Monday, March 30, 2009

Good-bye, Terminator.

I do believe, Gentle Reader, that Mr. Reads and I were The Last Two People On Earth still watching Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Tonight, we said "good-bye" to this show, forever.

It saddens me. Truly, it does, because I like John. I like Derek. I adore Cameron. But I am tired, very tired, of Sarah's constant whinging and bemoaning and woe me-ing. Also, I am So Very Tired of this show not utilizing its best actress and of Sarah not utilizing her Pet Tank more. While the episode two weeks ago was Quite Extraordinary, Friday's episode returned to its same lack of interest.

Ah well.

In other news, Dollhouse is better and better each episode, Better Off Ted is Quite Delightful, and the first episode of Kings was promising enough to retain the last two on the DVR. And Gentle Reader, if you thought the comics backlog was bad enough, the DVR is starting to fill up, as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Amy Reads the Backlog

Spring Break has finally (!) arrived, Gentle Reader, and We Reads find ourselves on the brink of a lovely visit to Nearby Town for some much-needed Away Time. This time will, of course, be defined by reading and writing of the personal variety, and not of the academic variety. No papers shall be graded, no classes shall be prepped, and while This Humble Author finds herself Quite Lucky to teach Fantastical and Wonderful Courses that allow her to begin class with phrases like, "Now, how is Wonder Woman written to fulfill gender stereotypes here, and how is Batman not?" or, "So the name of today's game is zombie contagion. Discuss," One does need a break even from the things one loves, no?

But that means that I have time, yes, finally have time to begin tackling the Extreme Backlog of Comics. Last night found me finishing Secret Invasion, and catching up on Wonder Woman and Secret Six both. As This Humble Author still needs to pack for said trip tomorrow, the reviews will be brief in the extreme. Rather, I will leave you with small imprints, impressions, if you will, Friends, with a promise of a more in-depth review of Wonder Woman later.

Brian Michael Bendis's Secret Invasion #1-8
What I liked:
1) I feel sorry for Tony Stark for the first time since Civil War, Friends, and that is a Very Odd Feeling Indeed.
2) To quote the ever-quotable Kitty Pryde (and in this instance, the ever-quotable Joss Whedon): "Yeahbutwha?" Norman Osborne?? Really??? How Utterly Fascinating!
3) The fact that the writers recognize Spider-Man's insecurity insomuch that he will meet himself, and mock himself. Again and again.
4) Secret Invasion has made me interested in Mar-vell, a character I have never found myself very interested in.
5) Jessica Jones.
That is, any time Jessica Jones Saves The Day, I will smile.

What I didn't:
1) Friends, this defines, truly, my privileging of DC over Marvel: the treatment of Wasp feels overwhelming, more so than the treatment of major female characters in DC. Not only is she tossed aside like so much garbage, she is beaten down, figuratively rather than literally this time, by her husband once again.
2) The entire run seemed to end in an overall theme of "hell hath no fury." This failed utterly in X-Men III, and I found it Rather Grating here, as well.
3) I would have liked to see the comic do more with Wolverine. He felt--dare I say it?--extraneous, which he never usually does.
4) Sue Storm felt even more extraneous, when she is, clearly, the strongest member of the Fantastic 4. I adore Sue Storm as much as I dislike Reed Richards, and she once again seemed to be discounted.
5) Why would anyone use Kate Bishop, Gentle Reader, and then forget she is around? Is there a more interesting or engaging Young Avenger?

Gail Simone's Wonder Woman #28-29
What I liked:
Friends, I almost cried when I saw the trinity of Wonder Women--Diana, Donna, and Cassie--all armored in their matching individuality. It is a beautiful scene, and one definitely marking the signature of Ms. Simone's style. No one, no one writes the team-up better than Ms. Simone.

The constant revelations, and the constant fact that they were overwhelmingly unexpected. From the surprise appearance of Steve Trevor, to the big reveal of Dr. Psycho, and the bigger reveal of Cheetah, it is No Accident that #29 ends with the complete shattering of Zeus's last dredges of sanity.

