Tagged: female thor

Marc Alan Fishman: Captain America, Thor, Changes, Stunts…

Black Captain AmericaMarc tips back on his heels, juts his chin out well beyond his neck and claps his hands together with a swagger like no other…

So have you seen the news lately? Seems like no one at Marvel can keep their race, gender, or sexual preference the same. It’s like Dormammu and the Living Tribunal decided to challenge Galactus and Eco The Living Planet to beer pong! I kid, I kid.

But yes, it seems that Marvel is making the dirt sheets and giving early Christmas gifts to fanboys who like to bitch online by shifting some major tentpoles of a few of their bigger brand-names. Of course, any comic book fan worth their salt saw the announcements of Captain America’s new epidermis tonal-shift, or Thor’s gender-swap as staying-the-course for modern comic bookery. Changing the face under a mantle is Sales-Spike 101 in Marketing for Muggles.

If I were to only discuss the House of Mouse with these shocking plot twist redirects, I’d still be buried deep in the publishing cycle. In the past decade we’ve seen a mind-swapped Spider-Man take to Manhattan, Bucky Cap, Professor X’s death / rebirth / paralysis / re-death, Ghost Rider choosing to inhabit a Latino street racer, Pepper Potts Iron Man, a Red Hulk, Rick Jones as the Abomination, and in Hickman’s Avengers books a brand new Smasher, Starbrand, and a few others I’ve long since forgotten about.

With all those cases, the comic-buying world looked over the rumors on Bleeding Cool, bitched about the atrocity of it all on CBR, and then posted a few selfies of them eventually reading the damned books when they came out. And given enough time, Peter Parker came back to the mantle, so did Steve Rogers, as did Tony Stark (though I guess he never really truly left the mantle… but you get my drift).

In short, a change of race, creed, gender, or underwear preference only shuffles the deck long enough to make some noise. And while creators will carry their changes as long as they hold the attention of the masses (the masses being the niche market of comic book readers), these shifts exist solely for the opportunity to tell a new story. And in my humble opinion, that’s absolutely why I think all these obvious sales ploys are great ideas.

As I noted last week: in the economics of pulp-and-paper, idea generation is the true value of the end product. As such, the clamor I’ve long heard (mostly from old farts and the old-at-heart) about how comics should just tell good stories about the core characters – never succumbing to epic events, or tawdry flights of fancy. Well, the epic event crossover thing… I get that. But if we chain the hands of our creative teams and force them to work within the confines of a limited universe, we’re removing the possibility of those teams then creating something truly memorable.

Of the aforementioned stunts, I personally was enthralled by the Superior Spider-Man. And while I knew that there’d be no way that Peter Parker would truly be forever removed from the 616, I was amazed (natch) at the balls Dan Slott showed by keeping Otto under the skin for as long as he did. He introduced us to a not-so-friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, who decided that proactive crime fighting beats the typical responsive nature of super heroism. Because of it, we were treated to month upon month of smart heroes outsmarting villainy instead of relying on dumb luck, pithy speachifying, and mindless punching. And sure, there were tropes (the manic-pixie girlfriend who sees through the cock-sure attitude, the hubris of the hero eventually being his downfall), but more-so there were stories I had not read. And that, kiddos, is worth its weight in mouse-approved gold.

So let having Falcon take a turn with the most recognizable shield in comics. Let Thor enjoy earning only 80% of the wages an equally powerful male version of herself would. Heck, let Dr. Strange turn into an asthmatic asexual narcoleptic quadriplegic Aboriginal with crippling psoriasis!  If it shakes up the character, and allows the creative team to tell a story we’ve never heard before, then it keeps the ball rolling.

It’s only when we let our prose live in the predictable status quo that we stand the most chance to lose any momentum we gain in the era of the comic book blockbuster.


Martha Thomases: Superheroes Attack New Markets

Female ThorThis is a great time for the business side of American comics. Sales are higher than they’ve been for decades, at least in terms of dollars.

(It’s true that in the 1940s many titles sold millions of copies apiece. Those were different times.)

According to the article cited in the link, only titles featuring Batman and Spider-Man consistently sell more than 100,000 an issue. It’s true that Spider-Man and Batman star in a lot of titles, and comics cost a lot more than they did in the 1940s. Still, superheroes are not the monolithic force in the market that they used to be, and single-issues print copies are no longer the biggest part of the market. Graphic novels account for almost half the sales. Digital is estimated to be at least ten percent.

(I know that these categories overlap. My point stands.)

In any case, I think this is good for the medium. I think more kinds of books, available at more kinds of stores, will attract more kinds of readers. More readers mean more money, and more money means more books. Yay!

By their announcements these past few weeks, Marvel demonstrated that it notices changes in the market and will at least pay lip service to them.

The more high profile story of the two is this one, which Joe Quesada announced on The Colbert Report. Captain America will no longer be Steve Rogers, but instead will be his pal, Sam Wilson, who until this point has been The Falcon. Also, up until this point, he’s been African-American, which I assume he will remain while he is Captain America.

This is not the first time a comic book character has changed his or her race. My first experience was when Lois Lane literally went from white to black. We’ve also had John Henry Irons as one of the possible Supermen, come back from the dead.

For that matter, we’ve had a black Captain America before. I love this book. I wish Marvel’s lawyers had been able to work out the deal for the sequel before we lost Bob Morales.

Does this bring in non-white readers? I have no idea. I don’t even know how they could find out, unless comic book stores now have NSA technology that lets them secretly photograph every sale. However, I think one of America’s great shames is the way we handle race relations, and therefore, this is a rich subject for fiction.

Speaking of difficult relationships, Marvel’s other big announcement is that Thor will soon be a woman. One of my favorite story lines of all time was from back in the 1980s, when Walter Simonson made Thor a frog. To me, this epitomizes what’s great about comics, because in any other medium, this would be ridiculous (and, if filmed, really expensive), but in Walter’s hands, it made perfect sense. Therefore, I hesitate to denounce this new development, although that is my first impulse.

I’m not really up on my mythology, but Thor is, after all, a god. The Norse gods, like the Greek gods, and probably like a whole bunch of other gods, are personifications of primal human emotions and experiences. The only reason Thor has gender is that the Norse decided that thunder and lightning were masculine.

Like the Greeks, the Norse often had male and female deities representing different aspects of the same thing. Ares and Athena, for example, were both aspects of War to the Greeks. Baldur and Freya represented beauty to the Norse in different ways.

In other words, there is no real reason for Thor to be female. And if he’s going to now be she, I would find the storyline more appealing if the character was represented as a woman with a build that is a reasonable counterpart to the masculine representation. The only artwork I’ve seen shows a woman with gigantic breasts (or, at least, a gigantic breastplate) that would be impossible with the muscle mass I assume she has.

Maybe gods get free implants when they transition. Maybe she’s using the space in her armor for snacks.

Marvel has said they want this new female Thor to appeal to women readers. I don’t know why they think women want thunder goddesses with implants. Marvel says women readers will like the strong female protagonist Thor now represents.

This woman reader would prefer a version of female strength that isn’t derivative of a male character. I’d prefer something new and different, something that reflects the kinds of modern experiences that women have. Marvel already does this well with Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel.

Maybe they don’t have enough snacks.


The Point Radio: By The Time We Bike To Phoenix

You may never own one or even ride one, but you probably will agree that motorbikes can be cool. We take you right into the heart of they matter as we look at The History Channel series, BIKER BATTLEGROUND PHOENIX. Plus The Avengers get a makeover and ComicCon here we come!

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