In this universe, there's only one absolute... everything freezes

I went from getting a song stuck inside my head, to creating a list based on a line in that song, to then wondering about a disparity in that list.  My list is one which tries to identify all the characters in DC with cold based powers or abilities.  I had never thought about it before but most cold based characters are villains.  There is no readily apparent answer for this as those characters with cold based powers (Icemaiden or Iceman) do a pretty decent job of being a hero with what they have got.  However, digging a little deeper does reveal a few things.  I am thinking first of all of Batman and Robin (the movie) in which Mr. Freeze encases various people in ice, explaining that the heroes have 11 (it might have been 13) minutes to save them before they die.  This is partially true.  A good lifeguard or emergency room doctor will tell you that a patient is not dead until they are warm and dead (as was sort of realistically portrayed in the Abyss) and this is so much true that a lot of heart surgery in modern years involves putting the patient into near hypothermia.  This overlooks something about the situation though, people who can be resuscitated in this way have generally gotten cold slowly (at least more slowly than a cold gun allows) in which case most people would start to suffer brain damage after 3 minutes without oxygen.  That having been said, a lot of the offensive abilities of ice powers are portrayed as potentially fatal.  An ice attack would not have to involve encasing the head though, which is what the heroic characters do.  To be honest I think there is something even more primal at play here and something which social workers that deal with the homeless in cold climates have to worry about, that being that the cold is a lot more dangerous than the heat in a certain sense.  If you fall asleep in +50 degree whether (that's Celsius) you might wake up dehydrated.  On the other hand if you fall asleep in -50 degree weather chances are you never do wake up.  An aversion to cold is something which is natural in most people (yes, even for Canadians) so it is not surprising that the ability to control cold is usually portrayed as something which only villains do.  Incidentally the ability to control cold also created about 500 bad cold puns in Batman and Robin
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Clash of the Comics 25 - She-Hulk and Polaris

                                                                                        

She-Hulk vs. Polaris

Origin:

Took a blood transfusion from her cousin Bruce Banner in order to save her life after she was shot.  She developed Hulk like powers afterwards.  

She is the daughter of Magneto and half-sister to Wanda. Her mother died in a plane crash and her powers did not manifest naturally. Oh, and she has natural green hair!

R: Tie - I like both of those origins, though they are also both kind of unoriginal.   

U:  Tie - Both characters have about the same level of originality and take their roots from more well established male counterparts.

Powers:

Superhuman strength, endurance and a healing factor.  Also unlike her cousin who usually loses his intelligence when enraged, she maintains hers when transformed.   

She has the same powers as Magneto, as she is also able to control electric and magnetic bonds and fields around her. Her powers are a little less developed than her father’s however.

R:  I think She-Hulk would win that, unless she worn a lot of iron into battle.     

U:  She-Hulk - Hulk can beat Magneto so a clash between their weaker versions should result similarly?

Costume:  

Usually some version of a unitard, with a large vertical white stripe.  Never seen in torn purple pants.   

Other than her skin, everything she wears is green. She has sported a few other looks such as a purple costume and a regular X-men one, but the green has been the most common one by far. She probably also wears a green underwear!

R: There is nothing wrong with green underwear, but I will go with the more iconic She-Hulk look here.  Anyway she has green skin, that beats a green costume.       

U: She-Hulk - I went and asked ten people outside a club and nine out of ten picked She-Hulk!

Personality:

Brainy lawyer turned superhuman behemoth makes her into a take-no-prisoners type of person.

She was the first person from the Magneto family to change sides and join with the X-men. Likewise, she is also the least complicated of the bunch.

R: I like She-Hulk here, she is the kind of person I would want to be if I was a Hulk. 

U: Polaris – Sure She-Hulk might be better known to be brainy, but Polaris isn’t a pushover herself and she has studied geophysics. 

Aesthetics:

I would think that a female version of the Hulk would not be very feminine but writers have consistently portrayed her as such.  

Although she has been subdued quite a number of times and had mind tricks played on her, she has stayed right in the head as has her relationship with Havok. She might have a spot for being in the least number of relationships!

