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Supergirl and the strangeness of fans


Time to interrupt a huge series of Star Trek let’s plays.

By now, most of you have seen the incredible Supergirl trailer for the new show that’s appearing on CBS.  Wait, you haven’t?  Let’s rectify that, right now.

Now I’ll give you a minute to calm down from the sheer awesome of that trailer.

On the downside of things, Supergirl has received a lot of flack for looking like the Black Widow SNL parody.  Being closer to a rom com than an actual superhero movie.  But I’ll be honest, I think that’s refreshing.  It’s nice to see a superhero movie or television series that isn’t all grim and grit and darkness and angst.  Though, we’re talking Supergirl here, I’m sure that’ll come around as the story tells itself.

Kara, or Supergirl, is a bubbly, happy, wonderful person who wants desperately to be a hero like her cousin.  Which is a great thing to see.  I mean who wouldn’t wanna walk in Superman’s footsteps.  And Kara has the powers to go with it.

I like the look of this show right away, because it seems bright and colourful and very up beat and positive.  I’ll admit, I was a Green Arrow fan for decades, but I never really got into Arrow.  Especially after how Helena Bertinelli/Huntress was trashed in the series.

But many fans are already complaining about this chipper attitude of Supergirl.  So what, I say.  There needs to be a superhero who looks forward to saving people.  Who doesn’t find it a duty or responsibility, or some burden that’s foisted upon them.  It’s refreshing to have a show like this, and I hope it goes far because we need more television just like this one.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Fun, randomness

 

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2014: In Review – Representation


2014 has been a mixed bag when it comes to representation.  By that, I’m talking about the representation of visible minorities and those who have different sexual orientations.  I say it’s a mixed bag due to the fact that it hasn’t been exactly the best year for such things.

We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of really good authors, both up and coming and some long time authors, make big strides in writing books and putting characters into them that do represent people of colour, women of colour, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  So we’ve got a good representation there.  But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

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Books, while good, aren’t visual catching.  Comic books, Television and movies, on the other hand, are pretty in your face when it comes to representation.  And this year has been pretty whitewashed, male, and heterosexual.  In other words, the same bland crap we’ve received all the time in the medium.  There have been strides, however.  The excellent tumblr blog DC Women Kicking Ass has gone out of it’s way to showcase good comics (not just from DC) that not only feature women, but a diverse range of women.  Storm came out this year, Ms Marvel had a great run this year, doulby good considering the book is about a Pakistani American teenager.  Captain Marvel, and others.  Marvel Comics has done well with their stable, but that doesn’t mean there’s still some flaws there.  It took them a while to finally announce a female lead movie in Captain Marvel, but the fanbase is still waiting on one for Black Widow.  And it hasn’t been sunshine and rainbows for female lead books, there’s been some cancellations, such as the Fearless Defneders, for example.

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Meanwhile, the Distinguished Competition hasn’t been doing much better.  Trying to follow in Marvel’s footsteps, they’ve announced a great deal of movies that are forthcoming with Wonder Woman being in the mix.  How it’s going to turn out is unknown at this point in time.  But at the comic book level, things haven’t been doing so well.  Female lead books aren’t doing well.  One of the best written books is being cancelled after a hack kneed decision of making sure superheroes don’t lead happy lives was announced.  Batwoman won’t get married, and to add insult to injury, the current writing team (who replaced the original writing team) decided a kidnapping and rape would have been a great story arch to the series.  There’s also the Huntress, both Wayne and Bertinelli.  Helena Wayne was essentially stuffed in a refridgerator, and Helena Bertinelli is hardly recognizable as the daughter of a mob boss anymore.  One good light is that the Secret Six is back, written by the pre-52 creator Gail Simone.

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Outside of the big two, there’s been other promising titles, such as Bitch Planet written by Kelly Sue Deconnick.  So, there’s some progress, but it’s painfully slow.  Here’s hoping 2015 picks up the pace a bit.

This is a screen capture from Dreamworks Prince of Egypt.  Which was a superior film than Exodus: Gods and Kings.

This is a screen capture from Dreamworks Prince of Egypt. Which was a superior film than Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Movies haven’t exactly been great either.  The biggest disappointment was Exodus: Gods and Kings, where every character is portrayed by a white person which is strange for a region that is predominantly filled with brown skinned people.  And to those who say that white Europeans were traveling around, think again.  It was Middle Eastern and South East Asian people (Arabic, North African, Pakistani and East Indian) who developed the Silk Road.   The movie didn’t do well at all at the box office, and one comment said it all.  For people of colour, don’t think of Exodus: Gods and Kings as a missed opportunity but as a bullet dodged.

