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Dance of the Puppets

Like a bat on a hot tin roof since August 2005

Sunday, December 30, 2007

One more yawn

Joey Q has been talking about doing it for at least a year.

The publicity was hinting at it for months.

Every fan has been assuming it for the last six months.

Every blogger has been complaining about what a bad idea it is.

And so the biggest twist in the Spider-Man story One More Day is... that it's exactly what everyone has been expecting all along.

After a year when the level of misdirection at the big two has reached the point where creators lie in interviews and publishers put out misleading solicitations for comics that will never be published, I am a little baffled to find the biggest Spider-Man story of the year to telegraph its big conclusion months before the first issue was even published.

So I'm now left wondering what they are going to do when the next movie rolls around and it features Spidey and Mary Jane as an item, given that last time Marvel bent over backwards so far to identify with it that they put him into his black costume for several issues for no good reason other than it was in the movie.

I'm less wondering how they are going to integrate the new status quo into the overall Marvel continuity that is so tightly clenched that if Thor sneezes in one comic, Daredevil hears it in another, because it's that obsessively tight continuity that puts me off reading any of the individual titles I might be interested in if they weren't going to be suborned into some huge uberstory every other issue.

I hope Joey Q is happy. Because I'm not sure anyone else is.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Now it all makes sense

I think Gail Simone might be on to something.

Maybe the reason big Joey Q is so obsessed with breaking up Spider-Man's marriage is because he has a secret agenda to out Spidey as Marvel's premier gay icon.

It all makes sense when you think about it. All those hints over the years. All the subtext. It's not hard to see when you are looking for it. I can only hope this leads to an even greater diversity in the Marvel stable, as Tony Stark is revealed as a transvestite, and Johnny Storm comes to terms with his gender dysphoria.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One more thing

Having seen several reviews of Ultimates 3 #1, I'd just like to say this:

I hated Jeff Loeb before it was cool, too.

One big bluff?

I'm beginning to wonder if this One More Day stuff is all a big fakeout.

Short recap if you don't know the story: Spider-Man is faced with the choice of letting Aunt May die (again) or having his relationship with his wife, Mary-Jane erased.

Now big boss of Marvel, Joe Quesada has been saying how he wants to undo Spidey's marriage for a couple of years now. J. Michael Straczynski, who wrote the story, has expressed how unhappy he was with writing it. Everyone, but everyone in comics fandom is aware of this, even if they, like me, haven't read a Spider-Man comic in ages.

So I'm just thinking this has to be the least unexpected twist in the history of comics, coming at a time when the publishers are so desperate to misdirect readers about significant plot developments that they will lie in interviews and even post fake solicitations for comics that will never be published. There's also the matter of the proposed change being universally condemned by fans, and the fact that there are plenty of flavours of Spider-Man already available in unmarried form.

Oh yes, and don't forget that this would also be taking the core titles away from the movie version in a year when Spidey suddenly started wearing his black costume for no reason that makes sense other than to strengthen the ties to the movie franchise.

I cannot see anything positive in cancelling the marriage at this point, and a lot of negatives. Which doesn't mean they won't go ahead with it; both Marvel and DC have made some amazingly boneheaded choices lately. Of course if they do pull the big twist on us, they might gain some kudos for not doing the thing nobody wanted them to do, but they'll have also made it impossible to trust their word about anything, and you'll get some fans assuming that they changed the ending at the last minute due to fan pressure, so to a degree it's a no win situation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

OEL is an oxymoron

This is one I've been intending to rant about for a while, but a recent snippet of news I've seen sent me over the edge.

Marvel have decided to produce an X-Men manga. None of the people associated with it are Japanese. Now I think Raina Telgemeier is a very talented writer, and may well produce an excellent comic, but it still won't be japanese, and it probably won't read much like a comic produced by Japanese creators for a Japanese audience, so calling it "manga" seems a bit of a cheat to me.

Original English Language manga is to me a contradiction in terms. If it's created by English speaking people for an English speaking audience in a western style for a western publishing format, then it doesn't matter how big the eyes are or how many speedlines you include, it's not manga. It's no more manga than strawberry flavoured candy is in any way related to actual strawberries. It might be very nice strawberry flavoured candy, but it can only compare favourably with other strawberry flavour candy. When compared with actual strawberries, you cannot help but notice that it is not a fruit.

