Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Good Times Are Killing Me

As an anthropology student I spend a lot of time studying the past and reflecting on the things that have already come to pass. I spend more time in yesterday at times than I do in today - or as the Wolfriders would call it, the Now. Tonight though, I find myself wondering just what living in the past does to me.

For one, I do believe that history, both in a worldview and on a personal level, is important. Learning from the past is what helps us to change and grow and gives us the chance to learn from our mistakes. But spending too much time in nolstalgia can damage the quality of our lives.

I remember my Dad's comic book store vividly. When my sister and I lived at Comics And... we were happy. I spent my days reading, playing make-believe in the basement (my sister was Peacock Girl and I was Flexability Cat), dreaming of imaginary places, and learning most of the important things there are from superheroes. If there was a "golden age" to my life, that was it. I miss it more than I can adequately express. But it's gone now and it's not coming back. If I spent my time mourning the loss of that time I'd never come to appreciate the Now.

The same goes for the comic books themselves. I miss the old stories, the times when it seemed as if comics showed us how to pick ourselves up and how to stand tall. But as much as I love those stories I have to focus on the good stories there are now or I'll miss out on so much. Maybe the "good old days" aren't what's important. Maybe it's the good people - the writers who still believe in their characters, the artists who give us a window into a facinating world, and the readers who keep demanding higher quality from a society when quality is too often thrown to the wayside. The readers who shout, "More isn't always better! Sometimes it's just more!" These are the people who make me believe that comics will continue and that they will become better. If those people give up all that's left is the past - and that will lead us nowhere, fast.

So I say read comics for the future. Read comics to your kids. Don't give up on superheroes... because after all they never give up on us.

PC is Killing Comics


This post may offend the easily offended. If you are offended by possibly controversial statements then don't read this post. Nasty comments will be deleted. You have been forewarned. That said, this isn't intended to piss people off but you can never make everyone happy.

Thanks to Dan Didio Affirmative Action has come to a comic book store near you! I wouldn't want to get a job due to my minority status (or gender for that matter) so why should a superhero be written as a "miniority" just for the sake of attempting to be PC?

OK, I realize that heroes should be diverse, I have no issue with that. I do have a problem with the idea that the new Batwoman is a lesbian as a selling point. I could care less what Batwoman's sexual orientation is - sure I understand that love and romance is part of the story behind a character... but why is it so important to Didio to keep talking about Kate Kane being gay? Answer: he wants to appear PC.

Yes - bring in minorities, yes - allow for gay characters. That is how it should be because a hispainic guy or a lesbian is just as likely to be a hero as anyone. But I want characters to be created because someone has been inspired to write about them, not because their editor tells them that they have to come up with a minority character because it's PC. That's a death sentence for the story right there... it's a character fostered by a business decision and that leads to a character without the passion of the writer behind it. The way Didio presents it, it's as if he doesn't care much for the character themselves but only if they make him look like a politically correct guy. It's just another way of selling books to him.

Sometimes people wonder why there are so many white male characters in comic books. I myself had a hard time identifying with many of the female superheroes that were around when I was growing up (some girls think they had it rough growing up wanting to look like Barbie - that's nothing when there's women like Starfire running around). But let's face it - the best way to write is to write what you know - and even now the comic world is populated by more men than women. So you're going to find the male characters more prominent... most guys find it easiest to write male characters... and you can tell when the female characters are written but a man most of the time too. It's only natural. Some of the best female characters out there right now are written by a woman - Gail Simone writes strong women who ring true to the female reader. This is because she's writing what she knows. (This doesn't mean you can't write a female character if you're a guy or vise versa, but every writer knows that if you can pull from your own experiences you can write a better story. It's one of the first rules you learn in writing.)

My point here is that diversity will come to comics naturally over time the same way female superheroes have grown more varied over the years. If it's forced I have a feeling it will piss off more people than it pleases. If a character is given to someone to write JUST BECAUSE someone wants a gay character it won't be done well. If some writer is gay or has gay friends and wants to bring some of that culture into a story and because of that they come up with a character to explore that world, then it has a chance of becoming a great story. Until that time just make sure that at least your supporting cast is varied to reflect the world itself. Let characters evolve naturally.

Diversity in comics is great - we live in a diverse world and comics should reflect that. But I think it's also important to remember that people are all PEOPLE first and foremost. Homo sapiens... there is no biological race and no genetic trait for sexual orientation. I think the heroic journey itself should be held with more regard than the color of someone's skin or who they find attractive. At least for me I continue to care more about the virtue of the character themsleves than any accident of birth.

I'm hoping Batwoman's writers will focus on the character herself and not making her the token lesbian vigilante. With good writers she could be a neat character.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Sorry guys, no real post today. I'm not feeling well and I just can't get the "PC is killing comics" post right because of it. I've got at least half of it down and will finish it tomorrow, but I do apologize for the delay. I just refuse to post something like that only doing a half-assed job.

