Tag Archives: women in comics

Issue #1 – Convergence Special – Oracle, JLI, Batgirl

ConvergencePromo_blog_545ac8f60bc3f7.39159954A slightly different Issue #1 review this time – because DC Comics have exploded with a multitude of #1s of the like unseen since the New 52 revamp. I hate a massive sprawling comics event as much as anyone else (seriously, does anyone enjoy these?) but the premise for this one had me at “Nightwing and Oracle,” so…

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? DC Comics have taken a two month break from continuity to tell a story that involves sneak peeks into that multiverse they’ve been struggling to distance themselves from since 1985. So they’ve thrown out all their regular comics and instead are telling one core ‘event’ book, orbited by a bunch of two-issue mini series which are designed to a) hit us in our nostalgia wallets, which are much like ice cream stomachs, apparently of endless capacity & b) remind us of all the great characters that DC Comics threw under the bus with the New 52 reboot.

DC if your aim here is to make us extra trepidatious about what the hell Marvel is going to do with its own universe reboot later this year, then good job. Well done there.


I actually really love multiverse stories, and DC’s use of them is probably at least partly responsible for it. But is this a good multiverse story?

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Issue #1 – Spider-Woman (2014)

spider-womanTitle: Spider-Woman #1 [AKA this Spider-quest brings all the Spider-Gals to the Spider-yard]

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist: Greg Land

The Buzz: Mostly the buzz around this comic was the negative kind – because the awesomeness of having a Spider-Woman solo title was marred somewhat by a ridiculous, over-sexualised cover of epic butt-contortion proportions (not shown, no longer used as the default for this comic). Other than that, this is part of the current Spiderverse crossover-multiverse event which has mostly generated buzz because of the fabulous “Spider-Gwen” one-shot.

All You Need To Know: Spider-Woman, AKA Jessica Drew, is at times an Avenger, a SHIELD agent, or a private detective. She has nothing to do with Spider-Man except for the similar iconography – her origin is entirely unconnected to his. However, you would not know it from this comic, where there’s some serious universe-hopping going on between all the Spider peeps. Apparently they’re all one big family now. Jessica is awesome and snarky, as is only right and proper for a superhero veteran. Weary sarcasm is always a character hit for me, especially in a female lead character.

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Issue #1 – Thor (2014)

The Marvel comics universe is huge and sprawling and complex – and it’s tricky sometimes to figure out where to hop aboard.

I thought since I’ve been on a comics kick lately, I’d do some short reviews of some Issue 1s I’ve tried out lately, of new or recently relaunched Marvel series. Come window shop the superheroes with me!

Thor-1-Comic-Release-DateTitle: THOR #1 [AKA Crankypants Odin gets Pwned by his Spectacular Wife]

Writer: Jason Aaron

Art: Russell Dauterman

The Buzz: This one got a lot of promo attention because of the whole THOR IS A LADY NOW aspect of the book.

All You Need To Know: Marvel comics Thor is mostly a storybook version of Thor from Norse myths. Odin is his dad, Loki is his brother, etc. This Thor has also been an Avenger for decades. His hammer is called Mjolnir, and Odin once cast a spell on it so that only those worthy of the power of Thor could lift it. Turned out, that was a dick move. But that’s Odin for you.

Story: We don’t actually find out who the new (lay-dee) Thor is in this issue. What we get is depressed, miserable Original!Thor on the moon while his family and friends explain what happened in a previous Marvel event: someone whispered something in his ear, he’s not worthy any more… eh. What’s fascinating is that no one now seems to be worthy. His friends, many of whom have wielded Mjolnir before, can’t lift the hammer off the surface of the moon. Turns out Odin can’t either and he is EXTREMELY PISSED ABOUT THIS.

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That Captain America Movie (and that imaginary Black Widow movie)

falcon-character-poster-for-captain-american-the-winter-soldierI didn’t expect to start caring about Captain America. Even when I started getting seriously into the reading of Marvel comics (something I’ve only been doing this decade as opposed to DC comics which first captured me back in the early 90’s), he was never a character that interested me.

