Tag Archives: comic books

The Moment I Realized My Flirting Skills Sucked (A Personal Story From A Comic Book Store)

In my experience, those who say flirting is an art, not a science, either look like a celebrity, are insanely rich, or have giant dicks/tits. They think they understand flirting. They don’t realize that a lot of what they do is showing off and being inherently luckier than most.

I don’t claim to be an expert on flirting. In fact, for most of my adult life, I barely qualified as a novice. My idea of flirting involved a few compliments, lots of stammering, and the kind of goofy laughing that that even the Joker would find awkward. Eventually, I did learn to have meaningful conversations with the opposite sex. I kind of had to in order to write sexy novels. However, it was an arduous process, to say the least.

I had a lot of weird problems talking to people growing up, but not in the way you might think. Talk to any one of my family members, siblings, or relatives and they’ll tell you the same thing. As a kid, I could talk for hours with other adults, even if I wasn’t related to them. When it came to talking to people my own age, though, especially women, I might as well have been a brain damaged horse.

I don’t entirely understand the forces behind that awkwardness. Even some of my old teachers found it strange. All I know is that once puberty did its thing and I felt the urge to do more than just talk to women, things got even stranger. I’m pretty sure I came off as a socially inept alien from another planet. Maybe some girls thought that was cute, but not enough to respond to my pitiful attempts at flirting.

I know the art of flirting with women is a full-fledged industry these days, but I doubt it would’ve helped make my teenage years less awkward. I’ve shared some fairly dark moments in that life, most of them taking place in high school. I’ve also shared some fun, sexy moments, most of which took place in college.

Well, I’d like to share another personal story that perfectly depicts my complete inability to flirt in a way that doesn’t make someone uncomfortable/annoyed. It involves a comic book store so it’s a story that has some added weight too. Given my documented love of comics, I think it’s fitting that I realized how inept I am at flirting at one of my favorite places to be that doesn’t serve donuts and beer.

This particular incident took place early in my sophomore year of college. At the time, I’d adjusted fairly well to college life. I thought my social skills were also improving. I think I grossly overestimated some of my improvements, but in my defense, I was still healing from the scars left by high school.

It began like most Wednesdays do for me, restless and eager. For those of you who don’t know, new comic books are released on Wednesdays so that means this is basically every comic fan’s favorite day of the week. It’s like Christmas comes every week and you don’t have to put up any decorations.

The college I went to had a comic book store right in the downtown area and every Wednesday afternoon after my final class, I made it a point to run down there as fast as I could without looking like a dog was chasing me. It was often the highlight of my week, provided I didn’t have a mid-term.

Since I didn’t have a mid-term on this week, I made my way to the comic book store feeling as giddy as dog in a asshole factory. When I got there, the guy working there, with whom I was on a first-name basis, already had my comics pulled for me. I was ready to spend the rest of my Wednesday in a state of comic book bliss. That’s when I saw her.

Out of respect for her privacy, I won’t use her real name. For now, I’ll just call her Sandra. Picture Wonder Woman with shorter hair and more eye-liner. That’s how this woman looked. Naturally, my hormones nearly short-circuited my brain and butterflies were doing nude oil wrestling in my stomach. Yes, it was that intense a moment.

While I know it sounds like a bad stereotype that inspires bad milkshake-themed internet memes, there is some truth to it. A cute girl in a comic book store, even today, isn’t just a rarity. It’s a spectacle. This girl might as well have been a unicorn riding a white rhino. Her being in that store felt like a gift from the comic gods or whatever god just thought I finally deserved some luck in my love life.

I usually spend a few minutes browsing the comics anyways so I walked up to the girl, saw what she was reading, and started talking to her. Unlike my previous efforts to communicate with women, it wasn’t that awkward and for good reason. She was reading comics. That’s something I know. That’s something I can talk about for hours without stuttering.

I think I spent a good half-hour just talking to her about the comics she was reading. She actually talked back. She even smiled at me a few times. I’m not going to lie. My heart skipped several beats and my pants felt at least two sizes tighter. If ever there was a time when I was going to get a woman interested in me, this was it.

Then, I found a way to screw it up. I’m sorry, but this story doesn’t have a happy or sexy ending.

I knew from the get-go that I was going to try and ask this girl out. Talking about comics for hours on end is one thing, though. Actually taking that step towards asking her out is another. After I sense she’s ready to leave, I try to make my move. This is where the stuttering and awkwardness returns with a vengeance. Not even Batman could’ve helped me here.

I don’t remember exactly how I worded it. I might have started speaking Greek, for all I know. She looked like Wonder Woman so maybe that helped. I do remember, though, that she gave me her number so I must have said something right. It was actually a huge milestone because that was the first time a woman had ever given me her number.

Again, this story doesn’t have a happy or sexy ending. Getting that number was the high point of this story. It all went downhill after that because I basically handled this accomplishment in all the wrong ways.

It started with me trying to call her the next day and leaving her an awkward, stammering voicemail. I’m pretty sure that voicemail alone made her change the combination lock on her panties. I then tried to call her again that evening and left another horribly awkward voicemail.

I know they were horrible because as soon as I hung up my phone, I realized how pathetic they sounded. They were not the words of someone who had the confidence to be anyone’s lover. They sounded like someone who just didn’t know how to react to a situation where he had to be articulate and flirty with a woman.

I know women well enough to understand that they have a variety of tastes when it comes to prospective lovers, but few are attracted to anyone who sounds that inept. Needless to say, I never saw Sandra again. I tried calling her erratically over the next several weeks. I think she might have answered just once, if only because she felt sorry for me. That wasn’t enough for her to give me a chance, though.