I did notice something funny and disturbing today though. While reading through the Dark Phoenix Saga (reminding myself of all they missed out on in the recent movie) I found something I had missed all these years. In issue #129 of Uncanny X-Men (I think, they don't actually tell you the issue numbers in the old graphic novels - it's the 1st appearance of Kitty Pryde if that helps) the X-Men take Kitty out to a malt shop while the Prof. talks with her parents. There's a side panel where Wolverine is looking at a magazine with Colossus peering over his shoulder. A few panels later they focus in on the two and you see that Wolverine is flipping through an issue of Penthouse!

At first I was stunned. As an adult (and as a teenager too, I suppose) I realized that many people enjoy looking at "dirty" magazines (and it really doesn't bother me) but it had never occured to me that Wolverine would do it! In a malt shop! With Colossus! I'd scan the picture if I could but I have no scanner so you'll just have to look it up :) I think I shattered a childhood perception today...

At least Colossus has the decency to look suprised at what Wolvie is flipping through. I guess after all the Mariko stuff later on I kind of though of Wolvie as being above looking at pictures of naked women. He always seemed kind of honorable back in the "good 'ole days". Now I have discover the were no good days :( Gee, I'm glad I never picked up on that when my Dad read us this book when we were kids. *sigh* Oh well, I'm sure I'll recover - at least I haven't found evidence of Superman reading Playboy.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Abberrant Day

Today was our second Abberrant game and it took up most of the day. As such there won't be much of a post.

This game wasn't as "exciting" as last since it involved more footwork than anything else. It was fairly informative though. It's interesting to watch as our team dynamic evolves. I never really gave much thought to what superheroes do in their downtime before - you know, the heroes who have no secret identity(as most superhumans in the Abberrant world don't have a secret identity). My character, for example, live on the island that serves as the Phoenix Corps base of operations. So when we have downtime when our GM is off running another scene I have to figure out what it is Gilly does in her free time when she's waiting around for something specific to happen (and thus can't run off to the lab to get work done or hang out with the dolphins). It was interesting to think about. I hope stuff like that will help me with writing characters in the future. Developing a new character is always fun :)

Anyway, I know most of you aren't interested in my gaming life, but since it usually takes up a good amount of my time on days we play I'm ususally too burnt out to write a real post. So have a great holiday and I'll come up with something more insightful for tomorrow's post! For today all I have is this:

What confuses me the most is that off-again on-again lightbulbs are "a new mystery analysts thriller!" Where do they come up with this stuff?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Project: Save Nightwing

Here's the general idea I came up with:

Due to a lack of quality in the current DC series, Nightwing, I am proposing an alternate storyline starting from "1 year later". This will be written as if it would actually be published - i.e. it will fall within the continuity of the current DC universe.

I have a good idea of what I want to do with this as far as the plot goes, but I need to figure out what city Nightwing should be based out of. I'm not sure how well NYC works... it doesn't really suit Nightwing. So I'm asking for suggestions. I'd prefer to keep him on the East Coast though as I am more familiar with that area.

I'd also like everyone's thoughts about what could be done to revive the Nightwing series. Because I am trying to do this as if it were an actual project proposal we have to assume that Devin Grayson's work is cannon (well, to an extent anyway). Try and imagine what you'd like to see Nightwing doing "1 year later" and go from there :)

I appreciate any help I can get.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Friday, May 26, 2006

X-Men: Last Stand

*possible spoilers* - but I really think I managed to keep my review pretty vague.

The X-Men movies seem to have gone the way of the comics - tossing out character developement for flashy battle scenes and predictable plot lines. As much as I was hoping for more, I can't say I was too suprised at the lack of quality in the latest X movie.

There was little to no character developement in this movie. I was pleased to see much more of Kitty in this movie, unfotunately both her and Colossus are just throwen into the story without us getting to know them. Rogue, who we had come to love from the previous movies, barely had any screen time. Wolverine was yet again the "star" of the show - to the point where they screwed with the only good thing Scott Summers ever had. Oh, and that's the other thing. Scott finally got to have a bit of a role... which was wasted during the course of the movie. I will admit that Angel was gorgeous. I've always liked the Angel character and even though we didn't get to know him it was still nice to see him fly. The one new addition that did fairly well was Beast. Kelsy Grammer was a great casting call and even Beast's fighting scenes were awesome. Nightcrawler is not in this movie - and there is no explaination as to why he's gone. It's as if he never existed *rolls eyes*. Then there was Callisto - WTF? She was nothing like her comic book counterpart. I didn't even know she was Callisto until I went home and looked at the casting info. All I can assume is that in the world of Hollywood the Morlocks are a bunch of goth kids. Seriously, what were they thinking? Juggernaut didn't really look like himself either, although his personality was much closer to the character than Callisto. Jamie Maddrox? Completely off. This made me sad as I have recently come to like the character of Multiple Man. The actors certaintly did the best job they could - it wasn't thier fault that no one got screen time.

