Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 4: And Every Day The Paperboy Brings More!

Tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Maxim comes to us courtesy of the Mini Marvels: Rock, Paper, Scissors digest, written and illustrated by Chris Giarrusso, and featuring younger versions of our heroes.

Synopsis: Spidey and rival paperboy Venom have been competing to deliver the paper for the same customer: Norman Osborn. This is a mixed blessing. On the plus side, he's very rich. On the minus side, he's.....well....Norman.

Who gets the dubious honor of delivering to ol' Norm? Let's find out, shall we?

 Now that's cooperation!

For tonight's fight music, let's swing along to the sweet sounds of No Doubt.

For more web-spinning wonderment, click here. And don't forget to vote!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 3: Double-Team!

I won last week's round of Friday Night Fights: Maxim. I have a little FNF tradition that every time I win a round, the next round I post must somehow be related to the Legion of Super-Heroes. And since last week's victorious fight was between Superman (formerly Superboy) and Lar (Mon-El) Gand, I thought it would be appropriate (and fun) to show what happens when everybody's favorite Kryptonian and everybody's favorite Daxamite work together on the same side.

Tonight's El collaboration comes from Superboy#239, by Paul Levitz, Jim Starlin, and Josef Rubinstein. Synopsis: Ultra Boy has been framed for murder. Rather than just take his chances with the 30th Century justice system, he escapes Legion custody and goes on the run to find proof to clear himself. of course, the Legion finds him first. After taking out Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy, and Sun Boy, U-Boy is almost home free.



(Spoiler: Don't worry. He gets cleared of all charges.)

For more ultra-badass embroglios, click here. And don't forget to vote!

(Special thanks to Diversions Of The Groovy Kind.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 2: Putting Your Heads Together!

Tonight's round of Friday Night Fights: Maxim features some good old fashioned headbanging courtesy of Adventures Of Superman Annual#2, written by Dan Jurgens and illustrated by Kerry Gammill and Dick Giordano.

Synopsis: L.E.G.I.O.N. is on Earth because leader Vril Dox II is looking for his father. He and Lar Gand stumble upon Project Cadmus and Dox hits upon the idea of using Cadmus' advanced computers to aid him in his search. However, due to having the same name and bearing a family resemblance, Vril is mistaken for his father by both Cadmus and Superman. Which is really bad news since Vril's father just happens to be Brainiac. This leads to a brawl between Lar Gand and Supes.

And then...Lobo shows up.

Which leads to......


Two heads bang better than one!!!

So says Spacebooger!

(Tonight's fight music is this head-knockin' tune by Foreigner.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"THAT COULD BE YOU!": The Unpardonable Sin Of "Speaking Out While Female"

There were so many infuriating things about Rush Limbaugh's recent 3-day tirade against Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke that it was hard to decide which was the worst: Rush's dragging Ms. Fluke's name through the mud for three consecutive days. His requesting access to video of her and other Georgetown coeds having sex as "payment" for his supposed subsidizing of her their sex lives via taxes. His conveying false information (either wittingly or unwittingly) of how contraception AND employer insurance plans work. His so-called "apology" in which he played the victim. And let's not forget the unwillingness of any of the GOP Presidential candidates except Ron Paul to stand up against Limbaugh, as if he were Keyser Soze (which, to them, he probably is).

But I've managed to figure out the one element which pissed me off the most:

The message.

This wasn't just a simple case of one brief inappropriate word or two, as Limbaugh seemed to imply in his non-apology. This was a 3-day, 3-hour-per-day sustained attack. Instead of an uncontrolled slip of the tongue, this was a calculated on-air verbal assault of a female private figure, carefully worded so that he could just narrowly sidestep the risk of slander charges. This wasn't done on impulse. It was done to make an example of Fluke, particularly to any other women who might have the temerity to speak out in a similar fashion. It was done to send a deliberate message to those women.

The message:


It's a message, unfortunately, that outspoken women are all-too-used to hearing. It was the same message they received in the wake of the Anita Hill hearings 21 years ago. One they've heard in their workplaces over the years. One that they've heard when other women like them have tried to seek redress for sexual assaults or harassment committed against them. One they hear constantly.

"You see how Sandra Fluke is getting maligned for speaking out on birth control? THAT COULD BE YOU!"

"You see that rape victim getting humiliated in court? THAT COULD BE YOU!"

"You see how that female gamer is getting sexually harassed relentlessly online? THAT COULD BE YOU!"

