Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ravagers and World’s Finest: A Closer Look at DC’s New Team Books with Female Leads

DC comics has revealed details for their second wave of comics to come out of the rebooted new 52, and a handful of titles promise the return of some fan favorite characters as well as the presentation of female characters in the fore-front. Namely in the former of Ravagers, featuring a new Terra and Beast Boy; and Worlds’ Finest, a title that used to be about Batman and Superman (it also used to be World’s Finest, a feat of punctuational distinction that excites your humble editor), is now housing the triumphant return of Powergirl and The Huntress to the DC Universe.

A new group called the Ravagers is set to hit stands in May following a crossover event called “The Culling,” and it boasts a multitude of revamped classic teen heroes, as well as the introduction of some new ones. Spinning out of the pages of Teen Titans, Legion Lost, and Superboy, the series will focus on the escaped prisoners of the shadowy organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and how they will band together to come to terms with the traumatic experiences they faced while imprisoned, and move forward with their lives. Leading this motley team is Caitlyn Fairchild, of former Gen13 fame, who has been recently seen under the mousy guise of “Red” in issues of Superboy alongside Rose Wilson, who will also play a pivotal role in Ravagers. Joining them will be a rotating cycle of characters. Included in the first issue, we will see a new iteration of the Thunder and Lightning team, with the sibling duo now brother and sister, as opposed to brothers as we have previously seen them. We are also introduced to yet another new Terra, however this one is meant to be the original Tara Markov, albeit with a new look and updated powers. Rounding out the team is Beast Boy, who now sports red fur to reflect the events occurring in the current Animal Man and Swamp Thing comics, and a new monstrous creature named Ridge, who possesses the appearance of alien Armadillo.
A few issues arise looking at the cover of the first issue, namely in regards to the choice in costumes. Fairchild appears to be wearing nothing except her underwear, and the rest of the team look like rejects from Tron: Legacy. Given that the suits being seen are nearly identical to that currently being worn by Superboy, one can assume that they are standard N.O.W.H.E.R.E. issued garb, and are essentially prison uniforms that will be discarded once the characters obtain freedom. In regards to Caitlyn being in her skivvies, let’s just assume she had to “hulk out” of her civilian/scientist attire in a fashion similar to what we have recently seen in Superboy, and hope she’ll return to an outfit similar to what we saw in Wildstorm’s Worldstorm (Also, we can lose the exposed midriff; the 90s are over.)
Another title set for release in the second wave is Worlds’ Finest (top pic), which focuses on the characters of Power Girl and Huntress, bringing them back to their Pre-Crisis roots on Earth 2, where Helena Wayne is Robin, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, and Karen Starr is the Supergirl of that world. The story follows how the two heroines have been transported to the world of the new 52 (New Earth? Earth 52?) and how they have to adapt to fit in, while attempting to try to find their way home.
The most notable change in this new book is not the characters’ backstories, but instead the change in Power Girl’s costume; specifically the removal of the infamous “Boob window.” Although some fans may mourn the loss of one of the biggest cheesecake factors in comics, the removal of the “Boob window” is a step in the right direction for Power Girl, female superheroes, and the comic industry in general. In the past, the “Boob window” had sadly become the most distinguishing aspect of a great character who has had a rich history, strong connections within the DCU, and unique motivations. It’s removal now allows Power Girl’s character to evolve and grow while being taken seriously, and helps show that women in comics are meant to be realistic, three dimensional characters, not over sexualized eye candy.
Power Girl’s new costume has some very positive aspects, but also possesses problems of its own. The costume covers the previously fabric-less area with a Kryptonian-esque shield meant to reference Power Girl’s connection to Superman, while simultaneously giving Power Girl a symbol of her own. She retains her red cape and classic white leotard, but trades sleeves for pant legs, and replaces her blue gloves and boots for golden ones. Although this overall color scheme and presentation is aesthetically appealing, it is less than iconic or unique, especially since it looks like she simply raided Supreme’s closet, and slapped a “P” on the front.
Going hand-in-hand with the release of Worlds’ Finest is the much anticipated title Earth 2, which has been anticipated to be where we would find blatantly missing Justice Society. However, all that has been revealed thus far is an alternate cover to the first issue which has new rumors buzzing that the Batman and Wonder Woman presented on the cover are none other than Dick Grayson, and the missing Donna Troy. Speculation delves even further into who the young Superman is, whether he is Conner Kent, Mon-el, or some son of Clark. How closely Worlds’ Finest will tie-in to Earth 2 has yet to be seen, but the potential for a Power Girl, Huntress, Donna Troy team-up sounds too good to be true.
- Ravagers picture Clockwise from bottom: (Caitlyn Fairchild, Thunder, Terra, Ridge, Lightning, Beast Boy)

