Thank you and good luck with finals!
I'm in desperate need of 3 more tickets for our graduation, Monday, May 18, 2015. If anyone has an extras they don't need, please let me know! I'd greatly appreciate any amount of tickets. I really want my whole family to be able to go and only need 3 more tickets.
Thank you and good luck with finals!
"Love Will Bring You to Your Gift," "Color Them Black," and "Death-Defying Heroes" in the SUperhero Reader
Jennifer Stuller’s article, “Love Will Bring You to Your Gift” in the Superhero Reader demonstrates female superheroes and their importance to comics. Stuller outlines three themes of love in relation to female superheroes which are redemption, collaboration and compassion. She defines, “Redemption comes through a personal quest to make amends for past wrongs, often with guidance from a partner or a community. This definition of redemption emphasizes the belief that there is an innate good in all of us and allows for second chances. And many superwomen believe that anyone can change and grow into a better person” (217). We saw this through Wonder Woman as her main mission was not to kill her enemies but make them better people, especially the female villains in her comics. Also in the Fantastic Four comics, Sue Storm demonstrated this as she stood up for Namor’s character despite his real intentions. Similarly, Alicia Masters in the Fantastic Four comics sees the good in the Silver Surfer and tries to guide him. Stuller describes, “Collaboration with friends, family, or community is common to the female hero—not because she is incapable of succeeding on her own, but because she is more successful when she recognizes, encourages, and utilizes the talents of others” (221). We saw this in the Wonder Woman Chronicles where Etta Candy and her Holliday College sorority sisters consistently helped Wonder Woman on most of her missions. I always assumed it was because she wasn’t fully capable of being successful without their help but Stuller disagrees. She sees this dependency on others to be a trait of female heroes being able to encourage others to join her in her journey. And last but not least, Stuller characterizes, “Compassion is an act of selfless love often born out of empathy and an essential component of the love ethic that drives heroes to action without expectation of reward… Their compassionate actions not only save others, but also inspire them to find and perfect the heroic in themselves” (227-28). The compassion of superheroes is what inspires others to be more like them. They’re compassionate about saving the world and to us that’s what makes them heroic. We, too, can be compassionate about something and could potentially inspire others or make a change in the world.
In Adilifu Nama’s article “Color them Black” from the Superhero Reader Nama demonstrates the power of including superheroes of different races in comics being extremely important to comic book history. Nama places great emphasis on Black Canary’s part in addressing racism. By illustrating how she, “…delve into the recesses of her own heart and mind to root out racist motivations, her action implied that personal reflection was an equal or possibly more important and effective step toward eliminating racism than organized political confrontation of institutional racism” (257). Through Black Canary’s personal reflection, the readers are influenced to believe that racism can be eliminated through personal reflection. I found this to be very relevant to racism today because racism is a personal belief that can only be eliminated by the individual. Superheroes such as Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Black Canary, Nama says, “…symbolized the need for whites to take ownership of their white privilege, acknowledge the feelings of guilt, and most importantly strive for personal transformation. Ultimately the comic suggested that the most viable solution for ending racism in America was for its white citizenry to become introspective and mindful of their racial prejudices, a solution that did not require one to possess superhuman powers” (257-58). I was unaware of these superheroes addressing world issues such as racism which was pleasantly surprising. Not only did these superheroes address racism, but they also distinguished the underlying problem to be within individuals. With or without powers, these superheroes encouraged the elimination of racism to come from individuals reflecting on their racial prejudices and making a change.
In Henry Jenkins’s article “Death-Defying Heroes” from the Superhero Reader, Jenkins illustrates the importance of death or loss within comics. I found his personal experience with comics and his mother’s death to be extremely touching. His essay is about what it “means to consume and be consumed by superheroes” (296). Superheroes are so much more than just characters within a story. Today I went to lunch and overheard a young boy who looked about 5 years old tell his parents that everyone wants to be a superhero. I couldn’t help but agree with his statement. So many people want some sort of aspect that superheroes have such as their strength, their superpowers, their secret identities, etc. Being a superhero is so appealing to children, because it gives them something to aspire to be. Jenkins emphasizes, “What separated the villains from the heroes wasn’t the experience of loss, but what they did after that loss, how it shaped their sense of themselves and their place in the world. Some were strengthened by loss, others deformed” (303). In most of the comics we’ve read this semester, both villains and superheroes are influenced by either the deaths of their loved ones or another significant loss resulting in their fate as villain or hero. Both, Batman and Dr. Doom, choose their fate as hero and villain because of their parent’s deaths.
Jenkins brings up the topic of how superheroes are just like us and strengthened or weakened by deaths of their loved ones. Jenkins powerfully states, “I came away with a new understanding of why the superheroes hold onto their grief, their rage, their anguish, and draw upon it as a source of strength. At one point in my life, I read those stories to learn what it was like to have the power and autonomy of adulthood. Now, I read them to see how you confronted death and came out the other side, how mourning forces you to reassess who you are and what your goals are and what you owe to the people who brought you into the world” (303). I completely agree with Jenkins statement because reading about these superheroes and the grief that forced them to make a change in their direction in life is inspiring. Personally, I experienced the same realization as do most of the superheroes we’ve read about. After my grandma passed away, I was first weakened and lost but then I realized my purpose in life is to help others. That realization allowed me to realize what I really wanted to do in my life was become a pediatric nurse. Although I’ll be graduating from CSUN with an English Literature degree, I took nursing prerequisites as well and my goal is to go to nursing school after I graduate.
