I don't mind saying it brought a tear to my eye. The story of the lonely kid who grew up to be Stan Lee. Pretty awesome.
The best bit about this book,I don't mind saying it brought a tear to my eye. The story of the lonely kid who grew up to be Stan Lee. Pretty awesome.
The best bit about this book, I feel like they really captured Lee's voice. Reading it FEELS like Stan Lee talking. Full of great anecdotes. The end get a little list-y, lots of stuff happening without much context, but such is life.
There is a weird thing that's addressed here. The relationship between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
For those who don't know, Jack Kirby was the artist behind a lot of Marvel's greatest creations. Fantastic Four, Thor. And for those who aren't familiar with why lots of people think Kirby deserves more credit, it's because of the Marvel Style, coined and created by Stan Lee.
Marvel Style goes like this: If I'm writing and you're the artist, I give you the general idea of the plot, the characters, and the story. You then illustrate the entire thing, with action and word balloons, and then I come back and fill in the dialog. So the thing is, when we call Jack Kirby the artist, Marvel Style meant he shaped the story a lot more than someone who was drawing to a very specific script with greater detail in the outlines and actions.
And lots of people look at Stan Lee as someone who took more credit than he deserved. Who is really responsible for these stories? How much does the look trump the idea? How much does the shape of the story consist of the story's creation?
It's an interesting question. For example, we accept that James Patterson plots stuff and has other writers do the actual writing. So who wrote those books? We credit writers on improv TV shows, and yet the actors have a lot to do with the creation of those characters.
I don't think it's very useful to say who did exactly what and what percentage of a character is his costume versus the story outline plus dialog. Because there's no definition for this stuff, and we could go back and forth all day.
Instead, I'll invoke a more modern pair, Jobs and Wozniak. J and W are almost the archetype for something we see in a lot of modern, self-starting companies and industries. You've got your quieter programmers, and you've got a boisterous salesman. The salesman slowly becomes the face of the company. And then there's a backlash about how much creation the salesman did versus the Woz.
But part of me feels like the backlash is our own fault. We create the Jobs. We are the ones who read the interviews. We are the ones who want a company to have a face, and excuse me for saying it, I don't think we're ready for a company to have a face that's a nerd. Or unattractive. Or might have a flat personality. And we also have a lot of people who get into something like drawing or writing comics because they like drawing or writing comics, and they aren't particularly interested in running a company.
Jack Kirby wasn't Stan Lee's employee. Stan did try to offer Kirby a job a couple of times, and Kirby turned it down in favor of remaining freelance.
My base opinion on this, I don't feel like there would be a Marvel comics without Stan Lee AND Jack Kirby. And probably Steve Ditko too.
But my larger opinion has to do with a story:
I went to my first comic convention in 2002. It was a weird experience, I'll tell you that. And one of the people they brought out was (if I'm remembering correctly) Martin Nodell, artist who did the original concept art for Green Lantern. The dude would have been in his late 80's, and he didn't seem all that spry.
He was selling sketches for something like $40. And they made an announcement during the day to try and drum up business.
I regret that I didn't buy one. I was 18 and I didn't have a whole lot of money, but still. You know that a guy in his late 80's isn't selling sketches at a con because he's set, financially.
And this is the larger opinion: Comic companies royally fucked the original creators, without exception. I think Stan Lee has done quite well for himself, but he has less than $100 million in the bank. I'm not totally ready to weep for a millionaire, but here's the context: Robert Downey Jr. made $80 million for playing Iron Man in one movie. So there you go. There are people today involved with these characters and stories that have made a shitload of money and have absolutely nothing to do with their creation or, really, their current stories.
And that's what bothers me a lot more. That doesn't feel right. I feel, just a little, like fans are whipped up into this idea of who should be getting a bigger piece of the celebrity pie, meanwhile neither Stan nor Jack have gotten what they deserve. It doesn't have to be about these two men sharing this tiny slice of the pie. It should be about "Holy shit, this is THE biggest pie in the world, and we can do justice to its creators by giving them a nice share without really changing our bottom line."
I will also say this.
Kirby's family did bring forth a lawsuit to try and halt Marvel projects, the big Marvel movies, asserting that Kirby was the copyright holder. The case was set to go to the Supreme Court when Marvel settled out of court, just last year, in fact.
I feel the tragedy here is that Marvel handed over a bag of money, and the Kirby's walked away from what could have been a precedent-setting case. If it was found that Kirby really DID own the copyright, then he'd be cut in on the characters he created. Which would mean that Steve Ditko would have a pretty good shot at some of the Spider-Man money. Which would mean that the Martin Nodell's of the world might actually be able to retire after creating an iconic comic character. They wouldn't have to work in their 80's.
To be fair, I don't know all the details of the case. Maybe there was no shot. Or maybe the legal fees were too tremendous. I don't know.
