Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Gwen Stacy

Everyone knows Mary Jane Watson. She’s Spidey’s girl in the original Spider-Man trilogy of the early 2000’s. She’s also the redhead who set Peter Parker’s heart aflutter. A decade later the web slinger’s at it again, but this time he has Gwen Stacy on his mind. Unlike Mary Jane, who Peter fell for in an emotional whirlwind, Gwen’s intellect far supersedes even that of Spider-Man’s for her to become Peter’s one-and-only.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy
Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy

For today’s Women Who Wow Wednesday, let’s have a look at this gorgeous blonde, and her talent for helping Spider-Man, spoiler-free.

In the two The Amazing Spider-Man movies, Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) grabs Peter’s attention from the first time the audience sees them together. The daughter of George Stacy, the city’s police chief, she doesn’t give bullies a choice when she defuses a situation. As opposed to threatening or cajoling, she uses psychology. The crowd disperses and she becomes a quiet hero.

Her strong ability to use her mind and remain focused makes her the perfect girl for Spider-Man. His wild lifestyle, staying up all hours of the night, coming home smelling like something the cat dragged in dictates his need for someone to match his extrovert existence. Gwen’s cool demeanor calms the superhero.

Gwen Stacy
Gwen Stacy

That’s not to say their conversations lean toward boredom. On the contrary, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) loses himself around the heart-stopping beauty. They want to communicate, but most of the time, he jams up his tongue so bad against the roof of his mouth that he rattles off nonsense. Gwen understands him, though. In his incoherent babble, she still knows what he’s saying.

During defeats, Gwen comforts him, tends to his wounds, and provides him moral support when everyone else seems to have left him. And why not? What drives her is her outlook. She’s hopeful, always looking to the future. In a speech to the graduating body, she says:

“It’s easy to feel hopeful on a beautiful day like today, but there will be dark days ahead of us too. There will be days where you feel all alone, and that’s when hope is needed most. No matter how buried it gets, or how lost you feel, you must promise me that you will hold on to hope. Keep it alive. We have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you is to become hope; people need that. And even if we fail, what better way is there to live? As we look around here today, at all of the people who helped make us who we are, I know it feels like we’re saying goodbye, but we will carry a piece of each other into everything that we do next, to remind us of who we are, and of who we’re meant to be.” ~Gwen Stacy

Like she said, it’s easy to be happy during sunny days. It’s during those dark days that hope tends to flee. Gwen figured that out early in life. If only everyone else could, too.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

What do you find compelling about Gwen Stacy? How does she differ from Mary Jane Watson?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Sue Storm

Hard to believe Fantastic Four came out nine years ago. And yet, watching the film once again after such a long time, even if it’s not in the theaters, brings interesting thoughts to mind. Sue Storm, Susie, Susan—whatever her name is, she’s Ms. Invisible, the girl with the hots for Reed Richards, the brain of the outfit.

Sue Storm
Sue Storm

Women Who Wow Wednesday begins with a radiation storm. Four friends hit by deep space rays attempt to cope with the aftershock of the change. Little by little, things change. Sue’s brother, Johnny Storm, burns the ski slopes—literally. Reed Richards has an episode where he can stretch his hand under a door. Ben Grimm turns into a stone. And Sue Storm disappears. She changes from being a beautiful woman to someone who no one can see.

First order of business is to save Ben Grimm, depressed about losing his wife. Sue gets more than what she bargains for. Her ability to create a force field allows her to prevent a fire to spread beyond its means. Saving a number of people along the way, she becomes the reluctant hero among the four.

Then there’s Victor Doom. We won’t get into him just yet. He’s Sue’s attraction. Beyond Reed’s past relationship with her, Victor’s attempted to ask her to marry him.

Sue Storm of Fantastic Four
Sue Storm of Fantastic Four

Now, Sue’s big dilemma is not Victor Doom’s infatuation with her but her ability to control her powers. Unlike many superheroes who have an uncanny talent to hide their powers, Sue Storm has nothing to hide because she’s the epitome of covertness. Her middle name is Hide. She gets angry, she disappears.

Her date with Reed brings back memories of the past. She doesn’t want Doom. She wants Reed. In a planetarium setting, she tells Reed how she remembers the good times.

Her biggest asset though is not the invisibility, not the incredible force field she exerts, but her power to stay focused and clearheaded. For her, her most valuable asset is her single-minded talent to keep her wits about her.

In the epic battle for her life, she takes on Doom in a quick game of Marco Polo. And although she loses, she gains in the end by working with the others as a team to put away Doom for a long time.

