Tagged: Mary Jane

John Ostrander: Happily Never After?

Ostrander Art 130929There was some discussion when the creative team on DC’s Batwoman, J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman, resigned after editorial decided that the title character, Kate Kane, would not be allowed to marry her fiancée, Maggie Sawyer. DC has tried to clarify that they are not anti-gay marriage but anti any marriage. Dan DiDio, DC co-publisher, stated at the Baltimore Con that heroes (at least in the Batman family) shouldn’t have happy personal lives, no marriages. They sacrifice personal happiness for the greater good. That’s what makes them heroes. Or so we’re told. DiDio said, “That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand.”

That’s one viewpoint.

I can argue it both ways. Comics are fantasies and fairy tales tend to end with “And they lived happily ever after.” It is assumed that, after that point, the story gets mundane. It becomes about the ho-hum aspects of living day-to-day. The romance is gone. The tension of “will they/won’t they” no longer exists.

That has not been my experience. The living together, the commitment to one another, gets challenged all the time. The percentage of marriages that end in divorce or infidelity, according to some, is about 50%. Happily ever after is not a given.

I’ve discovered part of the challenge is seeing past who you thought the other person was and to see who they actually are. You discover much more about the person you love after you’ve become a committed couple. In addition, that love you share grows and changes (or changes and declines) as the people in that relationship grow, decline, and change. The love the two feel, for better or worse, may not be the same five years in. All of that can be very dramatic.

However, it’s not something pop culture tends to show. Most TV shows resist having their romantic leads become a couple, and certainly not married. Moonlighting famously teased about its two leads becoming a couple for way too long. Castle, of which I’m a big fan, is dealing with that now and we’ll see how that turns out. Every once in a while, you get a show or series that counteracts that – the movie series The Thin Man, based on the characters of Nick and Nora Charles created by Dashiell Hammett, were sexy and funny and had a wonderful marriage. They are, also, the exception in pop culture.

Marvel can be no less guilty of this than DC. The decision was made to have Peter (Spider-Man) Parker and Mary Jane Watson not just no longer married but to make it so they were never married. In order to do that, they had to employ the devil. That’s sort of convoluted.

I dislike DiDio’s edict because it is just that – an edict. It doesn’t allow for a story to follow through. It is dogma applied instead of thought, creativity and imagination. It’s the same rationale that the Roman Catholic Church applies to celibacy in its priesthood: that the priest/hero sacrifices their own personal happiness to better serve. It’s codswallop in both cases. The RC rule ignores the fact that other denominations have married clergy and it actually works out mostly fine.

Look, I can certainly see that Batman has no time or perhaps inclination to be married. That makes sense within the confines of who the character is. There were and are different circumstances for others like Batwoman. In storytelling, one size does not fit all.

I’ve been doing some work for DC and I hope to do more and when playing in their sandbox, I’ll respect their rules, even if I disagree with them. However, Williams and Blackman had the rules changed on them at the last moment and I respect their decision to walk. I’d like to think I would do the same.

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

 

Martha Thomases: Don’t Try To Dig What We All Say

In my daily perusing of the Internets, I came across this post. A short post, it says (with one little snip):

“Dear Old People (and this includes me), the kids today are not hip to your cultural references. This is not a failure of education. Things change. The end.”

It’s not about comics or the movies or television. If anything it’s about Baby Boomers and how insufferable we can be. The popular art that moved us must move you, or you’re ignorant.

This is not a new attitude. My mother, for example, loved E. Nesbitt and J. D. Salinger, so she thought I should read them. My high school English teacher thought that Fitzgerald and Hemingway were the greatest writers of the 20th Century, and skewed their curricula accordingly.

None of this was as insufferable as my generation has been.

In Hollywood, my generation has minded the television shows of our youth into (for the most part) wretched movies. Car 54, Where Are You?, which was an entertaining glimpse of the 1950s Bronx, was made into a terrible movie that abused my beloved David Johansen. See also: McHale’s Navy (here and here), I Spy (here and here), and more. Exception: The Addams Family was genius, and so was equally transgressive movie.

We also made smug jokes. Do you know Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings? These days, if someone tells that joke, that person must explain what Wings was.

