Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Stupid Questions #2

#2 is a series of questions that are either too stupid for anyone else to ask because they all know the answer, or else everyone ELSE thinks their too stupid, so are not asking, even though they don't know either:

Is The Ray White when he's out of costume and Black when he's in costume, or is it just a differential lighting thing?

Has any superhero ever had a secret identity that was a different race from his superhero identity?


Monday, January 29, 2007

We Welcome Our New Corporate Overlords (Action Comics #6: Cover Date, November 1938)


Main Heroes: Superman, Lois Lane

Main Villains: Nick Williams


A man claiming to be Superman's "agent" walks into the newspaper office. He shows Clark and his editor a radio ad for "Supeman's" breakfast cereal, a blimp pulling ad ad for Superman gasoline, and a billboard for Superman's automobile. Clark is dubious, and asks for proof. Proof is to provided that evening, when the real Superman will do feats of strength at the agents office.

Lois hears of the demonstration, and tricks Clark in order to get the story for herself. She invites him on a date (where a lounge singer sings a Superman song!) and then slips him a mickey. Clark pretends to pass out, and Lois sneaks away to do the exclusive interview.

The "real Superman", however, is only an actor, and the feats of strength involve "flying" in from the outside ledge, and lifting a desk made out of cardboard. Lois is not fooled for a second. So, Superman and his agent throw Lois out the window . . . where she is rescued by the REAL real Superman, who proceeds to arrest the con artists/ murderers.


Clark Kent is stunned to look out the newspaper office's window and see all the Superman parephernalia for sale (didn't he see the billboard on his way in to work that morning!) While the text is that the problem is corporate sponsorship without permission, the sub-text is clearly that this sort of corporate shilling is a bad thing. (Otherwise, why didn't the real Superman go out and do it himself?) The images are supposed to represent over-the-top marketing saturation.

But for those of us who grew up with "The Underwear That's Fun To Wear!" -- well, we're not that impressed. It struck me as I was thinking about commercialism how completely un-shocking it was that there was a time when everyone could purchase super-hero underwear. What would Clark Kent think about 5 years olds running around in 50% polyester red and yellow underpants?

I can't imagine that he would be pleased. And yet . . . I can't really get worked up about it. Maybe I have truly submitted to my corporate overlords.

Random Thought #1: Note for the comparison shopper, though. Superman was 50% cotton, but Supergirl was 100% polyester. Who knew?

Random Thought #2: Why are the pictures of the Underoos inside of thought bubbles?

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Coming in from the Racial Snowstorm (52 #38, Cover Date 1/24/07)


Main Heroes: Renee Montoya, Will Magnus
Minor Heroes: The Question, Steel, Natasha Irons, Dr. Midnite

Main Villians: Chang Tzu
Minor Villains: The Mad Scientists


The majority of this week's installment revolves around Renee's desperate attempt to get Charlie back to Nanda Parbat before he dies. This involves lots of pulling of a sled through the Himalayan wilderness and low moaning from Charlie. semi-cryptic discussion of butterflies, and a last second reprieve as Nanda Parbat is revealed from the midsts of the white wasteland.

In other news, Chang Tzu reveals that the scientists have recreated the four horesemen of the apocolypse using the "Revelation of Apokalips", a blueprint provided in the Bible of Crime. War, Death, and Pestilence are introduced, but Famine seems to have ridden out earlier.

Also, Steel and Dr. Midnite briefly examine an Everyman corpse, and consider how wise it is to storm Luthor's facility. They are interrupted by Natasha, who has come to her senses and is now working for the good guys from the inside.


After answering the burning "Who is Supernova" mystery last week -- it turns out that he was secretly Basil Exposition from Austin Powers -- things settled down to a more leisurely pace in Week 38. Of the 20 pages of story (not including the "Origins of Red Tornado"), 13 pages take place wondering in the white wasteland with Montoya, 5 are in Oolong Island with the scientists, and only 2 are with Steel in Metropolis. (No word from space, Ralph, or Skeets this week).

And speaking of coming in from the White Wastelands, I have been impressed with all the rehabilitations of racist stereotypes so far this year. I talked about Ebony before, but, really, if I were going to guess the "least likely to be rehabilitated", it would have to have been the evil Emperor "Egg Fu" (pictured above in all of his non-P.C. glory in his original "Wonder Woman" days.) Now renamed Chang Tzu, I have almost completely forgotten that he was previously named after a menu item from Peking Duck House, despite still being shaped like one of its ingredients.

