Among the many strong points of Danger Girl, one of them is not how readily they rip off ideas (sometimes completely directly) from other stories, including movies. Previously I had mentioned how the beginning of Trinity looked very similar to the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In issue #2 a similar moment occurs, which bears some similarity to the helicopter explosion in Die Hard 4.
I watched a video detailing some of the physics involved in this stunt and in terms of vectors they do a sufficiently good job in terms of describing how far a car launched at approximately 60 mph would travel (they set the distance of the helicopter off of the ground at 30 feet which seems similar to that in Danger Girl). The end state of their analysis was that it might be possible. Granted that I don't know as much about physics, but there are a few things lacking here for me. In their analysis they stated that it would be possible under a number of conditions, specifically that it was launched off of a ramp with no other forms of deceleration. I find that this is one of the problems that I always had with physics, in that everything is so complex that it is hard to deal with more than one problem at a time, and in such a case, there are so many problems that it is kind of hard to combine them all together. Forgetting for a moment that Sydney's plan was to to shoot a driver of a car in the hopes that in his death that he would still apply force to the accelerator and drive the car in the desired direction. From a physical standpoint, this consideration is not even worth considering, as I am not sure that such an outcome would ever be planned on by even the most calculating hero. The problem though here is two fold, but both sides of the same problem, that of the ramp of launching platform. Generally speaking when one object hits another in the same on dimensional plane, the resulting effect is a transfer of energy between the two (in the case of cars, they crash.) If this energy is to be transferred to a different dimension (in this case shot upward) there needs to be something to change its direction. In both cases it is implied that the collision forms the stationary object into a form of ramp. This doesn't work for the previously mentioned tow reasons. The first is that things generally don't take clean shapes such as a ramp after violent collisions. This is a result of entropy whereas things tend towards chaos as opposed towards order (I know entropy is a lot more than this from a scientific standpoint, but that is the simple version.) The other is that even if the momentum of the impacting vehicle could form the stationary object into a ramp that it would lose a lot of its momentum doing so (momentum is a product of mass and velocity.) Thus the moving car would have to be going a lot faster than 60 mph as it would be losing a lot of that energy to friction. On either one of these two limitations the stunt fails, in both the comic and the movie. It still looked cool though.
For anyone not prepared for an overanalysis who is reading one of my blogs, be forewarned that there is more to be found here. Unlike usual though this overanalysis does not involve science, but like usual it will involve Danger Girl. The issue in question here is Danger Girl: Trinity #2. I have already written about this from the vantage point of Sydney and Sonya, but something about the experience of Abbey was noteworthy for me as well. A while back I wrote about the role that Egypt has had in the history of comics, from a standpoint of Egyptology coming to the forefront of pop culture at the same time that comics became popular (the same holds true with some other themes.) Despite that, in modern comics, there are still a lot of somewhat stereotypical uses of images when it comes to Egypt.
From this issue there are a few examples in succession:
This somewhat represents a Las Vegas concept of what Egypt looks like (in that Vegas hotels often go with a theme and incorporate only the most stereotypical aspects of that theme.) In terms of this being a comic and especially being Danger Girl there is nothing really all that wrong here, just in terms of representation of a culture it is somewhat one dimensional. It is equivalent to those people that come to Canada and expect to see igloos and polar bears.
As I generally tell people, I am more of a story person than an art person when it comes to comics. In terms of art though, I do still notice the difference in styles among different artists. This is evident in such series as 52 where the artwork changes all the time within the same issue. The newest Danger Girl series is also designed in such a way, with different artists providing their skill to different parts of the story. In Danger Girl Trinity, there are three artists - Stephen Molnar, John Royle, and Harvey Tolibao. For me, Danger Girl will always be somewhat associated both in terms of story and in terms of art with its original creator, J. Scott Campbell. When I see the characters depicted it can help for me to enjoy the story to have an artistic style similar to Campbell's. Molnar and Royle seem to channel Campbell's interpretation of the characters quite well, but Tolibao has a distinctly different style. Each artist is drawing one of the three main characters (Sonya, Abbey and Sydney respectively) but the one drawing my favourite character (Sydney) is also the one the furthest away from the traditional depiction.
In issue #1 I felt this to a degree as thematically Sydney's story seemed a little different from the rest. The same happens here as well in issue #2 except the effect was actually kind of different than in the first issue. I previously mentioned how the international setting of this series is kind of off for me, and already questioned the artistic format, but in this sense with Sydney it really makes her stand out this time as opposed to being lost in the mix. With a story that isn't working for me on all gears yet, the use of a different art style in the most action filled portion of the book actually made it that I enjoyed it far more - the middle pages here serving as the focus and heart of this story and somewhat succeeding while being bookended by some more pedestrian material.
