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Why did I cry During the Action Scenes in Wonder Woman?

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caption: Me rn all the time

Two months ago, I had the great pleasure of watching DC’s new feature film, Wonder Woman. It was a hell of a good time, combining the best aspects of Captain America, Thor, and Xena: Warrior Princess.  There has been a lot of buzz about this movie lately: feminists love it, comic book fans love it, even some Marvel fans love it.

My family is on Team Marvel.  We are deeply loyal and have even begun indoctrinating our two-year-old daughter (ask me about her Princess Spiderman birthday party).  But we still shelled out over $30 to see Wonder Woman and boy was it worth it.  The film made me proud, unstoppable, and powerful, but the reaction that will stick with me was a sense of seeing myself on screen for the first time.

You see, I’m a Gamer Girl, and I play a tank.  ‘Tank’ in this context refers to a party-role in cooperative gaming.  In order to form a successful team, a gaming group must consist of a balance of characters with differing abilities.  At minimum, a party will typically contain a healer or support character, a damage-dealer (DPS, short for damage per second), and a tank.  The ‘tank’ is a heavily armored character capable of absorbing a lot of damage.  The tank is often the first one into the fight, aggressively drawing fire from enemies to keep his (it’s almost always a ‘his’) allies safe.

If you play a lot of games, you start to see these roles appear in fiction as well.  It can be a lot of fun to categorize characters from movies or books into roles, especially if a diverse group of characters are on an adventure together.  The thing is, when you do this, you start to notice that women fall into particular roles.  The lone female member of a team is usually the healer.  I call this the ‘why’s the girl always got to play the cleric?’ trope.

This trope plays into the stereotype of women as caring and nurturing, existing only to support the men around them.  It shows up a lot in games.  Very often, female players like me, who actually want to beat up enemy pixels, are forced to chose between a character that suits their personalities and one that matches their gender (I never got into Black Desert Online for this reason).

The girl doesn’t always have to play the cleric, though.  Sometimes she gets to play DPS.  She can be a sexy sorceress like Lulu in Final Fantasy X, or a sexy rogue like Black Widow in The Avengers.  They stay on the outskirts of battle, dealing out heavy damage to opponents, avoiding being hit and looking good doing it.  This type of character can be fun to play, but when I try I always get killed because I rush in to melee a group of enemies without the hit points or armor to stay alive.  Sometimes I manage to take the mobs down with me.  Sometimes.  But deep down, I was always meant to play a tank.

There is a scene in Wonder Woman where Diana and her sidekick, Chris Pine, are in a tavern forming an adventuring party.  Pine’s character is a rogue, and they recruit a bard, and then we learn that their next group member is engaged in a bar fight.  “At least he’s good with his fists,” says Diana as she watches a large man pummel a much smaller man.  “Oh,” say her companions.  “That’s not Charlie.  That’s Charlie,” and indicate the smaller man who at this point has fallen to the ground, unconscious.

In the next scene, we learn that Charlie is an expert marksman.  Oh, I think to myself, he’s DPS. So they have DPS and support, but where’s the tank?  

And that was the moment I realized that I’d never seen myself represented on screen before.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that the party already had a tank from the start: the only woman in the group.  It hadn’t occurred to me because I had never seen it in a movie before.

So, when the warrior princess ignores the warnings of everyone around her and strides in all her glory across the no-man’s-land between WWI trenches, deflecting bullets off of her bracers and shield, I just kept thinking, ‘It’s me.’  Or, at least the me I am when I play video games.  The me I want to be all the time.

Stories tell us who we are and who we can become.  We absorb them and they help us grow.  Generations of moviegoers have been starved for a story of a woman who is brave and strong, who protects the men around her.  That starvation is finally ending.

 

Wonder Woman Honored then Snubbed by the U.N.