Chang Tzu, by the way, far from being "One from Column A", was a Taoist philosopher, most famous for stating, "I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man." This ties in very well with Charlie's rantings about butterflies on the Himalayan pages, and I wonder whether or not it was intentional.

I think everyone reading "52" has a favorite thread, and are disappointed when it doesn't appear. For me, the Chang Tzu quote reminds me of my favorite character thread who was absent this week -- Ralph Dibney. The "Helmet of Fate" mini is making me think less and less that Ralph is "really" wandering around with the Helmet. That leaves me to think he is either complete insane, or -- what I think is more likely -- that he's having a Jacob's Ladder/ Donnie Darko moment.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Revenge of the Late Comics

Unlike nearly everyone else, I don't complain when a comic I want to read is late. I just save money that week. I'm not really in a hurry.

I am concerned, however, that 2 of the 3 sneak previews for January 24 are listed on DC's site as coming January 31. If they start putting out books EARLY on a regular basis, that completely blows my budget, and I may start whining.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (Walk In #1)

Main Hero: Ian
Minor Heroes: Astrid

Main Villains: Unknown


Ian is a poor, world traveling guy from Manchester who lives through his wits, and by taking advantage of people who believe that since he's British, he must have money. He tries to settle down, but he keeps having black-outs and waking up weeks later in another city. Also, he is having visions of a futuristic people, and he can't tell whether or not he is hallucinating.

Today he's in Moscow, eating the free buffet in a burlesque club and trying to hide the fact that he doesn't have any money for tips. When the bouncer tries to throw him out, he says that he's really a part of the act -- a "Dreamcatcher" who can tell you your dreams. He also gets to crash with Astrid and her stripper friends, but this doesn't work out too well, since they've also got a really bad German band crashing there.

Ian's act is a scam, similar to carnival "fortune tellers" who speak from generalities and let the gullible feed the details, but one night he is challenged by a heckler who has seen his act multiple times. In response, Ian focuses in and REALLY reads his dreams, telling him about how he dreamed of killing his brother and burying the body.

As he goes to the window that night to avoid the annoying all-hours practice session of the German band, he sees that his "vision" is replaced by an entire futuristic city.


Okay, I'll be honest. If you were to have asked me, say, last month, "Who were the members of the Eurythmics", I would have answered clearly and without hesitation: "It was Annie Lennox and that other person!"

If you were then to ask me, "Who is Dave Stewart", I would have responded, with less certainty, "Um, didn't he pitch for the Phillies back during the time I was listening to Annie Lennox and whatisname in the Eurythmics?"

Now, I would have gotten both questions right, but I would have completely missed that the OTHER GUY in the Eurythmics was actually ALSO named Dave Stewart (and also, that the pitcher became much more famous after he was traded to the Oakland A's, but Phillies Phans can't be expected to care about the American League.)

I also would have done better than "Walk In"s Wikipedia page, which currently links to an Eisner award winning colorist also named Dave Stewart as the creator of "Walk In", rather than the non-Lennox Eurythmics guy.

I'll tell you, I'm a sucker for this type of "Is it Real or Is It Memorex" Total Recall/Matrix-type story. And this one is very well done, at least for Issue #1, with characters I don't know yet.

Also, on a scale of 1 to 10 for exploitative-stripper scenes, where "10" is "Friday night at midnight on Cinemax," and "1" is a "supervised grade-school performance of 'Gypsy'", this is really closer to a 3, which is surprisingly low for an "R-rated" comic book.

I continue to love all of the variety in the Virgin comic books line, and recommend them all (I actually own all of them!) So, that's all for this one. No deep thoughts or literary criticism. Just a good story. Maybe they'll do an Annie Lennox one next!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ten Minor Things That Make Me Hate OMAC

I have tried several times to write one of my "standard-form" posts about OMAC, but I gave up. Instead, I'm just going to complain, with some new kvetches, and some repeated from previous posts.

1. The cover of OMAC #4 involves a projection of vagina dentata, with an OMAC-shaped head-penis projecting between Vienna's breasts.

2. An experienced 26 year old has sex with a 17 year old virgin boy, and afterwards swoons that its the best sex she's ever had. TOTALLY Mary Sue.

3. Mike and Vienna fly from Nevada (where the age of consent in 16) to California (where the age of consent in 18), and choose to have sex there. This gives new meaning to "Crossing state lines for immoral purposes." It wasn't statutory rape until they crossed the state line!

