Friday, August 19, 2016

The Only Pic You Need Today

Sexist alert:  (super-)women are the shining light of hope for what superheroes SHOULD be in popular media.  Powerful but sympathetic moral exemplars.

Lynda Carter nailed this perfectly, utterly, and forever as Wonder Woman in her 1970s show.  Wonder Woman was no-nonsense, but never mean.  She was always ready to help reform and not merely punish.  Wonder Woman didn't get angry at you for being a bad guy; she was disappointed in you.  Just as your mother would be.

Melissa Benoitte has brought a similar quality to Supergirl and it's been a welcome lamplight in the otherwise dark and gritty landscape of live-action superheroism in the modern era.

Is that sexism, because we want 'girls' to be sugar & spice?  Is it just realism, because women tend to embrace situational ethics while men hew toward rule-based utilitarianism?  Is is just men taking men-heroes too seriously, just as they do themselves?  When did being an actual good guy start to seem too weak for people?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I can't complain

I haven't written here lately because frankly...

there's nothing to complain about.  In fact here's a partial of a list of all things that I can't complain about, just off the topic of my head.

Wonder Woman is being written by a writer who really gets her, who understands how to balance the many elements of her character; well done those are sources for dynamic tension and development, and poorly done they can make her an inconsistent tonal mess.  The recent retelling of her origin story retains ALL the elements of her classic origin (down to there being three contests at the end of the 'Wonder Woman' competition, how they are eliminated, and even their HAIR color) and yet is still modern in tone.  The parallel backstories of Diana and Steve finally make their relationship seem sensible, and when the two finally meet...well, let's just say, if you can get Steve Trevor to make me cry, then Wonder Woman is in good hands.

I can recognize Batman again because he is finally a superior and wise person, not a deranged damaged loner.  His sensitivity in handling the difficult issues in the "Gotham/Gotham Girl" storyline has been exemplary and it was expertly capped by his willingness to sacrifice himself to save the city (which is how the story began) and to do the sensible thing and call in the Justice League when things got too much for him to handle.  Similarly, he did the right thing in partnering with Batwoman to help train his proteges. He was awesome enough to have the military create an entire program to copy him, human enough to be capture by them, awesome enough to escape, and human enough to be rescued by his teammates.  DC seems to have figured out Batman again.  Oh, and Alfred dressed in a batman costume driving the batmobile. You have me again, DC.

Flash's storyline is MOVING. Sudden lighting storm, bunch of people getting speed powers, including some  bad guys who get killed by a BADDER guy, and Barry gets a new super-partner and  finds a new love interest to whom he reveals his secret identity.  Not only does Barry, serving as mentor to a bunch of new speedsters, seem like Barry again, he's now in the Fastest Comic Alive, which is how it should be.

Speaking of fast, Supergirl's writers cleared the decks in almost record time.  By the end of Issue #1, they've already hooked her up for sensible reasons with the DEO, put her in National City, placed her with the Danvers as adoptive parents, given her a civilian high schooler identity, hinted at future work at CatCo, and given her own deeply disturbing "Two-Face'' character in her own father as the Cyborg Superman.  Oh, and they shot her into the sun and a Kryptonian werewolf escaped from the Phantom Zone. Which is exactly the kind of Silver Age crazy that is actually needed to make a Superman-related comic work.  Also of note is how she successfully used sympathy and support as part of her arsenal of superpowers. THIS is the Supergirl we have been waiting for and whom our daughters deserve.

Superman's titles are also full of Superman being supernoble.  I just wish the two concurrent stories (Doomsday threatens to kill Jon and The Eradicator threatens to kill Jon) weren't nearly identical.  But it's full of some great Silver Age crazy, including a powerless Clark Kent showing up out of thin air, Kryptonian ghosts, and the throwaway reveal that there is A BATCAVE ON THE MOON. Because of course there is.

Aquaman is the most awesome of them all, what with being cut-clean and reasonable and so CLEAR in his priorities and goals in the midst of international crisis and still hilariously bad-ass. Finally we have heroes who seem like the ADULTS in the room, rather than the adolescents.  Plus his relationship with Mera is very real; they love each other but they do NOT always agree. Plus, just...Mera.

Add to that, the building story of a modern "O.G.R.E."-like world organization of pirates which includes an updated version of Black Jack the Pirate in its ranks.  This Aquaman alone is enough to justify the DCU's existence.

Oh, and thanks to Grant Morrison, the CW will have a gay superhero (The Ray) headlining a show.  Thank you, Grant Morrison; I'm appreciate what you have done.  

And you know when I'm saying stuff like THAT, that the DCU is going well.

P.S. And Hal got a haircut.