Secret Avengers 2014 Review

photo credit: marvel.com

I know it’s a couple of months late, but I needed to get my feelings written down, so I’ve decided to do a review about the final instalment of the Secret Avengers series.

This 2014 series was written by Ales Kot, Michael Walsh on Art and Matthew Wilson on Colour, and is honestly one of my favourite comic series to date. There are so many reasons for this, it would honestly be difficult to list them all, but hey, I’ll give in a shot.

I started reading this series after I finished Faction’s Hawkeye, and most of the comics in Black Widow’s history, and the fact that they, along with Coulson (aka Cheese), Fury, Spider Woman and Maria Hill were all listed as regular members of the team bumped this series right up to the top of my to-read list. Not only does Kot perfectly write the relationship between the characters, but he also tackles individual story arcs in this series with the same importance. He expertly handles all of the characters, and gives the audience things to love about each of them.

Not only does Kot look at the arcs of individual characters, he also looks at the arcs of the relationships between characters. My favourite one has to be the relationship between Black Widow and Spider-Woman. At the beginning of the series Spider Woman is a ‘Secret Avenger in Training’ while Black Widow is a ‘Secret Avenger – Old School’, and because of this Black Widow treats Spider-Woman with almost kid-like-gloves. She doesn’t look at her like she is less, she is just worried about her, and feels a sense of responsibility towards her. In issue three however, she must let go of those feelings, and is shown to the readers in an unconventional, yet effective manner. Black Widow is able to “break through [her] fears and trust [her] colleague.” And because of this action we’re able to see not only the growth in the relationship between the two, but also their individual growth – which really is why I read comics, not solely for the plot, but for the characters and their development as well.

One of my favourite things about this series is the humour. Honestly, it is one of the funniest series I’ve read, not only did I find myself smiling at most of the jokes like I normally do while reading, I also found myself literally laughing out loud (and getting weird looks on the bus). I have to say, my favourite thing about each issue is getting to reach the narration boxes, both in general and when introducing the characters. Some notable introductions include:
Black Widow – Played by Scarlett Johansson, except when she’s not.
Hawkeye – not a secret avenger
! – Exclamation mark!
Maria Hill – Runs S.H.I.E.L.D. and Secret Avengers. Rarely sleeps. Please make sure you sleep enough. Sleep is important
To me personally, the thing that makes a comic book successful is if it is fun or not, and the humour presented here definitely makes it fun.

But not only does is this series full of humour, it also tackles the harder stuff. Coulson (understandably) gets PTSD after a close encounter with an alien-like creature. His arc follows his own personal recovery – from noticing that something is wrong, to accepting that he needs help, to what he goes through to help himself through it. There are questions raised about morality and belief systems. Not only does this series make you laugh, but it makes you think. This series also tugs on your heartstrings. Never before this would I have thought a bomb could make me tear up, but well, here we are #RIPVLAD.

I also need to point out how amazing the art and colouring of this series is. I started reading this series when I was new-ish to comics. I didn’t really know what to expect art-wise, and we all know how important art is when attracting the reader. This style that Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson used not only fits the humour of the story, but in essence brings the story alive. It would be one thing to read this series without the images, but the way that Walsh and Wilson work so effectively seamlessly links the words to the action, a task that is very hard to accomplish.

I know I’ve stated it before, but I’ll say it again, this series is one of my favourite comic series I have read to date. It hooked me from day one, and I am so glad that I kept up with it because it was an amazing ride. For me I would have to say the final issue was very bitter sweat. It was a great way to see how they managed to wrap up the series, tie off all the loose ends, and leave everyone happy (Including Vlad, don’t worry). But, I would be lying if I didn’t shed a tear or two, the end of this series meant I wouldn’t get to see what my favourite group was up to next. But at least I know they are happy.

Ales Kot: “This is good. This is really really good” (Final sentence of Secret Avengers 2014)

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There’s hope for my degree yet!

