Sunday, January 15, 2017

Aircraft Carrier

I play Heroclix, as most of you know, and I occasionally like to make myself maps for the game.

This is of a type I have wanted for some time: a water-based where aquatics figures can swim under a ship.  The top portion is the ship itself (the amphibious assault ship the USS Tarawa (LHA-1), as a matter of fact), with some appropriate aircraft (a Harrier, three Blackhawks, and six Hueys) on the flight deck as hindering terrain, and the bridge as elevated and blocking terrain.

The bottom portion is the areas of the sea beneath the ship and the surface of the sea. A figure on the surface of the sea (as marked in dark blue) can 'descend' to the lower sea as part of its regular movement.  The hindering terrain under water even effects aquatic figures, who need to slow in it and have a harder time seeing, after being on the bright surface.  Landhuggers can get by on this map, but they are going to be pretty badly outclassed by aquatic or even flying figures.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Is this the end of the arc, viewers?! Tune in every other week to find out. One hint: the best may be yet to come.

For way too long, longer than it seems -- and it seems pretty darned long-- comic book writers have been 'writing for the trade'.  It's a bad thing: it's an EVIL thing, which is why I included in the Seven Deadly Enemies of Comic Books and my list of things DC needs to fix with Rebirth.

Back in the Golden Age, and even more so in the Silver Age, writers were about efficiency: "how much story can I pack into x number of pages, before lunch?"

It's not some ancient lost art; check out "22 Stories in a Single Bound!" if you doubt that it can still be done..

But in the last, what, 15 years, writers seem intent on taking a story--any story--and figuring out how to stretch it to last six whole issues.

Here's a perfect example: my comparison of the first four panel's of the Silver Age's "The Monster That Loved Aqua-Jimmy!" with the first four ISSUES of Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America.  In fact...that post says everything that I feel like saying about 'long-form' comics writing in general.

Except this: thanks, DC.  Look, I've been impressed by DC's willingness to swallow its pride and say, "Dan Didio is a blind fool who totally belongs at Marvel and doesn't get the DCU or its fans at all."

I'm sorry.

I meant to type, "we admit we made a mistake in our directions after the New52 and DCYou."

Late on-set wisdom? Or mere survival instinct? Not sure I care at this point, as long as **** gets fixed.  As I've mentioned before, it's been very heartening to watch DCU re-embrace its heroic ideal, return to the classic elements of its characters, and double-down on its most iconic figures as the pillars of their line.    Still I didn't really imagine that they would go so far as to start abandoning 'tradewriting' as their default mode.  I had sensed a change in what I was reading; since Rebirth, I have often find myself saying, "Oh; well THAT happened right away, then!"  But I had attributed to that to DC hurrying to get on track and to the fact that major books are coming out twice a month, rather than monthly.

Now I see that it is more than that.

So again... thank you, DC.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Martian Manhunter: My Version

I gave you your chance recently to share here your visions for the Martian Manhunter.  Now here's mine.

My guidelines generally are: stick as close as you can to the original classic version of the character; incorporate beloved later elements judiciously and in a way consistent with the classic context; provide a context that allows for solo story-telling but permits connections to the larger DCU and opportunities for crossovers; whenever possible, use existing story elements from the DCU and the character’s past.

My version of the Martian Manhunter would look like the following.  

The Martian Manhunter is from Mars; a Mars in a parallel universe, where Mars is Earthlike, perhaps even occupying Earth’s orbital slot in its solar system.  If there is an Earth in that solar system, it is lifeless.
[Believing in the distant long-dead world of Krypton is one thing.  But Mars is a real-world place that we know, which doesn’t have Martians and if it I did they certainly wouldn’t be like the Manhunter.  He IS from Mars; just not OUR Mars (or Mars-1, I suppose). It’s a simple, minimalistic fix.]

The Martian Manhunter was brought to Earth by Dr. Saul Erdel in an experiment in transdimensional outreach that accidentally kills Erdel. 
[People parallel universe hop all the time in the DCU.  This is a solution that uses the tools at hand.]

The Martian Manhunter lives in Apex City, a metropolitan area in the northern Atlantic coast of Florida.
[Been over this before.  Heroes need a homebase, ideally a fictionopolis that can be tailored around their storytelling needs.]

