Hey Kids, Comics! #3 - Women in Comics

“The women!” – Mr. Spock (The Cage)

Welcome to the latest issue of Hey Kids, Comics!  In our third big show Andrew and Cole delve into the roles that women have played in the history and production of comics.  As characters the “fairer sex” has been portrayed in every way from the (constantly) kidnapped girlfriend to the powerful heroine in the forefront of the action.   In comics women have been heroes, villains, and common folk who’s lives cross with those of the super-powered for good or ill.  The hyper-babe with exaggerated features of female perfection shares a common history with strong and realistic characters who would be right at home in the real world.

But the role of women in comics goes beyond the printed page.  Female creators and fans alike have increasingly made their mark on the comic book scene.  This issue of HKC pays homage to their contributions and presence as well.  From the four color panels to the production and consumption thereof, women have been a part of comics from the outset and they are celebrated here. 
So sit back and enjoy the fun as our intrepid heroes as they are joined by their first special guest, Jasmine Wolf (who’s voice you will definitely be hearing again and often on the JCU Network), as they delve into the long history of comic book femme fatales and those who create and follow them.

The JediCole Universe Presents: Rising to the Occassion - Thoughts Immediately Following "The Dark Knight Rises" Screening

It's a Saturday night after a couple of exhausting days and the only thing on my mind is finally getting to a theatre to see The Dark Knight Rises!  Mrs. JediCole and I, along with our friend Cailin, managed to get out and do just that at a 7 PM screening.  Immediately after Mrs. JediCole suggested that we record a reveiw and despite the long days that preceeded viewing the latest Batman movie and the late hour at which we began, that suggestion became the recording you are about to hear.

This reveiw contains minimal editiing to maintain the organic, in the moment feel of three people talking up an incredible movie they just enjoyed.  So now you can be a part of the conversation in real time...

Announcing the Official JediCole Universe Forums!

And it’s about time!

While there is an invitation to post comments on the articles and podcasts you find on the JCU site, however the configuration of the comment tag has made it impossible for anyone to follow through.  And of course comment posting allows for only minimal interaction between those who read the articles and listen to the shows.  So I have found a solution to help make this site more fan community oriented – forums!

Beginning today you can start or join in on discussions on a variety of topics on the JediCole Universe Forums (click here to see them).  Several categories have been preassigned but naturally I can’t anticipate everything.  Feel free to discuss all aspects of fandom here and if you feel a new category is needed, write to me here.

You must register to use the JCU Forums but it is fast and free!  Once you have registered you can become an active member of these forums.  The purpose of these forums is to provide a venue for comments and suggestions regarding the site and its content as well as a place for fans to discuss what has them excited at present.  Be it the latest Hollywood blockbuster or just an announcement about a really cool event in your area, everything fandom is welcome here. 

This is a fan-friendly community and I emphasize friendly here the most.  Differences of opinion are bound to occur in a community of such diverse tastes and that is perfectly acceptable.  What will not be tolerated is personal attacks or “flaming” of forum users who’s views vary from your own.  Please also refrain from inflammatory posts on politics, religion, and other social issues that are out of context with this site and its content.  Trust me, there are plenty of forums on the Internet for that.  And finally, keep your posts clean, this is a family friendly site which ideally will be frequented by fans of all ages.

So register today and join the fun.  The forums are a bit underutilized at present but the more fans who register and post, the more the categories will become fleshed out.

Cole “JediCole” Houston

What Would Comic Book Villains Do? (WWCBVD?) Week 8

Welcome to the eighth installment of What Would Comic Book Villains Do?  After seven rounds and 42 different villains chiming in we are on quite a roll.  For the most part only Marvel and DC villains have been invited.  So in the interest of fairness I am making an effort to more consistently open the floor to nefarious characters from a few more companies who will now be joining their counterparts from the “Big Two”.

Scenario: A close friend of yours is has been trying to stop drinking and been going to various programs and groups to help in the process.  But recently you have seen him going to a local bar every few days.  Being concerned about his goals to stay sober what approach do you take to help him if he is having trouble reaching those goals?

