Category Archives: My Week in Comics

We Need to Talk About Furiosa.

My weekend blogs are usually a collective of thoughts on the comics I’ve read since my last rundown, but this week I want to focus on one, and one alone. We need to talk about Furiosa.

If you follow my blog, or have read any of my past posts, you will know I was among the many who highly sung the praises of Mad Max: Fury Road (which I argued should really be titled Furiosa’s Road), primarily for its fantastic Hollywood-shattering portrayal of women: fully developed characters in an action-packed movie so scarce on dialogue – never weak or purely plot devices. You can read my full appreciation of George Miller’s return here: https://faceittiger.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/mad-max-furiosas-road/. Surely, then, my excitement that the release a Furiosa spin off comic, to coincide with Vertigo’s new Mad Max franchise series, is understandable – and one voice in a chorus of many.

Oh boy.

Be careful what you wish for.

I’d like to begin by stating that, whilst obviously trying to remain in canon with Fury Road, it does not. This is not smoothly linked in, and it’s certainly not the prequel we deserve.

The beauty and brilliance of Fury Road is that we understood the background these women were escaping from without having to actually see it. The implication was enough, and the clipping of the belts added that extra nod just to make sure everyone was keeping up. And the women, each driven to gain their freedom, were so diverse: a shared goal from unique perspectives, each bringing something different to the team. It’s surprising, then, that Furiosa #1 has completely ignored these fantastic characteristics. Most shocking of all, although disappointingly unsurprising in the comics industry, is that almost every plot point is driven by rape. And not just the implication: graphic, brutal, disgusting, unnecessary rape. The powerful subtlety of Fury Road has been completely besmirched by Furiosa #1. Let’s take a closer look at just how wrong it went.

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The Wives

When we first meet the wives, we learn that Immortan Joe has gifted them with education: books, music, history lessons. Indeed, we’re told that giving these women a teacher was his “one fatal error”, because we all know how dangerous a group of educated women can be. Anyone else’s alarm bells ringing? And we’re only on page two…

The issue of education is brought up repeatedly throughout the 40-page book, and really makes each of the wives look like ignorant little flowers that desperately need protection. Rather than pulling from the implications in the movie that each of these women were interesting and led their own lives before being captured by Immortan Joe, they rely on Joe’s kindness of giving them a teacher. It doesn’t matter that Toast knew how to load a gun, and what ammunition to pair with each weapon when the other girls didn’t; or The Dag knew a thing or two about seeds (there’s one condescending page in the comic where they’re learning about peaches, their pits, and ‘oh, wow, seeds help things grow’). These women didn’t learn things through experience and share their knowledge with each other while held captive; they’re not interesting individuals: they’re lambs wrapped in blankets. The extent of focus on education is unnecessary, and could easily have been replaced by the women swapping stories from their life before. As Ana Mardoll stated in her fantastic post on Shakesville, “to me (and I’m guessing other women in theatres), it was no ‘mystery’ as to why the women knew things; they knew things because they were people.”

But it’s okay, you know. Immortan Joe really is a good guy, because he gives them such nice things. Books, music, knowledge, water. Surely being held captive, beaten, raped, held for a man’s pleasure is much better than freedom. Pfft. Who needs free will, amirite?!

I’m not joking when I say this is genuinely the attitude the majority of characters have in this comic. Furiosa tells the women just how good they have it; Joe asks “WHERE’S MY GRATITUDE?!”; and teacher, Miss Giddy, tells them to just “Stay calm within your core. In that place, he cannot reach you.” Great, because suppressing trauma is definitely the healthy and normal thing to do. I can have a bath, so please, continue to treat me as property!

The wives are treated as idiots by both the creative team and the other characters. They’ve just to put up and shut up, because it’s a lot better than anything else. They certainly aren’t capable of surviving outside by themselves, as Furiosa venomously reminds them. Miss Giddy also confides in Furiosa, telling her that the girls need a leader since they’re incapable of surviving alone. They’re reduced to nothing more than whimpering damsels, reading about peach pits.

To make it worse, the majority of their interaction with each other is when they’re being bitchy or emotional – but not, as Mardoll explains, genuinely emotional and deep, but “girly emotional”. They’re catty and cruel. Capable lashes out at Furiosa for not protecting them from Joe, and then apologises because she’s jealous. That’s right – she’s not mad because Joe’s raping them and keeping them against their will – that would be ridiculous! She’s got the red-headed temperament and is green with envy; “The moment you walked through the door… I was filled with envy. You looked so strong. Proud and Independent. A warrior magnificent.”

Am I the only one banging my head off the wall here?! The wives have been stripped of every single trope that made them so fantastic and interesting in Fury Road, and have been turned into dribbling children who need to be wrapped in cotton wool, and whose lives really aren’t that bad because they have baths and books. And to make things worse, their motivation for change isn’t the rape, or forced child bearing, or being held against their will – IT’S BECAUSE FURIOSA HAS TAUGHT THEM AND THEY SHOULD TRY TO BE LIKE HER.

The writers have well and truly created women who can barely tie their own shoes without guidance, never mind fight for their own freedom. They can’t think for themselves, apparently can’t survive themselves, can’t educate themselves. Urgh, I can’t even…

Furiosa

Oh my goodness, guys. We’re about to learn the back story of one of the most kick-ass women in cinema history. I bet it’s good! Okay, here we go, time to find out what happened to her to make her into the badass monster she is today. Ready?

Oh.

She was raped.

Great…

The creators have seriously missed an amazing opportunity. This could have been the chance to explore just what makes a female heroine, who is adored by male and female audiences, so intriguing, so mysterious, so awe inspiring. But no. I wish I’d been at the creative round-table:

‘So, guys, what motivates women? Where did Furiosa come from? How did she become a war-rig driver? And what about robo-arm?! The possibilities!’

“She used to be one of Joe’s wives, she was raped, and why not hint that she’s probably barren – so a rejected wife?”

‘GENIUS! We know how well that kind of approach worked out for Whedon!’

I held my head in my hands for a good ten minutes after reading Furiosa’s backstory reveal. I can’t get past the poor plotting. It’s like being presented with the Golden Ticket to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but cashing it in to buy a life supply of advent calendar chocolate. But even then, surely Furiosa should have been more determined to help the wives rather than encourage their compliance? The narrative is weak, the writing lazy, and the opportunity wasted.

Their Bodies

One of my biggest problems with Furiosa #1 was the way in which pregnancy and women’s bodies were treated. On page three, we’re treated to a very graphic vaginal exam, in which the panel is framed by female legs. I’m sure this seemed like a fantastic creative idea, but as a woman who is now being forced to look through the eyes of an abused woman in a hugely intimate scenario with three slobbering guys in my vision, it’s unbelievably insensitive, and kind of insulting. Way to make a woman into a literal framing device, team. *slow claps*

We learn that these exams are so Joe knows when peak ovulation times are, which suggests his raping of these women is to repopulate with his teeny army of warlords. Haha, what suckers we are! They pulled us in with that trick, didn’t they?! It seems that the women are required to regularly ‘perform’ for Joe, and Toast’s disgusted sigh of, “where he puts it, there’ll be no babies” tells us that it’s as much for pleasure as it is for repopulation.

The list goes on and on with where the creative team totally missed the mark here. The girls are angry that Joe decides it’s finally time to rape Cheedo – the girl who is so young, she’s not ovulating yet – because she’s the only one not “infected by your poison”. Way to exploit the guilt felt by victims of sexual abuse, guys. There’s an attempt at abortion with a coat hanger which is overly graphic. Abortion is compared to war – I don’t think I need to expand on the idiocy and insensitivity of that. The writers can’t seem to grasp that, sometimes, women don’t want babies. Again, Mardoll brilliantly summarises the situation; “The movie narrative felt inclusive to me of differences between the wives: whether they wanted to abort or adopt out of their current pregnancy and have children, they were united in not wanting to bear warlords. Now the comic has twisted that to be a statement about a specific child, making the women’s flight for freedom just as much about ‘protecting’ that child from warlord-training as it was about making reproductive choices on their own.” And she’s right – in Fury Road, the women wanted total freedom: of their bodies, of their minds, of their choices – and they’d do anything to get it. In the comic, they are 100% objects. Their bodies, their minds, and their children and choices belong to Joe.

