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Dance of the Puppets

Like a bat on a hot tin roof since August 2005

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Challengers of the Bleeding Obvious

One thing you notice when reading a lot of Challengers of the Unknown at one time is a peculiar style to the covers. On almost every cover you get a speech balloon where one of the Challs feels the need to comment on whatever dramatic predicament they are in.

See if you can match up the covers with the comments.



























































































Friday, October 27, 2006

Secret Sex

Secret Six #5

Okay, it turns out I was mistaken. The scene at the end of Secret Six #4 was entirely consensual. But it was written to make the reader infer that it wasn't, so I'm not going to apologise for it. But then it also depends entirely on Knockout being either very ignorant, very stupid, or a bad liar.

It is claimed that Knockout has sex with Deadshot because she doesn't realise that sex is assumed to be exclusive when you are in a relationship with someone, because it wasn't that way back on Apokolips. I don't know how long Knockout is supposed to have been on Earth post-IC but she's been appearing in comics since 1994. She seems well acclimated to Earth culture but has somehow failed to notice the most overwhelmingly popular image of romantic relationships that pervades that culture.

But then in pre-IC comics Knockout is seen as something of a sexual predator, and even has a similar scene when Superboy catches her seducing Victor Volcanum.

So if Knockout is the same person she was pre-IC, then she's a big fat liar and sexually manipulative, or she is new retconned Knockout, so fresh off the Boom Tube from Apokolips that she hasn't spotted that people in stable relationships screwing around is the plot of half the dramas available in any medium. Possibly three quarters.

Which leads me to wonder what anti-heroes do in their spare time if they never crack open a novel, go to a movie, catch any daytime TV, or ever have a conversation that might include any references to relationships.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Beef or cheese?

Here's a late entry for Ragnall and Kalinara's Beef/Cheesecake Week I just ran across.

I'm not entirely sure which category it falls into.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lacking Authority

The Authority #1

What's this? Two reviews of new comics in one week? Surely not.

I haven't read any Authority in a long time. I loved the original Warren Ellis Authority, but by the time the second series started I could barely recognise the characters. When I saw Grant Morrison was having a bash, I thought I'd give it another try, but since they don't appear in the comic, it's hard to make a comparison.

I'm not sure what is so hard to understand, but I'll try to spell it out for any comic writers who are too clever for their own good: When I read issue #1 of Spider-Girl I expect to see Spider-Girl. When I read issue #1 of The Authority I expect to see The Authority. When I buy a superhero comic I expect to see a superhero doing superhero stuff. If I want a soap opera or a crime thriller I would not be reading a superhero comic*. I don't care if it's a big buildup to a story that is six issues long and will work great in the trade; if I buy a comic I expect more than a preview of the trade. And that goes x 10 for the first issue. Your first issue is your best chance to establish a readership. Producing a bad first issue is the fastest way to turn an ongoing into a miniseries. And having a first issue in which the title character(s) appear nowhere but the cover doesn't make for a spectacular start.

I'm sure a lot of people are going to say The Authority #1 is a great Grant Morrison comic, but personally I had been hoping for an Authority comic.

*Okay, you can do all kinds of genre stuff with superheroes in it. I just reckon that when there aren't any superheroes in it then it doesn't qualify as a superhero comic.

Showcase fails to present...

Showcase Presents has been going a while now, and I'm delighted to see that in January it moves up to giving us two chunky collections a month of silver age goodness. The schedule so far seems to bounce between the obvious DC standards - Superman, Batman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Justice League, Teen Titans, Aquaman, etc - and material so obscure you have to wonder what motivated them to dust it off and send it to the head of the queue - Haunted Tank, Unknown Soldier, House of Mystery, etc.

But even though I've been enjoying a lot of the stuff that's appeared in this line it feels like they are missing something somewhere. Perhaps it's just that from the lineup so far you might be forgiven for assuming that DC didn't publish any comics with female stars at all between 1950 and 1980.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Amazing?

