DC Yanks the Emergency Brake & Derails Kate Kane (aka Batwoman’s) Love Life

Batwoman and Maggie SawyerIt was the kiss that rocked DC Comics Universe/s and kept LGBTQ comic fans coming back for more, waiting to see what would happen next. Well, now we know, and as usual when it comes to DC’s forward thinking universes, we are left sorely disappointed, yet again.

After so many well told Batwoman Stories, writers J. H. Williams, III and W. Haden Blackman are calling it quits on the series as of December and leaving DC to deal with the backlash that is certain to happen. I’m left wondering what will become of yet another Batwoman character? Until 2009, when Greg Rucka (W) and J. H. Williams, (III) (A) revived the character in a meaningful way, Batwoman had always been a second rate super heroine, always playing second fiddle to another main character’s story line. In the 50s & 60s she was Batman’s reason for NOT being gay, and in 2006 she was Rene Montoya’s (the Question) side kick. It never ends well for Batwoman when she’s paired with egotistical super heroes, but there was hope this time that Batwoman/Kate would find happiness in a world full of corruption and evil.

After reading the news last night, however, all hopes for Batwoman’s happily ever after are dashed. Here’s the thing, why? Why will the editors at DC not allow this marriage to happen? Everyone knows that Gotham mirrors New York, and DC’s main headquarters . . . New York. Last I knew same-sex marriage was legal in New York, so why not Gotham? But of course that’s not how this will end. They won’t have the balls to be honest in the comic and have the characters deal with the inequality of marriage when it comes to homosexuals. Truth be told, I don’t expect it will be dealt with at all. I really don’t expect the series to continue without Williams and Blackman. If DC decides to bring new writers on board for the series, I don’t expect it to last long. Batwoman has flourished with the exceptional writing of these two guys, but she does not have a history that will allow her to continue without them. She simply does not have what Batman, or any other main stay character does. She’s been brutally stabbed to death, stabbed in the heart yet again, but survived, and beaten and bruised since her inception in 1956. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her go the way of previous Batwoman characters.

Bottom line here is that I’m angry. I’m angry that DC accepted the GLAAD award back in 2012, I’m angry that they got all the attention they did for introducing the first mainstream transgender character in Batgirl (which they’ve not really done anything with, by the way), and I’m angry that they would make such a stupid decision like this one. It seems to me that DC has been making a lot of bad decisions of late when it comes to their approach to equality (having Orson Scott Card write a Superman story comes to mind). I now have to decide whether or not I’m willing to quit the DC universe completely to protest such bad decisions.

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Why Comics, Part 2: The Study of American Culture

Back at the end of May, I attempted to explain when and why I got into comics, and for the most part, that entry (click here) gave a good, solid, down and dirty explanation of the when. It even touches on the why, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What it fails to do, however, and what I hope to do here, is explain more about what keeps me spending $30-$50 a week on comics (a budget that is extreme, to say the least).

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Comics Code: Alive and Well Until 2011

Comics CodeI’ve been reading a LOT of books about comics lately: four in fact, at one time.  I read one chapter a day and then switch to a different book the next day. This is working really well because the four books I’m reading all have to do with the history of comics, and more specifically, the era of the “comics code”.  In fact, I’m even reading Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. Hard to have an opinion on something if you’ve never read the source, so I’ve been slogging my way through that one as well (my original opinion has not changed much).

This weekend I found myself on the final three chapters of Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code by Amy Kiste Nyberg, and I decided I wanted to finally FINISH one of the four books, and I did.  My impressions of the book? Honestly I was thrilled and relieved to find that it was not just another rehashing of Fredric Wertham and his crusade against the comic book industry.  Of course he’s included and in fact has his own chapter, but the entire book is NOT focused on him.   Read the rest of this entry »

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The Silver Age of DC Comics: 1956-1970


Front Cover

As promised, here is a short review of Paul Levitz’s latest text on DC comics, The Silver Age of DC Comics: 1956-1970.  This book is of particular interest to me because of my research in the origins of Batwoman.  As I’ve mentioned before, Batwoman made her debut in 1956 in Detectives Comics #233 and continued off and on until 1979 when she was brutally murdered.  I had high hopes that this text might expand a bit on Batwoman and perhaps have further insight into her creation and the role she played in the new Bat Family.  I’m afraid I was extremely disappointed in that area, but here is what I found after looking through this text and once again comparing it to the behemoth 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth Making.

