Monday, June 4, 2007

Swimming Against The Manstream #3

Apologies for lateness; my pal Tink got me hooked on Showtime's "Weeds" (review to follow), and I scored a huge cache of 2000AD progs, so things have been a bit busy. :)

5. Pearl Penalosa (Ultra, Image): Neanderthals of the comics industry, take note - this is how you write women in the 21st century superhero genre. I don't think many people expected Joshua and Jonathan Luna to debut as strongly as they did with this Image miniseries, which depicts the everyday lives of three superheroines looking for love. The Lunas reportedly pitched their story as "Sex and the City meets Powers", and there's a degree of truth to that, except that those two templates tend to focus exclusively on one theme: with "Powers" it's violence, with "Sex and the City"... well, the name says it all, really. "Ultra" goes beyond that restriction, while keeping the problems Pearl and her friends face very true-to-life and genuine, without the reverence (or, in defiance of that, irreverence) that accompanies mainstream spandex stories. They were women first, superheroes second.

6. Edie Sawyer (X-Force, Marvel): Edie Sawyer was not a good person. She and the other members of Peter Milligan's X-Force were mutants, but Claremont would have a seizure if he'd seen them - loud, obnoxious, amoral celebrities who drank, used drugs, and had a turnover rate higher than just about any Marvel series. Edie stands out, though; despite her outrageous behavior, there was something accessible about her,especially when we'd catch glimpses of her life before she became a member of X-Force. And her death - a meaningless accident - resonated with the team long after they'd supposedly moved on. I put Edie on this list because, to me, she represents a certain breakthrough in female characterization; she's a very flawed individual, but she's not vilified for those flaws, as Jean Grey was, nor are the unhappy circumstances of her life exaggerated to make her a whore or an unsympathetic bitch. I should probably note that this place was originally occupied by Jessica Jones, an even greater representative of the notion that women can be imperfect without spiralling into madness or evil (or both), but as much as I loved her in "Alias", this list would require me to take "The Pulse" into account, and I'm more comfortable disavowing anything Bendis did with the character once "Alias" concluded. Edie wins out by virtue of consistency.