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So I have been reading the Birds of Prey comics for the last week or so, and I've been really enjoying them, more than I was expecting to. I'm kind of surprised by the fact that so many of these DC heroes are, well, without powers. I kind of assumed that the super part of a superhero required one to have powers. (Or X-tra power, as Professor Xavier would say). I don't think I'm even aware of a Marvel hero without superpowers.

Also surprised that the level of heroic morality seems to be archaic to me. It makes me think of the very early X-men comics I read that made me want to pull out my hair. There was a scene where the Hellfire club tried to kill all of the X-men, and the X-men took them all out with the exception of Emma Frost. Storm had to be stopped from killing Emma, and Emma told them all that she was going to come kill them all at a future date as soon as she was done building the club again. And then they all just stood there and let her walk out, and I could not figure out why in the hell would they let her go. Because they're heroes, that's why!!! And then there was the scene where Wolverine actually stabbed Rachel to keep her from sullying the name of heroes everywhere by killing the very evil Selene.

Angel once said something to Connor that I kind of see as the code of Heroic Morality. He said: "It doesn't matter where we come from, what we've done or suffered, or even if we make a difference. We live as though the world was what it should be, to show it what it can be." And, I think, that that's the same morality the heroes of DC comics (and Marvel comics to a lesser degree) are working from. And it's admirable, really. But, you know what? It should matter whether they make a difference or not. Heroism shouldn't be about being all holier-than-thou and proving to the world that you're better than them. It should be, first and foremost, about making a difference. Because these heroes live as if the world were an ideal place, they neglect the real problems. There's a level of delusion that goes into their morality that allows them to let the Hellfire Club (or Cassandra Nova) walk away.

I think that the X-men comics, at least, have gotten away from this a little. Which I really enjoy. I think that Grant Morrison is largely responsible for bringing this bit of realism to the X-men comics and getting the heroes away from their delusions of a perfect world. Kitty might hate it, but I love Emma’s random suggestions to kill people once in a while. Not that I think that they should kill everyone evil, but as Emma said about Cassandra Nova: "There are some things you just shouldn’t be allowed to get away with." And, yeah.

I know that a lot of people dislike Emma (and Huntress, who is not nearly as hardcore as Emma Frost, in the DC comics from what I’ve read) because of this gray morality. But I think that people like Emma are what allow people like Batman and Scott Summers to be heroic and hold on to their sense of morality. It’s because people like Emma are willing to do the dirty work for the heroic community that they can pretend to be high and mighty with their refusal to kill evil, evil villains who continue to kill. And, of course, in return these people get shunned by the heroic community. This attitude is also carried over to the fandom where most people just don’t understand how anyone can like Emma when she’s such an evil, evil bitch.

While skimming through Alan Moore’s "The Killing Joke," I was baffled by Jim Gordon demanding that Batman bring Joker back to him unharmed to put in jail so they could show him that the LAW still works. This psycho just shot his daughter, and he is worried about showing him up. Yeah, that kind of morality is just beyond me. In the real world, I can admire this. In fiction, for me, it often makes for boring, stoic heroes that I just don’t understand.


Birds of Prey review: issues 56-75.

As I suspected I would, I like Huntress the best. I just can't resist mentally/emotionally unstable dark characters. And in comics, I enjoy characters with a sense of moral ambiguity. What did surprise me is that I'm really enjoying the other characters, too. I have a tendency to pick a character to like and then ignore everyone else.

I especially like Barbara Gordon and would definitely be interested in more of her back story. So if anyone has any recs, do share. She reminds me a bit of Jessica Jones almost, but with a very different personality.

Black Canary is also fun. I'm not really interested in her back story or in her alone as a character, but I really enjoy seeing her interact with the other two. She is a lighter personality than Helena or Barbara.

The plots are mostly fun, if a bit slow at times. I definitely like them better when we're not dealing with the random evil of the week and actually get a backstory on the evil guy. I'm *really* enjoying the "Hunt for Heroes" arc.

And more than anything else, I enjoy seeing the women interact with each other. Canon literature (and as a result much of comics and TV) is so very devoid of positive relationships between women that I have come to really appreciate what little we can get. But this series is filled with it, which I really enjoy.

