Archive for August, 2011


The problem with “black Spider-Man” is…

August 15th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

…that it is essentially covert, or maybe just casual, white supremacy.

How great does this kid look, by the way? Sharp haircut. Sara Pichelli is great.

Here’s the short version:

The long version keeps drifting on me and not coming out correctly, so let me try and boil it down:

The words you choose to use simultaneously reflect and create the world around you. If you make an effort to be effusively positive about things, you’re going to attract people who either share in or enjoy your positivity. The odds are good that they will be positive, too, setting up a situation where you both feed off each other. If you want to keep up a too cool for school distant air, and so your version of effusive praise is “Oh, yeah, that was cool,” then you’re going to attract like-minded people who understand you. Make sense? Everything feeds on everything else.

“Black Spider-Man” otherizes Miles Morales. (It also ignores that he’s half-Puerto Rican, but that’s another conversation entirely.) He’s not Spider-Man. He’s black Spider-Man. He isn’t the new Spider-Man first, or Ultimate Spider-Man first. He’s black Spider-Man. Which is funny, because Barry Allen and Wally West were just the new Flashes. Hal Jordan is a Green Lantern, but John Stewart is the black Green Lantern.

It foregrounds Miles’s race in a conversation where his race should be irrelevant. His race is probably going to end up being just as big a part of his character as it was for Peter Parker–which I do think was a fairly significant part of that character–but in terms of who the character is and how we refer to him, “black Spider-Man” is garbage.

It sets up the adjective-less Spider-Man as the default, and therefore superior, version. Black Spider-Man will always be second-best because he wasn’t first. Comics fans in particular like to prize the original flavor, or whichever flavor was dominant whenever they began reading, so you can’t tell me that isn’t true. Every time I read “black Spider-Man” I taste battery acid. It feels mean, like the most important part of Miles’s character is that he’s (whisper this with me) not white!

Every single person who has dropped the “Batman of Africa” phrase into their news report, writing, solicits, interviews, commentary, criticism, or emails is lazy. Plain and simple. Every single one. If they aren’t mocking the phrase, they are lazy. Whenever I see it, I want to (and usually do) stop reading whatever page I’m on. There is no Batman of Africa, just like there’s no Batman of South America or Batman of Europe. There are Batmen of France, Argentina, and cities, but there are no Batmen of continents. David Zavimbi, Batwing, is the Batman of the Democratic Republic of Congo, or maybe the Batman of Fake-Kinshasha.

“Batman of Africa,” like “black Spider-Man,” plays into these subtle, but still awful, racial and national stereotypes. Africa is “AFRICA” in people’s minds because lazy, racist fiction and news painted it as a monolithic dark continent full of black people. Lies cloud the mind. Africa, like any other continent, features an astonishing amount of ethnic diversity, whether native or immigrant. You don’t even have to open a book to know this. Charlize Theron is African, man. More specifically, and more respectfully, she’s South African. She’s from Johannesburg. She’s famous.

But the mental image that leaps to mind when people say “Africa” is bone nose savages, savage warlords, savage child soldiers, and AIDS savaging the countryside. Not Egypt, or the Ivory Coast, or a continent of one billion people, most of whom are just like us and go through many of the same trials and travails that we do. There’s no diversity in “AFRICA!” That fact is ugly and stupid. It’s 2011. What’s wrong with you?

David Zavimbi, presumably, is Congolese. “Batman of the Congo” has less of a ring to it, but it doesn’t make you look as unforgivably ignorant as “Batman of Africa” does.

Being black is no more remarkable than being white. Miles Morales is notable for being the first black Spider-Man, particularly in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, but it isn’t his blackness that makes him special. It’s the fact that he’s not Peter Parker. The fact that he’s half-black, half-Puerto Rican, (and how cool would it be if his dad was a dark skinned Puerto Rican and his mom was light skinned black?!), that it looks like he’s taking part in a lottery to get into a good school in the preview images, and that he’s thirteen years old is just sauce. It’s not the meal. It’s part of the meal, sure, but you do yourself and the character (or rather, the concept, what the character represents, or something, because we do not respect characters ’round these parts) a disservice by boiling him down to “black Spider-Man.” He’s so much more than that, judging by the press run Marvel just went on, that breaking him down to being the black Spider-Man is… it’s garbage, it’s lazy, it’s stupid.

