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CSBG Archive

3 Chicks Review Comics – Episode 032



Inside this episode! Maddy’s back! Maddy joins us for another episode! Yay!  We review Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Jamal Igle’s The Ray #1, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s Batwoman #4.  For hot topic we talk about what we’d all like for the holidays. Lastly, a long deserving Chick of the Week – writer Marjorie Liu! Tune in on January 9th, 2012 for the first episode of 2012, a look at the bests and worsts in comics from 2011.  And Maddy will be joining us for that cast again – so make sure to come on back!

Links! Bat-Santa!, and MORE Bat-Santa!, What I Bought 12/14/11, Women In Refrigerators, The FedEx Arrow.

Also, for those that like to skip around to avoid spoilers and such, here are the section breaks:

The Ray #1 Review – 1:00

Batwoman #4 Review (which immediately devolves into another BATFIGHT!) – 18:14

Hot Topic/Holiday Fun! – 1:14:25

Chick of the Week! – 1:29:35

3 Chicks Review Comics is a podcast featuring female comics lovers and bloggers Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass and Kelly Thompson from She Has No Head! Tune in to CSBG every other Monday at noon as we review comics and discuss hot topics of the week. In addition to the blogs above, you can also follow us all on twitter as well: Kelly 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!


In regards to Bette Kane in Batwoman, if you’re going to complain/worry every time violence happens to a character in a comic book, then you probably shouldn’t be reading superhero comics. Almost every comic book out there has had a character (either the main character or a member of the supporting cast) has been brutally beaten at some point whether male or female (Batman has been beaten nearly to death a number of times, as have each of his sidekicks). Violence is something that happens to superheroes and their friends/sidekicks all the time, some of them even die (though not all stay dead) and it has been a mainstay of comic books for decades. Until you’re able to read the following issues and see how the story plays out, I think calling this an instance of “women in refrigerators” is jumping the gun. Flamebird was always a lame character. She became a superhero because she had a crush on Robin (Dick Grayson), her costume was ugly and over-the-top, and until the “Cutter” arc in Detective Comics she never took the whole superhero thing seriously. How these latest events affect her and drive her (not her cousin) will be something to examine. And comparing this to Barbara Gordon being shot is interesting as she became a very popular character as the wheelchair bound Oracle only to later have people cry foul when she recently got the use of her legs back.

@Craig MacD. This would be a super relevant comment if we hadn’t said every single one of those things during the cast.

But we did…so I’m REALLY not sure where you’re coming from.

You know, listening to this now, I think part of my problem with Batwoman overall is that I dislike the idea that she’s being patterned after Batman so much, in terms of behaviour and relationships.

I’ve already been there and done that with the Batdickery thing, and it would be nice if Kate Kane could have something new and different going on in that respect. Same for her sidekicks. I’d rather she not be built up with or measured by the same metric that Batman has been for so many years, you know? I’d rather something new and different to suit her specifically.

Haven’t read this run of Batwoman so far but I have seen scans of the latest issue. Having not read it , I don’t know if Bette Kane getting beat up was a “women in refrigerators” moment.

I have to side with Sue on the previous podcast batfight argument. I don’t think Kate would continue wearing the Bat symbol if Bruce was opposed to it. It was her dad’s suggestion after all. She would probably continue her life as a vigilante though.

For jumping on points for X-men, both flagship titles recently relaunched with new number 1s. So I would suggest both Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men. Christos Gage starts a new run in X-men Legacy after Mike Carey is done with #260.

Also Uncanny X-force started about a year ago and is 18 issues in. It deserves all the praise it is getting. Remender is a fantastic writer and i would suggest picking up the trades from the first issue.





I don’t think a new reader is going to be lost with any of those.


Though I LOVE Uncanny X-Force, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to someone new to the X-Men…maybe how good they are can circumvent how complicated/detailed they are? I don’t know. I think we have to see where Gage’s X-Men Legacy is going to go before suggesting it as a good jumping on point though. Wolverine & The X-Men and to a lesser degree (just because I don’t think it’s as good or as “new” feeling) Uncanny are good suggestions though.