It probably didn’t help that I read the Ultimates pretty early on, which didn’t just have the effect of ruining me for the ‘real universe’ versions of Nick Fury and the Wasp (just not as good), but also set in my mind that Captain America was a bit of a dick, really.

Reading the Civil War run of comics didn’t actually change my mind on that, so it’s not just the Ultimate universe’s fault. Like Superman, Captain America has a long history behind him of being the straightest guy in straight town, and it’s hard to get invested in that as a character.

And let’s face it, I met the Justice League parody of Captain American, General Glory, two decades earlier. I was never going to be able to take him seriously. (the one where Power Girl ends up trapped back in time as the replacement for Bucky/Ernie? Priceless)

The first Captain America movie was okay, but I was mostly in it for Peggy Carter. It was in The Avengers that I really started warming up to Cap, as the man out of time who doesn’t get any of the pop culture references. A brief cameo in Thor 2 (one of Loki’s disguises) made me realise – oh, yes. I like this character.

Then came Captain America 2 – The Winter Soldier. Which I flat out loved. There were so many things to enjoy in this movie! Sadly, the Winter Soldier himself was the least interesting aspect of the story, but I’m okay with that.

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Wonder Woman is Not the Problem

wonderwomanI’ve been meaning to write this for a while.

How often do we hear about The Problem with Wonder Woman?

That one is actually a very pro-Wonder Woman article which addresses many of the sillier myths around The Problem, but the headline makes me crazy and the comments drive me completely round the twist. Because I see that headline, or an equivalent of it, and those comments all the time. Across social media and blogs and at conventions, all I hear are reasons why there isn’t a Wonder Woman movie yet, why there can’t ever be a Wonder Woman movie, despite the fact that she has the most independent brand recognition of any other female superhero ever.

Joss Whedon couldn’t do it, so no one else can.

Her villains are all stupid.

Her origin story is dumb.

The costume is a problem.

Steve Trevor is a problem.

David E Kelley had her sitting on a couch eating ice cream.

No one will write her right (except Joss Whedon).

No actress can play her.

No actress can wear the costume without being attacked by feminists and/or looking silly.

Movies about female superheroes always suck.

Hey didn’t you know she was all about kinky bondage stuff back in the day? Hurr hurr.

Wonder Woman isn’t RELATABLE.

I think Shoshanna at Tor is right on the money with her article – the “problem” with Wonder Woman is that most people don’t know how to deal with an unapologetically feminist character. Writers panic. Executives panic. The way that women in particular are written in Hollywood is so vastly different to the way that superheroes tend to be written, that when the two concepts are combined, fear and cosmetics companies and ice-cream tend to get thrown at the resulting mess until it goes away.

Unless Joss Whedon is doing the writing, but he can’t be everywhere at once, people.

But you know what?

Wonder Woman is not the problem.

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xmen-marvel-oneThe new X-Men series caught my attention because of the all female line-up. All female characters, that is, as both the writer and artist on the series are in fact male. Intriguing then that it’s the female editor of the series, Jeanine Schaefer, who has been doing the promotional rounds to talk up this book.

So far I’ve spotted interviews with Jeanine at Bitch, The Mary Sue and Jezebel.

For a start, this tells me that Marvel are actually interested in getting the attention of a female readership as well as the ‘default male’ comics fans, which is rather nice to see. It doesn’t hurt that the awesome cover of #1 shows the ensemble cast fully dressed, and posed in reasonably practical and character-specific ways. I kind of love the way they’re all eyeballing the camera with different shades of suspicion and/or friendly challenge.

The interviews with Schaefer are worth reading – she’s obviously very creatively invested in the comic and it’s pretty cool to hear such in depth perspectives from the comics editing side of things – we don’t often get an insight into that world except to some extent through the letters column of any given comic, and considering that there are far more women editing comics than writing or drawing them at the Big Two, it’s pretty cool to see X-Men through Schaefer’s eyes.

