Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

I'm back! And reading! And maybe even blogging! No promises!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Odd Thought:

I was surfing randomly and came across this.

I hadn't even realized that the story is public domain now, but it was one of my favorites when I was little.

It's the imagery, really. I'm not prone to visual appreciation, art and imagery have to be really striking or really bad to truly register past the story for me. But A Little Princess always captured me.

Everything was so vivid, I thought it needed to be seen. Unfortunately, the movie adaptations are uniformly bad. Well, the Shirley Temple version is preferable, but the ending very sugar-coated and simplified. And I'd prefer not to talk about the monstrosity that was the Cuaron version. would be an absolutely lovely graphic novel. All the textures, the luxury, the clothes and vivid characters... It could be breath-taking.

Even the structure, heavy image emphasis over the use of dialogue, really would work in a comic form. Even as I read it now, I can see how to adapt it into a comic script. With a good artist, it could work incredibly well.

It's funny, we see comic book adaptations of the Baby-Sitters Club and some movies, but I've never heard of anyone taking public domain classics and making adaptations of them. But it seems like there'd be some amazing possibilities to explore there.

I mean Burnett's an obvious choice. The Secret Garden and A Little Princess would make for beautiful comics.

Conan-Doyle? Sherlock Holmes as a comic has got to have been done. But still, it'd be amazing. Jules Verne? Sure, we have "League of Extraordinary Gentleman" but has anyone adapted his actual work?

Robert Louis Stevenson? Louisa May Alcott? Mark Twain?

I'm not sure how well they'd sell, but it seems like they'd be a good way to introduce kids to the classics. Better than those dumb yellow Cliff-Notes books at any rate. Or those dumb old Classics Illustrated. They're so static. The art, I mean. They make the stories a chore. The art should be like the stories themselves, moving and flowing.

Like comic books!


Friday, September 29, 2006

Why Essential Ant-Man is the Best Book Ever

I can't pick up my comics until Saturday due to scheduling issues, but I've passing the time with "Essential Ant-Man", which my roommate found and bought me.

It is, I firmly believe, the greatest Marvel Silver Age compilation ever.


1. Communists. Lots of communists. Often for no real reason.

2. Cross-dressing communists.

3. The fact that Hank's first semi-psychotic episode is mentioned way back in Jan's first appearance and 43 years later, he still hasn't gotten proper therapy.

4. How Hank and Jan's relationship is pretty much summarizable as:

Jan: Hank! Notice me! I love you! I'm hot, young, rich and throwing myself at you!
Hank: ...oh look, particles.

5. The fact that this exchange actually happens in the comic:

Jan: "MMM...It's WORTH being ill to have you hold me in your arms like this, Hank..."
Hank: "Poor kid...the fever's made you delirious!"

6. The fact that this exchange occurs while riding home on the back of an ant.

7. And that Hank's other forms of transports include a tiny catapult and rubber bands

8. And that the aforementioned exchange ends up followed by the best line ever: "You and your old ants! I'll bet if I had six legs you'd like me better!"

9. The fact that villains can pick up Ant Man when he's the size of a paperclip, reach down and take his helmet off. I find this the most amazing thing ever, as my hands shake, so if I tried it'd be *squish*.

10. For that matter, even when they pick him up, they always decide to kill him in silly ways like using mind control to make him walk into a river. They never just go squish.

11. Hank's former wife Maria and Janet Van Dyne only look alike if you're freaking delusional.

Oh wait. Right.

12. How in every issue after the first, they explain that Hank's clothes shrink with him because they're unstable molecules worn for precisely that reason.

But the very first issue? His first time shrinking? His clothes still shrunk. I think he's keeping those molecules for other reasons.



Thursday, September 28, 2006

All the posts I never made about Black Panther and Storm rolled into one:

It's occurred to me that I've never managed to post about Black Panther and Storm's marriage. This is odd. As it's an important topic, one I do have, and have had, many opinions about. It seems as though I should have made a number of blog posts about this topic, but never ended up doing so.

To compensate for this, please allow me to walk you through my entire thought processes about this couple from beginning to end:

-->Black Panther and Storm are getting married? That seems a little arbitrary doesn't it? I mean, didn't they date once like decades ago or something?

-->As cool as Panther is, I'm not sure he's worthy of my favorite female Marvel character. She's like the most formidable female X-Man. I'm such a Storm fangirl. If they're marrying her off to someone, couldn't they make it someone more important fandom wise? Like Wolverine? I hate Wolverine, but he's very popular and it could make for a neat story. They have lots of chemistry too and it'd pull her more into the spotlight AS SHE DESERVES. :-)

-->She's not going to be in X-Men anymore? She's going to be supporting in his book? Damnit. They could at least give her shared billing. Probably increase sales/importance even more that way.

-->Okay, all griping aside, this could be cool. This could be awesome. This man is a king. He's a good guy, but he's got a king's ego. He's used to being the supreme number one person. He could have his pick of many beautiful women all over the world, more than willing to let him have his way and take charge. But he picks Storm. Co-leader of the X-Men, a prideful, arrogant, forceful and powerful woman. He wants an equal mate, which is great. And hot.

But he's a king, so he'll be unconsciously still expecting subservience at least at first. And he's married a woman once worshipped as a goddess. They are going to clash. And it's going to be messy. And he'll be forced to realize what he's accustomed to does not apply to his wife, so they're going to have to write new rules from now on.

This could be really neat!

-->Hey, and Storm's own storyline could be really interesting too. Sure she's African, but not all of Africa is the same. Wakanda will be very different from Egypt or Kenya. And Storm's spent a long time in America, leading a very American team. She'll have been Americanized. And now she's Queen of this foreign country.

Being a Queen won't be anything like being a child street thief, a nature goddess (goddesses don't have to worry about diplomacy) or a leader of a mutant strike force. This is going to be a brand new experience for her.

She'll need to study, work with elders who'll have unreasonable expectations of her, she'll have to tour the country, the weapons facilities, meet the people in person, learn diplomacy.

And heck, her background could end up an interesting source of friction too. Not that I think T'Challa is classist. But he's a prince, son of a king. Now, I could be wrong, there's a lot of his comics that I've never read, but I'm going to make the assumption that T'Challa probably has never been a cold, hungry, frightened child homeless on the streets of a dangerous city. And Storm has never been a prince, raised from birth with all of this pressure and responsibility and ingrained duty, with all the family issues and intrigue that even reading about second hand makes my head spin. That makes for so many possibilities!

Okay, this could be fantastic.

-->I still think the comic should be renamed "Black Panther and Storm".

-->Hmm. I'm glad Storm is getting her own miniseries but could they please make it not suck.

-->Oh god. Someone's going to use this as why "Comics shouldn't market toward women." Which is dumb. Because this is NOT what we want.

-->Damn, a Storm comic could have been SO COOL.

-->Wedding. Hmm. Okay. I wish it could have been more about them and less about the cease fire. But okay. I also wish we could have more than just some pretty speeches about Storm's feelings on all this. I mean. T'Challa doesn't need to make speeches. We know how he feels. One could wish for the same with her.

Art's pretty. Ragnell sees symbolism. Fortunately I'm not visually/pictorially inclined. I need to be whacked with the symbolism bat three times before seeing anything.



*looks around* Hmm. Okay. DENIAL! :-) At least it's pretty!

-->Later: disappointing. Terribly disappointing.

-->BP 19. *throws against wall*

So there you go. All the blog posts I didn't make about the topic. I'm disappointed, upset and a little angry. I wanted to believe my initial trepidation was me being oversensitive. There was so much potential for this partnership, even if it wasn't taken in the same direction as I fantasized. But this...

My initial misgivings were justified. And I hate that. Because it could have been SO COOL. I guess it still could be, but there's so many missed-opportunities that I can't be optimistic. Maybe with a new writer...

Hey, anyone seen Christopher Priest?

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Begging Forgiveness

In my last post, my conjecture about Darkseid/Catwoman managed to offend Chris Sims so much that he's threatening to banish me from the blogosphere, back to my hellish homeland of livejournal and fanficdom that I fled so long ago!

Or something like that.

So now I feel the need to publically grovel with a humble offering of contrition:

Please let me stay! I'm begging you!


It's Not All About YOU

The other day, I read a person's idea for Nightwing. I'm not a Nightwing fan, but I tend to think I should be, and I would be, if the writing ideas behind him were different, so I find these neat.

Now the idea itself wasn't bad. Having Dick do undercover work in Baltimore. It's not my choice as I'd prefer him to interact with a group of supporting characters he could be himself around. But it definitely seems workable.

Then I got to this part:

"As a side note... Dick belongs with Babs - there will be no interference in this area."

That's it really. The writer then digressed into how he needs his spine back and a good job.

I'm not sure why this bothers me. Maybe it's the lack of justification. I mean, this is this person's blog, so naturally she has no obligation to explain her opinions to me. But, the blind "this is the cold hard truth" way it was stated bothered me.

Not to mention that there's no explanation for how to get them back together. Because, face it, proposal or not, the two are NOT together right now. We don't have a case of two magnets being drawn together until a piece of paper is placed in between. These are two characters clearly moving in opposite directions. Inertia is against them, not for them. Interference is required to get them back together.

It reeks of fan-entitlement to me. "This should be this way because *I* want it this way" even though it doesn't make sense in the narrative.

