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Iambaytor
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Okay this was just an idea that breezed through my head. I didn't feel it belonged in Philosophy since it's only centered on comic book characters.

 

The first subject I wanted to bring up was Wonder Woman.

 

Wonder_Woman_v2_200_virgin.jpg

 

Long an icon of female empowerment, Wonder Woman is more or less Rosie The Riveter in hot pants and a red and gold corset. The idol of little girls everywhere yet she's gone from being The JLA's secretery to always being bossed around by Superman.

 

One case of the opposite was in Darwyn Cooke's novel Justice League: The New Frontier. Wonder Woman who was voiced by Lucy Lawless, who is undoubtedly the perfect actress to play the part, is actually Amazonian. She's over six feet, lording over even Superman, she's strong and shapely but not in a slutty way. What's more is she's very strong willed and defiant. So what's everyone's first question "Is she a lesbian?"

 

Now I want to make the case that there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, this is not the argument I am trying to make. What I am trying to say is that I find it insulting that when she's submissive and short she's assumed to be straight but when she's tall and dominant she is automatically assumed to be gay.

 

I think this takes away from her character but putting out the idea that only lesbians can be strong women (both in body and mind.) Suggesting that being straight is a sort of weakness for a woman and that only by being far removed from men can a woman find her strength.

 

I think Wonder Woman carries more power as a straight woman than as a lesbian or even bisexual. She's powerful and strong willed and intimidating without being some sort of bull-dyke dominatrix. This is just something that occurred to me and I wanted to know other peoples' thoughts on the matter.

 

Also this thread is open ground for any sort of philosophical discussion involving comics. I think the subject deserves some discussion.

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Interesting idea.

Now I want to make the case that there is nothing wrong with being a lesbian, this is not the argument I am trying to make. What I am trying to say is that I find it insulting that when she's submissive and short she's assumed to be straight but when she's tall and dominant she is automatically assumed to be gay.

Agreed. Do they still strap her to phallic symbols (or have them flying towards her), too?

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Interesting idea.

 

Agreed. Do they still strap her to phallic symbols (or have them flying towards her), too?

 

To be quite honest I don't think I have ever actually read a single Wonder Woman solo book, mostly because they're hard to find. And I don't know anybody who can point out any good trades.

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cool thread idea, i recall :pig: used to tell me to read the trades of her vs artemis, or whoever her fill-in was supposed to be, swore they were great.

 

Wonder Woman's come a long way (baby), ive read she started as more or less a symbol of bondage (always ending up tied by her own lasso), in the 70's for a bit they had her drop that and do uh, an office job? i know byrne or someone had her work fast food in the 80's...anyway.

the question of her sexuality is always gonna be there; im glad they at least gave her a bit of character in final crisis or whichever one it was that she did what bats & supes wouldnt, and killed the villain - in front of cameras and everything. she got condemned by all for it, but she's supposed to be a warrior, and seemed to see this as the most efficient way of dealing decisively with her opponent. the lack of sympathizers with her honestly is part of what turns me off to DC sometimes...not everyone's gotta be a Punisher, but shit, if one person veers in that direction after so many years, i at least find that interesting.

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  • 2 years later...

Well, I'm dusting the cobwebs off this thing for a new bit of controversy. No it's not Superman no longer being a US citizen (for the record I don't find it to be anti-American or even slightly offensive, I do find it to be a fucking horrendous piece of writing and another example of how DC is really spinning its wheels) But I come here for another reason, for Bat Girl!

 

For those of you who don't know, DC's doing a soft reboot of everything. Some claim it's a gimmick to sell books (which it is) but it also seems like a good way to unfuckup a lot of stories that have kind of gone by the wayside since the Crisis on Infinite Earths whether because their origin stories have become too convoluted (Hakwman), their characters have been replaced by lesser Superman Jr./Supergirl types (The Question, Sandman, Dr. Fate all 3 are just wishful thinking on my part), or because J. Michael Straczynski just absolutely destroyed the momentum with some terrible terrible writing (Wonder Woman, Superman) but the one that's apparently drawn the most ire is Barbara Gordon's return to the role of Batgirl.

