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Dance of the Puppets

Like a bat on a hot tin roof since August 2005

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Paris Hilton of the superhero set

No, not Supergirl. The other one; Stormy Knight AKA Phantom Lady. When I was first introduced to the current Phantom Lady I was intrigued to find that beyond the cliché hot bod, at age 22 she also had a degree in quantum physics. I've been waiting for the last year for Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey to develop the physics nerd side of her, but they seem to have forgotten that whole aspect in favour of making her a drunk, embarrassing, airheaded party girl, drowning in cliché.

Add to that Renato Arlem's lazy art, and I am fast losing all interest in Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. It's bad enough when you see cut and paste in webcomics; to see it in a DC comic is simply wrong. I had been intending to do a quick count of how many panels in the latest issue reused elements from previous panels, but when it became apparent that there were several examples on almost every page, I gave up in disgust.

This comic has too many characters, which means you get very little depth to any of them, and the story is trying so hard to be "torn from the headlines" that it just comes across as tabloid cliché conspiracy theory with extra superheroes. It manages to be extremely wordy without saying much of interest, and the whole thing is a big disappointment.

Oh, and if you want to get an emotive image of someone slashing their wrists, you need to a) make them sympathetic beforehand, and b) use an artist who is not going to get it so totally wrong. Anyone care to guess what's wrong with this picture (other than the dodgy perspective)?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Statuesque

After recent commotion about representations of female characters in miniature form, I'd like to take a moment to show appreciation for when they get it right.

Here's a manga-fied Wonder Woman.

She's holding a sword and shield, in a pose that suggests she's ready to use them. There's some stylish detail work (click on the image to see it larger) and the costume actually covers more skin than the regular version, though it may look more skimpy due to the optical illusion of her having considerably more leg than usually depicted.





And here's Wonder Girl. I'm not quite sure what she's supposed to be doing, but it looks like she's about to cheerfully tie someone up.



See, toy sculptors? you can get it right when you try.

Scott Kurtz cracks me up

See, it's funny because even though Brent is technically an adult and in a relationship, the mere sight of a fully clothed woman with large breasts makes him unable to function or think about anything other than boobies.

And when I say "woman" here, I mean cardboard cutout of a woman traced from someone else's comic, since it's the same image cut'n'pasted into every panel but with slight change of expression.

Surprisingly, this was not written and drawn by a 15 year old.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Win some, lose some

Remember Public Enemies #1, 2, and 3? Grant Morrison does, and as part of his ongoing plan to reintroduce the entire silver age back into continuity, Batman #670 polishes up Silken Spider, Tiger Moth, and Dragonfly for a new age, in an issue that also featured our old friend I Ching. Back in Batman #181 they were rivals, and if they had any super abilities, we were never shown.

I like them as a team, and now they have powers. Sort of.

On the minus side, the former most wanted are here merely served up as an entrée for Batman. They go down so easy that you can practically see Bats yawning. And they aren't all that impressive anyway.

Dragonfly has the ability to summon some white misty stuff from her arm. What this does, we never find out because Bats takes her out in two panels. And it's only that long because he pauses to give them a quick "sux 2 B U" speech.

Tiger Moth appears to have the power to shoot people.

With a gun.

This leaves only Silken Spider, who gets a nice visual, but then it turns out all she can do is some variation on the pheromone shtick that Poison Ivy worked to death years ago.

I'm left wondering quite what the point was. Why dust off an obscure concept from 1966 and give it a makeover, only to throw it away in seven pages?

Will we see them again? And if we do, will they ever be anything more than cannon fodder?

Update: Yes. We see them again in Nightwing #138. They are once again defeated as soon as they appear. Congratulations, girls. You've become a running gag.

The odd thing here is that they are referred to as has-beens, even though they've never been seen before in current continuity. This suggests that they were at least competent once. Shame we don't get to see any hint of that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The simple answer to continuity problems

I haven't read the whole of Batman and the Outsiders #1, but I've seen scans of the pages where Batman claims to be unaware of a lesbian relationship among members of his team. Now this is Batman, the guy who is so psychopathically anal that he makes plans to defeat all of his friends and team-mates, on the off chance one of them goes bad. The idea that he would be unaware of a romantic relationship in a team he leads is laughable, unless you plan to do a plotline about him mellowing out or losing his grip.

Many fans have attempted to work out a rationale that enables this interpretation of the character to fit with how he has been generally characterised in recent years. It's something I've seen time and again where someone has acted completely out of character, or in extreme cases, appeared in one comic after they had died in another.

