Geeky Women Happenings in Seattle: Ladies Night and Geek Girl Con

Recently, there’s been a lot of happenings in Seattle and geeky women.

The first was the local comic book store, Comics Dungeon had a Ladies’ Night on August 14th. There were cookies and comics. Lots of gabbing about our favorites books, and I met a lot of lovely ladies.

The following are some photos with me in them, snagged from Comics Dungeon’s Facebook page.

Ladies Comic Night at the Comics Dungeon Jennifer and Erica
Jennifer K. Stuller signing her book, Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors
Ladies Comic Nigh at Comic Dungeon Jennifer, Amanda, Erica, and Uhura
Gabbing about comics and being geek
Ladies Comic Night at the Comics Dungeon Jennifer, Amanda, Erica, and Uhura
OMG, ladis in the comic book store!

The second happening is the initial planning for Geek Girl Con. The convention date is TBD 2011 in Seattle, but will be a whole lot of fun. I’ll be directing marketing efforts for the convention. So stay tuned for more information.

14 (More) Amazing Women of Comics

A while ago, I wrote a post about Strong Women of Comics I Like and decided to do a follow-up with even more women. So here are 14 more amazing women characters of comics I like.

Misty Knight
Misty Knight

Who: Misty Knight
Why she’s amazing: First, she runs her own detective agency. Second, she has a bionic arm. Third, I’m pretty sure she’s engaged to Danny Rand and dating Colleen Wing. (Okay, the latter may just be wishful thinking on my part.)
Where to read about her: Unfortunately, the most recent revamp of Heroes for Hire wasn’t exactly a triumph for women characters. However, Misty rocked as a supporting character in Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja’s Immortal Iron Fist.
My comic reviews featuring Misty.
Kate "Batwoman" Kane
Kate Kane

Who: Kate “Batwoman” Kane
Why she’s amazing: She’s freaking Batwoman. She’s just as stubborn, strong, scary, and inventive as her male professional counterpart. Not to mention she has some cool tattoos.
Where to read about her: Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s most recent run on Detective Comics was fabulous. It includes Kate’s origin story and you don’t want to miss the art. She’ll be back with a solo series penned by Williams.
My comic reviews featuring Kate.
Angie Spica
Angie Spica

Who: Angie “The Engineer” Spica
Why she’s amazing: Angie is connected to machines and computers, but not overwhelmed by them. She retains herself. Angie’s also a kick ass fighter and a good friend.
Where to read about her: If you’re new to the Authority or Wildstorm in general, pick up Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s run on the Authority.
My comic reviews featuring Angie.
Kara Zol-l
Kara Zol-l

Who: Kara “Power Girl” Zor-l
Why she’s amazing: Kara is smart, kind, down-to-earth, and can move the earth. She runs her own business and saves the world. Plus, she has as super cool, sassy cat named Stinky.
Where to read about her: Check out her latest solo title by Justin Grey, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner; it’s fun and lives in its own world so don’t worry if you have no idea what a Black Lantern is. Plus, Conner’s art is amazing, which makes it even more sad that the creative team’s changing.
My comic reviews featuring Kara.
Tara Chace
Tara Chace

Who: Tara Chace
Why she’s amazing: Tara might be a super spy by trade, but that’s the way she’s helping the world. She won’t settle for second best or give up. Even when she’s been shot in the leg.
Where to read about her: Tara is the lead character in Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country.
My comic reviews featuring Tara.
Gwendolyn
Gwendolyn

Who: Gwendolyn
Why she’s amazing: Okay, yes, Gwendolyn is not human — but she can talk, and moreover, she leads the Mouse Guard as its matriarch. She also oversees all the assignments of the guard. Plus, anything else they might need. Yes, Gwendolyn’s in charge of mouse security and that’s no small feat when there’s weasels, snakes, crabs, owls, and rebellious mice.
Where to read about her: In David Peterson’s gorgeous Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and its sequel Mouse Guard: Winter 1152.
Jessica Drew
Jessica Drew

Who: Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew
Why she’s amazing: Genetically-engineer by her father, double agent for Hydra and S.H.I.E.L.D., and replaced by the Skrull Queen, Jessica’s had a hard run of it. But she’s come out kicking ass and taking names. She’s Marvel’s detective and spy.
Where to read about her: See Jessica take down Skrulls in the recent Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.
My comic reviews featuring Jessica.
Cinderella
Cinderella

