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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: Lois & Clark

There is a disclaimer I would like to make in beginning to review the TV show, Lois & Clark. Although a show that is only a little over 20 years old shouldn't seem so archaic, we have to bear in mind that we, living in 2015, have been spoiled by a fast paced digital world. This digital word has progressed so vastly that the graphics we endure in TV shows and movies now is so subversively modern that anything that is even remotely not "up to date" looks awful. With that said, I want to stay away from reviewing the integrity of the graphics of this show and stick mainly to the authenticity of the actors, plot, origins and so forth in respect to the Superman comics that have been read/discussed in class. Also, I am reviewing based off of the first few episodes in the very first pilot season and not the entirety of the season or series.

The character set up is familiar. We have Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, and Perry White. Although as we know some of these characters developed later in the Superman series, these are the characters that have become associated with Superman. There are a few minor characters in the show that serve as foils for the major characters, for example, Lois Lane's sister, who is Jimmy Olsen's love interest. Also Clark's parents who he visits for dinner almost every evening it seems.

The pilot episode is in itself the length of a movie (about one and a half hours!), but it clearly sets up Clark Kent becoming Superman (or the name that was given to him by the public). There is an amusing montage where Clark realizes that if he wants to be able to help people he will need a disguise and so his mother sews multiple costumes. The montage is Clark trying on various costumes  which poke fun at the Superhero genre and the ridiculousness of the superhero costumes. Within the pilot episode, we have foreshadowing that Lex Luthor will cause trouble throughout the show, we also have the conflict of Clark trying to figure out his own past and figure out his origins. On top of that we have Lois Lane who is too busy to date because she is career obsessed or as some may argue, too afraid to let her guard down. One thing I think it is crucial to point out is that in the Superman comics, Lois shows no interest whatsoever towards Clark Kent, only Superman. In the show, however, Lois does show a little bit of interest in Clark. Lois gets jealous when she thinks that Clark is sleeping with someone else at the Daily Planet and Lois is also speechless when she comes over to pick up Clark and he opens the door shirtless. I think this element is important because rather then showing that Lois is solely obsessed with Superman and not his alter ego, it shows that Lois is attracted to potentially both sides of Superman/Clark. In the show Lois still idealizes Superman, but what girl wouldn't? Some guy is saving you out of a flying plane, yeah, I would also be love struck too.

Overall, the show captured my attention enough to continue watching and stayed relatively true to the tropes in the actual comics. It is hard to say from only a few episodes but it did set up enough to dwell a little bit deeper into the show.

Review: Legacy Comics & Cards in Glendale, CA

Legacy Comics and Cards in Glendale has been around for quite sometime. I remember going there when I was a freshman in high school, so as far as my knowledge knows, they have been around for at least a decade. With that said, I actually haven't been in there since that time so I thought that this semester this would be my one stop shop for anything comics.

The store itself is relatively small but the use of space is great because it really takes advantage of ever inch of the store to pack as many comics/action figures/graphic novels/specialty items in the store as possible. If you were to take one walk through the entire store it would be clear on where everything is or at least the general area of where something may be. Also, the store has a second room which they call the "game room" where, as the name suggests, people can play games. 

Since the store is small, the workers that are there are more than willing to help with finding something or answering any silly questions that your brain comes up with. Everyone is well educated in comics and superheroes and their inventory. If for example, they are unsure of something, they will either ask someone else or look it up to find an answer for you. But overall, the humans that work there are extensively knowledgable about all things comics.

Now, how do Superheroes play a role in this comic shop? To begin, if you take a look at the images below, you will notice that the store's vast majority of comics and the ones that are visibly the most important, are superhero comics. There are three small bookshelves dedicated to graphic novels that don't seem to be correlated with the superhero genre. Among them I found a graphic novel of Bob's Burgers and Blankets by Craig Thompson. The importance of superheroes is even seen in the glass locked case that has original prints of Iron Man and The X-Men. I think that this generation is very much obsessed with superheroes. Although this isn't the "Golden Age" of comics and now we have things like web comics and graphic novels, there is this obsession with superheroes and specifically that. Evidently, there is some want/need for superheroes if the entirety of a comic book shop is revolved heavily around pushing and selling superhero comics and publishers are continuously making new issues. Even a university class is being taught on the genre of superheroes! It would be foolish to say that this wasn't important, because it obviously is. Superheroes, and I know I have mentioned this in previous blog posts, are a medium of discovery and fantasy. The genre is more progressive because it is relatable on numerous levels because of its specificity and vagueness at the same time. Look at the giant wall in the image below. Those are all comics that are new and are being produced and they are all different. And the beautiful thing about that wall is that someone can walk into that store and look at it and find something that fits THEIR needs and relates to THEM on the level they want it to.  