It makes you look like Stormy.

This is drifting.

Black Debbie doesn’t exist. I probably could’ve left this at the Sealab video and been good.

Please think before you speak.

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The Summerslam Countdown: Day Seven

August 15th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Summerslam was last night and I’ll review that one in a later post. First and foremost, I want to discuss the hilarity that is NBC’s Wrestlemania 27 special. Every year, NBC does a one-hour special that condenses Wrestlemania into a bunch of highlights. Not sure of the appeal, especially since this year’s was so bad, but it’s there.

At Wrestlemania, the big match was Triple H vs. Undertaker. Triple H had a badass entrance with “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica playing. Undertaker also walked down like a badass to Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave”. Herein lies the problem. NBC decided that ponying up the cash to play the Metallica song on their broadcast was fine and dandy. But Johnny Cash? Nope. They weren’t going to waste a dime on that.

It happens. Throughout all these DVDs I watch, they remove a lot of music due to rights issues and replace them with other stuff. Undertaker’s Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock themes are replaced with his Big Evil “You’ve Done it Now” theme. It would make sense that NBC would just put his regular theme over the Johnny Cash one. Right?

Nope. Instead, they decided that the perfect song would be “ET” by Katy Perry. I’m not joking. What were they thinking?!

I kissed a ghoul and I liked it.

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This Week in Panels: Week 99

August 14th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Take one down, pass it around and we’re on Week 99. Got the regular crew with me this time with David Brothers, Was Taters and Space Jawa. I was going to say that ThWiP would take a big hit from the exodus of all the Flashpoint tie-ins, but it’s going to be pretty nuts next month when I find myself reading every single DC #1 for review purposes. Why do I hate myself?

Batgirl #24
Bryan Q. Miller and Pere Perez

Batman and Robin #26
David Hine, Greg Tocchini and Andrei Bressan

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The Summerslam Countdown: What’s the Holdup?!

August 14th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Yeah, so as it is right now, I have Day Seven of the countdown ready and done, but I still have to proofread it and all that. Considering I won’t be able to get to that until after I get home from watching Summerslam with my friends and… well, the fact that there are eleven entries in total, I can officially say that I have shit the bed on this. Again. My apologies. I took too long watching the shows, didn’t get any head start whatsoever and between this and my job got burned out very quickly. No matter, for the four people still reading these things, I’ll have them up and done over the course of the next week.

In the meantime, Bearnt!, who has uploaded a bunch of various clips onto YouTube for me finally found this holy grail of wrestling promos that I’ve been wanting to rewatch since Randy Savage died. It’s from the lead-up of Wrestlemania X. Randy Savage had a match with champion Yokozuna and had it in the bag until Savage’s rival and former friend Crush came in to stop him. The hatred between the two has become so heated that they aren’t allowed to coexist in the same locker room area.

That may be my favorite wrestling promo of all time.

Stay tuned tonight for Summerslam Countdown: Day Seven and This Week in Panels: Week 99.

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The Summerslam Countdown: Day Six

August 11th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

With Summerslam just a couple days away, it’s not hard to notice that there are so few matches announced. One of those guys who has nothing going on is the Miz and that brings up an interesting pattern. See, the Miz has never wrestled a single Summerslam in his entire WWE career. Check it out.

2011: Rey’s injured, so the possibility of Rey vs. Miz is down the tubes. Will most definitely appear on the show in some way, but having a match is up in the air.
2010: Was going to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase, but decided not to as he would be joining Team WWE in the main event. Was going to wrestle in the main event, but Cena had him replaced with Daniel Bryan.
2009: Got fired and banned from Summerslam (Summerfest?!) by one of the guest Raw General Managers.
2008: Even if he and Morrison were still tag champs, it wouldn’t matter. The only tag match on the show was a mixed tag.
2007: Is too busy feuding with Balls Mahoney to be of any importance to the big picture.

