things i’ve learned from ‘the mayor of casterbridge’ by thomas hardy

as always, spoilers for really old books

  • if your husband tries to sell you at the county fair, you don’t have to go with whomever buys you. not even if he paid five whole shillings! not even if he paid SIX. especially not if everyone else at the fair isn’t taking him seriously because he’s drunk as all get-out and also an asshole
  • if your husband sells you at the county fair and you DO go with the person that buys you, maybe you should ask around about the legalities of such person-selling before 18 years have passed
  • maybe don’t name your daughter after your previous daughter that died. it’s a little creepy and leads to confusion about who is the father of what baby
  • don’t assume you can marry someone else just because you haven’t seen your wife in almost twenty years, therefore she must be dead. that is not how divorce works. i’ve never been in the room with the Pope, but i’m pretty sure he’s still alive. people don’t die just because you left the room
  • if a lady asks for her letters back, the nice thing to do is give them back. not read them aloud to her new husband
  • if you agitate people too much, they will drop dead of the stress
  • if you are too mean to people, they will drop dead of the sadness
  • if you are a jerk for most of your life, you will drop dead from jerkassitude
  • however, if you wait everyone out, eventually everyone that stood in your way will be dead and you can marry your boyfriend
  • it is totally okay to marry your best friend’s girlfriend, then his daughter–as long as your best friend is an asshole
  • don’t tell lies about corn. corn is serious business. i know this to be true, i’m from Indiana

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things i’ve learned from ‘madame bovary’, ‘the awakening’ and ‘the return of the native’

Spoilers for very old books.

  • stay away from the water if you’ve ever had an affair
  • no, really, it won’t end well. take showers, not baths. avoid the walk home that crosses by the pond. water is a no
  • anyone you choose to have an affair with will break your heart and is not that into you anyway, so don’t bother
  • he is not worth all that time you spend thinking about him/shopping for him/pining for him. no one is. you do YOU, okay
  • thinking about other people’s feelings is nice, you should try it sometime
  • if you don’t love him, don’t marry him. especially don’t marry him and then complain because his main flaw is that you don’t love him
  • no, i’m serious, don’t go near the water
  • and if you’re going to take poison, maybe you should at least ask around and see how long it’s going to take for you to die from it. if the answer is “a long time”, maybe choose life
  • don’t get married, it all ends in death and misery
  • don’t have an affair, it all ends in death and misery
  • actually, don’t leave the house, it all ends in death and misery
  • if you get multiple books from the Adultery–Fiction tag in Gutenberg, it’s unintentionally hilarious. I keep shouting, “YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE, NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE, LOVE IS AN ILLUSION” to dead fictional characters. Bless the Victorian era and all who sailed its waves.

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WTF 101: Who owns what? (Marvel film rights)

Why hasn’t Wolverine fought the Avengers yet? (Answer: because our eyeballs would explode with awesomeness.) If the Fantastic Four movies suck so much, why don’t they just shove them into the background of an Iron Man movie or something? Why did it take so long for Spidey to show up with the Avengers?

The answer is because it depends on who owns what property.

So, once upon a time Marvel was struggling…

To put it simply:

  1. It was the mid-80s, and things weren’t going so well (they would end up filing for bankruptcy by the mid-90s)
  2. Superhero movies weren’t really big box office anymore, and
  3. I get the feeling that no one really thought that first Spider-Man movie would be as much of a success as it turned out to be
So Spider-Man and all of his villains/people closely associated with Spider-Man went to Sony.
The Fantastic Four and all of their friends and enemies (which is an impressive list of characters including Galactus and Super-Skrull) went to Fox.

Namor is possibly owned by Universal Studios, and Universal might also have the rights to a Hulk movie, but if anyone really wants to do anything with those two properties, I’m pretty sure Fox could work something out re: Namor and Marvel could definitely work something out re: Hulk.

