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Ask Chris #194: Building A Better Superhero Costume

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What do you think is the essence of making a great iconic costume? -- @thenoirguy

A: With comics being a visual medium and all, especially one that's dominated by a genre marked by its own goofy language of symbolism and iconography, I think about superhero costumes pretty often. I mean, I cannot count the number of times I have written the words "Batman's Batman-Shaped Kneepads" over the past three years, but that said, I'll admit that I might not be the best person to answer this question. As Erica Henderson (artist of Subatomic Party Girls and the Ask Chris logo above) pointed out, I'm not an artist. Then she went ahead and answered the question, telling me that "It's pretty simple, iconic is something that's quick and easy to recognize. that's why nobody talks about Cable's costume."

Listen, Erica, I don't know what circles you run in, but I talk about Cable's costume a lot.

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Game of Throes: Rape Is Not a Shortcut to Narrative Substance

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WARNING: While the following images have been censored, they remain fairly graphic and may disturb some readers and may also be considered NSFW. 

I am so tired of writing about rape.

If you didn't catch the news, last Friday, the website Comic Book Resources posted a five-page preview of the latest issue of the Game of Thrones comic book adaptation. And the pages they published — the pages Dynamite Entertainment sent out as representative of the book, which is a standard practice for comic book publishers — included an incredibly graphic rape scene. Erect penis, front and center. Woman bent back nearly double, naked, arched like a porn star.

It just so happens that was also the week that HBO decided to add—and then vigorously defend — a graphic rape scene in the Game of Thrones TV series (a trend the network continued this week), and that both fall in the middle of Sexual Assault Awareness month — and yes, thanks, HBO, Dynamite and CBR, we are in fact extra aware of sexual assault now, so, well done, there. It's worth noting, too, that this is coming on the heels of an incident where a fellow comics editor and journalist got a slew of graphic rape threats for having the temerity to critique the portrayal of a teen girl in a piece of cover art (also published on CBR).

But it's also not just this week, or this month. It's this year. This decade. This lifetime. This is business as usual.

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Ask Chris #193: Let’s Pitch A Wonder Woman Movie

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: I am sick of hearing that a Wonder Woman movie is too hard. I know how I would do it, but what's your pitch for a Wonder Woman film? -- @Bibphile78

A: A few weeks ago, I probably would've backed off of this question, for two simple reasons. The first is that I was pretty sure my specific tastes don't really match up with what goes into a big-budget Hollywood film, but that was before we knew Marvel was spending a ton of money on a live-action arena show involving dirtbikes and skateboard tricks, and that they'd cast someone who once played Velma in a Scooby-Doo movie to play Aja in a big-budget Jem and the Holograms picture. At this point? I'm pretty sure I've somehow ended up being the target market for mass media, and believe me, I'm as surprised about that as you are. So what the hell, let's pitch a Wonder Woman movie.

Oh, right, the second reason. Well, that one's a little tougher to get around. As I've occasionally mentioned before, I don't actually like Wonder Woman. Like, at all. That might complicate things.

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5 Key Takeaways From Publishers Weekly’s Annual Comics Retailer Survey

Comic Shop Manga

The big headline on Publishers Weekly’s site when it published the results of its comics retailer survey last month blared that comics sales were down during the early months of 2014, though retailers seem relatively optimistic about it.

What comes after is a sometimes difficult-to-parse snapshot of the world of comics as it looks now. It’s not necessarily a bleak picture, but it’s very clearly one that portrays an industry may not be able to sustain itself as it is now. Change is occurring, and here are some key items from the report that show how, and what might be changing.

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Lady She-Woman: Female Superhero Codenames and Identity

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Monica Rambeau is on her fourth superhero codename. In the pages of Mighty Avengers she's Spectrum, having previously gone by Captain Marvel, Photon and Pulsar. The Captain Marvel identity now belongs to Carol Danvers, also on her fourth codename after Ms. Marvel, Binary and Warbird. Her first codename now belongs to Kamala Khan, the fourth Ms. Marvel after Danvers, Sharon Ventura and Karla Sofen.

But Carol is actually the third woman (and seventh character) to call herself Captain Marvel in the Marvel Universe. The second woman was Phyla-Vell, who was the fourth Captain Marvel after she was the second Quasar, before she was the first Martyr, before she saved herself the trouble of another codename by dying. Oh, those women! They never know who they are!

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Ask Chris #192: ‘Power Rangers RPM’ Is The Darkest Timeline

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: What was so good about Power Rangers RPM? -- @ykarps

A: That's right, everyone: After deciding on a whim last year to sit down and watch every single episode of Power Rangers ever produced, all seven hundred and seventy-five (and counting), and last week, I finally did it when I made it through 2009's Power Rangers RPM. I'd already seen Samurai, and I'd been watching Megaforce as it aired, so that was it. And I wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.

But while I was watching it, I came to the conclusion that as much as I like Samurai and Jungle Fury and Ninja Storm -- in which a trio of teens give up on hiding their Kiwi accents about six episodes in -- there's not even a contest about which series is the best. RPM wins that argument hands down... and I kind of hate to say that.

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4/20 Special: A Complete History Of ‘Fastlane,’ Marvel’s Amazing Anti-Marijuana Comic

Fastlane, Marvel Comics

If you were reading Marvel Comics in 1999, you read Fastlane. For four solid months, it was absolutely unavoidable, an eight-page anti-marijuana insert that would pop up right in the middle of every single Marvel Comic to let you know about the dangers of weed, a drug that was glorified in the media and would lead users to a dangerous world of addiction and deadly hallucinations that was so over the top even the producers of Dragnet thought that maybe they should tone it down a little. And if you're a certain kind of person who was reading Marvel Comics in the '90s, you actually kind of love it.

I mean, I do. And that's why, with 4/20 and all its attendant celebrations coming up this weekend, it's time for a look back on  what might actually be the highest circulating (and most bizarre) Marvel Comic of all time with a Complete Oral History of Fastlanefrom artist Gregg Schigiel, Editor Steve Behling, Head of Marvel Creative Services Mike Thomas, and Senior Vice President for Strategic Promotions and Advertising John Fraser.

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Fake Geek Guys: A Message to Men About Sexual Harassment

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“I think this woman is wrong about something on the Internet. Clearly my best course of action is to threaten her with rape.”

That’s crazy talk, right? So why does it happen all the time?

Honest question, dudes.

That women are harassed online is not news. That women in comics and the broader fandom cultures are harassed online is not news. That these women are routinely transmitted anonymous messages describing graphic sexual violence perpetrated upon them for transgressions as grave as not liking a thing… that is actually news to me, and it’s probably news to a lot of you guys reading this.

So what can we do about it?

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Jerry Ordway & Steve Rude’s ‘Adventures of Superman’ Is Like ‘A Lost Fleischer Cartoon’ [Interview]

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The best Superman comic book currently published is about to get even better this coming Monday with the addition of Steve Rude, arguably one of today’s best living American comic book artists, and Jerry Ordway, one of the key Superman storytellers of the '80s and '90s, and a brilliant and influential artist in his own right. The pair have collaborated on a Superman story starring OMAC, a cult favorite creation of Rude’s own hero, Jack Kirby, for an Adventures of Superman digital short that they describe as " a lost Max Fleischer Superman cartoon."

ComicsAlliance spoke with Ordway and Rude to learn more about the 10-page adventure, their impressions of Superman in this day and age, the digital comics revolution, and how these accomplished but very distinctive creators worked together on the story.

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Ask Chris #191: Dr. Doom, The Gold Standard Of Comic Book Villainy

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Why is Doctor Doom the gold standard of supervillains? -- @franzferdinand2

A: In case you missed it a few weeks back, I wrote a column about the differences between Lex Luthor and the Joker, and mentioned that while those are two characters I like an awful lot, Dr. Doom is far and away the gold standard of supervillainy. He's compelling, he's sinister, he's got a great design that's lasted, virtually unchanged, for 50 years, and he can be dropped into almost any type of story and work beautifully. In short, he's the single greatest villain in superhero comics history.

Well, unless you count Bob Kane, but that's a whole other thing.

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Filed Under: Category: Ask Chris, Longform, Marvel, Opinion

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