As for the plot... it was like they tried to throw in too many things at once (kind of like the characters!). They had a Dark Phoenix plot, another excuse for crazy mutant battles/protests plot, a Sentinel teaser and what could have been a Morlock plot. The truely regrettable thing is if they had picked one of these plots, stuck with it, and done it right, this would have been an awesome movie. Instead we get a plot straight out of the badly written comic book days - mismatched, poorly patched together and confusing. They don't give you anytime to care about what was happening. Yes, there were "cool" scenes - but all they did was play to the fans of the comic books and did nothing to redeem the actual movie. Then, to top it all off, the ending is so predictable I saw it coming twenty minutes into the movie.

Of course my biggest disappointment in the movie was the fact that they put Jean in some ugly red dress and we never saw Famke Janssen in the Dark Phoenix costume. I mean, c'mon... give me something to work with here!

The movie wasn't a total loss - there were good moments and it was well acted. Seeing Kitty in action was cool. Jean was, as previously mentioned, hot. Hugh Jackman, as always, does a great Wolverine. Ian McKellan was awesome as usual. All in all I will probably end up owning the movie if only to watch Angel fly - but I feel let down somehow. I really hoped for more.

Note: this would have been posted much earlier if not for blogger being bugged out every time I hit the publish button - sorry for the delay!

midnight movie intermission

Just got home from the midnight showing of the new X-Men movie. As it's pretty late I'll post a non-spoiler review tomorrow morning. Until then I leave you with one thought: Jean Grey was hot... unfortunately she had next to no lines :(

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jeff's birthday post

For Jeff's birthday (which was yesterday, May 24th) I asked him what topic he would like me to write about. He responded with, "Who are your favorite 3 writers in comics or otherwise right now. Why? Is there any comic writer you can't stand? Why?" Here's the answers to those questions...

My three favorite writers (and we're going to stick in the comic book world because otherwise I'd never come up with an answer) are Neil Gaimen, Gail Simone, and Mark Waid. As to why:

Neil Gaimen

First of all, there's the Sandman, possibly one of the greatest stories ever written in comic book form. Gaimen created a whole new level to the DCU and more - he did it well. He managed to not only write a story that could hold your interest and tweak your imagination, but to write it in such a fashion that it worked on many levels. You could pick up Sandman as a monthly book, a single graphic novel, or as a whole, and everytime it was a good read. Also, everytime you read the series you find something new. Second, there's American Gods, one of my all time favorite books. Gaimen interweaves all sorts of mythology into an outstanding story that gives the reader a glimpse of America from the standpoint of the immortal. I think Gaimen is one of the only writers I've read that manages to bring a spark of insight to whatever he writes.

Gail Simone

I will add that Gail Simone is a consistantly good writer as well as the things I've stated before. That's rare to find in comic books. She writes intriguing characters, fun stories, and never fails to forget a humorous remark even in the darkest of times.

Mark Waid

Ever since Mark Waid made Wally West into a great character I've had a lot of respect for his work. His transformation of the Flash was amazing. Wally became a real hero and Waid has a talent for establishing strong foundations as well as continuity. The other thing I enjoyed with Waid was the love story he gave Wally. Many other writers would have had Wally sleeping with 3 girls at once or some other such nonsense. Instead, Waid gave Wally true love - love that stretched across the bounds of time and space and saved Wally time and time again. I am also enjoying his run on the Legion of Superheroes. It's fun, interesting, and deals with deep issues without it becoming so depressing that you stop reading. Mark Waid is an awesome comic book writer, and I'm always happy to give his work a shot.

As for a writer I can't stand, at the moment that would be Frank Miller. This may come as a suprise to some, especially considering his supposed brilliance, but I really dislike his writing at the moment. I have enjoyed his work in the past, don't get me wrong, but Batman Allstar really bothers me. That is NOT my Batman (or my Robin for that matter). I also don't understand why everything Miller writes is such a angsty, dark mind trip. I mean, look at Alan Moore's work... sure he has a lot of similar themes, but it's not all the same in the emotions he conveys. Take a look at the difference in between From Hell and Top 10 for instance. Moore can try new things. Miller seems to be writing Allstar as if the iconic version of Batman belongs in Sin City. Personally I prefer Batman and the Monster Men and wish Miller would learn to chill out.

Hope that answered your question Jeff (even though I know you've been enjoying Allstar Batman ;) ) and I hope you had a great birthday!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bigby Wolf

This is a post about why Bigby is one of the best characters in comics EVER. That's right, EVER. Sure, he's surly, he's mean, he probably only bathes once a month, but he's still amazing.

First of all he's a detective, that in itself can be pretty cool. My new found love for Jason Bard partially stems from the detective angle. I admit that growing up with a Dad who has bought me every Detective issue since I was, what, seven? may have something to do with the fact that I'm a sucker for the private eye. Bigby's also a more loveable (perhaps more redeemable) Sam Spade - and c'mon, how many people didn't love Sam Spade the first time they watched the Maltese Falcon? He's also a spy master. I love how he has this network of Fables working undercover. Really, who would think Cinderella was a spy? That's right, no one. Only Bigby could find such a perfect agent.

