Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

She-Hulk and Sex

One of the things I want to do here in terms of content - or whatever we're calling it - is to explore more of the female heroes in comics and other kinds of storytelling. Lisa Paitz Spindler has a really cool feature on her blog called Danger Gal Friday, and - with apologies to her - I want to do something similar here. I'm not going to commit to a weekly feature, but I'd like to profile some of the great heroines.

In addition to that, there are a few women characters - mainly in comics - with whom I'm so in love that I'll need more than a single profile piece to do justice to them. Wonder Woman is one of those. She-Hulk is another. I don't know She-Hulk very well yet, I just know that she's very cool, has a great look, and seems to be one of the most interesting characters Marvel has going for them. Plus, there's the whole Hulk connection and the Hulk is also awesome.

So consider this my first attempt of many at trying to dig into her a little bit to see what makes her tick. I want to start by looking at an aspect of her that gets a ton of attention, and was in fact one of the first things I noticed about her when I recently started picking up her comic during the "World Without a Hulk" storyline. She-Hulk likes to have sex with lots of different people.

I don't have any historical background on this yet, so I don't know when it became a part of her character. Dan Slott touched on it a lot during his run, but I remember the X-Men comics that Chuck Austen wrote where she slept with Juggernaut. Slott later explained that event away so that it never happened, but my point is that sex's being a large part of She-Hulk's character (relative to other superheroes anyway) predates Slott.

As with any aspect of a character that becomes predominant, I'm interested in tracking down the history of how she came to be portrayed this way. But I'm also interested in the discussion that's sprung up around the issue.

In a sort of exit interview to his run, Slott talked about the Juggernaut and why he wrote that out of She-Hulk's story. "She would sleep with everyone else besides Juggernaut," he said. And it wasn't long in the discussion of that interview before that part of her became a major topic. One commentor wrote that Slott "started the book off with She-Hulk getting kicked out of Avengers Mansion for dragging home her 'party boys'" and "continued to make her the Paris Hilton of the Marvel universe by having her sleep with Tony Stark."

When another reader asked why "She-Hulk is so loose," one reply was that she's been "written as Very Uninhibited for decades," lending more weight to my theory that this predates Slott. After that, the thread goes back and forth for a bit between people who'd rather not know about superhero sex lives and those who don't see a problem with it. It's when this person chimes in that things become interesting:
As for She-Hulk sleeping around, who the **** cares? If people have fun by having a very stimulating sex life, good for them, I'm jealous. On the other hand it doesn't make sense that She-Hulk would be able to sleep around. She's likely the strongest woman in the Marvel Universe. How could she possibly avoid killing all her lovers? That bit was the reason that sleeping with the then-reformed and touchy-feely Juggernaut made sense to me. He'd be one of a very short list of options, which might have made her pretty desperate after a while, unless she finally managed to bag Hercules.
This person disagrees:
Clearly, She-Hulk CAN have sex with non-superhuman men and have them survive, because we know she already HAS. Wyatt Wingfoot, Tony Stark, Zapper Ridge, John Jameson, Mika, etc, are all non-superhuman men who have enjoyed (and survived) sex with She-Hulk.

The subject of possible injury HAS been raised on-panel though. John Jameson expressed concern about it in issue #2 of Dan's second volume of SHE-HULK.
It goes back and forth some more until She-Hulk's new writer Peter David gives his opinion:
I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to side with the "not a good idea" contingent. I think any normal man who would have sex with She-Hulk is courting disaster. I don't care how stiff your stiffy is: She-Hulk's vaginal muscles alone, if she were to orgasm, would be enough to earn you a trip to the E.R. ... Is it possible that She-Hulk can't reach climax? I suppose. That would explain her bed hopping: An ongoing quest to find a man who can send her to Happyland.
It's at that point right there that I want to stop thinking about it. A little before then, actually, but David makes an interesting point and from a storytelling standpoint, I like how he connects his speculation with her established pattern of behavior. I don't necessarily agree with his speculation, but I think it's cool that he figures out how to support it with evidence from past stories.