4. Superman looks into Vienna's womb the day after she and Mike have sex and tells him the she is "carrying" his child. Even if one of Vienna's eggs were fertilized when they had sex the day before, there is at least five days between fertilization and implantation. There is approximately a 50/50 chance that implantation will not occur successfully. It is really bad form to refer to Vienna as "carrying" anything before the fertilized egg attaches to her.

5. The cover of OMAC #7 shows only Mike and Vienna, but I count at least 5 hands.

6. Superman is trapped inside of Brother Eye because it has kryptonite walls, and he calls Mike to help him out? Not, like, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern?

7. I still have NOOOO idea what parts of the story are dream sequence and which are real. All I know for sure is that more than 25% of #7 was not "really happening."

8. Cover of OMAC #8? Meet vagina dentata. Again.

9. The OMAC virus is an STD that is passed from a virgin.

10. There is no way this is all going to get cleared up in only 22 more pages.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Manhunter Sales

#24 (July): 14,600 (#134)
#25 (August): 15,100 (#128)
. . .

#26 (December): 23,767 (#96)

Enough of an increase to "Save" Kate again?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Love Square: Superman in Action #5 (Cover Date October 1938)

Continuing my writings on the earliest comic book stories I have:


Main Heroes: Superman, Lois Lane


The newspaper gets a report that the Valleyho dam is cracking following a storm and is about to give way. The editor wants to send Kent, but he's not in the office.

Editor: Well, look for his, Lois -- And have him report before I lose my mind!

Lois Lane: But why not have me hand the assignment?

Editor: Can't! It's too important! -- This is no job for a girl!

Lois Lane heads off Clark outside the Daily Star office and sends him off on a phony lead that a women in the hospital is about to give birth to septuplets. By the time he realizes he's been duped, Lane is on the last train to Valleyho, and Kent is fired.

Changing into Superman garb, Kent races and leaps to Valleyho, passing Lois's train just in time to support the bridge that is about to be washed away until the train is over. Everyone is fleeing Valleyho except Lois, who is given a taxi by a cabbie who is leaving on the next train. Superman, meanwhile, tries to keep the dam from bursting long enough for the people to escape. When it finally crumbles around his hands, only one car is in the path of rushing water -- Lois's cab. Superman saves Lois from drowning and then creates an avalanche, knocking down a mountain top that diverts the flow of water away from Valleyho, saving the town.

Kent calls in to the editor, saying that he took an airplane to Valleyho and agrees to report on the story if he is re-hired.


If I can psycho-analyze Lois Lane for a moment, the general impression of Golden Age Lois is as caught between Superman on one hand and Clark Kent on the other. Here is Lois with Superman, after he has rescued her and she has kissed him:

Superman: Enough of that! -- I've got to brink you back to safety -- Where I'll be safe from you!

Lois: The first time you carried me like this I was frightened -- Just as I was frightened of you. But now I love it -- Just as I love you! Don't go! Stay with me -- always.

And two frames later, with Clark.

Clark: Lois! That wasn't a nice stunt you pulled on me! But I still like you.

Lois: Who cares! ("--The spineless worm! I can hardly bear looking at him. After having been in the arms of a real He Man--")

So, we've got essentially the same conversation played out with the same people, with role reversal. A perfect love triangle, right? Except that it's not really a triangle -- not because there are only two people, but because there are really four. Does Lois really hate Clark because he's a "spineless worm"? Or does she hate him because of the conversation she had with the editor at the beginning of the story?

So, as I see it, this isn't a story about Lois loving Superman, or about Lois hating Clark. It's really a story about Lois hating her editor, who refused to assign a big story to her because she was a woman. Compared to the editor, Superman is stronger, has more power, and doesn't chastise her for taking on a big story. Compared to the editor, Clark has less power, less experienced, but is favored as a reporter because he's a man. If Clark were gone, the editor would have had no choice but assign the Valleyho story to her. Of course she is going to hate him!

