Tag Archives: DC Comics

Bad Romance: Poll-What is the Most Toxic Relationship in Comics?

7 Apr

With so much history behind them, comic book couples are bound to have some dark chapters, but these relationships stand out as uniquely detrimental for one or more parties involved. So, who do you think wins the title of the most toxic relationship in comics?

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Hank Pym (Ant Man, Giant Man, etc) & Janet Van Dyne (Wasp)

“Dammit Janet”

hank_pym_slapHank Pym has never been a model partner. He has kidnapped, beaten, and attempted to murder poor Janet over the years. While their drama makes for a compelling read, no good can come from this pair being together.

Hank has suffered from a variety of mental illnesses, some prompted by his exposure to unsafe levels of chemicals, some generated from his deep-rooted Napoleon complex. Whenever he is feeling down, Janet makes a perfect scape goat.

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Bruce Wayne (Batman) & Talia al Ghul

“She’s a Maniac”

deaddamianNo one has ever accused Bruce Wayne of making constructive decisions, but taking the daughter of one of his (many) mortal enemies as a lover may have be one for the books. Talia genetically engineered a son, Damian, by combining her own DNA with Bruce’s. As time past, she systematically abused the boy as part of his assassin’s training. After he came to live with Bruce, and formed a relationship with his father, Talia returned to kill the boy, robbing Bruce of the son he had come to know and love.

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Dinah Lance (Black Canary) & Green Arrow (Oliver Queen)

“She’s a Good-Hearted Woman in Love with a Good-Timin’ Man”


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So, Dinah and Ollie have been on-again, off-again for the better part their existence. Oliver Queen was a bit of serial philanderer, which never bodes well for a couple. Dinah also had great misgivings about the ethical ramifications of beginning the ‘normal’ life she so wished to have with Oliver. She believed that bringing children into the world was irresponsible for two people who led such dangerous lives. Oliver died tragically in a battle over Metropolis, but was later resurrected. The pair reunited shortly, but a combination of jealousy and apprehension in regard to the new young female ward in Oliver’s care caused her to break things off again. The two reunite and marry, at a ceremony that is (of course) interrupted by super villans. During the course of their marriage Oliver continually undermines Dinah professionally, and often uses his own judgment to dole out justice. Eventually his subterfuge goes too far, and Dinah dissolves the marriage, while Oliver sits in jail for murdering a supervillan.

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Mary Jane Watson & Peter Parker (Spiderman) … & Gwen Stacey

“Keep On Lovin’ You”

gwenmjspiderPeter loved Gwen Stacey with all his heart, until that one time he accidentally broke her neck while he was trying to save her life. I mean we have all been there, right? So how will he move on? Enter spunky, gorgeous, driven Mary Jane Watson. It should be a happy ending, but alas, Peter is a bit of a workaholic. He has great responsibilities to attend to after all. Mary Jane never fully moves out of the shadow of Gwen Stacey’s memory. Peter’s grief and guilt only exasperate the problem. Oh, and eventually he sells his marriage to Mary Jane to the devil (Mephisto) in return for Aunt May’s resurrection from the dead.

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Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) & Vision

“Just My Imagination”

scarletvisionShe is the child of Magneto, and he is the brain-child of Ultron, the pair seem wired for failure out of the gate. There’s another fact that foreshadows an ill-fated romance: Vision is an android (read robot). Initially the couple was unable to have children (because Vision is not human) but eventually Wanda acquires the psychic energy required to become pregnant. She gives birth to twin boys, William and Thomas.

Some time later, Vision tries to take over the world. This goes about as well as one would expect. He is eventually kidnapped and dismantled. When he was reassembled, his personality was severely changed, and things became strained. At the time of his destruction the twins were reintegrated to the soul of Mephisto and cease to exist. Wanda then becomes a bit unhinged herself.

Her mental breakdown eventually resulted in the manifestation of chaos magic powers, that cannot be controlled. She projected a world in which Vision was back to his old self and the boys were still young and in need of her mothering. She eventually used those powers to wipe out mutant powers across the globe leaving only a handful able to access their powers.

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Carol Ferris (Star Sapphire) & Hal Jordan (Green Lantern)

“Fly Me to the Moon”

halcarolIt’s a tale as old as time. Boy meets girl; boy gets ring becomes super powerful; girl gets gem and does the same; alien race hypnotizes girl into trying to kill boy because they want her as their queen… You know, just the standard romance stuff.

