Category Archives: female characters

Forgotten Women of Comics #2: Phantom Lady

She wasn’t a phantom or ghost. She had no superpowers. She had no gadgets except for her trusty black ray which she used to temporarily blind her enemies. But she was resourceful, smart and determined to get to the bottom of things when it came to crime. The socialite daughter of U.S. senator Henry Knight, Sandra Knight made her first appearance in Quality comics’ Police Comics #1 wearing a yellow one piece suit with a green cape. She was sometimes assisted by her fiance, Don Borden, an agent of the U.S. State Department.

In 1946, Quality folded and Phantom Lady was given to Fox Feature Syndicate, where her popularity exploded thanks to artist Matt Baker, one of the rare black artists working in comics at the time. His depictions of women were controversial (it was referred to as “good girl art”) but they were also gorgeously drawn. See for yourself.

(Also read this piece about Matt Baker. Someone needs to make a film – or write a biography – about him.)

In fact, Baker’s art was so famous, it was included as an example in Dr. Frederic Wertham’s infamous comics critical book Seduction of the Innocent.

Another change Baker made to Sandra/Phantom Lady was her costume. It was now blue and red – and a little skimpier. But amazingly, she never wore heels, just practical flats. It was during this time that her fiance Don Borden also became – how can I put this? – more clueless about Sandra Knight’s alter ego. She never wore a mask, change her hairstyle, her voice, or her personality as Phantom Lady, yet Don could never put two and two together. Neither could her father. Nevertheless, she was famous in the city she fought crime in and, like Batman, the police department always cooperated with her. She was the talk of the town.

By the early 1950s Ajax-Ferrell Publications took over the character and changed her outfit by covering up her cleavage and her back, but she still basically had the same costume. With flat shoes. In 1956 DC Comics obtained the rights to Phantom Lady. In 1973 she became a member of the Freedom Fighters, a superhero team that lived on Earth-X  where Nazi Germany won World War 2. She is still at DC Comics today. Her alter-ego now goes by the name Stormy Knight or Jennifer Knight.

For the original Quality/Fox/Ajax printed stories, you can purchase them here at Amazon. Or see if they’re available at your local Half Price Books. That’s where I got my collection of PH stories (I own volume 2).

To learn more about Phantom Lady and other classic female superheroes read The Great Women Superheroes by Trina Robbins.

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Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Recap: “The Imposter Inside”

Finally a Padme centic episode! Well, sort of. Ahsoka does most of the fighting. The Naboo senator and the jedi padawan are setting a table – with the help of a handmaiden – for a political dinner party only for Ahsoka to notice that there are utensils on the table, a diplomatic no-no for the guests involved. It’s all the fault of the handmaiden (who curiously is dressed like one of Padme’s handmaidens from The Phantom Menace) who turns out to be a Clawdite assassin out to kill – you guessed it – Padme…again. It’s time for another Ahsoka/Padme tag team fight! Afterwards – dinner!

Questions 

Why is Padme wearing the white jumpsuit she wore in Attack of the Clones when she’s about to play hostess? Shouldn’t she be wearing something more formal? It’s like she knew what was coming…

Final Thoughts

There’s been a lot of wish fulfillment among female fans about Padme’s fate in the prequels. Most wanted her to give up Luke and Leia and then become one of the great leaders of the Rebellion along with Bail and Mon. But after viewing this episode and The Clone Wars, I don’t think instigating a rebellion was in Padme’s blood. Sure, she was present at the secret meetings (albeit reluctantly) among the senators and presented the Petition of 2000 to Chancellor Palpatine but in the end, Padme was a pacifist through and through. Despite her role as leader in the Battle of Naboo, Padme only fights in self defense (that battle was a last resort after her pleas to the senate failed. It also delivered her unwittingly into Palpatine’s clutches). The rest of the time, she is arguing against war and always finding ways to avoid war  much to her detriment. This is why she’s been the target of assassination attempt after assassination attempt – her beliefs aren’t welcome in a galaxy that’s full of scum and villainy.

