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Tag Archives: Comic Books

Divas, Dames, & Daredevils

A fun book hit my reading table recently, courtesy of my local public library, Divas, Dames, & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics. Written by Mike Madrid, the book is a collection of stories about heroines from the dawn of comics and includes a good deal of history about the characters and the industry.

Divas focuses in on books from the 30’s and 40’s, in a time when comics were still raw and their pulp foundations were still strong. It was a time before the Comics Code Authority sapped the life out of the books, blunting their edge and taming their characters. The heroines of these stories are hard fighting, tough characters, of a kind we don’t expect to see before the 70’s and 80’s.

“In these very early days of comic books, there weren’t as many established rules about how women characters should or shouldn’t act. As a result, many of these Golden Age heroines feel bold and modern as we read them today.”

Divas, Dames, & Daredevils – pg. 15

And bold they are.

I’ve been a comic book fan for most of my life. The pulp and super hero genres are favorites of my gaming group and one of the things we love to do is find obscure characters and introduce them into our games. This book presents us with a collection of adventurers and super heroes that covers quite a spectrum of styles.

“Modern day comic book readers might be surprised at the broad spectrum of heroines in Golden Age comics – daring masked vigilantes, queens of lost civilizations and intergalactic warriors, crafty reporters and master spies, witches and jungle princesses, goddesses and regular gals.”

Divas, Dames, & Daredevils – pg. 15

Madrid breaks the book up into sections based on different heroic styles, such as Women at War about heroines fighting in WWII, Mystery Women in the same style as The Shadow and The Spider, and Warriors & Queens whose adventures rival the likes of Flash Gordon. Each section includes a bit of history, and introduction to the featured characters, and a reprint of several adventures.

Because these characters come from anthology comics, their stories are short and tight. This does come at the cost of depth and the stories are simplistic compared to comics today, but this will be nothing new to readers familiar with golden age comics.

There are several characters who stood out in particular for me. One is Madame Strange, a vengeful woman of mystery who exterminates Axis spies without mercy. Among the Mystery Women, Mother Hubbard caught my attention for being a classic old witch complete with broomstick and potions, but who wields her black magic against crime. My favorite of the Daring Dames is Calamity Jane, a hard boiled noir detective who has more in common with Phillip Marlowe than the femme fatales he deals with.

Then there is Wildfire, a heroine with a magical power over flames. Wildfire stands out in this collection, as she is a character who would be at home in the Justice Society. Wildfire enjoys being a heroine and wields her abilities with wit and humor, showing the same “daring do” as Jay Garrick’s Flash or Johnny Storm’s Human Torch.

Another intriguing character is The Sorceress of Zoom, who possesses vast magical powers and travels the world via a city on a cloud. The Sorceress is interesting because she is not a hero, not intentionally. She is motivated by a selfish desire to expand her power and she is willing to kidnap and threaten innocent people to achieve her goals, but she does follow a personal code of honor. The Sorceress collects power for its own sake, but she comes into conflict with those who would use it for base villainy. In the end she defeats these petty mortals, rewards those who have served her well, and moves on to seek her next adventure.

It’s a delight to see these characters, heroines who have an edge and allowed to take the lead, and there is a sense of discovery as you read about these characters who have been lost to time. Madrid has a passion for these characters and it comes through in his writing. If you’re interested in the history of comic books, the role of women in early comics, or just want to read some fun adventures, I recommend getting your hands on Divas, Dames, & Daredevils.

DD&D

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Books and Comics, History, Pulps, Reviews

 

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This is a Real Thing?

Redemption! The collectable card game of biblical battles.

“Redemption┬« is a collectible trading card game of biblical adventure. Players use Heroes to rescue Lost Souls, overcoming any Evil Characters that oppose them.”

Redemption Game Website

Christian themed games are nothing new in the gaming industry. Usually they’re pretty lousy but sometimes they have clever ideas, like the fantasy role playing game DragonRaid where characters read bible verses to invoke divine powers. I think that idea is cool and I’m far from being religious.

So finding a Christian collectable card game, let alone one in its 4th edition, isn’t surprising at all. What is surprising is the artwork:

90’s Style God will redeem you, WITH HIS FIST!

Did they get Rob Liefeld to do the artwork? Christian theology says man was created in God’s image. If this cover represents God, then something got lost in the process and I think we’re better off. I kind of like having a ribcage.

I do find some amusement in agents of the divine will competing to see how many souls they can save. “Hah! In your face Gabriel!”

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2015 in Gaming, Weirdness

 

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Avengers Confidential – A Review

Back in January I posted my high hopes for the Marvel animated movie Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher. I opted to wait for my library to get it and I have finally had the chance to watch it. The result?

It’s… not the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

But it’s far from the best.

Animation: The artwork runs between “meh” and lousy. The male characters are okay but I’m not sure the artists have ever seen a human female. Everyone is stretched out in proportions, but this is worse for the women. For example, Maria Hill’s neck is as long as her head is tall. There are also so many impossible spine poses and gratuitous boob shots that I was checking to see if Greg Land was in the credits.

Plot: Serviceable. Though not without big holes. Such as the minor villain being surprised to see the Punisher at the secret lab. The same secret lab the villain had just told the Punisher about two scenes earlier.

Characters: There are really only three characters in this movie; Black Widow, Punisher, and 2nd In Command Villain. He has a name. I’ve already forgotten it. There are tons of other characters, like the Avengers and the master villain. They show up. They do a few things. Some of them even get lines. Captain Marvel does not.

I actually forgot that War Machine was there.

There are a bunch of other villains who make brief appearances and are never named. Fans who have read the comics will know who they are. Anyone who has only seen the Marvel movies will have no clue. Worse yet, they won’t have any reason to care.

Action: The law of Conservation of Ninjistu is in full force. The fights are dull. The army of mind controlled super soldiers love to stand around allowing the heroes to pose and give dialog. Which brings me to the next point.

Dialog: 10% of the dialog is awkward cliches. 90% is exposition. I’m not kidding, they stop entire fights to explain things. They seem to have forgotten that movies are a visual medium and the principle of “show, don’t tell” is more alien than a Skrull armada. I get that two of the principle characters are Russian, but Dostoyevsky would tell them to speed things up.

I actually startled my wife when I exclaimed, “my god, just shut up,” at the screen. That and, “please just shoot him,” became my mantra for the rest of the film, which is something you shouldn’t have to say in a movie featuring the Punisher.

Remember Tuco’s Rule:

You’d think this would be standard S.H.I.E.L.D. training.

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher is disappointing, especially when you consider how much momentum they have coming off their live action movies. It’s a poor showing for a movie that headlines one of their most prominent female heroes, one in which she gets top billing, and any opportunities for other characters to shine are crushed under the volumes of unnecessary dialog. It’s far from the worst animated superhero movie I’ve seen, but do yourself a favor and watch a few episodes of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes instead. It will be a better use of your time.

 

 

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