Carol and Hal start out as a forbidden romance. She is the heiress to the company that employs him as a test pilot. However, when cosmic forces get involved, things get much more complicated. Hal became a Green Lantern.  Upon inheriting Ferris Aircraft from her father, an alien race, the Zamarons, chose Carol as their queen. They gave her a powerful gem which gave her extraordinary abilities, and she became Star Sapphire. Initially Star Sapphire was reluctant to leave Earth because of her love for Hal. The Zamarons then hypnotized her to believe that Hal was an enemy. Over the years a pattern emerged, Start Sapphire and Green Lantern would battle, Hal would win and then fix Carol.After getting rid of the Star Sapphire identity seemingly for good, Carol began a relationship with a male component of her own personality called, Predator. Throughout the series Carol tries to deal with the power associated with the Star Sapphire aspect of her identity, and grapples with her feelings for Hal. The two can never seem to get their footing.

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Betty Ross (Red She-Hulk) & Bruce Banner (Hulk)

“Monster Mash”

redhulkhulkBruce Banner was bombarded with Gamma rays, and turns into a giant green monster when he gets angry. This does not look promising for his love interest. Betty is the daughter of “Thunderbolt” Ross, and she loved Bruce before he had anger management issues. Aside from the obvious “getting caught in the crossfire” problems, Betty eventually became ill with radiation poisoning from prolonged exposure to Bruce’s Gamma rays. When he tried to perform a blood transfusion using his own blood, the Gamma particles in his blood killed her.

We are talking comics here, so of course Betty is not really dead. She reemerges as the Red She-Hulk. When Betty reappeared in the civilian world she refused to be reunited with Bruce.

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Emma Frost & Scott Summers (Cyclops)

“Grey Cloudy Lies”

scottemmaThis is another love triangle, or quadrangle, or other geometric figure yet unknown to us used by soap opera writers to construct their stories. Scott and Jean Grey were written for one another. Since the earliest days of the X-men, the two have been a steady center of romantic focus. When Jean exits, to go do her whole Phoenix thing, Emma enters beginning a telepathic affair with Scott. When Jean returns, Emma is reluctant to forfeit the bond she feels with Scott. She poses as Jean to confuse him, and continues to attempt engage him telepathically. Exit Jean again, and Emma and Scott are back on. Emma will never live up to Jean for Scott, despite whatever telepathic messages she sends from beyond the grave that the couple is making out on top of (Yes, really). She and Scott are constantly haunted by the memory of Jean Grey.

hawkeyeKate Bishop (Hawkeye) & Clint Barton (Hawkeye)

“I Hate Myself For Lovin’ You”

kateclintThe tension between these two is so thick you could cut it with a knife. They obviously have feelings for one another, but are too stubborn to let on. While Kate occasionally reminds Clint of the impropriety of his tendency to treat her like a romantic partner, she is guilty of the same thing. They rely on each other in real ways, and seem to feel a genuine respect for one another, but the fact remains that Clint is an indiscriminate lover who cannot take anything seriously. He cares deeply for Kate, but cannot see what is right in front of him.

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Anna Marie (Rogue) & Remy LeBeau (Gambit)

“Killing Me Softly”

Gambit5touchingAside from the fact that the couple cannot touch because it would result in Remy’s death, well no, that’s really it. Rogue’s powers would harm Remy in unimaginable should their skin come into contact. This equals endless frustration. For a brief time, when they are both powerless, the couple lives a happy, normal life. However when they regain their powers, the loss of physical contact proves very stressful for the pair. Oh, and Gambit becomes one of the four horseman of the apocalypse (Death) and tries to kill Rogue a few times.

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New Girls in Town: Top 10 Toughest New Female Characters in Comics

16 Mar

I think a case can be made for any of these characters. Each one is tough, and thoroughly unique. Let’s take it from the top shall we? I wanted to look at characters with relatively short histories, so Barbara Gordon and Kate Bishop will not be making appearances on this list. This is strictly for the next generation of comic heroines. So without further ado, let’s talk about the top-10 toughest new girls in comics.

 

alanaAlana – Saga

It was hard to choose just one woman to represent the cast of Saga from Image Comics by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. The Stalk, Izabel, Gwendolyn, Klara, and even Lying Cat could have been on this list. I ultimately decided on Alana because she faces off with bad guys, pilots a space ship, and saves the love of her life with a newborn in tow. Despite her extreme circumstances she manages to be a pretty great mom to Hazel. She doesn’t allow herself to be defined by her maternal role, but she takes it very seriously.

