As a kid, I never wanted to be in a boys’ club and was always jealous of anything that was exclusively “girls only.”
I can recall many instances of this. Riding in the car, my mother tried to convince me that I might enjoy joining the Boy Scouts. “But, they’re all boys,” I replied, my rejection implicit. Later, when my female friends were allowed to sleep over together after parties while males went home, I rebelled. “Why shouldn’t I be allowed to stay over?” I raged. “They’re all of my best friends!”
It was hard for me to understand the power of either gendered space because, upon reflection, I did not feel strongly aligned to the idea of my maleness. There was nothing about it I particularly wanted – not the strength, or the camaraderie – because I did not have any evidence in my life that maleness could be good or worthwhile. I hated the idea of being a member of the boys’ club. If all you know about being a boy is bullying and irresponsibility – if the only masculinity you witness is toxic – then why would you want to access it?
That’s not to say I was desperate to be a girl. I liked to wear nail polish and own pink things because they were pretty, not out of a sense of gender dysphoria. Upon reflection, I think the idea of a gender continuum , or even simply a third gender, would have been powerful for me to be able to identify with at the time. (So would have a positive male influence, but I think the former would have been more accessible than the latter.)
Instead, I counteracted my boyness by idolizing female influences, none more than Wonder Woman – the only superhero that mattered to me even though Spider-Man shared my name.
Thirty years later, I can appreciate my ability to define my own maleness and that my gender role or expression does not define my gender identity. I also appreciate the power of single sex spaces in certain contexts. At RJ there was a recurring Ladies Night, were all the women would get together for dinner or drinks. Of course, I wanted to attend – these were all my friends out together! Yet, as women in tech, those friends shared an important, connected experience, and even as the most well-meaning male I might interrupt the ability to share that. Also, there may be women who don’t appreciate or benefit from that shared, female-only space.
Now this is a part of my story. Even when I’m accidentally or tacitly included in a boys’ club or male privilege, I don’t experience it in the same way as my peers.
I’m happy about that. I think it’s powerful to be able to access some piece of otherness to influence your viewpoint when you are in the majority. It doesn’t make you The Other, and you still have a lot of work to do to understand the experience of someone who prohibited from enjoying the club or the privilege, but it means you can see outside of your cave into the wider world of sunlight outside.
Oh, hey, and we’re here to review a comic book. [Read more…] about Review: Wonder Woman – Earth One, Vol. 1, by Morrison, Paquette, & Fairbairn
Happy unofficial end to summer that is really just an end to wearing white pants, because really no one wanted to see you in white pants.
Okay, you probably either already know about that or don’t care, so I’ll stick to the topic. This post covers all of the collected comics and graphic novels out this week. It is more than just a list because I’ve researched each book to give you the context. It’s a guide to what each collection is about and what you might want to pick up to get there.
This is an odd week for comic collections – one obvious blockbuster, a few interesting entries, and a lot of things I’m not so familiar with. I suppose it’s not the best idea to ship a big bounty right after a holiday and with schools and colleges back in session? As a reminder, Amazon is sometimes 1-2wks behind the direct market on these releases.
Crush of the Week: Saga, Vol. 5 – Collecting #25-30.
If you’ve never read Saga before, it’s an unusual series that can’t be entirely summed up. It’s worth it to try the first bargain-priced trade, which introduces this ragtag group of regular people, bounty hunters, and robotic royalty. Plus a truth-diving cat.
Truth be told, I found the last trade of Saga to be a bit flat – high on acrimonious domesticity and everyone was awful to each other. Space-faring was grounded and terrible choices took center stage, as did Alana as she starred in a popular interplanetary soap opera. Yes, really. I know that’s the story Vaughan is telling, but I don’t like stories with no one to root for. While that still might be the case in this trade, now everyone is coming together (Gwendolyn! Lying Cat! Prince Robot!) and I think we’ll get a hint of the broader plot in store for us. In Vaughan’s other landmark series we’d be at about the halfway point, but he’s said he intends for this to run longer than Y The Last Man and Ex Machina (both highly-recommended!), so who knows where we might wind up from here?
Interesting Unknown: Steven Universe, Vol. 1 TP – Collecting #1-4.
I’ve heard nothing but effusive praise from my adult friends on this cartoon about adventures, identity, and consent. After turning their My Little Pony license into a machine and watching BOOM! have a breakout hit with Adventure Time, I think IDW knows how to make this a success. The interesting thing is that I get the feeling is still slightly under the radar – it’s not an Adventure Time sized hit already, nor does it have as much content and fandom amassed as when that comic began.