I have a fantastic subject coordinator. Like actually fantastic. My course is only a small one, about thirty people in each year group (with about three year groups). She is also the subject coordinator of another subject with about the same amount of people in each year group. So in total she has about 180 people to look after. But she manages to remember all of our names, remember how we are doing, and regularly checking up on us – how we are doing with the subject, our overall university degree, any internships that we are doing, where we see our careers going in the future. She in fact was the reason I got my first internship – she said I would be a great fit, and because of that I was able to get it.

It is this relationship with my subject coordinator, as well as the tutors for this specific subject that have keep me in university. In a time that I didn’t really care much about anything, I didn’t see my degree going anywhere, these people encouraged me to keep going, and just see the year through, and I’m so grateful for that.

What a lot of people seem to forget about their teachers, especially in university is that they are on your side. They want to see you do well, they want to see you succeed. It reflects well on them. The reason you have so many assignments and exams and homework is because they want you to be ready for the real world. Not only with the content that you learn, but with the stress load that comes along with real life (spoiler alert: Real life is worse that school).

The reason I’m talking so high about my subject coordinator today is because a couple of weeks ago, she was able to organise a ’round table’ for our subject. This roundtable included many people in different fields of communication that all did our subject (or the subject that was equliviant to ours when they were studying). This was really really fantastic. It enabled me to see that my career didn’t just  have to end up being a librarian – I could literally do what ever I wanted to do within the field of communication. I guess the fact that these people all went to my university probably helped with them getting jobs in the industry (It is known as Uni that is highly recognised for it’s industry connections, and has a strong basis in practial work-ready skills). But they told us some amazingly valuable life lessons.

During the round table, these people mostly gave us advice about how to sell our transferable skills that we gained from university, how to make industry connections (and how they are important/useful), marketing skills (which is useful in all aspects of communications) and coding, which while it isn’t necessary, is definitely useful in my line of work. 

Probably the most important thing that I gained from this was the fact that I need to learn how to not sell my self short – i already have so many skills, and as I continue through uni I will gain more and more. I need to learn to be less modest, and able to show off my skills to the best of my abilities. Through doing this I can make myself stand out as the best candidate for the position – definitely something that is needed when applying for jobs anywhere.

It was really fantastic to meet these wonderful people in the same field as me, that give me hope that I will be able to find something that I am really happy doing as a career, and get as far as they have in their lives! 
Mahatma Gandhi: The future depends on what you do today.

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On Representation in the Media

Yes, I know, Y’all may be thinking “oh, this is definitely turning into a social justice blog, I’m going to ignore it” but hear me out. This blog, first and foremost is written for myself, to practice my writing skills and get myself out there (read this), and also to talk about things that matter to me.

And one of those things  happen to be representation in the media.
Before getting involved with stereotypically ‘white male dominated’ communities (see this post here), representation didn’t really matter to me. I knew there was a problem with it, but it honestly didn’t affect me because, hey, what is one girl going to do about it? But now that I am a part of those groups I honestly see the importance of it.
Representation let’s people know they are not alone. It gives them a character they can root for and be like “hey, they’re like me, if they can do all that great stuff, so can I.” It involves them in the community and fosters an environment where people feel safe to be themselves.
But honestly, the reason I believe we need better representation in the media, particularly pop culture, is because of the children. Think of the children. When kids seem characters like themselves on TV or in movies, it gives them role models they can relate to. Having representation teaches them that they don’t have to conform to the stereotypes of their race/gender/religion etc, and that they can be whomever they want to be, because there are so many different examples of different people with the same qualities they have. And that lesson become more and more emphasised with more representation.
Just imagine in – a young child sees Falcon (Sam Wilson, played by the amazing Anthony Mackie) for the first time a superhero that has the same colour skin as he does, in a slew of white super heroes. And what does that little boy think? “A black man can be a superhero? That means I can be a superhero!” And who would want totaled that away from him? Imagine a little girl’s smile when she finds out that her favorite superhero, hawkeye also has hearing aids? Why would someone – particularly the people that are already over represented in the media (cough straight white males) feel so attacked when a character doesn’t turn out to be like them, when they have millions of others that are. And I mean, being a race other than white, or a different sexuality, or disabled shouldn’t stop you from liking them,  unless you’re a dick.
So, when you think about it this way, you honestly need to consider why people still have such a problem with representation, even though they have ample amounts of it. There are so many good arguments for better representation, but in the end it comes down to “there are more people in the world than straight white dudes, why don’t we show them?” And I honestly can’t think of a logical reasoning why not.
Paola Bacigalupi: I’m struck by how much kids long to see themselves in stories. To see their identities and perspectives—their avatars—on the page. Not as issues to be addressed or as icons for social commentary, but simply as people who get to do cool things in amazing worlds.
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Marvel and Me: How My Introduction to Comic Books Has Changed My Life

