Tag Archive | Marvel

Family vac[cin]ations, the cat vs. the Horrible Strangers, reactions to Black Widow, Loki, Check Please!, Leverage: Redemption

Stuff about stuff that’s been up.

Family vac[cin]ations

My parents and brother came to town, making it the first time we’ve all been in one place for almost 2 years. (Parents have been vaccinated for a while, and they visited earlier in 2021. Brother is (a) young, (b) low-risk, and (c) not in a customer-facing position, so he only skated over the “2 weeks since second dose” theshhold just in time to get here.)

We visited a bunch of the local relatives. On one side, the grandparents who flatly refused to entertain unvaccinated visitors (so everyone’s had their shots). On the other, the grandparents who got their own shots as soon as possible, but were having unmasked indoor visits with my virulently antivaxxer aunt and her kids right up until they — the grandparents — tested positive.

Grandfather, who’d only had his first shot, got pretty sick and was hospitalized, but pulled through. Grandmother, who’d had both shots, barely got the sniffles, wouldn’t even have thought of getting tested if she didn’t live in the same house as a seriously-ill person. Aunt has only doubled down on how these fraudulent vaccines don’t even do anything, you guys.

I, uh, timed my part of the visit to not encounter the antivaxxer aunt.

Banging and drilling

A few relatives came over to my apartment to do some handiwork projects. Which meant the Fluff had his space invaded by Horrible Strangers, who talked and hammered and drilled and vacuumed and generally made Horrible Noises.

This cat was not a happy camper.

Normally he hides under the daybed, crouched on top of the boxes I keep under there. This time, he managed to shove one of the boxes away from the wall, so he could squeeze himself in behind it. Note, these are the boxes with the Leif & Thorn books in them — they’re heavy.

It took a solid 2 hours after the Horrible Strangers left before the fluff poked his nose out of his hiding spot. And then he went back under. It was a few more hours, and a few more exploratory peeks, before he was walking around the place like normal again.

Poor guy. He’s had such a nice year, and now this.

Black Widow (no specific spoilers)

Family had a bunch of Potential Outings planned, but the only one we actually did was seeing Black Widow on the big screen.

The building had small groups of other patrons; our theater was flat-out empty except for us. (So if you tentatively want to catch a movie but are worried about large groups in enclosed spaces…give it a shot.)

The movie was good! Mostly takes place during the period when Natasha was on the run after Civil War, gives her a solo adventure that fleshes out her backstory — both parts we knew about, and parts that are new. Funny, heartwarming when it wanted to be, makes good use of that Disney “sure, blow up all the cars you want” money.

I’m usually more into the magic and sci-fi sides of the MCU, and this was a Cap-style action-spy-thriller, no super-science beyond what you can use for “excuses to do cooler stunts.” So it wasn’t an instant favorite the way Captain Marvel was.

But it was good at what it wanted to be. It wasn’t a perfunctory “I want to support the general idea of more female superheroes getting their own solo movies” thing. It was fun, and I liked it. Marvel did good.

Speaking of Marvel:

Loki (also no specific spoilers)

The whole 6-episode series is out now, and I…

…didn’t…like it?

Which is wild, because it has all the ingredients for a thing I should like. Magic! Sci-fi! Time travel nonsense! Alternate versions of the same character having to deal with each other! Significant chunks of action on alien planets! Major queer and/or female characters! Shapeshifters! Quippy banter! Sassy, petty villain getting dragged kicking and screaming into a redemption arc!

The first episode sure felt like it was going to deliver on all those things in a way I enjoyed. And then every subsequent cliffhanger was like “okay…there were a couple specific scenes that are fun, but…is this going anywhere? This big moment should’ve been good, but why didn’t it have buildup? That dramatic setup we did get, why hasn’t it had any payoff? This weird bit, I can think of some in-universe reasons why it was weird, so is it setting up one of those, or is it just sloppy writing?”

And the answer was always “it’s just sloppy writing.”

…to be fair, I think sometimes the answer was COVID. There were scenes where you could see “none of the actors except the 2 leads are getting within 6 feet of each other, and it’s really restricting what the narrative can do.”

But that doesn’t explain all of it.

Feels like it should’ve been a full-length season. Make it a procedural, have Loki and company facing a Time Shenanigans case-of-the-week, and have the characters/relationships develop slowly over each case. Then at the end we get a multi-episode arc where the plot is all interconnected, the developments all come to a head, the status quo gets flipped over.

Instead we got pieces of that arc without any connective tissue. You get prickly suspicious characters skipping from “tense, mistrustful opponents” to “tentative admissions of Friendship” when they’ve only known each other for, what, a few days? With no tangible reason for their feelings to change. It’s just “this is the part of the story where that happens, so it’s happened.”

