I recently sang the praises of the new Spider-Gwen series, but the illustrious Ms. Stacy is not the only spider-broad to get her own series coming out of the Edge of Spider-verse event. I meant to pick up the first issue of Silk when it came out last month, but my shop was sold out by the time I got there. I finally got my hands on the second printing of Silk #1 the other day, along with the first printing of the second issue, and I’m pleased to report that it’s a tremendously enjoyable read.
When you grow up reading a lot of genre fiction, especially young adult and high fantasy, a major turning point in your emotional growth is realizing that “the dark lord”, as you have come to know this all-too-common character archetype, doesn’t really exist. In reality, evil as an ideal is never made manifest in a single adversary whose sole objective is to destroy and corrupt the goodness in the world. Sure, there are people who are “bad” from your own perspective, and bad qualities like selfishness, prejudice, and lack of empathy are generally culturally agreed upon, but even the worst people are generally heroes in their own minds, people who have not yet been shown the error of their ways. No one sets out to be Sauron or the White Witch or Voldemort, and no matter how much power and influence bad people achieve, I know of no instance where anyone has claimed that their ultimate goal was the advancement of the cause of evil.
Most frameworks of morality grasp this concept pretty well: that good and evil are not absolutes, and that humans inherently have the capacity for both positive and negative behaviors. The major exception seems to be in certain camps of modern Christianity, which assigns a motive and influence to Satan that is very much comparable to the fictional and largely metaphorical presence of Sauron and other prototypical “dark lords.” While in Tolkien’s case, Sauron was a metaphor for industrialization, and in the case of children’s books, morality is artificially externalized and simplified for the sake of young readers, the Christian reading of Satan is – as far as many active faith communities are concerned – neither metaphorical nor exaggerated. Satan is literally a dark wizard.
Virtually any time that something happens at the intersection of Black people and comics, I get a message on Facebook. That’s because my friends love me, I’m sure, but it occasionally leads me to be inundated with eight or nine messages about the same thing. Take, for example, this video of Michelle Rodriguez, which was sent to me by about twelve people a month ago:
In the video, Michelle offers a few choice words on diversity in casting: “Stop stealing white superheroes.” It caused a bit of an uproar in some circles, and Michelle made a video clarifying her statements. But first, let’s address the premise itself. Are all of these superheroes, “originally” white, whose races are being changed, being stolen? First, a superhero is functionally a mythological entity (yes, they are—I will fight you), and cannot be stolen. They can, however, be appropriated, and this may be closer to what Rodriguez meant. My initial reaction was confusion, both personal and academic. As an individual, I was confused at why another person of color objects to the practice of diversifying white characters, especially Green Lantern who has already seen a Latino character—Kyle Rayner—in a print run.
Academically, I was confused because the notion that white characters can be “stolen” or “appropriated” when they are primarily what’s made available to young people of all races, while even our fantasies are “regulated by white believability” is troubling. Even more than that, myths are shaped, stolen, borrowed, passed around, and stripped for parts regularly. That’s their nature and cannot be separated from their purpose. It’s what they do. If you don’t believe me, on the left is a picture of Chinese Jesus.
There’s no universe in which I’m sad that Thor is a woman in the newest print run, and I don’t feel that men have lost anything; Thor was a man for all comic print runs beforehand (except for that time he was a frog). A little turnabout is fair play. Similarly, I’m not upset that Heimdall was played by Idris Elba or that Johnny Storm is being played Michael B. Jordan. I’m not even upset that Donald Glover keeps teasing us with this Spider-Man thing, or that Tyrese Gibson keeps telling us how ready he is to play Green Lantern (although I wish they’d stop teasing us, I’m getting chafed over here).
Mothers tend to get a bad rap in our media, whether it’s Disney movies where everyone’s mother is dead, the ever-present evil stepmothers in most fairy tales, or the general overall portrayal of mothers as either overbearing or abusive and neglectful. Sometimes the portrayal of mothers isn’t so much harmful as just poorly written. Mothers also suffer from being portrayed as serenely perfect or just never being given a personality at all. They are shunted to the side and made into basically a background character with a name in favor of the father taking the center stage (such is the case in Supernatural, Batman, Superman; in fact, a lot of comics fit the bill here). Perhaps it’s for this reason that fandoms tend to portray mothers so poorly in fanfiction. Like in regular media, fanfiction tends to show mothers as either abusive, dead, or nonexistent, even if the source material contradicts such things. Obviously this isn’t always the case, but we have discussed before how fandoms aren’t always kind in their portrayal of women, and mothers are certainly no exception. And today I want to talk about the Star Trek fandom’s portrayal of Winona Kirk in particular. Continue reading
Now, I can say that I am not the type of person who is averse to change. Oh, I’ll have my opinion about any changes that come into my life, but I’m not the type of person who is upset with a simple change. Especially when it comes to comics. I understand that certain things must, and should, change if we are ever to move forward. But there are some things I have a problem with, in comics or otherwise.
Have you ever read a series of books with several main characters you love and then all of a sudden a new book in that series is introduced, but it’s with entirely new characters that you never met before and know nothing about? Yeah, I hate that. Even if the book is good, I have such a tough time getting into it because the whole time I’m just wondering who these new fuckers are and where the hell my old characters are. Well, that’s kind of how I’m feeling right now about the Runaways comics.
With Game of Thrones starting up again next month, I figured it was about time to get back into things in Westeros. For some, this would mean marathoning the previous season. For me, it apparently means reading AU fanfic. While I wanted to read a story starring my favorite player of the game, Margaery Tyrell, when you give me an AU where Jamie Lannister is an author and a Brienne who is over him before she knows him and it’s a ship fic, how can I refuse? Plus, look at how Jaime is introduced!
Jaime Lannister has run into some trouble in Tijuana and his manuscript is going to be a few weeks late. Jaime Lannister has broken all of his limbs skydiving in Jamaica, please extend his deadline just a little bit more. Jaime Lannister has contracted malaria on an African safari, but he assures me his manuscript will be ready six weeks from now.
I had to make an exception. I simply had to.
It’s been a busy week, so by the time I realized I was meant to be writing this post, I didn’t have much time to revisit some old fave. A quick scan of my bookshelf—well, one of them—offered a solution in The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, a collection of short stories by Vivian Vande Velde that I hadn’t read through in ages. Originally published in 2002, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem comprises six different re-tellings of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, each from a different perspective.