His real name is J’onn J’onzz
[This is very ingrained. He’s called J’onn J’onzz almost often as he is called The Martian Manhunter.]

He has some powers natural to his race, such as shapeshifting and some psi ability. Back home, the psi ability allows people to identify one another regardless of any temporary shape.
[J’onn’s powers should be Martian in origin, but the idea of an entire planet of ultra-powerful beings isn’t necessary or realistic.]

The experiment that brought him here altered and amplifies some of those natural abilities.  Specifically he can redirect his psi power to do things impossible on his own world and not all of which he intuitively realizes.  When he is in his ‘human form’ he is mostly human and his ability to use his other powers is more limited.
[J’onn should not be merely as powerful as any other Martian, he should be a plus-up.  Many of J’onn’s expected power set – intangibility, invisibility, low-grade telekinesis—were originally portrayed as requiring effort. J’onn should be able to do those things but only with focus and only one at a time, like a present-day Ultra Boy.  Also, J’onn has often displayed odd and inconsistent power use; instead of denying that, own it.  This limitations of his human form give him a reason to change in the Martian Manhunter.]

The experiment that brought him here gave him a ‘tap’ into the energy generated by the interdimensional tension between his universe of origin and the Earth-1 universe.  This is a sort of “Martian Speed Force” that makes him super-human rather than just Martian.   He can redirect this energy to temporarily become superstrong or superfast.  But his applications of those powers are limited by the fact that they are not inherent. For example, when superstrong he’s not as supersturdy as he needs to be to use it fully and safely.  When superfast, his reaction time doesn’t keep up, so he’s limit to short sprints and non-traveling uses of superspeed, like spinning or vibrating.
[A further extension of the “Ultra Boy” limitations that are required to keep the character from becoming over-powered.  Also, it helps justifies why he tends to use his powers in odd and indirect ways.]

Emitters of certain wavelengths of black body radiation, most especially fire, interrupt his connection to this force, rendering him vulnerable and cutting off the source of much of his power.
[Fire being J’onn’s kryptonite is, admittedly, stupid.  But that’s how it is.  Gotta find a simple way for that to work.  A simple pseudo-science hand-wave is a lot cleaner than an overly dramatic psychosomatic PTSD condition from some Martian tragedy.]

The experiment that brought him here changed his ‘polarity’; Jo'nn can’t return to his own universe (“Mars-55”).  If he does, he’ll die after a short time.  Other beings from his Mars can show up here, but they have a similar limitation and cannot stay.
[J’onn used to have his own story; his home existed but he couldn’t go back to it.  He deserves that, rather than just being a Superman-lite, just another ‘sole survivor’.  This set-up allows for him to visit Mars and receive visitors, good and bad. This keeps Mars in the storyline but prevents it from dominating the storyline.]

He has a brother named T’omm.
               [If you are going to own the stupid, might as well own it all.]

T’omm has a daughter named M’gann.
[Miss Martian is one of the most well liked and refreshing additions to the MM story ever and is worth keeping.]

In some attempt by his family to rescue J’onn so he can return home, M’gann is stranded on earth.  She is altered as he was, but she can spend up to half her time on Mars safely.  Her powers manifest slightly different than his and less strongly 
[This provides a reason for J’onn to be raising a teenage niece. She can be available or unavailable, whichever the story may require. Her story becomes a hopeful best-of-both bicultural story rather than his poignant immigrant making a new life for himself in a new world but still longing for home.]

He has a human secret identity as Hank Henshaw.
[If no one knew the name “J’onn J’onzz”, it would make sense to once again use ‘John Jones’ as the name of his secret identity. But LOTS (in the DCU) does use the name J’onn when they talk to him; a lot.  Even if you try to editorially declare that they shouldn’t do that … they will.  It’s a habit too ingrained. We LIKE calling him J’onn and hearing him called that.  He’s already going by another civilian ID in, the Supergirl tee vee show. Might as well use that, particularly since the ‘Hank Henshaw’ who used to exist in the comics doesn’t any longer and isn’t likely to.]