I’m hoping that if there are more Padme episodes in the near future, we will get some that take place before, during and after The Phantom Menace but before Attack of the Clones. There’s a 10-year gap between episodes 1 and 2 so let’s see more Queen Amidala. What other challenges did she face as Queen in office? Better yet, let’s see some episodes centered around Amidala’s handmaidens, especially Sabe. Or Yane and Sache when they had to stay behind on Naboo during the Trade Federation Crisis. Or an adaptation of Queen in Disguise.  Or an episode about Corde and Dorme, Padme’s handmaidens from Attack of the Clones. The possibilities are endless.

Until next time, Star Warriors. May the Force Be With You.

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Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Recap: “Beasts of Echo Base”

Inspired by a deleted scene from The Empire Strikes Back where snowtroopers are attacked by wampas that live in the caverns of Echo Base where the Rebel Alliance is hiding out, Leia and Artoo are looking for Chewie. Poor Chewie is in the possession (literally) of a sleeping wampa! With no weapons or use of the Force can Leia save Chewie without becoming wampa chow herself?

Highlights

Well the only good thing I can say about this episode is seeing Chewie vulnerable makes him more loveable to me. It’s not that I never liked Chewie, it’s just that Chewie was always the tough, gruff alien that could rip your arms from your sockets or choke you to death. But seeing a bigger predator that scares Chewie enough to make him cry for help makes him seem more…humanoid. You just want to give him a big bear hug and never let him go.

Now for the questions. Actually I only have one:

  • For once can we see Chewie fix something without Artoo’s help?

Over all this episode was OK. It just wasn’t as memorable as “Ewok Escape” or “The Padawan Path”. It didn’t make me want to watch it over and over again. In fact I’m starting to think this series isn’t as good as DC Superhero Girls. It’s not that I expect Star Wars to be just like DC (it’s not). It’s just that Forces of Destiny lacks the charm and empowerment that DC Superhero Girls has. It doesn’t even have the spiritual and philosophical mindset Star Wars is known for (and yes, you can slip in those aspects in three minutes). Even the current merchandise looks underwhelming.

Or maybe I find the series lacking because I feel Disney’s ladies are stealing Lucas’ ladies’ thunder. I feel as if Disney is slowly edging out Leia, Padme and Ahsoka to give their characters more spotlight. It’s like seeing more Star Trek merchandise depicting Captain Janeway instead of Uhura because one was a captain and the other wasn’t.

Or maybe I’m just being a troll.

But don’t worry, I’ll still give a recap for the next episode: The Imposter Inside because Padme’s in it!

Until next time Star Warriors!

 

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Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Recap: “The Padawan Path”

After three years of seeing an adult Ahsoka in Rebels, it’s great to see a Clone Wars era Ahsoka again.

Rampaging robots! Ahsoka must hurry to be in time for her scheduled Jedi ceremony with Yoda and Anakin. But on the way she hears cry for help and sees a mother and child Aleena running from a giant malfunctioning droid, destroying everything in its path. Will Ahsoka risk her chance at becoming a Jedi Knight or will she help those in need? I think you know the answer.

Highlights For This Episode:

  • Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), Matt Lanter (Anakin) and Tom Kane (Yoda) are reunited!
  • Clone Wars fans, our prayers have been answered: we got another CW episode. This story actually takes place between Hunt for Ziro and Heroes on Both Sides.
  • Anakin traded in his scar to become a pretty boy! Someone made this meme in response. No matter what medium he appears in, he’ll always be appealing – except when he becomes Darth Vader of course.
  • The steam that rises from Ahsoka’s lightsabers as she spots a leaky waterpipe reminds me of when Anakin fought Asajj in the rain on Yavin 4 in Star Wars: Clone Wars.
  • In hindsight its sobering to think that Ahsoka will never be appointed a master and Anakin and Yoda will become enemies.

Now For Some Questions:

  • How did that droid get loose anyway? What caused it to malfunction?
  • Why aren’t other jedi present at the ceremony? I know there’s a war going on but the temple is always a busy place.
  • Did she really have to run all the way to the temple? Why not just hitch a ride on a flying taxi cab?

All in all, a good episode. Welcome back Clone Wars.

Up next: Leia vs. the “Beasts of Echo Base”.

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Star Wars: Forces of Destiny Recap: “Ewok Escape”

Forces of Destiny is a hand drawn animated micro-series that centers around the women of Star Wars. They span across the entire saga and can be seen on YouTube and the Disney channel. They will be accompanied by books and toys. I wonder if Disney did this as an answer to DC Superhero Girls. Anyway, I’ll be reviewing some select episodes for the next couple of posts.

