|—||Jennifer Hale, talking about voice work on Justice League and iconic characters.|
So I’ve been gone for a while, partially because I’m tired, but mostly because I’m lazy. But it looks like there’s finally something that makes me want to ramble to the Internet again!
Being a DC fan, I of course always want DC to prevail over Marvel in pretty much anything. Not because I hate Marvel, I don’t. I actually like a lot of their characters. I by no means want Marvel to fail at anything. I just want DC to do better. I can’t really say who does better in comics. Again, I think DC’s stuff is better than Marvel’s, but I really don’t know enough about the comic book industry to say who performs better in it.
In movies, Marvel is the clear winner. DC woefully underperforms on the big screen, with Nolan’s Batman films being the only good movies of theirs as opposed to Marvel’s entire movie universe, plus Fox’s X-Men movies and Sony’s Spider-Man movies (although to be fair, I still think Green Lantern and Jonah Hex were far better than Fox’s Fantastic 4 movies, but that’s not saying much).
One of these four people would go on to redeem himself.
On TV, I’d argue that DC probably does better. Marvel’s only genuinely great series in the past decade are Spectacular Spider-Man (which was sadly canned after 2 seasons) and X-Men Evolution. Stuff like the current Avengers cartoon and Ultimate Spider-Man are good, but none of Marvel’s shows really hold a candle to DC’s heavy hitters like Justice League, Static Shock, and currently, Young Justice, which is probably the best thing on TV since Justice League Unlimited ended.
But of course, there’s one more medium out there I haven’t covered yet: Video games. Superhero games don’t exactly have the best reputation, but I’d have to say Marvel is currently in the lead. DC’s made a good show recently with Rocksteady’s Batman games, but that’s kind of it. DC Universe Online is good, but how quickly you’ll get tired of it kind of depends on how much of a DC fan you are, and objectively, the game’s not that special. Marvel has the ever-dominating Marvel vs. Capcom series, as well as the excellent Marvel Ultimate Alliance games a while back, and Spider-Man 2 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine are considered to be some of the greatest movie games ever. And of course, DC is also responsible for one of the most hated games of all time.
God damn it.
DC’s most recent failure in the video game industry, however, was a fighting game: Mortal Kombat vs. DC. This was clearly an attempt to combat Marvel vs. Capcom, and it was a dismal failure, being considered one of the worst MK games of all time, largely due to DC wanting the game to be rated T, causing it to be censored. For those of you not in the know, Mortal Kombat’s reputation isn’t exactly built on being friendly for all audiences.
Pictured: The reason the ESRB was created.
Today, however, DC announced a new game. Another fighting game. The game is called “Injustice: Gods Among Us”. Here’s an article with included announcement trailer. The game is being made by Neverrealm Studios, who rebooted Mortal Kombat back in 2011, and this announcement trailer looks pretty soild.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC failed because it was made to compete against an already popular franchise. Trying to include DC characters in an environment they didn’t belong in diminished the identities of both DC and Mortal Kombat, creating a final product worth less than the sum of its parts. DC just having a self-contained fighter, however, could work really well. The gameplay system can be something tailor-made with this universe and these characters in mind, and I’m hoping it will be something really special. Now, of course, the matter of the roster needs to be discussed.
On the DC side, Mortal Kombat vs. DC included the following characters: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Catwoman, Joker, Lex Luthor, Deathstroke, Captain Marvel, and Darkseid as a secret character who could be unlocked when you completed story mode. Characters like Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Nightwing, and Doomsday were also planned to be DLC, but never got included. This time, since DC doesn’t have to share the spotlight, there will obviously be more characters.
