Doctor Who: The Time Of The Doctor

 Stephen Moffat‘s War On Christmas Women

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct...

The Doctor has changed appearance ten distinct times. These are the eleven faces of the Doctor. (Top) L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker (Middle) L-R: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann (Bottom) L-R: Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight the Christmas special of Doctor Who aired on BBC America at 9pm EST/8pm CST.  While all Doctor  Who Christmas specials are meant nowadays to be memorable, this one will be remembered as Matt Smith‘s last episode as the Doctor.  The episode starts off with of course the unrequitted love between the Doctor and his companion, Clara.  Clara invites the Doctor to Christmas dinner because she has made up an imaginary boyfriend.  The Doctor of course obliges, and Clara chooses to cook the turkey on the TARDIS.  While on the TARDIS, the Doctor runs into Tasha Lem, the Mother Superior and chief religious figure of the Church of Papal Mainframe.

Tasha Lem allows Clara and the Doctor to pass through her force field while they investigate a planet with possible Gallifreyan connections.  I don’t want to give away too many spoilers but I will say this, that like last year’s Christmas special, I could understand what was going on, unlike many other times during the Moffatt Era.  I remain a fan of Clara and I hope they make her character stronger.  I liked the way that the 11th Doctor died of old age before his regeneration, and there seem to be some real Star Trek like speculations when it comes to religion such as  “everyone enters the church naked.”  My biggest frustration with  the Moffatt Era continues to be his inability to write women, and much of the time, his portrayals are sexist.  At one point, there’s a disturbing scene where the Doctor kisses Tasha Lem without her consent, and when she confronts him about that fact, the Doctor dismisses her concerns with “humor.”

Much like Moffatt’s dismissal of having a woman Doctor Who (comparing a woman Doctor to a man “playing” the Queen), the Doctor seems not to care for the free will of women like Tasha Lem.  Rape culture dismisses arguments for consent with “she was asking for it.”  I can only hope , that with the new batch of regenerations, Moffatt will choose to make wiser writing choices, and take the sexism out of his story-telling.  As for Capaldi’s 12th/13th Doctor, I wish that they can go back to the Untamed Storm/ angry professor style of Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor. We shall see.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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#DuckDynasty, Evangelicalism and Reality Television as Bizarro World

Bizarro Logo, Man of Steel Style

Image provided by Wak Paper.

Last week, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson made racist comments, and not a single Evangelical Christian leader called him out on it. Not. One. They may have said, well, he might have been a little insensitive. Oh, well that’s implying that racial minorities are being overly sensitive. In a white supremacist culture, the marginalized are always going to be seen as the villains in the story. I have learned to accept this reality the hard way.

Phil Robertson, on the other hand, he’s a real hero. He’s standing up for his sound Christian beliefs. Yes this test for Evangelicals was very easy, as Fred Clark said, it was oh so easy. And evangelicals failed. Miserably. You want racial reconciliation? Challenge influential members of your bodies who have racist beliefs and are spreading them. Telling the truth is the first step to reconciliation, not holding onto lies and false myths of white supremacy.

But even more Bizarro than Phil Robertson’s racist comments was the idea that evangelicals now actually WANT US TO WATCH reality television. But just a few weeks ago, one of evangelicalism’s leaders, Dave Ramsey, condemned watching reality television as the seriously bad habits of lazy poor people. Or is it that evangelicals want us to only watch reality television with THEIR preferred religious superstars, white, conservative, and “truly American?”  Evangelicals had no problem with Sarah Palin having her own reality show before Dave Ramsey gave his advice.  The ads and lifestyles on the show certainly were not geared towards persons with lesser means.  What this all points to is that Evangelical leadership only finds reality television helpful, not if it includes ordinary citizens, but that it is the exclusive property of elite, millionaire, WASP leadership.

Bizarro and Mister Myxlplyx from Superman:The Animated Series

Image from DCAU Wikia

 

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h00die_R (Rod)

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Conclusion

Posted on November 19, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger. Check out part 18: Green Arrow. Check out part 19: the Flash. Check out part 20: Animal Man.

What were the final scores?

