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SuperMOOC Mania! Part Three – Social Inequality in Comics

SuperMOOC2You guys!  I’m so excited to be with you again on our journey of comics, social issues and SuperMOOCs.  I have now reached the halfway point of the SuperMOOC I’ve been participating in since March – Social Issues through Comic Books, so a few more months of me focusing on issues and then it’s back to focusing on…well, mainly Batman, but other stuff, too, I promise!

For this 3rd module, our SuperMOOC community has been reading comics that deal with Social Inequality, and what an eye-opening and fascinating subject to tackle through comic books.  From nonfiction to dystopian to superhero, all the ranges of graphic reads were well represented, and they all looked at social inequality in a different and responsible way.  I was happy to see that, yet again, I had only read one of the books that we are studying; all the rest of the required texts were comics that were new to me, but have now moved up to the top of my “must recommend” list.

Keep these in mind for readers who are interested in or grappling with social inequality or for those just looking for a great comic.  At this point, I’m really stretching it with the “let’s start with Batman” speech, but let me try it again.  Hmmm.  Well, our first book is written by Gail Simone, who is the current writer on Batgirl…and it’s set in the world of Metropolis and Gotham City, so there you go.

The Movement, Volume 1The Movement, Volume 1:  Class Warfare by Gail Simone & Freddie Williams II:  If you haven’t read any of Gail Simone’s comics (and start with Secret Six, btw, if you do), you are seriously missing out as Gail is just straight up a great writer.  With her new comic book series for DC, The Movement, Gail brings us to Coral City, which, as I mentioned, is part of the same universe in which Metropolis & Gotham City exist.  In Coral City, there are the rich and the poor, those that try to help and those that try to hurt and, oh yeah – superheroes.  To say that the poor have it rough is an understatement.  Not only do the police (well, some of them, not all) run afoul of the laws they are supposed to be upholding, but there’s a killer out there who is targeting the destitute.  However, there’s a movement rising…and they call themselves, ahem, The Movement.  No longer will this group stand aside and let people be hurt, taken advantage of or killed.  They’re using the one thing they’ve got more of…and that’s their minds (slight nod to Jarvis Cocker & Pulp for the misappropriation of that line).  They’re also using their technology to catch people in the act and keep them honest.  But, can these strong-willed superheroes work together to stop the madness or will the serial killer without a face (well, not really, but no one’s actually seen it) continue to haunt the streets and the downtrodden?  Trust me, reading Gail’s work is a joy; never didactic and always thought provoking.

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Super MOOC Mania! Part Two – The Environment in Comics

SuperMOOC2Hello, again, friends!  I’m back with part two of my ongoing SuperMOOC Mania series where I tell you all about the comics I’m reading that are a part of the Super Massive Open Online Course I’m taking – Social Issues through Comic Books.  If you didn’t catch the first installment of my series, please be sure to check out my post spotlighting comics that deal with addiction from last month.

Today, we’re moving on to the next module & topic in my class – comics dealing with the environment.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with such a big, complicated topic, but, I was happy to discover a couple of new ones that dealt with the subject as well as a couple of old favorites that fit the bill, as well.  Each book that I’m featuring this week takes a really different look at the environment, be it from the future where environmentalists are questioning their purpose in life to how the effects of massive flooding, like from Hurricane Katrina, can bring out the best and worst in people, and much more.  So, join me, won’t you?  As always, we start with Batman…well, not exactly Batman, but he is part of the story, even if he is some kind of zombie Batman…

Swamp ThingSwamp Thing, Volume 3 – Rotworld:  The Green Kingdom by Scott Snyder, Yanick Paquette, and Jeff Lemire:  The new version of Swamp Thing written by current Batman scribe, Scott Snyder, is one of my new favorite series since DC rebooted all of their comics back to issue #1.  Swamp Thing’s story is basically the same – Dr. Alec Holland a.k.a. Swamp Thing is the life force of everything green, Animal Man a.k.a. Buddy Baker is the life force of everything red, and the Arcane family (specifically creepy and gross Anton Arcane) is the “life” force of the rot.  When they all work together, we have an ecosystem that is functioning perfectly.  But, the Rot, as led by Anton, is constantly trying to take over the planet and kill off the red (humans and animals) and the green (plants, etc.).  In this 3rd volume of the series, Anton has finally gotten his way – the rot has taken over everything but a very small piece of the Earth that Poison Ivy and Swamp Thing are trying to keep intact.  However, when their secret sanctuary is attacked by the horrible zombified, rot-controlled people and animals of the Earth, Swamp Thing knows he must fight with all his might (and with a little help from Batman from the past – it’ll make sense if you read it, trust me) to put the world back to right.  There’s some scary stuff going on in this book, so it might be more appropriate for older readers.

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SuperMOOC Mania! Part One – Addiction in Graphic Novels

SuperMOOC2So, last year, just around this time, I heard a word I’d never heard before – SuperMOOC.  It stands for Super Massive Open Online Course – it’s a free course, sometimes sponsored by a college, sometimes not, but always fun and exciting (well, at least the two I’ve taken have been and are).  It’s open to as many people who want to sign up for it, and the one that propelled me into SuperMOOC mania was Professor Christy Blanch’s first foray into the world – Gender through Comic Books.

Well, it was a glorious three months that ended too soon, but I was happy to learn that Professor Blanch was offering another one – Social Issues through Comic Books.  I’m currently deep in the throes of this class, and I thought each month I’d share with you the comic books we’re reading that have to do with a specific societal issue.   This class is a bit longer, but we’ll be tackling issues like addiction, the environment, social inequality, immigration & information privacy.

I thought it would be fun for me to give you, dear readers, all the info on these comics – a lot of which are ones that were already in my library’s teen graphic novel collection, but I had never read before.  First up – addiction.  For readers interested in the topic or those curious to see how comic books have covered the topic, I’ve got you covered.  Come with me over the next few months to hear my thoughts on a lot of comics that I’ve only just recently read.  As always…let’s start with Batman –

Batman VenomBatman:  Venom by Denny O’Neil, Trevor Von Eeden, Russell Braun & Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez:  So, I’m actually pretty embarrassed admitting this, but I had never read this Batman story, even though I noticed it quite a few times as I was going through my graphic novel collection.  Well, lucky for me, this class forced me to read it, and it was quite a good book.  Basic story: Batman is helpless to save a little girl’s life because he just can’t physically lift the weight to free her.  So, he turns to Venom pills (which will soon make an appearance for the worse when Bane gets ahold of them) which turn him into the crazy, mad psycho type that is hell-bent on giving the baddies their due with his new superhuman strength.  But at what cost?  His health?  His sanity?  This was an enlightening read that I liked because Batman really is just a regular human guy; it sometimes is helpful to see that even those who are the strongest have their weaknesses, as well.  Poor Batman, and boy does that cover creep me out every time I look at it.  I’m turning it over now, and moving on to… 

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