Posted in episodes

Episode 31: Anti Heroes

The homework for the episode:
Martha: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (2008 thriller)
Pete: The Maltese Falcon (1941 film directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor)
Bill: Dredd (2012 action opus directed by Pete Travis and starring Karl Urban and Karl Urban’s Chin and also Olivia Thirlby)

A journalist enlists the best hacker in Sweden to help him investigate the disappearance of a girl from a wealthy family, and discovers she may have a connection to a string of murders committed over decades.

A PI’s partner is killed during an investigation, and he gets drawn into the frantic search for a priceless artifact.

While investigating a triple homicide in a gigantic skyscraper, a Judge and his protege find themselves needing to fight their way to the top to confront a mob boss and drug cartel leader.

The oft referred to husband of cohost Martha is our guest today: please welcome Bill Sullivan and enjoy our discussion of Anti Heroes! We are following up our toxic masculinity theme, but before we get into that we are obligated to give you….

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: The single “Summer Songs” by Field Report (and not Isle of Dogs, which he was hoping to discuss, and which probably would have led to a heated argument on the merits of Wes Anderson)
Martha: PokemonGo (and not THE MEG, which she was hoping to discuss, because it is an incredibly stupid and amazing creature feature book being turned into an action movie starring Jason Statham)
Bill: The Penguins vs. Flyers hockey game, which they won because the Philly Flyers are trash

It is probably for the best that Pete can’t by our own rules talk about Isle of Dogs, because he and Martha almost certainly would have disagreed vehemently about whether Wes Anderson should be allowed to make movies set in Japan and not actually include any Japanese people (the answer is no). Martha is back in the Pokemon ARG game, with the advent of Field Research, and frankly she and Bill were both on pins and needles waiting for the outcome of the Pens NHL cup game. But enough about that!

 

To follow up our discussion on toxic masculinity, we’re talking about a particular offshoot of the subject: Anti Heroes. In particular, we are addressing the following questions:

  1. What defines an “anti-hero”? How has this definition changed?
  2. Do we think our main characters qualify?
  3. Why are we as a culture so fascinated by anti-heroes?
  4. Why are there so few female anti-hero characters?

We also end with a little coda on whether or not we think our culture will ever move on from its romanticization of anti-heroes, and you can probably expect a follow-up blog post of some kind because Martha did not even get in to the fact that one of the most popular TV shows right now does not actually have any anti heroes in it (it’s Game of Thrones and if you thought there were any she will disabuse you of this notion).

Next week we have another guest from the 40 Going on 14 podcast, Patrick Whaley! We will be digging into Vice as a story point and character trait, and we have some wickedly fun homework for you to explore.

Your homework for May 9:

Martha: Repo! The Genetic Opera
Pete: Neuromancer by William Gibson
Pat: Rounders

Find Pete on Twitter @piko3000, and find Martha on both Instagram AND Twitter @magicalmartha. Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in episodes

Episode 24: Better Together

The homework for the episode:
Martha: New52 Justice League, vol. 1: Origin by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Carlos D’Anda
Pete: A trio of musical albums: The New Pornographers: Together (2010), Neko Case: Middle Cyclone (2009), and Destroyer (aka Dan Bejar’s band): Kaputt (2010)
Calee: Captain America: Civil War, the 2016 film directed by the Russo Brothers and starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Sebastian Stan

Iconic superheroes meet for the first time against a powerful foe.

I don’t know how to give a synopsis of three musical albums, but basically: a Canadian pop supergroup makes super fun music, and so do two of its individually famous members.

Two superpowered leaders disagree, splinter their team, and form their own teams so that Steve Rogers can defend his assassin bestie.

Calee Schouten returns for our one year anniversary! In honor of getting the band back together, as it were, we’re talking about various forms of teamups.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: 1848: Year of Revolution, 2008 book by Mike Rapport
Martha: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild video game for Nintendo Switch
Calee: Arrested Development, 2003 TV show created by Mitchell Hurwitz and starring Jason Bateman

There is no Martha, only Zelda, and the taming of beautiful ponies therein. Pete shows all of us up by once again bringing actual LEARNING about FACTS for his credentials, while Calee gives Martha the elevator pitch on why she should watch a culturally iconic tv show.