And the reason I don't agree with his speculation is completely subjective anyway. It's basically rooted in my not wanting to dwell on the scientific details, especially when "She-Hulk likes to have sex with a lot of different people" is by itself a perfectly reasonable explanation for her having sex with a lot of different people. It's fine to show her as someone who enjoys a lot of different partners; bringing her vaginal contractions into the discussion just weirds me out as a reader.

In other words, I'm really interested in a story about a woman who's having trouble making emotional connections and is trying to fill that emptiness with lots of different physical ones. I'm interested in rooting for her to discover the folly of that and to finally form an emotional attachment with someone who loves her too. That would be a really cool character arc for her. I'm not so interested in the story of one woman's pursuit of an orgasm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

God bless Steve Niles

Steve's writing the best Batman comic being published right now. Gotham After Midnight is a 12-issue mini-series that not only pits Batman against a creepy, new menace, but also against some of his classic villains who are mysteriously deviating from their standard methods of operation. It's super-fun and Kelley Jones is obviously having a great time drawing whatever insane things pop into his head. His Batman with the crazy-ass cape has never looked so awesome.

And then there's the most recent issue.



Okay, first of all, that title "The Malleable Menace" is awesome. But even better is the story that has Clayface learning to increase his size by absorbing more and more of Gotham's citizens. Eventually, he gets so big that there's no way Batman's going to be able to handle him the conventional way.

So of course Steve does the only rational thing and turns it into a giant robot vs. giant monster comic.



Ha! Look at Clayface's face! Issue #4 is going to be goooooood.

The Atlantis Journal: Captain Blood, Pirats, awesome submarines, and lots of mermaids

Pirate hotel



The entire Disneyland Hotel isn't pirate-themed, but the pool sure is. And they do have a Pirates of the Caribbean suite. This one guy stayed there and took lots of pictures and a video. It's a little more Late Henry Morgan than Jack Sparrow, but you can't fault them for making it swanky.

Captain Blood comic

SLG's doing a Captain Blood series starting next Spring.

Captain Blood movie

And by - as far as I know - sheer coincidence, Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games, The Quiet American, The Saint) is also working on a Captain Blood movie.

Pirat Tales

Day Taylor's found a home for his pirate-rodents comic at his old stomping grounds IDW. Congratulations, Dan!

Old diving suits and new subs



Upcool has an awesome gallery of antique diving suits and concept art for futuristic submarines. I had an awful time picking one image to post and I'm still not sure I got the best one. Prepare to have your imagination charged.

Agents of Atlas ongoing



There was a lot of cool news out of San Diego Comic Con last weekend, but easily the most exciting for me was that Jeff Parker's sea queen/killer robot/talking gorilla comic Agents of Atlas will soon become an ongoing series. Way to go, Marvel!

Parker talks more about it here.

Mermaid Lagoon: Tokyo DisneySea

AllEars.net has a nice pictorial of the Little Mermaid attraction at Tokyo DisneySea. It's designed for kids, but it also looks like a fun, cool place for adults to relax.

Mermaid towels



If I had a daughter, she'd have like twelve of these.

Real mermaid found in Malaysia

Pictures here. I know she's fake though, because...

Mermaids are actually mammals

And making them wear clothes is cruel. Science proves it!

Celebrity mermaid fan



Can you guess who's ankle that is? Hint: she played a mermaid in a movie. Sort of.

Adventureblog Theater: Sea Dogs

Really cool killer whale footage


Luna L98 from Chantelle Tucker on Vimeo.

Even better is this one where she's playing with a dog.


Orca & Dog from Chantelle Tucker on Vimeo.

Speaking of dogs...

This is the best use of a Little Mermaid song I've ever seen.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Adventureblog Gallery: Merfolk and Sea Creatures

Mermaid



By Chris Crumley (who does a lot of cool underwater photography, by the way).

Another mermaid



Not really sure who the artist is, but I found it here.

Merman



By Captain America artist Steve Epting.