Sue Storm—a fantastic superhero, a Fantastic Four.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you seen Fantastic Four? What did you think of Sue Storm?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Zombification

My Monday Mayhem series has had its share of interesting moments. For instance, my Classic Films Zombie Style theme explores popular movies with a zombie twist. Same goes for Classic Literature Zombie Style, except the theme works with popular books. The other theme is my Zombie What Ifs where I pose various zombie scenarios and your job is to escape the horde.

Today, I’d like to introduce a new theme that I thought might spark a few ideas for all you artists out there. I’m simply going to call it Zombification for lack of a better term. I will feature pop culture icons rendered as zombies. Perhaps, I’ll even add a few anecdotes to lighten the mood, but we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, here are this week’s picks:

Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown—Who doesn’t like the Peanuts gang? I grew up with them. Granted, it’s a far cry from A Charlie Brown Christmas but a zombie Charlie Brown makes for an interesting cartoon, don’t you think? Imagine the whole Peanuts crew succumbing to a persistent virus that in turn makes them eat the townsfolk. I’d buy the Blu-Ray, for sure. Nothing quite like introducing a little anarchy where the protagonist ascends to the top of the food chain.

Super Mario
Super Mario

Super Mario—I wonder what Mario would do if instead of collecting coins he’d have an express mandate to collect body parts. It shouldn’t be any different from what it is now. After all, he is collecting hearts, so what big difference would it make if he collected a set of lungs, kidneys or a liver? I think we should all request Nintendo to replace all collectibles with limbs. Wouldn’t that make the game interesting? Gory, but interesting.

Superman
Superman

Superman—Since we’re on the topic of supers, how about Superman finding a malignant chunk of kryptonite that renders him Superzombie? Then again, the likelihood of him crashing through a brick wall would be remote. If anything, Superzombie would careen toward a stationary object and the impact alone would have him land with a big huge splat. Not good, considering he should be the most powerful zombie in the world. What chance would we have?

Batman
Batman

Batman—The Caped Zombie. Yeah, I can see that happening. The Joker himself would run for his life. No more Batmobile, Batcave or, in fact, Bat-anything. In its place we’d have the Zombmobile, Zombcave and a crowd of the undead roaming about under Bruce Wayne’s mansion.

Marvel Superheroes
Marvel Superheroes

Marvel Superheroes—I couldn’t choose one Marvel superhero, so I decided to choose them all. There are just too many to look at on their own. I’m sure I’ll do it someday, but not this time. Let’s enjoy them all for now and hope they don’t become real. I mean, could you see a day when Spider-Man spins this creepy web resembling internal digestive organs? I know I can’t.

Your turn, hunt and scavenge. If you have any characters you’d like to see zombified, post the idea here. I may choose your character as a highlight for the next go around.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Do you have any zombified characters you would like to share? Which character or who would you like to see zombified?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Mary Jane Watson

Did Spider-Man really come out in 2002? I can’t believe how fast time has passed since I saw this in the theater. I remember one of my kids toddling their way to the 32-inch Sony Wega and plopping their hands on the screen in hopes of catching the man in red. But to no avail, the webslinger got away.

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson

Women Who Wow Wednesday is about women of valor, women of strength, women filled with hope. That’s why today I want to talk a bit about Mary Jane WatsonPeter Parker’s girl.

Mary Jane’s the redhead who sets Peter’s heart aflutter. She’s known him forever. As next-door neighbors, they’ve share stories while finishing their chores. She comes from a broken home with little hope of ever making it in the real world if she had to rely on her parents to survive. Luckily, she has Peter’s friendship to pull her through the rough patches.

Every hero has an Achilles’ heel. In Spider-Man’s case, it’s Mary Jane Watson or MJ for short. One of the first things we learn about Peter Parker, besides his growing powers as a mutant human spider, is his love for MJ. He’ll do anything for her. He’ll even get in a cage match with an oversized beast of a man in order to earn enough money to buy a car so he can take MJ out on a date. Have I said MJ makes Peter do all sorts of weird and wonderful things with his powers? She does. She drives him crazy.

Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst

What does this redhead got that other girls don’t have? In the movie version with Kirsten Dunst, after a near-fall in the school cafeteria and Peter (Tobey Maguire) quickly jumping to save her, she notices his eyes for the first time. He’d taken his glasses off that day since the spider bite gave him perfect vision. She notices. Her stare lingers a bit too long causing him to smile with one of the biggest, goofiest smiles he could muster.

But the thing with MJ is her heart belongs to Spider-Man and not Peter Parker.

How does it all play out? Let’s eavesdrop on MJ and Peter’s conversation after she asks if he’s ever talked to Spider-Man about her:

Mary Jane: Has he mentioned me?
Peter Parker: Yeah.
Mary Jane: What’d he say?
Peter Parker: Uh… I said… he asked me what I thought about you.
Mary Jane: And what did you say?
Peter Parker: I said… uh… Spider-Man, I said uh… The great thing about MJ is… when you look in her eyes and she’s looking back in yours… everything… feels… not quite normal. Because you feel stronger and weaker at the same time. You feel excited and at the same time, terrified. The truth is… you don’t know what you feel except you know what kind of man you want to be. It’s as if you’ve reached the unreachable and you weren’t ready for it.”
Mary Jane: You said that?
Peter Parker: Well, something like that.

