Spider-Man: Homecoming Sticks Its Landing

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Spider-Man: Homecoming. I did really enjoy Tom Holland’s outing as Spidey in Captain America: Civil War, but I was kind of out of the loop for the pre-movie publicity (I barely even remember the trailers) and I felt going in more like I was seeing it out of MCU obligation than genuine hype. Plus, I still had some lingering resentment from the whole “pushing back the entire MCU production schedule to slot another white dude in” thing.

Coming out of Spider-Man: Homecoming, however, I had a big ol’ grin on my face. This movie was fantastically well-crafted and cast, and was loads of fun while also telling a heartfelt and complex story at its core.

Major plot spoilers after the cut! Please don’t read if you are planning to see it; it’s really worth going in unspoiled!

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Web Crush Wednesdays: The Bright Sessions

I’ve been on quite the podcast binge lately; between Revolutions, The Adventure Zone, The Black Tapes, and my ongoing attempt to listen to every episode of Stuff You Should Know. That said, I’m not quite sure how I stumbled onto this week’s web crush—maybe a mention on my Tumblr dash?—but I’m glad I did. The Bright Sessions is a fascinating podcast about a woman—Dr. Bright—who specializes in therapy for atypicals, people with various powers. The show is a great blend of X-Men-like powers, teen drama, conspiracies, secrets, and complex moral issues, alongside a positive portrayal of mental healthcare and therapeutic coping mechanisms.

Minor spoilers for the show below the jump!

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Trailer Tuesdays: Thor: Ragnarok

We’re lucky enough to be getting three MCU movies this year, even if I was a bit underwhelmed by the first one. The casting news about Thor: Ragnarok had me pretty hyped for this movie, but now that I’ve seen the trailer, I’m only about 40% hype. The remaining 60% is confusion.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Rhythm and Robotics by Laiska

Overwatch recently introduced some new characters into its ever-growing world, including a new playable hero. And while the giant centaur-like Omnic tank Orisa is an interesting addition to the fighting lineup, her creator is more interesting to me. Efi Oladele is an eleven-year-old inventor from the highly advanced African city of Numbani. Despite her young age, she’s already received worldwide attention after receiving a prestigious grant for her robotics work. After a mysterious attack at the Numbani International Airport, Efi was inspired to use her grant money to create a new protector for her city from an old OR15 defense bot. Thus, Orisa was born. Orisa is well-intentioned but still has a childlike innocence despite her many fighting capabilities, and Efi, while a genius, is also still an adorable preteen. The bot and her creator are to put it in simple terms, too precious, too pure, so I was excited to stumble upon a fic that captured that, especially since it hasn’t been that long since they were introduced.

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Dangerous Black Superheroes

If you’ve read much of my other work on this website, you’re probably looking at the title and going, “What? But he’s always linking to that piece over at Jezebel about how brown kids deserve more brown superheroes!” Well, two things about that: 1) I’d probably do just as well linking you to “A Superhero That Looks Like My Son” and 2) they absolutely do, but I’m concerned that this mandate might encourage us to settle for just about any Black superhero, when that is simply not enough. We do owe it to children of color, to say nothing of LGBTQ+ youth and others, to represent their diversity in superheroes. But first, let’s deal with why it is that comics and superheroes matter so much.

Perseus_Cellini_Loggia_dei_Lanzi_2005_09_13The easy answer is that superheroes aren’t just fantasies; they’re deities. In our modern context, where our media at least appears to be pluralistic and decentralized, our deities come in all forms, and some of them wear capes. I say that to express that superhero stories are modern mythologies. They’re a method by which we represent the best of our culture to ourselves, and also by which we work out the issues currently facing our society. We’re prone to associate the word “myth” with things that didn’t actually happen—events strictly in the realm of fantasy. But take, for example, the story of Perseus and Medusa. Perseus goes on a hero’s journey, beheads Medusa, rescues Andromeda, etc., etc. Clearly a story. Many of the great mythographers of the 20th century, however, regard this myth as a representation of an actual event. From the third volume of Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God:

 The legend of Perseus beheading Medusa means, specifically, that “the Hellenes overran the goddess’s chief shrines” and “stripped her priestesses of their Gorgon masks,”…that is to say, there occurred in the early thirteenth century B.C. an actual historic rupture, a sort of sociological trauma, which has been registered in this myth.

