Dragons and Vampires and Dragons, Oh My!

Today, Bethesda released the trailer for Skyrim’s downloadable content, called Dawnguard. Seems like it’ll be a vampires vs. crossbow-wielding townsfolk storyline, with shadow-flame horses you can ride and dragons swan-diving into frozen lakes. Makes sense, right?

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the DLC release, so when I first heard that it was about vampires, I was a little disappointed. The vampire part of Skyrim was one I paid little attention to, because I was too busy slaying Alduin, World-Eater to care. That and I didn’t accidentally catch vampirism, being a Redguard and having already been accidentally turned into a werewolf. (“Hey, guys! I definitely want to be a Companion. You guys are so cool! Meet you in a secret place at night? Sure! … Uh… you mean I have to become a werewolf now?”)

That being said, at least the vampires turn into gargoyle-looking bat creatures. And mounted combat? Hell yeah! It was always a bit of a buzzkill to have to dismount before fighting anything. (“I’m gonna get you, troll! … In a second!”) I’m also excited to see that demon horse? and some Dovah (or one, anyway). One of the most disappointing things about finishing the main storyline was not having any more dragon-related things to do. Despite the vampires, I look forward to playing Dawnguard, after I wait first for the release and then for the end of the cruel 30-day period in which Xbox has a monopoly over it.

In other video game news:

As I’ve said before, I fucking love dragons. And any game where dragons exist, I will want to play. So when I saw the trailer for Dragon’s Dogma, I thought to myself: omgomgomgdragonsdragons. I found out that it’s basically the Capcom answer to Skyrim, with you playing as the Arisen (code for Dragonborn), but this time with chimeras and griffins thrown in the mix too.

When I played the demo, the first thing that I did was go to the character creator. I expected a fairly limited level of modifications, thinking my character would have the obligatory double -D’s and weird hour-glass armor. (Seriously, even if a woman had a perfect hour-glass figure, her armor wouldn’t be form-fitted to her body like a too-small tank top. Anyway.)

I was enthusiastically wrong. Not only is there an enormous number of details you can change, the presets and how you can modify their bodies actually reflects a wide range of body diversity. You can make an actual fat woman, put actual wrinkles on her face, or make a muscular woman with 34Bs. I’m in character creator heaven. This link leads to the best video I could find that walks through the whole creation process:

Dragon’s Dogma Character Creator

As you can see, there are only a couple dark-skinned presets, which is a little disappointing. But given how amazing the rest of the creator is (and that you do get a variety of skin tones once you’re doing further edits), it’s a small blemish.

One thing I’m not thrilled about is the fact that, in the game, you have three companions who are called “pawns.” This makes me feel super awkward and classist. To make matters worse, I’ve been told that pawns are basically a race of people in another plane of existence who are incapable of making their own decisions, until I guess I summon them and tell them they’re going to fight with me now. After that big decision is made for them, they are loyal to their “master” and are willing to help you out/serve you. Pawns definitely sound like human pets. If I think of them as human-shaped spirits this might creep me out less.

Weird classism aside, the rest of the demo was fun, and I look forward to playing the real game soon. And before I play, I will make a 6-foot tall, 250-pound, 65-year-old woman warrior, and I will rejoice.

-Joanna

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Shameless Self-Promotion

Remember when I said that if I were Marvel, I’d market the crap out of Storm? Well, consider this my attempt to market the crap out of superheroines, like the capitalist filth I am!

I’ve opened up shop at Etsy, where I’m selling glass pendants made from comic books like this:

At the moment I’m only doing superheroines (and it’s pretty X-Men-dominant), but I might branch out and do lesser known male superheroes. (So, sorry, but probably no Wolverine or Iron Man, unless you ask nicely.) I’m also planning on making other kinds of jewelry, like earrings of super-pairs (ex. Gambit and Rogue) or a charm bracelet made up of X-Men, Avengers, or any combination of your favorite superheroes. (I’m always up for discussing custom orders!) I’m also planning to showcase some DC heroines.

If you want to proudly let the world know you’re a nerd who loves superheroines, take a look at the shop!

(End of shameless self-promotion.)

-Joanna

Samuel R. Delany and Literate Fantasy

For some reason, unlike science fiction, fantasy (especially high fantasy) is treated like it’s always escapist nonsense without any possibility of having substance. To most people, sword-and-sorcery fantasy will never have depth, and it most certainly will never be literary. Even when fantasy sweeps the nation (see: Game of Thrones fever), it’s because the books are enjoyable, not because they say very much about anything.