 

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/06/06/batgirl-barbara-gordon-disabled/

 

First of all let me say that I loved The Killing Joke but I think even Alan Moore has realized at this point (I remember reading somewhere that's it's his least favorite of everyhting he's written) that she was a woman in a refridgerator who just happened to live and go on to some moderate success later on. It was David Ostrander's Suicide Squad (a series I cannot begin to reccommend enough to each and every one of you) that officially transformed parapalegic former Bat-person Barbara Gordon into super-hacker/glorified dispatcher Oracle. Gail Simone was the writer that really brought the character to bear as a pretty kickass hero in her own right. However, myself (and many others) have long wished for the return of Batgirl (Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown were both solid attempts, but neither have really done the goods) I personally blame Batgirl: Year One and Batman The Animated Series for endearing the character to me and especially the former for really twisting the knife on the whole "but in current continuity she can't even walk" issue. So myself and a large majority of fans are more than a little pleased to be getting the proper Batgirl back, but there's another side to this coin.

 

Oracle was one of the very few disabled heroes in comics (Charles Xavier and Niles Caulder are the only ones that come to mind off the top of my head) and with this retcon, an already polarized minority loses one of the few characters they can identify with. I could point out that in the current arc of Birds of Prey, Babs had a protege, a former Teen Titan who had become parapalegic, so there's still an opportunity for that character dynamic to exist. But that doesn't stop a lot of people from getting butthurt over it.

 

But I maintain that this is a good thing, for a number of reasons. For one thing, the near-fatal wounding of Barbara Gordon was a huge "women in refridgerators" moment and just about every single thing that references it just seems out of character. I suppose I could buy a single moment of stupidity about just flinging open the door even if your father is the commissioner of the crimeiest city in the world and you're a seasoned vigilante who's trained to know better, but for years Barbara has seemed to struggle with a relucatance or even fear of becoming Batgirl again due to what happened. There's a lot of problems with that, for one she didn't get her spine shattered because she was Batgirl, it happened because she was Commissioner Gordon's daughter. The other problem is that she's otherwise a no-nonsense fearless person. Now a few years after this first happened it made sense, but even recently the whole Joker thing still seems to be a big problem for her.

 

The other problem is the chair. Remember how Batman totally got his back broken by Bane? Remember how he got better a few months later and it was all totally triumphant and stuff? Or to play devil's advocate, remember all 6 of the times Proffessor X was able to walk again only to be rendered parapalegic again by just plain bad like (I would find that to be more disheartening to the differently abled myself) yet in a world of people with cybernetic bodies, magic, and people coming back to life every other day she can't recover from a spinal injury? I'll admit that the recovery of Bruce Wayne and Charles Xavier were all pretty convuluted and stupid, but obviously the methods are there. So the only reason that she should even still be wheelchair bound is by choice which is honestly a million times more patronizing than removing her handicap. I don't think I speak out of turn when I say that pretty much every single person who can't walk, if given the ability to do so, would walk.

 

Now yes, this takes another person off an already dwindling list of disabled superheroes but I don't think the list is so small because of prejudice or marginalizing a minority, I think it exists because of the problems inherent. I mean sure you could make a ton of disabled heroes with cool abilities and gadgets, but would that be any less polarizing than Stan Lee's attempt in the 80s at a gay superhero or all those godawful attempts at doing African American heroes in the 70s that were written by very racist white men? There aren't a lot of disabled superheroes because being disabled is a disability (redundant I know, but apparently it bears saying) and would thus make the act of fighting crime rather difficult. Of the three I've mentioned, only one even manages to rise above being a call dispatcher (let's be honest the "hacker" thing isn't empowering and hasn't been since 8 year olds have been doing it in movies since the 80s) is Proffessor X and it's only because he has kickass mental powers that that's even possible. I get that everyone wants someone to identify with but it's pretty much a given that there's not going to be a lot of wheelchair bound superheroes. This isn't to say that there can't be a lot of wheelchair bound characters in comics, the main character's older sister in the webcomic Something Positive is a great example of this. Hell, even with a world of female super-heroes out there the best female comic book character I can conjure up in my mind is Amanda Waller, an overweight short tempered black lady who runs Belle Reeve prison and manages the Suicide Squad, the same comic where Oracle originated and came into her own.