In comics, the insidious influence of the Boomers is even worse. Every attempt to reboot a character for a modern audience is eventually derailed by continuity geeks who insist that everything fall in line with the way it was when they were kids. Sometimes, I’m like this myself. I liked the Supergirl who hid her robot in a tree. I liked super pets. I think they made the world a better place.

You know what else made the world a better place? Me, being young and cute and hopeful.

We need to get over ourselves. The Flash doesn’t have to be Barry Allen (that re-reboot robbed my adult son of the Flash he grew up with). Superman doesn’t have to be in love with Lois Lane, nor Peter Parker with either Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy. Those stories exist, and we can read them whenever we like.

In the meantime, there’s lots of terrific new entertainment that us old farts could learn from. Off the top of my head, there’s Sherlock, a brilliant new way to look at a classic character. There’s Copper on BBC America, a blueprint for the way the GOP wants to rebuild American society. There’s Cosmopolis, a movie that analyzes modern life from the interior of a stretch limo. And, love him or hate him, Mark Millar is taking major risks as he creates his media empire.

Now, excuse me. I have to go and watch Nashville again.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman, Rob Liefeld, Scoot Snyder, and Burning Down The House

 

MINDY NEWELL: Character

What goes into making a memorable character for a story?

According to Lawrence Block, author of over one hundred novels and recipient of the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America, they must be three things: plausible, sympathetic, and original.

I think that’s a damn good definition of what makes a character real. Except that I think Mr. Block used the wrong word. It’s not “sympathetic,” it’s “empathetic.” Now, sympathy and empathy are kissing cousins, but sympathy, I think, allows the individual to separate from the character just a bit, to feel for the character while still allowing for some separation – six degrees of separation, if you will. Empathy, on the other hand causes the individual to feel with the character– it’s the recognition of self in someone else.

Without that recognition, without that empathy, the character is in danger of falling flat, of eliciting a “who cares?” response. The great characters are empathetic – Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With The Wind, the Joad family (especially Tom and “Ma”) of The Grapes Of Wrath, Vito and Michael Coreleone of The Godfather, Caleb Trask of East Of Eden, Joe and Kirsten Clay of Days Of Wine And Roses, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, King George VI in The King’s Speech.

In comics there is Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and his sister, Death, the X-Men’s Max Eisenhardt/Erik Lensherr/Magneto and Jean Grey/Phoenix (Dark and “Light”), Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Selina Kyle/Catwoman, and Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman. Of course there are more; I just chose those characters that appeared at the top of my head as I write this. You will have your own characters that engender empathy.

Originality is hard.  The history of storytelling begins when our ancestors first sat down around the fire and told tales to ward off the dark night. The history of storytelling is ripe with heroes and villains, love and betrayal, valor and cowardice. Originality, I think, comprises the total picture. As Block says in his book Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, “it’s not the quirks that make an enduring character, but the essential personality which the quirks highlight.” In other words, and like I said, it’s the whole picture, the complete character or individual that makes him or her an original.

Norma Desmond’s quirk is her inability to adjust to age and talkies, to realize and accept that time, and Hollywood, has marched on. Tom Joad’s quirk is his inability to accept injustice, even if it causes him to murder, which he sees as no injustice. Vito Coreleone’s quirk is to see the world as an “us against them” scenario, to nurture the family while attacking the world. Michael Coreleone’s quirk is to talk of love and loyalty to the family while he destroys it.  Swamp Thing’s quirk is that he is a plant trying to be a man. And Death loves life, even as she takes it away.

Plausibility allows the reader to suspend his or her disbelief, to accept that the actions of the character are true and real and acceptable. Now in comics, of course, plausibility is a two-edged sword. Of course we know that nobody can fly; nobody is invulnerable or runs at supersonic speed; no one can turn invisible or survive the explosion of a gamma bomb (except Bruce Banner, of course!) But as readers of superhero comics, we willingly suspend our disbelief, the implausibility of the character, before we even open the book. Why? Well, I think it has something to do with the capturing of our imagination, the “what if?” factor that I wrote about several months ago. But I also think that the other factors mentioned above play a role in our acceptance of Superman or Rogue. Empathy: “I get it. I know what it’s like to be Rogue, to be unable to really touch someone, to really get close to someone.” Or “Yeah, sometimes I feel like Kal-El, a stranger in a strange land.”

