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Superman Vs. Boredom: Why It Matters (For Your Love Life)

In talking so much about boredom, it can get kind of boring just dwelling on it so much. I don’t know if that counts as irony or a paradox, but I think it’s kind of poetic. The more we contemplate the impact boredom has on our lives and our society, the more we realize just how powerful it is and how quick we are to avoid talking about it.

We still don’t know the true impacts of crippling boredom on society because, for the moment, there are plenty of distractions, jobs, and obligations to keep people busy. Horrific stories like the murder of Christopher Lane, which was allegedly inspired by boredom, will continue to be rare and newsworthy, at least for the near future.

However, there may very well be future generations, including those that will emerge within our lifetime, that will have to deal with a growing glut of boredom. Between advances in biotechnology that will cure disease and the rise of automation, which may necessitate a universal basic income, this may be an issue that impacts us sooner than we think.

That brings me to Superman. Bear with me. I promise that’s not a non-sequiter. I’ve used comic book superheroes before to make my points, be they inspiration for one of my novels or examples of a sex-positive female character. I even cited comics when I singled out Vandal Savage as a villain forged by boredom. For the purposes of this post I need to cite him again, but Superman will be the primary focus.

Being the personification of our ideals and morals, the things that affect Superman also affect and I’m not just referring to kryptonite. If the epitome of our heroes and the icon of our most cherished values cannot handle a certain burden, then what hope do we have? That’s why when there’s a flaw with Superman, one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe, we need to take notice.

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In a sense, Superman and the immoral villain, Vandal Savage, are indirectly linked. They’re facing the same overwhelming burden and neither of them has found a way to effectively deal with it. The only difference is that Savage had a huge head start. Superman will catch up eventually and that’s where the true struggle resides.

Based on his current power set, which has been prone to change over the years, Superman is functionally immoral. So long as he replenishes his powers with the energy of a yellow sun, he’ll never age and he’ll never die. That puts him in the same boat as Vandal Savage, who never ages and can’t die. That also means that, at some point, he’ll have to deal with the burden of crippling boredom.

That’s a burden that DC Comics has never had him deal with. Like so many other oversights, such as how glasses can be an effective disguise, it’s one of those flaws that’s easier to just ignore. However, it has been confronted to some extent and the implications for Superman, the real world, and our love lives is pretty distressing.

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Again, that’s not a non-sequiter. I brought up our love lives for a reason and it’s not just because I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer, although that is part of it. While we might not be immortal, our lifespan is increasing. There are emerging technologies that may very well make us functionally immortal. That’s going to, by default, affect our love lives just as it will affect Superman.

Nearly everyone, including non-comic book fans, know the extent of Superman’s love life. They may not know about that time he made a porno tape with Big Barda, but they know that Superman’s primary love interest is Lois Lane. His romance with Lois is, by nearly every measure, the most iconic romance in the history of superhero comics.

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While the romance has evolved a number of ways over time, the core themes remain the same. Lois Lane, being as human as they come, complements Superman in every meaningful way. She often acts as an emotional anchor of shorts, highlighting and strengthening the humanity within Superman. While she isn’t the primary source of Superman’s values, she is definitely a catalyst for strengthening them.

It’s a big part of what makes Superman so strong and so upstanding, with respect to his values. Lois Lane provides that sense of love and connection that reminds Superman that, despite being an alien, he has a strong sense of humanity. That is a humanity that Vandal Savage lost long ago.

While Superman’s romance with Lois Lane may be iconic, it still relies on one major flaw. Lois Lane, as beautiful, sexy, and charismatic as she might be, is still human. That means that at some point, she’s going to grow old and die. Superman may still love her all the same because he’s just that kind of person. However, she’s not immortal and he is. There’s just no way around that.

That’s not a primarily concern for him, though, because in the comics, Superman’s age is usually between 29 and 33 years old. There are some comics that explore an older version of him, but the bulk of his mythos is structured around him being the age of a typical man. That means, by default, the story can only cover a tiny sliver of Superman’s love life with Lois.

That has major implications because if Superman is functionally immortal, then he will outlive Lois Lane and that emotional anchor that helps him be the hero he is disappears. What will that do to him? Can he still be Superman without it?

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Vandal Savage’s descent into madness sets a dangerous precedent. It’s entirely possible that Savage had someone like Lois Lane in his life at some point. The man has been alive for 50,000 years old. The sheer breadth of his lifespan makes that entirely possible.

Unfortunately, or tragically in some respect, that love died because everyone around Savage dies. It’s not because he kills them. He just outlives them. Being immortal, getting attached to anybody means enduring heartbreak and loss.

Even if someone he loves dies peacefully in their sleep, he still feels that loss. People in general, when they lose loved ones, feel emotional pain no matter what the circumstances. I had a relative live into her late 90s and die peacefully. When I went to her funeral, there were still people with tears in their eyes.

Imagine how many times Vandal Savage has endured that over his 50,000 year lifetime. Is it any wonder that he lost his humanity and has such a lower regard for human life? For him, forming human attachments of any kind just guarantees more pain. Whether you’re a human or a worm, you do whatever it takes to avoid that kind of pain.

That brings me back to Superman. He’s only lived a fraction of the life of Vandal Savage. However, he’s in a far worse position because while Savage may be a genius, he doesn’t have anything close to the power set that Superman possesses.

Superman is not just immortal and smart. He possesses the kind of speed, strength, and agility that allows him to do anything, go anywhere, and master every skill. Whereas someone like Savage may take centuries to master something, Superman can do it in seconds. That means he’ll run out of things to do even faster than Savage. It will not take 50,000 years for Superman to be overcome by crippling boredom.

Someone like Lois Lane might be able to keep Superman human, at least in his young age. However, there are many occasions in the comics where Lois Lane’s death leads to Superman becoming distant, detached, and despondent. While their love may be strong, the influence is at the mercy of time.

That’s not to say Superman will inevitably become like Vandal Savage. Granted, there are stories where Superman goes completely insane and becomes the kind of super-powered tyrant that North Korean dictators aspire to be. There are others where he ages gracefully and helps make the world a better place. In a sense, Superman’s potential reflects the uncertainty that such boredom will incur on immortals.

That’s an important concept to grasp because, as we humans live longer, healthier lives, we’ll have to contend with some of Superman’s burdens. Some people may be able to live centuries and maintain a strong sense of humanity. Others may end up like Vandal Savage and see humanity as a bunch of perishable meat bags.

This has huge implications for both our love lives, as well as the attachments we make. If we start living long, near-immortal lives, why even form romantic attachments? Why bother when time is just going to destroy it in the long run? Will we abandon those passions because it only leads to more pain? Will a world of functional immortals be completely devoid of love?

It’s impossible to say for sure and that’s what’s so disturbing about it. If someone as good and pure as Superman struggles to deal with the impact of crippling boredom, then what hope do we have?

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One-Punch Man: A Hero Forged By Boredom

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When it comes to the crippling power of boredom, it’s easy to see how it can create deranged super-villains like Vandal Savage and hardened anti-heroes like Rick Sanchez from “Rick and Morty.” In the real world, boredom tends to inspire people in all the wrong ways. It can even inspire horrific crimes.