@Maverickman874: No shame in siding with Sue on the last Batfight – I’m sure many do. But to be clear, my issue is not that Kate is necessarily attached to the Bat symbol (I agree, it was her dad’s idea and fairly arbitrary initially). My issue is that she would object on principle to being told what to do by Batman. I also think she would object to him objecting NOW. If it had been right away, then maybe she would have said fine. But now, after she’s built up a cred, history, respect (etc.) I think she’d be attached to it and annoyed that he thinks he can take it away arbitrarily. And given what I know of Bruce, it would not come with an explanation or any good/reasonable excuse. If he gave her one, she’d probably consider his request if only out of respect. But that’s not how Bruce comes at people when he tells them to get out of his suit, so I don’t think he’d do it for her either, and I think on sheer principle she’d say “fuck you dude.”

Bat-fight only a quarter the way through? That’s pretty blatant fan service :p

Actually I found the bat-fight fascinating. To me, it seemed as though much of the bat-fight occurred because Kelly, Maddy and Sue all had different interpretation of what Women in Refrigerators means. Personally I feel there isn’t one single definition for Women in Refrigerators, but a number of related but different concepts (probably a union of those proposed by each of the three chicks). Basically I’d list them as something like this:

– Disproportionate suffering of female characters (relative to the number of female characters present in the title and universe)
– in the case of death or crippling an established female character, this also leads to a reduction in the already limited number of female comic heroes and POV characters
– More graphic portrayal of injury to women as opposed to men

– Casting the woman as the victim, unable to defend themselves.
– Made worse when they display out of character incompetence.

– Use of the woman as an object rather than subject of a story
– Made worse (in terms of gender disparity) when the woman is made to suffer to advance the story of a man.

Batwoman #4 certainly ticked a few of those, but not all. As was pointed out in the podcast, most of the characters in Batwoman are women. So (at least within the Batwoman sub universe) it’d actually be statistically likely that a female rather than a male would end up victimised. Nor was the Bette made to suffer for the sake of a man’s character development. However I think Maddy made a good point that Flamebird did end up having a pretty poor showing. And (at least in this issue) her defeat and severe injury came across as a vehicle to drive the plot for the other characters rather than serving her own character.

Whether the last point holds in future issues will probably be the defining aspect for me as to this being Women in Refrigerators. If Bette Kane dies, is hospitalised, or otherwise discretely removed from the title, then I’d consider her refrigerated. If they keep her around and manage to work this into character development for her too, then I’d consider the situation somewhat redeemed.

However regardless of the Women in Refrigerators aspect, I found it harmful to the story they way Flamebird rushed off like a redshirted security guard and got massacred. It just seemed too obvious that they were setting her up for that; it’s been done far too many times already. It would have been nice if they’d found some way to defy convention and our collective expectations on that one.

I usually stay out of these things, but I’ve gotta say I don’t feel like this was a woman in refrigerators moment. If you want to be upset by this being a typical sidekick “maiming/killing” (a trope all too familiar with the Bat books). I kind of feel like this was blown out of proportion because the character in question is female and because of that I have a problem with the argument posed. As it was mentioned, I think what happened to her is no more motivated by gender than the death of Jason Todd or the suffering inflicted upon any other Robin. Now as far as how easily Bette was taken out. I honestly don’t know how much of her pre-DCnU history sticks. So she may be very inexperienced. Likewise, I also don’t know who the character who took her out is. He may prove to be on Deathstroke level within in a few issues. As a man, I guess I’m not nearly as sensitive about violence against women in comics. To me violence is violence and characters are characters. As an African american male I know what’s it’s like to feel marginalized by the way comics are written. But I’m no more upset about Bette being used to push Kate’s story forward than I am about Falcon being used in X-Sanction to move Captain America/Cable’s story forward. I guess at the end of the day if you want to see this as Women In Refrigerators/Red Shirting than you totally could, but where do we drop the line when it comes to perceiving “sexism/racism/etc.”?

@Jonesy Stark

I’d say Women in Refrigerators stops being an issue when female characters are given equal treatment across the board. In numbers, in diversity, variety of roles/tropes/genres, in levels of competency, age, seniority, etc. Until then, it’s hard for me to look at the possible death/sidelining/removal of a female character without a skeptical eye.

In most cases it has nothing whatsoever to do with intentions or motivations of those involved in creating the story. It’s not a matter of being motivated by gender, so much as it is the effect it has on gender representation as a whole.

