Red Sonja #9

This was an interesting issue. Sonja is collecting the third artisan for the dying pharoah’s last party. This time, the person that she is seeking is a high priced prostitute. Sonja’s been all work and no play and the beautiful specimens in the brothel are a sight for the travel worn, cold and horny Sonja. But the madam tosses out Sonja’s muddy, saddle-rashed arse. Sonja has recently been robbed and can’t afford to pay.

Sonja scales the wall and breaks into Aneva’s room. She momentarily reflects that Aneva is the “Princess of Passion” that she sells her body. “I suppose it’s not much different than what I do, what any soldier does.” And the truth of that really struck me. The complaints about sex work are usually: “but that’s selling your body” (as if at any job you are not selling a piece of yourself), “You’re opening yourself up to violence/injury or disease”. The comparison is also made often between sex work and modelling or athletics, but in the case of expected violence: soldier would be a closer match. 

Obviously, I have thought about this before, but for those who haven’t it is intriguing.

Aneva is hesitant to leave, she’s trying to unionize the escorts so that they can protect themselves from exploitation, theft and assault. 

Sonja tells Aneva about the pharaoh and his slaves. She needs Aneva’s help to see that the slaves are freed. Aneva agrees and they set out. 

Sonja’s been feeling the negative effects of herown life style and agrees to let Aneva give her a makeover. Sonja is distraught, she could have been this beautiful if her tribe wasn’t killed, if she wasn’t enslaved, if she wasn’t driven to the life she leads. The pair get caught up and when the greedy and vengeful Ferox arrives. Ferox is the man who claims to protect the prostitutes but abuses them himself and takes a cut of their income. He sees Sonja dolled up and assumes she is another “plaything.”

“My name, you lackwit doughy-faced ape. Is Red Sonja.”

A melee ensues and Sonja strikes down Ferox’s men, but it is Aneva who takes out Ferox himself. 

Turns out Aneva was named Toa, she grew up on a farm and her brothers taught her how to fight. She was born poor, a skinny kid who worked herself to the bone. Sex work was a way out, but she always dreamed of a life like Sonja’s, of prestige, of rescuing damsels.

So the two had more in common than they thought.

Issue #9 touched on a few interesting sociological concepts. Legitimizing sex work, appearance/beauty norms and sexism, the myth of free will.

If sex workers were able to unionize it would be viewed differently. If sex work was viewed as work instead of criminal behavior, victims of abuse, robbery or harrassment would be able to report without fear of repercussion from law enforcement or reporting from health care workers. Sex work is just that: work. Many people in entry level jobs find their employment exclusionary, exploitative and leaving them with low chance for social mobility.  So how different is it

And in regards to my statement “the myth of free will” how much of a choice do people have in their own destiny? Now this isn’t dire, and this isn’t 100% BUT, as referenced by Sonja and Toa. Aneva is at risk of abuse and exploitation in the brothel, correctly; she places the fault on the abuser and not the victims and seeks to improve working conditions. Her alternative, the way she was raised, saw her already as hungry, struggling and at risk for victimhood by theft. Sonja never got to be feminine, nurturing or excessive because of the tragedies that befell her family. In flashback in earlier issues, we saw that she was not born to be lethal, in fact she wouldn’t kill a rabbit for supper. She would have been soft, but her life circumstances wouldn’t allow it. Both women became who they are because it necessary for their own survival. So there’s a little musing on agency vs destiny. Free will is a myth because everything we go through influences the way our brains make decisions, we don’t have as many options as some would want us to believe. That’s why after Sonja’s family was killed she didn’t decide “Oh hey, I’m going to be a high priced escort”

And on to sexism and conventionally beauty norms, this is actually coming full circle: this discussion came up recently in regards to Lara Croft’s “breast reduction” -what girl’s with big boobs can’t have adventures and PhDs? or in the case of the Big Bang Theory’s bubbly dreamer airhead and pretty girl Penny versus the genius and frumpy Farrah Fowler, or actual Farrah Fowler actress Mayim Bailik versus pretty redhead science mascot Kari Byron (both here). Or: in the actual world, Iowa Supreme Court ruled it was legal for a dentist to fire his assistant because she was too beautiful. So from both men or women, as a society conventionally attractive women are view as being less smart, less capable and beauty becomes a liability in professional careers. Sonja can still sling a sword even after her Cinderella makeover (if Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother were a sex worker).

Think about it.

