Tagged: Smallville

Marc Alan Fishman: “Dear Gotham…”

My dearest Gotham,

I saw that you prematurely showed yourself to the world. It’s OK to be a tease. I can forgive that. But I couldn’t help myself… I was a voyeur to your little show. What can I say? I like what you’re bringing to the table.

For starters, you’re what’s all the rage these days… what with the grim and gritty streets that threaten to be poisoned with rivers of blood. You’re chock full of seedy low-lifes, sexpots, and wealthy elites. Your soldiers are unshaven (which how could I not love?), morally ambiguous fighters looking to right wrongs by any means necessary. And at your heart? A unmoustachioed malcontent, ready to play by the rules,  for once, goddamnit! How could I not swoon over the possibilities!

That being said, I’m not without my reservations, kiddo. It seems like you’re awfully complex right out of the gate. While I know your generation is just chomping at the bit to show off, be wary. A slow burn works today too. Now, if you were a little less straight edge, I’d sooner see you look towards campuses like AMC, FX, or the ivy leagues like HBO and their ilk. But I get it. FOX is a good commuter school with tons of public transportation. What you’ll lack in creative classes, you’ll make up with exposure. And more eyes early in your career can’t be a bad thing – unless you’re light in the loafers. But I digress. It’s just that I care about you, Gotham, I do. And to see that you’re bringing so many of your friends to the party right out of the gate makes me think you’ll end up not being able to really enjoy everyone’s company. But I’ve been wrong before. Hell, ask your older brother Arrow.

What you need to know though is this: pay close attention to your cousin SHIELD. He tried to balance all his loose threads when he hit the scene, but it took some serious reevaluation of his mission before he really started coming into his own. Come to think of it, Arrow was much the same. Given what you showed the world already, I’m wanting you to do the best you can, and look to graduate on time. No need for a masters or doctorate, slick. Get in, do the work, and get out. Trust me, don’t be like your uncle Smallville. Sure he came on strong… but eventually he stayed too long at the party. It’s something for you to consider. And take heed in knowing no matter how much you slip up, you’ll never touch the depravity of your sister Birdy. I mean, it was over a decade ago, but people still won’t let her live it down! All you have to do is keep your pants clean, and mind your manners. Yeesh.

At the end of the day, I’m proud of you. You took a chance, and soon will be ready to let the world see you each and every week. Just stay true to yourself, take deep breaths between large thoughts, and be sure to keep us guessing what you’ll do next. Don’t go goth on us. Don’t have a sass-mouth. Respect your elders, and realize in our post modern world… we’ve likely seen it all, already. We don’t need you to reinvent the wheel so much as we need you to prove that you did your homework. Capisce?

All our love,

Momma and Papa Warner


The Point Radio: THE WRITER’S ROOM Opens Again

COMMUNITY’s Jim Rash is back in THE WRITER’S ROOM for another season, and he previews it all here for us including an episode dedicated exclusively to comic book shows. Plus Tyler Labine talks about his new paranormal comedy, DEADBEAT, which is ready for your binge watching and Thanos will pull the Marvel Universe closer together.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

John Ostrander: Up Against the Waller

It’s always interesting to see your children grow up. In my case I don’t have any flesh and blood children; I have the offspring of my imagination, of my heart and mind – the characters I’ve created in my stories, especially in my comics. By growing up, I mean seeing them in other media. And occasionally their sending money home.

In that regard, the most grown up of my offspring is, without a doubt, Amanda Waller, a.k.a. the Wall. She first appeared in the DC miniseries Legends but was created for my version of the Suicide Squad. For those of you who don’t know, the Suicide Squad was a covert team that Waller put together using jailed supervillains. They were sent on secret missions pursuing American governmental objectives and, if they succeeded and survived, they were set free or had their time significantly reduced. If they died – no loss. If they failed or were uncovered, they could be easily disavowed – hey, they were bad guys doing bad guy things.

Waller created this version of the Squad and was herself created to do that in the DCU. Len Wein and John Byrne are credited as co-creators since she first appeared in Legends but Amanda originated with me. (The same way that Tim Truman is, rightly, co-credited as GrimJack’s creator although the character also originated with me.) As conceived, Waller was middle-aged, black, heavy set, on the short side, and with no super-powers; just an iron will and a terminal bad attitude which is why her nickname is “the Wall”. I’ve always said that some aspect of the characters we write exist within us; it’s been pointed out to me that would mean that I have an angry middle aged black woman inside of me. Maybe I’m just channeling Tyler Perry.

She’s also one of my favorite characters to write; actually, I don’t so much write her as just take dictation and pay attention to where she wants to go. She gets the job done and doesn’t care what she has to do along the way; she is morally a gray character by design. Some think of her as an anti-hero; the site IGN listed as her 60th Greatest Comic Book Villain of all time. For my view, she’s not a villain but she is deeply flawed. Just the way I like my characters.

Waller has appeared all over the place – in video games, in animated series (Justice League Unlimited as one example), animated movies, television shows, and movies. I find seeing the different variations of her interesting and gratifying, especially financially. I have what is called “participation” with Amanda; DC licenses her out and I get a taste of the money that comes in because she was an original character. I don’t have the same deal with the Squad itself; there was an earlier version. Amanda, bless her, sends some money home every now and then.

Both Amanda’s appearance on Arrow and in the New 52 DC Universe is changed; rather than older, stouter, and shorter, she’s now model thin and young and, well, sexy. I’ve always thought of Amanda as many things but “sexy” was not one of them.