Amazing Spider-Girl #1

Since fan pressure contributed to the survival of Spider-Girl and this new relaunch, it's not so unsurprising to see this comic open with some fan in-jokes and subtext. Amazing Spider-Girl is concrete proof that fan support makes a difference, and you don't have to look far in the online community to find the source for the opening scene which makes fun of the stereotype portrayl of comic superheroines.

But it couldn't possibly be anything to do with the ongoing feminist comics debate, could it? Because people keep trying to tell me how that has zero effect on the industry.

In fact the scene isn't nearly as funny as it could have been. The supposedly absurd version of Spider-Girl made up by Mayday's friends wouldn't stand out in an average Marvel comic, let alone be seen as extreme enough to be a joke. Her breasts are smaller than her head, her pose is stiff but not back-breaking, and she's not even wearing heels. The text defines her as "policewoman/supermodel Jennifer Justice". Now this may have been a poke at quantum physicist/supermodel Stormy Knight, but either way it falls flat because the non-parody version is funnier.

Costume-wise, the only difference is the smaller mask and long hair that makes her look a bit like Spider-Woman, but possibly the biggest reason it falls flat is that there's no image of the real Spider-Girl anywhere in the story to contrast it with. Maybe Tom De Falco just doesn't write humour very well.

Once we get into the story it moves along apace. I haven't read the previous 100 issues, so I was pleased to find that characters were introduced in a way that did not assume prior knowledge. I'm not sure how well it reads to someone who knows all the backstory, though. The story set up takes what is to be honest a fairly dull plot for a superhero story and makes it work by making the characters engaging so that you are interested in what is happening to them. Mayday gets to jump about a lot but still hasn't got into costume by the end of the issue.

Is there enough in this first issue to get new readers to come back for more? I'm not sure. If it was me I'd have gone for something a bit more flashy than a riff on The Maltese Falcon. Have they purposely gone for a non-superhero style to this story? Nobody uses super powers (apart from May doing an urban Tarzan), nobody wears a costume - and no, I don't count the guy in a suit and tie wearing a hobgoblin mask; that's only a costume in 1940's movie serial terms. Putting Spider-Girl on the cover is as misleading as any Emma Frost cheesecake art.

I kind of liked it, and I'll be back to see what happens next issue, but it's going to have to move up a gear or two to get me coming back for issue #3.

It's not plagarism, it's art

After poking fun at Greg Land so thoroughly I could hardly pass up the opportunity to comment on the god of swipemasters, Roy Lichtenstein. In fact the comparison is enough to make poor Greg cry (if he didn't have enough problems now he's not allowed to swipe from porn mags anymore). Lichtenstein not only sells individual swipes for upwards of a million dollars, but they are not even good copies.

In the Boston Globe article on the subject, the executive director of the Lichtenstein Foundation, Jack Cowart claims that Lichtenstein's works are not copies because they were "changed in scale, color, treatment, and in their implications". I had been planning to set up a Cafepress store selling swipes of Lichenstein's works with a little Photoshopping to fulfil these requirements but looking at the side by side comparisons of Lichenstein's versions and the originals, I noticed what bad copies they are and it put me off.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Rethinking "Rethinking Feminism"

Occaisonal Superheroine's article Rethinking Feminism in Comix has had me thinking a lot this week. It is thought provoking for all the wrong reasons and effectively demolished by Karen Healey in her response. In fact it's so bad that you tend to skim over a lot of the minor points because the major ones are so wrong-headed and stupid, but I feel like addressing them anyway.

Specifically, at one point in her argument she gives us what she calls her "Cassie Code"; a list of rules that could be imposed comics code style on all published comics. She's not seriously advocating this code of course, it's deliberately over the top and ludicrous in its demands to illustrate how stupid it would be to try and institute such a thing. Not that anyone has. But if the evil feministas tried to then wouldn't they look bad?

Anyway, here it is:

The Proposed Cassie Code
1. All women's breasts must be properly covered and realistically drawn and shall not exceed a C cup.
2. No thongs.
3. No high heels for superheroines.

See, when you look at it in detail you find that mixed in with the absurd crap there is the occasional bit of semi-sense that almost makes it look believable. Of course it would be absurd to limit the body shapes allowed to be portrayed - hell, this is just a gross exageration and inversion of the current situation where some have complained about the lack of range in body types currently seen in comics. We want greater diversity, not just a different set of limits.