Although we’ve read many diverse comics in our class, the Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang is by far my favorite graphic novel we’ve read along with Ms. Marvel. I couldn’t put it down after starting it. In chapter 1, “The Green Turtle Chronicles,” we’re introduced to Hank and his family. I was really irritated with Hank’s mom considering how judgmental she was towards American women. Seeing her discriminate against American women, confused me because I can only assume Americans discriminate against her for being Chinese. Hank’s mom made off-putting statements such as, “Such fat arms! If I had those sausages hanging from my shoulders I’d never wear sleeves like that” and “Such a lack of shame! Like a two-bit whore going to a funeral” (12). She ridiculing the appearances of the American women walking down the street in front of her which I wasn’t expecting as I read. Along with Hank’s mom unusual behavior towards Americans, there are a lot of racist insults towards the Chinese such as when the robber says, “Don’t you understand English?! Driv-ee the car-ee!” (12) He also says, “Mouthy Ching-Chong!” (13) Obviously racist comments are very common within our society but I still couldn’t help but get offended. By over emphasizing how words are pronounced, it basically implies Chinese people are incapable of understanding what is being said. Another characteristic of Hank’s mom, I disliked was her contradictory statements. She yelled at the robber for staring at her boobs and even called him shameful but when the Anchor of Justice stared at her boobs, she’s flattered. What makes the robber’s stare different than the Anchor of Justice’s stare? They’re both men, yet it seems as if Hank’s mom is consumed with appearances and values Anchor of Justice’s opinion or view more because he’s more important than the robber.
In chapter 2, “Dawn of a Golden Age,” Hank’s mother proved to be hilarious in her attempts to give Hank superpowers. For instance, when she pushes Hank into a toxic spill because she thinks it will give him superpowers, but instead Hank gets a fever. A statement that stuck with me was when Hank’s mom said, “Isn’t this wonderful?! Turns out you don’t need any superpowers at all to be a superhero! You just have to fight very well and very fast!” (31) We’ve discussed in class what makes a hero super and if having superpowers determines whether or not someone is a superhero which is why I liked how Yang touched on this subject. When we look at superheroes we’ve discussed Superman has powers yet Wonder Woman and Batman don’t but have extensive combat training. It’s not really about having powers that determines whether someone is a superhero or not, it’s about what a person does and why that determines if they are a superhero or not. Hank’s mother, again, makes contradicting statements when she says, “How can you be so selfish? If you’re lonely during the day, call up your delinquent friends for mahjong! Hank is doing something important right now! He doesn’t have to end up a coward like you!” (33) She’s ungrateful for everything her husband has sacrificed for her. This statement is also ironic because she’s the selfish one as she doesn’t care what Hank wants, instead she forces him to become a superhero because it’s what she wants. Another example is when she says, “Only criminals wear masks!” (39) As she is wearing a mask, she makes this statement which alludes to her being a criminal yet she claims she needs the mask to hide her identity to protect her reputation. By saying this to Hank, it seems like she’s insinuating he doesn’t have an identity to hide because he doesn’t know who he is.
In chapter 3, “Fathers and Sons,” the monumental moment in this chapter was the Tortoise’s shadow requesting to live within Hank’s shadow since Hank’s father dies. In return, the tortoise promises Hank will never get shot which is essentially what makes Hank an official superhero. In chapter 4, “Fights you cannot win,” the Tortoise proves to be extremely wise as he gives Hank advice on being a coward and fighting. The Tortoise says, “A fight you cannot win is still worth fighting” (84). This statement proved to be the lesson of the entire graphic novel which I found to be very empowering. Although some fights in life, like fighting cancer, seem impossible to win, it’s still worth fighting for. Perseverance seems to be the biggest theme within this graphic novel. I really connected to this graphic novel because of how important perseverance is in life which is what my grandparents always used to tell me before they passed away. In chapter 5, “True Colors,” there are a lot of offensive comments made such as “sneaky slant-eyed bastards” (118) and “You hit like a girl” (120). It actually irritated me at how many times the characters used being a girl as an insult. In chapter 6, “Enter the Green Turtle,” the Red Center brings up the concept of Hank parading around in a silly costume to fit in yet Hank realizes being a superhero is more than that. I admire Hank for stating that it’s not about fitting in with others but about finding himself which he discovers through being the Green Turtle. As he finds himself he realizes, he’s both Hank and the Green Turtle which is the duality we discuss in class all the time.
I found Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal to be really creative, funny and relatable. Kamala Khan is a new kind of superheroine restricted not only through being female but also being Muslim. What struck me as the most relatable quality of Ms. Marvel was Kamala’s struggle to fit in with others from her school. Personally, my parents were really strict when I was in high school, similar to Kamala’s parents. My parents, at first, didn’t allow me to drink, party, or date during high school because they wanted me to protect me and encourage me to stay focused on school. However, like every teenager, I rebelled and would sneak out to hang out with my friends or date guys. My parents had high expectations for me as a high school student and it drove me crazy because I personally knew I could never live up to them. I really liked Kamala Khan’s character because I could relate to her more than any superhero we’ve seen.
The “All-New Marvel Now! Point One” comic was jam-packed with so many different superheroes and a glimpse of each of their stories that I chose to mainly focus on Ms. Marvel’s section of the comic. Kamala struggles with being who she wants to be and the girl her parents expect her to be. She tells her mom, “You and Baba want me to be a perfect little Muslim girl—straight A’s, med school, no boys, no booze, then some hand-picked rich husband from Karachi and a billion babies.” Her mom responds by saying, “Your father and I want the best for our only daughter. Our expectations are high so that your successes will be many.” The expectations Kamala’s parents have for their daughter are similar to the expectations Asian American parents have of their children. As an Asian-American, I can relate to Kamala’s discomfort when it comes to the pressures of being the perfect daughter as well as trying to grow into the person she is meant to be. My parents expected me to prioritize school above everything else because to them that’s the only way I would be able to succeed in the future.
