Ben Reilly’s Back!!! – The Spider-Man Story I’ve Waited 25 Years For

Which comics go in my file/pull list is a decision I ponder regularly.  What must be read monthly in single issues?  Which stories/characters/creators can’t wait?  I ask myself this whenever I consider juggling the comics in my file because, well, money’s a thing and I only have so much for comics before they turn off my electricity and water and I use those all the time.  Despite Spider-Man being the fictional character I’ve had the longest running relationship with, The Amazing Spider-Man is rarely on my pull list simply because I favor newer characters (or characters new to me).  Miles Morales/Spider-Man or Cindy Moon/Silk or America Chavez or Jane Foster/Valkyrie don’t yet have as bedrock a status quo to reset to so their characters feel more dynamic and thus, with more potential for lasting change, there’s a greater sense of urgency to read those stories each month instead of waiting for them to pop up on Marvel Unlimited or be collected in a trade paperback.  However, last night I learned Ben Reilly was donning the webs once more so today I went to my local comic shop to add The Amazing Spider-Man to my file for the first time in years!

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A Life in Love – My Tribute to Grandma

This piece is my eulogy for Grandma, delivered at her funeral on 8 August 2020.  The pictures throughout are family photos and the featured image, as with many of the pictures within, came from one of our many Friday night dinners at Grandma’s.

Grandma first asked me to write her eulogy ten or fifteen years ago.  Every year or two she’d circle back around to the request, double checking I remembered I said I’d do this and making sure I was still planning on it.  I always assured her I did and I would.  But even for me, someone who writes a lot for fun and is kinda paid to talk for a living, this is intimidating.  How do I begin to pay tribute to Grandma?  How do I begin to capture all she means to me? Continue reading

Stan Lee: A Reflection

There have been plenty of memorials and obituaries written to honor Stan Lee since his passing yesterday.  There’s nothing I can say about his life that isn’t being said/hasn’t already been said.  Yet, at the same time, I can’t not say anything.  I was talking to Jeff when the news broke.  He told me.  David called soon after.  Texts began coming not long after that.  As with many pop culture deaths, I find myself mourning someone who was a major part of my life despite our never having met.  Unlike most pop culture deaths however, few have influenced my life to the degree Stan Lee did.  His worlds and characters have shaped me since Mom bought me my first comic book – Web Of Spider-Man #12 – when I was four years old.  When I heard he’d died I was at a loss.  All I could do was read.  I had exams that needed to be graded (exams I got back to later that night) but for that moment in time, as I sat with the reality of his passing, the only place I could go to find comfort was back into the worlds he created. Continue reading

Mission: Impossible or James Bond? – Why I’m an M:I Kinda Guy

Growing up as an adolescent of the ‘90s the discussion of whether you preferred Mission: Impossible or James Bond for your spy-faring feature films was a resurrected area of pop culture discourse.  In 1995 Pierce Brosnan would debut as James Bond in GoldenEye, the first Bond film in six years, the longest gap ever between films in the franchise (at least as of this writing).  In 1996, Tom Cruise would star as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible, the first film adaptation of the TV series that ran from 1966-1973.  I’ve always gotten the sense that James Bond is the more beloved pop culture figure.  He obviously has the wider reach, with a film series spanning fifty-three years and twenty-six films.  But for my money (metaphorically speaking as well as literal money in the form of movie tickets and first VHS (!) then DVD purchases), 007 has nothing on the Impossible Missions Force. Continue reading

First Impressions: The Fantastic Four

This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for ages.  I originally envisioned it shortly following the “First Impressions: The X-Men” post I wrote last year.  But, for one reason or another, I always stopped short of finishing it.  Now, on the eve of the Fantastic Four’s return, shepherded by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli, the time is right.  So let’s take another trip down memory lane and revisit the very first Fantastic Four comic I ever read!  It was 1993 and the cover leapt out at me from the spinning rack in a local grocery store (the now long-gone Loblaws on W 12th St, if I remember correctly).  It was Fantastic Four #374 and, while I didn’t know it at the time, I was about to meet the characters who’d become my all-time favorite comic book team.  To this day, they still hold this place in my heart! Continue reading

From “Cowabunga!” to “Booyakasha!”: My Life in Ninja Turtle Memories

The unexpected emotional mix of finally sitting down to watch some of Nickelodeon’s 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series coupled with warm feelings of post-birthday nostalgia gave birth to this post.  You see, there are a lot of characters I’ve loved through my whole life but few I’ve experienced in as many different iterations as I have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  So I’m taking a walk down Memory Lane, looking at every incarnation of the Turtles I’ve met and exploring what they meant to me.  To be clear, this is not an exhaustive list of every single version of the Turtles.  There’s plenty of entries, sure, but the Turtles are prolific characters with parts of their mythology I’ve missed/yet to experience.  Still, this is a fairly impressive list if I do say so myself :).  With that being said, onward to an exploration of my life with the heroes in a half shell…TURTLE POWER. Continue reading

My Grail – The One Comic I Covet

Last week Kalie and I were in Indianapolis presenting at the PCA/ACA Conference on Popular Culture.  It was so much fun!  Both of our papers were well received (mine (as I’ve mentioned once or twice) explored Jason Aaron’s use of the Divine Feminine in The Mighty Thor) and the whole week was an enriching, stimulating experience.  It was exciting to meet so many other people who teach through popular culture and there were papers on just about everything you could imagine.  To see all these different scholars in all these different areas, utilizing pop culture and speaking to its value in an academic setting was incredible.  While we were there, Indiana’s Comic Con was going on down the street.  And THAT got me thinking about the one comic I covet… Continue reading

Thor’s Day Salutes: The Thor Comics I Fell In Love With

I’m back with another installment in this (clearly random in occurrence (but c’mon…the school year is back (and that means grading and lesson planning (so blogging itself becomes more random (to make room for other obligations))))) series saluting my love of Thor as I continue to get excited for Thor: Ragnarök.  As makes total sense to yours truly, there’s really no better day of the week to celebrate Thor than on the day named in his honor.  So let’s celebrate Thursday by remembering it literally means Thor’s Day and looking at why Thor comics captivated me as a kid! Continue reading

Who Is My Spider-Man?

My original plan was to re-watch all three of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man movies, both of Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man movies and then re-watch Captain America: Civil War in preparation for Spider-Man: Homecoming.  Then I was going to write this post about which film version I liked best.  It was going to be a sort of who-really-embodied-my-Spidey-the-best kind of a thing.  But a realization hit me.  While I’ve loved each and every Spider-Man I’ve seen swing across the screen in their own way (yes, I even see a bright and enjoyable silver lining to Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2), not one of them have felt like my Spidey.  However, this has nothing to do with writers, directors, or actors.  Rather, it has everything to do with when I grew up.  Continue reading

Miles + Gwen = One CLASSIC Team-Up!

For Lent this year I’ve given up making sassy/snarky comments while driving.  I’m a pretty positive guy…but I can be an impatient driver.  Now, when I feel I’m about to say something in that vein, I offer a prayer for the other driver instead.  It’s a prayerful effort to cultivate loving-kindness in my own thoughts and deeds and put more positive energy out into the world.  In that spirit, I can be cranky about needless crossovers (*cough* Civil War II *cough*) so I wanted to write about the recent six-part “Sitting In A Tree” crossover between Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen.  I really enjoyed it!  In addition to showcasing two amazing spider-people, it reminded me how much fun a good, old fashioned team-up can be.  For all my complaining (which I stand behind!) about crossovers forged in the service of Mammon, I’m giving a little love to one that was worth the cover price of admission. Continue reading