Vision in Review: I Too Shall Be Saved By Love

(Special note: The Vision, like many characters of Marvel Comics, was created by Stan Lee, alongside ‎Roy Thomas‎, and John Buscema. Stan Lee passed away this afternoon, which I learned literally while typing up this piece, and it is hard to think of a single other creator responsible for a legacy that has inspired and … Continue reading Vision in Review: I Too Shall Be Saved By Love

The Overture

The Spectatorial

smSpoiler disclaimer: this post discusses certain events in The Sandman (although it doesn’t divulge the ending).

The Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s seminal dark fantasy graphic novel series, which ran 76 issues from January 1989 to March 1996, is finally over.

It might seem strange making that statement now, in 2015, but it isn’t. From 2013 until this past September, The Sandman had returned to us in the glorious form of The Sandman: Overture, a prequel to the original stories.

In the first issue back in 1989, Morpheus, the lord of dreams, was captured by humans. The story alluded to some great cosmic struggle that had weakened his powers and allowed for his capture, but the series never touched on the backstory more than that. This is the story that Overture endeavours to tell, and it does so with majesty.

The problem with prequels is that they usually have nothing…

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Jessica Jones: It’s Time to Learn Her Name

The Spectatorial

The_Pulse_Vol_1_11_page_00_Jessica_Jones_(Earth-616)

When Marvel announced that it would be putting out several series on Netflix about street-level heroes, they told us who we’d be getting: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones. And as I tried to force everyone I know to be just as excited as I was, whenever I reached the name Jessica Jones (to be played by Krysten Ritter), I was given a single overwhelming response:

“Who?”

With her thirteen-episode Netflix series by showrunner Melissa Rosenberg coming out in November, and my moral compulsion to tell people about good comics, I’ve decided, fine—I’ll tell you who Jessica Jones is.

In her short history of publication, a lot has happened to Jessica Jones. She gets married to Luke Cage (to be played by Mike Colter), they have a baby (who practically all the Avengers babysit), she and Luke run an Avengers team, and they fight off an alien invasion!…

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The Flash Season One: “Run, Barry, Run!”

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the flash photo

“Life is locomotion… If you’re not moving, you’re not living.”

So begins the famous motto of the comic book hero the Flash, and when adopting the story of Barry Allen for the small screen, it’s clear that this motto was taken to heart. With apparently no fear that it will run out of stories, The Flash ran through its first season at breakneck speed.

When Barry Allen was a little boy in Central City, he saw his mother, Nora (Michelle Harrison), be murdered in a yellow ball of light, and his father Henry (John Wesley Shipp) was charged with her murder. Barry goes to live with his parent’s friend, police detective Joe West (the amazing Jesse L. Martin), and Joe’s daughter Iris West (Candice Patton).

Fifteen years later, a bunch of scientists at a place called S.T.A.R. Labs blow up something called a particle accelerator, Barry gets struck by lightning…

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Sandman : Handful of Dust

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sandman shushes me Image from empireonline.com

When a young Neil Gaiman first approached Vertigo comics about The Sandman, he was pitching a simple revival of the 70s series of the same name by Joe Simon and Jack “The King” Kirby. But DC editor Karen Berger insisted that while they keep the name, Gaiman should create a new character.

And thank goodness he did, for otherwise the world would have been robbed of something beautiful. Running from 1989 to 1996, for a total 75 issues collected in 10 volumes, The Sandman managed to create its very own expansive self-contained mythology.

The original artists Mike Dringenberg and Sam Kieth fashioned the title character after Gaiman himself. The Sandman, also known as Morpheus or Dream, and by many other names, carries with him an aura of inhumanity. While early issues exist in the DC comic universe with appearances by The Martian Manhunter and John Constantine…

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Imagine Magic! In Defense of Fantasy Literature

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“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”

― Dr. Seuss

Fantasy has been a part of the literary tradition since literature began.

In fact, the case could be made that fantasy was the first literature of ancient culture. From Jewish folklore thousands of years old to the Greek epics of Homer such as the Odyssey and Roman tales like Virgil’s Aeneid, the first stories of literature were about the fantastical. They were about magic, and monsters, and mad heroes going on impossible journeys.

These stories are taught in schools and are respected as great classics. So when did some people begin to lose respect for the fantastic? At what point did people decide to relegate fantasy to the fringes of literature under the classification “genre fiction”?

Today the fantastical dominates both the big and small screens. Fantasy is everywhere, and…

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A Good Land for Myths

The Spectatorial

Throughout Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel American Gods, many different characters state that “America is a bad land for gods.”  The novel argues that when many beliefs sail across the ocean to reach our continent, they struggle to survive.

While I cannot say whether America is in fact a good or bad land for gods, I can be very confident when I say that America is a very good land for myths and legends.

Today’s culture is filled with modern interpretations of ancient myths. Marvel comics has depicted characters such as Thor, Ares, and Hercules fighting alongside masked avengers as superheroes, even bringing their version of Thor to life on the big screen. DC comics also has attempted to pull stories from myth, occasionally linking the hero Wonder Woman to the Greek gods. Vertigo comics also saw several adaptations of ancient mythologies represented in the comic The Sandman (another…

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Without Fear: The Devil in Depression

The Spectatorial

just put this one first cause it looks neat, daredevil by david mack Art by Dave Mack

Superheroes have struggles and conflict. Their stories need this. Without conflict, they wouldn’t have any reason to wear spandex and go jumping off rooftops. But not all conflicts have to be outlandishly dressed villains. The Marvel character Matt Murdock/Daredevil has his share of foes (mostly ninjas). Matt’s crusade against Wilson Fisk, the criminal Kingpin of New York, and the other villains who invade his ninja-filled home in Hell’s Kitchen is fantastic, and his representation of disability as a blind superhero (albeit with some fun powers) makes for some fun adventures. But this is not all of what makes this character so great.

Daredevil struggles with depression. This is a comic book character who has openly confessed to struggling with clinical depression; this is a comic book that has treated depression as a mental illness and has portrayed it realistically.

It didn’t start out that way. In his…

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The Stuff What Don’t Get Spoke: Hawkeye and Disability Done Well

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Hawkeye 5JPG Art by David Aja

“You can get it all back.”

Hawkeye (Vol. 4) written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by David Aja (Vol. 4), is arguably the best comic book that Marvel has put out in recent years. The comic pays equal attention to the bow-wielding Avenger Clint Barton and his Young Avenger counterpart Kate Bishop. Both share the title of Hawkeye, and both of them are great, but that’s not all it’s got. Hawkeye also has tracksuit-wearing, gun-toting Mafia villains, an issue from the perspective of a dog, and a passing reference to the movie Blade Runner.

But the greatest achievement of this series comes with the July issue, #19. I this twenty-two page story, the makers of Hawkeye give us a story of disability done well.

As a result of a previous issue, Clint Barton has lost his hearing and his brother Barney has lost the use…

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No Capes! An Introduction to Comics and Graphic Novels of the Non-Superhero Variety

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If you’ve read my previous articles for TheSpectatorial, you may have picked up on the fact that I like comic books. I think the graphic novel is a fantastic vehicle with which to tell or devour stories. But there is one thing that prevents a lot of people from being sucked into this great medium: capes. There is an idea that comic books are about superheroes, and superhero stories might not be for everyone. That’s okay! I’m here to tell you that there are entire worlds of books out there for you to explore! There are literary graphic novels! Independent, creator-owned comics! And they’re great.

The literary/alternative graphic novel is not exactly new, and whether you know it or not, has been seeping into the public conscious for years. If you haven’t come across the books themselves, then you have almost certainly come into contact with their small/big…

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