As such, it’s hard to imagine boredom being the driving force behind a superhero. That seems utterly antithetical to what a superhero is. As a noted comic book fan, which I’ve belabored many times on this blog, I know more than most people should about what makes a superhero. Boredom should not be on that list.

Heroes are supposed to be champions of all that is good and virtuous. They’re supposed to embody our highest ideals as a people. They raise the bar and set an example for others to follow. Their hearts, souls, and eyes are supposed to radiate hope, love, and everything else we associate with puppies and kittens.

However, it’s because I’m a die-hard comic book fan that I would know about a hero inspired by boredom if he or she even existed. Well, thanks to my love of comics and the extra free time that I enjoy between football season, I have discovered such a hero.

He’s not Superman. He’s not Captain America. He’s not even Wolverine, Deadpool, or Squirrel Girl. He’s not a product of Marvel, DC Comics, or any major comic book company from the past century. He’s in a category of his own, although not for reasons you might not expect. His real name is Saitama, but most know him as “One-Punch Man.”

Unlike most heroes, One-Punch Man is exactly what he sounds like. His story isn’t as convoluted as Wolverine’s or as generic as Superman’s. His powers are nothing fancy. As his name indicates, he has the power to defeat any foe with a single punch. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a giant, mountain-sized titan or some monster from outer space. No matter how big or powerful they are, Saitama beats them with just one punch.

If that sounds bland to you, then congratulations. You’re seeing exactly what the writer, who goes by the pseudonym, One, intended for you to see. Unlike other attempts to create iconic superheroes, most of which fail spectacularly, “One-Punch Man” didn’t set out to create an interesting, compelling hero. It was crafted as a parody, of sorts, to modern superheroes.

In the same tradition of Weird Al Yankovic, “One-Punch Man” took an established narrative and turned it into a joke, of sorts. It went out of its way to do all the things that traditional superhero comics avoid. It actually tried to create a hero who was bland, overpowered, and un-iconic. Whether by design or by accident, it worked.

It was created in 2009, but by 2012 the Japanese comic sold over 7.9 million issues in Japan and was later exported to the United States, where it was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2015. For those of you who don’t know, Eisner Awards are the comic book equivalent of the Oscars. For any comic, let alone one that started off as a joke, to be nominated is a pretty big deal.

Parody or not, “One-Punch Man” struck a chord. It might be due to the saturation of superhero movies or the ongoing frustration of comic book fans about how their favorite characters are treated, but a hero who basically spits all over the standard superhero narrative has a unique appeal. Given the success of Weird Al, maybe we shouldn’t be that surprised.

In utterly lampooning modern superhero stories, “One-Punch Man” makes boredom the primary catalyst. In a sense, it channels the power of boredom to create a character who breaks every possible rule for making a compelling superhero and it does it with the blankest of stares.

His backstory is not that compelling. He’s not some alien from a dead planet. He’s not an exiled god or a genetic freak. He’s not even gifted in any way. In fact, the first episode of the anime cartoon shows him as just some generic unemployed office worker who randomly encounters a monster. He defeats the monster, albeit not with one punch, and on the spot he decides to be a superhero.

If you’re hoping for a more compelling story than that, then save yourself the trouble and throw that hope away along with the leftovers and dog shit. That’s as compelling as Saitama’s origin story gets. The way he becomes so powerful is even less compelling than that, if you can believe that.

Saitama didn’t get strong through a genetic mutation, a crazy lab experiment, advanced technology, or even a radioactive bug. Saitama gained his immense power over the course of three short years and he did it through a very simple, very bland workout routine. In his own words, this is how he became the most powerful hero in the world.

100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats, and a 10-kilometer run! And I do it every single day!

Again, it’s every bit as bland as it sounds. The mere fact that everything in Saitama’s workout is nothing more than a set of basic exercises that almost anyone can do is so inane and generic. It’s so generic that people in the real world are even trying this regiment. Given the extent and utter unfeasibility of Batman’s training, it’s basically a joke.

That’s entirely the point, though. Saitama isn’t supposed to be the kind of underdog hero who defies all odds, pushes his limits, and overcome immense obstacles. He is the embodiment of a classic “Deus Ex Machina,” the proverbial god machine that so many stories utilize to resolve a conflict.

In nearly every writing class you take, and I’ve taken more than a few, you’re taught to avoid using the deus ex machina trope as much as possible. It’s not easy, even for erotica romance writers. I like to think I’ve avoided it for the most part in my novels, but I don’t deny the challenge is there. Even comic books struggle with this. Just look up something called the Cosmic Cube for proof of that.

However, whereas most writers avoid a deus ex machine, “One-Punch Man” doubles down on it. It even embraces it to some extent. It doesn’t craft classic superhero stories about how Saitama faces overwhelming odds, powerful enemies, and insane obstacles. He’s so strong that nothing really threatens him anymore. Every threat or enemy he faces is easily defeated with a single punch.

Instead, the narrative of “One-Punch Man” explores Saitama’s struggle with the sheer boredom of being such a powerful hero. He rarely raises his voice. He rarely gets excited. He’s never afraid, threatened, or agitated in any way. He often yawns in the middle of epic battles, much to the annoyance of his enemies and even his fellow heroes.

There’s no getting around it. Saitama is bored out of his mind. Beyond just being powerful, his reasons for being a hero aren’t that deep. He doesn’t have a deep sense of duty like Superman. He didn’t suffer a terrible tragedy like Spider-Man or Batman either. He’s just a hero for the fun of it. That’s the only reason he ever gives. Again, that annoys the hell out of his enemies, but that’s the point.

If you were to put Saitama on the traditional hero’s journey, it would be the shortest journey ever. Everything about Saitama’s backstory, powers, and motivations are bland. They’re intended to be bland because he’s supposed to be a parody of modern hero tropes, a walking joke of how every epic superhero struggle can be reduced to one proverbial punch.

While “One-Punch Man” does an admirable job mocking superhero traditions, sometimes too well, it also reflects the sheer impact of boredom. When someone becomes so powerful and so competent at resolving any conflict, it tends to get boring. Saitama is the perfect embodiment of this.

He might also be a warning sign, of sorts. I’ve talked a lot about the potential for human enhancement in the future, from smart blood to brain implants. While these advancements will do a lot to improve our lives and our bodies, it might also put us in the same position as Saitama.

What happens when it becomes overly easy to master a skill, overcome an obstacle, or achieve a goal? When you’ve got a body that can download knowledge, shape-shift, and make love to an army of sex robots, what else is there? How can you not get bored by all that?

Saitama lives in a world where nothing is a threat to him and nothing challenges him in any way. As such, he’s bored out of his mind. He’s only a hero because he still gets some fun out of it. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing. For someone as powerful as him, he’ll take it in any way he can. It might not be the most noble reason for being a hero, but it is understandable.

