FAMILIAR CRIMES IN A STRANGE NEW WORLD IN JOHNSTON AND GREENWOOD’S ‘THE FUSE: THE RUSSIA SHIFT’ [REVIEW]
By John Parker
On its own, the police procedural doesn’t have that much traction within modern comics. In the early days of the medium — especially in newspaper strips — it was a different story, and straight-up police tales were among some of the most popular of the day. A little over a decade ago, though, everybody seemed to realize the potential to mix police procedurals with other genres, frequently to fantastic and award-winning results: Alan Moore and Gene Ha‘s Top Ten; Gotham Central, by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and others; and Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Those books realized the natural fit that cop stories had within superhero stories, and thus a sub-genre was born.
But there’s still plenty of room left for cop shows in comics, and over the last few years, the sci-fi procedural has definitely been in its ascendance. With Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood’s The Fuse, we have a new standard by which to judge all others.
When critics and reviewers say that a setting is as much a character as any other, we don’t really mean it, unless we’re talking about Danny the Street or Ego or something like that. Otherwise, it’s just a nice, catchy way of saying that the world is so fleshed-out, and the setting so fascinating, that we might be more interested in the surroundings than the protagonist, the villain, or the love interest. You could say the same about The Fuse and it wouldn’t be a slight against the characters: as enigmatic, interesting, and well-rounded as Detectives Ristovych and Dietrich are, the Fuse itself is the real star of the book.
WHERE ARE SUPERHERO COMICS’ BIG NAME BISEXUAL CHARACTERS?
It’s Celebrate Bisexuality Day today, also called Bisexual Visibility Day — a day to celebrate and promote recognition of those who are sexually attracted to people of more than one gender. The day exists because people with non-monosexual queer identities face unusual challenges in being recognized by both mainstream and queer cultures, yet visibility helps break down barriers and encourage acceptance.
In superhero comics, the problem of bisexual invisibility is as ingrained as anywhere; the medium struggles to acknowledge the existence of anything that didn’t exist in The Honeymooners or The Andy Griffith Show, unless it’s a space god, a shapeshifter, or a parasitic psychic monster. Having a character say, “I’m bisexual” is apparently more implausible than any of those things. There aresigns that the industry is changing in this regard — but slowly, and rather half-heartedly.
The recently announced return of Secret Six at DC Comics under writer Gail Simone and penciller Ken Lashley will allow Simone to follow through on a promise she made back around the time DC’s New 52 reboot. Simone told followers on Tumblr that next time she wrote one of the book’s lead characters, Catman — an old Batman villain turned anti-hero — she would establish his bisexuality.
After a three-year wait, Simone finally has her chance. By her own account it’s a promise she means to keep, and that’s a big deal. Catman will instantly become one of the highest profile bisexual characters in superhero comics. Though not a conventional hero, Catman is at least a dashing leading man, and it’s always important to establish that people with marginalized identities can fill any role in narrative, up to and including the hero roles usually reserved for cis-het white men.
Amazingly, Catman won’t be the only bisexual man leading his own superhero book when Secret Six hits the stands. He may even be the third. But here’s where we get into the usual fog that surrounds too many representations of bisexual identity in the media.
HIRE THIS WOMAN: WRITER GIULIE SPEZIANI
In the overwhelmingly male comic book industry, it has been a challenge for some editors and readers to see the ever growing number of talented women currently trying to make a name for themselves. With that in mind, ComicsAlliance offers Hire This Woman, a recurring feature designed for comics readers as well as editors and other professionals, where we shine the spotlight on a female comics pro on the ascendance. Some of these women will be at the very beginning of their careers, while others will be more experienced but not yet “household names.”
Writer Giulie Speziani has worked on a few different projects, including By The Slice and Golden Age with artist Cecilia Latella. You can see her in person this weekend at Long Beach Comic-Con on the Hire This Woman panel at 3:30pm on Sunday, September 28th, along with other past and future featured creators!
GOTHAM’S FINEST: NINE GREAT COMIC BOOKS ABOUT JIM GORDON AND THE GOTHAM CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT
By Chris Sims
This week marks the premiere of Gotham, the new Fox television show focusing on Jim Gordon’s first year as a cop in Batman’s hometown, and the origins of young Bruce Wayne and the people who will one day become the greatest enemies of his war on crime. That the show exists at all is a testament to how strong Jim Gordon and the rest of the Gotham city Police Department are as heroes in their own rights.
So if Gotham has you in the mood to read about Gordon, Harvey Bullock and the rest of the GCPD — or if you just want to dive into some solid Batman comics where the spotlight isn’t entirely on the Dark Knight — then I’ve got some suggestions for great comics about Gotham’s top cops!
FINALLY: ‘BEWARE THE BATMAN’ AND THE COMPLETE ‘YOUNG JUSTICE’ SEASON 1 COMING TO BLU-RAY
Based on the DC Comics superheroes, Beware the Batman and Young Justice are two examples of animated shows that haven’t exactly been treated well. Both Warner Bros. series were unceremoniously pulled from Cartoon Network, only to return to burn off episodes (in some cases, in the middle of the night).
Treatment like that would seemingly indicated little commitment to release the series on home video, but never fear, fans. Warner Archive announced this week that it will release the second part of Beware the Batman’s first season and the complete first season of Young Justice on Blu-Ray. Along with those, the company will also offer the full second season of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and the classic 1960s Aquaman animated series will be available through Warner Archive’s streaming service.
