Archive for October, 2007


On the heels of this alleged statement from Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov:

“We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead”.

comes this disappointing news:

Joel Silver, who was producing the now-stalled Wonder Woman movie, told reporters that the project has been placed on the back burner in light of another impending superhero film. “They’re going to make the Justice League movie, and we’re kind of pausing on Wonder Woman now,” Silver said in a news conference while promoting Fred Claus. “Let them go ahead and do that picture [first].”

Sent to me by the delightful Anne Timmons!!!! (Her Dad took this one!)

I’ll be including her in my chapter on mythmakers and she was kind enough to agree to be interviewed in the near future!

We went to Portland this past weekend to participate in the second annual Wonder Woman Day –a fundraiser for local Domestic Violence shelters and resources, including Raphael House, Bradley-Angle House, and the Portland Women’s Crisis Line. Last year’s event raised over $15,000 and this year’s raised over well over $20,000.

Wonder Woman Day is organized by writer Andy Mangels whose history of the Amazon Princess, The Wonder Woman Companion, is coming out next Summer.

And is hosted by the friendly staff at Excalibur Comics on SE Hawthorne.

Artists with a range of skills, and from a range of locations, donate illustrations of the Amazon Princess which are then put up for auction. Winning bids ranged from $20 up to the over $6,000 donated for an Alex Ross original. I bid on, and won, this lovely piece by Joan Reilly.

I wasn’t familiar with the artist but she sublimely captured the joy I felt as a little girl when Linda Carter would transform from Diana Prince into Wonder Woman.

Professional artist Anne Timmons was in attendance, as were writer Gail Simone, and artist & writer Phil Jimenez.

All were doing signings and sketches for donations.

Anne lives in Southern Washington and co-created Go Girl! with Trina Robbins.

She drew me this lovely sketch of a young Diana.

Her proud parents came out to the event to support her and take photos–it was so sweet!

Gail, who is an Oregonian, signed a copy of the latest collection of Birds of Prey for me.

And Phil, who must have flown out from New York for this,

sketched this gorgeous Princess Diana for me.

Everyone there was generous and friendly; the staff, Andy, Anne, Gail and Phil–who was particularly gracious. We’d met by chance at Wonder Con last year, and he remembered us (which is mind-boggling to me, because he must come across thousands of people every year). He is honestly one of the kindest, most sincere, and curious persons I’ve ever met.

I forgot to ask Andy if Wonder Woman Day was inspired by Trina’s book, Wonder Woman: The Once and Future Story (illustrated by Colleen Doran and available from Mile High Comics). It’s a story that addresses issues of domestic violence, as well as provides resources for women in need of them.

Participants could have their pictures taken with a Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman mannequin.


And if all this has got you itching for Lynda Carter in those satin tights–Seasons One, Two and Three of Wonder Woman are available as a set from Amazon!

Last night’s episode was slightly disappointing. I’m sure it’s difficult for the writers to include each member of such a large cast in a whatever number of episodes each is contracted for. But it means that actors get obligatory screentime without much to do—time that would be better spent by going into narrative depth, a la last season’s episode Company Man.

Take for example Niki’s two minutes on screen. She rushes through The Company’s hospital ward in her violent Jessica persona, her clothing and demeanor evoking Sarah Connor’s asylum stay in T2 until a taser knocks her unconscious. All that really happens in her storyline is that Bob says something about her having multiple personality disorder.

(Really writers? You really decided to go that route after all the feminist fangrrrl commentary about women’s power being contained/diminished/invalidated by labeling her insane!?!?!? When compounded with the single mom/stripper thing, they are really failing with this character—which is too bad, because I thought after Jessica willfully gave over control to Niki in the season one finale things would be different.)

Then there were the token appearances of Ando, Hiro and Kensei that also didn’t tell us much.

And Nichelle Nichols gets one Gramie-line in the whole episode?!? If they continue to under-use her it’ll be obvious that her presence is just a bit of stunt-casting and nothing more. I hope that she’ll just appear frail and quiet and then bust out in some Yoda-esque butt-kicking a la Attack of the Clones.

