Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Batwoman #21

Here we see Killer Croc making a huge mistake.

I feel like I should write some type of essay full of insight about Batwoman and lesbians and comic books and women but I don't think I have anything to say. The most important thing to me is good characters. I don't want to read about Batman who also happens to be a woman and also happens to be a lesbian. I want to read about a character where all of those things matter. I want her to be believable in her passions, whether they're her relationship with a police officer who's also a single mother or fighting injustice and stark raving madmen in her city. And since this comic book does all that, it never really occurs to me that I should talk about any of it!

I find it strange when fans call out creators for introducing "non-normative" characters into their comic books. Yes, I'm using non-normative to mean not straight white male which is also why I put the quote marks around non-normative because thinking that straight white male is a normal standard is pretty fucking ridiculous. It's just another category. When DC reported that The New 52 Alan Scott was gay, a lot of people bitched and moaned. In situations like these, I wish more people could be honest about their own feelings and the reasons they have problems with these things. But everyone hides behind arguments about tradition and gimmick and the loss of Jade and Obsidian (who happened to be Preboot gay). Of course, the fact that Alan Scott is so much younger is the only reason there's probably not a Jade or an Obsidian. He could easily have children. Perhaps on Earth 2, he felt pressure to pass and married Harlequin and had the twins anyway. That could be part of the story but before the comic book with the reveal even came out, people were arguing that they hated Alan Scott being gay because it means Obsidian and Jade don't exist.

I had a point there somewhere but, as usual, it got lost in my meandering. The bottom line about Alan Scott is that he's going to be written by writers that, hopefully, care about the characters and stories they're writing. So even if it was merely an editorial decision and they drew a name out of a hat, it still means a gay hero will be a main character of a book. For me, his sexuality doesn't matter one way or the other. I want to feel empathy for him and I want him to succeed and I want him to be interesting. By acknowledging that it doesn't matter either way to me, I mean to say that there should probably be more "non-normative" characters because they certainly DO matter to a lot of fans. Plus I guess it would certainly matter to me if every comic book character were straight white males. Boring! Although then some of them might become prison gay since there wouldn't be any women running about. Which, again, would make things interesting!

Let's take an even better example because it isn't spotlighting sexuality which wasn't the actual point of the previous few paragraphs. Let me point out Gail Simone's "The Movement". Here's a batch of diverse youngsters that are, so far, entertaining and a lot of fun. They're also very important to a lot of people who don't see heroes that look like they do very often. Or sometimes not at all! These things are just part of the character to me. They don't take away from nor add any emotional impact to me. So if Katharsis being Lao can add as much happiness as I've seen it add just from the messages Gail Simone receives on Tumblr, I think that's great. And Tremor is from India. And Vengeance Moth is in a wheelchair. And Mouse smells like urine. These things are important to the characters but even more important to fans that don't see enough characters like them.

As a straight white male (although the "white" is arguable on a genetic level, it's how society sees me. I, because of my close ties with my mother's parents and their brothers and sisters, have always thought of myself as Spanish), I've grown up in an atmosphere and a society that didn't criticize those aspects of who I was. So they're not of much concern to me. Which means characters can be of any race or gender or sexual identity and it doesn't matter to me. If they're well-written characters, I'll love them for being well-written characters. Which is, to me, one of the best arguments for more diverse characters. They matter more to more people than just another straight white guy. I've never identified with a character merely because he was male, straight, or white. My favorite characters when I was first reading comics were The Outsiders with Metamorpho and Black Lightning topping the list. So maybe I did identify more with male characters earlier in life since I also loved Halo and Katana but I instantly mentioned Metamorpho and Black Lightning. I especially loved Halo. SWOOOOON.

Anyway, I was just thinking I should discuss diversity at some point and why I never really discuss it much! I'm neutral on diversity so I'm not the target audience. But I'm also not the target audience on non-diverse comic book characters! I think that's probably a good part of the silent majority. Which means when a company thinks that diverse characters won't sell, they're absolutely wrong because they're listening to a vocal minority. I'll read ANY character if the story is well-written and/or drawn beautifully! Which probably means I shouldn't stay silent on being pro-diversity! So it's probably a good thing to be writing this. Take note, DC. White male characters don't sell because comic book fans demand white males. White males sell because that's what you're fucking selling us.

So when I say I'm neutral on it, I just mean I'm not emotionally invested one way or the other on the background of a character. I think diversity is important because it's so important to fans under-represented for years. The only time comic fans should ever be angry concerning comic book characters is when Scott Lobdell is shitting all over them.

So, on to Batwoman! Or, I guess I should say, Killer Croc!

This issue begins with Killer Croc recounting the moments during Medusa's assault on Gotham while he was The Hydra. His voice in the Narration Boxes is evocative of a Toni Morrison novel. He begins powerless against Medusa's voice as she pulls the Hydra from his guts. Later, after Medusa is destroyed, he's wounded and powerless to move from the middle of the rubble and destruction he caused. And then he's powerless to stop the Monster Squad from dragging him down into their underground lair. He's recounting all of this to Claire, a lizard woman lying in bed next to him.

