Fangirl Friday: Lisa

Posted by Anika

This Friday’s Fangirl is known to Twitter and Tumblr and is a strong voice in support of women in comics. She writes about comics on her blog Written World. Her Tumblr About box states “I don’t believe you can overthink.” And if you have any interest in Green Lantern — read on, she has lots to recommend. Fantastic fans, meet Lisa!

Name: Lisa
Age: 29

Where do you live? Germany

What is your job? Education?
On paper, I’m a computer repairman in the US Air Force, the exact equipment changes from base to base. In practice I do more NCO stuff than actual maintenance, making sure young men follow the orders of old men. I joined right after high school, so my higher education is BMT and electronics tech school.

Do you have any thoughts about how the military is portrayed in comics? I’ve always been a bit disappointed about it. Military characters tend to be as masculinized as possible (even when female!) and fall within political stereotypes. Even non-active-duty characters that have established personalities, like John Stewart, seem to have been pulled into a macho military guy persona in recent years.

Tell me about your family: I’m from an Italian-American family in the northeast. Just about everyone I’m related to works in some sort of public service career field or has in the past. My father’s a policeman and my mother a nurse, and my brother and sister are both part of fire companies back home.

How long have you been reading comics? Since I was 12 and had to borrow my sister’s comics.

How do you get them now? I order them from a retailer I met through blogging. I’m about a week and a half behind everyone else. Since the major publishers went digital, I’ve been reading more and more on iPad.

Do you have a favorite comic of all time? I’m reluctant to name any one thing as a favorite comic or character, but I can read stories like Soulwind, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, and the first 9 issues of Morrison’s JLA repeatedly without getting sick of them.

My tastes are very fannish. Morrison’s JLA was my introduction to a lot of DC characters back in the 90s and it appealed to my attention span and sense of weirdness. I still think those first few stories with Hyperclan, Tomorrow Woman, the Key, and Zauriel are the best Justice League stories ever written. Those are the ones DC should be trying to revive.

GL: Emerald Knights took one of my favorite characters from Morrison’s JLA, Kyle Rayner, and teamed him up with the most complicated character in his supporting cast: Hal Jordan. This was years before they came up with Rebirth and making Hal a victim all along, back then they were committed to the idea Hal had started out good as good can be and turned bad. So Kyle had the unusual setup of living in the shadow of his greatest enemy’s heroic accomplishments. Kyle only ever met Hal after he became Parallax, but he’s deeply respectful of history and stories so he has this weird mixture of hatred and hero worship during this era. This was the Kyle story where we got to see the hero worship justified. As a Hal story, it’s wonderful because it shows him handling the entire story of his dark fate with grace and honor and probably opened the way to bringing him back as a hero.

Soulwind is an Excalibur story by Scott Morse. It blends fantasy and sci-fi together so naturally, and it is just such a beautiful book and story I can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can detail why I love it so much without spoiling the entire story.

A favorite character? My favorite character would have to be Wonder Woman, because I am a sucker for “hero goes out into the world” setups. First woman to leave her homeland in 3000 years, and she fights monsters. I’m also big on Green Lanterns, and I think that’s because by franchise nature all of them have a “going out into the universe” moment. My favorite alien GLs have an even further edge on that, Katma Tui specifically chooses going out into the universe over marriage, and Abin Sur is doomed to die very far from his homeworld.

On the Marvel side, my recurring favorite is Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch. I like his personality and there’s something about an artificial lifeform that almost never has the “I wish I were human and had real feelings” storyline that puts him over the top for me. I wish they used him more.

How about favorite creators? I’m that Grant Morrison fan, the one that lives on ultra-compressed hyperactive storylines with wall to wall weirdness made from random pieces of continuity plus throwaway high concepts.

On the art side, I love the energy and flexibility in Patrick Gleason’s work.

What comics are you currently reading?
I’m most excited to see Captain America on a monthly basis. I’ve also been reading a lot of back issues of Wonder Woman and Green Lantern lately.

