Archive for the politics Category

Life With Archie: The Bravest Comic On The Stands?

Posted in book review, brilliance, comic books, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2013 by vagabondsaint

AUTHOR’S NOTE: When I posted my last entry (Unhappy Trails:  A Farewell To “Scalped”, 12/13/12), I also had this entry in mind and had, in fact, planned to write it that night.  However, by the time I finished that entry, it was 4 AM, I was tired, and decided instead to write this article the next day.  That next day, I didn’t wake up until after noon Pacific Time.  As a matter of habit, one of the first things I do after waking up is read online news, and after reading of the events of December 14, 2012, I decided to delay this post. I think it’s been long enough now.

I’m going to go ahead and say this:  Life With Archie is the bravest comic book on the stands today.

Why, you ask?

Because they’re not afraid to take a stand on issues.

Take, for example, marriage equality.  (I don’t call it “gay marriage” because that implies an explicit difference between “straight marriage” and other types of marriage, and since all marriage is two people that love each other making a public, legal commitment to each other, I see no need for the distinction.)

Gay characters are not new to comics.  Underground comics have had homosexual acts and characters depicted since the late ’60s. . .but of course, that’s the underground stuff, and who pays attention to that?  Mainstream comics publishers largely ignored homosexual characters until the 1980s, when DC published their first obviously gay character, Extrano (“strange” in Spanish) for the mercifully short-lived series The New Guardians in 1987.  The biggest reveal, however, was that Marvel’s character Northstar, longtime member of the Canadian super-team Alpha Flight, was gay (because he’s already French-Canadian, so why not make him gay?), though his creator revealed later that he was supposed to have been gay from his first appearance in 1979 but wasn’t due to an anti-gay character policy at Marvel Comics.

After that, gay and bisexual characters fell out of the woodwork.  The Authority’s  Apollo and Midnighter were the world’s finest gay couple; Gotham City detective Renee Montoya, a major supporting Batman character, was outed as a lesbian by Two-Face; John Constantine of Hellblazer was revealed to be bisexual (though he mostly sleeps with women and is married to a woman);  Hulkling and Wiccan of The Young Avengers were a gay couple; the new Batwoman is a lesbian; and in revising their entire universe, DC Comics made Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth-Two  gay (sorry, Jade and Obsidian, the guy who was your dad pre-revision is now gay, so I guess you won’t be coming back for the New 52). . .the list goes on and on.  By 2010, you wouldn’t think a gay character would make news anymore.

But it did, when Archie Comics, long thought of as the most traditional, wholesome, conservative, “safe” comics company out there, introduced an openly gay character named Kevin Keller in Veronica #202.  It made news worldwide that gay had finally come to Riverdale, and at that point, it was a surprising move but not exactly a groundbreaking one.

Until February 2012, when, in the pages of Life With Archie, Kevin Keller married his boyfriend, Dr. Clay Walker.  Gay kissing was still new to comics then; longtime homosexual Northstar had just finally kissed his boyfriend on-panel the year before (after almost 20 years of being out of the closet); although The Midnighter and Apollo had been shown kissing before then, Neil Gaiman had been exploring gay and transgender themes in Sandman, and John Constantine had been in several homosexual sex scenes, they weren’t as mainstream and being written by mostly British writers besides.  At that point, marriage equality was only the law of the land in six states and the District of Columbia, with many many more states having laws on the books specifically preventing same-sex couple from getting married, so it was a pretty bold move for “traditional, wholesome” Archie Comics to make at the time.

Just to add a little more controversy to Kevin and Clay, their story was that they met in the military, when Kevin was injured fighting in Iraq and Dr. Walker had been his medic. . .and this was just after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Archie Comics wasted no time jumping on that subject, and the issue containing the wedding (#16, if you want it; it sells for $20-$40 now) of Keller and Walker became one of Archie Comics’ fastest-selling issues of all time (which is no mean feat, considering they’ve been going for over 70 years).

But that’s not why I call Life With Archie the bravest book on the stands.

(SPOILERS FOLLOW.)

In issue #22 of Life With Archie, Clay Walker is shot while attempting to prevent a robbery. (Had to be the black guy, didn’t it, Archie Comics?) Luckily, he survives the shooting and the would-be robber is captured after being clocked with a hammer by the store’s owner.

