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 »

A rambling post on race and the X-Men Franchise

X-Men Logo

The X-Men franchise kind of proves how allegories for oppression often fall flat when it comes to being cognizant of stuff like racism. The in-world oppression that the characters do face is serious and important, but the series itself is terrible at handling or recognizing intersectional identities and the realities of life as a marginalized person with a mutation.

In fact, the thought that inspired me writing this little post was looking at how of Black mutants in the United States where the original comic series  and the first film in the new franchise (that kills off the one Black guy (Darwin) in the first film and has Afro-Latina mutant Angel sexualized and then killed off in between films) was set.

Think about it: The X-Men franchise largely uses mutants and mutantdom to show characters dealing with racism (as in they are hated for being mutants and not “regular” humans)–

And yet, the series at no point actually and consistently addresses how the reaction to mutants in the franchise would be incredibly different when you looked between white mutants versus mutants of color.Read More »

On “Typecasting” and Opportunities in the Comics Industry

Consider this a follow up to yesterday’s post about the fear and annoyance with Brian Michael Bendis writing Riri Williams when he has a clear track record of mishandling black characters.


Shortly after writing my post, I saw a series of tweets by Marvel editor Alanna Smith that really rubbed me the wrong way.

In the first tweet, one that clearly referenced Black anger and annoyance to BMB writing yet another Black legacy character in Riri Willams, Smith said that, “I strongly dislike the idea that people can only write comics starring characters that look like them. Leads to typecasting on both sides…”

She then followed the tweet with a big BUT (literally: “…BUT the industry always needs to do better and I’d love some recs of comics by black female creators. What are you reading/writing now?”) before moving into a series of tweets where she tries to explain her positioning but really doesn’t do more than get gummy White Feminism ™ all up in the gears.

I have a major bone to pick with her over the idea that “both sides” risk being typecast in the comics industry when it comes to writing diverse characters and it’s indicative of a serious problem.

Let’s be very clear here: There is no universe where white guys are typecast or pigeonholed into only writing white guys.

That is literally not how that works.Read More »

The Reality of Bendis Writing Blackness

Riri Williams and Tony

In theory, I know I should be happy that we’re getting more diversity in the form of Riri Williams,  a young black woman/girl taking over the role of Iron Man from Tony Stark.

In reality?

I’m getting sick and tired of these companies swearing up and down that they really want to promote diversity before putting yet another white male writer on a book with a character of color as the focus. (You know… instead of finding writers of color — especially Black female writers — to handle the character.)

I’m especially vexed that the man behind this is Mr. Brian Michael “My Spider-Man doesn’t see what so important about him being Black in a world that loves Blackness but hates Black people” Bendis.

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 »

[Review] Six-Gun Gorilla: Long Days of Vengeance

Six Gun Gorilla Cover

Writer: Brian Christgau

Artist: Adrián Sibar

Letters: Bram Meehan and Dave Sharpe

Support the creators and get the comic on: COMIXOLOGY | AMAZON (Link to the first issue only) | KICKSTARTER

Note: Brian Christgau provided me with this review comic. The thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own (obviously because who else would write an intense ode to a fictional gorilla?) and are honest representations of my opinions.


There’s something cathartic about watching a gorilla shoot the hell out of bad guys.

When I was trying to describe Six Gun Gorilla‘s premise to one of my friends, I wound up saying that it was something close to what you’d get if the long dead Edgar Rice Burroughs and Quentin Tarantino had a baby and if that baby was cooler than its parents while also being a gorilla.

As far as descriptions go, it’s a bit nonsensical, but it’s also what makes Six Gun Gorilla my kind of comic book. It’s a comic set in the American West during the times of cowboys and cattle rustlers and there’s also a gorilla running around blowing people’s heads off.

I’m sorry, was I supposed to refrain from falling in love with this ridiculously awesome comic?Read More »

Look what came in the mail~

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It really isn’t every day that you find out that one of your favorite authors in the world keeps up with your blog. Like, up until a few weeks ago, I’d have sworn up and down that that sort of thing just didn’t happen to little fish like me.

But apparently they do!!!

A week or two ago (I’m always shaky on recalling the passage of time), I get an email from none other than BEN AARONOVITCH. You know, the Doctor Who writer who’s also responsible for one of my FAVORITE urban fantasy series in the universe: the Rivers of London series. I’ve been reading the series for several years now and I’m now eagerly awaiting the next book which’ll be out next year. I genuinely think that the series is brilliant and that Ben Aaronovitch is a great writer.

Which is why, when I first saw the email from him (via my blog’s contact form) I proceeded to fanperson all over the place. I’m actually still fanperson-ing about it right now. He’s just so cool, okay. And so nice!

And he sent me the first five issues of Rivers of London: Body Work!! Because he liked my blog and thinks I’m awesome (I’m paraphrasing but still…).

I’m going to treasure them forever and pass them down to my descendants along with my kindle (if by then we can’t just beam books directly into our brains).

I’m absolutely the luckiest person in the world right now.

😀

Searching for Real Love: My torrid love affair with Golden Age romance comics

This post was originally posted on Patreon for backers supporting me with $1 or more. If early access and exclusives are your thing, consider subscribing!


Page01_AllRomances001I love the Golden Age of comics.

Crime comics.

Horror comics.

Offshoots of the pulps that never quite got big.

You name it, I probably love it. I grew up in a household that was always nerdy but in different ways.

My parents are old. My dad was born in 1939 and my mom in 1948. For some reason, despite all the odds, they ended up together in 1990 and then like 9 months later I popped out.

They weren’t interested in whatever was new on television (except for the soap operas), but made sure that I had access to stuff that they liked as well as stuff that was slightly more age appropriate.

Instead of growing up with Star Wars and Star Trek, I grew up with soap operas. I grew up with the 1960s Batman show. I grew up able to hold my own in discussions on Westerns. And of course, there were the comics.

The comics were my mom’s fault (but my dad was a huge fan of the Flash and original Green Lantern). She grew up on a different island than my dad did and spent her teen and young adult years in New York living a very interesting life. Her experience was relatively less focused on religion and so she got into the post-code horror comics like it was her job. She passed that love of romance and horror comics down to me and I’m definitely going to be blaming her for my fascination with them.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 »

[Book Review] Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House

ghosts and girls of fiction houseTitle: Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House
Author:
Various authors, collected & edited by Michael Price
Rating:
Highly Recommended
Genre/Category: Comic books, Horror, History
Release Date: November 10, 2015

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Pre-Order Here: AMAZON | IDW PUBLISHING | BARNES AND NOBLE

Blurb: The publisher Fiction House was infamous for what anti-comics crusader Dr. Fredric Wertham called “headlight comics,” i.e. comics featuring the ample female bosom. The Pre-Code publisher used their buxom heroines to star in jungle comics, science fiction tales, and scary GHOST STORIES! The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics series curates the sexiest and scariest of these poltergeist-infused Good Girl Art comics in a pulse-pounding tome, Ghosts and Girls! Your hair will stand on end and at the same time your toes will curl! Featuring faithfully reprinted original art from these 1940s and 1950s by brilliant masters Matt Baker, Maurice Whitman, and more, don’t miss this must-have, large format collection edited by comics historian and filmmaker Michael Price, with its lovingly restored comics.


** This early and honest review was made possible by Diamond Book Distributors, IDW Publishing, and NetGalley. The (somewhat lengthy) opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. **

I’m a sucker for a good ghost story and Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House provides more than enough to satisfy me.

Collected by Michael Price, the Golden-Age tales of horror and humanity in Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House are right up my alley. The stories in this book all come from publisher Fiction House, a publisher known for their images of beautiful women in peril and blood-curdling horror.  With about two-hundred pages of comic book history (including anecdotes about horror comics’ hall of famer EC Gaines), covers for comics like Ghost and Jumbo Comics, and full-color reprints of true Golden Age greats, this book is a must have for fans of horror who are fascinated by comic book culture and history.Read More »