is it weird that what bugs me most about his redesigns is his smug presumptuousness, like everyone should listen to him and he is doing everyone a HUGE FAVOR by DEIGNING to IMPROVE THEIR SUPERHEROES or some shit, ugh
no, no, smugness is intolerable, i comprehend that well, esp. with regards to aaron diaz’s attitudes
aaron diaz i want to love you unconditionally so much
but you keep bumping head-first into my conditions
yeah like, I like a lot of the actual redesigns OKAY? but then I read this explanations for why they are OBJECTIVELY BETTER THAN THE ACTUAL CHARACTERS and I am like
go jump off a cliff made of dicks, dude
HI I’M JUST GOING TO BARGE IN HERE AND SAY YES, EXACTLY
Many of his revised origins just … really miss the point of what makes the characters appealing to their fans in the first place. Diana made of living marble? Power Girl, more authoritarian than Superman? Removing most of J’onn’s powers and making him more of an infiltrator? I am not someone to say that only true fans have the knowledge and insight to redesign characters — sometimes a fresh eye is exactly what’s needed! — but his grasp of the characters is very superficial. Which would be fine, if he weren’t trumpeting how much better they are than the originals.
Worse, some of his commentary on female superheroes’ costumes (by “some” I really mean all) ventures towards the slut-shaming and sex negativity. BARE SKIN IS BAD AND MAKES A CHARACTER UNWORTHY OF INTEREST. A FEMALE ROLE MODEL CAN’T BE ASSOCIATED WITH BONDAGE. For someone who’s explicitly putting himself in the position of designer-as-feminist-ally, his grasp of woman-friendliness is … again, superficial!
Also note that all his redesigns for superheroines play up their innocence/lack of knowledge and/or distance from common humanity at the expense of other aspects of their characters. Not that it’s wrong to have a female superhero who’s any one or more of those things, but as a pattern? It’s othering.
‘I absolutely hate the Captain America and Tony Stark shippings. It’s stupid and the fan girls are annoying.’
It’s tricky because I really hate the ~ew fangirls with their slash~ and that super-misogynist mentality, but I also dislike this ship for a great many reasons (prime among them that it doesn’t appeal to me), and feel that its total primacy in Avengers fandom is symptomatic of the general erasure of ladies and non hot white dudes both by creators of the text and its fandom interpreters.
There is no side for me in this Civil War
(Bolding mine for emphasis.)
Precisely this! For me it’s not even the shipping per se that’s an issue, although it’s definitely brow-raising that Tony/Steve fics outnumber Tony/Rhodey and Steve/Sam fics by probably 200:1, to say nothing of all the other non-Tony/Steve pairings out there. It’s that in the vast majority of Tony/Steve fic I’ve read — and I’ve read a lot — Rhodey and Sam might as well not exist, and every other person in their lives is at best reduced to a stock role ideal for drinking games (take a chug every time Peter Parker walks in on Tony and Steve and has a comically exaggerated gross-out reaction) or simply ignored (um … everyone who isn’t either a New Avenger or one of the first two incarnations of the team, and even that’s being generously inclusive). Of course there are plenty of good Tony/Steve fics which don’t do this, or which take these tropes and use them in such a way that it’s clear the writer understands and cares about characters who aren’t Tony and Steve. But the Avengers fandom in macrocosm promotes such a singular and rather narrow perspective of such broad, reinterpretation-friendly source material, and it’s both puzzling and frustrating that this is the case.
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise for anyone reading this that I love Cassandra Cain. I love her a lot! My heart grows five sizes when I read her comics. Sometimes during the day I’ll randomly start thinking about Cass and then almost tear up that she isn’t regularly in anything anymore, that’s how much I love Cass.
The simplest way to explain why Cass is one of my favorite comic book characters sounds incredibly superficial—she looks like me. But how often does an Asian girl get an Asian girl vigilante to look up to? Cass is incredibly important to me not only because I can relate to her struggle to find self-worth and identity and a cause worth fighting for, but also because she’s a positive role model who isn’t white.
But there’s no denying that, as a character, Cass is problematic. Despite being one of the most prominent Asian characters in DC comics, she is also one of the most prominent examples of exotification and otherization (oh shit is that a word? I have no idea) of Asian characters in the media as well.
