Porcelain: What Is The Secret?

3 12 2014

From the bisexual Catman to the lady-loving bruisers, Scandal Savage and Knockout. Readers familiar with Gail Simone and/or her previous run on the villain-centric DC title, Secret Six, know that she is not one to shy away from diversity in her titles. Today’s long-awaited release of the New 52 iteration of the book looks to be as inclusive as its predecessor.

(L to R) Black Alice, Strix, and Porcelain

(L to R) Black Alice, Strix, and Porcelain

To sum up the first issue, we see a group of kidnapped villains waking up together in a windowless cell as part of some social/psychological experiment. None have any idea how they arrived in their present location or who brought them there. Among the deviants are familiar faces, Catman and Black Alice, as well as Batgirl’s deranged nemesis, Shauna Belzer (a.k.a. The Ventriloquist) and the Court of Owls assassin, Strix.

One of the new faces in this group is Kani (a.k.a. Porcelain) a metahuman whose power manifestation causes physical matter turn brittle. Physically speaking and in comparison to the gothic bombshell, Black Alice, Porcelain comes across as androgynous. This is further perpetuated by the fact that, on the cover of the first issue, Kani bears a striking resemblance to the legendary Miss Grace Jones.

Catman meets Porcelain

Catman meets Porcelain

In addition to the character’s striking physical appearance, readers are given quite an interesting exchange of dialog between Catman, Porcelain, and Big Shot (another captive). Catman addresses Porcelain as “mister” but this “error” is immediately corrected by Big Shot. Instead of confirming gender, Kani merely says, “Let’s not say things we can’t take back.”

Given what we know of Gail Simone, her consistent championing of LGBT inclusiveness, and the inclusion of Alysia Yeoh, a transgender character, in the pages of Batgirl, it is not beyond reason to wonder if Porcelain could be another transgender character or, perhaps more likely, a genderqueer character.

Whatever secrets and development unfold with regards to Porcelain, Secret Six will surely be chock full of character variety and fantastic storytelling.





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.





The Secret and Relatable Lives of Dorks.

3 10 2013

la-et-still-from-the-secret-lives-of-dorks-20130926A film that references Jason Todd being voted to death (Batman #427-428) by readers, Superboy-Prime “punching” people back to life, and the arguably d-list Marvel Comics character, Night Nurse?

Yes, my fellow dorks, such a majestic thing exists!

This past weekend, Buffalo’s Amherst Theatre held a one-night-only screening of The Secret Lives of Dorks, a high school social outcast comedy penned by Western New York native, Nicholas Brandt.

While some of the “dork”-related references may leap (tall buildings in a single bound… sorry, I had to) over the heads of general audience members, the common plight amongst several of the characters shouldn’t. Those awkward first moments during courtship and the nightmarish scenarios that you fear would play out during a first date are something that all of us can relate to, both teenagers and adults alike.

Granted, most of us haven’t been completely mortified by farting and accidentally feeling up a date in front of his/her parents, but to say that you didn’t fear some equally debasing moment would take place would be a blatant lie. While the bulk of dating misshaps befall the teenage Payton (Gaelan Connell) and Samantha (Vanessa Marano a.k.a. Valerie Cherish’s step-daughter, Francesca), the adults are well-represented by Ms. Stewart (Jennifer Tilly) who relies on relationship advice from Mike Ditka’s self-help videos in order to woo Payton’s father and football aficionado, Bronko (Jim Belushi).

The Secret Lives of Dorks is smart, well-written, lighthearted, and witty. That, coupled with the relatability factor, make the film an overall fun and enjoyable experience. The movie poster states that “dorks are in right now.” It’s true… we are. We’re everywhere… and, in a way, everyone.





Editorial: The New World Order.

6 09 2013
BATWOMAN_25

Batwoman #25

The beautiful cover of the upcoming 25th issue of Batwoman (as drawn by J.H. Williams III) is just a little bit more ominous, if not foretelling, in light of yesterday’s news regarding the title’s creative team.

Twitter was ablaze since early yesterday morning with a barrage of furious tweets from comic book readers. The common denominator? A Batwoman hashtag. Thanks to a powerful combination of social media and the outrage of fans, DC Comics was about to experience a public relations nightmare… something that appears to be the latest trend from the publisher since the launch of The New 52.

To sum up the drama, editorial has once again driven a creative team to the point of abandoning the slowly sinking ship that is DC Comics. This time, the casualty was the creative team responsible for the monthly exploits of the fiery-haired socialite in a cowl, Kate Kane a.k.a. Batwoman. J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman released a joint statement regarding their voluntary departure from the Batwoman title in which they sited conflicts with editorial such as a demands to axe a planned origin story for Killer Croc and alter the planned ending for the current Batwoman vs. Batman arc.

Most notably, Williams and Blackman were also forbidden from ever depicting the wedding of Kate Kane and her long-time partner, Maggie Sawyer, on panel. While DC claims that this decision was not homophobic in nature, one has to wonder if they even bothered to consider how the prohibition of a wedding between two lesbian characters, regardless of the reason, would translate to readers… especially readers from the LGBT community.  

Many comic book marriages have been dissolved in the past (Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Clark Kent and Lois Lane). Publishers usually chalk it up to the fact that marriage can often stump a character’s growth and limit future storytelling. This explanation could easily be applied to the Kate/Maggie wedding debacle. However, gay and lesbian fans were bound to take this as a slight against homosexuality and rightfully so. Society is finally just starting to slowly come around to the acceptance of same-sex marriage. Up to this point, marginalization and discrimiation has been commonplace and, sadly, still expected.

untitled

Over the past year, we’ve seen Robert Liefeld walk away from The Savage Hawkman. James Robinson cut ties with the publisher in the midst of his work on Earth 2. Gail Simone was fired via email from the Batgirl title (she was subsequently rehired after the news went viral and caused a massive internet backlash). All were attributed to the heavy hand of editorial.

At what point did editorial stop concentrating on the quality of the product and making sure story continuity flowed properly? When did they decide to start dictating what to write to the actual writers?To demand revisions and rewrites How long before “Edited By:” appears on the cover of each book in bold lettering and twice the font size as that used to designate the artists and writers… the actual talent behind the title?

Williams has stood by Batwoman since her days on Detective Comics. He soldiered on when Greg Rucka left the book in the wake of the launch ofThe New 52. It’s truly tragic that a man so talented and with such a passion for this character was given no other option than to bid farewell.