Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘batman’

Where the Wonder Women Are – #13 Robin

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Robin the Boy Wonder is the best-known Batman sidekick character, though it’s probably fair to say that most casual Batman fans aren’t quite aware how many of them there have been. Yes, more than three!

The original Robin, orphaned acrobat Dick Grayson, was portrayed as a teenager and young adult who had been adopted by Batman. He eventually outgrew the sidekick role, taking on his own superhero identity as Nightwing. His successors Jason Todd and Tim Drake had radically different personalities – Jason Todd was a street kid with a bad attitude who was so unpopular that when given the chance, comics fans voted overwhelmingly that he should be killed off, while Tim Drake represented Batman’s smarter side, a well-adjusted geek with great computer and information processing skills, who eventually, like Dick Grayson, left Batman’s side to become his own hero. (He’s currently known as Red Robin) The latest Robin, Damien Wayne, is Batman’s young and slightly sociopathic son to villainess Talia Al Ghul, who has been raised both evil and snarky.

While the public perception of Robin is that of a boy sidekick to the Dark Knight, there have actually been several young women who have also taken that role, though usually in alternate timelines, or for brief periods of time. It’s an important story to tell, in the context of women in comics, because of the very different ways in which Girl Wonders have been treated both by Batman and by DC Comics.


Where the Wonder Women Are: #12 Huntress

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

The original Huntress, Paula Brooks, was a super-villainess in the very early Golden Age of comics, but she’s not the character who is mostly associated with that name, and indeed her name was later retroactively changed to ‘the Tigress’ to save on confusion.

As I mentioned in the post on Catwoman, the real Huntress was a character who had her origins in Earth 2 in the 1960’s. The DC Comics multiverse allowed them to tell a variety of stories outside the main continuity, and Earth 2 was notable not only for preserving older and less fashionable versions of particular characters (such as the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, or the Golden Age Black Canary, Dinah Drake) but also for allowing characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to age naturally, marry their sweethearts and have children of their own instead of remaining static as those in the main continuity often did.


Where the Wonder Women Are: #11 Catwoman

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Currently prowling around on stiletto (actual knife) heels on the big screen in The Dark Knight Rises, Catwoman is probably second only to Wonder Woman when it comes to female characters from superhero comics who have an iconic, recognisable status outside the world of comics readers. As with Wonder Woman, this is helped along quite considerably by a 1960’s TV show, a series of sexy outfits, and a whole bunch of nostalgia, though Catwoman also has the benefit of several appearances in big budget films over the last twenty years.

Catwoman has been played on screen by many different actresses, including Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfieffer, Halle Berry and Anne Hathaway. But while the television and Hollywood versions of Catwoman are often almost entirely different from each other, you can also see some pretty dramatic differences in the way she, her story and her costume are presented in the comics.

Catwoman, AKA Selena Kyle, first appeared in Batman comics in 1940, as a glamorous cat burglar who led Batman a merry dance. Her femme fatale status was helped along by a design based on images of Jean Harlow and Hedy Lamarr, though it has to be admitted that her first crimefighting costume, involving an actual furry cat mask, was less than seductive. She soon made up for that, committing her crimes in a designer purple evening dress and cape, and sighing breathily at Batman whenever he looked like getting tough with her. Wielding a whip, this classy bad girl intrigued Batman, and he would at times deliberately let her escape.


Where the Wonder Women Are: #10 Batwoman

Monday, July 30th, 2012


Batman is one of the most popular and iconic superheroes of all time, and while the version of the character we see today is usually portrayed as a gravelly-voiced loner, he’s a loner with a whole bunch of people in his life. Gotham City and Batman’s personal community have spawned a huge number of characters who are vivid and interesting, and have taken on lives of their own beyond the Batman titles. Not only do his sidekicks have a habit of growing up and developing their superhero identities as they age, but so do the villains, cops and random strangers who cross his path.

It’s like he’s walking around in one big dark violent dimly lit soap opera.

One of the side benefit of the rich and detailed Batverse is that a large number of interesting female characters have arisen in Gotham City. Like Wonder Woman herself, these women are not always written awesomely, and are not always drawn awesomely, and sometimes they’re not even allowed to be fully dressed in public, and yet somehow they ALL manage to be awesome.

Even the ones created purely for the animated series.

There are indeed so many that I could write about nothing but women of Gotham City for a month or more. Which I won’t do. At least, not this month. But because of all the mask and name swapping that goes on in this city, and the way that so many of their stories and identities are intrinsically wrapped up in each other, I wanted to tackle a particular group all at once, in one glorious Batweek. So this week I’ll be looking at Batwoman, Catwoman, Robin, Huntress and Batgirl. Which actually adds up to about 75 separate people, so it’s enough to be going on with.

Here we go!


Friday Links are Slightly Feverish

Friday, July 20th, 2012

I have crawled from my sick bed to bring you these links. Well, it’s not a bed, it’s a chair. And frankly not that comfortable. But I am still posting Friday links because I’m not good for much else today. *eyes novel-in-progress sadly*

For a start, I forgot to tell you all that the Doctor Who in Conversation blog series with me, David & Tehani has gone audio – we have done our first podcast, looking at Spearhead from Space (1970) after both David and Tehani watched it for the first time.

I’m kind of loving the Comic-Con coverage this week, and how those of us stuck home get to experience some of the panels, vids and other program items. Such as the Futurama panel, the Community gag reel, the Firefly reunion and so on. Also, adorable child cosplay and Doctor Who revelations!

The Mary Sue updates us on Sarah Robles, US weightlifting Olympian, and which company brought some serious sponsorship to her party.


Elsewhere on the Internet: Queer Themes and Crossovers

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

The internet is a wide and expansive jungle and I am once again popping up in unexpected places!

Julia Rios interviewed me for the Outer Alliance Podcast
– it is a long, sprawling conversation taking in the secret history of Galactic Suburbia, Australian geography and how that relates to the spec fic scene here, and (eventually) the queer themes in my work, especially the Creature Court trilogy and the collection Love and Romanpunk. Talking to Julia was so much fun! I just want to reach into my laptop and bring her to Australia for a holiday with all her favourite podcasting peeps.

Julia tells it like it is. The geographic tragedy that is Galactic Suburbia.

Meanwhile, in another part of pixel-space, I get to appear on my first MindMeld! The theme for this one is what crossovers we would most like to see, and it’s full of fun & creative ideas. I get bonus points for not mentioning to them that my favourite ever wacky real life crossover was the fanfic I read about how Xander from Buffy hooks up with Batman and hijinks ensue, right? Right??

Life with a Miniature Batgirl

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Hot evening, nearly-seven-year-old daughter to entertain.

Me: How about we watch that animated Batman movie you got for Christmas?
Him: Okay.
Daughter: Yay, Batman!

*family starts Batman Year One*

–Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham
–Lieutenant Gordon gets beaten up in street
–screen fills up with thugs and (underage) hookers

Me: Starting to think this film is not in fact appropriate for nearly-seven-year-olds
Him: Most definitely

*family examines DVD case*

Me & Him: Oh, crap, M Rated!

*lunge for DVD, turn it off*
*daughter wails with disappointment*
*we explain why M rated means not appropriate for nearly-seven-year-olds*
*we put on other animated Batman episode which is far more appropriate, with icecream to help daughter through the transition*

Me (guiltily): I think I just remembered that Batman: Year One was originally written by Frank Miller
Him: That explains a lot.

And this is why checking the film rating is sometimes not a bad idea, the end.

Galactic Suburbia Episode 50 is up!!

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Hard to believe we’ve made it to 50 episodes. Of course the alternative is that we stop talking, and that would never happen! Sadly we didn’t eat cake, but we did namecheck Joanna Russ at least once, so that’s almost the same thing, right?

You may eat cake while you listen to it, if you want to. If you do, you know we want to hear about it!

Check out EPISODE 50 now!

In which we leap happily back and forth (with occasional ranting) over those fine lines between feminist critique and anti-female assumptions, plus share our bumper collection of holiday culture consumed. Happy New Year from the Galactic Suburbia crew!


Hugo nominations open and we’re gonna have our say

Aqueduct Press to publish Brit Mandelo’s thesis, “WE WUZ PUSHED: On Joanna Russ & Radical Truth-telling”!

Islamic superhero comic turned animated series The 99 to screen in Australia (ABC3)

Amanda Palmer’s wedding post

Great piece on how the very idea of ‘Mary Sue’ is sexist, ties into this episode’s theme about the criticism of female characters.

The wealth of powerful girl heroes in today’s YA


Alisa: Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal; The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (with cover art by Kathleen Jennings); The Vampire Diaries; Primeval; The 99; Planetary; Homeland and Boxcutters.

Alex: The Double Life of Alice Sheldon, Julie Phillips; Changing Planes, Ursula le Guin; Perchance to Dream, Lisa Mantchev; Twilight Robbery, Frances Hardinge; Chronicles of Chrestomanci vol 1, Diana Wynne Jones. DOA and Going Postal

Tansy: The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman; Beauty Queens, Libba Bray; Snuff by Terry Pratchett, Going Postal (TV) – Batman (animated) & My First Batman Book by David Katz, David Tennant & Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing (DIGITAL THEATRE DOWNLOAD AWW YEAH).

Please send feedback to us at galacticsuburbia@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter at @galacticsuburbs, check out Galactic Suburbia Podcast on Facebook and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you love us!

On False Equivalence

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Detective Comics #1, Action Comics #1, Hawk & Dove #1 [DC Reboot Reviews]

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Yeah so I think I need to learn from this week that reading the half of your comics haul that you’re most excited about first is not necessarily a good thing.

Or maybe I learned that I need to only buy the comics I actually care two pins about.

Action Comics #1
written by: Grant Morrison
pencils by: Rags Morales

Man this was a dull comic. Possibly one of the dullest Superman comics I’ve ever read. In the end I was reduced to counting women (one elderly but surprisingly chatty landlady and a belated appearance by Lois Lane) and saying, really? A train speeding out of control? Is that what the cool kids are putting in comics now? Because I’m pretty sure it was done better in Spiderman II…

This is the trouble with cutting away all the baggage and history of current characters, but not actually doing anything new with them. Superman in blue jeans is less interesting than when Cassie in Tiny Titans chose jeans instead of a traditional costume. Yes, I am comparing this comic to Tiny Titans, because that is what I read to cheer myself up afterwards!


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