This week Kalie guest lectured for my MARVELous Justice course, my class which uses comic books and comic book movies to examine social justice issues and the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns in particular. Kalie is getting her PhD in literary criticism, with her focus on the mad monster. I’ve asked her to come in a few times to give my students an introduction to Monster Theory so they can add it to the avenues of analysis we use for the comics and films we explore. As part of her presentation, Kalie always asks my class what their favorite childhood monster was and why they liked it. The first time I heard her ask this question, I found myself lost in thought. What was my favorite monster as a kid? Did I even have one? I never liked being scared, that’s for sure. The answer hit in a bolt of clarity! What an easy question! It’s no contest! My favorite monster was Venom. As soon as Eddie Brock bonded with the symbiote, I was hooked. I love Venom! I adore Venom! Looking at my relationship with this monster as I followed along with Kalie’s lesson taught me a lot about myself, too.
Unexpectedly, I can’t stop thinking about Kieron Gillen (writer) and Valerio Schiti (artist)’s A.X.E.: Judgement Day. It’s unexpected because, while I love Gillen as a writer and adore Schiti’s art, of the three teams involved, I only regularly read Avengers. I often avoid team books (as they lead to lots of tie-ins) but I read Avengers because I’ll read anything Jason Aaron writes. However, I didn’t expect this story to connect to his run (and it didn’t). Then, while I feel Eternals is the most gorgeously shot Marvel movie yet, I’ve never read any Eternals comics – now or in my youth. Lastly, I LOVED the X-Men as a kid but I’ve really struggled to find a story to pull me back into the mutant world since returning to reading comics in 2015. I dropped X-Men: Gold (Vol. 2) by issue #6. I dug X-Men: Red (Vol. 1) but the run ended before I knew it existed. I’ve tried to read Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X twice but lost interest a few issues in each time. Maybe I can’t go home again with the X-Men :/. So, I was intrigued by the idea but didn’t expect this story to really grab me. OH MY GOSH WAS I WRONG. I’ve read it twice (once as it came out monthly and then all at once) and can’t stop thinking about what I’d do if I knew the world was going to end tomorrow. See?? How can a story with a hook like that not captivate me?!?
So I saw Babylon last Sunday night. Twice. I saw the 6:25 show and then picked Kalie up and went right back for the 10:35 show. If Tinseltown had still been open after that, I’d’ve seen it a third time. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a movie and then went right back in to see it again just because I loved it. Sure, I’ve purchased multiple tickets in advance for “big” Marvel or Star Wars movies on opening weekend but to see a film back-to-back just because I fell in love with it? It’s been ages. Babylon’s three hours and nine minutes long, too, so with previews I was at the theatre for seven hours. And I loved it! Not a single second dragged and I saw so much more to appreciate my second time through. I’ve read a lot of wildly divided opinions on Babylon in articles and across social media – people seem to either adore it or think it’s the worst thing they’ve ever seen – and any film which is so polarizing intrigues me. Last night I caught the 8:25 show, and now with three viewings under my belt, I wanted to write a bit about why I love Babylon so much.
Note, spoilers for Babylon will follow but the film’s ending won’t be discussed.
New Year’s Eve tends to bring nostalgic reflections and hopeful projections. Tonight, no matter how hard the year’s been, it seems we always find some warm, nostalgic feels for what’s come before. And no matter how hard life may feel in this moment, it seems we always find some excitement for what lays ahead. If our last year was more beautiful and joyful than not, well all’s the easier to touch those bright reflections and projections. I’m not sure why. If I was to hazard a guess (which I feel I should as I brought all this up), I’d say it’s because – deep down – we are fundamentally hopeful. We want to find reasons to celebrate, to believe. New Year’s Eve is as good a reason as any! While I’ve never been one to buy into the magic of tonight and the promise of tomorrow too much, I do enjoy a reason to be nostalgic and hopeful as much as the next person :). So, in the spirit of the night, I figured it would be fun to get way nostalgic and look back at a few childhood fears I spent ages preparing for, only to find they were problems I’d never encounter in adulthood (well, at least not yet).
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of TARDISes and Toymakers danced in their heads. And Mummy in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap. When out on Twitter there arose such a clatter as the BBC teased a new trailer for the Doctor Who 60th Anniversary special dropping tomorrow!!! Naturally, that “long winter’s nap” could wait. Russell T Davies enthusiastically encouraged our theorizing when he said, “If you thought the appearance of David Tennant was a shock, we’ve got plenty more surprises on the way! The path to Ncuti’s Fifteenth Doctor is laden with mystery, horror, robots, puppets, danger and fun! And how is it connected to the return of the wonderful Donna Noble? How, what, why? We’re giving you a year to speculate, and then all hell lets loose!” So, with a trailer (or something??) coming tomorrow, tonight felt the perfect time to think and theorize (at least a li’l bit) about what may lay ahead for the Doctor and Donna next year.