All I really know is that I wish I lived in a world where these creators got paid for the work they did....more
You know what I don't like about these books? What's with the story? There's SO much story compared to the amount of fucking. It's an 11-page story, aYou know what I don't like about these books? What's with the story? There's SO much story compared to the amount of fucking. It's an 11-page story, and they fuck for 2 pages! I know that sounds like a decent ratio, but when we're buying a book called Conquered By Clippy, and when the subtitle is An Erotic Short Story, and when the cover is an animated paperclip next to a bikini babe, am I WAY off in expecting more than one sex scene?
To be fair, this book blew its mercurial load all at once. You can't do sex AND butt sex the first time! That's an amateur mistake. You either save the butt stuff to escalate, or you turn the tables on us, start butt, then go vagina or mouth, but in a way that surprises me because I'm like, "Damn, I thought they kind of got to the butt stuff too quick, but this is great too."
Some lines? You know you want to read some lines.
"Unlike an actual paperclip, the end of [Clippy's] coiled body was rounded, and it felt smooth in her mouth. As she lapped and tongued and sucked at it, it became even redder and hotter. Her own human body part (vagina) felt hot too."
This is a thing in this story. Some pretty unnecessary parenthesis here. It's not like "Her own human body part" is euphemism I can't understand. I don't even think it's euphemism. Is it? And I'm going to assume, since the whole idea is that she's human and fucking a paperclip, that her body parts are all human.
Here's another one:
"He complied, pushing more of his hot (in temperature) body inside of her..."
Thanks for the reminder that a paperclip is not sexually attractive.
Have you ever wished, and this is off-topic, that you were really attracted to something like paperclips? Like you could look at them and just, that was all it took? Maybe something slightly less common, but something that no one would suspect. You know, like if it was wooden pencils, you could have "porn" all over your desk, all day, and nobody would say anything. I could walk around the house with a fetish object behind my ear at all times, and nobody would say a thing. If I rolled up a porno magazine and stuck it behind my ear, I feel like we'd have problems.
Anyway, Clippy pushes so deep inside this woman that the FLESH UNDER HER STERNUM BULGES. That's less erotic to me than it is the chestburster from Aliens. Seriously, Clippy, what the fuck?
But we do get this classic line: "It looks like you're trying to reach orgasm. May I assist you using butt stuff?"
Ah, butt stuff. Yes, many a long, sensual night has begun with me opening the old MS Word and clicking on Butt Stuff Wizard. Butt Stuff Templates. I can't tell you the way I wept over the loss of Butt Stuff ClipArt. Ah, well. All part of a beautiful memory.
"...What is art not? Well, as I've described it, Art is not about communication. Art is not a way of conveying information. It's a way of understandin"...What is art not? Well, as I've described it, Art is not about communication. Art is not a way of conveying information. It's a way of understanding information. That is, creating a work of art is a means we have of making sense of the world, focusing to make it clearer, not a way of communicating some understanding of the world we already hold."
A really good book of essays about art. Probably most infamous is "Craft is the Enemy" in which artists pounced on James Kochalka for saying that budding artists should not wait until their techniques were perfect before creating art. To put it another way, the artist's path isn't
1. Learn art history. 2. Perfect all aspects of craft. 3. Begin creating art.
While I think there are lots of aspects of craft that are important, and while I think there is a lot that can help a new artist, I also think that one of the good things about art is that you can start engaging with it immediately. And for some of us, that's how we learn. It's not until we try to write a scene with 15 characters that we realize why it's so hard to write a scene with 15 characters. Why those characters become objects you just have to keep moving around the room and checking in with, meanwhile your story is happening in another room. It's like being a party host and there's a stove in every room and a different part of the dinner simmering in every room, and you have to run from room to room to check on everything, and then you fuck up the dinner or you do it okay except there wasn't one moment of joy in the whole thing because you ran around like an idiot the whole time.
I think artists were pissed off at Kochalka because they interpreted what he was saying as "Don't learn craft." But I think, if I may be so bold, that he was really saying craft is the enemy because it prevents people from producing any actual work too often. Also, I promise you this, you will get a lot more out of craft lessons if you know what to look for and which questions to ask. If you know that the problem with 15 characters isn't the 15 characters but the way you're story becomes subordinate to managing all the characters, then you'll be able to ask the right questions of other people, look for the answers in writing you enjoy, and figure out some different ways you might go with it.