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The United Nations, famous (infamous?) for having Saudi Arabia on the human rights council, recently appointing Wonder Woman as the honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.  Then, even more recently enough, people threw a fit that it was reversed.  Strangely enough of the people who complained aren’t who you think.  UN staffers, feminists, and non-fans of the character were vocal about their opposition.  Even written in the petition:

Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent warrior woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a pin-up girl.

What this says about women who do look like Wonder Woman is a bit of a double standard in my opinion.  While every woman is different, there are probably a great many women who look like her and girls who will look like her.  Saying they are abnormal is just as bad as saying any other body type is abnormal.  Saying she’s a ‘white woman’ shows the ignorance of people who cannot tell the difference between the wide range of  European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people, as much as the ignorance of people who think all Asians are the same.  And what’s wrong with pin-up girls?  It’s a job just like any other, and there are highly talented, and successful burlesque dancers, pin-up models, and dancers and if we are empowering women that means accepting whatever job it is they decide is best for them, right?  Who are we to shame any of these aspects of real women?

If a woman of Greek descent, who saves people all around the world and immigrates to America is too American, then which fictional character would work?  What other fictional female character is as well known, especially with the upcoming DC movie?  How many little girls, and even adults, cosplay as Diana every year?  What message does the UN send to these woman and girls, and even boys, when they say Wonder Woman isn’t womaning well enough to be an example for girls to look up to?

And current iteration?  Did they even google Wonder Woman before writing that?  Take a look.  Wonder Woman art is as varied as the artists who’ve drawn her.  Just in the top few results, we have her in the traditional red, white and blue, decked out in armor, wearing pants, and covered from neck to toe in an armored body suit.  She’s drawn as athletic and slender, or muscular and curvy, large chested or smaller, and everything in between.  The current iteration of this immigrant super heroine is quite diverse really, and it seems to me she shows that women can be whatever they want, and look however they want when they do it.

Thankfully fans are speaking out, with one 14 year old girl starting a petition to reinstate her.  Even Phil Jimenez shared this great tweet with art from Catherine and Sarah Satrun:

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Quite honestly, at the end of the day, if the point is to pick a woman who will fit everyone’s definition of a role-model, you’ll fail.  You’re not going to find a single fictional female, or male character, that everyone will think is a perfect example.  It’s simply not possible.  What I do know is when I see the faces of little girls dressed as Wonder Woman, they look like they’re having the time of their lives.  Do little girls really care what she’s wearing, or do they care that they feel like goddesses when they put on a costume and pretend to be Diana for a few hours?  Should we be focusing on what a woman wears (I’m told that’s really bad), or what she does?  Should our message be that a woman can do whatever she wants, and dress however she likes when she does it, or she can do it as long as she dresses in an acceptable manner?  I may just be one of those silly guys, but it seems like a damn confusing message to me.

Guest Post: Synopsis of DC’s Raven Vol 1 (Comic Book)

By Dandc_special_-_raven_1

I would like to thank the staff at Real Women of Gaming for giving me the opportunity to write a few words for them about comic books. As a fellow geek, I understand the powers these sacred tomes hold dear to us, in various ways. I don’t know if I pique enough interest in my digital correspondence to the world, but I’ve never been one for backing down in a request from a friend.

Given the task of writing about a comic book hasn’t been an easy one. I seriously thought about choosing a character I can associate myself with, going beyond the actual powers of said character and resonating with the story itself. Initially, there were a few I thought would be “flashy” or “neat,” but shortly after reading them, I didn’t quite feel the message of what the writers were trying to portray. Deciding I was thinking too hard about this, I’ve opted to go for a gut feeling.

DC Comic’s Raven, issue one, written by Wolfman, Borges and Blond.

First glance of the cover art, I felt a strong sense of nostalgia. Raven’s wings juxtaposed to a shining white light conveys a sense of apprehension in being a protector, torn between the fear she has of people knowing who she is (as the book she’s clutching is a foreshadowing of her father) and the good nature, which I presume comes from her mother, or even her, herself. Its pretty apparent from the age she’s drawn at, she’s in high school, which only further reinforces the fact that she’s going through turmoil. This instantly reminded me of the struggles I faced in school, having been a “weird(nerd)” kid in school, constantly carrying all of my textbooks, being made fun of, wondering if people really liked me (or only for my homework).

Upon reading, you’re immersed into being a typical teenager, who’s lost and trying to find their way in life. The story starts with Raven sent to live with her aunt’s religious suburbanite family. This doesn’t seem so bad, unless you’re the daughter of a prime evil demon and your very namesake would make Poe never quote you. She feels uneasy being around such nice people, even if they are her family, but she craves trying to be normal, still thinking what she’s doing is for the best. This ideology causes her to have conflict with herself and dreams of her father lash out at her. This scares her new family, but they understand from a “normal” perspective, trying to cheer her up and soothe her. Raven’s aunt tries to assure her, that she’s just like every other “normal” teenager, even if she’s the daughter of her “different” sister.

At “normal” school, we’re inferred that she can just basically feel emotions around her. She presses on, knowing that “normal” kids her age are struggling with problems, too, given by a two page spread showing the different thoughts that typical teens might have. She feels that she cannot fit in, but she’s quickly made the center of attention from a group of friends that basically realize she’s not like everyone else, causing an instant bond. However, one teen is not quite like the others, and in comic fashion causes Raven to react to help one of her new found friends. We’re given the idea that someone can use powers similar to Raven’s, although is much stronger and controlled in their powers, and left wondering who that person could be.

Comic Book Spotlight: Batgirl #1

Title: Batgirl #1
Writer: Hope Larson
Artists: Rafael Albuquerque
Published by DC Comics
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Reviewed by Johnny Destructo
A bit of history: the first post-Killing Joke-version of Batgirl that appeared about 5 years ago via “The New 52” was a no-nonsense woman dealing with recently getting back on her feet, and the after affects of PTSD. Then the powers that be did a bit of re-branding, making Barbara slightly younger, with a whole new outfit (which is far more visually striking) and suddenly she was worrying about her online presence, Instagram and her popularity as a superhero in a piece of the city called Burnside. That brings us to this new #1! Babs has left Burnside and is doing some globe-trotting, starting in Japan, specifically to meet an elderly ex-crimefighter, Chiyo Yamashiro, aka FRUIT BAT.

 

OK, so on her first day in Japan, Babs runs into her old friend Kai, who just happens to be her new roommate, coincidentally, on the other side of the world. Even though I love super-heroes being taken out of their comfort zone and into a new locale, in this issue, Kai sees a red-headed friend from Gotham, and then runs into a red-headed Vigilante from Gotham the next day? This is the bit where we as readers have to do some belief-suspension and just go along with it. This is a long-running super-hero trope that we just have to pretend not to notice. Or is it? Should we expect better from modern comics?

 

At any rate, the action soon ramps up when Kai is attacked by a bad-ass “school girl” and Babs has to jump in as Batgirl, only to have the aforementioned Fruit Bat take care of the kid herself. She deflects a knife-toss meant for her throat, sending it bouncing off a nearby drum and through the School Girl’s tie! Not bad for a lady 104 years in. Babs sees this and decides, as good as she is, she needs more training. Fruit Bat, clearly unable to take her on as a student, tells Batgirl to “find Teacher.” Before succumbing to a weak heart, imparts, “You can’t see the future when the past is standing in your way.” This, plus a billboard, lead our favorite ginger to the MMA Grand Prix in Singapore, and to issue #2.

 

Upon a second reading, I actually liked the mystical coincidences that popped up here, despite it reeking of cliched “Asian magicks.” I’ve always enjoyed when a crime-fighter needs to travel the world to learn different techniques. It gives the character a sense of having to actually work for their abilities, unlike in shows such as Arrow where it only takes the length of an episode to become a master of martial arts and cool weaponry.

