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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week – 6/28/2017

Greetings comic book fans and welcome back to another episode of the Crank File. Did you miss me? I’ve missed you. Wednesday is new comic book day and Tuesdays I spotlight some of the stuff that I’ll be checking out. It’s looking like a strong crop of books and I had a really hard time making this week’s picks. Lots of good books couldn’t make the cut. These are the ones that did. Your results may vary.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.

SE5

The Top of the Pile: Secret Empire #5

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Nick Spencer
Art: Leinil Francis Yu

What it is: They thought they were safe! They thought they could handle anything that was thrown against them! But the united heroes of the Marvel Universe never reckoned on the dread power that Steve Rogers would unleash! THE SECRET EMPIRE WILL AMAZE YOU! Rated T+

Why we love it: I wasn’t ready for Secret Empire to be this entertaining. This dystopia has been relevant, intriguing and undeniably provocative. Evil Steve Rogers (Stevil Rogers?) has outmaneuvered earth’s superheroes at every turn. What tricks does he have up his gauntlets this time? Is that really the Hulk on the cover? Did Hawkeye somehow shoot him back to life?

 TAH20

The Mainstream One: Totally Awesome Hulk #20

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Greg Pak
Art: Mahmud A. Asrar

What it is: WEAPONS OF MUTANT DESTRUCTION PART 2! What is the mysterious Weapon Gamma? AND WHO IS BEHIND ITS CREATION? Rated T

Why we like it: Hulkverine. Nuff said.

S44

The Indie One: Saga #44

Publisher: Image
Words: Brian K. Vaughan
Art:Fiona Staples

What it is: Hazel and her family search for elusive treasure: affordable healthcare.

Why we like it: The best comic in all of comicdom, Saga takes us where few comics dare or care to go.

EoV1

The #1 One: Edge of Venomverse #1

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Roland Boschi

What it is: EDGE of VENOM-VERSE starts here! The series that sets up the epic VENOM EVENT of 2017 STARTS HERE! Each issue introduces another major Venomized character that will feed into VENOMVERSE itself! THIS ISSUE, the young mutant clone designated X-23 collides with a cryogenic tube containing a strange alien symbiote during her frenzied escape from The Facility, . Bonding with the alien enhances her already considerable abilities, and aids in her escape, but it begins to alter her mind! On the run from the very people that made her, can X-23 hold it together or is she doomed to give in to Venom! Rated T

Why we like it: Francesco Mattina absolutely slayed this cover. I thought X-23 was plenty scary before the corrupted alien parasite costume. It seems like the entire world has caught Venom fever since the news of a Venom/Carnage movie broke. If you or someone you love is suffering from symbiote separation anxiety, talk to your local comic shop about Venomverse.

ww25

The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Wonder Woman #25

Publisher: DC
Words: Greg Rucka
Art: Liam Sharp
Cover Art: Jenny Frison

What it is: Writer Greg Rucka weaves together the threads of ‘The Lies,’ ‘Year One,’ ‘The Truth,’ and ‘Godwatch’-every story in WONDER WOMAN since the start of the DC Universe Rebirth era-in this extra-sized anniversary issue!

Why we like it: Jenny Frison really wants to get Jennifer Connelly cast as Wonder Woman. Frison’s entire run of WW cover Bs has been outstanding, with a few exceptional pieces. This is an exceptional one. Speaking of exceptional, the Wonder Woman movie. It wasn’t perfect, but it was close. See it. You won’t be disappointed.

 

That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Female Perspective: Holy Hera! Wonder Woman Figures!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website! Or find me on Facebook at @JLMetcalfAuthorArtisan!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


It’s been awhile since I’ve written about the delightful Wonder Woman and I feel that it is time to mention her again, mostly because of the FIGURES!!!

Holy Hera, have you seen these!?!?!?!

First off, the fact that a major toy company is making FEMALE action figures is always a wonderfully satisfying thing, but then you look at these exquisite beauties and seriously: I WANT THEM ALL. It’s great to see that the toys are well done and that they are actually coming out with the movie. Maybe it’s a sign that companies are learning that little girls will indeed want to have toys like this to play with. Whatever the reason, it’s great to see these beauties!

Photographer Dennis DiLaura Stylist Mary Jordan
Photographer Dennis DiLaura
Stylist Mary Jordan

The dolls were revealed in a recent Entertainment Weekly ahead of the New York Toy Fair. What really shocks me is how relatively inexpensive these dolls are. They seem to range in price from $15 to $30 depending on what one you choose. I may have to pick me up one or two because gosh dang it, girl toys ROCK!

More Info: http://ew.com/movies/wonder-woman-mattel-toys/photographer-dennis-dilaurastylist-mary-jordan/
More Info: Entertainment Weekly

Also, I am very excited about the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, even with the less than stellar track record of DC Comics and Warner Brothers in the superhero genre. I  mean come on now, what the heck was happening in Suicide Squad exactly? I have enjoyed the Zack Snyder Superman movies though (she ducks to avoid people spitting water at her) and I have the hope that Gal Gadot, who did a solid job as Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman can really knock it out of the park, proving that a female-centric superhero film can make money. She certainly look like Wonder Woman, let’s hope she can act like her too. Fingers crossed.

