Archive for Transgender Issues

Everyone Needs a Friend


Shutter #8

Kate Kristopher and her recently-discovered half-brother Chris have been captured by one of her other previously-unknown siblings, the vengeful Kalliyan, who takes them both to her home in Cambodia. Chris is making new friends, and he’s being treated a great deal better than Kate, who Kalliyan appears to blame for a lot of her misfortunes over the years. Meanwhile, Alarm Cat recently lost his head. He’s still functional, but he’s settling into a bout of serious depression. Can Chris help him recover?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It was all fine, but I found myself a lot more interested in the backstory of Alarm Cat (told through a bunch of excellently created comic strip knockoffs) and his struggles with the loss of his head.


Rat Queens Special: Braga #1

We get a story fully focused on the one-eyed orc princess Braga and her history — she started out as Broog, the son of an orc chieftan, and the mightiest orc warrior around. But he was less interested in battle and more in pushing orc society higher — and that meant education, less slavery, and a lot less war. But his father wasn’t happy with that, and his younger brother saw a way to advance his own cause. What finally pushed Broog out of his tribe and deprived him of the people he loved?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A very cool story and great art, along with an unexpected story about a character we never knew was transgender ’til now. There’s action and intrigue and humor and smart dialogue and characterization and even a little sex. Worth picking up if you love the Rat Queens characters.


Lazarus #14

Forever Carlyle has been sent to kidnap her traitorous brother Jonah from the diabolical Jakob Hock — and then to kill him, while making it look like Hock did the deed himself. But Forever isn’t so keen on blindly following every order her father gives her anymore. So she helps Jonah escape — in a desperately risky way that makes it look like he’s dead. But they’ve gotten away with it — everyone thinks Hock had Jonah killed. But Hock has his allies among the families, and he’s going to order one of their Lazarii to fight Forever to the death.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fantastic story and artwork, with lots of action, claustrophobic intrigue, devilish double-dealing. Jakob Hock is a desperately awful villain, and I hope he gets what’s coming to him.


Silver Surfer #8

Norrin gives Dawn Greenwood a chance to drive his board, and her entirely unpredictable surfing style accidentally leads them to a world the Surfer has never seen before — Newhaven, where the entire population is composed of the sole survivors of lost alien races — in fact, they’re all from worlds devoured by Galactus! And when they learn that Norrin is really the Silver Surfer, Herald of Galactus, they reveal to Dawn his history helping to slaughter entire worlds. Is this the end of their budding relationship? And is it the beginning of a new rampage by the Devourer of Worlds?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent story and art — though I do wonder how Dawn never managed to hear about who Galactus was…

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The Old and the Young


Astro City #18

It’s the beginning of a new storyarc focusing on Crackerjack and Quarrel. The occasion of the retirement of the Black Rapier just reminds everyone that a lot of the classic Astro City characters are getting up there in years. Quarrel and Crackerjack still go out there to fight crime, but a near-disaster against the new Chessmen leaves both of them exhausted, sore, and in dire need of downtime. And we also get the backstory of Quarrel — her childhood in rural Kentucky, looking up to her father, and never suspecting he was actually a supervillain — but eventually taking up his weapons and learning to use them to fight crime…

Verdict: Thumbs up. Not really the kind of story we expect to see in superhero comics, but if anyone would end up doing it well, it’d be Kurt Busiek and Astro City. It’s weird to think of characters like Quarrel, Crackerjack, and the Black Rapier as getting old enough to retire — but just because Samaritan and Winged Victory don’t seem to get old, that doesn’t mean that the more human heroes can’t feel the weight of the years. And if anything’s really distressing, it’s got to be that fans of the series remember when they were in their prime — and that means we’re all getting old, too. Please insert the sadface emoticon here.


Batgirl #37

Before we get too far into this issue, may we all take a quick moment to gasp in joy at this issue’s alternate cover by Darwyn Cooke?


Holy cheese, that’s an awesome cover!

Someone out there is impersonating Batgirl, running around in a sequined costume, helping high-fashion crooks, and simultaneously pushing Batgirl to greater heights of popularity and ruining her reputation as a crimefighter. Babs learns that she’s the focus of an art show by an artist named Dagger Type and pays it a visit with Black Canary and some of her college friends, and this leads to even more confrontations with the Batgirl imposter — and soon to the revelation of her true identity: Dagger Type himself!

Verdict: Good grief, it’s so not very good. I mean, there’s the jaw-dropping stupidity of the reveal — after Gail Simone’s famously trans-positive run on this title, to have the new creative team head almost immediately for an embarrassingly ham-fisted portrayal of an over-the-top nutcase cross-dressing villain — it just doesn’t make anyone look very smart. The creative team has already apologized, but it’s a serious mis-step. On top of that, the rest of the story just feels shallow. It’s Batgirl worried about someone stealing her act, then attending two different art shows, whining about her image, and capping the whole thing off by triumphantly… putting her selfie on Instagram. I’m all for making sure our characters exist in a recognizably modern world, but this all comes across like the celebrity-obsessed superheroes in Grant Morrison’s recent “Multiversity: The Just” issue — and that’s not a good thing.