All new release issue floppies may be found on this extensive wall and a half
Game Room
Older comics are stored in these environmentally friendly "file" cabinets 
Selection of non superhero Graphic Novels
Compilations of marvel/dc comics. Batman and Superman Chronicles can be found here. 
Action Figures!
In this locked case are original prints of some comics we have studied in class priced in the quadruple digits!

BATGIRL: Convergence Issue...HUH?

This is the final post for my floppy comic series that I have been following this semester and I will try to keep it short and sweet. By the time I got to this issue, I was relatively skeptical of Batgirl or, Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. The last issue left me unimpressed but I was curious to see what would happen in the next issue. To my surprise, when I was picking up my new issue, something was different. I even had to ask to make sure I was buying the correct comic. The issue of Batgirl that I picked up is part of the Convergence series, which is a summer thing that DC does to bring back some old characters. a Convergence of the DC universe of previous characters that took the roles of these superheroes. In this Batgirl issue, the basic premise, according to the IGN webpage, is about Stephanie Brown who "...is not sure she wants to be Batgirl again. But when Flashpoint Catman attacks, Red Robin and Black Bat call her back into service". 

I like the idea of having a Convergence issue or issues like this. However, I did have to do some research on the DC comics website to understand the characters a bit more and thankfully there was some background information that was readily available on the characters in this issue on the website. Another flaw that I see with this type of issue is the fact that it can filter out a lot of people who would potentially be interested in reading this. The issue made me feel like I didn't know what was going on if I wasn't familiar with DC or previous Gotham city characters. This gave a sense of elitism that perhaps some people may chose to stay away from.

Overall, the comic felt as though I jumped into the middle of it and by the end of it, I still felt confused as to what had happened through the span of it. The first half of the comic is Batgirl with a few other superheroes fighting off "King Kong" and the second half is Stephanie making out with her ex? I guess I have to wait for the next issue for some clarity, or wait until this convergence business is over and go back to Batgirl as Barbara Gordon...   

The Shadow Hero or The Green Turtle or The Jade Tortoise or The Golden Man of Bravery or Whatever

The Shadow Hero was probably one of my favorite texts that was assigned this semester. It was witty and funny but very aware of the superhero genre and cultural anxiety. We discussed in class how Ms. Marvel was an overall "aware of its genre" comic book and it wouldn't be far off to say that The Shadow Hero was similar in that aspect as well. One example of this idea is the fact that superheroes exist in the world presented in this comic. More closely, there is a dominant superhero called "The Anchor of Justice", who is a Superman prototype. Anyone who is familiar with the Superman comics will automatically associate the created dominant superhero in The Shadow Hero  and correlate him with the man from Krypton. Another example of this comic being aware of its genre is seen on pg.118 when the Detective and The Green Turtle are talking and he states the racist comment "Face it hero! Those sneaky slant-eyed bastards made a rube outta you! Outta US! Sometimes I wish--". This shows the assumption that the detective had that The Green Turtle was white and couldn't possible be, oh I don't know, Chinese perhaps? This was done purposefully because the Superhero genre has been dominant towards the white culture and therefore this is making a critique on that, that even this fictional character is assuming that all superheroes are white.

The cultural anxiety that the comic brings up are very critical of the way the Chinese are perceived in American culture, however, it doesn't seem to give closure for all of these claims. It presents these perceptions in a critical and mocking way but doesn't seem to give retribution for these claims.

My favorite character in the book was Hank's mother, the way she was portrayed was amusing and her strong persona was charming. She is an interesting character because although she was greatly resentful of her life, she still loved Hank and wanted the best for him even though she saw him as someone who didn't make her proud (until the end) just like her husband. Her comments kept the mood light during pivotal moments in the book.  

Watchmen

Watchmen was undeniably the most dense comic we have read in the semester. Actually, Watchmen was probably one of the most dense books I've read all semester throughout all of my classes! Part of the reason that the this book is so dense is because there are many characters and the book does actually follow the various characters independently, as well as codependently. Each character has a unique element to the overall plot. On top of the fact that there are multiple characters that are of equal importance, there is the plot or murder/mystery of The Comedian and Dr. Manhattan's mystery or the possibility that he may be exposing people to cancer.

I wanted to focus on two things when analyzing Watchmen. The first thing is the overall tone of the book. It is evident that the tone is very cynical. Even when I first began to read it, only a few chapters in, the cynicism was there. The stripping of the masked heroes, nuclear war, The Comedian being dead, etc. I think The Comedian can stand for a lot of things and in this case The Comedian being dead can simply mean that there is nothing to laugh about, everything that is happening is not a laughing matter. This conceptual view of The Comedian underscores that cynical tone.

