Legends of Red Sonja #4

The Grey Riders continue on their mission to get revenge against Red Sonja. They head into a village where they ask around.

Subscription cover by Frank Thorne

Subscription cover by Frank Thorne

Jenny’s Story: Parallax by Mercedes Lackey is told by a young woman who recalls being taken by perverts. Nei Ruffino creates images that show both what happened: On one side, panels lined with glitzy metallic accents show the girl in a tiara accosted by men with demon horns, the panel on the right shows scrappy dirty thieves and a messy haired boyish kid. Them becoming “sisters in arms” vs Sonja making Jenny haul the dead bodies. Nei Ruffino killed it on this one, the glittering memory vs the gritty truth, the art perfectly conveys this in a unique way.

The town considers Red Sonja an ally. And the Grey Riders are not amused. They continue into a forest. But the forest is home to a powerful being.

We see that Sonja has met this creature, this GOD before. God of the green, forest god, she rescued him and they shared a night of passion, after which he created a child in her image (actually, she looks like Poison Ivy, but whatever).

Little Red and her dad.

Little Red and her dad.

 

Very cool sort of gender role reversal. Sonja’s all “what the heck, why not have sex with a god” and he’s all “I want to have her babies”

Very rad. Marjorie M Liu, author of (among other things) urban fantasy series Dirk and Steele as well as Marvel’s X-23 series, circa 2010-2012. (I have a thing for X-23 right now, so I might have to find these), Phil Noto -who also teamed up with Liu on X-23- provided the art here and we get a more sultry and stunning Sonja, light and shadows bounce off characters and lush backgrounds beautifully and provide an ethereal feel.

Next month’s issue is the conclusion of this 40th anniversary celebration on our favorite chainmail bikini clad ginger, Legends of Fiction’s Legends of Red Sonja. At the very end of this one we see Red Sonja protecting the forest still taking out the Riders one by one. Will her daughter help chew them up? Or something else? I think that’s the most fun part of this series, you really never knew what you were getting next. Something serious, something funny, cartoon-y or gritty, magical, a treasure hunt, a scorned lover, a story told through the lens of jealousy or admiration.

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?

Is Academia Driving You Insane?

School has been back in session for a little bit now, too early yet to feel the crushing pressure of midterms…. seems the perfect time to ponder the legacy of students pushed too far in the horror/fantasy genre.

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(photo cred)

Last night before Radio of Horror, Dr. Chris and I were watching the Masters of Horror: Stuart Gordon episode, Dreams in the Witch House, in which Miskatonic University grad student Walter Gilman (played by Ezra Godden- who was also in the HP Lovecraft based Stuart Gordon directed film Dagon) fears he is going insane after he rents a room in an old boarding house which was the residence of a 17th Century witch. He balances helping out a fellow resident, Frances Elwood (played by Chelah Horsdale, recently featured in Cabin in the Woods, the Killing and Arrow- and Supernatural as Bobby’s momma) and her young son, school work… and uh, nightmares about witches and the possibility of an alternate dimension inside his walls.

In another HP Lovecraft/Stuart Gordon film, featuring another Miskatonic student, Re-animator, med students Herbert West and Dan Cain reanimate corpses and fight against the administration that tries to take credit for their “research.”

In the most recent incarnation of Poison Ivy’s origin story, college student Pamela Isley researches and creates her thesis around manipulating emotions with pheromones, she then gets an internship at Wayne Enterprises and Bruce thinks she’s out of her damn mind. She freaks and steals her research, accidentally dosing herself with the pheromones and giving herself the ability to control plant life.

Sliders, the late nineties sci-fi show, starring Jerry O’Connell, follows Quinn Mallory, Professor Arturo and friends as they slide through alternate dimensions after Physics student Quinn’s basement science project opens a portal to other dimensions. Poorly researched, the friends end up lost, screwing up their world and becoming embroiled in an interdimensional war.

What’s your favorite scifi/horror plot involving students driven astray or pushed to the brink of stability by their ambition?

Poison Ivy #1 + Ventrioquist #1 (FULL LENGTH BONUS RANT INCLUDED)

Before I get to the reviews. Let me just say, I was incredibly excited for these. I even got the collectible lenticular covers, OMG. Way to earn your nerd cookies, EightBit!

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The day before I picked these suckers up I had just reviewed The Movement #4, and I was all “Holy shit, diversity!”

