Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The 10 Worst Women in Refrigerators (i.e., Cases of Violence Against Women in Comics)

fridges.jpgSuperhero comics are often seen as the purest form of escapism. In them, men can fly and fight and do heroic things and meet girls and have a secret identity—you know, all the stuff men secretly want to do. Women…not so much. In fact, outside of comic books specifically written for women, female characters in superhero books have a pretty tough time of it. And by “tough time,” I mean horrible, horrible things happen to them—so much so that the term "Women in Refrigerators" has been coined to describe the phenomenon (Curious why? Wait until you get to #2). Granted, in most comics violence is the norm and people get hurt, but these aren’t just superheroine fights gone bad—these are ten of the most egregious examples of female characters (many of them not super at all) being hunted down and violated, especially by the men writing them. (Note: If it's not a superhero book, it's not in here. Otherwise most of this list would be all R. Crumb and Sin City comics.)

10. Gwen Stacy (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Possibly the most famous death in comics, Gwen Stacy was dropped off of the Brooklyn Bridge by the Green Goblin, and when Spidey tried to save her, her neck snapped, killing her. It gave Peter Parker a much-needed new supply of angst, which he carried around with him for a while, at least until he hooked up with swinging go-go dancer red-head Mary Jane. On a side note, MJ was the one dropped off the bridge in the movie, and of course, Spidey saved her. Then, in Spider-Man 3, they dropped Gwen Stacy off a building, and Spidey saved her, too! Either they've learned the error of their woman-hating ways, or everybody's neck gets snapped in Spider-Man 4.

9. Linda Park (The Flash)
Flash baddie Professor Zoom may have had a silly name, but there's nothing silly about plain old Zoom, the villain's successor. Originally a partially paralyzed criminal profiler, superfast psychopath Zoom wants the Flash to be a better hero by understanding tragedy, so he decides to inject some tragedy into the Flash's life, specifically by killing the hero's wife, Linda Park. While his attempt failed, his battle with the Flash created a sonic boom, injuring Linda and aborting the twin fetuses in her uterus. Granted, the Flash later reversed that damage during another fight with Zoom by traveling back in time, and Linda ultimately gave birth to her children, who became superheroes themselves, but that's just marketing. The phrase to focus on here is "sonic boom abortion."

8. Psylocke/Betsy Braddock (Captain Britain Monthly)

Although she’s best known as the purple-haired X-Man Psylocke (okay, not that well-known—it’s not like she was in the movies or anything), before she joined the team she was a supporting character in Captain Britain. As the sister of Brian Braddock, she was next in line to replace him when he took a leave of absence from the role of Defender of England…unfortunately, that put her in the past of a gentleman named Slaymaster, who, despite his completely nonthreatening name, took it upon himself to gouge Betsy’s eyes out. She later got robot eyes from another dimension and her brother crushed Slaymaster’s head with a rock, but y’know, that doesn’t make it okay.

7. Black Cat (Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do)
The Black Cat could be called many things. Ripoff of DC's Catwoman? Uh, yeah, she's an acrobatic, cat-themed cat burglar. Spider-Man love interest? Sure, she's a shameless flirt, although she prefers it when he wears the costume. Victim of Kevin Smith's misguided sense of storytelling? You betcha. Smith earned accolades for his darker take on Daredevil (see below), and followed it up with a mini-series on the white-haired Cat, deciding that she needed something in her life that would explain her kinda weird behavior. So after having a drug dealer dope her with heroin and try to rape her, he reveals that she's already been raped once, in college. Was Smith trying to enlighten the public about how common rape is in this country? Sure. Was it a bold move for Marvel to make one of their main characters a rape victim? Absolutely. Does it suck to be Black Cat now? Uh-huh.

