Saturday, June 16, 2018

Less Than Requited

Minute by minute, hour by hour, there is love which goes unrequited. Our culture likes to elevate unrequited love, to raise up the sentiment as one which is noble. Soren Kierkegaard, for instance, considered unrequited love to be about as great an example of love that there is, because by its nature it exists in only one direction - from the one who loves to the one who is loved.

Unrequited love sounds great and ideal, right? The Kierkegaard's of our world would note that it is unsullied by harsh reality. This love you hold for a person from afar but is never returned, how marvelous it must be to love without receiving love in return! And surely for many there is a wish to avoid acting on unrequited love (or more aptly put "a crush") for fear of reality - fear of rejection.

What I find interesting is how our popular culture believes in unrequited love as the most perfect form of love. In film, television, books and comics, invariably one character will pine for another character. How we in the audience must long for them to become a couple! And then they do, our faith in the pureness of unrequited love is fulfilled! Hoopla!

The rending that launched a thousand slash fics

Unfortunately, we are so preoccupied with this idea that it grants some examples of unrequited love a depth they were not meant to possess. Throughout Chris Claremont's X-Men he toyed with the idea that Wolverine held feelings for Jean Grey, even though she and Cyclops were a couple. Claremont certainly seemed to believe in the love between Jean and Cyclops, so Wolverine's pining for Jean served primarily to create some tension (as well as character development for Wolverine). Over the years Claremont would note Wolverine's feelings as a matter of continuity, but the Jean/Cyclops relationship was one which stood the test of time.

That is, until Claremont was no longer writing those characters. In 2001 writers began toying with a dangerous notion: What if Jean loved Wolverine? I call it 'dangerous' because it leans into many of the terrible false narratives we men like to tell each other - the so-called 'Nice Guy' narrative where women, in spite of all evidence, are supposed to be interested in us and will 'come around' given enough time. More to the point, it eliminates Jean Grey's agency in all of this; because Wolverine had feelings for Jean, it was simply assumed her character felt the same way for him. In the real world, the healthy thing is to move on from unrequited love (which Claremont had by giving Wolverine new love interests, starting with Mariko Yashida). Unfortunately, in the realm of fiction a potential couple who haven't 'hooked up' are treated as a loose thread, one which must be tied.

The television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine opened with series regular Dr. Julian Bashir carrying an embarrassingly-obvious torch for his crewmate Jadzia Dax, whose disinterest in him romantically was likewise evident. Although the two had their moments across the early seasons, by the show's 3rd year it was clear they were very good friends and unlikely to change; in the 4th season Jadzia became romantically interested in a new cast member, Worf, which lasted through the end of the 6th season when the character was killed off. Enter Ezri Dax in season 7 and suddenly the Bashir/Dax relationship is given another chance, ultimately leading to them becoming a couple.

As Darren Mooney puts it on his blog:

It feels like an awkward reversal of what had been a nuanced and compelling friendship. There was something reassuring in the idea that an unrequited (and slightly pervy) crush could develop into genuine (platonic) affection, and the arrival of Ezri Dax undercuts that aspect of their relationship.

But all that is past is mere prologue; who I really want to talk about is Jorah Mormont.

This son of a bear.

Jorah is character from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice book series and has been adapted into the television version, Game of Thrones, where he's ably played by actor Iain Glen. If you know only the television show, you may be surprised at how differently Jorah is characterized in the prose. It should be noted that in the original books every chapter is written from the perspective of a single character and there are many characters whose point-of-view is never granted to the readers. Jorah is one such character, having appeared across the five novels thus far without ever seen from his own POV. His thoughts, turmoils and challenges are witnessed from a distance, usually from the perspective of Daenarys Targaryen (later, via Tyrion Lannister).

It is not so clear at the beginning but by the second novel (and 2nd season of the program) Jorah's affection for Daenarys - the queen-in-exile he's sworn to serve as bodyguard to - become evident. In the novels, this usually manifests itself as jealousy: as other men offer their services to Daenarys' cause, Jorah will bitterly whisper his misgivings to her. In time, Daenarys realizes Jorah is an unreliable counselor because his affections for her cloud his judgment. During the 3rd novel, Daenarys loses all faith in Jorah.

One of the most damning incidents against Jorah occurs in the first book when Daenarys' brother Viserys is murdered by the Dothraki when he threatens Daenarys' life. The reader is given little reason to care for Viserys, who is consistently petulant and ignoble, but when his death plays out Ser Jorah is shown to be extremely negligent in that he permits events to spiral out of control until Viserys' death is inevitable. "Good riddance," so saith the audience. But Jorah was supposed to be Viserys' loyal bodyguard. In time, it becomes clear Jorah betrayed his vows to Viserys because he wanted Daenarys for himself. Viserys would have been a terrible king, but in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, characters can frequently be defined by how dutifully they follow their oaths. Jorah tacitly betrays Viserys; how could he be trusted with Daenarys' safety when he takes his oaths so lightly?

The decisions made in adapting Jorah to television force some uncomfortable questions about the priorities of the series' creators, because their version of Jorah is quite different from Martin's. Some of this is simply down to casting choices; almost everyone on Game of Thrones is chronologically older than the book versions of the same characters, and it becomes particularly of note with Daenerys, who is 13 at the outset of the first novel, but played by a 25-year old Emilia Clarke in the first season of the show. At the time, Iain Glen was 50, placing him within earshot of Jorah's 43. But while these actors have a noticeable age gap (Glen being twice Clarke's age), in the books Jorah is more than 3 times Daenerys' age! It's also unavoidable that they cast a pretty good-looking actor to play Jorah - but one of the hallmarks of the literary version is that he's not good-looking and, as Daenerys is a teenager, that alone is almost enough to ensure he will never stand a chance of winning her heart.

In the show, Jorah is extremely devoted to Daenarys; although he serves as a spy during the 1st season (as he was in the books), he quickly leaves that behind and there is none of the pettiness which so marks his literary counterpart. In the books he forces a kiss on Daenerys; on television, he's more moon-eyed than he is rapey. The show also removes unpleasant moments such as a scene from A Dance with Dragons where he beats Tyrion bloody after one of Tyrion's many japes (the television show opts for a conventional fast-friendship between the two). It is clear in the books that while Jorah is fiercely devoted to Daenerys, he is not a particularly good man. I mean, the fact that in both formats his backstory is "former slave holder, still unrepentant about it," should raise all kinds of flags for you in the audience.

Without a doubt the largest point of divergence is when Jorah's treachery towards Daenerys is discovered. On the television show he pleads for mercy, but Daenerys, seeming somewhat cruel to the audience, icily dismisses him. And we, watching the program, are certain of Jorah's true devotion to her and bemoan Daenerys for being hard-hearted. But in the books, the scene is basically the opposite of that; Jorah refuses to admit he had done wrong and refuses to beg forgiveness until he gradually realizes he's digging himself deeper with each justification - by the time he does apologize, it's too late. Despite learning Jorah had been a traitor, we know Daenerys yearns to pardon him (because the chapter is written from her POV), but because he's so stubborn she is forced to make an example of him and banish him.

The showrunners of Game of Thrones have done a lot to render what's found in the books into something more format-friendly for television, but also more conventional in terms of relationships. Thus, Jorah's lust for Daenerys, which is a destructive force in the novels, becomes, well, this:

Will they ever get together?

But is that the only path available when you start toying with unrequited love? As it happens - no! You simply have to think outside the box and not blindly obey the tropes of your medium.

Take, for instance, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; during that program's first season, a running character beat is that of character Xander Harris having a crush on Buffy. In the first season finale he finally tells her how he feels, but she rejects him; she's simply not interested in him. Xander's wounded by this, but by the end of the episode helps save Buffy's life and, in doing so, mostly comes to terms with being her friend. Although he continued to feel pangs here and there over the show's second season, as the series progressed it became clear he had moved on and was now one of her best friends. And that was perfectly okay; we in the audience liked their dynamic as friends and found their subsequent romantic pairings (most notably the Buffy/Angel relationship which cast a huge shadow over the franchise) to be worthwhile television.

Mark Gruenwald once said, "The job of those in the arts is to help people connect with life experiences of people other than themselves, thereby expanding upon their concept of humanness." I do firmly believe that, which is why the kneejerk fiction writer's belief that 'unrequited love = true love' is not only a lazy equation but one which doesn't confront the audience in areas where they possibly should be challenged. There is nothing inherently noble, good, true or pure about unrequited love. Sorry, Kierkegaard.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War creator credits

You like a nice long list? Well, brother, you're in luck! Listed below is every idea found in the film Avengers: Infinity War which originated in a Marvel Comics publication and sorted according to the writer/artist responsible for the first instance of that idea.

Did I overlook something? Probably, in a film this big. Comment below and be sure to check out my master list of Marvel Cinematic Universe creator credits found here.

