Friday, February 10, 2017

This Is What Democracy Looks Like

A while back, I attended yet another protest--this one much smaller in scale. A group of us went to one of our senators' local offices and spoke to his staff there.

We all went inside to speak to the senator's staff, who were very friendly and professional. I expressed my concerns with DeVos and education, and my concerns with Sessions and the Muslim ban executive order. It was all in all a very pleasant experience. I mean, the crowd was mostly elderly white people. They weren't really rabble rousers.

It also helped that there was no police presence during our protest. As I mentioned in my Women's March post, police presence among white people can be almost a background element, but when police are called in because a protest is happening, even if the crowd is white, it immediately changes the tone and environment of a protest. It puts people on the defensive and makes them feel like they're under attack--and in many cases, they are. The police set the tone with how they approach the situation--calm and genial, or armored and armed.

It definitely speaks to my preconceptions, but when I see old, white, Southern people out, I immediately expect them to start ranting about Muslims taking over our country, or Barack Obama being a Kenyan socialist, or some other nonsense. To see so many people expressing concern, frustration, and anger at 45 and his blunderfuck of a first week gave me some hope.

There was a Muslim family that arrived slightly late and kept to the back of the group with me, so I got to chat with them a little bit. Their story is like so many others'--they have family that has been going through the process to be allowed into our country, and now they're worried they'll be denied entry. Their bravery to come to a protest--especially in a red state like Arkansas--was breathtaking. While I figured the protest would be small, if there were any counter protesters or if the cops did get called for whatever reason, they were taking a big risk.

After speaking with our Senator's office, we discussed further potential actions, encouraged each other to keep up the protests and calls--the Tea Party was cited as proof that this can work if we stick to it. We pointed each other toward resources for upcoming events--the Science March, the Tax Day march, local events and meetings of activists groups--and then, most people packed up and went home.

I was about to leave myself, but hung back because the the local news asked to interview the Muslim man and his family. I saw him wrestling with the idea, and he asked me and a few others if we would stand with him while he did it. We agreed. He clearly wanted to say something, but needed the moral support.

He kept his voice calm, respectful, and chose his words carefully, but this was clearly something that he was emotional about--of course. At one point, he got a bit fired up and started to say something about the new administration, and then stopped himself. Instead, he said, "This is a very scary time. The future is very unsure. But we are proud to be Americans. And the support that everyone showed here today fills me with hope."

His statement wasn't in any way shape or form radical. And yet, he started and stopped several times, requesting they let him start a thought over, or taking time to compose his thoughts. He chose his words with extreme care. Watching him struggle for just the right tone of non-threatening admonishment was heartbreaking and infuriating. The white people that had gathered together were able to be incoherent, hurt, angry, annoyed. They were allowed a full range of emotions. But this man had to keep himself tightly composed lest he send the wrong message.

The remaining five of us were getting ready to leave when some white lady came over. I couldn't hear her at first. She was too far away from where I was standing. All I could make out was, "...they're coming." At first, I thought she was someone from the protest that I didn't recognize--maybe a late arrival, so the first thing my mind jumped to was some sort of counter protest. Then I heard an older man standing closer to her shout, "Did you call the cops on the TEA PARTY when they were here protesting??"

I assume that she worked at one of the nearby businesses that shared the parking lot with the office because she smiled in that smug, self-satisfied way that petty people do when they think they're really getting one over on someone and said, "We do this for everyone. You're allowed your opinion..." and I didn't hear the rest because the older man jumped in to start arguing with her again.

I'll admit, a contrarian part of me wanted to stay just out of spite. I didn't want that lady to think I was leaving because she claimed she called the cops. Plus, we were legitimately doing nothing--the protest was over. Everyone had left. We were five people standing on a sidewalk. Everything was already done.

I hung back long enough to make sure the Muslim family was leaving--I was worried what an encounter with the police would mean for them. Once they left, I left, too.

Something that continues to impress me is how petty conservative people can be. I see a group of pro-life people standing outside of a Planned Parenthood literally every weekend. Somehow, the vitriol, obstruction, and hatred directed at liberals, minorities, and President Obama were fine. Now, when the shoe is on the other foot, liberals are expected to just get on with life and any disagreement is treated tantamount to treason, or at least greeted with a snide "snowflake," "safe space," or other things Twitter eggs consider the height of intellectual discourse. It's a cognitive dissonance that continues to surprise me even though it shouldn't.

All that said, seeing this kind of action, even if it's just small, local stuff, makes me feel some hope. The problems our nation is facing isn't going unnoticed. Even in my deeply red state, people have been awakened and they're pushing back. As the protest chant goes: "The people united will never be divided."

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My Comics Project Update: January 2017

As part of my on-going comics project, I update monthly with what comics I bought and anything weird or interesting I stumbled across. Each post will have a running list, and I'll update with the new titles where they fall chronologically.

I came up with the order of the books from this comment of all the Batman trades in chronological order (up to Flashpoint), this trade reading order list for Superman, and this one for Batman. I judged the rest for myself based on release dates and what the story depicted.

I want this list functional and readable, so I didn't focus on perfect chronological order. I tried to keep decent chunks of individual runs together where possible, then backtrack chronologically if necessary for a chunk of a different title--except in cases where something important was introduced, like a character dying, coming back to life, etc.

Below you'll see the list of canon DC titles that I own at this point. The ones in bold are the ones that I got this month.

  1. Crisis On Infinite Earths
  2. Batman: Dark Victory
  3. Justice League International, Vol. 1
  4. Justice League International, Vol. 2
  5. Justice League International, Vol. 3
  6. The Death of Superman
  7. Impulse: Reckless Youth
  8. Justice League: A League of One
  9. JLA Titans: Technis Imperative
  10. Young Justice: A League of Their Own
  11. Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Of Like Minds
  12. Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies
  13. Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl
  14. JLA: The Hypothetical Woman
  15. Teen Titans Vol. 1: A Kid's Game
  16. Teen Titans Vol. 2: Family Lost
  17. Teen Titans Vol. 3: Beast Boys and Girls
  18. Teen Titans Vol. 4: The Future is Now
  19. Teen Titans/Outside​rs: The Insiders
  20. Teen Titans: The Death and Return of Donna Troy
  21. The OMAC Project (Countdown to Infinite Crisis)
  22. Infinite Crisis
  23. Teen Titans Vol. 5: Life and Death*
  24. Batman: Face the Face by James Robinson
  25. Superman: Up, Up, and Away!
  26. Superman: Back in Action
  27. Superman: Last Son of Krypton
  28. Superman: Camelot Falls, Vol. 1
  29. Superman: Camelot Falls (Vol. 2)
  30. Blue Beetle (Book 1): Shellshocked
  31. Blue Beetle (Book 2): Road Trip
  32. Blue Beetle (Book 3): Reach for the Stars
  33. Blue Beetle, Book 4: Endgame
  34. Superman: The Third Kryptonian
  35. Superman: Redemption
  36. Superman: Escape from Bizarro World
  37. Superman: Shadows Linger
  38. Time Masters: Vanishing Point
  39. Superman: Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
  40. Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin (The New 52)
  41. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
  42. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls
  43. Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection (The New 52)
  44. Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends
  45. Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom
  46. Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey
  47. Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters
  48. Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (The New 52)
  49. Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others (The New 52)
  50. Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (The New 52)
  51. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  52. Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  53. The Movement Vol. 1: Class Warfare (The New 52)
  54. Justice League United Vol. 1: Justice League Canada
  55. Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga
  56. Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted (The New 52)
  57. Secret Six Vol. 1: Friends in Low Places
  58. Bizarro
  59. Cyborg Vol. 1: Unplugged

The Amazon Online Marketplace is weird. Books will be normally priced for months, even years, and then one day, arbitrarily, the prices spikes up to $50, $60, $70. There doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason, and then just as arbitrarily, book prices will drop back down to the normal range.

Such is the case for Teen Titans Vol. 5: Life and Death. It was normally priced, and then BOOM $70. No reason that there should be a spike, and only for this book, not the rest of the trades in the series.

I'll admit, I wasn't exactly super stoked to get this book. It's just "Infinite Crisis as told by the Teen Titans." And since I've already read Infinite Crisis, I already know what happens to certain members of the team. For completion's sake, I need it, but I was just going to skip it and wait to see if the price dropped. Then I found it for $19 online and decided to get it while the gettin's good. It's starred, like my Blue Beetle volumes from previous updates, because it hasn't come in yet.

The other books were actually books I got as part of a great sale at Barnes and Noble--buy two, get one free doncha know--and I wound up getting quite a few comics. Only 3 of them were DC, though.* 

Justice League United looks, honestly, like a proper spiritual successor to Justice League International--at least from the cover. We'll see if it's any good. But "Justice League Canada" has me sold in a big way, plus it's a team that features Supergirl, the Martian Manhunter, and NOT BATMAN.

Batgirl: Wanted was actually me finally following up and trying to finish Gail Simone's Batgirl run. I love Gail Simone's books, but I've been trying to hold off on getting New 52 books until I've bought a few back back trades. But then, I also want to read Rebirth whenever that stuff starts becoming available, so I should try to catch up so I know what's going on.

My continued goals for the time being are to finish up getting Blue Beetle and Teen Titans stuff. This Teen Titans run is stupidly long, so that might take a while. Blue Beetle will take less time. After that, I think I'd like to start collecting the Grant Morrison Damian Wayne Batman saga. Partially because it's really THE defining thing about Final Crisis, and I'd like to start getting the BIG EVENTS that divide up the DC timeline so this thing starts taking more of an obvious timeline shape.

If you have any thoughts about my trades, drop me a line in the comments. Want to discuss books I've recently purchased or read? Any suggestions for books I missed? Just please, no spoilers.

Happy reading!

*The other 3 books I got were Marvel: The new Ta-Nehisi Coates' Black Panther, Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur, and the first volume of the post Kelly-Sue Deconnick Captain Marvel before Civil War II assassinates her character.