Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Maybe you've been thinking recently about Amazons, and how the peace-loving women of Paradise Island could attack in the new mini-series, "Amazons Attack." I mean, they lived separately for years, and they didn't attack any of the other times that the world almost got blown up, or Wonder Woman got killed or captured or depowered, or the OMACs attacked.

Apparently, they are now all really, really evil. Not just the leaders, but all of them. Evil evil evil.

Bad, bad Amazons.

I mean, sure, they Attack and everything. That's why it's called "Amazons Attack." Why are they attacking, though? And why are they killing innocent Asian bystanders?

Only possible solution I can think of . . . Bad, Evil, Man-Hating Amazons.

So, with only five issues left to find out I've come up with six possible working theories.

1. Industrial strength mind-control drug mixed into the Paradise Island drinking water.

2. These bitches just need to get laid.

3. We are on Opposite World, and Washington D.C. will soon be saved by Bizarro Superman.

4. Feminazis. They have always been feminazis. You knew it. I knew it. We all knew this was going to happen eventually.

5. We all know this is what Andrea Dworkin would have really wanted, if she were still alive.

6. DC didn't think it could sell 6 issues of "Amazons Fight a Defensive War at Home."

Crap, how could I have forgotten:

7. PMS. The Amazons' war will end in a week after their synchronized menstrual cycles have moved on. Actually, thinking about this -- did Black Adam have PMS?


I figure it's got to some combination of those six. Or, you know, maybe all of them.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Gail Simone to Write Wonder Woman

The worst kept secret is now official.
beginning with issue #13, and going on for the foreseeable future, Gail Simone will write the Wonder Woman series.

I'm cautiously optimistic.

Happy Thoughts to the Gov

A quick note sending best wishes to our Governor Jon Corzine who appears to be in critical condition with lots of broken bones following a car crash. He is a great guy, and we all wish him a quick and full recovery.

Meanwhile, I can't help but wonder whether G-d is somehow telling us that Dick Codey should be governor instead. We all love Dick Codey. We would certainly vote for him, were he to ever choose to run. He is, however, the only man in America, who when he said he wasn't running for governor because he wanted to spend more time with his family, actually MEANT it. It is a big problem with politics that we can't really vote for a candidate until he or she decides to run.

And yet, his failure to run, and lack of desire to actually be, governor of New Jersey, has once again failed to prevent him from actually BEING the governor.

Senate President Codey first became acting Governor in 2002, after Christie Whitman left to become Bush's ill-fated EPA Chair (she was later canned for attempted to actually protect the environment.) Republican Donald DiFrancesco actually directly succeeded Whitman, but the Democrats took back the Senate before the next gubernatorial election, so Codey got to serve as governor before the McGreevey took office.

In 2004, Codey again became acting Governor following Governor Jim McGreevey's post-"I'm gay and cheated on my wife" resignation.

Now, in 2007, Corzine crashed on his way to meet Don Imus (who, honestly, I have never listened to or cared about), and Dick Codey is back in the Big Chair.

Dear Dick. You have been a great governor in your three non-consecutive "acting" elevations. Your constant attempts to not be governor are obviously not working out. You are fighting against fate here. Please run for governor before somebody dies.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Wedding Vowels (Fables #50)

A: Absolute Surrender.

First, Karen objects to this page from Fables #50, where, after several pages of romantic words, Bigby proposes to Snow.

"Okay, you've defeated me. You win."

Karen's response:

Me: “Yeah, right. Defeated her. Because love metaphorically described a game where marriage involves winning for men and defeat for women isn’t at all problematic.”

Actually, my take was exactly the opposite. Traditionally, marriage has been considered a "win" for the woman, and a "loss" for the man -- whose goal is stereotypically to continue getting the "milk for free" for as long as possible. Snow's "You've defeated me" I took as a reversal of the "usual" game, with the man pressing marriage and the woman resisting.

Certainly, there is a strong argument that marriage shouldn't be "winning" or "losing" for anyone. But here it wasn't really the marriage that I saw as the "defeat", but rather Snow's inability to stay angry.