 

 

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Izzy Dare/Smasher – The Avengers

Isabel “Izzy” Dare, or Smasher, gets her own issue in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers from Marvel Comics (Avengers #5). We learn that this incarnation of the hero is a small-town girl from Iowa. She is a brilliant science student who returns from her studies to help her father take care of the family farm and spend time with her ailing grandfather, Dan Dare (who had quite a few adventures of his own back in the day). After finding a pair of cybernetic goggles in a corn field she becomes an intergalactic defender, Smasher. She saves the world, rises through the ranks, and becomes an Avenger to boot. She also takes her responsibilities to her loved ones very seriously. She juggles superpowers and deep familial love quite well.

 

Harper_RowHarper Row – Batman

In Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo for DC Comics we find a host of powerful characters, but Harper has captured our imaginations, well mine at least. She is a headstrong, brave, and intelligent young woman who believes in Batman’s power as a symbol of hope and does everything in her power to make sure he always makes it out of his conflicts alive. She recognizes his mortality and her ability to help him. Despite his warnings to stay away, she knows that she is an invaluable ally to the Caped Crusader, and continues to provide assistance. In addition to her complex relationship with Batman, she serves as a mother figure for her little brother, Cullen, and would stop at nothing to defend him. She is a dynamic new defender of Gotham.

Mara – Maramara

I think the reason that I am so impressed with the title character from the Image Comics series, Mara, by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle, & Jordie Bellaire is due to the surprise I experienced while reading about her. She is a seventeen-year-old superstar. She has access to unlimited resources, and fame enough to make a Kardashian feel like a nobody. She is beautiful, talented, wealthy, and adored. Yet she instead of being the primadonna one might expect; she is poised and unyieldingly brave. When she begins to manifest super-human abilities, she boldly confronts the public. She refuses to be terrorized into compromising her character.

 

hawkeye8Cherry/Penny – Hawkeye

I love a girl that keeps the men in her life on their toes. This redheaded force of nature from Fraction & Aja in Hawkeye from Marvel Comics does just that. She uses her sexuality to charm Clint Barton into taking part in her schemes. She is unafraid to take on a challenge or to stack the deck in her favor. She may not be the most independent woman in the world, but she does not shy away from danger. She’s a nice throwback to the comic book bad girls of days gone by.

 

 

 

pearlPearl Jones – American Vampire

From the Vertigo Comic series American Vampire by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, comes this impossibly strong character. What I love about Pearl is that she starts out a victim, but refuses to remain one. Her evolution over the course of the series has been a journey of self acceptance, growth, and empowerment. The Pearl we know today is a far cry from the Hollywood hopeful taken advantage of in the beginning of this series. She has become intensely powerful force; knowing her vulnerabilities and her history makes her inspiring and endearing.

 

 

olivechewOlive Chu – Chew

The daughter of Tony Chu, the central character in Chew from Image Comics by John Layman and Rob Guillory, has recently started coming into her own. Olive was previously little more than an angst-ridden teen (albeit an incredibly lovable one). In recent issues under the tutelage of Mason Savoy, she has begun to hone her abilities and learn new skills that promise to give her a new role in this one-of-a-kind series.

 

 

 

tamaradevouxTamara Devoux/Captain Universe – The Avengers

So, she has the power of the entire universe coursing through her. Seems tough to me. Jonathan Hickman gives us another example of a strong and complex female character from The Avengers from Marvel Comics. Despite the awful things that happened to her before becoming the host for universal power, Tamara has already saved the world once in this new role.

fatalejoJospehine – Fatale

In the series Fatale from Image Comics by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips we are introduced to the mysterious and powerful character, Jo. She can bend any man alive to her will. Jo also seems to be immortal or at least ageless. She has a unique connection to supernatural forces, and a survival instinct that makes her a true fighter. She takes on physical challenges and devastating circumstances at every turn. Her resilience is truly remarkable.

 

 

 

Eva_Bell  Eva Bell – All New X-men Uncanny X-men 

Brian Michael Bendis’ contributions to Marvel’s X-men universe already shine in this new character. Eva can freeze time. As a young mutant, she is unsure of herself and her powers, but with each issue she appears in she grows more confident and bettered respected by the members of her team. She is a truly powerful new mutant.

 

I will be the first to admit this last is anything but complete. Write in and tell me who should have been listed that I missed, or let me know if you think there is a clear number one on the list. Be sure to vote. I will repost this list in the order that you vote in.

