Tag Archives: supergirl

Issue #1: The Adventures of Supergirl

supergirlTitle: The Adventures of Supergirl #1

Writer: Sterling Gates

Artist: Bengal (cover by Cat Staggs)

The Buzz: This digital-first comic is based on the CBS Supergirl series, which provides a whole bunch of in built buzz of its own. More to the point, it’s the cute, fun all-ages Supergirl comic that DC should never NOT have been publishing – given the recognisability factor of Supergirl as a character (my daughter fell in love with her based on an image on a drinking glass), this is the perfect gateway title for young girls to get into comics as a source of adventure stories. Check out this article about how much this comic has been needed.

All You Need To Know: If you’ve watched the pilot of the show (or the extended trailer of same) you pretty much have what you need, and if not this 1st issue is pretty good about covering the basics. Story elements specific to the CBS version of Supergirl include her adopted sister Alex Danvers who works for a covert ops aliens-are-of-interest squad who support and study Supergirl, run by Hank Henshaw. Presumably we’re also going to see the Calista Flockhart interpretation of Cat Grant and ditto for the rest of the office staff, but they’re not in this first issue.

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Superwomen of the Year

girlscouts12015 was a really good year for female superheroes on screen. The rise of the superhero genre in cinema over the last 15 years, and the momentum of that success, from the X-Men through the Grimdark Batmans to the dominating force of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has been dogged with a lot of… well, problematic gender issues.

Let’s be clear here, problematic gender issues have always gone hand in hand with the superhero genre, no matter the medium. A lot of the ‘ow, just got punched in the face’ gender problems of cinematic or TV adaptations from the comics are reproduced directly from the original source material – and it doesn’t help that while comics themselves have been developing new, diverse and interesting modes of storytelling that are far more inclusive of women, people of colour, alternative sexualities etc, the media adaptations often reach first for the original, very white, very male-centred versions of the stories.

(The only second generation super hero to make it to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a ‘first’ movie, for example, was Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man who was amiable enough, but so generic a character that I kept mistaking him for Chris Pratt whenever he put the mask on)

Still, we can’t blame it all on Seventies Stan Lee. Hollywood and TV production being what it is, modern media has a way of punching female audiences in the face in new, interesting and entirely canon-non-compatible ways. Women get fridged in new and interesting ways. The Phoenix Saga ends with Jean Grey’s sacrifice being 99% about Wolverine, because Hugh Jackman is the breakout star of those movies. Rogue’s storyline is literally excised from the most recent X-Men movie, even though there are enough fans to justify releasing a secondary DVD that still includes her. Gritty Batman Trilogy creates an original love interest only to horribly murder her in order to accentuate Bruce Wayne’s Man Pain. The first seasons of the TV adaptations of The Arrow and the Flash go to extraordinary lengths to prevent Laurel Lance and Iris West being useful, trustworthy or likeable, because future love interests don’t have to be real people. The plot of Ant-Man actually revolves around the way that women are overlooked in superhero stories. Gamora gets called a whore, in a line that contradicts the established characterisation of Drax, in order to get a cheap laugh.

Ahem. But. But. In all this, with all the problems, the movie and TV adaptations have managed to bring some iconic and legendary figures to the screen. And… it does feel like it’s getting better. If progress has been made in this pop culture battle about treating female characters with respect, then it feels like it happened in 2015.

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Get Your Cape On! (at Super Hero High)

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Hippolyta let out a big sigh—the one that mothers reserve for their children when they have so much to say but can’t get it all out.

“My dearest daughter,” she said, her voice softening. “You were born to be a leader. You have royalty in your blood. Stay here, and someday you will rule Paradise Island and be Queen of the Amazons, just like me.”

Now it was time for Wonder Woman to be silent. She breathed deeply before saying, “Mother, I love and admire you. But when I grow up, I want to be just like me.”

[excerpt from Wonder Woman At Super Hero High, by Lisa Yee, coming in 2016]

One of my pet rants over the ten eleven years that I have been a mother is the exclusion of women (as characters and audience) from superhero merchandise – and other toys like LEGO which have been traditionally marketed only to boys.