In any event, it is certainly ambiguous, and while I was not offended, it is certainly worth discussing. There are several good responses to that point in her own thread.

E: Exchanging Vows

For proposal and acceptance, we quickly move to the wedding, with King Cole officiating.

"Wilt thou obey him and serve him . . ."

Karen engages in book throwing:

Me: “She said WHAT? WILLINGHAAAAAAAAAAAAAM! *book toss*”

Straight out of the 1559 Book of Common Prayer, folks, Snow White promises to obey and serve her husband.

As the kids say these days, what the fuck?

This is a stupid, hidebound, “romantic” gesture, but it’s also a solemn oath made by a fairy tale character, and those have narrative weight. Promises come up time and again in fairy tales and there are severe penalties for breaking one’s word. I don’t for one moment think that Snow White would take this vow lightly, or pass it off as cutely romantic. She is really promising to obey and serve him.

My take was, again, a little different. Perhaps because I had a traditional Jewish wedding, where both the husband and wife recite the identical phrase: "Behold, thou art consecrated to me with this ring, according to the laws of Moses and Israel."

Yeah, the laws of Moses and Israel include such favorites as the "Ordeal of the Sotah," which explains a husband's right to order the wife to drink bitter waters and swear and oath of cursing if he suspects infidelity. The unfaithful wife will then suffer thigh sagging and belly swelling. (Numbers, Chapter 5).

Let's say that there was never any thought on either party's part that we were agreeing to be held to ALL of the laws of Moses.

As I understand it, the "Obey" language was pretty popular until pretty recently. It wouldn't surprise me that in an isolated community like Fabletown it would retain currency -- as a tradition if not as an actual practice (which no one is here claiming).

Karen points out the "solemn oath" part, and there is certainly something to be said about the "Ella Enchanted" possibilities here. So, while I was certainly not offended by the traditional wedding vows, I can again see the point.

I: Idiotic Response

After Karen's article was linked to from the Comic Book Journal, writer Bill Willingham responds:

If you’ll forgive me being just a bit picky about today’s Fables/Fangirls Attack bit in your blog, I don’t think Snow White’s politics had much to do with why she was willing to take a vow considered so egregiously outdated by the current standards of some. I put it down more to the fact that she (like everyone) is a part of her culture and upbringing — and granted her conservative politics issue from that too. Remember the Fables premise is that all of these characters are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old and they may, from time to time, act in character, which will perforce be a bit old fashioned by our lights. Since this series isn’t a political tract, nor a handbook of proposed conduct of any sort, I thought the story was better served by having her act more in according to her established character and background, rather than as an approved example of the current vogue in modern human enlightenment. Fables is (one hopes) a series of entertaining stories about folks who aren’t like us, not a set of lessons to be learned. I knew this choice would be seen as unforgivable by some, but that’s showbusiness.
This first paragraph demonstrates a complete missing of the point. No one was suggesting that he was not writing "entertaining stories," or that Snow White should "act in character." As I pointed out before, Snow White refuses to say the word "abortion" and in many other ways appears to be a very Republican/Conservative character. Perhaps it completely in character to use the "obey" vow (I thought it likely was). Karen obviously disagrees, and has good reason to.

Willingham's response was not -- like mine is, I hope -- an argument that Snow acted in character and not anti-feminist. His response was, essentially, "It's just a story, and as such cannot be critiqued." That, of course, is crap.

O: Over the Top Follow Through

Of course, that was just the first paragraph of the response. Paragraph two makes #1 almost not worth mentioning.

However, since I am a peacemaker at heart, allow me this opportunity to extend this olive branch to the esteemed Attacking Fangirls and any other segment of my readership that took similar offense at Snow’s wedding vow: I’ve decreed that all further printings of this story will remove the following panel where Snow turns to the audience and says, “And I require all Fables readers to follow my example.” Now, as far as Snow’s “you’ve defeated me” line. Yeah, that one was unforgivable by the standards of any age. They got me on that one. Get my suite at the re-education camp ready, I’ll come along quietly.
Because, of course, any objection to a story by a feminist is an implied call for censorship and Communist brainwashing.

