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Goodbye to City of Heroes.

September 9, 2012

This isn’t the blog post I intended to make tonight (yes I actually am planning a series of updates for this blog leading up to debut of my webshow), but today I learned of the impending demise of a game that has been has been a fairly big part of my life for the past 8 or so years: City of Heroes.

Now one can hardly expect a MMO to live on forever, it’s a business and it’s a business that has an inevitable shirnk cycle… some day even WoW will die.  But it’s still very upsetting in it’s own way… I only hope some decent private servers spring up after the game is taken down.

I plan on commemorating CoH in my own way over the next few months, but for now take a look at this awesome tribute from the “Save CoH protest” that’s even as we speak being held in Paragon’s Atlas Park.

 

 

 

 

 

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Brief thoughts on the Wonder Woman/Superman paring

August 22, 2012

A Variant Cover for Justice League #12 showing Superman and Wonder Woman embracing in the air, Wodner Woman’s Lasso circling them about the page several times and tired around Superman. Wonder Woman’s left leg is raised up.

I am behind on reading several of the comics in my pull-list, one of those is Justice League so it was news to me when I discovered via twitter and Newsarama this morning that Superman and Wonder Woman are now an official in universe item. Now I personally like the way their relationship was handled in the excellent graphic novel, Kingdom Come, and given the fact that both characters are essentially immortal, Superman only so in the more modern versions, I could see the characters ending up as an item somewhere down the line.

A comic panel from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes back, showing Wonder Woman kissing Superman
The text reads: Where is the man who stole my Amazon Heart? Where is the hero who threw me to the ground and took me as his rightful price?Where is the god whose passion shattered a mountaintop? Where is that man? Where is that Superman?

This paring can also have extremely negative implications when handled poorly, such is the case in Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Universe where the implications are the relationship is born of rape an has shades of the trope “Every Amazon Wants Hercules.” That trope posits that a strong woman must always desire a strong man who can dominate her, especially if she is previously shown to be misanderist in some way (A quick note: Wonder Woman properly written is not misanderist; Wonder Woman written by Frank Miller is).

Regardless of how it’s used to good or poor effect in various Elseworlds and Future stories; I firmly believe it’s the wrong move for the present day main continuity. Having either character in a relationship with a super on their own power level creates a need for them to frequent each other’s solo books, and particularly in the case of Superman guest starring in Wonder Woman I feel he would draw thunder away from the Amazon princess. The only plus side I can see to this is since Superman is weak against the kind of enemies Wonder Woman usually fights, supernatural or magical enemies, she would likely not be playing the damsel in her own book which would be disastrous.

Of course I have major qualms with the way both of these characters have been treated in the reboot, particularly in the changing of Wonder Woman’s origin story… but this is the move that has by far made me cringe the most over the last year worth of rebooted comics. I’ve managed to enjoy Wonder Woman’s book in spite of it’s flaws and several other of the DC books as well but it does seem like the top brass keep making one poor choice after another.

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Green Lantern Emerald Knights Review

June 2, 2011

A purple skinned, red haired woman in a Green Lantern uniform crouches in front of a lavish looking bed. In her hands is a rope weapon made of green Energy; this is Laira, the most compelling of the characters in the new Emerald Knight's feature.

Tonight I was treated to an advance screening of the new DCAU (That’s DC Animated Universe) film Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. This film serves as a bridge between the comic books and the upcoming live action film for new fans giving as a look at the corps and some of the characters who make it up.

The film is a series of short stories told to new Green Lantern Corps recruit Arisia while a much larger threat is looming. Tales of The first lantern, Kilowog, Laira, Mogo, and Abin-sur, are told in turn interspaced with scenes connected to the “present day” threat of the return of Krona.

As soon as the film started I was sceptical. It begins with the death of a female Green Lantern corps member, which serves to set up the initial conflict. I must admit I scoffed when the Guardians talked about how she was a celebrated member of the corps who would be remembered, when truth was she was simply a plot device, and this apparent fridging right off the bat put me in a bad mindset, but the story did surprise me with the direction it took and the stories that they told.

The most compelling of the stories, which for the most part were taken straight from comic book stories, was that of Laira who on her first solo mission had to return to her home planet which had become hostile on her fathers rule. It’s by far the most personal tale as Laira has to confront a brother who is a sadist and who used to bully her, and worse she has to confront her father who was her idol and whose approval she obviously cared for above all else. During their fight dozens of holographic photos are activated showing them in touching family scenes.

The other stories are interesting in their own way: Mogo’s is just hilarious, especially if you know what’s coming ahead of time, Abin-sur’s is a mix of hopeful and tragic, all decent stories but Laira’s is the one that connected with me.