My advice is don't sweat it. Sometimes you just have to accept that the writer is a dick and let it go. It's not your problem that some writer has written a story that doesn't fit continuity, and it's not your job to fix it. The current run of Supergirl has contradicted itself so many times that most of her backstory up to the present issue is a pick and mix. Choose which parts you wish to believe and ignore what you don't. Don't try to make it all fit together because it doesn't.

Nobody can ruin Batman, or Superman, or Wonder Woman, or the JLA by writing them badly. These heroes will outlive any dumb characterisation, and if you want a rationale there will always be a Superdick Prime punching reality or a Mister Mind Chewing on the multiverse or whatever they hell they come up with next year to give them an excuse to disown all past mistakes. And with the afterlife having such a revolving door policy, it doesn't matter how dead a character is, they may come back one day.

So read the good stories and don't worry about the bad. Leave it those who are paid to do so try to make sense of it. Don't blame the character because the current writer is a lazy jerk with an agenda, and don't rescue him from his errors by attempting to rationalise them. It's not your job. It's his.

Duh

I have no idea how I missed it, but I only just found out that there's a Supergirl Showcase due out next week.

There is not enough squee in the world to adequately describe how I feel.

Excuse me. I have to go queue at my local comic shop now.

Or I could, you know, tell them to hang on to a copy for me. Which probably won't leave them one to put out on the shelves if I know them.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

While I'm on the subject...

Maybe I'm expecting too much of DC. It's entirely possible that the murder of the entire team (except Cyborg) in Titans East is actually just part of the whole Death of the New Gods story. Though I can't see why exactly this would lead to the original new Teen Titans reforming, which is the whole point of it.

Thing is, Power Boy was already on the hit list because he comes from Apokolips. As an Apokolipian or possibly Apokolite, he's marked for the New Gods cull currently underway. Possibly Little Barda too. I have no idea where she comes from, but the name suggests a New Gods connection. So it may be the whole thing was simply a hit on Power Boy and everyone else got caught in the crossfire.

Either way, doing a story featuring the shock death of Power Boy is pretty limp. I mean, what's the shock? Power Boy killed by a different mysterious psychopath from the one you were expecting? And while I don't know there was anyone who cared enough to want him dead, I suspect he will be the least missed. It's not like anyone is going to admit to liking him when his defining characteristic was an unhealthy obsession with Supergirl, as Judd Winnick reminded us of here.

In fact he devoted several pages to a sequence about how funny it was that Power Boy was such a creepy stalker that he gets girls to dress up as the object of his obsession when he has sex with them.

Judd, a word of advice: you'd be more convincing with the "not a misogynist" argument if you didn't write things like this. Also, avoid writing humour; you're crap at it.

Dead Again

Can you guess which comic I want to rant about today?

Here's a clue: At least one hero is murdered in order to generate interest in another comic.

Still too many to choose from?

How about, it's a currently running storyline?

Wait, that's good for at least three comics.

Written by Judd Winick?

That narrows it down to two...

Okay, the answer is Titans East. A one shot that gathers together a group of c-list heroes and Power Boy*, and then kills them.

I could go on about how short sighted it is to keep blowing holes in the diminishing roster of unique characters that make up the DC universe. I could talk about how every minor hero has a few fans who will be upset at not just their deaths, but the careless way they were cast aside.

It baffles me what they hope to achieve here. If you liked the characters, it's just going to piss you off. If you weren't particularly interested in them, you're not going to care much that they are dead. As for bigging up the mystery villain by demonstrating that they are not only capable of killing heroes, but evil enough to do so for no apparent reason; fans of that weary old trope are already well catered for right now, as there are two other DC titles running the same plot, and at least one of them is taking out much more powerful heroes.

My only faint hope in all of this is that DC will eventually apply the same strategy to their own offices. If they expect to generate interest by killing off a few has-beens and c-listers, imagine the publicity it would generate if Judd Winnick was graphically murdered by a mysterious editor in chief.

Get some new ideas, DC. This is not only stupid, annoying, and wasteful. It's also starting to get embarrassing.

*Power Boy does not qualify as a hero unless your definition of hero is wide enough to encompass creepy stalkers and attempted rapists.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Night of the Living Snorefest

Am I the only one who's really, really bored of zombies?

I mean SO totally bored of the very idea that the mere mention of the "z" word sends me into a coma and the idea of some comic or movie warming over those rotting leftovers one more time with their hilarious and almost original idea for a zombie sitcom makes me want to strangle them with their own intestines?

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