Rat Queens Special: Braga #1
Image Comics’ “Rat Queens” has courted controversy and critical praise for its intersectional feminist take on the oft-male-dominated Dungeons & Dragons inspired tales of high-fantasy action. For the uninitiated, the best-selling book was created last year by Writer Curtis J Weibe and Artist Roc Upchurch, who was asked to leave the book about an all-female and racially diverse cast of 4 merry mad mistresses of magic and mayhem, when he was arrested on domestic violence charges against his wife in December. Upchurch was then replaced by artist Stjepan Sejic.
(Targaryen In Red from our Game of Thrones t shirts collection.)
A one-shot side adventure focusing on a background character, the Orc maiden frienemy of the main gals, and leader of another adventuring party, Braga, was published in the interim. Braga just so happens to be a Trans* woman, as the issue reveals, with stunning art by female relative newcomer, Tess Fowler.
The story of Braga herself is fairly straightforward: born the eldest son of an Orc chieftain, “Broog” as he was then known, was always rebellious, favoring peaceful negotiations over his father’s war-mongering ways. Broog’s younger brother challenged him for the throne, gouging Broog’s eye, but losing his good arm in the fight, and Broog left the land in his care. There are hints at a love story, left mercifully ambiguous, and overall, it’s a story of being self-defined in every possible way: it’s like any other Rat Queens tale: diverse, colorful, gory, smart and fiercely contemporary, with just enough sexy and silly to keep it afloat.
Even as Trans* characters seem to be having a “moment” in pop culture, I can not recommend this story enough. Rat Queens #9 is on sale from Image Comics now, as are Braga #1 and the first 6 issue collected graphic novel.
So the other night I went out with a female human (yes, miracles can still happen) and we fell into a discussion of movies and games. She says she never got bit by the game bug and seemed to not have much for science fiction as well. Since then I have been reflecting on what is it about science fiction I love and realize that it is basically better than pretty much any other forms of story telling available.
This dates back to primitive man. Mythology is nothing more than science fiction from a more primitive point of view; instead of robots and lasers you have the magical powers of the divine but at the end of the tale it is the story of something people really wish existed or are terrified might exist. Science fiction has ramped up as the technology curve has advanced. From gods turning into rain and impregnating umbrella-less women it shifted to ghosts and vampires. In the 19th century Jules Verne created great science fiction using steam punk technology. At the end of that century into the 20th HG Wells crafted great sci fi based on advanced science of aliens and time machines based on the mysterious new power of electricity. Good science fiction is all about taking existing human technology and envisioning what it could be doing in 50 years (by the way, if you ever want to check out some really cool old school sci fi that kind if illustrates this point read War with the Newts by Czeck author Karel Čapek from 1936. It is quite visionary and details a war against an intelligent amphibious race using pretty much current technology).
The point is science fiction has been with us in one form or another since cave man days, and personally I have found non fans of sci fi to be hapless drones with no imagination. The question really isn’t if sci fi is superior but rather why. Here are a few reasons I came up with from the seat of my pants.
10. Only in science fiction can a freak lab accident or natural mutation give you super powers instead of cancer or flipper arms.
9. Cherry 2000 (and all other possible replacements for women that the future holds for me. Sorry ladies but the day they manage to make virtual reality sex as good as the real thing is the last day I speak to any of you. Based on the massive rejection I receive on a regular basis I doubt any of you will shed a tear. There’s only so much ego destruction a man can take in a lifetime before shining the whole process).
8. Only in sci fi do we have transporters and Stargates. Think about this next time you are being groped by TSA only to wait at the terminal for hours for your delayed or oversold flight.
7. In science fiction villains tend to have huge grandiose plans for world conquest motivated by easy to understand childhood trauma. None of the insidious and hard to really identify corporate villainy we deal with now motivated by a desire to get more of daddy’s love. Also people who actively plan to conquer the universe are feared instead of institutionalized.
6. In science fiction religions are often accompanied by some kind of bonus powers (the Force, the Necromongers, etc.)
5. Three breasted prostitutes.
4. Light sabers, and a semi legitimate reason to use swords rather than guns.
3. A giant throbbing cranium is clear indication of superior mental powers and intellect, not elephantiasis of the head (Sinestro image courtesy of the DC Comic T Shirt category).