Hank Henshaw is a black American.
[MM has been consistently voiced by black Americans and portrayed by them on television. Go with it, particularly given the recurring theme of racial strife on Mars.  It’s also an interesting situation with his niece “Megan” being white.]

He has a job, though he is financially comfortable without one.
[The freedom to adventure that wealth permits was a key reason that many Golden Age characters were wealthy socialites.  MM doesn’t need to be RICH, but hey… if you can draw gold from seawater with your mind and can shape shift, there is no reason you WOULDN’T make yourself financially stable, first thing.]

He is a detective.  Ideally, he works for the local police department. Usually his job is routine and his array of powers make it easy, which leaves him time for other adventures.  He could also be merely a police consultant or a PI, but if so he still needs close ties to the local police, who will supply part of his supporting cast (friendly but indolent Captain Harding, sturdy but dim Officer Mike Hanson, perceptive and witty Detective Diane Meade).
[A core element, forgotten by too many subsequent iterations of the character.  MM is a noir-ish gumshoe/police procedural AND a sci-fi alien; that is the hook of the character. Lose either of those and you have lost the character. If he’s not a detective then he’s not a “Manhunter”.]

Apex City does have its share of crime, but it’s usually weird (giant bank-robbing robot bears, Mr. Moth, the Human Squirrel).  J’onn likes it there because (1) he’s less likely to seem out of place there and (2) it reminds him of his home planet.
[As Batman has taught us, heroes benefit from having their own fictionopolis with its own character, particularly if that character reflects the hero.  MM is weird; Apex is weird.]

J’onn has a pet dog, Jupiter, a dachshund, with special powers.  He used to have another ‘pet’, the other-dimensional being Zook.  Zook has already passed away (a result of being stuck in the wrong universe), but before doing so somehow passed along some of his powers to Jupiter as a memento.  As a result Jupiter has a share of Zook’s powers of limited speech, elasticity, can radiate heat/cold, and can identify anyone he has met before regardless of disguise.  These powers are used more for comic relief than as plot points, although Jupiter might, on occasion, save the day. 
[Having a pet humanizes J’onn and makes sense for a lonely alien. Perhaps Mars-55 has no dogs and he finds them novel.  Superman and Batman have dogs; why not J’onn?  Zook, however, was annoying naked monkey/toddler and off-kilter and simply wouldn’t cut it nowadays.  He basically functioned as a dog does anyway. This solution just combines the best of both Silver age pets. And gives J’onn a pet that reflects his character.]

J’onn is a auxiliary member of the Justice League, but seldom as a combatant.  J’onn is often asked to deal with the odd situations that don’t take place close enough to anyone else’s home, because he’s got the time. 
[J’onn’s association with the Justice League is pretty much the source sole of his fame among readers. The fans of JLU who think of J’onn as ‘the heart of the League’ (despite the reality of the character in comics) need something to hold on to.]

J’onn has an A.I., L-Ron, whose main function is digital valet and JL monitor duty.  The League relies on them to keep tabs on anything that might require group attention, and on J’onn to take care of anything that doesn’t.  They are assisted by Lucas ‘Snapper’ Carr, a graduate student in linguistics who specializes in slang.
[L-Ron and Snapper are, of course, previous JL ‘sidekicks’ whose interactions with J’onn can help capture some of the comedic tone of their eras without involving any of  the more ‘serious’ Leaguers.]

Roy Raymond, an actor who plays a detective on teevee but who also likes to play one in real life, is J’onn’s friend and frequent wing-man, and often winds up dragging J’onn into various non-super mysteries.  Roy isn’t aware that he’s not a very good detective and is always in over his head without J’onn.  Roy thinks J’onn is his Watson, but the situation is actually the opposite.  J’onn likes Roy because Roy tries to help people even beyond his reasonable capacity to do so.  Also, Roy enjoys the limelight and J’onn does not.  Besides, J'onn is a big fan of the show and patterned himself after Roy's character.
[Roy Raymond, TV Detective, was of course the OTHER back-up feature in Detective Comics at the same time the Martian Manhunter was.  A good excuse to drag J’onn into anything not easily fit into normal Apex PD/JL business.]

J’onn has a few other oddball friends, including his investor Larry Loder, wealthy amateur inventor Hiram Horner, newpaper editor Jim Wade.

