Put On Your White Hat and Find Justice

As I tried to figure out where to start with this week long exploration of women, feminism, girl power and pop culture, I knew the easiest place to go would be comics, because the past few weeks have seen an explosion of women, and in particular young women shouting, “Finally!” And with my obsession with Kamala and Carol, I knew I would have plenty to talk about, but I’ve decided to start somewhere else.

I want to talk about TV.

A few months ago, Alan and I were talking about women in movies and how there just aren’t movies that are pushed and headlined by women and how that kind of sucks. I shrugged and said, “yeah, but I mean, the women on TV right?”

It’s an amazing time for women on TV, but for reasons I will never understand no one really talks about it, and they should.

Everyone talks about the moral decay of Walter White, but no one discusses Emily Thorne committing murder regularly in the name of justice for her dead father.

Don Draper is a tortured anti hero, unable to remain faithful to the women he loves because of hookers, I think? But what about Olivia Pope, who is so obsessed with being “the good guy” because of her toxic and unending affair with a married man is written off as soap opera.

Sherlock Holmes is complicated and groundbreaking and “fascinating” in his distance from the world, but Lady Mary Crawley is defined by the fact that her husband was killed in a car accident, not by the fact that she and the women around her are in transition, forging ahead into a new era fearlessly while holding onto what’s important to them in the past.

Comedy doesn’t suffer as much because everyone is talking about Hannah Horvath, Selina Meyer and Leslie Knope, because why wouldn’t you? Those shows and their success and the strength of those characters is completely undeniable. (Except maybe Hannah…)

Mainly, though, I want to talk about Olivia and Emily. These women do horrible, terrible things and you root for them. Traditionally in story telling, that is the purview of men. Women have to remain likable, kind and giving if they are to be the protagonist of a story. There are exceptions, of course, but I can’t really think of any other anti-heroines on TV. Except maybe Blair Waldorf, but Blair was a victim as often as she was active. Olivia Pope and Emily Thorne are a lot of things, but they are never victims.

Let’s start with Olivia.

Olivia Pope

There are few moments that have hooked me more quickly than that moment in the pilot of Scandal where Olivia and Fitz push into the corner of The Oval Office that can’t be seen by cameras and he kisses her and tells her that he still loves her. It’s a hugely influential moment that set the tone for the entire show. Yes, Scandal’s escalation of those “OMG” moments has gotten to the point of ridiculousness. (Although who didn’t love the ending of Fitz crying on the floor of The Oval Office in a hell of his own making? So satisfying) As the show grew out it wasn’t just Olivia, Abby is probably the only character who isn’t morally compromised at this point. I mean, she does manipulate David a lot. But Quinn’s trek to the dark side, while tedious, was pretty new ground. And then there’s Mellie.

I love Mellie Grant. I love her so much. And you didn’t at first. At first Mellie was the worst, she was Fitz’s clueless bitch wife, who stood between our beloved Olivia and the love of her life. And I don’t know how it happen, but all of a sudden she was everyone’s favorite character, including mine. Was it when she insisted on having the baby, and was so heartbroken that it still didn’t fix her marriage? Was it when we found out that she was involved in defiance? I know, I personally, was already on her side when we found out that Big Ger raped her. When she finally got some and slept with Andrew? God that was awesome.

But whether you’re squarely Team Mellie, or still hoping for an Olitz happy ever after in Vermont (I kind of don’t care at this point, but Crystan assures me that it’s something she would like to see, so I guess there are people out there who would like it.) it’s not really about Fitz, or Jake, or Andrew at any point. You’re talking about Olivia and Mellie. And maybe David and Huck. And maybe Jake.

I really love Jake.

But it’s nothing compared to Revenge. I love Revenge so much, and it wasn’t until I started thinking about this post that I realized how little the men matter to Revenge. Revenge is about a war between two women. It’s about Emily and Victoria and yes, a lot of people go down in the wake of these two trying to get at each other, but it’s still about them.

Revenge is notable also because of it’s second lead. (Emily and Victoria share top billing as far as I’m concerned.) Nolan Ross. Nolan and Emily have a purely platonic relationship, rare between a man and a woman on television, and also he’s openly bisexual. We’ve seen him have passionate relationships with both men and women.