Who: Cinderella
Why she’s amazing: Cinderella appears to be an airhead who used to be a princess, but now runs a shoe store, the Glass Slipper. However, there’s more to Cindy than means the eye. Let her surprise you because I really don’t want to spoil you.
Where to read about her: Read about her in Fables by Bill Willingham.
My comic reviews featuring Cindy.
Bobbi Morse
Bobbi Morse

Who: Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse
Why she’s amazing: Bobbi is the only one sassy enough to have married Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. She’s one of the few non-super Avengers, and she also has something of a spy business on the side. Bobbi spends her nights with insomnia fighting villains as her chamomile tea.
Where to read about her: Jim McCann and David Lopez’s New Avengers Reunion will get you caught up with Bobbi. McCann also has a new series called Hawkeye and Mockingbird, which issue #1 already sold out and went into its second printing.
My comic reviews featuring Bobbi.
Julie Martin
Julie Martin

Who: Julie Martin
Why she’s amazing: Julie was a mess when we first met her. Newly divorce and completely broken by it. However, on a day trip to shoot photography, she becomes something unknown when the rain isn’t actually real rain and starts sticking to her skin.
Where to read about her: In Terry Moore’s Echo, you can follow Julie’s path to becoming a superhero of sorts.
My comic reviews featuring Julie.
Monica Rambeau
Monica Rambeau

Who: Monica “Photon” Rambeau (also “Captain Marvel”)
Why she’s amazing: Does Monica need to remind you that she once was on the Avengers? She can kick ass on a team and lead them well. She is also a good friend to Firestar, Hellcat, and Black Cat.
Where to read about her: Warren Ellis’ Nextwave and most recently, in Marvel Divas, a very poorly named series.
My comic reviews featuring Monica.
Frau Totenkinder
Frau Totenkinder

Who: Frau Totenkinder
Why she’s amazing: Frau Totenkinder is more devious than her aged-appearance lets on. She’s a witch, a very powerful one, and she surprisingly nonchalant about it. Frau Totenkinder will appear in more than one of your favorite Fables.
Where to read about her: My favorite Frau Totenkinder stories are in Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall, but you can also find her in the regular Fables series also by Bill Willingham.
Helena Bertinelli
Helena Bertinelli

Who: Helena “Huntress” Bertinelli
Why she’s amazing: Helena is both a school teacher and a hunter. She’s loyal and determined. Helena hasn’t always fit into life in Gotham City, but that’s only given her more layers and sometimes rocky relationships with Gotham heavy-hitters like Batman himself.
Where to read about her: Helena is an awesome addition in Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey. Greg Rucka also does a great job at telling her origin story in Batman/Huntress: A Cry for Blood.
My comic reviews featuring Helena.
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

Who: Pepper “Rescue” Potts (also “Hera”)
Why she’s amazing: Pepper is just too cool. For years, she was side character in Tony Stark’s life; but with the successful Iron Man movies and Matt Fraction’s new series, Pepper is turning into a dignified hero.
Where to read about her: Pepper makes her first appearance as a superhero in Matt Fraction’s The Order and continues so in his Invincible Iron Man.
My comic reviews featuring Pepper.

Why does this not surprise me? Ian Sattler at HeroesCon.

Ryan Choi is Atom
My bias: Ryan Choi was the greatest Atom. &!$%, Ray Palmer and Silver Age nostalgia.

From my “favorite” person and DC Senior Story Editor, Ian Sattler at HeroesCon:

A serious topic came up about how characters who are minorities who happened to be legacy characters like Ryan Choi are killed off so their caucasian counterparts can return and how they feel like they are being cheated or sidelined out of their roles. Sattler took a more serious tone. “It’s so hard for me to be on the other side because it’s not our intention. There is a reason behind it all. We don’t see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink, and blue characters. We have the Great Ten out there and I have counter statistics, but I won’t get into that. It’s not how we perceived it. We get the same thing about how we treat our female characters.”

Read more about the panel here.

Oh, Mr. Sattler, what am I going to do with you? I already blogged about Ian’s foot-in-the-mouth at Emerald City, re: Liam Harper’s death and diversity in DC’s writing staff.

