Black Widow and the Face of Family in the MCU

I’ve seen Black Widow!  Well, I guess a better way to put it is I keep seeing Black Widow ;).  It holds a special place in my heart.  Black Widow marks the return of two long running traditions.  My first showing on July 8th was the return of a Marvel movie opening night AND the return of seeing a movie after dinner on my birthday!  The latter is something I’ve done since high school but was naturally on hiatus last year as our local Covid lockdowns were in full force.  It felt so good to be back.  Each time I’ve seen it since, I’ve noticed how comforting it feels to be in a darkened theatre again and hear those pages flip as the Marvel logo appears on screen.  Black Widow is special for many reasons beyond my own traditions, too.  Scarlett Johansson FINALLY has her own solo film as Natasha Romanoff, a character she debuted in 2010’s Iron Man 2.  Yay!  And what a film it is.  It’s magnificent, one of the best within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Black Widow is the film Natasha (and Scarlett Johansson!) has always deserved.  I’d argue Natasha, more than any other character, best personifies the most important recurring message in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this film illustrates all she is brilliantly.    

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Fascination and Frustration with the Loki Finale

Season One of Loki has come to a close and I have lots of feelings.  My relationship with Loki has been complicated from “go.”  The first episode left me with more concerns than intrigue, wondering about the direction they were taking the MCU’s overarching narrative.  The second episode setup so much!  It got me excited!  Maybe I was wrong!  Episode three was disconcerting as it was just filler.  Then comes four-five-six and I’ve been all over the board with how this show has made me feel.  Now, with the dust only beginning to settle, I wanted to explore my at-times-surprisingly visceral reaction to the end of Loki Season One.  MASSIVE SPOILERS for the Loki finale will follow.  A mass of FEELINGS will follow as well.  So tread carefully, based your comfort level with exposure to SPOILERS and my raging feels ;D.

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Desperately Seeking Susan: What Happened to the Doctor’s Granddaughter?

When I began watching Classic Doctor Who, it was like a whole other world.  The show – from its pacing to style to the character of the Doctor – felt very unfamiliar.  But I soon found my rhythm, loving it for what it was and how it flowed into the Doctor Who I fell in love with.  I was immediately fascinated by Susan Foreman, the Doctor’s granddaughter!  So often I’ve seen the Doctor mourn their lost family, grieving all those who died when Gallifrey burned, leaving them the last of the Time Lords.  But here Gallifrey still hung in the heavens and the Doctor was travelling with his granddaughter!  I couldn’t wait to learn all about Susan and her relationship with the Doctor.  It left me wanting to explore her character, what it felt like to meet one of the Doctor’s blood relatives, and ponder what happened to Susan after she parted ways with her grandfather.

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The Multi-Doctor Team-Up: Conversing with Me, Myself, and I

We love a good team-up, don’t we?  The AvengersJustice League.  Even Godzilla vs. Kong.  Part of me expects a movie where Annabelle, the Nun, and La Llorona team-up to haunt Ed and Lorraine Warren (which won’t happened as the Conjuring Universe has more narrative integrity than that and the stories are based on true events (or at least truth-adjacent)).  Doctor Who has been doing the multi-Doctor team-up for decades in TV, novels, audio dramas, and comics.  But there is a fascinating dimension to different Doctors teaming up that none of these other stories have.  When the Doctor encounters other incarnations of the Doctor it’s not just a group of our favorite heroes coming together.  Rather they are, in effect, meeting themself at different moments in their life!  Can you imagine that?!!?  I can’t stop imagining what it would be like if I found myself in the same situation!  Can you imagine meeting yourself at different points in your life, some younger than you and some having seen things you’ve yet to see?  The idea is captivating and this is exactly what happens whenever the Doctors team-up.   

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Spider-Man and Mockingbird: The Allure of the Workplace Romance

Welcome to the ninth installment in this li’l series using Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird is a scientific genius, Avenger, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and super spy whose relationship with Peter Parker would be a central part of Dan Slott’s final years writing The Amazing Spider-Man.  In Bobbi Morse, Peter found a witty, compassionate partner who could kick his ass and/or inspire him when he needed it.  Every bit as smart as Peter, she’d meet him in his brilliance and push him further.  As Mockingbird, she stood beside Spider-Man to face everything from Skrull invasions to Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign to the Zodiac terrorist attacks to Hydra takeovers.  Being a superhero herself, Bobbi could share Peter’s entire life.  Oh, and they worked together.  Which is good because, you know, nothing can ever go wrong when you date a coworker.

