Many Faces, One Symbol

On July 6th, Marvel announced that after the conclusion of Civil War II a young woman named Riri Williams will take over for Tony Stark as Iron Man.  Fandom reacted as it always does.  There was intrigue.  There was optimism.  There was excitement.  Annnd there were the usual (tired) cries of it being a p.c.-driven agenda or proof that Marvel is out of ideas, echoed in the familiar refrain of, “I don’t mind a female/minority/etc. superhero…but why can’t they have their own identity??”  But I’d like to argue if you think Spider-Man is simply Peter Parker, you’ve missed the entire point.  Spider-Man represents so much more than Peter Parker.  Spider-Man is a symbol, an ideal.  The more people we see picking up that mantle, the more people we see embodying that symbol, the better.  This is as true for Spider-Man as it is for Iron Man or any comic book superhero. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel: Faith, Family, and Fandom

It should go without saying that Islam is a beautiful religion, deserving of reverence and respect.  Sadly and disturbingly, we live in a world where this still needs to be said.  So in this age of increasing (and terrifying) intolerance, we need Kamala Khan.  In this young Muslim, first generation Pakistani-American teenager who becomes the new Ms. Marvel, G. Willow Wilson has created the single most important hero of our age.  This is the most overtly theological post I’ve done so far and, as such, it’s very personal.  Exploring the intersection of the joy of comic books, living a life of faith, and teaching theology leads me to explore part of the very core of who I am. Continue reading