U: Utter Contempt

As you can see, I started out pretty pro-Willingham in defending him against Karen's criticisms. That is, until he opened his big mouth and tried to defend himself, which is making me wonder whether I was giving him too much credit to begin with.

I still think Snow White acted largely in character, and was not upset with her choice of a traditional wedding vow. Sometimes that's just simply "how it's done," and if King Cole is the one who is performing the service, sometimes you just go with the program.

But to say I disagree with Karen's conclusions is not at all to say that I think she was wrong to raise the issues, or that I think she's trying to brainwash me, or I don't think she's making a lot of good points along the way.

Sometimes Why

Sometimes I wonder why writers feel obliged to step up and defend their work. If it is written well, it should stand on its own, even if some people will always misinterpret it. Fables is still one of my favorite comic books.

Bill Willingham, I now realize, is a jerk.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Which Half Did You Get?

Assuming you are not completely insane and bought both editions of JLA#7 just to get the complete picture, which cover did you buy?

Left Half (Dinah, Roy, Superman, Hawkgirl, half of Batman) or Right Half (other half of Batman, Red Tornado, Wonder Woman, Black Lightning, Vixen, and Hal)?

It took me a surprisingly long time to pick the Right Half, not because I didn't like it better, but because the left one was first on the shelf.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Secret Identities and Wonder Woman

I'm still contemplating Wonder Woman #6, and am not ready to write about yet. Ragnell thought it was pretty bad, and since my initial reaction was the opposite, and since I usually agree with her opinion, I wanted to ponder further before commenting.

I will say that I did enjoy the can't-pump-her-own-gas type issues, and while some people saw them as unrealistic, I was reminded of the parallels to President Bush the Elder who was chided for not understanding the grocery store scanner, as he was so patrician he never did his own shopping. (Also, I live in New Jersey, were self-serve is illegal, so it is not surpring to meet adults who have never self-pumped).

I will also admit that part of what made me enjoy it was not an explicit part of the story, but what I saw as the implied question of whether she should reveal here (new) secret identity to Nemesis. Nemesis seems like a bright guy, so I can't see him being fooled forever, and eventually he's going to be pretty upset that he spent whatever-number of issues chasing down the woman who turned out to be his partner. She could probably trust him with the secret, and get on with it.

Keeping Superman's secret identity from Lois took increasingly convoluted methods that painted Lois as a total moron, and they weren't even partners. The original Wonder Woman/ Steve Trevor secret identity issues were so far beyond the pale that I would hate to see them repreated. (Note to self: Compare Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane to Golden Age Steve Trevor -- the similarities are overwhelming.) Anyway, here are a few panels from Wonder Woman v.1 #92, which is perhaps the most ridiculous Wonder Woman (or anyone else) secret-identity-maintenance ploy ever.

First Steve and Diana Prince are sucked into another dimension and are attacked by diamond-monster thingies. When Prince disappears, and Wonder Woman fights the bad guys, Steve knows the "truth", because there was no other way that Wonder Woman could have gotten to the other dimension.

It seems you are busted, Ms. Prince. There is no way that Steve Trevor can BOTH hold your hand AND see you appear somewhere else! But wait! Steve never said that he would use his peripheral vision while holding your hand, so there's still a chance!

And through the whole conversation, both in and out of the tunnel, Steve never once looks to his left to see that "Diana Prince" was only "Diana Lasso Hand." Stupid, stupid Steve.

Anyway, I really want to like Nemesis, but for each issue in which he fails to realize that his partner (and not just co-worked, like Lois Lane) is really Wonder Woman, he falls further and further into "I confused Diana Prince with a Piece of Rope" Trevor territory.

In my reading, Diana is contemplating how far to take this new "Diana Prince" thing, and that is part of what makes it interesting to me.

