Thursday, June 07, 2007

Amy Reads the Week (of June 8th, 2007)

And what a week, Gentle Reader. What a week. Things have been Awfully Busy in Chez Reads as I have been drowning, yes, Drowning In Work. Teaching prep, Dissertation rewrites, Dissertation future-writes, it all Overwhelms, and Overwhelms All At Once.

As a result, I am behind, woefully behind on my pop culture. Granted, it is summer, so that means no real television of which to speak, but Mr. Reads and I have been exploring our missed TV options, and I must admit, the BBC’s Robin Hood has made it Quite High on that list. But other than the occasional television show, I haven’t had time for anything Pop Culture Related, and that means, of course, my beloved Comic Books.

So instead of offering you nothing this week, I’ve decided instead to offer you a meme that I meant to do weeks ago, but kept missing the chance. Instead of nothing, Gentle Reader, I offer you This Humble Author’s 50 Reasons to Love Superhero Comics, as inspired by the Awe-Inspiring Kalinara and Ragnell.

50 Things I Love About Superhero Comics

1) The interconnectivity. Across the Universe, and even Across The Universes, sometimes, it comes as no surprise to find Spider-Man guesting in Daredevil, or Batman showing up in Keystone City to offer Wally some much needed advice and de-Spectre-ing.

2) Batman knows he’s a bit OC. Superman knows he’s a bit nerdy. Wonder Woman knows she’s a bit haughty. And they’re completely fine with that.

3) When Wonder Woman laughs, you have to laugh with her. Her laughs are always, *always* Drawn Wonderfully.

4) Sometimes new costumes are silly. Sometimes the characters understand that way too well. I point to Colossus in Whedon’s run of Astonishing X-Men as proof.

5) Now that I think about it, Joss Whedon.

6) And Gail Simone.

7) Let’s not forget Greg Rucka and Brad Meltzer while we’re at it.

8) Also, Mike Mignola, Brian K. Vaughan, Brian Michael Bendis, Grant Morrison, Sean McKeever, and Geoff Johns.

9) Beautiful, gorgeous art that Gets The Characters. I point to Jo Chen, in particular, and her amazing covers for Runaways.

10) Rebellious teenagers who are Role Models. We need more of those.

11) Catwoman knows how to use a whip. Wonder Woman knows how to use a sword. Big Barda knows how to use her mega-rod. There are less jokes about these things than one might expect.

12) Redemption is possible. Always.

13) Sometimes the villains aren’t exactly bad guys. This happens a lot in Keystone City.

14) Sometimes the villains are Incredibly Scary Bad Guys. This also happens a lot in Keystone City.

15) Comics make jumping across rooftops look hard *and* fun at the same time.

16) They also remind me that I don’t have Superpowers or Excellent Agility, so I should never try #15.

17) Speed Force! Speed Force! Speed Force!

18) When else do men and women look Very Sexy wearing tights and capes?

19) Once, Hawkeye killed people with his own fingernails.

20) The Passing of the Mantle, from Father to Son, from Mother to Daughter, from Person to Person, and all of these are Completely Acceptable.

21) In normal, everyday life, rich people are Awfully Boring. In superhero comic books, they use their wealth to fight crime and build nifty toys. Because honestly, how many Batplanes does a billionaire need, anyhow? Lots and lots, when he crashes them constantly!

22) Heroes learn from their mistakes.

23) Sometimes, the villains do, too (This also happens a lot in Keystone City).

24) Ninjas can bring anyone back from the dead, if they like you enough, or if someone pays them lots of money.

25) There are characters whose Superpower is Control Over Probability. There is also a man who absorbs matter. And a woman who is the Spirit Of Her Century. These are incredibly fascinating things.

26) Matt Murdock’s not necessarily a nice guy. And he knows this. And we love him anyways.

27) There are few people in the world who know all of Donna Troy’s various lives and incarnations without extensive cheat sheets.

28) Time travel is possible. So is the Speed Force. And most aliens want to help. Some even police the universe. There is no limit to Imagination.

29) Robin looks 12 when he’s in Batman’s book, and 17 in his own book and the Titans. Both of these are a matter of perception.

30) DC’s actually fixing Batman, and he’s no longer Quite So Broken.

31) And this is due, in Large Part, to Robin.

32) That is, *all* of the Robins. Including Stephanie.

33) Greg Rucka’s run on Wonder Woman has completely redefined the way I view the Amazon Princess, and that’s A Very Good Thing.

34) Black Canary is Chair of the JLA.

35) Power Girl is Chair of the JSA.

36) And Renee Montoya is The Question.

37) Kate Spencer (Manhunter) is perhaps the most realistic woman ever portrayed in a superhero comic.

