Posts Tagged ‘Supergirl’

Read My Article on Comic Book Letter Columns in Gender and the Superhero Narrative, Available Now!

October 19, 2018

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Today I got my copy of Gender and the Superhero Narrative, pictured above with a Funko of Diana Prince enjoying an ice cream cone, and I’m very excited to tell you all about this book. First off, I’m in it! That’s the main reason I’m telling you about it. I’ve written an article called “The Evolution of Female Readership: Letter Columns in Superhero Comics” and it is a DEEP dive.

I looked at over three thousand comic books for this study, and longtime readers may remember me asking for help tracking down some issues a couple of years back. Thanks to all of you (and especially thanks to Johanna Draper Carlson, KC Carlson, and their EPIC comic book collection) I got all of the letter columns I needed for this project, and the end results turned out very interesting.

I tabulated the folks who got published in letter columns at DC and Marvel by gender from their rise in the 1960s to the start of their decline in the 1990s. First, I established a baseline, with forty years of letter columns from Batman, Justice League, and Superman at DC and Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, and Fantastic Four at Marvel. These numbers alone showed some fascinating trends, including the steady decline of female readers getting letters printed in superhero books.

But that was just step one. I averaged out these numbers and then compared them to a female-led series from each decade. At DC, we had Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane in the 60s, Wonder Woman in the 70s, Supergirl in the 80s, and Catwoman in the 90s. The choices were fewer at Marvel, but we had Millie the Model in the 60s, Ms. Marvel in the 70s, Dazzler in the 80s, and a combination of Sensational She-Hulk and Silver Sable and the Wild Pack in the 90s.

Needless to say, this article’s got charts on charts, which shouldn’t surprise any of you who are familiar with my work. And there’s some compelling information therein. I won’t tell you everything I found, because you should go read this book. But here’s a fun tidbit: The average female readership for each female-led series was ALWAYS higher than the baseline average of the other titles. Every year, for forty years, across ten different series. There’s various ways to interpret that, but a key takeaway is: Girls will read comics when girls are in comics.

Anyway, it’s a jam packed article with all sorts of fun information, some great letter column quotes, and, like I said, all of the charts. It was very fun to put together, and I had a great time working with the editors Michael Goodrum, Tara Prescott, and Philip Smith. It’s an academic book and I am not an academic, but they kindly invited me to be a part of the project anyway. And now it’s published by the University Press of Mississippi, which is kind of amazing for a comics history nerd like me. I cite their great books on comics all the time in my research, so to actually be in one is very cool.

And, of course, I’m just one of several contributors (here’s a flyer for the whole works: Gender and the Superhero Narrative). If you like letter columns, my article will be your jam, but the book covers so much. It’s got pieces on Batwoman, Bitch Planet, Jessica Jones, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, and more. Plus an introduction from Ryan North! Everyone loves Ryan North. He is as smart and delightful as he is tall, and he is very, very tall.

I hope you’ll check out Gender and the Superhero Narrative! It’s available now from the University Press of Mississippi or via most bookselling sites. And it’s only $30 US, which is pretty dang good for an academic book like this. These things can get pricey. Anyway, I’m really proud of my piece, and I love that so many readers helped me find the comics I needed to finish the research for it. Good group effort, gang! I think it turned out really well. Go pick up the fruits of our combined labours today!

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Wonder Woman #47 Review: At Least the Art is Decent

May 23, 2018

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We’ve got four issues of this mess left, gang. An annual next week, then three more issues to get us to Wonder Woman #50 and the end of this god awful run. After that, new creators! And a writer who is actually good at both dialogue and plotting. I’m so looking forward to it. These past few months have been a real slog, and I’m optimistic that Wonder Woman will be readable once again come late July. Maybe enjoyable, even? I’ve got a good feeling about Steve Orlando, and Laura Braga and ACO on art should be a lot of fun.

But for now, we’re still in the middle of James Robinson’s foolishness. And dang, is it hard to care about this story. It’s just bad, and is building on all of the bad arcs that preceded it. It’s terrible all the way down. Jason’s still around, and he’s both the worst character AND the worst idea for a character I’ve seen in some time. And there are some Dark Gods that are doing something or other? We’re two issues in now, and we still don’t know much about them. It’s all so underwhelming. So let’s talk about it! But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!

