A Place Both Wonderful and Strange… and a Little Bit Queer.

22 10 2014

“Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot, black coffee.”

Aficionados of the groundbreaking and short-lived television series, Twin Peaks, have undoubtedly found resonance in that indelible quote from the charismatic Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). However, in this instance, the month of October saw series creators David Lynch and Mark Frost bestow said presents onto their loyal fan base. Not only was a third season set to debut in 2016, but an accompanying novel (penned by Mr. Frost) would reveal the fates of the town’s memorable denizens since we last saw them… twenty-five years ago.

To say that the characters and situations introduced in the brief, original run of Twin Peaks were peculiar would be an understatement. Referring to them as “queer” might be a bit more on point. This is not to say that the mysterious little haven in the Pacific Northwest was teeming with homosexual activity. It merely suggests that the basic definition of “queer” ( adj: differing in some odd way from what is deemed usual or normal) is arguably more appropriate.

However, amid the murders, dancing dwarves, and cryptic giants, the series still managed to serve up some LGBT-centric queer moments… and some damned good cherry pie.

Catherine Martell: From head-bitch-in-charge to scheming Asian businessman.

Catherine Martell: From head-bitch-in-charge to scheming Asian businessman.

The character of Catherine Martell (flawlessly portrayed by Piper Laurie) is remembered for many things… blackmail, attempted arson, accounting fraud, enslaving her sister-in-law, faking her own death, dressing up in full Asian businessman drag in order to swindle a plot of land out from under her ex-lover’s feet. Yes, Catherine “Tojamura” Martell… crossplaying before it was cool. So dedicated was she to her cause that Catherine altered not only her gender, she managed to tweak her stature, mannerisms, and voice. Her transformation so well-done that most newbie viewers were completely unaware of Tojamura’s true identity until the big reveal.

During the second season, the cast of Twin Peaks added to its ranks an actor who would eventually go on to portray one of the most famous FBI agents in sci-fi television… David Duchovny. It is perhaps this reason that he is best known for the role of Fox Mulder on The X-Files instead of a DEA agent on Twin Peaks.

What was so special about David Duchovny portraying a DEA agent on a television series that regularly featured characters from federal law enforcement agencies? His character was one of few (only?) openly trans characters on television at the time.

Denise Bryson arrives in Twin Peaks.

Denise Bryson arrives in Twin Peaks.

It is never made explicitly clear as to whether or not Denise Bryson self-identifies as transgender. However, it should be noted, that the character presents herself as a woman in both her professional and personal life. In fact, the only time that viewers see Denise revert back to Dennis is during a sting operation when the agent had to disguise herself.

The casting of a transgender character on a network television series during the 90s was pretty groundbreaking and it was both surprising and refreshing to see the character used in a way that was not just a punchline for a joke. In fact, she had some pretty heroic moments. Dale Cooper’s future could have turned out quite bleak without his old friend’s intervention.

Sexual activity was pretty fluid in the tiny hamlet of Twin Peaks. Physical affairs were sparked left, right, and sideways. None of this is more evident than with the character of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)… the emotionally tortured homecoming queen whose death in the pilot episode ignited one of the most memorable murder mysteries in television history.

Laura Palmer with Ronette Pulaski and Teresa Banks at the Blue Diamond Motel.

Laura Palmer with Ronette Pulaski and Teresa Banks at the Blue Diamond Motel.

It is probably unfair to label Laura Palmer as bisexual. However, it was strongly implied during the events of Fire Walk With Me that she had a physical relationship with both Ronette Pulaski (Phoebe Augustine) and Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley). Jennifer Lynch’s companion piece, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, also alluded to the fact that she was carrying on a tryst with Josie Packard (Joan Chen) during their English tutoring sessions.

Flash-forward to twenty-five years later. Fans are on the cusp of revisiting the town of Twin Peaks. Much has changed in the country with regards to LGBT rights and representation. It is pretty safe to assume that these advancements, in some way, will be reflected in the third season of Twin Peaks as David Lynch has never been one to shy away from LGBT themes in his work (Mulholland Drive).

 





Strong Female Character: Lila @#$%ing Cheney!

2 10 2014
A preview of David Lopez's art for "Captain Marvel" #9 (feat. Lila Cheney).

Preview of David Lopez’s art for “Captain Marvel” #9 (feat. Lila Cheney).

In a recent interview with CBR, “80s fairy tale rock opera” were the exact words that Captain Marvel scribe, Kelly Sue DeConnick, used in reference to the title’s upcoming 9th issue.

