The Ol’ Parker Luck – OR – Why It’s Good to Have a Friend Like Spider-Man

With Fall 2022 having officially arrived just days ago, I find myself a little over a month into the new school year, my twelfth year teaching.  Over the last decade I’ve gathered a few traditions to accompany the start of each new year.  One of my favorites (and most helpful!) is a Spider-Man binge-reading session.  Each year I pick a particular author and era (or two (or three or four)) and dive into the world of The Amazing Spider-Man.  Teaching can be stressful and exhausting so, as summer falls away and work resumes, I find comfort in the familiar.  I’ve had a longer relationship with Spider-Man than any other fictional character, getting my first Spidey comic when I was three-years-old and still loving him now.  Plus, it’s nice to spend my night laughing when my days get harder and few characters have a better q.p.a average (quips-per-adventure, obvs.) than Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  But I’ve realized there’s more to it than that.  One of the most important reasons I turn to Spidey when school resumes is because of the ol’ Parker Luck.

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Spider-Man and Lily Hollister: She’s My Best Friend’s Girl

Harry’s been a friend.  You know he’s been a good friend of mine.  But lately something’s changed, it’ ain’t hard to define.  Harry’s got himself a girl and I wanna make her mine.  It’s time for the latest installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to examine the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life)!  Here we see Peter in a good place.  His best friend Harry Osborn is alive!  Harry’s returned from an extended stay in Europe where he got sober.  He’s in a new relationship with Lily Hollister, a girl he really likes.  He’s starting his own business out from under the cruel shadow of his infamous father.  He and Lily are trying to fix Peter up with her best friend, Carlie.  There’s so much to celebrate!!!  Oh, and Peter also kinda has a thing for Lily.  He thinks she’s cute.  In fact, he thinks she’s a “knockout.”  In fact, he kinda struggles with not thinking about her.  But it happens, right?  While the significant other of a best friend should set our Bad Idea Sense tingling, sometimes we can’t help but be drawn to them anyway.  Oh Peter, tread carefully here…     

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Daredevil’s Violent Vocation: God’s Calling or the Justification of Man?

Sometimes I’m surprised I’ve not written of Daredevil before.  I spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and writing about the intersection of comic books and theology and teach theology at a Catholic Mercy school and am a lifelong Catholic.  So Matt Murdock/Daredevil feels like a character made for me.  A lawyer by day who lost his sight as a child, Matt uses the radar sense he gained, along with his extensive martial arts training, to protect the people of Hell’s Kitchen as Daredevil.  As Marvel’s most prominent Catholic character, his faith and his relationship with God influence all areas of his life, superheroing included.  He attends Mass.  He goes to confession.  His parish priest and nuns are trusted natural supports.  But I never “got” Daredevil.  My brother David loved him but I wasn’t interested.  He felt like a bargain basement Spider-Man (when quippy) or bargain basement Batman (when dour).  Then I began reading Chip Zdarsky (writer) and Marco Checchetto (main artist on the run)’s Daredevil and OH. MY. GOSH.  I get it now!  Twenty-seven issues in and I love it!  A major story beat is Matt discerning God’s will in his life and, naturally, I was excited to explore this myself.  Is Daredevil’s vocation divinely ordained or an example of someone trying to sanctify their all-too-human violence in God’s name?

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Harley & Ivy’s Lessons in Life, Love, and Unburdening c/o the “Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour”

I adore HBO Max’s Harley Quinn: The Animated Series.  It fundamentally shifted my relationship with the character.  Before I watched the show, I enjoyed Harley Quinn.  After watching it, I began tracking down every Harley comic I could find!  In the process, she became a very important character to me.  Naturally, I was excited when I heard of Tee Franklin (writer) and Max Sarin (artist)’s Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour, billed as Season 2.5.  The comic captures everything I love about the show and features serious character development for both Harley and Poison Ivy, something all too rare in stories set between films in a series or seasons of a TV show.  This development, woven through a story with all the profanity, insanity, and hilarity you’d expect from Harley Quinn: The Animated Series, enriches the characters and serves as a beautiful model for readers.  Any comic which can do all that while also including the line “Piss cakes of a dick” is a true gift :D.

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Spider-Man and Danielle: Wait…Is This A Date?

The time has come for this series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature (illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we find in life) to hit LUCKY NUMBER THIRTEEN!!!  What lays ahead to consider in ol’ Peter Parker’s romantic misadventures?  Only one of the most vexing (and potentially awkward) of all romantic quandaries – how do you know if you’re actually on a date with someone or not?  Warning: Reading this piece may yield spontaneous full-body shame cringes which involuntarily rise when we remember awkward memories so proceed with caution.  If there’s one thing looking at all Peter Parker’s romantic exploits teaches us, it’s we’re never alone when it comes to awkwardly pursuing love.  When the web-head meets Danielle, the woman working at a jewelry store he returns stolen diamonds to in the all love stories-oriented Amazing Spider-Man #605, sparks fly.  Emotions run high.  She actually talks to him.  It’s a tractor beam – vzzzzzzzt – and it sucks Peter right in.  But, regardless of sparks and emotions we feel when we meet someone new, how do you know when your hanging out has become a real date?  

