Black Widow: A Comic Book Retrospective – the ‘80s and ‘90s

On the heels of the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, a conversation with Kiri (of Star Wars Anonymous) about whether or not Black Widow had ever been blonde in the comics showed me how shamefully few of her comics I’d read.  Naturally, I took the next logical step – I waaaay overcommitted and have spent over two years now figuring out a reading list, finding the titles, and then reading my way through decades of Black Widow stories.  Three months back, I wrote a piece looking at Natasha’s most important appearances in the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Now it’s time to dive into the ‘80s and ‘90s as I continue my little journey through her comic book history, from Natasha’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964) to her most recent miniseries, The Web of Black Widow (2019-20). Continue reading

Wild and Weird In All the Right Ways: Donny Cates’ Guardians Of The Galaxy

I like to do these pieces where I’ll examine the entire run of a writer on Guardians Of The Galaxy.  It began when I first read all the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning comics which inspired James Gunn’s film.  I fell in love so they naturally led me to Brian Michael Bendis’ run.  Then I read Gerry Duggan’s.  His All-New Guardians Of The Galaxy was a painfully forced attempt to make the comic feel exactly like the movies, disregarding ten years of narrative character development.  It also setup Duggan’s Infinity Countdown and Infinity Wars which may be the worst comic crossover I’ve ever read.  Then Donny Cates comes along…and totally redeemed everything!!!  Seriously, if I ever meet this guy I’ll buy him a drink or dinner or dinner with drinks.  He’s earned it. Continue reading

A Welcome Distraction – Breaking the Tedium of Quarantine Life

My latest post for Reads & Reels is up!  This time I write about what I’ve been doing to help make quarantine life interesting.  This is one of my favorite things I’ve written so I’m not even going to blather on about it anymore and I’ll just say YOU SHOULD CLICK HERE AND READ IT YOURSELF :).  Please and thank you.

Considering Peter Parker, EDITH, and Spider-Man: Far From Home

All the creatives and stars of Avengers: Endgame joined in a massive social media campaign asking everyone to be decent human beings and #DontSpoilTheEndgame…for two weeks until Marvel Studios used MASSIVE spoilers for Endgame in their trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home.  It was clear they were seeking to use all the emotions flowing in the wake of Endgame to motivate advanced ticket sales for Far From Home.  Marvel Studios was very direct about how Spider-Man: Far From Home served as the epilogue to Avengers: Endgame.  I enjoyed the film but was – and remain – frustrated by a plot point with seriously troubling implications.

Note, this has spoilers for both Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home (obvs.). Continue reading

F.N.V. – Growing Up With and Within John Mellencamp Songs

A few years ago, Rob – of My Side Of The Laundry Room – began a series called “F.N.V.,” taking its name and inspiration from NBC’s Friday Night Videos (1983-2002).  Anyway, I liked it so I totally stole it from him.  Kalie liked it and she stole it too, proving far more prolific with her sharing of music videos and stories than I ever am.  Today I’m going to do something I haven’t done before – focus exclusively on one artist.  Why John Mellencamp?  Well, ever since I was a kid, John Mellencamp’s music has led me down surprisingly contemplative roads.  So I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the musings he’s led me to over the years. Continue reading

The Time Lord Victorious – A Model and Warning of Isolation

As I roll past day forty in quarantine, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the Doctor Who specials that marked the end of David Tennant’s run as the Doctor.  Not so much the finale two-parter which contained his showdown with the Master, but rather “The Next Doctor” (Dec 2008), “Planet of the Dead” (April 2009), and “The Waters of Mars” (Nov 2009).  The reason these specials have been on my mind is they explore the Doctor travelling alone, roaming the whole of time and space without any companion(s) by his side.  The pain of loneliness and isolation are universal – something we all experience, in various degrees and at various times in our lives.  In fact, I’d wager this constant struggle with loneliness is part of what makes the Doctor such an appealing character.  We all can relate.  While always relevant, this seems particularly poignant now. Continue reading

Batwoman: Free of Guilt, Driven by Faith

Kate Kane, the Batwoman, is a remarkable character.  Even after a lifetime of being bored by Batman, I found her so compelling James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics – with Batwoman leading Batman’s team in Gotham – became a permanent part of my pull list.  Her solo Rebirth Batwoman title, penned by Marguerite Bennette and Tynion IV, soon followed.  Last Christmas I was excited to find trade collections of her earlier New 52 adventures had made their way under the tree.  What draws me to Batwoman is, while she wears the bat symbol, she transcends the most serious faults we see in the Batman.  In so doing, she’s not just a character I connect with and love reading about.  She’s also one who instructs and inspires transformation in her readers, as only the most important characters do. Continue reading