I believe the first Frank Miller comic I ever read was an old Spider-Man story from Marvel Team-Up #100. A bit of research tells me that it came out in the Finnish Spider-Man comic in 1984, four years after its original American publication. I couldn’t tell you if that was exactly when I actually read it, but it was probably around then, so I would’ve been around eight or nine years at the time, I guess.
It guest-starred the Fantastic Four, which was a kind of a big deal for me at the time. That story was also the first appearance of Karma, who later showed up in New Mutants. She didn’t make much of an impression on me. Neither did Miller’s art. I don’t remember much about the first time I read it, but at that age, just about every comic I read made some kind of an impact, so I do remember thinking that Spider-Man didn’t look right. At the time I was pretty much used to two artists’ work on Spider-Man: I thought Al Milgrom’s Spidey looked pretty good, and John Romita Jr.’s version of the web-head was awesome. (Looking back, just being able to tell them apart at that point is a little amazing to me. What a nerd I was. Good thing I’m spending my time on more productive things these days, as evidenced by this very post!)
Being a superhero is pretty serious business, but as Avengers #253 shows us, sometimes we all need a little me time, no matter where you are or what our boring uptight bosses think is appropriate workplace behavior.
Yes. Yes, she does, Hawkeye. Stop hatin’.
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I first read Watchmen when I was a kid. I’m not quite sure how old I was — probably somewhere around 13 or 14 or so, so it was around 1990. One of my best friends, a fellow comics geek, got me the trade paperback as a birthday present. It pretty much blew my mind… even if I didn’t quite get it, at first.
The language barrier was a part of it; at that age, my English was getting pretty good, but Watchmen didn’t make it easy on my vocabulary. More importantly, though, I was a kid, and it was Watchmen. That’s a kind of a challenging combination — a lot of the American politics, for example, went right over my head at that time. But I got the gist of the story, and as I read it over and over again — and I don’t want you to think that Watchmen was somehow special in that, actually, because that was the way I read all of my comics back then — I got more and more out of it as I got less stupid over time.
Also, there was a blue guy with his dick hanging out, which was an obvious bonus. An early lifetime of reading European comics ensured that this certainly wasn’t my first penis sighting on the printed page, but even so, I was a kid reading a superhero comic with a nekkid blue guy in it. You bet it left an impression. I still read it once or twice a year, because not only is it a great story, its storytelling techniques are groundbreaking, something that you couldn’t really do in any other form.
The Wasp recently bit the dust, with a little help from Thor, which means nothing to you if you’re not a comics geek, and may possibly drive you to incoherent rage, if you are. Whatever! I’m not going to go into that, but since I’ve recently been re-reading the early issues of Avengers as a part of my plan for the massive feat of going through the whole goddamn run, this seems like a good time to take a little trip in a time machine to the early days of Janet van Dyne. Her depiction back in the day was, uh, slightly different from what you see today.
The early Lee and Kirby issues are a lot of fun, but boy, you can tell that they’re old. In terms of equality of the sexes, progress had certainly been made from the days of the previous centuries, absolutely — but still, 1963 wasn’t exactly the most enlightened of eras. While the team had a female member from the get-go, the depiction of Janet van Dyne, the Wasp, was pretty much par for the course.
Particularly in the earliest issues, she makes Paris Hilton look deep by comparison: she’s completely unable to have a serious conversation about anything and has no interest in anything except looking pretty and getting attention… and Thor, as the team’s first encounter with each other in Avengers #1 demonstrates.
Ah, Wasp! Such a valuable addition to the team in those early days. In issue #2, she again reminds us of what she brings to the table.
“Thank you, Janet. I will now assess the threat this intruder’s handsomeness poses to us.”
Anyway, the thing with Thor proves to be a running theme in the early issues of Avengers. Issue #2 even has Janet drooling after Thor’s alter ego, the crippled Dr. Donald Blake.
Not that he holds a candle to the real deal, because she’s all about the God of Thunder. Why’s she fetching Thor, anyway? Because the Space Phantom just kicked the shit out of Iron Man, Giant-Man and the Hulk and it’s gonna take an uru hammer to put things right, but far be it from the winsome Wasp to keep her mind on the job.
Still, it’s not all roses. Thor’s crazy Asgardian digs don’t go down very well with Janet. (Let’s call that foreshadowing; after all, she becomes a fashion designer later on! Such classy outfits, too!) In issue #3, things come to a head.
“Verily, fair Janet, thou makest the Odinson most uncomfortable. Look yonder; thy boyfriend is right there. Also, the mighty Thor’s hair is metal, and at least I don’t look like a crash test dummy, thou loopy bitch.”
This one proves to be enough to finally piss off Henry Pym, also known as Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, very recently as Wasp, and, of course, most famously, Wife-Puncher-Man. True, he’s been studiously ignoring all advances from Janet, but as we all know, his patience has its limits. He reacts to the sight of his girlfriend flirting with another man in the most reasonable manner imaginable: by lifting her up into the air by her ass.
I don’t know, I guess these two deserve each other.
