Sunday, May 17, 2015

So, if you perceive Supergirl as anything less than excellent...


...isn't the real problem: you?

No irony or sarcasm; I mean that.

Yeah, I bought it. The trailer for Supergirl.  Hook, line, and sinker.

Okay, sure, it begins hilariously like the SNL parody skit of a "Black Widow" movie. which absolutely every single person who has seen both has commented on.  Frankly, I think that's to its credit, rather than a criticism.

First, Black Widow and Supergirl are two very different characters. Black Widow is a kick-ass no-nonsense Russian killer ninja spy-chick human weapon assassin agent (with a heart of gold).  That's why depicting her as a ditzy, overwhelmed girl-in-the-big-city is so funny (and would be wrong).  But Supergirl's story -- like it or not -- has always been that of a young person struggling to fit in on her adopted homeworld, to be an ordinary person with extraordinary powers and responsibilities.  And that is the story the trailer tells.

In case you now just take it for granted, that's kind of Superman's story too, except he's farther along the path than Supergirl and had years with supportive parents to make the transition.  Clark Kent is wage-earner in a demanding media-based profession with a difficult boss in a big city.


Although one assumes Perry White hasn't had implants.
Yet.

And, essentially, so is Kara in the new trailer.  In the absence of a tv version of Superman, Kara Danvers becomes Clark Kent.  Finally, we will see the ONE thing we have never seen: Supergirl without Superman around to overshadow her.


You COULD have gotten a show where Linda Danvers is Governor of Florida.
So just be grateful.


Now, some would complain about showing Kara as a being hesitant or unfamiliar with her powers. That's not like Superman at all and it's demeaning to show her as an unconfident neophyte!  For those folks, I have one word: Smallville.  There was a series that showed Clark Kent doing exactly that...for ten years.


The Smallville Decade; It's really all just a "Blur".

Besides, nearly every superhero show starts with its hero getting powers and getting used to them (or to using them to Fight Crime).  It's part of helping the audience identify with the main character.


You know what else helps the audience identify with a character?
A horse.  A white horse that saves you in the nick of time.  It's just like the cavalry except without any guys sitting on it.

Is Kara a little goofy? Or course she is. So is Barry Allen.


Nice hat, Barry.


Almost everyone in their early 20s is goofy (particularly on teevee).  Even hyper-competent genius Felicity Smoak is goofy.


No, Felicity. It is not.


What do you expect Supergirl to be?



Super-FIERCE?!

 The show even tackles some of the sexist belly-shirt/hotpants horrors that have been forced on poor Kara through the years.


Fans: "SuperMAN would never wear that."
Me: "He would if they had hired Mario Lopez."



 Instead of searching for a man to bring meaning to her life, Kara chooses a life of heroing.  A choice she makes for herself, without interference from her (assiduously unnamed) cousin.


Potentially dangerous leg-distorting phenomena, I'll wager.


Good for her. I have spent years making fun of Supergirl for symbolizing futility and determinism and lack of free will.  Finally we have a Supergirl who makes choices. You can make fun of her all you want, but for now I am very much on her side.

However, I am still NOT down with 7-foot muscular super-model Jimmy -- oh, sorry, JAMES-- Olsen.  But I've made a decision.  I will soldier on as follows: I will simply assume that REAL Jimmy Olsen accidentally drank some potion at Prof. Potter's lab or was exposed to some alien artifact at the Fortress of Solitude that caused one of his trademark Amazing Transformations into this:




This is NOT "Superman's Pal".
This is more like "Scipio's Pal".

 My other issue is with Kara's semi-Cisco sidekick, who's posited as an unrequited love interest but smells much much much more like her Sassy Gay Friend.


He...could ALSO be my pal.  My sassy gay pal.

Particularly since all we see him do in the trailer is assume she's a lesbian and then help her pick out her outfit.  

C'mon, showrunners; it's time for a superhero to have a Sassy Gay Friend.  Heck...even Black Widow got one:



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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boycotting Bunnyman

Okay, let's talk about Bunnyman.


"I AM ORDINANCE! I AM THE HEIGHT!"


I'm sorry; I mean NuBatman.  Bat-Jim.  Gordonman.  Tick Gordon.  Whatever you want to call him.

