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CSBG Archive

What I bought – 5 March 2008

Not as many books this week as the past two, and no Grammar Guide, but I’m sure to court controversy in this post with the very first comic review, which contains a gargantuan SPOILER.  You’ve been warned!  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  Plus: The best book on the market gets brutal, a flashback to a great few issues of the Caped Crusader, another fiercely independent comics creator returns, some excellent superhero comics, and Vertigo gives us two phenomenal titles!  What more could you want????  (Except an invitation to call me a moron not once, not twice, but thrice!  Yes, it’s open season on Greg!)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #12 by Drew Goddard (writer), Georges Jeanty (penciller), Andy Owens (inker), Michelle Madsen (colorist), and Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy (letterers).  $2.99, 21 pgs, FC, Dark Horse.

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Okay, let’s talk about Buffy ending up in bed with Satsu the hot Asian chick.  Won’t that be fun?

I have not been reading this series, but someone at the comic book shoppe told me that it featured something dy-no-mite!, so I figured it wouldn’t kill me to read it.  Therefore, I have no idea who Satsu is or what Buffy’s relationship with her was before they ended up in bed.  So, take that into consideration here.

The only part of the book that deals with Buffy and Satsu’s feelings, as opposed to everyone coming into Buffy’s bedroom and reacting to finding them (which is pretty funny (perhaps too funny), especially Xander saying “My burning, beautiful eye”) is on two pages.  The key point, perhaps, is Satsu saying to Buffy, “I know you didn’t just … turn gay all of a sudden …”  Buffy says, “Right” before flipping out because she thinks her performance was poor.  It’s not a badly written scene at all, and kind of captures the reactions of two people who have had sex for the first time and one person is more experienced than the other.  In the case of good old-fashioned sex, I don’t know if Buffy is as experienced as Satsu, but in terms of hawt girl-on-girl action, Satsu definitely knows more.

So: the scene is written well.  But that’s not what bothered me.  It didn’t even bother me that Buffy was getting it on with a chick.  However, what bothered me is the idea that she would.  Again, let me remind you that I haven’t been reading the series and only caught the television show intermittently, when my wife used to watch it.  Has Buffy EVER given any indication that she liked women?  Even when she was matching wits with Eliza Dushku, and every guy in America was hoping SMG and Dushku would stop all the fussin’ and feudin’ and just lock lips?  I don’t know.  But Whedon makes it perfectly clear that Buffy is NOT a lesbian.  It’s not worded particularly strongly, but it’s fairly clear.  So, she’s not a lesbian, but she just happens to have sex with a woman?  That insults my intelligence.

Why?  Well, let’s look at it this way: Scott Summers wakes up next to Kurt Wagner and talks about what a wonderful night of sex they just had.  Immediately we know they’re gay.  There’s absolutely no question about it.  It’s not a case of Scott just needing a shoulder to cry on because Emma went all evil on the X-Men again and the two just happened to have sex.  They’re GAY!  Now, there’s nothing wrong with that – let them be gay if they want to.  Let Buffy be gay if she wants to.  But it seems like Whedon is trying to have his cake and eat it too, not unlike a lot of male writers who think it would be cool for two hot chicks to hook up.  I don’t know Whedon’s stance on sexual orientation.  This scene is implying that he thinks it is indeed a “choice,” and that Buffy and anyone else chooses to be heterosexual, but they can turn it on and off.  Perhaps he does think it’s innate.  In which case, this scene becomes even more problematic.

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My point is (and I do have one!) is that writers like to fantasize about two straight women having sex.  Hell, the porn industry is based on this!  Whedon claims this moment came about through the natural progression of the characters, but that’s bullshit.  Straight women do not have sex with other women as a “natural progression.”  Now, I know people like to talk about younger women “experimenting,” but does anyone have any hard evidence for that?  Anecdotally, I have never met a straight woman who would even consider having sex with another woman.  Unless my wife is lying to me, she had opportunities to have sex with women, and she didn’t … because she’s not gay.  So don’t tell me that you know all these straight women who had sex with women in college just as a phase.  It’s not that I disbelieve people who say that, I just treat it as an urban legend.  Straight women pretend to be interested in other women … because they know men are pigs who will respond like slobbering dogs.  Just like, I would bet, Whedon is hoping men respond to this issue.

I’m a bit angrier about this than I want to be, because it doesn’t really matter.  Buffy can fuck four men and four women at the same time for all I care.  I’m just saying that you NEVER see two men end up in bed together unless it’s been pretty well established that they’re gay.  This smacks of a crass move by Whedon and Goddard, because they take such pains to point out that Buffy isn’t gay.  They want the titillation of having Buffy do the nasty with a hot Asian chick (and how’s that for a cliché?) but they don’t want to alienate anyone too much.  Fuck that, gentlemen.  This scene is beneath everyone involved.  It doesn’t matter how they spin it in upcoming issues.  It’s still a stupid scene.

Go ahead: call me a moron.  I can take it.

Casanova #12 by Matt Fraction (writer), Fábio Moon (artist), and Sean Konot (letterer).  $1.99, 20 pgs, BWB, Image.

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This issue is called “Fuck Shit Up,” because that’s precisely what Zephyr does in this issue: fuck shit up.  And man, it’s brilliant and terrible and beautiful and tragic to behold.  Moon’s art is dazzling in this issue, and Fraction, as he points out in the back matter, decided that holes in the air locks meant that no one could speak, so most of the killing is done in silence, which makes it even more frightening.  There’s not much to say, because the issue is so sparse on plot, but it’s still an astonishing piece of comic book art.  Man, this is a great book.  But what the hell was Cornelius thinking, rushing Zephyr like that?

Why isn’t this book a top seller?  It makes me sad.

ClanDestine #2 (of 5) by Alan Davis (writer/penciller), Mark Farmer (inker), J. Brown (colorist), and Dave Lanphear (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

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Alan Davis cares nought for the passage of time in the Marvel Universe!  If he wants to revisit the glory days of Excalibur, he’s by God going to do it, and damn the torpedoes!

The story moves along, but as it’s a mini-series, it’s silly to talk about the long-term plot, which will be resolved (presumably) in issue #5, and whether it works or not will be apparent then.  We get to see where Newton spends most of his time, in the other dimension of which he is warlord, and it’s a pretty groovy place where android babes wait on him, and we learn what happened to Albert to make him the withdrawn person who barely appeared in the original series.  And Kay dresses up like Rogue, for some reason.

But who cares?  It’s absolutely stunning Davis art in service to an old-school superhero adventure story.  If you like superhero comics, there’s no reason not to love this.  NO REASON!!!!

Comic Book Comics #1 by Fred van Lente (writer) and Ryan Dunlavey (artist).  $3.95, 40 pgs, BW, Evil Twin Comics.

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Van Lente and Dunlavey brought us Action Philosophers!, which was one of the most fun books to come out in the past few years.  It was snappy and edumacational, and for nine issues, it was wonderful to read.  That ran its course, and now the two crazy creators have set their sights on the history of comic books!  It can’t miss!

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Well, it can, to a certain degree.  Van Lente and Dunlavey bring their typical wackiness to the book, Dunlavey doing a great job with the art, including visually showing how the comic strip and book evolved, which is why this is a nice medium to explore the history of the medium.  So we get Winsor McCay’s innovative use of panels drawn as if McCay drew it, and when Jacob Kurtzberg decides to Anglicize his name to Jack Kirby (because back then, if you read a comic written or drawn by a Jew, some Jew could rub off on you, man!), it’s a nice Kirby-esque moment.  Van Lente makes it entertaining, but the problem with this, as opposed to Action Philosophers!, is that the structure of the book works against it.  It gets a bit plodding, as it’s difficult to keep the tone light when you’re dealing with the history of such a complicated topic.  It’s interesting to read, but by necessity, Van Lente is trying to keep it light, even when some of the topics demand more in-depth examination.  I haven’t read Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow yet (I own it, but I haven’t read it yet), but it seems like this kind of thing is more suited to something more than the comic-book form.

What about the confounded philosophers?  Doesn’t philosophy demand something more in-depth?  Well, of course it does, but the way Van Lente and Dunlavey structured that book, they kept things on the surface while making us interested in reading more about each philosopher.  This book seems more ambitious, but it shouldn’t be.  It should do the same kind of thing that Action Philosophers! did, and although it’s similar, the crucial difference makes it a lesser book.  That’s not to say that I think the book is a failure.  Van Lente does a nice job showing how one event leads into another, how things and people are connected, and some of the back-stabbing in the background of the comics industry.  I do have faith in the creators and want to read the book, but I hope that the next issue feels different.  This just doesn’t have the pizazz that the first book did.  We’ll see if it picks up next issue!

Detective Comics #842 by Peter Milligan (writer), Dustin Nguyen (penciller), Derek Fridolfs (inker), John Kalisz (colorist), and Sal Cipriano (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC.

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There was a time, back in the day, when a weird writer who had made his name in the United States taking over a Steve Ditko creation and basically shitting all over it wrote a handful of issues of one of DC’s flagship characters.  Good times, I tell you.  He couldn’t stay on the book, but he gave us a few of the weirdest issues that the Dark Knight Detective ever appeared in.  You think the God of All Comics is writing the Caped Crusader weirdly?  You haven’t read about the hungry grass, man!

