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GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Superman, Supergirl & a Princess

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Supergirl #32. Art by Ray McCarthy and Emanuela Lupacchino © DC Comics.

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week, Kelly introduces us to Red Lantern Supergirl and Corrina looks over Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.’s  Superman #32. Me? I’m excited to check out an awesome new all-ages comic book with a strong female lead, Princess Ugg. 

Kelly Knox — Supergirl #32 written by Tony Bedard and drawn by Ray McCarthy and Emanuela Lupacchino

DC Comics’ New 52 is not a happy place at the moment. Superman is not himself lately, Wonder Woman has her hands full on Themyscira, and Batman… well, Batman is never happy, so that doesn’t really count. Meanwhile, Supergirl is now a Red Lantern, the embodiment of rage. I haven’t kept up with her series at all since the New 52, but the premise sounded interesting, so I picked up Supergirl #32 on a whim last week.

Kara Zor-El is mad at anybody and everybody, but this week she’s particularly upset with Guy Gardner (sporting a much better haircut lately), who wants her red ring of rage removed. On her way back to Earth, she encounters a foe called the Worldkiller, who is hiding a secret that just might be Supergirl’s undoing.

Supergirl is formidable as she is, but adding a Red Lantern ring turns her into an almost unstoppable force. A force powered by teen rage, so look out, universe. I had been planning on waiting until this “Red Daughter of Krypton” story line was collected into a graphic novel to read the entire story, but I’m so intrigued that I might not be able to wait that long.

Dakster Sullivan — Princess Ugg #2 written and drawn by Ted Naifeh

Princess Ugg #2 - Page 2 \ Image: Oni Press

Princess Ugg #2, page 2. Image: Oni Press.

This week, I had a really fun time reading the newest series by Oni Press, Princess Ugg. This is a book with a very strong, relatable young woman, who is trying to find her way in her crazy world. In her path to discovery, she has major obstacles in the form of other princesses in her school that see her as nothing more than an animal.

Issue #1 introduces us to Princess Ugg and her kingdom. We see she has a strong mother, as well as a strong sense of who she is in her own kingdom. This doesn’t last long as she leaves her kingdom to fufill a promise to her mother by attending The Princess Academy.

The Princess Academy is where the young royals from the five kingdoms attend to get their education. Princess Ugg of Grimmeria shows up armed for battle, but unfortunately for her, she isn’t armed for the right kind of battle. Her real battle will be in the classroom, the halls, and her bedroom, which she shares with Lady Jennifer. The girls at the school remind me of the stuck-up popular kids of my alma mater. Just reading their characters makes me want to reach into their world and strangle them with their sashes.

Issue #2 shows us a bit more of what Ugg has to deal with in terms of classmates and coursework. There are areas you will feel bad for her and times when you will laugh at how she handles the task at hand.

What I’m enjoying about this series is Princess Ugg and how she handles herself around school. She’s strong, but beneath that is a young girl, who isn’t sure who she really is or why she is even at the school. She reminds me a lot of who I was at her age. It secretly hurts her when she hears the other students’ comments. I know how she feels, having been in that position myself more than once.

My only problem with this title is the shower scenes. I think these young women are drawn a bit too “accurately” and not shadowed enough when it comes to these particular scenes. They don’t leave much to the imagination and I would rather they put up some stall walls to avoid drawing their bodies all together when in the bathroom.

The cliffhanger at the end of Issue #2 left me dying for more. How does Princess Ugg find her way at the school and what trials await her as she makes her way through her classes? Most of all, I’m curious to see what will everyone else will learn from her.

Princess Ugg is a true all-ages comic and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants a powerful story without superheroes and capes. Issue #2 arrives in stores today and on ComiXology.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Corrina —

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Image via IDW

Wynonna Earp written by Beau Smith

A quick television note about one of my favorite female lawmen: Wynonna has been optioned for television. She’s a descendent of the legendary Wyatt Earp and tackles supernatural cases. The last time I read her stories, she was busy taking on the Yeti. I’m hopeful that a show is made because this could be awesome—even if it means she’ll make it to television before Wonder Woman.

Infinity Man and the Forever People written by Dan Didio, Keith Giffen, and Scott Koblish 

The Forever People were part of Jack (King) Kirby’s creation of the New Gods and the Fourth World when he moved to DC Comics in the early 1970s. Darkseid is the most famous of the New Gods, but Orion, Big Barda, and Mister Miracle have also made television appearances and the Forever People also appeared in the Young Justice series. At the time of their creation, they were Kirby’s riff on the hippies of the era.

I was skeptical about them getting a new series when even Kirby couldn’t make the original last more than 11 issues. But the art by Giffen promised to be excellent and even though I disagree with about 99 percent of decisions Didio has made as co-publisher of DC Comics, his writing on Omac showed talent and a touch for fun. But none of that is evident in this first issue, where the people are introduced via yelling and sniping at each other. It was so unpleasant to read that I didn’t want to even finish the review copy I received. This makes me sad.

Superman #32 written by Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson

Superman #32

Image via DC Comics.

As Kelly notes above, the relaunch of Superman in the New 52 has been a bit of a mess, save for Grant Morrison’s short run on Action Comics. The new villains have been less than memorable (and the fewer people that remember H’el, the better) and Clark’s supporting cast has been somewhat adrift with his marriage to Lois Lane vanished by editorial fiat and his leaving The Daily Planet. The superstar team of Johns, Romita, and Janson is here to save the day for the Man of Steel’s self-titled series. Or try.

Romita Jr.’s art, inked by Janson, is a complete triumph; he draws the best Superman and cast I’ve seen in ages. (Love the front and back cover with Clark changing to Superman.) The story? It’s promising, but reminds me of other stories by Johns, particularly those involving doppelgangers, like in his recent Forever Evil mini-series. But at least this is a different take on that, as Superman encounters a young man from another dimension who thought he was the last of the human race. I look forward to Romita Jr.’s art as Superman inevitably enters that dimension.

The Flash #32 written by Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Brett Booth, and Norm Rapmund

“Who Will He Kill Next?” is the big question on the cover of this issue and that question could apply to the entire New 52 reboot. There’s a future Flash running around killing people to atone (?) for his mistakes, and a current Barry playing uncle to the new Wally West and having fights with his girlfriend. I guess that maybe DC is laying the seeds for yet another possible reboot, since the Barry Allen Flash was at the center of Crisis on Infinite Earths and the more recent Flashpoint. One could argue that the current state of the joyless DC universe is Barry’s fault, though I tend to lay some credit/blame to the editors. This is not a comic that anyone but a hardcore DC fan needs.

Disclaimer: Corrina received some of these items for review purposes. 

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Adventures Of Superman #14
All-Star Western #32
Aquaman #32
Batman #32
Batman ’66 #12
Batman Beyond Universe #11 GeekMom Recommended / Kid Friendly
Batman Detective Comics Vol. 3 Emperor Penguin TP
Batman Detective Comics Vol. 4 The Wrath HC
Batman Eternal #12
Before Watchmen Ozymandias Crimson Corsair TP
Catwoman #32
Dead Boy Detectives Vol. 1 Schoolboy Terrors TP
Flash #32
Harley Quinn #0 (Director’s Cut)
Harley Quinn #7 GM Recommended
He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe #14 GeekMom Recommended
Injustice Gods Among Us Vol. 1 TP
Injustice Gods Among Us Vol. 2 HC
Injustice Gods Among Us Year Two #6
Justice League #31
Justice League Dark #32
Larfleeze #12 (Final Issue)
New 52 Futures End #8 Weekly Series
Red Lanterns #32
Secret Origins #3
Sinestro #3
Superman #32
Superman Doomed #1 (One Shot)
Superman Wonder Woman #8
Tom Strong And The Planet Of Peril TP
All-New Doop #3 (Of 5)
All-New Ghost Rider #4 New Series
All-New Ultimates #4 New Series
Amazing Spider-Man #3 GeekMom Recommended / New Series
Avengers A.I. Vol. 2 12000 A.D. TP
Avengers Undercover #6
Deadpool Vs Carnage #4 (Of 4)
Dexter Down Under #5 (Of 5) Final Issue
Fantastic Four #6
Guardians Of The Galaxy #16 GeekMom Recommended
Marvel Masterworks The Human Torch Vol. 1 TP
Marvel Previews #131 (July 2014 For Products On-Sale September 2014)
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #27
Ms. Marvel #5 GeekMom Recommended
New Avengers #20
New Avengers Annual #1
New Avengers Vol. 3 Other Worlds HC
New Warriors #6
Original Sin #3.1
Original Sins #2 (Of 5) New Miniseries Event
Savage Hulk #1 New Series
Spider-Man Spectacular #1 New Series
Superior Spider-Man Team-Up Vol. 2 Superior Six TP
Uncanny Avengers #21
United States Of Murder Inc #1
What If Age Of Ultron TP
Wolverine #9
X-Force #6
X-Men The Road To Onslaught Vol. 2 TP
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24 #3 New Series
7th Sword #3 New Series
Cartoon Network Super Secret Crisis War #1 (Of 6) Kid Friendly
G.I. JOE Special Missions Vol. 3 TP
Ghostbusters #17
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth #13
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth Vol. 3 TP
Illegitimates #6 (Of 6)
Libretto Vol. 1 Vampirism TP
Locke And Key Special Edition Vol. 3 Crown Of Shadows HC
Mars Attacks First Born #2 (Of 4)
My Little Pony Friends Forever Vol. 1 TP Kid Friendly
My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #20 Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #12 Kid Friendly
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #30
Transformers Spotlight Drift (Director’s Cut)
Transformers Windblade #3 (Of 4)
V-Wars #1
X-Files Season 10 #13
Captain Midnight #12
Conan The Avenger #3 New Series
Dream Thief Escape #1 (Of 4) New Mini-Series
Emily And The Strangers Breaking The Record #1 (Of 3)
Frank Miller’s Big Damn Sin City HC
Ghost #5
Goon One For The Road (One Shot)
Halo Escalation #7
King Conan The Conqueror #5 (Of 6)
Mass Effect Foundation #12
Massive #24
Massive Vol. 3 Longship TP
Mind MGMT #23
Occultist Vol. 2 At Death’s Door TP
Pariah # 5 (Of 8)
Serenity Leaves On The Wind #6 (Of 6) Final Issue
Sin City A Dame To Kill For HC
Star Wars Legacy II #16
Star Wars Rebel Heist #3 (Of 4)
Tarzan Burne Hogarth’s Lord Of The Jungle HC
Tomb Raider #5
Vandroid #5 (Of 5)

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback

Meet Grace from Outer Space

Grace from Outer Space © Mike Davis

If you’re the parent of a young girl, chances are you’ve been inundated with princesses and Barbie in “girl” books and movies. My daughter has created her own interesting mix with her playtime, with passions ranging from Barbie and princesses to Power Rangers. What I’d really love, though, is to give my four-year-old a story to latch on to that includes not just a plucky heroine, but introduces her to new science concepts as well. I was delighted, then, to come across this Kickstarter campaign for Grace from Outer Space—a picture book app aimed to “get young girls interested in astronomy, science, and technology.”

Project creator Jenna Bryson has a background working with children as a musician and entertainer. She enlisted the help of an illustrator and an astronomy graduate student to create a factually correct story that follows the adventures of a little girl whose home is among the stars.

[Grace from Outer Space] is a rhyming picture book story for kids about ages 4-8 years old. It’s a slice of life story, depicting what it might be like for a little girl to live on a space ship with her family. It’s full of wonder, imagination, and best of all, scientific facts!

In reading the book, kids will learn through the eyes of our curious heroine. Some of the ideas introduced by ‘Grace’ include the concept of black holes, the speed of light, and dark energy.

The fundraising campaign has just a few days left and a long way to go, so consider donating to its efforts if you’ve been looking for an iOS app with a STEM focus for your young kids.

Little Girls Lost – No Fairy Tale For Disney Princesses

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Demi Lovato in concert, Image: CC by karina y via Flickr

As the mother of a tween I know more than I ever wanted to about every Disney Channel and Nickelodeon teen star on the planet. I know who’s been in what movie or TV show, if they have a new album, what their unique fashion style is, if they’ve highlighted their hair recently, and of course, who is dating whom in the Hollywood social scene of young stars.

Demi Lovato happens to be one of my daughter’s favorites. As a brown-eyed brunette like Demi, my daughter directly identified with her realistic yet adorable physical image, but also her spunky, creative, and friendly attitude. Where other Disney stars’ personas seem to revolve around snappy comebacks and snark, most of Demi’s characters projected a team player attitude, set off by good humor and humility.

Tweens everywhere cheered for Demi when she announced she was dating Joe Jonas at the beginning of 2010, and they were devastated with her when the young relationship fell apart. I remember my daughter remarking at the time that she “knew it wouldn’t last.”

Indeed Joe Jonas has, in a relatively short amount of time, developed quite the reputation for himself as a breaker of young women’s hearts. Taylor Swift had rather choice things to say about the way in which she found out that they were over. Rumors of his breakup with Demi suggest a young man who has trouble ending relationships as smoothly as he’s entered them. (Don’t we all?)

Certainly his decision to invite his new girlfriend, Ashley Greene (Alice in the Twilight Movies) on tour with his brothers and Demi Lovato seems ill advised. If the new flame’s presence on the tour contributed to Demi’s breakdown, and subsequent decision to seek treatment for emotional and physical issues, we can’t know for sure. But I suspect, it certainly didn’t help. What adult could handle such a sticky situation perfectly? Let alone a young woman who’s been working, supporting her family, and in the public eye since the age of seven?

None of us can know the truth of what really goes on in the lives of these young people. I remind my daughter of that every time we sit down to discuss the latest sordid personal tragedy of a young Hollywood star. Unfortunately in the past few years, we’ve had quite a few of these conversations. Between Lindsay’s troubles, Britney’s meltdown, her younger sister Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy, Vanessa Hudgens‘ nude photo scandal and others, I’m getting rather sick of having these conversations. I’m not the type to forbid my daughter from television or media access.

I’m not offended or overly concerned about my daughter’s knowledge of these situations. In fact they’ve led to many healthy and informative discussions. Rather I’m sick of having these conversations because I’m scared for these young women. My heart breaks for them. And I’m sick of the silence and the lack of responsibility on the part of the companies and individuals profiting from these talented young people.

I realize that it’s easy to sit here in front of my computer and comment on a situation that I’m no part of, and have no real information about. But I’m going to do it anyway. Because there are some absolute truths in the world. Raising children is hard. Raising creative, artistic children can be especially challenging. You must temper your pride at their achievements and their passion to perform with realistic expectations. Greed and vanity have no place in parenting.

If I were to let her, my daughter — a natural performer since the age of two — would be on the next plane to Hollywood in two seconds. She’d show up bright-eyed and shiny at the Disney offices ready to try out as the next Disney star. I will never allow it. Why? Because she deserves a childhood. She does not need to bear the burden of such extreme failures and successes at such a young age. It is not her job to support our family; it is ours, her parents. It is not her job to raise herself. It is our job, the adults who run her life, to guide her on the path to healthy adulthood.

These children, like Demi and Lindsay and the rest, are being failed by the parents and the adults who run their lives.

[Read more…]

The GeekMoms’ Christmas Trees and the Geeky Stories Behind Them

A collection of the GeekMoms' trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

A collection of the GeekMoms’ trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

The GeekMoms thought it would be fun to share our Christmas trees and the geeky stories behind them. We would also love it if, in the comments, you shared images of your Christmas trees—via a link to your photo(s)—and the stories behind them.

Without further ado, let the sharing begin!

GeekMom Andrea’s Christmas Tree

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

GeekMom Andrea had this to say about her tree:

I did the unthinkable this year and suggested that for the first time in our family’s history we buy a fake tree. Every year as December approaches my husband and I have moved around the furniture in our cozy living room until it looks like something closer to a garage sale than a celebration in order to fit a giant, live tree in our space. It makes no sense. Plus: I come from a long line of fake-tree people. Pink trees. Aluminum trees…

It was time to stop living the “real tree” lie. It was time for a narrow white tree. With fiber optics. I think our tree this year is fabulous. My dream is to decorate it in an Atomic Ranch style—lots of spaceships and sputnik stars and robots and optimism about the future.

GeekMom Ariane’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Ariane Coffin

Photo by Ariane Coffin

GeekMom Ariane had this to say about her tree:

Here’s my crazy tree. How my husband puts up with it, I’ll never know. Much like the rest of our house, it’s all about BRIGHT OBNOXIOUS COLORS! And Hello Kitty. And being that generation who never has actual prints of photos… I keep thinking, “This year will be the year I insert photos in all of the photo ornaments! I’ll put them in the tree to remember to do it!” Yeaaaaaah, no. It never gets done.

GeekMom Judy’s Christmas Tree

Individual images by Judy Berna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

Individual images by Judy Burna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Judy had this to say about her tree:

Every year we pay ten dollars for a permit that enables us to cut our tree from the National Forest here in Colorado. It helps the forest, by thinning out smaller trees, and it is a grand family adventure, no matter how old our ‘kids’ get. We hike through the woods and try to keep in mind that a tree that looks ‘normal sized’ in the forest is actually big enough to take up our whole living room. We get teased by family members who live in other states that we’ve become the Griswalds (from the Christmas Vacation movie) when we hike out into the woods, but we don’t mind. That’s what family memories are made of!

Geeky Jules’ Christmas Tree

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Geeky Jules had this to say about his tree:

While my tree isn’t geeky, the fact that my OCD took 13 hours to decorate it kind of is. Plus, I’m still fiddling with little things here and there until my OCD is happy. But not only that, it’s a completely different concept than trees of past. This is the first year I haven’t used garland or tinsel, and decided to go with a very specific color scheme.

In response, GeekMom Ariane said on Twitter:

My response was:

OMG, this is so me!

Oh, how I laughed.

GeekMom Kay’s Christmas Tree

Kay's tree

Photo by Kay Moore

GeekMom Kay  had this to say about her tree:

We are themeless, no geekiness at all. My mom spent several decades collecting handmade ornaments, and I gave her one for Christmas each year. A few years ago, when we were in town, she retired from holiday entertaining and invited the extended family over to take turns selecting favorite ornaments. So now I have a bunch of old family favorites, including some that I made many many years ago as gifts for my mom.

I cherish a handful of handmade embroidered, needlepointed, knitted, etc., ornaments from our crafting family and friends. Our actual stockings are cross-stitched by my mom and me.

The other sort-of theme we have is to hang sturdy, survivable ornaments on the lower branches, where the cat’s mischief wreaks havoc.

We usually have a gold garland, but not loose tinsel. My husband likes loose tinsel but he usually is doing other things during the tree decorating. We often have bubble lites. I like best of all sparkly reflective ornaments, which conflicts with my textile sensibility.

Oh, I make mini stockings. I give one to my mom for each family member below her on the family tree, and I have a small, less custom, collection for decorating a mini tree.

GeekMom Lisa’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Lisa had this to say about her tree:

Our main tree has always been just a collection of our loves, memories and travel, with several geeky highlights throughout—Batman, TARDIS, Disney, comic book, and video game inspired ornaments— but we felt the ultimate Star Wars vs. Star Trek geek war needs to mingle in a little “Peace on Earth… and Beyond” tree with several ornaments from both franchises. Last year, we also updated our wreath to have a Hobbit theme as a perfect welcome for friends and family. Our girls have created their own little “Ever After” tree with Disney Princess, fairies, Hello Kitty, and My Little Pony, as well as decorating their “Doctor” for the season.