2. Robots and androids (although elementary chaos theory states that eventually all robots will rise up to destroy their creators).
1. Time travel (although I predict once it is developed it will inevitably be used for only the most petty and selfish reasons, such as betting on past Super Bowls. I for one plan to go back in time and beat seven kinds of hell out of three people from my high school).
If you can come up with more reasons please by all means post them down here. I love this sort of thing. Thanks for reading, and have a great day.
As any nerd can tell you, the great Mark Hamill played Kenneth Dantley Jr. in the epic film Corvette Summer (he also played Luke Skywalker in the original (by that I mean good) Star Wars trilogy but no one bothers to remember that) and as such is an icon of nerd culture. However, what a lot of less well informed people don’t know is since then he has become an amazing voice over guy and did one of the greatest cartoon voices ever, the Joker from the original Batman the Animated Series.
Words cannot accurately describe how awesome this voice was. When I think of Joker I hear Mark Hamill’s insane cackle in the back of my head. He had the perfect combination of humorous clown and psychotic killer all wrapped up in one. Amazing.
Anyway, today is Mark’s birthday and I would like to wish him a happy one. Thank you sir, for being a part of a huge piece of my childhood and then moving on to do even more cool stuff. I salute you.
By the way, if you want to have some fun Google “Star Wars Muppet Show” and enjoy seeing Mark guest star on the Muppets. But don’t do the Holiday Special unless you want all things good in your life to turn to ash forever. I’m not kidding at all on that. If you watch that film you will want to die.
Joker image courtesy of the DC Comic T Shirt category BTW.
I see this as a really positive statement not just in support of gay rights but rather in support of human rights. Humans should have the freedom to have whatever makes them happy in their life, as long as that doesn’t interfere with other people’s happiness. I am also glad we live in a time where we are no long slaves to the negative stereotypes associated with gays and their abilities to be heroes of any stripe. We have gay cops, firefighters, and soldiers and I think they are all heroes. I furthermore applaud DC’s commitment to their support in casting a major character from their pantheon as gay. The easy and cheesy way would have been to either create a new gay superhero or take some minor character from the past and make him or her gay.
The interesting part for me will come in the months ahead as we can see how this revelation is received by the American public. Dave sells a good number of Green Lantern t shirts from his DC Comic t shirt collection and I am very curious to see if he sees either a spike or drop in sales. However, I say to anyone who drops his or her fandom of Green Lantern over this you should consider the fact that you were a fan when you thought he was straight. His orientation did nothing to change his actions. He is still the super hero he always was.
A couple days ago Jason posted something about Scarlett Johansson wanting to do a stand alone Black Widow movie and why that is generally a bad idea. His base statement is more or less correct: there has never been a female super hero movie that has done well, and in most cases they seem to spell career death for the actress involved. Some of the notable failures include Catwoman and Electra, but if you dig deeper you find all kinds of other ones that did nothing but suck and die. Red Sonya, Tank Girl, My Super Ex Girlfriend (actually I kind of like that one, but really it was less about the super hero and more about every ex girlfriend I have ever had), Sheena, and Barb Wire to name a few. Duds all. Some may argue that Hit Girl from Kick Ass was great (she was IMO), but she did not have her own movie. There has yet to be a distaff Spider Man or Iron Man.
What is the problem here? It’s not like we don’t have great female comic book characters to draw from. Every year someone talks about doing a Wonder Woman movie, but honestly I predict even that will fail to meet expectations. Jason’s theory was that most comic book movie fans are male and want to pretend to be the hero. A female hero is just harder to identify with and pretend to be. I think there may be some validity to this theory, but don’t see it as the overriding issue. For the most part fans identify with the super powers, not the super hero. I could easily see someone imagining having the telekinetic powers of Phoenix or the weather control of Storm. Also, I think in this day and age the line of gender identification is a little blurrier that it has ever been in the past. (Wonder Woman image courtesy of the DC Comic T Shirt category).