[Because J’onn is an odd character, it’s helpful to surround him with characters even odder to help ‘normalize’ him.  It’s how he became the Straight Man in the Giffen League; it’s how producer managed to build a long-running TV series around a long-running tertiary character, Frasier Crane.]

If this conception of the Martian Manhunter seems unoriginal...good. That's what I'm going for.  Constant 'new and original' takes on classic characters who became classic for a reason are foolish and "Rebirth" is pretty much DC's admission of that fact.  

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Justice for Martian Manhunter

I demand justice for the Martian Manhunter.

Not attention, mind you; justice.  DC is all too willing to give attention to the Martian Manhunter. But usually it's to mangle the crap out of him or make him into a problem.  Why is J'onn upset / crazy / hiding in the Satellite / not in the League at all / disguised as a cat / vulnerable to fire / black / white / dead / alive / reanimated / split into four or more beings / completely deceived / completely deceptive / crippled / more power than Superman ?  Is he really from Mars?  How long has be been here? Is he an icon or actually a supporting character rather than even a main one?  Is Mars there? Is it gone?  Is he stranded? The last of his kind?

DC's trouble dealing will the Martian Manhunter makes me think of Anselm's riff on Augustine:

For I do not seek to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order to understand. For I believe this: unless I believe, I will not understand.

It sounds less stupid in Latin.  Still, Anselm and his 'motto' are often used as perfect examples of how dumb religious thinking can be.  It's the kind of thinking-- unthinking? -- that leads people to accept something wrong as fact and make everything else fit around it.  It's a bit like redecorating the house to make your fake plant happy.  There's quite a lot of it going around lately.

It can be quite destructive.

But it has its applications.  For example, in many approaches to self-transformation -- 12-step programs, for example -- belief that you can be different must come before understanding how you can be different.

And it's the key, I think, to doing justice to the Martian Manhunter.  You can't try to understand him first; you have to just believe in him and then go from there.

This, by the way, seems to be the crux of the magic that Geoff Johns works when he rejiggers messed up characters back from literary limbo and into a state of grace.  He returns to their roots, identifies their essential mythic elements, accepts them without judgment, and tries to arrange them in the most efficient way possible, using tools at hand in the DCU rather than inventing new ones.  This helps the character's new interpretation feel familiar, accurate, and organically developed.  He's done it countless times and yet no other writers seem willing or able to follow this path.

And it's the only way to deal with the Martian Manhunter, because, let's face it: he makes zero sense. No use rehashing that here, we all know that. But what happens if you just ... believe?

An overview of his original stories gives us a picture something like this.

An elderly earth scientist named Saul Erdel conducts an experiment with a device that accidentally brings a man named J'onn J'onzz to earth from his home planet of Mars.

Pictured: old guy takes too many party drugs at a disco.

Erdel dies in the process, and J'onnz, unable to return home, decides to make himself useful as a police detective while he waits for an opportunity to return home.  He uses his natural shapeshifting ability to pass as a human being and has no confidantes; he is not publicly known as 'the Martian Manhunter' but only as an 'earth self', Detective John Jones.  He uses his various powers secretly to aid in his detective work.

Batman fights villains.  Superman fights enemies.  Wonder Woman fights foes.
Flash fights rogues. Green Lantern fights head injury. Green Arrow fights ridicule.
Martian Manhunter fights ... crime-mongers.  Because everything he does it just a

He has some physical powers, most of which involve body control (shapeshifting, phasing, invisibility).  He seems to be able to use superspeed, but it seems limited to very short distances or non-mobile applications (spinning, rubbing his hands together, snapping his figures, vibrating his hand).  He relies a lot on super powerful  lungs and that seems to be his main way of acting from a distance.  His vision can see things earthlings cannot but he doesn't quite have Superman's four vision powers (microscopic vision, telescopic vision, heat vision, X-ray vision).

Pictured: Martian gaydar.

He has mental powers that he can apply in a variety of ways (such as limited telekinesis), but not telepathy or psychic power, as we understand their use in comics.  He tends to use his powers one and a time rather than combining them. He cannot fly.  He is debilitated by the presence of fire and must avoid it.

