Review: “Loki: Agent of Asgard” #5

Loki Agent of Asgard #5 coverAt long last, I’m back with another Loki: Agent of Asgard review! It’s been three months, and I was already behind. Issue #5 will finish off the first arc. Then I’ll read the intervening Thor & Loki: The Tenth Realm, their Original Sin tie-in. That’s already out in collected form — I don’t know yet if I’ll do individual reactions or the whole thing in one go. By the time I review that, there ought to be about five more Loki issues out, so I’ll do a theme week and get all caught up!

I do my Loki reviews in the form of live reactions as I go along, paying special attention to Loki’s possible genderfluidity/bisexuality/etc. Skip to the Final Thoughts to avoid spoilers!

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Loki Agent of Asgard #5

First panel of the comic. BAHAHAHA…

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Okay. Loki’s busting into Asgard to break Sigurd out. He’s got Lorelei with him, and Thor is helping because Loki called in the favor from the first issue. “Remember when I saved you from becoming the god of anger, boorishness and misogyny?”

We have Lorelei saying “Trust me” several times, also hearkening back to the first issue. Plus this is another heist issue, so it resembles #2 and the overall Leverage-like feel of that issue. (In case you’re wondering, my memory is terrible — I just went back and read my other four reviews as a refresher).

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In this issue, we have explicit confirmation that Loki considers his female form to be “himself” — and I believe that third form is a fox. I kind of like this idea that transforming takes a lot of energy in general, but apparently no energy at all if it’s something Loki “really” is. I like how that plays in to the meta-story of this comic, that Loki has an intrinsic nature but he’s also whoever he’s written to be.

Loki Agent of Asgard #5

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Loki Agent of Asgard #5 Old Loki

Another weird “girl” reference from Old Loki. (He’s being sarcastic about being injured).

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Oh wow. We all knew the “twist” that Old Loki was still alive, he’s been appearing since the beginning. I really didn’t see THIS twist coming though. Turns out Loki’s the only one who worried about becoming Old Loki again. Everyone else not only expects it, they want it.

But, and hopefully Loki realizes this, the all-mother isn’t actually “everyone.” Thor doesn’t want Loki to change back, and I’d guess a lot of others don’t either.

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Final Thoughts:

Okay, that was a really good first arc and I’m sorry it took three months to read the final issue. Once again, the writing is just top-notch. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such skillful characterization in comics, and I’m not sure I’ve seen such an effortless meta-story EVER. I wish Verity’d had a stronger role here after she’d been so great in her other issues, but hopefully she’ll be back. Looking forward to Original Sin!

History Day Poster Presentation

Okay, apparently it’s NOT Ms. Marvel day today. Ms. Marvel #10 has been moved to December 17. I swear it was moved, though! I suppose I can wait patiently, if “patiently” includes grumblemuttering for four extra weeks. Anyway, to fill the gap, I thought I’d tell you about History Day from yesterday! It’s the day history seniors present posters on their topics. There’s no formal presentation, it’s kind of like a poster fair where people wander around and we engage them in conversation. (For more on my topic, 18th-century literature and human rights, see the tag senior thesis.)

Here’s my poster:

PICT0001 PICT0022

I’d been noting down resources all along, so when it came time to do the poster, it was a simple process of looking at all my visual resources and asking “What are the vital components of this paper? What are the moving parts of this thesis?”

In the center panel, I have a big title and a picture of the original book, to give an indication of my topic and for historical interest, respectively. Below that I just put up some old illustrations of the book and a portrait of the author, Samuel Richardson. I wanted at least one element to be a little bit 3D or interactive, so I have the book cover opening onto a description of the book.

On the right side, I have a letter from Thomas Jefferson in which he recommended Pamela, with his effusions on the usefulness of books typed up below. Then there’s a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

On the left side, I have three graphs from The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker (my review), showing how literacy rates and book production took off after Pamela. Beneath those I have some brain pictures I made, highlighting the areas of the brain involved in pain vs. empathy. (When you feel empathy for pain, your brain acts as if you were actually feeling pain despite the lack of pain stimuli…)

So, I could use the poster to walk a person through my thesis.