I think the issue is much more primal. The problem is that in order for a super hero movie to be great, the hero has to get his or her ass handed to him (or her). If you look at the first Spider Man movie, Peter Parker gets completely trounced by the Green Goblin (blown up, really). In the last Superman the managed to find a way to have the normally invulnerable Superman on deaths doorstep. In order for a super hero to be super he or she has to overcome serious mortal danger and pain. We root for the hero who comes to the brink of destruction but still triumphs. Without that it just sucks. The reason this doesn’t work for super heroines is the fact that the vast majority of men are hard wired on a genetic level to not like to see a woman getting beaten.
Seriously, this is an issue. In my movie reviews if I see a woman getting punched in the face it usually earns the movie a black hole. I find it incredibly disturbing. There is nothing more upsetting to a man (a real man) than seeing a woman’s face with a black eye or bruises. I know, I am supposed to be more open minded and equality and all that feminist stuff, but even guys who say that it seeing men beaten bothers them equally with women are lying. There is a genetic imperative in men to protect women from harm (kids too, but you don’t see a lot of that in movies). There is nothing that will get me to intervene in a situation faster than seeing a man hit a woman, yet I would be OK watching two guys beat the hell out of each other.
This, unfortunately, leaves Hollywood with a bad choice to make. Either they go with letting the heroine get her ass kicked, making the movie really disturbing to the bulk of the viewing audience, or they make her invulnerable and impervious to harm, making the movie really boring and unreal. The thing that comic movie fans demand these days is some level of realism (ironic, given that we are talking about people with super powers) and seeing a 105lb girl get punched in the face and kick the crap out of a 200lb thug just isn’t realistic (one of the many reasons Catwoman really sucked).
What is the answer? I don’t know. Maybe more movies of women who don’t necessarily have to duke it out with guys. Angelina Jolie was great in Wanted and for the most part shot people. This might actually make for a decent film for Black Widow, but I predict they will feel the need to get her to go toe to toe with someone, ironically lessening the action.
That’s pretty much it on the matter. I’d like to thank my best friend Dave for first suggesting this theory and helping me flesh out out. If you want to comment or suggest a different theory free to post something here. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have specific questions or suggestions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By the way, before I get going I wanted to mention something interesting I found on the Intertube. I was looking for info on the upcoming Men in Black 3 and came across this kid Bugeyes126 doing some kind of investigation video series trying to prove that the Men in Black are real. I can’t tell if this is for real, for fun, or just a really creative marketing campaign. It’s like some kind of reality TV show scavenger hunt. I’ll link Bugeyes126 most recent video as it flashes me back to my childhood days of dumpster diving. However, I can tell him from painful personal experience jumping straight into a dumpster like he does is a good recipe for getting a rusty length of jagged metal jammed six inches into your calf. I’d also like to add that tetanus shots in 1982 were a whole lot less fun than they are now.
No movie tonight as I have to paint new models for the tournament this weekend. However, I have tickets for a midnight screening of the Avengers at the fabulous Kabuki Cinema in San Francisco Thursday so look for that review Friday morning. Thanks as always for reading. Talk to you soon.
Why is it the only two villains the Superman movies can ever come up with are Lex Luthor and General Zod?
Dave’s not much into Superman but I am, and I have to say that I was really hoping for someone other than another old villain for the next movies.
Honestly, General Zod was never much of a villain in the comic, yet somehow he is the main bad guy in two different movies. I guess this is more proof that Hollywood cannot come up with anything remotely new for anything. It’s not like there aren’t other villains who can give Superman a run for his money. Brainiac alone makes for a really good story because he is so smart, and if you just want life threatening mayhem go with Doomsday. I just think General Zod was so well done in the other movie that there is no need to rehash his character again.
This cool Braniac picture comes from Dave’s DC comic t shirts. I think I am going to have to get one for myself.
Of course, really when you think about it I don’t know if Lex Luthor was really treated fairly in Superman Returns. Sure, he was pretty cool and I thought Kevin Spacey both did a great job and had the man parts to actually go bald unlike Gene Hackman, but Lex Luthor is supposed to have a ton of super science backing him up. I want to see Lex in a super powered armor suit flying around blasting Superman with Krpytonite autocannon shells. Also, what the hell was the deal with his secret plan? He wanted to raise a new continent, killing half the world population, and then sell barren salt encrusted rock real estate to the half that didn’t drown? I mean sure he might do some damage, but did he really think that no country in the world wouldn’t have an aircraft carrier survive the aftermath and wouldn’t air strike him to death? Also, while appearing before the UN to claim the land he just created don’t you think someone might have asked him some tough questions about the billions of people he just killed in order to make it? Just dumb, really.
