Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Virgin Comics is Back!

As one of Virgin Comic's five fans -- and maybe the only non-Hindu -- I am really excited that it might not be dead after all! This increases substantially the chances that I'll find out how that last arc of Devi turned out. Is Devi's long lost sister good or evil? Will Devi fall in love with the troubled but good-hearted policeman or the troubled but good-hearted reporter? Will her human or godish half take over?

I had despaired of ever finding out.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Only Love Quiz You Will Ever Need

In case you were concerned about what is really important to marital happiness.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Arbitrary Current Rankings

Five favorite comic books currently being published:

1. Trinity (even though I know y'all hate it)
2. Secret Six (even though there is only one out!)
3. Booster Gold
4. Amazing Spider-Man
5. Wonder Woman (aspirational that they will continue to be like the last issue).

Five comics I dropped recently.

1. Green Arrow/ Black Canary (end of stupid arc.)
2. Flash (stopped caring)
3. Batman and the Outsiders (what is this book about, exactly?)
4. Checkmate (even though it's the last arc, this quickly went from my favorite to 'why bother?')
5. The War That Time Forgot (half a year, and nothing has happened.)

Three trades that I picked up on a whim, and was surprised that I liked:

1. Planet Hulk
2. Scalped, Vol. 1
3. Marvel Masterworks X-Men, Vol. 1

Friday, September 19, 2008

DCU: Decisions #1

Stop it.

Just stop it.

I could understand if they said that Batman was a Republican. Or Alan Scott. Or Wonder Woman. Heck, it could even have been an interesting twist if Hawkgirl voted Republican.

By there is NO FREAKIN' WAY that Lois Lane is a Republican.

That is all.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Worst Comeback Ever

Quick! The villainous usurper Zogg has just called you a weakling. What is your comeback?

Let's hope your answer was better than Largyn of Liquel II's.

See, Supergirl v. Liquel II, 412 Adventure 19 (Nov. 1971).

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What the heck is going on in Action?

Can someone explain what I should be assuming in Action comics?

Less than a year ago, someone accidentally dropped the bottle city of Kandor in the Fortress of Solitude. Now the bottle city of Kandor is (a) in one piece; (b) in Brainiac's ship; and (c) has different people in it.

Is this a different bottle city of Kandor?

Does that last bottle city of Kandor not exist any more?

Is it the same bottle, but with new and exciting residents from Argo City in it?

What assumptions should I be making here?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Outing of Maggie Sawyer, Part II

As we saw Monday, Superman v. 2 #15 provides an overall positive portrait of Maggie Sawyer as an "out lesbian," and gives some good background of how the system worked against her.

It wasn't perfect, but it certainly wasn't bad for 1988, when there were no positive gay characters at all in the DC Universe. Also, the issue goes out of its way to avoid actually using the words "gay" or "lesbian."

But who cares what I think about Maggie Sawyer. The important question is, what does Superman think?

Interestingly, he draws a comparison between Maggie Sawyer and Cat Grant, both of whom are working mothers who lost custody of their kids. Unlike Maggie, however, Cat is portrayed as the "extreme heterosexual" -- always hitting on Clark, and other men in the office.

Cat lost her son Adam because she was an alcoholic; Maggie because she was a lesbian. Superman reasonably sees the former as a more reasonable factor in losing your kid than the latter. While this is a pretty good reaction from Superman, it may actually veer a little too far anti-Cat in its pro-Maggie-ness. Cat is also being watched and judged all the time. She just takes a different approach to dealing with it.

As Superman continues to interior-monologue, he almost thinks the forbidden "L Word."

Yes, Superman. It is ridiculous that she should have to give up her child because she's Hold It. Oh, wait, a Deus ex Machina flies through and distracts Superman just before he can contemplate the concept of "gay."

In a different sort of review of Superman #15, that winged kid would actually be the center-point. A bad guy is turning kids into winged creatures to rob buildings for him, and he was Jaime in his clutches, and will they rescue her before its too late?

Well, you can read the issue for that. This isn't that kind of review, and that's all we are going to see of the wing-kids.

Enough to say that Superman and Maggie Sawyer do what they have to do. And then includes following the Court Order. Even though he doesn't want to.

The issue ends inconclusively, with President James Buchanan agreeing to "think about" letting Jaime visit her mother. I guess that's the best we could hope for, absent a return to Golden Age Superman, who would have held Sawyer out of a high window until he agreed to sign an amended custody agreement. But there appear to be a lot of ranch houses around, so maybe that strategy wouldn't have worked here. And who knows if Golden Age Superman is as enlightened about gay parents as this Superman is.