Stan Lee: co-creator of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, a teenage super hero garbed in red and blue with a red webbing design, spider emblem on chest, lenses in his mask and webbing in his armpits; Spider-Man swinging around on webbing fired from his web-shooters and climbing up walls (Amazing Fantasy #15, 1962); of Spider-Man's spider-sense power which warns him of danger (Amazing Spider-Man #1, 1962); of Spider-Man forming a parachute with his webbing (Amazing Spider-Man #7, 1963); of Spider-Man calling himself a 'friendly neighborhood' Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #17, 1964); of Ned, an associate of Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #18, 1964); of the Black Widow's black bodysuit and Widow's Bite wrist weapon (Amazing Spider-Man #86, 1970); of the Avengers testing Spider-Man for membership (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, 1966); of the Avengers, a team of super heroes including Thor, Hulk & Iron Man, banded together as "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" (Avengers #1, 1963); Captain America joining the Avengers (Avengers #4, 1964); of Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch as members of the Avengers; Captain America as the Avengers leader (Avengers #16, 1965); of the Collector, an extraterrestrial procurer of rare items, including sentient people (Avengers #28, 1966); of the Falcon, alias Sam Wilson, a costumed African-American hero who is friends with Captain America (Captain America #117, 1969); of the extraterrestrial Skrulls, from whom the Chitauri were derived (Fantastic Four #2, 1962); of Prince T'Challa, the Black Panther, ruler of Wakanda, son of T'Chaka, a skilled fighter and bearer of the ceremonial Black Panther costume and identity; Wakanda, a secretive African nation surrounded by mountains who conceal the true state of their technological development; The Wakandans' superior technology including communication devices and anti-gravity ships; The Techno-Jungle in Wakanda, trees which have been infused with technology; the massive panther statue which lies above Wakanda's labs (Fantastic Four #52, 1966); Vibranium, an extraterrestrial metal found only in Wakanda where it forms an entire mountain; Vibranium's ability to absorb kinetic energy; the Wakandans harvesting Vibranium for their technology (Fantastic Four #53, 1966); of the giant statues of black panthers which adorn Wakanda (Fantastic Four #54, 1966); of the Hulk, Bruce Banner, a physicist who transforms into a massive, brutish creature with superhuman strength after exposure to gamma radiation; General Thaddeus Ross, a military officer (Incredible Hulk #1, 1962); of the Hulk colored green (Incredible Hulk #2, 1962); of Thor, Norse god of thunder, defender of Earth, wields a weapon which can control storms; Thor's blue costume with plated chest and bare arms (Journey into Mystery #83, 1962); of Loki, Thor's evil brother who possesses the power to cast illusions and wears green/yellow; Asgard, home of the Norse Gods which connects to Earth via the rainbow bridge Bifrost; Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost; Odin, father of Loki & Thor (Journey into Mystery #85, 1962); of Captain Marvel, an extraterrestrial hero (Marvel Super-Heroes #12, 1967); of Nick Fury, an experienced soldier (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Comandos #1, 1963); of Doctor Strange, a sorcerer based out of a sanctum in Greenwich Village who wages war against mystical forces of evil; Strange wearing a blue shirt; Doctor Strange's ally Wong; the Sanctum's window bearing a symbol with two curved lines pierced by a third line; of Doctor Strange's golden amulet which contains a mystical eye (Strange Tales #110, 1963); of Doctor Strange wearing a magical cape (Strange Tales #114, 1963); of Stephen Strange suffering damage to his hands (Strange Tales #115, 1963); of Wong's name (Strange Tales #119, 1964); of Doctor Strange being a Master of the Mystic Arts (Strange Tales #120, 1964); of sorcerers casting magical shields for defense in battle; Doctor Strange casting multiple illusions of himself to trick opponents (Strange Tales #123, 1964); of Doctor Strange's red Cloak of Levitation and round amulet (Strange Tales #127, 1964); of Doctor Strange's home called a Sanctum (Strange Tales #132, 1965); Nick Fury wearing an eyepatch (Strange Tales #135, 1965); of Doctor Strange's amulet being called the Eye of Agamotto (Strange Tales #136, 1965); of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist and designer of weapons for the US Army whose advanced armor grants him superhuman strength, flight and other devices (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963); of Iron Man's armor being gold; of Iron Man's unibeam in the center of his chestplate (Tales of Suspense #40, 1963); of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's secretary and romantic interest (Tales of Suspense #45, 1963); of Iron Man wearing red and gold armor (Tales of Suspense #48, 1963); of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, a spy who encounters Iron Man (Tales of Suspense #52, 1964); of Hawkeye, an expert marksman; Iron Man's chief weapon, repulsor rays (Tales of Suspense #57, 1964); of Jarvis, an entity who serves Tony Stark (Tales of Suspense #59, 1964); of the Cosmic Cube, a massively powerful artifact which the Red Skull seeks to control (Tales of Suspense #79, 1966); of Groot, an immense tree-like being from Planet X (Tales to Astonish #13, 1960); of Ant-Man, a size-changing super hero (Tales to Astonish #35, 1962); of Banner transforming into the Hulk during periods of high emotional stress; of the Hulk having a savage or childlike disposition (Tales to Astonish #60, 1964); of the Scarlet Witch, alias Wanda from eastern Europe; Wanda's vaguely-defined powers (X-Men #4, 1964)

Jack Kirby: creator of the Celestials, immense intergalactic creatures (Eternals #1, 1976); co-creator of the Avengers, a team of super heroes including Thor, Hulk & Iron Man, banded together as "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" (Avengers #1, 1963); Captain America as an Avenger (Avengers #4, 1964); of Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch as members of the Avengers; Captain America as the Avengers leader (Avengers #16, 1965); of Captain America, Steve Rogers, of Captain America's red, white and blue costume with stars & stripes on his chest; of James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, Steve's friend and partner who joins him in battle; of Captain America's preferred weapon, a shield; of the Red Skull, a Nazi agent who battles Captain America and Bucky (Captain America Comics #1, 1941); of the Red Skull being German (Captain America Comics #7, 1941); of the Skrulls, extraterrestrial invaders from whom the Chitauri were derived (Fantastic Four #2, 1962); of Prince T'Challa, the Black Panther, ruler of Wakanda, son of T'Chaka, a skilled fighter and bearer of the ceremonial Black Panther costume and identity; Wakanda, a secretive African nation surrounded by mountains who conceal the true state of their technological development; The Wakandans' superior technology including communication devices and anti-gravity ships; The Techno-Jungle in Wakanda, trees which have been infused with technology; the massive panther statue which lies above Wakanda's labs (Fantastic Four #52, 1966); of Vibranium, an extraterrestrial metal found only in Wakanda where it forms an entire mountain; Vibranium's ability to absorb kinetic energy; the Wakandans harvesting Vibranium for their technology (Fantastic Four #53, 1966); of the giant statues of black panthers which adorn Wakanda (Fantastic Four #54, 1966); of the Hulk, Bruce Banner, a physicist who transforms into a massive, brutish creature with superhuman strength after exposure to gamma radiation; General Thaddeus Ross, a military officer (Incredible Hulk #1, 1962); of the Hulk having green skin (Incredible Hulk #2, 1962); of Thor, Asgardian god of thunder whose magic weapon can control weather; Thor's blue bodysuit with discs on his chest (Journey into Mystery #83, 1962); of Loki, Thor's evil brother who possesses the power to cast illusions and wears green/yellow; Asgard, home of the Norse Gods which connects to Earth via the rainbow bridge Bifrost; Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost; Odin, father of Loki & Thor (Journey into Mystery #85, 1962); of the Vision, a green-garbed man in a cape (Marvel Mystery Comics #13, 1940); of Nick Fury, an experienced soldier (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1, 1963); Nick Fury wearing an eye-patch (Strange Tales #135, 1965); of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist and designer of weapons for the US Army whose Iron Man armor grants him superhuman strength, flight and a variety of inventions (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963); of Iron Man wearing gold armor; unibeam in the center of Iron Man's armor (Tales of Suspense #40, 1963); of Iron Man's armour coloured red & gold (Tales of Suspense #48, 1963); of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, a spy who encounters Iron Man (Tales of Suspense #52, 1964); of Jarvis, an entity who serves Tony Stark (Tales of Suspense #59, 1964); of the Cosmic Cube, a massively powerful artifact which the Red Skull seeks to control (Tales of Suspense #79, 1966); of Groot, an immense tree-like being from Planet X (Tales to Astonish #13, 1960); of Ant-Man, a size-changing costumed hero (Tales to Astonish #35, 1962); of the Scarlet Witch, Wanda from eastern Europe; Wanda's vaguely-defined powers (X-Men #4, 1964)

Jim Starlin: creator of Gamora turning against Thanos; of there being six soul gems which Thanos seeks to increase his ability to destroy life (Avengers Annual #7, 1977); of Gamora, a dangerous green-skinned woman who wields knives (Strange Tales #180, 1975); of Gamora's name (Strange Tales #181, 1975); of Gamora's species the Zenwhoberis; Gamora adopted by Thanos; Gamora operating as Thanos' assassin (Warlock #10, 1975); co-creator of Thanos questing after the Cosmic Cube (Captain Marvel #27, 1973); of Thanos in love with Death (Captain Marvel #28, 1973); of Drax motivated by the deaths of his wife Yvette and daughter, which involved Thanos (Captain Marvel #32, 1974); of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to eliminate 50% of all life in the universe by snapping his fingers; Gamora among those Thanos kills; hero falling into Doctor Strange's Sanctum to warn of Thanos' power (Infinity Gauntlet #1, 1991); of Black Panther being eliminated by Thanos (Infinity Gauntlet #2, 1991); of Thanos toying with his enemies, killing Vision, Spider-Man and the Scarlet Witch in battle; of Captain America almost defeating Thanos in one-on-one combat; of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to split his enemies apart (Infinity Gauntlet #4, 1991); of Thanos retiring to a simple life after using the Infinity Gauntlet (Infinity Gauntlet #6, 1991); of the title Infinity War (Infinity War #1, 1992); of Drax the Destroyer, a green-skinned man with great power and singular focus on hunting his enemies to their deaths; Thanos, a death-worshipping intergalactic warlord from Titan who inflicts genocide; Drax's vendetta against Thanos (Iron Man #55, 1973); of Thanos seeking to eliminate 50% of all life in the universe to restore cosmic balance (Silver Surfer #34, 1990); of Thanos justifying his goals because of the stress excessive life places on finite resources (Silver Surfer #35, 1990); of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to torture Nebula (Silver Surfer #45, 1991); of the Infinity Gems, six all-powerful stones; Thanos seeking the Infinity Gems to assemble his Infinity Gauntlet; gems identified as Soul Gem, Reality Gem, Space Gem, Time Gem, Mind Gem and Power Gem (Thanos Quest #1, 1990); of Thanos obtaining an Infinity Gem from the Collector (Thanos Quest #2, 1990)