The second thing I wanted to focus on would be point of view. There are multiple narrators in this comic, multiple perspectives. This multiple narration can lead to a subjective take but it can also lead to a very objective take because it leaves the reader with insight into each character or the majority of the characters where the reader choses which narrator is most reliable. This can also be quite confusing too, as it was for me.

Overall, this was a difficult comic to engage in and I feel as though it is a comic that needs to be read multiple times in order to really be able to understand it more in depth and in an overall conceptual level.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Presenting: STOMP GIRL

STOMP GIRL was inspired by Kill Bill, the 2014 Versace Atelier Collection Fashion Show, and the very first day of class in Eng 495SH


BACKGROUND/BRIEFING: "The pregnant Bride and her groom rehearse their wedding. Bill, the Bride's former lover, father of her child, and leader of the Deadly Viper's Assassination Squad, arrives unexpectedly. On Bill's orders, the Deadly Vipers kill everyone at the wedding, but the Bride survives and swears revenge.
Four years later, the Bride has already assassinated the former Deadly Vipers Veronica Green and O-Ren Ishii She goes to the trailer of Bill's brother and former Deadly Viper Budd, planning to ambush him. Budd is expecting her and shoots her in the chest with a shotgun blast of rock salt, then sedates her. He calls Elle Driver, another former Deadly Viper, and arranges to sell her the Bride's Hanzo sword for a million dollars. He seals the Bride inside a coffin and buries her alive.
Years earlier, Bill tells the young Bride of the legendary martial arts master Pai Mei and his Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, a death blow that Mei refuses to teach his students; the technique will supposedly kill any opponent when he or she takes five steps. Bill takes the Bride to Mei's temple to be trained by him. Mei ridicules her and makes her training a torment, but she gains his respect. In the present, the Bride uses Mei's martial arts techniques to break out of the coffin and claw her way to the surface.
Elle arrives at Budd's trailer and kills him with a black mamba hidden with the money for his sword. She calls Bill and tells him that the Bride has killed Budd, and that Elle has killed the Bride. She uses the Bride's real name: Beatrix Kiddo. As Elle exits the trailer, Beatrix ambushes her and they fight. Elle, who was also taught by Pai Mei, reveals that she poisoned him in retribution for plucking out her eye. Beatrix plucks out Elle's remaining eye and leaves her screaming in the trailer with the black mamba..." (Wikipedia)


Stomp Girl aka Chloe Ford is the daughter of Budd. Just as Beatrix and Elle were trained by Pai Mei, so was Chloe. Although Chloe was not particularly close to her father, she was very close to her Uncle Bill. Uncle Bill was the one who sent her to her training with Pai Mei. Although Chloe never wanted to be an assassin like her father and uncle, the assassination will ran through her veins. Once Chloe found out that her father and uncle were killed, she knew she had to seek vengeance. She knew she must seek vengeance upon the person that killed them. Not realizing that Elle Driver was the one who killed her father, Chloe begins her quest for Beatrix (The Bride), thinking that she is the one who killed her father and uncle.

Chloe is a skilled fighter. Budd did not hide anything from her and that was part of the reason that she wasn't that close with him. He opened her eyes to things that she didn't ask to see. However, Chloe knew who her father was, who her uncle was and who her family was surrounded by.

Chloe's weapon of choice? Normally, Chloe would fight with a Hanzo sword because that is what Uncle Bill wanted her to train and fight with. However, her choice was always a golden chained lasso that has a pom poms at the ends of it. She created this weapon and learned to fight with this weapon because growing up, her favorite comic was Wonder Woman and she liked her lasso. The poms poms are there not only for aesthetics but to entertain her victims viscously, who dare make fun of her for having them. After her fathers death she began to be very curious about snakes as she knew that she had to impose her victims with the same death and suffering that her father endured. Chloe wears very tall boots with a deadly heel. This deadly heel has her pet snakes in it that seeps it's venom into her victims.

Why Stomp Girl? Because her wears tall shoes and she walks around in heels without being heard. You can't hear her stomps and therefore you can't hear her coming, IT'S IRONIC.   