Read it at themarysue.com here 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

D.C.'s Red Palace: Beers, Burgers, and Burlesque

Following my New Year's Resolution to explore Washington D.C. more, and try more new and exciting things; a couple weeks ago I decided to attend my first Burlesque show. It has been something I had been wanting to do for a while, and in my excitement I had planned to go over the top and dress up in a full tuxedo, adorned with a top hat, monocle, and cane, and sip scotch in a classy way before and during the performance, as if I was attending a performance back in the golden age of Burlesque. However, I was lucky enough to be attending the show on a date, and my lovely companion Melissa convinced me to tone it down and so I simply showed up in a dress shirt and tie, while she accompanied me in a tastefully elegant blue dress. 
       Upon arrival at the Red Palace, I noticed the distinctively dive bar feel of the place, which immediately endeared me to the location; as did the freak show type theme that resonated throughout the walls and ceiling of the venue. Pictures of Siamese twins joined at the head and alligator boys decorated the area, giving the location a cool, eerie vibe. In lieu of Scotch, we decided that our primary drink for the night would be Bourbon Whiskey, and thus upon arriving at the Red Palace we began imbibing a variety of bourbon shots, while she chased with Jack and Cokes, and I with several beers. Craft beers appeared to be their specialty, and as a fan I was inclined to try several. The one I was most excited about was D.C. Brau which I had only recently heard about in the Youtube video Shit People in D.C. Say. Granted I was a couple shots deep at the time, but I was incredibly disappointed with D.C. Brau. I got it on draft, and it seemed deprived of hops, and possessed a taste best described as sour ass. Luckily, I was able to quickly wash the taste out of my mouth, as I tried another of the Red Palace's specialties; specifically, their signature burger, The Burpoken. It consists of a regular burger with shredded pork on top, and strips of grilled chicken on top of that. Unfortunately, I wasn't given sufficient time to enjoy the burger because as it arrived, they began letting people in to see the show. Therefore, I smothered it in mayonnaise and ketchup and demolished it in under two minutes, much to Melissa's disgust. Despite the dashed dining, The Burporken worked really well, and was generally delicious. It held together badly and was incredibly messy, but the pulled pork blended really well with the burger meat, and the chicken strips seemed to accentuate the entire combination.
Dangrrr Doll
Chris McDaniel
      When we finally entered the show, Melissa and I met up with my good friends Rachel and Jocelyn (AKA Rossalyn) and were surprised to discover that the show was standing room only. This often made it hard to see the show, as the stage was relatively low down. In order to combat this problem, the Red Palace installed a flat screen by the bar in the back where you could see everything being performed on stage, albeit in horrible picture quality.
      The performing Burlesque troupe was called Albert Cadabera's Skullduggery and Skin Show. Cadabera served as the host, and was endearing enough to keep the audience entertained and captivated from act to act, and even carried out an impressive performance of his own later in the show when he swallowed and retrieved a long string  of razor blades.  Dangrrr Doll, and the other scantily pastie clad ladies who highlighted the show performed admirably, but were sadly far from astonishing. The act that absolutely stole the show was that of the handlebar mustachioed cowboy, Chris McDaniel. He opened up showcasing his impressive talents with a lasso, making every man in the house feel like they were 5 again watching a Western in awe. A few minutes later he came back on stage to demonstrate his proficiency with a whip, stimulating the audience to such a degree that Melissa quipped to Rossalyn "I'm taking HIM home tonight." The rest of the show was a whiskey fueled blur. I recall a very talented little dog, named "Ruby the Wonder Dog who I had to watch on the flat screen, but that's about it. Following the conclusion of the show, Melissa and I stumbled out into a snow storm before hitting up a bar called Sticky Rice, and a couple others whose names I don't recall, then inevitably headed home. Overall, I would certainly visit The Red Palace again, either for a couple drinks or for a great show.

*All of the pictures were found online, because I forgot to bring my camera to the show.