The Creative Team

The narrative structure of Furiosa #1 is almost an ironic paradox. When we come in to the story on page one, we’re met by a male storyteller, recounting the events of their tale to a captive audience, acting as an uncanny mirror of the comics’ entirely male creative team expressing the experiences of a female centred comic to their readers. I’m not saying men can’t write women – there are so many examples to shut that kind of argument down immediately. However, it’s important to remember that Miller was so desperate to get his sense of how women would respond in certain situations right in Fury Road, he enlisted the help of Eve Ensler (author of The Vagina Monologues) – and it certainly worked in everyone’s favour. So why not do the same for the comic?

In investigating unique female voices further, it’s necessary to draw upon genuine female experience. By ignoring the female voice, the creators of Furiosa #1 have resorted to the lazy writing tropes that have haunted women in comics – and blockbuster media – for decades, and that’s what completely destroys this comic. For example, as I stated already, rape is used repeatedly as the motivation for the plot to move forward, as well as providing “character development” (if you can call it that). Shall we count the excuses? 1. Furiosa is enlisted as protector of the women after Rictus attempted to rape Anghard; 2. Furiosa doesn’t stop Joe from raping the girls on page 10, because he’s the boss, and he’s giving them a nice life, right?!; 3. Furiosa’s a badass because she was raped herself; 4. Furiosa holds the girls back once more from Joe during the Cheedo incident; 5. Furiosa finally decides to help the girls, after seeing them repeatedly raped and abused. That is FIVE excuses in FORTY pages – technically, thirty-eight pages. That’s more than once every ten pages!

The handling of characterisation is so poor, it’s embarrassing. Gone are the women from the screen, replaced by whimpering idiots who need to be led. And even when they do begin their escape, it’s not as the team we saw in the movie, but as bubble wrapped ornaments, bullied by a condescending Furiosa. Theron’s depiction of Furiosa was determined and hard, but never cold nor hurtful to the girls. She was maternal rather than monstrous: a militant mother on a mission, and hugely likeable. It took me a long time to snap out of wanting to shave my head and drive around the desert. But here, she’s just as guilty as treating the wives as inferior idiots as Joe and the comics’ creative team are.

URGH!

Reviews and Responses

If the content of the comic didn’t make you angry enough, the response by the creative team and DC/Vertigo has been just as sickening.

When contacted by Rebecca Vipond Brink, asking for a comment on the Furiosa #1 issue (in all senses of the word), DC responded with “Thanks for reaching out, we appreciate it! We have no comment to provide and are declining the request.” In other words, “we couldn’t care less.” Great – thanks for caring so much about change, fan response, and female representation in comics, DC!

To make matters worse, when called out on Twitter, Furiosa #1’s co-creator Mark Sexton responded with:

“Best answer is that the use of institutionalised rape by Immortan Joe is not only central to the story but without it, the story could be viewed merely as a bunch of young girls whining about being kept in relative luxury by an older man who’s concerned with their safety. Not really much room for dramatic tension there…!”

Erm… Am I missing something here? It’s okay to keep people captive as long as you’re not raping them? Well, alright then. I’m sorry, Immortan Joe – you are a stand-up guy! Please, continue to lock up women to your hearts content!

Sexton has totally missed the point here. We all knew rape was a part of the back story. We’re not idiots – give your audience some credit. But it does not have to be the root cause of everything. It does not have to be the sole reason these women are fighting for freedom. It does not need to be the reason Furiosa is a mysterious soldier. It does not need to be shown so obviously, and played upon FIVE TIMES. It does not need to be the reason for appointing Furiosa protector of the wives, and it certainly doesn’t need to be the motivation for her finally helping the women.

In Furiosa #1, these women have lost themselves, reduced to little more than wombs and a robotic arm. I am so disappointed in the rich pool of opportunity which has clearly been ignored, only for comics to return to the static state of using women as little more than plot devices – but that’s where the problem lies: it’s a comic about these women – using them as plot devices in their own story doesn’t work. It makes it dull and even more infuriating that thought hasn’t gone in to establishing strong backstories in which these characters can be defined as different, interesting individuals.

I, for one, will be boycotting the book from here on out, and am disappointed that Vertigo agreed to print it in the first place. I would urge those of you with any interest in a Furiosa comic, and in learning more about her backstory, to stick to the fan-fic online and keep the fond memories of the powerful, developed women of Fury Road fully intact.

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My Week in Comics: Secret Wars – Tidying Up the Multi-Verse.

Secret Wars

With Marvel’s Secret Wars event in full swing, the entire universe is slowly beginning to pull together, with whole new #1’s tying up loose ends and planting new seeds. These multi-crossover titles add extra depth to the Secret Wars scenario, but are they worth jumping on board with?

Secret Wars #3

Completely bewildered by the events of Secret Wars so far? Join the club! Lucky for us, all begins to become clear in issue three of the eight-part series.  Universes are colliding, and the past is starting to resurface for the characters under Doom’s rule. Having re-read the first three issues together, it’s obvious that by the time Secret Wars finishes, it will be epic in scale. Now that the multi-verses are undergoing huge upheaval, I cannot wait to see how and where things end, and where new beginnings lie for so many beloved characters.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1

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With our Secret Wars heroes facing little but destruction and devastation at the moment, Peter Parker has a tough choice to make. Now a husband and father, he begins to question his duty as Spider-Man. Is risking his life to aid the Avengers worth it if it means possibly losing MJ and Annie? In an event which is primarily an examination of survival, it’s an interesting perspective to see Parker struggle with this choice. Either way, he is heroic. He can actively save lives by being in the Avengers, or he can hang up the suit and save his family. It will be interesting to see how his final choice affects him, and everyone around him, in upcoming issues.

Is it worth picking up as a Secret Wars tie-in?: Absolutely. A completely new take on the complexities of being a superhero during huge events, where we’re reminded that they’re also human. It’s a question of priorities, and the flux of what great responsibilities really are as heroes grow older and their lives begin to change.

Armour Wars #1

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You’ve probably guessed it already, but Armour Wars is centred on the Starks. Set in Technopolis, we see a world which relies primarily on technology for advancement. Opening with Albert Einstein’s quote, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. The human spirit must prevail” is a powerful sentiment which echoes throughout the whole book. In a completely armoured world, where humanity and technology appear to have merged into one, and memories of running free without being encased in metal are distant and melancholic, it’s a haunting examination of how reliant humanity has become on technology. It’s also disturbing to imagine a world which feels it needs to be encased in a world of armour.

Is it worth picking up as a Secret Wars tie-in?: It’s a very interesting idea, and sets up for a much larger storyline. Establishing a feud within the ever turbulent Stark family, it’s raised a number of questions which are yet to be answered. A fun tie-in for Iron Man fans, or those with a particular interest in the human relationship and reliance on technology.

Giant Size Little Marvel: AvX #1

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Skottie Young strikes gold again with his adorable and hilarious take on the characters of the Marvel Universe. Giant Size Little Marvel plays exactly to Young’s strengths: his unique artwork and tongue-in-cheek writing style makes a comic about tiny avengers and x-men appealing to audiences of all ages. Filled with quick-quips, subtle jokes which make you linger over every panel, and over-the-top references, there’s something in this book that every Marvel reader of all ages will enjoy.

Is it worth picking up as a Secret Wars tie-in?: If you’re looking for light relief from all the fighting and universe upheaval, Giant Size Little Marvel is the book for you. Any Skottie Young fan will be delighted with his latest work, and its self-aware silliness only adds to its appeal. Full-on fun!

Old Man Logan #1

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Alongside creating brand new stories, Marvel are revisiting some of their older renowned stories to see how their universes are coping under the stress of Secret Wars. Old Man Logan is one of these titles. With Bendis picking up the powerful pen which Mark Millar once wielded, we return to the gritty world of Old Man Logan. Much darker than most of the titles on offer from the Secret Wars range, it was a fascinating read which enthrals and entices the reader. Exploring a desolate wasteland after the heroes are gone, Logan is determined to discover more of what’s going on. With the tone of a dark Western Gangster movie, with absolutely stunning art and colours from Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo, it’s a welcomed return to the comics-verse for the old man.

Is it worth picking up as a Secret Wars tie-in?: Yes. Dark and gritty, not only is it stunning to look at, but it’s a compelling read which carries the tone of a Japanese vengeance movie in the grim underworld of the wild west. Bendis is a worthy successor, offering a much more personal view of how Secret Wars is impacting the multi-verse.