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Where the Wonder Women Are: #35 Big Barda

Big barda YayWhen I first met Scott and Barda Free, they were living a life of domestic bliss, occasionally punctuated by explosions and the other side effects of having a superhero in the family. Scott went off to his day job as Mister Miracle, stage escapologist and member of the Justice League International, and Barda stayed home to do the housework.

The twist was, if she wanted to bench press the house, she pretty much could.

This era is often panned by Barda fans, and I can see why – she’s a mighty space warrior, acting out a slightly less sexist (but only slightly) version of Bewitched, with no apparent desires beyond a simple, gender essentialist life as a housewife. She’s often reduced to the role of Her Indoors, hosting a barbecue for Scott and his superhero friends, or nagging him about getting home in time.

When she finally does strap her space armour back on and go into battle, it’s to rescue her husband rather out of a general sense of identity or completion. It could certainly be argued that from a character point of view her, identity revolves entirely around rescuing her husband. Which is… both problematic and awesome? Problamatawesome?

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Where the Wonder Women Are: #34 Molly Hayes/Bruiser of the Runaways

Okay, I have another favourite. Don’t tell Gert! But how can you not love an eleven-year-old who goes by the superhero name Bruiser?

Well, she was Princess Powerful first, but even that is pretty awesome.

Molly is the one element of the Runaways series which makes it a far more morally crunchy story, and helps to take some of the potentially romantic gloss off the running away plot. When the teens discover that their parents are evil – and not just a bit evil, but probably going to sacrifice all of us in their bid to rule the world evil – their first moral quandary is what to do about Molly. She’s one of them, she has to be, but they are all in their mid to late teens, and while running away isn’t a choice they take lightly, it feels like the responsible thing to do.

Choosing to take the eleven-year-old from her parents raises all of the stakes, and a great deal of tension in the story comes from the part that this ragtag bunch of teenagers have dragged the far more innocent Molly along with them. It doesn’t help that Molly doesn’t believe in the evil of their parents, isn’t entirely sure why they are on the run anyway, and pretty much thinks everything is a big fun game.

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Where the Wonder Women Are: #33 Gertrude Yorkes of the Runaways

When I first read my way through Runaways, I enjoyed all the characters from whip-smart Alex and doofy but sweet Chase to the troubled, angsty Nico and the even more troubled, even more angsty Karolina. I loved the feisty little girl that was Molly Hayes, too.

But Gert got me where I live.

You don’t see fat girls in comics very often. You don’t even see average-sized girls, most of the time. The occasional not-stick-thin figure and She-Hulk’s wider than average shoulders are usually the best you can hope for.

But Gert is chubby. She’s round. And she’s pissed off. Her hair is dyed purple, she wears glasses, she’s both Jewish and agnostic, she’s a socialist, she’s snarky as hell and she has HER OWN DINOSAUR. When they are choosing names for themselves so as to distance themselves from their parents, she chooses Arsenic, purely so she can call her dinosaur Old Lace.

[many many spoilers follow]

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Where the Wonder Women Are #32: Karolina Dean of the Runaways

So you think your teen years were tough. Karolina is an alien AND a lesbian. When she and her fellow Runaways discover that their parents are all evil, she has rather more to take in than the rest of them because of the sudden revelation that instead of being the daughter of two famous Hollywood celebrities, she is in far the daughter of two solar-powered alien invaders.

On the bright side, she can fly and shoot rainbows out of her skin. So there’s that!

When we first meet Karolina, she appears to be every bit the stereotype of a Californian blonde – remember Dawn from the Babysitters Club? Karolina is a bit of a hippy, a vegan, a flawless beauty, and the sort of person who generally believes the best of people.

This is a bit of a problem because unlike the other kids, she misses the moment when their parents sacrifice an innocent girl, and then struggles to take their word for it. Later, when the Runaways decide to ransack their various family homes to collect evidence as to the wrongdoings of their parents, Karolina finds a message she is supposed to read in the event of her parents’ deaths: she is to remove the medical alert bracelet she has worn her whole life.

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