I do think craft is very important, and that care and concern for craft is likely to give you better results. But I also think that what's great about art as opposed to something like astrophysics is that I can start doing it for myself right now. I don't have to go through 8 years of higher ed before I can even begin to have an impact or explore for myself. Art is very inexpensive to explore as a self-starter and requires only time, and that's what probably attracts a lot of young people to it, I suspect. It's something you can do, actually do, right away. I can't just start repairing cars because I don't have the tools or the parts. I can't decide I just want to play the stock market because I don't have the money to get involved with that. I can't do astrophysics because holy shit are telescopes expensive. Unless you just want the kind for looking in neighboring apartments. Although those are still surprisingly pricey. You'd think that the boom in internet pornography would have seen crappy telescope prices plummet, but what do I know.
As Kolchalka put it
"Resolve to put the skills you have to work NOW. And pick up more along the way."...more
Once the scene was set, I got into it. The anecdotes were good, and it was kinda a mix between Harvey Pekar and Bukowski if I can be so bold as to makOnce the scene was set, I got into it. The anecdotes were good, and it was kinda a mix between Harvey Pekar and Bukowski if I can be so bold as to make two obnoxious references in one sentence.
I wonder why it is that when I hear someone say Charles Bukowski is one of their favorite writers, I instantly have an opinion of that person. And that opinion is almost always, "Yeah, that's what I thought." I don't think it's just about people who like Bukowski, it's about people who like him A LOT and cite him as a favorite author. As a founding member of the Bad Dad Club, I feel like this Bukowski love is an opinion often expressed by members of the Bad Dad Club. Male and female, by the way. Don't get me wrong, I really like a lot of his work. It just seems that there's a certain type of person who really likes Bukowski, and really needs you to know they really like Bukowski. Someone in sciences needs to get into literature and start doing some studies.
The start was rough. And I think it's because the dialog was kinda clunky. Stuff like:
"Hey, isn't that old man Jenkins? Who runs the general store?" "Yes, it is. And of course his wife is with him, who we also know."
There's this thing I tried to express before in a review of a play, about dialog and how it works and doesn't work, and then I read this article about Mad Max: Fury Road that crystallized the whole thing for me.
Here's what director George Miller says about dialog. And he says it with the fancy "ue" ending as he would catalogue or egg nogue:
At a simple level, you're not trying to use dialogue as exposition, you're using it as part of behaviour, and language itself is distorted.
Dialog can be really grating as exposition and really effective as characterization. Dialog tells you a lot, not through the information contained in sentences, but the language used and the way things are said. I think this is especially true and noticeable in film, plays, and comics because they have the expository visual tools to carry some of the load as well, so when dialog is used as exposition, it's extra painful.
I was about to say that I give expository dialog in written stories a pass because pure prose doesn't have the visuals to rely on, but that would be a lie. I don't give anyone a pass on this. I won't call Trashed lazy because it's not lazy, but when I write expository dialog, it's laziness. Always. It's a failure of imagination to show and demonstrate something in a better way. And because it's something I'm sensitive to myself, it's something that sticks out for me in other works too.
Oh, also, this book has information about trash sprinkled throughout, and this info confirms two long-held suspicions of mine:
1.Recycling don't do shit. Seriously. The amount of trash, and especially the amount of toxic material in landfills, is going to bite us in the ass. And the way landfills are run doesn't help. Garbage is compacted into large cubes, which are stacked on each other and compressed, and when it's all said and done what they've got is a huge pile of cubes buried in the ground and compressed so tightly and without air moving through, and therefore biodegradation isn't really happening. And what's more, newer landfills are equipped with drainage for the toxic, poisonous liquids that escape, and in a recent test it was found that 100% of these systems leaked.
Also, children result in mounds of diapers. Like, huge. And those don't biodegrade at all. You could recycle your entire life and still not make up for those couple years of Pampers.
The problem has a lot less to do with lack of recycling than it does with consumerism and planned obsolescence. I'm not going to get all corporate warrior and shit, but if you get rid of your phone because a newer version is out, you are fucking up big time. Those components are terrible for the environment, they don't break down, and the less of it we consume, the less is manufactured.
Recycling is a drop in the bucket compared to consumer waste.
Now, I'm not a person who thinks that we shouldn't bother with something just because it's small stakes. It takes a lot of small changes to make a big change. What I'm saying is that you can't put out the green bin and be all "I'm a good steward of the environment" and then throw a flatscreen in the dumpster the next day.
Get products that last, repair and refinish stuff when you can, and just generally avoid throwing shit out. Focus more on reducing the number of bags at the curb, not where those bags are going.
2. Europe is smart and America is dumb.
Again, I'm not one of these assholes who's like "If Trump becomes President, I'm moving to Sweden." Because no I'm not, and you aren't either.
Did you guys know that Denmark has fucking incinerators that generate heat and power? From trash?
Okay, there are some issues. Not so much environmental, like you'd think, but social. People in Denmark recycle very little and are not incentivized to reduce waste because waste is what powers shit, and screw it, we're good! So there is a movement afoot to continue reducing waste and recycling even though these incinerators are kinda awesome.
