Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And the winner of this year's "Ahh, Screw It, Let's Just Make It Official" Award is.....

Wizard Magazine!!

Because, let's face it, when you're running features like this, you've pretty much kissed off your entire potential female fanbase anyway.

Monday, October 29, 2007

That's not how rape works, Mr. Crankshaft!

A few days ago, I read about the controversy regarding a recent "Crankshaft" comic strip written by Tom Batiuk and drawn by Chuck Ayers . After reading the strip in question, my initial reacton was "They're still running Crankshaft?" My second reaction was amazement that a comic strip published in 2007 would still propogate this long-disproven myth about the nature of rape: that only youthful, Hollywood-attractive women get sexually assaulted.

My third reaction hit me a lot closer to home. It was a chilling reminder. It happened when I reread the dialogue. "You're sixty-eight, Lois. You can probably stop carrying the pepper spray." states Lois' boyfriend, titular character Ed Crankshaft.

Really? Being elderly bestows women with some kind of special immunity from rape, not to mention other violent crimes like mugging, armed robbery, carjacking, assault and battery, and even murder, because the perpetrators don't find those women sexually attractive enough? So much so that those women no longer need to worry about these crimes or to take any special measures to protect themselves?

Well, Mr. Crankshaft, or rather, Mr. Batiuk, I wish that were true. In fact, I have a personal reason for wishing what your character said was reality. Look at the words again. "You're sixty-eight, Lois."

Sixty-eight years old.

My mother is sixty-eight years old.

Sure, she looks younger than her age would suggest, certainly younger than Lois is depicted here. But she's not a Meryl Streep or Jane Seymour look-alike either. To the best of my knowledge, she has not been the victim of rape or any other violent crime. But that doesn't mean she's never feared it or had good reason to do so. She's a very independent and active woman and does her own errands, often alone.

It would be a relief for her if she didn't have to worry about being sexually assaulted in the midst of doing some mundane chore like shopping or laundry or taking out the garbage. It would be terrific if her age meant she could stroll anywhere she pleased without fear of predators lurking in the shadows. It would be wonderful if being an older woman automatically protected her from the threat of traumatic attack.

But rape doesn't work that way.

It's not about sex. It's not about admiration. It's about power and control. It's about the ultimate domination, humiliation, and degradation of another human being, usually a woman. Victims of rape include the plain along with the glamorous, and can range in age from the old to the young to, unfortunately, the very young.

If you think it's a compliment, Mr. Batiuk, I defy you to go to any rape crisis center and ask the victims if they feel "flattered" by the experience. I pray that my mother, my girlfriend, and the other women and girls in my life are never paid such a "compliment".

In an ideal world, rape would not exist, and no woman would have to live in fear of it. Failing that, it would still be a relief if at least women became immune once they grew old or plain.

But rape doesn't work that way, Mr. Batiuk.

Stop suggesting that it does.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ok, NOW they're just doing it to fuck with Ragnell....

Saw the ending to Countdown#27.

Do you honestly believe she's really dead?

Because if you do, I've got some Elvis concert tickets to sell you.

And I don't mean Costello.

You can't always judge a book by its double-page spread...

(Some spoilers below!)

On an earlier post, I posted a picture of the double-page spread from Justice League of America#14.

When I first saw it, I felt it was overly gratuitous, pandered to the lowest common denominator, and took me out of the story. Plus, Diana's breasts were, shall we say, oversized. Apparently, a lot of other bloggers agreed with me.

Some even went so far as to say that double-page spread prompted them to boycott Justice League, all Ed-Benes-illustrated stories, and, in some extreme cases, all DC comics in general.

I couldn't bring myself to go that far, in part because I wanted to see where writer Dwayne McDuffie's story would take us. So I picked up JLA#14.

And it was actually...good. Not "Sinestro Corps" good or "new Brave and the Bold" good, but good nonetheless.

One of the pluses was McDuffie's portrayal of the relationship between Superman and Luthor. I could practically hear Clancy Brown's and George Newbern's voices in the first-half confrontation. Luthor clearly knows which of Supes' buttons to push, and here he does so in a display of pure douchebaggery worthy of Reggie Mantle. Which brings us to that offending spread. Much of my initial reaction stands; I still feel there was needless titillation. But part of that scene made sense: Wonder Woman's placement front and center. Other than Lois, Ma Kent, or Kara, I can't think of anyone else Supes could witness in that position that would piss him off more. Perhaps a master of the widescreen like Bryan Hitch could have pulled off that spread with less pandering and more panache.

While I admit that I miss some of Meltzer's mood-setting narrations, McDuffie's dialogue makes up for it. The "too much information" scene in particular cracked me up.