All mutants (X-Men, various X-Teams, mutant villains, etc) went to Fox–except for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who have a unique role in the mutant universe. They’re mutants (sired by Magneto, no less), but they’ve never been X-Men. They’ve almost always been Avengers, so both Marvel and Fox have the rights to the Magneto twins (and that is why they showed up in both the Avengers and X-Men: Days of Future Past). This also includes those closely aligned with mutants, which includes Deadpool (his first appearance was squaring off against Cable and X-Force, and mutants have always been a big part of Deadpool’s history).
Getting a quick few million for what seemed like almost nothing seemed like a smart idea. Of course, in hindsight, they’re kicking themselves a little for it, but now that Sony is working with Marvel Studios to (finally) make some good Spidey + The Avengers content, everybody wins! Sort of. Sony still owns the rights, they’re just renting them back to Marvel in order to make movies that millions of people will see, instead of movies that millions of people see and feel entirely indifferent about.

Will Fox do the same thing with the X-Men/Fantastic Four that Sony did with Spider-Man?

Probably not. See, they’re still making money off the X-Men movies. There’s really no financial reason for them to team up with Marvel Studios at this point, no matter how much I really, really, really want it. It’s almost like they don’t care about my feelings. And yes, the Fantastic Four movies aren’t big moneymakers at the moment, but at some point the focus shifted from the FF to the X-Men in terms of bankability, so as long as people will pay to see Wolverine growl and slice things (i.e., forever), they don’t really care about the Fantastic Four making too much money. Yes, they’d like to make money off that property, but if it doesn’t happen, they’ll still survive on the superhero film market.
Of course, if they’d just listen to anyone who’s ever read a Fantastic Four comic, they’d stop trying to focus on the origin story that has not aged well (they went into space to fight communism. And took along a part-time model because why not have wildly unqualified people aboard a space vessel?) and work on making Doom the hilarious-yet-terrifying villain he’s always been and remember that the Fantastic Four is a story about family and sci-fi (the wilder and less believable, the better), they might actually get a decent movie for once. And then I could finally see Skrulls on my television. I’ve only been waiting for 20-odd years.

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WTF 101: Why Supergirl Shouldn’t Have Pets

This is not okay. Not okay.

I was going to write about pets in the DC universe

Why wasn’t there a comic book about Super-Monkey? Who wouldn’t have read that?

and why they’re always so weird (and occasionally hypersexual toward Supergirl), but then I realized I’d be writing about a psychic horse that wants to bang an unsuspecting woman, and I feel dirty.

And then I remembered that I don’t care if I feel dirty, so here’s that time Supergirl made out with her horse. In her defense, he was temporarily not a horse. In her defense, he deliberately omits the information that hey, I’m usually your horse but for these few minutes, I’m a man with a plan to get in your pants.
Look, DC. I get that you occasionally go the extra mile in edginess. Superman’s love of tentacles, Batman’s harem of teenage boys that look suspiciously like him, Green Lantern’s (the Hal Jordan version) general need of a fist to the face…but did we really need to go there with the horse? He’s a horse. A horse that’s able to obsess over his owner, yes, but he’s a horse.

I’ve had dreams about horses, and I never looked like that in the morning.
Honestly, I feel like Supergirl shouldn’t be allowed to have any more pets. She has a cat named Streaky…
Because the world definitely needs a Legion of Super-Pets.

…whose name is Streaky because she “doesn’t get the concept of the litter box“. Think about that for a second. Your pet keeps shitting all over the floor, and instead of, I don’t know, trying to do something about it, you go, “Hey! Let’s just name him Shitty Floor-Shits McBackside!”

No more pets for descendants of Krypton (and let’s forget about why Krypton’s animals always look exactly like ours). Except for Beppo the Super-Monkey. Give him a talk show or something. I need more Beppo.

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Women in Comics: The Most Common Superpower…

…is BOOBIES!!!11!!.

The very definition of creepy and sad.

