Thursday, March 30, 2006

GODDAMMIT GEOFF JOHNS, GET OUT OF MY TEETH

Reading Green Lantern Rebirth #5, I said to myself: Oh for Gods sake, he better not waste too much time next issue with Batman. Just hit the bastard and get to the real fight. The next month?



KRAKK.

I've always wished for Arisia or Katma Tui to come back to life... and I'd really love Arisia to come back as this sexy butch broad who doesn't take shit from anybody...



In Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, I got a butch version of Katma Tui. Close enough.

I've always wanted to see Hal break the Cyborg Superman in half for what he did to Coast City. (I cannot overstress my visceral hatred of that character.) Reading the previews for May's comics, who do I see on the cover of Green Lantern 12?



Oh, fuck yes.

Walking home yesterday with my comics under my arm, I planned in my head an entry about Steve Englehart's run on Green Lantern Corps... specifically, the issues where Kilowog heads off to the USSR, and the Earth GLs have to deal with the conflict of being heroes for the whole planet vs. their status as Americans. I've told Franny that I'd really love for someone to update that story... After all, you had 7 people with weapons of mass destruction living in a compound in southern California. It's not a stretch to imagine an administration that would declare them a terrorist cell and a threat to homeland security. Or, at the very least, they'd make a lot of other countries very, very nervous.

About ten minutes after formulating that thought, I opened this week's Green Lantern.



Arguing the political complexities of Green Lanterns. While fighting ROCKET REDS, for God's sake!

Literally everything I've ever randomly hoped for in Green Lantern over the past couple of years has been delivered to me by Geoff Johns.

...I swear to God, if I had any fillings I'd be checking them for radio transceivers right now.

Franny, who is always the voice of reason when I lose my shit over things like this, said it's most likely because Geoff and I have a lot in common: Michigan native. MSU alum. Unreasonable obsession with Hal Jordan and test pilots.

But still. It's spooky as hell.

And as long as there might be a chance I've got a psychic connection to Mr. Johns, the Lord and Master of DC Continuity, here are a couple of requests:

*Hal and Guy watching the MSU vs. U of M football game. Hal wearing an MSU T-shirt just to piss Guy off.

*Boodika beating the ever living piss out of Hal in revenge for the loss of her ring and hand.

*More gloriously slashy Hal/Kyle moments.

*Hot hot pilot makeouts between Hal and Cowgirl in the back of an F-15. (Yes, I know it's not even remotely comfortable/possible from a positioning standpoint. It's my fantasy. Shut up.)

*The untimely death of Carol's husband Gil during the course of 52

And if any of this actually happens... well, don't say I didn't call it first.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sorry for the radio silence...

Amy and I are both sick, I more than her, so we've been temporarily unavailable to snark. As soon as I acquire some beneficial pharmaceuticals things should get rolling again.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I'm not actually calling Brian K. Vaughan sexist, read to the end

I am almost caught up to the present issue of Y: The Last Man. Kalinara just wrote about how people assume she would like the series and she is not interested in it. I have been pondering my attitudes toward Y for some time; they are decidedly mixed, and braided with my feminist outlook on comics and media in general. Bear with me while I wax intellectual.

This is not a simple issue of good versus bad portrayals of women. It is possible to argue that a work like Y is problematically sexist despite having widely recognized "good" portrayals, whatever that means. Nobody can agree on how they want their group to be represented. It's a fact of the politics of representation: there's no consensus on the images that "should" be presented, nor is there agreement on who should get to make the representations in the first place. It is agreed, however, that peoples' privileges are inescapable and influence their work. Brian K. Vaughan is a man, and despite ideological and artistic intentions, his male privilege (the unspoken benefits of being male, invisible to people who grow up as men in our society but highly visible to those who do not have them) makes it inherently biased.

My intention is not to roundly condemn Vaughan as sexist; that would be counterproductive and he does not deserve the label, at least in the conventional sense. However the issue of representation and privilege really bothers me in the case Y and the "unmanned" scenario. The idea of a society without men has long been a staple of feminist philosophy as well as speculative fiction. I'm going to bet you can't name any work that deals with this. Yet most readers of this blog know about Y; it has gotten huge attention within the comics community and from the media at large. Vaughan is always posting in his blog about the latest plug for his ongoing series (Ex Machina and Runaways too...but that's another essay entirely) in magazines like Jane or Entertainment Weekly. He is an excellent writer. It is a well put together series. The apparatus works. I read it. But it still makes me furious. A man gets media attention and fame for writing about a world without men. I know Pia Guerra is the co-creator and artist. But she does not get nearly as much attention for her work on the series as Vaughan does; maybe if she drew tits a little bigger she could get some work on Witchblade, but I'm not holding my damn breath.

Vaughan uses an old trick to diffuse this situation within the series itself; Yorick Brown, the man, actually talks to another character about how ironic it is that a man is still the center of attention even after the world is now entirely run by women. By acknowledging that a narrative situation is weird or improbable, it feels less so to the reader or viewer. It's something I've heard many times as a screenwriting student, and it doesn't work on me.

And yet, as furious as the series and the hype surrounding it makes me, I have more than once cried with emotion from reading it. It tells a really engaging story about characters that resonate with me, Yorick most of all. Catholicism is actually a very prominent theme in Y, and as a nice Catholic girl with social justice sensibilities, I can relate to the story of a nice Catholic boy with social justice sensibilities who just happens to be the last man on earth. The subject is treated seriously and with respect; what do you do as a Catholic when there are no priests left? Does your God cease to exist? Has the tie been severed? I feel like Vaughan and I would have a lot to say to each other about the idea of someone keeping their faith close to them even when it seems ludicrous to do so.

Yorick Brown is obnoxious and wonderful. He makes obsessive pop culture references and dreams that he is a science fiction hero, yet he is deeply troubled by committing violence. In an inversion of the fantasy-journey narrative of strapping hero, frail wizard, and naive princess, he is definitely the princess, while female companions are strapping and arcane, respectively. He is a male survivor of sexual assault and he believes in true love. He used to write Knight Rider fan fiction and described himself as having a punctuation fetish. He has been dismissed by some as a typical "lovable loser" character; but what does it mean to be a loser? What is the difference between a "loser" and a "real man"? This is Yorick's dilemma.

Ultimately, Vaughan is using the unmanned scenario to explore manhood and masculinity through a character who is decidedly not the American ideal superdude, who is a composite of anxious shortcomings thrust from being a guy to not just being a man but the man. And ultimately, it serves feminist purposes to reevaluate and reflect on the meaning of masculinity. It has been a tenet of transfeminism and gender activism in the last decade that gender roles are not only oppressive to women. And Y will certainly get read more widely and taken closer to heart than many gender treatises I can think of.

I retain my righteous anger that women should be the ones to write about what women would do if left to their own purposes in an unmanned world. There's definitely a part of that anger epoxied to my own frustrations as an unpublished woman writer. Call me jealous; I am. Some part of me hopes that a series like this will open the doors for women to write brilliant transgressive gender fantasies, be published by a DC or Marvel imprint, and get loads of wonderful shiny press. Another part hopes that this will be written by me.

I'll spare you any more details or confessions. It's time to go to bed.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

"Enfreakment" is a real word

So I finally finished my paper on superheroes and disability. FINALLY. I took an incomplete in the class because I couldn't get it done. I didn't realize how hard it would be to write academically about something I talk about all day, every day, that is a part of my material existence. Both comics and disability are, and combining them...wow. I realized I had way too much to say to fit in 30 pages and still include enough evidence. I ended up citing way more secondary sources that I originally planned to, because when you want to make a general statement about a character or summarize their origin story, it's much easier to just hit the DC Encyclopedia, even though it not always accurate.

On a fun note, there are certain words that you get to use in disability studies that just make me grin. Like "enfreakment" and "freakery". That would be the process of creating a "freak" (as in side show freak) and the spectacle of viewing and exhibiting a freak, respectively. Also, supercrip, which I talked about a way long time ago when I first started this beast of a project. Then you get the usual academic words that are hip right now: interrogation, subjectivity, embodiment, materiality, discourse.

Lastly there's my favorite thing: transgressive reappropriation. I love transgressive reappropriation. In my opinion, it is the solution to every problem of representation in comics. Except for gay stuff. That might be an overstatement, but it's still cool. What it basically means is reclaiming stereotypical/negatively portrayed disabled characters and finding value in them, taking them back and making them cool. Temporarily able-bodied people have appropriated the images of disabled people in their work, and this is the phenomenon of disabled people taking those images back. (I got this from Mitchell and Snyder's Narrative Prosthesis for any academic types interested. But they didn't make it up. I think they got it froM Garland Thompson. I'm a DS newb so I haven't read all of her stuff yet.) This is especially important for images of disability; there are so many out there, specifically in comics, that creating new disabled characters in order to have "good" portrayals of disability would be excessive. It would be more efficient, and probably more pleasing to fans, to take old disabled characters and use them progressively. (It doesn't really work for gay characters because there aren't any to reappropriate.)

I ended up not talking for an excessively long time about this in my paper either...eventually I got to the point where I had to wrap things up, and an extensive discussion of transgressive reappropriation as well as the iconicity of ability ended up not getting written. Someday they will.

So...the question is, should I post the paper in its entirety here? Some of you might laugh at it in the sense that I have to define "mutant" and explain what the JSA is. I also am not actually sure if I'm right about what I said about Doctor Mid-Nite and I don't want to get shot down. The alternative is re-writing the sections in blogger discourse as opposed to academic discourse for your reading pleasure. Maybe I'll do both. Leave a comment if you have a preference.