Steve Ditko: co-creator of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, a teenage super hero garbed in red and blue with a red webbing design, spider emblem on chest, lenses in his mask and webbing in his armpits; Spider-Man swinging around on webbing fired from his web-shooters and climbing up walls (Amazing Fantasy #15, 1962); of Spider-Man's spider-sense power which warns him of danger (Amazing Spider-Man #1, 1962); of Spider-Man forming a parachute with his webbing (Amazing Spider-Man #7, 1963); of Spider-Man calling himself a 'friendly neighborhood' Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #17, 1964); of Ned, an associate of Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #18, 1964); of Doctor Strange, a sorcerer based out of a sanctum in Greenwich Village who wages war against mystical forces of evil; Strange wearing a blue shirt; Doctor Strange's ally Wong; the Sanctum's window bearing a symbol with two curved lines pierced by a third line; of Doctor Strange's golden amulet which contains a mystical eye (Strange Tales #110, 1963); of Doctor Strange wearing a magical cape (Strange Tales #114, 1963); of Stephen Strange suffering from severe damage to his hands (Strange Tales #115, 1963); of Wong's name (Strange Tales #119, 1964); of Doctor Strange being a Master of the Mystic Arts (Strange Tales #120, 1964); of sorcerers casting magical shields for defense in battle; Doctor Strange casting multiple illusions of himself to trick opponents (Strange Tales #123, 1964); of Doctor Strange's red Cloak of Levitation and round amulet (Strange Tales #127, 1964); of Doctor Strange's home called a Sanctum (Strange Tales #132, 1965); of Doctor Strange's amulet being called the Eye of Agamotto (Strange Tales #136, 1965); of Iron Man wearing red & gold armor (Tales of Suspense #48, 1963); of Banner transforming into the Hulk during periods of high emotional stress; of the Hulk having a savage or childlike disposition (Tales to Astonish #60, 1964)

Ron Lim: co-creator of Thanos toying with his enemies, killing Vision, Spider-Man and the Scarlet Witch in battle; of Captain America almost defeating Thanos in one-on-one combat; of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to split his enemies apart (Infinity Gauntlet #4, 1991); of Thanos retiring to a simple life after using the Infinity Gauntlet (Infinity Gauntlet #6, 1991); of the title Infinity War (Infinity War #1, 1992); of Thanos seeking to eliminate 50% of all life in the universe to restore cosmic balance (Silver Surfer #34, 1990); of Thanos justifying his goals because of the stress excessive life places on finite resources (Silver Surfer #35, 1990); of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to torture Nebula (Silver Surfer #45, 1991); of the Infinity Gems, six all-powerful stones; Thanos seeking the Infinity Gems to assemble his Infinity Gauntlet; gems identified as Soul Gem, Reality Gem, Space Gem, Time Gem, Mind Gem and Power Gem (Thanos Quest #1, 1990); of Thanos obtaining an Infinity Gem from the Collector (Thanos Quest #2, 1990)

Don Heck: co-creator of the Collector, a white-haired extraterrestrial who collects rare items, including sentient people (Avengers #28, 1966); of the Black Widow as an Avenger (Avengers #111, 1973); of Mantis, a heroic Asian woman with empathic powers (Avengers #112, 1973); of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist and designer of weapons for the US Army whose suit of Iron Man armor grants him superhuman strength, flight and special weapons (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963); of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's secretary and romantic interest (Tales of Suspense #45, 1963); of the Black Widow, alias Natasha Romanoff, a Russian spy, originally a KGB agent (Tales of Suspense #52, 1964); of Hawkeye, an expert archer; Iron Man's repulsor ray weapon (Tales of Suspense #57, 1964); Morgan, a member of Tony Stark's extended family (Tales of Suspense #68, 1965)

Larry Lieber: co-creator of Thor, Norse god of thunder, defender of Earth, wields a weapon which can control storms; Thor's blue costume with plated chest and bare arms (Journey into Mystery #83, 1962); of Loki, Thor's wicked brother who has the power to cast illusions; Loki garbed in green/yellow; of Asgard, the realm where Thor lives; Bifrost, the rainbow bridge which connects Asgard to other worlds; Odin, lord of Asgard, father of Thor and Loki; Heimdall, guardian of Bifrost (Journey into Mystery #85, 1962); of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist and designer of weapons for the US Army whose advanced Iron Man armor grants hi9m superhuman strength, flight and other inventions (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963); of Ant-Man, a size-changing costumed hero (Tales to Astonish #35, 1962)

Roy Thomas: co-creator of the Vision, a synthetic man with red skin, green costume and yellow cape with a jewel on his forehead; Vision's powers of flight and altering his density (Avengers #57, 1968); of the Vision joining the Avengers (Avengers #58, 1968); of Quinjets, the personal aircraft of the Avengers (Avengers #61, 1969); of M'Baku, a Wakandan sometimes-ally sometimes-foe of T'Challa who wears gorilla skins (Avengers #62, 1969); of Hawkeye's real name, Clint Barton (Avengers #64, 1969); of Vision and the Scarlet Witch having feelings for each other (Avengers #91, 1971); of Captain Marvel's star icon over red & blue design (Captain Marvel #17, 1969); of the Soul Gem, from which the Infinty Gems were derived (Marvel Premiere #1, 1970)

Mike Deodato Jr.: co-creator of Tony Stark mentoring Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #519, 2005); the Black Order, a team of extraterrestrials who devoutly serve Thanos and seek the Infinity Gems on his behalf, including: Proxima Midnight, a blue-skinned woman who wields a spear; Ebony Maw, who can manipulate matter and is sent to combat Doctor Strange; Corvus Glaive, a spear-wielding man; Black Dwarf, a large alien warrior; Outriders, Thanos' unhuman foot soldiers (New Avengers #8, 2013); of Thanos' forces invading Wakanda (New Avengers #10, 2013); of Steve Rogers' modified blue/white costume with brown gloves (Secret Avengers #1, 2010)

Mark Millar: co-creator of the US government being motivated by recent unfortunate tragedies in superhuman battles to legislate all super heroes; Captain America refusing to participate in this law because of fears of it being misused, Iron Man siding with the law (Civil War #1, 2006); of the heroes who sided with Captain America becoming vigilantes and refusing to comply with the law, dividing the Avengers in two (Civil War #7, 2007); Nick Fury depicted as Samuel L. Jackson with visible scars around his left eye; Iron Man's eyes & unibeam glowing light blue (Ultimates #2, 2002); of the Chitauri, an extraterrestrial army who battle the Avengers (Ultimates #8, 2002)

John Buscema: of the Vision, a synthetic man with red skin, green costume and yellow cape with a jewel on his forehead; Vision's powers of flight and altering his density (Avengers #57, 1968); of Quinjets, the personal aircraft of the Avengers (Avengers #61, 1969); of M'Baku, a Wakandan sometimes-ally sometimes-foe of T'Challa who wears gorilla skins (Avengers #62, 1969); of Nebula, a blue-skinned villainous space pirate (Avengers #257, 1985); of Nebula related to Thanos; Thanos' forces assaulting Xandar (Avengers #260, 1985); Eitri, dwarf who forges weapons for Asgard (Thor Annual #5, 1976)

Christopher Priest: co-creator of Black Panther wearing a Vibranium-weave uniform with lenses in his mask; of T'Challa wearing a beard; of Black Panther wearing a costume with golden necklace; The Dora Milaje, warrior women who serve as bodyguards for T'Challa; Okoye, a stoic member of the Dora Milaje, faithful to T'Challa (Black Panther #1, 1998); A white man in Wakanda being dubbed 'White Wolf' (Black Panther #4, 1999); of Black Panther wearing a necklace of talons around his neck (Black Panther #13, 1999); The Jabari, a Wakandan tribe to which M'Baku belongs (Black Panther #34, 2001)

Mike Friedrich: co-creator of the Falcon's mechanical wings (Captain America #170, 1974); of Thanos questing after the Cosmic Cube (Captain Marvel #27, 1973); of Thanos in love with Death (Captain Marvel #28, 1973); of Drax motivated by the deaths of his wife Yvette and daughter, which involved Thanos (Captain Marvel #32, 1974); of Drax the Destroyer, a green-skinned man with great power and singular focus on hunting his enemies to their deaths; Thanos, a death-worshipping intergalactic warlord from Titan who inflicts genocide; Drax's vendetta against Thanos (Iron Man #55, 1973)

George Perez: co-creator of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to eliminate 50% of all life in the universe by snapping his fingers; Gamora among those Thanos kills; hero falling into Doctor Strange's Sanctum to warn of Thanos' power (Infinity Gauntlet #1, 1991); of Black Panther being eliminated by Thanos (Infinity Gauntlet #2, 1991); of Thanos toying with his enemies, killing Vision, Spider-Man and the Scarlet Witch in battle; of Captain America almost defeating Thanos in one-on-one combat; of Thanos using the Infinity Gauntlet to split his enemies apart (Infinity Gauntlet #4, 1991)

Joe Simon: co-creator of Captain America, Steve Rogers, of Captain America's red, white and blue costume with stars & stripes on his chest; of James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, Steve's friend and partner who joins him in battle; of Captain America's preferred weapon, a shield; of the Red Skull, a Nazi agent who battles Captain America and Bucky (Captain America Comics #1, 1941); of the Red Skull being German (Captain America Comics #7, 1941); of the Vision, a green-garbed man in a cape (Marvel Mystery Comics #13, 1940)