R: I will say Polaris for having something more of a fleshed out story at times.    

U: She-Hulk’s a few years old series was great for doing just that! I never understood the reason for introducing new She-Hulks afterwards.

Best Story:

She has a pretty long publication history with lots of good stories, but her intervention in World War Hulk to try and calm down her out-of-control cousin is noteworthy.  

Poor Polaris lost her powers in the causality of M-day. However she later regained her powers when Apocalypse chose her as one of his four horsemen and repowered her with celestial technology.

R:  I will go with World War Hulk here, even though she was just a supporting character.    

U: Polaris - That didn’t work out well for She-Hulkie, but Polaris was able to break off from Apocalypse’s control all by herself!

Fun Fact:  

Routinely broke the fourth wall long before Deadpool ever did.  

Her choice of codenames has been a bit strange from Magnetrix to Malice to Magneto the Second.

R:  Polaris, just because I am never a big fan of breaking the fourth wall. 

U: *Brings hammer* Breaking the fourth wall is usually loads of fun!

Media Appearances:

Supporting roles in various animated Hulk television series.  

She has appeared in a few animated X-men episodes.

R:  Tie, neither one is all that well represented. 

U: Tie – pretty much like mirror images.

Current Whereabouts:

Working alongside her cousin as well as a number of other Hulks.

Currently still in outer space ever since the conflict with Vulcan but set to appear in a new story titled “Five Miles South of the Universe.”

R:  Polaris, because I would rather be in outer space.   

U: She-Hulk - Any place might be better than “Five Miles South of the Universe” *gets teleported* Hey! I was kidding!

She-Hulk : 4 + 5 = 9

Polaris :3 + 2 = 5

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Insert hero name here

My boyfriend and I spontaneously went to the movies last night, and after a string of action movies I got a choice.  Actually this is not really the case, I just sit simply by as movies like Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean and X-Men get chosen for me, leaving me with a long string of choices.  I was in the mood for a romantic comedy, but because of how late we left, we had limited opportunity for choice (not to mention there are not many romantic comedies out at the moment.)  The choice was between Monte Carlo and Larry Crowne, and despite being a Leighton Meester fan (who is in Monte Carlo) I decided on the more adult Larry Crowne.  I was not expecting much out of this movie, but it was better than the trailer would lead me to believe. 

 

As we are prone to do we showed up to the theater about ten minutes after the movie started, intent on missing the trailers.  I am not a big fan of trailers, the concept is kind of weird to me as it is one of the few times when you can preview what your life is going to be like in the future (by showing you glimpses of what you will be seeing.)  If the same feature worked for other events in life (for things like parties, day trips or sexual encounters) it might have a bit more relevance to me, but I mostly use movies as a form of escapism, so a preview of them is not very necessary for me (I might feel differently if it was another Star Wars movie.)   Out attempt to miss the traielrs was not completely successful as we got in with about two or three of them left.  As we walked I saw an action sequence for Jessica Chastian in a movie called The Debt about Mossad agents. 

 

My first impression though was that it was Hayley Atwell in the new Captain America movie (as Peggy Carter), an impression which I soon came to realize was wrong.   However, my first impression stuck with me, as I wondered what if it was Peggy Carter, or at least that I could imagine it to be.  I am not sure if that is a very clear idea, but basically what I mean is - are there any movies which could be easily hijacked to simply be superhero movies?  Of course this wouldn't work with any superpowered characters but there are all kinds of non-super powered characters out there.  The Peacemaker starring George Clooney, used the superhero name and was ostensibly based on the character, but the portrayal was so much of a departure from the character as to be unrecognizable.  Still in this case, it could be easy to see how maybe Batman could have had a very similar adventure (stopping terrorists from blowing up the United Nations Headquarters).  There are of course a lot of non-super powered characters across a wide variety of genres in comics, and it got me to wondering just how many movies could sort of be comic book movies with just a simple switch of character names. 

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A Female Super Genius?