Kinda weird, right? It’s almost like a bunch of guys got together and drew their masturbation fantasies, published them for ages 12 and up, and collected a paycheck for it. but that couldn’t happen in the real world, right?

I’ll tell you right now, this is mostly an excuse to post some of the scans I dislike the most. Because spines and boobs just DON’T WORK THAT WAY.

I hid my comics love when I was in school. Not because comics were uncool. Not because I cared if anyone thought it was uncool. Mostly because bringing a copy of Wonder Woman or Catwoman to school would have led to cries of ‘LESBIAN!!!’, because any pre-teen girl reading a book with giant breasts on the cover was going to be mocked. Hard. And at thirteen, I wasn’t anywhere near brave enough to fire back with “So what? Who cares?”. I was already a nerd, dammit. Why make life harder? Comics were for boys. Girls were supposed to read them in secret. If they were meant to be for girls, they wouldn’t feature tons of women in bikinis and skintight everything with nipple outlines and giant breasts that somehow defy gravity no matter what they’re doing. They wouldn’t feature nightmares of testosterone that look like this

The 90s were a dark and steroid-filled time.

and try to convince us that this was the peak of masculine physical fitness. The men looked grotesque, and the women contorted themselves

like this

and this

because none of this is disturbing in any way.

I’m all for free expression. I am a fan of porn. But this isn’t meant to be porn, it’s just meant to be women wandering around in the world, occasionally saving lives while posing as if they’re expecting a post-victory gangbang at any moment. In the land o’ comics, 95% of the women look like inflatable dolls, and the other 5% are blurs in the background.

And it’s weird, y’all. It’s weird how violently some people will defend the huge boobies of cartoon characters. It’s very important to them that they get their Wednesday dose of huge cartoon boobies, no matter how anatomically incorrect the finished product looks. No one’s remotely interested in saying ‘hey, let’s draw some people that look like people’ if it means that they might lose their porntastic uniforms and cleavage windows.

It’s stuff like this that gave us the Hawkeye Initiative. Because the ‘they’re strong women, just in bikinis!’ argument loses its steam when you see this

and this


If you can still see these poses and not admit that a lot of these drawings are just odd wish-fulfillment, gravity-free, spine-breaking, ass-presenting fantasies, then please don’t lend your comics out to anyone, because everyone will know why they’re suspiciously sticky.

There is hope, though. Susan Richards is looking a lot less boobtastic these days.

From this

to this. Because we don’t need the number 4 to be spelled out in skin, we can figure it out on our own.

Ms. Marvel looks like (gasp!) a teenage girl instead of an inflatable dummy.

Spider-Woman finally has a costume that doesn’t look like it was spray-painted on her body with an arrow pointing to her breasts.

And check out the adorable hipster Batgirl!
She fights crime, but you probably haven’t heard of it.

There’s hope! Now we just have to work on the whole spine-twisting thing, because the point of fighting is not to position yourself at an angle that shows your ass cheeks to every villain in the room.


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Jessica Jones: a spoiler-free conversation


Like all of us, Jessica hates Mondays.

Who the hell is Jessica Jones? That’s a pretty common question for anyone who hasn’t been following the adventures of Luke Cage or the (former) New Avengers.

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1. Is she a superhero? I’ve never heard of her.

We never really see her in her superheroic days (at least, not to start). Her story starts post-costume, in Alias: , which is one of my favorite Marvel MAX stories of all time (and I’m including the one where Nick Fury kills his way through an entire MAX series). She’s a former hero with PTSD that works as a private detective (mostly specializing in superhero cases). She’s a little paranoid, a little neurotic, but hey–when it’s been proven that the bad guys really are out to get you, you deserve a little paranoid and neurotic behavior.

Eventually, with Pulse , we go back and see more of Jewel and Knightress (her somewhat meh hero monikers), but I’ve always felt that the real gold is when Jessica isn’t out there as a costume, but just kicking ass in civilian clothes.

