Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Truth

It turns out that what we've always suspected is actually true. Grant Morrison owns up in his interview in Wizard #182 ("Son of a Bat!"; p. 38).
Wizard: Batman and Talia's baby from Son of the Demon has been pretty much ignored by DC continuity for all these years. Did that make it tougher for you to tackle, or more tempting?

Morrison: For a long time, [DC] said [Son of the Demon] was out of continuity. Now it's just kind of out of continuity. I didn't actually read it before I started writing this. I messed up a lot of details, like Batman wasn't drugged when he was having sex with Talia and it didn't take place in the desert. I was relying on shaky memories. But now we have this new "Superboy punch" continuity [after Superboy Prime attacked the fabric of the universe during Infinite Crisis]. People still don't realize how important that single punch was to cover everyone's ass.
This has left me speechless, though I do admire GM's honesty.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mirror, Mirror

I was hoping that Carol Danvers wouldn't get so tightly woven into the patchwork fabric of Marvel's Civil War that she'd have trouble re-emerging from the experience, but in Ms. Marvel #8 the writer has the character cross the Rubicon.

Not only does Carol track down and capture Julia Carpenter (Arachne; formerly Spider Woman II), but she assures that Julia's separation from her young daughter will be as traumatic as possible.

Calvin Pitt, at Reporting on Marvels and Legends, puts things really well:

I haven't hated the main character of a book I bought this much since Tim Drake at the end of Robin's first One Year Later arc (the little bastard). So congrats Ms. Marvel, you've joined rare company! No, there are no gifts or snacks.

What's intrigued me about Ms. Marvel is the gendered mirroring that's been on display in the book; the last several issues have featured several female analogues to the male figures at the center of Civil War.

— As the pro-Registration powerhouse, Carol Danvers has taken on characteristics of both Reed Richards and Tony Stark, the most prominent being a retreat to legalism and an unabashed embrace of asshole-ishness.

— Julia Carpenter has served as the sympathetic, defiant, relentlessly-hunted Captain America figure.

— Anya (Aña Sofia Corazon; Araña) is the younger, inexperienced member of the Spider-family who has come to believe she may be on the wrong side.

I suppose this kind of mirroring is to be expected, since the cross-over format requires each character heading a title to play out a "local" scenario linked to the "global" event. Since Carol is a woman, perhaps it's natural for her book to provide a woman's own version of Civil War.

However, if Ms. Danvers is going to be hell on wheels in the next cross-over, it'd definitely be more satisfying to see her as the head honcho calling the shots at center stage in the pages of the core title, rather than serve as someone else's second-in-command.

A Little of Both

I originally selected this panel from Birds of Prey #99 as beefcake to be appreciated, but now that I think about it, there's something for everyone, here.

It must be said, however, that since it depicts a female fantasy, the panel definitely leans towards beef.


A cheesecake contribution to Cheesecake/Beefcake Appreciation Week:

From Strangers in Paradise #5, 1995. Drawn by Terry Moore.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Necessary Point

From Koben Kelly's "Best Shots" review of Gen13 at Newsarama:

With the majority of the team being female, I am satisfied with Wildstorm choosing the industry's top female writer to helm the book. It seems only logical. I look forward to her insights unavailable to the title's previous scribes.

Although this comment doesn't anger me so much as Kelly's earlier Simone-related commentary ("GS ... proves herself as the leading female in the industry ..."), it irked me nonetheless.

Man, it's very simple: good writers are good writers. They can write anything and anyone.

Gail Simone is to DC as Ed Brubaker is to Marvel.

She should eventually be writing the company's elite titles, whether they've got any women in them or not.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

High Anxiety

I'm really enjoying Ed Brubaker's "Rise and Fall of the Shi'ar Empire" in Uncanny X-Men. Chapter five (UX-M #479) in the twelve-part storyarc went on sale on Wednesday, and it features a powerless, chastened, and somewhat discredited Charles Xavier leading a subset of the X-Men into the heart of the Shi'ar empire in order to confront the extremely powerful and extraordinarily pissed off Vulcan (the long-missing third Summers brother).