The dude just can’t catch a break. I’m pretty sure that the Hurricane never got a Summerslam match either, which is kind of weird. See, the big DVD box set of the first 20 Summerslams are split into four packages and each package has this awesome collage of stuff from those five years. Stuff like posters, Dibiase angrily pointing, Cena punching Jericho, Diesel and Michaels posing, etc. One of them features, rather prominently, a picture of a guy in a Hurricane mask in the corner. I don’t remember seeing such a thing and I can’t remember the Hurricane doing anything of note, let alone appearing, yet there it is.

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The last Stephanie Batgirl: Issue #24 Play-by-Play

August 10th, 2011 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Ah, it’s been a tumultuous two years.  Lets have a look at how it all turned out.

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The Summerslam Countdown: Day Five

August 9th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

So I’m watching last night’s Raw and I’m thinking about this whole CM Punk/Cena angle and it hits me.

– CM Punk is a guy who felt the need to retire.
– CM Punk unretired because he feels he’s needed and has an obsession when it comes to beating people up while wearing tights.
– He’s sick of an unbeatable, wholesome, insufferable superhero of a man who appears to be a tool for the system.
– His actions lead to a massive cult following with people dressing like him and pumping their fists in the air in his name.
– For standing in the face of the system and going too far, they end up sending that unbeatable super dude after him.
– CM Punk feels that they could have changed the business, but he’s a political liability and John Cena… John Cena’s a joke.
– In his most private moments, John Cena will have to remember the one man who beat him.

In other words, the CM Punk angle is Dark Knight Returns.

“The rest of us learned to cope. The rest of us recognized the danger – of the endless envy of those not blessed. Jericho went back to his band. Brock went to the octagon. And I have walked the razor’s edge for so long… But you, Punk – you, with your wild obsession.”

“I will never forget Colt Cabana. He was a good soldier. He honored me. But the war goes on.”


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Frank Miller Owns Batman: “i rushed it. i blew it.”

August 8th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

Jim Lee and Frank Miller’s All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is the best Batman story to come out of DC in years. It’s only rival is probably David Lapham and Ramon Bachs’s Batman: City of Crime.

So far, we have most of a Batman. We have the thirst for vengeance that birthed him, the will that powers him, and the rich inheritance that provides his means. Right now, at this moment, we have the makings of an urban legend and a night terror. Cops and criminals both know and fear him, as well they should, and the citizenry knows that there’s a dark angel waiting in the shadows to protect them. The specifics of his mission, and by that I mean the brutal violence, probably aren’t clear to John Q Public, but the fact that he exists and is fighting back is enough. There is someone out there with a spine, and he is on our side.

The problem, though, are those specifics. They get the job done, but they’re far from pleasant. They give us a Batman who is a little too hard-edged, a little too happy about getting to do some damage, to be a comic book superhero. The Batman’s methods must be tempered just a little. Right now, he’s a shadow who lurks among shadows. The problem with that is that there’s no difference between one shadow or another. One shadow can hold pain or pleasure, and you won’t know which is which until it’s too late. While it’s clear that the Batman is a benevolent shadow, there’s nothing to suggest that he won’t become one of the other, darker shadows at some point in time.

Enter: Robin.

The appeal of Robin is three-fold. He provides a character for young boys to relate to, a fact that is increasingly irrelevant as time goes on. He brightens Batman’s methods, turning him into a four-color hero instead of a bastard child of The Shadow. Finally, he provides a fix for Bruce Wayne, whose development was not stunted as a result of his parents’ murder, but rocketed off in a different direction. We played with toys. He played detective.

It wasn’t the death of his parents that turned Bruce Wayne antisocial. It was the quest that followed. He wanted to become the greatest detective slash crimefighter ever, and that quest has very little room for proms, high school, and the standard socializing everyone else does. The death of his parents changed how he views the world. Everything is either a tool for his war or irrelevant. This doesn’t preclude Wayne maintaining relationships, but it’s clear that his deepest relationship is Alfred, who was swept up in his quest and has merely managed to hang on for dear life while enabling the child.

