Fantastic Female Friday- Codex + Tinkerballa (The Guild)

The Guild was a webseries about a group of gamers who are members of the same Guild in an MMORPG who meet up in real life to help each other deal with their real life problems. The jobless, friendless, greasy haired Codex (Felicia Day) gets a drop in from Guildmate Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) that she’s been in game flirting with and suggests that the whole team meets up. Including teenaged Bladezz (Vincent Caso), bald pennypinching Vork (Jeff Lewis), 

The uber tech obsessed and glittery girly Tinkerballa (Amy Okuda)

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who uses the hot nerd girl/loser nerd boy stereotypes to her advantage. She hates work and questions about her real life. She sees most men as marks and plays Nintendo DS between turns. She’s a flirt but she is actually a prude. “He only got to second base, and my second base is everyone else’s first.”

And Clara (Robin Thorsen)- 

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wearing her +20 intelligence thinking cap. Her avatar is called Clara, the mother of 2 has to use her real name since she previously used the pseudonym “Mominatrix” and her kids started calling her that. Her husband was not amused. Basically, gaming and drinking is her thing, she’s a breeder and her husband picks up the tab. She always has a ponzi scheme and her kids are usually covered in shaving cream and oatmeal. She ditched out on her sister’s wedding to get some “me time.” She’s an I Love Lucy-esque housewife cliche, but she’s funny, cheerful and she’s the only one who gets any play from the hot stunt guy.

 Notably, Bladezz’s little sister, (played by real life sister Tara Caso) Dena is always antagonizing him and kicking his ass and being cooler than him

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Codex, our main protag (played by series writer Felicia Day) is neurotic and weak stomached, she often relies on her avatar for her confidence. 

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After she ditches Zaboo, Zaboo falls for BDSM, bi-sexual, FPS obsessed Riley. Riley is tall, confident model hot but her personality is very demanding and ‘masculine” 

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Riley (Michelle Boyd) is a little much, she keeps Zaboo tied up in a closet and thinks The Game is stupid, but she was a confident and awesome addition to the gamer-girl fold. As was Venom (Teal Sherer), hot goth chick in a wheelchair from the rival Guild.

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Who touted a snarky dark and stormy attitude, took advantage of people’s preconceptions about her disability and her good looks and played them to her advantage, whether it was to get in line first at GameStop or to distract “helpful” people. Bonus points that the actress is actually in a wheelchair after a car accident when she was a teenager. 

This series plays up the nerd stereotypes and archetypes to infinite degrees. Teenage pervert, middle-aged loser, hot tease, attention starved, flaky mom, tough chick, neurotic social-phobe… they’re everywhere. The best part about it is that women show up as all sorts of side characters as well, from sassy waitresses to quirky bloggers to Masterchief bodyguards that beat up Kevin Sorbo.

Totally Badass. 

I had such a hard time picking ONE girl to single out as the greatest female character. I was immediately tempted to go with Tinkerballa (the former pre-med major turned costume designer is my kind of nerd) but with previous Fantastic Female Bernadette Rostenkowski I figured we had recently had a “Yeah, nerds can be hot-chicks, too!” fist bump. The same would go for Riley or Venom. And Clara. With the turnaround in later seasons with Codex coming out of her shell, admitting she loves the Guild as people not avatars, she saves the game at Mega-Game-O-Rama and gets a job working for the neurotic Game creator. She really gets her shit together and confronts social situations head on problem solving and sticking up for her friends. Tinkerballa gets a similar closure when she stops keeping her persona separated from her real-life self, tells her parents that she’s into gaming and fashion design and finds a guy she likes enough to buy dinner for. 

Meanwhile Clara still shuns parental responsibility in her quest to never stop gaming, Vork gets a sci-fi icon girlfriend but is still hugely out of touch and Bladezz is still a perverted teen looking to get internet famous. 

But ultimately I could decide between Codex and Tinkerballa

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If you haven’t watched you completely should, there’s a rainbow of personalities and nerd cookies everywhere!

Movie Review- Captain America: the Winter Soldier

I’ll put this at the top: 5 out of 5- One of those rare and awesome occasions where the sequel is far better than the original. Ridiculous action sequences, character emotional development for Both Captain America and Black Widow, girl power galore, a few thought provoking moments about government reach and friendship. 