GeekMom Maryann’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Maryann had this to say about her tree:

In our house, it’s all about the collections. For years, the boy and I have been adding to our snowman, snowglobe, nutcracker, elf, and ornament collections. We make lots of trips to the local thrift stores looking for new treasures. It’s a real joy each year to unwrap long lost friends and arrange the collections for enjoyment. It’s not so much fun wrapping them up safe and sound until next year. I also pride myself on spending hours taking Christmas pictures of my tree, as well as local neighborhood displays. The geekier, the better.

GeekMom Natalie’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Natalie Zaman. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Natalie Zeman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Natalie had this to say about her tree:

We’ve had an artificial tree for about ten years, so I was very excited to get a real tree into the house again. Our ornaments are a hodgepodge of things we’ve collected over the years and things my children have made, and they all go up every year. The oldest is a little book, Saint Nicholas that
my mom had since before she was married—she’s 86, bless her—and the newest is a 3-D version of Edward Gorey’s “The Doubtful Guest”–I got him last week when I was on Cape Cod doing research–and I *finally* got to go to the Edward Gorey House. It was loads of fun and very special–his cousin gave us a tour of the place.

GeekMom Patricia’s Christmas Tree

he Vollmer family's new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

The Vollmer family’s new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

GeekMom Patricia had this to say about her tree:

I love our family’s new Christmas tree. After a couple years of wishing, we finally made the splurge for an LED prelit tree that changes colors. The particular one we got changes the colors very gracefully, slowly transitioning between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The decorations plan on our tree has evolved over the years into numerous geeky “zones”: Disney, trains, Penn State (our alma mater), Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other geekery (such as The Simpsons and Ghostbusters). Our 9- and 12-year-old sons have taken over most of the decorating duty, and they are very good about keeping to the zones. In addition to the zones, we have many traditional ornaments, such as souvenirs from our travels, commemorative ornaments, and kids’ homemade ornaments.

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

GeekMom Rebecca’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Rebecca had this so say about her tree:

We do have regular decorations collected over the years, but I rarely put them up. I like to think up a theme of some sort, like origami or completely edible. This year it was knitted: so almost everything is a knitted thing of some sort. Our geekier side comes out in the other decorations. My son has three locations for extensive Lego Christmas displays, usually with some silly stuff happening with random figurines. I included a picture of Wolverine hanging a wreath.

GeekMom Sam’s Christmas Tree

Sam Collage 2

Individual photos by Samantha Cook. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sam had this to say about her tree:

Our family has a pretty traditional looking tree with old fashioned glass ornaments. But every year we all pick a new ornament, and write the name and year with Sharpie on the bottom. It is a wonderful way to remember holidays and interests past. When you look closer, you can see our ornaments tend to be on the geeky side!

GeekMom Sarah’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sarah had this to say about her tree:

I love Christmas trees. I have far more ornaments than I could possibly put on one tree. Before we had kids, we would put one up in the kitchen that had just our Disney ornaments on it, then the main tree in the living room with as many of the others as I can possibly squeeze on. My favorite ornament is my Department of Homeland Security Ornament. I found it in Boston shortly after I became a US citizen. We have many, many Hallmark ornaments, as Ben’s maternal grandparents send everyone a new ornament from that collection each year.  Ben has 22 of his own, we have 12, and the boys have six and three respectively.

It’s a beautiful tradition that I plan on continuing with my own grandchildren, in about forty years time! We have a lot of Disney ornaments, because I am a Disney nut. But my favorite kind of ornaments are the traditional glass kind. There are only two on our tree this year, but I love to find traditional baubles in unusual colors, or to find unusual glass figurines. We have a glass robot and a hiking Santa that are simply beautiful and they are on the tree. With a five-year-old and almost three-year-old in the house, my other glass baubles are still in the box! Last year, I gave myself an early Christmas present and bought new lights. I love them with a fervor that is not normal.

GeekMom Sophie’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Sophie Brown

Photo by Sophie Brown

GeekMom Sophie had this to say about her tree:

Here’s ours. It’s a complete mishmash, too: stuff from when I was a kid; ornaments we’ve collected on trips; things Fin has made at school. I like my trees to be totally chaotic but also totally balanced. It takes me forever to decorate them to a level I can cope with!

We don’t have a theme, but there’s a lot of Disney stuff on there. There are several painted porcelain discs from WDW, two of the custom ones you can have personalised at Downtown Disney—one is our wedding, another for Fin’s first Christmas—some special baubles that commemorated the 35th anniversary. This year I’ve added a set of the singing busts from Haunted Mansion. It’s kind of funny because the busts are nestled up next to completely traditional things like robins, angels, and Santas.

I have tiny tree in my office that’s about one-foot high, including the pot. That has a pin badge of Castiel at the top of it! I kind of want to make a Cas costume for one of my old Ken dolls so it can go on top of the tree next year. Not sure what my husband would think of that!

Oh, and we have a Christmas pterodactyl in the living room! #sixseasonsandamovie

Please share images of your Christmas trees and the stories behind them. We’d love to see and read them!

 

Wonder Woman’s Backstory Comes to Your Coffee Table

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Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics. Cover image: IDW Publishing.

Every superhero has an origin story. Hollywood can’t seem to get it together when it comes to putting Wonder Woman’s tale up on the big screen. (Sorry, but I’m not counting her appearance in 2016’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The Amazon Princess deserves her own movie! Here’s hoping the announced one actually is made.)

Until that moment happens, fans can indulge in a bit of her backstory with Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics.

IDW Publishing worked with DC Entertainment and the Library of American Comics to produce this gorgeous coffee table book, which focuses on the world’s first and most kick-ass female superhero. This is the kind of thing you’d put out for guests that you’d actually want to stay for a little while. Captivating and entertaining, the book’s 196 pages features Wonder Woman’s entire newspaper run—the whole darn thing.

The Library of American Comics’ Bruce Canwell kicks off the book with an excellent essay, which includes a little backstory about the comic and the character, as well as a peek at some promotional materials, original sketches, and other tidbits. It’s just a few pages, so don’t expect anything comprehensive, but it’s an awesome few pages.

From there, the rest of the book has all of the black-and-white comics that ran in newspapers from May 1, 1943 until December 1, 1944. It ran six days a week, so there’s a ton of material and characters to comb through. Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, Cheetah, and many more are all represented here. There’s info on Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, her bracelets, and even the Invisible Plane. Some of the storylines may seem a little very familiar and some is a bit dated, but this is part of comics (and superhero) history. It’s also really cool. The imagery is insanely detailed, which is especially awesome, because you have to remember that this is the first time that these particular comics have been printed since their original run.

The $49.99 price tag may seem a little steep, but this book is well worth the cost. The material created by writer William Moulton Marston and artist Harry G. Peters is something to experience. And this is one good looking collection that will certainly warrant repeat reading. If you are a fan or have a Wonder Woman fan in your life, it would be hard to find a better gift than Wonder Woman: The Complete Newspaper Comics. Consider your holiday shopping complete!

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

Book Review: Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo

HNA2785@AT_jacket_v15_DM.indd

Image Credit: Abrams Books

Over the past couple of weeks my family and I had the pleasure of previewing Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo by Meathaus’s Chris McDonnell, to be released on October 14th. In case you hadn’t noticed here, here, and here, I am in an Adventure Time fandom household. My sons look forward to each new episode, and I have loved seeing my sons’ imaginative play and storytelling that have evolved thanks to this show. These stories demonstrate, time and time again, the power of friendship, even in the darkest times. This gorgeous full-color hardcover book will grace coffee tables with elegance.

Yes, you heard right, with elegance.

Even though you might know Adventure Time as a bit dark with its post-apocalyptic themes, my family and I can’t get over how lovely the artwork is. Perhaps you are a fan of the Cartoon Network series and wondered what the writers and artists were thinking with some of the whimsical story arcs and creative artistic rendering…

The Art of Ooo will put everything in perspective for you. The book presents a behind-the-scenes look at the art and storyboards, the writers’ thoughts behind the characters, and interviews with those who voice the characters on the TV show. From concept art to the more sophisticated story lines, you will enjoy over 350 pages and 500 color images.

After an introduction by Mexican fantasy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the book starts with a biography of the show’s creator and principal animator, Pendleton Ward. You learn that his cartoonist influences came from a variety of seemingly-basic artwork: The Simpsons, Beavis & Butthead, and Doug. You also learn about one of his earliest pieces: Bueno the Bear, whose ears strike quite the resemblance to Finn’s hat.

You then get to learn about the process of pitching the cartoon to Nickelodeon (who had aired one of the earliest episodes on their Random! Cartoons series in 2008), and then to Cartoon Network. You are shown the complete “pitch bible,” and then the 11-minute storyboard of the pilot episode, “The Enchiridion!”

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My youngest son pages through this book every evening while it sits at the center of my coffee table. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

From here, readers will learn about the development of the main title sequence, and then delve into details about each of the characters, starting with Finn and Jake and then taking readers into the backstories of BMO, the Ice King, Princess Bubblegum, and Earl of Lemongrab. You will learn about the details behind the development of Ooo, in terms of settings and colors. This volume will go into such specific settings as the Treehouse and the dungeons.

You will then see concept art, storyboards, and backstories with many of our favorite episodes: “Card Wars” (about which an iOS and Android game exists), “Bad Timing,” “Food Chain,” and “Lady & Peebles” to name a few.

The final chapter, “Beyond Ooo,” is a tribute to Adventure Time‘s fans. Page after page of fan art gets space in this book, with accounts of fans’ tattoos, graffiti, and fan fiction. I made a point to show this chapter to my youngest son, who has quite a bit of Adventure Time fan fiction floating around the house.

Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo, is published by Abrams and will make a fantastic gift for any Adventure Time fan in your life. The book retails for $35, but is priced at about $25 at Amazon.

GeekMom received this product for review purposes.

15 Toys Your Toddler Will Love

15 Toddler Toys

Photo collage by Jackie Reeve. Product photos from company websites and Amazon.com.

When my now two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Hannah first transitioned into that stage when she was too old for her baby toys but not quite ready for the whole magical world of preschool toys, her dad and I were a little stumped. What do toddlers play with other than anything that’s dangerous or valuable to their parents?

We experimented a lot, especially since my daughter has some sensory and motor planning issues. We’d stuck somewhat closely to the age recommendations on toys, until her speech therapist told us to challenge her. Then we found wonderful toys that skewed older but were fine if introduced with adult supervision, toys that were right on target for her age, and toys that were more like whole experiences that will grow with her.

There are so many great toys out there, but here are the things our daughter plays with incessantly (I’ve listed the retail prices, but almost all of them are available on Amazon for less):

Tolo Teatime Shape Sorter: An instant hit. It’s strangely pricey for a teapot, but it’s absolutely indestructible. First Hannah used it as a shape and color sorter, then it evolved into her first tea set. Now she serves us imaginary drinks daily, usually out of the same designated cup for each of us. $35.99

Little People Disney Princess Klip Klop Stable: A second birthday present from a classmate, we weren’t sure about this one. Disney Princesses hadn’t made an appearance yet at our house, and we were completely okay with that. But the Little People horses and riders are almost hypnotically fun. We bought all of the extra princesses, and the little ramps they came with made the princesses into great bathroom toys while potty training, too. $39.99

Fisher-Price Barnyard Bingo: Our speech therapist introduced us to this one. It’s meant as a multiplayer version of Bingo, but we found that it’s great for vocabulary practice. Hannah is obsessed with farm animals and this is a nice, portable toy for matching colors and animals. $20.99

Melissa and Doug Shopping CartWe learned the hard way how loud this can be on wood floors, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. We’ve shopped out of the kitchen cupboards with this, Hannah has transported her prized possessions around in it, and sometimes she just likes to race around the kitchen pushing it. Such great quality, and I love that it’s metal instead of plastic. $69.99

Crayola Color Wonder Travel Tote: My mom and I took a road trip with my daughter this summer and stopped at the Crayola Experience. I stocked up at the gift shop and bought this travel clipboard set so Hannah could color in the car and not make a mess. We don’t leave the house without it now. A lifesaver on car trips and in restaurants. $13.99

VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals Zoo Explorer: This set is fun and substantial. It lives in my sewing studio, so my daughter can hang out and play while I work. I wish all of these big playsets came with more than one figure or car in the box. We bought extra animals for $7.99 each, and that felt like more of a sting than usual for extras. But it can keep a two-year-old busy for quite a while. $39.99

Symphony in B: I remember seeing this on a best toy list a few years ago, and then the music teacher at my old school had it to use with students. I loved it immediately, and now at home we have classical dance parties with it. It also turned into a great fine motor skill tool, as my daughter learned how to line up all the instruments in their slots. $99.99 (I’ve never actually seen it for this much; it’s usually significantly lower.)

Land of Nod Home Sweet Home Play Canopy: We loved the idea of a tent as a second birthday present, and this ceiling-suspended version is covered with stars and kind of magical. Hannah spends lots of good kid time in it. I wish I had one in an adult size. $199 with cushion

Melissa and Doug Deluxe Latches PuzzleAll Melissa & Doug wood puzzles wear like iron and feel so great in the hand. This lock puzzle is my daughter’s favorite, and I’ve given it as a gift to other toddlers. They all love it. If you need a few minutes to grab a shower or catch up on email, give this to your toddler to occupy their time. $24.99

Doc McStuffins Get Better Checkup CenterLast summer, I started singing the praises of this play vet’s office after seeing it at a toy preview and didn’t stop telling people about it until New Year’s. Almost a year later, Hannah still plays with this Christmas present every day. It was her first real non-baby toy, and it’s been one of the most successful things we’ve ever given her. $99.99

LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic BasketI’ve lost track of how many picnics we’ve had on our living room floor with this set. It was one of those toys we picked up as a treat one day at Target and for nearly a year now, it has regularly seen action. $21.99

Playmobil My Secret Playbox Horse StableThis was a recent acquisition that made me nervous at first. There are so many small pieces, but after playing it together with Hannah a few times, we realized she had no interest in trying to eat them. This is one of those know-your-child toys. If they’re still putting everything in their mouths, skip this one. If not, it’s a really sweet little horse stable with tons of little tools for grooming and feeding. It’s another one that gives a surprising amount of language practice, and the best part is that the whole thing (with all of those little pieces) folds up into a lockable box for storage. $27.99

Crayola 24 Count Sidewalk ChalkSidewalk chalk is always great for a sunny, not-too-cold day. But the Crayola colors are incredibly vibrant. And the shape of each chalk stick is like a rectangular crayon, so the pieces won’t roll all over your driveway. Sometimes nothing beats an afternoon on the ground outside making chalk scribbles. $7.29

Scrambled Eggs Shape Sorting FunThis turned out to be another great travel toy. You will spend some time looking under seats for the occasional missing egg half, but we’ve taken this in the car, on the plane, in restaurants, everywhere. It fits in a purse or bag and is a really nice, distracting activity to get those fine motor skills going. $12.74

Little Partners Learning TowerThis isn’t a toy, but it has provided loads of quality play time together in the kitchen. A year ago, we added this to our kitchen and it’s the best piece of equipment in it. Now my daughter can stand on a step stool without falling off, but she still wants to be in her tower whenever we have kitchen time. The adjustable height means she can always be perfectly positioned to play with her little pots and pans and felt food, or to help me roll out pie dough or make a cake. $199.99

What toys do your little ones love?

Disclaimer: GeekMom received some items for review purposes.

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Sensation Comics, Gotham Academy, C.O.W.L.

Sensation Comics #7

Sensation Comics #7, Art by Marguerite Sauvage © DC Comics

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week we have a sensational Wonder Woman, meet the new students of Gotham Academy, and find out what the C.O.W.L. is up to.

Kelly Knox — Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #7 by Sean E. Williams and Marguerite Sauvage

Wonder Woman’s weekly digital series—now moved to Thursdays on the release schedule—continues to delight fans of the Amazon princess. Issue #7 asks a “What if?” similar to the one we saw recently with Gwen Stacy in the Spider-Verse: What if our intrepid heroine was a rock star?

The one-shot story doesn’t waste much time asking why she would choose the rock star life over the life of a superhero, but it’s easy to guess why when you see how inspiring she is to her young fans. Even as a rock star in the band “Bullets and Bracelets,” Diana is true to herself and unafraid to speak her mind.

It’s the gorgeous art that really stands out for this issue, though. Marguerite Sauvage does a fantastic job of giving Wonder Woman her rock star makeover while still staying true to her costume and origin. The colors are striking, and I found myself flipping through the issue multiple times just to admire the art.

Age Recommendation: 12+

From the cover of Gotham Academy, image copyright DC Comics

From the cover of Gotham Academy, image copyright DC Comics

Corrina — Gotham Academy #1 by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher, art by Kark Kerschl, colors by Geyser with Dave McCaig.

This is a comic I never thought I’d see from DC. One, the inventive and eye-popping art style that causes me to study every page. Two, the unusual concept of a mysterious and dangerous prep school in Gotham City, sort of a Hogwarts for DC. Three, the book is headlined by a female lead and being written by a woman.

But the real reason to read Gotham Academy is that it’s fun, fascinating, and one of the more immersive books I’ve read in some time. Olive Silverlock is our guide to the academy in the first issue, irreverently introducing us to the headmaster (“Hammer-Head”), her schoolmates, lunch period (Belgian waffles? Sign me up!) , and restricted parts of the Academy which, naturally, Olive and her friend Maps need to explore. Bruce Wayne even makes a short guest-appearance. There are hints that something awful happened to Olive over the summer, which piques my interest as well.

Buy it. There’s nothing else quite like it on the stands.

Age Recommendation: Ages 6+ but be warned there are some scares of the gothic variety.

Lisa Tate — C.O.W.L. #4 by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel with art by Rod Reis

COWL Issue 4 \ Image Comics

C.O.W.L. Issue 4 \ Image Comics

The idea of a labor union as a subject of a comic seems both dry and over-political, but if that union happened to be made up of super-powered individuals and their cohorts, it makes for a pretty intriguing story.

The Chicago Organized Workers League (C.O.W.L.), made up of both “powered” and “unpowered” individuals, has been dubbed the world’s first superhero labor union. In the first three issues of this series, the team has defeated a team of villains, had their information compromised, and has been undergoing contractual negotiations with the city over such thing as cost for uniforms and health insurance. This is not to mention the individual members’ own personal battles with spouses and children, inner demons, reputation, and feelings of inadequacy.

By the fourth issue of the Image Comics release, their union woes are evident, as the mayor’s wish to hire “non-union” heroes has resulted in a C.O.W.L. strike. This now challenges the league’s already shaky camaraderie. Add a little blackmail and civic violence to the mix and the conflict continues to escalate.

I do find the characters a little hard to find sympathetic so far. Each of their stories is interesting enough, but it has been hard to really be moved by their struggles and goals. It also utilizes much of the familiar plot points (super-powers gained by exposure to radiation, the public’s mistrust of costumed vigilantes), but it is the setting itself that helps it stand out.

This series has the smooth and sleek 1960s appeal of The Avengers (the British Science Fiction spy series, not the superhero team), but it cranks it up a notch, with a grittier tone. Reis’s art is so varied, it sometimes looks like one those double issue comics, in which several artists lend their talents to different sections. I did enjoy this environment.

Fans of the 50s and 60s “spy fi” genre will enjoy this book, as long as they aren’t looking for the next Astro City, Watchmen, or even the television series Heroes.

