I didn’t intend to write this post about yet another queer comic. I didn’t even intentionally buy one, not that I’m complaining—the guy at the comics shop just described Heathen to me as a re-imagining of Norse mythology similar to ODY-C. Since ODY-C is a trippy and beautiful comic re-imagining the entire Odyssey with a cast of only women, you can see why I might be interested. Of course, given its almost entirely female cast, ODY-C is also preeeetty gay, so the comparison probably should have tipped me off.
Heathen starts with a bit of lore-building: the Valkyrie Brynhild, formerly leader of Odin’s immortal warrior women, was cursed by the Allfather after refusing to follow his orders. She must live her endless days in exile and must marry a mortal. Brynhild, however, was able to parley that she would at least be able to choose said mortal. (This exchange entirely lacks gendered language, heyo foreshadowing.) Odin agreed, and sent her off to await her erstwhile suitors.
I have been pretty impressed with comic book movies lately. Yeah, it’s still not ideal, but both Marvel and DC Comics have far more women and people of color in their upcoming movies than they had before. At least now in Marvel we have Natasha, Pepper, Wanda, and Sam Wilson and James Rhodes, and we’re about to get Black Panther and Captain Marvel, but we don’t have one single queer character. And in DC Comics we are finally getting Wonder Woman, Aquaman (played by Jason Momoa), and Black Atom (played by Dwayne Johnson), but again, still no queer characters.It’s pretty nice to see even some progress being made—well, in some areas at least. When it comes to queer representation, both DC and Marvel Comics are severely lacking even to the point of straightwashing queer characters. Despite gay marriage being legalized in the United States, continuing to be legal in at least nineteen other countries, including countries like France, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil, and gay rights gaining ever increasing support, it seems The Powers That Be are still hesitant about including gay characters in their comic book movies.
I love female superheroes, I love female heroes with tragic backstories and redemption arcs. Basically, I love female heroes. They’re great because they don’t conform to traditional female character roles of being quiet damsels in distress, and they show women as complex characters with stories and goals. However, while they break the mold of traditional female character narratives, these characters still overwhelmingly conform to heteronormative societal standards of beauty, gender presentation and sexuality.
So, while we should celebrate all awesome female characters, we should also be mindful of the heteronormative ideas that these characters reinforce and what type of character could challenge them even further. To put it bluntly, I want to see butch queer (super)heroines, but they‘re near impossible to find.
It’s Wednesday and this week’s awesome thing from the internet is Carmilla the webseries. A modern adaptation of one of the first examples of vampire fiction written by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, the webseries started its second season a few weeks ago. If you haven’t been watching it, it only takes you a couple of hours to catch up and join in the awesomeness, which I wholeheartedly recommend you do. Reasons why, and spoilers for Season 1 of the webseries, are below.
Another week, another review of another comic book from yours truly. I imagine you enjoy them, though, seeing as no one ever comments to say “Ugh, Saika, write about something else!”
I finally picked up all my comics on Sunday after three or four weeks of not making it to my shop, and boy does my wallet ache. Among my spoils was Kaptara #1, the debut issue of an original sci-fi story from Image Comics. Although I saw almost no hype for the book until, like, the day of its release a few weeks ago, it seemed like everyone on my Tumblr dash who had read it was giving it a glowing recommendation. Needless to say, I was happy to see that my shop still had a few left when I finally dragged myself there.
Representation matters, and everyone wants to be a hero. Unfortunately, what we LGBTQ+ folks get more often are queer villains, queer-coded villains, or anti-heroes. At least, they’re the most famous ones: pretty much every Disney villain ever, Loki, Constantine. The predominance of these types of characters and the lack of LGBTQ+ “good guy” superheroes creates the image of queerness as being tied to wickedness, threat to society, and general “otherness”. This influences both the way the general society sees LGBTQ+ people and how LGBTQ+ folks see ourselves, especially young people struggling with their identities. It creates a certain narrative for us, implying that we can only fit a certain type of mold and that it always sets us apart and makes us a threat. And that sucks.
I love a rugged jerk with a heart of gold as much as anyone, but Constantine’s morals and ethics leave something to be desired.
However, I’m not saying all queer characters need to be “good guys”. It’s just that a balance is needed to avoid forcing the idea that queer equals bad. Therefore it’s important to have more LGBTQ+ heroes and “good guys” who are people others follow and look up to (I’m not saying bisexual Steve Rogers, but I’m totally thinking bisexual Steve Rogers). We need to see that we can be great heroes and that we can have all kinds of different stories be about us.
I’m always looking for new YA books to read, but recently, everything I’ve found seems to about old plots spun in, well, uninteresting ways. That is, until a friend told me about Otherbound, the recently released, rollicking debut novel by Corinne Duyvis. The most interesting thing about Otherbound? The mysterious connection between Nolan and Amara.
Ever since he was very young, Nolan Santiago has been told he has a rare form of epilepsy—one that comes with both visual and auditory hallucinations. But he knows that’s not really the case. Each and every time he closes his eyes, whether it’s just blinking during the day or while sleeping, he sees through the eyes of a girl, Amara, who lives in a different world entirely. He can experience everything she experiences. At first, that seems like it could be fun: Amara is a mage who can heal all damage done to her own body, which is why she was chosen as a servant to guard and protect the outcast princess Cilla. However, Cilla has been cursed by rogue forces who don’t want her to return to her throne—if she spills even one drop of blood, the earth itself will reach out and kill her. Here’s where it sucks for Nolan: every time Cilla gets injured and Amara draws Cilla’s curse toward herself, every time the earth crushes Amara’s bones and forces the breath from her lungs, Nolan feels it. Amara isn’t aware of him, but Nolan feels the pain as if it’s happening to himself. And he can’t do a thing about it—until one day, he can.