Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What, again?

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I know, I know.

Thank goodness for Sleestak.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Around Blogopolis

A dated but still interesting biography of William Marston, creator of Wonder Woman. And an overview of the character from the Comic Book Periodic Table.

In a sweeping example of what passes for feminism in comics, the Big Three Superteams of DC Comics (Justice League, Justice Society, and Legion) are all being led by women. Even though nothing in any of these characters' backstories has indicated that they actually qualify for the position. Black Canary, in particular, just left the Birds of Prey with the stated purpose of spending more time mothering her newly adopted daughter Sin, and now here she is allegedly bossing Batman around. At least over in the Marvel universe, where Janet van Dyne leads the Mighty Avengers, it doesn't seem quite so much like they pulled her name out of a hat.

Over in Lady, That's My Skull, Sleestak offers what should be the final word on the Showcase Presents Batgirl cover controversy.

According to Occasional Superheroine, DC is facing a Countdown to Change that may mean the end of the Didio era. At Journalista, Dirk Deppey writes an overall favorable mention of the post that ignites a feminist firestorm with one ill-conceived, largely misunderstood joke.

(Look: I find Occasional Superheroine to be a thoughtful, sometimes moving blog, well worth the read from the first post in the archive. But at the same time, in this particular post she does repeatedly use the word "c**k-up", complete with self-aware, self-censoring asterisks. It might be insulting to suggest even jokingly, as Deppey does, that she suffers from "fear of c**k". But what if he meant fear of the word? Isn't that what censoring it implies?)

(See also Pretty Fizzy Paradise and the Comics Reporter.)

Just to lighten the mood a little, Devon at Seven Hells presents Subtext Follies featuring Wonder Woman.

What Were They Thinking asks, what kind of student sends a photo like this to their old teacher?

And Jimmy Olsen's Blues presents a review of the recent death of Bart Allen and return of Wally West, by... Bart Allen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Men are from Krypton, Women are from Themiscyra

Pretty Fizzy Paradise: I get asked sometimes why I care so much about something as "minor" as feminist issues in comics. Why does it matter? Why don't you find something else? It's designed for guys! ... I've realized, and this is not intended to be an insult, that most men have no idea what it's like to be a woman.

(Read that first.)

Comparing Linda Park to Lois Lane isn't quite apples vs apples. Ms Park is a television reporter, and there may be no environment on the planet where What You Look Like is perceived to matter more than on television. Ms Lane is a newspaper reporter: I won't pretend appearance is irrelevant, but what really matters is who you know and what you know.

Hm. If anyone at DC is listening, I'd love to see a Linda Park / Lana Lang encounter. I'd think they'd have a lot to talk about. I'm guessing "beauty tips" wouldn't be very high on the list. But that's really a tangental issue.

I could argue that if women want men to "get over" caring what women look like, that this expectation is unrealistic. It's hardcoded in us. But it certainly is realistic to expect us to keep our damn' mouths shut about things that are none of our business. Under most circumstances, things that are none of our business include how much makeup is enough, whether we think your boobs hang straight, how much you weigh, or whether the rug matches the curtains.

Women are human beings, and that should be reflected in the way they are spoken to, spoken of, and depicted. That doesn't seem too much to ask.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Under the Green Sun

By the era of the stories collected in Showcase Presents Superman #3, the new approach was beginning to become a rut of its own. Superman went from being the sole survivor of Krypton to being the custodian of a lilliputian city full of them, plus he had a teenaged cousin to keep an eye on. Every story explored the mythology: the easy availability of kryptonite of various colors, the ongoing threat to his secret identity and/or bachelor status posed by the workday presence of Lois Lane and Lana Lang, the revolving-door escapees from the newly-discovered Phantom Zone. It was getting harder and harder to present the Man of Steel with any real threat.

Which is why it fascinates me that, in the midst of all this, came this gem from Bill Finger and Wayne Boring. Finger was better known (when known at all, in these days before story credits) as a strong contributor to the Batman legacy, while Boring is the artist (following Schuster himself, and preceding Curt Swan) who defined for a generation of readers what Superman is supposed to look like.

This story owes more to the pulp magazines that inspired early comics than to the comics that immediately preceded it. John Carter wouldn't have been out of place in this story. Superman just happens to be cruising through interstellar space (because he can, I guess) when he happens upon a monster threatening a group of people (the human form being the default form of intelligent life) who don't notice it's there because they're blind.

If I attempt to summarize what happens in this sixteen-page story, it'll look like I'm trying to make fun of it, and I'm not. Despite -- or, perhaps, because of -- the absence of Lois, Jimmy, kryptonite, or any familiar element of the mythos, Finger and Boring prove that they still know what makes Superman tick. This may be my favorite Superman story ever.