Wednesday, September 30, 2009

They Got Polanski!

As someone whose niece turns 13 in less than two years, my official reaction to the news of Roman Polanski's arrest is:


And suddenly millions of impressionist comedians are smiling....

Bob Dylan is considering recording a GPS voiceover.

Admit it. You're thinking about the impression even as you read this:


You know you are.

Monday, September 28, 2009

One Mind-Fry At A Time

Holy friggin' crap.

I was reading about McKenzie's Phillips' interview on Oprah last week, and Richard Roeper's article in today's Sun Times explained the situation best:

There are three possible scenarios for what happened.

None of them are pretty.

When I think about this story, a lyric from a song keeps running through my head.

It's not anything by Phillips' father's band, The Mamas and the Papas.

It's "Black Swan" by Thom Yorke:

"This is fucked up, fucked up...."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Night Fights: Feet of Fury: Round 3: Beware My Power - Green Lantern's Feet!

For Round 3 of Friday Night Fights: Feet of Fury! , here's a reminder:

For all the pictures we've seen of Hal Jordan taking physical abuse....

....we should always remember.....

....that Hal can also dish it out!

This example of Hal's fancy footwork comes to us from Green Lantern#45, "Prince Peril's Power Grab", by John Broome, Gil Kane, and Sid Greene.

Spacebooger knows how to deliver the "Kane Pain".

(Special thanks to Sea of Green.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Night Fights: Feet Of Fury! - Round 2: Charlie Vs. Harley

Time for Round 2 of Friday Night Fights: Feet of Fury! And you know what that means....

You got that right, Misfit!

Tonight's KO kick comes from Birds of Prey#106, by the supreme team of Gail Simone, Nicola Scott, and Doug Hazelwood, in which the Birds square off against the Secret Six.

Spacebooger loves his Dark Vengeance.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

And speaking of shitstorms, I wonder why this didn't cause more of one...

I picked up JLA: Cry For Justice last week and noticed one little scene. Prometheus explained how he'd been staking his claim in Europe the last few years, killing off various Global Guardians. And he comments on the "bearskin" rug in his living room.

Which turns out to be the late Tasmanian Devil. Prometheus goes on to add: "Idiot named himself after an endangered animal anyway. " Ha ha. You can view it here on Dorian's site.

The whole Cry For Justice mini has had a few questionable moments, from Hal's whining to the Huntress/Lady Blackhawk throwaway line to Ray Palmer being reinvented as "the Incredible Shrinking Jack Bauer". And, oh yes, "Justice!" - WE GET IT!!! I loved James Robinson's work on Starman, and I think he's killin' it on Superman, even without the lead character in the book. But here, he seems to can I put it nicely?.....letting his "hack flag" fly.

While many people may have viewed Tasmanian Devil as just another third-stringer (I last saw him in JLA CLASSIFIED 3) , I can see how it could be a much bigger hit from Dorian's perspective. You see, Tazmanian Devil was gay.

It's a huge understatement to say I have more superheroes who are in my demographic than Dorian does.

Think of all the heroes who are straight males like me. I could list them all one by one and run out of character space before I even got started.

Now expand the criteria to only straight white males like me. Still an enormous list.

Now expand it even further to include only straight white males with brown hair like me. The list is still considerable. There's Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Richard Rider, Hal Jordan, Jay Garrick... hell, I can name several members of the Legion of Superheroes alone in that group.

Now imagine being a gay comic reader, and look at how few gay superheroes there are, and you can see how killing off even one gay male character, especially for the sole purpose of a cheap laugh, can sting.

Amazing Spider-Man#605: Shitstorm Averted...

...although there are still a few flurries.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Is Chameleon Marvel's Doctor Light?

That's the question a lot of Amazing Spider-Man readers were asking themselves as they perused issue#'s 603 and 604.

For those of you unfamiliar with the controversy, here's some backstory: The Chameleon had kidnapped Peter Parker and took his place to gain access to the mayor's ( J. Jonah Jameson - just go with it) inner circle. In the course of his impersonation he encounters Peter's roommate, Michelle Gonzales, with whom the real Peter had a drunken one-night stand.

(Ah, one of those "younger-reader-friendly" storylines that the dreaded Spider-Marriage was depriving us from reading all these years, right, Mr. Quesada?)

Anyway, "Peter" encounters Michelle, and this happens:

Yadda yadda yadda...real Peter escapes...Yadda yadda yadda... Spidey foils Chameleon's scheme....yadda yadda yadda....

And then Peter returns to his apartment for the first time since before his abduction, and this is what he finds:

Commence online shitstorm. Readers complained that the scenes above depicted rape because Michelle didn't know she was with Chameleon rather than Peter. Compounding the issue was that many felt Michelle's violation was being played for laughs and that the underlying issues would never be addressed.

Then writer Fred Van Lente sought to clarify the issue by responding to an online e-mail:

My understanding of the definition of rape is that it requires force or the threat of force, so no. Using deception to trick someone into granting consent isn’t quite the same thing.

Which is not to say it isn’t a horrible, evil, reprehensible thing that Chameleon did. He is a bad man.
He insults parapelegics and dips people in acid too.

While Van Lente was right about the paraplegics and the acid, he missed the mark on the legal definition of rape. Here's the definition from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law (the boldface is mine):

Main Entry: rape

Function: noun

: unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception —see also STATUTORY RAPE .

Here's the problem: Chameleon falsely represented himself to Michelle as Peter Parker in a way that no reasonable non-powered person could have detected he was not Peter. Michelle reasonably believed he was Peter and consented to relations with Peter. She did not consent to relations with the Chameleon. Ergo rape.

