Oh, My Pop Culture Deities: It’s Tough to Be a God

You’d think that a comic based on an actual god figure from real-world mythology would be rife with potential for this column, but most of the time The Mighty Thor, which stars the new Jane Foster iteration of the character, doesn’t actually deal with much that could be considered theological in nature. However, the last three or so months’ worth of issues (#15-17, to be specific) have featured a very interesting conflict that gets at a meaty question. What does it mean to be a god? More specifically, does ultimate cosmic power come with a responsibility to one’s worshippers? How ought gods prove their power to their followers? This conflict is addressed through a competition that is both fascinating and horrifying.

(via the Marvel wikia)

Spoilers for the aforementioned issues below the jump.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Spirits

Web Crush Wednesdays

Mythology is super fun—though this is easy to forget when most of our access to it comes in textbook form. I’d love to soak up as many legends and stories from around the world as I can, but Wiki-walking can only get you so far, and often you can get lost in those walls of text and the academic language. Plus, how do you know where to start?

These epic tales of heroes, gods, demons and magical shenanigans were often meant to be told out loud, spread by word of mouth for the purpose of entertainment. A podcast, then, is the ideal modern medium to get yourself into these ancient tales. Today’s web crush Spirits is exactly that, and it comes with a bonus dose of friendship, feminism, and alcohol!

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American Gods Review: A Fascinating Glimpse at Gods Walking the Earth

american-gods-coverI’m not generally a fan of horror, and while Neil Gaiman perhaps isn’t specifically writing horror, his fantastical worlds are often quite scary. However, I love literary explorations of mythology, faith, life, and death, and most of his writing, from The Sandman to The Graveyard Book, deals with these themes in one way or another. As such, I’ve been meaning to read American Gods for a rather long time. With the TV adaptation of this book fast approaching, I finally picked it up. Gaiman succeeds, as always, at setting the perfect atmosphere and at creating mysterious characters. However, although I love the exploration of mythological and religious themes, there are also a couple of things that prevented me from completely falling in love with this book. I will delve into all of it below.

Spoilers for American Gods (the author’s preferred text version) to follow.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Summon: Ifrit from Final Fantasy

(via wiki)

(via wiki)

A while back, I wrote a post on Shiva as presented in the Final Fantasy series. To make a long story short, Final Fantasy isn’t very accurate. Nevertheless, its use of Shiva still got me interested in the original mythology. The same is true for a lot of the other summons, and so I thought it would be fun to look into their source material as well. Shiva has appeared in just about every game I’ve played, but another commonly recurring summon is Ifrit, a demon-like entity with awesome fire powers. Based on Middle Eastern stories, Ifrit’s use is nowhere near as culturally appropriative as Shiva’s, if only because Ifrit is not a deity at the center of a particular faith. Its presentation is still not quite accurate, so let’s delve into the differences between its use in Final Fantasy and Middle Eastern lore.

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Throwback Thursdays: Percy Jackson and the Olympians

It’s been years since I first read the first quintet of Percy Jackson books. (I still haven’t read the second.) I’ve been meaning to reread them for ages, though, and since I had a long weekend off work with no actual plans for the first time in… forever last weekend, I decided it was the perfect time to get cozy with a book or five.

percy jackson logo

Can you believe The Lightning Thief turned ten years old this year?

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Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: A Deity Field Guide to The Wicked + The Divine Part 3

Greetings, Fantheon, it has been far too long since last we reconvened. Welcome to the third installment of The Wicked + The Divine Deity Field Guide, detailing brief profiles on the series’ deities and their cultural/historical roots. Though we still know virtually nothing about the elusive final goddess Tara, far too many divine goodies have been revealed to put off this installment any further. In that spirit, let’s dive right into the holy mess that we encountered in the last six issues. Please be mindful that the bio for Persephone contains a major spoiler for #11.

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Magical Mondays: The Stagnation of Undine in Modern Tales Games

There are certain trends in media we’ve just become accustomed to over time, certain standards that become shorthand and we, as consumers, are either confused or intrigued when the media deviates or subverts from them. As a consumer of JRPGs, one of these staples for me is summon spirits.

Whether or not the group of main characters has a de facto summoner, it’s not uncommon to see the powerful, mythical beings called in to aid the protagonists with their unfathomable powers. Unsurprisingly, they typically take powers from the common elements—earth, fire, air, and water—while adding a few more esoteric ones such as light, darkness, and matter. I always look forward to seeing how these games try to put a new spin on these elements as well as the characters who personify them, but I can’t help but feel that some summon spirits end up stale in terms of direction. Namely, the summon spirit of water synonymous with the Tales series, Undine.

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