What Would Steve Rogers Do?

On December 20, 1940, Captain America #1 went on sale, and the world learned the name Steve Rogers. The United States was nearly a year away from declaring war on Nazi Germany, but famously, Steve Rogers debuted with a right hook to Hitler’s jaw.


Despite the star-spangled costume and the hyper-patriotic code name, Steve never falls into the traps of American jingoism. He resiliently stands for the better angels of our nature, and for the highest ideals of the American experiment.

Last Friday night, a terrible crime was committed in Paris. As frightened citizens and visitors sought shelter, Parisians responded with the social media hashtag #PorteOuverte—open door—offering their homes to anyone who needed to get off the streets during that dark night. But an ocean away, twenty-six American governors gave in to the opposite urge, closing their doors to refugees fleeing the same evil.

In this world, in this America, Steve Rogers will return to theaters with Captain America: Civil Warstanding tall as a frightened world demands registration and monitoring of super heroes. And as cowardice and bigotry threaten fundamental American values, it’s time again to turn to the Star-Spangled Man.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: @ProBirdRights

We’ve done some very important things in this space, calling your attention to exciting creators, great games, and sharp analysis. Heck, you might even learn something.

This week, you’re getting a bird.

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Return to Westeros: “Sons of the Harpy” Review

Has there been a week in Westeros where this doesn’t apply?

everythingawfulYou know what’s really terrifying about the expression “Winter is Coming?” It means that winter is not yet here. Westeros creaks under a civil war which has destroyed most of the countryside, dragons rise in the east, and the White Walkers are returning, but this is still late autumn. This is still November.

Pictured: November

Pictured: November

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Return to Westeros: “The Wars to Come” Review

lilcerseiandfriendAs you might have noticed, I like talking about Game of Thrones. And, with its premiere last night, titled, “The Wars to Come”, I’ve finally got something new to talk about.

We’re roughly at the midpoint of this saga, now. While George R.R. Martin is still talking like he’ll write seven books, this is the man who once promised his editors a trilogy of Ice and Fire. With last-book splits in Harry PotterTwilight, and The Hunger Games, I think we can safely expect Game of Thrones to last eight years.

When we last left for the real world, the social order of Westeros had frayed like never before. Tywin Lannister, Hand to three of the past four kings, lies dead, murdered by his son Tyrion, the latter fled into exile. Cersei, Queen Regent and now the sole backer of her son, King Tommen, descends into paranoia as she recoils from the loss of her father and son. Two powerful pretenders remain, Stannis Baratheon and Daenerys Targaryen, and both gather foreign forces to claim a land which does not crave their rule; Stannis mortgages the realm to the Iron Bank of Braavos, and Dany leads monsters and mercenaries across the sea.

Violence, chaos, and power dynamics herald the start of the fifth season.

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Stark Justice: An Apologia for Ol’ Neddy Stark

Better Ned Than DeadThrough the A Song of Ice and Fire series and the first season of the TV show, the closest thing we’re given to a traditional fantasy hero is Eddard Stark. Affectionately known to friends and family as “Ned,” it’s a nickname for the rare kind man in Westeros. Ned Stark believes in law, justice, and honor; dangerous attributes in such treacherous terrain. But more than making him moral, it makes Ned wise, even though things, um, go south for him.

Spoilers below for Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings, and Storm of Swords, and the first four seasons of the show.

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Is a Revolution Without Bending a Revolution Worth Having?

(Here there be spoilers for all of The Legend of Korra. You have been warned, you giant babies.)

First, let’s take our conversation out of its context. I’m a sworn enemy of decontextualization, but we’ll fix it, I promise. Imagine that you haven’t seen the spoiler warning above, or read the title of my piece. Now, imagine that you live in a different country. Things have been strange lately; there was significant political upheaval a generation or two ago. However, it seems that affairs have re-normalized somewhat. People are going about their lives; industry has resumed what seems like normal function. Now, I’d like you to imagine that people are disappearing. Imagine that they are being taken from their homes in the middle of night, never to be heard from again. Imagine finding out that this is largely orchestrated by the powerful and secretive force tasked with protecting your country’s head of state and executing their will.

Mohammad Mossadegh

Mohammad Mossadegh

Some of you will note that this is very much like the situation that led up to the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, was overthrown in a coup d’etat orchestrated by the CIA and MI6 (yes, Americans, we did this). This allowed for the Shah of Iran and his military puppet government to rule in an absolute monarchy. Under his rule, with the help of SAVAK, a secret police agency tasked with domestic and external law enforcement, Iran held thousands of political prisoners. Many of these were intellectuals, dissidents, and revolutionaries. You’d agree that something must be done about a situation like this, wouldn’t you?

Now, imagine for a second that instead you lived in neighboring Iraq, where child soldiers fought in the armed forces as recently as a decade ago, facing punishment for any refusal. Certainly you’d agree that forcing children as young as twelve into armed service is among the most heinous of crimes. It’s the sort of thing that warlords in the developing world do. It’s the sort of thing that Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and UNICEF have whole campaigns to stop. Its association with Timothy McVeigh aside, the quotation goes: “the tree of liberty must, from time to time, be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson said that.

tumblr_inline_n84kt8yusw1s7csahSo, now that I’ve buried the lede about six fathoms deep, let’s recontextualize. What I’ve described is not dissimilar from what we discover the Earth Queen is doing in Book 3 of The Legend of Korra. She’s kidnapping the new airbenders, people as young as Kai, and forcing them into her airbender regiment, where they are beaten as a matter of course. Put another way, Hou-Ting is kidnapping children, torturing them, and forcing them to become soldiers. She does so with the entire force of the Earth Kingdom at her command, to say nothing of the rather impressive Dai Li. There’s no legal recourse to stop her. But, certainly you’d agree that this is unacceptable and that something must be done.

That’s pretty deep stuff for a children’s show. I raise these points because in Book 3, Legend of Korra essentially asks the same questions that it did in Book 1 with the Amon and the Equalists: If a system is or leader is fundamentally corrupt, unequal, or oppressive, to what lengths can or should one go to abolish it? Continue reading

Top 10 Fictional Geek Presidents

Well, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the day after a long and arduous election year. We are all tired and maybe upset about who won or maybe not (depending on your preference), but we are least glad it’s over.

So my geeky friends, no matter who won or lost, did you ever look back at the candidates and think “God, these guys suck—I wish this character from my comic book was real and running for President!”?

Well, we decided to have our own election! These are Lady Geek Girl and Friends‘ Top 10 Fictional Geek Presidents!

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