“Ewok Escape” is the first Leia-centric episode that shows us what happened between Leia meeting Wicket and Han and Luke’s capture by the Ewoks. Leia is following Wicket through the forest when they come across two stormtroopers bullying a pair of Ewoks. Climbing a tree and making a rope from vine, Wicket successfully ties up the troopers but isn’t heavy enough to lift them off the ground without getting shot. Seeing the whole situation, Leia intervenes, knocking them out and getting a blaster in the process. Next we see Leia at the Ewok village receiving a present: the beige dress she wore in Return of the Jedi. “Does it come with a spear?” she asks.

Here’s what I liked about this episode:

  • Snippets of “Leia’s Theme” and “Ewok Parade” can be heard at the beginning of the episode.
  • It’s canon! So now you can pause Return of the Jedi , watch this episode, then resume.
  • Ewoks, Ewoks, Ewoks! Reminds me of the Ewok cartoons and TV movies. Take that haters!
  • In an age of CGI, it’s great to see a traditionally animated Star Wars cartoon.

And now for some questions, regarding the episode and the entire series in general:

  • Why wasn’t this the first episode of the series? Leia is the First Lady of Star Wars.
  • How did the Ewoks get Leia’s measurements to make the dress?
  • Did they even make the dress or did it belong to another woman?
  • Why did they hire a new voice actress when they could’ve used Julie Dolan since she voiced Leia in Rebels?

And now for questions about the series in general:

  • Why isn’t Padme included in the merchandise line up?
  • Will there be action figures (because not all girls like dolls)?
  • Will there be more than 16 episodes?
  • Will Bultar Swan, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, Shaak Ti or villains like Asajj Ventress and Aurra Sing get their own episodes?

And now for one regret: it’s regrettable that Disney will only do women from the movies and TV shows. This is another reminder of why it was a bad decision for Disney to put an end to the EU. I would’ve loved to have seen some three-minute adventures starring Jaina Solo, Mara Jade, The Singing Mountain Clan, Kerra Holt, Jan Ors, Cindel Towani or Ensign Nanda. But I guess I’ll just have to settle for the usual suspects.

So far, so good.

Up next – Ahsoka takes “The Padawan Path”.

 

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I’m Not Surprised About Joss Whedon’s Leaked “Wonder Woman” Script (Updated)

Or “I’m Not Surprised People Are Flipping Out Over This Unearthed Hokey Wonder Woman Script Joss Whedon Wrote”. Nope, I’m not. If anything I’m smirking and saying “I told you sooooo!”

As women across the nation are rediscovering their love for Wonder Woman, word on the street is there’s a leaked script online of Joss Whedon’s rejected screeplay (dated August 7, 2006) for a proposed Wonder Woman movie. At the time people thought that a film about the First Lady of Comics made by the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a match made in heaven. So when the project was dropped, screams of outrage arose over DC’s “misunderstanding of women” (a sentiment echoed repeatedly throughout Tumblr). Now femgeeks have to eat their words as they read this ridiculous script. And you can read it here – if you dare.

I’ve only read the first four pages and it already reeks of stupidity. The story starts off from Steve’s – not Diana’s – point of view as he crashes his plane on Themyscira. Diana has no characterization – none of the Amazons have characterization, they have the personalities of fembots – but Whedon describes her/their physical beauty in detail. The dialogue is sloppy: characters say lines that make no sense and conversations are cut off and never finished. So much so that you have no clue why the characters say what they say or what their talking about.

So you may be asking: “how could Whedon, an avowed feminist, mess up such a feminist character? Especially when he’s famous for creating ‘strong female characters’?” I’ll let you in on a little secret:

Joss Whedon doesn’t respect Wonder Woman.

How do I know this? I have in my possession, from the November 26, 2010 issue of Entertainment Weekly, the Benjamin Svetkey penned article “What About Wonder Woman?” The article runs from page 42 to page 46 and talks about the difficulties of getting the heroine onto the silver screen. Throughout, Whedon gives his two cents about why this is the case and it’s not very flattering…

In Whedon’s own words on page 44:

“She has no city,” Whedon says, ticking off a list of problems he had with the character when hired to write and direct a Wonder Woman film five years ago. “She has no great rogues gallery. And she’s distant in a way that makes it hard to create identification. Spider-Man is a nerd. Batman is in pain. But Wonder Woman is from an era where superheroes were supposed to be like Greek gods. She’s above us and different from us. That makes it hard to make her emotionally relevant.”

