Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If you think she's Thor.....I can barely sit down!

So, Marvel was pretending to have news today in that adorable way they always do - by spouting meaningless hyperbole and lies.  In case you missed it, Thor will be a woman starting in October.

Except, she won't be Thor.  Can't be Thor.

Thor is not a mantle, or a title.  It's a guy.  Thor is a person.  Yeah, he might be Asgardian, but I think we still have to call him a person.  It's not an separate identity.  "The God of Thunder" is his separate job title.  Somebody else, perhaps even a woman, could be that.  Well, technically she'd be a Goddess, and wouldn't that send The Bunnies into a tizzy?  Might be worth it just for that.

Thor is a guy, and he has a magic hammer.  The hammer's inscription says this:

"Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor."

Marvel's press release is interested in the "he" part of that inscription, because in 2014 you are contractually obligated to be obsessed with gender relations at the expense of all logic.  If logic were in play, they'd be more worried about the "power" part of the inscription.

So keep up with me now....even if you lift the hammer, you don't get to BE Thor, you get to possess the POWER of Thor.  If you grab my spatula, you don't become me.  You stay you, except now you need to wash your hands.  Because I know stuff about that spatula that you don't.

But that's not how Marvel is spinning this. They're saying this mystery woman IS Thor, which is patently stupid.  Marvel says a lot of stupid things.

As an example, editor Wil Moss says "This Thor isn't a temporary female substitute - she's now the one and only Thor!"

This tells me one of three things:

A)  Wil Moss is a dirty, dirty liar
B)  Wil Moss is not in any way familiar with comic books
C)  All of the above

I suspect it's C, but I'll believe any of those options.  Marvel likes to pretend that there's overlap between the movie audiences and comic book readership.  The instant that Hemsworth bloke comes back to the theaters as Thor....the uterus is goin' bye-bye. 

Marvel says this is one of the most shocking and exciting changes to one of the "Big Three" (Cap, Iron Man, Thor) in history.  They're wrong.

This is just the transparent implementation of two agendas:

Agenda # 1:  Get a new # 1

God forbid we have a title run for three years consecutively.  The strategy is now is to pray they can keep a title afloat for 8 issues.  If it won't die on its own in 20 issues, time to actively kill it.  This is not "exciting", it's tedious and reckless.

Agenda # 2:   Pander to Bunnies For Good Public Relations

Marvel openly admits the move is designed to attract female readership.  Apparently, women are only capable of being interested in reading about other women?  This is a good thing to say publicly, because if you just repeat the same tired nonsense about a lack of "strong female leads" and readers "needing to find themselves in the comics", people still clap when you finish.

It's all rubbish.  I just watched "The Strain" premiere, and my favorite characters are the old Jewish guy with the sword cane and that Ephraim dude's partner with the CDC.  Contrary to popular belief, I am not an old Jewish man.  If a couple of young toughs entered my pawn shop and tried to rob me, I would wet myself, not take a knife to one of my assailants and force the other to surrender his weapon.

I have zero in common with the CDC woman.  She doesn't look, talk, or act like me.  I like her just fine, but she's not really what's drawing me into the story.  I like the plot and the heightened drama of the story.  I like the "how in the world is the human race ever going to get out of this pickle?" angle.

So either I'm an outlier, or this whole business of needing to find oneself in the story is overplayed.

The mistake here is in assuming that women wouldn't like the previous issues of Thor: God of Thunder, a premise I reject entirely.  This stuff always sounds good at first blush.  It seems reasonable that Marvel should want to accommodate female readers by showing them a character to identify with.

The problem is that in their effort to placate The Bunnies and show everyone how Not Sexist they are, Marvel shows their true sexist colors.  Women don't need a pair of breasts on the page to get engaged, they want what a everyone else wants.....a good story.

And the truth of the matter is that Jason Aaron has been telling really, really good Thor stories that just about anybody can enjoy regardless of plumbing.  Why would you feel the need to dangle a ponytail in front of women as bait?  The book doesn't require it. Women like Thor just fine! Don't take my word for it, Comic Book Girl 19 will tell you all about it.

That should be the news!  Why ISN'T that the news??? Hey ladies, did you know that comics are fantastic and all that mythological garbage about rampant sexism is complete bullshit?  That should be the message.

Instead, Marvel tries to trumpet this ridiculous marketing scheme as some engine of social change.  They're trotting their "strong female lead" out there like they just found The Loch Ness Monster or something.   I'm strangling the next person I hear utter that absurd bullshit about a lack of strong female leads.

Because when you think about it, these are the only strong females carrying their own book right now:

  • Ms. Marvel
  • Captain Marvel
  • Cassie Hack
  • Shutter
  • Hinterkind
  • Princess Ugg
  • The Princess from Princeless
  • Bold Riley
  • Lazarus
  • Veil
  • Queen & Country
  • Everything that ever has been and ever will be written by Greg Rucka
  • Wonder Woman
  • Rat Queens
  • Supergirl
  • Batgirl
  • Batwoman
  • Brian Wood’s entire X-Team
  • Pretty much everybody driving Wicked + Divine
  • Catwoman
  • She-Hulk
  • Black Widow
  • Myriad Birds of Prey
  • Red Sonja
  • Courtney Crumrin
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Rachel Rising

You know...just those, and about 57 others that simply didn't spring immediately to mind.  Those are just the women driving their own titles.  That's not even scratching the surface of the strong female supporting cast like Storm, Sue Storm, Lois Lane, Anna Maria (Spider-Man), Mary-Maria (Archer & Armstrong), Maria Hill (SHIELD/SWORD), Kitty Pryde, Valkyrie, Sif, and we could go on for days and days with this stuff.

The question is agency.  Women need to be portrayed as making decisions in their own lives and taking actions to achieve those choices.  Let me ask you you know of ANY female character in ANY comic that isn't doing that?  Not only are comics not sexist in 2014, they are so actively Not Sexist that it's difficult to find a character with a uterus and an ounce of real vulnerability.  At this point women are kicking all asses, all the time. That's reality.  And that's fine, but then what is gained by pretending otherwise?

Yes, Zenescope has issues.  Yes, Vampirella's costume is deliciously absurd.  I'm not blind. I don't see these as crisis level problems, though.  There is nothing wrong with sexy women being sexy.  The problem arrives when that is all they are allowed to be.  I just ripped off a list for days of women that have more going one for them than attractiveness.  Can you name five that are limited to sex objects?  I rather doubt it.  Take a whack at it in the comments if you like.

My final judgement on Mystery Uterus Thor is that I trust Jason Aaron enough to believe that the stories will be good, so I'm not going to melt down about it.  It is depressing, though, to see all the wrong angles get all the headlines, as per usual.

PS:  Not that it matters, but it's Angela. 

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