With the insane popularity of comic-based film right now, pop culture is pretty saturated with teamups. For our homework today we looked at the Big Two from the Big Two, and Pete threw us all a welcome curve ball by introducing a real-life teamup in the form of the pop supergroup The New Pornographers.

Some of the questions we examine are:

  1. Do the members of these teams gain or lose anything by being part of a team?
  2. Does our familiarity with the individual members/components of these teams help or hurt our enjoyment of the teamup? Does DC or Marvel relying on character archetypes contribute to that feeling?
  3. The goal of a team-up is usually to create something that is more than the sum of its parts. Do we feel that the team-ups we looked at here succeed or fail at that?

We also talk about about how these teams succeed or fail, and how we feel about the individual members in their private endeavors versus their team efforts. We may or may not throw some shade at DC (and a bit at Marvel, we are nothing if not equal opportunity shade-throwers).

For our next episode, we are joined by friend of the show and fellow podcaster Josh Brown to talk about Formative Media: the stories and media that influenced us as children, shaped our tastes, and made us the discerning consumers of pop culture that we are today. We will probably all get very emotional and nostalgic!

The homework for January 31:

Martha: Princess Mononoke, the 1997 Studio Ghibli animated classic (specifically the English dub featuring Billy Crudup, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Gillian Anderson, and more)
Pete: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the 1950 novel by CS Lewis
Josh Brown: The 1983 children’s tv show Reading Rainbow, specifically the episode for “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and two more episodes of our choosing (find them on YouTube here)

Find Calee on Instagram @trickylemon. Find Pete on Twitter @piko3000, and find Martha on both Instagram AND Twitter @magicalmartha.

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in episodes

Episode 21: Transformation

The homework for the episode:
Pete: The Wicked + the Divine, vol. 1: The Faust Act, by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen
Martha: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Sarah: Fright Night, 1985 film directed by Tom Holland and starring Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, and Amanda Bearse

We are joined for this episode by friend of the show Sarah Caputo! Welcome, Sarah!

We’ve talked about identity and character growth, and now we discuss Transformation and all the ways it changes us (heh). We have some feelings about character agency, the virtues of self-driven transformation vs. the non-consensual kind, and the use of metaphor, among others – and can we just say a special Thank You to Sarah for getting us to watch this masterpiece of 80’s camp horror?

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Political blog posts linked from Twitter (like this one)
Martha: Animal Crossing Pocket Camp on mobile
Sarah: Live show from Maria Bamford

Pete is reading about depressing political stuff as per usual, but it does sound like his reading would be helpful to anyone trying to lie to the FBI (spoiler alert: don’t). Martha has once again been drawn into the seductive world of mobile gaming with the new Animal Crossing property, while Sarah, the lucky duck, got to experience Maria Bamford LIVE and IN PERSON.

We go a little long in this episode – I would apologize, but we got very swept up in the discussion of character agency, and that is a topic I (Martha) could discuss FOREVER. So be glad we didn’t go EVEN MORE longer! Anyway, in this episode we discuss the following broad questions:

  1. How do the characters in our homework transform? How do their physical, emotional or mental transformations inform their characters and character growth?
  2. Are these character transformations metaphors or stand-ins for anything? If so, what are they representing?
  3. What difference does self-induced vs. non-consensual transformation make to our characters?

We get a bit in the weeds on this one, but only in the most interesting ways, I promise. Our homework subjects run the gamut from pop stars to vampires to plastic surgery-obsessed teenagers, which makes for some extremely interesting parallels. Martha gets to blow Pete’s mind when she informs him that Uglies was written in 2005, paving the way for basically all dystopian supergirl fiction. We all get super excited about Fright Night because let’s be real, Prince Humperdink playing a vampire named Jerry is basically the best thing ever. We also get deep into a discussion about character agency and where the line is between agency and compulsion.