I'm necessarily interested in discussing whether the idea of Jim Gordon playing the role of Batman makes any sense.   What does "make sense" even MEAN in the context of a comic book?  Jim Gordon shooting an orphan for no reason; THAT would make no sense.  Anything short of that is just comic books.

But I am interested in discussing some issues that it brings up.

THE ARMS RACE

Scott Snyder seems like a very nice, earnest, young man.  But after month after month of nothing but 'huge, game-changing stories', I'm convinced that's all he can do.  I make fun of the Bronze Age Batman a lot (and with good reason); but at least in the Bronze Age, they knew how to tell a one-issue, simple story that seemed meaningful and satisfying withOUT breaking all the toys.
"I would just say that Dark Knight Returns was a huge change," Snyder said. "'Year One' was a huge change. One of the things that was very heartening for me, when I was doing 'Zero Year,' was that a friend sent me a back-of-the-comic letter to Frank Miller when he did 'Year One,' and it's basically about how he was ruining Batman with 'Year One,' because he was making it so dark."
Plus, Snyder and Capullo have given themselves an "out" — they admitted to Newsarama that there's a plan for bringing Bruce Wayne back to life, although they stopped short of saying when or even if it would happen during their run.
"We would never, ever make a change like this unless we had a better story for all these characters," Snyder said, "including on the other side of that change."

I don't want to read stories because I have to, because they Change Everything.  I want to read stories simply because they are stories I want to read. Stories I deserve to read.  I can skip them and not be lost on all the developments in Gotham City, yes. But I don't skip them because I know I'll be missing out on an experience I will enjoy.  

The literary arms race in comics is out of control (at least in Gotham).  Every story is about an enormously far reaching past conspiracy that underlies everything unbeknownst to us (e.g., The Court of Owls; The Riddler took over all of Gotham City once, the immortal Joker); or Batman's Greatest Enemy doing his Greatest Evil (breaking up the Batfamily; figuring out Batman's secret identity, blowing up the batcave, cutting off his face, secretly becoming Batman's new pal, controlling the entire Justice League, cutting off Alfred's hand, killing himself and Batman); or a hinted game-changed future (Batman crucified on the batsignal, Gotham destroyed again, Catwoman is a crimelord, Batman's dead, Jim Gordon is Batman, my god nothing will ever be the same).

Frankly, I'm tired of it, and I would pay good money to read a story where Batman tries to catch a fur thief.  Not that there are still fur thieves. Or even furs.  But you know what I mean.


COMMISSIONER BENJAMIN BUTTON





'Nuff said.


THE INEVITABILIFICATION OF ELSEWORLDS.

Look, we are just start to recover from a generational obsession with making Kingdom Come a reality.  And now we've already started on the path with Batman Beyond.  Making 'the Powers Family" into a force in Gotham and one relevant to Batman just plays into that.  I don't want that for the same reason  I don't want to vote for a former president's wife, or son, or brother; I don't like being told that This Future Is Inevitable and You Will Like It Because You Have No Other Choice.




Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Iris of it all


Well, there's not much I can say to add to io9's 38 questions about the hilariously ridiculous season finale of Gotham.

But I can tackle the Flash and vent some pent up confusions and questions that other viewers my share....


