Out of Limbo: Strong Female Character Edition (Part II)

26 02 2014

tumblr_mptv40V8wP1sww0bwo1_1280The idea of a “rotating cast” is a concept that many comic book creators have set out to tackle but few have managed to accomplish successfully. For fans of “D-List” characters, a book that features a “rotating cast” is often one of the few opportunities for their favorite characters to make an appearance.  

Brian Wood’s (adjectiveless) X-Men has already undergone its first cast shakeup following the book’s first arc. Rogue and Kitty Pryde were traded out for Monet St. Croix and Karima Shapandar, the former Omega Sentinel. While these changes were likely editorially mandated, rather than decided upon by the writer, they still give hope to readers who would love to see some of the more underutilized X-Ladies tag in/out for some panel time.

We’ve already dug into the depths of “comic book limbo” and listed some wonderfully immoral ladies who could bring some additional firepower to the villainous Sisterhood. Now, let’s usher in some of the more heroic women back to the fold:

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Out of Limbo: Strong Female Character Edition

24 02 2014

imagelim-bo noun: 1) a realm housing countless demons of varying sizes, strengths, and intellects; also known as Otherworld. 2) a place or state of neglect or oblivion.

For comic book readers, the term “limbo” often calls to mind one or both of the aforementioned descriptions. In either case, it is a less than desirable place to end up. Just ask Illyana Rasputin or Amanda Sefton.

Fans of so-called “D-List” characters in the Marvel Universe are all-too familiar with the state of uncertainty that befalls some of their favorite heroes and villains once a writer has no more use for them. The best case scenario for these cast-offs is that another writer will have an affinity for the character and bring him/her into a future storyline. The worst case scenario is that they will end up as part of the body count in an upcoming Marvel crossover event.

Current (adjectiveless) X-Men scribe, Brian Wood, clearly has a soft spot for these neglected hasbeens. Cast members from the days of New X-Men: Academy X and Young X-Men have been included in his current run. Karima Shapandar and Sabra have also appeared regularly in the title.

Along with some long-forgotten heroes, Wood has also resurrected Selene Gallio and Madelyne Pryor and placed them among the ranks of the villainous Sisterhood. While their return is most welcome, it doesn’t begin to scrape the surface of MIA mutants who would make for interesting additions to this ragtag band of devious damsels. Below is a “who’s who?” listing of some grudge-bearing ladies that would fit in fabulously with the X-Men’s nemeses, the Sisterhood:

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Looking for Realism: Defending HBO’s “Looking”.

23 02 2014
(L to R) Murray Bartlett, Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Álvarez

(L to R) Murray Bartlett, Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Álvarez

If you’re not already familiar with HBO’s new series, Looking, I will assume one of two things about you… you’re either buried under a rock or you’re living a heterosexual lifestyle. I can’t judge you if you fall into the latter category. That’s your choice, afterall.

See what I did there? Sorry, I now digress…

Looking follows the lives of three gay friends in San Francisco as they search for love and their own identity in the City by the Bay. After five half-hour episodes, the show has received generally favorable reviews from critics who have praised both the unobnoxious use of humor and “authentic situations” that abound in the developing story.

Despite the overall critical acclaim, the show, itself, has proved polarizing with viewers. On one hand, you have folks who agree with critics the elements that make this series stand out from the pack of vapid television shows that have seemed to clog our airwaves over the past decade. The opposite end of the spectrum houses folks that have chosen to see the slow pace of the show as a negative aspect and even go so far as to frivilously whine about the lack of full frontal nudity and sex. If that latter complaint wasn’t shallow enough, some have even taken to denigrating the wardrobe choices of the main cast.

You don’t have to take my word as gospel. All one has to do is sign on to any number of gay blogs the morning after an episode airs to watch the lambasting comments unfurl.

To the viewers disparage the clothing, I am curious as to where you reside and if the gay community there is still trapped in the early 2000s. The Queer Eye laws of fashion that seemed to be etched into stone tablets during that time are not necessarily canon anymore. Areas like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, and Manhattan’s East Village are rife with gay men whose closets are stocked with vintage t-shirts, flannel button-downs, and skinny yet comfortable-looking jeans. They’re tattooed, bearded, and their look comes across as casual and effortless. If the wardrobe department of Looking was attempting to keep the authenticity regarding the physical appearance of San Francisco’s gay community, they hit the nail on the head. Sorry, nay-sayers, your argument for waxed bodies, manicured eyebrows, Prada loafers is invalid.

Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey

The disapproval of the way sex/nudity is handled on the show is worthy of nothing less than an eye-roll. The most common argument that has been tossed out on message boards is that other HBO shows, like Girls, don’t leave much up to the imagination when it comes to sex. This segment of viewers would do well with being reminded that just because two shows are on the same network, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they share any other similarities… or even SHOULD. Why should the merits of a television series rely so heavily on how hardcore the sex scenes are? With the episodes only being a half an hour long, we’ve still managed to see park cruising, a threesome, a bath house visit, a Grindr hookup. If you’re knickers are still in a twist over these scenes not being titillating enough, you may want to swap out this 30-minute time slot for another browse of XTube. It has all the uninhibited sex you could want without any of that pesky character development getting in the way.

With attention spans being as shot as they are today, “boring” and “slow” are other words that are thrown around when describing Looking. Apparently, there’s a segment of viewers who need over-the-top dramatics, toxic relationships, and insufferable characters on a television series in order to hold their attention. Looking is not Queer as Folk, Desperate Housewives, or any number of reality shows featuring wealthy (alleged) gold-diggers. The show doesn’t deal with a myriad of clichés that are often prevalent in any gay-themed visual medium (i.e. coming out of the closet, AIDS, etc.). It’s a show about a handful of men, who happen to be gay, living their lives. They go to work, they go on bad dates, and they spend time with friends. There’s no campy, dramatic crisis or standout villain. As monotonous and bland as that seems, that’s real life for a large segment of the community.

As much as many of us think we are as fabulous as Karen Walker or have lives that rival those of any random jet-setter, the truth is we don’t. The sooner that people realize that there’s nothing wrong with this fact, the sooner that shows like Looking will be appreciated for what they are instead of being eviscerated for what they aren’t.

 





The Bitches Are Back: Strong Female Character Edition.

17 02 2014
The Sisterhood (art by Terry and Rachel Dodson)

The Sisterhood (art by Terry and Rachel Dodson)

Here at Geeks OUT, it’s no secret that we adore our strong female characters. Hell, we even offer merchandise that proudly puts our devotion on display for all the world to see.

If television history tells us anything, it’s that the only thing we love more than powerful ladies, it would be their counterparts… the powerful WICKED ladies. Alexis Carrington. Sable Colby. Amanda Woodward. Kimberly Shaw. Katherine Wentworth. We love them. We hate them. We LOVE to HATE them. The same rule arguably applies to the comic book world and the current scribe of (adjectiveless) X-Men, Brian Wood, is pulling out all the stops to show these vixens the respect that they deserve.

The latest incarnation of the Sisterhood is about to add two of the most powerful adversaries that the X-Men have ever faced to their roster… and they’ve been known to do more than take over your company, snatch your man, or firebomb your apartment complex. Brace yourselves because the mutant psychic vampire, Selene, along with the deranged and corrupted clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor, are set to make their return to the Marvel universe in this week’s issue of X-Men.

Click here to visit Geeks OUT for the full article.