Friday, October 26, 2007

Did I Miss Something About Brave and Bold? Did YOU?

Sometimes I get comics late; time and finances don't always allow me to hop into the shop every Wednesday as they unpack the boxes and stock shelves.

So it's been a couple days at least since Brave and the Bold #7 was released to the world, I assume. Plenty of time for the fast-moving blog world to comment. But a scan of the Oct. 26 When Fangirls Attack shows no mention of it.

Now, I realize that there's a couple more distressing issues to talk about, such as Big Barda's death (and I'm kinda down about that myself, truth be told) or Tigra's beatdown.

But can it be? No love for Wonder Woman and Power Girl teaming up? No kudos for a story which features neither being hogtied or in sexy bondage or defeated and at the helpless mercy of men? Oh sure, there's some MINOR SPOILER ALERT mind control, but the villain never uses it to compel anyone to strip naked and jog in place.

George Perez draws lovely heroines, but unless you have issues with the basic costume structures in the first place, he doesn't over-exaggerate the sexyness.

Mark Waid's written a story where Wonder Woman and Power Girl kick ass and save Superman from a imaginatively horrible death, in about as undemeaning a fashion as I think is possible without swinging all the way to preachy-feminism mode.

It's a fun, fairly breezy comic, probably suitable for kids (well, maybe not real little kids, the Superman bit was creepy), containing no message I can see that would have failed the Comics Code, yet containing little of the chauvinism extant when the Code was formed.

And not a peep out of anyone I've seen going, "Yes! This is how it should be done!"

Last time I noticed Waid's name in the WFA-oriented blogs, it was regarding some old story that was maybe not so thoughtful about the relationship between AIDS and gays and such. So maybe Waid's being snubbed for that or some other offense. And while I enjoyed the comic, it hardly is going to set the world aflame with its genius or depth.

Still... wouldn't you think that if the complaints are about overly sexified, fetishy heroines, misogyny of various stripes, and an unsuitability for the younger audience, particularly girls, then shouldn't a comic that avoids all these things be singled out for praise?

What does it say if I have to do it myself?

11 comments:

zhinxy said...

Well... It was a decent comic, with some lovely art, and some wonderfully clever lines, but LOTS of the comics I buy every month feature decent female portrayals, and nothing really offensive to my feminist sensibilities.

And I like my peej a little less belligerent than she was in this comic, though I'm not about to start calling misogyny, on those grounds. ;)


Just because you, me, or anybody else sees an issue as a shiny moment for feminism doesn't mean everybody else is blind or overly negative for not stampeding over themselves to praise it...

From what I can tell, it's getting Good/Above Average reviews for the most part. It's not a standout comic in most people's minds, and I think that only because...

Well, It's good, but not great! Can't wait to see how the Challengers Of The Unknown bit is gonna play out, though, and if this story builds momentum, and the female characters really, really get to shine, there very well might be a lot of attention paid to it.

Hey, I hardly think the problems with mainstream comics are so bad that I have to rejoice and declare special every SINGLE time I'm not offended by one! Every SINGLE time my heroines are portrayed as heroic! That would be... Well, a lot of rejoicing, and I hate to wear myself out!

James Meeley said...

Hey, I hardly think the problems with mainstream comics are so bad that I have to rejoice and declare special every SINGLE time I'm not offended by one! Every SINGLE time my heroines are portrayed as heroic! That would be... Well, a lot of rejoicing, and I hate to wear myself out!

And yet, the complainers never seem to have that problem with every single time something DOES offend them. Seems there's no "worn out" threshold for the hating, just the rejoicing.

I find that interesting... and perhaps a little telling, as well.

zhinxy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zhinxy said...

I think you might have just missed my point, Mr. Meeley.

I'll squeal my head off for a long, long time about a comic I find VERY good. I'll still praise Sandman and Doom Patrol to the highest heavens any day of the week, for example. What I was saying is that I don't give a big whoop simply because a comic was good, or because a comic was simply bad.

I notice a mostly "shrugging" response to the events of Countdown #27, for example. Not an outpour of ready-to-go-the-second-a-woman-gets-it
outrage.

I also note a great of anticipation for Gail Simone's run on WW, and I dare to predict that will be a wide rejoicing. ;)

And I think the fact that the outrages are more focused, more heated, and more widely discussed than the things that please has to do with the fact that comics fans, even *gasp* feminist comics fans...
Are fans of different things.