Eventually, I stopped calling her and deleted her from my phone. When I noticed her not showing up at the comic book store anymore, I took that as a sign that I’d probably made a less-than-flattering impression. I can’t say I blamed her for avoiding me. I was needy, awkward, and inept in talking about anything that didn’t relate to comics. That just doesn’t check a lot of boxes for women looking for prospective lovers.

It counts as a low-light in my love life, but one that I learned from. It was that incident with Sandra that made me realize just how much I needed to improve my flirting skills and my communication skills, in general. It seemed so daunting at the time, but it was a catalyst, of sorts. It helped me realize that these skills with women aren’t just going to come to me. I have to actually work at it.

I’m still no expert. I barely qualify as an amateur when it comes to flirting. However, I am confident in saying that I’m much better than I was on that fateful day I encountered Sandra. If she were to show up again, even if it isn’t in a comic book store, I’m confident I could do more than just talk comics with her. I’m not saying I’d get her number again, but I sure as hell wouldn’t be that pathetic.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, Marriage and Relationships

Afterglow: The (Sexy AND Non-Sexy) Sights Of New York Comic Con 2017

I hope everyone forgives me for not having the energy to write about something elaborate, complicated, and insightful today. I’m still buzzing from all the fun I had at New York Comic Con the other day. That buzz is going to take a while to wear off and I’m totally okay with that.

If this were one of my sexy novels, I would be fully immersed in the afterglow phase. We all know that wonderful feeling, that sense you get when you’ve expended all your energy into something sexy, satisfying, and beautiful. You just want to bathe in that wonderful feeling it evokes. The fact that I’m writing this with a big goofy grin on my face should highlight the breadth of that feeling.

In the spirit of my New York Comic Con afterglow and the wonderful time I had, here are some of the pictures I collected of all the sexy sights and experiences I had. I hope to top them next year, but for now I’ll just let this fuel the afterglow.

Thanks again, New York Comic Con, for making my experience fun, satisfying, and so many other sexy things that I’d rather keep to myself. Coming from an aspiring erotica/romance writer, that’s saying something.

1 Comment

Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Uncategorized

On My Way To New York Comic Con 2017!

Some days are special, but only to a specific group of people. For some, it’s Elvis’ birthday. For others, it’s the birth of a child. There are even those who just get emotional on Taco Tuesdays.

For notes comic book fans, like myself, that day is today because as I write this, I’m preparing to make my way to the New York Comic Con. It is, quite possibly, the closest thing comic fans to a holy day. It involves parties, performances, and elaborate costumes. It’s basically like Mardi Gras, but with less nudity and public drunkenness.

It’s a wonderful time when comic fans gather over a shared passion. For someone like me, who writes a lot about passion in my novels, it’s a special feeling and one I intend to celebrate to the utmost. Expect me to enjoy this experience to the utmost and share the memories, sexy or otherwise, as I see fit.

So for all my fellow comic fans, or just those who share in this special passion, I thank you for helping to make the New York Comic Con awesome.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Big Superhero/Romance News: Batman And Catwoman Are Getting Married!

Batman1

I had a whole other topic I wanted to discuss today, but sometimes certain events occur that require you to throw out your plans, spit on your schedule, and love every second of it. Despite some of the tragic news to come about in the last few days, something big just happened in the world of comics, a world with which I’ve made my passions known.

It’s news that appeals to both the comic book fan in me and the erotica/romance fan in me. It’s rare that a combination that potent converges in my world. When it does, my heart and loins are sent into overdrive for all the right reasons. I don’t care if that sounds overly dramatic. I’m in good a mood right now to dampen my spirits.

This time, I’m not going to provide a larger context. I’m not going to give some elaborate backstory on the circumstances to explain an ongoing controversy. Whether you don’t know squat about superhero comics or haven’t felt a romantic sentiment since the series finale of “90210,” you can’t deny this is big.

You don’t need context. You don’t need much insight either. All you need to know is this.

Batman and Catwoman are getting MARRIED! 

Batman2

That’s right. USA Today broke the story. In Batman #24, Bruce proposed to Selena on a rooftop. Now, after months of agonizing build-up, Batman #32 gives the answer. The Dark Knight and the sexy jewel thief who dresses in a skin-tight costume are getting married.

In an era where 95 percent of all Batman stories involve him brooding all the time, including those involving Lego-themed characters, Batman is getting married. If you put your ear to a computer screen, you can hear thousands of comic fans squeeing and cheering uncontrollably.

In the context of superhero comics, this is big news and not just because it means seeing Catwoman in her underwear more often. As I write this, superhero comics are going through a rough patch in which iconic romances, especially those involving Marvel’s heroes, are being undone, undermined, or reserved for non-canon alternate universes. It’s a tough time to be a romance fan and a comic fan.

image

Lately, DC Comics has been trying to change that. They’ve been expanding the long-time marriage between Superman and Lois Lane in recent years, building on a family element and even giving them a son to raise. Someone actually had the audacity to think that a loving relationship can have appeal outside of a toxic love triangle. What a concept, right?

While they may not be as iconic as Superman and Lois Lane, Batman and Catwoman have had their share of romantic and sexy moments. Theirs is not the sweet, cuddly relationship that Superman has with Lois Lane. Theirs is more complicated, but many times hotter and not just because Catwoman looks sexy as hell in her underwear.

image

These are two people who don’t always find themselves on the same side of the law, but they both have lines they won’t cross. They both have principles they won’t compromise. They’re both tough, capable, and know how to handle themselves in overwhelming situations.

