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Stop The Press: Vicki Vale And The Superficial ‘Strong Female Character’

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Ah, I thought, as the camera panned lovingly down Vicki Vale’s high-heeled, black-pantyhose-clad legs — here she is. The Strong Female Character. The 1989 model had fluffier hair than her successors, but that's really the only significant difference. She establishes her Totally Empowered cred early, makes eyes at the hero, then gets the hell out of the way as he and the (male, naturally) villain go about the business of advancing the plot. She snaps a photo once or twice to remind us that she's a globe-trotting photojournalist — the kind of photojournalist with no compunction toward sleeping with her subjects, but hey, whatever. She ends the film in the hero’s arms, fulfilling her role as reward for his victory, with nary a whisper of the professional goals that drove her to him in the first place. She is pretty and in need of rescue and almost entirely in service to the male characters’ plot and characterization—but she gets to be vaguely spunky and is slapped with a typically male career, so it’s totally okay.

I can only imagine the interviews that took place upon the release of Batman, touting her modernity, her break with the damsels of the past, her ineffable 1989-ness. I’m sure the crew patted themselves on the back heartily for providing the women and girls of America with such a vibrant reflection and role model.

I'm sure of these things because 25 years later, very little has changed regarding how women like Vicki are portrayed: superficially empowered and ultimately disposable.

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Best Cosplay Ever (This Week): Battling Boy, Kabuki, Dejah Thoris, Poison Ivy, Maleficent And More

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Although cosplay has been present for decades within the comics, anime, and sci-fi/fantasy fandoms, social media has played an integral role in the thriving communities of costuming that exist, such as Cosplay.com and the Superhero Costuming Forum. Over the years, the cosplay community has evolved into a creative outlet for many fans to establish and showcase some impressive feats of homemade disguise, craftsmanship, and sartorial superheroics at conventions. In honor of the caped crusaders of the convention scene, ComicsAlliance has created Best Cosplay Ever (This Week), an ongoing collection of some of the most impeccable, creative, and clever costumes that we’ve discovered and assembled into a super-showcase of pure fan-devoted talent.

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Comics Alliance Presents ‘Kate Or Die’ In ‘ Con Crud’

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Welcome to the latest episode of ComicsAlliance Presents “Kate or Die,” a series of exclusive comic strips created by one of our favorite cartoonists, Kate Leth! In this episode, Kate battles the indestructible plague to which all comics convention-goers will eventually succumb: con-crud.

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Filed Under: , Category: Conventions, Culture, Humor, Kate or Die

Freak Like Me: Understanding The Queerness Of The X-Men [Mutant & Proud Part III]

Keron Grant
Keron Grant

The X-Men did not have an openly LGBT team-member for almost their first forty years of publication. This was primarily an egregious act of self-censorship on Marvel's part, but it may actually have helped strengthen mutants as a queer metaphor. Where LGBT people couldn't be part of the X-Men's text, the experiences of LGBT people came to dominate the X-Men's subtext.

In the third of three essays examining the parallels between fictional mutants and real life LGBT people, I'll look at how the mutations themselves -- and the identity struggles of many X-Men characters -- served to underline the essential queerness of mutants.

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The Comics Alliance Collection: Cool Stuff We (And You!) Got This Week)

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The ComicsAlliance staff is a diverse lineup writers, editors, artists, photographers and designers, but before we’re any of those things we’re simply fans. Appreciators. Collectors. Almost every day we share with each other via Instagram all the great books, toys, artwork, apparel, and other beautiful and/or inescapably cool objects we collect almost ceaselessly in comics stores, at conventions, and from all kinds of sources all over North America (and sometimes beyond). Displaying (i.e. showing off) some rad swag typically inspires everyone to one-up their pop-archeologist game in the never ending quest to find awesome stuff, and simply posting the week’s new comics usually causes someone to discover a new title or artist, which in turn inspires a whole new line of excavation.

In the past we’ve published photos of our “con hauls” here on CA and the resulting discussion with readers — i.e. collector kudos — has always been fun, so with the ComicsAlliance Collection we’re going to do it every week. But more importantly, we want to see your collection too. Show us new additions to your collections by using the hashtag #CAcollection on Instagram and we’ll embed the best stuff alongside our own recent acquisitions. And please do follow us @ComicsAlliance.

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Best Art Ever (This Week): Spirou, Winter Soldier, Godzilla, Monsters Inc, Prince And More

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We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, awnd some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it is awesome.

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Radioactive Blackness And Anglo-Saxon Aliens: Achieving Superhero Diversity Through Race-Changing

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Changing the racial identity of characters has become a contentious issue amongst fans of superhero comics and their adaptations in other media. The awful practices of casting white actors to play people of color, or of turning previously non-white characters into white characters, is all too common in movie adaptations of books, cartoons, TV shows, or even real life stories -- but rather surprisingly, superhero comics and their adaptations have mostly avoided this problem.

In comics, the controversy takes a different direction. Several white characters have become non-white, mostly in movies, and sometimes in reboots. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four; Helena Bertinelli aka the Huntress in the New 52; Nick Fury in the Ultimate Comics line and on screen. These are changes that agitate some readers -- but realistically, the changes don't go far enough. Superhero comics have a cultural bias towards white characters that has everything to do with their institutional history and nothing to do with what makes sense to the stories.

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After String Of Crimes, Times Square Considers Its Own Superhero Registration Act

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Spider-Man, no!

Following a few incidents of costumed characters in Times Square committing crimes --most recently, one where a Spider-Man allegedly groped a tourist, which came after another Spider-Man was convicted of harassment -- the president of Times Square Alliance, Tim Tompkins, is putting his foot down. He's calling for all the Times Square characters -- superheroes, Sesame Street characters, Disney princesses and all others --to be licensed and regulated.

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Filed Under: , Category: Cosplay, Culture, News, Video

Best Convention Sketchbook Ever (This Week): Original Art From Heroes Con 2014

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Summer is in full swing, which means that convention season is upon us once again, and with it, the opportunity to get art from some of your favorite comic book creators. As much as I like digging through back issue bins and hanging out with pals from across the country, filling up my sketchbook is one of the most fun parts of going to conventions. So much, in fact, that I actually had two in circulation this year.

One was continuing my theme of tokusatsu characters like the Power Rangers and Kamen Rider, while the other was just a general collection of favorite characters. Which, as you might expect, ended up with two drawings of Destro. Check out the new pieces below, featuring art from Tom Fowler, Kevin Mellon, Tom Scioli, Jordan Gibson and more!

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Best Cosplay Ever (This Week): HeroesCon 2014 Edition

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Although cosplay has been present for decades within the comics, anime, and sci-fi/fantasy fandoms, social media has played an integral role in the thriving communities of costuming that exist, such as Cosplay.com and the Superhero Costuming Forum. Over the years, the cosplay community has evolved into a creative outlet for many fans to establish and showcase some impressive feats of homemade disguise, craftsmanship, and sartorial superheroics at conventions. In honor of the caped crusaders of the convention scene, ComicsAlliance has created Best Cosplay Ever (This Week), an ongoing collection of some of the most impeccable, creative, and clever costumes that we’ve discovered and assembled into a super-showcase of pure fan-devoted talent.

The comics, sci-fi, gaming and fantasy communities’ talents for homemade disguises, craftsmanship, and sartorial superheroics are definitely on display this weekend at the first ever HeroesCon, and we were there to check out the show as well as capture some of the stellar cosplay on display.

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