Second, Bigby's a wolf. Not just any wolf, but a great big one that huffs and puffs. Personally, I never rooted for any of the little pigs... I always wanted the Big Bad Wolf to win. I mean, sure, eating Grandma was a bit extreme, but only a bit. It was totally Red's fault for trusting a wolf in the first place. Hmm, maybe this is why I was never the popular kid in school *cough*

Then there's the fact that despite Bigby's sorid past, he becomes the hero of Fabletown. I know that I was excited to see him come into Fabletown as a giant wolf and huff and puff. Bigby turned the tide of that battle - it was a memorable comic book moment.

The best thing about Bigby is how he is around Snow. His love for her is so obvious... of course the fact that he was shacking up with some other girl recently bothers me, but I have a feeling that we don't know the entirety of that story yet. Either way Bigby and Snow have one of the few true romances left in comic books right now, so Bigby has to be pretty darn awesome.

Oh yeah, and Bigby's cute too - in a gruff kind of way :)

I think Bigby is one of my favorite characters around... especially since Nightwing has been stolen away from me. I was VERY happy to see his return in the latest issue of Fables. I've enjoyed the divergent stories, but I really kept reading because I wanted to see Bigby again. Hopefully Willingham will give us plenty of Bigby and Snow!

It's also nice to see how the characters are actually allowed to change and grow, despite the fact that Fables are immortal.

Monday, May 22, 2006


I know I've discussed this somewhat before, but after perusing both Seven Hells, and subsequently Written World, I began thinking further about women who read comic books and do other "geeky guy" things.

A few years ago I remember one of those spoof emails going around that listed the 10 things that could be used to identify a geek. Looking back on some of the activities listed I have to wonder why geekdom is usually associated with guys. Here were some of the things listed:

Comic Books

Well anyone who reads this blog is well aware of the fact that I am a comic book fan. While I realize that comic books have a larger male fan base, I find it odd how suprised guys are when they find out I know more about comics than they do (usually). I know many female comic book fans - it's hard to believe we're such a rarity that the cashiers at the stores look at us bug eyed when we walk up to the counter with an issue of Batman.

Star Trek etc

I'm a trekkie... my sister's a trekkie... heck, my Mom's a trekkie. In fact I think I know more girls who are into Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings than I know guys. Actually I've always found sci-fi and D&D type fantasy more appealing than Friends or Sex in the City.

Video Games

Ah, another type of store where I get funny looks from the cashiers - places like Game Stop and EB. Obviously I'm there to buy a gift for my boyfriend or my brother. *sigh* I will admit that I don't know all that many girls who play video games on a regular basis, but still, I know they're out there.


Even I have to admit that my one female player recently dropped out of my tabletop game. I have to assume this is because a lot of boys grew up playing D&D and other rpgames while girls usually don't become exposed to it until later in life. I didn't even discover the world of gaming until I went to college and fell in with local comic book geeks who introduced me to LARPing. It is pretty hard for girls to get into the LARP side of gaming sometimes... many of the guys look at you as if they've never seen a girl before. Still, most of my female friends are into some sort of RPGing.

Online RPGs

When I played both Everquest and War of Warcraft people assumed I was a guy. A lot of this has to do with the fact that so many guys make female characters on these games, but the amount of times people refered to me as "bro"... well, lets just say it got old.

I guess the point of all this is that women are just as likely to enjoy "geeky" stuff as guys are. Maybe the market shouldn't just be opening up to kids to get more readers... maybe they should also clue into the fact that women are interested in the market too. Maybe then I'll walk into new comic or gaming stores without feeling like the cashier has never seen breasts on someone before.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

X-Men Fairy Tales

So when I went to check out Read More Comics yesterday I ended up getting X-Men Fairy Tales #1 (well, actually André got it for me) our of curiosity.

Wow, I ended up being plesantly suprised by a Marvel book.

Sure, it's a stolen idea on multiple levels (Sandman Dreamhunters as well as Fables), but nonetheless, an enjoyable read. I actually liked the Cyclops character! This has only proved the fact that X-Men works better as a Japanese fairy tale of course, but here's another shocker - it's an ALL AGES BOOK!

On another high note, the art was very nicely done. It managed to work with the Japanese theme without looking like manga art, and the coloring was lovely. I think Beast in the guise of a mischievious blue monkey was my favorite character, he was very entertaining. Iceman appears as a snowy dog, Prof. X as a monk, Cyclops as a woodsman, and Angel as a bird. This was a very cute story and I look forward to the rest of the miniseries. If you haven't read this yet I'd highly suggest checking it out :) It reminds me of the stories Kitty and Illyana used to tell back when I loved the X-Men.

