Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dragon Age: Origins and Buttsex

I have always loved fantasy. Be it high fantasy a la Tolkien or Lewis, or B-list magic pony fantasy of the Tamora Pierce variety. I also love gaming... so, naturally wherever the two shall meet I'm so there. I was even a fledgling 10 year old D&D dungeon master... before my mother accused me of witchcraft and watched as I burned the manual.

So naturally, I have been chomping at the bit, awaiting the release of Bioware's new dark-fantasy RPG, Dragon Age: Origins. The publisher has a long history of extremely successful RPGs, including Mass Effect and the D&D-inspired Baldur's Gate series (which consumed roughly the entirety of my eighth grade existence).

Demian Linn of bitmod recently posted his spoiler-y run down of the steamy action your character can engage in. Evidently in addition to the standard hetero pairings with NPCs, there's also possibilities for gay, lesbian, and even trans relationships with NPCs.

Demian makes some great observations on the game design and Bioware's approach to sexual inclusivity:

"What you learn about the characters, however, isn't so interesting -- all of your romantic prospects adhere to parochial stereotypes. Both females seem wildly different at first, but are ultimately only interested in monogamous relationships, while the gay male character prefers a no-strings-attached open relationship."

"So what's the point of all this? Good question. Sex is a very difficult game design challenge, no surprise there, and Dragon Age does it right when it incorporates sex directly into the narrative (the aforementioned spoiler I don't want to reveal). But the casual sex, which could be used as a tool to deepen your understanding and empathy for the other characters, tends to reinforce the idea of women as alternately jealous, catty, smothering, and weak-willed (easily taking back a lover that has strayed), while perpetuating the stereotype of the promiscuous gay/bisexual man. I guess what I'm saying is...the sex could be better."

I find it interesting that even inclusive game publishers like Bioware find themselves playing into tired archetypes of sexuality and gender. Gender theorist Donna Haraway (the author of such works as The Cyborg Manifesto) wrote a lot about the exciting possibilities for video games and virtual reality to be spaces in which we are able to rewrite the rules of society as we see fit, i.e. without oppressive sex/gender/sexuality schemas. Granted, while Haraway is the bat-shit crazy bag lady of gender academia, I did resonate with the idea that virtual worlds were one such space in which gender and sexuality lines can be blurred and reformed. But when the creation of these virtual worlds are tied to profits generated by human social interaction, a truly revolutionary schema of gender/sex relationships is inhibited.

Problematic virtual sex schemas aside, I can't wait to get my hands on this game and get myself some hot elf booty. Way to go Bioware and satisfying me and every other fangirl who wrote Aragorn/Legolas slashfics!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SuperQueeros! for October 28th, 2009

Each week we bring you a summary of which new comics are featuring LGBT(etc.) characters! Now, I'm no Kiden Nixon, so I may miss one or two due to time constraints. If you spot an omission, please let me know in the comments section and I'll correct it tout de suite!

Correction from Last Week:
Solicits show that Gen13 #32 is actually out this week. Check last week's SuperQueeros! for a teaser.

X-Factor #50
Ricstar = OTP! Rictor may have been my first superhero crush, but Peter David has my heart now. This is the 50th issue of his groundbreaking series, but never be afraid to pick this book up: David's recaps are the best in the biz! Plus, Shatterstar just displayed some interesting new powers. You know, besides HOT MAN-ON-MAN ACTION. ;)

Detective Comics #858
The Batwoman origin story starts here! If you aren't hip to the newest, coolest lesbian in comics now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. Kate Kane is to the Bat Family as Six is to a Centurion model Cylon: hotter, smarter, more gendered, and the future.

Dark Reign: Young Avengers #5 (of 5)
The Young Masters are about to cement their place as future Marvel supervillains. But first, a huge fight! If the cover isn't hint enough, this issue is going to end with pain and rubble, both physical and emotional. Plus, did Wiccan and Enchantress... shift his Kinsey score? The answer is, no doubt, contained within these pages! Plus Teddy!