Still, the book wasn't perfect. While Supes' reactions to Luthor seemed in character with the Newbern JLU Superman (who could be a bit of a hothead without the calming influence of the Kevin Conroy Batman), it didn't completely gel with the comics Supes, especially the idea of attacking the villains with only him and Black Lightning. I mean, Superboy Prime or Black Adam so much as farts the wrong way and they have to deal with not only the JLA, but the JLA reserves, the JSA, the Teen Titans, the Doom Patrol, and the works. "No time"? Bullshit! He has Oracle and Nightwing on speed-dial. Couldn't he just take 10 seconds to contact one of them and say "Here are the coordinates. I need you to make a few calls." People tend to write Supes' intelligence on a sliding scale: sometimes he's an unthinking hothead, and other times he's practically Vril Dox. At least he had the sense to take out the Parasite first (and fast).

Which brings us to the other problem: The final fight, while well-drawn, lacked the epic scale hinted at by the JLA Wedding Special and Ian Churchill's cover to JLA#13. It was a little too...low-key. I expected to see a whole frigging armada of supervillains; instead, other than Luthor, I saw only 10 or 11 present in this chapter. And, Benes being Benes, half of them were hot chicks. However, other than the aforementioned double-page spread, the cheesecake level wasn't that bad. In fact, it hardly exceeded what you would find in a 70's Mike Grell Legion of Super Heroes comic. Still, the fight seemed a tad anticlimatic. As witnessed in Birds of Prey, Ed can do fight scenes better than this. Maybe the final chapter will deliver more.

Still, it was an entertaining issue. Too bad that spread makes it one that I can't let my niece or nephew read yet.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Night Fights Round 4: Sucka Punch - The Canary Has Landed

Always Remember:

Even as a short-haired brunette, Dinah Lance is still badass!

Another fun fact brought to you by Bahlactus!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is this really even a contest?

I caught this thread on Valerie D'Orazio's Occasional Superheroine site.

In this corner ---

Alan Moore

- Gave us THE WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA, LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, "For The Man Who Has Everything", "The Anatomy Lesson", "The Jungle Line", and "Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?".

And in this corner ---

Rob Liefeld

- Gave us Captain America with really huge breasts.

You decide.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Comics/Music Trivia Time...

What's the connection between....

a. my blogger name


Hint: The clock is ticking.....

Ever since I read the JLA/Hitman mini.......

.... I just can't get this song out of my head.

Yes, I know it's not exactly the same.

And I don't care.

I miss these guys.

Hopefully, Mark and Tommy are sharing a drink together in that tavern in the sky.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Looks like Warner's "Operation: Piss Off Half Our Audience" Has Been Disavowed..

...according to this story.

Part 3 In My "Definition" Series: The Definition of "Gratuitous" Is.....

...this preview from Justice League of America#14.

This is going to piss off a lot of people.*

* Hopefully, one of them won't be Heidi Meeley, despite my shameless tresspassing into her territory.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh, Well......

Guess it wasn't the hypos after all.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Hey, WB! I've got your decree RIGHT HERE!

Apparently, Jeff Robinov and the folks at Warner Bros. have come up with a new strategy to reverse their flagging box-office fortunes.

It's called Operation: Piss Off Half Our Audience.

This is a dumb move on an infinite number of levels. Not only is this horrible PR for the studio, but it's completely illogical and counterproductive.

There is a vast number of people involved in the making of a movie other than the lead actor or actress. You have directors, screenwriters, producers, etc. There are several points other than the acting where the creative process on a movie can break down. While there are some lead performers awful enough to sink a movie with their acting alone, most of the time the breakdown occurs in the writing and conceptualizing.

Let's take, as an example, one of the movies Robinov doubtlessly used as criteria for his latest "decree":


While I don't consider Halle Berry to be the greatest actress in the world, the fundamental reasons for "Catwoman's" failure go far beyond her casting in the film.

You can tell where the problems start just by reading this excerpt from Roger Ebert's review:

Berry plays Patience Phillips, a designer for an ad agency, who dies and is reborn after Midnight, a cat with ties to ancient Egypt, breathes new life into her. She becomes Catwoman, but what is a catwoman? She can leap like a cat, strut around on top of her furniture, survive great falls and hiss.

Yes, you read that right.

Patience Phillips.

Not Selina Kyle.

Patience Phillips!!

And they're wondering why it tanked? If they can't be trusted to even get a detail as fundamental as the character's real name right, would you honestly trust them to do the character justice? More importantly, would you pay to see their movie?

Think about it. Would you want a movie about Superman and his alter-ego, insurance salesman Mike Williams? What about Spider-Man alias postal worker Jeff Rogers? Or Batman aka accountant Dave Smith?

