You’d think that a comic based on an actual god figure from real-world mythology would be rife with potential for this column, but most of the time The Mighty Thor, which stars the new Jane Foster iteration of the character, doesn’t actually deal with much that could be considered theological in nature. However, the last three or so months’ worth of issues (#15-17, to be specific) have featured a very interesting conflict that gets at a meaty question. What does it mean to be a god? More specifically, does ultimate cosmic power come with a responsibility to one’s worshippers? How ought gods prove their power to their followers? This conflict is addressed through a competition that is both fascinating and horrifying.
One of the hottest comics when I got into the medium was Locke & Key, written by horror author Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. At the time (about four years ago now), it was far enough along in its run that it would have been silly verging on impossible to attempt to find single issues, so when I came into a gift card, I bought the first trade. From the slew of awards it had won or at least been nominated for, and the strong recommendations from both friends and comics personalities whose opinions I trusted, I started to read it expecting to have my socks knocked clean off… and never finished it. This week, it caught my eye from between my Sandmans and my DC Bombshells on the shelf, and I figured, welp, might as well try again.
Time and distance, apparently, do not make the heart grow fonder. Maybe I have bad taste in comics, but I have no idea how this won an Eisner or anything else. Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft did absolutely nothing for me.
The other week, I went to Steel City Con, the Pittsburgh Area’s valiant attempt at a comic con. Lots of vendors, bunch of B- and C-list TV celebs, usually two or three A-listers (last year I got autographs from Shannen Doherty AND Holly Marie Combs!!!), and of course: tons of passionate, weird, lovable pop culture junkies, God love ’em. As I went through through my loot, I realized I had had a gay ol’ time. My two biggest gems? Action figures of Willow and Tara, and All New X-Men #17: aka newly-out Iceman’s first, big (I’m talking full-page panel) gay kiss. This is exceptional, you guys: Iceman has been part of the X-Verse since its very beginnings in 1963, one of the original five X-Men. So how did we get to this place 54 years later? It’s the long line of the quirkiest comic team family expanding its inherent diversity. Let’s take a look.
From my personal collection. After searching all the comic vendors at Steel City Con, my efforts were rewarded. Makes my gay, mutant-loving heart so happy!
With the recent news that Joss Whedon is in the works to do a (potentially amazing, if arguably problematic) Batgirl movie, I’ve been thinking about Barbara Gordon a lot. I mean, more than usual. BG’s always been a personal favorite and perhaps the first example I remember from my childhood of not only a real “strong female character” but a superhero I actually connected with. Babs has been a hero to many and while she has been used in incredibly problematic ways over the years, she remains one of the most prominent female superheroes to the average geek.
This shade of purple was forever associated with Batgirl in my brain. (image via Batman Wiki)
As different artists have taken a crack at Batgirl over the years, she has gone through a few phases, as have most of the other major players in the Batman canon. Many of those different versions of BG have been used in exploitative ways. Despite this, many have made her a feminist icon and often a source of inspiration to fans of all genders. In looking back at some of these incarnations, I also hope to highlight a few things that will be crucial to the Batgirl film not ending up horrible.
TW: Discussion of themes related to sexual violence and ableism.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I am a firm believer in the idea that there need to be more happy stories about queer people. Thankfully, certain creators seemed to agree, and back in 2015, I was able to buy Dates Volume 1, an anthology of queer historical fiction. While it was created through Kickstarter, I didn’t back it at the time… because I didn’t know it existed until my at-the-time comics shop held a release day party. However, I’ve got a second chance to help out this awesome team, and that’s why my web crush this week is Dates Volume 2, and their currently active Kickstarter.
Every queer person knows how hard it is to find ourselves in fiction, and how much harder it is to find fiction where our stories don’t end tragically. And of course, it’s particularly difficult to find happy queer characters in historical fiction. We wanted to work towards evening the score, and the result was Dates 1: a 176 page celebration of queer identities of all kinds, across the world and throughout history. We were thrilled by the reception to Dates 1, and we knew people still had more stories to tell, so we decided to do it all again. And just like last year, there are no tragic endings. [emphasis theirs]
I’ve been a Marvel fan over DC since I started reading comics—the first single issues I ever bought were the starts of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel run and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye. Marvel continues to put out some amazing, progressive, and inclusive stories from its B-list characters, but at the same time it’s also putting out some of the most tone-deaf unpleasantness I’ve ever seen from a major media company in its flagship titles. What’s most frustrating in this whole complex fiasco is that, in making these terrible writing choices, Marvel is not just being problematic and offensive, but is actually dramatically undermining the entire history of the characters they’re messing with.
I haven’t heard any complaints, so I’m going to keep on keeping on reviewing the various queer comics that have come into my life. Honestly, it’s pretty damn awesome that there are enough of them that I haven’t run out yet. This week’s subject is a new series from Dark Horse called The Once and Future Queen, which, as the title’s riff on T. H. White implies, is a “Return of King Arthur” story with a female Arthur.
I definitely judged this book by its cover—I picked it up entirely based on the intriguing title and cover art alone—but in the end I’m not sure how I feel about it.