Saturday, September 30, 2006

Comics comments

I bought five comics this week. Let's see what I think of them:

Secret Six #4 -- vs. the Doom Patrol! Apparently in the post Infinite Crisis DCU, the Doom Patrol never sacrificed themselves to save that small town in New England from the Brotherhood of Evil. I guess that's nice. But wait -- where's Ironsides? Okay, I don't know who some of these guys are. I guess that's okay. Oh, look, the Secret Six won because they're sneaky. I guess that's cool. Oh, the chick from Apokolips is screwing Deadshot behind her lesbian lover's back. I guess this is written by Gail Simone. Hey, they need to do a new Mad Hatter HeroClix fig, if he's THIS powerful. That would be cool.

Teen Titans #39 -- Kid Zatara? Zatanna has a cousin? Who're his parents? Why is Robin wearing that stupid ass red costume? There's a teen age Martian Manhunter? Why is Vic Stone's bicep bigger than his head? Isn't Cassie evil? No? Isn't Deathstroke's daughter evil? No? Crazy, then? Who the fuck is Kid Devil? Who the fuck is Bombshell? Where did all these idiotic teenage characters come from? The dumbass Superboy is still dead, though, right? He is? Whew.

Justice League of America #3 -- They stole Vixen's magic totem! Yay! Oooh, Black Lightning's gonna die. Yay! Hal, Dinah, and Roy are in big trouble... bummer. (Still, one EMP arrow and they should be fine.) Just how long are the Big Three going to sit around in a cave looking at pictures, anyway? OhmyGod, it's the Parasite. Shoulda seen THAT coming. Red Tornado's new human body is falling to pieces... I did see THAT coming. Who are they going to give Booster Gold's costume to? Me? That would be cool.

52 #21 -- Wow. Lex Luthor is a dick. I mean, I knew that. But... Lex Luthor is a dick. Makes perfect sense he'd never come up with a way to give people super powers if he couldn't turn them off too, though. And I really like the fact that his new team of super toadies are calling themselves Infinity Inc., because he bought the rights from the Pemberton estate. But I acknowledge, actual fans of Infinity Inc. will probably hate that. But I don't care.

Birds of Prey #97 -- Hey, there's no new Batgirl! That's totally cool. Who's this Blackhawk chick? Okay, I don't care. Wasn't Black Alice the little girl in Shadowpact? I don't care. Why is she dressed up like Dark Wonder Woman? I don't care. Oooh, the dad punched Talia right in the mouth! R'as al Ghul is gonna kick his ass. Hey, the little girl threw them all out of Dayton. They shouldn't care.

Oh, yeah, and we saw The Black Dahlia last night. Without a doubt the most misogynist film I have ever seen -- the climactic moment of heroism for the film's protagonist comes when he shoots down an unarmed woman. There isn't a single likable character in the entire movie -- it is, in fact, completely populated with emotional grotesques. But by far the most demeaning, degraded, despicable characters are the women. Two of them exist only to be victimized by the despicable men around them; the other two are sociopathic killers. Yay, women!

I enjoyed it, more or less absently, since I generally do like film noir period pieces. About halfway through, though, I abruptly realized that all the potential the various characters had was simply going to remain as potential, and they were never going to go through any kind of arc more profound than 'yay, my best friend died, now I can schtupp Scarlett Johanssen', and that, indeed, as Brian dePalma has become more and more competent at exactly recreating various scenes from various Alfred Hitchcock movies, he has sacrificed on that altar every other iota of directorial acumen he ever had, including any ability he may have once had for establishing and then developing characterization.

Dreadful, dreadful film. I really should learn. I mean, when was the last time DePalma did anything worth watching? Was it THE UNTOUCHABLES? Was it that long ago?

Anyway. That's my week in entertainment.

Meanwhile, back at the shithead...

Here's an interesting exchange:

SUPERFIANCEE: And who's stepped up, to support YOUR children, while due only to your pigheaded, monumentally selfish decisions we've gotten deeper and deeper into a financial hole and you haven't done a thing to help them or offered an extra cent for their upkeep? The man you and your girlfriend spend all your time insulting, that's who.

BIG CHIEF GINORMOUS FATHEAD: Well... well... that doesn't make me respect him any more.

Solipsism is officially disproved as a theory. I couldn't possibly make stuff like this up.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

One fanboy's reaction

It's been an education. It really has.

Thanks to Ragnell, and Kalinara, and Willow, and lately, shilohmm (no link, I don't know if she has a blog) I've learned so much about what comic book fangirls want, nay, True Believer, demand, from the superhero comics they read. They want normal looking women, women who act like women they themselves can recognize from their own experiences, women who understand the necessities of the lives they choose to lead and dress appropriately, in apparel made from fabrics that actually exist in the real world.

They want women who talk like real women, who look like real women, who dress like real women, who are not constantly drawn to look as if they're posing for MAXIM. They want powerful, competent, independent women who are not simply there as whack off material for perpetually-adolescent-at-every-age male comics fanboys.

In short, they don't want THIS:

They want THIS:

Speaking only for myself, as a 44-soon-to-be-45 year old fanboy --


Can't I have just a little peril?

Okay. Look. Yeah, that panel of Dinah's ass is... well, it's an eye opener, for sure. A few weeks ago I'd have gone right on by it without even noticing just how frickin' ridiculous it is that Black Canary -- BLACK CANARY, THIRD BEST MARTIAL ARTIST IN THE GODDAM DC UNIVERSE -- is wearing a costume that bares her entire ass to the whole wide world. I mean, doesn't she get cold? This chick leaps around on rooftops and gives people like Bane flying high kicks to the head while balanced on top of speeding dirigibles and shit! And she does it with her ass hanging out? Unless she's spinning around a pole and Bane is about to stuff a twenty into her cleavage, this outfit is pretty goddam stupid, yeah.

And I certainly wouldn't have pondered just how it would have struck me if, say, Batman, or Captain America, were wearing a similar costume... say, a black or blue thong over leggings that came up only to mid thigh, baring their no doubt very taut, rippling, manly buttocks to the gazes of their readership. (Although the thought is enough to make me want to hurl.)

So, yeah... the fangirls have a point, which I have already acknowledged.

But if the new Batgirl is what happens to superhuman women in superhero comics when the Revolution comes, well... please God, let me be the first fanboy up against the wall to be shot.

Please GOD.

I mean, suddenly you realize, maybe idealized bodies and sexualized poses ain't really all that bad.

The new Batgirl, in case you didn't know, debuted in Birds of Prey #98. I suspect she is writer Gail Simone's idea of a wry joke; a sort of "Okay, if this is what the women in my audience want, let's see how much they like it when I give it to them". I don't know that for sure, it's just, well, she seems like SUCH a parody that I have to assume Ms. Simone put the humor there on purpose.

This new Batgirl talks a great deal like a parody of a teenage superhero comics fan (the kind you'd expect to be an avid reader of WIZARD), and can apparently outfight all the main characters effortlessly. She can apport herself from place to place, and, in addition, she also seems to know the real names of all the superheroines in the book, and to be able to teleport into Oracle's super secret Oracle-lair with frightening nonchalance. My guess? She really is a comics fan, someone from our world who reads Birds of Prey and who has somehow found a way to manifest herself physically in what is, to her, the imaginary world of her favorite fictional heroines. She's clearly getting a huge kick out of hanging out with them, while, at the same time, she just as obviously doesn't take any of it (not even being gutshot) remotely seriously.

I don't know. Maybe some fangirl somewhere has really annoyed Gail Simone, and this is the classic writer's revenge. Or maybe Simone is making a sly, meta-commentary on how seriously her female fans seem to take her work, simply because she is one of the very few (if not only) female writers currently working in superhero comics.

Whatever the case, while I can certainly intellectually agree that female comics fans have a right to be outraged over the constant sexual portrayal of nearly every female character in superhero comics... having seen what happens when you stop doing that, well... okay. I'm a guy. I'm a horn dog. I like tits, and I like ass. Make the costumes a little more sensible if you need to. Make the women a little more realistic in their appearances. But... please... let's not see the new Batgirl become the norm.


Thanks to recent linkage from When Fangirls Attack!, I've picked up a few new comments from a new reader, shilohmm, one of which is in the thread over at Chick Fight!. I responded to her comments at my usual tiresome length in that thread, but still, I find I want to respond further where more people may have a chance to take part in the debate, if they want to:

shilohmm sez:

OTOH, under certain conditions ("the mama bear response" is not the technical term but gives you the general idea), women on average are more aggressive than men. Women can be much more aggressive than men when protecting someone they value. The idea that men are inherantly violent and women aren't is cultural, not one based in reality. Other cultures have characterized women as the violent and out-of-control gender.

I believe men in this culture think women are not as aggressive as men are for two reasons - first, because women don't defend "territory" the way a man would, and so may not respond aggressively to stimulus that would set most men off; and second, because women are not stupid, and obvious aggression is rarely the best response when dealing with a guy who outweighs you by fifty pounds or more. This says nothing about what women would like to do, and nothing about what women would do if they were suddenly more powerful than the average male, which is why the "aggressive powerful superheroines are chicks-with-dicks" argument irritates me.

