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Showing posts from February, 2008

... Behold Green Lantern's Light!

That's right folks! After reading Volume I of the Green Lantern/Arrow series, I am officially a fan. I remember seeing the John Stewart Green Lantern on the Justice League and always taking a liking to what he could do, but this is the first time the Emerald Hero really shined on me. What makes him so awesome is his source of power, the power ring. I just love how he is able to perform practically anything with the ring provided that he had enough concentration and the object is not yellow. I think the whole "yellow is not effected by the ring" is kind of bogus. I'm sure there must be a good reason, but I have yet to hear it.

Aside from the amazing power ring, I was really taken by the writing of the Green Lantern's story. (By the way, I don't really like Green Arrow. Sure, he may be "cooler" than the Green Lantern in his personality, but I know in a fight Green Arrow would stand no chance against the colossal might of Green Lantern's power ring.…

A new type of superhero, brought to us by Marvel...

As Marvel became an increasingly influential entity in the 60s, it was apparent that as a comic book company, it would really be creating a new dynamic both with its characters and its content. I'm actually really happy that Marvel went the route it did because without it, we really wouldn't have the very human and often somewhat dark/tortured personas (such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men) that just weren't present in the other superheroes of the time. They also adopted a much more personable and close connection with the readers, which really helped people identify with them in a personal way.

Despite the fact that these new heroes were also representative of the mood growing in the nation at the time, it really surprised me that the children of the 1960s, the same children who had always been pampered and hadn't ever had to toil as their parents had, were rebelling against the very systems that had created and nurtured them. I guess that no revolution is compl…

Cat woman

I have always believed Catwoman to be this fierce criminal and after reading batman last week I feel that she is kind of schitzophrenic.  I mean literally.  She has these series of times where she is a completely different person and yet has no recollection of what she did during that time, these are specific illness traits of a schitzophrenic.  Moreover, and on a more serious note, I believe that Catwoman turning to the good-side makes for a lame story.  I was very disappointed reading that she became good and was going to help Batman and Robin, she was always the most exciting villain and was such a weak excuse for a crime fighter that it was actually quite depressing.  She seemed much less powerful when she was good, she was captured and Batman and Robin had to save her.  Brining me to my next point of sexism.  Even this comic book portrays woman as being less capable.  Had it been an undercover male villain he most likely would not have been captured but because Catwoman is a woma…

Batman and mental illness

As we have watched Batman comics progress, we have seen the number of villians that have come out of the wood work. Some of the main villians are The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Two Face, Catwoman, ect. These villians all have something in common. They all suffer from some sort of mental illness. it seems that every villian that Batman has faced suffers from that. Lets look a little closer.
The Joker was dropped into a vat of chemicals and permenantley scared. He lost his mind and became Batman's ultimate first villian. He mostlikely suffers from some post partum depression and schizophrenia. he suffered a tramatizing event that has left him both physically and emtionally scared.
The Riddler was a scientist, very intelligent, who was somewhat enamored by Bruce Wayne and enjoyed experiementing and inventing things. We see in the late 90s version that he becomes to obsessed with his inventions that he loses his mind when Bruce Wayne thinks that they are too dangerous. He has seve…

Fight the man!

It is interesting how these past few classes and readings has shed a lot of light on what life was like for people our parents age. I always have known that the 60s was a period of rebellion, but I never considered why. As best as I understand it, the people who came back from WWII had tons of babies. When those babies grew up they rebelled (to an unprecedented scale) against the generation their parents had lived through. It may seem like common knowledge, but I also did not know the saying "If it feels good, do it!" was a product of the 60s.

