Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes: The New Teen Titans

And now for another exciting installment of DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes. Today the spotlight is shining on a new favorite of mine, The New Teen Titans. Many things drew me to this motley crew of heroic youth, my love of junior super heroes, being a fan of the cartoon during my preteen days (watching it today I find I enjoy it less) and this specific series has been recommended to me by several friends as a good place to start with DC. I started at public library where I was able to locate a TPB copy of the story, The Terror of Trigon, I really enjoyed it, it reminded me a lot of 80's X-men, both the story and art were solid. I then found out that in the 80's Marvel and DC did did a crossover comic featuring both the Titans and the X-men (the X-men being my favorite comic book franchise of all time) and I immediately hunted down a copy of it on the internet. From there on I was hooked, (I even own a Teen Titans Pint glass now) before I left for Americorps I bought the New Titans Omnibus Vol.1 from my local comic book store and have been reading it ever since. (it's a massive 660 something pages so it's been taking a little while.) Titans not pictured here are Robin and Starfire (both of whom have appeared in my previous DCCM entries) For the most part I find Changeling to be fairly annoying, which is part of the reason Donna Troy is quickly becoming my favorite character for her refusal to take any crap from him. (Though I wish she wasn't dating that Terri Long guy, there's something about him I find just down right creepy. I'm also very intrigued by Raven's character, she has both a very interesting origin story and power set. It's a shame that most of the characters from this series will not be featured in any of the new 52 titles at this time.

Flash Fact: Drinking a chocolate milk shake with super speed will give you a major brain freeze, poor Kid Flash.

Shopping for and Feeding 20 People

I recently did some grocery shopping and meal planning with my team members and leader. I was a little more involved this time with the whole meal planning process than with my last team. (basically anytime I had to cook, I made my homemade Mac and Cheese, which mind you, is good, but got old after a while.) This time it was up to me and fellow Ohioan and teammate Becky to shop for all the ingredients for the multiple dinners. This was no easy task, we had to stick to a strict budget (something I should do more often) and we had to figure out what was the best deal for our dollar. I've come to the conclusion that grocery shopping, especially for large groups of people is very frustrating, but also very rewarding. (Aside from getting food out of it there was a rather wonderful feeling of satisfaction when we managed to get all of our needed groceries while staying under budget.) Becky and I bought ourselves a massive tub of ice cream in celebration of our superior budget shopping (on our own dime).
The real trial, however, came monday when myself and two of my other teammates were challenged with the task of cooking one of the dinners for the two teams. (our own and Green 4) With our powers combined the we made three Lasagnas and they were tasty. This was a bit of a milestone for me, Aside from my mac and cheese I have never really made a successful meal for people before. (successful being that it actually tastes good and people don't complain about it.) I had tried to make Lasagna before for my last team but it did not go well... at all. This time however (with help) I have concord the staple of Italian cuisine that had once evaded me and my efforts were recognized, WITH PRAISE! (I enjoy praise :3)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

NCCC Physical Training (PT)

Yesterday morning (the very early morning) we had our first day of the intense workout known as PT (Physical Training) to NCCCers. Our first PT was our baselines, tests of endurance that would help us determine our current level of physical fitness, where we need to improve, and help put us in groups of people who are in about the same shape as ourselves. The tests in our baselines included Push ups, sit ups, a sit and reach, and a mile and a half run. Having done all of these tests (with the exception of the sit and reach) during my previous Americorps term I'm afraid to say that I have since regressed in physical endurance. I'm going to blame it on the fact that since my last corps year, I haven't really kept up on the PT. I will say this however, the step back has really motivated me to take a huge step forward and really take exercising a lot more seriously this time around, I'm making it a personal goal of mine to not only beat my current record, but also the one that I finished with last time. So that means that before the end of this year I'm going to have to run a mile and a half in under 9 minutes ( I'm currently at 15 minutes and was at 9) and I have to be able to do at least 35 of both push ups and sit ups. I'm going to make this happen, DETERMINATION!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Meetings Doodles

