A “Supernatural” Theory



I am obsessed with Supernatural.  I jumped on the ship about a decade late, but I think I am all the more thoroughly obsessed due to the month-or-so-long binge and I have a theory.  Well, it is more of a prediction or perhaps a wish.  For those of you unfamiliar with the show (if you are not up-to-date with this season and want to avoid spoilers, bail out now), one of the main characters, Dean, got the Mark of Cain last season, became a demon, became human again, and is now fighting unimaginable rage to avoid killing just everyone.  In an adjacent and slightly overlapping storyline, Crowley, the current king of Hell, has been reunited with his mother, Rowena, who is an ancient and powerful witch.

Rowena is slowly manipulating Crowley to take over Hell and seems to perhaps want the First Blade (the blade Cain used to kill Abel).  Now, before I go on, I should describe Rowena.  She is awesome.  She is a terrible person who threw everything, including her son, aside to pursue power.  She is insanely manipulative and not at all nice.  Just a really fun character to watch.  She is wildly independent and only seems to participate in organized groups, such as the Great Coven, when is benefits her.  She is also a crazily powerful witch.  She is the only known person to have a spell that kills demons and it is pretty gross when she does it.  She is clearly evil, or at least wildly amoralistic, and has her shit together.

Now, here is what I want to to happen.  Having the Mark of Cain seems to make a person a demon eventually without all the years and torture is Hell (maybe, Dean kind of did some of that early on in the show) and this could, presumably, give Rowena some power.  Perhaps she will need this to become Queen of Hell which, based on her enjoyment of Crowley’s throne, seems to be her current goal.  So, I want her to get the mark.  This would solve Dean’s problem (although I also like the storyline of him battling the murder urges and winning) and take the mark from him.  But, more importantly, I think the wielder of the Mark and the First Blade is less powerful than Rowena.  I want her to become a demon, her new demon powers to override her in-born witch powers, and for her, while still a very powerful demon, to be less powerful than she was before.

The First Blade

The First Blade

Why do I want this?  First, it is a pretty classic Faustian bargain situation and I always enjoy those stories.  People wanting something dangerous or stupid get it and hate it.  I think the writers of the show could tell this story really well.  Second, and most importantly, it would be an amazing feminist storyline.  This amazingly strong woman who has always gotten her power by defying convention, doing what she wants until she needs to run, buys into perhaps the second biggest patriarchy (perhaps first, it is contenting with Heaven) on the planet.  True, she is trying to take it over, but by their rules.  She literally becomes one of them in order to lead them and, while she may be able to succeed, becomes less powerful for it.

It is not a story about how a woman could not hack it in a male-dominant organization.  It is a story about how she can do quite well there, but loses just about everything else she works for to do it.  This could be seen as a  metaphor for women giving up x, y or z for corporate success, and that is certainly true. However, I would want to see it be more about perhaps having to work a little harder and littler longer, but still achieving something great, to maintain who you are while doing it. Rowena is proud to be a witch.  She clearly thinks it is the best thing to be ever.  But her son’s throne is such a shiny bauble for a power-mad individual, especially one that is still essentially a long-lived human, how can she resist?

Posted in Opinion, television | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paddington (2014): A Bear Humanizing Immigration and Dehumanizing Taxidermy

Baddington having some trouble.


I saw Paddington, and it was adorable.  All of the characters were a lot of fun and followed the classic characterization method of children’s books.  They each had their two or three major characteristics and follows through on them beautifully.  Everyone learned about family and friendship while going through some hilarious hijinks. For those of you who loved the books as children, I do not know how accurate this is to book, but, as with most things, I maintain that it does not really matter.  It is a cute movie and a lot of fun.

There are some bigger messages you can take from the movie, if you wish.  First, it is important to note that Paddington (his original bear name is, I believe, impossible to spell in English) is an illegal immigrant.  He literally arrives to England in a life boat that he stowed away in for however long it takes to get to England from Peru.  They make a pretty blatant reference to an “undesirable” community taking over when the villain/taxidermist is talking to Mr. Curry (played by the latest Doctor) about the bear threat.

