Spider-Gwen: Portrait of an Isolated Vigilante

Like everyone else in the world, I fell in love with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse when I saw it.  Miles Morales’ story began when I wasn’t reading comic books and, when I returned, it was one of the things I couldn’t wait to explore.  In fact, for the first year of my return to comic reading, it was his Spider-Man exploits alone I followed, wary of jumping back into Peter Parker’s world after having missed out on so much.  To see Miles take center stage in this movie was exciting!  But it wasn’t just Miles in the film.  My excitement to see his story unfold on the big screen was matched by my intrigue at seeing Gwen Stacy’s Spider-Woman.  I wasn’t halfway through my first viewing of the film before I knew I had to start reading Spider-Gwen for myself. Continue reading

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My Comic Advice: Where to Begin Reading Spider-Man

So you’re new to comics…or you’re new to the Marvel Universe…or you’re new to Spider-Man and you’re thinking to yourself, “Self, I’d like to immerse myself in the amazing world of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man BUT there’s over sixty years of comic books out there.  That’s intimidating!  How do I just jump in with decades of characters and continuity??  Where do I even begin?!?”  Well you’re in luck.  I’m here to help in my new series, “My Comic Advice,” where I’ll outline the best place for any newbie to begin reading a popular comic series.  What makes me the person for this job?  Well, I’ve loved comics for over thirty years but, more importantly, you are here reading this so it seems like we already have a bond :).  That being said…where do you begin reading Spider-Man?  Let’s find out! Continue reading

Squirrel Girl’s Earliest Era

I began reading The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl because I love Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics.  When I heard he was writing for Marvel, I had to check it out.  I instantly fell in love with the comic and I’ve been so impressed with what I continually find in its pages that I’ve chosen Doreen Green as the subject of the paper I’m writing for this year’s PCA/ACA National Conference on Popular Culture.  As I began my research, I figured I’d read the comics featuring Doreen before she began to kick butts and eat nuts in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  I wanted to get a handle on how her character has evolved in the authorial hands of Ryan North and artistic hands of Erica Henderson and now Derek Charm.  I was expecting a one note joke character but I was happily surprised by what I found! Continue reading

The Imperial Avengers Assemble!

Since I pushed Mike to present his Avenger’s Dream Team he, in turn, told me that I had to share my own squad of Avenging superheroes. As I have been soaking up Marvel stories lately, and not really interested in the Star Wars content being pumped out by Disney (which has resulted in my having absolutely nothing to say about Star Wars over on my site), I figured I would take Mike up on the offer and share my own team – “The Imperial Avengers.” That said, I should note that whereas I am a savant with Star Wars, my knowledge of the Marvel-verse is plebian compared to Michael. Soooo, you know, just bear with me here as I struggle to explain my rationale for choosing my team. Continue reading

My Avengers Dream Team

Reading Brian Michael Bendis’ The New Avengers lately (first the issues in “Civil War” and now I’m wading through the equally lengthy “Secret Invasion”) I can’t help but think: He just picked whatever superheroes he liked and made them Avengers.  I mean, c’mon.  Spider-Man?!?  Wolverine?!?  Luke Cage and Jessica Jones?!?  I love Spidey but he’s a neighborhood guy.  The same goes for Luke and Jessica; they’re street-level heroes.  And Wolverine?  The guy’s not a joiner AT ALL let alone randomly becoming an Avenger.  Jason Aaron’s done the same thing with his new team.  Ghost Rider?  Doctor Strange?  What the heck??  But then I realized THAT’S WHY YOU’D WANT TO WRITE AVENGERS BECAUSE YOU GET TO DESIGN YOUR OWN TEAM.  Moments after this realization hit it naturally led me to consider – Who would fill my Avengers dream team? Continue reading

Spider-Man and Mary Jane: Soul Mates? (Y/N/Maybe)

Mary Jane Watson and Peter Parker got married on 9 June 1987, in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21.  For someone who began reading comic books in March 1986, their marriage was a central tenant of my experience of Spider-Man.  You don’t have Spider-Man without Peter Parker and you don’t have Peter Parker without Mary Jane!  Despite Marvel’s editorial staff having “instant regrets” about their wedding, fans have passionately embraced the marriage for over twenty years.  As their relationship evolved, especially as it approached it’s end in 2007’s “One More Day” storyline, Mary Jane and Peter were increasingly painted in the light of Soul Mates.  Their relationship then allows us to ponder one of romantic love’s most intoxicating questions – are Soul Mates real?  It’s end allows us to reflect on the potential of finding and losing the one.  Now let’s see if I can write about them without getting overly emotional and/or angsty… Continue reading

“The Death of the Mighty Thor” – My Eulogy for the Best Comic I’ve Ever Read

This is a milestone for me :).  This piece is my 300th post on My Comic Relief!!  I’ve been trying to figure out which comic was worthy of such a tribute since about my 256th post.  Then, like a blinding flash of lightening it hit me.  I adored Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, and Matthew Wilson’s work with Jane Foster in The Mighty Thor.  She’s become my definitive Thor.  I’ve written several pieces exploring the brilliance of this run but I’ve never written about the end of Jane’s time wielding Mjölnir.  To do so, I wanted it to be special.  Instead of another analysis, I aim to simply pay tribute, to eulogize in the wake of “The Death of the Mighty Thor,” to talk about why I fell in love with this character and this comic.  In short I want to explain why Jane’s time as Thor became MY FAVORITE COMIC BOOK STORYLINE OF ALL TIME.  In my heart, she’ll always be who I mean when I invoke the name “Thor.” Continue reading