Those first two Narration Boxes are magnificent.

Being that this is Interlude III, I was sure we wouldn't be getting any Batwoman and, at this point, I hope we fucking don't. Williams and Blackman are writing the fuck out of Killer Croc right now. Earlier when he was thinking about how he's never been more proud about destroying a large chunk of Gotham as Hydra except maybe how proud he was when he beat up Batman. And now, taking a look at Killer Croc in such an intimate way and perfectly within character. He's always full of bravado and machismo. And here he still is with his "About you, baby." But inside he's thinking about how he was a virgin when he met Claire and about how obvious it should be to everybody that he was. Here's this big ass brawler with the rock hard outer shell and we're getting to see his vulnerable side. Hell, his human side. DC characters need a shitload more of this kind of thing. Absolutely brilliant, sweet, and beautiful.

I can't help thinking he's going to fuck it all up with Claire!

Afterward, Waylon discusses his newly found knowledge about himself with one of the Monster Squad.

So being a werecreature is a bit like having Cerebral Palsy? Kind of an umbrella term for a whole list of differing manifestations?

I'm going to stick my tongue right up Williams and Blackman's ass now. Just get it right up in there nice and deep because this shit is so fucking smart. I love this werebeast idea and how it's a spectrum and not just a binary Werewolf kind of thing. So Waylon surmises that Cobblepot just has a little, maybe 1-2% Werebeast in him which causes him to act the way he does and, probably, identify with Penguins so much. Just a great image, that. And on the other end of the spectrum would be Waylon, Killer Croc, who can't manifest as a human at all. So it's easy to see how his Werecrocodile blood could be diagnosed as some kind of skin defect by humancentric doctors. Brilliant. Just...just...I think this comic book is giving me an erection.

Waylon denies being a shapechanger although it's pointed out to him that he's constantly changing shape which was actually a point I was going to make before I was distracted by this lump in my pants. I was really impressed earlier in this comic book series when Killer Croc was taken from simple Batman bad guy to alligators in the sewers Urban Legend working for Medusa. I believe I even commented at the time when he went from Urban Legend to full blown Hydra myth how well thought out a turn of fortune that was for him. To go from dark ally hood to urban legend to Mythological creature was quite an advancement for Killer Croc. And now Claire is claiming he's the Great Beast of Babylon. So I guess he's got some slouching to do.

The Monster Squad want Killer Croc to be their new leader but first, they declare, he must avenge Abbot and kill Batwoman. Well, that hardly seems fair. Batwoman didn't kill Abbot! Batwoman was finally working with him when Medusa turned him to stone. I hope the Monster Squad isn't merely using Killer Croc to advance their agenda. I'm going to feel really sorry for Waylon if they abandon him after he fails to kill Batwoman.

I think Maggie needs to get a stronger face wash.

Killer Croc decides to stake out Maggie and maybe come up with a plan. Or just bite her face off.

See? That's why she needs a stronger face wash. What did you think I meant, you sex maniacs?!

When Waylon attacks, he's back to his normal, DC Universe self. He just goes in all claws and teeth and "bat-bitch"es. He thinks to himself, "Sometimes I hate the crap that comes out of my mouth." He's basically a dumb-ass thug who, like most dumb-asses, doesn't think he's dumb at all. But he's self-aware enough to realize how cliche he is at being a big dumb brute. Williams and Blackman are building some really strong bully chops on this guy. His self-esteem seems to be a driving factor behind his violence. The tough skin is both literal and metaphorical.

I have no clue if Killer Croc has been written this way in the past since it seems a natural path to go down with him. I can only comment on this Waylon now since I rarely read Batman. I did read Shadow of the Bat for a few years. I wonder if there was a good Killer Croc story in that while I was reading it? No way I'd remember!

Killer Croc underestimates Maggie Sawyer, believing that she'll take cover while Batwoman battles him. Which is why he gets shot in the shoulder and punched in the face at the same time. And then his big mouth gets him in a little bit of big trouble.

The big mouth.

The big trouble.

Killer Croc begins turning back into Killer Hydra after he takes the shotgun blast to his head and he hears Maggie say his name. He keeps hearing his name repeated in his head and he's going wild. But then Hawkfire appears and Waylon begins to realize what would happen if he kills Batwoman. He thought killing Batwoman would earn him a welcome place among the Monster Squad. He'd be free and have a home and Claire and happiness. But as Hawkfire arrives and Maggie has her shotgun out and Batwoman is standing there glaring at him, he knows if he kills Batwoman, peace is the one thing he'll never have. He'll be run down until the end of time by the people that care about her. So he retreats. He flees back to find Claire and get her away from the warmonger leader of the Monster Squad, and away from Gotham altogether.

I bet Claire's baby winds up being a Werewolf.

Batwoman #21 Rating: +2 Ranking. Is it fair to give two whole rankings to a Batwoman comic book that barely had Batwoman in it? Sure, why not?! I really liked it! And I really liked how the panels were all laid out like scales. Oh, Batwoman. You just keep being one of the best, most consistent books of The New 52, girl.

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