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

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 already superpowered. But so’s Wonder Woman and she still had to train with the Amazons. Anakin and Luke Skywalker were strong in the Force and they still had to train as jedi both physically and mentally. And it’s not just Buffy. 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 who has no 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. 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 I got an answer – 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 (Lucy Lawless is 5’10”), 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 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 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, 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.

 

 

 

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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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4 Stories Worth Reading From “Elseworlds: Justice League Vol 1”

In Elseworlds, heroes are taken from their usual settings and put into strange times and places – some that have existed, or might have existed, and others that can’t, couldn’t or shouldn’t exist. The result: stories that make characters who are as familiar as yesterday seem as fresh as tomorrow.

DC’s official description for their Elseworlds imprint.

What if Batman lived in the Victorian age? What if baby Kal-El’s rocket landed in the U.S.S.R.? What if Scheherazade (you know, the author of the 1001 Nights) was secretly a Green Lantern? These were some of the many stories published under DC’s Elseworlds banner.

What is “Elseworlds” you ask? It was a 1989-2003 imprint published by DC Comics that took their licensed characters and put them in stories that took place outside their canonical timeline. An alternate history for superheroes you might say. Oftentimes they were published as mini-series, one shots and annuals and they were published with a logo that looked like this so as not to confuse readers. Other comic companies like Marvel and Dynamite also got in on the act. The story possibilities were endless. I own a few titles: Superman: Red Son, Green Lantern: 1001 Emerald Nights and Superman: War of the Worlds. But there are other titles that I was coveting but couldn’t find any copies because most of them are out of print. Sure, I could buy some titles but they aren’t always cheap and some are incomplete – meaning you can only find issue #1 of JLA: Shogun of Steel and that’s about it.

Until now.

From the kindness of their hearts, DC is reprinting these long lost stories as trade paperback anthologies. Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 1 was released in April of 2016. Batman Vol. 2 was released in October of 2016 and Elseworlds: Justice League Vol. 1 saw the light of day on July 19, 2016 (Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 3, Justice League Vol. 2 and Superman Vol. 1 & 2 will be released this year).

It was on one rainy day, I was perusing through my second favorite comic book shop that I happened upon a copy of Elseworlds: Justice League Vol. 1. It had the stories I had been dying to read for years and then some. I will recommend four stories from this anthology along with their authors and main artist.

Elseworld’s Finest Parts 1 & 2 (John Francis Moore & Kieron Dwyer)

1928 versions of Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, Bruce Wayne, Lana Lang, Ra’s al Ghul and Lex Luthor in a story that pays homage to pulp adventure stories, Jules Verne, archaeology and hidden cities. Oh yeah, and Jimmy reads Captain Marvel.

Justice Riders (Chuck Dixon & J.H. Williams III)

It’s 1873 and US Marshal Diana Prince is horrified to discover that Paradise, the town she has sworn to protect, has been blown to smithereens (literally) while she was away. She enlists the help of Kid Flash, a quick draw gunslinger and Katar Johnson, a Cheyenne warrior who flies with help of artificial hawk wings. As they are attacked by Maxwell Lord’s mechanical henchmen, they’re saved by Booster Gold and inventor Ted “Beetle” Kord. It turns out that Maxwell Lord and Felix Faust were behind the annihilation of Paradise all along and together, with the extra help of Pinkerton agent Guy Gardner and man hunter John Jones, the Justice Riders (a name coined by Kord) take down the robber baron and the sorcerer.

Wonder Woman: Amazonia (William Messner-Loebs & Phil Winslade)

Originally published in an oversized 8″ by 11″ format to show off the “engraved” (and occasional art nouveau) artwork.

Queen Victoria is dead! Long live King Jack Planters! Yep, the Victorian era has given way to the Plantagenet era and the misogyny and the imperialism of the era is taken up to 11 thanks to the toxic masculinity King Jack preaches. But in these dark times, one amazing woman stands out: Diana Trevor, the Wonder Woman, who by day performs feats of strength for audiences and by night, protects the lives of threatened women. It’s her courage and kindness that eventually brings down Jack’s cruel regime. This story is a must-read for all fans of steampunk and the Amazon princess.