The biggest developments happened in the Parkman and Petrelli arcs. Nathan accompanied Matt to Philadelphia to find Parkman Sr., a.k.a. “The Nightmare Man.” (And speaking of Beta Males, I loved Nathan schooling Matt on how to be an Alpha before they busted down the door to apartment number 9.)

Parkman Sr. at first appears to be a schlub and Matt’s desire for a reunion with Daddy overwhelms his own paternal protection of Molly. The nightmare man has had much more to time to practice faux sincerity than Sylar, and his earnest tales of days of yore, “We found each other years ago . . . like we were connected somehow . . . we thought we could save the world” were certainly believable. It’s clear he has searched the minds of Matt and Nathan (and perhaps others of our new generation of heroes) and echoed their sentiments back to them in order to temporarily gain their trust.

But then he trapped Matt and Nathan in their respective nightmares. Matt’s: imprisonment and abandonment

and Nathan’s: the post-explosion Manhattan that was avoided by the sacrifice of his brother. Nathan feels responsible for the death of Pete, and appears haunted by his tendencies to destroy what’s around him. Is this symbolized by the demon self that he sees?


And will Matt, who managed to wake both himself and the politician from their illusions, continue to develop mental powers that echo his fathers?

And what’s with all the Daddy issues? (This was something I was going to bring up last week—it’s like watching something from the Tim Burton oeuvre, yes?) Even with Mama Petrelli, Niki Sanders and Meredith Gordon, difficult dads take the cake here. I’m tired of multifaceted fathers overshadowing the possibility of complex mothers—especially when mothers are shown being nurturers, (or absent, as in the case of Claire’s birth mom) and dads are shown being research scientists, detectives, and senators, or running/taking down shadowy global organizations.

Petrelli’s Box
Nothing exciting happened when Peter opened but the box, but finding this by way of Katherine Keller made me laugh. On a side tangent, what’s with telling Caitlin that her brother’s death was his fault right after she sees him charred? Bad timing, Pete.

Wanted more from Kristen Bell. I felt she came off restrained, but perhaps that was just the writing. And again, it appears from her phone conversation at the end of the episode that there is yet another manipulative daddy. Could it be Bob?

Micah and Monica made me smile. He was thrilled to find someone he could share his powers with and how wonderfully childlike that he used a comic book to explain what was happening to her. The title was about a muscle-mimic, or copy-cat, named “St. Joan” (A Tim Sale, Helix Comics original, I’m sure) and of course a nod to that tragic savior of her people, Jeanne D’Arc, who like Monica had a close relationship with God.

I love Micah’s suggestion that “if this really happening to you, perhaps we outta go test it out” and Monica’s going in for some Double-Dutch—which she “always did suck at.” It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a “hero” take pleasure in their abilities, and the shared joy on their faces was infectious.

I also loved Monica flipping through the channels and picking up skills (particularly Jeet Kune Do—as Bruce Lee is arguably superhuman) as well as the irony involved in watching a television show about heroes in which one of them picks up her heroic skills by watching TV.

I did the think the “I’m just looking for some answers, that’s all” and Mohinder showing up on her doorstep with them scene was rather forced. And I like Mohinder, but he’s such a tool. Let’s hope he doesn’t betray Monica for Molly—but I think he’s already put Molly in the wrong hands.

Finally the from the preview, the next episode looks badass!!!!!!!

“Beta males are in right now.”

-Sock

In the spirit of this, who are your favorite Beta Males?

Mine include:
Marshall Flinkman, of Alias
Eric Weiss, of Alias
Matt Parkman, of Heroes
Peter Petrelli, of Heroes
Hiro Nakamura, of Heroes
Ando Masahashi, of Heroes
Douglas Fargo, of Eurkea
Xander Harris, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert
Ricky Gervais

***Updated because I can’t believe I forgot Milhouse Van Houten of The Simpsons, Dwight Schrute of The Office, and Larry David!!!!

Episode Four was a slower paced episode, speckled with jaw-dropping reveals. There were quieter, sadder moments like Nathan visiting his sons at school. Reminiscent of a Wes Anderson scene, his sad, shaggy face pressed through the bars to make weary promises that Daddy would be coming home soon.