First, green, pink, and blue characters are NOT characters of color. For example, Martin Manhunter (green) is in the majority on his planet and written the same way they’d write a white human dude. There’s no institutionalized racism for green, pink, and blue characters. There’s no history of oppression. There is no racism. It’s incredibly, jaw-droppingly offensive to say otherwise. Do NOT argue with me on this point, instead please read White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.

Second, I want to see your counter statistics. I want to see your blog post on DC.com. I don’t believe your so-called statistics (that you can’t provide) given statistics that fans have put together. For instance, Chris Sims has a great post about The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling, concerning the same relaunch of legacy DC characters. (Also, I didn’t even know who the Great Ten were. That’s how many books they’re in, and I even read one of them.)

Third, let’s address, “It’s not how we perceived it.” Of course, you didn’t. Stop being defensive that everyone’s calling you or your colleagues racist. We know that DC writers (read: Geoff Johns) love Silver Age characters and that’s why they brought them back. But the heart of the problem is with your (and the rest of the staff who agrees with Sattler) perception. Our perceptions as human beings are often flawed due to our personal biases. That’s why those stats you mentioned above and the perception of others, who are not like you, are important.

Fourth, I’m sorry, but are we women being too whiny for you? (To see what Sattler says about women, see the Emerald City ComicCon post.) Just because you hired the fabulous Gail Simone, doesn’t mean everyone forgot about the stats of her Women in Refrigerators project. Finally, some stats.

Fifth, why do they still let Sattler talk in public as a representative of the company?

Dear comic book reader, before you start pledging yourself to Marvel, don’t forget they had their own race fail when Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort addressed a question about why characters of color and women weren’t leads on their teams or starring in their own books:

“Because we’re an American company whose primary distribution is centered around America, the great majority of our existing audience seems to be white American males … whenever your leads are white American males, you’ve got a better chance of reaching more people overall.”

Time to start voting with our dollars. Take a look at your pull list next time and ask yourself how diverse are the books you’re reading? Are there minority and women characters in them? How do they treat the minority and women characters inside the pages? How diverse is the creative team? And so on. Because I guarantee those in accounting and sales crunch the hard numbers.

How DC Loses with Greg Rucka’s Departure

Batwoman in Detective Comics
Yesterday at WonderCon, writer Greg Rucka announced he’s off Batwoman and finished at DC Comics. As a big fan of Rucka’s work and someone who’s particularly in love with his Batwoman run, I’m incredibly sad. Rucka will, of course, keep producing comics under his label Oni Press, as well as continuing to write novels.

While I won’t speculate on what went on behind closed doors between Rucka and DC Comics, I do know this: DC has lost a great talent. When I look at my own DC-reading, Rucka’s really the writer who made me read more DC Comics. With the exception of Batman: The Animated Series, a cartoon not book, I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan. Not due to any brand loyalty or rivalry or something equally ridiculous as pumped by marketers. But in that many ways, I’ve consistently found Marvel Comics more accessible story-and-continuity wise and my buy patterns reflect that. When I look at my DC Comics shelves, 40% of my DC Comics were penned by Greg Rucka. I won’t deny that I’m an author follower when it comes to my reading choices — probably a byproduct of my Creative Writing degree.

The biggest loss to DC Comics is the way Rucka made 70+ years of comic book continuity accessible to everyone. I started off reading Gotham Central by Rucka and Ed Brubaker. In Gotham Central, the themes and tone I’d so enjoyed in the children’s cartoon were actualized into an adult comic. Like the brilliance of the cartoon, I didn’t have to know Batman’s entire history. I didn’t have to know every villain or every character’s origin. Rucka and Brubaker brought individual characters to life and explored their stories, which is how both new and old readers got to know those characters. In this title, Rucka wrote the storyline “Half a Life” the best coming out story I’ve ever read — and I’ve read far too many — which featured Renee Montoya. Interestingly enough, Renee originally appeared in the cartoon, but was brought over, like Harley Quinn, to the main comic continuity. Rucka gave me and other readers a favorite character.

Then years down the road, Rucka created Kate Kane, the new Batwoman and ex-girlfriend of Renee. Kate came onto the scene with a ton of press surrounding her being a lesbian. DC got another diversity notch on its belt, but even better, they got an amazing character created and shaped by Rucka. With artist J.H. Williams III, Rucka took Kate center stage in Detective Comics, the longest continually running America comic book, and they put out what I consider to be one of best comic book runs of all time. And I’m nothing if not a bitchy, snobby reviewer. But then, for whatever reason, DC editorial changed their minds and pulled Kate out of the book early. There was an announcement about a solo Batwoman title with Rucka and Williams, but that’s currently not happening.