2. What’s with the swearing? I thought Marvel stayed PG in their comics.

Alias was a Marvel MAX edition. Marvel MAX have (almost) no limits. Swearing, boobs, heads being chopped off…as you can imagine, the Wolverine MAX series was an orgy of blood and swears. It made my angry, childish heart so very pleased. I like swears, blood and boobs. I’m basically the Deadpool of comics consumption.

3. What’s the deal with Luke Cage?

Maybe we should come back to that after the series airs. Let’s just say he plays a part in her life as someone she can rely on. Luke is definitely the kind of friend you want if you’re a superhero. Or not a superhero. He’s the kind of guy that would bring over a pizza and hate-watch five hours of Say Yes To The Dress with you just because you’ve had a terrible day and need something to mock. That’s love. Just remember going into the Jessica Jones series: Luke Cage is awesome.

4. Will watching this make me uncomfortable in any way?

That is a good (yet very vague) question! Jessica has been through Some Shit, people. She is a failed superhero for a reason, and it’s not because she just got bored or sucked at her job. She’s a great example of how difficult the job is, and how sometimes when the bad guys win a battle, they win hard. Her backstory involves Stockholm Syndrome, mind-rape, possibly actual rape and extreme violence. Her backstory also involves a woman pulling herself back from the brink by her fingernails, and sometimes that’s not pretty. Admirable as hell, but not pretty. I’m not sure how much they’re sticking to the comics, but it’s been hinted that her show will be pretty dark, so watch it with that in mind.

5. Should I watch the show?

YES, OBVIOUSLY. Kickass, complicated female protagonist who isn’t just ‘random strong woman #83’? Someone who fucks up sometimes, because she’s human? Someone who kicks ass sometimes just because she can and she excels at it? Someone who refuses to shame herself or let others shame her for casual sex? Someone who’s survived the worst and refuses to stay down? Hell. Yes. I’m pretty sure I’ll watch this show two or three times. I’ve been waiting for her.

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Thor 101: Mjolnir, or “that which smashes”

Also known by the (much better) name of Mew-Mew, courtesy of one Darcy Lewis.

Yes, I’m about to write an entire article about a hammer. But it’s a magic hammer, so that makes it okay, doesn’t it? Wait until I write about Cap’s shield. That will be a masterpiece of retcons and patriotism, and that’s before we get to the future(s).

So, about those dwarves…

But Mjolnir and Cap’s shield are miles apart in backstory. Thor’s hammer wasn’t always Thor’s hammer, you know. Thor used to be the guy with the axe named Jarnbjorn.  Jarnbjorn was a pretty sweet weapon, but it was no hammer. Thor blessed the axe with his blood to give it some added mojo, and it was made by the dwarves of Nidavellir (one of the Nine Realms–currently Ten Realms, but that’s another story altogether), who are the most badass smiths/forgers of all time, as shown by their love of drinking and swearing and basically being the crankiest version of the Seven Dwarves ever. They would also be the ones to craft Mjolnir, although its fabulous powers would come directly from Odin himself.

Mjolnir was formed from the famed metal uru (which can only be found in Asgard) and the heart of a star. The star (allegedly) exploded mid-forging and took out the dinosaurs, which is probably the most awesome explanation for the end of the dinosaurs ever. As if that didn’t make it interesting enough, Odin decided to lay a bunch of spells on it, making it the only weapon anyone remembers when they think of Asgard, which I’m sure pleased all the other warriors so very much. It was Odin’s weapon before it was Thor’s, so I’m guessing no one argued with the idea of the King of Asgard having the coolest toys.

Anyway, Thor would attempt to lift Mjolnir every now and then (that whole pesky ‘being pure of heart’ thing), fail, and go back to Jarnbjorn. But once he managed to pick up Mjolnir, Jarnbjorn was yesterday’s news. After a series of trials (because nothing on Asgard is ever done without a series of trials), Mjolnir was all his.

So, how powerful is this thing?

