What is #Comicsgate? Small Minds with Big Mouths

I’ve intentionally avoided writing about “#Comicsgate” until now.  Honestly, I felt it didn’t deserve any more attention than it already had.  It’s a movement of intolerance fueled by a small (compared to comic fandom as a whole) group of angry, close-minded individuals.  They are very loud about their displeasure with the modern comic industry in an attempt to a) appear larger and more influential than they really are and b) garner more attention for their rantings.  As such, I haven’t written about it.  Why give this little, prattling monster what it wants?  However, as someone who writes about his love of comic books while often showcasing my appreciation for the social justice lessons the better ones teach us, I figured it was time to finally talk about it.  As it’s sadly not going anywhere (yet) I’d also like to offer my two cents on how we can counter things like this in the comic fan community.  Continue reading

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A Question of Redemption: Doctor Doom the Infamous Iron Man

I’ve been thinking a lot about evil and redemption lately.  The first principle of Catholic Social Teaching affirms every human being is deserving of life and dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God.  Nothing can take that right away, not even their own destructive actions.  So there is always a line, theologically, between sinner and sin.  While the idea of redemption is theologically vital, we often struggle with it in the face of real world evil.  At least I know I do.  This cognitive dissonance begs the question is there a line, an evil act or actions we can’t return from?  Doctor Doom is a character uniquely suited to explore this question.  For decades he was the most evil villain in the Marvel Universe.  But over the last few years, in both Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man, Brian Michael Bendis put a newly reformed Victor Von Doom inside Tony Stark’s armor in an attempt to atone for all he’s done.  Now Fantastic Four has returned to the comic shelves and Doom’s future is a question mark once again.  Can someone like Doctor Doom ever truly be redeemed? Continue reading

Black Panther: The Struggle of Faith When God Is Silent

Modern comics tend to focus on shorter, four-to-six issue story arcs.  The ever-present wariness about the mercurial taste of readers, accessibility to potential newbies, as well as the fact each title will be collected and sold as trades two or three times a year shapes how stories are told.  Yet Ta-Nehisi Coates has embraced a longer form of storytelling, with great success, since taking over Black Panther.  His first “season” (as he describes it) was “A Nation Under Our Feet,” a yearlong story exploring the nature of people and politics, what it means to rule and who has the right to do so.  His second season, “Avengers Of The New World,” is another thoughtful, multifaceted yearlong story.  In it Coates eloquently and gracefully depicts the struggle of faith when God is silent. Continue reading

Neekology 101: Episode #31 – Remember the Age of Ultron?

Are you ready for something exciting?!?  If not…you should totally stop reading this right now because this post has some CRAZY EXCITING STUFF about to come your way.  Here comes the aforementioned excitement.  The wonderful folks from Gods Among Geeks invited me on their Neekology 101 podcast to talk about Avengers: Age Of Ultron.  We chat about the theological implications of artificial intelligence, explore the twin forces of hubris and guilt that motivate Tony in this film, geek out on all things MCU, and even talk a little about the point and purpose of art.  In addition to getting to hear me instead of reading my words you also get the chance to follow their blog and podcast if you don’t already.  So you should totally click here or here or here or – if you missed those chances – here and then you can listen to me on Neekology 101: Episode #31 Remember the Age of Ultron? (and yes, that was another link I hid there because I want you to listen to this). Continue reading

Marvel’s Champions – The Youth Shall Lead Us

Back in March, Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos ended their eighteen issue run on Champions, the team they introduced in 2016.  Consisting of Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Nova, Viv Vision, the Hulk, and Cyclops, these teens united with the very real belief they could make the world better.  While adult superheroes tend to spend all their time with things like supervillains, monsters, alien invasions, and stupid/senseless/pointless Civil Wars, these kids sought to tackle real issues, believing in their potential to fix things and inspire others to do the same in the process.  This run was one of the most important things Marvel’s produced of late, a story that speaks to their youthful readers while reminding us older ones what’s worth fighting for by showing us what real heroes do. Continue reading

Age Of Ultron: An Underrated Avengers Sequel

I’ve had two conversations recently, one with Jeff (of the Imperial Talker) and one with Rob (from My Side Of The Laundry Room).  Both centered around how Avengers: Age Of Ultron seems to be unfairly maligned by many when considering the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I would agree – the film is much better than it often gets credit for.  As I’ve been making my way through my Mega Marvel Movie Marathon in preparation for Avengers: Infinity War, I realized something else.  If I was to teach a film from the MCU in one of my classes, (with the exception of the Guardians Of The Galaxy films) Avengers: Age Of Ultron is the one which would fit the best and allow for the most philosophically-oriented discussions. Continue reading

Thor Odinson vs. Roxxon: You Can’t Serve Two Masters

In preparation for my paper on Jason Aaron’s use of the Divine Feminine in The Mighty Thor at the ACA/PCA Conference on Popular Culture at the end of the month, I’ve finished reading his entire Thor: God Of Thunder series.  Following Gorr the God Butcher, Aaron introduces another villain who is equally rich in menace and theological significance.  Dario Agger, CEO of Roxxon Energy Corporation, will challenge first the Odinson and then Jane Foster when she becomes Thor.  In continuing his exploration of what makes a worthy god Aaron uses Agger as the personification of two of our most sinful and dangerous traits – the idolatrous worship of wealth and wanton environmental destruction.  These then are the forces a worthy god opposes.  Continue reading