Women are less likely to show their aggression, because being obviously aggressive when you can't physically defend yourself is dangerous. When you're 5'3" in a world where male height averages 5'9", physical force isn't usually a valid option. OTOH, if you're suddenly given superpowers the average male doesn't have access to, physical force would be mighty tempting.

I used to deliberately take on bullies in grade school and on into junior high (even though by junior high I was smaller than those I challenged). Obviously superheroines resonated with me. While I collected and enjoyed Lois Lane: Superman's Girlfriend and stories of Linda Danvers/Supergirl at the orphanage (I started reading comics in the 1960's), I also loved She Hulk and Ms. Marvel once they came along - although I do admit that early on there was tiresome "men are weak" stuff sometimes. Still, I loved them because they enjoyed the power to act the way I would - they gleefully thunked the bad guys. ;)

I don't know what to say about this.

Is it true? Do women only use reason because, as a general rule, they've found violence isn't an effective problem solving tool for them? If women were able to 'thunk the bad guys', would they? Would they immediately jettison all non-violent, non confrontational problem solving techniques, the minute they become capable of picking up a Buick station wagon and hitting someone they don't like in the teeth with it?

If so, this fills me with despair for the human race, as the implication seems to be, our default setting is violence. Or, at least, unreasoning physicality. If shilohmm's assertions here are accurate, then we are a race to which cognition does not come naturally, a race whose instincts and nature run towards a brute force solution to any problem we may encounter.

I hope this isn't true. I hope that humans, regardless of gender or race or age or other subdivision, have a capacity to think about things, not only after we've tried hitting them with a rock and that hasn't worked, but even before we reach for the rock.

I hope this especially, because in our here and now, our 'rocks' include poison gas, tailored bacterium, and nuclear weapons.

And, yeah, I have to admit, the people within arms reach of the GO buttons on all that shit do certainly seem to bear out the assertion "hit first, think afterwards".

I hope we're better than that, I really do. And to bring it back around to the much more narrow subject the article and comment thread was originally discussing -- I would hope that superpowered women, in general, would still be more likely than superpowered men to apply their powers with intelligence, after reasoned, lucid analysis of whatevere problem it is they are trying to resolve. (I'd like to see more superpowered men apply their powers with intelligence, too, but there's certainly little hope of this in contemporary superhero comics, where even the Sorcerer Supreme has recently been reimagined as a martial arts asskicker who essentially fires energy blasts out of his hands at every opponent until the opponent is charred into submission.)

Are we just brutes? Is that what superhero comics ultimately reflects? Male or female, are all humans...or fictional artifacts representing humans... simply thugs? Worse, is that what we WANT to be?

In a culture that lionizes Forrest Gump (to a point where we've even elected him to be our President) while quaking in terror before Hannibal Lecter, what other conclusion is there? We, apparently, WANT to be morons. We find it comforting, and admirable, just as we find intelligence to be threatening, and frightening, and loathsome.

Ah, maybe it's just me. I'm sure if I were to take up drinking, or going to church on Sunday, I'd find this all much less worrisome.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Heaven can wait

Jesus Christ. With fucktards like this in the Democratic Party, it's no wonder the nation of Franklin and Jefferson is turning into such a shit hole, and nobody is doing a goddam thing about it:

Even if one were to grant that the only values that matter in this world involve abortion, gays, and school prayer -- which we don't -- surely, there were plenty of Democrats to invite. What about the pro-life Bob Casey, who is running for Senate against Rick Santorum in PA? What about the anti-gay marriage Harold Ford Jr., another Senate candidate, from TN? Our own co-chair Sen. Roy Herron could have talked about all three. None of them got the call.

We don't need this big a tent. We just fucking don't. When people can run for office on platforms that include denying fundamental access to due process of law to American citizens simply because we don't like who they want to marry, and still call themselves Democrats, I say the Democrats just suck. Similarly, when some dipshit can stand up in public and say "No, ma'am, you should not have any legal right to choose which medical procedures you will or won't have on your own person", and still be a Democrat, it's time to find another goddam party.

It bothers me. I mean, in some reality somewhere, sure, being willing to admit that there are other values in this world that matter besides abortion, gays and school prayer is the very essence of reason and tolerance. Sadly, that reality is probably this one. But I don't want these idiots in any group I'm identified with.

Straight up -- you want to make it illegal for people to choose which medical procedures they can have, for any reason? You want to tell one pair of American citizens they can get married, and another pair they can't, because you think one of them is kinda yucky? You want to introduce religious ceremony into the publicly funded education process? And you want to do it because GOD told you it's the right thing to do? Fuck you, bitch. Get off my planet, or at least, out of my political party. You are a dangerous repressive intolerant bigoted loon, and I want nothing to do with you.

Sorry. Yeah. I know. We need their votes. We wouldn't, though, if we simply made everyone take and pass the same test to vote, as we make immigrants pass to earn citizenship.

Everybody rock n roll the place

Yesterday was sludging along as a perfectly normal Monday until around 3:39 pm (a little earlier for SuperFiancee; that's when her emergency email hit my Google account, though). From there, it turned into a rapidly accelerating emotional avalanche. We all came through it more or less intact... and that's all I'm going to say about that at the moment, for various reasons.

I will note, however, that SuperFiancee continues to astonish me with just how fabulous a parent she actually is... especially given how thoroughly her 17 year partner in parenting continues to astound us all with his contrasting and entirely disparate displays of parental acumen. She's carried a gigantic load entirely by herself for a very long time, and she's done it with enormous facility, competence, and success. Any of you who have enjoyed the company of the SuperKids -- it's all thanks to SuperFiancee, AKA, SuperMom. All props to her.

SuperFiancee/SuperMom also called in late at work just so she could drive me to work this morning, letting me get a crucial extra hour and a half of sleep (we didn't get back in from the Nexus of the Crisis until 1:30 a.m. last night). Had she not been that considerate, I'd be considerably worse off today than I am. Once again, I am the luckiest man in the known universe, to have this woman, and these kids, in my life. I honest to God do not know what I did to merit this -- in fact, short of saving the entire universe from malevolent evil, there's little I could have done to earn such spectacular good fortune. I'm just going to try to continue to appreciate it, and, you know, do my inadequate best to deserve it.

Back into the world of sweet, sweet trivia that eases the pain -- Mike Norton has new stuff up at both his blogs today. Over at Miraclo Miles, there's a link to an interesting overview of Gail Simone's career. It's mentioned in passing that apparently Gail cares little for Brian Michael Bendis, which would endear her to me even if I didn't already dig on her writing. I guess she's also made a minor career as an internet columnist mocking many, many male writers who badly need to be mocked, like Frank Miller and Warren Ellis. I also gather she's been writing BIRDS OF PREY for four years now, which makes me sad at all the back issues (or graphic collections, anyway) I need to go out and buy. I certainly don't need to buy her old DEADPOOL issues, though, so that's a relief.

Over at Turn This Bus Around, Mike has some very interesting political material. I'm still the only commenter he's got over there, so come on, folks... help me out a little, okay?

WizKids resolutely won't give me shit that's new on Supernova, although I noted on Sunday that they seem to have modified the Team Alliances icons grid to allow them to put in a bunch of new ones -- so I'm hoping that will comprise at least part of the next update, hopefully due tomorrow. The aforementioned Mike Norton will continue to duck out on all details, but I'm a greedy pig for this stuff and they can't throw it at me fast enough. Of course, I'm still nowhere near getting all the SINISTER I want, so being this obsessed with SUPERNOVA is kind of dumb. But it seems in every way other than character choice, it's a better set.

On the SINISTER front, I picked up three boosters on Sunday while SuperFiancee and I were out runnin' about (and oh, how long ago that seems now). In addition to all the usual suspects, I picked up a few new things -- namely, a Vet Madrox, a HYDRA technician (the first of the new HYDRA generics I'd gotten my hands on) and a Purple Man Unique. The power gamers will continue to sneer at the Purple Man, since the Ultimates Professor X still remains the Mind Controller of choice for that ilk, on the basis of points vs. effect -- but I kinda like having ol' Kilgraves for my DD villains set. Still looking for that Stilt-Man, though. And about a bazillion other Vets and Uniques from SINISTER. (I suppose I should probably sit down and put together an actual list of what I am still looking for from SINISTER... yeah, I guess that wouldn't hurt anything at all.)