Action #5 is the first story without a "bad guy." There is no corrupt Senator, or evil employer, or slimy football coach. In the global scheme, "bad guy" is the Valleyho dam, which threatens to wash out the town. But in the interpersonal scheme, the "bad guy" is really the editor. The sexist power imbalance is what is pushing Lois toward Superman, and away from Clark. With an egalitarian editor, Lois would have no reason to fear Clark, and therefore would not hate him as she does. As such, while the sexism obviously has the biggest negative impact on Lois, it also hurts Clark quite a bit. On an even playing field, he would be able to compete just fine with Lois as a report, and wouldn't have to be fighting such as uphill battle to befriend her.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Did White King's Knight Just Come Out? (Checkmate #9, Cover DateFeb. 2007)


Main Heroes: Checkmate, Department of Metahuman Affairs

Main Villains: Kobra


When last we saw our intrepid anti-heroes, a covert Kobra cell had just gone active, killed some racist drug-runners, and was promptly taken out by the Department of Metahuman Affairs. This upset Checkmate because one of the arrestees was actually a deep-undercover Checkmate agent (Pawn #502), and having an undercover agent in jail defeats the purpose. Much tension ensues between Checkmate and DMA over the necessity of the bust. ("They were killing people" v. "Yeah, but only bad people.")

So . . . Sasha Bourdeaux plans a "jail break" wherein the Kobra cell will make a daring escape while they are being transferred, killing six guards in the process. Bourdeaux deputizes the Shadowpact to create illusory guards to be "killed" by Kobra. Amongst those fake corpses is White King's Knight Thomas Jagger. Bourdeaux informs the Shadowpact that she's not done with them yet.

Meanwhile, Mr. Terrific has selected "The Thinker" as his (White King's) Bishop. I don't know anything about the Thinker, except from what I read here -- he appears to be an entirely artificial intelligence that is projected into the form of a human.


Checkmate is absolutely the best comic out there that absolutely no one is talking about -- especially no one who cares about diversity issues in comics -- because Checkmate gets it all absolutely right. All races, all genders, good guys, bad guys (plays hell with my "Characters" chart, since how the heck do you characterize Amanda Waller?) All represented, all full-fledged characters -- not "the woman" or "the Arab" or "the black guy". Even down to the cover (no "male gaze" in this Checkmate/DMA showdown!). I wrote in depth about the diversity success story in this post, and won't re-hash.

I am planning to adopt it as my "Lost Cause" as sales appear to be plummeting.

This week adds two more cards to the diversity pile, though. The Thinker adds that missing Artificial Intelligence diversity element (maybe DC was getting hate mail from Deep Blue.) More interesting though was Thomas Jagger (one of only three "regular white guys"), a regular since the beginning, who appears to "come out" as a stripper hits on the way to the Oblivion Bar, where he has accompanied Jessica Midnight and Josephine Tautin (Black Queen's Knight and Bishop) to recruit Shadowpact.

The door to the Oblivion Bar changes regularly, and for the next few hours it is in the back of a stripclub. Inside, the women are ignored, but a stripper immediately approaches Jagger.

Stripper: Hey there, soldier. . . why don't you make a lap so you can get to know me better.

Jagger: Wouldn't make a difference, I'm afraid. I'm gay.

Of course, it's possible that I'm the last one to know, and Jagger was already a known gay character. It's also possible that Jagger was just using a quick brush-off line to get the stripper to leave him alone so he could work. Also likely is that the whole matter just gets dropped. Checkmate is really more of a "work" title. There is either minimal or no examination of the private lives of the Checkmate agents. A few frames of Mr. Terrific and Sasha Bourdeaux together (are they still together?) a few indications that Waller is blackmailing Fire regarding something from her private life, but otherwise -- are any of these folks married? We don't know. It's not relevant. So, my money is on the issue just hanging there. Or returning to irrelevancy. No one cares if your gay when you're caught in a fire fight with Kobra agents.

Beyond the diversity however, it's a great, morally ambiguous, spy versus spy, counter-terrorist thriller of a book. A worthy successor to the OMAC Project mini, and I can't figure out why it's not more popular -- either mainstream or among the "WFA" crowd.

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Scheherazade and the 1,001 Comics (Manhunter #27, Cover Date Mar. 2007)


Main Heroes: Kate Spencer, Wonder Woman, Cameron Chase, Dylan, Mark Shaw
Minor Heroes: Sasha Bordeaux

Major Villain: Dr. Trapp


Wonder Woman and Kate Spencer are sitting in at Wonder Woman's grand jury testimony (which is, despite the explanation in the book, completely not going to happen). The two rattle the prosecutors and the judge, and otherwise show that the writer has been been a part of a grand jury. It is also unclear why the grand jury is meeting in Los Angeles, as no part of the alleged crime happened there other than its the location of the defendant's lawyer.

