Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Who would be interested in this type of column?

FIGHTING FASHIONS: A What Not To Wear While Superheroing Column

Has anyone seen Sue Storm lately? No I mean has anyone looked at Sue Storm lately? When she's visible? Does no one love this woman? An adoring husband, devoted fans, loyal friends and warm son and you all let her go out of the house dressed like that? This is love?

Was it because you didn't know what to say? It can be difficult talking to any woman about how she looks and whether or not it's good. But if you really cared, you'd suck it up, people. This woman saves lives. The least you could do is be honest with her. But maybe a few of you might point her here, because I will be talking directly to her.

Sue? Before we even begin I just want to say I commend you on being in such fine physical shape despite all the mishaps, adventures, rescues and disaster recovery you've been though; not to mention the birth of your son. Good maternity clothes are such a trial to find, aren't they? Months of feeling like no matter what you do, there's no way you could ever be invisible. Lots of women felt that way - feel that way. Ask your mother when you get a chance, I'll bet she has some stories.

But I have a question. Did it start there? Did the realization that you were no longer the sweet girl, the blushing bride happen as you watched your body change? It's normal. And there is not enough information out there on how to reclaim yourself after pregnancy. I'm putting at least some of the blame on what happened to you on that.

Because House of Land? Seriously, IW? On a woman of mature years and a now more rounded figure? House of Land is for breastless, too rich, teenage girls trying to look like they think a sexy and sexual woman should look. You passed that milestone in growth ages ago. Why did you go back?

Skin tight clothes that show camel-toe and your nipples? Unstable molecular cloth was never meant for that purpose. And quite frankly it makes even a noble shade of blue look cheap when it's been stretched thin enough across your body to look like wet vinyl. If that's what Reed Richards needs in the bedroom, dear, the general public shouldn't know about it.

You're a strong woman. You're the glue that holds that team together, the backbone. Mr. Fantastic has a wonderful mind, but bystanders all over can tell he's the type to forget to buy bread and milk. You're a wife and mother and a senior member of your team. And none of those things mean you're no longer a desirable woman. I know House of Land does the hard sell, but you've dealt with supervillains. How could you not see through the smoke screen? How could you not notice how impossible it is to wear a sturdy bra and underwear that doesn't ride up when wearing his designs? Can you even wear any underthings at all?

I'd like to recommend a couple designers for you, along with a couple of make-up and hair stylists. House of Land may seem like an all service enterprise but have you paid attention to the service?. A mature, super hero woman on the go picks a look that works for her, checks to see it has a few simple but elegant variations and moves on. Land's stylists seem to attack you at every opportunity, changing your hairstyle constantly within a single day. It doesn't really seem as if it's about you at all and more about their chance to use you as a doll to try out come-back styles that were best left in the 80's land of big hair, and stiff mousse. Your hair is in more need of a spa day than you are.

A simple hairstyle, something that doesn't threaten to have hair blow in your eyes at a critical moment would be best. Something that's also not teased big around your face. You're a lucky woman who can go with a sleek look - enjoy it. Sleek hair also looks good with a mature outfit, where extremely teased hair can seem a little pornographic even when it's not paired with a paint on by numbers uniform.

Drew Johnson Salons do marvelous things with hair, from intricate braiding to sleek, simple power cuts for women. They also get the concept of discretion when it comes to eye-make up. You won't leave their salon with your eyes looking cat-like, playboy ready and smokey. He also has a distinct line of formal wear that isn't afraid to admit that women such as yourself spend as much time in the gym as men. But he's better for those special occasions.

For every day wear, I'd suggest the Darwyn Cook or CSNY (Cameron Stewart NY) lines. Both men know how to be cutting edge and well tailored. You'll never look more city chic than in Stewart's comfortable and fashionable jumpsuits. If you give him a bolt of your trade mark fabric, I think he'd do wonders in a tailored special order.

We're all pulling for you Sue. You can make a fashion turn around and show yourself as the sensual, subtle, intelligent woman you are.

[Anyone with a line on small boutique wonderkin, or lines and designers that just haven't gotten enough press, feel free to write in and perhaps send a few examples or a portfolio. The more options we can give the marvelous men and women we'll be informing, the better. Fashion today is about options. And the best option is the one that leaves the casting couch behind.]


Boutique - An independent or lesser known comic where the characters are reasonably dressed for their jobs.

Designer - An artist. (or talented inker?)

Line - An artist's body of work and sense of drawing style

Hairstyle & Makeup - Artists who give (in particular) good and reasonable faces to the women (and men) in their books.

Salon - Similar to 'boutique'. The chance for an artist to take over for a character.

House of: A branded name artist ala Jim Lee, Greg Land, Frank Miller, Michael Turner, etc (also associated with the combination of a particular writer and or a particular imprint or comics company)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Dear Comic Book Guys - I Think We Have A Problem

I've been distracted of late, replying in my personal journal about issues of race and the fact that fans of color will not have white fans for breakfast, if they write fanfiction and get something wrong with a character of color. Maybe comic book fans of color do eat them some white meat, all raw and ripped to shreds. But fanfiction fans of color, or as my roommate has named us 'The FoCing Cabal' aren't bestial.

Moving from this back to a column idea that some folks have been pimping at me, I innocently start looking up various comic book artists, and googled phrases like 'realistic body shape in comic books'. Because I realized that I know a lot of DC artists, but not a whole lot of Marvel artists and I wanted to do something with an even playing feel.

Then I came across this in Comicbook Resources Forums

The Xenos

03-25-2005, 08:48 PM
For me the best looking and most realistic women[sic] in comics are by Greg Land. Yet Cho also draws some fine women and I love his art overall too. His dinosaurs, monkeys, and other creatures are also wonderfully illustrated. His women do often look at bit too much alike at times though. Part of this may be an obession with Linda Carter.

The best looking and most realistic women? Really? Based on what? The women in 'ButtSluts IV' ? The women in 'Bukkake & Bondage'?

Th recent WIZARD book about how to draw characters has had scans make it onto the internet. And it has drawn (puns are so cool) all sorts of furor. Dedicated Sidekick has a post up about how Poser6 thought he was crazy when he tried to mimic the poses generally done for women.

My first impulse in all this is to tell the artists to go rent some 70's porn. There'll be big women, little women, tall, short, big breasts, smaller breasts, small stomachs, a few flat stomachs, the really sexy little rounding that comes from a woman who's given birth; a cornucopia of shapes. If there's one thing the porn of the 70's had was silicone free, pubic hair wearing, flesh actually jiggling women.

How have we reached a place in society when Barbie doll looks are considered realistic by men? I know I've been paying attention to female self-esteem and teenage girl self-esteem. I know I've seen the various articles and reports about men who bodybuild too much because they have body dysmorphia. I know this unrealistic pinnacle on beauty on both sides is a false impression, put up on a pedestal by advertisers who want to convince the public that they're imperfect and flawed and this product will make it all better; eat this, wear that, smell like this, cover that, whiten this, darken that, exercise, jazzercise, weight train, rubber band train, highlight, lowlight, shave, wax, peel, microderm abrasions, anti-wrinkle, brush your teeth in an elevator, inject here, tan, don't tan, spray on tan, just one little tuck, cut, fold, clamp...

But didn't we used to be able to see the difference between plastic impossibility and real life good health? Didn't we? Has it all really been a steady slide down since the 80's? Has the illusion become the norm?; The only thing reflected in art and the mirrors we look at and the eyes we look out of when we view and judge other people?

Is the epitome of beauty, long straight hair, a thin roman nose, high cheekbones and light eyes with long dark eyelashes and a sleepy sultry look like there's always time for bedplay? Is this what the word woman conjures up now? Is the epitome of handsome, 2% body fat, tight corded muscle, and boyishness?

Has this all become standard because only one side is fighting against it? Women? And the men see it, and are unhappy and maybe angry that the wife or girlfriend or daughter they think is beautiful isn't according to popular culture but they don't say anything because.... Because of what? Why don't they say anything? Why do women only hear it when they start complaining, but not in a chant happening side by side when they go to confront some marketing campaign or beauty product?

And on a random but slightly related note - Is the quest for a woman with bigger breasts compensation for how small and thin they've become? Is the male hindbrain eagerly looking for a woman who looks like she could breast feed his seed, despite the fact that every other part of her body says 'I'm malnourished and will possibly die soon' ? Is it connected to the need to have something relatively soft against them when thin women have pelvic bones that can be felt grinding down through flesh in a painful manner?

In the next five years are women going to have to be going 'But baby, you don't need pec implants' ? / 'Your delts are fine the way they are, you don't need silicon in there!'

Realistic. It's like the word doesn't mean what it's supposed to mean anymore. And if it doesn't, then super-realistic, super-physique, super-heroic will just get more and more ridiculous, won't it? Skinnier and more scantily clad females. Bulging and more distorted and disfigured looking males.

That's a sad future. I don't want that future.

Although, it does give a clue as to why we see women's nipples but never the shape, size and length of any super-hero's package. Just what would a super-hero package look like? And how would you determine who was bigger? Does the Hulk beat Captain America ? Thor beats Spiderman? Or is Peter Parker hiding some unique aspect of radioactive spider bites? If Wolverine and Cyclops really pulled it out to measure - who would win? And if that was really a factor in comics, as things get more and more outrageous, how soon would it be before compared to all the muscles any hero had, they all ended up seeming - small?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why I'm Not Writing About Civil War

1) The Holocaust

2) Concentration Camps for: Gays, Gypsies, Poles

3) Japanese Camps in the US

4) The Shit List thrived arrests of members of the Black Panthers

5) Genosha

6) Wolverine's Adamantium Skeleton

7) The Mutant Registration Act

If the characters in Marvelverse haven't yet figured out that minority + list + numbers = great, stinking, suspicious, potentially explosive, pile of shit - that's their problem. I studied my history. If the smart ones can't tell the not so smart ones why it's a bad idea without making an 'event' out of it...

Yes, I know, writers and artists and high muckymucks thought this was a good idea. Well, sometimes people have brainfarts. You don't pay them for the chance to take a big whiff.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Head's Up

To any and all of you out there who've read this journal/blog and were impressed or thought I was insightful - I just want to let you know I'm gonna fall flat on my face maybe three or four times sometime soon. It's the law of averages. Don't be too disappointed. Also don't make too much fun. ;p

Fanboy to Fangirl: Beginnings of a Dialogue?

Highlander over at The Miserable Annals responded to my thoughts about the argument between male fans of comics and female fans. He's been given food for thought. I replied to him, twice, but his blog's moderated and I didn't save the first response. Not knowing when I'll see my responses (because RL happens) I'm also putting my second reply and the main thrust I remember of the first, here.


Firstly, he had this to say:

...These superheroines are supposed to be intelligent, they're supposed to be competent, they're supposed to be among the finest physical athletes and martial artists in the world. And they're dressed like THAT?

It seems more than a little ridiculous, I have to imagine. In fact, it may well seem so ridiculous as to be offensive....

And this:

The fact that these female characters behave like admirable, wonderful, fabulous people while dressed as porno starlets is, on a fundamental level, confusing and offensive to female comics readers. It causes them, to say the least, some emotional conflict.

And I told him he got it. With those statements acknowledging that there is a conflict, he got it. And I challenged him since he's about to become a father (to three girls), to look at the new Supergirl and imagine his youngest dressed up as Supergirl and defending it because Supergirl is a hero. 'And you like comics Dad'. Would he look at her and think he didn't want some grubby fanboy thinking that all there was to his beautiful, talented, brilliant daughter, was the skin she showed? (There was more - I believe I mentioned a male character in his entry being dressed like he should lick boots and like it - but I've forgotten the rest. When the comment shows I'll edit and add)

But there was another aspect of his entry. And it took me a while to figure out what bothered me about it and if I wanted to respond to it. I decided it's not a knee jerk reaction.