Don’t read past this if you don’t want spoilers!

At the beginning of the film Steve Rogers meets Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and they bond over their military service and fitness routine. As the trailer gave away, Wilson comes to play an important role (for both the action and Cap’s character development). 

Soon after Captain America and Black Widow out on a mission, only, they aren’t exactly on the *same* mission. Romanoff is not perturbed by this, but Rogers: America’s hero, golden boy and symbol of freedom, is not feeling it. He confronts Fury, who reveals a detailed plot about how they created these helicarriers to detect threats before they become threats. Meaning that people are being punished before crimes are committed. Logically, people change their minds or there are 1000 variables about why someone considering committing a crime might change their minds. But people in the US HAVE been arrested and charged with “thought crimes” and some of them have been orchestrated to create perceived threats by government agencies SO none of this is even far fetched. I always post this same information abou Eric McDavid who was entrapped by an FBI informant and then charged with conspiring to commit eco-terrorism. He didn’t actually do anything, and most of the planning and prepping was single handedly done by the informant who was heavily pressured by the FBI to not be wasting their time -which meant planning a crime involving property destruction of a logging company. He was sentenced to 22 years because the government wants “Green” to be the new Red Scare (this movie is still playing up the Red Scare, though). This theme re-emerges again later with Dr. Arnim Zola and the Hydra plot to orchestrate crimes and tragedies so that people will just hand over their freedom and say “protect us at all costs” …I live 45 minutes from Boston and we’re coming up on the year anniversary of the Marathon Bombing. When they searched for the suspect the entire city and neighboring suburbs SHUT DOWN more extreme people said we were under Marshall Law (we weren’t), it was voluntary, but how voluntary is it really when you’re being told that an armed fanatic is in your backyard and these people with the big guns are here to handle it… can you let us in your basement? People have very divisive opinions about it and I understand that. The ensuing high fiving “This is our fucking city” mentality was alarming. I thought that shutting down all businesses sent the wrong message. But no one asked me, either. But that’s part of the problem. We have no choice but to trust the people who make these choices for us.

None of this sits well with Captain America and he goes to discuss it with Peggy Carter, who unlike Steve has aged, she tells him he has to adjust to the way things have become. Then in a moment that almost turned me into a crying child (I was hung over, don’t judge me) she forgets that she was just talking to him, and starts crying because she’s so happy that he’s alive. Chris Evans is a better actor than he’s gotten credit for, because it was really his reaction that turned me into mush. It seems like a brief moment along with a joke to Black Widow that “everyone in his barbershop quartet is dead” so he has no plans this weekend, yeah Cap has next to no one. 

But that all changes when he finds out that he’s not the only WWII soldier to be made super. 

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In an explosive scene, Fury is targeted by “The Winter Soldier” who is thought to be responsible for decades of assassinations, he even shot Romanoff once. Fury “dies’ (come on, no one thought he was dead) at Steves house and it’s revealed that his cute neighbor is really Agent 13 who has been watching out for him (Fury always has people watching each other, just happened on Agents of SHIELD where Melinda May was watching Coulson). And Steve and Natasha are sent off on this journey together to find who killed Fury, what’s on the drive that Natasha uploaded in the earlier mission and find out who can be trusted, all the while dodging Hydra agents and the Winter Soldier in intense fight scenes and car chases. With no idea who to turn to, Steve chooses to trust Natasha and Sam Wilson. While they recoup at Sam’s, after they are exploded in a bunker, Black Widow confesses that she has the same sense of betrayal as Steve, She thought she stopped working for the KGB to be one of the good guys. There wasn’t as much character development for Widow in this go around, just a glimpse, she was also sans-catsuit most of the time. She got to do a ton of standard bad ass stuff, like nurse bullet wounds while getting the drop on the Winter Soldier.