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Black Canary/Birds of Prey – Fiction’s Fearless Females

By Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2

Welcome to the latest installment in our yearly Fiction’s Fearless Females series! Michael of My Comic Relief kicked us off with his post on Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy of the Harley Quinn animated and comic book series. Kalie of Just Dread-full followed with Ellie and Sandie from the film “Last Night in Soho.” Look out for Jeff of The Imperial Talker’s post in just a few days, and Nancy’s post next week!

In last year’s post, I teased the heroine I had in mind for this year’s post. Our friendship theme for this year fit perfectly for who I had in mind: Black Canary. This was a prime opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, if you’ll forgive the pun.

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Ellie and Sandie from Last Night in Soho – Fiction’s Fearless Females

By Kalie Zamierowski of Just Dread-full

Every year a group of bloggers and I write about fearless fictional women to celebrate International Women’s Day. Each of these bloggers will be featured on my blog this year. The blog-a-thon started with Michael of My Comic Relief and, after my post, will go on to feature Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2 and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Here’s my contribution to the Blog-a-thon this year!

Soho 1

Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho opens in the warm home of a quaint British town, a home where main character Eloise basks in her vintage-inspired bedroom listening to music from the 60s. The opening scene is so reminiscent of life sixty years ago, in fact, that we may suspect that we are in 1961, not 2021, and because of Wright’s ability to establish a scene we may also feel like we’re temporarily inhabiting a much more idyllic time period than our own. Certainly, that is what Eloise/Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) imagines, the main character who we meet in the film’s beginning. Ellie has just been accepted to fashion school, and we get the impression, based on her excitement, that a glittering life in Great Britain’s fashion hub looks just as perfect, just as idyllic, as the 1960s do in her eyes. But sometimes attractive surface appearances mask a more insidious lurking reality—a fact which may be true of Soho in general, and is definitely true of Soho in the 60s, a reality that Ellie will soon find out.

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Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy – Fiction’s Fearless Females

It’s International Women’s Day and for the fourth year in a row I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers – Kalie of Just Dread-full, Jeff of The Imperial Talker, and Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2 – to celebrate some of our favorite female characters in all of fiction.  This year I was having trouble deciding on who to write about.  I wanted to rewatch Harley Quinn on HBO Max and read Tee Franklin’s Harley Quinn the Animated Series: The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour but should I write about Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy?  Then it hit me!  The entire show (and comic which serves as Season 2.5) is anchored in their relationship.  I would be hard pressed to write about one without writing about the other.  Plus, for a series celebrating “fearlessness,” it’s within their friendship where Harley and Ivy find and demonstrate the most incredible courage.  Standing beside each other, they (ultimately) own and face their greatest fears.  So I’m writing about Harley and Ivy and the type of friendship we should all be so lucky to have.

Given the focus of this piece it’ll have major spoilers for S1&2 of Harley Quinn as well as light spoilers for Tee Franklin’s (as brilliant as it is beautiful) Harley Quinn the Animated Series: The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour.

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Spider-Man and Debra Whitman: Substitute People and Surrogate Relationships

It’s time once more to talk about relationships and who doesn’t love that?  Clearly I do as this is the twelfth installment in my series using only Spider-Man comics to explore the variety of romantic archetypes we find in literature, illustrating the variety of romantic experiences we have in life.  While I knew nothing of Debra Whitman as a character before I began researching this piece, I found great affection for her by the end.  In the relationship she shares with Peter Parker we find an openness and vulnerability which, if received and reciprocated, would prove a beautiful foundation for a relationship.  Instead, Debra’s time with Peter becomes a cautionary tale about the importance of setting, articulating, and maintaining our boundaries and having our needs met within a relationship.

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The Hulk Deserves Better: Considering How Horrible the Avengers are to Bruce Banner

I’ve been deep into writing my book (yay!) so I’ve not posted a new piece for over a month.  To help fill the quiet during the book writing process, here’s a piece I wrote but never had the chance to post.  Enjoy!

As a character, that Hulk has always fascinated me.  When I was a kid he wasn’t a Spider-Man-level favorite nor was he quite at the level of Thor.  But he was a strong (heh heh, no pun intended) contender for that third favorite spot, alongside characters like Wolverine or Venom.  And if we look at the sheer number of their comics I read, Hulk totally blew Wolverine and Venom out of the water (obviously we’re excluding team comics here because why should my opening anecdote become needlessly complicated with nostalgic rankings?).  I began reading The Incredible Hulk amidst Peter David’s legendary eleven year run on the title (1987-1998).  While I’d read forwards and backwards from this point, my first Hulk comics were during the period Doc Samson had successfully merged all of Bruce Banner/the Hulk’s personalities.  Banner’s intellect was paired with the Grey Hulk’s confidence (and eyes/hairstyle) in a body carrying the Green Hulk’s size, color, and power.  It was a good time to be a Hulk fan…because this incarnation of the Hulk skirted a lot of the things about the Hulk that always made me sad. 

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