Age Recommendation: Mature

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Action Comics #35
American Vampire Second Cycle #5
Aquaman And The Others #6
Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet #5 (Of 6)
Batman 75th Anniversary Trade Paperback Commemorative Collection
Batman Essentials: Batman The Black Mirror Special Edition #1
Batman Eternal #26
Batman Superman #14
Batman Vol 4 Zero Year Secret City TP
Detective Comics #35
Fables Deluxe Edition Vol 9 HC
Fairest #30
Fairest Vol 4 Of Men And Mice TP
FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics Vol 2 Wish You Were Here TP
Flash Season Zero #1
Flash Special Edition #1
Gotham Academy #1
Grayson #3
Green Arrow #35
Green Lantern #35
Green Lantern New Gods Godhead #1
Hinterkind #12
Injustice Gods Among Us Year Two Annual #1
Injustice Gods Among Us Year Two Vol 1 HC
Justice League #34
Justice League 3000 #10
Justice League Beyond 2.0 Power Struggle TP
Lobo #1 New Series
Looney Tunes #221 Kid Friendly
Names #2 (Of 8)
New 52 Futures End #22
Swamp Thing #35
Teen Titans Go Titans Together TP
Tiny Titans Return To The Treehouse #5 (Of 6) Kid Friendly
Wonder Woman #34
Wonder Woman Vol 4 War TP
Wonder Woman Vol 5 Flesh HC
All-New Ghost Rider Vol 1 Engines Of Vengeance TP
All-New X-Men Vol 1 HC
Black Widow #11
Bucky Barnes The Winter Soldier #1 New Series
Captain America #25
Dark Tower The Drawing Of The Three The Prisoner #3 (Of 5)
Death Of Wolverine #3 (Of 4)
Deathlok The Demolisher The Complete Collection TP
Edge Of Spider-Verse #4 (Of 5)
Fantastic Four Annual #1
Figment #5 (Of 5) Final Issue
Guardians 3000 #1 New Series
Iron Man Vol 5 Rings Of The Mandarin HC
Legendary Star-Lord #4 GeekMom Recommended
Magneto Vol 1 Infamous TP
Men Of Wrath By Jason Aaron #1 (Of 5)
Miracleman #11
Moon Knight #8
Moon Knight Epic Collection Vol 1 Bad Moon Rising TP
Moon Knight Vol 1 From The Dead TP
New Mutants X-Force Demon Bear TP
Silver Surfer #6
Spider-Man 2099 #4
Spider-Man Kraven’s Last Hunt Prose Novel HC
Thor #1 New Series
Uncanny Avengers #25
X-Men #20
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Angry Birds Comics #5 Kid Friendly
Ben 10 Classics Vol 3 TP Kid Friendly
Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy Vol 17 HC
Flesh And Steel The Art Of Russ Heath HC
Kill Shakespeare The Mask Of Night #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Popeye Classics #27 Kid Friendly
PUCK What Fools These Mortals Be HC
Rogue Trooper Classics #6 (Of 12)
Samurai Jack Vol 2 The Scotsman’s Curse TP Kid Friendly
Silent Hill Downpour Anne’s Story #2 (Of 4)
Skylanders The Kaos Trap HC Kid Friendly
Squidder #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Star Trek Gold Key Archives Vol 2 HC
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #38
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol 9 Monsters Misfits And Madmen TP
Transformers Windblade TP
X-Files Year Zero #3 (Of 5)
Angel And Faith Season 10 #7
Art Of Naughty Dog HC
Art Of The Book Of Life HC
Concrete Park R-E-S-P-E-C-T #2 (Of 5)
Concrete Park Vol 1 You Send Me HC
Dream Thief Escape #4 (Of 4)
Edgar Allan Poe’s Spirits Of The Dead HC
Eerie Archives Vol 17 HC
Loverboys HC
Star Wars Darth Maul Son Of Dathomir TP
Star Wars Vol 3 Rebel Girl TP
Usagi Yojimbo Senso #3 (Of 6) 

Acronym Key: HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Futures End, X-Files, and a Ruby Throne

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Cover of Batwoman: Futures End #1 \ Image: DC Comics

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week we continue in the way of the freaky with The X-Files and Elric, as well as more installments of DC’s Futures End September event.

Sophie Brown — The X-Files Season 10 #16 by Joe Harris and art by Colin Lorimer and Francesco Francavilla

XFiles Season 10 #16 cover \ Image: IDW Publishing

X-Files Season 10 #16 cover \ Image: IDW Publishing

The X-Files always kept apace with the big news stories of its day, referencing subjects including the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges, Saddam Hussein, and Gulf War syndrome, and this issue continues that tradition.

Writing a comic about any current issue is always going to risk treading dangerous ground. Setting one that begins at a North Carolina abortion clinic in 2014 takes that risk level to new heights. Wherever you fall on the moral spectrum on this highly contentious issue, praise has to go to both writer Joe Harris and IDW publishing for tackling the subject.

The issue doesn’t tread softly through this territory.

The very first page shows protesters outside the clinic holding up placards with pictures of aborted fetuses and screaming “babykiller” and “murderer” at the young girl entering its gates. It’s shocking, more so in that this part of the story portrays nothing supernatural at all but daily life in many parts of the U.S. Once inside, the story has a chance to kick off when a bomb is detonated and Mulder and Scully are called in on what is honestly very little evidence. I found it quite incredible that the FBI would call these two into a highly sensitive case (and we all know Mulder’s history when it comes to dealing with small town folk and sensitive subjects) in on what could easily be a camera artifact on blurred CCTV footage.

My own misgivings aside, Mulder and Scully are soon in North Carolina interviewing witnesses and anyone else vaguely connected to the case.

The artwork here is stunning and the coloring is some of the best I’ve seen in the series so far, giving the entire thing an overbearing and frightening feel. It’s nice to see Scully handling a religious case again too. Her personal battles with faith and the episodes that explored that were always some of my favorite, and we see that a little once again here as she sees things Mulder is willing to explain away and assign to simple domestic terrorism.

The issue concludes with a simple yet ominous image that hints at something even more sinister coming in the story’s concluding issue next month. I hope we get to see more of Scully tackling this case and that the conclusion lives up to what is a very promising beginning.

Age Recommendation: Teen and up.

Lisa Tate — Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne (based on the novels by Michael Moorcock) by Julien Blondel and art by Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, and Robin Recht

Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne \ Image: Titan Comics

Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne \ Image: Titan Comics

Every fantasy and science fiction writer strives to have that signature world and character for which they are best known; one that fans can’t wait to read, and artists love to interpret. For author Michael Moorcock, that character is likely Elric. Titan Comics Elric Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne, written by Julien Blondel and illustrated by Didier Poli, Jean Bastide, and Robin Recht, has gained the respect and approval of Moorcock himself.

After a thousand years of rule, Elric, whose longevity spawns from his addition of medicinal herbs, is seeing his kingdom falling apart before him, as his cousin, Yyrkoon, plots to take over the Ruby Throne.

Moorcock, who first debuted his anti-hero, the albino emperor Elric of Melniboné, in the 1960s and 1970s, gave this graphic novel adaptation his full endorsement. There are often comparisons of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings, but Moorcock’s dark and gothic world of betrayal, loyalty, vengeance, and love is also a viable predecessor.

I had never read the novel version of Elric, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I did find the continual cruel and graphic torture and bloodletting of humans by the Melnibonéan race in fully illustrated form very off-putting and downright depressing. I realize it was intended to reflect early on the ruthless nature of the main race of people in this story, but after a while the piles of naked people wallowing in gore just seemed to get in the way of an otherwise interesting and well-crafted story.

Fantasy and science fiction lovers—myself included—might do best to stick to the novels, and leave the graphic novel version to those whose taste veers towards the horror stylings of Clive Barker or Eli Roth.

Age Recommendation: Mature

Corrina — Futures EndBatwoman #1 by Marc Andreyko and Jason Masters, Futures End: Wonder Woman #1 by Charles Soule and Rags Morales, Futures End: Superman/Wonder Woman #1 by Charles Soule and Bart Sears, Futures End: Justice League #1 by Jeff Lemire and Jed Dougherty, and Futures End: Batman and Robin #1 by Ray Fawkes and Dustin Nguyen

I’ve been disappointed with the vast majority of DC Comics for years now and I fully expected that to continue with the apostrophe-less Futures End issues set five years in the DC universe future. Thus, when I set down the stack sent by DC this week, it was with surprise. This were all readable. Some were fun. None were duds. Between this and new series like Gotham Academy, I may have to revise my overall opinion of the DC line.

Batwoman was the issue I’d been dreading. A pale-skinned lesbian becomes a vampire. Unimaginative. But the issue isn’t about that, not really. Kate Kane, now completely irredeemable, is hunted down by her sister, Alice, who has reformed. And so there’s a final confrontation between the sisters in a church that ends sadly but seems absolutely appropriate given their history.

A two-part story begins in Wonder Woman and concludes in Superman/Wonder Woman but this is really a WW solo story, focusing on her role as the new God of War and her battle with nemesis. Again, I expected to cringe at the use of Princess McStabby Sword as WW’s main personality but, instead, this concluded on a positive note that shows writer Charles Soule may actually get Wonder Woman. Oh, sure, the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship is in there and it’s still boring but it works as a friendship. (Which is always did.)

Futures End #1: Batman and Robin features yet another partner for Batman, a young man who was instrumental in helping Bruce Wayne survive his year-long Year Zero adventure. They’re up against Leviathan, who may or may not be a clone of Damian Wayne, Bruce’s dead son. But mostly the story is about Batman allowing people to help him. I thought it would end badly but, hey, another hopeful ending.

I’m not sure what Futures End: Justice League #1 was but it was interesting. The team seems to be an amalgam of space-based DC characters, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Justice League. But it all works, as they stop a breakout on a prison planet maintained by the Martian Manhunter. I expected the heroes to get slaughtered but, surprisingly, yet another one where heroes win.

DC better stop this or else I’ll start thinking they might be publishing actual superhero comics again.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Astro City Through Open Doors TP
Astro City Victory HC
Batman And Robin Futures End #1
Batman Eternal #24
Batman Superman Futures End #1
Batman Unwrapped The Court Of Owls HC
Batwoman Futures End #1
Fables #144
Forever Evil Arkham War TP
Godzilla Awakening TP
Gotham Central Special Edition #1
Green Lantern New Guardians Futures End #1
Infinite Crisis The Fight For The Multiverse #3
Justice League Futures End #1
Multiversity The Society Of Super-Heroes Conquerors Of The Counter-World #1
New 52 Futures End #20
New Teen Titans Vol. 1 TP
Red Hood And The Outlaws Futures End #1
Scribblenauts Unmasked A Crisis Of Imagination #9 (Final Issue) Kid-Friendly
Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #2
Supergirl Futures End #1
Superman Wonder Woman Futures End #1
Superman Wonder Woman Vol. 1 Power Couple HC
Teen Titans Futures End #1
Toe Tags Featuring George Romero TP
Trinity Of Sin Pandora Futures End #1
Unwritten Tommy Taylor And The Ship That Sank Twice TP
Unwritten Vol. 2 Apocalypse #9
Wonder Woman Futures End #1
All-New X-Factor #14
All-New X-Men #32
Avengers #35
Avengers Vol. 4 Infinity TP
Avengers World #13
Daredevil #8
Dark Tower The Drawing Of The Three The Prisoner #2 (Of 5)
Deadpool Bi-Annual #1
Edge Of Spider-Verse #2 (Of 5) New Mini-Series
Elektra #6
Figment #3 (Of 5)
Hulk #6
Hulk Annual #1
Indestructible Hulk Vol. 3 S.M.A.S.H. Time TP
Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man #5
Nova #21 GeekMom Recommended
Original Sin #5.5
Savage Hulk #4 New Series
Sub-Mariner And The Original Human Torch TP
Superior Spider-Man #33
Thor God Of Thunder #25
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man By Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 5 TP
Uncanny Avengers #24
Uncanny Avengers Vol. 3 Ragnarok Now TP
Uncanny X-Men #26
Uncanny X-Men Vol. 4 Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. HC
Wolverine And The X-Men #9
X-Men The Adventures Of Cyclops And Phoenix TP
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Doberman #3
Godzilla Cataclysm #2 (Of 5)
Judge Dredd #23
Littlest Pet Shop #5 (Of 5) Kid Friendly Final Issue
Maxx Maxximized #11
Super Secret Crisis War Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends #1 Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles in Time #4 (Of 4)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #33
Transformers Phase One Omnibus TP
X-Files Season 10 #16
Authentic Accounts Of Billy The Kid’s Old Timey Oddities Omnibus TP
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #123
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #7
Complete Silencers TP
Criminal Macabre The Third Child #1 (Of 4)
Dark Horse Presents #2
Eye Of Newt #4 (Of 4) Final Issue
Ghost Vol. 2 The White City Butcher TP
Good Luck Trolls Mystery Box Assortment Series 4
Leaving Megalopolis HC GeekMom Recommended
Red Moon HC
Savage Sword Of Conan Vol. 17 TP
Strain The Night Eternal #2 New Series
Witchfinder The Mysteries Of Unland #4 (Of 5)

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review copy of some of these titles.

8 Current Favorite Family Games

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Making Gloomy families at ConnectiCon. Image by Zach Schuetz.

Everyone goes through phases. In our family, it’s about games. We tend to play the same ones over and over until we’re ready for something new. This year, we happened to buy and play lots of new games, and they are keeping our interest. Most of them have been around for a few years; we just didn’t know about them until now! My kids are teenagers, but almost all of them are suitable for the younger set. Here’s a round-up of my family’s tabletop fun:

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Image by Gamewright.

Sushi Go! Yes! This game was introduced by a geekdad (Hi, Jamey!) at our homeschooling group and quickly became a favorite. Everyone selects sushi choices to add up points. The game play is passing card hands around each turn and selecting cards from your current hand. This means everyone is playing all the time. It is easy to learn, fast, and suitable for elementary ages and up. Plus, the pictures on the cards are adorable. Oh, the pudding…

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Image by Gamewright.

Forbidden Desert was a birthday present from my husband. So far, I have died a dry, sandy death more than survived. But I always had fun. This is a cooperative game, which I love, and the tiles that make up the board move around, which I think is fantastic. It takes constant attention, communication, and of course, luck.

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Image by Asmodee.

For a couple of years now, 7 Wonders has been one of our top choices. We’ve brought it to family game nights with friends and visiting grandparents. The first time through, we were ready to give up in 10 minutes because it seemed way too complicated. Then we actually played… and it’s not. And it only takes a half-hour. And there are multiple strategies. And we all enjoy it! The artwork is great and with cards being passed around, everyone is always playing. What I like best about this game is that you can play without having to pay attention to anyone else, or start looking around and use that to your advantage. This comes highly recommended!

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Image by RandR Games.

UnNatural Selection was a random pick at ConnectiCon‘s gaming area this year by my son. When we needed something that a large group could play and that didn’t require much, well, thought (it was Sunday morning), this was perfect. It has Apples to Apples-style of play (someone is the judge and the “winner” of the round is whatever they want, ending is whenever you want). The group puts together strange combinations of animals, beings, and attributes that are then compared to who would win in a fight. All ages. Ridiculous fun.

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Image by Atlas Games.

Gloom is disturbingly enjoyable. My friend Jenn introduced this one to us years ago, but we only recently started playing it ourselves. Everyone gets a family. Your goal is to kill them off, but only after they have become depressed (more depression is more points for you!). Attribute cards are both negative (for your family) and positive (for other people’s families). The best part of the game is making up storylines of why another player’s character Mr. Giggles was “delighted by ducklings” when he just was “diseased by dysentery.”

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Image by Fireside Games.

Castle Panic is another cooperative game. Ogres and other nasties are attacking your castle, and it’s up to your group to defend it! Lots of communication and planning several moves ahead for your team to win the day. A good one for elementary age and up. At ConnectiCon, our group won!

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Image by Rio Grande Games.

Race For The Galaxy is definitely for the older set of players. It’s kind of complicated, though to be fair my son and I were introduced to the game playing with the expansion set. Our friend Zach (again, at ConnectiCon) talked us through several rounds, and then we played a game. Each player is building civilizations in the galaxy. To win you must be capitalistically ruthless. There are multiple strategies, which is cool. My son really, really liked it. On the birthday list…

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Image by AEG.

Love Letter: Legend of The Five Rings was a random choice for me at my local gaming store. It is probably one of the easiest games to play without knowing what in the world you are doing. I learn by playing so after a few rounds I got it. It’s a lot of luck, but there is bluffing and keeping track of cards. Basically, every player is trying to win the hand of the princess by sending her a letter, but in a court of intrigue, that is harder than it sounds. The mechanics are pick a card, play a card. There are several version of Love Letter, so choose your favorite artwork!

Be the Artist: Andy Warhol

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Merge Andy Warhol’s Icon series with your favorite geeky fandoms for the geeky Pop Art project. Image by Lisa Kay Tate.

Welcome to part 2 of my summer-long series where kids, teens, and fun-loving adults can learn about influential and popular artists by lending their own geeky edge to their styles.

 The Artist: Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol’s influence in the Pop Art movement of the 1960s included paintings and silk-screen prints of “iconic” stars such as Marylin Monroe. Images: Public Domain.

Andy Warhol was an American artist, filmmaker, printmaker, and photographer, who led the Pop Art movement with colorful flair, most prominently in the 1960s.

Unlike abstract art that was popular in the 1950s, Pop Art often depicted immediately recognizable subjects, from cartoon characters to everyday items.

One of Warhol’s most recognizable examples of this was his Campbell’s Soup series of simple paintings on canvas. The soup can, an unlikely model for a portrait series, may have been indirectly inspired by a fellow artist of Warhol’s who told him to paint what he loved. The soup cans were part of his first major exhibition, and he claimed to have had the soup nearly everyday for lunch.

Warhol also liked to work with monoprinting (making “one-time” prints), silk-screening, using slide projections to trace drawings from projections, and experimenting with nearly every form for visual art.

He started out in the 1960s as a commercial illustrator, but soon moved away from commercial work into the world of popular art. His bohemian and counterculture attitude and appearance soon made him a celebrity in his own right, and he was dubbed the “Pope of Pop.” Actors, poets, musicians, and models were just a few of the people wanting to be part of his circle of friends. He has also been the subject of paintings, poems, documentaries, and even two children’s books, written and illustrated by his nephew, James Warhola.

Warhol passed away in 1987, but his work still feels new and current to many art lovers. In 2011, New York auction house Christie’s sold his painting of Elizabeth Taylor for more than $622,000, while his Double Elvis print was sold by Sotheby’s Auctions for $37 million.

The Project: “Geeky” Icons Portrait Series

One of Warhol’s techniques was to use images of popular individuals at the time, primarily historic figures and entertainers, such as Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, or Mick Jagger, and “re-imagine” them through changes in color schemes that go beyond what one would normally associate with a portrait.

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Repetitive black-and-white images of well-known actors are just the first step to creating an Andy Warhol-style creation. Image by Lisa Kay Tate.

Warhol’s silk-screen method was very precise and similar to how mass-produced prints were made. He used this method because he felt many of the celebrities themselves were “mass produced,” existing on paper and film as much as in their regular human form.

Since Warhol was very in tune with the current materials and methods of printmaking and commercial art at the time, one might imagine what he could have accomplished with modern-day, computer-based methods and photo apps. Whether or not he would have been happy with this progress, no one knows.

This project combines the best of both worlds—computer-based art and hand painting—in a tribute to both Warhol’s Icons and today’s geeky fandoms.

First, find a head shot of a favorite geeky icon—Stan Lee, Princess Leia, a Walking Dead zombie, etc.—and use any photo-editing program to make them black and white or a sepia tone. Another way is to take a color print and simply make black-and-white copies.