I am not sure if it was the intended focus of the design for it to be accomplished in this way, but for one fan at least, it gave the audience what they wanted.
People often ask me why as a fairly strong feminine voice among the community here why it is that I read Danger Girl. I suppose there are no easy answers, but I suppose the answer is that it is a fun group of characters which is a parody of the entire genre, and when not at least that the sensationalism is mostly spread around all genders. In terms of their feminine depiction, they are generally a little bit ahead of most portrayals of comic book female characters (though equally I have somewhat stopped paying attention to this after all this time – for instance I read Dejah Thoris.)
From time to time though I do notice something a little peculiar about the presentation of female characters, and I like to point it out, and here it is:
In this case Sonya Savage’s breasts are being presented in a way which makes it seem like they are what is causing her to float in water. Some flotation devices are called Mae Wests after the golden age movie star, though in this case it would seem as though this is actually the case. I understand of course, that it is just a bit of gratuity, but that it equally has a kind of funny look to it. As always though there will be someone that wants to prove me wrong (well not so much in such matters as this) but I considered that maybe she was standing on the bottom of the pond or whatever she is in and that is all that is showing of her body as she stands upright. This is likely not the case though as in the next panel she is shown diving well below the surface.
I guess that this can be written off to just another case of female characters being controlled by a predominantly male group of creators. Next time they might want to check some human anatomy and basic physiology though.
I read two interesting articles when I woke up this morning (links: here and here). The first has to with Anita Sarkeesian’s unintended censorship from youtube, and the second had to with why people risk themselves to take first hand camera footage of dangerous events. In both cases the subject at hand comes back to one inherent concept – ownership. Presumably without a very thorough examination of the video, enough people flagged it as inappropriate on youtube that whatever they have as moderators over there decided that it was in the interest of being taken down, and although it could be said that there were disturbing aspects about it, it was not taken down because of those. In short Anita is the feminist pop culture critic that thought that she would use a kickstarter project to fund a series of videos looking at the role of women in video games. Even before she had ever created a single pixel she was already being threatened with the worst kind of threats. In my mind this goes back directly to ownership, as in the vicarious extension of oneself to a video game, and that the criticism thereof makes is a criticism not only of the game but of the player. The second article is less related, but I still saw something there of interest, that one of the possible explanations for the risk of taking first hand amateur video is that of ownership. In the world of viral media, the person’s whose name gets attached to this media becomes an instant star, perhaps fleeing in terms of the public eye, but still one which is recognized. This is perhaps less notable, but as a moderator on a fairly busy website, I do often see this discussion come up among my fellow moderators (spoiler alert – talking about behind the scenes stuff that I shouldn’t be talking about) that we are somewhat bewildered by the fact that people actually bother to post “First” on an article, which generally signifies that they had not read it at all, and simply wanted to lay claim to the discussion. This in itself is a relative phenomenon though. I have for instance never seen someone type “First” on an extended preview of Dejah Thoris, but I see it often enough on topics relating to popular characters. This comes back to the same point that of ownership, perhaps a smaller and more subtle application of it, but by posting first on a topic about Spider-Man or Deadpool the poster is in a sense laying claim to that character. After all, one of the functions of this website is to edit the any post which a particular user has written (I can edit any post – bwah ha ha) and people could easily change their post to something more meaningful but do not, therefore a form of ownership is there.
So with so much interest who actually owns the properties then? Do fans have some kind of inherent interest in the character that they treasure. Ideally I would like to say yes, but at least in terms of what I see from DC and Marvel the answer is likely no. There have been a number of cases where fans have created enough controversy that the creative forces behind certain properties has found a reason to change their product (I don’t know much about video games, but this happened with Mass Effect didn’t it?) but generally speaking the amount of fan loyalty and overall indifference is probably enough to make the decisions sound at least in a business sense. For instance, as most everyone knows I am somewhat opposed to the romance between Wonder Woman and Superman, but I am enough of a Wonder Woman fan, that I am not going to stop reading her titles jut because of that. If I did, I could take the much talked about strategy of “talking with my money” as if enough people stop buying into a creative decision that soon enough the companies have to make changes. I agree that it is one method, but again I am not sure how effective it is. The problem here is that of market research, and most companies in the world will not go forward with any decision without making such a decision. You want to bake hot dogs into the crust of your pizza dough? Chances are the decision was not made on a whim, rather surveys were done where the questions were asked to see if people would actually buy such a thing. So when DC or Marvel make decisions they certainly make them while being informed by some sort of market research. So does the Wonder Woman-Superman romance work? Will you be more likely to buy a comic where one of the major characters (Alan Scott) is gay? What to do with the Young Avengers now that there series is canceled? I am not sure of their business outlook, but it would seem that they are not so much interested in appealing to comic fans at all times. After all, comic sales have been on the decline consistently over the past few decades, and so the comic fans are not the interest of their outreach. What they want are new fans, not to keep the old ones happy. If fifty new people will pick up an issue because Wonder Woman and Superman are kissing on the cover, and then ten percent of those stick around keep buying the book on a regular basis, then it does not really matter that three hardcore fans drop the series. It becomes a business decision at this point, and not creative.