If you are fortunate enough to remember the magical decade known as the 80s, images of punk rockers, studded belts, glitter, neon-colored jelly bracelets, leather motorcycle jackets, teased hair, ripped fishnet stockings, and smudged eyeliner should be swirling through your mind.

What Marvel character epitomizes everything that was glamorously trashy and decadent about the 80s? There is only one. She’s British… she’s an intergalactic teleporter… she’s a mutant rockstar… she’s Lila Cheney. Yes, as confirmed by Marvel’s November solicits, Sam Guthrie’s former flame is set to cross paths with the (now) spacefaring Carol Danvers.

Newer comic book readers (and others that have been living under a wet stone) may be asking “Who is Lila @#$%ing Cheney?” In preparation for November’s issue of Captain Marvel, five of Lila’s “better than everyone else in the Marvel Universe” moments have been gathered below:

Lila Cheney's first appearance ("New Mutants" Annual #1).

Lila Cheney’s first appearance (“New Mutants” Annual #1).

1) The Bill Sienkiewicz cover of New Mutants Annual #1: The world’s first glimpse of Lila was courtesy of Bill Sienkiewicz’s stunning cover artwork for New Mutants Annual #1. The cover, featuring a Siouxsie Sioux-looking Lila with Sam Guthrie (a.k.a. Cannonball) at her side, is an obvious homage to other cinematic artwork (Conan the BarbarianStar Wars). However, instead of the female appearing in the submissive role, Lila is the alpha dog and Sam has become the “damsel in distress”.

2) Meeting Mrs. Guthrie for the first time: It should be common knowledge to X-Men fans that Sam Guthrie hails from America’s heartland… the ultra-Conservative and redder- than-a-candy-apple state of Kentucky. You can imagine Sam’s mortification when Lila showed up to meet the matriarch of the Guthrie family looking like a Jem and the Holograms groupie doing the walk of shame.

Lila meets Mrs. Guthrie in "New Mutants" #42.

Meeting Mrs. Guthrie in “New Mutants” #42.

In the end, her appearance was revealed to be a ruse after she teleported away to change into a more demure ensemble. Her goal was to determine whether or not Sam would ever be ashamed of her, their relationship, or their obvious differences. The family introductions went off without a hitch and Lila would remain friendly with Mrs. Guthrie for many years to come.

(side note: Parallels to LGBT relationships can easily be made throughout this memorable scene.)

3) Dazzler tried to upstage Lila so Ms. Cheney threatened to fire her ass: Despite growing anti-mutant sentiment, the events of Dazzler: The Movie saw the disco queen “come out” as a mutant to the public. Needless to say, it ruined Alison’s career and she was forced into hiding… as a backup singer for Lila Cheney’s band. Following a concert in San Francisco, the disembodied psionic mutant, Malice, took possession of Dazzler and began to influence her behavior.

Dazzler takes over lead vocals in "Uncanny X-Men" #214.

Dazzler takes over lead vocals in “Uncanny X-Men” #214.

Some time later, as Lila’s tour was in full swing, Dazzler (Malzzler/Dazzlice) attempted to usurp the role of lead vocalist from Lila. Claiming to only be concerned for Dazzler’s safety, Lila threatened to sack the singer should she ever try shenanigans like that again. Truthfully, we all knew that Lila rightfully didn’t like sharing the spotlight.

Lila Cheney and Deathbird... badass babes with big guns ("Uncanny X-Men #276).

Lila Cheney and Deathbird… bad, beautiful babes with really big guns (“Uncanny X-Men #276).

4) That time she was recruited by Deathbird and had a really big gun: At one point, occasional Shi’ar Empress, Deathbird, elicited the help of Lila Cheney after the former witnessed Charles Xavier laying waste to planets within the Empire.

Being an intergalactic teleporter proved most useful as Lila used her powers to collect the X-Men at Deathbird’s behest. In the end, it was revealed that Xavier and his lover, Lilandra, had been replaced by Warskrulls who had seized the opportunity to attack Shi’ar alien races. The invaders were defeated and the real heroes rescued from their confinement.

It was never revealed whether or not Lila and Deathbird had raided Cable’s weapon stockpile to obtain the insane hardware that they so proudly wielded.

5) She played a flying monkey in Mojo’s production of The Wizard of Oz: Hoping for some r&r at her Malibu beach house, Lila was surprised to see that her bodyguard, Guido, had invited an amnesiac Dazzler to stay with them.

Lila Cheney... the true star of Mojo's "The Wizard of X" ("X-Men" #7).

Lila Cheney… the true star of Mojo’s “The Wizard of X” (“X-Men” #10).