Being someone who loves sword-and-sorcery fantasy, “serious” literature, and social justice, the role of high fantasy in literature and in life is sometimes a sticky one. Yes, the majority of fantasy is escapist nonsense that, if it says anything, uses its voice to reinforce the sexist and racist norms of our society. However, that isn’t something inherent in the fantasy genre or in genre writing. You’d certainly have a case for arguing that much of literature, regardless of genre, reinforces all the bad things in inequitable societies like ours.

But for whatever reason, fantasy gets to bear the brunt of this injustice. Perhaps it’s because the covers of books, even ones with interesting things to say, ones you might even be tempted to call literary, often look like this:

I personally find nothing wrong with this cover, but I can understand why an ordinary person might pick this book up and think they know what they’ll find inside. Actually, they have no idea.

The plot synopsis probably doesn’t help: “For Pryn, a young girl fleeing her village on the back of a dragon, Neveryona becomes a shining symbol just out of reach. It leads her to the exotic port city of Kolhari, where she talks with the wealthy merchant Madame Keyne, walks with Gorgik the Liberator as he schemes against the Court of Eagles, and crosses the Bridge of Lost Desire in search of her destiny.” As interesting as I find it, others might read it and just think, oh just another book about dragons and destinies.

Of course, I didn’t choose this book randomly. Samuel R. Delany has a reputation for being one of the more literary-minded fantasy (and science fiction) writers, and for good reason.

Neveryona‘s chapters begin with excerpts from the likes of Susan Sontag, Julia Kristeva, Hannah Arendt, and Barbara Johnson (all women, as well as dense thinkers, which I think is important to note). If so inclined, you could very easily write a postcolonial analysis of the novel, particularly since the novel spends a lot of time deconstructing the real meanings of civilization and barbarism.

For example, Delany presents the now fairly well known idea that nature is an idea constructed by civilization. At one point, a character (Gorgik the Liberator) notes, “except some of the more primitive shore tribes along those bournes where civilization has not yet inserted its illusory separation of humans from the world which holds them.” This statement is a postcolonial goldmine. Not only does it include the civilized/barbarous dichotomy, but it clearly is nudging at the certainties civilization has invented and imposed on the world. This apparent knowledge is described as “illusory,” or deceptive. Civilization does not know everything it thinks it knows.

Pryn, the main character, is often confused about where the divisions between country, suburb, and city lie. This, for the sake of the story, is because she is new to the area. However, the subtext deals with not only the physical boundaries between the civilized and the barbarous, but also the ways in which it is difficult to tell which is which, without civilization there to explain it to you.

The novel begins with an interesting incident regarding language, one that I think is significant to consider in the context of the definition of civilization. Pryn writes her name in the dirt, but writes it “pryn,” “because she knew something of writing but not of capital letters.” It is important to note that she is a girl of the rural mountains, not of the city. It takes a woman who has traveled to “civilization” to teach her about capitalizing the first letters of names. Civilization bestows this knowledge onto barbarians, who are expected to learn civilization’s ways.

Although she is not from the city, Pryn is also not a “barbarian” as such. There are specific people who are known to be barbarians, namely the tribes to the south. Thankfully, these tribes seem to be white. (I say thankfully, because I’m tired of desert “barbarians” being represented by brown people. Of course, Delany being black himself, it would be strange for such an otherwise self-aware writer to lapse into racism.) These tribes are apparently nomadic, do “barbaric” things like weave copper wire into their ears, and talk with funny accents. I’m interested in whether or not the geographic position of the barbarians was intended to signal back to modern-day America. After all, the Northeast defines its own civility by the perceived barbarity of the Southeast. In both cases, the South is the Other by which civilization defines itself.

I’m also interested in what role sexuality plays in the novel. (Full disclosure: I haven’t actually finished the novel yet.) From what I’ve read about Delany, he has been known to write frankly about sexuality, calling some of his work or parts of his work pornography. Because it’s very clear Delany is a thoughtful writer, I would like to compare this work with the sorts of misogynistic sex scenes of other writers, and figure out what (if anything) makes Delany’s empowering or equitable. I’m also interested in looking at how Delany’s own sexuality (he’s gay) may or may not have influenced his writing of sexuality. I’m hoping that Neveryona delivers in that respect, because otherwise the Bridge of Lost Desire is a bit of a tease.