As every NCCC member knows very well, the first several weeks of the term consists of nothing but trainings and meetings. In an effort to to stay awake to through these meetings my team often doodles (while paying attention) during these meetings. We even have a doodle board in the dorms where we hang our creations. drew the following pictures during yesterday's meetings. I'm not quite sure how the punk rock angel chick ended up naked but it kinda just happened I kinda just drew these on the spot, not much thought put into either. I defenently tend to draw more women than men, I find them easier and over all more fun to draw.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Arriving In California, First Photoshop drawing

Yesterday I safely arrived in Sunny Sacramento California to begin me second AmeriCorps NCCC Corps year. The count down was pretty sucktastic, sorry, I had a cold for most of the days leading up to my departure and not in any condition to blog about it. So This image here, is a bit of a milestone for me, it's the first digitally colored art of mine that I've done without paint and with Photoshop! I'm for the most part self teaching myself how to use this program, with plenty of helpful tips from friends and family, and I'm sure I've done some of this stuff wrong, but I'll learn more as I go. The inspiration for this picture comes from the video for this song that a friend of mine put on facebook that I had stuck in my head for the longest time. (the video has a bunch of rollerskating girls.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes: The Controversy of Starfire

As I mentioned in my last post I was going to be spending some time talking about Red Hood and the Outlaws this time around, because there's a lot that needs to be said about it (a lot of which that has already been said by the fine people at Comics Alliance and various other places of the internet but they're not me so I'm going to give you my two cents.) During the third week of the DC reboots Red Hood and the Outlaws and Catwoman both got some pretty big backlash from the fans after the very sexualized depictions of the female characters Catwoman and Starfire. Now, I didn't read Catwoman, frankly the character has always danced on a fine line that teetered on S&M (even before Halley Berry) but I did however have the displeasure of reading Red Hood and the Outlaws and I was just appalled by it.

I'm someone who believes sex has it's place in comics, (I happen to quite fond of Emma Frost after all) but this new depiction of Starfire as this wears next to nothing will have meaningless sex with anybody is a total 180 from the previously established fan favorite of The New Teen Titans. Mind you, Starfire has always been a bit promiscuous, wearing skimpy costumes and quick to get Dick (Grayson) in bed but what made it different then, what makes all sex in comics different, was that it wasn't void of all emotion or reason. The old Starfire (from my understanding of the New Teen Titans comics that I read pre reboot) was a character who's actions are driven mainly by her emotions but here she's just a cold hard sexbot looking for dick (not Grayson)
And here's the thing DC, it doesn't even have to be emotional Sex, it just has to have a reason. Take Daken: Dark Wolverine for example; Daken, the son of Wolverine (long story) with pheromone manipulation being one of his powers will on a regular basis will have sex with Woman and Men for personal gain, gathering information, getting closer to the enemy, whatever it takes to reach his target and achieve his goals. Is it without emotions, sure but is it with reason, you bet it is, where as this thing with Starfire just feels completely unnatural and put in there solely for the purpose of having edgy sex in a comic.

With this reboot DC is trying to bring in new readers into comics but they fail to realize just how damaging this is to achieve that. Take people my age, there is a whole generation of people in my age group who grew up while the Teen Titans animated TV show was on and have fond memories of it, and surprise, that show had a very emotionally driven Starfire. Now imagine one of those kids, now in their late teens to early 20's picking up that first issue of Red Hood because of their fond memories of that show. This isn't the character they grew up with that they love!

I'm not going to get into what's wrong with the art for this issue with Starfire because that's not a new issue, but this single comic has gotten a lot of attention on the internet for various reasons, so much so that DC has made a statement on their official Twitter account saying;

"We've heard what's being said about Starfire today and we appreciate the dialogue on this topic. We encourage people to pay attention to the ratings when picking out any books to read themselves or for their children."

Now this response of theirs is more than likely referring to the blog post by a mother about the reaction of her 7 year old daughter to the new Starfire (which you can read here ) But DC has addressed the problem without actually addressing the problem. These are grown men and women who have a problem with how this character is now being depicted! Just because I comic has the potential to have racier material doesn't mean people are going to like it when it's done in the most absurd way possible. And for the record, the rating that DC gave for Red Hood and the Outlaws is "T" as in Teens, that can range anywhere between 13 to 19, not terribly appropriate if you ask me, cause that's what America's youth needs, to know just how cool and bad ass it is to have meaningless sex with women who can't remember their past. Though to be fair it appears that it's not just Women that DC are objectifying with this comic just look at this portion of the cover of Red Hood #2.