New Mutants #6
Cypher is back! As a technologically-reanimated zombie! And what's going to happen in Shan's murder storyline? Necrosha starts here!! Or four months ago in Blackest Night #0!!! (But seriously, Karma is awesome)

All this and!!:

Gotham City Sirens #5
Harley was rescued from the clutches of Hush just in time for her own issue! Plus, the cover combines with those for issues 6 and 7 to make a tryptich masterpiece!

Justice Society of America #32
Obsidian is still an egg.

Ianto's Death: Progress for Queer Heroes just posted an article by Polina Skibinskaya entitled Death by "Torchwood": Captain Jack, Ianto Jones, and the Rise of the Queer Superhero. Head on over and read it; the argument it makes is intriguing and empowering, no matter where you fall on the issue of Ianto's death.

I agree with the article, and I'd also like to posit that, due simply to the logistics of arranging multiple interpersonal relationships, the future for fictional queer characters in the media is in bi- or pansexuality. Just look at the characters in books today. Northstar, the oldest strictly-gay hero around may have a boyfriend, but when was the last time he appeared in Uncanny X-men? He must have gained the power of invisibility, because he's still listed on the Wikipedia roster and is nowhere to be seen.

On the flip side, the first gay kiss in Marvel was between a bisexual and an (arguably) pansexual character, and the "convenience-sexual" Daken is starring in his own title. It looks to me like the biggest advances in queer hero representation are being made by those heroes whose sexuality doesn't alienate any part of the audience.

Which isn't to say that I want to give up all same-sex OTPs! "Billy + Teddy 4evah!!", *squee*, etc. But if a gay pairing is threatened by a potential love interest who's female, e.g. Enchantress, I understand that's it's simply a result of equal gender representation comics, not of homophobia.

Of course, by making that concession, I do also expect some Executioner/Patriot action. After all, what's good for the gay is good for the gander.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Scarlet Betch Episode 7: "Avengers Assemble!"

The wait is over! Jason and Anthony are back at it with a new issue of Scarlet Betch! We chat about answers to questions left lingering from last episode, an update on all things Avengers (Mighty, Dark, or otherwise), Rogue and anti-ghost money shots, and much much more!

Again skype gave us some technical difficulties, so bear with us.

Tonight's feature music is Toy Boy from Mika's new album.

Direct Download

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Marvel & Tokidoki: Unholy Awwwwwlliance

A few Christmas seasons ago, my brother and I pitched in to buy our best friend (yes, we shared, and looking back, it's not so surprising that he hasn't called or written since I moved away from home) a set of Marvel Monopoly with the removable labels that let you put whatever character's names you wanted on the properties (we usually put Doom as Boardwalk and Wolverine as one of those crappy purple ones at the beginning). We spent many a subsequent winter evening arguing for half an hour on whether or not Free Parking should come with a prize, another half hour setting the board up, and then, finally, two hours of tedious, joyless gaming that would make Risk look like strip poker. At some point I realized that I really hated Monopoly, and was confused as to why dressing it up in a comic book theme suddenly made it more tolerable.

One day, while bitching to our friend about how tired I was getting of Monopoly, we spotted a Marvel Edition of Guess Who? and must have played that for a week straight before I realized I hated that game, too. Despite my misgivings about Marvel's comics, I simply can't stop myself from buying every piece of Marvel-licensed merchandise I come across and playing with it until the novelty of it wears off and I realize I now own something I loathed in its original form. My life provides no greater example of this than my video game collection. I own every Spider-Man, Avengers, X-Men, etc video game released on NES, SNES, Sega, Playstation and arcade (as soon as I get a real job I intend to get a Dreamcast and Xbox to fill out my collection). I've played all the Marvel: Ultimate Alliances, even the shitty one for the Game Boy Advance. I've even gone to Marvel vs Capcom 2 tournaments, and I can probably tell you what teams I played as and how fast I got my ass beat.