I don’t control what happens with Waller or where she goes or how she looks; she is owned by DC Entertainment and Warners. I knew that going in. She is their property. That said, I think the changes made in her appearance are misguided. There were and are reasons why she looked the way she did. I wanted her to seem formidable and visually unlike anyone else out there. Making her young and svelte and sexy loses that. She becomes more like everyone else. She lost part of what made her unique.

Still, I look forward to the Squad episode of Arrow and not only because of the eventual check that it will bring in. It’s interesting to see how your children turn out and to see how much of you is in them whether they are flesh and blood or just the children of your imagination.

REVIEW: Superboy: The Complete Fourth Season

superboy-season-4-dvd_500The Adventures of Superboy found its groove with the third season and a sense of stability was most welcome as the tone was consistent and the stories got stronger thanks to Stan Berkowitz and the increasing influence of DC editors Mike Carlin and Andy Helfer. Gerard Christopher as the title character had truly grown as a performer with time and Stacy Haiduk’s Lana Lang was every bit his match. As a result, things looked promising as production on the fourth season got underway in the summer of 1991.

However, the success of Batman in 1989 and that summer’s sequel, Batman Returns, meant there was fresh demand for super-heroes. DC Comics’ parent, Warner Bros., had already had limited success with The Flash on CBS and was looking to build. They needed Superman but that meant, in a bizarre twist, they filed suit against Alexander and Ilya Salkind to regain control of all elements stemming from the hero. ABC was interested in an adult Superman tale and didn’t want competition from a low-budget first-run syndicated series. So, as production continued, its death warrant was also being composed.

The final season is now available from Warner Archive and you can see what might have been had Lois & Clark not been on the drawing board. There are returning foes, longer stories with more two-parters than before and a sense that the boy was on the verge of becoming a man. Still assigned to the Bureau for Extra-Normal Matters, Clark and Lana are well positioned to stay atop of the bizarre happenings around the world – and beyond.

Berkowitz, accompanied by J.M. DeMatteis, write a hefty percentage of the season and are joined by Christopher himself, penning two episodes. One of them, “Cat and Mouse” gives Clark a promotion but nicely threatens his alter ego when he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation at the hands of perceptive guest star Erin Gray.

Bizarro (Barry Meyers)and Lex Luthor make repeated appearances this season, and Lex even partners with Metallo in “Threesome”, putting all of Smallville at risk. Bill Mumy’s Puck also appears twice in a nice turn but the most entertaining guest stars were found in “Paranoia” as Noel Neill and Jack Larson briefly return to the mythos. Carlin and Helfer wrote a few tales including one introducing the television incarnation of the Kryptonite Kid (David Carr). Fittingly, they also wrote the final two episodes, “Rites of Passage” that tie together several threads from the mythology and set the stage for an unrealized future.

Episodes 74-90 offer up some of the strongest material in this oft-forgotten series, and they’re worth a second look.

REVIEW: Arrow The Complete First Season

Arrow Season OneWhen originally conceived by editor Mort Weisinger, Green Arrow was merely a pale imitation of Batman, a stigma that wasn’t lifted until Bob Haney and Neal Adams revamped him more than twenty years later. As a result, his background and origins were largely static until the Green Arrow Year One miniseries where writer Andy Diggle posited that Oliver Queen wasn’t entirely alone on the island where he washed ashore after a boating accident. It was this fairly late revisionist history that appears to have become the new template as it continues to be used in the New 52 era and became the foundation for the CW smash hit Arrow.

Oddly, Green Arrow arrived on prime time first in Smallville (a tangential nod to Weisinger, who also guided the Teen of Steel’s adventures for the first few decades) and where Justin Hartley was a nice fit for that show, he was a little too pretty for this new take on the vigilante. The new show, returning for its second season in a few weeks, totally ignored all the mythology established in the other series and is forging a new path that is also designed to create a television universe as witnessed by the backdoor pilot for a Flash spinoff coming in November. And whereas Smallville started with the basic concepts introduced by Jerry Siegel back in the 1940s, it rapidly veered onto an original path to accommodate modern day audiences and an aging cast. By the end, the show barely resembled the source material.

Over the course of 23 episodes, Arrow started vaguely near the source material and continued to chart its own course further and further away. As a result, you can’t really compare the two as the new series now has no resemblance to the comic. That said, it makes for compelling television watching thanks to a strong writing staff anchored by Marc Guggenheim who has one foot in each world. He was aided by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, no slouches at television production although Kriesberg’s run as GA writer didn’t quite work.

Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was a shallow, stereotypical rich boy, playing fast and loose with women, living the highlife and refusing to accept the coming responsibilities of adulthood. Then came the disastrous boat accident where he watched his father take his own life to save Oliver’s and in so doing, passed on a book containing the names of sinners in Starling City. After a series of escapades that forged him from callow youth to super-hero, Queen has returned to his hometown to mete out justice.  His mother Moira (Susanna Thompson and sister Thea (Willa Holland), nicknamed Speedy; are delighted to see him but aren’t sure what to make of the man they barely recognize. Similarly, his lover, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy);, has to forgive him for cheating on her with her own sister, who also perished on the boat. Then there’s his best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), who has taken up his place in Laurel’s heart and has daddy issues of his own.

Arrow CastAn appealing cast with dark undertones makes this the quintessential CW show and a fun look at super-heroics. Queen’s journey is twice-told, first as the returning survivor turned vigilante and also through flashbacks as we watch him learn how to fight, think, and accept responsibility for one’s actions.