It can crash through planets. It can destroy suns. It could theoretically wipe out an entire chunk of the universe. Neil Degrasse Tyson says it weighs about, oh, 300 billion elephants. The combination of that, and purity of heart is why very few people other than Thor have ever managed to lift it–notably, Captain America, Beta Ray Bill, Loki (yes, Loki) and Jane Foster. Machines live in a tricky grey area–sentient machines can lift it, non-sentient ones can’t. Hypothetically, I suppose any machine that could lift 300 billion elephants could manage it, but I doubt there’s too many of those running around.

So, where’s the hammer now?

Thor has it. No, not that Thor–the new Thor. Female, mysterious and oh-so-worthy. Thor is now known as Thorr (not Snortblat, unfortunately). Original Sin changed lots of things. I’m still catching up on my post-Original Sin reading (this is what happens when you use Marvel Unlimited; you’re six months behind everything). Original Sin is where Thor lost the hammer in the first place. Original Sin led to lots of fun changes!

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Black Widow 101

Natasha always gets the best exit lines

Natasha Romanoff (or Romanova, which I believe is the correct usage that’s rarely used in the comics) has a backstory that would make James Bond crap with envy. Brainwashed super-agent, injected with the Russian version of the Captain America super-serum that’s enabled her to live nearly as long as Steve Rogers himself, trained in the most deadly arts to take out targets without remorse or mercy…until she decided to take her life into her own hands and work for herself and her own interests/beliefs instead of the KGB’s.

There’s this common misconception that Natasha only gets her intel by sleeping with the enemy–that she’s a glorified Bond girl. I find that hilarious, considering this graphic:

The entire Marvel Universe is connected through Tony’s crotch.

She’s had occasional loves, like anyone would after being in publication for decades. Like Hawkeye

and Daredevil

They were together for quite some time. Sadly, it was probably Matt’s most functional relationship.

and of course, Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier)

Bucky’s first solo comic was basically a romantic comedy where two lovers shoot and stab their way through Russia.

Right now, she’s Natasha, on her own and kicking ass in her own solo adventures. They’ve tried to get her a solo comic several times, but this one seems to be sticking. The art is fantastic, the plot is great (Natasha tries to atone for all of the previous shooting and stabbing by shooting and stabbing the correct people this time around. So much shooting and stabbing!) and people (me) respond really well to the shooting and stabbing (I love it). (Turn off Adblock-related software to view the links)

One of her earlier adventures was The Name of the Rose, which had beautiful art and a great plotline that involves several of her ex-lovers and friends going through hell and back to help her out, because that’s the kind of loyalty she inspires. Wolverine, Cap, Bucky, Tony and co. trust her because they know her. They know she’d give her life for them in a second, and the least they can do is return the favor.

It feels like I haven’t put much in actual information here, which is because I am not a huge fan of the constant changes to her backstory. Every ten years or so, they go, “Oh, she just thought she was a ballerina! BRAINWASHING!” and “oh, she didn’t know about the super-serum! BRAINWASHING!”. Plus, most of the Avengers have been retconned in order to be old enough to have fought with Cap during WWII. Wolverine did, Nick Fury did, Natasha didn’t fight with him but Cap and Wolverine rescued her from Nazis once upon a time and does everyone get the super-serum when they join the Avengers? Is it handed out along with a key to the building and an ID?

Of course, now the more recent (but possibly not the latest, I can’t tell) retcon includes the whole Red Room scenario that we saw in Age of Ultron, and instead of super-serum, she and Bucky were bio-enhanced. Which begs the question–if we can bio-enhance people to the peak of physical fitness like Natasha and Bucky, why do we even bother trying to recreate the super-serum, anyway? Can’t we just…keep building super-people with tech and gadgets and metal arms? I don’t understand you, Marvel scientists.

So, don’t worry about the backstory. You know everything you need to know from the movies (more or less). You definitely know enough to dive right into the comics I’ve recced and enjoy them thoroughly, I promise.