I also hope to see whether or not race plays a larger role in the deconstructing of civilization and barbarism. So far, Delany seems to be unpacking a general definition of the two loaded terms, but not approaching the racial definitions. There are plenty of people in Kolhari with undisclosed ethnicities, as well as people described as pale or darker, so it’s hard for me to tell right now if he will approach race directly or not.

I can’t imagine that the rest of the novel will disappoint me, however, because not only is the worldbuilding wonderful, but the novel features a well-drawn, dragon-riding, 15-year-old girl protagonist, and I have no gender-related complaints about the characters. Don’t be too surprised if I follow up this post with a more in-depth analysis of the novel.

For now, though, I am confident enough to say that, while Neveryona would probably be enjoyable for your average fantasy reader, it is also a rewarding experience for more academic or literary-minded people. The subtext is rich and thought-provoking, and it lends itself to various kinds of analysis, not just postcolonial. While many people may still deride swords-and-sorcery fantasy for being fluff, Delany’s work makes it clear that fantasy can be so much more than people think.

-Joanna

One Woman’s Journey from Comic-Fan to Comic-Professional

Reposted from ComicMix.com

Emily S. Whitten: Getting Started in the Comics Industry

by Emily S. Whitten on May 22nd, 2012 at 8:00 am

I love comics. I love reading them, thinking about them, discussing them, and even critiquing them. I also love writing them, something I’ve discovered in the last couple of years as I started writing a series of webcomics about characters in upcoming comic book-related movies, which were then published on movie news websites like MTV Splash Page and ReelzChannel. Since that time, I’ve realized that I’d really like to keep writing comics, including, hopefully someday soon, full issues for a major company, to be seen by all the worrrrrrld [insert maniacal laugh here].

That may seem like a big leap, but it could happen. After all, most of the people who are or have been involved in professional comics started out just as I did: as ridiculously huge fans of the medium and the characters and stories. I mean, sure, maybe a few here or there got pulled into a job and then discovered they liked it, but for the most part, the people making comics do it because they were fans who, basically, landed their dream jobs through expressing their love of or thoughts on comics.

There are some great public examples of this amongst the current Big Names in comics. They include Geoff Johns, who wrote in to DC Comics as a kid with suggestions for the Superboy storyline. There’s also Kevin Smith, whose lifelong comics fandom landed him a number of roles in comics-writing after he’d already made a name for himself with movies (and he also owns Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, the first comic book store I ever went to, being a Jersey gal). There’s also Gail Simone, who came to the attention of comics publishers through her website Women in Refrigerators, which critiqued the treatment of female characters in comics, and has since written a weekly column on Comic Book Resources and a lot of great comics about both male and female characters, including well-received stints on the all-female group comic Birds of Prey. (I mention this comic in particular because I think it’s great that after Simone expressed her opinion on a certain issue in comics, she had the opportunity to address that issue by writing a number of female characters.) And let’s not forget Mark Waid, whose studio tour on Comic Book Resources reveals just how much of a fan collector he is, as well as giving us this quote about a three-page sequence from Flash #0 that hangs on his wall: “[it’s] the scene where the adult Wally West meets his ten-year-old self and tells the boy that no matter how rotten his young life seems or how hard the days are to get through, when he grows up, every wish he’s ever wished for will come true. It’s hands-down my favorite sequence I have ever written because – and I say this in all sincerity – I often dream about being able to travel back in time and tell young Mark Waid that same thing.”

Aw.

Of course, compared to these greats and all of their former-fan-now-professional companions, including my esteemed fellow columnists at ComicMix, I wouldn’t say I’ve had too much of a “career in comics” to date. But like, I suspect, at least a few big names today, I have gone from being “just a fan” to being much closer to where I’d like to be in the industry, and have high hopes of continuing along that trajectory in the future. I know that a lot of other fans have similar hopes. So I thought I’d take a couple of minutes to look back at my own experience with comics so far and see how it’s progressed.

As a kid I hadn’t read many comics, and didn’t even know there were such things as “comic book stores” devoted to (gasp) just that medium. There were a few comics in the house that belonged to my oldest sister – the ones I remember being some old collections of Archie and some individual issues of Richie Rich – and I did read those few books countless times, and remember being enamored of both the funny and entertaining stories and the way the illustrations complimented and enhanced them. But I didn’t lack for reading materials, with an English teacher for a mom and two older sisters who loved books, so I never went looking for more comics.