What the hell, DC? You really lost.

The second major loss I see for DC is the presence of Rucka as a thoughtful writer on panels and in the press. Last month at Emerald City Comic Con 2010, Rucka was suspiciously missing from the DC panel. I blogged about some of the atrocious shit coming out of Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler’s mouth in relation to the treatment of Lian Harper in Blackest Night and women-in-comics in general and how the panel clearly missed the presence of the-token-woman-in-residence Gail Simone, who’d canceled at the last minute. (Simone, her writing takes up another 20% of my DC Comics.)

Looking again, Rucka’s presence was also missed. Missed in that he’s thoughtful to women and women characters. Missed because in every other DC panel I’ve sat witness to either he or Simone or both of them are the ones to answer questions about women characters. Instead, this panel had Sattler and his boy’s club rhetoric and James Robinson’s unapologetic inability to write women characters, except as motivation for men. Good thing no one asked Geoff Johns why the Star Sapphires still wear less clothing than strippers. I don’t think I’ve witnessed such sloppy, offensive answers since San Diego Comic Con 2007 and to keep things even, that was a Marvel panel.

If I was DC, I’d be pulling out all the stops to retain Rucka as my top talent. And maybe DC did — no one knows how negotiations went — but somehow I don’t think they did.

Everyone keeps talking about how to retain readers and how to grow the comic book audience. How to get more women and minorities reading comic books. How do you do that? You retain talented and thoughtful writers such as Greg Rucka and hire more like him. You support the creation and growth of characters like Kate Kane and Renee Montoya. You support characters who that audience, that market-share you seem to want so badly, identifies with because those character look like them and act like them. You can’t talk the talk if you aren’t willing to walk the walk.

I know Rucka will continue to write wonderful characters, and I’ll keep reading his comics. Hey, and maybe someday, DC will look up and realize what they’ve lost. Because they are the true losers here.

Reviews Girl Comics #1

Girl Comics #1Erica gives this comic five starsComic book review for Marvel’s anthology, Girl Comics #1.

I really loved this comic. I loved being the audience. I loved that it showcased women writers, artists, and editors. Yes, not every story knocked me out the park with awesome. A few did though. I appreciate the spirit and the ability to discover writers and artists I might not have otherwise read stories by. Also I loved the cover of She-Hulk beating Iron Man in arm-wrestling by Amanda Conner and Laura Martin. And the biographical features on Flo Steinberg and Marie Severin nicely add historical context to women who’ve made a big impact on Marvel’s history. One part I didn’t like so much was Sana Takeda’s pin-up of She-Hulk. Her art style doesn’t seem to flow into drawing She-Hulk.

Onto the stories: Continue reading “Reviews Girl Comics #1”

Fail, Peter David. Fail.

Erica gives this comic one star.I was going to actually review She-Hulk Vol 2 #38 by Peter David. It is the last issue of She-Hulk after all.

Then I saw this:

She-Hulk #38

You know, eventually, I might’ve read another Peter David comic after the Scans_daily debacle. But now I’m pissed.

I’m pissed that Peter David thinks an ableist comment is an acceptable thing to print in a comic. I’m pissed that he think She-Hulk would say something like that. I’m pissed that this made it off an editor’s desk and to print.

There are times when characters are racist, sexist, ableist, and homophobic to serve the text and in a good text, these actions are condemned either by the narrative, plot, or other characters (see such texts as To Kill a Mockingbird). This is not one of those. She-Hulk is not ones of those characters; she’s a highly educated lawyer and a hero, who’s never expressed anything like this before even in moments of weakness when her friends were in peril. When her mother was killed by a mobster, She-Hulk went after him legally. She-Hulk had more grace in February 1980 than in March 2009.

Fail, Peter David. And fail, Marvel, for printing this.

Strong Women of Comics I Like

This post is inspired by a comment over on Whedonesque about what one is to do without Joss writing Astonishing X-Men. Without Joss there to write strong women. This post assumes that AXM is the only mainstreet comic that the poster has read (i.e. the Firefly and Buffy/Angel comics don’t count). I will also decline to comment on Joss and strong women. Instead, I give you – Strong Women of Comics I Like:

She-Hulk
Jennifer Walter aka She-Hulk

Anyone who’s known me longer than five seconds probably knows about my love of She-Hulk. Jennifer Walters is the Hulk’s cousin and received superpowers when she was shot and got a blood transfusion from him. It saved her life, but made her transform into “some kind of She-Hulk.”

