When people complain that XMFC Havok is too old to be Cyclops’ brother, I just think, if you can’t handle the Summers family not making sense, you will not have a nice time here.
This is the most accurate post on the internet.
I think in this context a few years here and there don’t really mean much (although I remain convinced the X-mansion is probably a Tardis).
Always going to reblog that time where Charles was truly a sparkly unicorn.
Holy shit what Charles the unicorn is a real thing!?
Yes! In X-Treme X-Men!
Can anybody actually explain how Rob Liefeld got so popular?
codenamecesare said: When he started out, his style was in sync with what was popular: a million lines on faces, everything shiny & overblown. His designs were distinctive and it wasn’t yet obvious that he could only draw grimaces, pouches, bandoliers & cleavage.
So it was well-timed novelty? I’m just trying to imagine the environment that would make so many people look at his work and say, “Wow!” but then completely hate it a relatively short time later.
It didn’t happen that fast. He was popular for quite a few years… at least from ‘91 through ‘96 or so— ‘96 was the year Liefeld was ousted from Image Comics.
People started to dislike him because the times changed and he stayed the same. “Liefeld never learned to draw anything other than early-90s feathered, blow-dried hair that doesn’t touch the ears”— that’s a good example. His work started to look more and more dated because he wasn’t learning to draw new things. So his moment came and went.
Other artists who gained popularity in the ’90s big-shiny-liney era either developed a more up-to-date or unique style, or moved into supervisory roles like Jim Lee. Rob Liefeld just kept doing the same thing, and some of his worst habits got increasingly exaggerated (possibly in an attempt to develop his style, but someone should have told him that choices like elongating women’s legs from ‘unrealistic’ to ‘comical’ lengths isn’t a style.) Comics readers looked on him as more and more of a joke until he became the hate magnet he is today.
(Disclaimer: I am speaking as a scholar and a fan. Most of the links below are to Wikipedia articles, because they’re actually pretty good and are the most accessible forms of information. They also serve as a method of shaming the crap out of anyone who would say there weren’t any women knights in the Middle Ages so we don’t have stories about them because I found some of these links in about 5 seconds.)
So there is a lot of wrong on the part of Millar, McFarlane, and Conway, as detailed in the io9 post linked above, and it’s extremely gratifying to see so many people pointing out how wrong they are. Much has been said about the astounding myopia involved in Millar’s statement that rape is just another bad thing bad people do, so it’s not that big a deal, and the MMcC consensus that comics aren’t for ladies, so I want to focus on this statement from Gerry Conway (Punisher):
I think it’s a mistake to sort of, like, pigeonhole superheroes, or to add so much to superheroes that you’re missing the fact it’s a genre within itself. It’s like saying, ‘Why are there no medieval stories about female knights?’ Because there was only one, you know, Joan of Arc. … It’s an inherent limitation of that particular genre, superheroes.”
My admittedly tiny ladybrain (tiny despite being in possession of a PhD specializing in the very time period Conway so authoritatively discusses) cannot comprehend the levels of factual and logical wrongness in the above quotation. However, I have the feeling that this is less to do with the limitations of my cognitive abilities and more to do with the fact that the level of oh my god no WRONG WRONG WRONG that Conway achieves, both factually and logically, is roughly equivalent to, oh, Washington Irving’s glorification of Columbus as a wise, inspired, and benevolent leader who had the misfortune of living in a time of lesser mortals.
Originally I was going to do a whole long thing about Badass Women Throughout Time, but I’ll assume that most everyone knows about the Amazons, whether through Ovid’s Metamorphoses or Wonder Woman or both (or, hey, Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale). Instead, I’ll focus on the history and literature of the period at hand and just give you some links with descriptions. Some of the material that isn’t readily available online I’ll paraphrase.
Badass historical women
- Boudica: Queen of the Iceni Celts, led a nearly-successful uprising against Roman occupation (d. AD 61, ~1400 years before JoA)
- Æthelflæd: the “Lady of the Mercians” and eldest daughter of Alfred the Great, took over rule of the kingdom of Mercia following her husband’s death, led successful raids against the town of Derby and the Welsh, defended her people against Norse invaders both on the field and in her building of extensive fortifications. Her daughter succeeded her as Lady for six months following her death before she was deposed by Edward the Elder (d. 920, ~500 years before JoA)
- [ETA because a friend pointed this out]: Viking women during the later migration and invasion period were buried with swords: http://bonesdontlie.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/viking-women-a-reinterpretation-of-the-bones/]
- Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd: Welsh noblewoman who helped to lead both an outright and guerilla revolt against Norman and English colonists (d. 1136, ~300 years before JoA)
- Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen Consort of France and England, who led the Aquitanian forces in the (unsuccessful) Second Crusade as the ducal captain, in addition to being a politically powerful woman and one of the great patrons of art and literature in the High Middle Ages (d. 1204, ~230 years before JoA)
- Johanna of Flanders: total badass who, during the Breton War of Succession, dressed in armor and took up arms to defend the town of Hennebont from Charles of Blois, her husband’s rival. Under her command, the town held out until English reinforcements arrived (d. 1374, ~40 years before JoA)
(For badass women postdating Joan of Arc and running into the early modern period, see also Catherine of Aragon [who rode into battle fully armored and pregnant] and Margaret of Anjou, who led the Lancastrians against the Yorkists in the War of the Roses.)