They focus their attention on different characters, different writers, different companies. So, a fan may devote a great deal of their time to praising Green Lantern, Ms Marvel, Catwoman, The Spirit, ETC... (Regardless of what others are praising.)

And then come across an image or plot-point from a comic they don't usually read. One they find to be a sexist portrayal.

And they may express their anger, not because this is a title or characters they are fans of, but because they are genuinely offended by it. Because they believe that something was wrong, and they have every right to criticize it.

And if the scene or plot point or what-have-you in question offends enough people, a very diverse array of people will speak out about it.

And that is more a sign that something really does offend a lot of people, than a sign that people are not as willing to give out praise when they feel praise is called for.

Write a Techno-pop song that's very good, you'll please me and the other Techno-pop geeks. Write a techno-pop song that many find sexist, and people who don't like Techno-pop may devote time to expressing their distaste with it.

They will do so because they feel a need to speak out against perceived injustice, and they have every right to do so.

They don't deserve to be called out for not praising things I like, just because they criticize something they find objectionable.

Let them reserve their praise for what THEY like...

Anon, A Mouse said...

"And they may express their anger, not because this is a title or characters they are fans of, but because they are genuinely offended by it. Because they believe that something was wrong, and they have every right to criticize it."

"Write a Techno-pop song that's very good, you'll please me and the other Techno-pop geeks. Write a techno-pop song that many find sexist, and people who don't like Techno-pop may devote time to expressing their distaste with it."

Personally (and understand that this is just my own personal opinion, not how I think the universe should be run, or mandate from heaven or anything like that), I think in the latter case, the world could do with a lot less of non-Techno-pop people griping about things that go wrong with Techno-pop. Or people who dislike country bitching about something that offends them in a country song. Not that it isn't their right to say "I find this objectionable", but that it seems to me to be less of genuine outrage and more of outrage for outrage's sake.

Many people who commit themselves to some sort of idealism (feminism, for example, but also things like animal rights, environmentalism, anti-abortion, pro-choice, religion, I could go on forever) seem devoted to commenting on perceived wrongs that come to them second-hand (even third-hand) lest they lose their idealist "cred". It's easy for something like that to bloom into a wave of negativity that may or may not be justified by the impact of the original event.

"Just because you, me, or anybody else sees an issue as a shiny moment for feminism doesn't mean everybody else is blind or overly negative for not stampeding over themselves to praise it..."

Perhaps not, but it certainly could seem that way. How many countless comments on Heroes for Hire #13, and how many for Bold and Brave #7? There's a disproportionate tilt towards the negative, if not in what is actually felt, then in what actually gets expressed.

And I conceded that B&B#7 isn't going to be held up as an example of BEST COMIX EVAR, but still, Wonder Woman and Power Girl have been singled out for their depictions lately, so it's mildly surprising to me when I don't see anyone else saying "This is a lot better then Michael Turner, at least!" or something along those lines...

James Meeley said...

I think you might have just missed my point, Mr. Meeley.

No, I don't think I did. I merely commented to a part of what you said, in relation to the topic anon himself was stating.

And as for your very well-written reply, for which I thank you, I was going to respond, but anon pretty much said everything I was going to (and probably a lot more succintly than I might have, too). So, I don't think I really have any more to add, that hasn't already been said.

zhinxy said...

Many people who commit themselves to some sort of idealism (feminism, for example, but also things like animal rights, environmentalism, anti-abortion, pro-choice, religion, I could go on forever) seem devoted to commenting on perceived wrongs that come to them second-hand (even third-hand) lest they lose their idealist "cred". It's easy for something like that to bloom into a wave of negativity that may or may not be justified by the impact of the original event."

Oh, you and I are in quite a bit of agreement here. There is a culture of too much outrage all over this country, I agree.

And comics fans seem to be a particularly easy-to-anger bunch. Still, I just can't help but prickle up when I think I see women being unfairly singled out for criticism on this front.

Way I see it, I can bitch about what I wanna bitch about, and everybody else can too. But I think all of fandom has a bad case of entitlement, not just the feminist segment. I could stand to see a little more positivity from ALL of us, anymore.