What is the solution? I am not sure if there is one. Certainly indie titles have to survive much more off of their creativity and so this is definitely a place where fans can get behind their favourite characters and for their portrayal to remain true to the past. The problem here which is faced though is that the financial struggles can make the titles hard to follow simply because they will not succeed. I think though that ultimately this will come back to the big two again. Once every couple of decades it seems as though the companies think to reboot themselves. In the case of the new 52 this decision was initially met with skepticism, followed by hope and then followed against by skepticism. Perhaps at one point the companies will look to the fans though and not the dollars to decide on their project, and when that happens that will be the beginning of the next major age of comics. Until then the true fans have to become used to a matter of disappointment alongside their vicarious thrills.
Earlier this week I got out to see Jurassic Park 3D in theater. This has actually been the first movie I have watched in theaters a while, as I am still behind on Iron Man 3 and Star Trek. Like most people my age I had already seen this movie many times, and probably also like many people my age, I had never seen it in theater (though some might have and not remembered about it.) I really liked seeing it in this format, on IMAX and in 3D, and I was happy to see that the 3D rendering was decently handled (after Titanic 3D seeming to be like a viewfinder.) Seeing the movie got me a little inspired though, and so today at the LCS I took a couple of minutes to hunt for some Jurassic Park comics just to have a look at them. It is strange to note though how poorly received these comics generally are. The reason for success of the movie is fairly simple – moving dinosaurs make kids (or adults) squeal with joy. Of course the franchise is going to try to expand into other forms of media. I find it kind of interesting, though also kind of predictable though why it could never really successfully cross over to comics.
The main reason is that dinosaurs have almost always been with comics. Comics have always been a way to realize the impossible, both from an artistic standpoint as well as from story. Just as comics makes a trip to the center of the Earth or the farthest reaches of the cosmos possible, so too have dinosaurs always interacted with man in the pages of comics. Therefore as to what Jurassic Park as a comic can offer is nothing really special to the medium, and additionally neither too can it offer the deeper themes of the movie (and novel) mainly that nature is a very powerful force and a force whose power should not be played with. I noticed at the end of the movie for the first time something interesting. I had always figured out that the birds flying away were kind of a representation of what the dinosaurs had become (and dinosaurs are more closely linked to birds than reptiles) but so too did the final shot show the adaptability of two species who have had their opportunity being the dominant creatures on Earth. The dinosaurs had become birds and learned to fly, but so too had the humans built helicopters and learned to fly. I am not even sure if the director had intended this as a small statement at the end of the movie, but I noticed it anyway, but this highlights the other main problem with trying to transform this to comic format, that the deeper scientific message is lost when talking about dinosaurs in the comic medium. Additionally a problem is that the source material kind of leaves a lot of possibilities open at the end of it, but not really in a way that what has come before can be matched in a realistic way. Unless time travel were to become possible, for the foreseeable future every dinosaur story in whatever form of fiction (including its sequels) has to compete with JP for the Wow factor, and so far everything has come up short.
The origin stage of any hero is one of the most defining aspects of the character’s personality. In the case of those with superpowers, one of the crucial moments in the characters’ career is the first time they use these powers, and generally by some sort of accident. What is a little abnormal though is how the stretchy characters are used in finding out their powers. Whereas a super strong character might lift something amazing, or a flying character might not fall off of something, the stretchy character seems to have a good chance of finding out the source of their powers ... by catching an arbitrary object, which if it had been left to fall to the ground, might have required a few minutes to clean up (or maybe nothing would have happened at all.) In terms of the application of powers across the spectrum of comics, stretching is a fairly rare power. Generally speaking it has been used in a more comedic sense (a point which I made before) although Reed Richards is an obvious example of a far more serious character (or as another example Ralph Dibny during 52) but even he is not immune from a rather lame manner in which his powers are discovered.
Writing such characters poses some challenges. Reed’s intelligence and the humour of the Elongated Man and Plastic Man are more defining aspects of their characters than their ability to stretch their limbs, but I think here that the main problem is that with any character that the easy way out is often taken with the discovery of their powers. That it makes sense for a character to learn that they can fly when they accidentally trip and fall off of a skyscraper. With the stretching characters, it just so happens that the easiest way to show this is in a fairly bland manner, which as ever is when a better writer is needed.
