FlameCon’s ‘Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ Panel

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I attended (and loved) NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks. For more about FlameCon read my recap and check out the amazing cosplay.

My favorite panel at Flamecon was Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture. It was moderated by Charles Battersby (Astonishing Adventures) and the panelist included Jennie Wood (Flutter), Lawrence Gullo (Baritaria), P. Kristen Enos (Web of Lives) and Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics, Marvel and Boom).

Transgender Narrative

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Transgender narrative was a big part of the discussion. It’s to no surprise that the further a character is from being heterosexual, cisgender and white, the more they are misrepresented… if they are represented at all. A common and inaccurate transgender narrative is, “I am a man, what if I wanted to be a woman?” Lawrence Gullo suggested the following narrative instead, “I am a woman, what if no one believed me and I had to prove it to people my entire life.”

Sci-Fi & Gender

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Science Fiction is known to use aliens and androids as representations of LGBTQIA people instead of actual humans. This not only suggests that the creator views those groups as “The Other,” either subconsciously or consciously, but it also reinforces negative stereotypes about LGBTQIA people. Gullo suggests a way to combat this as a SF creator is to make humans LGBTQIA and gender fluid as well, not just the aliens.

Creators should also stop assigning gender to androids, especially self-aware ones. When you really think about it, it’s completely unnecessary, inaccurate and almost always reinforces gender stereotypes. Assuming that AI would have the same gender notions as humans is more than presumptuous, it’s pretty egotistical.

Positive Trans Media

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

The panel wasn’t only about the negative media representations of trans people. Steven Universe, Dragon Age: Inquisitions, and Saints Row 3 were all praised for being positive trans media.

  • Dragon Age: Inquisitions ran their script for a transgender character, Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi, by trans people and changed it based off their input.
  • Gullo shared an anecdote about his transgender friend who cried when she saw Stevonnie in Steven Universe because she identified with them. Although Stevonnie doesn’t have a gender and Garnet described their fusion as “a conversation”, the character has resonated strongly with genderfluid and trans people. 
  • In Saints Row 3, you can have a male voice actor for a female body and even go to a surgeon and change your sex at any point in the game. It’s completely up to the player.

When In Doubt, Ask

Dragon Age Inquisitions's Cremisius "Krem" Acclasi

Dragon Age Inquisitions’s Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi

Some advice if you’re a cisgender creator nervous about inadvertently misrepresenting a transgender character: When in doubt, ask. It isn’t a creator’s responsibility to make their work diverse, but it is responsible. Jennie Wood summed it up best, “We just want to see ourselves.”

The Steven Universe Gems and their Metaphysical Properties

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It was midnight and I was in bed thinking about Steven Universe, as one does, and I began to wonder if there was a connection between the Gems in SU and the metaphysical properties of gemstones. I know I’m not the first fan to think of this, in fact, the Steven Universe Wikia lists Gem properties at the bottom of their profiles and makes note of any similarities. However, after digging deeper (he he) I noticed there are more connections than they mentioned.

I’m not very knowledgable in “healing gems” and I don’t necessarily believe/not believe in their powers, but I found the connection between the Gems and their properties fascinating. So fascinating that I wanted to research all of the Gems and their corresponding properties. Are some of these connections reaches? Maybe. But some are too strong to be a coincidence and I’m sure Rebecca Sugar and her team did this on purpose.

Disclaimers:

  • There will be Steven Universe spoilers in this post, especially about fusions.
  • I am not an expert or even very knowledgable in alternative medicine or crystal/gem properties.
  • The healing crystal meanings and properties are not prescriptions or healthcare information.
  • The metaphysical properties I’ve listed aren’t comprehensive, I included the properties I found relevant to the character.
  • The gem research found in this post came from Fire Mountain Gems, Best Crystals, Crystals and Jewelry, Healing Crystals for You, Healing Crystals and Steven Universe Wikia.

Singular Gems

Rose Quartz (Rose and Steven Universe)

Connection: Strong

Rose quartz is associated with all types of love, compassion and self-esteem; you can clearly see these qualities in both Rose and Steven. I also discovered that rose quartz is believed to help people develop strong friendships which made me immediately think of Steven and Connie’s friendship. They fused into Stevonie for Christ sake, friendship doesn’t get much stronger than that!

