Welcome to the fifteenth 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 find in life)! This time we’re looking at one of the most prominent themes around romantic love – how love heals, how the right person’s love can save us. When I began this series I made myself a promise. No alternate reality Peter Parkers. No movies. No TV shows. No other comic universes. I’d explore Peter Parker’s romantic exploits in Marvel’s main 616 universe and when I had exhausted those relationships, the series would end. Anna Maria Marconi will date Peter Parker in the 616 universe…but she dates “Peter” when he’s dead and his archenemy Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus is controlling his body. So she dated Doc Ock even though she thought she was dating Peter. I’m including their relationship as a) it’s a significant one in the 616, b) the reader alone knows it isn’t Peter, and c) most important of all, their relationship illustrates something about love Peter Parker himself isn’t yet mature enough to find on his own. It’s a trope that can’t be ignored when writing about love so here we are. Otto’s time as the Superior Spider-Man is one of comics’ greatest redemption stories. Reflecting on the role romantic love plays in his salvation helps us consider the role such love plays in our own healing and growth, too.
Reconsidering Harley Quinn: Just Who Is the Clown Princess of Coney Island?
Harley Quinn has had legions of loyal fans for ages. For a long time, I mainly knew her as the Joker’s girlfriend on Batman: The Animated Series. I knew DC had brought her into their comics’ continuity. I knew she and the Joker had broken up (maybe? sort of?). I knew she’d shifted from villain to antihero to star in her own comic. I’d heard her referred to as “DC’s Deadpool.” But what about her brought such adoration among readers? In a 2016 interview with Vulture, DC Comics’ Publisher and CCO Jim Lee said, “I refer to her as the fourth pillar in our publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.” That’s HUGE. Lee is equating Harley to DC’s Trinity, their Big Three, the foundation upon which DC is built. After reading the near 100 comics comprising Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s run on Harley Quinn (yes, I got excited and bought them all (no, I have no regrets)) I get it.
Rose Tyler and the Doctor: Bonding at the End of the World
One of the things I love contemplating about Doctor Who is each companion’s first trip in the TARDIS. Not their first meeting with the Doctor, when they get caught up in the wake of adventure, danger, and world-saving. But the first willing trip they take after the Doctor invites them to travel along with them for a while. While it’s not my favorite “first trip” episode, “The End of the World” (S1,E2) is the most fascinating to me. Just having helped the Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) save London from the Nestene Consciousness, a sort of living plastic that was controlling store mannequins, Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) bounds into the TARDIS in search of adventure. Where the Doctor decides to take her says so much about where he’s at on his own emotional journey. How she responds to this says so much about who she is and why the Doctor needs her. Continue reading
Mourning, Healing, and Bruce Springsteen
Last Tuesday, my grandfather died. He wasn’t sick for any length of time nor was he a sickly man by nature. He was in the hospital for just under two weeks when he passed away so it was certainly a shock to all of us. Such a sudden death is never easy for the family but, relatively speaking, it was certainly a blessing for Grandpa. As the dual waves of reality and sadness washed over me, I did what I always do in times of great mourning and pain. I sought solace in the comfort of family, friends, prayer, memories…and Bruce Springsteen’s 2002 album The Rising. Continue reading