I Used To Write

My body and particularly my mind are both conspiring to remind me, quite forcibly, what insomnia feels like. I have decided I will not let them win. I have decided, seeing as my mind has been casting back over particular memories, to write.

When I was much younger, barely a lad in Secondary school really, I read a book that startled and amazed me. I’m not the sort of person who would lightly use the words ‘life changing’ when describing a book but if you stick with this entry to the end you might realise why I readily call Jeff Noon‘s ‘Vurt’ a life-changer.
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What’s So Bad About Suicide Squad, Then?

This is a question I get asked a lot. I am vocal about my dislike of Adam Glass’ take on the Suicide Squad and on Harley Quinn in particular. My reason is, largely, one of continuity. You see, the Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad is unrecognisable as the Harley Quinn of DC’s history. There’s been a relaunch with the new 52, yes and that’s a valid argument. My counter-argument is that Harley’s changes seem far more substantive to the nature of the character than most other characters’ have been. Whilst there have been fundamental changes to the character we can sum it all up with costume changes.

Superman Side By Side

Superman’s red trunks are gone, there’s more definition to his suit but over all, he’s Superman. No question about it.

Batman Side By Side

Batman is Batman.

Wonder Woman Side By Side

Wonder Woman’s a tricky one, having gone through a last-minute costume revision just before the relaunch but she’s still Wonder Woman. A little silver in place of bronze, back to trunks instead of pants… she’s Wonder Woman. If anything, more iconic after the relaunch as her ‘new 52’ look is closer to the classic than her Odyssey style.

Though not pictured, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Black Canary and many others are still recognisably true to themselves with tweaks rather than changes made to their looks.

Harley Quinn Side By Side

Harley is… gone. The argument used by DC is she’s been brought more in line with the book’s tone and Rocksteady’s look for Harley in the Arkham Noun games. I have the Arkham City figure stood infront of me as I write this and I see a blonde haired, flesh-tone skinned girl in a black and red diamond-patterned outfit. It’s not her classic look but it’s closer than the abomination we see monthly in Suicide Squad. That said, if it’s to bring it in line with the book’s tone… I’ll buy it. You see, the tone of Suicide Squad is ‘confused mess without any sense of continuity’.

Can I back that up? Read on…
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Cats and Birds

Meaningless, Stupid Things

So, when I’m writing about DC comics lately I’m trying to avoid spoilers. For the issue I’m talking about. Issues about previous weeks’ issues are pretty unavoidable, though. That said…

I was tempted to start with a complaint that the DC release schedule seems to be set up in such a way that week by week my favourite characters are forcing me to reassess which are my favourite books in the relaunch. Then, after a moment’s thought I realised… that’s not a bad thing, that’s a fantastic thing! I can’t remember, before the relaunch, the last time that my favourite books and favourite characters were jostling for position multiple times in a month. When I was this engaged with the stories and characters.
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Give Us Back Our Harley

“The thought was, let’s see her operate outside of the Joker, not being obsessed 24/7,”
Adam Glass, Writer of Suicide Squad 2011, TV Guide Interview

This is a fantastic idea. It was a fantastic idea in Gotham City Sirens, the recently ended serial telling the story of Harley, Selina and Pamela trying to rub along together as friends. It was a fantastic idea in Harley & Ivy, the serial that saw the eponymous duo getting into misadventures. It was a good idea in Harley Quinn when she worked with Harvey Dent, in Secret Six… a good idea but not an original one. Adam’s bold statement of the thought behind the Suicide Squad rendition of Harley Quinn just belies a woeful lack of understanding of who Harley is and her history in the DC universe.

“She’s still funny, she’s still sexy, she’s still a little crazy. This is Harley if she’s moved away from home, her chance to shine on her own.”
Adam Glass, Writer of Suicide Squad 2011, TV Guide Interview

To take your points in order, Adam.

1) No, she isn’t. Humour is a subjective thing, admittedly, but Harley is not what she was. She should be a jester, who fell for the Joker because he made everything funny. It was all for laughs. It put a smile on her face. Harley is a ray of sunshine. Psychotically deranged sunshine. I haven’t seen any evidence of this in the new 52.