So, let's see --

Arkon U
Bullseye V
Black Bolt U
Daredevil V
Deathlok V
Electro V
Falcon V
Hydra generics, R, V
Jack O'Lantern V
MACH-1, 3, 4 (r, e, v)
Radioactive Man V
Rhino V
Scarlet Spider U
Shadowcat V
Spider-Man U
Spider-Man E, V
Stilt-Man U

Interestingly, I'm noticing that the Avengers TA gets a big boost with this expansion in terms of the Perplex power. Prior to this, you pretty much had to put the Beast into an Avengers team to get any Perplex at all, and then you got one lousy click of it, and the Beast doesn't even have a single version with the Avengers TA, anyway. However, SINISTER gives us several Bendis Avengers who have Perplex -- Jessica Jones, Spider-Man, at least one more. To which I can only say, yeah, I find the entire Bendis run on AVENGERS completely fucking perplexing, too.

Further updates, maybe, as I get the time and think of inane crap to add on here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Lights out

This pretty much says it all... which won't keep me from running my keyboard about it, naturally.

The Bucs season seems to be pretty much over. How many teams have ever gotten to the playoffs after dropping their first three games? I don't know. But it can't be many. And for a Bucs team that has been playing as crappy as this year's has, well, it doesn't seem very likely they're going to surprise anyone.

The first two games were dreadful. I watched them both at a nearby sports bar; or, rather, I watched the first halves, and then, unable to bear watching any longer, I went home, and checked in a few hours later to confirm that yes, indeed, no thermodynamic miracles had occurred; yes, indeed, the huge leads the Bucs opponents had piled up in the first half hadn't been whittled down... in fact, in the first game of the season, against the Ravens, the Bucs didn't manage to score at all.

In the second game, against the Falcons, the Bucs managed a field goal.

Chris Simms, the Bucs young quarterback whom I've admired for several seasons now, and whose presence at the helm was the big reason I was looking forward to this season so much, wasn't showing me a goddam thing. None of the rest of the team had distinguished themselves, either. I'd been telling myself all summer that with Williams, Clayton, Pittman, Simms, Galloway, and Alstott all on defense, the Bucs had as good a chance as anyone to make a play off run... but they sure weren't backing me up.

The third game... well, in many ways, it seems like this could well be the last game of the Bucs season, this season. And the best. Although the Bucs lost, for much of the game, they actually looked like a division champion (which they are) and Chris Simms actually looked like a champion quarterback (which he is).

Naturally, this was the game I didn't get to see, because the local sports bar didn't schedule it. Hard to blame them. Both teams coming in, the Panthers and the Bucs, were 0-2... not exactly a barn burner.

As it turns out, many commenters seem to feel this was the best game played yesterday. For many reasons. I wish I'd seen it.

After a dismal first quarter, in which the Bucs were buried under a 17-0 Panthers lead, Simms led the offense into a turn around. Throwing for one touchdown and running for a second, Simms took some hard shots, but got the Bucs back into the game. When the defense forced three turnovers in the second and third quarters, the Bucs capitalized on them with three scores -- another touchdown and two field goals.

The whole time, nobody knew it, but Chris Simms was playing with a busted spleen. That touchdown he ran in? A gigantic Panthers defender hit him like a freight train at the end of it. This is what defenders like to do in football; when an offensive player dares to put his hands on the ball, has the temerity to try to do anything against the defense, much less succeed -- the defender punishes him for it. They train in it. It's their attitude. You go up against me, they say, I'm gonna hurt you for it, and I'm gonna hurt you worse if you actually score on me. In the insanely mana-a-mano, testosterone poisoned world of the National Football League, this attitude -- which at best one would have to call unsportsmanlike, at worst, actively homicidal -- is not only common, it is encouraged, and taught by defensive mentors to young defensive players.

So a Panthers defender punished Chris Simms for running the football over the goal line, and Simms wound up with a broken spleen, although nobody knew it, not even Simms himself.

Let's look at the game just through the lens of what the stats-keepers call the quarterback rating. I have no clear idea how they come up with a quarterback rating; it has something to do with the number of passes attempted, the number completed, the number of first downs gained, the number of yards gained by passes, the number of passes dropped, the number intercepted, the number of sacks the quarterback takes. In Simms first quarter against the Panthers yesterday, his quarterback rating was zero. Life don' ged much worse than that.

Simms had a rating of 111.9 in the second quarter. He had an 88.2 in the third, and a 106.7 in the fourth.

He left the huddle late in the game. Took two shaky steps towards the sidelines. Went to one knee, then down on his face in the chewed up turf. Got helped to the locker room, where they gave him an IV, because they thought he was cramping due to dehydration.

He missed two plays, total. Came back in. Led the Bucs to another score; a field goal that put them in the lead by 1 point, with a little over two minutes left on the game.

The Bucs vaunted defense, last year's League best, blew it. They couldn't hold. They let the Panthers drive all the way up the field and kick a game winning field goal with 2 seconds on the clock.

Chris Simms got into an ambulance, went to the hospital, had his spleen removed. He's out for at least six weeks, although if you read between the lines of Jon Gruden's statements since, he's never coming back. Gruden has never liked Simms, and now, he's got an excuse to get rid of Simms for good. He'll put in rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski, until he can trade for another veteran, and when Gradkowski can't produce, he'll put up whatever sorry ass third string ten year man he's managed to pull off waivers, and the sorry ass third string guy won't do shit either. But Gruden dislikes rookies, and likes experienced quarterbacks, and now, he's got the chance to get one.

I'd like to think that Bruce Gradkowski has a shot, that he can turn the season around, that he can be a star. But it isn't very likely... in fact, given how little and how grudging the support is that a rookie quarterback can expect from the Bucs head coach, I'd say it's virtually impossible.

Chris Simms will almost certainly be playing for another team next season... maybe as a starting QB, maybe as a back up.

Maybe I'll be rooting for another team next season, too.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Okay, now I'm going to puke

Check this out:

President Bush visits Bucs, plays catch with Simms
By FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer
September 21, 2006

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- It seems like everyone has some advice these days for the winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers and struggling quarterback Chris Simms.

Even President Bush tossed the football with the former University of Texas quarterback Thursday, and offered some advice.

"Never give up," Bush said Thursday when asked what he told the Bucs during a half-hour visit to the team's training facility near Raymond James Stadium, where the president delivered a fundraising speech to about 400 people in a VIP club area.

Coach Jon Gruden wouldn't disclose what additional wisdom the president might have imparted to Simms.

"It's great, though, to get some advice from the president of the United States. It's a little different when the coach is telling you to do this or do that. You have the president come and give you some advice, that's something you gotta listen to," Gruden said.

"Hopefully it works. If it doesn't work out this week, he can call the president to see what happened."

Bush accepted an invitation to stop by practice and was greeted on the field by Simms and teammates Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and Mike Alstott and Ryan Nece, as well as an appreciative Gruden.

"The president has a lot to do. For him to show up here with the SWAT team on the roof and the Secret Service guys, that's awesome," Gruden said.

The Bucs (0-2) are preparing for Sunday's game against Carolina, another winless team. Simms has been the target of criticism following subpar performances the first two weeks of the season.

Bush addressed the entire squad, coaching staff and other team officials and personnel in the middle of the field. The president mingled with players, coaches and officials, posing for pictures and signing autographs before playing catch with Simms, son of New York Giants Super Bowl-winning quarterback Phil Simms.

Once again, I am eternally grateful to SuperFiancee for getting me the fuck out of Florida.

We went up to our usual sports bar, the Dundee Tavern, only to find that all the day's games had already been set on the TVs, and the Bucs were nowhere to be found on the posted list. A quick query elicited the information that the list was, alas, not subject to negotiations, so I come home and see if by some chance the Bucs game may be telecast locally (not likely, but weirder things have happened) and, well, a quick look for TV info on Yahoo turns up the above nonsense, and...


I think it may be time to become a Chicago Bears fan.

Canary in a timeline

ADDENDUM, way up here: If you're one of the hundreds (well, dozens, anyway) coming over here from When Fangirls Attack!, welcome to the blog. Wipe your feet on the mat, throw your coats on the bed, get a Pepsi out of the fridge. We're not formal here. Be careful where you put your feet, we have a hyperactive six year old with the apparent power to teleport. She'll dance for you if you ask her too, though.

Yeah, my comments are moderated. Go ahead and leave a comment anyway... as long as you're not a troll, I'll let it through, even if you disagree with me. Hopefully, you'll disagree with me in an interesting and/or entertaining way, giving me some food for thought, and I'll try to respond in the same way.

Oh, and feel free to check out the rest of my stuff, too, if you feel like it. ;) Of special note to you may be my previous entries Chick Fight! and the subsequent semi-apologia, Boys And Girls Together.

Now, on with the show!

* * * *

As I've noted here, the official editorial technique for keeping comic book characters 'contemporary' with the world outside the comics is to, essentially, 'roll up' history behind the characters as the present continues to advance. This is for, essentially, two intertwined reasons -- comic book companies perceive that their audience wants to mostly read comics books that are set in a reasonable approximation of the world they see around them every day, and, that same audience will not welcome characters that are elderly.

This means the monthly (or less regular) titles must continue to be written as if the stories are taking place in the contemporary world of their audience... a fancy way of saying, if a comic book appears on the racks for initial purchase in 1986, the background, characters, and plot elements should all be consistent with that particular year in the particular social setting that the target audience is part of. A comic appearing this month, in late 2006, should exhibit characteristics consistent with the world the readers know.