Television, however, was a different matter. You didn’t have to go out and find television shows – they came to you! So I grew up on a healthy mix of cartoons like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, ThunderCats, X-Men: The Animated Series (I still love the theme song!), DuckTales and Darkwing Duck, Batman: The Animated Series, and countless others, most of which either started as or ran concurrently with comic books (although I didn’t know it at the time). I also, thanks to my dad, got a healthy dose from an early age of adventure and comics-related shows and movies he loved, including Sky King, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, and the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Fast forward a few years, and I was addicted to Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (and even later, I got hooked on Smallville. Apparently I can’t resist on-screen Clark Kent). So comics have always been a part of my life, and I’ve always been a fan, but I didn’t realize it.

In 2008, that all changed. Thanks to an ex who suggested we go to the local comic book store for Free Comic Book Day, I started getting interested in collecting paper comics. On that fateful day he recommended a character that “I think you’ll like,” i.e. Deadpool; and after flipping through a couple of issues, I was completely hooked. In the following month I acquired and read all the Deadpool books I could find (as well as a slew of other comics, both new and old), and, in a joking conversation with the ex in which I was pretending to answer questions as Deadpool, I think I said something like, “wouldn’t it be funny if Deadpool was online answering questions?” and he said, “You should totally do that,” and thus, the first entry of Ask Deadpool was born. I made up the first few questions myself; and by the next day, people were writing in. I’ve now been regularly answering questions online as Deadpool for four years.

I’ve never had much of an interest in writing fanfiction generally, but with comics, it feels a little different. In a strange way, the comics industry could be looked at as the ultimate repository for quality fanfic (except that as it’s published, it becomes canon). There are so many professionals that got their start playing in sandboxes that were built by previous professionals that writing a comic book character non-professionally feels less like fanfic and more like practicing to join the fun. Sure, my Ask Deadpool writing is still fanfic (until I take over Deadpool at Marvel and write it for the next 20 years, mwahahaaaaa), but it’s different than someone writing about a closed universe such as, say, the Harry Potter series. Not only is writing comics fanfic a great way to practice writing previously published characters’ voices, but there’s actually the chance that all that practice might someday be put to use, professionally.

And there’s also the chance that in writing about something you love, you will accidentally become known as a gigantic Deadpool fan to everyone you know and many people you don’t, which will result in a friend getting a cool Deadpool print signed to you by one of the best inkers in the business (hey-oh, Nathan Massengill!), and you will be so excited about it that you will get it framed, and send a thank you email and photo of the framed print to the inker, and subsequently become friends with the inker, who incidentally convinces you to go to a comic con and introduces you to a bunch of other cool people in comics, and soon other fans and all these people who actually work in comics will know you as the biggest Deadpool fan ever, and this turns out to be a pretty good thing.

Because then you will turn out to be “the most passionate Deadpool fan” that a movie news site has encountered, and will be asked to write a fan article about Deadpool for them, at the same time that you just so happened to have started writing comic strip scripts using Deadpool and other characters to commentate on current pop-culture news, and have found another fan who’s a great artist and has agreed to draw the comics, and it turns out that you’ve already written a script that exactly fits the topic of the article. And the news site likes it, and want to see more.

That’s how I ended up having webcomics published on popular movie news websites. (Although it’s also important to know your own value and not be afraid to pitch something. My Avengers three-part series ran on MTV Splash Page because I actually pitched it to the editor, rather than him finding me.) The same passion for comics and network of people and happenstances has also led to me meeting the folks here at ComicMix and being invited to write a weekly column; and to me meeting another writer who has already had several comic scripts published professionally, and with whom I am now plotting out the greatest comic series ever created (well we think so, anyway). And although I can’t predict the future, I have high hopes that for me, it will hold an abundance of work in comics.