6. Debbie Harris (The Savage Dragon)
When Dragon met Debbie, she was a troubled young woman living with her mother in an apartment down the hall. One night, her mom locked her out to punish her, so Dragon invited Debbie to stay at his place, and they hooked up, despite Debbie seeming naive and kind of child-like and Dragon being a green guy with a fin on his head. The next morning, she went to answer a knock at Dragon’s door and was immediately shot point-blank in the head. The shooter was her ex-boyfriend, Ronald Dimple; Debbie’s mother had told him where Debbie was. Dragon became depressed after this, and did not get a new girlfriend for several issues. Debbie later came back as a zombie.
5. Ultimate Wasp (Ultimates Vol. 1)
Even with a total do-over, the size-changing Wasp can’t get a break. When Marvel introduced the Ultimates, an alternate-reality version of the Avengers, it looked like a fresh start for all involved, including Janet Van Dyne. But things quickly took a turn for the worse. In the regular universe, the Wasp had gone 40 years with only one instance of domestic violence, a backhand from her then-crazy husband Ant-Man, but the Ultimate Universe decided that they didn’t want to wait that long. Six issues into the series, the Wasp managed to incur the wrath of her jealous husband, and when he hit her, she shrank to a tiny size to escape him. However, he then proceeded to spray her with Raid, THEN he used his telepathic helmet to order (relatively) gigantic ants to attack her. She was eventually found and hospitalized, prompting Captain America to track down her fugitive husband and beat the snot out of him.

4. Karen Page (Daredevil)
Bullseye has killed a lot of people, including two women in Daredevil's life: Elektra and Karen Page. Now, we could have chosen Elektra because she got stabbed in the chest by Bullseye with her own sai, but she went into that fight to the death with her eyes open. (Also, she totally came back to life.) Meanwhile, Karen Page here was given a pretty tough row to hoe. She moved to L.A. to become an actress, got into porn (like you do), got hooked on drugs and then was impaled with one of Daredevil's batons, hurled by Bullseye, while protecting the hero. Granted, she chose to do that, but it still happened to her, and redemptive though it was, it was a shittty end to a shitty life. You can thank Kevin Smith for that one, too, although by that point it was more of a mercy killing.

3. Barbara Gordon (Batman: The Killing Joke)
While she fought crime for years as Batgirl, it was the fact that she was Commissioner Gordon’s daughter that caused Barbara to receive a visit by the maniac known as the Joker. In an attempt to drive the Commissioner insane, the Joker showed up at Barbara’s house and shot her in the stomach, then proceeded to remove her clothes and take pictures of her. He showed these pictures to her father to try and break him, but the Commissioner remained sane and was freed by the Batman. Barbara, however, was paralyzed -- the bullet lodged in her spine, and she never walked again, becoming the wheelchair-bound information broker known as Oracle. Also, they gave her a crappy TV show, so, you know, double whammy.

2. Alexandra DeWitt (Green Lantern, Vol. 3)
When comic book artist Kyle Rayner was handed a magic ring by a blue midget, he thought it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to him. But little did he know that a paid killer known as Major Force would come looking for the ring, and would torture Kyle’s girlfriend to get it. Kyle came home to find Alex crammed into her refrigerator, thereby inspiring the catchphrase, "women in refrigerators," as well as a Website speaking out against violence against women in comics. It's also a handy reference tool for a writer trying to create informative entertainment out of it! [Author pulls on collar a la Rodney Dangerfield…but when he was funny, not when he was an abusive father in Natural Born Killers.]

1. Sue Dibny (Identity Crisis)
Sue Dibny was the wife of Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man. The two were always the happy couple of the superhero set, with Sue often acting as den mother to the Justice League, and the pair did detective work on the side, like some sort of stretchy Nick and Nora Charles. Then came the Identity Crisis mini-series.
Right off the bat, Sue gets horribly burned to death in her home. The culprit is unknown, but based on the evidence, the League suspects it to be Dr. Light. Now Doc Light is usually a D-list villain, and he actually had his name stolen by a superhero once, but we find out through a flashback that one day, when Sue was hanging out on the Justice League satellite (by herself, in space), Dr. Light somehow managed to get aboard. Yes, a supervillain had somehow gained access to the League's high-tech HQ (in space), and that was when he decided to rape Sue to within an inch of her life. The League showed up soon after to pull him off of her, but the damage was done, and they had to blank Sue's memory to make her forget it. I wish they could do that to my memory—when I close my eyes, I keep seeing Dr. Light's rolling eyeballs and wagging tongue as he violates a minor character who never hurt anybody.

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From Trash to Auction, Faster Than a Speeding ...Well, You Know

Comic-book collectors like their numbers. They know that the first issue of X-Men, which introduced Marvel’s mutant superheroes, was published in 1963 and had a cover price of 12 cents. They also know that today a copy of that issue, in near mint condition, is worth $16,500. (Parents, take note.)

And while the market for back issues is well established, more and more collectors are turning their attention to the hand-drawn covers and interior pages that make up a comic book. This original art has become the focus of auctions with sales in the five and six figures. It’s a surprising turn of events for work that in the early days of the industry, was considered so unimportant that it was used to sop up ink or spilled coffee, given away to fans or even destroyed outright.