Okay, in the interests of strict honesty, I’m not entirely sure I have the spoons to engage with this discussion, but as much as I liked parts of this essay there are other parts that made me way too uncomfortable to not say at least something. Specifically, I mean the parts that touch on another part of Cass’s minority identity:
The other facet of Cass’ background that DC seems unable to let go of is her abnormal upbringing. That’s totally understandable—Cass’ speechless childhood is something that fundamentally defines her character, her struggle, her motivations, and her loyalty to the bat symbol.
But think about it this way: Cass is “the other”. She’s totally different, totally strange, and this is because of the way she was raised. But, as DC doesn’t want you to forget, Cass is also Asian. By repeatedly emphasizing how different Cass is because of her upbringing, and simultaneously repeatedly emphasizing her ethnicity, DC inextricably links this quality of “otherness” with Cass’ Asian-ness. And with Cass being DC’s most visible Asian character, all that this does is imply that Asian people must be different simply because they are Asian.
The vague, hands-off-ness — I’d go so far as to say othering — of the language used here — “abnormal upbringing,” “speechless childhood,” “the way she was raised,” “different,” “strange” — rather beats around the bush: as a result of her abusive childhood, Cassandra Cain has severe language and speech related learning disabilities (not to mention a whole passel of psychological trauma), and her identity as a person with disabilities is just as much an intrinsic part of her character as her racial background. I am really uncomfortable with the way Cass’ disabilities are framed here in opposition to her Asian-ness, as a trait which undermines it as opposed to another facet of her character. Certainly, DC’s treatment of Cass as a person with disabilities is as mixed as their treatment of Cass as a chromatic person — which is to say very — but the solution is not to downplay one aspect of her identity for the sake of another. The implication that DC should “let go” of Cass’ background, when that background is vital context to the psychological and neurological challenges that she realistically should be working through on an ongoing basis, is tantamount to arguing for erasure of one of comics’ very few protagonists with disabilities.
(Of course, there’s also the issue that it’s always the minority characters who have to work through these challenges, while the white/straight/cis/male characters just sail on through the worst traumas which are completely glossed over within two story arcs. But the solution there is more representation and more nuanced storytelling, not erasing the representation we have to adhere to a flawed and problematic standard.)
I’m not even sure glossing over Cass’ history would do any good for her treatment as an Asian person, anyway. I get where Dandizette is coming from with the argument that DC emphasizes the two things that make Cass near-unique in the field of DC characters — her Asian-ness and her disabilities — to the point of fetishization. But on the other hand, Cass’ ongoing struggles with language, with the legacy of her upbringing, with these things that make her different from everyone else she knows — those are what make her real. More to the point, it’s a bit strange that we’ve both been writing about DC playing down Cass’ disabilities as a hypothetical, when it’s already happened — they already have erased her disabilities, as part and parcel of the same character mangling that turned her into a generic junior dragon lady with daddy issues to be a villain for Tim Drake.
[Image description: simplified models for three character designs: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Captain America, an Ant-Man-like design labeled “Kirby’s Spider-Man,” and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man outfit. Between the two Kirby designs and Ditko’s Spidey, text:]
The Costumes A creation is anything created. A creator is one who creates. There is one name: Spider-Man, with different costumes. Is it the same “idea”? Does two different costumes mean 2 “creators” 2 “creations” or still only one character and creation? In this issue, is it the case not of who “created” the “idea” of the name Spider-Man but who created the published Spider-Man creation? [arrow pointing to Ditko design]
So this is a sketch/part of an essay by Steve Ditko, in response to the issue of whether Jack Kirby had anything to do with the creation of Spider-Man. (See the Wiki notes on Spidey’s publication history, this io9 article, and this FAQ on spiderfan.org for more details.) In very short, the general understanding is that Lee and Kirby brainstormed the Spidey concept together, in part inspired by an unpublished character Kirby and Joe Simon had worked on in the 50s (who later became The Fly). Kirby turned out a few pages but Lee didn’t like the direction the story was going, so he went to Ditko. Some people have claimed that because of Kirby’s brainstorming, he should be credited as a co-creator. Ditko’s response: “Yeah, nice try.”
While I do think Kirby should get due credit for his influence, I have to agree with Ditko. When comics historians discuss the gamechanging nature of Spidey’s arrival on the scene, they generally talk about Lee’s then-unique take on a teenage superhero who deals with personal issues as much as crime-fighting ones. But Spidey’s costume and kinetics, the way he looks and the way he moves, were just as necessary to Spider-Man being the character we know today, just as unprecedented, and just as influential on the genre, and that’s all down to Ditko.
