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The Week's Comics: GA/BC #19, Oracle #2 
19th-Apr-2009 09:33 am
Babs/Dinah, friend
Much of this week's Green Arrow/Black Canary takes place in the Star City Museum of Natural History. There's a panel in which a mounted allosaur is is blown up, and the skeleton has been pencilled with adoring detail; it even has recognisably Saurischian hip anatomy and is lit really dramatically by the explosion.

I mention this because I always like to start a review with something positive, and this dinosaur was the only thing I liked. The only thing.

Actually, I will say that I didn't hate the interior art in general. Norton's pencils are pretty good, and his facial expressions are great; the characters are only distinguishable by hairstyle/clothing and in the case of the men, beards, and he appears to suffer from that artist delusion that women don't need to digest food and therefore have no internal organs below their ribcage, but it's much better than looking at say, Benes.

The cover art I do hate. Because good god that thing's ugly. Black Canary and Poison Arrow involved in what appears to be a slap fight, in which Dinah's costume has come undone again (what is it about cover artists and Black Canary's costume? Batman's flies never come unzipped on covers), they both have pornface and neither has eyes. And for some reason, Dinah's hair looks like a wig again. It's just bad.

And as for the writing - if you don't mind that the plot is 'woman is rescued by Green Arrow, woman falls in love with Green Arrow, woman turns into homocidal stalker and that's your scary villain', then you still have to deal with the idea that Kreisburg appears to have not read anything with Ollie or Dinah in it before. I mean, it's marginally better than Winick - I'll credit Kreisburg with having at least checked their Wikipedia pages, but the slap fight on the cover is still in the plot - the Black Canary, one of the DCU's top level martial artist, takes three whole pages to fight with an unarmed, unpowered unskilled woman and still doesn't defeat her, Ollie has 'allowed something dark to grow' in him, despite being a complete wuss in comparison to Grell's version, and oh, Dinah hits him.

I'm kind of sick of this, now. Why is everyone who writes Ollie or Dinah now somehow under the impression that she's a spouse abuser? Really?

This is the second time in as many writers I'm cancelling my subscription for this title.

As much as I hated GA/BC's cover art, I think it's only fair to say that I do like the cheesecake aspect of the Oracle: The Cure covers. Yeah, I know this whole cover is about peering down the top of the greatest information mastermind in the DCU, in an aspect that says little about her abilities, character or the plot of the book, but it's so pretty. This is cheescake comic covers the way cheesecake comic covers should be done. And the interior art is good too. Artwise, I like it.

The writing lets it down, partly by the omnious thrid person narrative informing us how obsessed Babs is becoming with her disability and how bizarrely aggressive and 'dark' she's getting - I in no way blame Vanhook for the weird turn her personality has taken; that appears to be editorial mandate that was making the last few issues of Birds of Prey particularly jarring as well - but this story is two thirds of the way through and it's still not gripped me yet.

I'll say this, though; I'm not sure why there's all this speculation about 'will Babs get her legs back', when it seems clearly obvious to me that in a plot which is 'disabled hero races for cureall in competition with villain whose daughter is dying', there's really only one outcome. Well, unless they pull a 'hero is cured and then broods over the fact she 'let' an innocent girl die', which would annoy me greatly to say the least. And as there's no patricular satisfaction from a 'good story well told' in this mini, I can't shake the feeling that this 'big event tie-in' wasn't particularly worth it.

But then, in this case, I'd rather be disappointed than have two redheaded able bodied batheroines running around Gotham, especially if Babs is not going to be the one headling the company's flagship title. Let's give Kate the chance to become an actual character before we start filling her niche with the most famous woman ever to wear the batlogo, shall we?
19th-Apr-2009 08:36 am (UTC)
Your HTML is a bit borked!
19th-Apr-2009 08:38 am (UTC)
No it isn't!

19th-Apr-2009 08:39 am (UTC)
IIiiii saw nothing.
19th-Apr-2009 08:58 am (UTC)
Not only does he draw them as if they have no internal organs, but he seems to have given the illusion that BC has a rather...er..large EXTERNAL organ.:P

19th-Apr-2009 09:11 am (UTC)
You see the bulge too? We thought it was just us!

I've decided that's it's just the pubic bone, which sticks out on her more than on other women because she has no stomach! (Although it's not nearly as bad as the interior art. At least Poison Arrow has muscles on the cover - only thing I'll give it)
21st-Apr-2009 10:59 am (UTC)

I think the artist should do some figure drawing classes, to get an idea of what's actually going on inside a woman's leotard.
19th-Apr-2009 09:42 am (UTC)
OKAY NOW THAT THAT ICON POST OF DOOM AND WOE IS DONE WITH I CAN COMMENT. I like it when you post about comics, I feel less out of my depth. Anyway, as of the cancellation of Blue Beetle, I'm not actively reading any DC. I'll pick up Wonder Woman once in a while if I have to top off my order (my shop has a stupid policy that you have to spend x amount before you can use your credit card and I never remember to pick up cash), but that's it.