But mostly it’s notable because of the horrific things that Emily does while still remaining the hero. Emily is always going to be the good guy, no matter how many people she kills and how many lives she ruins.

That’s new territory for a pretty little blonde woman in a ball gown.

So Pretty!

So Pretty!

And it’s pretty cool.

Girl Meets Nostalgia: Never Change For A Girl

Hey guys! Welcome to Girl Power Week! Which will be kicking off more lightly themed with this week’s girl meets nostalgia.

Now we all know that “Be Yourself” is always going to be a major theme in just about any children or teen or tween aimed piece of media. It’s kind of one of the only totally healthy messages you can send people. Who you are is great, so be that person.

Boy Meets World dealt with this almost constantly, and this week’s Girl Meets World did it in a really nice way, but I’m going to focus mostly on how it did it with Riley’s little brother Augie.

First of all, this kid is completely adorable. I love him, and his floppy hair and his goofy antics. It’s great. He has a lot of things in common with his Uncle Eric and the sassy mouth of his Aunt Morgan and when the Mathews family all get together again, I’m sure it will be brought up.

But this week, five year old Augie decided he needed to grow up in order to impress seven year old Eva, a neighbor who he’s taken a liking too. A heart broken and curious Topanga (finally getting a story line all her own! Girl Power!) decides to figure out how to deal with this. As it is quickly discovered that Eva is a little tyrant, Augie stands up for himself and with his Mom in his corner, he’s unstoppable.

On a similar track, Riley, Farkle, Maya and Lucas faced a dangerous threat to their group dynamic, another girl, Missy, who likes Lucas. Missy’s definitely going to be a longstanding rival for Riley, and is totally that girl you hated in middle school. She’s smart well assured and I’m not even sure she actually likes Lucas that much, she seems to just want to get under Riley and Maya’s respective skin. Riley, on her own, not with prompting from her friends, goes to Lucas and tells him that while she’s not ready to be more than friends with him (own it girl! Loving the Topanga-esque self assurance there!) she worries that him spending time with Missy will alter their friend group too much, and she doesn’t want to lose him.

In response, Lucas tells Missy that his friends kind of come with the deal and she bails. I like the idea that one of the building blocks of Girl Meets World is turning out to be the building of a Core 4. Teen shows with a Core 4 tend to be better than ones without them. (See Dawson’s Creek, The OC, Gossip Girl) 

Now, it’s time to talk nostalgia!

There’s a reason why I lead with Augie’s storyline over Riley’s and pointed out the kid’s similarity to Eric…

Does anyone remember Desiree?

Let me refresh your memory. Desiree was a new student who transferred to John Adams from Georgia and who Eric dated for about two episodes. She was a nightmare, she was demanding, controlling and forced a wedge between Eric and his best friend Jason. (Who like so many characters from seasons 2-4, which are arguably the strongest, conveniently disappeared when Jack showed up. I blame Jack for the loss of Mr. Turner too, although I would have loved to see the two of them interact and talk about what a dumbass Shawn was…) Everyone worried about Eric, but specifically Amy tried to talk her son into breaking it off with Desiree. When Eric finally split up with her, she gifted him with a seriously hot breakup kiss.

This is deeply similar to Augie’s storyline here, even if it was more malls and cars than playgrounds and stuffed animals. But Augie learned, just as his Uncle Eric had in the past, that you shouldn’t change yourself for a girl, and that your mom is probably right about her.

Especially if your mom is Amy Matthews or Topanga.

So that’s how we’re kicking of Girl Power Week. I know it was a light start, but we’ll be getting heavy into it after this.

Marvel Comics Wrap Up 7/16/2014

Like I said, it was a small week for comics this week, particularly, it was quiet on the Marvel front. So, here we are. I’m actually quite low on lap top battery and my charger pooped out, so I want to get this done as quickly as possible. So, here’s this week’s Marvel Books!