In a lengthy and interesting fight scene with the Winter Soldier, Captain realises that he’s Bucky. “Who the hell is Bucky?” the villain replies. Captain America’s best friend from when he was still Skinny Steve, he’s being manipulated and brainwashed by Hydra to take out those that they want taken out. Soon they will have the Helicarriers for that. But seeing Steve brings back some of Bucky’s memory. and at the final fight scene, Bucky pulls Steve out of the water. And it was really nicely done. In a flash back to after the death of his mother we seen Steve trying to go through it alone, so he doesn’t dissolve into a puddle over the fact that his best friend is a brainwashed assassin who doesn’t remember him. But he can’t kill him either. Sam recognizes this early and goes along (with his project Falcon suit) to make sure what has to happen does. But in the end it’s down to Cap and Bucky. Captain America orders Maria Hill to destroy the helicarrier (that he is on) and continues fighting with Bucky. And Steve says, “I’m not going to kill you. You’ll have to finish the job, because I’m with you til the end of the line.” And it wasn’t played up very emotionally, and it didn’t need to be. But it speaks volumes about what Cap is willing to live with and what he’s willing to live without. So couple the fact that this was borderline suicidal with the fact that he doesn’t want to work for SHIELD, he doesn’t believe in the path the government is taking and he’s losing Peggy? Ouch.

Meanwhile, Black Widow is taking out Redford’s character, Alexander Pierce -top brass who is really Hydra. And she has to electrocute herself to do it (she was also shot in pretty much that same spot). She’s going to put up all the info about Hydra, but in the process she could be putting out all her deep dark secrets. Since one of her main points in Avengers as well is her legacy in comics was atoning for her past, this is a sore spot. But she does it. 

Then, they all have to find new jobs. Fury lets his identity stay dead (but probably not for long), Romanoff goes to find a new identity, Agent 13 joins the CIA, Maria Hill interviews for Stark Industries and Falcon goes back to what he was doing before he got embroiled in this.

At the end credits we see Bucky in the Smithsonian watching the feature about himself and Captain America. Bucky’s resurrection in comics was always controversial, he was killed off in 1948, but revived periodically, before 1968 where his death became official. He was then used as a symbol of why superheroes shouldn’t have young sidekicks. It stayed this way, as angst and a cautionary tale, until 2005 when Ed Brubaker decided to bring back Bucky. And retcon all that wherein Bucky was really a 16 year old trained operative who was trained to conduct covert assassinations. Co-creator Jack Kirby wasn’t opposed. Anyway, so he’s the Winter Soldier but in the books Cap gets him his memories back via the cosmic cube and Bucky becomes a good guy… and then he becomes Captain America. So it’ll be interesting to see the next time Sebastian Stan reprises the role again (be it for May 6th, 2016’s Cap3 or before that) and what phase it will take. 

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Falcon first appeared in Captain America in 1969, he was from Harlem and was a community volunteer. Tones of that definitely showed through in the film where he was counselling PTSD sufferers, I like the way they applied those traits to modern and personal purposes and I’m glad they left out his affinity for birds.  

And after after the credits we get our first glimpse at Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver *squeeee*

She-Hulk #3

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Exemplary Kevin Wada watercolor markers cover!

The son of Victor Von Doom, Kristoff Vernard, is attempting to defect from Latveria and receive asylum in the US. So he’s come to the office of She-Hulk, PLLC. Not that she was his first choice, this is the 15th firm that he’s tried.

Mini-Von Doom: “..The idea was that you must possess more fortitude than the average member of your profession. And now that I have met you, I see that there is nothing average about you at all.”

Shulk: “Are you.. Was that.. did you just hit on me?”

Von Doom, Jr: “Eh. Probably.”

They head for lattes and Kristoff Vernard tells her about his father’s oppressive rule over Latveria, about raising him to follow his father’s footsteps and carry his legacy. She-Hulk decides to take his case, but time becomes of the essence when she finds out that he’s been in the country for EXACTLY one year. If the petition for asylum isn’t filed within a year then that path is closed. Luckily Kristoff who-does-not-take-cabs has a driver ready and Jennifer knows a judge, “I saved her niece from Skrulls once. She should be able to get us in today.” 

His driver turns out to be a doombot sent to take him back to Latveria. Kristoff takes it in stride, She-Hulk KOs the freaky robot and then grabs Kristoff and finds the stashed Fantasticar. One of the old ones. (it looks like a penis)

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 Kristoff is bummed, the doombot must have alerted his father to their plan …but She-Hulk has a plan!

