Friday, December 18, 2009

The DC Lesbian

The comics code was something that in many peoples minds stifled the comic book industry for decades; moral ambiguity was impossible, mature subject matter was strictly taboo and sexuality was banned outright. Of all these things I personally found the third the most frustrating, as the human condition is pretty much defined by sex and sexuality. You don't need moral ambiguity to tell good stories, and mature subject matter is usually mature in name only. Sex on the other hand, well, one of the major (and pretty much only) story arcs in Superman was his relationship with Lois Lane. When nothing else is possible, nookie provides characterization.

When the comics code finally went to the wayside, an interesting phenomenon happened; sex suddenly appeared everywhere. Everybody was banging everybody else, and all that repressed sexuality that mainstream comics had pent up suddenly exploded in a giant orgy. Only problem was, it was generally weak as hell and existed for sales and titilation over characterization. Probobaly the only positive thing to come out of this sexual revolution was that homosexuality suddenly became a relatively common occurance. Northstar, from Marvel's Alpha Flight was the first openly gay superhero and many others followed suit, although pretty much every single one was a secondary character or alternate universe version, watering down their impact.

DC on the other hand did something very different; namely LESBIANS! LOTS AND LOTS OF LESBIANS! Oh, there are a couple gay men, but the disparity between the two groups is astronimical. For instance, when a female character in the DC universe comes out, it's almost as if there's a rainbow coloured power ring that flies up to them and says "Amazing Chick, you have shown great ability in eating pussy. Will you join the lesbian league?" Then teleports her off to another lesbian so they can have a relationship. Meanwhile, a gay man is more than likely going to be a bachelor his whole life, as the odds of him even getting a KISS is slim to none. In fact, that's the last I'm going to talk about gay men in DC, because that's about as much effort as DC has put into it.

The lesbians however, oh boy. Truth be told there hasn't been that much more effort, there's a nice shiny formula for lesbians in the DC universe: Character A comes out. Character A begins relationship with Character B. Character X (X being the more high strung character) becomes insanely co-dependent and must be by character Y (The other one) at ALL times, usually in cheesecake poses as they reunite again. And again. And again. Finally something happens that ends the relationship, either Character Y's death or sudden realization about how insane this relationship is, thus leaving Character X. Character X goes into a spiral of self-pity and destruction which we have to hear about CONSTANTLY. If Character X is still selling comics after this complete, begin process again with character C. If the character is not selling books, shove them into the background only to pop up now again to mope some more about how Character Y is gone.

Honestly I haven't seen this formula strayed from at ALL. It is frustrating, insulting and has not worked once. Probably the biggest tragedy of this formula was Reneee Montoya, who was considered one of the best non-meta characters in the Batman mythos. She was tough, capable, honest and responsible and brought a new energy to the Gotham Police that had for the longest time been focussed entirely on Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock. When she came out as a lesbian, I was stoked. Finally there would be a character whose sexuality added to the rich tapestry of a character instead of defining them. Ah the foolishness of youth. Almost immediately the reliable Renee Montoya became another victim of the DC Lesbian formula and after her run in 52 (which to be fair was very good and ALMOST redeemed her, especially making her the new Question) was very quickly pushed back into the background. The last attempt to make some money off of her was the awful Books of Blood miniseries which proceeded to destroy the last vestiges of Renee Montoya and created yet another generic DC Lesbian.

I think in the grand scheme of things this frustration comes not just from the poor handling of homosexuality in general but sexuality as a whole. I don't care if a character is gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever, what I want is honest treatment of that character. Let things happen naturally, and let the characters define their actions, not editorial mandates. Peter Parker going off to a nightclub and tongue-fencing a bimbo on the dance floor right after One Day More is not honest characterization. Obviously you have to be prepared for some high-emotion drama, this is entertainment after all, but there has to be more than lip service played to emotions and feelings; they're what make characters come alive.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green Lantern: From Rebirth to Blackest Night (Prologue)

In 1994 in an attempt to recover their failing sales and stagnant image, DC Comics decided to do a grand experiment. Namely, they were going to get rid of almost every major character they had and replace them with newer, hipper characters bearing the same name. In some cases this was a huge success (Death of Superman) others it fell flat before it even got started (Wonder Woman in a coma). The one that probably caused the most outrage however was the fate of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern. Instead of having him fall heroically to a new and fearsome villain like the other titles, Hal simply went batshit insane after his home city was turned into a smoking crater and proceeded to destroy the Green Lantern Corps and and his overseers the Guardians of the Universe in a misguided attempt to make things right. In doing so he became the villain Parallax and became a major villain in the DC Universe for a while until his somewhat redeeming death.

