A ‘Thank You’ to Marian Rose World Mission

A global pandemic. Lockdowns. Looting. Riots. Presidential politics.

The U.S. faced numerous challenges in 2020, which seemed to bring out the worst in a lot of people. All of it was chronicled on social media (platforms that in many ways reward division and hate). Your friendly neighborhood blogger, however, was blessed to start off the year with a trip to the Philippines with Marion Word Mission.

The nonprofit organization spearheaded by Dr. Cristina Pamaar has worked to “relieve the suffering of women and children” in the Philippines — Iloilo, specifically — for years. Doctors from Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, along with various philanthropic allies, converge on the island each year to lend their time and talents to the cause.

Some of the services include:

  • Surgeries (e.g., gynecological, dental, breast and thyroid).
  • Cancer screenings.
  • A traveling medical clinic.
  • “Mary’s Camp” for children “afflicted with cancer or other chronic illnesses, orphaned, and/or troubled by difficult circumstances.”
  • Marian Rose World Mission’s Football Development Program, which is open to “orphan boys aged 6-16 years old from the Don Bosco Boys’ Home in Dumangas and SOS Orphan Village in Zarraga.”

This year’s efforts started January 10 and ran through January 18. It’s hard to describe the dizzying pace that all of the volunteers keep, and the conditions that many of the doctors work in (while dealing with stifling heat), but it was a sight to behold. Doctors were up before dawn each morning on their way to various assignments and often didn’t arrive back at the mission until late at night.

In short, imagine a community in which all the petty squabbling of everyday life is replaced with an ethos of selfless service. Imagine a gathering of individuals in which everything that drives intellectual and spiritual wedges between people is stripped away and all that is left is a cheery determination to do right by one’s fellow man. That was my experience with Marian World Mission.

It was refreshing. It was inspiring. It was exactly the kind of thing one doesn’t expect to see on the news or trending on social media because ratings and algorithms always seemed geared toward negativity.

What made the trip even more memorable was Dr. Pamaar’s decision to give me a bird’s eye view of the mission. I was shown every aspect of the organization’s work on the island — and then some. She made time in an already insane schedule to introduce me to the religious and cultural staples of the island.

Particularly humbling were the many cathedrals and their rich history, which Dr. Pamaar explained in detail. It becomes easier to understand the population’s perseverance and hopeful disposition when its faith in God is explored.

Similarly, understanding the success of Marian Rose World Mission becomes easier when it’s understood that the biblical quote on its website — “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me. ” — is taken very, very seriously.

I cannot thank Marian Rose World Mission enough for the opportunity to take part in its work. Spending time with the doctors, volunteers, and the kind people of Iloilo gave me a clearer perspective of the things in life that truly matters, and for that I am forever grateful.

While the global pandemic threw a wrench in plans to return to the island in early 2021, I very much look froward to returning sometime in the future.

Additional details on the organization can be found here.

Tom Brevoort mocks Marvel customers; evil worm casting backfires

Tom Brevoort mocks fans

Question: What happens when Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort sees the success of the Jawbreakers: Lost Souls INDIEGOGO campaign and then decides to take out his anger on customers?

Answer: Mr. Brevoort likens readers to an evil worm while he’s in a blind rage, but it only comes across as projection. People know that he is such an angry man that he even uses Twitter to call his son an “entitled white a**hole.”

Ak yourself, dear reader, who is more of a worm: Comic book readers who think it’s gross to call Peter Parker’s “devil deal” a form of medicine, or the guy who airs his own family’s dirty laundry on Twitter for cheap “likes” by total strangers.

Tom Brevoort Twitter son tweet

If you want to know what Jawbreakers: Lost Souls has readers energized while Tom Brevoort only has people shaking their head disgust, then look no further than his Twitter feed.

Check out my latest YouTube video for the full story regarding Marvel’s meltdown, along with the growth of the Comicsgate/Save Comics community that lives rent free inside Mr. Brevoort’s head.

Captain America 700: Mark Waid’s political wish upon a mushroom-cloud star comes true

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Here is a social experiment for you: Ask your average person on the street what they would expect from the 700th issue of Captain America. Ask them what the cover might look like. Ask them about the themes a writer would be expected to highlight by his editors. Ask them how they should feel after closing it.

More than likely the individual will telegraph that a 700th issue of Captain America should be a celebration of Steve Rogers.

What they won’t tell you  is that it should be a lament over the election of President Donald Trump.

What they won’t tell you is that Marvel Comics should design a cover that puts the hero into the background as a new character basks in the limelight.