Elseworld’s Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl (Barbara Kesel & Matt Haley)

Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman. Bruce Wayne mentors Barbara Gordon. Barbara Gordon is Batgirl. Batgirl rules Gotham City with an iron fist. Batgirl mistrusts metahumans. Lex Luthor shows up in Gotham with Supergirl. Supergirl loves Lex. Lex gets abducted by the Joker, who loves Batgirl. Supergirl wants to rescue Lex. Batgirl won’t let her. The two team up reluctantly. They discover Lex and the Joker are working together and Lex has been hiding a very dark secret…

Well that’s it. Agree? Disagree? Have you read Elseworlds: Justice League Vol. 1? What were your favorite stories? Have you read any other Elseworld titles/anthologies? Let me know in the comments. I can’t wait for vol. 2!

 

 

 

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Yay! There’s a New Wonder Woman Trailer!

Warner Bros. has released the official Wonder Woman trailer. And I’ve viewed it 4 times already. And the first viewing spread a huge smile across my face. Here’re my thoughts on this second trailer:

  • Themyscira is gorgeous! The waters are crystal blue and the beach is white. Was it filmed in Hawaii or New Zealand or some other island? You’ll notice how Diana’s clean, majestic city is a sharp contrast to the smoggy city that Steve Trevor takes Diana to. Which city is it anyway? Is it Paris or London?
  • We now know that the disfigured woman is a villain. Some speculate she’s Dr. Poison. But is she the Big Bad of the story or is she a henchwoman? And once again, what is Danny Huston’s role in all this? Is he a weapons dealer or something more?
  • How did those soldiers find Themyscira? Does this mean that it’s not in the Bermuda Triangle, making it easier to find?
  • I like the scene where Steve tells Hippolyta: “you’re in more danger than you think.” It reminds me of the anti-isolationist stance (some believed) Marston was using in the early days of Wonder Woman. Bonus points for Diana’s firm stance on defending others.
  • Diana looks like she’s sneaking into the armory. Is it part of the traditional Amazon contest or is she defying her mothers’ law? Will there be scenes of an Amazon contest to bring Trevor back to Man’s World?
  • Another funny scene between Diana and Etta Candy, who will probably help acclimatize her to Man’s World. This may be our first fish-out-of-water superhero movie (sorry Thor, you don’t count).
  • I’m glad to finally see a “bullets and bracelets” scene.
  • I like how Diana slowly climbs out of a trench and Steve screams “DIANA!” It shows he truly cares about her.
  • Who was the Amazon that swung behind Diana and was shot by a bullet? Does she get killed? Did Diana become so distracted by saving Steve that she neglected her duties to her sisters?
  • The look on Diana’s face is priceless/precious when Steve calls her his secretary. If you remember the Comic-Con trailer, you’d understand why this is so ironic.

But, a word of caution. This is the first  live action theatrical Wonder Woman film in movie history. It’s also the first major superhero movie directed by a woman. It has a lot riding on it. It’s expected to prove that female-led superhero movies can make a profit. It’s expected to please Wonder Woman’s fans which is the most divisive fandom in comics. In other words: broken base, thy name is Wonder Woman. I believe we shouldn’t set our hopes too high so that if the film doesn’t live up to some people’s expectations, we’ll have years of disgruntled fans bashing and shaming DC like Star Wars fans did to  George Lucas after the prequels. I will see this movie because I want Hollywood to learn that women-led films can make money and become classics. But most movies I’ve liked had trailers/commercials that interested me, so this film looks promising.

Another thing I want to address is the killjoy Marvel fans who accuse this film of ripping off Captain America: The First Avenger. It proves how little they know their history. This film takes place during World War One, as I’ve said time and time again, Captain America takes place during World War Two. World War One = trenches, biplanes, gas masks. World War Two = fighter planes, GIs, Nazis. Heck, Steve Rogers is a baby during the First World War. I believe the reason the filmmakers chose to break with tradition and place Diana’s story during the Great War was so that they could avoid these accusations in the first place.

Well those are my thoughts. What are yours? What did you like about the Wonder Woman trailer? What are you looking forward to seeing in the movie?

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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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All I Need To Know About Life, I Learned From…

Tick_Logo

“Who is The Tick?” You ask. A superhero created by Ben Edlund in 1986 as a mascot for  a Boston Store chain, New England Comics, The Tick is a wacky, ardent superhero with the powers of “nigh-invulnerability”, superhuman strength and “drama power”.  With the help of his long suffering moth costume-donning sidekick, Arthur, the Tick stops at nothing to save The City from the forces of evil. A hilarious cartoon series debuted in 1994 (to which I was introduced to the character), then a short-lived live action series debuted in 2001.