Translation: If you're a female and you want to speak out, prepare to be relentlessly attacked -- no holds barred!

In Fluke's case, "no holds barred" meant being the subject of 3 days of vicious smears and false allegations about her sex life and sexual history, as well as those of other women in her alma mater.

But it can mean so much worse.

Just ask any female blogger who attempts to express her opinions on controversial topics. Ask them about the comments they have to delete or the internet trolls who harass and even threaten them online. I joined Twitter last summer, and I'll be damned if I've ever gone one week without reading about at least one horror story from at least one of my female fellow Twitterati about one of these trolls. Whether it's Laura Hudson or Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass criticizing the treatment of female characters in comics, or it's Karoli over at Crooks And Liars criticizing Ron Paul, these women are subject to a constant barrage of cyber- harassment, whether it's degrading insults and sexual insinuations or even extreme measures like rape threats and death threats and even threats against family members. Unfortunately, internet trolls are a fact of life for female bloggers. Hiding behind their perceived anonymity, these cowards have no boundaries, no limits on the depths to which they will stoop. To them, no threat is too severe.

And why? Because their unfortunate targets committed the oh-so-unpardonable crime of Speaking Out While Female (SOWF). Apparently, having their opinions and behavior challenged is too much for some people to bear. And like cornered lions, they lash out at those challenging them. But they take their attacks to disproportionate extremes.

The effect of these relentless assaults, unfortunately, is to discourage too many women and girls to avoid speaking out or blogging entirely. The sickening part is that, to the likes of Limbaugh, that negative effect on women isn't a glitch; it's a feature.

I'm speaking about this from the perspective of someone who's been completely untouched directly by this type of online terrorism. In my nearly 5 years of blogging, the worst thing I've had to deal with in the comments I've received is the occasional piece of spam. This is for many reasons. It's partially because I operate a little-known blog. It's partially because roughly 95% of my comments come from Sally, and the rest come mostly from either Ami, Saranga, or my Friday Night Fights compadres, none of whom post anything threatening or offensive.

But it's mostly because I'm male.

Yes, it's true that men can face ridicule and derision for speaking out in predominantly-female environments. (Here's an experiment: Go to, identify as a male commenter and post a dissenting opinion. Then see how many posts it takes before somebody makes insulting comments about your "poor widdle feewings getting hurt". My guess: Not many.) But that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what women online face.

But what's happened to Limbaugh in the wake of his attacks on Fluke is an encouraging sign. You see, the problem with sending stark messages is that you can't always control who is receiving them, or how people are perceiving them. While many women DID perceive Limbaugh's message as "THAT COULD BE YOU!", their reaction was not fear, but anger. Other men and women perceived Limbaugh's message as "THAT COULD BE MY WIFE, OR MY GIRLFRIEND, OR MY SISTER, OR MY DAUGHTER, OR MY NIECE!!" And they responded accordingly.

And what they all did next was a thing of beauty.

It was like the members of social networks like Facebook and Twitter essentially rose up as one to denounce Limbaugh and his remarks. People voiced their concerns to the show's sponsors, who pulled out in droves.

I'm glad that worked because I hope it encourages more actions like that. I have nieces who are only a few years younger than Fluke. Also, if my child is a daughter, I don't want her to have to deal with this shit decades from now.

Misogynists like Limbaugh keep sending their message. Let's send our message to them:

We're all SICK of your fucking message.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Friday Night Fights: Maxim - Round 1: If I Had A Rocket Launcher...

Welcome to the latest bout of "Friday Night Fights", which our host Spacebooger has named "Maxim" in honor of boxer Joey Maxim.

On to our explosive first round!

And nothing says "explosive" quite like.....


Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Mike Grell, and Jeff Huet break out the heavy artillery in this Titan-ic scene from Herc#6.

As for our fight music, at first I was afraid I'd be stuck using that lame Bazooka Bubblegum rap song, but fortunately I remembered at the last minute this awesome tune by Bruce Cockburn, which I'll use as this week's soundtrack (as well as this round's title) instead. Yay, memory!

For more Herculean conflicts, click here. And don't forget to vote!

(Or you might get shelled!)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Blunt-Forced Trauma: The Attack Of The Jason Voorhees Contingent

This past Thursday, the Blunt Amendment was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 51-48.

Thank God!

If passed, this bill could have screwed over a lot of people, both men and women. All for the sole purpose of denying women contraceptive coverage.