And it doesn't matter how nuanced their dialogue may be, or how many kids we see them pull out of how many burning buildings at great risk to their own life and limb, because no matter how courageous or competent or valorous or noble they are, the fact remains, they are dressed in costumes specifically designed to give any man seeing them a gigantic woody, and most women have nothing but (perhaps merited) contempt for any woman who specifically dresses simply to provoke that kind of reaction in men.

My response:
I can't speak for most women. But I think the 'contempt' you mentioned goes right back to my thoughts on 'the cat fight'. You seem to be speaking of the characters being torn down unconsciously because of the way they look. I'm speaking of a history of explotative physical appearance. It's not that she's trying to make men horny so she's a ho and we don't like her. I know many women who're all about sex worker rights and the fact that some women do feel empowered by being strippers or porn stars. Their rights should be respected. It's hypocritical to say a woman's body is her own when it comes to abortion but then say a woman who chooses to be a sex worker is automatically ignorant of the politics or has been culturally brainwashed about her sense of self worth and needs to be regulated into doing something better.

There is a matter of choice here that real women have and I know that I tend to hope they make that choice from an informed station. That they're not going along because this is how they've been told women are sexy. And mostly I hope that they're not making that choice because it's the best way to get money, despite how they feel about themselves, their bodies and the job, because they haven't had opportunities to train for anything else.

I've never seen in character/ in canon references to why the heroines dress the way they do. No, I saw one. In Supergirl where Stargirl commented on the bare midrift they both shared and wondered if Supergirl was going for 'distracting the enemy'. And then they went on to mention that it wasn't dangerous for Kara because as a Girl of Steel it'd take kryptonite to really hurt her.

But Huntress was shot. Baraba did lose use of her legs and Black Canary was once so badly beaten she lost her cry. How in the face of those circumstances can Helena and Dinah continue to wear flaunting clothing? What's going on in their heads?

You said that men just go 'The artist was smoking crack' when they see a hero wearing something that doesn't match up to his personality or his job. Fangirls do think the same thing. The problem is that the artists are always smoking crack.

If our (female) heroes are drawn like that it's because it's appealing to men, and no thought is given to whether these particular strong women would really expose themselves in that manner. That's doing them grave injustice as characters.

Your original post about Catfights mentioned that the female roles seem to be generally subordinate to the male roles. My complaint is that the female roles seem to be subboridnate to the artists. It doesn't matter if Barbara Gordon, who was shot and paralyzed, would arguably have something to say about the safety of her agents, especially if they were injured before. So it would be logical for her to insist and / or discuss with them, them wearing clothing that protects them. The artists want to see skin, so they show skin. Dinah and Helena and all the rest never got to make a choice.

And given the history of the world it just makes the analogy of 'Man = puppet master, Woman = puppets' all the more distressing in an industry that's allegedly saying 'But wait, is a bird? A plane? No it's Supergirl! She'll save the day!'

(And yup I did catch my typos in this repost)

ETA: I've realized one of my comments to Highlander, re: his daughters was kind of creepy. And as soon as blogger stops being broken, I'll appologise.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

One Fan's Problems With Recent DC Events

This blog isn't just about women in comics, it's about characters of color in comics too. I've just been too busy whacking off my inner femmnist (She's had a lot to say). But for now Read This: "Honey, the new canon is built on a steaming pile of racist, misogynist shite."

It's, to paraphrase my roommate's own link post, about how fan Te ran away to the whitest of white fandoms - Batmanverse, only to find see it recently invaded by the same "Spork in the Eye*" cliches as everywhere else.

*Spork-in-the-eye, trademarked to my roommate.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

If The Fanboys Think We're Jealous, How Do We Win?

In my entry "Beyond The Catfight Fantasy" I brought up my concern that fanboys (generic catch all term) may read feminist stances against over-sexualized female characters in comics, as a catfight. They might very well see our objections as us trying to bring down the 'prettier than us' fictional characters. of Maid of Might sums it up pretty well in her comment here, quote:

Because that would explain perfectly the average, unthinking fanboy response to complaints, which generally boils down to "But don't you want women to look good? Surely you don't want the women to look ugly?!"

The Pretties vs The Uglies. That primary school scandal raises it's ugly heads. Even if you weren't a part of it, even if weren't paying attention to which side you were on; the boys were paying attention. And they didn't just see it on the playground, it's everywhere. Women tearing down other women who're more successful than they are, or younger, or more beautiful. Sometimes those women don't even realize what they're doing when the claws come out.

But if it's made such a huge impression, if it's become coded behavior, how do we uncode it so that the fanboys running and working in the industry listen to our actual points and not just see the whole thing as noise. I don't agree with James Meeley's points about needing to have patience and not shouting. But I do wonder now if his response was what it was because he was also reading 'catfight' into what we feel is righteous anger at misrepresentation and exploitation.

So now what do we do? How do we win the pre-fight? How do we shift perception, if this is the perception, away from a sterotyped understanding and towards our real points? How do we set up dialogue? What language do we use?

The fanboys point out over and over again that male characters are over muscled, and unrealistic and they don't object. Is it machismo? And if so, do they think we're whining? Are they really saying they aren't inimidated by heroic figures so why are we? If their stance is - we're men, we know we're not heroes, we don't expect to see heroes just like us - is that why they can't understand that we do expect to see heroines who remind us of our mothers, sisters, teachers and other important female figures?

I don't think fanboys are that blind to inspiration. They like Batman's unwavering goals. They like Superman's epic heroism - as in his essential goodness. And those characteristics are displayed within figures who are larger than life, thus muscles and broad shoulders and tiny hips and intensely low body fat. But the men are still men. They're still men fanboys can relate to and understand and feel represented by. If they had superpowers and worked out that hard and had the time, money, energy - they too would do right for the world and try to juggle a private life or social life or any life at all. (Reverse that if they're a villian loving fanboy with private plans for world conquest)

I might not be able to think of a single individual in my life who I see in Mystique. But I do know I admire her survival instinct and her pure mettle. They're attributes I can recognize in myself and women I admire. I admire Helena's pluckiness and grit. She'll go to the dark place, she'll deal with the scum to protect the greater good. That's something I can admire. But Huntress stops being a woman I can recognize when, without super powers, she flaunts her body's weak and vulnerable spots even though she's been previously injured. That's not me if I had the super dedication and worked out hard and had the time, money and energy.

What language do I need to communicate that more clearly than I just did? I know I'm not in competition with a two dimensional representation of a heroic female. I know that it's a fantasy. But it's a fantasy set in a real world analog. Real world dangers apply. People can die or become critically injured. People can be tortured. Science has a level of similarity as well from medical to fissionable. Gravity apparently works the same if they're on planet earth. So what are the right words to use to show the difference in wanting that potential role model and icon to show due concern for her personal safety and self image without it seeming like I'm comparing myself to some norex wearing 'beauty queen' and wanting the bitch to go down?

Monday, September 18, 2006

On GenderSwitching

I've been thinking a lot about genderwitching. A comment here led me to a conversation elsewhere where the Harry Potter Universe characters were genderswitched. And following that conversation led me to create a discussion on a different community about what happens when all the players of that fandom, which we love but currently don't enjoy, are switched around.

The initial reactions were that people didn't think the books would have been published at all if it were a man who suddenly had the power to make people want him, even against their own will. And yes, this is an Anita Blake / LKH community I'm referring to. But then in Seeking Avalong, had had this thought in reference to cat fights: I don't even really think the fight was about Scott, even. From the telepathic confrontation, we got a good look at Emma's inner psyche, we got a good look into the Phoenix and what it is/represents, and we got a confused/uncertain Scott Summers finally standing up to his distant wife.

I've mentioned before that when I was younger I thought of Scott as 'the girl', that I'd found him boring. (Do note the past tense) If I switch genders now however:

"I don't even really think the fight was about Scarlett, even. From the telepathic confrontation , we got a good look at Emerson's inner psyche, we got a good look into the Phoenix and what it is/represents, and we got a confused/uncertain Scarlett Summers finally standing up to her distant husband."

Two psychics toying with a non psychic? Does it read that way now? Or does it read more of that Jack Grey was a distant, removed man and Scarlett went towards the warmth? But that points out more about Scott's situation that the point I'm currently worrying at so I'll leave that to a Scott essay #2.

I've seen people try to show the difference in uniforms with their own artwork examples ( for example); of the sexualized passive poses, the exposed skin, etc that happens with comic book heroines. Would a true gender switch of comics have to take that into consideration? Would we end up with some kind of amazonian woman's world were men felt marginalized and comic fan boys waved the issues in our faces saying it was fit more for a niche market of masochistic men with a jones for female domination that something for mass consumption?

I think I need to look at this in two ways. In the first I can simply turn gender around and then the powerful, non overtly sexualized characters would suddenly be women, and the passive, rape or sexual assault in their pasts, eye candy would suddenly all be men. Supergirl would become Superboy, in red-short shorts, and blue gloves, a cape-collar contraption, boots and nothing else. It'd be an outfit Clara Kent's father made for young Kryptonian Karl.

Wow, put that way I can't help but think Mark Kent is setting Karl up to know his place as eye-candy and meat in a world where women know the score and women are the heroes and it doesn't matter how much power Karl really has or could grow into. Being a hero in this world, vs being a heroine has a lot to do with appearance and Clara will help Karl settle in and introduce him to people, regular humans and heroes, who could help him understand Earth; as soon as Clara's finished sitting in a room with Brenda, observing how Karl stumbles around by himself trying to live up to a legacy.

But I need more than one example, right? So how about Wonder Woman as Wonder Man. He'd have the red star on a golden circlet. He'd have the cuffs and boots and blue star spangled short-shorts and a red shirt with gold armor. He'd want to help the Matriarchy, having come from an island where men could look after themselves and regularly walk around covered head to foot. He'd have a mission where he'd be trying to show this new world that all humans are equal and he'd end up having to continually prove himself and his views on balance to a group of....judgemental women?

Huh, there must be something wrong with how I'm turning the tables in this straight switch. Let me try one more time. Third time's the charm, right? Now, who to pick?

She-Hulk! With the Greg Horn covers. She-Hulk would just be Hulk. And the covers of his books would show him bending over the bathtub washing it, while dripping wet and in thin sports shorts, while looking over his shoulder and smiling to the camera? No wait. Hulk doesn't seem the best example. Let's not count Gene Walters Jameson.

Huntress (someone else come up with more Marvel characters). Huntress would be Hunter. He'd have been shot in the chest and stomach once in the past but still be wearing absolutely nothing protective on that area of his body. He'd have suffered from a brutal rape in his past, but feel empowered in his short-shorts, and gloves, and mask even though he rides a motorcycle and should probably be covered more in case of accident. He'd want very much to be part of Batwoman's team. But end up under Oracle instead and working with Black Canary, having fought for the right to weild his brand of justice. And he'd be known to need watching for uncharacteristic aggressiveness and be constantly be talked off of potentially killing criminals?

Ok, I give up. I can't do three in this category. Hunter just sounds like he needs serious therapy.

It looks like I can't manage a straight genderswitch properly. Maybe someone else will have a better go at it. But let me try the second way of dealing with things. If I switch around just the costumes, the artist styles, poses and the storylines given. Batman still lost his parents when he was eight. He still traveled the world to find the best ways of making himself capable of halting such crimes. And he still ended up taking the Bat as his emblem and hunting down criminals in the dark nights of Gotham. He'd still want to be a figure the public, especially its criminal element, is supposed to be scared of.