But, I'll say this. Most waste in the U.S. is shoved in the ground and poisons the area. Wait, let's back up. Most waste is trucked to a facility where it's then trucked via semi to a dump. Goodbye to the local dump, hello to the mega dump. Which isn't the worst thing, IMHO, because there are some desolate parts of this state that nobody would miss. But the problem, as I see it, is that we're trucking around garbage. That's a crazy waste of resources. To put that much time and effort into something we're trying to get rid of is pretty crazy.
So while Denmark might not be totally in love with its incineration process, it's a fuck of a lot better than taking trash for a drive....more
This book does a great thing that a lot of comics try, but few creators success in making it happen.
The reluctant hero. This book totally does it, andThis book does a great thing that a lot of comics try, but few creators success in making it happen.
The reluctant hero. This book totally does it, and it also sticks it to these mother earth, beauty of nature people. Take that, hippies! The earth sucks too. Ugh, enough with telling me to look at the leaves because they're different colors. I know, okay? Colors are great. Red, yellow. Green. Orange. Oh, how I wish garbage bags were see-thru so we could enjoy the fall leaves that much longer after I rake.
Does anyone else think it's really, really weird to collect up all the leaves that fall off of trees and then put them in the trash? Like next to a pizza box? Just a bunch of organic matter, then also these old batteries? Where did the leaves go before we invented raking? I want to know. They must have gone somewhere. I don't recall old-timey pictures where everyone was up to their goddamn eyes in old leaves.
Anyway, this book does the reluctant hero story, and you buy it. Which is tough.
Here's the problem with the reluctant hero story. Or rather, the ways it doesn't work:
Spider-Man: "I'd trade it all just to have Uncle Ben back." Okay, be that as it may, you don't have that option. So maybe enjoy this shit a little bit? Enjoy that you can swing through NYC like it's your personal jungle gym? Maybe take the occasional opportunity to land on a bus, look in the window and laugh at all the suckers, the scumlords, the true trash who ride on wheeled transport while you zip around town?
Superman: "The last son of a dead planet. Can I use my powers to help the people?" Alright, it'd be a little annoying to hear everything all the time. I get pissed off because the cat meows all night and runs around like a goddamn loon. So imagine if you heard EVERYONE'S cat. That alone would be hell. On the other hand, you can fly to the moon and hang out just to do it. Maybe you can't anymore since that 3 Doors Down song kind of fucked it up, but you can still get places without TSA getting involved. I swear that not all these involve the horrors of public transportation.
The Flash: Okay, this one is public transpo too. Last one. Self-explanatory.
John McClane: "I just want to celebrate Christmas like a normal guy, by taking the holiday as an opportunity to make one very bad attempt at reconciling with my wife, who has hated me, justifiably, for about 20 years now." I can see how he'd have a little PTSD. But he got to yell Yippee-Kay-Yay, Motherfucker! and after you do that, you don't get to complain about life anymore. I'm sorry, I don't make the rules.
Green Lantern: "It's hard to be a space cop. SOOOOO much responsibility." Please. And where's the issue where the Green Lantern makes a jackoff machine? How is there no GL jackoff machine? You'd think one day, someone would walk into a back room and find Kilowog in some crazy ass chair that just jacks him off, however the hell that's accomplished.
Just as a side note, google "Kilowog naked" if you want to have some fun. My fun almost ended a few rows down when I saw Martian Manhunter, who is NOT Kilowog, however I saw he had a weird penis and 3 balls, which is sort of reminiscent of the 3 boobs lady from Total Recall, also a martian, which salvaged the entire thing for me and made me think that there's some deep thought going into this fan art that I'll never understand.
And once you're scrolling through naked Kilowogs, review over....more
Okay, let's just get into the problem I have here. Keeping in mind that these are great comics and the art is so stylish and individual to Rob GuiHmm.
Okay, let's just get into the problem I have here. Keeping in mind that these are great comics and the art is so stylish and individual to Rob Guillory, and I fucking love that aspect of it.
I also love that this series seems to be building to something big, but the sad part is that sometimes you get these tweeners. The books where they kind of come down from the last big thing and then rev up for the next big thing. Maybe it's a necessary storytelling element, but I could do without.
Alright, that's out of the way.
Futurecasting. I don't really like fortune-telling stories. Because, basically, that implies that time travel is possible, right?