Look, I admit to my own biases against the pairing. I've even posted about it. But this attitude rankles me.

Possibly because (and this is not fair painting everyone with the same brush, I know ) every time I've gotten into a discussion about the pairing it'd go as follows:

Random Person: Oh! Dick should get with Babs!
Me: Hmm, I'm not a big fan of the pairing.
Random Person: Aw, why? Dick and Babs would make a great couple!
Me: Well (insert a few reasons basically stated in the post I linked above)
Random Person: But...Dick and Babs belong together!

I'm not saying that every Dick/Babs fan is like this. There are many with, I'm sure, very reasonable and logical reasons why they're compatible. And they certainly don't have to justify themselves to a skeptic like me.

But the fact is, I haven't read a single justification that went beyond: "But they were together before and it was good!"

Which is true enough. A good writer could probably pair Darkseid and Catwoman together and make it fun.

That hardly means characters belong together. Even history of having been together before does not make the characters compatible now.

I admit, I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here. I've argued that Steve Trevor and Diana belong together. Even though they haven't been for twenty some odd years. Even though as current continuity has it, some massive retcons would be needed to make the couple work.

But I think there's a big difference. Steve and Diana were together for the Golden Age and while dicked with a lot in the Silver Age, still tended to end up together. He was created to be her Lois Lane, created as a partner/love interest.

In contrast, Barbara wasn't created to be Dick's girlfriend or vice versa. And as for history...honestly, the pairing itself is a relatively modern invention. When Babs was originally introduced she was quite a bit older than Dick and didn't see him as love interest material.

It's only later that she was actually tweaked to be the same age as Robin. And it took quite a while for them to actually start dating anyway.

Besides, if you are going to be using past stories to justify a couple in comics, he was dating Kory a lot longer than Babs. And even almost married her. More than once. I'm not saying that makes this pairing more valid than Dick/Babs. But it makes it AS valid.

Babs might have gotten a proposal. But Kory had a wedding. I'm just saying.

I've never read a Dick/Babs manifesto posted by any fan of the couple that really convinced me that they could work. And in general, they didn't tend to give many reasons behind it.

Except occasionally the "Well, she's a distant, shy geek, but Dick could bring her out of her shell" reason.

Which I'm sorry, but you have to WANT to come out of your shell for that to work. And even've got a very independent person who likes her space, bristles when someone offers to help PUSH HER CHAIR and a very effusive guy, public with his emotions and very demonstrative in his gestures. It sounds pretty, but it basically requires Babs to either CHANGE WHO SHE IS, put up with the invasion of personal space that gets irritating and uncomfortable, or be closed off and make DICK miserable.

The thing is, most fans of the Dick/Babs pairing I've seen that use that justification are academic, scholarly, bookish women. They are, if I may be so bold to conjecture, very confident online but possibly less so in real life.

The fantasy of the hot guy noticing the shy geeky girl and reaching out for her is not uncommon.

I tend to think that when certain of these fans say "Barbara" they actually mean "Me".

Because honestly, Barbara IS a geek. But shy? Unassuming? Unnoticed? No way. This is a woman with highly trained operatives at her command. This is a woman that the Justice League considers invaluable. This woman has contacts and connections throughout the world.

If she's not reaching out, it's not because she needs rescue. It's because she DOESN'T WANT TO.

It says something, I think, that pretty much every female fan I can think of who insists this pairing should be tend to be more vocally fannish regarding Dick Grayson than Barbara Gordon.

Straight male fans I think tend to be similar, from the opposite perspective. Most are huge Babs fans rather than Dick's. And why not? She's beautiful, sexy and smart. A geek's dream girl. I don't think it's necessarily a stretch to suggest that most of these fans might like to imagine they're a superhero, able to reach out and win this attractive unattainable woman. They tend to be less militant about it and more "wouldn't it be cool if..."

I'm being uncharitable. I do know there are fans of this couple that genuinely like both characters. But they tend not to be the ones that have that streak of fan-entitlement. The "DICK MUST BE WITH BABS!" extremeness.

But when I consider the rabid usually female fans that rage at Dan Didio for publically saying the characters are not and will not be together as long as he's Editor. They're not reasonable.

I've heard the argument that it isn't Didio's place to say that a couple shouldn't be together.

Honestly. YES IT IS. The man is EDITOR-IN-CHIEF. Which means whatever product comes out, comes out with his creative fingerprints on it. If he thinks that pairing two characters together is a bad idea in terms of characterization, then it is HIS JOB to make sure that it doesn't happen.

For the record, while I'm sure he has business justifications as well, I know for certain that many of his objections to the couple are on a character level.

Because I asked him. He phrased his answer in terms of how Dick or Babs (or more accurately people like them) would really react. Now I'm not saying that we should always agree with his interpretations of the characters.

I'm saying that as EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, he has the responsibility to veto changes that he thinks defy the core characterization of the characters.

Look, I'm not saying that Dick and Babs can't be written well as a couple. Or that they shouldn't ever be a couple.

I'm saying they're NOT A COUPLE.

They don't "belong together". They're not "starcrossed lovers kept apart by the cruel hand of Didio Fate."

It's time to deal with reality.

FACT: Dick and Babs are not together.

This is not a matter of interpretation. It's not a matter of debate. They are NOT together. Now what happens next, do they meet other people, do they get back together...that's up to you.

Until it's contradicted by the next issue of course.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Incoherent Freedom Fighters Rant:

Okay, I'm trying to like the new Freedom Fighters, I really am. I think there are some great ideas there. I like GI Joe Commando type Doll Man, Firebrand is interesting, Uncle Sam is always fun...

But I have one problem. Make that two.

Stormy Knight's breasts.

It's not the size that bothers me. I mean heck, I'm a huge Power Girl fan after all. It's not the character, I think Stormy seems interesting.

Her name is dumb, but since she IS a model, I'm going to assume it's a stage name.

My problem is that her breasts are not drawn in any way that looks remotely natural. They look like plastic balloons. They're shiny. They are reflecting the light.

I hate to be catty, but I can't help but wonder if a certain artist and colorist have ever actually seen a real set of boobs up close before.

It's appalling. How is that attractive? I mean, I'm not particularly interested in women, but I can't really imagine how a straight man (or a lesbian) could possibly prefer something that looks like a blow up doll and even reflects light like one could possibly be preferable to breasts with a natural shape/color.

I'm not someone prone to letting bad art get in the way of a good story. I'm pretty immune to it really. I mean, good art is vastly preferable, but as I'm not terribly visually oriented, I can be pretty hard to faze.

My favorite comic is Warrior. That should say something right there.

But this. I keep trying, but I really can't get past it. And it upsets me because I really do think I'm missing something good.

It's really upsetting. I want to spend my money on this comic, I really really do. But I can't justify it.


Thank you.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Young Avengers

Thanks to you and you, I've found myself reading Young Avengers and really really liking it.

This probably isn't a shock to anyone who's already read the series. It's cute, witty and the characters are fun. It's also got a very Marvel take on a theme that I'd considered previously to be almost solely DC related: legacy.

It's not like "Captain America", "Thor", "Hulk" or "Iron Man" are really inheritable roles even in the sense that "Superman", "Batman" or "Wonder Woman" are (in theory at least), and it's not like the YA members are actually sidekicks. But there's a lot of emphasis on the inspirational roles that the superheroes have and a lot of interesting familial ties that make things fun.

Not to mention that unlike most of Marvel's franchises, there's a real sense of fun here. Not that Spiderman, Avengers and X-Men aren't fun. They're lots of fun to read, but it rarely seems like the characters are having fun doing it. Here, it definitely seems like they're having fun.

These themes are part of the reason I'm 85-90% a DC reader, so I'm thrilled to see them in a Marvel setting.

But really I love this comic for one bit, from YA #1:

Now. They've probably mentioned this before. I don't know. There are many decades I haven't seen of Marvel comics. I'm not a huge Spiderman fan anyway.

But when I read this page, with J.Jonah Jameson's memories of idolizing Bucky. It was like...YES. This one page turned a guy I'd been considering a one-note sputtering cartoon character for years into a human being for me. It made so much sense.

As a child, J. Jonah Jameson idolized Bucky. And then Bucky died. And that, while probably not new information to anyone but me, gives so much more depth to the way I perceive Jameson.

How much might the memory of a dead child-hero really play into the man's very vocal hatred of Spiderman...who'd started as a teenaged hero. How much of his bluster did he actually mean, and how much was masking something else entirely.

It actually makes me almost want to hunt down old Spiderman issues and read him again. See how this new information makes me read him differently. Maybe later. But it's still pretty damn cool...

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Brief Moment of Unintentional Hilarity:

Okay, this amuses me, for some reason.

I mean, regardless of one's opinion on the actual debated topic (Arisia's costume*), it's hard not to appreciate the very funny and mildly irksome fact that a couple of comic book fans are accusing another of over-analysis.

These are guys who'll spend hours debating the merits of Golden Age versus Silver and/or Modern Age, which character is the real Green Lantern, or who's the more powerful in any given situation. But if someone dares to bring that same level of analysis to something like a heroine's costume it's "reading too much into it"?

I'm thinking this sort of thing might be a clue why so many feminists are temperamental. Just a thought.