Look away if you have not read this issue yet!

Unless you, unlike me, are sensible and have dropped the series and are just reading this to keep yourself in the loop of what’s going on!

I can understand that!

And I envy you your spare $3.99!

This issue is centered mainly on a fight between Wonder Woman and Supergirl, as we can see from the main cover. Kudos to Emanuela Lupacchino and the cover gang for the old school word balloons here. That’s a nice, classic touch. However, you should take a peek at Jenny Frison’s lovely variant cover for the issue:

ww47b

Ice cream fun with Diana and Kara! And you know they’re having a good time because a) they’re smiling and laughing, and b) they splurged on waffle cones, the most delicious form of cone. This is the story I’d much rather be reading, two superheroines out having a fun day, enjoying some ice cream. Something will inevitably go awry, of course, and they’ll shoot off to save the day. It sounds like a delightful issue! And I appreciate Jenny Frison giving me the opportunity to imagine such a pleasant story.

The actual issue is less pleasant. It begins with Supergirl, crazed by the Dark Gods, picking a fight with a flummoxed Wonder Woman. Much like the Cheetah battle two weeks back, Stephen Segovia does a solid job with the fight choreography, with some breakdown help from Rick Leonardi. The scene is dynamically rendered, with lots of action and velocity. And style, as well. I really like how he draws Supergirl’s heat rays with a bit of flair, and the entire flying battle is a master class in cape crumpling as she whips through the air. The whole thing is a good time.

Well, a good time until you read the words. Also much like last issue’s Cheetah battle, the fine visuals are undercut by some embarrassingly poor writing. The dialogue and narration are poor, and any sort of explanation for the fight is non-existent.

I will say, though, kudos to Saida Temofonte. Yes, most of the words are quite bad, but she does an excellent job laying them out on the page. I don’t talk about her lettering skills enough, partly because I spend most of my time rolling my eyes at the story and partly because when a letterer is good their work is so seamless that you almost don’t notice it. Temofonte is excellent, and has been doing a fine job on the book for months now. Her skills are on display particularly well during the fight scene. She stays out of the way of the action while still following along with the direction of the art, even across several two pages spreads. It makes everything easy to read and follow, which is exactly what you want in lettering.

If only they’d let her put in good words, instead of the bad ones James Robinson keeps choosing. He’s come up with an interesting fight scene here, and then sucks all the fun out of it with his writing. Every word he puts in Wonder Woman’s mouth, every caption that shows her thoughts, rings absolutely false. She just doesn’t feel like Wonder Woman. Supergirl’s got the excuse of being wacky with the Dark Gods’ influence; her dialogue should be wonky. But Wonder Woman’s in her right mind, yet she hasn’t seemed like herself for months.

Then we cut to Jason, who’s hanging out with the Fates because, I don’t know? Glaucus knows them, I guess? Anyway, we learn that his fancy new armor was meant for Diana, not him, and he still dons the armor anyway to go face the bizarre stone monoliths that have appeared in the sky. Kind of a jerk move, really. If Zeus wanted Diana to have it, he should probably stop using it.

I will say, I was mildly amused by the issue’s conclusion. Star Sapphires appear out of nowhere to take Wonder Woman off to Zamaron for next week’s Wonder Woman Annual #2, just as the battle with the Dark Gods is about to begin. The annual is going to suck, most likely, since James Robinson is writing it, but that ending is such a classic comic book move that I almost have to respect it a little bit. I love an out of the blue whisk away for a special issue.

This leaves us with a bigger problem, though. It sounds like the next issue of Wonder Woman proper is going to be Jason vs. the Dark Gods, and I do not want to spend four dollars on that shizz. When I go to buy Wonder Woman and her dopey brother is the star of the book instead, I get very, very, very annoyed. If we get little to no Wonder Woman in that issue, my review might just be “Nope. Nope nope nope.” Time will tell. But next week, Zamaron!