Badass medieval women in romance
It’s important to note that there are, of course, plenty of historical and mythological antecedents that medieval authors knew, including important Latin works such as the Metamorphoses and Aeneid (with Camilla, its warrior virgin), as well as Biblical heroines such as Tamar and Judith. Their knowledge of Greek sources was, until the later Middle Ages, acquired through Latin translations and commentaries, or Roman intermediaries such as Ovid, Virgil, and Horace. There were also multiple badass women in the mythologies of earlier Northern Europe, including Grendel’s mother and Modthryth in Beowulf, the Valkyries of Norse legend, and Mebh of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. I’m going to focus on French material because it’s less well known, and it’s also more geographically and temporally proximate with Joan of Arc.
- Roman de Silence (Old French, 13th c.) A partial reworking of the story of Iphis and Ianthe in the Metamorphoses; the girl Silence is brought up as a boy to get around restrictive inheritance laws, and her accomplishments include the acquisition of typically male skills, including fighting and hunting.
- Tristan de Nanteuil(Old French, 14th c.)also features the Iphis plot in the tale of Blanchandine, who disguises herself as a knight to avoid rape and is actually better at chivalry than most of the men in the court; Kimberlee Campbell argues that, in Tristan, the ability to perform chivalric (ergo, masculine) actions is actually divorced from biological masculinity.
- Yde et Olive (Old French, 14th c.) is another Iphis-type story, in which the heroine, Yde, disguises herself as a young man in order to escape from her father’s incestuous advances. She has a number of knightly adventures before ending up in the court of Oton of Rome, who is so impressed by her that he wants her to marry his only daughter, Olive. Yde confesses her true sex to Olive before their wedding night, with Olive agreeing to keep her secret; unfortunately, some jerk betrays them to Oton, but Yde is miraculously transformed into a man before her biological femininity can be established.
- The Book of the City of Ladies (Old French, c. 1405 and so contemporaneous with Joan of Arc). By Christine de Pizan, aka the most badass woman writer ever, who also wrote a poem in praise of Joan of Arc in addition to numerous other works, including a translation called The Book of Arms and Chivalry, on the art of warfare. (Yeah, a lady wrote book about warfare. Awesome, huh?) The City of Ladies, which everyone should read, is Christine’s response both to the larger, misogynist tradition of European clerical writing and to the “Quarrel of the Rose,” a dispute over the misogyny of the hugely popular Romance of the Rose. (BTW, Christine is possibly the first woman on record who was told to calm down and stop taking things so seriously when it comes to misogyny, it’s just a poem.) In the book, a fictionalized Christine is consoled by the ladies Reason, Rectitude and Justice, who point out hundreds of examples of brave, virtuous women from ancient, classical, and contemporary times. These examples include queens who went to war both to defend and enlarge their realms. (I’m sad to say my copy is packed up at the moment, or I would give some of the many women mentioned.) While Christine holds that warfare is not naturally women’s province, she insists that, when women have to make it their province, they are capable soldiers and commanders.
It is worth noting that the three romances above feature women disguising themselves as men in order to escape from wrongful or abusive patriarchal authority: the rapist, the incestuous father, the laws that withhold property from women. While they all end conventionally—Silence’s biological sex is revealed and she marries, both Blanchandine and Yde become men in order to match biology to gender role—they also challenge (successfully) the absolute binding of masculine roles (warfare, chivalry, music, scholarship) to a masculine body. The heroines of the romances are so successful at passing for knights that they are mistaken for men.
Conway’s argument fails evidentially—there is plenty in the historical and literary record to prove Joan of Arc was not an anomaly—and, therefore, logically. Cross-dressing romances and warrior queens complicate the traditional historical narrative that we get fed in basic history and popular culture. They also expand the genres of the romances and chansons de geste beyond the brave dude knight and swooning lady in her castle in ways that, despite their conventional endings, leave open the possibility of transgression in tantalizing ways: even if lesbianism is foreclosed in the canon of the narrative (to use fandom-speak), the possibility that a woman could permanently eschew conventional social roles is still there. It exists beyond the endings of the texts as a “what-if”—a question that is ripe for answering in contemporary literature and culture.
I would pay money, in all honesty, for a comic, a short story, a movie, whatever, that takes the ideas in the romances and runs with them. What if Silence says “fuck you” and runs away? What if Yde or Blanchandine elect to remain as women and marry their fiancees and go off to fight in wars and slay dragons? The reception of narrative, contrary to what Conway implies, is almost never wholly about stasis or preservation: it’s about recreation and adaptation. Medieval authors were certainly capable of it; modern authors should be too. As such the presence of women in comics only expands and enriches the genre; it doesn’t destroy it, just as the presence of badass women on the medieval battlefield or in the medieval romance adds new textures and possibilities to their own worlds.
Which is why asking creators to write strong, well-rounded superheroines (or even characters who do not serve as the vehicle for the male protagonist’s development) should not be a Herculean task. If you take five minutes to look for it, the history and tradition are there. The seeds for really solid, transformatively creative and innovative work are there. That major male creators are so blinkered and so astoundingly unwilling to see that is a sad comment on a medium that has always defined itself by its creativity, its conscious difference from the tradition of “high” literature and culture.