The art eventually stopped being discarded, and in the 1970s it generally became policy to return the covers and pages to the artists, many of whom began selling it to fans and collectors, who are hungry for it. Last month the cover of Weird Science No. 16, from 1952, drawn by Wally Wood, sold for $200,000. In February an inside black-and-white page from the 1963 X-Men No. 1, by the influential Jack Kirby, sold for $33,460. Late last year two color paintings by Alex Ross, used as covers for a recent Justice League story, were sold by his art dealer for $45,000 and $50,000. In 2005 an auction for the black-and-white cover of Batman No. 11, from 1942, by Fred Ray and Jerry Robinson, closed at $195,500.

The sales reflect the range of what entices collectors: from the wide-ranging work of Mr. Kirby, the “King of Comics,” to rarities like the early Batman cover to lavishly painted depictions of classic superheroes by the critically acclaimed Mr. Ross.

“From the ’60s and the ’70s, when these markets were just beginning, it’s been shocking,” said Jerry Weist, 58, author of “The Comic Art Price Guide.” “And to the old-timers we can hardly believe it. We felt vindicated when we started to see covers sell for five, six or seven thousand dollars in the ’70s. Now it’s gone beyond that. I’m pretty much priced out of the field.”

Collectors of original comic-book art sound like a subculture within a subculture, and that’s fine with many aficionados. “There was a thrill in finding something nerdier than collecting comics,” said David Mandel, 37, an executive producer of the HBO series “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” who first bought original art during a visit to the San Diego Comic-Con in 1995.

Mr. Mandel has pieces that would make many fans drool, like the cover, by Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum, of Giant-Size X-Men from 1975, which trumpeted Wolverine, Storm and others as the new incarnation of the mutant team, and the 1982 cover of Daredevil No. 181, by Frank Miller, depicting the death of Elektra, the title hero’s girlfriend.

His collection also includes the last four pages from “The Killing Joke,” a seminal 1988 story that helped usher in a new level of maturity for comic books. That Batman tale chronicles a possible origin for the hero’s nemesis, and was written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. In November the last page of the story became available at Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas. Mr. Mandel landed it for just over $31,000.

“The story ends with them laughing, taking a moment in their relationship to laugh,” Mr. Mandel said. “As a reader and as a comedy writer, it resonated.”

More so than with comic books — where multiple copies of even the most sought-after issue exist — the original art they are produced from satisfies a collector’s desire for the exclusive. “If I have the original hand-drawn cover to, say, an issue of X-Men, that’s the only hand-drawn cover to that issue of X-Men. It’s one of a kind. Anyone who has a collecting gene can respond to that,” Mr. Mandel said.

The value of any original comic-book art begins with its creator. “If it is Superman drawn by Curt Swan, it’s worth a lot more than Superman drawn by Joe Schmo,” said Joe Mannarino, who owns Comic Art Appraisal and All Star Auctions in Ridgewood, N.J., with his wife, Nadia.

Mr. Swan, who died in 1996, drew Superman regularly from the 1950s through the 1980s. The value of a page of his art is also contingent on what is depicted (Superman in action or supporting characters talking?) and whether the issue is significant. (First appearances and important stories are more valuable than routine adventures.) An attempt to recapture the collector’s childhood comes into play too.

“An awful amount of the money being spent is certainly connected to the baby-boom generation and their sense of nostalgia,” said Mr. Weist, the price-guide author.

Nostalgia is certainly something Mr. Ross, 38, is familiar with. His first major comic-book project was in 1994, for Marvel, and it retold the early days of the Marvel universe of heroes through the eyes of a photojournalist. His reputation for photorealistic renderings of superheroes was cemented two years later by Kingdom Come, a lavishly painted comic that envisioned a future DC universe with irresponsible superheroes run rampant. The project pushed prices for his original art from hundreds to thousands of dollars a page.

“Images of DC and Marvel characters are the best sellers, bar none,” said Mr. Ross, who sells many pieces at alexrossart.com. “It’s also what I enjoy to illustrate the most. It’s what the buyers of similar backgrounds as myself want. They want the thing they grew up with.”

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Stairway Surprise

A back-of-the-napkin analysis of the lifetime worth of the most requested rock tune in history.
Led Zeppelin fans

Rhapsody embraces MP3 music files

US digital music service Rhapsody is the latest company to embrace MP3 downloads without copy restrictions.