38) Superheroes, despite the seemingly small fan base, are universally recognizable for what they are: Heroes.

39) Harley Quinn moved from the television show to the comic book, not vice versa. That’s the power of Good Writing.

40) No matter how Bad the Bad Guys are, the Nazis can be brought back and make any Superhero shake in her (stylish yet affordable) boots (gratitude, Buffy Summers), and rightly so.

41) Many, many superheroes have no Superpowers whatsoever outside of a little pluck, moxie, and determination. That, more than anything else, is Inspiring.

42) Molly Hayes beat up Wolverine and the Punisher. With her bare hands. And everyone knows it.

43) More often than not, the human Sidekicks are the only things keeping the Superheroes grounded. And inevitably, the Superheroes figure that out, and are incredibly grateful.

44) In the tradition of Great Literature, Superhero Comics have universal, timeless storylines with universal, timeless, relatable characters.

45) Actions have consequences. When they don’t? The unfairness of that is brought to light.

46) “Don’t forget the fiffdetuuu!” (gratitude, Legion) has become almost a battle-cry in The Reads Household.

47) Also, “Oh my God. You teach ethics?” (gratitude, Astonishing X-Men). Both of these things, and many, many others, are testaments to the truly Great Writing we’re seeing in the majority of comic books today.

48) Moral ambiguity marks fascinating storylines. Always.

49) Superheroes are only as strong as the people who love them.

50) Superheroes don’t fight only for truth, justice, and the American way. They fight because they’re needed. They fight because they must. They fight because they can.

12 comments:

Matthew E said...

Nice list. (#49 has given me something to think about.)

I'm posting this here because I didn't think to post it after the relevant article at the time.

I may have mentioned it before, but have you ever read any novels from George MacDonald Fraser's 'The Flashman Papers'? Faux-Victoriana, but very well done, thoroughly researched and often very funny.

Scott said...

There's something wrong with you. Fans are supposed to be unhappy, negative, and unreasonable. Comics are not supposed to be wonderful; they are supposed to be hackneyed, marketing-driven, crossover extravaganzas wherein everyone is out of character and nothing is ever "fun."

You need help.

Joking aside, you have no idea how nice it is to see even one fan giving comics love instead of the other thing. The unhappy fandom has at times nearly driven me away from comics, but your enthusiasm is infectious. Now I can't wait to read books like Wonder Woman and Supergirl. And it's... weird. Unnatural. I should be hating the books I read--the sign of a true fan.

You're meddling with the primal forces of nature, Amy Reads.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Matthew,
I was just thinking I hadn't "seen" you around for a while. Hi, Friend :)

Nice list. (#49 has given me something to think about.)

I think that superhero comics demonstrate this point Above All Else. Batman's only as strong as Alfred, Robin(s), his friends. Superman's only as strong as Lois and the Kents. Wonder Woman's only as strong as the Amazons, etc. It makes sense to me.

I'm posting this here because I didn't think to post it after the relevant article at the time.
I may have mentioned it before, but have you ever read any novels from George MacDonald Fraser's 'The Flashman Papers'? Faux-Victoriana, but very well done, thoroughly researched and often very funny.


I haven't! I'll put it on the To Read List (of which half is thanks to your suggestions!). I have a confession, though. Mr. Reads and I tried to give Veronica Mars another chance, and we just couldn't get into it. I think I'm going to chalk it up to a Good Show that I'm not watching.

In other tv news, have you watched the BBC's Robin Hood or Life on Mars? Absolutely wonderful.
Ciao,
Amy

Amy Reads said...

Hi Scott,
There's something wrong with you. Fans are supposed to be unhappy, negative, and unreasonable. Comics are not supposed to be wonderful; they are supposed to be hackneyed, marketing-driven, crossover extravaganzas wherein everyone is out of character and nothing is ever "fun."
You need help.


:)

Trust me, I have plenty of things to complain about, but I really, truly love comics. Love them to the point of blogging. Love them to the point of teaching them. I know that with Great Fandom comes Great Griping because, well, Great Fans know *lots and lots*, but at the core of that is love. Pure, unfettered love.

And the fact that something Might Be Wrong With Me is an idea I accepted a long time ago ;)

Joking aside, you have no idea how nice it is to see even one fan giving comics love instead of the other thing. The unhappy fandom has at times nearly driven me away from comics, but your enthusiasm is infectious. Now I can't wait to read books like Wonder Woman and Supergirl. And it's... weird. Unnatural. I should be hating the books I read--the sign of a true fan.

You are very, very sweet :) Flattery will get you everywhere, Friend, particularly in that I'm having a rather Woe Is I week. This is a very nice thing to hear, especially now. Truly, Thanks.