Sasha Bourdeax is watching TV footage of the hearings, and notes that the video of the killing of Max Lord has been doctored. She orders a Checkmate company jet and flies off to Los Angeles.

Chase almost kills Dylan, and then goes into a lengthy flashback about the time she was kidnapped by Dr. Trapp, and helped in her own rescue while her father the Acro-Bat and the rest of the Justice Experience tried to save her.

Mark Shaw has been captured in the Himalayas. He escapes momentarily, but as he runs away, comes face to face with a knight who welcomes him to the Order of Saint Dumas.

Finally, Wonder Woman and Kate face the press after a day of grand jury testimony, when the proceeding is interrupted when what appears to be Ted Kord dressed as the Blue Beetle emerges from his Beetle-Plane.


In the story of Scheherazade, a woman, under threat of execution by her evil husband, is forced to a story every night -- ending each story with a cliffhanger so that the evil King Shahryar would let her stay alive for another night. By analogy, a comic book writer, under threat of cancellation, is here forced to layer plot point over plot point in a vain attempt that his comic book will not be executed if everyone is waiting on the edge of their seat for the next issue. . .

Or something like that.

Here's what we've got so far:

1. In issue #25 Iron Monroe -- now believed to be Kate Spencer's grandfather -- barges into Director Bones's office, demanding to talk to him about Kate. There has been no discussion of the Kate's-ancestry plotline in issues #26 or #27. Also dropping off is any discussion of Kate's personal life -- ex-husband, son, etc.

2. Mark Shaw -- the former Manhunter -- is trekking through the Himalayas based on a vision. (He was en route on a boat in #25). This might be starting to go somewhere by the end of #27, but we're getting minimal clues so far. Those clues, however, raise almost an entirely new plotline, since the Knights of Saint Dumas (creator of Azrael from the Batman comics) were supposed to have been destroyed. Left unaddressed is what, exactly, Shaw had a picture of in #26 that made the native woman scream and flee.

3. Cameron Chase 's sister is being held hostage by the evil Dr. Trapp. She has fled to Gotham to save her. There was minimal development on this issue in #27, except for some back-story and the fact that now Dylan is helping her.

4. Sasha Bordeaux notes that the video of Wonder Woman being aired is a fake. Why is no one noticing this until now?

5. A shadowy figure in Washington at the end of #26 punches out a window, and asks why he does kill Wonder Woman like she killed Max Lord. Who is this shadowy figure, and who is he with?

6. Wonder Woman's actual grand jury issues. Will the grand jury hand down an indictment? What are the prosecutor's motives here?

7. Ted Kord???

So, that's seven distinct plotlines weaving around here (some of which have subplots). I was excited at the end of #26 that there were all these intriguing possibilities to work through over the next 4 issues. Now, I feel, we've got far too many plot points to ever be dealt with in just 3 issues, especially since most of them haven't even gotten past the point of background and foundation-laying.

This is now TWO issues in which nobody has gotten into costume and fought a bad guy. How long will evil King DC allow Queen Willingham to keep leaving cliffhangers to be picked up with the following issue? I'm guessin they won't be as gullible as to King Shahryar.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Teen Titans, One Year Later in Six Panels

Answering the call of the 30 Second Recap Contest, I have recapped the most recent arc of "Teen Titans". The excitement resides below.








Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Playing 52 Pick-Up with Racism (The Spirit #1: Cover Dated February 2007)


Main Heroes: The Spirit, Ginger Coffee
Minor Hero: Ebony, Mr. Wang

Major Villains: The Pill


National Network News Anchor Ginger Coffee has just been kidnapped live and on-air by masked gunmen believed to be working for "The Pill" -- crime lord Amos Weinstock -- upon whom Coffee had planned an expose linking him to various crimes. The gunmen are holding Coffee in an abandoned building where they are met by The Pill and Mr. Wang. After the crime lord departs, The Spirit makes his first appearance, breaking throug the upholstery of his car.

The Pill asks Coffee about her informant, but already knows it is Mr. Wang, whom the Pill kills/dissolves/melts/whatever with his blobby hands. As Coffee tries to run, the Spirit makes his move, and effects a rescue of Coffee, climbing first onto the roof, and later into the sewer system.

