[Stitch Likes Stuff] Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

If you’ve seen me gush over Lezhin’s Painter of the Night, you’ll remember that I actually love webcomics. And as you all know, I fucking love DC Comics… especially the Batfamily. This latest comic – by artist StarBite and writer CRC Payne – taps into a lot of the slice-of-life content that the Batfandom I grew up with flat out adored.

I read the first six episodes (paying for the last three on Fast Pass) and I loved every moment of it. For the most part, this blends canon personalities/visuals with headcanons from fandom – one noted difference is that Duke is explicitly part of the Batfamily… something that modern (more modern?) fandoms still struggles to accept. It’s a very cute comic in the webcomic tradition, simple one-shot, family-oriented comics that reminds us that Batman doesn’t have sidekicks… he’s part of a whole Batfamily.

The characterization is largely solid (the fandom influence is obvious though) and it’s definitely far away from the way many of the dudes working on Batman across the decades have handled the Batfamily as a unit. I’m not necessarily concerned about the coloring, but Damian Wayne being relatively dark skinned is largely a fandom thing and if Talia and Ra’s aren’t dark skinned themselves, I will have questions. I loved having Cass and Stephanie back in the Batfamily in a way that’s super hard to ignore. I know they’re in the comics as of late, but it’s still super hard for me to get back into the comics I used to love… so I’ve been sticking to the outskirts of all of that… but this makes me want to try again to get back into the DC game.

Anyway, if you’re interested in checking out the comics for yourself, the first three episodes of the webtoon are up on well… Webtoon. And I’m interested in hearing your thoughts even if they’re critical!

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

Queer-Coding, Bad-Bat-Takes, And Why The Joker Isn’t That Important to Batman

Content Warning for stereotypes built from homophobia and transmisogyny that are present in the Joker’s portrayal across the years.


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The art in this header is Alex Ross’s 2015 piece “Mind if I Cut In

“In some ways, the Joker is a dark reflection of who Batman is. The loss of Bruce Wayne’s parents could’ve driven him to that edge, to where he could’ve become the Joker himself. But instead, he fought against that. Batman’s trying to bring order to the world. The Joker’s trying to bring chaos to the world.”

—–Dan Didio, Superheroes Decoded, Part One: “American Legends”

If the word “camp” is applied at all to the eighties Batman, it is a label for the Joker. This sly displacement is the cleverest method yet devised of preserving Bat-heterosexuality. The play that the texts regularly make with the concept of Batman and the Joker as mirror images now takes a new twist. The Joker is Batman’s “bad twin,” and part of that badness is, increasingly, an implied homosexuality.

—–Andy Medhurst, “Batman, Deviance, and Camp”

Despite what many comic book writers, editors, and some comic historians currently, the idea that the Joker serves as Batman’s darker “other half” is one that hinges on incredibly modern interpretations on the character that go hand in hand with ham-fisted attempts to squash them into these roles.

It’s also, not very accurate.

Didio’s comments in the first half of Superheroes Decoded are, at this point, the party line. They’re part of this attempt to reframe the Joker as necessary to the Batman’s mythos to the point where neither character can survive without the other, framing them as codependent and lost without one another. While I can see some validity in that statement where the Joker is concerned, I don’t see the point in making heroes that can’t exist without that one villain to torment them.

I especially don’t see the point in making Batman one of those heroes.Read More »

Wonder Woman:Earth One – Volume 2  – Somehow Worse Than The First

Note: This review contains descriptions and images of things from this book that include (but are not limited to): Nazis, sexual assault, the whole MRA and negging plots Morrison writes and Paquette illustrates, and all the misogyny that really has no place in a Wonder Woman Book


WWEO - Credits Page

If you thought that two years would lead Wonder Woman: Earth One creators Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette to figure out that maybe their approach to a reimagined version of Wonder Woman in the previous volume wasn’t acceptable and was in fact frankly misogynistic, well… you’d be wrong.

I talked about all of the issues in the previous volume two years ago (including a comment where I described Paquette as having a “Greg Land-esque art style, incredibly sexualized”), but there’s literally no sign of growth or an awareness of what feminism actually is in the second volume of DC’s Wonder Woman: Earth One series.Read More »

[Book Review] The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture by Glen Weldon

the-caped-crusade-glen-weldonTitle: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture
Author: Glen Weldon (Twitter)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Genre/Category: Nonfiction, Batman, Comic Book
Release Date: March 22, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Order Here: AMAZON  (PAPERBACK)| AMAZON (KINDLE) 

Note: This review was originally written for a graduate level course I took last semester where we had to write a review for a scholarly book that was related to our thesis. As this book actually inspired my current thesis project (about queer readings of a queer-coded Joker and the role that homophobia plays in these readings), I couldn’t pass up on the chance to review this book.


A regular panelist on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, Glen Weldon is probably the best author that could have ever been drafted to write a book about how Batman’s creation shaped the development of nerd culture and fandom as it exists right now.

His book The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture seeks to put Batman into a certain cultural context, looking at the way that the character’s history has shaped generations of fans, comic and film creators, and the fans that would grow up to become these creators. Weldon looks at how, over the course of the past seventy-seven years, Batman and nerd culture have participated in certain cycles that alternated between “camp and cheery” and “grim-dark and gritty”.

In The Caped Crusade, Weldon approaches the heterocentric canon of Batman’s various texts through a perspective that only a gay man can bring to the table. In his close queer reading of Batman’s history, canon text throughout the decades, and the fan community (or fandom) that sprawled up around him, Weldon looks at how queerphobia shaped Batman’s trajectory and inspired hundreds of thousands of fans to eschew the very idea of a queer Batman while queer fans clung to the potential opened up for them by the subtext embedded within the character.Read More »

[Guest Post] Love, pain, redemption – Bruce & Dick in Nightwing: Rebirth.

This guest post comes courtesty of one of my dearest friends in and out of fandom, Yamini, who kindly allowed me to repost her brilliant analysis of Batman and Nightwing’s relationship in Nightwing: Rebirth. (This post is also available on her tumblr, so please reblog it from there if you want to share!


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… And Fate them forged a binding chain / of living love and mortal pain” is one of my favourite lines in JRR Tolkien’s Lay of Leithian; encapsulating the poem’s driving conviction that mingled love, pain, surrender, and redemption can form the foundations of the most important relationships we can have with other human beings.

I found myself thinking about it after reading Nightwing #8 (by Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor and Carlos Mangual) because love, pain, and redemption are so much a part of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, and how they relate to each other, and I haven’t read many comics that mediate on that as beautifully as this one (and hell, this whole arc) does.Read More »

Suicide Squad: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

 

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If I had to put it to numbers, I’d say that Suicide Squad is approximately 70% “my thing”.

The 30% that isn’t is largely comprised of the following: violence against women being brushed off or used as humor, most of the male/female relationships (and the fact that there are no positive female friendships or relationships in the squad), Katana basically not getting to do a lot beyond fight scenes and a few emotional moments, Slipknot being killed off within minutes of his introduction to prove a point, how David Ayer reframes Harley and the Joker’s relationship (and her characterization), and the Joker himself.

Had Suicide Squad come out in 2007 when I was a fresh-faced high school senior, I would have loved it entirely from the start. Of course, 2007!Stitch wasn’t as focused on picking out the problematic elements in the media they consumed as 2016!Stitch is.

As it stands, I actually enjoyed Suicide Squad almost as much as 2007!me would have. I went into the film kind of hopeful, having read several reviews that were really critical of the film but trying to will DC into having better luck with this film than with Batman Vs Superman (which I saw in theaters and hated but then, when I got the Ultimate Edition, came to understand it a bit more).

And you know what? It was entertaining as hell to watch.Read More »

Let’s Stop Giving The Killing Joke More Credit Than It Deserves

Batgirl and Oracle (1)

Content warnings for references to sexual trauma (assault and torture) in the text and in linked posts, ableism, a brief mention of fandom racism (specifically antiblackness towards Luke Fox) and a mention of transmisogyny in Batgirl #37. There are no images from The Killing Joke (comic or animated film) or the Joker in the body of this post.


I reject the idea that “The Killing Joke” is necessary in order to have Barbara become Oracle.

I also reject the idea that the Joker “created” Oracle.

Disability representation is incredibly important, that’s why DC’s retcon of Barbara’s many years as Oracle struck a blow to many disabled comic book readers. I won’t fight against that. I also won’t pretend that the Batgirl of Burnside series didn’t have its own problems (such as the ableist cure-all that carried over from Gail Simone’s run and problems that were unique to the run such as the transmisogyny in issue #37).

But what I will fight against is the way that DC comics and its fanbase won’t let go of The Killing Joke and how they insist on tying it to Oracle as a symbol or moment of empowerment when it really isn’t.Read More »

Grayson #20 and WOC as the “Wrong Choice” Love Interests

Note: You may disagree with this reading. You may think that’s not a valid reading. That’s fine, but as experiencing misogynoir in a comic that I adore and having clear proof that women of color (especially Black women) will always wind up “losing” to whiteness/white women is hurtful to me, I absolutely do not want to hear about it.


Helena and Dick

I knew Helena Bertinelli and Dick Grayson wouldn’t end up together at the end of Grayson #20.Despite my shipping goggles snapped tightly to my head (and you know… the actual content in the book), I knew that they wouldn’t be riding off into the sunset together especially as both characters are going to be in their own books come Rebirth.

But I knew that Dick and Helena were attracted to each other because there are several separate moments in the comic series that shows that their attraction is mutual.

More than that, the comic showed that on some level, they cared about each other as more than friends and it was in a way that could be construed as romantic. A way that could have been fleshed out in the upcoming Rebirth reboot or that would have gotten more focus in the comics had Grayson continued past issue #20 with the original creative team (Tim Seeley and Tom King on writing with Mikel Janin on art).

How do I know this? Well, in Future’s End: Grayson, five years into the future of the DC Universe (pre Rebirth and all of the retcons that’s going to be responsible for), Helena and Dick are together romantically.

So to go through Grayson #20 and basically see the new creative team kind of crap all over that is incredibly hurtful.Read More »

Wonder Woman Earth One Is Far From Wondrous

Content warnings: This post contains descriptions and images of sexual assault/harassment from the comic that may be triggering or upsetting to readers.


WW EO 1

With every reading of Wonder Woman: Earth One, I hate it a little bit more.

Grant Morrison has been working on WW:EO for years.

Many years.

Seriously, the first book in DC’s Earth One line (Superman: Earth One Volume One) came out in October 2010. In the past almost six years in that same line, there have been three Superman books, two Batman books, and one Teen Titans book. And yet, the least represented version of DC’s Trinity, Wonder Woman, has been pointedly absent from the universe.

Part of it, is because Grant Morrison is apparently a slow writer. He had to get things just right and that takes time. Morrison, like his comic creator peers Alex Ross and Jim Lee, isn’t the best with deadlines.

However, there’s another, more insidious reason to the push back: sexism.

Read More »

On Grayson, fandom, problematic media, and the drive to “defend” popular male characters

Content notes: This post mentions and/or links to descriptions of sexual assault and harassment as well as racism.


Grayson Header.png

If you were to listen to a certain group of Dick Grayson fans on the internet, you’d probably come to the conclusion that comic book fans are frighteningly intense and that the Grayson series (written by Tom King and Tim Seeley with pencils by Mikel Janin and colors by Jeromy Cox) is rife with orgies and plagued with issues of consent on every single page as Dick is forcibly separated from his friends and family to fight in the war against SPYRAL.

If you were to listen to that weirdly vocal group of fans, you’d also be just as wrong as they are.Read More »

Perpetual Bitterness & Nightwing #30

Nightwing 30 Unlettered Cover

I think I’m always going to be a little bit mad about the version of Nightwing #30 that we got and the version that Meghan Hetrick pencilled.

The story she was illustrating was a poignant look at Dick’s life and the people who loved him, but that it gave the readers (who largely knew he was returning in another comic) a bridge between the two series.

I don’t know what went down and why we weren’t able to get the original story planned and written by James Tynion IV back in May 2014, but it’s always going to bug me.

I could be eighty-years old and talking to my adopted children on my deathbed and I will remember to complain about how much that final issue let me down in terms of closure for Dick and the rest of his friends and family.Read More »

Robins: Individual Characters, Not Bruce Clones

robin characterization post 2We’ve all seen that one Shortpacked comic where Bruce is taking inventory of the Robins and he’s pleased with the ones that look like him and lowkey annoyed with Stephanie, the lone Robin that doesn’t. She’s the only individual among the Robins and the whole point is that Bruce prefers his tiny clones over her.

It’s hilarious, but at the same time, it’s just a joke. It’s funny because like four out of five “main” Robins have black hair and blue eyes and yeah, they kind of look like Bruce, but they’re so not like him.

The reality is that if you know anything about the Robins, you’ll know that they have very different personalities and varied characterizations. They’re written as their own people and sure, their Mission lines up with Bruce’s and they share many of his ideals, but good Robin characterization hinges on them being separate from Bruce. If you’re reading a book with more than one Robin and you can’t tell Jason from Dick in either looks or temperament, you’re not reading a very good comic.

The Robins are Batman’s partners, not clones.

Not aspects of his psyche.Read More »

#NCBD 9/23/2015 Part Three – Grayson #12

Spoilers, images, and faintly disjointed squeeing for the issue abound. Read at your own risk if you’re not up to date!


For the first time since he faked his own death, Dick Grayson returns home to Gotham City. But will Spyral ever really let him go for good?

grayson 12 coverWriter: Tom King & Tim Seeley (with Tom King on this month’s script)
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Originally published:  September 2015
Rating: 5/5 would recommend to anyone that was reading my James Bond reviews and craves a book that subverts the spy genre

___

Grayson #12 is the book that fandom has been waiting for.

A huge issue that many fans and haters alike have commented on has been the distance between Dick and the other members of the Batfamily. Off in Europe for much of the series’ run, Dick has been distanced from his family even as he made new connections with Helena, Tiger, and other members of SPYRAL. When he is in contact with his family members, it’s brief and unsatisfying on all levels.

In Grayson #12 the team finally brings Dick home. At the end of the previous issue Dick, fed up with all the shady subterfuge coming from SPYRAL, sends Bruce one last message telling him that he’s coming home.
Read More »

#NCBD 9/9/2015 – Short & Salty

This NCBD post is short and salty because I was mostly disappointed by the books that I read… So disappointed that I didn’t exactly try for serious analysis.

This week I got three lady-centered comic books that are all from DC: Starfire #4, Gotham Academy #10, and the Harley Quinn Road Trip Special. Unfortunately, two out of the three books weren’t exactly my thing.Read More »