I have sort of been over this topic before, but as a woman studying science this one is always of interest to me.  It is often debated because of various chracters in the Marvel universe claiming to be the 7th smartest individual on Earth (I think that is what Amadeus Cho claims to be?) but without Marvel creating its own list of who is smartest it is hard to make such a list.  The fact that such intelligent people are trying to quantify intelligence is contradictory, because no intelligent person would attempt to do this, as intelligence is multifaceted and very complex.  Is Beethoven's genius of being able to compose complex symphonies in his head without being able to hear them (this being after he had gone deaf) comparable to Rutherford, an expert in chemistry and physics?  Not at all.  What is strange out of such a ranking though, is that a female character is never considered for the top ten.  This is different in DC which doesn't have a top ten per se, but even there where most would say Barbara Gordon would be one of the most intelligent, she is not really a scientist (though maybe could be considered a computer scientist).  It should not be news anymore that women are breaking down doors in terms of scientific achievement.  Just yesterday the winners of the inaugural Google Science Project Awards were given out and the winners in the categories of 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18 were all girls (they got trophies made out of Lego).  They won the recognition with projects dealing with such scientific concepts as heterocyclic amines, AMPK and cisplatin resistance, and airborne particulate matter (which even as a soon to be fourth year science student I can't say that I know very much about any except the third).   
 

 

Marvel Comics was revolutionary in the 1960s as it made it cool to not be cool.  The new breed of heroes were portrayed as either science geeks, outsiders or both and fans came to them in flocks to find someone they could better relate to than a multi-billionaire vigilante, an alien from a distant planet or an Amazon warrior.  In efforts to continually re-imagine themselves are comic book companies not missing an excellent opportunity (especially in the light of an increasing role of women in science and an increasing readership of comics by girls and women) to create a woman super-genius character?   
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Marine Corps Ball with a Special Guest


 
 
 
I was actually kind of surprised recently that Mila Kunis accepted an invitation to the Marine Corps Ball via a youtube request.   She was promoting her new movie with her co-star from "Friends with Benefits" and she was semi-goaded into going, out of a sense of patriotism, but also seemingly out of a sense of publicity (don't get me wrong I like Mila) because if she said no, it would not have looked as good.  Most comic book heroes are seen as separate from the field of publicity and media, but they do use it to various degreees, from media hero like Booster Gold (or at least how he used to be portrayed) to heroes using the media to broadcast a message (both Superman and Wonder Woman routinely do this, with Wonder Woman having appeared on DC's version of the View) while other heroes prefer anonymity, some such as Batman even going so far at times to seem to not to exist.  Still with modern media the way it is, such that any one with a digital camera or web camera can become an instant star, would such propositions not occur in the comic book world to heroes (or let's just say heroines.)  Would a relatively pro-military character such as Miss Marvel say yes to such a proposition as an attempt to be nationalistic?  More so it is interesting to conceive how much super heroes would over rule the daily lives of inhabitants of a comic boom world.  Is it even realistic to think that sports stars or actors would be even paid attention to anymore?  Would people even go to action movies when they could just could get a better show by turning on the evening news (with probably a more coherent plot than most action movies anyway)?  
  
I think another interesting question is whether such a guy would ever really be given a chance in a comic?  As we have seen from the outburst of elation by some fans over a possible Wonder Woman-Superman romance, comic fans do not like to see the hero or heroine end up with the average Joe or Jane, rather they have to have some high profile love interest, wherein if they are not a superhero they should at least have some other defining quality to make them highly desirable.  Such a romance, even if it was at least one date would perhaps give name to the forgotten heroes as opposed to those who have it given to them through fame. 
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Can we all have a temptress?

The concept of a woman as temptress has been a constant one throughout history, either in fiction or often in religious texts.  The ability of women to look attractive is portrayed as the only thing which has the capacity to defile the minds of the males, for without the temptation nothing would happen.  Wars have been fought over adultery (the Trojan War being a good example) in which case it is usually the woman who gets blamed for these actions.  Even into modern times a woman who chose to reveal her body was considered scandalous.  This is partially why fishnet stockings were often considered of ill repute, as they did not cover the whole leg, rather offered a glimpse of the flesh beneath.  In the modern liberated times women are mostly free to dress as we wish, saving perhaps for our own sensibilities and modesty.  Now instead of women being condemned for showing skin they are instead ... oh wait ... still condemned for displaying skin.  Not in the same manner though, now women get the stigma of "slut" or "whore" if they dress in a certain way, and if some sort of violent action occurs to them, they often get partially blamed for having instigated it.   Such has been the case with a young woman dressed in miniskirt raped and killed in New Jersey a few years ago, and certain municipalities in Florida are trying to institute rules about just what exactly women are allowed to wear after dark.  
 
