Sunday, July 29, 2012
Saturday, July 28, 2012
My second submission to THIS! features my favorite comic book character, Oracle, in one of her earlier appearances. This is from Suicide Squad v1, #56, August 1991, written by John Ostrander and Kim Yale, pencils by Geof Isherwood.
I have many favorite moments featuring Babs Gordon as Oracle but I chose this one because I feel it represents the moment Babs stopped being a supporting character, she stopped being in the shadow of the Bat and started becoming the leader she would continue to be for the next 20 years (ironically it would be exactly 20 years later, in August 2011, that she would stop being a leader to go back in the Bat’s shadow).
This page, and in particular the second panel, shows Ostrander and Yale’s strength as writers as they only need one silent panel to express Babs’ feelings, all her fears and insecurities as she’s asked to become a hero once more for the first time since that tragic encounter with Joker.
In an earlier issue Amanda Waller asked Babs to step in as leader of the Squad in case of her incapacitation. After the Wall is almost fatally shot, Oracle needs to face her responsibilities and for the first time since being wounded by the Joker Babs has to find the strength to put her tragedy behind and start a new life as a leader with the lives of many in her hands. There’s only one moment of hesitation before she finally decides that people need her to be a hero again, people’s lives are at risk and she’s the only one who can help them. And thanks to Amanda’s help and support in the previous issues Babs is finally ready to move on and become the new kind of hero the Squad needs.
This is such a great moment of the character’s development, and I also love that this is something that Ostrander and Yale built up having Babs face another great female character like The Wall. The friendship the two authors build between Amanda and Babs is such an unexpected one that ultimately makes better heroes of both women.
Captain America #114, by Stan Lee and Johnny Romita
Captain America #114, by Stan Lee and Johnny Romita
Rogue rescues Wolverine and Mariko
X-Men #173, 1983. Writer: Chris Claremont. Artist: Paul Smith
This was the first issue of the X-Men I ever bought, and it made me a fan of Rogue. She’d defected from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and sought help from Professor Xavier to control her powers. The X-Men still didn’t trust her—heck, they didn’t even like her. But she worked and sacrified to prove herself to them. This issue is a prime example. In time, Rogue became a fan-favorite character and a trusted member of the team. Here, she’s willing to put her life on the line for Wolverine—and for Mariko, who treated her with kindness.
I love Buffy. And the moment that made me adore her in comics, was in Slayer, Interrupted. It’s a big splash page, and it’s the moment when she walks out of the institute, and behind her the doctor says: “Do not go gently into the night, Buffy Summers. Hold on to that part of you that is so unique to you. Show them how long a Slayer can live.” Buffy’s expression at that point in time is so beautiful. There’s so much power there and so much serenity all at the same time. She’s the Slayer. The one who will change the world. She’s Buffy. She’s all hero.
Okay, there isn’t many a moment where I pick up a comic & actually read it without stopping. Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel #, is one of them. She brings a voice not heard of often with Carol; it’s fun, it’s breezy, it’s moving, &, well, it’s simply marvelous! The picture that I, hopefully, have put up here, is pages 13, 14 & 15, because, DAMMIT, THIS is how you write Carol Danvers! You write Carol, Kelly, with determination, grace, wit, & charm, that not only feels realistic, but is believable & damned human. So, from the bottom of my heart, I, and all of the Carol fans, out here, thank you. Just. Thank. You.
I struggled to choose a THIS! moment for my Batgirl, Steph Brown. Several of my favorite Steph moments — her announcement to Scarecrow that she is who she chooses to be, her never-say-die “Same time tomorrow?” to Cass Cain during a brutal training session — had already been chosen.
It was also hard to choose because there is no single, defining moment as which Stephanie Brown became “my” Batgirl. I was a lifelong Batman fan but a lapsed comic book reader when I picked up her title on a whim one afternoon several years ago, some half a dozen issues before her series would be brought to a close with “Flashpoint” and the New 52. Originally, I picked up the book merely because it had occurred to me that there was a monthly comic book series out there with a female Bat, and even if Steph wasn’t a Bat I had encountered before (I knew only of Barbara and Cass), I couldn’t see any reason not to give her series a try. In those final six months of its run, it became the book I first turned to when I returned home from my LCS — but it wasn’t until many weeks into the New 52 that I started to realize just how much I missed Steph under the Batgirl cowl.
I think it took me so long to realize exactly what Steph’s Batgirl had come to mean to me precisely because there wasn’t one big, epic moment that solidified her character for me. Instead, it was so many smaller moments — moments where Steph made a joke or fell asleep in class or flirted with a guy or told someone off or disobeyed Barbara or argued with Damian or stood up to Bruce or enjoyed a plate of waffles with her mom. Steph wasn’t just a prop, she was a person, a completely three-dimensional character in her own right — with a hundred little details that made her the rare female comic book character that I could truly connect with.
I love the big, epic scenes in comic books. I will never forget Huntress facing down the Joker and refusing to back down at the end of “No Man’s Land.” And Harley Quinn besting the Joker in finding an unbeatable death trap for Batman in “Mad Love.” And Supergirl taking back her power from the Black Banshee in the New 52. But I don’t want just the epic. Because it’s the little details that make a character truly “human.”
And that’s why I chose this scene from the end of Issue #13 of Bryan Q. Miller’s run on “Batgirl” as my THIS! moment. It is one of many moments that show my Batgirl as a real character, a real person — an undefeatable optimist who, in the grandest tradition of the Bat, *will not quit* no matter how many times she’s knocked down. And she does it all with a shot of hope, a quick quip, and a smile.
And waffles. Don’t forget the waffles.
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Wonder Woman and Love
Wonder Woman #10 Spoilers:
Binding her with her own lasso of truth, Hell asks Wonder Woman, who he is forcing to marry him, if she loves him.
This is one of those moments intended to be utterly shocking, maybe it’s supposed to look like Wonder Woman is giving up and giving in, but she’s not.
Diana’s love is her ultimate power. I believe she is the strongest warrior of the Trinity, able to kill when she knows it is necessary (Max Lord), but it is her love is what makes her strong. Love is ultimately her reason for coming to America in past iterations, and love should ultimately be how she wins battles. And this is indeed what happens in Wonder Woman #10.
I wrote an entire blog post on why Wonder Woman in this issue is striking and important. Wonder Woman is a wonderful, complex character with many layers, and I love that her love is one of those layers once again.
There are only about three people who Power Girl seems willing to cry in front of: Superman, Dr. Mid-Nite, and Ma Hunkel.
Ma Hunkel is the lynchpin of the JSA, she is steadfast and supportive, and while she does not resume the guise of Red Tornado, she is just as strong without it.
Even when she doesn’t really understand what’s going on, Ma is always there for the JSA. And she is always there for Power Girl as a shoulder to cry on.
JSA Classified #4 Story by Geoff Johns, art by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti.
Stephanie Brown is no damsel in distress
For most members of the Batfamily Steph is still the girl that started a gang war. But she has grown since then and proofs she can take care of herself - and that she is a hero in her now right.
- from Red Robin #10 by Chris Yost, marcus To and Ray McCarthy