Also, ask yourselves: What if someone impersonated you and had their way with your spouse or significant other, deceiving him or her so thouroughly that he or she could not reasonably be expected to know the difference? What would you do?

I'll tell you something: If it were to happen to Mrs Notintheface, I'd want to kill the son of a bitch.

Still, there are a couple of factors to consider before singling out Van Lente, the Spider-Man staff, Marvel, or even comics in general as being willfully disrespectful to women on this issue.

First, the "evil twin/lookalike/impostor" storyline goes back a long way, and is not limited to comics. I've seen it in movies, television, and in literature. And rarely, if ever, has the violation aspect been touched upon in any detail. That may be because many laypersons, inside and outside of the entertainment and literary fields, are unaware that this type of misrepresentation constitutes rape. I'm not defending this ignorance; I'm just saying it's not unique to modern comic creators or readers.

Second, as I pondered this issue, I began to recall some other comic characters at the Big Two who fell victim to similar false pretenses as Michelle Gonzales.

Many of them were male.

1. The Human Torch (Johnny Storm) - This has been the most heavily cited other case in the last few days. Back when John Byrne was writing Fantastic Four in the 80's, he decided to have the Thing's blind flame, Alicia Masters, regain her sight and then fall in love with and marry Ben Grimm's teammate, Johnny. Then Byrne left the FF, and it was revealed that "Alicia" was actually a Skrull impostor named Lyja Lazerfist. There was no doubt that Johnny and Alicia/Lyja had had sex during her impersonation (there was even a pregnancy subplot), at which time he was unaware of her deception.

2. Colossal Boy - During Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen's 80's Legion of Super Heroes run Colossal Boy aka Gim Allon romantically pursued and married his longtime crush Shrinking Violet aka Salu Digby. Or so he (and we) thought. In LSH#305 we learned that the "Violet" Gim had married was actually a disguised Durlan named Yera who herself was deceived by Micro Lad into impersonating her, thinking she had the blessing of Vi herself. (It turns out Micro Lad had imprisoned Violet instead.) Eventually, Brainiac 5 and Element Lad caught on to her ruse and trapped her into revealing herself. Until then, C.B. had no idea she wasn't Violet. As for the sexual relations part, an earlier issue had Gim and "Salu" spending the week together at a futuristic ski lodge, during which time Duplicate Boy, who was the real Vi's boyfriend, bust in on them and started beating the crap out of Colossal Boy, who was clad only in his "tighty whities". After Micro Lad is defeated, Gim decided to stay married to Yera as she was. It was revealed in the recent "Superman and The Legion Of Super Heroes" story arc that they were still married years later.

3. Dick "Nightwing" Grayson - Much controversy has been made of his Devin Grayson-penned "rooftop scene" with Tarantula after the death of Blockbuster, but back in the early 90's there was a storyline during the Wolfman-Grummett New Titans era where a group of future Titans travelled back to the present to stop Donna Troy's son Robert from becoming a future evil world-dominating demi-god named Chaos (once again, just go with it). During that storyline, the group's leader, the shape-shifting Mirage, kidnapped Starfire and impersonated her, sleeping with Starfire's then-lover Nightwing (sound familiar?) . Attributing her behavioral differences to her recent abduction during "Titans Hunt", Dick never caught on to Mirage's deception until the real Starfire escaped and returned to Titans HQ.

Not only was Dick's violation at Mirage's hands never addressed, or even acknowledged as a violation, but he was often chastised by other characters (and many readers) for not being able to pierce the deception. And yes, it was sometimes played for laughs. In fact, one of the Titans actually exclaimed "Dick, you SLUT!"

4. Superman and Lex Luthor - During the Jeph Loeb-Joe Kelly era of the Superman books, there was a point where Clark and Lois were having some ongoing marital strife. The source of that strife was the fact that "Lois" was in fact Supes' enemy, The Parasite, in disguise. This subplot had been going on for a few months (our time), during which time "Lois/Parasite" had also paid a clandestine visit to Lex Luthor and, it was implied, had sex with him.

In all fairness, most of the stories I cited above took place before there was even an internet, let alone a comics blogosphere, so who knows how people would have reacted had those stories been published today?

I contend that Van Lente's initial response did not stem from a glaring disrespect of women on his part or Marvel's, but rather a clear lack of understanding of the definition of rape, particularly in regard to how false pretense on one party's part affects the other party's ability to give consent. Specifically, the other party's ability to give informed consent.

One note: Van Lente later claimed that Chameleon and Michelle were only "making out" and not having sex, in the scene above. Yes, it smacks of obvious damage control, probably to smooth the impending Disney merger, but there's an upside: It means that Van Lente, and possibly by extension Marvel, may realize the wrongness in introducing something like the original Chameleon/Michelle rape scenario depicted above.

And never do it again.

One can hope.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Night Fights: Feet of Fury! - Round One: Fleet Feet!

Welcome to Round One of Friday Night Fights: Feet of Fury! According to our gracious host, Spacebooger, each fight entry must contain one K.O. kick.

Well, then, how about three K.O. kicks?

Delivered at the same time?

By the same guy?

To the same guy?

Here at Stars And Garters, I aim to please!

Back in the Bronze Age, Oliver Queen wasn't the only best friend of Hal Jordan's who kept beating the living crap out of Hal. There was also Barry Allen, the Flash.

And while Barry didn't beat up Hal nearly as often as Ollie did, his beatings were much more systematic and savage. And much cooler visually.

Case in point:

This Hal Jordan smackdown at the, feet.. of his old pal Barry takes place on the cover of Flash#282, rendered by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano. The interior story was written by Cary Bates, who back then was DC's undisputed craziest writer who wasn't named Bob.

Spacebooger says: "Think fast!"

8 Years Ago Today....