Mama Petrelli was also worn down. The deaths of her son, Peter, and former lover, Kaito Nakamura, as well as the attempt on her own life have put this alternately tough and fragile spirit on the edge. She’s damaged and desperate enough to confess to a crime she didn’t commit, just to be protected, just to be redeemed. She’s resolved, but also scared; enough even to express her affection for Nathan and implore him to change the ways she herself instilled in him.

She also implored Parkman to stop investigating the case. Perhaps she knows more about him than his ability to read minds, but for the rest of us the first real jaw-dropper of this episode was that Matt’s Daddy was one of the original 12.

(Arguably, the first would be that the Wonder Twins came across Sylar passed out in the middle of a dirt road in Mexico—but that was just unexpected. And kind of weird.)

Immediately I have great love for the plucky Monica Dawson, cousin to Micah Sanders and hero-in-discovery. Played by Dana Davis (Malcolm in the Middle, Veronica Mars) the character comes across, as she herself puts it, “like a woman with a future.” I’m ecstatic to see such a determined woman on the series, but Kring & Co. need to be careful with gender and racial stereotypes. D.L. was an ex-con, Niki’s claim to fame is as a “single mother.” Monica works double shifts at a fast food establishment and has dreams of going back to college, but is burdened with financially supporting her extended family in the post-Katrina South.

These types of experience do exist in the real world, the problem is creating a show with diversity requires more than just showing a variety of color, gender, sexuality, and class. It’s a huge start, but it’s important to represent these lives as lives of complexity—not just reductionist descriptives. With such a large cast, it may be hard for the writers to step away from cliché, but with an episodic, certainly not impossible.

Monica does have a really cool power! She instantly picks up skills by watching them, much like Charlie could by reading. Talk about “educational TV!” The entertainment wrestling-style kick to the Burger Bonanza robber was particularly awesome.

(And I just have to point out how sweet it was when Micah tried to “fix” Monica’s sadness for her. I don’t think he’s ever experimented with his gift on humans before, or he certainly would have with his mom, but he seemed genuine in his compassion for his cousin. They’re both trapped in situations they don’t want to be in, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they find freedom, and perhaps even satisfaction, through use of their gifts.)

I’m disappointed in the wedge that’s been driven between Noah and Claire. They’d be a stronger unit if only they would just be honest with one another—but it turns out, Claire is just a good a liar as her daddy.

Sneaking out with West provided one likable West moment. He encouraged her to jump off the famous Hollywood sign because he wanted to see her powers. She did it because she was convinced he wouldn’t be offended by her post-injury appearance. When West caught her in mid-air he had a sweet, suave line:

“I know you can heal, Claire. But I never wanna see you hurt.” (awwww)

But I still feel like he’s bossy with her. You WILL go out with me tonight. You HAVE to jump off this sign so I know that you trust me. And she’s so young, so desperate for someone to talk to about these changes in her life that she’s letting him manipulate her. He could turn out to be a good thing for her. But he could easily turn out to be an enemy. I prefer to see Claire making choices for herself.

As for HRG, why doesn’t he talk to Claire about the newly-discovered painting? I know he’s trying to protect her and that one can’t trick or prevent fate. But the last time he was privy to this kind of information (precognitive painting courtesy of Mendez) he could have saved Claire some pain by sharing it with her.

The Cliffhanger

Parkman is desperate to find his father so he can warn him that the original “heroes” are dying/being killed. He asks Molly to locate him, but when she sees the photo of the 12 she begs him not to make her do it.

She eventually agrees, and as she zeroes in on Parkman senior it turns out that he is the Bad Man. Her body goes into shock as her psyche is kidnapped.

The episode ends, and the look on Parkman’s face is heartbreaking.

Next Week: Kristen Bell!!!!!!

Writer and Comics Herstorian, Trina Robbins, posted the following to the Women Comics Scholars List today and I’m aghast:

This is from the book, “Our Gods Wear Spandex,” by Christopher Knowles,which just came out:

“Wonder Woman is by far the best-known of the superheroines, and her audience has always been predominantly male. Young girls are generally not interested in superheroes and gravitate more toward romance, humor, and teenage comics.”