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She-Hulk #6: “Blue Part 2″

After finding out that Tigra kind of tore Patsy apart after learning about The Blue File, Jen decides to talk to a few other people involved in the case and her office winds up getting leveled by a bunch of crazy flying demon things. Also, Jen has no memory of the investigation and she decides to put the blue file away. I have a feeling it will come back at some point. Anyway, Kevin Trench has started recommending Jen as a lawyer to several superheroes in need of defense. Obviously, she’s the lady for this job. So, it looks like her law practice is going to work out perfectly!

Original Sin #6: “Open Your Eye”

Dr. Midas and his daughter have possessed The Thing and Exterminatrix. They apparently are the ones who killed the watcher, but no one knows why. All the Nick Fury LMDs are keeping that main team in place for Fury. He tells them that he The Watcher told him that he was dying, and then he decided he needs to name a successor for his secret kill everything that threatens earth job. Since everyone else is disgusted by it, except Gamora, who is just super bored. Then he attacks everyone with both eyes. I have completely lost track of this story. I have no idea what’s going on anymore, but BY GOD I’ll finish it!

Nova #19: “Chapter XIX: Original Sin Part II”

Poor Sam. He can’t catch a break. His mom sold their house and now they’ve moved to a small apartment. He goes into space to clear his head and talk to Rocket Racoon about his father, and the vision he saw when The Eye exploded, of his father killing that other Nova. He and Rocket track down Adomox, who was a Black Nova with Jesse. Sam was under the impression that The Black Novas were like Green Berets, or Navy SEALS, the best of the best. Turns out that they were more like a motorcycle gang, using the Nova Force to get what they wanted out of the universe. This shakes Sam, but I doubt it’s going to change that he’s a hero and will remain so. Also, I still think that Jesse is alive.

Magneto #7

It’s probably not a great idea to corner Magneto, even with his powers weakened. It turns out that the mutants that are being kidnapped in Hong Kong are being used in battles to the death with a Predator X, only after they’ve been experimented on to try to isolate the mutant gene and give powers to regular people. Obviously, Eric finds this apalling and feeds the ring leader to the predator X, because come on, this is MAGNETO! Anyway, I love the glorious violence and pseudo philosophy of this series, which is why I continue to read it.

So that was Marvel! Next week is Girl Power Week! We’re going to have some fun.

DC Comics Wrap Up: 7/16/2015

It was a nice quiet week filled with lots of me crying, and just being greatly satisfied with the new directions that several of the DC books. But it was nice to have a light week for a change. I think I’ve streamlined my pull list, and I’m happy with the results.

And by “streamlined my pull list” I mean, “I’m pretty much only reading Batman books most weeks and I’m OK with that.”

So it’s time to dive in! Hooray!

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Red Hood And The Outlaws #33: “Good Will Hurting”

Guys, Good Will Hunting is my fake favorite movie that I tell people on first dates is my favorite movie! Just a weird sort of goodwill I went into this issue with. As you may recall, last issue, Kirk Langstrom called the Outlaws because an alien ship landed with a message for Kori. She saw the ship and flipped out. So we get a fun little back story about Kori running around the galaxy getting her Dany on. In that she was going from planet to planet and freeing slaves…actually, Starfire and Khalessi have a lot in common. (Maybe to be explored in Girl Power week?) Anyway, after that fun little diversion, and it was fun, (Also, back in the day she wore clothes. Maybe clothes again, hon?) Jason and Roy decide to board the ship and there are all these dead slave skeletons on it. The guys fully comprehend why Kori freaked and when Langstrom suggests that possibly she had something to do with this, Roy loses it. He shoves Langstrom into a wall, which is probably not a stellar plan, because, Man Bat. Anyway, Langstrom transforms, and Roy and Jason get the second most accurate “young people” dialogue of the week. (Kamala wins, she always wins.) “Did not see that coming,” “Right?” Kori, meanwhile is off to Abu Dhabi, which it turns out is infested with rich, corrupt, slave trading aliens. So, DC, when are we renaming the book, Starfire and Sometimes Red Hood and Arsenal Kill Things? Because that’s pretty much what it’s been for a year now…

Infinite Crisis #1: “Prelude”