The franchise is known for it’s absurdist spoofing of superhero tropes and for the Tick’s over the top personality through which he would give the day’s moral delivered in a hammy manner. Throughout the weeks, I’ve rewatched the entire cartoon series on YouTube and wrote down all of the “Tickisms” that struck my fancy and that we must remember in our day to day lives. So, without further ado, here are some of the best words of wisdom courtesy of the Tick:

  • Don’t eat crackers in the bed of your future! You’ll get all scratchy.
  • It’s your destiny! Hug it!
  • Beware the other head of science. It bites!
  • Don’t count your weasels before they pop.
  • Don’t touch the “Don’t” button.
  • You can’t judge a book by its cover. Except the Lava Man book of course.
  • Eating kittens is just plain wrong and no one should do it ever!
  • When evil is afoot and you don’t have any arms, you gotta use your head.
  • You can lay an egg and still feel like a man.
  • READ A BOOK!!!
  • Falling in love with a supervillain is trouble with a capital troub!
  • Crime has a Bossa Nova beat.
  • Lint is the fastest stuff in the universe (yes that lint).
  • Love is thicker than most bodily membranes.
  • In love there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things: the right way is to take someone to a movie. The wrong way is to take someone from a movie.
  • You can’t trust everything you read, especially in history books you get from gas stations.
  • In the future, one out of every six people will be Abraham Lincoln.
  • It’s OK to start thinking.
  • A lost wallet could bite you in half.
  • A bar of soap could save your life.
  • A disgusting mound of muck might have some very compelling ideas.
  • Not everyone can know everything. Some people don’t know anything. I myself don’t know much, but I do know this: uh…the thing I just said.
  • Evil comes in many forms, whether it be a man-eating cow or Josef Stalin.
  • Your not going crazy, your going sane in a crazy world!
  • Don’t ever try to swim against the mighty tide of justice!
  • Honk if you love justice!
  • The boots of evil were made for walking.
  • Man was not meant to tamper with the four basic food groups.
  • Clowning and anarchy don’t mix.
  • You can’t fight crime with a macaroni duck.
  • Nature is one call you can’t put on hold.
  • Evil is never in fashion.

SSSSPPPPPPOOOOONNNN!!!!!

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Filed under All I Need To Know About Life, comics

A Mighty Princess Turns 20

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My God, has it been 20 years already?! 20 years since a woman in armor rode across our TV screens, fighting gods, monsters, warlords and kings? 20 years since this TV show revolutionized the way women were portrayed as action heroes? Yup, Xena: Warrior Princess turns 20 this week and I remember what it was like to be a viewer of the most popular feminist action fantasy show of the 90s. There hasn’t been a fantasy series before, or since, to measure up to the brilliance of this show.

Though the series premiered September 4, 1995 as a spinoff of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, I didn’t start watching the show until 1997, when I was a 7th grader in middle school. I remember hearing a lot about the show but not seeing it until channel surfing one day. I’ve been hooked ever since.

You had to have been a hermit, to have not heard of Xena: Warrior Princess or Lucy Lawless. She was everywhere: t-shirts, books, magazines, toys, coloring books, comics, and jewelry. She was named dropped on every other show that aired at the time. IMDB.com has a complete list. Lucy Lawless was one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People In the World”. She was also on the cover of TV Guide, Ms., and featured in Entertainment Weekly.

But I’m not going any further explaining Xena’s contribution to pop culture. I will leave that honor to freelance journalist (and devoted Xena fan) Kathy Young with her awesome 2005 article, “What We Owe Xena” . Instead I’m going to make a list of some of my favorite episodes, season by season, summarize them and explain why they’re my favorite episodes. Let’s begin, shall we (warning: watch out! Spoilers about!)?

Season 1

“The Path Not Taken”: Xena infiltrates a band of criminals to rescue a kidnapped princess. There she’s reunited with an old flame, Marcus (Bobby Hosea), an arms dealer who secretly regrets his lifestyle choice. Xena convinces him that it’s never too late to turn a new leaf.

Why I Chose It: This episode probably marks the first time network TV depicted a sexual relationship between a white woman and a black man, something that’s still controversial to this day. Xena and Marcus’ kisses are so passionate and consensual it would put Kirk and Uhura to shame. Lucy Lawless’  tearful delivery of the episode’s final lines are also memorable: “he was my friend. He was my friend!”