So far, there are six confirmed characters. First is the obvious big three: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Flash, Harley Quinn, and Solomon Grundy have also been confirmed. And I could swear I saw Lex Luthor in the trailer as well, so we can bump it up to seven. This game is the first video game to be influenced by the New 52, as seen in some of the costume designs. I actually first mistook Flash’s armored hand for Iron Man’s, which reflects his new, more armored suit in the comics, and Harley Quinn still looks horrible. Interestingly, Batman’s suit actually kind of reminded me of George Clooney’s Batman from Batman and Robin, a film that is hated by nearly everybody except me, which I find to be an interesting choice. (Thankfully, I don’t think there were any Bat-Nipples)
Let these never haunt man again.
But when thinking of the roster, who they include in the game will come down to two things: Who is popular enough to sell the game, and who they want to use the game to push. Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are obvious choices, and the Flash got pretty popular on Justice League, being the character that appealed to kids more. Grundy seems to be a push they’re making due to the success of Arkham City, while Harley Quinn is a character that DC’s been trying to give her own identity separate from the Joker in the past few years (kind of. It seems to flip back and forth) But who else will they include? Green Lantern’s a pretty obvious choice, but then it becomes a question of which Lantern. Hal Jordan, who heads the main GL book? John Stewart, who is very popular due to Justice League? Hell, maybe Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, who it looks like DC are retooling as a gay character in Earth-2? Aquaman, Animal Man, and Swamp Thing’s books have all had very positive reception right now, although none of them have much mainstream appeal. Maybe DC may include these characters. (They just had Swamp Thing appear in Animal Man Annual #1)
I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I just hope there are alternate outfits, so I can put Harley Quinn in her original, non-horrible costume.
This analysis is fucking genius. The friendship that develops between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner was one of my favorite things about The Avengers, but I never really saw past the surface of it.
Contains spoilers, of course.
There are no words to describe my feelings about this relationship. But I’m going to try.
First of all, their parallels. Both geniuses, top of their field. Both suffered an accident that physically changed them, forever, and not in a wholesome Spider-Man kind of way. Both try to do what they can to help others despite their own issues; Banner heals people, Tony works on developing clean energy. And both struggle, in their own way, with duality; Tony and Iron Man, Bruce and the Hulk. Two identities, one body. Only difference is Iron Man’s bad side is Tony.
I mentioned somewhere that Tony sees a bit of himself in Banner because they both have a monster inside them that they can’t control, a creature that springs fully formed from the id, the base impulses and the nasty stuff at the back of the mind. Bruce’s is a giant green rage monster. Tony’s trashed a party in Iron Man 2. Banner has a control over his that Tony hasn’t quite achieved yet; don’t think I didn’t notice Tony pouring himself a whiskey when confronting Loki. Tony is envious, fascinated, and most of all, impressed by Bruce’s control.
So he doesn’t walk on eggshells around Bruce like the others, because that’s not what Bruce needs. Tony sees Bruce’s restraint, sees the quiet, brilliant man making self-deprecating jokes in the corner of the room, sees the way people look at him like he’s going to snap any second, and thinks “nope”. Tony does what no-one else aboard that Helicarrier does. He trusts him. He makes jokes and jabs him and teases him and above all, treats him exactly how he would treat anyone else— he has a great regard for Bruce’s brilliance, and tells him so, but he doesn’t try to ignore the Hulk in the room. When he says “wow, you’ve really got a handle on this, haven’t you?” he’s not saying “gosh, it’s incredible you haven’t snapped yet and killed everyone on board” he’s saying “I know you have a handle on this, you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t, so I’m gonna poke you with this sharp object to prove it”. And you can see Bruce relax, and smile, and trust him back.
But then Tony goes even further, and invites Bruce to come to his R&D department. I’m pretty sure the two of them drive off together in Tony’s car at the end of the movie to do just that. And, okay, sure, Bruce is smart, but Tony’s tech is his baby. How many people get invitations to come and see his work? He invites Bruce because he recognises his brilliance, yes, but there’s another reason. He’s inviting Bruce to come down and work with him after this is over. He’s giving Bruce something to do next, a purpose, an alternative to disappearing into the ether to be alone with his monster. Tony knows from experience that being alone with your issues doesn’t end well, so for what’s only the third time in his life he extends the hand of friendship to a guy he’s known barely an hour.