Then he was gone, finishing up Shade, The Changing Man, writing some unbelievably wacky mini-series for Vertigo, drifting off to Marvel to butcher an Elektra ongoing, launching a short-lived series for Vertigo that died too soon, launching another Vertigo series that lasted a bit longer but still died too soon, bringing us one of the most bizarre and excellent mutant books ever, getting the big gig writing Marvel’s Merry Mutants and failing, and then coming back to DC.  He’s written the Gotham Guardian recently, but this issue of Detective Comics recalls those glorious days of fifteen years ago or so, as Batman puts on … the Suit of Sorrows!

Yes, the Suit of Sorrows.  Talia, for some reason, sends Batman a new suit of armor to wear in his unceasing battle against the forces of darkness.  And, because it’s a Milligan comic, the armor is cursed.  Well, of course it is!  Finding out the key to the curse takes Batman to the French Alps to investigate a connection to the Order of St. Dumas.  That’s right, the motherfucking Order of motherfucking St. Dumas, motherfuckers!  And, of course, there’s an ancient secret, a mystery to solve, and a creepy serial killer.  Yes, it’s goddamned awesome.  Oh, sure, the mystery is a bit obvious, but it’s a one-and-done, and I have spoken before that it’s tough to set up and solve a mystery in one issue, but other than that, it’s awesome.  Milligan has been hit-and-miss since X-Statix ended, but the man can write an excellent Batman book when he wants to.

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Damn.  This is really cool.  Oh, and Nguyen kicks all kinds of ass too.  Just so you know.

Dynamo 5 #11 by Jay Faerber (writer), Mahmud A. Asrar (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), and Charles Pritchett (letterer).  $3.50, 20 pgs, FC, Image.

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Faerber does stuff that is somewhat unexpected, which keeps us on our toes, and that’s why this and Noble Causes are so much fun.  This issue is set up like a fairly standard superhero plot – or plots, as the case may be: The kids head to Washington, D. C., to rescue Olivia’s father, who has been taken hostage.  She has to spring a mob informer from jail and deliver him to the bad guys, and she’s willing to do it, because what does she care about some minor mob informer?  Maddie doesn’t want the kids going, but they tell her to stick it and help out, leaving her with Hector’s mother.  The Dynamo 5 adventure is resolved in this issue, but not really the way we might expect.  Meanwhile, Maddie and Hector’s mother, Jennifer, are back at HQ, debating the merits of allowing the kids to be superheroes.  An intruder shows up, and once again, a standard plot is turned on its ear by the way the characters act.  That is to say, they act the way we would expect them to act, not the way cardboard characters in superhero books act.  This leads right into next issue, where things don’t look terribly good for our heroes.

I’ve said it before, but this is a fantastic superhero book, and it stems from Faerber understanding characters and what motivates them.  The way the Dynamo 5 kids react to the plight of Olivia’s father, the way Maddie reacts to them, and the way Jennifer Chang reacts to the entire situation into which she’s been dropped make perfect sense, and that drives the plot forward.  Nothing feels forced in this book, which is a big part of its charm.  Plus, Asrar, as usual, is stellar on art.

With Noble Causes returning in a few weeks and Faerber’s new mini-series, Gemini, coming in May (there’s a preview in the back of this book, and although I still don’t love the art, it’s a nice teaser), it’s a good time to be a fan of superheroes, Faerber-style.  The dude is hitting on all cylinders right now.

Echo #1 by Terry Moore (writer/artist).  $3.50, 22 pgs, BW, Abstract Studio.

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First Jeff Smith, now Terry Moore, next Dave Sim – it’s strange, the conjunction of creators of long-running and widely-beloved and well-respected independent series all returning with new stuff in a short period of time.  It’s pretty cool, actually.  So what’s the deal with this?

Well, first of all, Moore’s art is excellent.  The action scenes, which begin the book, are tense, and Moore builds the excitement nicely until the big climax, which is a nuclear explosion over the desert.  This leads to the second section of the book, which introduces our main character, Julie, who’s out in the desert photographing the flora and is therefore directly underneath the explosion.  Oh dear.  It seems the military is experimenting with a new kind of battle suit that, when it explodes, rains on the desert in small, putty-like balls that, according to the scientist working on the project, have turned each ball into a nuclear bomb.  Unfortunately, hundreds of these balls fell on Julie and stuck to her, and by the end of the book, something strange is happening to our heroine.  Moore illustrates the second half of the book in a fairly understated manner, considering what’s happened, and it helps ground the book after the slam-bang beginning.

The story is certainly interesting, but like Rasl last week, it’s a lot of set-up, and considering the fact that it’s $3.50, it’s a bit slow to get started.  Moore gives us plenty of information about Julie – she’s getting divorced, she’s in credit card debt – and introduces plenty of characters, but it still feels like it needed a bigger bang to get going.  There’s something to be said for starting the story in the middle, or maybe even with the explosion, to give us more of what happens to Julie at the end.  We experience some of her horror, but then the book ends before we see what’s going on.  It’s a good comic, but I wonder if it’s worth getting the individual issues.  I know this is a concern for independent books, so I would encourage you to buy it to support Moore’s endeavors, but I hope the individual issues are worth the expense, especially when it’s pretty much guaranteed to get collected.

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It’s a monthly book (at least the next issue page proclaims “Next month”), so if Moore can keep up a monthly schedule, the pace might not matter too much.  Slow pacing is okay if the book comes out frequently.  It’s only 50 cents more than your regular comic, and it’s worth seeing a creator working on something he loves.  Give this a try!

Moon Knight #16 by Mike Benson (writer), Charlie Huston (plotter), Mark Texeira (artist), Javier Saltares (layouts), Dan Brown (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

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Moon Knight continues to shine, as Benson’s first arc on the book continues.  Marc is still on his downward spiral, and he sucks Ray, his new pilot, into his maelstrom of violence.  The final pages of this book are, if possible, even more visceral than it’s been, not because the violence is so shocking (it’s not), but because of the way it unfolds.  (Although, I will say that Marc’s narration about not killing people is somewhat strange, given how this series began with his battle with Bushman.)  But the rest of the book is great, too, as Carson Knowles shows that he’s as crazy as Marc is, but in some subtler ways.  The way Benson shows him casually committing murder, then considering turning himself in until some mysterious stranger convinces him not to, then chatting amiably with Marlene, is riveting.  This comic keeps getting better.

And I enjoyed the Brett Favre reference, because Benson couldn’t have known that this would come out two days after he retired.  Maybe Favre wants to get a good steak after his long, overrated career!  (Yeah, I said it.  Call me a moron for the second time today, if you must.  But it’s totally true, and deep down, we all know it.)

Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1 by Darwyn Cooke (writer/artist on “Superman and Batman in a Fight to the Finish”), David Bullock (penciller, “Dragstrip Riot”), Michael Cho (inker, “Dragstrip Riot”), J. Bone (artist, “Wonder Woman and Black Canary Fight a Gender War”), Dave Stewart (colorist), and Jared Fletcher (letterer).  $4.99, 47 pgs, FC, DC.

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I was a bit disappointed that Cooke didn’t draw this entire thing, but the other two artists draw in the same style, so I can deal with it.  It would have been nice, however.

I was also a bit disappointed with the stories.  The second one, “Dragstrip Riot,” features Robin and Kid Flash, and is pretty good.  Robin and Flash team up to save President Kennedy’s life, and the plot against him is ingenious and the way they team up is clever.  It’s a good example of two heroes initially butting heads, but not in a ridiculous way, and then forming a team when, as Robin puts it, “neither one of us had the tools to swing [the rescue] alone.”  That’s what makes a good team-up: the heroes unable to do something by themselves and using their unique skills to thwart the bad guy.

However, the two other stories aren’t as good.  Cooke’s art in the first one is fine, and J. Bone’s in the third one, despite Wonder Woman looking a bit zaftig, is okay.  In the first story, Superman is deputized by Eisenhower himself to go after Batman, and it reads far too much like a retread of The Dark Knight Returns.  There’s really nothing you can do with a Superman-Batman fight anymore, because Batman will always be smarter than Superman and will always have Kryptonite, so there’s nothing terribly interesting about it.  The ending is nicer, because of the way the fight is resolved, but it’s not enough to rescue a rather dull retelling of something we’ve seen far too often.  The third story is more problematic, and I’m sure I’m going to get killed yet again for my take on it.  I get that it’s largely tongue-in-cheek, as Wonder Woman decides to visit a “Playboy” club and teach the men that they shouldn’t oppress women.  There are some nice touches, like the fact that Bruce Wayne is at the club, as is Gloria Steinem, who gets some ideas from Diana, but I’m not entirely sure what I’m supposed to feel about the story.  Wonder Woman is an object of ridicule in the story, from the very first panel when Dinah tells her she needs to get a massage and relax.  At the club, Diana grabs Jayne Mansfield, who was going to jump out of a cake, and gets in, popping out to deliver a speech about treating women equally, which the men do not appreciate.  When they throw their glasses at her, she beats the crap out of them.  One guy does try to set her on fire, but prior to that, the men aren’t really doing anything wrong – I know they throw their glasses at her, but still.  It’s a weird story, because Diana is spreading a good message, and the end, with Steinem writing down what she says and what happened at the club, means that the women will get the message, but the way it’s presented, with Wonder Woman acting so strident that we can’t take her seriously, especially when she acts so irrationally – she wants to spread a message of “love and equality,” as she herself says, but flies off the handle in an instant.  I’m taking it too seriously, I know, and I should just enjoy the fact that Wonder Woman kicks stupid male ass!  Go, WW!  But I can’t, because it seems like the message is lost in the silliness.