In order from least points to most, the scores were:

Iron Man: 1.0666666  points
Phantom Stranger: 3 points
John Constantine: 4 points
Hulk (Mr. Fixit): 4 points
Captain America: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Green Lantern: 4 points (1 bonus point)
Aquaman: 4.5 points
Luke Cage: 4.5 points
Black Canary: 4.5 points
Thor: 5 points
Wolverine: 5 points
Hulk (Smart Hulk): 5 points
Green Arrow: 5 points
Wonder Woman: 5.5 points
Batman: 5.5 points (1 bonus point)
Power Girl: 6 points
Static: 6.5 points
Spider-Man: 7 points
Hulk (Savage Hulk): 7 points
Animal Man: 7 points
Superman: 7 points (1 bonus point)
The Flash: 7.33 1/3 points (1 bonus point)

Before I comment, I want to make a critique of my methods. 

Justice League

Justice League (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First, my categories were too binary. There is a large difference, for example, between the worldview of Animal Man and the worldview of Luke Cage, but the binary “yes or no” did not leave much room for exploring that. In fact, I admit I fudged the numbers a bit by using decimals when that binary became too restrictive. If I were to revisit this series again, I would use a scale of some sort, not a yes/no.

Second, this list is nowhere near as diverse as I would have liked. While I did speak about race and gender to some degree, there remains a lack of diversity on my list. Given unlimited time and energy for this project, I should have included Cyborg, Steel, Storm, Black Panther, Falcon, Batgirl/Oracle, Supergirl, Katana, Black Lightning, Vibe, Stargirl, and others as representatives of minorites. But instead, I chose the representatives that I already had some affection for, and contrasted them with the more standard heroes of the Avengers and Justice League.

The "Heroic Age" roster of the Aveng...

The “Heroic Age” roster of the Avengers. Cover art for Avengers vol. 4, #12.1, by Bryan Hitch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Third, there are doubtless many other heroes that I could have reviewed that would have scored much higher than those represented here, and certainly there are heroes that are not represented that are fan-favorites of people very near and dear to me. To you folk, I apologize. I simply ran out of steam for the job, and people were already threatening to boycott Political Jesus if I continued, lol. So perhaps one day, I will give Blue Beetle, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Gambit, Nightwing, and Boris the Beat their due, but it won’t be today.

Conclusion:

Having said all that, I believe that I am in no shape to give a whole-hearted devotion to a super-hero the way I have done for Green Lantern in the past. In dissecting these heroes over the last few months, I have gained an appreciation for them beyond how they fit into my categories. Phantom Stranger and Constantine rated very low, but why do I enjoy reading them so much? Thor rated fairly high, but I have little desire to read his book monthly just because he did well on my list.

Still, there were a few heroes that really outshone the competition and made me appreciate who they are. Spider-Man and Superman are heroes that have always been in my periphery. I tend not to like more mainstream heroes. But I simply cannot deny that they represent the best of who we want to be. I am now committed to diving into their stories a bit more over the coming year. I was surprised Hulk rated so high, but Hulk has always been a favorite of mine, especially in his Savage (childlike) persona.

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, ...

Variant incentive cover for The Flash vol. 3, #1 (April 2010). Art by Tony Harris. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The true front-runner (no pun intended) however, is the Flash. He surprised me. I have been reading a lot of these heroes in preparation for this blog, but I was really struck by the Flash in a way that the others didn’t strike me. In particular, his boundless hope and his humanization of even his enemies, and unwillingness to settle for anything other than the best outcome was truly inspiring. And I don’t mind saying that this is coming at a great time for Flash fans, who have a TV show on the horizon, a great comic to follow, a whole slew of t-shirts to wear, and a new advocate on Political Jesus. The new Flash fan – ME!

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 19, the Flash

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 19, the Flash

Posted on November 19, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger. Check out part 18: Green Arrow.

Flash (Barry Allen)

Flash (Barry Allen) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Flash is no stranger to comics fans, and has been a staple of the medium long before his re-introduction signaled the dawn of the Silver Age of Comics in 1962. With a catchy name, a simple costume, and ability to run at super speeds, this “fastest man alive” has been capturing the imaginations of fans for a long time now. The Flash even had a short-lived TV show in the 80′s and is now poised to have another TV show coming up, already in the works for the CW.

Who is the Flash?