Keith Giffen: co-creator of Star-Lord leading a team of agents including Mantis, Groot and Rocket Raccoon; Groot and Rocket Raccoon's friendship; Star-Lord's helmet with full faceplate, red goggles and breathing unit; Star-Lord favouring twin guns; Rocket favouring heavy artillery (Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord #1, 2007); of Drax's redesign with red body tattoos (Drax the Destroyer #3, 2006); of Drax wearing only pants (Drax the Destroyer #4, 2006); of Rocket Raccoon, an anthropomorphic adventurous raccoon (Marvel Preview #7, 1976)

Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning: co-creators of Groot's vocabulary limited to little more than "I am Groot" (Annihilation: Conquest #2, 2008); of Gamora, Drax, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Mantis and Groot banded together as the Guardians of the Galaxy; the Guardians of the Galaxy on Knowhere; Rocket as the team's tactician (Guardians of the Galaxy #1, 2008); of Groot's iterations of "I am Groot" having multiple meanings (Guardians of the Galaxy #17, 2009); of Knowhere, a city carved from the interior of a decapitated Celestial (Nova #8, 2008)

Len Kaminski: co-creator of Vision disguising his appearance using holograms (Avengers Spotlight #40, 1991); of the War Machine armor, a suit of Iron Man armor colored silver and grey and outfitted with heavy weaponry, including a shoulder-mounted canon (Iron Man #281, 1992); of the War Machine armor being worn by James Rhodes with a unibeam designed for its chest (Iron Man #284, 1992); of Iron Man using modular attachments to his armor to create a larger suit better able to fight the Hulk (Iron Man #304, 1994)

Jonathan Hickman: co-creator of the Black Order, a team of extraterrestrials who devoutly serve Thanos and seek the Infinity Gems on his behalf, including: Proxima Midnight, a blue-skinned woman who wields a spear; Ebony Maw, who can manipulate matter and is sent to combat Doctor Strange; Corvus Glaive, a spear-wielding man; Black Dwarf, a large alien warrior; Outriders, Thanos' unhuman foot soldiers (New Avengers #8, 2013); of Thanos' forces invading Wakanda (New Avengers #10, 2013)

Steve Englehart: co-creator of the Black Widow as an Avenger (Avengers #111, 1973); of Mantis, a heroic Asian woman with empathic powers (Avengers #112, 1973); of the Falcon's mechanical wings (Captain America #170, 1974); of Star-Lord, alias Peter Quill, a half-alien space-adventuring gun-wielding hero (Marvel Preview #4, 1976); of the Collector pursuing Infinity Gems (Silver Surfer #7, 1988); Eitri, dwarf who forges weapons for Asgard (Thor Annual #5, 1976)

Kevin Hopgood: co-creator of the War Machine armor, a suit of Iron Man armor colored silver and grey and outfitted with heavy weaponry, including a shoulder-mounted canon (Iron Man #281, 1992); of the War Machine armor being worn by James Rhodes with a unibeam designed for its chest (Iron Man #284, 1992); of Iron Man using modular attachments to his armor to create a larger suit better able to fight the Hulk (Iron Man #304, 1994)

Steve McNiven: co-creator of the US government being motivated by recent unfortunate tragedies in superhuman battles to legislate all super heroes; Captain America refusing to participate in this law because of fears of it being misused, Iron Man siding with the law (Civil War #1, 2006); of the heroes who sided with Captain America becoming vigilantes and refusing to comply with the law, dividing the Avengers in two (Civil War #7, 2007)

Mark Texeira: co-creator of Black Panther wearing a Vibranium-weave uniform with lenses in his mask; of T'Challa wearing a beard; of Black Panther wearing a costume with golden necklace; The Dora Milaje, warrior women who serve as bodyguards for T'Challa; Okoye, a stoic member of the Dora Milaje, faithful to T'Challa (Black Panther #1, 1998); A white man in Wakanda being dubbed 'White Wolf' (Black Panther #4, 1999)

John Byrne: creator of Thor called "Odinson" (Namor the Sub-Mariner #13, 1991); co-creator of Captain America & Iron Man having a tense relationship (Avengers #165, 1977); of the Falcon as an Avenger (Avengers #183, 1979); of Spider-Man as an Avenger (Avengers #316, 1990); of James "Rhodey" Rhodes, pilot and friend of Tony Stark (Iron Man #118, 1979); of Scott Lang, the new Ant-Man (Marvel Premiere #47, 1979)

Gene Colan: co-creator of Hawkeye's real name, Clint Barton (Avengers #64, 1969); of the Falcon, Sam Wilson, a costumed African-American hero who is friends with Captain America (Captain America #117, 1969); of Captain Marvel, an extraterrestrial hero (Marvel Super-Heroes #12, 1967); a team of heroes based in space called the Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Super-Heroes #18, 1969)

Brian Michael Bendis: co-creator of the Falcon joining Captain America in his conflict against Iron Man (New Avengers #21, 2006); of Hawkeye joining the renegade team of Avengers who followed Captain America (New Avengers #27, 2007); of Maria Hill, next in line to command S.H.I.E.L.D. (Secret War #5, 2005); of Nick Fury as an African-American man (Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #5, 2001)

Sal Buscema: co-creator of Vision and the Scarlet Witch having feelings for each other (Avengers #91, 1971); of the Falcon wearing a pair of mechanical wings (Captain America #170, 1974); of the Cauldron of the Cosmos, used by Doctor Strange for scrying purposes (Defenders #15, 1974); of Rocket Racccoon as a swashbuckling hero with the moniker "Rocket" (Incredible Hulk #271, 1982)

Mark Gruenwald: creator of the Collector's real name Taneleer Tivan (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #3, 1983); of Tony Stark identifying his armours with a "mark" system (the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #6, 1986); co-creator of Steve Rogers growing a beard after giving up the Captain America identity (Captain America #336, 1987)

Jason Aaron: co-creator of Doctor Strange wearing a buttoned-down version of his blue shirt (Doctor Strange #1, 2015); of Thor having a sister he didn't know of (Original Sin #5.1, 2014); of Thor wielding an axe forged by dwarves in place of his hammer (Thor: God of Thunder #1, 2013); of Thor with his hair cut short (The Unworthy Thor #2, 2017)

Timothy Green II: co-creator of Star-Lord leading a team of agents including recruits Mantis, Groot and Rocket Raccoon; Groot and Rocket Raccoon's friendship; Star-Lord's helmet with full faceplate, red goggles and breathing unit; Star-Lord favouring twin guns; Rocket favouring heavy artillery (Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord #1, 2007)

Roger Stern: co-creator of Vision wearing casual clothing (Avengers #254, 1985); of Nebula, a blue-skinned villainous space pirate (Avengers #257, 1985); of Nebula related to Thanos; Thanos' forces assaulting Xandar (Avengers #260, 1985); of James Rhodes as one of the Avengers (West Coast Avengers #1, 1984)

Ta-Nehisi Coates: co-creator of Black Panther wearing a costume with silver necklace which enfolds his body using nanites (Black Panther #1, 2016); Black Panther's costumes absorbing energy into its Vibranium circuitry with a purplish glow, releasing that energy in destructive blasts (Black Panther #2, 2016)

Brian Stelfreeze: co-creator of Black Panther wearing a costume with silver necklace which enfolds his body using nanites (Black Panther #1, 2016); Black Panther's costumes absorbing energy into its Vibranium circuitry with a purplish glow, releasing that energy in destructive blasts (Black Panther #2, 2016)

J. Michael Straczynski: co-creator of Tony Stark mentoring Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #519, 2005); of Tony Stark building a new costume for Spider-Man which includes retractable widget arms (Amazing Spider-Man #529, 2006); of sorcerers conjuring shields with decorative glyphs (Strange #5, 2005)

Ed Brubaker: co-creator of the Winter Soldier, a assassin, has cybernetic arm (Captain America #1, 2005); of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes being almost the same age (Captain America #5, 2005); of Captain America's modified blue/white costume with brown gloves (Secret Avengers #1, 2010)

Bill Mantlo: co-creator of Rocket Racccoon as a swashbuckling hero with the moniker "Rocket" (Incredible Hulk #271, 1982); of Contraxians, an extraterrestrial species (Jack of Hearts #1, 1984); of Rocket Raccoon, an anthropomorphic adventurous raccoon (Marvel Preview #7, 1976)

Bryan Hitch: co-creator of Nick Fury depicted as Samuel L. Jackson with visible scars around his left eye; Iron Man's eyes & unibeam glowing light blue (Ultimates #2, 2002); of the Chitauri, an extraterrestrial army who battle the Avengers (Ultimates #8, 2002)

John Romita: co-creator of the Black Widow's black bodysuit and Widow's Bite wrist weapon (Amazing Spider-Man #86, 1970); of the Avengers testing Spider-Man for membership (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, 1966); of the Falcon's red costume (Captain America #144, 1971)

Warren Ellis: co-creator of Iron Man armour assembling itself around Tony hands-free (Iron Man #5, 2006); of the Falcon wearing a military-style costume with large amounts of black and gray; the Falcon wielding guns (Ultimate Nightmare #1, 2004)

Robert Bernstein: co-creator of Iron Man's armor being gold; of Iron Man's unibeam in the center of his chestplate (Tales of Suspense #40, 1963); of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's secretary and romantic interest (Tales of Suspense #45, 1963)

Reginald Hudlin: co-creator of Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister (Black Panther #2); of the Dora Milaje wearing red & gold battlesuits and shaving their heads; The Dora Milaje wielding Vibranium spears as weapons (Black Panther #3, 2005)