I'm just thinking here, but telling the future is time travel, just without moving your BODY, right? It's moving your perception forward while your body stays stationary? Which is probably better than real time travel. I'd be happy to just watch some stuff and not actually have to BE there. Abraham Lincoln slept in the same bed with this other dude because he was a broke-ass lawyer, and it was a joyous occasion to come home after the other dude had banged a prostitute because the bed was warm. That's real. That's Abraham Lincoln. Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln Douglas Debate Lincoln. Daniel Day Lewis Lincoln. Tall guy with even taller hat Lincoln. He's on almost all the money. This is what his life was like, the body heat of a prostitute and a roomie in the mattress was a banner day. I'm Pete. I haven't freed shit. I'm 1/2 an inch shorter than Pee Wee Herman. The only way Daniel Day Lewis is going to play me in a movie is if my life takes a big fucking turn. Like huge. Where I have to be killed by detonating a volcano because I've just become too powerful to be killed otherwise. And, just being honest, I don't love it when I sit on a toilet seat and there's unexpected warmth in there. Not in love with that. So if I could just SEE some of that old stuff, that'd be better, right?
Anyway, I don't think I need to beat to death my feelings on time travel. But I'll just give them a light slaparound.
Time travel is what comes at the bottom of the well when the well runs dry and then you lower yourself down in there on some scary bucket and start digging the well deeper. Then a scary Ring girl comes out of fucking nowhere, but except for being scary, it's really not that bad because she's like 8 years old and you have a shovel, and frankly she can barely see with all her hair down over her face. So you murder a child who may or may not be already dead, you justify burying her corpse using the logic from the last sentence, and then you dig even deeper where you tap into time travel.
I'm saying that time travel is beyond scary ghost level in terms of having been done a couple times, and this book actually uses ghost level to GET TO time travel. Oh, and we use a drug trip to access the ghost to access the time travel. That's a lot of layers of things that I don't care for in a story. That's a goddamn lasagna of stuff that doesn't work too well for me. Mushroom tripping layered with ghosts, all stuffed with futurecasting.
Don't get me wrong. Lots of shit about this book is unbelievable. That's what I like about it, and I like that the unbelievable stuff is new and different. The FDA becomes an ass-kicking organization that rids the world of contraband poultry? Sold. NASA is still a real thing that can do stuff? It's probably a little wish fulfillment for me, but good enough.
It's just that I have such high expectations of this book in terms of novelty and keeping it interesting, and this particular volume missed the mark just a bit....more
This is a science-y book. That's how this relates.
I've been reading and listening to a lot of science stuff, especiallGuys. Science is really so cool.
This is a science-y book. That's how this relates.
I've been reading and listening to a lot of science stuff, especially space in relation to a project I'm working on, and can I tell you something awesome? Something that's great about scientists that we should all adopt?
When scientists make a decision, they still pay attention to contrary evidence, and they aren't afraid to say, "I've changed my mind."
Bill Nye wrote a book, and in that book he talked about the problems with GMO's. That's genetically-modified organisms, not Monsanto. Monsanto MAKES GMO's, but is not, itself, a GMO. Let's start there.
Bill (can I call him Bill? I feel like he was pretty much my middle school science teacher) then learned some more, and he changed his mind. While he doesn't necessarily endorse the business practices of companies like Monsanto, he thinks that GMO's are a good way to do more with less. To grow more food that's more nourishing with less space and less water, which is kind of his whole battle cry when it comes to environmentalism. For him, it's not about asking people to give up their luxuries and the things they like. He grew up in a time when environmentalism was about things like not flushing your toilet and not driving a car, and the failure of that dream has caused him to rethink things and consider environmentalism as doing more with less, still having these luxuries while lessening their negative impact.
The point is, he thought one thing, then he changed his mind.
And I wish that everyone would adopt that. Give themselves that freedom to think one thing and then, later on, think something else.
Politicians are all about their track record, and that's how they get stuck. They can't say, "You know, I struck down a gay marriage bill 30 years ago, but since then I've seen that gay marriage is totes fine and nothing to worry about, and I don't need to do the same thing over and over just to make a point about how I've never been wrong."
Trevor Noah, when he was announced as the host of the Daily Show, got in some trouble for some 5 year-old tweets (http://time.com/3764913/trevor-noah-t...). Which I just think is stupid because it's not hard to imagine that a comedian would say something in 2010 that he wouldn't say in 2015. Something that he would say about South Africa WHILE LIVING THERE in 2010 might not be something he would say about South Africa in 2015 as the host of the Daily Show living in America. His circumstances have changed, his audience has changed, and most likely, his mind has changed.
And it would be the instinct of many, politicians and comedians, to scrub the old opinions, views and jokes in order to make sure and not taint the chances of a new endeavor. But the scientist? Does Bill Nye deny the opinions in his old book? NO! He writes a NEW book. As a scientist, what he says in 2015 doesn't have to be the same things he said in 2014.
This is all over the place. Science has to respect the past, even when it was wrong, because most scientific endeavors are going to be wrong at first. And as they evolve, they have to be frank about what the last people got right, what they got wrong, and where to go next. You would never have scientific progress if you scrubbed all the mistakes and bad shit from the past and scientists in the present could only draw from successes.