Creature from the Black Lagoon



By Schiani Ledo.

Sea Monster!



By Basil Wolverton.

Monday, July 28, 2008

An Announcement

I'm narrowing the focus of the blog. I've been thinking about it for a while and I think it's the right thing to do for four reasons:

1. You don't need another Star Wars blog.

Seriously, I keep seeing the same information and news all over the Internet and very often it pops up here too just because I think it's cool or whatever. You don't need me to tell you that John Favreau has been signed to direct Iron Man 2 or to link to Clone Wars and Spirit trailers or to say that Fringe looks exciting. There are a ton of sites that do that so much better than I do.

In fact, the only reason I've been doing it as long as I have is because I know there are some friends of mine who read my blog, but don't read the major entertainment news blogs. But the rest of you don't need that and besides, I just can't keep up with it anymore. Which leads me to my second reason.

2. I just can't keep up with it anymore.

Reading and filtering through a couple of hundred blog posts everyday is fun, but it's way time-consuming. I don't plan on dropping any of my reading, but not having to share every little tidbit that I find interesting is going to save me a lot of time that I could use writing my novel, following up on comics projects, or even just improving the content here. Narrowing my focus will limit the amount of link-blogging I do, and I think that's a good thing.

3. Less link-blogging means better content.

I hope it does anyway. I've got a folder full of ideas for honest-to-goodness articles I've been wanting to post, but keeping up with the links has been distracting me from that. And recently I read a couple of things from other Internet writers that have made that clear to me.

At the end of June, Tom Spurgeon questioned his own site-strategy and the amount of link-blogging he was doing. He was just thinking out loud and repented of it the next day, but while mulling it over he said something that hit home to me:
...I feel that link-blogging is becoming less and less valuable, more a way for people to fake content than provide a service.
While I'd never presume to tell Tom Spurgeon how to run his incredibly successful blog, he got me thinking about my own blogging and whether or not I'm "faking content." I certainly don't thing that all link-blogging is useless. My day isn't complete without going through both Tom's blog and Dirk Deppey's with a fine-toothed comb. But I don't think it's what I want Adventureblog to be.

And while I was considering that, Warren Ellis sent out one of his email newsletters that reminded me about this post with the following thoughts in it.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stand up now and say, okay, these are the post-curation years? The world does not need another linkblog. What is required, frankly, is what we’re supposed to call “content” these days. When I were a lad, back in the age of steam, we called this “original material.” Put another way: we like it when Cory and Xeni are the copy/paste editors for the internet, but we like it better when Cory writes a book and Xeni makes an episode of BoingBoingTV.

...And, frankly, no-one’s going to do a better job of being the internet’s copy/paste editors than the BB crew anyway. They have the time, they have the money, they have the setup, they have the audience and they have the momentum of nearly a decade in the job. Nobody needs another linkblog like that. There are already thousands of them. The job of curation is being taken care of. Look ahead.
I'm challenged by that. And while I doubt that reviews are exactly what Ellis had in mind, I'm not going to be able to improve by continuing to let linking eat up most of my time.

4. I'll be able to get out more.

Right now, when I read something nifty on someone else's blog, my initial instinct isn't to comment on it. It's to save the link so I can write about it later. I think it would be nicer to provide feedback directly on other people's blogs, so I'm going to try to do that more.

So, what's the focus going to be?

Like I said, I'm cutting out all the Star Wars and Star Trek stuff. In fact, I'm cutting out most of the scifi stuff altogether. There are a ton of great scifi blogs already covering that. I'll probably still geek out on some new TV show or movie enough that I'll want to talk about it, but I'll try to keep that to my Off Topic blog when that's the case.

What I want to keep talking about here are two things. One is sea adventure. That includes pirates, fish-people, Atlantis, mad scientists in submarines, sea monsters, all that stuff. I said earlier that I've really been drawn to that lately, but it's not just lately. Anyone who knows me knows what a sucker I am for this stuff and always have been. Especially pirates.