Have a good one, Anon.

Mr. Meeley: I wasn't sure you had taken me the wrong way, but I just wanted to make myself clearer. I'm a Ramblin' Woman... ;)

James Meeley said...

Way I see it, I can bitch about what I wanna bitch about, and everybody else can too. But I think all of fandom has a bad case of entitlement, not just the feminist segment. I could stand to see a little more positivity from ALL of us, anymore.

I can pretty much agree with this. That's why I use my blog for fun, rather then serious commentary or critical analysis. I figure the best way to comabt the overly negative vibe so many others seem to indulge in, is to provide the very opposite at my blog. But like you, I'd like to see more from others on this front, as well.

As for "singling out" feminist comic fans, I think the problem is that, unlike some overly entitled fan, who complains about whatever they don't like, feminist fans seem to be trying (and in some cases succeeding) to get much more organized. While that certainly has some pluses going for it, it also makes them a much easier target to see potential problem from when things go too far.

This why I've always said that if you want to join a group or cause, you should understand that may mean curbing some of your own personal feelings on things, for the sake of the group/cause. Maybe you got ticked off at that H4H cover (just to use a recent example), but will sounding off help the goals of your group/cause? Will the potential people you might turn away or anger with your ranting, be off-set by some benefit for the group/cause in the immediate future?

Personally, I think anon really made a good point in that, if you aren't a fan of a series or work, even if something done with it offends you, you might be better off thinking if it is really worth it to "go off" about it.

To use his own example, I'm no fan of country music. And I'm sure if I listened to it, I'd find things that would be offesnsive to me in it. But since I'm not a fan of it, I can much more easily just ignore ALL country music and leave it to the fans of it to "clean it up" or not. Because, while I might be offended by something in the music, it isn't something I listen to anyway. And even if they removed what I took issue with, I still am not going to listen to it. It's more or less the same with comics.

I'd be willing to bet, dollars to diamonds, that less than HALF the feminist comic fans who complained about the H4H cover even read the series at all. And if it would have been altered as a result of the "outrage," those who aren't reading it and complained still would not have bothered to pick it up. Thus, what reasoning would Marvel have had to change it? Just so a bunch of folks who already aren't reading the book wouldn't complain about it? Certainly would make much sense, business or otherwise.

Anyway, I'm glad that you made your points clearer, even though I pretty much got you straight the first time. Lord knows I've been involved with a lot of folderol, when someone doing what you did could have saved us all a lot of hurt feelings and grief. Thanks for taking the high road. I truly appreciate it. :)

Gargoylekitty said...

((it was actually a 10/17 release))I wrote a bit of a review though personally I didn't care for it. Powergirl complaining about Wondy every few moments right up until the end when suddenly 'all is well' and an overused mind control storyline. Nothing special.

Anon, A Mouse said...

Gargoylekitty:

You know, I think there's more to your comment than meets the eye, but I'm not sure if I can put my finger on it just yet.

Every so often, when someone links to something that sounds interesting, I'll go check out scans_daily or some other site where someone's posted old comics, and often someone goes "oh why aren't today's comics more like this?"....and when the comics ARE "more like that", it's "*shrug* eh."

The biggest difference is in production values and in the fact that there's not nearly as much in the way of unintentional subtexts in newer comics (but give it a few decades, I'm sure "punching mummies" will be a euphemism for something naughty).

Still: broadly-painted, simplistic characterizations, light on continuity, pretty-much contained in one episode, these things kind of DEFINE old superhero comics.

Now, okay, maybe not everyone wants a return to exactly that kind of old-school storytelling. But when someone gripes about how Wonder Woman is a feminist icon and shouldn't be treated "like that" in some modern comic, and they point to older comics to show how it was done better, sometimes I wonder if they know what they're really saying. For example:

http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/4322858.html

Old-school WW was a bit stranger than many people realize...

James Meeley said...

Every so often, when someone links to something that sounds interesting, I'll go check out scans_daily or some other site where someone's posted old comics, and often someone goes "oh why aren't today's comics more like this?"....and when the comics ARE "more like that", it's "*shrug* eh."

Anon:

That all goes back to something (I believe) Stan Lee said. He said, "Never give the audience what they want. Give them what they THINK they want."

I guess there might be some truth to that bit of wisdom.