The Cliffs of Insanity: Turning It Over To The Minions

Wonder Woman in the Justice League animated series, the version my eldest daughter loves. © DC Entertainment

It’s summer with all four of my minions home and it seems appropriate to largely turn this column over to them this week.

My eldest (who no longer quite qualifies as a minion since she’s 20) takes at look at the Wonder Woman that’s inspiring to her generation and my youngest son reviews Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

But first….

Doctor Who Needs An Anti-Rose

My two eldest minions love Doctor Who, though the eldest daughter took longer to be converted. But none of us were that thrilled with the past season. We still love Matt Smith as the Doctor and we have nothing against Jenna-Louise Coleman as Clara Oswin Oswald, but there’s a spark missing. The dynamic between the Doctor and Clara is doing little for the three of us, save in her opening episode as Dalek Clara.

Our conclusion is that she’s too much like Rose, so we’ve seen this type of dynamic before and are bored. We all agreed Eleven needs an opposite. But who? Someone who’s badass, not innocent, someone the Doctor has to rein in, rather than the other way around. We all loved the dynamic with Vastra and Jenny Flint and their Sontarian nurse, Strax, and decided if they couldn’t be used every episode, we wanted someone who might be just as fun as that trio.

A few suggestions later and they had what they felt was the perfect suggestion:

Michelle Rodriguez.

“And she even dies over and over in her movies,” my eldest son said.

I know, it will never happen. But now that the idea’s been mentioned, it may become my personal headcanon.

And speaking of warrior women…here’s my eldest daughter’s essay on why Wonder Woman is important to her and why a Wonder Woman movie should be a no-brainer.

Princess Diana Needs a Movie

I’m not a huge comic book reader, except for what I get for my mom. After the Runaways comics, I have trouble getting invested in a new series, and comic book fans have very established universes and ideas that make it harder to get into the fandom, which is important to me.

So the superheroes I grew up with are mainly on the small screen, and the ones I know now are mainly on the big screen—Iron Man 3, Captain America, Avengers, etc. The DC Comics Animated Universe has some of my favorite interpretations of superheroes, along with some of the best damn cartoon writing in the history of television.

And it was there, in the first episode of Justice League, that I met “my” Wonder Woman.

She’s a little bit different from the George Perez interpretation in that Paradise Island’s rigid rules and regulations are called into question. She has her flaws—a bit judgmental, Type A personality, a perfectionist, occasionally naive—but she is ultimately a hero, fully capable of kicking ass and taking names much in the same way Superman can.

What I liked best about her, though, was that she was very much a female, with nurturing instincts, which were played as a character strength rather than a weakness.

My favorite scene in cartoon history offers Wonder Woman stopping to comfort a crying little girl. She explains that the boys won’t play with her because she’s a girl. The scene flashes to two boys hitting each other with sticks. Wonder Woman knows how to handle this. She looks dismissively at them and tells the girl they would surely be defeated on a real field of battle. The girl looks at her and stops crying. “Really?” Wonder Woman smiles and picks up a stick, totally unconscious of being a beautiful princess in a tiara playing with a grubby, formerly crying child. The girl learns a few moves, and then charges the boys. They fall back to the ground, startled. Wonder Woman smiles to herself, leaving the audience in no doubt that she knew what she was doing.

What strikes me the most about it, even years later, is that Wonder Woman got down on the ground with that girl in a way I can’t picture Superman doing, for all his beloved animated series antics. Batman in the same series “sat with Ace until her time came,” but I can’t picture him intervening in such an emotionally sensitive way, being a role model without ever being condescending. (Batman does condescend. Just ask Robin.)

She also made sure the little girl was the hero of that scene in a way she desperately needed to be, rather than Wonder Woman giving the boys a talking-to. It tells us a lot about Wonder Woman that we might not otherwise know. It also inspired me to be a teacher, back then, or at the very least a role model or an inspiration.