Parody or not, “One-Punch Man” is a unique exploration of a superhero narrative. It purposefully breaks and mocks all the rules of a heroic narrative, but does so in a way that’s entertaining and quirky. You could argue that Saitama is the only hero forged and driven by boredom.

However, if superheroes are supposed to represent our ideals and hopes, then what kind of message does “One-Punch Man” tell us? If becoming so powerful and so competent leads to boredom, then what does that mean for our own efforts? In a sense, our limits keep us from doing so much, but they also keep us from getting bored. In the end, it’s hard to say whether that’s much of an ideal.

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Five Female Superheros That Deserve Their Own Movie

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It’s been a damn good week for female superheroes. Whether you’re a man, woman, or something in between, it’s hard to deny the historic significance of this past weekend. “Wonder Woman” is officially a hit. The glass ceiling for superhero movies is shattered. We can all finally lay the failures of “Catwoman” and “Elektra” to rest.

It’s sad that it took over a decade to make another female superhero movie that succeeded, but good things are worth waiting for. Anyone still waiting for a decent Fantastic Four movie should take comfort in that.

For Wonder Woman, at least, the wait is over. She has proven that female superheroes can succeed. They can carry their own movie. The fact that Wonder Woman had to prove this in the first place is kind of asinine, but that’s a trivial detail at this point. “Wonder Woman” succeeded and that doesn’t just break the myth that female superheros can’t succeed on their own. It opens the door for other female superheroes to shine.

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As I write this, there is only one other female superhero besides Wonder Woman who is set to star in her own movie. That character is Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers, whose movie is set for release in 2019. With Brie Larson having been cast, the movie is already in the works. Wonder Woman’s success can only help.

Unlike Wonder Woman, though, Captain Marvel does not have the kind of iconic status as Wonder Woman. In fact, she only recently gained a surge in popularity when writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick, launched “Captain Marvel: In Pursuit Of Flight.” This series, which any Wonder Woman fan would love, effectively revamped a character who had only ever been a secondary character in the Avengers.

Since that run, Captain Marvel has become the closest character Marvel has to Wonder Woman. As such, it makes perfect sense for her to get a solo movie, if only to keep up with DC.

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However, as excited as I am to see more female superheroes get their own movie, there aren’t many others to look forward to. Earlier this year, Avengers director, Joss Whedon, announced that he was pursuing a “Batgirl” movie. As exciting as it sounds, though, this movie is tentative at best. With no release date or cast, this movie could languish in development hell, as Whedon’s own Wonder Woman movie did in 2007.

With “Wonder Woman,” the floodgates have been opened. There’s a new avenue for pursuing big bucks with superhero movies and, seeing as how Hollywood values money over all else, we’re likely to see plenty more female superhero movies in the future.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer my own wishlist of sorts. Wonder Woman is a great female hero and a pop culture icon in the highest degree, but she is far from alone. There’s a wealth of great female heroes in the world of comics who would thrive in their own movie. Below is my personal list of female superheroes who I feel should get their own movie.


#1: Laura “X-23” Kinny

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This one is, by far, the most obvious and logical. After the success of “Logan,” in which X-23 was the breakout star, there’s already a lot of buzz around this possibility. Both Dafne Keen, the actress who played her, and director James Mangold have expressed interest in pursuing an X-23 solo movie.

Given the performance we saw in “Logan,” it would be foolish not to capitalize on X-23’s breakout success. Hugh Jackman gave X-men fans 17 wonderful years as Wolverine. X-23 is in a perfect position to carry on the mantel. She already did so in the comics, adopting both the title and the costume of Wolverine. Why not do the same in the movies?


#2: Thor (Jane Foster)

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This one might be the most controversial. Back in 2014, Marvel made a decision that still has some comic fans whining to this day. They made Thor unworthy of wielding his hammer, Mjolnir. Since the world still needed a Thor, Jane Foster stepped in and took up the mantle, which she’s wielded effectively ever since.

Controversial or not, there’s no denying the strength of the story that followed. Jane Foster had always been a supporting character for Thor. Putting her as the main lead was a bold, but powerful move. Jane isn’t just some glorified arm-candy for any Chris Hemsworth look-alike, though. She’s very much her own character.

In the comics, Jane was dying of cancer before she picked up the hammer. By becoming Thor, she’s trying to make the most of whatever time she has left. That’s a powerful struggle and a meaningful story, especially to anyone who has lost someone to cancer. Plus, being played by Natalie Portman can only help her cause.


#3: Black Canary

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When most people think of DC’s most iconic female heroes, they almost immediately think of Wonder Woman and rightfully so. She is, and likely always will be, the standard by which all female superheroes are measured.

That said, some female heroes make it a point to set themselves apart. That’s what Black Canary does. Dinah Lance is not a demigod warrior like Wonder Woman. She’s not a brooding vigilante like Batman either. She has her own set of superhuman abilities. She’s a tough fighter who’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the most capable fighters in the DC universe. She also looks damn sexy in fishnets.

In addition, Black Canary has a track record of sorts as a supporting character in “Arrow.” Being a successful character in TV doesn’t always translate well into movies, as Baywatch recently learned, but someone with Black Canary’s skill and sex appeal can certainly make that transition.


#4: Starfire

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Admit it. You knew I was going to put her on this list. It was just a matter of how I’d be able to justify giving a solo movie to a female hero that is so comfortable with nudity. I went out of my way to praise Starfire as a sex-positive superhero, one whose open sexuality is both fun and heroic in its own unique way.

Now, I know this one would be a real stretch. However, the success of the “Deadpool” movie has given me hope that there is a future for R-rated, sex-positive superhero movies. It may take a while, given the recent trend in outrage over any female character that dares to be sexy. Remember, people made a big deal about Wonder Woman’s armpits for crying out loud.

At some point, though, there will be a market for a female hero that just doesn’t give a flying fuck about nudity. At some point, fans are going to get sick of being shamed for wanting to see a sexy female hero in a bikini. When that day comes, Starfire will be the perfect female superhero for a generation in need of a sex-positive icon.


#5: She-Hulk

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To date, there have been two lackluster Hulk movies. In both cases, the story was fairly the same. You’ve got a man dealing with serious anger issues, struggling to function in a world that just keeps finding ways to piss him off. Most people are familiar with that story. Those same people, however, are less familiar with She-Hulk’s story.

Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters is not just a female version of the Hulk. If anything, she’s a very different kind of Hulk. She’s Bruce Banner’s cousin who became the Hulk due to a blood transfusion. Unlike Bruce, she doesn’t need to get angry to become big, strong, and green. She’s pretty much stuck in her Hulk form.

That means she’s more in control of her faculties, so much so that she manages to continue her work as a lawyer. That’s right. This Hulk has a day job and it doesn’t involve smashing. Now most lawyer-driven movies since “My Cousin Vinny” have had limited entertainment value. Add a big, strong, sexy green female hero to the mix and suddenly, there’s a lot more value to go around.

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Las Vegas Comic Con 2017: Tips, Tricks, And Elvis

I’ve made no secret of it. I love Las Vegas. I love comic books. So when something comes along that combines them both, I just have to talk about it. That something is called “Amazing Comic Con” and it’s taking place from June 23rd to June 25th, 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in the heart of Las Vegas. There is literally nothing about that last sentence that doesn’t appeal to me.