(* for the record, while I understand the arguments on both sides, I have absolutely no opinion one way or another on Arisia's costume. This however, I have an opinion on.)


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wildstorm Random Thoughts:

I've always had a mixed sort of reaction to Wildstorm products (for that matter Image as well, I'm never sure when some series switched over).

Take the Authority for instance. It's very clever, I like the characters, and the concept is very original. But I'm never really sure if I like the series.

I think this may be rather similar actually to my reaction to the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Interesting ideas, but seems to try way too hard to be edgy sometimes.

That said Jack's got the coolest power ever and Apollo and Midnighter are very cute. I'm not sure if I'll pick up Midnighter's solo series coming up. I'm happy that it doesn't seem like they'll be breaking up the couple, just focusing on what he does on his own. But honestly, I much prefer Apollo as a character than Midnighter. Midnighter's a bit too over the top without Apollo humanizing him.

I will though likely pick up the first Authority and WildCATS. I've heard Morrison might be using some of the version 3 story with "Jack Marlowe" and the company. I'm really hoping that's the case. I'd thought that was a really interesting idea. Though I was sad that "Jack" had changed so far from Hadrian 7 (my favorite WildCAT) to be almost completely unrecognizable. Still I'll probably like it.

As long as Voodoo's not there anyway. Man do I hate that character. I hate her more than I hate Dick Grayson. And that's saying someting. :-)

I've never gotten around to reading Ex Machina, though I've heard it's really good.

Can someone fill me in on this "Worldstorm" thing? It's been a while since I've read Wildstorm. Is it like Crisis was? Or is it something else entirely?

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Friday, September 22, 2006

52, My thoughts so far

So 52 has reached week 20. That seems like a milestone, so I decided to write down a collection of opinions about the individual storylines going on thus far, possibly a few casual predictions (very likely completely wrong) about what'll happen next. I'll try to avoid any major spoilers for the current issue, but I can't promise anything, so be warned.

Montoya and the Question: This is probably my favorite ongoing storyline thus far. I admit that sometimes the dialogue can get really awkward, especially when the writing starts channeling a bad Dashiell Hammett. But I really like the characters and I really like their interactions. The Question seems humanized here in a way that I haven't seen him humanized in a long time. I've always thought he had one of the most alien/inhuman perspectives in the DCU which makes him occasionally hard to empathize with. However here, there is a nice balance. He's still strange, crazy and not quite right, but there's more clearly a man underneath.

Renee's downward spiral is working for me too. I occasionally think there's a bit too much pandering to the lowest common denominator with regards to the portrayal of her relationships, but I love that she's a strong woman. She's competent at her role even as her emotional life goes down the tubes. I like that, despite my comment above, her sexuality is portrayed as a part of her but not entirely who she is.

Most importantly though, this is the first time in a long time that I've read something that had a male and female partnership that was strictly platonic. And I love it. There's chemistry between them and by now, it seems like there are strong emotions as well, but they're the emotions of friendship and camaraderie. I love their interaction. I like his role as older brother/mentor. I really hope those theories about him dying and her taking his place are wrong, because I'd love to see their relationship evolve further. They're a fantastic partnership.

Batwoman: We haven't seen much of Kate right now really. Just a few scenes. But I'm hooked. I like her. A lot. I've heard complaints that she gets first introduced through her sexuality, her relationship with Renee. On one hand I understand the complant, but on the other, honestly, I think she's introduced in the way that new characters are supposed to be introduced. Through their relationships with previous characters.

So far I can't say much about her character, but from what we've seen at least she's quick, fiery and intense. She's got a lot of sexual chemistry with Renee, which is appealing. She seems to kick ass as the Batwoman. This is all I need for starters. I'm really looking forward to seeing the upcoming issue with her and Batman.

Black Adam and Isis: Initially, I hate to admit this, but I wasn't too enthralled with the Kahndaq story. Black Adam is interesting, but preferable to me in small doses. Much to my surprise though, it started to grow on me, becoming one of my favorite parts o the comic.

I think part of that is Isis. Adrianna is a character that should be incredibly cliched, and is, but somehow she's working for me. I think it's the humanizing effect on Adam. (Anyone who can provoke hairline worries from Black Adam is okay in my book). It's also fascinating to me that when he brought her to Billy, he wanted her to be given the goddess's powers. To be more powerful than he is.

I like seeing her explore her powers and potential as Isis. It's wonderful to see characters that just genuinely want to do good. Sure she's searching for her brother (hopefully he'll be the Osiris we see in Teen Titans), but she's not letting her failure keep her from doing good work. I would read her comic series.

And I'm really glad that Billy's crazy spells seem to have been a one-time occurrance.

Ralph Dibny: If you'd ever told me I'd find Ralph hot, I'd think you were crazy. However, this Ralph is hot. He's fiery, intense, passionate, driven, a bit crazy and something of a hypocrite and I'm just fascinated.

Honestly, and this is probably going to get me in trouble, I always thought Ralph and Sue were something of One-Note wonders. Their adventures were fun, but not terribly enthralling. They're likeable, but they were never going to be more than pleasant diversion characters.

While I had problems with certain elements of the execution of Identity Crisis, over all I thought it was a good story. I was hooked, beginning to end. The portrayal of Ralph and Sue at the beginning pushed all my buttons the right way, and the end made me hurt.

But Ralph's a star now. He's fascinating. The moment where he confronts Booster (and I maintain there is a big difference between them, Ralph may have wanted fame, but he'd never have left a friend in need in the lurch for a publicity stunt, I think. Not a friend in as bad a shape as Ralph was. But I digress) was stunning visually and emotionally.

I'm really fascinated to see where this one is going.

The Resurrection Cults: Now this idea intrigues me, but so far the execution has fallen a bit flat. I don't understand why someone as sensible as Cassie is involved. I get she's grief-stricken, but this seems to go against her nature. The bit with Sue is interesting, but I think all the bits of Ralph fighting cultists and going "Oh my god, you're a child" are way too heavy handed.

The "Devem" stuff interests me though.

Steel and Co.: I'll be honest, the Steel storyline thus far hasn't been doing much for me. I like the character but I find Natasha grating and I can spare no real interest in the conflict between them. Lex Luthor's plan is intriguing me.

This issue is the first time Steel's story has interested me so far. It's good to see him using and even appreciating his new powers, and the twist with Luthor is promising.

I just hope they keep Natasha on the backburner.

The Great Ten: I've heard some complaints about inherent racism in some of the character concepts and they do seem to have a lot of merit. But I also think that they have the potential to be very promising characters, beyond the stereotypes involved in their creation. So far I've found them interesting in Checkmate, so I'll give it some time before I formulate my own opinion.

Booster Gold: Evil Skeets is the awesomest thing ever, and as unlikely as the actual possibility is that Skeets could find the direct paternal ancestor, I still think it was a good move. Daniel is intriguing. He's Boosterish but without a lot of the baggage. I can't put my finger on why I like him, but I do. I definitely don't think he's dead yet.

And again, evil Skeets is awesome.

the Space Trio: This is another storyline I was initially apathetic about (I don't care much about New Gods, unfortunately) but somehow suddenly I'm eagerly anticipating the next installment. I know it's not Lobo. Lobo's a character that I can take in very small doses (and usually then only in Warrior, where his over-the-topness was balanced by the sheer cracky joy of everything else) but that last bit about the origin of the eye? Awesome.

I'd also forgotten how much I like Buddy Baker.

Supernova: I find Supernova mildly interesting, but I have no real patience with the "Who's behind the mask?!" type stories. I connect to my favorite heroes based on the man/woman behind the mask. I prefer my heroes to solve the mysteries rather than to be the mysteries.

It's probably why I'm so happy they made a point to introduce Kate by her civilian identity first. It's much easier to get a handle on the woman as well as the hero that way.

Clark Kent: Though he's no longer Superman, Clark Kent seems to be everywhere in the DCU. And that's how it should be. :-)


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stargirl =/= Kitty Pryde

I was surfing around the Internet today when I saw something interesting at one particular comic book fan's site. It was a rant about Stargirl. Specifically about how in an interview at Newsarama, the interviewee described Stargirl as bubbly.

The reviewer took offense, stating that Stargirl is "not some bubblegum popping, bubbling cheerleader." (The original post is here if you're curious)

He believes that Stargirl has more in common with Kitty Pryde, as an intelligent, super-competent character far wiser than her years than say Jubilation Lee.

Now I have a lot of respect for this reviewer's opinions, though we rarely agree, but in this case, I really and truly disagree. I've in fact, I think, never disagreed so much with a character assessment in my life.

I love Courtney Whitmore. I honestly do. She's one of the few teenage girl characters in anything that actually reads like a real teenage girl. She's bright, sunny, optimistic. She's grown out of her very irresponsible and flighty stage, but she still knows how to have fun and when to not take things so seriously.

What makes Courtney work for me is her humanity and relatability. She's not a genius and she doesn't have superpowers, she wasn't born to some great destiny. She's just a kid who seized the opportunity to annoy her stepfather and discovered her true potential in the process.

Kitty Pryde and Courtney Whitmore couldn't be more different, honestly. Kitty is an extraordinary young woman. She's a veritable, verifiable genius. She's got, debatably, the most versatile power on her team. She's got incredible martial arts and computer skills. She speaks many languages. She's had nothing resembling a normal life since she was thirteen years old.

