My friend and I came out of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 convinced that the Infinity Wars movies, and the big Avengers/Guardians crossover therein, were mostly going to consist of Tony Stark and Peter Quill trying to out-Daddy-Issue each other. As well as both having facial hair and a penchant for roguish one-liners, the two heroes have a few things in common, most notably their parental situation: like Tony, Peter Quill has a complicated and at times antagonistic relationship with his father that forms the emotional core of a whole movie, and a sense of wistful mourning for his mother, who was sweet, kind, and only shows up in a few scenes. She’s also dead due to circumstances that were in no way her fault, so they can bond over that as well. At this point, maybe Thor can chime in too, perhaps initiating a group hug, since he also has a complicated relationship with his main-character dad and grieves over his good and nurturing dead mum. Jeez, is Infinity Wars just going to be one big session of father-related angst and mother-related mourning?
Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father to main character status once, Marvel, and that’s shame on you. Fridge a kind mother and elevate a father twice, still shame on you. Do this three times for three different superheroes and it’s officially a pattern. What exactly is going on here, and why does it annoy me so much?
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.
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.
I love the Thor movies, and largely, it was Marvel’s take on Norse mythology that really got me involved in their comics. I started reading the Thor comics before the movies came out, and I have found myself beyond excited at each installment featuring the god of thunder. My favorite part of the story has always been the uncertainty surrounding Loki’s relationship with the rest of the family—the biggest problem here was that comics almost always focuses on Loki’s relationship with both Odin and Thor, and while that’s fine and all, it leaves out another person in the family.
We’ve talked before about the Law of Conservation of Magic: the idea that nothing comes from nothing and therefore everything must come from something. That is to say, well-written magic should come with some sort of cost. From the Equivalent Exchange of Fullmetal Alchemist to the consequences of fairy bargains everywhere, this concept is ubiquitous in magic-related fiction.
If you try to transmute a human, you’re gonna have a bad time.
But what if the exchange is always terrible? How can you justify using magic if you have to pay an awful price for it? The answer to that question can make or break the writing of a story. Continue reading →
Geek culture likes to consider itself pretty progressive. In general that’s a fair assessment: people who feel different or ostracized tend to sympathize with each other, and in this regard geeks and marginalized groups have something in common. In spite of this, however, problems and prejudices that exist in society on the whole do tend to endure in some form even amongst geeks, and biphobia is one such problem.
Biphobia is a constant struggle for bisexual people of any gender in ways that are superficially different, but which stem from one underlying idea: society’s obsession with wieners. Let me explain. In popular opinion, women who are bisexual are assumed to be straight and using their sexuality as a performance to gain male attention. Men who are bisexual are assumed to be gay but afraid to properly come out of the closet. Either way, the presumed be-all end-all is thirst for the mighty D, and geek culture is often guilty of this assumption as well.
Well, true believers, we’ve reached the seventeenth and final issue of Loki: Agent of Asgard, and in spite of the many annoyances up to this point, Ewing has done a pretty swell job of wrapping things up in a positive and meaningful way. The issue focuses on emotional resolutions more than tangible ones, which helps to clarify what Loki’s underlying character is really like after his several deaths and rebirths. As universe-ending cataclysms go, this one turned out minimally cliché and we finally seem to have gotten back to the series actually being about Loki—now that it’s over, of course.
Why do they all have beards? What is it with gods and beards?
Some people argue that humanity’s idea of religion began as a response to the great forces of the unknown. Death is the first and foremost of these; all religions grapple with death in some capacity. Following close behind are the forces of nature. Agrarian peoples from the earliest farmers to modern-day Californians feel the effects of drought. Many respond by praying for rain. Rain has become a powerful symbol in our culture to convey a variety of meanings, but more recently it’s more of a used-and-abused trope that’s lost much of its rich complexity.
I’m sure someone somewhere has already tallied how many full-scale apocalypses the Marvel universe has been through. The number is sure to be dwarfed only by the number of apocalypses it has avoided. Well, we were less lucky than average this time, because the gods are dead (along with everyone else) and reality has been destroyed. Way to jazz up a Wednesday afternoon. As I mentioned before, this latest disaster is part of a larger Marvel event called Secret Wars that has something to do with all the Nine Realms all smashing into each other, but the immediate problem in Loki: Agent of Asgard is that Evil Old Man Loki has aligned himself with Hela and freed Jormungandr to attack Asgard. Meanwhile, back on Earth, Loki Nouveau (ie “The God(dess) of Stories”) remembers only one clear thing from eir prior life, and it’s that Verity Willis was eir only real friend.
There’s something macabre about wearing your friend as jewelry.
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:
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*