Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Does This Comic Go With My Eyes

I'm sure many of us have experienced the glee of finding people who like the same things we do. It's an almost instant sense of belonging, but how many of us also get the belated sense of isolation? The first time I walked into a comic shop with my brother, every guy in the place turned around and looked at me. Initially, I thought it was because I was so young, I was eight or nine at he time. Now that I'm older and return to that and other shops, I think it was because I'm a chick. I come to this conclusion, because there aren't that many women comic fans; there aren't that many strong female characters to draw women in; and even outsiders treat other people like outsiders.

I like to think of comic shops are pockets of sanctuary, a place where other comic fans congregate to discuss this niche thing we dig. From going to these shops, though, I've never seen a lot of women. When I have seen them, they've been there with their boyfriend or, like me, their brother. So , when I hear guys say," isn't it nice that your (so and so male consort) brought you along, I understand it, but it still pisses me off. Most of these guys have been fans for years, they've had to have seen a girl come in from time to time, the novelty should have worn off. As to why there aren't that many women fans, I'm not quite sure. I think part of the reason is those looks we get. It takes a confident person to go back to a place, on regular basis, where they don't feel welcome.

Then there's the aspect of not having a lot of strong female characters. Some women can't read a comic unless there's a strong women in it, because they need a women to identify with. Superhero comics, and lets face it, that's the most talked about, advertised, and published genre of comic out there, are guilty of not having these characters in them. A lot of them are basically beat'em ups with cheesecake characters who aren't that aesthetically appealing to women. That's not to say these comics don't contain great story lines with complex, interesting characters.

I don't always notice a character's gender when reading a story, I look at their characteristics and how they're written, and it's those things that keep me coming back. Two instances of this are Green Lantern and Immortal Iron Fist. I've been a fan of Iron Fist since he was teamed up with Power Man. When Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction reintroduced him, I rediscovered my love and enthusiasm for him. This often forgotten character has been made more interesting then I remember. He's strong of will and moral fortitude, but he's also human with human failings and the writers aren't afraid to have him get beaten up or lose. Most of the characters are men with a few exceptions. Green Lantern is a series I've been following for a little over a year. Hal Jordan has a troubled past, but he's been given a chance at redemption, something I think is appealing no matter what the character's gender. He, too, is basically human with a ring that gives him powers, but those powers aren't god-like. The series gives a great mix of action and character development that keeps me anxiously awaiting my monthly DCBS shipment.

Finally there's the fact that we, as a society, like to gather into smaller and smaller groups. We divide ourselves by race, or gender, or age or even interests. I think we get a stronger sense of belonging when these groups are smaller and more personal. As comic fans, we see someone who can talk about the medium and we see a fellow outsider, someone who doesn't fit in with everyone else. Somehow, that other person being female flips some internal switch that says," this can't be a part of my group, because it violates my gender division rule." Or maybe these guys feel like they need their boys only club, that this is their last place they can call their own. To that I say, get the fuck over it! Having female comic fans isn't going to topple this world you've made for yourselves. We aren't trying to take over or dictate what your comics should be about, we just want to be treated like human-geeky-beings.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fangirl Theater

The inspiration for making this blog in the first place is from this video.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fangirl Theater

While playing around on the internet, I came upon a web site that lets you do your own simple animations. The site does most of the work for you, while you just have to pick out the one to two characters you like, pick the camera angles (or let the site do it for you) and fill in your own dialog. Over the coming days and weeks I will be posting what I came up with here with the themes reminiscent of what this blog is about, geek stuff. Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Immortal Iron Fist 24

Did you ever use to watch Kung Fu Theater on Saturday afternoons after all the cartoons ended? My brother and I would pretend to be the guys we’d just seen, and we’d try to recreate the most memorable scenes, fake punches and kicks all the while. Since Iron Fist’s re-launch, it’s felt like those Saturdays all over again. From fast paced, butt kicking action, to in depth character development, this series keeps being a much anticipated read each month.

In this issue, we’re told the story of Li Park, a pacifist who would rather day dream about dragons and monsters then focus on his training. But when a plague hits K’un-Lun, Li’s the only person well enough to face the dragon Shou-Lao. By relying on his vivid imagination, he’s able to find the strength to prevail. Next, Li must use his newly acquired Iron Fist power to help people on Earth, who in this case, happen to be villagers in northern China in 730AD. At first he tries to use his imagination to help them, since it worked with the dragon, and it does work, for a time. He soon discovers that he has no choice but to fight. Now that he has this new frame of reference, Li is able to come up with an actual plan to help both the people of Earth and those in K’un-Lun.

I’ve come to expect a break in the action on this title, and while with other series, it would normally irritate the fuck out of me, these forays into past Iron Fist stories have been really well done. One of the main things I think Iron Fist has lacked is real character development. For too long he was just this cookie cutter martial arts character and not an actual person. By going into his past, we see that in a lot of ways he is a culmination of these past characters.