Rose quartz also carries energies of forgiveness and tolerance, enabling us to see the good in both ourselves and others. Steven embodies these qualities tenfold. He’s always the one to see the good in people, especially when it’s hard for others to see it, as he did with Centipeetle, Lapis Lazuli and Peridot.

The most interesting point I found was that rose quartz is helpful for dream recall and dream work. If you remember in the “Chille Tid” episode, Steven dreamt about Lapis Lazuli and was able to communicate with her in his dream.

Pearl

Connection: Moderate

Pearl is like a mother-figure to Steven (in addition to Garnet) and the inner glow of pearls is thought to tap nurture love. I also read that Pearls promote loyalty and no one can deny Pearl’s obsessive loyalty to Rose.

Amethyst

Connection: Moderate

The connection with Amethyst is an ironic one. Amethyst is known to be a stone of peace, sobriety and stability; which are words no one would use to describe the character. Amethyst stones are usually associated with the Greek/Roman god Dionysus/Bacchus, god of wine and intoxication. At first thought, this seems to answer why Amethyst is so impulsive and self-indulgent. However, the connection to the wine god is that amethysts actually symbolize sobriety. They were even carved into wine goblets to prevent drunkenness.

Looking at this information from a different angle, these qualities could be what Amethyst is striving for. We know her kindergarten origin is something that brings her shame and sadness. Amethyst is also the youngest of the Crystal Gems which accounts for some of her immaturity. She has a lot of growing to do, literally and figuratively. Perhaps when Amethyst is able to conquer her inner demons and mature a bit, she’ll be able to find some inner peace and stability.

Ruby

Connection: Strong

Ruby, Sapphire and Garnet have my favorite connections. Rubies and sapphires are closely related, having corundum as their base mineral. The iron pigment in the corundum makes sapphire blue, while the chrome element in rubies makes them red. The fact the Ruby and Sapphire are the Gems in a relationship is no coincidence.

Ruby is a gemstone of emotion, often associated with passion, strength and anger. We see these traits in Ruby’s emotional temperaments and overall emotional (and angry) attitude. She’s small but mighty, which we see when she shakes her cell and lifts Sapphire. Rubies have also been used to increase passion and romantic love which we see in Ruby’s love for Sapphire.

Sapphire

Connection: Strong

As you read in Ruby’s section, sapphires and rubies are related. Corundum is their base mineral and the iron pigment in the corundum makes sapphire blue, while the chrome element in rubies makes them red.

Sapphires were thought to dispel evil thoughts and to bring peace and amiability to its wearer, sort of in the same way she (literally) cools down Ruby.

Sapphire is a gemstone associated with intuition, clairvoyance, foreknowledge and wisdom. These are all attributes we see in both Sapphire and Garnet’s “Future Sight” ability.

Another testament to Ruby and Sapphire’s love is that sapphire is known as the stone of new love and commitment and is claimed to be useful in encouraging faithfulness and loyalty. What encourages faithfulness and loyalty more than fusion?

Lapis Lazuli

Connection: Strong

What I found most interesting about the stone lapis lazuli, is that it’s said to help create and maintain a connection between the physical and celestial planes. This instantly made me think of the episode “Mirror Gem” where we first meet Lapis. She was able to communicate to Steven who was in the “physical world” while she was trapped in the mirror.

Lapis lazuli is also known as a protection stone. She’s committed to protecting everyone by staying fused as Malachite in order to prevent Jasper from escaping or gaining control of Malachite.

Peridot

Connection: Moderate

Peridot the gemstone is associated with good luck, peace, and success. But in the show, Peridot has bad luck, fails often and is violent with the Crystal Gems.

The coolest fact I found about Peridot is that the stone is not only terrestrial, but it has also fallen to Earth from meteorites. Although she’s not the only Gem to pilot a space craft, she’s the predominant Gem in Steven Universe to do so.