This creates in me a sort of remorse, as I feel bad for saying the things I do about Marvel while shamelessly enjoying their products. I am ultimately no better than all those Marvel fans who hate on the direction of the label but still buy every issue of every comic to justify their hate by claiming it's all part of their loyalty. I took some solace in being able to tell myself that it's all just part of my love of gaming, both board and video, and that as long as I didn't buy things I didn't have an established interest in, like action figures or trading cards, then somehow I'd be less of a hypocrite.

And this happened to fuck up all my plans.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chuck Bass Outed, A Million Teenage Girls Weep, while Slash Fangirls Squee!

I admit it. I watch Gossip Girl. It's a terribly cheesy, melodramatic, poorly written soap opera. But it's so pretty! That, and the show's tone is so borderline camp it's hard to look away. It's my guilty pleasure, but I draw the line at the CW's new 90210 or Melrose Place remakes. I may be a trashy TV viewer, but that's plain skankerific.

Chuck Bass, Gossip Girl's resident lothario, has been heating up the tv screens of America with his unbridled sexual appetite and smoldering stares into the camera. Speculation around Chuck's sexuality has been circulating the interwebs for quite a while. The source material casts Chuck as very decisively bisexual, with his closest romantic relationship with another boy, Greg (who also evidently dated Dan for a while too... /dirty thoughts). While Chuck's endless fan base of tween girl might be opposed to this, the dangling carrot of a Gossip Boy three way has been one of the reasons I keep coming back.

Last night's episode of Gossip Girl featured Chuck and Blaire up to their usual antics. The couple play a game where Chuck hits on an unsuspecting girl and Blaire plays the scorned girlfriend. This episode we saw Blaire set Chuck up with NYU administrator, Joe Ellis. Blaire wants to deliver the highly coveted freshman dinner speech and Joe wants to go all smackaroo with Chuck Bass for some kind of bizarre New York scavenger hunt. While I expected Chuck to be all flirty to play Blaire's game, I didn't expect the big reveal afterward!

Monday, October 19, 2009

SuperQueeros! for October 21st, 2009

Each week we bring you a summary of which new comics are featuring LGBT(etc.) characters! Now, I'm no Kiden Nixon, so I may miss one or two due to time constraints. If you spot an omission, please let me know in the comments section and I'll correct it tout de suite!

This Week in Comics:
Gen 13 #32
Evidently this "World's End" storyline is code for 'Kick the Queers Off the Teams": Even though she's been on the covers, bisexual Native American Sarah "Rainmaker" Rainmaker is MIA from the Gen 13 team. Hopefully that means she's just on walkabout and will come back with secrets, cool new abilities, and a girlfriend. In reality, she's probably just going to be a deus ex machina for a future/the current storyline, but because it's Wildstorm I'll keep my hope alive!

Dark Avengers #10
Norman goes crazy! This is the moment some people have been waiting for! Norman is reaching a tipping point that is going to start a new storyline! And queer sociopath-Wolverine (Dakken) is going to be there for it!

Dark Wolverine #79
And he's going to be here too! In his solo title! Fighting some (other) bad guys! (Clearly I don't know anything about this title. Except that I wouldn't sleep with Dakken. But he would sleep with me, so he gets on the list ;P)

Mighty Avengers #30
This issue has every Avengers team ever. that means Billy and Teddy, but it also means they're only cameo-ing. Since I've given this title TWO WHOLE SEPERATE times to pull me in, and it's failed both times, I'm just gonna wait for the next issue of Dark Reign: Young Avengers. But completists should run, not walk, to their local comic book store!

Joss Whedon + Glee = My Television Exploding with Joy

So news of geeklebrity, Joss Whedon's, upcoming directorial stint on an upcoming episode of Glee have been bopping around the intertubes today.

When did Fox start fulfilling my every hope and desire, instead of beating it with a baseball bat, eviscerating it, and then raping its lifeless corpse (in that precise order). Could Fox soon replace ABC as my primetime network to beat?

ABC: Brothers and Sisters (Scottie! *drool*), Modern Family, Cougar Town (surprisingly funny), Ugly Betty
Fox: Glee, Dollhouse, So You Think You Can Dance.