Anyone here contribute to discussion boards? I’d love to see this up on a women fan’s discussion board and see what comments it generates.

- Trina

Snort. How does one even respond to this sort of ignorance? (Other than by writing a book of course!) THIS is why I never read comics as a teenager, I’d outgrown genres which were socially acceptable for a young girl to read and had no idea that there might be anything else out there.

Females are continually steered away from comics, and yet there’s evidence that many more women have been empowered by Wonder Woman than men. It’s not that “young girls generally aren’t interested in superheroes” it’s that superheroes we can relate to–that embody our thoughts, lives, and journeys are depressingly underrepresented.

To add to that, television is typically where female characters thrive, as women are more likely to be in the home and engaging with that medium, so complex female characters are particularly sparse in what is (fallaciously) considered a male form of entertainment.

So here are some of MY favorite comic book females, problematic as they may or may not be.








And here are links to some amazing female and feminist fans critiquing a genre that’s not supposed to be for them.

Girl Wonder (And check out their Auction this month. )

Sequential Tart

When Fangirls Attack

This month’s Television Without Pity Now or Never T-shirts at Glarkware include a Heroes-related selection.

These will only be available this month.

But they are also having a leftovers sale and still have some Cadet Mars shirts (in honor of the FBI story which never happened), as well as some advertising the Hammock District–which is from my favorite Simpsons episode.

Kindred

on October 10, 2007 in Uncategorized No Comments »

Like episode two of this season of Heroes, the third chapter, titled, “Kindred,” managed to be fast-paced without being overwhelming. Instead of giving a linear recap/review, I’m going to break it into sections about characters.

The Sanders Family

It seems that D. L. didn’t survive being shot by Linderman, which is a bummer because not only was he a character with an interesting power (Kitty Pryde-esque phasing through walls) but D.L. was a stand-up father and husband. Perhaps Leonard Roberts will show up on Smallville again—which, on a side tangent, is a sinking ship of a series. Tsk. Tsk Gough and Millar. Tsk. Tsk.
After visiting his gravesite, of which the tombstone read “Husband-Father-Hero,” Nikiand Micah head to Louisiana. Niki’s leaving Micah with family there so that she can go off and TCB. The Company has somehow convinced her that they can “Cure” her and they will no doubt be manipulating her in shadowy ways.*

Best moment of the evening: Nichelle Nichols, in all her regal elegance, opening the door to mother and son and saying, “Well, welcome to N’Orleans.

!Horrible, Awful, Shameful Advertising Cross-Over!

There was an embarrassingly lame commercial with Beyonce Knowles shilling for American Express. At one point in the evening this ad took on an illustrated effect and asked the question, “Are you a cardmember?” Now, I honestly can’t remember if this has been an Amex tagline for a long time, but it was intentionally made to evoke the Heroes mantra from last season, “Are you on the list?”

I felt icky.

The Bennet, I Mean, Butler Family
I’m curious to know why Claire feels she needs to explain anything to her classmate, West, regarding what he saw through her living room window.

He’s stalking her!!! He should be explaining to her why he’s hanging around her house all creepy-like.

And not only should she already have a restraining order against the guy—but he then humiliates her publicly. In Bio class he asks the instructor what would happen if a lizard and human mated. Would the offspring be able to regenerate an amputated limb?

Now to be fair, West probably hasn’t met anyone else “like him” while Claire has—and he’s just an over-excited teenager. But I really hope they make him less of a dick, because Claire is awesome and she deserves better.

Also, we all sometimes need to be pushed out of our comfort zone to be able to claim who we really are, and everyone in Claire’s life who knows about her gift has discouraged her from using it. But West hasn’t considered how much danger he could be putting Claire in, even though he was previously bagged and tagged by the man with the Horn Rimmed Glasses.

She has to tell him, “I have to pretend to be a brainless Barbie doll so that I don’t get carted off to some laboratory!”

He tells her to shut up (ooooo-kaaay) and then takes her up in the air on an homage to the Lois Lane “Can you read my mind?” flight from Superman the Movie.


The Parkman-Suresh Household

It seems as if Parkman’s been having nightmares too. We know he can hear Molly’s nocturnal thoughts when she’s sleeping, but while he’s asleep does he experience her nightmares too?

It’s clear that Molly has big love for both her adoptive daddies, and it’s very cool to see such a caring and tight non-traditional family presented without a sitcom touch. Mohinder is pleased to be back in New York as he’ll be able to help out more around the house and with Molly’s development. But Parkman reminds him that as an academic and a scientist he’ll have trouble protecting the child:

“Mohinder, no offense but you’re a professor. You’re not 007.”

It seems that Dr. Suresh is going to have more trouble than he thought being the other daddy as The Company has co-opted Issac Mendez’s loft and have set up a lab for him there. It’s going to be extremely difficult for him to sneak away and not be watched by insidious eyes.

Hiro & Ando: Together Again (Sort of)

Both the Entertainment Weekly recap and the reader response there have expressed boredom with the feudal Japan story-arc—But I’m really enjoying it! Ancient myth has obviously informed modern myth, and it’s a playful twist to see how modernity might influence the classic.

Besides—how great is Ando’s discovery of Hiro’s message to him on the hilt of the sword?!?

“Ando, Open”

Hiro and Ando are supposed to be together and I love that they are connected across time. (Plus, there’s a little bit of Xena and Gabrielle there with the theme of the scrolls which document their adventures. Hmmmm.)

Hiro is determined to turn Kensei “into the man that history needs him to be.” Though Hiro is infectious, I’m a bit surprised that Kensei changed his temperament so quickly. One battle with 90 Angry Ronin (which did produce the best line of the evening: “How angry are they?”) and he’s ready to fulfill his destiny. He holds hands with Yaeko and tells Hiro he can’t leave yet because, “You’re like a conscience. Only, I take heed of you.”

I wonder how long that can last, especially with a blossoming love triangle (Perhaps, like Fry, Hiro will become his own ancestor!!!)

Sylar and Candace
Sylar wakes up in what appears to be Maui, but is actually an illusion manufactured by Candace (now played by a different actress as Missy Peregrym is on “Reaper” –soon to be reviewed). It turns out she’s the one who dragged him out of Kirby plaza * and he has had several surgeries to repair the damage caused by Hiro’s sword—but there is still a lot of stitching and bleeding in his chest.

By the end of the episode he has attempted to steal Candace’s power but is unable to activate it. This begs so many questions . . . . Can Candace project her illusions?

When we see her lifeless, brainless, seemingly murdered body it’s of the overweight woman she told Micah she might actually be—but why would anyone be stupid enough to stay with Sylar unprotected?

So, has Sylar really lost his ability to “fix” and commandeer the powers of others? Or is he being made to believe he has by The Company?

On top of all that, when the camera zooms out of the shack they’ve been inhabiting it appears that Sylar is stuck on the LOST island—What!?!?!? Perhaps this is just to tease all the fans who insist there are connections between the series. But it’s also totally, frustratingly weird. (yay!)


Peter Petrelli Struggles with the Dark Side of the Force

For me, the most irksome arc of the evening was Peter Petrelli’s. Peter was such a force of passionate good last season, and was told as much by a member of the earlier generation of heroes in last season’s finale (which you can watch me gush about here).

He obviously struggles with his powers—amnesiac or not—as well as with a general sense of frustration. And Peter clearly has inherited the Petrelli temper. (Remember when his taunting of Issac Mendez resulted in the death of Simone Deveaux?)

In Monday night’s episode he almost killed a man. A sadistic grin made clear that Peter enjoyed the feelings of power that came from seeing another disabled by his own hand. Fortunately uber-boring Caitlin was there to stop him (what’s with tedious love interests on TV this season?).

And what’s up with Peter deciding amnesia and a life of crime in Ireland are really the best paths for him? After exposing the “clan” traitor, and saving Caitlin and her brother, he was accepted with open arms by the very people who held him captive and abused him (a bit of Stockholm Syndrome, perhaps?).

As Caitlin inducts him with the family tattoo (which I knew could never be permanent with the regeneration powers) the ink faded to reveal the helix symbol embedded in the design of the symbolic family crest.

So Peter’s presence in Cork probably has a greater significance yet to be revealed.