He combats mostly regular criminals and rarely a costumed but not super villain.  He occasionally combats other extraterrestrials, sometimes ones from his home planet; they are always returned home but he is not.  Martian life continues in his absence; he has family there (parents, a brother, but neither mate nor offspring).

I'll bet you a thousand dollars her name is M'Art'a.

Martians seem to look and dress a lot alike, but they have variations in skin tones, at least.

Or B'rett just needs some time at the solar salon.

Eventually the existence of a Martian superhero is revealed and immediately accepted by the earthlings of his city (which, for almost all his run remains unnamed; the city is on the sea and doesn't experience winter).

"Do ya have Chocos on Mars, son?  I've got a ten-pound bag in my desk, if you'd care to give 'em a try."

He acquires a small supporting cast over time.  Including some one-shot friends (Larry Loder, Hiram Horner), continuing colleagues (Captain Harding, Diane Meade, Mike Hanson), and pets (one-shot Jupiter the dog and an extradimensional creature named Zook).

I have given a name to my pain, and call it 'Zook'.

He became a member of the Justice League, and was seen occasionally teaming up with other non-Trinity members (such as Green Arrow and the Flash).

Lots of shenanigans happened with him in subsequent eras and the transitions that preceded them.  But those are the basics.  What can we do with those?

I'll give you MY answer in my next entry.  But for right now feel free to give me yours.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Justice for Hawkman

I demand justice for Hawkman.

DC, to its credit,  has done a solid job righting its floundering New52/DCYou ship with its "Rebirth" changes.  In Rebirth it seems that DC has finally shaken off its insecurity issues and stopped trying to ape its 'cooler' schoolyard rival, Marvel.  DC has embraced the idea that its heroes should (a) good people and (b) BETTER people than we are and that (c) that should inspire us not depress us. The current Bat-titles are a good bellwether: despite facing some gruesome situations and personally challenging events, Batman himself remains hopeful, focused on doing good, and eager to work with others to make that happen.  Rather than Gotham debasing Batman, Batman ennobles Gotham.

"I don't mean to be critical, Carter, but... straighten up and fly right already.  You're embarrassing the rest of us."

Hats off to DC also for finally focusing on putting all its top icons on solid footing first before fussing about the fates of Space Cabby, Detective Chimp, and G'nort, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash -- I (and others) are buying ALL their books again, because they are doing interesting, engaging stories that are not dependent on severe distortions of what the character is or what they are personally like.  If I'm not reading Green Lantern and Green Arrow it's not because they aren't on solid footing. It's because they are still Green Lantern and Green Arrow, after all.

Jeez, just get a room, boys.

So I am afforded the luxury of worrying about some of DC's Second Tier icons, like Hawkman, The Atom, Martian Manhunter. DC's clearly got something in the works for the Atom, which, along the lines of what they are doing with Blue Beetle, will stabilize the IP by incorporating both the Silver/Bronze Age version (Ray Palmer) and the Iron Age version (Ryan Choi).  Martian Manhunter...well, he's going to need a post all his own.  Which brings us to Hawkman.

Is it REALLY that hard to figure out what to do with Hawkman, people?

DC is doing...something with Hawkman.  I've not been reading it, I'll admit, but killing Hawkman and pairing him with Adam Strange (again) doesn't strike me as doing him justice.  Focusing on the space-base version of his legend has limited lasting appeal, I think. Hawkman works best, ironically, when he's more grounded.

"Look, Ollie, Barry may have the patience for this sort of treatment, but I do not."

Geoff Johns did it (and thanks to James Robinson, created a new fictionopolis for Hawkman).  Gray and Palmiotti did it in Hawkman's 2002-2006 series.  They managed to fold in a farrago of Hawkman's forgotten foes (Hummingbird, Lasso, the glorious Fadeaway Man, Lion-Mane, the Thought Terror, Trygg the Sorceror, Satana, the Purple Pilgrim) in a story that had high stakes, evil villains, and character growth.  It can be done again, and without expecting us to care about Thanagar and stupid stupid Rann.

I can't respect a planet that can produce neither heroes nor zoning regulations.

What do YOU think Hawkman deserves?