Courtney's not like that. She's not a genius. She's never been characterized as one. She's clever and quick-witted, with a very refreshing dose of common sense most of the time, but that's hardly the same as Kitty's academic expertise. Courtney is adaptable, she's made her converter belt and cosmic rod her own through clever usage. However, she does not have the technical skills or capability to reverse engineer a prototype or even make modifications on the ones she has. If they're broken, she'll need to go elsewhere to fix it. She also does not have the experience that Ted Knight or Jack had with the rod, yet, or Sylvester with the belt. She's got a lot of ways to go before she's as capable with her powers as Kitty Pryde is with hers.

Courtney's had some physical training with the JSA, but she's no hyper competent ninja. She can use the monitor systems and a lot of Pat's inventions, but that's scarcely the same as Kitty Pryde's expertise. She's had a very normal life, even with her stepfather's hobbies and past. Her herodom is very much incorporated into every other aspect of her otherwise reasonably normal life.

Aside from being the token youngest in her group, she's really nothing like Kitty. But honestly, she's very much like Jubilee. They're both bright and friendly, they're both very open-natured and more "doers" than "thinkers". They're both very clever, though it's occasionally deceptively hidden behind layers of *teenageness*. They're more adaptable/clever than they are book smart. They have healthy social lives. Heroing is fun and a responsibility but it's a part of their lives, not the whole thing.

Stargirl and Jubilee tend to both be portrayed as much more human than Kitty or most of their teammates. Both girls can be irresponsible and immature and very flighty, but both girls have their hearts in the right place. Both girls are something of the emotional hearts on their teams. Kitty was more of an equal, but Jubilee and Courtney are definitely junior members, but it's through their openness, honesty, loyalty and forthrightness that they become as much a symbol to the team as a member.

In that sense, she's the cheerleader of the team because she's what keeps morale up. (By the way, I'm pretty sure that he wasn't talking about her literally being a cheerleader.) She's a visible reminder to the rest of the team exactly why they keep fighting. She's a symbol of hope and the future, the next generation primed to carry the good fight into the future. And that's what she does! She's mature enough to even understand this. She does this bravely, knowingly and with all of her heart.

And that's why Stargirl is amazing. Not because she's a ballet dancer/ninja/hacker with a pet dragon. Not because she's got Ted Knight's Cosmic Rod or Sylvester Pemberton's belt. But because she's a normal, and yes, bubbly, teenaged girl who steps forward to do what she needs to do without ever sacrificing who she is in the process.

I've never liked the phrase "I don't know what book/movie/show, he's talking about..." because it's presumptuous and rude, dismissing any disagreement or differing opinion. In this case, though, our opinions are so directly opposite that it does seem as though we've been reading two completely different comic books altogether. Honestly, I wouldn't trade for a heartbeat.

And I'm pretty sure that if I scanned through Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E or JSA, I'd find at least one occurrance of Courtney chewing gum.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Question for Marvellites:

Okay. I think I've got a reasonable grasp on the Vision, what with the cartoon and some online explanations. I at least get the whole "Made from the original android human torch by Ultron" thing. I vaguely follow the "had Wonder Man's brain template, then not, then Iron Lad's" or something like that. (Do correct me if I'm wrong though. I admit my Marvel history is very, very shaky.)

I don't follow the whole making babies that are now somehow in their late teens despite Marvel's stretched timeline, but I'm not going there.


I don't want to know. I do think it's funny that thanks to this Hank Pym beats out Scott Summers. Scott's got a grandkid. Hank's got great grandkids. Sorta. That amuses me.

But can someone explain the Ultimates Vision to me? I know it's a girl robot with boobs, which is weird in and of itself. But why is it a girl robot with boobs? Where did it come from?

And most importantly, will there be hot robot/human lesbianism? I'm just curious.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mmm hmm:

Yay. The solicits are up. Well I've only got one thing to say really. Maybe two.

Solicit Image Within, Beware

a) Dude. Why does he have a ceti eel crawling out of his head?

Though it would be really funny to have Hal scream out "Khaaaaaaaaaaaan!"

Well, it would to me. I *am* sleep deprived though.

2) It's good to see that Guy's penchant for getting horrifically, gratuitously injured seems to have survived intact.

At least he's not a Manhunter this time.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

It's a "Steve" thing:

It occured to me randomly that one of the reasons Steve Trevor is not very popular among the modern day audience is because it's hard to remember what he's supposed to be like.

I mean Steve Trevor hasn't really been Steve Trevor since the Golden Age. The Silver Age was fun, but Steve really didn't get a chance to shine there. The closest he got was Lyle Waggoner's portrayal in the TV show.

And then post-crisis, he gets retconned into a much older brother figure. It's no wonder that no one seems to appreciate him.

It's been argued as "unfeminist" to pair Steve and Diana because it means that Diana is "settling". As though physical strength were the only strength that mattered. (Which strikes me as an unfeminist argument in and of itself. Most women do not match the physical strength of most men, does that mean then that they are somehow unequal? That the men are settling? But I digress.)

The thing is, when Steve is characterized right (like in the original Golden Age comics), the relationship is really easy to understand. Steve is really easy to respect and admire and like. His sexism is undeniable, but it's curable. He thinks it's surprising but hot that a woman could actually save him.

Actually, I think if anyone wants to really "get" Steve Trevor as he should be, they should watch, of all things, Ultimate Avengers and pay really close attention to Steve Rogers/Captain America.

Because...if you take away the superstrength and powers...that *is* Steve Trevor. That personality...that bravery, determination, charm and nobility...the stoicism and loyalty and patriotism...

That's Steve Trevor. That's Steve in a nutshell. (Even his slightly bemused but attracted reaction while being saved by the Black Widow...)

Steve is a man that would have undergone the super serum if it had been available in the DCU, but it wasn't. So Steve had to make do with just being a normal guy. But I don't think anyone would say that the only reason Captain America is awesome is because of his powers. But the funny thing is that if you read Steve Trevor, the true, Golden Age Steve Trevor, pretty much everything else is the same. (Trevor's probably a little smoother and smarmier.)

Though, now I'd really like to see a crossover in which Captain America and Wonder Woman date. Screw Superman, THAT is the superhero couple I could see actually working. :-)

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Rejected PFP Blog Post:

In an ideal world, there would be a post in this location. An essay maybe, a silly realization, or possibly a silly or interesting image.

Sadly, there is nothing. I'm drawing a complete blank today. I blog stream of consciousness and this stream's run dry.

It's been a long week.

However, I might have something for you.

You see, my blog posts are very rarely the first topics that *actually* come to mind. Usually there's something else. Something so incredibly ludicrous that even I can't bring myself to actually write it.

So here's my new feature. On those days in which I draw an absolute blank on anything else to write/post, (this happens very frequently actually) I will reveal a blog post that I did consider, but rejected as too silly for Pretty, Fizzy Paradise.

(Just realize that considering my Guy Gardner is a woman essay actually *made* the cut...)

Anyway, today's Rejected PFP Blog Post:

"It's all Greek to Me: Xanadu as a Retelling o Wonder Woman...with Roller Skates!"


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thoughts on Casting Wonder Woman

I haven't posted about this yet, but my reaction to the recent Wonder Woman casting rumor is pretty similar to Ragnell's.

Rachel Bilson is very cute and undeniably a good actress but when it comes down to it, a sexy scene does not a Wonder Woman make.

I understand Ragnell's trepidation with Joss Whedon and I share it in one sense. His particular comments about Kitty Pryde, the nature of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and River from Firefly have me a little worried.

But not as much as some. Whedon's got a lot of strengths and faults writing-wise, but there's one thing that gives me hope. He's not just a popular writer, he's a comics fan. The man has to know Wonder Woman already.

Serenity and Firefly have had many problems with gender portrayals, for all that there were strengths as well. However this is the same movie set that brought us:

Zoe Warren. Zoe's strong, beautiful and a little terse. As warrior women go though, she fits the iconic image really well. I'd love to see Gina Torres as Wonder Woman actually. She's very tall and has a towering presence. She's also very beautiful.

I can see some issue though in the fact that Gina Torres isn't white. The initial fan reaction to Jessica Alba as Sue Storm wasn't pretty. This has the shot of being worse. There's nothing so depressing as watching fans insist they're not racist while making fuss over race. In the end, Alba's looks were not the issue (though I thought she'd be prettier with the darker hair color) and Kingpin's casting in Daredevil was inspired, I thought.

I admit, personally, I'm of mixed feelings about the issue. On one hand, Superman and Batman were clearly cast with the iconic comic book image in mind, with as little deviation possible. Wonder Woman, as the third in the trinity, should have the same importance. Such a dramatic change might be a sign that she's somehow not as important as the other two. However, I would much prefer to change something as small as Diana's apparent race (and really, do Themyscirans sculpted from clay *need* to be white?) than other elements of the character. As Ms. Bilson and other suggestions go, the casting choice of Ms. Torres would be a dream.

Another character from Firefly/Serenity that bears elements that could be used in the portrayal of Diana is:

Inara Serra, admittedly, the character is a courtesan, however she conducts herself always with stately dignity and composure. She is regal, calm and centered, with a diplomat's eye for etiquette. If Whedon's film will focus on Diana's role as a diplomat, Inara is a good sign that he can pull it off.