Loki: Agent of Asgard #2

I returned home with my comic book haul today Image

 

And waffled about which freaking awesome thing I should read first. All of these will be reviewed soon, so, now you all know what’s coming. Anyway, I decided on Loki: Agent of Asgard #2 first. It was funny and wonderful for issue #1 and I am genuinely pumped about this book. Pumped!

And it was perfect to pick up because Loki is searching for Lorelei, who just made her appearance on the small screen yesterday at the end of Agents of SHIELD. Loki (the young Loki) is on a mission from the All-Mother to find a goddess, Lorelei. His mission leads him to a speed dating event in front of a snarky, heavily tattooed human lie detector. Loki regales the woman… with the truth (which involves his foster mother manifesting in a punchbowl and spilling herself on the carpet. He followed Lorelei using modern era tactics and found her running small cons and grifts in preparation for a casino heist. Lorelei uses her powers of distraction and seduction to fool and dazzle the security team and Loki pulls a bait and switch of his own. 

Loki’s former flame finds she’s been double crossed, she’s not impressed with the new version of Loki. Loki, not being entirely squeaky clean still steals stacks of cash from the vault. Lorelei, being thwarted and all, will be preying on the lovelorn, those willing to hand a beautiful woman their wallet, those who want to be hypnotized. Which is what brought him to the speed dating event featuring a who’s who of Marvel’s New York elite.. 

At the end we get a glimpse of Loki’s priorities. And Loki gets a new friend. A new friend he can’t lie to. 

As for the rest of his cohorts: You can always trust a liar to lie, right? except when you can’t. 

This issue had hilarious cosplay jokes, it was funny and very lighthearted while tying in lesser known characters and creating a brand new one; Who I like a lot. I hope Loki becomes her neighbor. Al Ewing keeps the tone appealing and the pacing perfect, there’s still that time jump thing that I usually don”t like but it works here. Lee Garbett and Nolan Woodward nail the art and colors. The contrasts, reflections, lights and shadows are dynamic and do an amazing job of setting the tone. The facial expressions, too, it’s too much. Loki’s sly smirk, Verity and Lorelei responding to Loki’s antics… Well, just look:

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What did everyone think of Verity? Will there be more Lorelei? How come Loki just gets girls?

Anyway, just pick this up. It’s so good and it’s not too late to get in at the ground floor on this one, it’s wonderful.

Loki: “I’m all about starting over.”

Comicbook Catch-up Extravaganza! Numero Dos!

Featuring Army of Darkness vs. Hack/Slash #5, Lazarus #6, Ms. Marvel #1

Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #5

I’ve really enjoyed this series. Despite the chronic late release of the issues it really maintained momentum for me because I loved LOVED seeing Ash and Cassie play off of eachother. The 2 badasses breaking heads with their unconventional weapons, enemies and friends from each series. Fun. Good. This one flew in the frigging face of all of that. The end of last issue featured their hook-up. Cassie’s in a committed relationship with Margaret- so one of two things spring to mind for me: 1) she’s trying to confuse Ash or 2) the writer is a shallow idiot who thinks bisexuals are all sluts. Either way she’s deceitful. 

The duo get to Ancient Greece, turns out Britt the cult leader went back in time and met with Akakios who was an alchemist and “created the principals that the cult followed” and icing on the cherry hate cake? He killed Cassie’s old partner Vlad. They throw a wild party in Ancient Greece to attract Akakios and his cult and deadites and they burn ’em to a crisp. Cassie goes berserker and beelines for Akakios himself, “Changing the past is bad” Ash says, Cassie KO’s him and he knows he’s been played. But not only did she play Ash…she played Margaret. To “Bring back the only thing she ever loved. Vlad.” 

WHAT THEE FUCK?

Thankfully, issue 6 is the last. Because fuck all that shit. Ash and Cassie are now enemies at odds for possession of the Necronomicon.

Ms. Marvel #1

Kamala Khan, teenage supe, writer of Avengers fanfic, shapeshifter and Muslim. Her family is varying degrees of assimilating and she just wants to be a “regular teen” like her classmates and go to parties. So she sneaks out to a party with boys and booze on the waterfront. Her BFF Bruno tries to get her out of there, and she’s all “MYOB” and storms off.. then a crazy for starts to permeate the area. Kamala Khan gets KO’d and has a drugged out dream about the Avengers, and her homegirl, Captain Marvel. And she wishes, “I want to be beautiful and awesome and butt kicking and less complicated. I want to be you.” And Carol Danvers says, “All right, kid. As fate would have it, you’re about to get the kind of total reboot most people only dream about.”