Yeah, this is the prelude comic to the Infinite Crisis video game, which I picked up to report on it to my cousin Tommy, because I’m sure he’ll love this game. (He loves all the DC games…) but I’ve already read Final Crisis multiple times and I know the bones of Crisis on Infinite Earths, so I pretty much know how this one goes. The last of Monitors sees a problem in the remaining 52 universes, tries to warn people. Turns out Harbinger is hopping universes trying to stop it. Look, this does seem like a killer plot for a video game, but it doesn’t make for a terribly compelling comic, even if seeing the Catwoman of The Gaslight Earth and Batman of Earth Prime interact is really, really cool. Like, really cool. It was worth picking up the first issue because The Monitors are one of my favorite flights of Grant Morrison Fancy that I’ve never seen anywhere other than Final Crisis…

Supergirl #33: “Red Daughter of Krypton: Conclusion”

As Kara fights the world killer, who is so creepy by the way, she realizes that what’s good is that because of Red Lantern power she can survive in the kryptonite infected atmosphere of earth. She eventually defeats the World Killer by flying into the sun because that’s always the best way to win a fight when you’re a Kryptonian. This cost her her red lantern ring, but emerges as Supergirl again. Meanwhile, in LA, Superboy and some other people who I don’t know killed a bunch of clones. We all know how well Kara and Superboy get a long, so this could lead someplace fun.

Teen Titans #1: “Blinded By The Light”

Can we all just marvel over how stinking cute it is that when Tim calls Cassie a picture of him looking like an uber dork. And also that he just sits on top of The Freedom Tower with a laptop sending out commands to the other Titans. Seriously, it’s the best. Anyway, a bunch of shadowy ninja types have kidnapped a schoolbus full of kids, and The Teen Titans won’t stand for that sort of nonsense, so they beat them, a lot. I like the look of the new team. (I mean, not their actual look, because Wonder Girl and Raven look completely ridiculous) but just as a line up it’s good. And that Bunker fights homophobia with sheer throwing pink bricks at people is going to be hilarious. Also Beast Boy, but meh….

Future’s End #11

The Justice League wants Firestorm to get back together. It isn’t going to happen because Ron is a huge douche, but it was good to see Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Aquaman, who seem to be thriving as heroes in this new post-war status quo. Good for them. Anyway, Ron admits that it was probably his fault that Green Arrow dies and in the second book this week, ROY LOST HIS SHIT! It was a good week for Roy Harper temper tantrums, is all I’m saying. Mr. Terrific has decided to go on TV and call Terry a menace, which, since everyone always compares him to Peter Parker anyway, makes perfect sense. Meanwhile, in space, the crew that was in space talks about magic for a while, and then they crash land. Oh, and Grifter’s friend went into hiding. No Terry, no Tim. But I liked it anyway.

Robin Rises Omega: “Red Dawn”

This week was pretty much all about me getting to Robin Rises. I’m so impatient to see Damian again, I talk about it almost as much as I talk about Kamala. Maybe more, because I somehow manage to drive any mention of Batman towards it. This one shot, setting up how we’re getting him back was completely worth it. We got a quick five page recap of Damian’s story from Bruce’s perspective, which of course made me cry, and then we jumped into a gang from Apokolips trying to steal Damian and Talia’s bodies, which of course Bruce and R’as were not going to stand for. They had different plans for the bodies, but Bruce and Ra’s have always been two people on opposite sides of the thinnest of lines. That’s what makes them so fascinating as adversaries. And Bruce and Talia’s love so creepy. (Soooo many daddy issues…) Anyway, they fight the army of Apokalips, and R’as gets Talia’s body but the invaders get Damian’s because the Justice League shows up and Lex Luthor and Aquaman screw up. Then Wonder Woman apologizes and Luthor is a jerk about it and BATMAN PUNCHES HIM IN THE FACE! It’s pretty great. Anyway, he’s decided that he’s going to Apokolips, he’s getting Damian back ALIVE. SQUEEE! I miss my little twerp. I miss him so much. I can’t wait to get him back.

So that’s where we are this week! We’ll see you tomorrow for Marvel!

10 Years of “Beauty In The Breakdown”

I read a lot of articles about Garden State this week, which is fitting because it’s the 10th Anniversary of Garden State’s release and also the release of Wish I Was Here, Zach Braff’s new movie.