I watched Game Change on HBO. The movie is based on Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann of New York magazine and Mark Halperin of Time. Both men are seasoned politically analysts, and their book, which was released on January 11, 2010, is an inside look at the Presidential campaign of 2008. The HBO movie focuses on Palin, played by Julianne Moore, from the moment the McCain campaign decides to ask her to be his running mate to Obama’s running mate.

The movie is riveting. Moore buries herself completely into the role, and I’m guaranteeing right now that she wins an Emmy for her performance. Sarah Palin is, without a doubt, love her or hate her, an original. She is empathetic – and sympathetic – as she works to maintain her sense of self and, love them or hate them, her own beliefs against the McCain and Republican political machinery.

But is she plausible? The movie shows that, as far as being capable of being “one heartbeat away from the Presidency,” Palin was an implausible candidate. But don’t tell that to the huge – and I mean huge – groundswell of love and support she engendered.

Yesterday afternoon I went to my local comic book store, Vector Comics, to pick up my haul. Joe and Tina, the terrific and wonderful owners of the shop, were busy with other customers, so I browsed through the stacks to see if anything not on my list that caught my interest. (Actually, almost everything piques my appetite, and if I allowed myself to buy everything I want, I couldn’t pay the rent!)

Know what I found? The Sarah Palin comic from Bluewater Comics.

What a character!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

 

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Batman Versus Spider-Man

In honor of Marvel’s next big event, I’ve decided to take a week off of thinking hard. Instead I’ll do what they’re doing: Wasting your time by forcing two characters to fight for your entertainment.

Of course I don’t have the resources to produce artwork. Nor do I have the time to create an actual script. Instead, I’ll just take this idea to a few different levels, and ultimately create enough sweeping declarations to get some beautifully angry comments. I love beautifully angry comments.

In this corner: Bruce “The Rich Kid” Wayne and his amazing belt of knickknacks! That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite powerless pugilist… the billionaire with bats in his belfry, The Batman!

And in this corner wearing skin-tight underwear and a mask without a mouth hole… Marvel’s favorite orphan, Peter “I was a jerk once, and I’m paying for it every day…” Parker! That’s right, it’s the web-slinging, science-spitting, devil-befriending behemoth… The Sensational Spider-Man!

Now there are a few ways to tally the fight. Since I’ve got inches of column to waste, let’s start with the obvious: In a street fight with absolutely no planning, Spider-Man would stomp Batman into a bloody pulp. Bats may have one of the greatest minds in comics, but at the end of the day, no amount of gadgets and Kevlar will out-match a fighter like Spider-Man. Not only is Spidey more agile, he’s also got superior strength and maneuverability. Batman can use all the kung fu in his repertoire, but Spider-Man has the actual super-powers.

I will concede this though: if these two were pitted against one another and had any chance to plan the bout, Batman would knock Parker out like the Orkin Man. Batman’s tactics, gadgets, and ability to use his terrain to his advantage trumps Spider-Man’s physical prowess. And while Spidey is a super-genius… a brilliant fighter he is not. Simply put, with any amount of time to prepare, Brucey’s coming out bruised but boastful.

Fan-service aside, how about we put these two against one another by way of the TeeVee. On the silver screen, Bats takes the trophy. Spider-Man had a few live action cameos on the Electric Company, and a simply too-terrible-to-believe live action show. Batman had Adam West. And you can say what you want about those kooky cavalcades with Burt Ward… but the zeitgeist here nods towards the cape and cowl when it comes to overall quality. Somedays, you just don’t have a place to throw a bomb.

When the battle gets animated, that’s really where Spidey gets killed. Not for lack of trying. The late 60s gave us a decent Spider-Man cartoon. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was… a larf. In the 90s Fox Kids gave us a series that started strong, but became hampered by way-too-long season arcs, and an entirely forgettable last season – that saw the trope of guest stars used piss-poorly. In the mid-late-aughts the Sensational Spider-Man was fantastically done, but cut way too short. In contrast, Batman started slow (in the Super Friends, and then helping out Scooby Doo), but finished amazingly. Yeah The Batman in the early aughts was an atrocity, but Bruce Timm’s animated Batman Adventures wrote the bible on quality cartoons. And The Brave and the Bold was a campy trip that started off too-kiddie, but quickly found its footing in the hyper-kitsch fan-service delivery. By my count Bats wins by four Emmys.