In “Ms. Marvel #1,” the difficulty of accepting cultures is evident. With Zoe’s character, for instance, she mocks the Muslim culture with her comments. She compliments Nakia’s headscarf but then adds, “Nobody pressured you to start wearing it, right? Your father or somebody? Nobody’s going to, like, honor kill you? I’m just concerned.” Her ignorance is illuminated in the way she’s fakes her concern for Nakia in relation to her culture. Kamala sees Zoe as being this popular, nice white girl but Bruno and Nakia point out how disturbing Kamala is for liking Zoe, since they both understand Zoe’s making fun of them and their culture. Other insulting comments she makes are that she can’t bear to be near Kamala because she smells like curry and how shocked she is that Kamala came to a party, considering she believes Kamala is “locked up.” Zoe’s ignorance is extremely irritating yet her character defines many people today. They often don’t understand other cultures and because of that they choose to mock it or ignore it.
The most important aspect of the Ms. Marvel comics is that it’s about Kamala accepting herself for who she is. This concept begins when Kamala thinks, “I can never be one of them, no matter how hard I try. I’ll always be poor Kamala with the weird food rules and the crazy family.” She’s aware that she’s different from the others at her school yet she still tries to fit in. It’s only after she leaves the party after being mocked by Zoe, does she realize that she’ll never fit in with the people at her high school. It’s disheartening seeing Kamala struggle with the fact that she’s different because being different is what makes you special. She’s so unhappy with how she’s perceived by others that she tells Captain Marvel how she wants to look like her instead.
In “Ms. Marvel #2,” Kamala struggles with her shape-shifting abilities as she changes from herself and Captain Marvel. She realizes the root of her transforming into Captain Marvel is when she feels “uncomfortable” or like she has “to be someone else” yet it doesn’t make her feel any better about herself. Kamala comes to the realization that it doesn’t make her happy being someone else, what makes her happy was saving Zoe’s life. In “Ms. Marvel #3,” Kamala continues to realize that the powers she was given are not only a part of her but require her to live up to them. The shocking twist in “Ms. Marvel #3” is when Kamala is shot posing as Ms. Marvel. In “Ms. Marvel #4,” Kamala emphasizes the gender stereotypes we see every day. For instance, when she tells Bruno, “You protect me from stuff all the time. You have since we were kids. But now I’m the stronger one, and I’m gonna protect you, and that totally freaks you out.” I really like that the Ms. Marvel comics touch on so many different topics such as culture, gender, fitting in, being a teenager, etc.
In “Ms. Marvel #5,” Kamala’s father emphasizes the importance of being yourself. He says, “You don’t have to be someone else to impress anybody. You are perfect just the way you are.” Accepting yourself is such a challenging concept for teenagers, especially girls, and that’s why the Ms. Marvel comics are so empowering. They encourage people to accept themselves for who they are and emphasize how their differences are what makes them special. There’s nothing wrong with being different from everyone else which is what Kamala ends up learning. I definitely see Kamala as a very empowering female superheroine because through the Ms. Marvel comics she learns the difference between fitting in and coming into her own.
Andrew Hoberek’s book, “Considering Watchmen: Poetics, Property, and Politics,” illustrates how Moore and Gibbons developed the graphic novel Watchmen, the contribution Watchmen had to the superhero genre, struggle of property rights and the politics of Watchmen. Although Hoberek describes many important concepts within Watchmen, the most interesting concept to me was the struggle of property rights. In class we constantly discuss artists and writers not getting the credit or money they deserve for their creations. In Chapter 2, “Property,” Hoberek “…considers Moore’s investment in the concept of literature as a function of his career-long struggle with DC over the rights to his work” (39). Hoberek discusses Moore’s fight with DC on using the Charlton characters for his story. He describes the struggle as “the conflict between corporations’ desire to profit from characters and stories and artists’ desire to revise them creatively” (91-92). Moore wanted to use the Charlton characters for Watchmen but was rejected because he sought to “render them unusable for future projects” (92). DC chose not to give him permission to use the Charlton characters to save those characters for future use.
Hoberek also discusses Steve Ditko’s dispute with Stan Lee on creative and financial control of his cocreation Spider-Man. As we discussed in class, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby also disputed when it came to creative control yet Jack Kirby wasn’t successful in gaining control the way Ditko was. Hoberek recalls, “In leaving Marvel, Ditko chose creative control over profits. Angered by Marvel’s failure to pay him what he thought was his due as Spider-Man’s cocreator, he returned to Charlton, the small Connecticut comic book company for which he had created Captain Atom…” (82) By choosing creative control over profits, Ditko proves to care more about his creation and the comics being written about his character rather than the money unlike Stan Lee.
Through Rorschach and Veidt, Moore successfully illustrates the struggle between comic book artists and corporations. Hoberek tells, “…Moore has repeatedly commented in interviews and other venues on the long struggle between comic book artists who created characters on a work-by-hire basis and the companies who then owned these trademarked characters, then the Veidt Corporation appears at this moment as an exaggerated figure for the latter, able to profit from the creations of others through a combination of Veidt’s contingent relationship with the creators and a legal fiction” (81). Through the Veidt Corporation, Moore illustrates how corporations use artist’s creations and end up profiting from it rather than the artist. Hoberek also connects Rorschach with the “uncompromising artist” and “the comic book artist for whom work-for-hire had historically meant a lack of ownership or control over his (usually) creations” (86). The unfortunate truth about comic books are many artists were deprived of their ownership rights which is extremely unfortunate. After reading “Considering Watchmen” it’s clear to see that artists and writers not getting what they deserved when it came to their creations is a consistent and recurring theme.
