The entertainment world lost two people recently.
The first came this afternoon, as it was reported that Roger Ebert, known as the man who had a critical eye on movies and was a spot light on cinema for decades, lost his battle with cancer. He was 70 years old.
Ebert was a film critic, but he had a love of movies and indeed loved some of the cheesiest movies out there. Because he saw them for what they should be; fun. Not only was he a film critic, but also a prolific writer, having a column with the Chicago Sun-Times, writing his own biography, and what many might not know, he wrote a screen play for a Sex Pistols movie project which unfortunately never got off the ground. In 2007, his fight with cancer lost him his voice, and he stopped appearing on television.
He was also a noted “raging liberal” by some. The Pulitzer Prize winning film critic was known to have his opinions on many different topics, outside of the film industry. Within the industry, he was critical of Hollywood for not producing films that the public wants to see. He was a huge supporter of indie films.
The White House offered a eulogy this afternoon, and Prime Minister tweeted his condolences. The Toronto International Film Festival gave a statement on Ebert’s passing, saying that Roger was like family. He was there from the festival’s humble beginnings.
The second person who passed away recent was Carmine Infantino.
Infantino was integral to the American comic book industry, helping to create some of the most iconic characters known. Many of whom still live on today. He is responsible for the creation of Black Canary, Batgirl, Wally West (Kid Flash), Iris West, Captain Cold, Captain Boomerang, Gorilla Grodd, and Elongated Man, all for DC Comics. His artwork was a well known style, and his work was best known for his run on The Flash in the mid 1980s.
He also worked for Marvel Comics and Warren Comics, working on titles that included Spiderwoman, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Vampirella. Two of his comic covers, The Flash 123 and Showcase 4, remain two of the most iconic covers in comics. As they ushered in the Silver Age of comics, and in the DC Universe, the multiverse with Earth 2.
In 2004, he sued DC for the rights to the aforementioned characters.
In the late 1960s, Infantino became an editor and was instrumental in hiring artists who would also later become editors. He was responsible for hiring Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams, both of whom would help to reinvent Batman and create the team up of Green Lantern and Green Arrow, by creating the Hard Travelling Heroes stories. Infantino also brought in Jack Kirby to DC Comics, who would go onto create his Fourth World universe, as well as The Demon, Kahmandi and others.
Carmine Infantino was 87.
As most who follow me know, my car wouldn’t start on Tuesday. I had no choice but to walk home. Yesterday, I attempting to have my car boosted, with no luck at all.
So this morning, I walked to work and borrowed my co-worker Derke’s car (pretty snazzy wheels with lots of buttons inside). This allowed me to get my deliveries done for the usual Thursday morning newspaper run. This involves loading the vehicle up with all of the boxes that need to go to the local Canada Post outlet, and then a little later taking all of the retail newspapers to the different businesses around town that sell our paper.
That was all fine and good, but my car still wasn’t starting. And old man winter wasn’t helping either. I think the battery is dead which couldn’t come at a worse time. It has gotten me thinking about buying a new car, however. It’s about time, and while I love my Hyundai Accent, it’s getting up there in age and has a few problems.
What this actually means is yet again, I had to walk home from work.
Still, I had rent to pay, and I needed to stop by the post office to check the mail. This is where my problem with my car changes.
I had two parcels waiting for me, as luck would have it. And both had Amazon’s logo emblazoned on the side. I knew exactly what to expect inside each box. Though, the second box I opened gave me a bit of a surprise. The first box included all three books in the trilogy for N.K. Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms trilogy.
The next box was a slightly different shape, but I knew what it would be, having ordered Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Batwoman from DC Comics. What I didn’t know is that they’d be the hardcover versions.
I am totally not complaining! Just means these ones are going to get a lot of care treated to them. Sort of like the pair of Captain Canuck collections which are both hardcover.
That was my happy ending to this day, which involved walking in this winter wonderland. Though, it’s not really a wonderland when the temperature is around -31 Celsius.
Before I actually get around to posting up Rocket Fox Chapter Nine (I will, I promise) I’ve had a few things on my mind lately.
