Sexy Spidey outrages mom

200903300344 Sexy Spidey outrages mom
As reported late last week, a mother in Millard, Nebraska was shocked by the sexual undertones in a Spider-Man graphic novel that her six-year-old son checked out of the local school library:

“It has a lot of sexual undertones in here, as far as sexuality goes,” she said. “They can learn this through any other place, but it’s not something I allow them to learn, in my house at least.”

Svendsen said she’s actively involved with her four children’s educations and said comic books like the one in question hold little literary value. She said she’s especially concerned about her 6-year-old son, who’s still developing reading skills.


The exact nature of the undertones was not mentioned, in the news report; however, more than likely the culprit was once again…an underwear-type thing, as Mary Jane was romping around in a bikini. It’s safe to say that this mother is almost certainly correct in suspecting that her young son will eventually show great interest in a sexy redhead with giant gazongas bending over in a bikini, so give her a point on that one, okay?

ICV2 identifies the actual GN as
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN VOL. 2: REVELATIONS, written by J. Michael Straczynski, and points out that the age rating on the book is PG — for age 12 and up.

In this case Marvel’s own age rating indicates that book is not intended for 6-year-olds and would be more appropriate in a junior high school or high school library.

UPDATE: Does anyone want to wade into the 13 pages of comments on the original story, because today we sure don’t have time for it.

Comments

  1. Kid Kyoto says:

    Whoa… actual jouranlism pointing out the angry mom did NOT pay attention to the rating?

    Well done.

  2. Uhm, doesn’t the six year old see women on the beach in bikinis? I mean, come on. OH my word, my six year old son is going to learn about sexuality! The horrors!

    I love this sentence: “They can learn this through any other place, but it’s not something I allow them to learn, in my house at least.” Isn’t she sort of saying “They can learn all about sex anywhere else, but NOT in my house! We’re a sexual free home!” or did I miss something? LOL

  3. Whatever the appropriateness of the work for a 6 year old (probably not), and whatever its literary values (negligible I suspect), reading it likely did in fact improve the kid’s reading skills. Reading anything above grade level does this, and comics in particular have been shown to work in double-blind experiments to improve reading skills.

  4. Why is MJ’s skin so pale?

  5. Apparently, word hasn’t filtered through the protective bubble surrounding Millard, Nebraska that there are these things called “beaches” where scantically-clad supermodels run free.

  6. Okay… as a former resident of Omaha, Nebraska, (of which Millard is a part, having been annexed in the 1970s), some information… Norris Elementary has classes from pre-kindergarten to grade six. The age rating on this book would suggest a middle-school audience, and some of that is served by this school. It is possible, given the popularity of the character and the possible professional reviews, the librarians of the Millard School District felt this was an acceptable title.

    As a librarian, I know that the first question asked of a challenged book is “Did you read the book?” If memory serves, there wasn’t much to criticize in the text, and the above screen capture seems to depict a picture of Mary Jane posing as a fashion model, which deepens Peter Parker’s separation from his wife.

    The parent does have the responsibility and power to control what her children are exposed to, ESPECIALLY in her home. She is correct in making her feelings known, and hopefully proper procedure will be followed by the school district.

    While Omaha is a conservative Midwestern city, it is also methodical and practical. When a city councilman issued a resolution requesting that the Omaha Public Library not shelve Madonna’s “Sex”, a former congressman donated two copies which were placed on special reserve (the only title thus controlled), and the library board heard three months of discussion before tabling the issue.

    As for the mother, I suggest “Mo and Jo : Fighting Together Forever” by Jay Lynch and Dean Haspiel (ages 4+). I gave a copy to my four-year-old nephew (in the midst of his superhero phase), and it’s now his favorite book! (And there’s a lesson plan on the Toon Book website!)

    For the record, one of the first books I read was “Spidey Super Stories #4″, recommended by the Easy Reader (Morgan Freeman) of the Electric Company. During that time, Marvel had the Jackal clone story running in the regular “Amazing” line, and I remember a nude Gwen Stacy exiting her clone chamber, aided by Dr. Warren. (Her long blond hair tastefully covered her tender, vulnerable, curvaceous, lithe body…)

  7. (And Nebraska is landlocked. The only “beaches” are the sandbars of the Platte River. “Too wet to plow, too muddy to drink.”)

