Outside of richly, weirdly romantic superhero novels like Devin Grayson’s Inheritance, Weldon is right. The visual nature of superhero comics leads to queer readings in a way that prose often won’t. Prose, up front, often rejects the interpretations that fans have put together. There’s less wiggle room for fans to interpret a lingering gaze or the nearness of two characters or the oft-used Pieta pose as queer when the words on the page are explicitly saying otherwise. As a result, fans have largely had to make do with what they’re given and interpret these moments queerly, playing with characters in their fanworks that largely weren’t “confirmed” to be queer by the powers that be… until recently.
This is the nicest thing I have said about DC in my entire life and… they deserve it. I was a diehard DC fan from about 2009 to 2016 (my peak was 2012-13 in terms of content) and the whole time I was surrounded by other queer fans who just really loved these characters a lot and wanted the representation that came from seeing your favorite character be just like you. I am still friends with my core group of DC fandom friends and it’s been over a decade of growing, writing, and shipping together. I’m considering dusting off my old fics just for those babes. That’s how real it is.
Anyway; so when I saw “Sum of Our Parts” in Batman: Urban Legends and realized that Tim Drake, one of the Robins I queered (yes, I did that for them all, shush) was getting a queer canon? I just knew I had to write about not just him, but about the Big Two’s queer superhero game. This piece is heavy on DC because that was my main fandom for a huge portion of my life, but there are Marvel references and a quote from Danny Lore, a creator I adore. I think that it’s important to
And of course: there are indie comics with queer superheroes, like The Pride! And those comics exist too because queer fans didn’t see themselves in the mainstream superhero comics! I didn’t cover indie superhero comics for this because the focus was the fandoms, but that’s on me! I’m slowly returning to my roots as a comics fandom loudmouth though, so I will make up for it!
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Titans was the reason why I signed up for DC Universe in the first place way back when the platform was first announced. I’d been in the DC fandom as a fic writer and frequent shouter, so I was prepared for the worst with the show… but I wanted to watch it anyway.
For the most part, I really liked a lot of the first season. It has its issues – and, I have like three posts in-progress about it that I may finish eventually and post on here – but for the most part it’s the kind of show that I like. It’s a show made with fandom in mind, not just fans so definitely it has a lot of content that feels tailor-made for me.
So here’s the thing with the first episode of Titans‘ second season: it feels like the finale of the first one. I think that’s because… that’s what it actually was.
Grayson was a series primarily created by the writer
duo of Tim Seeley and Tom King with art primarily by Mikel Janin, colors by Jeromy
Cox, and letters by Carlos M. Mangual. There are other writer and artist teams
across this series, most notably for the final arc once the main workers were placed
on other DC books. We’ll get to them in a minute since naming them will be
going in hand with me fussing about them.
What’s this series about?
Following the Forever Evil event that took place
across several DC books back in 2013/2014, Dick Grayson’s identity as Nightwing
was revealed to the world. As a result of that identity crisis, Dick Grayson
goes undercover to hide his connection to Batman/Bruce Wayne at St. Hadrian’s,
a private finishing school for female supervillains and spies first seen in Batman,
Incorporated. So Dick winds up doing double duty as a spy and as a teacher
to the next generation of spies, all going along with Dick’s globetrotting
adventures as an agent of the mysterious SPYRAL.
Content warning: I talk about two canonical ships that involve adults and teenagers (one in relative detail and the other not in specifics) and a reference to the writer’s transmisogyny in another series.
Earth-37, the alternate earth that serves as the setting for Batman: Thrillkiller, was one of my favorite worlds in the DC Universe despite the fact that the actual story and art are… problems.
Back when I first read the miniseries, I think it hooked me with narration boxes that see our masked heroes juxtaposed against the transitional period that this Elseworlds tale exists in:
We tend to define our lives by the decades – the gay nineties, the roaring twenties, the depression thirties. The calendar reads 1961 – but it’s a time of transition. It’s not the fifties anymore – the decade of Ike, of McCarthyism, of Jack Kerouac – and it’s certainly not the nineteen sixties of the sexual revolution, of the war in Vietnam, of turning on, tuning in, and dropping out. Like the rest of the USA, Gotham was jumping with a giddy optimism – no one could guess at the dark days that lay ahead.