First, as in the text I reviewed earlier on Levitz’s The Golden Age of DC Comics, one thing that is completely new to this text is an interview conducted by Levitz’s.  This time, he interviews comics’ great Neal Adams.  I read this interview and enjoyed it, but I certainly would not have bought the book for that alone.  I then went through and compared the actual written text, essay if you will, dealing with the silver age of comics to that which is found in the 75 Years text.  As with The Golden Age text, I found little difference.  It is pretty much word for word what you’ll find in 75 Years.  


Back Cover

I then randomly went through the rest of this text, which has only images and captions, and compared that to the larger 75 Year text.  Usually, just when I thought I had found a unique picture, I would flip a few pages one direction or the other and find the same picture in the other text, sometimes enlarged or sometimes reduced.  With that said, I do believe there are MANY additional silver age pictures in this text.  In 75 Years Levitz’s uses 192 pages to discuss and illustrate the silver age of comics.  But this newer text, The Silver Age of DC Comics, is a whopping 391 pages.  That’s nearly 200 pages more (if you take out the first 13 pages for the interview).  Those pages have to contain images that 75 Years does not.

Bottom line, if you love comics as much as I do, you’ll definitely enjoy Paul Levitz’s The Silver Age of DC Comics, even if you already own the 18 pound brick of 75 Years.  It’s well worth the money and a little easier to handle weight and size wise.

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A Look at Batgirl #22 and A Fresh Start for an Old Superhero–Miss Fury #s 1-4

Anyone interested in DC’s New 52 Batgirl, should head on over to DestroyTheCyborg (destroythecyb.org) and check out my review of Batgirl #22.  There are definitely some surprises in this issue, and it left me wondering what the future for Batgirl might hold.  I don’t want to spoil anything here, so check it out at your local comics store and be sure to read the review.

Miss FuryAlso, for anyone who harkens back to the Golden Age of comics, you might want to check out Dynamite’s take on an old superhero, Miss Fury.  We are now up to issue #4, and I attempt (struggle might be a better word) to review issues 1-4 over at DestroyTheCyborg.  I am impressed with the writer and illustrator’s apparent knowledge of the original Miss Fury who started her career in 1941 as the Black Fury before a name change and a promotion to comic book form a year later duped her Miss Fury.  The new creators try to capture it all in this thrilling, but often confusing retake.  Check it out.

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Writing for DestroytheCyborg

I’m so excited to be working with the folks at DestroytheCyborg (destroythecyb.org), reviewing some of my favorite comics.  My first post was yesterday on Animal Man #21. My second review should appear today on Captain Marvel #13, one of my favorite comics right now.  I was so excited about doing these reviews yesterday that I didn’t even get the chance to read Batwoman #21.  That will be first on my list of things to do tonight.

Keep an eye open for my review of Paul Levitz’s Silver Age of DC Comics, 1956-1970 in the next few days.

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Review: Golden Age of DC Comics, 1935-1956


Impressive cover, right? I was so excited when I saw this series on Amazon. I know Paul Levitz’s work and I hoped this would be everything I’ve come to expect from him. And in one way, it is. But only because I’ve read most of it before. Let me explain.

Lesson number one for me here is to ALWAYS click the “show more” in61fK6bDqf4L._SY300_ the book description. I read the first paragraph and was sold. The book arrived yesterday, and I anxiously tore into the package. The cover is, as mentioned, impressive. I opened the book and began eagerly scanning the pages, and that is when it hit me. These images seemed really, really familiar to me. At that moment I did not have time to investigate further because I needed to head out the door for an appointment, but as soon as I returned, I pulled up the coffee tabel, went to my “laptop” desk, and grabbed my copy (all 18 pounds of it) of 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking also by Paul Levitz. I placed both books on the coffee table (takes a fairly stable table to hold them both) and began a page by page comparison.

To be fair, The Golden Age of DC Comics, 1935-1956 has an awesome interview by Paul Levitz with Joe Kubert. Beyond that, however, the books are very, very similar. The text portion is often reduced somewhat from the 75 Years version, but most of the pictures are the same. To change things up a bit, they have taken smaller pictures from 75 Years and enlarged them in The Golden Age and vice versa. Had I clicked the “show more” under the description on Amazon, I would have read “Expanded from the Eisner Award–winning XL book, 75 Years of DC Comics . . . .” I probably still would have been sold because it states that it is expanded, and in one way, I guess it is because it does have the interview with Joe Kubert. Other than that, however, I’ve notice more reductions, at least in the text, than expansions.

