‘Peter Parker: The Chiptacular Zdarsky-Man’ more clown than hero

There was a time not too long ago when I was excited about Chip Zdarsky’s take on everyone’s favorite wall-crawler. Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man gave fans hope that Marvel would get back to basics and away from Peter Parker: The Not so Spectacular Tony Stark Clone.

Sadly, it appears as though Mr. Zdarsky’s take on Spider-Man continues Marvel’s obsession with turning the character into an immature man-boy. The superhero is most certainly a funny guy, but he isn’t a total goofball.

Readers should never wonder if Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive clown instead of a radioactive spider, but that is unfortunately the case with PPSSM #2.

Check out my latest YouTube video for a more extensive run-down, and be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

Editor’s Note: A YouTube subscriber asked me to share this image on the blog for future reference. Critics often say that guys like me are imagining things when we say Marvel writers and editors use the books to push an agenda. 

Spectacular SpiderMan 2

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Marvel’s ‘America’ tries to ‘slay the patriarchy,’ kills last bits of Axel Alonso’s credibility

The past couple of years have been rough for Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso. People got sick and tired of having partisan politics jammed down their throats, and as a result they withheld their cash. DC Rebirth showed the world that sound storytelling has the strange ability to win over people who like … sound storytelling, but that hasn’t changed Mr. Alonso’s mode of operation.

Exhibit: Z-971 is America #5, by Gabby Rivera. Instead of “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” covers, Marvel now has its characters talking about ways to “slay the patriarchy.” Each month this book brings forth new and unexpected ways to add to its badness. It seems as though this book inspires a never-ending string of creative missteps, and for that reason it will be chronicled.

Behold! One of the ill-conceived Marvel comics is before us, dear reader. Check out my new YouTube review of the title and then let me know what you think in the comments section below. And, as always, if you enjoy the format then make sure to subscribe for regular updates.

‘Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?’ Blogger learns his von Balthasar-esque ideas are quite controversial

Dare We Hope

Roughly four years ago I was in a late-night discussion with a Baptist friend when our attention turned to the subject of hell. I wondered aloud what would happen if a soul in hell legitimately turned to God with a contrite heart and pleaded for forgiveness. My assertion was that it is entirely possible that exceptions could be made by an infinitely merciful and loving God who dispenses perfect justice.

My friend (in a tactful way) said that I was being absurd and cited numerous biblical passages to buttress his point.

Enter stage right, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, author of 1988’s Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?

As Fr. Robert Barron says on the back cover of a 2014 reprinting:

“Critics contend that von Balthasar espouses universalism, the idea that all men will certainly be saved. Yet, as von Balthasar insists, damnation is a real possibility for anyone. Indeed, he explores the nature of damnation with sobering clarity. At the same time, he contends that a deep understanding of God’s merciful love and human freedom, and a careful reading of the Catholic tradition, point to the possibility — not the certainty — that, in the end, all men will accept salvation Christ won for all. For this all-embracing salvation, von Balthasar says, we may dare hope, we must pray and with God’s help we must work.”

Perhaps the impetus for my conclusions come from repeated dreams with a friend who died in an ATV accident. We were raised Catholic, but it was my understanding that he drifted away from the Church and somewhere along the line decided that he did not believe in God. In my dreams he comes to me, and when I tell him that he is dead he gets a frightened expression on his face and runs away — often exploding in a ghostly mist when he hits a nearby door or wall. (Note: I get chills when I think or write about these dreams.)

My reaction to these experiences has always been to pray for my friend’s soul because at the end of the day I have zero knowledge about his ultimate fate. If he is in hell, then do I have an obligation to pray for him? If he is consigned to eternal separation from God, then may I pray to ease his suffering?

I do not believe that God would send me on a fool’s errand; therefore, I have to believe that the urge to pray for my friend’s soul — whatever has become of him — has deep meaning.

Furthermore, it seems to me as though Søren Kierkegaard offers an incredibly wise blueprint for how a Christian man should think:

“Telling other people … ‘You are eternally lost’ is something I cannot do. As far as I am concerned, the situation is that all the others will, of course, go to heaven; the only doubt is whether I shall get there.'”

What he says is something that is perpetually at the forefront of my mind: No matter how hard we try, at the end of the day we are all unworthy to stand before God. Pure justice in the earthly sense of the word would require all of us to be banished to hell; it is only God’s infinite love and mercy that saves. Given that, why would I ever tell another man that he is destined for eternal damnation?

