Tag Archives: Spider-Man

Lessons In Forgiveness: Spider-Man 3 vs. Avatar: The Last Airbender

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I’ve been working on for a while and I’m very excited about this one. Once again, I get to make a video where I talk about superhero movies. Sam Rami’s Spider-Man trilogy really was a game-changer for the genre and I’ll be forever grateful for that. However, this time I also get to talk about one of the best and most beloved animated shows in history, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

I recently rediscovered this show on Netflix and I’ve been eager to talk about it. This video is my first deep dive into the larger concepts behind this amazing show, as well as those that played out in the Raimi trilogy. Specifically, this video focuses on forgiveness and how it can give a story dramatic weight.

I hope this video gets a good response because I had a lot of fun making it. I hope you enjoy it too.

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Filed under Jack's World, Marvel, philosophy, Spider-Man, superhero comics, superhero movies, YouTube

Why Superhero Secret Identities Are More Relevant Than Ever

Superman

You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.

It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.

From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.

In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.

I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to explore serious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.

This topic became especially relevant for Superman fans because back in late 2019, the release of “Superman #18” officially revealed Superman’s identity as Clark Kent. Now, it wasn’t not the first time Superman’s identity has been exposed, but this time it wasn’t a gimmick. Now, Superman had to learn how to be Superman without a secret identity.

Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.

While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.

What happened to Spider-Man at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was even more jarring. While his secret identity has been revealed many times in the comics, it’s almost always retconned. Like Batman and Superman, he has to have a secret identity. He has to have a civilian life that’s separate from his superhero life.

There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?

That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.

Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.

Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.

The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.

It’s part of why the comments section of any website or social media feed is full of deplorable rhetoric that highlights the worst in people. Ordinary people can use the anonymity of the internet to say thing they would never say to another human being face-to-face. At the same time, celebrities and people of influence have the opposite problem.

In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.

That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.

That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?

For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.

In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.

To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.

For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.

The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.

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Filed under Current Events, Marvel, media issues, outrage culture, political correctness, politics, psychology, Spider-Man, superhero comics, superhero movies

New Comic Book Day July 14, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Times are changing. The world is a scary, chaotic place. Just keeping your sanity, as well as your sense of humanity, has never been more challenging. I honestly don’t remember the world being this messed up ten years ago. Maybe I’m just getting older, but maintaining a balanced perspective just keeps getting harder.

Thankfully, my love of comics has continued to help me every step of the way. We all have something or someone that helps keep us anchored. Without it, we would be so overwhelmed that we couldn’t leave our homes without a baseball bat and a helmet. For me, comics is a big part of that anchor. It reminds me that there’s still a place for simple, straightforward awesome in this world.

Whether it involves superheroes, real people, or aliens with misshapen heads, comics have always been my refuge, as well as my sanctuary. When watching a news feed becomes too distressing, I pick up my favorite comics and leave the ugliness of the world aside, if only briefly. It’s therapeutic, as well as relaxing.

Wednesdays make spending time in this refuge all the more rewarding. A new stack of comics to start my day is like a massage for my soul. The older I get, the more I’ve come to appreciate that feeling. I encourage others to share it with me. The world isn’t getting any less chaotic. Let’s not let that stop us from enjoying something awesome.

To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. Hopefully, they leave your soul feeling as refreshed and invigorated as mine. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Action Comics 2021 Annual #1

Batman: The Detective #4

Champions #8

Detective Comics #1039

Excalibur #22

Extreme Carnage: Scream #1

The Flash 2021 Annual #1

Infinite Frontier #2

The Invincible Red Sonja #3

Iron Man #10

The Joker #5

Justice League: Last Ride #3

Mighty Morphin #9

Sinister War #1

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #4

Spider-Woman #13

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #12

Thor #15

Way Of X #4

Wonder Woman #775

X-Corp #3


My Pick Of The Week
Sinister War #1

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Thought Experiment: What Makes An Effective Superhero?

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s another thought experiment about superheroes and what makes them effective. It was an extension of sorts of an article I wrote years ago on how to be an effective superhero. However, this video is a bit more open ended in that it takes a big picture approach to heroics. To all that check it out, I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's World, superhero comics, superhero movies, Thought Experiment, YouTube

New Comic Book Day April 7, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

There are people who think I spend too much money on comics. Those same people will then get defensive when I remind them of how much money they spend on tobacco, shoes, clothes, jewelry, overpriced coffee, and hair care products. I usually try to explain very slowly that comics are relatively cheap, easy to enjoy, and can be consumed with alcohol. I don’t always change someone’s mind, but I think I get my point across.