As far as comic books are concerned, I am thrilled to see Spiderman succeed as a superhero. In a time of anti-war demonstrations and race riots it makes me feel good that our friendly neighborhood Spiperman was able to web-sling his way into the American psyche. I guess heroes like Spiderman, the X-Men, and the Hulk do reflect people in the 60s than they do more today. In my humble opinion the people from the 60s were lost individuals. …
It seems like everyone thinks that the idea of censoring comics in order to protect children is ridiculous.I think there are some pros and cons to this theory.First of all, one must ask the question of why comics should be censored.Do children think it is all right to do everything that is done in comics?Do kids really imitate the crimes and violence they observe in comics?If it is not the fault of the comics, what are the alternative sources of children’s violence?Next, one must assess why it would be good to censor comics.Or, why it might be harmful to children to censor comics.One might argue that it is bad to censor comics because comics do not sell as well and children won’t want to read them anymore.Another explanation might be that censoring comics might shield children from reality.I think that children must know the true reality of life, and should not be censored from it.However, from what I have read in Comic Book Nation, most of the suggested censorship did not display rea…

Comic Books and Video Games

Comic books were seen as entertainment for the youth. Many parents didnt see too many issues with their kids reading the adventure dime store books but as our society evolved, so did the characters and the stories that existed in comic books. Gruesome horror and gore were now being introduced, along with violence and crime. Parents began to worry that what their children were reading was somehow going to affect how their children acted in society. Today we have seen this type of concern with music, like that of Marlin Manson, and video games. Like the comics code, music and video game distributors are required to put stickers that indicate violence and adult content. This is something that prevents children from buying these products, without parental consent. Comic books were strongly censored because parents were becoming scared of their children and what they couldnt control. They felt that outside entities were going to turn their kids into criminals and violent offenders. They we…

If a woman makes you angry, just cut off her head! Or, why a little censorship is good.

So, I had no idea that there was such a backlash against comics in the 50s. I mean, I understand that pop culture ends up being the scapegoat in a lot of cases - that's nothing new. But wow, people actually believed that comics were a primary factor in the rise of violence among adolescents and children in the U.S. during that time? That comic books were making people hurt each other and themselves? It just sounds so ridiculous to me but then, it was probably a pretty disturbing issue when children were hurting (sometimes torturing) each other; maybe the alternative was just too difficult to face and it was the only suitable response.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about censorship as an overarching concept but, I have to say, after seeing some of the covers and panels from the horror comics of the Golden Age, I see why some people may have thought it was appropriate. At some point, when does innovation and "pushing the envelope" become completely senseless and grat…

Superman has robots…who knew?

In the comic "The Last Days of Superman” we read about a dying Superman seemed very hokey and so unrealistic. Superman has robots…who knew? Why would he need robots in the first place? Also, I thought Superman was a very American hero, mainly focused on the city, so why is he taking it upon himself to try and fix all of the world’s dangers? It seems rather impractical. I also love how Superman and Supergirl are not limited in anyway and seem to have endless powers- even effortless time travel. Also, if the Legion of Superheroes is from the future, why do they have to hurry? They certainly wouldn’t arrive too late. Brainiac 5 is the only character in the comic that seemed logical. It was rather ironic that he is the one questioned about his intentions, be they evil or otherwise. He followed my thoughts of developing a cure in the future and then going back in time. I was also unsure why, if Lana and Lois think Clark Kent is Superman, they don’t they ever try to date him. I thought…

The Wonderful World of Argument

During this week’s readings, I was most struck by the success of Wertham’s poorly written and researched anti-comic literature.I was shocked that Wertham had committed plagiarism, something we as students have been trained to see as a heinous crime.Furthermore, his sources were poorly researched in generally and very selectively referenced.In Comic Book Nation, Bradford W. Wright surmises that Wertham may have cited characters who were purposely villainous or bigoted as representative of the comics’ overall message.Also, the argument suggesting that comics led children to be more immoral and violent because of the material they contain has never really faded.In fact, it existed long before the comics themselves.Consider any instance of books being banned and/or burned.The most recent target of this argument seems to be video games, and the latest incarnation of Wertham is Jack Thompson.Fortunately, Thompson’s audience in general seem well aware of the gaps in his arguments and ultimat…

Bad influence in comics

Our discussions in the class this week focused on the negativity in which was found in comic books. America thought the violence of these comic books were turning their children into delinquents, but what the society in the 50's was not taking responsibility for was the fact that their children were being left without adult supervision especially in homes in which both parents were working. It seems that although show like Leave it to Beaver represented the ideal, they did not represent reality. Then such sources as Dr. Fredric Wertham who is comparable to Senator McCarthy and his witch hunt, finding anyone to blame for rising of crime by young people. He believed that children learned to "fight, torture victims, and conceal firearms" from comic books and also learned to take narcotics. This is a serious proclaim especially since the Comic Book industry wasn't as established then as it is now.

