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It’s been a while now since I engaged in a full on rant. Stop on by She Has No Head! to see what all of the fuss is about this week.

Here’s a hint:

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Apparently my angry cries of foul on Rogue’s bullshit new costume that is constantly unzipped to her navel have fallen on deaf ears.  The evidence?  The X-Men Legacy cover #232.  SIGH.  Oh comics.  I don’t know why I continue to love you when you treat me so.  I’m just glutton for punishment I suppose.

x-men legacy 232

Brian Cronin over at CBR has been doing a Top Five Most Iconic Covers for individual characters, and it’s a really great idea (read: I wish I’d thought of it first).  Like most idiots with an opinion I have often been disagreeing with some of his picks, but having learned first hand how hard it is to pick a “top” anything, I’ve been keeping my mouth shut.  But he featured my girl Rogue this week and I can no longer be silenced!

Here are Cronin’s picks.

The list isn’t even that bad, I think in my own list (see below) I have to use three of the five he uses, however the use of that Paul Smith cover as number one is just criminal.  That cover is completely a Wolvie cover, not a Rogue cover and while the actual issue marks pretty big developments for the character and her evolution, the cover does not relay that same message.  Epic fail.

So here’s MY list:

5.  Andy Kubert

096 Andy Kubert

As discussed on my Best 100 Covers post, as an adult and as an artist, I kind of hate this cover for a lot of reasons, but as a 16 year old girl, my heart literally went all ‘pitter pat’ in my chest and didn’t stop for, like, YEARS.  And independent of my personal feelings, this relationship was a major part of Rogue’s 90′s storyline, and affected her character hugely both at this point in time and (for good or ill) pretty much the rest the character’s life thus far.

4.  Walt Simonson

X-Men 171 Walt Simonson

Cronin is right that this cover is iconic because of the “hope you survive the experience” homage that at this point had become classic and iconic on its own, but perhaps it’s even more iconic because in Rogue’s case it was a more accurate statement than ever before.  Although, perhaps they should have changed up the meme to read, “Welcome To The X-Men Rogue…Hope The X-Men Survive The Experience” considering the fact that the entire team tries to quit on principle when Xavier lets her in.

3. John Romita Jr.

X-Men 185

This is a great cover, and a great issue, that was a huge development in Rogue’s growth as a character.  It foreshadowed great things for the character and managed to be a milestone issue for both Rogue and Storm.  Neither of them would ever be the same after this issue – and that is the mark of a great comic – and this cover conveys that feeling – which is the mark of a great cover.

2.  Marc Silvestri

079 Marc Silvestri

This Genosha storyline was a big turning point for Rogue, both emotionally as she battled the unexpected side effects of losing her cursed powers; and perhaps even more importantly, it spotlighted the relationship with the Carol Danvers personality living inside of her.  This was the first arc (if I recall correctly) that Rogue and Danvers agreed on an uneasy peace, if only for their combined survival.  And it kicked off a fantastic ongoing storyline about their constant battle for control of Rogue’s body.

1.  Jim Lee

02 Jim Lee

And here’s where control of that body comes to a head, more than thirty issues later.  This milestone issue featured the final and long awaited separation of Carol Danvers and Rogue with surprising results after Rogue was shot through the Siege Perilous by Dazzler (you bitch Dazzler).  This issue is important both because it truly highlights how much our heroine has changed, and because as a result of this issue, there are new rules for Rogue and Danvers.  They’ve been permanently separated, but Rogue has retained the powers.  For good or ill this changed Rogue’s direction and is a critical arc in her evolution.  It’s also gorgeous, but you guys know I’m a fan.

Ironically, I think that this cover to X-Men Classic #77…

Xmen Classic #77

…really proves my point about why Cronin’s pick of X-Men #173 is a real miss.  The cover above, a re-imagining by Adam Hughes of the original Paul Smith X-Men #173 cover is a pretty great example of a Rogue cover…with the positions reversed like this (i.e. Rogue in front instead of back) it works as a Rogue cover, but would you ever in a million years put this on a list of most iconic Wolverine covers?  No way.  Now of course Wolvie has more iconic covers out there than just about any other Marvel character, but still, I’m sure you can see my point.

Just for fun here are a few of my other favorite covers featuring Rogue.  I wouldn’t call them all iconic, but I would call them all awesome.  It’s a little bit shocking actually, how few powerful and truly moving covers Rogue has, she’s been a fan favorite for a long time, and it’s really not evident in looking up her covers…

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And me are not getting along.