The Clown:  I’m a very proactive type when it comes to my friends.  If there is something needs doing then I am the one to do it!  Just ask Malebolgia!  He say’s I’m a go-to kinda guy!  So this friend of mine is going to a bar is he?  And this is how he’s gonna stop drinkin’?  Well there is only one way to handle a situation like that in my book.  First I set the bar on fire.  But from the back side, you see, that way everybody inside has to run out the front door.  Then I watch for my buddy in the crowd, after I stop laughing hysterically at everyone fleeing the joint, and run up to him all concerned like and tell him it’s a good thing he’s on the wagon and all.  He could have been one of those poor saps I just saw staggering out of the place when it went up like a matchbook!  Of course if this doesn’t work out with a combination of shame and danger and he starts goin’ to a different bar then I’ll just make it a little harder to get out until he’s finally sober.  Or dead.

Shocker:  I have a tried and true method for helping people stick to their goals.  Or do what I say.  Or get out of my way in traffic.  Or stop talking during a movie.  Or give me all the money in the drawers and the vault.  Two words: shock treatment!  Yeah, it works for just about everything!

Penguin:  It is always a shame when someone loses sight of what they want and need to do for their own good.  But Oswald Cobblepot is nothing if not loyal to his friends!  I would invite the poor soul over to the Penguin’s Nest for an intervention.  Once you wander off a path you need the help of good friends to guide you back.  The method I employ in these situations is my Twelve Umbrella Program.  Of course if that should fail, as it usually does, I have the Magpie Aversion Therapy Program as a backup.  This utilizes a trained magpie that perches on the shoulder of the alcoholic and pecks his head voraciously if he even attempts to take a drink.  Now I just need to train my magpies to differentiate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages!

Immortus:  After I have determined what possessed me to allow someone, anyone, to become a friend with myself I would formulate a plan to use my dominion over time to intervene in a way that is truly beneficial.  Perhaps I would transport him to ancient Greece just to mess with his mind.  Nothing is quite so much fun as watching a displaced soul wandering through the forum of a city like Athens or Pixos.  Lost in another country and another time with all of their vaunted modern conveniences lost to them.  Or perhaps I might just push them forward in time to the day after they planned to go to the bar.  This is always a good one if the day of they planned to go to the bar was the only one they had free that week.  If not a full day into the future, even just a few hours can throw things off if it is after “last call”.  I am really starting to like this intervention thing after all! 

Sportsmaster:  It really depends.  If its one of those old-timey bars where grizzled old guys sit around and drink themselves blotto or worse yet one of those pretentious wine bars I’d have some issues.  Who wants to go to a place like that?  I mean one is depressing and the other is really off-putting!  Have you seen the guys in those wine bars?  What a bunch of self-important jerks!  Now if it is a good old fashioned sports bar, well that’s another story.  When I’m not knocking them over for their cash I like to kick back and watch whatever’s on the screens.  The best is when there’s a baseball game or two, plus something different like soccer or cricket and then maybe one of those “World’s Strongest Man” competitions on the various TVs all at once.  Now in a case like that I’d be right in there with him, throwing back some brews and talking about how he really needs to quit!  We’d have some laughs and enjoy the game and take a cab back to my hideout to try to recover.  If it was one of those other types of bars I’d probably just smack him with a polo mallet and tell him to stick to the plan!

Vermin:  You really need to fire whoever books these things.  I live in a sewer!  And contrary to cartoons, you don’t make a lot of friends living down there!  I spend most of my time trying to find enough food to sustain my existence and of course plotting new ways to kill Spider-Man.  That really leaves little “me time” to cultivate friendships.  Oh sure, I’ve made the odd alliances, but those are usually spur of the moment and always of the teaming-up-to-kill-Spider-Man variety.  I suppose if one of the more gregarious rats or albino alligators I sometimes call friends (more often pets, but that is really more for dramatic effect if someone like Daredevil or that blasted Spider-Man is down here) were to be trying to clean up I would offer to be someone to call on in moments of weakness.  Perhaps I could help shepherd my sewer dwelling friend through  the long process of drying out and staying sober.  That is the kind of thing that would really make me feel good about myself the next time I am beating myself up about my inability to kill Spider-Man.  SPIDER-MANNNNNNNNNN! 

Hey Kids, Comics! #2 - What's So Bad About Human Sexuality?

“I prefer the dirty version!” – A nun on Monty Python’s Flying Circus just before being knocked out by a boxer.

