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."


Thursday, December 01, 2016

I apologize, Lex

Lex Luthor, I owed you an apology.

When you were elected U.S. president in 2000, I scoffed.  I said it was ridiculous. I said it was unrealistic, even for comics.  I'll believe a man can fly, but not that a supervillain can be elected president.  No, even more essentially I laughed at the idea that a non-politicians, someone with no government background, a mere businessman--regardless of how successful or well-known--could be elected president.  Particularly since he didn't seem to really have the backing of either major policital party.

A person who runs for the presidency so clearly for no reason other than ego?  A man who's made his life's work crushing other people beneath his heel successfully portraying himself as a man of the people?  And who wins...?!

Absurd. Clearly a storyline written by desperate writers, ones more interested in making a splash than it going anywhere with a story, since next to nothing was actually done with "President Luthor".  Their only focus was in the shock value of having him elected, not in his actual agenda once in office.  Clearly a storyline written by people who simply have no idea HOW Washington works.  So naive.  Smartest man in the world or not, there's no way, Lex, you would have been elected president.

I feel now, however, that I owe you an apology.