The Flash has had many incarnations, but the most popular and most well known is Barry Allen. Barry is a police forensic investigator. He works in a crime lab. One day, he was working on a case when lightning crashed into his lab, knocking over hyper-charged chemicals onto him. Ever after, he has had the power to run nearly as fast as he wants to and has devoted his life to doing good.

Is this character heroic? Resolutely. Barry always does the right thing. He is yet another example of the superhero who has all of the power to save others, but simply can’t seem to salvage his own social life or prevent disaster in his own sphere. Yet he never stops and always searches for ways to help those who can’t help themselves.  (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Well, I am really struggling to find what I want to say here. In one sense, since he works for the police department, he literally “represents” the powers. Yet, he is constantly subversive to those in power at his precinct. He also has shown that in those cased where the powers turn “evil,” he resists them with all his might. Yet, it can’t be denied that he has an overly optimistic view of the world, and that can lead him, right or wrong, to give the benefit of the doubt to others, even the powers. I’ll throw Flash a bone, but I can’t give a full point. (.33 1/3 points)

Does this character kill? No. In fact, he goes out his way NOT to. He is another one of those heroes that simply refuses to accept that killing someone is the only possible way to achieve a good. The Flash, probably more than any other hero, is committed to applying creativity to every problem and is always successful, or at least is willing to accept the consequences of not killing. And there have been consequences. (1 point)

Does this character have a spirituality? Flash really came into his own during that era where religion wasn’t talked about so much. So, he really hasn’t gotten into his own religious preferences much. While he is a consummate scientist, this does not automatically indicate that he is a strict materialist or agnostic. In fact, the evidence is scarce, but does indicate that Barry is, or was at least raised in, a Christian home, and holds at least a cultural grasp on those values. He has been seen in various incarnations getting married in Christian churches and throughout the years has never disparaged religion of any type. But, there is something else to consider. Flash’s powers have their source in what is called the Speed Force. The Speed Force has acted in the Flash’s comics as a sort of higher power/afterlife/universal truth for the Flash to philosophize against, and so surprisingly, the Flash’s comics are filled with a lot of spiritual questions and dialogue, but in the context of this supernatural phenomenon particular to the Flash. So yeah, I think that qualifies.
(1 point)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Absolutely. One of the Flash’s greatest strengths is that his stories are often easy for writers to pen. That is not to say that lazy writers can’t tell bad stories about Flash. Trust me, they can. But it is to say that his powerset, his relationship with his city and its people, and his rogues gallery are all top notch. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Yes. The Flash has always had a number of others that have shared the spotlight with him. his oft-sidekick Kid Flash is as much the hero of the book as Flash has been, his on/off romance with Iris West allows her to be her own woman as well as a love interest (point of note: Flash is currently dating Patty Spivot, a well-formed character who he works with). His rogues gallery, once again, is among the best in comics, probably only behind Batman and Spiderman, and they are all FULLY fleshed out characters in their own right, thanks to brilliant writers over the years. It isn’t just the writers, though. Flash’s penchant for hope and optimism allow these characters room to grow, as we will see below.  (1 point)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Yep. Just ask Sheldon Cooper.  (1 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Yes. Yes. This is the thing I like most about Flash. I cannot think of another hero that goes so far out of their way not only to  stop villains, not only to not kill them, but also to make every effort to try to redeem them. The Flash is always trying to humanize his rogues gallery, trying to see things from their perspective. He not only tries to help stop them from their crimes, but also tries to help them become better people. He knows them on a personal level. While Spider-Man might be funny as he beats down his foes, Flash is sympathetic, and has even been shown to visit his villains in jail, even reforming them on occasion to become good guys (Pied Piper). This is true gospel stuff, folks. The Flash cares about all things, and hopes for all good things.  (1 Point)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? The Flash’s powers make his stories amazing with potential. He can run so fast that he breaks the speed of light, making time-travel stories possible, if not always common. He often plays with physics and (Flash fact:) we often learn something about the world when he uses his powers in a specific way. Like I said above, even mediocre writers should be able to mine good stories out of his powers.  (1 point)

 

Verdict: 7.33 1/3 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Animal Man…

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 18, Green Arrow

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 18, Green Arrow

Posted on November 18, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static. Check out part 14: Black Canary. Check out part 15: Superman. Check out part 16: Thor. Check out part 17: the Phantom Stranger.

