Netflix’s Daredevil, Episode 1: Perry Mason, but like, cooler.

I’m writing this while watching, so everything is my first, unadulterated impression.

The origin of Daredevil:  I’ve always been pretty squeamish about eyes and losing my sight, so the opening action with young Matthew was effective on me.  The way it was shot struck a bit of similarity to There Will Be Blood, when young HW loses his hearing in an explosion, so it’s clear that there is a lot of cinematic influence in the show, which I personally like.

Matthew’s convo with the priest:  I’ll be honest, most of this bit went over my head.  It’s very early in the episode for what is essentially a monologue.  I understand that by the end, it’s a slow buildup to a fight scene, but very slow indeed.  I’m not a religious person in any sense, and am generally disinterested with religious protagonists (Ms. Marvel is an exception, though this can be attributed to the “novelty” of a Muslim female protagonist, that it was handled in an exceptionally realistic way, and that I’m just not terribly fond of Christianity/Catholicism).  I don’t think there’s anything really groundbreaking or controversial about putting religious content on television, but I don’t really know if this was Netflix’s or Marvel’s intention in the first place.  I guess my point is, put something in a religious setting, and I’m bound to zone out.

The First Fight: So we’ve got evil Russians trafficking women for some evil purpose, because we’ve got to have Daredevil fight someone.  Costume and setting were very Dexter, vigilante by the sea.  Seeing this scene, with the genuinely very cool action and choreographed fighting, made me even angrier about the Supergirl trailer (I mean, I’m like a feminist Hulk, I’M ALWAYS ANGRY), because Matthew gets to be a hero, first and foremost.  Then we’re introduced to his alternate persona.  Why does Kara have to long for normalcy before becoming a hero?  Why does she have to be domestic first?  I could go on for ages, but this is about Daredevil, not my personal problems.  Anyway, fight scene is cool.

Foggy: Oh boy.  Sidekick material.  Objectifies women.  Official proponent of one-liners.  Still forming an opinion.

Karen taking off her shirt in front of Matt: Yes, this was completely necessary to plot, character development, and themes of the story. Definitely.  Not fan service at all.

“We don’t say his name” Hmmm.  I have a feeling that this kind of storytelling is going to start sounding a lot like Harry Potter.  Also props to the writers for making the distinction between East Asian cultures.  Well done.

Madame Gao appears to be the only woman in the episode that is not in some kind of peril, and she’s an evil drug lord.  Meanwhile, Karen is having the worst week of her life, but resolves it by becoming Nelson and Murdock’s cleaning lady, for free.

The very end contrasts Matt punching out a punching bag in a gym with the various nefarious doings of the villainous crime ring.  The expendable people are dead, and Glasses Guy gets to drive off in a limo.

Overall, I’m uncertain if I would continue to watch the series.  I understand that the pilot of any show is not necessarily indicative of the actual tone of the show, but at the same time, I’m not very engaged with the characters.  I give it a 7/10.

 

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Comic Store Review: Brave New World Comics

BNW is a community-focused comic book shop in the Santa Clarita Valley. They are equal parts comics retailer, fandom merchandizer, and event hoster.

Location: BNW is in Old Town Newhall, a part of Santa Clarita with old style architecture, thrift stores, Mexican cafes, and an overall vibe of small town culture. BNW, by comparison, is the comics shop of the younger generation. Newhall is very residential, so they get a good amount of traffic.

Atmosphere: Made of a single large room with an open loft, BNW is very inviting and spacious. The front of the room is mainly fandom merch, both official and fan-created. This includes figurines, shirts, hats, buttons, key chains, aprons, bow ties, and more. The back portion is walls of comics. The space is brightly lit and very clean, giving it a shiny and new appearance.

Collection: They have lots of comics. There are some older comics (one can purchase a $5 brick of vintage comics), but there is much more of an emphasis on new comics. The staff are very knowledgeable about their stock, and can give a plot summary for most comics I asked them about. They also have a good amount of shelf space dedicated to independent comics.