Years of Future Past #1

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The mutants are never going to have an easy time of it, and alongside the death of so many during the Secret Wars, it’s inevitable that humans have once again pointed their finger-of-judgement towards those they fear for being different: mutant-kind. This time, we follow Christina Pryde, Kitty’s daughter, in the struggles against the Sentinels that are hunting the few remaining mutants. It’s a very powerful book, which brings the haunting history of the holocaust crashing into the modern era. Yes, it retraces a lot of Days of Future Past’s steps, but seeing it through new eyes, it’s an interesting examination of right and wrong, and what makes people “human”.

Is it worth picking up as a Secret Wars tie-in?: All fans of X-Men will undoubtedly enjoy this tie-in, and it’s a good one for anyone not keeping up with Secret Wars. Although there are a few references, it’s easy enough to follow without having to know the entire back story. With the style and tone of its predecessor, Years of Future Past is a great read with a lot of potential.

Outside of Secret Wars

It’s not all one big Marvel mish-mash of stories tying into one – many of our favourites are still continuing as usual, as well as a few new additions!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6

If you hadn’t already guessed, I adore Squirrel Girl, and it’s only getting better. This issue, we meet some new characters, our narrator is wittier than ever, and there’s a Girl Squirrel talking chiit to people. Charming as ever, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl goes from strength to strength! You’d be nuts to miss it!

Princess Leia #4

Princess Leia also seems to be finding its stride, and with astonishing sales figures each month, it’s great to see so many people invested in following her solo adventure. I cannot get over how gorgeous the art in this book is, and each issue I continue to admire Leia’s strong will. There’s an interesting parallel between Leia and women in comics and sci-fi, in that she is constantly being underestimated by everyone. Yet, she knows her own power and continues to fight to do the right thing. A new hope in comics!

Groot #1

On the back of Rocket Raccoon’s solo story success, the loveable tree-rogue, Groot, now has his very own series. It’s very sweet, and an interesting idea which will undoubtedly face challenges. How do you keep a character who only speaks three words from becoming boring? Surely the novelty will wear off? Yet, for having limited vocabulary, Groot is astonishingly expressive and emotion-filled in this first issue. There’s character beneath the bark. It will be fascinating to see if Groot’s roots can plant itself firmly in the comics’ universe.

The First Rule of Fight Club…

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The long awaited sequel to Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club has arrived! Being an overly-obsessive Palahniuk fan, I was excited yet wary to see how the sequel to his smash hit novel (although, apparently more people disappointingly recognise it from the Fincher movie) would work in comics form. It’s fantastic that Palahniuk is penning the story himself. We are not forced into an adaptation, but to the natural continuation of the story by the man who knows it best. What happened once we closed the final chapter of Fight Club?

We return to the life of our unnamed narrator (now named Sebastian). He is now on multiple medications for his ‘mental-illness’; is married to Marla and is father to a child; and is unhappy as hell. His life is falling apart. Palahniuk confronts the return to ‘normalcy’ as bluntly as possible: Sebastian’s life is crap – he’s unappreciated at a dead-end job, he feels very little, and he’s very aware that his wife is in love (or lust…) with his alter-ego. Tyler Durden is both the best and worst thing about himself.

Not all authors can transition their work from book to comic, but Chuck Palahniuk’s writing suits the comic structure perfectly. The timing, tone and tension are masterfully crafted. This is only enhanced by Cameron Stewart’s fantastic artwork. Combined, each panel is carefully and cleverly structured to add depth to the undoubtedly unravelling mind of Sebastian/Tyler. The distortion and disruption of panels by pills and petals demonstrate a sense of disarray in everyday life. Clever and gripping, Fight Club 2 looks to be a promising work of art, in both the literary and visual sense.

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My Week in Comics: Thor Almighty!

“Raise Hel, Goddess of Thunder. And let the rest be damned.”

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The big reveal has happened! Through the twists and turns of Thor #8, we finally learn who now wields Thor’s hammer – and she’s more than worthy!

The opening panel of issue 8 is astonishing: breathtakingly beautiful as Marvel’s army of females strike their battle poses as they attempt to destroy the Destroyer. I’ve really loved the depiction of women in this female-led Thor run. Never are the superheroes posed in an awkwardly sexualised manner or as skinny stick-figures, but as strong warriors. You can really believe that Thor is Thor, because she has the arms to hold Mjolnir. Athletic, not anorexic.

The story has also been consistently strong, and the anticipation building in the panels leading up to Thor’s true identity makes the reveal all the more powerful. The good news: the first trade collection of Thor: Goddess of Thunder is out NOW! The bad news: you won’t get far on the internet without the reveal being spoiled, so catch up soon!

Heroes in the Modern World

One of my favourite things about modern comics is seeing them fit into the modern world. Many of these superhero characters have been around for decades, so it’s always fun to see them adapt to the modern world. One example of this was found in Silk #4, where we see Peter Parker and Johnny Storm playing video games together. However, as Silk goes on to prove, we sometimes you can’t beat a good ol’ fashioned superhero hang-out as she and Johnny get their flame on during their first date by beating up bad guys.

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Perhaps this is what is so appealing about the new Howard the Duck series (with #3 being released this week). Howard the Duck is the modern approach to the idea of the “funny book” – a comedy adventure story which really does not take itself seriously. But its constant tip-of-hat to various pop-culture references both inside and outside the Marvel universe makes it all the more entertaining. The Spiderman joke in #3 had me laughing like a lunatic, whilst I nodded in appreciation at a Scott Pilgrim reference. It’s things like this that keeps comics fresh, and adds that extra connection with the audience.

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The Walking Dead #141

The twist between leadership styles was cleverly portrayed this issue: but who’s got it right?

“Lad culture is based upon the unscientific premise that women are genetically identical to Kleenex. It’s like creationism.”

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The first issue of Giant Days, I was unsure. Issue 2, I was willing to keep going. Issue 3: I am totally on board! This issue confronts lad-culture (and the usual female response) head on, and it is fantastic. It’s a popular trend these days for young men, or “lads”, to shame others they don’t see as being quite up to their standards on the internet. For example, girls are usually “sluts”; homosexuals are usually “fags”; and obese people are, well, usually the butt of all their jokes. And lads are usually the young men who sleep with as many “sluts” as possible, and make amazing jokes about minorities which they call “banter”. I don’t think I need to go much further in explaining how disgusting and derogatory “lad-culture” is. Luckily, Giant Days #3 does this for us!

In this issue, Esther has been on a night out, got a bit hammered, and ended up in a top-ten list on a University ‘lad/banter’ website. Humiliated, she understandably wants to crawl in a hole and die. Who wouldn’t?! And when her reports are ignored by the University as ‘harmless fun’ (which actually happens in real life – really, it’s a thing. Google it!), she loses all hope of ever regaining dignity.

Not only does Giant Days highlight the absolutely disgusting and objectifying nature of lad-behaviour, it also goes on to question that ‘fine line’ between feminism and misandry. Susan, in hope of avenging her friend, goes on a man-hating rampage, canvasing the campus about how terrible all men are because of this lad-culture.

Ultimately, Giant Days is a funny, but eye-openingly aware look at our modern society. All too easily is this newfound ‘lad-culture’ dismissed as ‘banter’, when in the harsh light of day, it’s bullying. It’s a free pass to objectify women and humiliate anyone who doesn’t fit into the ‘lad’ club – one I won’t be applying for membership for anytime soon. The fact that Universities and education systems tend to dismiss this kind of behaviour is awful: why let discriminatory behaviour go unpunished when it can lead to quite devastating effects for its victims? “It’s just a bit of fun” is exactly what Giant Days calls it out as: “Bad explanation!” But similarly, to combat this kind of behaviour, us ladies can’t go around pointing the finger at every male on the planet. It’s everyone’s problem.

The CW Sneak Peeks

The trailers for The CW’s Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow have been released, and I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about each of them! Admittedly, when Supergirl was originally announced, I had many reservations: they’d need to get it just right since it’s Supergirl – and that’s a big deal. Plus, how will an alien story fit in with all the very human (or meta-human) groundwork Arrow and The Flash have already established? Will it fit?