Paddington’s story shows, in an easily lovable cuddly bear package, that each not-so-legal immigration likely comes with a sympathetic background.  Paddington is looking for a home where he can be safe and happy, and England had been held up as an example of that his whole life.  My specialty in research was never immigration or immigrant communities, but I know enough to know that this view of an immigrant’s new country is not uncommon.  It may be true or it may be a grass-is-always-greener situation, but it is still a present idea.  And, as I am sure happens with many immigrants, Paddington’s ideas of his new home are not matched by reality. And, much like any immigrant group, Paddington brings over one of his most important culture traditions –marmalade day!

While Paddington is humanizing immigration, his story is also making taxidermy seem absolutely monstrous.  Now, while I have suspicions about the immigration story being at least a tertiary goal, I do not think this taxidermy idea is anything but my own interpretation.  The taxidermist spends the moving trying to track down, capture, murder and put on display a talking bear, and, at one point, threatens to stuff his new, human family.  Her character does not paint taxidermy in a positive light.

Even her office, especially when combined with her unsavory character, sets up a negative idea of taxidermy.  It is overflowing with animals on display and there is clearly no purpose to it other than decor and/or vanity.  Perhaps they are the displays that do not have a place yet, but the fact that the office is designed so that the heads of the animals are in her main office while the rest of their bodies hang grotesquely in her secret, murder room implies that, even if they are for eventual education display, she views them as something else.

I will admit that my views on taxidermy are not shocking to anyone.  However, they are far more closely linked to my discomfort with mummies in museums than my desire not to eat a hamburger.  I have never been comfortable with the display of any corpse whose inhabitant had not signed off on prior to death.  It has always seemed grossly disrespectful (and, I will admit, just asking for ghosts).  So, my reaction to this display is likely biased.  However, I think it is likely that children with have a similar reaction and learn a similar distaste for taxidermy.  Children are already primed for seeing animals as more intelligent than they are (anthropomorphized animals is one of the most common tropes in children entertainment) and everyone has heard stories of children swearing off of meat for a time after learning where beef comes from.  With taxidermy, though, their distaste does not have to battle against delicious.

In the end, my concern is rarely with what the creators intend the viewer to take away from a story.  It is about, much  like we all learn to do in English class, examining what is presented.  What I see is that Paddington is a heartwarming immigration story for children that will terrify those same children away from taxidermy.  How about you?

Paddington being cute.


Posted in movie | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Agent Carter Review

**Spoiler Alert**

Marvel’s Agent Carter debuted last week and rocked it. I already loved this character from the first Captain America movie. She always had the potential to be a great character if allowed to stand on her own outside of the shadow of her romance with the dear Captain and I think that this episode is a great start. There is a huge amount of promise in this two hour premier to see that potential come to life.

Carter kicks ass. Literally, she beats the crap out of seemingly half of the characters in the show. And she has her own dramas and the stereotypical hero guilt of “I can’t be near anyone for they shall die!” And they nip that in the bud right away with Jarvis’ chiding. Carte seems to be being written solidly as a spy hero. I honestly do not have much to compare her to since I am not s big spy action fan, but it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch Carter.

There is also a lot of promise in Jarvis’ and Carter’s relationship, too. There was a brief moment of sexual tension that gave me the wiggins, but other than that I am really excited. Jarvis seems to really respect her and his insistence on helping her is not that he does not think she is capable. He is honestly concerned about her and thinks he can be of honest use. And he is! Nothing he does undermines Carter and he never sticks his nose where is not capable. He has to go behind her back a bit, but sidekicks always end up needing to do that.

That awkward scene isn’t the only potential for tension, either. Carter’s love prospects are a present topic which can be a positive or negative for some. I see it as a necessary part of the story after her role in Captain America. They deal with her part of the aftermath of Captain Rogers’ death/disappearance very well. She is clearly heartbroken about it (who wouldn’t be over that paragon of mental and emotional manhood?), but it never gets in her way. She gets caught gazing at his picture, sure, but not when she is supposed to be doing anything and it even works as cover for her pilfering. There is a possible love interest, of course, but we do not know too much about him other than he is a wounded veteran. And he seems like he could be great, but we will have to see if his greatness is just a neutral stance amongst a sea of sexist gibbons. He even has the potential for being a really great disabled/veteran character, both groups that could use some better and more thorough representation.