But that’s me.

I love your posts, and I wish nothing but success for your podcasts, but I have to say:
Aaargh! Autoplay BAAADDD!! Rrraaah!!

(Lurches around room, knocking over lamps, etc.)

@Jack Norris:

Yeah, I’ll email Brian. He set it up, maybe there’s a way to turn it off. Otherwise we can put it behind a cut perhaps…

@Jack: Your wish is our command! Brian fixed it.

After listening to the Batwoman section, I just had a question/comment:

Does any one of you feel that perhaps Bette Kane was logically “less competent” in this issue because of the different kind of fighting in Gotham than she would be used to as a Teen Titan? I’ve always viewed the violence in Gotham as different than that in the more “superhero” cities, and perhaps it is the street-violence-style of fighting that Bette is so unused to? As a Teen Titan, the kinds of opponents that Bette would normally encounter would be more grandiose and less lethal (or at least more fixable, as those death rays and explosive blasts never really seem to kill many heroes), from what I’ve mostly seen in other comics. So the issue wouldn’t be Bette being incompetent at fighting, period, but more that she isn’t prepared to handle the kind of fighting required in a place like Gotham City?

My personal view when I read Batwoman #4 and saw what they did with Bette Kane was to show the difference between fighting supervillains and fighting the more “fight to kill” villains (even though ironically, Batwoman deals with more supernatural villains compared to the rest of the Bat-family). So while I was a little disconcerted with how Bette was taken down in her first night out, I still saw it as believable for Bette’s character just because I’ve read her fighting in Teen Titans before, and she’s never fought in the same kind of cruel, violent fight as she had in Batwoman #4. I can really see this as character development for Bette, as she comes to realize and think about what it means to be a hero in Gotham City, specifically, and if that’s a path she wants to continue on. Someone like Kate already understands, but Bette didn’t seem to be on the same level, and so I could see this incident as bringing the two closer together (of course, probably after the obligatory story arcs of being separate from each other, misunderstandings, etc). I would actually be pretty excited to see how the idealism of the classic superhero mentality clashes with the realistic mentality for these two characters, and see how they may rub off on each other.

In conclusion, thanks for the very interesting discussion from you ladies, I definitely have a lot more to think about from this issue!

I agree. Not taking a feminist stand but I wish more women superheroes could be like Wonderwoman or Xena (ok, shes not technically a comic book superhero) but seriously we need women who can be their own person. Not be named or patterned on their male counterparts!

@ Maddy
I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Sexism/Racism are definitely things that can occur sans intent because of institutional factors. Whenever you have members of the privileged majority writing characters from a minority group these things can definitely creep in innocuously. But I feel like for true equality to exist female characters must not be immune to bad events happening to them. If anything about Batwoman #4 upset me it was that Williams/Blackman fell back on the ol’ kill/maim the sidekick trope. Whether that sidekick was male or female I’d have the same reaction.


I see your point, but I don’t read her as being as attached to the symbol as to the idea, that is to serve and make a difference. If Bruce ever told to take off the symbol, she would probably launch into a expletive laden tirade, give up the symbol, but still continue what she sees as her opportunity to serve. But this is all conjecture on my part, so no one is right or wrong.

As far as the X-book recommendations, I suggested Legacy because Gage’s run concentrates on the faculty at Logan’s school so it deals with the new setup.

X-force was suggested because it is my favorite X-book out right now (seriously how awesome was issue 18, loved the flash forward telepathic sequence ) and the first 18-19 issues tell a single long form story.( if you are doing a best of year review next time, please mention the work by Remender, White and Opena)

Though I admit some knowledge of Morrison’s New X-men run for concepts like The World and Fantomex might be useful. Maddy said that she is familiar with adaptations of the X-verse in other media, which i assume includes the 90’s animated show, so Apocalypse, his horsemen and Clan Akkaba might not be an unknown concept to her. I guess the book is dark but you guys like Secret Six so X-force might not be so unpleasant ?


For UXF try out at least the first arc, “The apocalypse Solution”. It will be interesting to hear/ read the reactions and impressions of someone who is not well versed in the comic lore.

The Lazarus Pit discussion was THE GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD. Seriously, I love it when anyone totally geeks out like that. Awesome.

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