The interesting thing here is, until recently I didn’t really sit down and think to myself, “hey, maybe I could actually write comics. Like, professionally.” Instead, I was just having fun with something I enjoy, and expressing a passion for characters and a medium I’ve come to love. As it turns out (I think, and evidence suggests), this is a pretty good way to get started in comics, and the more I think about what I’d like to write in comics, the more ideas I have. Along with the greatest comic series ever created, I’d love to write Deadpool for Marvel someday (after much more practice, perhaps!) and I’ve got a Superman story in my head that I think would knock people’s socks off. And that’s just what’s percolating in my brain right now. But really, whatever happens in my future, I’m overjoyed that I am where I am today, writing about a medium I love and interacting with people who keep me inspired, and plan to continue to write columns, and webcomics, and anything else people will let me write professionally, for as long as I can. And maybe, if you’re a passionate fan like me, you can do that too! Servo Lectio!

(Re)Discovering Empathy With Torchwood

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been re-watching Torchwood. (By “re-watching” I mean going on hours-long Torchwood binges.) Because of my bitterness about the death of practically everyone (Ianto in particular, first time around) and how the end of Children of Earth made me dislike Jack, I vowed to kick the Torchwood habit forever. Miracle Day and its whole being-on-Starz-and-set-in-America thing made me even less interested. (Call me old fashioned, but it’s just not Torchwood to me if I can’t hear those Welsh vowels from someone other than Gwen and Rhys.) I was so upset and disinterested in the show that I didn’t even want to watch the old episodes.

That changed after I watched an episode of Doctor Who with Captain Jack in it. Suddenly I was overcome with nostalgia for Handsome Jack and his crew. So, I decided to shelve my years-old grief and enjoy the show like I did before, knowing all the while what heartbreak lurked in the future.

One thing I noticed this time around is how brilliantly most of the characters are drawn. Torchwood is a haven for blurry morals (my kinda place), with Captain Jack serving as the ultimate anti-hero. Jack does what he needs to do; he’s chaotic good incarnate. (Say what you’d like about Jack, but he’s always looking out for somebody.) He’s mean and kind and brutal and thoughtful all at once. (You know, like a real person.) He also seems to know exactly what he’s doing all the time, but as the show progresses, we see Jack as helpless and clueless as everyone else more and more often.

Gwen is also one of the most successful characters. There are times I want to punch Gwen in the face, but there are other times when I find her sympathetic. Again, sort of like a real person. When she confesses to Rhys about sleeping with Owen, but then drugs him so he’ll forget, I want to shake her, but I understand that sort of impulse, even though I’ve never cheated on my boyfriend with a co-worker and then given him an amnesia pill. The only time I couldn’t fathom her actions was during “Adrift,” where she lies to and manipulates Andy for reasons I just don’t get.  But, you don’t always have to like a character for her to be well-drawn.

Even Tosh and Owen, who each seem a little like a stock character, have their characters fleshed out. Owen, like Gwen, I want alternately to punch in the face and to hug. This time around, Tosh was my favorite character, which probably has something to do with the fact that I never wanted to punch her in the face. She and Owen are so wonderfully human, which makes their deaths that much more heartbreaking.

And then there’s Ianto.

The first time I watched Torchwood, Ianto was my favorite, because he was adorable, efficient, angst-ridden, and secretly hilarious, and because I was in high school. As much as I love Ianto still, I think what prevented him from being my favorite character this time around is that they did very little to humanize him (cyberwoman girlfriend incident aside). Jack was practically always associated or a motivation. I was disappointed that in the episode where we learn of how everyone got recruited by Torchwood, Ianto’s story was how he stalked/obsessed over Jack until he got to prove himself in the warehouse with the pterodactyl. I wanted a glimpse into Ianto’s soul, and all I got was more Ianto x Jack fodder. (There’s nothing wrong with Ianto x Jack, but Tosh and Owen’s stories were really devastating and interesting, but Ianto’s was sort of pathetic and silly.)

Overall, though, the characterization is excellent, which is why I wish Russell T. could run all shows. All the characters were human, even the women. Russell T. and Joss Whedon are probably my dream team of TV/movie writers, because they understand both how to make characters human and that woman are people. (However, if they did work on a show together, someone would have to stop them from slaughtering all beloved characters.)

Another major component of why Torchwood is great is its sexuality. Ianto himself is bisexual, Jack is bi/pan/omnisexual, and Tosh is seduced by a woman without it being performative. All of these sexualities (including heterosexuality) are shown as normal and nothing shameful, which is really refreshing. For some, Torchwood may be overly frank in its relationship to sex, but at least people of non-hetero inclinations can see people like themselves on TV and like them. On TV, if not in real life, they can see total acceptance of their sexuality. And even though I just labeled a few of the characters, from what I remember, there is very little talk in the show about who has what sexual preference. No one agonizes over what preference Ianto is, if he had a girlfriend but also shags Jack, or if Tosh, having been seduced by a woman, is now less heterosexual. It doesn’t matter in Torchwood. All that matters is that you’re having sex with someone you enjoy being with.