Do I spend more on comics every week than most people? Yes, I don’t deny that.

Do I feel like that money is well-spent? Yes, I feel I get a great deal of value out of the comics I buy.

As a hobby, I think the cost of a stack of comics every week is very reasonable. After a while, you get a feel for the release schedule and can budget your money accordingly. I made it through college while keeping up with my favorite comics and my budget was a lot tighter back then.

Let’s face it. There are far worse things someone can spend their money on these days. Between crack, meth, and fantasy sports apps, comics aren’t nearly as damaging. They’re simple, cheap fun. Thanks to digital comic apps like Comixology, you can basically enjoy them anywhere with a smartphone and a good Wi-Fi connection. It’s a beautiful thing and it gives me something to look forward to every week.

Now is as good a time as any to get into comics. The internet has made it easier than ever and I encourage anyone with a passing curiosity to try it out. If you’re looking to get started this week, here is my pull list and pick. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #63

Avengers #44

Avengers Mech Strike #3

Batman #107

Crime Syndicate #2

Excalibur #20

God of War: Fallen God #2

Immortal Hulk #45

King In Black #5

Marauders #19

Non-Stop Spider-Man #2

Rick and Morty: Worlds Apart #3

Squadron Supreme: Marvel Tales #1

Star Wars: The High Republic #4

Venom #34


My Pick Of The Week
King In Black #5

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New Comic Book Day March 24, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

It’s another beautiful day for comics and the world is inherently better because of the awesome they bring. That’s how I feel when I wake up every Wednesday morning. Even when times are tough, waking up on Wednesdays knowing there’s a glut of digital comics waiting for me on my iPad is a wonderful feeling. It makes waking up at 4:00 a.m. feel like a basic reflex.

It’s a reflex that wouldn’t be possible without Comixology. I’m old enough to remember the days when New Comic Book Day was a lot more stressful because you didn’t know if your books would arrive on time in the mail. Most of the time, it was hit or miss. In the days before Twitter spoilers and Reddit, it made waiting to read your favorite comics that much more agonizing.

I never want to go back to those days.

Those who live near a comic shop may be able to enjoy the luxury of just walking to their favorite store every Wednesday to see what’s new, but most of us have to deal with less favorable circumstances. Don’t get me wrong. I still love going to comic shops to pick up actual, tangible books for my collection. There will always be a place for that. I’ve just come to love waking up early and enjoying new comics through Comixology.

The internet, tablets, and Comixology have genuinely made it easier than ever to get into this world. Even if you only know these characters through movies and cartoons, you need only an internet connection and a couple extra bucks to fully immerse yourself in this world. To that end, here’s my pull list and pick of the week. Hopefully, it gets you started. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1029

Amazing Spider-Man #62

Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #6

Batman/Superman #16

Cable #9

Detective Comics #1034

Guardians Of The Galaxy #12

Harley Quinn #1

Power Rangers #5

Red Sonja #25

Savage Avengers #19

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #8


My Pick Of The Week
Amazing Spider-Man #62

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New Comic Book Day March 17, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Top of the morning to ye, my fellow comic book fans. Today is a double holiday, at least for us. For most, it’s St. Patrick’s Day. That’s all well and good. It’s not a major holiday and I doubt many people will get off work for it, especially if they’re teleworking, but it’s an excuse to hang out with friends and get drunk. That’s all you need for a good holiday.

Throw a batch of new comics into the mix and suddenly, any day is better by default, regardless of whether it’s a holiday. I’m not one to make a big deal of St. Patrick’s Day. Most of the time, I celebrate by just hitting up a sports bar, drinking some cold beer, and watching basketball. While last year was a total bust for obvious reasons, I’m ready to make up for it this year.

As it just so happens, St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Wednesday this year. Sometimes, things just work out beautifully.

There may not be any St. Patrick’s Day specials, but reading some awesome comics will put you in a festive mood, regardless of the holiday. I’ve always found reading comics with characters I could see myself sharing a beer with works beautifully.

