For Now. . .

Hey folks!

I have to apologize for holding off on the Wednesday Reviews and Classic Comic Friday feature this week because I’ve been busy putting my writing skills to other uses.

I have vacation time coming up next week, where I am killing my router and working on, well, work. I love to write, and I have spent too much time not writing on what I want to accomplish. Given I never really take holidays from work, this is absolutely rare and valuable time for me. I will be taking the next week off from both my real job and this blog. I will be hopefully finishing a story I’ve been working on this past year. Of course, I will make it known to the world about my progress made on my week back, plus a new feature, and probably some other mumbo-jumbo I can come up with. I have been writing a lot this past week, getting ahead of myself for my upcoming vacation, so unfortunately, I’ve lacked entirely on this blog. Forgiveness, please!

DoomWar

But I can still touch upon a bit of what I read from this week – just not as full-blown and in-depth as my reviews in the past have been. From my pull-list, this week had conclusions to two major storylines – those both being Shadowland and Taskmaster. I also picked up Generation Hope #2, and randomly, Chaos War: God Squad (one-shot).

Aside from Taskmaster, the other three were quite lackluster. Most notably, Generation Hope. Taskmaster is probably one of the best mini’s I’ve read in years and it changes the Marvel U’s view on Taskmaster ENTIRELY. By the end, you’ll either be crying, or feeling sadness towards Taskmaster. Mr. Van Lente wrote an incredible story for this character, and I’m sad to see it end.

Generation Hope is dwindling down to nothing. I mean, Cyclops character is not consistent to how he’s been in the past few years. He seems very nervous, always. Hope, on the other hand, is trying to be the hero of the team, but her constant fumbles in the story really makes her weak – especially being the title character. Although Kieron Gillen is joining Uncanny shortly and hopefully giving it a breath of fresh air, I really hope Fraction keeps him in check.

Chaos War: God Squad was an interesting take on the heroes during Chaos War. If you haven’t read DoomWar recently, you probably should just to get a feel of who the Wakanda spirit is and understand how she plays out in the story. Although there was not much progress made in this one-shot, it still brought a bunch of characters together to tell an interesting story. It was a good divide from the constant panic within the parent story.

And with the conclusion of Shadowland, Marvel pretty much just hit the reset button on Daredevil. That’s okay, though! It was doine pretty tastefully, but in all honesty, it somewhat made Shadowland a bit unnecessary. I mean, it did not affect the rest of the Marvel U at all, aside from the Daredevil title. Arguably, it did sell-out every issue, going into multiple reprints, but as for other mini’s this year, such as Siege or Second Coming, Shadowland was very lackluster after the first issue. *Spoiler* Although I’m glad Bullseye did NOT come back. Thank god.

So until next week, I shall be back with some reviews, features, and maybe some neat snippets from what I’ve been working on. Who knows!

Until then, keep on Space Truckin’!

Classic Comic Fridays: Daredevil #181

Happy two-month anniversary to my blog! It’s been fun so far. I’ve had over 1,100 views – all showing me that people actually want to read about comics. Who knew?

As for today, every Friday, I will yank out an old comic from my personal collection and review the crap out of it. So why not do something epic?

This week, I am going to review one of the greatest Marvel stories, Daredevil #181, from April of 1982. Also, I will be bringing up the Marvel’s current Shadowland story arc. If you do not want to read spoilers, stop reading here.

Daredevil181

The story was done by legendary writer and artist Frank Miller – guilty of making Daredevil ridiculously popular, while also teaming up with Chris Claremont to create the awfully popular Wolverine limited series. One day I’ll review that here, too.

Colours, inks and some finishing art was done by Klaus Janson, arguably a great artist with little credit given to him – especially noted with his run on Daredevil here.

This double-sized issue of Daredevil features a showdown by two of Marvel’s greats – Elektra and Bullseye, with the subtitle, “One wins. One dies.” Needless to say, this story would easily draw any reader in even if it was to just look at the conclusion.

In case you haven’t heard, Elektra is the one who dies (sorry, folks). But that’s not nearly the part of the story that gets me excited. It is entirely on the build-up.

The story begins with Bullseye in jail – Daredevil having him put there. He’s suffering from headaches, requiring the guards to give him pills to stop the pain. While in jail, he pushes himself to workout and plot his revenge, and while in a courtyard, he runs into Frank Castle, the Punisher who also is in jail, and says that the Kingpin has replaced Bullseye for another assassin. Soon after, Bullseye is put on television for an interview about his murders. While having another headache, the guard gives him another pill which Bullseye promptly spits in the guards eye, allowing Bullseye to jump free, hold hostages, and eventually escape through a helicopter. Brilliant.

While off to find the hired assassin, he runs into some thugs, telling him that the assassin Elektra is hired to kill Daredevil’s lawyer partner, Foggy Nelson. Recognizing that Dardevil could possibly be Matt Murdock, he follows Elektra as she hunts for Foggy.