As for the clothing, my personal opinion (and I am not suggesting it's anyone else's) is that female characters should be drawn in whatever costume the writers and artists wish, providing that clothing is treated realistically. Points 2 and 3 become irrelevent once half a dozen heroines have broken ankles and chafing.

4. All superheroines must die heroic deaths in battle in a manner deemed non-misogynistic by the Cassie Code Council.
5. Only two female characters are allowed to be killed from each comic company per year.
I don't see how killing off all superheroines would help the cause, however heroically they went... Oh wait, that's not what you meant, was it? Again, it's absurdity by isolation. There's no sense of equality, it's all "women must be treated in a special way", which is about as far from feminism as you can get.

6. No rape scenes.
7. Superheroines must not have rape or sexual abuse anywhere in their origin story.
I agree with 6. Not as the absolute presented here, of course, but I have been saying for months now that I would like to see a moratorium on sexual abuse used in comics in any form for a while as the current overuse has turned it into a nasty cliche. You can only repeat the same thing over and over so many times before it loses all meaning.

Superheroines having sexual abuse in their origin story? So how many male superheroes have sexual abuse in their origin story? How about we say no more abusive origins for females until the men have caught up? I could live with that.


8. Strong women cannot be depicted as villains.
This has to be one of the funniest. Most feminists I know would love to see more strong women as villains. There aren't nearly enough.

9. No women shall be depicted in chains, bound in rope, mentally enslaved by a devious psychic villain, suspended in a cage over a pit of steaming lava, or otherwise shown in any way that would make them seem vulnerable to men.
But that's no fun. Now I'd prefer it if when a heroine found herself in such a situation she were to get out of it herself, rather than being rescued by some guy. Especially if he then rushed after the villain to have a big fight, completely forgetting the heroine and leaving her to bleed to death on the floor. I'd also like to see equality with male characters. When was the last time Batman was tied up to a big penis substitute?

Rape of the Month - Tangential

Heroes is not a comic, it's a TV show. But it is a show about people with strange powers and has been deliberately associated with superhero comics. It also has a co-executive producer who is not only a popular comics writer but is associated with another TV show with superhero comic connections. He also wrote the third episode. The one in which one of the two super-powered female characters is sexually assaulted. The only reason she is not raped is because she suffers a fatal wound to the head during the struggle. The irony of being saved from rape by having her skull penetrated is not lost on me, but the grotesque things that happen to this girl are not negated because the physical scars heal up, however light her mutilation is treated.

And the only other female character with powers? She got her sexual abuse in the previous episode. You think they'd leave something for the rest of the series. Now they are either going to have to introduce more super powered women or start in on the non-super supporting cast females.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I ♥ Wonderella




Best Wonder Woman parody ever ever.

oh no, not again

You know what it's like when you see this same guy wherever you look? When you first saw him you thought he looked kind of interesting, but then you find that he is shallow and unoriginal, and it's only that he's hanging with the cool kids that makes him look good, but everyone seems to be taken in by his hackneyed stories.

So you just try and avoid him but he has his hooks into someone you like and you can't give up on her simply because she's fallen in with the wrong crowd, so you're patient and you stick by her until the guy gets bored and moves onto his next victim, and when you finally think you've seen the last of him and you can breathe easy, you're just relaxing watching some cool TV show and there he is again.

And it's like you can't switch on the TV anymore without him showing up to haunt you and dragging every show you like down into the suck and I'm beginning to think I need to get a restraining order on Jeph Loeb.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

No Nano

I wanted to do NaNoWriMo again this year but I don't think it's possible. I'm way busier than this time last year and it was hard enough then. I had this plan to do a big fantasy quest thing written like totally in, y'know, valleyspeak or whatever? But I guess it will have to wait until I have more free time.

But I would recommend it to anyone who has any desire to write. It's an incredible experience.