Bruce Wayne grew up, but he didn’t grow up like we did. You can see it in the romantic relationships he pursues as an adult (which generally have built-in trapdoors like “she’s a villain” or “i can never tell her my secret”) or his treatment of Jezebel Jet (where he claims to have turned love into a weapon). He has used a long string of starlets and debutantes as cover for his mission–beards, essentially–without a care for how they would feel about it. They, like everyone else, are tools. WayneCorp, or Enterprises, or whatever, is a tool, too, something that lets him fight his war. Everything is either a weapon, a threat, or not worthy of attention. (More on the subject here, pulling in the idea of a Real Man and examples from Richard Stark’s Parker novels and Lone Wolf & Cub)

Robin is what changes that. Early in All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, Batman refers to grief as “the enemy.” He goes on to say that “there’s no time for grief. There’s no room for grief. Grief turns into acceptance. Forgiveness. Grief forgives what can never be forgiven.” Batman doesn’t think that there’s any room for acceptance in his war. He’s driven by anger at the unfairness of life. If he’d taken time to accept what happened, then he wouldn’t have the edge that has made him so successful. He’s a child lashing out after being hurt. It’s just that his way of lashing out is stretched out over a long period of time than a thrown punch or pitched fit.

As a result, though, he pushes a twelve year-old kid too far, too soon. If you don’t address these emotions, they’ll rot and fester inside of you. Batman had years to work through his issues, and he did so thanks to Alfred and the dozens of masters he learned his craft from. He didn’t not-grieve–he just grieved in a different way than most people did. He accepted that his parents were gone when he began fighting his war to ensure that no one else’s parents would die that way.

Robin didn’t have that, and nearly killed Green Lantern as a result. The anger and poison was bubbling just below the surface, and when pressed, it spilled over. You have to release negative emotions somehow, and Batman’s mistake was assuming that what worked for him would work for someone else. More than that–Batman’s mistake was thinking that what worked for him actually worked for him.

He drives Robin to his parents’ grave and tells him, “Find them. Say goodbye.” Put differently: “Grieve.” Robin hits the gravestone, a symbol of his dead parents, and collapses. Batman’s hand drops on his shoulder and they both cry in the rain, next to Robin’s parents. “We mourn lives lost,” Batman’s monologue says, “including our own.” They’re damned, or maybe just lost, and there’s no going back from here.

This is the moment when Bruce Wayne turns from the Bat-man, a fearsome creature of the night, to Batman, a superhero with a cheerful kid sidekick. This forces Batman into the role of nurturer, as well as avenger. He can’t proceed along his path any more. It may not be self-destructive, but it is definitely damaging to a third part that’s as close as Robin. He has to change, he has to adjust, because otherwise he damned this child for nothing.

(this is one of my favorite batman scenes, i think.)

Batman is an homage to Thomas Wayne. Batman and Robin, or maybe just Batman’s treatment of Robin from here on out, is an homage to Martha Wayne. Batman has to become a father, instead of just a Dark Knight, and that means that his mother’s mercy is going to play a bigger and bigger part in his life. It shifts his quest from pure vengeance into something more. It’s a splash of love, a love that he’d been keeping at a distance to keep his sword sharp, in a war that sorely needed it. “The greatest of these is love,” right? Robin pulls Batman out of the shell he’d built around himself and into normal humanity.

Robin is the secret to building a better Batman.

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Fourcast! 94: Foodcast!

August 8th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-Two books, two podcasters!
-I’m talking about John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew, which you can read here
-Esther is talking about Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
-The two books are thematically related, I figure, under the umbrella of “secret truths revealed through food.”
-It’s an interesting connection, and Bender’s book sounds pretty neat. Chew, of course, is something I buy monthly.
-Check both out.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-Here comes a new challenger!
-See you, space cowboy!

Subscribe to the Fourcast! via:
Podcast Alley feed!
RSS feed via Feedburner
iTunes Store

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The Summerslam Countdown: Day Four

August 8th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Um… hm… This post is late as it is and I’m still having trouble figuring out an intro to show before the link jump. Lesse…

Austin Roll it is!

Austin discovering the beauty of the internet is an exhibit of evidence that God exists.

Now back to the regularly scheduled list.

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