Comic Book Stores

It's a hard thing to find a good comic book store - at least as far as I'm concerned. Oh, I admit I'm a lot pickier than others owing to the fact that no store will ever top my Dad's, but I don't think that I ask all that much. First of all I don't want it to be some sort of creepy boys club in which most of the people who work at the place have never seen a girl before. Secondly I'd prefer it to not be a corperation as I enjoy being a person and not a number. I'd also like a place where the people are friendly, like to talk about comics, keep their store clean and well lit, and have a decent knowledge of their product. Also, I hate stores where you fell pressured or guilt tripped. I really don't think this is a lot to ask.

Since my Dad's store closed we haven't managed to find many stores that fit this criteria though. Part of the reason is that in any given area there are probably a maximum of three stores to choose from. The other reason is that too many of these stores just fail to meet my expectations.

Cosmic Comix in Catonsville, MD is a great store. My family has been frequenting it for several years now and followed them over when they moved from Ellicott City. It meets all of my above criteria (though I will say the new store is much more open and well lit) and even goes so far as to exceed my expectations. I enjoy dropping by and picking up something new to read every time I'm in town.

The Comics Club in Brandon, FL has recently become a disappointment. For the past few years I have only had good things to say about this store. Unfortunatly this is no longer the case. I loved that this was a store run by a small family - the fact that their little girl was growing up in a comic book store reminded me of my own childhood. The owners were nice enough and they were always willing to go out of their way for us. Then it went downhill. Over the past few months we've been harassed about buying stuff EVERY TIME we walk in the door. A friend of ours, Corey, had asked one of the owners to look into an L5R set out of curiosity - when the owner told him what was actually in it Corey decided that he didn't want it. A few months later the owner starts asking André and I about Corey and tells us that he had been told (by Corey) that he was "thinking" about ordering this L5R set and that since the owner hadn't heard from him again he went ahead and ordered it anyway "just in case". OK, fine, we agreed to ask Corey about it. We did, and Corey said he'd talk to the guy (which he did, and decided AGAIN, after attempts made by the owner to guilt trip him into buying it, that he was not interested). Fast forward to FCBDay - again the owner asks us what's going on. We tell him we don't know, that Corey had said he had talked to them about it already. He starts telling us stories about how he'd not make much profit off of it even if Corey bought it, how he ordered it because he thought he wanted it, how he's been holding it when he could have had other buyers, and asking us if we wanted to buy it... blah blah blah. We tell him (as we had in the past) that he should sell it to one of these "other buyers" because we weren't interested. If that wasn't bad enough, when we get up to the counter to buy a graphic novel and claim our free books the other owner - his wife who is usually great to talk to - starts asking us about the whole thing. By this time André and I are fed up and haven't gone to the store since. I don't go to the comic book store with my bags packed for a guilt trip - I go there to buy stuff and talk to comic book people.

Read More Comics in Brandon, FL is quite possibly my new comic store down here. We just checked it out today (thanks to a tip from The Hero's Alliance) and it seemed like a fairly nice store. It actually reminded me a lot of Cosmic Comix, and the guy working at the counter was very nice (and reading Fables too, so at least he had good taste. It was nothing like the store down the street from us that seems to be the creepy guy store, and there was even a section dedicated to young readers. So far, this looks like a great store.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Booster Gold... somehow I liked him better when he first came to my attention in the Justice League. Of course after Infinate Crisis Countdown I have found myself frequently missing the days of the old JL. You know, the one with Batman constantly throwing around Guy Gardner, the one where Ted and Booster wise cracked a mile a minute - back when Batman occasionaly made jokes and Max Lord was just an over glorified used car salesman. The days of Fire and Ice and Maxima. I miss those comics. Now I get Booster Gold: Mr. Advertisment. *gags*

I know he's the guy we all love to make fun of but at least it wasn't so painful before.

Then there's Ralph. I know he's depressed, but c'mon, suicide? Not the Ralph I used to know. I was hoping that 52 (as much as I knew it was going to be depressing) would be showing us that world that the big three were so certain was being left in good hands. Instead it is looking more and more like a Marvelized DC. This depresses me. I look to Marvel if I want grittier and more "realitic" (as the liberals put it) comics. DC is supposed to be the inspirational worldview - but apparently no one's told Dan Didio that.

Oh well, at least the art is good and they've got plenty of issues to improve the story with. Until then I have the reassurance that Kurt Busiek is writing Action Comics.

Tomorrow I have to go fight many many werewolves so I'm not sure what time I'll get home to post. I hope everyone has a good weekend. I'll try to have more information about Project: Save Nightwing soon.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Cshiana's Top 10 Comic Book Villains

I know I asked people before who their favorite superhero was. I haven't answered because I think it's pretty obvious who my favorite hero is *cough* If you haven't figured it out by now check out my icon. I thought it would be more fun to change things up and discuss favorite villains! So without further ado I give you my top ten villains!