Tough choice. I think ABC still wins out since SYTYCD is a reality show, and I end up fastforwarding through all the commentary and wind up watching about 25% of the actual content.

With Whedon coming on board with Glee, it begs the question... which beloved character is he going to kill off?!

My money's on Sue or Wheels. Joss has a history of killing off lesbians and plucky male side-kicks.

Scarlet Betch Episode 6: "Shapeshifters are Hot"

The wait is over! Jason and Anthony are back at it again! Unfortunately, over Skype again... but with a decent recording this time! Hoorah!

We chat about Secret Six and Scandal Savage, hot shapeshifters, OTP Destiny/Mystique, the end of Dark Reign, Namor and his speedos, and much much more!

Featured music for this week includes the fantabulous single released by Felicia Day's The Guild, Do You Wanna Date My Avatar? Anything Felicia Day and i'm there.

Direct Download

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Mind Is At DoomWar With Itself

I treat Marvel the same way I treat a Republican friend who blogs; I'll see them at social functions and offer my (unwarranted) opinion on their projects and ideas, and although I might pretend to have read what they've written as a sign of tact and etiquette, the fact is stooping to read their nonsense would only drive me insane with rage, and I don't care how immature admitting that makes me.

I've seen all the movies, played all the video games, and even bought into that Heroclix trend that was all the rage (but quit after someone beat my entire team with just a Nimrod piece. Say what you will about Magic, but that kind of shenanigan wouldn't fly at their tournament). It's a decent product. I simply refuse to read their crossovers.

Because I fell for it once, with Civil War. We were promised an epic story of betrayal and injustice that would tear the Marvel universe apart. Instead we were treated to propaganda dressed in spandex onesies, with each writer having his own political axe to grind onto the readership's face. I don't need comic books to give me the 411 on socio-political issues. I have cable television and an inbox full of junk mail from the Green Party to do that for me.

On top of that, Civil War marked one of the first instances in comic history where the audience was told they had backed the wrong horse. When the majority of readers made it clear that they were taking the side of Captain America's resistance, Marvel went ahead and told us that we were supposed be rooting for Iron Man the whole time. You could read this one of two ways: either 1) Marvel was so embarrassed at their colossal failure that they only way they could save face was to make us look stupid by telling us that we "just didn't get it", or 2) Marvel has become so inept over time that they can no longer establish protagonist and antagonist, which is not only a fundamental element of comic books, but of ALL FICTION. Take your pick. Either way, it will end in tears.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SuperQueeros! for October 14th, 2009

Each week we bring you a summary of which new comics are featuring LGBT(etc.) characters! Now, I'm no Kiden Nixon, so I may miss one or two due to time constraints. If you spot an omission, please let me know in the comments section and I'll correct it tout de suite!

This Week in Comics:
Secret Six #14
It's everyone's favourite wealthy, bereived, cut-throat lesbian verses the symbol of Woman Power herself! This concludes a storyline for the hippest team of villains since The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but don't let that stand in your way. Any book with Vandal and Diana is a “jumping on point!” Plus, if you're into 'roidy muscle daddies, there's Bane!

Uncanny X-Men #516
This issue is all about Magneto coming to butt his way back into the lives of the X-Men. He's got a right, given that the team is squatting on his rock ex-HQ, but it may mean minimal action for the resident queers, Karma and Northstar.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Scarlet Betch Episode 5: "Magic equals Lesbianism equals Meth"

The wait is over! Scarlet Betch's new episode is finally here! Jason and Anthony chat about the newest issue of Buffy Season 8, geek theatre in New York, there's something about psychics, colonialism in Wonder Woman, and much much more!

Featured music for this week is the indelible Swedish pop-farce group, PayTV and their "hit" single Refrain Refrain.

Also check out the link to Icelandic comedian/"international superstar" Silvia Night's hilarious Eurovision entry Congratulations (I Have Arrived).