  1. Who is signing Caitlin and Cisco's paychecks?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? That's driving me NUTS.
  2. "Caitlin good." Indeed.
  3. Ah, Clancy Brown.  Gen. Eiling sounds more like Grodd than Grodd does.
  4. Caitlin is really girly. And that's okay, because she makes it work.
  5. C'mon, Cisco; even I would have thought to put the anti-mind-control tech in a football helmet.  And we KNOW you have them there because you see one in the first episode.
  6. Have they tried just asking Gideon where Eobard is? Because you KNOW she knows.
  7. I have more respect for Iris now that Iris knows that everyone ELSE has no respect for her.
  8. Except Caitlin. Because Caitlin's good.
  9. Am I the only person who expected Joe to call him "Goldface"?
  10. Speaking of gold, what does Grodd want with gold?  Or does Wells want it? Or was it just a convenient lure for the Flash?  No, that makes no sense.
  11. Hey, they remembered the banana joke.
  12. When will Barry realize that he can THROW STUFF at someone other than the Pied Piper? Because I can't help but think Grodd wouldn't do well after being hit with a baseball at 300 mph a thousand times in a row.
  13. Speaking of whom, wouldn't some of Cisco's sonics come in handy against Grodd? Particularly since Barry can both wear earplugs AND run faster than the speed of sound?
  14. You know, you really should make funny of someone just because his name is "Eobard". Particularly when you're an adult who still calls himself "Eddie".
  15. Had to pause the playback when Joe called Iris "brilliant" just to laugh.
  16. Central City's sewer system has...open ground level doors that allow for a five-mile run-in?  Truly a weird place.
  17. Not being famous does not make you a failure, Eobard. Don't be rude.
  18. Who gets Wells' house?
  19. New Flash drinking game!  Drink every time Iris finds out that someone else knew something that she didn't.  You will NOT finish the show.
  20. My god are they actually fixing the hole in STAR Labs roof?!
  21. The Thawnes are my new favorite comedy duo.  "Ed, Eddie, and Eobard" would be a great show.
  22. It's ironic the Gen. Eiling is actually more interesting than Captain Atom
  23. Which is more annoying: Iris when she's wrong or Iris when she's right?.
  24. Does anyone else think that the way the Flash team finally defeats the Reverse-Flash is by giving him exactly what he wants and letting him go home?
  25. For that matter, did Barry ever considering saying, "Hey, Eobard, let's go back in time, un-kill my mother and Harrison Wells and then all work together to get you home, big guy?"
  26. Why the heck send Cisco out to get Grodd when CAITLIN is the one Grodd likes? Sexism much?!?!?





Friday, May 01, 2015

I Bet He Thinks This Post is About Him

And that's what matters most, isn't it, Ralph?
You getting applause...?


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Because you're RICH!



Where was I? Oh, yes; making the point that the Dibny's --the sainted sacrificial goats of the Silver Age -- were terrible people.


Did you know Ralph was the only super-hero who publicly revealed his true identity?


FLASH FACT!

And why?  Because he wanted to use it to get fame, and money, and a rich and famous wife.


"I WON you! Like the lottery!  And, like the lottery, you come with a lifetime supply of MONEY!"

Ralph was a vain, self-centered jackass.  Sue was an air-headed heiress who spent all her time shopping and laughing at Ralph's pretentions to fame.  This is not some later interpretation by a cruel, crude writer; this is how they were created.  All these panels are from 1964. 



Sue can barely contain her laughter at Ralph making a fool of himself.
"Sure, honey; tell 'em who you are. THEN we'll see what they say! *snort*"

Sue may not have a superpower (that she drinks from a bottle) but she does have Olympic-level passive-aggressive emasculation and derision skills. She trained with Iris West.

"I'm sure SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE must have heard of you!"
Holy crap, these two make Diana and Ching look like a mutual admiration society.

"Maybe you can HIRE someone to tell people who you are, so that I don't have to listen you to do in 24/7!"  Sue, born into fame and wealth as the heiress to the Dearborn fortune, is always amused by Ralph's bourgeois pretensions.

You think they were some kind of crime-solving duo, don't you?  Ha. Think again.  Sue has little time for Ralph's grubby field work, and would go shopping or to the theater while Ralph was doing his goofy, stretchy detecting.


"Here's a wad of cash that was in the glove compartment; knock yerself out."
"ooo! Great, honey! Hey, wait...! WHO'S GOING TO DRIVE MY CAR??!"
Because that's what matters most, Ralph.

World-famous elongated douchebag.

The Dibnys were terrible people, and your memories of them are false.

Here's a little haiku for Haikuesday. I call it, "Because You're Rich!"


BUT NOW I KNOW THAT
WINNING YOU WAS REALLY THE
HIGH POINT OF MY LIFE!


What haiku can you compose condemning the Dibnys, the heralds of our current culture of fame-seeking?

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Dibnys were terrible people and your memories of them are false

"Oh, the poor sainted Dibnys! How fun and innocent they were and how much we all loved them!"

How often have I heard someone say this about the Elongated Man and his wife, Sue?

Look; no one likes what Brad Meltzer did in Identity Crisis, and, yes it was a tawdry, pointless tarnishing of the Silver and Bronze Ages in a tasteless, muddled attempt to make the comics of our childhood seem more adult and less embarrassing, with an incoherent, unsolvable "mystery".  

On the other hand. it did give us this:


Ah, Jean; always so radiant.  Like plutonium.