Cat Grant, President Marsdin, and Elizabeth Holloway Marston All Went to the Same College

May 16, 2017

supergirl

Last night’s Supergirl was one of the best episodes of the year, in no small part due to Lynda Carter guest starring as President Marsdin and the long awaited return of Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant. They even got to share the screen together before the Daxamite queen Rhea, played by Teri Hatcher, shot Air Force One out of the sky. Luckily Supergirl was there to save Cat, and the President was able to save herself when she revealed that she was actually an alien. It was all a lot of fun; one of the things that makes Supergirl special is its depth of amazing female characters, both heroes and villains, and they were out in full force last night.

After the plane crash, everyone was wondering how Cat Grant got on the plane in the first place. It turns out that she was old friends with the president, and that they’d gone to college together. Marsdin was her RA in the dorms of Radcliffe College, and that choice of university is a very fitting one.

Supergirl has been making sly references to the history of Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter’s President Marsdin, and fittingly so. When you’ve got Lynda Carter on board, you’ve got to have some Wonder Woman fun! Her name seems to be a double reference: Marsdin is reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, while Olivia appears to reference Olive Byrne, Marston’s partner and a major inspiration for Wonder Woman. With tonight’s episode, we got a shout out to Elizabeth Holloway Marston, the third member of the Marstons’ polyamorous relationship, co-inspiration for Wonder Woman, and a graduate of Radcliffe College.

Having already earned a BA from Mount Holyoke College and a law degree from Boston University, Elizabeth went to Radcliffe College in 1919 to get a master’s degree in psychology. At the time, Radcliffe was a women’s college; women weren’t yet allowed to attend Harvard itself, so Radcliffe was Harvard’s sister school. While at Radcliffe, Elizabeth worked with her husband researching systolic blood pressure and helped create the lie detector test, and eventually graduated in 1921 with her third degree.

Having Cat Grant and President Marsdin go to Radcliffe too is a delightful deep cut reference to Wonder Woman’s history, and that the writers at Supergirl took the time to make it speaks of their respect not just for their titular character but for Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman, and the women of the superhero world generally. William Moulton Marston didn’t create Wonder Woman on his own; Elizabeth and Olive contributed to the character in ways we’ll probably never fully know, and they deserve to be remembered as a key part of her history. With last night’s episode, Supergirl did just that in a small, enjoyable way. It was a cool moment in what was an absolutely great episode that has me so excited to watch next week. Did you guys see that ending? It’s crazy! Such a good cliffhanger!

Lynda Carter was on Supergirl Last Night, and it was THE BEST

October 25, 2016

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The second season of Supergirl has been off to a great start on The CW, continuing all of the joy and brightness of its first season. There’s nothing I love more than happy superheroes, and having Supergirl and The Flash on back-to-back nights is such a delightful way to start the week. The move to The CW hasn’t been entirely painless, though; Calista Flockhart is no longer a regular cast member, and her Cat Grant was a key part of the first season. But Supergirl has been working hard to counter her absence with an array of new, rad female characters, including the President of the United States, played by television’s first Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter.

It’s always great to see Lynda Carter, and having her on a female-led superhero show is just perfect. Even more perfect: Her character’s name is Olivia Marsdin, in what has to be a subtle shout out to William Moulton Marston and Olive Byrne, the creator of Wonder Woman and his live-in partner who influenced Wonder Woman’s creation. It’s a nice nod to Wonder Woman’s roots, and the first of several such references.

Also, a female president is timely given the current American election. Doubly so given that Supergirl observes, “How did anyone even vote for that other guy?” It seems that in both our world and the world of Supergirl, a woman ran against some dude who couldn’t hold a candle to her.

President Marsdin comes off well throughout the episode, and she definitely espouses the kindness and acceptance we’d expect from a former Wonder Woman, particularly in her Alien Amnesty Act. Earth is lousy with aliens on Supergirl, and the President wants to give them the same rights that humanity enjoys. And she’s got a big fan in Supergirl, who loves her from the get-go. Her excitement before meeting the President is straight up the cutest, and her affection for the President only grows after they meet. When Supergirl is excited about someone, you can’t help but like them even more.

Wonder Woman fun was sprinkled throughout the episode. When President Marsdin talked to Hank about her Amnesty Act and said, “I can think of no better time than the present to extend our hand in friendship,” my mind immediately leaped to this panel from Wonder Woman #25 in which Gail Simone penned what’s become a classic Wonder Woman line:

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I might be reading too much into the line, but it sprang to my mind instantaneously when I heard Lynda Carter say it.