This first set of narration boxes is set against a backdrop of Gotham City, Batgirl and Robin at the top in shadow and the city they’re attempting to protect at the bottom. There’s something about watching comics try to establish a sense of realism and historical context in their works that just… entertains me. The next few pages establish the historical context of this Elseworlds — JFK is president, Elvis was discharged from the army, and the Beatles weren’t yet a thing. It’s a set of pages that immediately and successfully establish realism and a connection to the time period and it works.
Thrillkiller is a genre mishmash with elements of noir fiction, your sort of typical superhero story, and some air of the 1950s morality movie in the style of Reefer Madness. Which could be awesome except…
Title: 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 »
“… 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 »
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 »
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.
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 »
(Featuring my bestie Robert holding the camera and making commentary.)
I watched Batman vs Superman today and okay, it really sucked. In my opinion. Obviosly.
This video contains serious spoilers for BvS, mispronounced names, me saying Scott when I mean Zack (Snyder), and a metric ton of cussing. Deal with it. It’s also unedited because after almost three hours watching that crapfest, I needed to get my anger at it out as soon as possible.
You don’t have to feel the same way that I do about this movie. You don’t. But if you come out of BvS like “this was the best movie I’ve ever seen”, I’m going to wonder what rock you’ve been living under. DC’s attempt at a cinematic universe isn’t dead in the water yet. Batman vs Superman will probably make BANK despite not making any sense and having a Lex Luthor who put me in mind of a caffeinated hamster.
But that doesn’t mean it was a good movie.
Because it’s not.
(And I’ve liked some bad movies in my time — remember Jupiter Ascending and the bees and the albino angel werewolf soldier? But okay I’d rather watch that Superman movie with Richard Pryor than BvS again.)
Grayson #16 has the most Bond references I’ve seen. It also does this intense subversion of the spy genre’s most annoying tropes and Dick freaking sings a SONG at one point. This was such a fun, campy comic. I had to spend almost 20 minutes talking about it.
Content notes: This post mentions and/or links to descriptions of sexual assault and harassment as well as racism.
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 »
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 »
Art: Karl Kerschl with MSASSYK and Mingjue Helen Chen
Colors: Serge LaPointe & MSASSYK
Letters: Marilyn Patrizio
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 21, 2015
Last month, Gotham Academy #10 got downright Shakespearean when the search for the mysterious Calamity saw Olive Silverlock, Maps Mizoguchi, and the rest of the Gotham Academy gang of intrepid teen detectives placed right in the middle of Macbeth and Clayface’s vendetta against the school’s drama teacher Simon Trent.
This month in Gotham Academy #11, the gang heads off campus to Gotham City proper in search for the truth about Olive’s mother and the connection with the costumed villain Calamity. Oh yeah, and there’s a guest appearance by Red Robin (Tim Drake) because cameos by the Batfamily are always welcome!
For the rest of this review (and my first with Word of the Nerd!!), head on over to the site to check it out!
We’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.
Spoilers and images for the issue abound. Read at your own risk if you’re not up to date!
“It’s Grayson versus…Grayson? To save Agent 1, Dick must face his most dangerous enemy yet: himself.”
This week, the only book I’m reading for #NCBD is Grayson #11.
Thanks to my ridiculously short attention span, Grayson is the only comic I’m reading that I remember to pick up every month from Comixology.
And boy is it worth it.
I mean, it’s got two of my favorite writers (Tom King and Tim Seeley) on the plot with King taking up writing duties for this month , fantastic art and colors from Mikel Janin and Jeromy Cox, and of course, my actual favorite superhero turned superspy in the starring role.
This issue’s summary had me hyped from the first time we saw solicits go out a few months back and of course, the book lives up to the hype.