Pictured: Culture Hero

Pictured: Culture Hero

All that to say that the myths passed on by a society are not simply the idle results of primitive beliefs or childish minds. Even if they do not encode actual events, they record perspectives, cultural norms and ideals, and desires. Thus, when we write superhero stories, we are telling tales about idealized versions of ourselves. If my little mini-lecture about occidental mythology was not convincing, take Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That film could not more blatantly be about the relationship between freedom and security, the tension between individual liberty/honor, and the modern surveillance state. Plainly, it is a 170 million dollar exploration of one our society’s most pressing issues. Continue reading

Left Behind: A Survival Story

jpgGentle readers, a little while ago I promised to review the new The Last of US DLC when it came out. Titled Left Behind, it was released on February 14th, which, among other things, was the same day that Ellen Page came out of the closet. This will become important later. In any case, because of a hateful thing that I call a “job”, I didn’t get to download and install it until today. It took me a couple hours to make my way through, with lots of pausing to gush about various parts. My review can be summed up thusly: it is important, and it is awesome.

My editors are telling me that I have to write more than that, so I’ll start by telling you why it’s awesome. Left Behind opens on a series of flashbacks which you’ll recognize if played the base game, a scene where Joel is gravely injured. Now, in the normal game, Ellie shoots her way out the front door, Ellie and Joel get on a horse, Joel falls off, fade-to-black, wake up in the Colorado wilderness. You start Left Behind playing through the story of how Ellie gets Joel patched up and manages to move him after he passes out. This adventure is interpolated by the story of Ellie and Riley, which you may remember was mentioned at the end of The Last of Us.

left-behind-dlc-release-last-of-us rileyThat story opens with a flashback to Riley, who, not for nothing, is a dead ringer for what you’d imagine a young Marlene to look like. She has reappeared in Ellie’s life after a long absence (about forty-five days) and surprises her by sneaking into her military school bedroom. After a confrontation about Ellie thinking that Riley was dead and Riley having joined the Fireflies, they venture off to rediscover their friendship via mischief in a local mall. Cut back to the mall in Colorado, where Ellie is attempting to collect the necessary supplies to suture Joel’s wound, and must move earth and sky to do so. I’ll get back to plot in a second, but it was at about this point in Left Behind that I noticed that Ellie’s sprint was slower in the snow.

(Fair warning: major spoilers after the jump.)

The Mighty Avengers #1

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Saika: I’m starting to consider the possibility that Marvel has a psychic on staff. How else could they have perfectly timed the release of The Mighty Avengers #1, a comic that unbenches and gives the spotlight to several well-loved PoC heroes, to coincide with their not-so-Distinguished Competition’s putting like eight feet in its mouth last week?

Ink: Speaking of eight feet, do you know who’s completely unbearable? Superior Spider-Man, aka Otto Octavius in Peter Parker’s body. This issue opens with the first of several chump villains, the Plunderer. As he and his henchmen attempt to separate Horizon Labs from their hi-tech doodads, they are confronted (which is a euphemism for beat about the head and body) by Cage’s new Heroes for Hire crew. Superior Spider-Man joins the brawl against the Plunderer, and ridicules the gang for their mercenary behavior, right after giving the etymology of the word mercenary. That’s what’s different about our soon-to-be Avengers: they have to keep the lights on.  After being abandoned by White Tiger, the team retreats, leaving its individual members, which includes the new Power Man (Victor Alvarez) and the Blue Marvel, to contemplate their future.

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