Dogging his heels is Laurel’s father, the nearly alcoholic Quentin (Paul Blackthorne), who also hates Oliver for the past and then there’s Tommy’s father (John Barrowman), who is a darker image of the green hooded hero and just as fast but deadlier.

Add in Queen’s bodyguard John Diggle (David Ramsey; yes, named after the writer), Felicity Smoak (the hot Emily Bett Rickards; lifted from Fury of Firestorm of all places), and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), you have numerous touches of the DC Universe present, elements to keep the pot stirring. The season also saw the mobster daughter turned vigilante Helena Bertinelli (Jessica De Gouw) and in a nod to the Mike Grell era, Shado (Celinas Jade) plus Deathstroke/Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett).

Week by week, we saw the soap opera antics of the civilian cast although, as the season passed, the civilian and costumed worlds grew closer until they formed a Venn diagram of where the trouble in Starling City truly lay. Names were crossed off and the law collected their share of criminals. But something was festering deeper, underneath the city and Queen had to piece the clues together before the Glades, a dangerous and poor section of the city was about to be destroyed. Friendships were formed or betrayed, alliances formed and perceptions altered. By the final episode, it was clear that the city needed a champion and Queen was the man fate had selected. Thankfully, he knew the loner approach wouldn’t work and has been forming a team that may be all that stands between a brighter future or a bleak outcome.

arrow-olicityThe box set comes with four Blu-ray discs and five DVDs along with codes for the Ultraviolet edition of the first season. The high def transfers are clean, crisp, and reproduce the darker tones of the series quite nicely. An episode guide is a handy touch.

As for extra, there are a handful that are more middle-of-the-road than anything special. You begin with a bunch of Unaired Scenes; the behind-the-scenes Arrow Comes Alive! (29:35) with cast and crew gushing over the creation process; Arrow: Fight School/Stunt School (18:53), shows how important the action and stunts sequences are plus how several were accomplished.

DC’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns hosts the 2013 Paleyfest (27:26) event where the Arrow: Cast and Creative Team talk about how they lifted elements from the source material and greater DCU along with how they adapted to fan buzz and turned Felicity from one-shot into a welcome regular; and, finally, there’s a brief Gag Reel (2:26).

REVIEW: The Adventures of Superboy Season Three

Superboy Season threeWhen last we visited Clark Kent and Lana Lang, they were at college, leaving Smallville behind and as Season Three of the syndicated series arrived, it came with changes. The first was that Superboy became The Adventures of Superboy and then the focus moved the characters from the well-named Shuster University to a quasi-internship at The Bureau for Extra-Normal Matters in Capitol City, Florida. Clearly, the actors were aging and the premise of them being in college stopped making sense, plus menace of the week stories was becoming tougher to make plausible on the static campus. The more plausible setting worked for super-heroes but certainly took something away from the civilian side of life, a similar issue plaguing Smallville in its latter seasons.

The third season, out now on DVD from Warner Archive, also brought the welcome removal of the annoying Andy McCalister, character, with actor Ilan Mitchell-Smith taking a curtain call in this season’s “Special Effects”. He was replaced in the cast with coworker Matt Ritter (Peter Jay Fernandez) and the Bureau chief C. Dennis Jackson (Robert Levine).

While there are certainly foreshadowing elements to the far more successful Smallville, the tone this season actually evokes memories of Robert Maxwell’s film nourish first season of The Adventures of Superman, which ran some thirty years earlier. Credit for this positive change, reflecting the adult reality the leads now found themselves, goes to producers Julia Pistor and Gerard Christopher, with DC Comics’ support and approval. Christopher, who inherited the cape the previous season, seems comfortable in the uniform and while no great actor, certainly was stalwart.

The thirty minute format remain inhibiting so character development was almost nil except when it played a role in the story such as “Rebirth” where Clark thought he took a life and hung up his cape. Every series has to explore alternate futures and this series honored that trope with both “Roads Not Taken” and “The Road to Hell”, the latter a fine two-parter with former Tarzan Ron Ely as an aging Man of Steel from a possible future.

On the other hand, several stories seemed mired in the past such as “Wish for Armageddon”, which felt like an antiquated Cold War story in the aftermath of the Berlin Wall’s collapse.

Luthor, Bizarro, and Metallo make return appearances as opponents while first timers included The Golem in a strong neo-Nazi story. Pa Kent (Stuart Whitman) turned up for an appearance, a reminder of when Clark’s life was simpler and dad was always there to guide the way.

Overall, it’s a stronger season than the preceding one, but also one that less resembled the comics fans wanted and appeared somewhat alien to the general audience, neither resembling the comics or the film series.

The transfers are fine overall and the made-to-order 26 episode, three-disc set comes without any bonus features.

REVIEW: Superboy the Complete Second Season

D500Alexander and Ilya Salkind had sold Superman to the Golan-Globus Group/Cannon but wisely retained the rest of the family including Superboy. Thanks to Star Trek: The Next Generation pioneering first run syndication in 1987, the Salkinds realized the Teen of Steel would be perfect. Looking to produce this on the cheap, they set up shop in Florida, hired science fiction hack Fred Freiberger to produce and hired a slate of newcomers to fill the iconic roles of Clark Kent, Ma and Pa Kent, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor, et. al. The series debuted in 1988 with 25 episodes and was pretty laughable stuff. Freiberger was past his sell-by date and the Salkinds didn’t know how to handle the half-hour drama format.