Chapter I “At Midnight, All the Agents…”
Throughout class, we’ve lightly touched on how Watchmen is very controversial. From the beginning of this graphic novel, I already began to see many instances that make it controversial. For instance, Rorschach writes in his diary, “Beneath me, this awful city, it screams like an abattoir full of retarded children. New York” (14). I feel as though using the term “retarded” is extremely offensive to many people which is why society now looks down on those who use that term in an insulting manner. Similarly, we see the first instance where homosexuality is addressed. Rorschach jots down in his diary, “Meeting with Veidt left bad taste in mouth. He is pampered and decadent, betraying even his own shallow, liberal affectations. Possibly homosexual? Must remember to investigate further” (18). Watchmen is one of the first graphic novels that actually brings up a controversial topic instead of alluding to homosexuality. However, this thought generalizes what homosexuals are viewed as being “pampered and decadent.” In another instance, Laurie questions, “Rape is a moral lapse? You know he broke her ribs? You know he almost choked her?” Yet another controversial topic, rape, is brought up within Watchmen.
Something I really enjoyed was Laurie’s independence and disgust for the objectification of women. Laurie demonstrates her independence through paying for her dinner with Dan instead of having him pay. Also, she strongly hates being objectified which is clear when she says, “You remember that costume? With that stupid little short skirt and the neckline going down to my navel? God, that was so dreadful” (25). She knows what is expected of her as a woman which is seen through her description of her costume. It’s not like she wanted that specific costume, yet she wore it probably because society expected her to wear something of that sort to be viewed as sexual.
Hollis Mason’s “Under the Hood” Chapters 1 and 2, were very interesting background information on Hollis Mason’s upbringing. In chapter 1, he explains a personal encounter he experienced when he was younger to grab the audience’s attention to make them continue reading. In chapter 2, Mason describes how and why he became a police officer. Comics extremely influenced Mason’s perspective on morality which he describes, “For my part, all those brilliant and resourceful sleuths and heroes offered a glimpse of a perfect world where morality worked the way it was meant to” (5). His work as a police officer and love for adventure drove him to become a superhero himself. Mason states, “…what it comes down to for me is that I dressed up like an owl and fought crime because it was fun and because it needed doing and because I goddam felt like it” (5). He found his calling and went for it which I really admire. He doesn’t need any explanation yet he explains how it was important to him that justice be served and combining his knowledge of detective work and love for comics, he was able to become a superhero. I found it very interesting that the Hooded Justice is what started it all for him. After hearing stories and sightings about the Hooded Justice, Mason became more invested in becoming a superhero alongside of the Hooded Justice
Chapter II “Absent Friends”
Sally Jupiter, Laurie’s mother, seems to be a very influential older lady through Watchmen. She emphasizes the importance of leaving things in the past. For instance she says to Laurie, “Listen, gettin’ old, you get a different perspective. The big stuff looks smaller somehow. In the end, you just wash your hands of it and shut it away…Life goes on, honey. Life goes on” (2). Although she’s getting older, Sally demonstrates with age comes wisdom. She’s learned to let go of the past and move on, no matter what happened in the past. Although Eddie Blake, the Comedian, attempted to rape her when they were part of the Minutemen, she decided to move on from the incident despite Laurie’s discontent about the situation.
Something I really like about Watchmen is the relatable factor. Sally says, “It’s a Tijuana bible…a little eight-page porno comic they did in the ‘30s and ‘40s…They did ‘em about newspaper funnies characters like Blondie, even real people like Mae West. This one’s about me” (4). We discussed erotic comics in our class and it’s unique to see a comic actually discussing other types of comics. Despite Sally feeling flattered someone would make a porno comic about her, Laurie says, “I just, jeez, I just don’t know how you can stand being degraded like this. I mean, don’t you care how people see you?” (8). Again she demonstrates her hatred for women being objectified as her mother is being objectified in the porno comic. She emphasizes how women have more to offer than their body or appearance which makes her an empowering female role model.
In Hollis Mason’s “Under the Hood” Chapters 3 and 4, Mason gives a brief background on the members of the Minutemen and how the Minutemen were created. I really liked these excerpts, because I haven’t read Watchmen so I’m unfamiliar with the characters. By reading these excerpts, I was able to understand how each superhero got their start and what superheroes were part of the Minutemen. Mason reveals that the creation of the Minutemen started with Captain Metropolis reaching out to Sally Jupiter and in doing so, her agent, Laurence Schexnayder, controlled their publicity and even put an ad out for mystery men to come forward. Mason also illustrates how the Comedian was a “disgrace” which Rorschach alludes to in the first chapter of Watchmen. It’s not until the second chapter that the reader understands why the Comedian is seen this way.
Chapter III “The Judge of All the Earth”
Something I really like about the Watchmen is how relatable some of the concepts and sayings are. Many things that are said can be related to any situation. For instance when Laurie says, “Some things, once they’re busted, they can’t ever be fixed…” (7). Not only can this be said for relationships, but also friendships, also cars if you’re thinking about material things. Sometimes the damage that has been done is unable to be repaired and as life moves on, so do you. Not everything can be fixed is a life concept that can be applied in any context. Another concept is Dr. Manhattan’s TV interview when the host is told to avoid discussing Afghanistan because it’s too controversial. I like how Afghanistan is mentioned instead of World War I or II because it demonstrates the time progression of the novel compared to previous graphic novels we’ve read.