She-Hulk maintains her human sensibilities when she’s in hulk form and prefers to be big and green instead of tiny Jennifer. She’s had her own titles, but has also been a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. She is often relayed upon for both her superpowers and her mind.

When the Earth is attacked by Scorpio and the U.N. gives its power to the Avengers, She-Hulk not only fights, but she also is the one who reads the U.N. carters to help the crashing world economies. In more current history, she’s was a top lawyer in a superhuman law firm and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and now a bounty hunter.

I suggest reading Dan Slott’s She-Hulk, starting with She-Hulk Volume 1: Single Green Female.

Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones is a newer Marvel character created by Brian Micheal Bendis in 2002 and was inserted into the Avengers’ history. When you meet her, she runs a private detective agency and has a variety of personal problems include a temper, poor interpersonal skills, bad relationships, and problem with drinking. Her first outing in her own series Alias gives the reader the mystery of why Jessica is no longer a superhero and doesn’t want to be one.

Jessica gained her superpowers — flying, super strength, and resistance to damage — through a tragic car crash with her family’s sedan and a truck carrying nuclear waste. However, she is often reluctant to use them.

Her more recent storylines include her relationship/eventual marriage to superhero Luke Cage, their baby, and how she (kind of) joins the Avengers and mentors the Young Avengers. One of my favorite scenes is where a pregnant Jessica beats up on the Green Goblin in a way that makes even Spider-Man acknowledge that she’s tough as nails.

I suggest starting off with Brian Michael Bendis’ Alias, which is her origin story(s) and first appearances.

Snow White
Snow White

Snow White is a character in Bill Willingham’s Fables, a comic set in modern-day NYC with “fables” living in hiding in the middle of the city. Snow White is introduced as the Deputy Major of Fabletown and clearly the one who’s really in charge of the city’s operations. She’s the only one not afraid of Bigby, the Big Bad Wolf who’s the town’s sheriff, and she always thinks on her feet despite the antics of her sister, Rose Red; an impending war with evil Fables; and when her ex-husband Prince Charming decides to come back into town and run for Mayor.

Snow White’s story is interwoven into this cast in the on-going comic. And while there are certainly other strong women — Frau Totenkinder, Cinderella, Rose Red, the Snow Queen, etc. — Snow White remains my personal favorite. She even gets her own narrative in the flashback book of Fable’s tales 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

I’d suggest starting at the beginning of the Fables‘ series with Legends in Exile.

Dr. Mann and Agent 355
Agent 355, Dr. Allison Mann, and the other women of Y: The Last Man

Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man is about Yorrick and his male monkey, the only survivors of whatever killed all the male mammals on the planet, and their quest to find Yorrick’s girlfriend Beth and figure out what the hell actually happened. Vaughan populates the book with a wonderful cast of female characters including Agent 355, the tough American spy who protect Yorrick, Dr. Allison Mann, a genetics doctor who clones herself, and Yorrick’s sister and mother, the latter is a U.S. senator and then president when all the men die off. Additionally, all the women in this story are given agency and come from various backgrounds, ethnically and politically. Vaughan truly makes this story a global story. Plus, Pia Guerra’s art is incredible throughout this book.

I’d suggest starting with Unmanned, the first volume in this recently ended series.

Renee Montoya
Rene Montoya aka The Question

Rene first appeared on the animated Batman TV show and was so popular that she was put in Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central. She’s a hard-lined, but at her core, good detective on the Gotham Police Force with ties to the community through her family and the Hispanic community. In Half a Life, she takes center stage with her collaboration and then stalking problem with Two-Face. She’s outed as lesbian in one the best coming out stories I’ve ever read. (And that says a lot considering I’m a bisexual English major who took many “diversity” literature courses.)

Rucka took Montoya even further than her police roots by putting her in the post-Crisis epic 52, which was where I first encountered her outside cartoons. Montoya is one of the characters in the story to have an amazingly done transformation with the publicity bonus of her ex-girlfriend, Kate Kane, aka the new Batwoman. Post-52, Montoya’s story continues in Crime Bible and then Final Crisis: Revelations.