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It isn’t all bad, though.  We’ve had a lot of really great discussions and education with people who have been working hard to turn the old stereotypes on their heads.  Laverna Cox and Janet Mock, along with Laura Jane Grace have been really working hard to show that transgender people are just everyday ordinary people.  And that there is a huge difference that comes up in interviews with transgender people as opposed to cisgender people.  There’s differences in the interviews with gay and lesbian people than there is with hetero people.

And there year did come to a close with a picture perfect ending.

Korrasami

The Nick cartoon, Legend of Korra ended on a bang of a hote, as the finale for Book four showed something incredible.  For the first time in a kids cartoon (in recent memory, at least, and completely visible), Korra walked off into the sunset (spirit portal) with Asami, marking a same sex relationship.  This was confirmed by series co-creator Bryan Konietzko:

You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do, but there is no denying it. That is the official story. We received some wonderful press in the wake of the series finale at the end of last week, and just about every piece I read got it right: Korra and Asami fell in love. Were they friends? Yes, and they still are, but they also grew to have romantic feelings for each other.

The only downside to all of this, is that it’s taken so long.  We’re almost at 2015, and we’re still fighting to have proper representation in books, comics, movies, and television.  We made some gains, but there was an equal number of failures and fumbled balls.  Hopefully, 2015 will see more major wins as far as representation goes.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Darkness Within


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I was going to do a piece on women in history, sort of a match to yesterday’s history versus fantasy, but I became distracted by the final book in Gail Simone’s run on Batgirl.

The NewDC has taken the characters of all the really good things about their characters and stripped them back to basics.  This happened when the New52 launched.  Since then, there’s been nearly 52 failures.  As of May of this year, there were 47 cancellations in the New52.  Some were really fun books (All-Star Western, Blue Beetle), some were really well written (The Movement, Firestorm), and some were just plain terrible (The Savage Hawkman, Hawk & Dove).

But with stripping down the characters, something was left out.  Something that was left behind.  We read superhero comics as a form of escapist entertainment, but also with a mirror reflecting real life.  What if Superman came along to save some kid who was contemplating suicide?

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Gone are the everyday comedy and drama of the antics of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle (even the Young Justice versions of Kid Flash and Blue Beetle).  Gone is the on again off again relationship with Ollie and Dinah due to Ollie’s infidelity.  Even the aspect of family that came about with Connor, Roy, Dinah, Mia, and Ollie.  Gone is the dynamic of Birds of Prey, an all female book which showed you don’t have to write women in some male gaze way, that they can be smart and funny and loving to one another.  And gone is any aspect of a disabled person as a superhero (though, the Movement tried, it really did).

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According to DC editorial, you can’t be a superhero and be happy.  That’s a defeatist attitude, and sheds off any concept that superheroes bring to the table.  Hope.  If superheroes can’t be happy, why should I be happy.  The brooding darkness works for Batman, but even the Batfam can’t live in perpetual darkness.  Even Batwoman, who may be the antithesis of Batman, needs that light.  After all, it was Kate Kane who said that it could be anyone under the cape and cowl, even her.  So she became an aspect of Batman that wasn’t so scary.  She even came close to getting married to her partner (Renee Montoya before the reboot, Maggie Sawyer after).  But no, she can’t have that.

Meanwhile, at the Marvelous Competition, the heroes aligned with the Avengers and X-Men continue to have their everyday dramas and comedies hit them.  And they survive.  They survive having relationships, meaningful relationships, and even manage to crack a few jokes.  These things are very telling about superheroes.  The ability to laugh, as opposed to being dark and brooding 24/7/365 is far more entertaining and far more healthy.

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But DC has moved away from that, feeling that success of the Batman trilogy is the way to go.  Forgetting completely that dark and brooding works for Batman, but doesn’t work for everyone else.  This isn’t the early 90s, we’re past the awful stages of grim and gritty.  Were they good?  At the time they were, because it was different.  But it’s 2014 now.  We need to move past that and into a place where diversity of character and emotion is just as diverse as people and culture.

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Essentially, we need hope in our comics again.  I could walk away from DC completely and ignore it, but I care about the characters a little too much, I suppose.  I’d like that future generations would care just as much, and give them something to hope for.

