Image taken from https://www.insider.com/avengers-endgame-why-black-widows-hair-changes-2019-3

The Appeal of Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame

I’m genuinely confused by a lot of the online reaction to Natasha Romanov in this film. I loved her performance; I felt she exuded nothing but strength. Some armchair critics have decided, however, that the character was “fridged,” and that her death was ultimately meaningless. 

First off, the concept of “fridging” a woman in comic book properties refers back to the death of Alexandra Dewitt, an early girlfriend of fourth human Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. The 90s were a weird time in comics, and in this instance they saw a weird, body-suited, genital-less government villain called Major Force wanting to get back at Kyle Rayner by going to Rayner’s apartment and killing Alexandra Dewitt and stuffing her body into his refrigerator. You following so far? Good, because this story was bizarre. Basically, when the term is used now, people want to say a female character has been murdered just to motivate male characters. I really do not see Black Widow’s noble sacrifice in this light.

In Avengers: Endgame, we are shown that Natasha has effectively become leader of the Avengers (whatever form existed at that point) during the period after the Snap, and unused or unfilmed threads also refer to her personally caring for vast numbers of children orphaned by the Snap. She is kind, she is thoughtful as she pushes her uneaten sandwich to Steve Rogers when he comes to visit, and she continues to do her best to keep what’s left of the world safe. This is how I’ve always seen her, and her positive, heroic traits are only enhanced as the film goes on.

Natasha’s sacrifice for the soul stone came down to a 50/50 chance between her and Hawkeye. They were each other’s best friend and closest family left in the world, and either one dying for the other would be a suitable loss to acquire the stone. Additionally, either one of them would also be giving up a chance at seeing the rest of their families return. I feel that Natasha being the one to make the final plunge adds even more strength and respectability to her character. I just can’t see any negatives. Her sacrifice secured ultimate victory.

Either way, in the comics there is an entire universe inside the soul stone. I like to think that Natasha and Gamora both are somehow in that world, and that it endures even with the stone destroyed, if that one truly can be. Black Widow has a solo movie coming up soon, and that will likely either play into this idea, or be an origin movie that finally explains all those Budapest references.

What do you think? Let me know! I’m always eager to converse on these topics.

 

If you’re a fan of books and hot beverages, check us out at Blue Spider Books. And check out our blog here!

Image taken from Pixabay @ https://pixabay.com/photos/comics-comicshop-superhero-read-495258/

My Favorite Comic Book Series, 2000-2012 Part 1: Marvel

A disclaimer, since I have had to address silly complaints on posts like this before: What I am saying here is that these comics are my personal favorites from this era. I am NOT saying they are objectively the greatest comics of this era. Loosen up and enjoy! 

 

Part 1: Marvel Comics

Image of the cover to Vol. 1 of The New Avengers taken from My Comic Shop
Image of the cover to Vol. 1 of The New Avengers taken from My Comic Shop

The New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis and various artists

This is what made Bendis’s name at Marvel, and this coupled with his runs on Daredevil and related books from the same era likely represent the peak of his comic book work. This book also helped get me back into comics in college after I’d been off the wagon for a short time.

Image of Astonishing X-men Vol. 1 taken from Goodreads
Image of Astonishing X-men Vol. 1 taken from Goodreads

Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

This comic was a treat, and precedes Whedon’s involvement in The Avengers film by years. It’s sad to think what could have been done if Whedon had had the ability to work with these characters on film as well. I already enjoyed Whedon’s work (Buffy and Firefly, anyone?), so his involvement with another of my favorite properties cinched it for me.

Image of Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1 taken from Goodreads.
Image of Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1 taken from Goodreads

Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña

When this title was around with Remender at the helm, it was the single best book Marvel was putting out. The choice of cast was spot-on, and they were all handled so very well. In particular, this includes enjoyable versions of both Wolverine and Deadpool, if for any reason you find either character tough to read.

 

Image of The Amazing Spider-man Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski taken from Goodreads.
Image of The Amazing Spider-man Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski taken from Goodreads.

The Amazing Spider-man by J. Michael Straczynksi and various artists

Everybody has a favorite Spider-man storyline/writer, and this one is mine. I’ve read other stuff over the years (the more recent Superior Spider-man being a standout honorable mention), but the full scope of Straczynski’s work on the character and then having all of that undone by a single editorial decision at Marvel grant this period a mythic quality.

 

Image of The Ultimates Vol. 1 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch taken from Goodreads.
Image of The Ultimates Vol. 1 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch taken from Goodreads.

 

The Ultimates and The Ultimates II by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch

These comics set in a now-dead universe hold a special place in my heart. They provided a well-crafted, action-packed Avengers story in an era that needed it, and it actually held some narrative surprises given the freedoms the Ultimate line afforded. I tell you, these comics had some of the best moments of the entire era, and they accomplished two great feats: 1. They made Captain America a powerhouse badass again, and 2. They presented some ideas that would later be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such as Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson. Find these and read them if you never have.

 

Some honorable mentions (besides those mentioned in the post) would include Greg Pak’s run on The Incredible Hulk, Straczynski’s run on Thor, and Fabian Nicieza’s Cable & Deadpool. 

 

If you’re a fan of books and hot beverages, check us out at Blue Spider Books. And check out our blog here!

Image of Captain America's shield taken from Pixabay.

The Appeal of Captain America in Avengers: Endgame

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead! Beware all ye who enter here!

 

Image of Captain America taken from Pixabay.
Image taken from Pixabay.

Good day, everyone! In keeping with my previous post, I want to look at another Endgame character. Not to worry; don’t assume there we won’t be more of these, or that I won’t touch on other characters. I just wanted to address my own personal favorite Avengers first off.

I’ve always felt a strong connection to Steve Rogers, perhaps because the character is supposed to have been born around 1917, the same year as my grandfather who fought in World War II. As an interesting side note, my grandfather fought in Patton’s 3rd Army, just like Jack Kirby. I like to think they may have known each other.

Additionally, I have always appreciated the idea that Cap is the conscience, even the moral compass, of the Marvel Universe. If he is strongly opposed to something or someone, it usually the means the author of the ongoing story intends readers to cast a more critical eye on the opposition.

All of that aside, Cap’s arc in Endgame was satisfying and highly enjoyable for me. Still seen as the leader of the Avengers, as he always was, Cap leads the team-turned-army through the convoluted, but ultimately successful, Time Heist and the final battle against Thanos and his force of planet killers. I could not have derived more joy from his rematch with Thanos, and I literally whooped in the movie theater when Cap wielded Mjolnir against him. That, and the moment every Marvel fan has awaited for years: “Avengers assemble!” That made it all worth it.

Again, considering I sort of see Cap as my idealized fictional grandfather, I loved that he was able to slip off from his time mission at the end of the film to live a full life with Peggy Carter, have children, and grow old. Being as we’ve fully entered the Game of Thrones era of storytelling in movies and television, it was actually refreshing to see a satisfying, rather than ironic or tongue-in-cheek, happy ending for a character. I think the old soldier deserved it.

Thank you all for stopping by! Which Endgame character should I address next? Let me know in the comments below!

 

If you’re a fan of books and hot beverages, check us out at Blue Spider Books. And check out our blog here!

Image of Stormbreaker taken from Pixabay @ https://pixabay.com/vectors/thor-strome-strome-breaker-3880079/

The Appeal of Thor in Avengers: Endgame

Needless to say, SPOILERS AHEAD!

Image of Thor in Avengers: Endgame taken from Slash Film.
Image of Thor in Avengers: Endgame taken from Slash Film.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the story arcs of pretty much every one of the core six Avengers in Endgame, with Thor near the top of that puppy pile. I, for one, really enjoyed and sympathized with how Thor was presented. Not only that, I actually appreciated having a fat version of the character that I could identify with, as silly as that may sound.

We start off the movie not long after Infinity War, and Thor is grieving. He’s mournful over his failure and wants another shot at Thanos, which he gets. But it doesn’t matter; nothing can be undone. Fast forward the five years, and Thor is basically hiding from life and this immense failure that he has completely saddled himself with. He has fallen into alcoholism and overeating, and put on quite a bit of weight. He doesn’t seem to care at all about his appearance anymore, and even gains a comparison to the Dude from The Big Lebowski. But he still reluctantly goes along with the insane time heist mission.

And this is where everything turns around. First off, he gets a pep talk from his perceptive, super-powerful witch mother in the past, which is just what he needs to hear to ground himself. But he then also reaches out for Mjolnir, and it responds to him. All at once, tears still in his eyes, he sees that he is still worthy of it. All that has transpired, all the emotional and psychological weight that burdens him more than his physical girth, has made him no less worthy of his original weapon. And some of the fault he feels evaporates as well as he readies himself for battle.

I understand this version of Thor best of all of the different ways he has been presented across the MCU, and I am eager to see what comes next for him. I know he will lose the weight and likely travel with the Guardians of the Galaxy for awhile, which will also be awesome. And if Thor can overcome these things and drop some weight along the way, perhaps we can all face what assails us.

What do you think?

If you’re a fan of books and hot beverages, check us out at Blue Spider Books. And check out our blog here!

A Glimpse of the Future

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do with this blog now that I’ve come back to it, and I have come up with three ideas I would enjoy that fit the theme of this, my thought collection.

First off, I want to start a new weekly column on par with my old Batman column over at Sourcerer. I’m thinking of doing cosmic characters from Marvel, especially the obscure ones, now that that side of the franchise is gaining traction in the movie universe. Who would be up for reading about a different cosmic Marvel character each week?

marvel-1641554_960_720
Image taken from Pixabay @ https://pixabay.com/photos/marvel-comics-cartoon-entertainment-1641554/

Second, I want to do a series of shorter, periodic posts on fictional characters exploring their appeal. This can run an endless gamut of any sort of fictional character; effectively, my mood that day will dictate who I decide to write about. These will also only run a maximum of a few short paragraphs.

painting-3995999_960_720
Image taken from Pixabay @ https://pixabay.com/illustrations/painting-knight-night-oil-paints-3995999/

Third, I’ll continue with random short short posts of my thoughts in the moment. I feel like some of my sort-of Tweet-length thoughts might gain greater expression here. We’ll keep trying that out.

woman-1446557_960_720
Image taken from Pixabay @ https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-face-thoughts-media-head-1446557/

Expect to see me get these off the ground this week and next week. I’ll keep to a pretty rigid publication schedule once I get back into the swing of things and knock all the rust off.

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to keep coming back!

 

If you’re a fan of books and hot beverages, check us out at Blue Spider Books. And check out our blog here!

Worthy Cause Wednesday: Bill Mantlo

I’m sure a lot of people who keep up with comics news are familiar with Bill Mantlo, the co-creator of Rocket Raccoon who has been hospitalized since a 1992 hit-and-run left him severely brain-damaged, but still present. There was some concern prior to the release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie that Mantlo would receive little from Marvel despite the nearly assured success of the film, but it appears that Marvel has made several gestures of late to assuage that fear. Either way, it is clear that Mantlo’s care is an expensive, ongoing process that does put some strain on his loved ones.

There have been a few charitable sites set up to collect donations for Mantlo’s care, one of the more prominent ones being an effort by fellow comics writer Greg Pak. I would urge any of you who enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, or just Rocket Raccoon for that matter, and who are financially capable to simply research this case and consider a donation if you feel moved to do so.

Image of Rocket Raccoon taken from http://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RocketRaccoon.jpg
Image of Rocket Raccoon taken from http://www.wired.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/RocketRaccoon.jpg

There have been many comics industry writers and artists like Bill Mantlo who have led difficult lives of pain or poverty because of ambiguous stipulations in their contracts or the fact that they relinquished their rights to their own intellectual properties out of desperate need for pay. I am not pointing any fingers or calling the comics industry itself a bad guy, but it is worth knowing that there are many people out there who lent their creative blood and sweat to creating the superheroes we love who have relatively little to show for it. And what would our superheroes have us do at a time like this? Let it be said we care for our own.

Image taken from http://media.lifehealthpro.com/lifehealthpro/article/2011/11/03/art_Mantlo1.jpg
Image taken from http://media.lifehealthpro.com/lifehealthpro/article/2011/11/03/art_Mantlo1.jpg

I hope to donate some myself when I am able. Keep Bill Mantlo in your thoughts when you go see Guardians of the Galaxy, and check out The Bill Mantlo Project on Facebook.

Thoughts – 8-4-14

Guardians of the Galaxy Free Comic Book Day cover courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://cltampa.com/imager/free-comic-book-day-welcomes-coliseum-of-comics-to-the-area-and-more/b/original/4555912/ed99/newGuardiansFCBD.jpg
Guardians of the Galaxy Free Comic Book Day cover courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://cltampa.com/imager/free-comic-book-day-welcomes-coliseum-of-comics-to-the-area-and-more/b/original/4555912/ed99/newGuardiansFCBD.jpg

Continuing from my thought on Friday, I give Guardians of the Galaxy all of the thumbs up. I’d say it’s probably my third favorite Marvel movie at this point, after The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What did those of you who were able to see it this weekend think of it? Let me know in the comments below. (And let’s try to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen it.)

Thoughts – 8-1-14

Poster image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://1.media.dorkly.cvcdn.com/26/95/18b149286ca6f2920e017bd5d2ffcbf5.jpg
Poster image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://1.media.dorkly.cvcdn.com/26/95/18b149286ca6f2920e017bd5d2ffcbf5.jpg

Who else is excited about Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend? I think I’m going to see it tonight. When are all of you going?

If you haven’t already, check out a post I did at Sourcerer awhile back that contains suggestions for further reading to acquaint you with the characters.

Enjoy!

So, Thor is a Woman Now?

To be honest, I'm surprised nobody has complained about this boob armor yet. Art by Esad Ribic. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://aggressivecomix.com/2014/07/thor-is-a-woman-now-marvel-announces/
To be honest, I’m surprised nobody has complained about this boob armor yet. Art by Esad Ribic. Image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://aggressivecomix.com/2014/07/thor-is-a-woman-now-marvel-announces/

As many of you likely already know, Marvel announced out of nowhere that Thor is going to now be a woman. I by no means believe this is a permanent change, but I do want to talk about it and what it means, here in my first improvised post in my new column at the Thoughts.

While I am in favor of increasing and improving diversity in comics and all media, constantly switching the identities of and replacing characters is not the way to do it. There are a lot more examples of this that I will return to, but for now the matter at hand.

To truly begin, why? Why make this change? Who is this character? Someone new? Angela? One of Thor’s future granddaughters?

Have we given up on Sif? Valkyrie? Even Dani Moonstar (a Native American mutant) when she became one of Hela’s Valkyries? There are already existing female Norse-themed characters in the Marvel Universe.

Image of Dani Moonstar from http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20061025182101/marveldatabase/images/4/49/Danielle_Moonstar_Valkyrie3.jpg
Image of Dani Moonstar from http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20061025182101/marveldatabase/images/4/49/Danielle_Moonstar_Valkyrie3.jpg

Why do this instead of further developing already existing female characters? There is a wealth of them at Marvel.

Why revisit an idea that’s been tried before and didn’t really catch on? For those of you who remember the Earth X storyline from 1999, you’ll also remember that Marvel’s answer to Kingdom Come sported a female Thor, transformed by some trickery of Loki’s.

Concept art of Earth X Thor from http://www.tgfa.org/comics/thor/images/EarthX_SpEd_09.jpg
Concept art of Earth X Thor from http://www.tgfa.org/comics/thor/images/EarthX_SpEd_09.jpg

And speaking of Loki, did the female Loki (Loki possessing Sif’s body) from Straczynski’s run on Thor lead to this in some way or influence it at all? Just examining possible leads here.

And again, why get worked up over some change that won’t last past the next Avengers film? The status quo always wins in comics.

I can sort of see the strategy here, but the market doesn’t really work the way Marvel may hope it will in this instance. You can’t take the existing fanbase of a wonderful title, throw a change like this on them, and expect it to be accepted without question just for the furthering of an arguably noble cause. I doubt Thor: God of Thunder will lose a huge percentage of its readership over this, but there is still some alienation that will occur. But I trust Jason Aaron on this one so far.

And this brings us to the circular trap of identifying with a character. When you undo a male, white character so that a non-white, non-male audience can identify with him or her and then expect the white, male portion of the audience to accept the change and see the character in the same light, you’ve basically undone the reason for the change to occur to begin with. Rather, would a stronger course of action be to encourage everyone to simply try to understand someone who is different from them and move forward from there? I think that is a stronger place for creating new characters and building up existing ones.

I leave you all with these questions. Let me know your thoughts below.

An afterthought: people thinking this may be a threat to Chris Hemsworth’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe need to think on how much it would likely cost to pay him out of the remainder of his contract. There are also legal concerns with violating such an agreement.

Hey, Listen!

My Editor-In-Chief has asked that I give you all a sort of “about me” blog entry.  Well, here it goes.

I’m 26 years old and have lived in Indiana all my life.  I have been married for nine months to my wonderful wife, who is pregnant with our first child!  Like the EIC, I attended Wabash College.  Unlike the EIC, I do not have a Bachelor of Arts in English.  My degree is in German.  I have never really had any idea what to do with it, as I was not an exceptional German student.  None the less, I have managed to survive pretty well so far.

My nerd credentials are somewhat extensive.  Star Wars was my first science fiction memory and love.  I couldn’t have been much older than 8 when I first saw A New Hope, in its original release edit.  We were over to dinner at a friend of my father’s house.  I realize now he probably wanted as much to share Star Wars with my brother and me as to distract us so the adults could talk.  But it was that day that sparked my love of space and all its magnificent glory…and sometimes danger.

Additionally, I grew to be quite the fan of Star Trek.  This will undoubtedly draw some hissing breaths from some readers, but we are more common than you might think.  My next major sci-fi love would not come for several years after that.  During that in-between time, my videogame love expanded with such classics as Sonic the Hedgehog, Warcraft (I’m talking MS-DOS version), Rebel Assault II, and the like.  As I got into middle school and high school, I discovered things like the realm of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Stargate SG-1, the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Shogun and Rome Total War.

There are still more nerd influences that have shaped me into my current form.  Games like Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, and Dungeons & Dragons, television shows like Transformers: Beast Wars, Spiderman: The Animated Series, the animated X-Men series of the 90’s, Batman: The Animated Series, and other various superhero cartoons, as well as Doctor Who, Farscape, and Game of Thrones.  As you can see, the list is quite extensive.

It is my hope that some, if not most, of this is something we have in common.  I hope to expand on that commonality as my posting continues here on the Thoughts.  For now, I would love to see comments that highlight some of your favorite nerd influences.  Please comment with them below!