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3 Chicks Review Comics – Episode 002

It’s Episode 002! 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD TO ITUNES.

3 Chicks Review Comics is a podcast featuring me (naturally!) with fellow female comics lovers and bloggers Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass, and Maddy from When Fangirls Attack!. Tune in weekly to CSBG Tuesdays at 2pm as we review comics, and discuss hot topics of the week.

In our second episode…! Was J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman #0 worth the wait…or should we just keep waiting for Batwoman #1 instead?  And what’s up with Batman and his silly disguises?  Is this really the way the world’s greatest detective detects?  Seems unlikely!  And while we’re at it…who didn’t tell Bruce that Kate Kane is Batwoman? Someone’s in trouble at the Batcave!  What happened to Marc Andreyko’s Manhunter Face Off trade we were supposed to get last week?  Low pre-orders apparently means it’s not going to come out as a trade, but it’s still something worth reading.  Young Justice premiered on Cartoon Network this weekend didn’t have a single line of female dialogue for about 99.9% of the hour long premiere.  Some dudes seem to get mad when we talk about this…but facts are facts and is it really not a bit odd? Plus, everyone’s pick of the week!*

In addition to the blogs above, you can also follow us all on twitter as well: Kelly, Maddy, and Sue.

Special thanks to Nik Furious for our awesome 3 Chicks theme song.

*As always beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the books in question!

22 Comments

Jeremy A. Patterson

November 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I have a few questions for you gals:
*When will you do an overview of DC’s ‘Red Circle’ books?

And how about Heroic Publishing’s 25th Anniversary?

J.A.P.

GREAT EPISODE!!!!!!

i notarize Ross comment! great episode!!! better than the first.

i really related to your conversation about Young Justice. when i first saw that the four boys were getting featured for this movie, i was so confused! why exclude all these awesome female character for four boy characters that, honestly, don’t have much more of a following among kids than anyone else? it’s very disappointing. but i really think it comes down to marketing — there’s this weird corporate mentality that only boys care about this stuff. or rather, the only money comes from the boys. but that’s so backwards and exclusionary. are boys gonna like the show more cause no girls are in it? no!

thank jeebus that next week’s episode has some Marvel reviews in it. i can’t take all this non-stop DC talk!!! and you’re reviewing Heroes for Hire, which i’m super excited for!

Ooh, Heroes for Hire. Brad is drawing that. Good cast (is that the correct nomenclature?) . Where in the world IS Carmen Sandiego?

Bruce Wayne’s disguises were great Kelly. Come on and live a little!

Yay, Sue and I are on the same page on Batwoman. I would just say that calling the “crazy layouts” is doing a disservice to the art as is trying to speparate the “art” from the “story”. The Detective Comics run was all about the intersection of form and text to the point where you can’t really talk about one without talking about the other. Since Jog and Charles Hatfield talked about this already with a depth and eloquence I could only hope to mimic half of I’ll just link to their articles.

http://www.savagecritic.com/jog/a-review-of-batwoman-in-detective-comics-focusing-mostly-on-the-art/
http://www.thoughtballoonists.com/2009/11/sonofsteranko.html

Two more quick notes:

The disguises: We’re all too young to remember The Shadow looming out of the withering figure of an old man or unnoticed bookie with a demonesque laugh and a plume of smoke, but it’s a trick that Batman has put to great effect for years. I’m sure we’ve all read DKR, and other issues aside, I always liked seeing Batman don a crazy disguise in that book as much as I did here. Also if anybody needs a bit of fun and silliness injected into them to rescue them from wallowing in adolescent gangster worship it’s Batman.

Re the cone bra: I think that there has always been a burlesque element to Batwoman. She’s a tomboy army brat who expresses her sexuality by vamping out at night as a costumed crime fighter. The suit is more practical than a lot of the sorry designs female characters get stuck with, but there’s an undeniable fetish aspect to it in every sense of the word. I don’t see this as a bad thing, because Batwoman still expresses her sexuality on her terms rather than being objectified by it.

Okay … so this is a true story …

My daughter, Cate (5), LOVES superhero cartoons — Spider-Man (60s), Superhero Squad, Brave & the Bold, Avengers:EMH … Here’s the catch: She wants to see female super heroes.

So, Saturday afternoon, she watched the entire hour of Avengers:EMH in rapt attention, asking 100 questions. Say what you will about the portrayal of Janet Van Dyne on EMH (which I do not like), she is Cate’s point of reference. She’s who she cares about (besides Hawkeye) … and she was fascinated by the Black Widow and asked if we’d see her again. She even wanted to know all about the Enchantress, who was on the screen for 5 seconds. She has a similar reaction to Scarlet Witch on Superhero Squad.