Jasper

Connection: Weak/Unknown

We don’t know much about Jasper except that she has a temper and is prone to violence. The stone is known to bring balance, comfort, relaxation, grounding, protection. None of these seem to match with the character, but perhaps when we learn more about her, we’ll find some similarities.

Gem Fusions

Garnet (Ruby and Sapphire)

Connection: Strong

The connection between the stone and character are as strong as Ruby and Sapphire’s love. Garnet is known for love, loyalty, stability and commitment which is basically the embodiment of the Gem fusion. Garnets are also gemstones associated with strength, bravery, determination and self-confidence which are all characteristics that fit Garnet’s personality.

It’s also said to bring order to chaos whether internal or external. It’s clear that Sapphire and Ruby balance each others temperaments and the fusion Garnet is a blend of just that. On the external side of that, Garnet is the leader of the Crystal Gems and is the one who typically keeps the group in order. Another cool fact is that Garnet is not a single mineral, but a group containing closely related, isomorphous minerals that form a series with each other, which fits with the fact that she a fusion of two Gems. My favorite connection is that garnet symbolizes a quick return to a separated love. I mean, come on, how sweet is that?!

Opal (Pearl and Amethyst)

Connection: Weak/Unknown

Opal is known for sparking intuition, personal power and removes fear. Opal is also a stone of inspiration which enhances imagination and creativity. Because we don’t know much about Opal, it’s difficult to tell what connection there is between the fusion and the stone.

Sugilite (Garnet and Amethyst)

Connection: Moderate

Although all we really know about Sugilite is that she’s a powerful and uncontrollable fusion, there are some interesting correlations I found. Sugilite is associated with the resolution of existential problems, self-awareness, incarnation and identity which could be why she’s always so reluctance to unfuse. 

Sugilite is also known to alleviate negative/destructive emotions and improve confidence. It lowers hostility, anger, jealousy and prejudice and gives a sense of freedom. These all seem like polarizing characteristic of Sugilite the character, but perhaps the fact that Sugilite is uncontrollable and impulsive eases those feelings in Garnet and Amethyst; because they can use Sugilite to get those feelings out of their system.

Sardonyx (Garnet and Pearl)

Connection: Moderate

Even though we only just met Sardonyx in the “Cry for Help” episode, there are some similarities I found in the fusion and stone. Sardonyx is known for amplifying charisma, and although Amethyst might not agree, Sardonyx does have strong charisma.

Sardonyx embodies a vibration of happiness, optimism and confidence which we see in her personality in just one episode. The gem also helps to boost your self-control and your level of personal power. The main reason Sardonyx was fused in “Cry for Help” was because Sugilite was uncontrollable and they needed a powerful fusion they could control to destroy the Communication Hub.

Alexandrite (Garnet, Pearl and Amethyst)

Connection: Weak/Unknown

The only connection I found was that alexandrite is a stone of courage, allowing one to face change with no fears. Since Alexandrite is a fusion of Garnet, Pearl and Amethyst, I could see it being used in dire circumstances; hence, the courage aspect.

Rainbow Quartz (Rose Quartz and Pearl)

Connection: Weak/Unknown

The stone is associated with hope, optimism, communication, meditation and healing. We don’t know much about Rainbow Quartz, she hasn’t even spoken yet, so I can’t find a lot of similarities. However, the healing aspect could be connected to the Rose Quartz part of the fusion.

Malachite (Jasper and Lapis Lazuli)

Connection: Strong

Malachite has a strong connection in a unique way. It is known as the “stone of transformation” because it helps reveal and heal emotional pain by absorbing the pain into itself. It also tends to draw negative energy and disharmony into itself. Lapis Lazuli fuses with Jasper as a way to control Jasper and protect everyone. We see in the episode “Chille Tid” that she’s constantly fighting to stay fused as Malachite in order to control Jasper. The negative energy and disharmony going on inside of Malachite is clear to the viewers.

Thoughts on the gems and the similarities in their properties, or just wanna gush about your love for Steven Universe? Comment below! 