When movie creators get it wrong at that basic level, it's not someone like Halle Berry's fault.

Or take another example of a WB movie that underperformed both creatively and financially, Superman Returns.

I thought Brandon Routh did a capable job as the Man of Steel, Kevin Spacey was excellent as Lex, and Kate Bosworth was miscast as Lois.

But was it Routh who decided that, instead of starting the story from scratch as the wildly successful "Batman Begins" did, the story should continue directly from "Superman II", a film that was made before most of the target audience was even born?

Was it Bosworth's decision to scuttle the Superman/Lois romance and add an illegitimate child to the mix, thereby making Lois an unwed mother and Supes an absentee dad?

Was it Spacey's idea to overload the film with an excessive amount of Christ symbolism and imagery, rather than have Superman actually hit something?

No, of course not.

So, Mr. Robinov and the rest of you at the WB, if you wish your movies to be more successful, I'd like to suggest a different decree:

How about a "Respect The Goddamned Source Material!!" decree?

It just might work.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Is there really a case for "The Case"?

Today I give you a sneak peak into my head, as I mentally debate the question:

Should the Stephanie Brown Robin receive a memorial case in the Batcave?

Pro: Stephanie was the first female in-continuity Robin.

Con: Yeah, for what? 3 months? That's, what, 10 minutes comic book time?

Pro: Jason Todd received a memorial case when he was killed as Robin.

Con: Here's the thing: Jason Todd's Robin career lasted from 1984 through 1988. That's over 4 years real time. Let's compare that with Stephanie's, uh, brief tenure in the role.

In fact, let's compare Steph's tenure with other brief tenures:

Bart Allen's Flash career lasted longer.

Superman's Electro-Supes career lasted longer.

Ben "Spider-Clone" Reilly's Spider-Man career lasted longer.

Jean Paul Valley's Batman career lasted longer.

Hell, Dick Grayson's Batman career lasted longer, albeit slightly.

Compared to Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and especially Dick Grayson, Steph's tenure as Robin was a hiccup. A blip on the radar screen.

Pro: And whose fault was that? DC and the Bat-books in particular have screwed over her character royally. Even if the plan was to have Tim come back all along, the Bat-office still could have gotten a year or so of interesting Girl Wonder stories. But what happened instead? She got fired from the Robin gig by Bats for disobeying an order, tortured with a power drill, and condemned to death by a wildly-out-of-character Leslie Thompkins for the sole purpose of teaching Bruce a lesson.

And for what? For another "One of Batman's protocols comes back to bite him in the ass" story. Because Lord knows, that's never been done before.

Pro: Once again, let's not forget that she was the first in-continuity female Robin.

Con: And here we get to the 500-pound elephant in the room: Would enough fans even give a crap about Steph getting a memorial case if she wasn't female?

Pro: But she was. (Insert bad Bette Davis voice here.)

Con: Her Robin costume sucked.

Pro: True, but maybe, given time, somebody could have redesigned it, as was done for Tim and for Green Lantern Kyle Rayner at the starts of their careers.

The Verdict: Does the Stephanie Brown Robin deserve a special memorial case in the Batcave?

Yes and no.

I stand by my belief that the "Girl Robin" wasn't notable enough to warrant a memorial, other than for being the first girl Robin.

Stephanie Brown herself, however, was a different story.

Because she also had another superhero identity in which she spent the bulk of her career: The Spoiler. Even her codename had an interesting genesis. She originally adopted this identity as a way of thwarting the criminal activities of her father, Arthur "Cluemaster" Brown. She literally kept "spoiling" his plans.

It was her primary superhero identity for over 12 years. As both Stephanie and Spoiler, she had a significant impact on both Robin and the Bat-Family, even without the War Games/War Crimes storylines.

I compared her Robin time to Nightwing's Batman stint for a reason. Although Batman and Robin are the more iconic identities, Nightwing and Spoiler are the identities Dick and Steph are better known for. If Dan Didio ever flips out and kills off Nightwing, I'd rather see Dick immortalized with a Nightwing memorial case than a Batman one.

Same goes with Stephanie. I support a case for Stephanie Brown, but it should, at least in part, include some Spoiler memorabilia, since that was where she left her biggest mark.

The Solution: I actually got this idea from the recent All-Flash. We see a scene in the Flash Museum where statues of Bart Allen as Impulse and as Kid Flash are positioned side-by-side at roughly a 30-degree angle from each other.

I suggest a similar setup for Stephanie's memorial case. Have her Robin costume displayed as Jason's was, but have a Spoiler costume next to it, maybe at a slight angle.

Maybe Dean Trippe can help design it.