What I didn't:
I want more from Tom Tresser. Ms. Simone has made me like, no, *care* for this character despite my previous protestations. I would like to see him do more on-screen.

The loss of a Great God feels like the loss of a Dear Friend.

The pacing feels off a bit, almost rushed. It feels like these events are too big for the normal 22 pages. Or perhaps it feels as if the origins storyline at the end rushes the entire comic?

What I wonder:
Is that a pregnant Amazon at the end??

Gail Simone's Secret Six #2-7
What I liked:
1) The Last Victim. I believe all comics would benefit greatly from arrogant immortal banshee aristocrats, truly.
2) Deadshot, Deadshot, Deadshot.
3) Scandal's final scene.
4) The entirety of Bane. The. Entirety. Of. Bane.

What I didn't (short answer):
Nothing, except that Junior has caused nightmares (!!!), Gentle Reader.

What I didn't (long answer):

That is to say, my adoration of Mr. Rucka's and Ms. Simone's runs on Wonder Woman is no secret to This Humble Blog. I cannot imagine it is a secret from anyone, especially you, Most Constant of Readers. But as well as Greg Rucka writes the Outlaw, Gail Simone writes the Team. And I must admit, as much as I love Gail Simone on Wonder Woman, I *adore* her on Secret Six.

It fulfills the promise of Birds of Prey, the dysfunctional little family that tries to pretend it is, in fact, *not* a family. That it is just a random group of people thrown together by common interest. Co-workers, yes?


It fulfills the promise of Gen-13, the dysfunctional little family that tries to pretend it is just a random group of people thrown together by age and background. Teenagers, yes?


It fulfills the promise of Welcome to Tranquility, the dysfunctional larger family that tries to pretend it is just a random group of people thrown together by location and need. Neighbors, yes?


The Team *is* the Family.

Here is the True Secret of this book, Gentle Reader: Gail Simone seems to experience nothing but Joy when writing this book, and that shines through in every conversation, every page.

This began as a simple "brief review" and turned into Something Monstrous, as anything I attempt to be "brief" eventually does. Ah well. I believe this is what reading comics after many months does to one, no?

And with this, I am off, Friends, to enjoy the rest of Spring Break. See you when the work week begins again.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Now Go. Unleash Hell": A Brief Review of Wonder Woman (DVD)

I have two reactions to this movie, Gentle Reader.

The first is a rather lengthy, near-academic discussion of the Absolute Smartness and Complete Joy of this video. It involves some Awfully Big Words, and perhaps A Few Comparisons to literary texts. It is Smart and at times, somewhat High Victorian, but still, a smart and engaged review.

The other goes, I believe, something like this:

"Omigod omigod omigod SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

At least, Mr. Reads informs me that is precisely what I said throughout the watching of this movie.

It is a Smart Movie, Friends, and Even Smarter than any of the other recent DC videos--Doomsday, New Frontier--that have graced our markets. Never let it be said that I do not enjoy those movies. I do, Friends. I do. But this movie depicts Diana in such a joyous way, in a way that Completely Understands the Amazon Princess, in a way that does not rely on Cheap Jokes or Unhappy Gendered Divisions, that I feel that this movie, unlike the other big-name titles, gets its main character completely.

It begins with bloodshed and war. Amazons and Gods fighting for supremacy. The Amazons win, in the end, by defeating Ares, and by losing so many of their sisters. And it continues with a Child Made Of Clay, of a Sister Longing for Love, of Another Sister Longing for War. It continues with Familiarity: with Steve Trevor, with a contest to see who will be the Amazonian Champion to escort Steve Trevor back to Man's World. But not just any Champion, and not just any warrior. A warrior that fights well, but a warrior who fights dirty. And when she no longer has a sword, she uses her fists. In the end, she is declared Champion, and when her Sisters are betrayed by one of their own, Diana becomes Earth's Champion, as well, against the dark forces of Ares's Army.

It begins in familiar places, Gentle Reader. And then, it becomes something uncanny.