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Swamp Thing’s Abigail Arcane as a 21st Century Persephone

14 Mar

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In Swamp Thing #18 by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette, Abigail Arcane evolves to become the Avatar of Death. An avatar is defined as a deity in bodily form on the earth. Through her acceptance of this role, she becomes one of the most dynamic and courageous women in comic history. I would like to take a moment to compare Abigail to another Queen of the Underworld, Persephone. Fair warning, if you’re not caught up on Snyder’s complete run, this contains *spoilers.*

The mythological tale surrounding Persephone’s coronation as Queen of the Underworld begins with her abduction. As the daughter of Zues and Demeter (goddess of the harvest) she spent the early part of her life surrounded by nature. One day, she was alone in a field when the earth cleaved and Hades (god of the underworld, and brother of her father) appeared in a fiery chariot. He then grabbed the maiden goddess and returned to the Underworld.

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carryLet’s look at the parallels so far. Abigail was born into a lineage connected with the rot, while she is not the daughter of the king of the gods, her family tree does seem a deciding factor in regard to the role she will play in the future.

Her uncle, Anton, is similar to Hades. He is connected with death, and serves as her connection to it as well. He also takes her against her will to be his queen early in this series It seems the same thing might have happened when she was younger, to a lesser degree.

Now back to our story. During Persephone’s time in the underworld, her mother, Demeter, is heartbroken. She wanders the earth looking for her daughter, during this time no crops grew, famine and hunger were widespread and the crops rotted in the field. Demeter refused to let plants grow while Persephone was missing.

This might be a stretch, but the takeover of the rot after Abigail’s death might have ties to this part of the myth. Here’s where things start getting tricky, lets talk seeds.

pomWhile Persephone is in the underworld with Hades, she eats a handfull of pomegranate seeds. Zeus commands Hades to set her free, so that her mother, Demeter, will allow the fields to bear crops and the people of earth will not starve. Hades agrees, and Persephone is released. When her mother realizes that she has consumed the food of the underworld, she is heartbroken. By eating the food of the dead, Persephone unwittingly bound herself to the underworld. Because of this she must return to the underworld for a few months (sometimes three sometimes six depending on the text) each year to reign at Hades’ side

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Now you might say I am comparing apples to oranges (or pomegranates to orchids) but do you recall one Dr. Alec Holland sneaking something into Abbie’s peaches? He slipped her a few orchid seeds before she was transformed to become the Queen of the Rot by Anton Arcane and his minions. In this case, the seeds became an agent of life, growth, and resurrection. The seeds help pull Abigail back from the darkness. They still act as the force negotiating her ties to life and death. We begin to see a schism in Snyder’s work and the mythic text here. It’s no longer a perfect mirror, but an evolution of this story that has stood the test of time.

While Persephone served her time in the Land of the Dead, her mother mourned. During this time there was no growth on the land. The winter months were a time of rot on the earth. This myth serves to explain the seasonal changes that ancient humans experienced. While the similarities are obvious the contrasts between Persephone and Abigail make a beautiful comment on power and agency.

Abigail_Arcane_010 (1)Firstly Abigail is not a queen, defined as the wife or widow of a king; she is an avatar, a god made flesh. She briefly bore the title of queen, which was forced upon her against her will. She was a beastly terror, no part of her personality or essence remained. Though she retained power, her consciousness was all but absent.

This is a powerful statement, as the queen, an extension of the king; her power could only serve as an extension of his. All of the qualities that made her remarkable disappeared. Persephone was a queen, who indeed retained little agency. Both the decision to take on the position, and the actual ruling of the Land of the Dead were out of her hands. It was a position of submission, even as a goddess she was unable to escape her fate or change her circumstances.

Abigail’s episode as Queen of the Rot much more closely resembles the Persephone myth. In her second encounter with Anton she turns the tables and becomes something completely new.

comeAbigail goes looking for Anton. Because of her love for Alec, and her commitment to balance in the world. She knows that he is evil, and that he must be stopped at all cost. Unlike Persephone she is not captured while looking the other way. She goes pursues her destiny, despite her trepidation, because she believes it is the right thing to do.

headThis confrontation costs her her life. Through the intervention the Parliament of Decay, Alec is able to intervene and give her a second chance at defeating her uncle.

abby-and-alecAlso, Abigail is given the opportunity to willingly accept her role as avatar, while Persephone was never given the same chance as Hades’ queen. It seems that both Abigail and Alec were destined for the roles that they play as avatars and for one another. Ultimately it is their choice to accept these roles that gives them their power.