John Romita Jr.: co-creator of Shuri, T'Challa's younger sister (Black Panther #2); of the Dora Milaje wearing red & gold battlesuits and shaving their heads; The Dora Milaje wielding Vibranium spears as weapons (Black Panther #3, 2005)

Paul Pelletier: co-creator of Gamora, Drax, Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Mantis and Groot banded together as the Guardians of the Galaxy; the Guardians of the Galaxy on Knowhere; Rocket as the team's tactician (Guardians of the Galaxy #1, 2008)

Mike Grell: creator of Iron Man's identity as Tony Stark being public knowledge (Iron Man #55, 2002); co-creator of Friday, an artificial intelligence used by Iron Man which has a feminine personality (Iron Man #53, 2002)

David Michelinie: co-creator of the Falcon as an Avenger (Avengers #183, 1979); of James "Rhodey" Rhodes, pilot and friend of Tony Stark (Iron Man #118, 1979); of Scott Lang as Ant-Man (Marvel Premiere #47, 1979)

Salvador Larroca: co-creator of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts as a couple (Invincible Iron Man #15, 2009); of Tony Stark building a suit of Iron Man armor based on nanotechnology (Invincible Iron Man #25, 2010)

Matt Fraction: co-creator of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts as a couple (Invincible Iron Man #15, 2009); of Tony Stark building a suit of Iron Man armor based on nanotechnology (Invincible Iron Man #25, 2010)

Walter Simonson: creator of Stormbreaker, an uru weapon forged by Eitri to imitate the power of Mjolnir (Thor #339, 1984); the Dark Elves (Thor #344, 1984); of Thor wearing a beard (Thor #367, 1986)

Brian K. Vaughan: co-creator of Dr. Strange's Cloak of Levitation behaving as though it had a mind of its own; of Doctor Strange wearing normal footwear with his costume (Doctor Strange: The Oath #1, 2006)

Marcos Martin: co-creator of Dr. Strange's Cloak of Levitation behaving as though it had a mind of its own; of Doctor Strange wearing normal footwear with his costume (Doctor Strange: The Oath #1, 2006)

Gil Kane: co-creator of Captain Marvel's star icon over red & blue design (Captain Marvel #17, 1969); of the Soul Gem, from which the Infinty Gems were derived (Marvel Premiere #1, 1970)

Mitch Breitweiser: co-creator of Drax's redesign with red body tattoos (Drax the Destroyer #3, 2006); co-creator of Drax wearing only pants (Drax the Destroyer #4, 2006)

Trevor Hairsine: co-creator of the Falcon wearing a military-style costume with large amounts of black and gray; the Falcon wielding guns (Ultimate Nightmare #1, 2004)

Adi Granov: creator of Iron Man armor design (Iron Man #75, 2004); co-creator of Iron Man armour assembling itself around Tony hands-free (Iron Man #5, 2006)

Al Ewing: co-creator of Thor having a sister he didn't know of (Original Sin #5.1, 2014); of Ayo, one of the shaven Dora Milaje (Ultimates #2, 2016)

Paul Ryan: co-creator of Spider-Man as an Avenger (Avengers #316, 1990); of the Avengers being responsible to the United Nations (Avengers #329, 1991)

Bob Hall: co-creator of Vision wearing casual clothing (Avengers #254, 1985); of James Rhodes as one of the Avengers (West Coast Avengers #1, 1984)

Don McGregor: co-creator of Wakandans behaving in a xenophobic manner about other nations, wishing to remain isolationist (Jungle Action #9, 1974)

Ron Garney: co-creator of Tony Stark building a new costume for Spider-Man which includes retractable widget arms (Amazing Spider-Man #529, 2006)

Ryan Odagawa: co-creator of Friday, an artificial intelligence used by Iron Man which has a feminine personality (Iron Man #53, 2002)

Steve Gan: co-creator of Star-Lord, alias Peter Quill, a half-alien space-adventuring gun-wielding hero (Marvel Preview #4, 1976)

Arnold Drake: co-creator of a team of heroes based in space called the Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Super-Heroes #18, 1969)

Leinil Francis Yu: co-creator of Hawkeye joining the renegade team of Avengers who followed Captain America (New Avengers #27, 2007)

Tom Morgan: co-creator of Steve Rogers growing a beard after giving up the Captain America identity (Captain America #336, 1987)

Don Rico: co-creator of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, a spy who encounters Iron Man (Tales of Suspense #52, 1964)

Archie Goodwin: co-creator of Tony Stark undergoing surgery to have the shrapnel removed from his heart (Iron Man #19, 1969)

Steve Epting: co-creator of the Winter Soldier, a legendary assassin, has a cybernetic arm (Captain America #1, 2005)

Brad Walker: co-creator of Groot's iterations of "I am Groot" having multiple meanings (Guardians of the Galaxy #17, 2009)

Leonardo Manco: co-creator of Tony Stark using technology to repair injuries done to James Rhodes (War Machine #1, 2008)

Esad Ribic: co-creator of Thor wielding an axe forged by dwarves in place of his hammer (Thor: God of Thunder #1, 2013)

Chris Bachalo: co-creator of Doctor Strange wearing a buttoned-down version of his blue shirt (Doctor Strange #1, 2015)

Tom Raney: co-creator of Groot's vocabulary limited to little more than "I am Groot" (Annihilation: Conquest #2, 2008)

Len Wein: co-creator of the Cauldron of the Cosmos, used by Doctor Strange for scrying purposes (Defenders #15, 1974)

Wellinton Alves: co-creator of Knowhere, a city carved from the interior of a decapitated Celestial (Nova #8, 2008)

Sal Velluto: co-creator of Black Panther wearing a necklace of talons around his neck (Black Panther #13, 1999)

Gabriele Dell'Otto: co-creator of Maria Hill, next in line to command S.H.I.E.L.D. (Secret War #5, 2005)

Michael Lark: co-creator of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes being nearly the same age (Captain America #5, 2005)

Jim Calafiore: co-creator of the Jabari, a Wakandan tribe to which M'Baku belongs (Black Panther #34, 2001)

Bob Layton: co-creator of James "Rhodey" Rhodes, pilot and friend of Tony Stark (Iron Man #118, 1979)

Gavin Curtis: co-creator of Vision disguising his appearance using holograms (Avengers Spotlight #40, 1991)

Al Hartley: co-creator of Morgan, a member of Tony Stark's extended family (Tales of Suspense #68, 1965)

George Freeman: co-creator of Contraxians, an extraterrestrial species (Jack of Hearts #1, 1984)

Jim Shooter: co-creator of Captain America & Iron Man having a tense relationship (Avengers #165, 1977)

Brandon Peterson: co-creator of sorcerers conjuring shields with decorative glyphs (Strange #5, 2005)

Michael Avon Oeming: co-creator of Thor losing an eye during the events of Ragnarok (Thor #84, 2004)

Larry Hama: co-creator of the Avengers being responsible to the United Nations (Avengers #329, 1991)

Mike Allred: co-creator of Nick Fury as an African-American man (Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #5, 2001)

Sara Barnes: co-creator of sorcerers conjuring shields with decorative glyphs (Strange #5, 2005)

Kenneth Rocafort: co-creator of Ayo, one of the shaven Dora Milaje (Ultimates #2, 2016)

Daniel Berman: co-creator of Thor losing an eye during the events of Ragnarok (Thor #84, 2004)

Andrea DiVito: co-creator of Thor losing an eye during the events of Ragnarok (Thor #84, 2004)

M.C. Wyman: co-creator of Nebula's body reinforced with cybernetics (Silver Surfer #72, 1992)

Keith Pollard: co-creator of Xandar, homeworld of the Xandarians (Fantastic Four #205, 1979)

Marshall Rogers: co-creator of the Collector pursuing Infinity Gems (Silver Surfer #7, 1988)

Marv Wolfman: co-creator of Xandar, homeworld of the Xandarians (Fantastic Four #205, 1979)

Gaspar Saladino: creator of the Avengers logo with enlarged letter "A" (Avengers #96, 1972)

Ron Marz: co-creator of Nebula's body reinforced with cybernetics (Silver Surfer #72, 1992)

Lee Garbett: co-creator of Thor having a sister he didn't know of (Original Sin #5.1, 2014)

Olivier Coipel: co-creator of Thor with his hair cut short (The Unworthy Thor #2, 2017)

Peter B. Gillis: creator of Nidavellir, one of the Nine Worlds (Thor Annual #10, 1982)

Dennis O'Neil: co-creator of James Rhodes wearing Iron Man armor (Iron Man #169, 1983)

Gary Friedrich: co-creator of the Falcon's red costume (Captain America #144, 1971)

Carlo Pagulayan: co-creator of Sakaar, an alien world (Incredible Hulk #92, 2006)

Greg Pak: co-creator of Sakaar, an alien world which (Incredible Hulk #92, 2006)

Kurt Busiek: co-creator of Tony Stark wearing a goatee (Iron Man #1, 1998)

Sean Chen: co-creator of Tony Stark wearing a goatee (Iron Man #1, 1998)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Spider-Man: Homecoming creator credits

I've finally seen last year's Spider-Man: Homecoming and I'm ready to talk about the various people seen in that film. Did I miss someone? Let me know in the comments.