    Although… Jaime King is from Omaha, so we do have supermodels…

  8. Steve Taylor says:

    It seems to me if a parent is that concerned about such things, that they have an obligation to their kids and themselves to check these things out before it gets to the kid. My kid wouldn’t have gotten out of the library with that damnable comic with out me perusing it first. I can’t believe the shit that passes for “news” these days.

  9. mark coale says:

    I expected to find the words “home schooled” in the discussion.

  10. Tommy Raiko says:

    “It seems to me if a parent is that concerned about such things, that they have an obligation to their kids and themselves to check these things out before it gets to the kid. My kid wouldn’t have gotten out of the library with that damnable comic with out me perusing it first.”

    While I agree with this sentiment, I suspect it can’t quite fully apply here.

    It seems that this kid checked out the book from his school library, not a public library. Few parents have the opportunity to accompany their children on visits to school libraries, and most parents would only learn what their kids checked out from the school library after the kids home from school. So asserting that a parent should (or even could) read what a kid picks up from a school library before check out isn’t necessarily a realistic suggestion.

  11. A lot of this is Marvel’s fault for wanting to have it both ways. They market Spidey as an icon for very small children but then put out “mature” comics for the fanboys. It would be like having a line of Goodfellas Bubble Bath.

    Yes, obviously in this instance the library screwed up and perhaps the mom is overreacting but Marvel has made millions from two completely separate demographics that want completely opposite things while expecting there would never be a backlash.

  12. “It has a lot of sexual undertones in here, as far as sexuality goes,” she said.

    Her comment had many stupid overtones, as far as stupidity goes.

  13. Great point Joe Williams!
    If Marvel keeps marketing to our kids…put out GOOD BOOKS FOR THEM!

    It’s just disgusting how they can’t put out any decent All Ages books….but will bombard our kids with their characters on underwear, lunchboxes, and the like.

    I love Spider-Man…my kids love him. But the only thing we can enjoy of him is the old 60’s animated series.

    Seriously….they need to step up.

  14. Parents… have you looked at http://marvelkids.marvel.com/ ?

    Marvel Adventures is geared towards the school-age reader. The latest issue of MA: Spider-Man had an ironic tale of Spider-Man battling Arcade, and relying on Flash Thompson’s videogame skills to defeat the villain. All ages? I’d say so. I’m 39 and enjoy the occasional issue. Would I read it to my nephew? Depends on the story.

    My criticism is that Marvel doesn’t produce anything for the pre-kindergarten set, the kids who are going through the superhero phase but don’t have anything to read. I’d love to see a Marvel version of the Johnny DC Superfriends title. Something like their Super Hero Squad toys. Something I can give my nephew (who knows all about Spider-Man) so that he’ll learn to enjoy comics. Something that isn’t filled with the usual sadness inherent in the Marvel Adventure titles. Something fun. Looks like I’ll have to dig through the back-issue bins for Spider Super Stories…

  15. Alan Coil says:

    I really wish we could all go back to the 60s where all things were so much simpler. Or maybe the 50s. Hell, let’s go back to the 18th century. Or maybe back to the Dark Ages. Weren’t no evil Spider-Man or Telly-vision back then.

  16. I have a 7 year old and we subscribe to MA: Spider-Man for him but I certainly enjoy it when we read them together. The Marvel Adventures books are not bad, do a good job of introducing the characters and they keep it family friendly. I do think they need better editing as I’m constantly finding typos and poor/confusing storytelling which could confuse many kids- frankly, a lot of times it seems these books are an afterthought. Every issues seems to have a new artist with a different art style. I get the feeling they’re using them as tryouts for new artists.

    I think Marvel and DC have tried to put out good books for kids. The problem is that when you are a corporate entity you have to decide who your audience is- is it kids or is it aging fanboys who want grim and gritty? Are you Disney or Kevin Smith? Is your most well-known corporate icon a family-friendly product seen on bubble baths or an adult-oriented vehicle with plotlines containing radioactive jizz? Jack Daniels doesn’t sponsor Saturday morning cartoons and Dora the Explorer doesn’t feature rape as a plot element- for good reasons which most companies seem to understand. It can cause real trouble when stories like this come out- it reminds the adult audience that most people see Spidey as kid stuff and says to parents to not buy Spidey comics for their kids.