We also get a classic spin move! When an angry alien bent on attacking the President lit Supergirl on fire, she put herself out with a spin:

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In what is clearly a reference to Wonder Woman’s iconic quick change spin move:

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And, in my very favourite moment of the entire show, after Supergirl mentions how cool it was to see Air Force One, the president replied:

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I mean, come on. How great is that?

Now, it wasn’t all fun and games with President Marsdin. But first:

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The end of the episode revealed a hidden side to the President. Namely, it looks like she’s an alien, with some shapeshifting abilities; her entire face distorted for a second into a distinctly non-human guise. She could be an alien double impersonating the President, or maybe the President’s been a deep cover alien all along! Either way, that’s definitely going to spell trouble. I’m curious to see where this startling reveal goes.

END SPOILERS!!!

President Marsdin wasn’t the only fun new character on tonight’s Supergirl. It was a cavalcade of awesomeness throughout the entire show: Mon-El finally woke up, Detective Maggie Sawyer popped in and had INSTANT chemistry with Alex, and Miss Martian revealed herself at the end of the episode. This season of Supergirl is adding a slew of fun new supporting characters, and I love the direction it’s going in.

I’m not sure when we’ll see Lynda Carter back on the program again. So far, I don’t think a return date has been announced, but given that reveal at the end of the show, I think it’s a safe bet that she’ll be back. Hopefully they’ll fit even more fun Wonder Woman references into that episode, too.

The Already Great Supergirl TV Show Just Got More Wonderful With Lynda Carter

August 19, 2016

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As if Supergirl wasn’t already fantastic enough. We’ve got a hilarious Cat Grant. The dang Martian Manhunter. Melissa Benoist just IS Supergirl. And this upcoming season on The CW sounds amazing: Miss Martian and Mon-El are going to show up, there’s going to be a huge crossover with Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow, and in a separate team-up Supergirl is pairing with The Flash for a musical episode crossover. Oh, also Superman is going to be on the show and he looks rad. It’s an embarrassment of riches, really. It’s just too much delightfulness.

And yet, it gets even better. A few months back, when Supergirl was still on CBS, it was announced that Lynda Carter, i.e. Wonder Woman herself, would be guest starring in the show’s next season as the president of the United States. Then Supergirl‘s renewal got iffy and it ended up moving to The CW and we didn’t hear much about this obviously brilliant casting choice. But, thank Hera, it’s still on! Melissa Benoist posted the above image on her Instagram account and it’s just the best.

We don’t yet know when Lynda Carter will show up. Just guessing from the production photos, it seems like the first couple of episodes will be the Superman stuff since we got those shots a few weeks back, and with this photo now that would put her at maybe three or four episodes in? It depends how they’re shooting, too; with everything moved to Vancouver now, they might be filming scenes with notable guest stars for a bunch of episodes all at once. She may show up even sooner. And hopefully often. What with all of the alien craziness going on as of late, the president way want to involve herself in things a bit more, and perhaps develop a closer relationship with the Maiden of Might.

Supergirl returns on The CW on October 10, and I can’t wait. The first season was a blast. Nothing makes me happier than smiling superheroes having awesome adventures. Oh dang, you guys, Lynda Carter sings too! Could she part of the musical episode as well? A Supergirl, Flash, and President Wonder Woman trio doing a number or two together would be the most enjoyable thing. Get on it, Greg Berlanti!

Superhero Angel Paper Craft Decorations, Including Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Ms. Marvel, and More!

December 22, 2015

I saw a cool classic style angel design on Buzzfeed this weekend and thought, “That’s fun! I bet I could make a Supergirl from that,” because I’m all about Supergirl as of late. The new show is the BEST. So I built myself a template based on what I saw and customized it to Supergirl, and quite liked it. Plus it was really fun to build. So I built more. And more and more. And ended up with ten superhero angels that are now decorating my home and making it all sorts of festive. Here’s what I ended up with!

1) TV Supergirl: Melissa Benoist is amazing, and I am all about that costume.