And then there is the bad guy organization – Leviathan. I had to look this one up when they mentioned it. It is not in the comics I read at the moment, though it will probably make a resurgence if Agent Carter takes off. Leviathan is basically the

communist Hydra since Agent Carter takes place after WWII at the start of the Cold War. This could work quite well with the current climate of tension with our historical Cold War rival in Russia and our concerns over countries like China and North Korea. We will have to wait and see how that drama plays out in both arenas before I can say too much about it.

Now, I have two main concerns about the shoe going forward (other than the Jarvis scene, yuck): 1) the relentless sexism from the other agents and 2) the whitest of white casts. In regards to concern #1, I think they did a great job with the sexism. They were rude and dismissive, but did not really go overboard and get rape-y. However, it was exhausting. As any feminist/womanist/decent human being can tell you, watching obvious bigotry is draining when you cannot do anything about it. Hopefully, though, they will start having her prove herself to them and, until that starts changing things, her badassery will make my impotent anger into righteous anger (much less draining).

As for #2, as far as I remember, and I haven’t done an in depth rewatch yet, there were only white characters. I can see people arguing that it is America after WWII and any non-white group is going to be extremely disenfranchised and there is still segregation, so this is historically accurate. My response to that is that it certainly is not! This is not historical fiction. This is a comic book show. They transformed a sickly man into a demi-God with “vita-Rays”. They can have a Black guy in the S.S.R. I am hoping that Carter will be teaming up/leading the Howling Commandos, like in the flashbacks we saw in S.H.I.E.L.D. That will get a more diverse cast and in a way that the historical peeps may not mind so much.

Overall, I cannot wait for the second episode. I can only hope that it keeps going this strong. Hopefully, like S.H.I.E.L.D., it will only get better.

Peggy Carter

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Comic Review: Axis (Marvel)

I just got finished reading the conclusion to the main story line for Axis in the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU).  I LOVED it.  A lot of you will probably think, “Well, of course she did.  Tori always loves Marvel.”  Well…that isn’t wrong, but universe events are hit or miss, really.  The two before Original Sin, Infinity and Age of Ultron, were misses for me. (Which is why I made the mistake of skipping Original Sin.)  After those two, I had kind of fallen off of the cross-over events since they are often a bit of a let down and have less effect on MCU than I think that they should.

Axis seems to be different, though.  The final fallout from the event is still to be seen, but it sounds really promising.   I will leave the spoilers until the end of the review, but know they are great.  As for non-spoiler details, the premise of the story is that Red Skull stole part of Charles Xavier’s brain to become a powerful psychic and sent out a psychic wave of hate over the planet.  To fight this, the heroes/villains combined chaos and order magics to invert the Red Skull and hopefully bring out the dormant/subverted kernel of Xavier.  It worked, but a bit too well and inverted everyone there.

Reading about the inverted heroes and villains was a lot of fun in all of the books.  I did not really branch out into other comics than the ones I normally get, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.  There were a couple of continuity errors between books that were just me having a blast being nit picky (Thor sometimes has a beard and sometimes does not).  The exploration of the characters as they are inverted and getting that look at who they are by their contrast was really interesting.  I kind of wished it had gone on longer to explore this more, though.  I feel like these stories have a lot of potential to be really interesting, but it would have been bad to drag out that storyline.

Axis: Revoltuions #2

Obviously, I needed the one with Nightcrawler.

The Axis: Revolutions books, telling in-continuity stories of the inverted heroes/villains, got to do a bit of this. Unfortunately, those appear to be finished after only four issues.  I am really hoping they decide to do some more, though, like they did with the run of A+X.  Both of those were some really fun short stories, even if A+X was not really in continuity.  I do not know how well either of these mini-series sold, but I know I would buy any more of either that they decide to publish.  The Axis ones are all the fun of What If stories with all the world changing consequences!

Before we get to the spoilers, I want to say that I definitely recommend this series with a strong caveat.  It is not something I would recommend for people not familiar with the characters, though.  A lot of the story is based heavily on this exploration of the identities and if you do not know who they are before the inversion, the inversion will not mean much to you. Once you get to know the characters a bit, though, swing back to this one (You could do Civil War and then Axis and probably have a great time). Those who were familiar with the characters in the past from comics or cartoons might be ok, though.  This probably is not a terrible jumping on point for that group.  Current fans, though, should definitely read it.  It is a lot of fun, action packed, good art (as far as I can tell) and a lot of good characters.