On December 20, we are joined by friend of the show Caitlin Flynn to discuss the (poorly worded, perhaps) topic of Moments of Character Transcendence. Our homework:

Martha: The Wee Free Men, 2003 novel by Terry Pratchett
Pete: Serenity, 2005 film directed by Joss Whedon and starring Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyck, and others
Caitlin: Wynonna Earp, 2016 TV show, episodes 1.02 (“Keep the Home Fires Burning”) and 2.12 (“I Hope You Dance”)

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @tinyrevOKC and Instagram @tiny.revelations. Check out her Etsy store Tiny Revelations, where you can find very cute art, cards, and now even shadow boxes (which make great gifts).

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in episodes

Episode 20: Masks

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Mother Night, 1961 novel by Kurt Vonnegut
Martha: Hannibal, episodes 1.01 (“Aperitif”), 1.07 (“Sorbet”), and 1.10 (“Buffet Froid”)
Mark: Enigma, graphic novel by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo published by Vertigo Comics in 1995

We are joined for this episode by friend of the show and Pete’s brother, Mark Rhomberg! Welcome, Mark!

We’re back to our metaphorical roots, examining plot and character elements in our discussion of Masks. We look at them both literally and figuratively, and there may or may not be a round of patting each other on the back for not assigning any straight forward superhero stories (although we still manage to talk about Batman, because, well, duh).

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Revolutions podcast, hosted by Mike Duncan
Martha: Monster Factory on YouTube, a Polygon production
Mark: Take Care, 2011 album by Drake

If Martha seems detached and quiet during this segment, it’s because her internet kept dropping her from the Skype call. Awkward! She joins in long enough to talk about the piece of pop culture she’s ACTUALLY excited about, her brand new MoviePass (although she’d be more excited about it if it would actually work!). Pete gets down with history and everyone gets to chastise Martha for not being able to recall any Drake music.

You may have noticed we had no pre-reading post up before this episode – that is an accident of busyness, and nothing more! The big questions we address in this episode:

  1. What is the impetus a character might don a mask, and what function does that mask serve? What are the literal and figurative masks our characters wear?
  2. How do these characters get “lost” behind their masks (if, in fact, they do)?
  3. How does the idea of wearing a mask assist a character function in society when they might not otherwise be able to do so, by being their “true” selves?

We also touch briefly on the pros and cons of wearing a mask, how that can be used as a defense mechanism, and the central issue posed by Vonnegut in the introduction to Mother Night: “We are who we pretend to be.”

Our theme was inspired by a tumblr post by Neil Gaiman, which we discuss and which can be found here. The Wonder Woman page can be read here; it’s a page from Wonder Woman Annual #1, written by Greg Rucka and art by Nicola Scott and Liam Sharp.

We don’t get into a lot of detail, so for anyone who didn’t read Enigma, our discussion probably gets a little confusing – in brief, the reader finds out that the title character was basically abandoned down a well for most of his life where he developed psychic powers, lived off lizards, and never learned human feelings. When he is found by the world, he adopts the guise of this esoteric comic character in order to have some kind of purpose that isn’t just psychically manipulating lizards or his mom.

On November 22, we’re doing something a little lighter and going guest-less to talk about some of our favorite media to consume around the holidays. Your homework is to watch The Nightmare Before Christmas because it will probably come up!

Follow us online @DYDYHpodcast, e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com, and find us on Facebook.

You can follow Mark on twitter @MARKRHOMBERG. Check out his awesome bars Splash Studio and Nine Below if you’re ever in Milwaukee.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in episodes

Episode 14: Leaders and Leadership

The homework for the episode:
Martha: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien
Calee: Firefly, episode 1.09: “Ariel”
Pete: Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar

A widowed mouse learns the secrets of her husband’s past (and his connection to some interesting rats) in her quest to save her son and move her family, before the farmer’s plow can destroy their home.