We can’t all be Wonder Woman, but we should damn well try.

Wonder Woman is a protector, a woman in some of the traditional senses. But she’s also a warrior, fully capable of telling Batman what to do and keeping the Flash in line. When they all get turned into children in the episode, Wonder Woman, called “bossy” by the eight-year-old Green Lantern (Jon Stewart), is the only one to maintain a leadership position, probably because despite being the only child of a tribe of women, she somehow learned how to take care of people, too. Not just in the way a superhero might—swooping in from afar, but in the way a good older sister might—making sure everyone you just saved on the ground is okay, directing damage to uncrowded buildings, etc.

The DCAU heroes weren’t perfect. The Martian Manhunter has a hard time of it especially. Batman is blindsided by Hawkgirl, too, and his single mindedness makes for hard teamwork and leads to him alienating damn near everyone by the time of Batman Beyond. Jon Stewart is cantankerous and overly harsh on Supergirl in the new Unlimited pilot.

Wonder Woman, as I mentioned, has her warrior’s pride and her princess complex, although she does a good job of hiding it. Superman’s willingness to trust everybody and to take on too much responsibility makes for trouble in the pilot. But their flaws are part of their characters, and played with for good television. And you never lose sympathy for the characters. You never stop feeling their pain. You never stop wanting them to win, and that’s what I love best about “my” Wonder Woman. She’s a real person, and never once did I stop looking up to her. I still haven’t.

Why she never had her own animated series, and still doesn’t have her own movie, I can’t fathom. There’s something unique about the figure as a teacher and a mentor to women that would make any project damn near sell itself to the public, if done right.

I realize this piece doesn’t focus on the comics. But the comics give us that most important image of Wonder Woman—the one where she breaks her chains.

Isn’t it time that was on a movie poster?

Mom here again. How can I argue with my daughter when she’s right?

In the meantime in the video game land section of our home… the twins are currently obsessed with Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

 We Get to Be Mayor!

animal_crossing_new_leaf_header
Animal Crossing: New Leaf © Nintendo

The Animal Crossing games are life simulation games, all about doing everyday things in a small town. My twins have been playing them for over five years now and it’s the only video game series aside from Pokémon that’s held their attention this long.

Animal Crossing: New Leaf, released in June, is the latest installment in the Animal Crossing series.Upon downloading, I immediately turned it over to my youngest son for a review. Here’s what he had to say:

In my opinion, it has been well worth the wait. As the game opens, you (like in the original Animal Crossing) find yourself on a train with a cat named Rover. Your town name, player name, and appearance are decided depending on how you respond.

But here’s where things get changed up a bit. If this is your first resident file in your new town, you are greeted by several humanoid animal residents, or “villagers,” and they mistake you for the new mayor! References to the old games are abundant, and, hilariously, a pelican named Gulliver washes up on the shore, and after you talk to him enough, he begins spouting random references to other video games such as, “That was a fuzzy pickle.”

As you continue to play, more and more of the new features appear. One of the best is the return of the island from the original Animal Crossing. It is now called Tortimer Island (after the mayor from the previous games in the series), and Tortimer is the guide. If you earn enough Medals, you can join Club Tortimer, which is one of the major online features. A tip about that: Write down your 3DS’s friend code so you can give it to other people, because you cannot access it during an online Club Tortimer session.

Overall, this game beats any other in the series by a landslide. I highly recommend it.

My son isn’t alone.

New Leaf has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and it was the first 3DS game to hit two million in sales in Japan and it accomplished that in two months.

Now if I could just get the minions to put forth the same effort toward housecleaning as they did for this column, my summer would be easy-peasy. Instead, I’ve had to remind all four of them of this post: Top Ten Allowable Reasons for Interrupting Mom When She’s Working.

Hint: zombies, no interruptions; zombie apocalypse, yes.

Disclaimer: We received a free download of Animal Crossing: New Leaf from Nintendo.

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Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.