Fans were outraged at this, feeling that a man as staunchly moral as Hal Jordan would NEVER let himself fall so quickly into a homicidal rage, and to a certain extent I agree with this. That being said I agree with it because I don't think the build was good enough. Quite literally between two comic panels do we see Hal snap. No deep quandary, or exploration of his helplessness and own mortality. Nope. One second he's kinda mopey and the next he's off to kill him some blueskins!

And in the grand scheme of things, that was the problem with Emerald Twilight; it was way too short. Whereas Death of Superman and Knightfall took months and months and months to tell and explore the whole story, Emerald Twilight lasted 4 months. And whereas the aforementioned titles took a great deal of time showing the sudden mortality of two of the greatest heroes in the DC universe, ET was, like I said, 2 panels long in terms of character arc.

The one positive thing that came out of Emerald Twilight was Kyle Rayner, the new Green Lantern who became a huge success, effectively saving the franchise. He was idealistic, far more playful than the stern Hal, and younger so he could appeal to a younger audience. He also had a horrible introduction and had almost no characterization for waaay too long. In fact, in many ways Kyles development is based entirely on the fact that every girlfriend of his dies horribly. Nevertheless, I personally prefer Kyle to Hal.

Writing aside, I do want to say that I was happy with the decision to replace Hal Jordan. He was becoming stale as a character and the steady stream of weak writers had been unable to expand upon him pretty much at all. He'd basically become Superman-lite, with the same infallibility and moral certainty that leads to stagnation and loss of quality.

To be honest, I actually even liked the Parallax concept. Taking one of the moral compasses of the DC Universe and turning him into a twisted version of his former self is a great idea and can open up all kinds of interesting stories. On top of that, bringing in someone who is clearly not as powerful or skilled as said villain and making him the last line of defense against horrible catastrophe is the epitome of reluctant hero/underdog epics, which almost always draw in the readers.

Despite the fact that /I/ like the concept many people weren't so stoked and fanboy rage echoed across the internet and comic forums quaked at the thought of angry Hal fans charging through in their neverending quest to redeem Hal Jordan. DC stuck to their guns however, and wouldn't budge.

Until 2004 when they called Geoff Johns to shut up the fanboys once and for all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Yes, that's right, I'm a wrestling fan.

It's true, I'm a sucker for that great con job known as professional wrestling, and I take very little shame in that. Yes, it's become watered down and stupid in the last decade, but the physical art form is still present and if the mainstream companies (I.E. WWE and TNA) would actually let the matches have some TIME people would see that.

As Jim Cornette likes to point out, MMA and Professional Wrestling are the exact same thing; book a fight between two people the fans would like to see and are willing to pay for. The fights occasionally end with controversy and there are a variety of finishes. The only difference is that MMA is real (although I would beg to differ based on a single word: Bisping). That said, Pro Wrestling provides (When done right) the same visceral and emotional stimulus that MMA does, except you have more consistently enjoyable matches as the thing is planned out and the workers should know how to work the crowd. A big note; this is when a match is done RIGHT. When it's done wrong, well, it's not so satisfying.

Now that I've got that out of the way, I want to get to my main subject, namely what I hope will become a regular bit on this blog (even though this is only my 2nd post) namely, wrestling show reviews, specifically Ring of Honor.

Why Ring of Honor, do you ask? Because nobody seems to be doing it! websites like and The Wrestling Fan love to tear down the WWE and TNA, but never give much time to Ring of Honor except to take shots at them for being the one show smart marks seem to watch and 'enjoy'. I think they deserve some focus, so I'll start with this week's episode, the December 7th edition of Ring of Honor on HDNet!


Welcome to the very first post in what could very well be a short-lived blog, but hopefully not as I need an outlet of some kind to wax pretentious over the many things I observe and make judgements on daily, and this seems like a convenient (and free!) way of doing just that. So off we go!