Songs from all the four leading record labels - Universal, EMI, Sony and Warner - will be available in the digital format.

Rhapsody joins Napster and Amazon, who have all started offering MP3 files in recent months.

"We're no longer competing with the iPod. We're embracing it," said Neil Smith, vice president at the firm.

Until recently, Rhapsody, which is owned by Real and MTV, had focused on a subscription service, which allowed users to stream an unlimited number of songs for between $13 (£6.50) and $15 (£7.50) a month.

Streamed songs

Rhapsody's streamed songs do not play on Apple's iPod, the world's most popular MP3 player.

The subscription service will continue to run alongside the MP3 download store.

The majority of MP3 tracks will cost 99 cents (50p), while albums will sell for $9.99 (£5).

The shift comes as the British record industry announced that digital sales were going "from strength to strength".

The BPI reported that digital formats now account for about 85% of all UK Top 20 singles sales.

More than 200 million downloads have now been sold in the UK since the launch of the first mainstream stores in early 2004. In total, digital formats now account for 8.6% of all UK record company sales income.

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Profiles feature NOT going away

For users of Profiles, I have good news to report: we will keep the feature with no plans to discontinue it.

We were persuaded by the well-reasoned, sincere responses of loyal members who very much value this feature. As someone who enjoys helping his four-year-old daughter manage her one-DVD-at-a-time, G-rated sub-account, I identified with these thoughtful pleas to maintain Profiles.

Because of an ongoing desire to make our website easier to use, we believed taking a feature away that is only used by a very small minority would help us improve the site for everyone. Listening to our members, we realized that users of this feature often describe it as an essential part of their Netflix experience. Simplicity is only one virtue and it can certainly be outweighed by utility.

As for improving Profiles, there are no definite plans in place yet, but, like everything at Netflix, we seek to make it better and we are open to suggestions. Non-users of the feature and new members will be able to access Profiles in 2-3 weeks. Existing users will be able to continue their use, uninterrupted.

We apologize for any inconvenience the previous announcement caused.
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Twelve Reasons a Movie Should Never be a First Date

12. You can't pay attention to the movie

Dates are pretty goddamned stressful experiences. You're constantly trying to figure out how to act, what to say, where to put your arms, and if and when it's okay to try and kiss her. They're absurdly complex, needlessly aggravating social constructs that cause many to go into nervous breakdowns.

In other words, they're not terribly conducive to a true movie-watching environment. You can't pay attention to things like character arcs or symbolism when you're too busy worrying about whether putting your hand on hers would be too forward at this point in the date, or if sticking your penis into the popcorn tub will either be a hilarious joke or just burn really badly.

11. Movie theatres are too almost-romantic

A darkened room with soft seats, smelling faintly of popcorn and dreams, warm and moist with human body temperature. It almost makes one think of sex, given the right date, but the obviously unsexy aspects of movie theaters -- stains, spills, the fact that a fucking movie is actually playing -- make the place a not-quite-romantic way to spend two hours. One part of your body is ready to engage in a ravenous makeout session with the person sitting next to you, while the other worries about how long it's been since these seats were sanitized.

10. It's fucking expensive

Nobody ever just goes to a movie on a date. It's always dinner and a movie. You can do just dinner, but you can never do just a movie. This means you'll be spending around fifty to a hundred dollars in a single night, on someone you've never even taken out on a date before! Throw in popcorn and candy and maybe IMAX tickets if the movie's available there, and you've got the potential to waste a shitload of money on a first date that might not ever lead to a second.

9. The floors are sticky

And that shit is not sexy. Just pointing it out.

8. You can't ask for your money back

Now, you can, technically, ask for your money back from the box office before the film's halfway point if it really, really sucks. But you definitely can't do that on a date. You'll just plain look cheap. There's no turning back if you see a crap film: that money is gone for good.

7. Movies are nerdier than other date possibilities

Dates are moments to be impressive. You can take her mini-golfing, and show her you've got a sense of humor whilst doing something mildly athletic. You can take her rock climbing, and show respect for her thrill-seeking ability. You can go to a carnival, and try to regress back to the simple wonder and fun you had as children.

Or, you can take her to a movie and just sort of sit and stare at fictional stories for a few hours.