There should be nothing anachronistic in it; the characters should not be inexplicably driving around in 1920s Model Ts, nor should they be speaking to each other on hologram-projecting wrist devices (unless some explanation is offered as to why such jarringly out of place devices are present). The characters should not speak or behave in any manner that belies the contemporary setting, their clothing should fit the time, as should the details of the background presented.

Comic book characters continue to exist as long as their publication is profitable, though, and some of the most profitable comics characters have now been in more or less continuous publication since the 1940s. In the year 2006, this would mean such characters are at least 60 years old, plus however many years they may have seemed to be of age in their first appearances (generally, at least 10 to 20).

Nobody wants to buy the adventures of an 85 year old Superman or Batman, though. Therefore, comics companies have to somehow reconcile this. They tend to do this one of two ways:

(a) somehow, the character retains extended youth to all appearances and functional requirements, despite the fact that he or she is actually established, within the fictional context, to be of a very advanced age

(b) the character, and the established events of the character's past, are continually repositioned in space-time so as to remain credibly close to the ever advancing present day.

An example of the first is, well, pretty much all of the members of the original Justice Society of America, and specifically, the Golden Age Green Lantern. The JSA are all date-stamped; their early crime fighting careers took place in or around WWII, and WWII is an event of such overwhelmingly charismatic and heroic social significance to our culture that DC does not want to give it up, by redefining the members of the JSA as having had early careers that took place during, say, the Vietnam War, instead.

Thus, the Golden Age Green Lantern is known to have been a young man in the 1940s. We can jigger with his age a bit within those somewhat loose parameters, as suits us, but still, we can't plausibly make his date of birth be much later than 1925 (in which case, he would have been in his late teens for much of WWII, and even that seems somewhat difficult to believe). Assume he was actually born in a rather more likely 1920, or even 1918, and he's closing in on being 90 years old as of this year... and he'll continue to age year for year, as long as he remains in publication, and the character isn't revised to eliminate his involvement in historical events with specific date stamps that cannot be modified for the emotional convenience of the character's target audience.

The JSA is also date stamped by the well established historical fact that the team originally disbanded in response to HUAC hearings – and while you can play with this timeline to some extent, also, as HUAC was effectively blacklisting Hollywood personnel from 1947 to 1954 here in the real world, that 1954 date remains solid as being the last year that McCarthyism could have been reasonably expected to be powerful enough to force the JSA to retire en masse, rather than publicly unmask.

In point of fact, it was Roy Thomas who first came up with the idea that the JSA could have been forced to disband due to investigation by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee on Earth-2. Here in the real world, HUAC mostly limited itself to ruining the careers of suspect film stars and other workers in the film industry, due to its members' fanatical insistence that Hollywood had been 'infiltrated by the Reds' and was therefore making 'subversive movies' that were undermining American values. However, on Earth-2, Joe McCarthy apparently decided to flex his muscles against the post WWII 'mystery men' community as well, with the result that the JSA disbanded... in 1951, the actual year that All Star Comics originally discontinued publishing the JSA's adventures. Thus, all the original members of the JSA, from the Golden Age of comics, are 'date stamped' with the year 1951, as well.

When a character that is still appearing in contemporary adventures has been portrayed as being present, and involved, in two such prominent historical episodes as World War II and the House UnAmerican Activities Committee hearings, there is no real way you can ‘roll up’ the timeline behind them to keep them young. They have to be the age they would logically be, if they were involved with such events and are still alive today; which means, you have to find some way to keep them cosmetically and functionally youthful – otherwise, pragmatically, they are too old to reasonably fight crime, and even more pragmatically, your target demographic won’t buy their adventures, because they're 'geezers'.

This is true of the Golden Age Green Lantern, Wildcat, Dr. Fate, the Spectre, the Golden Age Flash, Hawkman, and other DC characters, as well as Marvel’s Captain America and Sub-Mariner. With all of these characters, the various editors and writers in charge have contrived various different mechanisms to retard their apparent aging – GL is a mystic entity whose physical body is composed entirely of some sort of unknown energy; Dr. Fate and the Spectre are pretty much the same, in addition to which, both represent a sort of cosmic office that keeps being passed down from one generation to the next, and, anyway, each of them are nearly all powerful supernatural beings, so their physical bodies need not age if it’s not convenient; the Golden Age Flash ages more slowly than normal humans due to a serendepitious accident that occurred to the entire JLA back in the 1940s, Hawkman… don’t even get me started on Hawkman.

Over at Marvel, the Sub-Mariner simply has a mutant metabolism granting him vastly extended youthful vigor, and Captain America was frozen in an ice floe for a period that keeps growing longer and longer with each passing year, measured from the end of WWII up to about ten years prior to whatever the current present day in the Marvel Universe may be.

But what about Black Canary?

An obviously youthful female martial artist and costumed crimebuster, Dinah “Black Canary” Drake first appeared in FLASH COMICS #86 in 1947. As with most comics characters, and especially female comics characters, no definitive age was established for her at that time, but it seems safe to assume she couldn’t have been younger than, say, 17, at the outset. This would give her a birthyear of 1930.

Black Canary joined the Justice Society within a year or so of her first appearance, in ALL STAR COMICS #38, which is noted to have taken place on or around October 25, 1947. The JSA ceased appearing in ALL STAR COMICS in 1951, so let’s say that this was the year HUAC forced them to disband rather than publicly unmask. This would mean Black Canary was only active for four years during the Golden Age of comics before retiring. Again, if we assume a birthyear of 1930, she would have reached a ripe old age of 21 at the point she hung up her fishnets and blonde wig alongside the hoods, capes, helmets, cowls, and nth metal wings of her comrades in arms.

In real time, Black Canary stayed out of the limelight, presumably, in retirement, until Justice League of America issues 21, August-September 1963, and 22, October-December 1963. When her husband, Larry Lance, was killed in JLA #74, (September, 1969), Black Canary switched universes and teams, joining the JLA at the age of, by this particular timeline, 39 or thereabouts.

Various ret-cons over the years have established that when Canary went into retirement, she married Larry Lance, her long time paramour, and had one daughter, also named Dinah, at some point in this interval. Prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths removing multiple timelines from DC continuity, it was established that this daughter grew to physical maturity while in a mystically induced coma, and when her mother was dying of radiation poisoning from the same event that had killed her father, Johnny Thunder’s Badenisian Thunderbolt transferred the original Dinah Drake-Lance’s memories and persona into the daughter’s physically mature, but otherwise mindless, body.

Keeping to the established timeline, this story primarily requires that Dinah the Younger be physically mature – let’s say, at least 16 years old – prior to the story in which it was later ret-conned her mother’s original body died of radiation poisoning. If we continue to set this story in its original appearance year (1969), then young Dinah needs to have been born in 1953 – which works, since it’s two years into her mother’s initial retirement.

All of this is simply by way of finding a place to put our feet. The whole Earth 1/Earth 2 dichotomy, and all such subsequent ret-conning based on it, was wiped out by 1985’s Crisis On Infinite Earths. In Secret Origins #50, Alan Brennert established what has remained as the template for the Black Canary’s history and origins in the new, post Crisis, single timeline – namely, that the modern day Black Canary, currently fighting crime in the Birds of Prey series along with teammates Huntress and Oracle, is the daughter of the original Black Canary, who fought crime during or just after WWII, and retired from her brief career as a masked mystery woman in 1951.

My mighty Google powers are, at this moment, inadequate to pin down exactly what year Secret Origins #50 appeared in. However, it couldn’t have been any later than 1988. In 1988, a contemporary female martial artist/member of the JLA born in 1953 would have been 35 – and if we assume that Brennert didn’t feel bound to the timeline I’m laying out here (as he most likely didn’t) he could very well have pushed all the Justice League Black Canary appearances to much later along (to, say, the early 80s) and could have set the birthyear of the second Canary as late as, say, 1963. This would have given us a Black Canary, in 1988, in her mid 20s, which would have been perfectly acceptable.

We should also understand that, by dividing the events of Black Canary’s life up into two separate lifetimes – those of the mother, and those of the daughter – we have to decide which events (stories) happened to (featured) which version of the character. The easiest way to do it is to accept the original, pre Crisis division point (which is why I’ve been at such pains to establish it) – the Golden Age stuff happened to the mother, Dinah Drake, prior to 1951; the Silver Age stuff, and onward, happened to the daughter, Dinah Drake Lance… sometime well after 1951.

There are a few problems evolving out of all this, and I’m sure you can see the shape of them… but let’s toss into the mix this… a little comic called Green Arrow – 1975 – The Wonder Year.

