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DC Introduces First Transgender Character in Mainstream Comics:
Comic books keep making the mainstream news lately. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but we’re going to take a look at the latest development.
In the final pages of Batgirl #19 Barbara Gordon confesses a lot of things to her roommate Alysia Yeoh. For some time Alysia has been concerned about Barbara’s erratic behavior. Barbara tells her about being shot and paralyzed by The Joker but stops short of telling Alysia that she’s Batgirl. Alysia then confesses to Barbara that she’s transgender.
The one thing that I like about this is DC Comics did not hype this prior to the release of the issue. If they did I didn’t see it so I was generally surprised by this outcome which comics need a lot more of. What I didn’t like is that felt forced. It reminded me of the episode of Law & Order where Elisabeth Rohm’s character, Serena Southerlyn, is fired by the D.A. and she replies was it because she’s lesbian and it had never been mentioned in the show prior to that. It feels like that DC Comics did it just for the sake of doing it.
For the most part I have no problem with the Alysia Yeoh character and her sexuality. What I would like to see is Alysia just be portrayed as a normal person that happens to be transgender. What I hope they don’t do is make her a caricature or have her be the victim of some uber-violent hate crime. That would cheapen the character and even a lot of main characters in comic books feel cheap already. You know, with the temporary deaths and all that.
However I have a bone to pick. A lot of people are saying that Alysia Yeoh is the first transgender in a mainstream superhero comic book and I beg to disagree. 20 years ago in the pages of Sandman, Neil Gaiman introduced the character of Wanda, a pre-op transgender woman who plays an integral part in the Game of You storyline.
Wanda from A Game of You.
You can’t argue that Sandman wasn’t a mainstream comic considering its impact on the comic community at that time. And while it may not be a superhero comic per se it did take place in the DC Universe proper and Dream did interact with the likes of Batman, Superman and Martian Manhunter. Wow, I sound like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.
Anyway all in all I feel like it was just there. Just not any reason to pick up or drop the title.
So another comic has made it into mainstream news again and once again it is involving the death of an iconic character. This time it’s Batman’s ever-present sidekick, Robin. But before we get into that here’s a little comic history lesson for those of you who either don’t follow comics or haven’t followed in a while.
The original Robin that we all know and love as portrayed by Burt Ward on the 1960s Batman TV show was Dick Grayson. In the late 1970s he grew up and became his own hero Nightwing.
He prefers to be called Richard now.
His replacement was Jason Todd who was infamously killed by the Joker and DC comics readers. He came back to life as the gun-toting Red Hood.
He was none too happy to find out that the Joker was still alive.
Jason Todd’s replacement was Tim Drake who relinquished the mantle of Robin to his successor and became Red Robin, at least in pre-New 52 continuity.
Unfortunately his New 52 costume isn’t as cool as the one with the cowl.
Which leads us to the current Robin, Damian Wayne. Damian is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul.
And he’s pretty badass for a 10-year-old.
Damian is the focus of my post here today.
***BEYOND HERE LAY SPOILERS***
You can catch up on our faceless hero by reading my last post on The Question.
So now The Question has made a more fleshed out appearance so to speak in the pages of Phantom Stranger #5.
While The Phantom Stranger battles The Spectre over the disappearance of Stranger’s adopted family. The Question appears mysteriously in the lab of Dr. Terrence Thirteen. Thirteen actually calls him The Question and says that the only thing he knows about him is that Question was part of The Trinity of Sin along with Stranger and Pandora. Meanwhile Dr. Thirteen has amassed dossiers on the other two. Thirteen contacts Stranger and implies that he has information about his family. He says he doesn’t have an answer but more like a question. Heh.
This version of The Question maintains his 1930s detective like trappings along with his lack of a face. Whether or not this is a mask or his face has been permanently made this way by the Council of Wizards remains to be seen as. Also unknown at this point if he will be going by the name of Vic Sage or not. However he does speak all in questions which is kind of neat in an Etrigan sort of way.
As I’ve mentioned before this is a big departure from The Question’s roots. In the 1960s he was intended as an objectivist by his creator Steve Ditko. In the 1980s he was reimagined as a zen detective always looking for knowledge as written by Denny O’Neil. So a 2010s New 52 Question based more than likely in magic may not be a bad thing. I say that with trepidation because other things that have appeared in the New 52 era have looked promising and turned out to be a let down. Red Hood, I’m looking at you.
