Grief’s Paralyzing Effect on the Justice League Nov27

Grief’s Paralyzing Effect on the Justice League...

When a parental nightmare came true, I was frozen with fear. My son’s seizure medication had failed him catastrophically, and for a few days we weren’t sure what was going to happen. He was in the hospital for two weeks, and even since he’s been home, the dread of what could have been, and what someday might be, still clings to me. For the days he was in the hospital, I couldn’t move—family tried to get me to go for a walk, for coffee—for anything—but I couldn’t leave his side, not even for a moment. Grief can be paralyzing. It makes us stop, take notice of the pain, and sit with it. When dealt with healthily, it can move us into a new depth of human experience, making us stronger, more empathetic, and ready to reach out and help others. Or, it can hold us in place and prevent us from acting, stopping us from living fully. In the Justice League movie, each member experiences a form of grief that keeps them stuck in place until they find community, a common mission, and healing. Steppenwolf, an alien who has his sights set on conquering Earth after a failed attempt hundreds of years ago, is back. He plans to retrieve the three power cubes that are hidden from him by the Amazons, Atalantians, and humans who guard them. Apparently, humanity isn’t making Earth a hellscape fast enough for his taste, so he decides to put those cubes together and let them do their job, which is recreating the face of the Earth in a semi-molten state. Keeping busy isn’t the same thing as dealing with our feelings. Since Batman can barely fight a few of Steppenwolf’s minions on his own, he realizes it’s going to...

No Batman is an Island Feb27

No Batman is an Island...

Be ye warned: this article contains spoilers for The LEGO Batman Movie. Batman is a loner. He’s the Dark Knight, moving through the shadows and being a vigilante all over the place. Even when the Justice League was formed (partly by his design), he didn’t want to be tied down by the responsibility of belonging. The LEGO Batman Movie is a hilarious and exciting exploration of Batman’s desire for solitude and his need for companionship. In his famous poem, John Donne said, “No man is an island.” Batman, as Alfred points out, not only lives on an island, but has formed himself into an island by pushing everyone away. But, human beings need relationship, were even specifically created for it, and so in his attempt to be entirely self-sufficient, he makes his Siri-like supercomputer into somewhat of a friend. He chats with it as he’s fighting crime—mostly giving directions—and then it chats with him upon his return to the Bat Cave. The computer is sort of like his “Wilson” from the movie Castaway—Batman doesn’t realize it, of course, but he built himself a companion that cannot die and that he can control to suit his desired level of intimacy. Batman built himself a companion that cannot die and that he can control to suit his desired level of intimacy. Any Batman fan knows that the root of his desire to be alone is the tragic loss of his parents; they were murdered in front of him as he helplessly stood by. That’s the root of all that he does and all that he is. When he saves the city from pretty much every single member of the Rogues Gallery in an opening scene, he retreats to his island and ponders the last family photo...

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek Feb10

42 Ways to Say “I Love You” in Geek...

It’s the time of year for Love Potions, Heart Pieces, and those three magical words. (No, I’m not talking about “Use the Force” or “Beam me up.”) Whether you’re looking for a geeky way to ask your date out to a video game symphony, or planning to print your affections on a Luvdisc-shaped Valentine’s card, here are 42 ways to say “I love you” in Geek. (Why 42? Because it’s the answer to all mysteries in the universe, of course. And love may be the greatest mystery of them all.) 1. If you were a starter Pokémon, I’d choose you. 2. Are you a fairy? Because you fill all my heart containers. 3. All my base are belong to you. 4. I’d travel there and back again for you. 5. You’re my final fantasy. 6. I’d take an arrow to the knee for you. 7. I-it’s not like a l-like you or a-anything… b-baka—! 8. Be my Beka/Faye/Vincent Valentine. 9. Ruby is red, Neptune is blue, hope I get put on the same team as you. 10. You’re the hero Gotham deserves, and the one I need right now. 11. When I looked in the Mirror of Erised, I saw you. 12. You’re my precious. 13. SoH Dughajbe’bogh jaj rur Hov ghajbe’bogh ram. 14. Hello, Sweetie. 15. You are the center of my mind palace. 16. I know. 17. I’d volunteer as your tribute. 18. You were expecting Dio, but it was me—your Valentine! 19. Without you, who else will I have ice cream with? 20. With you, my life is 20% cooler. 21. *Wookie sounds* 22. You’re my player 2. 23. You fill me with determination. 24. Like a Headcrab, you’re always on my mind. 25. You’re the arc reactor to my heart....

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide Nov25

The FANtastic Geek Gift Guide...

Christmas is coming, folks. And we know gift shopping can be a hassle. What to get your geek buddies that they don’t already to have? What to ask for because no one knows what to get you? We did a Gift Guide to Geek Art already, but thought you might be on the lookout for other ideas too. We did the research for you and have compiled a guide to satisfy every fan’s dream. For the Anime Enthusiast We know RWBY‘s not technically an anime because it’s American; calm down, folks! Calm down. Also, our Small-size editor’s wanted that Attack on Titan hoodie for a long time. Just sayin’. Attack on Titan Hoodie – $34.99 RWBY Ruby Figure – $34.95 Works of H. Miyazaki – $188.99 Crunchyroll Subscription – $6.95/month Princess Mononoke Art Print – $28 Eevee Earrings – $13.16 For the Tabletop Titan No one can understand why the board game organizer is so awesome unless they are a board gamer. Escape: The Curse of the Temple – $70 Dice Bag – $9.95 RPG Dice Set – $9.98 Dungeon Master Screen – $15 Board Game Organizer – $15-$50 King of Tokyo – $39.99 For the Comic Cavalier Marvel’s taking the Star Wars universe to great places… need we say more? Plus some other cool stuff. Star Wars Comics – $4.99 Inky Superhero Art – $30-$75 Superhero Fingerless Gloves – $25 Nimona Graphic Novel – $15.99 Ms. Marvel Comics – $2.99 DC Comics: A Visual History – $35 For the Fantasy Fiend That handmade Falkor, though! Lindsey Stirling album – $9.99 Elf Ear Cuffs – $27.75 The Name of the Wind – $10.79 Handmade Falkor – $131.83 The Grisha Trilogy – $36.53 Game of Thrones Dog Tag – $14.99 For the Sci-Fi Supporter The closest you can get...

A Depraved Mind Dec11

A Depraved Mind

Foraging for food, seeking shelter, and facing hordes of undead is just another day in the life of the group of survivors from Atlanta, Georgia, in The Walking Dead. Something else that strikes me, though, is that there are several occurrences in The Walking Dead that are reminiscent of Christianity—from the group holing up in a church in episode 2.1, to Hershel’s daily Bible study, occasions of prayer and scripture quotation, mentions of Christ, and the character of Father Gabriel. Beyond these nods to the Christian milieu of the American South, the show’s portrayal of the human condition is of particular interest to me. Namely, The Walking Dead juxtaposes hope with the brutality of a savage, amoral world. The behaviour of the people in the world of The Walking Dead evidences the depraved disposition of humanity as described in the Bible. The Walking Dead, like other apocalyptic fiction, portrays humanity as self-serving. It is this selfishness that leads to the human-on-human thievery and violence that begins full-force in Season Three. As Rick and Shane’s factions threaten to split the group after they imprison a stranger who attempted to kill them, Dale’s plea for the group to remember its humanity by not executing the young man is a moral event horizon. When Dale dies and the walker herd descends on the farm, the characters lose their home as well as their hope that the world can ever go back to the way it was. Dale was a tangible symbol of that hope. Now, other survivors may be more of a threat than the walkers themselves. Without the promises hope provides, can altruism truly exist? Congruent to The Walking Dead, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight provides an apt ethical meditation on the implications of facing a merciless foe who...

Oh, the superhumanity Nov09

Oh, the superhumanity...

The second that we got to the train station—before we even parked—I spotted some co-attendees for my first-ever Comic Con. The red cloak and Thor’s hammer were the first things to clue me in. Costumed folk were everywhere on the way to the convention, and as I walked the streets of New York with my husband, we played many rounds of “Cosplay or Everyday?” Some I was able to figure out and some remain inconclusive for me. My husband and I met the first Godzilla suit actor, Haruo Nakajima, and got his autograph for my son, who has wanted to be a kaiju actor since he was four. Doing that for my son made my day, but seeing the cosplayers, the merchandise booths, the life-sized TARDIS, and the exhibits was amazing—I’d like to do that every year. But my favourite part was attending a presentation by Scott Snyder (Batman writer), called “DC Entertainment Spotlight on Scott Snyder.” Snyder shared the challenges of writing and all of the rejections he faced before he got anywhere (that was great for me to hear). However, his best insight was when he shared about his vision of Batman. Much of the discussion focused on the villains that plague Batman, because no hero can be discussed independently of his or her villain(s). While a true hero isn’t defined by his villains (try as the villains might to make it so), he is, in part, shaped by them. Snyder pointed out that the villains totally outweigh the heroes—the hero-to-villain ratio favours villains almost exponentially—making the defeat of evil an insurmountable task.Batman’s awareness of his weakness makes him stronger and a better hero. In the Batman universe, the most formidable villain is Gotham itself. The city is the embodiment of evil;...

A ballad for Batman Jun12

A ballad for Batman

It only takes one day that’s bad You’ll never be the same I’ve stolen what you’ll sorely miss Come join me in the game Do save him if you think you can I’ll even give a clue It’s not a clock, but goes “tick-tock” And ends with a “KABOOM” You think your brain’s so powerful But can you guess my plan? Imagine that clock counting down Come stop me if you can At first I blackmailed Toddy’s mom To set the bait and hook They’re reunited now, it seems Why don’t you take a look? I’m not afraid to tell you that I’m crazy as a coot I will admit it. Why can’t you? Your sanity is moot Why else would you dress up like that Just like a flying rat? You’re just as mad as me, you know Give up your tit for tat You’ll be too late to save them now The mother or your friend You’ll blame yourself for both their deaths You’re right, it is the end The hour has come for me to run Though fun I’ve had with rhyme For like they say, it’s “Bombs away” Try working on your...

Why the knight stays dark Jun11

Why the knight stays dark...

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? This question is the engine that drives the battle between Batman and his arch-est of arch nemeses, the Joker. Batman’s story is one of tragedy. Bruce Wayne was a boy when his parents were shot and killed in front of him. They were the victims of a desperate criminal in a desperate city. Wayne is an orphan left in the care of the family butler, and he is heir to Wayne Enterprises and its massive fortune. He decides that as long as he draws breath, he will do whatever he can to make sure no one else has to feel that pain and loss. He decides to become a symbol. He decides to become Batman. Wayne spends the rest of his life training every part of himself to fight against injustice and those who would prey on the vulnerable. He closes himself off to everyone but a handful of people whom he trusts with the hope that no one will ever get hurt because of his actions. The knight stays in the darkness so others don’t have to. Over a long period of time, Batman starts to make a positive change in Gotham City. Crime is lowered and the streets are safer. Batman even takes in a protégé to ensure that his legacy of protection will not end with him. Things are looking up until a criminal shows up on the Gotham scene with seemingly no regard for human life. The word on the street was this guy called himself the Joker. Batman had dealt with all sorts of dangerous criminals in the past, but this one is different. The Joker is the human embodiment of madness. He has no cause. He has no vendetta. He acts as an agent of pure chaos....

I don’t want to be upgraded Jun08

I don’t want to be upgraded

Humans are funny. On one hand, we want to avoid any kind of vulnerability at all costs.  We don’t like to fail, be judged, or show any imperfection. We guard our appearance because we don’t want to look old, or fat, or out of style.  Consider the amount of makeup ladies wear; consider Spanks or Just For Men hair coloring.  And that’s just physical vulnerability—when we mess up, we immediately look for excuses—someone or something else to blame. We will go through all kinds of elaborate schemes to avoid feeling uncomfortable, uncertain or hurt. On the other hand, we would fight to the death for our right to be imperfect, vulnerable and broken. We do it in personal relationships and as a species. And, as is reflected in our preference for stories that support and identify with our ways of thinking and feeling—we love stories where we are victorious over those who would take away our individuality, diversity, autonomy—our right to make our own mistakes and be vulnerable. I wonder, would I be willing to sacrifice myself for someone else? Most superhero stories have this element.  There’s often some alien race that wants to take over the world and make us conform to their ways—and it frequently means that they want to take away the things that make us weak—like feelings—so that we will be obedient.  Doctor Who has many examples of this: The Cybermen (who call it “upgrading”) and the Daleks to name a couple; Star Trek has the Borg who want to make everyone part of the Collective; Falling Skies has the Overlords who want to turn the kids into Skitters… We also have stories of humans trying to “improve” their own kind, like in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. There was talk a couple of years ago of scientists being able to remove bad memories from people’s brains—even my 12 year old thought that was a bad idea. And then, Gravity Falls had an episode all about it—and cartoon children came to the conclusion that there is value in vulnerability. A story that has stuck with me is about Batman’s Mr. Freeze, who tried so hard to avoid the vulnerability of grief that he went to extreme measures; he tried to save his wife through cryogenics and wound up turning himself into a villain. Avoiding emotion never ends well—you are always going to turn into a supervillain if you try not to feel. Whether we have superheroes come to the rescue or a rag-tag fugitive fleet saves the day; a remnant few will stand up for our right to be the small, broken, hot mess that humanity is. Someone will be there to resist—even when resistance seems futile. In fact, in most TV shows and movies, the little group of heroes will inevitably have a conversation like, “What are the chances of success?”  “Slim to none.”  “Let’s do this.” We would fight to the death for our right to be imperfect, vulnerable and broken. In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis illustrates the power of vulnerability as salvific. Aslan offers his own life to save the life of Edmund—a traitor. By sacrificing himself, not only does Aslan save Edmund, he brings out the “deeper magic” that saves everyone and takes down the evil Witch who was oppressing Narnia. Aslan’s vulnerability changed from apparent weakness to the ultimate strength—and that’s why we are so willing to fight for it—vulnerability embraced becomes unfathomable strength. Vulnerability is literally the banner of Christianity—the cross.  I’m challenged every day to step outside of my comfort zone to serve others, to see and acknowledge my failings and shortcomings. And, contrary to what many think about Christianity, valuing vulnerability doesn’t mean I’m an obedient drone. I wear my brokenness like a badge. I follow the example of a God who came to the world in the form of...