Superheroes in the 21st century

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Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Sat Apr 30, 2011 4:12 pm

Superman threatens to renounce US citizenship

Conservative commentators and bloggers react with disgust to the DC Comics superhero's decision

David Batty guardian.co.uk, Friday 29 April 2011 01.52 BST


Superman threatens to renounce his US citizenship in the latest issue of Action Comics. Photograph: AP

After years of declaring he stood for "truth, justice and the American way," Superman has provoked the ire of rightwingers by threatening to renounce his US citizenship.

In the latest issue of Action Comics, which went on sale on Wednesday, the Man of Steel decides to take the step after he intervenes in a protest against the Iranian government.

After the Islamic regime brands his non-violent protest as an act of war taken on behalf of the US president, the DC comic hero says he will renounce his citizenship before the United Nations.

"I'm tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy," he says.

Although Superman never actually renounces his citizenship in the story, conservative commentators reacted with disgust.

In a blogpost at The Weekly Standard, senior writer Jonathan Last questioned Superman's beliefs, now that he seems to have rejected the United States. "Does he believe in British interventionism or Swiss neutrality?" Last wrote. "You see where I'm going with this: If Superman doesn't believe in America, then he doesn't believe in anything."

Posters on comic book discussion forums drew parallels between the superhero's doubts about his citizenship and the conspiracy theories about Barack Obama's nationality.

Several posters branded conservative critics of the storyline "Earthers" - a reference to the Birthers - the nickname for the rightwingers who have questioned Obama's citizenship.

The plot comes as the superhero from the planet Krypton, who was raised by a Kansas farmer and his wife, looks to take on a more global mission for his battle against injustice. "The world's too small. Too connected," Superman says.

Superman, who was first introduced in 1938, has a long association with the United States, although Joe Shuster, the artist who helped create the character with writer Jerry Siegel, was born in Canada.

Superman's life story of assimilating into US culture has been seen as a metaphor for the immigrant experience, particularly Jewish immigrants.

DC Comics co-publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio appeared to downplay their character's declaration in a joint statement.

"In a short story in Action Comics 900, Superman announces his intention to put a global focus on his never ending battle, but he remains, as always, committed to his adopted home and his roots as a Kansas farm boy from Smallville," they said.

In a story published in 1974 Superman was granted citizenship of every member country of the United Nations.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011


Last edited by eddie on Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:51 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:47 am

Have Superman and Lois Lane reached the end of the road?

Fans divided as DC Comics co-publisher lets slip that the man of steel's 15-year marriage could be over

Alison Flood guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 June 2011 16.44 BST


Match made in the heavens ... Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve in the 1978 Superman film

Comic book fans are reeling after hints that one of the longest-standing marriages in superhero history, the 15-year union between Superman and Lois Lane, may be set to end.

The rumours were started by Dan DiDio, co-publisher at DC Comics, which is currently preparing a major reboot of its 52 series by taking them all back to square one from September. DiDio told the PopcornBiz blog that the marriage between the intrepid reporter and Clark Kent, which took place in 1996, was under scrutiny.

"Let's just say it's being re-examined, because it's something that I think is ... so valuable to the character's story that you really want to explore all facets of it. Not just as it exists currently," said DiDio. "I think what you're going to see is a lot of big changes for Superman."

His comments prompted intense analysis online. "This is going to sound a little whiny and 'tarded but, IT'S SUPERMAN AND LOIS, they should be together, even if it means yet another Lois not seeing through the glasses and eventual repeat performance of reveal and marriage," wrote one unhappy reader. Another was keen to see what a breakup might bring. "Honestly, what is it Lois and Clark were doing married that they couldn't do single? Once that marriage hit, they were put on autopilot as a couple and nothing interesting has come of it. I'm interested in seeing how separating them works. There's no doubt that Lois Lane will always be Superman's girl, though." One site, BleedingCool.com, speculated that divorce could even lead to a romance between Superman and Wonder Woman.

DiDio said that the rebooted Superman "went back to the core of the character", with writer Grant Morrison "taking the character and reinventing him so you feel a real contemporary tone, a really contemporary time, but still staying true to the core. I think it's so important for us to make sure Superman stays as relevant today as he did when he first was created back in the 30s."