But would Batman suddenly look like a bondage sub boy? Shirtless, in tight shorts and a yellow belt and a hood and cape and our ability to tell when the weather's cold in Gotham by the peak or lack of peak in his nipples? If I add in the poses of arched back, hips thrust out, and one hand somewhere on the chest, does Batman suddenly look like he's for sale? Those powerful and iconic scenes of the cape billowing as he crouches on some gothic outcropping, peering out over his city would suddenly become Batman pressed up against a dirty building, cape falling silkily to his feet, his fingers looking like he's almost playing with his nipples in a kind of trance as he looks.... up into the sky somewhere while the city lights twinkle beneath him and his yellow utility belt hugs low on his hips, showing hipbone and making people wonder why he doesn't end up buck naked in the middle of a fight.

Ok, that's a wrong picture too. Let me try two other characters again, three tries for each point of view. Let's take Greg Land drawing.... Johnny Storm?

The Fantastic Four all wear full length jumpsuits, so there's no short-shorts for Johnny. But how tightly drawn would his suit be? Would we be able to count his abs and notice the weather situation in NYC as well due to his nipples? Would Johnny end up having scenes where fire licked along the length of his body, as he began to transform, with his hair alight and his eyes alight, and his body with a firey aura, while he arched in the throws of transformation, with one hand somewhere near his thighs and crotch and his body half twisted to show his ass in all round detail and the obvious cleft, given the skin tight blue uniform, and his mouth opened in the ecstasy of the transformation? Agony? His mouth just open and lips lush because he's alive?

Wait no. I must be reaching. I have to be reaching. I need another character. Logan. Our dear Wolverine. Forget any variation on the yellow suit. Let's just put Logan in tight fitting, well weathered jeans and a cowboy hat. That's pretty close to what he gets to wear nowadays anyway, right? So nothing much would change.

Except. How about that cigar? If posing, artists and storylines are to change, then suddenly Logan's fellatio-ing a cigar. And despite his origins, his story revolves around being back up for the heavy hitters. Sure there are interesting things to explore with him. But for the rule to stay true, that doesn't matter. What matters is that he has a couple moments of panel time and he's a shoulder for someone to lean on, an ear for someone to talk to....

Wait no. Even I can't do that to Logan. The fellatio-ing makes me want to stop reading my own damn artcle. And Logan's Bruce Wayne with claws to me. I've already gutted Batman in this. Let's move on. Alright? Alright.

Reboot for example three. Dick Grayson? Uhm no. He's got his own set of sexualized issues.

Captain America? Can anyone imagine Captain America holding a smaller shield, and wearing a full length body suit that for some reason has one bare arm and one bare leg? Would the Cap' look decisive at all? Like a leader? On the covers of his issues, or on crossovers, the shield would be leaning on him as he stood, hands unclenched, seen in profile so his package seems much bigger. Would we believe in the classic heroes following someone like that? Would we have ever gotten a storyline about his sidekick's return to life? Or would there be lots of guest stars in his comic, doing active things while he stood around looking patriotic and picture pretty?

On the plus side for those slashers among us, Captain America drawn by Greg Land, along side Bucky would be just rife with subtext, wouldn't it?

___ Epilogue___

I've decided that someone better at this than I might make a better point. I keep getting sidetracked trying to imagine the characters so different. I keep wondering about Power Man, and where the see through hole might go and how lost he would be and if it'd be possible to write that without emasculating him. Or wondering about Spiderman in Spider-shorts.

But given we've been hearing enough about him. I've had a thought on T'Challa.

T'Challa as a girl would be dressed in a black loincloth, flat soled shoes and let's say a t-shaped halter with mask. After her wedding to Storm, God of Weather, one of the most prominent mutants of all time, and now accepted by the deity that lends it's name to T'Challa, they'd go to Latveria on their honeymoon. Somehow in the middle of meeting the regent of the land, Lady Doom, Doom and T'Challa would get into a fight.

Storm, worried about his wife would interfere, only to have T'Challa ask her husband not to. She wants to handle this on her own. Just because they're married doesn't mean that Storm can just rush in and be over protective, even when things look dire. She's a hero too and leader of her people. T'Challa likes being able to stand on her own two feet even till the end.

T'Challa would defeat Doom and then on the trip to their next honeymoon stop, Storm would lean over to kiss his wife tenderly on the lips, only to see her still angry with him. A kiss can't solve everything. Storm had had no faith in her as a fighter. It can't happen again.

Storm retorts with a simple. "Hey, how do you know a kiss never solved everything. Have you tried kissing Doom?". There's laughter.

Why does it seem like in that scenario we, feminists and common sense, self accepting women, still can't win?
[ETA: Link to Remix17]

Beyond The Cat Fight Fantasy


So a group of conservatives are sexually harassing a young feminist blogger; making rude comments about her breasts and claiming she's some sort of kiss-ass, suck-up slut. All this based on a picture where she's standing next to Bill Clinton and has straight posture. The two main women involved are picking on and trying to pull down another woman and using sex to do it. They're encouraging men to make crude statements and to objectify this young lady; ; she's a whore, she's trading on her looks, no man'd ever be interested in her brains.

The hubbub got me thinking about the cat-fights in comics and whether or not they make sense. Not that cat-fights ever make any general sense. But are they internally consistent in a realistic way? Do do these heroic women ever turn to the man involved and go 'What are you doing'? No. A lot of the times they look at the other woman and go 'You Hussy!' and out come the claws. There's seldom a pause to think a deeper game might be playing.

Now, aside from the fact that men seem to like being fought over, what else does the cat-fight bring to the story? Really, what does it bring outside of wish fulfillment? Why should two powerful women fight over a man? Is he a pawn? Is he a prize?

  • Emma vs Jean over Scott; In Ring One.

  • Rogue vs A Cast of Women over Remy: In Ring Two

  • Talia and Selina Over Batman: In Ring Three

I'm sure there are people who can think of more. Or perhaps the reverse, for example, Reed Richards vs Namor over Sue Storm. Sue's an object there and the men are fighting like neanderthals determined to disseminate their seed. But that's not quite the point I'm making.

In an industry that's so heavily dominated by men, what does it say when they have strong female characters ripping apart friends or even respected enemies, not over principles, but over a man? What does it say when one woman is jealous of another's looks and not her physical prowness and ability to do the job? Why isn't there an acceptance of talent and capability? Why is another woman on the scene a threat instead of a professional challenge?

Do the males in the industry think that our objections, to what we see as the unnecessary oversexualization of these female characters, really stem from some sort of jealousy? Are they so used to the concept of the cat-fight and its fantasy basis they can't hear the true objections?

Because I for one don't want large breasts, mine are bigger than I'd like actually. And while I wouldn't mind a couple extra inches in height, I don't want my feet to get any bigger. I would however appreciate an ass. I don't have one. It's a mystery - a painful mystery. But I wouldn't want to have to arch my back and push that butt out in some weird exotic pose in order to keep it. And I wouldn't want to wear a bathing suit when I headed into battle (Thank God in Reg Rucka's run, WW actually changed to varied battle dress when confronting Foes).

What I want is a woman I can want to emulate; one who can kick butt, save lives, take names and smile because she's done a good job. Isn't that the same thing the men who read want to feel about the male characters they like? Why is that so hard to believe, accept and understand?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Seeking Avalon; Title Explanation

This whole recent mess with James Meeley and the surrounding back talk about feminism had me thinking about my journal title and the fact that I'm probably the only person who knows what I'm talking about when I say 'Seeking Avalon'.

I moved from comics to mythology and the first myths I hit were Arthurian Legend. I hit them hard. I hit them repeatedly. I went to sleep with them under my pillow. It was an instant-hard-all consuming first love.

As I got older, however, I saw that the more developed the plots got in the various re-tellings, the more sidelined or evil interpreted the female characters became. Maybe my introduction to the myths were through my mother's college lit books. It's possible. I had a very young mother and I was a voracious reader. But I can still remember this sinking feeling in my gut; this thing mixed with confusion and the beginnings of anger that suddenly the Ladies of the Lake (and other Ladies of Power) weren't as important in the new stories I was finding. That in fact it was all about Arthur to such a degree that female protagonists were mixed, blended, reformed, vilified and all manner of things. Morgause and Morgan Le Fay are the best examples of two characters who were blended together into one; one substituted for the other; and then that new creation was made into the one who bore the evil son.

When I dipped into comics occasionally, trying desperately to catch up with what had happened, I started seeing some of the same things; Jean Grey was Dark Phoenix; Mary Jane was the clueless, ever loving, but slightly air headed model girlfriend; Captain Marvel was a guy instead of a woman in Avengers; And I didn't recognize Storm.

I'm not saying that there should be a comic retelling of the chars, ala M.Z. Bradley's 'Mists of Avalon'. Though as an AU that would certainly be interesting, as would a gender switch of major characters in most of the comics I love to read. I just want to get back to Avalon where it was ok for those female characters to be dynamic and powerful, beautiful and wonderful all over again, without having to be killed off immediately or otherwise tweaked.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Novelization: Inheritance _ Devin Grayson

I returned "Inheritance' by Devin Grayson on Thursday. I'd borrowed it from the library after coming across a blog or two that discussed it. The snippets seemed interesting. I kept hearing about Devin's start in fanfiction and how far she'd come and how much this novel seemed to read like fanfiction with all of it's subtext-almost-text.

I couldn't finish reading the book. I enjoyed Gotham Knights. I enjoyed 'Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu'. I'm fairly certain that any hand Devin had in the graphic novels of No Man's Land I'm likely to enjoy. But the only people I could get into in 'Inheritance' were the original characters.

Ow. Just, OW!!

I'm not an Aquaman fan, I basically know him from the cartoons: Superman in the 90's and JL / JLU in the 00's. But the person in the book I was reading didn't seem like either of the Aquamen I knew. And Green Arrow! Maybe Kevin Smith spoiled me on who he was supposed to be and how I was supposed to see him.

But Ollie was... Ollie was empty headed, glib. He wasn't the man I'd seen in the arc where he comes back to life and deals with his mistakes and his anger and bitterness and owns his maturity. I could understand the way the book's Roy treated him. Because I'd have hated a mofo like Ollie too, if he was as he was presented in the book. It was more than carefree and footloose and I kept wondering how come Batman didn't snap his neck.

Dick was.... the gayest thing I've ever seen! It was like in that universe if you looked up the word 'Twink', there'd be a picture of Dick Grayson's ass, followed by a picture of his side profile. The whole eagerness to please older men/need for affection/open walking wound/open mouth.... Dick was like if Greg Land drew men the way he traces women. It was perverse and scary in ways that have a lot to do with the depths of my Batman love and likely not a whole lot to do with anything else.

The original characters on the other hand felt like people. And Harvey Bullock seemed real as well. Whereas Jim Gordan felt like a shadow of himself and a fearful shadow at that.

I'm currently having difficulties reading Dennis O'Neil's novelization of Knightfall. But the problem there has more to do with me finding inside of Bane's head to be extremely boring and monochromatic and the fact that I don't like someone else getting inside of Batman's head for me. I very much like bringing my 'own' Batman to a Batman novel. The dissonance between the two makes for difficult reading and as much as I'd like a novelization approach to the tale I might have to just hunt down the graphic novels and trades.

But Devin Grayson and Inheritance was something painful. And I'm keenly disappointed. Because I'd hoped people who talked about it were exaggerating and that there was built up and context to those snippets they showed. But there wasn't. It was one long love letter to Dick's neediness, Batman's cryptic nature, Ollie as 'The Blonde Bombshell in Green' and Arthur as some kind of Atlantean English Nobleman with thought patterns mere humans could never understand.

Painful and sad.