So I’ve decided fandom will forever be confused about Natasha’s name. Not, uh, coincidentally, comics writers have been confused about it for even longer.
The tricky bit is this: Natalia and Natasha are both forms of the Russian name Наталья. The Natalia/Natasha equivalency doesn’t exist in English, leading to all kinds of tail-chasing confusion re: which is real and which is fake. Natasha is a diminutive form of Natasha the same way Bill is for William. “Natalia” is not more authentic or more Russian, it’s just a bit more formal. And “Natasha Romanoff” is not an alias the way “Nadine Roman” or “Nancy Rushman” are.
The Romanoff/Romanova issue is just a question of transliteration. The Russian surname is Рома́нов, which is written as Romanoff or Romanov depending on your history book. Traditionally, Russian ladies take feminine endings to match their grammatical gender— Ivan Belov becomes Yelena Belova, Aleksandr Belinsky becomes Aleksandra Belinskaya. But the feminine endings often get dropped in English translation, e.g. Nastia Liukin, not Nastia Liukina. It’s a matter of preference.
If that’s too confusing, don’t worry, until about 1998 the comics had no idea what they were doing either.
This is v. v. good and worth a read. Names are serious business! Even though I could never get a whole essay out of how its Osborn, not Osborne. :(
What about Osbourne???
Here’s a handy reference guide I have thrown together on the spot: Osbournes kill bats, Osborns kill spiders. Maybe if his arch nemesis was Batman…
What an awesome essay, and very informative of both Russian naming conventions and Natasha’s history.
As for the Osborns (aka the Osbourns aka the Osbournes aka the Osbornes), at least they’re in good company, what with Liz Allan (whose surname actually is Allen in some continuities!), the Stac(e)y family, Mary Jane (who only has a hyphen in her surname after she marries Peter and becomes a Watson-Parker), Otto Octavi(o)us … I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. Heck, Stan Lee once wrote Peter’s name as “Peter Palmer” for an entire issue.
It depends what you mean by “getting away with it”. I mean there will clearly be a payoff eventually, but I can’t say it will satisfy you given what you’ve written above.
I would AGREE that some of what Wally’s doing is belittling of M’gann, BUT he doesn’t know that. And it’s certainly NOT his intent. I think Wally actually thinks he’s making progress with M’gann. That what he’s doing is working. This isn’t the act of a guy who knows he’s not in the game but continues to harass a girl who doesn’t want the attention. This is a case of a guy who VERY much thinks he’s IN the game… and that in fact, any second, she’s going to fall for his charms.
As for M’gann, I don’t think she’s as bothered by Wally’s attention as you may think she is. I don’t think she feels belittled by it. That’s not the same as saying some of what he says and does isn’t belittling, but as a literal alien to the culture, trained on Earth customs by DATED television, she’s more perplexed by it than in any way upset. Some of his lame lines go right over her head. Some don’t, but she finds him amusing and even sweet, considering that she isn’t interested in the slightest.
I think the main problem that these two have is that M’gann thinks its so obvious that Wally’s not in the running that she hasn’t bothered to tell him. She assumes he knows. But he’s too dense to see the obvious. I’m not blaming her or him. It’s just a disconnect. And disconnects are where drama, conflict and, yes, even comedy comes from.
Interesting. I hope he gets a clue soon, though. It’s embarrassing to watch, lol.
I love that Wonder Woman is 90 years old in YJ.
lol what is fandom supposed to take note of? All I got out of this was “WELL IT’S NOT WALLY’S INTENT TO SEXUALLY HARASS HER SO” and “MEGAN IS AN ALIEN SO SHE’S AMUSED BY IT AND WE’RE NEVER GOING TO ADDRESS IT SERIOUSLY BECAUSE SHE’S COOL WITH IT ALSO IT’S FOR TEH DRAMA AND LULZ.”
I mean that’s what I read. Great message to send to the young and impressionable male target audience, Weisman.
WHAT KAREN SAID. lol “take note”? Okay, thanks, I will take note of the fact that they’re not planning to hold Wally in any way culpable for sexual harassment just because it isn’t his intent!