Atomic Power for all!

The readings this week, especially in Comic Book Nation, have been particularly fascinating. Of all the readings we have done the one that stays with me was the story of the failed comic series "Atoman." I appreciate the message of Atoman saying that atomic power is too dangerous to be owned by an individual, group, or nation of people, but rather it belongs to the entire world. It just grinds my gears knowing that Atoman was a commercial flop, lasting a embarrassing two issues. Why don't Americans like facing these global-crisis issues? Did the Americans back then not want to talk about the elephant in the room? Why were senseless, violent crime comics blockbusters selling well when comics like Atoman with profound messages did not?

However, I am pleased a more commercially successful comic, Captain Marvel, was able to get the message out there. Apparently in one issue Captain Marvel encounters a force more destructive than the atomic bomb -- the proton bomb! Interestin…

Wonder Women a product of Harvard?

William Marston went to Harvard? And received a Ph.D. in psychology? Wow, did he go on to become a world wide famous psychologist? No... In fact, what he is best known for was created one of the most famous heroic figures in American culture history -- Wonder Woman. Not only that, but Dr. Marston is credited for creating the lie detector, who knew? I suppose that explains Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth.  How come more people do not now about that? Even though that piece of information is not particularly useful outside of the realm of cool trivia, I think it is reason enough to legitimize this course. Or isn't it funny to notice how 90% of Wonder Woman's readers were males, when Wonder Woman was meant to be a hero for girls? (According to Chapter 2 of our book). Plus, I find it amazing the creator of Wonder Woman was happily married and was in a relationship with a different woman -- and they all lived under the same roof! If that's not enough, his children were named a…

Jews in the Progressive Era

Jake: How much for the little girl? The women? How much for the women?
Customer: What?
Jake: Your women. I want to buy your women. The little girl, your daughters. Sell them to me. Sell me your children!
So, before reading the article “The Unstable Other: Locating the Jew in Progressive-Era”, I had never before heard the Jews associated as blacks. To me, the racial differentiations had always been evident as skin tone, but the Jews and other immigrant groups being discriminated because of their different “races” all appeared white and European. It causes me to wonder how they became grouped on the “blacker” end of the racial hierarchy people believed in at the time. The article also mentioned how blacks and Jews were associated together because they both preferred to intermarry within their “race”. This doesn’t make much sense however, because I think most people prefer to be around and marry people that are similar to them, including white people.
I had also never heard of the associatio…

Wonder Woman

We have disscussed how Wonder Woman was created by a somewhat interesting creator. He kind of had a fedish, to put it bluntly. We disscussed how his target audience for his character, Wonder Woman, was actually young boys. This is most definitely true, for this comic book herion does seem to posse quality that young boys might find attractive. These qualitites include a very sexy and scandalous outfit, long dark hard, beautiful features, and a strength. She is also intelligent and does, what most characters never do, save the man. The female is normally always the victim in comic books yet Wonder Woman often finds herself fighting to save just the opposite. Since the beginning of comic books, women have always played the vicitim. They have always been captured by the enemy, lost down a cave, stranded somewhere or something of that nature, all resulting in the male superhero having to put himself on the line to save her. If there were more capable females in the story lines, such as Lo…