  1. Look at this book! (center)
  2. It was hugely popular. (graphs)
  3. The book made people feel like they were in another person’s shoes. (brain diagrams)
  4. Recognition of others’ internal lives is a foundational element for human rights as a social norm and as legislation. (documents)

Regarding the “engage in conversation” part, I was nervous. I had this fear that people would say “So, what’s your paper about?” and I’d just forget, not only all the information I’d read but what the paper was about. The first person who talked to me was a friend, though, so I got to stumble all over myself in front of her instead of everybody else. ;) After I got into the swing of things, it was actually quite fun to talk about my research with interested parties! It was mostly faculty and staff, with a few history majors thrown in — it would’ve been nice to show other students how interesting history is, too, but faculty have preexisting knowledge and conversational topics, so there’s that. There were some very interesting observations. Librarians in particular seemed very interested, and a few even recognized Pamela!

I actually finished my paper on Monday, pending final tweaks. (The celebrations have begun!) It will appear in some form here — I may section it off into topics, much as they’re partitioned above, and just write up new posts summarizing each thing, plus stuff for funsies that got cut from the paper. That might be more fun for everybody. But if you’re a blog friend and you’d like to read it in its “real” form, please email me or let me know in the comments, and I’ll send it to you! (I’ve sent it out to several of you already, thank you for being interested!)

Editorial | Does Geek Culture Hold the Answers to National Security?

hannahgivens:

A collaborative article that Tracy and I wrote on the topic of geek culture intersecting with real life, specifically with international relations. It’s the first time either of us have written a collaborative article and I think it turned out great! It’s fair to say that if you like Things Matter, you’ll almost definitely like Therefore I Geek, so give them a follow and leave us your thoughts in the comments. ;)

Originally posted on Therefore I Geek:

For this post, I collaborated with Hannah Givens, from Things Matter (which you should totally check out).  Our mutual love of international relations shines through everything we do, apparently.

Technological innovation raises some obvious questions. What kind of technology will humans use in the future? How will it work and what will it do for us? How will it change the way we do things? Those questions are, perhaps, at their most controversial in the realm of national security, where technology can kill (or protect) ever-greater numbers of people. Fortunately, geek culture is an oracle of war. Science fiction has been imagining the future for a long time now, and was already providing possible answers before national security experts even understood the questions.

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Sunday Summary 11/16 – Thesis update

Anybody remember Hoops & Yoyo?

Anybody remember Hoops & Yoyo?

There went another week!

I’m having one of those days where I look at what I’ve done and think “Really? Three months of work and this is all you’ve got?” But here’s a to-do list updated from last week:

  • Finish the unimportant part of Pamela. 
  • Skim a few more sources and integrate them, particularly where I only cite one source for several pages. (1 of 4)
  • Make any structural changes I want to make.
  • Do a deep read-through to create seamless transitions, tie everything back to my argument clearly, and make those perspective changes regarding the sources at the end. (Half done).
  • Convert parenthetical citations to footnotes. (Partially done)
  • Edit out 2-4 pages (projected).
  • Re-send to professors, and make any other necessary edits.
  • Create a poster presentation for History Day in November.
  • Consider sending to a call for papers.
  • Share it with y’all! :)

I’m woefully, woefully behind on reading other blogs, and I’m very sorry. I’m at least a month behind on most blogs, but I swear I’ll catch up soon!

Coming up this week, I have an exciting collaboration with the excellent blog Therefore I Geek scheduled for tomorrow! I think this article is quite relevant to y’all’s interests and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. You can expect a reblog if and when the article goes up. Then Wednesday is Ms. Marvel day, and Friday will be about the paper again…

What are you up to this week?

Reasons to Love History #9: Like-Minded Individuals

I’m having one of those weeks where I just can’t find anything or remember anything. Did I have a draft of this post from three months ago? Probably, as this post concerns something that happened at the beginning of the semester. Memory will have to do.

Senior Seminar is the capstone course in my history B.A. Students learn about professional ethics and take a series of ungraded achievement tests for the school’s benefit, but the main thing is to write a 20-page research paper — for many of us, the longest paper we’ve ever produced. On the first day of class, our professor was explaining the requirements and the amount of work it was going to be, but before we could get too nervous, he said something like this: “But hey! Don’t get too nervous! You’re history majors, you’re here because you love this kind of stuff. You love reading books and learning new things.”