As the world digested the dramatic news that the superhero's red underpants will no longer be on public showing, Morrison himself, in a pre-recorded video message shown at the Hero Complex Film festival in Los Angeles, said he wanted "to introduce a take on Superman that's going to be so different that no one can expect what might happen next".

"One of the things we're going to do in this book is also to show you how Superman is, who he is, why he ended up wearing the costume that he wears, and to show kind of a different side to the character than we've ever seen before," he said. "I think what we want to do here is recreate that first ever superhero, Superman – our greatest-ever idea as the human species, if you ask me – for the 21st century."

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:55 pm

Spider-Man death 'changes everything' for Marvel

Peter Parker perishes in new comic, but a new Spider-Man is on his way

Alison Flood guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 22 June 2011 13.12 BST


Spider-Man's death shown in a panel from the new Marvel comic. Photograph: AP/Marvel

Not since Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes has such a dramatic death hit the pages of fiction. Those with a sensitive disposition should look away now: Spider-Man is set to meet an unpleasant end in a new comic.

The conclusion of the Death of Spider-Man story from Marvel's Ultimate Comics will see Peter Parker's alter ego succumb to his nemesis the Green Goblin, dying in the arms of Mary Jane following a valiant battle. "We've never seen a world without Spider-Man, a world without Peter Parker, so his death is a significant event for the Ultimate Comics Universe and we're going to see how quickly it changes everything," said Marvel Entertainment editor-in-chief Axel Alonso.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis told USA Today that he wrote the story "with tears in my eyes like a big baby".

"I went upstairs to my wife, and I go, 'I am so embarrassed. I think I've literally been crying for 45 minutes.' I've had real things happen in my life I didn't cry about, and yet I'm crying about this," said the author.

The story is issue number 160 of the Ultimate Spider-Man series, which debuted in 2000. "Ten years ago, Brian Bendis and Mark Millar changed the way people saw superheroes with the birth of the Ultimate Universe. With 'Death of Spider-Man' the two have done it again, creating a story just as big, and something that would really resonate with fans." said Marvel senior editor Mark Paniccia.

But, just as Holmes was resurrected by Conan Doyle following a public outcry, fans shouldn't abandon all hope for Spidey's future, with an all-new superhero set to don the famous red and blue webbed suit soon enough, according to Marvel. "We had talked about what Spider-Man meant and what it could mean and what kind of new stories you could tell. If he died saving Aunt May like he couldn't save Uncle Ben, then you really had something," said Bendis. "It occurred to me that if Peter passed away in a meaningful way, he could be the Uncle Ben character to a new Spider-Man, which then continues it to be a real Spider-Man story. Then it became more than just, 'Oh my God, you killed him!'"

"Peter's death doesn't signal the end of their larger plan - it's the start of one of the most ambitious stories you've ever read in comics," added Paniccia.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:02 pm

Our Hero: Superman on Earth by Tom De Haven – review

By PD Smith

guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 July 2011 23.55 BST


Our Hero: Superman on Earth by Tom De Haven

In this succinct yet muscular survey (part of the Icons of America series), the author of the novel It's Superman! (2005) explores the enduring appeal of the Man of Steel – the first comic book superhero (or "metahuman", to use the current term). According to De Haven, "No other fictional character has been portrayed – drawn, acted, chronicled, parodied, and bootlegged – as often as Superman." There are at least 400 pop songs about him, a Broadway musical (It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman) and even a Superman brand of sliced white bread ("super flavoured"). Superman is reinvented to meet the needs of each generation: in the 1930s, when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created him, he was a "working-class warrior"; in the 40s, he personified the fighting spirit of Americans; and in the atomic age, he gained more super powers but became an "honorary policeman", a defender of the status quo. In a nation of immigrants he was "the ultimate immigrant", and an illegal one too. An affectionate and insightful essay about the world's favourite superhero.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:19 pm

Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero by Grant Morrison – review

This history of US comics by a pivotal writer in the genre is big on ideas, ambition and length, writes Jonathan Ross

Jonathan Ross guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 July 2011 10.00 BST


Super troopers ... attendees in costume at the 2009 San Diego Comic Con. Photograph: Denis Poroy/AP

If you haven't read a comic book recently, here's a "heads-up". The current vogue in the world of what used to be known as "four-colour funny books" is for bold blockbuster concepts told with big pictures and as few words as possible. It works, kind of, but those of us who grew up with the great writers of the 1970s and 80s – Don McGregor, Doug Moench, Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber (all of whom receive name checks in Grant Morrison's Supergods) – miss having more words, actual written ideas pasted alongside the pretty pictures.


Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero by Grant Morrison

Most comic books run to just 20 pages now, at least eight of which will feature giant panels with images of super-types punching each other. Maybe four pages will be devoted to setting up why they need to be punching each other. Two will be about how they get to bump into each other before they can have a big old punching party, and a couple more will be dedicated to tying up the loose ends after the last big fight. There isn't really a lot of space left for complicated ideas and eloquent wordplay. So if you are writing comics, and you have a sophisticated and original mind, these days you have no outlet for all those ideas about the plight of mankind, or how punk rock changed your life, or what transcendental meditation might achieve for Batman. And if there's no room for all that fun stuff in your comic books, when and where can you unload?

The answer, it seems, is here. Part history of comics, part memoir, part slightly loopy philosophical work, Supergods is an unusual book. It is also a big book: big on ideas, big on ambition, perhaps too big in terms of length. Even my nearly bottomless interest in, and affection for, comics and those who write and draw them began to ebb a little over nearly 500 pages. That's not to suggest that big is necessarily bad, it's just that it takes a certain amount of commitment to pick this up in the first place, and I suspect that the average reader – those not already hooked on comics or aware that Grant Morrison is one of the finest writers, if not the finest writer, working in comics today – will find it too much of an ask.

That would be a tremendous shame, because Supergods is perhaps the most satisfactory potted history of the American comic book industry I've ever read (and I've read just about all its competitors) while also offering a brilliantly incisive, if very personal, appreciation and analysis of the most important comic books or graphic novels – call 'em what you will – to be published in the past 30 years.

It begins as a fairly straightforward primer, detailed and informed enough to let you feel knowledgable but not so stuffed with minutiae and trivia as to deter a newcomer. For those who want more detail there's an excellent reading list at the back. Morrison dismisses the claims of ownership recently made by the early creators or their families to work published by the big companies. The argument is, in effect: "these creators couldn't wait to get published and they knew what they were signing up for." I disagree with him to some extent, but it's a complex and tricky issue, so it's just as well he doesn't expand on it too much, because the fun really starts later on. He writes with understanding of what it is that makes each of the more successful characters work, and sums up well the contrasting house styles of the big companies, Marvel and DC, detailing the rise in the 60s of the hip, funky, faux-counter-culture Marvel as the stodgy mainstream DC lost its readers.

As befits the man responsible for overhauling so many of the Golden Age heroes for DC (including Superman and Batman), Morrison rejects the usual narrative of comic-book history: that the 1940s and 50s represent a golden age, followed by a silver age in the 60s, then a bronze in the 70s and mid-80s. Morrison renames the latter period the "dark age", which I prefer – bronze, with its association with third place, always seemed to me to devalue what was an explosion of brilliant work.

Morrison's book hits maximum velocity when he writes about the things he knows most about – because he was there. He gives an account of the importance and influence of the British writers who invaded America after cutting their teeth with 2000AD, and he's good, too, on the indie scene over here. This fresh new wave of creators – each one with a complex relationship to the characters and the industry that had meant so much to them as kids – is beautifully described. The boom that Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Frank Miller helped to create, those sophisticated storytellers with a grasp of the full potential the medium offered, is recounted with all the heady rush of excitement it deserves: comics weren't for kids any more. But Morrison is also ideally placed to turn his gaze on the aftermath and the countless lesser imitators that followed.

It's a subjective take, and although I'd agree with most of what he says, after a while the author's pet peeves begin to show through and grow a little tiresome. Moore, in particular, is mocked rather churlishly for his announcement that he was leaving the world of superhero books having delivered Watchmen, only for him to return years later when, as Morrison surmises, his publishing venture Mad Love had failed to hit it big with readers. Yet Supergods contains perhaps the most acute analysis of Watchmen I've ever read. Not just how radical it was, and how much of a game-changer it became, but how it works in terms of layout, design, the book's remarkable structure and pace and complexity – many of which qualities reveal themselves only after several readings.