The wig room

Back in the early days when things weren't so frenetic, the Fantastic Four would have time to relax and unwind a bit between cosmic threats and internal strife in the superhero community. Mister Fantastic would tinker around with complicated machinery to refract tides, the Thing would read newspapers and smoke cigars while weightlifting double decker busses, Johnny would be throwing darts made of fire at a dartboard with a picture of Spider-Man on it, and Sue? Sue would be in the Wig Room.

Because a girl is a girl, even when she's a full-fledged partner of the Fantastic Four. And don't all girls while away the hours trying on different coloured wigs?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Buckets of Blüd

Infinite Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Blüdhaven

It's easy to spot examples of something when you are particularly sensitive to it, so I try not to overreact when I encounter what seems to be misogyny in comics without checking the context. Like Battle for Blüdhaven has a high bodycount, so it's inevitable that there will be female deaths as well as male deaths, so is it overreacting to see a big bias here?

I expect someone's annotated the whole thing on some corner of the web, but I can't be bothered to hunt it up. Lady Liberty is the only person to die in issue #1 depending on whether you count Silent Majority, who has multiple bodies. Is the Silent Majority who appears in #3 the same person or a different one? Unlike with Lady Liberty, it's impossible to tell.

The six Atomic Knights who appear at the end of #1 include one female member (as far as I can tell). She is the first to die. Only one other knight is defeated (I think). S.H.A.D.E. is introduced and of the eight members only two are female, including a new Lady Liberty. She will die later, in a way that echoes the death of the previous Phantom Lady in Infinite Crisis.

In issue #3 a bunch of Knights are blown up. One is saved for later torture. Guess what, it's the one female member of the group. The only other person tortured by the evil Face is Firebrand, who somehow escapes without a scratch. The female knight is battered and bleeding before the torturer starts on her. She is never seen again. In fact the Knights have a disturbing disregard for the lives of their comrades, but it is particularly noticeable here. Nobody is going to come rescue this damsel in distress.

It's true, male characters are killed. Major Force kills Major Victory on a whim. Many people of indeterminate sex are beaten up or exploded. But taken over all, given the starting ratio of males to females (about 6:1) it seems kind of odd that more women should be seen dying than men. I'm not even going to get into Black Baron's suicide love slaves.

Okay, on the odd occasion that Phantom Lady managed to get a line she did come across as the most sane person in the entire story, and I did enjoy the general chaotic lunacy, but Battle for Bludhaven has a real misogynistic streak, and underneath all the fireworks there is barely half a story.

How to draw comics the Greg Land way

Huntress

Oracle











She Hulk

Power Girl











Supergirl

Another brick

At Ragnell's suggestion I've been reading Battle for Bludhaven, which was not, as I expected, dull. I'm not sure I could exactly recommend it though, since it makes less sense than a barrel full of Morrisons. But one thing I noticed early on, before it went completely chaotic, is that the set up involves Chemo being dropped on Bludhaven, which makes the whole place toxic.

Can you guess what the government's response to this disaster is?

A) send in hazardous waste disposal teams to neutralize the toxic chemicals.

B) use the city as a military base to conduct highly illegal experiments on the surviving citizens.

C) Build a big wall around the city.

If you answered A) then you are obviously a Marvel fan, or you haven't been paying attention.

What is it with the US government in the DCU that their first response to a disaster is to wall the place off and hope it goes away? In No Man's Land Gotham was hit by an earthquake (and possibly an epidemic, I wasn't really following it) so the government had a big wall built around the city and shot anyone who tried to leave. In fact I think they declared it no longer part of the USA so they wouldn't have to go clean it up. In Green Arrow there was a bunch of explosions and possibly a riot so a large part of the city got walled off. And now this.

It just seems like an entirely unrealistic response to a disaster that makes no sense in real world terms and even less in one full of super powered people, and I am a little boggled that they keep doing it.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Putting thoughts in her head


Okay, it was a real temptation just to leave it at that.

I've seen this image knocking around the web but I have never read the comic (or comics - Greg Land isn't too proud to reuse an image he's photoshopped) it's from, so I have no idea of the context. And I was trying to work out what could possibly be going through the mind of Sue Richards to occasion such an expression.

Here's a few of my attempts to define her mood.








Try it yourself. It's fun.