It’s rare you find two things you love merged into one. Sure, you can dip donuts in hot sauce while receiving a massage from Jennifer Lawrence, but the opportunities for that sort of convergence are rare. Mixing Las Vegas and comic books just feels like chocolate and peanut butter. It’s one of those potent combinations that just feels right.

Now, I’ve gone to multiple comic cons in various cities. Some are small. Some, like the New York Comic Con, are among the biggest in the industry. If you’re new to cons, scenes like New York can be pretty overwhelming and I’m not just talking about the insane work people put into their costumes.

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That’s not Photoshopped by the way. That’s real. That’s the kind of awesome stuff you’ll see at a comic convention. That makes a scene like Las Vegas, where it’s not unusual to see Elvis impersonators and men dressed as pirates walking the street, a perfect combination. So if you love comics and Las Vegas, this is quite possibly the best event for you that doesn’t involve free donuts.

Amazing Comic Con” might not be on the same level as New York, just yet, but it still has all the features that make conventions great. There are artists, vendors, cos-players, and celebrity guests. Those names include the likes of Stan “The Man” Lee, Adam “Batman” West, Ray “Darth Maul” Park, and Rob “I Created Deadpool, Bitches!” Liefeld. If you can’t get excited about at least one of those names, then you’re just being difficult.

That said, it’s not just enough for me to encourage you to check out “Amazing Comic Con.” If neither Las Vegas nor comic conventions appeal to you, then chances are you’ve stumbled onto this blog by mistake and for that, I apologize. If, however, those things get your blood flowing in all the right directions to all the right body parts, I’d like to help.

Just getting there is the easy part. Las Vegas is literally an oasis of high-end resorts, full of every possible amenity meant to make you want to stay. There are any number of discount flights and vacation packages available, which you can find right here. Las Vegas wants you to be there. They’ve gone out of their way to make it as easy as possible.

Once you’re there, though, that’s when the real challenge starts. There’s so much to see and do in Las Vegas. There’s so much to see and do at a comic book convention. The human brain may or may not be equipped to handle so much spectacle, but that never stopped anyone from enjoying it as much as humanly possible.

So in the interest of encouraging everybody to go more comic cons and enjoy the sexy spectacle that is Las Vegas, here are a few tips on having an awesome comic con experience. Some of this may sound like common sense, but trust me. When you’re surrounded by comics, gambling, and beautiful women offering you free alcohol, you can’t expect to think straight. So here’s how to make the experience as awesome as it should be.


Tip #1: Arrive An Hour Early (But Not Much Earlier)

It’s always good to be proactive, but like bacon grease and ice cream, you can overdo it. In my experience, arriving an hour early, but not any earlier, works best. You won’t be at the front of the line, but you won’t be stuck at the back either.

If you arrive too early, you’ll get in first, but you won’t get much else. You’ll just be stuck standing around for hours on end, worried about losing your place in line. Odin help you if you have to go to the bathroom at any point. Comic cons are not like standing in line for a blockbuster movie. They’re in big, spacious convention centers. There’s plenty of room. Getting there really early won’t do much for you.

Now, the only exception to this is if there’s a very specific panel or event you want to attend. If that event is happening early or you know it’s going to get crowded fast, then showing up a little earlier would work. Outside that specific circumstance, don’t bother. You’ll just waste time and energy standing in line that you could put to so many other uses in a town like Las Vegas.


Tip #2: Carry Between $100 to $150 Cash (In Addition To Your Credit Card)

This is something I learned the hard way early on. At most comic cons these days, vendors do take credit cards and debit cards. For some merchandise though, as well as autographs and photo ops, they only accept cash. I’ve missed out on a few very critical autographs because I was stupid enough to not have enough cash. Don’t make that same mistake.

Again, most vendors still take credit cards. It’s not 1997, for crying out loud. Plus, unless you’re a high roller or cos-playing as Richie Rich, it’s not a good idea to have a lot of cash on you. Save that for the casinos. Unless you’re looking to buy something really rare, like one of Jack Kirby’s old pencils, $100 to $150 should do the trick.


Tip #3: Buy (And Keep Charged) An External Battery For Your Smartphone

This is probably the most serious tip I can offer. If you scoff at every other word I’ve written on this post, at least take this seriously. Make sure you have a fully-charged external battery for your smartphone and keep it on your person at all times. Even if you’re cos-playing as the scantily-clad Starfire, find a way to include an external battery.

At every con I’ve been to, I’ve seen huge swaths of people hover around wall outlets as though they’re the lone source of heat in a Siberian winter. People will literally fight each other to access an outlet to charge their phone or tablet. I’ve seen it happen. It can get pretty ugly, especially when they’re dressed as Mortal Kombat characters.

That’s why it’s prudent to invest in at least one external battery. It doesn’t matter where you get it. Just make sure it works and make sure it has at least two full charges. You’ll probably be taking a lot of photos and videos. If you’re going with friends, you’ll probably need to stay in touch with them somehow. If, by chance, you get a cute cos-players phone number, you better make damn sure your phone is active.

Again, and I can’t belabor this enough, make sure you’ve got a battery. Make sure you can charge your phone at a moment’s notice. Nothing kills the comic con experience faster than having a dead phone.


Tip #4: Make Sure You Can Store What You Bring (And Buy)

This is especially important for cos-players. If you’re going to wear a costume to “Amazing Comic Con,” even if it’s a small one, make sure you have a place to store it. The Las Vegas Convention Center, and most convention centers in general, have storage areas that you can use for a small fee. Unless you want to lug a ton of crap around, it’s a worthwhile investment.

I wore a costume to the New York Comic Con last year. It wasn’t a very bulky costume, but it became somewhat of an annoyance when I needed to change out of it for a panel. Not having a storage locker made that really difficult. I had to wait in line at a crowded bathroom to get out of it. That was not a pleasant experience.

It helps that the Las Vegas Convention Center is attached to a hotel. Even if you’re not staying there, the staff will go out of their way to help you store your crap, so long as the price is right. Las Vegas is a very service-oriented town. They will accommodate you, so long as you’re not insultingly cheap.

Storage lockers also are a must if you plan on buying a lot of gear. Whether it’s posters or collectors items, a locker ensures you can keep exploring the convention without lugging around all your stuff. If you don’t plan on buying much or don’t have much cash to spend, just bringing a simple backpack will often suffice.


Tip #5: Be Polite To Cos-Players (And Don’t Be A Dick)

One of the best parts of comic cons are the cos-players. They help make conventions the wonderful spectacles they are and in a city like Las Vegas, which was built on a foundation of spectacles, expect to see plenty of wonderful sights. For better or for worse, you’ll see men, women, and children dressed in some of the most astonishing costumes ever.

Most of these cos-players are happy to pose for a photo. Just being polite and asking nicely will suffice. Every cos-player I’ve met, male or female, have been wonderful. They will literally drop what they’re doing to pose for a photo. Some will even go out of their way to talk comics, which is something you just don’t get with a random Elvis impersonator.

Amazing Comic Con,” and every con these days, makes a big deal about harassment. I don’t think that needs to be belabored here. If you’re going to be a dick to a cos-player, especially a female cos-player, you can expect to get thrown out or arrested. Remember, you’re in a big convention center full of people dressed as superheroes. Do you really think you’ll get away with being an asshole in that environment?


Tip #6: Know The Layout (And Note The Restrooms And Food Vendors)

Anyone who has ever had to navigate a convention center usually learns this the hard way. Some of these convention centers are huge. I got lost multiple times at the New York Comic Con because the building was so damn big. I’ve been to the Las Vegas Convention Center before. It’s one of the biggest on the west coast. Make sure you have a map of the place and always keep it handy.

I know that may be common sense, but having a map and using it right aren’t the same thing. I usually get a map at every convention center I go to, but those maps aren’t always easy to read. In my experience, it helps to get an official map of the entire convention center. That tends to be more detailed.

In addition, make a note of the restrooms and food vendors. Comic conventions tend to get really crowded. That means you’ll encounter many long lines at the restrooms. To avoid that, make a note of restrooms in areas that aren’t usually crowded. Sometimes you have to really go out of your way to find them, but when you really got to go, that knowledge can be invaluable.

The same goes for food vendors. I once stood in line for a half-hour just to get a small order of chicken and fries. It cost me nearly twenty bucks as well. Some food vendors will gouge you if you let them. If possible, make sure you eat a good meal before the convention and have a plan on where to get a bite when you need one. The less time you spend hungry and in line, the more time you’ll have to enjoy yourself.


These are just a few tips to help your “Amazing Comic Con” experience. Use them or don’t use them. If you can’t find a way to enjoy yourself at a comic con or in a city like Las Vegas, then you need help I’m not qualified to give. For everyone else, this is a beautiful convergence of pop culture and sex appeal. That’s a potent combination and in a town like Las Vegas, that’s saying something.

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Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, And A Positive Feminist Message

It’s hard to believe it’s almost here. In less than one month, the “Wonder Woman” movie starring Chris Pine and Gal Gadot will finally be released. It’s been a long time coming. For comic book and superhero fans of every age, race, and gender, this is a movie we’ve been waiting for with baited breath and wet panties.

I’ve already made my love of Wonder Woman quite clear on this blog. She is, beyond dispute, the most iconic female hero of the last 100 years. She isn’t just a symbol for female power that spans generations. She represents a unique heart, spirit, and passion that appeals just as much to 1950s housewives as it does to latte-loving millennials in 2017.

Of all the many superhero movies I’m excited for, “Wonder Woman” is at the top of a very long list. She already made her presence felt in last year’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” While that movie was critically panned to no end for all the wrong reasons, there was one sentiment than most agreed on. Wonder Woman was one of the best parts of that movie.

Gal Gadot, who also happens to be a former Israeli soldier in addition to being drop-dead gorgeous, proved that she is worthy of this iconic role. She can be Wonder Woman and kick an insane amount of ass while doing it. She can do all of this while having a level of sex appeal that Lynda Carter herself would be proud of.

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This is all wonderful news for fans of comics, superheroes, and beautiful kick-ass women. This is also usually where I turn the tables in a post and bring up an issue that tends to bring down your spirits faster than a dead kitten in a graveyard for orphans.

Well, if you’re looking for me to put another dent in your soul, I’m going to have to disappoint you this time. Instead, I wanted to bring up Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, and all the wonders that come with her for a genuinely good reason that should put a smile on your face and fill your heart with a cradle of baby puppies.

That’s because, as the marketing machine ramps up for Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot and the director, Patty Jenkins, are hitting the media circuit. Naturally, that’s going to lead to a few fake controversies and out-of-context quotes. Just look at any interview ever done with Ben Affleck. It’s as inevitable as a child star needing therapy.

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It’s a dangerous game, throwing yourself out there in a world where the internet will crucify you for using the wrong pronouns. If anyone can do it and be sexy as hell, though, it’s Gal Gadot. She ended up proving herself in a way that any Amazon warrior would be proud of.

She did so by addressing an issue that tends to infuriate the internet, people, and the very forces of nature if it’s ever mentioned above a whisper. That’s right, Gal Gadot talked about feminism. I’ll give everyone a moment to stop gasping, but don’t head for your safe space just yet. This one actually has a happy ending.

I’ve made multiple posts on how hard it is to talk about this issue, especially when there are so many frustrating double standards. Gal Gadot didn’t attempt to address everything. Even Wonder Woman has her limits. However, she did address one issue that seems to divide feminists, conservative Christians, and men who have a hard time hiding their boners. Specifically, she talked about her attire.

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Usually, when people talk about women’s attire, it turns into a pay-per-view caliber whining fight where one side argues it’s too sexy and the other side argues it’s too repressive. Wear too little and you’re being too slutty. Wear too much and you’re propagating the grand patriarchal conspiracy to relegate all women to making sandwiches. You just can’t win.

Gal Gadot, being the wonderful woman she is, proved that wrong. In an interview with the New York Times, she addressed the issue of Wonder Woman’s attire and did so in a way that every self-proclaimed feminist should learn from. Here’s what she said.

“I think as a feminist, you should be able to wear whatever you like!” Ms. Gadot said. “In any case, there is such a misunderstanding of the concept. Feminism is about equality and choice and freedom. And the writers, Patty and myself all figured that the best way to show that is to show Diana as having no awareness of social roles. She has no gender boundaries. To her, everyone is equal.”

It almost makes too much sense. It’s almost too logical. If you’re for feminism, you should be for wearing whatever the fuck you want. If you want to wear a G-string and a tube top made out of duct tape, then wear it. If you want to wear a burka or a bear costume, then wear it. That is the perfect feminist message, one that men, women, and those of unspecified gender can get behind.

It’s wonderfully refreshing because feminism, be it radical or otherwise, has been somewhat schizophrenic when it comes to women’s attire. On one hand, you’ll have feminists protesting their right to sunbathe topless. On the other, you’ll have feminists whining about video game characters dressing too sexy.

It’s a painfully asinine conflict, one that reduces feminism to glorified virtue signaling coupled with excessive excuse banking. It’s the main reason why feminism has become such a toxic buzzword that’s less associated with equality and more associated with mean-spirited bitchiness.

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What Gal Gadot says helps put things in perspective. It’s also the perfect response to the bullshit decision the United Nations made earlier this year to rescind her status as an ambassador to girls because she was too sexy. She’s able to frame feminism in a context where only genuinely uptight, misogynistic, patriarchal asshats can disagree. By every measure, that’s a win for Wonder Woman and feminism.

I’m sure Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman will still have her detractors from feminists, men, and even other comic book fans. That’s just the nature of a world full of diverse, erratic, and often misguided opinions. That’s why it’s so refreshing for someone like Gal Gadot to use your position to make a positive contribution.

There will still be those who complain that Wonder Woman’s attire is too sexy. There will also be those who complain that she’s not sexy enough and that she’s not a good role model. However, those same people would complain about the sky being too blue if they had nothing else so their opinions deserve less credibility than their farts.

Gal Gadot didn’t need to say what she said. She didn’t need to prove to anyone that she deserves the role of Wonder Woman. She still did it and for that, on behalf of Wonder Woman fans and fans of those who say things that actually make sense, I thank her.

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How To NOT Screw Up X-men: Dark Phoenix

If you’ve been following this blog in any capacity over the past year, then you know I love comic books and superheroes. I try to work them into many topics, from effective superhero tactics to sexy female heroes who are uniquely sex positive. Assume, for the future, that if there’s sexy topic that can be related to comics, then I’ll find a way to discuss it.

In addition, those who follow this blog also know that I have a special affinity for the X-men. I tend to cite them more than most, whether it’s discussing a romance among equals, the future of female villains, or candidates for UN Ambassadorship. Again, I’ll use any possible excuse in any sexy topic to cite them again. I’m both a passionate erotica/romance writer and a passionate fan. I make no apologies for that.

So when some major news regarding superhero movies, particularly X-men movies, comes up, I’m going to discuss it. I may even belabor it. I know that may not be the reason some people visit the blog of an aspiring erotica/romance writer, but superhero movies, especially those involving the X-men, are important to me.

Keep in mind, the X-men also have characters like Emma Frost so that means there’s plenty of opportunities for sex appeal. This news, in particular, has its share of sexy and romantic connotations so it is relevant for erotica/romance fans. If you need proof, I have just two words for you: Sophie Turner.

I’ll give “Game of Thrones” fans a second to hide their boner. I’ll give X-men fans another because some of them, myself included, are still buzzing at her limited, but spectacular performance in “X-men: Apocalypse.” Other than Ryan Reynolds, the sexy piece of man meat who brought Deadpool to life, Ms. Turner may very well hold the key to the future of the X-men movies.

This is because late last month, Fox announced its slate of X-men movies for 2018. To say they’re a little ambitious would be like saying Beyoncé’s ass is only somewhat sexy.

Whereas we only got one X-men movie this year with “Logan,” 2018 will bring us three movies. While “Deadpool 2” is sure to generate plenty of interest and dick jokes, it’s “X-men: Dark Phoenix” that will likely determine the fate and future of the X-men movies. Other than Sophie Turner’s sex appeal, there’s a lot of uncertainty about that effort.

That’s because “X-men: Dark Phoenix” isn’t just attempting something bold. The Phoenix Saga it’s based on is, by far, the most iconic and acclaimed X-men story of all time. Talk to any X-men fan in any capacity and most of them will agree. The Phoenix Saga is the gold-encrusted adamantium standard by which all X-men stories are measured. It also happens to be the story that Fox woefully botched once before.

It’s true and it still gives X-men fans nightmares to this day. Back in 2006, Fox attempted to tell the story of the Phoenix in “X-men: The Last Stand.” The end results were so poorly received that they ended up erasing it completely from the timeline in 2014’s “X-men: Days of Future Past.” Yes, it really was that bad.

I could do multiple blog posts on why the movie was so terrible. In fact, I already did one that covered the nauseatingly awful love triangle involving Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine. However, that was just one in a long list of unforgivable crimes that “X-men: The Last Stand” committed.

Chief among those crimes, for X-men fans, was how it handled the Phoenix sub-plot. The mere fact that it was a sub-plot was a huge problem. As I said before, the Phoenix Saga is the most iconic, respected, and beloved X-men story of all time. To treat it as a goddamn sub-plot, while wasting the acting talent and sex appeal of Famke Janssen, is both tragic and infuriating.

Beyond just relegating it to a sub-plot, “X-men: The Last Stand” basically looked over all the major themes of the Phoenix Saga and basically threw them out like expired milk. The Phoenix Saga is a story built around love, humanity, untamed power, and sacrifice. “X-men: The Last Stand” had none of that. It only used the Phoenix as a way to make Wolverine get all whiny about a woman he barely knew. That’s it.

The handling of the Phoenix was so bad that longtime X-men producer, Simon Kinberg, admitted earlier this year that they screwed up. Think about that for a moment. A big-time Hollywood producer, someone with unlimited access to blowjobs and cocaine, admitted a mistake. He didn’t make an excuse, as so many people in power tend to do. He owned his mistake. For that, Mr. Kinberg earns my respect.

I also believe that Mr. Kinberg does not want to go down in history as the man who botched the most beloved X-men story of all time. That kind of reputation can permanently destroy his credibility among a vocal audience. Just ask Joel Shumacher how nasty it can get.

Moreover, Mr. Kinberg already has the resources he needs to make a Phoenix Saga work. He laid the groundwork with “X-men: Apocalypse” by having Sophie Turner shine more in one scene than Famke Jannsen ever could through three movies. He also has an immensely-talented actress in Ms. Turner to bring out the passion and drama that is so vital to the Phoenix Saga.

In other words, Mr. Kinberg and the powers that be at Fox have no excuses this time. They didn’t have any last time with “X-men: The Last Stand,” but the stakes were lower then. The market for superhero movies is going to be very crowded in 2018. Having already screwed up the Fantastic Four, they need to show they can learn from their mistakes.

Being the passionate comic book fan and X-men fan that I am, I want to help in whatever way I can. Given that I’m an aspiring erotica/romance writer with precisely zero influence on anything outside this blog, that’s not saying much. I don’t expect anyone from Fox to ever read this blog or know about me. The most I can do is just put the information out there so I can say I did what I could.

With that in mind, I’m not going to offer a wish list on what must occur in a “X-men: Dark Phoenix “movie. If you base the value of a movie or comic book on something specific, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Instead, it’s better to lay out what to avoid, thereby allowing some creative flexibility along the way. No matter how passionate a fan you are, it’s important to be somewhat flexible. Otherwise, you’ll just find yourself among fans whining about how Finn Jones is too white play Iron Fist.

So for X-men fans, comic fans, and superhero fans in general, here’s my list of tips on how to avoid botching the Phoenix Saga again. I write this hoping that the people at Fox understand that X-men fans are a forgiving bunch, but messing up the most iconic story in X-men history twice would be pushing it.


Tip #1: Embrace AND Unleash The Passion

This should be the most obvious, but it somehow slipped everyone’s mind in “X-men: The Last Stand” so it’s worth putting at the top of the list and belaboring to no end. At the core of the Phoenix Saga, which is also its greatest appeal, is the passion behind the story.

It is, in essence, a story about overwhelming power guided by overwhelming passions. Within the story, Jean Grey is possessed by a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force, which pushes her psychic powers to the limit, beyond, and into the depths of space. That’s not an exaggeration either. She actually goes into space with this power.

Now doing that in a movie would be tricky, but Jean doesn’t have to go into space to realize the theme here. She just has to get a chance to emote and lament about the sheer breadth of this power. Her passions are what drive it. They create the huge, emotional spectacle that helped make the Phoenix Saga so iconic.