It'd do us a little good to be more like scientists in this way. To ask questions that we don't already know the answers to. To allow ourselves to make decisions on things and then change our minds later on in the face of compelling evidence. ...more
Thor with long blonde hair and beautiful features? Count me out! I came here to read a comic about a beautiful, strong, MAN with gorgeous hair.
Wait,Thor with long blonde hair and beautiful features? Count me out! I came here to read a comic about a beautiful, strong, MAN with gorgeous hair.
Wait, no. Actually, I like woman Thor. The truth is, I didn't have a lot of care or concern about Thor before I picked this up, so the switcheroo doesn't even remotely fall into that category of "stop fucking with my beloved, favorite-est characters" for me.
I had other issues with this volume.
It's a big secret who Lady Thor really is in here (by the way, I'll call her lady Thor, not because I disrespect her, but because Man Thor still exists in this universe, and I'm not sure what to call him other than Thor, and I'm also not sure what to call Lady Thor other than Thor. So in the interest of having some vague coherence, one will be Lady Thor, and one will be Man Thor). I purposely have avoided learning Lady Thor's identity so I could learn it in the story. But the way the secret is kept is SO annoying. Because Lady Thor knows who she is, her regular identity, and it's like she's reminding us, over and over, that it's really important that her secret doesn't get out. Which, as a reader, amounts to a constant reminder that "I know something you don't, and trust me, it's a doozy."
But also, and I had a think over this one. I think part of what makes the secret annoying is that I don't really care. Because which woman in the Marvel U could it be that would make this interesting?
And I'm throwing the blame off myself here and pointing to the fact that there just aren't a lot of super-compelling answers to that question because there aren't a shitload of super-compelling female characters in Marvel comics. It's light years better than it was, and it's improving rapidly, and I love that. But let's be honest.
You know what? Let's go through my list of suspects. Like Sherlock Holmes and shit.
I set up a few rules first. 1. I assumed it was, in fact, a woman under the mask. Because otherwise this is a very pointless exercise.
2. I assumed that it does not have to be a white, blonde, human woman because if the hammer can hide this person's identity, it wouldn't be a stretch to say the hammer could also give a person long blonde hair and white skin.
3. I assumed it has to be a woman that we are vaguely familiar with, because otherwise, again, it wouldn't really be a secret FROM THE READER. Take Miles Morales. Of course he doesn't want everyone to know, but the story, for the reader, hinges on us getting to know this dude. And he's not some guy we all knew before, so the secret isn't valuable to a reader. For Lady Thor's secret to have payoff, she has to be someone we, as readers, know.
Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel Possible, but unlikely. A new character with a new series, and a lot about that series is her coping with new powers and shit. It would also cut the number of new female characters in half, which seems foolish.
She Hulk aka She Hulk Hmm. Could be. Although I don't know why she would really care to hide her identity. She's pretty famous for never having a dual identity, really. I mean, when you're a 7-foot ripped green lady running around in a woman's one-piece bathing suit and punching shit, what would you be hiding? I think if She Hulk picked up the hammer, she'd stay She Hulk or not care about being all secretive.
Sue Storm aka Invisible Woman This is actually the most interesting prospect, to me. She's a lady of science, and now she's in this mystical world. She's been part of a team, but now she's flying solo. That's contrast. That's going against type. I could get down with that.
Emma Frost aka That Lady Who's Always In Lingerie With The Boobs She's kinda evil. Or was. If 99% of people can't pick up the hammer on a morality basis, I don't think Emma Frost could either. I feel like this hammer's morality is just set up to keep Asgardians from jacking off. Instead of "You'll go blind" it's "You'll never be able to lift mystical weapons." #NoFapAsgard
Alicia Masters aka Blind Sculpter Hmm. I guess. But now we're falling into territory of characters that aren't super-interesting to see as Thor. Being blind and then able to see would be something. But beyond that, I dunno. She's another character that I don't have a strong tie to.
Mary Jane aka Spider-Man's Girlfriend Because why not? But also, because why? It's possible, but pretty uninteresting, no?
Aunt May aka Old Lady We all remember the disaster when Aunt May got the power cosmic and became Golden Oldie and used her powers to make a giant Twinkie. Do we all remember that? Because that shit happened.
Black Widow aka Super Spy Who's Sometimes Really Russian and Sometimes Not Really Russian Is she worthy of the hammer? She killed people. But was also kind of programmed... Here's my thing with this option. When you take a character who is kind of interesting in this world because she doesn't have powers, and you give her powers, you take away what's interesting about that character in some ways. It's possible that it's her, but I think it'd be a poor choice.