Image by Rodolphe Guenoden

Paper: ROUGH DRAFT

The Hulk's Masculinity in a Changing America
Dr. Bruce Banner is an unimpressive scientist who accidentally exposed himself to gamma rays which turned him into the Hulk. The Hulk, as we know him to be, is larger then the average human. His features are distorted and simplified and his skin tone changes into a non-human hue. All of these features are ignited in the evening. Neither Banner nor the Hulk portray a definitive, ideal version of a masculine man. Banner is weak and the Hulk is so strong that he is a brute. This imbalance throughout subverts the idea of an idealized masculinity and instead shows an overly, extorted masculine character. This overly masculine character serves as a reaction to a changing mentality in American values towards women, a shift towards the feminist movement.
In order to be able to understand how the Hulk subverts an idealized masculine form, masculinity and the masculine form must be defined in terms of this genre. Masculinity can be defined “as a masquerade” (Weltzien 229). With that said, “ 'true', or 'real' masculinity is represented as manifested in a certain charisma, better than average looks, a strong and imposing physique, the capacity for courageous, even daring acting, and a stoic attitude, all liberally laced with a strong sense of the social good and with a pronounced strain of ethical rectitude, mitigated by compassion (Gough & Robertson). Superman, appearing in 1938 is probably the first, definitive example of this masculine embodiment. This embodiment of masculinity inspired other comics in a similar way, for example Batman; Batman similarly has an idealized form. Fast forward a few decades, however, and the entrance of the Hulk subverts this idea. Rather then creating another idealized superhero figure, “the green-skinned monster is a representation of that primal masculinity—wild and unbound yet suppressed by the demands of decorum” (Genter 964-5). The Hulk, rather then embracing the masculine form is continuously seen as a brute force. Not only is the Hulk larger in size than, for example, Batman or Superman, but he is also green in color. His facial features are reminiscent of a caveman that we would study as primitive. Although the Hulk is seen as hypermasculine, the embodiment of masculinity is still a different aspect of the one we saw in Superman, per se. Where Superman is god-like and dreamy, the Hulk is primative. He has “... embodiments of hegemonic masculinity” and is “ tough, super-strong, stoic in the face of pain, unemotional, and aggressive” and the fact that his alter ego is quite the opposite of that (Klein 267). “In fact, it is the very mediocrity of the alter ego that lends a superhuman quality to the more macho metamorphosis” (Klein 267).
Moving forward, the Hulk, who embodies this hyper masculine form can be seen as a reaction to a postwar America. Women were entering the work force, as well as fighting for their own civil rights and men were trying to adjust to this environment. Since women were finding new roles in society, men began to be concerned with their roles surrounding that (Genter 963). “The most substantial shift was the rise of postindustrialism, as the country transformed from a goods-producing society to a service-centered one and the American worker transformed from the brawny, muscular industrial laborer from the turn-of-the-century into the conformist white-collar worker of the 1950s” (Genter 963). This is significant because the concern for this noticeable shift can be seen in the Hulk. The Hulk is Bruce Banner and as mentioned previously the two characters are opposite emblems of each other. In the very second comic we see the narrators juxtapose the two characters;“Where Doctor Banner had been Gentle, the Hulk was brute! Where Banner had been civilized, the Hulk was a savage! Where Banner was a man, The Hulk was a monster!...” (Lee & Kirby 4). Considering the shift in ideals and considering the fact that “men are partially ignited by feminist thought”, the Hulk can be seen as a a reaction, or overcompensation for the forward progress of feminist ideals (Klein 16). “Thus the initial concern about nuclear holocaust presented in the first issue was quickly supplanted by the other ideological purpose the Hulk served—as a symbolic attempt to solve the growing crisis in American masculinity within postwar life” (Genter 962). Where the “...creators visually emphasized both their musculature and gender differences,” as well as, creating a gender binaries (Taylor 345).
To conclude, although the Hulk can be seen as another highly masculine comic book character, his character actually subverts the ideals behind the prototype of the comic book masculinity but being a larger then life character. His exaggerated features serve as a new type of masculinity that can be seen as a reaction to a postwar movement towards more feminist ideals.

Works Cited


Genter, Robert. “ “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”: Cold War Culture and the Birth of Marvel Comics.The Journal of Popular Culture 40.6 (2007): 953-978. Wiley Online Library. Web. 27 April 2015

Gough, Brendan and Robertson,‬ Steve. Men, Masculinities and Health: Critical Perspectives‬. New
York: Palgrave Macmillion, 2009. eBook.

Kirby, Jack and Lee, Stan. Incredible Hulk #2. New York: Marvel Comics, July 1962.

Klein, Alan. Little Big Men: Bodybuilding Subculture and Gender Construction. Albany: SUNY Press, 1993. eBook

Taylor, Aaron. “ “He's Gotta Be Strong, and He's Gotta Be Fast, and He's Gotta Be Larger Than Life”: Investigating the Engendered Superhero Body.” The Journal of Popular Culture 40.2 (2007): 344-360. Wiley Online Library. Web. 05 May 2015

Weltzien, Friedrich. "Masque-ulinities: Changing Dress as a Display of Masculinity in the Superhero Genre." Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 9.2 (2005): 229-250. EBSCO. Web. 03 May 2015