What are you a) most looking forward to and b) most concerned about with the DC relaunch? The answer to both is Wonder Woman. Since Simone got off the book, it’s been lacking but we’ve had a lot of hints that the more irritating bits about the post-Crisis era (no Amazon tech, there’s a whole tribe of violent Amazons being integrated into the central culture, Diana being younger and less experienced than Superman and Batman, Diana alternately crushing on Superman and Batman) will be erased and replaced with classic elements I really like (the Invisible Jet, the gods really being like GODS, Steve Trevor..etc..). There’s also some problems with continuity such as Donna’s origin, pretty much every use of the Gods in the Perez run, the gutting of her pre-Crisis villains, and Hippolyta’s death that I’d like to see gone.

Aside from that, I’m looking forward to the return of Resurrection Man, Grant Morrison redoing Superman’s origin, Batwoman, Tomasi writing John Stewart and Kyle Rayner getting the job I thought he should have had after Blackest Night.

I’m no longer worried they’ll take away Wonder Woman’s softer side, since Azzarello wrote her in For Tomorrow with caring and restraint even when presenting her with the sword. My biggest worry is they’ll do everything I want, but somehow make everything all wrong anyway. They’ll bring back Steve Trevor, but have forgotten his personality and replaced it with something horrible. They’ll have Diana be an orphan and the Kingdom run by her aunt. They’ll mess up the gods again. They’ll do another meta-commentary with Donna Troy… Or they’ll bring back everything want but throw away the good post-Crisis elements like Artemis, Phillipus and Hestia as a patroness.

Second to Wonder Woman, I’m concerned about Green Lantern NOT getting rebootted. I’m worried that with no creative team shakeup and not even an attempt to use the relaunch to clean house (there is some continuity there that Johns is clinging to, like Katma Tui’s murder by a possessed Carol Ferris, that really could be pruned and some bad ideas like making the Predator the violet entity that could be dropping), the franchise will just devour itself until it’s unreadable.

I’ll admit to being afraid to even attempt to follow Green Lantern. What about the characters and stories attracts you and do you have any suggestions for where a GL novice might start? The thing that attracts me to Green Lantern more than anything is the potential in the concept. And yeah, there’s a lot of bad books with good potential that I never look twice at, but Green Lantern is different. It’s not one of those places where you see a lot of potential and the writers squander it. It’s a franchise of unlimited potential that writers will never be able to fully mine, but some of them have managed to touch on it.

I first saw the concept in Morrison’s JLA, when he used Kyle for all sorts of weirdness like being lost in a world of his own making and creating machines to convert motion to sound without knowing anything about science. That’s what attracted me, the potential weirdness. Then I got to reading and I really really liked the Silver Age setup where aliens from across the universe got recruited as peacekeepers. It gave us an in to cosmic DC and a fascinating team concept. Not only is there potential weirdness through the human hero, he can run into just about ANYTHING in a co-worker. It’s the most diverse possible group, all with the same power. And with the history and scale of the organization, you can pretty much tell any story you want with Green Lantern and never come near Earth.

And the vast majority of these are “going out into the universe” stories. These characters can come from any walk of life, from any type of civilization, and they leave home to deal with alien cultures. They can be any species, any race, any gender, any sexuality, any religion, any shape or size, any background. Anyone who has the necessary virtues (courage, since honesty seems to have been downplayed after Broome left) can be a Green Lantern.

And when they get to Oa, they have to integrate with people who can be any species, any race, any gender, any sexuality, any religion, any shape or size, any background. They have to learn to put aside those differences and work as a team, when all they have in common is courage and the desire to keep the universe in order.

For new readers? The best two places to start are with trades of Hal and Kyle. For Hal, try the Green Lantern Showcases, for Kyle check out the Emerald Twilight/A New Dawn then Baptism of Fire trades. (Be forewarned, the titular “Women in Refrigerators” incident happens in New Dawn.) Following Hal will give you the franchise as it was built, following Kyle lets you see an existing universe unfold through the eyes of a new hero.

After that, on the Hal path I strongly, strongly recommend the Green Lantern/Green Arrow trades because of Hal’s character growth and John Stewart’s introduction. Go with Morrison JLA for more Kyle, then head into Emerald Knights, and Circle of Fire.

For GLC-wide stuff, the collection of Geoff Johns’ personal favorites: In Brightest Day is a really strong collection. Two utter essentials, “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize” and “In Blackest Night” aren’t in it, though. Those are in Across the Universe: The DC Stories of Alan Moore.