Honestly I can’t remember a time before I was absolutely Marvel trash. Which is really surprising because I only really got into it about a year ago. Sure, I had seen The Avengers, Iron Man and Thor, and they were all alright movies, they were fun, but I wasn’t really into the whole superhero thing. But then I saw Captain America 2: The Winter Solider, and I fell in love.
I don’t quite know what it was that I fell in love with. Maybe it was the storytelling aspects of the film, perhaps it was the (not so) subtle commentaries on our everyday lives, or maybe it was the strong, brilliant characterisation of the characters, but I knew that I couldn’t get enough. I watched all the films, I started watching Agents of SHIELD (which is still my favourite TV show), but that still wasn’t enough, so I picked up my first superhero comic.
While it should be noted that I had read a few comic books before – in 2010 I was very into Warehouse 13, so I read their comic series, and I enjoyed reading the Hack/Slash series, but I never got into superhero comics, and I only ever imagined them to be like the ones from the 90s, with the overly drawn muscle, little character development and way to much fighting. But I hadn’t picked up a comic book for about 4 years, until that fateful day.

  

Black Widow by Edmondson and Noto Issue #2
And honestly, comic books are daunting as hell. In marvel alone there are so many different characters, story arcs, writers, artists, where do I begin? It’s pretty obvious actually. I loved Natasha Romanoff in CA:TWS, so I’ll read some of my favourite character. She was so amazing in TWS, she’ll be amazing in everything right? I was very lucky actually, because at that time Edmondson and Noto’s Black Widow had only just started to be published. And well that confirmed my suspicions. Black Widow is a BAMF. I quickly googled something along the lines of “essential black widow story arcs”. I easily would have spent $50 on comic books within the first week. But it was well worth it. I’ve found a new form of media that is absolutely amazing. As I was reading Black Widow, I found a new character that I became interested in – Hawkeye. So I went and read one of the most critically aclaimed comic series in recent history – Faction’s Hawkeye, and it was set. I became marvel trash. I’ve now been reading marvel  for almost a year (maybe a little bit under it), but I definitely feel like a part of the community. The guys down in the comic book shop (shout out to kings comics) recognise my face every time I enter, and will happily strike up a conversation with me about the newest issue of whatever i’m holding, or the recent gossip in the mcu, or what series they are looking forward too. I’ve been starting to read some DC comics as well (particularly wonder woman because she’s amazing, and frankly I can’t get enough of women in comics), and I just feel really happy in this community of people with shared interests and investments in the characters we love.
  
Hawkeye by Faction, Aja and Pulido Issue
I’m lucky, I haven’t been exposed to the whole elitist attitude that the marvel, and comic community seems to have towards the people that have been introduced to the comics through pop culture and the films. With the recent releases of the MCU, it’s surprising that I haven’t encountered it, in real life or online. In fact, quite a lot of people are very welcoming to those who were introduced to comics through the MCU, because hey, at least they’ve been introduced. And really, it’s hard to keep up that elitist attitude nowadays, because honestly, only the people above the ago of 25 really remember what the community was like before the MCU, and it is only detrimental to exclude anyone below that age.
  
It’s funny though. Whenever I say that I like reading comic books, in public (i.e. not within these communities) I get the weirdest looks from people. Being a woman in a stereotypically male-dominanted community has only really affected me outside of the community, with people saying things like “Oh, but you’re too pretty to be one of those people”, or “But you’re a chick. Chicks don’t like comic books”, both of which are hilarious comments to me, solely because they are so wrong.
  
To me, comics are fun. They represent hopes and ideals, while simultaneously making commentaries on everyday society. They are so much better at representation than other forms of media, and they have given me a community that I can call my own. And that’s all a person wants isn’t it? A community.

  

Stan Lee: Another definition of a hero is someone who is concerned about other people’s well-being, and will go out of his or her way to help them — even if there is no chance of a reward. That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done, and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero

Why Miles Morales should be the newest addition to the MCU

If you have been paying attention to pop culture at all in the last week, you probably would have heard about the fact that Spider-man will now be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

This is huge news that has rocked not only the MCU, but the entire genre of Superhero Movies. Not only will he appear in Captain America 3: Civil War, but he will also get his own solo movie, slated for 2017. After the Andrew Garfield-led Sony reboot of the series was a flop in the theatres, Kevin Feige has reported that Marvel will be rebooting the series, without the previous star. But what does this actually mean?

Miles Morales as Spider-Man. Art by Sara Pichelli. / Via en.wikipedia.org

For one thing, it could mean an entirely new Spider-man! Well, he is not entirely new per-say; in fact he was established in 2011. But who is this character, you may be asking? None other than Miles Morales. 

Now, if you don’t know who Miles Morales is, that’s perfectly fine, not many people do. But they should as he is the first ever black (and Latino) Spider-man. (Minor spoiler alert). In the comic book series Ultimate Spider-Man (Which is in the Marvel Ultimate universe, not the 616 universe that most comics take place in), Miles was introduced in the final story arc “The Death of Spider-Man”. In this storyline, Peter Parker dies, and Miles Morales takes over the mantle of Spider-Man.

It’s undebateable that Spider-man and Peter Parker are linked to each other. In most people’s minds they will always be the same person, and it has been that way since 2002. But it is no longer 2002. It’s the decade of superhero movies, and if a talking raccoon and his tree-friend has taught us anything, it’s that Marvel can do no wrong.So if ever is a time to change people’s understanding of superheros, it’s now. 

Miles Morales is new, and refreshing. If Marvel decides to keep Peter Parker as their Spider-man, they risk everyone everywhere comparing him to all of the previous Spider-men. But with Miles Morales, they can start again. Do whatever they want with him. His backstory is linked to Peter Parker, so Marvel can do literally anything they want with him. The Marvel movie studio would have full creative control, and that’s every director’s dream.

Marvel, Art by Sara Pichelli / Via theverge.com

Miles Morales has the same narrative as Peter Parker. He is just a kid trying to fit in, while also doing what he can to make the world a better place. He has faced the same struggles, trials and tribulations that Peter Parker faced as Spider-man, yet he isn’t a carbon copy. He also has the humour of Spider-man that all of his fans know and love, so he really can’t do any wrong. 

This also allows for the suggestion to the audience that a superhero isn’t a person, but a name and a mask. It has been rumoured that there may be a death coming in the MCU, and it is believed that, much like in the comic books, when one superhero dies, looses their powers or ‘retires’, another one will take their place. It’s happened to Captain America (twice), HawkeyeThor, and Iron Man just to name a few. The suggestion to the audiences that a certain ‘human’ (i.e. Tony Stark) isn’t the superhero is an important one that Marvel will need to set up for the future.

All of these valid points above, and we still haven’t touched on perhaps one of the most important one, the issue of representation in Hollywood. Most people can agree that there is an abundance of white male superheroes on our screen right now (many of them coincidently named Chris) We are no longer in the 1960s, and there should honestly be more representation on our big screens. There are currently only three major black characters in the MCU movies, and they are more often than not thought to be ‘sidekicks’. Marvel only has only 1 planned person of colour lead, and that won’t happen until 2018 And Marvel can’t even us the excuse that it can’t be done, Fox Studios cast Johnny Storm in their upcoming Fantastic Four reboot with black actor Michael B. Jordan , just because they could. Marvel really has no excuse. 

Those are all just some of the reasons Miles Morales is the Spider-man we need. And really, if I have to see uncle ben die again, I might just kill him myself.

 Miles Morales: I’m telling you… you’re right. You were totally right. I am Spider-Man

And I’m Back.

It’s been over 3 years since I last looked at this blog, and quite a lot of things have happened. I’ve lost friends, I’ve made new ones. I’ve travelled, I’ve graduated. I have started university, and involved myself in more pop culture than I ever thought possible. This is probably the main reason I have started up this blog again.

My current degree is a Bachelor of Communication (Information and Media) Bachelor of International Studies (Latino USA), and that means that I must surround myself with media. I already do this, and I have been doing this for years, however I realised the importance of not just surrounding myself with media,but also being a part of this myself, I already use social media – probably too much, but I don’t use it on a massively public scale that could help my future. 

I have been listening to various podcasts recently, and one of them is the Women in Marvel podcast (the link to which can be found here). This podcast is run by the Head of Social Media at Marvel, and often interviews other women at marvel – not just artists and writers, but other members of the company that are women, such as producers, project managers and public relations. This podcast really honestly inspires me, as it is probably my dream job to work for a comic book company (especially marvel), and these women are all so successful in their fields. Not only are they successful, they have all made it there in different ways. A few of them have degrees in Communications, however there are some that have a degree in photography  or classical literature, and even some without a degree at all. And it gives me hope, that even if my degree doesn’t exactly affect my final outcome career wise, my experiences will. And that’s really what this blog is about, gaining new experiences, and making contacts, just as the women on the podcast have suggested.

So this is it, the first step towards my dream job. I hope you will take this journey with me.

Lenoard Nimoy (RIP): I think it’s my adventure, my trip, my journey, and I guess my attitude is, let the chips fall where they may.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog. This blog is mostly for me, to extend on my knowledge, but I can’t do that without your help. I have four things that I would like to get out of owning a blog, listed below.

1. Intellegent conversation. I started this blog, so that I could share my ideas, and hear what others have to say. I am interested in other peoples ideas, and I hope that people are interested in mine also. I am very politically, and world minded, so I may tread on some peoples toes, but that’s my opinion, and feel free to critize it as long as you have evidence.

2. Improving my skills in english. As a person who is still studying, I understand that it is a always changing language, however I do believe it can be mastered, and I hope to be able to do that one day.

3. Dispel the rumours and stereotypes of my generation. Yes, I am a part of the generation that spends way to much time on the computer. We watch to much tv, and, as most people would see it, we have a lot further to go than other generations did. I can see that, but I want to be able to prove to you, the reader, that not everyone, and in fact most of us aren’t like that. Revel in the selfies, over use the hash tags, it’s all just a way for our generation to express ourselves, just as other generations have had different forms of this.

4. I want to share my knowledge. Yes, I know that i’m very young, however I do believe that I have picked up something in the time I have been alive. I learn a different way to most older people did, I’m even learning a different way to how most people do now. And I have lots of questions, and possibly some answers for you all.

There’s also something you should know, I’m rather a TV buff, or I would like to think of myself as one anyway. So, you may see quite a lot of reviews here, but I will also have different things as well. This is also a blog for me to get myself out there. With my degree in Communications (Information and Media) at UTS,  will most likely end up working in the world of media, and so this is a great way to get myself out in that field and make wonderful contacts.

So that’s it. Welcome to my blog. Something I would like to do with each blog is end it with a quote. Whether it be from a famous person, someone I admire, or from a TV show, so I think my first one will be one of my favourite, and probably relevant to a first post:

 

Agatha Christie: “The secret to getting ahead is getting started”