This brings me in a roundabout way to the DC reboot.  Some characters are being drawn in a continually more realistic way (I applaud the continued appearance of Wonder Woman) but others are getting a decidedly more sexed up appearance, chiefly Harley Quinn and Starfire.  
 

 
We all know the adage that sex sells,and for certain that is at play here, but also at play in my opinion is once again this sort of self-contradictory demand for women to be both attractive while also not acting out of societal norms of decency (well maybe not as much as with Harley.)  Should these characters be allowed to wear whatever they want, even if it is really the artists making the decisions and not them?  Of course.  Do they make sense from a super hero of villain practical standpoint?  Not at all.  In fact they aren't even really fashion conscious.  Certainly though, and hopefully such a story arc never occurs, if one thinks to the extremes and either Harley or Starfire got raped in some story, would the appreciation for their costumes stay the same?  I wouldn't think so.  After all rape is a fairly unused plot device in comics (and rightfully so) but the most famous rape was of DC's poster girl for decency, Sue Dibny, leaving no moral ambiguity for the fans to deal with.  Would fans be able to grasp a scantily clad character getting raped?  I highly doubt it.   
 
(by the way for some good rants on Harley's and Starfire's costumes check here and here,  courtesy of thehummingbird and Babs)
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Some toys make the grade, others don't

In terms of comics based on toys, there is petty much no middle ground.  The comics either never took off, or they took off marvelously.  The best examples of comics based on toys would by far have to be G.I. Joe, so much so that many regard the characters more as comic book characters than anything else.  There are other successful versions of toys in comics, such as Transformers or indirectly Star Wars.  There are also some huge failures.  What brings this to mind is the the one-shot story which ran throughout He-Man stories in the late 1970s which has been popping up in various places as I have been reading issues in various titles from this period.  it was presumably both sort of an attempt to gain interest in both the toys and the upcoming DC miniseries. 

Just a random panel 
In the story He-Man gets his powers but almost immediately Superman also intervenes.  Superman;s role here was primarily to shore up interest in the mini-series, even though I would argue Wonder Woman would be a much better characters to use (as both incorporate in both magic and science).   
 The attempt at establishing He-Man as a popular character failed, as he bounced around to other publishers, to Marvel for a while and then even to lesser known ones from there.  But his fate is not too different from other such attempts, such as Centurions and Inhumanoids, neither of which ever gained any popularity.  The reasons for failure is not readily apparent.  Most toy based comic titles are team based, even if they do focus on one or two characters.  The popularity of the toys themselves may be an indicator, but He-man was also a very popular toy line which never translated well into comic format (whereas Inhumanoids and Centurions were never really popular in either format).  I guess as always the success of titles comes down to intangibles like writing and art, but also relevance to modern society and an interest in the story being told.  Except for the lingering presence of toys in comics today based on holdovers from this time, there are few new comics about toys which spring up now, so this is very representative of the era of comics from the late 70s to the 80s and is almost anachronistic to see, almost like the Hostess Twinkie superhero advertisements.  I guess what He-man teaches us though is that not even two big names (He-Man and Superman) means success.  
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Best improvised Wonder Woman costumes

Diana almost always sticks to her regular costume as her approach is not so much based on stealth or surreptitiousness.  Compared to Batman who is often in some disguise, the need rarely is there for Diana.  Still there have been a few instances where she has donned other clothes.  Here are some of my favourites: 

She was impersonating a member of a Chinese cult here (from Wonder Woman vol 1, issue 285) 
 