In Hollis Mason’s “Under the Hood” chapter 5, Mason reveals how his retirement came to be. Without masked criminals or crimes being committed, there wasn’t a huge need for masked superheroes anymore. Mason decided to retire and get back to doing what made him the happiest, which is fixing cars. Mason also reveals how a fan wrote to him asking for permission to use Nite Owl and fight crime which Mason allows.
In The Uncanny X-Men #1, “X-Men,” we are introduced to the X-Men as well as the origin story of X-Men. Professor X explains to Jean Grey, “You possess an extra power…one which ordinary humans do not!! That is why I call my students…X-Men for ex-tra power!” He informs the reader almost immediately about the origin of the X-Men name which I found very helpful in understanding the concept of X-Men. The first X-Men’s we see are Angel, Beast, Cyclops and Ice Man. But the comic is essentially about Jean Grey joining the team. I actually really liked Jean Grey just because of the way she can take care of herself which she makes clear to the boys. She says, ““Don’t worry, Warren! I’m not exactly helpless, as you can see!” She emphasizes how she doesn’t need to depend on anyone else, especially men, to take care of her which we don’t see a lot in female superheroes except for Wonder Woman. However, Jean Grey is still depicted to care a lot about her appearance which bothers me. Jean says, “Mmm, whoever designed this uniform could have given Christian Dior a run for his money!” For some reason every female superhero we’ve seen has been consumed with their appearance. I don’t think that needs to be emphasized but it always is.
In The Uncanny X-Men #135, “Dark Phoenix,” Jean Grey becomes the Dark Phoenix and attacks her fellow X-Men. She tells them, “I didn’t want this, my dear ones—and yet, it was something I had to do. By striking you down, I cut myself free of the last ties binding me to the person I was, the life I led. You and I are quits now, X-Men. Our paths will cross no more. My destiny lies in the stars!” In her mind, she sees the X-Men as holding her back and needs to get rid of them in order to move on and develop into her new persona, the Dark Phoenix. The Dark Phoenix is Jean Grey’s evil alter ego which I found to be similar to the dualism concept we discuss in class all the time. Jean Grey is overwhelmed and taken over by her other self, the Dark Phoenix and can’t control it. In this sense, the Dark Phoenix is who Jean Grey would see herself more like just as Bruce Wayne would identify himself as Batman more than Bruce. An interesting aspect I’ve seen in Marvel comics is the crossing over of superheroes into other comics. In this specific comic, the cop says, “You want results—call the Avengers, or The Fantastic Four, or SHIELD.” We also see Reed Richards, the Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, and Spider-Man in this comic as well to demonstrate how powerful the Dark Phoenix is and how they all detected her increasing power. I find the crossover of superheroes in other comics to be an interesting technique that demonstrates the versatility of Marvel superheroes and their comics.
This comic illustrates death in a twisted beautiful way. For instance, “On the planetary dayside, they see the light first—the awful light of Armageddon—filling the sky from horizon to horizon ten minutes after leaving the murdered star. Many who see this light—the last thing they will ever see—are confused, frightened, a very few—who realize at once what has happened—have time to curse cruel fate or make their peace with their God. Then, they all die.” This is similar to the way people see the light before their lives are taken in reality. By seeing the light, they are given the opportunity to see something beautiful before their life is taken. Something extremely relevant and relatable about death is stated, “But half the world dies in its sleep. They are the lucky ones.” This quote is heartbreaking yet true. Those who die in their sleep, die peacefully without feeling any pain and their life comes to an end in the comfort of their own sleep. This concept is so poetic that it made the comic more relatable to real life rather than just being about superheroes. Everyone experiences death in their lives because it’s inevitable. Another Marvel concept I discovered was the similarity to teenage heartbreak illustrated through the superheroes. For instance after Dark Phoenix leaves, Storm says, “Ever since, we returned from New York, Scott has just sat there—not eating, not speaking.” Many of us have experienced heartbreak in our lives and this concept is very similar to a teenage heartbreak. With Jean Grey gone, Scott is torn and unable to talk or eat because the love of his life is gone. Heartbreak seems to be a recurring theme within Marvel Comics just as we saw in The Fantastic Four comics with Crystal and Johnny being torn apart from each other resulting in Johnny’s determination to do anything to be with Crystal again despite the unrealistic conditions of their relationship.
In The Uncanny X-Men #136, “Child of Light and Darkness,” Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix become separated. An interesting relatable concept described in this comic is the way Jean’s dad says to her, “You’re not mine—not any part of me! I deny you! I cast you out!” It’s heartbreaking to see this interaction between Jean and her dad but understandable. Her family fears her because of the abilities she possesses which is similar to the way people are feared for being different from everyone else. A recurring theme I found throughout the X-Men comics is the understanding that although everyone is different, that’s not something to be scared of. This concept isn’t just about mutants but regular people as well. It’s so common for people to fear those who are different from them yet by judging, bullying or excluding them, it’s interpreted as being normal is what’s right compared to being different.
The conversation between the Dark Phoenix and Scott Summers seemed to be the most romantic encounter I’ve been exposed to within comics. Jean first says to Scott, “Dark Phoenix knows nothing of love!” But Scott disagrees by saying, “Oh? For love of the X-Men, you sacrificed your life. For love of me, you resurrected yourself. For love of the whole universe, you almost died a second time to save it. Know nothing of love?! Jean, you are love! Your existence, your very creation, springs from love, from the noblest emotions a human can attain. And now you want to deny that? To deny yourself?” Scott’s love for Jean Grey is so empowering and demonstrates what true love is. He wants nothing more than to get his Jean back and does and says everything he can to make her come back to him. Jean responds, “Yes! No! I…hunger, Scott—for a joy, a rapture, beyond all comprehension that need is a part of me, too. It…consumes me.” In that quote, we see the Dark Phoenix persona falter as Jean tries to overcome the Dark Phoenix’s possession of her body and demonstrates her ability to understand both Jean and the Dark Phoenix’s needs. The comic ends with Scott proposing to Jean after the Dark Phoenix no longer is within her which is very romantic.