While a quick Googling shows that all actual references to the year ‘1975’ have since been removed, at least, on all the cover reproductions of reprint editions currently available, I remember this series distinctly from when it came out, mostly because of editor Mike Gold’s obnoxious assertion, in a first issue editorial, that ‘ignoring continuity is always a pretty cool idea, when the fans will let you get away with it’. In this particular issue, the Green Arrow/Black Canary romance, a staple of the Silver Age all through my formative years, is going strong. Therefore, I'm throwing the date out there as yet another marker in the Black Canary timeline, this one labeled 'period when Dinah and Ollie were involved as a couple'.

Various other Black Canary fans have done hero's work trying to reconcile all of this with the current Canary appearing in current DC Comics -- a pretty good attempt at which can be found here. However, when you get to a certain point, well, most people just have to give up, as you can see from these passages I’ve excerpted:

At this point, the history of the Black Canary becomes particularly tortuous. Pre-Crisis, Black Canary decided to move to Earth-1 to overcome her grief over her lost husband. En route, she was revealed to be dying of radiation poisoning and transferred her memories to her comatose recently recalled daughter. The daughter then spent many years under the assumption that she was her mother and moved onto Earth-1 (revealed in Justice League of America #219-220).

Post-Crisis, Black Canary did not die shortly after her exposure to the radiation that killed her husband, and her daughter was neither comatose nor unrevealed. At some point in the past, both Black Canaries had active crime-fighting careers simultaneously. After the death of Larry Lance, Black Canary became less active and eventually retired altogether. She developed cancer as a result of her exposure to Aquarius's radiation in later years and died while her JSA comrades were in limbo (revealed in Secret Origins vol. 2 #50 and Green Lantern Corps Quarterly #3).

Post-Zero Hour, the history of the Black Canary is uncertain. The JLA was formed in 1986, nearly 40 years after the Black Canary joined the JSA; therefore, the tale of Larry Lance's death must be greatly altered. Also, since Black Canary was not among those who received the long-prolonging effects of Ian Karkull's radiation, there is some question as to the relation of ages between mother and daughter Black Canary; the original must have been in her 40s or 50s when the second was born. These and other questions will need to be answered before Black Canary's revised history can be fully understood.

Yeah. To say the least.

So, here’s the problem – the original Black Canary was born in or around 1930, started fighting crime in or around 1947, retired as a crimefighter in 1951. She had a daughter, who is currently in her mid 20s (she can’t be any older than that; for one thing, she doesn’t seem to be, and for another, her fan base won’t accept it).

That daughter is currently fighting crime in a contemporary setting in the DC Universe on a monthly basis. This means that (right now) the current Black Canary can’t have been born any earlier than 1982. Which means her mother, the original Black Canary, was around 52 years old when she was born.

Not impossible, but, well, hardly very likely.

If we stick to the date stamps we’ve been thrown like bones over the years, then we also have to factor in here that the current Black Canary was having a well established, long term monogamous relationship with Green Arrow in 1975 or thereabouts. Which is hard, since this would have had to take place around seven years before she was born. (The fact that Green Arrow stated that he was 50 years old in the original Wonder Year miniseries, which would make him 81 now, doesn’t much matter, as he’s died and been mystically resurrected at least once during this time period, and I have no difficulty believing that his resurrection had the beneficial side effect of rejuvenating him to a more youthful physical state, as well.)

Now, obviously, we can just accept what DC has done in abstracting the date stamp from the “Wonder Year” Green Arrow arc, and assume that it actually took place much, much later on in the timeline… probably in the late 80s or early 90s. Still, to fit in a romace with Dinah that lasted at least a few years, and that doesn’t end up giving us a Green Arrow our contemporary society would be forced to revile as a child molester, and to keep Black Canary young enough to suit her fans, well, she and Ollie must have started dating maybe six years ago and broken up maybe four years ago… meaning ‘the Wonder Year’ was 2000. And will continue to be shifted forward, as our own calendar continues to roll inexorably onward.

Here’s what I’m going to propose – let’s add another Canary to the mix.

We keep the original, Golden Age Black Canary. She retires in 1951, has a child in 1953 – which is all in accord with the original, pre Crisis timeline. Her daughter grows up and, against her mother’s wishes, takes up the Black Canary mantle in, say, 1971, at the age of 18. She fights crime in the 1970s, and while I know the contemporary DC Universe timeline will never allow the Justice League to have appeared this early on, still, I find it pleasant to contemplate that the whole ‘Satellite Era’ actually took place when I remember it taking place, in the late 60s to late 70s, and there was a Black Canary who was a part of it.

Even leaving the JLA out, we can keep the Black Canary/Green Arrow romance, and allow Green Arrow to be 50 years old in 1975, which would mean he was born in 1925, and could very well have had a Golden Age career with the original Seven Soldiers of Victory, and had all those goofy Golden Age adventures (or something vaguely like them).

Again, this is all made possible for GA by the fact that he’s died and come back to life at least once, and thus, his contemporary biological age doesn’t have to reflect the reality that it should.

Hal Jordan has recently had a similar mystical resurrection, so, under this theory, the classic O’Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories could still have taken place in the 1970s, and Black Canary could very much have been a part of them. Of course, if Roy Harper was a teenage sidekick hooked on heroin during this time period, then he himself has to be getting rather longer in the tooth by now than his own fan base is going to want to accept – in fact, he’d be just about my age (nearing 45). But, you know, one ongoing timeline problem at a time. Maybe the current Roy is the son of the first Speedy. (In fact, if we assume that the current Green Arrow is the original Green Arrow as well, he must have had several sidekicks named Speedy over the past several decades… hmmm… food for thought, there.)

Anyway, so we have the second Black Canary, born in 1953, taking on her heroic role in 1971, fighting crime throughout the 1970s and perhaps into the 1980s. Sometime prior to 1988, she retires, for some as yet unknown reason – maybe because she’s pregnant? And has a daughter she names Dinah, also. Who is the current, contemporary Black Canary appearing in JSA and Birds of Prey.

I like the idea for a lot of reasons. One, it preserves a lot of the continuity I am familiar with, in the era where that continuity originally took place. Second, it gives us an entirely new Black Canary to speculate about. We know the details of many of her adventures, but – why did she retire? Who is the current Black Canary’s father? The obvious guess would be Green Arrow, but what if the obvious guess is incorrect? What if the reason she and Green Arrow broke up is that the current BC’s father was someone else? If so, who could it be?

Obviously, this would require some quickly ret-conned explanations – any Black Canary who has appeared in the last decade or so and been romantically linked to Green Arrow would have had to have been the second BC, not the current one. The current one may well have some kind of relationship with GA – but does he think he’s her father? Or is he angry with her because he knows he’s not? Is the current BC angry with him, because she assumes he is, and he abandoned her mother?

There are, I have no doubt, endless reasons from endless Black Canary, Green Arrow, and related character appearances over the past three decades that this couldn’t work, but I suspect worse continuity implants have been put into place before.
Me, I really like the idea of ‘Black Canary’ being a generational identity, rather like The Phantom, with each Black Canary raising a successor to the role.

Hey, nearly time for the Bucs game. Better go.

Friday, September 22, 2006

He's got questions, I've got answers

Tony Collett posted these questions on his blog a while back, with the prediction that I would disagree with him on every single one of them. I disagree with this! No, wait… Hmmm. Well, in order to argue with him I have to take a position contrary to his…

1. Can Venom bond with Collosus when he's metal? When is Venom ever metal? This is a very silly question.

2. Can Classic Black Tom Cassidy block out Black Canary's scream? Well, if Green Arrow can learn to block out her bitching about his idiotic goatee – and clearly, he can – I suspect Black Tom can learn to block out the screaming, yeah.

2. Can Gambit, with enough power, charge up air particles? Gambit’s a Cajun, and therefore, has a truly wretched credit rating. He can’t charge anything. It’s strictly cash for him, and the clerk is going to use those cool styptic pencils to check all his twenties for forgeries, too. It's just the way things are, in this cruel, Cajun hating world.

4. What would happen if Rogue touched Martian Manhunter? The Martian Manhunter would get a gigantic woodie and be very, very embarrassed when the rest of the JLA suddenly realize the huge Anna Paquin obsession he’s been hiding for years.

5. Could Hulk, if he got mad enough, break through a [Green Lantern]'s shield? He could break through Kyle’s, or Guy’s, or G’nort’s. But so could Bruce Banner. Or my nephew Ben. Those guys are loser Lanterns. He could never break through Hal’s, though, because while he was trying, Hal would will his ring to beam calming theta waves at the Hulk, lulling him into a deep, tranquil slumber. Hal is smart.

6. If Gambit charges up a metal object, could Magneto stop it from exploding? I don’t know, but I say, let's find out. Lock Gambit and Magneto in a room with a big ass metal object and let er' rip.

7. Could Kitty phase through Invisible Woman's shield? Unless they’re both in a big pit full of Jello when they try it, I don’t care.

8. Could Kitty phase through a GL's shield? This is an insane scenario. Why would any GL ever put up a shield between him and Kitty Pryde? Unless Kitty is putting the moves on Hal and Arisia is putting a shield up between them or something. Then... I don't know. I suspect Hal would beam theta waves at Arisia to put her into a calming, tranquil sleep. Lord knows I would.