Ugh. It could’ve been so good! And it just…wasn’t.

…and speaking of “things I just finished that didn’t have connective tissue”:

Check, Please!

The famous, award-winning, funding-record-making, m/m webcomic? That I didn’t read during the whole length of its run. Finally picked up the print volumes when I saw them at the library, and that’s how I got through the whole thing.

It was really thin. Cute and fluffy and disjointed. Kept setting up potential conflicts, but then skimming right over them.

I flipped back through some fail_fandomanon threads from when the updates were being released live, and it was a recurring theme for new readers to go “wait, was this just…resolved offscreen? Or did I accidentally skip a page?” (I was reading a physical book and would occasionally wonder if it skipped a page. It never did.)

…unsurprisingly, the author was in Hockey RPF fandom, and a lot of fans were bringing their interests from Hockey RPF fandom. So you would have character show up in the background, and readers would be like “aha, I can tell this is an expy of Real Player X, I enjoy him because I’m transferring my fannish feelings about Real Player X onto him.” Then they’d still be invested even if he only appeared 2-3 times and never did anything significant in-universe.

Reading it over the course of a couple afternoons — and with zero personal background in who these IRL hockey players are — was a breezy experience.

But, wow, I totally get why it was so intense and frustrating for so many people reading it in realtime. It would’ve been a constant cycle of “sets you up for something interesting, keeps you on the hook for a week or a month or several months for the next update, dashes your hopes when the setup gets deflated or sidestepped or offscreen-resolved, but hey, now there’s setup for another something interesting, maybe if I just wait for the next update in a week or a month or–“

It did work well enough for enough readers to bring the author buckets of money, though. And she delivered a complete series by the end — everyone who backed a Kickstarter to get a book, got a book — which is more than you can say for a lot of webcomickers who’ve taken people’s money. As many faults as I could pick apart in the writing: you go rake in that cash, girl.

Okay, to end this on a brighter note:

Leverage: Redemption

Sequel to the original TV series. Not a reboot, a retcon, or a reimagining — just “it’s been a decade in-universe, let’s pick back up with these characters and see how they’re doing now.”

And, wow. It’s the rare follow-up that’s so well-done, and so worth it.

The first 8 episodes are streaming free (at least in the US). The cases-of-the-week have the same “yeah, we didn’t fix the system, but we gave a complicated and satisfying comeuppance to this one exploitative scumbag” vibe of Leverage Classic. There are bits that make it clear it’s set in the 2020s — a Big Pharma creep who took CARES Act money, a reference to a politician who sounds like an AOC expy, that kind of thing — but it’s not “chasing the trending headline” in a way that’ll make it feel dated and irrelevant too fast.

They killed off Nate (his actor has sexual-assault accusations, makes sense not to employ the guy), and the other characters miss him in a way that’s present without taking over the show. Brought Sophie/Parker/Eliot back together. I assume Hardison’s actor has a job with a better-paying show, because he guest-starred briefly to establish that he’s still around, then brought in his also-genius-hacker kid-sister replacement on the team.

They also picked up a not-quite-Nate-replacement — he’s a newbie but learning the ropes fast, and he can fill the role any time they need a clean-cut business-savvy white guy.

After Elliot’s actor did a stint on the crew in The Librarians, it’s delightful to me that Flynn’s actor is the new guy on the Leverage crew. Please let the creators find an excuse to cameo Eve, Exekiel, and Cassandra in the next half of the series. That would be crossover catnip.

The family MCU watch-through is up to Infinity War

…it’s not a very organized watch-through, we’re not really going in order, except to the degree of “if Movie X contains spoilers for Movie Y, watch Movie Y first.”

As in, we started with Doctor Strange, since (a) it works just fine as a standalone and (b) it was one of the Top MCU Favorites among family members who actually have favorites. But my other top pick was Captain Marvel, so we’ve had to save that for after IW, and we had to save IW for after “everyone in the family has seen every preceding movie at least once.”

Had the same criteria for Age of Ultron, and then for Civil War (which, okay, that wasn’t hard, just had to watch Ant-Man in between).

Around that point, I had enough general MCU feelings to put together a whole “well, if I was in charge of the Phases” movie lineup. Like so:

Phase 2: same as IRL, but end it with Avengers: AoU

Phase 3:

  • Black Widow solo movie fits here
  • Wanda & Vision badly deserve a “how they first fell in love” adventure
  • Ant-Man (same as IRL)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 (same as IRL)
  • optional: pop Doctor Strange back here, purely for phase-length balance
  • ends with Avengers: Civil War (same as IRL, except we admit it’s an Avengers movie)

Phase 4:

  • GOTG vol 3, w/the Adam plot they cut from v2, plus “Gamora & Nebula get a whole movie of Awkward Sister Bonding”
  • everything left in IRL Phase 3
  • except that Avengers: Endgame is, uh, the End

Now Phases 1-4 = the Infinity Saga, and post-EG content (so far, WandaVision & Spider-Man: FFH) = the start of Phase 5.

And, well. Having rewatched through most of IRL Phase 3, I stand by all of this.

Especially the Wanda-and-Vision part. I remember the first time I watched IW, being so unmoved by their romance. (I was sad when Vision died, because it’s always sad when a likeable character dies — but not, you know, extra-sad on Wanda’s behalf.)  They only got, what, 2 scenes together? maybe 3? across all the preceding movies, and presumably a bunch of development happened since then, but it was all offscreen. IW just opens with “hey, update, they are In Love now” and, welp, you gotta roll with it.

Fast-forward to present day, I’m 8 episodes deep into WandaVision, these two have gotten so much screentime being visibly, palpably In Love, go back to rewatch IW and — that death scene had me in tears.

(These actors are so good. They absolutely sell the dynamic and the weight of feeling between these characters, in a way that resonates with later on-screen developments which at this point they don’t even know about, the scripts aren’t even a twinkle in Disney’s eye yet.)

Anyway, in conclusion, we were absolutely cheated out of a Wanda-and-Vision “adorable falling-in-love rom-com where the gimmick is that they’re superheroes” movie. And if Marvel ever considers doing a flashback to make one, the way they’re (finally) doing with Black Widow, I would be there with bells on.

Some pick-me-ups on this, the day of my cat’s adoptionversary

Marshmallow Fluff on April 6, 2019:

Hiding fluff, 2019

And on April 6, 2020:

Relaxed fluff, 2020

From “hiding in panic under the furniture” to “stretching his paws and having a nap on my leg.” At least one (1) thing has gotten better in the world since last year.

Fancomic of Spider-Man’s social-distancing, grocery-delivering adventures in quarantined NYC.

From the creator of “Cabin Pressure” comes “Cabin Fever”, a series of short videos by Arthur Shappey documenting his time in self-isolation. Now at 8 episodes, still going strong.

And if you want some completely-unrelated low-key fluff, have a playlist of my favorite adorable animal videos. (Knew I bookmarked those for a reason…)

Monday works roundup, 1/6 (Marvel, Pokemon, Mario, and more)

But I’m A Cat Person
Happy Timothy (sketch | Timothy | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
The Rose Gardener Bride (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)
Sparring and flexing (sketch | Pascentia, Lulen | worksafe)

Lady of the Shard
In a Lifetime (fic | Elder, Acolyte/Goddess, temple staff | T)

Mario
Mariocest (sketch | Mario/Luigi | worksafe)

Marvel
Captain Spider (art | Peter/Carol | worksafe)

Pokemon
Silver Fox, I Choose You (sketch | Raihan/Kabu | worksafe)

General/Miscellaneous
Hand and face sketches (life drawing, worksafe)
Eulalia (reward chibi, worksafe)
Allistairs (reward chibis, worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Walker discovers the difference between winning a battle and winning the war.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
Kale and his therapist work out a plan for his Traumatic Backstory Drop.

Weekly roundup, 12/10 (Marvel, Kill 6 Billion Demons, Steven Universe, Super Drags, and more)

But I’m A Cat Person
Visions of Sugarplums (art | Sparrow | worksafe)
Christmas continuity (sketch | Sparrow, artist | worksafe)
Snow Angel Showoff (wallpaper | Patrick, Poe, Reseda | worksafe)

Leif & Thorn
Priceless (art | Hedge/Grassie | worksafe)
Leif and Thorn Banner (art | Leif/Thorn | worksafe)
Larch and Family (art | Larch, parents, siblings | worksafe)
Friends don’t let friends watch bad TV alone (sketch | Rowan, Violet | worksafe)
Design by Committee (art | Kiki, Sandy, Atarangi, Kallie | worksafe)

Marvel
Winter Falcon (sketch | Sam/Bucky | worksafe)
Captain Valkyrie (sketch | Carol/Valkyrie | worksafe)

Kill 6 Billion Demons/Steven Universe
A Giant Demon (art | Allicio, Steven | worksafe)

Super Drags
Saving The World Is Such A… (art | Scarlet, Lemon, Safira | worksafe)

This Week in But I’m A Cat Person:
Our heroes try to convince Walker to let them modify her Being, and maybe reveal a little too much along the way.

This Week in Leif & Thorn:
A seasonal flashback storyline! It’s the middle of winter, and young Leif just got his first placement as an indentured servant….