And it involves Hellcat!

(She-Hulk’s assistant with the monkey is weirding me out… where is Soule going with this?) 

All things go well… until Victor Von Doom drops in. Well then.

This series is consistently entertaining. It’s tied with Loki:Agent of Asgard for my new fave. Pulido’s art is very distinctive. It’s not typical of the current fashion but reflects more classic styles. Bright, clear, sparse backgrounds, thick outlines. The faces are weird. They are, but I enjoy how unique it is. It’s very distinctive. 

Soule’s writing here is very light hearted, but Walters comes off as determined (and very Ally McBeal-ish). The issues thus far have focussed mainly on social interactions and quirky dialogue while still adding in enough zany action to not feel like a rom-com in a law office or a procedural script. And I find it really interesting that they are turning to these very B-List characters to hold up the story (Stark was in issue one.. but Hellcat, Kristoff, Sharon King are all finding a life here after some time by the wayside). I love it. 

Anime Review #1- Rosario + Vampire

I’ve actually been meaning to write about this one for a while. The premise is perfect. A boy who fails to get into any prestigious private schools is accidentally enrolled in a school for monsters, Yokai Academy. The only human, surrounded by snow ghosts, succubi, werewolves, vampires, witches, cat people and blob monsters quickly attracts a posse of magical females… who all want him. The age and premise make this akin to a gender-swapped City of Bones. Powerful females constantly protecting the puny human from a world that he was unwillingly cast into? Multiple suitors vying for affection? One of them is an outright stalker?

Yup.

Tsukune Aono flirts with Moka Akashiya (who is a sweet girl wearing a rosary that keeps her violent vampire form underwraps), Tsukune likes her but doesn’t like sharing his blood and isn’t 100% about dating a vampire. He is also pursued by a busty succubus, Kurumu…

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…and the super stalker Mizore.

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Mizore begins as a villain, willing to hurt Kurumu, Moka and even Tsukune himself while in pursuit of his affections. During the altercation Tsukune blames himself. Says that this is all happening because of him. Kurumu wisely speaks up, telling him that he is not to blame, “It is never the victims fault! People are responsible for their own actions!”

This is something that is few and far between in media aimed for the tween and teen set (although I wouldn’t rate this anime in that category) we often see victim blaming in YA. Examples include, audiences not liking Clary’s “friendzoning” of Simon, the “romantic” stalker Edward’s over protectiveness of Bella, Buffy’s mother blaming her for the creeper behavior by Angelus after they sleep together. So I had a fist pump moment when she blurted that out.

Tsukune is also kind of a special snowflake himself: he’s the only one that can remove the cross from Moka’s neck. He solves his problem using traditionally female tactics like talking out problems with the monster.

Although I’m touting the feminist power of Rosario + Vampire… Moka’s transformation scene leaves much to be desired in that category.

At Anime Boston there was a panel called “Fight Like a Girl: How Magical Girls Weaponize Femininity” the presenter was named Nina (if anyone has additional info, throw me a comment, I’d love to add it) and she brought up this excellent point about magical girl transformation scenes from Sailor Moon and Ballerina Tutu. The Females put on jewelry, get a hair makeover and/or change into a fancier outfit. This can have both negative and positive interpretations. From “you have to be beautiful and girly to have power” to “you can be pretty and girly and have ability as well” to “pride in your appearance can be empowering” and it is really individual preference that will dictate one’s interpretation.

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But with Moka: We get and upskirt, her breasts enlarge and her shirt busts open. Brief flashes of (albeit not graphic) nudity ensue before her hair lightens. Her inner-vampire is a true immortal in the body of a girl and I see why this happens but I have trouble concocting a positive twist on cleavage and panty shots being a sign of power. The anime itself is rated MA 18+ (there’s a BDSM teacher/monster, a perverted senior and a million upskirts) so the case can be made that this is for adults… but the characters are still Freshman and Sophomores and one member of their group is only 11, Yukari Sendou.