But the trailer looks promising, rom-com soundtrack aside. The work the CW has done on Arrow and the Flash has been brilliant, so I look forward to seeing how they handle Supergirl. Provided it stays more “I can stop the bad guys, lift aeroplanes over my head, and stop Earth from being destroyed” rather than “Golly, how do I juggle work, clothes, saving the planet, and boys?!”, we’ll be onto a winner. I’m on board for the pilot, at least!

As for Legends of Tomorrow: it may have a ridiculous name, but it looks anything but! A ton of fun bundled up into a TV series! A gigantic team-up on a small team! Because “sometimes the world needs a team” – or as close as it can get to one. And, Hawkgirl has landed– yay! Our heroes (of sorts) are teaming up to take on Savage. I can see a lot of bumps in the road to a smooth team-work approach, but I really can’t wait to see the story unfold, even if miniaturised Atom does look a little like a Lego man…

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My Week in Comics: Secret Wars and Not So Secret Awesome Titles

Secret Wars and Swords of Sorrow

Summer’s officially kicking off in the comics’ world, with crossovers a plenty.

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First up is Marvel’s big event, in which the company is pressing the big red reset button, shaking up the multi-verse, and condensing it. It all starts with Secret Wars #1. Admittedly, there’s a lot to take in with this, even for a regular Marvel reader. This ultimately means that the “biggest event in the Marvel Comics Universe” may not be the friendliest jumping on point for new readers. Worlds are ending, but it’s not entirely clear who survives. Perhaps it will work best as a completed series. That being said, Jonathan Hickman’s writing is fantastic, and feels epic and poignant. The book is visually beautiful, with wonderful art by Esad Ribic and Ive Svorcina, with an eerie grace to the violent, catastrophic events that unfold. But from the ashes of Secret Wars, a new universe will arrive. In June 2015, a whole new range of #1’s will be released, marking the beginning of a new era for Marvel. We have Guardians of Knowhere, Years of Future Past, Korvac Saga, X-Tinction Agenda, Groot, Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde, Thors, Marvel Zombies, 1872, Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos, and Future Imperfect – to name but a few! I, personally, am most excited for Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #1! Thus, Secret Wars could essentially be considered as the big Marvel tidy-up event, where they tighten up their universe, make it more manageable and new-reader friendly. But who are we going to end up saying goodbye to on the way?

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Also on the crossover list was Swords of Sorrow, Dynamite’s big crossover event which teams together their toughest ladies in a fight which is yet to be properly revealed. Having never read any of Dynamite’s female led series, I entered fairly ignorantly. This, combined with little but set-up for the event, sadly opened the doors to criticism rather than curiosity as I struggled through the issue. Swords of Sorrow teams up the likes of Red Sonja, Vampirella, Jungle Girl, Irene Adler, and Lady Zorro (amongst others), which you would think would make a riveting read, particularly when penned by Gail Simone. Unfortunately, it didn’t read that way.

I hoped the cover image of four women dressed in nothing but, well, no, actually – not really anything at all, would be a sales gimmick to attract a male audience to read a female-centred event with a female creative team. Particularly with the awkward poses – Jungle Girl has gone a little Manara Spider-Womany, and the black woman in the silver (I have no idea of her name, as there’s no one resembling her within the pages of the comic?!) has gone for the red carpet ‘over-the-shoulder’ pout. Red Sonja might be wielding a sword, but with her stomach held in like that, she looks unhealthy, and kind of like she’s holding in uncomfortable wind. Unfortunately I quickly discovered that this is, in fact, standard costume if you are to be a leading lady in Dynamite’s comics, Irene Adler, Lady Greystoke, and Kato aside.

So, impractical clothing for warrior women to one side, does this comic show these women kicking ass? Standing up to a real villain? Proving that girls are just as powerful and awesome as boys without waving a big red flag that reads “HEY, GUESS WHAT?! WOMEN ARE GOOD TOO!”? Well, not really.

First of all, it appears that the villain of the piece is an egocentric male, who thrives on controlling women who ‘love’ him – probably not in the true sense of the word, but in that ‘worship-me-so-I-feel-like-I-have-power’ kinda way. And do you know what he does? He calls forward ‘the shard men, the soulless victims’ to ‘Avenge me…against ALL women’. Wow. Literal woman hating. To me, this seems a bit like one guy who’s been hurt by one woman, and is now on a tirade against all of woman-kind. Something that can be considered a bit too close to home in today’s world – admittedly, Elliot Rodger’s vendetta against women in May 2014 sprung instantly to mind –  and potentially stands as a more dangerous idea to be playing with than standard ‘world domination’ for wanting to be a villain. I expected better from Simone, and frankly I was disappointed by the underlining themes running throughout the issue. Surely there’s more reason than a misogynist for women to team-up in comics? And surely they can do it whilst wearing clothes? It will be interesting to see how the all-female Avengers A-Force bring a team of women together to save the day: will Thanos be peeved about being dumped and wage war on all womankind, or will they band together simply to try and make the world a better place for everyone?

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

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How do you continue a series after defeating the biggest bad in all the galaxy? Luckily that’s not an issue The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has to worry about. SG manages to continue being a truly entertaining read whilst openly mocking its own position in the comics’ world. In #5 we take a step back from the action and hang out with some hostages whilst heroes of NYC try to save them from a dinosaur attack. In their time together, the hostages discuss tales of Squirrel Girl which they’ve heard in attempts to prove that they know who she is, prodding fun at the comics’ own position on the store shelf: the Unrecognised Squirrel Girl. As per usual, hilarity ensues, and I’m fairly sure Simon Pegg made a guest appearance. If you’re not reading Squirrel Girl, #5 is a perfect place to jump on board – don’t end up like the losers in the Statue of Liberty, confusing Squirrel Girl for Spider-Man (doy!) – be someone who knows Doreen Green is the real deal!

The Spiders Web

I think Silk might just be my favourite of all the spider-women just now (sorry, Gwen!). It’s such a beautiful comic in all senses of the word. It’s captivating, relatable, and intriguing. We’re beginning to learn so much more about Cindy’s past, and it doesn’t look to shiny and happy, which helps her to not only stop the villain, but try to convince them to turn their life around. Silk is so much more than beating up the bad guy. It’s a voyage of self-discovery for a young woman AND a super-hero. And Cindy is so easy to sympathise with. Perhaps it’s her tone, or her bewilderment by a lot of things now she’s back in the world, but she’s got something a lot of superheroes tend to miss.

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Similarly, Spider-Gwen has developed a truly accessible connection with its audience, particularly in its fourth issue. We really slow down and get a peek behind the mask. It’s clear Gwen’s been dealing with a lot of guilt, and not dealing particularly well… But this issue confronts that head on. We see her return to some sense of normal life. She visits Ben and May, and they discuss the loss of Peter in some particularly moving panels. I loved the connection between Peter and Spider-heroism: something he’s always drawn to, no matter which universe – the freedom to do the right thing.

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This is exactly what makes these female-fronted spider comics so appealing. It’s not all about punching the bad guy, but about being complex, flawed characters who make mistakes and must learn to get past them. And by getting closer to the character behind the mask, it’s increasingly obvious that you don’t need to wear a costume to be a hero.

Non-Compliant

Bitch Planet is quite possibly the most important comic book out there right now. Kelly Sue’s no prisoners approach to confronting feminism, conformity, and the corruption of power in the Western World is second to none, and truly eye opening. And these issues extend further than the strip itself. The back cover of every issue is covered with fake ads like this, which almost translate the real ads we see on magazines into its true blunt language:

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And perhaps the most important thing we can take from Bitch Planet is that the powerful reputation it has built, with a strong fan-base after just four issues, shows that it isn’t about the book.

And it really isn’t about the book. It’s about everything it stands for. It’s about oppression of the true self, the struggle minorities face every day. And the fact someone is speaking out about this so bluntly in a medium that is accessible to everyone is fantastic. It’s why so many have already got non-compliant tattoos; why cosplayers are dawning BP overalls. The message is powerful, and the demand is great. If anything, it shows there’s a real issue of equality in modern society when a fan-base reacts so passionately so quickly towards a confrontational comic. Bitch Planet has the power to initiate change, and it’s getting the message out there. It’s up to the non-compliant to carry the message forward.

