Like many, I had feelings when I read Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr.’s Amazing Spider-Man #26 Wednesday evening. The feelings were such that they generated a piece just a few days after the comic came out. However, I don’t think they were the feelings the creative team intended (though I have no way of knowing for sure). So I figured a li’l piece to unpack those feelings and explore what happened in this issue was in order. Billed as a “monumental story” which would be “the most shocking issue of Amazing Spider-Man in fifty years,” the death of someone close to Peter Parker/Spider-Man was teased. Fifty years after the death of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #121, it appeared another tragedy was on the horizon. This all came to a head as Spidey, Ms. Marvel, the Gold Goblin, and the Fantastic Four battled to protect Mary Jane, her partner Paul, and their two children, Owen and Stephanie, from Rabin, the mathematician-cum-zealot-cum-would-be vessel of the demonic deity Wayep.
As one would expect, SPOILERS for Amazing Spider-Man #26 follow.
Though this story has been widely reported already so maybe they aren’t SPOILERS? Still, you’ve been warned.
When it comes to decorating, I’m not one for empty spaces. I tend to see a blank wall as a challenge or an invitation. While I’ve traded thumb tacks and tape rolls for frames hung on nails, very little has changed about how I use the wall space in my house from when I was a kid whose bedroom walls held posters, drawings, and pictures torn from magazines of Sesame Street, He-Man, the Ghostbusters, Garfield, and (of course) Spider-Man. Over the last few years the two always rotating movie posters which hung behind my couch have given way to a wall of Doctor Who art – almost exclusively quote prints featuring favorite lines from the show. I’ve wanted to write about this for over a year, ever since I saw Mei-Mei’s post “Star Wars at home,” on her lovely site Jedi By Knight. I’m finally writing it now as we’re in the waning days of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month. The theme Mental Health America chose for this year was “Look Around, Look Within” and the challenge was to consider how our environment – from our neighborhoods, homes, workplaces, and genetics – affect our mental health. This felt like the perfect time to write about the Doctor!
Zeb Wells and John Romita Jr. kicked off their Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Vol. 6) in April of 2022 with a six month time jump in the narrative. Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker, reunited as a couple in Nick Spencer’s run on Amazing Spider-Man (starting in July 2018), had broken up. Peter was despondent and angry. Everyone was angry with Peter, too – Aunt May, Randy Robertson, even the Fantastic Four and Captain America. MJ wasn’t taking his calls. Creditors were hounding him. He was working for Norman Osborn! Most shocking of all, Mary Jane was living with her new partner, Paul…and their two kids. It was certainly a jaw-dropping reveal at the end of Wells and Romita’s first issue. Now, a year later, the gaps are being filled in with Amazing Spider-Man #21-25. Why did Peter and Mary Jane break-up? Who is Paul? Why is everyone angry with Peter? What happened in those six months? Will Mary Jane and Peter get back together?? For me, a bigger question has been on my mind since I first saw Stephanie and Owen run into her arms at the end of that issue: Should Mary Jane even be with Peter in the first place?
Note, this piece contains plot spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man #21-25.
Kalie and I saw Evil Dead Rise last night. She was torn between seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Evil Dead Rise, though she felt Evil Dead Rise would leave theatres first so it should be prioritized. As I had already seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 twice, I didn’t argue. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE WRONG NOR REGRETTED A CHOICE AT THE MOVIES MORE COMPLETELY. I hated Evil Dead Rise. I HATED IT. I thought it was horrible. Now, I don’t mean I thought it was horrifying, as horror films strive to be. No, it was horrible. The more I thought about the visceral hatred it moved in me, the more I realized something…Evil Dead Rise has to be a brilliant film. I wasn’t bored. I wasn’t apathetic toward it. I HATED IT and I can’t tell you the last time I had such a seething reaction to a film. So while the movie isn’t “for me” I can’t deny it’s a remarkably well made film and that – my deeply visceral reaction to a brilliant film I hated in the core of my being – felt like something worth exploring.
SPOILERS for Evil Dead Rise’s basic plot outline alone will follow.
If you’d’ve told me ten years ago I’d be writing a piece like this I’d’ve thought you were crazy. First, I wasn’t blogging or doing any kind of writing outside of journaling then so it would’ve been hard to imagine. Second, I didn’t know who the Guardians of the Galaxy were (outside of a single card in my binder of 1992 Marvel Universe trading cards which didn’t feature a single character I recognized). So I could’ve never predicted falling in love with these characters and their story so completely one fateful summer day in 2014. Nor could I foresee Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 becoming my favorite movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. How then could I have predicted those films leading me to read all their comics from 2008 to the present? And TheGuardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special becoming a must-watch part of my Christmas viewing? Well, I doubt I could’ve pictured any multiverse where that was a thing. Yet this all came to pass. So here I sit, writing of how James Gunn’s brilliant and beautiful Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 brought these characters’ story to a conclusion in such a way as to make it the MCU’s best example to date of what a superhero story can really do.