The crew of the Firefly turn to an unexpected source to help lead them through one of the biggest heists of their careers.

What if: Superman had landed in Communist Ukraine instead of the heartland of America? Generally, not great things.

Our episode is painfully topical as we discuss and examine what makes a good leader. What do we expect from our leaders? What happens when leadership turns toxic? Let’s get into it.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Hipster Jock Jam playlist for the Riverwest 24 bike race
Martha: Lore podcast by Alan Mehnke
Calee: Adventure Time animated show

Pete’s pop culture credentials are inextricably tied to him spending an ungodly amount of time riding a bike for charity, which, you know, is pretty cool. Martha’s prepping for a podcast live show (hey, you think we’ll ever be cool enough to do one of those?) and Calee is enjoying the frenetic, animated joys of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. Mostly, Martha is plotting how she can use Pete’s expertise in the world of charity cycling to fuel a library program, because that’s basically how she processes everything these days.

Big Questions for Leaders and Leadership

  1. What traits to effective leaders tend to have? Are the traits of IRL leaders similar to the traits of fictional leaders?
  2. What makes people follow a leader?
  3. Is it dangerous to glorify leadership?

Leadership plays a strong role in most narratives, and it behooves us to take a closer look at the strengths, weaknesses, and character traits of some of the many leaders we find in media. We generate a list of characteristics we appreciate in our leadership, Martha gets salty about Superman and Mark Millar, and we have a lot of fun talking about rats. Some sensitive topics are broached re: our current political state, but for the most part this is a bipartisan episode. (J/K our president is a toddler and our country is a trash fire, hooray!). Plus we all take a moment to reminisce about how much we miss Firefly.

Also, this is sadly Calee’s last episode with us as a regular co-host. Next episode we’re taking a small break to talk about what we’ve been enjoying this summer, to give Pete and Martha the chance to assemble some choice guests to bring you more of that good, good content.

Your homework for August 9:
See something cool! Read a good book! There’s an excellent thread on Twitter that The Fug Girls retweeted, full of juicy and salacious Hollywood memoirs if you need a good starting place.

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in syllabus

Grief and Grieving: Syllabus

The Babadook (2014 film directed by Jennifer Kent and starring Essie Davis)

Deep Dark Fears (webcomic by Fran Krause, located here)

The Fox and the Hound (1981 animated film directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, and Art Stevens)

Frankenweenie (1984 film directed by Tim Burton)

Hannibal, episodes 1.04 (Ouef), 1.09 (Trou Normand), 2.12 (Tome-Wan), and 3.02 (Primavera) (2013 TV series produced by Bryan Fuller)

iZombie, episode 3.10 (Return of the Dead Guy) (currently airing TV show created by Diane Ruggiero and Rob Thomas, and starring Rose McIver)

The Orphanage (2007 film directed by J.A. Bayona and starring Belen Rueda)

The Others (2001 film directed by Alejandro Amenabar and starring Nicole Kidman)

Pet Sematary (1983 novel written by Stephen King)

Scrubs, episodes 5.20 and 5.21 (2001 TV show created by Bill Lawrence)

The Skeleton Tree (2016 musical album by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds)

Song of the Sea (2014 animated film by Tomm Moore)

Spontaneous (2016 novel by Aaron Starmer)

Supernatural, episodes 1.01 (Pilot), 2.01 (In My Time of Dying), 2.02 (Everybody Loves a Clown), and 2.20 (What Is and What Should Never Be) (Currently airing TV show, created by Eric Kripke)

Posted in supplementary material

Grief: Episode 11 Follow-up

(Written by Calee S.)