Elektra runs into Foggy, and shortly after, Foggy recognizes Elektra as Matt Murdock’s old girlfriend. Sensing Bullseye nearby however, she allows him to escape and waits for Bullseye to show himself.

DeathofElektra

The two begin a monumental battle with cuts and bruises on both sides. Miller’s beautiful artwork shows both combatants nearly at an equal match – each using the environment to pull of fighting moves. The colours of red and blue splash on the page with the two fighting to their death. Trapping Elektra in a corner, Bullseye pulls an ace of spades and whips it at Elektra’s neck. She fumbles, loses her sai, and is prompted by Bullseye to be stabbed in the chest. Crawling back to Murdock’s house, Elektra dies on his footsteps.

Back at the Kingpin’s, Bullseye tells the Kingpin that he has found out Matt Murdock’s secret identity. After some convincing, Bullseye is sent off to murder Murdock.

Planning the second assassination, Daredevil places a dummy Matt in the house, forcing Bullseye to be fooled about Murdock’s real identity. Daredevil appears behind Bullseye, and the two battle it out for the exciting showdown. Falling off a building, Daredevil catches Bullseye and listens to him plead for his life. Daredevil thinks otherwise and refuses to let Bullseye kill again – dropping him to his death.

Murdock goes to Elektra’s grave site to mourn, while the final page shows Bullseye in the hospital with broken bones – plotting his revenge.

When I first picked up this book, I had no idea what would actually happen. I mean, I knew that Elektra would die, but I never would have figured Daredevil for a murderer at the time. It was out of character for Daredevil – but that is what’s best about the comic. It is not a traditional story for Daredevil.

Miller’s change of attitude for Daredevil opened up doors for the character which were never explored before. The rage and revenge Daredevil had towards Bullseye overshadowed his own morals and beliefs. It truly changed the character all together.

The dark tones with sinister themes and little dialogue with the characters really pushed the story to become an iconic issue for both Daredevil and Marvel. I have to say both story and art are not separated as two individual items for they are one in the same with Miller’s work.

Oops

For me, this also is one of my first comics I’ve read where the villain was the primary character. Most of the focus was on Bullseye and part of me always wanted to see more of his sadistic self run rampant. Fortunately, I did get that much later on, thanks to the Dark Avengers. But none of that would have started had Miller not written such a brilliant story.

Grade: 10/10

Of course, the idea of Daredevil being a true hero remained the same. That is, until the Dark Reign. Norman Osborn tried to have Bullseye finally kill Daredevil once and for all, but it ended with Bullseye leveling a apartment, killing hundreds of innocent people. Snapping from allowing Bullseye to get away with so many deaths for so many years, Murdock became tied up with The Hand and in Shadowland #1, his dark side appeared. As you can see, Bullseye had what was coming to him.

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Body Image in Comics

As I’m sure you have read, I did a blog post a few weeks back about women in comics. Actually, it was entitled “Women in Comics.” Go figure.

This time, I wanted to sort of tackle that subject again. I was completely unaware how much attention it would take on as that blog remains my highest-viewed blog at this time.

What I want to discuss in this blog is what the title suggests: Body Images in Comics.

But why?

I have read comics my entire life. I watched television shows based on comics. I have seen movies based on comics. Through them, I have seen heroes use their strength to help the defenseless. I’ve seen the weak preyed upon and defeated by good. By all means, comics are reflections of good versus evil. They are a comment on our society and its laws. They comment on what happens in the world. They stand out to say something which others can not. In a way, comics are parallel to our real world and a way to open discussion for real world events.

Some basic examples is the Marvel Civil War story arc, Spider-Man’s “great power comes great responsibility,” Batman’s struggle of a dual identity, X-Men’s fight against racism, the Avengers constant struggle for good, etc. There’s thousands of ideals people can pull out from comics.

But there is one idea that is arguably neglected. Comics show off wrong body images for their readers. And I do not mean, “the Hulk is an impossible body image to replicate.” Keep on reading.

UXM532

People can read comics and take away great values from them. Yet when it comes down to basic hypocrisy, comics take the cake. (And me too, unfortunately for reading and supporting them.)

If arguably, comics are to reflect how we are as a society, then we all must be ashamed of ourselves for what people are in comics are: the impossible. I’m also not talking about super powers and crazy nonsensical time-traveling plot points.

Disasters of examples

As I have mentioned (and probably could go on about it for decades, I’m sure), is the impracticality of Emma Frost. As you may already know, I am a huge fan of the X-Men and X-related comics. I read everything available from them. In one of the most recent X-Comics (X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1), Emma Frost is in a beauty salon getting herself all prettied-up when Mandrill shows up and tries to seduce women to go out with him.

Emma steps in and states that women are not to be seen just for sex and gives Mandrill a run for his money. The whole irony is that Frost is at a salon – starting off in the story naked – no doubt. Obviously there is a huge contrast to Frost’s hypocrisy in the story, but it is not focused on.