Krups Kettle

Last week my electric tea kettle, which I use a couple times a week, if not daily, broke.  It is only six months old.  My previous kettle which I had for four years broke last spring.  This very pretty Krups one I replaced it with apparently sucks.  I am also too stupid and lazy to fill out my warranty for a $60 item.  So I’m out of luck.

Today, my “fit and fresh” single serving blender thing-a-ma-bob informed me it too was broken.  WHAT.  THE.  HELL.  This thing is less than three months old and I’ve probably used it only 20 times. And now I’ve got a bunch of strawberries, milk, and protein powder mixed together that can’t be blended.  Sonofabitch.

This sucks.  grumble. grumble. grumble.

Marvel Divas cropto see the full Marvel Divas image, go here

I tried to comment on the latest blog posting for “Cup A Joe” that was an interesting and informative feature on Myspace Comics, but alas I was denied.  Could have been just typical “technical difficulties” (which is what it claimed), or I could have been blocked or the comment suppressed…regardless I wasn’t able to get through, so it’s a good thing I have my very own blog with my very own readers and I can make my voice heard despite “technical difficulties”

Below is an excerpt from Joe Quesada’s most recent “Cup A Joe” interview.  The excerpt includes a question from a woman named Ashley asking about our new favorite subject Marvel Divas!  Below Joe’s asinine response is my response to Joe.  You’re gonna wanna read that for sure.

ASHLEY’S (totally valid and deserving to be actually answered) QUESTION: About the “hating” on Marvel Divas, let’s call it what it really is—criticizing how sexist this book appears to be. If Marvel produces comics that are offensive to female readers, why shouldn’t people “hate” on it? Why would I want to support a company that produces offensive, sexist material? Why shouldn’t everyone speak out against it? While the book hasn’t come out yet, what has been released so far is blatantly sexist. But what troubles me the most is that Marvel thinks people want to read this, and this constitutes strong female characterization. Does Marvel actually want to attract female readers or is the whole point that Marvel Comics are only for guys?


JOE QUESADA’S (RIDICULOUS) ANSWER:
Ashley, while I completely respect your opinion as I do every Marvel fan, your calling Marvel Comics and this particular mini series sexist is a bit extreme from where I’m standing.

I’m going to go on a limb here and assume you’re a Marvel reader.  It’s an assumption I’m making based upon the fact that you’re responding to this column.  If you’re Marvel reader and truly feel we’re sexist, then why are you reading our books?  Now, perhaps you’re not a Marvel reader, then if that’s the case, I’m not quite sure what you’re criticizing if you don’t read our books?

Okay, all that aside, I’m going to go with the former assumption. With that in mind, I’m going to be as straight up honest with you as I can possibly be.  That’s what this column is all about.

You haven’t read a lick of this story yet!

Please, I can buy you saying that you’re cautiously pessimistic based upon what you’ve heard so far, but to throw around allegations like that is completely unfair, not just to Marvel or myself, but to the creators and editors who are working on this book.  Have you ever read any of Sacasa’s work?  Have you ever found him to be a sexist writer? Is the cover image provocative, perhaps, but it’s no more or less than any other book we do.

The cold hard reality of publishing and trying to sell our books to as many people as possible, so here’s an example of what happens more often than you may think here at Marvel. From time to time, we’ll be launching a title that doesn’t focus very heavily on the super heroic.  From time to time I’ll get a cover sketch and it doesn’t have a costumed hero or villain on the cover, what we internally refer to as a “quiet cover.”  On those occasions, more often than not, I ask my editors to direct their cover artist to give me at least a first issue cover with the characters in costume.  Why? Because it will help launch a book that will most likely have trouble latching onto a large audience.  We want to give every title the best possible chance to be successful.   Marvel Divas is no different and that’s why you’re seeing our strong female leads in their super hero personas.  Let me try an example outside of comics.  I’m a huge fan of Pink, I really dig her music and love her voice. Love her or hate her, I would say that she’s an amazingly strong and intelligent female performer and song writer in the pop genre.  In many of her songs she even criticizes the over sexualized female pop stars of the day and their over the top videos.  But when you look at Pink’s CD covers, while she’s looking strong and like she’s looking like she’s having fun, she’s also looking really sexy. The reason is simple, she’s trying to grab people’s attention and sell some albums. Comics are no different and as much a part of the entertainment business as any other medium, and the cold hard truth is that if we were to launch Marvel Divas with a “quiet cover,” I guarantee you the book would be canceled before it hits the shelves. That’s it in a nutshell, I could sugar coat it for you and give you a million other reasons that would sound plausible, but that’s not what I do.

So, where does that leave us?  Ultimately, it’s up to you.  If you somehow feel you know what this book is about sight unseen, then by all means just pass it up when it hits the stores.  If you feel like giving it a try, drop me a line and let me know what you think. What I’d like you to avoid however is globally unfair statements like Marvel is sexist.  And if you feel like you’re not being heard or like your opinion doesn’t matter, just look at how much column space I devoted to your question.  Most companies would just duck stuff like this, but you guys are the reason we do what we do and if you have a concern or criticism, I want to try to address them as best I can.  Thanks again for writing and for your question.

MY ANGRY RANTY RESPONSE TO MR. QUESADA: Mr. Quesada you are SO missing the point.  Though I’m not surprised.

It isn’t just Marvel Diva’s J.Scott Campbell sensationalistic cover that Ashley is referring to…she’s also referencing the ridiculous “statement” that went out about the book. The statement/quote has been attributed to you and also to Sacasa – I think it actually belongs to Sacasa – regardless, it was a cluster$#@% of horror.  To say “we’re going to have some sudsy fun” and then in the next sentence say they’re going to try to “ask questions about what it really means to be a woman in male dominated world of testosterone and guns” and then to say in literally the next sentence “but mostly it’s just a lot of hot fun”…is hands down the most sexist handful of sentences strung together in comics that I’ve seen in years…maybe ever.

The reality is that Sacasa is a pretty good writer and I haven’t read anything blatantly sexist of his and Zonjic’s work is interesting and not nearly as sexist as every single thing ever drawn by Campbell, but it speaks to Marvel (and more specifically YOUR) choices that you let this horrible quote go out and pair it with Campbell’s cover art.  Why didn’t you have Zonjic draw and amazing popping superhero costumed cover?  No, you went with a guy whose name is practically synonymous with misogynistic cheesecake.  You don’t want us to judge the book before we read it – well, personally, I’m not and I’ll check it out (though I won’t buy it after the mess you’ve made) – but I AM judging Marvel and they’re failing huge.  The quote, the cover image.  That is ULTIMATE FAIL, and it’s on Marvel, not on me and the many other women and men that are pretty outraged about this ridiculousness.

This dodging answer of yours to a legitimate question just lost you even more respect in my book Mr. Quesada. I understand you’re in a tough position and you have PR people and money people to answer to – it’s a hard job to be “the guy” but I assume rewards come with the horror too and so I expect more from you.

You are absolutely right to say that as a consumer it’s my prerogative to not read your books if I think they’re sexist, but then you undo that by telling me that it’s not my place to complain about it if I’m not a Marvel reader.  Hell yes it is.  Let me say that again.  HELL YES IT IS.  It’s my job as a comic reader (especially a female reader) to both not buy this and to speak out against it, in hopes that it will happen less and comics will make progressive moves forward, regardless of how you deem my (and others) status.

Just the fact that you went on a strange (really long) rant about putting the women in their costumes on the cover – so that you don’t have a “quiet cover” which won’t sell books proves that you have no idea what’s going on, or are hoping we’re stupid enough to fall for your innocent act.  Nobody, and I mean nobody is complaining about the women being pictured in their costumes – we know they’re superheroes – we’re happy to see them in costume – we love superheroes and we love to see them in costume – male or female – if you really think this is the problem with the Marvel Divas cover you’re even more out of touch with reality than I thought.

Way to blame your readers Joe.  It’s so noble of you to push us on your sword like that.  Bravo.

I f’ing hate it when men sabotage and disrespect women, particularly when they do it because of the way women look (too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, not pretty, blah blah blah) and it’s even more annoying when the men themselves actually look like ass (which happens A LOT), but reading this interview with Carol Lay reminds me why I hate it even more when we women do it to each other. 

I don’t know where Carol Lay gets off.  I really don’t.  We don’t need more hate and bad body dynamics…there is plenty in the world already.  The reviews on Amazon for her book so far are through the roof (5 stars across the board), but I just keep reminding myself that these are the people who obviously read diet books pretty frequently…and so I don’t really trust them to start with.  I’m happy for Carol Lay that she’s thin now and that it’s solved all her problems, but I really don’t need her preaching to me (or the rest of world) which is what this interview sounds like to me.

Carol Lay, if you’re listening (reading), go to this site and read as much as you can:  Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose.  Get back to me when you’ve learned something.  Ridiculous.

That’s right – we’re baaaaack!!!!!  I know you didn’t believe me that we’d be back…but we are.  Let’s hope for no more hiccups, at least until I reach the end of “a year of rabid lamb comic” (i.e. November 5th).

And to you movie texters out there – it would be great if you could stop texting because it’s wrong and it ruins peoples’ movie experience – but if the moral fortitude to do the right thing escapes you – just know that some crazy bitch and her giant angry boyfriend may be in your theater, ready to follow you home and kill you for being an insensitive jackass.  Is texting really worth your life?  Turn off the goddamn phone – I assure you your life is not so important that it can’t be put on hold for two hours…and if it is…then what the hell are you doing in a movie theater anyway?

This is apparently my new favorite thing to rant about…see?

So, in finally getting back to my previously promised Tudor rant/review, here we are.

I guess part of my problem with this show is that, at this point, I have a surprising amount of actual knowledge about this time period and these people and all the events that led up to these kind of amazing (and horrible) things that happened to these people.  And so, knowing what I know, I just don’t understand the choices that they make for the show. They will make these seemingly valiant attempts to keep it true to the facts in certain ways and then just go wildly off the mark for no apparent reason. 

Adapting material is difficult, and it’s very difficult to do it well, so I do try to cut them some slack, but some of this stuff they have added in or changed is just ridiculous and unnecessary.  The great thing about Henry VIII and his six wives is that it was rife with drama and intrigue to begin with.  There were murders, conspiracies, marriages, affairs, sexual escapades, religious persecution, beheadings, trials, rumors, it’s all there – you actually have to invent very little to “sex it up” and make it pretty for the masses…so I just don’t understand the choices they make. 

The Good:  It’s interesting to see these characters brought to life and the scenes shot on location are rich and beautiful, unfortunately,  too large a percentage of the show is shot on sets, which despite a good effort for a television show, look pretty sad and small and cheap.  The costumes however, show no expense spared, and are fantastic. 

*spoilers*

The Bad & The Ugly:

Mary of Tudor (Henry VIII’s younger sister) was married to King Louis XII when she was 18.  This character is played by…wait for it…38 year old actress Gabrielle Anwar.  Now I hate Anwar, and have never liked her ever, so I’m a bit aggressively biased here.  However, even for the non-biased, Anwar is not looking too good these days (and certainly not anywhere near 18 )  and she has a really bad habit of making these terrible expressions while she is “acting” that make her look even older than her 38 years.  It is a painful experience watching her play this interesting character.  

I know of course that people play characters much younger than their age all the time on TV, but it’s actually kind of important here when you understand that these women were being married off at very young ages.  It was a huge part of what was going on at that time, and it’s difficult to understand as a viewer when we see Anwar, looking 40-ish and being horrified because she’s marrying an ugly old king.  It’s far less dramatic to see Anwar marry this guy, than if they had cast an innocent looking 18 year-old.   

Additionally, in the show they had her marrying the wrong king (who cares about any kind of accuracy, right?).  They invented (or stole?) some King of Portugal for her to marry.  This seems to be not such a sin until you understand what a complex web of alliances there were at this time, and marrying off princesses to other countries was a chief way of solidifying an alliance.  In reality, she married King Louis XII of France…and Portugal had nothing to do with it. 

But the greatest sin is in how it all plays out.  In reality, Mary didn’t kill her husband as Anwar does (a crime of treason for which she could easily be killed).  In truth the King dies about three months after the marriage (an old guy putting it to an 18 year-old for three months can be exhuasting – and fatal).  After King Louis VII died, Mary very cleverly arranged to marry the man she was actually in love with, Charles Brandon, with the help of King Francis I (the new King of France) and much to the anger of her brother King Henry VIII, since it was without his permission.  In the show, Anwar kills this ‘King of Portugal’ and heads back home within a week, marrying Brandon in the process.  It’s like they want to tell the story, but they just can’t manage it.  And I have to say, again, a far less dramatic take than the actual original story, which is pretty tragic and then redeeming in its own way.  A headstrong young woman being sold off to a foreign country but then cleverly managing to marry the man she loves anyway (unheard of in that time)…fascinating.

Henry Fitzroy.  Son of King Henry VIII by his mistress Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount.  This is true, and handled pretty accurately.  And then they suddenly decide to kill the kid with the “sweating sickness”.  Why?  I have no clue.  It’s not like they milk it for high drama.  There is literally one scene in which the kid’s mother comes to see him (already dead) and there is a maybe five-second scene of King Henry looking at the tiny crown of the kid (who he never saw anyway).  In reality Henry Fitzroy lived to the age of 17 and died suddenly of consumption (tuberculousis).  

Anne Boleyn.  They’ve done Anne the biggest disservice of anyone, which is really a crime for a series focused partially (for the first two years at least) on the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn.  I’m not a huge Anne Boleyn fan, she was a manipulative clever woman and a vindictive tyrant of sorts, but she was also incredibly witty and wise in a way and she rose to a power no women had previously imagined, based solely on her own merit (and maybe beauty). 

She also had a very good reason for being as angry as she was and for becoming the tyrant she became.  Much of what Anne Boleyn did in her rise to becoming the Queen of England can be chalked up to revenge.  In reality, Anne was very much in love with Henry Percy (eventually to become the Earl of Northumberland) and he with her.  They were likely married or “pre-contracted” which was as good as marriage in those days (and the relationship was likely consumated).  This was a great match for Anne, both in that it would rise her up in the societal ranks, and also because, rare in that day, she loved the man and he her. 

This marriage was deemed unworthy by both Cardinal Wolsey and Henry Percy’s father and possibly King Henry (although it was a time before Anne would realize the king had anything to do with it – and there is speculation as to whether he actually did).  Wolsey and Percy’s father undid her marraige quite cruelly and Anne was temporarily banished from court.  It was a very hard lesson to learn.  And for a woman like Anne, it was not taken lightly.  She came back to court with a very clear idea about how to get power, and that she would need to play the game like a master.  There was no way to get that power, or revenge on Wolsey without rising as high as possible, and there was nothing above Queen for a woman.  It’s unlikely she ever really loved Henry VIII, although it’s possible that after years of courting she did fall for him.  It’s also highly unlikely she was guilty of any crimes against him. 

In The Tudors there is none of this backstory.  None.  We never know why she hated Wolsey so much. Religious reasons are given, and they were certainly present as well, but her single minded hatred of the man is far too personal for it to just be religious difference, and Wolsey was actually fairly light in punishiment for the followers of Martin Luther (i.e. heretics) compared with his successor Thomas More, who also opposed Anne’s marriage to Henry, yet she did not set out to destroy More, she had a very specific reason to go after Wolsey, and none of that is addressed.  They do give her a previous “dalliance” with the poet Thomas Wyatt, which is completely out of context and just wrong.  There is a recorded flirtation, but an affair is very unlikely.  So overall it is an incredibly unfair portrait.  All the history that built this amazing woman and character is just dropped.  It makes it impossible to understand her motivations and as such it is the broadest of sketches of a fascinating woman.  And it makes me angry.  Really angry. 

In the end, I don’t mind so much if you want to create a completely fictionalized world of The Tudors, I probably couldn’t ever love it, but I certainly can’t even like it if you can’t make it more interesting than what really happened.  If you’re going to make it fiction…it’s gotta be better than reality.  And this, isn’t. 

2 Stars.   Blech.

_102-rabid-lamb-comics-postable.jpg

The last of the “search term” comics…so sad for me, these have been some good fun. I think I’ll make them a recurring feature of Rabid Lamb…but maybe one at a time and not two weeks worth…

You want to know what I do with your inserts and “cardboard-like” pages in favorite magazines of mine? 

I tear them out.  That’s right, the first thing I do when I get a new magazine is furiously tear our all these little obstructions to my reading. 

Guess what else?  Sometimes I even look at what they are and make a mental note to NEVER buy that product or subscribe to that service etc.  That’s right.  I know it hurts…but it’s true.  Also, you should know that I’m not alone in this.  I know MANY people who do exactly the same thing.  Maybe they’re not as angry and grumbly as me when they do it, but they do it.  So I don’t know what your PR/Advertising/Marketing department is telling you, but they’re idiots.  The “people” do not like you, or your methods. 

You know what else we don’t like?  The pop ups on our TV screens that interrupt the bottom third (sometimes bottom half) of the TV screen when we’re trying to watch a program.  We especially don’t like this when we happen to be watching subtitled and cannot read what is happening on our program…or when god forbid there is actually something important going on in the bottom third of the screen – I know that seems crazy – CRAZY that the whole screen would actually be important, but it is…so you should know we’re pretty pissed about this new development.  I know you’re all really frustrated because we’ve found a loophole in your ridiculous commercials scheme by buying things like Tivos and DVR’s and fast forwarding through all ad space, but you should know this, I don’t buy, watch, or support any show that advertise this way.  It’s my only silent protest (slightly less silent now that I’m talking about it). 

Okay, that’s all for today.  Thanks for listening.

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