10 Gorilla Grodd

He's a gorilla... with telepathy...
As an anthropology major I had to study primatology. I assure you that the average housecat is more dangerous than a gorilla. And yet the Grodd appearences keep coming. 10th place is my salute to a persistant villain. I still think my cat, Grayson, could beat him up, but hey, whatever works...

9 Two-Face

I like Dent as a villain because as much as he's criminally insane he's also highly intelligent. I wish they'd find a good writer to explore his character a bit more - he's the comic book version of Jekyl and Hyde and I always loved that story.

8 Deathstroke the Terminator

I've always liked Slade, but I have to say, the Judas Contract won me over. Talk about planing in advance! And the execution was beautiful (although Nightwing still beat him). His one failer was using a mentally unstable child in his plans... thus his downfall. I believe the Judas Contract was the high point of his career.

7 Magneto

Yeah, so he's been messed with A LOT over the years, but at heart he's still a great villain. He's the classic example of the bad guy with an honorable goal... he just believes that the ends justify the means. I always enjoyed the friendship between him and Prof X.

6 Composite Superman

A janitor with an unreasonable grudge against Superman and Batman gains the Legion's superpowers when stuck by lightning that also strikes the Legion statues in the Superman museum... and that's not all!! He then dresses up in half a Batman costume and half a Superman costume. You don't find quality like this any more!

5 Dark Phoenix

The original Dark Phoenix Saga created a great villain - and used the whole idea of absolute power corrupts absolutely to do it. To top it all off she had one of the best costumes EVER. I miss you Jean Grey...

4 the Adversary

Fable's has done a wonderful job with creating a villain that is more of an idea than a single person. It's not the adversary himself that causes the suffering of so many - he just started a domino effect that has become one of the best good vs evil stories around.

3 Ras Al Ghul

Ras was an amazing bad guy... because he wasn't really evil. One of my all time favorite stories is Son of the Demon when Batman and Ras work together for the greater good. It really put Ras into perspective. And really, his goals were always for the greater good in the big picture. I can't say I disagree with him all the time.

2 Lex Luthor

The end of ICrisis as well as the Villains United series has served to show how truely evil Lex Luthor is - a true represenative of the darker side of humanity. Lex is an epitamy of super-villainy.

1 Naraku

Rumiko Takahashi has created some amazing villains in her Inuyasha series such as Kikyou and Sesshomaru. Her greatest creation was the villain behind every evil in the main characters' lives - Naraku. He is everything a bad guy should be: Intelligent, manipulative, crafty, callous, and incredibly evil. I have yet to find a better written villain in comic books.

Honorable mentions: Brother Blood (yay evil cult villain!), Joker, and Hitler (who has been the villain in enough comic books to count as a comic book villain)

I think what really got me started on this train of thought was reading S&B Public Enemies when Superman talks to Batman about the "good villains" and Batman says, "Clark... what the hell are "good" villains?" Well Batman, I hope I've provided some answers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

reviews MORE!

First, let me finish up with last week's books (as in the books I recieved last week)

Detective Comics 819

I'm really enjoying reading about Batman being, well, Batman again. No more asshole Batman! It's truely a thing of beauty. I also find myself amused at the reintroduction and subsequent death of washed up super-villians. I mean Orca... wow. I'm so tempted to tell my Aberrant GM that I want a super villian named Orca to be Tsunami's arch-nemesis. I mean... the whole idea of Orca is just so mind-boggeling. This is almost as amusing to me as '77's movie Orca. Either way I'm loving Detective Comics right now. If nothing else ICrisis has brought about the return of Batman and Superman. I also love how closely Batman and Gordon have been working together. Another bonus was more Jason Bard and Mr. Orca! I'm enjoying Jason Bard as a reoccuring character... pants optional.

Action Comics 838

Superman is inspirational again! So cool! I am sad that the Adventures of Clark Kent may be drawing to an end, but I believe that Busiek really knows the character of Clark and Supes, so hopefully it will keep going strong. That said, I loved the train scene. The moves back to a time when Superman was just building as a myth is great... it's helping to reintroduce the character and hopefully will keep him going strong. It's also nice to see his relationship with Lois - they've let their love story grow strong again. Overall, Action Comics is one of my favorite books at the moment, which is suprising as I've never been a Superman fan.

Now, onto the books I got today, of which I will do a more comprehensive review later, but this one can't wait:

Nightwing 120

This book is TRASH. FCBD's Owly is far superior to the current Nightwing run. I didn't think it was possible to put anyone worse than Devin Grayson on this book but I was wrong. Now, not only is the character still being ruined, but the plot is crap. Apparently Jones cannot write worth a damn... not to mention the art.... don't get me wrong, the artist can draw, but his people are incredibly ugly. But seriously, I have rarely read anything published that was as poorly written as this issue - completely disjointed, Dick Grayson apparently throwing his secret identity away, some super-model with powers (I think we can guess what the "female Nightwing" solicitation was about), and to top it all off the lamest excuse for a cliff hanger ever - because NO ONE CARES if Jason Todd dies - in fact I really hope he does. Die Jason die. Am I the only one who's head hurt trying to read this book? I doubt it. Long live Owly.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

reviews 5/16

Mouse Guard 2

Mouse Guard is a great all ages book. It's nice to see a comic that kids would love to read that I can pick up an enjoy as well. This issue focuses on different mice than the first one did. I have to say that I love the fact that the head of the Mouse Guard is named Gwendolyn :) It's fun to see tiny mice involved in a tale of adventure and espionage. I especially enjoyed Conrad's bold stand against the crabs - that was awesome! I eagerly await the nest issue.

