T’Challa & Ororo vs The Sexist Racists

May 30th, 2008 Posted by david brothers

Let me start this off with a quote from Common’s “Sixth Sense,” just so that you don’t get what I’m saying twisted.

Some of that shit, y’all pop to it, I ain’t relating
If I don’t like it, I don’t like it, that don’t mean that I’m hating

Plain talk: Racists and sexists make for terrible villains.

Wonder Woman’s next big story arc is about the Manazons. They were introduced in DC Universe Zero over the course of three pages where a couple gods are sitting around and watching Wonder Woman. They reveal the Manazons and say something along the lines of “Never send a woman to do a man’s job!”


The thing with villains these days is that we basically have two types. One type has two or fewer dimensions. They cackle and kill and are basically evil. Depending on the writer, this is the Joker and Magneto. Their gimmick is that they are evil. If they are part of a group that once called itself “Evil” or “of Doom” or something like that, they are probably part of this group. This is a holdover from the days when (bang, pow) comics were for kids.

The other kind of villain is the kind who is more three dimensional. He has a goal beyond just wrecking shop, or at least some kind of personality that makes him more than someone who just wants to kill everything ever for whatever reason. Claremont’s Magneto pretended to be this guy, Lex Luthor is this guy, Two Face is this guy when written popularly, and Prometheus started out as this guy. They aren’t evil for evil’s sake– they are evil for a (occasionally good) reason.

Which one of these villains do you prefer? The nuanced one or the black & white one?

I don’t mind evil villains. Joker is frustrating, but fun when Harley Quinn is around to take away from the “RARR EVIL” stuff. But, I think that evil villains are a cheap writer’s trick at this point. With the skill of writers these days, we should be able to have villains that don’t instantly inspire revulsion in the reader. We should be able to mix it up.

I’m only picking on the Manazons because it’s the most recent example. Their gimmick is that they were put into action by two gods who straight up say that women are less capable than men. What decent person is going to be able to say “Hey, this guy is really interesting. I wonder what would happen if they win?”

What happens if the Manazons win? A bunch of women are banished to the kitchen, and even then, they know that men cook better, anyway.

What’s the point? Where’s the depth? Racist sexist villains are cheap. When’s the last time you were like, “Boy, the Red Skull sure is an interesting character! His methods suck, but I can understand where he’s coming from!”

Racism and sexism are bad words. This is partly why people who are (rightly or wrongly) accused of sexism or racism get so upset at the very idea of being such. The only people who accept those labels are people who will never change. Everyone would like to be past the use of them. Racists and sexists are Bad People. Who wants to be a Bad Person?

Tossing these traits onto a bad guy is just another way to make him more unlikeable without actually writing scenes that illustrate that. It’s telling, not showing, and it is cheap like a dinner at a friend’s house or a date at the communal TV room in your dorm. It’s lazy.

Seeing a brand new villain immediately go into “mulatto” or “whore” talk immediately kills any connection I might have had. Now, he’s just a regular old bad guy. A regular, old, uninteresting, boring, cliched, terrible bad guy.

Give it a miss. You can have bad guys without using these shortcuts. I can’t believe how tired I am of seeing cheap cookie-cutter villains. It takes me out of the story instantly. and it just feels hilariously lazy.

I’m not asking for a moratorium, but at least give me another reason to hate these dudes beyond “Ha ha, he said nigger.”

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4thletter is for… deception

June 29th, 2007 Posted by david brothers


You ever get the feeling that the wool’s been pulled over your eyes, just a bit?

Garth Ennis is known for a few things. Blood, curse words, comedic facial deformities, sex jokes, a mild hatred of superheroes, and more blood and then a few more curse words. On the good side, he’s a pretty solid plotter, he knows his strengths, he does great dialog, and he’s the best war writer since Kanigher and Kubert.

Just in case you aren’t familiar, he’s written comics where a demon named Baytor becomes master of hell, Nick Fury strangles another dude with his own intestines, an alien sex pervert becomes a British diplomat and gets eaten by a tiger while dressed in a corset with an orange up his butt, a soldier constantly tries to trick his superior officer into kissing him by faking death, a guy gets his nose swapped with his penis and vice versa, an Australian pope has sex with nuns and curses, the Saint of Killers shoots God, a short man with glasses has sex with a giant statue made out of meat, superheroes are depicted as a bunch of people who are completely worthless human beings (and sex perverts), a dude has sex with himself and then shoots himself in the face in front of his son, and– actually, this is a pretty good sampling of the stuff he’s known for. Plus, this is going to completely ruin the search terms on this site.