Stan Lee: co-creator of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, a teenage super hero garbed in red and blue with a red webbing design, spider emblem on chest, lenses in his mask and webbing in his armpits; Peter gaining his powers from a radioactive spider bite; Spider-Man swinging around on webbing fired from his web-shooters and climbing up walls; Peter designing his own web-shooters and web fluid; Spider-Man motivated to use his powers to help others; Peter's aunt May Parker, who is not aware of Peter's double life; of Flash Thompson, a student who bullies Peter; of Liz Allan, one of Peter's classmates and a romantic interest; of Seymour, one of Peter's classmates; of Sally, one of Peter's classmates (Amazing Fantasy #15, 1962); of Peter Parker's interest in photography (Amazing Spider-Man #1, 1962); of Adrian Toomes, alias the Vulture, a thief who wears a high-tech flight guide equipped with wings and battles Spider-Man; of the Tinkerer, a master inventor who opposes Spider-Man; of Mr. Cobbwell, a professor who mentors Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #2, 1962); of Spider-Man's spider-signal flashlight (Amazing Spider-Man #3, 1963); of Betty Brant, a reporter in New York (Amazing Spider-Man #4, 1963); of Spider-Man's webbing dissolving after an elapse of time (Amazing Spider-Man #6, 1963); of Spider-Man forming a parachute with his webbing; of the Parkers living in Queens (Amazing Spider-Man #7, 1963); of Montana, a criminal who battles Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #10, 1964); of Spider-Man using spider-shaped tracers to track his enemies (Amazing Spider-Man #11, 1964); of Spider-Man calling himself a 'friendly neighborhood' Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #17, 1964); of Ned, an associate of Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #18, 1964); of Mac Gargan, a criminal who encounters Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #20, 1965); of Liz's mother Doris (Amazing Spider-Man #28, 1965); of Spider-Man struggling to hold back an immense load (Amazing Spider-Man #33, 1966); of the Shocker, a criminal equipped with technology which generates powerful vibrations, battles Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #46, 1967); of the Prowler, an African-American thief (Amazing Spider-Man #78, 1969); of the Avengers testing Spider-Man for membership, Spider-Man refusing to join (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, 1966); of the Avengers, a team of super heroes who include Iron Man, Hulk and Thor (Avengers #1, 1963); of Captain America as an Avenger; of Captain America frozen in ice until modern times (Avengers #4, 1964); of Black Panther, a black costumed super hero (Fantastic Four #52, 1966); of Vibranium, a near-indestructible metal (Fantastic Four #53, 1966); of Bruce Banner, a famous scientist and the monstrous Hulk (Incredible Hulk #1, 1962); of Thor, Norse god of thunder, garbed in blue with a red cape and magic hammer (Journey into Mystery #83, 1962); of Thor's magic belt of strength (Journey into Mystery #91, 1963); of the Howling Commandos, a World War II combat unit (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1, 1963); of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist whose Iron Man armor grants him superhuman strength, flight and special weapons (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963); of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's secretary and romantic interest; Happy Hogan, a former boxer turned chauffeur and bodyguard to Tony Stark; Stark Industries, Tony's technology company (Tales of Suspense #45, 1963); of Iron Man wearing red & gold armor (Tales of Suspense #48, 1963); of the Black Widow, a black-clad spy (Tales of Suspense #52, 1964); of Hawkeye, an expert archer with a variety of trick arrows; of Iron Man's repulsor ray weapons (Tales of Suspense #57, 1964); of the Super-Soldier Serum's creator being named Abraham Erskine (Tales of Suspense #63, 1965); of Ant-Man's identity as the enormous, super-strong Giant-Man (Tales to Astonish #49, 1963)

Steve Ditko: co-creator of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, a teenage super hero garbed in red and blue with a red webbing design, spider emblem on chest, lenses in his mask and webbing in his armpits; Peter gaining his powers from a radioactive spider bite; Spider-Man swinging around on webbing fired from his web-shooters and climbing up walls; Peter designing his own web-shooters and web fluid; Spider-Man motivated to use his powers to help others; Peter's aunt May Parker, who is not aware of Peter's double life; of Flash Thompson, a student who bullies Peter; of Liz Allan, one of Peter's classmates and a romantic interest; of Seymour, one of Peter's classmates; of Sally, one of Peter's classmates (Amazing Fantasy #15, 1962); of Peter Parker's interest in photography (Amazing Spider-Man #1, 1962); of Adrian Toomes, alias the Vulture, a thief who wears a high-tech flight guide equipped with wings and battles Spider-Man; of the Tinkerer, a master inventor who opposes Spider-Man; of Mr. Cobbwell, a professor who mentors Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #2, 1962); of Spider-Man's spider-signal flashlight (Amazing Spider-Man #3, 1963); of Betty Brant, a reporter in New York (Amazing Spider-Man #4, 1963); of Spider-Man's webbing dissolving after an elapse of time (Amazing Spider-Man #6, 1963); of Spider-Man forming a parachute with his webbing; of the Parkers living in Queens (Amazing Spider-Man #7, 1963); of Montana, a criminal who battles Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #10, 1964); of Spider-Man using spider-shaped tracers to track his enemies (Amazing Spider-Man #11, 1964); of Spider-Man calling himself a 'friendly neighborhood' Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #17, 1964); of Ned, an associate of Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #18, 1964); of Mac Gargan, a criminal who encounters Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #20, 1965); of Liz's mother Doris (Amazing Spider-Man #28, 1965); of Spider-Man struggling to hold back an immense load (Amazing Spider-Man #33, 1966); of Iron Man wearing red & gold armor (Tales of Suspense #48, 1963)

Jack Kirby: co-creator of the Avengers, a team of super heroes who include Iron Man, Hulk and Thor (Avengers #1, 1963; of Captain America as an Avenger; of Captain America frozen in ice until modern times (Avengers #4, 1964); of Captain America, Steve Rogers, a patriotic super hero garbed in a red, white and blue costume with 'A' on forehead and stars & stripes on his chest; of the scientist whose serum empowers Captain America (Captain America Comics #1, 1941); of Captain America's mask being fastened to his costume; of Captain America's round, red and white shield with star in its center (Captain America Comics #2, 1941); of Black Panther, a black costumed super hero (Fantastic Four #52, 1966); of Vibranium, a near-indestructible metal (Fantastic Four #53, 1966); of Bruce Banner, a famous scientist and the monstrous Hulk (Incredible Hulk #1, 1962); of Thor, Norse god of thunder, garbed in blue with a red cape and magic hammer (Journey into Mystery #83, 1962); of the Howling Commandos, a World War II combat unit (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1, 1963); of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist whose Iron Man armor grants him superhuman strength, flight and special weapons (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963); of Iron Man wearing red & gold armor (Tales of Suspense #48, 1963); of the Super-Soldier Serum's creator being named Abraham Erskine (Tales of Suspense #63, 1965); of Ant-Man's identity as the enormous, super-strong Giant-Man (Tales to Astonish #49, 1963)

Don Heck: co-creator of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist whose Iron Man armor grants him superhuman strength, flight and special weapons (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963); of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's secretary and romantic interest; Happy Hogan, a former boxer turned chauffeur and bodyguard to Tony Stark; Stark Industries, Tony's technology company (Tales of Suspense #45, 1963); of the Black Widow, a black-clad spy (Tales of Suspense #52, 1964); of Hawkeye, an expert archer with a variety of trick arrows; of Iron Man's repulsor ray weapons (Tales of Suspense #57, 1964)

Joe Simon: co-creator of Captain America, Steve Rogers, a patriotic super hero garbed in a red, white and blue costume with 'A' on forehead and stars & stripes on his chest; of the scientist whose serum empowers Captain America (Captain America Comics #1, 1941); of Captain America's mask being fastened to his costume; of Captain America's round, red and white shield with star in its center (Captain America Comics #2, 1941)

Len Kaminski: co-creator of the War Machine armor, a suit of Iron Man armor colored silver and grey and outfitted with heavy weaponry, including a shoulder-mounted canon (Iron Man #281, 1992); of the War Machine armor being worn by James Rhodes with a unibeam designed for its chest (Iron Man #284, 1992); of Iron Man using modular attachments to his armor to create a larger suit better able to fight the Hulk (Iron Man #304, 1994)

Kevin Hopgood: co-creator of the War Machine armor, a suit of Iron Man armor colored silver and grey and outfitted with heavy weaponry, including a shoulder-mounted canon (Iron Man #281, 1992); of the War Machine armor being worn by James Rhodes with a unibeam designed for its chest (Iron Man #284, 1992); of Iron Man using modular attachments to his armor to create a larger suit better able to fight the Hulk (Iron Man #304, 1994)

J. Michael Straczynski: co-creator of Mr. Harrington, a staff member at Midtown High School (Amazing Spider-Man #32, 2001); of May Parker finding out her nephew Peter is Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #35, 2001); of Tony Stark mentoring Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #519, 2005); of Tony Stark building a new costume for Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #529, 2006)

Mark Millar: co-creator of Iron Man and Captain America taking opposing sides on the issue of super heroes being registered by the government (Civil War #1, 2006); the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters (Ultimates #1, 2002); of the Chitauri, an extraterrestrial army who battle the Avengers (Ultimates #8, 2002)

John Buscema: co-creator of the Prowler, an African-American thief (Amazing Spider-Man #78, 1969); of Ultron, the Avengers' enemy, a robot (Avengers #54, 1968); of Vision, an android Avenger with phasing powers (Avengers #57, 1968); of Quinjets, the personal aircraft of the Avengers (Avengers #61, 1969)

Dwayne McDuffie: co-creator of Damage Control's connection to Tony Stark (Damage Control #3, 1989); of Anne Marie Hoag, head of Damage Control, an organization which cleans up the debris following battles between superhumans (Marvel Age Annual #4, 1988)

Ernie Colon: co-creator of Damage Control's connection to Tony Stark (Damage Control #3, 1989); of Anne Marie Hoag, head of Damage Control, an organization which cleans up the debris following battles between superhumans (Marvel Age Annual #4, 1988)

Larry Lieber: co-creator of Thor's magic belt of strength (Journey into Mystery #91, 1963); of Tony Stark, a wealthy industrialist whose Iron Man armor grants him superhuman strength, flight and special weapons (Tales of Suspense #39, 1963)

Robert Bernstein: co-creator of Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's secretary and romantic interest; Happy Hogan, a former boxer turned chauffeur and bodyguard to Tony Stark; Stark Industries, Tony's technology company (Tales of Suspense #45, 1963)

Mark Gruenwald: creator of Herman Scultz's name (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #10, 1983); of Jackson Brice's name (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition #4, 1986)

Brian Michael Bendis: co-creator of Stark Tower, the downtown Manhattan headquarters of the Avengers (New Avengers #3, 2005); of Aaron Davis, who steals advanced technology (Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1, 2011)

Steve McNiven: co-creator of Iron Man and Captain America taking opposing sides on the issue of super heroes being registered by the government (Civil War #1, 2006)

John Romita: co-creator of the Shocker, a criminal equipped with technology which generates powerful vibrations, battles Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #46, 1967); of the Avengers testing Spider-Man for membership, Spider-Man refusing to join (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3, 1966)

Roy Thomas: co-creator of Ultron, the Avengers' enemy, a robot (Avengers #54, 1968); of Vision, an android Avenger with phasing powers (Avengers #57, 1968); of Quinjets, the personal aircraft of the Avengers (Avengers #61, 1969); of Jim Morita, a World War II Nisei soldier who fought alongside the Howling Commandos (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #38, 1967)

Dick Ayers: co-creator of Jim Morita, a World War II Nisei soldier who fought alongside the Howling Commandos (Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #38, 1967)

Ryan Odagawa: co-creator of Friday, an artificial intelligence used by Iron Man which has a feminine personality (Iron Man #53, 2002)

Mike Grell: co-creator of Friday, an artificial intelligence used by Iron Man which has a feminine personality (Iron Man #53, 2002)

Ross Andru: co-creator of the Tinkerer supplying new and repaired technology to super-criminals (Amazing Spider-Man #160, 1976)

Len Wein: co-creator of the Tinkerer supplying new and repaired technology to super-criminals (Amazing Spider-Man #160, 1976)

David Finch: co-creator of Stark Tower, the downtown Manhattan headquarters of the Avengers (New Avengers #3, 2005)

John Romita Jr.: co-creator of Mr. Harrington, a staff member at Midtown High School (Amazing Spider-Man #32, 2001); of May Parker finding out her nephew Peter is Spider-Man (Amazing Spider-Man #35, 2001)

Kurt Busiek: co-creator of Jason Ionello and Tiny, students at Midtown High School (Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1, 1995)

Pat Olliffe: co-creator of Jason Ionello and Tiny, students at Midtown High School (Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1, 1995)

Sara Pichelli: co-creator of Aaron Davis, who steals advanced technology (Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1, 2011)

Bryan Hitch: co-creator of the Triskelion, S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters (Ultimates #1, 2002); of the Chitauri, an extraterrestrial army who battle the Avengers (Ultimates #8, 2002)

Salvador Larroca: co-creator of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts as a couple (Invincible Iron Man #15, 2009)

Matt Fraction: co-creator of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts as a couple (Invincible Iron Man #15, 2009)

Mike Deodato Jr.: co-creator of Tony Stark mentoring Peter Parker (Amazing Spider-Man #519, 2005)

Bill Mantlo: co-creator of Seymour's name (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #17, 1983)

Ed Hannigan: co-creator of Seymour's name (Amazing Spider-Man Annual #17, 1983)

Mark Bagley: co-creator of Spider-Man wearing a hoodie (Spider-Man #52, 1994)

Howard Mackie: co-creator of Spider-Man wearing a hoodie (Spider-Man #52, 1994)

Tom Lyle: co-creator of Spider-Man wearing a hoodie (Spider-Man #52, 1994)

James Hudnall: co-creator of Phineas Mason's real name (The Agent, 1989)

John Ridgway: co-creator of Phineas Mason's real name (The Agent, 1989)

Adi Granov: creator of Iron Man armor design (Iron Man #75, 2004)

Luke McDonnell: oc-creator of Iron Man's ability to control his armors remotely (Iron Man #174, 1983)

Dennis O'Neil: oc-creator of Iron Man's ability to control his armors remotely (Iron Man #174, 1983)

Joe Sinnott: co-creator of Thor's magic belt of strength (Journey into Mystery #91, 1963)

Bob Layton: co-creator of James "Rhodey" Rhodes, pilot and friend of Tony Stark (Iron Man #118, 1979)

John Byrne: co-creator of James "Rhodey" Rhodes, pilot and friend of Tony Stark (Iron Man #118, 1979)

David Michelinie: co-creator of James "Rhodey" Rhodes, pilot and friend of Tony Stark (Iron Man #118, 1979)

Don Rico: co-creator of the Black Widow, a black-clad spy (Tales of Suspense #52, 1964)

Peter David: co-creator of Spider-Man struggling to travel in the suburbs without high buildings to sling from (Amazing Spider-Man #267, 1985)

Bob McLeod: co-creator of Spider-Man struggling to travel in the suburbs without high buildings to sling from (Amazing Spider-Man #267, 1985)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Social justice and the Christian

The day’s work done, I sought the theatre. As I sank into my seat, the lady shrank and squirmed.

I beg pardon, I said.

“Do you enjoy being where you are not wanted?” she asked coldly.

Oh, no, I said.

“Well, you are not wanted here”

I was surprised. I fear you are mistaken, I said, I certainly want the music, and I like to think the music wants me to listen to it.

“Usher,” said the lady, “this is social equality.”

“No madame,” said the usher, “it is the second movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.” -W. E. B. Du Bois, "On Being Crazy"

Depending on what circles you travel in, 'social justice' is a divisive concept in the Christian church.

What is 'social justice'? People may try to argue the definition but I'll simply go by the Oxford definition: "The objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognized and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest." The earliest instance of the term may be an 1848 article by a Jesuit priest, Luigi Taparelli.

The question is... why are some self-professed Christians against social justice? One can certainly find plenty of examples of Jesus preaching on caring for the poor. And justice? Heck, Isaiah said "He will proclaim justice to the nations" (Isaiah 42:1) Jesus preached against injustice too, as in his criticisms of the Pharisees, the ones who because of their positions should have been right with God: "You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (Matthew 22:23) One of the great life verses of the Bible even states: "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

We see time and time again that God loves justice and that He desires for us to as well - that he desires to bring true justice to the Earth. And of course, the most wonderful thing about God is his grace to us - that He will spare us from what justice would otherwise demand - for "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us." (1 John 1:8-10).

So then, we Christians have been saved by a loving God, but we exist in an unjust world where individuals are told they matter less than others, where rights are unequally applied and decisions are made which are unfair or dishonest. If the Christ-life dwells within us, surely we ought to dislike these things and so stand with those who are for social justice?

Not according to some.

I beg you, look for the words "social justice" or "economic justice" on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If I'm going to Jeremiah's Wright's church? Yes! Leave your church. Social justice and economic justice. They are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, "Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?" - Glenn Beck, 2010

Beck is a Mormon but has been popular among conservative Christians. One need only enter the phrase "social justice is not the Gospel" into Google to find a number of Christian websites railing against the concept of social justice. One argument I spotted states: "You can eliminate every single thing Jesus ever said in his life about the poor and social justice, and still you will not undermine his main message one bit." Is that true? Hm. I seem to recall "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17) So what are those 'good works' Timothy wrote about?

I'm going to talk about James. James is not a popular epistle amongst some Christians because James advocated, well, y'know, works. Getting up and doing something. The human animal has never loved work. Martin Luther famously denounced James as an "epistle of straw" because:

In a word St. John’s Gospel and his first epistle, St. Paul’s epistles, especially Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians, and St. Peter’s first epistle are the books that show you Christ and teach you all that is necessary and salvatory for you to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book or doctrine. Therefore St. James’ epistle is really an epistle of straw, compared to these others, for it has nothing of the nature of the gospel about it. - Martin Luther

There are two dangerous ways we could treat James - the first would be to reject it because we don't believe works matter. The other would be to over-inflate it, to create a belief system where we think we are saved by what we do - an attitude a surprising number of Christians do hold.

So let's not start with James after all - let's start with St. Paul: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:8-10) That, then, is the tension we Christians have to resolve; we are saved by grace for works. The second should be the logical progression from the former.

To James, then: "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder." (James 2:12-19)

This is not something James invented out of whole cloth, this is a teaching supported by the Gospel - one of those passages people would like to 'eliminate.' “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41-46)

What we do with the grace we have been given - the works we perform because of the Christ-life within us - matters. Should we Christians care about social justice, then? Yes, 100%. It does not matter if we do not feel we are one of those people treated unequally, for "And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?" (Matthew 5:47) Jesus tells us time and time again to do more than what is asked of us, to walk the extra mile (Matthew 5:41), to give generously without expecting a return.

It's not that social justice is a bulletproof concept which cannot be perverted - I'm sure there are those who use it as a cudgel to strike others, just as some Christians try to pervert the Bible. But when someone claims they are suffering due to inequality - why would we turn a deaf or disbelieving ear to their pain?

I think there are a lot more Christians out there who are pro-social justice than there are anti; here's one at Huffington Post and here's a scholar arguing via John Calvin.

We want grace for ourselves; we want justice for ourselves; we are slow to grant these liberties to others. But if we are true followers of Christ, this should really not be a matter of opinion: "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44-45) I am a straight white male who lives a pretty comfortable life; I try to help those less fortunate than me because I believe that it how Jesus wants me to behave in my life. I can support the concept of 'social justice' as defined at the top of the page through the use of scripture. Can you dismiss it as easily?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Take four rights and you're back where you started.

Why do some creative people reject opportunities to change directions?

The combination of art and commerce has never got along entirely smoothly. Many creative people working in the entertainment industry are not in a position to control the decisions made about the properties they are employed on. People working on a radio program, television program, comic strip, film or comic book are frequently a hired hand who must temper their sensibilities to what the owners expect or else be out of work.