Direct Download

hex ya later,

scarlet betches

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

SuperQueeros! for October 7th, 2009

Each week we bring you a summary of which new comics are featuring LGBT(etc.) characters! Now, I'm no Kiden Nixon, so I may miss one or two due to time constraints. If you spot an omission, please let me know in the comments section and I'll correct it tout de suite!

This Week in Comics:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #29

We get to see Willow knock-down, brag-out brawlin'! With Oz! In a universe where vampires don't impregnate melodramatic, proto-Mormon girls! Plus, this is the only comic that has acknowledged that Tina Fey is America's secret lesbian fantasy.

So read it! Oz is hott! 'Nuff said!

The Authority: World's End #15

I haven't read the Authority since “Authority Prime,” but evidently things have been happening. Wildstorm-verse is now post-apocalyptic, Jenny Quarx is dead, Apollo is in suspended animation, and Midnighter is mysteriously absent. Wait, why are we following this title again?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trailer Trashed

One of the many things I wish to do with my life is to write the screenplay to a motion picture, preferably a horror/sci-fi bloodfest with feminist overtones and a gratuitous lucha libre fight scene. Despite my enthusiasm, I have yet to get any of my scripts past the "explain the plot in vivid detail to my friends on Livejournal and never mention it again" stage. I think a likely culprit for this is my faulty conceptual progress.

When I think about a script, I don't pester myself with the concerns and questions of other writers, like "how do I get the perfect balance of love/hate tension between my protagonist and antagonist" or "who could I imagine playing the caustic sidekick". No, I like to focus more on the bigger issues, like "what will the trailer look like?"

I'm everything you hate about going to the movies. I am trailer trash. I'm the friend who will make you wander around Borders for an extra hour and a half because we got there late and we missed a preview.
I do research before we leave for the theater to find out what trailers will be playing at our showing, and if I can't find out for sure, I'll spend the whole car ride irritating you with my predictions. I once went to a James Bond "double feature" where the first two hours was EVERY Bond trailer ever produced.
And yes, you bet your ass I booed at the New Moon trailer when I saw Transformers 2.
Now it's time, I feel, to take my irritating obsession to the next level.

What you are about to see is not for the weak of stomach. This is not an illusion or simple sleight of hand. This is real. As real as it's ever going to get. I dare say it may never be this real again.
I will now critique the trailers (dun dun dun!)

1. Ninja Assassin

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Scarlet Betch Episode 4: "Running Away with Runaways!"

Jason and Anthony are back with another episode of Scarlet Betch! We have an extended chat about Runaways, slanty eyes, Amadeus Cho, gay kissing in Marvel, gay fan art and his math powers, and much much more!

Also, this podcast features music by Sam Hart

Direct Download

hex ya later!

scarlet betches

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Adult Swim Titans Up

While recovering from a weekend that involved me wandering around Folsom Street Fair in a pink prom dress drinking whiskey from a can, I had the chance to catch the premiere of [as]'s newest series, cynical Voltron spoof Titan Maximum. And I have to say, shit just got real yo. This is one of the best pilots for an AS show I have seen in a long while.

Robots. A monkey. Disturbingly attractive claymation sexpots. This show has all the essentials you need to feel less ashamed about watching cartoons in the middle of the night instead of doing your homework or going out on a date. With a voice cast featuring Rachel Leigh Cook and Billy Dee "Stop Calling Me Lando" Williams and a writing staff of Geoff Johns and Zeb Wells, this show has the potential to make up for that bullshit Adult Swim pulled on us with Korgoth of Barbaria.

I don't say this like at all, ever, but I hope they market the shit out of this show. Action figures and t-shirts and video games that people will by solely for the novelty. If the pilot is any indication of what we can expect for the rest of the season, then [as] needs to start putting this bitch out to work the streets. There is no reason a show like this needs to be canceled mid-season because it doesn't bring in as much money as Family Guy reruns.

While we're on the topic of [as], I can't decide if I should be Alice from Superjail! or Dr. Girlfriend from The Venture Brothers for Halloween.