He’s the goddamn Batman. She’s the sexy-as-hell Catwoman. Superman and Lois may make sweet, passionate love. That’s fine for them. For Batman and Catwoman, they’ll settle for the hot, exciting, dangerous love that gets the heart and genitals going in all the right ways. It’s even sexier than it sounds.

image

For Batman, a character best known for brooding, growling, and making Christian Bale one of the biggest names in Hollywood, it’s a huge shift in his life. The past several years of Batman comics have expanded his mythos in many ways, even giving him a son, but he’s never really gone beyond brooding and beating up criminals. For a man defined by how tortured he is, this sort of thing adds some badly-needed balance.

Ever since the mid-80s when Frank Miller got his hands on Batman, he’s been such a dark character who is so overly serious in everything he does. At times, he seems to go out of his way to deny himself any measure of happiness. It makes Batman feel less like a hero and more like someone who’s just obsessive and/or mentally ill.

By having him find love with someone, that adds an important dynamic to his character. It means that he doesn’t just want to brood all the time over Gotham City’s crime problem. He wants to find some measure of happiness. Despite the loss his suffered as a kid, he still wants and feels love. Something about that shows just how resistant he is as Batman.

image

Granted, Batman has had his share of love interests over the years, as is the case with most heroes. He’s still nowhere near as bad as Wolverine. However, of all those love interests, Catwoman is probably the most iconic. They’ve been married in other realities with varying degrees of success, but this is the first time DC Comics is giving them the same shot they gave Superman and Lois Lane.

Not much has been revealed beyond Catwoman’s acceptance of Batman’s proposal. I doubt anyone has thought about wedding plans or honeymoons just yet, which for them probably involves beating the snot out of the Joker. There may or may not be a wedding special like there has been with other iconic romances.

All we know is that the desire and the will is there. For Batman and Catwoman, or passionate lovers of any kind in any reality, real or fictional, sometimes that’s all you need.

batman-has-sex-with-catwoman-rebirth-3

1 Comment

Filed under Celebrities and Celebrity Culture, Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Marriage and Relationships

What Jean Grey Of The X-men Can Teach Us About Life, Love, And Growing Up

These days, when most people read comics or watch movies, they do with an emphasis on escapism, spectacle, and an ability to talk/whine about it on message boards. Most people would rather not consume media with the idea that it has a bigger lesson to teach. We got plenty of those lessons in grade school and most of us got sick of that crap before we hit puberty.

However, there are occasions when a comic, movie, or TV show reveals something deeper about ourselves and our world that’s worth noting. I’m not talking about the kinds of crazy fan theories that claim Jack in “Titanic” never existed. It is possible for the media we consume to give us real, meaningful insights about ourselves.

That brings me back to comic books and X-men. Yes, this is going to be another one of those posts. After talking so much about the horrors of millennial life and the potential horrors of their children, I’m in need of a less serious topic. I think I’ve made clear that I love comics, I love X-men, and I’ll keep finding reasons to talk about them on this blog.

As it just so happens, a comic came out that conveys just such a lesson. It involves Jean Grey again. Other than Wonder Woman, she’s one of the most frequent topics of discussion on this blog. Considering she has a movie coming out next year, that’s likely to continue.

However, this comic has little to do with her movie and more to do with the themes of Jean Grey’s struggle. Some of them are relevant in the sense that they’re common to many major superheroes. Others are more subtle in that they have a bigger message to convey, one that applies to those who don’t have superpowers.

I doubt that the message that Marvel, a company owned by Disney, no less, intends to convey directly. Most of that message is indirect, but it can still function as a lesson, of sorts, that even aspiring erotica/romance writers like myself can appreciate.

The comic, in question, is Jean Grey #6. It’s the latest in a series that began earlier this year and focuses on the exploits of a teenage Jean Grey, who was plucked from the past several years ago in an event that has too many complications to go over without inducing migraines.

You don’t need to know too many of the particulars. You only need to know that she has a good reason for not liking her future. A lot of her adult life, as has played out in the X-men comics over the years, involves death, rebirth, and more dying at the hands of overwhelming power, often at the hands of the Phoenix Force.

Her teenage self is understandably frustrated with how that life played out. For the past several years, she’s gone to considerable lengths to change her fate, going so far as to ditch the X-men and try to be a normal teenage girl. As is often the case with superheroes, and teenagers in general, that doesn’t work. She still finds herself dragged back into the world of X-men and superheroes.

To her credit, she has handled herself fairly well. She’s managed to endure a space adventure with the Guardians of the Galaxy, go on trial for her future crimes that she’s yet to commit, and take part in a superhero civil war. It’s worth remembering, though, that she’s a teenager. She’s doing all this while also being one of the most powerful mutants in all of Marvel comics.

Her solo series, as written by a very talented writer named Dennis Hopeless, takes Jean Grey out of those roles with the X-men and sends her on a more personal journey. As I said before, her adult life is plagued by many complications that end up killing her. Chief among them, though, is the Phoenix Force. Pretty much all her frustrations begin and end with Phoenix Force.

She’s spent most of her time in the future just actively avoiding it or not thinking about it. In the very first issue of her solo series, though, she gets a message that makes clear she can’t ignore it anymore. Eventually, she has to prepare to confront the all-powerful Phoenix Force and all the problems/heartache it’ll cause her.

As part of that effort, she’s been seeking guidance from various sources throughout the Marvel universe. In a universe full of gods, aliens, and talking raccoons, there’s a lot to go around. Jean Grey #6 has her touch base with Dr. Strange. Those who saw Benedict Cumberbatch bring the charming sorcerer supreme to life last year shouldn’t be too surprised.

It actually starts off fairly similar to her previous efforts to seek guidance from more experienced Marvel heroes. Dr. Strange agrees to help her, which involves a little mystical mojo that should offend One Million Moms and amuse card-carrying Satanists. It’s here, though, where the journey and the lesson play out.