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Stream-of-Consciousness Loki Theorizing About the TVA and Variants

Am I doing this?  Am I writing a second post about Loki after the second episode?  Is this going to be a thing I do?  I don’t know what the future holds but for now…yeah, it totally is.  But it’s summer vacation!  I SURVIVED a year of pandemic teaching!  Now I can catch my breath, work on the book, and enjoy life…which includes watching, thinking, and (it would appear) writing about Loki.  Also, speculating and theorizing is part of the fun with new episodes dropping weekly!  The ideas in this post began with a comment Gemma (of Book Beach Bunny) left on my first post about Loki.  Then Krysta (of Pages Unbound) left a comment on that piece, too, which added more fuel to my contemplative fire.  Then Jeff and I spent like an hour on the phone after we both watched the second episode this morning considering everything we saw and discussing it in light of Gemma and Krysta’s comments.  Soooo…voila!  Here’s a new post.  But do you see what happened?!?  All these ideas began with comment thread discussions so maybe this post will lead to new ideas to obsess over until the next episode comes out!  Also this will have MAJOR SPOILERS for episode two of Loki so read on only if a) you’ve seen it or b) are ok with MAJOR SPOILERS.

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Loki and Questions of the MCU’s Multiverse

I just watched the first episode of Loki and decided to sit down and write about it.  This NEVER happens for me!  Normally I’ve too many thoughts to order as I write or life is too busy to go from reading/viewing to writing to posting or both.  Either way, here we are :).  I didn’t go into Loki planning to write about it.  But as I watched several serious questions began swirling around in my head.  And I figured, “What the Hel?  Just write.”  So here we are.  If you’ve not seen it, I won’t discuss any major surprises but I’ll be exploring the basic plot setup and the questions it’s presentation of the multiverse gives us.  Coolio?  Coolio.  Let’s jump into all the first episode of Loki gives us to consider about the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s concept of the multiverse, shall we?

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Black Widow: A Comic Book Retrospective – ‘10 through ‘20

I DID IT.  I DID IT.  It took me three years but I read over 300 comics and have successfully walked through all fifty-seven years of Black Widow’s comic history!  Natasha Romanoff has gone from a character I was familiar with from Avengers comics and team-up stories to one of the comic characters I know best of all.  I AM SO HAPPY I DID THIS!  Now, with a month left until Black Widow finally hits theatres, I’m examining the stories marking Natasha’s journeys from 2010-2020.  As usual, kudos goes to Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous) for casually asking if Black Widow was ever blonde in the comics (she was! see ’00-’10) waaay back when the Avengers: Infinity War trailer came out and kudos to my over-committing parts for deciding to read everything from Natasha’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) up through Web of Black Widow (2019-20) instead of just googling it.

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Reconsidering Harley Quinn: Just Who Is the Clown Princess of Coney Island?

Harley Quinn has had legions of loyal fans for ages.  For a long time, I mainly knew her as the Joker’s girlfriend on Batman: The Animated Series.  I knew DC had brought her into their comics’ continuity.  I knew she and the Joker had broken up (maybe? sort of?).  I knew she’d shifted from villain to antihero to star in her own comic.  I’d heard her referred to as “DC’s Deadpool.”  But what about her brought such adoration among readers?  In a 2016 interview with Vulture, DC Comics’ Publisher and CCO Jim Lee said, “I refer to her as the fourth pillar in our publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.”[1]  That’s HUGE.  Lee is equating Harley to DC’s Trinity, their Big Three, the foundation upon which DC is built.  After reading the near 100 comics comprising Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s run on Harley Quinn (yes, I got excited and bought them all (no, I have no regrets)) I get it.   

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BIG EXCITING NEWS – I’M WRITING A BOOK!!!

That’s right, dear reader, you’ve read that correctly.  I’m writing a book!  I’ve officially signed a contract with Claremont Press to write a book for their Religion & Comics series!  The volume will explore the prophetic dimension of modern superhero comic books.  Ahhhhhh, I’m SO EXCITED about this project and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

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