I watched it. I finally watched it. The much-maligned, infamously lampooned Star Wars Holiday Special – the story George Lucas preferred to forget. Debuting on 17 November 1978 on CBS, the story is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. It’s the very first appearance of Boba Fett! Of Chewie’s family! Of the Wookiee homeworld! Despite these firsts, it was near-universally panned and the special was never rebroadcast nor officially released on home video. But after writing about the Guardians of the Galaxy and their Holiday Special, it seemed fitting to watch the original (thanks YouTube!) as the latest installment in my holiday series. See, it’s Christmastime again, so ‘tis the season for me to read and watch a buncha Christmas specials and use them to reflect on what Christmas means to me just like Stevie Wonder does in the very song which inspired this series. And, just like Stevie Wonder sings about, “All these things and more, darling (all these things and more) / That’s what Christmas means to me, my love,” Christmas means a lot of things to me, too. It turns out The Star Wars Holiday Special is a surprisingly perfect example of an important one.
It’s Christmastime again, so ‘tis the season for me to read and watch a buncha Christmas specials and use them to reflect on what Christmas means to me just like Stevie Wonder does in the very song which inspired this series. And, just like Stevie Wonder sings about, “All these things and more, darling (all these things and more) / That’s what Christmas means to me, my love,” Christmas means a lot of things to me, too! This time I’m turning my attention towards The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, debuting on 25 November 2022 on Disney+. Speaking of the special to Radio Times, James Gunn said, “The Holiday Special is the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s totally ridiculous, and every day we can’t believe that we’re making it. We all completely love it. It is unlike anything that anyone’s ever seen before. I can’t wait for people to see it.” I was stunned! Greater than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2?? Greater than The Suicide Squad?? This wasn’t anything I expected it to be (save fun, I expected it to be fun!) but I absolutely loved it! It left me with warm Christmas feels, too.
Note, spoilers for The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special follow.
It’s Christmastime again, so ‘tis the season for me to read and watch a buncha Christmas specials and use them to reflect on what Christmas means to me just like Stevie Wonder does in the very song which inspired this series. And, just like Stevie Wonder sings about, “All these things and more, darling (all these things and more) / That’s what Christmas means to me, my love,” Christmas means a lot of things to me, too. This time Harley Quinn, the Clown Princess of Coney Island, provides my avenue for reflection as I ponder what Christmas means to me (my love!) care of Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1! Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Mauricet (“Bad Toy”), Brandt Peters (“Get Yer Cheer Outta My Ear”), and Darwyn Cook (“K!llin’ T!me”), Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1 was originally published on 10 December 2014. I love Harley Quinn! I love Christmas! And I’d say, “I love them together even more than I expected” but I absolutely expected to love Harley Quinn at Christmas a lot so I was very correct in my assumption!
A few years ago, Stevie Wonder’s “What Christmas Means To Me” came on as I listened to Christmas carols while decorating. It led me to reflect (reflectin’ and decoratin’ and dancin’ to Christmas carols made for a great night!) which in turn led to a series where I ruminated on what Christmas means to me, using various Doctor Who Christmas specials as a frame for the reflection. It turns out – just like Stevie sings about, “All these things and more, darling (all these things and more)” – Christmas means a lot of things to me, too! ‘Tis the season for me to watch and read Christmas-y things and write about all Christmas means to me. First up this year is The Sensational She-Hulk #8. For many, writer/artist John Byrne’s quirky, eccentric, fourth-wall demolishing version of Jen Walters/She-Hulk is the definitive version of the character. Keeping in line with the wacky and unpredictable hijinks of the title, its eighth issue saw Shulkie literally team-up with Santa Claus to convict a serial killer. Nothing says “Christmas” like a ho-ho-homicide conviction!
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is, in my humble opinion, the most important show (it’s finale in particular) to the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It cuts loose the albatross which has hung around the neck of the MCU since Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame were released. If the MCU is to continue for another ten years, if it’s to stay relevant and interesting, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law must become the Bible for Marvel’s cinematic storytellers. And ok, I see how my title and these opening sentences may seem a bit clickbait-y. It may seem like a “hot take,” purposefully framed to invite shocked, curious, or even hate reads. But here’s the thing; I honestly, completely, wholeheartedly believe this. For all their EPICNESS, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame inadvertently set off a problematic chain reaction within the MCU’s fandom which will plague the MCU until it’s set right. How do you stop this reaction? She-Hulk SMASH. Salvation, it turns out, comes in a sensational She-Hulk-sized package.
Note, this piece contains SPOILERS for the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law finale.