7 Religious Characters Who Aren’t Crazy Sep21

7 Religious Characters Who Aren’t Crazy...

Last week, we listed the religious villains who are crazy and terrifying because of their fanaticism. But today, we’re talking about the characters we love who demonstrate a peaceful, loving faith in a deity beyond their understanding. I love it when faith is depicted as something that real, logical, and smart people choose, despite opposition from society. 1. Leliana, Dragon Age As a member of the Chantry and worshiper of the Maker, Leliana is devoted to her faith. In the first game, you have the option to make fun of her faith or support it, but she remains true to her religion whatever you do. She’s also a wise, useful party member and plays a pivotal role in Dragon Age: Inquisition as the Inquisition’s spymaster and adviser. “In the cloister, away from the fuss and the flurry of the cities, I found peace. And in that stillness, I could hear the Maker.” —Leliana 2. Suvi Anwar, Mass Effect: Andromeda Suvi is a scientist and a believer in a higher power, a combination you don’t see often in science fiction. It’s refreshing hearing her describe science as bringer her closer to something greater than herself. She’s willing to logically discuss her faith if you don’t agree with her, and appreciative if you do. “I’ve had to defend what I believe so often and I have to admit, I’m a little tired of it. Whenever I meet someone who feels the same, or just understands, I really appreciate it.” —Suvi 3. Shepherd Book, Firefly Shepherd is a refreshing type of science fiction missionary, because he doesn’t try to force his faith on others and isn’t a fanatic. He’s simply present, caring for the crew as he can, and he even struggles with his faith and morals as the crew of the Serenity encounter...

7 Religious Villains Whose Fanaticism is Terrifying Sep14

7 Religious Villains Whose Fanaticism is Terrifying...

September’s Area of Effect theme is “Religion,” and we asked folks which villains terrify them because of their warped devotion to a religion or specific belief. For some reason, there’s something extra creepy about characters who do horrible things in the name of holiness, or because they believe they’ve become godlike themselves. 1. Caleb, Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Combine priest with serial killer, sociopath, and misogynist—that’s Nathan Fillion’s character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As the physical form of the First Evil with a strength to rival Buffy’s, he’s one of the most unsettling villains I’ve ever seen; the way he presents himself in such a logical, calm manner, even as he’s poking Xander’s eye out, is terrifying. ” —Allison Barron 2. Apocalypse, X-Men: Apocalypse “Since he’s the first of the Mutants, he has nearly infinite powers. And he’s willing to allow practically unlimited collateral damage to take over the world.” —Alex Mellen 3. L’Rell, Star Trek: Discovery “The use of prayer to awaken her lover from within their previously tortured enemy prisoner was really, truly terrifying. And, if I remember correctly, strong hearts are the most important part of Klingon religion, so she thought she was 100% justified in the manner with which she ‘saved’ Voq. The justification of warped theology that leads to further justification of immoral actions in a time of desperation terrifies me.” —Ashley Mowers 4. Brother Justin Crowe, Carnivale “The evil festering in his soul as he draws a huge crowd of the poor and marginalized to follow him for his own selfish reasons [is terrifying].” —Derek White 5. Anubis, Stargate: SG-1 “Anubis is a goa’uld (which are scary enough because they can take over a host body). Anubis did something so horrible the other goa’uld tried to banish and kill...