Thoughts! I have some! I think that grieving is different for every person, and may even vary from one situation to the next. In the past month, I’ve dealt with a lot of loss, both directly, and indirectly. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to wrap my head around why things can be so different, and really learn how the grieving process can change. I’ve also experienced the notion of grieving as a result for those who are left behind after a loss, as well as feeling sad at the loss of potential a life could have had. But often it feels like something, or someone is missing. While I was perusing my bookshelf for supplementary materials, it made me realize how many comics I had borrowed from someone who has since passed, and the chance to discuss these with them is gone.

Supplementary Materials
1 Song of the Sea (2014 film directed by Tomm Moore)
This movie starts out with a death that scars a family for years. *spoilers* Conan’s wife, Bronagh, disappears after childbirth of her second child. As a result, this breaks Conan, who was very much in love with Bronagh. His son, Ben, also has a hard time dealing with his baby sister, Saoirse, whom he blames for his mother’s disappearance.
2 Deep Dark Fears (ongoing comic by Fran Krause)
Reflecting on Martha’s comment about horror related to grief, I’d like to bring up the Deep Dark Fears Comics. These are one shot comics that are submitted by readers and can be found online here. Several of these deal directly with those fears associated to horror and loss that you just can’t quite put your finger on until someone else brings it up. Another common trope seen is one where the submitter perceives themselves feeling grief and guilt even after their hypothetical passing.
3 Fox and the Hound (1981 Film directed by Ted Berman, Richard Rich, and Art Stevens)
Okay so this was admittedly the first movie I ever sobbed during. This deals with all sorts of grief. From the classic, Disney parent death, to loss that cuts so deep and raw, but isn’t necessarily the result of a death. This movie made me realize that it’s okay and important to grieve a lost friendship, as this is also a part of life,  and just because it’s over doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.
4 Frankenweenie (1984 film directed by Tim Burton)
Ahh the good old story of grief so strong, you bring your pet back from the grave.
Posted in extra credit

Conservation Follow-Up: The Evils of Capitalism

(By Martha S.)

Can you have progress, can you have capitalism, without the destruction of the natural world?

This is the question we dance around in our eighth episode, without really coming to a solid conclusion. My opinion then and now is that pop culture certainly doesn’t think so. The villain in the stories we discussed is invariably a version of Giovanni Ribisi’s  Avatar caricature, in varying degrees of complexity. But we are a people based on progress – we celebrate scientific advances even as they contribute to the capitalistic society that demands the development of our land into factories, the degradation of our air from pollutants, the poisoning of our water from…well, a whole bunch of stuff. Am I falsely equating scientific and capitalistic progress? Perhaps, but you don’t get the latter without the former, and many scientific advancements originally intended for good get monetized in the end. So I guess what I’m really coming around to is –

Are the ideas of conservation and scientific advancement mutually exclusive?

I don’t have an answer for you. But I do have some supplementary materials for you to read that might help.

Batgirl Annual #2 by Gail Simone
Someday we will do an entire episode on lady superheroes and you’ll get to experience the actual sound of my being radiating with joy, but until then, please pick up Simone’s Batgirl Annual issues. No. 2 does two relevant things: it pairs Batgirl with Poison Ivy, who (like Swamp Thing) is a physical embodiment of Nature Bites Back; and it tells an interesting story about a man using plant cells to grow organs in people that he sells at high cost to rich people who need transplants, effectively corrupting the natural world on a microscopic level. I like this one because it doesn’t describe sweeping geological destruction, but the subjugation of the natural world for (what else) capitalistic gain.

And then Poison Ivy Bites Back.

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Captain Planet
Listen. The main villain of this show was named Hoggish Greedly, which is too good for even me to make up. Regardless, the show gets a lot of credit for how hard it worked to instill a sense of both obligation and empowerment in its viewers – yes, we were told it was generally humanity’s fault for how bad we were messing up Gaia, but we also had the power (“You have the power!”) to fix it. That call to action is missing in a lot of these works; a problem is presented, and perhaps solved, but without a specific call-out to the consumer of the media.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky
As discussed in our episode, Miyazaki has a preoccupation with the relationship and causality between man, science, and natural destruction. Castle in the Sky is a lovely movie about people who created a paradise floating above the earth – its central thesis is basically that when presented with something powerful, mankind will inevitably turn it to destruction, rather than something useful or beautiful. (The exception being, of course, young teens who are still pure enough of heart not to be tainted by masculine ambition.) The opening credits also feature some truly excellent schematics of flying machines.

