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I’ve been having a pretty great conversation with a friend of mine over on the Twitters regarding the Avengers vs. X-Men thingamadoohickey, especially with regards to how it looks like it will be dealing with women, and it’s re-opened an old brain-wound. I just can’t stop myself from poking at it over and over.
To start with, this is the article my buddy showed me. Interesting food for thought, to be sure - especially when you start thinking about some of the implications and potential pitfalls into which Bendis may potentially misstep.
But I’ll leave the discussion of these two nigh-omnipotent redheads and all the implications therein (male gaze/male fear/Mary Sue/WHAT WAIT IS THAT A GIANT VAGINA?/all that jazz) to someone else. TBH, I’ve never taken to either character much for one reason or another (Greg Land’s pornification of Hope has certainly not made me want to read her stories, to be sure). Really, the Hope/Wanda as Eve thing really only got me thinking about other stuff.
As a girl growing up in the ‘80’s* and reading comics and devouring all the Saturday Morning action cartoons I could find, I noticed a recurrent theme: so many of the women in these settings I so enjoyed seemed to keep getting variations on the same set of powers.
Y’all see where this is going?
Now, I know that this is a limited list, and I know that there are a lot, and I mean A LOT of non-psychokinetic/telepathic female characters out there; there are women in these worlds who are unrepentantly, gloriously physical. Big Barda, Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, Rogue.
But there were so many more, it seemed to little-kid-me, whose powers either forced or allowed them some distance from the enemy (to save their pretty faces, perhaps?). Even without any kind of mental powers, women were firing off explosives (Jubilee), letting things pass through them and vice versa (Kitty Pryde), were too small to hit (Wasp). The cartoon version of Spider-Woman didn’t use super strength much, instead employing a number of evasive techniques; G.I. Joe’s Covergirl specialized in armor, Lady Jaye in counterintelligence, Baroness in (I guess regular?) intelligence (not that many of the Joes specialized in hand-to-hand, but at least the boys got big flamethrowers and stuff).
The Glasses are to show you she’s the Intelligence Officer
I don’t see this as much anymore, maybe because we’ve added so many heroes to these universes that we risk duplicating powers and becoming boring. It’s certainly due to the new generation of writers giving women active roles instead of passive, damsel-in-distress stuff (e.g. the outspoken and talented Gail Simone). I’m almost positive that I see the distinction less now because I’ve been reading more DC books than Marvel, of late, and the latter seems to use the “hands off the pretty lady” trope more than the former in all time periods.
But anyway, I remember thinking (and still notice) that male characters are more often than not assigned powers that manifest physically and bodily, while women are heroic for using their minds and not risking their pretty faces. And that gets me back to where we started. My buddy tossed out the off-hand comment
Hope … feel[s] like she’s being written like she’s Cable with red hair
And yeah. I think, in the wrong hands, she absolutely could be written like that, but in this “don’t hit the girl” equivalent. Inasmuch as Cable is all preposterous anatomy and even more preposterous weaponry and male power fantasy/Id taken to the Nth degree, Hope could be viewed as the sweet, pretty, petite flip side - all the limitless power on the inside of a package that you can’t touch (thanks to taking on abilities like that of Armor, for example) - like a male projection of what the ideal superwoman would be: young, hot, vulnerable, uberpowerful, but not physically threatening. In the wrong hands, she could be what a dude would imagine a woman’s power fantasy would be (“Nothing to mess up my looks, thanks, but I’d like to be able to fuck shit up on a regular basis without having to run in these heels.”)
But that’s not what I’m HOPE-ing for in AvX. I’ve seen examples of some excellent writing with the character so far******, and I’ve been enjoying the heck out of Bendis’ turn on Ultimate Spider-Man.
So I guess I’m, well, I’m HOPEful.
How about you?
* YES. I’m OLD.
**No picture available. Do you know how hard it is to google “Sue Storm” or “Invisible Woman” and not find some fucking awful cheesecake bullshit picture? IT’S FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE.
***See Sue Storm.
****See Sue Storm. Again. FUCK. This one was particularly gross. And got me thinking that there’s a whole ‘nuther topic of conversation here. The only one of these female heroes to NOT be degraded to a naked, chest-heaving sex object was the one POC. FUCK YOU, GEEK-DUDES, YOU ARE SICK, RACIST, ASSHOLES.