Another interesting feature of Snyder’s version of this story is the inversion of traditional gender associations. Swamp Thing, Alec Holland represents the traditionally feminine aspects of nature, the life-giving forces. Conversely, Abigail Arcane is associated with death and destruction, extensions of the traditionally masculine pursuits of war and nation-building, and also the binary opposite of feminine life-bringing traditions.

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Abigail and Alec shed their human bodies, becoming fully identified with life and death. The love that sustained them and gave them the strength to become what they have become loses any chance for unity, as they now represent one another’s destruction. Where life exist, death cannot be; and where there is death, life stops. They have become a paradox, both depending on one another and repelling each other by their very nature.

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While Persephone is a victim, Abigail is triumphant. She accepts her fate, ask for her power and ultimate emerges as the victor. Persephone’s tragedy is her powerlessness. Abigail’s tragedy is that of a Capulet without a dagger. She cannot uncross the stars. For a pair like this, that could be a fate worse than death.

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Review Swamp Thing #18

8 Mar

comics-swamp-thing-18Swamp Thing #18
DC Comics

Scott Snyder – writer
Yanick Paquette – artist
Colors – Nathan Fairbairn
Letters – Travis Lanham

Snyder and Paquette’s final issue gives us the bittersweet ending we were all hoping for. Swamp Thing #18 proves that when these two work together, it is magic.

Alec Holland and The Parliament of Decay bend space and time to allow Abigail to take her place as the avatar of death. This issue follows the climatic end of that quest. The final battle with Anton Arcane, who must be stripped of the mantle before Abigail can take it up, is the kind of outstanding action that sustained this series success in the beginning of this run. Full of tenderness, Snyder’s star-crossed lovers are given the treatment they so richly deserve. It is a satisfying conclusion to this eighteen issue run.

Abigail Arcane is given a chance to shine in this issue. Her character grows, as she becomes a powerful force to be reckoned with. The redemptive tone of issue #18 reveals Abigail to be strong and courageous to an even greater extent than we have seen preceding this point. She is capable of immense sacrifice and bravery. In addition to Snyder’s direction of Abigail’s story, Paquette quite literally paints her in a new light as well.  His character design in regard to Abigail is truly inspired, and singularly beautiful.

Snyder’s swansong is a near perfect ending to his epic saga; equally strong is the work of Paquette. Deftly personifying both death and rebirth, Paquette’s expressive artwork reaches new levels of intensity. Organic layouts and comprehensive aesthetic environments bring life to the story. Nostalgic symbols like orchids fill empty space, reminding us of all that Alec and Abbey have been through.

The culmination of this year-and-a-half long run brings the skills that Paquette and Snyder have shown over time to a new level of perfection. Swamp Thing #18 is full of high-quality action, strong character development, and emotional depth. In other words, it brings together the best parts of what we have come to expect from this incredible team.

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Damian Wayne: Where the Hell was Child Protective Services?

3 Mar

So Batman Inc, #8 ripped my heart out.

*Spoiler Alert* – just so we are clear if you are waiting for the trade or your shop’s shipment got damaged, or you had 50 books to get through this week, and you don’t want to know what happened in this issue, stop here. I might also suggest that you step away from the internet, purchase earplugs and blinders, and find an underground bunker to hide in… because everyone is talking about this.

First of all let’s talk about this cover.

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To the left of Damian’s face is a drawing showing the facial proportions for a baby, to his right is a drawing showing a child’s facial proportions. Is is just me, or does the one on the left look a whole lot more like him? When I look at this cover, it reminds me of a baby in a Christening gown.

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So from the start, contents of this issue seem a little perverse. Damian Wayne looks like an infant with the phrase “R.I.P.” emblazoned boldly under him. So, babies, death, sounds like a good time right? Let’s read on.

Damian comes to the aid of his adult counterparts. While his father, Bruce Wayne (as Batman) is locked away in a safe underwater. Of course Damian’s mother, Talia Al Ghul,  is busy as well; having put his father in the aforementioned safe, she has a responsibility as a Batman villain to give a long speech full of taunts and bravado. So obviously, they are occupied. He has escaped Alfred’s watchful eye, and Tim & Dick have no choice but to fight alongside Damian as all hell breaks loose.

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There are an alarming number of adults who miss the chance to intervene and save Damian, from his grizzly fate. Talia, his mother, has abandoned him. Bruce, his father is caught up in his own conflicts. Alfred, his caretaker, has somehow lost track of him. Dick, his stepbrother, may be allowing him to behave so recklessly because of some sort of nostalgia for his own Robin days. Tim seems too concerned about his interpersonal conflicts with Damian to appreciate the danger he might be in.

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I think all of these people would face legal action if Damian’s case was  brought into a court of law.

ImageFirst of all there is Talia al Ghul

She is the genetic mother of Damian Wayne, she and Bruce have a somewhat tumultuous past…

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Naturally, she decides to genetically engineer a child that combines her DNA with that of Bruce Wayne. I mean… logically, right? But she doesn’t impregnate herself, she incubates Damian in a tank that looks like it once housed Zordon from The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. So far, Talia has managed to sleep with Batman, have his baby, and not get a single stretch mark or give up alcohol for nine months. This is enough to make me kind of hate her.

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So, since she is going to all this trouble, surely she will be an excellent mother, spend all her time doting on little Damian and trying in every way to make his life as wonderful as it can possibly be … yes, that is what one would think, however; she sorta goes the other way with it.

As she admires the fruit of her test-tube; she lets Damian know that global domination is in his future. Oh, good. I know every mom seeing her kid for the first time thinks he or she is perfect, and possibly even more perfect than all the other babies whose mothers have ever looked at them, but I don’t know many who start planning out their kids careers at during their child’s first moments; and I don’t know any who start grooming them for world takeover before their child draws his or her first breath.

ImageDing! The timer goes off, and Talia welcomes Damian to the world with a smile and look of wonder that seem at home on the face of any new mother. This is pretty much the upper limit of their relationship, it doesn’t get much better. Of course, like any good mother she has plan’s for Damian’s education.



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ImageTalia trains Damian to become an assassin. This could be seen as abuse, but she always remembers his birthday, and its for his own good, right?

At any rate, Damian is put through years of physical and mental “conditioning” that result in him becoming a very talented but socially inept 10-year-old.

So mother-of-the-year, Talia is not. In some ways she loves Damian, and in some ways he loves her. He is a little boy after all, no amount of training is going to change that fact.

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Eventually,Damian goes to live with Bruce, probably for the best right? I mean how could a kid in the hands of superhero possibly come to any harm? Even if it is an unstable environment, anything is better than getting your ass kicked on your birthday, right? Surely Damian’s lot in life will improve now that he has a whole support system of caring adults.

ImageYeah, about that…

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So how did we go from movies and popcorn to a dead kid? Long story. First of all, Bruce and the Bat-family do try. He makes a genuine effort to take care of Damian and teach him how to do the right thing. He forbids Damian to kill, which seems like a good start. Most parents I know have the same rule.

ImageDamian struggles a little with the house rules. Gets in trouble, you know the usual settling in with a new authority figure stuff.

No one really seems to question the implications of a 10-year-old needing to be expressly forbidden to murder someone. This is probably as good of a reason as any to get the kid in therapy. Red flag, anyone? No? Okay, then lets continue.

Since we have agreed that it seems acceptable for ten-year-olds to have homicidal tendencies, let’s talk about how Talia reacts to his new (and dare-we-say improved?) moral compass.

ImageShe resurfaces in Damian’s life to tell him she’s disappointed in him, aw Mom, you shouldn’t have… But lest you think lacks the commitment to completely destroy her son psychologically, she also formally disowns him.Image

Where’s Bruce while all this is going on, you might ask yourself… turns out he has a pretty good excuse for turning a blind eye to what’s going on, see he’s kind of, oh what’s the word… dead.

So Damian learned he had a father, lost said father, and was abandoned by his mother. No one has considered that perhaps Alfred and Master Dick aren’t exactly the dynamic duo of parenting, that maybe Damian could benefit from some normalcy, be around kids his own age, have some pizza, a cookie, maybe? No? Okay. Just checking.

Eventually as most dead superhero dad’s do, Bruce comes back… that’s a really long story… so let’s just go with it.

So what’s it like, having a kid who has grown up learning how to kill people come to live with you when you have dedicated your life to putting people like that away? On the other hand, what’s it like to have Batman for a dad?

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It’s just PEACHY…

Bruce and Damian have their ups and downs. That’s for sure. Bruce tends to see him as another soldier in the war on crime, and Damian tends to overreach his means to try and win his father’s approval. They do have their tender moments.

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Just look at this example of fatherly love. Bruce is carrying a beaten and battered Damian away from a fiery end… wait a second… what the hell was a 10-year-old doing in a situation like this to begin with? Well there has got to be one nice moment, hasn’t there?