On Ragnell's thread, Loren brings up Morena Baccarin as a casting choice. I could see it. She's a little soft looking for my taste, as I prefer my Amazons to look Amazonian, but she's very beautiful. She has some of the same elements I remember from Lynda Carter's portrayal, though as yet I've only seen her play serious.

While I'd personally prefer Torres as a casting choice, I can definitely see Baccarin's appeal. In the costume, she would very much resemble the iconic image of Wonder Woman. She's, as I said, a trifle soft looking, but that's nothing that some training and exercise couldn't fix. (And superpowers do allow a little leeway.) She's not as tall or towering, but she could definitely believably play a foreign princess/diplomat.

Baccarin's also got the advantage of youth, appearing closer to an age suitable for a beginning Wonder Woman.

So right now, I'm still optimistic. The rumors are disheartening, but Whedon's a comic fan. He's written archetypes applicable to Wonder Woman, and I can't see that he wouldn't recognize that. He (or whoever his casting director is) also seems to be very good at finding talented relative-unknowns to play his roles. Hopefully these facts will combine in an appealing way.

Or you can bet I'll be right there to bitch about it. :-)

(These pictures were originally publicity images for Firefly and were swiped gratuitously from various places on the 'Net)


Friday, September 15, 2006

It's Craazy.

Okay as it turns out, I'm still on my faint Avengers kick. It shouldn't last too much longer, I'd reckon. I'm just a kid with a new toy right about now.

Anyway, I managed (thanks to Flidget) to get ahold of Avengers 59 and 60, because honestly the whole story of the wedding sounded so crack-worthy that I simply had to see for myself.

I was not disappointed.

I thought, deep down, that there had to be an exaggeration somewhere. Janet Van Dyne couldn't have actually married her boyfriend while he's quite clearly out of his head, could she?

Well, as many of you know, and I was to find out. Yes, yes she did.

Now according to some explanation site, it's explained that she went along with the whole Yellowjacket marriage thing out of concern for Hank. She was afraid that he'd backslide further into insanity.

Well I'm staring at the issues this moment, and that's utter hogwash! In fact, Janet has, in total, exactly one moment of concern about what she's doing:

Yes. It would be a shame to marry your batshit crazy boyfriend while he's clearly not in his right mind unless you're absolutely sure.

It's not like he had gone on with a five page monologue/flashback about how he, as Yellowjacket, killed Hank Pym, culminating in leaving him to be murdered ignobly by a house-spider:

Oh. Wait...

Anyway, that one moment of trepidation aside, Janet spent most of the issues looking like this:

See that triumphant look? She's not doing this to protect his mental state. She's doing this because it's a way to trap him into marriage!

Here she's explaining to her understandably bewildered colleague...notice how gleeful she is! And her utter dismissal of poor Hawkeye's concern. (I'm giving Hank's dismissal a pass here because three seconds ago he was still calling himself Yellowjacket.)

One thing that amazed me about the comic was that at no point does Jan actually attempt to fill any of the other Avengers in. She just maneuvers them into following, witnessing her marrying a guy who is claiming to have killed Hank Pym.

I don't know why she just doesn't pull them aside and go "Yeah, I know it's a bit crazy, but he's really Hank."

Wait, I know why. Because they're heroes and might thus express concern that a man who thinks he's his own murderer might currently not be quite capable of consent.

Still, if it were me, I'd have just told them it was a bizarre roleplaying scenario and to play along.

So Jan gets her wedding. Fortunately Hank seems okay with this. But then again, three seconds ago he thought he was his own murderer, so I'm not taking anything about his sanity for granted at the moment.

And I'm glad I don't live in the Marvel Universe. Where apparently, if you enter into a marriage while in the grip of a provable psychotic delusion, without even using your real name, on account of you can't remember it, it's legally binding.

Oh and Jan, not that I think what happens subsequently is your fault, but for future reference, if your next husband-to-be ends up delivering a five page long monologue/flashback detailing elaborately how he's brought himself to an ignoble Spider-induced end, that might be a sign that he's got a bit too much repressed self-hatred to be good marriage material.

I'm just saying, sometimes there ARE warning signs...

I've got to give Hank/Yellowjacket credit for one thing though. He's been in this identity for approximately five hours or so at the most, by the time he kidnaps Janet Van Dyne, but he already has a hideout:

Hey, the man might be batshit crazy but you can't fault his style. That's one swanky bachelor pad. :-)

(All scans taken from Avengers v1 #59 and #60).

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Manly Men and Buxom Babes: Body Types in Comics

This post as well as the article linked within have got me thinking.

The idea of the men being over-muscled is not a new one to me. Pretty much any time a feminist blogger occasionally complains about the objectification of female characters, the musculature of the men is brought up as a counter argument.

I think that there is a valid point in the argument, obscured by the use of these images as counter-argument to feminist complaints. The image portrayed can be negative. They can help lead to a negative self-image.

The main difference for me is the whys of it though. Because the comic book industry is male dominated, essentially you have guys complaining about an image created by other men as an ideal to be. Which is, I believe, a little different from women complaining about the ideal created by other men, designed to please those men.

I am admittedly biased about the issue though.

I'm actually not against sexualization in comics. To the extent that it's not a detriment to character or story at any rate. I don't like the covers of She-Hulk because I think the pin-up poses do not reflect the content of the series. By pandering to the lowest common denominator, they're projecting an image of a comic that would be of no real interest to women. We look at the cover and think, "Oh, just another of those comics." Which is a damn shame, as the comic is really nothing of the sort.

In contrast, I really like Storm's current costume. Sure she's almost naked, but it's really very pretty. Ororo is not a character that I'd ever associated a lot of physical modesty with, and between her powers and the likely warmer climate of Wakanda, I can't see how a more substantial costume is really required.

Anyway, I'm not trying to attack this article. I don't doubt that the hyper-muscular portrayals could be conidered harmful. It did get me thinking though.

I think there is, without a doubt, a lot more variance to the way men are portrayed in comics than there is for women. Sure, Superman, Batman, Captain America, Captain Britain and the like are all very muscular and big men. But then, off the top of my head, you have characters like Sanderson Hawkins, Dick Grayson, Roy Harper, Pete Wisdom, Cyclops (who sometimes gets the hyper-musculature treatment) Reed Richards... They're characters who, while drawn with exaggerated musculature, still have a very different build-type than the first. The Green Lanterns hover somewhere in the middle. Hal's probably portrayed as closest in build to Superman or Batman, but still tends to appear quite a bit leaner. John and Guy are pretty big as well, but usually portrayed as a bit smaller than Hal. Kyle's, in turn, much slimmer. The Flashes vary as well.

There is variation among the women too. Certainly Kitty Pryde is not built like Emma Frost. But I think the majority hovers around a certain standard. Kitty is very slight. Power Girl and Wonder Woman in contrast are very buxom, but also bigger framed, with (when drawn by the ideal artists, at least) solid musculature. But in general, I'd say most women in comics have a very similar body type.

It's the lack of comparitive variety that gets to me.

Look at the early 00's Morrison-league-era JLA for example. Look at Superman, Bruce, Aquaman, Plastic Man, Kyle and Wally. All of them had markedly different body types. Even Bruce and Clark, while both dark-haired, blue eyed men with similar dimensions, manage to look strikingly different even in civilian clothes. Kyle and Wally are both lean young men, but their musculature is very different. Wally's rangier, Kyle's softer, it's variance.

In contrast, let's take the Birds of Prey. Dinah, Helena, Barbara. I love this comic and these characters, so please don't take this as a critique of the actual comic. But look at the body proportions. They've all got roughly the same slim, well-endowed, long limbed frame. Ignoring differences in costume and coloring, we could very well be looking at the same woman.

Teen Titans? Beast Boy, Cyborg, Robin, Superboy and Kid Flash all have very distinct builds. But honestly, one of my biggest complaints with Young Justice was that once Cassie lost the stupid wig...when you had her, Arrowette, Secret and even Empress, barring her coloring, you were basically looking at the same teenage girl body. Teen Titans had the same problem lately with Wonder Girl and Ravager.

Heck, Supergirl's build is problematic in my opinion (unless they are deliberately intending an eating disorder storyline, which would be actually quite interesting to see attempted and she's certainly got psychological motivators), but when she met up with the JSA in one issue and spoke to Stargirl, she might as well have been looking in a mirror.

Even the cartoons occasionally reflect this. The 90s Avengers cartoon had a marked difference between the builds of the men. Captain America was very big, naturally, as was Wonder Man (who seemed broader about the chest). Falcon and Hawkeye were mid-range, built like athletes (Hawkeye was rangier, Falcon more like a football player), Hank Pym was much slighter. But Tigra, Wasp and Scarlet Witch had very similar proportions. (Though Wanda was admittedly gaunter.) The 90s X-Men cartoon was similar. The men were all reasonably varied, with some slight similarity between Gambit and Cyclops. But save Jubilee, Jean, Rogue and Storm were built almost the same! To give credit where credit is due, both X-Men Evolution and Ultimate Avengers were pretty good at giving the women varying body shapes like the men. I'm avoiding critiquing JLA simply because due to the stylistic elements of the design, there are a lot more similarities across the board character-design wise.

But anyway that's my real problem, when it comes down to it. Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel have roughly the same dimensions, but their builds, musculatures and body language all get to be different, whereas except for a few exceptions, the women don't. (Heck, even She-Hulk and Starfire tend to be larger scale models of the same proportions.)