2) Harley’s sexiness did not come from her wardrobe, ever. Even when she got out of her iconic costume in Gotham City Sirens and dressed casually the appeal didn’t come from her wardrobe. Harley’s outfit in the first two issues of Suicide Squad was not sexy. There was nothing alluring about it, it was just sexual which is a different thing entirely.

3) Maybe she is still a little crazy. Actually, if she’s calling anyone but Mistah J “puddin'” then she’s clearly lost her mind completely. What she isn’t, though, is skating on the edge of madness, laughing at the absurdity of it all as she goes.

In short, the character presented in Suicide Squad is unrecognisable. Not least because Harley Quinn isn’t clown white, she wears clown white. Whilst I have no problem at all with her pursuing other romantic interests, I do have an issue with her calling Deadshot “puddin'”. Mr J is puddin’. Ivy is ‘Red’. Selina is ‘Kitty’. Harley nicknames the people precious to her. Are we supposed to think she’s gone so far past the boundries of sanity that she thinks Deadshot IS Joker?

It would seem that the team behind the book know what’s up here, too. The sudden and inexplicable (not to mention unexplained and unremarked) costume change between books 2 and 3 is a clear sign of retreat and acknowledgement that mistakes were made. Keep acknowledging it, guys. One of the most unique, delightful and charming villains of the DC universe’s fate hangs in the balance. Give us Harley Quinn, the real Harley Quinn. Trust me, we’ll all be better off.

“Ha! And here you thought I was just another bubble-headed blonde bimbo. Well, the jokes on you! I’m not even a real blonde!”
– Harley Quinn, Harlequinade

No, Harles, sorry, you’re not… for some reason you’re a half-black haired, half-red haired caricature of yourself. But hang in there. Writers come and go but great characters are forever. I hope.

And Then I Fell In Love With Batwoman

Friends of mine, who know my personal history with this sort of thing, will probably get a chuckle out of my falling for the openly lesbian member of DC’s costumed hero lineup. To them and to the world I say, not that kind of love.

Until this week’s releases I had a very clear idea of my favourite books in the DCnU lineup.

  1. Batgirl
  2. Catwoman
  3. Batwoman

One thing that’s obvious right away is that these are all women. If I can bring you back from your stunned, shocked revelry I’ll hold my hands up and say that as far as I’m concerned that’s not a coincidence. You see for a man to deal with his problems with physical superiority and even violence is pretty much the defacto expectation. When a woman does it, it’s subverting the stereotypes. Subversion is always more fun than convention. Not to mention these characters all have little wrinkles that make their ‘so I put on a costume and fought back’ story a little more interesting. The recovering invalid, the anti-hero criminal and the openly gay. Oh and they’re also well written books. Let’s not forget that.

However, right now, the list has been reordered.

  1. Batwoman
  2. Batgirl
  3. Catwoman

Sorry, Selina.
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On The Brink Of Something


Brink was a game that I had followed with some interest. Its’ setting and surrounding story could have been almost written with me in mind. Set in a dystopic future where a utopian floating city called The Arc has collapsed under the burden of the needy and desperate into out-and-out civil war. It’s reminiscent of the floating city state in Snow Crash.

Of course this is all set dressing. The grist of the game is the conflict between The Arc’s ‘Security’ and ‘Resistance’, the rag tag group who are forced to live in the shipping container and rusting-hull shanty towns that surround the city proper.

Then there’s the fact that what we’re looking at is an 8 vs 8, class-based conflict with staggered objectives through interesting and fascinating environments built with idTech. It’s not as special as the hype from Splash Damage and Bethesda may have had you believe, but it’s good solid gameplay of a kind I enjoy.

This all combined to make a game that seemed right up my alley. Then they revealed their parkour system. A button that when held down not only makes you character sprint but also enables them to freely traverse the environment, free-running style. I was a huge Mirror’s Edge booster and I’m a fan of the environment navigation in Assassin’s Creed. I was hooked.

Then I second guessed myself.

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