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.





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.





Actions Speak Louder Than Printed Words.

9 08 2013

If we have learned one thing from Orson Scott Card’s vocal bigotry against the LGBT community and the “Skip Ender’s Game” campaign (as launched by GeeksOUT), it is that a creator’s actions outside the scope of the work they are doing can, and WILL, effect said work regardless of the quality or merit of the finished product. From what I am told, Ender’s Game is quite a fantastic piece of literature and judging by the names attached to the cinematic adaptation, it stands to reason that the film will be quite a sci-fi spectacle as well. Thanks to Card’s deplorable, dehumanizing, and very public attitude towards a segment of the population, I won’t be shelling out my hard-earned gay money to help line his pockets.

With that being said, at what point do we, as a niche market (the LGBT community being an even smaller niche within that niche), separate the art from the artist? Is it even possible to do so when the artist chooses to squawk his reprehensible opinions in a manner such as Card’s? Representatives from Lionsgate Entertainment as well as members of the cast and production have stated that the film “should be judged on its message, not the personal beliefs of the author” and that Card’s views are “completely irrelevant” to the film adaptation.

My apologies to everyone involved in the production of Ender’s Game, but that is far easier said than done. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, however despicable they may be, there are always consequences to airing them out like so much dirty laundry and, unfortunately for Mr. Card and Lionsgate, they are seeing this firsthand.  

Separate the art from the artist. Sorry, it can’t be done… not completely… not 100%.

Meeting Gail Simone at Emerald City Comic Con 2013

Gail Simone at Emerald City Comic Con 2013

It’s a two-way street, however. For every one Orson Scott Card who has been shamed for his unpopular opinions and less-than-respectable character, there are plenty of artists who not only respect but appreciate their fans for their support. They are humble and excited to meet and talk with you. They are Marjorie Liu at Comicopia, Gail Simone at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Marc and Bridget Silvestri playing with Will’s kids at Niagara Falls Comic Con, and Phil Jimenez excitedly joking about a Roulette/Danielle Moonstar miniseries involving a Las Vegas casino, a stripper pole, and free-flowing alcohol. 

These are the artists who will benefit from a fan’s inability to completely separate the art from the artist. These are the writers who will the focal points of stories that begin with “Remember how awesome it was to meet so-and-so?” and they are the creators whose new book might sell an extra copy to a fan they gave a hug to at a signing. 

Orson Scott Card will undoubtedly be playing the victim angle for the foreseeable future, especially if the box office sales for Ender’s Game are as low as his respect for cultural diversity. He would do well to remember that this PR catastrophe was his own doing and he is the cause for his art’s suffering. 

Like it or not, there is no undoing the connection between the art and the artist. Not only is that fine with me as a consumer but I am sure it is also fine with all those writers, pencillers, inkers, colorists, etc. whose wonderful personalities and character help their art flourish and succeed. And to those artists, we thank you… wholeheartedly.





The Geeks Take Manhattan.

23 10 2012

A little over a week has passed since my first experience at NYCC (New York Comic Con to those of you that are not in the know) and very little has been able to calm the buzz that I still get when I flip through the photographs that document the epic weekend. Not only was it my first NYCC but it was also my first comic con in general. I suppose it was a “go big or go home” type of scenario. A regular sink or swim kind of deal.

An overnight drive from Buffalo to New York City kicked things off. Will behind the wheel and me dozing on and off in the passenger seat. Long car rides (along with short ones and everything in between) bring out my narcoleptic tendencies. Stopping at an unattended gas station in Deliverance-land led to my commenting about how the horror movies of yore always began with the kids from the city getting lost in the sticks and pulling over at the dilapidated gas station for help before finding themselves strung up on meat hooks in a redneck’s basement.

Breakfast was had at the McDonald’s on the corner of W. 34th and 10th Ave. There was a parking lot. It’s seems a rarity to find any place in Manhattan that has its own parking lot. We had a schedule to adhere to so the hotcakes and coffee were devoured promptly before marching down to the Javits Center for Day One of the convention. The time was about 5am.