Then, we started to watch Young Justice (which I thought was superior in quality despite my personal love of Hawkeye in EMH), she was done in 3 minutes. Why? I don’t think it’s a surprise that there was no female character for her to identify with. She didn’t make a connection and was off. (For the record, I would not have let her watch more than the opening as I think it was a little too mature for anyone under 8.)

This is a survey of one, but as a father of two girls who LOVE comics and superheroes, they need to see a peer in the comic to make a connection.

I was disapointed with the lack of female characters in Young Justice’s pilot, however palying devil’s advocate if Ms. Martian’s strength level and power set is close to the one in the comics she would have resolved the plot before the end of the first episode, with her beating Superboy to a pulp and we wouldn’t have had Superboy actively decide to help the other three and rebel against cadmus.
I think I remeber it being said somewhere that Miss Martian was going to be the big powerhouse of the team but that could have been fan speculation.

On top of some earlier iffy statements, some jerk also made a comment like “Can this podcast ASAP!” I banned that poster from the blog.

Message?

Don’t be a jerk (well, at least not if you want to post comments on the blog).

Good man, Brian.

Seriously … Haters of Fangirls … if you don’t have the decency or civility to tolerate and understand women or other points of view, at least embrace the economics of it:

If you want the comics medium to survive and, hopefully, thrive again, it’s a very good thing that women like comics, too. And, yeah, that means they’re actually going to have opinions and want to see books that espouse topics and characters and storytelling that incorporates their point of view. If you don’t like those books, groovy. Don’t buy ‘em. But, be glad that the ladies are buying comics … ’cause that will help the books and the creators you like our there. And, it’ll keep the comics medium alive.

But, spending your time running down women who have the audacity to like comics and share their thoughts about them? Well, I think we can find some ways to channel that energy in a few more positive directions, gentlemen. Sound like I have daughters, you’re damn right. And, they love comics. And, someday, they may actually want to share their love on the Internet and I want them to bump into as few close minded morons as possible.

As for me … the 3 Chicks can roost on my laptop every Tuesday.

Yeah…as a black comic fan who railed against Young Justice for turning Aqualad black waaaaay back in the beginning when this was announced, I sat watching the premiere wondering by the 2nd or 3rd commercial break “when are we going to see Artemis or Miss Martian?”……

Once we got the first appearance of Miss Martian (and HOW she debuted), I just knew that female fans were going to be pissed off and I totally agree with them. Not only was she “aw shucks, groupie-ized” in my opinion, but it felt wrong. The good thing is that DC is great these days at long form storytelling in terms of their animation but if you were like Marvel Smartass and introducing a young girl to this, there was no touchstone for her to latch on to from a female perspective.

Now the show was (outside of Robin who seemed to be channeling Impulse for some reason) good don’t get me wrong and there is plenty of room for growth, but yeah, I didn’t know it was 60′s Cartoon styling all over again.

I haven’t seen Young Justice yet, but I did see the new Avengers cartoon. Does anybody else think that Wasp, despite an awesome character design, is somehow written more sexist than Stan Lee did? Though I suppose MarvelSmartass is right in that it is a step above making every female character the Invisible Woman.

@julian Are you saying it is the character who dresses that way to express her sexuality? Or are you saying that it is the creators who are trying to communicate that aspect of her character by having her wear that costume? Also what are your thoughts that the creators made her father the designer of the costume?

To the first part, it’s kind of hard to differentiate between characters and creators, especially in serial publication with rotating creative teams. I don’t subscribe to the belief that these characters (most of them are really more like mascots) exist in some ideal form out of reach of the people who write and illustrate them. Since I really only follow Batwoman in the books she has headlined (didn’t read 52 and her appearances in Batman and Robin left a bad taste in my mouth) I go with the characterization I’ve seen from JHWIII, Rucka, and now Reeder and Blackman.

Having her dad design the costume definitely complicates things. On the one hand it’s filling in the practical role with high tech explanations for cosmetic designs (which are kind of ridiculous. I have know idea if red is ever actually used as a stealth color in the real world but it pops like hell in the art) but it definitely makes the sexual under(over?)tones in her appearance unsettling.

Sue and Julian, my challenge with the portrayal of The Wasp is the default back to her initial portrayal as “Hank Pym’s Gal Pal.” This played in the 60s, but one of the reasons the Wasp was always a favorite of mine is that she grew (under the care of many, many creators) into her role from socialite to fashion designer/mogul to effective and forceful field leader of the Avengers. I particularly liked her leadership played against a shell-shocked Captain America in “Avengers Forever.”

That’s the kind of positive, female character I’d like my daughter to see in comics and on TV. More importantly, that’s the kind of female character I would like to see/read for myself. And, it has nothing to do — for me — with sexuality. in the 80s/90s Marvel was able to balance a Wasp who was sexy and strong.

So, is the character of Wasp on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes bad? Nah. Just a bit “pixie-like.” Is she the Janet Van Dyne I love, nope. She’s backslided … and I think that’s selling little boys short that they can’t work with a strong female character in a show they like.

Then again, reading some of the comments that follow Kelly’s posts — there are plenty of grown men who take offense to fully realized female characters in the books they read.

Her character’s dialog kind of struck me as a vindictive joke at the expense of educated women in the episodes I saw.

@Sue: Thinking about your questions more I don’t think I really addressed what you were getting at. I think that the character aspect of how Kate expressed her gender/sexual identity issues were present in the text, but it definitely comes across most directly in the formalist aspects of the book, and while for the most part the two are in sync and empowering there are some glaring lapses, like having her dad be the one who designs the suit that is also being used to express Kate working out her identity, that run the risk of reducing her to a broken doll fetish object. It’s important not to get too enamored with form that you ignore it in its context. I do think that overall Rucka and Williams did a good job in giving Kate Kane more agency in every aspect of her character than any of her peers, but thinking about some of the implications of these oversights, whatever the intentions behind them, have me wishing we could go back to discussing zipper lines… at least that’s straightforward.

@MarvelSmartAss: Thank you so much for coming in here and sharing a real story about your daughter that so illustrated exactly what we were talking about (and what all three of us had individually experienced – except positively in that it helped get us into comics, rather than running Cate off). I’m sorry that this episode didn’t work for Cate…and I don’t blame her…it didn’t really work for me either…but it’s always good to hear how it is or isn’t working on the ground, in reality…in someone’s living room.

Also, thanks for the support in general. Totally appreciated and awesome. :)

@Julian: Sue kind of already expressed my concern with saying that Kate expresses her sexuality through her costume…in that it’s basically cannon from Rucka and Williams Detective run last year that her Dad created the costume for her…except she switched out the heeled boots for more practical ones. Rucka also addressed the red – in that Kate’s dad has a military background and mentioned that the color red doesn’t pop at night – news to me but Rucka knows what he’s doing (and a handful of commenters confirmed it – so I buy it). I think there is something inherently sexual or maybe fetishistic about superhero costumes even when they’re not overly sexy and are just functional/practical…I mean even the most conservative of costumes are generally skin tight leather (or vinyl or spandex or whatever)…so I’m not saying it’s not sexy…but in Kate’s case I think it’s more just a reality of dressing up in skintight clothes and fighting crime. She’s not doing it deliberately. She’s powerful and commanding and quite a bit beautiful…that combination plus fighting crime is going to equal “sexy” to most onlookers I think regardless of the details of the costume.

To be honest the pointy retro boobs look really doesn’t bother me. It’s more subtle now than it was originally, which I prefer, and I mostly attribute it to both Kate having a bit of a retro punk sense of style when we’ve seen her in her downtime and the fact that she’s a fairly curvy woman (and Williams doesn’t hold back in that regard) so short of a sports bra pinning everything down…there’s going to be some curves there…and in truth I prefer the pointy look to a push up bra look for Kate as it seems more her to me.

in that it’s basically cannon from Rucka and Williams Detective run last year that her Dad created the costume for her…except she switched out the heeled boots for more practical ones.

This makes the whole thing worse, considering her relationship with her father over her stepmother and the way that she has used more genderqueer appearances to leverage control over that. Her father’s contribution to the design seems mostly to fill in the practical military explanations like Q (again, red may not pop at night but it sure as hell does in the art) but now Kate’s only contribution is to take away an impractical and highly gendered aspect. I get what you’re saying about the fetish aspect being inherent in superhero (underwear perverts) costumes in general, but I don’t think that can explain this away. The design itself is one thing, but the way Williams renders Batwoman, with meticulous rendering on the leather(vinyl?) sheens accenting her form and bright red lipstick, brings those aspects directly to the forefront. And come on, that “retro punk sense of style” is directly tied to Betty Page and its own sexual politics.

Just got around to listening to the show, I know I’m behind!

I just wanted to say a few things:

- I think the whole ordeal with Bruce spying on Batwoman was very much in relation to Bruce spying on all these other characters during those “road home” one-shots. I realize this was said on the show, but I just wanted to agree with that thought process. :)

- Manhunter was really good but I also had that weird continuity/confusion near the end of the run. I’m bummed they’re not doing a collection. Does the same fate await The Question back-up?

- X-Men was pretty much my “in” to comics as well, and it was also my younger sisters. She never got huge into superhero comics, but she had enough nerd cred after that to be familiar with superheroes and enjoy watching those types of tv shows/movies. Although I don’t think she was big on Batman, but then again neither was I.

- I’m really glad you guys are talking about Marvel comics now too. It’s nice to keep things a little less DC heavy/biased.

[...] Wayne stops by to surveil Kate Kane and Batwoman. I agree with the discussion on 3 Chicks Review Comics that it might have been better to include this as part of the “Road Home” comics rather [...]

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