In issue #24, Kevin discovers that the unnamed shooter was a previously-convicted felon who bought the gun from a licensed dealer through a “loophole” (it’s later stated that he’s talking about the gun show loophole).  Kevin then rattles off a few statistics (“gun-related homicides are more than twenty times higher than in other developed nations”) and announces he is retiring from the Army to do something about it. . .and his “something” is. . .

Wait for it. . .

Kevin Keller decides to run for the US Senate on a gun-control platform!

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) just proved in November that an openly-gay candidate can win a Senate race; she became our first openly-gay US Senator and was sworn in on Thursday, January 3, 2013.  So you could say the precedent has been broken. . .except that #24 came out in November and was solicited three months earlier (as all comics are), so the story was written before her election, when she was still running a very tight race against Tommy “I’m gonna kill me some Medicare” Thompson.  (It’s worth noting that Tammy Baldwin still can’t legally marry in her home state, though she can have her same-sex marriage from another state recognized in Wisconsin as a “domestic partnership,” so Kevin Keller’s still got one up on her.)

In issue #25, Kevin expounds more upon his gun-control views, states a strong view that the Second Amendment pertains to the right to bear arms for “a well-regulated militia” and asks “why do we need an estimated 200 million guns in the hands of this country’s 300 million citizens?”  (His number is actually quite low; the 2007 estimates are 88.1 guns for every 100 US citizen,which comes out to about 274 million guns in this country, a figure that has no doubt gone up, since there were massive spikes in gun sales every time a black guy got elected President.)

Now, I am sure that some of you are saying that it’s not such a big deal to jump on the gun-control bandwagon now, after what happened in Newtown.  You’d be right; that terrible tragedy has changed a lot of views on gun control for many people, as it and numerous other tragedies before it should have done.

And I’d agree if it wasn’t that Life With Archie #24 came out in November 2012, and #25 hit the stands (and my greedy little palms) on Wednesday, December 12, 2012. . .two days before Newtown.

And that’s why I call Life With Archie the bravest comic book on the stands today:  it took on marriage equality before the 2012 electoral sweep that nearly doubled the number of states with legalized marriage equality with a firm, unmistakable statement of support; it took a strong pro-gun-control stance before the tragedy that catapulted gun control back into the national conversation; and it’s poised to do even more with Betty-and-Veronica rival Cheryl Blossom having been ravaged by breast cancer and now starting up her own foundation to fight breast cancer.

I never thought I’d say this, but here it is:  I wish Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image Comics, and IDW had half the intestinal fortitude that Archie Comics does when it comes to addressing relevant social issues.

Life With Archie: the best-written and bravest comic book on the stands today.  Go read it, it’s brilliant.

VS – 1.6.13

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What I Do When I’m Busy Not Writing New Posts As Regularly As I Should Be

Posted in comic books, politics, randoma with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by vagabondsaint

Just a few of the sites I peruse and other activities I engage in when I’m not writing as many blog posts as I should:

1.  Huffington Post – left-leaning news blog. Funny, tragic, amusing; it’s where I get my news and such.  Okay, really I just have a massive intellect-and-accent crush on Arianna Huffington, but don’t tell her.  I want it to be a surprise.

2.  Comics Alliance – stuff about comic books and related media presented with wit, way deeper research than I could ever be arsed to do, and a smattering  of wisdom.

3.  HollaBack DC! – a blog for women in the DC area to report incidents of sexual harassment and verbal or physical assaults.  I’m seriously considering trying to start a HollaBack Seattle, if one doesn’t already exist. (UPDATE:  It did exist.  The HollaBack Seattle page states that the site moved to HollaBack PNW [Pacific Northwest] in 2006 and the link to that site doesn’t work.  The Seattle page is worth browsing, if only because it includes the phrase “spirit of the hollaback”.)

4.  Cracked.com – Seriously, Cracked makes me laugh until I pee.  And I am pretty sure that I am one of the no-more-than-30 people that bought both copies of their print relaunch a few years ago.