The Lorax
He speaks for the trees, ok?

Man of Steel
Not the central storyline, but it is worth noting that Krypton implodes because the core of the planet has been mined to the point of internal collapse. Even Kryptonians, smarter and more evolved than simple humans, are prone to hubristic destruction.

Pacific Rim
“We practically terraformed it for them.” One of the things I love about Pacific Rim is that there isn’t really a specific bad guy (other than the kaiju, natch). Unlike Godzilla, it’s not REALLY about how we destroyed the Earth with nuclear power – except that, very subtly, it is. Newt Geiszler (played by Charlie Day) drops a few lines about how the kaiju tried invading during dinosaur times, but the world was too pure, and now that we’ve poisoned it up a bit it’s ready for their take-over. And then Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi save the world…through the power of friendship.

Paolo Bacigalupi’s novels Ship Breaker and The Water Knife
Bacigalupi’s works are interesting in the context of this conversation because they are predominantly about the capitalistic nature of ecological destruction. In Ship Breaker, we meet our main character Nailer on a polluted beach, stripping a beached oil tanker of resources. The United States is a distopic wasteland, with portions covered by global-warming induced flooding and the population divided sharply along economic lines. Nailer makes his living by plundering the ecologically disastrous oil rigs that have been lying dead on his beach for decades.

Similarly, The Water Knife is secondarily about how a large portion of the United States is experiencing deadly dust storms and lethal drought, and mainly about the commercial fight over water and the land it comes from.

Posted in extra credit

Sidekicks Follow-Up: Logan, the Tragedy of Carrie Kelly, and Other Ephemera We Forgot

(Post by Martha S.)

So if you listened to our fifth episode on heroes and sidekicks, you may have noticed that we all got a little riled up right at the end – en masse, right when we were out of time, we all remembered that we had not touched on the film Logan or Wolverine’s long string of cute girl sidekicks that he’s had throughout the history of the X-Men comics. I wanted to that a bit here, and also address some of our additional materials that didn’t make it into the episode, and also ruminate on the tragedy of Carrie Kelly (particularly in contrast to Wolverine’s many female sidekicks). Here we go!

Logan is a wonderful movie, and a lot of the reason for that is the relationship between Logan and Laura, the tiny homicidal X-23 character. (X-23, if you’re not familiar, is a female clone of Wolverine that shows up first in the TV show X-Men: Evolution and then later on in a handful of X titles.) Laura is a feral, powerful, tragic little girl who is more comfortable decapitating bad guys than obeying rules. She needs the gruff, militaristic hand of Logan in order to pull back from the edge, and it turns out he needs someone to protect and defend. I’m not sure that Laura quite makes the leap from “escort quest” to sidekick, although others may disagree – but the fact remains that Wolverine has a history of mentoring younger women who then grow up and get their own solo books or at least get to be the principal at mutant academy.

Over the course of his history, Wolverine has mentored Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Armor, and X-23 (and Rogue in the original Bryan Singer films), and even has one fantastic comic issue with Kamala Khan. His take-no-bullshit attitude seems to do well with angsty teenagers, who bounce off of his tough exterior and come out stronger on the other end (while he gradually softens). It is a relationship I consistently enjoy reading about, especially when you contrast it with…

Carrie Kelly.

Oh, Carrie. The one bright spot in the (unpopular opinion) dreary and drudging The Dark Knight Returns, no Robin has been treated as unfairly by creators as Carrie (although Jason Todd may disagree). In TDKR, she’s fun, spunky, bright and humorous, even when she is totally and age inappropriately saving Bruce’s butt. I love HER and hate the way she’s handled in the book – she’s thirteen, has no connection to Bruce other than an idolizing fascination, and basically gets stolen from her apathetic family to help run his brigand of Batboys in The Dark Knight Strikes Again. She also gets a horrible costume change and dramatically declares her love for Batman when she appears to be dying, a love Mark Millar contends is paternal in nature (I think the text strongly disagrees with this assertion).

There is also the case of Batgirl, who can arguably be counted amongst Batman’s various sidekicks, and who while having a very successful solo comic career has also been forced into the “actually I’m in love with you” sex vehicle character (this jumped the shark in the horrible animated rendition of The Killing Joke released last year).

So why the difference? Batman and Wolverine are both serious, world-weary men with a penchant for attracting young people. Why do Wolverine’s female protegees get to go on to bigger, better and more independent (and less lovesick) endeavors? I don’t really have an answer for you, except that historically Marvel treats their female characters better than DC. Please feel free to discuss below.

Other supplementary materials we wanted to make note of:

Captain America: The First Avenger. Notable for its bait-and-switch narrative: Steve begins the sidekick to suave, handsome, tall Bucky Barnes, before being embiggened and taking on the leadership role after he’s Captain America-ified. I love this flip of the trope because Bucky could get all gross and emasculated, and he totally doesn’t. His bromance with Steve is there to the end of the line, and he’s not only happy to follow Steve, but proud to do so.

Grayson, vol. 1: Agents of Spyral by Tom King and Tim Seeley. The short-lived spy drama that Dick Grayson occupied for a while in between Nightwing books. Shows the versatility of his character, and also lots of great action and good use of Helena Bertinelli.

The First Heretic by Aaron Dembski-Bowden. If you’re not familiar with the sprawling mythos of the Warhammer: 40K universe, let me sum up quickly: for a while there were hulking supersoldiers who defended a galactic empire from hideous, beyond-our-comprehension forces and gross aliens. The most important of these turned traitor, gutted the empire, and now everyone lives in a really shitty universe where there’s an equal possibility of being eaten by aliens or disemboweled by a demon. The First Heretic tells the EXTREMELY compelling origin story of the guy who’s fault it was, and is a really cool example of someone who thinks he’s in charge very much not being so. His adviser, a perfect Bastard Understudy, feeds him BS until he’s compelled to unravel the very fabric of the empire of man. I highly recommend you check out the Horus Heresy series of novels.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. A YA novel about all the OTHER characters in a YA story, and what they’re doing while the heroes are off saving the world. I mentioned it as my pop culture credentials back in one of our early episodes.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. The beautiful thing about the titular Wee Free Men in the Tiffany Aching novels of the Discworld series is that not only are they totally dedicated to helping Tiffany as their patron witch, but they do so in a DELIGHTFULLY cheery and bloodthirsty manner.

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein. Everyone needs a Sam to their Frodo, amiright?

Posted in episodes

Episode 5: The Hero/Sidekick Relationship

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Batman & Robin, vol. 1: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (graphic novel)
Martha: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel)
Calee: Adventure Time 1.04, 1.05, 1.06 (TV show)

Have you ever wanted to put the relationship between Batman and his many, many sidekicks under a microscope and really get to the bottom of them? Good news! In this week’s episode, we dig into the hero/sidekick relationship in all its forms, including a rough history where Martha asks Pete to show his work and he doesn’t immediately strangle her with her headphones cord. We talk a whole lot about Star Trek and never come to a conclusion about whether or not it’s relevant! All this AND MORE.

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
Martha: You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds by Jenny Lawson
Calee: The Venture Brothers tv show

Reboots and Reimaginings – Additional Material
Big Hero 6
Hawkeye, vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon
by Matt Fraction and David Aja
The Illiad
Logan

Sherlock Holmes (books, movies or tv show)
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Venture Brothers
 tv show

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Sacrifice. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for March 29:
Pete: X2: X-Men United (movie)
Martha: Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Beginnings (movie)
Calee: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (book)