And then, he tells Bruce to let the beast loose. Not just because they need him to fight, but because it will help him. If Bruce can take this thing that he sees as a curse and turn it into a gift, well, that’s going to lift him out of a very dark place. I’m not saying Tony knew about Bruce’s attempted suicide, but I think he had a suspicion that Bruce had been, in his words, “low”. So he encourages Bruce to take all that crap and pain and the Other Guy and use him to help people; after all, that’s what he did.
And it pays off. Nobody— nobody— thinks Bruce is going to turn up for that final battle. You can see the look on Natasha and Steve’s faces when Tony asks if Bruce turned up yet. They’ve counted Bruce out. Guy’s a mess, right? He’s too volatile. Doesn’t play well with others. He could never work as part of a team. No-one thinks he’ll come through when it matters. Except Tony. He has faith in him, and that faith is rewarded. It’s no wonder the Hulk is the one to catch Tony. Tony’s the one who helped let him out. He’s just returning the favor.
I have a problem, children of the glade. A really serious problem. I have an obsession with Batman that borders on psychotic. Lots of people are fans of Batman. He’s pretty much DC’s most popular superhero, easily eclipsing that other guy that DC’s known for.
You know, this guy.
But my Batman obsession has gotten worse and worse these past few months. This only became a bigger issue when I started actually reading comics. When I was looking through all the New 52 titles, deciding what to get, and saw all the different titles with Batman in them, I’d made a decision. A decision to only read one Batman book besides Justice League. I had settled on Batman and Robin, and you know, for the most part, I’ve done pretty well in keeping myself restrained. I guess you could say I buckled when I bought World’s Finest #1 last week, which has Huntress in it. But honestly, I only got it because of Power Girl. I honestly don’t like Huntress that much. Pretty much the only time I liked Huntress was in Justice League Unlimited, and that’s exclusively because of her relationship with The Question.
This is my OTP.
But, this week, I finally broke. And it’s all thanks to evil genius marketing. DC is currently doing a special Batman event called “Night of the Owls”, relating to the Court of Owls, the current villains in Batman’s book (the one that’s just called “Batman”, not the other three books he’s the title character of). It’s one of DC’s big events, but this one just ties in to all of Gotham City and the Bat-Family. Of course, seeing how many titles are related to Batman, that’s still about 25% of the New 52. Now, the cameo in Justice League I could handle. I was like, “Yeah, ok, whatever, it’s cool.” But when Batman and Robin tied into it? Shit hit the fan.
This is why I love Damian Wayne. Kid’s 110% badass.
Batman and Robin’s on my pull list, so of course I had to get it. It was glorious and full of intrigue, and it kept me wanting more. So I finally buckled. I finally got all 9 issues of Batman, Volume 2. Keep in mind that I’m already planning on reading Batman Inc. when it comes out this month, and I’m thinking I’ll have to drop something from my pull list before this starts getting way too expensive. The biggest candidates for that are probably Blue Beetle, World’s Finest, and Batman and Robin at this point, because this current run of Batman is the greatest thing from the New 52 so far, and now that it has its hooks in me, I can’t stop reading it.
In addition to all of this, Batman Annual #1 comes out later this month, and with it, the return of my favorite villain. I have an addiction, and I most certainly do not want to be cured.
I want to clear something up about yesterday’s post, children of the glade, specifically, some of the parts about Wonder Woman.
This one’s for any Lynda Carter fans who felt cheated by yesterday’s post.
While lots of Wonder Woman’s history is full of weird sexuality stuff, I feel I misrepresented her creator, William Moulton Marston, as a sexist pig. See, that’s not true. He was into some freaky shit (at least by his time’s standards), but he was by no means sexist. Marston DID believe women were naturally submissive, but like I said before, he felt it was out of nobility, not weakness. He felt women were actually the superior gender, that their capacity for love was what made them amazing, and that utopia was a society completely run by women, one with no more war, crime, or any of mankind’s ills, a society of love and wisdom. Wonder Woman’s home, Themyscira, was also known as “Paradise Island”, a reflection of this belief.