The main reason this is a problem? Kids play with toys, and the toys available to them shape the games they play and the way they see the world. At a time when the superhero concept is at an all time marketing high, it’s a problem that girls have been shown that they don’t get to be superheroes. It’s an equal and overlapping problem that boys have been shown that girls aren’t worthy of being superheroes.

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Friday Links is Holding Out For A Hero

4794879-patsy_walker_aka_hellcat_1_coverIt’s been all Jessica Jones all week for me!

Here are this week’s episode reviews, which cover Episodes 6-11:

Jessica Is Her Own Worst Enemy
Jessica Jones Wants You To Do The Hero Thing
Jessica Jones Takes Control (9-10)
Patsy’s Gonna Save You, Jessica Jones (11)

There’s been some other fantastic critical writing about Jessica Jones since the series dropped on Nov 20:

Jessica Jones is a Primer on Gaslighting, and How to Protect Yourself Against It (by Emily Asher-Perrin, at Tor.com)
Jessica Jones Was An Awesome Origin Story For One Of Marvel’s Oldest Heroes (on Patsy Walker/Hellcat, by James Whitbrook at i09)
What Rape Apologists need To Learn From Jessica Jones (by Natalie Zutter at Tor.com)
Yes, There Is A Kilgrave Fandom — And Here’s Why I’m Not Condemning It (by Maddy Myers at the Mary Sue)

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Friday Links is Watching July Disappear into the Distance

batgirlnewHey July! You and I had a lot of stuff to get done, didn’t we? How are we going with that, then? July? JULY DON’T LEAVE ME, IT’S TOO SOON!

Ahem. It’s been a busy month. Yesterday was Alexandre Dumas’ birthday, and I spent a good chunk of it writing 1000 words of sports commentary for an imaginary sport I made up for Musketeer Space. It allowed me to channel some deeply held misery that has been lurking in my heart since Cesc Fabregas signed with Chelsea. LET US NEVER SPEAK OF IT. Part of the commentary will appear in Chapter 16 (yes I’m that far ahead!), and the rest will be published in a future issue of the Musketeer Space newsletter of extra content that I send out for Patreon supporters of the $3 per month level and above.

In the mean time, links! I haven’t been as linky lately, and I’m sorry for those of you who miss it as a regular feature of the blog. It may be a phase. Anyway, I have several weeks to catch up on, so here we go!

I appeared on the SF Signal podcast talking about Space Opera – it was super fun!

An interesting post was doing the rounds on my various social media spots today, explaining exactly why Australia Post is suffering so badly at a time when Australians are using online shopping so much more than ever before (and the effect this is having on our book industry).

I’m a bit excited about the upcoming Batgirl relaunch, mostly because it looks like DC are finally trying to aim the comic at young women, and moving it away from the grimdark sensibility that is an unfortunate factor in ALL Bat-related books these days. But no one is more excited about Batgirl’s cool new outfit than Supergirl!

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What Geek Girls Wear (Is None of Your Business)

Superheroes are hot right now. So hot, in fact, that some of the merch (occasionally) gets targeted at girls.

When sparkly pink and black retro Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman t-shirts first turned up in the girls section of Target a couple of years ago, I bought them for my daughter Raeli because I thought they were awesome. Luckily, she agreed with me, and they came at the beginning of a long and fun (and occasionally frustrating) journey of discovering comic book heroes together.

For the next year, though, the only superhero t-shirts I found were “for boys” and though I grabbed a couple I thought she would like, she immediately recognised the dark blue and black code as not being “for her” and rejected them. (she has since got over this and I suspect still regrets the loss of the awesome plain black Batsymbol t-shirt that her younger sister wore as a dress for 3 years because it was enormous on her)

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Friday Links Meets House

I’m excited that the new Sarah Rees Brennan novel was released this week – her gothic girl-detective-meets-house YA Unspoken, and as far as I know (Schroedinger’s PO Box, anyone?) I might already have my copy!

Sarah has wound up her two series of blog essays, Gothic Tuesday and Sleuth Thursday (sob! I’ll miss them!) with a parody of Northanger Abbey. Yes, she parodies the parody. She has no shame!