And the lessons learned are very teenage. Yukari, for example, faces bullying for being a witch (a “being of the borderline” AKA a supernatural HUMAN) until Moka and Tsukune stick up for her. She’s also coming to terms with her sexual orientation she falls first for Moka and then for Tsukune she wants them to have a three way relationship. In one episode, after being teased by volumptuous Kurumu she wants to grow up and visits the school nurse who feeds off her body shame and self loathing but transforms her into a beautiful womanly figure who instantly attracts attention. In the end she learns to love herself as she is and not grow up too fast. So the rating and life lessons are very incongruent. I don’t know what the rating is in Japan and I have heard that the 18+ rating is ethnocentric and based on prudish Western connotations.

Still.. there’s nothing empowering about wind blowing your skirt up.

If you can get passed that it is very good and lots of fun. I enjoy seeing how the group of friends gets out of trouble and am impressed with how often opening their circle up to other characters- who are mainly female- solves conflict. I also enjoyed the varied interpretations of monsters, and despite pandering to male audiences there is some genuine girl power.

X-Men #12

So after my MANY COMPLAINTS about last issue… my hangs ups have almost all seemed to be addressed this time around.

Selene Gallio’s name was spelled right, Monet and Karima looked like two separate people, they addressed who was where (with a role call, which seemed like a response to complaints that I -and seemingly others- had last time).

The “Meanwhile” was still a “Before” (Quentin Quire was on the plane telepathically combating the Sentinels..

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at no point “Meanwhile” could QQ have been at the school with John Sublime last issue ..anyway…

In Japan, Ana Cortes bites the dust (at the close of #11 she stabbed herself through the gut with a sword). And there’s a slightly baffling scene of Madelyne Pryor’s resurrection. And then they introduce who’s on the inbound X-Jet.. which Rachel groans at. And it comes off as BWood being annoyed at readers being annoyed last issue -but I’m so vain, I think this issue is in direct response to me. Anyway; Storm, Rachel, Psylocke, Money, Karima got a tip about Lady Deathstrike’s whereabouts …from Ana. 

Arkea’s the queen bee of the hive mind so they decide to shut her down. They know she’s still recruiting and know it is likely that both the Black Queen and Red Queen have joined up.Monet crashes through the building (again) but instead of heading right for Arkea she goes to get some revenge on Amora while Psylocke has a rematch against Typhoid Mary. Rachel doesn’t get a rematch against Selene (long ago, Rachel faced off with her but Wolverine injured Rachel to take her out of the fight so that she wouldn’t be a murderer) but instead gets attacked by her mother’s genetic clone. 

But Storm negotiates. She tells Madelyne and Selene to just walk away and go elsewhere, just let the X-Men take care of Arkea. 

You don’t span decades with X-Men wanting you dead- or in Selene’s case; centuries- and survive without being a little self serving. They just got their lives back… so they walk away. 

Monet grabs Arkea’s host Reiko (after Arkea goes batshit and makes a run at Storm) and Karima shoots her with a weapon specially engineered by John Sublime. Then Karima says she’s taking a gig with Sabra and Gabriel. 

Okay… This time I liked Anka’s art fine. Maybe the last issue was just rushed, I don’t know. It looked better. The characters were distinct, the lines were clean. The backgrounds were stylishly sparse. 

Then we get to this dubious “Meanwhile”

Cessily and Roxy finally get their issues worked through…

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Mann’s art is so good! Paul Mounts colors are so good! This picture that I took with my smartphone in my crappily lit den does it o service. It’s really just gorgeous. This little side mission was certainly fun albeit somewhat convoluted. Look at the ripples! Look at the facial expressions. It’s so good!

Jubilee makes some comments to Julian that aren’t quite suitable for work. Anyway, Sentinels handled. 

I actually kinda dig Quentin Quire, he reminds me of my high school friends. He can come around if he wants.

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Is Jubilee actually gonna do vampire-y stuff. I feel like they’ve been teasing me with this for 8 months. 

This is one of my fave series, I’m glad to see it was back on track this month. I did think it was weird that Selene and Madelyne just walked off, now there are two big bads on the loose, I’m sure they will be popping up somewhere soon. This was a much better issue, I’m still a little baffled about the way the story is being split up.. but I’m okay with it as long as there is consistency and cohesion between the two plots. 

She-Hulk #2

Javier Pulido keeps the art very bright, very 70’s/80’s. Charles Soule keeps it light and jampacked with girl power and nerd cookies.