Not far behind Bitch Planet in the world of strong feminism in comics is Rat Queens, and the second volume is out now! Another no-nonsense comic when depicting it’s female characters, Rat Queens is the rock ‘n’ roll fantasy comic you ought to be reading!

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In this second volume, we learn more about the fearsome four’s history, adding further layers to their histories. It steps back slightly from the reckless romps of the first volume and gives the world a lot more heart, building upon the foundations already set. The humour, action, adventure, sex, and drugs are all still there, but this time there was something more – something complex.

Perhaps my favourite thing about Rat Queens is the fact it depicts real women. Yes, they’re in a fantasy world and battle orcs and do magic, but these women are as real as they come. They have all the lumps and bumps in the right places. Their hair is regularly out of place. They are athletic, not anorexic. They are themselves, despite being social outcasts from their hometowns. And the message portrayed in Rat Queens to female readers is spot on. Vi’s father congratulates her on looking “strong.” Not beautiful, not slim – strong. Hannah’s mother encourages her to have “not a fear of knowledge, but embracing every facet of it.” Even the addition of eyeliner in the costume-wearing montage scene is bad-ass, because it’s not vain, it’s a sign that femininity is strong. And I love that: women can look beautiful, embrace themselves for who they are, be smart, and tough. These are the women who are true heroes, in the comics’ world and the real world.

A comic which depicts a man as the damsel in distress being saved by an army of women that is still popular by both male and female readers is an amazing feat, and shows that female warriors are not emasculating. And the fact that said comic is created by men?! Hallelujah! I think we’re making progress!

Now is the perfect time to read Rat Queens if you haven’t already: with the first two trades available you can catch up quick! For fans of fantasy adventure who aren’t easily offended by bad language, nudity, and straight talking women.

Age of Ultron: Upon a Second Viewing

I have been to see Age of Ultron again, and with the ‘feminist’ (I use the word loosely) outrage fresh in my mind, I decided to really pay attention to those issues which sparked such an angry response towards the movie.

First, we have Black Widow’s declaration as being a monster.

The online argument: the fact she can’t have children makes her a monster. How dare you, Joss Whedon!

Upon a Second Viewing: In this scene we see a frustrated Banner emotionally explain to Romanoff that he “physically can’t have kids”, desperately upset that he himself cannot father children. This is Natasha’s chance to open up. Her choice to have children has also been taken away. The word ‘monster’ does not leave her mouth until she states that the sterilization project is meant to make it “easier to kill”. Now, it might just be me, but I think her monstrosity is referring to that red on her ledger Loki mentioned in the first movie: all that blood on her hands. The fact that everything she worked towards in her life prior to the Avengers was to make it easier to kill. Let’s look at this further.

Black Widow seemingly joined the Avengers to redeem herself, to clear her ledger and wash away the red. And that’s what she’s doing. Scenes where she opens up shows progression. We see that she’s not the stone cold assassin she was trained to be, but is capable of being loving. Empathising with Banner’s loss doesn’t make her weak, it makes her human. And that’s progress. She’s more than the quick-quip, relatively cold spy of the Avengers, and more open than the “whoever you want me to be” Natasha of the Winter Soldier. Here we see her lay herself bare: someone who has been raised to keep secrets and kill is opening up and experiencing empathy. The sterilization was meant to remove any kind of maternal-instinct, that loving tie to humanity us ladies are lucky to have built into our very bodies, has clearly not killed off this capability of caring and emotion in Natasha. We see that through her connection with Barton’s children, and how fantastic she can be as “Auntie Nat”. Yes, perhaps a mistake was made in sterilizing Romanoff, but I think we have to remember that her choice was removed: not her desire. She’s not calling herself a monster because she is infertile. She’s calling herself a monster because she then chose to continue killing for years.

Second, we have Vision saving Scarlet Witch from certain death.

The online argument: Why did Vision have to save Scarlet Witch? I bet she could’ve made it out alive by herself. How dare you, Whedon!

Upon a Second Viewing: Absolutely nothing about this scene is ‘weak’ or misogynistic. Nothing. Scarlet Witch had literally just torn the heart from the strongest Ultron body with her bare hands. The world was caving in around her, and with no ability to fly, or run at super speed, it’s pretty certain she would have been crushed: particularly in her state of mind. Having just lost her brother, it’s unlikely she would’ve been in the best state to try and save herself. Vision swooping in wasn’t some kind of Prince Charming move: it was what any of the heroes would have done if any of the others had been in the same position. Example: Quicksilver swooped in to save Hawkeye from being shot. Case and point.

My biggest issue with this argument is that it suggests it’s weak to ask for help. It’s not. It’s absolutely not. I understand we’re in a position where women, particularly women in film and media, need to be increasingly portrayed as being tough and independent, because that’s what real women are, but everyone needs help sometimes. Do we really want to teach the next generation that they have to struggle through life alone? That having a problem or worrying about something or nearly being crushed to death by falling debris is something you have to deal with by yourself, because otherwise you’re weak and always being saved by men? No. It’s important to be tough, and independent, and to believe in yourself, but girls: listen up: IT’S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP – YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH LIFE ALONE.

Age of Ultron is a fantastic movie, but I can’t help but feel that people are expecting too much from it. It’s an action movie. If people were just a third as passionate about issues like equal pay, objectification, and equal representation as they were about Whedon’s “destruction” of the Black Widow character, and absolute sacrilege of having Scarlet Witch even being helped up by a man (who is an android anyway, guys!) never mind actually having her life saved, we’d probably be far more successful in solving real world issues.

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My Week in Comics: Avengers Assemble

The moment has arrived. The follow up to 2009 smash hit blockbuster has officially landed in cinemas. Grossing $44.8 million at the international box office in just two days, Age of Ultron is already a hulk-sized success, so it’s no surprise that this week the majority of comics’ news is centred around the Marvel super-group!

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes

My past week has focused almost exclusively on the return of the Avengers. As the team assembled in London this week for the international premiere, my sights were set on getting a glimpse of the stars in person. (Not as a creepy stalker: see previous post on fandom here: https://faceittiger.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/embrace-the-fandom/.)

On Tuesday night, I scored a ticket to the filming of the Graham Norton show, which promised Avengers star guests. Of course, I was front and centre – and I wasn’t disappointed as Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Elizabeth Olsen settled themselves on the infamous red couch. Straight from the premiere at Shepherd’s Bush, the trio were in good form, and shared some fantastic stories. We were in the studio for well over 2 hours, but you can see the cut version now on iplayer here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05s769y/the-graham-norton-show-series-17-episode-3.

There have been a number of heated talking points around the Avengers’ various press junkets this past week. From sexist slurs to unprofessional and inappropriate journalism, it’s all been covered, making the Avengers a bigger talking point than just a new movie.

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Let’s begin with the area that bothered me the most. The sexism. May I begin by pointing out that Black Widow has once again been left off all the Age of Ultron merchandise? There are no toys, no t-shirts, no lunchboxes. She’s a big part of the movies, and even has a more independent storyline in this instalment (with rumours of her own film surfacing once again – yes please!), and the only major female connection girls have into the MCU Avengers franchise. So why is she not being included? There’s a market for it – a loud and proud one – so why is Black Widow being pushed to the side in favour of Iron Man, Cap, and Hawkeye (seriously – HAWKEYE.)

This leads nicely into Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans’ ignorant response regarding Black Widow in an interview earlier in the week. The pair were asked about Black Widow’s new relationship in the movie, and how surprised the interviewer was that it wasn’t with Hawkeye or Captain America, given their close relationships in past movies. Renner and Evans responded in a juvenile manner, explaining that Johansson’s character is a “whore” and “slut”, laughing the question off. Now, press junkets must be boring. I can’t even imagine how tedious it must be to answer the same questions repeatedly throughout a press tour around the globe. So, yes, I understand how having a laugh probably eases the monotony of this. But – these people have a responsibility. Particularly when you’re embodying Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in one of the biggest franchises of our time. It’s not okay to speak about women – or anyone – like that. They need to remember they are role models and real life heroes for so many people.