 

However, I'm basing a lot of the hatred turned toward this on the ComicsAlliance comments section of that article. From what I can gather, not a single one of the offended parties is disabled or even knows anyone that is and I imagine it's a case of them disguising their fanboy rage as humanitarianism and totally not realizing the irony of "standing up for all those disabled people that are patronized by others." Still I found this topic worth discussing.

 

For Hakujin: TL:DR BATGIRL NO HAVE WHEEL CHAIR NO MORE! IS GOOD OR BAD?

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Killing Joke never should have been canon in the first place, it works far better as a neat little short story with no consequences.

 

I hate catering to any group of people in terms of character development. Didn't one of The New Warriors use crutches? It seemed so forced and awful. Not completely unlike Tyroc.

 

Soooo, yeah. I'm fine with it, and I think her being paralyzed in the first place was a bad call.

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I agree, Killing Joke works better as its own seperate thing and paralyzing her was just a pretty shit call all told, but DC was all about "going dark" back then. Though I suppose the stupidest post-crisis moment is still a million times more intelligent than anything in Rise of Arsenel.

 

I'm also with you on the catering to groups front. Okay, so you see some similarities between you and Spider-Man, he's a fucking fictional character so the writer can do with him as he pleases. I won't pretend to understand what it's like to be disabled but it seems ludicrous that you could only identify with other disabled characters. I'm beginning to think all controversy is actually stirred up by guilty WASPs.

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great post.

 

I don't think I speak out of turn when I say that pretty much every single person who can't walk, if given the ability to do so, would walk.

 

this is the part where i gotta cross the streams a bit - hondonian WhoDey (and KaraSwims, both wheelers/big parts of the disabled community) heard me out on this exact point, and both strongly disagreed. analogies were made between disabled heroes like Xavier randomly walking again and stuff like Reeves not being a hero of the community for treading their lifestyle as a simple stepping stone, of sorts. its not a perspective i could entirely wrap my head around either, i just wanted to point this out if you (like me) are going to treat this as a foregone conclusion in the real-life angle of this discussion.

 

but yes, those fans aside, its weird seeing her (or say, madame web i think?) kinda left in the cold when paralysis is clearly slightly more annoying than a cold in these universes. its the disconnect i had with One More Day when peter couldn't get anyone - tony, strange, FF etc - to save his dying grandma, even with all the credit he had in the bank. it was weird given that the Hand can bring back the dead every other thursday night.

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I guess I could understand that in an abstract way, though I don't really understand how having the use of your legs back would make you any less active or sympathetic in the community, but then again I'm not the one confined to a wheelchair so what do I know?

 

And don't get me wrong, I appreciate that Barbara Gordon became something more than just disabled Batgirl, that the writers turned her into a paramour for the disabled community is not only a testament to the writers but to the character herself. But I consider that making the best of the bad situation, in the same way that the character found a way to make herself a cornerstone of the crime-fighting organization when she was unable to be a vigilante anymore I think spinning her character into an important character beyond what was essentially retirement in the 80s. I think if she had been born without the ability to walk I would find this offensive, but it was taken from her in the cheapest way possible and I think it's more than fair that they fix that.

 

I will also say John F. Walker (AKA U.S. Agent), the new warden of The Raft, not only threatens to take her place, but do it better. For those who don't know, US Agent was the second Captain America for a brief period and recently in the events of Siege he had his left arm and leg removed by Nuke (yes the guy from Daredevil, he's still alive as like a cyborg thing) not only did they solve the problem of "Well why doesn't he just get it fixed?" by having him adamantly turn down robotic prostheses due to not wanting to be like the guy who amputated two of his limbs, but also set up the fact that he is just as able if not moreso than he was on two legs. In a fairly recent issue there was a small jailbreak and a group of super powered prisoners ganged up on him and the man with one arm and one leg in a wheelchair kicked the shit out of them. And it didn't feel the least bit gimmicky, to be honest I forgot all about Walker until I was halfway through writing this post.

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yeah, LL & i used to talk about this. my analogy was: if i woke up tomorrow and all of you had mutated and could now fly, id be considered disabled. i might identify myself as a walker, and let's say a minority of others who lost their wings or simply didnt fully mutate made a community with me, that'd become part of my identity no doubt...but if i could say take a pill and gain flight, to what extent is this part of my identity so large as to be more important than being fully able?

 

i believe LL said i was oversimplifying the importance of said identity/communities, and like you said, im not part of the club so i can't say otherwise, but i do wish i couldve wrapped my head around it better. Whodey & kara are great people and im sure a few more conversations over drinks and the bridge wouldve been gapped, but they've a family up north now, so perhaps another time.

 

anyway, now i gotta go read that issue.

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For Hakujin: TL:DR BATGIRL NO HAVE WHEEL CHAIR NO MORE! IS GOOD OR BAD?

 

:FHD: for this line alone because I nearly shit myself laughing.

 

 

Nick touched on the defiantly militant stance of the less abled taking their thing as a badge of honour(me I'll take synthetic parts for whatever I'll lose as soon as you can import 'em from Japan), but is this really a thing? Wheelers identifying with their 4 colour counterparts?

 

I fucking loved Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. Hers was one of the few series I read religiously back in the day. Is Babs being back in tights going to bring anything new to the table, really? I mean past the first few issues noting at every given opportunity how refreshing it is for her to see the city from this perspective again... What made her initial run as Batgirl so good was the fact that I always saw her as a likeable version of Spiderman, and they're not going to be able to recreate that scenario are they?

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Fuck, you want a homework assignment? Here's the full run on Suicide Squad link it is unfortunately mostly not in trade because otherwise I would own it. I strongly recommend you read it as it will make you realize how awesome Deadshot, Amanda Waller, and Rick Flag are and will show you why Brad Meltzer killing off Captain Boomerang was total bullshit. I do advise skipping volume 2 though as it's written entirely in quips (it's like if Joss Whedon did a bunch of coke and just wrote the first discussions that popped into his head) and makes no sense whatsoever (I read the entire thing and still have no idea what the fuck was going on with any of it.)

 

And here's the current run on Thunderbolts http://www.demonoid.me/files/details/2570849/36259011/ which is essentially just Suicide Squad:Marvel Edition at this point, but it's written by the guy who did all the Agents of Atlas comics so it's really good. Read them, you will thank me.

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to answer JZA's question: yeah, WhoDey used to tell me (he does athletic programs with the disabled) that kids in said groups could often look up to Xavier, as he conquers things with this mind and is one of the most powerful members on/leading the team, rather than holding them back in any way.

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See, I don't know for sure, but I get the impression that they're just going to say that she never got her spine severed. DC doesn't have the balls to say The Killing Joke didn't happen, but I think they'll probably say the wound was more superficial.

 

But you also hit the nail on the head with the Spider-Man comic. She's a character that everyone can identify with because unlike Batman/Nightwing/pretty much every other memory of the bat family, she doesn't have a fucked up home life and her parents weren't murdered. She became the equivalent of Batman out of nothing but steely determination because she was too short to join the police force. This character trait was also what made her so interesting as Oracle. Also she's being written by Gail Simone who is pretty great at writing amazing stories especially with this particular character. Batgirl has always been equal parts fun/cool/and hot pretty much the epitomy of what any female character in a comic book should aspire to and I maintain that Batgirl was the first time DC got the female superhero right, even the "girl" part of the name doesn't seem demeaning like it does with Supergirl and that's mostly due to how strong of a character she is. It will be nice to see her kicking ass in a more literal way and a nice foil the rest of the Bat-family currently running which almost all seem to be born of tragedy.

 

I will however say that the re-re-birth of Jason Todd seems a little forced.

Edited by Iambaytor
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Baytor- thanks for the torrent links

 

NZA- not to be backhanded but, isn't it a little ironic that the wheeler kids looking up to Professor X go the way of athletic programs as opposed to hitting the books? I mean much love to 'em for pursuing their dreams but, Xavier don't arm-wrestle a lotta folks...

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To be fair, motherfucker could cheat at basketball with the best of them, in his big goofy 90s wheelchair. I have an issue where this happens, and Beast shows that all folk are equal by totally fowling him. Also he totally manipulated a bunch of kids into falling for each other so they could hang around his house and support his jingoistic ideals of peace. Still, the core of the character is there, but yeah. He did like to play basketball at least since I can think of at least 3 occasions that involved him doing so.

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That'll just make me like him more.

 

PS- I'm pretty sure if we weren't already caucasian, 'Captain Boomerang' would be a racist slang term anyways.

 

It possibly will, that's what endeared him to me anyway. Between the fact that man's fucking name is "Digger" to his overuse of the phrase "you bloody bike." Also he totally calls Amanda Waller an "Abo" on several occasions which is only slightly better than Deadshot's constant use of "Mammy Waller." You'll come for the stereotypes and racism, but you'll stay for the awesome characterization and the mockery of Dr. Light that actually only got funnier in the wake of Identity Crisis.

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Writer's names combine and confuse in my head, but yes that's who I meant because I can't be arsed to flip over to wikipedia every time I'm talking about books I've read. I've got an old back issue of Grimjack I got in one of those packs of random comics sold in a sealed mylar bag they sell at grocery stores, it's a briliant issue but I've never gotten around to reading past page 5 of the first issue in the series. It's usually due to distractions and other comics I want to read first, then I realize my hard-drive has like 3 gigs of freespace so I delete it and say "someday."

 

Looking at his wiki page now I see a lot of comics I need to read. This is also going to make me do something I never thought I would dare do, I'm going to read a Lady Death comic. *shudder*

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  • 2 years later...

Okay, reviving a thread.

 

Why can't Spider-Man be Black/Gay/Bisexual/Not a WASP

 

Idea for this

 

As you may or may not be aware the comics industry has undertaken some major leaps in characters of sexual orientations and races other than white and straight. We have Miles Morales, Kevin Keller, Batwoman, Alan Scott has been retconned as a gay man in the New 52, recently it was announced that Aqualad from Young Justice may be as well, Vibe is less offensive than he used to be, the Blackhawks are now Jewish, Ebony White was written and drawn as something other than a minstrel show caricature (he is still an orphaned black kid driving a stolen cap, though.) Shit is happening.

 

Spider-Man actor Andrew Garfield posed the question "Why can't Spider-Man be bisexual" suggesting that Mary Jane could in fact be Marty-Joe or some shit and Peter could experiment. Seeing as this was a comicsalliance story the only answer was "blah blah angry words WHITE MALE PRIVELAGE blah blah" and allusions were made to the similar concept of casting a black actor to play the character back when they were doing that.

 

I had a reaction of "naw" on both cases and I didn't really have a concrete answer as to why. In both cases I initially assumed it was some inborn hatred of seeing a white role model taken down. Somebody, very reasonably, said that Peter could be gay or black, he "just isn't" and another posed the question "What would that change about the character?"

 

I gave this some serious thought and I realized the answer was "everything." Because honestly it's not the though of a white or straight character being restructured that bothers me. I wasn't bothered by Alan Scott being gay and the recent announcement that Sue and Johnny Storm might be black in the next Fantastic Four added what I feel like might be a bit more diversity to the group. There's a lot of characters where I don't think this would be an issue, I could see Daredevil, Iron Fist, Iron-Man, Ghost Rider, any of the X-Men, Dr. Strange, The Fantastic Four, The Punisher, Hawkman, The Flash, Starman, just about any superhero no matter how high profile being any other race or sexual orientation. I don't think Wonder Woman should be gay just because with her personality it's a trope, but I've always felt she should look more Mediterranean.