It’s a spirit quest, of sorts, one that takes the teenage Jean Grey through the life she seems doomed to live. It spans multiple eras of X-men comics, from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby days of Uncanny X-men to her latest death in the early 2000s. What makes this journey a bit rockier, though, is that she’s not just a spectator.

These visions of her future self aren’t just there to remind her why her future sucks. They’re basically drills sergeants trying to hammer some hard lessons into her head that Jean, and teenagers in general, refuse to learn.

Jean4

It’s here where Jean starts to get a harsh lecture on having one persona that you have for all those around you while also having a very different, much less pleasant persona just under the surface. Like celebrities that are assholes when the camera isn’t rolling, some people have to pretend to be something they’re not.

With Jean Grey, one of the most powerful mutants on the planet, it’s even more difficult. Jean’s vision basically tells her what she refuses to admit. She makes herself out to be this quiet, upstanding young woman on a team of teenage boys. However, under the surface, she knows she’s more powerful than everyone else on her team and most other teams.

Her maintaining that facade is like trying to play chess with a brain-damaged monkey and trying to give the monkey a fair chance. As is the nature with mutant powers, she can’t turn them off. She can’t ever not be so powerful and frustrated. It’s a lesson that is hard for a teenage girl to wrap her head around, but easy for most adults who can’t stop being adults.

By now, it should be somewhat easier to see the real-life parallels here. We’re talking about overwhelming feelings that we can’t turn off, which tend to affect us greatly later in life. As teenagers, we don’t know how to deal with them or even how to make sense of them. They still affect us, though. We can try to ignore them all we want, but that doesn’t make them go away.

I’ll give the less kinky readers a moment to fill in the blanks. In the meantime, the life lessons in Jean Grey #6 get a lot harsher. As Dr. Strange guides her towards other moments in her life, she encounters a later version of herself that fans of the 90s X-men cartoon should recognize.

This is a version of Jean Grey who has put in the time, effort, and passion to endear herself to a lot of people. This is the woman that many of the other X-men see, or want to see, when they look at teenage Jean Grey. There’s a reason why Jean ranks among the most popular X-men characters of all time. The woman she becomes, which also happens to be a woman teen Jean resents, is just that endearing.

It’s a lot for anyone to live up to. Being a teenage girl, though, Jean isn’t going to just accept that this is the person she becomes. She knows that person still ends up dying. She knows that person still succumbs to the demons she can’t control, namely the Phoenix Force.

Jean3

It gets even harsher, though. As with every teenager, Jean Grey’s perspective is very limited. She hasn’t experienced enough of the world to understand what actually shapes someone into a functioning adult.

She, like many other teen heroes, have this idealized version of who they want to be and what life is like. It’s tragic, but inevitable that such idealism will eventually be shattered. That’s just the nature of life, in general. Ideals are for a perfect world and nobody, not even superheroes, live in a perfect world.

This is where the message becomes bigger than Jean Grey. It’s a message that can resonate with all teenagers. Her older self basically lays it out for her in a way so simple that even a teenage mind can process it. The life she thinks is doomed to tragedy and pain isn’t just a matter of rotten luck and crushing disappointment. It’s just life.

Jean5

It’s one of those messages that can apply to much more than superheroes and mutant powers. It can apply almost every teenager to some extent at some point in their lives. They’re just starting to learn what the world is like without the rose-colored glasses of childhood. They’re just starting to feel things that are strange, powerful, and make their pants feel tighter than they want. It’s not a tragedy. It’s just life.

It’s a lesson almost every teenager learns the hard way, regardless of whether or not they have mutant powers. I certainly did. I challenge anyone reading this comic, my novels, or this blog to say otherwise. The transition between childhood and adulthood is hard and it has to be hard because it’s such a harsh world.

On top of that, we have to enter that world with all these powerful feelings and emotions that kids just can’t process. This is where the Phoenix Force, the utter bane of Jean Grey’s life and many deaths, enters the picture.

In a sense, this cosmic space bird is a manifestation of the greatest extremes that we experience. In the comics, it’s a force that pushes Jean Grey’s powers over the edge and beyond. In life, it’s basically every overwhelming experience we’ve ever had, amplified to infinity.

When you’re a teenager, you’re full of all sorts of overwhelming feelings. As an adult, they’re still overwhelming, but you gain a sense of perspective. From our ability to love to our desire to make love, it’s a powerful force that shapes how we live and how we die. Being immature teenagers, and even immature adults, we often try to suppress it. Not only does that fail, but it can make everything worse.

Jean Grey, being a teenager, can’t wrap her head around those extremes, be they the Phoenix Force or just being a functional adult. Again, the visions of her older self basically have to belabor it, to the point of frustration.

In her vision, she starts to gain a better perspective of what these feelings are. She comes to see the Phoenix Force as more than just that big cosmic fire bird that ends up killing her twice. It’s not just a force for death. It’s also a force for life. Being a teenager, she can’t help but focus on the death. In doing so, she only ever obsesses over one extreme.

That’s understandable for a teenager who hasn’t lived enough of a life to make sense of it. It’s also the exact mentality that gets her killed. It’s why people who obsess over death tend to live in a state of near-constant distress. It affects them and those around them. By only focusing on one extreme, they basically doom themselves.

Jean Grey is in that exact position. She’s focused entirely on the end, but not on everything else around it. Teenagers, with their limited experiences, are like that and through no fault of their own. That’s why they’ll make such poor decisions, both in their adult lives and in their personal lives.

Jean2

This is where Jean Grey has her most defining moment of the comic, if not the past five years of X-men comics. Despite the benefit of foresight afforded to her by time travel and psychic abilities, she still refuses to confront the extremes of the Phoenix Force. She refuses to accept the person she becomes.