It’s also interesting that Hal Jordan isn’t the POV character, he’s telling the stories, but it’s Arisia for whom those stories are told, Arisia who is learning what it means to be a Lantern along with the audience, and in the end it’s Arisia who proves to be the hero of the hour. She comes up with the plan that defeats Krona by taking lessons from each story to heart.

The movie is a Bechdel past thanks to Laira’s story, and while some of the female members of the Green Lantern corps are sexualized to lesser or greater degrees it also has some interesting female aliens who are not designed as sex objects, like this one in the story of the first Green Lantern who is basically a jelly wafer with limbs.

Not a perfect film but one I was pleasantly surprised with.

Bechdel Test: Pass
Out of the Fridge Score 3/5
4/5 Stars

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Justice League the Birth of a New(?) DC Universe

June 1, 2011

So following DC’s Mega Event, Flashpoint we will be treated to the creation of a brand new DC universe. According to USA Today, and DC’s own blog, this August will see a reimagination of the Birth of the Justice League which will launch us into a new universe.

A reboot on this scale hasn’t been attempted since the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and I do not think it’s neccesary.

Of course the part of this I find hilarious is the statement that DC is, “revamping characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others from its 76-year history for a more modern and diverse 21st century.”

It’s revamping for a more diverse 21st century but we’re going back to an all white, one woman, JLA from the multi-ethnic multi-woman JLA of more recent incarnations?

Does that make sense?

More on this story as it breaks.

A Screen Cap of the USA Today Article showing the new Justice League, with redesigned members Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Superman and Green Lantern... this is a new more diverse take on JLA they say so why is everyone white with a smuffette.

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The women of the movie Thor

May 9, 2011

Feminism in a Hollywood blockbuster

Sif as she appears in the comics, a winged headband, red and white "Xena" like outfit with armored leggings and arm bands and a red and white fur cape.

A promotional image for Christopher Nolan's film The Dark Knight showing the principal male characters Joker, Batman and Harvey Dent. This film lacks any women of substance and is the most celebrated superhero movie of our time.

Comic book movies tend to be sausage-fests. This is a shame because there is a plethora of great women who can be drawn from comic lore into most of these stories and hold their own. The Christopher Nolan Batman films for example have only featured one woman thus far, Rachel who serves as muse and love interest to Batman and while the next film will feature Catwoman this is only because Bruce needs a love interest after Rachel’s fridge-death last movie. Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Talia Al Ghul, and many others would make logical character choices for the franchise but where are they?

Suffice to say I didn’t have much hope that Marvel’s Thor film would score high in this regard either, but I was presently surprised with what I saw, with a couple caveats.

A promotional poster for Thorwith the caption "the woman of science" stamped over Portman's face in Grey Scale

First of all the movie is a Bechdel pass, though just barely. Jane Foster, who in this version has been upgraded from a nurse to an astrophysicist has some non-guy science discussions with her student-aid Darcy, mostly in the first and second act of the film. Jane Foster is also portrayed as a competent woman who doesn’t loose her head under fire; when a small New Mexico town is under attack by the giant Asgardian Robot called “The Destroyer” and Thor tells her to evacuate she instead stays and helps with the evacuation of the town. Portman also focused on giving Foster a somewhat more genuine research scientist personality having her be a bit frazzled and seeing things in abstraction.

Thor in the movie showing off his naked pectorial muscles - this movie may sexualize it's male lead more then it's women.

While Jane is the love interest she’s never really sexualized in fact Thor being over a thousand years old is very old school and goes for a kiss on the hand and it’s Jane who takes it to the next level and plants one on his lips right before the climax showing sexual agency on her part. In fact the story swings this around the other way and has the Darcy objectify Thor, with comments like, “does he need CPR? Cause I totally know CPR,” and “For a crazy, homeless guy he’s pretty good,” while staring at Thor’s exposed chest.

Jaimie Alexander in the role of Sif a dark haired woman in armor looking very pleased with herself and confident before a fight.

The other female characters are all active participants in shaping their own destiny; most notable is the Lady Sif, in mythology and the comics it’s based on Thor’s lover and wife but we don’t see that here, is a competent warrior who earned the respect of her peers to become known as one of Asgard’s fiercest warriors (there is a bit of comedy here as Thor asks one of his companions who found him the greatest battles, and he replies that it was Thor, another who led him to the greatest banquets and feasts and he replies that it was Thor and to Sif who proved everyone wrong when they thought a woman couldn’t become one of their top warriors, and she replies that she did it herself). She never needs rescuing by Thor and handles herself well in both fights she is involved in. She has some emotional range too, showing concern, wit, charm; she’s proud but not “frigid” in some sterotypical way where her being a warrior is her sole defining characteristic.