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Pop Art artists experimented with new materials and techniques. Don’t be afraid to try different media. Image by Lisa Kay Tate.

Copy and paste four to eight images of this photo, using any desktop publishing program.

Those who might not have one of these programs can print out as many copies of the image as they need, and cut and paste them by hand on a letter-size sheet. Don’t use the “pop art” or Warhol-inspired pre-done apps for this project, as they often don’t go beyond changing the background or image colors.

Once the repeated image has been printed, use whatever medium is desired to give each image its own unique personality. Felt tip markers, watercolors, colored pencils, and even crayons will work, depending on the age and skill of the artist.

Pop Art projects often encourage artists to go beyond the conventional way of looking at things, as artists look for creating something new and clever out of normal everyday images.

Even with this “no rules” attitude, there are three rules for this geeky project:
1. Use at least three different colors on each image.
2. Don’t make any two images the same. The whole point is to stretch the creative chords as far as possible.
3. Think about what would make Andy smile. Warhol and his art might not have appealed to everyone, but it wasn’t boring. Have fun and don’t be afraid to giggle a little at the results.

Even though this method is a little different and much less complicated than the one Warhol himself used, he might approve. After all, his definition of Pop Art was open to experimentation, imagination, and new ways of doing things.

“The pop idea was that anybody could do anything,” Warhol said. “So naturally, we were all trying to do it all.”

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Geeky Icons Series: “Tom Hiddleston” by Erin, age 4 (top); and “David Tennant” by Molly, age 12. Image by Lisa Kay Tate.

Fund This! Geek Dinnerware, Action Figures for Girls, Build Better Forts, and Compressed Air Rockets!

I have an amazing group of campaigns to close out the month of May! You are going to thank me! Fancy dinnerware for geeks, action figures for girls that are all heroine and no hooters, fort building taken to a new level, and compressed air gliders that rock the atmosphere!

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Photo courtesy of Calamityware

 

Calamity Dinnerware Plate

This was actually a series of three plates by graphic artist Don Moyer. There will be six plates in the series, but if popular he will go up to 12. If you missed the first two on Kickstarter, you can purchase them at BuyCalamityware.com in limited amounts. This plate, third in the series, is the Sea Monster. Words cannot express how badly I want these plates in my home. I have always been a sucker for the juxtaposition of science fiction and history. New into old. These are subtle yet attractive, and show off my geek without being overtly kitsch or loud. Want. Want. Want.

 

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Photo courtesy of IAmElemental

IAmElemental Action Figures for Girls

First, I want to commend these designers for making it clear they are not anti-doll, nor anti-princess. They are trying to change the female action figure from primarily pleasing adult male collectors to ones that please the interests of girls. I love their first collection, based on the idea of Courage which includes seven figures: Bravery, Energy, Honesty, Industry, Enthusiasm, Persistence, and Fear. By tackling archetypes with healthier body proportions that we can relate to, IAmElemental hopes to expand the stories girls are willing and able to tell. Completely real, completely fierce. I am going to need the whole set, thank you.

 

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Photo courtesy of Air Rocket Works

Launch Something! Air Rocket Toys

This is another great project from my friend and colleague Rick Schertle (and his partner Keith Violette) who have started a new venture: Air Rocket Works. There are actually two products I want to point out in this campaign. The first is a newly designed compressed air launcher. Yes, you could build one yourself (we have made several from scratch) but I have also gotten this kit and it is, frankly, much easier and less time consuming. Their new design looks sleek and simple, perfect for those who need a quick, efficient, and working path to start launching! The second product is their new Air Rocket Glider. It is a combination of the paper rockets and the wooden gliders, so that you launch the glider and air pressure holds the wings in until it reaches maximum height, and then the wings unfold to produce a lengthy and graceful flight. I have used Rick’s designs in our programs at Curiosity Hacked for almost two years, and they never fail to entertain and wow. Currently, I am adapting it to teach about rocketry in space, but we have explored many concepts through the compressed air launcher. There is so much you can do with this project.

 

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Photo courtesy of Buildies

Buildies: Build Better Forts

I don’t like to brag, but I am a master fort builder. My children beg me to build my elaborate forts, usually themed on some story and always assuming the floor is lava. I was sent a message about these, and I really loved the concept. The interlocking system would help with stability and the recycled cardboard makes me feel much better about what happens if, okay, WHEN, some of them get destroyed during a hostile take-over. That happens in everyone’s house, right? Best of all, they are open ended and gender neutral!

Happy Funding!

What to Expect at the New LegoLand Discovery Center Boston

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All Images: Sarah Pinault

LegoLand Discovery Center Boston opens today in Somerville’s new multi-faceted, multi-million-dollar plaza, Assembly Row. Covering 44,000 square feet, if you add up all the Lego bricks of the attractions within, there are over 3 million Lego bricks. Last week, along with some local elementary school classes, my family had a chance to check it out. This has been a highly anticipated opening for my Lego-obsessed family. So did it live up to our expectations?

Lego GiraffeThe adults had been antsy for days about the upcoming visit, so we didn’t tell my four-year-old where we were going. It’s a two-hour drive from Maine, and that is far more “Are we there yet?” than I can tolerate. The first inkling he had of what was happening came with the enormous giraffe made entirely of Duplo. It stands on a corner in Assembly Row, marking the entrance to the LegoLand Discovery Center. To say that he was excited is a significant understatement. And this is where our expectations diverged from his. Looking with a child’s eyes, his every dream was granted from the moment he set foot through the door, and I began to realize why they so specifically emphasize that adults aren’t allowed in without kids. While there are things in here for adults to appreciate, and diehard Lego fans will enjoy adults-only night, this place is all about the kids. And that’s exactly as it should be.

From the movie they show while you are in line, through the factory tour and minifig building of the entryway, to all of the activities inside, everything about this place is tailored for the enjoyment of the kids. So while my husband and I were hoping for Lego building classes, demonstrations maybe, a little more technical stuff, and some hands-on time with some kits, everything that we had actually been promised (and not imagined) went above and beyond our hopes. As it turns out, what we were looking forward to is everything that is provided in an in-house Lego birthday party. So that may be what we do for my husband’s 33rd birthday this year. Ahem.

Lego CheersBy far, the most impressive aspect of the Center was the Miniland depiction of Boston. This is one of the first things you encounter here, and is the largest Miniland in the U.S. If a visit to the Discover Center is part of a grander visit to Boston at large, it might be worth using this list of buildings and going on an architectural treasure hunt, to see what you can see in both real life and Lego. Complete with underground sections where you can view marine life, trains, and in one section, the bar and cast of Cheers, Boston in miniature is a fun place to hang out. The room simulates night and day so that you can experience it fully, and all the age groups in our party enjoyed the interactive features. We played baseball at Fenway Park, went boat racing on the Charles River, and blasted cannons into the water. We had a soft spot for the rendition of Logan Airport, which took up almost an entire wall. My son often joins me in picking up his grandparents at Logan Airport, so he spent a lot of time looking for minifigs of Nanny and Granddad.

Once you exit the initial interactive factory tour and have worked your way around Miniland Boston, you enter the Discovery Center proper. This was not at all what I had expected. It was a completely open plan environment, where I had expected more of a Smithsonian feel, with different “exhibits” in several large cavernous rooms. This was one cavernous room, probably 30,000 square feet of open play rumpus. If your kids are runners, you are coming with slower grandparents, or if you are thinking of bringing multiple children, I advise extreme caution. Part of my issue with this layout was the setup of Duplo Farm. I had anticipated a quieter space where younger siblings could avoid being trampled by their enthusiastic, older counterparts. Though intended for younger children, it was not the oasis of calm from the rest of the Center that I had hoped for. It is completely open and is not roped off from the rest of the attractions in any way. Big kids can run straight through and little kids can run away very easily. The play area itself is pretty great, with life-size versions of several Duplo animals that my son loves, but I’m not sure it accomplishes what many parents would want it to.

Both rides offered within the Center were fun. The Kingdom Quest Laser Ride and Merlin’s Apprentice Ride both resemble old-fashioned carnival rides. Kingdom Quest is a love-boat-style ride where you have to defeat the bad guys, with lasers, in order to rescue the princess. It reminded me of the laser tag matches of my college years. The car keeps score of how many bad guys you shoot down. Shooting the troll gets the most points. Incidentally, the gun does not respond if you try to shoot a good guy. You neither lose nor gain points; the gun just doesn’t respond. Merlin’s Apprentice is a spinning ride wherein you pedal as fast as you can to see how high you can get. The seats are fully adjustable, for kids and adults. Both my four-year-old and I were able to pedal at the same time, though he much preferred it when I did.

Lego RacersWhen it came to the two main construction areas, The Earthquake Table and the Lego Racers: Build & Test zone, we were delighted. My husband has fond memories of his Pinewood Derby years, so we were excited to build and race our own cars. It was challenging, but one of the best sections of the Center. None of the kids we raced with managed to make a car that made it all the way to the bottom of the track, so in this section, a little more hands-on adult interaction would be good. There are two tracks to race down: A straight one for speed, and a steep, curved one, mostly for fun. Be warned, this steep one apparently looks like a slide to many kids. A staff member we chatted with had already been chastised by an overbearing parent/teacher, who didn’t appreciate the staff member pointing out that it wasn’t a slide. Be nice to the Lego staff, folks; they are there for your child’s enjoyment and safety. You have to climb over a block and up onto something that doesn’t have steps in order to use it as a slide, but that won’t stop some kids, apparently. This was the section my husband had the most fun playing with our son in, even though their cars didn’t get very far. The Earthquake Table was initially a disappointment, as it utilizes Duplo bricks instead of Lego bricks, but ultimately proved to be tremendous fun. It’s easy for an adult to build a tower that will last, but the kids got a kick out of making them deliberately fall down.

Lego Friends

The biggest surprise for me was how much my son and I enjoyed the Lego Friends section. I admit, try as I might to leave them behind, I carried prejudiced expectations with me. I wanted to dislike and dismiss the area as sexist, based mainly on my dislike of the Friends minifigs. But this area was easily one of my favorite aspects of the Center. The karaoke area is pretty fun, but there is more Lego in this area than in other areas of the Center, and that was inspiring to all of the kids we witnessed using it. My son had a great time making us a Lego lunch, while we relaxed at one of the diner tables. While we were there, kids of all ages and genders were running in and out making Lego food, and just hanging out. We came back to this section several times. Funnily enough, this section used a fake house facade and so was closed off in the way I had expected the Duplo Farm to be.

The Lego 4D cinema was enjoyed by all. I’m not so sure that I like the foam used as snow, but a new adventure from Clutch Powers is well worth a small sprinkling of rain in my book. If your child isn’t a fan of 3D glasses or of a tactile experience being literally thrown at them, then I would definitely avoid this. Interactive as it is, it’s also a nice place to cool off and chill out for 10 minutes.

If your child has no interest in chilling out, then the Lego City: Play Zone is the place to be. Climbing walls, slides, and a jungle gym will ensure that your child sleeps all the way home. There are even house brick-sized Lego bricks made of sturdy foam, for life-size construction. There is only one access point to this area, so your child isn’t going to sneak out unnoticed, but be warned: It goes all the way to the ceiling and can be hard to keep track of where your small child is. This is not a play zone for the younger ages or for children who might respond badly to being closed into a small space with other raucous children.

Lego EntryUnlike the access point of most children’s museums, you are admitted into the Discovery Center in batches, more like riders at a theme park attraction. After going up to the second floor in the elevator, you line up according to a color group. Then, 24 people at a time are allowed into the control center. Shut into this room, you watch a short video of a factory tour, do a little interactive minifig creation, and the doors then open up to the main Center. It will be understandably frustrating to be waiting on the other side to get in, but the controlled release of visitors is a sensible method that, as the mother of flighty children, I appreciated. The occupancy limit of the building is 700 persons, including staff and parents. So with only 24 people allowed to go through the entryway at one time, there is a system in place for controlling the flow. Though the website says online pre-purchasing of your tickets is optional, the PR group assures me that tickets should be pre-purchased online for specific windows to guarantee admission. This is a bit of a bummer if you happen to just be in the area, but I think we all travel with at least one smartphone per family group these days, for just such a reason as this. The attraction has seen overwhelming demand, and tickets for opening weekend were sold out two weeks ago. 

I was not impressed with the cafeteria for several reasons. The options are limited and the prices are high. Also, much like the Duplo Farm, the cafeteria is not roped off in any way. There is no buffer between your meal and the regular crazy of the attraction.  I would have no luck in keeping either of my children at the lunch table, with all of the things going on around them. I would definitely eat before going in, or upon exiting the center.

Lego StoreThe last thing we visited before leaving was the in-house Lego Store.  While the options seemed just as good as those found in a stand-alone store, the vibe just wasn’t there for us. It had fewer display models than a regular store and less innovation by staff. But fear not, the nearest Lego Store is in the Burlington Mall, a mere 8 miles or 30-minute drive away. If you don’t get what you are looking for at the Center, it’s not that much of  a haul to get to the store. We went at the end of the day and had a great time with the staff in Burlington. It is worth noting that since the LegoLand Discovery Centers are owned by the Merlin Entertainments group and not by Lego, VIP programs and rewards won’t work in the on-site Lego Store.

We were at the LegoLand Discovery Center for about 90 minutes and while we were ready to leave at that point, our son cried when his time was up. The recommended two-to-three hours would definitely be a good time frame for a busier day than we encountered.

Will we return? The price tag and the chaos I expect to be contained within after opening day may deter me. But the love my son bears for the place may be the deciding factor. Every time we ask him what his favorite aspect was, he has a different answer, a different reason for the answer, and something he wants to try next time. Needless to say, it was a hit with him, and if asked, he would be there everyday. If older grandparents or younger children want to go, I would go during one of their quieter times, weekdays or later in the afternoon would be best. If you live nearby and are looking for birthday party options, the package they offer seems well worth it.

GeekMom visited LegoLand Discovery Center Boston on Press Preview Day.

4 Easy Ways to Enjoy May The Fourth

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You don’t have to search the galaxy to find an easy way to enjoy Star Wars Day as a family. All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

May 4, AKA May The Fourth, has been officially designated Star Wars Day, a day when fans everywhere are encouraged to celebrate George Lucas’ legacy of nearly 40 years. Since this saga spans generations and will continue to do so for future ones, the best way to enjoy this day is as a family. Here are a few ideas:

1. Start (or Re-start) The Machete Order. Technically, Star Wars Episode IV came first. Parents who grew up during the reign of the original trilogy know that the worldwide phenomenon started with Episode IV: A New Hope. As such, there’s one rule all good parents know: “Watch Episode IV first.”

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The Machete Order: Start with Episode IV and avoid Episode I.

A blogger named Rod Hilton came up with the now-popular Machete Order of watching the films, ignoring the numerical titles and watching in a more story-driven order. Start with A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, then flashback and watch Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.  Finally, finish up with Return of the Jedi.

This method completely excludes Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Hilton argues that it has several elements that just don’t click with the rest of the story, not to mention it’s gratuitous use of annoying characters like Jar Jar Binks and “Lil’ Anakin.” Instead, watch it later as an “extended universe” movie, to enjoy some of its better qualities such as the pod race scene and Qui-Gon Jinn.

What better day than The Fourth to start watching the Fourth?

2. Find the Local “To-Do.” In 2014, May 4 comes the day after Free Comic Book Day, and many venues might be inclined to make an entire weekend of geeky fun. Find out from your local stores if there are any giveaways, cosplay contests, or other events planned for that day.

One place to start is the Disney Store, which has Star Wars Day “Ways of the Force” events planned nationwide, featuring giveaways, lightsaber training, and other interactive events for kids.

Some cities may have even more options. Fans living in the Los Angeles area can visit theStar Wars Legion Exhibition from May 2-4 at the Robert Vargas Gallery. The event is displaying Stormtooper helmets re-imagined by celebrities and artists.

The annual Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios in Florida doesn’t kick off until May 16 this year, but Star Wars-themed dining experiences, including a Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast, will begin May 4.

3. Hit the Bookstore or Library. For my family, the Star Wars extended universe is another reason to purchase or read more books. Visit a favorite library or bookstore and let everyone select an age-appropriate Star Wars-themed book to purchase or checkout.

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Star Wars readers can find books for any age.

Some of our own favorites include Scholastic’s Star Wars ABC or Star Wars 123 for beginning readers, Jedi Academy by Vader’s Little Princess author Jeffrey Brown, or The Strange Case of Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger for ‘tweens. Teens and adults may also enjoy William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and The Empire Striketh Back.

If they’ve already read most of the stories spawned from this universe, look at similar science-fiction stories or non-fiction books on space.

This idea can overlap with the previous suggestion, as bookstores and libraries are some of the best places to find local May the Fourth events.

4. Sit Down to Family Game Night, Star Wars-style. Star Wars-themed products have infiltrated pretty much everything, and it isn’t hard to find Star Wars versions of classic tabletop games from checkers and chess to Monopoly and Trouble. For older kids and teens, Star Wars: The Card Game is a good strategy-driven battle game for up to four players.

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Don’t forget the proper snacks for a Star Wars-themed game night.

If you don’t want to purchase a game, Charades and Who Am I are easily adaptable to the Star Wars universe, and can be geared towards the knowledge level of the players.

You can also add to the fun, by making simple Star Wars-themed snacks. Vanilla “blue” milkshakes are easy to make; just add a drop of blue food coloring to regular milk. Both of the Star Wars Cookbooks, Volume I (Wookiee Cookies) and Volume II (Darth Malt), have other recipe ideas, including “Sebulba’s Sinister Cider” and “Watto-melon Cubes,” which complement game night well.

Sometimes the simplest reasons to celebrate are often the most fun, and fan-created commemorations like Star Wars Day can turn an ordinary Sunday afternoon into something special. If any of these above suggestions don’t start your lightsaber, brainstorm with your own Padawans about ways to celebrate. They might come up with something impressive. Even Jedi Master Yoda himself said, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.”

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — The Return of a Batman Fan Favorite, Superman, and StarMage!

Batman Eternal

The tease of Spoiler in the Batman: Eternal preview earlier this year. Copyright DC Comics

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week I take a look at the new all ages comic book, StarMage, and Corrina jumps into the world of Batman with Batman: Eternal, Batman/Superman, and Secret Origins

Dakster Sullivan — StarMage #1 by J.C De La Torre and Ray Dillon

StarMage #1 ] Image: IDW Publishing

StarMage #1 ] Image: IDW Publishing

The first issue is pretty simple with a mix of current events mixed with flashbacks to our lead Darien Connor’s life. Darien is typical high school teenager with girl and bully problems to boot.

One day, he gets sucked up into an adventure and learns that he might not be as ordinary as he thought.

The writing and art went together seamlessly. I enjoyed the choice of colors for each scene and how the artist captured the emotion that really tugged at the heart strings.

The only thing I didn’t like about the story were the random flashbacks. I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on each time it switched, but after reading the issue a second time, I picked up on what happened.

I’m hoping the next issue has a few less confusing flashbacks and an easy to understand explanation of where Darien is from and how he is going to handle the fight that is coming towards him.

StarMage is a new series published by IDW for ages 10 and up.

Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of this title.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Corrina — Batman Eternal #3 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Jason Fabok

She’s baaaack! Stephanie Brown, the crimefighting daughter of a C-list supervillain, returns to DC Comics after more than two years in limbo, a miraculous return after being erased from existence and after DC editorial deemed pitches concerning the character were “toxic.”

Steph makes her re-appearance in this new weekly series featuring the entire cast of Batman’s Gotham. For a weekly book, the pace of the first three issues has been very quick, with Jim Gordon being removed form his place as commissioner to allow the criminals a free hand in Gotham, and Batman and Catwoman quickly on the trail of the man who seems behind it all, crime boss Carmine Falcone. Stephanie returns to Gotham much as she began—over-hearing the crimes being planned by her super-villain father and wanting to stop them. But first, she has to escape him.

For the first time in a long time, a Bat-book from DC has my full attention.

Secret Origins: Superman, Robin, Supergirl, various creators

Two years after the universe has been rebooted, DC is starting to once again redo the origins of some of the most iconic heroes. Superman, his cousin Kara aka Supergirl, and Robin (Dick Grayson) are featured in this first issue. Greg Pak, Lee Weeks, & Sandra Hope tackle Superman with a nice retelling of his famous origin. I was worried they’d make him darker and more grim but, no, this is the classic tale of the baby rescued from a field who’s as much the son of the Kents as the son of Krypton.

Supergirl, Kara Zor-el, is the one who gets the angry origin. Once Superman’s older cousin, Kara eventually finds her way to Earth long after her cousin has grown up. He’s as much a stranger as the rest of the world. She misses Krypton, her friends, and her family and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. The best part of the story by Tony Bedard and Paulo Siqueira are the first seven pages set on Krypton which gives us a sense of the world Kara has lost.

No angst for Dick Grayson who remains one of the most optimistic characters left in the DC universe. This retelling of his early days by Kyle Higgins and Doug Mahnke has one of the sweetest scenes I’ve read in a long time between Dick and his parents. I was wondering when the tale would descend into darkness but instead it ends on a nice note with Dick honoring his dead parents with joy, rather than sadness. My only quibble is that I don’t like that Grayson has been aged up so he’s more of a little brother to Bruce Wayne than his foster son.

Batman/Superman Volume #1: Cross World by Greg Pak and Jae Lee ($22.99), to be released May 6.

Haunting.

That’s the best way to describe the story devised by Pak and Lee that features at least two sets of Batmen and Supermen, along with the Earth-2 versions of Catwoman and Lois Lane. Lee’s stylish art creates a dream-like atmosphere as the two younger versions of Batman and Superman are manipulated by a demon from Apokolips.

There are some fun moments and some meta-commentary on how angry the new 52 Superman seems to be in comparison to his older Earth-2 counterpart but, mostly, it’s a tense affair as four heroes race to save a couple of worlds. Yet the end makes it clear that the worse is yet to come. It’s a fine story, though not my favorite because of the dark tone, but Lee’s art is so atmospheric that any reader will be drawn in this story world.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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All-Star Western #30
Aquaman #30
Batman Eternal #3
Batman Superman #9
Books Of Magic TP
Catwoman #30
Dead Boy Detectives #5
Deadman Vol. 5 TP
Flash #30
Green Lantern Vol. 3 The End TP
Green Lantern Vol. 4 Dark Days HC
Justice League Dark #30
Justice League United #0
Larfleeze #10
MAD Magazine #527
Red Lanterns #30
Secret Origins #1
Superman #30
Teen Titans #30 (Final Issue)
Teen Titans Go #3
All-New Invaders #4
Avengers Undercover #3
Brilliant Vol. 1 HC (Premiere Edition)
Captain Marvel #1
Daredevil #2 New Series
Dexter Down Under #3 (Of 5)
Elektra #1 New Series
Fantastic Four #3
George Romero’s Empire Of The Dead Act One #4 (Of 5)
Guardians Of The Galaxy #14 GeekMom Recommended 
Iron Patriot #2 New Series
Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 16 HC
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man #25
Origin II #1 (Of 5) New Mini Series
Original Sin #0 New Event
Powers Bureau #9
Savage Wolverine #17
Savage Wolverine Vol. 1 Kill Island TP
Secret Avengers Vol. 3 How To MA.I.M. A Mockingbird TP
Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #12
Thor By Walter Simonson Vol. 5 TP
Thunderbolts #25
Uncanny Avengers #19
What If Age Of Ultron #4 (Of 5)
X-Men Legacy Vol. 4 For We Are Many TP
X-Men An Origin Story HC
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24 #1 New Series
7th Sword #1 New Series
City The Mind In The Machine #3
Danger Girl May Day #1 (Of 4) New Mini Series
Dungeons And Dragons Forgotten Realms Classics Omnibus Vol. 1 TP
G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #201
Godzilla Rulers Of Earth #11
Magic The Gathering Vol. 4 Theros TP
Popeye Classics #21
Princess Of Mars Illustrated Prose HC
Rocketeer The Spirit Pulp Friction HC
Rogue Trooper #3
Samurai Jack Classics Vol. 2 TP Kid Friendly
Star Slammers Re-Mastered #2
Star Trek #32
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #7
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #33
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures Vol. 7 TP
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #10 Kid Friendly
Transformers Robots In Disguise #28
X-Files Season 10 Vol. 2 HC GeekMom Recommended
Bride Of The Water God Vol. 15 TP
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 #2
Conan The Avenger #1
EC Archives Weird Fantasy Vol. 1 HC
Eltingville Club #1 (Of 2)
Gantz Vol. 31 TP
Halo Escalation #5
Mass Effect Foundation #10
Massive #22
Mind MGMT #21
Someplace Strange HC
Star Wars Legacy II #14
Star Wars Omnibus Knights Of The Old Republic Vol. 3 TP
Tomb Raider #3
Witcher #2 (Of 5)

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

Come to the Pink Side, We Have Tutus

Photo Ella Rose: Melody Mooney

This is Ella Rose; she is three. Her favorite day of the week is Tuesday, which is ballet class day. She loves pink and she loves tutus.

Ella was born into a very geek-centric family, so her girly-girl behavior came as a bit of a surprise to her father and me. “Pink” was never a big-bad four-letter word in our home, but we also knew how influenced she would be by the popularity of Disney Princesses among her schoolmates. We wanted to give her options, so we practiced a huge amount of “geek balance” right from the start.

She learned her alphabet from the Star Wars ABC book. Her first eight-inch dolls were Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn, not Barbies. I shopped in the boys’ section of Target for all of her shirts, which had superheroes on them, not Mini Mouse. We bought her Doctor Who hair clips and a teddy bear companion at local craft fairs. My husband even joined in and donated to the Goldieblox Kickstarter campaign, which created toys to get girls interested in engineering.We were content with the Jedi training of our little geekling. Maybe, though, we were smug. We might even have been presumptuous.

As Ella grew, she began to exert her own personality, she chose what she wanted to wear and play with. That’s when the tide of pink and tutus began to rise. Questions regarding negative gender influence and threats to her developing mighty girl power began to plague me. Would my GeekMom card get revoked if it were revealed that Snow White was her favorite princess and not Leia?

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Yoda Potty Trained Jedi for 900 years Photo: Melody Mooney

Yoda was always perched on Ella’s pink princess potty as she trained in the bathroom. But looking him in the eye became uncomfortable.  I felt a great disturbance in our family force.

I felt a strange sense of guilt about all of this. Were we not, after all, huge advocates for choice? It seemed to me that we were restricting her play and imagination to things that fit our ideology. Even stranger was that her male playmates were getting praised for putting on a crown and fairy wings. Why was it so wrong for Ella? I realize the important groundwork that has been laid and the awareness that is growing when it comes to young girls, role models, career and life choices. Frozen and the wonderful message it provides was one of her first movie theater experiences. It is truly exciting to think of Ella’s nearly unlimited future as a woman. We could be looking at a future engineer, a future NASA pilot, or world leader. What if her future includes studying ballet at Juilliard and wearing tutus for a living? Would limiting those first experimental choices because they are viewed as damaging be playing god with her future? As parents—even geekling-parents—we need to guide, educate, and support her in whatever path she chooses. Yes, we must accept and brace ourselves that she may even find A New Hope, Dungeons and Dragons, and comic books terribly boring and lame.

Time moves so quickly. Why not let her dance in whatever color makes her happy now? There are very serious challenges just around her future’s corner. Flights of fancy, glitter, and princess dresses will give way to other stages. Letting go, we are trusting that we will all find balance in this exploration.  Leaving today for her ballet class, I smiled at her and surrendered to the Pink Side. After all, they do have seriously cute tutus.

That Moment Your Wedding Photos Look Ridiculously Dated

The Happy Couple, Image: Nicole Wakelin

The Happy Couple, Image: Nicole Wakelin

How did I reach a point where I now roll my eyes at my own wedding pictures? It could have something to do with being married for 22 years which leaves a lot of room for fashions to change, but it’s not like I’m 80. It wasn’t that long ago!

Still, when I celebrated my 22nd anniversary last week and put my standard wedding picture on Facebook and Twitter for all my friends to see, I was struck by just how dated it looks today. I had a perm. I had puffy sleeves. And I have no explanation at all for my husband’s hair. What a couple of nerds!

Actually, I do have an explanation. It was his worst haircut ever. He knows it. I know it. His Mom refused to buy any photos where he was looking straight at the camera because it was so noticeable. Honestly, at the time I was hardly aware of it in the rush of the wedding day. He got it cut just the day before, so it wasn’t until we were on our honeymoon that I looked at him and thought, “What the heck did you do to your hair?”

My Husband and The Best Man, Image: Nicole Wakelin

My Husband and The Best Man, Image: Nicole Wakelin

Russ is sporting a bad haircut, but at least he’s not dated. Crooked is crooked no matter the decade and the barber is more to blame than my husband. I also blame my brother-in-law, John, because what kind of Best Man doesn’t immediately see that and make the Groom march right back into the nearest barber shop? Also, John is totally bald now so I guess that’s payback.

My husband is wearing a pretty generic tux which hasn’t changed a heck of a lot over the years. Guys are lucky that way unless you were unfortunate enough to have a formal affair in the ’70s with those ruffled shirts. Those poor guys didn’t stand a chance.

I, however, fully embraced the year 1992 on my wedding day. I swear to God, permed hair was a thing. We thought it looked awesome. One look at my bridesmaids confirms it wasn’t just me. I know, we look laughable today and I don’t know how we fit all that hair in the limo, but it was a thing, people!

See, the hair was a thing! Image: Nicole Wakelin

See, the hair was a thing! Image: Nicole Wakelin

Also, puffy sleeves. The world was fresh out of the Big ’80s and those sleeves were cool. I was all princess-y with my puffy sleeves and permed hair and just shut up and let me have my moment. I think of them as Snow White sleeves, so, yeah, a Disney nerd even on my wedding day.

It’s been 22 years and fashion has thankfully moved on from perms and puffy sleeves and hopefully that barber has moved on to another career. I look very young, and the photos are very dated, but crooked hair or no, I love my husband even more than I did the day we were married.

But he’s not allowed to pick a barber without my approval. Ever.

Girls & Women Increasingly Shortchanged Onscreen

sexism in movies, family movies sexist, hypersexualized girls in movies,

Stay tuned for sexism. (Image: morguefile)

For years my daughter’s favorite movie was Just Visiting. The 2001 remake of a hit French comedy was packed with plenty for my little girl to adore. Magic, time travel, and plenty of humor. Some quotes from the film are still in rotation as favorite family sayings.

Although it didn’t lack for laughs, it was missing something more vital. Strong female roles. Sure, women starred in the film. Passive, pretty characters who merely gain a stronger sense of themselves through men. Well, there’s also a stereotypical witch. Don’t even get me started on that.

I’m not about to stomp my foot and decry one B movie because the women’s roles aren’t up to good-for-my-daughter standards. But when I take a look at movies available in theaters and on Netflix, foot stomping seems imperative.

In the real world girls and women have full, interesting lives. Their conversations are complex and rarely limited to attracting the “right” partner. But in the entertainment world, females are too often little more than gloss. Sexy gloss.

female movie stereotypes, princess stereotypes,

Stereotyped leading ladies. (Image: Jeff Brunner thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/10/25/disney-princesses-deconstructed)

One way to gauge a female character’s presence in any movie is the Bechdel test. (You may have read our recent post applying the Bechdel test to a comic as well as a TV show.)  This method doesn’t imply that a particular movie has merit, it simply demonstrates character treatment based on gender. To pass the Bechdel test, a movie has to meet all of the following three qualifications:

  1. Have at least two female characters (with names known to the audience)
  2. who have a conversation with each other
  3. about something besides a male.

Recall the last five movies you saw. How many really pass the test?

Which movies pass the Bechdel test? (Mashup: L. Weldon)

According to the Bechdel test database, plenty of 2013 movies such The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, After Earth, Mud, Star Trek Into Darkness, Ender’s Game, The Fifth Estate, and Anchorman 2, don’t pass the test.

Kids’ movies aren’t much better. Bechdel test failures include The Croods, Monsters University, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Planes.

Another way to pay attention to gender disparity in movies is to simply count the number of male and female characters. We may be leaning in, but there’s less evidence on the screen. In 2012 films, only 28.4 percent of speaking characters were female. That’s actually down from 2009.

In both animated and live action family-rated films, for every female speaking character there are nearly three male characters. Crowd scenes in these movies are only 17 percent female. This ridiculous ratio of male to female characters has been the same since 1946. On screen, girls and women simply don’t warrant half the space. As Geena Davis writes in The Hollywood Reporter,

 …We are in effect enculturating kids from the very beginning to see women and girls as not taking up half of the space. Couldn’t it be that the percentage of women in leadership positions in many areas of society — Congress, law partners, Fortune 500 board members, military officers, tenured professors and many more — stall out at around 17 percent because that’s the ratio we’ve come to see as the norm?

Women and girls are also likely to be portrayed in stereotypical, often hypersexualized roles. Of the top grossing films in 2012, sexualization of characters aged 13 to 20 years old was well over 50 percent. This is an increase of 22 percent from 2009.  It seems girl power, even in today’s family films, has a lot to do with sexy clothes.

This gender disparity is more than annoying. It’s damaging. Sexualized stereotypes are linked to a slew of problems in girls as well as women including eating disorders, poor self-esteem, and depression. Girls and young women who frequently consume mainstream media content are more likely to believe that a woman’s value is based on physical attractiveness. Even very young girls are beginning to self-objectify, to think of themselves as objects to be evaluated by appearance.  Today’s kids consume a lot of media, so it’s ever more vital for parents to insure it doesn’t relentlessly reinforce those Hollywood ideals.

The good news? According to Vocativ, top grossing movies tend to score well on the Bechdel Test. In 2013, films passing the test grossed 4.22 billion dollars while films that failed brought in 2.66 dollars. We’re voting with our money, loud and clear.

In my house Just Visiting has given way to new favorites. I’ll be watching them with popcorn, a snuggly blanket, and some attitude. My foot is just itching to stomp.

GeekMom 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Video Games, Videos, Music, and–Oh My!

Are you looking for something to give the screen-time loving geek on your list? Look no further than our video games and videos suggestions. If your geek likes a little music while tapping up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, then check out our music selections as well.
Video Games

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The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD. Image: Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD Thanks to the re-release of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD for the Wii U, fans of Zelda can join Link on ones of his most beloved journeys again. Wind Waker was already notable for fun gameplay and the unique use of the cel-shaded animation style, and seeing it in HD makes it all the more remarkable. $49.99

Pokemon X and Y. Image: Nintendo

Pokemon X and Y. Image: Nintendo

Pokémon X and Pokémon Y If the Pokémon fan in your life doesn’t already have this, it’s a safe bet to assume this is top of the list. The game has improved graphics and new characters that will delight hardcore fans and newcomers alike. $39.99 each

skylanders-swapforce

Skylanders Swap Force. Image: Activision

Skylanders Swap Force Why settle on the power of a single Skylander action figure when you can swap powers to get just the right combination you need? Skylanders fans will love this newfound power. $74.99

Angry-Birds-Star-Wars-Telepods

Angry Birds: Star Wars Telepods. Image: Hasbro

Angry Birds: Star Wars Telepods Do you ever play Angry Birds: Star Wars and think, “Gosh, I could beat this level if only I had some different birds?” Now you have the power! Place an Angry Bird telepod over your device camera and boom! Your new bird is now in the game. Plus, the birds make super cute collectibles. $8.99 – $39.99

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Mario and Luigi Dream team. Image: Nintendo

Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Join Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and many more new characters as they travel back and forth between the Dream World and the ‘real’ world. This game is set up much like Paper Mario in the difficulty, but has many more things to collect and do. A young grade-schooler could probably handle this game. $28.36

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Moshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed. Image: Activision

Moshi Monsters: Katsuma Unleashed This is a simple platformer game with cute fuzzy animals. Collect all of the captured creatures and use their abilities to make it through the world maps and mini-games. $30

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Hot Wheels: World’s Best Driver. Image: WB Games

Hot Wheels World’s Best Driver Don’t let the name fool you, this game is challenging! Trick out your vehicle for optimum race results. This game reminds me of some of the more complex racing games going back to Forza Motorsport 3. For gamers who like racing games with some challenge, this can be a stocking-stuffer. $20

Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World. Image: Nintendo

Super Mario 3D World If you’ve been putting off getting a Wii U, Super Mario 3D World is the best reason so far to get one. Bright, cheerful, adorable, and one of the best family multi-player games out there, Super Mario 3D World feels a little like Super Mario Bros. 2 in spirit, but without any of the annoyances. Pick this game up if you’ve been on the hunt for a truly enjoyable game the family can play together. $59.99

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Wipeout Create and Crash Image: Activision

Wipeout Create & Crash Wipeout Create and Crash is a fun and challenging game for all ages. After watching the show with my son, I have to say this game is a nice compliment to the show and some of the courses look pretty familiar. Some of the obstacles would never work in the show, but that’s one of the things that makes this fun to play and funny to watch. $39.99

Movies

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Much Ado About Nothing. Image: Amazon.com

Much Ado About Nothing feels like a gathering of old friends, with many familiar faces from the Whedonverse, all joining together to match wits and talk of love and romance. If your friends or family are longtime fans of Angel and long to see Wesley and Fred get the happy time together they deserved, buy this for them now. $24.99

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A Pony for Every Season. Image: Amazon.com

My Little Pony: A Pony for Every Season Fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, big and small, will love this collection of six episodes from the first three seasons of the show. Each episode spotlights one of the Mane Six, including “Keep Calm and Flutter On,” a Fluttershy-centric episode that features the delightful voice talents of John de Lancie. $14.97

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Season One. Image: Amazon.com 

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 1/Season 2 If your My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fan wants to have the full collection of My Little Pony cartoons, start their collection with the first two seasons. Several GeekMom writers (or their spouses and kids) love the show and how some jokes and references are made just for the 25- to 40-year-old crowd. The writing is amazing, and the art is great too. $30 each

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Robot Chicken Season 6. Image: Time Warner Home Video

Robot Chicken: Season 6 Blu-Ray Robot Chicken fans are going to absolutely love the Season 6 Blu-Ray: not only are all twenty 15-minute episodes included, but there is at least that much in deleted skits, storyboards, and interviews with the writing and stop-motion animation talent that accompany Matthew Senrich and Seth Green’s twisted humor. The perfect gift for your favorite Adult Swim fan.$39.99

Music

Lindsey Stirling. Image: Amazon.com

Lindsey Stirling. Image: Amazon.com

Lindsey Stirling If you haven’t caught any of Lindsey Stirling’s geeky videos on YouTube, you are missing out! Check her out. Her new album would make a great stocking-stuffer for the orchestra or music-geek on your list. $9

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The Doubleclicks Albums. Image: theDoubleclicks.com

The Doubleclicks have Worst Superpower Ever, an album for kids, as well as several adult albums. Check out their albums for stocking-stuffers for the music lover on your holiday list. $13

Game On: A Married Gal’s Look at The Geek’s Guide to Dating

geek'sguidetodatingcover

Images © Quirk Books

Ready, Player One.

I’ve been married to my best friend for nearly 20 years. I’m not saying this to be saccharine, but to emphasize the point that we are comfortable around each other to a fault… We get each other’s jokes and have learned each other’s flaws (not always pretty, I’ll admit), and we enjoy the occasional “date night.”

However, the person I’m with has become so familiar, I wonder what would happen if we took a step back and looked at each other for the first time. Would I be happy with what I see? More importantly, would he? I know I’m a compatible wife, mom, and friend, but would I still make for a good date? After all, I am a colossal, yet fun, nerd.

To test my “dating prowess” I recently looked over The Geek’s Guide to Dating (Quirk Books) by Eric Smith, to ready myself to get back on the hypothetical horse… or Stormtrooper Speederbike, as it were.

First, I have to find out what type of “geek” I am: Book Geek? Gamer? Movie Geek? It  looks like many of us are a combination of these. I know I am.

Next, where should I go to meet geeks and non-geeks. Smith offers suggestions. Arcade? No seems kind of predatory and gross. Online? Uh, definitely not me. Bookstore? Bingo! This one is still where my husband and I like to visit on both family and date nights. One of the sexiest smells to me is books and Earl Grey, but I’ve said too much.

eric smith

Eric Smith

Smith goes on in later chapters to discuss approaching someone for a date and preparing for the date (apparently ladies like a man in red, but I can’t say I’ve ever found Santa Claus or Waldo attractive). His dark jeans with a blazer idea… go for it, boys!

There’s talk about the date itself, of course, followed by where to go from there, should said date go well, but I won’t share too much yet. As River Song would say… “Spoilers!” I will cede he has some very fun suggestions all couples would enjoy, and some I’ve actually done (see: “The At-Home Mini Film Festival”).

Although this book includes a brief “note for the geek gal” stating these principles pertain to everyone, the book is written with a guy-to-guy angle. However, I like that, because what he is saying to his fellow geek dudes (and all men, actually) is great, and much of it is what we geek gals (or all gals, for that matter) have been trying to say. There were a couple of areas where I felt like I had pointed one of Douglas Adams’s “Point of View Guns” at him, so he could see where I’m coming from. This was particularly true for me with his myth-busting section that includes the “Princess Problem,” MPDG (Manic Pixie Dream Girl) Dilemma,” and “Impossible Standards Deviation.” Concerning the latter, he stresses how the image of wildly proportioned women in comic books aren’t reality and structurally unsound, to mention “real” actresses:

“You can’t expect RL ladies to look like fictional characters played by actresses and enhanced with CGI, SFX, perfect lighting, Photoshop, and body doubles… If you yourself don’t inspire comparisons to guys like He-Man and James Bond, imagine how normal women feel about being compared to She-Ra and Pussy Galore.”

Yes! Thank you, Smith for saying this.

Smith does try too hard to drive home the “I’m a real geek” point by lacing his writings with an almost constant stream of geeky references from video games, movies, television series, tech talk, and more, which sometimes gets in the way of his point he is trying to make. Unfortunately taking a look at my own dialogue, I can often be guilty of the same thing.

Most importantly, though, I have to congratulate Smith for not turning a “dating” book into a “looking to score” book. He makes it very clear that “exchanging DNA” isn’t something you want to do while you are still trying to make a significant connection to another person, including taking an established friendship to the next level. As a mom, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that “old fashioned” value amidst the high tech world of dating.

The book ends with a dose of reality. Not all successful dates mean successful relationships. Getting dumped and breaking up happens, and handling it gracefully is key. Just like in comics and games, there is always a remake, reboot, or resurrection.

Perhaps, this modern, pop culture infested book isn’t for geeks at all, but rather for a lost demographic that seems to be fading each day—the Gentleman. For that I say “Bravo, Smith, and May The Force Be With You.”

Lisa received a copy of this book for review purposes.

A Geek’s Guide to Dating is available via Quirk Books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — October 9th, 2013

Star Wars #10, Art by Carlos D'Anda

Star Wars #10, Art by Carlos D’Anda © Dark Horse Comics

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week.

Corrina Lawson takes a look at two new mature books from Vertigo and details why Superman/Wonder Woman doesn’t quite work, Lisa Tate reviews The Shadow Now, and Kelly Knox reads the Star Wars book that reveals what happened in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

Corrina Lawson

Coffin Hill #1 (Vertigo) written by Caitlin Kittredge and art by Inaki Miranda

COFFIN_1_preview

Page from Coffin Hill © Vertigo/DC Comics

After reading this first issue, I felt much like my first encounter with Rachel Rising by Terry Moore: I’m not sure exactly what’s going on but I want more.

If the name Eve Coffin doesn’t mean anything to you, consider yourself lucky. The Coffins are the holy trinity of New England royalty: old blood, old money, old secrets. Oh yeah, and like so many things in the oldest part of the New World… They’re also cursed.

Thus reads the introduction into the world of Eve Coffin. Had the comic started with this page, it might have proven a little less confusing but I’m glad it didn’t because the narrative jumps make this book a more satisfying re-read than a traditional linear narrative.

The story weaves together Eve Coffin’s time as a police officer, her teenage rebellion and foray into dark witchcraft because of her messed up family, and the mystery surrounding a supposedly captured serial killer.

The art by Miranda is perfect–spooky where it needs to be during supernatural happenings and crisp and clear during events in the real world. There’s a terrific fragmented splash page with Eve close to death that tosses out many clues to her past and present.

There are so many story questions that I can’t wait for the next issue.

Hinterkind #1 (Vertigo) written by Ian Edginton and art by Franceso Trifogli

“Seven months from the top of the food chain to endangered species.”

That’s the premise of this series, which begins in a very changed Manhattan as two teenagers from the remnants of humanity hunt a zebra in the now-forested top of one of New York City’s office buildings. The settlement in Manhattan may be some of the last humans alive but that doesn’t mean they’re the only intelligent beings left on Earth. People now share the world with hostile monstrous creatures that are half-legend and half-mutation. The story centers on a search party sent to find out what happened to the radio outpost in upstate New York.

The premise is very good, the art, particularly the view of changed Manhattan is eye-popping but I’m not quite attached to any of the characters yet. There is a teenage female hunter, perhaps in the vein of Katniss, though this girl is far more likely to run to trouble than run away from it. We’ll see how long she and the rest of her people survive.

Superman/Wonder Woman #1 (DC Comics)

The pairing that’s been teased for months, the that one artist Tony Daniel said DC wanted to market to women to attract the Twilight audience,  is finally here.

The best that I can say is it’s not wholly terrible.

Superman / Wonder Woman

Superman / Wonder Woman #1 © DC Comics

The main failing isn’t from the artist or the writer. It’s the concept.

In order to have a pairing with chemistry, there needs to be some contrast. That’s true even with a platonic team-up. That’s why Wolverine and Kitty Pryde can be so much fun, why Valkyrie and Misty Knight are fascinating together in The Fearless Defenders, and why the saving grace of the meandering World’s Finest series is the friendship between Huntress and Power Girl.

That’s why Batman/Superman is so much fun, to the point where DC’s Wildstorm Universe re-created their friendship into a romance with Apollo and Midnighter.

Superman/Wonder Woman or Clark/Diana? Just blah. Soule tries (perhaps too hard) to make the pairing interesting but it reads flat. Clark shows up for a date  with Diana with a flower from his native Krypton. Then they disagree about keeping the relationship private. Though I had to wonder why Clark, if he wants the relationship private, is standing on Diana’s balcony, in civilian clothes, kissing her. One would think the DC Universe has the same British tabloids as we do….

For her part, Diana brings out a sword and waves it at Clark, which seems to startle him, and says he’s powerful but she can teach him how to fight. But his expression is more startled than “wow, that’s hot.”

The best part of the book is their danger date to investigate an ocean whirlpool. Wonder Woman takes on saving a plane in distress while Clark investigates the whirlpool. He’s good with weather, he says more than once. I guess that’s to contrast Diana, who’s better at punching things? A very well-known villain turns out to be at the heart of the whirlpool. I admit, I want to see Wonder Woman fight that villain.

But I suspect she won’t win in issue #2, especially since Superman is already down. Though, in a strange way, Wonder Woman comes across best in the issue, as she’s confident and straightforward and Clark/Superman is tentative and unsure, even in his conversation with Cat Grant.

For a far better romantic scene with Clark and someone else not Lois Lane, check out Batman Beyond Universe, which manages to take a concept I hate (Lois is dead) and make it work.

Lisa Tate– The Shadow by Garth Ennis

The Shadow NowOne of the comics I have been reading lately as a guilty “mom” pleasure has been the new, dark, sultry and fast-paced adventures of Lamont Cranston in Dynamite Comic’s The Shadow series.

The series was revamped last year and penned by the ultra-violent madman Garth Ennis. Although a little of Ennis sometimes goes a long way for me, The Shadow is one of his best works, and the comic has since been consistently one of my favorites through writer and artist changes, including Matt Wagner and Chris Roberson.

This month is a great time to get into the series, with the release of the six-parter The Shadow Now, by David Liss with art by Colton Worley. In this series, readers will see Cranston go through a sort of rebirth in modern-day New York after undergoing a “rejuvenation” period for decades. The setting may be new, but the stories should be as sharp as ever.

I used to check out old vinyl recordings of the original radio dramas from my school library, so reading these not only brought back happy memories, but brought a new, edgier side to a favorite characters. I keep hearing the “on again/off again rumors” of director Sam Raimi’s possible Shadow movie adaptation (a remedy for the horrible 1994 big screen effort, I hope). If he does, I hope Mr. Raimi contacts me for Cranston’s casting suggestions.

Kelly Knox – Star Wars #10 (Dark Horse Comics)

sw-10-coverDark Horse Comics’ ongoing Star Wars book continues to do a bang-up job of showing fans what happened to our intrepid heroes (and villains) in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The series often delves into the emotions and complexities of familiar characters, and issue #10 gives us a peek at what is going on in the mind of X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles.

Wedge Antilles has harbored a grudge against the Empire since losing someone important to him, and Star Wars #10 stops for a breather to give him a chance to open up about it to Luke Skywalker. Not only does Wedge foreshadow the formation of the Rogue Squadron, writer Brian Wood also includes a small shout-out to a character from Star Wars Tales who had a huge impact on Wedge’s life. Brian Wood continues to show his love of Star Wars by sharing small details that true fans can appreciate, without alienating anyone only casually familiar with the universe.

Meanwhile, Mon Mothma receives alarming news, Han Solo struggles against Boba Fett in the skies above Coruscant, and Princess Leia must make a difficult decision.

I love the interior art by Carlos D’Anda, which leaps off the page as always, and as a fan of Hugh Fleming’s Star Wars portraits I’m thrilled to see him on the covers. While the overall story doesn’t advance in this issue, it’s obvious that we’re soon about to see a lot of action in a galaxy far, far away.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received several promotional copies of comics reviewed in this article for review purposes.

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

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Astro City #5
Batgirl #24
Batman #24
Batman Arkham Unhinged #19
Batman Li’l Gotham #7 GM
Batman Vol. 2 The City Of Owls TP
Coffin Hill #1
Constantine #7
FBP Federal Bureau Of Physics #4 (was ‘Collider’)
Forever Evil Arkham War #1 (Of 6)
Green Lantern Corps #24
I Vampire Vol. 3 Wave Of Mutilation TP
Intensely Dumb MAD TP
Katana #8
Lucifer Vol. 2 TP
Nightwing #24
Smallville Season 11 #18 GM
Stormwatch #24 GM
Suicide Squad #24
Superboy #24
Superman Wonder Woman #1
Trinity Of Sin The Phantom Stranger #12 GM
Worlds’ Finest #16 GM
Astonishing X-Men #68 Final Issue
Avengers A.I. #4
Avengers Arena #16
Avengers Kree Skrull War TP
Captain America #12
Dark Tower The Gunslinger The Man In Black TP
Deadpool #18
Dexter #4 (Of 5)
Fearless Defenders #10
Infinity #4 (Of 6)
Iron Man Armored Vengeance TP
Marvel Universe Hulk Agents Of S.M.A.S.H. #1 (Of 4) Kid Friendly
Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #4
Thanos Rising TP
Thor An Origin Story HC
Thor God Of Thunder #14
Thor God Of Thunder Vol. 2 Godbomb HC PE
Ultimate Comics X-Men #32
Uncanny X-Force #12
Wolverine #10
X-Men #6 GM
X-Men Storm By Warren Ellis And Terry Dodson TP
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Colonized TP
Danger Girl Trinity TP
G.I. JOE Special Missions #8
G.I. JOE Special Missions Vol. 1 TP
Ghostbusters #8
Jinnrise Vol. 1 TP
Judge Dredd #11
Kill Shakespeare Vol. 3 The Tide of Blood TP
KISS Solo #1 (Of 4)(The Demon)
Magic The Gathering Theros #1
Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #2 (Of 4)
Memory Collectors #1 (Of 3)
My Little Pony Animated Vol. 1 The Magic Begins TP Kid Friendly
Popeye Classics #15
Tales Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 3 TP
Transformers Classics Vol. 6 TP
Transformers Monstrosity #1 (Of 4)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #17
Transformers Prime Beast Hunters #1 Kid Friendly
Triple Helix #1 (Of 4)
Abe Sapien #6
Art Of Tara McPherson
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 Vol. 4 Welcome To The Team TP
Chronicles Of King Conan Vol. 6 A Death In Stygia And Other Stories TP
Colder TP
Creepy Archives Vol. 17 HC
Creepy Comics #14
Elfquest Special The Final Quest (OS)
Halo Initiation #3 (Of 3)
Love Is The Law SC
Mind MGMT Vol. 2 The Futurist HC
Resident Alien The Suicide Blonde #2 (Of 3)
Shaolin Cowboy #1
Star Wars #10
Star Wars Ewoks Shadows Of Endor GN
Star Wars Omnibus Wild Space Vol. 2 TP
Trigun Omnibus Vol. 1 TP
UXB HC
X #6

Acronym Key: HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading 

Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge Tour Stop on GeekMom

Razor's Edge \ Image: Random House Publishing

Razor’s Edge \ Image: Random House Publishing

 

Times are desperate for the Rebel Alliance. Harassment by the Empire and a shortage of vital supplies are hindering completion of a new secret base on the ice planet Hoth. So when Mid Rim merchants offer much-needed materials for sale, Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo lead an Alliance delegation to negotiate a deal.

But when treachery forces the rebel ship to flee into territory controlled by pirates, Leia makes a shocking discovery: the fierce marauders come from Leia’s home world of Alderaan, recently destroyed by the Death Star. These refugees have turned to pillaging and plundering to survive—and they are in debt to a pirate armada, which will gladly ransom the princess to the vengeful Empire . . . if they find out her true identity.

Struggling with intense feelings of guilt, loyalty, and betrayal, Leia is determined to help her wayward kinspeople, even as Imperial forces are closing in on her own crippled ship. Trapped between lethal cutthroats and brutal oppressors, Leia and Han, along with Luke, Chewbacca, and a battle-ready crew, must defy death—or embrace it—to keep the rebellion alive.

This will be the first of three new classic STAR WARS: Empire and Rebellion adventures! Each will star the “big three”–Han, Luke, and Leia–and each will be written by a popular author new to Star Wars.

Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge puts the fiery Princess Leia Organa front and center dealing with pirates, the Empire, and her own feelings after witnessing the loss of her home planet, Alderaan. Written by Fantasy writer Martha Wells (The Books of the Raksura series), the story takes us to the events that immediately follow the destruction of the Death Star, three years before the completion of the rebel base on the ice planet Hoth. Along the way, we meet several strong women who are either feared or revered by their comrades.

Even with Leia in the lead, Han, Luke, and Chewbacca still get their time in the spotlight. Han is the second most seen character in the book because he goes with Leia on her mission, while Luke and Chewbacca have smaller, but very important roles to play later in the book. I’ll admit that we don’t see Luke or Chewie nearly as much as I had first hoped, but I still felt the impact of their involvement as much as Han Solo’s.

Since the story takes place between Star Wars: A New Hope (AKA Episode IV) and Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (AKA Episode V), we pretty much know where the characters will end up after everything is said and done, but I still enjoyed the story for the insight it provided into Leia and her state of mind after the destruction of Alderaan.

Since the destruction of Alderaan is still fresh in everyone’s minds, we get a deeper look at Leia and how she is handling all of her own emotions, as well as having the weight of the entire Alliance balancing on her shoulders. On the outside, she is Princess Leia Organa, the last princess of Alderaan and head of the Rebel Alliance. On the inside, she’s Leia Organa, a flesh-and-blood woman with feelings she can’t express. I have to give her credit—she does a nice job hiding her own feelings and struggles while dealing with everything around her. I can’t imagine what she must have been going through, barely having time to grieve her loved ones and having to keep the Rebel Alliance together at the same time.

I’m unfamiliar with Martha Wells as a writer, so I had no preconceived notions about her writing style. According to her biography, this is the first Star Wars novel she’s written and overall she did a nice job keeping the characters in their true nature. I had the opportunity to ask Martha a few questions about her Star Wars novel debut, and here is what she had to say:

GeekMom (Dakster Sullivan): How much research did you do prior to writing the story?

Martha Wells: I was a big Star Wars fan from the time the first movie came out in 1977, when I was 13, but there’s been so much material written and developed since then. Most of my research involved using the Star Wars series reference books, looking up the specifics of the SW tech I wanted to use, and picking out which aliens to use in the story.

GM: What is about Leia that made you want to put her front and center?

MW: The original idea for the Empire and Rebellion books was that each book in the series would focus on one of the three main characters of the original trilogy, and I was offered the chance to write the one that would focus on Leia. I’ve always loved Leia—she and Han were always my two favorites, though I liked all the characters. And when the movie first came out, it was a huge deal to me to see a woman in that role as a leader. So I wanted to do a story that would show her abilities as a leader, to show her as tough and in charge as Carrie Fisher portrayed her in the movies, and also to show the weight of the responsibility to the Alliance, the destruction of Alderaan, and everything else that she has to deal with.

GM: I’ve only started reading Star Wars novels a few months ago and I’m always amazed at the battle scenes. How easy/difficult are those to write with everything that needs to be described about what’s going on?

MW: I’ve been used to writing big battle and fight scenes of all different types in my other fantasy novels, so those weren’t a problem for me. The thing that really helps me is making sure I stay in the perspective of my viewpoint character(s). When a battle involves a large number of participants, I try to pick the characters who are witnesses or participants to the most important parts, the parts that the reader needs to see in order to understand what’s going on, and just write from their perspectives. A battle can be huge and confusing, but the reader doesn’t need to see all of it, just the parts that they need to know in order to follow the story.

Final Thoughts

Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge is filled with strong female leads with a touch of sexual tension between Princess Leia and Han Solo. While Luke and Chewbacca have relatively small roles, their impact on the story is still felt just as much as Leia and Han. If you’re looking for an action packed Star Wars novel with none of the politics, this is a title you should consider adding to your bookshelf.

From the book, Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion: Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells. Copyright © 2013 by Lucasfilm LTD. Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved.

The Twi’lek woman had the same idea as Leia, and they shot toward the far side of the arena together, drawing the droid’s attention. They dodged back and forth as the droid flailed at them. It should have worked, with one of the other players taking the opportunity to knock the remote through a crusher and end the game.

But the remote was clearly programmed to make things as difficult as possible. It darted around close to the droid’s barrel-shaped body, swung around its drill-tipped limbs, and lured the other players into danger.

Leia watched hopefully as the remote wheeled away from Metara and one of the Ishori dived down almost within reach of it. At the moment she didn’t care who won the game, as long as somebody did. Though, she reminded herself with grim resolve, they had no guarantee that Viest would stop the game as she had promised. When the remote was destroyed, the flightmaster might change the rules again.

Then the droid swung its drilling arm and struck the Ishori across the back. He flew across the arena and bounced off the containment field with a fizzle of energy. He drifted, his body limp. The other Ishori cried out and shot over to him.

Leia set her jaw. This had to end before that happened to all the players. As the droid turned, she dived in close to circle it and followed the gleam of the remote. The droid roared and turned toward her, but then it swung away, distracted by someone around the other side.

Leia ducked and suddenly found the remote barely a meter away. She lunged for it, gritting her teeth as its searing blast grazed her right arm. At the last moment she flipped and used the pads on her feet to slam it toward the nearest crusher.

The Twi’lek yelled and swooped in to intercept her. But the droid’s drilling arm flailed and slammed into the Twi’lek. One of the woman’s foot pads flew off, sending her into a spin right toward the crusher’s maw. Leia reacted by pure instinct and surged forward with her foot pads to grab the woman’s leg. She twisted around and used her pads to yank the Twi’lek to a stop, barely a meter from the crusher. There was no doubt the crusher’s deadly field was operating; the ozone it generated filled Leia’s lungs. The droid loomed over them, reached for them with four sets of arms, all tipped with cutters or spinning drills. Got to get close, Leia thought, and propelled herself and the Twi’lek toward it.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

How to Make a Fabric Crown

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All photos in this tutorial by Jackie Reeve

The world has been consumed this week with the arrival, first appearance, and naming of the next heir to the British throne. So it seems like a good time to start spreading some more democratized royal fever.

Personally, I think every kid should have at least one play crown in their toy box, and why not make it a fabulous, customized fabric version? I decided my daughter needed something awesome for running around NYC, so I went with “Sky Scrapers” and “Big Apple Red” from the Big Apple Collection by Greta Lynn. She loved this crown so much that I think we’ll be building her collection very soon. The possibilities are endless; you could even skip the stabilizer and make it with felt.

Whether you’ve got a Disney princess or Mike the Knight fanatic at home, a big time fantasy reader, if you’re gearing up for some family cosplay, or if you actually just need your own accessory to help you cope with the fact that winter is definitely coming, break out those basic sewing skills. They are all you’ll need.

And these supplies:

  • 1/4 yard of fabric for the outside of the crown
  • 1/4 yard of coordinating fabric for the inside of the crown
  • Some form of stiff stabilizer to make the crown stand up. I used 1/4 yard of fusible fleece interfacing for this project, but you can totally use felt or even card stock. Fabric alone won’t stand up tall and stately.
  • Thread
  • Sew-in Velcro (NOT the sticky stuff)
  • Scissors or a rotary cutter
  • A good ruler
  • Graph paper
  • A pencil and marker
  • Tape measure

First you need to measure the head circumference of the crown wearer and make a template. I like to use a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ graph paper, which will give you a 22″ wide crown template. This is a pretty good size for babies and toddlers (my 16-month-old is around 21″, but she’s also in the 75th percentile for head size), and you can continue the template on more graph paper to get to the circumference you need.

I divide the paper into 4 sections, then use a ruler to make the crown’s points. (I could have had more variety in height, but you get the idea).

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I leave the last point at the right edge as an unfinished triangle.

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This way, when I cut out my template and line up the two halves of the paper I have a nicely aligning edge to tape together.

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Cut out your template and tape the two halves of the paper together to make a 22″ wide template.

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I trimmed the right hand side of my template so it ended in another triangle.

Once you’ve assembled your template, trace it onto the fusible fleece or whatever stabilizer you decide to use (I like the fusible stuff because it stays where it’s supposed to when I’m assembling the crown).

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Cut out the stabilizer.

Iron your outer fabric and then follow your interfacing directions to iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the crown’s outer fabric.

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Iron your inner fabric and make a sandwich on your cutting surface. Put the inner fabric down first, right side up. Then put the outer fabric next, right side down (the two right sides will be facing each other). The stabilizer will be on top of the sandwich now, fused to the back of the outer fabric.

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Measure 1/2″ out from all edges of the stabilizer and carefully cut through both layers of fabric along those edges. Trust me from experience, you will need that 1/2″ for seam allowance when you try to turn this right side out. Pin the seams as you cut to keep the fabric layers from shifting.

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Sew 1/4″ seams along all sides of the crown, leaving a 6″-8″ opening at the bottom of the crown for turning (I actually left a side opening on my first try—that did not work out so well).

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Snip off the tips of the crown’s points and any corners, being really careful not to cut into your stitches. Getting rid of the tips makes it much easier to get smooth points on your crown.

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Cut notches into all of the spaces between your crown’s points. I made about three different versions of this crown before figuring out that this step was necessary to get your crown to lay flat. When you turn it right side out, you need that fabric in between the crown’s points to have some give so it will lay smooth.

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Turn your crown right side out, using a knitting needle or skinny paintbrush handle to push out all the points as far as you can get them (without poking holes straight through the fabric, which I have done on many occasions).

Press your crown.

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Fold the seams of your opened gap under and pin so they lay even and flat with the bottom of the crown. Top stitch over the whole crown with a 1/4″ seam.

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Cut two 2″-3″ pieces of Velcro from both the hook and loop sides. Pin the two hook pieces to the inner fabric of the crown on the right side. Fold the crown over and match the loop pieces of Velcro to the outer left side of the crown. Pin in place and sew all four pieces of Velcro down securely.

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Attach crown to the head of your favorite benevolent ruler.

UPDATE: There are lots of different tutorials out there for making fabric crowns. Here are some that are pretty fabulous.

Spoonflower Play Crown
Baby Toolkit DIY Play Crown
The Long Thread Dress Up Crown
Hungie Gungie Felt + Fabric Crown
We Wilsons Dress Up Crown Tutorial

Best Audio Books for Family Road Trips

Film still from National Lampoon’s Vacation © Warner Brothers

School’s finally out here in the Northeast, while other parts of the U.S. have already been enjoying their summer vacations for weeks. That means road trip season is here, which can bring up vivid childhood memories of endless hours of boredom, begging for bathroom breaks, and—if you were in my family—taking your life in your hands on the interstate to stop at every single state sign for photo ops. (North Carolina, I sincerely apologize on behalf of my older brother for knocking over your sign July 4th weekend in 1987; we did try to put it back.)

In my day (hey kids, get off my lawn!) we didn’t have iPods, DVD players, or 3DS’s. My brother and I didn’t even have Walkmans until the 90s were in sight. We had a travel version of Connect 4, I Spy, and conversation—that was it. (My mom even banned Punch Buggy.) It wasn’t always enough to keep us from whining, and I definitely get the appeal of DVD players, headphones, and video games these days, but we talked. As bored as we were, I have great memories of those trips.

But I really wish we’d discovered audio books years before the summer we did my college visits. By then we were old enough to entertain ourselves, but when my mom suggested checking some audio books out from the library it gave us something to talk about. And it turned my brother and me into avid audio book listeners. My Audible subscription is one of my best-ever investments, and now I listen to books on my commute, on car trips, even when I’m working on crafty projects in my studio. So I asked the other GeekMoms to help me compile a list of great audio books for family road trips. They had amazing suggestions, including anything by storyteller Odds Bodkin and the children’s audio program Boomerang (GeekMoms Laura and Kris are big fans of both). Here are our other favorites. Whether you buy them, download them, or find them at your local library, there are plenty here to start some conversations.

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events Book One) by Lemony Snicket, read by Tim Curry
Lemony Snicket’s series of books about the forever unlucky Baudelaire children is deliciously narrated by Tim Curry, who does the readings for all 13 of the books in this series. The misadventures for the children start in this book when their parents die, and throughout the first novel “the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast.” A great elementary school listen.

Bill Bryson At Home and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, read by the author
My husband is a huge Bill Bryson fan, and he’s been begging me to read his books for years. Maybe I should start this summer on our own road trip, since GeekMom Laura raves about them. Bill Bryson was born in Iowa, spent two decades in England as a reporter, and now lives in New Hampshire. Here he covers a history of how we spend our private lives and a brief look at everything he’s learned from esteemed minds throughout the years. Good stuff for engaged teens.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, read by Allan Corduner
A Holocaust story narrated by the Grim Reaper is not exactly light summer fare, but this incredible book about a little girl named Liesel Meminger, the titular book thief, is so haunting and moving that it will spark some deep conversations with thoughtful teens. There is some PG-13 swearing in this one.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, read by multiple narrators
There’s a lot of debate about the reading order of C.S. Lewis’s series of books, but whatever order you choose will be great with the collection of audio book narrators. There are different readers for each book, including Kenneth Branagh, Lynn Redgrave, and Patrick Stewart. So farI’ve only listened to Michael York’s reading of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I loved it.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, read by Bill Homewood
There have been multiple editions of this audio book with various readers over the years, though most of them are out of print as audio CDs. But the unabridged Bill Homewood version (considered to be the best reading, and clocking in at a whopping 53 hours in length) is available from Audible. GeekMom Kay says her kids were crazy for this book during a road trip when they were in their mid-teens. They didn’t want bathroom breaks, chatting, or map checks. They just wanted to listen.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L Konigsburg, read by Jill Clayburgh
Ms. Konigsburg passed away in April at age 83, but her classic children’s novel is still beloved after 46 years in print. When almost-twelve-year-old Claudia Kincaid decides to run away from the suburbs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, she enlists her younger brother Jamie to help fund the trip. The two of them have some great adventures in the famous museum, and the late Jill Clayburgh’s spot-on reading is just so much fun.

George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking, read by Hugh Dancy
This book is geek parent nirvana. The first book in a series of (so far) three, the books are written by Stephen Hawking and his daughter Lucy (with Stephen writing the science notes at the end). All of the books are narrated fabulously by Hugh Dancy (love him!). The first book introduces us to George, a shy and polite British schoolboy whose parents are environmental activists. They don’t eat anything they haven’t grown themselves, and they like to take George on family outings to global warming protests. But all George wants in the universe is a computer. When his new scientist neighbor moves in and shows George his incredible supercomputer, Cosmos, George’s world is opened wide. He is inspired to enter the school science fair (to win a computer), but he will have to deal with an evil mad scientist first. Excellent stuff.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, read by the author with a full cast recording
The entire His Dark Materials trilogy is a really cool audio book production. Young orphan Lyra Belacqua lives in an alternate version of our reality, where humans all have personal daemons–their souls manifested as animals. Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon spend their days causing trouble at Oxford University until they overhear something they shouldn’t, and a chain of events is set in motion.  This is one of those children’s series that really works for adults, and The Golden Compass is still my favorite of the three.

The Graveyard Book written and read by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman is one of few authors who can narrate their own books really well. Nobody “Bod” Owens is an orphaned boy being raised by ghosts in a cemetery. The man Jack, who murdered his family, continues to search for Bod as he grows up and learns how to navigate life with and without the dead. Creepy and marvelous for older elementary and middle school students, and the 2009 Newbery Medal winner.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (and the rest of the Harry Potter series) by J.K. Rowling, read by Jim Dale
Maybe this is the summer you’re finally ready to introduce your kids to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Maybe they’re not quite ready to read the books, but they could definitely listen. Jim Dale is kind of legendary as an audio book narrator, and his interpretations of all seven Harry Potter books are the most glorious listens I’ve ever experienced.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, read by Stephen Fry
No explanation is needed here for Douglas Adams’s classic about the hapless Arthur Dent, and the original BBC radio series is also really wonderful. But Stephen Fry’s reading is charming because, well…it’s Stephen Fry. If you choose to listen to any version on your trip, make sure your kids pack a towel.

How to Train Your Dragon (and the rest of the series) by Cressida Cowell, read by David Tennant
David Tennant reads all of the books in this uproariously funny series, and he is just perfect. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III has gone down in history as a great Viking warrior, but as a kid he didn’t quite live up to the reputation of his father, Stoick the Vast (chief of the Hairy Hooligans). If you need a tenth Doctor fix, and your kids think dragons and Vikings (and the movie adaptation) are awesome, this is for you.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan, read by Jesse Bernstein
Man, do I love the Percy Jackson series. The Lightning Thief will always be my absolute favorite, but Rick Riordan did something great here with the whole series. He got kids excited about mythology and ancient history through a wise-cracking, dyslexic kid from New York City (who also happens to be the son of Poseidon). This is real epic adventure, and Jesse Bernstein narrates the whole series.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, BBC Radio plays
Kay says for years doing a routine ten-to-twelve hour drive to see relatives, her family listened to these classic BBC radio dramatizations of Tolkien’s novels. They tried other traditional audio book readings of these books but always came back to the radio plays.

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians, Book One) by William Joyce and Laura Geringer, read by Gerard Doyle
This is the story of Santa before he was Santa; when he was just a swashbuckling hero named North (Nicholas St. North). When an evil king threatens the village of Santoff Clausen, North comes to the rescue. GeekMom Cathé and her kids loved this one, the first in the Guardians of Childhood series.

The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Book One) by Rick Riordan, read by Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren
GeekMom Rebecca swears that this book saved her family on a long road trip a few years ago. Rick Riordan followed up his Percy Jackson series with the Kane Chronicles (there are three books so far), this time bringing ancient Egyptian mythology to the present. Fourteen-year-old Carter Kane has spent the years since his mother’s death traveling the world with his Egyptologist father, while his twelve-year-old sister Sadie moved to London with their grandparents. The family is reunited on Christmas Eve, when their father unleashes something at the British Museum that sets the siblings off on a dangerous adventure.

The Roald Dahl Audio Collection, read by the author
I fully support reading and listening to any Roald Dahl book, but this is a great collection of some of his classics, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Enormous Crocodile, and The Magic Finger. Roald Dahl is a great narrator for his own stories, and this collection has some of my absolute favorites. It’s great for elementary school kids (and precocious younger ones), but if you’re not already familiar with his stories be warned that they don’t always have warm and fuzzy language.

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, read by Mark Hamill
When the Grace kids move with their mom into the crumbling Spiderwick Estate, they discover a world of fairies, goblins, elves, and dragons. Obviously, adventure ensues. The complete set of five original Spiderwick Chronicles novels (there was a follow-up series) is narrated by Mark Hamill, who does a great job with the story of thirteen-year-old Mallory Grace and her nine-year-old twin brothers Jared and Simon. Great for elementary school kids.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, multiple readers
Unpopular Dwight shows up to school one day with an origami Yoda puppet on his finger. When he begins talking in a Yoda voice and giving out great advice to his classmates, they decide to launch an investigation to discover if the Yoda puppet is real, or if there is a side to Dwight they’ve never noticed before. This is such a wonderful book for elementary- and middle-school kids. Cathé listened to it with her kids and loved it. There are also two more so far in the series.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, read by Graeme Malcolm
This is just one of my favorite children’s books, period. I used to read it to my second grade classes in the library every year, and Graeme Malcolm’s reading of the audio book is one of my all-time favorites. Despereaux the mouse is an outsider in his world, and one day he falls in love with a human princess and promises to always honor her. When an evil rat threatens the castle, tiny Despereaux steps up to save the day. If you’ve seen the movie but haven’t read the book, there is so much rich language and deep emotion in the writing that did not translate to the screen. This is a dramatic story with a really poignant moral about accepting differences and embracing who you are. Just fabulous.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, read by Alfred Molina
Classics like Treasure Island have had endless book reprints and recordings with different narrators. I blogged about the one read by Alfred Molina a few years ago because it is just so superb. He is exactly the Long John Silver I imagined in my head, and he will make your kids of all ages love this classic.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, read by Hope Davis
An absolute classic children’s novel, and Hope Davis does a great job narrating. Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin learn all about tesseracts, time travel, and the mysterious disappearance of their father when a strange visitor appears at their door. So. Great.

Rebecca Angel, Kris Bordessa, Kay Moore, Cathé Post, and Laura Grace Weldon contributed to this audio book list. Jackie Reeve is an Amazon and Audible Affiliate.

The Cliffs of Insanity: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman on the cover of the 40th Anniversary of Ms. Magazine

This week’s adventure climbing the cliffs of insanity is all about the Amazon Princess. It relates back to last week’s post about superhero movies, not so much as a call for a Wonder Woman movie, but a recognition that superheroes are icons and sources of inspiration beyond their basic storytelling purpose and, in this role, Wonder Woman is the premier superhero feminist icon.

Except, apparently, those that keep trying to make her otherwise.

Lo, those many years ago, before even my ancient memory kicks in, Wonder Woman was depowered as part of DC Comics’ attempt to revamp the character and make her more modern. This revamp included a break from the Amazons, ditching her previous costume, clothing her all in white, taking away much of her powers, and giving her a (male) martial arts mentor.

The idea was to model Diana after Emma Peel in the then-popular The Avengers rather than her previous Wonder Woman-self. Not a bad idea except, well, this was Wonder Woman. It was putting a square peg in a round hole. I can’t imagine, for example, revamping Superman and making him resemble Mr. Steed in an attempt to keep up with the times.

Feminists, particularly Gloria Steinem, were so disturbed by this revamp that they put classic Wonder Woman on the first cover of Ms. magazine. As a callback, Wonder Woman was also featured on the magazine’s 40th anniversary cover in 2012.

Why do I bring this up again?

Because it seems, once again, in an attempt to revitalize the character, DC is going in the wrong direction. And because these changes to a feminist icon don’t happen in a vacuum. They happen in a world where women are still fighting for some basic rights, even to the point of having to listen to politicians talk about “legitimate rape.”

It’s in this environment that DC Comics announced this week a new Superman/Wonder Woman series that focuses on the romance between the two characters, a romance that thus far comic audiences have greeted with a shrug.

It’s part of a disturbing overall pattern with DC Comics, a pattern that saw nearly every marriage among DC heroes waved away, a pattern that includes a DC editor calling Lois Lane a “trophy wife,” and a pattern that completely wiped away the backstories of the female main characters of the long-running Birds of Prey series.

Let’s tackle the current problems with Wonder Woman.

Problem #1: Devaluation of the Amazons.

At this point, the Amazons are like Kenny on South Park or kid sidekicks in the DCU. Omigod, they killed them! If not killed, then turned them evil, with happened in Flashpoint, which reset the current DC Universe, or in the current DC Universe, where they’ve been turned into a batch of murderers and child slavers, with a lot of implications that their “seduction” of male sailors was coerced.

That an all-women society views men as useless save for sperm banks is, at the best, unfortunate, and, at the worst, misogynistic. And it also doesn’t make any sense as part of Wonder Woman’s backstory because she’s still presented in the same comic as an avatar of truth and protector of the innocent, the person specially chosen to help others live up to Amazonian ideals.

Except if the Amazons are murderers and slavers, how the heck did she absorb those qualities that her people were supposed to possess?

It makes no story sense whatsoever.

Problem #2: Superman is a boring romantic partner.

Why is this a problem? Well, the series itself seems to be a grab at the lowest common denominator, especially ones who  are waiting to see Superman and Wonder Woman “bone” as it was put during a Twitter exchange with the writer of the series, Charles Soule. (He seems like a very good guy but I’m talking about his story choices, not Soule as a person.)

There’s also the issue of putting Lois Lane yet further into the background, which I believe in a horrible story choice but it’s also horrible marketing synergy, given that the success of Man of Steel on the big screen, which features Lois.

But, most of all, it’s a problem because this book becomes “Superman’s girlfriend, Wonder Woman.” This relationship isn’t new, it was developed in the pages of Justice League, there was a story in the Valentine’s special about the pair. And aside from the initial announcement, which caused a minor stir, it’s been meet with indifference.

That’s because it’s dull.

I say this as a romance writer.

Superman and Wonder Woman is too much of the same. It’s similar to similar. Similar power structure, similar looks, even similar approaches to battle. They’re far more like siblings than they are romantic partners.

Problem #3: Wonder Woman Should Have Her Own Story

From the very start, Wonder Woman was created as a feminist counter to Superman. She was consciously created to be a role model for girls: a powerful, intelligent women that girls and women could emulate. Yes, there are also some other elements to her original creation that are tied into “loving submission” and bondage/domination but first and foremost, William Marston Moulton and the two women in his life, wanted Wonder Woman to be a beacon to women who aspired to be their very best.

Romance certainly doesn’t interfere with that. Steve Trevor is present very early in Wonder Woman’s backstory. But a romance with Superman does interfere with that, as it automatically puts her in a secondary position. Want evidence? Just look at the cover tease for Superman-Wonder Woman, in which he’s taller. She’s an Amazon. It’s been fully established she’s taller. And if you think that’s silly, just read the Valentine’s Special and some of their interactions. He’s the teacher, she’s the student, he’s the one that tells her stuff.

She’s in the secondary position. As Zack Smith, a writer for MTV Geek and Newsarama said on Twitter: “Wow, after 70+ years, Wonder Woman gets a title where she’s OFFICIALLY defined by a relationship.”

There’s a story problem too. By making Superman such a prominent part of Wonder Woman’s story, it prevents her own background and supporting cast from being developed. Think how the Daily Planet is such a part of the Superman mythos, as are Ma and Pa Kent and Smallville.

Wonder Woman deserves a fully developed cast and setting as well, one that belongs just to her. One of the reasons her comic hasn’t sold well is that because she keeps being constantly “rebooted” so the background and setting put together by one creative team vanishes, is replaced by another, and that vanishes again. Superman, even eventually as her ex, looms over all of this and basically becomes this huge part of her character.

But, most of all, the current storytelling choices at DC Comics seem to be blind to what they have in Wonder Woman. She’s quite possibly the most famous fictional women on the planet. Instead, they keep trying to put her in this box where she’s “more relatable” to men by giving her “daddy issues,” and making her younger and sexier, and having the uber-male of the DC universe sex her all up so her feminist cooties don’t show.

DC, this isn’t last year’s direct market. You have the power of digital. Via digital release, either Comixology or elsewhere, you could reach a huge potential audience of women by embracing what Wonder Woman is and telling great stories that embrace who she is.

The audience for The Avengers was 40 percent female. The audience for Man of Steel was 44 percent female. (This actually pleases the movie makers. Shocking, I know!) Last year, female and male moviegoers flocked to The Hunger Games.

DC is sitting on a potential gold mine with Wonder Woman and the female audience. To understand her potential impact, you have only to watch the Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines.

Instead, the powers that be at DC editorial seem bent on remaking her so the mostly male direct comic reading audience will like her better and won’t think of her as having female cooties.

My message to DC Comics:

She’s. Not. Just. Yours. She’s also ours.

Enough.

Wonder Woman and Superman in DC: The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke

 

 

 

 

 

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — May 15th, 2013

Smallville: Olympus

Smallville: Olympus

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week, Superman has cast his power over a couple of our writers, while another discovers a web comic, and a third is in love with “bro!,” er, Hawkguy, er, Hawkeye!

Kelly Knox – Smallville: Season 11 #46 (DC Comics)
The Smallville digital comics continue to bring me back week after week, and the “Valkyrie” side story featuring a team-up with Lois Lane and Lana Lang shows that the girls can hold their own without Clark around. Granted, that’s mostly because Lana Lang has superpowers (thanks to events during the television series), but it’s still a fun change of pace to see the two together on their own. In the latest issue written by Bryan Q. Miller with art by Cat Staggs, Lois and Lana take a breath to catch up when an old enemy reappears.

Last week MTV Geek broke the news that another familiar face in the DC Universe is finally coming to Smallville: Wonder Woman!

In interview with MTV Geek, Bryan Q. Miller had this to say about the Amazon Princess making herself known in Smallville’s world:

[Read more…]

Brony.com Giveaway Winner is…

This backpack is full of pony awesomeness! \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

This backpack is full of pony awesomeness! Image: Dakster Sullivan

Sixty Seven comments later and we have a winner…

Congratulations Russell Collins! His pony of choice is Pinkie Pie!

A big thank you to everyone that submitted and to Andy Price (artist for the My Little Pony comic book series) who gave me a random number to select the winner!

The race was close, but after reviewing the comments and tallying them up, the favorite pony amongst GeekMom readers was:

Rainbow Dash!!

We had a wide range of ponies submitted. The top 5 ponies mentioned were Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Apple Jack and Pinkie Pie.

Image: Dakster Sullivan

Image: Dakster Sullivan

Honorable mentions go to Vinyl Scratch (DJ Pon 3), Dr. Hooves, Zecora, Trixie, Princess Celestia, Lyra, Rarity, Water Fire, Candence, Babs Seed, Princess Luna and Derpy.

It just goes to show that there is a pony for everyone!

Special thanks to Brony.com for the awesome prizes!

Wonder Woman Spins Into 3 Fun Kids’ Books

Wonder Woman by Ralph Cosentino

Wonder Woman by Ralph Cosentino © Viking Juvenile / DC Comics

Wonder Woman has graced comic books with her presence since 1941, and in recent years the Amazon princess has made her debut in picture books and novels for young readers looking for their first introductions to the beloved superhero. Here are some of my favorite books beyond the comics that even the youngest Wonder Woman fans will enjoy. [Read more…]

What It Means to Be Geeky

Photo: Judy Berna

Photo: Judy Berna

I have to be perfectly honest with you. When my writer’s group friend approached me after one of our monthly meetings, and asked me if I’d ever be interested in writing for the GeekMom blog, I immediately had my doubts. GeekMom? Wouldn’t a Geek Mom be someone who understood a whole lot more about electronics, computer programming, and , um…math, than I ever would? I was an English person in high school and college. Math and the sciences were not my strengths.

But my friend, who is an editor for the blog, wouldn’t let me off so easily. She was on a mission to gather a group of women who were passionate about a lot of topics. I quickly came to see that the term ‘geek’ in the world of GeekMom actually stood for more than just a love of science. Now that I’ve been around the block a few times as a core writer for GeekMom, I’ve fallen in love with the concept.

GeekMom Laura Grace introduced us, as we branched away from the GeekDad forum, in this way – “Every day GeekMom.com demonstrates that fostering our own passions requires us to value them. Give them a little space. Hoist up our geek flags and let them fly.”

Here at GeekMom, when we say you ‘geek out’ about something, it doesn’t matter the topic. Anything that makes you happy, keeps you engaged, makes you squeal when you get to participate in it, can be considered geeky. Some of us geek out about science related topics. But beyond that, many of us geek out about so many other things.

Through this adventure I’ve met some of the most amazing people. Well, I use the word ‘met’ quite loosely. Most of the smart, funny women I’ve learned from and grown with, as we’ve discussed a huge variety of topics on this blog, I’ve only met online. We’ve had long email exchanges and encouraged each other in our individual passions. I’ve learned about conventions and hobbies I’d never known about before. I have come to understand huge areas of interest that were always foreign to me before. That’s not to say I adopted their hobbies. But I’ve loved learning about them, and understanding in a much deeper way, how we are all amazing women because we are all made up of a unique variety of passions.

I decided it might be time to show our readers just how diverse our group is. If you think you can’t relate to a website called GeekMom, read on. I almost guarantee that somewhere on this list you’ll see yourself. When I put the question out to our GeekMom writers, “what makes you geek out”, these were some of the answers I got back. Who do you relate to the most?

GeekMom Jules -

Academia and learning (specially STEM, some history)

Non-fiction

World religions

Star Trek

WordPress Design (seriously, if I can find an excuse to buy another domain and design another website, I’ll do it)

GeekMom Rebecca -

Tea. Check out her tea blog!  

Science literacy and creative arts

Music

Making a labyrinth for a history camp for kids

Sexy fictional men

FONTS! I am a total geek about fonts!

GeekMom Dakster – 

Comic books – I read pretty much anything that doesn’t involve sex or drugs. Batman and Booster Gold are my favorite characters in DC and the X-Men and Avengers are my favorite in the Marvel Universe.

Cosplay – I already own three professional grade costumes and hope to make some more.

Photo: Dakster Sullivan

Photo: Dakster Sullivan

Retelling’s of classic stories such as Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.

Music – I love all types of music. Soundtracks and Taylor Swift are my current favorites.

Dancing – I allow myself one hour a night to pop on my headphones and dance to my hearts content

Justice League, Batman and Superman animated series

IBC Root Beer – My happy hour drink of choice
Computers – I’m a notwork admin after all
New Tech
Shiny objects
Writing – I love to write stories, especially comic book stories.

GeekMom Ariane -

Programming

Math

Trivia

Casual gaming

DIY/Crafts (though I’m terrible at them!)

Baking

Playing music (saxophone)

Minimalism

New experiences (I am easily bored, so I tend to obsess over a topic and then move on. You should have seen me in my saltwater aquarium days! Ah, back in the good ol’ days when I had no kids and unlimited time and money to pour into random hobbies! I also love seeing new sights, trying new foods, and making an adventure out of everything.)

GeekMom Laura  -

Subversive cooking,

Open source and collaborative solutions to social ills

Small scale sustainable farming

DIY, particularly pushing myself to learn new things

Mediation, peace-making, history and current application of non-violence

Neuroscience and other research as it pertains to learning

Natural learning and homeschooling

Body-mind health, lately focused on healing from/preventing trauma

Anthropology, particularly relating to hunter-gatherer lifestyles

Foreign films

All things pertaining to reading including libraries, book-related art, writing, and most of all, reading itself

Outsider art

Strange maps

All things bookish

GeekMom Brigid -

Music (indie,punk and Yann Tiersen)

Cooking

Food – husband and I are gourmands of the local and sustainable but wholly decadent variety

Wine – wait thats also food

Cheese – oh wait thats food too

Art – nouveau, pre-raphaelite and some contemporary

Design

Fonts

Books – both for their contents and their value as artful objects

Mythic & Magic

Squirrels! (Yes, you read that right. Some day I’ll get her to write a post about why she loves squirrels)

Tea

 GeekMom Corrina -

Also a tea geek. Loose tea all the way.

Comic books, especially superheroes.

English royal history. Yes, I have the entire royal line of English Kings from William the Conquerer to Prince William memorized.
Sherlock Holmes
Writing!

GeekMom Patricia

College sports

Star Wars

Books, books and more books (which is why I got my knickers in a knot about my oldest son not loving books as much as the rest of our family, but that seems to have resolved itself now, phew!)

Military: history and current affairs

Running, fitness

STEM, especially when it comes to seeing youngsters develop a love for STEM

Gadgets and gizmos <– this is part of what I LOVE about GM!

Gardening geekery

GeekMom Andrea

Scifi (not so much fantasy, though I’ll read anything with a dragon or King Arthur on the cover).

Emotional health/mental health/how the brain works/what drives behavior.

Special education/how we learn.

Contemporary music–anything recorded since the 40’s. Classical: not so much.

Photography.

How things work. Especially things with knobs or screws or wires.

Learning new stuff.

 GeekMom Natania -

Rock music

Ukuleles, guitars, amps, gear

Romantic poetry

Middle English romances

Research

Thrift stores/antique stores/old stuff/vintage stuff

Pre-Raphaelite art/William Morris/furniture

Cooking (especially making complicated things, like beer)

Research

Social media/the web/analytics/data

GeekMom Kriss -

Growing things. You should see my collection of seeds.

A beautiful bounty. Photo: Kris Bordessa

A beautiful bounty. Photo: Kris Bordessa

Real food.

Vintage fabric.

Treasure hunting (thrifting/garage sales)

Hawaiiana/‘ukulele music.

Books/reading.

GeekMom Mandy

Fantasy and Sci-Fi (I like fantasy a little better)

Costumes

Disney (just found out that my in-laws might start being snowbirds in Orlando, which means more Disney trips for us)

Movies in general – my husband and I see a lot of movies in the theater and have a huge collection of Blu-Rays. We rank our favorite movies throughout the year.

 GeekMom Rachel -

Writing

Cooking (baking and making bread)

Gadgets (tech and cooking gadgets)

Home Entertainment (movies and TV)

circuits with without soldering)

GeekMom Melissa

Books, books, books, especially children’s books, and especially especially the work of L.M. Montgomery, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Noel Streatfeild, and Maud Hart Lovelace. I’m a card-carrying member (literally, it’s in my wallet) of the Betsy-Tacy Society.

Bee-and-butterfly gardening. We’ve planted milkweed everywhere we’ve lived.

Gardening literature, especially the work of Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence. And Allen Lacy. I could read nothing but horticultural lit and be happy.

Japanese candy. Fortunately I have Kristen in my life to keep me supplied. :)

Fiber and fabric, all the fiber arts. I haven’t *made* much since my kids came along–my old loom is gathering dust in the garage–but anything to do with yarn makes my heart go pitty-pat.

British period dramas. Helloooo, Downton Abbey. And Lark Rise, Cranford, Garrow’s Law, Berkeley Square, all that stuff.

Education & homeschooling philosophy. Charlotte Mason, John Holt, the works.

I get very excited when I have a new social media platform to figure out.

GeekMom Amy -

– Kids’ books, especially the picture book variety

– Kids’ games and apps

– Kids’ TV

– Animated films

I guess I have a few grown-up things, too:

– Design

– Movies (particularly the libraries of directors like Tarantino, Wes Anderson, and the Coen Brothers)

– Violent or otherwise adult TV (play really well in contrast to the kids’ stuff: The Wire, Lost, Breaking Bad, etc.)

 

GeekMom Sarah - I’ve really learned a lot from reading the posts on GeekMoms and I now get excited about things that I wouldn’t have before, like the space program, STEM and Firefly which I just started to watch last week.

I geek out over amigugrumi and knitted goods. For example, I just created a Jayne Cobb hat for a friend and am working on some Amigurumi patterns of the Octonauts for my son. I avidly follow several amigurumi blogs and am constantly trying to come up with my own. I will spend a fortune on Red Heart Yarn and get high looking at the colors!

I also geek out over books. Old books, new books, vintage books, paperback books, hard cover books, pre-release editions, first editions, foreign language editions. I love to judge a book by it’s cover, as long as I can savor it for a while!

I geek out over Disney, that is my life long passion. I wrote my Bachelors thesis about how Disney represents foreign cultures to America.

I’m a big TV geek, some sci-fi, some not. X-files, Star Trek (TNG), Buffy and the life. I am currently devouring Heroes, having missed it the first time around. But I also have an obsession with Mash, The Good Life (Good Neighbors in the US) and anything from old school British comedians. Old cartoons, new cartoons. Okay this list could be endless!

GeekMom Sophie

Well obviously X-Files is my number one geek out, I can literally talk for hours about even the tiniest detail of the show. I cosplay Scully, have two shelves of books, another shelf of the VHS tapes, the complete DVD collection plus other DVDs and random collectibles. I’m now building a collection of art pieces based on the show, got a private commission and a limited edition show piece in there already along with an original sketch drawn by the actor who played Langley. A friend’s old boyfriend did some graphic design and made her and some friends (including myself) these adorable cartoon badge sets, they’re like XF for kids so Mulder’s shooting an alien with a water pistol and the Cigarette Smoking Man has a lollipop instead. So freaking cute and there’s only three or four sets in the world.

As you might be able to tell, geek art is another huge geek out of mine. I wish I’d had time to keep Geek Art going but I couldn’t manage it alone alongside GeekMom and life.

Disney theme parks is a biggie, I’m not especially bothered about the films although I own most of the classics, for me it’s the parks. I have a whole shelf of books on the architecture, conceptual history and behind the scenes information. It’s why I was so thrilled to interview Len Testa last year, he’s an idol of mine for really getting into the nitty gritty of how the parks run. I’m hoping to get the Poster Art of the Disney Theme Parks book at some point.

Scores/sountracks from film/TV. I have dozens of them and look forward to their releases almost as much as the film itself. I’m so excited at the prospect of Volume 2 of The X-Files scores, more Hobbit and Hunger Games this year. I’m also hoping that the Room on The Broom score by Rene Aubry will be released and dream of a Castle score one day. The first X-Files autograph I collected was Mark Snow, I have a limited edition signed CD sleeves from the Vol one box set, the demand was so high the site crashed minutes after I got through!

GeekMom Kelly -

Video games, in particular the creation/development and game soundtracks

Comic books

Star Wars

Harry Potter

Astronomy.

A long time ago I used to geek out about anime big time. I wrote something like 100 reviews for an anime review site, and I watched every series completely before I reviewed them. I shudder to think how much time that adds up to. It later turned into love for Japanese dramas, which I still enjoy.

Oh this is a weird one, dancing shows. I love So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. I even figured out the choreographer for a random commercial and geeked out that I got it right. Dancing With the Stars isn’t my thing because I don’t think it’s fair to the stars to be judged.

 GeekMom Helene  –

Space

New advances in science

Science education

Photography

Optics

Ireland

Doctor Who

BBC shows

My Little Pony

Cake decorating

Fencing

Girl Scouts

GLBTQ equality activism

Breast and Ovarian Cancer Info

And that leaves me, GeekMom Judy -

Reading/books (I have a library card from the NYC Public Library System, because I couldn’t resist, even though we lived in Upstate and just visited New York City 3 or 4 times a year)

More specifically, Memoirs. (after having written my own, and having spent decades reading others, I am still fascinated to see how a person goes from childhood to adulthood and becomes who she’s supposed to be. It’s twice as fascinating to me as a story someone made up)

My newest 'baby'.

My newest ‘baby’. Photo: Judy Berna

Prosthetics and Amputees (I love telling you about the amazing products and professionals that have blessed my life, and the athletes who have inspired me)

The new Revolimb

The new Revolimb. Photo: Joe Mahon

Lego anything, including learning about the behind the scenes action. (with three sons, and having collected sets for almost 20 years,at each holiday and birthday, we have about as many bricks as Legoland)

Travel/Exploring new places (with an archaeologist husband, we’ve seen some pretty amazing places, following his job around the country)

Winter Sports, including skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snowman creating. It was a huge treat for us to attend the Winter X Games, just up the road from our house, for the past two years. Those athletes are our rock stars.

DSC04583

Super Pipe Practice. Photo: Judy Berna

And speaking of rock stars, in the past few decades I’ve come to really appreciate and love small indie bands. You know, the chicks and dudes who play because they love to? Check out this amazing song, “Not Born to Beauty” that says it so well (track 8).  We have a fantastic local venue in my hometown, and I have an old artificial leg that has the whole Bacon Brothers Band’s signatures on it. I’ve met the most amazing people, who also happen to be talented musicians.

The whole band signed it!

The whole band signed it! Photo: Judy Berna

So that’s our list. What would be on your list? What topics would you like us to write about more, or cover less? We’d love to hear what you love to read about. Welcome to the new, independent GeekMom. Welcome to your GeekMom.com.