Teen Titans 35

So I'm beginning to assume that at least Wonder Girl will be back with the Titans soon enough - if not she really needs her own book as following her character is important after Conner's death. I liked that Kid Devil and Ravanger have a friendship building as it show's Ravanger isn't as bad a person as she likes to come across. I do wish that Johns would tone some of the content down as Titans would be a good young adult book if there were less naked scenes. And maybe I'm a really big dork but I was excited to see the Doom Patrol. This would be a pretty good book if they'd cut down on the soap opera drama a bit and let these kids grow into real heroes - I'm still not sure how I feel about Ravanger on the team, but we'll see.

Supergirl 6

Was anyone else as confused as I was by this book? Why do they have to screw with Supergirl even more? Didn't she just have an epic battle with her evil side a few issues ago? Personally I was terribly confused by this issue and find I really don't care about Kandor's plight. I liked Supergirl the way she was - a warrior with a bright spirit - not some angsty teenager in a tattoo parlour on the verge of seriously hurting someone with her heat vision. If they've created another hero just to turn her into trash I'd rather not read about it anymore. Not to mention... Kandor? Where does Supergirl fit in continuity wise in DC. One second she's heping out Supes, the next minute she's in Kandor with Powergirl having apparently shirked her duties to Metropolis... and she seems like a different person in Legion. ugh.

Outsiders 36

Nightwing is so much more himself in this book, which is always nice to see. I am NOT a fan of Thunder's new look, I thought the 'fro went out of style in the 70s. I enjoyed Nightwing taking on an army by himself, that was awesome :) I'm not sure how I feel about the de-aged Jay Garrik. I'd rather see them make Bart the new generation's speedster as opposed to recycling another golden ager... wasn't Allen Scott enough? But if this is just a mystery plot it could be interesting. Either way this is a book I keep on finding an interest in. Maybe it's because it's my Nightwing fix.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Aberrant Day

As today was our first Aberrant game I spent most of it away from the computer. It was a great beginning game. We ended up with the team name of the Phoenix Corps as our team is an extension of a non-profit organization called the Phoenix Foundation (thanks MacGyver!). Our team consists of Tsunami, Ember, Valor, Whisper, Scourge and Angus Aegis (don't ask).

I can't begin to describe how cool it was. We had a neat first mission (involving saving Scourge) and Valor got to put the bad guy into orbit -literally! All it all it was a fun day.

I hope everyone had a nice Mother's Day! In ancient times mothers were seen as heroes for giving their lives to their children.

I will be posting a few reviews tomorrow and Tuesday. Until then, I leave you all with a question: Who is your favorite superhero and why?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Myth and Comics

"A glorious place, a glorious age, I tell you! A very Neon Renaissance - And the myths that actually touched you at that time - not Hercules, Orpheus, Ulysses and Aeneas - but Superman, Captain Marvel, Batman," - Tom Wolfe, The Electric Koolaid Acid Test

First of all Jeff, in direct response to the interview you posted, I would like to say that I don't think Oeming is very well read on the subject of mythology. Anyone who has done any research or given any thought to the matter of mythology has read Joseph Campbell, and it seemed as if Wagner was the one who knew his work.

Are comic books modern mythology - in a word, yes. At the very heart of the heroes that cut to the quick of our souls there is the resonance of stories that touch the essence of the human experience - stories that tell the human story. This doesn't cover every comic book, obviously, but how many people felt actual sorrow when Barry Allen died - I know I did. If I can cry for the death of a fictional character, that makes them at least a little bit real to me, especially in relation to the part of me that believes in humanity, and in the characters that represent that humantiy.

First, what is mythology? Joeseph Campbell has said that "myths are the clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life", and Bill Moyers has translated that to mean "what we're capable of knowing and experiencing within". In the book of Alex Ross' artwork, Mythology, Campell is also quoted, from his famous book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (which inspired George Lucas' creation of Star Wars) as defining myth as "the secret opening through which the inexaustible energies of the cosmos poor into human cultural manifestation... the very dreams that blister sleep, boil up from the basic, magic ring of myth." One dictionary definition ( defines mythology as "myths collectively; the body of stories associated with a culture or institution or person". So looking at this information, we can link comics to mythology from a myriad of different angles. Superheroes as a manifestation of culture as well as representatives of culture, as guides to our inner stories and beliefs, and dreams of humanity's potential.