Continuing on page 45

“Tone was an issue,” he says. “People still think of Wonder Woman as kind of silly. They have fond memories of the TV show but think of her as a kind of goofy lady.”

“I didn’t make it about how we view women. I never got hard-feminist with it. I didn’t need to. She’s a goddess. She’s stronger than Steve Trevor. We get it.

And finally, on page 46:

Even Whedon sounds like he’s souring on the old girl. “If someone else can come along and create a cool Wonder Woman movie and pull it off, that’s great,” he says. “But I don’t necessarily think we need a Wonder Woman movie per se. We need more female heroes. We need ‘wonder women’ movies. But Wonder Woman may not be the wonder woman we need.”

Make that of what you will, but reading this made me want to punch Whedon in the face with an iron glove. I just couldn’t believe he got away with saying such garbage. But then why should I be surprised? Whedon was never a feminist. Here’s some reasons why.

He’s Given Us An Unrealistic Portrayal of Women

The biggest issue I’ve always had with Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the casting of the 5’4″, doe-eyed, girly Sarah Michelle Gellar as a butt-kicking slayer. To me she looked more like a Seventeen cover girl than an action shero. Just the sight of her drives me nuts. Some of you will point out that as a slayer, she’s can fight because she’s superpowered, so height and weight shouldn’t matter. But so’s Wonder Woman, Big Barda and Supergirl and they’re still physically imposing. Anakin and Luke Skywalker were strong in the Force yet Mark Hamill and Hayden Christensen are 5’9″ and 6’0″ respectively. “But they’re men,” you may argue, “Of course they’ll be taller. Sarah’s a woman.” Yeah, and so is Sigourney Weaver (6’0″), Hayley Atwell (5’7″), Uma Thurman (6’0″), Lucy Lawless (5’10), Pam Grier (5’8″), Gal Gadot (5’10”), Lynda Carter (5’9″) and Charlize Theron (5’10”). Buffy looks like a pathetic weakling compared to their characters. Now if you’re a Star Warrior like me, you may be wondering how I can embrace short actresses like Natalie Portman (5’3″) and Carrie Fisher (5’1″) as action girls? Because they used firearms to help them fight. They were expert markswomen. When they had to use physical force, they really had to put some muscle into it. Leia had to pull with all her might to strangle Jabba and Padme had use her chain in any way possible to fight off that nexu. If Buffy used firearms instead of fists, I might let her off the hook.

Buffy is not the only tough skinny gal in the Whedonverse. We also have River Tam, in J.F. Sargent’s words – “a badass kung fu killing machine”- played by “the pretty, wispy Summer Glau”. Thanks to Whedon, these women have become such a fixture in pop culture that its coined a new phrase: waif-fu, where a woman without musculature or fat on her frame can beat up (mostly male) trained soldiers twice her size. Some of you will accuse me of body-shaming but I believe that waif-fu is another way to water down feminism to make it appealing to men who are threatened by powerful, strong women. Case in point, an issue of the defunct Wizard magazine.

In the previous decade, I used to check out issues from the library all the time because I wanted to read about the latest in comics and action figures. But something was bothering me. While there were plenty of articles about Buffy, there were no issues about Xena – not even a nostalgic article about the Warrior Princess’ influence on popular culture (Starlog on the other hand, once had an interview with Lucy Lawless titled “Life After Xena”). If there were any listicles about “the hottest women in sci-fi and fantasy” or “women that had an strong influence on sci-fi and fantasy”, Buffy – and Sarah Michelle Gellar – were among the honorees. But not Xena or Lucy Lawless. So I wrote a letter asking why Xena was being ignored. I even said that she was far more feminist and groundbreaking than (my words) “that cutesy vampire slayer”. To my surprise my letter was published in one of their issues – and it spoke volumes.