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Okay, for the third time, go ahead and call me a moron.  That’s fine.

Northlanders #4 by Brian Wood (writer), Davide Gianfelice (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist), and Travis Lanham (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

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There’s not a lot to say about this issue, as it’s the middle of the opening story arc.  Sven’s war against Gorm settles down a bit because winter sets in, and this allows Gorm’s right-hand man, Hakkar, to dispatch a spy to Constantinople to dig up what he can on Sven.  We learn that Sven needs the treasure to return, and we also find out that Hakkar, like Sven, is as ruthless as they come.  It’s a typically gorgeous-looking comic, as Gianfelice does a wonderful job with winter in the Orkneys and gives us a taste of the Mediterranean world as well, with a flashback to Sven and his woman.  The story zips along, with more death and tragedy, and this issue, like the others in this series so far, is excellent.  It’s rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

Pax Romana #2 (of 4) by Jonathan Hickman (writer/artist).  $3.50, 24 pgs, FC, Image.

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I have read a few negative reviews of the first issue of this series, as well as Hickman’s previous mini-series, The Nightly News.  The one reviewer I read said that Hickman’s use of a “transcript” style in the middle of the comic, where he simply has the names of characters and what they say with absolutely no pictorial accompaniment, stops the comic dead in its tracks.  I admit, the biggest problem with this style is that we don’t really have any sense of the characters, so if someone says something contentious, we don’t know if that’s “in character” or not.  But that’s not the point.  Hickman, so far, has shown that he’s fairly polemical and even pedantic in his writings, and this fits in with what he’s trying to accomplish.  These transcripts are simply to put forth an argument about things Hickman wants to argue about – it doesn’t matter who’s talking, really.  The military leader of the time-traveling expedition, Nicholas Chase, seized control of the entire kit and kaboodle last issue in a bit of a coup, and now he’s debating with the rest of the leaders.  Hickman wants us to ask ourselves how we would change a culture if we had the chance, especially in regard to slavery, which was common in the 4th century and didn’t necessarily carry the stigma it would later acquire.  As I’ve repeatedly said with regard to Hickman’s books, it’s not that he occasionally fails, it’s that he’s ambitious enough to try crazy things, and most of the time he succeeds.  When he fails (if you think he does), you can at least admire that he’s trying something different.

This is really a fascinating comic.  Chase and his legions have the firepower to recreate the world, and Chase even says that he will destroy anyone who stands in the way of “humanity’s progress.”  He eliminated the man sent back with them because that man was not ambitious enough.  Interestingly enough, in Constantine, Chase has found a man who is as ambitious as he is, but lacked the means to remake the world.  Hickman is begging the question: If you had the power to change humanity for the better, would you do it, and at what cost?  That is a bold notion that’s been done before in superhero comics, but rarely with such thought behind it (the time travel aspect has been done before, too, in books like Harry Turtledove’s The Guns of the South, for example).  Hickman understands that Chase and his army are not unlike superheroes to the Romans, and therefore they have to take this burden on themselves.  Hickman isn’t doing something completely original, but unlike many superhero comics that have trod this ground, we already know Chase succeeds.  It remains to be seen what it costs him.

At least, that’s the way I look at it.  I’ve been wrong before.

Uncanny X-Men #496 by Ed Brubaker (writer), Mike Choi (artist), Sonia Oback (colorist), and Joe Caramagna (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, Marvel.

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I will say this – I like Choi’s art a lot more in this issue than last.  It seems a bit softer and naturalistic.  Maybe I’ve just gotten used to it.

Anyway, I want to point out that I don’t really have a big problem with Brubaker spoiling Astonishing X-Men, especially if everyone ran it by Whedon first.  I just found it interesting that Marvel has given up on trying to keep Astonishing under wraps because it’s so far behind schedule.  It’s their biggest seller, but they just don’t care anymore.  Good job, Marvel!

What I like about Brubaker on this book, especially recently (when he’s not wrapped up in crossovers), is that he’s trying a couple of things.  One, he’s writing stories that aren’t necessarily “mutant-centric,” which is always nice to see.  I have no problem with the X-books concentrating on mutant issues, but it’s also nice when they simply fight bad guys, whether the bad guys are trying to eliminate all mutants or not.  The weird 1969 thing that’s going on in San Francisco will probably turn out to be some kind of mutant, but it’s unusual right now, and I appreciate it.  Plus, the story line with Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus in Russia isn’t completely “mutant-centric.”  This leads to my second point, which is how Brubaker seems to be trying to integrate the book a little bit more into the Marvel Universe.  The Marvel books are at their best when we’re aware they all occur in the same space at (about) the same time, and the fact that Brubaker drops Gaiman’s Eternal into a panel (I guess it could have been Choi, too, but it doesn’t matter) is nice, as is the reference to the Red Room.  I don’t want all the Marvel books to constantly reference every other Marvel book, but it’s still good to see.  I don’t care if the X-books are part of “Secret Invasion,” but why wouldn’t the Skrulls infiltrate the mutants, too?

I’m with this book until #500, at least.  I wasn’t sure about it post-crossover, but the last two issues have been pretty good.  If Marvel lets Brubaker do his thing, there’s no reason why this can’t be a very good comic.

The Vinyl Underground #6 by Si Spencer (writer), Simon Gane (penciller), Cameron Stewart (inker), Guy Major (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer).  $2.99, 22 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

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Brian was raving about this book recently, and while I absolutely loathed the first issue, I figured it might have gotten better, so I picked up the first issue of the “new case.”  Did it get any better?

Well, yes, but it’s still not for me, I think.  The main characters aren’t quite as obnoxiously hipper-than-thou as they were in the first issue, but they still don’t feel like real people to me.  It is a fairly interesting case – a girl is left at William Blake’s tomb, posed like an illustration for his poem “Little Girl Lost,” with the words “magic marker” written on her forehead.  There are, of course, many more girls stashed somewhere, each with a word written on their forehead.  So I might read a few more issues, because this one doesn’t repel me like the first issue did.

I will say that Morrison is a stone-cold idiot.  Someone leaves a girl at William Blake’s grave, posed like a girl in a Blake poem, and he thinks it’s a coincidence?  Isn’t this guy supposed to be some kind of investigator?  Sheesh.  Oh well.  If the final page is any indication, he’ll soon change his mind.

So, this isn’t a great comic, but it’s gotten better in a short time.  If you were put off by the awful first issue as much as I was, this is a good place to revisit it and see if it’s more to your liking.

Young Liars #1 by David Lapham (writer/artist), Lee Loughridge (colorist), and Jared K. Fletcher (letterer).  $2.99, 24 pgs, FC, DC/Vertigo.

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Speaking of first issues, David Lapham brings us his new title, and it’s pretty frickin’ awesome.  I have never read Stray Bullets (yes, I know I should!), and it’s too bad, as Lapham explains, that economic necessity keeps him from it, but I absolutely loved his 12-issue epic “City of Crime” in Detective Comics and enjoyed Silverfish, even if it wasn’t anything special.  But this book is crazy fun, intense from the first to last page, introducing all the principal characters while still keeping its foot on the accelerator.  There’s one glaring problem, which I’ll get to, but for the most part, this is a really fun ride.

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The story begins today, actually (7 March 2008), as we meet Danny Noonan (it’s a common enough name, I suppose, but I should point out that the main character in Caddyshack was also named Danny Noonan), who left his home in Texas at 20 to make it big in New York.  He’s been in town, we learn, for a year, and has pretty much given up on his guitar dreams.  But he doesn’t mind, because he’s madly in love wtih Sadie Dawkins (not Sadie Hawkins, mind you), a slightly nutty young lady who has a bullet lodged in her brain and believes that’s she invulnerable (and might be, as a nice hint in the issue shows).  Around these two swirl a usual bunch of people you would expect to find in the Manhattan club scene, including a transvestite, an anorexic waitress, a groupie, and a slumming rich kid.  One of the problems with stories starring people like this is that they don’t really seem to like each other all that much, yet they still hang out together.  It’s odd, but Lapham makes it work because of the sheer speed with which we hurtle through the story, mostly because Sadie seems to be going, as the cover promises, “a thousand miles an hour.”

There’s more than a few conflicts swirling through this comic, but the two main ones are 1) The night Sadie was shot, someone in the group “sold her out,” and when she finds out who, she’s going to kill that person; and 2) Danny loves Sadie but hasn’t told her yet, which seems about right for this kind of relationship.  There’s also a desperate desire for money that permeates the book, which is somewhat interesting; Sadie herself appears purely without desire for it, but there’s a reason: her father is rich.  It’s easy to be unconcerned about money when you have access to a lot of it.  The other characters, however, aren’t so lucky, and this theme seems like it will be rather important in the scheme of things, especially as Sadie’s father would like her to come home.

It’s Sadie’s father that I don’t particularly like.  He’s the owner of a chain of supermarkets, so he’s filthy rich.  He’s also a bit depraved, and this is what I don’t like.  I’m a bit tired of filthy rich businessmen in comics not only being evil (I imagine to get that filthy rich, you have to be a little evil, so that’s fine), but also completely depraved.  Lloyd Browning wears boxer shorts and an Evel Knievel helmet and apparently indulges in orgies with unusual-looking women.  He’s looking for Sadie because she knows something and it’s not going to be pleasant, but I don’t like the way Browning is portrayed.  I know he’s going to be suitably vile, but he’s still a goofy villain, and it’s kind of tiring.  We’re getting a lot of these kind of bad guys in comics, and it’s as if comics writers aren’t happy with making businessmen evil, they have to make them freaks as well.  Browning would be a lot more frightening if he weren’t such a joke.  Unfortunately, it looks like he’s going to be a big part of the comic, and that’s frustrating.  The characters that Danny hang out with are so much more interesting, but we need a villain, so we’re stuck with Lloyd Browning.

Browning only shows up on two pages, and the rest of the book is so good that I can overlook it for now.  I’m very curious to see what’s going on with this book, and I encourage you all to pick it up and check it out.  Lapham knocks it almost out of the park – let’s call it a triple and an error that allows him to score!

That’s all we have this week, friends and neighbors.  Will anyone have the cajones to take me up on my offers to call me a moron?????


I actually gave up on “season 8″ Buffy after #4, but I will say that I think Whedon and Goddard genuinely think they’re doing something very liberal and PC. I suspect that the fact that it comes off so exploitative speaks more to their fanboy mentality than their intentions. It’s the slash fanfic mentality again, which I swear to God has completely TAKEN OVER comics in the U.S.

I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man again but I miss the good old days when this sort of thing was confined to amateur ‘zines and badly-designed web pages. Where’s the, you know, regular stories that fans are inspired to write fanfic ABOUT?

Yeah, totally agreed, Greg (Hatcher) – I have no doubt that neither Whedon nor Goddard intend for the issue to come off the way it is coming off to us.

“I don’t know Whedon’s stance on sexual orientation. This scene is implying that he thinks it is indeed a “choice,” and that Buffy and anyone else chooses to be heterosexual, but they can turn it on and off.”

Why infer and make yourself pissed off when Whedon has publicly said *exactly* what he feels about sexual orientation?


“It’s not that I disbelieve people who say that, I just treat it as an urban legend.”

Well, as long as you’re acknowledging that you’re deliberately ignoring things that you haven’t directly experienced, and thus deliberately speaking from ignorance, that’s cool.

You’re wrong, but I see that you know that you’re wrong, so that’s fine with me.

“One of the problems with stories starring people like this is that they don’t really seem to like each other all that much, yet they still hang out together.”

Between this and your comments about Buffy, I’m guessing you’re not in your 20s anymore.

Yeah, I have to say that entire Whedon interview reads like a smokescreen so that he doesn’t have to come out and say “I totally get off on girl-on-girl action.”

I’m definitely not in my 20s anymore, sean. I don’t see what that has to do with it. I didn’t hang out with people I didn’t like when I was in my teens or my twenties, so it makes no sense to me.

As for Whedon – he trotted out the whole “experimenting” thing. Again, let’s see him prove it that people experiment. No one I know has ever experimented, unless a gay boy dating a girl because he feared coming out to his conservative family counts. Does Whedon’s statement mean he’s had sex with a guy, or even kissed one romantically? Again, whenever this kind of thing comes up, people claim the young people are just “experimenting,” but what that means is that writers can pair up girls without making them gay. I completely understand what he’s claiming, but again, I don’t buy it.

Speaking of which, sean, how many of the people you know have “experimented” with their sexuality? Have you ever asked? I’m not being snotty, I’m actually asking, because it’s always someone saying that they knew a girl who experimented. It’s never their wife or sister. That’s all I’m saying. Again, this seems like Whedon trying to work in girl-on-girl action, and justifying it with the “experimenting” caveat.

Also “the motherfucking Order of motherfucking St. Dumas” totally sold me on buying this issue of Detective now.

Sword of Azrael is still one of my guilty pleasures of the 90’s.

Love New Frontier. Left the special on the shelf.
Sorry but it just seems like a clear money grab. Cooke clearly already said what he needed to in the series iteslf. This book doesn’t add any new “layers” or “revelations” to the mini. It’s just a chance to revisit the characters and context and shill for the DVD.
Plus I swear the Previews promised a Sgt. Rock story, which sounded great. I didn’t see it. That Rip Hunter one page in front was funny and charming, though. But I read that in the store.

Greg, I realize you’re probably not open to anecdotal evidence, but yes, people do “experiment” (what a silly term) with their sexuality in their early twenties. I’ve met people who’ve done it, I’ve had friends who’ve done it, it happens. It may not happen all that often in Whitebread, Arizona, but it happens. And it’s not “insulting” to have it happen in fiction.

As for the issue in question, I can’t really comment. I’m reading Buffy Season 8 in trades, so while I know that Satsu apparently has feelings for Buffy, I’ve no idea what’s been going on in Buffy’s head from issues 6-11. If it were me writing it, I’d have her main impetus have been, “Okay, I’m in the middle of the longest dry spell since ever, Satsu’s here, the hell with it.” And then I’d have her question her sexuality, decide she’s not gay nor does she have any romantic feelings for Satsu, try to break it off gently, and completely botch the whole thing, leading to hurt feelings all around and a big chasm opening up in the Slayer Army over whose “side” people take. But that’s just me; I can’t pretend to know what Whedon was thinking, and I won’t try. I will be somewhat interested to see where this goes when the inevitable trade comes out, though, if only to see if they pull it out of what seems to have become a pretty big tailspin.

David (not Dave)

March 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm

So, here’s the thing. I’m a guy, and I have “experimented”, as you’re putting it. My wife also had her experimental days. I can’t say that I’ve actually talked about it much with other people, so I can’t claim particular insight into how common such things are.

I quite agree with the Joss quote from the interview sean linked to: “Sexuality is a spectrum.” That said, Joss has never really *written* it like this in Buffy. His characters have had binary sexualities; they’re either one or the other, and while they’re being one they won’t consider the other. (Unless they’re evil.)

Let’s see, you’re making huge assumptions about Joss Whedon’s views on sexuality, attributing to him a slavering fanboy mentality, and demanding that he prove the existence of sexual experimentation.

Can any good come out of you buying and reviewing his work any further?

…attributing to him a slavering fanboy mentality…

That was more ME than Mr. Burgas, I think. And I’m saying that it probably was not MEANT that way… but that’s how it comes off judging from the pages I’ve seen and the publicity/interviews/quotes etc. surrounding it.

Really, though, I think you kind of have to give Greg the point when he suggested that if it was Cyclops and Nightcrawler — or, okay, bad example, say instead it was Xander and Oz — fans wouldn’t be nearly as accepting of it.

Michael: Well, I didn’t grow up in Arizona, but Phoenix is far from “Whitebread.” I do get your meaning, however. It’s not that I said I wasn’t open to anecdotal evidence – far from it. I even used anecdotal evidence as a way to back myself up – I, personally, have never met anyone like that. If you have, fine and dandy. You too, Not Dave. That’s perfectly fine. You make a good point about the way they’ve been written in the past, however. Like I wrote, I haven’t really followed Buffy, so I don’t know if she’s ever shown any interest in experimenting. Your point is well made – this comes out of nowhere. If that’s true (and others, including apparently Whedon, might disagree), then that’s what I’m talking about.

Evan: He’s the one who said “people experiment.” It seems like he’s making a blanket generalization, yet if I make a generalization, I get killed for it. Why not Whedon? And I didn’t buy this comic, I read it for free. And no, I don’t plan on buying more of his comics. I’ve never been a big fan of his writing. But this was a BIG ONE, so I figured I’d give it a try!

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 7, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Buffy may not be a “lesbian”, but she could be “bi-curious” so to speak.

Hell, nothing wrong with experimenting.

Tho’, it might be interesting to see if Willow and Buffy ever get together. Probably won’t happen as they’re best buddies.

Maybe I should start reading season 8 (which I haven’t these days)?

Man, here we are in supposedly with-it times and we still get stuck on Victorian/modernist expressions of sexuality. Do we really have to go with absolutist labels like gay, lesbian, and straight as once-and-for-all-type identifiers of sexual preference? We went thousands of years with the understanding that sexuality is more fluid than something hard-coded in absolute terms into people. Why do we continue to let Victorian sensibilities govern us like this?

My best friend for six or seven years after high school has altered his preference several times. In high school he preferred men, in college he went for women, after college he kind of ping-ponged depending on the time of the month, and last I heard, he met a nice girl and was engaged. He wasn’t homosexual. He wasn’t heterosexual. He was just sexual. Really, like everybody else. And one of the hardest things for him to deal with was people who couldn’t refrain from labeling him.

“Dude, what’s he doing dating her? Doesn’t she know he’s gay?” And vice versa.

I haven’t read the Buffy book (nor am i likely to), but Wheadon’s set-up, as you’ve described it, is far from impossible.

“I’m definitely not in my 20s anymore, sean. I don’t see what that has to do with it. I didn’t hang out with people I didn’t like when I was in my teens or my twenties, so it makes no sense to me.”

Well, it’s a two-fold comment; I have noticed, anecdotally speaking, that the older people I talk to about this sort of thing are, the less credible they find it that young people nowadays are very open to what is (I agree, unfortunately) called “experimentation”. My personal belief is that, as homosexuality has become increasingly normalized over the last few decades, a side effect is that people are more likely to explore impulses without feeling they are making a “lifestyle choice”.

