Friday, September 17, 2010

The X-Men and Teenage Pregnancy

I'm admittedly quite a bit behind when it comes to Marvel Comics, so this may seem like old news . . .

Angel Salvadore was introduced in New X-Men #118. In issue #141, she ends up having six kids. I have one huge problem with this. Angel was fourteen when she was introduced. And unless I missed something, she didn't have a birthday in that time (even if she did, she'd still only be fifteen).

I have yet to meet a fourteen year old who is emotionally mature enough to have sex, let alone raise a child. Raising a child is a full-time job. It requires maturity, patience and a willingness to put the baby's needs over your own. Teenagers - especially young teenagers - tend to be immature, have little to no patience, and tend to believe that their own needs and desires are the only things that matter. (Lord knows I was like that when I was 14.)

And yet none of the X-Men seemed to give a care that a fourteen year old girl had just had a bunch of babies. Excuse me? Is no one concerned about the fact that she has no way of supporting these babies? Or that there's no way in hell that she's emotionally mature enough to handle this? Or the fact that these newborns are already not only crawling but flying meaning they'll be exponentially more difficult to contain and care for than ordinary newborns? Not to mention there's six of them.

Someone should have cared that a fourteen year old child got pregnant while under the X-Men's care. But no one did. The issue never really even seemed to get addressed. (Also, if Beak was any older than she was, it was statutory rape.)

Nice to know that not only are the X-Men into child endangerment, but they don't give a damn about teenage pregnancy either.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Random Thoughts About DC's Speedsters

Has anyone else noticed that pretty much all of DC speedsters have evil counterparts? Jay had Rival, Barry had Professor Zoom, Wally had Zoom, Bart had Inertia. Even Max Mercury had Savitar. I don't think Johnny or Jesse Quick did though . . . but their connection to the Flashes is the most tenuous of the speedsters.

They also have one of the best track records when it comes to happy marriages. Jay and Joan have been together for decades. Barry is happily married to Iris, and Wally is happily married to Linda. I hope the pattern holds, once Bart and Wally's kids become adults. It's refreshing to see superheroes who manage to end up in happy, stable relationships instead of being in "will they or won't they" or "on again off again" romances that plague comic books. It would also be nice to see characters who were allowed to mature and age.

I'm still unsure about Barry's return, mainly because I'm not familiar with him. I don't have a problem with resurrection in comics, but I did have a problem with Wally losing his book to a character I barely know. And unless the Flash title gains the reputation of being one of the best comics coming out, it's probably going to be awhile before I bother trying to get to know him.

I'm also not much for Iris becoming the new Impulse. Bart lost a lot of his individuality and fun character traits when he became Kid Flash, and I would have liked to see him going back to being Impulse. I would have been all for Iris becoming the new Kid Flash, though.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Steered Towards "Girl" Comics

I had an interesting experience at my local comic book store a while back.  I asked for recommendations, and was recommended several books.  Only one really interested me (Y: The Last Man).  After I left, I realized something: most of the comics that I was recommended were comics starring women or written specifically for women.

I assume this was done since I'm a woman.  I suppose it's nice that the shop carries those comics . . . but it makes me wonder if a male customer would have been recommended something different.  Did I miss out on some good comics because it was assumed I wouldn't like "guy" comics?

Most of my interests fall within the stereotypical "guy" interests: comic books, sci-fi, computers, etc.  Most of the comics I see aimed at women don't appeal to me.  In fact, when a comic is specifically marketed at women, I'm more hesitant to pick it up.  (The second I heard Marvel Divas was essentially Sex & the City with superheroes, it made me vow to avoid the thing like the plague.  If I wanted Sex & the City, I'd watch Sex & the City.)

I want well written stories with interesting characters, interesting character interactions, some fun fight scenes and some spandex-wearing superhero goodness.  I don't care if the main character is a woman or a man.  I just want a good story.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is It Possible to Feel Nostalgic for Someone Else's Childhood?

I have a curse. I never discover a good comics series until it's already over. (Or, shortly after I pick up a series, it will be cancelled.) Part of this is because I begin reading comics until the 2000's, and it wasn't until the past three or four that I started actively collecting them. Even today, a good chunk of what I'm reading is back issues and TPBs.

This leaves me in an unusual situation. Most of my favorite comics came out before I started reading comics. The comics that came out when I was a little kid don't have any nostalgic value for me . . . because I wasn't reading them. I don't consider Wally "my Flash." I don't have a Green Lantern that is my Green Lantern.

Some of my favorite comics are recent ones. Others are Golden Age. Some are Bronze Age. Some I'm not even sure what era they are.  (I'm a little fuzzy on the dividing lines between the eras.)

But most of my comics are ones that are no longer being published. Or they've changed so much they have little in common with the old comics except for the title.

I'm nostalgic for comics I didn't grow up on.  Weird.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Art of Batwoman

Although I don't normally read Detective Comics, I have flipped through some issues since Batwoman became the main feature.  For the most part, I love the art.  The panel arrangement is takes risk and for the most part, really works well.  It's also some of the most creative and beautiful art I've seen recently in a comic book.

I love that Kate has a unique fashion sense.  It reminds me of why I like some of the more elegant gothic fashion.  (I'm also not sure if "elegant goth" was the look they intended with Kate's civilian outfits, but that's what I'm reminded of.)  To me it's much more interesting than her stereotypical debutante look that she first sported.  I'm actually really glad they changed the look of her character.  (And glad that they commented on the horribly impractical heels of her Batwoman costume.)

But I do have one request for the artist and/or colorist.  Please, please, please: quit having Kate be chalk white.

No human being is that pale.  It's unnatural.  And the color can't be make-up, because she always looks like that.  She reminds me of a porcelain doll, which is not a look that goes well with a strong character that's capable of kicking major butt.

(It also reminds me of the corpse-esque make-up they gave Edward in the Twilight movies.  Not attractive and extremely creepy and jarring.)

Aside from that, the art is gorgeous.  But I'm a blogger and a comics fan: I'm required by law to nitpick. ;)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Resurrection (of my blog) and Resurrection (in comics)

Super Critique of, Rise!

Since this post is resurrecting my blog, I decided to use it to address resurrection in comics.  Specifically, the "Revolving Door Afterlife" that many comics have, where death is nothing but an inconvenience.

The Revolving Door Afterlife annoys some comics fans, and both DC and Marvel have attempted to close the Revolving Door Afterlife, but it never seems to work.  Why?

The Revolving Door Afterlife is a good thing.  To demonstrate why, I'm going to address a few complaints and criticisms that the Revolving Door Afterlife gets:

1) It cheapens the deaths of the characters!  The sad fact is: most of the deaths were cheap way before the character got brought back.  Characters (especially C-Listers) are often used as fodder for story lines.  Many times they are not introduced or named before they are killed.  Many of these characters could be (or have been) amazing under the correct writer.

There are some extraordinarily well-written deaths.  But a live character is always more interesting than a dead one.*

2) But it's a cop-out!  Yes, it is.  No argument here.  But it's a cop-out that can lead to some amazing story lines.  Think about it.

What must it be like to live in a universe where resurrection is real?  What would it be like for you to lose a parent, a sibling or a child, and then they come back from the dead?  How many people would refuse to go on with their lives because there was even a tiny chance that their loved one would come back?  Why did a mass murderer get a second chance at life while your 8-year old daughter never came back?

These issues are rarely addressed . . . but they should be.

3) It isn't realistic!  Um, are we ready the same comics?  You know: the ones with spandex clad heroes who can lift entire city blocks but lose all their power in the presence of a green rock?  The ones where seeing his parents murdered in cold blood leads a child to become a superhero rather than just requiring massive amounts of therapy?  Although some things about comics can be realistic (characterization, for one), comics are by their nature unrealistic.

Resurrection, the afterlife . . . these are things that we debate whether they exist in the real world.  But in comics, we know they can and do exist.  I can suspend my disbelief in this situation because it's a long-established element of both the Marvel and DC Universes.

4) It ruins any tension for character deaths.  This (in my opinion) is probably the best criticism of the Revolving Door Afterlife.  It's hard to get upset when Captain America, Batman and Superman died.  We know they'll be brought back.  It's a given from the start.  No way that Marvel or DC will get rid of them for good.  They're too afraid of risking alienating and losing fans, and - more importantly - money.

And yet . . . Superman's death still managed to make me tear up.  And the way I learned about his death was by hearing about his new resurrected form, so I knew that it wasn't permanent.  But the story still holds up.  It can still get an emotional reaction from me.  While the cynic in me will always say "no way they'll kill X off for good", well-written deaths can still make me react.  I still care about what happens.  I can still relate to the pain and heartbreak that their loved ones experience.

The big names of comicdom are guaranteed a free trip out of the afterlife.  But most characters aren't.  Most of my favorite characters are C-Listers: I almost never have a guarantee that characters I love will come back from the grave.  The fact that these deaths are often so gratuitous and unnecessary only makes it worse.  Characters with amazing potential are slaughtered and may never appear again simply because they aren't household names.

As long as there are poorly written deaths in comics, the Revolving Door Afterlife is not only a good thing.  It's a necessity.

* This sentence is paraphrased from an article about how to write good fanfiction.  Sadly, I read it several years ago, and I was unable to find it again when writing this post.  If I ever do run across it again, I'll post a link.  It had a lot of good advice that can be applied to all types of fiction writing.

Edit: Found the site. Link here.