Ororo Munroe aka Storm Maybe. The lighting to lightning connection is solid. But what would be interesting is seeing the contrast, the internal monologue of the differences here. Mutant powers versus mystical powers. Keeping it a secret, in this case, would be a weird way to go.
Medusa aka The Hair Medusa, Not The Snakes One The jump from Inhuman to Asgardian wouldn't be all that crazy. I could get down with that.
Dazzler aka Super Rollergirl Once I hit on Dazzler, that's the only person I wanted it to be. Fuck it. The world is ready for Dazzler. If DJ's are all over billboards in LA, then certainly a person with music based ACTUAL POWERS could make a pretty good living for herself. Deadmaus could go fuck himself.
It's not a comprehensive list, but there we go. The options just aren't that mind-blowing, and so stringing out the mystery here, eh, who needs it? And the more I think about it, the less excited I am about the possibilities.
An example of a swap done well is Superior Spider-Man. Doc Ock switches into Spider-Man's body, and nobody knows EXCEPT Spider-Man, Ock, and readers. And the readers are key. They know, which means we're given all these glimpses into Doc Ock and what it's like for him to have powers and what he thinks about. It's a lot more interesting to flush that mystery in favor of the better story.
The other big secret here is how Man Thor lost his powers. Nick Fury whispered something in his ear, and Man Thor was no longer able to lift his hammer. What did he say? Abra-Cadabra? Ala-Kazaam? I have Kazaam on DVD? Whatever Fury said, no one knows but Man Thor, and that includes readers.
I'm down for a stupid premise like magic words or some weird ace Nick Fury had in his hole. Heh. But what I'm not down for is Man Thor getting drunk and almost telling everyone what Fury said, or hesitating to say to his parents, or ALL THESE THINGS WHERE IT'S LIKE "Okay, here's the secret" and then WHOOPS! frost giant steps in the room, no time to talk now!
Fuck that. Give me a break. It's one sentence. How long are we teasing one sentence?
#2 Feminist Cake
Alright. Not everyone is going to be with me on this one. But hear me out.
I think this book engages in what Family Guy does at its worst.
If you want to do something racist or sexist or awful in Family Guy, it's easy. You just have Peter do it. He's an idiot oaf, and you can have anything come out of his mouth without really getting in any trouble because you've created this character that functions, primarily, to do just that. Sometimes it works, and other times it's like, "Let's say this awful thing, but let's make it seem like the JOKE is that it's so awful and no one would actually say it, but what we're REALLY doing is getting a pass to do a dumb joke."
So when asshole frost giants with big stupid guts and bones through their noses comment on Lady Thor's Ladyness, it's fine because we're like, "Yeah, they're weird idiot men."
Crusher Creel, aka Absorbing Man, makes some comments which, hold the phone, let me say something about why this is TERRIBLE comics.
Creel uses the word "feminist", and four panels later Lady Thor's inner dialogue is all "Thanks for saying 'feminist' like it's a four-letter-word, dillweed!" (Something like that).
This is bad comics because when Creel says it, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHAT HIS INFLECTION IS?! I have to then go back, re-read that panel, and be like "Oh, okay. NOW I'm retroactively pissed off." That's bad comics. That would be like writing a whole page of text dialogue, then writing "BTW, they yelled that stuff at each other and were real mad and shit." It's like this comic, in so many ways, is pushing the reader outside. I don't know who Lady Thor is, I don't know why Man Thor can't lift his hammer, and I don't even know that someone is using the word feminist in a derogatory way until it's already happened because everything has to be a riddle wrapped in an enigma all jammed inside a goddamn Hellraiser puzzle box, which you DO NOT want to open because you're about to have a confusing and really gross journey.
Anyway, let's get back to this thing where only oafish characters are saying how Lady Thor is just a girly girl and yadda yadda.
That stuff, feels, to me, like the writer really wanting everyone to know that this is a big deal.
Which is especially weird because in this very story, who is Creel teamed up with? Titania! His wife! A woman! A lady who beats the shit out of people. A lady with the equivalent strength of She Hulk if we bother to Marvel Wiki.
I ask you, why would Crusher Creel be floored by the idea of a woman superhero when he was teamed up, romantically AND professionally, with a female supervillain? When his wife is a super strong lady who can kick his ass, why would we use him to spout this 1950's bullshit?
Oh, right. Because if it's a bad guy, then it's okay for him to verbally express bad values, especially because he's just going to end up punched in the face. It's like a literal punching in the face of anti-feminism!
Or is it.
Because here's my premise.
The problems of anti-feminism are a lot deeper than a guy calling Lady Thor "toots." And they are problems that aren't remotely solved or addressed by punching said dude in the face.
And more than that, they're problems that would be a lot more interesting handled differently.