The art by Rafael Albuquerque is sketchy yet fluid, kinetic but still solid. It’s a bucket of fun to look at, and the colors by Dave McCaig have a Pop-Art sensibility and don’t take themselves too seriously, if that makes sense. It’s a beautiful book, with a fun story, give it a shot!
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Be sure to visit Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex in Manayunk for great comics just like this one! Like them on Facebook here!
Note from the editor: This month’s Comic Spotlight was delayed due to conflicting schedules.

I’m Harley Quinn and You Can Be Too

I’m Harley Quinn and You Can Be Too

I’ve loved Harley Quinn since she first popped up in my Batman cartoons as the insane goof who simply wanted to be loved. She had so much appeal for me and I couldn’t figure out why at first. I loved how open she was about her crazy, about her desires, wishes, wants. She was so open about who she was.

 

tumblr_nrg1h4YcRD1r5rk9to1_540Goddess forbid you piss her off. She was scary all by herself, but you didn’t know because she was almost always with the Joker. She was never her full self because of him. In Suicide Squad (BTW, I love you, Margot Robbie!), she dreamed of what she really wanted out of life: her family.  I clung to her more and more as I grew older because I realized that I wanted to be her; we were similar. Well, except for the murdering and the crime spree. It was touch and go with me for awhile, though.

While she was a therapist, I wanted to be a lawyer. Odd thing when you’re a teenager. I was told I wasn’t smart enough and those words stuck with me forever. Now, I have to convince myself that I’m not an idiot. I’m plenty smart enough and I would have made an amazing lawyer. That produced a negative spiral that I spent a long part of my life just accepting.

I’d find myself with significant others that I would adapt to; never being myself, being a version of me I thought they would want. In essence, I was putting them all in the Joker’s role. Some of them are great people who I’m still friends with; some of them were abusive. Some knew about my past and some where just contributing to it. That is all in the past now, but it still matters. I became more like the Harley I saw in the shows. (I am in NO WAY saying that the cartoon made me this way, so shut the fuck up. Yeah, you about to make a comment, go away. It’s a comparison, relax.)

Of course, Harleen was driven insane after making a poor choice in significant others (I’m mean, we’ve all been there). Putting someone down creates its own insanity. It magnifies depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts. It’s not the outward crazy that you see from Harley, but my mind feels like her so often. My thoughts, feelings and decisions all feel like they are swirling in this tornado of insane that would make me burst into fits of laughter because I had no tools to properly handle this.

acaf814305641c00772a4e97f56c63ebSo that was the person I grew into, until I met my husband Vel, my Poison Ivy. I met the person who told me it was okay to be me and he didn’t want me to be anyone else. So I waved good bye to my past, my very own Joker, and I took time and figured out who I was. Turns out, I’m still Harley Quinn. I’m still an obnoxiously loud, crazy, weird nerd. I’m getting more comfortable with showing people who I am.

(SIDE NOTE: I am not some Disney movie telling you that you need a significant other to make it all better, so fucking far from it. It’s just a weird anomaly that it worked out this way for me. Don’t go looking for someone to ‘fix you’ because he didn’t ‘fix me’ he allowed me to fix myself without the pressure of being ‘his ideal version of me.’ He created a safe space that I couldn’t find on my own. A support system is good, but that can also be found in the form of friends, family and trained professionals.)

I’m embracing the, ‘fuck you if you don’t like me, I’m awesome’ mentality. Holy shit is that hard to do. It’s hard to just rip off the masks you wear and say, ‘THIS IS WHO I AM!’ I’m trying and it’s terrifying, but also freeing. I’ll get there. I know it.

I have two points to this:

1) Harley Quinn evolved as a person. Fictional characters can do that. If a fictional character can do it, so can you.

2) Embrace who you are. It’s so exhausting being someone else and I promise there is no one out there like you. You are unique, special and wonderful. Let everyone see who you really are. Let them fall in love with that you.

I know you’re probably screaming, ‘IT ISN’T THAT EASY!’ No, no it isn’t. It’s taken me 10 years and I still have so much work to do, but you can get started. I promise, we will be right here waiting for you when you come out of your cocoon and spread those amazing wings and proudly say, ‘HERE I AM, BITCHES!’ We will clap for you and hug you and embrace you for who you are.