Morrison writes with clarity about his own not inconsiderable contribution to grown-up comic books – the meta-fiction of Animal Man, the delightful surrealism he brought to Doom Patrol and the boundary-bursting ambition that underpins (and in my opinion rather spoils) The Invisibles. These passages are funny and veer successfully between self-deprecation and a recognition of his own brilliance.

But, as the title suggests, this book is not just about comics and superheroes on the printed page. It shifts again to detail Morrison's fearless exploration, via hallucinogens and occult rituals, of the multiverse.

The problem here is that for a sane sceptic, even one who is fascinated by psychedelic transports brought about by such immersive decoctions as DMT, this section of Supergods, which might have been the most memorable, is in fact the dullest. It's not dissimilar to listening to someone giving a long description of their dreams. Shaving your head before dragging up in full fetish gear and wolfing down a magic mushroom omelette may well open the door to another realm, or give you access to demons and guardian angels. I have never tried it so I can't say with absolute certainty. But I am pretty sure that what Morrison was experiencing and is describing is a cross between a nervous breakdown and a common-or-garden trip.

Despite its faults – the length and the occasional self-indulgence – this is a likeable, amusing read. It is a showcase for a writer who really is one of the greats, one of the true originals still working in comics on a regular basis. But I expect that the definitive book about Morrison's work and his contribution to the world of comics will have to come from someone else, someone with a little distance and perspective. I just hope for his sake it's not Alan Moore.

• Jonathan Ross's first comic book, Turf, will be published in September by Titan Books. To order Supergods for £13.99 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:33 am

The new, non-white face of Spider-Man

Welcome Miles Morales, half African-American, half Latino, the new Marvel comics superhero

Laura Barnett guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 3 August 2011 20.30 BST


Marvel comics have introduced a new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, who is half African-American, half Latino. Photograph: Marvel Comics

Spider-Man has a new face – and it is not white. The latest incarnation of the Marvel comics superhero – plain old teenage Peter Parker by day, crime-fighting half-arachnid by night – was unveiled on Wednesday as Miles Morales, who is half-African-American, half-Latino. He takes up the mantle from the late Parker, who, in Marvel's Ultimate imprint – a series of comics, launched in 2000, in which characters are reimagined for contemporary settings – was killed off in June (but before you reach for the tissues, Parker is still alive and well in the mainstream Marvel comics). Morales debuts this summer in a six-part series named Ultimate Fallout, and will have his own comic from September.

Morales is not the first non-white character to stalk the mean streets of comic-book land. In 2006, DC's Blue Beetle was replaced by a Mexican-American teenager, Jaime Reyes; in 2010, Marvel ushered in a half-Mexican, half-Puerto Rican character, Anya Corazon, as the new Spider-Girl (disappointingly, she is no relation to Morales); and DC's Teen Titans series features Cyborg, an an African-American character.

But a row about the dearth of ethnic-minority characters in comics continues to rumble – and so the new Spider-Man's creators hope Morales will appeal not only to a new generation of readers, but mark a change in attitude, on the part of both comic-book artists and fans.

As Ultimate Fallout series artist Sara Pichelli told USA Today: "Maybe sooner or later a black or gay – or both – hero will be considered absolutely normal."

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  Lee Van Queef on Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:43 pm

Hit Girl is the greatest superhero of them all.


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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:51 pm

Spider-Man death 'changes everything' for Marvel

Peter Parker perishes in new comic, but a new Spider-Man is on his way

Alison Flood guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 22 June 2011 13.12 BST


Spider-Man's death shown in a panel from the new Marvel comic. Photograph: AP/Marvel

Not since Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes has such a dramatic death hit the pages of fiction. Those with a sensitive disposition should look away now: Spider-Man is set to meet an unpleasant end in a new comic.