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Inhumans 101 (the new, shiny version)

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This is going to focus on the Inhumans as it relates to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while still giving the basic comics backstory/current comics timeline.  This means I’ll be skipping over a lot of previous Inhuman arcs, their involvement with the Fantastic Four, that time Crystal married Quicksilver and then left Quicksilver and now maybe she wants to marry him again… I’ll try to address all that in another post, but I’ll probably have to explain Marvel Cosmic first (basically, all of the heroes and villains that live and interact in the universe, as opposed to being focused on Earth), and that could be an entire series of posts. So let’s go with this abbreviated version.

So, who are the Inhumans?

Like many of the best Marvel characters, the Inhumans were introduced in the pages of the Fantastic Four (Issue #45, December 1965). When I say ‘Inhumans’, that usually means the royal family (Black Bolt, his wife Medusa, her sister Crystal, Black Bolt’s cousins Gorgon and Triton, and Black Bolt’s brother Maximus the Mad (is that a fun name, or what?). But ‘Inhumans’ also means the entire species.

So, what are they? An alien race?

They’re a science experiment by the Kree (one of many experiments).  They experimented on primitive humans in an attempt to jumpstart their own stalled evolution, and failing that, to create a race of super-soldiers. because attempted eugenics has always worked well for everyone. So the project was abandoned and the Inhumans went on to create their own society–a very strict one, with rules on marrying outside their own group in an attempt to control their mutation issues.

So, what mutation issues? Are they mutants?

I can see why you’d think that, but nope, not mutants–although these days, they’re mutant stand-ins, what with Fox owning the rights to the X-Men. For those confused about who owns what: Marvel owns the rights to the Avengers and various superheroes like Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, etc. They all share a movie universe called the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  Spider-Man is owned by Sony, who recently agreed to share rights with the MCU, so Spider-Man and all his related heroes and villains are now available to interact with the MCU. However, Fox owns the rights to all mutants and mutant-related characters, like Deadpool and Cable.  They also own the rights to the Fantastic Four, which is why Marvel Comics tends to downplay anything mutant or Fantastic Four-related these days. 
Instead of mutants, we get Inhumans. The Terrigen Mist is a stand-in for mutant powers appearing at puberty, but the results are the same–unpredictable and varied mutations with varying levels of power.

So, wait? Terrigen mist? What’s that?

The Inhumans operate on a caste system determined by the powers given to you by the Terrigen mist. Every Inhuman is exposed to it at a certain age, and it can result in anything from control over the weather (Crystal) to mind-control (Maximus).  Without the mist, the average Inhuman still possesses an expanded lifespan, enhanced strength and speed and other Kree characteristics left in their genetic makeup. And speaking of Kree characteristics…
Let’s jump ahead over years of basic Inhuman history in order to focus on their connection to Marvel as it is now/the MCU.  BI could try and explain the Infinity storyline to you, but Wikipedia would probably do a better job (seriously, that thing was…massive), but one of the results was Thanos releasing a bomb that destroys Attilan, the Inhuman city and spreading Terrigen mist all over Earth.
The mist activated in anyone with Inhuman genes, as thousands of people grew cocoons around themselves, emerging with various powers and abilities. This ties in very well with the current series, Agents of SHIELD and how they show the mists affecting those with Inhuman genes.

So, now what?

So now we have thousands of newly awakened Inhumans running around like Ms. Marvel, Skye/Daisy Johnson and Lash. Some are heroes, some are villains. Some just want to live their lives and forget all about these strange new powers. Some are hated and feared by society. Sound familiar?

So, what should I read?

For new!Inhumans, you can start with the current Inhuman arc. There are three volumes so far, so it wouldn’t take long to catch up. 

  I’m using Marvel Unlimited these days, so I tend to be a few months behind on the latest arcs (unless it’s Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel or Deadpool; I always seem to be up-to-date with those, because obsessed) and haven’t read much of this yet–but I’m a big fan of the Inhuman Royal family, so I’m expecting these books to be quite good.

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