February 28, 2008

Insert Marvel/DC publication delay excuse here

Naturally, I chose to start this adorable new project during one of my busiest periods at work, because that's the kind of twit I am. Hence, with barely three posts in two weeks, I haven't quite gotten this ball over the first hill (hm, that's interesting--maybe I'll start writing entirely in sports metaphors that don't relate to any actual sports). Here's to hoping I get the party started in time to talk about how sad and creepy it was to watch Heath Ledger play the Joker.

February 21, 2008


Below are some questions that may at some point occur to someone to ask about me and/or this site, but it would be presumptuous to characterize them as "frequently."

It's great you started this site because there aren't enough blogs about comics. Ha! But really, who are you and what do you think you're doing?

I'm a journalist and an editor at a national magazine that has nothing to do with comic books. During the day I read and write about the music industry, but when I get home I read comics and watch Batman cartoons--and as a writer, I couldn't leave well enough alone and just enjoy my hobby. This eventually evolved beyond this blog, and I now write about comics and the industry on occasion for Publishers Weekly and Comic Foundry. More to the point, though, I'm a (currently) 34 year-old girl who read her first comic book at 28, and went from zero interest to reading a dozen titles a week in an embarrassingly short time. And before you assume that a guy must have gotten me into comics, let me just tell you... that yeah, a guy got me into comics. I started reading Sean McKeever's Sentinel to humor my then-boyfriend now-husband, who said it was a good starter comic that balanced giant robots with teen angst. That led to Brian K. Vaughan's Runaways, which legitimately blew my mind and started a slippery slope into the rest of the Marvel Universe and later DC. I do read some indies, and the number grows steadily, but once you pick up the project of keeping up with the Big Two, it gets harder to branch out. I'm hoping this site will be a good resource for new or exploring comics readers, especially women, who aren't marketed to by mainstream comics publishers in any meaningful way. I will also try to connect comics to life and be outsidery enough that readers (like my mom) who don't read comics can still get something out of it [These last bits of the mission are not so strong at the moment, but maybe eventually--Ed. note 7/08]. In June of 2008, when my husband Aaron and I started the Awesomed By Comics Podcast, he jumped on as a very welcome contributor to the blog.

What is the Awesomed By Comics Podcast?

Aaron is in the radio biz, as well as a huge comics fan, and you don't let those kinds of attributes just sit around and take up space. So we started a weekly podcast to talk about the week's comics in a quasi-awards show format, in that we have categories and symphonic sound effects and we talk longer about each winner and/or contenders for longer than the allotted time. It's great fun and perfect background noise for your commute, dishwashing or car trips to Dairy Queen. I'll always post new episodes in the blog and the right sidebar, and you can subscribe to the feed here.

What does "Awesomed" by Comics mean? That's not a word.

After way too much brainstorming about site titles based on some stupid "Blank-Girl"-type superhero name, I turned to one of the greatest throw-away lines written in modern comics, uttered by 11 year-old mutant Molly Hayes in Runaways (and written by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, who took over for Vaughan in 2007). The youngest of the book's orphaned teenage superheroes, Molly is by turns coddled and ignored by her teammates, despite the fact that she could take any of them down with one arm tied behind her back. After a particularly dramatic rooftop battle with some baddies, Molly asserts a highly improbable theory about the sequence of events that turns out to be true. When the others fail to acknowledge this, Molly screams at them, "Why aren't you awesomed by me?!" It's a perfect line in every way--it captures Molly's slightly immature but vivacious personality; cuts through the bullshit of the other Runaways' hormone-driven, overthinky analysis of every little moment of their tension-filled lives; and, not to mention, summarizes the frustrations of every superheroine not taken seriously by her male counterparts. Molly just wants to kick bad-guy butt--she does it, has a particular valuable insight, and then, incidentally, turns around and punches the Punisher in the gut. She's a superbly developed character--in fact, the picture on the top of this site is a drawing of Molly in her homemade "Princess Powerful" costume, slightly modified to more closely resemble my hair color.

Where do you come down on the "Brian Michael Bendis is a god/is a self-indulgent asshole" debate?