Jennifer Walters takes the money that she was paid for representing a woman suing Tony Stark and leased and office and opened her own firm. And? For starters, everyone in the Brooklyn building has superpowers, she’s renting from Sharon King “Went to the Charles Xavier school, I could do things with weather, you know storm? I was more like DRIZZLE. That all ended on M-Day, but I know what it’s like for people with powers.” They security deposit needs to be calculated by NASA. .

 She hires on another attorney (who brought a monkey) and then sets out to find so clients. She’s being slandered by her former employer for breaking their $50,000 table. Considerably discouraged: she heads out early for a martini with Patsy AKA Hellcat. Funfact: Patsy actually predates Marvel, she first appeared in Marvel precursor Timely comics in 1944

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…although, she wasn’t a superhero until 1972. Fits well with the 70s-80s look of the comic. Perfect BFFL for the McBeal-ish She-Hulk.

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After more than a few drinks, Hellcat decides that she wants to take out an AIM lab some SHIELD doofus told her about. 

The AIM dudes put up a fuss, and She-Hulk sticks up for her sloppy drunk friend… and then somewhat inexplicably gives her a job. Probably so she won’t be alone with that weirdo with a monkey. Anyway, when she drags her hungover butt to the office the next morning, there’s someone waiting… Is Jen DOOMED with a difficult client?

This series is so much fun so far. I love the classic vibe, light hearted, throwing names around. She-Hulk’s superpowers mixed in with real world responsibilities in a way that we don’t usually see. LOL “I don’t know how much warehouse doors cost, but it’s probably expensive!”

Nerd News-day Tuesday

Comics Alliance featured an essay about IDW’s “sexualized” PowerPuff Girls #6 variant cover that got pulled in the dust up. It pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter, but NBD if it outraged you. There’s a lot to be mad at about out here. What you can’t be mad about is Eric Stephenson an Image comics publisher throws down for the ladies and tells writers and retailers alike that women WANT comics, be inclusive and they will come.

Of course, dumb-dumbs everywhere think that female supes can’t handle a movie of their own. But, well, tough shit. Black Widow’s getting her own movie. Slated for sometime after summer 2015, it appears Black Widow will get a movie before the illustrious Wonder Woman (because Marvel > DC, just saying). Although the new Black Widow comic book series didn’t thrill me, I think if they did this with a little more 007 flair, I could really get into it. And, come on admit it, the first Captain America movie was sub par and everyone is seeing this one because Marvel cinematic universe is a steam roller at this point +special effects +ScarJo is there. A Black Widow movie would do just fine. (PS Scarlett Johansson is expecting her first child, congrats!) But a recent essay on Storm over at KissMyWonderWoman  about Storm made me think about how rad it would be to have a X-Men movie that followed Ororo and Yuriko. They became fast friends under Claremont’s pen, and it would make sense since Yuriko followed Wolverine to the US after The Wolverine. I’m just saying: you should make that. Come on 20th Century Fox.

We get details about Terminator: Genesis (2015), which will revisit big moments from the first 2 movies. So it’s not remake, but an in continuity retcon. I think. According to MovieHole:

“Firstly, we will indeed be revisiting the events of the original 1984 film again. The ‘Terminator’ from the future will arrive on earth, attack some punks (keen to see who they get to play ‘Bill Paxton’), and then slaughter his way through a bunch of Sarah Connors’ – until he finds the correct target. And all the characters that appeared in the Cameron original, like Detective Hal Vukovich (played by Lance Henriksen in the original), Lieutenant Ed Traxler (played by Paul Winfield way back when), Sarah’s roomie Ginger (Bess Motta in the ’84 film) and, yep, even Pugsley the Iguana, return. So, yep, we’ll likely get to see Schwarzenegger back in the leather jacket and cool sunglasses he wore in the original. And, of course, Kyle Reese (Courtney) volunteers to go back to 1984 and save Sarah – just as he did first time around. But don’t expect everything to work out like it did in the original.. something is going to play out different.”