I was going to talk about the final issue of Batgirl, but there’s a much better article that sums it up completely, found here.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Here it is… again


Wherein I talk about Wonder Woman… again

It’s short, but I need to be clear on this.

We have 300, a story that takes place in Ancient Greece, about 300 Spartans who stand against the Persian Army.  We have Thor, about a Norse god who joins a team of human super heroes.

But we can’t have Wonder Woman be an Amazon princess, a figure pulled directly from Greek myth, because people won’t get that?  That it’s easier to believe if she’s an alien?

I just need to be clear about that.

Ya know what…

Marvel needs to reboot the Spider franchise in a different way.  Instead of bringing back a third incarnation of Spider-man, they need to say “Screw it! Peter and M.J. are married and they have a girl who lives in the same universe as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner and Black Widow”.  Then they should release Spider-Girl, have Tobey McGuire as the older, father figure, Kirsten Dunst as M.J. and they could be the parents of a young May Parker who inherits her father’s spider abilities.  She dons a costume, calls herself Spider-Girl, and eventually joins the Avengers.

So, why are we still struggling

Why, exactly, is it so difficult to get multiple women into a movie franchise?  I’m side eyeing Star Wars with this one.  Granted, it is J. J. Abrams, and his Star Trek run was pretty sexist.  And to be honest, not in anyway reminiscent of the old Star Trek series.  So does that mean the upcoming Star Wars is gonna be equally in aspect to what Abrams did with the other Star Franchise?

But this is something that’s not just confined to the realm of sci fi.  Lord of the Rings, for example (and the prequel, The Hobbit) had a lot of dudes walking around doing dude things.  Admittedly, Peter Jackson did have more screen time for two of the female characters in the first trilogy.  And he basically had to create one for the Hobbit.

I’m still not sure as to why we need to take baby steps when it comes to representation in movies.  This goes for race, sexual orientation, gender, and so on.  But seriously, we shouldn’t have to take baby steps.  Because the ones who’d complain just need to get over it and move out of the 17th Century.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in randomness

 

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Disgusting Comics


hawkworld

Years ago I collected comics.  That lasted well into my early 30s, and even into my 40s I’ve kept an interest.  I don’t collect like I used to, however.

Cover of "World's Finest Comics Archives,...

Cover via Amazon

When I first began collecting comics, it was with the one dollar I had to go down to the local confectionery or convenience store and pick up one or two and come back with change.  I managed to convince my parents that I could buy one and not return with change.  That comic was World’s Finest from DC Comics.  At the time, World’s Finest was packed with stories, beginning with the feature story of Superman and Batman.  There were others that included Hawkman and Hawkwoman, Green Arrow and Black Canary, The Creeper, Black Lightning, Red Tornado and Shazam.  And for a while, World’s Finest had a wrap around cover that had all of the main characters from the other stories as part of the cover story with Superman and Batman.

World’s Finest eventually lead me to Superman Family and Batman Family, which had an equally large number of stories, and for a time I picked up Detective Comics just for the back up story which happened to have been Green Arrow for the longest time.  The only single series I collected was the Flash (around the time Barry Allen was accused of killing Professor Zoom and had to go to trail for murder), Justice League of America (because of a huge number of characters), Captain America, and Captain Canuck when it came out.  Both Caps were the only books outside of the DC Universe that I read.

I was there when Crisis on Infinite Earths took place.  Because of that, I began collecting the Mike Grell Green Arrow run (which later Chuck Dixon wrote), and the Tim Truman Hawkworld mini series (which later became a regular series written by John Ostrander).

I also had a complete run of Firestorm, ending with it’s 100th issue.

I was there when Armagedon 2001 took place.  I was there for the Death of Superman and began reading about John Henry Irons who became Steel.  I collected Steel faithfully.

I was there when Zero Hour hit.

I was there when Katar Hol was killed.

I was there for the Birds of Prey, and had many email conversations with Chuck Dixon and his wish to bring Shayera Thal into the Birds.  Sadly, it never happened.

I was there when Oliver Queen gave his life to save millions, and his son Connor Hawke took up the mantle of Green Arrow.

I was there when the JSA came back, and Carter Hall was resurrected.

I was there when Kevin Smith brought back Ollie.

I was there when Mia Deardon became Speedy.  When Ollie, Dinah, Connor, Roy, Liam and Mia became a family.