Finally, after all the belaboring and mystical-induced spirit quests, she does it. She finally takes a step back from the doom and gloom of her impending death. She finally looks at the bigger picture. She admits that who she is now and who she’s afraid of becoming are the same person. Those feelings that overwhelm her that she’s been trying to suppress are there and they’re not going away.

As an X-men fan and a fan of personal insight, it was one of the most satisfying moments I’ve reading an X-men comic that didn’t involve Emma Frost’s costume. It was one of those moments that felt much bigger than the character. It’s a powerful message that people without mutant powers can appreciate.

Jean1

Jean Grey’s struggles are very much akin to the struggles everyone faces when they have overwhelming experiences of any kind. Those experience don’t always have to have a sexual or personal connotation, but those are the ones that tend to stick out.

They’re also the experiences that teenagers, and even many adults, are likely to suppress. They’ll see certain experiences and desires as this powerful, dark force that will consume and destroy them, much like the Phoenix Force. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just acknowledging that those feelings exist is an important step, especially for a teenager. There are people out there right now in societies and cultures that pressure them to repress desires that cannot be repressed. Like Jean and the Phoenix Force, those feelings eventually find us in the long run. If we refuse to confront them, then they can destroy us.

It’s a powerful lesson, especially for young people still making sense of their experiences. They may not have Jean Grey’s psychic abilities or the insight provided by time travel, but their future still seems every bit as daunting. It only becomes less daunting when you step back and realize that the overwhelming feelings we dread are just part of life, in general. We can’t always suppress them. Sometimes, we just have to embrace them.

8 Comments

Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Jack Fisher's Insights, Marriage and Relationships

Lessons In Fate, Power, And Passion (From An X-men Comic)

Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey (2017) #1

As kids, it seems as though everyone is trying to teach us morality lessons that’ll help us grow into functioning adults. Those lessons aren’t always effective, though. Just ask the potheads who sat through the DARE program in school.

As adults, we tend to pay less attention to those kinds of lessons because we arrogantly believe we’ve figured it out. We think we know enough about the human experience to determine what is right and what is wrong. People who think that way tend to be the arrogant assholes who refuse to admit that Dr. Oz is a quack and a fraud.

Truly functional people, be they kids, adults, or adults who still act like kids, never stop learning important life lessons. Life is a constantly changing, obstacle-filled struggle where you never see the finish line and are guaranteed to fall flat on your face at least once a week. That’s why lessons that really deliver a powerful message in a compelling way is a special, precious thing in this chaotic world we live in.

That brings me to comic books, superheroes, and the X-men. Yes, this is going to be another one of those posts. Yes, that means I’m about to extrapolate a major philosophical insight into the human condition from an X-men comic, most likely in a way that applies to love, sex, and everything in between. You’re welcome.

It’s not the first time I’ve gleaned such lessons from an X-men comic. A year ago, I singled out X-men 92 #5 as a testament to just how powerful a romance between equals can be. Chances are, I’ll single out more comics in the future and there’s a high possibility that they’ll involve the X-men, Deadpool, or Wonder Woman.

The comic in question today is Marvel Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1. It’s actually not part of any ongoing X-men series. It’s a single, self-contained story that’s part of an major promotional effort by Marvel called Marvel Generations.

The goal is as simple. Marvel seeks to bridge the gap between its older incarnations of iconic characters with the newer versions. While some of those newer versions have already caused controversy, the goal is always the same. Marvel hopes to appeal to their long-time fans while appealing to newer fans who are just getting into the world of Marvel.

Comic companies do this fairly often, trying to please old fans while creating new ones. Having followed comics for a good chunk of my life, I’ve seen more than my share of efforts. DC Comics, Marvel’s chief rival, did it last year with their DC Rebirth initiative. By most accounts, it was a success. Now, Marvel is attempting to achieve similar success.

There are many challenges to that effort, but for Jean Grey of the X-men, those challenges are more daunting than most. I’m not talking about the kind of daunting that involves dragons, killer robots, and Brett Ratner movies. I’m talking about convoluted complications involving time travel, evil clones, and cosmic forces. Trust me, it’s way more complicated than it sounds.

For this particular issue, though, you don’t need to know the fine print of those complications. You only need to know that Jean Grey’s story, after 50 years of X-men comics, got so crazy that one of her teammates, Beast, traveled back and time and brought her and the rest of the original five X-men to the future.

Now, since 2012, Jean Grey has basically been Marty McFly from “Back To The Future,” minus the incest sub-plot. She knows that her future sucks in that she ends up dead, and multiple times, no less. On top of that, she finds out she’s destined to become corrupted by a cosmic power known as the Phoenix Force, which will go onto cause all sorts of headaches, heartbreaks, and overall frustration.

That destiny is a huge part of the X-men mythos. That’s the part that “X-men: Dark Phoenix,” a movie I’ve talked about extensively, is going to try and capture. In this comic, Jean Grey has already read the spoilers to that story. She knows it doesn’t turn out well.

In fact, she has an ongoing solo series where the primary theme involves her preparing herself to face the Phoenix Force so that she doesn’t become that cute redheaded mutant who constantly dies and ends up on the wrong side of a bad love triangle. That’s entirely understandable and Marvel Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 gives her the best opportunity she’s had to date to change her fate.

This is where the lesson that Marty McFly learned the hard way comes in. Through elaborate space-time machinations that would give Doc Brown a migraine, Jean Grey is transported to a critical moment in the history of her character. It’s a moment that puts her in a position to change a lot more than just her fate.

That’s because she’s plopped in the middle of the iconic Phoenix Saga, also known by fans as the greatest X-men story ever told. It’s after her older self gains the cosmic power of the Phoenix force, but before it corrupts her in a way that destroys an entire star system and dooms her to a life of death and resurrection. There’s no part of that last sentence that’s exaggerated.

