Ms. Marvel 4

ms marvel 4Today, Suzanne and Drew are discussing Ms. Marvel 4, originally released May 28th, 2014.

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“What’s Ms. Marvel supposed to look like?”

Kamala Khan

Suzanne: It’s easy to get wrapped into other people’s expectations of you. Subtle messages and feedback from friends and strangers can inadvertently contribute to your sense of self. I’m reminded of this every time I walk into a comic book shop with my husband. The (male) store clerks start up a conversation with him and barely acknowledge my presence. Little do they know that he’s just keeping me company and doesn’t even read comics. So what is a comic book nerd supposed to look like? Would most people even consider women a part of the general readership? Stereotypes like the balding, Caucasian comic shop owner and socially awkward fans like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory are still common in pop culture. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 3

ms marvel 3

Today, Suzanne and Shelby are discussing Ms. Marvel 3, originally released April 16th, 2014.

slim-bannerSuzanne: Let me just come out and say it — as a Muslim, I’m equal parts thrilled and reluctant to embrace a comic that represents someone from my faith. Overall, I like when writers incorporate details like ethnicity or religion as part of a whole character. This goes across the board — from Kitty Pryde being Jewish to Daredevil being Catholic. I’m signed on as long as the writing doesn’t divert into tokenism or pandering to a specific group.

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Inhuman 1

inhuman 1

Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Inhuman 1, originally released April 2nd, 2014

Shelby: I have always been somewhat baffled by racism. I can’t understand the reasoning behind looking at another human being and deciding that they are inferior because of the color of their skin. I understand that racism exists, I’m certainly not trying to deny it, I just don’t understand the logic (such as it is) behind it. How can any one human be inherently better than another? And what could skin color possibly have to do with it? As Charles Soule kicks off Inhuman 1, he presents us with a situation where there IS a branch of humanity which is measurably superior. The Inhumans are stronger and more powerful than the rest of us mere mortals, and some are not afraid to show it. The real question is, once these inferior humans start instantly transforming into superior beings, what are all those racist Inhumans going to do about it?

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Indestructible Hulk 19

hulk 19Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Indestructible Hulk 19, originally released February  26th, 2014.

Spencer: Our heroes’ greatest enemies are often their polar opposites: While Batman is a dark, brooding creature fighting for justice, his nemesis is a silly-looking clown obsessed with evil; while Superman is the most human alien around, Lex Luthor has foresaken his humanity to stroke his ego; while the Flash always looks forward, the Reverse Flash is caught up in his own past. In Indestructible Hulk 19 writer Mark Waid and his expansive team of artists provide the Hulk with an opposite of his own: while the Hulk is fueled by his rage, Jessup gains power from stealing other people’s anger. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 1

ms  marvel 1

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Ms. Marvel 1, originally released February 5th, 2014. 

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But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan.

Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling

Drew: We all know the story, but have you ever actually read Hans Christian Andersen’s original The Ugly Ducking? It’s beyond dark. Before he realizes he’s actually a swan, the ugly duckling has embraced suicide as his only escape from a life as an outcast. Even without that particular detail, the ending has always struck me as grim. The happy ending stems from the ugly duckling actually being classically beautiful, after all, not from any kind of acknowledgement that looks aren’t everything. This particular duckling happened to be a swan, but what of ducklings that are actually ugly? I guess those end up actually committing suicide. In spite of this straight-up “difference is awful (unless it happens to make you the same as someone else)” message, this story is treated as though it empowers different-looking children. Its contradiction is almost tragic. As I read through the letters column of Ms. Marvel 1, which praised the notion of a non-white heroine, I couldn’t help but feel that same tragic disconnect, as the heroine herself turns out to be, well, you can see for yourself after the jump. Continue reading