Part of me wants to try the Starz season, but part of me is scared that the parts of Torchwood I love will be done all wrong, thanks to this puritanical country. (That, and I really do mean what I say about those Welsh vowels.) Even on a channel like Starz, I fear that the nonchalant acceptance of all sexualities will disappear. I’m scared that someone in the Starz world will force Russell T. to create less human characters, especially less human women characters. But I think I will try it, because if it is awful, I can just pretend it’s a different show called Torchwood, unaffiliated with the one I love. (I did this when watching the recent-ish movie version of Brideshead Revisited, and it worked.)

Regardless of whether I try the newest season or not, I will always have the original two seasons that, despite all the grief they caused me, also gave me reasons to celebrate and find it possible to empathize with people in situations I never thought I would. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

-Joanna

Also, this is the cutest darn Captain Jack I’ve ever seen:

http://niccals.deviantart.com/art/Captain-Jack-Harkness-Plushie-170851245

Dare to Play: Nancy Drew for a New Generation

Nancy Drew is one of the most celebrated and recognizable characters of all time. Created by Edward Stratemeyer ( also creator of the Hardy Boys) in 1930, the character of Nancy Drew became the super-chic and intelligent heroine of her own series of mystery novels.

Nancy Drew is a fictional 18-year-old amateur sleuth (16 in earlier versions). She lives in the fictional town of River Heights[14] with her father, attorney Carson Drew, and their housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. Nancy’s mother died when she was three (10 in earlier versions). Nancy is often assisted in solving mysteries by her two closest friends, Bess Marvin and George Fayne, and also occasionally by her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson.

Nancy has often been described as a super girl: in the words of Bobbie Ann Mason, she is “as immaculate and self-possessed as a Miss America on tour. She is as cool as a Mata Hari and as sweet as Betty Crocker.” Nancy is wealthy, attractive, and amazingly talented.

“At sixteen she ‘had studied psychology in school and was familiar with the power of suggestion and association.’ Nancy was a fine painter, spoke French, and had frequently run motor boats. She was a skilled driver who at sixteen ‘flashed into the garage with a skill born of long practice.’ The prodigy was a sure shot, an excellent swimmer, skillful oarsman, expert seamstress, gourmet cook, and a fine bridge player. Nancy brilliantly played tennis and golf, and rode like a cowboy. Nancy danced like Ginger Rogers and could administer first aid like the Mayo brothers” (Wikipedia)
Nancy Drew has undergone numerous transformations over the years to keep her relevant to the generation. In 1998, Her Interactive began a series of Nancy Drew computer games and became my personal heroes. With their 27th game in the series released last week, the franchise is still going strong. Nancy is still the attractive and talented sleuth who is capable of thinking her way out of any situation (but who has also been known to karate-chop and threaten baddies with a gun).
Part of Her Interactive’s mission involves one simple fact: Girls play video games too- just like the executives that spearheaded the creation of the original novels realized that girls also read mystery novels. I’ve been playing Nancy Drew games since I was in the 4th grade. Before that, I really didn’t have any insight into the world of video games or computers. This is what sparked my interest and made me want to learn more. Not just about gaming, but each Nancy Drew games focus on some sort of niche or knowledge-base that the gamer has to call upon (this is usually in the form of a puzzle or a conveniently placed book) and in the process sneakily learn about things they may never have had exposure to. For example: Secret of the Scarlet Hand- you are a junior curator at a museum in Washington, D.C. and explore temple replicas, play traditional games, and explore a virtual exhibit while also learning what its like to work in a museum; Danger By Design, Phantom of Venice, Shadow at Water’s Edge and the Captive Curse all have puzzles involving other languages. I could go on and list examples for all 27 games- but I think I’ve made my point.
However, if you are still not sold that as an adult Nancy Drew is a role model, a friend of mine recently lent me ‘Confessions of a Teen Sleuth‘ by Chelsea Cain in which me learn that everything we thought we knew about Nancy Drew was a lie- invented by her unattractive, jealous college roommate, Carolyn Keene. The novel is Nancy’s true confessions about her life, from her time as the cool, trendy teenage to her elder years. Although it is a parody, Nancy experiences a lot of the same troubles women faced then and face now. Since I apparently all about books that relate to life to help you through issues, pick this book up.
Now I am about to play the crap out of the newest Nancy Drew game with my little bro. Yeah, that’s right. Boys can like Nancy Drew too. Here, enjoy these videos about female and homosexual video game characters:
\
-BatCat
PS: Oh and did I  mention the Nancy Drew manga?

