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Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well today. For this entry in my Tough Ladies column, I would like to briefly look at one of my favorite voice actors, and a voice actor important to all of nerd culture, Jennifer Hale.

Hale is well known for her contributions to a large number of properties, and her list of credits is immense. You’ve likely heard her voice in an animated film, cartoon series, or video game without even realizing it. Here is a video that gives a rundown of many of her voice roles as of 2008:

She is perhaps best known for voicing the female version of Commander Shepard—protagonist of the Mass Effect video game trilogy—a role affectionately referred to as FemShep by her fans. I am one of a growing group of male gamers who preferred her in this role to her male counterpart for a variety reasons, mostly due to the superiority of her performance and the fact it’s just awesome watching this gigantic science fiction epic play out with a female lead, regardless of your feelings about how it all eventually ended.

Hale has voiced notable characters in other Bioware properties before, and many gamers and/or Star Wars fans likely know her from her role as Bastila Shan, jedi sentinel, in the original Knights of the Old Republic video game.

Additionally, I recently discovered that Hale voiced the character of Carol Ferris in several episodes of the short-lived Green Lantern animated series now available for binge watching on Netflix. If you enjoyed Batman: The Animated Series or Justice League, among several others, this cartoon is by the same group of creators. It’s appropriate enough for a young audience, but with heavier themes addressed as well, much as fans have grown to expect from these properties.

I am eager to see what projects Jennifer Hale will lend her voice to next. Be sure to check out her IMDb page and to follow her on Twitter for updates. Please let me know your thoughts on this post in the comments below. How many of these characters were you already familiar with?

Were there any surprises?

Tweet me @quaintjeremy.

Addendum: To those of you who live in the same region as Diana and myself, we need to figure out a way to get Jennifer Hale to appear at the New Orleans Comic Con one year. It’s possible; we just have to get the ball rolling. Who’s with me?

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Tough Ladies #6: Some Wonder Woman News

by Jeremy DeFatta

Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well. Today, I’d like to draw your attention to a recent news announcement from DC Comics: Wonder Woman is getting another title! This will be her third series, after her main title (Wonder Woman, currently by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang) and her team-up book with the other half of DC’s current premiere power couple (Superman/Wonder Woman, currently by Charles Soule and Tony Daniel).

The new book will be called Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, which harks back to her original Golden Age title, Sensation Comics, similar to Superman’s Action Comics and Batman’s Detective Comics. This new iteration of Sensation Comics will be in a digital-first format, meaning that it will have short digital chapters released weekly with a print version collecting around three chapters released monthly. I recommend visiting comiXology to familiarize yourself with digital comics, and especially DC’s stable of digital-first titles. Wonder Woman now joins Batman and Superman (the other two members of DC’s Trinity) in having a semi-canonical digital-first series, with Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman already attracting quite a bit of attention from fans and critics alike. Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman begins in August.

I certainly hope this additional title helps to gain Wonder Woman some much-needed attention outside of the traditional comics community—the stories in this series will be mostly continuity-free and should therefore be more accessible to a wider audience. Most fans within the community love Wonder Woman and want to see more of her in DC’s ongoing film properties, but the execs heading up those projects tend not to listen to the fans overmuch.

If Thor’s presence in the Avengers and Marvel’s larger Cinematic Universe is any indication, the audiences for comic book movies will not be put off by her mythological origins. That said, I’m eagerly awaiting Gal Gadot’s performance of the character in DC’s upcoming films, the first of which will be Batman vs Superman. Here’s to hoping she gets her own film soon after. On a side note, here is a link to the first picture of Gadot on the set of Batman vs Superman.

Be sure to check out that new title toward summer’s end, but don’t forget to support your local comic shops as well. I guarantee you can find all sorts of classic Wonder Woman runs there, from George Perez and Greg Rucka, to Jodi Picoult (not joking) and Gail Simone. Let me know your thoughts on this announcement below.

Tweet me @quaintjeremy.

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Good day, everyone! It’s been awhile, but I’m back for a fourth chapter of Tough Ladies. Today, I want to focus on Mikasa Ackermann from the manga/anime Attack on Titan. I heard about Attack on Titan many months ago, but dismissed it as inaccessible (outside of piracy) until the first subtitled season appeared on Netflix awhile back. Needless to say, I binge-watched it, mesmerized by the setting and characters. Though I mostly wish to engage in some brief character analysis, I also want to extend this into a sort of comparative review in order to help foster interest in the show and the comic, the latter of which I admittedly have little experience.

