Posts Tagged ‘New 52’

Politically Incorrect Theater – Part 11

2015/03/12
I think Wonder Woman's been spending too much time reading radical feminist blogs on Tumblr.

I think someone’s been spending too much time reading radical feminist blogs on Tumblr.

Remember what Wonder Woman was like before the New 52? When her response to men disrespecting her involved petty acts of vandalism and destruction of private property rather than explicit threats of castration (which makes her about one step removed from Frank Miller‘s interpretation of her)?

I kinda miss that Wonder Woman.

This…thing…was taken from Wonder Woman #19 (June 2013) by Brian Azzarello, Tony Akins, Goran Sudžuka, and Dan Green.

The Lunar Archivist’s Sketchbook – Part 6

2012/09/30

Today’s page from my sketchbook comes with a story.

While attending Montreal Comiccon 2012 two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to not only meet the legendary George Pérez, but also to have him sketch something for me. (Not for free, of course, but for a pretty reasonable amount given a comic book artist of his stature.) But who to choose, with both the DC and Marvel Universes at my fingertips? Well, given my rather vocal objection on this blog to Scott Lobdell‘s interpretation of a certain alien princess combined with the fact that the character was co-created by Marv Wolfman and Mr. Pérez himself, my decision turned out to be a no-brainer.

Me: “I’d like a sketch of Starfire, because I don’t like what they’ve done with her in the New 52.”

To which he responded:

George Pérez: “I don’t, either.”

I think my little raging fanboy heart skipped a beat when he said that.

This led to a brief exchange between the two of us which pretty much confirmed what all of Starfire’s fans already knew. Mr. Pérez didn’t, for a single moment, deny that she was eye candy. But her sexiness was never sleazy. What made her so endearing was that she was naïve and oblivious to the effect she had on men; she was “a wide-eyed innocent”, to use his exact words, and it’s in that form that he chose to immortalize her for me in my sketchbook:


So, here’s the tl;dr version:

1. Fan vindication by a character’s creator on creative mismanagement can be sweet enough to induce a diabetic coma.

2. Suck on that, Lobdell.

UPDATE (2013.05.27.): Despite the relative obscurity of this website in the blogosphere as a whole, I pride myself on having some sense of journalistic integrity. So when a deviantART Internet troll questioned the reliability of my claim that Mr. Pérez had ever referred to Starfire as a “wide-eyed innocent” in this comment thread, I decided to go straight to the source and ask the big man himself via his Facebook fan page, which he himself runs. Even though I thought it was a long shot, George Pérez surprised me by answering less than three hours later and confirmed my original statement. And here’s my proof:

Suck on THIS, Matthew Lane. :P

Suck on THIS, Matthew Lane. 😛

That is all. 🙂

Green Lantern Alan Scott’s Gay Relationship About To Be Derailed?

2012/06/04

I really hate to be the one to rain on the gay pride parade, but for all the comic book fans who’re not only celebrating the original Green Lantern Alan Scott‘s reimagining as a homosexual man in DC Comics‘ new series Earth 2 but also hoping to see more of this in the future…

This isn’t your grandfather’s Alan Scott.

…be warned: your happiness may be short-lived, because I have a sinking feeling that writer James Robinson is about to invoke the Bury Your Gays trope by dropping a bridge on poor Sam here. Maybe literally.

Why exactly am I jumping to this conclusion based on nothing more than a three page advance preview from Earth 2 #2 (August 2012)? The answer to that question can be found in the following panel:

A last minute change of plans for a romantic getaway? Smells like a recipe for disaster.

The minute I saw the word “train”, it raised a big red flag with me. And, if you’re at all familiar with the Golden Age Green Lantern, you’d immediately understand why I was concerned. For the uninitiated, however, here’s his origin story is as it originally appeared in the pages of All-American Comics #16 (July 1940):

One thing’s for sure: Alan Scott is a bigger badass than Captain James T. Kirk.

Yes, that’s right: Alan Scott became a superhero after being caught in a railway disaster that killed everyone else on board the train he was on. And the following image – either an alternate cover or a splash page – which depicts a screaming Green Lantern surrounded by burning corpses

“ANYONE WHO MAKES A ‘FLAMING’ JOKE GETS A PUNCH IN THE FACE!”

…does very little to quell my fears in that department.