Video games and cultural representation
I often hear the cry of how people can’t relate if there’s a person of a different colour on screen than the same old white dude (and yes, it’s almost always a white dude) in a video game. Often, if there is a black/brown/red/yellow person on the screen, they aren’t made as a playable character, and they often have huge stereotypes. Insulting stereotypes as a matter of fact. I don’t include MMOs into this, because in an MMO, you have a costume creator, and you can make your character look however you want. I’m talking single player games, for the most part. But I guess there is that cultural aspect in video games that we don’t get to see different cultures and explore those realms. For instance, any video game I pick up is most likely to take place in the United States. As a Canadian, there is a very rare number of games that have a Canadian city that I know of off hand. Deus Ex Human Revolution does have a futuristic version of Montreal in it, and Champions Online does have a Canadian zone, but that zone happens to be “The Great White North” (in it’s own a stereotype) and even the “native tribes” have been replaced with Sasquatches. And the lone “Native American” in the Champions Online Canadian Zone happens to have a real white name. It goes further than that, mind you, to other cultures. For instance, we see a lot of representation from Asia, but bottom line those nations and culture include only China and Japan. Maybe Korea. There’s quite a few other nations in Asia and include Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, India and to an extent Pakistan. Go further west, and you find lots of games represented in Europe, from fantasy right up to a plethora of World War II games. But how many are in Africa that doesn’t star a white archaeologist from the United States or a white archaeologist adventurer from England? Not many. By my count, one. Guild Wars: Nightfall was the only game that I know of that created an African style setting in their own world. Even the NPCs were all people of colour. I’d really like to see more of that, but sadly, I’m in the minority on that mark. Maybe that’ll happen more in the future where we get to see video games taking place in a setting with the main hero/heroine being a person from that setting not just a white guy there to save the day.
Na Na Na Na Na Na – COMICS!
There’s been a lot of talk lately (some good, some bad) about the actions and reactions of some of the writers of DC Comics titles. One of whom was Scott Lobdell. I’m not gonna repeat it here, but he said a few rather unflattering things, especially about Native Americans, relating to the back story of Roy Harper/Speedy who is one of the characters in the book Red Hood and the Outlaws. Now, I read RHatO when it first came out, and I found it to be a complete pile of trash. The book didn’t appeal to me, the characters were all one dimensional, Jason Todd’s a douchebag, Starfire has none of the appeal from the old Teen Titans (sort of like they wiped her backstory and replaced it with something that was incredibly misogynistic) and Roy Harper is a dick. Red Hood and the Outlaws is a complete waste of time, but it seems to sell and sell well because the lowest common denominator in readership keeps picking it up. That book, along with Hawkman, Green Arrow and a couple of other titles were reasons why I was very close to just giving DC Comics a big “fuck you” and move on. However, I realized that a personal boycott of DC would be detrimental to other, better books. Don’t get me wrong, me on my own wouldn’t crush DC and make them see the error of their ways, but if there were enough then books like Batwoman, Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, Animal Man and Demon Knights would all suffer as well. Those books are good books. So my suggestion, keep buying those books. They have really good stories (except for Wonder Woman supposedly now dating Superman -giving you the side eye, DC) with writers who really are good at their craft. The others, not so much. And don’t just wait for collected editions in trade paper back. Buy the single issues, give them to friends and then buy the collections. I did that recently with my Mike Grell and Chuck Dixon Green Arrow books as well as the Kevin Smith run. Same with Spider-Girl from the M2 line and Vampi. All those books are now being enjoyed by someone else, and I have a nifty trade sitting on my bookshelf. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is boycotts don’t always work, because the good stuff has a tendency to suffer more than the crap. Buy the stuff you like, avoid the stuff you hate, and pass on the stuff you like to others.
The leaves, they are a fallin’
With apologies to Bob Dylan for ripping off his song Times They Are A-Changin’, we are officially now into autumn. I, however, have no intention of letting go of summer without a fight. Autumn is wonderful and colourful, but it’s also a stark reminder of just what’s coming; winter. Around here, winter is a harsh mistress. Only the hardiest of people can survive this province with summers that scorch and winters that freeze. Granted, autumn does mean that Halloween is not far away, and I shall hold onto that hope with bated breath. I enjoy Halloween, because it’s filled with mystery and stories. I shouldn’t complain too much about autumn, it is after all, when my writing bug gets bigger and bigger and happens to be the most productive for me, right on up into winter. Which hopefully means that the end of book one of Rocket Fox and most of book two of Rocket Fox should be completed this autumn and winter. Which may mean that sometime in the next year, both book one and book two will be ready for publication.
That’s it, that’s all, ’til next time…
…keep ‘em flyin’!
It’s the first official day of summer! Yay! Also, I talk about what’s coming up next in Rocket Fox (chapter seven is uploaded at my blog in pdf format).
I also talk about comics. I may be picking up more than just Huntress, Batwoman, Batgirl and World’s Finest.
Oh, and Canada Day.
And because it’s summer…
Those are the most EPIC mutton chops I’ve ever seen.
No, I’m not killing off a character in anything I write. But, I do wanna discuss a character in comics that, as far as I’m concerned, was given a pretty blah ending and a hand wave death.
The character I speak of is Helena Bertinelli, also known as the Huntress of DC Comics continuity. The Huntress was a Bat-family character, and often one that wasn’t thought of as being all together nice. But that’s probably because Helena Bertinelli grew up as the daughter to a Mafia mob boss. Her parents were killed, and she threw off the responsibility of growing up in the mob to become a vigilante. She was also a teacher, and taught class at an inner city school in Gotham.
And now she’s dead.
Well, not yet. The actual final death knell won’t be officially sounded until the first issue of World’s Finest comes out. The new series is taking a different path. Instead of being the book for Superman and Batman, it’s now the book for Power Girl and Huntress.