Of all the things you could possibly do on a first date to impress someone, why take them to a movie? The best dates say, "I'm adventurous," or, "I'm intelligent," or "I'm compassionate." Taking someone to the movies just says, "I like movies." So what?

6. Two hours is a long time to sit around someone you might despise

Anyone who has been on a blind date knows the feeling: the person you've chosen to spend the night with is either really ugly, or your political opposite, or has an abhorrent personality, but you've still got to spend the next few hours alongside them because the date has already been arranged.

A crappy dinner, you can always leave early and split the check. A lame trip to a sporting event, you can sneak out. A movie, as previously mentioned, you cannot escape from if you're the one who paid. Not just your money is gone, but your time, as well: you might possibly have to spend 120 minutes sitting next to the Overweight Racist Demon Date from Hell just because you chose to go to a movie instead of somethign more easily-escapable.

5. Good movies are usually not romantic

No Country for Old Men is probably one of the most incredible movies ever made, but it's not really something that says "hey, let's have giddy, experimental sex afterward" to your date. Reservoir Dogs is not a film that inspires cuddling, and The Godfather isn't exactly the feel-good movie of the century.

Great films are about loss and horror and evil and triumph and sacrifice, and these are the exact things that are not remotely romantic on a first date. After you know where your date stands, sure: take her out to No Country and have a nihilistic good time, then spend the rest of the night contemplating it and trying not to think about Chigurh. If you've just met the chick, however, then perhaps a truly great film would simply be too emotionally overwhelming for a first date.

4. Shitty movies infect everything around them with shittiness

Conversely, something like Delta Farce or Madagascar 2 will infuriate both you and your date so much that the entire date will be ruined: the film upon which you were relying on for the quality of your entire date betrayed you, and essentially wasted a combined four hours of your and your date's lives. Both will be angry, and whoever chose the movie will be blamed by the other, even if that person paid. Unfortunately, the evil of shitty movies can invade your date and ruin it from the inside out.

3. Wall-E will be way more adorable than whomever you're dating

I know what you're thinking. "Oh," you say. "I'll take this girl I really like to see Wall-E! It's cute, it's funny, and it's a love story so she'll think I'm really sensitive and want to give me kisses!"


The inherent problem with watching Wall-E is that almost every robot in that movie is at least fifteen times more adorable than you, or anyone you know, will ever be. Wall-E is the single cutest creature ever committed to film, Eve is a cute iPod-looking thing, and M-O steals the goddamn show in the very few scenes he in. Wall-E is an adorable movie, yes, but it's so adorable that when it's done, your date won't be thinking about you -- they'll be thinking about seeing Wall-E again. You will have enjoyed yourself as well, but you'll also have been officially cockblocked by a three-foot-tall metal box with no elbows.

2. It's obvious

Women hate cliches, and considering the actual idea of a "date" is quickly being phased out in favor of drunken, passion-fueled hookups at substance-filled parties, maintaining originality is priority one. The "dinner and a movie" date is literally as old as movies themselves. Why would you want to choose the most standard, boring date possibility in the history of date possibilities? Why not bring her a heart-shaped box of chocolates and some flowers, while you're at it?

1. It doesn't allow for conversation

With all the etiquette and rules and nervousness that accompanies a first date, it's easy to forget what they're actually for: getting to know the other person. With that in mind, can you literally think of a worse way to spend two hours with someone you're attracted to than sitting next to them for two hours in a dark room, literally without ever making eye contact?

Dates should be about conversation, and not just about some stupid movie you just saw. They're meant to be about figuring the other person out, finding out what they're like, who they are. In this sense, a movie is the ultimate distraction from the true meaning of a date: you've technically gone out, and you've technically shared one another's company, but you haven't actually done anything. Nothing is risked, and thus, nothing is gained. It's a silly waste of time and money.

Why not take her to a monster truck rally instead?

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The Environmental Technology of Wall*E

In general I'll take any excuse to go see a kid's movie. Aside from the fact that I'm currently at the stage in my life where I find six year-olds to be annoying, content created for them often seems to be extremely entertaining. Proving, once again, that since I'm a grown-up now...it's my turn to decide what that means.

But, obviously, as chief geek here at EcoGeek I had to go see Wall*E; the story of a little solar-powered robot left behind to take care of the mess left on Earth. The result, aside from a wonderful and humorous love story in which the robots seem considerably more human than humans, contains some interesting ideas about the environment and technology.