Garden State

I haven’t watched Garden State in a while, and I haven’t listened to it’s soundtrack in slightly less time than that, but I just think it’s worth commenting on that it’s been 10 years since that movie came out and that it’s become this sort of weird butt of the joke, at least according to all these internet writers I’ve been reading.

Which is strange to me, because I really loved Garden State.

Like, loved it, loved it.

You have to understand how omnipresent it was in my life that summer, the summer that I was 16. Everyone was going to see it, everyone was listening to the soundtrack. (Although the soundtrack of that summer, to me, will always be Give Up by The Postal Service, but there’s a thematic similarity there…) We were all blown away that Natalie Portman was actually, like, good in this, and not, you know, Padme. It was the guy from Scrubs but he was being sad, not silly. It was a summer of away messages that looked something like this:

*~*Let go, there’s beauty in the breakdown*~*

I’m not saying any of this is like, defensible, but it’s the same thing that attracts people to books like Perks of Being A Wallflower. When you’re 16, you desperately, desperately, want people to think that you’re deep, and you might be. But you also desperately, desperately want people to think that you’re interesting, and there’s a very good chance that you simply aren’t. So, the idea of standing on the edge of a gorge in the rain and screaming into the abyss will resonate with you, because that’s what your entire life feels like, sometimes, you know?

So you sit in a Fridays parking lot with your best friends and listen to The Shins and talk about that movie and how it just gets you, man. And your feelings, and you dance in the rain and think that you’re outsiders, when in fact, you are wealthy white kids from the Northern New Jersey suburbs who so musicals and have way too many feelings.

Way too many. I’m embarrassed by how many feelings I had back then.

But like I said, I haven’t watched the movie in a while. Certainly not since college, and definitely I don’t want to watch it now that I’m of an age with most of the main characters. No thank you. I have a feeling that the listless dissatisfaction of Andrew and Co. would hit a little too close to home these days and not in the hazy romantic way it did when I was 16, more in the “What the hell am I doing with my life? Am I this annoying? AHHHHH!” kind of way.

I try to avoid that feeling as much as possible, but of course I do watch Girls, so I put myself through that for about 10 weeks a year…do there’s that.

No I like to remember Garden State as the 16 year old girl who loved it so much.

I love to listen to a song and let it change my life.

“Theme music, I need Theme Music”: Ms. Marvel #6

There is just about nothing that makes me smile more these days than when I read my Ms. Marvel every month, and this month is no exception.

Eeeh!

Eeeh!

Everything about Kamala is just so stinking great, and her story is written and drawn so flawlessly, and it all just keeps getting better.

Kamala has been patrolling Jersey City, trying to stay one step ahead of The Inventor, who has been sending robots to hunt her. Of course this forces her to sneak out of the house every day, but such is the life when you’re a teenage superhero with mega strict immigrant parents, right? Anyway, as a condition of her continued grounding, Kamala has to sit down and have a chat with Sheik Abdullah, the leader of her mosque.

Everything about this scene made me obscenely happy.

I’m a Catholic, not a Muslim, but in general, I tend to get pretty pissed off about the way religion is treated in a lot of media. Devotion is often treated as a bad thing, unthinking, backward and the refuge of the dull and bigoted. And certainly religious leaders, even if their flocks are treated normally, are rarely treated like actual characters. They’re either straw men to be beaten, or impossible wise men, who know everything.

But Kamala’s talk with Sheik Abdullah isn’t like that at all. She goes in apprehensive, sure she’s about to get a lecture about “avoiding Satan and boys,” but instead, she’s given actual guidance. It’s clear that the Sheik has figured out what Kamala is doing with her night’s and tells her that not only is what she doing good and right, but she should strive to be the best she can at it.

He advises her to find a mentor.

I’m guessing that by the end of this arc, Kamala will have met Carol. But who knows?

I loved everything about this scene, because it reminded me of so many conversations that I had with priests, nuns and youth ministers throughout high school and college. My old youth minister Gail remains one of my best friends and it was so nice to have an adult besides my mom to go to with problems during my teenage years. Someone who would listen, give advice and remind me that I could trust in God.