It's cultural appropriation at its worst. Japanese culture tells stories in a different way, with different emphasis and pacing, and with different references. Attitudes to the medium of comics are different in Japan, which leads to a different publishing structure. It's not just difficult for an American production to properly emulate a Japanese comic, it's almost impossible. And most of the time, they don't even try. They simply pick up a few superficial stylistic tips, and think that's enough to hitch a ride on the manga bandwagon.

And one other thing: if you are a westerner, creating a comic to be published in America to be read by Americans, constructing it so it reads right to left is a ludicrous affectation and I will mock your foolishness and cast aspersions on your character.

You have been warned.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The breast thing again

There was an excellent competition over at Project Rooftop to design a new costume for Wonder Woman. There is some amazing creativity there, and it's worth a look if you haven't seen it. But that's not exactly what I want to talk about.

One of the entries included an image of Wonder Woman with one breast removed, and one of the judges, Joel Priddy opined

"You know, with the dozens of Wonder Woman avatars running around out there (Power Princess, War Woman, Winger Victory, etc.), I can’t recall anyone making use of the Amazonian mastectomy before. Go figure."

I commented that perhaps it hasn't been used because it had been disproved a long time ago.

I happened to check back today and found that I had received a couple of responses that surprised me, and rather than sidetrack that thread on a detail, I'm going to address them here.

Dean Trippe said:

you’ll note we refered to the mastectomy AS a myth.

However, I’d say the exclusion of the breast-removal in popular representations has more to do with squeamishness and male boob-fixation than lack of research.

That's an interesting opinion, and there may even be some truth in it.

The Amazons in Y The Last Man have it, but they could be seen as a cult, using this as part of the indoctrination. The Amazons in Xena don't do it, but quite apart from considerations such as the cheesecake aspect or whether self-mutilation of this kind would be permitted on prime time TV, there's the problem of actually creating the effect with real actors. I'm not sure there are enough actresses with mastectomies to fill the ranks, but I suppose it might be achieved by hiring a lot of flat-chested women and giving them one large prosthetic boob, either way I don't see the idea getting that far.

Off the top of my head I can't think of any other popular representations of Amazons, apart from Wonder Woman herself, and she's been dual-breasted since 1941, so it seems a bit late to change that now. I suppose they could dig up another lost tribe of Amazons who did it, but why would they, unless they wanted to show how stupid the group were, since it is of no practical value?

Sonny said:

The Amazons were mythical warriors, Marionette, and if you’ll recheck the review,

Whether it was a part of the original myth or added later, the whole point of mythology is what it says about the creators (or those who adapt the creations) and the reactions of those witnessing them. Marionette’s strong reaction to it should make Jess proud. Getting such strong reactions from art (either positive or negative) is quite an accomplishment.

Whoever originally added the mastectomy idea to Amazonian myth obviously had a similar spirit to the creator of this website.


Yes, Sonny. The Amazons were mythical warriors. And the people who first wrote about them, created art about them, built statues and frescos depicting them all showed them with an even number of breasts. Quite clearly, in some cases. The fact that the word used to describe them was mistranslated to suggest that they were single-breasted does not make it an enhancement or variation on the myth, it makes it an inaccurate understanding of the source material.

If I choose to describe unicorns as having three legs, does that make it a valid adaptation of the myth of the unicorn? No. Does it enhance the myth in any way to add a lot of baggage suggesting that women mutilated themselves in order to give themselves a bit more bow-room, when all you have to do is go google women's archery to see that modern women manage quite adequately without this disfigurement? No.

And while you're right, it is an achievement to get an emotional response to a piece of art, A) I wasn't responding to the art, I was responding to Joel's comment, and B) I don't think that gaining the emotional response of annoyance at seeing an old inaccuracy perpetuated is an achievement of which to be especially proud.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A brief comic review

Countdown: Arena #1.

It's like Secret Wars, but with extra death.

Or, I don't know, maybe one of those tedious threads that crops up on every comics message board before long where people debate who would win in a fight between hero X and hero Y, and you know it doesn't matter how carefully they analyse the relative powers and skills, it all comes down to what story the writer wants to tell.

Or it could be a videogame. One of those dull fight games where the plot is just a thin excuse for the fighting. It's like watching someone else play one of those.

Plus DC get to kill off a whole bunch of Elseworlds characters that were minding their own business.