So that's it. 22 pages of Maggie Sawyer -- bad mom, good cop, good lesbian. Was it an overall good portrayal? Good for the time period? Too wishy-washy? What do you think?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Green Arrow/ Black Canary -- The Year of Suck

Okay, so I've read a full year of Green Arrow/ Black Canary, and can I just say that it was the most convoluted piece of crap I have ever read?

I mean, I really like Black Canary. I also really like Green Arrow. (But, you know, just as a friend. I think Black Canary's decision to marry him is idiotic.)

But, as far as I can determine, this is what happened:

#1. Everyone thinks that Green Arrow is dead, because Black Canary killed him on their wedding night. In fact, Green Arrow is not dead, but has been kidnapped while Everyman took his place. Nobody knows this except for Green Arrow, his kidnappers, and -- of course -- Dr. Sivana.

#2. Green Arrow has actually been kidnapped by the Amazons and taken to Paradise Island. Why? It's not exactly clear. Because Granny Goodness wants her to train her new Female Furies? But that's HER job. What makes her think that Dinah could do it better than she could? And, more importantly, what makes her think that kidnapping Ollie would increase her likelihood of helping?

The whole plot to this point has the whiff of the underpants gnomes: (1) Steal Green Arrow; (2) ???; (3) Profit!

3. Anyway, Countdown tie-in checked off, the Gang of Four (GA, BC, Speedy, and Connor) leave the island when Connor is shot from a space ship. He was shot because, of course, Dr. Sivana wanted Green Arrow dead, and the assassins missed. Why? Perhaps he got advise from a rival group of underwear gnomes. Why did they wait until Ollie has escaped, and not shoot him when he was stationary in an open-air cage on Paradise Island? We don't know.

4. Connor's life is saved by Superman, but he is in a persistent vegetative state after Green Lantern is done operating. Did the space laser steal his soul? One might have imagined, but since the goal was to "Kill Green Arrow," you really wouldn't need to laser with the soul-sucker attachment.

5. Then, although the original goal was "Dead Ollie," there is soon after a plan to "kidnap Connor's body." Why? To make him a zombie, of course. Although we don't find that out until we also rescue Plastic Man, in a plot twist too tangential for this post.

6. There is then a lot of fighting with the League of Assassins, until it turns out that was all just a big misunderstanding. Oops. That part of stupid, but actually made internal sense. Shado was pretending to be Ras al Ghul. Got it.

7. Apparently, the only known cure for persistent vegetative states is for Dr. Sivana to turn you into a zombie, and then stop Dr. Sivana from turning you into a zombie. My thought was that you'd just stop being a zombie and go back to your vegetative state. But apparently not. Who knew?

It seems obvious to me that this started out going one place, and then half-way through someone said, "Hey, you can't have the bad guy be X! Change it!" And then they changed it on the fly, and through in a half-assed plot twist to explain it. Very, very disappointing.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

The Outing of Maggie Sawyer, Part I

Before Batwoman. Before Renee Montoya. Before Obsidian.

The was Metropolis police chief Maggie Sawyer. She wasn't a superhero, but she was a cast regular (and she still is, although she moved to Gotham at some point.) She was added to the cast right after the Crisis reboot with Superman #7 in 1987. Less than a year later, we got a good look at her personal life in Superman #15.

As the story opens, Maggie's pre-teen daughter Jaime has been missing for several days since she ran away from her father in Star City. The theory is that she has run off to find her mother, but no one is sure.

The above is the last panel on page 3. We don't know who is saying, "You don't know that, babe."

And the above is the top of Page 4. I guess these panels are the "outing" of Maggie Sawyer. Although, if you will notice, no where in the issue does anyone actually mention the word "gay" or "lesbian."

While reading this page, I suppose we are supposed to come to the shocking realization that Maggie and Toby are a "couple," but actually all that I got from it was the shocking realization that Maggie is an absolutely horrible mother. Her young daughter is missing, she is on a first name basis with Superman, and she doesn't call him until days later, after Toby convinces him? I don't think my daughter is missing ten minutes before I'm on the phone to Superman.

Anyway, Maggie eventually calls Superman -- although she still does not do it through official channels, instead going to Jimmy Olsen to use his signal watch. When Superman expresses surprise that Maggie has a kid, he blurts out the extremely tacky "I didn't even know you were married!"

Bad form, Superman. Maggie ignores the faux pas, however, and answers.

James Buchanan Sawyer. Her ex-husband is named after the President under whose watch the country fell apart before the Civil War? Are we comparing gay rights to civil rights? Or is that way to much of a stretch?