Now let’s take a look at what Marvel, Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Image, Valiant, and other publishes have in store for us this week! [Read more…] about Newly Released Graphic Novels & Collected Comics – Sept. 8, 2015 Edition
We are living in the age of the reboot.
Last week, Amazing Spider-Man relaunched the webhead’s cinematic universe while the body of the old Tobey Maguire series was still warm. There’s a new Dallas series on TV. Sherlock Holmes revisionist history movies are being released alongside a present-day version of the detective on BBC TV.
So do those older, original versions matter?
Alternate Future History
Think about your favorite TV show or series of books. It’s a serialized, ongoing story that builds with every installment and references its past. You love it. You watch every episode and buy every volume. You are a super-fan.
What if there was some prior series with the same characters and concepts, but it was not a part of the current story you love? Would you buy it? This is increasingly common in our age of reboots. If you loved the new JJ Abrams Star Trek movie – which departs from the traditional Trek timeline post-Enterprise – are the other TV series and films automatically a must-watch? What about past Spider-Man movies, original Dallas, Sherlock Holmes books, Charlie’s Angels, G.I. Joe, Inspector Gadget, or Battlestar Galactica?
Probably not. All those past series are just an alternate reality to the present ones. You don’t need to watch both.
Case Study: DC’s Crisis of Collected Editions
DC Comics is one year into their successful line-wide New 52 reboot. Now they’re faced with a major crisis: they have a huge back catalog of trade paperbacks and hardcovers that might not matter.
DC’s rich history of iconic characters stretches back to 1938. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman – these heroes emerged as pure archetypes and over many decades evolved into the rounder, more dynamic characters they are today. There are many hundreds of older issues of their exploits available to reprint and press into the hands of eager young fans of today.
Except, today’s characters are not the same people – and I don’t just mean their personalities. DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths rebooted everyone back in 1984, making post-1984 books the equivalent of new-Trek. Some of the characters beneath the masks of Flash and Green Lantern weren’t even the same as before! Then, after many years of tweaking, DC rebooted again last fall – creating a new-new-Trek.
What wasn’t immediately evident from those #1 issues was that some characters survived more intact than others. Batman’s corner of the DC Universe? Seemingly mostly the same, even if Bruce is younger than before. Superman? Origin retold from scratch, parents now dead, never in a relationship with Lois. Wonder Woman? Major changes in the Amazonian status quo, right down to her parentage.
Which brings me to my titular question: do DC Comics Collections matter? Yes, there are the Watchmen and the Killing Joke, the indisputable evergreen classics of the comics medium that will move units regardless of if their stories still count for anything.
But what about DC Archives, their premium hardcover reprints of Golden and Silver Age comics? What about Wonder Woman #205? Action Comics #527? The 70s Green Arrow / Green Lantern series?
None of it counts in continuity, so does it matter anymore? These classic stories have little to nothing to do with the current state of my favorite heroine. They aren’t all prohibitive classics. So, is there any point in reprinting them?
(Marvel doesn’t have this problem. Aside from some isolated soft reboots of certain characters, everything still counts, all the way back to the 40s. Every issue of X-Men is acknowledged and in continuity.)
Does the alternate past matter? You decide.
I want to know what you think. Do older stories still have a place post-reboot? If you loved JJ Abrams’s Star Trek did you immediately jump back to rewatch the original series?
And, on our case study: Should DC even bother to reprint non-seminal stories of characters other than Batman if they don’t matter in current continuity?
What do you think?
Superman has been dangled like a carrot over readers’ noses all through DC’s 52 debut month, from his hot-headed flashback appearances in Justice League and Action Comics to his benevolent present day cameos in Swamp Thing and Supergirl.
The promise was implicit: you’ll get your full dose of Superman in the title with his name on it. Not only that, but that his modern depiction would help to contextualize the superheroes that appeared throughout all 52 books.
Well, we’ve arrived. 51 books later and it’s time to unveil the boy in blue in the present tense – in the capable hands of comics veteran George Perez.
Script & breakdowns George Perez, pencils & inks by Jesus Merino
Rating: 2 of 5 – Uneven
In a Line: “Superman, however, was occupied with other matters.”
#140char Review: Superman #1 is all the reasons modern readers mock 80s comics. Perez way overdoes it on script in this tangled one-shot plot.
CK Says: Skip it
Superman #1 under-delivers, focusing on every possible detail except for Superman. Classic creator George Perez over-scripts this allegory about print media living past the digital wrecking ball. Despite keeping this plot confined to a one-shot and fitting in a super-brawl, this issue was a chore to read.
This issue is too obsessed with text. Do we really need to know all the ins and outs of the Daily Planet’s newfound home in a major media empire? Perez chooses to defray his heavy-handed narrative voice-over by assigning it to in-story speakers, but it just makes things worse.