Ironically, considering how I can’t turn up the original draft of this post, he’s right! I do love researching, careful documentation, learning stuff, and telling other people about cool things! You really don’t get into history for the money and the fame, ya know.

I’m sure not everyone in the field of history — or everyone in that class — agrees with me about loving papers, and history hardly has a monopoly on “doing it for the love,” but people DO do it for the love, and that’s good enough for me. I guess this Reason kind of amounts to “Reasons to Love History: Innate Preference,” but the real reason here is that I’m not the only one. The whole community of historians is largely made up of people who like history!

Visit the ISMA Library

hannahgivens:

If you’re in the Birmingham area and researching industrial history, don’t overlook the library at the Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama! Here’s a short summary of what’s available.

Originally posted on Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama:

The Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama offers a research library containing more than 700 books and documents on Tannehill, Alabama history, the Civil War, and the iron and steel industry across the US! The library includes primary sources, secondary sources from throughout the 20th century, and recent releases.IMG_6037

The library’s primary sources include technical manuals, safety pamphlets, and industry publications from the 1800s and early 1900s, such as geological surveys from 1912 and several editions of the American Iron and Steel Association’s Ironworks Directory of the United States. Iron-industry magazines from the 1930s-1960s are available in the library and the museum archives, and the library holds more than 1,000 photographs from the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company of their mines, furnaces, and company towns in Alabama from the 1910s through the early 1930s.

Secondary sources and commentary from throughout the 1900s are available on all the library’s areas of interest. These books – from biographies…

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Novel Update #9 – Actually about a short story

WD is still mostly on pause, I’m just poking at it when I have spare time. However, I did manage to write a 1,750-word short story in October — and in two days! It was a Halloween-inspired story about a fantasy solstice holiday, which I posted here.

I didn’t want to clutter that post with commentary, but practicing writing is one of the main reasons I write short stories at all. I find that writing an entire short story, experimenting with it, and declaring it finished teaches more than writing the same number of novel words. Or, if not more, at least some different things.

“Solstice Night” was great practice for writing characters who are at cross purposes. I have a lot of trouble juggling characters in dialogue, possibly because I RP so often — I’m used to doing one character deeply, while someone else provides the stimuli for that character. There were several times I had to delete a whole section of the story’s conversation and start again because they’d dribbled off into out-of-character-ness or just insignificant conversation – I was writing quickly so I had to backtrack and keep going immediately, and it was just really great practice.

Also, my advice is to resist the temptation to downplay what you’ve written. I started with 230 words of introduction for that story and cut it down to 80, just the essentials… As long as you’re doing your best, don’t apologize for how far you’ve come or how far you’ve yet to go. Just release the story into the world and see what happens. (In that spirit, constructive feedback on the story is much appreciated!)

Supplemental viewing: Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

Cosmos A Spacetime Odyssey coverI’ve been watching the new Cosmos show on DVD, and it’s amazing. I’ve never seen the original, but this version honors it in such a way that now I want to see it. Beyond that, this new one is mindboggling for me as a modern viewer. The production values astound. Tyson’s travels to the future, the past, other worlds, inside cells — are interspersed with animated mini-docs about historic figures in science and how they made their discoveries. The whole thing is just so gorgeous I could cry. It’s like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Doctor Who, and Magic School Bus combined, and it’s all real stuff. The “ship of the imagination” he uses isn’t real, obviously, but I can weep about that later… The point is that this show makes science understandable and compelling for amateurs, plus renders breathtaking visuals along with it. It’s a must-watch for us sci-fi writers. Heck, I don’t know how I coped with my LIFE until I had Cosmos.

Doctor Who Review: “Death in Heaven”

After an extremely shaky last-half-of-season-eight, Doctor Who has pulled off an extremely good finale with “Death in Heaven.” Not much “stuff” happened in “Dark Water,” the first half of the two-parter, but they totally make up for that in the first ten minutes of this episode. Major spoilers.