Back on Zod. The question I always had at the end of the last one was shouldn’t Lois Lane have had super powers after the whole switcheroo machine went off? For that matter, if the three of them could have killed Superman why did they take the chance on him pulling some kind of fast one? I’d be like “Well, we could let him use his equipment in his Fortress of Solitude where ever single wall and piece of furniture looks alike, or we could just remove all his internal organs and launch the remains into the nearest black hole.”
Also, what is up with a human having sex with Superman? I mean, aside from the fact that he would most likely tear her in half in the first two seconds, how is it he feels any sensation from her? It would be like having sex with a woman made out of tissue paper.
Damn, I just wrote a Dave length post. Don’t get used to it. I did find this really funny blog cast of General Zod talking to his defense attorney before being sentenced to the phantom zone. It’s really good.
I have been reading a bit about the new Green Lantern sequel. Any fan of comics will tell you that the first one sucked. While I don’t pay attention things like writers and directors like Dave does it seems they are making a few positive changes and then a massive number of negative stay the sames.
The GL shirt I found in Dave’s DC comic t shirts, incidentally.
First off, they are apparently firing the director, Martin Campbell. Good move in my opinion. He really chocked it. However, they are keeping the same writers. How does that make sense? I mean, do they really think the writers from the first one did such a great job, or that they have some kind of connection to the Green Lantern story? If this was an original character they created that might be a good idea, but really the original creators all are the comic book writers. Get any lame hack in the world he he will have as much connection.
They say they are going to be relying less on CGI. Good move. There was way to much of it in all the wrong directions. But the biggest mistake they are going to make is they are keeping smarmy sleaze bucket Ryan Reynolds as the main guy. Is it remotely possible to hire someone who might take the part seriously and not smirk at the camera all day long? Maybe someone who understands comics. He wears a mask. He doesn’t have to be the biggest hearth throb in Hollywood. Get rid of him.
So I guess DC has announced that they are going to develop a prequel for the Watchmen and I ask the ultimate question, why? I think everything you ever needed to know about the events before the movie or comic were related in some of the best story telling possible, without a lot of extra crap. The montage opening at the beginning of the movie after the Comedian takes his dive is one of the best ever and managed to relate a huge sequence of impressions and events without even saying a single word. This image, by the way, is from the DC comic t shirts.
I guess the ultimate answer is, of course, money. I don’t really collect and read comics but I know Dave will buy one of these like the sucker he is. It will probably sell really well and lead into another multi million dollar movie, but really, do we need to see how Dollar Bill gets killed or Mothman loses his mind? All these things really become overexplained when delivered in detail. Honestly, I think this is another sign of big media doing what it can to suck as much money out of nerds pockets at possible. Anyone else feeling like a sheep?
So I saw One Day the other night and, to be honest, am still kind of depressed about it. Director Lone Scherfig has made my permanent watch list and I intend to be brutally honest with all her future projects until I get payback for the blatant and hamhanded manipulation of my emotions. Go back to Denmark.
Anyway, it got me thinking about other movies that have depressed me over the years. I kind of expanded to include comic books too, since the line between comics and movies is getting blurrier every year. Here is the list I came up with. Feel free to disagree with me and let me know what I missed.
10. The death of Borimir, the Fellowship of the Ring. I know he wasn’t a main character and traveled towards the dark side as the movie progressed, but he really redeemed himself in the last bit of the film and died a tragic, noble death. He also had a nice bit of personality and charm when we wasn’t stalking Frodo, so I was sad to see him die (even though I knew it was coming).