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There’s the money shot… So, Mom is evil, and while Dad occasionally allows him to be put in harms way; its essentially all sunshine and rainbows over at Wayne Manor, yeah?

ImageOkay, so this was early on, but still, is this anyway to treat a traumatized child when you are a full grown man?

Not Bats finest hour…

But it all turns out well in the end.

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Really? You’re bringing this up again? So it doesn’t end well? But I mean the kid had a few good years, right? Its not like he got put in the middle of his parents feuds, or had to take on emotional burdens beyond his years or anything….

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Well… huh… okay, so I guess things got a little messy. His parents didn’t get along. A lot of kids parents don’t get along. At least they kept it hemmed up between themselves. He was never literally put in the middle of their fights or anything, never forced to choose between his mom and his dad….Image

Well, that sucks.

All right so Damian was mistreated, physically abused, mentally abused, neglected, abandoned, forced to choose between his parents, lost his father, and died. That’s terrible, especially when you consider how well most kids recuperate from early emotional trauma.

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Touche’. Fair enough. I see your point. Bruce had a fairly idyllic childhood. His parents loved him, and put his needs before their own. One bad night changed him forever. Violence creates lasting scars and mental fixations that plague us for the rest of our lives.

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Even under the best of circumstances, parenting can fall short and fate can take over.

Martha and Thomas loved Bruce, and they would have given anything to protect him.

I just wish someone had felt that way about Damian.

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We all start out as kids, trying to live up to our parents’ expectation. Then some of us become parents’ trying be worthy of our kids. Missteps are easy. Children are precious. We have an ethical responsibility to make sure that they are cared for and loved. With all the things that can go wrong, why would we ever add to the challenges facing our children knowingly?

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Review Batgirl #17

16 Feb

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Something Old, Something New, Something borrowed, Something better?

So, here we are, sans Gail Simone. I expected to be outraged, disappointed, and then finish off my pout by feeling an intense sense of relief that Simone would return to the title soon.

Instead, I read the book and realized what BATGIRL has been missing. Fawkes’ third person narration stuck me as emotionally rich and thought provoking. This story, told from the perspective of James Gordon, Junior, made me do two things I haven’t done when I read the title in the past: think and feel.

It’s really not fair to compare this issue to what Gail Simone has been doing on the book. It’s such a departure, residing inside the mind of a villainous character, and only partially concerned with Barbara’s self-affirming internal pep talks. When James, Jr. tells us that Barbara is ‘fascinating,’ it’s the first time in a while that I have considered that a possibility in a long while.

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I love Barbara, but recently I feel our relationship has devolved to one of those where I take her calls because imagining what happens if I don’t makes me very anxious. I listen to her talk about the same old things over and over, trying to seem interested—even though we’ve been over this and she is clearly making no progress. She never asks me how I feel about important issues, or makes me think about things in a different way. My love for her is very one-sided; I am not getting a lot out of the time we spend together. I expect at member of the Bat-team to be a bit more complex than the Barbara we have been presented with thus far.

This issue was very successful. It had a clear rise and fall in action. The twists and turns were thoughtful and surprising; and the voice used to tell the story was genuinely inspired and original.

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Sampere’s artwork is dynamic and visually appealing. I would love to see him stay on the book, I really love the way he draws Barbara. His representation of The Firebug helped characterize the villain even though he only appears in a few panels. The medals on his chest tell us that he was not always a menace, but in a past life might have even been a hero.

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The highlight of the issue for me was the large panel featuring James, Jr. sitting on a hotel bed in the dark. He looks just like his father here. The clear nod to BATMAN: YEAR ONE reminded me of everything the Gordon family has been through, and how truly horrifying it must be for Barbara and the commissioner to see their own flesh and blood as a force of evil. This scene had real resonance.

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This issue by Fawkes and Sampere was thoroughly successful. I am interested to find out what happens next month. Perhaps in the myriad of Bat-titles, one focusing on James, Junior could support its own weight. I’ll stick by Barbara and Simone, for all they have done to promote strong women in comics and female readership; I just hope to see ‘something better’ soon. If anyone can realize the full potential of BATGIRL, I believe it is Simone. I will be waiting and reading in the highest hopes that she will do so.

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Greatest Hits: Sexism in Vintage Comics

11 Feb

 

 

 

I originally tracked down all these images to create the banner for my site. Every time I looked at them, I wondered if people who viewed the blog were actually able to make out what they said. I couldn’t stand the thought that people might be missing out on these spectacular instances of vintage sexism in comics. I am so glad that these are humorous now, women in comics have come such a long way.