Still, the ratings from the 95% of the country the series reached were strong enough to keep them going. However, changes needed to be made. Freiberger was shoved out and Salkind favorite Cary Bates stopped writing comics to become Executive Story Consultant with Mark Jones.  John Haymes Newton was asked to return the cape rather than give him a salary bump. Gerard Christopher, a more nuanced actor, became the last son of Krypton and thankfully had nice chemistry with Stacy Haiduk’s Lana. Also out was the character of TJ White with Andy McAlister the new comic relief. As performed by Ilan Mitchell-Smith, his scenes are cringe-worthy.

Superboy and Lana

As a result, the second season, out now from Warner Archive, is a far stronger, more satisfying collection of 26 episodes. Contained on three discs, this stripped down collection comes complete with bumpers and coming attractions but no other extra features. The transfers are nice and clean so with the series never having been rerun in the States, this is your chance to check it out.


Along with Bates, the team of Andy Helfer and Mike Carlin moved from vetting the scripts to writing more than a few. With Denny O’Neil also back for more and Bates penning a bunch, there was a definite stronger feeling to the stories and characters. With less than thirty minutes to tell a story using the regulars and guest stars, there’s very little in the way of depth or character development. As a result, the brilliant approach to Clark Kent slowly mastering his powers and coming to grips with his responsibility as seen in Smallville is all but absent here. Instead, the fully function hero is merely a younger version of Superman as he faces off with the adult’s rogues gallery including Metallo and Bizarro. Salkind and Bates teamed up for a pair of stories with Dracula while Bates plucked the Yellow Peri from Action Comics for a tale. O’Neill brought back Mr. Mxyzptlk and as portrayed by Michael J. Pollard, is more slacker than imp.

There’s a loose continuity episode to episode, beginning with season opener as Sherman Howard went bald as Luthor, replacing the previous season’s Scott Wells. His threat hangs over the beginning of the season and comes back later on while Dracula and others add a bit of spine to the stories. A highlight for this season is the appearance of Britt Ekland and George Lazenby, claiming to be Lara and Jor-El, still alive. This two-parter from Bates and Jones is emotionally compelling in ways many of the other episodes are not.

Given the Florida shooting, noteworthy guest performers were few and far between so beyond those two, Keye Luke and Gilbert Gottfried (as the mischievous Nick Knack) are as noteworthy as it gets.

The regulars all look too old for their college setting and Haiduk’s ‘80s hair does not age well but there’s a lot more charm the second time around and it’s well worth a look.

Emily S. Whitten: Dress for Success, Superheroine Style

Whitten Art 130212Remember that time when Lois Lane dressed up as one of the most ridiculously named superheroines I’ve ever heard of on Smallville? And that superheroine was named “Stiletto” because at the time when she beat up a dude who was mugging Chloe, she happened to be wearing stilettos? And then she needed to find a way to draw out “the Blur,” (a.k.a. the non-Superman Superman of Smallville) so she used that incident to create a superheroine persona that wore a leather bustier and super-high stiletto boots, and then almost got her ass handed to her (despite being, really, pretty kick-ass for a normal gal). Yeah, that was a pretty silly episode. (And on a related note, I swear it’s just happenstance that I’ve started my last two columns by reminiscing about Superman shows. Next week, I promise I’ll reminisce about a different show. Or something.)

Anyway, despite being silly, I got to thinking about it recently, after some discussion about how female superheroines are dressed in comics. Let’s say I lived in a comic-book world, where I was, e.g., a lawyer by day and a superheroine by night. What would that be like? Well, first, I’d be really good friends with Matt Murdock and Jennifer Walters, because of course. (Man, we would have the most awesome happy hours ever.) Second, I’d have to pick a costume. And really, I feel like that wouldn’t be an easy task. I mean, in part it would depend on what kind of superheroine I was, e.g. what powers I had; but let’s say for the sake of general thought that at the very least my style of superheroine fighting would require athletic moves, as most do. What would I wear? And in comparison with what we see in comics, would it, or even could it, look “sexy,” as most supeheroines do, while still being practical? Let’s “give it a think,” as Winnie the Pooh would say.

Undergarments: Yes, I’m going to start with this, and here’s why: 1) Well, obviously, we’re talking about all the practicalities of superheroine-ing, and that includes everything from the inside out; and 2) I’ve seen so many comics in which a superheroine is fighting and there’s a lot more wear-and-tear than you’d expect from just a physical fight, and then, voila! Clothes are ripped and we can see, omg! their unmentionables! (Or, you know, sometimes they just go out to fight crime with one boob hanging out. Sure, why not?)

Well; if I was going to be running around trying to karate-kick (or whatever kick) thugs and stuff, I’d definitely wear something comfortable underneath. And it is possible to wear comfortable underwear that’s still pretty or cute; but for any of those superheroines out there who I’ve seen drawn wearing even somewhat skimpy panties under their costumes – well, all I can say is, those ladies’ superpowers must include the power to fight wedgies. At the very least I’d be wearing underpants that cover and stay on my butt; and in all likelihood, as a superheroine my new favorite thing would end up being boyshorts. Also, for any artists out there who are drawing superheroines wearing thongs? AHAHAHAHA. *snort* Right.

Likewise, if I had plans to be backflipping all over, or hanging upside-down, or elbowing baddies, or pretty much anything involving gymnastics or a physical fight, the last thing you’d be seeing is my cleavage. I mean, who can spare the concentration to worry about flashing the world when you’re trying to save it? Also, low-cut shirts are an easy thing for someone to catch onto or snag during a fight – yikes! Despite her other hilarious costume choices, Ms. Marvel has it right when it comes to the practicalities of how much cleavage I’d want to worry about while I was fighting. (Power Girl! You were so close to having a practical top! What happened?? Oh yeah. Dudes.)