The person to answer my question was a guy named thwack. I kid you not. Thwack said: “Thwack is deep inside a scared man-child who’s afraid of a tall, powerful woman with a phallic sword. And you said it, Buffy was cute.”

Talk about your castration fears. Xena is too tall, too physically imposing and too powerful to be respected. Buffy, despite her butt-kicking nature, gets more love because, at the end of the day, she’s not a threat to men. Maybe this explains why Whedon struggled with Wonder Woman – she’s too powerful and intimidating for him to handle.

Firefly and Prostitution

Firefly, ah Firefly. Fans are still mourning your early cancellation. Rupert Murdoch has become Satan incarnate for axeing the Greatest Story Ever Told since the Bible. I checked you out from the library once to see if you were worth all the fuss and what scene makes me sick to my stomach? Some soldier atop a woman, humping her till she reaches orgasm (complete with cries of “Oh God”. I thought you didn’t believe in God, Whedon.). The woman in question is Inara, a prostit- er, “companion” who’s main reason for existing is to be present on a spaceship for legal means. So in the future, prostitution, an institution that harms women’s bodies, will not only be legal it will be mandatory in order to rent a spaceship (According to the DVD commentary for Serenity, there was going to be a scene where Inara would teach archery to other girls but it was scrapped because “she appeared too much like Wonder Woman”). Let’s not forget the lingering closeups of her body as she bathes. I also have to mention the controversy regarding its plundering of Asian culture and language but no Asian actors among its cast. I have to say I’m glad Rupert Murdoch had the good sense to cancel this garbage.

He Blames Alien: Resurrection on the Actors

Did you know Whedon wrote the screenplay for Alien: Resurrection? Did you know it’s also considered among fans to be the one of the worst entries in the franchise? Here’s why the film failed according to Whedon:

“It wasn’t a question of doing everything differently, although they changed the ending; it was mostly a matter of doing everything wrong. They said the lines but they said them all wrong. And they cast it wrong. And they designed it wrong. And they scored it wrong. They did everything wrong they could possibly do. That’s actually a fascinating lesson in filmmaking. Because everything they did reflects back to the script or looks like something from it. And people assume that if I hated it then they’d changed the script…but it wasn’t so much they changed it, they executed it in such a ghastly fashion they rendered it unwatchable.”

What makes this complaint so laughable? The fact that talented actors like Sigourney Weaver (again, a physically imposing woman), Winona Ryder and Ron Perlman were cast and he said “they cast it wrong”. Need I say more?

He Makes Asinine Tweets

I will end this post with a link to one of the worst tweets in the history of Twitter.

Go away Joss. Go away and hand the Batgirl movie over to Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppela, Amy Heckerling, Niki Caro or Penelope Spheeris.

Go away and never return.

Update: Now we’ve learned that his ex-wife Kai Cole has written a tell-all essay about how miserable he made her during their 15 years of marriage. The mask is REALLY starting to slip…

 

 

 

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Don’t Knock “Man of Steel” to Build Up “Wonder Woman”

z-HenryCavill-SDCC-2014-19

Well.

What was originally a planned review of Wonder Woman – a film I’ve already seen twice in theaters – is now a lecture about how the internet’s irritating habit of throwing shade at any franchise’s predecessors, needs to stop.

What made me decide to write this post was this article by Mikhail Lecaros from GMA News Online titled “Wonder Women: Gal Gadot’s Live Action Predecessors, From Lynda to Dawn”. The “listicle” gives a run down of actresses who donned the mantle of the Amazing Amazon before Gal Gadot, from a silly 1967 pilot starring a pre-Planet of the Apes Linda Harrison to an even sillier 2011 pilot starring Adrienne Palicki. As I scroll to the bottom, it turns into a totally different article. When discussing the beloved 2017 film, it compares it to the 1978 Superman and the current Captain America series (say what?). Then it goes into this little gem:

In an age of overwhelming uncertainty and cynicism, it is downright refreshing to see a hero up on the big screen who’s doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do, and not as a result of contrived pathos or self-loathing. Seeing as the DC Extended Universe’s big-screen idea of Superman is an angst-ridden loner with a predilection for killing and collateral damage, Wonder Woman is an excellent choice to be the upcoming “Justice League’s” moral compass.

But who knows? There’s buzz that Superman’s current bout with death will see him resurrected to be more of the virtuous leader he’s usually known to be, but that seems to be more of a retroactive fix than anything else. In Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the DCEU has finally given moviegoers something we never thought we would see from this franchise: a hero we can all look up to.

Take that, Henry Cavill.

There’s so much wrong with these last two paragraphs. First of all it takes attention away from Wonder Woman and centers it on her male counterparts. Hidden sexism right there. As if a woman can’t rise through the ranks without bringing a man down. People didn’t go to see Wonder Woman in droves because they were hoping for a DC film “done right”. They went because they wanted to prove that female superhero movies can be successful. They weren’t looking for a hero to look up to – we already saw her as a hero – that’s why we wanted a Wonder Woman movie and DC delivered. Second it singles out Henry Cavill, an actor just because the author didn’t like his take on Superman. But why Henry Cavill, who had no control over the script and was only doing what he was told to do? Why not say “take that William Dozier” or “take that David E. Kelley”? Better yet, why not say “take that Marvel” who – after 15 films so far – has only one planned female superhero movie? Drop dead, I say. Why have there been three actors to play the Incredible Hulk but no She-Hulk movie? Why not Spider-Gwen: Homecoming instead of Spider-Man: Homecoming? And since Marvel left Peggy’s story in mid-air, it’s high time they give us a third season in the form of an Agent Carter movie.

 Say what you will about the DCEU, but at least their Wonder Woman movie was their fourth entry and there are rumors of a Wonder Woman sequel, a Batgirl movie and a Gotham City Sirens movie which has Margot Robbie reprising her role of Harley Quinn. I’ll take this moment to also point out that despite having a male lead, Man of Steel treated its female characters a lot better than most superhero movies:

  • Throughout the film, 15 women appeared on the screen with at least one speaking line.
  • Both of Superman’s mothers outlive his fathers and both have a scene where they stand up to the villain(s). Let’s also not forget “YOU THINK YOU CAN THREATEN MY MOTHER?!”
  • Not one female character is subject to the male gaze yet Superman was subject to the female gaze twice: when Faora gave him the roving eye and when a women soldier said “I just think he’s kinda hot”.
  • The only female character that was subject to the male gaze was a victim of sexual harassment – and Clark came to her defense (I had to smile when that sexual harasser walked out of the bar and found his big rig destroyed – HA!).
  • For the first time Lois Lane wears pants on the job instead of a skirt – ’nuff said.
  • Speaking of Lois, she’s the one who learns from Jor-El how to escape from Zod’s ship, how to turn off the Kryptonian world engine (or whatever it was called) and she bravely volunteers to join Superman on Zod’s ship. She’s also the first human outside of Clark’s family to accept him for who he is and unlike previous Lois Lanes she already knows Clark and Superman are one and the same.
  • Zod’s right hand “man” Faora wears armor instead of a tight jumpsuit and there’s no hint of a sexual relationship between her and Zod.
  • According to this postMan of Steel had the highest female audience demo.

Now why do I point this out? Because it was these feminist moments in MOS that made me confident that DC and Warner Bros. could pull of a successful, feminist Wonder Woman movie and if it wasn’t for the success of Man of Steel, we wouldn’t have gotten Wonder Woman. If Man of Steel had failed at the box office, DC and Warner Bros. would’ve never had the confidence to go forward with a planned movie universe and we’d still have to wait to see Diana’s story on the big screen.

Now here’s the third problem with Mr. Lecaros’ article: he singles out MOS as an example of “uncertainty and cynicism”. Hasn’t he ever heard of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy? Or Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Or Logan? Weren’t these films also uncertain and cynical? Weren’t these films also about angst-ridden loners with a predilection for killing and destruction (I don’t know which film he saw but Superman was nothing like that in Man of Steel. Your describing General Zod, honey.)  Or do they get a free pass because they received high scores on Rotten Tomatoes? Why is Batman allowed to evolve from a batusi dancing good citizen to a brooding loner still moping over his dead parents? Why can Captain America get away with being such a sad sack? Why is Aquaman cool all of a sudden because now he’s some beer guzzling biker dude? Even the new Wonder Woman is tougher and hardened (at least by the end of the movie) than her ’70s predecessor. But Superman can’t do a little soul searching? He has to be some happy go lucky goody-two shoes stuck in the ’50s or ’70s?

Despite being lighter and softer than its forebears, Wonder Woman was still a serious film. It did not hold back from showing the audience the horrors of World War 1. It showed gas poisoning, wounded soldiers with missing limbs, a character suffering from shell shock, a whole village bombed to death, horses getting whipped, people starving, refugees. And (spoilers!) a character blows himself up in a Zeppelin-Staaken R. VI. When I first saw the film, I walked out of the theater feeling a little depressed by what I saw, not because the film was depressing but because WW1 is a depressing subject. I read a lot of books about World War 1 and let me tell you I can feel the turmoil jumping off the pages.

Now I’m not saying you have to like Man of Steel. In conclusion I’m saying this: judge Diana’s movie on Diana’s merits. Don’t give in to hate and haughtiness and throw shade at her male cohorts. Just enjoy the movie and be glad she’s finally on the big screen.

Take that, haters.

 

 

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Forgotten Women of Comics #1: Moon Girl

moongirl

Ask any average person on the street to name a woman superhero or female comic book character and most people will choose Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Catwoman, Lois Lane or Betty and Veronica. Many have argued about the lack of prominent supersheroes in comics and point out that Wonder Woman is the only supershero that wasn’t a sidekick, relative, love interest or spinoff of a male superhero.

But that wasn’t the case nearly 80 years ago. Wonder Woman was just one of the many heroic female characters that excited readers – both male and female – back when America was trudging through the Great Depression, coping with the harsh realities of war and struggling with putting the country back together afterwards. Possibly inspired by the jobs women were taking up to help the war effort, publishing companies that specialized in comics came out with titles chronicling the adventures of lady heroes like The Lady in Red, Miss Fury, the Spider Widow, Pat Patriot, Miss Victory, et al; women who donned costumes to fight crime and corruption when needed. Some of those women had superpowers. Wonder Woman was among them and so was Moon Girl.

In 1947 publisher Max Gaines of EC Comics created a character that was similar to Princess Diana in many ways. She was the daughter of the queen of the fictional city of Samarkand, a matriarchy not unlike Wonder Woman’s Themyscira. However, unlike Themyscira, men were allowed to visit Samarkand and one man in particular, Prince Mengu, falls in love with Moon Girl. At first Moon Girl wants nothing to do with the prince but her mother tells her: “It is decreed that the man who takes you for his wife must first prove his superior strength!” Nevertheless the Queen gives her a necklace made of moonstone. “Once you wear the moonstone, no man will be your master!”

With the moonstone around her neck, Moon Girl easily beats Prince Mengu in a contest and the defeated prince leaves. Realizing that she actually loves him, she leaves Samarkand in search of him only to find that he’s moved to America and is working as a college coach. By now you can guess what happens next. In America, Moon Girl beats the prince in a shotputting match (thanks to the moonstone) and he realizes who she really is. But instead of getting married and living happily ever after, the couple decides to stay in the United States to fight crime. Moon Girl adopts the identity of Clair Lune and becomes a teacher.

Moon Girl and the Prince (its real title) lasted for 12 issues. Sadly, the writers didn’t know what to do with the character and the series evolved from a superhero genre to a romance comic (A Moon, A Girl…Romance) to disappearing entirely.

Until now.

Whilst browsing in a local comic book shop, I came upon a reprint of Moon Girl #3 and bought it. The comic was reprinted by Canton Street Press under their Flashback Replica Series, which are:

…exact reproductions of historically significant or key comic books from the 1940s and 1950s. Each page is fully restored with careful attention to line, work and colors. All editorial and ad pages are included. Collect the entire series!

The series includes Moon Girl #1-7. No. 3 has four stories: “Rockets For Riches”, “Sky Sabotage”, “The Spirit of Kokama” and “Moon Girl…Wanted for Murder”. The first story pits Moon Girl against the evil, emerald clad she-devil Satana, who is launching rockets at cities. The second story involves Moon Girl salvaging a pilot’s reputation. The third story brings Moon Girl back to her hometown of Samarkand to rescue her mother from the clutches of the traitorous Ka-zhan and the fourth story speaks for itself. I enjoyed reading these stories and look forward to collecting the other MG titles in CSP’s Flashback Replica Series. If your interested in buying and reading the adventures of Moon Girl, here’s Canton Street Press’s official site.