To say that the first day was an overwhelming whirlwind would be an understatement. Maneuvering through a sea of Adventure Time, Bane, Harley Quinn, and (female) Loki cosplayers would bring us face-to-face with some of the most respected names in comic books from both the present and the past. Chris Claremont’s face with it’s proud and nostalgic smile as he would thumb through an old issue of New Mutants and comment about the scandal that Emma Frost’s less-than-there wardrobe caused. Kieron Gillen drawing a sad-face of Leah on the cover of Journey Into Mystery #641. Posing for a quick photo-op with Clay Mann (he may or may not need to slap us with a restraining order). Halting the queue to catch up with Marjorie Liu (who we previously befriended in Boston) and make tentative coffee date plans for the near future.  “We were worried you were going to be a dick.” is what we said to Rick Remender because we were worried he was going to be a dick. He laughed and wasn’t at all a dick. Cosplayers. So many cosplayers on that first day. Robin and Raven. Kitty Pryde and Lockheed. Emma Frost and Wanda Maximoff. She-Ra.

I suppose it would be criminal to leave out the fact that the day ended with a Carrie Fisher meet-and-greet.

Fatigue, bruised shoulders, aching lower backs, and hunger followed us back to our hostel in Chelsea where we agreed  that we would concentrate moreso on “just having fun” during Day 2 instead of slowly killing ourselves in order to get as many books signed as we possibly could. We would parrot our declaration of “just having fun” over the course of Day 2 whenever frustration would begin to set in. But first, sleep… sweet, sweet, luxurious sleep.

Sleeping through the alarm led to a mad dash back to the Javits Center the next morning. Thankfully Day 2 was about “just having fun.” Chuck Palahniuk was our first stop that morning. Gracious, friendly, and very willing to give advice about the best way to go about reigniting my desire to start writing again. A more creative day for cosplayers, it seemed. Selene. Lady Deathstrike. Marrow. Jubilee, X-23, and Pixie. Even the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a Little Sister from Bioshock. Northstar was sketched in my Astonishing X-Men trade by current cover artist for Marjorie Liu’s run, Phil Noto. Another visit to Clay Mann (see: restraining order) where he sketched Destiny, Mystique’s deceased lover, on a comic book backing board. Clay’s X-Men Legacy tie-in issues to Necrosha centered on her brief return from the dead. During the “Gay Marriage in Comics” panel, I would be branded the “guy with the beard and hipster glasses” when posing a question regarding the future of gay characters being portrayed as anything but “safe” and the “good guys.” Chuck Palahniuk, during his panel, would read a new short story, Boogeyman, before hurling plastic, severed limbs into the audience (autographed, of course).

“Just having fun” on Day 2 still led to extreme exhaustion. A quiet take-out dinner on the High Line would follow the day’s events. Will and I enjoying eachother’s company and a view of 8th Ave. below.

Day 3. Last Day. No sleeping through alarms. Our big goals for that day were a meet-and-greet with Grant Morrison and sketches by Phil Jimenez… ok, and getting as many of our remaining books signed as possible. The hour-long queue to meet Mr. Morrison was worth the wait. We had the chance to discuss some of the elements omitted from the finished product of Final Crisis. A very friendly man, that Mr. Morrison. Return visits to Chris Claremont, Peter David, and a handful of others would provide opportunities to stretch our legs while we waited 3 hours (give or take a minute or two) for Phil Jimenez. An incredible artist who was providing work at no charge made the wait something I will do again for years to come. As he sketched Tarot of The Hellions for me, Phil mentioned that he loved the character and he originally pitched the idea of a Hellions ongoing to Marvel back in the day. 

Not even a missed flight home could dampen the natural high I was on (and it didn’t) as we ventured back to Boston at the conclusion of the day. It was a weekend of incredible experiences and realized opportunities. These are the memories that will be bagged, boarded, and added to my collection to revisit again and again. Appreciating in value, no doubt.

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