5.  Playing Soul Calibur 3 – This is just for story research, I swear.  Trust me.

6.  Ex Machina – I just started reading the trades, since the series is about to come to an end and I won’t be buying the trades forever.  It’s pretty damn good; the story of the world’s first and (to that point) only super-hero deciding that he could do much more good if he became mayor of his hometown, which is (of course) NYC, because nothing exciting or unusual or unique ever happens anywhere else but NYC, and it’s the only place in the world that anyone could have a power-granting accident, and certainly NYC is not the most overused city in comics, movie, TV, and books absolutely fucking ever.  Other than that, it’s a pretty good story of a hero trying to deal with real-world problems.

7.  Learning to play bass, learning Japanese, sleeping, eating, caring for daughter, self-improvement, missing a special lady, oh yeah, and WORK – just minor stuff, really.

So yeah.  When you don’t see new posts from me, that’s what I’ve been doing.  Aren’t you glad you know now?

VS – 6.16.10

Redirect

Posted in comic books, humour, politics with tags , , , , , , on December 14, 2009 by vagabondsaint

I originally started this blog with the intent of writing about two of my greatest loves:  comic books and video games.  Yes, I am both a fanboy and a gamer, and this blog, this politics/current events blog, where was I was going to share my (dubious) wisdom on both topics with adoring audiences.  It must be noted that this was my second attempt at doing so, after my initial attempt to start an online community of like-minded fanboys and gamers failed miserably, for some reason.

I honestly have no idea why this didn't work out.

Then along came the exciting, history-making, panties-dampening excitement of the 2008 election cycle, and I got swept right up into it, so this blog became about that.

And now?

Now I’m just sick of politics.  It’s revolting, it’s disgusting, it’s horrible. . .and that’s just Joe Lieberman.  To make it even worse, it’s addictive:  try to quit it and you’ll go through severe, traumatic withdrawals.

So, this blog and I are taking a break from politics.  Time to go back to my original escapes from reality, comic books and video games.  I need to have fun for a while, remind myself that political machinations are not the entirety of society.

So, next post, video games and comic books!

VS – 12.14.09

Death Is Unfair

Posted in media failure, politics, randoma with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Death is ridiculously unfair.  To some, death is the act of a kind, loving God, seeking to bring home his favoured soul when their time on earth was done, their divine mission fulfilled; to others, death is just the random end of life.  Either way, it’s unfair.

Don’t believe me?  See my examples (and please note I am not calling for the deaths of any of these people; I’m just saying that Death could have made better choices):

Senator Ted "Health Care Reform Is My Life's Work" Kennedy: Dead

Senator Joe "Shut Up And Die, Poor People" Lieberman: Alive

Death is unfair.

George "Brilliant Comedian" Carlin: Dead

Dane "The Actually Funny Guy Is Above Me" Cook: Alive

Death is unfair.

Edward R. "Good Night, And Good Luck" Murrow: Dead and still smokin'!

Sean "Good Night, And You're Fucked Because Obama Is A Socialist Who Wants To Take Your Guns And Your Health Care And Sleep With All The White Women" Hannity: Alive, damn it

Death Is SUPER Unfair. It really is.

William F. "Best Man In The Republican Party" Buckley: Dead

Ann "Best-Looking Man In The Republican Party" Coulter: Alive

Death is really f***ing unfair, and also really really hates the living.

I’m just saying, death is unfair.

VS – 12.15.09

Why Superheroes Have Secret Identities

Posted in comic books, legal system, politics, rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2009 by vagabondsaint

So why do superheroes have secret identities?

Because no good deed goes unpunished.

You’d think, that in this time of deep recession, social strife, and political infighting leaving the American people largely bereft of inspiration and leadership, that those brave few willing to stand up to the worst elements of our society would be recognized as such as rewarded for their efforts, right?

Like Jim Nicholson, the Seattle bank teller who, at the end of July of this year, responded to a bank robber by lunging at him, demanding the robber produce a weapon if he had one, and then chasing the unarmed would-be robber out of the bank and restraining him until police arrived.  He helped apprehend a bank robber who could have committed more crimes had he not been stopped, and saved the money of hard-working bank customers, right?*  Of course he did, and as it turned out, the vagrant robber had a long history of theft and burglary charges; he could have used the ill-gotten loot to buy himself a gun and become really dangerous!