Rene Ruso in the role of Frigga, Odin's wife, at the side of her husband's bed while he is in a helpless state.

Then there is Frigga the wife of Odin and mother of Thor. We initially see her only by Odin’s side refusing to leave his bed when he’s in the Odinsleep (a comma like state where Odin regenerates his power), and so she seems to be totally defined by her role of wife and mother, this would be regrettable but understandable given the space of time in the film but she is shown to be wise and cunning and capable of taking care of herself. Eventually assassins come to kill Odin in his sleep, often in film you’d expect the wife to throw her body overtop of her husband’s and become a living shield all the while begging for her husband to be spared, until the hero swoops in at the last moment, but here Frigga draws a sword in defence of her husband and fells one of the two assassins, before help arrives.

The movie celebrates a woman’s right to be a soldier and to fight for her loved ones without fetishizing it or valuing it above non-violent careers, Jane contributes to the story without throwing a punch by helping evacuate a town and refusing to flee from danger even when directed by Thor. She is portrayed as a woman in a male dominated career who is bullied around by the government, who take her research for their own purposes ensuring that she’d never get credit for her work the fate all too many real women in the science fields, but refuses to accept it and stands up for herself.

The film does have a couple troubling moments as it pretains to sexsism. Specifically Thor is taunted twice with sexist insults or threats in order to goad him into fighting. In the first instance a Frost Giant calls him a princess, when he attempts to walk away from a fight. The second is more troubling, Loki, the main villain of the film, makes an implied threat of rape against Jane Foster to force Thor to fight him; this is even more troubling given that the trickster god is supposed to be a villain whom we can sympahtize with and are supposed to feel for. These and some instances of abelism (like the aforementioned crazy homeless person bit) are the only problems I have with an otherwise excellent film.

Thor is a man’s story but when placed alongside other movies in the genre like Iron Man 2, in which female characters are either hypersexualized or reduced to panic attacks and damsels in distress, it’s a movie with a much more feminine mind frame and feminist friendly message to young girls. I only hope that Brunhilde Valkyrie gets an apperance if this film gets a direct sequel outside of The Avengers.

Page 21 from the Valkyrie one shot from 2010

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Reviews for Feb 2 comics Part 1

February 8, 2011

Oz/Wonderland Kids, Warriors Three, Ozma of Oz, More coming later today

Read the rest of this entry »

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Reviews for Jan 26 comics Part 1

January 29, 2011

Fables #101


Written by:Bill Willingham
Pencils:Eric Shanower
inks: Andrew Pepoy & Richard Friend
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover Art: Joao Ruas
Asst. Editors: Greg Lockard
Editor: Shelly Bond

Fables #101, takes a moment to break with the main action and takes us back to the business office; the magic mirror convinces Buffkin to climb the tree in the Business Office to find a way for them to escape and return home. Though he does this by telling Buffkin that he will become a king after completing 13 heroic tasks, and since he is supposed to be unable to lie Frankie wonders if this really will come to pass. This being Fables stranger things have happened so we’ll see, it should be interesting.

Once he reaches the top of the tree he finds himself in Ev the kingdom next to Oz and there he meets up with Bungle the Glass Cat, the Saw Horse and Jack Pumpkinhead who have just escaped a chain gang. We find out that the Nome King is still ruling Oz (and presumably the whole Nonestic Continent). The Nome King remains the last of Geppetto’s main lieutenants at large: Hansel was killed during the Great Fables Crossover, the Snow Queen is still asleep in the Imperial Capitol and Baba Yaga was disposed of by Buffkin. So I’m interested in how this adventure develops and how it will overlap with the main plot.

Vetran Oz artist, Eric Shanower, was the penciler for this issue and he did an amazing job; after years of doing Oz comics and illustrations for Oz novels you can always trust him to capture the Oz characters, but he did a stupendous job on the Fables characters as well. His attention to detail is, as anyone who has read his series Age of Bronze would know, staggering. For example in the scene where Buffkin finds himself in the Lunch Pale tree of Ev, each lunch box is decorated with a different Oz/John R Neil illustration, one has the cover to “The Lost Princess of Oz”, and another has a two page end wrapper from Ozma of Oz of Ozma riding a sawhorse driven chariot as her friends look on.

The colors in this book, done by Lee Loughridge, are also to be commended they go from greys in the opening scenes in the business office to popping vibrant colors in Ev, yes the comparison to the 1939 MGM film’s sepia tone switch are obvious.

