Spider-Man and The Spider Family: A Look At What Might Have Been…

This is the latest installment in my series exploring romantic archetypes in literature and in life through Spider-Man comics.  So far I’ve used Peter’s relationship with the Black Cat as a lens to examine our relationships with the people we can’t stop flirting with even though we know it’ll be trouble yet we passionately jump in anyway.  Then I used Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane to consider the idea of a Soul Mate as well as the experience of finding and losing “the one.”  This time I’m looking at the alternate reality comic series The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows as a way to contemplate the romantic idea of the “What if…?” person (or people) we all have in our lives. Continue reading

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Spider-Man: Life Story – An Evocative Argument for Letting Superheroes Age

I’m not trying to be hyperbolic when I say, Spider-Man: Life Story is the future of the comic book industry.  Now I don’t mean to imply the comics industry as a whole is going to follow Chip Zdarsky’s elegant lead with every comic.  I’m just saying I think they should.  In Spider-Man: Life Story, Zdarsky (accompanied by my all-time favorite Spidey artist Mark Bagley (yay!)) explores what Peter Parker’s life could have been like had he aged naturally, with each issue of this six issue miniseries touching on one decade in Peter’s life.  For example issue #1 is set in 1966, four years after Peter was bitten by the radioactive spider (as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Spidey in 1962 (see how that works?)).  Issue #2 looks at the ‘70s and so on as Peter ages in real time.  He isn’t perpetually stuck in his late 20’s or early 30’s.  Four issues in, I’ll confidently say this will stand as one of the greatest Spider-Man stories ever told.  It’s the most interested I’ve been in Peter Parker’s adventures as Spider-Man in almost twenty years too.  In allowing Peter to age, Zdarsky has illustrated the hidden potential of the comic book genre. Continue reading

How To Top Thanos Vol. 1 – Annihilus

The first generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – now officially “The Infinity Saga”[1] – has come to a close with Avengers: Endgame.  While I’m only beginning to process all the film had to offer, I still can’t help imagining what will come next.  More Black Panther!  More Captain Marvel!  More Dr. Strange!  Plus we know there are movies in the works for new characters like the Eternals and Shang-Chi.[2]  But, as the name “Infinity Saga” implies, it’s not all about the heroes.  The name points towards the reality that the past eleven years and twenty-two films all led to our heroes’ iconic encounter with the Mad Titan Thanos, in an attempt to stop his destruction of half of all life with the Infinity Stones.  So, thinking of the future of the MCU naturally begs the question…what villain comes next?  Who can possibly follow Thanos??  My (first) guess?  Annihilus – the Living Death that Walks.  BOOM. Continue reading

#DontSpoilTheEndgame – What Compels Us to Spoil Things?

In the weeks leading up to Avengers: Endgame, I did what any conscientious fan has to do now – I got off social media, stopped reading any and all articles online, and stopped viewing video clips and interviews with the cast and the Russos.  I didn’t want the conclusion of a story I’ve watched unfold for a decade inadvertently spoiled for me.  In the days leading up to the film and the days following its release, the hashtag #DontSpoilTheEndgame began to trend as the stars of the film and the Marvel Studios/Disney marketing machine urged people not to ruin anything for the fans who hadn’t seen it yet.  Of course people still did.  Then Marvel Studios/Disney did.  Apparently the whole “don’t spoil it” thing’s cutoff is two weekends.  Then the spoilers came fast and they were BIG.  It leaves me asking, what is wrong with people??  Why must we publicly discuss twists/the end at all? Continue reading

Tony Stark – Marvel’s Cinematic Masterpiece

“Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” – with four words Joss Whedon defined the character of Tony Stark for a generation.  But it was never the words alone that transformed a b-level character into a worldwide icon and the anchor for a groundbreaking interconnected cinematic universe.  It was the man inside the armor delivering those lines.  While it’s easy to forget, eleven years and twenty-two films in, back in 2008 Marvel Studios was far from a sure thing.  Marvel had sold their most successful characters (Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four) to other studios and was left to make their own movies with their second tier.  Robert Downey Jr. made it work.  He incarnated Tony Stark perfectly, seamlessly blending cockiness and charisma, arrogance and vulnerability, snark and heart.  He presented a character who resonated and who meant something.  He carried the world of comic books into the mainstream on his armored shoulders, all but single-handedly paving the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  No matter how much brilliance followed in his wake, this is why Tony Stark will always be Marvel’s cinematic masterpiece to me. Continue reading

Team Cap: A Realization

This is a sequel of sorts, to one of the earliest pieces I ever wrote on this site.  However, it isn’t a piece I was planning on writing now or, if I’m being honest, ever.  I wasn’t planning on writing tonight as I’m in D.C. for the PCA/ACA National Conference on Popular Culture.  My week’s focus is attending exciting panels and presenting my paper on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  So writing wasn’t on the agenda.  However I HAD to write because something’s been gnawing and I had to express it.  You see, last night my pre-Avengers: Endgame marathon came to Captain America: Civil War and, well, something struck me – something I never thought I’d see or say or believe.  But here we are. Continue reading

Captain Marvel – Where the MCU’s Been and Where It’s Going

I went into Captain Marvel with pretty high expectations.  While I felt the marketing Marvel did for the film was subpar, this was still the Marvel movie I was most excited about this year.  It was also the one I had the highest expectations for.  Yes, I will be in line for Avengers: Endgame with everyone else, ready to see how the first generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to an end.  But Captain Marvel’s the movie I was waiting for.  With that in mind, I wanted to talk a little bit about the film (no spoilers) but also about the MCU in general  After my first (and second) viewing of the film, I found myself contemplating how Carol Danvers was brought to life on the big screen and also what the future of the MCU will look like with her and Black Panther at the fore. Continue reading