9. The death of of Superman. OK, I have my issues with Superman (haw!). However, he has always been a huge part of nerd culture and when DC wrote in his death at the hands of Doomsday it was a striking moment. I do have a pristine copy of his death in the original poly sleeve, as well as an open copy I read a lot. Of course, the problem with this death and most of the other comic book deaths I am going to list is you know there is no such thing as an actual permanent death and that the hero will return shortly, albeit often with a different alter ego. Death in comics is more of a time out. However, if you are the type who can immerse him or herself into a story and not let such things affect the mood (I am that way) you can really feel the punch when something terrible happens.
8. E.T. the Extraterrestial dying. Ok, I was young, but this one hurt. Gentle visitor from another planet shows up. His ride gets chased off by big guys with flashlights, and he gets hounded to death literally by scary government types after bonding with a kid about my age.
7. Leaving Las Vegas. I know. Not really a nerd moment. Still, pretty damned depressing.
6. Joker killing Robin. This one sucked, and it was one death that stuck. It wasn’t even a clean, pleasant death. Joker beat him with a crowbar and then blew him up. The saddest part for me is they left his fate a cliffhanger and let the fans vote. The slight majority of the fans voted thumbs down. (Joker image courtesy of the DC comic book t shirt category)
5. Bane breaking the Bat. While Batman had experience minor defeats and setbacks in the past, never had he been outright defeated. This moment was less about the physical damage done to Bruce Wayne and more about the destroying of Batman’s spirit (and, to be honest, ours).
4. Death of Gandalf. Yes, I knew ahead of time he came back thanks to having read the books about 100 times, but even so the scene of him falling off the bridge is pretty tear jerking. I had a friend who was listening to the books on tape and when Gandalf died he pulled his car over and called me asking if it was true. I did not spoil it for him.
3. The death of Captain America. Wow did this suck. Captain America, champion and symbol of all that is good and noble about the USA, branded a traitor and dying to an assassins bullet. Tony Stark, rot in hell.
2. Roy Batty’s death at the end of Blade Runner. Sure, he was sort of the bad guy, but such an engaging character with a massive thirst for life. All the replicants were cool and in their own way more tolerable than most of the humans. Rutger Hauer made the movie more than Harrison Ford in my opinion, and when he saved Deckards life as a last noble gesture before dying it really hit me.
1. The death of Spock in the Wrath of Khan. I will argue this to my grave as the saddest moment in nerd culture history, and am not ashamed to admit I cried like a little girl first time I saw it. In fact, I tear up every time I see it or even think about it. It wasn’t just the end of Spock (in a noble, tragic, and painful death scene) but the end of an era of adventure throughout space that gave me focus when I was getting my ass kicked in grade school for being a nerd. All that seemed good and logical in the universe was summed up in one character for me and with his death the world seemed just a little more stale. Yes, I know he came back and they threw a spoiler into the movie to make us think it was coming, but if you read my Star Trek movie retrospectives (I need to finish those, now that I think about it) you know I feel the movies shifted gears from the cool action characters we knew to a bunch of old men kind of bumbling across the universe.
You know, doing this list has actually helped me a lot with the one One Day depression. I actually got choked up talking about a couple of these, and it put things into perspective for me. I should have started a blot 20 years ago. Would have saved me a fortune in therapy.
New movies coming out this weekend, and I think I will pick up the Star Trek movie thread again. I have just been dreading doing Generations. I have a show to do this weekend but will try to get something done. Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. Thanks
So I was preparing myself to watch Hop last night (any by preparing I mean punching myself in the stomach repeatedly to build up a tolerance for the incoming pain) and at the last minute decided my last few weeks have been difficult enough, despite my desire to see something Bat-nipple bad in order to write a funny review. However, I took a look at a couple of the recent reviews I did for decent movies and decided they were not without literary merit. I looked online for the Grand Lake Cinema, which is closer to me and tends to show artsier movies. The only problem is they don’t have $5 movies twice a week. Low and behold, Limitless, a movie I had intended to see a few weeks ago but missed, was playing at 7. I had about 10 minutes to get there so I rushed out and made it with about 30 seconds to spare only to find there is apparently another Grand Lake Cinema in Colorado that apparently shows up higher on Google results. Ironically, Hop was playing at 7, so it seems fate is pushing me to see that animated Easter pile of dung (I did read a few other reviews before making that statement, and now stand by it. From what I have seen when do get around to watching it there appears to be plenty of writing fodder).