Oh, boy. Poor Peter. If only MJ knew who he really was. If only MJ would give him a chance to explain. He’d tell her why he had to keep his identity a secret. If only MJ would love him back.

Yet MJ is complicated. She loves Spider-Man. She also loves Peter, but she doesn’t know it.

Peter doesn’t know either. How could he? He has yet to hear how she feels about him.

I won’t give away the ending, nor will I talk about Green Goblin’s fascination with Mary Jane. No. Suffice it to know Mary Jane Watson has a little something extra that makes Peter’s day complete. Dare I use the clichéd words that she is the sunshine of his life? I dare say so.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think of Mary Jane’s relationship with Peter Parker? Had MJ known of Peter’s identity would she have fallen for him anyway?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Jane Foster

Her idea of fun is sitting in a truck waiting for a storm to erupt. For six college credits, she’ll to do anything. But then, anything showed up knocking at her door. In this edition of Women Who Wow Wednesday, let’s get to know Jane Foster, Thor Odinson’s match.

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth
Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth

*** Be warned: Spoilers lie therein ***

A long time ago, when the Frost Giants came to conquer our world, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) the King of Asgard appeared with his formidable armies, and vanquished the evil beings from the face of the earth, stripping them of their power.

In time, Odin had a son whose name he blessed as Thor (Chris Hemsworth). The king bestowed upon him the mighty hammer Mjölnir—a weapon imparted with the strength to destroy or a tool to build. During Thor’s coronation as Odin’s successor, The Frost Giants attempt to repossess the Tesseract, the source of their power, from Asgard’s vault. The plan fails and Thor journeys to Jotunheim to seek revenge. But to this end, Thor’s arrogance lands him at a precipice surrounded by the evil Jotuns, only to have Odin himself save him from an untimely demise.

Back at Asgard, after a heated argument with his father, Odin banishes Thor to earth, throwing the hammer along with him with specific instructions to the Mjölnir that only he who is worthy can possess it.

Jane Foster
Jane Foster

This is where Jane (Natalie Portman) comes in. She finds the mighty son of Odin and takes him to the hospital in modern day New Mexico. Of course she believes he’s delusional. Who wouldn’t be, getting hit by a truck? Twice. Yet, she trusts him. He has answers and she wants them. She wants to know where he came from. She wants to know how he traveled to earth in a beam of violent light. And she wants to know why no one can rip the hammer from its resting place fifty miles west from where he landed.

Taking a leap of faith, Jane trusts Thor to reveal his identity by transporting him to the site where his hammer lays. The mission to reclaim the Mjölnir fails. Odin’s instructions to the hammer remain intact, and Thor walks away at a loss as to why he wasn’t able to reacquire his trusty companion.

Jane’s confidence in Thor draws them closer making her his true counsel. She lends him credence where others have turned away. Her steadfast conviction that he’s more than what he appears guides her to convince the others he is the only one who can save mankind from the treacherous clutches of the Frozen Giants.

Whoever Thor is, Jane supports him one-hundred percent. That intimate faith in him is what makes Jane who she is—a believer—an advocate for that which is unseen.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have someone like Jane in our corner when we go about our daily lives?

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you watched Thor? Did you watch the sequel? What do you think of the son of Odin?

Posted in Freedom Friday

Daydreaming

When I was in grade school, I came home one day with a report card that made my bottom red. Oh, I’m sure whatever I brought home would have met with satisfaction in another home, but in my family, bad grades meant not getting my head in the game. Much of what I’d gone through growing up I’d have to blame it on one thing—daydreaming. And for this edition of Freedom Friday, I’ll tell you why.

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom

Throughout my childhood, my brain would not shut down. While other kids studied their ABC’s in class, my mind drifted, wondering what it’d be like being a superhero. In my mind’s eye either I was swooping down to rescue a kid being bullied in the schoolyard or rescuing the world from the evil Dr. Durge. You see, Dr. Durge was my archnemesis growing up. He was a perfect amalgam of DC ComicsLex Luthor and Marvel’s Dr. Doom. In my world, Dr. Durge’s villainy had no end. And no sooner had I put him away for good in a New York state federal penitentiary, he’d escape for his next crime spree on humanity.

Of course, I had to pay a price for immersing my imagination too much into a world of my own device. My report cards would reflect my inattentive behavior. And my bottom would reflect my being unable to sit for a week. Naturally, by the end of the school year I’d have learned a valuable lesson and moved on.

