Some light Batman

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol 2: The Starfire by Scott Lobdell, Kenneth Rocafort and Timothy Green

I’m not going to chat about this book in the context of the wider New 52 stuff because I’m not up do date on most of it any more. I will add also that I don’t have a lot of the context of the New 52 on Starfire or Arsenal.

I do want to say one thing about each of them each though. Arsenal is well written and I really liked him. Starfire is drawn ridiculously sexually. Ridiculously. I know this is drawn for an audience that probably doesn’t think about this too much, and I know that Starfire is supposed to to be sexually liberated but she basically wears no clothes and is in a sexy pose whatever she’s doing. I don’t understand why sexually liberated means not wearing clothes so standing with her boobs popped out.

Because I love the Batfamily most, I will just mention a few things about the story from that point of view. I loved Jason’s portrayal in this. Not only is he well written and funny to read but he’s a complex and challenging and genuine. Having him care about Tim Drake and their brief conversation really completed  him in a precise way. The dynamic between Arsenal, Red Hood and Starfire was great! They were fun and fast paced and great to read.

I don’t have a lot of smart thoughts to say about this book, as it turns out. It was a good read, I’m glad I took a break from my serious reading list for a quick, fun read.

Last movie I watched:

I think Moana still. So cute

Last TV show I watched:

Last episode of The Dragon Prince and I really liked it! I’m looking forward to some more and would also like a baby dragon.

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The anti-Potter

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Just straight up, this book was really fun. I enjoyed it immensely but when I think about it really critically I have a more complicated reaction to it. On the one hand, it made my feminism feel a little prickled but on the other hand, it was really cool in its pretty direct opposition of the genre that Harry Potter spawned. Like, I could have a T-chart about it. Actually, I will probably do that. On the other side of the description obviously.

Sophie Mercer is a witch, she’s known that since she was twelve years old and her powers manifested. What she didn’t realize was that if she used them in front of mortals and therefore threatened the safety of all Prodigium, that is shifters, witches or fairies, she would get sent to Hex Hall. A school for kids like her.

So there are lots of obvious similarities with Harry Potter. Two kids who aren’t in touch with their magical parents, raised unaware of their own standing in the magical community and sent to a school where they would learn how to control their powers.

But what I thought was neat was the complete oppositeness about it. There isn’t a  Dumbledore character in this – the Head Mistress is a kindly, but aloof woman who seems found enough of the main character, but doesn’t have a particularly close relationship with any of the kids. Instead of have the grumpy Snape teacher you have an aggressive woman who teaches self defense. Instead of Sophie being the ultimate force of good she might well be the ultimate force of evil. Her parents aren’t dead. Hogwarts is beautiful, Hex Hall is old and crumbling. Hagrid is a half giant, Cal is a sexy lumberjack like gamekeeper who is also a super human healer. Sophie doesn’t make a crew of friends but she does develop a core of mortal enemies. It’s immediately clear that romance and crushes are going to drive the story. The kids don’t fight each other over issues like prejudice or bullying so much as dresses and boys.

And that’s where my feminism gets rubbed the wrong way. On the one hand Sophie and her best friend Jenna (who is gay and it’s so beautifully handled I could cry) are both pretty kick ass ladies in their own way, powerful and feminine and motivated and driven. On the other hand, the apparent evil characters are three…. for lack of a better word, bitches. And they literally get into a near fatal battle over a dress. Which is just, I mean while I firmly support anyone who loves clothes, I’m partial to them myself, but honestly…. murder over an outfit? Is that really what we like our teen girls to read? That’s a thing?

But it was also a good story with delightful turns, great supporting casts, lovely descriptions of outfits and a powerful heroine who’s pretty easy to love.

Last movie I watched:

Ummmm probably still Fingersmith

Last TV episode I watched:

The same Charmed. Unless you count part of  a Daily Show. In which case that.

If this is what dance class is actually like, no wonder I dropped out

Dance Class: So You Think You Can Hip Hop? by Beka and Crisp

Well this book is pretty much everything I hate about girl books.Like pretty much everything. The cover of the book is enthusiastically pink and purple. The characters are the 1) pretty blonde girl 2) the black girl 3) the bitch and 4) the fat one. Seriously, this is a thing that actually happened. It’s brutal and chock full of all the anti-feminist drivel you can possibly handle. Including, but not limited too, a token minority who’s race has nothing to do with her identity (because your race isn’t in any way important to who you are or how you’re perceived at all), the “fat one” who isn’t actually fat in the pictures but we know is fat because the other characters talk about how she’s fat (please let’s talk about how this is the worst possible message we could give to girls), the bitchy character who is mean for no reason at all (because all girls are bitches to each other, it’s the only way to get what we want), and the blonde one who exemplifies everything we should all strive to be (because if we’re nice, work hard and are pretty enough, there’s nothing we can’t do).

Annoying crushes that aren’t based on anything remotely real, bitchy cat fights over lead rolls, jokes about outfits and dating, absolutely the kind of book my daughters won’t need to read.

I mean, if they want to, of course I’ll let them, but they aren’t gonna be laying around the house to be found, that’s all I’m saying.

Last movie I watched:

Oh probably either Dune or About Time. Both are fantastic.

Last episode I watched:

Charmed! Wesley’s date from Angel is an evil, snake wearing, cleavage bearing long dead witch

And that’s got to be the worst

Tinker Bell and the Wings of Rani by a boat ton of people but mostly Disney

1) That has further damaged my already limited faith in Disney.

2) If this is what girl graphic novels are like, no wonder no one reads them.

3) LAME

So I realized I hadn’t read any graphic novels targeted specifically at girls and I also like sparkly, colourful things like fairies. I grabbed Wings of Rani. Well it sucked. I mean like, really terrible. The pictures were pretty in an uber feminine way. I like fairies as much as the next estrogen dominated person but this is just unmanageable.

In the first story one of the fairies wants to win the painting contest so she and her best friend travel all around the island looking for something to paint after the sneering bitch fairy taunts them only to learn at the end that friendship is more important (and then paint a picture of friendship and win the prize). The second one is about how one fairy gives up on her dream of seeing a flower she’s been caring for open in order to find a lost fairy (surprise! She makes it back in time.) The next one involves a conflict between the boyish fairy and the bitch fairy who both want the same dress. The next one is the only one with any really story to it, involving Rani the only fairy who can swim because she has no wings saving a friend and telling the story of how she lost her wings (she cut them off so she could get a magical item for a quest and then traded them to a dragon) but the didactic-ness of it was overwhelming. Finally, in the last one the Queen can’t find her shoes so she goes out without any and starts a fashion trend of not wearing shoes.

That’s right, this book is about girls who paint, like flowers, dresses, are self sacrificing and like shoes. Can we pause to give my feminism a moment to recover?

So two things about this book made me angry. Thing one  – the terrible lessons it’s teaching girls, and yes they are actively teaching. After not wearing shoes for a while the girls all learn valuable lessons like “try to be positive in the face of a problem” but at the end of it all, the story is more about the footwear. Plus, girls could easily learn that lesson fixing cars or playing soccer or anything that doesn’t involve glamorous foot fashion. All the conflict, if there any comes, from the bitch fairy who’s random acts of selfishiness seem to be core to her personality leaving her with no redeeming qualities and essentially as a plot item (women as the plot item?! When does that happen?!). Each fairy has a talent too – TinkerBell is a tinkering fairy, there are speed fairies and garden fairies and water fairies and…. polishing fairies? That’s right. Some of these great fairy talents include the ability to make things sparkly again. Even the self sacrificing lessons come through too strong. Sure it’s important, but why is it so important for girls?

Thing two – the stories sucked. Straight up, they were boring . I don’t care about which dress they wear to the party. Just don’t. Lame.

So anyway, that’s that. Not so good.

Last movie I watched: Still Batman Beyond and the Return of the Joker. Still awesome. Batman’s relationship with his various sidekicks and replacements is so cool!

Last TV show I watched: Most of a Heartland show. Super nice. Pretty horses, pretty boys.