Characters like Wolverine, Lobo, and Red Sonja come to mind. Maybe you’d prefer drinking with other characters. That’s fine. Comics offer no shortage of drinking buddies. Today might be the best possible day to figure out which characters you’d want to get drunk with at a bar in the middle of the day. In that spirit, here’s my pull list and pick for the week. If you can, try to enjoy them with a cold glass of beer. You’ll do plenty to honor the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Black Knight: Curse Of The Ebony Blade #1

Captain America Anniversary Tribute #1

Captain Marvel #27

Catwoman #29

Champions #5

Iron Man #7

Justice League #29

King In Black: Spider-Man #1

S.W.O.R.D. #4

Spider-Woman #10

Superman Red & Blue #1

Thor #13

X-Force #18


My Pick Of The Week
Champions #5

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Jack’s Comic Gems: Spider-Gwen Volume 0: Most Wanted?

The following is a video for my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s another entry into my Jack’s Comic Gem series. This time, I traverse the Spider-Verse to highlight a gem from a character whose rise to fame has been like no other. In addition to stealing the show from “Into The Spider-Verse,” Spider-Gwen has done plenty to make herself one of the most popular characters Marvel has created in the past five years. It may have started with a tie-in, but “Spider-Gwen Volume 0: Most Wanted” helped start her amazing journey. This video shows why that journey is worth following. Enjoy!

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Filed under Jack's Comic Gems, Jack's World, Marvel, Spider-Man, superhero comics, YouTube

New Comic Book Day February 10, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

There’s just a few more days until Valentine’s Day. Being a lover of romance and a writer of erotica romance novels, I certainly appreciate a holiday centered around love. At the same time, I have mixed feelings because I’m currently single and have been for quite some time.

It can get lonely on Valentine’s Day. However, even if I am alone, I can still appreciate love and my love of comics certainly help with that. Beyond my fondness for superhero romances, my love of comics helps remind me why love is a feeling worth pursuing.

It’s a beautiful thing. If you’ve found love with someone, then you understand its power. Even if you haven’t, the stories in comics help depict why it’s so powerful for so many characters. Love is a big part of what drives famous heroes like Superman, Spider-Man, and even characters like the Punisher.

It even drives villains. Let’s not forget that in the comics, Thanos was in love with the physical manifestation of death. It’s creepy, but it still counts as love.

I may have to spend another Valentine’s Day alone this year. That’s always disappointing. However, thanks to my love of comics, I never feel too lonely. I hope others can enjoy that same feeling. To assist, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #59

Daredevil #27

DC Love Is A Battlefield #1

Eternals #2

Excalibur #18

Fantastic Four #29

Future State: Justice League #2

Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #2

Mighty Morphin #4

Morbius: Bond Of Blood #1

S.W.O.R.D. #3

Star Wars: Darth Vader #10

Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #3

X-Force #17


My Pick Of The Week
Morbius: Bond of Blood #1

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New Comic Book Day December 23, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I know Christmas is still two days away, but when it’s New Comic Book Day, the feeling is pretty much the same. I wake up early in the morning, excited as a kid in a candy store, and open my iPad to see a stack of new digital comics waiting for me. The joy I feel is not that different from the joy I feel on Christmas morning.

It’s just one of the many benefits to being a lover of comics. Every week, Wednesday is basically a holiday. New books come out. New joy is felt and shared. Thanks to digital comics like Comixology, they’re already there for you the second you wake up and you don’t even have to wear an ugly sweater.

What’s not to love? I enjoy this day knowing full well that it’s likely a significant chunk of my presents on Christmas will include comics. My family knows me all too well. They know that they can spend twenty bucks on a graphic novel and I’ll be as happy as kid who just got his first Nintendo system.

It’s a simple joy that comes every week. On weeks like this, just a few days before Christmas, that joy only compounds. Between this, Christmas, and an abundance of eggnog, my holiday spirit has never been stronger. Here’s my pull list and pick for this glorious holiday week.

To all my fellow comic fans and even those with a mere passing interest, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Let New Comic Book Day make it that much more merry.


My Pull List

Action #1028

Amazing Spider-Man #54

Batman Beyond #50

Batman: White Knight: Harley Quinn #3

Batman/Superman #15

Detective Comics #1033

Dr. Doom #10

Excalibur #16

King In Black #2

Rick and Morty: Ever After #3

Spider-Woman #7

Wonder Woman #769


My Pick Of The Week
King In Black #2

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