I’ve spent most of my life aching for great superheroine portrayals on film. To see some of my comic book heroines reflected back to me on 40-foot screens. With a few awesome exceptions (X-Men, X2) I have been disappointed again and again (Catwoman, Elektra, Sue Storm in Fantastic Four, Batgirl in Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, Supergirl, Mary Jane in Spiderman, okay not a superheroine, but still) the list of bad performances, bad writing, bad directing, and just bad ideas is painfully long.
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.
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Black Widow #6 (one of the many Black Widow mini-series that came out in the first decade of the 21st century), which was published by Marvel and is cover dated April 2005. Enjoy!
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The site is all about finding those great moments for women in superhero comics…you know the ones…the ones that leave you with goose bumps, that leave you breathless, that leave you in love. The site is open to submissions from anyone, which is only fair as we all have different definitions of what inspires us from women in superhero comics. And what better month for a post like this than March – Women’s History Month.
Inspired by Sue’s efforts I thought I’d do a piece about some of the moments that have meant the most to me over my years of reading. I make no argument that these are the “best ever” moments…just that they’re the moments that have curled my toes. Which ones curled yours? Let me know, and better yet, submit your own over on THIS!
Word of warning – if you haven’t read the story I’m talking about, be careful of spoilers!
Click to enbiggen on any image!
“I write in blood, and the best truth is a bloody truth.” (Irvin D. Yalom, from When Nietzsche Wept)
The great French revolutionary hero Danton, who will lose his head during the ‘Terror,’ is making a rueful remark. ‘… But Robespierre and the people,’ he observes, ‘are virtuous.’ Danton is on a London stage, not really Danton at all but an actor speaking lines of Georg Büchner in English translation; and the time is not then, but now. I don’t know if the thought originated in French, German, or English, but I do know that it seems astonishingly bleak – because what it means, obviously, is that the people are like Robespierre. Danton may be the hero of the revolution, but he also likes wine, fine clothes, whores; weaknesses which (the audience instantly sees) will enable Robespierre, a good actor in a green coat, to cut him down. When Danton is sent to visit the widow, old Madame Guillotine with her basket of heads, we know it isn’t really on account of any real or trumped-up political crimes. He gets the chop (miraculously staged) because he is too fond of pleasure. Epicureanism is subversive. The people are like Robespierre. They distrust fun. (Salman Rushdie, from Shame)
“Girls are like slugs – they probably serve some purpose, but it’s hard to imagine what.” (Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes fame)
Black Widow #1 – 5. Marjorie Liu (writer). Daniel Acuna (art and covers). Blambot’s Nate Piekus (letters). Marvel. 22-pages, full color. $2.99.
I’m not sure I know how to write about the first five issues of the new Black Widow series without talking about my concern, frustration, and puzzlement as to why the creative team of Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna is changing just as this great series gets started. But I’m definitely having some mild deja vu flashback to how I felt when I learned Greg Rucka would not be writing Batwoman.
Let’s be clear – there is very little information out there, and what is out there (from Liu’s blog) says that it was her choice to leave and it was always intended to happen that way, so I’m not trying to blame Marvel. However, as Greg said in his What I Bought post this past week…WHAT THE HELL? Okay, Greg said it much more eloquently than that, but I’ve whittled it down to its core. It’s REALLY hard to launch a new comic series these days, especially one with a female lead, so I just don’t know why you’d let the creative team and entire look and feel of a book that’s looking great and getting a good critical response, shift focus.
I certainly understand that Liu can only do what she can do (although why Acuna is leaving at the same time is still a mystery to me since the visuals are such a major part of this book’s identity) and since she’s adding a new X-23 ongoing to her schedule I guess she simply can’t do both. Liu is also a novelist and I’m sure has many commitments beyond the comic book world (there is a world outside of comics, or so I’ve been told), so she may not have unlimited time for comics. But I have trouble understanding why anyone (regardless of affection for a character) would abandon Black Widow for X-23. I suppose it doesn’t help that as a reader I intensely disliked the X-23 one shot that came out from Liu this past spring, and I intensely liked this opening arc on Black Widow…so there’s frustration there for me. I look DESPERATELY for good books with strong female leads…and they don’t come around every day and it’s even more rare that they’re actually good – so this is a blow for me.
While we wait for chocolate malteds I notice a high-schooler sitting at the counter exchanging looks with the girl next to him. She’s gorgeous, and I’m not the only other one who notices it. The girl behind the counter waiting on them is also watching with an anger she thinks no one else sees. Some kind of triangle. We keep passing unseen through little moments of other people’s lives. (Robert M. Pirsig, from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)
Society had tamed the erratic fellow by co-opting him into the mainstream. For its largest threats, society reserves success. (Richard Powers, from Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance)
Let us not be deluded by forms of government. The word may be republic in France, constitutional monarchy in Prussia, absolute monarchy in Austria, but the thing is the same. Wherever there is a vast standing army, the government is the government of the sword. (Benjamin D’Israeli, 1852)
You go all your life thinking of your parents as these crushing protective monsters with infinite power over you, and then there’s a day when you turn round, catching them unexpectedly, and they’re just weak, nervous people trying to get by with each other. (Hanif Kureishi, from The Buddha of Suburbia)
I read three brand new Marvel superhero books this week, all with a female slant (headlining female characters and also featuring female artists, writers, and even editors) and I have to say, buying those books was one of my most enjoyable trips to the comic store in a long while. It felt good to have beautiful books in my hand that I knew were all about female characters and had women creators on board. But as they were all one-shots and minis I was also nervous, my experience with minis and one-shots being patchy and disappointing at best. But I still held out hope…so did they stand up to the anticipation?
Let’s find out, shall we?
You stay in prison, what your time calls duty, honor, self-respect, and you are comfortably safe. Or you are free and crucified. Your only companions the stones, the thorns, the turning backs; the silence of cities, and their hate. (John Fowles, from The French Lieutenant’s Woman)