I currently have the other two, The Silver Age of DC Comics and The Bronze Age of DC Comics, on pre-order. Whether or not I will keep them on pre-order is yet to be determined. There are several reasons a person might wish to order these books: 1) if they have not bought 75 Years of DC Comics, 2) you don’t wish to spend $130+ on the larger book, 3) you’re not sure how you would handle a 720 page book that weighs in just over 18 pounds and is 15.6 x 3.5 x 11.4 inches big. While The Golden Age is a large book at 400 pages, 5.5 pounds, and 12.8 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches large, it’s still a LOT more reasonable to handle than 75 Years. I’m also hoping that as I continue to look through the book, I’ll notice further additions of images not included in 75 Years. If I do, then yes, I’ll keep the other two on order. And even if I don’t, I have to admit that handling this book is much easier than trying to deal with 75 Years.

If you own 75 Years and decide to buy The Golden Age, please do not be disappointed that much of the content is the same. Go in knowing that and you’re sure to love The Golden Age as much as 75 Years.

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Where Do I Stand on Fredric Wertham?

First, let me say that I was raised in the south, so there are several ‘rules’ that have been drilled into my very being: 1) respect your elders (which Wertham would have been), and 2) NEVER speak ill of the dead (which Wertham certainly is, since 1981).  With that being said, I will attempt to convey what I think about the role he has played, and yes, continues to play, in the comics industry.

For those who may not be sure of who Fredric Wertham is, he is most famous for his book entitled Seduction of the Innocent: The InfluencePicture of the cover of Fredick Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent book of Comic Books on Today’s Youth, published in 1954.  But you do not have to pick this book up to learn about Wertham’s role in attempting to ban comic books in the late 1940s and 50s. Read any book dealing with the history of the golden and silver age comics and you will get your share of Wertham.

To be fair and not judge just on what others have said about Wertham, I bought Seduction and have been reading it, along with three other books dealing with comics history, over the past week or so. I’m about a third of the way through the book, and to be honest, I’m wondering how I will survive the final two-thirds. The reading is repetitive and lacks any type of documentation or bibliography. Wertham bashes comics relentlessly and provides his “case studies” as evidence of the damage that comics were doing to the youth of his day, responsible for creating, almost single-handedly it would seem, juvenile delinquency.

While reading all of these texts, I ran across a piece from 2012 by Carol L. Tilley entitled “Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics”. Tilley gained access to Wertham’s case files that were donated to the Library of Congress at the time of his death, and after sifting through boxes of notes, she has managed to prove that Wertham did indeed take ‘liberties’ with his research.

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No More “Dirty Rotten Coppers” in Comics or american comic book chronicles, 1960-64 Review

My research into comics history has lately been engrossed in the 40’s and 50’s to see what really spurred the industry to create the Comics Code of 1955, with all of it’s prohibitions against violence and gore in comics.  Those who study comics have all heard the name of Fredic Wertham and his contributions to the anticomics movement.  Even though he’s not one-handedly responsible for the code, and in fact stated that a code was NOT enough, he did play a key role in the adoption of the code by most publishers.

But this post is intended to step back from that particular era, and look at the publication of a new series of books that deal with the history of comics.  The series is entitled American Comic Book Chronicles.  The two books that have thus far been published are The 1960s: 1960-1964 and The 1980s: 1980-1989.  This post will look specifically at the 1960-1964 book, or the first decade after the establishment of the Comics Code.

BookFirst, let’s discuss the overall appearance of the book, which, quite frankly, is about all I’ve had time to look at thus far.  I think the cover could be quite deceiving for many.  It is basically 8 1/2 x 11 and looks like it could be extremely text heavy.  We all know that when it comes to books, the first two things that grab our attention are 1) The title and 2) the cover.  The book is hardbound and the cover is glossy, two things that gives the reader hope that the inside will be more than just another text based history with a few black and white images in the middle (like so many books on the history of comics are).

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Batman complete


I’m thrilled to report that I have managed to complete the issues of Batman that I need. Thanks to all of those who helped make this happen. While I had to buy some issues from EBay, I managed to not pay astronomical amounts to get those. Once I’ve finished this project, I hope to donate all of the issues I’ve bought to the MSU Comics Special Collection. I would like to see others have access to these comics.

So as of now, I’ve managed to collect all but like two comics I need. Actually, maybe just one now thar I’ve learned the other Detective Comics I still need is actually reprinted in a Batman Family issue. Otherwise, all I need is Justice League of America #7. If anyone has this and can send me a digital copy of the cover and the story that Batwoman appears in, that would be great.