So does that mean you're going to focus on the portrayal of females in mainstream comics?

No... and sometimes yes. Comic book publishers and some creators aren't usually worrying about the feminist viewpoint in what is, let's face it, a highly sexualized medium--so as a feminist who reads comics, I'm going to react (I finally, about a month ago, arrived at a state of acceptance in regards to Starfire). That will include giving kudos where due to creators like Gail Simone and Greg Rucka who are deeply mindful about gender issues in their comics, or at least have a naturally egalitarian mindset and little interest in catering to the stereotypes. It's safe to say, however, that just as many posts will be more along the lines of "how dreamy is Batman?" and "Reed Richards must put those powers to good use, because there's no other explanation for Sue staying with that annoying twit."

Who are your favorite comic book characters?

In no particular order, with list constantly subject to modification: Barbara Gordon (as Batgirl but especially Oracle), Renee Montoya (as herself and the Question), the original Question, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Ultimate Sue Storm, Molly Hayes, Karolina Dean, Batman, Nightwing, Wally West, Nova, John Stewart, Spiderman (probably Ultimate more than regular, but I have only just started Ultimate), Snow White (in Fables), Beast. Also, as a junkie for the animated DCU, I totally heart Terry McGuinness in Batman Beyond and pretty much everyone in Justice League Unlimited. Wally West in that series and Barbara Gordon in The Batman are particularly fave versions.

More Qs and As to come when I think of them/someone asks me...

February 18, 2008

Beginning with the end

Seeing as this is ABC's first post, I think I'll start by busting up any assumptions one might have about a girl writing about comics, and dive right into a blame analysis of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' breakup in New Avengers #38. Ha ha, see what I did there? But really, Luke and Jessica are two of the most emotionally real adults in mainstream comics, and their argument captures every main tension of the clusterfuckery that is the current Marvel Universe.

A brief-as-I-can-make-it recap: The winners of Marvel's Civil War were Ironman and those who wanted superheroes to register with the government for accountability; hence, a group of heroes who felt it was a violation of civil liberties went underground. Ironman and his Mighty Avengers are the legal crew, Luke Cage and the New Avengers are fugitives, everyone still fights bad guys. In one very intense New Avengers-bad guy battle, Luke and Jessica's baby was very nearly killed. Terrified and desperate, Jessica ran with her baby to (Mighty) Avengers Tower, begging for asylum and registration. Luke finds out, is horrified and crushed that she betrayed everything they'd been fighting for, and confronts Jessica outside (to avoid arrest, obvs). Jessica says dude, get over yourself and your "principles," which by the way have always been dumb, just come inside and sign up and you can have us back.

If I've learned anything from relationships, and I have, it's that one of the most common but counterproductive behaviors is to do something that you know will upset your partner, and then convince yourself that, due to his/her myriad character flaws and/or recent errors in judgment, your actions are fundamentally your partner's doing. Even if what you did was justified for any number of reasons, it's easier to get indignant than to formulate a rational case. What I'm getting at is that Jessica, I think, has some groveling to do. Now before you're all "WTF? She had no choice!!", let me say "You're right." When your baby is put in mortal danger as a result of your life choices, unchoosing those choices may be a good idea, and going to Avengers Tower was the right decision under the circumstances. But by doing so, she obliterated everything she and Luke and the other fugitive superheroes stood for. Meaning that Luke was going to feel betrayed and spaz more than a little. So she would have been wise to bring the "I'm so sorry honey, I had no choice," not the "I've been humoring you, but really you should just compromise all of your principles and stop all this foolish prancing in the shadows." He's Luke Freaking Cage. He had rough anal sex with you on, like, page three of your introductory series. He's not going to hug you and ask Jarvis to make his favorite soup cuz he's movin' in.

But, of course, she did what real live people do, people who may or may not be Skrulls at this point, which is concoct a black and white scenario that puts her in the clear and doesn't allow for negotiation or contrition. From the little I know about writer Brian Michael Bendis, I can sort of imagine that he has arguments like this a few times a week, maybe where he thinks he's always the Luke but is most of the time the Jessica. But I project.