Comics Reviews (April 22nd, 2015)
Theodore Beale has responded to yesterday’s post. I’d link it and say not to read the comments, but honestly, why read the article. There’s some other highlights on my Tumblr. Which I bet, by linking here, I’m going to get some fantastic asks to ignore soon.
Comics, from worst to best of what I voluntarily paid for via what a commenter on Theodore Beale’s blog calls “e-begging on Patreon.” (Which is still $2 off from a review on “High Sparrow” come Sunday.)
The Black Vortex: Omega
Man, I love the word “Omega” instead of issue numbers. Kitty Pryde as literal Manic Dark Cosmic Power Dream Girl. This should never have been thirteen issues long. It was preposterously dumb. But its resolution is at least interesting in a general sense of being a thing that will probably be retconned by Secret Wars anyway.
A somewhat self-consciously clever interstitial issue to let Michael Lark catch up with the schedule. Fine, although I’m not sure it works satisfyingly after a self-consciously clever arc finale – Rucka’s pop virtues are not quite so virtuosic as this requires. He’s an album man, not a singles man. Nothing wrong with this issue, but not why this book is in my pulls either.
Guardians of the Galaxy #26
I see we’ve caught up with Secret Wars. Which is, once again, unsettling more than exciting – this issue sets up a lovely premise. Then it ends by going into a series that at best puts that premise on hold for several months. I mean, I’m not saying I think it’s going to suck, but I have to say, April is not doing wonders for my excitement on this series. In particular, I continue to think the pacing of Hickman’s Avengers issues was wonky – the fact that there’s no actual Secret Wars content coming out for the last few weeks is making the rest of Marvel feel disposable. There’s no swagger or confidence to this.
Chew continues its frustrating trend of being good enough, often enough that I don’t drop it.
All-New X-Men #40
This has generated some deserved controversy online over accusations of bisexual erasure. You can see, in the full issue, why Bendis thinks that accusation is misjudged. I’m very much unconvinced, simply because there’s still nothing motivating the decision to make Iceman, as he rather awkwardly puts it, “full gay” as opposed to bisexual. There’s nothing gained by having Iceman be gay instead of bi, and there’s plenty of implication that bisexual people are just gays who lack conviction, which is a bullshit stereotype.
In any case, the sense of momentum leading into Bendis’s big X-finale is satisfying.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Nobody is ever going to write a better line for Galactus than “Thanks, Tippy-Toe,” except of course, for Ryan North, who writes numerous other lines of similar quality for Galactus in the course of his defeat at the hands of Squirrel-Girl. (This is not spoiling the ending, since the title of the book pretty much guarantees it.)
J. L. Webb
April 22, 2015 @ 3:09 pm
Rachel Edidin wrote up a fairly stirring queer-informed counter to the going criticisms of X-Men #40 if anyone is interested. Currently only up at the link below, apparently available on her usual outlet on, I believe, the Saturday:
April 23, 2015 @ 5:59 am
When gay men are first coming to terms with their sexuality, there is a very, very common pattern. Many, many of us were raised to think we must be straight, because we were raised with the understanding that the alternatives were all unthinkable. When we finally started to acknowledge our same-sex attractions, many, many of us did go through a phase of calling ourselves "bisexual", which generally only lasts until we actually have sex with another dude, when a little lightbulb goes off over our heads and we do in fact go "full gay". It doesn't work this way for every gay man, but it is an incredibly common life experience many, many of us share.
Iceman's story–creepy mind-reading aside–fits this pattern, especially given he's from "the past", in a way that I found very resonant and touching and oddly sweet. I don't think it's intentionally playing up any stereotypes about bisexuals at all. I think it's doing exactly what it says it's doing, which is telling a story about the experiences of gay men.
At worst, I think it could be said to be biphobic in the same way that "The Unquiet Dead" could be said to be anti-immigrant, but even that seems…uncharitable.
April 23, 2015 @ 10:34 am
As a guy who, four decades into his life, is still helplessly and sometimes frustratingly Kinsey 3 "full bisexual," I'm grateful for Philip's remarks on the subject, and I see (and have experienced, with an ex-boyfriend) the truth of yours as well. Obviously I'm going to have to read this issue to get my own take on it, so between the two of you, you've sold a comic for Bendis. 🙂
Are there any male bisexual characters of note in comics today? It would be nice if there were one.
April 23, 2015 @ 1:03 pm
Daken from Marvel. And I suppose John Constantine from DC although WB seems to have forgotten about that. I would mention Prodigy but you asked for the character to be of note.
April 23, 2015 @ 2:27 pm
Those are all interesting examples — thanks! I haven't read anything about Daken but it sounds like there's a hefty dose of "he'll do anyone if it serves his purposes," which is better than nothing but still kind of a cop-out. I always got the same vibe from the treatment of Constantine, though I tuned out sometime in the Mike Carey run and haven't read it for a while, so I don't know if that changed at all. Prodigy sounds the most promising based on Wikipedia alone, i.e. a bisexual guy with bisexual desires rather than "I don't do labels, I'm just sexual, you know." Which is not uncommon, but also not satisfying, for me anyway.
April 29, 2015 @ 11:14 am
I read the comic, and unfortunately wasted my money on the issues leading up to it, which were full of punching and explosions and all the reasons I typically don't read superhero comics. I'm not trying to be a snob; it's just not my thing. Though one of them had some pretty amazing art, I must say.
#40: well, judging solely from what was in this comic, I didn't have much of a problem with it. The lead-in to Bobby and Jean's conversation doesn't actually work at all if he's bi; it would have to be rewritten so he's hiding feelings for someone rather than covering with bluster, though that wouldn't be that big a change. But it's one thing to conceal part of yourself and another to hide it completely, so the whole dynamic's a little different.
But then I don't know much about the character's past, so I don't know how much beyond the relationships they allude to Bendis is retconning here; and I don't know where they're going, so I don't know what value it'll have to the story for him to be gay or bi or whatever. I guess we'll see, or rather someone who continues to read this will see. 🙂