OK, so Bat’s wins the battle of the silver screen. How about we take a trip to the movies? Consider my math: Spider-Man 1? A minus. Spider-Man 2? A solid A. Spider-Man 3? … D. Now over at the Batcamp, let’s take stock. The Adam West Bat-Movie? Don’t count. The Burton Bat-Films: B. The Schumaker Schlock? D… if I’m being nice. The Nolan-verse? Well, if there’s a grade above A, I’d give it. At the end of the day, there’s been more guano out there than there’s been Spider-poop. So I tip the hat to the wacky web-shooter in the battle of the big screen. And he can take that win to the sock-hop.

But how about where it really counts? On the page. I guess I’m sad to say I don’t have the proper license to weigh in on that particular bout. As I stated last week, my exposure to Spider-Man in comics-proper is poor at best. Admittedly I have a very extensive Bat-Collection, so I’m more than likely biased. Given my knowledge though of Spider-Man’s bullet-list of plot threads, I might still be inclined to tip the hat back to the Bat. He does have a few decades more history to draw on though, so it may very well be an unfair fight.

I will say this: In the time since my birth, Batman has had his back broken, his mantle stolen, his sidekick murdered, his life unraveled by several secret societies, his bastard son joining his menagerie, and has survived two or ten universal resets.

In that same amount of time, all I’ve really heard about Spider-Man that really stuck was that he nixed his marriage to Mary Jane to save Aunt May. And there was a clone saga people didn’t like. And he had an Iron-Spider suit. And a black suit. And a cosmic suit. And at some point was tied to an ancient race of animal totem warriors or something. In terms of only recognizable milestones (that haven’t been universally hated) … Batman would take the crown. Prove me wrong.

So there you have it. A few hundred words on an amazing battle. So it’s time for you weigh in. Was I too favorable to Time-Warner’s titan? Does Spider-Man have more going for him than a six-pack and a quip dictionary? Who has the better rogues gallery? Who has the better friends? Man, this could be a whole new column next week. I guess it depends on you, the gentle reader of my column.

At the end of the day, in the battle between Batman and Spider-Man? The winner is you.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

MINDY NEWELL: Mind Games

6 a.m. Sunday morning.

What the hell is that noise?

Oh, yeah. The alarm on my cell phone.

It’s reeeeeally lowwwwwwd.

Shit. Five more minutes. Just five more minutes. One eye open, I grapple for the phone. Shit. Goddamn it. There it is. Flip it open. Hit the snooze button.

Quiet.

I snuggle under the covers.

And I’m wide awake.

The Giants are playing the Falcons today in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Kickoff at 1 p.m. Probably there are people already at the stadium, setting up their tailgating parties, firing up the grills, sipping hot coffee or tea (and, sadly, guzzling the first beer of the day.)

Glenn (my brother) is probably on the road already, driving up from the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia. Probably almost all of Philadelphia is rooting for the Falcons to kick the Giants’ collective ass. It’s not easy being a Giants fan down there.

Okay, I’m up. It’s cold. Shit, yesterday it was over 60°. Today, not so much. Good football weather thought. I put on my robe. Go into the kitchen. I squint at the bright light as I flip the switch. Turn on the stove for my cuppa tea. Can’t do anything without my cuppa.

Go into the bedroom. Put my robe on. Shit, it’s really cold. Good football weather, though. ‘Specially for the Giants. The Falcons play indoors. The cold and the crazy winds at Giants Stadium – I refuse to call it Metlife Stadium – will hopefully work against them. I turn on my computer.

The teapot is whistling. I pour my nice cuppa tea. Last night I prepared everything; the steaks are marinating, hot dogs are in aluminum foil, the cooler and the grill are pulled out and ready, utensils, paper plates, everything’s set. Glenn’s bringing the Bloody Marys and the charcoal. Food tastes better without that propane smoke.

Got about an hour, hour-and-a-half ‘till Glenn gets here. All I gotta do is sit down and write my column. Then take a shower and get dressed.

I wonder how Eli is feeling? Where is Victor Cruz right now? Is Justin Tuck already in the locker room? Is Mathias Kiwanuka having tea too? Or coffee?

What’s going through the minds of the Giants? And the Falcons, for that matter?