Anyway, Ennis has got something of a rep. He’s done his fair share of gross-out comics, though it’s usually played for humor. But, I’ve been noticing something in his comics. He keeps sneaking in these little things that make a scary amount of sense. I don’t necessarily agree with Ennis on the religion front, but he makes good points about how to live life. Sexism, racism, whatever– it’s all stupid. It doesn’t matter. Leave it behind and just do right.

The quote up top is from The Boys #8, a series about some humans whose entire job consists of smearing and then beating the snot out of superhumans, who are all sex perverts and callous jerks. We’ve seen a bulldog have sex with another, smaller dog, and a Teen Titans-alike have a screwed up coke orgy. The book opens with a guy swinging around with his girlfriend like they were in a movie, only a superhuman comes crashing down and basically explodes her on impact, leaving the guy holding her severed arms. There’s also a dude who lives below a comic shop who basically calls Will Eisner a punk. And despite all this grisly stuff, you get little scenes like the one in that image up there.

Punisher: The Slavers dealt with white slavers. On the one hand, it’s a wish-fulfillment fantasy. We, the reader, get our revenge on the rapist and slavers of the world through Frank Castle’s actions. He kills quite a lot of them, and the series ends with him lighting a local boss on fire on video, looking into the camera, and saying “Don’t come back here.” He sends the video back to Eastern Europe with one of the allies of the slavers. On the other hand, though, I can’t remember the last time I saw the aftereffects of rape and kidnapping in a comic. One of the cops featured in the story actually quits the force, because she believes she can do more good helping track and assisting the girls who were kidnapped. The last two pages of The Slavers are heartbreaking. You don’t have the full context here, obviously, but I think the pages are worth sharing. Check out the softcover or the hardcover (B&N link) if it catches your interest. The softcover’s like ten bucks, it’s worth it. I cut out the pages where Cristu was burned alive because they aren’t 100% relevant here.

For reference: Viorica lost her daughter to the slavers.

punisher_v5_030_p14.jpg punisher_v5_030_p15.jpg punisher_v5_030_p20.jpg
punisher_v5_030_p21.jpg punisher_v5_030_p22.jpg
(words by ennis, art by fernandez)

“All she can do is live with what life they left her.” Ouch.
Read the rest of this entry �

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Dick Hyacinth Can’t Lose

June 26th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Dick Hates Your Blog: Focused on a single issue for a change

Dick Hyacinth is a man after my own heart.

So, because nobody demanded it, I’ve got a few suggestions for those of us who are concerned about the portrayal of women in Marvel/DC comics, yet equally concerned that the debate is getting unfocused, too shrill, or just somehow vaguely off:

1. Don’t treat those who disagree like children, no matter how much they might deserve it. I like a good put-down war as much as the next guy (yes, yes, probably more so), but I like my opponents to be fully-functioning adults. There’s no sport in matching wits with your average Blogorama troll (though there is some fun in mocking them from afar, say at your own blog). Be polite, keep the high ground, don’t make blanket generalizations that you can’t support (again, unless you’re doing it at your own blog).

1a. Maybe you should give the bingo thing a rest. Yes, we might find it funny, but I think it alienates people who might otherwise be sympathetic to complaints about sexism/misogyny. The post which explained the whole bingo concept (which I can’t find right now) does a fairly good job in explaining everything, but I still think this is a fairly exclusionary rhetorical device–you’re for us or against us! You get it or you don’t! In the present landscape, I don’t think this is a useful way to frame the argument. People are much more willing to consider your perspective if they think you’re inviting them to do so, rather than telling them they’re too stupid to understand.

2. Don’t be afraid to moderate comments. This is a tricky one–nobody wants to look like a censor. But some people aren’t interested in discussing issues in good faith; they’re either intellectually incapable (hopefully due to youth) or just not interested in real debate. I wish the powers that be at Blogorama were a little quicker in deleting these sorts of comments, though I kind of understand why they aren’t. For the rest of us, especially those whose blogs end up being the epicenter of a particular controversy: if the commenter feels slighted or oppressed, you might remind him or her that blogs are free. And if you have something interesting to say (or even if you don’t, sometimes), people will eventually notice you.