I’d suggest starting with the first hardcover Gotham Central #01: In the Line of Duty, which includes the “Half a Life” story.

Barbara Gordon
Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl aka Oracle and the rest of the women of Birds of Prey

Barbara Gordon starts off her crime-fighting career as Batgirl, fighting alongside Batman, Robin, and a host of other DC superheros as part of the Bat-family. She is, of course, the daughter of Jim Gordon, Gotham’s Police Commissioner. Besides, being kick ass, Barbara is also super smart and a whiz with computers. She is shown to be perhaps the only person who can outspy Batman, the world’s greatest detective.

In Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke (1988), Barbara is shot by the Joker and paralyzed from the waist down. Now, the normal person would hang up the cape and become head of her own internet start-up company, but not Barbara. No, she uses her computer genius to fight crime under the name Oracle and assembles her own, all-female team, Birds of Prey.

Birds of Prey contains many awesome strong women over the years, including Black Canary, Huntress, the new Batgirl, Spoiler, Lady Shiva, and more. Black Canary and Barbara’s friendships is perhaps one of the best portrayals female-friendships ever.

For Batgirl’s origins, I suggest Beatty and Dixon’s Batgirl: Year One and for more current Birds of Prey action, Simone’s Of Like Minds.

Ms. Marvel
Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel

Ms. Marvel should be the Wonder Woman of Marvel-verse. However, she’s not. She should also be Captain Marvel, like she was in House of M, but she’s not. If you’re scratching your head, don’t worry, you’ll eventually understand what I mean. Because Ms. Marvel is just that awesome.

Carol starts her life as a Air Force officer working with the then Captain Marvel, who was actually a Kree (a type of alien) undercover. She becomes super-powered when hit by a Kree “Psyche-Magnitron” device and has super strength, speed, stamina, and durability; can absorb energy; and can fly. She goes through many trials and tribulations including being the mind-controlled slave and mystical womb of a guy trying to reincarnated himself, having her powers sucked out by Rogue, and being kidnapped and experimented on by the Brood (another alien species).

Ms. Marvel is a survivor and she never looses her military officer determination. She bounces back and becomes a New Avenger, after the original Avengers are destroyed. Currently, post-Civil War, Tony Stark (Iron Man) has made her the head of the Mighty Avengers. She also has a solo series, which is about her getting her life in order after seeing an alternative version of herself as Captain Marvel, the greatest and most revered superhero in that world.

You can read about the start of her self-improvement in Reed’s Ms. Marvel.

Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is the most famous female superhero around. Linda Carter’s portrayal of her in the ’70s TV show cemented her fame and everyone knowing her name. Created in 1941 by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman has survived when other lesser heroes have faded in time. She’s an Amazon princess warrior. She’s good, courageous, diplomatic, and has a great body. Who doesn’t want to be her?

Overall, Wonder Woman is a class act and you’d be hard-pressed to find another character with such dignity who can still kick ass. Heck, even Mr. Goodie Superman dates and marries her (when Lois Lane isn’t available, of course).

Wonder Woman has gone through many writers over the years, but if you’d like to catch up on current Wonder Woman happenings, check out Gail Simone’s run of Wonder Woman (Vol 3 starting at issue #14) or pick up the first tpb Wonder Woman: The Circle. I also hold a special love for Rucka’s Wonder Woman: Hiketeia

Old Lace and Gert
Gert, Nico, Molly, Karolina and the rest of the Runaways

Runaways is a great title to start with for someone who hasn’t read a lot of comics, considering that it’s basically a self-contained story. (There are crossovers here and there, but the writers do a good job at explaining just who those people are.) The basic premise is that a group of kids spy on their parents and find out their parents are actually super villains plotting the destruction of the world. And they runaway…

Gert with her glasses and cynicism is a daughter of time travelers who owns the coolest pet ever, Old Lace, a Deinonychus (similar to a Velociraptor). Nico is a loyal witch who has her heart played with more than once. Molly, the youngest of them at the beginning, is a mutant with budding powers. Karolina is a free-spirit alien and a self-described “freak” of the group, even before she knew she was an alien. And that’s just a few of the female characters.

I’d suggest starting with Vaughan’s Runaways Vol 1 to journey with this newer group from their origins and into the present.