I wonder about superheroes and their evil doppelgangers. What if their battles were scheduled? What if they watched films of last week’s battle? What if they studied playbooks? Would they be replaying that sack, thinking “if only I’d just stepped to the left?” Would they be thinking about that perfectly thrown right hook that somehow missed? What would they do, what would they think about before going up against each other?

7:30 a.m. The doorbell has rung. This column is now interrupted because Glenn is already at my door and we’re going to the Giants game! Go, big blue!

5:55 p.m. I’m back. Giants won! 24 – 2. (Falcons got a safety due to a bullshit call by the end zone ref who threw a flag 25 seconds after the play was called dead. (I really, really, really hate when the refs do that.) Gotta admit the first quarter sucked (for both teams), and the second quarter wasn’t much either, although the Giants did score a TD to make it 7 – 2 at the half. But the second half rocked!

Okay, where was I?

Right. Got it.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to write a story about the hours before an “epic battle” between the hero and the villain? You never actually see the fight scene – well, maybe the first punch, the way Rocky III ends, y’know? You just build up the tension going on inside the hero, inside the villain. It could start like my morning did, with the alarm clock shattering the deep sleep of Peter Parker and Mary Jane – sorry, but I prefer that “timeline.” And Electro was up all night, couldn’t sleep, thinking about his past battles with Spider-Man and letting his inferiority complex eat at him. Captain America wanders the streets of Washington, D.C., past the Capitol building and the monuments, ending up at Arlington cemetery, while the Red Skull visits Auschwitz, remembering the “glory” of the Third Reich. Doctor Strange spends the night in deep meditation, while the Silver Dagger ponders God and the Catholic Church at the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.

I could go on – and end up writing a story treatment and then some asshole will read it here, and I’ll get all pissed off, so I’ll stop here.

Before my brain starts playing tricks on me and I get all upset that I’m not actually writing these things anymore because, y’know, Mindy Newell is a has-been and Mindy Newell is a bitch and Mindy Newell never really had any talent, just a great set of gams which she used to get work, and…

You know.

Mind games.

P.S.: Giants Vs. Green Bay Next Week!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

 

MINDY NEWELL: To Love, Honor, And Cherish Until Death – Or Editorial Decision – Do Us Part

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that my daughter, Alixandra Gould – yes, she’s keeping her name – married the love of her life, Jeffrey Christopher Gonzalez, last week. (A big thank you! to Mike Gold for posting a beautiful column last week that I posted on Facebook, then e-mailed to every single person I’ve ever met just to make sure they read it, and which Alix and Jeff thought was terrifically cool.) So of course I decided to write about superhero marriages this week. Not a big leap, is it?

I just finished googling “superhero marriages.” There were “about” 7,750,000 hits in 0.23 seconds, the most recent being a slide show in the Huffington Post posted only four days ago – well, five days ago since this appears on Monday – on November 9, 2011 titled “Comic Book Weddings: 8 Of Our Favorite Superhero Weddings.” In order, they are (1) Spider-Man, a.k.a. Peter Parker, and Mary Jane Watson in 1987’s The Amazing Spider-Man Giant Annual; (2) 1962’s The Incredible Hulk #319 in which Bruce Banner and Betty Ross’ nuptials are interrupted by a “special guest”; (3) The X-Men’s Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey (Phoenix) in 1994; (4) Wonder Woman in her eponymous title married Mr. Monster in 1965 – ‘nuff said!; (5) Aquaman and Mera in Aquaman #18, 1964; (6) “Death Waits to Kiss the Bride” screamed the cover of Lois Lane #128 in 1972 – featuring the now iconic picture of Superman holding somebody’s dead body; (7) The Flash races down the altar to stop Iris West from marrying the wrong Barry Allen in The Flash #165, 1966; and (8) Wonder Girl, a.k.a. Donna Troy, marries Terry Long in Tales Of The Teen Titans #50, 1985.)

How did they miss Reed Richards and Sue Storm Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman? Im-not-so-ho, Reed and Sue are the most realistically portrayed marriage “pros” in the comics universe.

The couple married in 1965, making this year the 46th anniversary of their being a Mr. and Mrs. (They look pretty damn remarkable, don’t they? Must be all those visits to the Negative Zone.) Down through the years, Reed and Sue “have and held, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,” and have loved and cherished each other through everything the Marvel Universe could and continues to throw at them, including “real life” curves like a miscarriage, potential affairs, political differences, and a brother’s death.