Green Arrow

Green Arrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Green Arrow has entered into what can only be described as his Golden Age. Ironic since he has been around since the 40′s. Green Arrow has been on a steady incline in popularity since the Justice League Unlimited cartoon in the 2000′s. He was featured heavily in Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon, and had a very influential run in the later seasons of Smallville. Now, he has his own TV show, and his comic is selling much better than it has in ages.

Who is the Green Arrow?

Oliver Queen is the rich heir to the Queen Corporate empire. He was a selfish playboy in every sense of the word until his luxury yacht was shipwrecked on a remote island. There, he came face to face with a criminal syndicate, and only survived by becoming extraordinarily deadly with a bow and arrow. After many years on the island, Ollie returned to his home city, determined to use his new skills and new outlook on life to better the lives of the downtrodden. Taking the name Green Arrow, as a nod to Robin Hood, he seeks to save those who can’t save themselves.

Is this character heroic? Yeah. he doesn’t have any powers, nor is he the most intelligent hero around, but he has lots of money and a willingness to put himself in harms way in order to do the right thing. He also gets beat up more than any other single hero out there. (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? In most of his incarnations, he fights against the powers, to a fault. In fact, there have been numerous times that he has given up all of his great wealth in order to show solidarity with the poor he sought to save. In his previous incarnation, his story seems to be progressing that way, but hasn’t been realized yet. Still, he is all about shunning his corporate duties to save the oppressed, so we will give him a pass here.  (1 point)

Does this character kill? Yeah. He has. Or does. Or will. But maybe not. Ollie’s relationship with killing is complicated. He doesn’t want to, but his power set is fairly specific, and it seems you can only shoot so many pointy things at people before someone dies. In the comics, he tries to mitigate that in various ways, like trick arrows, etc., but he has killed enough, and has been shown to go against his own “no killing” policy enough that I just can’t give him a point here.  (0 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? Well… not in the traditional sense, no. So no points. BUT, he is the most consistently evangelical superhero ever. He has been shown to be (in most of his incarnations) ultra-leftist/marxist/socialist in so far as he supports redistribution of wealth, fairness for everyone, a disdain for corporate and national interference in nearly any aspect of freedom or life, and he makes sure he can bring others along with him into this view. His current incarnation, as noted above, hasn’t yet been brought to this extreme, but careful readers will see the groundwork being laid.
(0 points)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Yes. Especially lately. As the comics world and the TV world merge, Green Arrow is becoming interesting again. He had fallen into the trap of becoming just a loudmouth hero that critiques everyone else. While that IS important, he really was losing his own narrative arc. Now, in the comics, he has a relatively clean slate and his story and growth arc are just beginning. And it is good. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Getting there. Diggle (from the show) has just been introduced into the comics, as has Moira Queen, his mother. Both of these are welcome additions. However, in the past, Ollie has had a lot of great supporting characters, too. Black Canary, Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow, and even Green Lantern have all been featured alongside Ollie, and he makes them shine just as brightly as he does.  (1 point)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Not really. (0 bonus points)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Yes, actually. While I don’t self-describe as a leftist, Marxist, or Communist, I can certainly understand what makes him want to. His understanding of corporate/national oppression and his desire to fight against it on behalf of racial/class-based minorities is awesome. He is the only superhero that seems to think and talk about real world issues in a relevant way that doesn’t seem like platitudes, but rather a call to action.    (1 Point)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Meh. He is a “poor” man’s Batman. He was created as such. A rich dude who used gadgets to fight crime with no powers. He was even introduced with an Arrow-car, an Arrow-cave, and a boy sidekick. His powers (trick arrows or not) are not what make him interesting. It is the reason he fights that is interesting. (0 points)

 

Verdict: 5 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of the Flash…

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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I Watched #Hellbound Before I Changed It to Buffy #btvs

Last night I was pretty bored and I needed to watching something while I did some fall cleaning. Lo, and behold, I decided to watch the documentary, Hellbound?, written and directed by Canadian Christian writer Kevin Miller. From all that I had heard and read, it was supposed to be a worthwhile film, and maybe someday I will go back and finish. But just not this year. The movie was fine, I could see the direction it was going: BIG NINE-ELEVEN TWO THOUSAND AND ONE DRAMA! The Phelps and their hate speech where 99.99999999% of the people living in the world are going to burn in hell for all eternity! Mark Driscoll implying anyone who disagreed with him was not manly enough and kind of queer. So NOT authoritarian! Liar and heretic Ray Comfort even had an appearance.