It also includes jungle islands filled with loin-cloth wearing heroes (male and female), lost cities, giant gorillas, and dinosaurs. That may not be what most people think of when they hear "sea adventure," but it's what I think about. So I'll keep talking about all that too.

The other thing I'm going to keep talking about could go by the hoity toity label "women in heroic fiction," but I prefer to call them Action Girls. Meaning nothing disrespectful by the use of the word "girl;" it just flows better and I don't think it's really a diminutive term anyway. Anyway, I'm far too fascinated by strong, heroic women to quit talking about them, so you'll still be hearing much more about Wonder Woman and Black Canary and the others than you want to.

(A third topic that's being grandfathered in is giant monsters and giant robots because Jason and I are still hard at work on Kill All Monsters! and it's a subject of interest. But I'm going to be more exclusive about which monster/robot links I post.)

Not that I'm cutting out the link-blogging cold turkey, you understand. As they relate to the topics of Sea Adventure and Action Girls, I'll still be sharing plenty of links (and art and videos). It's just that in cutting out everything else, I hope to be able to write more "original material" about those topics, in the form of both blog essays and my novel.

So, hopefully everyone's down with the new direction. I really think it's going to make this place more fun.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Adventureblog Gallery: Giant robots and monsters, plus girls and kitties from space

Robot Girl



By Michelle Valigura.

Giant monster



By Tebe Interesno.

Spacemen



By Wally Wood.

Tales of Three Planets



By Roy G. Krenkel.

Space Quint



By Jess Hickman. And you can see a lot of other interpretations of Space Quint here. In addition to those by real artists, there's even one by me.

Adventureblog Theater: Groverfield

Awesome List: Primeval, boardgames, giant monsters and robots, spacemen, BSG, and Star Wars

Primeval



Dinosaurs invade the modern world. Coming soon to BBCAmerica.

Dust



Axis and Allies, if there had been giant robots and other alien tech available during WWII.

Speaking of boardgames...

Topless Robot rates the five best and worst boardgames based on movies. They forgot Star Wars: Escape from the Death Star though. Definitely should've been in the Best list.

Gigantic



Rick Remender and Eric Nguyen are coming out with a comic about giant robots, monsters, and consumer culture.

More giant robots vs. giant monsters

Robert Hood's got the dope on G. It features one of the coolest giant robot designs I've ever seen. And a giant monster using a couple of train cars as nunchuks.

Additional Laws of Robotics

Something Awful has discovered 27 more, less-famous Laws that Asimov came up with. Like this one:
23. A robot must shut up around girls and let me, Isaac Asimov, do the talking; however, a robot may bail me out if things start to go haywire.
Pulp Sci Fi work safety posters

I wish my work was cool enough to hang these around.

Buck Rogers Doll



It's a great-looking doll. I just don't know if it's $175 worth of great-looking.

Caprica trailer

Eric Stoltz almost makes me want to watch the otherwise lame-looking soap opera Caprica. Think I'll just pop in Some Kind of Wonderful again instead.

And as long as we're talking about Battlestar Galactica spin-offs I'm not interested in

TokyoPop's got a BSG manga anthology coming out.

Okay, back to the Awesome...



Whatever eFx Collectibles is asking for this Ralph McQuarrie version Vader helmet, it'll be worth it.

You baked that? You're braver than I thought.



I'm hungry now.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Adventureblog Gallery: Magical

Hubba hubba



By WT Benda.

Castle



By Franklin Booth.

Totoro forest



By Jackson Sze. And there's lots more just as wonderful by other artists too at the Totoro Forest Project.

Woodfolk



By J. Allen St. John?

Somebody's in trouble



By Sanjulian.

Adventureblog Theater: The Tale of Despereaux

I'm kind of excited about this. I liked the general idea and themes of the book better than I did its execution. It had charming characters and a strong message, but it kind of dragged in the middle. I'm hoping the movie's able to keep the positive aspects while improving on the pace. The trailer looks promising.