Mythology does require belief, but it is more about belief in ourselves, in our spiritual potential, then it is about religion. It's true that some comics are the children of capitalism, but they can be, and many times are, so much more than that.

Let's use Superman as an example. In my junior year of high school I was in an AP English class in which we were meant to work on a research project. I was attempting to prove that comic books were an important part of American culture. During my presentation I wore a Superman t-shirt and asked my class (which consisted of many people who had never read comic books, I know because I asked them) who among them recognized the man on my shirt. EVERYONE raised their hand. I then asked them what he meant to them and had the gratification of hearing most every person call out words like justice, hero, truth, courage, liberty. Even my 11th grade English class recognized a superhero as a cultural icon, a manifestation of human potential. Another good example of Superman as myth can be traced back the The Death of Superman. On one hand, it was a marketing event, the death of a great hero. On the other hand, since when did a fictional character's death make it onto the daily news. I remember feeling as if Superman had really lived in order for it to be so painful when I heard a news anchor say that Superman had died. My sister and I weren't the only ones in school wearing black armbands that week. If belief is a factor in defining mythology then I can introduce many people to whom these characters are something to believe in.
Myths are supposed to be the stories that teach us about the human experience, that help us to understand our own stories and our spiritual and mortal place in our lives. They help us to understand not only what it means to live but what it means to die. Myths help us to discover what "we need to signify, to touch the eternal, to understand mysteriousness, to find out who we are"(Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth). For me superheroes have done all these things, and I know I'm not alone. There is a sense of awe and beauty when I read a book like Adventures of Superman 648, where I get to see the heart of the myth that is Superman. When Lois speaks for humanity when she says "That's the gift of Superman. Even when today seems so uncertain... he makes us believe... in tomorrow."

Isn't that the power of a mythical hero after all? To make us believe in tomorrow. To show us how to make it there, not by doing it for us, but by leading by example and inspiring us to greater things, to fight for us when we've forgotten how to fight for ourselves. Even Superman himself recognizes Batman as a hero of mythic potential. "Then, I look at Batmna and all the tragedy in his life and how, somehow, he presses on. And if he can do his job, I've got nothing to complain about."(SB Public Enemies)

There are so many things I have learned about what it is to be a human being through comic books and superheroes. If that's not mythology, I don't know what is. Every time I've met someone who grew up believing in heroes like Superman and Batman I am amazed to not only find a kindred spirit but a good person. Whenever I lose faith in humanity I turn to comic books. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Nightwing, Flash, and so many more were my other parents. When I look around and see so many kids with Superman shirts or Wonder Woman lunch boxes I know that these stories resonate on a deeper level in our culture. I understand that they are myth.

Moyers: Why are there so many stories of the hero in mythology?
Campbell: Because that's what's worth writing about. (The Power of Myth)

How old is Batman??

So how old is Batman anyway? Superman? Wildcat?

How many excuses can DC (and Marvel for that matter) make for heroes that don't age? How old was Batman when he started his crusade and then when he found a young Dick Grayson who's parents had just died... etc etc

It's not hard to understand why DC and other company's have a hard time pulling in new readers, it seems as if comics have a hard time enacting actual change. I know I wasn't alone in hoping for REAL change as a result of Infinite Crisis, and while I am enjoying the one year later stuff it would have been nice to see something like Dick Grayson as the new Batman. It amazes me that Dick, Wally, Conner (Green Arrow), Cassie and many other young heroes have been allowed to grow up and yet the older heroes seem ageless.

To an extent it makes sense with Superman - he's alien, perhaps he ages slower. Or Wonder Woman, since she's a daughter of the Gods. But I fail to see DCs need to hold onto the old heroes as much as they do. I mean it's not as if they can't have elsewhere stories or whatnot. It's just hard to believe Ollie's still running around playing Robin Hood when not only does he have a growen son, but Roy's all growen up as well. And it's not as if Batman can't be cool without taking an active physical role - just look at the huge fan base behind Batman Beyond. Bruce still kicks butt while allowing his legend to contiue on with the younger generation. Even Kingdom Come worked for the older heroes - except for Dick as Red Robin, that was dumb.

DC will have a harder and harder time introducing younger heroes without aging the older generation. I still listen to classic rock while enjoying newer music at the same time. If comics embrace real change while maintaining the integrity and continuity of the DCU's heroes themselves they would have a much better chance of gaining a younger generation's interest.

It is hard to think of Batman as someone besides Bruce Wayne - but it's even harder to believe that a 60 year old man is still swinging from rooftops.

And I've certaintly had enough of Hal Jordan - I really liked having Kyle around as Earth's GL. The Flash seems to be the only comic that consistently changes out the man behind the mask.

The younger generation can be just as intersting as the old - I think Wally West proved this. I enjoyed seeing him grow up, from young Kid Flash to a member of the Titans, to eventually taking over for Barry, and now as a father. Yes, at times we miss Barry - but Barry had a good run and his legend lives on.

Everything changes - it's how they grow into something new.