The rag tag group of mutants  soon had a few more uninvited guests… first in the form of Longshot, who came seeking Dazzler’s help back in his home world, the Mojoverse. Next, came the sorceress, Spiral, in an attempt to convince Lila to teleport them all to safety. Unbeknownst to Lila, her powers had been altered, resulting in her, Longshot, and Dazzler all being sent to the Mojoverse.

The X-Men were summoned to help their teammates but soon ended up as prisoners of Mojo, themselves. With his love of televised entertainment unquenchable, Mojo produced The Wizard of X… starring the X-Men. Lila’s big, onscreen moment came when she was coerced into attacking the show’s Dorothy (Longshot).

Mojo was eventually defeated and his grip over the Mojoverse transferred to Mojo II: The Sequel.

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Carol Stardust and the Flerkins from Mars (David Lopez’s cover artwork for “Captain Marvel” #9).

Most recently, Lila had been seen in the company of David Haller, the mutant known as Legion. She assisted him in his mission to wipe mutantphobia from Great Britain (Si Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy #13-14) and has since been off-the-grid.

Details have been quite scarce as to the story behind Lila’s upcoming appearance in Captain Marvel. Judging by what Kelly Sue has done with the title, thus far, readers can be sure to expect quite a stellar ride! Afterall, it’s not every day that Carol Danvers gets done up in full Ziggy Stardust makeup!





Alpha Flight: Not Just Canadian Cannon Fodder.

12 09 2014
"Alpha Flight" #24

“Alpha Flight” #24

August 1985. It was, undoubtedly, a sweltering and humid afternoon in the suburbs of western New York state. A routine walk to the local convenience market would set into motion the next thirty-four years of… well, we’ll call it a hobby because the word “obsession” has such negative connotations.

Perhaps, the most common question posed to a lifelong reader of comic books is “What was your first comic book that you ever bought?”. Most fans can tell you, with the most detailed of details, every circumstance surrounding that initial purchase.

My comic book roots can be traced back to that summer day in 1985. While perusing the wire rack in that tiny market, my eyes fell upon issue #24 of Alpha Flight. Being as young as I was, I obviously had no idea who these intriguing superheroes were or what their history was up to this point. However, the big draw for me, at that moment, was the fabulous blonde woman in the swirling cloak and white tiara… a.k.a. the Inuit demi-goddess, Snowbird.

Growing up so close to the border of New York state/Ontario and having CBC as a staple television channel in our household, it was incredibly easy to relate to the Canadian setting for most of Alpha Flight‘s adventures in that initial 130-issue (plus two annuals) run. Team members would come and go and the battles against eccentric super villains (see: Dreamqueen, Gilded Lily, and Pink Pearl) were plentiful.

Issue #106 should particularly resonate with queer readers as the first official confirmation of a LGBT superhero existing in mainstream comic books. The mutant speedster, Northstar, would eventually go on to marry his partner, Kyle Jinadu, in the pages of Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men #51.

Years passed that would see several failed attempts to revive the series. Most of the cast and supporting characters were thrown into “limbo” where they would remain until they were required as punching bags or in order to add a gratuitous body count to a particular story arc. Behold, the all-new, all-different Alpha Flight… Canadian cannon fodder!

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Northstar impaled by Marvel’s resident meathead, Wolverine.

Northstar was the first notable casualty of this new status-quo for Alpha Flight. 2003 would see Wolverine brainwashed by HYDRA and, being even less mentally competent than at other times, impaled Northstar while aiming for Kitty Pryde (side note: around the same time, Marvel also killed off the character in the universes inhabited by characters of the UltimateAge of Apocalypse, and X-Men: The End realities). After being resurrected by the Hand, Northstar and his sister, Aurora, were used by the Children of the Vault to attack the X-Men.

Alpha Flight is slaughtered by Michael Pointer following the events of "M-Day".

Alpha Flight is slaughtered by Michael Pointer following the events of “M-Day”.

On the heels of Brian Michael Bendis’ 2005 House of M event, Alpha Flight played the role of “sacrificial lamb” in order to increase shock value in New Avengers #16. Alaskan postal worker, Michael Pointer (after becoming a living vessel for all displaced mutant energies following the “decimation”), went on a rampage throughout the North American continent, wiping out active Alpha Flight members, Vindicator, Guardian, Shaman, Puck, Major Mapleleaf, and Zuzha Yu.

Namor is forced to dispatch his mutated wife, Marrina.

Namor is forced to dispatch his wife, Marrina.