This is why as harmful as the male portrayals might genuinely be, I do not put them on the same scale as that of the women. Not when there are artists out there who draw Sue Storm as nigh-indistinguishable from Emma Frost.

That's just not right.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Favorite Sequence from JSA 79:

Now this isn't the entire sequence of course, but it's the best part, IMO.

Especially as it really highlights how utterly useful and underestimatable Sand is. When he doesn't have "chairman" attached to his name, he goes about almost entirely unnoticed. When he does, the attention he gets is more based on that title than on him. (People like being able to shoot the JSA chairman on camera...)

That may be Nabu getting Mordru angry enough to ignore what's going on, but as we see with Johnny Sorrow, that trick is really much more Sand's style. Nabu gets Mordru to forget what exactly his captive is and set him free. That's just awesome really.

Not to mention there's something innately satisfying about watching a giant sand monster smash Mordru, as he's a character I get immense joy out of hating. And that it's all a decoy so Sand can set the others free (not shown), even better.

I always liked this issue for the teamwork displayed in both the fifth dimension and this storyarc. I was a tad irritated that the following issue focused so solely on Thunderbolt and Nabu.

Still as dissatisfied as I was with the ending, nothing beats the satisfaction from that third panel above. :-)

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What's Distracting Patricia?

:-) I'm always last on the bandwagon!

This meme comes direct from Dave:

Yep. That'd distract me too!


Monday, September 11, 2006

Further Thoughts on the 90s Avenger Cartoon:

In No Particular Order

-Okay, that bit where Hank makes such a big show about trading the future in to save Janet and they freak out and it turns out Booby Trapped? HOT.

-Captain America's Voice Actor has very old style animation speech pattern, hee.

-I think I may be starting to appreciate Mallet's love for Namor.

-A twenty some odd foot tall man keeling over in front of the Avengers headquarters is worth the price of admission.

-Scarlet Witch/Vision is still creepy.

-Vision's cute though.

-I think these are all the same voice actors from X-Men, which is a little jarring. I admit, I mostly know him from She-Hulk comics, but I think that Hawkeye shouldn't sound like Wolverine.

-Tygra as Rogue seems to work for me.

-Hank's a, isn't he? If he were my teammate, I think I'd be pushing therapy.

-Do Wonder Man's sunglasses actually serve a purpose in the comics?

-Okay, if what Flidget told me is right, and Ultron really is made from Hank's own brainwave patterns...doesn't ANYONE think that might be a sign he needs psychiatric evaluation?

-That's not even counting the Yellowjacket mess. I saw those issues. "Oh! Yes! I knew he was insane the whole time!" Jan's not the most stable individual either.

-Ultron's body image issues are kind of interesting though.

-Namor/Scarlet Witch flirting! Yay!

-Where's Thor? Cap and Iron Man show up. But there's no Thor. :-(

-The transformation scenes are still amusing as hell

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Why Impressionable Kalinaras Shouldn't Be Allowed to Watch TV:

Well, my roommate managed to find a bunch of old episodes of the 90s Avengers cartoon show. And after a marathon session of episodes, I have to say...

I find Hank Pym inexplicably hot.

I can't explain it. He's a jackass with confidence issues and I know about the abuse stuff in the comics...

But that just makes him more interesting to me. I can't explain it!

No wait, I can. He's like a fucked-up crossbreed of Scott Summers and Reed Richards. Who happens to be slim and blond and kind of pretty... (I'm such a bad feminist!)

I don't want to *date* him. I just want to look appreciatively...and send him to get lots of therapy or something.

That 40 Years of the Avengers CD is about 50 bucks, right? Well, I *did* get paid on Friday...

(Oh, and by the way? At least going by the cartoon characterizations, Wanda/Vision really does seem kind of fucked up...)


Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Note:

Now, I don't know if anyone's been following the kerfluffle over at Ragnell's blog lately. I've personally stayed out of the argument, there were some personal events last week that left me without the spirit for a nice argument.

It's definitely interesting.

However as a result of these events, certain accusations were made that I simply can not stay quiet about.

The people over at Ragnell's blog are NOT sycophants. You know how I know? Because I am her only sycophant. I worked too damn hard to get this cushy job to share it with the rest of you wannabes!


(On a more serious note, I find it interesting how the accusations of "sycophant" seem to come only after being on the minority side of an argument. When they're being agreed with, the accusation never comes up. Funny how that works.)


Is It December Yet?

Ooo! Ragnell linked to JSA preview art!!! Since JSA is the series I'm waiting most excitedly for, aside from this month's Green Lantern because it's late and I want more Hal, Guy, Manhunter shenanigans.

I have a few responses:

1. I've never particularly liked Rick Tyler. I didn't dislike him, mind. It's just my first exposure to the guy was in Hourman, where he wasn't particularly impressive. Then in JSA, where the whole Rex-Rick switcheroo thing kept me from really getting a handle on the character. (Though I liked him in Stealing Thunder.)

But in this. All of a sudden. Rick got hot. And I'm not sure how to deal with this. But I'm suddenly looking forward to that Bane versus Hourman story.

2. Proof now that Jessie Chambers is Liberty Belle. This pleases me to no end actually. From what I've seen, poor Jessie suffered tremendously from Jade-syndrome. She's the female Flash-type, but with a just different enough identity to not be a Flash herself. (Jade being a Starheart's daughter, Jessie's a Quick not a Flash). Both portrayed as a bit less competent than the male counterparts. Both portrayed with a little dash of mother-inspired abilities which never made up for being weaker. Both got involved with pretty awful stuff regarding infidelity and the like.

This though, this could be the redemption of Jessie Quick. Because it really is all about the packaging. A character is only as weak as the way you express him/her. I mean compare this for a second: a speedster who is not as fast/capable as the others with fluctuating bouts of super-strength OR:

A Liberty Belle with a extra dash of super-speed.

Doesn't one sound infinitely cooler than the other? By giving Jessie a more direct maternal tie, and emphasizing both sets of powers, the character suddenly seems a lot more formidable.

It's part of why I'd always wished they'd stuck with Jade's plant powers and worked them in tandem with the Starheart "pulse" powers. Tie it to the idea of "Green Magic" that shows up in fantasy. Green tying to nature and life. "Pulse" also carries that sort of tone. On their own, as a replacement for Green Lantern powers, the plant stuff was kind of lame. But packaged together? Emphasizing Jade as not so much a standard Lantern-type conjurer but as some sort of nature/green magic wielder? That could have been cool.

3. What the heck is going on with Grant? Or is it Al? I've heard that there was confirmation that that's Damage in the costume, so I'll go with Grant.

Anyway, this is a story related "what the heck" not a characterization gripe. I want to know why he looks annoyed or even jealous. Did something ever happen between Damage and Jessie? I'm very curious now.

4. While I shouldn't judge as I don't know the context, I could wish that the image was a bit less "Rick shows off super-strength, Jessie hangs off him adoringly." She's got super-strength too! I suppose there's probably some interesting characterization/plot reason, but the image on its own is mildly irksome to me. I might be over sensitive, admittedly.

But anyway, is it December yet?


Friday, September 08, 2006

Random Ridiculous Realization : A Proposal

I was thinking about Power Girl lately. It's true that I like her a lot and that I actually that her chest size (which isn't to my eyes actually disproportionate)can be more of a hinderance than a plus.

I still love her. I love her brassy feminism and strong will. I hate to see those qualities overlooked merely because she's well-endowed. Having breasts does not take any of those other qualities away.

I do think that a lot of what annoys many people about characters like Power Girl is her clothes. Power Girl is large, but she has a mass/size/frame that makes it work. I think though that one problem she has is that except for her boob window costume, she rarely seems to have enough garment style support for her attributes.

The oval-cut-out costume's actually really nice. She gets some grumbling because of the peekaboo aspects, but honestly, if you look at the structure of the thing, that window is actually what's keeping everything in place. It adds enough tension to the fabric that it makes an embarrassing escape impossible. It's very clever.

But every other costume she has? Really doesn't work. And I'm sure we can all think of particular occasions when a female character's costume makes it very clear that there's no support mechanism what so ever. Which is really dumb, because honestly, even women as small as a B-Cup will feel the unpleasantness of trying to do *anything* without support.

I don't actually blame the artists for this. Not completely. Most of the offending artists are men and thus have no real way of knowing that as attractive as breasts can be, they can be surprisingly inconvenient. They simply don't know how necessary some sort of support can be.

It's not their fault, but this situation *can* be remedied. I have a proposal to fix this. I propose a challenge, in which all male pencillers have to have sandbags strapped to their chest, constantly, for a week. After that, we'll see if there's any ultimate change in the costume.

Hey, it's worth a try! :-)

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

An Interruption in Our Regular Scheduled Programming:

You guys have probably heard this already at one of the comic news sites, but if not...

Lea Hernandez, creator of Cathedral Child and Rumble Girls, Girl-A-Matic (among others) has suffered a tragedy in the form of a house fire. Fortunately, she and her children and husband made it out all right, but they've lost a great deal.

There is more information at Ms. Hernandez's livejournal and at Newsarama. If anyone is interested in sending donations, Ms. Hernandez's paypal address is

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Because it's cool!