Given the way Peter and Betty’s pseudo-relationship was handled in Spectacular Spider-Man, I’m not sure how much Greg Weisman really understands that a guy can be attentive and persistent towards “getting” a girl in ways that seem entirely benign to him but which to the girl are not only awkward, but downright creepy, intrusive, and stressful.
Amazing Spider-Man #598, written by Joe Kelly & illustrated by Marco Checcetto.
I know why Marvel editorial wanted to make Spider-Man’s identity a secret again. Outing him in the first place, really, was a poor choice. I don’t necessarily begrudge editorial for going back on that choice. I do have a problem with Norman being forced to forget, though. I was recently asked to write about OMD’s affect on Norman Osborn and Spider-Man; namely, the dreaded memory-wipe that resulted in everyone, Norman included but Mary Jane excluded, forgot that Spider-Man was Peter Parker. Ask and shall you receive.
This commentary is written with the presumption that Norman is Spider-Man’s greatest arch-nemesis, because in my objective and not-at-all biased perception that is the case. Now, onward.
This is amazing meta which pretty much states everything I think about the Norman-Peter dynamic post-One More Day, except more awesomely than I ever could’ve. Go read it! :D
As far as the lack of clarity in terms of how the mindwipe works, I think the problem is less that writers are shy about filling in details that haven’t been hashed out behind the scenes as that it has been hashed out, and either the hashers-out are oblivious to all the questions that remain, don’t care about the questions that remain, or everyone has a slightly different definition of what’s been hashed out. We’ve gotten tons of clues about how the mindwipe works, but they don’t add up very well.
Norman, Harry, Daredevil, Felicia, the Fantastic Four, the New Avengers, Peter’s supporting cast — all of them have been shown (not) remembering in slightly different ways. Some characters are aware, without prompting, that they used to know who Spidey was and have not only forgotten, but are being prevented from relearning it through normal means. Some characters don’t notice the gaps in their memories until they have their attention drawn to it somehow. Some characters don’t notice the gaps even when they’re blatantly obvious. Some characters get all their memories back when Peter unmasks to them again, but others react as though it’s the first time they’ve met Peter Parker.
It’s horrendously inconsistent, and while there are ways to fanwank the details, the whole premise of Spider-Man having what’s essentially a demonic magical geas upon his secret identity is just too major an issue to leave to fannish handwaving.
The third one I can remember — and at least two different people pitched this at two different times — was an idea that never got as far as an official title, but it was essentially “Black Avengers.” It was “Let’s put all the African or African-American heroes together on a team for an adventure,” and in those cases too, there was nothing about the idea beyond “It’s a bunch of super heroes together” that said “Avengers” beyond the fact that “Avengers” is a term that’s salable. I think there’s something very specific about what “Avengers” means to the Marvel Universe. They’re the varsity. They’re the A-list. They’re the Man. They’re not about being super heroes because of demographics or ethnicity. They stand for something specific and occupy a certain role. If you don’t have some degree of that, then it doesn’t feel like Avengers.
First, isn’t the very concept of the Avengers “a bunch of superheroes together?”
Second, if being an Avenger is not about ethnicity then how come you don’t have more POC as Avengers? How can it be a contrivance to have one bunch of superheroes to come together and not another? There was some good discussion about this by @sonofbaldwin on Twitter.
Characters aren’t born A-list. And you don’t get A-list characters by limiting them and putting them in only certain books. You find good writers and you let them write them and then let the audience decide who is A-list.
It’s tiring to hear the same things said over and over again about race in comics.
Someone said today that it was a “gradual process. Luke Cage is well on his way to becoming iconic.” Luke Cage debuted in comics 9 years after Tony Stark. How long does he have to wait? Where’s his chair?
Judging by current and past output, you could conclude that Marvel are more invested in the idea of animals as Avengers than they are POC as Avengers.
Besides the astute commentary above, the “Avengers have to be A-List” argument makes no sense to me, considering the number of times I’ve seen people claim that the difference between the Justice League and the Avengers is that the platonic version of the Justice League is all A-Listers with A-List powers, whereas the platonic Avengers have a much more eclectic roster. I remember back when New Avengers debuted, there was a lot of complaining from long-time Avengres fans about how Spider-Man and Wolverine were clearly only on the roster because they were A-List and drew readers, and not because their inclusion made any in-universe sense. Heck, people still complain about this. I’m not going to debate the merits of either argument, but they are popular and strongly-held conceptions of what the Avengers should be that are in contravention to Brevoort’s statement above.