Heroine addiction

Oh dear, I can feel it coming on again. My obsession for lame female characters has struck again, and in the most unexpected place.

I winced along with everyone else when the first promo pics appeared showing her broken-backed T&A stance. I laughed along at her shiny, shiny plastic skin. I didn't even bother reading Battle for Bludhaven, but I may have to now. I'm sure I can pick it out of a bargain bin at the next comic fair. It was only when I leafed through Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #2 that my interest was sparked.

Who am I talking about? Well the art in Uncle Sam may be a little heavily over-airbrushed with shadows, but there's only one female character in it, and she has a degree in quantum physics.

It's Stormy Knight, physicist and supermodel. And I'm aching to see her written in a way that would make me believe she really is the science nerd she claims to be. Even if it means designing gedanken in a thong.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Biting the hand

You'd think it was the absolute first lesson in marketing: be nice to your customer. And yet somehow this basic message seems to have escaped the comics industry (genre TV has the same issue), which often seems to go out of its way to insult its core audience.

They seem to have forgotten that comics are no longer picked up by casual readers and the main support of the industry are the hardcore fans. Oh, they might show up at conventions, set up message boards to communicate with the fans, and respond to their questions as though they really cared what we think, and they'd be delighted to flog us any kind of merchandise they can think of, but how are comics fans actually portrayed in the comics themselves?

At best they are the socially inept comic relief or the geeky tech who can fix the hero's computer. At worst they are the sad, annoying, obsessive losers who have no life and no girlfriend. Because they are almost always male, too.

Is this any way to treat the people who pay your bills?

Sure, there are extreme elements in fandom, the same as in any other social grouping, but somehow it's always these types that turn up in comics. Never the regular people with rounded lives for whom an interest in comics is one of a variety of activities. And conversely we rarely get to see people with any other kind of obsession (not counting the villains whose whole purpose for existance seems to be making trouble for the hero)

Don't you feel insulted?

They've worked it out in Japan. For years now they have presented images of the geek as hero, the nerd as object of desire. There's everything from Read or Die where women with great psychic power are also obsessive book collectors, Oh My Goddess where the socially inept guy is surrounded by beautiful goddesses, to the non-fantasy Genshiken, which follows the lives of a group of anime/manga fans. In each of these some fun is made of the obsessive fannish nature, but in a sympathetic, kindly way that is balanced by the depth of the characterisation. Plus of course these are the heroes of the stories, rather than the comedy sidekick.

Isn't it about time American publishers learned this lesson?

Rape of the month: September

You know, I thought we were actually going to get a month rape free for a moment, there. And then I read Secret Six #4.

Now I love Gail Simone's writing, and this storyline shows every sign of being well written, but it's still the same ghastly cliche that everyone else in comics feels the need to write ad nauseum as though they were the first to think of it.

And honestly, there are few enough women in the DC universe unmolested. Was it really necessary to reduce that figure by one more?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Twenty one years

DC comics dated March 1985 contained the following guest editorial Meanwhile column.


Dear Mr. Giordano, Here’s two attempts to get printed.
Look at it this way: it’s better than another one of my annoying letters to you. Anyway, I love to make speeches and I need the money. Okay, let’s go. (Sound of throat clearing)

Dear Whoever-Reads-These-Things, I’d like to speak to you about a subject that has been ignored for years, an American tragedy, a shameful blot on the comics industry. I’d like to discuss heroine abuse and neglect.

Women in comics are treated terribly by both DC and Marvel, mostly by Marvel, but Jim Shooter doesn’t do guest columns. They are downplayed, put-upon, wasted, ignored, and stereotyped into six categories. I like to call these categories the Six Do’s.

The first Do is Dependence. The heroine is somehow linked to a hero, either by costume (like Batgirl), by relation (like Huntress), by romance (like Black Canary), or by joining a teem (like Wonder Girl). Thus, the heroine has a bloody hard time standing alone and independent. Eventually, she becomes either a sidekick (“Green Arrow’s Girlfriend, The Black Canary”) or a bookend (Hawkman and Hawkwoznan).