But Trench, didn’t you bemoan the fact that The Question gained new magical powers in the 2005 miniseries, asked no one. Yes I did, but that was different. That was still in the pre-New 52 universe where The Question did not have magical powers, was never explained how he got them and was never spoken of again. In this incarnation The Question starts out in the realm of magic.
So I’m still hoping that The Question will be a decent character this time around much like he was in the 52 series.
For the story so far check out my review of Amazing Spider-Man #700 and yes here there be spoilers.
I really liked this issue. I love how the Doc Ock controlled Spider-Man was not only annoyed that someone else would dare call themselves the Sinister Six but how effectively he dealt with them and how he did it with such style. I loved every page of this comic book until the last two.
In my ASM 700 review I said that eventually Peter Parker’s subconscious would over take Octavius’ and Spider-Man would be back to normal. When I meant eventually I didn’t mean right the hell now. For the next year or so are we really going to see Pete in Jedi ghost mode being the angel on Doc Ock’s shoulder? I hope the hell not and I hope that Marvel has something else up their sleeve that will keep this comic exciting.
I know what you’re saying. “Trench. two comic posts in a row? Have you gone insane?” Possibly but that’s beside the point.
Every once in a while a comic book makes mainstream news. The last time it was Action Comics #900 when Superman supposedly renounced his American citizenship. This time it’s Amazing Spider-Man 700, the issue where Peter Parker dies. If you think that’s a spoiler you’ve been living under a proverbial rock as it was leaked weeks prior to the issue coming out. But in case you haven’t read the issue yet…
***SPOILER SENSE TINGLING***
Anyway the story goes that Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock) has switched bodies with Spider-Man. The drawback for Spider-Man is that Doc Ock is mere moments away from dying. Spider-Man valiantly tries to get hos own body back but it’s for naught as Doc Ock’s body finally gives out and takes its last breath. But before dying Spider-Man establishes a mental link with Doc Ock and floods his mind with Peter Parker’s memories, most importantly the moment where Uncle Ben tells Peter that with great power comes great responsibility. At that point Doc Ock promises to become an even better Spider-Man than Parker was.
This issue has caused some outrage in the comic boom community even resulting in the sending of death threats to the issues writer.
Now as geeky as I can get I actually thought this issue and the upcoming story of Doc Ock living Peter Parker’s life is a breath of fresh air. It’s a new and interesting take on the body swap concept which normally I detest. But let me try to soothe the nerd outrage that’s been going on.
This is obviously not going to be permanent. The Death of Superman taught us that death is only temporary with almost any character. This will probably be a year-long storyline where Doc Ock tries to be a better Spider-Man but realizes he doesn’t have it in him and when he’s just about to do something so vile and heinous it would make Dr. Doom crap his metal tunic Peter Parker’s memories and personality start a mental battle inside his mind and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man returns.
So basement dwellers, take it easy. Ol’ Pete will be back in no time and all will be right with the comic book world again. Anyway as right as it can be.
Yeah, I know. Most people don’t like my comics posts but tough titties. If there’s a comic out there that I think deserves attention I’m going to post about it and such a comic came out last week. That comic was Deathmatch #1 by Boom Studios.
It’s a truly amazing comic. 32 of Earth’s mightiest heroes and villains are forced to fight each other to the death by unknown entities. The comic is filled with pastiches of some of the greatest heroes ever created. Part of the fun with Deathmatch is trying to figure out which characters they are based on. Some are obvious while others are downright cryptic.
I expected a lot of blood and gore but was pleasantly surprised that this wasn’t what this title is about. It’s an amazingly well written title that does a great job of establishing its own pantheon of heroes. Plus it also comes with its own Deathmatch bracket.
I can’t recommend this comic enough and it’s only a buck. What do you have to lose?
***NO QUESTION ABOUT IT, THERE ARE SPOILERS***
I know. I haven’t been blogging about comics in a while. There’s a couple of reasons for that. The first is that my regular crime readers aren’t that interested in comics. That’s cool. No worries there. The other is that because of my real world responsibilities I no longer have the time. While I do some comics stuff over at my G+ page for the most part I’ve been reduced to a weekend blogger and comics were the first subject to get cut.
However, something happened this week that filled my geek heart with glee but then a sense of dread and it happened in Justice League #0. Not only did this issue finally have Billy Batson finally get the powers of Shazam but it marked the return of my favorite comic book character of all time. It’s the character that inspired my original internet pseudonym of TheTrenchcoat. I am of course referring to the fedora and trench coat wearing and no face having, The Question.