Famke Jannsen never got a chance to do much in “X-men: The Last Stand.” In fact, all she really did was stand around, look deadpanned, and that’s about it. She never even flashed any Phoenix-like symbolism, which is pretty pathetic since Fox managed to squeeze it in with “X-men: Apocalypse.” A Phoenix Saga with flat emotions is like sandwich without bread. You just can’t have one without the other.


Tip #2: Make Any Sacrifice Feel Genuine

This is somewhat unique to the Phoenix Saga mythos in general. In addition to overwhelming passion and immense power, sacrifice is at the core of what makes a the Phoenix Saga so iconic among X-men fans. In the end, Jean Grey makes a heroic sacrifice for her friends, the world, and the man she loves. It’s one of the most emotional, dramatic moments in the history of comics.

Again, “X-men: The Last Stand” found a way to completely screw this up. In fact, saying they screwed up would be too polite because they didn’t just undermine this critical moment in X-men lore. They did the exact opposite.

Jean Grey does not make any sacrifice in “X-men: The Last Stand.” What she does is basically an act of pure cowardice. She doesn’t heroically sacrifice herself to save the ones she loves. She makes someone else kill her, specifically Wolverine. She doesn’t beg him. She makes him. There’s nothing heroic about that. Hell, that’s a dick move, even by Wolverine standards.

For any Phoenix Saga to work, there needs to be some sort of sacrifice along the way. That sacrifice also has to be genuine, dramatic, and heartfelt. That’s what makes it so endearing. Nobody ever felt any kind of endearment to a coward. Since the X-men are superheroes and all, there’s no room for that kind of cowardice.


Tip #3: Embrace And Expand The Cyclops/Jean Romance

I’ve talked about this romance on multiple occasions and for good reason. It is, by far, the most important, iconic romance in the history of X-men. The romance of Cyclops and Jean Grey goes all the way back to the earliest days of the X-men, as created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It’s a romance that has resulted marriage, death, resurrection, and multiple children. You won’t find many romances with this kind of depth.

Unfortunately, nobody who saw the original X-men movies ever would’ve suspected as such. Those movies gave the impression that the romance only existed to cock-block Wolverine and Jean Grey only existed to be a piece of ass for him to achieve. The love triangle is toxic enough in the comics, but the movies took it to a level so egregious that both the X-men fan and erotica/romance fan in me wants to vomit violently.

There’s no real depth between Wolverine and Jean Grey, especially in the movies. There is, however, a powerful and important dynamic between Cyclops and Jean Grey. Theirs is a uniquely balanced romance, one where they both stand together in ways that isn’t typical of superhero movies or romance movies in general. They’re both heroes. They share in one another’s struggles and burdens.

Most importantly, though, they complement each other. They inspire one another to be better. That’s what we saw, at least in a limited capacity, in “X-men: Apocalypse.” That movie didn’t just thrust them together and proclaim that they’re star-crossed lovers. They actually laid a foundation for a deeper connection. By the end of that movie, it was easy to see a romance between them blossoming.

In the comics, the Cyclops/Jean romance was central to the Phoenix Saga. Their romance was a catalyst for so much of the drama that to remove it is to remove a critical element of what makes the story work.

X-men: The Last Stand” tried to work around it by thrusting Wolverine into the role of Jean’s love interest. That failed miserably though because again, there was never a single goddamn reason for anyone to believe or accept that there was any meaningful chemistry with them.

It was the history and extent of Cyclops and Jean Grey’s romance that made the Phoenix Saga so meaningful in the comics. At one point in the story, they even talked about getting married. A deep, passionate romance is what helped make the Phoenix Saga so impactful on so many levels.

That kind of romance can’t be forced. “X-men: The Last Stand” tried and failed miserably. A Dark Phoenix movie cannot make that same mistake again. The foundation is already there thanks to “X-men: Apocalypse.” The Dark Phoenix movie just has to crank up the passion. Sophie Turner’s sex appeal will do the rest.


Tip #4: Make The Phoenix The Primary Plot

After what I said earlier about how “X-men: The Last Stand” treated the Phoenix Saga, this should be a no-brainer. Then again, the sheer stupidity of circumventing the Cyclops/Jean Grey relationship in the first three movies should’ve been a no-brainer too so I’m not going to assume too much here.

The Phoenix Saga is too dramatic, too iconic, and too emotional a story to relegate to a sub-plot. “X-men: The Last Stand” tried and failed so miserably that no one could really blame Jean Grey for wanting to die in the end. Fox and Mr. Kinberg cannot let that happen again. The X-men, Jean Grey, and the Phoenix Saga deserve better.

From the moment the opening credits begin to the moment the generic 90s grunge music plays at the end, Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force should be the central focus. There can certainly be plenty of sub-plots, as there always are in every superhero movie. However, the Phoenix Saga must take priority. If it doesn’t tie into that story in a meaningful way, then it should be tabled for another movie.

The Phoenix Saga is a big enough story to carry the whole movie. In the comics, it unfolded over the course of several years, diverting into plenty of sub-plots along the way. A movie doesn’t have that kind of flexibility, but it still has plenty of time to set up and execute the drama that makes the Phoenix Saga so endearing.

Movies are plenty capable of creating that level of drama. Movies like “Titanic” and “Terminator 2” are able to do it all within a cohesive narrative. More than anything else, the Phoenix Saga should feel complete by the end of the movie. Other sub-plots can linger for sequels, but the Phoenix Saga must get first dibs.


Tip #5: Introduce New Villains And Tie Them Into The Phoenix Story

This might actually be the easiest part of making X-men: Dark Phoenix awesome. Chances are that’s already part of the plan and not just because there’s no hint that Michael Fassbender wants to return to play Magneto again. Now I love Fassbender as much as the next straight X-men fan, but his role as Magneto has been done to death, going all the way back to the first X-men movie.

The X-men have a long and rich library of villains. Very few of those villains have had a chance to grow within the movies. Some, like Mojo, are woefully impractical. Others, such as a devious figure named Mr. Sinister, are ripe for development. Even Walter White himself, Bryan Cranston, has expressed an interest in playing Sinister. That alone should tell you everything you need to know about his potential.

On top of that, Mr. Sinister has close ties to Cyclops and Jean Grey. It really wouldn’t take much to involve him in the Phoenix Saga. While he did not participate in it directly in the comics, he did go onto influence a great deal of stories that expanded the Phoenix mythos in X-men. Putting him in the center of the conflict in a Dark Phoenix movie makes too much sense.

There are other lesser villains like the U-men and the Purifiers that could find their way into the mix. So there should be no concerns about not having enough villains. The key is tying these villains into the main Dark Phoenix story. If done well, especially with the aid of Bryan Cranston’s acting prowess, then the movie has everything it needs to succeed.


There’s a lot more to consider in making an X-men: Dark Phoenix movie. I’m just a passionate fan so I’m hardly qualified to evaluate every one of them. If I were, Fox probably would’ve hired me and underpaid me by now to make this movie work. Since they haven’t, I can only assume and hope there are much smarter, much more passionate people working tirelessly to make this movie great.

As a fan, I want to see this movie succeed. I want to see Fox and Mr. Kinberg make up for their mistakes in “X-men: The Last Stand.” It would be both an accomplishment and a service for which fans would be forever grateful. Grateful fans are more willing to give money to those who please them. That is, after all, Fox’s ultimate goal.

The incentives are in place. The story is there. The iconic characters are there. The passion is there. The love, heart, and emotions are there. It’s only a matter of bringing them together into a single, cohesive story that will thrill audiences, evoke tears of joy, and soak panties.

It can be done. I pray to whatever cosmic forces are out there that Fox can pull this off. As an X-men fan, a comic book fan, and a fan of iconic love stories, X-men: Dark Phoenix deserves to be that awesome.

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When Love (And Lust) Is Genuine

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Does she love me?

Does she love you?

Is our love real?

Is the sex good?

Is the sex really that good?

Is this love the real deal?

These are all questions I’m sure everyone has asked themselves at some point. If not, then chances are you’ll ask yourselves these questions at some point in the future. Sometimes you may not even ask them with a completely sober mind and I’m not just talking about shots of tequila.

Love, lust, and everything in between is a beautiful thing. It’s one of the most powerful experiences we can have as human beings. In fact, according to research from MIT, being in love can produce a high similar to that of cocaine. In another life, maybe Pablo Escobar could’ve been the ultimate love guru. I guess we’ll never know.

I know I say it a lot, but it’s worth saying again, especially for a topic like this. We are a very social species. The human race thrived, despite bodies that were easily crushed by hungry bears, because we could collaborate and cooperate. We worked together, shared resources, and made beautiful love that resulted in more humans. Now, we’re the most dominant species on the planet. Bears just cannot make that claim.

As beautiful as it is, sometimes the answers to those questions are tragic, if not downright heartbreaking. It does happen. Sometimes the love two people have isn’t real. Sometimes the lust they feel is fake. Sometimes the sex is only a minor step above having someone watch while you masturbate. The challenge is finding out how to answer these questions.

I bring up this topic because I recently got into an interesting discussion with some people on a comic book message board. Now in general, I try to avoid most of the discussions on message boards. I’ve found that over 95 percent of them involve fans whining about the current situation in their favorite comics and how they hate it so much, but not enough to stop talking about it.

Every now and then, though, there will be a more meaningful conversation. I really enjoy being part of that conversation because it brings out some interesting perspectives. A lot of those perspectives can apply to real life, even in comics that involve clones, time travel, and poop jokes. Yes, I’m referring about Deadpool.

Specifically, the conversation I had involved a discussion about how genuine the love and romantic chemistry is between two particular characters. In this case, one of those characters was Spider-Man, whose romantic history is almost as vast as Wolverine’s. While I do criticize Spider-Man for being an incompetent hero, the man is still pretty good when it comes to getting laid. For that, I do respect him.

However, like a lot of comic book characters and real people, his love life is subject to a lot of variations. There are times when his emotions are not entirely sincere. By that, I mean he’s with someone because they’re there. That’s it. Then, there are times when he really does love someone, enough to marry them and make a deal with a devil with them. Like I said, there’s a lot of range with Spider-Man.

Sometimes it’s hard to make sense of these situations. Within the discussion I had, there were all sorts of conflicting opinions about just how sincere Spider-Man was and how much potential the relationship actually had. For every one person in the discussion, there were at least five different opinions, including my own.

Comic book fans are notoriously stubborn for how their characters are portrayed, but when it comes to our love lives, the stakes are a bit higher. In the discussion, I noticed a few common themes that set genuine love apart from the kind of love that end with Spider-Man getting his ass kicked by the Green Goblin.

One of those elements is luck. I know that doesn’t sound very romantic, but it’s an unavoidable function of life. Sometimes you’re in the right situation at the right time to take advantage of something, be it love or a winning lotto ticket. You can’t always control it, but it happens.

With respect to genuine love, though, luck plays a very specific role. If a relationship relies on luck to work, then that relationship is basically a reverse lottery. Over time, the odds just aren’t in anyone’s favor. The Law of Averages is both a harsh mistress and an outright sadomasochist. Spider-Man finds that out on a regular basis with how badly his relationships turn out, often due to forces he can’t control.

In addition to luck, there’s also the chemistry aspect. This is much sexier and much more romantic than luck. There’s no question about that. It’s also one of the hardest component to really nail down.

We all understand what romantic and sexual chemistry is to some extent. If two people are drawn together and struggle to keep their clothes on around each other, that’s a sign of pretty potent chemistry. Like real chemistry, though, some mixtures are more potent than others. Some are downright volatile.

If the chemistry is restricted to lust, then that’ll make for some hot sex. However, it won’t make for much else. Now I’ve got nothing against hot sex. It’s a wonderful part of being human. It can just be shallow and crude though. It can be a key ingredient for sexual chemistry, but it can’t be the only ingredient.

Add love to the mix and that’s where the potency shows. Genuine love complements one another. Genuine love involves two people cooperating, sacrificing, and sharing on a level that you just don’t do with a total stranger. Genuine love is usually equal for the most part. It’s rarer than hot sex, but beautiful. It even shows up in an X-men comic every now and then.

Lastly, one key element in genuine love involves reasons and excuses. I know this isn’t very sexy either, but it’s a necessary practical element of love. It can be either the glue or the napalm that binds/destroys a relationship.

Specifically, it deals with the how and why two people are involved in the first place. If they’re in an arranged marriage, which still happens a lot these days, then that’s a fairly unambiguous reason. If they’re together because they just don’t want to be alone, then that’s not much of a reason. That’s more of an excuse.

Sometimes Spider-Man is just with someone because they’re part of his life. They happen to cross paths with him both in and out of the mask. That’s often the case with characters like the Black Cat, whose about as genuine as a very hungry, very horny wolf. It rarely makes for a very genuine connection.

Sometimes two people start out as friends and the connection deepens. This often happens in a lot of teen movies and sitcoms, but it happens in real life too so it’s not entirely flawed like most movie tropes. That can sometimes be a solid foundation for genuine love.

There are also cases where two people are together purely for pragmatic reasons. A beautiful woman is with a man because he’s rich. A man is with a beautiful woman because she’s sexy. Sometimes people are just friends with benefits. That does happen and can work, despite what an Ashton Kutcher movie may claim.

That doesn’t mean pragmatism is necessarily genuine though. If two people are together because not being together would be too much work or too inconvenient, that’s not genuine. That’s just plain lazy. If two people are together because one has a great deal of leverage over the other, then that’s not genuine either. That’s exploitation.

Overall, there are a lot of components that go into a genuine romance and, without spoiling too much of the discussion I had, Spider-Man sucks at it. Characters like Superman, Wonder Woman, and even Starfire, to some extent, have a much better track record.

In the real world and throughout history, you’ll find plenty of examples of genuine love. They don’t always make for great stories or good erotica/romance, but that doesn’t make them any less genuine. In the end, genuine love combined with genuine lust makes for the best and sexiest connections. Not everyone can find it, but that’s what makes it so precious.

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