Their comments were particularly damaging considering what I’ve already stated about Black Widow’s underrepresentation. It’s only further highlighting the problems we have with the representation of women in media, particularly in comics and film. It seems Johansson’s character can’t be defined by her ass-kicking ability, her dark history and how she’s overcome it, or her independent character. Nope, it’s about men and who she’s dating. And the response didn’t even acknowledge the fact that she’s her own person: an independent woman capable of making her own choices that don’t need to be justified to anyone. I have to admit, I wasn’t overly surprised Renner was involved in this, and his insincere apology has only furthered this opinion on the actor. But Chris Evans is a different story. A strong actor who interviews well (this incident aside…) and comes across favourably in social media, Evans is one of the last men on earth I want to be upset with. He’s Captain America for goodness sake! He has since apologised for the comments, and seems to understand how damaging they can be. Want to read more? There’s a fantastic article on Nerdist recapping the incident and its impact which you can read here: http://nerdist.com/yes-jeremy-renner-and-chris-evans-black-widow-comments-are-problematic/

Sometimes it’s the interviewer, rather than the interviewee, who can get it totally wrong. Yes, I’m talking about channel 4’s interview with Robert Downey Jr, conducted by Krishnan Guru-Murphy. Now, warning signals tend to go off whenever Guru-Murphy’s involved. A terrible “journalist” who seeks to provoke rather than investigate, he appears to be increasingly relying on controversy to remain relevant and, well, on TV rather than actually doing a good job as a reporter. From provoking Tarantino on his use of violence in movies (when he should have been talking about Django Unchained), to questioning Richard Ayoade about being a black man in the British entertainment industry (when he should’ve been talking about Ayoade’s book), he frequently strays from the topic at hand to provoke and annoy his interviewees. Tarantino famously “shut his butt down”, and Ayoade handled it very well, flipping the interview onto Guru-Murphy, clearly making him uncomfortable with his own journalistic “style” – or lack thereof. Perhaps he’s gunning to be the Katie Hopkins of Channel 4. But, next on his hit list was Robert Downey Jr. In the press room to promote Age of Ultron, Downey Jr gladly answered questions about Iron Man and his relationship with the character. The interview was going well, and Downey Jr was perfectly polite and responsive to the questions. But then it turned, Guru-Murphy hulked out – but not in a cool, green, building-smashing giant way. In a completely idiotic way: a way that he knew would get him thousands of hits on youtube (it’s interesting to note Channel 4 have disabled comments from being posted on the video).

Now, what I find totally, completely and utterly inappropriate about this is not that he’s questioning Robert Downey Jr about his difficult and dark past – a topic which has been covered a zillion times before. But the fact that he wanted to pry into his family life, asking if he still blames his father for his drug and alcohol abuse. That’s not investigative journalism, or professional etiquette in the slightest. That’s poking a bear with a pointy stick in the hope it attacks. RDJ was totally right to walk out. He wasn’t rude or unjustified. The actor has pulled himself out of a difficult place and really made something of himself. He’s secured himself in a successful franchise, and started a family. He regularly does charity work, and he supports independent films to aid rising stars of the industry. If you really need to reopen the scar which has been picked at for years now, ask him how he feels about the change he’s made in his life and how he’s going to continue to improve. Provoking him by asking how he feels about his relationship with his father is unnecessary, irrelevant and unprofessional – particularly when he’s there to talk about the film.

But there are occasionally moments of brilliance in times of interviewing crisis. Cosmopolitan magazine (Yes, I was shocked too) decided to flip the table when talking to Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson this week, and it was great. They both entered into the spirit of it, and I think Ruffalo’s embracing and accepting of the idea was fantastic, fully acknowledging inherently sexist habits in celebrity interviews. Hopefully this will open the doors to a world where both men and women can answer the thought provoking questions, and no one will ever be asked again “who are you wearing?!” – because, really, who cares?

But the controversy doesn’t stop there! Nope, Age of Ultron has kicked up a storm! Some loud voices are angry at a comment made by Iron Man during the movie as he tries to lift Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. He refers to “reinstating Prima Nocta”, and the ‘mewling quim’ doors from the Avengers have been reopened and JOSS WHEDON IS A HORRIBLE SEXIST PIG!

No. Let’s calm down.

First of all – let’s have a show of hands of who, off the top of their heads, knows what Prima Nocta means? Who, as soon as the words slipped from Tony Starks’ mouth as he joked with his friends, stormed out of the cinema, cursing Whedon and his family?

Not being one of these people, I googled the phrase when I saw people were unhappy about it. Apparently best known for its use in the absolutely 100% historically accurate movie Braveheart, it refers to the practise of a nobleman being with a peasant woman on her wedding night instead of her new husband. These traditions have been referred to throughout history, but it’s disputed as to whether or not it was ever actually a real law, leaning closer to the ‘it’s not real’ camp.

Regardless, it was referenced in Age of Ultron, and voices have cried “rape!” It seems very unlikely to me that Whedon, the openly feminist writer and director who has created some of the most kick-ass women in film and television history (Buffy, hello!), would deliberately celebrate the idea of reinstating laws where a nobleman could take a peasant woman against her will on her wedding night. It could well be a poke at the idea Whedon didn’t know what ‘mewling quim’ meant when he wrote it into Avengers Assemble, using an old-world term of phrase that sounds impressive, but is incredibly tongue in cheek. It could be a reflection of Iron Man’s arrogance – and the fact he’s a notorious playboy. Or yes, it could be a throwaway rape joke that shouldn’t be there. Words are powerful and have meaning, but taken in the grander scheme of things, this has gotten a little out of hand. Rape jokes are not funny, and completely unnecessary, but in context of the film, that’s not what this is. It’s possibly people looking a bit too far into something which isn’t there. The lesson: don’t take Braveheart as gospel truth.

MARVELous

It’s not all Avenger news this week though! Let’s take a look at what else has been going on.

Netflix’s super series, Daredevil, has already been signed for a second season! Hopefully we won’t have to wait until the other Hells Kitchen shows have aired to meet the bigger bads in Daredevil’s world!

In All-New X-Men, Iceman (Bobby Drake) has officially come out! This has obviously caused some outrage and confusion amongst X-Men readers and fans, but the character’s sexuality has been in question since the late 1980’s. Exploring the internet, the outrage is evident: many are convinced it’s a marketing ploy, some believe it is exploiting sexuality to sell more issues, and others believe it’s the devils work. But it’s encouraging to see some embracing the change and celebrating the fact there’s an openly homosexual character in a popular comic book. Long-running comics like the X-Men pass through so many different hands of writers, artists, editors, and producers that change will happen; good and bad. I don’t believe it’s an event to sell more issues, but to reflect our changing times and how diverse and tolerant the Western World is becoming.

Marvel has also announced that they have officially teamed up with Telltale Games for a 2017 release! More news will be coming soon!

HAHAHA – Don’t Make Me Laugh

Jared Leto’s new look as the Joker in upcoming film, Suicide Squad, has officially been released. The internet doesn’t quite know how to feel – and to be honest, neither do I. The Joker has had so many changes and inconsistencies over the years, it’s difficult to say “that’s not the Joker”. His constant state of flux is a large part of his appeal. But it’s not the Joker. It’s an embarrassing attempt to be edgy. Yes, I understand at this point he will have been through years of mental and physical struggles, and yeah, he’s crazy. But who is dumb enough to tattoo the Joker – stick moving pins in and out of his skin?! I can’t really see him sitting in a chair for a few hours, or picking out fonts to have ‘Damaged’ scrolled across his forehead. I also don’t see him as believing himself to be damaged. If anyone with dyed hair and tattoos is a psychotic criminal, we should probably all be locked up. Although it’s clearly a reference to Brian Bolland’s art in The Killing Joke, it doesn’t work. Nope. I’m not a fan. But I’m reserving full judgement until we’ve seen the trailer.

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The Dark Knight Returns – AGAIN

It was announced yesterday that Frank Miller will be returning to DC for a third instalment of his Dark Knight books. Frequently hailed as some of the greatest Batman comics, fandom is abuzz with excitement to see what Miller does next. The Dark Knight III will be released Fall 2015

Drop Outs and Sign Ups

When DC manage to take a step forward, they end up backtracking about 20 steps, particularly in their movie franchises. Wonder Woman’s Emmy-award winning director, Michelle McLaren, dropped out of the project for undisclosed reasons. She has been replaced by Patty Jenkins, so it’s a relief to see a woman is still in charge of the first female-led superhero blockbuster. However, McLaren’s departure is concerning. Hopefully this switch of director means we’ll still see Wonder Woman on the big screen in 2017.