The Twins
Their story needs to pick up speed soon. Unfortunately for those characters we went through the slow discovery and build-up with everyone else last season and as we are already deeply imbedded in the stories of Parkman, Suresh, Claire, HRG, Sylar, et al. it makes their storyline seem especially dragging. But with the reveal of Alejandro’s cell mate as the swiper of Claire’s car perhaps they’ll be coming into contact with more familiar characters soon.

As for Maya, she’s becoming increasingly desperate and doesn’t seem to care anymore who is infected by her “virus.” We’d had a discussion with friends the other night over whether or not her power is inherently evil (as mentioned by one of her relatives) and I really don’t think it is. It’s a part of her that is currently out of her control. She doesn’t know what is happening, how it’s happening or what to make of it. The thing-in-itself is not evil, but how it’s used could be for good or for bad. Or maybe not everyone with a power will be able to use it positively . . . Maybe not every power can be controlled.

*I thought Loeb was making sure that all steered clear of story-arcs already established elsewhere.

* *Which has yet to be explained—her body disappeared last year as well. Not only are her illusions tactile, but it appears that she may be able to project them from a distance as well.

I can’t believe I’m actually allowing myself to watch a show that’s not research for the book. But it got such a great review from one of my fave TV critics* and since the series premiered while I was on vacation I decided to give it a try. And it’s so much fun.

The Premise

Sam’s our hero—and before he was born his father was very, very ill. The Devil offered to cure him in exchange for the soul of his parent’s first born child, to be paid to him on said child’s 21st birthday. Sam’s parents agreed and then secretly vowed never to have children—their doctor then informed them that they were infertile anyway. But the doctor had bargained with the devil too. The Prince of Darkness offered to wipe his gambling debts clean, and all he had to tell this one little lie . . .

And so our story begins on Sam’s 21st birthday as all of this shocking news unfolds for him. He’s working at a Home Depot-esque place called “The Work Bench” and has dropped out of college because it made him “sleepy.” His parents have indulged him out of guilt and then over-compensated by obsessively (and unfairly) pressuring his younger brother.

He’s got a crush on his co-worker, Andi (Missy Peregrym), who is so utterly uber-boring I hope she either fades into the background of the show or ultimately becomes an active part of his assignments.

Which, by the way, is to capture escaped souls and return them to hell.

That’s right. Sam’s a bounty hunter for Beelzebub.

Once his two best friends Bert “Sock” Wysocki—a Jack Blacked Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob, natch) and Ben find out about this, they want in, and hilarity ensues. And it’s actually a staple of the (super)hero—you need to have friends with nothing better to do, and who (hopefully) either have, or develop, the desire to do right.

Ray Wise (Leland Palmer of Twin Peaks) is charmingly, seductively, creepily perfect as the Devil. He’s like Malcolm McDowell as Mr. Rourke but with a sense of humour and a desire to be “with it.”

He acts oddly fatherly towards Sam, encouraging him to stick with things, not give up, and follow through. He tries to help Sam end up with Andi (does he actually want Sam to be happy—or is he setting the poor kid up for some easy manipulation?).

He even has fatherly scorn when Sam fails:

“It’d be one thing to blow off your bounty hunter duties to get the girl. But you’re not even doing that! You’re embarrassing me.”

It’s also interesting that there is a tricky sense of morality involved. Technically, Sam is doing good by returning these souls to hell, but he’s doing it for someone really, really evil. So is it still doing good?

While the Devil provides a “vessel” in which to capture and return souls, The Work Bench provides all the sporting equipment, extension cords, and bug spray necessary to make assignments successful.**

It actually reminds me a bit of Ash and the SMart from the cult classic Army of Darkness with a healthy dose of Ghostbusters thrown in.

As Wise’s Devil might say, “How cool is that?!?!?”

*The one whose piece on “Once More With Feeling” finally convinced me to give Buffy The Vampire Slayer a try—even after so many dear friends had failed to do so.

**The writers must have a BLAST coming up with wacky vessels–I just hope it’s a joke that doesn’t soon wear thin.

The series was created by Tara Butters and Michelle Fazekas (who both previously worked on Law & Order: SVU) and Kevin Smith directed the pilot.