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2) Wonder Woman: Because, of course. It’s me! Who else would you expect?

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3) Batgirl of Burnside: It’s just the best costume.

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4) 1970s Catwoman: A classic, and super rad.

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5) Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan is maybe my favourite character in comics right now.

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6) Lois Lane: With superpowers, as seen in some classic 60s stories.

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7) Thor: I love me some Lady Thor. The comic is killer, and she’s so much fun.

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8) Patsy Walker, aka. Hellcat: My pal Kate Leth has a new Patsy Walker series starting tomorrow with art by Brittney Williams and it looks AMAZING.

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9) TV Hawkgirl: Such a cool character, and I can’t wait to see more of her in Legends of Tomorrow.

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10) Maps Mizoguchi: AW YEAH MAPS!! If you don’t love Maps, then you just don’t have a soul.

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If any of you happen to be interested in making angels of your own, here are all the PDFs for you. Just print them out, cut yourself a flap on one of the sides of the angel so you can stick it all together, fold it together and tape or glue it up! They’re really easy to put together. Yay for festive fun!

The PDFs:

angelBATGIRL

angelCATWOMAN

angelHAWKGIRL

angelHELLCAT

angelLOIS

angelMSMARVEL

angelMAPS

angelsupergirl

angelTHOR

angelWW

Lucy Lane Perfectly Embodied Her Silver Age Self In Last Night’s Supergirl, In Just Seconds

November 10, 2015

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I am loving Supergirl. It’s funny and action packed and upbeat and just blatantly feminist, all in a very sincere, almost corny way that could be terrible if everyone wasn’t selling the heck out of it. But they do sell the heck out of it, especially Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, and as Kara Danvers too; she kills it in both identities. There’s an earnestness to her, and to the show in general, that makes everything work like gangbusters. Tonally, it’s a lot like The Flash, which I also love, but with even less angst. It’s just superhero fun! I am all over it.

Last night’s episode saw the first appearance of one of my favourite comic book characters, Lucy Lane, played by Jenna Dewan Tatum. Lucy is Lois Lane’s sister, and has appeared intermittently in Superman comics over the years. When they announced that Lucy was going to be on the show a while back, I wrote a post about how I hoped that the show would go with her early 1990s riot grrrl incarnation, but instead they went even further back. This Lucy Lane was her Silver Age self to a tee, right from the get-go.

Before Lucy showed up, there were some romantic sparks flying between Kara and Jimmy, er, I mean James Olsen. The show seemed to be building up to some kind of moment between the two of them. Then Lucy showed up, and that went completely off the rails. In just a few seconds, Lucy quickly established herself as James’ ex-girlfriend and had him roped into a dinner date to talk about their relationship, squashing what he had going with Kara.

This is CLASSIC Lucy Lane. Starting in the 1950s, Jimmy Olsen had his own comic book series called Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, in which he had all sorts of whacky adventures. Lois Lane had a series as well, Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane, but Lucy rarely appeared in her sister’s book. Instead, she was a regular guest star in Jimmy’s series as his fickle girlfriend. Jimmy was constantly trying to woo Lucy, but she always put him down and ended up spurning him repeatedly. In short, Lucy was always screwing with his love life.

And now, decades later, she’s doing it again in a whole different medium. Poor Jimmy/James can’t catch a break. I’m willing to bet a lot of money that this arc with Lucy ends with her ditching James yet again.

(I should point out that there was an arc in the Super-books in the early 1990s where Lucy and Jimmy were dating and Jimmy got fired and ultimately became homeless. Lucy stuck with him, and got him help, and was a generally great girlfriend. Jimmy, on the other hand, was a terrible boyfriend and took on the fickle role, even after he got back on his feet. He ignored her and only called her when he wanted something. After her riot grrrl phase, Lucy wised up and dumped his sorry butt.)

Lucy seems to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance right now, though not in the comics. She’s in Gwenda Bond’s Lois Lane: Fallout YA novel, as well as its upcoming sequel, Lois Lane: Double Down, and now she’s on Supergirl. I’m excited to tune in next week to see what she and James get up to, as well as what villain Supergirl is taking on next. It’s just a rad show all around, gang. Check it out if you haven’t yet!


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