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Sadly, writer Mark Waid has delivered a book for long-time Captain America fans that is little more than a Trump allegory for angry people who don’t buy comics. He wished upon a mushroom-cloud star for the ability to shoehorn his personal politics into an important issue and the wish came true — at the expense of loyal customers.

You can get the full rundown in my latest YouTube video. Be sure to subscribe for regular updates if the format is up your alley, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Captain America #699: Marvel writer Mark Waid is ‘King Baby,’ aka Trump

Mark Waid Captain America

Regular readers of Marvel Comics know all too well that its writers have been obsessed with Donald Trump since his primary campaign. Twitter rants coincided with weird editorial decisions (e.g., turning the man into an alternative-universe M.O.D.O.K.), and writer Nick Spencer used multiple books — including the Secret Empire event — to throw political tantrums.

Marvel scribe Mark Waid, however, has taken the industry’s Trump Derangement Syndrome to a whole new level for the company’s “Legacy” run. Captain America #699 is a fascinating read for all the wrong reasons.

Yes, it is boring. Yes, it is predictable. Yes, it comes across as if it were written by a freshman college student who just completed his first semester of political sciences classes.

What makes Captain America: Out of Time it interesting, however, is the psychology behind it all. Mr. Waid does not seem to even realize that all of his irrational fears regarding the president are rooted in his own ideological extremism. He fears Mr. Trump because he sees much of himself in the man.

Mr. Waid is, whether he wants to admit it or not, eerily similar to the villain referred to as “King Baby,” aka Donald Trump. Check out my latest YouTube video for the full rundown, and as always feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Dan Slott writing Iron Man: Will Tony Stark be wearing ‘Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda’ armor?

Tony Stark

The universe works in mysterious ways.

Those who have followed this blog for years know that two Marvel characters hold a special place in my heart: Peter Parker (The Amazing Spider-Man), and Tony Stark (The Invincible Iron Man).

Those who have followed this blog for years know also know that your friendly neighborhood blogger has a unique relationship with Marvel scribe Dan Slott — I was writing reviews that had him rage-reading and rage-tweeting years before making the leap to YouTube.

Given this history, I thought we would both go our separate ways with the announcement that he was exiting The Amazing Spider-Man. He may have put Peter Parker into an “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” t-shirt, but that was in no way going to prompt me to follow his work on some random character.

The universe, my friends, had other plans!

Watch my latest YouTube video for a preview for what is to come in the years ahead as Dan continues to write for Marvel and I continue to review his work (always, mind you, with the goal of making him a better writer).

Spider-Man #27: Ends justify the means in Dan Slott’s ‘Private War’

Question: What do you get when you take 3/4 of a cup of “ends justify the means” and 1/4 of a cup of “moral relativism” and mix it in a bowl with one serving of Peter Parker and a bag of goblins?

Answer: The Amazing Spider-Man #27.

My new YouTube review details how “A Private War” is a sterling example of what happens when every character in a comic adopts a “might makes right” mentality. It’s hard to root for any character — including the protagonist — when a properly functioning moral compass is nowhere to be found. The heroes in ASM are whomever Dan Slott says are heroes, even if their idea of justice is defined as, “Whatever I want to do at any given moment.”

Check out the video below and be sure to ask yourself the following question: Would Spider-Man really make a moral equivalency between his personal vendetta against Norman Osborn and  Captain America fighting with the Allied Powers during World War II?

I say “no.”

With apologies to Jeremiah Wright, Marvel’s ‘chickens come home to roost’

Fans have been scorned, taunted, and belittled by comicbook creators on social media for — politely now, mind you — daring to ask questions about altering long-time characters and stories all for “diversity’s” sake.

You know the routine by now. Doug, myself and many others have written about it ad nauseam.

Still, the creators have continued in their snobbish, egomaniacal ways.

However, now there is this from Newsarama (emphases mine):

According to David Gabriel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Sales, Print & Marketing, a sales downturn at the publisher that accompanied a “big shift in the entire industry” beginning in October 2016 came as a result of many factors, including, according to the executive, the market “turning up their noses” at any title not featuring a “core Marvel character.”

Suggesting the answer to the question of why people’s tastes suddenly changed was better answered by Direct Market retailers, Gabriel told ICv2 that “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not.  I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.”

“We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against,” he explained. “That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.”

Dan Slott Renew Your Vows

And Jon Del Arroz’s (love that name) article from a couple of weeks ago is spot-on:

Marvel has a diversity problem.