Since Robinson’s apparently trying to cram every cliché imaginable into this book, the reason for the accident this time around will probably be 1) corporate sabotage (as it was in the 1940s), 2) irresponsible corporate behavior, 3) a botched attempt to kidnap or assassinate Alan Scott, or 4) a terrorist attack.

Now, I freely admit that I might be overreacting and the “bullet train” line could just be a red herring. After all, Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, originally acquired super speed in a laboratory accident that rendered him unconscious and left him inhaling hard water vapors overnight while his younger, reimagined counterpart is set to inherit them from the dying Olympian God Mercury, which is a significant change that proves not everything’s going to go down in quite the same way it did the first time. I guess we’ll know by Wednesday morning.

Hell, I hope I’m wrong. Because, while the DC Universe could really use some new homosexual or bisexual characters, the last thing it needs is for one half of a happy gay couple to be killed off as part of a quick sympathy grab or a cheap source of drama and tragedy, especially this early in the game.

UPDATE 1 (2012.06.06.): I believe the final two pages of this issue speak for themselves:

Will the Dynamic Duo of Alan and Sam survive? Tune in next month! Same crap day, same crap comic! 😛

While we can’t really call it for sure until next month, taking Alan and Sam’s seating positions when the explosion occurred into consideration, I think it’s safe to say that one of them didn’t make it. That suspicious green glow kind of speaks for itself, though…

But I mean really…gushing in anticipation about a place you’re heading to (and not making it there due to a tragedy occurring)? A doomed wedding proposal? Getting your power from a ring that serves as a symbol of the union you’ll never have because your lover died? Good freaking god, how many more hackneyed plot contrivances and cliché-ridden schmaltz could we have built into this thing? Seriously, I wish Alan Scott was still straight and Sam was a woman just so I could’ve seen if Robinson would’ve had her confess to being pregnant before the choo-choo went bye-bye. You know, just to add that little extra child-killing twist to the knife that DC Comics has become so fond of using lately. Well, that and offing minority characters.

Honestly, the only way I could possibly be surprised at this point is if Alan Scott died in the explosion and Sam becomes the Earth-2 Green Lantern instead of him. But given that the image with the fiery dead bodies from my original post – which I’m guessing is the cover for next month’s issue – clearly shows a blue-eyed, blond-haired man in the costume, I wouldn’t bet on it.

UPDATE 2 (2012.07.06.): While reviewing the second issue of Earth 2, Sara Lima of Comic Vine had the following to say about this whole mess:

“I admit, I’m not so sure about the end. I’ll be disappointed if we are introduced to Sam (Alan Scott’s boyfriend), and he is killed off so quickly following Scott’s proposal. Again, this can happen in a comic, but it has to be done right. If it does happen, I will want (as the reader) to see a dramatic change in Scott’s character, behavior, and outlook on life. Also, if it does happen; I hope that Robinson will reinforce why Sam was so important to Scott in the first place. There are ways for a writer to memorialize a character even in death, and I look forward to seeing if this is something Robinson does with these two characters in this series.” – Sara Lima

Apparently, James Robinson was butthurt about what she had to say and gave her a bit of a hard time about it during The Comic Vine Podcast for June 8, 2012:

James Robinson: “Let’s start with Sara’s review.”
Sara Lima: “Oh god.”
James Robinson: “Because it’s four stars. Again. And people might think that I’m this mad egotist that demands five stars…”
Sara Lima: *laughs*
James Robinson: “…and I don’t. And…but what I do demand is fair play.”
Sara Lima: “Justice. Oh! Mr. Terrific!”
James Robinson: “And your review wasn’t fair and I’ll tell you why.”
Sara Lima: “Okay.”
James Robinson: “Because I assume that you lose stars for the bad…you know, you do the good part of the review and the bad part.”
Sara Lima: “Uh-huh.”
James Robinson: “The bad part which you very thoughtfully blacked out so it wasn’t a spoiler is all based on supposition of what will happen in issue three.”
Sara Lima: “It is speculation, isn’t it?”
James Robinson: “So you didn’t…you demerited me for something that may or may not happen in issue three. You didn’t judge it on issue two’s. And that’s why I believe it’s unfair and that’s why you should give me five stars.”