Friday, December 23, 2016

Pantsuit Prince and the Inscrutable Ching

Because nothing says 'holiday hatred' like...

Pantsuit Prince and the Inscrutable Ching!

"Even blind I can see how desperate you are, Diana.  And, frankly, it makes you really bitchy. Well... bitchier.  No human being in their right mind would try and set you up with someone and be responsible for the resulting carnage and misery.  Fortunately, we have machines for that now. " 

"You want me to use a computer-dating service? I'm surprised you even know what dating is, you sexless old husk."

"Yo mama wouldn't be.  Trust me, Diana; you just need a really good"

"Ugh. Since you'll never shut up it otherwise, I'll fill this in and submit it.  With your information instead of mine. And you'll never even know." 

"I mean, I assume Amazon young are spawned asexually like fish eggs or some such, since you have no men to father children.  I's not like you're HUMAN, after all."

"You do NOT want to know about sex on Paradise Island, old man; trust me."

"Surprise, princess.  I got you a horde of sword-wielding maniacs to battle for Christmas."

"Oh, Ching! You DO care!"

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Daredevil Dilemma

If I didn't know better, I'd say that DC's plan for Green Arrow is to screw him up/over so severely that we all simply take PITY on him and buy his book. Try to slog through this long excerpt from a recent Newsarama article about the current state of Green Arrow in DCU continuity.

As DC's "Rebirth" relaunch has reached its sixth month in December, several of the publisher's key titles are also reaching their twelfth issue. For Green Arrow, that means the twice-a-month title has had time to do more than just bring back Oliver Queen's goatee. Since the comic book kicked off with a new #1 in June, Ollie's been betrayed by many of the people he once trusted, lost his status and possessions, and was even marooned on an island yet again.
In our ongoing series marking the 12-issue point of most "Rebirth" titles, Newsarama takes a look at what has happened in Green Arrow and what may be coming next for the Emerald Archer.
The first issue of Green Arrow had a shocking final page revelation - not only was the CFO of Ollie's company part of a criminal organization, but assisting him were Oliver's half-sister Emiko and her mother, the master assassin Shado.
Oliver is drugged and dumped into the ocean, although Emi's betrayal is questionable, because she secretly plants a tracker on Ollie so his tech guru Henry can find him.
After a couple weeks healing, Ollie finds out that his name has been disgraced and everyone thinks he's dead. His former CFO, Cyrus Broderick, has taken over the company, and all of Ollie's possessions have been destroyed or liquidated.
Ollie vows to bring to justice the organization behind the attack - a group called the Ninth Circle that's headquartered in the "Inferno," their floating home base. He tries to infiltrate his own former office building to confront Cyrus, but Ollie ends up in a trap and has not only alerted the organization that he's alive, but Shado is on his trail.
Separately, Ollie's old ally John Diggle and Black Canary are investigating the Ninth Circle on their own. Canary makes her way into the Inferno, but is discovered, while Diggle finds out that the Ninth Circle is a bank that secretly funds crime around the world. He teams up with Green Arrow (after an awkward - and even angry - reunion) to try to free Dinah and take down the Inferno.
It becomes obvious to readers that Emiko's heart just isn't in this "betray all my friends" stuff, because she helps Dinah get free from the Circle. By the end of the Inferno battle, the floating base has exploded and Dinah, Ollie, and Diggle have all escaped onto what appears to be a deserted isle.
Over the course of all these adventures, readers find out that Emi and Shado haven't exactly been freely attacking Ollie and friends as part of the Ninth Circle. Emi is actually acting as a sort of double agent, trying to bring down the Ninth Circle and free Shado from a nasty Yakuza boss named Oyabun, to whom their family owes a blood-debt.
After some cool flashbacks to a story featuring the Clock King - a seemingly new version of the character for "Rebirth" - Emi fights Oyabun for her mother's freedom. Although Oyabun ends up turning into a dragon - no, really - Emiko wins with help from Shado as they blow Oyabun's lair up.
Meanwhile, back on the island (no, this isn't the same island from Ollie's origin, but it's pretty freaky on its own), Diggle, Dinah, and Ollie have to deal with a couple people who've been negatively affected by the Ninth Circle. Ollie realizes that Queen Industries (and its money) played a huge part in setting up the Ninth Circle's network. He's none too happy 'cause the "Rebirth" version of Oliver Queen is a social justice warrior.
Eventually, the three escape on a high speed transatlantic train (called The Empire Empress) that Ollie's father designed. The train carries some nasty chemicals, as well as some political figures, including the aforementioned Cyrus Broderick.
Even though he and his friends are stowaways, Ollie just can't stay hidden. After a villain tries to poison the dignitaries, Oliver and company become embroiled in a battle that concludes with a bomb.
Everyone important escapes the madness alive, but Green Arrow and friends are being blamed by the news media for all the trouble. News reporters in Seattle have acquired security footage from Queen Industries that confirms that Green Arrow broke in there a while back, and the superhero is being connected with the wreck of The Empire Empress, as well as the death of one of the diplomats on board.
With Green Arrow #12, the team of Dinah, Diggle, and Ollie have set up a tree house base of operations outside Seattle and Oliver gets back into the business of saving people's lives. The issue sets up the next storyline, titled "Emerald Outlaw," which involves a politician named Nathan Domini and another nefarious plot by Cyrus Broderick to get rid of Green Arrow.
According to DC's Direct Currents magazine, the next story arc will have Ollie framed as a murderer, and Domini will use the grisly deaths as a campaign issue in his bid for the mayor's office. "As Green Arrow looks further into the murders, he soon realizes that it must be someone he knows," the issue promises.