In an often socially uptight culture like that we have here in America, sex can be a major point of contention.  From nudity on television to movie stars and newscasters being “outed”, there is always some aspect of human sexuality that causes controversy and leads to heated debate.  Comic books are no exception to the rule.  In fact, given their origins as “funny books” marketed more toward children than adults, many still cannot grasp the modern comics industry that has increasingly recognized a much more mature readership.  As a result, the introduction of sexuality into comic plotlines is often the most controversial move.
In this issue Andrew and Cole take a look at sexuality in comics.  Are publishers maturing with their readers in their approach to human (or in some cases super-human) sexuality or does it all just come down to using controversy to make an extra buck.  The high-profile revelation that Green Lantern is gay brought DC Comics tremendous media attention and got the hero back in the public eye.  But to what end?  This and other issues surrounding sex and sexuality in comics are the focus of this amazing new issue of Hey Kids, Comics!

A Not So Long Time Ago: 1988

Monday, July 16, 2012 is an important milestone for me, JediCole. 

It was 24 years ago that Mrs. JediCole and I got married.  While she was a lifelong Trekkie (and yes, we are old enough to use the proper Gene Roddenberry-endorsed term), Catherine certainly embraced my love of Star Wars.  As she often says, "I married into it."  While that is often the case with spouses of Star Wars fans, in her case she added Star Wars to her repertoire!  She was even the one who suggested the JediCole name in the first place! 

No, we did not have a Star Wars-themed wedding or anything like that.  We do have a bit of a disconnect from our fandom, but we do still celebrate Star Trek and Star Wars as very much a part of our lives.  As well as comics, movies, TV shows, and that intrepid band of which we are a part, the United States of Geekdom!  Not to mention the over 20 years we have teamed up as convention vendors, content partners, and promoters plus two amazing years operating the A Piece of the Action Collectibles Mini Store in Arlington.

And now we ask that you join us in celebrating 24 years of marriage and all the amazing things that have happened and great friends we have made in that time.

Thank you for everything Mrs. JediCole!

Jedi Justification #3 - Midichlorians are Magic!

The Tiny Side of the Force
The most difficult subject of justification to be offered up the Star Wars film franchise is the presence of the Midichlorians in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace.  While the opening salvo of Lucas’ war on his fans presented no end of reasons for even the most die-hard follower of the Saga to blanch, there was one little element that outshone a whiney would-be Vader, a Keyop-style Gungan, and a racial undertones that left audience cringing.  That was of course the revelation that the Force was in fact not an energy field that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together but rather a prolific colony of microorganisms that cause the most beneficial infection in movie history.

The prequel trilogy suffers heavily from the huge span of years that separate its release dates from those of the original films.  Like siblings born decades apart they are children of decidedly different eras.  The original trilogy harkens back to rotary phones, tube televisions, and practical filmmaking technique while its little brother is of an age of cell phones, flat screen televisions, and characters, set pieces, and other elements on screen that never existed in the physical world.  

But it also takes its influence from a post-Star Trek The Next Generation era.  When I first encountered the Midichlorians on screen I felt that Michael Okuda had to be listed as one of the screenwriters!  This attempt to provide a scientific explanation to how and why the Force is possible reeked of TNG’s constant espousal of logical explanations for the seemingly impossible.  But with one major difference, Star Trek writers sought to make the technology more real, the Force is mysticism.  To explain away the power of the underpinnings of the religion of the Jedi by simply putting the Force under a microscope successfully took the teeth out of the Force in the way Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christiansen’s lackluster performances as Anakin Skywalker defanged the once menacing Darth Vader.

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

With all of that established, how could I possibly find a way to reconcile myself with these pointless little microbes?  So pointless in fact that I have dubbed them “The Amazing Appearing/Disappearing Midichlorians”!  After such a heavy-handed introduction in Episode 1, with both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan marveling at the levels of the little Force-bugs in Anakin’s bloodstream, they exited the ongoing narrative as quickly and more effectively than the Japoor snippet gifted to Padme.  At least that found its way out of the vastly LucasFilm Archives long enough to make a cameo at Amidalla’s funeral in Episode 3! 

 The rather abrupt removal of so much as a passing mention of Midicholrians in two thirds of the prequels trilogy, while clearly a conceit to fans, becomes rather troublesome when it comes to justifying their existence in the first place.  While seemingly vital to the discovery of “the Chosen One”, they were remanded to a veritable oubliette of the Saga thereafter.  But fear not!  The Ever-Ticking Brain of JediCole has found the answer to this puzzling Star Wars conundrum – the late Qui-Gon Jinn.

As with all of the justifications I have made over the years, the answers always seem to present themselves within the body of the films themselves.  While I am often at odds with those steeped in the Expanded Universe, I do not need to cite disparate sources to make my case.  And in this particular instance I need look no further than Obi-Wan’s master.  It is really Qui-Gon who is at the forefront of the entire Midichlorian issue.  He is the one who explains the entire connection between the one-celled sentients and the Force.  He is the one who orders the blood test to check his hunch and the character who most often reminds us of their presence in the Star Wars universe.  But then of course Obi-Wan is seemingly complicit in all of this at first glance.  He does remark with some surprise that Anakin’s Midichorian count is higher event than that of Yoda after all.  But watch closely during Qui-Gon’s explanation of the Midichlorians and you will see a kind of dismissive expression cross his Padawan’s face.  Is Obi-Wan doubting his own master’s view of the Force?

I would suggest that yes, indeed he is subtly expressing a personal distaste for this particular view of the Jedi beliefs.  This, coupled with the fact that after Qui-Gon’s demise all mention of the Midichlorians seems to be excised from the Saga,  speaks volumes in justification of both their presence in, and abrupt disappearance from, this trilogy.  I would suggest that an order as large and venerable as the Jedi would easily have dissenting schools of thought emerge throughout its ranks.  According to Obi-Wan in his twilight years the Jedi had been a vital part of the life and times of the galaxy for thousands of years.  In that time a scholarly and thoughtful religious organization as the Jedi would have seen many factions emerge and disappear.  As they certainly embrace technology as well as the mysteries of the Force, there is no doubt that a great many Jedi devote their time and their brains to the study of all things.  In the course of such studies a remarkable corollary between the natural and mystical realms would have been identified. 

A Certain Point of View

It seems natural to assume that there could be a microorganism that occurs naturally in all sentient beings galaxy-wide.  The existence of such a phenomenon would have been fairly common knowledge, but it would take a concerted survey to reveal that those adept in the Force, and thereby ideal candidates for the Jedi order, have a greater concentration of these  microbes, dubbed Midichlorians, in their bloodstream.  It then becomes more a step than a leap of logic to connect these microscopic entities directly to the energy field that not only exists in the galaxy but which can be tapped by those adept at its control.  In time a faction of the more scientifically inclined Jedi would spearhead a movement that embraced the Midichlorians as the source of the Jedi’s power and as the messengers of the Force itself. 

This would be a view not shared by most of the Jedi.  Indeed there would be other factions who had their own approach to understanding the nature and power of the Force.  While there would be an overall belief system in common, each sub-faction of the Jedi would hold fast to their unique beliefs as well and likely share them at will with their brothers whether they cared to hear such views or not.  Such was the case with Qui-Gon, a Jedi already often at odds with the governing Council for his radical thoughts and deeds.  As a Jedi steeped in the belief that the Midichlorians were the key to understanding the Force, Anakin Skywalker’s alleged immaculate birth and scale-busting Midichlorian count would undoubtedly appear to him, and indeed any other Jedi who shared his beliefs, the very picture of the prophesied Chosen One.  And while his particular take on the Force may not have been in keeping with that of many on the Jedi Council, they were all no less impressed with the possibilities presented by the boy.

Gone Like Qui-Gon

As we know, Qui-Gon Jinn met his end at the hands (and double-bladed lightsaber) of Darth Maul in the curious power generator of Theed Castle.  While Obi-Wan Kenobi lost a friend and mentor, the Star Wars saga lost its most vocal proponent of Midichlorians.  While undoubtedly Qui-Gon was not alone in this belief, he was the only one of his faction to appear in the tales chronicled on screen.  So with his death, so died the open dialogue on the Midichlorians themselves.  Simply put, they did not disappear from the saga, they were simply never spoken of again.  This is supported further by Obi-Wan’s explanation of the Force to Anakin’s adult son many years after the death of his former master.  Clearly Obi-Wan always held fast to the more prevailing view that the Force is something beyond the understanding of man, yet within the reach of those who know how to tap into its power.  The elder Kenobi, like Vader himself during the battle of the first Death Star, could sense Luke’s connection to that energy field without the necessity of any lab work.

Qui-Gon Jinn’s comfortable folding of science and religion into his personal belief system may well have contributed to a previously undeveloped use of the Force as mentioned in passing by Yoda a the end of Episode 3, but that is the stuff of another Jedi Justification.  For now I will content myself with laying to rest the compelling issue of the arrival and equally inexplicable departure of the Midichlorians from the prequel saga.  While their presence in the Star Wars universe seemed a bit contrived, I have made peace with the little critters and can now welcome them as a part of the Saga. 

Look for the next Jedi Justifications in about a month when I tackle the tricky issue of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s seeming cop-out about his deceit regarding the secret of Darth Vader as Luke’s father.  And if you are troubled by any seeming inconsistencies within the on-screen Star Wars universe, please feel free to drop me a line here and I will apply my own “certain point of view” to bring you a reasonable justification.  

A Super Thank You to a Super Super-Hero!

The following people have (collectively) four thumbs AND the SDCC Exclusive Marvel Universe Masters of Evil boxed set – Hey Kids, Comics’ own Andrew Farmer and Cole Houston!  And this all thanks to the magnanimous assistance of their favorite super-hero, PurrKayla!

PurrKayla is the feline super-hero who always lands on her feet and is the official super-hero of the United States of Geekdom.  And on Friday, July 13, 2012 she was prowling the show floor at the San Diego Comic Con with the Mattel booth in her cat-like sights.  She crept up and pounced on a pair of these great exclusives and obtained them on behalf of your intrepid (and SDCC deprived) co-hosts.  She really made their day when she phoned call direct from San Diego with the news. 

Her generosity and willingness to jump paws first into the toughest assignments have made PurrKayla something of a legend.  We are very lucky to count her and her human Tom among our friends.  Thank you guys! 
- Cole and Andrew (and everyone at The JediCole Universe)

"Hey Kids, Comics!" #1 - The Saga Begins

I had once come across a quote that was attributed to a book review by none other than Abraham Lincoln, “For those who like this sort of thing, it is just the sort of thing they like.”  While I’ve never confirmed the veracity of this being an actual quote of the famous President, I have adopted it as a universally sarcastic way to express a personal dislike of or indifference to something without dismissing it outright.  As I reflected on the discussions the make up this first issue of Hey Kids, Comics! I could not help but have this phrase cross my mind.  The particulars as to why will become clear as you listen to the premiere issue of this podcast. 
What begins here is our first story arc, “Comic Shop Confidential”, over the course of which Andrew and I will be hopping from one hot-button issue in comics to another.  From storylines and creators to social issues and the fan base, the first five issues of this series will provide some thoughtful commentary.  The insightful, sometimes controversial, discussions that make up this inaugural arc should get comic book fans really thinking about the medium they love.  – Cole Houston, HKC! Co-Host

And now, without further ado, Andrew Farmer proudly presents Hey Kids, Comics #1: Why I Hate Fanboys!   

Apologies in advance for any echo at the begining of the recording, it does clear up rather quickly.

"Hey Kids, Comics!" #0 is Here!

Welcome to the (technically) first issue of Hey Kids, Comics!  As this episode is an introduction to this brand new podcast the numbering will start at zero.  That and as a kind of tribute to the trend toward #0 issues back in the 90s.  This is a comic book-themed show after all.
And on that subject, you might well be wondering what kind of comic book show you have discovered here.  Many answers await you in this episode to be sure.  It is definitely not simply a place to hear about all the latest issues of your favorite titles, described and reviewed ad nauseum.  Hey Kids, Comics! is more an exploration of every aspect of comics, from characters and titles to publishers and fans.  This show will provide engaging discussions about comics, the industry that creates them, and the teeming millions worldwide who are both customer and fan base for that industry.  In the coming weeks  you will be able to enjoy explorations of this kind through episodic story arcs that cover a specific theme with one-shot issues between each new arc.

So again, welcome to the first issue of Hey Kids, Comics!, your podcast comic book magazine show.  Series host Andrew Farmer is joined each week by Cole Houston as they talk comics from a broad base of personal experience and vastly different tastes. 

We sincerely hope that you enjoy the show and join us for each weekly episode of HKC! throughout the year.  And be sure to engage in conversations about the show with fellow listeners in the forums for The JediCole Universe.

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