2a. Don’t feed trolls. I also wish that people who know better would just ignore the type of comment described above, especially those left on Blogorama. It’s good to engage with people who have opposing viewpoints, but only if they’re legitimately interested in honest intellectual debate. Arguing with trolls quickly turns into a screaming match. This might be somewhat amusing when discussing Civil War or something else that doesn’t fucking matter–hell, I think there’s some value to trolling in such a situation. But this is actually somewhat serious shit. Pick your words carefully; don’t let something that matters to you devolve into a cable news talk show.

There’s another couple rules in there, along with a lot more text, all of it worth reading.

He says there what I say here but in a much more concise and less-rambly manner.

For a blog based on hating other, lesser, blogs, Dick’s blog is top notch.

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G’wan and walk it out…

June 5th, 2007 Posted by david brothers

Oh, man, it’s been a minute! Where have I been? Busy, that’s where!

In terms of work stuff, I have been co-writing Guide for The Darkness. I think the game drops later this month? I went to one of these Hot Import Nights show. Better yet– it was for work. I’d never been to an import tuner show, mainly because my taste runs more toward Continentals and Cadillacs than RX-7s and Mazda 3s, you know? It was cool. A lot more models than I expected, though. I didn’t get to see any of San Diego, either, and that kind of sucks! I’ve also been doing a gaggle of galloping game manuals. Curiously, all of them are nerdy or comic game franchises. In fact, the manual I’m wrapping up tomorrow morning is related to a certain franchise that Dark Horse publishes.

In terms of real life stuff, I’ve been adjusting to life in San Francisco, trying to figure out a workable budget that’ll let me stock my place and pay my bills, picking up a diet, and I’m probably going to start exercising here in my place. Need to find a pull-up bar that doesn’t need screws, but that ain’t likely. I’ve also been burning through these Entourage DVD sets I have. I haven’t had a haircut or a shave in a over month now. Time to lose the stubble and cut my hair down to a proper 1/8 inch. Gotta find somebody to do the hair line, though.

My neighbor, I think downstairs-ish, is playing Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer right now. Last week, it was Sade. I can’t really fault her taste in music, you know? Really laid back. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ludacris and Outkast, myself.

Life is weird. Life is good.

In terms of internet stuff, I’ve been thinking up clever MySpace display names (“Darling, after Valentine’s, I’ve decided!” [get it?]), modding Something Awful’s comics forum (which really isn’t that hard), chatting about ISSUES IN COMICS with people I know, and reading and enjoying most of the blogosphere. Listening to podcasts, too. Check the Funnybook Babylon link on the right-hand side, there.

A couple people said on a blog that there are no non-stereotypical or non-offensive non-white male characters in comics. That was an interesting two days diversion, I must say.

In terms of blogging stuff… I’ve been slacking. I owe a certain comics blog that I really enjoy a guest post (which I’ve finally cracked after a few weeks of stage fright/lack of time). I owe 4l a ton of posts, too.

I’ve been trying to get things straight in my mind. I want to talk about how Nymphet getting canceled made me realize that I, and probably a lot of other people, only care about the first amendment when it suits me. Change comics? Whoo! Cancel pedo books? Whoo! Censor a book I like? Whoa, nelly! Hold up there.

How do making a change in someone else’s comics to reduce sexism/racism/*ism and respecting their right to free speech track? It’s an interesting dilemma. If you have any insight, feel free to share. I’ve thought about making this a separate post, but I don’t feel like I have my mind wrapped around it right yet.

I’ve also been wondering how to follow up my big post from the other weekend, too. I mean, how can you drop a manifesto and then come back with “Deadpool sure is cool hurrrrrr” you know? Here’s the answer: you won’t know how until you do it.

Anyway! I’m well-rested after my weekend in San Diego (kind of) and I really want to get back to 4l. The review post I owe you is up next (and I plan to write it tonight so I won’t be a liar!) and then hopefully some good stuff.

Peace up, A-towns down!

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