    Also, Mini Marvels is awesome and I think Marvel should try to make it a monthly. By keeping their kids line more cartoony Marvel could do a better job of differentiating between the lines (like DC does with the Johnny DC books- nobody could confuse Tiny Titans with Teen Titans). I also think if Marvel has an adults-only line they should use it.

  17. THe problem with Marvel Adventures is…they’re not very good.
    They’re not written for All Ages.
    They’re 90’s style art. With lots of breaking borders and harsh coloring.
    Difficult for young readers.

    The stories are goofy…watered down. THey’re not COOL. They’re not fun.

    A good example of GOOD writing for all ages?
    Pick up the old Stan Lee Spider-Man. Big words. Fun stories. Easy to follow art.

    What’s so hard about that?

    I make all ages comics. And I tackle it from a more ANIMATION point of view. It works for kids. Keep it simple with the art. But write a story YOU would like to read. Just keep it clean.

  18. Everybody has an opinion, but no one seems to know anything about this issue. What are the “sexual undertones of a sexual nature”? So far, all we’ve seen is MJ in a bikini at a photo shoot. Does she go topless for the remainder of the pictorial?? The panel reproduced above seems pretty harmless — except maybe in Nebraska.

  19. Steven R. Stahl says:

    Marvel repeatedly tried creating titles for children prior to the MARVEL ADVENTURES line. They all failed to find readers, as I recall. It may be that the ADVENTURES titles have succeeded because Marvel fans buy them in addition to their usual series and tie-ins purchases.

    In the “Marvel Heroes” titles I read, the stories refrain from depicting sex scenes, even implied ones, but Bendis and others have indulged in *^#(-type obscenities. In most cases, it’s been easy to figure out what curse word is being used. I suppose the writers find the masked curses preferable to such inoffensive lines as “Blast your eyes!”

    I’ve read such superhero MAX titles as the CAGE and Gerber’s HOWARD THE DUCK miniseries, and been satisfied, but I doubt that putting the FF, Avengers, or other mainstream heroes in MAX titles and including overt sexual content would go over well. Too many members of the general public who see superheroes as strictly kid stuff would be confused and/or offended. There have been implied sex scenes in Marvel comics since the ‘70s, but they haven’t caused problems, to my knowledge.

    SRS

  20. Garrett says:

    This woman also purchased some clothes for young adults and now they don’t fit her kid! THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

  21. Nathan Marik says:

    Okay, let me start off by saying I live in Omaha, NE. (Millard is part of Omaha). We unfortunately have some pretty slow news days in these parts, thus things like this end up being “the Big Story” along with a news reporter freezing his butt off outside of school at 10:05 at night after it’s been closed for hours so that he can deliver some lines that could have been done in the studio… but anyway…

    I want to take a moment to point out that this kind of stuff happens all over the place… not just Nebraska, so knock it off with the cheap shots.

    Do I agree with the mother, yes and know. I disagree with her statement that there is no literary value to the comic. Reading is reading, and it’s already been pointed out here that comics are engaging to young minds, thus the comprehension tends to be high. However, you cannot fault her for wanting to know what her child is reading and if it’s appropriate or not. More parents should be so concerned. You may not agree with her assessment of what’s appropriate or not, but that’s a completely different issue.

    I also have to agree with what many of you have stated in that Marvel needs to have a full product line for kids. I want them to keep producing comics for me, the aging fanboy, but I also want them to produce the material that I had as a child so that I know that all my kids and nieces and nephews can experience the same joy that I did as a kid whenever I opened up a new issue. With as popular as many comic characters are these days, and with no signs of Hollywood slowing down on comic sourced material, there needs to be a CLEAR for kids product line. Otherwise comics will continue to get this kind of bad press and will keep having the same image problem over and over (Valid media vs. for kids)

  22. Nathan Marik says:

    Wow… I need to proof read a little better before I hit submit.

    Sorry folks.

  23. She has a 6-year-old? At least we can gauge the last time she got laid…

  24. AERose says:

    Val D’Orazio is going to throw a fit.

  25. Mr. Sava’s right about the Marvel Adventures line. They suffer from multiple personality disorder. The stories are toned down and kinda, well, dumb at times, while the art can be very hard to follow. This is especially true on the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man books. Meanwhile, the Iron Man books look pretty but are incredibly verbose and make my eyes roll into my head. The X-Men First Class books seem to avoid these problems and have a good balance of words and art.

    The one series my 12 year old reads is the Power Pack series. The art style is very cartoony and open, and is a great intro to the Marvel characters. My 6 year old son has a take it or leave it attitude to most of the MA line. Meanwhile they both read Sonic and a lot of DC’s Johnny DC line; “Tiny Titans” is a big hit in our house.

    Mr. Sava’s also right about the classics. My daughter is reading my old beat-up Masterworks X-Men; she says Stan’s dialogue is a little tough to get thru but she’s enjoying it.

  26. Alan Coil says:

    Nathan Marik said:

    “…with a news reporter freezing his butt off outside of school at 10:05 at night after it’s been closed for hours so that he can deliver some lines that could have been done in the studio…”

    Yeah. This goes along with the reporting style of having a reporter stand outside where the wind is about to blow him away just so he can inform us that a hurricane is near. They’ll stop this reporting when one of their reporters gets injured or killed by flying debris.

  27. Matt D says:

    My 7 year old loves the Power Pack books for what it’s worth. I have to be careful because he wants to read them and reread them every night. He loved Bone too, but that sort of goes without saying.

    As for the Adventures line, there’s been some incredible work by Marc Sumerak, Fred Van Lente and Jeff Parker, even if Parker’s stuff is a little in-jokey. Not only are their comics great all-ages comics but they’re some of the best stuff that Marvel’s been putting out. And Mini-Marvels is great too. Big hit with the youngen.

    Now DC’s all ages stuff is pretty loathsome and simplistic right now. Compare the Superfriends comic to the Ty Templeton or Scott McCloud cartoon tie-ins. (The Torres ones are pretty good for what it’s worth).

  28. John DiBello says:

    Scott and Sphinx, don’t agree with you on the Marvel Adventures books at all. Avengers especially is fun, joyful, and exciting, and there was a recent Dr. Strange issue that proved this character can be written with humor and still be faithful to the basic premise.

    And Matt, I disagree with you about the DC all-ages comics. I’m not a huge fan myself of Tiny Titans or Superfriends, but Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade is one of the cleverest and most energetic female-fronted comics in a long time, and Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam is not only fun but visually unique and distinct.

    Then again, as they say, your mileage may vary. What matters most is what the kids like and enjoy, and I can’t personally comment on that. Just wanted to point out that with or without M.J. washing the Spider-Suit or posing in a bikini, there’s a wide variety of comics for all ages, and that’s something the industry hasn’t had at the Big Two for a long time.

  29. I have a sneaking, sinking suspicion that I might know what upset her, and I don’t think it was MJ in the bikini. That book, famously, contains the issue where Aunt May discovers Peter’s secret identity, and they have a long talk about it. That long talk includes the following bit of dialogue from Aunt May:

    “Well, ever since you were a teenager, I knew you were hiding SOMETHING. On top of that you were quiet and sensitive, you didn’t like sports, you were awkward around girls, and….

    “…to tell the truth, Peter, for a while I thought maybe you were gay. Which I was prepared to accept either way, because you were still you.

    “I mean, I knew something was in the closet. Could’ve been chiffon. Who knew it was a costume?”

    (Good God I love that issue.)

    I can’t KNOW, of course, that it was this particular set of word balloons that got this woman’s hackles up. But… I gotta wonder.

  30. Steve Taylor says:

    Not to seem too contentious here,…Tommy Raiko,…sir. But,…”you suspect”,…and “it seems”,…ain’t gonna’ cut the mustard when it comes to the mental health and well being of the modern comics perusing, library going, elementary schooler. A parent has to be vigilant to the point of familiarizing themselves with the contents of the school library if they are THAT concerned about the affects of a bikini clad comic book character on tiny minds. To rail to the news after perusing the book once said pre-pube is all the way home with it,…is to be closing the corral gate after the livestock has vamoosed! So, that, while asserting that a parent should (or even could) read what a kid picks up from a school library before check out isn’t necessarily realistic, neither is assuming that a given school library is going to stock its shelves with the kinds of reading material that every uptight parent would like. Not to brag, but, my kid went to two different schools and I had a real damn good idea of what was in the libraries and classroom bookshelves of both. This sounds more like a case of someone wanting someone else to do some of their parenting for them. WHICH does seem attractive. But, again, not realistic. (With all due respect.)

    And as far as the idea that Marvel or any comics company SHOULD have a line of kid friendly books,…why,…it’s patently absurd. You want kid friendly books? Make ‘em yourselves.

  31. alex cox says:

    “THe problem with Marvel Adventures is…they’re not very good.
    They’re not written for All Ages.”

    First of all, kids love them. LOVE them.

    Secondly, off the top of my head I can think of Fred Van Lente and Jeff Parker, both incredibly talented guys, who write for that line, and do excellent work.

    So you have at least two talented guys who have done great work, and work that kids go nuts for. I see it every day.

    In short, I disagree with your comment.

  32. Dennis V. says:

    Dani Atkinson wrote: “I can’t KNOW, of course, that it was this particular set of word balloons that got this woman’s hackles up. But… I gotta wonder.”

    Sheeze… that’s an awful big stretch in your assumption… something that Plastic Man would be envious of. I just love how this woman is being attacked for being a prude. Being stupid. Not getting laid enough. And now maybe a suspected homophobe? Sigh…

  33. Tommy Raiko says:

    “Not to seem too contentious here,…Tommy Raiko,…sir. But,…”you suspect”,…and “it seems”,…ain’t gonna’ cut the mustard when it comes to the mental health and well being of the modern comics perusing, library going, elementary schooler. A parent has to be vigilant to the point of familiarizing themselves with the contents of the school library if they are THAT concerned about the affects of a bikini clad comic book character on tiny minds. To rail to the news after perusing the book once said pre-pube is all the way home with it,…is to be closing the corral gate after the livestock has vamoosed! So, that, while asserting that a parent should (or even could) read what a kid picks up from a school library before check out isn’t necessarily realistic, neither is assuming that a given school library is going to stock its shelves with the kinds of reading material that every uptight parent would like. Not to brag, but, my kid went to two different schools and I had a real damn good idea of what was in the libraries and classroom bookshelves of both. This sounds more like a case of someone wanting someone else to do some of their parenting for them. WHICH does seem attractive. But, again, not realistic. (With all due respect.)”

    Concessions to pragmatism notwithstanding, I would never suggest that a parent should abdicate the responsibilities of parenting to other parties, be they school libraries or anyone else. I do suspect that you and I agree more than we disagree about what a parent’s responsibilities are, and what other parties (libraries or otherwise) should and should not be made responsible for.

    As for this parent, and this school library, and this newscast–actually, to me this sounds like a case of someone who is not necessarily interested in wanting someone else to do some of their parenting, but also someone who is interested in manufacturing “won’t-someone-please-think-about-the-children” outrage (and, perhaps, in getting on TV.) Which aren’t necessarily the same thing.

  34. Steve Taylor says:

    Okay.

  35. Alan Coil says:

    Perhaps we should remove all the books from all the libraries so as to protect the “chillldrunnn”?

  36. Amie Brockway-Metcalf says:

    As the mom of a 5 1/2 year old and a frequent donator of comics to both our public and school libraries, this mom is totally right. My son doesn’t read PG books–there’s plenty of stuff for him to read, like Tiny Titans, Franklin Richards, Gon, Bone, etc etc. The librarian needs to be a little more on the ball here. Every time we give comics to the library, we have to be very specific in what place they will get shelved.

    I don’t care about the boobies–sheesh, we’ve got an original page from From Hell with nekkid hookers hanging outside my daughter’s bedroom–but it’s not appropriate material for a 6-year-old. There is some great age-appropriate stuff out there, and the library needs to know about it and not just think comics=kids.

  37. Alex and John…
    Thanks for disagreeing with me.
    :)

    But again. I stand by the fact that these books are not written well for kids.

    John. YOu mentioned that you have no experience as to kids…or what they may like. I can respect that.

    I do.

    I’m no expert though. Every kid is different. I have twin boys (6 years old).
    I also write for kids. But still…I wouldn’t call myself an expert.

    But I DO believe that storytelling for kids both in writing and art should be done in a certain way. So they can follow.

    From my exerience working with kids, I’ve seen signs that point in the direction of what I’m saying. Helping them learn to read. Watching where their eyes go from panel to panel. Which books they skim through. Which ones they are engrossed in.

    Alex.
    While I’m sure these writers may be good writers. Are they good All Ages writers? Do they even know how to write for them?
    What about the art? Is it easy to follow?

    Writing all ages books isn’t about taking out the bad language and making it “kiddie”. There’s so much more to it.

    Anyways. I’d love to discuss this at a convention panel or something. WHere everyone can get a turn. I’m sure it’d be good talk and highly informative.
    :)

    Thanks
    Scott

  38. say what? says:

    “The librarian needs to be a little more on the ball here. Every time we give comics to the library, we have to be very specific in what place they will get shelved.

    I don’t care about the boobies–sheesh, we’ve got an original page from From Hell with nekkid hookers hanging outside my daughter’s bedroom–but it’s not appropriate material for a 6-year-old.”

    I’m very sorry to hear that your child is incapable of looking upward.

    Also… does this Nebraskan lady know what the damn letters “PG” stand for? PARENTAL GUIDANCE!!! It’s not up to the library to determine what is okay for a child to read; it’s the parent’s job. A lady in a bikini and the existence of homosexuality aren’t things I would want to keep from my kid. There’s harmful to your child and then there’s stuff you just don’t like. Only one of these justifies media attention, and the harmless Spider-Man book isn’t in that category.

  39. Marvel Adventures titles are overall quite good. The Spider-Man titles I’ve read have been very well done; Hulk and Iron Man less so, but Jeff Parker’s Fantastic Four and Avengers are some of the best super-hero comics out there, whether for all ages or otherwise.

    The Franklin Richards books are good too.

  40. man. i just cannot believe a six year old was looking at that book and cared about boobs. at all. i’m pretty sure he’s more in love with spiderman and whomever spiderman is fighting than spiderman’s cootie-filled, fun-crushing, annoyance. i’m also certain that the most coherent thought he had going through his head as he read it is “SPIDERMAN!!!! AWESOME!!!”.

    if the kid’s got a sister or a mom, i’m sure he’s seen more boobs than his adult comic nerd counterparts on a daily basis. at 6, boobs are still “that thing your mom has that gave you food”. “oh look. spiderman’s girlfriend also has snack-machines…”

  41. also, when i read the title of this, i was hopeful that it was peter who was being sexy…

  42. “Whoa… actual jouranlism pointing out the angry mom did NOT pay attention to the rating?

    “Well done.”

    Good point. Does the school have kids browse its school library with their parents right there to check the ratings, or lets them in without parental supervision?

    “Okay… as a former resident of Omaha, Nebraska, (of which Millard is a part, having been annexed in the 1970s), some information… Norris Elementary has classes from pre-kindergarten to grade six. The age rating on this book would suggest a middle-school audience, and some of that is served by this school. It is possible, given the popularity of the character and the possible professional reviews, the librarians of the Millard School District felt this was an acceptable title.”

    Aha.

    “It seems that this kid checked out the book from his school library, not a public library. Few parents have the opportunity to accompany their children on visits to school libraries, and most parents would only learn what their kids checked out from the school library after the kids home from school. So asserting that a parent should (or even could) read what a kid picks up from a school library before check out isn’t necessarily a realistic suggestion.”

    That makes sense too.

    “A lot of this is Marvel’s fault for wanting to have it both ways. They market Spidey as an icon for very small children but then put out ‘mature’ comics for the fanboys. It would be like having a line of Goodfellas Bubble Bath.”

