Thursday, July 30, 2009

superheroes!

Over the past couple of days, i've been catching up with DC Comics - Wonder Woman and The Flash specifically - as well as reading a few older series: Static and Birds of Prey. It is very hard to get into a comic universe, like DC, these days. The stories all cross-reference each other so that you have to know the history of character x before you can read about character y. Wikipedia is about the only cure for this.

Static is different; he doesn't really belong to the DCU (at least in the original issues i'm reading - DC made a cartoon, Static Shock, where he teams up with Batman, Green Lantern, etc.). He is a part of the Milestone universe, a wonderfully diverse place that resembles a modern city. Static, when he's not a hero, is a high schooler. He, and his friends, deal with issues that are refreshingly real: gang violence, gay slurs, racism, etc. This is no Spiderman-style angst over not getting the girl (though there is some of that too). What i like most is that it doesn't feel like tokenism; there are black characters, latino/a characters, white characters, gay characters, straight characters because those are the people, not because someone decided to introduce a demographic for the express purpose of representing that demographic.

i'm enjoying Birds of Prey so much i've bought a bunch more of the compendiums. Yes, i get annoyed that the women all have the same rail-thin waists and giant round boobs, and that they are soft and curvy while the male superheroes are over-muscled. And the fan service pictures of tna are ridiculous. But at least here the females aren't working as sidekicks to a central male hero. And Oracle - wheelchair bound genius former Batgirl Barbara Gorden - is awesome. So awesome that i'm resisting reading Batman's Battle for the Cowl and Oracle: The Cure because i'm afraid they're going to do exactly that - "fix" Barbara. Who is more interesting as Oracle than she ever was as Batgirl, honestly. i especially enjoy Birds of Prey for what it is not: a Sex and the City of comics (as Marvel has advertised their new female superhero comic; fuck "bubbly fun").

The "Who is Wonder Woman?" stuff was pretty good (some of it written by novelist Jodi Picoult, some written by Gail Simone, who also wrote Birds of Prey for a while). Unfortunately she still has that dumbass costume, but the references to her influence in pop culture are pretty cool. Wonder Woman is more kickass than ever.

What i'm really waiting for, though, is a comic where superheroes - both male and female - have real bodies of different shapes and sizes. Because a gymnist like Nighthawk should look like a gymnist, not a weightlifter. And a fighter like Black Canary should have a different build than the more acrobatic and weapon inclined Huntress.

And not all superheroines need manicures, thank-you-very-much.

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