See, here’s the key thing about Wonder Woman. Yes, she was supposed to be a strong female figure that girls could look up to. But it didn’t just stop there. Wonder Woman was also supposed to be a positive role model for boys.
Quick, let’s steal this kid’s presents while he’s still out cold!
Last February, Dwayne McDuffie, one of my favorite writers, died at the age of 49 due to heart complications. It was a sad loss for the comic book industry, as I feel McDuffie had the potential to be the next Stan Lee, and his most famous creation (who I’ll get to in a minute) had the potential to be the next Spider-Man. Dwayne McDuffie was a genius, having worked on great shows such as Teen Titans and Justice League, and was a huge proponent of diversity in comics. The thing is, for a long time, black characters were a novelty in comics. Black characters like Luke Cage and even (during his early days) John Stewart, (the black Green Lantern, not the prominent television comedian) were used as blaxploitation, rather than written normally.
Who’s the private black space dick that’s a sex machine to all the alien chicks?
Now don’t get me wrong. On its own, blaxploitation is not evil. Sometimes it works really well, and when written well, a black guy whose more stereotypical black behavior being an important part of his character works just as well as a woman whose sexuality is part of her character. But Dwayne wanted more. He was one of the founders of Milestone comics, and the creator of several well-received black superheroes like Icon, Hardware, and his most famous creation: Static.
I haven’t read the comics, but I did grow up watching Static Shock on TV. And as that was written by Dwayne McDuffie, I think it’s safe to guess that how Static was portrayed on TV is pretty similar to how he was portrayed in comic books. Static is a great character, and a good person. He’s smart, funny, has a good heart, is loyal to his friends and family, and while he makes mistakes, he does try to fix them. Sounds like the perfect role model for black kids, right? No. Static is a great role model for ALL kids.
I couldn’t really find a relevant picture, so here’s Static trying to, I don’t know, stop Richie from drunk scootering or something.
A minority character shouldn’t strive to be just a role model for people of their group, but for all people. That’s not saying everybody has to be the same. A character’s race can be a major part of their identity, as can their gender or sexual orientation. There is nothing wrong with who they are being influenced by what they are. But if a minority character is done well, they’ll be a role model to people not part of their minority as well. When I was a kid, I wanted to be cool like Static and level-headed like John Stewart, and the fact that I was white didn’t make me think I couldn’t be (though I have now accepted that I will never be cool for other reasons). I wanted to be confidant like Wonder Woman, and the fact that I was a boy didn’t have anything to do with why I admired that confidence. Because the characters are all people, (even if they’re aliens) and a good person is somebody everybody can look up to, no matter what kind of person they are.
So, I saw The Avengers yesterday, children of the glade. I could fanboy on and on, but assuming many of you haven’t seen the movie, I’m not going to, at risk of spoilers. Long story short, it’s the best action movie I’ve ever seen. Best superhero movie? Eh… I dunno. I think Captain America told a much better story. But I was really surprised with how well they used Black Widow. When Black Widow first showed up in Iron Man 2, she didn’t really do anything, at least not anything memorable. She was just kinda there to blatantly tie-in to The Avengers. In this movie? Full character study, lots of great moments, and a wonderful performance by Scarlett Johansson that didn’t exploit her body. I mean, yeah, they still showed it off, but it wasn’t the focus of her character, and you were usually paying more attention to what was going on rather than how her suit accentuates her ass (quite nicely, if you’re wondering).
This is a wonderful change to something I have a huge problem with in comics: How women are portrayed. Specifically, their outfits. And it’s not something that hasn’t been said before, but I really feel like I need to say it again: The way women are portrayed in comics is insanely sexist and exploitative. Let’s start with the world’s most famous female crime fighter, Wonder Woman!