9. What would happen if Banner had his bones bonded with metal? I think he’d scream a lot and wish whoever was doing it in hell, quite fervently, and then he'd probably die. Having your bones bonded with metal sounds pretty lethal.

Would he not be able to grow if he became the Hulk? Well, maybe if Black Talon brought him back as Zombie Hulk. I don't know. These are weird questions. Do you have your Federal ID? I may have to report you to the authorities, sir.

10. I once heard the Nightcrawler teleported by transferring to a different dimension. If this is true, could he stay there? Please Lord, please, Lord, I so badly need this to happen.

11. Is Juggernaught unstoppable if he's not moving? This is like that thing where Harry Mudd cannot speak the truth, and then he says “I am lying”, right? Well, you won’t get me! See, the trick is, the Juggernaut is ALWAYS moving, because he’s on a planet that is revolving at several thousand miles per hour! HA! I’ve run rings around you logically.

Going Supernova

Mike Norton is trying to avoid any and all spoilers as to WizKids' next announced expansion set, Supernova. He wants to be as surprised as possible when he starts opening boosters, sometime in October. It's a novel approach to me, since I am but a slave to my ravening curiosity and I will fanatically and zealously track down every scrap of rumor I can find regarding an upcoming HeroClix set with the avidity of a Templar seeking some dusty, mystically preserved scrap of the baby Jebus' blessed footie pajamas.

Still, Mike may well be wiser than I. My insatiable hunger for news on the set requires me to read all the pertinent threads at WizKids' site, which forces me to expose my already gibbering brain to an uncountable number of posts by people with usernames like Scion-of-Darkseid and StormPhoenix and god help us all Stumpy-the-Destroyer, nearly all of whom can barely type because they're jerking off so hard at the thought of getting a figure of Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet, despite the fact that such a figure would have to cost 1.3 million points, and as one person ruefully points out in the thread, WK's current chief designer has stated himself that if he ever designed such a fig, he would not call it 'Thanos With Infinity Gauntlet', he would simply inscribe 'You Win' on the base and have done with it.

Nonetheless, out of respect for Mike, I'll try to keep specific details as have been released regarding the set down here, below the jump.

Since I first wrote that, back on June 30, and shoved it into my drafts folder, we've seen some movement on the set. Boneyard's confirmed list has gotten pretty long, as you can see from the reproduction below:

Skrull Generic (infiltrator? warrior? officer?) (Empress R'Kill? Lyja Lazerfist? Replica? Skymax? LE)
Kree Generic (soldier? lieutenant? captain?) (BelDann? Supreme Intelligence? Colonel Yon-Rogg? Noh-Varr? LE)
Badoon Generic (Brother Royale?)
Shi'ar Generic (warrior? infantry? royal guard? )
Thanos (Unique?)
Silver Surfer (Defender, Power Cosmic teams?)
Drax the Destroyer
Nova (Richard Rider) (or Nova Corpsman with Richard Rider LE)
Captain Marvel (3)/Photon/Genis-Vell
She-Hulk (new costume)
Machine Man
Vision (Exp = white version)
Super-Apes (?)
Character ending in "...ler" (616 Dazzler?)
Character with lower case "d" in name (Speedball? Red Ghost?)
Exile team member (Magnus? Nocturne? Holocaust? Beak? Morph?)
New Warrior member (Speedball? Namorita? Night Thrasher? Debriii? Microbe?)
Wrecking Crew member (Bulldozer? Piledriver?)
Guardian of the Galaxy member (Vance Astro/Major Victory/Justice? Starhawk? Martinex? Charlie-27? Yondu? Nikki?)
Jack o Hearts (REV? Unique?)
Dr. Spectrum (Alice Nugent)
Mantis (unique?)
Red Ghost (unique?)
Karnak (unique?)
Super Skrull (unique?)
Majestrix L'ilandra (unique)
Graviton (unique?)

The list itself is tantalizing, but lately, WizKids has been doing an excellent job on character selection -- giving us a lot of the older, Silver Age versions of characters, with enough of the newbies to keep the Modern Age pukes more or less content, too. I've been less sanguine about the dial designs -- but those who have read my past HeroClix posts know all about that, and I suspect there will be another dose coming up in this one.

Still, so far, the list of confirmed figures in this set is one I'm pretty enthusiastic about. For one thing, we're getting new Team Abilities in this set, and half of the teams, at least, are factions I'm happy to see added -- Guardians of the Galaxy, Squadron Supreme, and Badoon, specifically. We're also supposed to see New Warriors and maybe Exiles in this set, and about them, I'm much less anxious, but, hey, if I have to take a New Warriors TA to finally get a Rich Rider Nova, that's a deal I'm willing to make.

To the left, assuming the finished product you're looking at bears any resemblance to what I see in the Preview window, is a graphic of four of the figs. All of them look very good. Drax is, distressingly, not on a flight base, but we can hope that's a mistake, or that he's a REV and at least one of his REVs will have the power.

As to the other four, while no dial stats have been released as yet -- and with WK's newest game designer, the devil is always in those details -- I have to say I'm pretty happy to see all of them. A Rich Rider Nova, as mentioned above, is a fig I've wanted for a long time. Hyperion I can take or leave, but he's an old time Silver Age supervillain/hero (depending on which dimension he's native to) and as we're getting him, I can only hope we get a REV, so one of him can have the new Squadron Supreme TA (the heroic version) and another can have a Sinister Syndicate TA (apparently, the stand in TA for Squadron Sinister, the villainous otherdimensional analogue of the Squadron Supreme).

The Cosmic Armor Doom, supposedly reflecting Dr. Doom as he was in the long ago Secret Wars mini-series, is an 'ehhhh'. It's nice to have another Dr. Doom out there, and assuming he has a decent dial, I'll pick one up eventually, if only so I can swap out the fig with one of the extra Doom sculpts I have from Clobberin' Time, perhaps sacrificing a Doombot to the necessity, as I like the earlier sculpt much better. However, a lot will depend on the dial. Still, Seth doesn't seem to like to design really powerful characters, so hopefully, this Doom will have an adequately versatile power array and decent stats. That's all I hope for.

Another reason I'm enthusiastic about Supernova is that it marks WK's return to REVs of generic figs, and in a big way, too, with new REVs of previous established alien races (Kree and Skrulls) and the introduction of generic REVs of two new races (Badoon and Shi'ar). As an old time Silver Age fan I'm delighted to see the lizardlike Badoon coming into the game; the bird-like Shi'ar, on the other hand, I'm pretty much aloof to the charms of. Still, I guess it would be nice to give Deathbird a few lackeys to lead into battle.

Other characters from the confirmed list that I'm enthusiastic about -- a new Thor, a new Vision, a new Super Skrull, Machine Man, Mantis, the Red Ghost and his Super Apes, Karnak, Jack of Hearts, at least one member of the Guardians of the Galaxy... nothing wrong there.

However, this morning I went over to the WK site pretty early, and was absolutely delighted to find they've loaded up pics and dial diagrams for a figure that isn't even on the confirmed list -- a figure I've been waiting for for a very long time... a figure that, at long long last, seems to finally dispel WK's long standing Hank Pym hoodoo.

Yes, I'm talking about this tiny guy here --

Yeah, baby! We're talkin' ANT-MAN -- not the figure-free hockey puck WK put out long ago and far away, with the strained joke explanation that "he's too small to be seen". This fig has a sculpt, and from what I can see, it's a bee-YOO-ti-ful one, too. About friggin' time.

While WK makes reproducing their dial grids a little more difficult than I can handle while here at work typing between calls, I'll do my best to hit the highlights:

The rookie version of the Ant-Man has an Avengers TA, which is nice, since Seth has been stingy with them. Interestingly, he has two opening clicks of Charge, making him a fairly useful piece, as he will be one of the few who, under WK's normal rules, can both move and attack. His mobility is limited with a Speed value of 6, but he's a little guy, who mostly moves around on ant-back, so that's acceptable. His opening defense of 18 will make him damned hard to hit, especially in the Seth Era, where nearly every figure has a top Attack Value of 9. This rookie Ant-Man himself opens with an Attack Value of 9, which slopes down pretty quickly over his six clicks of life to bottom out at a 6. Lastly, his opening click shows 2 damage, with Outwit... which, combined with the Charge, the highest Attack Value he'll see, and the highest Defense, makes it the slot you want to try hard to keep the fig on. Oh, yeah, and he has a range strike out to 4 squares away, which ain't great, but ain't bad either.

At 48 points, the Avengers TA and the pretty sweet single starting slot make this a potentially effective add on to any Avengers team. Once l'il Pym takes a hit, he'll land on some Leap-Climb, before finally (if he lives that long) ending up with some Stealth and some Super Senses, as he moves into full retreat.