In the Uncanny X-Men #137, “The Fate of the Phoenix,” Jean Grey’s life is at state when the Empress’s people want her dead because of all the lives she took as the Dark Phoenix. Yet, Professor Xavier challenges the Empress and her people to fight for Jean’s life. Jean’s character is empowering and understanding. She’s aware of what she does as the Dark Phoenix and accepts responsibility. She says, “I was terrible—yet beautiful. An angel. I didn’t want that awesome power. I didn’t mean to do what I did. But I did it just the same.” As Jean Grey, she recollects everything she did as the Dark Phoenix and regrets it but can’t dismiss the fact that she is responsible for all the lives she took and destruction she caused.
The comic illustrates again the love Scott Summers and Jean Grey share. Scott says, “There’s so much I want to say to you—so much that I feel. I…don’t have the words.” Jean responds by saying, “Where I’m concerned, it’s the thought that counts. And yours—like you—are beautiful. You’re a special man, Scott Summers.” The love they share is evident in this comic just through the simple conversation they have. The love they have for each other can’t be explained and is simply just felt which in my opinion is what true love is all about. The passion they have for each other needs no words it’s just evident when looking at them and their interactions. My heart literally broke when Scott realizes Jean’s plan the whole time was to die because it was the only way to save everyone. Scott explains, “You…planned this, didn’t you?! From the moment we landed on the moon. You shielded your intentions from our rapport, but just the same I should have guessed, I should have realized…that you could not become Dark Phoenix and remain true to yourself, the Jean Grey I knew, and fell in love with. So, you took steps to ensure that, if Lilandra couldn’t stop you, you’d do the job yourself. You must have picked the minds of the kree and skrull observers, learned what ancient weapons were hidden here. Then, you used your fight with the X-Men to drain you of enough energy to make you vulnerable. And, finally, when you were ready, you…you…” After reading that, I was so sad at the fact that Jean Grey sacrificed herself to save the universe and Scott tried so hard to help her become Jean Grey again but her death was inevitable. The way Scott describes her plan is so heartbreaking because he finally puts everything together only to realize that Jean knew what needed to be done and that Scott would stop her, thus she shielded her intentions. Jean provides such an empowering female symbol from being the loving Jean Grey to the destructive Dark Phoenix, she shows her strength through choosing to die instead of letting the Dark Phoenix rise to become a God. Her understanding of the consequences of her actions as well as the importance of mankind demonstrates her ability to see the big picture and strive to do what’s right no matter what happens.
In the New X-Men #114, “E is for Extinction,” we’re introduced to a newer version of the X-Men comics that illustrates to be targeted to a more mature audience. For instance, Beast says, “I suspect my latest beast form is connected to this year’s mutant baby boom. Sunspot activity, manic depressive mood swings, I feel like a Hindu sex God, Jean.” This comic demonstrates relating to reality and even has a touch of humor by referring to Beast as a Hind sex God. The comic also illustrates the scenes to be very bloody and violent which also relates to targeting a more mature audience. The panels were so graphic demonstrating the development of illustrations from the first X-Men we read to this newer version.
In the Avengers #1, “The Coming of the Avengers,” we’re introduced to the superheroes who become the Avengers. They are all called by Loki who was trying to trap Thor and as a result convinced the public that the Incredible Hulk was a danger. They were brought together to find the Incredible Hulk and help him. The Avengers consist of Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Ant Man and the Wasp. Again, I was irritated by the portrayal of the Wasp. Ant Man says, “I thought you weren’t coming, Jan! I can’t see why you have to stop and powder your nose every time we have a mission!” Again we are given a demeaning representation of women. The Wasp is too concerned with her appearance to actually be an empowering female super heroine. In another instance, she says, “Henry! Did you see that gorgeous Thor?! How can I ever make him notice me?” To me, the way women are depicted in comics is awful and demonstrates how men want women to be perceived as powerless. The Wasp cares more about her beauty than fighting alongside the rest of the Avengers which infuriates me. In the Avengers #4, “Captain America Joins…The Avengers!” the Wasp continues to be portrayed as a woman only concerned with beauty by saying, ““I thought you’d never notice, blue-eyes! I was doing what any girl would do in a moment of crisis—powdering my nose, of course!” It seems as though women are not to be taken seriously just as we saw in the Fantastic Four when Reed dismisses Sue as well as her huge concern with her appearance and getting the attention of Reed. Women in comics are only illustrated for show.
Something I found interesting about the readings this week was the incorporation of side notes within the comic. In Avengers #1, there’s a side note about the teen-brigade being formed in Hulk #6. In Avengers #4, there’s a side note that says, “For a more detailed account, refer to Fantastic Four Annual #1…”Sub-Mariner versus the Human Race!”—Editor.” By adding side notes, it provides readers who just started reading a reference to certain situations happening within the comic that are continuations of past comics. However, even the side notes changed throughout the years, for instance in Avengers #16, “The Old Order Changeth!” there’s a side note that says, “As shown in Thor #116—on sale now (Hint!)—Stan.” Not only did the side notes change from using editor to Stan, but instead of just providing a reference, the side note emphasized the use of advertising within the comic. As the comic continued, another side note was added saying, “As shown in practically every issue of X-Men—Stan.” This side note provides humor and illustrates what many readers agree with in regards to Magneto in X-Men.
