It’s no surprise to anyone at this point that there’s misogyny in the Western comics fandom. This sexism is even committed by some of the people that work on said comics, which is unfortunate because then we end up with a bunch of people circle-jerking about how super cool male heroes are and how super sexy female heroines need to be. Though in recent times there have been some pretty major improvements—such as Wonder Woman as portrayed in Justice League: War and Starfire’s character becoming a bit less based around sexual objectification—the bar really should be set higher about how female characters and the female audience itself are treated. Of course, changing an industry so set in its ways is going to take possibly until the end of time. So to tide us over, allow me to show you this amazing site that proves that the female comics audience isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And with a tagline like “Little girls are better at designing superheroes than you”, how could your curiosity not be piqued?
Happy Chanukah (Hanukkah), everyone! Chanukah is the spelling preferred by Jewish traditionalists, but Hanukkah is also fine, because Hebrew is a bit difficult to transliterate into English. The tradition of celebrating Chanukah comes from an event about 2,100 years ago, when, after reclaiming the Temple in Jerusalem, the Jews only found enough holy oil to light the sacred lamp for one day. The oil miraculously lasted eight days, until more oil could be pressed and ritually purified. The festival is about the triumph of light, purity, and spirituality over darkness, compromise, and materialism. To learn more, here’s a rather good website with information about all things Jewish. This year, the eight-day Jewish festival began November 27 and ends on December 5, and in honor of it we’re taking a look at Jewish representation in pop culture.
Oh, Marvel. I’m only mean to you because I know you could be so much better.
Marvel’s comic book universe is at a peak of diversity right now. Characters of color, queer characters, characters with disabilities, and characters from other marginalized groups are gaining roles of prominence in the 616 Universe.
What makes that diversity supremely frustrating, however, is that barely a whit of it is reflected in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel’s movies remain a relic of the white-bread, sausagefest past of their comic books, and a lack of religious characters is just one strike of many.
A while ago, I wrote a review of Thor and Loki: Blood Brothers, which I thought was amazing. It had originally been called just Loki, which I think suited the story much better. However, the title was changed around the release of both the live-action movie and another four-issue arc called Thor: The Trials of Loki. In part, I think Blood Brothers had been renamed because of this comic, which could also be mistaken as being called just Loki, since “Loki” is written across its cover in big, bold green letters. However, I think a more apt title for it would be Thor: Creative Bankrupcy.
I have already covered Tony Stark’s descent into alcoholism. In truth, that article was very short-sighted on my part. I did not take into account that Stark’s transformation into Iron Man involved more than just the one disability, and that alcoholism is just part of the larger structure of Iron Man’s profile.
As released in the middle of last month, ladies and gents, here is the trailer for The Wolverine. I’ll admit that I’m pretty psyched. I’ve long waited for a film which takes on Logan’s relationship to Japan, and the time that he spent there. When the film was announced, I was hoping for a film that would recount his time in Japan before World War II, with his wife, Itsu, and their son, Daken. Perhaps we’ve seen too much in the way of Wolverine fighting those who have the same powers that he does (re: Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike), and I’ll accept that movies are going to be different than Earth-616.
World War II has James Howlett in Japan, performing his typical acts of self-sacrifice and heroism, saving the life of the man who would become Yashida, the yakuza boss and corporate magnate. It does seem, however, that the relationship established there has come to haunt his future, as Yashida seems keen to have Wolverine’s immortality for his own. He is, as the official synopsis has it:
Out of his depth in an unknown world…vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits.
It’s the intrigue around that fact that makes this trailer so exciting for me. What does Wolverine do when his defining ability, the source of some of his greatest triumphs and his most harrowing agonies, could be taken from him? How does he fight Yakuza enforcers and the deadliest assassins in Japan minus the ability to recover instantly from his wounds?
