She Has No Head!
I’m exhausted and I love October, let’s do something fun!
What did I find when I started hunting for superhero Halloween costumes? Right out of the gate I’ll tell you I’m going to mostly avoid talking about the bizarre “super sexy superhero” thing because it’s just too easy, and also other’s have already done it before and better. Although this new “sexy Robin” is almost as good as some of those we’ve seen in recent years – like “Sassy Ninja Turtles” and “Sexy Spider-Girl.”
Let’s start with something that’s actually kinda good. You know there are bound to be a few Black Widow’s roaming around this year, and while many of the Black Widow costumes out there are complete shit, this one, which is a bit more pricey, actually looks pretty good:
Tired of a million (mostly) inconsequential zero issues from DC? Tired of the never-ending AvX event? Here’s a little something for everyone from the Indies…
THE VOYEURS BY GABRIELLE BELL
Every year, one way or another I find myself re-reading Gabrielle Bell’s Lucky. And I suspect her new collection The Voyeurs will also become a yearly re-read for me. Full of wonderful autobiographical tales that are equal parts hilarious and insightful, Bell has become an absolute master of autobio comics. I bought the The Voyeurs from Bell directly at her site, and if you order now you can add on her awesome July Diary for not much more. The book is also available in finer comic and book stores and if you must, Amazon as well.
So a couple weeks ago I posted a round up of my favorite news from SDCC 2012. It’s now only fair that I talk about what I found to be the most disappointing news to come out of SDCC 2012. And I’m only going to talk about one thing, because the continued weirdness when it comes to characters like Stephanie Brown and Cass Cain though depressing as all get out, is both expected, and perhaps in a way, tied to what I’m going to talk about anyway.
When I wake up in the abandoned building it’s late afternoon judging by the sun and I feel new, like I have been slumbering in a cocoon and am now emerging strong; like being reborn. My clothes look the opposite of new however, stiff and caked in dark blood. I unzip my bag and pull out some of the few items of clothing I own and change into them, testing my muscles as I stretch, my mind swimming about what I should do next.
I’ve had doubts about finding Jasper ever since he didn’t come for me six years ago, and they’ve only been compounded since things have gone so horribly awry for me since leaving the home. But when you hold onto something so tightly for twelve years it’s hard to let it go. Maybe impossible. He’s still all I want in this whole world. If he doesn’t want me around, he’ll have to tell me himself.
If you’re intrigued click here for The Girl Who Would Be King Chapters 17 – 20 or follow this link to my blog to read it online in full, or to download the first 20 Chapters in full (they’re on the short side!)
And if you like what you read, don’t forget to visit the Kickstarter and pledge – only 6 days left to get the limited edition hardcover (and more!)
This is the last week that pages will be going up on CSBG, but there will still be another week of pages on 1979 Semifinalist. Thanks for indulging me everyone – and for all of the support!
I’m someone that continues to not be able (or willing?) to go to the craziness that is SDCC these days – my one and only SDCC visit was when I was 16 – it’s a WHOLE NEW THING SINCE THEN, or so I hear.
So like many of you I must get my “breaking news” from all the comic sites out there providing crazy good coverage. A particular tip of the hat to The Beat which did fantastic daily summaries of all their stories, making it easy for me to catch up on everything. And for today I decided to do a little roundup of my favorite news items from the con. Prepare yourself now, there’s lots of exciting all caps talk.
OH! And to kick us off I’ll just leave this here, okay?
Turning a corner deep in thought I don’t notice anything until I see a shadow fall across my path and I almost smack right into her.
Apparently she hasn’t forgotten what I’d done to her and has been paying attention to when I would be released. She looks rough. Like the months since she left the home have been hard on her. I notice her hand that I crushed is still damaged. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that an orphan’s hand wasn’t properly repaired. My guilt doubles. Triples. She hides the hand underneath crossed arms when she sees me looking at it. I look up into her face and open my mouth to say I’m sorry but I can see it will mean nothing to her and turn away, determined not to get into another physical altercation with her.
And if you like what you read, don’t forget to visit the Kickstarter and pledge – only 13 days left to get the limited edition hardcover.
ALSO! If you’re headed to SDCC this weekend keep a look out for Meredith McClaren – who in addition to generally being awesome and having cool stuff for you to buy will have free THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING postcards (like the above) to give away on Friday and Saturday.
I’d like to open today’s column up a bit to your thoughts as I ask the question “Is it worth it?”
And when I say “it” I mean, is speaking out online and trying to move the needle on issues that are sometimes unpopular worth it in the end? We’ve had an excellent (and rather extreme) example lately in the case of Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter, which I visited relatively early on and was weighing whether or not to fund (I was leaning toward yes when her Kickstarter went viral). But Sarkeesian’s project went viral and earned an unprecedented $158k+ (against her original $6k goal) primarily because the haters, misogynists, creeps, “ole boys club”, and trolls came out in force against her to a staggering (and frankly, horribly alarming) degree. Thus Sarkeesian’s project became a big news item, earned a lot more coverage, and a whole lotta people (nearly 7k) cried foul in the form of support – and cold hard cash.