Ladies in Superhero Movies

Dear Gwyneth Paltrow,

I know I should never read USA Weekly, especially after the whole “Vinnie” thing. (Vincent Lecavalier is hockey player from Quebec; I doubt he goes by Vinnie.) But someone linked an interview of you, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Liv Tyler about your roles as heroines in superhero movies, “Girls want to have fun, too.”

I would just like to correct you that women do in fact enjoy comics. In fact, we’re rather a growing audience. I know what you were told by the boys, but there are some really amazing women in comics, both with super powers and without.

Which, by the way, Pepper Potts is one of them. And out of the three of you, your role as Pepper was the most kick ass. Pepper actually helps destroy the bad guy, instead of getting captured by him, unlike Tony Stark. (Okay, I haven’t seen Incredible Hulk, but I’ll still bet my pennies on Pepper.) And I wouldn’t doubt the power of a well-tailored suit to make you attractive on screen.

Perhaps you’d enjoy reading a more positive take on Pepper than your own.

Thank you,

Woman who reads comics and enjoys superhero movies

Breaking Through the History Comic Books

At Emerald City ComicCon a month ago, one of the most thoughtful questions asked was by a woman at the DC Nation Panel who wanted to know what comics she could start reading without having to know the background of every single character, team, and storyline since the 1940s. Dan DiDio did a pretty horrible job at answering it, especially considering how he is Mr. Slick, basically muttering Wonder Woman and deflecting the question to Gail Simone. (You know, the only woman on the panel…)

I think this is an important question for comics. This is an important question for the creative team and the marketing team. They market the hell out of crossover and big “events” like Infinite Crisis and Civil War, but they are only marketing to the established audience. Yes, they need to take care of their current readership, but they also need to invest in new readers. Comic readerships isn’t strong and any slight up is because there are, frankly, just more people in this world. New readers aren’t going to pick up these crossovers.

So what do new readers need to know about comics in order to break into the giant, loaming history of the big two, DC and Marvel. To jump in without reading an entire backlog.

Start at #1

Sure, some title like Uncanny X-Men are almost to #500, but there are new titles starting all the time and many of them are not involved in the big crossover events. Yes, they might feature B-level characters and they might be by new writers; but those writers might be better than you think. So pick up #1 and thumb through it. See if it catches your eye. That’s how I started reading Bendis’ New Avengers and BKV’s run on Mystique. Sometimes, they run a long time and other times they die off quickly. You take a chance, and you can always stop reading if it doesn’t work out.

Canon. Sm-anon.

Canon counts, but then it doesn’t. Big events come and they go. Characters always have major things in their lives that remain constant and major traits that stick with them. For instance, Batman will always see his parents murdered and Iron Man will always be an asshole playboy and an alcoholic. However, creative directions will change depending on who’s writing and who’s editing. Sometimes they change out of pet-peeves, such as how Slott hated that She-Hulk slept with Juggernaut so he made an alternative universe She-Hulk do it instead. And sometimes they change canon because it was sexist/racist/homophobic like how Lux Luthor tried to defeat Superman with pink Kryptonite which turned Superman gay. Don’t take canon too seriously.

Ask someone you know who reads comics or ask your local comic book shopkeeper

Comic book fan always want to talk about comics. Trust me, I was in Hot Topic a few weeks ago with a co-worker, looking at a jacket with Alex Ross’ new Captain America design, and had a major history of Captain America geek out. A good friend will recommend comics you’ll be interested in based on the things s/he knows you like. You can also scan comic boards appropriate to your interests and gather recommendations there. (I’ve spent plenty of time on the Girl-Wonder boards.) In addition, take a trip to the local comic store and ask the storekeeper. If the store’s any good, you’ll be able to find a book based on what you’re interested in. With the storekeeper, you’re going to have to be direct such as character-driven plots with 2 or more women with lots of kick ass action. (My recommendation’s Birds of Prey.)

There’s always Wikipedia

There’s always going to be a character or team you don’t know and thankfully there’s Wikipedia. Besides editing it at the command of Stephen Colbert, comic articles often get updated weekly after the Wednesday new comic drop. I love comics, but I’ll be the first to admit that I spent time time on Wikipedia because I have no clue who Bouncing Boy is and some guy at Comic Con asked about 5 questions about him.

What suggestions do you have? What do you tell new comic readers besides handing out your recommendations?