The continued use of different artists and styles during flash backs helps solidify the change in time and mood. Kano’s almost wood block looking art style compliments the time period he’s trying to recreate very well. The art on this title has been nothing but perfect from the get go. I fail to see the problems others have had with Foreman’s art duties. He’s actually gotten better in my opinion, especially with this arc in the Eighth Kingdom. The grittiness and oblique angles, add to the sense of pain and punishment the immortal weapons have to endure.

I like what’s being set up in coming issues. I’m wondering what Li has planned when he faces Danny. Could he be reverting to his imagination or has he had enough time to really set up everything? How did he end up in the Eighth Kingdom? Was he punished for bringing the villagers to K’un-Lun or was it something else? I can’t wait to find out.

Story 4/5

Art 5/5

Issue 9/10

Monday, April 20, 2009

Web site I'd like you guys to check out

A group of my friends have started a web site and they've kindly asked me to join in on the madness. It took me about a second to agree, so in the very near future you can get my thoughts there. I'll still have my monthly reviews here, I'll just be there too.

Here's the web site description for you:

Project Foxhole is a website devoted to entertainment, in all its many forms. We seek to entertain you, and we seek to entertain ourselves.

Entertainment, of course, falls into pop culture and media. If there’s something to be said about comics, videogames, novels, TV, movies, pornography, comedy, or that thing that guy did that one day — we will say it. And we’ll say it with style

We’re here to celebrate the people who create the culture: the writers and artists, the lovers and haters, the opinion-slingers and fact-checkers.

Our community, which can be found through the Forums link, gives you a demilitarized zone in which you’re welcome to talk about what you want, within the confines of common human decency, and sometimes, just outside that. We’re all friends here; feel free to join in, grab a gun and shoot your mouth off.

We thank you for viewing. Kick your feet up, grab something to drink, something to eat. Browse. Enjoy yourself. Tell us what you think.

But most importantly: geek out. We all are. And we love every minute of it. So should you.

On behalf of everyone here in the trenches, on the frontline — welcome to Project Foxhole.

Hope you'll join in on the fun. Here's to new prospects and some fun for good measure.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mighty Avengers, New Avengers and Batman Review (Possible spoilers)

Mighty Avengers 22
  I'm not sure how I'm liking Slott's run on Mighty. It's good to see Wanda back, I haven't seen her since Clint hunted her down some issues ago. As for the rest of the characters, I haven't been following any of them in any other respective title and I'm not sure I would.

  The dialog is solid and I like the pacing, but these characters just aren't doing it for me. I like that Slott's trying to give Pym a shot at being a leader. Pym's got to start over, not only as a hero because his face was one of the faces of the Secret Invasion, but also in as a person in response to Janet's death. US Agent is kind of a douche, who doesn't seem especially smart. How many people would attack not only Herc, but Hulk, as soon as they see them, US Agent would. And then have the nerve to try and tell other people what to do.
  I'm really liking the art from Pham and the coloring is spot on. I especially liked the scenes in the cave below Wundegore, because the magical gollums really looked like they were glowing in the dark.

  I'll wait for the arc to end before I decide whether I'm going to keep it on my pull list or wait for the trades.

New Avengers 50

  Landmark issues can be a flash back extravaganza; or a "what have we learned from every thing we've been through" retrospection; or a bunch of action sequences and a look towards the future. This issue was a mix of all of the above. I was wondering which Avengers title, New or Mighty, would have a reaction to Osborn's hand picked group and I'm glad Bendis saved it for New Avengers. Since the start of the multi-avengers titles, New Avengers has had the most well developed characters. I've gotten to the point that I have clear ideal of how they will react to things. Hearing the internal dialog for each of them was pretty damn funny. I especially liked Mockingbird's, a character I'm so glad to have back in the Marvel U, and Iron Fist's. Hearing a bit of what was going on in The Hood's and his crew's minds would have been great, but that might have given to much away.

  As for the story, I was as surprised as Luke's team to see The Hood and his crew and not the Dark Avengers show up. Osborn my be a sociopath, but he's no idiot. He can't afford to look bad in public, because if there's one thing we learned from Civil War and Secret Invasion, it's that public opinion can make or break you. This helps alleviate some fears I had for whether Osborn could sustain this "Dark Reign" for a decent amount of time.  So far, it looks like he has a clear ideal of what he wants to do.

  The art was pretty hit or miss. I'm trying to get use to Tan's art. At its best it flows well, but at its worst it reminds me of bad 90's art with weird character posses and cumbersome action sequences. I liked how specific artists worked on pages for characters they had worked on in the past. Gaydos's Jessica Jones page made me long for more Alias; Steve McNiven's page was fantastic, like all of his art; and Mike Perkins's Cap page is what I think of when I think of a Captain America comic now. The only draw back of these pages was Greg Horn's attempt at interiors. While he does a great job on various covers, this just fell flat.

 Overall, not a bad issue. I'm glad the spotlight issues ran throught the Secret Invasion arc are finally over. This appears to be setting the stage to go back to the team oriented stories that made the start of the series so good.