I’d also want to wear something very breathable, unless one of my superpowers was not sweating. So that means goodbye to all of the heavily padded “Wonderbra” type things that would boost cleavage to the level seen on most superheroines (and if that’s all natural, then whoo-boy, the back problems those ladies must have!). One of my friends who grew up in Florida once compared those bras to “wearing two warm wet sponges” when it’s hot outside, and she’s not wrong. Maybe I’d opt for a little padding so the world wouldn’t take notice every time it’s cold outside, but probably the very “sexiest” thing I’d try out as a fighting superheroine is a sports bra like this, which is what you get when you cross a “sexy” lingerie store with an attempt to be practical. And even that has underwire, which is not super-comfortable in athletic situations, so my likely favorite would be something like this. (P.S. Sports bras don’t usually have lace on them. Sorry, dudes.)

Pants and Top: I actually think in most fight situations, a tightly tailored costume would be beneficial. It means less clothing to get caught on stuff; easy movement; and comfort, particularly if you’re wearing a breathable material, e.g. cotton spandex instead of something like bathing-suit material (though that probably holds up better and shows perspiration less). Spandex isn’t super-durable, though. If I had something like Supergirl’s physical invincibility, which supposedly extends to at least form-fitting clothes, then sure, the protection of spandex might be all I’d need; but if I was less-than-invulnerable, I’d probably want at least a few layers, and/or some padding around the joints; or maybe some leather, like motorcycle riders wear, if I could make it flexible enough. If I was less of a gymnast and more of a heavy fighter, I might even go for some sort of flexible body armor, like Batman.

I’d say there would be a range of decent choices for design here, as long as it: 1) covered and provided some protection for all exposed skin, unless invulnerable; or 2) If invulnerable, was still comfortable to fight in, so no unitards (wedgie problems again, as well as the worry about flashing everyone, for reals). The closest I’d go is spandex shorts to, like, mid-thigh. Or, if I absolutely had to wear a unitard, I’d at least wear tights or hose underneath. Also, let’s be frank, us ladies don’t shave our legs every single day ever, and crime waits for no beauty regimen. So even as Supergirl I might prefer something that covers my legs.

Oh, and I might opt for a belt of some sort, both a) to stave off butt cleavage; and b) for pouches, because seriously, as much as we make fun of comic book characters with myriad pouches sometimes, where else would I keep my weapons, grappling hook (because of course I’d have a grappling hook), communication and/or time-telling devices, and other necessaries (deodorant might be welcome, if I’m constantly fighting)? I might even go for a leg sheath too, if I were a guns-and-knife-y sort of gal. (Ooh – or maybe boots with leg knife sheathes! Rad.) If no pouches, or maybe in addition to them, I’d probably have zip-pockets sewn in all over the place, pants and shirt.

In the tops department, I’d go for full coverage unless I was invulnerable; and if I was, again, Ms. Marvel had the right idea for necklines. Oh, and I’d never, ever, ever wear a corset or bustier of any sort, unless my super-powers were being able to not breathe while exerting myself, and winning fights without bending too much in the middle. I’d also never, ever wear a cape, no matter how cool it might look if I could fly, because hello – how seriously easy is it to get tangled up in something like that, not to mention baddies literally yanking you around? (The exception being, I guess, Batman-types, who actually use the capes to fly, and even then I’d want it to, like, retract into a pouch or something.) I’d probably also opt for some good short, tight leather fingerless gloves with velcro wrist-adjusters and grip on the palms, especially if I was a climber or gymnast-y type fighter.

Shoes: No heels, no way. Hell no. Or, to be more precise – up to maybe 3/4 to 1 inch of a sneaker-style heel could be acceptable, but there would be no stiletto or spike heels, no square heels, no narrow-heeled wedge heels, etc. A short wedge that was wide and actually designed for stuff like fighting and running could be acceptable, I guess (it’d have to be tested). A low platform also might work. (Although of course, both of those options would be solely for the vanity/fashion desires of the superheroine, since I can’t see either of them being a fighting advantage). But again, short and low means like, 0.75 to maybe 1.25 inches, which is a lot lower in appearance than most comics artists realize. Even flying superheroines wouldn’t really be exempt from this, because they don’t do all of their fighting in the air, and they’d still need to keep their balance and speed while kicking someone or running on the ground.

If I was a superheroine that ran a lot or fought like a martial artist, I might actually want something closer to racing flats, Puma Speed Cats, or the like (racing flats are so nice to run in). I’d also want rubber soles with excellent grip (and maybe hidden knives in the heels if I did have thick soles, because knives in the heels. So cool. As far as a question of boots or sneakers, I actually might prefer boots with a soft but flexible leg – for more ankle support, as well as more leg and ankle protection. And I’d definitely get some good breathable athletic socks that stayed up and had arch support.

Accessories: Along with the aforementioned pouches, I’d definitely have my hair either very short, just long enough to stay in a short ponytail (a cut at about shoulder-length, maybe?), or in a bun at all times. As someone who’s done sports with hair that’s not super-short but too short to really tie back, and hair that was long enough to sit on, I know how annoying hair in your face/mouth/eye can be; and that doesn’t even consider it being a really convenient thing for people to grab in fights. No no, my superheroine hair would not be flying everywhere. A neat bun, perfect short ponytail, or super short ‘do is the only way to go. Barring or on top of that, I might opt for a skullcap, or similar tight hat, or a bandana like Elektra wears (but with all of my hair actually inside, and no flowing ribbons to catch on things).