“The Reckoning”: While trying to save a group of men from being attacked by a mysterious cloaked figure, Xena is caught and accused of murder. This is all a part of Ares’ (Kevin T. Smith) plan to make the Warrior Princess resort to her evil ways.

Why I Chose It: Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) shines here when she uses her bard skills to prove Xena’s innocence. Xena shows off her brilliance as a tactician when she takes up Ares’ offer to grant her request for an army. She chooses the men that were killed. They call her a hero. Case closed.

“Prometheus”: Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hurst guest star in this episode as Hercules and Iolaus respectively. The noble Titan, Prometheus has been chained to a mountain and humanity has lost their ability to heal and make fire. Guess who has to free him?

Why I Chose It: It gives a fresh take on the Prometheus myth and has a scene where Gabrielle explains to Iolaus why people search for their soulmates.

“Death In Chains”: The ancient Greeks believed that Death came in the form of a woman holding a candlestick. King Sisyphus has chained (see a pattern here?) Celestia, the personification of Death, so that her candle will melt and death will be no more. Think that’s a good thing? Think again.

Why I Chose It: It presents a very interesting argument on why we need death: because without it, we’d be left with pain, disease, old age and bad people would never die. You need to get rid of these things first before you can end death.

“Hooves And Harlots”: Xena must solve a murder mystery before war breaks out between the Amazons and the Centaurs.

Why I Chose It: One of the show’s greatest aspects was its depiction of the Amazons as an authentic warrior culture with customs, laws and government as opposed to mere fantasy no different from Atlantis or Shangri-La.

“Warrior…Princess”: Xena has a twin! And she’s an actual princess! And she’s in danger! Xena must take her place! But the princess is to be married! Will Xena find the assassin and avoid a walk down the aisle?

Why I Chose It: Lucy Lawless’ talent as an actress shines here. She has to play two roles. The uberconfident Xena and the naïve, pampered Diana. And she pulls it off beautifully.

“Mortal Beloved”: A ghostly Marcus returns from the underworld to ask for Xena’s help in retrieving Hades’ stolen Helmet of Invisibility.

Why I Chose It: Xena’s heartfelt plea to Hades to grant Marcus an eternity in the Elysian Fields while having to face separation from him again is touching and food for thought.

“The Royal Couple of Thieves”: Autolycus (Bruce Campbell) can steal anything! He’s The King of Thieves after all! So will he help Xena steal a secret “weapon” from some arms dealers?

Why I Chose It: It has Bruce Campbell for heaven’s sake! Any episode where he shows up as Autolycus is bound to be hilarious. And the slapstick between an incognito Xena and Autolycus is golden!

“Callisto”: Who is that blonde woman committing crimes in Xena’s name? A former victim of Xena’s crimes.

Why I Chose It: Thanks to Hudson Leick’s twisted performance, Callisto became one’s television’s most memorable villains. Plus we’re introduced to Joxer the Mighty (Ted Raimi)!

Season 2

“Orphan of War”: Xena is reunited with the son she gave up for adoption years ago.

Why I Chose It: We see another side to Xena: a more softer, maternal side.

“Intimate Stranger”: With Ares’ help, Callisto switches bodies with Xena.

Why I Chose It: Once again Lucy Lawless and Hudson Leick show off their supreme acting chops by playing each other’s roles. And they succeed.

“Ten Little Warlords”: Ares has lost his divinity. Xena is still trapped in Callisto’s body. And everyone is acting crazy. Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer and a mortal Ares have to race against time to make things right again.

Why I Chose It: Once again, Hudson Leick gives a knockout performance as Xena and we learn why the world needs a God of War.

“The Xena Scrolls”: In 1940s Macedonia, Janice Covington, an archaeologist and Melinda Pappas, an interpreter, are searching for the fabled “Xena Scrolls”. Scrolls that will “turn myth into history”. Unfortunately finding the scrolls also awakens Ares, the God of War.

Why I Chose It: Have you ever secretly wished that you were the descendant of some famous warrior woman? Do you imagine yourself getting bonked in the head only to possess  the fighting abilities of said warrior. I myself secretly wish I was the descendant of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra, but that’s beside the point. The scene where Mel gets knocked out and awakens as Xena with sword in hand and theme song is one for the ages.

