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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘dc comics’

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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Where the Wonder Women Are: #10 Batwoman

Monday, July 30th, 2012

HAPPY BATWEEK!

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!

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Friday Links Didn’t Burn Any Bras

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Eh, I’ve been trying and failing to write an essay about how often women (fictional and otherwise) end up being shamed, dismissed or hurt in the name of feminism, but it’s tangling me up in knots, so I’m going to stop now and do something productive instead.

Hoyden talk about the myth of the bra-burning feminists, an idea which has been used to try to make women look stupid for decades, and how the false story was spread.

The Moffat’s Women series continues on Tor, with a comparison between the main female character in this Christmas special and last year’s. I find it very interesting how quickly people have leaped to criticise Moffat for writing a story in which the mother is the hero, so this article made me happy.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s response
to the post we linked to in Galactic Suburbia about the wealth of positive girl heroes in YA right now.

One that I meant us to discuss on GS but forgot at the last minute (sorry, Sean!) – Sean the Blogonaut surveys his reading after a year of trying to change his reading habits, genderwise.

Linda Nagata talks about her rationale for self publishing rather than going back to big publishers.

The ever awesome Mary Beard comments on the latest salacious media drama about Ancient Romans and brothels. Yes, really. As ever, her pragmatism wins the day.

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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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Fighting Crime at Christmas

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

via Tumblr, art by Mike Maihack

Tumblr ate my Friday Links

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Well, Tumblr and Nanowrimo are joint culprits, I think. I’m about 500 posts behind on my blog reading for the week, so no Friday links today!

Instead, I give you FESTIVE FRIDAY LINKS IN PICTURES!

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More on DC’s New 52, Wonder Woman and other Issue 2s

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

I was linked by @preciousthings on Twitter to this great article which introduced me to comicbookGRRRL.  Here, she blogs about the criticism that female bloggers receive when tackling issues to do with women on any geeky subject, and why blogging about comics is important to her.  From there I also found her massive “Women in New 52” review which I enjoyed because she had some refreshingly different opinions on some of the comics than I’ve read elsewhere. In particular, her discussion of the bits she liked about the new Catwoman comic (such as the way the expression of Selena’s personality through action, and especially her friend/fence Lola) and her later comparison between how sexuality is portrayed in Catwoman vs. how it is portrayed with Starfire in Red Hood and the Outlaws.  She also loved some comics I hated, was indifferent to some I really liked, and so on. Good stuff!

Which reminded me that I have forgotten to update reviews on the other #2s I have read in the last two weeks.  Ooops!

 

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Wonder Woman’s Daddy Issues

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

It’s disappointing to hear that DC Comics, which released a rebooted Wonder Woman #1 to great acclaim only a few weeks again, have got it so wrong again, and so quickly. According to previews of issue #3, Diana is to discover that she has a long lost father, Zeus.

The reason so many Wonder Woman fans are up in arms about this, is because it directly contradicts her origin story, the one that creators have been working off for the last nearly-70 years or so, in which Diana was formed from clay by her mother, Hippolyta, and brought to life by the Greek goddesses. Taking a character with such a unique beginning, and changing her parentage, is a change akin to deciding Bruce Wayne’s parents didn’t die after all, or that Superman was actually conceived when Martha Kent cheated on Jonathan with Zor-El.

When they relaunched their entire line of comics last month, DC Comics figured it was a good time to break the mold.

“In this case, making her a god actually makes her more human, more relatable,” DC co-publisher Jim Lee said.

“Everybody’s got a father,” [writer] Azzarello said. “Even if he’s not the nicest guy in the world.”

But no, actually. Not everyone has a father. And while there are very interesting stories to be told about superheroes and superheroines and their fathers, there are actually a bunch of those out there already. Batgirl and Batwoman spring to mind. The whole point of Wonder Woman is that she comes from an all-female society, and that she in fact DOES NOT have a father. Her relationship with her mother has been handled differently across the decades, and by different writers, and explored through all manner of permeutations. Hippolyta has been antagonist, rival, replacements, friend, confidante, hero, and of course, Diana’s queen and ruler as well as her mother. Their connection is one of the many interesting things about the mythology surrounding Diana, and the collison of ancient myths and traditions with the modern concerns of “man’s world” is indeed the point of Wonder Woman as a story.

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Friday Links is a Feminist Country

Friday, October 7th, 2011

I found this article about what a (mostly) feminist society that actually exists in the world today really inspiring. I have no idea how to get there from here but oh, I do hope Australia can be Iceland when it grows up! Their social attitudes to female politicians, childcare and the work/life balance make me ridiculously happy.

Meanwhile Bitch Magazine is doing a new blog series which looks at the portrayal of pregnancy, childbirth and early childhood/parenthood in TVland. I have Strong Opinions on this topic, so looking forward to reading what they have to say.

Tehani posted this link about which comic book superheroines deserve their own movies. Which is all very well, but let’s face it, Hollywood has badly let down the female superhero (and not the other way around). I can’t help thinking their stories would be better served by taking visuals out of the equation and going straight to the novel.

So if anyone wants to hire me to write a Huntress novel, I’m available! Or Wonder Woman, come to that…

Gail Simone tweeted this article which looks at two different kinds of representation of race in current DC Comics, comparing the Static Shock approach (he just happens to be black, yanno) with the Firestom approach (actual discussion of racial issues in the text). It’s a thoughtful piece, and I think demonstrates that both approaches have value, and it’s important to have both kinds of representation of race in stories – if all stories with characters of colour were about race, or all stories with characters of colour were NOT about race, we would have a real problem.

I do love it when people point out that these things are not either/or!

Jo Anderton, whose debut novel Debris (Angry Robot) I loved when she sent it to me for blurbage (it’s about magical architects! and magical garbage collectors! And it has technology mixed in with magic, plus a professional heroine who is flawed and cranky and acquires a TEAM, and has sex without it having to be her true love!) has done an interview over at Rowena’s blog.

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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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