Thank You James Meeley

This summer I read and read various comics blogs. I was impressed with the women involved in comics blogging. I was inspired to start my own. The posts that most inspired me, however, I've just realized and discovered weren't talking about a generic misogynist or a generic male privilege jackass. They were all talking about James Meeley. All of them. Every single one.

Unknowingly I stumbled across these posts as I surfed and random clicked and blogroll clicked. I nodded along as I read or skimmed various points and rebuttals. But at the time I wasn't paying attention to particular names or even blog addresses. I was just enjoying the meta and commentary.

But as things have now blown up and reached Fandom_Wank, all the link backs to familiar articles make me laugh. Because "Thank you, James Meely", without you and the hubbub you caused and the eloquent and impassioned entries written about you, I wouldn't be part of the comics blogsphere at all.

Is this irony? Do I even care? Nope. Not one bit.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Well F*CK: Anita Blake Invades Marvel

Oh god Marvel. Oh god Marvel!

If anyone knows the name 'Anita Blake' it means they might have heard of the author, Laurell K Hamilton. LKH is in the unique position of having a large fan base, some of which loathes her most recent works; from book 11 or 12 onwards. The rest of her fan base is rabid and loyal and say things like how her works have become their marital aides; Anita Blake on the nightstand to make the hubby rev up.

There was supposed to have been a comic deal with independent Dabel. Issues 1 & 2 of the arc 'Guilty Pleasures' - the same as the first book - were supposed to be out. But then they couldn't be found by anyone. It turns out that Marvel bought out Dabel and Dabel's going to be their version of the Vertigo Imprint; sophisticated adult (mature) fare.

I loved the first ten or so Anita Blake novels. I am one of that apparent minority of fans who think the quality of writing has plummeted since then and there's been a serious lack of plot and mindless and quite awful sex (porn). I feel like this is yet another reason why I'm following DC characters.

There was an blog-article I wanted to link to that described a potential difference between Marvel and DC as 'What does it mean to live in a world of super humans' vs 'What is it like to be a superhero'. Anita stopped being a superhero for me a good couple of years ago. And I haven't even found it all that interesting to look at her world of super humans; because the protagonist seemed to always be looking at them on her back. Just like 'Civil War' I can't understand the impetus of this, other than to try to latch onto to another group of people with wallets. I'm possibly quite bitter to see this as yet another sign that Marvel's less discreet about showing 'it's all about the money'.

However, I'd much rather Marvel's character have potential crossovers with Anita that DC. There's no way I want that Mary Sue Ho anywhere near my Batman.

*goes in search of a 'Hell No' image to icon*

ETA: Hell No Icon

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Superman Returns

For a Batgirl, I have a lot of Supers on my mind recently. Today while doing nothing but staring into space, I forget for what reason, I found myself in the midst of a fantasy. In it, I was one of any number of people rushing to the.. oh wait a minute. Spoilers for the movie.

So I was one of any number of people rushing to the hospital after Superman falls. And I was taking my personal SAD lamp. SAD as in Seasonal Affective Disorder which can be helped with a special UV spectrum lamp. So there I was offering my lamp, not knowing if the hospital had enough, thinking they might only have one. And one would never be enough to help Superman.

And in the middle of the fantasy I realized that in the movie they never thought of that. Sure they took the kryptonite out. But even knowing it was the Man of Steel, they still tried to use needles on him. And then realized they were helpless to do anything but put him quietly in a room. Luckily the room seemed to be south facing and he got sunlight through the blinds for a full day - during which Lois showed up with her wee bit of a son.

I know I'm a Batman fangirl. I know my favourite part of Superman Returns was the bit on the news where I got to hear that he'd also briefly visited Gotham.

So I didn't pay attention to Lois fainting, other than having a glim memory of Lois fainting in the original movie. A thought which was confirmed a few weeks later when I caught the first movie on cable. I didn't wonder at James Marsden having to play 'straight guy the girl doesn't really love and sure as hell doesn't deserve'. I was just wondering who the hell Richard White was in comics canon. I still haven't taken the time to find out if he's solely a movieverse character or not.

My last major thoughts about the movie, prior to this spell of daydreaming, was me thinking that perhaps Lois had crippled her son on purpose so she wouldn't have to remember who his father was. I never thought he wasn't Superman's son. And I was told that I had a suspicious and perhaps a touch villainous mind for thinking that Lois would convince her son he had asthma and pump him full of drugs to prevent him from being different.

Now as I think about my daydream, wherein everyone knows that kryptonite kills Superman, but no one thought of or seems to know that sunlight would help him. I wonder just what the movie was trying to say, other than 'Here's Superman'; like something from the Johnny Carson show.

I'm open to people telling me. I went, I watched but I didn't really absorb anything. I mean if you ask me about Batman Begins, I can talk your ear off for at least two hours, mixing in comics canon, and Else verses' and what happened in the movie and how they played to what strengths and what psychological needs and... I can go on.

But Superman was just a movie. I'm not sure if this is just because I'm not a particular Superman fan or if it's that Christopher Reeve is my Superman and so I just don't get excited when I see any other representation. Maybe I held myself back, wanting to give Routh a chance and I held back too far so now I don't have much of an opinion? I'm not sure.

I know I did miss Reeve's Clark Kent. I missed the sense of humor and good natured joy in his bumbling and niceness and clumsiness. I missed the wickedness in his eyes, a bit of mischief whenever he played Clark seconds after Superman had been spotted or talked to by the other major characters. I missed the glee. But I can't expect another actor to interpret the role in the same way. Is that lack of expectation holding me back?

I don't want to mourn 'Superman' forever. I mean, I don't want to look at the upcoming movies that are bound to happen and feel like it's something to watch, when I distinctly remember I used to get excited about Superman. Not as much as Batman, but excited.

Poking around I see comments on the new uniform and on how the new Lois Lane seems to lack bite. And I hesitate to agree or disagree. Margo Kidder was my childhood Lois Lane. I'm not sure I have an ultimate fantasy Lois Lane. There are bits and pieces of her in various representations. Though oddly enough the character and representation of Chloe Sullivan in Smallville comes closest.

I've just been hit with the strong feeling like I'm missing something; discussion, emotion, something when it comes to the new movie.

SuperRamble: Supergirl, Powergirl - A Story Redux.

Now that I've gotten the 'OMG the bare ass' out of the way, I want to see what I can write up about Superman/Batman:Supergirl and Supergirl Vol 1. But I highly doubt it'll make much sense. There's too much stewing.

I like outsider stories. I like stories where people try to figure out how to fit in, why to fit in and what makes them who they are. I like the base thread of Supergirl (the new Kara from Krypton)'s story so far. But I only like the base thread. It took me a while to figure this out, since I was beginning to wonder what exactly I was feeling. I had a lot of excitement and enjoyment and odd offkey disappointment and agitation. I had to sleep on it for a while. And I realized I like outsider stories, so Supergirl's current story appeals to me right off the bat.

However, Supergirl's story, excluding the bit about her being evil and sent to kill Kal-el as a baby, reads a lot like the troubles and turmoils of Powergirl. And I fell in love with Powergirl way back when, because she was an ultimate outsider. She was the Kryptonian with knowledge of Krypton, the one with answers to questions about the culture and society. She was the one who could look at humanity and just plain not understand them. Which is why I've been so disappointed at realizing the story arc where she was seeing things and losing her powers and having conflict went right back to the status quo.

Yes, I wanted some interesting history for her. But moreso I wanted an explanation. I wanted someone to skillfully weave everything that had happened in her life and give it purpose. Was Powergirl out of time? Out of phase? Why had she been so badly used and abused throughout the years?

I didn't get an answer to that. And then on top of it, I get Supergirl playing out Karen's story. Supergirl's the confused one, the alone one, the one seeking out Kon to talk to him, and dealing with all these new feelings and sensations and curiosities and powers and enemies and hormones and boys and...

Powergirl is Supergirl too. And maybe it's my fantasy alone that Powergirl is Supergirl all grown up, come back to where she was originally meant to be in the timeline from the far future, with unstable whatevers that mess with her memory. Maybe it's wrong of me to think of Powergirl and Supergirl as being the same person, from different spots in the time stream and/or one shade over in realities.

But it's a lot harder not to think that, when Kara is walking in PG's footsteps. It's a lot harder not to do it when I end up thinking they're doing PG's story, only updated for the times.

"Am I Superman's Cousin? What does that mean? What does it mean to be a Kryptonian on Earth? Why did I have to live? Do I want to die? Will I ever fit in? Will I ever be what they expect me to be? Do they have the right to expect anything at all? Will I ever measure up to Kal's legacy? Should I? Could anyone? Who am I? What am I? Should I try to have a normal life? Can I? Is it possible without all the years put in to having a normal, human, childhood? What am I missing out on in the human world? Is it anything like what I'm missing out in from Krypton? What do I want? Can I want something for myself? What does being a hero mean? Should I be a hero? Why do I have to handle this all in public? What's my purpose? Why can't I live a normal life if I can manage to blend in and lie and be a human? Why does Kal live a human life? Does he feel anything? Does it feel weird to him? Does anyone understand how weird it feels to me? Should I remember being Kryptonian and of the House of El or should I try to forget? Am I following Kal's footsteps because he's currently the head of the House of El? Does that even matter anymore?.....'

So many questions. So many interesting questions and conflicts and desires and emotions. But I associate them all with Powergirl. And I keep wanting to see them interacting, so I can maybe observe the differences. Except that there's this stupid premise that they can't be too close together physically because they cause each other's powers to act up.

So Kara's alone when she doesn't have to be. She's alone when it makes her story mimic Karen's that much more. She's alone and a teenager and angsty and trying to figure it all out. But the writers so far don't seem to be looking at it from a teenager's pov.

Kara isn't watching teens on the street, or looking at MTV, or flipping through the channels or reading books about teenagers. But she is spending time with the Outsiders and crushing on Nightwing, and wondering why everything gets tongue tied around him. But it doesn't move from there, because there's a crisis and off she runs.

Kara isn't exploring what having powers and doing heroic things means to her. She's aping Kal-El and wearing his symbol and his costume. And in that she seems somewhat less that PowerGirl. Though understandably she's much younger and as a teenager she's going to be easily swayed.

And yet...

It's like they're missing all the edges of the outsider story. They have the frame up, a rough sketch. But the things that give it dimension are missing.

There's more to trying to figure out who you are, in a world where people die, and relatives lose their powers and enemies haunt you just because you're part of the House of El; than exploring smoking, costume changes and man on the street interaction.

There was this beautiful hint at all the anger she feels in her interaction with Cassie. Kara has grief and rage. She's lost the world she knows, moreso than Kal-El can ever imagine. In fact, she has more in common with Batman, in having had her world shatter and break.

As much as I love Batman, he's not the best person to help her deal with that. But I know he'd take her to the person who is, Jonn Jonzz.

I've heard much of Kyle of Green Lantern Fame, and the trip he took where he met up with lots of Superheroes and slowly realized that what he had inside him was a hero's heart. Why can't Supergirl have something similar? Why can't Jonn teach her about celebrating old rituals and customs in private and dealing with the huge weight of loss that will never really go away? Why can't WonderWoman teach her about female empowerment and humanity's history and self-respect? What would be wrong with a series where a strong telepath like Jonn realized the pain she was in and sent her down the right path?

I found something very wrong with Superman calling an assembly of heroes to welcome Kara when she hadn't proven herself yet. I know she didn't join a particular group. But she hasn't had any training. Is it my Batman love showing that I think like this? That I want to point out that when WonderWoman lost her sight, Batman went for her tooth and nail to ensure she could still take care of herself. But he and Superman leave an untrained girl to discover for herself how to do things? Since when do they do that?

