Hypocritical Hyperbole

The Abomination of Obama's Nation

Why DC Cape Comic fans and I probably can’t be friends. (My thoughts on this whole reboot deal) October 2, 2011

Filed under: comics,Social Commentary — Micah Griffin @ 13:52
Tags: , , , ,

My apologies, this is long. I think it gets away from me a little bit here or there, but overall the point is sound.

I’ve been working on this post for a couple of days now and I just haven’t been able to scoop up the right words. I realized that I’ve been approaching this from the wrong hallway. Instead of trying to talk around conversations and creep into the things I want to talk about. See, this whole DC relaunch has really re-emphasized a problem I’ve been having for a while now but just wasn’t able to quite articulate in the way I wanted.  I’ve stated the problem a few times, but only in a trite one sentence kind of way. Now I have paragraphs of it.

DC Comics relaunch has really been designed to do one thing. It’s partly about gaining new readers, it’s partly about boosting it’s marketshare. Some of it is about showing a more marketable front for WB to make more properties out of. Really though, this entire DC relaunch has been about building a wall. When DC said it wanted new readers what it meant was it wanted the exact same type of reader it always had, just more of them. When DC talked about marketshare and having the “iconic” more marketable characters for WB to snatch up and make movies out of what they’re saying is “we want the characters that the people we want buying our comics want to see.” It’s complete and total.

They said out of their mouths that they want 18-34 year old males. (That’s ME!) They said with their actions they want a specific type of 18-34 year old male. (Not me at all). But what they’ve done that’s absolutely brilliant, is that they’ve hit their core demographic SO HARD that anyone that doesn’t fall in the boys club is kicked super far out. Before the relaunch the marketing voice for DC comics was a bit scattered. They still marketed at the same type of person, but they weren’t stroking that person’s ego as well. Now they’re giving full on hand jobs. I could sit on the fringe before and talk about stuff. I’d still get shut out if I brought up race or gender issues, but it was a lower case stfu.

DC has now built themselves a Universe with a big fence around it. Manning that fence are the hardest of hard fanboys. They’re loaded up with ammo and you can’t get through them. You even sigh with too much of a social justice sound to it and you’re dead. The fans aren’t just not going to sit down to talk to you about the problems you have, but now they’re coming for blood. DC has built a defense system that revels in being insular and awful. Instead of being fifty or sixty thousand people there’s over a hundred thousand in this first month that are ready to fight. More numbers makes them louder and angrier. Now they have like minded brethren to commiserate with. Now they can be persecuted together and talk about how everyone who complains about the depiction of women in these books are just out to martyr them.

This is the part where I used to get derailed. This is where I have to talk about exceptions and such. This is where I say there are women and black people and queers that love all the changes and are a part of the boys club. I know. I know. I’m not getting mired in tangents about margins and the “exceptional” arc types and the people who think this is the way it has to be so they just live with it and people who don’t care and people who don’t see the world the way I do. Bah to it. If you’re in that camp I’m probably not talking to you anyway.

Here’s a thing that happens. I’m in the shop with a bunch of other people. I read a book and something about it irks me. I try and capitulate and talk about how overall I like some stuff and am not saying this is the worst book of all time, but the use of words like “girly or princess” as a derogatory offends me. I say this. What I get is yelled at. Before someone would’ve been like “you’re dumb” now there are four or five people in the shop who are angry at me for even suggesting something like that. Someone asks me what I thought about the red hood book cause it’s known that I’m a big fan of Jason Todd. I say I found the portrayal of Kori really problematic. Those were my words. “Really problematic.” You would have thought that I talked about castrating them and their fathers and sons. I was stunned.

I understand that in the world of Super Hero comics I’m in the minority. I look at things, not in the vacuum of their individual issue (even though looking at books like Catwoman and Red Hood you don’t need to look at the larger picture to understand the problems) but in relation to all the other issues that are put out and have been put out. Not just that, but in the type of images we get in all types of media. I also know American History better than most. Not days and dates, but all that stuff that comes from being a history nerd and reading those boring biographies and academic accounts of what really happened instead of the super whitewashed version of history we’re spoon fed throughout grade school. I know and can tell you why spending most of our time with Voodoo taking her clothes off for white men in that first issue is a problem. I can tell you why slimming down and unbuttoning Amanda Waller’s blouse is an issue. I can talk to you about how often female characters are shown without heads, just tits and ass and why it’s a problem. I can discuss how often female characters are shown in sexually subservient (which is different from submissive) and the message that sends out. We can go on about the number and types of black women there are in comics, the portrayal of lesbians in these books, the purveyance of big black dudes and the little white chicks they hit on, the number of families of color shown together, how the comic book market reacts to these things. I can inform you on the historical and cultural differences that has allowed a number of Hispanic and Asian artists into the industry where there are less of them writing and how almost none of them are women and what that has to do with the almost complete lack of Black writers, especially Black women. (yes, this is that time where I talk about how I’m smarter than you).