***Spoiler Potential**

Of course, the consequences from the inversion were not all they could be.  The swapped heroes caused massive havoc and destruction, but the villains made a video saying they tricked everyone and did not want the heroes getting the credit.   The X-Men will probably still get the shaft (they always do), but the Avengers should still be nice and shiny.  I don’t read a lot of Avengers comics, but, while I like the idea of these massive consequences, I do not know how appealing it would be to read.  I generally enjoy the internal struggle complications – the guilt, awkwardness, etc. – as opposed to needing to redeem themselves in the public eye.

Before you ask, I know this sounds like all the consequences and changes can be easily swept under the rug.  I doubt they will, since, especially the X-Men, love some interpersonal drama.  But a lot of stuff was revealed on top of this (such as Magneto may not actually be Wanda and Pietro’s father) and not everyone was switched back, most notably Tony Stark (Iron Man), Victor Creed (Sabretooth) and Alex Summers (Havok) and even a death (Carnage) before he was returned to his villainous ways.

Plus, there’s apparently going to be a rhinestone memorial statue of Carnage somewhere, so that’s pretty awesome?

Scarlet Witch and FamilyFullSizeRender-1

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Are People Monsters?

Monster Hug!

Monster Hug by Alberto Cerriteño

I had an interesting conversation at work yesterday.  On our twice-daily walks, my friend and I discussed whether or not most people are terrible people and how inherent that is. A bit of a deeper conversation than we normally have, but even more interesting for the novelty.  It all started with us noting all the gum stuck to the sidewalk and how ridiculous it is that people do things like that.  Trashcans are not hard to find and most people have receipts and the like after all.  We talked about how inconsiderate people can be and our different takes on why: that people are monsters or that people have too much stuff to worry about.

I am not going to try to lay out her argument.  It is not mine and I am not sure I can fully understand it, but I think I have a decent handle on mine.   I want to argue that people are all innately good, but I cannot bring myself to that.  I do no think people are inherently bad though.  People do bad or terrible things because they can be selfish and have trouble connecting to other people.

Combine this with the idea that people can only be passionate about so many causes.  A person can be all about eating organic vegan and minimizing their carbon foot print but be lax when it comes to the chemicals in their make-up.  There are just too many things for people to worry about and keep track of.  It does not even need to be the big things.  Somebody cuts you off or says something rude, they likely are not doing it to be mean.  They have their reason.  It is not fair, sure, but it does not make them evil.

Why does it matter though?  What does thinking about this change?  Well, a lot of stuff.  It can change how you view the world and how you react to it.  Take the all too frequent example of when someone cuts you off on the highway.  I know all too often I end up raging or angry, but when I pause and thing about it.  Did the person just make a mistake (a stupid and dangerous one, sure)?  Are they in a rush?  What made them act that way?  Asking myself these questions calms me down and lets me assume they had some reason beyond being a jerkwad.

The benefits go beyond being happy, though.  Although, who really needs a better reason for anything?  I just end up treating people better.  I know how people’s negative actions affect me and how their positive ones do.  This outlook makes it so that my first instinct is to be kind and helpful. And you know what I get back?  More of the same.

In the end, perhaps it is not that people are good or bad.  Perhaps it is just that we are mirrors.  Our attitudes reflect what is around us and it is important to remember that what you give out will be reflected.

Posted in Opinion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lost in Comics: Wolverine’s Healing Factor

Comics are confusing.  The big two (DC and Marvel) are probably the main two examples of this problem.  Although, Zenescope’s Grimm Universe is getting there, too.  Either way, it can get really easy to get lost in comic continuity.  There are so many things happening in so many books all at the same time.  Most people cannot (nor would they want to) read all of the books in any universe.  So, I figure, why not help each other out!  Whenever I come across something in what I read that is not covered in those same books, I am going to talk about it here!  Any feedback from any of you that read the books that cover these holes would be very welcome.  If any of you have questions about your own comic confusions, bring them here!  I am sure we can figure stuff out together.