As to the other thing, it was a semi-joke; I’ve noticed, again anecdotally, that as people settle down and get married, their large group of friends self-whittles, and they tend to look back on the days when they were hanging out with large groups through more idealized eyes. It’s not that I’m arguing that you were hanging out with people you didn’t like, I’m arguing that your rose-colored glasses regarding the time, place, and friends makes you disinclined to remember the real dynamic, which can often come off as “wow, those people really don’t get along very well.”

“Again, let’s see him prove it that people experiment.”

But you have dismissed *any* anecdotal evidence that people do experiment as urban legends, leaving only your anecdotes that people don’t experiment. Does that seem right to you?

“Does Whedon’s statement mean he’s had sex with a guy, or even kissed one romantically?”

I don’t know, but he does say “us” when describing experimentation with homosexuality, as opposed to “them”.

“Speaking of which, sean, how many of the people you know have “experimented” with their sexuality? Have you ever asked?”

I admit, that my study has been limited, because it’s certainly an intimate thing to discuss; I don’t have conversations with my female friends [though one of my female friends knows a story about another one from her college days, I’m not close enough to have gotten that from either horse’s mouth] about it. So it’s limited to the people I am, or have been, closest to.

Specifically, I have three roommates. Two guys, and one girl, who is the girlfriend of one of the guys. Her previous long-term relationship, which she was in when she met my roommate, was with a girl. The one before that was a girl. While at college, she dated a guy for a while. When she met my roommate, she fell for him and, even though she had been defining herself as a lesbian, she changed. The male roommate she is dating is from a small town and is still a little prudish about sexuality — he reluctantly admits that male homosexuality still makes him uncomfortable, though he acknowledges that he is the one who is wrong there. The other male roommate, currently aligned to “heterosexual”, had at least one sexual encounter with another man while at college, because he was trying to figure out what his sexual identity was, and wanted to explore the impulses he had. The last girl I seriously dated — coincidentally, I met her through him — was in the middle of a phase of trying every impulse she had had while in her previous long-term relationship, and had “experimented” quite a bit with various genders and numbers of partners at one time.

It’s true, I don’t have a wife (or sister) to bring up, but I would’ve married that girl if things had worked out. I tend to think that the girls who are still experimenting in their 20s and still trying to figure out their own identity aren’t neccessarily ready to be married — but that could be anecdotal (and that’s not to say that nobody whoever experimented could ever be ready for marriage; I’m just saying that, jumping straight from “experimenting” to “marriage” seems like a probable mistake, to me).

And, for the record, I don’t mean to dismiss the fact that *some* girls are just doing it for attention and *some* writers are just engaging in fetishization. It’s just that it does not follow that all are doing either.

“I think you kind of have to give Greg the point when he suggested that if it was Cyclops and Nightcrawler — or, okay, bad example, say instead it was Xander and Oz — fans wouldn’t be nearly as accepting of it.”

I do agree, but those are two seperate points.

He’s saying it’s not realistic because people don’t experiment. That’s wrong.

He’s also saying that people would be less accepting of male homosexuality than female. That is true, but it is wrong of people to judge that way. The fact that people are more prejudiced towards male homosexuality, and any sort of experimentation of that sort, is a negative in our society. It doesn’t mean that female homosexuality, and homosexual experimentation, should be more marginalized in order to make things equal.

Yeah. Lived in Seattle for a goodly number of years. Couldn’t count all the people I know who’ve kissed or slept with a member of their generally non-preferred gender on all my fingers and toes.

I never have, but, although I lean strongly straight, I’m certainly not completely straight. I’d say it’s very doubtful at this point, but not impossible.

“He’s the one who said “people experiment.” It seems like he’s making a blanket generalization, yet if I make a generalization, I get killed for it.”

What he actually said was:
“Sexuality is a spectrum. Many of us have experimented in our youth”

The blanket part is that “sexuality is a spectrum” — which you agree with; you’re just arguing that there are less points on the spectrum than he feels there are.

He very much did not say that all people experiment.

Well, okay, if you insist: you’re a moron. There. Hee.

Anyway, straight girls do occasionally indulge in certain activities with other straight girls, and I know such people. So it happens. I just don’t think it fits in with Buffy’s character no matter how much they try to spin it.

I might have to pick up this issue of Detective, now, if Good Milligan is writing Batman again.

I might also have to try Young Liars. The preview didn’t interest me, but it’s getting a lot of good reviews.

Also also: My shop’s totally given up on Vinyl Underground. Bah.

Also also again: Casanova is the fuckest uppest.

Oh, I almost forgot, I also once got offered sex — specifically including anal sex — from a lesbian.

(I just like to mention that whenever I have an excuse.)

“Anyway, straight girls do occasionally indulge in certain activities with other straight girls,”

Just to be clear (since the original review wasn’t), my understanding is that the girl Buffy is with is gay, and has been interested in her for a long time.

I’ve accidentally walked in on two ostensibly “straight” women experimenting at a graduate school party–the same party at which another ostensibly “straight” woman (in fact one who is currently in a straight marriage with children) was in tears because another ostensibly “straight” woman had turned her down to go home with an “ostensibly” gay woman (who had previously dated men). So Buffy’s actions in no way surprised me.

(Granted, it was grad school in a humanities department–you needed a scorecard to keep track of all the sexual experimentation and identity try-on-for-sizes.)

Young Liars excites me because I’m always in the mood for some good, independently-minded Lapham. I’m dying to see an actual conclusion to Stray Bullets and would be stoked if Vertigo picked that up (though I don’t know if that kind of thing is even possible).

“I’m dying to see an actual conclusion to Stray Bullets and would be stoked if Vertigo picked that up (though I don’t know if that kind of thing is even possible).”

Every time Lapham does a Marvel title, I think that maybe he’s just doing it so that they’ll reprint the Stray Bullets trade as part of their Icon line.

I always hope there is some ulterior motive, since I never like any of what he does for Marvel.

“If it were me writing it, I’d have her main impetus have been, “Okay, I’m in the middle of the longest dry spell since ever, Satsu’s here, the hell with it.” ”


And, from all evidence (including Buffy’s relationship history…. Parker, anyone? Riley, anyone? Spike, anyone?), that’s exactly what’s going on here.

Buffy’s in one of her “I’m all alone.” modes, has been presented with someone who’s attractive, finds Buffy attractive, is devoted to Buffy, and is ready willing and able to offer themselves to Buffy. So, she’s taken them up on it.

There was a bit of indirect foreshadowing in #10, as well. Oddly enough, though, it was in the Xander/Dawn portion of the story. Dawn confesses to Xander that she’d slept with her boyfriend’s roommate, and as she begins to list all of the qualities that make him wrong for her, Xander points out that all she’s really “guilty” of is “being a cliche,” and even points out Buffy’s experience with Parker as an example.

Odd bit of synchronicity, though, is that there was a similar “experimentation” scene – although much more revealing – in last weekend’s episode of The L Word. (What can I say…my wife loves the show, and I…well…I enjoy some of the characters. And, hey, there’s even a Buffyverse connection in Laurel Holloman.)

Michael, Dave, Tom F., the Dane & others have said it all, & it definitely jibes with what I’ve witnessed, & the women I’ve known (& been in relationships with) who have told me of their experiences with other women in the past. In fact the ones who were solidly “no, no, never, and I’d never even consider thinking about it” were definitely in the minority.
Maybe the fact that my dating pool through most of my 20s and 30s consisted almost exclusively of “indie-alt- punky-art-school” types almost exclusively (the terminology has shifted throughout my life) has something to do with it, but I suspect not. I worked for some years for a company that dealt in personal ads & the like (don’t want to go into too much detail) and suffice to say that finding out how many people of all ages and genders were seeking out “experiments” that make this look tame was quite an eye-opener.
Also, I have to say, the Gregs seem to think they’re being “very liberal and PC”, when, in fact, they’re coming across to me as very, very, conservative.

Hey, that’s cool, everyone – thanks for sharing. (No, I’m not being snotty – it’s interesting to hear this stuff.) Specifically, sean, I do like to think I’m open-minded – it’s not that I think it’s less credible that people experiment, it’s that, like I’ve said, I’ve never known anyone to do it. If everyone else is fine with this issue, that’s cool. Personally, I don’t really care who has sex with whom, but I’ve never been interested in guys. I guess I’m the straightest guy in the world. Of course, I have my man-crushes on Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves …

Another point I’d like to make is that we can go on and on about whether this is a “natural progression of the characters,” but you can’t deny that Whedon knows how to manipulate the fan base and the media. Buffy had lost a bit of its “buzz” from the launch of “Season 8,” and now it’s in some big newspapers. Of all the books I read this week, I liked this more only than the New Frontier book (which is odd, I admit), even with the problems I had with Comic Book Comics and even The Vinyl Underground. Even Moon Knight, which isn’t going to show up on anyone’s “best-of” lists, if far better than Buffy (and has done an excellent job portraying a homosexual relationship, I might add). And yet, all anyone can talk about is that Buffy gets it on with a girl. Whedon certainly knows what he’s doing in regard to marketing!

Yeah, I have to say, the part I found offensive was the idea that if two guys have sex, THEY ARE GAY.

That’s just not true. I’m not sure if I’m offended by you, for thinking that, or if you’re making a point about what society would think, in which case I can only conclude that society still has a way to go before its head is out of its ass.