Never look back, Jean; never look back.


But, somehow, the backlash against Identity Crisis has retroactively bleached the Dibny's into the symbols of comic book fun and niceness.  And people who don't know any better just keep parroting that as some sort of Given Fact of Continuity.

Well... I call bullshit.  

Most of the people who talk like that about the Dibny's haven't actually ever read one of their stories. Those who have, haven't done so since they were kids.  

Okay, sure, Ralph fought crime and Sue, well, she put up with Ralph.  But weren't anybody you'd want to know. Ralph was a fame-hungry gold-digger and Sue was a self-centered debutante.  Here's a prime example of the fun-filled Dibnys....


The Dibnys take vacation somewhere no one knows them and then are disappointed that no one knows them.


"Why read the paper if I'm not in it?"
Thank god these two died before Facebook and Twitter.

Then Sue has a paper-shredding conniption because she's not one of THE TEN MOST ADMIRED WOMEN IN AMERICA.  Why would anyone admire you, Sue? You married the Elongated Man.


"Never been so humiliated in your life"?!
Don't be ridiculous, Sue: You married the Elongated Man!

Ralph's only thought it, "Well, it's a pity you can't be more like ME, dear!" He can't even be bothered to cough up a "Oh, honey, I think you're MUCH prettier than Bella Abzug!"  


Although nobody rocked a high hat like Abzug.

Then Sue hulks out, because Sue is a crazy person.


Let's see Bella Abzug do THAT.

Why isn't there a Convergence issue where Sue Dibny and Jean Loring have taken over a domed city by simply killing everyone in it, one by one?  I'd read that. Repeatedly.

Ralph, being the jerk that he is, abandons his bridezilla to her envy-rage with a condescending PEK, because apparently Sue does this all the time, and he'll just buy her something later.


"I'll pick up a dozen American beauty roses and---charge them to Sue, because she's the one with all the money."

The Dibnys were terrible people and your memories of them are false.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

From RAGs to bitches

Ah, Ras Al-Ghul. The comic book Fu Manchu with the light shellacking of 'environmental concern' to make him shiny enough for the 1970s when he was created.


"Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, ... one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present ... Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man."
The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu


I have little love for RAGs.  Batman's rogues gallery of deformed and idiosyncratic gangsters may stink of the Depression-era Dick Tracy, but at least, like Batman, they are firmly rooted in urban cops and robbers. RAGs, however, is based on Edwardian-era British terror of the alien 'yellow peril' of Asian villains with inscrutable values and goals, bent only on the destruction of Western civilization.


Who would put a Fu Manchu knockoff in Detective Comics?!
Those '70s writers had no respect for tradition, I tell ya.

Decent criminals, of course, want to just steal some crap and maybe kill a few people along the way.

Fu Munchu, on the other hand, wants to kill everyone in what you would call 'civilization'. Just like Ras Al Ghul!

RAGs kind of fits on "Arrow" because, well, Green Arrow is SUPPOSED to be dumber than Batman is (his rogues gallery certainly is). Arrow is, after all, the guy who brings an arrow to a gunfight; pitting him against asian/assassin/ninja/sword people makes some thematic and tactical sense. And he has the same ridiculous sense of honor/drama that the GA crew do.  Batman does not have time to waste on your schoolyard swordfights, RAGs.  Librarians are being shot and pre-Incan moth idols are being stolen, even as we speak.

Even Liam "Darkman" Neeson couldn't make Ras Al Ghul cool.  Admit it; you barely remember him from the Bale-Batman trilogy, certainly when compared to the likes of the Joker, Two-Face, and the insidious Coleman Reese.


"You were supposed to UNDERSTAND. ... I'll MAKE you understand."


Characters like the Joker and Two-Face earned their street cred.  They showed up a long time ago and worked for it, for decades.  And doing some grubby **** too, like robbing chewing gum shipments and flower shops. DC just lazily 'ported in Ras Al Ghul and declared him a Big Bad-Ass through exposition, "OMG he knows who Batman is, and he has unlimited resources and a numberless army of faceless killers and lives in a mountain with a hot-to-trot daughter and is ancient and justified and can come back from the dead and wants to destroy the world!"  Yawn. Call me when he's stolen the Van Landorph emerald or fought somebody on a giant prop.  Because so far his major accomplishments have been...not destroying the world, and dying.  There are a lot of people who've done that.