All and all it’s a fun little issue that you’ll enjoy if you’re a fan of Fables or of Oz, and if you’re like me and happen to be a fan of both you’ll love it.

Quality Rank 4/5
Out of the Fridge Score 3/5
Bechdel Test: Fail

Wonder Woman #606


Written by:J Micheal Straczynski & Phil Hester
Pencils:Eduardo Pansica
inks: Leisten, Alquiza, Faucher & Ferreira
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Art: Don Kramer with Alex Sinclair
Variant Cover Alex Garner

Assoc. Editor: Sean ryan
Editor: Brian Cunningham

Wonder Woman #606 highlights everything about this reboot that’s just not worked, as well as touching on the good elements. The writing again is top notch as one would expect from J Micheal Stracynzki, this will be his last issue on the book, however, as he departs to work on a squeal to his Superman Earth 1 graphic novel, but there’s a few things here that I just can’t be bothered to care about.

The Amazon Philippus is killed by a hunstman deity which causes Diana to go into a murderous rage and kill the beast in cold blood after breaking his back; this apparantly plays into the badguys’ plans to have her join the dark side. Honestly Philippus death causes absolutely no pathos in me for two reasons. Firstly JMS has already overplayed his hand with killing off Amazons, Diana’s mother, first in her mortal body then her spirit against the first opponent and the Amazon who stayed behind to help her at the temple, and secondly I know Philippus will be back when the timeline resumes itself at the end of JMS’s storyarc. Phillipus is one of the two main Amazon supporting characters for Diana (outside of her mother and sister) and while death can be cheap in comics, death in a alternate timeline has no tender what-so-ever.

The other main supporting Amazon, Artemis, is revived by the Morrigan to be one of their three champions to use against Diana, this just confuses me. In the normal Wonder Woman universe Artemis was originally a member of the Bana-Mighdall a splinter group of the Amazons that diverged from them after Heracles’ defeat of the Amazons some 3,000 years ago. They are not immortal, at least not until they rejoined the Amazons during modern continuity so I’m not sure when Artemis could have been killed… Wonder Woman looks much younger then she does in normal continuity but Artemis looks the same, and I’m not sure why she would bare the Amazon’s any grudge for abandoning her, when she should not have been a part of the tribe.

There’s some outright silly moments with Ajax the Greater wandering around as the Morrigan’s gopher with the sword he impaled himself upon still sticking out of his chest.

Honestly I think the novelty of this arc has run out, and I’m looking forward to it’s conclusion.

Quality Rank: 2/5
Out of the Fridge Score 3/5
Bechdel Test: Pass


Written by: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciled by: David Messina Prologue: Elena Casagrande

Inked by: Gaetano Carlucci
Colored by: ScarletGothica
Lettered by: Robbie Robbins
Cover Art: A- Gabriel Rodriguez; B- John K. Snyder III; C- Ashley Wood
Associate Editor: Bobby Curnow

Editor: Chris Ryall & Tom Waltz

After several months of hype IDW’s infestation is here, and I have to say it’s off to a promising start. The story uses the characters from IDW’s original franchise Zombies Vs Robots, a group of Vampiric special ops agents called the CVO, and a story about dimensional travel to link together a story that spans four franchises.

The interesting things about the Zombies from planet Z is that they aren’t simple mindless eating machines rather they’re zombies who are linked by a hive intelligence and much like the Borg of Star Trek fame they aim to assimilate new worlds into their ranks to grow in power and intelligence. They can also zombiefy anything that has intelligence including robots which explains how they could be a threat to The Transformers and even other types of undead such as the CVO agent Britt.

The story cleverly sets up a cross-company crossover without the need for the Ghostbusters to be hanging out with Optimus Prime and General Hawk on the bridge of the Enterprise. Britt is temporarily assimilated by the hive mind and part of her consciousness is sent to each of the four worlds and the CVO will have to recover her lost personality fragments across these worlds to sever the zombie’s connection to them.

This gives the story a similar feeling to Kingdom Hearts or Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, in that that each world will stand on it’s own with the CVO cast and the Zombies being the only constant and the personality fragment as the goal on each world. Much like how in Kingdom Hearts the heroes from each Disney world did not leave their respective homelands and the objective on each world was to find the keyhole to prevent the Heartless from taking over, or in the case of Tsubasa finding one of Sakura’s memory feathers.

The story is typical of Dan Abnett’s writing from his Warhammer novels and comics in that it is top notch and unapologeticly epic.

Britt seems like she might be an interesting character if I had read the previous CVO stories but she ends up providing the impetus for the arc by being a damsel in distress.

Quality Rank 4/5
Out of the Fridge Score 2.5/5
Bechdel Test: Fail

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