Overall: This is the shop to go to for new comics. They are very savvy and up to date, and focused on getting their customers the newest issues. It isn’t as good for the vintage collector. It’s also a good starting place for a TV fandom person who wants to get into comics, as there is a lot of overlap in the content of the store. It’s a great place for young people to hang out and share their interests.

Supergirl Trailer: Nice Try

So I’m sure we’ve all seen the trailing for the next female-led TV show:

  • Youthful woman is a fish out of water in a big city
  • *obligatory shot of her taking on the phone while carrying coffee an bumping into people*
  • Fresh meat at some indeterminate publishing company
  • Isn’t taken seriously until she realizes she can do Great Things

SNL LITERALLY just made a skit with black widow about this. I am tired of my superheroes being romcom’d. I know they wanted to Clark Kent-ify her as much as possible, but we’re left with a protagonist whose main characteristics are being ditzy, clumsy, weepy.

And the bit about using “girl” in her title. Sorry, “girl” is inherently infantilizing. It would have been better to skip over an explanation of the name instead of trying to make some point about why it’s okay. They’ve just drawn attention to it.

The Flash, Green Arrow, every male superhero on TV, gets to be badass from the start. Why does my female superhero have to earn it?

My Superhero: Go-Go Girl

Go-Go Girl, transported from the secret superhero discotheques of the 1970’s, is here to save the day, in high heels no less!

All Belinda Malloy ever wanted to be was a Rockette.  She thought she had every attribute–impeccable rhythm, hyper-flexibility, and unnatural endurance.  In her dance classes in the 1960’s of the Bronx, she beat out every single one of her classmates in technique.  But on that fateful day of tryouts, she discovered her only downfall: Every Rockette must be between 5’6″ and 5’1012” tall, and she was a petite 5’4″.

Her dreams were crushed.

But let me back up a moment…

Superheroes were a known entity back then, but there were many mixed feelings about them.  Many liked to claim that they knew a superhero personally, their “super friend”, but just as many saw them as flamboyant showoffs.  Though truth be told, with powers comes not only great responsibility, but also great recklessness.  Superheroes started the biggest party scene in New York in 1970, and many underground dance clubs were superhero-only.

Belinda really did have a super friend, the Pink Flash, who encouraged her to take up a spot as a go-go dancer at one of the admittedly seedier super discos.  It wasn’t much, and it certainly wasn’t glamorous, but it meant she could dance.  She honed her already exceptional dancing skills, and became their top attraction.

One fateful night, she was chatting up a stranger at the bar.  He bought her a drink, she accepted, and that’s the last thing she could remember before waking up at night in central park in 2015, still dressed in her work costume: a purple vinyl miniskirt, a red and yellow sequined crop top, and thigh-high gold go-go heels.  She had a purse which on inspection contained identification concurrent with the year.

In her disorientation, she approached someone standing in the shadows.  Seeing her compromised state, they immediately stole her purse and ran.  But she could run faster.  She trailed him until she saw him enter a building outside of the park.  She sneaked inside to discover an entire host of burglar types, showing off their night’s spoils.  She leaped from above and into the fray, knocking them out one by one, never letting a single hit land on her.  The ruckus soon brought the sound of sirens, and the police entered the scene just in time to see her standing among the knocked down bodies of what had been one of the most hard-to-catch theft rings in the borough.

“Excellent work.  We thought all you supers had gone underground after all that unpleasantness in the 90’s.  Good to see some of you still working the beat.  And you are?”

And Belinda Malloy straightened her skirt, fluffed her hair, and with a final feeling of purpose declared, “I am Go-Go Girl.”

Superheros and Nuclear Threat Prospectus, and Annotated Bibliography

Tempest Lyle, ENG 495 SH

4/13/15

Research Problem: How had the threat of nuclear war influenced the superheroes of the era (1946-1962), and how are those characters still relevant historically? Do we have equivalents of those heroes in our contemporary stories, and hope do they reflect the threats posed against us today?