The nicest thing I can say about all this would be: at least Ollie's not a werewolf.  "Everyone important escapes the madness alive," this synopsis says; apparently I'm not important.  The only way I have of escaping this madness is by not reading it.  

It takes a lot for me to feel sympathy for Green Arrow; well, that (above) sure is a lot.  But I feel more sympathy for Green Arrow's readers than for him.  Green Arrow writers seems to be stuck in the Daredevil Dilemma: the only time Daredevil ever achieved any popularity was when one writer decided to destroy him and everything around him and make him fight his way back inch by inch from devastation.  

This seems to be the default approach to Ollie for some time now, and it's, frankly, quite tedious.  Even I, who have negative respect for Green Arrow, acknowledge that THAT'S HIS ORIGIN STORY.  The man was SHIPWRECKED for Neptune's sake.  Continuing to 'shipwreck' him proves nothing, other than that you can't think of anything else to do with the character.   

Who's writing Green Arrow now? Is it still the same guy who thought making him a werewolf was a good idea?  Get your act together, DC Comics;  if DC Entertainment can give me a version of the Arrowverse I'm interested in, why can't you?  I hate Green Arrow and even I could do a better job than this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dr. Cyber defeats Wonder Woman!

Bad PR for Wonder Woman!  Her recent appointment as an honorary UN ambassador for the empowerment of female humans planetwide has been revoked.

Four key women (President of DC Entertainment Diane Nelson, director of the planned Wonder Woman film Patty Jenkins and that film's titular star, Gal Gadot, although with television's Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter) participated in a ceremony at the UN celebrating Wonder Woman's honor.  A substantial chunk of UN staff, however, weren't having it. Literally turning their backs on the procedings, they dissed Princess Spangle-Pants as #notmyambassador.

The FDA is still testing protesters for traces of the Reverso drug from Sensation #2.

They set up a successful on-line petition (garnering 45,000 signatures) to revoke the honor, excerpted below:

Wonder Woman was created 75 years ago. Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent “warrior” woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a “pin-up” girl. This is the character that the United Nations has decided to represent a globally important issue – that of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls. It appears that this character will be promoted as the face of sustainable development goal 5 for the United Nations at large. 
At a time when issues such as gender parity in senior roles and the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls is at the top of the United Nation’s agenda, including the “He for She” campaign, this appointment is more than surprising. It is alarming that the United Nations would consider using a character with an overtly sexualized image at a time when the headline news in United States and the world is the objectification of women and girls. The image that Wonder Woman projects (life-size cut outs of which have already appeared at UNHQ) is not culturally encompassing or sensitive –attributes the United Nations expects all its staff members to embody in the core value of respect for diversity.

