My most favorite trope ever is when in a show or movie you start it off by seeing the aftershocks of Some Big Thing that happened years ago and changed Everything and now everything is gloomy and grey and you see the ruins of What Once Was but no one actually mentions what happened and it’s just this big mysterious thing and then the narrative takes you back however many years and suddenly everything is full of life and color and happiness and then you get watch what actually happened. It gets me every time. Bonus points if The Thing actually happened several decades ago and life was dramatically different back then.
Okay, you opinionated blogger, you, you don’t agree with the recommendations of panelists for where a new comics reader should start. That’s fine, but put your money where your mouth is! Where do you think a new comics reader should start?
First, a few provisos to this.
A. Older comics are filled with a pervasive and institutionalized racism and sexism. I repeat: OLDER COMICS ARE FILLED WITH RACISM AND SEXISM. This can be difficult to take. It can be depressing and frustrating and it can make you want to put your fist through the nearest wall. Be prepared for it, and walk away from a story or storyline if it begins to hurt you. Remember that these comics were a product of their times, and while there were a lot of women in editing, inking, coloring, ect, almost none of the creative teams (stories, writing, art) had any women or POC in positions of control. This shows. It is okay to like problematic things, and it is okay to be angry with something that is problematic. "It is a product of its times" is an explanation. Not an excuse. Not ever an excuse. Call problematic stuff on being problematic.
B. Not every title/every character/every writer/every artist will gel with every reader. Comics are very varied, and very personal to the reader. It doesn’t matter if everyone in the world says that “Watchmen” is the best COMMICKING BOOK EVR. If you read it and go, ‘wow, that was utter tripe,’ then good on you. Try something else.
That being said, I’m going to try to do a couple of these, with recs for a couple of different categories. First up, because I think it’s what most people are looking for: Modern Marvel Superhero comics!
Taking a few minutes off from doing my thesis just to put down some of my thoughts on last night’s episode. I don’t know what the general reaction has been to MotOE (I’ve managed to avoid spoilers here on Tumblr, since we only get torrents and stream links of Doctor Who episodes on Sunday mornings), but frankly, I don’t care. I loved it.
For one, I really like the whole tribute to the Agatha Christie/whodunit genre. I’m a fan of the old Poirot series starring David Suchet (I even spent one whole summer binge-watching the series from its very first season), and it was lovely to see the whole Art Deco/Jazz Age era come to life in a space train. The costumes were fabulous – Peter Capaldi looking extremely smooth and dapper and absolutely handsome in a tuxedo with a ribbon tie, and Jenna Coleman looking every inch a 1920s vixen with her bobbed hair and glittery flapper girl dress, and that plunging neckline that was an outward sign of how un-G-rated this episode (or for that matter, this show) really is underneath it all.
But okay, I’ll just say it: this is all about Whouffaldi (or Twelve x Clara, whichever you prefer). I never outright shipped them, maybe because when Danny Pink first showed up I actually thought he and Clara would be cute together. I was also never on board with Whouffle or Souffez, mainly because the writing back in Series 7 felt a bit too forced, and the chemistry between Eleven and Clara just didn’t work well enough for me. But my God, when Twelve showed up and then the writers decided to bring the show to a darker, less rainbows-and-happy-endings sort of turn, I figured that with the character development that has been going on in Series 8 so far, as well as with how relationship-centered the series has been, all the no flirty-wirty disclaimers the producers gave at the onset of the series was all, well, bullshit.
Even The Guardian recognizes how much chemistry Twelve and Clara have:
This dripped with so much sexual tension you could make a compelling case for the DVD getting a 12A certificate. It was the Doctor and Clara’s last hurrah, him tuxed up, her in a cocktail dress, both completely impervious to what was appropriate. Clara has decided she’s had enough, and god, are they dragging it out, all loaded moments and unsaid truths. Those forlorn stares and stolen glances are not those of a man with paternal intentions. This was Romancing the Stone. It was Moonlighting. It may have just been a nod to the genre, but nobody even try to deny it – this was hot.
And yes, I agree. This was the sexiest episode of Doctor Who in a long time. Because how could it not be? It was supposed to be their last journey together, their “last hurrah”. It had break-up sex written all over it. From the moment they stepped into the main carriage of the Orient Express, with the two of them recognizing that this may be the last time they would do this ever again, it was as though kerosene was poured all over the spark that was only being hinted at in previous episodes. The way he looked at her as they sat together, looking out towards the stars; the way her voice would shake ever so slightly and how she told him that she couldn’t hate him; that conversation in the dark corridor, his voice low and full of unsaid things when she realized that she may never see him again; the way they clinked their glasses together with lingering looks at each other (and cue saxophone-filled sexy jazz background music). If this weren’t a kids’ show I would have expected them to have started grabbing at each other and pushing themselves into the nearest room to fuck each other’s brains out. Then there was that scene in the Tardis, when Clara’s on the phone with Danny and she says “I love you” to him but she’s staring at the Doctor. We don’t actually see her at that particular moment, but the camera focuses on the Doctor’s face and his reaction when he hears her say it. I don’t know but I think this was all very deliberate. The writers know what they’re doing, they have a very specific plan for these two. But of course, as with every companion in New Who (especially those that the Doctor becomes extremely emotionally invested in), this isn’t going to end well.
The naysayers (admittedly, I was one of them at the beginning, but who am I kidding) deny that there’s anything even remotely romantic between Twelve and Clara, and granted, it might just be some platonic kind of love between them. But from the way past episodes and this one have been written, I personally don’t think it’s as simple as that. The fact that other characters and even Danny keep bringing up the Doctor’s and Clara’s relationship shows that there really is something there, something that everyone else could sense, but that the two of them either willfully turn a blind eye to. Considering that it’s been established in the past series that Clara fancied Eleven, and that more recently, the Doctor acknowledged that he made the mistake of thinking he was Clara’s boyfriend, then obviously, obviously, you can’t just resolve that by doing away with everything at the drop of a hat. With the more realistic way the relationships and characters have been progressing, it’s highly improbable that he’s simply her Space Dad. Nope, I’m not buying that.
I really admire the producers (yes, okay, Moffat, fine, you’re doing a much better job now) and writers for taking the risk and going with a whole different direction with the show. If they really are deliberately developing something with the complexity of the relationships involved and the more full-dimensioned characterizations of the Doctor and Clara, then I’m all for it. I like how daring Doctor Who has become, after all the (I’m sorry to say) feel-good tripe that lost its charm once the Ponds left the picture, and I’d honestly love to see them come up with more morally ambiguous plots and maybe even a May-December kind of relationship (romantic or not, whatever, I don’t care) that doesn’t come off as a Nabokovian kind of creepy. It’s delightfully intriguing, and I hope they don’t revert to safer storylines anytime soon.