It’s an understandably confusing situation, but it’s one that puts Jean Grey in a position that even Marty McFly never dealt with. She doesn’t just have a chance to change her fate or learn more about her older self, who she’s only really known through the memories of other X-men. She has a chance to learn more about the cosmic power that she knows will doom her.

It makes for a series of colorful interactions between her and her older self that will bring tears of joy to the eyes of X-men fans of any generation. It’s hopeful, sincere, dramatic, and impactful. It fits perfectly within the narrative of Jean’s ongoing story in other X-men comics, as well as the story of her past self.

There’s so much to love about this comic, but I’m not going to spoil the entire thing here. I’d much rather have people go out and buy the issue. It’s money well-spent. Even if you don’t know much about comics or only know the X-men through the movies, this comic will appeal to you.

Beyond that appeal, though, I want to highlight an important theme within this comic. It’s a theme that applies to stories beyond comics and is relevant to life, in general. It especially applies to matters of love, passion, and intimate connections, which are major topic of this blog and the novels I write.

Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey (2017) #1

At the heart of Jean Grey’s struggle in Marvel Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1 is a difficult decision that everybody who isn’t a psychotic dictator faces at some point in their lives. It has to do with having the power to effect a situation and choosing whether or not to exercise it.

In the comic, Jean Grey has a chance to tell her older self everything she knows about her fate. She could, in principle, warn her about how the events of the Phoenix Saga play out for her. As a result, she could ensure it turns out differently, preferably in a way that doesn’t leave her dead and subsequently cloned.

On the surface, it seems easy. We saw what Marty McFly chose. We saw what the entire cast of “Hot Tub Time Machine” chose. They chose the easiest, most obvious path. They understandably wanted to improve their situation. In doing so, they created a lot more problems that they had to solve. The stakes for Jean’s problems, though, are much higher.

The problems she could create by changing her fate might be far worse than simply ending up dead. She’s not dealing with incestuous infatuations here. She’s dealing with a cosmic force that eats entire stars just for the fun of it.

She already knows the consequences of not changing anything. That has been hard enough to deal with. However, she has no idea whether she’ll fix anything by choosing otherwise. Given the Phoenix Force’s mixed track record, the odds are not in her favor.

I won’t spoil the choice she makes or what goes into. Again, I’d rather people read this comic to appreciate the full weight of its message. I’ll just say that the decision Jean makes is one that we all indirectly make when we have any kind of power over someone and can affect the course of their life.

Whether you’re a parent, a spouse, or an authority figure of any kind, you have an ability to make choices that affect other peoples’ fate. This is especially true when you’re in a relationship with someone. Your love for them and their love for you effectively links your fate. That makes your ability to make the right choices for the right reasons so critical.

It happens all too often, people using their position of power over others to abuse them. We see it when police harass minorities. We see it in crimes of passion. We see it in cases of spousal abuse and child abuse. When someone else trusts us with authority, we impact their lives in so many ways, often in ways we can’t see.

It can bring out the best and the worst in people, as the Phoenix Saga famously demonstrated. Real life demonstrates it too. Power does corrupt people. Sometimes the hardest choice to make is to not exercise that power to avert the potential consequences it might incur. It’s a choice that a lot of crazy dictators fail to make.

It’s a choice ordinary people fail to make as well. Parents find this out the hard way when they try to make decisions for their children. Sure, it seems like the right thing to do at the time. They may see it as them just protecting their child, as every parent should. However, they don’t realize until it’s too late how much damage that can do.

When you’re in an intimate relationship with someone, it can be just as powerful. If someone loves you implicitly and is willing to trust you so completely, you have the power to guide their lives in profound ways. That guidance, though, can be detrimental to the both of you.

When you have the power to influence a person or a situation, it’s easy and tempting to bend it to what you think will be more beneficial. The problem is that, without the benefit of hindsight, it’s impossible to know whether you’ll actually make things better or much worse.

The hardest decision in that situation is to acknowledge the problems as you understand them, bear the burden of solving them, and focus on the future rather than agonizing over the past. It’s rarely a preferable decision because it means accepting a situation and your role in it. It may feel like a missed opportunity, but it can just as easily be an averted crisis. Hindsight may be painfully clear, but possibilities are painfully vague.

Jean Grey, who is a teenager, mind you, in the story that plays out in Marvel Generations: Phoenix & Jean Grey #1, has to make this decision in the face of impossibly high stakes. What she does is a testament to the kind of character she is and the values we cherish in our heroes.

It’s a short, but powerful story that teaches an important lesson to children, adults, comic fans, and non-comic fans alike. Whether you’re a comic book character, a celebrity, an authority figure, or just someone with the slightest bit of leverage over someone, it’s a lesson worth learning.

3 Comments

Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, Jack Fisher's Insights

How To NOT Screw Up The Captain Marvel Movie

It’s a sad fact of life in an overly flawed world. You hope for the best, but it’s rare that it ever actually happens. Even when it does, it’s not always as much fun as you hope. Ask anyone who lost their virginity during a dare or stood in line for hours to see the Star Wars prequels.

In my experience, it’s rarely feasible to build your anticipation around something for what it can be if everything goes flawlessly. In the real world, there’s no such thing as flawless. People make mistakes. Parties go horribly wrong. Hearts get broken. Michael Bay is given too much money, cocaine, and high explosives.

When it comes to superhero movies, though, it’s not possible to hit a home run at every turn. You can’t expect them to blow your mind and give you the kind of mental orgasm that takes a week to recover from. At best, you can just hope that it doesn’t suck. I love those kinds of orgasms as much as the next guy, but let’s face it. They’re rare and awesome for a reason.

Some movies come close to achieving that kind of cinematic bliss, though. “Wonder Woman” sure did, but as I pointed out in my review, it did have its shortcomings. They were still very minor and by nearly every measure, it is the most successful female superhero movie to date.

More importantly, “Wonder Woman” proved that female superhero movies can be successful. They don’t all have to be box office bombs like “Catwoman.” That opens the door for other female heroes to follow in Wonder Woman’s footsteps. At the moment, though, the only female solo movie besides the Wonder Woman sequel is “Captain Marvel.”

Marvel may have DC beat in almost every other aspect of its movie universe, but now there’s one area where it can’t say it dominates. Sure, it has a lot of strong female characters like Black Widow, Gamora, and the Scarlet Witch. However, they’ve largely been in supporting roles. They’ve never had a chance to shine like Wonder Woman did in her movie.

Captain Marvel will get that chance. She’s the closest hero Marvel has to Wonder Woman, thanks largely to the efforts of writers like Kelly Sue DeConnick. As much as Marvel has dominated DC at the box office, it now has a sub-perfect record. Given the amount of ego and cocaine in Hollywood, there’s no way that Marvel Studios will let that stand.

I don’t doubt that Kevin Feige and the powers that be at Marvel Studio will make every effort to ensure that “Captain Marvel” matches and exceeds “Wonder Woman.” They’ve already cast the beautiful and talented Brie Larson as Carol Danvers. They also announced some major details about the movie at the San Diego Comic Con.

On paper, it looks like this movie has what it takes to match “Wonder Woman.” Then again, on paper I’m sure “Batman and Robin” seemed like a good idea. While I have high hopes for this movie, just as I did with “Wonder Woman,” I’m not going to set my expectations too high. Between the two “Matrix” sequels and “Wolverine Origins,” I’ve been burned too many times.

With that in mind, I intend to do for “Captain Marvel” what I did for “X-men: Dark Phoenix.” I’m going to provide some tips that I’m sure Kevin Feige will never see on how to avoid screwing up the “Captain Marvel” movie.

Wonder Woman” set the bar pretty damn high and looked dead sexy while doing it. It’s unreasonable to expect “Captain Marvel” to exceed it on every level. However, there are a few simple tips to ensure it doesn’t end up enduring the same infamy with “Catwoman.”


Tip #1: Let Carol Fly High (And Take The Audience With Her)

This is the most important tip, right up there with the Marvel Studios logo and Samuel L. Jackson dropping F-bombs, as only he can. Carol Danvers has a few defining traits beyond just looking awesome and kicking ass on a cosmic level. One of those traits is what makes her feel both distinctly human and someone we want to cheer for.

Throughout her history, Carol Danvers has been ambitious in a very particular way. Everybody, male or female, will look up at the stars at night and admire their beauty. Carol, however, doesn’t just want to admire. She wants to actually go there. She doesn’t want to shackle herself to this tiny little mud ball full of killer clowns, spiders, and the Kardashian family.

That’s why she joined the Air Force and fought to outperform everyone in her path. The fact she did that without a penis was secondary. Even before she got her powers, she aspired to go to the stars. Once she got those powers, she was determined to fly higher and go farther than anyone had ever dared, regardless of whether or not they had a penis.

Therein lies the key. Carol dares to venture out into the unknown and kick the ass of anyone or anything that tries to hold her back. That’s the kind of ambition people can get behind. That’s the kind of drive that people admire and want to follow.

It’s part of what makes Wonder Woman so endearing as a character to men and women alike. She has bold ambitions, but she isn’t an asshole about it. She doesn’t just seek to prove herself. She seeks to inspire others. That’s what Captain Marvel needs to do with her desire to go to go to the stars and carry the audience along for the ride.


Tip #2: Tie Carol’s Story Into That Of Mar-Vell’s

I get that there are times when it’s not possible to incorporate certain elements from the comics into a movie. That’s why we didn’t see any not-so-subtle BDSM themes in the “Wonder Woman” movie. However, the movie still made a concerted effort to capture some of the core details of Wonder Woman’s mythos, such as her iconic outfit and her relationship with Steve Trevor.

In the same way Wonder Woman needs her lasso and a desire to have sex with men who look like Chris Pine, there are some core elements to Carol Danvers’ story as a superhero that cannot and should not be glossed over. One of the most important elements involves her connection with Mar-Vell, the original Captain Marvel whose title Carol took on after his death.

Theirs is an unique connection, one with very different dynamics compared to Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. While there were some romantic overtones early on, their connection was more of a partnership rather than a romance. You can’t tell Carol’s story or get a feel for how she becomes a hero without telling Mar-Vell’s story as well.

That story doesn’t need to take up half the movie, but it does need to feel relevant. Mar-Vell’s story isn’t exactly boring either. He was an alien spy posing as a human on Earth on behalf of the Kree, a race that made it’s presence felt in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” There’s already some connections to build on. This movie just has to do it without a talking raccoon.

The key here is to use Mar-Vell’s story as an alien spy who grows fond of a beautiful Earth woman to supplement Carol’s story. That story is part of how Carol becomes Captain Marvel. That’s why when Kelly Sue DeConnick had Carol take on that title, it had a lot dramatic weight to it. That kind of drama is key for any successful movie, regardless of whether or not it has a talking raccoon.


Tip #3: Give Carol An Attitude (And Make It One To Rally Around)

One of Wonder Woman’s most defining traits, on top of being a beautiful warrior princess, is her capacity for love and empathy. Sure, she’ll fight with all her heart against demons, monsters, aliens, gods, and whatever asshole decided that “Ant Man” should get a movie before her. It’s that heart that makes her personality so endearing.