    Or like having Hercule Poirot be the star of Blue’s Clues. Yeah, why do they have to use the same characters over and over and over and over?

    “Jack Daniels doesn’t sponsor Saturday morning cartoons and Dora the Explorer doesn’t feature rape as a plot element- for good reasons which most companies seem to understand. It can cause real trouble when stories like this come out- it reminds the adult audience that most people see Spidey as kid stuff and says to parents to not buy Spidey comics for their kids.”

    THIS.

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  1. […] That isn’t really a knock against Daniel’s writing abilities, I just think that someone of a higher caliber should have been tapped to churn out such a pivotal moment in the life of Gotham City’s caped protectors.  Someone with more on their resume than a mediocre IMAGE book from the 90s was probably called for in this situation.  (Huh?  I guess that was a crack on Daniel’s writing abilities. Oops.)  I was pleasantly surprised that I actually enjoyed some of it. It read a little sophomoric in places and could have definitely used a more seasoned writer for the emotional punches, but the action scenes – a hallmark of any good Batman comic book – were pretty fun.  I think a stronger editorial presence could have helped this immensely, but looking for a strong editorial presence at DC right now is like looking for a non-biased story on FOX NEWS.  I’m looking forward to seeing the various Batman analogues that pop up – and I hope their true identities aren’t as totally predictable as I think they will be, but if the spoilers going around on the message boards are true…  OKAY.   BATTLE FOR THE COWL: AZREAL 1 (of 3) – I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.  I was always a sucker for Dennis O’Neil’s AZREAL (when he had his own book. As a part of Knightfall I wanted him dead!), because the way O’Neil wrote him was really a lesson in shaping a character on the printed page.  He started out with this guy that DC editorial had groomed the audience to hate from pretty much the get-go, and had the unenviable task of turning him into the hero of his own book.  The results are debatable, but it went on to run for 100 issues before the lead character died.  Without going into the convoluted details of his origin, which are touched on in this book, it shouldn’t go without saying that this is a new character inside the suit. The thing that appealed to me so much was that the lead is essentially as low as he can go. He has no family, friends or purpose – and when presented with a purpose and goals he really steps up.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of this guy.  GOOD STUFF.   BATTLE FOR THE COWL: GOTHAM GAZETTE 1 (of 1 ) – Not really much more than an anthology sampler of Gotham in her darkest hours.  And as a sampler it really doesn’t give you much to chew on. There were two or three stories in this one-shot, which served to kick off the BftC event, and they were all so forgettable and non-consequential that….I can’t really remember much about them, which is very telling in the impact they have on the events.  EH.    BATTLE FOR THE COWL: COMMISSIONER GORDON 1 (of 1) – This one shot attempts to turn Jim Gordon, Gotham’s greatest cop, into John Maclaine from DIE HARD.  Gordon has to fight Mr. Freeze all by his lonesome and (predictably) does just fine. If you like the Bat-Family as much as me you’ll enjoy it.  If you’re just here for the BftC event – this one isn’t really necessary.  EH.   BATTLE FOR THE COWL: ORACLE 1 (of 3) – I found it terribly ironic that I read this on the day that the story broke about a mother in Nebraska who complained about sexuality in a Spider-Man comic (http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2009/03/30/sexy-spidey-outrages-mom/).  Within the first few pages we get to see the most artistically tastefully done shot of a naked Barbara Gordon slipping out of her panties, and her wheelchair, and crawling into her shower.  That was sarcasm, for those of you who are sarcasm impaired.  Did we really (REALLY?!!?!!) need to see her panties sliding over her knees or the strategically placed wheel of her chair covering her unmentionables as she showers?  GAH!!!  This is why they hate us!  But anyway…this was actually a pretty decent Oracle story, setting up her new status quo as she moves back to Gotham City just in time for Batman to die and send the underworld spiraling into a fiery chaos. Good timing, Babs!  The thrust of the story is that Babs has been trying to locate the Anti-Life equation (on the Internet) and the villainous Calculator is also looking for it.  Oh.  And some chick’s head explodes.  GOOD STUFF. […]

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