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson came pretty close in matching the Richards’ record – not in years married, but in a realistic view of marriage – but then Marvel decided to “disappear” their relationship. Clark Kent and Lois Lane had a wonderful thing going, too, but DC recently terminated without prejudice that couple, too.

And what the hell happened to Scott and Jean?

Jean Loring, the wife of Ray Palmer (The Atom) has a “mental breakdown” and goes on a rampage, killing Sue Dibny, the wife of the Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny), in one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever seen in any comic.

Betty Banner, wife of Bruce Banner (The Hulk) was abused, suffered miscarriages, was turned into a harpy, and died. She got better and turned red.

Shayera Hall, Hawkwoman, dead.

I’m sure glad Jeff isn’t a superhero.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: “Super-heroines,” Get Back In The Kitchen!

So after a few weeks of daydreaming and being all cutesy-wootsie, I figure it’s about time I stir the pot a little. Let me get behind this wire mesh wall, force field, and don some protective gear. There. Safe and secure. Ahem…

Marvel’s female superheroes suck.

Don’t believe me? OK. Name the first few Marvel superheroes that come to mind. I’ll give you a minute. Who did you say…Spider-Man? Thor? Captain America? How about Iron Man? Hmm. No double X chromosomes there. The last big event to revolve around a woman? Oh yeah! House of M. The one where Marvel showed that a chick who ain’t barefoot and preggers goes crazy and resets the universe at will. Now there’s a feather in a feminists’ cap.

When I say “important women of Marvel,” aren’t they are always the yin to the yang of a more powerful man? Pepper Potts. Sorry Matt Fraction, you can put a repulsor in her chest, you can give her a code name, but she’s still just Tony’s secretary. Mary Jane Watson-Parker-Watson-by-way-of-a-retcon? Face it tiger, she’s just there to fall off buildings. Maria Hill? Nick Fury’s assprint hadn’t even cooled off before she was ousted back down to who-cares-ville. And when we open the discussion to those ladies who carry the hero badge? It doesn’t get any better.

Sue Storm, the matriarch of the Future Foundation. The soul of the Fantastic Four. Completely boring and useless without her husband. The best writers of Sue have always pegged her as a strong and independent woman. But take her away from Reed, Ben, or the children and the only bullet point left on her resume is part-time booty call for Namor.

Black Widow: slut with guns. How about Ms. Marvel? I’ll be completely honest. I don’t know a thing about her. Best I could tell? She was brought in because Marvel has no Wonder Woman, so they threw her on the Avengers. Beyond that I assume they keep her around because cute girls can show off their butts by cosplaying as her. What of the X-Men? Well, Jean Grey has died only 17 times, and has changed names to various permutations of “Phoenix,” all to what effect? She’s Cyclop’s gal. She maybe did Wolvie in a closet while Slim was waxing his car. And in the Ultimate Universe, maybe she did Charles too.

Let’s not forget Storm. She was married off to Black Panther so they could make super-black-babies that will invariably land on some future iteration of the X-Avengers. Not because they’ll be well written mind you… but they will add that “affirmative action” flavor John Stewart was used for back in the JLA.

I say this obviously not just to be cranky. I openly yell to the heavens for someone to come in and make the women matter again. Joss Whedon put Kitty Pride and the White Queen front and center in his amazing run on Astonishing X-Men. More than that, he made them more than worthless eye-candy in butt floss. He gave them dimension, and class. They weren’t in peril for perils’ sake.

Given Whedon’s pedigree for good female characterization, it didn’t come as a surprise. Whedon aside, other Marvel writers certainly have the know-how. Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathon Hickman are all amazing writers who know the ins and out of nuance. They’ve each made the females in their books (yes that includes Pepper in the aforementioned Iron Man series) very potent. But my gripe remains the same.

It’s not enough to write a woman as powerful, smart, and put-together. It’s the act of writing them as such that they are more than decoration. Throughout Marvel’s recent history, it’s been a literal boys-club. Civil War? Captain America and Iron Man fighting in the sandbox. Secret War? An excuse to make Norman Osbourn king of the playground – until sales dipped, and people stopped caring. And now we have Fear Itself, which as far as I can tell is only an excuse to half-kill Thor, and dress everyone up in Tron-stripes.