Sharon is becoming a legitimate problem for me.
Until recently she’s been a thorn in just about everyone’s side, but she’s provided an interesting opportunity for me to do good. Returning thrown necklaces and other bits of stolen property, stopping fights before they begin, stupid little stuff. Little stuff that makes people happy and lets me see my mother in my dreams. The dreams, even if they are filled with confusion and violence and strange warnings that I don’t understand, are still time with my mother. Until Sharon I’ve been used to people somehow intrinsically understanding to leave me
Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama. Alison Bechdel (writer/artist). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Hardcover. 304 Pages. $22.00.
Though on the surface I prefer Fun Home after one reading of Are You My Mother?, I suspect Are You My Mother? is a book I will return to many times over the years and always glean something new from, both as daughter, wannabe academic, writer, and depending on how my life turns out, possibly as mother, because Bechdel’s book is complicated and layered in a way that few graphic novels are and it affected me powerfully both in what I understood and what I know that I cannot yet understand. I feel that though I read the book carefully, and adored it, at the age of 35 I can only process some parts of it.
Perhaps I am not ready for the rest.
At 45 I suspect I will see it in a whole new light. And at 55 it may become something else entirely.. It feels like the kind of work that will stay with me my whole life, revealing new layers as I am equipped to understand them.
Berks County, Pennsylvania
The car hits the tree going at least forty miles an hour and I go through the windshield like I’ve been tossed gently by a hurricane. I land thirty yards away from the car on some bright green grass, barely missing the tree directly in my path.
Everything is black for a while.
When I open my eyes again all I see are these vivid green leaves floating casually above me, and I wonder for just a moment about their casual ways, trying to understand why certain parts of life just don’t care about the other parts.
And then the smell hits me.
It isn’t gentle like the leaves, but assaulting and violent. It fills my nostrils with the same metallic flavor that fills your mouth when you suck on your thumb after cutting it way too deep, when the blood is dark and black, not pinkish like a party. My head rolls back under me as my chest heaves up, toward the green leaves above me, and I turn my head to the side to throw up. Spitting into the grass and leaning up on my elbow I squeeze my eyes closed as tightly as I can, afraid of what I’m going to see when I finally have to open them. Tears leak out the sides of my eyes, hot and wet on my cheeks. The smell of my parents’ blood makes me throw up again and again until there’s nothing left and I’m just coughing and breathing hard, my small ribcage ready to break with the pressure.
Tw0 years ago my birthday fell on a Monday and so I decided to make 12 Birthday Wishes…and now every year Sue asks me if I’m doing it again. This year, especially since I REALLY want some things I decided to do it again even though my birthday isn’t until Thursday.
I thought it might be fun first however (and since I’ve become an obsessive fan of Mark Oshiro’s Mark Watches) to look at what came true from last time (newsflash – not a lot).
1. Cliff Chiang drawing Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey.
Well, obviously I didn’t even get close here because of the new DC52. HOWEVER, I did get Cliff Chiang drawing Wonder Woman, which is awesome and similar to what I wished. So I’m giving myself 1/4 point.
2. Monthly ongoing Heralds (or similar with an all female cast from Marvel).
Nope. Not even close. But we did get Duane Swieszernski’s Birds of Prey, so that was nice. Still, 0 points.
3. Moratorium on the un-zipped superheroine suit.
No, not even close, but I will say that 2011-2012 were WAY better than 2010, especially when it came to comic covers. 1/4 point.
4. Batwoman #1 to rock my goddamn socks off.
I’m giving this partial credit. The second arc of the series has not wildly impressed me with the writing, but the first issue came pretty close to rocking my socks off. 1/2 point.
5. I wanted my Stumptown #4.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago, before I felt compelled to go on a massive rant, that I was working on a Black Widow “Required Reading” post…and as promised here we are!
I’ve been reading a bunch of Black Widow stuff in preparation for this, along with the material that I’ve already read and so these are the books that rose to the top for me. I’m sure I’ve missed some things (and I’m sure you’ll tell me) but I’ll just let you know right now I did NOT miss Black Widow: Deadly Origins, Black Widow & The Marvel Girls, and the current Black Widow Strikes mini-series, all of which I found to be quite terrible. Feel free to disagree in the comments, but please don’t assume I didn’t consider them. I did consider them and I found them disturbingly lacking. If you want something really great that Natasha is guest starring in that’s more current than the list below, I’d recommend the very good Winter Soldier ongoing by Ed Brubaker. It’s a great book with a really well written (and drawn) Natasha.
I read in the Marvel Solicits for August that apparently “Hawkeye is the breakout star of The Avengers” which I guess means he gets a shot at an ongoing title while Black Widow is relegated to that truly abysmal mini-series that’s almost over now. So Hawkeye gets Matt Fraction and the brilliant David Aja and Black Widow still gets the equivalent of bupkis. Now, I don’t know what movie the people responsible for these things saw but I have no idea how anyone would walk away with “Hawkeyes as breakout star” from the movie I saw. I like Renner very much as an actor and I have no problems with Hawkeye as a character, but there is just no damn way he outshined Natasha/Scarlett Johansson.
Though some of my columns from 2012 have apparently been a bit controversial it’s been a long time since I engaged in a full on rant. Are you ready for it? Good.
Still high from my Avengers viewing a couple weeks ago I was working on a post for today called “Black Widow: Required Reading” when I happened to check out Sue’s DC Women Kicking Ass site and stumbled across this gem from Joe Quesada via Ain’t It Cool News:
In a chat afterwards, Joe told me that he’d love to make a tentpole [sic] movie with a female lead, but that he really doesn’t think there is an actress right now who could carry it, or a character that would work either. I’m thinking I might agree with him on this one actually.
As Sue said, this sentiment from Quesada manages to both insult all of Marvel’s female characters and all actresses everywhere in one fell swoop. But even more impressive is the fact that less than two weeks ago a movie debuted that is destroying box office records everywhere AND getting huge critical and fan acclaim. A movie with a large ensemble cast, that stars, in part, one of Marvel’s greatest female superheroes, and one of Hollywood’s hottest young actresses, and this character and performance are also getting huge kudos. I speak of course of The Avengers, and Black Widow, and Scarlett Johansson.
Like many this weekend, I saw The Avengers, and was blown away. I had a lot of faith going in, since I have huge confidence in Joss Whedon, but the ensemble superhero movie (hell, even the single superhero movie) is a herculean task to get right…and so I admit to being worried. But those worries were soon put to rest. Whedon delivered on every single level, and while one could complain that there could have been more plot, or more character development, I think in the end he struck the right (and smart) balance. Had he tried to do more (he was already doing so much) I think he would have ended up actually doing less…or at least doing less right.
Most wonderful of all to me (and there was a lot of wonderful) and least surprising was Whedon’s exceptional use of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. In a movie with this many “big” superheroes (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor in particular) it would have been easy for a character like Black Widow, with her more subtle power profile to get lost. Not only are her powers not as spectacle driven as those above, but every one of those gents has an introductory superhero movie under their belt already (ahem, some of them have two).
But instead of getting lost, Whedon utilized Black Widow to her best. He knew exactly where to put her for maximum impact, and he let her just be her badass spy self. It worked like gangbusters and Johansson got both amazing scenes, and also a critical role in the story, rather than just some cool one-off scenes. A director less familiar with female characters and with superheroes in general, might not have been able to pull this off but for Whedon it feels effortless – because it is.
And so that leaves us with only one question…when do we get our solo Black Widow film, starring Johansson and directed by Whedon?
Marvel would be fools not to jump on the opportunity to create the first superhero franchise featuring a female character, and I don’t suppose they’d hate the idea of making Whedon and superheroines work, when DC couldn’t make it happen with their star female superhero – Wonder Woman.
So, who else is ripe to lead a film and potentially begin a franchise? And perhaps more importantly as we’ve learned with Whedon and Widow, who would be the director to do it right?
X-Men Season One. Dennis Hopeless (writer). Jamie McKelvie, Mike Norton (artists). Matthew Wilson (colors). Clayton Cowles (letters). Julian Totino Todesco (cover). Marvel Comics. Hardcover, full color, 136 pages (includes a preview of Uncanny X-Men). $24.99
As someone always on the lookout for strong layered portraits of female characters, I was delighted to find just that in Dennis Hopeless & Jamie McKelvie’s X-Men: Season One (terrible title) in the form of their re-imagining of Jean Grey. I have never been a big fan of Jean Grey in any of her incarnations; she was always the definition of a Mary Sue to me. Too nice, too smart, too powerful, too kind, too beautiful (I mean she was a model at one point…gimme a break), too perfect, and everyone too in love with her. I mean, she was that character that when asked “what is your greatest weakness?” would have to be all “Um…my obsession with perfection?”
Sure there were portrayals of her over the years that I liked and stories I found interesting – like any X-Men fan I enjoyed The Phoenix and Dark Phoenix Sagas, and I never hated her or anything extreme, but she was never a character that worked for me as so many others did. Jean Grey never had that moment for me where a character you didn’t care for one way or another suddenly became amazing – like for Cyclops it was when he led the nearly helpless Acolytes out of the Australian desert without bitching once in X-Men #44 – I never saw Scott Summers the same after that issue. But all that changes today. Jean Grey and I have finally had that moment, and it was not just one moment but a slight tweak to her in general throughout X-Men: Season One, that has finally made her very compelling to me and dare I say, for the first time, she feels human to me.