The conclusion of the Death of Spider-Man story from Marvel's Ultimate Comics will see Peter Parker's alter ego succumb to his nemesis the Green Goblin, dying in the arms of Mary Jane following a valiant battle. "We've never seen a world without Spider-Man, a world without Peter Parker, so his death is a significant event for the Ultimate Comics Universe and we're going to see how quickly it changes everything," said Marvel Entertainment editor-in-chief Axel Alonso.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis told USA Today that he wrote the story "with tears in my eyes like a big baby".

"I went upstairs to my wife, and I go, 'I am so embarrassed. I think I've literally been crying for 45 minutes.' I've had real things happen in my life I didn't cry about, and yet I'm crying about this," said the author.

The story is issue number 160 of the Ultimate Spider-Man series, which debuted in 2000. "Ten years ago, Brian Bendis and Mark Millar changed the way people saw superheroes with the birth of the Ultimate Universe. With 'Death of Spider-Man' the two have done it again, creating a story just as big, and something that would really resonate with fans." said Marvel senior editor Mark Paniccia.

But, just as Holmes was resurrected by Conan Doyle following a public outcry, fans shouldn't abandon all hope for Spidey's future, with an all-new superhero set to don the famous red and blue webbed suit soon enough, according to Marvel. "We had talked about what Spider-Man meant and what it could mean and what kind of new stories you could tell. If he died saving Aunt May like he couldn't save Uncle Ben, then you really had something," said Bendis. "It occurred to me that if Peter passed away in a meaningful way, he could be the Uncle Ben character to a new Spider-Man, which then continues it to be a real Spider-Man story. Then it became more than just, 'Oh my God, you killed him!'"

"Peter's death doesn't signal the end of their larger plan - it's the start of one of the most ambitious stories you've ever read in comics," added Paniccia.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:13 pm

A comic look at superhero sexism

Kevin Bolk has brilliantly subjected the male Avengers to kind of 'gaze' normally trained on their female counterparts. It's a very different picture


Detail from Kevin Bolk's parody of The Avengers poster. Photograph: Kevin Bolk

Check this out – it's both hilarious and brilliantly disturbing - artist Kevin Bolk's re-imagining of The Avengers, with the male superheroes depicted in the way female superheroes are usually drawn.

Bolt was prompted to draw the parody after seeing the promotional image for the new Avengers movie, writing a couple of months ago that it "would be awesome if only Black Widow wasn't in a ridiculous and impractical 'look at my ass' pose. It just seems unfair that everyone else gets to be heroic and she's just 'Ohai! Pin-Up!'"

Now it's the Hulk and his male friends who are arse-forwards, in an image which really does, as Tom Davenport puts it, highlight the "sexism in comic culture".

I'm with io9, who are hoping that "Bolk and other artists remake all the other male supers who are deserving of their own pin-up shots". Although the Bolk image does rather remind me of some of the classic bad science fiction book covers from days of yore– perhaps instead of hoping that female superheroes shouldn't be depicted in pin-up poses, we should be campaigning for men to show more muscles. For "look at my ass" poses to be shared between the sexes.

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Thu Dec 29, 2011 11:57 pm

Ker-pow! Women kick back against comic-book sexism

UK-made, female-driven anthology Bayou Arcana is causing a stir for more than just its haunting images and storylines

Ben Quinn

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 December 2011 22.21 GMT


The emblem of the Thought Bubble festival, a six-day event in Leeds billed as the UK’s largest annual event celebrating all 'sequential art' forms

It is one of the more eagerly awaited titles due to emerge from Britain's vibrant independent comic and graphic novel scene. But the "southern gothic" horror anthology, Bayou Arcana, is causing a stir for more than just its haunting images and storylines.

The anthology is the product of a unique experiment that brings together an all-female team of artists with an all-male team of writers – and it is an illustration of how a new generation of female artists and readers is radically changing the face of comics.

"There is a certain sensitivity that you find in women's art that just does not appear in a lot of guys' work," says James Pearson, who edited the anthology, which follows the story of escaped slaves taking refuge in a swamp.

"The way that they interpret the horror has an added depth to it – and that is part of the experiment. It's actually a really sensitive approach to quite visceral subject matter."

The anthology, due out next year, emerges as momentum for a change in comic book culture – still seen as the realm of earnest young men with ponytails and goatee beards – is growing.