If I was the sort to need to hide my face and keep my secret identity, I actually like the style of Black Canary on Smallville, where she paints a mask of elaborate makeup on as opposed to wearing a mask. She also has short hair and wears a wig in regular life, which is quite practical. Well done there, Smallville. Makeup is super time-consuming, though, so I might also have a fitted demi-mask to throw on as needed. Or, seriously, a ski mask-style thing. keeps the hair and identity under wraps!

And with that, I’d be (hopefully, somewhat) practically fitted out to go fight crime! And now we are back to the question, how “sexy” would I be? Well, I’d have low-to-no heels, and no cleavage or skin flashing. I’d also be lacking the flowing hair worn by so many superheroines, and maybe be wearing a cap or even a ski mask (and those things are ugly). Pretty much, I’d be Batman. I would, however, probably be wearing tight clothes. So I guess that’s, like, one sexy point in favor of practical costuming? But more importantly than any of that, I’d be comfortable, incognito, and giving myself the best advantages for winning the day and staying alive; and I have to think for most superheroines, those would be the most important considerations.

Looking at how superheroines dress in comics today, I occasionally see evidence that character and costume designers have at least thought of some practicalities; but I also see many egregious examples of “this would never happen in real life, wow.” And I see an imbalance in the practicality of design for male vs. female heroes. I’m not an idiot, or an unreasonable person – I know comics are for looking at, and people want to look at nice things; and superheroines having at least some prettiness or sex appeal is (almost always) inevitable. And that can be okay; I like looking at nice things, too. I also understand that for some heroines, invulnerability or other powers change the costume metric. But I do think it’s great when I see at least some thought being put into what it would really be like to be a superheroine, rather than just “what I want to look at.” And since male professional creators in comics still greatly outweigh female creators and can’t know what it’s like to actually live in female bodies and wear women’s’ clothes…maybe my little foray into musing about practical superheroine-ing will actually be helpful to someone. And if not…well, if I create a superheroine, now at least I know what she’ll be wearing!

Until next time, dress for success and Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis Does The Sgt. Pepper Rag

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and The Nerddom Intelligentsia


Emily S. Whitten: What I’m Watching – Arrow

I love TV shows, but sometimes I’m terrible at keeping up with them. As with comics, I tend to skip a few weeks and then mainline three or four episodes in a row, mostly because I hate getting just a tiny bit of story and character interaction and then waiting a whole week for more. Impatience is one of my little flaws, and the mandatory waiting is made more bearable if I get a miniseries collection of stories first.

However, given that it’s often harder (or more inconvenient) to find and watch back episodes of current shows, this fall I did take note of two shows I was excited about and wanted to actually try to keep up with, one of which is Arrow, the new CW show about Green Arrow. So far, I’m succeeding. Go me!

I always try to give a new show at least two episodes to decide what I think of it. Sure, a pilot is supposed to grab you and draw you in, but sometimes it takes even a potentially good show a couple of tries to establish a balance (and sometimes it takes half of a season and by the time they’ve worked out the kinks the show’s canceled. I’m looking at you, Dresden Files). For instance, during the first episode of Dexter I was unsure of whether my long-time friend had been insulting my character or serious when he’d said “Oh, you’d love Dexter. It’s about a serial killer!” but by episode two I’d realized that he was absolutely right and I wanted to see more. We’ve had two episodes of Arrow so far, so I feel like I’ve given it a fair shot and it’s time for a frank assessment. So here we go!

 (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)

The storyline is centered around Oliver Queen immediately after his return from a yacht wreck and five years marooned on The Island that Makes a Man Out of Him – or a Future Vigilante, whatever. He returns to Star(ling) City to discover that his mom has married the CEO of his dad’s company, his sister Thea’s a recreational drug user, and his best friend Tommy Merlyn’s a slightly smarmy partier – which apparently means he’s the one person who hasn’t changed at all in five years. Ollie’s ex-girlfriend, now-lawyer (Dinah) Laurel Lance, is mad he’s not dead because her sister Sarah died on the yacht because Ollie was cheating on Laurel with her. Classy!

Pretty much from the first moment Ollie arrives back in the city, he begins his purposeful transformation to (Green) Arrow with his stated (literally stated, in an Intense Voiceover) mission being to take down a list of corrupt people his dad told him about who have ruined the city.

Even in the comics, Green Arrow bears a lot of superficial similarities to Batman; but in this show, it’s obvious that they’re actually trying to channel Christopher Nolan’s Batman in particular. Ollie hides behind a more shallow “playboy” persona that he switches on in public so people won’t suspect his vigilante skills and activities; he’s most genuinely affectionate towards the household staff (which plays weirdly here, since it doesn’t seem like either his mother or sister are heinous people at this point); and he magically sets up a fully stocked and wired Arrow-cave with what are apparently two Bags of Holding containing computers, lights, weaponry, and an entire exercise setup.

The problem with all this, though, is that it’s done so quickly. In the Batman movies there’s a clear progression and motivation behind everything Bruce Wayne does to make himself into Batman, and we get to savor the transformation of an ordinary man into a superhero. In this show, it’s like they’re rushing to get the setup out of the way and don’t bother to appreciate what’s so cool about a superhero’s origin, or to go through the reasoning for his behavior. Which is puzzling, because if you’re going to have ridiculously dramatic voiceovers in your show, what better way to use them than to say things like, “I had to pretend to be something I’m not – a shallow, callous party boy – so people wouldn’t suspect the truth.” I can just hear Stephen Amell intoning that now. (Although hopefully he’d stop short of saying, “I also had to don a green hood of vigilante-ism. Because I cannot complete my mission as Oliver Queen. But as a symbol…as a symbol I can be incorruptible; everlasting…”)

Okay, I’m making a big deal about the Nolan parallels; and it could be argued that those movies redefined certain types of superhero cinema, and naturally a serious superhero show might resemble them. But there are actual shots in Arrow that are so cinematically similar to those movies that I can’t think it’s remotely a coincidence, and they’re a little too on-the-mark to be enjoyed as homages.

For instance, in the pilot we get a scene with the head bad guy sitting in a car looking scared as Arrow takes out his men just outside – a la Carmine Falcone at the docks in Batman Begins. And in episode two we get the previous part of that same Batman scene, when a different head bad guy looks around in fright as an unseen person starts taking out his men around him with projectiles in a warehouse-like area (a la the Batarang striking the light bulb and the ensuing mayhem in the movie). And that’s just a couple of examples. Let’s not even get started on things like Tommy driving Ollie into the bad part of the city (does that make Tommy Rachel Dawes?) and the dedication of an applied sciences building in episode two.

I’m not saying that stealing a few pages from Nolan’s playbook is a bad idea; in fact, I think it could be really enjoyable to watch. But as I said, here…everything is so rushed. It’s like they were in this huge hurry to slot every family member, friend, and piece of Arrow’s persona into place so they could get down to the nitty-gritty plot of the show. Which would be okay, except that so far, the plot isn’t a plot, it’s a…routine? I’m not sure what else to call it. Other than all of the establishing information (including the shipwreck and island flashbacks), if I had to sum up what has happened in real time so far, it would be: Queen goes after someone on his Bad Guy list and makes them pay somehow that involves trick arrows; Laurel is involved because she’s a lawyer who fights against the Bad Guys in court; and Detective Harry-Dresden Lance gets involved either because of his daughter or Arrow or both, which makes me happy because so far, he’s my favorite part of the show. (Seriously, I love Paul Blackthorne as Detective Lance so far, and I really loved him as Harry Dresden. Can you tell?)

And… that’s it. Sure, there’s ongoing character drama – sister Thea is alternately begging Ollie to let her in and angry at him for judging her, and the interactions between the two, while not always logical, are pretty well done. Mommy Queen is now married to his dad’s old friend, and is apparently in the midst of Evil Doings but still loves her son… maybe. Ollie and Laurel are back-and-forth about where their relationship is (and their interactions are probably the best part of the show so far, because actress Katie Cassidy, whom I last saw as Ruby in Supernatural, is killing it as Laurel). Meanwhile, there’s some undefined nonsense going on with Laurel and Merlyn; and Laurel and her dad have fights about The Right Way to Do Right. It’s all potentially interesting, but somehow the interesting moments are so disconnected that they turn into background noise for Ollie’s quest; and so far, Ollie’s quest is boring.

To compare: while Smallville, the last CW show to feature Green Arrow, was often goofy and sometimes entered downright “WTF?” territory, the same zaniness that allowed for total mis-steps like “Lana becomes a vampire for an episode” also allowed for stuff like Red-K Clark partying and knocking over banks in Metropolis, and Ollie leading a young Justice League into Lex Luthor’s evil labs and blowing them up; and seriously? That was kind of awesome. There were some really fun plots that only happened because the fictional world was wide open to stuff like Lois & Clark somehow getting sucked into the Phantom Zone via both simultaneously touching Clark’s Fortress crystal which had just been anonymously mailed to him. All in a day at the Kent farm, as it were.

In that universe, which features a different take on Green Arrow’s core personality (and one that I grew to appreciate despite his clunky introductory scenes), somehow Green Arrow targeting Bad Dudes and giving their money to charity managed to be both not boring and not the only thing we were supposed to be invested in. Ollie in Smallville had heart, a certain playfulness despite his tragic past, and, frankly, more firmness of purpose than Clark a lot of the time. Despite the Smallville-ian costume Arrow dons here, however, this character is pretty dour (too much firmness of purpose?), and while I get that he’s supposed to be suppressing his emotions for his mission, I miss the heart that the Smallville character had. Even when he was in pain and being a jackass about it, you felt for him and could understand why his friends would rally together to help him, as they did more than once. I don’t find that here.

I guess I’m having a bit of trouble collating how I feel about Arrow overall, because I’m torn between how much I really wanted to like it (especially given all of the good advance reviews) and my thoughts when watching it. Despite my criticisms above, there are some good pieces to this puzzle; but it seems like all of the pieces I might enjoy are jumbled in with each other in a way that makes it hard to enjoy any of them or put together a coherent picture. The good pieces include the aforementioned interactions between certain characters; Tommy Merlyn as the comic relief; the fun little nerd references to Andy Diggle, Mike Grell, and Deathstroke; Amell, who is gaining traction in a more nuanced portrayal of Oliver by episode two, and is plenty pretty for a CW show (it’s a requirement, dontchya know) and impressively fit (the salmon ladder exercise in the pilot is memorable); the flashbacks to the wreck (and Sarah’s whooshing out to sea, which was very well done); the trick arrows (I like how they’re modernized into technology arrows); and the Lance family (really I’d watch a whole show about the Lance family, as played by Blackthorne and Cassidy, and am thinking right now that maybe the network should have gone with that).

But there are also jarringly bad notes, like the over-the-top (and sometimes unnecessary) voiceovers; some not-stellar dialogue (“What…happened to you on that island?” “A lot.”); and the fact that Oliver Queen, Our Hero, cold killed a dude by straight-up breaking his neck (after presumably killing another dude by putting him in the way of about fifteen bullets to the chest). This happens in the pilot, when Ollie and Tommy are abducted so that some mysterious person (Ollie’s mom, as it turns out) can learn if his dad told him about all the Bad Guys in Star(ling) City. And I get that Ollie is in danger here, since the thugs Ollie’s mom hired are spraying bullets everywhere in a way that would have killed anyone who wasn’t trained to escape them (and since Ollie’s mom doesn’t know about his bad-assedness, that really makes me wonder about her); but still – he kills the guy in cold blood, just because the dude saw him do some sweet parkour and martial arts. I feel like this isn’t very heroic, you know? Also it’s uneven writing, because after that, he purposely doesn’t kill any more bad dudes (even the really bad ones specifically named in his book), instead “bringing them to justice.” Hm.

Taken all together, I would have liked to see a lot more of Ollie progressing from “traumatized guy with a purpose” to “full on superhero,” rather than the rushed bits we get here. Hell, I’d probably watch at least a half-season of just that. Instead of trying to pull every thread of his life together at once, I think if the show had focused in on Ollie, slowly drawing in and examining his interactions with others, I might already have become more invested. I also think that if they threw some challenges in Ollie’s quest path, instead of making it seem like each week he’ll just knock another name off of his list, no problem, I’d be more eager to watch.

As it is, the flashbacks have been interesting, the nerd references are fun, and there have been some snippets of good character interaction. What will keep me watching (for a few more episodes at least) is mainly my appreciation for seeing any adaptation of a superhero to a major network show; my love of the nerdy bits they throw in here and there; my appreciation of The Pretty (hey, Amell’s abs and chiseled looks are impressive); my interest in the Lance family; and my hope that the show is going to jump to a more surprising trajectory than it’s on now, and hopefully get better.

…So I guess I’ll keep watching and see how Arrow does next week, and until then, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis? Really?

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Gets Mad, For A Change

Martha Thomases: TV or Hot TV

When I was a girl, back in the Stone Age, September was a big, big deal. School started, so we got new clothes. There were new model cars in the showroom.

(Here’s a joke from those days: What are the three holiest days in the Jewish Calendar? Rosh Hashonah, Yom Kippur, and September 29. What’s September 29? The day the new Cadillacs come out. I love that joke. I think it’s kind of anti-Semitic, but it makes me laugh. Also, I’ve only heard it told by other Jews.)

Most important to childhood me was the new television season. After a summer of re-runs, the three major networks would launch new shows. TV Guide would explain what the new series were about, and what changes were coming to keep the old shows fresh. It was so exciting!

Today, now so much. As this article reports, new shows premiere all the time, and, of course, there are many more than three television networks offering them.

And if you can’t watch a show when it airs, you don’t have to wait until the rerun comes around. You can record it on the DVR (which I still refer to as “taping” because I’m old. Sometimes I say “icebox”). You can watch it on On-Demand stations on cable, or on Hulu or other Internet sites.

You don’t even have to be home. You can watch on your phone, or your tablet.

It should be a golden age, but I find it causes me stress. Instead of making me feel safe, like I can actually live my life the way I want, I feel like I can’t keep up.

For example, on Sundays, there are currently four shows I want to watch between 8 PM and 11 PM. Two are on HBO, which means I can watch them at anytime either On Demand or on HBO Go. One is on a broadcast network, so I can “tape” it or, if I can stand commercials, On Demand. One is on BBC-America, and their On Demand is kind of dicey, so I tend to “tape.”

On Monday, there are also four shows I like, plus I’m out of the house for a part of prime time. More on the DVR.

Tuesdays are also packed, but a lot of what I like are the sit-coms, which tend to be 30 minutes and not 60, spit’s easier to find the 20 minutes of free time. And then, Wednesday there is hardly anything I like (at least so far). I can catch up.

Because if I don’t, Thursdays and Fridays are also clogged. If we come around to Sunday again and I haven’t watched any of the shows from the previous week, I’m behind. Aaaah!

(Also, back in the day, there weren’t continuing plot lines from one week to the next. You could watch a show without having seen any before it, and still figure out who the characters were, or what was going on.)

There’s a lot I’m curious about this year. Will Elementary be good enough to survive in a world that already has Sherlock? I hope so, because I have loved Jonny Lee Miller since Hackers, and it’s not his fault he’s not Benedict Cumberbatch. I have hopes for Vegas because The Big Easy is my idea of a sexy film. Fringe is back for a real conclusion, and all will be revealed.

As a geek, I’m also excited about the CW’s Arrow. The lead is really cute. It looks like they’re keeping a lot of what made the comic book fun (archery, riches, Dinah). They’ve added a mother, and I’m hoping she is not a harpy, but a way to add depth to Oliver Queen, at least through conversation. Did I mention the cute lead?

Recent television shows based on comics have a mixed track record. While I kind of liked

Birds of Prey because I have loved Barbara Gordon in every form, the series only lasted 13 episodes. Smallville did much better, perhaps because it, too, had a cute guy in the lead role.

I sense a trend.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman