OK, so if you've been reading Young Avengers at all, then you know that they've done a nice job (so far) of including two sweet gay boys among the ranks, with a minimum of fanfare. (But probably, somewhere, a fair amount of fan outrage. 'Cuz the gays are bad, right?) I like that they built up to the revelation slowly, and then didn't even "reveal" in a big, flash-balloon sort of way as much as they just made it come up in conversation. I like that Wiccan (the junior Thor character, who turned out to be a teenage warlock) and Hulkling (the junior Hulk, who turned out to be a shape-shifter) are dating and pretty well-adjusted about the whole thing, too. In fact, the amusing twist is that they're more worried about telling their folks that they're superheroes, and their attempt to come clean results in an amusing show of PFLAG-iness from Wiccan's parents:
In the Marvel universe, after all, parents are probably relieved to have gay kids instead of mutant kids. Let's hope neither kid turns out to be a mutant, or else they're bound to be sent off to those boobs at the Xavier Institute.
The series hasn't gotten around to origin stories for either of the pair, but I have a theory about Hulkling, at least...
Without fail, the change of seasons brings on a nasty cold for me. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always following a change in the weather. This time around it came a little later than usual, but I think I was able to hold it off through sheer force of will. Too much to worry about already, too much to do, too many hassles to make time for a cold. I made the tactical mistake, though, of pausing for a moment last week to catch my breath, which pretty much meant I was bound to succumb.
And, also in boringly predictable fashion, my cold started with a series of a half-dozen or so sneezes that come out of nowhere. By the time I’ve blown my nose after the last sneeze, the works have all gummed up, my head feels foggy, and all my energy is gone. From there, it's just an endless cycle of naps and decongestants until I get back on my feet.
Mmmmmmm, nap, that'd be just the thing right now...
I count my blessings, certainly. I'll certainly take occasional colds over the dizzying array of mystery ailments that might threaten me if my immune system weren't in such good shape after years of careful monitoring and medication. It's always been a dark irony that I was much more of a delicate flower my whole life before I became positive. Strep throat, the ailment that used to hit me about as often as colds do now, hasn't troubled me in ages, for instance. Maybe the big difference is that I pay more attention now that the potential troubles are so much more serious. I’m far less likely to ignore the little things than when I would blithely assume whatever bug I had would soon pass. Sure it sucks to live with the threat of my system adapting to my drugs and starting to go haywire, and it certainly sucks to be dependent on regular medication to keep me on an even keel, but I guess that’s just my cross to bear.
Yes, I think a nap would be a very fine thing right about now. Pardon me, won't you?
The return of Top Ten stories is one of the most delightful things to happen during the last few months. I was hypnotized with glee the first time I dove into the adventures of Neopolis and its colorful denizens, and the last few months have rewarded my patience with two new stories: Top 10: Beyond the Farthest Precinct (pretty great, although the art isn't up to the caliber of the original stories) and — sigh — the hardback graphic novel Top 10: The Forty-Niners, the brilliant story of the early days of Neopolis after World War II. It's got Nazis, clunky robots, vampires, comic-strip characters galore, time travel, and...
...and the awfully sweet love story between Wulf, the daring and hunky German air ace, and sixteen-year-old Jet Lad, the pilot prodigy would would grow up to run the Top Ten precinct. When one of the earlier Top Ten stories ended with a very sweet prologue in which Captain Traynor (Jet Man) goes home to Wulf, I was pleasantly surprised about this little detail of the Captain's life. It had a nice connection to the many other elements of the story that dealt with people learning to handle diversity in a crazy world. It was all about whether or not people (or robots, or talking dogs, or whatever) cared about one another, not whether or not the the situations were "normal." Because, of course, what's normal, really, when we're all so different?
The Forty-Niners takes up their story and goes back to when they met, when Traynor was a precocious kid taking his first real steps into adulthood. The story acknowledges the somewhat scandalous age difference between Traynor and Wulf, mostly with periodic references to child-endangerment laws written to crack down on heroes with sidekicks (a nod to the panic that came in the wake of Seduction of the Innocent) that assumed there was always some psychosexual fucked-up-ness in the sidekick dynamic. (As if. Sidekicks kick ass.) Wulf is portrayed, though, as anything but a predatory chickenhawk, and Jet Lad eventually comes to him willingly, and after a fair amount of grappling with his own feelings on the subject (and the requisite attempt to prove to himself he's really straight). It cuts through the pedophilia panic in a tender way and actually makes their feelings for one another part of Traynor's journey to maturity.
A solid gay relationship in this case doesn't fit the whole model of "See, we're just like the rest of you so show us some respect," but instead it shows how everyone has to find his own path in life, and then have the courage to go down that path. that’s awesome.
Also, there are robots and Nazis and vampires and great writing and gorgeous art. Swoon!
Yes, like Donna Troy, Jean Grey, Elektra, and countless others, your faithful and stalwart Trusty Sidekicks have risen from the grave to entertain you once more. (And none of you bitches even asked if we were OK all this time!) In the world of comics, as you know, death is nothing more than a setback, a minor plot contrivance. In our case, we were done in by our hosting service, who unleashed a catastrophic database upgrade while we had our backs turned. Luckily, though, we are not only adventurers and arbiters of style, but we're also pretty nerdy (very Kitty Pryde or Hank McCoy, really, except most of us are probably a lot sluttier than either of them), so we're back and ready to rock!
More likely, though, our resurrection will be more like Buffy's: it's gonna be a little bumpy. Not only do I have to finish building all the irritating little bits and pieces that make everything work properly, but I suspect we'll all need a little time to find our focus and motivation after the long, cold, sleep. But you know what that means, right? Yes! Musical episode coming soon!
I kid. I wouldn't wish that on any of you. Maybe we'll do a mix tape or something instead.
By the way, those awesome Wonder Girl shots are from this month's Solo, featuring Mike Allred. Every single one of you have to go out and buy it right now because it's my new favorite comic ever. At least this week it is.)
For my own benefit as well as for the lurid curiosity of anyone who still reads this, I like to document how I look as I get older, just so there's a record of the march of time. So here's Sparky at the ripe old age of 35:
Also, a number of people have reminded me that this site serves a valuable need for a heart monitor, so note that I am alive and well, and occasionally neither working nor stressing out. Phone and e-mails responses are as sporadic as ever, but hopefully by now you've all learned to love me despite that chronic problem.
One of the things I really like about the Cracker Factory is the privacy. It's got thick concrete floors and brick walls (mostly), so I don't hear my neighbors (much — although the guy upstairs using the power saw at midnight recently is a notable exception). I have big windows, but they don't face anything except some abandoned buildings across the street (one under renovation, in case anyone wants to be my neighbor eventually), so no one can really see inside and play Peeping Tom.
Except for the guys who showed up on scaffolding outside my big, curtainless windows this morning. I guess they're sealing the exterior brick, judging by the fumes and the paint rollers. that’s awfully nice to see (the Swanktuary had many charms, but the landlord's attention to the health of the building itself was not one of them), but it's very, very unnerving to turn around and see two guys suddenly appear outside my second-story windows. My desk faces away from the window, so it's a creepy feeling to have them watching my back while they putter around. Granted, it makes me focus on my work, like having the boss stand behind you urging you to be productive, but still...
Of course, those guys are my new best friends, and not just because they saw me in my underwear this morning. (Are you jealous?) No, just as I started thinking about this entry they tapped on the window to offer to fix my heater, with which they noticed me struggling this morning. So now I have heat, waterproof exterior walls, and two new friends who speak Russian and look like the Super Mario Brothers. Awesomeness! (No sarcasm there, by the way — it's awesomeness!)