Nope none of these persons were problematic enough to trigger me into watching something else. Then, Miller first started making claims like all religions are about narrative, and story is ooooh so important to what it means to be human. It’s a familiar argument, one that Brian McLaren was writing about in the ’90′s. You see, there are a variety of Christianities. There’s the fundamentalists who claim to take the Bible “literally” but never seriously. And there are also Christians who read Scripture as literature and somewhat more seriously. While the latter sounds better, at least the BIG OLE SCARY fundies are honest and forthright about the implications of their beliefs.

Then, Hellbound started interviewing the likes of Wm Paul Young and Frank Schaeffer. Throughout his few minutes, Schaeffer repeatedly referred to Evangelicals as Pharisees. This claim went unchallenged, and given the lack of racial diversity in the film (it’s a Christian documentary, so not surprising given the “nature” of the business). Frantz Fanon argues in his Black Skin, White Masks that once you find an anti-Semite, there’s not an anti-Black antagonist far behind. Part of my path down the narrow road of anti-racism was taking a Jewish-Studies course that coincided with a Black Church studies class on Exodus. It was there that I first learned of how problematic loosely calling others Pharisees was. Jesus and Paul were Pharisees,

Cover of "Black Skin, White Masks"

Cover of Black Skin, White Masks

Pharisees were some of the very first Christians in Acts, but in liberal and conservative Christianity, people continue a willful ignorance of the history of antiSemitism and anti-Judaism. I’m sorry, but the Pharisees are not the villains you make them out to be. That’s why it’s no surprise when in liberal “Christian novels,” such as Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack, anti-Judaism goes unchecked.

 

English: Black Buffy the vampire slayer TV ser...

English: Black Buffy the vampire slayer TV series logo. High resolution, please remember to resize for use. {| cellspacing=”0″ style=”min-width:40em; color:#000; background:#ddd; border:1px solid #bbb; margin:.1em;” class=”layouttemplate” | style=”width:1.2em;height:1.2em;padding:.2em” | 20px |link=|center | style=”font-size:.85em; padding:.2em; vertical-align:middle” |This vector image was created with Inkscape. |} Buffy the vampire slayer.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I think that there is something that goes much deeper. At the heart of the problem is the notion of story. I have discussed on here before the problem of seeing everything as a story here before, as it relates to postcolonial criticism.

So last night, when I changed the show I was watching on Netflix to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I decided to watch the season 7 episode “Storyteller,” the story of Andrew who was shooting a documentary about Buffy, the slayer of vampires, and I found this relevant quote:

“Buffy: Stop! Stop telling stories. Life isn’t a story.
Andrew: Sorry. Sorry.
Buffy: Shut up. You always do this. You make everything into a story so no one’s responsible for anything because they’re just following a script.”- Storyteller, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 16.

This is exactly the problem with emergent dudebros. They do not have to take responsibility for the histories of biblical interpretations or practices there of. They can just call it “STORY” since it sounds so much nicer. No way should they be held accountable for the real, historical experiences of the oppressed because when it comes to the Grand Narrative, only an arbitrarily limited account provided by men from the majority culture.

Perhaps then this is why the story of the Hellmouth remains truer than that of Hellbound? .

h00die_R (Rod)

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A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 14, Black Canary

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 14, Black Canary

Posted on November 18, 2013 by 

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.Check out part 3: Wolverine. Check out part 4: Power Girl. Check out part 5: Aquaman. Check out part 6: Luke Cage. Check out part 7: Iron Man. Check out part 8: Spider-Man. Check out part 9: Wonder Woman. Check out part 10: John Constantine.Check out part 11: The Incredible Hulk. Check out part 12: Batman. Check out part 13: Static.

Black Canary

Black Canary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black Canary is still relatively unknown to most common folk, but has been a staple of DC comics since 1947. Although she has been part of the Justice League, Justice Society, Birds of Prey, and a number of other groups, I don’t believe Black Canary has ever been well received as the hero she is.