 

Really there are about 4 of the mainstream WASP superheroes that I could not see as another race or sexual orientation and I feel that's because that part of them is integral to their characters. Those four are (in order of importance:)

 

4. Superman

3. Batman

2. Captain America

1. Spider-Man

 

I'm mainly going to touch on Spider-Man because he was the catalyst for this post, but also because I'm saving the Captain America part for another post. But basically the reason why these four characters need to remain the way they are is this: responsibility.

 

Superman may be an alien, Batman may be a traumatized orphan, Captain America may be a wimp in a strong man's body, and Spider-Man may be an ostracized nerd but the one common thread between these for men is this: At any point, they could easily hang up their costume and live a successful and normal life, using their abilities for nothing but greed and personal gain and living comfortably, and they don't.

 

Even in the crazy society he lives in, Peter Parker just has to burn his costume and go out on the town. He's hansome, he's smart, he's in great shape, there are no social prejudices against him, he can do whatever he wants. This isn't the case with Miles Morales, Miles had to work hard to apply for a good school that Peter Parker would have just sleepwalked into. If you read the early Spider-man stuff he is always missing class and his grades are slipping, but not only does he manage to graduate high school whilst half-assing it, he gets an academic scholarship and he still manages to graduate from college and become a teacher in spite of the fact that he's an awful college student. You think a black or hispanic kid could get away with that in the 60s and 70s, or even now?

 

And Peter constantly gets the wrong impression when he comes upon costumed people. He tends to just jump in fists flying and ask questions later, and these prejudices constantly get him in trouble. That's why the character works because even though he's a nerd, he's still a pretty privileged "normal" middle class white guy and every day is a struggle to remember that he's got it better than a lot of people. He IS a white role model in that he's a reminder to white people (and straight people) that... you know, great power, great responsibility, and all that.

 

I'm not saying that a Spider-Man couldn't be created that is different from this concept (See: Miles Morales) but the point I'm making is that this character wouldn't be Peter Parker any more, they would be someone else. Peter hasn't known real prejudice, most of the prejudice he receives is entirely superficial (he has dumb glasses and wears a sweater-vest) but a lot of it is entirely deserved (he's antisocial and kind of a dick.) All he has to do is comb his hair and actually talk to people, Miles will always be black no matter how smart or powerful he is and that will always influence his thoughts and actions.

 

And this kind of goes for Batman too, he's the soul heir of a company that makes a stupid large amount of money, the man would be a kickass supervillain or could even live like a boss as a legitimate business man, instead he dresses like Dracula and flings sharp pieces of metal at mentally disturbed clowns. Superman is literally better than anyone on the entire planet, there is an entire sub-genre devoted to Superman analogues being horrible people, but Superman isn't because he knows that his powers are for the greater good, not himself. Same with Captain America (like I said, more on that subject later.)

 

Now these characters can inspire more than white people and the concept that they couldn't is moronic and poorly-thought out. I love the Black Panther, he's probably one of my favorite characters despite the fact that I'm neither black nor African. But they also serve a great cultural purpose and to change that would fundamentally change them as characters. Also, it's just stupid and gimmicky to change a characters race/religion/sexual orientation/or gender for political reasons. If you're dissatisfied with the lack of popular characters of color or less popular sexuality then maybe you and all the people who get all excited about shit like this need to read the existing books featuring characters such as this rather than claim that another character needs to be changed to be more like you, that's a horrible ethos.

 

And you'll notice that it's the characters who are characters rather than cheap cash-ins on diversity that endure. Miles Morales, Amadeus Cho, Batwoman, Kevin Keller, Cassandra Cain, Flash Thompson, Hulkling, Wiccan, Storm, Oracle, Amanda Waller, Ms. Marvel versus shit like Freedom Beast, Arana, John Stewart (pre animated JLA), Vibe, Alan Scott. It's about telling stories, not patting one's self on the back and saying "I'm progressive!"

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