From the mayor’s overbearing introductory speech to a nonsensical newspaper article that reads like a bad blog post fraught with grammatical errors, Perez presents an unfortunate example of why modern comic readers tend to mock the overly-narrated issues of the 70s and early 80s.
If there is one aspect of the issue safe from criticism, it’s the artwork. Perez’s breakdowns guide artist Jesus Merino to fine issue of art – where’s it’s not obscured by text balloons, that is. A Courtney Cox inspired Lois winds up the star of the issue, and like Cox she’s an ageless blend of leggy starlet and purring cougar.
A one page diversion that sets up Stormwatch makes no more sense here than it would in any other title, except this is the ostensible present-day super-flagship. It’s still awkward.
In a graphic design nitpick, center-aligned narration boxes that contain entire paragraphs are a bad move. Readers don’t want to drag their eyes down a ragged left margin of text in a box. It’s confusing.
Superman #1 is a disappointing delivery given the buildup we’ve seen all month. While I’d welcome a series of one-shot stories showing the Man of Steel in action, I don’t think Perez’s narrative style jibes with Metropolis – especially when the ultra-efficient Grant Morrison is the other scripter in town.
Comics have been cashing on on vampires since long before Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or even Interview with the Vampire.
When interest in super-hero comics began to decline after World War II (and was further assaulted by Frederick Wertham) horror magazines were part of what kept the medium alive. Even after horror comics were censured by the Comics Code, classic monsters still turned up in comic plots.
Marvel’s 1970s title Tomb of Dracula was a mammoth soap operatic battle between Dracula and a bevy of would-be slayers. The 90s brought indie babe Vampirella to popularity, an Elvira-esque busty vampiress.
Marvel and DC have been dipping their toes back into blood for the past few years to see if the time is right to re-capitalize on vampire stories, but neither has quite struck gold. Has the fanged moment passed, in favor of the suddenly hip zombie movement of the past few years? Who knows, but DC and Marvel are both launching a new vampire ongoing this fall to find out.
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov, art by Andrea Sorrentino
Rating: 3.5 of 5 – Great
In a Line: “Normally I’d lock you away somewhere until I could find your sire. But, well, y’know…”
#140char Review: I Vampire #1, a bitter Twilight divorce tracks bad romance between noble vamp & lover who wants to consume the world. Unexpectedly arresting
CK Says: Consider it.
I, Vampire #1 is like Twilight written by Anne Rice, disposing of the sappy pursuit of undead teenage love and focusing on the eventual bitter fallout – and how the results can be deadly in the form of a 400-year-old scorned lover who wants to take back the night (and the entire human race) from a plague of superhero do-gooders.
I know that vampires aren’t for everyone, and even the people they ARE for might be a little tired of them after the past few years. That doesn’t change the fact that Joshua Hale Fialkov delivers on both gore and romance as he kickstarts this story from square one.
We get modern day vamp-on-vamp violence of race-traitor Andrew as his vampire slaying is narrated by his recent break with lover Mary. Andrew and Mary have already done the star-crossed thing, and the immortal lovers thing, and now they’re at the point of an ideological divide. Their debate? If you could be a young beautiful superhuman every night for the rest of your life would you content yourself with drinking cow’s blood and working the night shift forever, or would you rather try to take over the world from the masked men who have brightened its corners?
Yeah, it’s a little more complicated than your typical lover’s quarrel, and it has terrifying ramifications for the warm-blooded population of America.
Try to get past the twinkling nearly-nude hot bodies on the cover, which are probably keeping some readers who would dig this title at a distance. The interior art is the ash-colored world of a war comic or Walking Dead, bringing a bombed-out look to Boston at night – where the rubble is a heap of discarded bodies. Despite the loverly narration, we get hints that Andrew is going to be an acerbic post-Whedon anti-hero as he apologizes to fresh vamps for staking them.
The conversational narration has some moments of melodrama, but I felt like they were defused by the illustrations they hovered over. I’m duly impressed with artist Andrea Sorrentino. In the present we have Andrew’s grim vampire hunt through a tangle of limbs. In the past we have a romantic moonlit night that bears the same heavy shadows as the terrifying street scene. Sorrentino likes to draw some horror and revenge into love, Lady Gaga style.
I wasn’t expecting much from this fanged title in DC’s relaunch, but it wound up as one of my favorite books. Whether it’s superheroes or vampires, there is delight in finding a fresh spin on an old story, and I think Fialkov and Sorrentino succeed in this first issue. Yes, reluctant vampires and blood-thirsty lovers have been done before, but not in a superhero universe and not with this tone. It will be interesting to see where they head without the narrative frame they use to keep this one standing, but this bad romance is worth a read.