I know what you're thinking. Women's reproductive issues aren't the standard fare on my blog. I usually leave that to someone better-qualified like Saranga. I'm not even technically full-blown pro-choice; I'm on the fence. But over the past year and a half, these issues have played an increasing personal role in my life, for reasons I will explain shortly.

Unless you've been in a coma, you may have heard of the recent controversy over President Obama's recent mandate requiring employers to cover birth control in their employee health plans as part of a condition for receiving federal funding. While Catholic churches themselves are exempt, secular Catholic institutions which hire non-Catholic employees, such as hospitals and universities, aren't. Later, Obama compromised with a tweak of the proposed legislation that puts the onus for covering contraception not on those institutions, but rather on their insurance companies.

Cue the conniption fits. And suddenly we find ourselves in the ridiculous position of having to debate, or rather re-debate, the issue of contraception. In the year two-thousand-freaking-twelve!

That's because of a group that has really been making their presence felt. They've always been around in some form, but recently it seems like they've been getting increasingly vocal. And increasingly powerful. And increasingly infuriating.

And increasingly dangerous.

In the interests of fairness, I'm not going to paint everyone in the pro-life movement with the same broad brush. (Also in the interests of fairness, I'll be using the designations "pro-life" and "pro-choice" for the most part, as those seem to be the movements' preferred names.) There are those who sincerely care about the "where does life begin" issue and who are acting in good faith. I'm not talking about them here. I'm talking about a smaller subset group that seems to be dominating the discussion a lot lately. They've been making the news by calling for greater and greater restrictions not only on abortion, but on contraception as well. I refer to these people as The Jason Voorhees Contingent.

Remember Jason Voorhees from the "Friday The 13th" slasher movies? He would walk around killing various horny teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake, often right after or even during the points that they were having sex. It often seemed like he was punishing people, particularly women, for having what he perceived as illicit sex.

It seems that people in "The Jason Voorhees Contingent" have that same primary motivation. There are a lot of people who seem to be making legislation with the primary goal of making women suffer for sexual choices that they don't like or agree with. They seem to be incredibly misogynistic, uncaring, and wllfully ignorant to the consequences of their actions.

The Republicans have been been courting these people since at least the days of Reagan in the 80's. However, the GOP establishment had been relatively successful at keeping them at bay. Conventional wisdom used to be that if you voted Republican strictly on abortion issues, you were getting played, since the GOP establishment would never allow the overturn of Roe v. Wade, lest they lose a powerful wedge issue and give liberals and even moderates greater motivation to vote against them in greater numbers. (Look no further than the Supreme Court. Still no Roe v. Wade overturn, but look! Corporations are people now!) But since the rise of the Tea Party in 2010, all bets have been off.

I'd had a bad feeling we were headed in this direction almost a year back when I wrote this. That's back when the GOP took over the House of Representatives and decided, after campaigning on "where are the jobs?", that somehow the best way to improve the economy was to..... pass a shitload of anti-abortion regulations and no jobs bills. We were treated to the spectacle of the GOP House attempting to "redefine rape" and defund Planned Parenthood. 

And it wasn't just at the federal level. Newly-elected Republican governors and Republican General Assemblies have gone hog-wild on abortion, attempting to pass over a thousand new abortion restrictions. You may have noticed how "trans-vaginal ultrasound" has become a household word in recent weeks, as states like Texas, Virginia, and Alabama have introduced legislation to mandate, even against both the women's and their doctors' wishes, that women submit to the procedure if they are planning on getting an abortion. For those here who haven't witnessed a trans-vaginal ultrasound up close (I have), trust me when I say it's not something women should be getting against their will, especially in the case of rape or incest. In light of resistance from women voters, some of those states have backed off on the T-V ultrasounds in favor of only abdominal ones, which still not only subject women to an unnecessary and expensive procedure they didn't ask for, but in many cases also make them pay for it.

All these newfound abortion restrictions seem to have one goal: to reduce the number of women seeking and getting abortions, even at the cost of intimidation. Whch makes those same lawmakers' resistance to birth control even more confounding and illogical, as that would be the surest way to achieve that same goal without those negatives. But if you're in the Jason Voorhees Contingent and your goal is controlling and/or punishing women, resisting birth control makes perfect sense.

Which brings us to the Blunt Amendment, which was introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt as a way to counteract Obama's contraception mandate.