 

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Here we see Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) using her superpowers for housework. Interestingly enough, this backup feature “The Female of the Species!” featured in X-men #57 in 1969, was written by Stan Lee’s assistant Linda Fite, in an attempt to include a feminine perspective. In this same piece Jean states that it doesn’t take telekinesis to turn heads. You’ve got to love that. Jean was the only member of the original team not given a backstory in these backups.  

 

 

 

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In this frame we see Batman telling his new wife, Kathy Kane (Batwoman), that she is not invited to join them on their adventure. This was published in Batman #122 in 1959. Prior to their marriage, Kathy had been an ultra-femme crime fighter. She carried a purse full of gadgets in lieu of a utility belt, and of course wore a dress. Batman seemed to find her more of an annoyance than an ally.  

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Sue Storm doesn’t see how she can be of help, but she is quickly reminded that she is always of help because she is beautiful! She can help keep morale up, of course, thank goodness. This panel comes from Fantastic Four #12 published in 1963. 

 

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This images are all from Detective Comics #371 published in 1968. Throughout the issue, Batgirl repeatedly jeopardizes the mission by worrying about her appearance. Silly Batgirl. 

Its nice to see that creator’s are willing to let the girls play now. Each of these characters has evolved to be an individual, with an independent motivation and personality. They are all tough in different ways, and have such a long way .

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Here’s Jean being dark and powerful.

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And Batwoman, being decidedly uninterested in Batman romantically.

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And Sue doing more than boosting morale.

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And Batgirl, not worrying about her makeup.  

As attitudes toward women continue to change, these characters will continue to evolve. Certainly now, they are great symbols for how far women have come in the last half century. 

Review of Green Arrow #17

7 Feb

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Green Arrow #17 by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino published by DC Comics

At first glance, the seventeenth issue of a title I have not been reading should hold no interest for me, but the creative switch up caught my attention. I am so glad I picked up this book.

Sorrentino’s artwork soars. Removed from the darkness of the I, Vampire series and thrust under the fluorescent lights of Queen Industries; Sorrentino’s work retains that same ineffable foreboding quality we have seen in the past.

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This art is on par with the best in the industry. Through layered frames and unique layouts he builds a tense pulsing rhythm for the melody of Lemire’s writing to play over.

Lemire is systematically scrapping the infrastructure he inherited. He has big plans for Oliver, and they start with stripping away nearly everything he regained at the launch of The New 52. It is important to realize that Sorrentino’s art reaches the height it does because it is perfectly paired with Lemire’s methodically plotted action. I love what they have created together.

The issue ends as a sightless character tells Oliver that he was never supposed to leave the island. Oh, Mr. Lemire, what do you have in store for us? I for one cannot wait to find out.

A brief aside, if you were able to read the sentence, “You were never supposed to leave the island!” not in the voice of Jack Shephard you are a better fan than I.

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Hats off guys, this issue is full of promise and possibility.

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Get this issue here:

http://www.readdcentertainment.com/Green-Arrow-2011-17/digital-comic/DEC120180

Also I am willing to bet this is going to be important.

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Review of Batman: The Dark Knight 16

2 Feb

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This is the Batman horror comic, and the tone, art, and subject matter taken on by the creative team do a great job reminding us of that.

Ethan Van Sciver draws like a dream. Batman’s intensity is evident in every panel in which he appears. The two page spread set around piano keys is innovative, thoughtful, and beautiful; its truly inspired. While I will miss David Finch’s almost baroque touches on the book (not to mention finding the occasional reproduction of Carravaggio’s greatest works in the background) I trust Van Scriver completely after this issue.

Gregg Hurwitz takes his time settling into this new story arc. The exposition is filled with outright action for Batman as well as personal conflict for Bruce. He must also be given due credit for writing a smart, self assured female character in Natalya (Bruce’s [ex?] love interest). Hurwitz’s Alfred is full of the paternal love and humor, he serves as a brilliant reminder of Bruce’s humanity.

As for the Mad Hatter himself, he’s truly diabolical and unhinged. His depravity comes through in Hurwitz’s writing. You can almost hear the screechy put-on British accent in the word balloons. I cannot wait to spend more time with the dastardly haberdasher as the story unfolds. The only reason I cannot say the book was perfect, is that I wanted a bit more villain; but if I know Hurwitz, that is exactly what is to come.

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