All the Blu-Rays will be available Sept. 30; the Aquaman cartoon is up and available for streaming right now.
FEAR AS A WAY OF LIFE: WHY WOMEN IN COMICS DON’T ‘JUST REPORT’ SEXUAL HARASSMENT
By Juliet Kahn
“If the harassment is so bad, why don’t women just report it?”
“I want to believe these women, but if they’re not willing to come forth and put their name to these accusations, I just can’t.”
“These claims of harassment are all so overblown. I never see it happening.”
I have been a woman in the comics industry for a few months now. It has been wonderful. It has also been terrifying.
Terrifying in a way I’m used to, though. When you grow up enveloped in the miasma of “tits or GTFO,” “attention whore,” and “fake geek girl,” fear becomes the price you pay to enjoy your hobbies. You don’t even think of it as fear most of the time.
Sometimes you join in the fear mongering yourself, enjoying the a**hole glamour of not being too pussy to call another girl a slut. Sometimes you hide in woman-heavy spaces, which go maligned elsewhere (“Tumblrinas!”) but do a pretty solid job of keeping you safe. The fear comes back eventually, though, as a slew of graphic rape threats or a simple joke about “feminazis” you are expected to chuckle along with. It might be in response to a screed worthy of Andrea Dworkin—or maybe you just tweeted something about disliking Guardians of the Galaxy. What matters is that you were a woman with an opinion on the internet, and now you must be punished. You must be made to fear.
Fear is also meant to keep us safe from sexual harassment, assault and abuse. We’re told not to stay out too late, not to go out alone, not to drink, not to lead anyone on, not to go home with anyone, not to ever feel safe in any situation that a man might take advantage of. If you fear the (implicitly common) worst from the men around you, you will escape it. When harassment, assault, and abuse take place anyway, fear is often a distinctly purposeful element of the encounter. Sometimes, this is subtle—it might take place in a deliberately secluded spot, or the perpetrator might be in a position of power over your future. Or, in the case of rape-and-death-threat style online harassment, the naked point of it might be to instill fear. After the harassment, assault, or abuse has taken place, it is fear that keeps women from speaking out. Fear of being branded the whiny bitch, of enduring the Anita Sarkeesian experience, or having one’s career torpedoed by a thousand nerds high on a lifetime’s worth of entitlement and vitriol.
Fear is what keeps us silent. Fear is what keeps men from understanding the ubiquity of these experiences. Fear is what keeps us from attaching a name to our allegations. Fear is what makes harassment, assault, and abuse a rite of passage for women in this industry and the world beyond. Fear, in this society, is what makes you a woman. And fear, in extinguishing discussion of its cruelties, keeps us from understanding its nature and better dismantling it.
‘PROJECT GREENLIGHT’ SHORT FILM ILLUSTRATES THE ARGUMENT AGAINST SEXIST SUPERHEROINE COSTUMES
Over the past few years, comics fans have been embroiled in a debate over the double standard that applies to superhero costumes. While men’s costumes are increasingly depicted as totally functional and conveying strength, women’s costumes remain what they’ve been for decades: skimpy, overtly sexualized, and all too often, anything but what would be practical for the purposes of patrolling the streets and fighting crime.
Filmmaker Luke Patton’s short film “Sexy Superhero” faces that debate head-on and makes something really funny out of it.
WHO RUN THE WORLD? GIRLS: NINE UNBEATABLE ALL-LADY JUSTICE LEAGUE LINE-UPS
If you spend as much time thinking about comics as I do, you probably find yourself creating hypothetical-based thought experiments about super-team line-ups and such. Usually I only share them with Chris Sims, who then goes on to turn them into an Ask Chris and get paid for my idea. [cough]
But a few weeks ago, I took to Twitter to ask people who they would recruit for an all-female, seven-member Justice League. The response at the time was great, with lots of interesting variation in potential team rosters, but then the idea got a bump again when artists started posting drawings of their ideal Justice Ladies teams on Twitter and Tumblr.
I’ve collected nine such line-ups, including my own and those of Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner, Kris Anka and more, which kicked everything off.
BEST COSPLAY EVER (THIS WEEK): SAVAGE LAND ROGUE, QUICKSILVER, FROZEN, BARBARELLA AND MORE
Compiled by Betty Felon
Although cosplay has been present for decades within the comics, anime, and sci-fi/fantasy fandoms, social media has played an integral role in the thriving communities of costuming that exist, such as Cosplay.com and the Superhero Costuming Forum. Over the years, the cosplay community has evolved into a creative outlet for many fans to establish and showcase some impressive feats of homemade disguise, craftsmanship, and sartorial superheroics at conventions. In honor of the caped crusaders of the convention scene, ComicsAlliance has created Best Cosplay Ever (This Week), an ongoing collection of some of the most impeccable, creative, and clever costumes that we’ve discovered and assembled into a super-showcase of pure fan-devoted talent.
THE X-MEN EPISODE GUIDE 5×06: BLOODLINES
By Chris Sims
The early ’90s were spoiled for choice when it came to comic book adaptations. Not only was Batman: The Animated Series on the air, but X-Men led Marvel’s push to get on the small screen, diving right into the often convoluted continuity of everyone’s favorite mutants, luring in a generation of fans, and paving the way for cartoons to follow. That’s why we’ve set out to review every single episode of the ’90s X-Men animated series.
This week, Jubilee actually compares the events of her life to a soap opera, just in case you didn’t get that before now.