Oh, and he spends a lot time on his retirement plan; marry off his daughter and find someone to take over his business.  He's Tevye the Supervillain.  On Arrow he's gone so far as to frame Ollie for murder because he wants him to take his place as head of the league of pointlessly evil Asians.  Fortunately, that's a idea so ridiculous that RAGs never tried it on Batman!

Except that time where he DID.



By disguising himself as a circus midget.


Oh, look; it is the head of a demon on a banner. 
What a strange but surely entirely coincidental thing.


WORDS!  Sure, I'm a fan of words...in moderation.  And this ain't moderation.  Comics books used to read as if they were written for a radio play.  Maybe it was because they thought readers were stupid and wouldn't understand the pictures. Maybe writers were paid by the word or were all frustrated novelists.  In the High Bronze Age, every Batman story started this way: with pretentious Vincent-Price-like palaver.  No matter! It is almost fitting.

Batman, at this point in the arc, is wanted and on the run from the GCPD, having been framed for the murder of Ra's Al Ghul and his daughter, Talia. You know, the only two people on earth with free and easy access to a magical mud bath that brings the dead back to life.  Naturally, we know he's not guilty, not because of Batman's code against killing, but because the incompetent Bronze Age Batman couldn't kill a butterfly with a bazooka.

In fact, the comic opens with a disguised Batman getting help from Jack Ryder.  Apparently the World's Greatest Detective needs a hack reporter to tell him that a lion's hair probably came from a visiting circus.


You get three guesses who the snake charmer really is.

This story checks all the 'circus setting' boxes. Suspicious sideshow? Check.  Wild chase through the Hall of Mirror? Check.  Acrobat attack? Check.



Bronze Age Batman NEVER shut up and what he said was always soul-crushingly stupid.
Goons fell over themselves to get knocked out first,
because the sooner they were unconscious the less they  had to listen to.




At some point Batman disguises himself as Ra's, which is stupid.  Which gets pointed out.


Clowns are Batman's kryptonite.

Some times Bronze Age Batman just seems like a giant kid playing at being Batman.  "Ah ha! But... I MYSELF am disguised as Ra's!  And then.... and then I jump at you!"  Stupid Bronze Age Batman.

Just like in Arrow, RAGS has framed Batman for murder so that Batman will give up Batmanning and become Ras Junior.  Batman tells him, "Take This Job and Shove It!"


Literally.

Batman is then attacked by a sharpshooter and a flaming knife-thrower. Um, it's the knives that are flaming, not the thrower. Batman hurls an arrow in the sharpshooter's gun barrel and catches the knife and throws it away.  Bronze Age Batman may be an idiot, but he's a savant at catching crap and throwing it back at you.  Just as Batman is about to be overwhelmed by a second acrobat attack, the Creeper saves his butt.  

The Creeper, by the way, was the "Captain Atom" of the 1970s. DC owned him and was damned determined to force him down your throat and make you love him.  Which is why the Creeper is such a beloved figure to kids and adults today!  With his own comic book, the cartoon, and of course the forthcoming feature film.  I can't wait till his live-action show crosses over with Captain Atom's!


This is so stupid I'm at a loss for words.
And I've written about evil Kryptonian space-cats in the Phantom Zone.

Batman is observant enough to see through RAG's midget-disguise...


Stupid Bronze Age Batman.
I think RAGs used to just show to keep him from accidentally killing himself.

...but not enough to notice that he threw a flaming dagger into a circus tent and set it on fire.  Which lets RAGs get away (again), but somehow gives Batman the evidence he needs to exonerate himself.  I guess he couldn't have just asked Gordon to dig up the 'corpses' before, could he?  Then there'd be no reason for a circus (either figurative or literal).  



Add "flipped my cork" and "oh, yeah" to the list of Things Batman Should Never Say.


So, that's how Ra's Al-Ghul seems to me still.  Wastes all his time like Sally Brown following around Linus Van Pelt, trying to make Batman (or, on tv, Green Arrow) love him. Lurking around circuses atndthe like, playing little "How to Host a Murder Mystery" parlor games.  Not destroying civilization, or anything bigger than a circus tent.

He's the enemy Green Arrow deserves.





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