Who is Black Canary?

Originally, Dinah Drake was a hero in the early days of super hero comics. However, it was her daughter, Dinah Lance who eventually became the more popular and long lasting hero. The second Black Canary not only became of the world’s foremost martial artists, but also is possessed of a super human ability to emit supersonic sounds from her throat called her “canary cry.” While she was most often seen in the company of Green Arrow for a number of years, their on again/off again relationship has mostly been off lately, allowing Dinah to come into her own as a really powerful and respectable hero.

Is this character heroic? Yep. She has shown that not only is she the consummate  team player, but constantly goes out of her way to train young heroes and constantly strive to do the right thing. (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Well, as a vigilante, she works quite outside the law, and in fact in the most recent stories, she is shown to be wanted for some kind of crime. Given that she and Green Arrow have been so close for so long, it is also somewhat a safe bet that she can’t be too firmly on the side of the powers. (1 point)

Does this character kill? In the comics, Black Canary has been shown to prefer not to kill. Her most recent incarnation in the TV show Arrow, however, has been shown to have no problem with it. Still, this is about a comics hero, not a TV one, so we’ll go with no at this point.  (1 point)

Does this character have a spirituality? No. Black Canary is one of the few heroes that have been around for over 6 decades, and has never once discussed religion or spirituality. She has been respectful of other’s beliefs, but has been resolutely neutral regarding politics and spiritual things.
(0 points)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? Sometimes. Often, Black Canary can feel like she is more of a supporting character herself. She doesn’t have a solo book, and ion the past, has only had mini-series, never her own book. Which is a shame. As such, she is many times just there to further other’s stories, not her own, which doesn’t really have a dramatic arc of any kind that I can think of. (0 points)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? No and yes. She doesn’t have much of a supporting cast at all, at least that aren’t already established heroes. She is part of the Justice League and the Birds of Prey currently, but none of those are supporting her. Rather the opposite.  (0 points)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? none that I know of. (0 bonus point)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Not sure. Like I said earlier, she doesn’t really have an engaging story of her own, at least in her current incarnation. (.5 Point)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Very much so. She has been shown to be able to go up against Batman in terms of martial artistry, but also having her canary cry gives her the slightest edge when fighting other street-level villains. She really does come into her own when shown in these situations, and often gets a bit lost when with other super-humans, which can lead to interesting stories if done right.   (1 point)

Verdict: 4.5 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Superman…

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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If you meet an angel you should probably run #SPN #Supernatural

 

Castiel (Supernatural)

Castiel (Supernatural) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday, Candida Moss offered a brief but very excellent piece on the Daily Beast about angels and our cultural expectations. What really annoys me is that angels are 1) seen in very much anthropomorphic terms ala Touched By An Angel, 2) that angels are here for us, serving our self-centered needs, being non-disruptive to our day to day lives.

In stark contrast to this approach, one of my favorite television shows, Supernatural took a quite different perspective. In context, for the first three seasons, the only supernatural beings we encounter with the Winchester brothers are demons, zombies, werewolves, vampires, and werewolves for the most part. Season 4 changes everything, as the audience is introduced to angels who wear trenchcoats. Angels we learn have the ability to be more powerful than demons, but because of their “dickish” behavior, and bureaucratic infighting, chaos happens on a regular basis. Yes, angels do adopt meatsuits (human beings who volunteer to exist as shells for our angelic overlords, but the terror that the angels bring to Sam and Dean is something that goes against the grain of popular ideas concerning these celestial beings. Yes, Castiel announces himself as “an Angel of the Lord,” but “God has left the building” in the SPNuniverse so one must rightly ask, just which god are we referring to (if not the lost ancient gods of Greece who wound up lost in the American midwest!). The reason why Supernatural as a series is superior to our favorite cultural image of angels is that angels are portrayed as monstrosities for us to fear, similar to what we see in the Old Testament as Candida Moss pointed out.