I’ve known plenty of girls who have had sex with other girls but don’t consider themselves gay. I know fewer men who have had sex with men who don’t consider themselves gay, but I do know some.

I guess there is just more homophobia about gay men than gay women.

Yay, I’m conservative! Wow – that might be the first time I’ve ever been called that. Very cool.

Yeah, that’s my point, Jordan. If two men have sex, the automatic assumption is that they’re gay. Of course society is fucked up with that regard, but it’s still true. I think that a lot of people (me included) take their own experiences and project them onto society at large. Comic books are an artistic medium, and generally people in the arts are more liberal (I know that’s just a generalization, but that’s why I wrote “generally”). So people who work in comics and read them are stunned to discover that not everyone is as open about certain things as they are (sexuality being one of those). I tend to think most of society thinks that sexuality, if it’s not a choice, is very rigid, and I also think most people don’t have as much a problem with lesbian sex as they do with homosexual sex. Again, I could be wrong. It’s actually quite refreshing to hear people, who are presumably younger than I am, knowing lots of people who refused to be labeled. Maybe I’m a raving Dick Cheney fetishist (as Jack thinks :)), but if more people are breaking out of roles that society tries to fit them into, more power to them.

Seriously, doesn’t anyone want to bash me because I think Brett Favre is really overrated?

I’m with you on Pax Romana. Between this and the Nightly News… character is not his strength. But the books look cool, they’re entertaining, and they leave me thinking.

I’m a Kinsey 6. (You can Google it if you’re not familiar with it. In short, it’s how Kinsey — a man very much ahead of his time — categorized people’s sexualities, which occur, yes, on a spectrum.) Because I’m a Kinsey 6 and an extrovert with a busy social life in a big city, I know a lot of fellow queer folk of both genders (admittedly, far more men than women), and I’ll testify that women, in my experience, are far more likely to “experiment.”

It’s not that my “exclusively” gay male friends have never had sex with women; it’s just that I can only think of two of them (two out of dozens and dozens) who still occasionally do. Verrry occasionally. And it’s just sex — they don’t get romantically involved with women. In other words, if you’re a guy who’s going to claim the label “gay,” at no matter what age, you’re likely to really stick with it. (I imagine the Kinsey 2s through 4s end up marrying women and then having three-ways or something, or sneaking around looking for quickie sex with closeted senators in bathrooms.)

On the other hand, women (not all women, of course, but compared to men) are much more likely to go back and forth in terms of their sexual and romantic connections. I’m not sure why that is, but I’d say it’s a simple truth that women’s sexualities tend to be much more fluid than men’s. Which, I guess, gives great reason to hope for all you hetero guys with girl-on-girl fantasies involving your wife.

I’ve never watched nor read Buffy, so whether or not it suits her character, I can’t say. But it’s definitely more likely that Buffy would go for another girl (without having a big coming-out arc) than it would be for two of the X-studs to reveal they’d secretly been longing to get inside the other guys’ leather.

I’m not sure why that is, but I’d say it’s a simple truth that women’s sexualities tend to be much more fluid than men’s. Which, I guess, gives great reason to hope for all you hetero guys with girl-on-girl fantasies involving your wife.

I was gonna say something similar, but decided against it. I don’t know if I’m right about this, and if I *am* I dunno if it’s “nature” or simply that being called a faggot carries more of a social stigma than being called a dyke…

But I agree.


Also, I have to say, the Gregs seem to think they’re being “very liberal and PC”, when, in fact, they’re coming across to me as very, very, conservative.

Pfft. I can’t speak for Mr. Burgas, but I would like to point out, again, that my objection is not to the plot point, but to the EXECUTION. It looks to me like cheap titillation and shock tactics, despite everyone’s earnest intentions. Sorry.

If you’re referring to my disdain for the fanfic aspects of it, well, yeah, I’ll cop to being conservative about that sort of thing. I don’t think the level of craft is there on the book — or on Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, with all the breathless excitement there about Kitty and Colossus finally DOING IT! — to raise it beyond what the fan writers were doing on sites like the Lois & Clark virtual season five, or any number of other examples.

The whole book seems built by and for the fanbase that is intimately familiar with the whole mythos. It annoys me. I think we deserve better writing and less shorthand and in-references from guys that are paid for it. Clearly, I’m in the minority on that, the book is a huge hit, but, whatever, mileage varies.

Wow totally interesting thread guys lots of thoughtful and fascinating posts. Totally not about what I expected when I started reading this page but cool nonetheless.

2 cents to chip in regarding to whom Whedon might be pandering:

From what I’ve heard from a couple of local con organizers, the most extremely hardcore Buffy fans often happen to be young women who happen to be, themselves, in love with other young women. Them Willow/Tara ‘shippers can be quite enthusiastic.

Joss may indeed be giving fans what they want, but they may not be, primarily, the fans you’re thinking of.

I know many straight girls that experimented with other girls. In fact, it was sort of an unofficla right of passage at my high school for girls in the theatre department to try lesbianism out at some point. For the vast majority of them, it was the first and last time.

This was the best issue of Buffy yet. Mostly because it was funny. I don’t understand why everybody makes a big deal of Buffy sleeping with a girl.

And if you follow what Neitzche said, women are more fluid about their sexuality because they have to force themselves to fall out of love with their mothers and it doesn’t always take.

I think, Greg, that you’ve got to face the fact that you’re speaking from a nerd’s perspective. And since when have nerds been authorities on sex?

Perhaps the greatest sticking point remaining in this debate is that our society as a whole seems more willing to label female-female sexual interactions as “experimentation” than male-male. This is actually a shift from, say, the 17th century when male Shakespearean characters could kiss, embrace, tell each other they love one another without necessarily being gay. Today, two women could kiss or hold hands, and we wouldn’t be able to easily identify their relationship. They could be sisters, they could be friends, or they could be lovers, but if two men kiss or hold hands, most people will assume they’re gay. I’m guessing this has something to do with the shift from treating the male body as the height of aesthetic beauty (as was the case in ancient Greece and Rome) to treating the female body as the height of aesthetic beauty. The entire spectrum of media (movies, advertising, literature, comics, etc) proclaims that women’s bodies are beautiful, so it only seems plausible to me that women might be more likely to question whether or not they find other women attractive. Personally, I don’t know any women who fess up to having “experimented” but I know many women, including my wife, who have fessed up to being confused about finding other women attractive.

I don’t understand why everybody makes a big deal of Buffy sleeping with a girl.

Because, apparently, it was THE selling point of the issue. Had it just been in there, I daresay it might be the organic, natural, character moment people claim it is. But it’s getting a giant publicity push. “In This Issue! Shock Follows Shock as Buffy gets A NEW kind of Action!”

Can you really blame some of us for suspecting the worst, in a market that already has given us this? Or this? Or maybe this?

It’s possible I’m jaded. It’s possible I’m being overly harsh. I AM pretty sure that Goddard and Whedon think they are trying, very earnestly, to do character. I’m just suggesting that they’re doing it clumsily, and they are doing it in a marketing environment that is geared to emphasize the titillation factor up to eleven. And I can’t help but wonder where all these liberal scolds were when, say, Grant Morrison suggested the Beast might be gay.

And since when have nerds been authorities on sex?

Apparently since Greg’s review was posted.

Hey, I’m 31 years old, and I’m still experimenting, and I know plenty of other people of both genders who also do that… but then again, I live in that hotbed of liberal sin & depravity men call New York City, so I don’t know if that counts :)

Seriously, people do try out different things when it comes to sex. And there is a difference between being a lesbian and being bi-curious. Buffy has obviously had enough relationships with men in the past that it’s quite clear that she does have a strong heterosexual orientation. Whedon is just stating that she is open to other things, as well.

Besides, look at it this way: considering two of her past boyfriends were vampires, i.e. blood-drinking demon-possessed reanimated human corpses, I would think getting involved with a living human woman would actually be a *much* healthier relationship!

Re: Whedon.

I find it funny that Brian K Vaughan seems to idolize Whedon for his past works, yet it’s BKV who was able to explore human sexuality and gender in much more mature and sophisticated ways than Whedon ever has.

Not having read the scene in question, but having seen a bunch of the TV show, any issue I have with this scene involves it being out of character for Buffy (who’s repeatedly shown an interest in fairly masculine men and who seems to have some reservations about homosexuality.)

I’ll also say that it annoys me that newspapers will publish articles of the form “Well-known character has shocking or out of character development happen to them!” without an consideration for whether such a story merits the attention.

Among other things, such reporting encourages writers to do stupid things with their important characters, which weakens the effectiveness of those characters as story telling devices. It also reinforces the gap between the A level characters and everybody else-you’ll never see a headline of the form “Ted Kord brought back to life” or “Jessica Jones abandons husband”

Freud has mentioned that all people are bisexual, we just prefer certain sexualities to others, something i personally believe in.

Whedon is a lifelong feminist, so i doubt its an exploitation scene. Rather more complex emotions from a complex character.

Nobody feels rage when a male character turns out to be gay after all, because the stereotypical baggage isn’t there. I dunno. I just read the comics, so nothing stood out as incomprehensible to me.

Andrew Collins

March 7, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Just to throw in my 2 cents here- I haven’t read the Buffy comic nor have I seen much of the show before, I am reacting just to your statements about gays and “experimenting”- all I can say is this:

1. You do not have to be gay to have sex with someone of the same gender. You can be bi-sexual, or even just bi-curious to try out someone of the same gender. Heck, I am a straight male and even I have found a couple men attractive in the past. Not enough to sleep with them, but I can see where it might happen for some people more willing to try it out.

2. And yes, ‘straight women having sex with other straight women’ is NOT an urban legend. I went to a primarily female college (about 70-30 ratio) and there were a huge amount of “college lesbians,” who were women who had girlfriends in college and then went back to men right after graduating. I’ve also had some girlfriends admit to having sex with some of their girl friends in the past. To them, it didn’t make them gay, just bisexual or bi-curious.

I think human sexuality is a little more complicated then choice or no choice. I think it’s some people know what kind of people they are into immediately and others need to figure things out a bit. A friend of mine is getting married to someone who was in a same sex relationship.

I have mixed feelings about the Buffy thing. But it does pose some interesting questions.

And I’m wondering if we’ll see a similar scene with Dracula and Xander :)

Whedon is a lifelong feminist, so i doubt its an exploitation scene.

Yeah, I don’t know about that. Enjoying dominant women does not make one a feminist. It can still show a view of women as sex-things, rather than equivalents.

Apodaca: I tend to believe that most of Whedon’s self-penned works are indeed works of feminism or at least with a strong feminist undercurrent, but the work of the other staff writers on Buffy, Angel, Firefly, etc. tends to muddy the waters.

In particular, one thing I will say about the feminist presentation of BTVS and the tendency for many fans and media outlets to suggest Buffy as a role model for young women–when the (super-powered) girl you admire hits the men in her life until she gets her way, she’s not projecting “Strong Woman,” she’s emulating “Crappy Guy.”

Regarding your objection, there remains a huge debate on whether or not the depiction of sexuality is a viable avenue of writing strong female characters–I generally fall on the “for” side of that argument; on that subject, we’re not talking about issue #12 anymore, however–we’re talking about feminism in general…

Xander and Dracula … I think they did that behind the scenes in Tales of the Vampires… ^_-

Anyway, as a Buffy fan and someone whoe is loving Season 8 it can be expected that I will defend Joss and his story choice. So I will.

Young people experiment with sex and sexuality. I’ve just got out of my twenties, but I teach high school students still and college students and the girls who are in the groups I run … well they have boyfriends, most of the time but let’s say aobut 1/3 of them have had sex with other girls. Sometimes once, sometimes more, when they wanted compaionship or just really “needed it”. Not all girls do that, some do … some guys too, but they tend not to talk about it as much. (As my “very gay” guy friends say it, alot of “straight” guys hook up with a gay guy everyonce in awhile because they want to or they get lonely.)

Anyway, the theme fits with Buffy’s tendency toward relationships. She jumps into them, and sex, rather quickly because it is part of her need to feel validated and wanted. As the Slayer she has spent alot of time alone, she wants to belong and since “as the leader” she feels the need to be solitary for the good of the group she will push people away, unless they won’t let her. Best examples of this her good friends, Xander and Willow (Giles too … most times). But the other good examples are Angel and Spike, particularly Spike. Even though she didn’t love Spike like she loved Angel she had sex with him and later a relationship because she didn’t want to be alone. (Main differnce between Xander and Spike, Spike had the ability to be as tough as Buffy.) Satsu seems to be continuation of this trend (and slayer strong).

My five cents, since it was longer then 2 paragraphs.


Eh, I dunno. I’ve known a lot of men who were self-proclaimed feminists politically who could still read and enjoy reading and writing somewhat exploitive texts about women as pure indulgent fantasy. In my acquaintance, these men do not indulge because they hate women, but because they love women and especially love the idea of women loving other women, and sort of lose track of where the characterization in such fantasy-fulfilling material utterly departs from probable reality in their enthusiasm.

I tend to think it’s harmless stuff, but Whedon’s writing gives me pause occasionally– many of his female leads seem to end up dead or absolutely deprived of female happiness, while also being written with a lot of the traditional markers for an author’s “ideal girl”, a sort of perfect fantasy given life.

Talented male authors have written such characters throughout history, of course, and they can play very vital roles in a story. Whedon’s ideal girls, though, seem perpetually denied romantic fulfillment of any real sort. It always feels a little like he wants to create them, and then destroy them– so no one else, real-life fan or fictional construct– can ever “have” them.

I doubt that is his conscious position, judging from his many interviews– but text can be interpreted validly as a window into an author’s subconscious, and I think some of Whedon’s work merits being looked at in that way. Particularly his comic book work, where his work is certainly less filtered by outside forces during the creative process.


March 8, 2008 at 6:20 am

Here’s an interesting article concerning “experimentation.”


Hmm..well we all know Angel and Spike had a fling back in the day. So why not Buffy and Satsu? That said if Whedon kills off Satsu in the near future I’ll be very cross.

Infinity Inc was awesome this week.

I have been reading Buffy Season 8 and I think the scene makes more sense if you’ve read the previous issue. Buffy has just confronted Satsu while on patrol and basically said, “Sorry, I’m flattered, but I’m not interested.” Then the Big Bad from this season shows up and kicks her ass. Hard.

So apparently, Buffy returns home where the only male present is Xander (whose never been a viable love interest for her due to their strong friendship and who has a romantic interest in someone else right now). She’s alone, vulnerable, and depressed. It’s been a long dry spell for her. So Satsu makes a move and Buffy doesn’t rebuff her. From the conversation afterwards, Buffy is still not gay and they agree it would be best to keep it quiet. Which is the cue for a half dozen people to walk in on them.

This doesn’t strike me as out of character. It might be exploitive, but Buffy really needed some physical comfort and the only ones around were women. She’s does have a history of using the people around her when she feels it necessary, so like I said, this doesn’t really feel out of character to me.

I’ll avoid the Buffy kerfuffle (Buffuffle?) save to chime in that I have had four female acquaintances who had tried romantic/sexual relationships with women once each and found it not much to their liking on reflection. They all remain resolutely heterosexual to date so far as I know.

I will admit that I’m one of those folks who doesn’t read Casanova. Issue #1 felt like a garbled mess to me, and subsequent pickups of the title and other of his books have simply reinforced my perception that Matt Fraction is rather overrated, getting loads of extra cred for making geek-hipster argot even more
impenetrable than usual in his hyperreferential style. It’s a skill, yes, and a difficult one to master, but rather pointless; a bit like learning to juggle spinning plates, really. When he tries to write something relatively “straighter” like Punisher War Journal the basic weakness of his repeating story structures and the thinness of his plot gimmicks are fairly evident to these eyes.

Peter Milligan, on the other hand, I think actually achieves a kind of brilliant psychological horror effect with his own sometimes deliberately obtuse and arch-ironic style. The newest Detective is no exception, though I don’t think he gets enough mileage out of the deliberate flagging up of the “Suit of Sorrows” as a blatant gimmick. That said, Milligan’s Batman work in general tends towards treating Gotham and Batman as an archetypal but basically coherent and holistic little cosmos of its own, so the Suit doesn’t seem much out of place in his Gothamverse.

I’m increasingly torn regarding Johnathan Hickman, though: he’s got a marvelous, innovative, and damned important mode of comics creation that really is pushing the medium forwards. But as with a lot of formally experimental work in any medium, he also has a lot less to say than he sometimes thinks. “Pedantic” is putting it mildly, for one thing; “polemical” too, really. But then — and I’m gonna get gutted here, effendi — Will Eisner defaulted endlessly into subpar schmaltz in nearly everything he created, and Jack Kirby couldn’t script a credible human being to save his life. They’re still brilliant, their works glowing and important, and their reputations sterling and rightly untouchable. I just hope Hickman learns a bit of subtlety at some point before he becomes a sort of comics version of Michael Moore.

Because, apparently, it was THE selling point of the issue. Had it just been in there, I daresay it might be the organic, natural, character moment people claim it is. But it’s getting a giant publicity push. “In This Issue! Shock Follows Shock as Buffy gets A NEW kind of Action!”

Fortunately, I didn’t know anything about the giant publicity push, and just read the book.

Greg H.:
Actually, the “conservative” crack was aimed strictly at Greg B’s “I’ve never known any women who’ve done that in real life, and don’t believe they exist” and seeming subscription to the strict-binary concept of sexual orientation, and, as I hadn’t read the issue, the fan-ficness (sic) of the thing didn’t really enter into it. I just roped you in because I was quoting your line about Whedon & co. “trying to be liberal and PC”, which, if you weren’t endorsing the above viewpoints, was unfair and for which I apologize.
Now, as for that fanfic thing…
Having actually read the thing last night, I found it unconvincing and out-of-character*, and, I have to admit, yes, kind of fan-ficcy (sic), in that “I’ll get these two characters together that I’m obsessed with seeing together no matter what, so I’ll just place this square peg at this round hole and take a hammer to it” kind of way found in so much of fan fiction. The subsequent joke-milking as everyone walked in seemed forced and not that funny as well.
Funnily enough, part of the reason I found it unconvincing is that seven seasons of the TV show left me with the impression of someone too uptight to try something like that.
Maybe if they had drawn it out longer, with this Satsu character crushing on her & wearing down her defenses over several issues I’d have found it easier to believe.
Oh, and we all have socially liberal and conservative** parts of ourselves; my conservative side can be summed up by a listen to “the Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society”.