As a reward for his heroism, Nicholson received the coveted You Don’t Work Here Anymore Pink Slip Award.

Key Bank declined to comment on the firing.  However, Seattle police and an FBI special agent agreed that the proper course would have been to simply give the robber what he wanted and be a “good witness.”   That’s the safe way to do it, and that, as I understand, is the bank’s policy as well.  But did Nicholson deserve to lose his job for standing up to a robber?

Before you answer that, let’s look at the case of Josh Rutner, an Ocala (Florida) “loss prevention officer” (or “asset protection officer;” the article call him both titles and, really, they both mean “dude what stops shit from gettin’ stole”) at the local Wal-Mart.  Since it’s his job to stop unpaid-for merchandise from leaving the store, he says (and I agree) that he was “just doing his job” when he restrained a shoplifter.  But then things got serious: the shoplifter pulled a knife, slashed at Rutner’s face, and ran away.

Now, most of us would have our self-preservation instincts kick in at this point, and we’d just let the guy run his happy ass away and become someone else’s problem.  Not Josh Rutner.  Josh Rutner gave chase, thinking, as he says, that the man was a danger to the public and the city that needed to be stopped right then and there.  With the aid of a customer, Rutner apprehended and restrained the shoplifter until the police arrived.

The next day, Rutner was fired.  In addition, the customer was banned from ever shopping at any Wal-Mart in the US ever again.  Okay, I’m kidding about the second part.  But seriously, Rutner did get his ass canned the very next day.

The same reasons were given as Mr. Nicholson above:  it’s not policy to give chase or interfere.  Despite Rutner’s job specifically being preventing losses, his attempts to do that very thing got him fired. . .because he gave chase to an armed suspect, which store policy prohibits.  Never mind that he kept an armed person with no fear of, and a demonstrated armed resistance to, law enforcement from reaching the streets and maybe harming someone else somewhere else.  If this had been a comic book, he wouldn’t have stopped the guy; instead, he would have let the guy go and the guy would later kill Rutner’s kindly old Uncle Ben, resulting in Rutner becoming the hero known as the Amazing Rutner-Man.  I should really stop writing these when I’m sleepy.

So why do superheroes have secret identities?

Because no good deed goes unpunished.

Clark Kent wants to keep his job.  Bruce Wayne, God rest his soul, didn’t want to get kicked out of the Wayne Foundation by cowardly, superstitious shareholders.  Peter Parker wants to keep taking pictures for a living (or keep teaching science, whatever the hell he’s doing nowadays).  I could go on, but really, the majority of you wouldn’t know who I was talking about anyway, so I’ll put my geekiness away now.

Point is, in a society in which criminals do not fear the law and depend on no one else standing up to them, we’ve put in place “policies” and “corporate rules” to make sure that no one does.

Maybe criminals, like politicians, need to remember to fear the people. . .

VS – 11.8.09

P.S.  I am not by any means saying that I want people to go out and become vigilantes, or take stupid chances fighting off criminals.  I am saying that those of us who do stand up to crooks of all collar colours should be rewarded, not punished.  So if you become Captain Long-johns and go fight crime in Hoboken, whatever happens to you is totally not my fault.

A Great Voice From The Greatest Generation

Posted in brilliance, politics with tags , , , , , , on October 22, 2009 by vagabondsaint

For those of you that don’t know, a battle has erupted in Maine.  The state legalized gay marriage earlier this year, and immediately, one of those reactionary, backwards, right-wing organizations of insecure people who somehow feel their rights are threatened when other people are given the same rights started a ballot initiative to overturn the legalization of gay marriage in Maine.  This has turned into a huge campaign, with the same backers as the people that supported Proposition 8 last year in California. Hell, they didn’t even bother to change commercial scripts. (Why pay the writers twice for the same message?  It makes financial sense, at least.)

I am, in fact, a supporter of gay marriage.  I could make an impassioned plea on behalf of gay friends and relatives about justice and equality.  Instead, I’ll let Philip Spooner, a decorated World War II veteran and lifelong Republican, make a better case than I ever could.

I salute you, Mr. Spooner.

