Since the last time I did one of these posts, I've had a couple things go up on PopMatters: a pretty lengthy piece on the latest arc of Hawkeye from two weeks back, and a shorter column this week examining what being a comicbook fan can teach us about loss. This week also saw the publication of my newest "1987 And All That" about Tales of the Cyborg Gerbils, as well as two reviews over at read/RANT on Batman Black and White #3 and Catalyst Comix #5.
UPDATE: I just got an e-mail from Max over at The Longbox Project letting me know that they put up a piece I wrote for them about the importance of Sensational Spider-Man #0 in my personal history as a collector. TLP is a very cool idea, and Max is a super nice guy (and easily the strongest writer on the site), so I am honored to have been invited by him to submit something. I'm definitely planning on contributing to them again in the future.
Something I Failed to Mention
Because I talked about each section of Catalyst Comix #5 individually, I didn't really delve into this, but there is a general sexism in that title I find troubling. Yet at the same time, it seems a less offensive or overt sort of sexism than is often found in superhero comicbooks, so it may actually be a step in the right direction. I nodded to this problem in the read/RANT review when I discussed Frank Wells' female villains always trying to bed him. That's just one instance of what Im talking about. Amazing Grace is the most intelligent, interesting, competent character in the series, and her costume choices go practical over sexy every time. That's all great. But her story is all about an alien who's powers make it irresistible to human women trying to hit on her for the purpose of mating. Less great. It makes the fact that she's a woman central to the story in a way that, for example, Frank Wells' gender doesn't factor into his narrative. Make Frank a woman and not a lot else has to change. Not true with Grace, where you'd have to also reverse the gender of basically every other character, too, in order to tell the same story with the hero as a man. All of the Agents of Change have histories they dislike, but Ruby's is the only one that involves selling her skills for sex. In some way, her prostitution days are connected to her powers of inflicting pain with her touch. It makes her an ideal dominatrix, to be sure. On the other hand, it feels easy and even lazy to have the one girl on the team have a background in the sex trade, while the men come from things like reality TV shows and just plain bumming around. Basically, I think the problem is that none of the sexism in any individual one of the three stories in Catalyst Comix would bother me. Taken all together, though, they send a message that the roles for women in fiction are either to be the objects of sexual desire or the desirers themselves. There really aren'y very many other depictions of them in the comic, which is irresponsible at best, and actively damaging at worst.