"Historically the comic book industry has been very male-dominated, but recently there has been a shift," says Lisa Wood, co-founder of the Thought Bubble festival, a six-day event in Leeds billed as the UK's largest annual event celebrating all "sequential art" forms. "We are suddenly hearing women's views and experiences on politics, religion, sexual ideas and parenthood. But most importantly these stories are not exclusive to women, they are stories for everyone."

Wood cited Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical memoir of growing up in Iran which was made into an Oscar-nominated animation, Kate Brown's Fish and Chocolate and Simone Lia's Fluffy as examples of the change. "These stories approach the medium with delicate humour and intelligent emotion," she said.

Thought Bubble, whose workshops and forums in November celebrated female writers and illustrators, reflects their growing voice in what has traditionally been a male scene.

Attendees at the event included established artists such as Posy Simmonds, creator of Tamara Drewe, and Suzy Varty, who published the UK's first women's comic book anthology, Heroine, in 1977. Other guests from a new breed included artists from Danish comics group Penneveninder, US comic creator Becky Cloonan and Britain's Emma Vieceli.

"It's really important for us to showcase women in the comic book industry, especially as many talented individuals are overlooked by other comic book conventions in the UK," says Wood.

"Look at the line-up of any major convention and the imbalance is clear to see."

It is not just the artists and writers who are increasingly finding their voice. A group of female comic book fans in the US are currently preparing to launch a movement against harassment at comic conventions in conjunction with social campaigns website Change.org.

"Physical and verbal harassment are widespread at comic conventions and other geek-oriented cons – not just of attendees, but guests and staff as well," says Jessica Plummer, one of the organisers of the petition calling for the adoption of anti-harassment polices.

"I've seen reports of everything from inappropriate comments to rape. I've seen women groped by strangers because they were in costume," she says.

"As far as the wider comic book culture is concerned, many female comic book fans have stories of being ignored, harassed, or treated with hostility in comic book stores, and there's certainly persistent gendered bullying online." The planned petition comes in the wake of another earlier this year which expressed reader outrage at the lack of female writers and characters at DC Comics, which owns rights to characters such as Superman and Batman.

The proportion of female creators in its comics plunged from 12% to 1% when it relaunched its entire line of superhero titles.

More than 4,500 fans called on DC to "do something about these appalling, offensive numbers or you will only continue to see your sales numbers plummet".

DC insisted it was taking their concerns "very seriously" and pointed to writers such as Nicola Scott, Felicia D Henderson and Gail Simone. It also highlighted female DC characters such as Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Catwoman and Batwoman, who was reinvented as a lesbian.

Comics bloggers such as Vanessa Gabriel say, however, that both DC and Marvel – which together dominate the market – have been slow to do more than pay lip service to female readers.

DC has been "doing better" in headlining female characters and its sophisticated Vertigo imprint has impressed, says Gabriel, but the "heavy gore and gratuitous violence prevalent in many Marvel titles narrows the scope of their audience".

She adds: "I think there has been a formula that may have worked in the past for Marvel and DC, and clearly it is not working any more."

Another US commentator, Laura Hudson, links the enduring dearth of female creators and decision-makers in the industry to why most mass-market titles "range from comics where women are sexualised to comics where they are really, really sexualised in offensive ways."

"Drawing women with impossibly thin waists and triple D-cup breasts in revealing costumes is the aesthetic default in superhero comics, and institutionally that's hard to break away from," says Hudson, who edits the ComicsAlliance fan website.

"Independent comics and webcomics, meanwhile, have a far more even ratio of male to female creators, and perhaps not accidentally a far more diverse and balanced approach to women."

So, too, have graphic novels, whose recent boom has been a factor in attracting new readers – and major booksellers.

Nicola Wilkinson, an artist and letterer who is part of the Bayou Arcana team, says research she was involved with in Britain suggested women were more likely to buy their graphic novels in shops such as Waterstone's rather than traditional comic outlets.

"There definitely has been a shift in purchasing and consumption behaviour which sees more comics sold as collections or full-length graphic novels in bookshops, " says Wilkinson. "It also means that door has been opened for smaller independent publishers to produce stories covering a wider range of topics."

Big publishers are also diversifying. Examples from this year include Marzi: A Memoir, a graphic novel published by DC's Vertigo.

Written by Marwena Sowa, her account of account of growing up in 1980s Poland, with a child's eye view of Chernobyl and the overthrow of communism, is a world away from traditional superhero narratives. Acclaimed by reviewers, it has also struck a chord with Poles at home and abroad.

"Last week I had a meeting in Brussels with readers, including a lot of Polish people from my generation. The girls there said that since they have been abroad they don't speak about how they used to live in Poland. They just buy one Marzi and give it to new friends and say: 'That's how it was.'"

Sowa adds: "There is no separation of comic books made by men or women. But for me it's also not strange that I have female readers and also that a lot of them are children."

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  Yakima Canutt on Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:32 pm

eddie wrote:A comic look at superhero sexism

Kevin Bolk has brilliantly subjected the male Avengers to kind of 'gaze' normally trained on their female counterparts. It's a very different picture

Or it's not all that different. By the 1970s and 1980s, superhero comics were ludicrously homo-erotic. There's usually more male characters than females, so the bulk of what you're looking at is outlandish contortions of rippling male muscular systems.


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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:06 am

user wrote:it's not all that different. By the 1970s and 1980s, superhero comics were ludicrously homo-erotic. There's usually more male characters than females, so the bulk of what you're looking at is outlandish contortions of rippling male muscular systems.

Good point.

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:29 pm

Batman named greatest comic hero

Caped Crusader bests Spider-Man and Superman in Comic Heroes magazine's ranking

Alison Flood

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 28 February 2012 12.12 GMT


Batman ... knocking out the competition Photograph: Jerry Robinson/AP

Batman's utility belt doesn't really compare to the superpowers of Spider-Man and Superman, but Gotham City's caped crusader has nonetheless been named the greatest comic hero of all time.

The readers of Comic Heroes magazine voted for Batman, the alias of billionaire Bruce Wayne, as their top comic hero, ahead of the second-placed Spider-Man and the third-placed Superman. The magazine is not the first to rank heroes from the world of comics: in 2008 Empire magazine put Superman top, followed by Batman and John Constantine, the exorcist created by Alan Moore, while the Man of Steel also topped a list from IGN.

But Comic Heroes editor Jes Bickham said it was "no surprise" that Batman came in at No 1 as the character, created in 1939 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, was, "quite simply, the coolest and most interesting superhero ever created". He even, pointed out Bickham, has a butler.

Batman "doesn't have superpowers; he gets by with his mind, his wit and his physical abilities. He's dark, conflicted and tragic, yet never less than the best of us. He's got the best costume and the finest gadgets," said the editor. "His rogues' gallery is the most frightening and freakish collection of villains ever assembled; a cavalcade of criminality unmatched in modern comics. He's also strong enough to fit almost any story, being constantly remoulded by writers and artists since his creation in 1939."

Wolverine, the adamantium-clawed mutant from X-Men, comes in fourth in Comic Heroes' top 10, followed by Judge Dredd. Tintin makes a surprise appearance in sixth place, with the list rounded out by Captain America, a token woman in the shape of Wonder Woman, The Spirit and The Thing.

Comic Heroes' top 10 comic heroes of all time are:

1. Batman
2. Spider-Man
3. Superman
4. Wolverine
5. Judge Dredd
6. Tintin
7. Captain America
8. Wonder Woman
9. The Spirit
10. The Thing

eddie
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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:03 am

Superheroes movies like Avengers Assemble should not be scorned

From Superman to Batman, superhero films have much to teach us about faith and humanity – as well as being terrrific visual spectacle, writes Avengers Assemble star Tom Hiddleston

The Guardian Film Blog


Avengers assembled … Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Robert Downey Jr, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Cobie Smulders, Chris Hemsworth and Clark Gregg at the London premiere of Avengers Assemble. Photograph: Jon Furniss/WireImage

Earlier this year, beneath the wind-whipped tarpaulin of a catering tent in Gloucester, I was working on a film with the actor Malcolm Sinclair. Over scrambled eggs at an ungodly hour, he told me something I had not previously known: when Christopher Reeve was young, barely out of Juilliard, he was roundly mocked by his peers on Broadway for accepting the role of Superman. It was considered an ignoble thing for a classical actor to do.