The next Do is Deemphasis.
Everyone ignores the heroine and hopes she’ll go away. DC has an
enormous wealth of interesting, exciting, and enjoyable heroines, most of whom haven’t appeared in years. Demoralize often goes under the guise of “characterization.” The heroine is given a quirk in her personality or a mental aberration that cripples her. A good example is The Thorn’s split personality, which makes it impossible for her to fight in the daytime. The most common personality modes are The Bubblehead (”Oh, dear, this fight to the death with Vrot the Remarkably Unpleasant will simply ruin my manicure”), the Battlehappy Battler (“I will tear Vrot the Remarkably Unpleasant into little pieces”), and the Weak and Helpless Type (“I would fight Vrot the Remarkably Unpleasant, but I’m so afraid of snakes and I’m a pacifist anyway”).

Deglamorize is ridiculous but effective. The heroine is given an ugly costume, which effectively weakens her popularity without too badly weakening her ability in combat. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the beautiful weather-goddess who was phenomenally popular and was just about to branch out into solo guest-appearances and maybe even her own mini-series until the writer suddenly decided to have her go punk, complete with mohawk. This set her upon the road to ruin as she progressed to the next stage...

Depower! Of course, the aforementioned character was exposed to the fullest and most literal example of Depowering. She was stripped of her superhuman qualities and rendered utterly normal ... a fate worse than death. There is a more subtle form of Depowering, where the heroine’s talents are downplayed and presented as trivial. That way, she needs a hero around to keep her from getting killed. Thus, deadly destruct­bolts become stun-stings, extrasensory perception becomes “I sense en evil presence somewhere in this room,” and even telepathic mind-control becomes a parlor trick.

The most drastic step is Death. It means exactly what you think it means. The heroine is quickly and not-very-neatly disposed of. Ever since Phoenix left this mortal coil, hundreds of heroines are sacrificed daily in a vain attempt to produce a classic comparable to her story. The only one that even comes close is “The Judas Contract,” which featured the death of Terra—a death that, let’s face it, we knew was going to happen. Too many heroines have been sacrificed to the great volcano god Fan-Dom. It’s about time the writers found a new cliche to overuse.

Now, I’m not suggesting that the comics creators are engaging in a sinister conspiracy. It’s doubtful that Mr. Giordano has even realized the problem. But it is 8incerely wished that someone would realize what’s going on and take steps to correct the problem. Why is it that when a character must go insane, sacrifice her life to save humanity, or get blasted by the neural-vac power-remover, it’s always a woman?

I represent W.A.S.P., the Women Anti-Stereotyping Patrol. We have been attempting to correct this injustice (by the way, if any W.A.S.P.ers are reading this .. for Heaven’s sakes, write! I’m good, but I can’t do it all alone!), but we require some help. If a favorite heroine of yours has been suffering from one of the six symptoms, write to the comic of your choice (don’t bother Mr. Giordano . .. that’s my job) and complain, politely but firmly. If any submitters are reading this, consider revamping an old heroine or creating a new one as your project. It might be fun. I know I had fun when I did it (I didn’t have fun when DC rejected it, but that’s not important). And if any professional comics writers are reading this ... for gosh sakes, lay off the heroines, willya?

I thank you for your time. Now let’s see if I can get this thing printed.
Michael Pickens
Greentree Apartments
784 Blacksnake Rd.
D-4
Utica, OH 43080
I hope this doesn’t fall under “defamatory.” I tried to present the facts as I see them and to give DC a fair shake. If you do decide to print it, I believe you’ll have room for a rebuttal.
Now personally I disagree with his comments about ugly costumes (I liked Storm's punk look, and the ghastly costume designs of the Justice League of the late '80s were distributed equally between the sexes. More recent female costume designs may be problematic but looking ugly was never the intention), but a lot of the rest echoes what is being said right now.