Recently I have rewatched the Fantastic Four movies for reasons which I mostly don't want to share. Not so much because of my interest in the movies or the characters, though they are entertaining enough. My husband decided that he would like to join me in watching them, as he usually does when I watch a superhero movie. He is usually not much interested in comics, but he uses the movies as a way to connect with me and my hobby which doesn't require him to get into the medium itself. At the end of the first movie he told me something sweet though a bit misguided and inaccurate, that I am kind of like Sue Storm to his Reed Richards. First of all my husband is nothing like Reed Richards. He is smart and has a scientific mind, but not like Reed. Also I got the compliment, but Sue Storm is generally not shown to be as intelligent in the comics as she was in the movie.
While I was rewatching the movie though there was something which struck me as pretty cool. At one point Sue decided that Reed needs a break and takes him to the location of their first date - a planetarium. A planetarium was not the site of my first date, but I have been to the planetarium numerous times on dates with him (I used to live a block away from the only planetarium within 1000 kilometers.) A planetarium is much better than a movie though. Movies usually involve two hours of silence and then an awkward discussion trying to figure out what it meant before parting ways. As the narrative of a planetarium show is more like a lecture it is actually ok to interrupt. Unlike in a messed up movie like Inception where the director wants you to leave with doubt in your mind, a planetarium is not like that at all. If you are not allowed to interrupt during then you are usually encouraged to go ask questions later. So in one you can leave trying to discuss "Was that top ever going to stop spinning?" and in the other you can just have your questions answered about the rings of Saturn or whatever.
Some people don't find astronomy to be very fascinating (though I am not sure why) but that also works out as to why it is a good idea. Usually when you go you can have some privacy from others unlike in a packed movie theater. In fact of all the planetariums that I have ever been in, I am not sure if more than 10% were more than half full. Then there is the added bonus that no one takes dates to planetariums ever and that it seems to be a spontaneous act as opposed to something generic like a movie. It kind of sets the tone for the budding relationship that "I do things which are different and I am probably a lot of fun and ready for random adventures and experiences." So I fully approve of Reed and Sue's first date. It appeared to be a nerdy default date for two scientists, but it sounds pretty amazing to me.
It has been a long time since I mentioned the website Bad Astronomy (a long time) but that means I don't read it often. Usually though there is not as much which can be related to comic themes so I just leave the two separate. Last night though I was reading an interesting article on "Ten Things Your Don't Know About the Earth" I am always a little cautious about such claims because often times there are some really obvious things in there and also there can be some subjective analysis. However, this article was fairly entertaining but it is #10 on the list that I should draw everyone's attention to. Due to my recent overanalysis of some science stuff from movies, it might be evident that I have rewatched the Fantastic Four movies from the last decade. I am not much of a Fantastic Four fan and I know that movie Galactus is not the same as comic Galactus, but the author of the blog (Phil Plaitt) makes some interesting observations about the energy needed to blow apart an Earth - 2 x 1032Joules, or 200 million trillion trillion Joules, which is roughly the amount of energy that if we blew up the entire arsenal of the Earth once per second it would take 160,000 years to obliterate the Earth or all of the energy of the sun emits in a week (all number crunching courtesy of Phil Plaitt.) In the movie we see the following image (one of a sequence of Galactus disappearing):
The point here is that the moon is visible, which means that while this version of Galactus is bigger than the Earth that the entity is still on the same scale. The sun is about 330, 000 times more massive than the Earth, and accounts for 99.86% of the mass of the entire solar system. In terms of the power that Galactus would have to possess therefore compared to the sun in order to be able to consume planets is really quite high. He would have to be using power several degree of magnitude higher than any source of power that mankind has ever witnessed. (the same holds true for the Death Star as well, sorry Star Wars fans.).
Since the beginning of the new 52 there are still a lot of characters missing (some of whom are fan favourites.) On a recommendation this week I went back and checked out the first four issues of the series Vibe. I am not if it is for me, but I did have a strange suspicion of what might happen (so this is kind of a speculative spoiler.) In this series Amanda Waller is charge of Cadmus as well as the Suicide Squad. Unlike the comic stories of Cadmus which were mostly responsible for the creation of Superboy and a few others, there is another version of Cadmus and that is from Justice League Unlimited (the television series). In both series Cadmus is used to counter balance the power of the Justice League, which is feared to be too powerful for Earth's heroes. At the same time JLU reintroduced some of the characters from the Super Friends (in appearance though not in name) and a clone of Supergirl that looked much like Power Girl. In JLA's Vibe Gypsy is shown as one of the main characters as she is trapped in a room full of other containment cells, but then the question is who else is in those cells? Some of the old infinity Inc. characters have been reintroduced in Earth 2, but there are still quite a few missing, and as there are so many other similarities it makes me wonder whether the writers are going to copy any other parts of that story, especially with the creation of the armies. Perhaps Jade and Donna are Gypsy's neighbours waiting to be set free?