end of Elongated Man’s saga in 52 week 42.
I received, to my delight, a copy of the Heartbreak trade which I had originally reviewed in my early days at Thor’s Comic Column. It’s a beautiful edition, worth a look for the lovelorn.
The week of sick saw me catch up on my thrizzles, with a review of the latest Tales Designed to Thrizzle. Awesomeness incarnate it is. But I bounced back with one of my best review weeks ever:
Brave and the Bold #1 - classic superheroics
Rex Libris #7 - not only reads better every issue but keeps looking better too
Ex Machina: Inside the Machine - supplementary creative material for fans with money to spend only
Local #8 - which is just like Shopgirl, only in Chicago instead of LA
Gear trade paperback which was the groundworks for the awesome cartoon “Catscratch”, but this isn’t for the wee ones.
Checkmate Vol. 1: A King’s Game - which is awesome espionage and politics with superheroes.
There’s a lot of reading on the raid outside of my reviews… Civil War gets a crackdown, Stephen King’s Dark Tower comic, Hellboy animate and more. RackRaids.com my friends. We’re the only “just reviews” comic book website on the internets (that’s not an actual fact, but it could be!)
Please, to all the Chicken Littles who keep running around decreeing the death of the comics industry:
“According to the ICv2 White Paper presented at the Conference, graphic novel sales through retail stores in the U.S. and Canada were around $330 million at retail last year, compared to $310 million in sales of comic periodicals. This is the first time since the origination of the comics medium that book format comics have outsold traditional comic books. The $640 million total also represents the highest sales for the comic and graphic novel market since the early 90s.”
Sigh. It’s not dying… it’s changing… perhaps not fast enough, but it’s hardly time to start writing it off. More breakdown of the the numbers (purely hypotheticals mind you) in the link.
Toast, please reply
It seems to me that the marketing meme of positioning manga as an empty-calorie gateway for “real comics” is getting a little out of control. It’s like manga is nothing but mashed peas or strained apricots, perfectly fine until you have all of your teeth and can start enjoying solids, but nothing a person of discernment would ever favor, provided they knew what else was out there.
Toast, remind me what you told me yesterday about Manga as it’s seen in Japan…
This week, on very special episode of Rack Raids:
Tina finds that the Annihilation mini-series comes to an end… tears fall. Meanwhile, Andrew reads The End and picks those tears right up out of the sand, clutching them close to his heart.
But wait… Tubby Tommy comes along eating a big bucket of Ultimate Civil War: Spider Ham, his pudgy face and impeccable one-liner timing bringing a smile to our lovelorn couple.
But even though everyone was smiling, it had to come to an end when Reggie unleashed Firestorm upon Tina, the insults turning her mouth into the bad smile. Just when you think it couldn’t get worse, Tina’s father had bad news, her sister went into a coma with JLA Classified.
Despair was ready to take hold, but Tommy proclaimed that hope was not lost with Superman: Back in Action. And Tina’s dog Rufus finally got his cast removed after his dramatic and poignant encounter with Mr. Big
Here’s what you missed on Rack Raids this past week, Cochese (with one “word” descriptions):
Silencers tpb - espionagariffic
Majestic: Strange New Visitor tpb - dimajestical
Mike Carey’s One-Sided Bargains One-Shot - Devilectible
Fallen Angel vol.2: Down To Earth - seedylicious
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-heroes #26 - roboradicool
Crossing Midnight #3 - Japanastycal
Silent War #1 - Inhumangering
X-Factor #15 - x-frackinghellthisisgood
Fantastic Four #542 - fantastounding
There’s lots of other good reviews from the other lads, including one that got 5 out of 5 M.O.D.O.Cs!