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Epic debut. Kudos to G. Willow Wilson for calling out concern trolls and stereotypes. So pumped to find out what’s up with the fog, or what’s up with Captain Marvel being her fairy godmother. I repurposed that photo from Jeremy Roberts’s deviantart. http://jprart.deviantart.com/art/All-New-Ms-Marvel-412376037

Lazarus #6

Flashback again, to mini-Forever doing pushups on her thumbs and conjugating Latin verbs, she’s taking her training with Marisol too far.

In the present she wakes up to an alarm, takes her regimen and then she receives the text again. “He is not your father, this is not your family.” Joanna is still sporting a black eye and playing innocent. Flash to Montana, we see the family whose home was destroyed. The cost to rebuild will have them taxed out for the foreseeable future. Back in LA, a woman propositions the guards in exchange for food and others break in and set up a device to hack the keypad. They steal canisters of acetylene. Forever catches them in the act, but she directs her wrath at the guards taking advantage of a hungry woman. Forever asks her where the others have taken the canisters. And the Barrets leave Montana for Denver in hopes that their children can work for the Carlyles. Will this play an integral role? Will they start an uprising? Will Forever discover what’s really happening outside of her family? So many questions. 

Rucka has built this insane world. It’s bleak, it’s dark… and sadly, it’s very very real. Carlyles have infinite wealth and resources and meanwhile we see families giving up all they’ve got, their time, their dignity, their land, their children, they sell themselves out. It’s very blood and guts, but no major revelations this issue.

The Movement #9

Gail Simone does doubles down on the awesomeness as Batgirl infiltrates Coral City. Ms. Gordon is trying to track down a superpowered young man to turn over to the PD, but in the tweens; they don’t just hand over citizens to corrupt cops. Batgirl gets held back by Channel M kids and their “I see you” catchphrase.

Meanwhile, Virtue and Katharsis are reading Mouse for his “date” with Tremor. She’s still not buying it. Partially because of the rat in her heart shaped candy box. Vengeance Moth enters and tells the team that they’ve got their first real super in Coral City.

But Batgirl has done her homework and knows just wear to go to get the Movement’s attention. She quickly does, but instead of teaming up vigilate to vigilante, Batgirl threatens them. Says she could find some reason that The Movement should be incarcerated. Even to other vigilantes The Movement is too fringe, too anarchist! Katharsis busts in with a personal grudge, seems Babs took her down when she was working for Knightfall in Gotham as one of The Disgraced (funfact: Kulap Vilaysack AKA Katharsis is Gail Simone’s creation, she first appeared in Batgirl #10) They tire each other out some, and Batgirl proves to be the superior fighter… Then Virtue invites Barbara to partake in her fave problem solving technique, Milk Shakes and Donuts.

Elsewhere, Captain Meers and Yee -still banged up from his tussle with Whitt- are getting closer to discovering Virtue’s identity. Her current alias is Holly Rae Hunter, but in her past life she has seizures, she was “presumed dead” and her father was so depressed that he robbed a bank in a suicide by cop. Meers shot him.

So there they are in the diner with their capes and cowls, trying to get facts straight. Batgirl keeps staring at disabled supe Vengeance Moth who calls her out, “You keep staring at me. It’s okay, wheelchairs freak some people out, I guess.” Might I add- I totally loved this exchange, Batgirl was paralyzed by the Joker and became Oracle:

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Joined Birds of Prey, worked for the US government, helped the JLA and went toe-to-toe with able- and hyperable-bodied villains. She had been in a wheelchair since 1988’s the Killing Joke. When the New 52 but Babs back in her cape and cowl disability advocates went fucking nuts. And for good reason. Simone, for her part, said that she didn’t agree with disabling Batgirl to begin with- she was paralyzed by the Joker to advance the plot for the male heroes, and she feels that it wasn’t fair to keep her in a wheelchair while all these other characters were being regenerated and resurrected. So now Babs has a chip in her spine and did some serious rehab, which got her back to the vigilante lifestyle (Batman got his spine broke in the third Dark Knight film, he just got his suit upgraded, why should another member of the Batfamily have to deal with real world repercussions?). But I felt like Simone was calling herself out via her new -albeit minor- disabled superhero. 

They tell Batgirl she’s not going after her perp, Horizon. They’ll handle it. Batgirl protests and Katharsis KO’s her. They decide to take her back to the sweatshop and unmask her.

Which of course happened in Forever Evil with Nightwing.

Are The Movement setting themselves up to look like bad guys? What kind of heat is this going to bring?

In the final pages we see Horizon going too far.

What did you think of this issue? I really dug the cross over. And no matter where you side on the Oracle/Batgirl debate:

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