Keen to keep DC on their toes, Marvel has found its writers for Captain Marvel in Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out). They’re determined to have strong female voices resonate throughout every aspect of the film, which is very pleasing to hear. Rumour has it Angelina Jolie is forerunner for the 2018 female led-features’ director.

REVIEWS

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

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If you’ve not picked up Squirrel Girl yet, you’re seriously missing out. It’s so much fun, I even enjoy reading the Previously page! Yes, it’s silly, but it’s also fantastic. There’s real heart behind the nuts. This issue confronts the ridiculousness of gendered language, as well as the meaning of being a hero (okay, that second one is in, like, every supers book…). But where else can you find a fun, family-friendly, female led superhero comic, where the heroine in question can defeat both Galactus and Thanos – and doesn’t always need to punch people into oblivion to do it?! Smarts, not scars. That should be her slogan!

Thor #7

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Why are you reading this instead of Thor? Stop – go pick it up now!

I particularly loved the final page of this issue, where Thor Odinson has rounded up the mightiest heroes he knows, and it’s the women of the Marvel universe. I need it as a poster to display proudly on my wall. I’m so excited for issue 8 – where we finally learn her identity!

What I particularly love about this new Thor is the fact that she is confronting the idea of being a strong female superhero, and why she constantly has to justify it. Why shouldn’t a woman be worthy of holding the power of Thor? It’s also great to see that she’s consistently drawn as muscular and athletic. I would kill for her arms. But she’s not scrawny, or scantily dressed. She’s how a female God of Thunder – or anyone who throws a heavy hammer around while beating the bad guys – would look.

Giant Days #2

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BOOM!’s new book, Giant Days, finds its stride in this second issue, which I enjoyed a lot more than the first. Confronting the horrific realities of Freshers Flu, the comic is genuinely funny and has a great dynamic. It’s a very real look at female friendships, whilst all the characters have their own independent struggles. I think this is a book which will grow more in each issue, and I plan to keep reading. The art is fantastic – a nice change from a lot of the styles in popular comics today. BOOM’s creator owned line is growing to be very strong, and I look forward to seeing what else they throw at us.

Archie vs Predator

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Well, this is a cross-over I didn’t believe until I saw it sitting on the shelf. It works, in a very weird way. Archie and the gang win a holiday to a tropical island, and accidentally bring home a Predator – literally. The idea and execution is so ridiculous that it’s fantastic. The Archie element is like a teen soap-opera from the 1940s, but the addition of Predator makes that a little more bearable and intriguing.

My only concern with AvP is that I sincerely hope it’s a parody. Having never read Archie comics, I don’t know how the usual group dynamic normally reads, but I pray it’s not like this. If it is a parody, AvP does a great job at portraying the stereotypical tropes found in the horror genre when a group of young friends go exploring together, only to run into danger. The guys are slick and sleazy, and the girls live to impress them and dress in amazing clothes. This is funny – if it’s a joke. But what troubled me is that it may not be. Archie comics could be about this world of couples, where the girls only live to impress the guys and the guys chase whatever girl looks prettiest. If that’s the case, it should have stayed in the 1940s when that was the American dream. Even when you’re fighting monstrous space creatures, your audience needs to be taken into account, no matter how crisp and clean your stories are.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2

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Another re-imagining of a classic series from Archie comics, but very different from AvP, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has a chilling old-school horror/folklore feel to it. It’s creepy and reads like a Grimm fairytale. Similarly, the art style is anything but the clean lines you’d expect from Archie. Instead it’s scratchy and distressed, harking back to EC horror comics of the 1940s. This isn’t a recreation of the Melissa Joan Hart series I watched growing up as a child, but rather a dark tale of witchcraft and devilry. It almost read like an old romance comic that had gone wrong, warning the dangers of a woman scorned. I found Chilling Adventures of Sabrina neither good nor bad, but intriguing. I’m interested to see what direction they take with it long-term. Plus, you can’t fault anything with sassy Salem the cat!

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My Week in Comics: Easter Catch-Up

Welcome back to Face It, Tiger. After a refreshing Easter break, there’s plenty to catch up on, so let’s dive right in!

#Duckface

You know what, I’m loving Howard the Duck. Okay, so we’re only two issues in. But the first one was a blast, and the second follows suit. We catch up with Howard immediately where issue 1 left off – with Howard, lost, in space! We’re on an all-animal team-up here as Howard joins forces with Rocket Raccoon (not a werewolf!) to steal, then escape, from the collector’s lair.

It makes sense to team Howard up with the Guardians – given his brief appearance in the Guardians movie – and he fits right in! A bonding moment between the duck and the raccoon gives a touching insight into working through the anger, frustration, and isolation of being considered a freak, or an outsider. Howard might be the only walking talking duck waddling around the streets of NYC, but his experiences of feeling out-of-touch and wanting a normal life sure aren’t unique!

Howard the Duck may not be an overly groundbreaking comic book series, but the joy of reading it makes it a worthwhile addition to your pull-list.

Wall Crawlers

There’s not a lot I haven’t said about the spider-women of marvel by now, but I’m still sticking with them – and that says something.

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We’re three issues in to Spider-Gwen, and it’s going from strength to strength. Sure, she’s still not defeated the Vulture (of all villains…), but it’s a compelling read, and a fantastic portrayal of women being heroes without it being punch-you-in-the-face preachy that “wow! Women can kick-butt too!”

I love the personal drama that we see alongside the Vulture-punching! We have a young girl growing up, in those awkward teenage years where you still need to listen to your parents, but you want to start making your own life choices. Gwen understands that her Dad’s right in worrying about her, but ultimately decides that now is the time to begin making those choices for herself. I believe the saying goes, “with great power, comes great responsibility” – or something like that!

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Jessica Drew took her new costume out for another round in Spider-Woman #6 as well! We’re following on directly from last issue, where J.Drew’s combining her spider powers with super-sleuth skills, clearly working towards something much bigger. It feels almost like a slick spy comic, rather than a supers book this issue – crazy costumes aside! And it’s clear, from all the encounters in this issue, that we’re building up to a bigger end-game. Let’s hope it’s worth playing along.

Who is Thor?

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We’re getting so close to finding out who our Mjolnir-wielding woman is in Thor!  A few suspects have been struck off the list in Thor #6, and the frustration felt by the original God of Thunder as to who now holds his hammer is paralleled in the reader the whole way through this issue! The urge to flip to the back of the book was overwhelming, and we’re still none the wiser! It’s a tantalising ride, but not one that’s frustrating or boring. If there’s one thing Jason Aaron does well, it’s write Thor stories, so I have total faith the answer will be amazing. I’m in hope that it’s an unknown – someone totally new. The idea that anybody could be worthy of the power of a Norse God is an exciting idea, and keeps that spark of hope that anyone can be a hero alive.

The Walking Dead #140

Gregory is an idiot. The Whisperer camp is amazing, if slightly insane. And Negan is out?!

Wytches

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I am loving Scott Snyder’s Wytches (from Image comics). It’s compelling, it’s scary, it’s original, it’s beautifully written, and stunning to look at. It’s ticking all the horror-comic boxes. And horror comics are a difficult thing to get right. Jock’s art style is absolutely wonderful, and, combined with Matt Hollingsworth’s colours, adds so much to the book. The patchy, blotted colours and blurred art mimics the notion of memory – how things are never totally clear or remembered exactly as it was. It also creates that blur between reality and imaginary. We’re not quite sure if what’s going on is real, and that distorted view is mirrored in every page. Portraying a grotesque sense of truth, Wytches has been a great series so far, and one I’d urge you to pick up. It concludes next issue in the grand finale, so catch up while you can!

Ms Marvel: Generation Why

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G.Willow Wilson’s incredibly popular run on Ms Marvel (aka Kamala Khan) continues in this second trade paperback collection! Having accepted her newfound heroism and crazy powers by the end of the first collection, we see Kamala becoming more involved in the superhero world in Generation Why. Although she’s determined, she’s not afraid to ask for help, or accept it when it’s thrust upon her. We see her being guided by Wolverine and Medusa, and even adopt mutant dog, Lockjaw. She’s brilliantly straddling the line between being a hero for the citizens of NJ and looking up to those she’s idolised for so long. It’s totally how I would be if I gained superpowers and found myself battling mutant crocodiles in a sewer with Wolverine! Pause for a selfie!

