Yeah, I know. I missed a whole week.
I generally do my writing on the weekends, and schedule the posts. But last weekend I got lost in a fog of Marvel Heroes.
Seriously, guys, I stayed up until 4 AM both nights, and then got up and started playing again.
In my defense, they did give us random gift boxes that resulted in my getting Gambit and Cable. And there was NO way I wasn’t going to play Gambit for hours.
Anyway, Hellcat. She’s a fairly obscure (to me) Marvel superhero. A redhead named Patsy Walker with a natural athletic ability, and claws thanks to her suit, she’s been one of the Defenders, she married Damion Hellstrom (and she doesn’t even warrant a mention in his wiki, awesome). And maybe I was expecting too much after reading Captain Marvel.
I am disappoint.
The art’s fine. But she runs into the problem so many Marvel heroines run into (with the noted exception of Jean Grey, Emma Frost, and Storm)*: She’s a super powered Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
Seriously. She’s wacky, and klutzy, and it’s cute because she’s hot.
Fuck, I don’t even.
I so wanted to like this book, and I’m continuing to read it to the end, but man, talk about a let down after Captain Marvel.
It’s like Mary Worth with fighting. Particularly the first issue in it.
And it was written by a woman which makes it worse. Granted, I can’t really hold that against her, because I realize that all comics authors are kind of hemmed in by the canon, although after reading the wiki page on Hellcat, I’m not even sure this is canon she’s dealing with and not internalized misogyny, OR she got bad orders from on high. I’m willing to recognize that I am probably not getting the full story and feel from the wiki. But still, it’s just a bummer. And proof that not even being a woman is any guarantee that you’ll avoid sexist pitfalls in your writing. Shit, I’ve had people point out sexist shit in my fiction. I know that being a woman is not proof against the misogyny we spend our lives stewing in.
I will say this for the umpteenth millionth time, I love comics, and I continue to love comics, but I’d like them to do better.
And this is indicative of the problem with female characters for most of the history of comics. If we say, “Hey, we’d like women characters,” they do something like this, or the that thing they did in the early 2000’s with Misty Knight and Black Cat, and two other heroines, that died a swift and well-deserved death because it blew. Then when the things they give us that aren’t what we asked for, but are rather what they THINK we asked for, fail. They tell us it’s our fault that there are no awesome female centered books in the Marvel-verse. (If you say what about Electra, I swear I will scream.)
That’s why I’m so hopeful and grateful to both Captain Marvel and the new Ms. Marvel. I’m hoping that these two really amazingly well-written books doing well will finally break the cycle of bullshit, and usher in a golden age of comics that aren’t constantly kicking me in the teeth with their sexism.
I fully realize that this may, in fact, be a really unfair review of Hellcat. I realize that reading it so close to Captain Marvel may well have tainted it for me. But I’m kind of done judging comics by the standards of the old sexism, and not by the standards of the new awesome. I really hope someone revives this book with the precedents of Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel to help lead the way. Because I kind of love Hellcat herself.
If you like the blog or the podcast, or want to pledge to help fund my new Captain Marvel addiction, please, please, please donate to keep us going. Donations go to pay for the podcast hosting and website domain, primarily.
Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want. We’re also part of a larger compilation to benefit a local venue, with a song written by yours truly. Check it out (we’re track 16). The next Honey Badger show is May 2nd at the Kraken, in celebration of the Geek Husband What Rules’s and my 20th anniversary.
*A lot of the X-ladies go through a MPDG phase, or something close to it, but it usually doesn’t last. Villain ladies don’t seem to go through it near as often, but they have their own pitfalls (no agency, puppet of larger organizations/other villains, “daddy issues,” etc…). Kitty Pryde (anyone remember when she was Ariel? How about Sprite?), early Jean Grey (the Miss Marvel costume)… A lot of the other Marvel heroines have that problem, too. I love playing Squirrel Girl in Marvel Heroes, but the quirkiness quotient is a bit high for me. Meggan played MPDG for both Captain Marvel and Nightcrawler, don’t get me started on Cerise, while not exactly an MPDG she may as well have said, “What is this Earth thing called kissing?” Misty Knight has never been an MPDG, but she’s had her own issues.