In the movie, the Earth is abandoned in about 2110...about 100 years from now. In that time, we've made some good advances in renewable energy, and even efficiency, but it wasn't enough.

Wall*E himself is the most prominent example of clean technology. We've covered robots that may help to sort trash, or break it down into more manageable chunks. But obviously Wall*E's finest clean technology are his exceptionally (in fact, impossibly) efficient solar panels. Just like the Solio charger, Wall*E's panels expand and fold-out to become larger than the surface area of Wall*E himself.

However, the surface area of the panels, at most two feet square, won't ever provide enough electricity for Wall*E's roving and trash compacting (never mind his high-powered laser.) To actually renewably charge the army of self-sustaining robots (of which Wall*E is the last remaining survivor) a huge solar array would need to be maintained (by other robots) and Wall*E would have to visit it regularly for recharges.

Alternately, it's possible that an invisible and undiscussed satellite array is collecting huge amounts of energy in orbit around the earth. And when Wall*E needs a charge he calls down a super-powerful beam of photons or microwaves. That would allow him to charge for a full day's work in a matter of minutes.

Additionally, on the post-apocalyptic earth, advertisements are solar powered and holographic projections for the mega-corps who have taken over as our government are only turned on when they detect movement.

Aside from the disturbing idea that Wal-Mart may one day be our government, it's true that they're using similar technology to turn off display lights when there are no shoppers, saving tons of electricity. And they have what may turn out to be the largest privately owned collection of solar panels in the world.

In Wall*E's world we seem to have developed some great environmental technologies. Wind turbines abound...though they are covered up to their necks in the refuse of our civilization. This, for me, was the movie's most powerful statement. Is it possible that, no matter how much power we produce renewably, we will never satisfy the demand of the Earth's people. Will we simply consume our way back into the hole of unsustainability no matter what solutions are presented by technology?

Obviously I hope that's not the case. I do, however, think it's possible. While humans are very good at creating solutions, we're also very good at being stupid. The massive amounts of refuse on the planet don't seem to be the true problem. It's the pollution of the skies and ground that has destroyed plant and animal life that really seems to have forced humans off the planet.

And while there are several examples of robots that are looking to monitor pollution, and even some that might help us grow food or clean pollution, the massive scale of the potential problem is daunting.

Obviously, I'm taking all of this from a movie that is about robot love...not about the environment. But the fact that such a vision of the future is even culturally acceptable and doesn't seem at all ridiculous is a pretty big step. Recognizing you have a problem is the first step in the treatment of any disease. And, in the end, that may be Wall*E's biggest contribution to environmental technology.

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Oscar Campaign Begins for Heath Ledger

An early whispering campaign has already begun in Hollywood for a posthumous Oscar to be awarded to Heath Ledger for his brilliant performance of the villainous Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

The morning show on KTLA, Los Angeles, raves about Ledger’s “blockbuster performance” that “hits all the right notes.” They say that Ledger turned in the best performance of all time as a villain in a super hero movie.

And they were not the first to say it in print.

The Rolling Stone’s critic, Peter Travers, who calls The Dark Night an “absolute stunner,” a “thunderbolt,” and a “potent provocation,” pulls no punches in rhapsodizing over Ledger’s portrayal, writing, “I can only speak superlatives of Ledger, who is mad-crazy-blazing brilliant as the Joker. Miles from Jack Nicholson’s broadly funny take on the role in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, Ledger takes the role to the shadows, where even what’s comic is hardly a relief. No plastic mask for Ledger; his face is caked with moldy makeup that highlights the red scar of a grin, the grungy hair and the yellowing teeth of a hound fresh out of hell. To the clown prince of crime, a knife is preferable to a gun, the better to ’savor the moment.’”

Reviews thus far have been beyond glowing or incandescent; they have been nuclear blowouts for Ledger, as well as for the entire cast, particularly Christian Bale as Batman, Gary Oldman as good cop Jim Gordon, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox the toy-designing scientist, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes, and Michael Caine as Bruce’s purring butler, Alfred.

But it’s Heath Ledger’s performance that will remain in your mind, in your soul, and in your nightmares. Dead at 28, The Dark Knight is his last completed picture. If he wins the Oscar, he will be the first to do so posthumously since Peter Finch in 1976’s Network.

Ledger was immensely talented, truly humble, and vastly popular. What could be a more fitting tribute to his legacy than an Oscar? Hollywood seems to be aiming that he gets it.

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