It was nice to see this kind of person represented in Kamala’s life.

Anyway, Kamala goes out to find herself a mentor, but on her way home hears a weird noise coming out of a pothole and decides to investigate. She runs to the Circle Q, changes into her costume and jumps down into the sewer, where she comes face to face with The Inventor and a bunch of his mutant crocodiles.

The Inventor, as it turns out is a clone of Thomas Edison who is also part cockatoo, because sure, why not? This is Ms. Marvel, and I already love everything about this book and I like things that are bonkers, so fine, I’m with you. Also, it’s colorful and so deserving of our girl to that out there an arch nemesis, but she’s just not ready to take him on, even if she’s more than willing.

Luckily, she finds the mentor she needs because for some reason WOLVERINE is in the sewers of Jersey City. Kamala totally fangirls out on him, because “Such athletic! Very claws! So amaze!” She also declares that they are “totally twinsies” because of her healing factor, and then Logan tells her that he no longer has healing factor.

Granted, they’re going to keep fighting together, but I doubt Logan is the mentor that Kamala needs right now.

Because of course he isn’t, because obviously Carol Danvers is!

But when she says, “so like, now you’re just a short, angry man, who punches stuff?” it’s the best. Because I cannot stress this enough, KAMALA IS THE BEST! Also, she once wrote a fanfic about Wolverine and Storm in space. I want to read all of that.

Anyway, I was sitting on my couch vibrating with silent giggles. This book makes me so happy. So unreasonably, and joyously happy.

I’m going to talk a lot more about Kamala next week, for my Girl Power Week next week, but for now, just, so amaze,  you guys.

The Bigger They Are, The Higher Pitched They Scream: Translucid #4

Guys! This week my Translucid came 2 days early, so I was able to get it written up in time to post today, the day it hits shelves. (I haven’t been feeling super great this week, so this was a very nice pick me up, when I got home on Monday and saw that envelope from Boom!) As we speed towards our climax, we see how Cornelius’s light inventions progress.

Yay!

Yay!

He uses them to help another kid who’s being bullied. He’s also fighting off terrible visions of his father, and back in Navigator timeline, he’s going to an abandoned mental hospital to basically pray to his mother about how he’s lost his way.

That last one? Is a super Batman move. “I will become a bat, Father…” and all of that Year One nonsense. (I don’t actually think Year One is nonsense. Year One is basically perfect.) He also makes a light rose and leaves it behind for her. Now, we’ve known from the minute that this book was announced that it was going to have shades of The Bat, but this particular scene was so Claudio Does Gotham that I started thinking about that petition that he get to write an actual Batman story.

Although, I guess that would mean no more Snyder.

So, maybe not.

I’m just saying. He seems to get it.

Anyway, Cornelius accepts a gift of a plant from the family of the woman who Drake died saving. Drake’s sacrifice seems to be the thing that really pushes him to become the Navigator, but the issue ends with his Mom apparently poisoning him and herself in order to reunite their family in heaven.

Ah, yes, that’s the Claudio Sanchez I know and have grown to love and fear. This is the writer who kicked off his entire saga with a set of parents being manipulated into murdering their children. This is the guy who created the character of Al The Killer, and sold him as one of the good guys. Or at least on the side of the angels, or I guess, The Prise…

YOU ALL THINK YOU FIGURED ME OUT! DO AS I SAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whew, sorry about that. I got a little bit caught up. If I wasn’t sidelined by this stomach bug, I might have actually started moshing. Anyway, it’s a dark and interesting direction to go in, and as usual I was gripped. Maybe more so than usual.

Oh, also, the classmate that Cornelius saved had a Knight chess piece on his tee shirt. So that may or may not be telling.

This month, in lines that could be lyrics:

“I can’t believe it’s been so long, 30 years without you. Not a single one with any kind of resolve”

“It’s a shame to see you’ve fallen so far from grave without your pony boy.”

“If a hero’s only as good as his villains then what does that make me?”

“Memories don’t belong to us, you see. We share the past with the consequences of our decisions.”

So that was this month. I can’t believe that there are only two issues left! I’m really enjoying this story, and I’m going to miss it when it’s finished. See you tomorrow for Kamala!