I want to have those conversations. I don’t want to ruin your books, I want them to be better. This is the same thing with all areas of life. If we can’t even have this discussion then we can’t be friends. I don’t have any non black friends that aren’t comfortable talking about race. If you want to ignore the biggest part of my life we can’t talk. I don’t have friends that I can’t talk openly with about trans issues or homophobia and such. Be civilized or we can’t talk. Believe what you want, but I don’t bring this stuff up all the time. Shit happens and I talk about it. If when shit happens you clam up, we really can’t be friends. What DC has done is create a solidified group of these people. There’s this larger legion now of people that I probably can’t be in the same room as. The way I see the world is entirely different from them.

This isn’t me saying they’re bad people. Sometimes people don’t want to look at things. Sometimes people don’t notice them. I don’t notice everything. I don’t think I’m a bad person. I also don’t think someone is trying to discredit me when they point out that something I like has problems. They’re just pointing out problems, and from there we can talk.

Saying this also isn’t saying that every book is bad. There are some that I think are just wonderful and fantastic. I think most of the books are just whatever. Some aren’t for me. Some I can see are pretty good, I’m just not interested in them. Others are bad, but not offensive, just not well written or well drawn books. Then there’s some books that are offensively bad, and it’s in that small of categories where we find our problems. That conversation about these small number of awful books sets the tone for the conversation about all the books. Really it’s a shame.

Advertisements
 

No More Backup! August 6, 2011

Filed under: Books,comics — Micah Griffin @ 14:00
Tags: , , , , , ,

I was just looking today at all the things I stuff I have to do. There’s a lot of organization to get done around my place. While I was doing this I decided to order up some of my comics. What do I find? I have whole series of books that I haven’t read. Comic books. I’ve stopped buying new stuff in general. I thought about going back into comics in September with DC Comics relaunch, but now I’m not so sure. School is coming soon, and I have a lot of stuff I own and should read. Why spend money now? Yeah, my one purchase may be what they need to keep a certain book afloat, but who am I kidding. Mr. Terrific, Static, Blue Beetle, Batwing, and Batwoman aren’t going to be saved by my $2 an issue. To me, that’s $10 a month, $60 in six months. I’ll still talk about them. I’ll read them in shops and such, try and drum up support amongst people who actually do buy books all the time, but it’s not my job to save this industry. If the only marketing these books gets goes towards the people who are already going to shops they don’t stand a chance anyway. We’ve seen this. So I’ll wait. I’ll wait and get these later. The internet will have them. The internet has everything. DC is making it easier for me to not buy things right away.

So yeah. I think I’m out of actually buying new books on a monthy basis, or even in trades right away. I can wait. I have things to read.

 

DC’s Action Force: American Defense June 21, 2011

I heard DC was bringing back war comics but updating them for today and tomorrow and all I could do was sigh. Modern War fiction often bores me, and some of it is just offensive. Not to the soldiers or the ideas of the military or any of that, but just to the intelligence of the audience. Nothing says real life military experience like one dude going into a hostile enviroment and single handedly taking out an entire terrorist outpost. Furthermore nothing says real life like regenerating health. Let’s you really get into the boots of soldiers who, once shot a few times, just chill out near a wall for a minute before going right back to what they were doing.

PSA time. War is serious shit. Everyone knows this. No one is going to read Sgt. Rock and think this actually is how war is. I’m not that dude.  I want my DC war books to either be Unknown Soldier or Unknown Soldier. I feel like writers of war comics often have a loose focus. I’m not saying the tone of a book can’t change, I just am afraid of the books not being sure of what they want to be. If you’re going to be a serious look at war, the perils of war, all the greys of war, and the direct impact of war on the soldiers and those around them then do that. Whether you do it well or not isn’t as important as you know that’s what you’re doing. If you are going to be a celebration of military super heroics do that, and do it well. Whatever your focus is, don’t lose it. No one is going to join a mercenary crew after reading BlackHawks, but this may be someone’s first or only exposure to those ideas. You ideas will be their ideas. Don’t mud up your message whatever it is.

 

BlackHawks

Just read above. I’m super worried about how this title is going to turn out. It sounds positively G.I. Joe. Kill the bad guys before they kill us? If the book is going to be super black and white I hope it is that. If this is going to be a super violent update to G.I. Joe then let it be that and don’t flinch.

No Thanks.

Sgt. Rock and the Men of War

See above again. This one is even trickier to me. I can see this going sooo sooo bad.  I just have no idea if they know what they’re doing. I hope it’s good, but I’m just not holding out any hope.

No thanks.

StormWatch

Uh oh. This could be dangerous too. Lot’s of fans to make angry. So the Wildstorm people must be sweating bullets over what DC plans to do with Midnighter and Apollo. DC guys must be wondering what Martian Manhunter is doing with Stormwatch. I think it’ll turn out better than Captain Atom: Armageddon. My personal plea is that at some point in time Engineer and Doctor are brought into it and don’t suck.

I’m not gonna buy it, but I’ll flip through it to see if DC is able to make this merger work.

All Star Western

Jonah Hex is one of DC’s best books. With one major exception that I can think of, for the past seventy issues or so you can pick up each issue and walk away with an entire story. If I ever had an extra $3 I snatched one up. Gray and Palmiotti are fantastic writing team. I wonder since this book is no longer theirs if we’ll see Bat-Lash, The Trigger Twins, Vigilante, Nighthawk, and other characters of that ilk. I also wonder if They’ll bring back all the amazingly racist Characters like Tomahawk, Pow Wow Smith, and Scalphunter.

I’ll give this one a pass over as well. Hope to hear good things about it.

Deathstroke

This costume needs more sharp angles. No, really. More of those please.

Until I finish his old series I’m not buying another book with Deathstroke on the title.

Grifter

A lot of people talk about how good the Grifter character is. I’ll take their word for it. I did see the movie “Grifters” with John Cusak and I didn’t hate it. I have a feeling this will be nothing like that. Bummer.

If this gets great reviews I’ll flip through it. Not imagining this is a title that’ll change my life.

OMAC

Love OMAC. Great character design. One of the best designs in all of the DCU. That said. I’ve read issues of Dan Didio’s outsiders. Bugger that noise.

Unless King of the Douche’s John Byrne comes back to write it I think I’ll pass. Or if they bring in that dude from “Jersey Gods” to draw it.

Suicide Squad

That  Harley outfit is absolutely disgusting. Nothing can get me to read this book.

Blue Beetle

I hope half of this book is in Spanish. I hope all of his insane friends are there. I hope they don’t ignore the fact that this kid is Mexican-American and deal with all the problems that come with that. I want a good laugh out loud moment at least once an issue, if not twice.  This book won’t last long, so since it’s going to go out, I hope it goes out with style.

 

Batman Part 2! Holy Bad Marketing Batman! June 17, 2011

Batgirl

I think DC’s marketing of this has been absolutely deplorable. Really tasteless. They do this thing where they announce Barbara Gordon is coming out of the wheelchair to be Batgirl again. They don’t give any more information than that. Then when fans who are attached to her as a character and the fans who look up to her as a symbol that people in wheel chairs can be important too get upset they brush off the responses. Then in the first issue when we learn she’s wearing some super suit and is still in the wheelchair otherwise DC will say “look all you stupid people who complained” all while getting more attention. Does it make sense marketing wise? Yes. That doesn’t stop it from being really disingenuous and cold hearted. The truth is they’re making her Batgirl to sell comics. Plain and simple. We know the big two aren’t into making social statements so they have no reason to care for the fans who want their icon. The move to make her Batgirl doesn’t offend me nearly as much as the way DC treated it. Further marginalizing an already marginalized people isn’t the most enduring thing of all time.
That said, if they undo “Killing Joke” I’ll be a little happier. I find that to be one of the most disgusting stories in DC history. We already know the Joker is a bad dude and that Commissioner Gordon is a good guy. That story had absolutely nothing to do with Barbara. She was just used as something to stuff into a refrigerator. It isn’t even like Sarah Essen in No Man’s Land. Joker had no idea she was Batgirl, he just knew her as Gordon’s daughter and abused her in an attempt to get at Jimmy G. I know people love that story, but I hate it. Love what writers did with Babs after it, hate that it happened the way it did in the first place.
Not buying this book on principle of bad marketing.

Batwoman
I AM buying this book on principle of JHWilliam III. I know he isn’t drawing it, but Amy Reeder is really good and I am sure he’ll have some input on layout. If this book can make it on time then I will be a very happy person. Well, if it is on time and good.
Nightwing
As I have mentioned before I do so thoroughly enjoy Dick Grayson as Batman. I thought Batman and Robin was the best book on shelves when Morrison was writing it. I have almost no experience with Dick as Nightwing outside of the One Year Later stuff. I hope this is good.
I will wait on good reviews and maybe look up the TPB. P.S.  Who the heck is Kyle Higgins?

Red Hood and the Outlaws
Read the title of this blog. Go ahead and scroll up and take  a look. I’ll wait.
Got it?
I’m so getting this book. Scott Lobdell has written a lot of books, of which I have read about two or three of. No idea if he’s any good or not. I do know that it doesn’t matter at first. I will definitely buy this trade because I love Jason Todd. It makes no sense. Almost everything Todd has done since coming back from the dead has been about loads of violence and blowing up stuff and death and all that, but I don’t care. Dude is cool, I want his book to be cool. He has guns and stuff and is hanging out with a two armed Arsenal and a silkieless Starfire. Let’s hope the silkie thing gets rectified. Screw that ugly looking Teen Titans book.

Batwing
*Breathe Micah*
Batman of Africa is terrible. Now, unfortunately I have had time to cool on this. I already wrote a blog post about how dumb this is. Now, this is another situation where DC is killing themselves in the marketing department. Winick has come out and made super capitulating clarifying statements, and to that I am grateful. Not everyone reads Newsarama or Comic Book Resources or whatever other comic book news and interview sites don’t hear that. They hear DC saying that this new Batwing dude is the Batwing of Africa. Like I said before, Africa is HUGE. It is a continent and not a country. It is not a city. Africa is a continent with 54 recognized states (mostly thanks to colonialism). There are so many more people groups in those countries. The world of Africa is so diverse. Yet we lump it together like it’s Gary, Indiana or something. It is frustrating and insulting.
After reading Judd Winick’s softball interview (‘so Judd, you’re really good. How really good is your book going to be?’)  I feel a little better about it and am going to give it a try.

That’s it for this stuff. I think the next post is on DC’s weird choice, which is fun.

 

DC COMICS REBOOT: Culture Crisis. June 6, 2011

Much ado has already been made about the DC Universe reboot that is coming in September.  I’m not going to drag on forever and ever about this, but I will say that I don’t care. I wish Marvel would do this too, because it ultimately is good press for the industry and doesn’t matter even a little bit. There is a universe changing event in DC almost every year now, this is no different.The one thing that always happens with these events is that the changes only last as long as either sales or creative teams do. A new writer comes in and wants to put their stamp, or work with the old status quo and it is allowed. If the sales go down those changes disappear as well.

They’ve annouced a few handful of books so far and some little to no info on each of them. Some of the stuff is sending fans into a frenzy. I will admit to being caught up with that as well, but now upon further reflection I feel a little stupid. There are certain messages being sent here whether DC wants them to be sent or not. These things are awful. DC needs someone better in their PR department than anyone they currently have. They need to think deeply about the decisions they make and the ramifications of them. It is clear that they often don’t.

The two things that get me most angry could be changed or explained away very quickly and easily. Barbara could become oracle in the first issue of the new Batgirl. She could be shot down at the very beginning and be put right back in the wheelchair. They may choose to do that and then be all like “See! we didn’t change that aspect of the character!” The problem with that is they would have spent the three to four months prior to this saying that there is no need for strong physically disabled characters for people to identify with. That is just not well thought out.

The next one is quite literally a bigger problem. Batwing, a character making his first appearance in the pages of Batman, Inc., is dubbed “The Batman of Africa.” Before we get started, yes, Bruce Wayne would be the “Batman of the United States of America.” That’s all well and good but the USA has four billion super heroes in it (99% of which are white) and really spends all of his time in Gotham City. When not in Gotham there is a Robin, the Birds of Prey, and other less popular heroes to stay in Gotham and keep the streets only slightly grimy. While our buddy batwing may only serve in one city in Africa when the book starts there is the problem of spending four months (and maybe more) calling this dude the freaking Batman of Africa! OF AFRICA! The whole damned continent. It’s HUGE. It’s bigger than the United States. It’s bigger than Europe and Canada and South America. How Big Is Africa?! So this is something that needs fixed. Africa is not one country, it is a Continent, with many different countries in it, and many different people.  It’s not just where all the Negroes of the world came from and need to go back to, and people need to stop acting like that’s what it is. This shit is just insulting.

Later on I’m going to go through all of the titles DC announced and say something about each of them, but for now I’ll just say that DC is doing a crap job with how they’re marketing this. If you want to be mad about this stuff, then go ahead and be mad. Just don’t get mired down in the fake discussions of how important resetting the universe is on a continuity level, because DC has proved how unimportant it is time and time again. This is just another Crisis with social problems all of it’s own.

 

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents are GO! July 19, 2010

Filed under: comics — Micah Griffin @ 20:16
Tags: , , , , ,

This is just a placeholder to see how terribly DC botches this. They’ve completely and totally destroyed Milestone after the merger. That property is just dead in the water now. They came close to assassinating the archie characters but at least they’re giving a go at making them universe relevant. More a go than the Milestone characters ever got. I’m not sayin’ I’m just sayin. Now the third acquisition of last year is getting it’s go. It’s been over a year since they announced they owned the T.H.UN.D.E.R. Agents licence and in November they’ll finally do something with them. I’m torn. One part of me wants this to be a phenomenal failure like Milestone was, the other part of me really likes the absurdity of the characters and wants them to find a niche in the Universe.

Actually it doesn’ matter, not like I’ll be reading any DC Comics when this comes out. So for the poor sods who will be reading, here’s hoping it’s good.

 

On Wonder Woman June 29, 2010

Let’s get this out of the way. Read the title of the blog. Got it? Good. Keep that in mind for the duration of this piece (and all pieces, but especially this one you think skinned, soft bellied humps).

I hate nerds. Yeah, I fall  into the nerd category in some ways, but I’m not one of THEM. You know who they are. You know exactly what they’re about. Killing comics. That’s for another day. Today is about Wonder Woman.

Have I read the issue #600? Nope (is that even out yet?), but that hasn’t stopped a lot of peoples opinions and it won’t stop mine. The costume is fine. Personally I enjoy costume changes. Especially  when they go from stupid to not as stupid.

Thanks IGN. Don't sue me

That’s the new one. I kinda dig it. Better that wretched monstrosity she had  before. Mainly for one reason.  This makes her less embarrassing an archetype. I get  all the explanations for what female super heroes where, I really do. Most of them  make as much sense as sticking all the future Negroes on a temporal island to explain why we aint in the future. Whatevs.

The truth of the matter is (and this problem belongs to more than just comics) some women just can’t take any of this with any remote level of seriousness because of the way they’re dressed. It’s a bunch of cheesecake and ridiculousness. Now, a few of those characters wouldn’t be awful, but it runs the same problem comics have with all their minority characters. When there are only a few of them it’s much easier to notice the flaws. Powergirl’s reasoning for that hole in her suit work much better when everyone isn’t exposing max cleavage. (This is where the haters come in with exceptions that prove the rule).

It’s  no secret that the only run on Wonder Woman I really loved was the Denny O’neil stuff. Yes, it was super cheesy and what not, but it was full of adventure and fun. A bonus was that at least 40% of her outfits made practical sense. The best one was the super all white suit.

Peep that sick suit on the right

Don’t be mad. You know it’s luxurious. But seriously, don’t be mad. We all know the change will last three to six issues and she’ll quickly revert to the tried and true outfit people love. Gotta show them booty shots.

Before you think I’m over exaggurating this here, let’s not be quick to forget the reaction to Jamal Igle putting a skort on super girl. Think that was purely about having things the way they were? Naw bruh. That change is all but imperceptible, except when the skirt blows up, which tends to happen when fighting intergalactic baddies. Why dudes mad? Cause they can’t see panties, which turns them on. That’s a huge part of this. The wonder woman costume turns dudes on, and they just can’t get that hard on the same way with her in Jeans. I wish they had gone all the way and  popped that girl in a t-shirt too,  just to make it worse on the fellas.

We are in the middle of setting things back to the way all the middle age white guys who read comics had it when they first started reading, so when something goes away form that they’re not going to like it anyway. As always, these issues aren’t just black and white, but you’re an absolute fool if you think losing the cheesecake isn’t part of the internet reaction to this stuff. The comic fanbase is small and getting smaller and that hardcore section likes what they like. What they definitely don’t like, is change. I do wonder how they would’ve felt if she went straight bikini though. I do bet you they could sell that shit on tv.