Connecting “Hand of Fire: The Comics Art of Jack Kirby,” Professor Hatfield discussed the importance of Jack Kirby reshaping the superhero genre through the use of continued storylines which I discovered through reading the comics for this week. For instance, in the Avengers #4 it states, “Remember the awesome battle between the Hulk, Sub-Mariner and the Avengers last issue?” and even to change it up in Avengers #16, “Just this once, let’s start without any introduction! If you remember out last ish, you’ll know what’s going on! If not, don’t be bashful—turn the page.” By doing this, we can understand the unique demonstration of continued storylines and how Kirby and Lee incorporated them into their comics. Also, Professor Hatfield illustrated how Kirby was inspired by mythology when creating comics which we see in Avengers #4 when Captain America realizes, “Your hair—in the dark, you must have looked like a woman to them—and turning men to stone—that must be the origin of the legend of Medusa!” Not only was mythology used in the creation of Thor and Loki but also in an alien helping the Sub-Mariner take down the Avengers. Another aspect I found to be connected to many of our past classes was the use of secret identities. In Avengers #16, Iron Man reveals, “Even we Avengers don’t reveal our secret identities to each other! It’s safer this way!” Although the Avengers are allies, they don’t reveal their secret identities to each other. This specific idea really confused me because I didn’t understand how they could keep their secret identities from each other. However, this also emphasizes the importance of dual identities to superheroes, even the Avengers and how although they are part of a team, they are entitled to their secrets.
Tales of Suspense #39, “Iron Man is Born,” was just about Iron Man’s origin story. I found it to be kind of boring compared to the other origin stories we’ve read in the past. He avenges Professor Yinsen’s death because Professor Yinsen basically saved his life by helping him assemble his Iron Man suit. As for Captain America #107, “If the Past Be Not Dead--,” I found it to be very sad when I first read it. I know villains aim for superheroes weaknesses but I found Dr. Faustus’s plan to make Captain America seem crazy by feeding off of his deepest regret in life to be horrible. I believe you are your own worst enemy, which made reading this comic really sad. I was happy that Captain America was able to take him down in the end but I was left confused about SHIELD. It was briefly introduced in this comic as obviously being capable of running tests on medicine but I actually was curious about what they do and want to know more. Thanks for reading!
In Charles Hatfield’s Hand of Fire: The Comic Art of Jack Kirby, Chapter 2 titled “Kirby, Stan Lee and the Creation of Marvel Comics” focuses on how Kirby didn't get the credit he deserved as well as his relationship with Marvel. Beginning with the feud between Marvel and Jack Kirby on ownership of his artwork, it's clear to see Kirby was wronged by a company he helped create and thrive. As well as the struggle between Kirby and Marvel continued, Kirby and Stan Lee also struggled with creative recognition, Professor Hatfield states, “Moreover, Kirby disputed Lee’s share of creative contribution to the early Marvels, claiming sole authorship: “Stan Lee and I never collaborated on anything!” It turned out that Kirby worked at home—no hectic bullpen for him—and he preferred it that way, outside of Lee’s orbit. ‘I used to write the stories just like I always did,’ he said. Lee, in his view, was simply ‘an editor . . . Stan Lee wasn’t a guy that read or told stories’ (Interview with Groth 37–38)” (79). I was under the impression that everything they did was a collaboration and was shocked at this realization. Professor Hatfield emphasizes the importance Kirby had to Marvel and how Stan Lee took credit for products he didn’t contribute to. Professor Hatfield says, “Kirby worked harder but, commercially, Lee made things happen” (95). Kirby produced most of the work yet Lee was the one who seemingly took the credit and was the face of the product. Kirby was more of the behind the scenes person which resulted in the huge conflict of creative recognition not being given to Kirby.
Kirby seemingly was the soul and heart of Marvel comics and as Professor Hatfield describes, “the company’s style was built squarely on Kirby, and the characters he helped create typically suffered as soon as he stepped away” (105). Kirby’s passion was seen through his characters and without him, they were never quite the same. In Professor Hatfield’s eyes, “The “Marvel” point of view, then, was the Kirby point of view—he was Marvel’s blueprint. His relationship with the company animated it and kept it going” (106). Kirby’s position at Marvel built the foundation for what Marvel is today. His works and contributions provided Marvel with the basis of what all their comics are about. Without Kirby, Marvel would fail to thrive and live up to DC Comics.
In Charles Hatfield’s Hand of Fire: The Comic Art of Jack Kirby, Chapter 3 titled, “How Kirby Changed the Superhero,” Professor Hatfield illuminates how Kirby's contribution to Marvel ultimately created the foundation for a new type of superhero genre. A superhero genre that reflected his unique ideas such as monsters as superheroes, unresolved conflicts between superheroes and villains as well as continuous storylines, and ultimately superheroes with more depth and the ability to progress with their stories. Through these means, Kirby reshaped the superhero genre by changing how superheroes are perceived and created. Professor Hatfield states, “Marvel’s characterization stood out: under Stan Lee, the byword became “superheroes with super problems” (Lee recognized the formula for what it was and ran with it), while, thanks to Kirby’s vital artistic input, the protagonists became increasingly monstrous, pitiable, and alienated, their superpowers often implicitly linked to the Cold War through such tropes as genetic mutation, accidental exposure to radioactivity, and the Space Race. Crystallized by Lee in concert with Kirby and Steve Ditko, both of whom had a yen for the grotesque, the Marvel ethos demanded heroes whose superpowers were counterbalanced by deformities, disabilities, or social stigmas” (116). Kirby and Lee produced a different type of superhero, one that had problems due to exposure to chemicals, mutations, etc. By bringing this concept into the superhero genre, Marvel set themselves apart from DC’s superheroes which lacked problems. By creating the Thing and the Hulk, it was “one of Kirby and Lee’s freshest moves, in the context of superheroes, was to test that boundary, turning subhuman monsters into heroes, a move anticipated by few characters during the genre’s 1940s heyday…” (116). By testing the boundaries of monsters posing as superheroes, Kirby and Lee developed a new kind of superhero. One that was similar to a Jekyll/Hyde figure that struggled with his appearance and aggression yet proved to still remain a superhero. As Professor Hatfield says, “Marvel, in short, empathized with the freaks” (119).