I do not wish to generalize, but much of the anime available in the United States is either too edited or too awkwardly sexualized for me. Oftentimes, emotional displays in these stories are somewhat painful to watch given the differences in what is considered publicly acceptable in the West and in Japan. There are definitely exceptions, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that this is one of them. Attack on Titan is rich in character development and contains no blatant fanservice* that I’ve noticed. The creators of this property are surprisingly forward thinking in their construction of female characters, and the several protagonists of the story are very well done, especially Mikasa, upon whom I wish to focus primarily.

Mikasa is sort of the adopted sister of (arguably) the main protagonist, Eren, with whom she makes up an interesting cadre of main characters. Eren is guided almost entirely by revenge, Armin can’t fight very well but is respected for his tactical genius, and Jean starts out that incredibly arrogant and selfish guy you want to punch in the face but grow to respect as you see him confront harsh truths about himself. Mikasa, though, really steals the show. She takes up a role usually reserved for male characters in these sorts of Japanese fantasy stories—the amazingly skilled, stoic swordsman. Other characters repeatedly remark on how Mikasa is the deadliest fighter they’ve ever seen, and she commands a great deal of respect among her fellow soldiers.

One of the top selling points for this series for me is its reliance on common soldiers to tell its story. Much like the Black Company novels by Glen Cook, Attack on Titan deviates from the standard fantasy model of kings, knights, and wizards, and focuses on the experiences of average people forced to fight on the behalf of their leaders in extraordinary situations. And these characters are all so very young, perhaps tragically so, to be forced to fight to safeguard their nation, which is something that may also appeal to fans of the Hunger Games.

I’ve mentioned combat quite a bit so far, but what is it the characters have to fight? Phenomenon that it is becoming, Attack on Titan has worked its way into a variety of media. Let this Subaru ad from Japan showcase the titans themselves.

Much like the zombies in The Walking Dead, the titans are walking horrors cloaked in human shapes that are so common they have become almost a part of the environment. It is the role of soldiers like Mikasa and her friends to safeguard the last vestiges of human civilization against these gigantic monsters. Any fan of Pacific Rim may also find this detail in this series compelling. I can’t give away too much about the titans right now in this post, but suffice it to say they are not as ridiculous as they may seem at first exposure.

I hope this post has inspired a little curiosity about Attack on Titan. I hope it can be a wonderful gateway into other anime and fantasy stories for my readers. We are, after all, still a little ways off from the Game of Thrones season four premiere, and you have to get that fantasy fix somewhere. Check out the subtitled Attack on Titan on Netflix now, or wait for the English dub from Funimation to be finished. Either way, you will not be disappointed.

Let me know your thoughts below! Tweet me @quaintjeremy.

*This week’s comics (or manga) jargon lesson: fanservice. Much like the term cheesecake I mentioned on a previous post, fanservice is obviously sexualized shots of a (usually) female character in an anime or manga aimed at pleasing a (usually) heterosexual male audience. We all have great strides to make, I suppose.

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Hello, everyone! Today’s Tough Ladies post is going to be somewhat brief, with more to (hopefully) come next week. Today, I want to express respect for, and thanks to, Karen Berger.

Karen Berger-Image courtesy of The Mary Sue
Karen Berger-Image courtesy of The Mary Sue

If you don’t know the name, don’t fret—Karen Berger was the editor of DC Comics’s Vertigo imprint when it started up back in the ’80s. It was largely through her efforts that the British Invasion of American comic books occurred, effectively adding talent from across the pond to what was already present. During her time at Vertigo, she was editor on a huge number of titles—everything from Grant Morrison‘s The Invisibles to Brian K. Vaughan‘s Y: The Last Man. Were it not for her efforts, American audiences might have limited to no exposure to such writers as Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, and (believe it or not) Neil Gaiman. We would never have had such characters as John Constantine (of Hellblazer) or Dream (of Sandman).

Let me know your thoughts below. Give Karen Berger a follow on Twitter. Look up her work at your local comic shops. Go forth and enjoy!

Tweet me @quaintjeremy.