How (or ‘if’) they’re going to explain the THREE decades older Schwarzenegger, reprising his 1984 role, I don’t know. Which of course makes Hugh Jackman’s recent comments about his days as Wolverine being numbered slightly ironic. Days of Future Past will be his 7th time as the adamantium boned hero since 2000’s X-Men. Jackman recently told IGN “Look, that’s inevitable, man. Anyone who thinks they’re indispensable in this business is fooling themselves.”

And it all comes back to Marvel heroes again: Pumped for Agents of SHIELD’s return tonight? Bill Paxton drops in for tonight’s episode. Check out Comic Book Resources interview with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tanchareon where they discuss May and Ward’s relationship, epic guest stars and tiny hints about what’s in the works. Still not OFFICIALLY renewed, though.

Photos from Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For emerge, the older -and blonder Jessica Alba is smoking hot as usual. ❤ ❤ Jessica Alba.

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Harley Quinn #2

Helter Shelter

Dr. Harleen Quinzel still has a price tag on her head, and while she gets to lay the smack down on some hired guns most of this issue is centered around Harley organizing a heist… to save animals from being euthanized. Adorbz. And while she’s getting her animal rights on, she calls eco-terrorist BFF Dr. Pamela Isley. Our favorite Gotham PhD’s liberate some animals and then snuggle up all the while Harley tries to figure out what’s going on here.

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All the while dealing with real world issues like waiting for a fridge to be delivered so that rotting corpse quis stinking up the place.

I loved that Harley got a visit from my favorite Gotham anti-hero Poison Ivy. But I dislike the way Chad Hardin and Stephane Roux went with her look;

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Tribal tattoos? argh… 

but the personalities are right, constantly playing off each other: pranking, flirting, teamwork and girl power! oh HELL yeah! I’m about to ask writer Amanda Conner to be my Valentine… hmm.. would co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti like that? Poison Ivy even comes up with a scheme to fake Harley’s death and let her collect on the reward, but Harley decides to go the direct route -you know, wrapping would be assassins in sausage and throwing him to the dogs.

While both Harleen and Pamela tend to be morally ambiguous villainesses and occasional good guys.. there’s an odd subtext.. Poison Ivy loves plants more than people, something that’s been proved many times before and Harley’s main storyline of this issue was rescuing pups and kitties (and in issue 1 she adopted a dog and slammed down an animal abuser). Point being: these characters are shown protecting animals or the environment and are portrayed as deviants. Of course no one wants ancient oaks or wide eyed beagles to bite the dust but often activists are presented as radicals or extremists in an effort to alarm other would be do-gooders. I find it endearing from HQ but the stereotype in general is detrimental when the “Green Scare” is a very real thing. To the point where people have been baited by the FBI and charged to decade long jail sentences for THINKING about planning a crime. 

Everyone loves Harley and Ivy but they are the Dark Knight’s adversaries, so what message are we sending about opposers of animal cruelty? By using the unstable Harley as an ALF avatar is the message being sent that environmental and animal rights activists are all nutjob wackos?

Or is this a way for the outrageous Quinn to seem more innocent and sweet?

What do you think?

THROWBACK ATTACK! Wolverine TPB!

Frank Miller/Chris Claremont

Wolverine #1-4 and Uncanny X-Men #172-173

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The Wolverine was (SO loosely) based on these comics. 

There’s actually far less of a segway between that stuff with the bear and Wolverine going to Japan in the source material. Also in the comics Yukio and Wolverine get close. And Wolverine doesn’t lose his regenerative powers. And the Silver Samurai is a totally different person. And there’s no nanites. And the rest of the X-Men show up. Yeah… the only thing the same is the names of people and that it is set in Japan.  

But I digress. Wolverine comes off of the mountain to see Mariko who he loves. She’s married. Her husband abuses her. Wolverine has to save her. Against her will. As the daughter of a wealthy and powerful man she is also heir to his legacy. And she is bound by tradition and honor. Stuff that the loner and berserker Wolverine wouldn’t understand. (Which his friend Osada recognizes while still saying that Wolverine is the “most Japanese Westerner he ever met” -what?!) 