As we await the arrival of Wonder Woman this summer, we can enjoy the trailer and soon enough, these wonderful toys which will be released around the movie’s release.

Wonder Woman Trailer!

Are you excited??? Tell me your Wonder Woman stories!

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The Female Perspective: Harley Quinn v. Wonder Woman

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


I’ll preface this blog by saying I have not read any comics with Harley Quinn. I’ve done some looking into her backstory and watched a Justice League movie awhile back, but I am by no means a HQ expert, so I ask those that are experts to be kind and offer up some corrections if I do get anything incorrect here. This blog is entirely based on my opinions, nothing more. I don’t presume to be spouting facts!

That being said…

Like many folks, I am looking forward to the Suicide Squad movie with baited breath. Unlike many, I have enjoyed the Superman movies that have come out as late so my expectations are not as low for Suicide Squad as many others. I think this looks fun and I don’t give one great big hoot about the reviews that have come out stating otherwise, I don’t trust reviewers and like to experience a movie for myself.

GalleryChar_1920x1080_Harley-Quinn-#1_54b9c3a0058de1.57883431

I have heard of a few of the characters and one in particular, Harley Quinn, is one I’ve seen in cosplay form a lot at various cons.  She’s a popular one, in all her various iterations and I’ve always wondered why. From the research I’ve done and from what I’ve seen, I am not overly impressed with her character. She’s in love with The Joker (we’ve all made bad choices in love, so that I am okay with) and eventually goes crazy from that and becomes a villain, and eventually more of an anti-hero. All right, all of that I can deal with. What I don’t like and what really irritates the holy heck out of me is the weird, totally dysfunctional and abusive relationship she has with The Joker. He shoved her in a vat of acid and yet, she still loves him. There is literally nothing he can do that would make her not love him. It bothers me, and I thought about the reasons why it bothers me. It’s just a comic book right? It’s not real life. But the fact is, young girls do look up to these heroes and villains, they do emulate them and I have seen many young women wearing Harley Quinn costumes and I think, why her? What is it about her that makes you want to be her in some way? I may have to ask a few HQ’s at the next con I attend because I am honestly curious.

wonder-woman-435

I’ve always been a huge fan of Wonder Woman. Her strength, beauty and smarts are compelling and inspiring. While she may have fallen in love from time to time, it never seemed to be the thing that defined her as a character. She was defined by her power, her mission and her fairness. Of course, she’s the polar opposite of HQ because one is a hero and the other a villain, so of course they’re going to have different stories. I know this and yet, I do not get why anyone would want to be HQ. She’s abused, she’s mis-treated and she’s debased by The Joker time and time again and yet, she comes back for more.

tumblr_ntroqt20J01qhococo1_1280

I think for me, her backstory rubs me the wrong way because I’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship so watching anyone (fictional or otherwise) go through that pushes my buttons.  It’s a personal thing, sure it is, but isn’t that the beauty of good art? It triggers you (for good or bad), it makes you feel one way or the other. I guess the creators of HQ did a good job with her if I feel so strongly anti-Harley Quinn and so very pro-Wonder Woman. As I said on the outset, I don’t presume to know everything about Harley Quinn so if I’m off the mark, let me know, please. I’d love to learn what makes her so popular!

For me WW represents everything I wanted to be as a kid. Not a super hero so much as a woman with integrity, morals, bravery and strength. For me, watching HQ just makes me feel ill-at-ease. I want her to shove the Joker in a vat of acid and walk away, never to speak to or think about him again. I want her to be emotionally stronger than she seems to be. I guess what I’m saying is I want her to be a hero.  Which I realize may be a ridiculous wish to have for a comic book character.

HARLEY-QUINN-WONDER-WOMAN

What do you think? Who’s your favorite between the two?

Wonder Woman or Harley Quinn? Or is it someone else?

Why? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: My Fave Comic Con Trailers!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


Like many, I was not at San Diego Comic Con last week, but like many, I got to enjoy the trailers and videos that came out of it with nerdy abandon. Today I thought I’d go over some of my favorites in case you haven’t seen them and to find out what other people enjoyed.

American Gods

Unknown

I read the Neil Gaiman book a year or so ago and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t overly ecstatic about it. That being said, I was curious when I heard that Starz was developing a TV show based on the book. It’s a fascinating premise so I thought, well holy heck, this might be a cool TV show!

If you haven’t read the book, here’s a short synopsis:

The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them (a form of thoughtform). Immigrants to the United States brought with them spirits and gods. The power of these mythological beings has diminished as people’s beliefs wane. New gods have arisen, reflecting America’s obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among other things. ~Wikipedia

The trailer released at SDCC did NOT disappoint. Besides this being an amazing cast, I think it having a home on Starz is the perfect place for it. Not to mention, the guy playing Shadow, who I adored on The 100, is perfect casting for the quiet felon who is thrust back into the world after this best friend and his wife are both killed in a car accident.

Watch the trailer HERE.

Justice League

images

Okay, this look pretty cool. I was a bit hesitant on the new Flash since I love the TV kid so much, but there appears there is some humor to break up the darkness. More than anything, I cannot possibly get enough of seeing a posse of superhero’s all together, there is something so amazing about it that I honestly will watch anything just to get my fix of that. Maybe it’s wish-fulfillment, where are our superhero’s?