However, as I have been know to say upon occasion, fate is a fickle bitch, and I for one refuse to kowtow to her every whimsy. I turned around, went home, and did my laundry. Of course, that leaves me with the burning question of what do write about today, but I think I have gotten into a lazy habit of using the film reviews as an excuse to think less, so I will got back to my old friend, nerd dating.
The idea of dates that involve physical activity of some kind I touched on briefly earlier, but think it rates expansion. The fact is a large number of nerds (myself included, unfortunately) approach physical activity with the same relish as they would a sewage sandwich liberally smeared with Branston’s Pickle and mucus. However, in addition to the massive medical and body image improvements that can be gleaned from doing something active, it also makes for an awesome date.
In general, women like doing physical stuff. More importantly, even if they don’t they want the guy they date to be into it. If your first three dates are all along the lines of dinner and a movie they will probably come to the (correct) assumption that you are a couch potato, and therefore from a primitive biological evolutionary standpoint less likely to kill a moose in order to provide for them and their offspring, thus ensuring that their DNA is successfully passed on to the next generation. Also, if you are wondering if there are any other reasons to get more fit, never forget the impeding zombie apocalypse. It is coming.
Not only do women like doing physical stuff, but in many cases it is quite the aphrodisiac. If you spend an afternoon playing tennis with her and she gets really turned on by it, guess what is the closest thing to a man in her line of sight?
So what are some good physical dates that are fun, inexpensive, and won’t leave you sucking oxygen 500 yards behind your potential date? Here are a few.
Bicycling-running is right out, as most of you can’t go more than a block or so without passing out or injuring a knee (by the way, there aren’t a lot of turn offs stronger than getting hurt and hauled off in an ambulance doing an activity considered normal by humans, like running). Bicycling is pretty easy, however, and fun if you can do it in a casual manner. Make absolutely sure your date doesn’t do Triathlons or even know when the Tour de France runs, or you will look like a loser as she laps you for the 8th time. Best would be if she doesn’t even have a bike and you can rent one for her. As an aside (sorry if any of you find this observation sexist, but I am a straight male) having a girl ride a bike in front of you can do a lot to enhance the scenery, if you know what I mean.
Hiking-I have never met a girl who didn’t claim to like hiking, even if they secretly hate it. I think when women hit puberty they all receive a gift package of a training bra, assorted feminine products of a suspiciously vague nature (odds are I happier not knowing what they are, but if there were ever a worldwide conspiracy by women to enslave men (and who’s to say there isn’t? Or that it hasn’t already happened and we never noticed?) they could easily smuggle weapons and secret documents in packages marked with the word “freshness”), male guilt projectors (possibly located in the bosom), and a liking of hiking. It is physical, close to nature, and usually has good scenery. Also, it is the two of you alone in the woods, which can lead to other physical activities. Finally, while it is a great chance to talk, if you feel the strain of maintaining a conversation has gotten burdensome it is perfectly acceptable to hike in silence, thus enhancing the grandeur of nature or something.
Also, earlier I said getting carted off in an ambulance doing something normal like running is a huge turn off. However, getting hurt while doing something unusual like hiking is often a huge turn on. Twisting an ankle, getting bit by a rattlesnake, or being mauled while protecting your girl from a mountain lion will elicit so much sympathy sex you won’t know what hit you, assuming you survive. Crafting a makeshift crutch out of a tree branch and limping out will greatly enhance this. On the other hand, poison ivy, chiggers, or ticks are just gross and will get you nothing, so be careful.
I think that’s it for today. Tomorrow I’ll talk about some other stuff you can do that fits in this category in more detail.
I think I am ready to answer the Aquaman versus Wonder Twins question. Honestly, I kind of hope they manage to kill each other off, leaving only Gleep standing among their corpses, but I think I will have to give it to the Wonder Twins. I think Jan would fail miserably, as any sea animal she turned into Aquaman could probably command, but if Jayce just turned into water and then used it to strangle Aquaman I don’t think he could do anything about it. Kind of a weirdly complicated question. (Aquaman image courtesy of the DC comic t shirts)
For today I pull a topical question: who would win, the Punisher verses Fidel Castro?