So, I may have confused some people now by saying that the Huntress is going to die, but she’ll be a recurring character in the ongoing series World’s Finest. Sorry about that, but now it’s time for an explanation.
Before Huntress/Helena Bertinelli, there was another one. She was from, what DC Comics called Earth 2. It wasn’t the same Earth that the Superman and Batman we’re familiar with lived, but had older versions of the characters we knew. And some differences. Including a woman called Huntress, who in her real life was known as Helena Wayne. She was the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. That got washed away in the mega crossover of the mid 80s called Crisis on Infinite Earths. Huntress died valiantly, along side many other heroes in defending the Multiverse. She even got a decent on page death scene, one that didn’t involve kitchens or refrigerators as seems to be the case now with female characters. After Crisis, Huntress was reborn, but as Helena Bertinelli.
She was a more interesting character, to be honest. She fought actual crime, dealt with real life issues, went head to head with the Batman on many occasions because he found her methods to be quite violent. Huntress was also the only female character in the DCU to go head to head with the alien Predators when DC and Dark Horse did the Batman Predator cross overs.
And now, that version of Huntress is dead. It wasn’t a dramatic death scene, however. It wasn’t even a full page. It was just one line. Here it is in the preview to World’s Finest.
It’ll be sad to see her go.
- Goodbye, Helena (newsarama.com)
- First Look: Huntress as Robin of Earth 2 (comicbooked.com)
- First Look At The Final Issue of The HUNTRESS (comicvine.com)
- Levitz Makes Huntress & Power Girl the “Worlds’ Finest” (comicbookresources.com)
- Paul Levitz reboots ‘Huntress’ (digitalspy.co.uk)
- And WORLD’S FINEST Looks Mighty Fine Too (ifanboy.com)
- Women of Action | Huntress (robot6.comicbookresources.com)
Switching things up a bit from current writing (because I can do that, and I’ve hit a brick wall… again) as I think about other stories and things I’d like to write (and even make a comic book about, whether in print or a web comic).
Dragonforce has pretty much had the kind of music that I equate to one set of characters I’ve worked on, and featured here in the past. You might know it, if you’ve read Flag On My Backpack. It’s the series about a young woman from Montreal who becomes a costumed superhero by the name of Canadienne. Basically wraps herself in the flag, inspired by the actions of her father during the October Crisis of 1970. On top of that, she happens to be the lead guitarist of an indie Montreal speed metal band called Blanc Noir. Formed while they were still in junior high school, they stuck together with the intent to make music, have fun and share their experiences together. This lasted for a while, and during that time they added a couple of different band members.
The line up now consists of Yves Manderville (lead vocals, keyboards) and Jacqueline Manderville (second lead guitar, mandoline) both of whom are of Haitian ancestry, Michelle Villineuve (percussion) the happy goth of the group, Dominique Turgeon (first lead guitar, bagpipes) who happens to be the super hero of the group as she is the one who dresses in the flag and stops crime, and now there is Raven Running Cloud (bass, classical guitar, six string) who is originally from the Whitecap Dakota First Nation in Saskatchewan, but moved with her father to Montreal when he accepted a position to teach Native American Studies at McGill. Raven is also the second super hero of the group, calling herself Grey Kestrel.
It’s a story that I’ll definitely come back to again, and while I’d really hope that the idea was picked up in comic form, I actually don’t want either of the big two taking it up. I’ve really be disillusioned with DC Comics and Marvel Comics as of late (more so DC than Marvel). There is a comic company that could do a title like Flag On My Backpack some justice, though.
DC has revealed the Levitz-written, Marcus To and John Dell-drawn The Huntress six-issue series that also debuts in Month 2 of the DCnU. The cover to issue #1 (to the left) is by Guillem March.
Paul Levitz has something of a history with the character, as he’s credited with Joe Staton and Bob Layton for co-creating (in 1977) the Helena Wayne version of the Gotham City-based vigilante (daughter of the pre-Crisis Earth Two Batman and Catwoman). That version was killed during 1985′s Crisis on Infinite Earths, her existence erased from the new post-Crisis unified timeline, and she was replaced with the similarly-looking Helena Bertinelli version, now the daughter of a Gotham crime boss.
This 2011 revamp Huntress apparently has Italian roots, as DC reports she heads “home” to Italy to embark on a life-defining mission in this series, suggesting the DCnU version of the Huntress will likely remain Helena Bertinelli. It appears she will also continue to have ties with the Birds of Prey in the upcoming months.
- DC-Women-Kicking-Ass Tell DC: Pick Up the Money Sitting on the Table (wired.com)
- Thoughts on the DCnU (multimediaculture.wordpress.com)
- Batwoman #1 Confirmed for DCnU Relaunch (bilerico.com)
- Scarlet Betch Episode 50: Scarlet Crisis! Epic Sized! (bilerico.com)