Also, if you like alien GLs, check out the second Showcase of GL for Katma Tui’s first appearance (Green Lantern #30), and the Traitor trade paperback that collects a Legends of the DCU story with Abin Sur in the Old West.

When you feel comfortable with the continuity and fond of the characters, you’ll enjoy Rebirth a bit more than as a new reader. Best post-Rebirth stories are Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, GL #7-8 (“A Perfect Life”), GLC #1-3, the GLC: Darker Side of Green trade, the Sinestro Corps War crossover, the “Sins of the Star Sapphire” storyline from GLC (this saves the ENTIRE Star Sapphire revamp), and the “Agent Orange” arc in the main GL book.

What kind of fangirl activities do you do? When I lived in the states I went to conventions, but since I moved to Europe it’s been blogging, Twitter, and Tumblr. I do write letters to the editor sometimes.

Hm. What have you written letters about? I tend to write when I want to give negative feedback. Off the top of my head I’ve sent in letters when Arisia came back in an unzipped mini-skirted monstrosity, when they introduced the Pink Nightmare Star Sapphire costume. I can’t remember what ridiculous stuff I sent in as a kid, probably letters to bring back Hal. I never got published until I wrote in asking them to bring back a young Steve Trevor in the next Wonder Woman reboot.

What’s your favorite thing about comics? I love that there’s stories you can only tell with sequential art, effects that need a sequence of still images as well as the text in order to get everything across. I love a well put together page, where every panel has the right effect for the story and the layout itself helps the overall impression, when you read the page with the action of the characters or you need the text actually on the picture to get the effect. My favorite thing is when writers and artists realize what a unique medium they have an play with it a little.

Why do you read them? I read comics for the same reason I watch/read other media. I like heroic stories, and a lot of heroic stories are in comic form, especially superheroes.

Posted by Anika
twitter: magnetgirl

  • Great interview! And while I’ve probably read more GL than the rest of the crew here, I hadn’t encountered ‘Emerald Knights’ (I think I had it mixed up with some other Emerald title) and now I’m intrigued.

    I also found Lisa’s comments about the military and masculinity interesting — do you have any suggestions for stories where you think this aspect is portrayed well (either with male or female characters)? Whether in comics or elsewhere — it’s an issue I find myself wishing I knew more about.

  • Y’know, it’s weird because it’s old and not the focus, but Bronze Age Wonder Woman handled the military and masculinity iin the best way as I saw it.

    There’s an ongoing subplot in the Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas plots where Diana and Steve’s boss, General Darnell, is coming on to Diana Prince. The entire setup with the chain of command, Gen Darnell over Col. Trevor over Capt. Prince over Lt. Candy makes BOTH men problematic love interests for Diana. The problem of sexual harassment and just dating within the direct chain of command is never addressed (because it is the 70s, I guess), but the contrast between Steve treating her professionally and Darnell treating her unprofessionally is clear. So’s the contrast between how Steve views himself in a relationship, and how Gen Darnell does, and what women they’re attracted to as a result. And Etta as the troop sorely in need of decent mentorship thrown into the middle of this intrigue.

    Mishkin brings in another officer, Major Griggs, who’s attracted to Diana (a Major herself by then) that brings a third view of masculinity to the office. At that point, you have the dominant and pompous Gen Darnell, the quiet and introverted Steve Trevor, and the action-oriented Major Griggs surrounding Wonder Woman. There’s a beautiful variety to these men, what Diana thinks of each (she’s annoyed by Darnell, confusingly attracted to Griggs, and completely in love with Trevor), how they relate to her in both her identities, and how they work with (or ignore) Etta.

    It’s never the focus of the story, but it’s always in the background and I really wish there’d been more time to explore this supporting cast before the Crisis reboot.

  • And I just want to add that I find it realistic too. Granted, now Darnell would be vulnerable to being called on sexual harassment (in the 70s and early 80s, no one bats an eye about the rank and power imbalance though they alol think he’s being an ass), but he is portrayed to be an overall terrible Commander and the writers actually do a good depiction of what this office would be like with such a terrible Commander.