Doctor Who Death in Heaven promo

Danny’s a Cyberman. Clara lies about being the Doctor. UNIT shows up, zaps everyone, makes the Doctor President of Earth. The Cybermen are everywhere. It’s a one-two punch of set-up and delivery. The marketing totally made us think this would be another timey-wimey Moffat finale, and then they turned the tables on us completely. I love it! The trailers linked Clara throwing the keys into the volcano with her line, “Clara Oswald never existed.” Turns out those are completely different situations, and the one explanation for her line we never considered is that she was just lying!

How can Moffat be so great in episodes like this and so awful elsewhere? Perhaps he’s a genius writer but a shit showrunner, hmmm? It kind of reminds me of Agents of Shield season 1, where they started off strong, dribbled away into utter boredom, then were suddenly great at the end. The last five or six episodes of Doctor Who were basically just filler, and would’ve made the season stronger by being removed. I guess that should be a lesson to us all about asking for 12-episode seasons. We meant we wanted twelve good episodes, Moffat! Anyway, let’s get into some specifics of the episode. (As usual, I assume you’ve seen it and I don’t have to explain the plot as I go along).

Yay for the painting of the Brigadier, one of my all-time favorite characters! And it only gets better when he actually makes an appearance. I was tearing up at that moment. There is an unanswered question, though, because it means the Brigadier didn’t burn himself with the others… Is he now some kind of free-range Cyberman with a Heart? Because that would be awesome.

Doctor Who Death in Heaven Cyberman Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart

Yay for Osgood, fan-favorite from “The Day of the Doctor”! If ever there was an audience stand-in, it was Osgood. This time around, instead of a Tom Baker scarf, she’s wearing a Matt Smith bowtie. I love her. She knows about the Master, solving my unmet need for a proxy in this situation! And she’s smart! My during-episode notes say “YES FOR COMPANION PLZ.” (My main request is a companion who’s not from modern-day Earth, but I will absolutely settle for Osgood). And what do you know, the Doctor makes an offer right then and there, “all of time and space,” and Osgood clearly understands what that means… And I immediately knew she was about to die. Moffat only makes us care when someone’s about to die. That’s a problem, honestly. Can’t we care about our central characters, too? Like Clara and Danny? Like I said last week, couldn’t we have spent the whole season making us care about them, or giving us someone who cares about the Doctor? Apparently not. I know Tumblr makes it seem funny that Moffat kills people all the time and people complain about their feels… I’m not complaining about feels. I’m unhappy that she’s dead, but I’m MORE unhappy that I cared more about her in two seconds than I have about Clara all season, and that’s shitty writing.

Back to the good stuff, though — Yay for the Mistress! My personal preference is still a Master/Mistress who isn’t crazy. He wasn’t always crazy, that’s a New Who invention. That said, I was much more impressed by the Mistress this time around. She’s still Sexy Umbridge, but Michelle Gomez was able to differentiate her more when she actually had some room to work. She’s creepy and scary, but most important, she’s powerful. She makes decisions that are in-character, even though she is crazy. I hate her for killing Osgood and Kate, which kind of gives a whole new weight to the old “I won’t kill you because that would ruin my fun” excuse for keeping people alive… She DOES kill people and DOES make it so the interactions are all over. That makes her genuinely terrifying, horrifying. But yeah, I kinda love her now.

What’s more, I love that her plan makes sense. I love that it’s a genuine moral conundrum for the Doctor. “Am I a good man” has been the main theme of the series, and the Doctor’s feelings about soldiers have been the main vehicle for that theme. So, this episode literally makes the Doctor commander of all the world’s armies. They don’t do much with that, but then he’s in charge of all the Cybermen. He really could use that power to save people, to liberate the Dalek camps as the Mistress suggests. It really is a struggle for him, and when he finally realizes what kind of man he is, it’s a well-earned moment. I love that he’s so excited he kisses Missy, because their connection is like that. It’s not a “you’re so sexy” thing, it’s an intense relationship that’s been around for thousands of years, and he can do that. I loved the moment when they finally come face to face in the graveyard. They just look so incredibly good together, the perfect dysfunctional couple. It’s just so good all around — again, well-earned. The season, for all its faults, constructs a cogent storyline for the Doctor and follows it through to a perfect emotional ending.