Check out the trailer HERE.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

fantastic_beasts_and_where_to_find_them

I love me some Harry Potter magic, and really, magic in general. Not to mention the vast void of emptiness left in my life since the final book and movie were released so you can imagine my joy about seeing this trailer. The first trailer left me feeling a bit cold, but this one looks awesome. Plus, that familiar Harry Potter music brings back all the feels.

Check out the trailer HERE.

Doctor Strange

DrS

Holy smokes, I can’t even … This look so flipping amazing I can’t even! Here, watch the trailer and tell me this doesn’t fill you with all the feels when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Check out the trailer HERE.

Now, I know virtually nothing about Dr. Strange, but I can tell you two things with certainty.

  1. Benedict Cumberbatch can do no wrong. I don’t care. He’s awesome.
  2. Magic and mind-twisting magic. Dude. MAGIC.

This is one of those trailers that gets you all goose-pimply and excited for the movie to come, but as excited as I am to see Doctor Strange I am even more excited for the next on my list of SDCC wonders. Can you guess what it is? Or who?

WONDER WOMAN

Wonder_Woman_(2017_film)

I am one of the people who thought that Superman V. Batman: Dawn of Justice was a good movie. Not great, not perfect, but really good. Having just watched the “Ultimate Edition” I realize that it’s even better than I remembered it and one of my favorite parts is the introduction of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. Seeing Wonder Woman on the big screen like this, tall, proud and powerful, makes me feel all weepy. Add to that being able to finally see the trailer for her movie and I was a total mess.

For years, those in power in the movie world said that a woman-centered stand-alone film wouldn’t do good in the theater so they avoided it like the plague. Now, to see it actually happening is almost overwhelming. Will Wonder Woman outdo her male counterparts? Hard to say, but from the looks of the trailer, it looks like she is going to kick some serious butt and do it in wonderfully awesome fashion.

Also, the line, “What I do is not up to you.” BOOM! That’s my Wonder Woman!

Wonder woman was obviously my favorite of the trailers, I can’t lie. Not to mention, the poster is phenomenal, “Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder.” AAAAAAHHHHH!! They are doing so right by this I cannot imagine it will go wrong (my fingers and toes are crossed anyway).

A few honorable mentions in terms of fun videos that came our way are below. These aren’t high profile movie trailers, but they are a bit of fun.

Honorable Mentions:

Rick Grimes tries to Glitter Bomb Daryl and becomes the dread pirate Glitter Beard!

Superman goes undercover!

There you have it folks, some of my fave videos from SDCC 2016. Did you have different ones? Show them to me in the comments and let me know what YOU think of the upcoming slew of movies and TV coming our way!

 

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The Female Perspective: Frank Cho and Wonder Woman

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


So last week there was a flurry of stories regarding artist Frank Cho and his variant Wonder Woman covers. Seeing as a lot of the articles dealt with people being aghast at the amount of skin Cho was drawing and his departure from DC Comics because they did not like his covers (he quit the job) I became curious. Was this another case of women being drawn as fodder for drooling men?

Nope.

The few covers that Cho did do are actually quite stunning. They are well-executed and I have to say, awesome. I am neither offended by the amount of skin or the poses Wonder Woman is in. I am confused as to why there is even a story.

The fact is, Cho acted like a petulant child, posting this online:

All the problem lies with Greg Rucka.

EVERYONE loves my Wonder Woman covers and wants me to stay. Greg Rucka is the ONLY one who has any problem with covers. Greg Rucka has been trying to alter and censor my artwork since day one.

Greg Rucka thought my Wonder Woman #3 cover was vulgar and showed too much skin, and has been spearheading censorship, which is baffling since my Wonder Woman image is on model and shows the same amount of skin as the interior art, and it’s a VARIANT COVER and he should have no editorial control over it. (But he does. WTF?!!!)
I tried to play nice, not rock the boat and do my best on the covers, but Greg’s weird political agenda against me and my art has made that job impossible. Wonder Woman was the ONLY reason I came over to DC Comics.

To DC’s credit, especially [Art Director] Mark Chiarello, they have been very accommodating. But they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

I just wanted to be left alone and do my Wonder Woman variant covers in peace. But Greg Rucka is in a hostile power trip and causing unnecessary friction over variant covers.

ComicsBeat.com

Sure, Cho isn’t really taking the “high road” here, but whatever. What really annoys me is that DC hired him, knowing exactly what kind of artwork Cho is famous for (click here, but be warned NSFW) so why the heck are they hiring someone who has a website called Apes and Babes and who is KNOWN for drawing naked ladies in sexy positions?

The mindset of these comic companies baffles me. In 2014, Marvel had a similar issue, only they actually published a variant cover of Spiderwoman that was fairly insulting to women, spiders and anyone who has any respect for women. In this case, Cho’s covers are actually pretty awesome and in keeping with the characters spirit.