“Then Gideon perceived that it was the angel of the Lord; and Gideon said, “Help me, Lord God! For I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” “- Judges 6:22, NRSV

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h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Why #Brony?: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: A Few Thoughts #MLPFIM

The Gospel of [cutie] Mark

I had decided to take a brief break from my series on White Supremacy (I still have 2 posts left) because I needed a breather. I needed an escape, but most of the shows on my DVR were just going to make me mad. I had also given up on South Park after a very troubling episode (I have my limits). So, I also needed a politically-conscious cartoon to fill the void left by Aaron McGruder‘s The Boondocks. So, two weeks ago, I began watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I had heard a lot of things: Bronies are the worst. Bronies aren’t real mean, this show is made for girls! After a few episodes, like the 3 or 4 that it took to get out of my comfort zone, I started to realize that I liked the show, and then, the 9th episode hit me like a truck. In Season 1 episode 9: “Bridle Gossip,” the ponies are hiding from a new (zebra) pony in town, Zecora. She comes from a strange culture, she dresses and looks funny. At the same time, the ponies are searching for a cure for themselves, because they believe this stranger has cursed them, and has everyone acting weird. Our protagonist for the show, the bookish Twilight Sparkle finds a book that may have the spells to cure her and her friends, but she dismisses it. In the end, Zecora uses that same book to help the ponies who weren’t cursed, but who had touched the leaves of “poison joke.” The lesson for this episode: don’t judge a book by its cover. Very rarely do we have live action shows have coherent, subversive discussions about race; it was a delightful surprise that in its first season, My Little Pony at the minimum had TWO such episodes.

The other episode I am referring to is Season 1 episode 21: “Over A Barrel,” about the group of earth [settler] ponies called the Apple-losons, who settle in the frontier and plant appletrees everywhere. When the workhorse pony AppleJack has deliver one such apple tree to her family members by train, the train is robbed by a herd of buffalo. It turns out the land belonged to the buffalo first. To lessen the hostility between the frontiersponies and the buffaloes, the fun-loving Pinky Pie plays a song about sharing and caring, which, of course, gets dismissed as the worst performance ever. In the end, the buffalo agree to share the land with the Apple-losons on the condition that the ponies share their apples with the buffalo, and there are roads that are paved for the buffalo to roam. Twilight Sparkle complained throughout the episode that no one was being reasonable (which I have a few questions about). Why should the First Nations, I mean Buffaloes, be made to be “reasonable” by the Colonizers, I mean settler Ponies’ standards. Do not the Buffalo have a reasonable right to be angry in the first place if they are being robbed? Is not just compensation based on the victims’ terms (the ending) the right thing to do to begin with? Rather than sugarcoat white settler histories in North America, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, just like Buffy The Vampire Slayer‘s season 4 episode, “Pangs,” has managed to problematize the aforementioned narratives.

On TumBlr, I briefly compared My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I believe I have only scratched the surface, and outside the feudal politics of Princess Celestia, I believe that MLP:FIM can be used as a tool to teach kids of all ages that Solidarity Is Magic!*

*I am indebted to Jason D. on facebook for the “Solidarity Is Magic” quote

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h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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The New #DCNation: #BewareTheBatman, Mister Terrific, and Wonder Woman

Image of Batman and Alfred staring at Michael Holt on their computer from Tumblr.

I was going to completely avoid

Beware the Batman

Beware the Batman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Beware The Batman, the new CGI animated series on Cartoon Network. Green Lantern and Young Justice were unjustly cancelled, and dagnabbit, I’m still bitter. Then, late this week I read about a new series of animated shorts with Wonder Woman that were to air during BTB, and I thought, okay okay, I shall watch! And watch it I did. I was thoroughly underwhelmed. Beware the Batman was okay, it wasn’t gonna  blow me away

Batman as he was depicted in Batman: The Anima...

Batman as he was depicted in Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1995) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Batman The Animated Series/Green Lantern The Animated Series magical with their pilots, but it wasn’t Marvel’s The Avengers Assemble bad. #sorrynotsorry.

Image of Mister Terrific provided by comic vine.

One of the best surprises of this episode, “Hunted” was the appearance of Michael Holt, who becomes Mister Terrific, the third smartest man in the world and one of my favorite DC Comics heroes! I am kind of hoping for a modified version of Batman’s The Outsiders to appear in this series, maybe with Mister Terrific replacing poor poor Jefferson Peirce /Black Lightning. Katana is already going to be a regular on the show. As long as Holt keeps appearing on the show, I’ll watch. I don’t think this was a 1-time thing, but I could be wrong.

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h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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