This is the Wonder Woman I grew up with. Sorry, Lynda Carter fans.
Wonder Woman’s origins are neck-deep in sexuality. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, also famous for creating the lie detector, which tied in to the magic lasso of truth (GET IT!? TIED!? LASSO!? AHAHAHAHAHA) You can read the full details on Marston’s Wikipedia page, but basically Marston was really, really into bondage and submission stuff. He believed that women were naturally submissive, but that it was out of nobility, not weakness. At the same time, he wanted Wonder Woman to be a strong character, albeit who solved problems not with fisticuffs, but love. But, like I said, Marston liked bondage. Wonder Woman’s weakness was that she would lose all of her power if he hands were bound behind her back by a man. Lots of covers featured Wonder Woman tied up and in trouble.
Oh, baby. Somebody needs a spanking.
But still, Wonder Woman’s original outfit is interesting. It’s for the most part the same, except she had a skirt. As time went on, this got replaced with the more iconic star-spangled panties. And of course, some people would call it inappropriate. Personally, I don’t know. I think a large part of it is the way that she’s drawn. Wonder Woman’s costume is essentially a one-piece bathing suit with some magical armor motifs thrown in. There’s a little bit of boobage visible at the top, but ultimately whether it’s scandalous or not kind of depends on context and art style, and the outfit is revealing, but I’d argue that for the most part, it’s harmless. Unlike during Blackest Night, when Wonder Woman was inducted into the Star Sapphires. That’s right. They actually found a way to put Wonder Woman in even less clothing. But my current complaint about her outfit can be seen in this image:
With the reboot, DC’s been using the Justice League as their main flagship title (which, you know, makes sense since it’s some of their biggest heroes all together). One of the things they wanted to show off were the new costume designs. Everybody’s costumes look like some kind of armor instead of spandex now, and people have taken notice of the change. However, two changes stood out the most: Superman’s red briefs are gone, and Wonder Woman is wearing pants. Now, why am I complaining about Wonder Woman getting pants? I’m not. I think it’s fantastic. Except, well, here’s Wonder Woman’s first appearance in the Justice League run.
Notice how she’s not wearing pants. But ok, it’s cool, I’m cool. The first six issues of Justice League take place at the very beginning, when Wonder Woman first comes to America from her island. Issue #7 starts with a five-year timeskip, when the League are established and beloved heroes. Surely Wonder Woman’s in trousers now, right?
Huh. Nope. Ok, ok, calm down. What about her own book?
You motherfuckers. You know, like I said, I don’t really have a problem with her costume in itself. I don’t like how they changed all the gold to silver, but that’s just a color thing, not a lewdness thing. But DC promised to put Wonder Woman in pants, and 8 months later, there still aren’t any fuckin’ pants! (Although fuckin’ pants would be kinda counter-intuitive to the whole sexism-diminshing thing.) But hey, at least it’s not as bad as Power Girl.
Power Girl is a great character. She’s funny, confident, strong, and smart. She’s got a lot of her shit together, runs a successful company, and is a great superhero. You would never guess this by looking at her, because come on, woman! Boob window? Really? Power Girl’s first appearance was in All Star Comics #58, in 1976, in which she already had the boob window. After doing some research, I’ve found this blog from 2008, which covers Power Girl’s costume changes up until the reboot. Apparently some of her costumes didn’t have boob windows, but this was changed relatively quickly. Now, why am I making such a big deal about the boob window? Well, it’s because the boob window can’t be anything but sexual, contrary to what DC tries to claim. And yes, DC has made multiple claims. Once, they tried to explain the boob window as some tragic symbol. Another time, they claimed that “This costume only shows what I am. Female. Healthy. And strong. If men want to degrade themselves by staring and drooling and tripping over themselves, that’s their problem. I’m not going to apologize for it.” DC, I have three choice words for you:
PG’s boob window cannot be anything other than something sexual. Either own that, or ignore it, but don’t deny it. It is not her being a strong woman, it is something that was done to make the character more appealing to male readers, the comic market’s biggest demographic. It’s true, there are many women who like to express empowerment through sexuality, and there’s nothing wrong with that. “Slut-shaming” is a serious problem many women face, and if a girl’s comfortable with being sexy, there’s nothing wrong with her wanting to flaunt it a little, although there certainly are times and places when it is not appropriate. However, Power Girl’s boob window is not a woman asserting herself. Power Girl is an alternate-universe version of Supergirl, Superman’s cousin. Power Girl’s breasts are considerably bigger than Supergirl’s. Why are Power Girl’s breasts considerably bigger than Supergirl’s? Because Power Girl was created by men. Men who had to make a product to sell to boys, and couldn’t just sell Supergirl again. When I play DC Universe Online and this is the loading screen that comes on, my mind becomes less occupied with a strong woman comfortable with her body and more concerned with hoping the fucking level loads before somebody comes in the room.