Marston and Wonder Woman

I found the background of Marston to be quiet interesting.  I loved that he was a famous psychologist who kind of randomly took up the idea of working on comic books.  I found his earlier history to be extremely cool, in that he came up with the idea for the lie detector.  Loved the random stories pertaining to this concept, such as that of the two friends who loved each other but were already engaged to other people whom the lie detector found they did not love.  Marston was extremely accomplished in his field, teaching at Radcliffe, Tuts, Columbia, NYU and the University of Southern California, it is shocking to me that he would leave this field to work in creating comic books.  Marston however made the correct decision as he ended up creating the first true super herione, or rather the first successful super herione as the book states another one named Olga Mesmer, the girl with the x-ray eyes was the first, but she did not achieve popularity.  
Marston did not abandon his psycholog…
We disscussed ideas about American values during the early 20th century and how the lose of the farmer and the frontier created uncertainty. The farmer/cowboy symbolized the brave adventurer as well as the sastainablity of values, because he is not a slave to money interests. He is the American dream, making his fortune with sweat and blood. This was a great oppotunity for incoming European immigrants to begin to displace Native Americans, instead of whites, as well as start a new life. Depression hit during the early 1900s and hard times fell on everyone. Heros were now the only source of inspiration. With the rise of Pulp Comics and heros that are larger than life, comes Superman and Batman. These heros were different and yet very similar to Americans, whice is why they became so loved. Superman is a larger than life character. He flies, is impervious to bullets, and comes from another place, much like the immigrants in the United States. He is a stranger and yet he makes it in this…

Pop Culture...

This is possibly extremely irrelevant to the rest of my post, but now that Marvel comics have been introduced in class, I figured I should just get this statement out of the way so I don't have to use up valuable class time: Marvel Comics is better than DC! There, I thought, I said (or wrote) it, and I meant it!

Now, why is it better? It's better because it focuses on more human issues than DC. The characters are so diverse, beyond just their powers, and while DC does tackle real issues, Marvel just does it better. No one is truly good in the Marvel universe, and no one is truly evil. Each character is human and complex and flawed, and I can't help but admire and relate to that.

Oh pop culture...

The last article we read with the discussion of "culture" and the "masses" was very interesting although I felt at times that it was more like an extended dictionary entry then anything. I did, however, like seeing where and how the words originated and thinking about their implications. It was especially interesting to consider how "mass" became associated with negativity initially and how in modern times it can be used to describe both a positive and negative grouping.

With the other articles, I was really surprised about how the entertainment industry was developing... Supposedly there was a lot of emphasis on maintaining a certain "moral standard" even as people moved away from their rugged, self-sufficient lifestyles but it's hard to understand this when there was so much prejudice mixed in too. There were so many ideas that were considered to be acceptable that are, by today's standards, quite racist and sexist. I think it's goo…

Arrogant sexist superman, defeats boring sexist villains.

I found the superman comic to be much different that I had originally thought of it. The Superman conveyed in the movies or the one I had always pictured was much more polite than the original Superman, who seems to be a bit arrogant.  An instant of his arrogance is perfectly depicted when he carries the governors assistant up the stairs to the governor because the assistant will not take him to the governor.  Superman therefore picks up the assistant and carries him to the bedroom of the governor.  Superman apparently does not take NO for an answer.  This idea becomes even more interesting when comparing Superman to his other self, of Clark Kent, who has no guts and is a pushover.  
I also noticed that the story-line seemed to change quiet a bit throughout the comic, there did not seem to be one main villain or evil plan that Superman must stop; instead there seems to be a series of different small events and stories within the one comic book.  There is the plot of Superman going to t…

What a superhero means to me?

In our latest readings by Coogan, the superhero genre is heavily assessed. We all have heuristics into which we believe superheroes actually are. Ok course Superman is one ofthe fist superheroes that I can indentify with, he has human hero strength and can fly. In his genre, Coogan describes the character of a superhero as “adolescent males who apply their strength to benefit their social groups”. As we see with Superman he helps those who are taken advantage of within in his middle-class society. The generic distincition has three elements are mission, powers, and indentiy, or MPI establish the core of the genre. But sometimes these heroes can exist who do not fully demonstrate these three elements,and heroes from other genres may exist who display all three elements to some degree but should not be regarded as superheroes.In class we went over the many different comic covers and the time and I was taken back at the stereotypes of these comics. We see Superheroes who are woman and th…