The book kept mentioning Clark wanting Lois to meet Kara. Has that happened yet and I missed it? Cause if not, why can't it happen? What's wrong with Lois and or Martha helping Kara see the point of view of human females? Why isn't there a chance for her to see there are things she might want to experience as just a girl without costumes and responsibilities being right there front and center.

I guess I want to see something more. So far I haven't even figured out why Kara wears the S, other than mimicking Kal-El and so once again I find myself thinking of Powergirl's independence in not wearing a symbol. Though I personally wouldn't fret if I saw her belt-buckle had the S. Or that she suddenly sported a ring that held the emblem. Because it means 'House of El' to me as much as it means 'SUPERsomeone' and Karen's worthy of her house.

Is it possible the writers of Supergirl don't understand the 'Outsider' story? That they don't remember being awkward teenagers and don't have the imaginations to pretend to be an alien girl who doesn't even understand why what she wears and how she looks should be more important than what she does? Or perhaps hasn't even had that thought or philosophy enter her head yet?

They've showed that she wants someone her own age to talk to but they haven't given her that someone. Why?

Why does the whole run that I've managed to read, leave me with more questions than satisfaction?

It's All Been Said Before / Same Old, Same Old

There's something to be said for reading a thing yourself versus reading other people's essays and only seeing a couple of scans of a particular comic or comic arc. This past weekend, while having phoneline and connection problems I went out to the bookstore and the library and I had a chance to read Superman/Batman: Supergirl and I believe Volume of Supergirl.

And I have so many thoughts, about Kara and Karen and how I feel like Powergirl's story is being appropriated; about the mess of Kara Zor-El assasin, and Kara's pain and alienation and feelings of isolation and where she might go next. But the first thing I need to talk about is the cheesecake factor.

I actually need to talk about it. It's almost a physical need. I'm so incredulous at what I saw. It only got worse when I got home and a day or so later I got Greg Rucka's WonderWoman graphic novels. Because there was Diana, powerful, sleek, muscled, athletic and beautiful. She was a wonder woman; noble, self sacrificing, loving, stern, determined. And then there was WonderWoman as I'd seen her drawn in Superman/Batman: Supergirl. And that WW looked like Brigitte Nielsen in Red Sonja. I love that movie almost as much as I love LadyHawke, but at no time did I ever delude myself into thinking that there wasn't significant set up for T&A and that a lot of the scenes played on the fact that the woman in charge didn't look as if she could handle herself. To me WonderWoman should always look like she can handle herself. She's the Queen of the Amazons.

I got back into comics almost without realizing, about a year to 18 months ago, possible a bit longer than that. But I had started by catching up. This is the first time I've looked long and hard at what's current (relatively speaking). And I don't know what to think. I was inspired by the comic blogs of so many eloquent women online. But I don't think I'd ever really seen what inspired them to speak. And now I have. Now it's hit me personally and viserally. And if it seems like I'm about to start harping on 'the clothes' like any other 'comic book femminist'; If it is easy to ignore my points because I'm just another girl talking about T&A and how much she doesn't like it; I suggest you move on, because you'll likely never see my point of view. And I point you now to Dictionary.com so you can look up the words in the phrase; 'Consistent Internal Continuity'.

In Superman/Batman, Clark is being overprotective of Kara. There's something in him that sees in her a precious connection to the past and the future. She's like a daughter to him. She's an innocent. A child. All the power in the world wouldn't change the fact that she's a miracle to him. Those wonderfully corny lines when he thinks she's dead, wherein he talks about her smile, and laughter and her first dance and falling in love are all things a Father would wish for his little girl. Moreover, it shows how lonely Clark is; the unique lonliness of the ex-patriot or the exile. It shows beautifully that he longs to have someone else to check in with about human rituals and talk about how they came to mean anything to him or even if they really do mean anything to him at all. Does kissing really do anything, or is it because he's a male Kryptonian with different erogneous zones, or is he some how stranger and more alien than he thought; just for example.

Everything he wants to show her, and teach her and share with her, is akin to parent to child; this world is now your oyster, let me show you the wonders. They make it clear from the beginning before things even get to the point where she's in danger, that he sees 'A little, lost, Kryptonian girl'. That he doesn't in fact give her up and over to Martha to look after says a lot in how much he wants to be in her life and be there for her and share first hand with her. Perhaps he even regrets (in that way that guilt makes no sense) not being able to be there, right from the beginning, for Kon. And it also shows, I think, that as wonderful as he thinks his parents were, he doesn't think Martha will 'get' Kara, without years of human indoctrination happening first.

And yet, despite all this, it doesn't occur to Superman, the Father, to be overprotective of the gazes Kara might draw, when she's walking around like a hootchie-momma?! I'm supposed to believe he doesn't think about how she's blonde and young and you can see her underwear outside and over her jeans and if some jackass tries something, Kara's still too untested to check her strength and she might hurt a human?! Are you telling me that Clark is too stupid to live and that Batman really has reason to think this girl is bio-chemically engineered to mess with Clark's mind, because Clark didn't take one look at all that skin on the girl he thinks of as an innocent child and go 'Kara, I think you still have a problem with human clothes. Maybe I should pick out your outfits.'

Was the point maybe to show that she's not yet accustomed to Earth ways and Earth clothes? If so, wouldn't it have been more recognizable in point for her to have one black shoe and one red shoe? Wouldn't it have been easier to show her putting the bra on the outside of the clothes? And even then, Kara isn't five. You can let the five year old get away with wearing the Fairy Princess dress night and day for a week. Kara's a teenager who needs to start learning how to blend and fit in. Is the only way for that to happen, is to have her be, unconsciously, an over-sexualized teenager? Is the only way for Kara Zor-El to fit into Earth, and among Earth women, is for her to a Virgin/Whore?

The nakedness out of the capsule-ship is logically required in the story. It is connected to plot in that Kara had exposure to yellow sunlight during her trip and stasis so she arrived on Earth with powers. Showing her hip bones however, is not a plot point. And in fact, there is no way I can believe that Lois-Independent-Femminist-PutsClarkInHisPlace-Lane bought those clothes for her; a high cut leotard with low riding jeans; french cut thongs showing over her jeans!

I realize that a lot of young girls and women do wear thongs and you seen the line of the thong sticking up past their pants. But the women are grown and making their own choices about their appearance. And most of those girls, even if they do think they're making a femmnist stance or any stance at all about their bodies, have more life on Earth experience than Kara and practically are very likely sneaking those clothes out of the house, or don't have anyone at home to tell them better(different).

In a perfect society it'd be instantly recognized that an idiot who hit on a woman when it was unwanted was harrassing her. In a perfect society how a woman dresses wouldn't factor into whether or not a man thought he had the right to touch her without permission or force himself on her. DCverse is not a perfect society. In fact there's a long list of just how many DC heroines have been raped or sexually assualted. DCverse is ripe with powerplays of a sexual and violating nature.

Am I to believe that in a society like that, that Lois Lane would give an innocent and ignorant girl clothes that said 'Come and get it' when said girl hasn't got a clue what the clothes say? Because I don't believe it. And I also don't believe that Martha Kent, who thought about aerodyanmics when she made Clark's costume and being a practical farming woman would put a young girl who's going to be zipping through the air in a skirt. And not just a skirt, but a ruffle of a mini. Not a ruffle attached to a leotard for a bit of girly whimsy but a sash with delusions of grandeur matched with a cropped top. Martha Kent; who knows the kind of enemies her Clark has faced, who knows the kind of enemies her granson Kon has faced, puts one of her baby boy's relatives in that outfit?

No. I don't believe it.

What I do believe is that the artist and author wanted her in those clothes for their own reasons. That this was what they wanted to see. And maybe that explains why WonderWoman, Queen of the Amazons was wearing a star spangled thong. Because what every warrior woman needs in the heat of battle is a wedgie and to have her bare ass cheeks available for scoring.

And if this is what every warrior woman wants, it also explains why Artemis had a bodysuit on that had one leg clothed and one leg bare. Because Artimis as the premier fighter among the Amazons, under the Queen, is just the sort of hard core warrior that needs the rage that comes from having an unplanned wedgie caught up in the crack of her vagina and ass. And if this is what every warrior woman wants, then it explains why Darkseid, a being who has as his personal guard the Furies, would put Kara in long pants, but add 'fuck me now' platform heels like something out of 'When Porn Stars Attack!'. Because Darkseid would definitely want his honor guards pissed off and ready to lop heads and even if Kara can fly and as the girl of steel can't twist her ankle, the unecessary frustration of balancing on those heels, with easy access scarves on her arms so her enemies can pull her closer is just the thing to keep her anger on the surface and her darker nature out and free.

Are any of the men writing and drawing this shit fathers?! Are they uncles? Older cousins? Older brothers?!

There's a time and place for cheesecake. There's a time and place to say that this is a young, fresh, nubile, young woman with no body issues. The time and place, however, is not downtown Metropolis on a young, alien, superpowered, girl's very first shopping trip. The time and place is not on Apokolips in its fight or die atmosphere. The time and place is definitely not while fighting Lex Luthor in his green and purple exo-skeleton, and his various kryptonite jewels while a teeny ass skirt swishes, sways and reveals at every movement. Lex Luther isn't the villian to be stopped by a glimpse of underage poontang.

I've got nothing else to say except to wonder if the artists had never heard of skorts, or hadn't thought of Supergirl in spankypants like WonderWoman or if they really wanted that 'distract them with the bare midrift' look, tights, just like her cousin. These artists are artists, right? They've earned that title? They could flip through a couple of online sites for fashion houses and see design? Or a magazine? Or something, right?

Do they realize what they're saying when they draw/ describe women like this? I'm curious now. I think of 'Eyes of the Gorgan' and 'Land of the Dead' and I wonder. Aphrodite walks around in nothing but whisps of fog and ribbon, there's ample opportunity to be risque and yet the sight of her doesn't make me feel as if someone is trying to disempower me as a woman (or disempower my heroes).

Can someone point me to where Greg Rucka has disrespected women some how? Cause I'd rather find out now than later, after purchasing a very low, very accessible pedastal.

NEXT: (or eventually) Supergirl, Powergirl; A Story Redux.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Supe / Bat Pairing (Note to me)

Random brainstorm I want to keep a record of. Instead of Ms. Supergirl of the barely there skirt, and cigarette burning self, bad ass attitude - having a crush/teaming up with Dick/Nightwing; what would happen if she ended up hanging around Jason Todd?

They're both trying to fit in, and get out from under the expectations of a well known hero. They're both confused, messed up, angry, emotional people. They're both trying to find and figure themselves out. Jason's supposed to be getting over his madness and dealing with his impulses to be more violent and vengeful with criminals. But is Supergirl still having impulses of evil? Has she figures out how to deal with her darker aspects yet?

Am I the only one who thinks that'd make an interesting story? A random one off mini-series wherein they become aquainted, bitch, fret, fight, talk....

I can so clearly see Jason taking the meanest potshots on the barely there skirt, and crop top and asking if she wants to be the SuperHo.

I can see Supergirl calling him a monster at some point, and him morphing into that wtf tentacle creature, just for a second, and admitting he doesn't know what or who the hell he is anymore.

Would it be insider to have them wondering about what's real and what's not real? Would it have to be? Couldn't it just be human and young and confused to feel unreal or like the world was unreal because of everything that's happened? Because of expectations? Because of feeling left out, unloved, unavenged, abandoned.

She could explain why she felt so alone among the Amazons even though to all appearances it was the best place for her. He could explain why Batman sucks (from his pov) or maybe someone would actually go deeper with Jason and deal with him feeling replaceable and like some cog in the wheels within wheels the Bat spins.

And then from there, I don't know, a friendship wherein they branch off into their own books after? It's not unusual for a Supe and a Bat to be friends. There was Tim and Kon. There's Kal-el and Bruce. Why not, Kara and Jason?

Dick can get taken under Powergirl's wing and get given lots of books on coming out of the closet and being a modern gay figure and have deep talks about being taken seriously and trying to form identity when so much of you is tied up in another person; but at a far more adult level than Jason and Kara. J and K could be the teenagers trying to sort things out. And PeeG and Dick could be the adults who still haven't figured things out.

And now I wonder if I'll end up writing some hastilly scrabbled summary (it's been ages upon ages since I wrote fanfiction) because I'm interested in the story now. I'm interested in the layers

ETA: Even the 'incest' thing could be explored well between J and K, as part of the confusing emotions and perceptions of being a teenager and coming back from the dead/ being in stasis etc.

A Letter To Greg Land

Dear Greg Land,

I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I wish your mother showed up in your dreams and spit on you. And all your female relatives turned their backs on you. I wish you'd fall and trip on the sidewalk, and a little girl poured her ice cold soda on your crotch and said 'That's for us girls everywhere!'

It's bad that you trace. It's bad that pictures can be found that are exact copies of what you 'drew'. It's horrible that people keep talking about your so called fucking talent. When in actuality you'd be nothing without Justin Ponsor. It's Justin's color's that make your tracings come alive. He makes them pop. He makes them eye catching. He makes them dynamic because what he does is build depth into a coloring book. That's how empty your drawing is.

But no. On top of all that, your porn face, blow up doll, easy access holes, women never seem to shut their fucking mouths. They're open all the time just waiting for a hard, warm, cock shaft to fill in their empty, brainless cock sucking, cum wanting, dick needing mouths in order to fulfill their destiny as cumslut fantasy whores with superpowers and perky sperm soaked breasts.

Why do your male characters get to smirk, sneer, grin, smile with their mouths closed or when they do talk, do so with the barest breath space between top lip and bottom? But your female characters are always trying to double team the dongs with mouths open wider than if they were at the fucking dentist.

Open mouth for screaming.

Open mouth for sighing.

Open mouth for frustration.

Open mouth for sadness or shock.

Do the hordes of fanboys who flock to your defense have no idea the reason they're so tuned into you, and like you so much, is because you present some of the comic's world strongest women as nothing more than eager, wet, fuck holes, just waiting to be filled by a real man?

Jeeze you peanutbutter on a pogo cheese stick! You can't order a couple subscriptions to like Women's Fittness and Health? Hell even Cosmo has women looking as if they're intelligent to go along with their heaving, ripe tits. There are fashion magazines and erotica coffee table books that have nudes in interesting poses with intelligence in their eyes and closed mouths.

Anita Blake; Vampire Hunter is supposed to be a comic book sometime soon. I suggest you get your ass away from Marvel's actual interesting titles and go do that. Because you could be up to your neck in 'hot wet tightness, so wet, so hot, so tight, so fuckable' in no time at all. Unless of course the comics stick to the first ten books in that series and the strong female protagonist actually stays a strong female protagonist and not someone who's a slave to her sex drive.

The characters you are tracing are women, Greg. Women. Women as in, your sister, your mother, your little cousin. Women in control. Now it's quite possible that other than your mother, your sister and your little cousin you've never interacted face to face, within six inches of a real woman, but they do exist. I'd suggest you start watching tv shows like 'Sex and the City'. Because for all the whining and Jimmy Choo lusting; those are women. I'd also suggest 'The Closer' on TNT. 'Bones' and DVD's of 'La Femme Nikitta'. If you pay careful attention you'll see that these leading women think before they act and when they do act, their mouths are not perpetually open.

I'd also suggest you talk to Jenna Jameson and see if Asia Carrerra is still keeping up her porn website. Asia has been retired for a few years, but she had lovely interactions with her fans and she's a bonified and proud geek. I'm sure she could find the time to explain to you that not even porn stars keep their mouths open all the time. No, Greg, they're not wired open with dental implants and flushed with constant injections of silicon into their lips. They're women with backpain, and gas, and bad days, and stress, and breakouts, and cravings for fried chicken or pizza or chili-dogs, who want to spend time on the internet surfing, who read comics and do cross word puzzles and live in ratty jeans and old flannel in the comfort of their own homes.

Oh, did I burst your bubble? Deal. It's called being a man. Now gather those peanuts you call balls and try drawing or tracing an actual woman for once.

No Love,

[[ This post inspired by the pictures posted and the cluelessness of the defenders in this interaction. I found myself wondering if these guys couldn't see the sexual harassment because Sue's goddamn mouth was open like a porn star just asking for it. And given that men are visual, I suddenly wondered if her open mouth was skewing their perception of the set up going on; if subconsciously they thought, but this is the 'Rebellious Land Bitches & The Ocean King 4: Hot Wet Touches' ]]

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Whee, New Universe Reboot!

Some wonderful anonymous person replied to my first budding comic bloggy question of last year. The character who did the black spotted duplicates, in actuality negative astral versions of himself is: Randy O'Brien, nicknamed Antibody. He was a character who was part of Marvel's 'New Universe'. Given the premise, which was of a more regular world, where a phenomenon, akin to what happened in today's modern 'What if' story, 'The 4400'. There is, The White Event. It gives some individuals paranomal powers and abilities. But Randy is one of a set of people who check themselves into a Clinic that's supposed to be looking out for these new Paranomals to help them learn how to control and deal with their abilities. Instead due to his astral projection, he learns it's a front where the patients are going to be used as part of an army. So he and and a group of others, essentially his group therapy members, escape. And the series is about what happens to them in real time over a year (the series lasted 3 yrs) as they try to figure out what to do and where to go from where they are. They were DP7; Displaced Paranomals Group 7.

Apparently Warren Ellis (and I could really come to love the man, so far he seems responsible for cradling several characters I remember from childhood. Not to mention he made Batman and Superman have a one true love in a version universe; Apollo and The Midnighter. How can I not strongly like the guy?) is responsible for the relaunch of 'The New Universe' as NewUniversal, starting December 30th of this year. He wants to do it as an all involved story; all the characters will relate in someway to one long plot.

I'm excited enough that I sit here and consider going against my impulse against impatience and waiting for the trade. I'm considering buying the damn serial. Though I honestly have no idea how I'd be responsible for a comic collection, between the chaos that is my current rental and my hope to move. I'm having images of keeping them in ziplock bags in styrofoam coolers. Anyone have any links on 'How to take care of your comic collection?'

Because I am so excited. I'm a faithful watcher of 'The 4400' and hope to own S1-3 at some point. And here is something I remember from my youth that's quite similar to that, that will have characters I remember - eventually. So far Ellis has mentioned other characters and character groups from the universe. But I have hope to see incarnations if not reinventions of my favourites. Hey, it worked for BattleStar Galatica.

At some point I could probably talk about my Uncles, and how their tastes affected what I first read. Because I didn't quite know where comics came from, other than the box under their beds and presumably a bookstore somewhere. And when I did ask, as I've said before, I got Dazzler, Katy Keene and Cloak and Dagger. I didn't like the ones without the D. But, there's nothing more to do than say the occasional 'thank you' when I realize where my original loves came from.

But New Universe, possibilities. And the artwork in the previews at marvel.com is wonderful. The colorist makes me think - Justin Ponsar does landscapes. Though I might be thinking Ponsar because the artwork is very realistic and the lines are very clean ala Gred Land. But in this case there's character in the characters. I find myself thinking of Renaissance Italian Portraits. The florid colors on the skin (suggested by the art), the creases in the faces; the weight of life - for older characters; the awkward body positions that happen when something unbeliavable has occurred and people are going 'w. t. f.?!'; the flowing priviledge of the strength and energy youth. It's beautiful.

I'm going to be hunting down more information on Salvador Larocca, as I don't follow X-Men, Uncanny X-Men or X-treme X-Men. But now I'll give them a look to peruse the art. Warren Ellis and a good artist can't really do wrong, can they?

I've become burnt out on X-Men and 'Civil War' as I've said makes no bit of sense to me whatsoever. When I finally get around to talking about it, it'll be a streak of cursing. Maybe I'll even code those words all blue. But I could support Marvel in this along with 'Runaways'. Now all that needs to happen is that DC does something that makes me get as excited.


My new rule is if I find myself stating having more than three things to say about a comics character in IM, and it's in a ranty manner, I should rant on here. So now I will.

SUPERGIRL. Just saying the name makes me feel eleven years old and oh so excited. She was a girl! She was just like Superman! A girl could be just as strong as Superman and just as smart and just as able. My introduction to Supergirl via comics was rather brief and I admit, I fixated on the movie version for many, many years. But given that I was Batman's girl since the age of five or six, the fact that Supergirl made any impression on me whatsoever is a big thing, a very big thing. She was Wonder Woman, only young enough and confused enough about Earth, that a little kid like I was then could relate to her. I can remember thinking I'd never understand the grown up world, and bucking myself up with thoughts that Supergirl managed to figure out Earth, so I could too.

I wasn't fully satisfied with Supergirl again until The Adventures of Batman and Superman on the WB, where Kal-el found Kara and brought her back to Earth where she could live with the Kents as his cousin. I didn't like her superhero uniform, but I loved her. I loved her family issues, I loved her looking up to, feeling jealous of, feeling overshadowed by Superman. Even though Justice League lost me when it became the JLU, I did actually tune in when there was anything going on with Kara. Because it was going to be about Supergirl!

The Supergirl in the comics now has so much potential. She thinks of Batman and Superman both as her fathers. Supergirl has two dads! How's that for a new way of looking at the world, and Earth and human politics and prejudices etc. She's spent time with the Amazons, surrounded by indepenent strong women who make no appologies for being that way. She has three role models who keep telling her she can tell them anything, talk to them about anything. For me at least, that's total wish fulfillment. As a teenager I'd have given darn near anything to have even one person who wanted to be there for me like that.

Instead everything I read, and see discussed is about this girl who wears a Supergirl outfit, but who's someone totally different. She's trapped in her head with her issues. She's morose. She's potentially masochistic. She's emotional. She feels misunderstood. She's lost. She has no goals. She feels she has no purpose. She has no actual direction and no clue where to go for direction. She has impulses she doesn't understand. And she just happens to have Kryptonian physiology.

Who is this girl? Why does she seem so listless in all her poses? Why does she seem without focus on the covers? How could she have been among Amazons and not learned the basic body language of two feet solidly planted on the ground, spine straight, shoulders back? Why is her skirt so teeny? What true reason does she have to be so lost? How and why did she become a character that I want to avoid? A character who seems spoilt to me and unable to see her blessings? Where's her gratitude gone?

The Supergirl I remember was grateful to be alive. She was grateful for the chance to be a hero and do something with her life. She was grateful for family to feel jealous of in the first place. Where did the gratitude go? The more I write, the more I realize what bothers me is the utter lack of graciousness. There seem to be no wonders of the world, to this new Supergirl. I don't look at her and imagine seeing the world through new eyes. She's world weary and cynical when she should be young enough to bounce back. All my memories of her are about bouncing back. She felt and she felt deeply and she made it ok for girls to cry. If Superheros like her could cry, then I could cry and it didn't take away from my tomboyishness or my strengths or any of my accomplishments. Because crying wasn't weak, it was simply emotion. After Supergirl cried, she did something.

For all the story of Powergirl has become so convoluted and I feel a keen sense of disappointment in the prelude to crisis arc where nothing new came out of having her confront all the varied aspects of her past; Powergirl is more like the Kara I remember as a girl. She's determined, she's sassy, she's powerful, she's a role model.

The new Supergirl seems like an appendage. Since when was it ok for SUPERGIRL to be an appendage?! I don't know about her earliest incarnations, was she Superman's appendage then? Because I remember her as her own damn entity. Even when she was doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, or doing the right thing the wrong way, she was her own person.

Superman was an adult but Supergirl was somewhere in between. She could see adulthood but she was somehow innocent enough that I could put myself in her place far easier than I could with Superman. (And we can get into why I so strongly identify with Batman later). When playing with my cousins and they chose to be Superman and Spiderman and any number of male characters and then told me I couldn't play - I loved saying 'Sure I can. I'm Supergirl!' and whipping out my comic books. Boom. In your face. A real girl superhero!

Can little girls do that with the new Kara? Or do little girls not exist like that anymore? Is that what the new Supergirl comics are trying to say?

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Asterix & Memories


All it took was a google search 'Little warrior, french, comic, gaul, viking' and there it was. Sometimes you just don't think about how easy it really would be to find certain childhood loves. Superhero comics were either my first reading materials or so prominent in the top three that I can't remember any others. I know I must have read regular children's books. I remember Noddy and I remember Enid Blyton's Adventure Children's Series; The Famous Five,The Secret Seven.

But Asterix was something else all together. It was historical seeming superheroes; gaels and vikings and romans running around in bright colors having adventures being trumped or triumphing. Asterix the tiny, witty one and Obelix the large strong one, putting towns together, stealing food, fighting the enemy.

I loved them. Absolutely, positively loved them. Wikipedia can explain the series much better than I can. But I think after my current indulgence in Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman and Queen and Country series, I'll borrow a boatload of Asterix and settle down to laugh and until I almost pee myself.

Of course, there's always the possibility that I won't find it all as funny as I did as a child. And that's the problem with looking back and then going to find the thing you're reminiscing on so fondly. People are shorter than in memories, things don't smell as sweet, or taste as good, most of the time. And in terms of comics, DC and Marvel seem to have gone and lost their goddamn minds. I've got a list of possible essay topics and even if all I manage is two paragraphs I will have words to say about 'Civil War'.

But I hope Asterix isn't like that. I've charted how my love of comics led to a love of mythology and myths and legends. I wonder now and hope Asterix had a part to play in how easily I took to the thought of strange customs, stranger gods and very weird people with all sorts of quirks, in fiction and in real life. If you learn that everyone's different early on, and everyone's laughable does that make you more tolerant?

(( And is that what my parents wanted? Or where they just sharing literature. I can't remember or figure out who first gave the books to me to read, my mother or my father? My father was a science fiction fan. His favourite heros were 'The Phantom' and 'The Shadow' and he read Heinlin, Herbert and Asimov. My mother was a francophile. It's easy to say my father, because he's always encouraged my love of reading and my mother was far more concerned with making sure I got my school work done. My memories of my mother don't include her really reading anything. She drew, she danced, she was very active, but I don't remember her reading. Yet at the same time, she's the one who taught me to read. Huh... a puzzle within a memory, wrapped in an enigma, hidden inside the pages of a comic book. ))

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Scott Summers: Reading Between The Lines

I promised myself my first real 'post' / essay was going to be on Scott Summers. So the musings about colorists and what on earth is going on with Greg Land will just have to wait. Scottness! Scottness calls to me.

[Old Eyes vs New Eyes]

It's funny, I didn't used to like Scott when I first got into comics. As a little girl and then as a self absorbed teenager, Scott was just boring. He was internal. That is, he wasn't obvious and all he ever seemed to do was hang around going 'Jean. Jean! Jean? Jeeeeeeaaaan!' A lot of the time I just wanted him to shut the hell up and get to prissily ordering people about already.

Wolverine had claws and a past he wanted to know but didn't want to know. Remy had drama and trauma and a sexy accent. Beast was a wonderful intellectual, and a true friend to anyone willing to befriend him back. Storm (cue the aria) was absolutely kick ass; a personal comic book Mary fricking Poppins. At least to me.

In comics and cartoons it seemed like everyone quickly got who the other characters were, readers/watchers, artists (voice, pencil, cell, color). But Scott, was just always in the background, except when he wasn't. And when he wasn't, he was lying and cheating on one woman, to be with another woman; being the only thing to hold Jean to the physical plane as anchor or distraction depending on how dark she was at the moment; or he was leading the X-men into battle. He was the guy shouting orders.

Thinking of it right now, I almost feel like Scott was the girl. His life revolved around other people and his love relationship to them and when he wasn't in orbit, or being a romantic foil, or being angsty about it all, he was being nurturing via tough love and training. He was being parental via leadership and power utilization on the battle field. Maybe most girls in comics generally don't get the last part , the chance to be leader, but doesn't it seem when I describe him this way that he was made to fade into the background except when needed? That he was a walking plot point? That in fact people haven't known what to do with Scott when he's not in a love triangle? And that's a shame.

I discovered just how much of a shame, because I was lucky enough to find myself in the position of having to play him for an rpg. And being the intense, researching, method-player, geek I am (think method acting), I sat down and studied him.

I borrowed Scott centric book arcs in the trades. I poured the internet for scans. I looked up his history. I wrote down what I remembered from when I was younger. And when it was all done and I was writing up my personal character biography, I realized that looking at Scott through new eyes, adult eyes, revealed a whole new character to me. A character with depth and richness that I'd never really bothered to see before, because it wasn't right there on the surface. Because the writers hadn't been able to, or hadn't bothered or just plain didn't put it up front and in a spotlight. It was like a snow drop; those spring time flowers you're lucky to see if you push aside some of the overgrowth before summer's heavier heat causes them to wilt away and wait another year.

[Scott Summers Is Not A Bastard]

Scott is not a robot. He's not an automaton. He's not a stick in the ass, authority loving, fun sapping, kiss ass, vortex of soul sucking rule following; a tool of the overseer. He's not an old fashioned boyfriend and love interest. He's not a romantic foil. He's not wish fulfillment about the perfect man. And he's sure as hell is not a callous cheating manho! (Let's not even go there) He's not all this despite what the writers have done to him. Despite the saga that is Jean Grey, Phoenix. (And how I feel about her is a whole 'nother essay)

Scott is who he is due to his past, machinations by Sinister, his relationship with Charles Xaiver and in my perhaps unknowledgeable opinion, some really lazy writing. But even that writing and how his internal life is ignored doesn't detract from his potential. Potential, some of which Joss Whedon found in 'Astonishing X-Men'.

[The Beginning]

Scott starts his life out as an ordinary all American boy, with an all American life; with two parents and a younger brother. And then one day on what should have been a simple flight to visit his grandparents (you can chant 'A three hour tour' right about now), he finds his whole world turned upside down.

Imagine being a young boy, a pre-teen, the plane's on fire, your parents sacrifice themselves to keep you and your brother alive. They strap you two together, and put on you the only parachute and shove you out the door. You're falling, in shock, crying even though big boys are supposed to be brave, because your parents are dying right in front of you. And then something burns your cheek or your shoulder. Or your little brother screams, or your eyes realize that not all the fire is on the plane, which is quite possibly exploding in shards and fragments all around you. Your parachute is burning and suddenly you're staring at your own death; at your brother's death. It's all been wasted; this one chance to save you. You've been separated from final moments in your mother and father's arms, from a quick end, for no real reason and the ground is rushing up beneath you...

At that young an age the thought of unstrapping himself and hoping his brother somehow makes it without his weight doesn't occur to Scott. He's still at an age to be selfish in the face of death. And he's young enough to be stunned still and shocked stupid. None of this isn't something he's ever had to even remotely think about before. And then, suddenly, adrenaline rushing through his body, fight or flight or death, Scott's powers activate incredibly early for a mutant and his force beams slow their fall and churn the snow topped earth into something soft enough that impact won't kill him and his brother immediately.

As defining a moment for a traditional stoic, brooding, need to be in control character if ever there was one, in my opinion at least.

Imagine waking up after the world's gone dark to discover that you've been in a coma. The doctors and nurses tell you to be brave, to push through. They tell you you're young, you can adapt and overcome.They tell you it doesn't matter that you can't remember Mom and Dad and little brother; all of whom are lost now, dead or gone away. You're just so lucky to even be alive.

You're too young to understand magical thinking and blaming yourself and you're far too distracted with recovery; everything gets put on hold until you get better. But then one day you're well enough to leave the hospital, the only place you can remember ever knowing and you're put in an orphanage. You're an orphan.

Maybe times have changed enough to remove the stigma and weight of the word 'orphan'. But being 'alone' and without natural family has shaped Scott in so many ways that it's hard for me not to see him wearing it like a brand beneath his shirt; something he lives with always. To me it defines who he is, what he wants, what he needs and years for and what he fights for.

As a little boy in an orphanage Scott then goes on to try and be normal, to try and be what everyone expects him to be. He tries in fact to be charming enough that some wonderful family will come adopt him. But all his trying comes to nothing.

Why? Because the boogie-man in the basment is real for Scott. Even at that young age someone wants him to be a pawn; someone who was willing to set up shop in an orphanage, trick him into all sorts of experiments, and do their best to isolate Scott from the rest of the world. Essex aka Sinister is everywhere pushing his little mouse through the maze. He's Scott's fellow orphan. He's the doctor at the orphanage. He's the head of the orphanage. When a couple decides they want Scott for their own, Sinister has them killed. Scott never finds out why they didn't come back for him or fill out the paperwork. When a new administrator in the orphanage seems to warm up to Scott and become a likely friend, Essex brainwashes her.

Scott's entire time at the orphanage is under a cloud of not being good enough or welcome enough. People leave him. People are not to be trusted. People only ever want for themselves. There's something wrong with him. And on top of all that he's visibly different. He's marked. He doesn't remember things about his past. He has awful headaches and has to wear funny special glasses.

It's no wonder that Scott would withdraw into himself. That he hides his wounds and needs comes naturally and logically. Never let them see you sweat, is all about being prey in an enviromentment of predators. It's a high stress situation. But Scott doesn't break. He runs away from the orphanage instead. Unfortunately he runs head long into yet another predator. Jack O'Diamonds; a con man, extortionist, would be terrorist.

[Comic Code Says....]

Now this is when I personally think the Comics Code greyed and blurred an area that I believe can easily be read as 'The Days of Young Scott Summers, Poor Little Boy Whore'. But even without thinking about why a grown man would befriend a runaway teen boy before he knew about that boy's abilities. Scott's still a teenager being exploited by a not very good person. A person who thinks holding a nuclear power plant hostage is a good idea. It doesn't matter if Jack wants to use radiation to increase his powers, get money from the government or blow the area to kingdom come. It's a nuclear power plant and that's his plan.

But let's back up a bit to just after Scott runs away so it makes more sense to understand why Scott sticks with Jack O'Diamonds (Jack Winters) despite the exploitation and the beatings. And yes, there were beatings. But like I said, we're backing up.

Imagine being a young boy who's just run away from the only other place he's ever known. The first being a hospital. Out alone and very not street savvy but free. Imagine beginning to relax from the pressure of the environment of the orphanage only to get the stirrings of one of those horrible headaches. You take off your glasses, rub your temples and then.... shafts of force beam streak from your eyes and hit a crane.

Imagine watching it begin to fall onto unsuspecting pedestrians many stories below and your fright forcing up another beam, this one obliterating the piece of falling machinery. Imagine wondering how you did that. Wondering what you did. All the while a crowd of angry, frightened, confused adults start to converge on you and accuse you of trying to kill them all.

Scott's very first foray into the outside world and he's marked as a terrorist and has to run away from a mob. Yet another group of individuals thinking he's the problem. In reality they might fe failed adults, a mindless mob. But to a young boy running away from them, they're the villagers with pitchforks and he's Frankenstien's frustrated monster. It's yet another circumstance of being different.