While I’m happy to see his return the lack of elaboration in the issue has me worried a little bit. In the New 52 The Question was one of the Trinity of Sin along with the Phantom Stranger and Pandora. It hasn’t been made clear what his sin was but he was punished by the Council of Wizards to be always questioning his identity and they removed his face. Yes, you read that right, wizards. Our intrepid faceless crime fighter may have magical powers although I hope he doesn’t. I was really hoping for a return to his original objectivist ways as was intended by his creator Steve Ditko. I would have even been happy with his 1980s zen outlook from the Denny O’Neil run on his comic. There is a glimmer of hope though. In this incarnation it was briefly alluded to that he may be written as his Justice League Unlimited animated counterpart. The conspiracy minded detective who can see commonalities that even the great Batman can’t.
Will his character be a New 52 success or will it be just another failed reboot? That my friends is the question.
I haven’t been a huge fan of this crossover however AVX #8 gives me what I’ve been longing for in this series, superheroes beating the crap out of each other. You take Namor and give him godlike powers through The Phoenix and then have him attack the country of Wakanda and then have the entire roster of The Avengers pound on him and it makes a good comic. I mean Namor gave the Red Hulk a compound fracture. That’s pretty badass.
So Captain Marvel #1 was released this week. This is the former Ms. Marvel taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel. Like I said last week this could be a great chance for Marvel to have a strong female lead character and fill the void left by DC’s retooling of Power Girl. I really wanted to like this issue but it was just so boring and I didn’t care for the artwork wither. It’s good but I didn’t think it was appropriate for this kind of comic. I’m not giving up though. I just hope Marvel can do a little better with this character.
Red Hood and the Outlaws are now in space. Great. Remember how well that worked out for Josie and the Pussycats? Plus DC has taken the character of Starfire and made her the complete opposite of who she was before the reboot. As I keep saying Red Hood should be the Punisher of the DC Universe instead not only does he have the stink of magic on him but he’s in flippin’ space. This title has the potential to be great but instead it will find itself in the discount rack if it’s not retooled.
Yep, it’s Frank Castle in space but it’s not as goofy as it sounds. It’s basically The Punisher mythos in a non-canon story set in a science fiction universe. I loved it because it reminded me a lot of the science fiction comics of the 60s that were published by independent companies.
Of course we have to talk about Before Watchmen once again and this week it was Minutemen #2. Did I miss Rorschach #1. Anyway, so far the Minutemen comic has been my favorite of the series so far and does not disappoint. I really like how that the Minutemen that didn’t get much face time in the original Watchmen are being fleshed out today so to speak.
In Batman and Robin #11 Damian Wayne’s competition of the Robins continues when he takes on Jason Todd. Honestly I’d rather see this storyline take up most of the comic than the revenge on Batman by villains I’ve never hard of before storyline.
Lastly I want to talk about Avenging Spider-Man #9. Not so much for Spider-Man but for the new Captain (formerly Ms.) Marvel. Since DC dropped the ball on Power Girl in the New 52 I think Captain Marvel will now replace Power Girl in the hearts of fangirls everywhere.
Earth 2 is quickly becoming my favorite comic of The New 52. The retconning of the Golden Age heroes into modern-day badasses continues this week with Alan Scott becoming Green Lantern. Plus we also had the continuing confusion of Jay Garrick as The Flash and the introduction of Hawkgirl and hints of more heroes to come. I wouldn’t mind actually seeing Earth 2 become its own line of comic then I think back to Marvel’s New Universe of the 80s and realize that it wouldn’t be that successful.
Another comic worth talking about this week was of course from the Before Watchmen series, this time with Ozymandias. I really enjoyed the writing of Adrian Veidt’s origin up until the point where he donned his mask to avenge the drug overdose of his lover. He really didn’t seem like he was that devoted to her in order to have thoughts of vengeance. Or maybe she was just an excuse for him to show off his skills in public. I was not a fan of the art in this issue at all. It looked like that Adrian had a giant baby head for a head throughout most of the issue.
Lastly I want to talk about Batman: Earth One. It’s basically just another re-interpretation of Batman’s origin. Considering I was one of the few people who actually liked Superman: Earth One it’s no surprise that I liked this one. If you’re a fanboy who didn’t like the fact that it was The Joker who killed Batman’s parents in the 1989 Batman movie then you probably won’t like this. I really thought I was not going to like this since they made Harvey Bullock a fresh-faced detective full of life straight from L.A. but then the end of the story hinted on how he became the mess that we all know and love. Also this is non-canon so you can unbunch your underoos fanboys.