Date: 2006-10-19 07:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Huntress has a badass scene in BoP #99 which came out today :-)

Babs became Oracle kind of behind the scenes- her first appearances as Oracle were in the series "Suicide Squad" as a mysterious presence on the computer screen. I think there is a later "Oracle: Year One" issue- I believe it's Batman Chronicles #5 (or possibly #15, not sure- haven't tracked it down myself). "The Killing Joke" is obviously key, and there are a couple of one-shots set right before it that explore her mindset during her last days as Batgirl ("Batgirl Special", "Batman: Batgirl" and "Batman: Batgirl (Girlfrenzy)". The Girlfrenzy issue was published more recently than the others.

Batgirl: Year One is excellent (it's Chuck Dixon, and he writes the bat-characters wonderfully). Babs also appears as Batgirl in in the recent Nightwing: Year One (also by Dixon).

Other than that I think you start getting into pre-Crisis comics and there aren't trade paperbacks. Mostly, she had back-up stories in Detective Comics and also features in Batman Family.

One of my favorite things about the DCU is that the bats tend to be among the leaders of their peer groups (Batman in the JLA, Nightwing with the Titans/Outsiders, Robin with Young Justice/Teen Titans) because they really are just that badass. It doesn't matter that they don't have superpowers. The Batgirls haven't been as involved in mainstream teams, though- not sure why not. However, Oracle's respected by pretty much everyone.

Date: 2006-10-20 09:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I loved Huntress's scene, but I think Val Cooper upstaged her in the scene in X-men: Civil War #4, by taking a crow bar and smashing the knees in of her O.N.E. superior, with the intention of smashing his skull if he didn't give up the info necessary to save the lives of the 198 mutants trapped in one of Tony Stark's death traps. woo! Val got cajones!!! Having the mad mad mad love for Val Cooper now *^_^*


Date: 2006-10-22 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah. Um... damn. that was pretty intense (I hadn't read my Marvel stack for the day when I made that comment initially). It does sort of redeem her for being pretty useless ever since Decimation. Although being stuck between her government job and actual sympathy for the mutants is kind of her standard character dilemma.

Date: 2006-10-21 08:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Huntress has a badass scene in BoP #99 which came out today :-)

Ah! See, you made me skim the new issue and now I'm totally spoiled for it. But, it was a cool scene. Very Emma-esque. I hope to be all caught up by the time the next issue comes out. I have no willpower when it comes to avoiding spoilers.

Batgirl: Year One looks to be awesome judging from the stray scans at scans_daily. I'm definitely going to check that out. Thanks for the rec.

I'm avoiding the pre-crisis stuff for now. I think I need to get more into the DCU before I'm able to deal with canon-revision of that magnitude.

I haven't seen much of the Bat family yet because I'm mostly sticking to "Birds of Prey" for now. But I'll probably be branching out as other characters catch my interest. Looking forward to getting more into the DC comics. Marvel makes me cry these days. ;)

Date: 2006-10-21 11:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You might like the "new" BATGIRL. I really enjoyed the series from start to finish, and I like that her character arc is over the entire series. The end is pretty shocking too. As I suggested above, MANHUNTER is really excellent as well. OUTSIDERS is a pretty slick team book about a group that actively seeks out criminals before they can do anything... a more proactive than reactive team book. If you can find it, JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE was really unfairly overlooked... it was sorta like superhero VICE squad, as a bunch of heroes take on villianous identifies to infiltrate the underworld and do the dirty shit that the JUSTICE LEAGUE won't and can't be seen to do. The only ever collected the first half of the series, including related material, which really pisses me off, because they never finished collecting it.

Date: 2006-10-22 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was also going to recommend Batgirl III (Cassandra Cain), who debuted during the massive "No-Man's Land" crossover and then had a solo series until Infinite Crisis. While the end of her series is shocking as [ profile] halliday notes, I find the follow-up in the "One Year Later" world to be disappointing. Note that Batgirl II (whose identity I won't mention in case you don't know) also briefly gained and lost the role during "No Man's Land".

One thing about Cassandra's series is that the early trade paperbacks don't always collect the issues in order, which in one place makes for a really jarring jump in the story. Either read them some other way, or try to sort out the real order in the trades. I can see that they did that to keep one story primarily in a single trade, but I just find it annoying.

Outsiders is also cool (I particularly like Grace Chen). I especially like the "One Year Later" version, though (partially because I really like Captain Boomerang II).

Date: 2006-10-22 08:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Grr... Not "Grace Chen", "Grace Choi". It's so much easier to remember ridiculous code names like "Captain Boomerang" than actual names ;-)


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