This proposal, if passed, would have allowed employers and health plans regulated by the 2010 health care law to opt out of paying for medical services that are contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions. The potential ramifications of this go far beyond birth control. Suppose you want get your child vaccinated. Now suppose your employer shares Jenny McCarthy's now-debunked beliefs about vaccines and refuses to cover them. You're stuck paying for your child's vaccinations out-of-pocket.

Or allow me to share a personal story:

Recently a major miracle has happened in my life.

My wife and I have been trying to have a child since we got married. After repeated vain attempts to conceive on our own, we decided to try in vitro fertilization (IVF). After some failures on that front, we finally succeeded.

We're going to be parents this fall.

Words can't accurately describe how happy we are about this. I can't think of a better choice to be a mother than my wife. We're looking forward to our new baby with a combination of nervousness, joy, and hope.

But suppose the Blunt Amendment had been in effect as of late 2010. And now suppose that my wife's employer and/or insurance company didn't choose to cover the IVF on religious and/or moral grounds. (After all, IVF, like contraception, isn't condoned by the Catholic Church. ) What would have happened then? I'll spell it out for you bluntly:

We wouldn't have the chance to be parents. Not this fall. Not next fall. Not EVER.

Without health coverage, IVF cycles can get quite expensive, you see, costing thousands of dollars. Depending on the services provided, the cost of one IVF cycle can rival the cost of a wedding, or even surpass it. And we didn't even succeed on the first cycle, so imagine how much repeated uninsured cycles would cost. And neither of us are billionaires like Foster Friess. We would have had to give up, our dream of parenthood unfulfilled.

But the folks in the Jason Voorhees Contingent don't care about stories like that.

And that's the most frustrating about them. They don't know or care about the other uses of contraceptives, like averting endomitriosis or controlling menstrual cycles, or even protecting a woman's ability to conceive and allowing her to conceive safely.  They care so little about these nuances that recently they went as far as holding an investigation into contraception with an all-male panel. That's as ridiculous as... having a car thief in charge of Congressional investigations. That same panel excluded their sole female witness, Sandra Fluke, on the grounds that her testimony wasn't relevent.

Here's a little thought experiment for you all: Listen to Fluke's testimony. Then listen to this joke that Friess told about contraception in the "old days". Now think about which one of them will potentially have more influence on our political process. Depressed yet?

The top members of the Jason Voorhees Contingent include a veritable Rogue's Gallery of Hypocrites. There's Rick Santorum, the "devout Catholic" who supports the death penalty against the Catholic Church's teachings and defied two popes in supporting the Iraq War. And Rush Limbaugh, who calls Ms. Fluke a slut for wanting contraception but was busted in the Domenican Republic with loads of Viagra. And let's not forget Ron Paul, the so-called "Libertarian" who just happens to make an exception in the case of women's health. Oh, and lest you think the Jason Voorhees Contingent is an all-male bastion, meet Dana Loesch and "Everybody Loves Raymond" star Patricia Heaton. These folks are aided and abetted by establishment types like John Boehner, who's been coddling them in Congress like overindulged rock stars, and Mitt Romney, who went from being against the Blunt bill to being for it, all in the space of one hour.

In their fervor to impose their will with these issues, they're like the cartoon protagonist who seems so obsessed with ridding himself of an unwanted household pest that he ends up trashing his own house in the process. They just don't care about the collateral damage.

Take their insistence on new forced trans-vaginal ultrasound laws, for example. Anyone who thought TSA patdowns were too invasive should be scared shitless by this. Forget "slippery slope". This is a sheer drop.

In some cases they actually want to give women LESS rights than fetuses. There was the partial-birth abortion ban which curiously lacked any exception for saving the life of the mother. Then there was the recent bill that would have allowed doctors to deny a woman an abortion even if she would die without it. From my perspective, it might as well have been called the "Helplessly Watch Your Wife Die Amendment". If said woman were already a mother, I guess the new widower and his now-motherless children could take comfort in the fact that the doc didn't compromise his morals, except perhaps for the whole "letting Mom die" part, right?

They can't even be concerned with getting protecting the unborn right. These are the same folks who want to allow fracking and roll back safety regulations on food and water, as if those things aren't consumed by expectant mothers along with everyone else. After all, we don't want too much government intrusion, do we?

I can respect people's beliefs on abortion and contraception, whatever they may be. I can respect their wanting fewer abortions. But when their methods become so reckless, short-sighted, and malicious that they severely endanger human health, rights and lives, I can't respect that.

Especially when they're rejecting such a simpler and more obvious solution.