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She Has No Head! – Random Thoughts Mash-up #4

Batman Lil Gotham Harley Quinn Figure

Harley Quinn Figure from Dustin Nguyen’s Batman: Li’l Gotham Line

Thanks to the awesome success of the Kickstarter for my new book (and thanks to those of you that helped with that) I find myself with even less time than usual (or believable), but I didn’t want to leave you all hanging a second week in a row, so I thought another Random Thoughts Mash-up might be in order. Besides, the way my thoughts are colliding this is probably the most natural way to get them out there anyway.

Random She Thought: It’s She Has Random Thoughts Time! Get Excited!

Link Thought: 79semifinalist for twitter-y comics stuff, Kelly Thompson on CBR for review-y comics stuff and 1979 Semi-Finalist for everything else. And as always, thanks to Chad Nevett for the column.

Random She Thought: True Detective remains incredible. One of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen. But Emily Nussbaum’s New Yorker piece last week definitely got me thinking about it in a different light. Kind of an odd piece for a review, definitely felt more like an op-ed, but whatever. Her piece probably hit me especially hard because I could really relate to her concerns thanks to my similar issues with the portrayal of women in comics. Planning to write a much more in-depth discussion of her criticism and how it makes sense to me thanks to my experiences with comics, even though I don’t really entirely agree…but I didn’t have the time or mental stamina to get it done this week. Stay tuned I guess?

Random She Thought: I had a dream that a comic book came out that was exactly my idea for a comic I’m working on. Not just like “the same/similar concept executed differently” but like, exactly the same book. Jeez was it depressing. At least people liked the comic…silver lining…I guess?

Random She Thought: I finally, in preparation for Captain America 2, saw the first one. It was pretty good. Not really my cup of tea and there were some things about it that irked me, but it was really capable and it executed what it was aiming for very well.  I mean, it was WAY more capable and engaging and enjoyable than something like Man of Steel, and Hayley Atwell did indeed kill it, as everyone had suggested. That said, it was the least interesting to me of the Marvel-based comic book movies I’ve seen in the last half a dozen years or so. I am a bit iffy on military-based/war-based stuff. There are definitely examples of it being done in ways that intrigue me and there are plenty of war films/shows/books/what have you that I’ve ended up loving, but it’s not material that I naturally gravitate toward.

Random She Thought: Some of my lack of passion is also a general lack of interest in Captain America (as compared to Iron Man, Thor, Spider-man, X-Men, etc.) Especially as he was presented here – SOOOO earnest – and not that that was the wrong approach. Cap is kind of like the definition of a Mary Sue/Marty Stu character for me. I don’t read much of him in comics, but in the movie at least that perfection and overly earnest approach was present hardcore and was a mild turn off to me. Which is weird because I have this thing for “good guys” especially in movies and television (think Jake Gyllenhaal’s Robert Graysmith in Zodiac, or Mark Walberg’s Tommy in I Heart Huckabees). Strange. Anyyyyyway.

Random She Thought: With that said, Cap as super earnest and good worked really well for me (and for the movie) in The Avengers. He presents as a good alternative to other more sarcastic/world weary/conflicted/meta/self-aware characters, AND there was room for him to not be perfect as he came up against other “equals” in the form of other superheroes…all with their own strengths and weaknesses, some of which exposed his own nicely.

Random She Thought: And who can deny that Chris Evans is pretty much a perfect cast as Cap? Nobody, that’s who.

Random She Thought: The most distracting thing in the movie was the special effect that put Evans head on the “tiny before” body. It was not that well done. I mean, it was, considering what they were doing was very tough, but I don’t think it looked as good as it should have. It should have looked flawless enough that I eventually forgot about it. But I could never forget about it because the effects were not clean enough for me to stop noticing it. I noticed it for every second that it was on screen. It drew my attention from every single scene. And they relied too much on it. They relied on it as if it looked flawless (the way a similar effect looked in Fincher’s The Social Network – where I forget about it even when I’m LOOKING for it).

Random She Thought: I got an advance copy of Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer from First Second and it is GORGEOUS. I’m still reading but so far it’s wonderful.

Random She Thought: So last night was the Oscars and I didn’t get to ANY of the movies I mentioned last time (Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, or Her). I fail at life. Also, the Oscars are full of movies I’ve heard of but never seen this year. So depressing. That said, I have a screener here of American Hustle and after I put this column to bed I plan to watch it, so that’s almost like sort of seeing in the theater (not at all).

Random She Thought: It’s funny, I mentioned Prisoners in the last random thoughts column, and now I find myself mentioning the director, David Villeneuve’s, newest movie, Enemy (which was actually shot before Prisoners). I saw it at the Film Comment Selects Film Festival last week and it was bonkers. Very good, very interesting, but definitely… confusing and upsetting maybe? But my boyfriend talked animatedly about it a lot in the subsequent days, and that’s always the mark of something worth your time, right? Even if you can’t quite figure it out. Here’s a tip though. If you got a problem with spiders, go ahead and skip this film.

Random She Thought: It’s definitely intriguing enough that I want to read the book, The Double by Jose Saramago. Oh yeah, books. We’re supposed to be talking about COMIC books. Sorry.

Random She Thought: So glad to have The Wake back. This was a really strong start to the second half of the series an it was one of my favorite books from last year, so I’m pumped it’s back. I wrote about it for CBR last week.

Random She Thought: This month also sees the return of Buffy Season 10, with Christos Gage writing and Rebekah Isaacs drawing, so I’m pretty pumped about that as well.

Random She Thought: This week alone we’ve got Greg Rucka’s Veil from Dark Horse, the second issue of Marvel’s so far very cool She-Hulk, and Velvet #4. And those are just the clearly female-led/titled books (assuming Veil counts, which it seems like it should). Not bad at all.

Random She Thought: Honestly, the women in comics front is looking pretty damn good of late, well, at least female characters in all comics. It’ll be interesting to see how the land looks in a year (or even six months) I hope at least some of this holds. If it can I will feel really positive that we have changed the landscape in a more permanent way. It will always be in flux, but this year feels important.

Random She Thought: On the female creators side we’ve still got a long way to go – well, at least when it comes to mainstream comics. Ladies are kind of killing it on the independent side, and have been for a while. But in mainstream “big two” comics, while we’ve got some really strong women writing, drawing, and editing, the numbers are pretty sad, especially on the writing and art fronts. Speaking of, former editor Janelle Asselin has a cool recurring column she’s been running over at Comics Alliance (I think she’s headed toward 20 pieces so far – so it’s been going for a while now) called Hire This Woman…great idea, and execution. She features a broad range of creators both in style and experience to what they do – featuring everything from letterers and editors to artists and writers. She also does a good job of spotlighting the less well known, so check if out if you find yourself looking for more lady creators.

Random She Thought: Speaking of Comics Alliance, this reader photo from their most recent “Cool Stuff We Got This Week” piece has finally convinced me that it’s the right decision to take my Super Best Friends Forever figures out of their packaging. I’m not much of a collector any way but some part of me balks at taking things out of packaging – my very inner super hardcore nerd? – anyway, clearly that hardcore inner nerd is wrong, those figures look EVEN BETTER out of the package. As soon as I have somewhere cool to put them, they’re coming out!

Random She Thought: What do you guys collect figures/toys-wise? Do you take it out of its packaging? What figure got you into it?

Random She Thought: I’ve grabbed up a couple things over the last few years, even though I have the room to display none of it properly. My interest in figures/toys has been pretty low for my entire collecting life (and let’s face it, figures are an even worse bear trap when it comes to how superheroines are portrayed than comics, so it’s no surprise that it’s something I’ve not been terribly interested in). Collecting at all as an adult was actually kicked off by picking up the incredible Venture Bros statues of Brock Samson and Moltov Cocktease from Sideshow. They are utterly magnificent. Technically ownership is 50/50 I guess with my boyfriend (which will prove to be a terrible mistake if we ever break up, as they are definitely fight worthy). From there we ended up getting the Venture Bros bobble-heads, which are awesome. I bought some of the “action figures” for my boyfriend. I wish we could afford to complete the set for his sake (he loves them) but I don’t care much for the action figures. When it comes to toys and figures there’s just not THAT much that gets me excited. I guess that’s good for my credit card. I always wished they’d make figures with the fantastic Gotham Girls design from this short lived series. Those would make awesome figures.

Venture Brothers Statues

Random She Thought: I did grab an adorable Funko Rainbow Dash My Little Pony as it was just too cute to pass up and was given a hilarious Funko Lemongrab (best villain ever) for Christmas. But other than that I’ve remained pretty toy free. Every once in a while though, comics puts out something I really want – like this Harley Quinn Li’l Gotham figure (also pictured at the top of this post) – please the hyenas and Mr. J. doll alone make it a must have. So I guess I can never say I’m just not a toy person…it just has to be the right toy. I also totally regret getting rid of all the awesome 80’s toys I had. We had plenty of boxes and basements over the years, why didn’t I just keep them!?! Too many garage sales I guess, and I was too greedy. As a result I didn’t hang on to any of my great My Little Pony stuff, cool She-ra stuff, and See Wees and Shimmers and all that shit…so much cool stuff lost to time! Damn nostalgia!

Random She Thought! Oh! Speaking of collecting, I’ve been meaning to show you all this incredible photo sent in to me by a The Girl Who Would Be King fan. He collected everything that was made in connection with the book – all the prints, the magnets, the postcards, bookmarks, everything – and then had it all framed, with identifying nameplates and everything. It turned out stunning. He sent me a photo (see below) it’s incredibly cool (and massive):

TGWWBK Ultimate Collection

Ultimate THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING Collection!

Alright, gotta wrap this up and go watch American Hustle. Have a good week everyone!

 

 

16 Comments

For those who were too young to remember, Gotham Girls was originally a Flash animated web series back in the early 00′s. Pretty certain you can watch them on Youtube.

The Double (and anything by Jose Sraramago) is a fantastic book.

The Gotham Girls shorts are also on the DVD collection of the surprisingly-watchable-given-the-quality-of-Smallville Birds of Prey series (Dina Meyer is the perfect Oracle and there’s just enough Gotham City left to look great).
I’ve got SBF Batgirl Figure Box displayed, but I don’t have much jewelery so it’s mainly holding flash drives and plastic GL rings. My serious figure collecting began with the Batman Animated Series figures in the early ’90s and finally wrapped up 5 years ago when I found the centerpiece: A Combat Belt Batman in the package in Chicago. Since then, I’ve been out of the figure game, save a few Questions and the odd collectible every year or so, but those DC Direct Timm style Animated figures this fall might throw me off the wagon.

Interpreting “strong principles’ as “Mar(t)y S(t)u[e] perfection” is a bit off. A Mary Sue is beloved by other characters without earning it, and brilliant at everything for no reason other than the author wants her to be. Cap isn’t either of those things; he’s just a down-to-earth, decent guy. Superman has about the same moral outlook, and you wouldn’t call him a Mary Sue, would you?

@Lynn: Yes! The Gotham Girls “webisodes” or whatever you’d call them were wonderful (or they are in my memory). I think, based on those, I had higher hopes for the short-lived series/mini-series (which is cute but not much more than that).

@James V: Good! I aim to find out myself. If the movie is any indication, it will be incredible.

@SB: Huh. Good to know. Yeah, the new BTAS stuff coming out may be a call to arms for your collecting to begin again. Good luck!

@Michael P: I didn’t interpret “strong principles” as being Mary Sue. I interpreted what I saw in Captain America as being pretty Mary Sue.

He’s flawlessly perfect in every way as a person (except his physicality) and then when the experiment changes his physicality he is flawlessly perfect in EVERY way. That’s kind of boring to me. Like I said, I preferred what I saw in The Avengers (and the beginnings of what I saw at the tail end of Captain America 1) which gave him a little more room to be a “real person” rather than a “perfect/ideal estimation of what a person should be.” And for what it’s worth, I’m okay with Cap being one of the more perfect kinds of heroes we have – the same way I would for Superman – that’s cool, but there wasn’t much below the surface to beyond perfectionism in this first installment for me to latch on to.

Well, I guess we just had different takeaways from that movie. I didn’t see “flawlessly perfect in every way” at all.

@ Michael P:

Interpreting “strong principles’ as “Mar(t)y S(t)u[e] perfection” is a bit off. A Mary Sue is beloved by other characters without earning it, and brilliant at everything for no reason other than the author wants her to be. Cap isn’t either of those things; he’s just a down-to-earth, decent guy. Superman has about the same moral outlook, and you wouldn’t call him a Mary Sue, would you?

Speaking as a huge Superman guy, there is a bit of the Mary Sue about him in one regard. Basically, whenever he speaks to any assembly of superheroes, they tend to agree with him by default (except Batman). He is the de facto leader of superhero community in the DCU and that has never made sense to me in the post-Crisis context.

Pre-Crisis, Superman was the first superhero and, therefore, the deference made some sense. That have not been true for the last 28 years. His fellow heroes are deferring to status that no longer exists, because DC wants him to have that status without the attendant baggage. That is a bit Mary Sue-ish.

tom fitzpatrick

March 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I agree with you on The Wake and True Detective.

Such flawed characters perfectly played by Matthew and Woody. And Lili Simmons has the best line ever uttered on the sixth episode. The magic words that every man longs to hear but never does! ;-)

I hope that Matthew can return to reprise his role as Cohle in another season of TD. Woody, too, if his character survives.

Making Captain America scrawny, when the actor was already buffed up to be Cap:
They were originally going to use a stand in, someone who was scrawny. Unfortunately, apparently Chris Evans was a bit too unique in his movements so that method (which is much cheaper) was scrapped in favor of CGI. I know one of the guys who was on the team to do that, and they won an industry award for it, it was just that hard.

Different strokes, I guess. One of the things I really loved about Captain America the movie was that he was an earnest, decent guy right from the start; he didn’t need to seek redemption or avenge his family or any of the usual formula tropes. He was a good guy because that’s who he is. The part of the movie retcon that was genius is that Professor Erskine saw that in him and recruited him because of it. .

It is good to compare Cap with Superman because they’re both supposed to be aspirational characters. They’re people you’re supposed to want to be. Sure, it’d be impossible to actually achieve that, but striving for perfection is a pretty worthy cause.

Don’t get me wrong, guys. I LIKE that Cap is a good guy all the way down into his bones, it works well for him as a superhero and as a character, and especially as a “man unstuck from time” …and I’m all for it.

But perfection is not terribly interesting to me as a character – I’d like a little more layering and flaws.

It’s like when you’re in a job interview and you say that your biggest weakness is that you’re a perfectionist. That makes me roll my eyes. C’mon now. We’re all human. A character can be aspirational and still be human.

I agree that one of the strengths of the film was Erskine’s recruitment of Steve and why.

Regardless of feelings about the movie specifically (gonna be different for everyone, so I don’t feel the need to agree or disagree), since we’re talking about the similarities of Supes and Cap’s role in their respective universes, I will say I tend to enjoy Cap more in the “hero to look up to” role. They both obviously have that whole air of representing what a person can be if they strive to, and tend to be the hero everyone follows, but I feel like Cap has earned it more. Obviously, they both have advantages in their physical powers (though Cap obtained his, while Superman has them naturally under a yellow sun), but Cap still feels human.

When everyone falls in line behind Superman it can sometimes have the feel of “let’s all follow this perfect alien, because he’s perfect”. With Cap, you really feel like he has built his reputation on grit, determination, and a genuine belief in right and wrong. It’s why it’s sometimes hard for fans to decide whether to agree with Batman or Superman, while nearly EVERY reader immediately was on team Cap in “Civil War”, despite Marvel’s best attempts to make it something like an actual choice.

@ TJCoolguy:

When everyone falls in line behind Superman it can sometimes have the feel of “let’s all follow this perfect alien, because he’s perfect”. With Cap, you really feel like he has built his reputation on grit, determination, and a genuine belief in right and wrong. It’s why it’s sometimes hard for fans to decide whether to agree with Batman or Superman, while nearly EVERY reader immediately was on team Cap in “Civil War”, despite Marvel’s best attempts to make it something like an actual choice.

You have described exactly why I am highly tolerant of stuff, like Smallville and Man of Steel. It is really important for the long-term health of the character to look at Superman from various angles, find his flaws and tell stories about them. Both of those properties were flawed steps in that general direction.

Regarding Captain America, that inspirational quality basically is his super-power. I am not sure that you can remove it without breaking the character.

i am so jealous of your This One Summer advance copy!! i’ve been waiting for the next Mariko/Jillian book for forever!

i don’t much care anymore but i used to really bristle at people who kept their toys/statues/figures in their boxes. it’s fine, i guess, but i still don’t get it.

Drooling over those Venture Brothers statues, and that Harley L’il fig. OMG!

Well, if (heaven forbid) you and the boyfriend ever break up and the statues must be split, it is fitting since Brock and Molotov are forever destined never to be! Or something.

When I was just coming off the high of having watched nearly all of the VB eps available at the time a year or so ago, I bought 4, I think, of the Mego style action figure dolls from VB, out of box, beat up condition. But they’re cool, even with the Monarch’s one antenna missing. (Lessee, got the Monarch, I think both 21 and 24, Dr Venture, and Dean, iirc. So 5. Now I just have to get them out of the bag and displayed somehow. 21/24/The Monarch have AWESOME wings on them.)

What I did with the figures I bought in the ’90s (mostly X-Men figures, with some Spawn and WildCATS, because SHUT UP!) is gently tear the bottom of where the cardboard met the plastic bubble/blister pack and slide the little plastic bit that held the figure and accessories out, so I could play with the figure, but put everything back in place so it was still all together. I still have a couple boxes with a ton of those figures, and somewhere there’s a bunch of loose He-Man and Transformers and shit. (Like the Optimus Prime that I got…well, I’ll tell that some other day). I should see if the guy with the local shop who focuses more on figures than the others might be willing to buy some of that crap. So I can get other crap. ;)

That Birds of Prey series was pretty decent, and those Gotham Girls eps were ok, given the fairly limited animation I seem to recall they had. It’s been probably a couple years since I watched that DVD set, but it was deec.

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