Awesome List: Harry Potter, Good Neighbors, and Conan

Half Blood Prince stills



/Film has nine photos from the next Harry Potter movie. Nothing spoilery; just enough to get you excited about seeing the characters again.

The Good Neighbors



I'm down with whatever Ted Naifeh wants to draw. I haven't read her books yet, but Holly Black seems to have a good head on her shoulders too.

Conan



They don't have an actor yet, but they sure have a cool poster.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Adventureblog Gallery: Monsters

Frankenstein's Monster



By Francis Manapul.



And by Frazetta.

Giant gorilla



Also by Frazetta.

Adventureblog Theater: The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom

Mr. P.B. Winterbottom is a villainous gentleman with a predilection for pies. Swiping the mysterious Cherry Chronoberry pie changed everything for our beloved Winterbottom… one bite made him more than an ordinary pie-grabbing humbug. That first taste changed him into something quite extraordinary, granting him the ability to break the rules of time. With these newfound time recording tricks up his cufflink, and with the help of his time clones, Winterbottom can now snatch pies with the greatest of ease. But on his journey to devour every pie, Winterbottom must mind the signs… the perils of being unstuck in time.
Sound like fun.

Awesome List: Incredibles comics, Casanova movie, Masterpiece Mystery, Holmes films, Dracula vs. Evil, Wolf Man remake, and more

Incredibles (and other Pixar) comics



Boom! Studios just announced today that they're going to be making comics based on Pixar properties like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. and WALL-E. Most exciting though is that someone finally wised up and decided to do an Incredibles comic. I've been wanting one of those since the movie came out, but have been afraid that if one ever did come out that it wouldn't live up to expectations. With Mark Waid writing it though, I don't think that's going to be a problem.

The art above isn't from the upcoming comic, though how cool would Mignola covers be on an Incredibles comic? Almost as cool as Darwyn Cooke covers, which are what we're actually getting. It's like Christmastime!

Casanova movie

Congratulations to Matt Fraction who's sold the film rights to his truly awesome spy comic.

More on that Indy DVD cover



I didn't really understand what it was when I linked to that cool-looking DVD case before, but fortunately someone left a comment pointing me in the right direction. Here's an in-depth review of it. Apparently it's a $50 Blockbuster item, though I imagine that we'll be able to pick them up a lot cheaper at the end of the summer.

Masterpiece Mystery



I've kind of lost interest in Masterpiece Theater since they finished the Jane Austen marathon. Kind of lost interest in Jane too. Oh, well.

But I'm starting to get interested again thanks to their summer plans for Masterpiece Mystery. Looks like they're getting rid of some detectives I've never heard of and are replacing them with Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander. I've never heard of Kurt Wallander, but I love Branagh, so I'm in for that.

Holmes movies



Know what else I'm up for? Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes in that Guy Ritchie version we talked about.

I'm not nearly as excited about Sacha Baron Cohen as Holmes (and Will Ferrell as Watson) in a Judd Apatow comedy. It's not that I think humor is an inappropriate approach to Holmes - Without a Clue is awesome - it's just that I'm going to need convincing that this will actually be funny.

I Want to Believe

Here's a cool interview with Chris Carter about the new X-Files movie that only increases my hope that it's going to be really good. He also talks about possible plans (and a date) for a third X-Files film.

The Dracula Horror Series

Christopher Mills turns us on to a series that sounds way cooler than its title suggests.
A wheelchair-bound scientist and his Puerto Rican ex-New York cop assistant travel to Transylvania, where they revive Count Dracula with the intention of using the Lord of Vampires as their agent in a war against evil. They figure to control the Count by surgically placing a mechanical implant into Dracula's chest that, should the fiend defy them, will drive a sliver of wood into his heart. The scientist has an implant of his own – if his heart should stop beating, it will send a signal to activate Dracula's.

They succeed, and over the course of the series Dracula is pitted against giant vampire bats, voodoo masters, satanic cults, Elizabeth Bathory(!) and other forces of evil, while constantly scheming to free himself and take his revenge upon the crazy crime fighters.
It's out of print, but you can find copies on Amazon.