All that's under WK's normal tournament rules. Under my House Rules, the Charge will let Ant-Man potentially add 1 to his damage, and he'll be able to move the full 6 and make a close combat attack, instead of halving his movement to 3. His Outwit should let him look for weaknesses in his opponent's defensive powers, letting him get rid of damage ablatement on most and hit for that full 2 or 3 points. The Super Senses on his last three clicks will do more than protect him under my House Rules; he'll also be able to see other Stealthed figures wherever they're hiding, which makes sense, since the classic Ant-Man was always getting sneaky intel from his insect buddies.

The Experienced Ant-Man has no Avengers TA, and I strongly suspect he's meant to represent that Scott Lang loser who took over Hank's costume for awhile. Given that this version's major villain was a gigantic fat guy named Darren Cross, I say fuck him eternally; about the only good thing Brian Michael Bendis has done on his AVENGERS run is blow him the christ up. Still, he adds a great deal of Incapacitate to the dial and gets some Super Senses up front on his best Defense of 18, which ain't nothing to sneer at. He loses Pym's Charge and Outwit, but picks up three clicks of Perplex, a power the Avengers badly, badly need. He also gets more Stealth than the Pym version did, and one click of Defend so he can share his second slot 17 Defense with his buddies. For 66 points he's not a bad version of Ant-Man, and under my House Rules, where I can put an Avengers TA on him if I want to, he could see some play.

Then there's the Vet. At 81 points, he's a pricey little cuss for his size, and sadly, he's almost certainly a more experienced version of the Scott Lang Ant-Man. Still, denial is not a river in Egypt, and I'll think of him as a better version of Hank Pym if I wanna, dammit. He regains the Avengers TA, gets a click of Charge back again up front, picks up 3 clicks of Incapacitate up front with a 9 AV on all of them, gets Super Senses on his first three clicks of DV (18-17-16), sees his DV pop back up to 18 again in his fourth slot (no powers), and has four slots of Perplex. While I'd like it if they gave him just one lowly click of Outwit, maybe at the end of his dial, both because Pym should have it (I'm denying that this is Scott Lang! Denying it! Get on board or hit the road, Jack!) and because it would let him be a Brilliant Tactician (which the Avengers badly need, and Pym could do that, too), still, it's a decent dial, and one which reflects Ant-Man's mental capacaties as well as his physical abilities, and now, if they'd just do me a decent Giant-Man so I could switch them out with my home grown POLYMORPH feat, I'd be all set. As far as Pym goes, I mean.

A decent Pym fig? A REV of the Silver Surfer? RED GHOST AND HIS SUPER APES?

Could this be... THE BEST SET... EVER???

Hey, there's a new Vision REV posted, too. Let's look at him:

The rookie looks like this, but solid, not transparent; according to Boneyard's list, the Experienced version will be the pale, colorless Vision we had after Byrne fucked him over righteously in WEST COAST AVENGERS back in the 80s.

This sculpt shows one central problem to WK's portrayal of the Vision -- he's on a flight stand. Now, the Vision does fly, certainly. But he flies by lowering his density until he is lighter than air -- supposedly. Actually, the Vision's powers are extremely difficult to explain, and how he flies, or passes through solid objects, or disrupts solid objects when he wants to, is rather baffling, and, I suspect, has been very inconsistently depicted over the years, since most comics writers aren't physicists.

However, the Vision can pass through walls, and he can fly, and the result of that is, under WK's normal rules (and my House Rules, for that matter) he can carry another figure with him when he moves (because he flies) and he can also move through walls (Blocking Terrain, in WK terms), which means he can carry another figure through a wall. Which he has never done, in the comics. Which bothers me deeply, because it's invariably how he will be used in the game... even I use him for that, and I know he can't do it.

So I was hoping for a Vision this time around that wouldn't have a flight stand. He would still be able to move through walls (assuming WK gave him Phasing/Teleport, which they certainly would) but he wouldn't be able to carry anyone. That would have fixed it, although on an outside map, a non-flying Vision would not have been able to soar, which would also have been inaccurate. But, I think, not so much as a Vision who can carry an ally through a wall with him, which, well, while we don't really know how his power works, he's been around 40 years now, and we've never seen him do that. So I assume he can't.

As to the dials:

The rookie Vision is the most straightforward. He gets a lot of phasing; in a nice touch, for two of the three slots where he has Super Strength, he also has Earthbound, meaning he's too heavy to fly. He also gets Impervious in those two slots, where when he's Phasing and Flying, he gets Super Senses and Energy Shield/Deflection, meaning his intangibility makes him harder to hit, but not harder to hurt.

The Rookie and Experienced versions of the Vision each get several clicks of Exploit Weakness, to represent his disruptive touch attack, with which he can damage (and usually render unconscious) nearly any solid opponent. The Vet loses this, picking up a lot of Perplex and some Outwit, so Vizh can be a Brilliant Tactician at this level, which will be handy. The Experienced gets some Psychic Blast and some Incapacitate; the Vet loses the Incapacitate, keeps the Psychic Blast, and has a great deal of Super Strength. The rookie has a range of 6, the Experienced 8, and the Vet has a 10.

Each version is very playable, with different combinations to offer. When pressed for points, the 65 point rookie will be a perfectly adequate Android Avenger; the 108 pt Experienced and the 138 pt Vet will also make their ways onto various teams when I have the room. All versions have the Avengers TA, which is as it should be (although, if the rookie had had the Masters of Evil, to reflect his very brief time as a thrall of Ultron, it wouldn't have bothered me all that much).

The new Silver Surfer REV looks good, too, although I'm less thrilled about his dial. Still, so far, the set looks good -- excellent character selection, beautiful sculpts, and probably the best dial design I've seen from Seth yet.

And an ANT-MAN -- ooooh! I'm giddy as a schoolboy!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Boys and Girls Together

ADDENDUM: If you're one of the hundreds coming over here from When Fangirls Attack!, welcome to the blog. Understand from the top two things:

(a) Neither Ragnell nor Kalinara like me very much, so you may not get the kind of thing you're used to them recommending here, and

(b) Yeah, my comments are moderated. Go ahead and leave a comment anyway... as long as you're not a troll, I'll let it through, even if you disagree with me. Hopefully, you'll disagree with me in an interesting and/or entertaining way, giving me some food for thought, and I'll try to respond in the same way.

Comment moderation is specifically up to filter out trolls, however -- I'm very opinionated, so I get my share. Bear it in mind.

Oh, and feel free to check out the rest of my stuff, too, if you feel like it. ;)

* * * *

Ragnell points me to this. For once, she's not bullshitting -- this post really is required reading.

Under the title "If The Fanboys Think We're Jealous, How Do We Win?", a female blogger who seems to call herself Willow advises --

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. astraldreamgirl 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?

Sobering stuff. Especially for a nearly lifelong 'fanboy' who is about to turn 45 (in two months, thanks), who is about to marry the finest woman he's ever met (assuming I stay lucky and don't piss her off too much) and become stepfather to the three finest girls in human history... the elder two of whom already read superhero comics (thanks largely to my influence) and the younger of which almost certainly will read superhero comics when she gets a little older. (Hopefully, the good ones from the Silver Age I point out to her in my collection.)

I admit, I hadn't looked at this subject from Willow's viewpoint before, as those few of you who actually read my largely ignored Chick Fight! entry from a few weeks back already know. In fact, I closed that (lengthy) entry with the following paragraph:

As for the rest of it, though, well, superhero comics are inherently unrealistic, and that’s part of their charm. They are also, at least right now, a genre created, consumed, and supported almost entirely by males. Until that changes, I wouldn’t expect to see anything else change… and as a male myself, well, the only change I’m ever in favor of is better writing. But, hey, I like the good girl art as much as anyone else… and I really can’t see anything wrong with that, either.

Well, we live and learn. Some of us have to be hit over the head with a two by four, but, still, when someone does us the office, we can absorb some new information from it.

In the previously mentioned Chick Fight! entry, the main point that I made (if I made any at all) was that yes, women have a right to be upset about how female characters are portrayed in comics -- not at their appearances, because male characters have appearances just as exaggerated, and fangirls certainly don't mind that -- but at the subordinate roles that female characters in comics always find thrust upon them by the male characters all around them (and the male creators behind them). I also waxed rhetorical at some length about the need for more writers in comics who understood that violent confrontation is far less natural or instinctive for women than it is for men, and that therefore, superheroic (and, for that matter, supervillainous) women would attempt to solve problems and resolve conflicts using a different paradigm than most male superhumans. (Which is to say, superwomen, even those with superstrength, would be more inclined to use their wits, and manipulate their environments to advantage with their powers, and defuse confrontation, than they would to put on a violent dominance display with the intention of bludgeoning their opponent/obstacle into whimpering submission.) Here's one of many such passages:

Female comics fans may continue to clamor for female characters in superhero comics with more modest mammary endowments and who do not dress like topless dancers at the beginning of a three song routine, but the commercial reality of comics precludes the modification of such details, and that’s just how that is.

