The Reappearance of Extraño.

For those who might be willing to remember the very cringe-worthy, briefly lived (thankfully) character of Extraño, a gay magician from Peru, from DC’s 1988 crossover, Millennium, this is what you remember, gay stereotype extraordinaire:

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Yep. There really cannot be enough mockery. That damn thing cries out for a caption contest. I believe I’ve mentioned that I’ve never been a big DC fan. This can be counted as one reason why. A gay character who looked like the bastard offspring of Mandrake, an unknown pirate, and Liberace, with apologies to Liberace. The character spoke with a lisp, called himself “Auntie” and gave lots of unsolicited advice. I’m sure you’re thinking it couldn’t possibly be worse than that. Wrong! Extraño goes up against a villain by the name of Hemo-goblin (oh yes. Feel free to cringe), contracts HIV, and was eventually killed off in a Green Lantern. I know it was the ’80s, but fuck me, there was just no excuse. I never expected to see this character, or even the name, again.

Extraño is back though, at least marginally, in last week’s first issue of Midnighter and Apollo. What is great is how Extraño is characterized there:

extrano-750-secondary-art_copy

Nice, right? This is in the hands of openly bi writer Steve Orlando, and if he’s handling things, I’d be happy to welcome Extraño back. Full story is at The Advocate.

Cool Stuff Friday.

It’s Posing for Pixels time again! 

 
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Acclaimed authors Jim C. Hines, Chuck Wendig, and Tee Morris have bravely volunteered to do custom gender-flipped cover poses to encourage the Science Fiction & Fantasy community to help The Pixel Project‘s Read For Pixels 2016 Indiegogo fundraiser reach our $5,000 fundraising goal (and beyond) this October! The Pixel Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that combines the power of the internet, social media, and pop culture/the arts to raise awareness, funds, and volunteer power to end violence against women.

READ FOR PIXELS: Operation Cover Pose 2016 To Help End Violence Against Women.

 

READ FOR PIXELS 2016: FALL EDITION.

Wonder Woman Confirmed Bisexual.

Greg Rucka said Wonder Woman’s queer identity was important to the narrative. Photograph: Frank Cho/DC Comics.

Greg Rucka said Wonder Woman’s queer identity was important to the narrative. Photograph: Frank Cho/DC Comics.

Wonder Woman is queer, her writer has confirmed: “I don’t know how much clearer I can make it”.

Greg Rucka, who worked on Wonder Woman for DC Comics throughout the 2000s, returned to DC Comics this year for the new Rebirth series commemorating her 75th year in print.

He told the comic news site Comicosity the character had “obviously” been in love and relationships with other women, as has long been speculated by fans.

Wonder Woman is known as the warrior princess Diana in her homeland of Themyscira, an island populated only by Amazonian women.

The confirmation was met with celebration on social media.

That said, Rucka then goes on, practically choking in his need to say this doesn’t mean there should be any sort of queer storylines, no. I suppose acknowledgement is a good thing, but representation sure would be nice. Really nice.

Full story at The Guardian.

Kim & Kim: Interview with Magdalene Visaggio.

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Science fiction stories are nothing new. It’s a pretty sure thing modern geeks have traveled to and from the stars many times within the pages of a comic book, novel, or in their favorite TV show or movie. At this point, space is no longer the final frontier; it’s as familiar to comic books readers as a superhero’s cape and tights.

So it’s truly rare and exciting to discover a story that can add a new element to the sci-fi genre. Thankfully, four-issue limited series Kim & Kim is just such a story. Published by Black Mask Studios, written and created by our trans writer Magdalene Visaggio, with art by the straight/queer team Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aquirre, Kim & Kim mixes space-faring action, with salty language, humor, and a female buddy adventure with a trans lead character.

In short, this outer space comic book series with a decidedly queer- and female-centric tale is what our modern culture needs. The Advocate was happy to chat with writer/creator Magdalene Visaggio to discuss Kim & Kim, the importance of featuring an authentic trans character, her upcoming work, and what to look forward two in the final two issues of the series.

The Advocate has an in-depth interview with Magdalene Visaggio, good reading, and if you’re new to Kim & Kim, now’s a good time to catch up!

Comics.

Cover for The New Gods #1. Illustrated by Jack Kirby. Photo courtesy of DC Comics.

Cover for The New Gods #1. Illustrated by Jack Kirby. Photo courtesy of DC Comics.