After fighting her father and her father leaving Wolverine for dead, Wolvie meets Yukio. Who is more wild and slightly more agile than in the film. Wolverine and Yukio get together until Wolverine finds that she was plotting against him and in cahoots with The Hand (Japanese mafia assassins). Mariko’s half brother tries to take control of the business by becoming the Silver Samurai. Viper poisons people. But in the comics it’s Rogue who- after recently inheriting Carol Danver’s powers considers herself invulnerable- saves the lot of them. While that’s going on, an out of control Ororo makes friends with Yukio and get’s her first mohawk. 

I hadn’t read these before (spare me) and I’m glad I did. The art is simple and fantastic. Without relying on backgrounds and tech much is explained through just facial expression or hands… but Wolverine’s narration is sometimes a little much.

With Yukio’s consciousness living on in Ana Cortes and Brian Wood’s X-Men- as well as Storm’s punk rock ‘do, The Wolverine based off this collection and all the nerd points I just earned this was definitely worthwhile. Only downside is the collection ends without it all wrapped up and there’s this weird stuff with reincarnated Jean Grey mixed in but there was bound to be something since these stories spanned years. 

If the movie was more closely based on the comics it would still have barely passed the Bechdel Test but it would have, because Yukio and Storm hit it off so well. Why did Kitty cry about Storm’s haircut, though? I’m baffled.

 

PrinceLESS #1

I was light on comics to pick up, so I decided to just grab some stuff. And I was sifting through NES cartridges when out of the corner of my eye I see this bright pink comic on the All-Ages shelf. I don’t usually read “all ages comics”, or “girl comics” or “fairytale comics.” 

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So in this story we have a Fairytale Princess. And this fairytale princess is of color. Unfortunately this is so notable because of representations of Princesses including but not limited to those by Disney whose single foray into having a black/African American princess left the heroine as a swamp animal for most of the movie without any princess privileges. And spare me the “but Tiana worked hard” or “it was realistic” because No. It wasn’t. And frankly it doesn’t matter: There were so many discussions about whether or not Disney could have used an African folktale for the story or if they made the right move by setting it this way and the correct answer is that they could have done both or neither: EverAfter/StoryLand worlds are make believe and everyone should be included. No one living in 2014 America recognizes themselves culturally with dragons or castles or birthright. And yet for some reason these movies repeatedly come out with white characters as if this is something logical because it’s realistic or historical because it has an origin in some Northern European country. And writers, artists, animators, marketing execs and whoever else can handle that movie/comic/TV fans can suspend disbelief for talking snowmen, fairy godmothers, magic spells, etc., but do not think the masses can handle a princess being a different race than the one in the original literature written hundreds of years ago? OH Spare me. People who actually have a problem with it should be banished to 1280 AD. 

Plotwise: We start off with a story within a story: a fair maiden with arms like pipecleaners getting saved from a tall tower guarded by a dragon by her one true prince. And they live happily ever after. Oh Joy! Princess Adrienne doesn’t buy it. And she tells her mother so. Her mother is nonplussed. The practice of locking Princesses in towers to be saved by the most valiant of knights who will prove himself brave and worthy enough to rule is accepted. She figures Adrienne will get over it (she doesn’t) and she gets locked in a tower when she turns 16 (after being drugged by her parents). 

While stuck in her tower, she writes so she doesn’t “go stupid” and scolds both the dragon and princes below. One such prince shows up and says he seeks a “fair maiden.” She tells him that “fair” means “white.” She calls him a moron, then says, “You’re so anxious to take a wife! Why don’t you take a book first? Work your way up.” 

Through a series of events she ends up teaming up with the dragon that ‘s guarding her tower (by telling him that he’s part of a system that is detrimental to him!), gearing up, and setting out to free princess from towers! 

The real gem in this feminist dream? 

The end of the comic has a mini story that features a Prince, forced to go through Charm School to learn how to save princesses who finds out that it’s not all he hoped it would be. 

Because patriarchy is bad for everyone. HOLY GUACAMOLE!

I picked up the $1 reissue of this and I cannot wait to find the rest because it is both fun and insightful. And Adrienne is dressed like Princess Peach which has nothing to do with anything really, I just thought that was cool. I know I focussed in on all the social justice stuff. But really the overall plot is a spunky action-chick who teams up with a dragon (to rebel against society). Come on. that is so rad.

I don’t even give stars for comicbooks and this gets 5 Stars