While Sara conceded that his position had merit, she nevertheless defended her review:

Sara Lima: “I think that, in my defense, I brought up an issue that I think comic writers deal with pretty frequently, which is the introduction and the very immediate demise of characters that ser….whose only purpose is to serve…serve the plot.”
James Robinson: “I…”
Sama Lima: “And to push the plot.”
James Robinson: “I agree with you, and that is something that…”
Sara Lima: “And that is something that, you know, I think you have to tread very lightly, uh, you know…”
James Robinson: “Okay, that’s fair enough. And that’s something that, when you review issue three and give it one star, I will completely…if indeed what you say happens, but if it does and you’d just like to give it one star, completely fair. I’m not even…I’m not even going to argue.”
Sara Lima: “Okay.”
James Robinson: “But I think this one…if I lost that star for something that hasn’t happened yet, you should reinstate it. I really believe it.”
Sara Lima: “I think…you know what? You have a deal.”

You know, you’d think that after all of Robinson’s bitching, there might’ve been something more to Sam’s fate than what I and a few others originally thought. So…was there? Well, unless the big green talking ball of fire that serves as the embodiment of Earth’s energy is lying its ass off, I’d say this statement concerning Sam’s fate is pretty damn unambiguous unless something really, really stupid happens, like his being reborn as the new Solomon Grundy (who also made his first appearance in this issue):

Well, shit.

So, just to make sure we’re all on the same page here: James Robinson got annoyed because Sara Lima called him out on his bullshit after spotting it while it was still on the horizon instead of waiting until it was about to smack her square in the face. Why shouldn’t she and other reviewers warn readers about what they should be expecting and have them save three bucks rather than spend it just to find out that the speculators were completely on target?

Incidentally, I totally called the symbolism behind Alan Scott’s Green Lantern ring in my last update one month ago:

This is the worst slashfic I’ve ever read.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I don’t trust James Robinson or DC Comics at all anymore: because it’s all been reduced to naked greed and pure consumerism. Say anything. Do anything. Mislead, obfuscate, or downright lie if you must. Just get people buying books and boost sales any way you can. Controversy and supermarket tabloid levels of sensationalism are fine. The ends justify the means, even if the quality of writing goes completely down the crapper in the process.

ADDENDUM (2012.07.06.): I officially called it quits earlier today. After 27 years of being a loyal reader, I’ve officially dropped every single DC title from my pull list, good or bad. Whatever joy this hobby used to bring me now pales in comparison to the levels of anger, frustration, and irritation that I’m constantly being subjected to. I have much better things to do with my money.

For the loyal subscribers to my blog, don’t worry. I’ll still be posting amusing panels and pages here on a regular basis. I’ll just be skimming through other people’s copies to find them from now on rather than my own. 🙂

A Touch of Voodoo

2011/12/01

If you’ve been following either this blog or my message board posting activity over the last several weeks, then you’re probably well aware of my open disdain for Scott Lobdell‘s Red Hood and the Outsiders due to his less-than-flattering portrayal of Starfire, which was rife with unfortunate implications, (unintentionally) sexist undertones, and generous amounts of character derailment, sentiments echoed by numerous reviewers, fans, and posters all across the Internet. This wasn’t the only one of the New 52 to be singled out for its questionable portrayal of women, though: Judd Winick‘s Catwoman received similar flak for not only portraying Selina Kyle as little more than a series of body parts for the first two pages of its premiere issue but also ending with some hot-‘n’-heavy costumed foreplay between her and Batman in the lead up to an actual sexual encounter.

Given the widespread uproar, it comes as absolutely no surprise that Ron Marz‘s Voodoo didn’t escape similar scrutiny, especially since the opening issue largely took place in a gentlemen’s club and featured an exotic dancer as the female protagonist. Yet, as someone who’s actually read all three comics, while I vehemently agreed with the first group of detractors and could see where the second group of critics were coming from, I found myself strangely undecided when it came to the third. Whatever else it may have done, Voodoo had failed to ruffle my proverbial feathers in the same way that it had those of so many other readers. Which raises the inevitable question: why?

After reviewing Voodoo #1 several times, I believe that I’ve figured out the answer. But rather than state my line of reasoning outright, I’ll be breaking down the book into sections, posting panels as well as the occasional entire page (hopefully without violating the spirit of “fair use” too much in the process), and offering comments, observations, and synopses when necessary. To get the most out of this blog post, though, it would probably be in your best interest to grab a copy so that you can follow along. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here.

Before we get started, let’s get two of the most frequently-observed critiques out of the way:

1. Yes, there’s an awful lot of sexual imagery and (conveniently obscured) nudity in this book. However, since most of the story takes place in a strip club, that’s hardly surprising. It’s not exactly the kind of place you visit in order to watch people run around with their clothes on.