That said, I don’t particularly hate Power Girl’s boob window, I just hate what it represents. I hate the over-sexualization of women in comic books. I hate how ruining a character like this is what comic writers think people want to see, to the detriment of the actual story. This is not right. This is not right. THIS IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT FUCKING RIGHT.
I get it. Sex sells. But for once, could you please respect our intelligence? I’m not saying to get rid of a woman’s sexuality. I’m saying that if you want to make the woman loving her body or her sexuality an important part of her character, do it well. Don’t just make it a shameless ploy, write it smartly, and nobody will be complaining aside from the moral guardians. Please, just… Cover somebody up, ok? Is that too much to ask?
Well, thank you!
Note: I’m aware that Power Girl and Huntress are now fully covered up in their New 52 incarnations as of World’s Finest #1. I just chose to show Ms. Marvel’s upgrade to Captain Marvel because I really like the outfit.
And we’re back, children of the glade. Last night I mentioned I was too busy playing Batman: Arkham City Lockdown. Today, I talk about it.
Firstly, I’d just like to say that I’ve been one of those gaming snobs who thinks that casual cell phone games are beneath them. I’ve played Angry Birds, going, “Please, I played this years ago online when it was called ‘Crush the Castle’” and also going, “WHY THE FUCK ARE THERE ANGRY BIRDS FRUIT SNACKS IN MY SCHOOL BOOKSTORE!?”
So last night, I was on the iTunes store wondering if by any chance Aquaman’s Rousing Song of Heroism was available for purchase before just stealing the audio via Snip Mp3, because I like to get things through legal means first. It wasn’t, but then I also came across Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, and noticed something interesting immediately.
Holy shit, those are the graphics from the Arkham games proper! And on my iPhone? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!?
Well, I’ll tell you what: Arkham City Lockdown is a prequel or tie-in or something to Arkham City (I’m honestly not sure, the game doesn’t have a story to speak of). The whole thing takes maybe a little over an hour to play through all the levels, but it’s still enjoyable. At its core, the game is a fighting game, created by Netherrealm Studios of Mortal Kombat fame.
You basically swipe your fingers across the iPhone (or iPad) touchscreen to fight guys, delivering combos, dodges, counters, and using your gadgets with the icons on the bottom left of the screen. Beating guys gets you experience points, which you level up with and get points to upgrade Batman and his equipment, just like in the actual games. You can also unlock alternate costumes, though I’m not completely sure what the unlock criteria is. The costumes change your health, damage, and attack speed though, so it’s more than just an aesthetic choice, unlike the DLC costumes in the console game.
Oh, and the game is fully-voiced too, with the same cast from the game, including Kevin Conroy, Tara Strong, and even Mark Hamill. Like I said before though, the game’s really short. A little over an hour for the first playthrough, although if you wanna 100% it and get all the power-ups and costumes and stuff, gameplay time is extended. It’s a fun time-waster, but really, it would take a die-hard Batman obsessive to recommend this game.
So yeah, I recommend it.