Batman 686

  I haven't read a Batman comic since I picked up both of the Hush trades. To be honest, the only reason I decided to pick this up was because Neil Gaimen and Andy Kubert were working on it. I just recently read all of the Sandman trades and I'm in love with Gaiman's writing and I've been a fan of Andy Kubert since his work on Origin. So, when I read in Previews that they were doing a two part Batman story, it was all I needed to know to buy it.

  I love the layers Gaiman adds to his stories. If you're a follower of a comic he's on, he adds little nods to you, like the reappearance of a background character out of nowhere; but if you're jumping on a series with that particular issue, he welcomes you and doesn't brow beat you for not being there from the beginning. Right  from the start, you know Selena is Catwoman from all the cats; Two-face from the look of the car he shows up in and how he decides to tip the guy to watch his car; and Joker's so iconic, you just know it's him by seeing him.

  As the story opens, we notice familiar characters but they're off somehow. From 40's era Catwoman to the animated versions of Harley Quinn and the Joker, you begin to wonder, which Batman are we mourning here? It reminded me a lot of the funeral for Dream in Sandman. I can't wait to read the end and find out who the female character is with Batman in the afterlife, or where ever he's at.

 Kubert's art is spot on. He moves so smoothly from genre to genre with each character rendition. I'm not sure there are many other artists who could do such a seamles
s job.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Secret Invasion and Tie-Ins

In the past I haven’t been a big fan of the big company event books. It’s not that I’m one of those people who automatically hates them, I’ve just wary of having to buy a bunch of titles I wouldn’t normally buy just to get the complete story. If I don’t like the character, the writing or the artwork, I’m not going to buy the title, and slapping an event logo on it isn’t going to change that. That being said, I’m glad Marvel’s done little minis for the events. I first noticed it with House of M, there was the minis for Spiderman, Avengers, X-Men and a couple of others. I really liked being able to jump on board with any of them and not have to wade through a ton on continuity to try to figure out what was going on. I think this change is good and I’m sure it’s a boost to trade sales, because instead of just putting out one trade, there’s one for each of the tie-ins.

Another thing I haven’t liked about the events is tardiness. If you want to put out something, make sure it’s on time for fuck’s sake. The longer I have to wait to get the next part of a story the less I’m going to remember and the less interested I’m going to be in it. Sure I can dig out the old issues and get caught up, but then it loses the tension and anticipation of what comes next. And in an industry that built on the ideal of “until next time dear reader,” it’s irritating. I think Civil War really suffered because of tardiness, and that’s a shame since I really liked that series. Luckily, Secret War didn’t have as much of a tardiness problem, thought there was a little bit.

Over all, Secret Invasion was pretty damn good. With the things that went down in Civil War, there was bound to be a shit storm to deal with. I figured it would be more heroes versus heroes, but when I was reading buildup stories in New Avengers and Mighty Avengers, there was definitely the hint that there was something going on in the background. I liked seeing the heroes get their asses beat for a while and you didn’t know if they would be able to pull off a victory. They had been so beaten down by each other and to have people show up that you thought were dead had to be not only a physical blow to many, but had to fuck some people up mentally pretty bad.

There were a lot of times when I had no idea who was a Skrull and who wasn’t and that was really refreshing. I especially like how some of the Skrulls completely take on the characteristics of the heroes they were made to replace and side with humanity. Bendis seemed to pull from his past crime/suspense experience which fit perfectly here.

I’m not completely in love with the series though. As much I like Bendis’s writing, it does seem a little shitty to basically tell past writers that hey, you know those characters you were writing about, yeah that was a Skrull. I’m not sure if it’s a conscience thing or just a means to get to what he wants to write, but it irritates me a bit. I still have a hard time getting use to Yu’s art. There’s way to much excess outlining of the characters causing it to look too busy and making fighting scenes distracting as fuck.

As far as the tie-in series, I’ve only been reading Frontline, Thor and X-Men. Of those, I have to say I love Frontline. It’s great to get to see how things affect normal people in the Marvel U. Brian Reed has come a long way from his start at co-writing the Ultimate Spiderman video game. He handles Ben Urich well and seems like a natural fit. Ben is a great character and having him as the voice of something like this is logical. At the end of the mini, we see him take Osborn to task when it was obvious no one else was going to. I’m betting we’ll see more of Ben in Dark Reign. The art by Marco Castello really made the series. The gritty, non-polished, simple lines looked great for the normal people and made it easier to empathize with them. And unlike with Yu, simple lines for fight scenes are essential.

The X-Men tie-in is defiantly going to have ramifications for the X-Universe. Since the events of House of M and recently Divided We Stand, we’ve seen more of a hard-line response to threats to mutants. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to see something like this. I knew that with Professor X in the picture, this wasn’t going to happen, but when you’re hated for being different and the government has even thought about passing legislation about you, stop standing there and taking shit. As soon as there was talk of the Skrulls having constantly changing genetics, I figured there was the possibility of the Legacy Virus coming into play. We’ll see how mutants and non-mutants will react to the use of this biological weapon.