But he doesn't get away clean. No, he gets caught by the police who treat him like a delinquent. What's the first thing that gets done with a punk who's known to have run away from an orphanage and who's a possible suspect against a group of angry tax, paying citizens? Someone takes the punk's sunglasses off. Cue Scott effectively blasting a hole through a police station! And of course running away again.

And where does he run? Right into the 'arms' of Jack O'Diamonds. Who, unlike Sinister, knows how to manipulate young boys. Jack's a physically abusive S.O.B. He knows how to make Scott feel as if there's a chance that Scott can do the right thing. That in fact Scott does occasionally do the right thing and is not a mistake or a freak and that Scott can be rewarded for it. But when it's not the right thing, Scott gets hit. A lot.

Now this was back in the days where a grown man beating on a teenage boy was ok in comics, even if just on this side of risky. But to me it's subtly coded for a whole lot more. If Scott had been a girl in that sort of situation, depending on Jack for food, shelter and protection they just couldn't have done it at all. A panel of Jack backhanding 'Scarlett' would read like a young female prostitute being disciplined by her pimp. And I don't think the comparison is unfair, because Scott is so dependent and so realistic about Jack's moods and abuses that he helps take part in a raid on a nuclear power plant. Remember, I mentioned Jack's 'genius' earlier? Nuclear Power Plant. Where thins go BOOM and glow.

Scott's forced to attack helpless people, certain that if he doesn't stun them with his blasts, Jack will shoot them or something worse. Scott's become a delinquent terrorist and Jack's minion. He may not be being pimped for his body, but he sure as heck is being used for Jack's pleasure.

[And then MosesXavier said onto the people...]

Today I'm talking about what Charles Xavier did to Scott Summers. Because being Xavier's pawn does play into how Scott grows up and what he becomes. But one of these days I'll talk about the pros and cons of starting up a private army to combat your boyfriend's private army while you both try to convince the rest of the human race that you're each individually sensible enough to make decisions for them. Because I think that will explain my views on Xaiver and how that shapes my views on Scott.

Like a bolt of lightening out of the blue, Charles shows up at the plant because he's been tracking Scott since the manifestation of his powers with the crane. (Apparently taking his own sweet time to so so). And he offers Scott sanctuary.

Charles offers Scott another way and says he'll take him away from people like Jack and that he won't have to be afraid anymore. He outlines his dream of mutant cooperation and a mutant strike force who'll do first response in emergencies. Peaceful co-existence, without having to take over nuclear power plants.

(I happen to believe Charles also says something along the lines of 'And I can make that pesky child fugitive thing disappear too'. Because how else can it be explained why Charles is able to swoop in and have Scott as his ward when there's an orphanage bulletin (missing child), likely a police bulletin (terrorist actions) and I'm sure some of those guards at the power plant would have remembered something before an Xavier class whammy.)

So Scott says yes to Xavier. Who wouldn't? Older man who wants to take over nuclear power plants and harm people vs older man who says he doesn't want to harm people. Also, in my personal opinion, older man who doesn't have to touch Scott in order to try to be close to him. Xavier can seem sincere by projecting it right into Scott's mind. Seeming kindness and familial intimacy without any physical affection to decipher. What young, on the run, mutant gene empowered boy wouldn't leap at the chance to leave the beatings (and possibly bad touch) behind him.

Imagine being a young boy, almost a man, with no hope for a future. You've been lied to and manipulated all your life. Sometimes you let it happen because you needed to survive. Sometimes you didn't even know it was happening until the end, or until you were told. People have betrayed you, misunderstood you, chased you, hit you, hurt you, been scared of you. And then here comes a man who's calm. Who doesn't seem to be hiding the violent rages and the demands and the want for instant obedience. Here's someone who isn't scared of you or shamed of you. And all they want is for you to help them realize something that sounds like a noble ideal. And if that ideal came true, maybe no other kid would have to go through what you went through. And even before that ideal goes through you can help other kids reach this man, find him, talk to him, be trained by him, feel calmed by him.

So there Scott is, in Xavier's hands. Xavier who can mold minds, erase memories, get people to do his will without even having to take a deep breath, far less break a sweat. (After all, Jack Winter just disappears, doesn't he. Poof, no more pesky abuser.) But Xavier doesn't even have to that with Scott, because Scott is eager to please. The mansion is large, the meals are good, Xavier's a cripple; and everything's dead below the waist as far as a teenage boy with a shady past is concerned.

Scott becomes a believer, hook line and sinker. David Caresh didn't need mental powers to convince people to be his followers in Waco and Xavier really didn't need to use his mental abilities to keep Scott at his side or send Scott out to hunt down other young mutants. Xavier wants a soldier, Scott becomes a soldier. Scott becomes the best soldier he can be. Here's his chance, underneath all the training to have that normal life; to be that normal boy. And if at the heart of it, he's still just a dream realized for some one else, at least Charles gives him time to try and be himself., whatever or whoever that might be.

[The Wicked Web]

There's a weird triangle that develops between Jean, Xavier and Scott; wherein Xavier doesn't seem to want Scott distracted. Scott wants to be with Jean. Jean just wants to be a normal girl. And Xavier has plans for Jean, plans that might well include himself.

But more important than Jean herself is what she represents. She's normalcy. She's a girl a guy could have. She's adulthood. She's Scott wanting something for himself even if he doesn't know how to go about it. And she's also someone who can slip past Scott's defensives; his front, his mental barriers; and see and speak to the real man beneath. She's a possible second person who won't be afraid. But most importantly she wouldn't / doesn't want anything from Scott, but Scott.

Scott's set apart from the small group Xavier collects. He came first. He's trained, first. He becomes team leader. He helped recruit the others. And he has absolutely no idea how to relate to people his own age, far less how to relate to people with similar struggles. (Scott wears a geeky bow-tie while Jean gets to wear minis, that says something right there)

Scott's not flirtatious or funny. He's not the brain. He's not the pretty girl. He's the boy who trains and trains so he won't disappoint Xavier, so he won't have to leave and so he never comes close to even accidentally harming anyone ever again. Scott retreats behind the facade of 'The Leader' or 'Xavier's pet' and everyone else carves out a niche for themselves in the group.

Imagine hearing these other teenagers talk about school and family and friends. Imagine that all you know is the pecking order of the orphanage, constant isolation, Jack Winter's fists and Xavier's cool praise. Imagine also knowing from the very start how destructive your power is; remembering the crane and the nuclear plant. The others can joke around. If they forget themselves the worst that might happen is something gets frozen, or broken, or levitates. Though Jean, if her power is close to Xavier's might understand. Jean's felt scared about what she might do and who she is. Imagine being drawn to that, and the fact that she's a pretty girl, and smart and she pays attention to you.

[The Hedge Is Made of Cardboard ]

The problem I think with all this is that after Scott's set up, to be the good guy, to be the leader and to be the one who thinks of others first, there are years and years and years where nothing much gets done with him. And by that I mean, 'And So Begins The Saga of Jean and Scott'. And it's Jean who gets all the character details, all the minutia.

That's what I mean about how growing up Scott was 'the girl' and 'the background character'. He was defined through Jean. He was defined through his love of Jean, him wanting Jean, him defying Xavier for Jean, him finally asking her to marry him, and then the whole horrid debacle that was Phoenix and Jean's death and Maddie Pryor and that marriage and the baby and Scott leaving Maddie to go back to Jean. And...

Heck, Maddie evolves. She becomes the Goblin Queen. She has motivations of love, jealousy, hate, wanting a family, wanting a normal life, wanting not to be a construct, wanting to feel real. Even her revenge stretches out beyond Scott to encompass all the X-men and to want to go against Sinister himself.

All the while there's not much delved into about Scott. What kind of man he is that he'd do the things he's done.. How does he feel about betrayal? The young boy I've charted from the death of his parents onwards would seem the type to want something solid. He would seem the type to always want to be dependable and to have someone to depend on. I would think he'd always wanted someone who could touch him without making it feel overt and forced and overwhelming. And that he's wanted someone to share things with, perhaps even the burden of leadership.

But not only did I grow up never seeing that happen between him and Jean, or him and Maddie. But I never saw long arcs of the type of quiet friendship he and Storm, for example, could have, based on their similar levels of control, leadership and emotional restraint.

When I first began to look at Scott differently, I realized that in all the throw away moments done while the writers were progressing some one else's story, were details about Scott Summers becoming a man. The foundation is there, the bricks are there and it would be so easy.

Imagine being a young man who's fallen in love, who's lost that love, tragically, horrifically and then finds her apparent twin right at the hardest point of his grief, when it's hit denial and seems stuck. Imagine being a young man without day to day interpersonal skills or any real introspection letting yourself fall and cling to this copy of the person you love; your first love returned to you. Imagine wanting her back so badly, and wanting a normal life so badly that you marry her, and have a child with her and quit the cause and the institution that have been your life since you were in your late teens. Now there's no way this love will be harmed. There will be no crazy attacks, no missions, no prejudice, just a nice normal family living nice normal days.

But then you find out that while you've been living this fantasy, your real love was alive and trapped somewhere and your team's been suffering. Imagine the dual guilt. Imagine returning to that team, to that 'love' and throwing yourself into everything to make up for the lapse you've had in being the good soldier. Imagine taking huge effort to drown out any thoughts or emotions in work and nothing but work, until your wife has to show up and remind you that life has consequences and that there are other people involved in your denial. And that no matter how much you wished people had talked you out of it, or that you'd listened to them, you have responsibilities now.

Did Scott feel resentful? Did he feel depressed? Was he confused and naturally torn between two women he loved? Or was he daily facing the fact that what he'd had with Madelyne was a pipe dream? And now the pipe was empty.

[My Boy]
There's a scene in Joss Wheadon's run of Astonishing X-men, where a Sentinel has crawled up the lawn to the Institute and Scott is pissed off to be facing one of these things again. He's pissed off that it's invading his home! He tells everyone to get behind him, whips off his visor and blasts the thing like half a mile (it looks like), through trees and making a great big furrow in the earth. The panel of the blast is one solid block of red. And then Wolverine says something along the lines of 'Just when I can't remember why that guy's team leader, he goes and does something like this'

That's Scott defending his home, defending his mission, dealing with his anger and frustration without the love triangle (Wolverine is strictly there as someone who respects Scott.) That's Scott the team leader, the heir apparent to the noble ideal. He's in charge, he's passionate he's real,. And it's made all the more beautiful for me, because the damn Sentinel is a distraction and the main plot is all about the Danger Room being sentient, so that Scott's being a leader in a normal (for the X-men) day. It's not an issue devoted to showing him as flawed and honorable and solidly fleshed out. It's two or three pages among twenty two that crystallizes everything about him. Where he's come from, what he's done, what he's learned and where he's going.

I read that and I thought 'Ahh, Scott. That's my boy.'

If Scott comes across as a bastard, it's because writers thought the easiest thing to do with him is make him one. If he comes across as cold, it's because they're juggling other characters and they need 'The Leader' to step in and say a few words before the adventure takes off again. It doesn't take much to round him out. And sometimes the writers do try and you have to look for it. It might have been in the art direction of him reaching out physically to someone. It might be in a panel where he holds someone's gaze.

But there's something there that's more than 'That Guy Wolverine Should So Totally Ass Kick For Jean'.

Recently, there was a Scott / Emma relationship. But now Emma's reportedly evil again and her getting close to Scott was part of a plot to undermine, corrupt and destroy. Scott was part of a larger plot about Mutant Hierarchy.

I'm guessing that when I find myself reading about that, I'll be looking for the little cues that let me know how Scott's feeling about someone having betrayed him yet again and whether or not even telepaths are off limits for those he dares let see more of him. I'll be looking and I hope Joss isn't the only writer who'll give me what I want.