For more information about Moon Girl, see The Great Women Superheroes, written by Trina Robbins. Sadly out of print but still available to buy from Amazon! Stayed tuned for the next entry in my Forgotten Women of Comics. Who will it be???

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I Am A Queen

I am a queen.

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I’m brave sometimes,

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I’m scared sometimes.

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Sometimes I’m brave even when I’m scared.

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I believe in loyalty and trust,

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I believe loyalty is built on trust.

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I am a queen.

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I think standing up for myself is important,

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I think standing up for others is more important,

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But standing with others is most important.

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I am a queen.

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I believe caring makes me strong,

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Kindness is power,

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And family is the tightest bond of all.

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I’ve heard that I’m beautiful,

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I know I’m strong.

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I am a queen.

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Long may I reign.

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(This was made in response to Lucasfilm’s International Day of the Girl video to promote the women of Star Wars, which previously excluded Padme, but, thanks to fan demand, now includes Padme. So, in the spirit of irony, I lifted the words from Disney’s “I Am a Princess” video, to celebrate the unsung queens of Star Wars, because not enough little girls go through a queen phase.

And seriously, there needs to be a “Disney Queen” collection!)

 

 

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Thoughts On the “Wonder Woman” SDCC Trailer

 

It appears that DC is stealing the show at Comic-Con at the moment (though to be fair, there’s a lot of buzz over that “Doctor Strange” trailer and Captain Marvel casting announcement too). The one thing everyone’s talking about: the Wonder Woman trailer, of course! I watched it online four times and I have to admit it looks exciting! As I mentioned before, it’ll take place during World War 1, which I think shows creativity on DC/Warner Bros. part. Not only will it give the world the female superhero-led movie we’ve all been waiting for, it may arouse future generations’ curiosity about a long forgotten, centuries old world war.

My thoughts:

  • It’ll be released into theaters June 2, 2017. That’s one year after Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and 100 years since the US declared war against Germany.
  • At first, I was skeptical about Gal Godot’s casting as Diana Prince but after seeing her in action in BVS and this trailer, boy was I glad she was hired. She’s beautiful, tall, exotic, confident, athletic and I love her accent.
  • I also lllooovvvee that blue dress she wears (the one with the hidden sword).
  • I’m glad they included a scene where she meets Etta Candy for the first time and Etta (who’s British!) gushes about how much she likes her. It’s a total opposite from DC’s 2009 animated film where all Etta does is flirt with Steve Trevor and Diana thinks low of her.
  • It’s a relief to see another actress take up the mantel of WW from Lynda Carter so that future generations of fans can talk about which incarnation is their favorite. Think about it: for years Batman fans had Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and now Ben Affleck, while Superman fans had Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill. Wonder Woman fans had only Lynda Carter. But I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of the 70s Wonder Woman series because it’s so dated in it’s approach to the character. If this film does well, hopefully it’ll give DC the confidence to hire other actresses to step into the boots of the Amazon Princess.

Now for my questions:

  • Who is that general played by Danny Huston that Diana is slowly approaching? Is he the main villain? Is he Ares in disguise? Who did they pick from Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery to be in this film?
  • What role will Diana’s aunt Antiope play in this film? What’s her backstory? Will she aide Diana in her mission or will she make things harder for her?
  • Will all the Germans be bad guys or will there be some sympathetic German characters?
  • Who is that woman with the partly disfigured face? I know that many soldiers suffered from extreme disfigurement due to flying shrapnel and had to undergo facial reconstruction surgery, but how did it happen to that woman? Was she a nurse in the right place at the wrong time? Did she disguise herself as a soldier? Or worse, is she a battered wife?
  • Will the film address the women’s issues of the time period?
  • What type of Steve Trevor will Chris Pine portray? I hope he’ll be a far cry from Kirk the Jerk.

And finally, here’s what I’m hoping for the film:

  • I hope it’ll be as good or better than Man of Steel in its treatment of its female characters (I feel that, so far, MOS is the most feminist superhero film to date but that’s a subject for another post).
  • I hope it’ll pass the Bechdel Test.
  • I hope the story will portray Diana and Steve’s relationship as one of equals.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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