“Here She Comes…Miss Amphibpolis”: Xena enters a beauty contest to see who’s trying to sabotage the pageant.

Why I Chose It: “A WOMAN’S A NATURAL THING!!!!”

“A Necessary Evil”: Power hungry Amazon, Velasca (Melinda Clark) has eaten ambrosia and became a god. She wants rival Amazon queen Gabrielle dead. To Gabrielle’s dismay, Xena enlists the help of a now immortal Callisto to fight Velasca.

Why I Chose It: The highest-rated episode of the series and it’s easy to see why. Two scary villainesses for the price of one!

“A Day In The Life”: Xena and Gabrielle have to prevent a warlord from plundering one village and the world’s biggest giant from destroying another. Xena also has to fend off an annoying admirer. All in a day’s work.

Why I Chose It: This episode introduces Minya (Allison Wall), a comedic character who wants to be a “tough broad” like Xena.

“Lost Mariner”: Xena and Gabrielle are trapped aboard the cursed ship of Cecrops, doomed to sail the seas for eternity. But there may be a way to break the spell.

Why I Chose It: You can’t help but feel touched by Cecrops plight, thanks to Tony Todd’s performance. It also teaches a lesson about the true meaning of love.

“A Comedy of Eros”: Speaking of love, Cupid’s son, Bliss has escaped with his father’s bow and arrows. He shoots an arrow into Xena, Gabrielle and their enemy, Draco. Xena falls for Draco, Gabrielle falls for Joxer and Draco falls for Gabrielle. Love stinks.

Why I Chose It:  Not even infatuation can stop the Warrior Princess from doing the right thing! Star Warriors will recognize Jay Laga’aia as Draco before he was cast as Captain Typho in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

Season 3

“The Furies”: In another attempt to make Xena revert to her evil past, Ares strikes a deal with the Furies. It involves her sanity and her mother.

Why I Chose It: Seeing Xena overcome mind control (again) proves how really brilliant she was at beating enemies at their own games.  Unlike other female protagonists with missing moms, it was always refreshing to see how Xena’s relationship with her mother was depicted throughout the series.

“Been There, Done That”: The same day’s events just keeps repeating itself over and over again and only Xena’s noticed. Can she get to the bottom of this conundrum? Or will she go crazy from just trying?

Why I Chose It: What other TV show can make an episode that seamlessly blends Romeo and Juliet and Groundhog’s Day into one story? Answer: none so far.

“The Debt, Parts 1 and 2”: Xena receives a message from the land of Chin (China) to repay a debt for an old friend.

Why I Chose It: It introduces Xena’s greatest influence, the beautiful and wise Lao Ma (Jaqueline Kim), true ruler of the Lao Dynasty.

“Warrior…Priestess…Tramp”: Xena reunites with Meg and meets another look-alike who works as a high priestess in the temple of Hestia, the Virgin Goddess. Leah is her name and her temple’s in danger. It’s up to Xena (and *sigh*, Meg) to find out who’s after the sisterhood of the Hestian Virgins.

Why I Chose It: “I hope that was a petting zoo! PLEASE TELL ME THAT WAS A PETTING ZOO!!!”

“The Quill Is Mightier”: Aphrodite curses Gabrielle’s scroll with the ability to make anything Gabrielle writes a reality.

Why I Chose It: Minya returns in all her wanna-be warrior glory. Xena fights an entire army with seafood.

“The Bitter Suite”: Xena blames Gabrielle for Solan’s death. Gabrielle blames Xena for her unwanted pregnancy by Dahak. They stumble into the musical land of Illusia to patch things up.

Why I Chose It: It was (arguably) the first time a major prime-time TV show did an all-musical episode. It’s also tear-jerking to hear Xena sing an apology to Solan for not being a good mother.

“Forgiven”: A feisty teen named Tara (Shiri Appleby) picks a fight with Gabrielle so that she could help the duo find the stolen Urn of Apollo.

Why I Chose It: I like how this episode teaches us that helping someone change their life isn’t always easy especially when the person is very difficult to get along with. But when we learn about their background, and we overcome those personality hurdles, we can make new allies, if not friends.

“Fins, Femmes and Gems”: Cursed once again by Aphrodite, Xena becomes obsessed with catching a special fish, Gabrielle becomes obsessed with her appearance and Joxer believes that he’s a legendary “ape-man”.