Doctor Who Death in Heaven the Doctor

Doctor Who Death in Heaven Mistress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still really don’t care about Clara, and Danny by association, but I guess I should talk about them. They’re handled well in this episode, an important element subordinate to the Doctor/Mistress interactions. Clara’s speech to Danny about the Doctor being the one man she’ll always come back to and the one man she’d never lie to was brutal… Although of course she lies to the Doctor all the time. I did appreciate the moment when she says “I wasn’t very good at it, but I did love you.” That, I can believe. Also, I loved seeing the Doctor finally really speak to Danny, eye to eye. Of course, Danny’s bitter about it and lashes out, but he’s right… The Doctor does need to act like a general sometimes. Mirroring the Doctor’s realization of his own nature, Danny realizes his own nature, that he’s always been a soldier — and that being a soldier can be both a tragic and a noble thing. I think the Doctor realizes it too, through Danny and through the Brigadier. And there’s the lovely, brilliant line, “Love is not an emotion. It’s a promise.”

All that self-actualization happens very quickly and perfectly. It’s like the season — all the parts of the season that mattered — is finishing with a flourish and then taking a bow. Now that’s good writing.

Doctor Who Death in Heaven end

Of course, we must have a small section of falling action and saying goodbye. I did really like the structure of the ending, with Clara and the Doctor both lying to each other that they’re happy now. Unfortunately, it seems like there’s still a bit of something left there, unfinished, which means she’ll be back again for YET ANOTHER “last time.” Good god. Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go NOW. All my dislike of Clara is tied up in her last words to the Doctor — “You made me feel special.” Well halle-fuckin’-lujah. The whole point of the entire universe is to make you feel fucking special. You didn’t learn anything, you don’t treasure the memories, you didn’t engage with the experience at ALL. You just “felt special.” Bah, humbug.

Anyway, there are still unanswered questions — what was the Doctor trying to tell himself with the Roman’s face? What about Orson Pink? Why were robots looking for the Promised Land? — but I think we got all we could cram into this finale! Plus, there’s a lovely mid-credits scene…

I’ve enjoyed blogging this series along with my fellow reviewers, and watching it with all my fellow Whovians. Leave your reactions in the comments below, have a happy holiday season, and we’ll reconvene at Christmas for the best Christmas special yet. I have faith. ;)

Pics from We Geek Girls: here and here.

Sunday Summary 11/9 – Christmas is coming

Here we are with another largely uneventful week. Isn’t it always the way, I finally get a good focus on school and cut out distractions just in time for the holidays and end of the semester? Oh, well. I love my distractions.

I may have already started decorating for Christmas. I’m that person. If I HAD Thanksgiving decorations I’d be decorating for Thanksgiving, wouldn’t I! I am trying to focus on generic “fall/winter” decorations, holding back the explicitly Christmas-themed ones for December, but I make no promises. Come to that, I make no apologies. ;)

The finale of Doctor Who season 8 aired last night, and in a few short hours, I’ll be watching it. Cross your fingers, everyone… Fortunately we don’t have long to wait until the Christmas special I assume we’ll be having.

So, coming up this week there’ll be one last Doctor Who review. Then a short novel update on Wednesday, mainly concerned with Halloween’s short story rather than the novel because I’ve been good about staying focused on the research paper for a couple weeks. I’ll probably have something related to that on Friday — resource reviews or something, perhaps.

What’ve you been up to this week?

Blogiversary!

Today marks the anniversary of my first post! First I just want to thank all y’all who’ve read, commented, and liked posts. The blogosphere is a collaborative project, as far as I’m concerned. Y’all are awesome.

For posterity, I currently have 404 followers, 204 posts, and 11,740 views!

Highlights of my to-do list for the next year of blogging:

  • Join Twitter! I’ve tried Twitter before and it didn’t click with me. However, I’ve been increasingly interested in joining up again as a real “micro-blogging” platform. This will probably happen in December, and I’ll be following all the bloggers I know who are on Twitter. In particular, I plan to live-tweet books, TV, etc., because I do enjoy doing that and it takes up too much space on Facebook. :D
  • Finish What Dreams. I’ve got a year off from school, and I think I can do it, goshdarnit!
  • Cook through the book A History of Food in 100 Recipes, for the lulz (and the noms).
  • Continue Interesting Carictars at about one book a month.
  • A to Z in April? Yep, probably.

Happy holidays, everyone!