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Kara's Dad, and His Daughter the 'Oklahama' Prop (Supergirl 16)

Characters: Major Heroes: Zor-El
Minor Heroes: Supergirl

Major Villains: Jor-El, Phantoms

(Supergirl having that "not so fresh" feeling)


After an unexplained Power Boy Red-splosion, Kara is transported into the previously unknown Exposition/Flashback Universe ("E/FU"), where apparently nothing exists except for Zor-El, but numerous overlapping plot points are revealed in a manner that has minimal credibility, except that I think we are supposed to believe it on the basis of internal plot construction.

In the E/FU, we see Jor-El (the Marlon Brando version from Superman I) explaining how great the "Phantom Zone" is, and lots of bad guys get trapped there. Concurrently, urban blight starts appearing, spurred by apparitions that only Zor-El can see. Zor-El soon gleans that these apparitions are "phantoms" who are travelling to our world through the Phantom Zone projector, and begins a crusade to shut down the Zone and fight the phantoms.

Over the next few months or years, Kara is drawn into her father's world -- both a victim of his experiments to create a defense for the phantoms, and as a weapon to destroy individuals who have been taken over by the phantoms -- including her schoolmates and eventually her mother. Meanwhile, the phantoms recognize the Zor-Els as related to the Jor-Els, and attack on familial grounds.

Understandably disturbed by the matricide, Kara has some mental breaks, and we learn that the whole Zor-El clan is to be banished to the Phantom Zone just as the time that Krypton starts to break apart.

Jor-El is planning to send his son (Superman) to Earth, but Zor-El believes that the phantoms will follow him there. Unable to convince anyone else that the phantoms are real, Zor-El will send Kara after Kal-El to Earth to protect the new world from falling prey to the same plight as the old one.

("Poor Zor-El is Dayd . . .")


Issue number one here is: Do we have a credible narrator? Our story so far seems to point to "No." First of all, Zor-El is dead, so how do we know our narrator is, in fact, the body in question? Second, all we know about Zor-El in the story so far is that he was this evil, evil man who hooked up his daughter to a death spike machine, ordered her to kill Superman, was considered evil on Krypton, encouraged her to kill school children, etc. Third, there was the whole evil-Kara black-Kryptonite thing. Fourth of all, even if we have the real Zor-El telling the real story from his perspective, how do we know that he was right in the first place? The phantoms could have all been his hallucinations, and Jor-El and the others could have been right.

And yet, the way the evil flashback scenes are woven in to this narrative of "Zor-El as misunderstood hero" makes me think we are supposed to believe it. It just seems to complicated to come up with two completely distinct narratives in which the flashback scenes flow. It also allows the plot to project forward with Kara the possible savior of Earth. So, let's assume that we're getting a "real" story here.

Issue Number Two is: Assuming a real story, how long are we going to have to wait to figure out what the heck else is going on with Kara. I mean, if we can't even figure out why there's "Supergirl" Kara and Candor Kara and League of Superheroes Kara in the E/FU, what hope to we have of ever finding it out?

Which brings us to:

Issue Number Three: Here's the big one. Let's assume that this is a perfectly fine plot-line. I've got no issues with fighting phantoms from the Phantom Zone, or casting doubts on the brilliance of Super-Dad, or anything else. When the heck is Supergirl going to start being about -- you know -- Supergirl? It looks like at least one more issue will take place in the E/FU, sending yet another "FU" to fans who want to read about the actual character in her books, instead of her dad.

You know, I was trying to remember who it was that Kara was reminding me of, and it finally hit me. It wasn't a "who" -- it was a "what." No surprise there, I guess. Have you seen the musical "Oklahoma"? Remember the bad guy, Jud Frye? He's in the market for pornographic pictures one day, and the traveling salesman offers him a novelty item. It's a little view-finder thing where you look in a little hole, and see a pornographic picture on the far side. Hours of entertainment for the lonely farmhand, right? Except this particular model has a button on top that if you press it a knife shoot out into your eye. Jud buys the items with the intent of using it on his romantic rival, Curley.

Well, that's Kara for you. A pretty picture with hidden blades in her. A means rather than her own ends. Even if we believe the "good Zor-El" version of events, he still used his daughter as a weapon and loaded her with pointy crystals, which can't be good for your overall well being.

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