It seems to me that when a man constructs a moral pedestal high enough to proclaim that others are destined for hell that all he has really done is create a personal high-dive into “the lake of fire.”

Von Balthasar puts it far more eloquently than I could when he observes:

“It can be taken as a motif running through the history of theology that, whenever one fills hell with a massa damnata of sinners, one also, through some kind of conscious or unconscious trick (perhaps cautiously, and yet reassuredly), places oneself on the other side,” (152).

Additionally (and I believe this is of utmost importance):

“The strong Christian would have to endure the tension and ‘prepare himself seriously for the possibility of himself being among the rejected. Love of God first shows itself in its full purity only when one affirms God’s will even though it destroys one’s own happiness,” (155).

There is much more to say, but for brevity’s sake I will simply recommend reading Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? if this post has piqued your interest. It’s a fascinating book for all Christians — and those non-Christians who honestly want to better understand the faith.

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ saves Sony’s bacon (just don’t you dare mention the writer’s ‘slavery’ sucker punch)

There are times when I wish that I never made the leap to YouTube and instead stayed on my little old blog churning out content for people who understand things like nuance. My reaction to Spider-Man: Homecoming highlighted that fact quite nicely yesterday.

Your friendly neighborhood blogger said that he loves the movie and wants people to see it, but that a weird scene involving “MJ’s” comment on slavery was a social justice-y sucker punch out of nowhere. I then used that scene to discuss real-world “MJ’s” populating college campuses and influential circles of activists across the nation.

Translation:Doug is an SJW! Doug is triggered! Doug can’t enjoy anything that includes a whiff of SJW politics.”

Sigh.

Below are my videos on the old web-head’s return to the big screen. As always, if you enjoy the content then be sure to subscribe. And if you too think I’ve gone full “SJW” then go for it in the comments section. Let me know! I find this conclusion fascinating.

Here is the full review with one major spoiler for those who haven’t seen the film.

Marvel’s Secret Empire 4th of July: Celebrate Hydra-Cap, Post-Modernism or you’re a rube

It’s the 4th of July, which means Americans everywhere are celebrating independence and all things red, white and blue. Sadly, Captain America is not available this year because Marvel’s “Hydra-Cap” era is still going strong.

If you want to see what post-modernists have done to Marvel Comics, then check out my latest YouTube video. There are only so many times a company can blow up a hero’s integrity before it’s nearly impossible for a writer to put together what a long string of post-modernists have broken.

As always, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Sound off on Marvel’s Secret Empire, its post-modernist writers, and anything related to the subject in the comments section below.

Editor’s Note: There is a “roast” of Capn. Cummings after the main video. Do not watch if strong language offends you. 

Marvel Fall Previews 2017: Lies, like Venom symbiote, envelop company

Anyone who has a job knows that you do not want to make a habit of over-promising and under-delivering with you boss. A person who does that too many times will soon find themselves in the unemployment line.

Marvel Comics under Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, for some weird reason, does not seem to have learned that lesson. It’s almost like every person who was habitually fired for over-promising and under-delivering got together and managed to land top jobs at Marvel.

For example, take this week’s Marvel Previews 2017 issue. It was billed as evidence of an industry-changing event when, in reality, fans are getting more of the same. Cosmetic changes have been made that allow for a ‘Happy-Happy Joy-Joy press’ release, but everything that caused sales headaches for the company over the past year remains.

In short, Marvel is showing the world what happens when a company lives out so many lies that it no longer knows the value of telling the truth.

For more on the sad state of affairs that is Marvel Comics in 2017, check out my YouTube video below. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Amazing Spider-Man #29: Dan Slott’s infantile hero needs Mommy Marconi

Question: What happens when a comic book has strong art, strikes the right tone and nails the pacing, but the author’s fundamental understanding of the main character is flawed?

Answer: The world gets something along the lines of The Amazing Spider-Man #29, Marvel’s Secret Empire tie-in featuring the collapse of Parker Industries.

As this blog has demonstrated for years, writer Dan Slott often emasculates Peter Parker as a means of elevating female characters (some created by the author) in his sphere of influence. ASM #29 further solidifies that case, as the hero — an intelligent grown man — is treated like an irresponsible teenager by Anna Maria Marconi. She, another near-perfect woman in his life, scowls and wags her finger at him like an overbearing mother. She sparks epiphanies that he — an intelligent grown man — should have realized on his own months ago.