In that they have none in terms of diversity of thought. They are a pure social justice propaganda arm. This is dangerous when it comes to creating art, as if you have everyone thinking in lockstep, unable to get outside the box, you’ll have creative stagnation. More than that, when you turn children’s adventure fiction into adult message browbeating, you lose any semblance of fun that a product formerly had. It’s no wonder that sales have dropped by about half, when they have an entire writing core of every single one of their monthly writers hell-bent on a crusade of alienating half of the country in some social engineering through comics.  I don’t exaggerate my numbers either, and I did some leg work for you all so you might better make educated purchases, or lack thereof, of Marvel Comics. …

According to marvel.com, there are 18 writers on the current releases. I went through each and every one of their twitter accounts to give you a summary of where they spend their time on social media in terms of politics. I don’t mind people getting political occasionally, or even necessarily holding left wing views, but when it’s constant beating the drum of anger and hate, that’s what makes an SJW, and that’s where one needs to stay away (and is a primary reason for Marvel’s steep sales decline in recent years).  Here’s a brief summary of the writers’ twitter feeds, as I’ve gone through all of them for you:

Mike Costa – Constant Anti-Trump posts.

Jason Aaron – Anti-Trump, has #resist greenpeace retweet from inauguration. However, he doesn’t post politically very often, not pushing some anger crusade all the time.

Brian Michael Bendis – Anti-Trump posts, but posts so much it’s not a large percentage of his tweets.

Cullen Bunn – Rabid anti-Trump.

Becky Cloonan – a couple of snarky anti-Trump posts pre-election, but no political posts since. From the feeds, appears to be the sanest of the Marvel staff.

Gerry Duggan – Constant Anti-Trump posts, retweets Bernie (he can still win!).

Al Ewing – British, and doesn’t seem to post a lot of American politics, but very heavily steeped in globalism in immigration “rights” in his posts. Anti-Western civilization. 

Roxanne Gay –  Constant rants about feminism, anti-Trump posts. 

Zac Gorman – Complains about Republicans as “joke”, but only one recent post as such. Low percentage of political tweets.

Derek Landy – Anti-Trump, not overwhelming in political posts. Mostly sticks to posts about writing.

Kate Leth – Regular anti-Trump posts. Constant complaints about some boogeyman “privilege”, rambles at racist, sexist, etc., “white dudes”.  Rants about queer issues.

Stuart Moore – Regular posts anti-republican, anti-Trump.

Greg Pak – Complains about “representation” of different races. Lots of anti-Trump posts.

Dan Slott – Anti-trump rants all the time. 

Charles Soule – Constant anti-trump rants.

Nick Spencer – Rants about trump/republicans and calls anyone who disagrees with him flat out evil.

G.Willow Wilson – “Muslim” Ms. Marvel writer, rants anti-Trump posts all the time.

Chip Zdarksy – Constant anti-Trump posts.

That is  … “100% […] extreme left-wing ideologues who hate half of the country [and] have nothing nice to say about the USA or its president ever,” Del Arroz continues.

Comic fans of goodwill, those with nary a racist/sexist/homophobic etc. bone in their bodies, have been blasted as just that by creeps such as Dan Slott, et. al. all because they’ve asked simple questions regarding characterization and stories.

Many, like Doug and myself, have pointed out that Marvel’s permissive attitude towards horrendous creator behavior on social media is hardly an appropriate business model.

I feel like going on a Randy Quaid-in-Independence Day-style rant: “I’ve been sayin’ it. I’ve been sayin’ it for ten damn years. Ain’t I been sayin’ it? Yeah, I’ve been sayin’ it.”

I — we — knew all this nonsense was unsustainable. We knew the chickens would be seeking out that proverbial roost.

Iron Man #4: Bendis turns biohack ninjas into foot clan clowns for Riri

Invincible Iron Man #4 hit the shelves of your local comic shop this week, which means Brian Michael Bendis’ biohack ninjas have returned. There’s only one problem: The professional killers who gave Tony Stark and James Rhodes a run for their money now have turned into foot clan clowns from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This move allows teenager Riri Williams — who isn’t scared of deadly assassins while in her civilian clothes — to prove once again how superawesomefantasticbrilliant she is compared to Tony.

Question: Does anyone believe the reports that Marvel will quick injecting politics into its books in 2018? It’s hard to believe this will actually happen, given the way writers like Mr. Bendis will torture their creations with perfection if wins them plaudits from politically correct Tumblr kids who don’t even buy the books.

Check out my latest YouTube review for the full rundown and, as always, be sure to subscribe if you enjoy the video format.