Note, SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will follow and will be clearly marked.
Happy May the 4th everyone! Today is the day we all celebrate the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker himself – the man who has played the Doctor longer than anyone else. Getting into the spirit of the day – celebrating what it means when the Doctor is with you – I’m looking at “The Ark in Space.” After regenerating, the Fourth Doctor’s first outing with Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen) and Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) finds them exiting the TARDIS on Space Station Nerva in the year 16,087. Nerva holds thousands of humans in cryogenic sleep alongside animal and botanical life and a vast store of “the entire body of human thought.” However, the station also holds the Wirrn, a parasitic insectoid race bent on absorbing all human life. Russell T Davies has said this was his favorite Classic Doctor Who story. Steven Moffatt cited it as the best Fourth Doctor story. And (allegedly) it was Tom Baker’s favorite episode he ever filmed. I love it because space provides a unique setting for our stories, one as likely to inspire hope as soul-shaking horror. Space holds endless possibilities and endless peril. I chose “The Ark in Space” for this May the 4th piece as it gives us both while beautifully showing what happens when the Doctor is with you.
Oh yes! This is it! I figured it out! I FIGURED OUT HOW DONNA CAN RETURN and GET HER MEMORIES BACK with DOCTOR WHO’s 60th ANNIVERSARY!!! Well, I say “figured it out” but it’s more like I figured out a way it could work. But it does! It works! And to be honest, what I really (really) want out of Doctor Who’s trilogy of 60th anniversary specials is for Donna to get her happily ever after. I want Donna’s memories of her time with the Doctor restored! And, you know, I’d like for her not to die as a result. So how can this happen? Well, 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!” Buckle up, dear reader, the stops on our speculation tour today include “Journey’s End” (S4E13), the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie, and the Timeless Child. Allons-y!
I’ve always loved the movies. One of the greatest freedoms I gained with my driver’s license was being able to go to the movies whenever I wanted. Long before smartphones let us check showtimes online, I always had the week’s movie listings in my wallet, torn from the paper, so I knew what was playing when. Multiple viewings were the norm. During the free time-filled adulthood your early twenties bring, it wasn’t uncommon for me to see a movie I really loved six, seven, or even eight times in the theatre. Then the count really went up once I had it on DVD! I’ve had this idea for a new series for ages, to go back and rewatch the movies I loved most during my young adulthood and see how they feel now. This isn’t an analysis but an off the cuff stream of consciousness journey. What holds up? What makes me nostalgic? And what feels a bit cringy and uncomfortable now? While I considered many films to kick off this series, there was really only ever one choice. Released on 9 July 2004, I had just turned twenty-two when Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy hit theatres and it was love at first viewing.
A few weeks ago I wrote about how, as the X-Men were crossing over with Spider-Man in last December’s Dark Web event, I decided to go back and read four years worth of the Krakoa Era of X-Men comics. It’s the first time I’ve read X-Men comics regularly since the ‘90s and I’m following X-Force, Marauders, New Mutants, Excalibur-cum-Knights of X, and, of course, X-Men. Presently I’m up to August 2022 in all those titles so I’m almost ready to read Dark Web! To say I’ve encountered a few new characters along the way is to put it mildly. To say I’ve encountered so many new characters it’s given me whiplash and I sometimes wonder if authors are just making up names to mess with new/old readers like me because there is NO WAY this many new characters could’ve popped up in the twenty-five years since I last read X-Men comics feels closer to the truth. One of the (many) new characters was Laura Kinney/Wolverine. As she appeared in the pages of X-Men and New Mutants I felt a pull between what I’d’ve done as a kid and how I’ve learned to read comics now. So, how was I to meet Laura? How do I get to know Wolverine? I decided to take a breath, set aside those new habits, and read like a kid again. I kind of loved it! And it illuminated an interesting comparison for me about how we tend to consume narratives today.
Before we begin, I want you to know I’m being serious. I think Rey Skywalker is the most powerful Sith Lord due to her journey’s conclusion in The Rise of Skywalker. I also want you to know I don’t think this was anyone’s intent. Nor do I think Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams realized they were doing this when they were sorting how to end the trilogy suddenly back in their hands after Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. But if we place what happens in The Rise of Skywalker within the larger context of the Star Wars Saga, it’s the only conclusion we can draw. I think about this all the time. It’s something Jeff (Jeffrey Cagle of The Imperial Talker) and I endlessly examine. Naturally it’s on my mind now, with news of Daisy Ridley returning to the role of Rey coming out of Star Wars Celebration 2023. Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and written by Steven Knight, this new film will be set fifteen years after The Rise of Skywalker and follow Rey as she begins to build a new Jedi Order. I’m really excited for this film! I’ve loved Rey since The Force Awakens and I’m hopeful this story leaves her the hero she was meant to be, the hero we usually think she is…the hero The Rise of Skywalker’s last act inadvertently undermined.