You know what I love? When comic books publish diagrams for team headquarters.

They're always so ridiculously complex and usually downright impossible. But that's what makes them awesome. Look at the diagram for the JSA headquarters for an example:

I mean, just consider for a moment the sheer size of that thing! I mean, sure it's base is a mansion...but it's not like Wesley was terribly opulent. What the heck would he and Dian need with that much space? That's what makes it all even better.

Though I really think there should be more secret passages. Secret passages are neat!

(Scanned from the JSA Secret Files and Origins #1)

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Missed Potential in Merged Earths?

You know what I've always wanted to see? More crossovers between Infinity Inc and the Teen Titans. It's something that always upset me a little about the Multiverse-turned-Universe, there were constant implausible adult cross-dimensional interactions, but we never got to see anything of the kids.

It always seemed like there'd be an interesting cross-perspective there. Infinity Inc and the Titans are vastly different teams. With vastly different styles. Maybe that means crossing over would be impossible. Still, I'd have liked something.

Even in the Universe, the only real second generation crossovers I can think of are Jade and Dinah Lance.

It seems weird to me, because there'd be really interesting ideological details to imagine. Not to mention that the existance of both teams on one world adds an interesting complexity to the Infinity Inc people.

Which came first? II or Titans? If it was II, what led them into a different direction than the Titans went? If it was the Titan team, why didn't the II people join them instead of making their own? I think there are a lot of interesting possible explanations for this: ideological difficulties, power difficulties, both teams unable to deal with the other's leadership style.

Would they have been allies? Rivals? Or in such different leagues that it never came up? This is the sort of New Earth thing, I'd really like to explore...we know how the big things, the big teams interrelate, but how does the minutia work?

There is such interesting potential in the blended universe that hasn't yet been explored.

Like with Sanderson Hawkins and Dick Grayson. I've always wanted some sort of crossover between them. I mean, when it comes down to it, they come from a very similar core idea. They're both originally Golden Agers (1940 and 1941), they're both child sidekicks to grittier heroes. Neither had powers. Both served as living symbols of hope and brightness through their costumes and identities. Both were light-hearted, cheerful wise-crackers there to brighten their heroes up while helping them kick criminal butt, and acting as sounding boards for their detective partners' brilliance. Robin was a more physical, openly cheerful sort of character, Sandy was more acerbic and tended to be better with the mental contributions.

I think it would be really interesting on that meta-level to see them interact now. Sure, they're no longer contemporaries, but that just makes it more interesting to explore the characters.

They're even the same age (give or take a few decades in stasis) which would add to the whole dynamic. Having them team up on an adventure would be interesting and a lot of fun!

Not to mention that, for whatever reason, we've never really gotten to see Sand interact much with people his own age. I'm hoping that the new line-up of Rick, Jessie, and apparently Maxine Hunkel, who all seem to be of comparative ages, would remedy this a little. Still, I'd love to see something where he gets to team up

Unfortunately, there would be a big risk to this whole thing. At their best, the characters would be able to shine in different ways. Dick's superior physical ability, Sandy's sharper detective instincts, Dick's socially adept charm, Sandy's bland adaptability, Dick's training (I imagine Bruce was rougher as an instructor than Wes), Sandy's powers. There are a lot of ways this could go well.

Of course, there are a lot of ways it could fuck up too. Especially with Dick's character in the mess he's been in for such a long time. Dick's various personal turmoils have battered the character down to the point that he's even his leadership abilities. His fighting ability seems to be shot, at the moment at least, going by his abyssmal performace OYL. It might be a very big mistake to pair him up with the JSA's ex-chairman in an adventure.

I have to admit, once I get past my initial "Wouldn't this be *cool*?!" reaction, my first thought imagining a crossover is:

"Bruce doesn't love me! Woe!"
"...okay. Um...Wes turned me into a sand monster by accident? It's okay now though..."
"... Fine, you win, damnit."

Which actually makes me snicker, but probably wouldn't be the best idea for a comic.

Still, there's other crossover potential. One thing I'd always have liked to see remedied is that we really never got to see Sand interact with people his own age. There was a bit of Team camaraderie with Al and that mess with Kendra, but really, that doesn't count. He's in a weird position in the JSA, age wise. He's too old to be terribly close to Courtney and Jakeem, too young to really fit with Alan, Jay, Ted or Carter, and his particular set of experiences set him apart from Pieter or Michael, both of whom only became heroes in their adulthood.

The new lineup looks promising. Rick Tyler's there, Jessie Chambers, Maxine Hunkel. They look about the same age, which should be interesting. But I still think there's a lot of missed crossover potential. (Surely Kyle could be roped into a team-up. Come on! King of Tears, Empire of Tears, something could be done with that! Or...hee. Roy. I don't know what they'd do exactly, but I think a Sand and Roy team-up could very well be comedy gold!)

On the plus side though, Jessie was a Titan first. Perhaps she will end up something of a bridge between younger generations. That'd be cool! Earth 2 and Earth 1 are merged yet again and I'd really like to see that played with a bit more.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

My So-Called Supergirl

I have mixed feelings about this month's Supergirl, I really do. On one sense, I actually like that they're giving Kara a personality. Sure, she's being an angsty, angry, self-absorbed little twit, but she's also a teenager. And I remember my own teens regretfully well enough to be stuck acknowledging that she's a pretty natural example of a teenager.

Getting Kara out of Kandor was probably a good idea. I still haven't forgiven Kelly for the whole Kal-El thing, mind control or not. I still don't believe the plot needed to have gone there. But now she gets to be free of that, and seems to be actually developing a personality suiting her age.

Though, NO, awake in stasis or not, she's STILL only got sixteen years of life experience and thus is NOT an adult.

Supergirl this month was interesting enough in establishing a screwed-up teen hero in a way that I could buy and even sympathize with as she makes her idiot mistakes. It's a good sort of character to have, a good perspective for storytelling.

I have one problem with it though.

This isn't some new edgy teenage girl superhero that's free to explore these sorts of issues with no baggage. This is Supergirl.

I was always a little shaky concerning arguments against Cassandra Cain and Kara saying that Batgirl and Supergirl should be characters for kids. I despised Kara for her very male-reader oriented lolita-characterization that seemed to lack any sort of recognizable depth. But I don't mind Cass in general (though I've never connected with her).

I have argued for Supergirl to be written with teenage girls in mind because that's the natural audience, and thus certain elements should be toned down. But she's got an interesting angsty dynamic that I think would appeal to teenage girls right now.

I've never agreed with censorship, and I do think mature topics can be handled in a way to make them suitable for young adults.

But there's something I was missing, something that I only understand now. Because now I work in a toy store.

At the very large toy store chain where I work, we have a lot of comics related goods. Among them, we have Supergirl. Supergirl lunchboxes, Supergirl skates, Supergirl bike helmets. And the girls that light up seeing them, the girls that convince their parents to buy this stuff for them...

Well, they're not teenagers. They're nowhere near teenagers. They're little girls ages 5-10. They're little girls who like pink and they like sparkly and they like the thought of Superman as a pretty blond girl that can fly.

Their moms like her too. I've seen mothers and grandmothers light up seeing those lunchboxes, thrilled to see something sparkly and pretty that their little girls would like that doesn't involve something like Barbie or Bratz dolls. They think, "Well, Supergirl is a step up."

As a sales associate, it isn't my place to tell guests what I really think about their purchases. I can sometimes (depending on customer mood) strike up a conversation, make some recommendations, but that's about it. Critiquing is out of the question, of course. Guests just want to shop in peace.

But I keep seeing the mothers pick up the lunchboxes with interest, and I wish I could say "Oh! Supergirl! You know, the comic book is really good right now!" Sure some parents are against comics in general, but a lot of parents are always interested in ways to get children interested in reading. A lot of mothers are looking for role-models and cute idols for their young girls that don't involve the distorted body image and fashion obsessed mindlessness of the usual fare. (Speaking of, what happened to being able to dress Barbie as an astronaut or airline pilot? It seems a lot of the career doll costumes have gone out of style!)

I'm not saying that I think the series should be written for five-ten year olds. I don't think it's a bad thing to have mature topics in comics. Subjects like grief and loss, action and horror always make good stories. And children are quite capable of dealing with them. Supergirl could easily be a book like that. One that does occasionally deal with adult subjects, but manages to keep it on an accessible level for young people.

It'd be nice to be able to tell interested parents, "Well, the series does cover some mature topics, so it would be a good idea to read it ahead of time to decide if your little girl is ready for it."

I can't do that with this Supergirl though. Pre-Crisis Kara, definitely. Peter David's Linda, possibly, with a warning that it might be a bit complex in scope for a young one. This Kara? With her cigarette masochism, inappropriate relationships, and over-sexualization? No.

It's possibly a good story, sure. She could be a really interesting character, definitely. But Supergirl's supposed to be more than that. Supergirl's an icon. Supergirl's recognizable to even non-comic fans. She's got a decades-old reputation for wholesome, child-friendliness. She's a young girl with special powers that can inspire little girls to be proud of their own abilities and strengths, while still being non-threatening and sweet enough to appeal to both mom/dad and child.