2. For those who disapproves of the choice of venue and the occupation of the main character, I’d like to remind you that, when we were originally introduced to Voodoo in the pages of WildC.A.T.s #1 (August 1992)…


…she was also an exotic dancer – and a rather goofily-dressed one at that – so that aspect of her portrayal has an actual precendent in WildStorm Universe continuity (even if that’s one of the few things about her that carried over during the relaunch).

The Breakdown

The story is told from the perspectives of three different characters: the eponymous (anti-)heroine Voodoo (Priscilla Kitaen) and the two FBI agents, Tyler Evans and Jessica “Jess” Fallon, who have her under surveillance.

Page 1


This splash page – one of two found in this issue – caused quite a stir when it first appeared in previews. While the book’s definitely wandering into metafictional territory here – the target audience of the strip club deejay’s dialogue is either the in-universe clientele or the readers sitting just beyond the fourth wall – there’s no avoiding the fact that what we have is a half-naked woman on all fours, surrounded by money and being ogled by a bunch of men: a less-than-empowering depiction if ever there was one. But, as we’ll later see, looks can be deceiving, and even the nature of this image isn’t quite so cut-and-dried.

In a nice little continuity nod, notice how Voodoo’s sporting the same ridiculous furry leg warmers that she originally wore two decades ago in WildC.A.T.s #1.

Page 2


The deejay’s narration continues as Voodoo begins her act and starts dancing.

Page 3

Our first perspective shift occurs on Page 3, where readers discover that they’ve been watching Voodoo’s act from the point of view of two FBI agents, who conveniently happen to be of different genders (and thus provide equal representation for both halves of the audience).
Based on their friendly exchange, it’s painfully evident that the man, Tyler Evans, is enjoying their “stakeout” more than strictly necessary and isn’t above taking advantage of the situation to enjoy the view. The woman, Jess Fallon, is quick to shoot down every male fantasy that she could possibly be dragged into at this point, neither buying any of the excuses he’s giving to justify his behavior nor entertaining the notion that she might secretly harbor any lesbian tendencies or have the slightest interest in what’s going on onstage. She ultimately takes off in a huff after getting her fill of annoyance and disgust, her feelings likely mirroring those of at least some of the readers who share her gender at this point. So, with the female voice of reason gone, we’re left associating with the male pig. Well, that’s just swell.

Pages 4 and 5

As events continue to unfold from Evans’ viewpoint, the compositional tone of the book shifts dramatically, as if mirroring certain aspects of his established personality: almost every panel on both these pages is either sexually suggestive or involves money in one way or another, with the accompanying “camera angles” seemingly chosen to be as gratuitous and shameless as possible.


Of particular note is the emphasis on the cleavage of the nameless waitress whom Evans strikes up a friendly conversation with, which becomes the focus of no less than four separate panels with increasingly ridiculous vantage points.


See what I mean? To be fair, though, we do get a fair amount of exposition during all this, as Evans manages to charm Voodoo’s first name out of the waitress and we discover that she’s quite popular with the soldiers from the nearby military base (an important plot point which we’ll be picking up on again soon).

Pages 6 to 8

We switch over to Fallon’s perspective as she exits the strip club in a foul mood due to her partner’s immature antics. In the process, she brushes past a group of 17-year-olds attempting to gain illegal entry into the establishment, unintentionally gaining their ire as she knocks the fake ID out of their ringleader’s hand. When the four male teenagers come looking for trouble, she once again has to fend off an unflattering insinuation about her sexual orientation and responds to their leader’s repeated demands for an apology with a counteroffer of her own:
Incidentally, that little cigarette break she’s taking is about as close to sexual innuendo as we get during this entire sequence.

Pages 9 to 11

Our viewpoint shifts to Voodoo as she interacts with the other exotic dancers in the lounge’s dressing room. Naturally, given where we are, there’s a lot of bare skin on display. But, as Page 10 demonstrates, the artwork’s emphasis is markedly different from what it was when we were sharing Evans’ perspective out on the dance floor:
The “camera angles” are more subdued and practical rather than voyeuristic, and the (partial) nudity isn’t being particularly emphasized: it’s simply window dressing. The dialogue not only reflects the behind-the-scenes reality of a strip club – that it’s a business designed to make money by tapping into the fantasies of its clientele and selling the illusion of intimacy and sex rather than the reality – but also portray the strippers as members of an x-rated sorority who watch each others’ backs and help one another out. Moreover, the banter puts decidedly human faces on the dancers, as we discover more about their personal lives and motivations for being there, absolutely none of which have anything to do with sex: one is putting herself through community college; another is trying to earn enough money to open a bar; a single mom named Abby is raising a son named Cody (and trying to find a last minute replacement babysitter); and Voodoo herself is taking advantage of men’s lowered defenses in this seedy environment to learn more about them. (What exactly she means by this will become clear very soon.)