IHG Award nominees

The International Horror Guild has announced the nominees for best works of 2007. I always discover at least a couple of good books thanks to this list every year. Nice to see Ben Templesmith's Wormwood nominated for Illustrated Narrative. I've got Shaun Tan's The Arrival sitting in my reading pile too. Need to get to that.

Mike Mignola's cover to his and Christopher Golden's Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire is also very cool.

Wolf Man



Empire has the first still from the upcoming Wolf Man remake and it looks encouraging.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Adventureblog Gallery: Wonder Woman and Zatanna

Wonder Woman



By Schiani Ledo.



And by Gene Gonzales.

Zatanna



By Jason Palmer.

Awesome List: Wonder Woman, that naughty Black Canary, and how Countdown could have been good

Animated Wonder Woman movie



That's the cover for the animated Wonder Woman movie coming directly to DVD. The movie stars Keri Russell as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, Alfred Molina as Ares, Virginia Madsen as Hippolyta, and Rosario Dawson as Artemis.

This is hardcore



This fan knitted her own Wonder Woman costume for San Diego Comic-Con. And then she went and made an Invisible Plane purse to go with it. Rock on.

That filthy Black Canary


So you've probably heard about the group of insane people masquerading as Christians who totally over-reacted to the release of a $40, not-at-all-intended-for-children, collectors' Barbie dressed like Black Canary.

I wasn't planning on giving them any more attention than they've already gotten, but I really needed to call them crazy and stupid in public so I can move on.

Thankfully, they haven't discovered Tonner's $150 Black Canary. Nobody tell them, okay?



Now, if you're going to pick on Black Canary...

Pick on her for something she's actually done, like making really bad relationship choices. That's what Dorian did.



Twice.

Caleb too.

Ah, the JLA Satellite years. "Stupid and Ridiculous" or "Best Comics Ever"? I truly can't decide.

Maybe the JLA Satellite blog will help. Rob is reading them all so I don't have to.

Judd Winick leaving Green Arrow/Black Canary?

I haven't seen any confirmation on Rich Johnston's story that Judd Winick will be leaving Green Arrow/Black Canary after issue #14. Is it true?

Winick drove me away from Green Arrow back when he first took on the series, but I've really been enjoying his run since Black Canary joined the cast. And not just because I like her. I liked Green Arrow before Winick got a hold of him too. Except for this last couple of issues and the '90s X-Titles-inspired version of the League of Assassins, Winick's GA/BC stuff has been a crazy amount of fun.

Not that it would be heart-breaking to see Winick move on, depending on who replaced him. Just saying that I wouldn't hate to see him stick around either. Johnston gave that story a "cautious" rating, so there may not even be anything to it.

Countdown could have been good

I've been trying to pretend that Countdown didn't happen and - even more tragically - that I didn't spend all that money on it. Even though towards the end I was just buying the issues that advanced the Mary Marvel plot, I feel like a complete sucker.

I've been trying not to blame Paul Dini because I really love everything else he's ever done. But Countdown was such a mess and I can't reconcile it with Dini's work on Detective Comics and Batman: The Animated Series.

Fortunately, Caleb helps me out by suggesting that "DC editorial forced large portions of the plot of Countdown upon Paul Dini and his fellow writers." He then goes on to imagine what Countdown might have been like if Dini had been allowed to do his usual thing:
What if Dini was just given a greenlight to do whatever the fuck he wanted, and we got a weekly about his favorite characters, another year-in-the-life-of-the-DCU series like 52, only with Dini's favorite characters (Harley, Poison Ivy, Zatanna) and perhaps those that his fellow writers knew best (Hawkman, Jonah Hex, the new Freedom Fighters, the Birds of Prey, the Teen Titans)?
Man, I woulda dug a series like that. And I also wouldn't have been so shy about Trinity, which I dropped after three "okay, but not awesome" issues. If it ends up being awesome later, I can always buy the collections.

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