Community through Addiction: Angel, Spike, and the Desire for Blood Apr18

Community through Addiction: Angel, Spike, and the Desire for Blood...

When Joss Whedon took a break from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the show’s sixth season, the writers took Willow on a dark path where she became more and more reliant on the power of magic—an allegory for addiction and recovery. But if you were paying attention, the real addicts had been there all along, skulking in the shadows, always after another hit, hiding in the very title of the show. Vampires are addicted to blood. Their thirst for it is the reason they get up, get out, see anyone, or do anything. They spend most of their waking hours stalking prey. Vamps often corner their prey in dark alleyways, a stereotypical site of drug deals, which means they often find their deaths slumped over against a brick wall—an unfortunate trope of addicts in television and film. The vamps of Sunnydale know that the Slayer is out there, but their cravings send them out into the night despite the danger. There are no “casual” vampires. No one goes on a one-night blood bender. One hit and they are hooked for their immortal lives. Vampirism turns Angel from a fun-loving Lothario into Angelus, a demon transfixed by others’ pain. Similarly, Spike transforms from an unpopular man suffering unrequited love and a reputation for “bloody awful poetry” into a being willing to kill his own mother. Through drinking a vamp’s blood, Spike and Angel contract a vampirism “disorder,” with symptoms they will manage for the rest of their lives. Even after they regain their souls, they struggle with their addiction. Angel and Shame While on the surface Angel and Spike are glossy bad boys, underneath they are men looking for wholeness that blood can’t fulfill. By the time Buffy meets Angel, he’s isolated himself out of...

Experiencing Psychosis through the Eyes of Senua...

“But the darkness, it just builds onto itself, growing stronger, towering over her. You might try and ignore it, turn away, but it’s always there just out of sight, where you are most vulnerable. It’s like it knows that just enough light is all you need to see it’s suffocating power.” Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a video game about Senua, a Nordic warrior who lost her lover and journeys to the gates of Hel to retrieve his lost soul. Immediately the game makes it clear that all is not well with Senua. From the moment you hit play, there are voices in your head, and they haunt you throughout the game. They question your purpose and self-worth, fading in and out throughout your journey. Almost as soon as the voices appear, you try to tune them out. The voices’ consistent and persistent nagging form a backdrop of cacophony that saturates the very air you breathe. Throughout the game, enemies fade into reality or appear behind you. It’s unclear whether they are real or not. In fact, everything from the gods and spirits you fight to the feverish narratives explaining Senua’s story seem questionable. Yet, in the midst of this chaos, the game delivers heart-breaking moments of clarity, where the voices stop and Senua can remember clearly the beauty of her relationship, and the horror she went through watching her lover die. Senua set out on her quest after meeting Druth, a strange, shaman-like character who was a slave to the northmen; he told her the stories of the Nordic gods, the gates of Hel, and a chance to retrieve her lover’s soul. It’s unclear whether Druth’s narratives are actually helpful, or whether he is sending her on an impossible errand, giving false hope to...

Ready Player One and Forging Real Relationships Apr13

Ready Player One and Forging Real Relationships...

One of the first things you learn from the book-turned-movie Ready Player One is that once you log in to the OASIS, you can look, sound, and act however you want. The opening of the film pans around a number of different scenarios—an old woman wearing a VR visor boxing an invisible foe, a young girl playing piano through her haptic gloves, and a woman pole-dancing for an audience we can’t see—all of them doing something in the real world that looks very different in the OASIS. That’s the tantalizing point of a digital world; when you’re unhappy with how you look, just log in and change it. We even see our hero, Parzival (the OASIS avatar of the real-life Wade Watts), turn on the “wind effect” to his anime-styled hair because he thinks it will look cool. Parzival’s heroic journey requires sifting through a library’s worth of obscure pop culture knowledge to solve a set of complex riddles. Before long, an evil corporation takes notice of his success, and the hunt to save the (digital) world is on. Parvial’s closest in-game allies are Aech and Art3mis, his best friend and love interest respectively. Parzival treats these relationships very differently. Art3mis is the clumsily-written caricature of a “cool gamer chick” who earns Parzival’s naive trust and affection because she’s (almost) as good at clue hunting as he is. After a handful of interactions, Parzival decides he’s in love with her. She rightfully rejects the idea, telling him he doesn’t know anything about her other than what she wants him to know. Parzival has only ever known the extreme version of the “first date” self she’s chosen to show him and he can’t possibly know her well enough to truly love her. In the book,...

Episode 123 – Ready Player 10011101011...

The only podcast that’s better when it’s played at 88 mph, it’s Infinity +1! Join Kyle, Justin, and Emma as they consider what board game best describes their lives. Then they dig into discussion the recent movie, Ready Player One! The music in the break is “North Hill Transit Speedrun” 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 Kyle’s Twitter: @videogamefaith Justin’s Twitter: @TheKoop13 Emma’s Twitter: @emmaskrumeda Geekdom House on Twitter: @GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on Twitch: GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on YouTube: Geekdom House Buy original Geekdom House merchandise from...

Why We Shouldn’t “Hold On” to Loved Ones After They’re Gone Apr11

Why We Shouldn’t “Hold On” to Loved Ones After They’re Gone...

In the 2018 reboot of Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is still a long way from the agile, clever, gun-toting superwoman plumbing the depths of ancient ruins and uncovering supernatural mysteries. In this film, she’s more of an emotionally stunted adrenaline junkie who throws herself into danger with no care for her life or legacy. Lara’s father disappeared several years ago on “business” and she refuses to sign the papers declaring him legally dead. She cannot handle the idea that her dad, her hero, could be gone forever and so she pursues every lead, even spending thousands of dollars, to find out what happened and where he could have gone. Hanging on to hope seems like an endearing quality. Her resistance to giving up on someone is touted as a great asset to Lara, but it ends up costing her a lot. For seven years, she lives in near poverty and makes few contributions to society because her tremendous assets are frozen. She could help people out, create a foundation in memory of her family, or pursue almost anything to work through her grief, but instead, she lives in delusion. We’re afraid letting go means they are somehow less important in our lives. Lara’s refusal to let go of her father puts not only herself, but others in danger as well. People join her on her journey, facing a vicious storm, a murderous militia, and a deadly curse. Their sacrifices don’t return her father to her. I have been fortunate in my life that very few family members have passed away. I know the days are coming when it will happen. And I’ve spent a lot of recent time with those who have lost loved ones; I have seen the grief I will one day...

Making Assumptions: Violet Evergarden, Disability, and Imperfection Apr09

Making Assumptions: Violet Evergarden, Disability, and Imperfection...

Leon, a student at Shaher Observatory, is an absolute brat in the anime Violet Evergarden. Despite his good looks and high IQ, he’s disliked by most of his classmates, partly for reasons at first unknown, but his curt words and arrogant attitude contribute to his reputation. When learning that dozens of auto memory dolls, young women who act as ghostwriters, are descending upon the observatory to help make copies of their rare books, he is dismissive. And when he’s assigned to dictate research to Violet Evergarden, he demeans her. Leon is brought to a pause, though, when she removes her gloves to begin typing. Underneath aren’t the silky hands of a gold-digging maiden, but ones made of chrome-like metal that resemble the Terminator’s skeleton. And Leon soon finds that those hands are so effective at typing, the duo bests the 79 others in how quickly they decode and transcribe. Love is sometimes best expressed in relating to one another through our imperfections. Violet Evergarden is structured in such a way that most episodes are told through the eyes of a client, all of whom are suffering in some way: a young princess to be married off to a prince she barely knows; a playwright who is haunted by the death of his daughter; a young lady whose brother returned from war with injuries and has become an alcoholic. And in almost every case, though unintentionally, Violet’s disability opens the way for understanding and discussion. I’ve had a Leon moment before, when my initial assumptions fell flat. As a high school freshman, I remember laughing at a classmate who spoke in a thick accent and wore the same old clothes every day (did I mention I was a brat like Leon, too?). The next year,...

Reading Spider-Gwen: The Need to Feel Special Apr06

Reading Spider-Gwen: The Need to Feel Special...

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...

The Courage to Seek Counseling: Even Heroes Need a Hand Apr04

The Courage to Seek Counseling: Even Heroes Need a Hand...

In the first Avengers movie, Loki taunts Nick Fury by asking, “How desperate are you? You call on such lost creatures to defend you.” Although he’s trying to demean the fledgling Avengers team, Loki is also not entirely wrong: in some ways, the Avengers are “lost creatures.” Each of them is struggling with one or more major life issues. As the team grows during subsequent films, each new recruit brings their own set of baggage along with their superpowers. Every MCU Avenger faces a struggle worthy of professional help. Tony Stark exhibits signs of PTSD, the result of being held hostage in the desert and falling through a wormhole. Steve Rogers has his own version of PTSD as well as survivor’s guilt and culture shock. Bruce Banner lives in constant fear of becoming the Hulk, afraid his own mind and body will betray him. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. So why doesn’t a single member of the team ever use a counseling resource for help? The first reason, of course, is that the Avengers are characters whose “lives” must be compressed into two-hour films. But I believe it’s more than that. The Avengers’ reluctance to seek support for their struggles reflects the larger attitude of our culture. When life throws a curveball, the tendency is to take the hit and act like it didn’t cause any damage. Getting counseling help has become so stigmatized that people are afraid to do it, on-screen or off. When life throws a curveball, the tendency is to take the hit and act like it didn’t cause any damage. When I speak of “counseling,” I don’t necessarily mean a session with a professional counselor, although they are often best-qualified to provide reliable advice from an...

Sight without Vision: Ignis and the Impact of Integrity...

The glasses-wearing Ignis is a character who makes sharp-sighted observations, despite his “passable vision,” in Final Fantasy XV. His attention to detail certainly helps when Prince Noctis, the protagonist of the game, is vulnerable to unforeseen dangers—which in Ignis’s book is everything from a hidden assassin to an unraveling button. But Ignis’s perception reaches a crossroads in his DLC side-story, Episode Ignis, when he is shown a vision of Prince Noctis’ imminent death. His good judgement is thrust into my hands and I can choose to “save” Noctis from his canon fate and alter the end-game… if I’m willing to follow the villain for a time. But this choice comes at the cost of compromise. In “playing along” with the villain rather than fighting him outright, I feel I’ve put a hairline crack in Ignis’s uncompromising integrity—his oath to remain loyal to Noctis. Such a choice might be considered developmental for other characters, but Ignis is written to be a personification of medieval loyalty: the type of guy who could rub shoulders (and skillets) with Samwise Gamgee. Ironically, I feel like I am betraying Ignis by taking this path, even though the cooperation is a facade. Ignis teaches that focusing on what can’t immediately be seen with the physical eye gives context to every moment and the motivation to follow through. But I do it. Ignis declares (through unhinged rasps) that the world means nothing to him and that Noctis must be saved at the cost of all else. I’m more disquieted than moved. Gone is the Ignis who rebuked others for trying to force Noctis into becoming king and saviour. Though well-intentioned, Ignis fails to be true to himself and loses sight of his role as a result; instead of helping Noctis “share...

Reading Spider-Gwen: Sacrificing Your Dreams Mar30

Reading Spider-Gwen: Sacrificing 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...

MCU Watchlong – Captain America: The Winter Soldier...

Dig our your Thomas Paine literature, it’s another MCU Watchalong! Join Jason, Dustin Schellenberg and Kyle Rudge as they watch through one of the most critically acclaimed movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: The Winter Soldier! Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play Music now! RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/geekdomhouse/infinitypodcast Jason’s Twitter: @VorpalJason Kyle’s Twitter: @videogamefaith Allison’s Twitter: @GeekWrites Geekdom House on Twitter: @GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on Twitch: OKLetsPlay Buy original Geekdom House merchandise from...

Episode 121 – Krakens are the Best Support Class...

The only podcast that took a virtual Kraken as a pet, it’s Infinity +1! Join Kyle, Justin and Kyla wax on about the thing that means the most to them in this week’s Question of the Week before they talk about the game that has taken over the internet. Then in the second segment, they discuss Caitlin Eha’s article, Feeling Inadequate as a Support, and the value of supporting others. The music in the break is “It’s Not Old Skool It’s Classic” 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 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...

Let the Guy in the Chair Be Your Guide Mar26

Let the Guy in the Chair Be Your Guide...

“Can I be your guy in the chair?” When Ned finds out that his buddy Peter Parker is actually Spider-Man, he wants in on the action. He puts himself forward as Peter’s self-appointed “handler;” the guy who tracks Peter’s movements and provides information just in time. This proves both useful—and comic—at the climax of Spider-Man: Homecoming when Peter is battling the Vulture and Ned provides backup from the school library. Ned shuttles between computers using a rolling office chair, tracking Peter’s phone, calling Happy Hogan and telling Peter how to find the lights on the car he’s appropriated. Thrilled to be helping, Ned blissfully exclaims, “Guy in the chair!” Ned is just the latest in a long line of “guys in the chair” in pop culture. Where would Kim Possible have been without Wade? Neo, Trinity and Morpheus would have been lost without Tank manning the switchboard on the Nebuchadnezzar. Without Chloe O’Brien, Jack Bauer wouldn’t have made it through eight seasons and three movies. Tony Stark needed help so badly that he built Jarvis. The price of ignoring my conscience and other sources of wisdom can be high. And I’m a little jealous. What I wouldn’t give for my own personal “guy in the chair.” When I leave for work, my guy would tell me traffic conditions and the quickest route. When I need data in a meeting, he’d have it ready. At the grocery store, he could inform me if I’m getting the best deal and how to tell a ripe melon from a dud. Forget battling villains, having a “guy in the chair” available 24/7 would be a huge time saver. A “guy in the chair” is a lot more than just a source of information, though. He can also be...

Reading Ready Player One: Teamwork Mar23

Reading Ready Player One: Teamwork...

Ultimately, the last chapters of Ready Player One contain its strongest message: victory is not only for the strong; it goes to those who maintain hope, those who love, and those who remain faithful to one another, even to the bitter end. Without the hope and tenacity of Parzival/Wade, for example, who was willing to give up his life in the last section to save his friends, and who maintains that mindset until the end, our heroes would never have been able to overthrow their opposition. Without Og’s love for and faith in Halliday, the ephemeral creator of the OASIS, the spirit of the game would have been lost to the greed and divisiveness of the Sixers. And without the faithfulness and teamwork of Shoto, Artemis, and Aech, Wade never could have made it past the Third Gate. The Sixers, on the other hand, though they move as a massive, powerful corporation, make the fatal error of rejecting even the premise of teamwork. At the core of the IOI’s identity is domination, which cannot be present in the loving and unified. Unwilling to work together or sacrifice himself for his “team,” Sorrento views his cronies as expendable; this is clear when his avatar is killed, and Wade imagines him “kicking one of his underlings out of a haptic chair so he could take control of a new avatar.” Nothing is more important to the Sixers than winning the egg, because the egg and its subsequent wealth symbolizes domination for them. For Wade and company, the egg means something quite different. They are each fighting against the powers that be to preserve the value of the individual, the value of the overlooked. When small forces of good join together to fight against daunting forces of...

Feeling Inadequate as a Support Mar21

Feeling Inadequate as a Support...

Receiving the nickname “vomit boy” is not a promising beginning for a would-be hero. Neither is forging school transcripts or succumbing to the demands of a bully. In short, Jaune Arc’s early days at Beacon Academy are anything but an inspiring origin story. From its first episode, RWBY’s main character has always been Ruby Rose. In spite of the show’s large cast, Ruby stands apart from the rest and garners the most screen time. In some ways, Ruby and Jaune are not so different: they enter Beacon together, become team leaders, and go through most of the same adventures. But whereas Ruby was allowed into Beacon two years early because of her fighting prowess, Jaune can barely hold his own on the battlefield. Ruby is everything Jaune wishes he could be: an exceptional fighter with a state-of-the-art-weapon. In other words, hero material. In Volume One, Jaune wrestles with a lot of frustration. Although he knows he’s not a strong fighter, he feels embarrassed when his teammate, Pyrrha, offers to help him train. “I don’t want help!” he tells her. “I don’t want to be the damsel in distress; I want to be the hero!” Because of his pride, Jaune pushes away Pyrrha and his other teammates—just in time for Cardin, Beacon’s resident bully, to learn that Jaune lied his way into Beacon. Cardin blackmails Jaune into all kinds of dirty work, making him less of a hero than ever. Jaune’s always played a supporting role, not because he’s second-best, but because that’s where he belongs. Finally, Cardin threatens Jaune’s teammates. For the first time, we see Jaune’s heroism when he stands up to Cardin in defense of his friends. In the aftermath, Jaune becomes humble enough to ask for Pyrrha’s help. His friends’ need...

Episode 120 – Gratitude For The Abundance Of Fish...

Only half as lame as Speedy,  it’s Infinity +1! Join Jason, Allison and Kyle look past the top of the poster to the heroics of their favourite non-protagonists in the Question of the Week before a very special Conundrum to commemorate an important announcement in today’s episode. Then in the second segment, Matt Civico looks at how Dirk Gently approached the idea of hero and sidekick in Playing The Sidekick: Dirk Gently’s Holistic Humanity. What is the role of a truly great sidekick? How can we balance being the hero of our own lives and the sidekick in the lives of those we love? Why is Speedy the worst sidekick in DC history? Listen on and find out! The music in the break is “It’s Not Old Skool It’s Classic” 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 Jason’s Twitter: @VorpalJason Kyle’s Twitter: @videogamefaith Allison’s Twitter: @GeekWrites Geekdom House on Twitter: @GeekdomHouse Geekdom House on Twitch: OKLetsPlay Geekdom House on YouTube: Geekdom House Buy original Geekdom House merchandise from...

The Ancient Magus Bride demonstrates Happiness and Love are Not Equal Mar19

The Ancient Magus Bride demonstrates Happiness and Love are Not Equal...

The first two rights in the Declaration of Independence, life and liberty, have always been givens for me. But the last, the pursuit of happiness, is something that requires striving for. As a child, I did everything I could to attain it, playing video games, spending time with friends, and of course, always searching for sweets. As an adult, I haven’t changed much. I’m still pursuing happiness, even if candy isn’t what elicits that feeling (well, not always). But happiness isn’t the ultimate goal for everyone, and maybe I focus on it too much. In The Ancient Magus Bride, a moody but absorbing anime about a teenager thrust into the world of magic and fairies, none of the main characters are particularly happy, but neither are they actively reaching for that goal. For them, happiness is rather an occasional by-product of more foundational pursuits. And considering the fleeting nature of happiness, I think these characters have it right. In a world of pain and suffering, the ability to endure and even thrive is a strength I desire to have. As the series begins, an abandoned and defeated Chise, the eponymous bride, has given herself to slave traders who sell her at a magical auction. Elias, a refined but fearsome figure (he has what appears to be an animal skull for a head incised with glowing red eyes), purchases her and tells her that she will become his bride and pupil, learning how to become a magician like him. After he rescues Chise, she quickly grows to care for Elias, though outward expressions of delight are seldom seen between them. Other members of their household find similar contentment. Silky, a banshee who lost the loved ones she previously haunted to a house fire, finds quiet...

Reading Ready Player One: Courage Mar16

Reading Ready Player One: Courage...

Wade’s bravery in this section blows my mind; as someone who has historically taken the safe route instead of the sacrificial one, his courage is foreign to me. But Wade puts himself in unimaginable danger almost without a second thought. Though some might see his willing “surrender” to IOI and indentured servitude as reckless, one particular line from Wade makes me think otherwise: “I didn’t test the IOI passwords until the second night of my indenturement. I was understandably anxious, because if it turned out I’d been sold bogus data and none of the passwords worked, I would have sold myself into lifelong slavery.” Wade knows the stakes. At this point, he is no longer simply an avatar, someone who is brave in the OASIS and cowardly in the “real world.” What he has built up in the OASIS has now come to fruition in his being: Parzival’s bravery has become Wade’s. When I step back and consider how Wade is leaving the safety of his lifelong pacifier, the only place where he has ever felt ‘himself,’ I can see how monumental his act of courage is. And though it might seem like his courage initially falters when he is led outside into the pallid desolation of the real world, his fear is not an unexpected thing. And Wade’s fear can exist alongside his courage. His entire identity is in the OASIS, but he is willing to give all that up on the chance that he can infiltrate IOI and save his friends. Though he is tagged like livestock, confined to a jail cell, and forced to work a mind-numbing job, he still sticks to his plan, maintains his humour, and pulls off what can only be considered a great escape. Stepping outside the...

Three Super-Heroines Who Understand the Struggle Mar14

Three Super-Heroines Who Understand the Struggle...

Like most people, I have dozens of responsibilities weighing on me every day. It’s hard to juggle them all, but even harder to feel confident in the process. I wonder, did I do well enough? Did I devote my attention to the best places? When I read comics where superheroes struggle with the same ordinary issues that I do, I feel less alone, and three of these role models stick out to me as women who wrestle with finding balance in their lives. Spider-Gwen: Using Responsibility to Avoid Responsibility After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Gwen Stacy dons a mask and becomes the Spider-Woman of Earth-65 (an alternate reality Earth). When she looks back on this decision, she says, “All I wanted was to be happy. To have fun with my powers.” Gwen’s “fun” turns to tragedy when she fights the Lizard, only to discover the monster is actually her friend, Peter Parker. Peter dies after the fight, and a grief-stricken Gwen realizes that being Spider-Woman is more than just a game. Even after she takes her heroic duties seriously, Gwen struggles to manage responsibility in her regular life. She uses her secret identity to escape from life as Gwen Stacy, who is having issues with her father and her friends. Crime-fighting as Spider-Woman gives Gwen something to run toward, so she can lie to herself about the fact that she’s running at all. It’s Spider-Ham, of all characters, who eventually tells her, “being a super hero is way more than facing bad guys…sometimes you gotta face real life.” One day, to keep from being late for work, Gwen swings through the streets as Spider-Woman, only to encounter the police, who are trying to arrest her. As she flees, Gwen calls her dad,...