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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘catwoman’

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.

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Friday Links is Still Writing Strong Female Characters

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Greg Rucka, like Joss Whedon before him, reveals how he writes female characters that don’t suck, in a medium that has a tendency to treat female characters badly.

This one is separate to an earlier interview with Rucka, reported on by DC Women Kicking Ass, in which he complained about the poor treatment of female superheroes by Hollywood and the comic book world.

Tor.com talks about the evolution of female superheroes in movies, and how they’re finally getting it a bit right with Black Widow and Catwoman.

Cassandra Clare talks about rape myths and why there isn’t one ‘right’ way for a fictional character to deal with sexual assault, just like in real life.

Ben Peek on the appalling “celebrity rehabilitation” of notorious political racist Pauline Hanson through Australian commercial television, and how she’s still being allowed wide media coverage of her white supremacist views.

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2011: A Year in Reading (Graphic Novels Edition)

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m curled up with my family watching the animated adventures of Batman. As you do. It seems oddly appropriate considering how my year in reading ended up!

In September, it looked unlikely that I’d even hit 100 books read this year, let alone equal the 120 books I read in 2010. But then I took an interest in the DC Reboot, and one of my best friends rediscovered comics and started raving about the Ultimate Spiderman, and one thing led to another, and my house spontaneously filled with graphic novels.

So, yes. My total books read for the year is 143. Of which 61 are graphic novels/manga, all but one of which were consumed in the last three months. YEAH BABY.

Let’s talk about those first. I’ll do a separate post about the actual prose books, for those people (cough, Alisa) who aren’t interested in comic books.

My stand out graphic novels/trade paperbacks for the year were:

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Friday Links Without A Princess Are No Friday Links at All

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Funnily enough I have been drawn to links this week that tackle the ‘girl lego’ issue. The one closest to my own opinion & sensibilities is from Wandering Scientist, who points out how badly Lego has skewed “boy” for so long, and that while Lego is aware that boys consider “a castle without a dragon to be worse than no castle at all,” they don’t seem to have the same respect for girls who think a castle without a PRINCESS might be worse than no castle at all.

I also enjoyed reading her post, Princesses are not the Problem, about how she deals with her daughter’s craving for Disney Princess Culture, by allowing it in and working to help her daughter understand there are more options out of there, rather than forbidding it.

Disney princesses are problematic, but I have a similar policy in my house, and I find it frustrating when people automatically criticise pink and girliness as if these are terrible things. My daughter had her pink phase. I didn’t push it on her, but I didn’t kick and scream, either, and now she’s come out the other side and she likes purple and yellow and Batgirl and, yes, Lego. And if she was still super princess-feminine-sparkly-rainbows in her outlook, I’d still be rather fond of her. Kids need choices, and it irritates me beyond all measure when pink is the only choice for girls, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to provide a castle without a princess in it.

(Megabloks, btw, provides a castle with a princess AND a dragon. How is this not the best of both worlds?)

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Lego for Girls

Monday, December 19th, 2011

So, LEGO is going to start including girls. Or, rather, they’re going to try to make up for lost time (market) by pitching directly to girls and their toy preferences, in a separate line, LEGO Friends, from the standard boy sets.

Which is, you know, what they have been doing all along with Belville, a rather grim dystopia of pink cottages, ponies and jodphurs. Only now they’re going to do it in lavender and aqua! There’s a great critical article about the problematic nature of this line at the Mary Sue.

I have mixed feelings. From the Business Week article, it does look like Lego are working hard to look at what girls want and need out of toys, rather than just spraying pink on ponies and hurling it at them, machine-gun fashion. But while I agree that yes, my six year old would probably prefer to play with the LEGO Friends mini-figs that look like real girls instead of little yellow barrels with faces, I’m also concerned that as with Belville, this new line will be an excuse not to be as inclusive as they could be in the standard Lego sets.

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Galactic Suburbia Episode 44

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The new episode is up here! Go, listen.

In which we fight crime, rail against derailing and read a million books.

News

Our Sisters in Crime, Still Fighting
and
Why the Faux Oppressed Whinge

Ada Lovelace Day

Wonder Woman gets a father (yesthisisnews)

Alisa’s news:
Thief of Lives by Lucy Sussex now available as e-book

Tansy’s news: publishing date for Reign of Beasts
and the Creature Court Fashion Challenge Contest

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alex: The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons; Yarn, Jon Armstrong; Thief of Lives, Lucy Sussex; Yellow Blue Tibia, Adam Roberts; The Word for World is Forest, Ursula le Guin; Eyes like Stars, Lisa Mantchev

Tansy: The Courier’s New Bicycle, Kim Westwood; Thief of Lives, Lucy Sussex; Catwoman: Crooked Little Town, by Ed Brubaker; Fablecroft blog series On Indie Press wraps up; Sofanauts interviews Paul Cornell; Two Minute Timelord round-table about Season 6 Doctor Who

Alisa: Doctor Who. Shorts: The Book of Phoenix (Excerpted from The Great Book) – Nnedi Okorafor (Clarkesworld March); Younger Women – Karen Fowler (Subterranean Summer), Valley of the Girls – Kelly Link (Subterranean Summer)

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!

DC Reboot Month 2! JLI #2, Hawk and Dove #2, Stormwatch #2, Huntress #1

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

So it’s the second month of the DC Reboot, and I’m still reading comics. Not quite so many, though!

I’m still reading Justice League International hopefully. I like the art, and there’s potential here, but it feels like the writer is pulling his punches. There are quips aplenty, but not enough character stuff, and in particular neither Fire nor Ice are being given enough to do, still. Vixen is also criminally under used, and after hearing much discussion about how Batwing is set in ‘Africa’ as if that was a country, not a continent, it felt very jarring to have Mari refer to ‘my native Africa’ as if she was not aware of any more specific geographic borders.

On the whole, it has to be said, most of the international elements of this comic are being handled in a very clumsy, steretypical ‘duhhh this is what Americans think the world looks like’ kind of way – so our Russian and Chinese superheroes get to snark at each other like they’re fans of rival football teams, Godiva gets to say those British swear words that Joss Whedon loved so much (it’s funnier if you pretend she has Dick Van Dyke’s accent and indeed dresses up as a chimney sweep on her days off) and so on. Of course, this was always the case with JLI and JLE (do we remember the Beefeater, whose alter ego was John Cleese? Do we remember France???) but at least they made it funny by recognising the silliness, and it helped that they had Wally West there, always willing to send himself up as the worst example of a loud-mouthed tourist.

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Galactic Suburbia Episode 43 Shownotes.

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

The new episode is ready to download here!

EPISODE 43

In which Alisa and Tansy look at crimes against superheroines in the DC Universe, the good and the bad of the companions’ journeys in Doctor Who, and why we love Olivia Dunham and her gun. We also plug our own books (yes really!), Tansy is still reading comics, and Alisa confesses that e-books have broken her brain.

No, seriously, she’s broken now.

News

The WSFA SP shortlist (Tehani wooo!)

Death of Sara Douglass

Catwoman & Starfire – this isn’t what empowerment looks like
i09 on a seven-year-old who loves Starfire and her reaction to the new version of the character: “She doesn’t do anything.”
A great webcomic response to the Starfire issue.
Tansy blogged about it too!

DC Comics, Bunker & the Current State of LGBTQ Superheroes
(Tansy would have commented on how Bunker is portrayed as a gay superhero in the Teen Titans but he wasn’t in the first issue!)

What Culture Have we Consumed?

Alisa: Haven, Fringe S4, Doctor Who Season 4?, Ringer, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, A Taste of the Nightlife by Sarah Zettel and one of my new reading projects

Tansy: The Almighty Johnsons, New 52 (Batgirl, Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Superboy, Blue Beetle); Justice League Generation Lost (Part I), Power Girl: A New Beginning

Pet Subject: Indie and E-books
Twelfth Planet Press Website
Twelfth Planet Press E-Store
Wizard’s Tower Bookstore (yay Cheryl)
Tansy is Rocking the Romanpunk on her blog this week in celebration of the e-release of Love and Romanpunk.

Feedback:
Björn is embarking on a quest to read all women authors for a year – and he needs a catchy title to help this become an awesome internet meme. Can you help him? Send us your suggestions and we’ll think of some prizes for the best ones.

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!

Blue Beetle #1, Wonder Woman #1, Catwoman #1, Supergirl #1 [DC Reboot Reviews]

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Blue Beetle #1
Written by: Tony Bedard
Pencils: Ig Guara

A very likeable re-introduction to Jaime Reyes, the modern Hispanic teenage Blue Beetle. I avoided him for a long time because of my grief and resentment about the death of Ted Kord (NOT SAYING I’M OVER IT) but thanks to Batman: Brave and the Bold I accidentally got introduced to Jaime and I like that his Blue Beetle is completely different to *mine* and that the version I saw in the cartoon was so respectful of the past.

It feels a bit odd having the origin story retold again so soon after Jaime’s Blue Beetle was introduced to the DC Universe, but given that I’ve never read his title before, I’m not complaining – this is a great comic, and we’ve been lacking in nice simple origin stories in the New 52. Not much Blue Beetle as such, but we get a lot of Jaime’s family and school life, and the culture he belongs to. I really like the way that we are getting common phrases of Spanish (is this the same as Hispanic? Help!) thrown into the dialogue so we can learn them, because it constantly reminds me that the story is not for the most part taking place in an Anglo US setting, and it’s great to see a comic marketed at teens which isn’t treating them like idiots. Is it wrong that I kept getting Veronica Mars vibes whenever the cool gang leader friend turned up? That’s probably a wrong thing. Though if that means Jaime gets to be Veronica, that’s pretty cool.

Also, having recently rewatched the Rise of the Blue Beetle and Fall of the Blue Beetle episodes of B:B&B with Raeli, in which Jaime questions whether he deserves to be a hero, having come into his powers by accident (and arguing with his mate about whether Hal Jordan’s origin story meant he was deserving or just plain lucky), it’s cool to see that the circumstances by which he acquires his magical scarab (cue Ted Kord from the grave complaining that no one ever gave him a magical scarab, in his day you had to build your own) are pretty heroic: sure, he lucks out, but he’s in that place because he did something stupidly brave.

Verdict: good stuff, I’m sticking around. And not just in the hopes of a dead Ted cameo. Not even. Maybe a little bit.

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Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Written by Neil Gaiman, pencilled by Andy Kubert, and inked by Scott Williams.

Yep, another one from the Graphic Novels Hugo Packet!

This two-issue mini-series of Batman comics was commissioned to bring the iconic Detective Comics title to a close, and to provide a moment of closure before Batman was once again reinvented for a new audience of readers. Neil Gaiman, who also writes an introduction to this graphic novel, was pretty much given free rein to write whatever he wanted, and he produced what he felt was a story that provided a ‘The End’ for Batman.

The thing that makes characters like Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman so unique is that they don’t ever end – and yet there are countless deaths and alternate futures provided through comics such as the Elseworlds series or even more standard storylines, because when you have a character who lives on forever, ageless and constantly being reinvented, it’s fun to mess with the formula. There’s hardly a character in the DC Universe who hasn’t been killed and brought back, or lost their powers, or in some way been divested of the very elements that make up their character.

Writing ‘the End’ feels like an important thing to do, despite the fact that it has little weight or sense of permanence. The truth is, nothing in a comics universe has weight or permanence. There have been so many reboots, retcons, alternate worlds, dimension-crossings that it’s hard to tap into the kind of emotional resonance that a novelist or screenwriter can summon up by killing off a beloved character.

The beauty of Gaiman’s story is that it acknowledges all these things. It is a very meta story at its heart, that shows a deep love and respect for the long, complex and utterly incomprehensible Batman backstory. The premise is that Bruce (at least, we think it’s Bruce) is witnessing his own funeral – or, rather, that of the Batman. Mourners have gathered from both sides of the law – Batman’s allies and friends, and his worse enemies. One by one, they bear witness to how the Great Detective died.

Bruce has several mysteries to solve. Where is he? How is he able to observe his own funeral? Why does everyone have a different version of his death?

At its heart this is a very simple what if kind of story, but it has some moments of real brilliance. Alfred’s story was really extraordinary, and I loved the focus on the old school Selina Kyle’s Catwoman, a character who for me has never been better than she was in the old 60′s and 70′s comics.

The artwork too, deliberately evokes several different eras of Batman, and there are many lovely touches of nostalgia to balance out a mixture of sentimentality and sharp wit in the script. On the whole this is a very readable story, which anyone could pick up but I think would mean more to those who have traversed some of the many threads of Batman’s history. It’s the first so far from the packet which I have been genuinely tempted to pick up in hard copy, if only for archival reasons.

While I’m sure this makes for a pretty slender graphic novel, being only two issues, it is fleshed out with a whole bunch of value-add content, particularly several Batman universe stories previously written by Gaiman, to which he refers in his introduction. You can see here the progression of his interest in Batman as a concept, though he has never properly “done” Batman before. The best of these is a meta-story about Batman and the Joker hanging out together behind the scenes of the comic, which should be a one page joke and yet manages to be a far more substantial and poignant piece. I also was quite interested in the Poison Ivy origin story, though the Riddler one felt far less effective and well-realised.

So yes, Neil Gaiman can write Batman, and does so rather cleverly. Anyone surprised? I think my favourite ‘end of Batman’ story is still the arc from the animated series Batman Beyond & Justice League Unlimited, but the cleverness of this story makes it almost completely compatible with almost every other version of Batman’s possible future. That’s what is so very clever about it.

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