Renew Your Vows #3: Annie May Parker shines in spotlight

Gerry Conway and Ryan Stegman continue to roll with Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #3. If you’re looking for a Spider-Man book worth picking up, then this is the one. It’s not perfect, but the energy and enthusiasm the creative team brings to the book more than makes up for any editorial hiccups.

Check out my latest YouTube video below and let me know what you think of the issue, particularly my one minor gripe on the company’s continued habit of inserting political correctness across the line.

‘Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging’: Junger’s must-read explains why America is tearing itself apart

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Roughly 17 years ago I exited the military after a stint as a mechanized infantryman in the U.S. Army. Even though the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and the nation’s “long war” had not yet begun, I found myself having a difficult time with the transition to civilian life. Understanding why I missed my old platoon — and why I felt a growing fear and sadness for the country I loved — took years (and a blog like this) to figure out, but author and former war reporter Sebastian Junger articulates it all in his must-read book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging.

Americans who have not lived under a rock for the past 20 years have witnessed the slow-motion implosion of our culture.

  • Cable news pundits obsessively talk of “red states” and “blue states.”
  • The politics of personal destruction reigns supreme.
  • Saying “all lives matter” is interpreted in a Twilight Zone-ish twist by millions of people as somehow racist.
  • Americans watch carefully constructed social-media feeds that tell them all Republicans are the equivalent of Darth Vader, or that all Democrats have shrines to Fidel Castro in their bedroom.

In short, the modern world is deficient in something that is causing tens-of-millions of people to feel isolated, alone, and empty. The void is filled with confusion, and that in turn fuels the kind of anger and hate that was the hallmark of the 2016 election cycle.

Why is it that many soldiers and civilians who have lived through war sometimes get nostalgic for it?

What are the consequences for society when a person “living in a modern city or suburb can, for the first time in history, go through an entire day — or an entire life — mostly encountering complete strangers”?

Why are we often surrounded by others, yet “feel deeply, dangerously alone”?

One of the answers can be found in tribal societies. And no, your friendly neighborhood blogger is not saying Native Americans should have won the clash of civilizations at our nation’s inception. I am merely saying, like Mr. Junger, that we can learn from their ability to provide “the three pillars of self-determination — autonomy, competence, and community.”

Mr. Junger writes:

“After World War II, many Londoners claimed to miss the exciting and perilous days of the Blitz. (“I wouldn’t mind having an evening like it, say, once a week — ordinarily there’s no excitement,” one man commented to Mass-Observation about the air raids), and the war that is missed doesn’t even have to be a shooting war: “I am a survivor of the AIDS epidemic,” an American man wrote in 2014 on the comment board of an online lecture about war. “Now that AIDS is no longer a death sentence, I must admit that I miss those days of extreme brotherhood…which led to deep emotions and understandings that are above anything I have felt since the plague years.”

What people miss presumably isn’t danger or loss but the unity that these things often engender. There are obvious stresses on a person in a group, but there may be even greater stresses on a person in isolation, so during disasters there is a net gain in well-being. Most primates, including humans, are intensely social, and there are very few instances of lone primates surviving in the wild. …

Whatever the technological advances of modern society — and they’re near miraculous — the individualized lifestyles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit.” — (Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (New York: Hachette Book Group, Inc., 2016), 92-93.

Tribe covers issues like PTSD, depression, and anxiety among combat veterans, but it would be a big mistake to solely think of it as a book for the military community. It is much more than that, because it is a blueprint for getting the nation on a path to cultural healing.

The author continues:

“The eternal argument over so-called entitlement programs — and, more broadly, over liberal and conservative thought — will never be resolved because each side represents an ancient and absolutely essential component of our evolutionary past.

So how do you unify a secure, wealthy country that has sunk into a zero-sum political game with itself? How do you make veterans feel that they are returning to a cohesive society that was worth fighting for in the first place? […] I put the question to Rachel Yehuda of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. …

“if you want to make a society work, then you don’t keep underscoring the places where you’re different — you underscore your shared humanity,” she told me. “I’m appalled by how much people focus on differences. Why are you focusing on how different you are from one another, and not on the things that unite us?” […]

Reviling people you share a combat outpost with is an incredibly stupid thing to do, and public figures who imagine their nation isn’t, potentially, one huge combat outpost are deluding themselves. (127-128).

Tribe is by no means “the” answer to the nation’s deep-seated cultural problems, but it is a significant piece of the puzzle. To get a good look at the big picture, I suggest pairing Mr. Junger’s quick-read with George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic. Each book provides a template for transcending dead-end partisan bickering, and in turn getting America efficiently focused on  becoming a more-perfect union.