And, well, you're welcome! I'm quite pleased to Send the Love of Wonder Woman at all times.

(and how about that new Supergirl, huh?)

You're meddling with the primal forces of nature, Amy Reads.

Ask anyone, Friend, and they'll tell you that I am a Meddler from Way Back.

:)

As for the comic grumpies, the one comic grumpiness response I can't stand above all others is the "if you don't like it, make the comics" mentality. I sometimes Don't Like It, but that doesn't mean I want only my tastes out there. In fact, lots and lots of people very clearly, loudly, and publicly don't like The Things I Like Or Do, and that's just fine. It would be an awfully boring place if it were Amy Readsville, no?

Well, boring for everyone but me, I suppose, but still.

And I would *love* to "make the comics," but not all of them. In fact, I have *written* a comic book, in prose form, because *I can't draw to save my life (or anyone else's for that matter)*. I'm a writer *and* a reader (definitely not an artist), and often times, one doesn't meet the other. The things I write aren't necessarily the things I want to read all the time because I *do* read them all the time, because I'm writing them.

Does that make sense?

Thanks again, Friend. Your Kind Words were very welcome.
Ciao,
Amy

Matthew E said...

I was just thinking I hadn't "seen" you around for a while.

Oh, I haven't been away; I check in here every day, just in case something's going on.

Batman's only as strong as Alfred, Robin(s), his friends. [...] etc.

Ah, but I interpreted it in two ways. Yes, superheroes rely on their supporting casts (and also see the second-last episode of season 4 of Buffy), but also, "the people who love them" might be talking about us. Which brings us back to the current run of Legion of Super-Heroes; I'm thinking specifically of the end of issue #1, the scene with Star Boy and Invisible Kid.

In other tv news, have you watched the BBC's Robin Hood or Life on Mars?

My TV watching is pretty limited (these days: Heroes, Backyardigans, Blue Jays Baseball, and Legion of Super Heroes. And I'm probably going to try Bionic Woman in the fall) and doesn't include the BBC. In fact I haven't heard of either of those. Although, is this the old Robin Hood series? Because I heard that was supposed to be good.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Matthew,
Oh, I haven't been away; I check in here every day, just in case something's going on.

I'm drowning in work, unfortunately. Mr. Reads made the comment last night that I had sheer audacity to have a comics blog without ever having time to read comics ;)

Ah, but I interpreted it in two ways. Yes, superheroes rely on their supporting casts (and also see the second-last episode of season 4 of Buffy),

Yes! Yes, yes, yes!! Best defeat of Big Bad Ever, until Season 7!
(I am a Spike Fan of the Highest Order)

but also, "the people who love them" might be talking about us.

Yes! :)
And the creators, who are big, big fans. That, I think, is almost unique to comic fandom.

Which brings us back to the current run of Legion of Super-Heroes; I'm thinking specifically of the end of issue #1, the scene with Star Boy and Invisible Kid.

Can I have a refresher on that scene? It's been a while, I think!

My TV watching is pretty limited (these days: Heroes, Backyardigans, Blue Jays Baseball, and Legion of Super Heroes. And I'm probably going to try Bionic Woman in the fall) and doesn't include the BBC.

I am Very Much looking forward to the Bionic Woman. Also, New Amsterdam, which while it looks to be an Angel rip-off, it's got the right dark feel to it that a rip-off would miss.

In fact I haven't heard of either of those. Although, is this the old Robin Hood series? Because I heard that was supposed to be good.

This one, from 2006. We've only seen disc one so far, but Netflix is sending disc two tomorrow.

Life on Mars is about a cop who gets hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up in the 70s. He's pretty sure he's in a coma, but since that realization is made in episode 1, we're pretty sure he's not. we've only seen a few episodes, and we're waiting for it to come out on DVD. BBCAmerica is a fantastic find for our DVR, I must admit.
Definitely worth looking into!
Ciao,
Amy

PS Did I recommend Madeleine Robins' "Sarah Tolerance" series to you yet, or did you recommend it to me in the first place??

Matthew E said...

Oh, sure, Life on Mars. I actually have heard of that.

But Sarah Tolerance is new to me. I will investigate.

The Invisible Kid/Star Boy scene. Goes like this:

The Legion has had a long hard day of fighting on Lallor. Star Boy and Invisible Kid (and it's Invisible Kid's first day!) are relaxing on the roof of Legion HQ. Down below, all the thousands of legionnaires are hanging out like they always do. This scene shows them, different shots of hordes of happy diverse teenagers, a lot more than it shows Thom (Star Boy) or Lyle (Invisible Kid).