Or did I?

I’m happy to report I never stopped daydreaming. In so doing, I imagined my life years later as to how I’d like to see myself. Again, I’m happy to say my life turned out exactly how I had seen it being. Would it have happened had I not pictured it in my mind? I don’t think so. Having the thought and the forbearance to continue on the imaginary road I’d set for myself made my life the way it is now. That imaginary road becoming more real as the goal materialized with every step I took toward it.

A long time ago, I learned a quote I can’t forget from now until the end of my days. It comes from the movie Flashdance, if you can believe it. The quote goes something like this:

“When you give up your dream, you die.”

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you do or what you have done, if you pictured your life as a doctor, a businessperson, a sailor or even a ballerina for that matter, and it doesn’t happen, that nagging feeling won’t go away. In some cases, the slow death is irreversible.

At the same time, I’m here to say it’s never too late to get it all back.

A 65-year-old woman I know had always wanted to learn to play the piano. She had that nagging feeling all her life, daydreaming how she’d perform for others and how happy she’d make others feel with her music. When she was fifty-five, she began to learn piano. Her dream to perform for others drifted closer as she got better and better.

She now plays piano for her church in songs of worship.

Field of Dreams (Photo credit: Chicago Tribune)
Field of Dreams (Photo credit: Chicago Tribune)

It’s never too late to fulfill your dreams. What’s that quote from Field of Dreams? Oh, yes: “If you build it, he will come.” Don’t allow a slow death to take hold so as your dreams disappear before your eyes. It’s never too late.

Build it. Live it.

As for Dr. Durge? He’s still around. Every once in a while he’ll appear only to meet once again with my superhero alter ego in a battle of good vs. evil. But he doesn’t have a chance. He always ends up in prison until the day he unleashes another wave of destruction on humanity.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Do you daydream? If so, what do you dream about?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Black Widow

Making her first appearance in the film Iron Man 2 as Natalia “Natasha” Alianovna Romanova, also known as Natasha Romanoff, and reappearing in The Avengers, Black Widow dominates the screen as the female superhero with a dark history.

Black Widow
Black Widow

Past Women Who Wow Wednesday posts have focused on female characters that could empower women into becoming better in whatever position life has given them. But after having thoroughly researched Black Widow’s record, this writer is at odds with placing this woman on a pedestal.

What can one say of Black Widow’s behavior that in some form or another wouldn’t cause someone to cringe? Definitely not the following:

  • In Ultimate Marvel, Romanova is a former KGB spy and assassin
  • Genetic or cybernetic implants make her a formidable combatant
  • The woman is known for killing her ex-husbands
  • Responsible for the death of Hawkeye’s wife and children
  • Publicly revealed Bruce Banner’s connection to the Hulk
  • Collaborated with the Liberators in their invasion of the U.S.

There’s more, yet that would involve divulging major plot points in Black Widow’s history. Suffice it to say she leaves much to be desired on the honor and trustworthiness scale.

Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff

However, when she appears in Iron Man 2, she’s Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson), Stark Industries’ replacement for personal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) who moves into the company’s CEO position. No one knows what to make of the redhead until S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury reveals Natalie Rushman is covert operative Natasha Romanoff, planted to monitor Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). You see, Tony’s dying, and she needs to keep him from harm’s way. Natasha also injects Tony with a special serum to slow the palladium poisoning he’s been experiencing due to his use of the arc reactor that keeps him alive.

In the movie The Avengers, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind where Black Widow’s loyalty lies. From the very first frame, we see her in a quandary. A Russian general is about to interrogate Natasha as three soldiers stand in the wings. She dispatches them whole—tied up, no less. The information flows from the general’s mouth.

Yeah, but can anyone trust her? Nick Fury can. He trusts her with the most important assignment of all—bringing in Bruce Banner. No other Avenger can do what she can. Nick doesn’t trust anyone else to do what she can. One wrong move and Bruce turns into the big green guy. No doubt, she did it. She brought him in without a fight.

Once on the helicarrier, her next assignment gets more complex. Interrogate Loki. What’s your plan? Of course she didn’t ask the direct question. Through subterfuge and ploy, Natasha discovers Loki’s nefarious design to deploy Hulk to do his dirty work. One problem, though: When Bruce Banner does turn into the big green guy, Natasha is the only one to delay the inevitable—the absolute destruction of the ship.

When the final battle occurs in New York City, Black Widow’s the only one who understands someone has to close the portal spewing the Chitauri upon the earth. Iron Man’s pathetic attempt at brutal stoppage does not work. Thankfully, she follows through with her genius plan and saves the city from destruction.

No matter what her past, Black Widow has redeemed herself with The Avengers.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen The Avengers? What did you think of it? Do you know of Black Widow’s past?