When Marvel branded their titles with the Dark Reign moniker from 2008-2009, former Flight member, Marrina Smallwood, met her official demise (the character was apparently killed back in 1989 after her alien DNA reacted to her pregnancy by morphing her into a leviathan). Once again resembling a grotesque sea monster, the wife of Namor was sent by Norman Osborne to attack Utopia in an attempt to exact revenge against the Atlantean king. With assistance from the X-Men, the creature is defeated, killed, and then hurled through the windows of Osborne’s office at Avengers Tower.

Diamond Lil dies at the hands of Lois London during the "Necrosha" event.

Diamond Lil dies at the hands of Lois London during the “Necrosha” event.

2009’s Necrosha, penned by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost, revealed that longtime member of the Flight program, Diamond Lil, was one of the residents of the mutant sanctuary, Utopia. A handful of panels after this “introduction”, she was frivolously murdered by Dazzler’s sister, Lois London. The story of her arrival on the island haven and subsequent reconciliation with her estranged husband, Madison Jeffries, wasn’t chronicled until her funeral story within the pages of the anthology miniseries, Nation X, in February 2010.

Despite occasional jokes at their expense from editors and creators during convention panels, Alpha Flight seemed to briefly gain some traction in regards to respect during the 2010-2011 Chaos War crossover. Along with Marrina, three of the members killed by Michael Pointer (Vindicator, Guardian, and Shaman) were all resurrected to join their surviving teammates in battle against the Great Beasts. This would lead to the announcement of a new ongoing series spinning out of the upcoming Fear Itself storyline.

The excitement for fans of the series was short-lived. Almost immediately after the relaunched series began, Marvel solicitations revealed that the new ongoing title had been bumped down to nothing more than another limited series. The team would have a mere eight issues to shine before being tossed back into obscurity.

Had it not been for Northstar’s aforementioned wedding and the occasional appearances by the character in various X-books (along with co-Flight member, Madison Jeffries), there would have been very little exposure of the team until very recently.

Talisman impaled by a Wendigo cursed Wolverine.

Talisman is impaled by a Wendigo cursed Wolverine.

Following the initial arc of Amazing X-Men, Kyle and Yost (previously responsible for offing Lillian Crawley in Necrosha), took over the title in 2014 with a story titled, World War Wendigo. The (still ongoing) story centers on an outbreak of the Wendigo curse across Canadian soil with Alpha Flight and the X-Men working in tandem to subdue it. Within the first two issues of the run, Vindicator is savagely mauled by Canadian residents who’ve been infected by the curse and Talisman is brutally impaled by Logan after he succumbs to the plague.

It’s not explicitly apparent as to why Alpha Flight became the superhero team to bear such a huge target for both brutality on-panel and snide comments from creators whenever the inevitable “Relaunch?” question is asked at a convention or in an interview. Their quests and adventures are no-more outrageous and no-less fantastic than the Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy. Perhaps, if Marvel gave these Canadian powerhouses the respect and editorial push they deserve, readers would follow suit and Alpha Flight would fly high once again.





Answers in a World of Blue.

15 08 2014

imageJust days before her death, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) stepped inside the Twin Peaks watering hole, The Roadhouse. Immediately, viewers of Fire Walk With Me were swept up in the ethereal vocals of the bar’s staple singer, Julee Cruise, as she sang about questions in a world of blue.

Questions.

In relation to Twin Peaks, questions can be compared to the mythological hydra. For every answer that viewers were given, two more questions grew in its place. The continuous barrage of questions, mysteries, and secrets that swirled amongst the colorful (and oftentimes odd) cast of characters was what kept viewers tuned in each week.

And then, along came Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, the prequel film that chronicled the murder investigation of Teresa Banks (Pamela Gidley) and the events leading up to Laura Palmer’s demise. Originally compiling over five hours of footage, David Lynch was faced with the task of trimming it down to roughly two hours and fifteen minutes. The celluloid that ended up on the editing room floor not only included further exploration of newly established characters like Teresa Banks, Chet Desmond (Chris Isaak), and Philip Jeffries (David Bowie), it also featured the only scenes with Twin Peaks alumni Josie Packard (Joan Chen), Dr. Lawrence Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn), Nadine Hurley (Wendy Robie), and others.

Questions.

When would the studio and Mr. Lynch share these highly coveted scenes with fans?

Little did we know, it would be over twenty years before this question would be answered. This year’s Blu-ray release, on July 29th, of Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery  included not only the entire series and the Fire Walk With Me prequel, it also delivered over 90 minutes of deleted scenes from the film.

Click here to visit Geeks OUT for the full article.





Credence: A Family at the End of the World.

