No Really, Trust Me: Pan’s Review of Loki: Agent of Asgard #14

Welp, the whole Marvel universe is coming to an end. Again. You know, as usual, thanks to yet another over-arching Marvel tie-in event called Secret Wars that Loki: Agent of Asgard has been awkwardly shoehorned into. To be honest, I have only the most general idea of what is going on in the rest of this tie-in, because like most people I can’t be bothered to read dozens of other series in conjunction with this one, but suffice to say that the world is ending. This marks the fourth such multi-series tie-in in just fourteen issues of Agent of Asgard, which leaves very little room for the actual title character of the series to develop while ey is busy playing backup to everyone else’s central plotlines.

Then again, there is the issue of whether or not the title character even is the same title character that we started the series with. The awkward young Loki we have come to know (and love?) has now been remade yet again into the bedraggled, slightly sickly-looking “God of Stories” who seems to have inherited only the vaguest impressions of young Loki’s memories.

This was the only panel that mattered, tbh.

This was the only panel that mattered, tbh.

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Reconstruction for White Boys—Role Models in Comics

thankshawkeyeThe toxic masculinity at the heart of nerd culture has been exposed—most noisily through Gamergate, but via plenty of other incidents as well. While sexism has been the most obvious motivator for these reactionaries, spillover into racism, homophobia, and transphobia are par for the course. At a fundamental level, this burst of nastiness is a reaction to the first real challenge to the privileged position of white men in nerd culture.

Things have degenerated into something of a civil war in nerd culture, and while it rages on, it is becoming abundantly clear that the good guys are going to win this one. I’m not so optimistic as to say that hatred and oppression will disappear, in nerd culture or anywhere else, but there is at least a growing consensus that those things are wrong, and deserving of criticism.

The doors are open, and white men no can longer dominate. But this change comes only after generations of being told that those stories are universal and vitally important. For years, white men never needed to share the stage, and the tales of others were pushed away. As we finally start to knock down the worldview that so deeply privileges one identity, it becomes imperative to reconstruct whiteness and masculinity as something new. Before, the construction of these identities was deeply rooted in claiming entitlement to a supreme position. Now, we need a construction which both rejects that entitlement and recognizes what enormous privilege remains.

Terrorist organizations, like the Ku Klux Klan, forced Reconstruction to end in the American South before its time, leading to an enormous and destructive backslide for civil rights. White men in nerd culture are now threatening or executing political violence for the same purposes. We need reconstruction to make sure they do not succeed. Comics, so long at the forefront of everything toxic about nerd masculinity and exclusivity, have taken up the call, and are finally white, male characters into new roles which fit in a diverse world. With any luck, these are not just changing stories, they’re going to be changing readers.

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No Really, Trust Me: Pan’s Review of Loki: Agent of Asgard #13

At long last, here comes Verity to save the day! But I’m getting ahead of myself; last you all heard in #12, Loki was still tied up and on fire as Future Loki explained the immutability of fate. That condition persists, but now with the understanding that said fire is metaphorical fire, and in the conflagration, Loki is confronting the specters of eir former selves as future Loki goes right on cackling, like he do. In the dreary headspace Loki finds emself in, Original Loki and Kid Loki both wait, swathed in an eerie green glow, to give em life advice.

What's a group of Lokis called? A murder? A fib? A failure?

What’s a group of Lokis called? A murder? A fib? A failure?

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Silk Was Worth the Wait

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.

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Ethnic Superhero Season, or What Michelle Rodriguez Can Teach Us About Believability

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).

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No Really, Trust Me: Pan’s Review of Loki: Agent of Asgard #12

In the highly unlikely event that anyone has forgotten the incredibly compromised position our hero found emself in at the end of Agent of Asgard #11, allow me to recap in brief:

  • No friends
  • Mostly naked
  • Tied to a chair

Up to speed? Good. With things looking unusually grim even by Loki’s standards, Evil Future Loki takes the opportunity to regale his captive audience with the story of why he—in all his evil, bitter old man-ness—is Current Loki’s only possible fate. Of course Evil Future Loki is a vicious madman, but under the circumstances, it’s becoming hard to disbelieve him.

For the sake of clarity, I find it prudent to point out that while Current Loki is genderqueer and is referred to using the neutral pronouns ey/em on this blog, Future Loki seems to reject, and even mock, this facet of his past self’s identity, so Future Loki is referred to as he/him.

*sounds of Stannis Baratheon raging in the distance*

*sounds of Stannis Baratheon raging in the distance*

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All-New Hawkeye #1: Memory, Trauma, and Who Are These New People Writing My Hawkeyes?

hawkeyenumber1coverOkay, if you’re a comics fan, or a sci-fi/fantasy fan in general, you’re probably pretty comfortable with time being less of a straight line, and more a mixed-up ball of timey-wimey… stuff. That said, it probably threw you a little bit to see All-New Hawkeye launch negative six weeks after the conclusion of its predecessor, Matt Fraction’s beloved Hawkeye. Oh well; Book One’s use of flashbacks helps you take the odd ordering in stride.

In any case, the adventures of Clint & Kate are now in the hands of Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez, under the editorial guidance of superstar Sana Amanat. Amanat—now Marvel’s Director of Content & Character Development—headed up Fraction’s Hawkeye, and her portfolio includes Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel, Daredevil, and of course, Marvel’s emerging flagship, Ms. Marvel herself, Kamala Khan.

shortangrymanpunchespeoplewolverinekamalaWell, then, I suppose it’s worth giving this one a chance.  

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