Something I found quite interesting was Kirby’s idea of superheroes and villains being pantheonic. Professor Hatfield explains, “Marvel’s heroes and villains came to counterbalance each other, in a sort of rough-hewn grand design defined by symbolic symmetry. All of them, heroes and villains, belonged to a great, sprawling, superhuman family whose interweaving, often violent relationships were tangled and confusing, but also compelling. Good and evil forces were paired in a Manichean struggle in which the victory of the good, though expected and hoped for at the end of each tale, turned out to be temporary, provisory, and fragile. Conflict reigned. The heroes’ omnipotence was not guaranteed (though the coddling moralism of the Comics Code did ensure that heroes almost always won the battle if not the war)” (125). As we’ve seen in the past recurring villains are very common within comics yet a connection between villains and superheroes wasn’t that common. With heroes and villains being connected, Kirby was also able to introduce the idea of continued storylines and unresolved conflicts which greatly separated Marvel from DC comics. In DC comics, we often saw the bad guy going to prison or being captured only to escape and reconnect the conflict started between him and the superhero. Yet with Marvel, we see the conflict continue over to the next comic issue as well as the villain never really going away or dying leaving room for writers to bring back a villain without confusing readers. By doing so, his idea brought up the image of a saga which can be described as a series that doesn't end but continues and allows characters to grow and change. Overall I found this week’s readings to be very informative and I learned a lot. Specifically about Kirby’s contribution to Marvel and just how important his presence was to Marvel. Without him Marvel would not be anywhere near what we’ve seen. Thanks for reading!
In the Fantastic Four #45, “Among us hide…The Inhumans,” demonstrates just one of the examples where Reed looks down upon his wife Sue, where he says, “Stop sounding like a wife and find me that gun, lady!” I noticed throughout the entire comic series, at least what we have read, Sue is perceived as being submissive, dependent and always is trying to please her husband. Reed says in the Fantastic Four #47, “Beware the Hidden Land!” “I’ll explain later woman! Just do as I say!” and “Stop sounding like a wife, sue! I still make the decisions for this team!” These examples are just a few ways Reed talks down to Sue, by always calling her woman or wife. In my opinion, the way he says it is demeaning like he’s pointing out that she’s just his wife or just a woman and needs to do what he says or follow his lead because he’s the man. In the same comic, Sue decides to change her hair and says, “Perhaps a new hairdo would make him realize I’m not one of the boys!” Sue seems so concerned with her husband’s opinion of her that she doesn’t seem to add anything to being a part of the Fantastic Four. I always imagined her to be like Wonder Woman yet she’s depicted as shallow and how she needs the approval of men. In another example she says, “I just wanted to remind you that I’m your wife, not just a piece of extra baggage! And you still haven’t told me how you like my hair!” Again illustrating her need for approval from men as well as her shallowness.
In Fantastic Four #46, “Those who would destroy us,” illustrates the beginning of Crystal and Johnny’s relationship. Crystal says, “Johnny! Johnny! I don’t want to leave you! I want to stay with you—no matter what--! Johnny--!” Something I didn’t like about this specific comic is the way Johnny falls in love with Crystal based on her appearance. In one panel, she’s introducing Johnny to the other inhumans and then all of a sudden they’re apparently in love and can’t be without each other. They continue to love each other even though they are separated and never really talked which makes me mad considering apparently that’s how love is perceived within comics. In Fantastic Four #47, “Beware the Hidden Land,” Sue and Reed put their input in about Johnny and Crystal’s relationship. Sue says, “Johnny storm! You’ve barely met her! You hardly know her!” Sue’s reaction is the logical response to Johnny and Crystal’s so called “love.” Yet Reed jumps in and says, “Sue, when a man thinks he’s in love, nobody can tell him he’s not!” By reading saying that, it provides the double standard that if it’s men, it’s appropriate to feel that way but if it was a woman it’s seen as being naïve.
I found Alicia’s character to be very insightful. Especially in Fantastic Four #49, “If this be Doomsday,” when she’s confronted with the Silver Surfer she handles the situation with poise. She says, “We all matter! Every living being…every bird and beast…this is our world! Ours! Perhaps we are not as powerful as your Galactus…but we have hearts… we have souls… we live… breathe…feel! Can’t you see that?? Are you as blind as I??” In my opinion, she proved to be an empowering female symbol throughout the Fantastic Four Series. She demonstrates how she sees more than others despite being able to physically see. Her words are what influences the silver surfer to change and think about his actions. Alicia provides us with a wonderful female symbol compared to Sue Storm.
I'm a graduating Senior majoring in English Literature. At first, my goal was to become a book publisher, but I had a change of heart two years ago. Now my goal is to be accepted into an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program to pursue a career in Pediatrics.