*****As before, DO NOT Google Hope Summers and think you won’t see a bunch of sexual images. Because you will. :(
******Remember what I said about Greg Land? Yeah. So far, just having seen his “art” for this character has been enough to keep me from reading anything with her in it at all.
In case the point hasn’t been made clear enough, or you thought I wasn’t serious, I cried when I looked at this comic in the store today. I actually cried. And this was only after seeing the cover. It was embarrassing, but I was near hysterical.
I was actually holding it together until my friend pointed out to me that they used the same “Harley Quinn” font on the cover as they used for the Harley Quinn trade.
But without further ado, a write-as-I-read account of:
By Adam Glass
Art by Clayton Henry
The issue starts off with characters we’ve never seen before (and Deadshot) floating in an alleyway, marveling at Harley Quinn’s speeding (and dumb looking) getaway.
“Wow…she’s really fast for a clown.” Says Blond Mystery Twin #1.
“What does that even mean?” Blond Mystery Twin #2, voicing the incredulity of the reader. What does it mean, Adam Glass? Why even write that as a piece of dialog? It’s not funny, and pointing it out doesn’t make it meta or tongue-in-cheek. Why even say it? It doesn’t even make sense
Deadshot thinks it means that Harley Quinn is “chumping” them (his words, not mine) and:
“This being Gotham City, the more we’re gonna attract attention.”
There is no amount of context that makes this sentence grammatically acceptable.
The next panel reveals the Mystery Twins as the supervillains “Light and Lime!” (And they appear to be closer to redheads than blondes.) Or, excuse me, Lime and Light! Oh, what a pun(?). Except…They’re introduced with their names out of order. Why!? And what does Limelight have to do with them anyway!?
And by “reveals,” I mean, “I still don’t know who these bozos are or why I should care.”
With a crazed, yet miraculously vacant expression,
Lime wonders to her sister(?) that perhaps a fight with the famous Batman will make them famous! So is their schtick that they want to get famous? Is that the whole “limelight” thing? I…that doesn’t even matter— they bigger question is: they really want to fight The Batman?? His whole schtick is that he scares the PISS out of villains. You want to avoid Batman if you can, especially if you’re C-List nobodies that got their asses handed to them by Green Arrow.
Yeah, in that one.
And then Deadshot calls them “The Twitter Twins” because he’s hip with the times, and we’re actually not even done with the second page of this comic.
So then Savant shoots Harley wait what
Savant?? THAT’S SAVANT??? Why is he wearing The Punisher’s skull symbol on his face? Where’d all his hair go? What’s with the dumb costume??
How did he manage to shoot before Deadshot?Shooting is Deadshot’s schtick!
Deadshot berates Savant for letting Harley run away with a shoulder wound instead of a leg wound to slow her down, and Savant awkwardly plays it off as though he did that on purpose, with an edgy “I like to play with my food before I kill it.”
Wait stop right there.
I think you’re mixing metaphors, Adam Glass. Or something.
“Play with my food” is full of figurative language, and then suddenly you switch to a literal “before I kill it.” Well, unless he actually plans on eating Harley, but that sorta seems more like King Shark’s territory. He could’ve referred to her as “prey” or something; is that what he meant? Is Savant supposed to sound awkward and gawky?
Ignoring Savant’s newfound stupidity (oh Savant you once went toe-to-toe with Oracle, what have they done to you), Adam Glass makes a “subtle” reference to either Savant’s homosexual relationship with Creote in Birds of Prey, or the amusing sexual tension between Deadshot and Catman in Secret Six, or both.
OH, YOU’RE SO CLEVER, ADAM
LOOK AT YOU, YOU’VE READ COMICS
Both of those relationships were nurtured and honed by Gail Simone; Adam Glass, I can’t tell if this is some sort of misguided hero-worship thing you’re doing here, or if you actually really, really hate her. (Why would you do that? She’s so nice.)
At the top of page three, we’ve been transported to the year 2000, when e-mail was still culturally relevant.
(I like to believe that “honk” is the noise Harley’s feet make every time they hit the ground.)
The Squad checks in with a itty-pretty Amanda Waller, and the editorial staff encourages us to “Check out Stormwatch #6 on sale now!” You can’t fool me, Editorial! I may have picked up this crappy comic, but you can’t shill that sob-worthy fireplace fodder to me! I already jumped that sinking ship!
But the Squad’s on Harley’s tail! King Shark finally does something remotely useful by smashing through a wall with the battlecry of “
RIP AND TEARPAIN AND HATE!” Every issue, King Shark grows closer and closer to sobbing in his room to the deeply emotional beats of My Chemical Romance.
Behind the wall they find, Harley’s corpse, apparently dead from a shot in the shoulder? But lo, this is not Harley at all! She’s somehow managed to fit a whole mustachoid man into her teeny hot pants, thigh highs, and corset. (Also I would like to take this time to say: JESUS THAT LITTLE CAPE IS SO STUPID WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA.) Not to mention paint his entire body white.
This dead impersonator raises many questions for me. The two leading ones are:
How did that single bullet wound to a nonvital area kill that guy? And,
How did the entire Squad fail to notice that the Harley they cornered was not only not a woman, but has a mustache?
And actually one more, why does she say “ill”…?
And I turn the page, expecting the same old drivel and holy shit
There are no words
There are no anythings
there is only
I want to know who’s responsible for this page. I want them to take responsibility for saying “yes, yes this is brilliant YES!”
Keep in mind that this is page five.
Page five of a twenty page comic.
THIS IS THE TITLE PAGE.
I can’t keep going guys
How do I keep going after that.
Is it even possible?
Is even Adam Glass taking this job seriously anymore?
Has it just gotten so bad that they’re actively trying to see how much shit they can get away with?
Because I never though, even once in my life, that I’d see an evil midget transvestite dressed as Harley Quinn (as designed by a stripper costumer). How would I ever suspect this day to come?
Okay, readers (do I even have readers?). Tomorrow I’ll make part two.
Deathlyillandalwaysbusy’s reviews are the best medicine for some of the worst (IMHO) books to come out of the relaunch: she keeps me laughing, and that keeps me from crying.
If you’ve been reading JL Dark, you probably noticed that Zatanna has acquired some kind of asymmetrical henna-colored tattoo that just looks like a bunch of scribbles (what hipster/hippy white girls get when they want to sexily appropriate other cultures but are too lazy to do any research) and has taken to shopping at Hot Topic (sexxxy corset-style top, fishnet armwarmers, low rise pleather pants). It’s pretty terrible.
And the primary reason I’ve chosen to avoid Birds of Prey like the plague is because Starling. She…looks like she’s trying too hard? And also like a caricature? Maybe of me from 2001? And also like a Hot Topic casualty? Is she rockabilly? A fan/emulator of Pink? I can’t even.
It’s a bit like when, a few years ago, my Mom wanted to go as a “punker” and also referred to her costume as a “goth” and a “biker chick.” So she bought a metric fuck ton of fake tattoos, put on a pair of faded mom jeans and one of her scoop neck shells she would wear under suits for work (tucked in to the pants, natch), sprayed glitter in her hair and called it “done.” Then she brought me in for a consult and I just played along because it was so over the top and hilariously wrong that I couldn’t not do it. I made her add about four studded belts to the ensemble and threw her a pair of cowboy boots. I really wish I’d taken pictures.
So I guess what I’m saying is this:
DC, stop trying so hard. Zatanna’s already cool. You don’t need to make her edgy. And I don’t even know with Starling. I’ve heard the writing on the relaunch BoP is good, but I just can’t get past the facade to read the book.
Even though Didio initially claimed that the point of the relaunch was to attract new readers from outside the (perceived) core readership (of 18-35 year old lonely, pathetic man-children living in their moms’ basements - again, perceived core readership), in execution, the relaunch was just a weak attempt to tighten that “core” down even more (see Voodoo, Catwoman) coupled with that old standby: making everything extreme and edgy (see weird/bad costume redesigns, employing Rob Liefeld).
Guys (and those, what, three women now employed by DC?), just stop. It’s not working. As you have shown through actions, if not words, you aren’t trying to reach a new audience. Which means that you’ve already got an audience. So you don’t need to go through all this midlife crisis (on infinite earths), Dad-buys-a-flashy-car-and-a-grip-of-Ed-Hardy-shirts-to-try-to-get-a-hot-new-girlfriend crap.
Zatanna’s tattoo and Black Canary’s new bestie are the equivalents of Poochie.
Cut it the fuck out. Stop trying to be hip and young and with-it when you aren’t, in fact, hip and young and with anything. Just tell us awesome stories about idealized people.
Oh, and fire Liefeld. Please.
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