A Homer Simpson-ized version of Peter Parker also appears in scenes with the villain,  Doctor Octopus, but for more on that I will direct you to my latest YouTube video.

As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments section below.

‘Dark Days: The Forge’ proves why DC is a cut above Marvel

The Forge Dark Days

The past year or so has seen the classic “DC vs. Marvel” debate take on added significance due to the success of DC Rebirth and the faltering (to put it lightly) of Marvel under the tenure of Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso. There are many reasons for Marvel’s failures, but DC’s Dark Days: The Forge #1 shines a giant Bat-Signal spotlight on one of them.

The bottom line is that DC, whether it’s something like The Button or Dark Days: The Forge, is telling good old-fashioned “yarns” because it’s actually concentrating on big ideas — namely the issue of Good vs. Evil.

The Forge #1 is a tale that revolves around two beings — one of goodness and light, the other of darkness and evil — who are granted immortality via a mysterious metal and then tasked to fight each other in cycles of reincarnation. Batman’s discovery of the metal prompted a years-long investigation into its origin, which led him down a dangerous rabbit hole. It’s one that no man — even Bruce Wayne — should explore.

What separates modern DC from Marvel is that the former is willing to explore ideas of good and evil in serious ways. If you pick up most Marvel comics, then what you’ll find is moral relativist heroes fighting each other over a catty disagreements; and heroes fighting villains in a “going through the motions” manner because that’s what they’ve always done; political allegories that primarily use characters as vehicles to vent anger at [insert politician here].”

Out of all the comics I’ve read over the past two years, I think only Charles Soule’s Daredevil confronted a character described as truly “evil.” When most Marvel heroes talk about good and evil, they do so in ironic Deadpool-speak.

Paraphrase [insert hero here]: “Do you think we’ll come out of this one alive? Of course we will — we’re the good guys!”

People who believe good and evil are real — not just artificial constructs in a godless universe — typically do not become jaded. If you believe that your life has meaning and is intrinsically good, then you are not prone to hold life in contempt.

DC appears to have enough writers and editors on its staff who understand this, who are genuinely inquisitive about big issues, and then willing to appropriately use their iconic stable of characters to explore them.

Marvel, on the other hand, appears to be populated with a cloister of bitter moral relativists who write books for a small population of philosophical malcontents. Then, when their screeds don’t sell, they rhetorically lash out at fans for not being embracing Mighty Marvel Pessimism Pods.

I don’t know too much about Dan DiDio, but I do know quality work when I see it. I got into DC in a significant way for the first time in my life this year, and I don’t plan on leaving anytime soon as long as I keep getting books like The Button and Dark Days: The Forge.

Kudos to DC’s creative team for a job well done.

Editor’s Note: I’ll be reviewing Dark Days: The  Forge #1 on my YouTube channel soon. If you haven’t already subscribed, then please do. I don’t always have time to transfer the videos over to WordPress as quickly as I’d prefer.

Iron Man #8: Brian Michael Bendis gives Riri Williams the definitive SJW origin

For months I have purchased Brian Michael Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man, the book that replaced billionaire Tony Stark with superawesomegottaloveher genius Riri Williams. I have repeatedly asked what the heck her motivation is for becoming a superhero (besides being perfect), and this week an answer was provided.

In short, Mr. Bendis inadvertently gave the world the definitive social justice superhero origin.

There is so much I want to say, but in this case I will point you to my latest YouTube video. If you want to know why modern Marvel is struggling to keep readers engaged, then all you have to do is familiarize yourself with IIM #8. Put this one in your long-term memory, my friends, because it’s not every day that a comic book fan is handed a debate trump card of this magnitude.

Spectacular Spider-Man #1: Chip Zdarsky’s joke machine debuts with slew of extras

Peter Parker fans had high hopes for the past few months as Chip Zdarsky’s Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man neared its released date. Dan Slott’s The Amazing Spider-Man, even for those who enjoy his work, is like eating a ham sandwich every day for roughly 10 years. Therefore, you can’t blame a guy for grabbing peanut butter and jelly at the first opportunity.

But was it any good? The short answer: It’s complicated.

If you think Peter Parker should be a joke machine, then this book may be for you.

If you think Spider-Man must constantly have an ensemble cast around him in order to truly shine, then this book may be for you.

If you think Peter Parker would have a hard time trouble-shooting his own web-shooters, then this book may be for you.

There is more to say, but for that I invite you to check out my latest YouTube review. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. I’m interested in hearing your take.