And then Batwoman’s writers, W. Hayden Blackman and JH Williams III, quit over being told that they could not pursue long standing storylines in the way that they wanted. They felt as if it compromised their work, the story and the character. Among the scrapped story lines was Kate and Maggie’s marriage.

Now, how much this had directly to do with DC refusing to allow Batwoman to get married, and why: is DC opposed to the institute of privileging marriage (I wrote my thesis on that, BTW), or are they anti-gay? It’s easier to latch on to the more inflammatory option. However, not allowing the creative team to… well, create in a way that made Kate Kane a well rounded character is clearly a mistake. DC was willing to Let Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy flirt and have innuendo as a “joke” appealing to straight male fantasy… oooh sexy bad girls are they or aren’t they.  (More on Harley Quinn later.) DC, lesbians are not a joke for straight men to get hot and bothered to. Get your perverted shit together.

And then I was all, “oooh shiny!”

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Review time, comic book fans!

Poison Ivy #1/Batman Detective Comics #23.1

Gotham City is tearing itself apart. A city revealing it’s true nature. It’s return to nature.

There’s no Batman. The Justice League is dead, the Crime Syndicate has taken over.

Amid the chaos and anarchy, Pamela sees a man and woman fighting while their daughter hides. She flashes back to her similar childhood. Her mom used to hide out in the garden with Pam, her dad bought her mom flowers to apologize for beating up on her, thus she learned that flowers could manipulate people.. (this was not previously part of her origin, and frankly I am not a fan). In the middle of these flashbacks, including finding her mother buried in the garden at the hands of her father she finds the Gotham Botanical Gardens being burned down. You know it will end poorly for these suckers.

The story flashes back to her college years, where she seduced the dean. Her First kill, her father. And then her internship at Wayne industries where she seduce’s Bruce Wayne with her pheromone pills.

She pitches the idea of her plant based pills that trigger specially designed behavioral responses which can specifically target the needs of clients. Bruce Wayne fires her. He fires her and keeps the rights to her research so she can never pursue other firms.

It was during the struggle with the guards to get her hard work that she was doused in her formula. (I like this portion of the origin story better than her being dosed by a professor as an experiment).

During all of this, Poison Ivy is walking around followed by awe inspiring plant monsters, and she calls to the plants to take over the concrete. The issue ends with Commissioner Gordon confronting Ivy on the roof of Wayne Enterprises, he points a gun at he and she dives into the jungle she’s created, vowing that her green kingdom will flourish.

Good read, I don’t think that sad sack part with her family was necessary. Academia can drive you crazy enough. The art is great. Poison Ivy was always my favorite. It’s so true, the earth doesn’t need people, the plants will always grow, the earth will reclaim itself.

Ventriloquist #1/Batman the Dark Knight #23.1

Ventriloquist nails traumatic childhood with neglected twin Shauna. Living in her twin brother’s shadow drives her eight shades of crazy. Her brother was a child star while she was bullied and called “Shabby Shauna.” Sudden emergency of telekinetic powers mixed with angst and gallons of jealousy and Shauna throws her bully into the road and gets revenge on her brother, Ferdie. Then she meets a party clown with a ventriloquist dummy. She names him after her “poor dear, homely dead brother” and sets out to find her place in show biz.

With the lights out in Gotham she lights up a theater, entices an audience and starts a show that will stop their hearts. The Crime Alley Cretins try to take over the theater… yeah, it gets ugly. Shauna and Freddie wreak some serious havoc while cracking some sick jokes.

This storyline promises a continue in the pages of BatGirl!

Man what a creepfest.

A day later, of course, the internet exploded as an article called “Want to be a Dc Artist? Just draw Harley Quinn naked committing suicide.” Made the rounds. Let me be clear. I know Harley Quinn isn’t supposed to make good decisions or be a role model… but why does this mean she has to be hyper-sexualized and defeated? and not even cleverly so at that.

Look, DC here’s the deal: comic books are good. Everyone wants them. And we all want to feel represented. We know, we know, your core audience is straight white men who don’t know how to talk to girls… broaden your horizons. If you don’t allow your characters to have innovative storylines you can’t blame it on the audience.

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The Poison Ivy book would have been clever without killing off her mom (I know, her abusive dad taught her that flowers could manipulate people, it was her thesis! No. Still no).

Ventriloquist was dark creepy and was an interesting social commentary on the pressure society puts on girls to be beautiful. Not my favorite villain by any means, but a great story.