Why I Chose it: I like how the curse was lifted when the ladies came to terms with the source of their obsessions.

“Vanishing Act”: A statue of Pax, the goddess of peace has been stolen. Two cities accuse each other of the crime. Autolycus, the King of Thieves, is also a suspect. But did he do it?

Why I Chose It: By now, you should understand the formula: Autolycus + Xena & Gabrielle = hilarity. And Xena is hilarious as a wacky bidder named Ezra with a mole for an eyesore while Gabrielle is another bidder named Myopia.

Season 4

“In Sickness And In Hell”: A Scythian army is advancing towards a defenseless village. Xena has lice and Gabrielle has a nasty skin infection. What’s a poor girl to do?

Why I Chose It: You know the saying “an army moves on its stomach? Well now we can say “defeat an army with its stomach.”

“A Tale of Two Muses”: Gabrielle and Xena reunite with Tara who’s about be punished by her new home for committing a shocking crime: dancing.

Why I Chose It: It’s Footloose Ancient Greek style. Good to see you doing well, Tara.

“Daughter of Pomira”: Xena and Gabrielle once again face the dreaded Horde, only to discover that a Greek girl is living among them. Turns out that she is the kidnapped daughter of one of Xena’s soldiers from the past – and the girl’s biological family wants her back home.

Why I Chose It: If you’re familiar with the 1956 film The Searchers you may be familiar with true life accounts of little white girls taken captive during “Indian raids” and made to assimilate into Native societies. Many of these girls grew up with these tribes and when given a choice to leave instead chose to stay with them. The Ancient Greeks used to call all non-Greeks “barbarians” because the languages they spoke sounded like they were saying “bar-bar”. Xena suggests that the Ancient Greeks may have also suffered from this clash of cultures. Being a child of two worlds myself, I like how the episode resolves the conflict by having Vanessa/Peelee learn that she doesn’t have to restrict herself to just one family or culture. That she can be both Greek and Pomira and love both her families.

“If The Shoe Fits”: Gabrielle, Joxer, Xena and Aphrodite help a runaway princess return home by relating their own version of Cinderella.

Why I Chose It: A gap-toothed Gabrielle, warlords in drag and “swimming instructors”. The LOL meter just got louder.

“The Play’s The Thing”: Two con artists discover one of Gabrielle’s scrolls. They convince her that it’ll make a great play. But the play is financed by vicious warlords and theatergoers want sex and violence. Can Gabrielle stand by her beliefs and produce a good play?

Why I Chose It: Minya: “Gabrielle, I wanted to thank you! I never would have met Paulina if it wasn’t for you! In fact, the two of you made me realize something deep down about myself that… I guess I always knew, but… just didn’t dare admit. Yes… I’m a… thespian.” Gabrielle’s new mature, sexy look. Faster Chakram! Kill! Kill!

“Takes One To Know One”: A bounty hunter lies dead in Cyrene’s (Darien Takle) inn. Cyrene, Minya, Lila, Autolycus and Gabrielle are suspects. A goddess (Meighan Desmond) wants Xena to solve the murder or else she’ll take someone with her.

Why I Chose It: The Xenaverse take on Agatha Christie and Clue.  Discord: “So, you’re saying that your horse killed her?” Xena: “In self-defense!” Discord: “But I can’t take back a horse! I don’t do animals!” Minya: “That’s not what I heard!”

“Deja-Vu All Over Again”: In modern-day America, a woman named Annie believes she was Xena, warrior princess, in a past life. Her boyfriend, Harry, scoffs, but they both get a surprise when they visit a new age practitioner who takes them through their former lives.

Why I Chose It: Lucy Lawless and Ted Raimi flex their acting chops by switching roles as the reincarnations of Joxer and Xena respectively. And they pull it off.

Season 5

“Chakram”: Xena gets resurrected but has lost her warrior memories. Ares and Kal, another god of war, are plotting to use her to get their hands on a new chakram with the power to kill gods.

Why I Chose It: It’s a shame Kal got killed off because we didn’t see anymore of Antonio Te Maioha (in the role at least). He’s easy on the eyes.

“Succession”: In order to fulfill a promise to an aspiring warrior, Ares merges Xena and Gabrielle into one person to battle her to the death.

Why I Chose It: Ares merges Xena and Gabrielle into one body so that one of them fights Mavican by day and another one fights by night yet both women manage to avoid bloodshed.

“Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire”: Gabrielle, Cyrene, Joxer, his flamboyant brother Jace, and a pregnant Xena must face off against Draco in a “battle of the bands” for the possession of Terpsichore’s Lyre.

Why I Chose It: The second musical episode of the series but this time with covers instead of original content. Nevertheless you can tell the cast had a lot of fun doing it. Jay Laga’aia returns as a lovestruck Draco and Ted Raimi acts for two as Jace.

“God Fearing Child”: Xena is about to give birth to her daughter but Zeus (Charles Keating) has other plans…

Why I Chose It: As they say on Tumblr, so many feels! Xena reuniting with her deceased son, Solan and assuring him that he will always have a special place in her heart (the name Eve was his suggestion). Hera (Meg Foster) decides to put aside her hatred of Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) and help him defeat Zeus. Zeus’ dying confession to Hercules.

Season 6

“Who’s Gurkhan?”: Gabrielle learns to her horror that a northern African warlord kidnapped her niece and killed her parents and brother-in-law. Will her desire for justice be met or will she become obsessed with vengeance to the point of betraying Xena?

Why I Chose It: This episode takes a big jab at polygamy, ’nuff said.

The Rheingold/The Ring/Return of the Valkyrie: I’m lumping these stories together as a trilogy because the Norse are famous for their trilogies. Did you know that Xena was once a Valkyrie? Neither did Gabrielle, who secretly travels to the Norselands to meet up with her soulmate and help her correct yet another grievous mistake from her deadly past. To bad she’s been cursed to eternal slumber by a jealous Valkyrie and can only be awaken by her soulmate.

Why I Chose It: If Xena can have episodes about Amazons, why can’t there be episodes about the other most famous race of warrior women? I’m glad that Xena finally broke Grinhilda of her curse and helped her regain her rightful place at Odin’s side.

“You Are There”: A modern-day news reporter (Michael Hurst) follows Xena around and interviews everyone she’s come into contact with on whether she has ulterior motives in her quest for the Golden Apples.

Why I Chose It: Aside from the humorous aspect I like this line Xena says: “you can’t have love without a little bit of hate and you can’t have peace without a little bit of war.” So true.

“Send In The Clones”: Three Xena fans, with the aid of a scientist, successfully clone Xena and Gabrielle into the 21st Century. But can this new Warrior Princess and Battling Bard handle the modern world?

Why I Chose It: The three fans bear a striking resemblance to a certain heroic trio. Xena and Gabrielle eat Pizza and drink soda as they watch clips of past seasons. Then the duo ride off into the sunset in a taxi while sipping champagne.

“Soul Possession”: Xena once made a deal with Ares that involved marriage. Now Ares wants to “seal” the deal. But Xena and Joxer are still in the “wrong” bodies (see “Deja Vu All Over Again”).

Why I Chose It: Annie once said that she could be Xena in her next life. Now she finally gets her chance. What a way to end a marriage contract.

“A Friend In Need, Parts 1 and 2”: A mysterious woman from the island of Jappa (Japan) sends a plea for help. Xena must fight in the land of the dead to defeat an evil spirit while Gabrielle uses her chakram to fight in the land of the living.

Why I Chose It: Yes, I actually liked this controversial episode. I thought it was the most poignant episode to address death since the Star Trek: TNG episode “The Evil Skin”. All warriors must accept their deaths sooner or later, it comes with the job (and since Xena lived in the ancient world, she’d be dead by now). But while other fans were saddened and angered at the finale, it left me with more questions about Gabrielle’s fate. Now that she’s inherited the mantle of the Warrior Princess, what will her new life be like without Xena? What adventures will await her in the Land of the Pharaohs? Will she get a new sidekick? Will it be Eve? Or someone else? Since Xena “will be alive in her heart”, does mean she can still get advice from a Xena apparition a la Obi-Wan Kenobi? What type of mythical creatures, gods and historical figures will she meet/fight? Which historical events would she have a part in? It’s questions like this that make me wish that some talented writers would publish some spin-off novels and comics chronicling Gabrielle’s post-Xena adventures…

Anyway, happy 20th anniversary, Xena: Warrior Princess! There will never be another show as unique as you.

P.S.: Which Xena episodes were your favorite? How did this show impact your life?

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Filed under fantasy, feminism, television, tv superheros