Lyle: Hey, you've been with the team for a while. I have a question about all the kids down there. All the time. Living outside our headquarters. Why don't we just invite them inside?

Thom: Let them--? Do you not remember, like, six months ago? Aah, I probably shouldn't be shocked that there was no newslink to it on the infogrid. It made us look too good.

The Science Police had reached the end of their extremely exhaustible patience with us. They were past the point of caring who had a right to be where.

They just wanted the Legion gone.

So we woke up one morning to the sound of grav-impact bulldozers headed for this building. I'm talking about machines that could level a moon. There was no way even we could have taken them down in a fight.

But we didn't have to.

Those guys down there stood up--I mean to a one, they stood up--and they marched forward and formed a human shield around the whole plaza.

It was the second-most amazing thing you can imagine.

Lyle: What's first?

Thom: That they'd do it again if it came to it. They're free to come in whenever they like. They choose not to.

There are a lot of cool things about being with the Legion, my friend, but never forget the coolest...

...they're not here because of us. We're here because of them.

--

Not the last time Waid would draw a parallel between the small-l legionnaires and Legion fans.

Dark Orpheus said...

Hi Amy,

Wandered in via Chris's blog, and after reading your 50 Things that you love about Superhero comics, I think I now have another blog to check out regularly.

I love Joss Whedon, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka and Mike Mignola. I am with you on Greg Rucka's take on Wonder Woman. I like what he did with WW - and now Gail Simone's going to write WW - I am a happy puppy.

But I will miss Black Canary on Birds of Prey, and I am still not that certain about Renee Montoya as The Question. That suit and the mask is a little lame.

Not sure about Batman being not so broken though. Where's the fun if you don't have the brooding Dark Knight?

And I have too many Batman T-shirts to be respectable.

Cheers.

Amy Reads said...

Hi Matthew,
Oh, sure, Life on Mars. I actually have heard of that.

It's really fantastic, and has a million smart things to say about men and expected hyper-masculinity.

But Sarah Tolerance is new to me. I will investigate.

I also recommend it for Mrs. Matthew, as you've mentioned before she likes Regency-set fiction.

The Invisible Kid/Star Boy scene. Goes like this:

Oh! Yes! Mr. Reads told me about this about a year before I read this issue! What a fantastic moment. Truly inspiring.
Thanks for reminding me!
Ciao,
Amy

Amy Reads said...

Hi Dark Orpheus,
Hi Amy,
Wandered in via Chris's blog, and after reading your 50 Things that you love about Superhero comics, I think I now have another blog to check out regularly.


Huzzah! Thanks, Friend! What a wonderful thing to hear, and Welcome! :)

I love Joss Whedon, Gail Simone, Greg Rucka and Mike Mignola. I am with you on Greg Rucka's take on Wonder Woman. I like what he did with WW - and now Gail Simone's going to write WW - I am a happy puppy.

I am ecstatic. Truly. Rucka's run was brilliant and is Greatly Missed, but who better to take on the Amazon Princess than Ms. Simone? Her Birds of Prey run has been nothing short of genius, and with her two newest books, Welcome to Tranquility and Gen-13, I really think she's demonstrated her depth as a writer.

Not that she had to convince *me*. I'm Just Saying.

But I will miss Black Canary on Birds of Prey, and I am still not that certain about Renee Montoya as The Question. That suit and the mask is a little lame.

I miss Dinah, too, but I'm really loving Renee. The costume itself does seem a bit too Vic, but I love the homage to him in her presentation. Does that make sense?

Not sure about Batman being not so broken though. Where's the fun if you don't have the brooding Dark Knight?

Oh, he's still brooding! But now, he does it with hot cocoa. A little warmer and fluffier, I think.

And I have too many Batman T-shirts to be respectable.

No such thing, Friend! You haven't seen my Wonder Woman collection.
Ciao,
Amy

Revena said...

This is totally off-topic, but I saw a knitting pattern this evening and immediately thought of you. It was such a strange and sudden association that I felt I needed to share it. Here's the pattern: http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer07/PATTunmentionables.html

Hope it makes you smile. :-)

Amy Reads said...

Hi Robyn,
This is totally off-topic, but I saw a knitting pattern this evening and immediately thought of you. It was such a strange and sudden association that I felt I needed to share it. Here's the pattern: http://knitty.com/ISSUEsummer07/PATTunmentionables.html
Hope it makes you smile. :-)


Oh my Goodness! This is Absolutely Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing it with me. It *definitely* made me smile.
(I wish I was a better Knitter than I am, so I could make this! But luckily, I am An Excellent Cook, and probably can do a dinner/knit exchange with a friend)
:)
Ciao,
Amy