Until next time, stay vigilant.

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Kthxbai

JD Reviews: The Legend of Wonder Woman

Writer, Pencils: Renae De Liz
Inker, Colorist, Letterer: Ray Dillon
Published by: DC Comics

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Review by: Johnny Destructo

The mythical island of Themyscira, home to the Amazons, is beset with a growing darkness, and the young Princess Diana is the only one who can feel it. That is, until she meets Alcippe.

I’ve been following Renae De Liz on the social medium, just because I came across her artwork and loved it. It’s been a fun ride, watching as her talent grew and as she announced that she would be working on a Wonder Woman title. I didn’t, however, know that she would be doing the writing as well as the art, and she nails both with ease.

This is a different approach to the Wonder Woman origin story (and I’m sure you will correct me if I’m mistaken, dear Internet), in that this is the first time I’ve seen a long-form version of Diana’s youth. The first 1/3 of the book is spent delivering the back-story of the Amazons, the Gods, Themyscira and setting up the mystery of Diana’s birth, then we jump to the young princess’ preadolescent years. Here we find a wistful, melancholic girl, set apart from her peers through the immemorial walls of birth and class. Other girls run and play while she ponders the growing sickness coursing through The Island, and mourns her inability to do anything about it. Diana feels the call of the sword and shield, but is set upon by her mother, Queen Hippolyta, to become a regal and peaceful princess.

Enter: Immortal Bad-ass Warrior Alcippe.

This is a very serious, almost Game Of Thrones-level take on the Warrior Princess we all know and love. This isn’t the Geoff Johns’ Justice League version of the character that seemed almost on the ditzy side. That WW felt more like a Michael Bay female character than I’m used to. By comparison, the Diana in this book is already wiser and more interesting. When this 9-issue series is all said and done, I look forward to handing customers a fully fleshed-out Wonder Woman story worthy of her royal origins.

JD can be found running his own comic shop in Manayunk, PA, called Johnny Destructo’s HERO COMPLEX, hosting the PopTards Podcast, discussing movies, comics and other flimflam over at www.poptardsgo.com, graphically designing/illustrating/inking and Booking his Face off at facebook.com/jaydotdeedot.

Follow his twitter: @poptardsgo.

Injustice – Gods Among Us

Harley1200So, I finished the storyline for Injustice. I don’t think I will actually ever finish the whole game. I’ll give it a shot, but I’m not that awesome at fighting games.

Actually, I don’t like fighting games usually. I find the women scantily clad, the best moves to be impossible for me to get off and after a couple of fights I’m just plain bored with it. It’s the same thing over and over and over again.

Now, with all that being said, I haven’t been able to put Injustice down. Harley Quinn is my favorite character in the DC universe by far, hands down. If you met me, you’d get it. I really don’t agree with her outfit, however. Yes, she is sexy as hell, but really? It would simply make much more sense if it were closed in the front; then I’d actually be on board. It feels like a cheap attempt to see her panties. Every other character’s outfit seems pretty on point to how they normally look. Harley seemed to be the only one getting a major makeover. Now, her second outfit I find much more fitting for her personality.

Ok, so end that rant. Now, let’s talk about game play. Everything is beautiful. I love the scenery, the characters, the interactive background. It all made the game just as awesome as the characters themselves. I did keep pointing at the screen asking what the hell was going on in the background. I’ve never seen a more magical fighting game. It was hard to pay attention to actually fighting sometimes because I was too enthralled with trying to catch all of the details in the background. Not to mention constantly trying to interact with things, like hitting my opponent with a rocket. THEN! I would get knocked out of the scene, into someplace new. I loved it when this happened, however I didn’t love the fact that no matter how hard I tried, I was never the one doing this, so it was always my character falling down some cliff and being badly injured for it. Totally worth it.

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