Assumptions: The superhero of the Cold War era was based in transformation, often due to radioactive exposure. Popular examples include The Hulk, Spiderman, Captain Atom and consequently Dr. Manhattan, and the Fantastic Four. The creation of physical power through nuclear power reflects the societal interest in this new form of energy, but also is capability of “going wrong” and causing irreparable damage.

Literature Review: Resources being used include (thus far): War, Politics and Superheroes (DiPaolo), Atomic Comics (Szasz), Comic Books and the Cold War (York and York), and Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men (Chambliss, Svitavsky, and Donaldson). Stories and characters being used as examples include The Hulk, Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, Captain Atom, and Dr Manhattan.

Research Questions: Is there consistency in how Cold War era superheroes are created and portrayed? How are their abilities and predicaments related to their current political and environmental issues? Do we have an equivalent in contemporary superhero stories? Have the same superheros evolved to fit our contemporary issues?

General Research Plan: My plan is to conduct a majority of book research, with additional reading of the comics characters I’m focusing on.


Chambliss, Julian C., William L. Svitavsky, and Thomas C. Donaldson. Ages of Heroes, Eras of Men: Superheroes and the American Experience. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2013. Print.

A collection of observational essays on the American experience as interpreted through superheroes over the decades, from the 1930’s to the present.  This book will be the basis of my groundwork and historical context.

Paolo, Marc Di. War, Politics and Superheroes: Ethics and Propaganda in Comics and Film. Jefferson, NC: McFarland &,, 2011. Print.

While also a historical overview, this text has a higher focus on political change and controversy, as interpreted through superhero comics and film.  This book will be the basis of the paper’s political and social context.

Szasz, Ferenc Morton. Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront the Nuclear World. Reno: U of Nevada, 2012. Print.

A blend of historical and political insights, this text is about the development of nuclear technology, with both its benefits and risks, and how the superhero reflects the public feelings towards it.  This text will be the heart of my paper’s subject matter.

York, Chris, and Rafiel York. Comic Books and the Cold War, 1946-1962: Essays on Graphic Treatment of Communism, the Code and Social Concerns. Print.

Historically, nuclear threat has been entwined with the history of the Cold War.  In order to fully cover the influence of nuclear development on the superheros of the era.  This text will give me a deeper understanding of the fears and prejudices of post WWII America and its military technology advancements, with regard to public media and fiction.


*gasp* Sometimes artists draw…!

There seemed to be a decent amount of shock (or at least uncomfortable silence) in our last class session, regarding Wonder Woman, feminism, and reconciliation with bondage imagery.  Wonder Woman is constantly being tied up, chained, and put in predicament bondage, and gleefully escapes every time.  It’s pretty blatant that the writer and artist were interested in the BDSM aesthetic.

But how?  How could respectable artists have such perverse interests that they include in their public art?  Turns out, it’s not only NOT unusual, it’s downright common.

Who else did it?  Joe Shuster, for starters.  Who drew, of all things, S&M porn.

secret identity

The story goes the he was down on his luck and drew what were essentially porno minicomics at drugstores on the cheap.

Who else? Dan Decarlo, artist for Archie.

betty stripper

DeCarlo did these pinups for magazines before he did Archie.  He was not in Shuster’s dire straits, though.  He made them for humor.

One more for the road:

Here are two images:

A painting by serious artist Claire Lyle

claire painting

And an smutty cartoon by DeviantArt user MintGreenMonster

blue_chibi_by_mint_green_monster-d81o1a1

Who happen to be the same person.

(subtle plug)

People like sexy things.  And people who can draw will probably, inevitably draw sexy things.  Whether it’s for some extra cash or just for the fun of it, it’s a harmless natural expression of our human desires.  Wonder Woman is just different in that her sexy bits were in a publicly read comic.  But as for the actual content, it’s not much different from what many artists do today–“haute artiste” by day, filthyfigments.com pornographer by night.