This is a very disturbing panel. It is possible that this is a picture of Maggie being proposed to on the beach, with a big phallic symbol in the far distance. Except that James Buchanan is not exactly in "I'm proposing" position. I think it is more likely that the couple is supposed to be a generic "happy couple," while Maggie is the small figure in the mid-distance staring at the phallic lighthouse. I am assuming that "things a proper Catholic girl doesn't even want to consider" doesn't relate to her doubts concerning transubstantiation.

Despite the theme that Maggie is a lesbian, this is the only panel in which anything sexual is going on.

Now, I may be completely off here, but the only thing I can figure is that Maggie is visiting a co-ed gay bar. The tip off, of course, is Mr. Mustache in the middle. Except that, generally, gay bars aren't co-ed. And both Mr. Mustache and Ms. Short 80's Hair are looking at Maggie. And not with 'come hither' looks in their eyes. I don't know, maybe I'm missing something.

Anyway, one trip to the gay bar is the straw that broke the camel's back, because now we are in divorce court and the female judge declares Maggie not a "fit mother." The fifteenth president wins sole custody.

And that is how Maggie Sawyer ended up in Metropolis without Jaime. Altogether a relatively positive portrayal of the gay mother. There is a real sense that she has been wronged by the system forced her into a marriage she knew was wrong, and then held her orientation against her when she realized the truth.

Tune in next time for the second half of the issue, in which we see further verbal contortions to avoid actually saying the word "lesbian."

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Friday, September 12, 2008

The Spectre Fights The Anti-Matter Man

(From Justice League of America, Vol. 1 #46)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wonder Woman #23

Well, after my backhanded compliment of Gail Simone on Tuesday for her "return to form" with Secret Six #1, she completely returns to form again with Wonder Woman #23 which -- more than anything over the last two arcs -- reads like you might imagine "Gail Simone doing Wonder Woman" would read. Two panels say it all:

So, are you deadpanning if you don't actually know that you are deadpanning?

Tolifhar and Rhanda need their own mini-series. I would buy each copy of all of them.

Also, as one of the few actual fans of "White Jumpsuit Wonder Woman" -- Yey.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Helena Wayne's Lack of Underpants, Part 2

Having seen on Monday all of the different angles we can use to determine that Helena Wayne doesn't wear any underpants after her shower, I will provide one more, with minimal commentary:

I defy you to tell me -- with a straight face -- that there's no pubic hair in this picture.

(Scan from Wonder Woman v.1, #281)


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Secret Six #1

Reading Gail Simone start an ongoing Secret Six was bittersweet: Sweet because it was so good, and bitter because she is not doing more of it.

Back in the days of Birds of Prey and Atom and Secret Six minis, there were two or three chances per month to read the wackiness/ violence/ heroics/ wittiness combo that was what makes her writing so good.

Not that I have anything against her Wonder Woman. I have always read Wonder Woman, and Gail Simone is writing it the way it has always been written -- she just doesn't do it any better than Greg Rucka did, or George Perez, or John Byrne, etc.

So, the problem is that Simone doesn't do Wonder Woman any better than a dozen other people could, but NO ONE can ever do Birds of Prey (or Secret Six or Atom) as well as she does. But she got Peter Principled up the food chain to a higher profile book, and now spends more time writing Diana Loses Her Soul, and less time writing Ragdoll Tells A Funny About Removing His Own Genitals While Slowly Strangling Somebody.

The Catman & Deadshot foil a robbery scene is Secret Six #1 was absolutely perfect. The Boys Buy Scandal A Hooker scene worked only because no one is the entire scene was to be taken seriously. Junior Destroys An Entire Family scene works exactly because it is so upsetting, and yet set against the humor of the other scenes.

We want more of that! Not just a bunch of "very good" Wonder Woman stories.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Helena Wayne's Lack of Underpants

So, you know how after you take a shower, you will often dry yourself off and put on a bathrobe? Sometimes, until you select your next outfit, you will not wear underwear beneath that bathrobe. When one is home, alone, and not -- say -- flying through the sky like Supergirl, this may be an appropriate fashion choice.

Demonstrating that Helena Wayne does not wear underwear after her showers, however, appears to have been the central preoccupation of the Huntress stories, in which she showered, changed clothes, or merely lounged in minimal attire at an alarmingly high rate.

Now, one might wonder, how could one reasonably demonstrate that a woman -- wearing a bathrobe -- is not wearing anything beneath that bathrobe. It is, actually, fairly challenging.