So next time anyone tells you that they recognise the problem but things can't be changed overnight, feel free to point out that after twenty one years you are fed up of waiting.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Scott Kurtz brings new meaning to the phrase "gag strip"

I'm not sure what I find more disturbing, someone who considers it funny to do a comic strip about people vomiting on a dead dog (which was beaten to death in the previous strip) or the audience that laugh like drains at such antics.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Having it both ways

You may or may not be aware of the term Editorial Swimwear. This is where some time after the art for a comic is created someone decides that the cheesecake they ordered is a bit rich and they have some hack come in and scribble bikinis on women in the shower scenes, airbrush very opaque wisps of smoke over the wisps of smoke that were already present, or just generally scribble over the completed artwork until the only people it would offend were those who don't like seeing artwork disfigured.

The question I've always wanted to ask those responsible is why the hell they agreed to a scene that involved nudity if they were not prepared to have any in the comic? Rarely is a shower scene integral to the plot, so why not have it changed at the scripting stage? Or when the pencils are delivered, if the art has come out a little more racy than the script indicated? Why wait until the inks are completed and it's too late to have the original artist alter it tastefully?

Why? Because they want the cheesecake shots. They are happy to have scenes in which giant naked women are running around the landscape. Just so long as you can't see any of the nudity.

There's a similar thing happening with the extremes of violence lately. This took me by surprise after the excessive graphic violence on show in Infinite Crisis, but maybe the reaction to that was what caused the change in policy. So when Blockbuster rips the head off a heroine in 52, instead of graphic images of it bouncing away down the street the art is composed in such a way as to leave it unclear what has actually happened to her, and with no text to explain it, the only place you'll find mention of decapitation is on the official website.

There is evidence to speculate that this too was down to late editorial interference, though the extra shadowing applied to obscure what was going on is more subtlely applied. Unfortunately it leaves the sequence of pictures reading so ambiguously that without any text to explain it, you're not sure what's going on at all. When you know she's being decapitated it does read better, but dead is dead, so why have her head removed at all if you aren't going to show it or mention it in the story? I thought he'd broken her neck and the panel structure was just a bit clumsy and random until I read about it on the net.

It seems like they want it both ways. nude scenes that don't show any skin, and extreme violence without the gore.

Okay, I never liked the gore, but I'd rather have nastiness depicted as being nasty and with actual lasting consequences than have it sanitised away. How about just having less violence? Nudity I have no problem with, I just can't get my head around the whole "nudity good, nipples bad" thing anymore than I can make sense of putting flying characters in tiny skirts that barely cover their ass but absolutely never show a flash of panties. Make up your damn minds, you can't have it both ways. Either dress them more sensibly or accept that panties are part of the uniform and since everyone behind her when she's flying is going to get to see them, it's no big deal if the reader does too. She'll still be more modestly dressed than Emma Frost.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rape of the month: October

I didn't get around to doing a Rape of the month last month because, to be honest, I couldn't face looking at another issue of Walking Dead to see whether the serial rape of the previous two issues was going to continue into a third. Maybe someone can tell me how that worked out, but please without any detail. I just want to know whether I can consider September rape-free or not.

I had been looking forward to having a little graphic that went like "Months with no rapes in comics:" and then a number to show how well things were going. One week into October and already I find I won't be needing it this month after the publication of How To Make Money Like A Porn Star! written by Neil Strauss, with art by Bernard Chang. Kphoebe reviewed it, for which I am sincerely appreciative as it's saved me having to touch the ghastly thing with a ten foot pole.

On the other hand, maybe I should keep a stack of the things. Then I could send a copy out to any writer who thought they were being daring and edgy to have one of their characters sexually abused.

Maybe not. It's bad enough them doing it to show how socially aware they are. The last thing we need is more people writing rape for the comedy value.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

One of several things

Anyone who's followed my ramblings for any length of time will know I have a fondness for obscure DC heroines who didn't get the chance to fulfil their potential.

Today was a good day, and one of several things that made me happy was to see the latest issue of Action Comics cameo The Crimson Avenger. She appeared to have been caught by the Spectre during Day of Vengeance, and although we never saw her actually killed, being an obscure heroine is often enough to qualify you as cannonfodder to big up the villain for the big crossover.

I don't have any hopes of seeing the mini-series that so needs to be written, but I am content to know that she is still out there.

House of ummmm...

Does it make me a bad comic fan that I always get these two guys confused?