I yearn just once to have a female character in any of these situations stand up and set the world straight. Not to say it’s happened in the DC ever… but I actually believe Marvel has the smarts to actually do it. In this day and age where the DCnU turns Starfire and Catwoman into sultry sluts with no character trait beyond their cup size… I look to the House of Ideas to set the industry right.

When DC was making up Kryptonite and the color yellow the ultimate weapons against its heroes, Marvel figured out that debt, responsibility, and a guilty conscience was far better. Let us hope that in the coming times, they take the next step and realize that women are more than tits and tiny costumes. They are the fairer sex, the stronger characters, and perhaps the last untouched resource for superior fiction.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

My Spider-Man ‘One More Day’ and ‘One Moment In Time’ Rant

My Spider-Man ‘One More Day’ and ‘One Moment In Time’ Rant

All right, I’m finally sick and tired of this.

With the previews beginning to leak out from Spider-Man’s “One Moment In Time” story, which they claim will be the magic bullet that retconned Spider-Man’s marriage, I can stay silent no longer.

Everybody says “Oh, they’ll never put Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson back together.” And every time somebody says so, I can’t help but think of Latka and Simka.

In the two part Taxi episode, “Scenskees From A Marriage”, Latka (Andy Kaufman) strays from his marriage to Simka (Carol Kane) and due to their cultural restrictions, they must break up. To explain where I see all of this heading, we now must show the climactic scene of the divorce (jump ahead to about 2:55, if you must):

Now, there’s another thing to consider. The comics industry, for all of its maturing and stabilization, still remembers the scare of censors and the like. Does Disney really want to deal with the backlash from the religious right when they finally notice that this leading hero cut a deal with the devil to destroy the sanctity of his marriage? Personally, I’m amazed that James Dobson, who’s always looking for a new thing to beat up Disney over, hasn’t already gone after this one.

But the lingering resentment is still there from fans, who look at that and say that it came out of left field, that it ruined the character of Peter Parker, because of the way this change was made.

Luckily, there is a solution to all of this.

(more…)

Happy Valentine’s Day from Comicmix!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Comicmix!

We’re feeling extra ooey-gooey today. In celebration of this love-filled day, we wish you and your better half have a lovely St. Valentine’s day. May your love be like those who taught us how to love.

To Peter and Mary Jane, for those non-Mephisto years…

To Lois and Clark, for Superman I and II, the Donner cut.

To Reed and Sue, when Reed isn’t tweaking the ultimate nulifier.

To Ollie and Dinah, when Ollie isn’t firing his arrow elsewhere…

To Sue and Ralph, til death do they part. Wait. Eww…

To Scott and Jean, because face it, Wolverine didn’t stand a chance.

To Mark Grayson and Eve, for still being cute.

To Bruce and Talia, or Selina if Talia’s not paying attention.

To Steve and Sharon, time bullets be damned.

To Tony and Pepper, we know it didn’t happen in the comics, but… c’mon already!

To you Comicmix fans… for always being there to comment to us when we’re blue…

And… to my own Valentine… Kathy ‘Zatanna’ Fishman… For making me the luckiest Unshaven Comic around. Love you sweetie!

Nebraska elementary school library lends Spider-Man graphic novel to six-year old

Nebraska elementary school library lends Spider-Man graphic novel to six-year old

Yeah, you better look over your shoulder, Spidey.

KETV, an Omaha, Nebraska TV station, recently aired a story about the mother of a 6-year-old boy who brought home a copy of a Spider-Man graphic novel from his elementary school in Millard Nebraska.  The book is J. Michael Straczynski’s Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2: Revelations, which was rated “PG, Ages 12+” by Marvel.  The report showed panels featuring John Romita Jr.’s art depicting Mary Jane in a bikini and a short skirt from Amazing Spider-Man #39, the "Nuff Said" issue.

Physha Svendsen, the mother of the boy at the center of this dispute, contends that the book is not age appropriate for elementary school students and wants it removed from the school library.  Donna Helvering, the school district’s head librarian, said that the school will form a committee to evaluate the complaint within 30 days and the committee will decide whether to keep the book on the school’s library shelves or not.

You can see the report for yourself at the KETV web site.