I think it will actually make for a more compelling story, overall. Wolverine is a man who usually only knows emotional and mental desperation. His healing factor means that he’s stronger, moves faster, can fight longer, and fatigues more slowly, and without it he’s going to come up against enemies who can challenge him physically, both superhuman and not. If the true measure of man is “how he stands at times of controversy and challenges”, or “how much of himself he can give,” then surely we will see a more intimate picture of Wolverine when he faces not only defeat, but death with his failures.
There are a few other things that this trailer has me excited about. I’m interested in how the film will take on Viper (whose character you might know as Madame Hydra). She’s portrayed here by Svetlana Khodchenkova (of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), who seems to have all the manipulative Eastern European femme fatale vibes necessary for the role. Director James Mangold has it that she “views Logan like a great hunter might view hunting a lion in his quarry. There’s kind of an admiration, a desire to destroy and a desire to consume and to have and to hold.”
That actually brings me to both of my other points. Between Viper, Mariko Yoshida (in the red wig), and all of the ninjas we see in this trailer, there’s going to be some pretty decent costuming. Now, that could go one of two ways. It could just make the whole thing seem cartoonish and overdone. But given the sources it seems to drawn on, inevitably including Tokyo street fashion and our popular conception of ninjas and samurai, I’m inclined to believe that those over-the-top elements fresh out of anime and comic books could be the right choice, with sufficient individuation to give us a sense of character through costume. That’s what I’m hoping for at least.
I’m also hoping for some strong fight choreography, something I often see as lacking in superhero movies, with The Avengers being a notable exception. I’ve certainly been disappointed by all of the X-Men titles in this regard. So the prospect that I’m going to get my wish with this film leaves me watering at the mouth, frankly. It seems unavoidable. With a cast of master assassins and martial artists, including Yukio and Kenuichio Harada, whom you may know as the Silver Samurai, artfully directed martial arts choreography seems implicit. I, for one, will be sorely upset if this is not the case.
The Wolverine comes out in the US on July 26.
Ink: So, maybe you’ve heard. There’s a new X-men comic in town. X-Men #1 (2013) is the first issue of a relaunch which focuses on an all-female team of top-tier X-Men. Marvel’s been teasing a new release since 2012, and since January of this year, it’s been public that it will be an all-female team. Naturally, we over here at LGG were ludicrously excited. The comic has been out for about three weeks now, so we’ve all had time to marinate in it—if you haven’t you can buy it here—and now Lady Saika and I want to share our feels with you.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is my strong suit: pulling comic characters you might not know about from the ether and telling you why they’re awesome. I get to be nerdy and people will read it and even find it interesting. In short, I want to tell you about more of the awesome women of Marvel Comics. We’ve talked about how important it is to pull back the veil on the representation of women in Marvel, and why it’s important to not leave people out of the coolest categories. So, while I’m on the subject on Marvel and the representation of women, I’d like to indulge the basest of my weeaboo instincts. Let’s talk about some Japanese girls.
Marvel’s 2010 crossover storyline Fall of the Hulks, which occurs sort of concurrently with the events of the Siege storyline, details among other things the plot of a cabal of evil, brainy superheroes to kidnap the world’s eight smartest people. The Intelligencia [sic], as they call themselves, arouse the ire of various Hulks in the process, leading to all sorts of hijinks and craziness, as well as the World War Hulk story and its two issue miniseries, Hulked Out Heroes.
Try not to imagine the kind of mindboggling destruction that an entity equal parts Hulk and Deadpool would wreak. Instead, let’s go back and talk about the fact that Marvel has offered up a list of its terrestrial supergeniuses. This is great! I really want to know who the smartest people on Earth-616 are, don’t you? Let’s take a look at who was worth capturing (in no particular order):
In psychology, the study of differences between siblings can sometimes lead to amazing revelations into how disorders affect different people, well, differently. I remember several doctors studying how my Asperger’s affected my younger brother’s mood, and it turned out that, because I got a lot of attention, he felt left out.