But as the issues went on, Wasp started to, you know, do things. Mostly, her role was to get real small and fly around the enemy, distracting them with knitting tips or her mysterious female intuition. On occasion, this even produced results. Not that it made much difference to her, as issue #5 demonstrates:
“Jan, you saved us all! You’re a hero!”
“Please discuss my boobs instead!”
By Avengers #8, the Wasp was apparently over Thor, presumably as a result of a rigorous program of ass-lifting by Dr. Pym. She finally grew up and moved on, got herself a brand new set of priorities:
And that’s progress.
I believe it speaks for itself:
That is all.
The modern readers of Captain America are undoubtedly aware of Sharon Carter, SHIELD’s Agent 13, as a hard-as-nails operative who knows her shit like few others — the manipulations of Doctor Faustus notwithstanding, of course. But she wasn’t always like that. Let’s just say that back in the day, even the mighty Marvel bullpen was not entirely hip on this whole equality thing, but you bet your ass they tried really hard.
Of course, the thing to keep in mind is that these things are very much products of their time. In the spirit of that whole 1960’s civil rights movement, these guys were trying pretty hard to liberate women in comics as well. We’re talking some serious zeitgeist here; sure, it’s stupid and laughable now, and looking back, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that they did a pretty half-assed job about it, but that was the age — baby steps, and all that.
Cap spent a lot of time being anything but enlightened, as far as women went. He had no problems hanging out with a black dude, but a woman who wanted to work? That was a big a no-go. The Sharon Carter of today is an ultra-competent woman who kicks ass with the best of them. She doesn’t need to prove a damn thing to anybody. But back in the late 60s, things were different. Sharon was still pretty competent, though typically portrayed to be that despite the inherent and nearly crushing handicap posed by her gender — as in these panels from 1969’s Captain America #114 by Stan “The Man” Lee and Johnny “Ring-A-Ding” Romita:
Of course, just as soon as she’s done kicking the crap out of a couple of evil AIM agents while explaining that she’s just as competent as any man and that she’s inspired by the greatest master of hand-to-hand combat that ever lived, she promptly gets attacked by, uh, the Walking Stiletto. (more…)
Fact #1: Captain America can find even the most cleverly disguised Nazi camps.
Camp Reichland! Those Bund types really know how to keep a low profile, don’t they?
Fact #2: Captain America has the best enemies.
That’s the Camera Fiend. With his, y’know, Camera of Doom. (Well, it shoots the Darts of Doom. I’m not sure if it’s actually called the Camera of Doom. Perhaps it’s actually called the Fiendish Camera.)
Fact #3: Captain America likes it when people drown.
It just goes to show that you don’t need to be super to be a dick.
Fact #4: Captain America is a snappy dresser.
I guess this is better than the time he decided to dress up as an old woman.
Fact #5: Captain America loves surprise visits.
Not quite pictured: Hermann Göring. Cap has friends in high places!
Fact #6: Captain America gives the best advice.
He also has the most impressionable sidekick.
At the risk of stating more of the obvious, The All-New Atom by Gail Simone is also pretty awesome, as you can plainly see:
The fact that that they’re in the mouth of a huge Japanese monster only makes it better — and why, yes, Virginia, only five pages later said huge Japanese monster ends up having terrible monster sex with another huge Japanese monster, with a small town making do for a bed.
Comics. Guaranteed to be better than anything you’ve got to offer.
Just in case somebody out there isn’t aware of this simple fact, I feel I should be absolutely clear here: The Immortal Iron Fist by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja rocks so hard that even the thought of getting my hands on the next issue makes my eyes glaze over in pure pleasure. I propose that it goes beyond eleven. I have literally had sex that was far less fun than reading this book.
Luke Cage can give you a hint as to why. So can Misty Knight. And so can Orson Randall.
Well, I went ahead and did four pages of comics. You’re welcome to take a look if you’re into that kinda stuff. A little background first, though: it’s a part of the superhero game I’m running, so obviously there’s a lot of context you don’t get. In short, though, it’s one player character’s flashback sequence, which reveals a past event she wasn’t at all previously aware of — she’s the little kid, and she grows up to become a superhero with electricity-based powers, which probably explains the significance of some of the imagery here. The other guy is this kinda Doctor Doomish “ruler of a nation” supervillain type. Obviously, at this point he’s not yet on the fast lane, so seeing him like this is something of a twist…
Ah, you don’t really care. There’s all that and more besides, shit you don’t know, but the scene pretty much speaks for itself.
The artwork took me a good while, and it’s full of things I’d like to fix or expand on. For example, having a little more in the way of backgrounds would be awesome, and if the doc could decide whether he’s a giraffe or not, that’d be awesome! It’s not like fixing these things would be particularly difficult, but at the pace I work, I gotta draw the line somewhere to be able to finish at all. All in all, I’m pretty happy with it. It was both harder and easier than I thought it would be, but the main thing is that it works. Oh, and in case someone is interested in the technical aspects, this is all digital. At no point did pen touch paper.
Anyway. Check it out, and by all means, do enjoy the crappy HTML I threw together for it.