Here are the people in the book who have a problem with Lady Thor: Odin (who is a total asshole to everyone in this book, BTW) Frost Giants Absorbing Man
Here are the people who have no problem: Man Thor Captain America Spider-Man Thor's Mom Titania
The good guys are into Lady Thor, the bad guys aren't. Bad guys have bad values. Great. Fun.
Wouldn't it be a lot more interesting if Man Thor, who we like, had a problem with this? Wouldn't it be more fascinating if Spider-Man had an issue with this whole thing?
Flipside, wouldn't it make for a better story if a villain were wholly uninterested in whether Thor was a man or a woman? Or if a villain were, for all his foibles, a feminist through and through?
The notable exception here is Titania. But the exchange between Titania and Lady Thor was super ridiculous and made no sense, and frankly was my absolute least-favorite part of the book. The logic is not there, the point of the scene isn't there, and Lady Thor still clocks Titania, who has already surrendered completely! What the fuck? They made a JOKE about this very thing in Howard the Duck, when a bad guy surrenders and a superhero reveals he doesn't carry handcuffs or anything like that because, frankly, he just knocks people unconscious all the time.
Here's something that, for me separates comics from great comics:
It's wish fulfillment and it's fun when Captain America punches Hitler in the face. That's comics.
But it's a hell of a lot more interesting when, in a book like Watchmen, the villain is doing something that's arguably good, but going about it in a destructive way. When you can understand why the villain would want what he wants, and yet his methods are abhorrent. That's great comics.
My reading of this is that the writer, or Marvel, want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to have a woman be Thor, and they want to move into a world where everyone is cool with this. But they also write the character of the anti-Lady-Thor villain into the comics, give that person a voice, and invalidate that voice by putting it in the mouth of a fool who already, thoroughly, deserves a punch to the face for any of a hundred reasons.
Don't get me wrong. If you're a person who hates the idea of Lady Thor because Thor is a lady, I don't think you're someone who needs a dialog. I think what you NEED is to go fuck yourself. How about you start your own comics line called Chauvinistic Obnoxious Crap Komics (or COCK for short) and you can just make it a womanless world for you to do whatever you like with. And in the meantime, go fuck yourself.
My issue is that this comic dumbs down a problem that goes deeper. There are lots of people who aren't bank robbers and still have some pretty weird views. And we need to realize that part of the problem is that we don't get to punch those people in the face. And we can't. And even if we could, it wouldn't prove to anything about women or men other than a woman is capable of punching a man in the face.
It would be convenient if all anti-feminists were also bank robbers, but they're not. If every racist were a criminal, that would make things easier. But it's not illegal to hate black people because they're black. It's not legally-required for people to be, in general, cool with the existence of gay people.
Let's get concrete. She Hulk gets catcalled, breaks the dude's jaw. What she does would, NO DOUBT, feel good. But is it right? I don't know. Does it make men in the future a little more hesitant to catcall, thereby justifying the jaw-bustin'? How do we feel about it if we discover his medical bill means his daughters can't be enrolled in private school anymore?
I don't know the answers, but what I DO know is that the question is a lot more interesting than the question of whether or not we should punch frost giants who are taking over the world and who also just so happen to be anti-feminist. There's no answer to that question that isn't Yes.
I want more. I want the better questions.
It's comics, and we can say it's all just fun, but it's not. Sorry. It's not. When you make blockbuster Avengers movies that kill at the box office, it's not just a couple dudes in a tiny office writing funny books, doing what they think is enjoyable.
I'm being hard on this book because it's not some indie with no quality control or backing behind it. I'm hard on Marvel because I think their best stuff is about Spider-Man's real life problems, or the ways in which X-Men are a gateway to a very real, nuanced discussion of civil rights.
I'm tired of people making excuses for comics and saying the audiences aren't ready. I'm tired of people saying that books with women on the covers and as the protagonists won't sell, because that's just not true.
I'm tired of content that seems pointed at detractors, answering their idiotic questions, and also at people who see a woman on the cover and stop there, dust their hands and say "mission complete."
I'm tired of comics where I feel someone put on the brakes, say "Now a political discussion, after which we return to the fun." I'm tired of the stark separation between those things.
What I'm really tired of is the content creators blaming the faceless audience and economic forces for the fact that comics are not as progressive and sophisticated as they should be. People will tell you it's a chicken and the egg argument, but I think that's just a convenient excuse to get away from doing what we all know is right.
And I know Jason Aaron, the writer, can do better. He has, many, many times. He's a really good writer. I appreciate his work for its humor and depth, and that's why it's a letdown when he doesn't take it to the limit.
We can do more. We're ready for more. We're ready for good stories that can tell anti-feminists to go fuck themselves and also have narrative arcs. For stories that stand on their own as feminist and powerful and let readers and critics do the work of pointing out how awesome they are. That don't have single panels that are written so Buzzfeed has an easy quotable to tell us about Lady Thor.