It’s a difficult thing in this world today, toeing the line between being “too” sensitive and being sensitive “enough”. I have to go with my own thoughts and feelings on these things, but as a feminist, as a woman, I see nothing wrong with Cho’s covers. I may not care for him as an artist (or as a human being), but his artwork here is pretty great. What I have to wonder is if DC was simply looking for some press (which they got) or if Cho just wanted out of the deal that he signed because he was frustrated with the team at DC, (or, Cho wanted some press) or these guys are really just children in disguise, and none of them know what they’re doing. My bet is on that last one.

There’s another aspect to this story though, is it inappropriate for the creative in charge of the story to want to have some control over how his/her story is packaged? Is it wrong that Greg Rucka didn’t like what Cho was doing and kicked up a fuss? That’s a tricky one. As an author, I would be aghast if someone took my character Katrina (from my book The Last Daughter of Lilith) and drew her as a sexpot wearing heels and a miniskirt (or something worse than that) because she is a simple character who wears simple clothing. I wouldn’t want that to happen either and would kick up a big ole fuss about it. In this case though, I’m not sure what is going on since (as you can see below), these covers are pretty cool, and not at all insulting to the source material.

Original Art.
Original Art.
Finished piece.
Finished piece.

While the cropping is different, ending at the knee, everything else is the same. There is no extra cleavage, no under skirt shot. I feel like I am missing some piece of a puzzle and these guys at DC are holding the piece I need to complete the puzzle over their heads going, “Nope, not gonna give it to you!”

Let’s look at one more.

Original Art.
Original Art.
Finished piece.
Finished piece.

Yep, I still don’t see it, do you? Am I missing something? If so, please enlighten me!

Tell me what YOU think about all this? Do you see the problem? Do you think there’s no problem and everyone in comics is coco-NUTS? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: Is Body Positive Really Positive?

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


I see things all the time regarding the “body positive” movement and about fat shaming and skinny shaming and all that. As a woman, as a human, I have struggled with my own self-confidence and self-acceptance pretty much as long as I can remember. There have rarely been times when I feel super confident about how I look and what people think about me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a better grasp on it, but it still haunts me.

Some of you may know that last year I had Gastric Bypass Surgery to help me lose a substantial amount of weight. Since March of 2015 I have lost about 140 pounds and am still trying to lose another 10-15 pounds to get to my goal weight, therefore I feel that I am in a place where I can talk about what it’s like to be overweight and to also be what is considered a “normal” weight and how frustrating it is to see people online mock those who exercise, mock those who don’t, make fun of overweight people, make fun of skinny people, blah, blah, blah. It goes on and on and on.

It’s no wonder that most of us have body image issues, there doesn’t appear to be any one image that appeals to everyone, so you know what I say to that? F*&k it. What society needs to learn, what so many of us need to learn, is that your body is beautiful. Your choices are yours to make, and unless you are self-harming, you are just perfect.

Why Being Body Positive Kind Of Stinks

I’m really tired of seeing meme’s, gifs, videos, etc of women basically shaming other women for how they choose to live their lives. You want to exercise and eat healthy? Great! Good for you! You want to not do either of those things? Great! Good for you! You know why? Because it is YOUR body and therefore, YOUR choice. Our choices define who we are in the world, our choices make us who we are. What other people think of you is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of life and what matters most is that you love yourself. Of course, being 6 feet tall and 90 pounds is not so healthy, so is being 6 feet tall and 500 pounds. Our bodies are made to carry a certain amount of weight and that varies from frame to frame, but if you can move around and feel good and do the things you love to do, then I’m happy for you and I think you’re awesome.

Our differences make us great.
Our differences make us great.

What I don’t think is awesome is men and women who think that being overweight is “disgusting” or “shameful” or, and this is my biggest pet peeve, that if you are overweight you are lazy. Yes, that is sometimes true, there are people who are overweight and they are also lazy, but there are also overweight people who make an effort to eat well, exercise and they still can’t lose weight because they simply aren’t knowledgeable about how to do it correctly or, if you’re like me, you are a food addict. You cannot help yourself because you are ADDICTED to food. Yeah, food addiction isn’t as well known or perhaps as interesting as alcohol or drug addiction, but it can destroy lives. It can kill, and it does kill. It’s serious and needs to be taken seriously.

We need to stop looking at those that are obese and think that they are simply lazy. There’s a lot that goes into that weight gain: genetics, depression, stress, lack of self-esteem, etc. It’s more than just fat, it’s a security blanket that keeps us safe.

When I see women (or men) who are overweight and singing the praises of body positivity I am always torn. On one hand I think, yes! Be proud of who you are! Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t amazing. On the other hand I think, you are overweight and your body does not like that, your joints don’t like that, your internal organs don’t like that. But I am not a doctor, nor am I here to judge your choices.

Honestly, I want people to be proud of who they are. I want people to look in the mirror and think, I love myself. I didn’t feel that way about myself for a VERY long time so I chose surgery. I chose to change my stomach size so that I could eat less, it was a tool in a very big toolkit that has saved my life. I also changed what I ate, how much I exercised and more important than anything else, I changed my relationship with both myself and with food. It’s not the crutch I lean on when I’m sad or stressed. It’s something I have to have in order to nourish this body as well as I am now able to enjoy, to savor the food. Not to just shovel into my face mindlessly.