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All the Things are Great


FF #6

This is just a plain great issue. Dragon Man tries to figure out where Medusa and Bentley-23 have vanished to. Scott Lang continues to slide into depression, if not madness, because of the death of his daughter. She-Hulk and Ahura visit the Inhumans to see if they know where Medusa is, and they get to bring Lockjaw home with them. This is good because Lockjaw is awesome.

The bulk of the story focuses on the Yancy Street Gang, which is not happy that Darla Deering is wearing a Thing exoskeleton that Ben Grimm wore once when he didn’t have his powers. They hack her cell phone and give the photos she took of herself wearing silly helmets to the Daily Bugle. They also invade one of her concerts, throw food at her, and chase her out of the concert hall. Is there going to be any way to appease Ben Grimm’s fanatical foes/fans?

And there’s one little scene with the Moloids that we will discuss in detail a bit later.

Verdict: Thumbs up. How many thumbs up? All of the thumbs. It’s clever and cute and funny and cool in all the right ways. Joe Quinones is the artist on this issue, doing a great job of aping Mike Allred’s style. Matt Fraction just writes a hell of a fun comic. There are so many excellent bits here: The D.O.O.M.H.E.R.B.I.E.S., She-Hulk’s expression when she sees the newspaper, the sleazy Internet cafe, Artie and Leech making shadow puppets in the theater, Scott Lang’s deeply creepy nightmare.

But here is the best bit. And I am going to spoil it completely for you. It is just so good, that I don’t care. I’m going to spoil it because you should be reading this comic anyway, people, and if you aren’t, you should be ashamed. I’m going to spoil it because it’s too good not to spoil.

These are the Future Foundation’s evolved Moloids Tong, Turg, Mik, and Korr:






That’s just a single page. It goes from sublimely ridiculous — a Moloid wearing a dress is silly, I don’t care what anyone says — to astonishingly, gloriously, heartwarmingly beautiful. Gail Simone’s “Batgirl” got all kinds of big publicity when Barbara’s roommate came out as transgender — and I think Gail is just entirely awesome, y’all know that — but this one page, with a Moloid in a party dress and her family who love her no matter what — it’s a billion times better than that issue of “Batgirl.” It’s better than anything else I’ve read this year.

If you’re not reading FF, you need to start doing it as quickly as you can.


Freelancers #5

Val and Cass have joined forces with their mostly-hated rival Katherine Rushmore, as they try to foil Drachmann’s plans to take over Los Angeles. They help reform one of Drachmann’s minions, then recruit Patrick, their… what do you call a guy who hands out assignments for freelance bounty hunters/bodyguards? I dunno, we’ll call him their assignment manager. Anyway, they recruit him to help fight Drachmann, too. And the four of them go walking into the nightclub where Drachmann is building up his army of goons. Do they have a chance? Maybe… but maybe not, once all the betrayals start to pile up.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Good action, drama, dialogue, and humor. I’m enjoying this plenty, and it looks like it’s all building up to an ending. I thought this was going to be an ongoing series? Not sure now…

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Blazing Arrow


Hawkeye #9

I’m way, way late to the party on this comic, which has gotten justified raves from almost everyone. I caught up recently, thanks to the just-released trade paperback, which you should totally go read if you haven’t previously been reading this book.

Well, Hawkeye is in trouble again, and once again, it seems to revolve around the Russian gangs he tangled with in the previous issues of this series. There’s a woman from his past, Penny Wright, who’s gotten him in over his head, and the other women in his life, including the Black Widow, Mockingbird, Spider-Woman, and Kate Bishop, do their best to find out what’s going on and to keep the “bros” off his back.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Fun retro art style, great dialogue and humor, and nice action, too. I’m really sorry I wasn’t reading this book from the first issue.


Batgirl #19

Barbara’s psychotic brother, James Jr., is working to make his entire family’s lives as miserable as possible. Babs reveals a lot of the family secrets to her roommate Alysia, including the fact that her boyfriend is a psycho and that Babs was formerly paralyzed by the Joker, while Alysia reveals that she is transgender. James lures his mother, father, and Batgirl to the local amusement park and sets about trying to kill them — how successful is he going to be?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent action and suspense. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of James Jr. in the future — he’s simply been too wonderful a villain to discard.

There’s only one element of this story that I have to thumbs down, and that’s the bit with Alysia revealing that she’s transgendered. I’m not disappointed that she’s transgender — as Gail Simone has said in the many articles focusing on this issue, it’s probably way past time that comics start looking at this issue with more clear eyes. No, the problem here is that this comes out of nowhere. There’s never been any hint that Alysia was transgender or had any kinds of secrets she was hiding. It pretty much comes across as Simone deciding someone needed to be transgender, so she just went with the closest character available. It was like Judd Winick took over the writing on that one page. It was just immensely clumsy and badly done, and it was irritating to read it, because Simone is a far better writer than that.

Anyway, we’ll have to hope Alysia gets to be better written in future issues, or we’ll end up revisiting this plenty of times.

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