The New Gods #1 (Reprint)

One of the comics featured in this week’s roundup is a digital reprint of a classic Jack Kirby comic. Kirby, longtime collaborator with Marvel icon Stan Lee, helped create famous characters like The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and the X-Men. Unlike the more straightforward, BAM! POW! creations of Lee, Kirby’s written and illustrated works are tinged with the weird, the cosmic, and the symbolic. If readers try the reprint of New Gods #1 (reviewed below) and like what they read, other Kirby must-reads include the OMAC series, Devil Dinosaur, and Machine Man. In these comics, it’s clear Kirby didn’t care if you couldn’t keep up with his breakneck speed and garbled, grandiose language. This is old-fashioned science fiction, which neither strives for accuracy nor ease of readability, but falls somewhere wonderfully in-between.

Originally published in 1971, The New Gods tells the story of a battle between the forces of good and evil, with the New Gods (a group of super-powered heroes) battling the evil Darkseid. The main hero, Orion, rides around on little golden leg harnesses, uses his “Astro-Force” to blast away his enemies, and comes off like a grumpy old man as he quarrels with those trying to help him. This comic is baffling in its own self-reference and complexity, and biblical in its language and scope, but it’s absolutely a must-read for those who gravitate toward the weird and extra-dimensional. The closest piece of fiction one could compare The New Gods to are the latter novels in the Dune series, by Frank Herbert. And Kirby’s artwork is unparalleled in its ability to conjure grandeur with an economy of lines.

Cover for Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Tales. Illustrated by Corey Godbey. Photo courtesy of BOOM! Archaia.

Cover for Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Tales. Illustrated by Corey Godbey. Photo courtesy of BOOM! Archaia.

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Tales

Artist and writer Corey Godbey captures all of the charm and mystery of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, and turns that into a storybook for kids. Less of a true comic than a series of full illustrations with narration, this book is so beautifully illustrated it will absolutely stick in the minds of young ones. The illustrations by Godbey are honeyed and sweet, and the world presented is simply magical. Though children’s books aren’t often covered in this column, this work is an absolute must for readers with young children.

Cover for Black Hammer #3. Illustrated by Dean Ormston. Photo courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

Cover for Black Hammer #3. Illustrated by Dean Ormston. Photo courtesy of Dark Horse Comics.

Black Hammer #3

The heroes of Black Hammer used to be comic book heroes with rich backstories and varied interpersonal lives, but now they’ve been retconned. After a multidimensional crisis writes them out of their own stories, they’re forced to live in a small, timeless farming town. This issue focuses on Barbalien, the alien barbarian, as he attempts to adjust to his new life, and as he reminisces on how he got to earth to begin with. This is a hugely imaginative comic with wonderful art by Dean Ormston. If the series pitch intrigues readers, it’s probably best they go back to the start and try out issue #1.

Via The Creators Project.

Invisible 1 & 2.

In1Not too long ago, Jim C. Hines edited personal essays on representation in SF/F, and it was excellent and eye-opening. It was certainly uncomfortable at times, but that discomfort is just panicked relics of oblivious privilege trying to assert itself. I had more than a few stabs of serious guilt in reading this anthology, particularly the one about Albinism. (Having enjoyed that “evil Albino trope” more than a few times in the past, without ever thinking about actual people.) The essays in the first Invisible are:

Introduction by Alex Dally MacFarlane.

Parched, by Mark Oshiro.

Boys’s Books by Katharine Kerr.

Clicking by Susan Jane Bigelow.

The Princess Problem by Charlotte Ashley.

Autism, Representation, Success by Ada Hoffmann.

Gender in Genre by Kathryn Ryan.

‘Crazy’ About Fiction by Gabriel Cuellar.

Evil Albino Trope is Evil by Nalini Haynes.

Options by Joie Young.

Non-binary and Not Represented by Morgan Dambergs.

Representation Without Understanding by Derek Handley.

Shards of Memory by Ithiliana.

I Don’t See Color by Michi Trota.

SFF Saved My Life by Nonny Blackthorne.

In2If you missed Invisible the first time around, I could not possibly recommend it enough. While happily slumbering away under my rock, I was unaware that Invisible 2 had been put together and published. That’s been remedied, and like the 1st, this is excellent reading. As Jim C. Hines notes in the afterword, “They help us to become better readers, better writers, and better human beings.”

