Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wonder Woman's hobby

And what does Wonder Woman do in her spare time, kids?

That's right, you remember....!


Lynda Carter will be Grand Marshall of this year's Washington AIDS Walk.

Marching out in front.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Barry Allen defeats Genre Blindness

This panel...

is the beginning of the end.

The end of what? The end of innocence -- or at least, or genre blindness -- in comic books.

Genre blindness, as any fan of the TV tropes wiki knows, is the obliviousness that characters have toward the conventions of their own genre of fiction. Horror characters always head toward suspicious noises instead of away from them, rom-com characters deem endearing the kinds of stalker behavior that a real person would get a restraining order against, and DeGrassi students never notice that every time they say "whatever it takes", they are doomed to some horrible fate, failure, or embarrassment.

DeGrassi's "Drew"
I'm guessing that in this case "whatever it takes" would be
about three pomegranate cosmos
and a promise not to tell anyone the morning after.

As the flux capacitor is to time travel, so is genre blindness to genre fiction.

For decades, comic books pretty faithfully inked between the lines of their own genre blindness. Villains created death-traps rather than just sniping a hero, supporting characters saw nothing odd about middle-school kids spending their nights fighting gun-toting gangsters on rooftops, and heroes just assumed the villain must have drowned when he fell in the Nearby Natural Body of Water.

Yup. That's right, Robin;
we'll never see that pesky "Joker" fellow, again.

Genre blindness was nearly absolute in comics. Until...

a police detective decided to act like a real police detective.

Barry Allen, forensics expert, decides
to follow a line of supply to locate a suspect.

Yup. Barry Allen decided to take a more "real word" approach to tracking down perps.

Oh, everyone makes fun of Barry. Lord knows I do. He's a milquetoast, he's a geek, he's totally whipped by the ultimate shrew, Iris "Just Plain Mean" Allen.

And yet, Barry Allen is the DC man who sets trends, breaks boundaries, and flouts all rules.

Who led the return of superheroes to the front of comicdom and started the Silver Age? Who actually crossed the line and killed his archenemy? Who routinely flouted all laws of physics, even beyond the normal "accepting the superpower as real" rule, in nearly every story? Barry Allen.

Sorry, folks. We all love the Big Three, but on the whole they don't set trends, they just reflect them.
You never saw Barry Allen going in for this sort of pop-culture folderol;
Superman simply does not know shame.

As far as the medium goes, "the Trinity" simply aren't leaders. Conceptual innovation usually starts with edgier, less valuable properties, and spreads upward. That's a thesis we may very well explore later.

Certainly, the Trinity didn't blaze any trails away from Genre Blindness. Heck, they embraced Genre Blindness like a warm blanky. Genre blindness requires them to ignore the fact that, hey, those purple suits, and cat-shaped planes, and killer umbrellas.? The villains must get them somewhere; if we can figure that out we'd have a lead on finding them.

What would the Big Three do to find their enemies? Batman would have put a fake notice in the newspaper about the priceless Van Landorpf emerald being on public display as a way to lure the Joker/Penguin/Catwoman out into the open. Superman would have left Lois or Jimmy find the foe, probably by getting attacked. Wonder Woman -- oh, heck, she would have been off marching with the Holliday Girls, don't fool yourself. Nazis can't resist attacking all-girl college marching bands. A lot of guys are like that, actually.

It was Barry "the Flash" Allen who decided to take a more 'real-word' approach to finding his foes. Barry Allen just asked the same kind of question the police might ask in the real world: where did the crook get that wacky one-of-a-kind outfit? They must have bought them somewhere and if we can find out where, we can trace our way to the perp.

As goofy as this sounds -- particularly since Barry himself doesn't have anyone else make his superbly tailored and elaborate costume -- it is still a casting off of a genre blindness. As such I think it was the first step toward the world of comics we know now, where writers constantly apologize for or subvert the conventions of the genre.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Penitentiary Haiku

You are not Bruce Wayne.

And you know why you aren't Bruce Wayne?

It's not because you're not a polybillionaire. Or an Olympic-level athlete and the world's greatest fighter. Or the world's greatest detective or multidisciplinary scientific genius .


You are not Bruce Wayne because of this.

If you were falsely imprisoned for murder, and the only person who could prove your innocence was, well, you, you would whine and cry and sob.

And most certainly you would not casually express your situation ...

in haiku.

I've got to prove I'm
innocent--what's that noise there?
The stone--sliding out--

What haiku can you compose to celebrate the coolness that is haiku-spouting Prisoner Wayne?