Pages 12 to 15

The first (and last) direct interaction between Voodoo and Evans takes place after the latter specifically requests her for a private dance. And, as the latter returns, so, too, does his narrative point of view: the wacky, sexually exploitative “camera angles” and panels oozing with erotic undertones and innuendo are back with a vengeance, with a hint of bondage thrown in for good measure (a seemingly trivial detail which will prove crucial later on).


As before, in spite of the sexually charged atmosphere, the exposition continues.
It’s at this point that Evans grabs the idiot ball and tries his darndest to score a touchdown by overplaying his hand instead of keeping it close to the vest.
Strangely enough, in spite of his eagerness to call her out on her cover story, a surprising amount of what Voodoo told him is (or may be) technically true: being an alien, she’s most definitely “not from around here” and her original WildStorm Universe incarnation was indeed a “mixed-race kid” (specifically a Daemonite/Kherubim/Human hybrid, though whether this is also the case for her DC Universe counterpart has yet to be determined). As for “her being more than happy to take what (those men stationed at that military base) are offering”, she never explicitly states that it’s their paychecks she’s after rather than the information in their heads; she just phrases things in such a way that normal people who’re not in the know would naturally (and not unreasonably) draw that conclusion.

Page 17

We catch up with Fallon in her hotel room, where she’s knocking back a few drinks and leaves a voicemail message for her partner after he fails to answer his cell phone. While other writers might’ve used this location as a convenient excuse for showing her in a state of undress, there’s none of that to be found here; the only item of clothing she’s removed in the interim is her jacket. Though she’s been portrayed as a hardass up until now, for the first time, we catch a glimpse of her softer side, as it becomes clear from her dialogue that she’s concerned for her partner’s safety and well-being. There’s also a subtle hint that she and Evans might’ve been in a “friends with benefits” type relationship previously (though we won’t get confirmation of this until the beginning of the second issue).

Page 18

Back at the strip club, things take a turn for the worse when Evans violates his engagement orders and threatens Voodoo directly in an attempt to get results, evidently not anticipating how an extraterrestrial telepath might react to the idea of vivisection for some reason:


While all perspective shifts thus far have coincided with the scene transitions between pages, this one takes place in mid-page, as the viewpoint baton is passed from Evans to Voodoo after the latter reads his mind.

Page 19

While the opening page of this book depicted an attractive female character in a submissive cheesecake pose with regard to her male audience, this second and final splash page features a complete reversal of that situation: the male character, Evans, is now in the subordinate position, one hand still bound by the wrist restraint of the chair he’s sitting in, and at the mercy of this boner-killing female example of fan disservice:


Ugh. Those lace panties and heels don’t flatter her at all.

Pages 20 and 21

Horrified by the mental image she picked while reading Evans’ mind, Voodoo lashes out in an act of self-preservation and shreds him like so much lettuce before returning to her default human shape, quitting her job as an exotic dancer, and assuming his form in order to meet up with Fallon.

A Brief Analysis

As mentioned previously, the events of this issue unfold through the eyes of Voodoo, Tyler Evans, and Jessica Fallon. What makes this setup interesting is that there’s a noticeable shift in the emphasis and tone of the artwork depending on which one of the three the reader happens to be following at the time: while Evans’ male viewpoint fully embraces sexism, machismo and the strip club fantasy (as evidenced by the use of gratuitous “camera angles” designed to maximize sexual objectification), Fallon and Voodoo’s female perspectives are grounded in reality and depict women in a more balanced and respectful way, regardless of the inherently provocative atmosphere of the locale and the amount of clothing those women are wearing (or not wearing, as the case may be). Equally noteworthy is the fact that, while the female characters are portrayed as powerful and capable throughout, the male ones appear grossly incompetent by comparison. What’s more, the latter end up being suckered by pretty faces and underestimate the “fairer sex” to to their own detriment: the four teenage would-be clubgoers receive a sound ass-kicking from Fallon while Evans dies at Voodoo’s hands as a result of his stupidity and blatant disregard for the rules.

The most important difference, however, is that, while nudity and sexual imagery is plentiful in  this book, its presence is well integrated into the plot: there’s a reasonable explanation provided for pretty much everything, from Voodoo’s presence at the strip club (reconnaissance and espionage) to the FBI agents being there (surveillance) to Evans’ asking for a private dance (which, while intended to produce results and convince his target to surrender to the authorities, is admittedly flimsy in the reasoning department). Yet, even while pandering to the audience with copious amounts of fanservice, not only are readers provided with information relevant to the plot, but it occurs in a way that is logical both in-universe and to the readers: the exposition is on par with the visuals rather than being incidental, and the backdrop is not just being used as a flimsy excuse to show as much female flesh and cheescake as possible.

To get a better idea of what I mean, compare and contrast the artwork you’ve just seen with the first page of Catwoman #1:


While there’s a decent enough reason for Selina Kyle to be in running around in her underwear – she’s getting dressed in a hurry and trying to make a break for it before some thugs break down her front door and firebomb her apartment – the entire sequence is pretty shameless: while the “unseen face” may be a well-established convention and storytelling technique in visual media, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that this page is 75% cleavage and underwear shots and contains other suggestive elements (such as her putting her gloves on with her teeth). In addition, aside from her spoken dialogue, none of the other text on this entire page is related to the provocative visuals; Selina’s internal monologue, while informative and insightful as far as establishing her personality is concerned, doesn’t really complement the action at hand. From the buttshot as she heads for a nearby window on Page 2…


…to the backflip she makes while breaking through it on Page 3 (which is the first time we actually see her face)…


…to her spread-legged roof-landing stance on Page 4…


…it’s clear that both the main character as well as the tone of the book itself are being set up as sexually mischievous and playful. Even the front cover, where we see a barefoot Catwoman lounging on a rooftop in a reclined, pin-up style pose while suggestively sprinking white diamonds all over her chest…


…makes absolutely no attempt to clothe its fanservice in a cloak of legitimacy. While Voodoo’s orgasmic expression in the front cover of her own book is undeniably sexual innuendo…


…that reptilian-looking hand hints at the fact that there’s more to her than meets the eye, so it’s not completely without merit as we’re still being imparted with important information in the form of a visual cue. The following pages from Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, on the other hand…



…demonstrate a near-complete disconnect between words and images. While Starfire‘s narration and Jason Todd and Roy Harper‘s exchange grant us insight into her personality (or what passes for it following Scott Lobdell’s lobotomy of the character) and history, absolutely none of it is relevant to her beachside frolicking in a bikini: the entire scene could’ve just as easily been set in a shopping mall considering how scenario-unspecific both their dialogue and her internal monologue are. Even the picture-snapping underage voyeur, “boy1211”, could’ve obtained more definitive proof of a Tamaranean’s presence on Earth by photographing a truly alien feature of hers, such as her face with its green, pupilless eyes. In fact, not only are these pin-up-style pages pure fanservice for fanservice’s sake, but certain elements in the artwork, such as ripples of water serving as unconventional panel borders, the awkward placement of the “There is a god.” word bubble, and the frame breaks caused by the full body shot of Starfire from the rear are actually somewhat intrusive and either unnecessarily complicate or disrupt the story’s narrative flow.

In a nutshell, the reason that Ron Marz’s Voodoo works for me is because his writing has some actual substance and doesn’t just cater to the lowest common denominator. While there may be far more sexual imagery and nudity present in his book than there is in Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws combined, not only is there a legitimate reason for its presence, but the exclusive association of its more salacious aspects with a male perspective combined with the negative fallout it has on the individual who holds it make the book more subversive than pandering in nature. Most importantly, however, the comic’s use of sexual imagery doesn’t reflect negatively upon or otherwise diminish the female protagonists, which is always a good thing. Not bad for a writer whose most infamous career moments include Hal Jordan going insane and Major Force murdering Kyle Rayner‘s girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, and stuffing her into a refrigerator, the latter of which became the namer for an extremely unfortunate trope. Maybe he’s finally balanced the cosmic scales by introducing the male equivalent of “Women in Refrigerators“: “Men in Stripper Booths”. 😉

Unfortunately, while writing this article, I was disappointed to learn that Ron Marz has been pulled from the title and is being replaced by Joshua Williamson starting with the fifth issue. While I have nothing against the latter and wish him well, if this article of mine has piqued your interest, I encourage you to show your support for the former by picking up the remainder of his run and any back issues of the title that you can find. You won’t be disappointed.

UPDATE (2011.12.01): Just a quick disclaimer: while Ron Marz in no way participated in the writing of this article and all opinions expressed herein are purely my own, a brief exchange we had on Twitter in early November inspired its creation. For your support both then as well as in the tweet you made a few hours ago with a link to this blog entry – which was a pleasant (if unexpected) surprise – you have my sincerest thanks, good sir. 🙂

And, while we’re at it, special thanks to my friends Dedicatedfollower467 and Trina Swank for being objective readers. 😀

Basement Dwellers, Open-Mindedness, and Whining on the Internet

2011/09/16

Ever since the following panels appeared in last week’s issue of Justice League International #1 (November 2011) by Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti, and Matt Ryan, it’s been making the rounds on message boards and Internet forums.

Subtlety, thy name is DC Comics.

This is, of course, an obvious reference to the continuing online debate over whether or not the 2011 reboot of the DC Universe was a good idea.

In all fairness to Dan Jurgens, his mouthpiece in the above exchange, Booster Gold, is quite clearly advocating the position that it’s the job of the writers to win over the unhappy members of the fanbase by producing a quality product. In fact, many online posters have been openly mocking the haters and claiming that, if you happens to be offended by this line, that’s only because it hits a bit too close to home. If you take a closer look at the subtext in the aforementioned panels and the latter argument as a whole, however, there are several unfortunate implications that may or may not be immediately apparent:

1. Basement dweller: This is an ad hominem attack, pure and simple. An attempt is being made to link dissenting arguments with a negative lifestyle in order to discredit them, the assumption being that someone who is an (implied) basement dweller could not possibly come up with legitimate criticism. This is, of course, ridiculous.

2. Open-mindedness: The base assumption here is that all ideas have equal merit and should thus carry the same weight when it comes to making decisions. Again, this is pure drivel. If a patient develops cancer, he can choose to either undergo chemotherapy or hope to be healed through the power of prayer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that both options most definitely don’t deserve the same amount of consideration.

3. Whining on the Internet: It is widely assumed that complaining about something on the Internet is inherently useless and pathetic and therefore automatically beneath consideration. This is the same flawed argument that’s being made in Point 1 – i.e. guilt by association – and, as with most things in life, how seriously you’re taken depends on what exactly it is that you do. Ranting, raving, and engaging in character assassination on a message board, for example, is an exercise in futility while making clear, concise, logical, and well-researched arguments on a website and spreading the word through social networking is far more productive and stands a far better (albeit admittedly limited) chance of appealing to the masses and making your voice heard. (And in case anyone’s wondering, that link was an attempt at self-deprecating humor, not ego-stroking.)

4. Ignoring the protestors: Let’s make one thing clear: DC Comics is not a democracy. Anyone who’s in a position of power over there did not acquire it by the popular vote of the fanbase. They were hired or appointed. As far as I know, most of the decision-making lies in the hands of a six-member executive management team, specifically Jim Lee, Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, John Rood, Patrick Caldon, and Diane Nelson. Whatever they say goes, and, while they might take the opinions of longtime fans and their own in-house creators into account, they do so at their own discretion and are under absolutely no obligation to do so.

That last point, I believe, lies at the heart of why fans are so vocal and upset: over the past ten years or so, several unpopular decisions have been forced through due to executive meddling that have been detrimental to fan-favorite characters. While Hal Jordan‘s return to the role of Green Lantern and the revival of the Green Lantern Corps has been a tremendous success, others such as the Flash and Green Arrow have suffered tremendously, with increasingly desperate attempts to fix the very messes that editorial mandate created in the first place only making things even worse. Unfortunately, the only options fans have to voice their displeasure are either complaining on major online message boards in the hopes that the Powers That Be at DC Comics will listen or to vote with their wallet and stop purchasing anything unless conditions improve.

And since the former is being widely dismissed by parties on both sides of the issue as the ravings of comic book fandom’s lunatic fringe, I guess there’s only one choice left, isn’t there?

Congratulations, DC and Dan DiDio, you’ve succeeded in dragging this closed-minded basement dweller into the new digital era of comic books. I will most definitely be reading more of your titles in the future than I have in the past 27 years of collecting.

I simply won’t be paying you a dime for any of them.

The Internet, after all, has far more practical applications than simply being a place to whine. 😉


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