Proof that there is no bra is relatively easy. Merely have the bathrobe gape down below the cleavage to the navel.

No bra there! Proving lack of underpants is more difficult, however. Note that, no matter how high the bathrobe may ride up her leg, it is theoretically possible for a pair of small underpants to fit in there.

But, the central premise of Huntress, is determining for CERTAIN that she is not wearing underpants. Is there any possible way she could sit at that desk that would let us know for sure?

Yes. That would be one possibility! By having her sit at her desk, navel pushed out, and both legs up by her phone (a pose known in technical terms the "upright, arched, gynocologist chair"), we can be sure that Helena Wayne is not wearing any underpants. As further confirmation of the above point, there is a clear nipple outline in this frame.

Is this the only way to prove lack of underpants? Of course not. Let your imagination run wild until the next installment.

(All scans from Batman Family #20, 1978)


Friday, September 05, 2008

Brief Thoughts On A Few Comics I Read Yesterday

In the order I read them yesterday:

1. Trinity #14: So, Ultraman & Co. are Saddam Hussein, and the Justice League are the Americans invading Iraq? They easily dispose of the bad guys, but then are stuck trying to fix it when it falls into chaos and rebellion afterwards. In this scenario, the Trinity = Bush/ Cheney, the rest of the Justice League = Congress, and I guess Enigma is cast as the pro-war Democrats. Except there's no dimensional transfer thingie in Iraq.

2. Detective #848 -- So, does everyone know that Selina Kyle is Catwoman? Why else would they call Batman? Obviously a non-death event -- Catwoman is certainly on someone's "unkillable" list -- but likely to drag out for a while a la Connor Hawke. You can tell her chances of survival based on the heat level -- Operating Rooms are very cold, but somewhat warmer than Refrigerators.

3. Manhunter #34 -- Maybe its the long wait, but I've been disappointed by the first, new Manhunter arc. A little too trite for my tastes, especially the "You are blowing an undercover investigation!" bit.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hercules Explains It All To You.

In case you were wondering whether a slut needs to die after she has sex, Hercules has your answer.

From Hercules: The Thracian Wars #5.

Yes, that is completely in content. Hercules has sex with her, and then he kills her, and draws an explicit connection between the two acts.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Nine Stupid Questions About DCU: Last Will and Testament

A continuing series in which I embarrass myself by asking stupid questions, so that you don't have to!

1. So, if I understand correctly (and I might not!) Final Crisis #3 ends with the Anti-Life Virus released, so that soon everyone will turn into a "Darkseid Zombie for Libra" when they open their e-mails. How, exactly, is this the Last Night Before We All Die? Does Geo-Force know he's going to have to check his e-mail as some point? Shouldn't they be out fighting Zombies or something?

2. Wasn't Batman captured in Final Crisis and taken into outer space. Why is he out "swinging" with Robin and Nightwing?

3. Wasn't Superman "Beyond" in Final Crisis? Why is he chatting with Pa Kent in Smallville?

4. Wasn't Hal Jordan arrested and standing trial for an attack on John Stewart? Why is he hanging out with Wally?

5. Isn't Wonder Woman already a mindless Zombie? Why is she in a graveyard with Donna?

6. Is this Geo-Force story just the story that Meltzer was building up to during his run of Justice League, but never got the finish, and not really a "Final Crisis" story at all?

7. What was the significance of Beast Boy's Bible being in Rocky's confessional?

8. How long is "DCU Years" has in been between the death of Terra in the early 1980s and Geo-Force's plan for revenge in 2008?

9. What is Geo-Force's name in Markovia, and what does it really mean?

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New School Year

The elder two Raggirls start school tomorrow, which is good, because I think they are starting to get on each other's nerves. This generally takes the form of them playing Superheroes, and then knocking each other over.

Yesterday, the trio were (in chronological order) "Inside-Out Woman", "Battle Girl", and "Booster Baby." The fought the bad guys, and then -- inevitably --- started turning on each other. Of course, I have to keep myself from laughing through the whole thing, because somewhere along the line, the Raggirl have invented the verb "To Crimefight."

As in: "Mommy! Battle Girl crimefighted me!"

Or: "Tell Inside-Out Woman to stop crimefighting me!"

Anyway, anecdote aside, school year means earlier bedtimes, and maybe more free time for me to start blogging again. I'm going to try to get on a regular schedule (I have no idea what "regular" means, though).

So, stay tuned for upcoming posts I already have planned on Atalanta, Killing Sluts, and an intense focus on Huntress's (Helena Wayne's) lack of underpants during times when she should not, in fact, be wearing underpants.