* I hate using the phrase “out of character” when it’s usually used by the sort of shrieking complainers who get on my nerves so much. When does complaining about “out of character” cross the line from observation to “this is MY character and you can’t do things with him/her that I don’t like, even if you’re the original creator”?

Omar: Obviously I disagree with you about Fraction, but I see your point about Hickman and also fear that he might be heading that way. As I’ve written about The Nightly News, the ending didn’t exactly work, but I admired the sheer audacity of the plot. Same thing with Pax Romana, although of course I can’t say that the ending doesn’t work, as I haven’t read it yet. I will say that I love what Hickman is doing with the form of comics, and I hope that his craft eventually measures up to it and that other artists look at what he’s doing and try their own unusual things.

So in Young Liars, the bad dad’s name is Browning and he’s a freak and he likes to get it on with freaks? One of us. One of us.

That’s probably what Lapham was thinking, sgt. At least I hope so.

(I think as a Wisconsinite I’m obliged by law to address the Favre thing.)

I don’t think he’s any more or less overrated than Tom Brady, or certainly anyone with the last name Manning.

So, to recap: Greg Burgas is a moron. But I like his column, so I read it anyway. Gentlemen, even when one is an anonymous moron whose name rhymes with “Breg Gurgas,” can disagree.

I just don’t see how you can call Brett Favre’s career overrated. I agree that the media tends to ignore his downside but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t accomplish a great deal and deserve the accolades.

I suppose it comes down to how you would like to rate a players career. Is it by championships? Awards? Stats? Personality?

Living in Atlanta, Falcons fans have experience with one of the truly overrated QBs in history.

I don’t always agree with your reviews or commentary but I don’t think you are a moron.

I miss Greg’s Grammar Guide. What are your thoughts on the serial comma?

Just a shameless ploy to get your cheap jollies. Girl on girl action? Color me bored, that’s soooo 1999.

Bestiality is where it’s at, Whedon, you hack.

“Now, I know people like to talk about younger women “experimenting,” but does anyone have any hard evidence for that?”

Yes, there is evidence beyond anecdotes (although I’ve got those, too).

1) Roy Baumeister published an article in 2000 called “Gender differences in erotic plasticity: the female sex drive as socially flexible and responsive”. He presents evidence that women’s sexual identities are more fluid than men’s (http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/baumeister2000.pdf) That supports the idea that it’s much easier for Buffy to sleep with a women without suddenly being (identified by herself or her culture as) a lesbian, than for Scott and Kurt to do the deed without turning into f4Gz0Rz.

2) Lisa Diamond published a paper in 2003 called “Was it a phase? Young women’s relinquishment of lesbian/bisexual identities over a 5-year period” which found that 12% of their self-identified lesbian/bisexual women identified as heterosexual five years later (http://www.psych.utah.edu/people/faculty/diamond/Publications/Was%20it%20a%20Phase.pdf). That suggests that the LUG (lesbian until graduation) is not a figment of the oversexed male imagination.

3) An Australian study published in 2003 found that 2.2% of women identified as lesbian/bisexual but 15.1% reported same-sex attraction or experience (http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-842X.2003.tb00801.x). So more women report same-sex attraction/experience than identify as lesbian/bisexual (and the disparity is greater than for the analogous percentages among men). So, again, it’s not crazy that Buffy could graze on the other side of the fence without identifying as lesbian.

…So, yeah, there’s evidence, and it took ten minutes to find it on google (hint: searching for “same-sex” will get you a lot more reputable evidence than “lesbian”).

I thought Buffy had already experimented!

Like this one time, at Band Camp, when she stuck a flute… Oh, wait!!! That could’ve been Willow.

Never mind.

In any case, if “The Real World”, Mardi Gras, Spring Break and “Girls Gone Wild” has taught me anything; it is that any girl, no matter how prudish, is always a couple of drinks away from “experimenting”.


American Pie joke? Really?


Well, ClanDestine has been an enjoyable read thus far, right guys? Heh.

Birmy and Lucion: I’ve always had a slightly irrational hatred of Brett Favre, largely because of the media accolades heaped upon him (and yes, I know that’s not his fault). It happens in every sport – reporters latch onto someone they love and ignore the flaws in his game. I’ve been saying for years that Favre was too much of a loose cannon, but only when it caught up to him did the media bother to mention it. Plus, he cultivates this “down-home” image when he owns a private jet, which is a bit disingenuous. But, as an Eagles fan, some of his most ignominious moments have come against Philadelphia, so I’m happy!

He’s a very good quarterback, but I don’t think he’s one of the top 5, or maybe even top 10, best ever. Of course, being in the top 15 is not a bad place to be! I’ll actually miss him – he has that wonderful propensity to throw interceptions at crucial times!

And yes, you’re right – for a while, Vick was far more overrated than Favre was!

You’re right, Ryan – ClanDestine has been very enjoyable!

I always wondered whether Lapham’s superhero stuff was any good. I shall reads me the City of Crime. And Stray Bullets = Comics You Should Own! It was one of my favorites when I quit collecting comics. I loved, Loved, LOVED it though it sucked waiting it for it to come out when I had a weekly comics habit. Anyone who hasn’t read Stray Bullets is totally missing out.

Greg H wrote, “Because, apparently, it was THE selling point of the issue. Had it just been in there, I daresay it might be the organic, natural, character moment people claim it is.”

I certainly understand feeling overwhelmed by media hype. But the press coverage of the story is not the story. Being overwhelmed by hype can change your reaction to the story, but it can’t change whether or not an event in the story constitutes an “organic, natural, character moment.” Whether or not you had a boring American lit teacher can shape your reaction to The Sound and the Fury, but it doesn’t affect whether or not it’s a great novel. It is or it ain’t, and that’s of course up for debate.(And in the case of this Buffy ish, I tend to take with a grain of salt Greg B’s original review, since he indicates that he doesn’t read the comic and didn’t follow the show, so his ability to address whether or not something is in character is suspect — as he himself admits.)

American Pie joke?

Well Ryan,

I thought it was more of a “Real World” joke with an Alyson Hannigan intro.

But thanks for pointing it out. It didn’t occur to me that a 9 year old reference could be lost on some of our new “younger” readers. Good Catch, TOUGH GUY!

In Justice League: The New Frontier Special #1, I was a bit disappointed that in the first story, Superman is deputized by Eisenhower himself to go after Batman, and it reads far too much like a retread of The Dark Knight Returns.

I respectfully disagree.

This story significantly dovetails into the DVD.

In the DVD, the respective Superman/Batman/Wonder-Woman story arcs have been fleshed out and given more “air time”.

Superman’s conflict (which Darwyn admits in the commentary section of the DVD, was originaly similar to the Dark Knight’s) was almost nonexistent in the Comic Book; but is one of the main centerpieces of the DVD.

And to be honest, I loved it.

In the Special, you can actually feel Superman’s uneasiness; but is his respect for Eisenhower and the Presidency of the United States, the thing that sets up his inner turmoil.

The whole thing plays out in the DVD. And the Special serves as a great bridge between New Frontier the Comic, and New Frontier the DVD.


The Superman we saw in Dark Knight was a one dimensional government tool. The New Frontier Superman is a man that… well, let’s just say that he emobodies the transition that is taking place during the 60’s (and the story itself).


March 9, 2008 at 6:45 pm

Speaking of which, sean, how many of the people you know have “experimented” with their sexuality?

I do, but it from the way they describe, it sounds very different to the way you see it portrayed in the media.
ie. As it didn’t change their sexuality, or make them want to be bisexual, or even do it again it’s not necessarily their proudest moment.
Not that they are ashamed by it, but for instance I know one who makes a joke out of it and another who’s just like ‘I really don’t know why I did it’.
That said, I also knew a girl who would sleep with other girls as part of a three-way, but still considered herself hetrosexual.
That said, it is by far in the minority of people I know, and I’ve never actually seen a fictional representation that sounds anything like they’ve mentioned to me.
(And I imagine if they had everyone they knew walk in on them at that moment, they would have felt the need to change their names and social groups).

This all does sound like a sensationalist porn move on the creator’s part, but let’s take a step back. The line between comics and softcore porn is often hard to find. Isn’t that partly why we like them?


March 10, 2008 at 6:18 pm

This all does sound like a sensationalist porn move on the creator’s part, but let’s take a step back. The line between comics and softcore porn is often hard to find. Isn’t that partly why we like them?

I thought we liked Tarot because it’s empowering?

Just to add to the mix, in nature there are many examples of same-gender sex, such as Bonobos, where sex is used to keep things harmonious in the grouping.

As others have already stated, the fact that someone would be bisexual or bicurious can explain this behavior. However, I think your real question is: IS it well written? Is it well illustrated?

Although I have not read the omic in question, I am left with the impression that you did not find it well done, instead, you found it exploitative.

And apparantly like Brett Favre, somewhat overhyped.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it, lauren. After we get past the fact that apparently I know nothing about human sexuality (which could certainly be true – I never claimed to be an expert), the comic itself seems a bit, as you put it, exploitative. The creators MIGHT save it, but based on this one issue, it didn’t work very well.

[…] but I didn’t read most of them, because none of them are going to realisitically top Burgas’s reaction, so why bother? By the way, if Dollhouse is just a way to fund Whedon’s research in to the […]

[…] Xanadu #11- Spoiler: Xanadu and some redhead totally lez out at the end of the issue! I’d demand that Matt Wagner prove that women experimented in lesbianism during the Spanish Inquisiton […]

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