I point that out because Carol Danvers is not like that. Carol has an attitude and it’s not Wonder Woman. Just because Wonder Woman made a successful movie doesn’t mean Carol has to be too much like her because, in nearly every part of her 40-year history, she’s not like that.

Carol Danvers is a tough, hard-nosed woman who always pushes herself a little farther than anyone dares. That’s to be expected because she’s no princess. She’s a pilot in the United States Air Force. You need to have some attitude to make it there. There are real women who have succeeded in that effort. Let those women be the template.

The key is to do it in a way that doesn’t make her an arrogant bitch. I don’t doubt that’s going to be a challenge because the line between assertive and bitch is exceedingly blurred, more so for women than men. It’s an unfair double standards that people love to whine about, but never do anything to fix. Some argue it can’t be fixed.

That’s not an issue that “Captain Marvel” can hope to resolve over the course of a single movie. As such, it’s important that she walk that fine line in crafting her attitude. Again, Kelly Sue DeConnick struck the perfect balance when she took over Carol’s story in 2012.

She gave her a personality that was tough, but welcoming. She made her someone you want to hug, but don’t want to fuck with. Carol Danvers is ambitious and tough, but also has a strong sense of duty. Being a soldier, a pilot, and a hero, she sees that as part of her mission. It’s what makes her so likable as both a character and a hero.

She can have an edge, but she doesn’t have to be an asshole about it. Being an asshole is one of those traits that knows no gender. Brie Larson is a great actress who has proven that she can play tough, balanced roles. Let her do that and look sexy as hell in the process. That’ll help any movie.


Tip #4: Acknowledge Carol’s Faults And Let Her Bear Burdens

In addition to her attitude, Carol Danvers does has faults. Again, and it’s worth repeating, she is not Wonder Woman. She’s not some demigod princess whose beauty and strength were forged by gods. She’s an ordinary American woman who got her powers because she ended up working with an alien spy. She a fallible, mortal human being with tangible flaws. Any movie about her shouldn’t hide those flaws.

Some of those flaws are more obvious than others and I’m not just talking about the unpleasantness surrounding the plot with Marcus Immortus. Despite being ambitious and determined, Carol tends to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie and is prone to take stupid risks. This has gotten her into trouble before and quite recently in the comics.

With that in mind, it shouldn’t be too surprising that she’s also an alcoholic. However, it’s not the kind of alcoholism that we see with Iron Man. His brand of alcoholism is largely a product of irresponsibility and poor coping skills. Carol’s alcoholism is more about escaping her problems.

In the context of her character, that makes sense. She grew up looking at the stars and wanting to actually go there. She’s always pushing herself to fly a little higher and faster. When she’s unable to do that, she looks for an escape.

For her, accepting limitations is not easy. That’s how her alcoholism got so destructive in the comics, so much so that even Iron Man noticed it. When Iron Man says you have a drinking problem, you can skip the intervention.

That doesn’t mean that Carol has to be a total drunk in the movie. It doesn’t even have to be overtly stated. The reason why Carol drinks is more important than her actually drinking. Accepting limits is difficult for her. It’s a key part of her story and her personality. Let her endure those burdens. Let her confront those flaws. She doesn’t have to be Wonder Woman. Let her be human, with or without her powers.


Tip #5: Make The Kree/Skull War As Epic As Possible

This is somewhat indirect of Carol’s story, but one that’s vital if “Captain Marvel” is to be a fitting addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Beyond just being one of Marvel’s most powerful female characters, her movie also has to expand the overall mythos of the MCU. “Wonder Woman” did that too with DC, albeit on a very limited scale.

In this case, though, that scale needs to be turned up to eleven and given an unlimited supply of crack. That’s because it was announced at the San Diego Comic Con that the “Captain Marvel” movie would introduce the world to the Kree/Skrull war. Talk to any long-time Marvel Comics fan, like yours truly, and they’ll tell you two things. One, She-Hulk is uncomfortably sexy. Two, the Kree/Skrull war is insanely epic.

We like to think we humans are pretty damn good at war. We’ve fought so many of them over our history. Compared to the Kree/Skrull war in the comics, though, we might as well be a bunch of two-year olds playing with melted action figures.

This war is beyond anything Stephen Spielberg or Christopher Nolan could ever capture. For one, this war is on a galactic scale. It’s not just about warring tribes who don’t agree on how many goats to sacrifice during the summer solstice. These are two very different species with very different visions for the galaxy. As big as the galaxy is, it’s just not big enough for them to co-exist.

This massive war has influenced many areas of the Marvel Universe within the comics. It’s usually inevitable that the Avengers, X-men, or any major superhero team from Earth gets caught up in it whenever they dare to leave the planet for more than five minutes. It’s a huge part of the cosmic elements to Marvel, which “Guardians of the Galaxy” just started exploring.

Given the success of those movies, “Captain Marvel” has plenty to build on. Carol Danvers is a soldier. Putting her in the middle of an epic war the likes of which few humans can even fathom will help bring out the best in that soldier. That’s why the Kree/Skrull war has to be as epic as a galactic-level war deserves to be. It’ll bring out the best and worst in all those involved.


There are a lot more tips I can give, but these are the big ones. Unlike “Wonder Woman,” Captain Marvel doesn’t have the burden of proving that female superheroes can hold their own. That has already been proven, so much so that even Ryan Reynolds from “Deadpool” acknowledged it.

More than anything else, “Captain Marvel” must show that Carol Danvers is someone who deserves to be in the same league as Wonder Woman. She’s not the same icon that Wonder Woman is, but she has the potential to be. This movie could finally help realize that potential. It could also be a “Catwoman” level screw-up and no character, male or female, deserves that.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes