Saturday, November 24, 2012


Buffy the Vampire Slayer got out of the gate first and maintained popular in comic books some time after the demise of her television series.  Despite that, Xena-- who premiered on an episode of HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS before gaining her own series the same year-- is arguably the more ambitious femme formidable.

To say "ambitious" is not to portray the teleseries as something artsy and high-falutin'.  XENA the series borrowed from a variety of popular sources-- sword-and-sandal movies, Hong Kong kung-fu films, dungeons-and-dragons and even westerns. Nevertheless, the writers were gutsy enough to simulatenously swipe from highbrow works like Greek epic and the Bible or from philosophers like Schopenhauer, resulting in a unique blend of the "high" and "low" that BUFFY can't quite match.

The theme of the warrior trying to turn his/her deadly skills to good ends is a favorite American theme, but the creators of XENA upped the ante.  XENA episodes often concern the necessity for characters to "let go" of the lust for hate or vengeance -- and not only the villains.  Both Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle frequently have to practice what they preach, and they don't always do so successfully.  The Schopenhauerean ideal of relinquishing the will plays better than it lives.

Not to mention that in addition to all this philosophical complexity, Xena also had better fight-choreography than Buffy--


A better all-musical episode.  

Monday, November 19, 2012


I haven't featured many characters as yet from the genre of prose fantasy, but I would remiss not to mention one of the better ones of the 1990s, Kahlan Amnell from Terry Goodkind's SWORD OF TRUTH series.

However, for the time being, this will have to be something of a placeholder, since I confess I've only read the first in Goodkind's multi-book series.  I can provide no overall perspective as to how the character of Kahlan develops over the course of the series.  Like many fantasy-fans I've seen the LEGEND OF THE SEEKER teleseries, but as this changes up the events of the books, this can hardly be a resource.

I might go out on a limb and say that Kahlan is notable for being an equal partner to the male hero in the course of the series, and that her particular power as a "Mother Confessor" is integral to Goodkind's take on magical power in his fantasy-sphere.

To top it off, I quote from the Sword of Truth Wiki:

"Outside of the Sword of Truth universe, Terry Goodkind reports that Kahlan was the first character he thought of, and that her iconic scene running from the D'Haran quad sparked the entire series."

Sunday, November 11, 2012


From the late 1960s on, the comic book Lois Lane had become noticably tougher, often if not consistently capable of taking out gunmen with karate chops.  But the Lois Lane seen in both live-action and animated television shows was nearly incapable of self-defense.  The Margot Kidder Lois of the big-budget SUPERMAN films displayed a modicum of "street savvy" and gutsiness, but she didn't seem like the sort of reporter who could mix it up with a batch of gun-wielding thugs.

Though 1993's LOIS AND CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN often played Lois for comic effect, the writers gave her greater efficacy in compensation.  Portrayed as the child of an army brat, Teri Hatcher's Lois had a genuine appreciation for the martial arts, as displayed in the Season 2 episode "Chi of Steel."  Though she still didn't mow down small armies of thugs, she was frequently seen trading karate chops with assassins or punching out the henchman of the Villain of the Week.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Year 1992 should probably get the honorary title of "the Year of the Woman Superhero."  It's not that Buffy was the best superhero, or even the best of her horror-oriented subgenre.  But in contrast to the live-action flops of SUPERGIRL and SHEENA (both 1984), BUFFY the film was at least a modest success-- which led to the 1997 teleseries.

So what about the original film?  Scripter Joss Whedon has said many times that the director wanted it to be more of a comedy than Whedon did.  Without my seeing the original Whedon script, I can't judge whether it looks like the director made massive changes.  The final shooting script is extremely loose, though, and only rarely does the potential of the concept come across. 

It's neither a very funny nor very thrilling film, though Kirsty Swanson (unlike male lead Luke Perry) at least plays the concept relatively straight.  In the history of the femmes formidables, BUFFY the movie is essentially an interesting footnote.