If we men don’t feel our gender is being sexually exploited by its universal representation as ‘beefcake’ in these four color rags, it seems to me that female comics fans (who certainly don’t seem to mind the beefcake, either) could lighten up a little bit about the cheesecake, too. But, women tend to have different perceptions of sexuality than men do, and in this regard, we may simply have to accept that this particular sub-genre of graphic art is now and always has been predominantly created for (and by) and consumed by males… and leave it at that. Or, as I noted before, declare it a wash and put it behind us.

Having now read the article I opened this entry with, though, I realize that I was wrong to so quickly dismiss fangirl concerns about superwoman physicality. Because women simply don't see these things the same way as men do... and that's very valid.

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.

Uh... yeah. Okay. I can see that.

Huntress dresses like a ho. I admit it. I admitted it more than once (I think) in my previous entry on the subject. Of course, I then blithely dismissed any concerns about that from female comics readers by noting rather patronizingly that superhero comics are a subgenre designed for and largely supported by adolescent males, and that's just the way that is. Essentially, I said "Well, we like looking at the boobies, don't you know, and you girls like looking at Kyle Rayner's ass, too, so all you fangirls out there, just suck it up and move on."

But I overlooked something, and that is this: the way a woman presents her physicality to the world around her is a very large part of her essential, characteristic behavior... much more so than with men, or boys. We males are much more unconscious of our physical appearances, because culture does not judge us anywhere near as much, or as intensely, on that basis. Men are judged largely on their actions and their behavior, and yes, we have to adhere to the dress code at work and appearances are important in certain situations. But personal appearance is much much more important for a woman than it is for a man. So, again... how a woman presents herself to the people around her, is something that says far, far more about her essential character than the equivalent behavior in a man.

When a guy opens a comic and sees Superman, Batman, Iron Man, or Thor whipping around the panels in absurdly unrealistic, skintight materials that cannot possibly exist in the reality we all share (and that, despite being skintight, generally do not show off sexual anatomical details to any great extent, because most comics artists are male and the idea of drawing Spider-Man's package makes them vaguely queasy), we don't think anything of it. We don't care how they dress, because we don't much care how we dress.

Or that's what we tell ourselves, and it's what we (or, at least, I) write condescendingly to the female fans when they get all huffy over Power Girl's giant melons or Black Canary's fishnets or the Huntress in her skank suit. If it doesn't bother us guys that Superman and Batman dress like Chippendale's dancers wearing a coat of paint and have zero body fat, why can't you girls just roll with it when Sue Storm parades around in a layer of blue saliva with a big 4 stretched between her constantly erect areolas? C'mon! It's the same thing!

However, even as I typed this, I realized it was all bullshit. Why? Well...

In the late 1970s, Legion of Superheroes fanboys rose up as one in disgusted revulsion, shaking our fists at the skies while averting our eyes in appalled nausea from the horror that was Mike Grell's Cosmic Boy costume. That's it, on the right, behind Superboy. It looks like Cosmic Boy broke into Tim Curry's dressing room during the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and ran off with some of Dr. Frank N. Furter's extra wardrobe. It made us all, as one, reach for the closest receptable we could vomit into.

That Grell has an interesting point of view on human sexuality can be seen from these other two covers of his from this time period I found after a brief hunt on the Internet. Did guys, in general, enjoy seeing other men, especially gigantic burly black men with huge... er... afros... depicted in this kind of sissyboy leathergear? Fuck no we did not.

It would seem, then, that this idea I keep setting forth... namely, that getting all pissy about the constant sexualization in comic books of one's own gender is just a crazy chick thing, and they need to get over it... this would seem to require a little more thought. Because, as the above covers and my outraged response to them at the time... a response echoed throughout Legion fandom... show inarguably, guys get just as upset when characters of their gender are depicted as blatant sex objects, as girls do.

So why is it so hard for us -- why has it been so hard for me, anyway -- to understand that women respond to Huntress in her skank outfit, or Power Girl in her absurdly skintight leotard with no support garment underneath it for the biggest goddam rack since Dolly Parton's, in much the same way I used to respond to Mike Grell's Cosmic Boy outfit?

I don't know. I really don't know. I guess I just haven't wanted to face up to it, and I think I probably owe female fandom assembled a thirty year long apology for it.

All this is exacerbated by the fact that the original blog entry by Willow is entirely correct when she points out, as I have reiterated above, that women are far more careful about, and far more conscious of, the appearance they present to the world around them, than men are. Us guys generally really don't care how we dress, unless we have some pragmatic reason to do so -- our boss will send us home to change if we wear our HULK sweatshirt to work, our girlfriend will break up with us if we wear that goddam twenty year old, ripped and frayed and faded RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK t-shirt out to the mall with her one more time, etc. Women, on the other hand, are generally much more aware of how they look at any given time, because they've been judged on it since birth. And they've been taught to judge other women on their own appearances, too, and they do it as unthinkingly as we all breathe.

So, when a female comics fan opens up an issue of BIRDS OF PREY, a comic that is supposed to be about some strong, competent, independent superheroines who take no shit from anybody, and they see athletic martial artist type women whose entire profession is based around physical combat with (generally) bigger, bulkier, nastier men, and these women are dressed like strippers in ridiculously tight non-existent fantasy fabrics, fishnet stockings, and high heeled thigh high boots that an Olympic gold medal gymnast would have trouble tottering across a room in, much less highkicking some thug through a wall while encumbered by... it bothers them. 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. That last bit I really didn't get until just now, as I contemplate how I would feel if I opened an issue of AVENGERS or JLA, and discovered that Mike Grell had redesigned all the male characters' costumes, and they were all now wearing black leather skintight Speedos with black leather high heeled thigh high boots and criss crossing chest chains. Would I scream my head off? Would a hundred thousand fanboys scream right along with me? I believe we would.

And, again, it can't be stressed enough -- what I learned from Willow's post is that to women, this is even more important than it is to men. Women grow up in a world where they are judged on their appearance far more constantly, and far more intensely, than men are. How a woman dresses, how she styles her hair, how much of her body she puts on display, how much and what kind of make up she wears... all of these things are extremely meaningful to herself, and to other women. They say something important, not just about what the woman looks like, but about what kind of person she is.

No woman, not anywhere, not in all of human history, has ever dressed the way every costumed superwoman in superhero comics routinely and unthinking and apparently unconsciously does. No real human woman has ever so routinely displayed her body to such an absurdly unbelievable degree as characters like Catwoman, Power Girl, Huntress, Colleen Wing (in the new HEROES FOR HIRE book) or the Wasp do nearly every minute of every day of their lives, especially while fighting for their lives against lethally superpowerful opponents. Strippers dress like superheroines do, but they do it for about two minutes at a time on stage in a highly artificial setting while in the process of disrobing, and they do it because they get paid (a LOT) for the service. Nobody in comics has ever even jokingly suggested that Tigra, Crystal, or the Valkyrie actually get paid to constantly flaunt their gigantic bosoms, and in many cases, perpetually erect nipples, to everyone around them all the time... and yet, they do. They do it constantly.

Why do they do it? Because fanboys buy comics and, for the past several generations at least, fanboys have also drawn comics, and fanboys like to see that stuff and presumably fanboys enjoy penciling and inking it, too.

But what this means is that when a woman reads a comic, the characterization of all the female characters in that comic -- at least, all the young, pretty, glamorous ones -- is completely wrong, on a subtle but fundamental level they cannot get away from. Women are no more enamored of seeing every representative of their gender depicted in a blatantly sexualized way then we men are when an artist like Mike Grell does it to male characters, and where we guys can and do simply assume this is a case of artistic stupidity and never once feel like it somehow reflects on Cosmic Boy's behavior (we seem to simply preconsciously assume Cosmic Boy would never actually dress like that if the artist didn't make him do it), for women it's different. They do not simply shut off their emotions and move past the appearances of the female characters in the comics, because to them, how a woman dresses is deeply reflective of what that woman is like as a person.

If the Huntress and the Black Canary go out to fight crime dressed like hookers, well, a female reader cannot help but feel that they are probably skanks in real life. 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.

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 regret to say, until I read Willow's blog entry last night, and until I reflected further on it while typing this today, and recalled Mike Grell's horrific Cosmic Boy costume from the 1970s, I really didn't get this at all.

I don't know what can be done about it, though. It seems to me that as long as fanboys are predominantly drawing and buying superhero comics, women in those comics will continue to be portrayed as pretty much visual fodder for adolescent male wet dreams. The only real solution would seem to be involving more women in the creation of superhero comics... and getting more women to buy superhero comics, as well.

Right now, the fangirl segment of superhero comics readership is comparatively tiny, and comics companies, and creators, pretty much disregard its collective voice with impunity. Until more women start buying superhero comics, this isn't going to change. Although I suppose... hmmm. You know, every superhero comics fangirl pretty much has to know at least ten superhero comics fanboys. And superhero comics fanboys tend to be pretty eager to please any female of any sort who pays any attention to them (us) at all. If all the fangirls started to speak as eloquently to all the fanboys they know as Willow did on her blog... hmmmm...