Batwoman: Free of Guilt, Driven by Faith

Kate Kane, the Batwoman, is a remarkable character.  Even after a lifetime of being bored by Batman, I found her so compelling James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics – with Batwoman leading Batman’s team in Gotham – became a permanent part of my pull list.  Her solo Rebirth Batwoman title, penned by Marguerite Bennette and Tynion IV, soon followed.  Last Christmas I was excited to find trade collections of her earlier New 52 adventures had made their way under the tree.  What draws me to Batwoman is, while she wears the bat symbol, she transcends the most serious faults we see in the Batman.  In so doing, she’s not just a character I connect with and love reading about.  She’s also one who instructs and inspires transformation in her readers, as only the most important characters do. Continue reading

Ghost Rider – A Vision of the Spirit of Vengeance in 2020

As a character, the Ghost Rider fascinates me.  But, with the exception of the ‘90s Spirits of Vengeance title that teamed the Dan Ketch-possessed-Ghost Rider with his (then) demon-free first host Johnny Blaze, I’ve read very few of his comics.  Looking back, outside of movies like Ghostbusters 2 (which scared the $#!T out of me), Spirits of Vengeance was really my first foray into horror.  Well, horror-lite.  Well, horror-lite for a comic book.  Well, after I’ve come to enjoy things like Penny Dreadful, It Follows, and The Shining and have had to endure horrors like Hereditary (WORST THING EVER), I wouldn’t really call Spirits of Vengeance “horror” anymore.  It’s more a supernatural thriller.  But for young me, it was the first time I willingly and intentionally entered the (Ghostbusters-free) world of demons, possessions, and fiery hellscapes.  Lately, I’ve found myself thinking of the Ghost Rider.  A lot.  I can’t stop imagining what shape this Spirit of Vengeance would take if it flamed into being in 2020. 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

The Joker Examined – Cesar Romero and Batman (1966)

Alright, so it’s officially October now right?  That means our thoughts turn towards things spooky and scary.  In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be interesting to use a character I’ve always found particularly terrifying to muse on the philosophical nature of evil.  In so doing, I can jump from fictional frights to the true terror that exists in the world around us.  Nothing says “holiday/seasonal fun” like wrestling with the darkness that can grow in the heart of the human soul right?  Haha, nope!  Sounds fun!  This, of course, naturally brings us to the Joker. Continue reading

Contemplating Infinity

The Marvel Cinematic Universe made movie history in 2012, bringing all of the characters from their solo franchises together in the shared-universe extravaganza The Avengers.  (And every other movie studio has been trying to play catch-up and duplicate it ever since.)  The MCU will try to make history once again as the size of the team-up and the danger of the conflict both escalate dramatically in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.  Inspiration for this major movie event will (most likely) be drawn from 1991’s The Infinity Gauntlet miniseries, a story as epic as it was anxiety-producing.  At least it made me anxious! 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