10 Top Dogs from Fandom Aug31

10 Top Dogs from Fandom

There’s something special about faithful, furry companions in our favourite stories. And how do we make a top ten list when there are so many wonderful canines in geek culture? Let the fans decide! We ran daily “Dog Days of Summer” matchups over August on our Facebook page to make the following countdown. 10. Cosmo Marvel’s spacedog is a liaison to the Guardians of the Galaxy, helping them plan their wild adventures. Former test animal of the Soviet Space Program and current head of security in a city called Knowhere, the talking dog hides the city’s citizens in a dimensional envelope on his collar during the events of Nova comics. Plus, he’s telekinetic and telepathic; as long as his psionic blast isn’t directed at you, you couldn’t ask for a more protective friend. “That does it. That enough. No more Mr. Nice Dog. Now Cosmo will hurt everyone.” —Cosmo 9. Wolf Link All right, all right, he’s not technically a dog, especially since he’s a human in disguise, but we still want him as our best friend. Playable in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wolf Link can also be summoned in Breath of the Wild as a companion for Link. “Wolf Link is summoned from another plane of existence and can’t be seen by other people in this world.” —Breath of the Wild Loading Screen Tip 8. Gromit Wallace’s loveable companion in the Wallace and Gromit movies, Gromit was originally going to be voiced by Peter Hawkins, but that idea was dropped when creators realized how expressive he could be just from his eye movements. Gromit is skeptical of Wallace’s inventions and tends to do most of the work for his bumbling friend. He also reads books, listens to Bach, and is great at solving puzzles. “Er, Gromit, old pal? It happened again. I’ll need assistance.” —Wallace, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit 7. Zwei It’s not every day you find a dog that happily fits into a small package along with enough food to last him months. He’s also apparently fireproof and incredibly tough, as seen when he destroys an Atlesian Paladin-290 in “No Brakes.” His name is possibly a reference to Cowboy Bebop‘s Ein, also a Welsh Corgi. Eins is the German word for “one” and Zwei means “two.” “Are you telling me that this mangy… drooling… mutt… is going to wiv with us foweva?” —Weiss 6. Underdog As long as you don’t mind him speaking in rhyming couplets and phone booths exploding after he changes into his superhero outfit,  Underdog seems like a handy canine to have around. Able to move planets and fly, among many other superpowers, there doesn’t seem to be much he can’t do. “There is no need to fear; Underdog is here!” 5. Snowy Tintin’s companion, Snowy sometimes struggles making th e right decision when bones or Loch Lomond whisky are on the line. He originally had a dry, cynical personality to balance Tintin’s positivity, but eventually morphed into light-hearted comic relief. “Tintin! Are you dead? Say yes or no, but answer me!” —Snowy, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets 4. K-9 First appearing with the Fourth Doctor in “The Invisible Enemy,” K-9 is known for his ability to beat the Doctor at chess and as Sarah Jane Smith’s companion. Apparently, the writers originally wanted to name him “Pluto” after the Disney character, but Disney refused permission. They also considered calling him FIDO (“Phenomenal Indication Data Observation”). “Affirmative!” —K-9 3. Huan Given to Celegorm, Feanor’s third son, Huan is as large as a small horse and has special powers granted by the Valar. He took pity on Luthien when she was captured and helped her escape, assisting her in killing Sauron’s werewolves and even winning a battle against Sauron’s wolf-form. A prophesy stated Huan could only be killed by the greatest wolf that ever lived. “Arise! Away! / Put on thy cloak! Before the day / comes over Nargothrond we fly / to Northern perils, thou and...

Area of Effect is Open to Sponsors! Aug27

Area of Effect is Open to Sponsors!...

Area of Effect magazine is looking for more advertising sponsors to help us print 1,000 copies of the magazine to distribute for free at conventions and events in Winnipeg. This is a good opportunity for local businesses to reach our demographic, serving the nerd and geek community in a unique way! ABOUT THE MAGAZINE Area of Effect is both online (three articles are published every week at geekdomhouse.com, which gets 5,000 pageviews per month) and in print (1,000 copies of a physical magazine are printed in December). The purpose of the publication is to inspire people to think deeply about the themes and issues that are present in video games, sci-fi and fantasy stories, anime, and comics, and to encourage a dialogue between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. Our regular contributors include editors, university professors, scholars, pastors, and professional writers. View previous copies of the print magazine here. ABOUT THE PUBLISHER Geekdom House is a Christian charitable organization based in Winnipeg, MB, under the Free Methodist Church of Canada. Our mission is to love and serve the nerd and geek community. BECOMING A SPONSOR Your sponsorship supports writers, artists, and readers from around the world who engage with Area of Effect, and helps us distribute copies of the magazine throughout the year at conventions, churches, and events in and around Winnipeg. With your help, the magazine is given away for free, granting access to young adults who can’t afford subscriptions. Sponsors receive a print ad in the magazine and link to their website on the Area of Effect pages at geekdomhouse.com. For more information on sponsorship levels, ad dimensions, distribution, or to set up your sponsorship, contact...

8 Characters Who Impact My Faith from Comic Con Christianity Aug24

8 Characters Who Impact My Faith from Comic Con Christianity...

How does geek culture impact faith and vice versa? Geekdom House is all about answering this question, and Comic Con Christianity by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry contributes wonderfully to the conversation. A Catholic and nerd, Perry connects geek stories to her experience with the Church, and made me think about these characters in a new light. All the quotes below are from her book, and only brush the surface of the hero-inspired journey contained within its pages! 1. The Tick: There’s Space for Everyone The City has tons of heroes to defend it, but they’re constantly “at odds with each other, causing one another to fail.” The Tick sounds kind of insane, but he showed them that they could get things done together instead of wasting time squabbling. This reminds me of the Church—full of really good people, but often too concerned with petty arguments or who they should be shutting out of their doors and not concerned enough about modeling Jesus’ welcoming behaviour. Sometimes I’m ashamed to call myself a Christian because of this public behaviour. “Everyone is necessary. Everyone is welcome. Everyone has a place,” writes Perry. Exactly! “Sometimes, it’s enough to just be willing to step out in faith and show up because something that is whispering in our hearts calls us to be greater.” 2. Aragorn: Jesus is Humble Jesus “was sort of like a Ranger—he was the True King of Israel, but remained incognito until it was time for him to act.” He did miracles of healing but would often tell the healed not to spread word about him, sharing God’s mercy with people who needed to hear it. I think this humility is important for me to model in relationship with others. “It was vital to our understanding of God’s...

Call for Writers Aug03

Call for Writers

Do you want to write for us? Area of Effect magazine, published by Geekdom House since 2015, offers faith-based opinion and commentary on geek culture and topics like addiction, violence, abuse, mental health, identity, community, and more. The purpose of the magazine is to inspire people to think deeply about the themes and issues that are present in video games, sci-fi and fantasy stories, anime, and comics, and to encourage a dialogue between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. We’re looking for a few new writers who are excited about combining their faith, morality, philosophy, social justice, and more with their geeky interests. As geeks we tend to (over) analyze the fandoms we love and our goal for Area of Effect is to take those same conversations we have with our friends, dig a little deeper, and publish them. Requirements: a willingness to put beliefs, ideas, and biases on the table for discussion professional writing experience—your work has been previously published at least three times in print or online an understanding of Area of Effect‘s writing style and content a commitment to a Christian faith (we do not require any specific denomination but look for an affirmation of the basics: a forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ, centrality of the word of God, and the Triune nature of God) a commitment to write at least one  700-1000 word article every other month (1001 words is too many and 1005 is RIGHT OUT) specialization in a geeky subjects we haven’t covered much is an asset (we’re especially looking for more video game writers!) creativity and sense of humour ability to write thoughtful, intelligent articles preference given to those who’ve beaten Undertale‘s pacifist run What contributing writers get: to become a part of a community of passionate, geeky folks who love writing...

7 Best Sibling Conversations from Geek Culture Jul13

7 Best Sibling Conversations from Geek Culture...

From Luke and Leia to Sansa and Arya, there are some truly captivating sibling relationships in geek culture. Since the family dynamics are different with each of them, I enjoy watching those contrasts play out in banter or discussion with each other. These are some of my favourite conversations between siblings from video games and TV. 1. Firefly Simon: Did you do anything today? River: Played with Kaylee. The sun came out, and I walked on my feet and heard with my ears. I hate the bits, the bits that stay down and I work, I f-function like I’m a girl. I hate it because I know it’ll go away! The sun grows dark and chaos has come again. It’s… fluids. What am I? Simon: You’re still my beautiful sister. River: I threw up in your bed. Simon: Yep, still my sister. 2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi Leia: I know what you’re gonna say… I changed my hair. Luke: It’s nice that way. 3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows [After drinking polyjuice potion to look like Harry] “Fred and George turned to each other and said together, ‘Wow, we’re identical!’ ‘I dunno though, I think I’m still better looking,’ said Fred, examining his reflection in the kettle.” 4. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Elysia Hughes: [Pointing at Alphonse] Big brother… [pointing at Edward] little brother. Edward: Nice to meet you… My name is Edward Elric… this is my younger brother Alphonse Elric… get that? Youn-ger brot-her…. Elysia: But younger means little. You’re little. Edward: WHERE DO YOU GET OFF CALLING ME LITTLE?! YOU LOOKED IN A MIRROR LATELY?! I’M TALLER THAN YOU ARE! Alphonse: Just let it go, Ed. These people are being nice to let us stay here. 5. Undertale Papyrus’ Note: SANS! PLEASE PICK UP YOUR SOCK! Sans’ Note:...

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture Jul06

Siblings We Love from Geek Culture...

We’re talking a lot about siblings this month in Area of Effect! Here are some of our readers’ and writers’ favourites from geek culture—and most of these relationships are defined by a willingness to support each other and grow, allowing the relationship to change and strengthen as the individuals change. Others, of course, end with one killing the other. 1. River and Simon Tam, Firefly Simon gives up everything for River because of his unconditional love for her. And River, in turn, trusts Simon completely even when nothing else makes sense to her. —Marilyn Rudge 2. The Weasleys, Harry Potter Especially Fred and George. You can just tell they’re a close family, even though Percy leaves for a while (they welcome him back). —Kyla Neufeld 3. Edward and Alphonse Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist Theirs is the kind of relationship I wish I had with my siblings. The age gap and distance between us has prevented the kind of closeness that Ed and Al enjoy. Though the presumptions that lead to conflict in the show are a little too familiar. —Naomi Strain 4. Rodney McKay and Jean Miller, Stargate Atlantis They are so different, but still connected. It’s nice to see someone living their own civilian life, plus the actors are brother and sister so their chemistry is really specific. —Hannah Foulger 5. T’Challa and Shuri, Black Panther They compliment each other so well and encourage each other’s strengths instead of being jealous of each other. Also you can just tell they’re close; they joke a lot, and they really love each other. Reminds me of me and my older brothers. —Caitlin Eha 6. Ruby and Yang, RWBY I love how much Ruby looks up to her sister at first, and how that dynamic shifts as Yang faces the loss...

10 Geeky Television Easter Eggs You May Have Missed Jun29

10 Geeky Television Easter Eggs You May Have Missed...

I love it when a show I enjoy references another show I love, or does something clever and self-aware. My favourite might be #3, because I was the most surprised and delighted by it (plus, I only watched Castle because Nathan Fillion). But here are some references you may have missed. 1. Firefly A figure of Han Solo in carbonite shows up in the background of various scenes on the Serenity. Just because. 2. Andromeda Kevin Sorbo pulls out a blonde wig and sword from his locker in Andromeda, looks at it for a second, then puts it back. 3. Castle Nathan Fillion’s character, Richard Castle, dresses us up as a “space cowboy” in Castle. 4. Doctor Who When the tenth Doctor has a gas mask on, he references the first season’s “Empty Child” episode by saying, “Are you my mummy?” As if we needed reminders of the horrors in that episode. 5. Community When “Beetlejuice” is said for the third time ever in Community, he shows up in the background. 6. Futurama Though he’s not introduced until much later, Nibbler’s shadow can be seen in “Space Pilot 3000,” and is later revealed to be responsible for Fry falling into the cryogenic chamber. 7. Chuck In “Chuck vs. The Third Dimension,” the letters “IG-88” is the name of a grenade, a reference to an bounty hunter droid in Star Wars. This is not the only Star Wars reference in Chuck, of course. 8. The Flash A character on The Flash who has ice powers is named Elsa. When people are already going to be making the connection, you might as well just roll with it. 9. Fringe Each episode included a subtle clue for the next episode, such as an the pilot, where an image of a pen and rose in a newspaper...

Infinity +1 Update!

Dear listeners, You may have noticed Infinity +1 episodes haven’t been posted lately, and I apologize that we haven’t communicated about it sooner. With our podcast producer retiring from his stellar work as our host several months ago, Kyle Rudge and I managed to keep up with posting episodes for a short time but began to get overwhelmed because of our other duties at Geekdom House. But fear not! Infinity +1 will return this fall with a new host and a new format. We’re excited to keep the segments that you love and add some new things too! We just need some time to train up a new host and put together the show you deserve. Thank you for your love and support of Infinity +1. We’ve received messages from several of you about how valuable you find it and how much you love listening to it, and I always looked forward to your responses to the Question of the Week because hearing your thoughts means a lot! In the interim, there are some things you can do to help Geekdom House grow and Infinity +1 come back at ONE MILLION PERCENT: 1. Post on our Facebook page! Let us know how you’re doing, what you’re watching/reading/playing, or continue interacting with our posts. We love hearing from you. 2. Read Area of Effect articles! Keep visiting geekdomhouse.com for our latest discussions on sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and video games. 3. Sign up for our newsletters! Kyle and I both send out email updates once a month about what we do at Geekdom House. Allison’s Updates: “From the Desk of the Art Director” includes news on the arts side of Geekdom House—Area of Effect, Incantatem, Infinity +1, visual arts, and personal updates from Allison. Kyle’s Updates:...

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture Jun15

10 Best-Kept Character Secrets in Geek Culture

I love the reveal of a good character secret—especially those that come out of the blue and involve something integral to that character’s identity. Whether a character was innocent when thought of as guilty, a woman when it was assumed a man, or has a backstory that no one knows about, here are my ten favourite reveals from geek culture. 1. Sirius Black — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban This is my favourite book from the Harry Potter series, and I remember being completely surprised by the twist ending when I read it for the first time. This murderer, Sirius Black, had been set up as Harry’s worst enemy and then turned out to be a loyal and loving character. Harry realizing he wouldn’t have to live at the Dursleys anymore, followed by Wormtail’s escape, is a heart-wrenching moment that I felt to my core. 2. Samus Aran — Metroid Many gamers were totally floored by the reveal that Samus Aran is female that the end of the original Metroid game (released in 1986). During a time where female characters were often the princesses waiting in castles for rescue, this was a stereotype-blowing move, one that wasn’t even planned at the beginning. Partway through development, one of the developers asked, “Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?” And the rest is gaming history. 3. Aragorn – The Lord of the Rings It might be common knowledge now, but Strider’s identity as the king of Gondor is a neat twist in Tolkien’s masterpiece. He may have paved the way for other fantasy characters struggling with their identity as royalty, and his struggle with following in his ancestor’s footsteps, afraid he’ll make the same mistakes, is a real issue many can relate to. 4. Luke & Leia – Star Wars Oh, that awkward kiss. George was certainly determined to keep this one a secret till the last possible moment. I always liked the fact that, though Leia discovers she’s a Skywalker and is Force-sensitive, she doesn’t drop everything to become a Jedi, but continues in her role as leader and diplomat—the things she’s actually passionate about. And thankfully her “romance” with Luke didn’t go past a kiss, which means we didn’t have an angsty “I love you, but you’re my sister” side plot to sit through. 5. Shou Tucker – Fullmetal Alchemist This one should be categorized as “worst-kept secret,” as in the most horrendous, I-want-to-puke-at-how-horrible-you-really-are-when-I-thought-you-were-nice kind of secret. Possibly the most hated person in anime history, the fact that Tucker doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong is what gets me—”I don’t see what you’re so upset about,” he says to Ed. “This is how we progress. Human experimentation is a necessary step.” 6. Merlin – Merlin This whole show revolves around Merlin’s secret identity as a magic user, which creates so many fun scenes and jokes. Merlin constantly has to humble himself and pretend to be stupid and powerless, even though he is always the hero who saves the day. His secret also adds a lot of heartache for Merlin, who believes Arthur will hate him if he discovers the truth. 7. Light – Death Note Another show that revolves around a secret identity, Death Note gives us the perspective of a villain who thinks he’s right. The cat-and-mouse game he plays with L is the reason I kept watching, not because I liked him as a character or thought his secret was worth keeping. 8. The War Doctor – Doctor Who This one came as a surprise to everyone, and I’m still confused about what it means or why they inserted an extra regeneration into the story—as if all the timey-wimey plots weren’t confusing enough! Does it mean THIS doctor is number 9, shifting all the other numbers after? Is he number 8.5? Whatever, John Hurt is cool. 9. Sheik – The Legend of Zelda:...

The Fear of Disappointing Others is Strong with This One May25

The Fear of Disappointing Others is Strong with This One...

The other day, a friend asked me which I hate more—disappointing myself or others. Assuming the “others” are important to me, I choose them every time as the worst scenario. Even the thought of disappointing those I care about makes my insides twist up and my eyes sting from future tears. In Spider-Gwen #2, Gwen loses her phone and gains a concussion after a devastating fight with the Vulture. But it seems the thing she’s worried about most is not the threat of death, but disappointing others—her dad, her band mates, even the illusion of Spider-Ham who shows up to offer counsel in her concussed state. Rather than stick around to face their disappointment, Gwen has disconnected herself from all the people who care about her. It’s a common super hero trope—leave the people closest to you so they don’t get hurt—but in Gwen’s case, she’s leaving them so she doesn’t get hurt. “Being a super hero is way more than facing bad guys, Gwensday… sometimes you gotta face real life,” Spider-Ham says to her. Walling myself off from others is always the easy answer—it protects me from so many vulnerabilities. Why not just live in solitary to avoid all the messy emotions—feelings that can leave me curled up in a distressed ball on my bed, that can cause so much stress I get physically sick. Except I’ve faced that loneliness before, and I’ve found that the messiness of relationships are worth it. I get tired of carrying my baggage around all by myself, and I’ve found the people who love me are often willing to help me with it. It seems Gwen comes to the same conclusion, because at the end of this comic, she finds her dad in an alleyway. Holding up Gwen’s cellphone that he...

Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture? May18

Where Are the Sick Characters in Pop Culture?...

As someone who struggles with a chronic illness, I can’t always relate to my fictional superheroes. Thor’s abs and Wonder Woman’s stamina never give up, after all. The heroes are almost always strong, beautiful, and not sick. If a character with an illness or chronic pain does show up, they’re often a weak link for the hero to save; their illness is mentioned once as the butt of a joke; they’re useless until they’re healed; or they’re only there to provide inspiration for the hero’s journey. These tropes are frustrating for those of us who face sickness every day in a society that doesn’t know what to do with us. But sometimes I come across characters who represent accurate struggles of being chronically ill. Here are some of my favourites: 1. Remus Lupin, Harry Potter Lupin doesn’t consider himself a worthwhile member of society because that’s what the world keeps telling him. For example, as soon as word gets out that he’s a werewolf, he has to vacate his position as a Hogwart’s professor in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because people don’t want him teaching their children, even though he is safe as long as he drinks his potions. J.K. Rowling has stated that Lupin’s condition is meant to mimic the stigma of blood-borne diseases. His fear of accepting love is a very real thing people with chronic conditions face daily. “‘I am not being ridiculous,’ said Lupin steadily. ‘Tonks deserves somebody young and whole.’ . . . ‘But she wants you,’ said Mr. Weasley, with a small smile. ‘And after all, Remus, young and whole men do not necessarily remain so.'” —Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince 2. Izumi Curtis, Fullmetal Alchemist Edward and Alphonse’s alchemy teacher, Izumi is a tough, stubborn, ...

Singers Wanted for a Harry Potter concert! May02

Singers Wanted for a Harry Potter concert!...

Do you have vocal experience? Do you want to be part of a community that sings and learns together? Do you say “Alohomora” when you unlock your car door from a distance? Then Incantatem might be the choir for you! Based in Winnipeg, Incantatem practices on Monday nights and will be preparing for a Harry Potter concert this fall, with practices starting at the end of May. Singers must be able to read music. There are no member fees involved. Incantatem is a project under Geekdom House, a charitable, faith-based organization. Our concerts are not religious in nature and you do not need to be a Christian to participate as long as you are not antagonistic towards other faiths and accept that the group prays before practices. Incantatem is especially looking for tenors. Message allison@geekdomhouse.com to set up an...

Fame Comes with a Price Apr06

Fame Comes with a Price...

Spider-Gwen’s on a mission to improve her damaged reputation in Spider-Gwen #1 because the media has branded her as a super-villain. It’s ironic, then, that she faces off against the Vulture, who accuses her of caring what people think when he wants so badly to feel special himself. “Hunted and hounded and you still seek their approval?” he taunts her, but she effectively turns his taunts against him and he becomes enraged. He’s “owed.” He’s “entitled.” His name “belongs” in lights, Gwen thinks as she fights him. Perhaps she recognizes his vanity so quickly because she’s been there herself, stuck in a world where people think the worst of her and she wants to prove them wrong. I’m not sure why Gwen wants the trust of people who have turned their back on her, but she knows that she has to put in the work to gain respect—chasing the Vulture down in the first place to “get trust, pride and life back,” while the Vulture just wants fame out of jealousy. Perhaps she just wants support in her life as Spider-Woman. Perhaps the Vulture’s taunts don’t affect her because she recognizes that feeling special due to strangers’ opinions of her is fleeting. I like the idea of being famous, but Gwen demonstrates it comes with a price. When your life—even your masked persona—is in the limelight, people judge you. You’re tempted to question your self-worth under such intense scrutiny. Gwen’s mental health is deteriorating from the pressure, which is made clearer in the next issue when she starts having visions of Spider-Ham swinging beside her. How long can she make it on her own when the world has determined she is against...

Episode 122 – If Peter Parker Was Allergic to Spider Bites...

The only podcast that exists in EVERY spider-verse, it’s Infinity +1! Join Allison, Kyle, and Justin as they decide what controversial TV show endings they loved. That led to a brief mention of one of the original Area of Effect articles that Allison wrote called “Finding Beauty in the End of Korra.” Then, in the second half, they discuss Spider-Woman and the Area of Effect article, “Reading Spider-Gwen: Sacrificing Your Dreams.” The music in the break is “It’s Not a Keygen” by Lazy Nerd 204 [used with permission] Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music now! RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/geekdomhouse/infinitypodcast Allison’s Twitter: @GeekWrites Kyle’s Twitter: @videogamefaith Justin’s Twitter: @TheKoop13 Geekdom House on Twitter: @GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on Twitch: GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on YouTube: Geekdom House Buy original Geekdom House merchandise from...

Should You Sacrifice Your Dreams? Mar30

Should You Sacrifice Your Dreams?...

In Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Peter Parker is dead. Gwen Stacy is Spider Woman, riddled with guilt over his demise, and she finds herself overwhelmed with the prospect of her double lives. In a culture that constantly tells me to chase my dreams no matter what, this comic sends a different message. As Gwen is swinging through the streets chatting with her dad on the phone (hands-off devices recommended when you’re Spider-Woman), he encourages her to leave her band and go to college. At this point, he’s unaware she’s Spider-Woman and is juggling her dreams with a host of other responsibilities. “I love music, Dad. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” she says. “I know, honey,” he replies, “and the things we love are always worth fighting for. But everyone has something they want. What is it the world around you needs? What is it that only you can give?” I instantly rebel at reading this line, because everyone knows you’re supposed to put individual dreams above everything else. It’s why university students jump between majors until they discover their passion. It’s why people switch jobs when they don’t love their work any more. It’s why advertisements tell me I’m worth it. It’s why Gwen plays in a band instead of attending university, and why she becomes Spider-Woman in the first place—to avoid responsibility and do what she wants. But maybe there’s something to Captain Stacy’s advice. Maybe I should consider what I can offer others instead of just what I want for myself. I want my innermost desires and the unique things I can offer to line up, but they don’t always. Sometimes these decisions come up in small ways, like running an errand for a friend when I’d rather be at home...

Call for Pitches: Disability and Illness Mar01

Call for Pitches: Disability and Illness

Area of Effect is currently looking for pitches on the theme of Disability and Illness. Pitches must have a strong connection to a sci-fi, fantasy, or comic-based TV show, movie, book, video game, or anime. Deadline Pitches are due March 12. Payment We pay 25 CAD for articles that are accepted and published. Guidelines Send a one-paragraph pitch, NOT the full article. Include links to three samples of your published writing. Keep in mind our audience is an eclectic bunch of geeks with differing perspectives on faith and life. Though our articles are written from a Christian perspective, they invite discussion between people of different beliefs. Read some of the current features on our home page to get a handle on our style. We do not want devotionals, Bible studies, or reviews, but rather articles that analyze, interpret, and discuss fandoms in relation to life, faith, and social justice. Include a two-three sentence bio that clarifies why you are qualified to write on this topic. If your pitch is selected, completed articles should be 700-1000 words. Send your pitch to allison@geekdomhouse.com with the subject line: “AoE Pitch: Disability and...

Reading Ready Player One: Trust Feb23

Reading Ready Player One: Trust...

Life is lonely when you trust no one. When Wade enters a chat room with Nolan Sorrento, the Head of Operations at IOI, I wasn’t surprised to learn that Sorrento is hungry for power and will stop at nothing to get the Egg. But I was surprised to see a similarity between him and Wade—neither of them trusts anybody, and nobody trusts them. Sorrento’s relationship with IOI is made clear when Wade “agrees” to work for the IOI as long as they fire Sorrento: “‘I don’t want to be second-in-command,’ I said. ‘I want your job, Sorrento. I want to be in charge of the whole shebang. Chief of operations. El numero Uno. Oh, and I want everyone to have to call me El Numero Uno, too. Is that possible?'” Although Wade is just asking to make a point, the IOI agrees with his demands. Surprisingly, Sorrento doesn’t sound that upset when he relays their agreement to Wade’s terms; I’m not sure if it’s because he knows Wade is playing with them, or if it’s because he knows his relationship with the company is about power and usefulness, not about trust. It’s later, when Wade meets with the High Five, that I notice Wade’s situation isn’t all that dissimilar to Sorrento’s; he has no one on his side. The Five aren’t willing to work together—even though a unified force stands a better chance against the IOI—because of distrust and greed. Wade isn’t even willing to share information with Aech, his best friend. As Daito says, “Only one person can be the first to find the egg and win the prize.” Discussion Questions Why do you think Sorrento isn’t upset when the IOI agrees to fire him? Would you propose an alliance if you were Wade? Are you afraid...

Reading Ready Player One: Hope Feb16

Reading Ready Player One: Hope...

The pessimism in me says solving world hunger is a fool’s dream. And yet that’s what Art3mis plans to do if she finds Halliday’s Easter egg. “Once we tackle world hunger, then we can figure out how to fix the environment and solve the energy crisis,” she says to Wade when they first meet. Wade’s plan makes more sense to me: “I’d have a nuclear-powered interstellar spacecraft constructed in Earth’s orbit . . . Then I’d invite a few of my closest friends to come aboard, along with a team of doctors and scientists, and we’d all get the hell out of Dodge. Leave the solar system and start looking for an extrasolar Earthlike planet.” There’s no hope for this planet or the people on it—especially in Ready Player One’s scenario where the Earth is basically dying—so we might as well give up and start over, right? Yet, I wonder if Art3mis’s plan is the wiser of the two. Wade’s idea is to give up, but Art3mis’s is to repair what is broken. If we translated this to a current-day issue—should we nuke the Middle East and build new cities without strife or should we work to make peace amidst people who may never agree? Or even something simpler—should we give up on a friendship or marriage because it gets difficult, or work through the strife to strengthen the relationship? Is Wade’s solution really a solution at all? Won’t starting over eventually bring the same problems he is facing now? Perhaps attempting to renew what is broken without tossing everything out really is the better course of action. I might want to start over, like resetting a video game where I’ve made too many mistakes, but if I work with what I’ve got maybe hope will...