Dernier Bar: The Geek Bar at the End of the World

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Back in February I spent Valentine’s Day weekend with my boyfriend and parents in Paris, the city of love… and geeks. If you’re a comic book fan, I’m sure you’ve heard of the amazing comics, artists and creators that have came out of France. The city is filled with comic book shops and you may have heard of, Angoulême International Comics Festival, a huge comic con France throws every year. With that being said, it should come to no surprise that in the heart of Paris you’ll find a very geeky (and awesome) bar called, Le Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde (The Last Bar Before the End of the World).

I heard about Dernier Bar from Geek-Art.net. I follow their site and remembered that they post about a lot of geeky exhibits in Paris. I emailed them asking if they had a gallery or shop in Paris and, although they don’t, Thomas from Geek-Art was nice enough to recommend I visit Dernier Bar while I’m out there. If it weren’t for Thomas I would have never known about the place!

I went to Dernier Bar on a Saturday night and it was packed, which is saying a lot since it has three floors. I kept saying how cool everything was the entire time… I must have been so annoying. Now it’s your turn to say “OMGSOCOOL” as you check out these photos of Dernier Bar. Needless to say, if you’re in Paris you absolutely have to go.

Steampunkish Top Floor

Lovecraft Corner on the Top Floor

The Menu

Apologies for the wrinkles.

Space Ship-Themed Bottom Floor

Bathroom Signs

Science Fiction- Themed Basement Floor

Pirate Ship & Game of Thrones-Themed Basement Floor (the other side)

NYCC 2014: Cosplay Roundup

Every year I attend New York Comic Con more and more fans cosplay. It’s tough picking favorites but the ones that made me squee the most were Death from East of West and Steven Universe and his mom as Garnet. Oh and here’s my post about my Sailor Moon (aka Sailor Goon), Space Dandy and Spike Spiegel cosplay.

Anime/Manga

Comics

Movies & TV & Video Games & Podcasts

 

NYCC 2014: Women of Color in Comics

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I was on a panel at New York Comic Con. I still can’t believe it happened. It has always been a secret dream of mine ever since I did my first panel about Women in Comics last year. Coincidentally enough, the same person who ran my first panel, Regine L. Sawyer, asked me to be on the NYCC panel. So everything has come full circle. I immediately said yes of course because it was the opportunity of a lifetime. But right after I said yes, the nerves hit me. I’m not used to a lot of irl attention because what I do (blog) lives on the Internet. So when I get asked to be on panels I’m always very excited and grateful and extremely nervous. NYCC was the most nervous I’ve ever been. I literally thought I was going to throw up. I tried to calm down by telling myself that it’s just my opinions, there’s no right or wrong answer. I’m not giving a dissertation on metaphysics. I’m talking about what I know, which is comics, women and race.
Sonic Eclectic39 8.43.42 AMThe panel was called Women of Color in Comics: Race, Gender and the Comic Book MediumIt was moderated by Regine L. Sawyer of Lockett Down Productions and the panelist included artist Alice Meichi Li, comic book artist Alitha Martinez, writer and cartoonist Barbara Brandon-Croft, cosplayer Geisha Vi, writer Juliana ‘Jewels’ Smith, writer and actor Vanessa Verduga and myself. I didn’t throw up so as far as that goes the panel was a success. But aside from the low bar I set for myself, the panel actually was a huge success. The room was almost filled to capacity, I heard there were over 700 people in attendance.

The description of the panel was, “Diversity. Women in Comics. Both subjects are hot button topics in the comic book industry. However, it isn’t often that both issues collide…” In all of my years attending NYCC, I’ve noticed a lack of people of color focused panels and PoC on panels in general. Despite the fact that NYC is probably the most culturally diverse city on the planet and the NYCC crowd reflects that. As the years went on there were more “The Women of ____” panels, but those panels often lacked women of color. So a panel like ‘Women of Color in Comics’ is something that’s not only necessary but should be regarded as essential.

The very existence of the panel showed two things, the growth of WoC comic fans and creators, but also the need for more representation and accurate representation in comics. Because we all know there’s a lot of misrepresentation of women in comics, but a majority of those women are white. So, we (WoC) are barely in comics to be apart of that misrepresentation. We have not only sexism to fight, but racism as well. This is especially important in regards to science fiction. Sci-fi often depicts worlds that are supposed to be our actual future, and if people of color are not there then they’re writing us out. They wrote us out of the past and now they’re writing us out of the future. I want women and men to understand that equality includes everybody. You can’t ignore the needs of women of color and call it feminism. 

The importance of diversity in comics should be an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t understand its significance. When a person doesn’t see characters that look like them, they begin to feel like they don’t belong. Young girls of color may stop reading comics because they feel like it isn’t for them, which stops them from becoming creators in the future. It’s cyclical. I do believe it’s important for creators of all backgrounds, straight white men included, to be responsible and make sure their stories are as diverse as their readers and the world. However, I think it’s much more important for people of color to create the stories we want to see. We shouldn’t wait for change we should make it.

The most important takeaway was what we can do to make the comic book industry a more diverse one. Coming from a fan’s perspective there are two things that are essential to promoting change and that’s using your voice and your money. Support diverse mainstream creators and comics and diverse indie creators and comics. The fact that there are so many young women who are reading comics now proves that our voice is bigger. We can affect change in the industry because we’re becoming such a large percentage of it. Use your voice to promote these diverse stories, characters and creators whether it’s in person or online. If you’re a creator, don’t be discouraged by the current climate of the industry. It will be tough to break into mainstream comics as a woman of color, but one of the best ways to make sure change in mainstream comics is to be apart it.

Forty-five minutes flew by and it wasn’t nearly enough time to cover everything about women of color in comics, but it was a start. Although the panel was over, the conversation doesn’t have to end. Blog, tweet, post, talk about these issues to help promote diversity.

Shout out to Mass AppealPC Mag (twice) and Flavorwire and Indiewire for covering the Women of Color in Comics panel.

 

 

Harajuku Fashion Walk

Photo by FMAPhotoStudio

Photo by FMAPhotoStudio

My friend Imani (she tattooed me!) hit me up a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to go to a Harajuku Fashion Walk in NYC. I immediately said yes, or more likely I said “YASSS!”. A few days later I started to freak out about what to wear. I have my one Lolita coord, but those pictures are all over the internet so I wanted to wear something new. Despite being into Japanese street fashion, I didn’t think I actually owned a Harajuku’ish outfit.

Of course, in typical Jamila fashion I didn’t plan my outfit until the night before (oops!). Thankfully I had Imani as my Harajuku Fairy Godmother. I texted her pictures of all of the cool and kawaii clothes and accessories I owned. In the end, we ended up with a coord I was really happy with. I felt like it was still very “me” and very Harajuku as well. I didn’t feel like I was trying to hard which is what mattered the most. With the help of my Harajuku Fairy Godmother, I discovered I’ve always had some Japanese street style in me!

My Coord

It’s a little Fairy Kei at the top and little punk and goth at the bottom; so together it’s kind of pastel goth, which is a look I’ve always wanted to rock. My Shoujo Manga/Anime Eyes shirt I got from The Kawaii Machine on Etsy. (Along with a Kawaii Titan shirt.)

My Beetlejuice leggings I got a few years ago at some random store here in NYC. There’s no tag so I don’t even know the brand haha! But I’m sure you can find them online or in a store near you.

I wore Doc Martens and the lightening bolt shoe accessory I got from my last Lootcrate! They’re called Shwings and I’m sure they’re available in shoe stores. (Get 10% off Lootcrate with the code: GIRLGONELOOT.)

Accessories & Makeup

My Purple Easter Bunny Headband is from Deadly Cherries on Etsy. She makes gorgeous headbands perfect for Lolita, Mori, Dolly, Goth and Pastel Goth styles. My coveted Barbie shoe bracelet I got way back in 2009 from the now non-existent Bizzare Design Etsy store. My Gun Earrings and Necklace are from Girl Props and my super cute Iridescent Pink Heart Ring is from Black Tulip Shop on Etsy. My Black 8-bit Heart Ring I found in a thrift store in Brooklyn. Imani let me borrow her Black Glitter Bow Ring and Eyeball Hair Bow.

My Harajuku Fairy Godmother suggested I try Cult Party Kei makeup. It was the first time I tried this style and I LOVED it. I applied blush above my cheeks so it was basically under my eyes and at the corner/sides of my eyes. It’s a really pretty look I plan to use more often when I go out. I used my Lolita makeup tricks for my eyes to make them seem larger and hopefully more kawaii.

Japanese Street Style

We arrived at the Lincoln Center fountain an hour early but thankfully we weren’t the only ones. They had some Fashion Week’s shows at Lincoln Center so the square was filled with people. There were tons of photographers just scoping the scene for fashionable people to take photos of.

When we arrived we instantly spotted some Sweet Lolitas (since they are pretty easy to spot). As more and more people arrived for the meetup, more and more photographers flocked to our area to take pictures of us. Some people thought we were in costume so we had to explain this was a Japanese Street Fashion meetup.

The Harajuku Fashion Walk

As you can see from the photos, dozens of people came out for the meetup. The styles included Lolitas, Punk, Goth, Mori Girl, Visual Kei, Fairy Kei, Gyaru, Decora, Cult Party Kei, Dolly Kei and more. We took photos, chatted, made new friends and exchanged contact info for over an hour. Then we walked from Lincoln Center to the Red Steps at Time Square (about 16 blocks) for one big photo shoot.

Overall I had a lot of fun and would totally do this again. These kinds of Harajuku Fashion Walks and meetups happen all over the world! Search the internet and Facebook for groups and events in your area.

Geek Girl Brunch Judges the Wasabassco Burlesque Costume Contest

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Ma’at, Techno Babble & Bella Blackheart [Photo by Hyuk E Kim]

The Geek Girl Brunch co-founders we’re asked to judge the Wasabassco Burlesque SUPER! Heroes vs Villains costume contest back in May. After we were done freaking out about how excited we were, we started freaking out about what we were going to wear. 

To enter the contest the contestants had to create original characters. So you know what that meant, as judges we just HAD to create our own original characters. We had a very long email thread going between the three of us full of Etsy links and partial back stories. In the end, Bella Blackheart, Techno Babble and Ma’at, The Scribe were born… and cosplayed. 

Bella Blackheart 

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Origin Story: Bella is the daughter of a human woman and Shango, the African god of fire, lightning and thunder. Her mother died giving birth to her and she was raised by her father in the realm of the gods. Her father’s three wives, the goddesses Oshun, Oya and Oba, loathed Bella. She was a living reminder that their husband fell in love with a human woman.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThroughout her childhood, the wives tried to have dangerous “accidents” befall Bella, but her father, Shango, always protected her. After 16 years of living with Bella, the wives could not stand it anymore. One night they tried to kill Bella in her sleep. But, as they discovered, killing the daughter of a god isn’t easy. So instead of losing her life, she lost an eye. 

Bella escaped to the mortal world and took up residence in a small ghost town in the American West called Blackheart. Bella lived alone in the town for years, only venturing out to neighboring towns to get supplies and food. One day, a roaming group of assassins came to Blackheart and attempted to take over the town for themselves, but Bella wouldn’t have that. After a fierce battle Bella came out victorious. Impressed with her skills, the surviving assassins asked her to join them. Bella, being tired of the solitary life, accepted their offer. Over time, she became their leader and they became known as The Blackhearts, the most infamous band of assassins in the Americas.

Character Design: It all started with the eyepatch. I knew, whoever my character would eventually become, she would have an eyepatch. Because just like bow ties, eye patches are cool. I wanted her to look badass, mysterious and someone you wouldn’t want to fuck with. 

Bella’s overall costume design was inspired by Elle from Kill Bill, Ginny from Pretty Deadly and Death from East of West. I’ve never really been a fan of Westerns, but the comics Pretty Deadly and East of West sparked a love for the genre and the aesthetic.

Rachel as Techno Babble

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She’s a doomsprite that works for the super villain The Viral Menace. She travels via viral thought, loves meme culture and has the ability to screw with your tech just enough that it doesn’t work but not enough to look like it is broken.

Yissel as Ma’at, The Scribe

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Formerly Egypt’s personification of truth and justice, with scribes of her own. She’s been living among us for centuries in search of her stolen wings. All that she has of them is a single plume with which she writes events into existence, prepared to suffer the cost of her powers.