Now, I think most fans would say that the Avengers under Bendis’ pen are meant to be A-Listers. But he took over in 2005, and the Avengers have been around since 1963 — since before the concept of the A-List even existed, let’s note. Even in the past six years there are a number of characters that Bendis clearly put on the team not because they were already A-Listers, but because he (or editorial) wanted them to be. Luke Cage has already been mentioned, but what about Spider-Woman? The Sentry? More recently, Protector (Noh-Varr) and Red Hulk?
So even when the Avengers are “the team of A-Listers,” which they haven’t necessarily been for much of their history, inclusion on the roster doesn’t mean you are an A-Lister so much as at the very least, someone wants you to be.
It also bears mention that saying, “the Avengers are the A-List, regardless of demographics,” neatly glosses over the fact that the very concept an “A-List” or “iconic” character automatically biases the field of potential A-List characters in favor of the straight, white, male, and frequently rich characters who’ve had the historical advantage in both longevity and exposure over their queer/chromatic/female/poor (in whatever combination) counterparts.
That awkward moment where you’re finally uncomfortable and skeeved enough to talk about something and you’re fairly certain it’s going to go quite badly as these things tend to do.
But, well. Here’s hoping anyway.
This is a post about River Song and why what Moffat is writing with her makes my skin crawl. I don’t hate her. I also don’t dislike her. Rather, I’m insulted by the way she is presented and written. I know that disliking her is hardly an unpopular opinion but those that do like and love her have, in the past, kept me from saying anything. Not directly, no, and I like to hope that fans will understand criticisms and not sweep them away, which I too often see. A post that went around my dash several weeks ago claimed she was flawless and that there were no objective reasons to dislike her save personal preference. Again, I felt rather upset by this because of how upsetting her character is for me. But now that my dash is pretty much nothing but the now famous speech, I feel the need to say something.
And for more disclaimers, these are all my own opinions and I just feel the need to put them out there now. I’ve never liked how she’s written. I feel she’s one of the best examples of why I’m so wary of letting Moffat ever write a woman. And I guess I’m finally putting it into words despite, well, everyone scaring me - including the extreme haters. But here it goes.
This is an excellent analysis. I don’t agree with every single part of it, but all of it is great food for thought and stuff I’ll be mulling over as I watch the series to come. And WORD on the ickiness of Moffat’s views on Amy’s physical attractiveness (and, even more creepily, on Karen Gillan’s).
(Also, I really love how everyone in this discussion is being so thoughtful and considerate of other people’s opinions. Most of my experience with Who fandom is on LJ and I am so fucking tired of how fannish debate over the female cast [especially Rose, Martha, Amy and River] has gotten so polarized that I just don’t want to participate anymore. I’m sick of the slut-shaming and hating on female characters [with bonus doses of racism and classism in Martha and Rose’s cases], but I’m also sick of the attitude that if you dislike a female character it MUST be your internalized misogyny and probably also that you’re jealous of the female Companions because you’re hot for the Doctor. It’s especially eye-rolly because all of this is done in the name of feminist awareness and I’m like … uh, no, not really.)
I’ve been working myself up into a rant about fictional depictions of intelligence, but this. THIS. Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man is emblematic of everything that is wrong with how we conceptualize and tell stories about human intelligence and genius. It simply doesn’t work this way.
Genius in the Big Two is almost always portrayed this way, and it’s doubly infuriating because almost all of these Super-Renaissance-Men are (usually but not always rich) white dudes. It’s not that I think this is a good archetype, but the texts always treat it as such, and it’s very strongly tied to whiteness/maleness/Westernness with a generous helping of wealth thrown in. With only a few exceptions, intelligent women, MoC, and non-Westerners have to settle for being realistically brilliant.
Don’t even get me started on how apparently both Marvel and DC think that not only can genius be numerically ranked, but we can know exactly who the smartest person on the planet is out of all seven billion human beings alive. (And it’s a rich white dude. Surprise!)
(Also, this is a bit of an aside, but I was just rewatching Amadeus with my mother this afternoon, and as much as I enjoy the film as the lavish spectacle of historical inaccuracy it is, I would just like to register how tired I am of the “hardworking but pedestrian skill trumped by RAW UNFETTERED GEEEENIUS~~~” trope.)