And then I drifted.

Batwoman

Batwoman (Photo credit: Ben Templesmith)

I missed some impressive creative origins, like Greg Rukka on Batwoman.  I missed Renee Montoya becoming the Question.  And I missed the event which ended the DC Universe and rebooted it with the Nu 52.

Since then, I’ve been wavering on my interest with DC.  Hawkman was terrible.  Green Arrow wasn’t very interesting.  Firestorm had a good start.  Huntress was a good mini (with the exception of the off camera killing of Helena Bertinelli).  The only series that I had any interest in were Batwoman, Batgirl and All-Star Western.  Eventually, The Movement caught my eye.

But now, two of the creators who slaved over the Batwoman series, J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, are walking away from the book thanks to disagreements with editorial.  It was suggested that Batwoman, an openly lesbian woman, who had proposed to her girlfriend, Maggie Sawyer, was going to get married.  But I guess you can’t have that in the New DC.  Unless it happens to be a heterosexual relationship.

And this is where Marvel has been gaining a lot of ground.  Marvel is the company that’s had the first openly gay wedding in it’s books.  DC is still years behind, and it looks to be that way with the current editorial staff.  Note, I didn’t say the writers, because those like Gail Simone and others who have worked with DC in the past have strived to bring about a face of equality and tolerance within the pages of each book each month.

But DC Comics seems to be walking away from that in favour of creating something that’s cookie cutter and safe.  No risks, because risks means you could lose.

That’s why DC Comics has now lost any interest for me at all.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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She’s a tricky one: Why we need a Wonder Woman movie


wonder-woman

That’s a comment that’s been going around the ‘Net for a few days (weeks, months) now about a Wonder Woman movie.

“She’s a tricky one to handle.”

Really, it’s that difficult to get a good story out of a female superhero.  It seems to me that it would be fairly easy.  As a matter of fact, it’s already been done once.  Gail Simone had a helping hand in it with the release of the animated Wonder Woman movie.  Starring Keri Russel in the title role and Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor.  A lot of the stories of Greek myth were interwoven with the aspects of a modern superhero, and having Wonder Woman shocked at the treatment of women in the modern world was quite refreshing, and a different take on the world.

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Wonder Woman isn’t hard to write a good movie script for.  It’s basically 300, but with women and set more in a modern era.  Even Wonder Woman’s uniform could be a throw back to the old Greek and Roman style armours that she’s been dressed in the comics.  Like the leather skirting and the knee high armoured boots.  And this would be an opportunity to not only take a chance with a female superhero, but it’d also be a chance to use a woman of colour.  Many might argue that Greece and Italy are European, so that’d mean “white people only”, but that’s grossly ignorant of history.  In Greece and Rome there were North Africans, Middle Eastern Arab and Persian people, there were Pakistani and East Indian people who all followed the trade routes.  And Wonder Woman could have been born after the Silk Road began uniting people from different areas thanks to trade.

Even keep the story of Diana being formed from clay, and given life by her mother Hippolyta.  The call back to ancient myth would be amazing.  It’d be much different than the aspects of male superheroes that always have to have one motivation; death of family or threat of destruction.  Wonder Woman is a warrior.  Plain and simple.  She’s no different than Xena in that regard.

As Gail Simone once said about DC’s holy trinity; “If you want to stop alien invasions, call Superman.  If you want a mystery solved, call Batman.  But if you want to stop a war, call Wonder Woman.”

But the needing of a Wonder Woman movie goes beyond wanting to have a kick ass lady in a superhero movie that in a genre has been dominated by men. We need a Wonder Woman movie because she represents not only a female icon, but the best of humanity, and the best of what we have to offer.  Wonder Woman is just as iconic as Superman and Batman.  Even those who don’t read comics will recognize the name, and many will recognize the outfit when they see a picture of her.  There needs to be a Wonder Woman movie, because we need more icons to be visible.  And we need diversity on our big screens and small screens.

It may sound silly, but if we want to progress as a society, to keep moving forward with our social awareness, then we need to have icons and myths that represent our ideals in this modern world.  One of those icons happens to be Wonder Woman.  And it’s about damn time that she got what she, what we all, deserve.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Fun, randomness

 

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On the passing


The entertainment world lost two people recently.

Roger Ebert with his wife, Chaz Ebert.

Roger Ebert with his wife, Chaz Ebert.

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.

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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.

flashHe 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.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Life, randomness

 

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