For my first confusion, who better to turn to than Wolverine?  He is in SO many books.  Many people have even gone off Wolverine because of his over saturation in Marvel.  I love Wolverine, but I do not read all of his titles.  I do not read his solo titles and it is almost impossible for me to read everything he is in.  I am, therefore, bound to miss something.

Recently in the comics, Wolverine’s healing factor has stopped working, but clearly it is working at least a little since he is not getting adamantium poisoning.  I noticed this a couple of times, but only really questioned it when Cyclops brought it up in a recent issue of Wolverine and the X-Men.  So, where did it go?

A quick read of wikipedia says that Wolverine has contracted a nanite virus.  While his healing factor deals with this problem, he is susceptible to injuries.  Presumably he still would not die permanently, since his healing factor would still deal with the virus then fix his death.  From a few more searches (and my accidental perusing of these comics in the store since Kitty was on the cover), this seems to have happened in the “Killable” story arc.

I think I may pick up this storyline.  It could be an important plot point.  Assuming they decide to keep it, which is not a Marvel strong suite.  Seeing Wolverine need to deal with no longer being immortal could be interesting.  According to Cyclops, though, he is still fighting as if he is invulnerable.  Doesn’t sound like he is adjusting too well.

However, I will be furious if they kill of Wolverine just as I get back Nightcrawler.  I have not gotten to see them interact much, since Nightcrawler died just as I started reading comics.  Their relationship is really something I want to see!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Gotham Central, Book 1

Gotham Central, Book 1 is written by Ed Brubacker and Greg Rucka, and illustrated by Michel Lark, published in 2011 by DC Comics (I am making a concerted effort to become more familiar with creators’ names).

As you may have guessed from the title and cover, this is about the cops in Batman’s Gotham City.  It is specifically about the cops assigned to the super/powered cases.  How do they deal with being average (well, as average as a good cop can be) women and men in a city plagued by good and bad supers?

This comic starts out action packed.  It does not take long at all for the characters to come across their first super baddie.  They are ill-prepared to deal with these criminals, because how can a police department prepare for Mr. Freeze, the Joker, or Two-Face?  Especially since they are still recovering from or in the grips of the corruption for which Gotham City police are so well-known.

The best part, though?  They HATE Batman.  It is a combination of resenting the fact that they cannot deal with these issues on their own, embarrassment, and the classic hatred of a cop for a vigilante. The other cops make fun of their need for Batman.  Hell, they cannot even officially admit at this point that Batman exists, and certainly not that he helps them.  They resent his movements outside of the law, but their need to protect their city and its people over ride this distaste.

And it is certainly not all about Batman! Batman is very much a side character and minor presence in these stories.  He only shows up at the end or is mentioned briefly.  It is very similar to many of the cop dramas that are so common today.  It is about the investigation, more about the people than the CSI type aspects, and about the cops’ relationships.  For example, one of the stories in this book is about one of the cops being outed as a lesbian by one of the perps.

This book is so much fun.  As many of you know, I am a big Marvel fan, and do not have much time for DC.  However, I love stories about the normal people in these fantastic universes.  What are the reactions of people when Batman fights the Joker?  What happens to the average citizen when Spider-Man fight Doc Ock through New York?  Gotham Central is an excellent case of starting to fill in some of these holes. Admittedly, these are not 100% average citizens.  They are cops and trained to deal with at least some unusual circumstance.  But what other characters would work better?  If it was a soccer parent, I would totally not buy him/her running in to confront Mr. Freeze.  Cops, though?  They would kind of have to, wouldn’t they?

The best story is the second arc in the books (this is where spoilers are going to start a bit).  As I said above, one of the cops is outed as a lesbian by one of the perps, a rapist, that she arrested.  This character is not only a lesbian, but she is Latina.  The story goes not only into the criminal intricacies of her being framed for murder (of that perp), but into her relationship with her significant other and her parents (who do not know about her sexuality until the end of the story).  It is a bit of a bitter sweet ending, but it is a powerful one.  It definitely makes me want to pick up volume two to find out what happens to these cops!  And learn a bit about the DC Universe from this angle.


Posted in review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment