Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Comic reviews!

Spoilers after the jump for Brightest Day #23 (but no mention will be made of the identity of the White Lantern), Secret Six #32, Young Justice #2.

Brightest Day #23
Fucking hell I didn't see that coming!  Good move DC!
In less spoilery thoughts, I love the addition of elementals - Firestorm is fire, Martian Manhunter is earth, Aquaman is water, and the Hawks are air.
I mean look at that, it's gorgeous!
In other news, the White Lantern remains quite the bastard.

Secret Six #32
The story of Ragdoll, Scandal, Catman et al in hell is great.  The story of Scandal going to rescue her ex girlfriend from the depths of hell is fucking great - partly for political reasons, partly for fannish oh my gods I love Knockout reasons.

The story of Scandal's other lover - Liana, the stripper, is not so great.

Now, one of my problems with comics is I tend to hold the writer responsible for everything in the issue (unless it's Amanda Connor, then I forget the writer exists and assume she does everything for the comic).

Anyway.  As I said, I hold the writer responsible - I forget that there is another group of people doing the pencils, the colours, the inks, the letters, and also the editors, and that this also has an effect on how we, the readers, understand the story.  (As I re-read this before I publish it, I realise I should clarify - it is not not fair of me to hold the writer responsible).

So, I like Gail Simone, I like her a lot. I like her as a person, I enjoy her twitter and tumblr, and I enjoy her comic output.  But I have difficulties with this sub plot of Liana's abduction.  Because of my tendency to assume the writer is fully responsible when I read this I thought 'oh no Gail, how could you'.  This was very wrong of me.  But, onwards with my reactions to this subplot.

It reads like yet another cliched, sexist trope.  The abductor/abuser has none of the subtleties of characterisation Simone usually supplies - instead he reads like rent a misogynist.  Now, part of this is due to the art (hence why I made the effort to distinguish between the writer/artists above).

Liana is shown terrified, helpless, without any power.  When I think back to how Zinda and Helena were portrayed when captured in recent Birds of Prey issues, I wince at how this sex worker is now being portrayed.  Zinda and Helena looked tough, safe and in control.  Liana looks the polar opposite of this.  Now, I know that they are very different characters, Zinda and Helena are superheroes, Liana isn't, but still, that shouldn't automatically make her helpless and, well, more of a cipher than a real character.

Part of it is that this comic doesn't happen in isolation.  We always hear about sex workers in danger.  But it's not set in a context where we actually care about the sex worker's health or safety - instead it's more often used as a way to slut shame women.  In this context, i.e. yet another portrayal of the sex worker in danger from ruthless, predatory men, hurts.  It reminds of me of that post by harleyquinnaid that I crossposted a month or so ago.

I had hoped that I wouldn't be reading this sort of tacky violence against women story in (what I view as) a feminist book, but it seems I am wrong.  Then again, should I hold all books to my standards?   Is it fair to me to hold the book to account against (my perceived) views and politics of the writer?  Should I demand that books are made just to fit my particular views?   Might I be wrong about my interpretation of these scenes?

So, really, I am not happy with the art, but I am also not happy with the whole direction of the subplot.  To make it clear, I am not wholly blaming the writer or the artist, or the editorial team.  This isn't a personal dig at anyone.

I am well aware that we are just 2 issues into this storyline, and it might all change later on.  Maybe Liana will get more characterisation - she did get some last issue.  Maybe the art will show her in a more defiant manner.  Maybe she won't be drawn as all victim.  I don't know.  I don't want to slate and bury one individual issue when it's part of a bigger arc, and I hope it will get better, but as it stands, this issue made me sigh and left me frustrated.

Comments/thoughts/discussion welcomed.  In the reviews I have read of this issue (admittedly not a whole lot as I haven't been massively active in the blogosphere later) no one has talked about Liana's story.  This makes me sad.

Young Justice #2
I'm really liking this.  Superboy is the main character (so far anyway) but M'Gann did turn up towards the end of this book.  I am very sad that G-Gnome got taken away, and I can only hope that the thing comes back later on.
I'm also really digging the redesigns of Martian Manhunter, Aquaman  and the Hawks.  I'm having difficulties finding pictures of the comic online (there's tons of the show, but they are subtly different) so you'll have to deal with my descriptions.

Aquaman is int he familiar orange and green.  His boots and forearms are gold.  He has short blond hair but is also rocking a beard and moustache.

The Hawks are in battle armour with big shoulder pads, gauntlets, shin and knee guards.  Hawkman has black armour with a gold belt, breast straps, shoulder pads, gantlets.  The shin and knee guards have a gold rim.
Hawkgirl is in similar but her breastplate is gold and she has red stripes on her legs.
Both Hawks look like they are wearing a variation on Amazonian battle armour and both are pretty much fully covered up.

Martian Manhunter is in blue and red, is also fully covered up, and his cape has a high neck with what looks like 2 clasps pining it to the chest of his costume.  It looks quite solid and meaty.

I also got Superman/Batman.  We got an explanation of dark Kara which I appreciated.  James Robinson has a good handle on the character.


SallyP said...

Yes, the White Lantern is quite the douchebag.

I am rather hoping that Liana is going to be able to get herself out of trouble and destroy a few body parts of her captor along the way.

Eyz said...

"dark Kara"
What d'you mean, like evil Mary Marvel??
When did this happen?! What did I miss?

Saranga said...

Dark (and evil, controlled by Darkseid) Kara first happened in Superman/Batman: Supergirl (http://paipicks.blogspot.com/2010/09/supermanbatman-supergirl.html) - the arc that introduced her.

And of course she recently went dark in the current JLA run, but in a different way. She was still a hero, but a more stroppy one. We don't know how it fits into current continuity yet, as she isn't dark in her own title. She's better now.

Eyz said...

Yeah, I remember in her introduction when she was (temporary) controlled by Darkseid. But this new Dark Kara seems to be something completely different altogether.
And not in her book, huh?

Could she be a separate character, than maybe the characters don't even know of yet?

All these talks about Supergirl (dark or not) reminds me of that other recent Supergirl nobody remembers about, Cir-El. I know she was created (and taken care off) for the Story arc she was introduced in..but I kinda liked her^^

Oh well, I'll go back reading Superman 10-cent adventure, #190-200 and Action #806-8 instead..

Saranga said...

She's not a seperate character, she is quite definitely Kara. If there was any doubt beforehand the explanation for her going dark in JLA showed that she is teh real Kara.

I think editorial just haven't worked out how to mesh the 2 stories (JLA and Supergirl) together.