I had been thinking about Black Canary/Green Arrow... and I guess this answers my question. That cover art leaves me wondering if the artist has ever seen a HUMAN BEING, much less a woman. Once in a while I'll come across something like this and go "I CAN DO THAT, WHY CAN'T I HAVE A JOB IN COMICS?" and then I remember I have zero networking skills and a uterus, and move on. Without having read anything in the book and only having a passing familiarity with the characters, it's interesting to me that Canary's hitting Ollie. Is it at all addressed within the context of the story as domestic violence? Or is it not taken seriously because she's a woman? I mean, my God, Hank Pym hit Jan under mind control and we're all still obsessing over it two decades later.

I also adore the cover for Oracle. I've been thinking a lot recently about how lesbians and bisexual women respond to things aimed at the male gaze, it's a very tricky question but an interesting one. Although, admittedly in my case, it mostly boils down to "BOOBIES." Because I am twelve.

If Babs gets out of the chair, I will be massively upset. Not only will it undo most of what I loved about Birds of Prey, it will take away one of the very few non-able-bodied heroes in comics and put her back in the Bat's shadow. She's an independent woman who's done well for herself and by herself. I'm waiting to see if she stays that way before I put any money into it, because if we're going to turn back the character-development plot for Babs I'll give a big fat "NO THANKS."
19th-Apr-2009 01:15 pm (UTC)
You know Beetle is being brought back as a second feature in Booster Gold? I'm not sure whether the page counts have been confirmed yet, but since the marginal costs of extra pages are pretty minimal, and it's intended to recompense people for a price hike to $3.99, I'm expecting 8-10 pages, maybe more.

And wasn't Pym hitting Janet during the breakdown which came between his brainwashing by Ultron and his manipulation by Egghead? On top of which, frankly I have little sympathy for anything Pym tries to blame on Ultron given he made Ultron.
19th-Apr-2009 03:14 pm (UTC)
Oh! No I haven't heard that. Thanks.

And you might be right, my memory is a little fuzzy at the moment. But, still, it happened a long time ago, once, and both Hank and Jan dealt with it. WHY is it -- rather than, I don't know, building Ultron -- still Hank's defining flaw?
19th-Apr-2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
This was brought up - by Janet herself, as it happens - in the opening storyline of Mighty Avengers, and was part of a pretty good refocus of Pym's character over the past few years, whereby hitting Janet is but one part of the overall mountain of loserdom that is Hank Pym. Other 'highlights' include the Skrulls impersonating him repeatedly killing themselves because they couldn't bear to be him, the bit where he gets into a pissing contest over their relative IQs with a teenage boy, and the part where he's now hooked up with a robot who has his dead wife's brain patterns and sometimes impersonates her. Classy.
19th-Apr-2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
It is not taken seriously because she's a woman. Seriously, this has happened twice in the last month. In this issue, it's because he tased her and left her unconscious in order to confront Merlyn, which... OK. In JLA, she summoned Hal and Ollie into the Trinity's secret room in the JLAHQ in order to deck him in front of GL.

Neither of which, IMO is acceptable because Dinah just doesn't have a violent temper like that. She's the powerful one in the relationship, she can kill a man with her bare hands, win a fight in a few seconds, has been trained her entire life in martial arts which are about self control &c &c; she has never lost her temper and responded with violence. So why is she suddenly beating up her husband? Because that's what women do when they're angry.

I think there's an overlap between the mainstream 'male gaze' and what lesbians/bisexual women find attractive, but I know that a lot of men don't respond to supposedly 'sexy' images, so I think the mainstream image of what's sexy doesn't necessarily coincide with what's copnsidered sexy by most real people. Still, finding lesbian-centric eye candy blogs like Dorothy Snarker was quite the revelation.
19th-Apr-2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
...that first cover terrifies me. Black Canary has a penis and goes straight from enormous boobs to hips without much of a torso in between. You'd think she'd have a bigger support system for that rack. Poison Arrow has an unnaturally long right arm and is apparently trying to punch BC in the stomach from behind her.
20th-Apr-2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
... OMG. I thought the Oracle cover was bad but after seeing the GA/BC cover... I'll happily take the Babs cover over that any day!
20th-Apr-2009 08:15 pm (UTC)
I look at the Oracle cover and I think, "OK, there is an arrow there, but I can disregard it because Babs looks SO CUTE! :3"

Like if I have to put up with cake of either kind, I would prefer it to at least have its own artistic merits.
21st-Apr-2009 10:56 am (UTC)
Yeeuccch! That GA&BC cover is pretty horrible. The anatomy is all wrong. And are they superheroes or porn-stars?

the Oracle one is much better. It may not be subtle, but it looks good and it's much less crass than the other.
17th-Jun-2009 04:57 am (UTC) - You replied to one of my GA/BC reviews a few months ago...
Was going through old entries and followed your journal link. I see you came to the same conclusions I did about Kreisberg in time.

Just thought I'd mention my new project to you. I don't usually self-promote, but it occurs to me that you'd like this.

I Should Write Black Canary/Green Arrow
17th-Jun-2009 06:04 am (UTC) - Re: You replied to one of my GA/BC reviews a few months ago...
Hee! I just found them and read a few of them yesterday after you were linked on WFA! And I love the project. Your 4 things about Black Canary post was dead on.

I should probably friend you so I don't have to wait for the links to be picked up by third parties.
17th-Jun-2009 06:06 am (UTC) - Re: You replied to one of my GA/BC reviews a few months ago...
I knew some of the first few had been linked by WFA but not anymore past that.

And yes... you probably should, even though that link should give you the whole series of them. :)
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