So many of these essays resonated, and others were serious wake up calls to stop being so bloody blinkered. Like the first anthology, this one is littered with highlights, bookmarks, and notes. Too Niche, by Lauren Jankowski about the complete invisibility of asexual people in SF/F was one of those that was a good smack on the head. In her essay, she mentions that Stephen Moffat declared Sherlock Holmes can’t be asexual because he’s too interesting. That left me spluttering and outraged. That’s an incredibly wrong, stupid, thoughtless, and insulting thing to say. Other essays which really hit home were Breaking Mirrors, Fat Chicks in SFF, Not Your Mystical Indian, Exponentially Hoping, and Colonialism, Land, and Speculative Fiction: An Indigenous Perspective. 

The Essays in Invisible 2 are:

Introduction by Aliette de Bodard.

Breaking Mirrors by Diana M. Pho

I’m Not Broken by Annalee Flower Horne.

Next Year in Jerusalem by Gabrielle Harbowy.

I am Not Hispanic, I am Puerto Rican, by Isabel Schechter.

No More Dried Up Spinsters by Nancy Jane Moore.

False Expectations by Matthew Thyer.

Text, Subtext, and Pieced-Together Lives by Angelia Sparrow.

Parenting as a Fan of Color by Kat Tanaka Okopnik.

Alien of Extraordinary Ability? by Bogi Takács.

Accidental Representation by Chrysoula Tzavelas.

Discovering the Other by John Hartness.

Lost in the Margins by Sarah Chorn.

Too Niche by Lauen Jankowski.

Fat Chicks in SFF by Alis Franklin.

Not Your Mystical Indian by Jessica McDonald.

Exponentially Hoping by Merc Rustad.

Colonialism, Land, and Speculative Fiction: An Indigenous Perspective by Ambelin Kwaymullina.

Nobody’s Sidekick: Intersectionality in Protagonists by SL Huang.

The Danger of the False Narrative by LaShawn Wanak.

Both these anthologies are excellent, if often uncomfortable, reading. Seriously recommended if you haven’t read them.

Cool Stuff Friday.

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A chain of koi fish float through an exhibit space, illuminating their immediate surroundings with a self-contained, warm orange glow. The works come from a familiar yet unexpected name: Frank Gehry. Early in his artistic career, Gehry created several visual installations and furniture designs, many in the late-20th century, that would influence his later accomplishments in architecture. Fish Lamps draws upon the flowing and undulating movement of the water species, an aesthetic that often made an appearance in Gehry’s singular building designs.

I have very few lamps, but I’d be happy to give some of these a home. Full Story at the Creators Project.

What should you wear to keep cool on a hot day? One word: plastics.

A form of polyethylene — the common plastic that makes up ClingWrap — is a promising candidate for a textile that prevents us from overheating, researchers say. Hopefully, it won’t look like those PVC bodysuits that pop up every Halloween.

Many researchers are trying to create cooling fabrics, from cloth inspired by squid skin to electroactive textiles. But the team led by Yi Cui, a materials scientist at Stanford University, was inspired by materials that we don’t usually consider for clothing. In a study published today in Science, the team turned a battery component into a textile that lets our body’s natural heat escape better than cotton. The team hasn’t worn the fabric themselves yet, but Cui insists it feels “very much like normal fabric” and hopes it will be commercialized within two years.

Full story at The Verge.

Supergirl creator developing a Black Lightning TV series.

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Supergirl and Arrow co-creator Greg Berlanti is reportedly developing a series following Black Lightning, one of DC Comics’ first major black superheroes. According to Deadline, Berlanti is working with The Game creator Mara Brock Akil and her husband to get the drama off the ground, and the trio are currently shopping the project to multiple networks.

Black Lightning has the chance to be DC’s highest profile black superhero series to date. Created in 1977 by writer Tony Isabella and artist Trevor Von Eeden, Black Lightning, otherwise known as Jefferson Pierce, is an educator and eventual member of the Justice League with the power to control electrical energy. In the proposed TV series, Pierce will have retired from superheroics, but after his daughter’s life is endangered by his city’s underworld, he willingly steps back into his old alter ego.

Full story here.

Marvel Does Star Wars.