The team is comprised of Rachel Grey, Warpath, Havoc, Polaris, and Darwin (the new guy, from Brubaker's mini-series Deadly Genesis). Rachel Grey has got a pretty big bone to pick with the Shi'ar, since she recently survived an attack from a Shi'ar deathsquad which branded her with the mark of the Phoenix and brutally exterminated her relatives.

Given the recent contentious discussion of decapitation and symbolic castration in superhero comics, I was struck by the fact that the bad guy who emerges as the threat in the issue provides an illustrative case study in castration anxiety, and serves as an example of how it might be deployed as both a character motivator and an effective plot theme. The core of the castration complex is anxiety, a fear of sexualized punishment and loss of power, and Brubaker deploys the theme of male anxiety really well.

The Shi'ar have released the bad guy, Korvus, from a captivity of torture and mistreatment. He's the remaining descendant of Rook'shir (the last wielder the Phoenix force), and, as we've seen, the Shi'ar have never taken kindly to individuals and families overly friendly to the Phoenix.

However, Korvus's warders have set him loose, and placed his ancestor's weapon in his hands, for two reasons: (1) only someone of Rook'shir's line can actually wield the massive sword, and (2) only this particular sword can destroy Rachel Grey.

So we've got a very strong man, on a mission to annihilate a single woman, bearing (what must be) the universe's largest sword, the Blade of the Phoenix.

Warpath, the team's hyper-masculine bruiser, carries a pair of vibranium knives as his armament (and he knows how to use them). Here's his reaction upon first setting his eyes upon Korvus:

Korvus deals with Warpath and the others fairly easily, and turns his attention to Rachel. After deploying her telepathy to parry his initial attack, she informs him:

"I don't have to touch you to hurt you. I don't have to get anywhere near that big honking sword."

However, Korvus wields the weapon quite expertly, and ultimately gets the drop on Rachel. Readying himself for a final blow, he arches the blade over his head as an executioner might. But as he swings it down, Rachel grabs a hold of it, initiating a cosmic mind meld.

Warpath's reaction to seeing the weapon is the first outward expression of male anxiety in the issue. ("Wow...") Korvus has the second when, after he jars the blade out of Rachel's hands, he notes that something just isn't right, anymore.

Korvus's confused and plaintive you took some line is revelatory. This single panel effectively defines and illustrates the concept of male anxiety in the face of a powerful woman.

At the start of the issue, he believes himself to be the only man in the universe who can wield this blade; at the close, he learns that the sword exerts no power over it's sole intended (female) victim. What's more, a portion of the Phoenix power within the weapon willingly migrates into Rachel Grey, making her even stronger.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Well-Dressed Villainess

Gail Simone's inaugural issue of Gen13 was a nice set-up issue for the team, and introduced readers to Megan, the evil Dr. Cross's able assistant.

Megan wore an interesting outfit in her debut:

While I won't comment upon her problematic decision to wear briefs which don't match the style or color of her top, I did have a question about her shirt.

Is it now essential for a villain's assistant to wear one of these Blackhawk inspired numbers? (Two non-villains, Zinda Blake [the Lady Blackhawk] and Action Girl sport them, too.)

Lex Luthor's right hand woman in 52 was wearing something similar in several issues.

Can anyone actually name this style of jacket/shirt?

As a visual reference, here's the Silver Age Zinda Blake's uniform (from Blackhawk #133, 1959):

Why might a woman with villainy on her mind decide to put one of these on?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Professor Chaos

During a brief break in the incessant paper grading that presently fills my days, I purchased this handsome set of South Park coasters at my local 5 Below store.

I am presently investigating how I might aquire a set of Professor Chaos kitchenware and matching embossed stationery.

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