Coffee calls the TV station and leaves her phone on so that they can hear her daring escape. The broadcast makes rivetting television, but it lets everyone -- cops and robbers -- know where they are. Witty banter ensues until The Spirit discovers the cell phone. Caught between The Pill and a rogue cop, The Spirit and Coffee are saved at the last minute by Ebony, who swerves between them in his cab for the rescue.


There are certain issues which face any re-launch of a racially insensitive work. In the Spirit, the issue was what to do about that person in the lower right hand corner below.

That's Ebony, and on one hand he was a trailblazer -- the first major black sidekick in an inter-racial crime fighting comic book team. On the other hand -- well, the other hand is pretty obvious. Just look at him. Among the unresolved issues was whether he was a "man" or a "boy". At a time when grown black men could be called "boy", it didn't really make a difference. He was short and boyish, but he could also drive the getaway car.

So, let's posit (without concluding) that Ebony was a racial step forward for 1940, and a racial embarrassment for 2007. What do you do with him now for The Spirit, V.2?

Well, the first thing you do is you get 20 pages into the story mixing the racial pot so much that you don't remember which stereotype is which. Consider:

Ginger Coffee: Obvious racially-charged "colorful" name for a light-skinned black woman with almond-shaped eyes, given a powerful job, and not any hugely glaring black stereotypes or female stereotypes -- but a huge "reporter stereotype". She'll "do anything to get the story", including leaving her cell-phone on, talking in reporter-speak to broadcast her own rescue, putting herself and everyone around her at risk. It's a trite stock-character, but not an offensive one.

The Pill: Amos Weinstock. Plays on Bugsy Siegel/ Meyer Lansky Jewish-gangster stereotype that was big back when the original Spirit was published, but has lost its relevance now. There is even "stock footage" of Weinstock showed on a news broadcast of him in Cuba. Havana was a popular hang-out for gangsters (both Jewish and otherwise) in the 1950s. The Godfather has a scene set in Cuba feature Moe Greene, based in part on Bugsy Siegel, but was set before the Communist revolution. The "Cuba" footage is likely an homage to either the Godfather or that upon which the Godfather is based, but it is certainly an anachronism if The Spirit is supposed to be set in the modern day (as a black news anchor would imply). Gangsters stopped going to Cuba when Castro took over.

But The Pill himself is physically verging on pustulent albino -- skin nearly indistinguishable from his chalk-white suit. It is a disgusting display of Caucasian-ness gone awry.

Mr. Wang: Asian gangster, employee of The Pill turned informant. Good guy? Bad guy? He doesn't last long enough to find out.

The Spirit: Sure, he's a white guy , and a good guy, back when that was the unbroken norm. But here we get an explicit play on being "raceless"-- as a white man is perceived to be in America:

Coffee: So what's with all the drama? I mean, the hat and mask don't hide much . . . Is it how you get your freak on?

The Spirit: *Sigh* (covering Coffee's eyes) Describe me.

Coffee: Rigggght. I get it. You're a big blue average with a distraction stuck to his face.

See? He's not "a white guy". He's the incredible raceless wonder. The invisible man. Oliver Queen's mask doesn't disguise anything, because of the distinguishing facial hair, etc. The Spirit, though, is "generic man" -- brown hair, blue suit. It's confirming the "raceless" stereotype by drawing attention to it, and the fact that it works, without succumbing to it.

So, this is all in prelude to:


He is drawn to look about 20 years old, and maybe five feet tall. No facial hair. Young, but not childish. Ginger Coffee addresses him first upon being rescued in his cab:

Coffee: Now who is this snack-sized Nubian savior?

Ebony: Name's Ebony.

Coffee: Ebony? You're playin' me right? I mean, when you get home, do you stand on this guy's lawn with a lantern, or what?

Spirit: No, it's Tuesday. I stand on his lawn tonight. Geez, Eb, I'm sorry --

Ebony: I ain't shook. Besides . . This one's friendlier than your usual dates.

So, we have a black character pointing out, "Yes your sidekick appears to be an extreme racial stereotype". The one white character in the car jumps to his defense, and together they insult her in gender-specific terms.

So, we are left with a question. Is the book racist and sexist? Or is it a non-racist, non-sexist book ABOUT racism and sexism? I can see it both ways, and it will be interesting to see where it goes from there. Ebony and a dozen caucasians in every issue, or will playing with stereotypes become a feature instead of a bug? Given the baggage that The Spirit -- and the character of Ebony in particular -- comes with, this is probably the best outcome imaginable for Issue #1.

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