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This was a very steady week for comics, as DC Comics continues to roll out their Rebirth-branded books and Marvel’s midway through Civil War II. Around the edges of both of those events hide great little comics, and though they’re not included on this week’s roundup, readers looking for big action and want to clue into the big tentpole events should check out DC’s Action Comics #962 (that’s a Superman comic) and Marvel’s Captain Marvel #8. This week in the roundup: Star Wars; a New York-centric indie comic; a tech-obsessed reintroduction to a great DC hero; and a wonderfully weird anthology.

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Cover for Star Wars #22. Cover illustrated by Mike Deodato Jr. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics.

This Star Wars comic series from Marvel attempts to fill in the gaps between the original trilogy and today’s films. At this point, the events of A New Hope have already taken place, and readers get to see Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, and a few new characters continue to stick it to the empire. It’s interesting to read a Star Wars adventure in as short a burst as a comic book, but the pacing is perfect, and the character interactions all feel true to the series. This issue sees the heroes trying to attack an imperial star destroyer, and it feels classically hopeless for the protagonists. This Star Wars series is recommended reading for anyone feeling like they need their SW fix.

Also covered by The Creators Project: Beef With Tomato, Blue Beetle Rebirth #1, and Island 10.

Ruh-Roh! Scooby Apocalypse!

Panel selection from Scooby-Doo Apocalypse #4. Illustrated by Howard Porter with colors by Hi-Fi. Screencap via the author.

Panel selection from Scooby-Doo Apocalypse #4. Illustrated by Howard Porter with colors by Hi-Fi. Screencap via the author.

The big news in comics this week is the leak that Disney Channel star Zendaya may be cast as the role of Spider-Man’s long-time love interest, Mary Jane Watson, in an upcoming reboot. And, in the most pathetic corners of Twitter, comic nerds are crying out because “Mary Jane can’t be black.” This is the worst of what comic/nerd/fandom culture can be, and anytime some “controversy” like this crops up, it makes one want to drop their trade paperbacks, shelve their video game systems, and run for the hills. For all the work that Marvel’s doing to amp up its diversity and push toward inclusion, there’s still, culturally, in a big-picture sense, a very long way to go. But it has to start at the top, and casting Zendaya in this role is another good, smart, bold step in the right direction.

As for this week in comic books, the best are strangely about horror, possession, apocalyptic stories…and Scooby-Doo.

Cover for Scooby Apocalypse #4. Cover illustrated by Jim Lee with Alex Sinclair. Photo courtesy DC Comics.

Cover for Scooby Apocalypse #4. Cover illustrated by Jim Lee with Alex Sinclair. Photo courtesy DC Comics.

How’s this for a premise? Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred all live in the near-future where a plague of nanobots have turned humans into bloodthirsty creatures inspired by classic movie monsters. In this verison of Scooby-Doo, Scoob can talk because he’s a cybernetically enhanced “Smart Dog,” Daphne and Fred are kickass documentarians that can handle huge rifles, Velma’s a super-scientist, and Shaggy has a twirly moustache. This issue sees the crew learning to work together as they’re chased from point to point. Dialogue heavy, this comic should please fans of Scooby-Doo and The Walking Dead.

Oh, I must have these. Why yes, I love Scoobert. Sparrow and Crowe: The Demoniac of Los Angeles #1, Broken Moon: Legends of the Deep #1, B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth #144 (from the pages of Hellboy) are also covered at The Creators Project, and they all look grand!

Marvel Fan-Fiction and Scottish Indies.

Cover for All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1. Illustrated by Alex Ross. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Cover for All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1. Illustrated by Alex Ross. Photo courtesy of Marvel Comics.

‘Annual’ releases exist in a strange place in the comic world. Created as a way to tell a different story in a series without interrupting the main plotline or numbering, some see annuals as a marketing gimmick. But, as evidenced by All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual #1, they can be a bold chance to think outside the box. This issue sees everyone’s favorite teen from Jersey City, Ms. Marvel, logging onto her favorite fan-fiction website to write some stories about her fellow heroes. Once logged on, she sees that other people have written stories about her and her friends, and she’s shocked but compelled to read on. The rest of this comic, then, are those fan-fiction stories of Marvel heroes. Layered, and with plenty of goofiness and a variety of styles, this annual does exactly what it should: it tells weird stories the regular comics certainly couldn’t.

[Read more…]

The Mystery Superhero In Wonder Woman Is…

EUGENE BRAVE ROCK

EUGENE BRAVE ROCK

Eeeeeeeeeeee, much excitement!

Eugene Brave Rock is the mysterious Native American hero in the highly-anticipated Wonder Woman movie to be released in 2017. But who will he be playing? Sadly, we still don’t know because Brave Rock isn’t allowed to tell us…at least not yet.

[…]

Back in March, ICTMN revealed a key moment in the Batman vs. Superman movie in which Bruce Wayne sees a photograph on his computer with Wonder Woman standing next to a mysterious Native American man (and three other soldiers) in an image from World War I. (See :57 seconds into below video)

To date, there is little to no information online about the character. We can only speculate that he might be one of the the characters either Apache Chief or Lone Shadow which has appeared in Justice League comics and cartoons.

Eugene Brave Rock spoke with ICTMN, and shared one bit of information. “I am only allowed to say I was in London for five months filming the Wonder Woman movie. That is all I am allowed to say,” said Brave Rock. He does add, “It was an amazing experience.”

That’s it. No spoilers, no character name, no insider news … that’s all Eugene Brave Rock could tell us. He says everything about his part is top secret. “When I was auditioning, they didn’t even tell me it was for Wonder Woman.”

Brave Rock did say that director Patty Jenkins — the first female director of a major DC franchise movie — and DC Comics were extremely respectful of Brave Rock’s Native heritage.

“DC really let me have a voice. Usually movies have a lot of do’s and dont’s and they tell you you have to do things a certain way, but in this case, even with wardrobe, it was awesome. In the end, they let me decide a lot about my character. Previously, movies have even told me how I had to braid my hair, and you don’t have a choice – but this was not the case.”

Vincent Schilling at ICTMN has the full story.

Marvel: World of Wakanda.

 Zenzi, in green, a revolutionary in Wakanda, the home of the Black Panther. Credit Marvel Entertainment

Zenzi, in green, a revolutionary in Wakanda, the home of the Black Panther. Credit Marvel Entertainment.

The world of the Black Panther, the Marvel Comics hero who hails from the fictional African country of Wakanda, is about to get bigger. Marvel announced on Friday a companion series, World of Wakanda, which is to premiere in November.

And just like the current Black Panther series, which is written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the author and a national correspondent for The Atlantic, the new comic will be written by newcomers to the industry: the feminist writer Roxane Gay and the poet Yona Harvey.

“My agent was not thrilled that I was taking on another project,” Ms. Gay said. But learning to write comics exercised different creative muscles, which she said she found exciting.

“It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever done, and I mean that in the best possible way,” she said.

Her story, written with Mr. Coates, will follow Ayo and Aneka, two lovers who are former members of the Dora Milaje, the Black Panther’s female security force. “The opportunity to write black women and queer black women into the Marvel universe, there’s no saying no to that,” she said.

The first issue of World of Wakanda will include a 10-page second story by Ms. Harvey about Zenzi, a female revolutionary who incited a riot in the first issue of the Black Panther series. Mr. Coates, who recruited both writers, said he thought it was important to have female voices help breathe life into these characters. “The women in Black Panther’s life are very, very important,” he said.

[…]

Having such a diverse group of creators, particularly women, comes at an important time. While superhero comics have been making great strides in the diversity of their characters, the same is not always true of their writers and artists. This disparity was part of the discussion when Marvel revealed that Riri Williams, a 15-year-old black genius, would don Iron Man’s armor. She was created by the writer Brian Michael Bendis, who is white, and the Brazilian artist Mike Deodato.

[…]

But both Mr. Alonso, who is Mexican-American, and Ms. Gay, who is black, understand where fans’ impatience comes from. “In general, people of color are underrepresented in most storytelling,” Ms. Gay said. There is also a frustration, at the onset of change, “when you get sort of a trickle, and you need a flood.”

Mr. Coates, a longtime fan, said he was aware of the arguments about gender and comic books. “We have to open the door,” he said. “It’s not, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if there are more women writers, more women creators in comics?’ That would be nice, but in many ways, it is kind of an imperative.”

He recalled an editor at Marvel’s being asked why Captain Marvel, who once wore a revealing costume, switched to a more militaristic uniform. The editor said he wanted his daughter to be able to dress as the hero for Halloween. “The idea is that the world of comic books, the Marvel universe, should be as open to his daughter as it is to my son,” Mr. Coates said. “I think that’s so important.”

Full Story here. Seriously looking forward to this!