17 07 2014

20140624060626-Screen_Shot_2014-06-24_at_12_42_58On July 13th, an IndieGogo was launched to assist in the funding of Credence, “the first sci-fi to challenge LGBT portrayal in film”. As of today, five days later, the project has amassed 133% of its goal… with donations still being accepted through August 12th. To say this was an incredible feat would be an understatement.

Click here to visit Geeks OUT for the full article.





Batwoman: Happily Never After.

15 07 2014

September 2013: The longtime Batwoman creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman part ways with the title due to “editorial decisions [that] came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting.” Fans of the book and those familiar with the ensuing drama are more than aware that these “editorial decisions” mainly surrounded the now-scrapped plans to have Kate Kane marry her longtime partner, Maggie Sawyer.

Sorry, Kate. It's a life of misery and solitude for you.

Sorry, Kate. It’s a life of misery and solitude for you.

As the backlash and outcry began to spiral into a public relations nightmare for DC, Dan DiDio took the opportunity, during a panel at the Baltimore Comic-Con, to address the situation.

“Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives,” he said. “They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.” He then went on to point out members of the Bat family specifically. “People in the Bat family, their personal lives basically suck. Dick Grayson, rest in peace—oops shouldn’t have said that,—Bruce Wayne, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon and Kathy Kane. It’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s equally important that they set them aside. That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand.”

In addition to not knowing the current Batwoman’s name (Kathy?), DiDio essentially issued a blanket statement that forbade the cowled heroes from indulging in anything that might bring them happiness. Their personal lives were doomed to forever reflect the depressing and crumbling facade of the city they have sworn to protect.

Since then, everything has been going according to plan. Current scribe, Marc Andreyko, is in the midst of squaring Batwoman off against the vampiric Nocturna and Maggie is battling her ex-husband for custody of their child. The relationship between Kate and Mags? Shaky, at best.

Barbara Gordon's nemesis, The Ventrilquist, is the stuff of nightmares.

Barbara Gordon’s nemesis, The Ventriloquist, is the stuff of nightmares.

Gail Simone has certainly had her hands full bringing forth the “doom and gloom” edict in the pages of Batgirl. Not only has the titular character faced the likes of demented villains like Ragdoll and the Ventriloquist, she’s also had to deal with the return of the Joker and her mother’s disfigurement at the hands of the madman. To top things off, a wealthy socialite, who moonlights as a morally ambiguous villainess, seems hellbent on destroying Gotham in order to prevent its further corruption.

July 2014: Roughly ten months have passed since DiDio spoke at the Baltimore convention and Batgirl is about to receive a drastic shift in tone. With Simone leaving the title and Cameron Stewart set to take the helm, Barbara Gordon will be relocating to the hipsterish Gotham borough of Burnside in order to tackle grad school.

In a recent interview with MTV, Stewart said, with regards to Barbara, “Just prior to the start of our story she’s pushed to the breaking point and decides that she’s had it with misery and darkness and wants a change. She wants the opportunity to have some fun and live the life of a young, single girl in the city, so she packs up and moves to Burnside.” Artist, Babs Tarr, added, “I am excited to bring some flirt, fun, and fashion to the title!”

"TOTES gonna go fight some crime, but first..." (you know the rest)

“TOTES gonna go fight some crime, but first…” (you know the rest)

Hold the presses! What happened to the destitute and lonely lives that the caped crusaders were being forced to endure for the sake of the mission? It couldn’t have just been a feeble attempt at damage control following fan rage over what appeared to be a blatant slap in the face to the LGBT community and a character that they’ve come to care about! That’s just unspeakable and would never happen in this day and age. </end sarcasm>

Does this mean that fans can expect a light at the end of a very dark tunnel to shine on Kate and Maggie? If solicits for future issues of Batwoman are to be believed, it might not be advisable to hold ones breath.

While it’s true that this doesn’t necessarily prove that there was any underlying homophobia with relation to the 86ed wedding of Kate and Maggie, it also doesn’t help add credence to DiDio’s insistence that there wasn’t.

At the same Baltimore convention, he emphasized the company’s support for their gay characters, “Name one other publisher out there who stands behind their gay characters the way we do.” Mr. DiDio, let’s get you introduced to Marvel Comics. Have the two of you met? Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men #51 might be a great place to start getting acquainted.





Cloning Around: To Hound Nature in Her Wanderings.

31 05 2014

Orphan-Black-S02E06-promo-image-2Welcome to “Cloning Around”, your weekly recap source for BBC America’s (Space sci-fi/drama, Orphan Black. If your search for “swan man” has taken over all of your spare time, jog your memory with regards to the previous episode.

Click here to visit Geeks OUT for the full article.








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