Taking a look at Emma Frost above in the cover of Uncanny X-Men #532 (to be released in a few months). Now, I’ll take a look into Emma Frost inside The Marvel Comics Encyclopedia (2006, pg. 104). Emma’s height is 5’10”, and her weight at 125 lbs. To quote Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar, “Yeah. In your bra.” Admittedly, those “facts” from the book are ludicrous.

Cable Deadpool

Let’s take a look at Cable now. He’s probably a fan-favourite for most X-fans – heck – most comic fans love Cable. He’s just so awesome. Look at him! I mean, he’s not going to take crap from anyone! He’ll kick anyones butt! Alas, he’s also an impossible person. With all that gear on him, plus his physique, he has no problem running or walking, nor do I ever recall him getting exhausted from running with that gear on in the comics. Deadpool on the other hand has more definition to his body than a dictionary – where his body may be proportionate to his size, his muscles are only too-extreme for his physique and only weighing 210 lbs at a height of 6’2″ (2006, pg. 76).

I’m sure no one is going to turn to their significant other and say, “Look more like Emma Frost,” or “Beef up like Cable,” but these people are meant to be icons in a world where their stories are a vehicle for commentaries on the world. These characters are meant to be voices to the masses – whether it be to tell the story or to represent a message or value. Yet they are dwindled down to eye-candy or impracticality – arguably taking away any message the comics have. (And case-in-point with X-Men: To Serve and Protect #1).

But EVERYONE? Really?

Some comic characters are just fine with who they are. I mean, take a look at Dardevil below. He is in great shape for what he does, and it is not really exaggerated unless the artist wants to explode him with huge muscles. But traditionally, below is how everyone pictures Daredevil. Then there is Forge. He has never been considered a physically strong man and works primarily within sciences. As such, he has never been overly muscled for a male character.

ForgeDD

We can physically see a difference between the realistic views and the ridiculous ones. What I am trying to get at is that we as a society can recognize sex in ads and condemn them for being too racy. We like comics to be our voice over many issues, yet a lot of us sit back and get bombarded by hyper-sexualized characters within comic books and still may argue that it is fine.

It’s in real-life

For another case-in-point, let’s take another look at that cover with Emma Frost on it, followed by this ad from Jean Paul Gaultier apparently selling perfume. Is there really much difference between the two?

jpad      Frost

It is pretty crazy. Yet we’ll be the first to condemn that ad before we even think twice about the comic book, for the most part. And that’s just the comic cover.

But women aren’t the only gender sexualized in comics. (Given there’s only one other gender, I’ll leave it to you to guess who else is sexualized.)

ckad       Cap

And Captain America’s is someone to look up to. He is a hero by definition. Looking at the Calvin Klein ad, a “MAN” is defined as a parallel to how the model looks in the ad. The image is uncanny to Captain America, or even Superman.

Even as the years have progressed, what a “man” should look like has became more and more over-the-top. Let’s take a look at Michael Keaton in Batman from Tim Burton’s 1989 movie and compare it to Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight – Christopher Nolan’s 2008 epic. (You can click the pictures for a closer look on both.)

keaton      Bale

Note how Keaton on the left is less-defined than Bale on the right. The muscle mass between the two costumes are both ridiculous, yet the Bale costume becomes more-than-necessary.

Nipples

And sure, perhaps you do not recognize the subtle differences between the characters. Perhaps you do not care whether or not you can see George Clooney’s Batman nipples. Maybe you even think that I am over-exaggerating this too much.

All I see is a problem though. People love being superheroes or villains. People look up to Spider-Man and Wonder Woman as icons who will save the day. And yes, readers of comics look at stories not solely for their comments on real-world events, but also for the entertainment. I’m sure the characters are drawn the way they are because it also sells. Sex sells, so comics can too.

But do they have to?

Unfortunate conclusions

Golgotha

I mean, we can have great stories without hyper-sexualized characters. I doubt X-Men would have a lesser fan-base if Emma Frost wore a parka for the entire run. Oh wait, she tried in X-Men #166 from 2005, and it totally defeats what I just suggested. She’s saying, “Chilly, isn’t it?” (It took me a long time to remember which issue this was in).

Do we need comics to be like this? No. Do we want comics like this? Some of us do, probably, yes.

But ultimately what do these characters serve the way they are? A hypocrisy in our thinking? Is it sexual deviancy? Is it a degradation of our society? Does it objectify people? Does sexuality make the characters more prominent? Does it matter what the superheroes are wearing?

Maybe all of the above or none of the above.

The fact is that it is still there. Where the world in comics is a parallel to our own real world, perhaps their physical perfection is simply a mimicry of our fallacies as a society.

Maybe their falseness is a contrast to our reality?

I also know I’m not alone in these feelings. Two blogs I read regularly will often times bring up the idiocy of comics when it comes to the portrayal of body image.

Check out 1979 Semi-Finalist and ComicBookGrrl on their takes on how comics are depicting of people.

Also, don’t forget to sound-off below.

Until then, have some more food for thought and keep an eye on your kids for them, okee dokes?

‘Nuff said.