Round Two, Roundup Two

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Three posts (and three comics to check out, if you haven’t already) for your evening delectation!

Today we’ve got Claire on iZombie, Ashleyon Death: The High Cost of Living, and Jess on Young Justice. Lots of juicy analysis here, about comics, storytelling female characters, and representation.

iZombie fan, by Claire.

Wait a second, I changed my mind. I DO want to shout at you about how wonderful it is that this comic stars Gwen and has her wear (hip, but) non-sexualised casuals and romp around with her pals. I like this comic because it’s coming from a 60s B-Movie kind of place, and I like the atmosphere camp of 60s B-Movies. But do you know how much sexism and bodily objectification (good-looking objectification, but objectification all the same; I may think that a lava lamp looks awesome but do I want to be represented by one? No) there is in a 1960s horror? Do you know how nervous-poised women are in those?

Watch Die, Monster, Die (1965) and try not to say “woah” out loud when Susan comes down the stairs in light pink and the most precariously engineered bra I’ve ever tried to picture out of baffled fascination. It’s not just how they look, either, it’s that they have to spend so much time being afraid.

Favourite Stories Starring Women: Death: The High Cost of Living, by Ashley Clayson.

DTHCL is an interesting story, structurally, in addition to being on of my favorites. On the one hand, it’s plot-driven: Death and her new friend Sexton go on a quest to find Mad Hattie’s heart, and on the way they find adventure and misadventure in everything from hot dogs to kidnappings. But it’s also character-driven. It’s a moment of insight into what makes Death who she is. She is the embodiment of death, of course, but that’s not who she is. Like humans, Death is more than the sum of her parts. She has a personality. She is “terminally perky,” as Sexton says of her smile, and she is kind, friendly, sincere, honest, straightforward, optimistic, and, most importantly, empathetic. It’s important to distinguish this empathy from sympathy. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone, looking in from outside their situation. Empathy is when you know what they’re feeling because you’ve walked in their shoes. That’s what DTHCL is all about—Death’s ongoing efforts to maintain her empathy with humanity.

Favourite Stories Starring Women: Young Justice, by Jess Plummer.

And finally there’s Cassie Sandsmark. Cassie is now on her eighth year of being saddled to the unceasingly dreadful Teen Titans,7 and sometimes it’s hard to remember what a fantastic arc she had in her YJ days. Unlike Cissie and Anita and Greta, she was never the focus of a plotline. And yet all of YJ is her story arc, in a way. She starts it as this gangly, dorky tween in a ratty wig and a terrible costume; she doesn’t really know how to use her powers, she gets tongue-tied around Superboy, and she gets her superhero kicks by rescuing cats from trees. Slowly but surely, though – and here Nauck should get as much of the credit as David – she grows into herself, emerging as a confident, competent young woman and the respected leader of the team. The girl who regularly tripped over her own eagerness and insecurity when the series started now schmoozes the press, wrangles her uncooperative teammates, and coolly leads a several-dozen-heroes-strong invasion of a foreign country. It’s not flashy or sudden or flagged up in any way – it’s just a young girl elegantly growing to womanhood. And it’s great.

Young Justice was awesome because it was a smart, witty book with solid art, engaging superheroic adventure, and goofiness balanced with pathos. But it’s also awesome because it let its female characters be flawed and make up for their flaws; be heroes without traumatic backstories; make major life changes and stick to them; and, most importantly, grow. It’s something I don’t think we’ll see again anytime soon.

We’re loving all these paens, ladies. Keep them coming!

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Round two of Women Write About Comics runs from the 18th to the 24th. Use #womenoncomics to discuss on the carnival on Twitter or Tumblr. We track the tag and will pick up posts from it. You can get in touch through @womenoncomics or by email through themegsbenedict@gmail.com.

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Megan Purdy

Editor. Space vampire. Heart of a killer. @thewherefores

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