Times change. Characters change. That's a good thing, in general I think. But when it comes to Supergirl. As interesting as this new angry, edgy adolescent is, she's not one that can be recommended toward kids anymore. And I can't help but think we've lost something important in the trade.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

This Possible Wonder Girl/Robin thing:

In a reply to my last post, Amy Reads brings up the Cassie/Tim thing in Teen Titans which reminded me that I want to blog about that.

See, I hate teenaged romance in comics. I hate teenaged romance pretty much uniformly everywhere. I know it happens in real life, but I'm a cynic, and firmly believe that 99% of those relationships never work past high school (Which is yet another strike against the Dick/Babs relationship for me, I suppose. They have this element, sort of.)

I also hate love triangles. I don't mind when the couple has people outside the relationship that they find attractive, because that happens, but if that person is being portrayed as a true and viable romantic alternative, there are problems with the relationship's core. I think the real problems a relationship faces are internal, not external. It's why I like Scott/Jean actually. Logan was never a viable threat, while the Emma thing is more about Scott himself, the confusion/turmoil left over from Apocalypse and his relationship-sabotaging nature. It's not a man torn between two loves, it's a man who's really fucked up and I appreciate that.

For a similar reason, despite my hate of triangles and teenaged romance, I'm really digging the Cassie/Tim thing going on right now. Probably because it's not being portrayed as anything but fucked up. That kiss was two grieving kids lashing out and grabbing onto a memory the only way they know how. It wasn't about each other, it was about Kon (and honestly, it kind of made me wonder about Tim's actual sexual orientation, as the levels of sublimation in that scene were pretty high).

There's no way this can end well. At all. Except maybe if they're smart enough to ignore the chemistry. But it's comics. Sensibility is NEVER an option in comics. This isn't ending here.

I like screwed up things when they're portrayed as screwed up, and this whole potential relationship is screwed up. But it's definitely interestng.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Reactions to Titans Revelations

Okay, so in this week's Teen Titans, we get a lovely labeled display of all the characters who were Titans during the missing year. I'm going to put that picture up and post my reactions.

I'll put it all behind a tag though, for the sake of anyone that hasn't bought the issue yet.

The Revolving Door of Teen Titans

1. I've always adored Flamebird as a character. She's cute and bubbly. I like that her crush on Dick is portrayed as silly as it is, while at the same time, she tends to be reasonably competent herself.

2. I don't know Bombshell. She reminds me a bit of Montoya in character design and that's never a bad thing. I like that there are so many girls in this group actually. The Teen Titans is one group that I always wished had a bit more even gender distribution.

3. Kid Devil, naturally. Eddie's adorable! I didn't think I'd like him as much as I do. He's just crazily cute to me though.

4. Aquagirl. Aquagirl's a good choice. I've really liked what little I've seen of her. She seems like she'd be a fun edition. Wonder if this means we'll get to see some of Atlantis in a later issue.

5. Zatara. I'm still holding out hope that he's Zatanna and John's kid. Maybe she gave him up for adoption or something. She's old enough though. And Zatara is a family name, NOT a code name...

6. Speedy! I'm glad to see that she didn't vanish completely! Mia's backstory is a bit...much for my tastes really, but I do like her as a character. It's good to see her.

7. Beast Boy. Naturally. He makes a better fit with the Doom Patrol though. :-) It'd be cool if they got a comic again.

8. Power Boy. Okay. Now that guy? I want to know about that Guy NOW. Is he really a sidekick/legacy for *Karen*?! How? Is he an alternate-Earth remnant too?

...or the Zero Hour baby? (Which I always thought should have just been Hal's kid. Opportunity was there.) THAT could be interesting!

9. Offspring! That's Plastic Man's brat isn't it? Cool! With Plastic Man, a little goes a long way for me. Probably Offspring'll be the same. Still it's neat to see so many legacies show up. (I always thought the kids were the most interesting parts of Kingdom Come, so I'm thrilled to see so many comparitive characters.)

10. "Little Barda" Okay. This I must have explained NOW. :-) Their kid? I think that'd make the DCU timeline a little shaky, but I'd be more than happy to just blame that on New Earth if we get a Little Barda out of the deal!

11. Hawk and Dove. Now I'm not as enthused about these guys, but that could just be because I've never been a huge fan of any Hawk-Dove characters. The process of going from brothers to a couple to sisters is interesting. But I hardly think Dawn at least actually qualifies as a TEEN titan.

12. Miss Martian. I'm intrigued! J'onn's daughter? White Martian? Who cares. I'm there!

13. Red Star. I'm less happy about this guy. But the conflict element's interesting. Still a really cliched name but then, we've got a "Star Spangled Kid". So I could just be tetchy.

14. Mas y Menos. I get the feeling I should recognize these guys. No idea. Still...interesting.

15. Argent. What the heck is up with her nipples in that image? Still, should be fun! I like Argent.

16. Hot Spot. Okay, Human Torch with flame retardant costume? I'm intrigued enough to take a look.

17. Captain Marvel Junior. An obvious choice really. Seems much more suited to here than to Outsiders. (I'd been really hopeful that he'd stay when he showed up there. Considering the direction they've taken I'm glad he didn't.)

18. Riddler's Daughter? Iiinteresting. I'm not sure I like Duala defining herself by who her dad is...but then again, she's kind of always done that. Hmm, Bette, Tim, Duala possibly on the same team. Titans Tomorrow makes that much more interesting than I'd thought.

19. Talon. Ooo. His costume looks very Batwoman-y. Her equivalent of a Robin? I suppose we won't see him until more of 52 passes. He'll basically be the determinant as to her fate. I hope she lives. She's got potential.

20. Young Frankenstein. I shouldn't find the mere idea as awesome as I do. But hee! Cool!

21. Ravager! Of course! But I've really been liking her now too. She's crazy but not too crazy that I can't empathize or find her amusing.

22. Molecule. Yay, more shrinking people! I wonder if he'll show in the Atom.

23. Osiris. Hmm, Osiris is the brother/husband of Isis in myth, so he's probably Adrianna's brother. I'm surprised. I thought he'd be a plot point more in 52 and thus we wouldn't know if they'd find him alive or dead.

Though come to think about it, Osiris is an underworld god, having been killed by his brother/rival Set. So maybe nothing's been spoiled yet after all.

Okay. That's a pretty nice crop of characters right there. Some familiar, some new (to me). I'm interested! I want to see what this all means!


Friday, September 01, 2006

EiE Infusing Estrogen into the JSA 4: Wonder Woman

This goes without saying, but I'd really like to see Hippolyta brought back as the JSA's Wonder Woman. Every other major casualty of OWAW came back after all. I want to see Hippolyta back too!

Of course, being Queen might not leave a lot of time for heroing, which might not matter so much if she's only a reserve but it'd still be nice to have a Wonder Woman there full time.

I actually suggest Donna. I've heard the argument that as a Titan, very Earth-1 character, she doesn't belong. Which I agree, IF the new Donna is that character. I don't think the Donna in Wonder Woman is written the same as the Donna we saw in those history segments at the end of 52, and it's more than just a year passing as the cause, I think.

Donna is supposed to have counterparts on more than a few Earths after all, I would be happy if this Donna were the amalgamation of a new character.

I've posted some possibilities for this new Donna before. She had been referred to as Diana's sister which might have just been an Amazon term, but I thought it very interesting that during Crisis, the Cathy Lee Crosby/Debra Winger Earth was highlighted. In that Earth, Wonder Girl had been her little sister.

My vote is still that they use the Amazonian immortality as an excuse and pace it so that Diana was born some time at the end of the 1800s, beginning of the 1900s. She might age slower than we do, which would make her still a kid when Hippolyta emerges from Themyscira to fight nazis. (I like this part of WW's background and want to keep it in the form of Hippolyta, no time travel needed.) Since we know that Hippolyta and Wildcat would be very cool to use him as Donna's father. That way Diana is still the special baby made by the Goddesses and yet have Donna as a sister.

Even if that's not the case though, I think the WW Donna would benefit from JSA membership. Her defeat in Wonder Woman shows, I think, that she is not nearly as experienced as the Donna Troy we remember. She seems younger and less confident, she's got a lot more to learn. The JSA would be a good place for that.

She'd be a good perspective in a group. She's got a lot of Teen Titans experience. This sets her and the new Liberty Belle apart from the ex-Infinity Inc characters, as the Titans are a whole different ball game. They'd know different tactics and methods that would be useful.

She'd be good at dealing with the young characters like Jakeem and Courtney. While she's not the only one with adolescent heroic experience, she's in the best position to effectively use it with the kids. Except for the brief Young All-Stars stint, Sand had never really worked with other adolescent heroes, while Jesse doesn't really have, I think, the same empathetic tendencies. The Infinity Inc folks were all a bit older when they adventured, so it's not quite the same.

One complaint I've heard is that Hippolyta looked a bit too much like Diana, which took away from Diana's uniqueness. I've always thought the artists made an effort to differentiate them, but I can see the point. Donna though looks completely different and always has (even when she was the silly mirror twin). Her Wonder Woman costume is really different and interesting and strikingly different from Diana's.

Finally and most importantly, I think it'd be good to have her in the JSA because it would be a brand new direction for her. One much more organic feeling than all the Troia-Depowered-Titan-Whatever shifts that the character had been through before. I think having a brand new, stable setting would ensure that this character develop in ways that take her in a completely different direction than the original character. There probably wouldn't be a need for any of that nonsense ever again.

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