People who have toiled long within these fields on other people's properties often yearn to seize the means of production for themselves, to leave their former owners and create something wholly original in which they have a larger say in about creative decisions.

When creative people leave a property they were well-known for and move into something else, they don't necessarily continue in the same oeuvre which made them famous. When Dennis Weaver left Gunsmoke, it wasn't so he could star in a different western program; when McLean Stevenson left M*A*S*H his next show wasn't another army/medical comedy; Alex Raymond's post-Flash Gordon work was not science fiction.

But occasionally, creative people leave the property they were best-known for to take on exactly the same type of material they had been doing before. It can pay dividends; when Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll wanted to move their radio program Sam 'n' Henry from local broadcasting to national they couldn't because they didn't own the property; quitting the show, they developed a brand-new program which was basically the exact same thing with different names: Amos 'n' Andy. The latter show lasted 30+ years.

But more commonly, it doesn't work out; another radio show, The Great Gildersleeve was perhaps the first spin-off show (from Fibber McGee and Molly) and certainly established many of the tropes which spin-off programs use to this day. However, star Harold Peary - who had been playing Gildersleeve first on Fibber McGee, then on his own show and in motion pictures - wasn't satisfied with the level of creative input he had (among other things, he wanted more opportunities to sing). Peary left The Great Gildersleeve and launched a new program, Honest Harold; but Honest Harold was basically the exact same program - Peary played the same type of character and even employed some of the same supporting cast members. Meanwhile, Willard Waterman replaced Peary on The Great Gildersleeve and did a fine imitation of Peary; audiences had spent years bonding with the character of The Great Gildersleeve and were loathe to accept an impersonation, even coming from the man who created the original; Honest Harold flopped and Peary never had another hit.

When Image Comics launched in 1992, the founding seven creators played mostly within the same kind of stories they had been producing as hired guns for Marvel Comics (but with graphic violence). As Peter David observed at the time:

So when a creator boldly announces that he’s off to start his or her own line, my presumption and hope is that it’s going to be something new and visionary. It doesn’t have to be highly marketable. Indeed, Marvel and DC’s main flaw is that titles are expected to draw significantly higher sales than an independent would reasonably expect for his piece of the market pie. So “Hard Boiled” doesn’t have to sell like “X-Men.” No one expects it to.

If Todd said, “I’ve been dying to do a good romance comic,” I’d be thrilled. If Erik said, “My life’s goal is to produce a solid western,” I’d be impressed.

So what’s Image publishing?

Superheroes.

Young superheroes. SWAT Team superheroes. Young freelance superheroes. A group of superheroes.

I mean…haven’t we got Marvel and DC for that? Why have X-Force clones when we’ve got X-Force?

Indeed, Rob Liefeld's Youngblood was made up of characters he had originally created as unused redesigns for titles like Legion of Super-Heroes and Teen Titans. Violence aside, there was very little different between X-Force and Youngblood, aside from fan investment in existing characters and publishing identities.

Sticking with similar type of material leads to creative people being typecast; when Johnny Weismuller left the Tarzan films to be Jungle Jim, he merely left one type of jungle hero films for another. Basil Rathbone suffered from being typecast as the detective hero Sherlock Holmes in film and radio; he finally abandoned the role to take on the part of... detective Basil Rathbone in the radio series Tales of Fatima, doing absolutely nothing to halt his typecasting.

For contrast, look to Jack Webb, who started in radio with the serious news-commentary program One Out of Seven, then the very-burlesque humour of The Jack Webb Show. For a time he settled into programs where he played wry private detectives - Jeff Regan, Pat Novak, Johnny Modero - but broke out of those parts with his show Dragnet, a successful attempt at a grounded police drama. Even with the fame of Dragnet, he didn't simply branch out into other kinds of cop dramas - his other big passion project was the jazz/crime series Pete Kelly's Blues.

I had some understanding of this when I worked at Marvel - I didn't want to be known just as an Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe guy, so I jumped at the chance to write introductory text in Untold Tales of the New Universe, to write the trade dress for trade paperbacks and step outside my comfort zone for properties like Anita Blake and Image's Proof. If you intend to be considered a creative person, you can't simply toil at the same kind of thing from project to project - not if you want to be considered vital. Do the same thing for too long and people will assume that... well, that's all you've got to offer.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Starlin's Thanos, part 10 of 10: Forever Infinite.

Need to catch up? Part 1: The Mad Titan and the Cosmic Cube; Part 2: Chaos Meets the True Neutral; Part 3: Laid to Rest; Part 4: The Gloves Are On; Part 5: The Power Glove; Part 6: They Bite; Part 7: The Holiest War; Part 8: Gazed Too Long; Part 9: False Conclusions

And just like that, Thanos was everywhere.

He was in Brian Michael Bendis & Mark Bagley's Avengers Assemble; he starred in a mini-series by Jason Aaron & Simone Bianchi; he was the instigating antagonist of Jonathan Hickman & Jim Cheung's line-wide crossover Infinity; and he was in a post-credits scene at the end of 2011's hit film The Avengers.

Where Thanos wasn't was under Jim Starlin's thumb.

The courtesies previously granted to Starlin were now clearly on the skids; creators (such as Hickman & Cheung) had no problem with altering Thanos' costume, sending him after the Infinity Gems again and otherwise treating him as a constantly-restless would-be conqueror.

Starlin hadn't even been given notice that Thanos would be making his big screen debut and it rankled him; fortunately, with all the cash Thanos was bringing into Marvel, there was a little to spread around. Starlin had spent most of his time since the Thanos ongoing working for DC Comics, but Marvel hired him back to run a series of original graphic novels starring Thanos.

The first three novels tell one long story of Thanos battling Annihilus. They are titled: Thanos: The Infinity Revelation (2014), Thanos: The Infinity Relativity (2015) and Thanos: The Infinity Finale (2016). Starlin drew the first two books, but brought in Ron Lim to draw the third (all inks by Andy Smith). Marvel was definitely banking on the combination of Thanos + Starlin + Infinity to once again = $$$$. For his part, Starlin brought in elements from the contemporary Marvel cosmic titles, using the Annihilators and Guardians of the Galaxy teams.

Between the graphic novels Starlin authored tie-ins; first came Thanos Annual (2014), drawn by Ron Lim and inked by Andy Smith; set following Thanos' defeat by Captain Marvel, it has Thanos encounter his future self from The Infinity Gauntlet, who tries (and fails) to enlighten his younger self.

Next came Thanos vs. Hulk #1-4 (2015), drawn by Starlin and inked by Andy Smith; finally there was Infinity Entity (2016) #1-4, drawn by Alan Davis and inked by Mark Farmer. The collaboration between Starlin/Davis/Farmer seemed a happy one as soon after they reunited for the mini-series Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy.

Just this month, Starlin/Davis/Farmer united yet again for Thanos: The Infinity Siblings, yet another original graphic novel. According to Starlin, this graphic novel is actually setting itself up as the middle part of a trilogy (the earlier Revelation/Relativity/Finale being the first third). How many combinations of 'Infinity __________' can Marvel publish? I suppose we'll find out. The new graphic novel is quite good and, for the first time, shows Starlin taking an interest in Thanos' brother Eros as Eros finally matures and demonstrates some careful long-term planning - and the two brothers are even united in common cause. Starlin once again demonstrated some good faith to other creators as he utilized the costume & thralls Hickman & Cheung had given Thanos during their Infinity.

Starlin remains somewhat short-tempered when interviewers ask him about Thanos, but if he truly means to continue his current storyline over the next few years, I'm all for it. Keith Giffen aside, I haven't found that Marvel has any authors willing to grant Thanos the wit, intellect and sense of wonder that Starlin imbues his creation with. Thanos is best left in Starlin's hands, as other creators tend to simply retread The Infinity Gauntlet (and only the first 4 issues of the series at that).

Very shortly the feature film Avengers: Infinity War will reach theatres. The fortunes of that film will no doubt determine a portion of Thanos' future in the comics.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"They worship a criminal?" Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #1 review

Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden is a new 7 issue mini-series by creator Stan Sakai, continuing the tales of his rabbit ronin from the Usagi Yojimbo ongoing series. Like the earlier Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, this series replaces the ongoing for its duration. Likely this is meant to help raise the title's profile in the hopes that new readers might finally sample Usagi when they see the new #1. Hey, whatever brings in more fans; I would be very happy if Sakai kept writing & drawing Usagi Yojimbo until his death (and hopefully no one will continue the series without him).

Over the decades Sakai has written many multi-part stories in Usagi Yojimbo; so what makes this tale worthy of a seven-issue telling? The story is somewhat unusual in that the subject is the spread of Christianity during the age of feudal Japan. Sakai had earlier used this subject for a single tale where the Christian element was a last page surprise reveal. This time, Christians (or 'Kirishitans' as the characters call them) are front and center.

If you saw Martin Scorcese's recent film Silence - then, hi, you must be the other one. As in Silence, one of the methods the Japanese use to ferret out Christian believers is to demand they tread upon an image of the cross. In this story, Usagi is simply confused when it occurs; he knows nothing of Christianity and has no idea what kind of loyalty test it is meant to be.

The best part of the comic is Usagi engaging in a conversation about the Christians with his friend Inspector Ishida. As Ishida explains Christian beliefs, it becomes clear neither of them can quite grasp how the faith functions - their own Buddhist beliefs are simply too incompatible. It's particularly interesting to note they can't understand why Christianity's deity could be considered a model person when he was punished as a criminal. Heck, there are plenty of Christians who fumble with the idea of Christ's crucifixion.

Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden is published by Dark Horse Comics. You should give it a shot.