Hm.  On the one hand I have to laugh at how completely wrong the first part of this is.  It seems to frame Wonder Woman as if she were originally a perfectly fine character and symbol of female empowerment who has since been debased through oversexualization.   The reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a “pin-up” girl.  No, the reality is that the character's EVERY incarnation has been been a white woman scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots, the epitome of a "pin-up girl".

Except for this one.  I wonder if this would be more to the UN staff's liking?

Gotta call foul on the 'large-breasted/of impossible proportions'. That IS a modern debasing. Golden/Silver/Bronze Age Wonder Woman wasn't breasty at all.

See? Much too hard to draw bondage scenes with big-breasts.  Marston liked breasts, I'm sure.
But I'm sure he liked bondage better.  Much better.

Wonder Woman's breasts aren't special. She's not Power Girl and never has been. She is generally drawn just like every other female comic book hero (if sometimes a bit taller).  But they ALL got hyperbreasty some time in the '80s/'90s.  We can all name the artists at fault and picture the readers who rewarded them for it.

Truth is, this is Wonder Woman's 'current iteration', folks:

Tall, svelte; sure. But nothing that deserves condemnation as "impossibly proportioned."
As usual, the people who complain about comics loudly are people who don't actually read them. But their ignorance of Wonder Woman's precisely representation in the Golden Age and current one don't completely undermine the core of their complaints, which seem to be (1) WW is eye-candy and (2) she's a fictional character.

As for (1)...well, they are right.  Her creator was a shameless perv, as I have detailed through many posts, with evidence.  Wonder Woman was created as and for titillation for her author and those like him, and her outfit reflects his sexual fixation on majorettes.  Hence all the bands and marching in her Golden Age.  Why she doesn't have a Baton of Punishment I never figured out.

Even Marston realized that would be ridiculous.

While I concede WW's origins as a 'pin-up' style figure, I would side with the world's Lynda Carters and Gloria Steinems in believing that, as a character, Wonder Woman has risen above those origins to become a symbol of female empowerment for those cultures familiar with her.  As Carter said when interviewed:
"It's OK that not everyone agrees, but get over it and say, 'What else is new?'" The actress noted that she has weathered criticism of the role for years. "In the beginning, in the '70s, it was 'Well, she's objectified.' It's like, 'She's too tall, she's too this, she's too this.'"
I'm much more comfortable with her as an honorary UN ambassador than, for example, Winnie the Pooh (1998), who is whiny, stupid, fat, lazy, and gluttonous.  AND pants-less. At least Wonder Woman is wearing SOMETHING down there.

But then again...I'm not really the target audience, am I?  As Shazi Rafi, a former UN official and a proponent of the petition, put it:
"This whole issue of taking a cartoon figure who is clad in a bustier, with cleavage, high-cut shorts — a sort of muscled version of a Barbie — and saying 'This is what represents gender equality' is incredible. It's culturally insensitive. It's insulting."

It's really hard to say Rafi is wrong about that.  I think those of us who love Wonder Woman as a character and who have striven to view her and help others view her as a symbol of female empowerment bristle when Wonder Woman is condemned as sexist through what we perceive as "no fault of her own".  But when you reframe the question as Rafi has, it becomes not "How sexist/sexualized is the Wonder Woman character?" and more "Is this best way of representing the worldwide sociological issue we are trying to address?"

In this case, then, perhaps BOTH sides are right. I doubt that I would have signed the petition if I were a UN staffer. But I also doubt that I would have been blindly unaware in the first place as the UN seemed to be of the mixed message choosing Wonder Woman would send.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Sidekick Reassignment

Oh, dear! I dropped all my heroes and sidekicks and now they are all out of order. I'll have to reorganize them. Let's see...

Hm. Dick Grayson. "Robin".  Wears a red, green, and yellow costume.  Laughing daredevil.  Named after "Robin Hood",

Often stranded.

Okay; that's easy, then.  He's the perfect sidekick for ....

Green Arrow.

Lessee... Arsenal?  Troubled past; brooding; monochromatic.  Uses everything as a weapon.
Had an illegitimate child.

Okay clearly then he goes with...

"You'll know you failed this city the second you see me."