The Avengers: Final Words

Since Tuesday night, I thought this week’s post would be about my disappointment in my home state for passing Amendment One, and all of the reasons why, despite my heartbreak, it’s still unfair to blame/shame rural areas (i.e. usually the poorest and least educated) for being less progressive than metropolitan areas. However, though I’ve cleared up my mind enough to write that post, it would probably turn into that book on the South I’m going to write one day. So instead, I’m going to share my almost-week-old thoughts on The Avengers, like everyone else on the internet.

Now that I’ve gotten that explanation out of the way, bring on the exclamation marks! I fucking loved this movie! I already want to watch it again. The day after I saw it I wanted to watch it again. Everything was so amazing! I walked out of the theater and texted Bat Cat: THE AVENGERS WAS AWESOME. I WOULD CHANGE LITERALLY NOTHING. That’s how excited I was. It currently has an 8.8 rating on IMDB, which is pretty ridiculous, but is it really that ridiculous? Probably. But it was so awesome! Before this post gets too stupid, here’s some specific thoughts:

1. Joss Whedon should write and direct all Hollywood movies. Hollywood would be so much fun. (And if Joss Whedon wasn’t confined by the storylines of others, he’d put in more than 1 1/2 female characters.) I had my concerns that, since Joss Whedon hasn’t had this kind of budget before, he might screw it up. But I think the balance of action, banter, and character development was perfect. It was the right kind of funny, with the right kind of action, with the right kind of emphasis on character’s motivations and personalities.

2. I’m in love with this portrayal of the Black Widow. I want to redo every superheroine movie (all three of them) and have Joss Whedon write and direct them, and then erase the old versions from history, and then make a movie about every superheroine who should have a movie but doesn’t (like STORM!). Seriously. Not only was Black Widow an actual character with non-gendered spy/assassin motivations, but they did an awesome job choreographing and filming her action sequences. The only ass we saw every five seconds was her badass! Whedon also did a great job emphasizing her excellent interrogation skills, and didn’t only allow her to do one or two badass things in the movie. She consistently kicked ass and was more important to the movie that the poster (or any advertising) might lead you to believe. (This is yet another reason why Joss Whedon should be given the title of Writer/Director for All Movies Ever, Especially Superhero Ones.) This picture only shows about 1% of her total awesome:

3. It didn’t even feel like 2 1/2 hours. After the first 20 minutes or so, the movie flew by, unlike some movies of similar length (see: Christopher Nolan’s entire catalogue).

4. My fears about Mark Ruffalo playing the Hulk were unfounded. I actually really liked him as Dr. Banner, but possibly because of how peripheral his character was. I’m still unconvinced he could star in a movie, especially as the Hulk. (When I think about Mark Ruffalo being the protagonist of a movie, my mind starts to melt.)

5. The Captain-America-doesn’t-know-anything-about-the-21st-century humor didn’t go overboard. I thought it was just perfect the way it was. (I’m also glad Joss Whedon took out the other scenes that focused on Cap. I just can’t stand people who are lawful good but aren’t Aragorn.)

6. Like I mentioned above, the way the characters interacted was perfect. Take this moment:

Some people said that they thought the humor was too obvious, but I disagree. Put these people in a room together, and that’s exactly what would happen. Captain America and Iron Man wouldn’t get along. The Cap would say something like that, and that’s what Iron Man would say in response. In addition to being funny, it’s good characterization.

Those are my main reasons why The Avengers definitely lives up to the hype! I haven’t been this excited about a movie I’ve seen in a while. It makes me wish it didn’t cost a zillion dollars to go to the movies, because this blog could benefit from some consistent movie reviewing. (Although, come June, expect a post about Prometheus and Michael Fassbender’s beautiful robot self.) Thus concludes my final post (probably) about The Avengers!

-Joanna