As funny and awkward looking as that is I give this comic less than a year before cancellation.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Count Down to NCCC Class 18: 2 Days: DC Comics and Chocolate Milkshakes

(Note: Chocolate Milkshakes and DC Comics is the name of a song by the band Art Brut, which has served as the inspiration for this coming series of illustrations.)

So all my life of reading comics I have been primarily a marvel man with the X-Men being my main go to family of comics. As I got older I branched out a little more, read more manga, (though I had been doing that for a while too.) read some indie stuff, but for the longest time, with the exception of some Vertigo Titles, most of which were not part of main DC continuity I had refused to even touch a DC comic. Why? most of the reasons very stupid, especially since most of the comics that I got from my dad's collection when I was little were old DC books and a lot of the comics I got at the time were also DC (Young Justice, Green Lantern, ect.) and on top of that I loved the 90's Batman cartoon, but aside from brand loyalty to Marvel (like I said stupid reasons) my main reason for avoiding DC all the way up into adult(ish)hood was that for new readers DC continuity seemed almost impossible to figure out. Between all of the Crises, reboots to previous continuity, Superboy Prime literally the foundations of reality (one of my co-workers had to explain to me what the #$%* a Superboy Prime was and now that I get it it's actually pretty funny) no point just seemed like a good jumping in point, and I sure that people who read DC their whole lives could say the same thing about Marvel.

It wasn't all that long ago when DC announced what they dubbed "The New 52" their wide line reboot of their entire universe making it more friendly to new readers and old fans alike. I thought, "Hey now's the perfect chance okay DC you have caught my interest." My co-workers, all of whom that read comics, were pretty loyal DC fans had some mix feelings about this reboot, I didn't want to go into it not knowing what it's replacing so I got some recondmendations from them for some good DC reads. So I read a lot of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern, The New Teen Titans, Gail Simone's Wonder Woman and her Birds of Prey, as well as the most recent incarnation of Batgirl pre reboot, and I got to say I liked all of it quite a bit. I felt more then confident going into this reboot.

So now that all 52 of the first issues are out what's the verdict? Well, it's a bit of a toss up. Out of the 15 or so of the 52 comics that I bought I liked most of them, and that was me buying more than I had originally intended to buy. Some comics that were surprise hits for me were Superboy and Supergirl, I'm not really a huge fan of the Super-family especially The Man of Steel himself but the way that these two characters have been characterized in their respected series as of this first issue have made them their own distinct characters separate from the one they share their name and S insignia with. Comics I was really expecting greatness from and had my expectations (with the exception of a few which I'll get to in a little bit) met, were in the Batman family, in particular Batwoman, Batman and Robin, and just plain old Batman. Other titles that I really enjoyed were Aquaman, The Flash, and some books that show great promise include Green Lantern New Guardians, Teen Titans, and Birds of Prey.

Now some of the other were disappointing and one that I read was just plain awful. Justice League, the first of the 52 to be released on midnight of August 31st was, although very pretty and had some interesting set up didn't get much accomplished as far as plot goes and was a super quick read, (in all fairness so was Supergirl, but that one left me less unsatisfied) and only introduced four of the eight characters who are going to be a part of the team, all of whom appear on the cover which bugs me when you have characters on the cover that aren't in the comic. Green Lantern number one was also very new reader unfriendly, I had no idea what was going on and I had read all the way up to Blackest Night in pre reboot cannon. As for Batgirl, well that was a bit of a disappointment. A lot of my problems with that one are very nit picky and have to do with the art and some of the dialog I'll get more into that with a more Batgirl focused post, but for now I'm willing to give Gail Simone another issue with this one because I trust her and I know this is a character she cares about.

And then there's Red Hood and the Outlaws, oh man this one, I can't even start here, it's going to have to be it's own post. It has been getting some huge amount of internet press lately for the huge sexist mess that it is and I'll be going more into it with my next post.