Familiar yet unfamiliar, but not horrifying as Dr. Freud would have us believe. Rather, upon first arriving in Man's World, Diana spies a small girlchild crying, because the boys will not let her play. As the girl, they say, she must wait on the sidelines to be rescued.

Princess Diana scoffs, not only at such faulty logic, but at the improper and utterly preposterous way the young men hold their swords, and engage in their swordplay. After teaching the girlchild the proper way to fight, the thrust stroke that will kill, she looks at the girl fondly and tells her, "Now go. Unleash hell."

This is when this movie becomes Utterly Extraordinary.

Diana looks upon Man's World and finds it wanting, both in its approach to gendered divisions and in its presentation of violence and greed and bloodshed. She gives her opinions of these things, Gentle Reader, not only by speaking out against them, but also by using the stereotypical "trappings" of femininity, a purple dress, a high heel, to defeat her male enemy.

On the one hand, yes. Diana rails against the inequality on Man's World by destroying the feminine trappings that would bind her sisters. But for This Humble Scholar, who focuses much of her work on the Engagement With and Manipulation of those very trappings by nineteenth-century women, I say that Diana demonstrates the power hidden within these garments and accoutrements. What is a dress if not a sling, if not a catapult? What is a high heel if not a weapon to be wielded?

Steve is irreverent of and awed by Diana intermittently, and even ventures to call her a "crazy Amazonian dragon lady." The running joke of the definition of--forgive This Humble Author for the inappropriate language she is about to scribe--"crap" throughout the film offers cleverness among the earnestness. And Steve's righteousness, not only in the rescue of Wonder Woman over the rescue of the world, but in his patriotic anger over the desecration of the Lincoln Memorial ("they're messing with Lincoln!" he says. "Nobody messes with Lincoln!") update us to current concerns, as well.

In the end, of course, the threat of Ares's army is neutralized by what the American government believes to be "a group of armored supermodels." And Diana becomes the Warrior for Peace, with her Mother's blessing. Provided she visits home often, of course.

We often forget, Gentle Reader, that Wonder Woman is, first and foremost, a bruiser. She is not a plotter and schemer like Batman, or a boy scout like Superman. She is a Warrior, and she prefers to fight with her fists. And when she is knocked down, she will get up, again and again, not because she does not know fear. Of course she knows fear. Only the mad do not know fear. Rather, as a warrior, she knows Fear, understands it, feels it as far down as she can, and still, she meets it halfway.

That is the very definition of a hero, after all.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Amy Reads the Week (of March 1, 2009)

A shy little peeking out and a brief return from a Rather Long Hiatus From Blogging, Gentle Reader. I confess that life still continues to get the best of This Humble Author, and the only comic (yes, just the one!) I have been able to read this week is, of course, Wonder Woman, from two issues ago.

Diana's lasso is gone, and my heart breaks for the Amazon Princess. But more importantly, my heart breaks watching the heartbreak of her Amazonian Sisters. Donna's and Cassie's reaction, as sisters, as warriors, as those Next In Line to take up the mantle of the Amazon Princess is a scene that We Gentle Readers would not have seen from Mr. Heinberg, or Ms. Picoult, or even Mr. Rucka. They all focused on different aspects of Wonder Woman, and we would have seen, perhaps, The Wonder, The Humanity, or The Alienness, respectively, from these three writers. But with Ms. Gail Simone, instead, we see bonding, and sisterhood, and steel resolve. We see an Amazonian bond that cannot be broken.

I long to become caught up in comics.

In television popular culture news, I adore, yes, adore, Mr. Whedon's new show, Dollhouse. While the first episode was Rather Shaky, I find that the Whedonesque moments here and there--the head shake at the very end of last week's episode, the Most Dangerous Game-ness of the week before--all offer We Whedon Fans an interesting departure from Buffy, and Firefly, at the same time it offers us the things we love about Mr. Whedon.

More soon, Gentle Reader, but for now, a homemade sugar-free apple cobbler and Flight of the Conchords await this Very Tired, Very Overworked (yet still Humble!) Author, and then, if one can imagine, 10 more papers to grade before bed. Until next time, I bid you adieu.