Avengers Assemble
Production year: 2012
Country: USA
Cert (UK): 12A
Runtime: 142 mins
Directors: Joss Whedon
Cast: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hiddleston

I grew up watching Superman. As a child, when I first learned to dive into a swimming pool, I wasn't diving, I was flying, like Superman. I used to dream of rescuing a girl I had a crush on (my Lois Lane) from a playground bully (General Zod). Reeve, to my mind, was the first real superhero.

Since then some of the greatest actors have turned superheroes into a serious business: Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Batman; Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, the first venerable knights of the X-Men, who have now passed the baton to Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. In spite of 20 years of mercurial work in the likes of Chaplin and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it was his rock-star-charismatic yet somehow humble Tony Stark in Iron Man that helped wider audiences finally embrace the enormous talent of Robert Downey Jr. And Heath Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight quite simply changed the game. He raised the bar not just for actors in superhero films, but young actors everywhere; for me. His performance was dark, anarchic, dizzying, free, and totally, thrillingly, dangerous.


Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Avengers Assemble. Photograph: Zade Rosenthal

Actors in any capacity, artists of any stripe, are inspired by their curiosity, by their desire to explore all quarters of life, in light and in dark, and reflect what they find in their work. Artists instinctively want to reflect humanity, their own and each other's, in all its intermittent virtue and vitality, frailty and fallibility.

I have never been more inspired than when I watched Harold Pinter speak in a direct address to camera in his Nobel lecture in 2005. "Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond with the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Some times you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost."

Big talk for someone in a silly superhero film, I hear you say. But superhero films offer a shared, faithless, modern mythology, through which these truths can be explored. In our increasingly secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocalyptic nightmares can be projected and played out. Ancient societies had anthropomorphic gods: a huge pantheon expanding into centuries of dynastic drama; fathers and sons, martyred heroes, star-crossed lovers, the deaths of kings – stories that taught us of the danger of hubris and the primacy of humility. It's the everyday stuff of every man's life, and we love it. It sounds cliched, but superheroes can be lonely, vain, arrogant and proud. Often they overcome these human frailties for the greater good. The possibility of redemption is right around the corner, but we have to earn it.

The Hulk is the perfect metaphor for our fear of anger; its destructive consequences, its consuming fire. There's not a soul on this earth who hasn't wanted to "Hulk smash" something in their lives. And when the heat of rage cools, all that we are left with is shame and regret. Bruce Banner, the Hulk's humble alter ego, is as appalled by his anger as we are. That other superhero Bruce – Wayne – is the superhero-Hamlet: a brooding soul, misunderstood, alone, for ever condemned to avenge the unjust murder of his parents. Captain America is a poster boy for martial heroism in military combat: the natural leader, the war hero. Spider-Man is the eternal adolescent – Peter Parker's arachnid counterpart is an embodiment of his best-kept secret – his independent thought and power.

Superhero movies also represent the pinnacle of cinema as "motion picture". I'd like to think that the Lumière brothers would thrill at the cat-and-mouse chase through the netherworld streets of Gotham in The Dark Knight, with helicopters tripping on high-tensile wires and falling from the sky, and a huge Joker-driven triple-length truck upending 180 degrees like a Russian acrobat. I hope that they would cheer and delight at the rollercoaster ride through the skies of Manhattan at the end of Avengers Assemble. These scenes are the result of a creative engine set in motion when the Lumières shot L'Arrivée d'un Train en Gare de la Ciotat in 1895. The trains just move a lot faster these days. And not just trains; trucks, bikes, bat-mobiles and men in flying, shining iron suits. The spectacle is part of the fun – part of the art, part of our shared joy.

How far I hope we have come since the judgment of Christopher Reeve's peers. Maybe playing superheroes isn't such an ignoble undertaking after all. "I still believe in heroes," says Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury in Avengers Assemble. So do I, sir. So do I.

• Avengers Assemble is released in the UK on 26 April.

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:12 am

The last word on the superhero genre:


The Watchmen- Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, John Higgins

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

Post  eddie on Sat May 05, 2012 4:18 pm


Steven Appleby

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Re: Superheroes in the 21st century

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