A Feminist Bikini Body

I recently saw this video posted by Bustle.com and I am confused by it, again, on one hand I see their point, any BODY can be a bikini body, but just what are they saying here?

I watched this video and thought, hmmm, they’re kind of making fun of people who exercise in that they seem to be saying that if you exercise, you are trying to attain the status quo beach body and not the beach body you have. I have to strongly disagree with that. As a person who exercises every day (something I never thought I’d say) I don’t do it because the world thinks I need to look a certain way, I do it because it FEELS GOOD, it makes me feel strong and powerful and sexy and more than anything else, I feel darn proud of myself for being able to run/walk (aka wagging) 7-8 miles a day. It feels good when I lift weights and I can do that extra bicep curl or add more weight. It feels amazing that I can do yoga comfortably now. I didn’t lose weight to please the patriarchal societal ideal of what beauty is, I did it for me, for my health. To have that mocked so openly is frustrating and why I think the body positive movement is so flawed.

Also, why is this specifically “feminist”? Because it’s women? Because it’s supposedly empowering? Labeling something as feminist simply because it seems “radical” is a waste of time in my mind. I don’t go around saying, this is my feminist point of view (with the exception of this blog). I don’t say, “This is a feminist reading a book”, or, “This is the way a feminist takes a pee.” I simply do my thing, and if things get all feminist-y then so be it.

Why do we have to poop on one side of things in order to lift up the other? Why, as humans, do we have to put someone down to make someone else feel better? I say this as someone who is guilty of doing this. I say this as someone who was once 343 pounds and who mocked skinny people, who scoffed at those who could lift weights and jog, because I was sad I couldn’t. I was sad that I was overweight and felt trapped in my own body. Now, I’m not saying these women feel that way, I’m not even saying every overweight person feels that way, I’m saying that we can lift each other up without putting others down. Let’s try that for a change and see what kind of world that brings us to.

I’ll start:

You look beautiful today and I hope that you feel good in the skin you are in because it’s amazing and I am quite sure that the brain inside that head is amazing too.  You are more than what you look like and you are more than what you think. Those are just parts, you are a whole, complete person with dreams and power and kindness within you. I am proud of that. 

Now you go…

Just in case you've forgotten...
Just in case you’ve forgotten…
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The Female Perspective: It’s About Dang Time!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


I’ve made no secret of my annoyance and frustration that it seems to take forever for companies like Marvel and DC Comics to come out with female-centered superhero movies, or more accurately, the fact that they don’t have any right now.

In fact, I’ve written about Wonder Woman many times now, along with Black Widow and others that are not in the comic world. The lack of merchandise is also a problem, but ladies and gents, all that is changing because of one biggish announcement by Kevin Feige recently.

The fact is, our society is changing, women are taking up the comic book action hero mantle and other woman, i.e. ME, want to see those women kick butt in their own movies, not as a sidekick to a bunch of dudes.

Black Widow is ready for her own movie...
Black Widow is ready for her own movie…

It is a happy day when you see the seeds of your wishing coming to fruition. With the Wonder Woman movie on its way to theaters soon (woohoo!), it was awesome to hear Kevin Feige say recently that they are fully committed to a standalone Black Widow movie!

“We’ve announced the next nine movies, ten counting Civil War, through the end of 2019. Where we go beyond that are ongoing discussions that we’ll focus on in the next few years because we have a lot to do before then. Of the characters that you’ve just mentioned I would say certainly the one creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.” –Den of Geek

Sure, that means we’ll still have to wait a few years to see Black Widow kick ass all on her own on screen, but the very fact that Marvel has realized she should have her own movie is a huge win for fans everywhere and it’s clear that it’s what fans actually want.

In fact, a recent poll amongst Captain America: Civil War advance ticketholders asking which Avenger should get a solo film saw Black Widow with a dominant 48 percent victory out of the six choices. –Den of Geek

48 percent is a pretty good number! I for one am tickled red and black that Black Widow is finally going to get her own film. For a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that she’s a really cool female character. There’s a lot of cool female characters in both the DC and Marvel universes so there is literally no real end to the amount of movies they could make telling their stories, but the fact is, since her debut in Iron Man 2, Scarlett Johansson has been doing an absolutely amazing job portraying a complex female character surrounded by and constantly fighting alongside her male counterparts. She is no less powerful in Captain America: Civil War where she attempts to be diplomatic when torn between two of her respected and loved friends, Iron Man and Captain America. In fact, Black Widow is at her best in Civil War because she is troubled by having to “pick a side” in the argument, when essentially all she wants is her friends to get along and do what’s right for the world they protect. In Civil War things are not that easy though, and Natasha finds herself battling her own sense of what is wrong and right and ultimately doing what she think’s is best, even if it’s going against her own “team”.

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Also, after seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron, I was most certainly interested in hearing more of the story of Black Widow. We were given a small taste, ala Scarlett Witches powers, of what Natasha’s life had been like as she trained (and became brainwashed) to become the super bad ass spy/assassin/superhero she is today. Not only that, but we were teased with some more of what the training was like for Black Widow’s on the TV show Agent Carter when we got to see what “life” was like for Dottie Greenwood (spoiler alert: it’s bad to be trained as  a Black Widow spy). The fact is, there is a rich, complicated and brutal backstory to tell when it comes to Natasha and her other women spy comrades, one that deserves to be told on screen.

Wonder Woman may have her movie out first, but I have no doubt Black Widow's film will be kick-ass.
Wonder Woman may have her movie out first, but I have no doubt Black Widow’s film will be kick-ass.

Not to mention, it’s about dang time that a woman superhero gets her own movie. Yes, I’m greedy for it, we have seen men ruling over the superhero franchises forever now, I mean, for pete’s sake, Batman gets a new movie every couple of years, but only after decades do we finally get to see Wonder Woman up on the big screen, fighting toe-to-toe with the guys in some of the best scenes of Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice. Seeing WW up there got me all sorts of jazzed up for her movie and I am very excited and hopeful that she will be the start of some really awesome female-led superhero films.

It’s time folks. It’s way past time.

How do you feel about Black Widow? Do you think she’s ready for a standalone film? Why or why not? Share in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: In Defense of “Superman v. Batman”

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


I’m not going to pull any punches here, I really, really enjoyed Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice and I am going to tell you why. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and want no spoilers I’d say stop reading, I’ll try to keep the important stuff out of here, but if you’re like me and want to know NOTHING about a movie before watching it, then stop reading. You’ve been warned!

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I, like so many people, have been looking forward to Superman v. Batman for awhile. I am a big fan of Man of Steel as well so yeah, there’s that. I will also say that when I heard that Ben Affleck was going to play Batman, I was a bit … disappointed.

I’m over that now.

Here’s what I think is good about Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice and why the haters really do need to shut up.

The Casting 

Yep, Affleck at the older, more world-weary Batman is perfect (and huge). As much as I loved Christian Bale’s portrayal, Affleck does the Caped Crusader justice. Having read The Dark Knight and other comics that feature this older, grumpier Batman, I feel like Affleck really managed to capture that essence. This is a man who has been through a lot of crap, has watched a lot of people he love die and who isn’t about to let some dude in a cape take over the world. Affleck is at times so earnest in his hatred toward Superman that you feel uncomfortable, not because the acting is bad but because the acting is so good. You want to shake him and make him see reason, Superman is not going to turn on the humans, he wants to help for goodness sake, just like you do Bats. Just like you do.

I find Henry Cavill as Superman a continued great choice. He’s got the gravitas, the looks and the persona to pull off the titular character. He was great in Man of Steel and I look forward to seeing more of him in the future permutations of Superman. In this film he did not disappoint, this was a different Superman than in Man of Steel, he’s conflicted. He wants to do the right thing but the more he tries, the more crap he seems to get. He also seems to revel in the love and adoration of the people he saves, a dangerous combination for a mortal, but as an alien, is Superman immune to an inflated ego? Only time will tell.

"Don't worry fellas, I'll protect you." - Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman … Oh man did she rock this big time. Not only is she beautiful, but she is also tough as all get out. She’s as tall as the fellas and very easily stands with them in the final battle. When verbally sparring with Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince doesn’t flinch from his steely gaze, nor does she cow-tow in anyway. She stands tall and walks off without a care in the world. Unimpressed by the billionaire. When she finally shows up in her full costume, it’s wonderful because she saves Batman. SHE SAVES BATMAN! I love it. It made me VERY excited about her upcoming feature film, I have ZERO doubts that Gadot can pull it off. She’s going to be amazing.

Can you see it? The madness underneath?
Can you see it? The madness underneath?

Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Oh man, this kid. This kid rocked Luthor. The overall tone of the movie is much darker than a lot of  the other comic book films and Luthor is the ultimate epitome of that. He is nuts. Totally batsh*t crazy nuts. Eisenberg plays it perfectly. At times being an adorable jokester before finally revealing the massive smarts and diabolical brain behind that boyish exterior (when he feeds another man a Jolly Rancher, I laughed out loud. It was amazing). I cannot wait to see what else he does as Luthor.

The Story Is Dark and Wonderful

What I loved most about Superman v. Batman is the fact that they don’t shy away form what happened in Man of Steel, instead it’s the focus for everything happens in SvB. We are pushed 18 months after Superman battles General Zod and we see how Bruce Wayne was  part of the action, watching one of his buildings crumble to the ground with people in it that he cared about still inside. We see the anger, the fury building in Wayne’s eyes and we know, oh yes, we KNOW that he is not going to let Superman pass by unscathed after the massive destruction.

Superman himself is being both lauded and lambasted by the government and the people. They see him as a God, and that fills people with both joy and terrible fear. What if he decides to kill everyone? Could he destroy the world? Should someone have that kind of power and be allowed to run loose around the world? When Superman finally shows up at the capitol to answer for his “crimes”, all Hell breaks loose and the anguish on his face, when he is witness to death on a massive scale, is clear. He doesn’t know who he is, he doesn’t know what he’s doing … Superman is having an existential crises on the Superhero level.

It’s a dark movie. It’s not for kids and it’s not a Marvel movie. This doesn’t make it bad, in fact, I loved that it was “real world” (and I know people hate that term) because you know what? If Superman showed up one day, this is what would happen to the world. We would be split in half, those who see Superman as a God-like figure here to save humanity and there would be those who see him as the Devil, here to destroy humanity. It’s good and smart film making and writing.

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The Battles!

The battles are awesome. That’s all I can really say about that. Not too much CGI to make it annoying and enough chaos and excitement to make you hover on the edge of your seat, not sure what’s going to happen. Though Lois Lane needs to get a brain in her head! Her throwing away Batman’s spear made me nuts! I know it had a plot reason behind it but for pete’s sake woman, hold on to that! You KNOW they’re going to need it later.

Besides that, watching costumed superhero’s duke it out always fills me with geek-ish glee. I LOVE IT. Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, together at last.

The Haters

There have been a lot of bad reviews of Superman v. Batman and I get it, some people are just Hell-bent on hating on the movie, just like they did with Man of Steel and that is totally their prerogative. In my (humble) opinion, they’re wrong. This is a good movie. It’s a lot of fun in it’s own dark way, but it’s a great addition to the superhero genre of films. Is it for everybody? No. Some people are going to really hate it (as we’ve seen) and some people are going to really love it. It’s that kind of movie I think, you either really love it or you really hate it. But don’t let the critics make that decision for you, go, see for yourself if you’re so inclined and decide for yourself.

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Did you see Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice? What did you think??? 

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The Female Perspective: Superhero Toys For Girls Are Here!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


I’ve written before about the lack of superhero toys for girls. The almost complete absence of Black Widow merchandise for the last few Captain America and Avengers movies has been insulting to say the least. That seems to be changing for the better, thank goodness!

After a fairly big backlash against Hasbro for not having Rey toys from the newest Star Wars film (which they rectified asap after giving us all the lame excuse that it would give away plot secrets, puh-leese) we have recently been made aware that they will FINALLY have Black Widow toys to align with the Captain America: Civil War and I am pleased as punch.

One of the few Rey toys released prior to the film. (Courtesy of Erik Kain from Forbes.com/http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/01/25/excluding-rey-from-star-wars-the-force-awakens-toys-is-really-dumb/#37119cb55c1a)
One of the few Rey toys released prior to the film. (Courtesy of Erik Kain from Forbes.com/http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/01/25/excluding-rey-from-star-wars-the-force-awakens-toys-is-really-dumb/#37119cb55c1a)

I remember when I was a kid being sorely disappointed in the lack of superhero toys for girls. I had every single Princess Leia figure there was (wish I still had them!) and one lone Boba Fett, but my brother had all the other characters so we managed to make it work (when we were getting along), but I struggle to remember any other toys that I could have played with as a child, sure there was She-Ra, female Thundercats characters and the like, but I spent a lot of time playing with My Little Pony and Barbie toys, I just made them into superheroes. They rocked some pretty awesome ensembles, except for JEM because darn her, she was twice the size of Barbie so they couldn’t share their clothes! Ahh the trials and tribulations of a small child…

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that I am REALLY happy to see the growing hoard of positive superhero toys for girls, but more than that, Black Widow is finally getting her due. Is this because of the upcoming appearance of Wonder Woman in the Batman/Superman movie? Does Marvel finally see that DC might have the beat in terms of movie merchandise? Because DC hasn’t had much of an issue with making sure WW makes her presence known in toy aisles. Of course, WW is a much more well-known and established character in the minds of young girls/grown woman. Hard to say, but regardless, accordion to Movieweb.com Black Widow will be “dominating” the toy markets with the release of the newest Marvel movie monster.

Leading up to the release of last summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, a controversy started brewing when none of Marvel’s merchandise for the movie featured Scarlett Johansson’s popular character Black Widow. The studioseems to have learned from its past mistakes, with Entertainment Weekly unveiling a slew of new products for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War, which prominently feature this beloved character. These items even correct a few mistakes from the Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise. –Movieweb.com

YAY! The first time I saw Black Widow I was impressed with her general bad-assery and I was totally confused by her lack of presence for toys. Newsflash world, little girls like to play with toys based on their role models! Sure, I enjoyed playing with the “boy” toys all the time, Han Solo was one of my fave’s from Star Wars and I preferred some He-Man characters over my She-Ra dolls (but She-Ra toys really did rock, again, where did those go???? I’d almost kill to have them back!). I don’t believe that toys need to be segregated into boy and girl toys, I think they should just be TOYS. Some girls like to play with cars and swords, some boys like to play with Barbie, nothing should be taboo and it would be great to see all stores adopt the toy aisle idea, rather than splitting them between the sexes.

Black Widow will feature prominently in the toy marketing of "Captain America: Civil War", a big change after Marvel received a lot of complaints for her lack of presence in previous movies toy marketing campaigns.
Black Widow will feature prominently in the toy marketing of “Captain America: Civil War”, a big change after Marvel received a lot of complaints for her lack of presence in previous movies toy marketing campaigns.

Regardless, I am also impressed with Target’s newest line of toys, from DC Comics we have a pretty awesome line of female superhero toys. They range from Batgirl to Harley Quinn but I have ONE issue with them, in every description it says, “DC Hero Girls Action Figure” – leave off the girls and it would be perfection I say, but even that’s nit-picking. These toys are kind of amazing and I would totally want these if I was a kid (I kind of want them as an “adult)!

Target's newest line of Superhero toys is pretty awesome and girl-centric!
Target’s newest line of Superhero toys is pretty awesome and girl-centric!

I am happy to see that even in the short time I’ve been writing this blog, that positive changes like this are happening in the toy world. Those marketing people are starting to see that woman/girls/ladies do in fact like toys, they buy them, they collect them and it is more then appropriate that they become a part of the marketing machine of the big comic blockbusters coming up this year.

Change is slow but it IS happening.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go play with my toys.

Did you have a favorite toy as a child? What do you think of Target’s new line of Superhero toys? Sound off about toys in the comments section!

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The Female Perspective: This Halloween, Be Sexy, Be Powerful, Don’t Be Slutty

Welcome! This is the weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.


I was thinking about my blog for this week and wondering what kind of goodness I wanted to write about and eventually I thought about how Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. There’s something about the air that’s different, it’s cooler (well, usually. Right now it’s a tad warm in Rhode Island) and it’s just … weirder. So I started thinking, what are some great costumes for the feminist lady? Can it be sexy? Can it be daring? Will it still be feminist if you show off your good bits?

I think the answer can be yes though I admit it makes me feel a little bit weird saying that. I’m not someone who loves the “slutty” costume series and a lot of them really just look ridiculous (does anyone buy these???) but I also think that people should dress up as whatever they want. If it makes them feel good, who am I to judge? Then I think to myself, the real problem isn’t the risqué costumes, it’s the term “slutty” – that seems to be a quick and not-s0-subtle way for us women to degrade ourselves while doing something as simple as getting a Halloween costume.

Let me suggest some alternatives to being a Sexy Disney Character (ick) or other so-called “slutty” costume.

To each their own but something about a sexy Snow White gives me the creepy crawlies.
To each their own but something about a sexy Snow White gives me the creepy crawlies.

#1) Rosie The Riveter

Smart & Sassy.
Smart & Sassy.

How can you go wrong with this badass lady? Not only is the costume SUPER easy to make, it’s also really recognizable either as the “Yes We Can!” lady or Rosie. No matter what, you’ll look smart, sexy, powerful and be super comfortable.

Am I one of the only people who want their costumes to be comfortable along with looking awesome? I’m okay with it if I am, just thought I’d ask.

#2) A Suffragette

And it's perfect for the upcoming release of the movie "Suffragette"!
And it’s perfect for the upcoming release of the movie “Suffragette”!

You might be going, huh? What? Is that some weird toy or cosplay? Nope! In case you didn’t know, women didn’t always have the right to vote and it’s because of these brave women (aka suffragette’s) that we can vote and enjoy the rights we have today. Not only is it an unusual costume, it’s also pretty cool, you can wear a vintage dress and wear a SASH without having to be a beauty queen or … um, sash model. Seriously, who else other than beauty queens wear sashes?

#3) Any Awesomely Famous Women From History/Pop Culture

Honestly, these are as easy as pie (mmm…pie). You can go as Frida Kahlo and sport a fabulous uni-brow that will certainly catch all the glances. Not to mention, as Frida you can wear beautiful, colorful, flowing clothing and really show off your artistic side.

If you are more into movie/TV icons you can go as a S.H.I.E.L.D Agent and go around kicking people’s butts or grabbing that hot guy dressed as Thor and tell him you want him to join the S.H.I.E.L.D initiative – it’s a perfect pick up line for the single gal!

You can also go with more traditional fare like a fully dressed Disney princess, the Queen or even my personal fave, Buffy The Vampire Slayer or get really tough with your best Furiosa costume!

Buffy Costumes - totally DIY awesome!
Buffy Costumes – totally DIY awesome!

There are so many awesome options for Halloween costumes that DON’T involve showing off every bit of skin you can get away with but still be powerful and in full command of your sexuality. Don’t sell yourself short by picking something “slutty” – I can promise you that you are better than that.

Halloween is a time to express the side you never get to express. It’s a time to dress up in a way you’ve always wanted to, but thought might be disapproved of. Go Goth, Emo, Punk, Prairie Lady, whatever makes YOU feel good.  If that means showing some skin, then go with it, but do me a favor, don’t call yourself a “Slutty” anything. If someone tells you that you are dressed as a Slutty Nurse just because your skirt is short or you’re showing some cleavage, make sure to correct them and say you are a Nurse, plain and simple. Calling ourselves “slutty” is what I object to. I think it’s degrading and it cheapens any effort we put into dressing up for a party. We are more than our body parts ladies. We are more than our cleavage and our booty. We are powerful, we are sexy, we are smart and we are worth respecting ourselves.

This is so cool! I wish it was my costume!
This is so cool! I wish it was my costume!

This Halloween, dress as you want, have fun with it, be daring, but most of all, be the powerful Universal force you truly are. Don’t sell yourself short by being slutty. Show the world that you can be both powerful AND sexy and that being sexy does not mean you’re not feminist. Being sexy is about harnessing your inner Goddess and rolling with it. Not about being cheap. You’re all brilliant, now show off that brilliance this Halloween!

What are YOU going as for Halloween? Tell me in the comments!