I didn't much like the John Byrne run on Wonder Woman, but this costume from a dream sequence where she was battling the Cheetah was good. 
This is my favourite, after accidentally traveling back in time she disguised herself as Miss America so that her mother would not find out she was there. 
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Magical Metals

 

As many of you know I have been spending a lot of time reading golden age comics as of late.  One of the things which is striking about golden age comics was a sort of reliance on the concepts that there were unlimited applications of the physical and chemical properties of the elements.  To be fair since that time there have been in fact a lot of discoveries and inventions related to the application of alloys and compounds.  Even compounds containing seemingly inert noble gases like Xenon have been created under certain conditions.  The early golden and silver age relied on a number of metals or compounds which were complete fictional creations - adamantium, vibranium, kryptonite and even the near forgotten Amazonium (the secret metal of the Amazons of which all all Wonder Woman's items were contructed.)  Of course some comic book logic applies here in that alloys were created which had no real way of existing, except maybe by an application of the concept that certain isotopes or specific alloys were undiscovered.  As an anachronistic remnant of the earlier comic book ages these metals still exist, but in today's comic book industry which usually strives for reality, sometimes the lack of chemical knowledge still hits a low.  Most apparent among these was in the two Iron Man movies.  The first one had a bit of a leap of logic as Tony creates his suit out of a titanium-gold alloy.  Though I know a fair bit about chemistry, I am not a metallurgist, but I still fail to see how a soft metal like gold would be successfully molded into an alloy, especially so when gold is not known for its ability to form alloys or compounds with other elements.  This was an overlookable error, and probably was just meant to sound cool (or to justify the gold appearance of the armour).  The bigger issue I had was with Iron Man 2, wherein Tony creates not just an alloy but an entirely new element.  The manner in which elements are created is quite complex, but suffice to say a few things were off with the depiction of the creation of the new element.  The size of the particle accelerator compared to the creation of a group of atoms was first of all a little off the mark.  From a chemical persepctive though the discovery of a new element is almost completely impossible in the manner in which it was presented here.  First of all, the way the periodic table of the elements was outlined was not random but was created because there were specific characteristics about elements which fit perfectly into the layout of the table.  This mean that there are no holes in the table to fill in with a new element.  Secondly because of this the only elements being discovered in modern times are highly radioactive and have half-lifes in the range of fractions of a second.  So even if it could be sythesized it would not last long enough to be made into anything useful.  Not to mention that for how big the atom was shown in the movie, that it would have been something more like in the area of the lanthanides based on how many electrons it was shown to have.  I could go on here, but anyone that has read this far has probably already had enough chemistry.  In closing I guess I don't mind so much the comic book logic that gives us alloys, but in the modern setting certain writers should really know better. 

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Dystopian Formula

England has always made an easy target for the location of a futuristic dystopian totalitarian style of society.  This has been for many reasons. First and maybe primarily most of the great dystopian writers have been British - Huxley, Orwell, and More are all British.  Secondly for much of the past 500 years, Great Britain has been at the leading edge of political developments, so it is easy to think of  the philosophical spark for a utopia to start there, from which a dystopia could result.  Thirdly it is an island and thus self contained in a sense.  This saves on explanation of external relations in a dystopian world.  While reading Flashpoint and its many tie-ins, the first impression that I had of the war between Wonder Woman and Aquaman was a mixture between 1984 and V for Vendetta.   I was hoping for some more developments on this theme in both the Wonder Woman and the Lois Lane tie-in but there has been little else revealed.  What is clear is that Great Britain is the setting for a a feministic version of a dystopian society where women are reprogrammed to be modern Amazons.  Has it taken the easy route to this concept?  I would say yes.  With the supposed destruction of Themyscira, there has been little justification why the Amazons would choose in its place the British Isles for their homeland, nor has there been really much reason as to why the Amazons might even want this island.  It seems like the writers are taking a short cut to achieve their desired end state by borrowing from the fictional achievements of others to achieve something which they didn't do much to build.  Of course in the end the final state of Flashpoint will be to reform the Justice League and battle the Reverse Flash, and the exploration of the dystopian society will only be a side note, but it still feels like something is being missed in the attempt to make this into something which so far it is not.  

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