VS – 10/22/09

P.S.  An interesting aside:  over the weekend, I overheard a Mormon friend explaining how her babysitter quit because of the church’s support of Proposition 8.  Her defense?  “The Mormon Church wasn’t the biggest supporter, nor did it put in the most money.”  She either didn’t hear me or ignored me when I said “But it was a supporter.”  To me, her argument was like saying, “Well, I wasn’t the highest-ranking klansman, I wasn’t the most muscular klansman, and I wasn’t the richest klansman. . .but I helped keep minorities down anyway.”  Then again, she had already offended me not ten minutes earlier, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by anything else ignorant coming from her. . .not that I’ll hear it, because that friendship is pretty much over.

Quick Shots

Posted in brilliance, economics, legal system, politics, randoma, reproductive health, the complete opposite of brilliance, war with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by vagabondsaint

Some insight into my blog-writing process:  every day, I read the Huffington Post, New York Times, and various other internet news sources looking for interesting things to write about.  Once I find something, I bookmark it in a folder called “blog ideas,” to look into later or do more research about – or totally ignore.  Of the things that I find, maybe 20% of them actually do get written about here; for others, I lose interest, the moment’s urgency passes, I just don’t have enough to say on the topic to justify a full entry, or I just never get around to the actual writing part. (I do have a life, and it sometimes gets in the way.)  Sometimes I just don’t know what to say.

Now that my list has grown way too bloody long, I’ve decided to share some of the things I didn’t write about before.  However, since there are so many, I’ll have to limit my comments on each item to just one or two lines and let you read the links.

Basically, this is my bookmark clearing-house.  Ready, set. . .go!

1. Missouri coffee drinkers share the hot, steaming cup of love!

2. Smarter than the average bear?  Maybe.  Smarter than a top-of-the-line bear-proof canister? Definitely!

3. When this guy says he’s “gotta see a man about a horse,” call the police.

4. You know the real estate market is rough when people get violent over Monopoly properties. . .

5. It’s not just Alaska’s problem:  rape victims in many places often have to foot the bill for examinations and rape kits.

6. Something to keep in mind next time you call someone a slut. . .or are called one yourself.

7. When you’re tripping balls, every bush is on fire and can talk – so was Moses just high?

8. Conservative think-tank (they can think?) Heritage Foundation calls a bill pushing for harsher child-rape penalties “overcriminalization.” People, I beg you, do not trust Republicans around your children.

9.  Yes, Dear Canada, America is, in fact, on crack.

10. The Chinese have better political sensibilities than we do; they trust sex workers more than politicians.

11. Proof that God has a sense of humour: A British actor in a swine flu prevention commercial came down with – wait for it – swine flu.

12. What you’ve always suspected is true:  your brain really is working against you. As is the CIA.

13. If you only click one of these links, for the love of all that’s good and holy, make it this one about how and why conservative are always wrong. . .with historical evidence to back it up.  Brilliant!

14. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and the Photoshop of the photo editor.

15. I don’t know how to fix the obesity problem in this country, but I’m pretty sure that this is the wrong tactic.

16. Looks like freedom of speech only goes so far. . .

17. Why is John McCain the only Republican willing to stand up to conservative nutjobs? There’s gotta be more somewhere. . .

18. When a machete- and gun-wielding convicted killer gets better health care than his surviving victim, something is well and truly fucked up in this country.

19. Who’s really out to kill Grandma? It ain’t who you’d think.

20. “In recognition of your service to this country, we’re going to take away your child custody rights. Thank you!”

21. Welcome to Tennessee, where you can carry guns in bars, parks, and – wait a second, maybe not so much the parks.

22. “‘Round these here parts, you start wavin’ a picture of  Obama with a Hitler ‘stache, you can ‘spect a asswhuppin from an old Armenian man, and that’s how it should be.”

23. If you’re in a POW camp, Monopoly is a great, fun way to pass the time – or, you know, help you break out.

24. So, that high-tech phone you’ve got?  Chances are, if it gets stolen, its makers would rather force you to buy a new one than help you get it back.  The bastards.

25. Last but certainly not least, some sexual assault prevention tips that are guaranteed to work!

Whew!

VS – 09.22.09