What I really really love about Ms Marvel – and why I think it’s so important – is just how much fun it is while portraying the idea that anyone, yes anyone, can be a hero. Sure, it helps if you have super limbs that can shrink and embiggen, and healing powers. But it’s the choice. Not to lay down and let life pass you by, but to take the skills you’ve learned, and grown with, or been given, and use them. Work together towards the greater good instead of laying down and giving up.

If you’ve not been reading Ms Marvel, now’s the perfect time to catch up – with two trades, and the third on the way in a few months time, you can be up to speed and in the know about the most popular new superlady in no time!

Captain Marvel: Stay Fly

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No one writes women quite like Kelly Sue Deconnick. And the second TPB of her most recent Captain Marvel run proves just that. Carol Danvers is a no-nonsense super lady. She’s amazing and she knows it. Not in an arrogant Tony Stark kind of way, but in that subtle self-confidence that allows her to save the world time and time again!

Space! Cats! Santa! It’s all in this second collection, which continues pulling on the thread that began to unravel in Higher, Further, Faster, More. There’s also tonnes of guest appearances! Captain Marvel will have her very own Wonder Women feature soon – so stay tuned for a more in depth analysis!

Daredevil

It’s finally here! On Thursday night, Netflix and Marvel launched their Daredevil series. 13 episodes, all online at once. Yes, I’ve watched them – a full review will be up in a few weeks (to give those of you who have a life plenty of time to catch up!). Summed up for those of you unsure whether or not to delve into Hell’s Kitchen: slick, stylish, brutal, and gritty – a perfect crime drama.

MCU Spider-Man: Confirmed!

It’s official! Spider-Man’s going to be, well, Spider-Man in his return to the MCU. Kevin Feige has confirmed that the big screen adaptation of the wall-crawler will still be Peter Parker, not Miles Morales as many speculated. Feige believes there’s still a lot of ground that hasn’t yet been covered in Parker’s high school years, so we can expect a 15-16 year old hero to continue the role! I guess that means no more Andrew Garfield, but it’ll be interesting to see who they cast in the role!

Wonder Woman Movie: Tagline – DC finally catches up!

Wonder Woman’s solo movie will reportedly begin shooting this autumn – and she’ll apparently have SIX different costumes! Not one, not two (in case one gets a bit muddy in battle), but SIX! Why? To confront petty female superhero costume complaints? To encourage jokes about women needing more than one outfit to do anything, including fight crime? Let’s hope it’s because she realises a tube top and hot pants aren’t overly practical in saving the universe. DC, we’ll be watching…

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My Week in Comics: Not Many Comics Were Read…

Admittedly, I’m a little behind on reading this week. Luckily, comics now cross all levels of media, and boy was there a ton of film & TV based news this week!

Jem and the Holograms #1

This week saw the return of 1980’s animated TV show pop-princess, Jerrica Benton, and her friends – better known as Jem and the Holograms. That’s right – ahead of the 2015 live-action movie release, IDW have unleashed the female four-piece on the comics world. As a youngster, Jem and the Holograms missed my radar completely – mainly because the final episode aired three years before I was born. And as far as I’m aware, it was the Hannah Montana of the 80s. But still, cartoons like Transformers and GI Joe have had huge commercial success in their silver-screen reboots, so it’s interesting to see where Jem will go. Plus, 80s teen-movie legend Molly Ringwald has recently joined the live-action cast. You have my attention.

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As for the comic, I kinda liked it. Knowing very little about the original story, I entered in relatively blind. What immediately struck me was the wild colour spectrum. But once you looked beyond the overload of cyan and magenta, the art is really something. This is a comic written and drawn by women, about women, primarily for women (although comics are always for everybody). Consequently, the girls actually look like real girls – they’re not super stick thin, but have body shape; they have good fashion; they have a good sense of self. But they also have insecurities – particularly Jerrica. And that’s exactly what this first issue is about. We see the band worry that they might be falling apart because of Jerrica’s stage fright – she knows she’s good in a room by herself, but put her in front of one or two strangers, and she’s helpless – never mind a packed concert hall!

I felt that writer, Kelly Thompson, established the characters very well for a first issue. Although Kimber was probably overly-pushy at the beginning, she recognised her fault and felt guilty. And the inner-conflict Jerrica was experiencing felt genuine. Some aspects of the plot felt a little forced, getting as much background information out there as quickly as possible before Synergy shows up and the main action can get started, but it didn’t detract from the overall story. Jem and the Holograms #1 was fun, and I enjoyed it.

My favourite aspect, however, was Kelly Thompson’s letter to the readers at the end – what she hoped to achieve with this new Jem series – and admittedly, this is what has held my interest and persuaded pick up #2 when it’s released. Thompson writes that she wanted the four protagonists to represent “the epitome of the modern woman. Smart, capable, ambitious, and fascinating fashion-forward career women.” And that’s exactly what these characters thus far appear to be. Thompson stresses that although Jem’s origins are in the 80s, it’s essential that she fits into the modern era: “Nostalgia is wonderful, but can hold us back.” I believe this statement to be very true; particularly in regards to women in comics – as I’m sure you’ve picked up from my previous posts by now! The industry is straddling a fine line between being out-of-date, and old, and boring, and uninclusive (I mean, just look at last week’s Larsengate nonsense.); and pushing forward to being one of the most progressive, diverse and interesting mediums available. Comics can do anything – the pages may be restricted by panels, but that’s it. Anything is possible in comics, so why stick to the same old routine? Let’s hope Thompson can use Jem to help pave the way forward.

The Walking Dead 139

Sun, sea, sand, and pirate Michonne…?

The Walking Dead

Speaking of The Walking Dead, the companion series to the hit TV show was announced this week. Are you ready for this stunningly creative title? FEAR THE WALKING DEAD.

Ummm, slightly anti-climactic. But still, it will be interesting to see what direction the show takes. It’s already been signed for two seasons, the first of which will air this summer before season six of the main series returns. Following different characters in the same universe, I am intrigued, particularly as there are no boundaries placed by existing comic arcs. However, I also feel it’s unnecessary. I love the Walking Dead. I think it’s the greatest show on air right now, so why do we need another? We don’t, and to be honest, I don’t really want it. It’s bad enough stressing about all the characters I love in one show – never mind two! While the tone works so well for TWD, it’s what sets it apart from a lot of other things on TV. I worry it will be a replica of what we already have.

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It’s also the Finale of Season Five of The Walking Dead tonight – and my blood pressure could not be higher! We know blood will be spilled, and not all of it walker blood (thanks to Gale Anne Hurd’s cryptic clues on The Talking Dead last week). Norman Reedus (aka. Daryl Dixon) has repeatedly said that tissues will be needed for this episode. And little hints and sneak peeks have only revealed the worst. My main concern is the arrival of Negan. The Walking Dead loves some foreshadowing, and Glenn has been around A LOT of baseball bats this season. Those of you who have read the comics will know why that is unsettling, and compared with this photo Reedus shared on Instagram earlier today [], my nerves are close to breaking point! I only know one character in TWD universe who has dark hair and a wears a leather jacket…

Issue 100 still haunts me. I still get so upset whenever I think about it. It’s perhaps the most shocking and devastating moment I’ve ever read in comics. I recall the moment I first turned the page, onto that scene. I had to just sit, staring blankly, for at least half an hour before I could continue reading. Let’s hope these hints have just been used to tease the comic readers and increase season finale anticipation. But it’s okay to take a sick day from work if your favourite character dies, right..?

One Month Countdown

We’re officially one month away from the beginning of the series of Marvel Netflix shows! And things kick off with Daredevil. Yes, that’s right, we can finally wash the Ben Affleck travesty from our minds and sit down with a whole new take on the character. Having only seen the trailer (to try and avoid any potential spoilers as far as possible), I have to say, it looks promising – with a gritty, noir feel. For those of you who haven’t seen the trailer yet, here it is:

The Merc with a Mouth

Ryan Reynolds has shared his first photo as Deadpool. And the internet nearly exploded.

“With great power comes great irresponsibility”, read Reynolds tweet. I honestly can’t think of a better Deadpool. Poor Reynolds has had a few swings-and-misses in his acting past (looking at you, Green Lantern) – but I really like him as an actor. I think Deadpool could be the perfect project for him, and I’m so excited to see what comes next!

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