ELEANOR: Oh Catherine, great to see you. Look, I was wondering if you might come pay me a visit at my home in Northanger Abbey. I know my dad’s a little weird and the house is a little Gothic and creepy, but–
CATHERINE: Did you say Gothic and creepy? I’m there. I’m there with eldritch bells on.
ELEANOR: Oh, fantastic! You may be interested in our antique furniture–
CATHERINE: Ghastly skeletons!
ELEANOR: –we have a very nice shrubbery…
CATHERINE: I hope there’s a nun who got buried alive!
ELEANOR: –also our roses always get first prize at the flower show—
CATHERINE: Can’t wait!
ELEANOR: Sometimes I worry we’re having conversations in two different dimensions.
CATHERINE: Maybe there’s an interdimensional portal to a demon realm at your place!

Sarah also talks about the central concept of her novel over at John Scalzi’s The Big Idea. But enough pluggery, let’s get some linkitude under our belts.

This one’s for my friends on Twitter discussing the ‘maternal driveby’ and how many people (often complete strangers) like to get in the face of a pregnant or new mother: a hilarious article at McSweeney’s of all places entitled “Hello Stranger On the Street, Could You Please Tell Me How to Take Care of My Baby?”

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Where the Wonder Women Are: #20 Supergirl

My recent immersion in the world of superheroes started in early 2010, with Supergirl. Raeli had taken an interest in the character, based almost entirely on the image on a drinking glass (like Superman, only a girl, what else is there to know?) and I started hunting for some kind of media property that I could stand to share with my 5 year old daughter. One thing I learned very quickly from the feminist comics blogs I followed was that it wasn’t going to be the comic, which featured some pretty skeevy artwork (yep, let’s all peer up the teenage girl’s tiny skirt, shall we and OH apparently female superheroes don’t need all their ribs) and was squarely aimed at men, not young and impressionable girls.

So where else? I had a vague memory that the 80’s Supergirl movie had been fairly dreadful but I had loved it, so there was always that. At a pinch.

Finally I decided upon Justice League Unlimited. I’d enjoyed the earlier Justice League cartoon, though not enough to actually buy the DVDs. But it looked like they had a cute, interesting Supergirl character, and so I gave it a punt. Only to discover that in fact JLU was full of all kinds of amazing and well-constructed female characters, and while the Supergirl was indeed spunky and super cute, she didn’t hold a candle to Black Canary, Huntress and Wonder Woman.

Luckily for me, Raeli embraced female superheroes as a whole, and we started out on a long and crazy journey of discovery together. It’s been super fun. And the massive pile of JLU lady action figures I acquired from eBay didn’t hurt at all.

This week, while doing a bit of covert pre-Christmas detective work (as you do) I asked both Raeli (now nearly 8!) and her recently 3-year-old sister Jem which they preferred, Batgirl or Supergirl. To be frank, I assumed that at least ONE of them would pick Batgirl. They’re both thoroughly Bat-obsessed, after all. Raeli has just received the LEGO Batcave she saved her pocket money up for six months, and Jem regularly dresses up as Batman and insists on being called that.

But no, they both immediately picked Supergirl. Which not only put a serious spanner in my Christmas present buying plans, it made me think. What is it about this character that makes her so compelling that she gets to be the best, the favourite, of little girls everywhere, based on a variety of wildly differing properties?

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Earth 2 and World’s Finest: the Power Girl/Huntress Revamp

Two new DC comics launched in the last week or so, and they were the ones I had been hanging out for: World’s Finest, in which Huntress and Power Girl are refugees from an alternate version of reality, trying to get home; and Earth 2, the story of what happened in that alternate reality after a war that wiped out Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman (and the loss at the same time of Robin and Supergirl, who of course… are busy in their own comic, calling themselves Huntress and Power Girl).

So how did they stack up?

I did enjoy World’s Finest greatly – the concept of the comic is fantastic, the pacing and dialogue are excellent, and there’s nothing in there yet that makes my inner feminist want to set fire to things. As with many fans of Power Girl and Huntress, I found the reading experience a bit unsettling, because of having to get used to these different versions of the characters, who are now all that we get. But this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do that.

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