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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pregnant Jessica Drew Beats up Bad Guys: Bad Guys Mostly Hate It

Let's imagine that you and I are in a boat, and we're quite a ways from shore, and our paddles are broken. Let's also say that there's no one to blame for this situation, except it was me who dropped the paddles in the water and also it was my idea to go out in the boat and to be honest you were pretty ambivalent about it. But we're in this boat, so we might as well make the best of it, right?

In this case the boat is Howie's Book Club, and whoops it looks like I've dropped the paddle which in this case means that I haven't finished, like, a real book. Here's the weird thing, though. The boat has a motor. And that motor will propel the boat just fine (the boat is Howie's Book Club), but because of your philosophical beliefs or whatever, you won't let me use the motor.

The motor, in this case, is graphic novels. Because you guys, I read a lot of comic books. I just read a really good one. But chances are because you read the title, you haven't even clicked on it. Well, I mean obviously you have clicked on it, but not the royal you as in the people who didn't click on it and have no idea that this conversation is even taking place. So I'm complaining to the exact wrong people to complain to. It's like a Utah democrat writing a sternly worded letter to their congressman.

"This means I'm doing something right," he says, pinning your letter to his wall next to the stick figure family he just drew because he's so bored from not having his own opinion about anything even once in his entire life. "I'm told that I'm supposed to side with Captain America in Civil War even though Iron Man does have a pretty good point about that thing with his dad but the party says so and the party is always right," he tells his tiny son who just wanted to talk about how cool Spider-Man was.

Here's some truth bombs, though. Spider-Man WAS cool (we'll get back to this in a minute). Also comic book posts tank big time on Howie's Book Club dot com: the blog. I know because I see the numbers. The numbers tell me a lot about you. Here's what the numbers say: you rule.
Why the comic book thing, though? Like I've said before, the blog isn't about the books. If it were, then people wouldn't ask me for book recommendations all of the time. Wouldn't it be interesting, I muse aloud, if I had some kind of written record of everything I read and which ones I recommend.

The books are but a framework upon which to hang my embarrassing stories and poorly formulated opinions. If I'm showing you my cool sword collection and you say, "no thanks" to my Legend of Zelda Master Sword and Klingon Two-Bladed Knife Thing and That Sword From Braveheart and That Other Sword From Willow because the sword rack is mahogany and you prefer black walnut then I'll tell you who the loser is here and it's not the guy with the original replica of The Bad Guy From Serenity's Katana.

I don't have swords, actually. But I do have words. And my words are as sharp as a replica sword on a mahogany rack, which is to say not as sharp as the real thing, but way cheaper.

Did you know that there is a Spider-Woman? Yeah! And while we all know Peter Parker's backstory back and forth (he smooched a spider) I've read like a hundred books with Spider-Woman in them and I have no idea where she came from, but she is very funny. I'm not even sure what all she can do, but I do know now that she can like shoot electricity from her fingers and she can jump around. She's famous for being posed by an artist in an impossible pose.

OK, I looked it up. The reason Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman was created is because Stan Lee was afraid that DC would beat them to it. This is after Marvel made a Wonder Man because DC had Wonder Woman and then DC created Power Girl because Marvel had Power Man. You think that's weird? We're just getting started.

So Spider-Woman's initial origin story in 1979 is that she literally evolved from a spider. Someone thought that was stupid, so they changed it to her father giving her an injection of irradiated spider blood to save her life? Oh wait. Actually her pregnant mother was shot in the stomach with a laser that contained DNA from a lot of spiders. Anyway, forget it. You don't have to know any of that.

What you need to know is that Spider-Woman is pregnant, electricity comes out of her hands, and she has the best best friend in the world.

The story here is of love of friends and family, loyalty, frustration, the fear of being a parent, the crazy adrenaline rush of being a parent, and some really good jokes. It's about messing up and admitting it and then moving on with your life because apologizing isn't going to save anybody and folks need saving. It's as good of a justification for comics as a medium as I can think of.

I've talked a little on here about being a dad. I'm working on it. I think I've got a ways to go which is a problem because my kids are growing up whether I'm doing a good job or not. It's good to be reminded when it's a hundred degrees out and 85 degrees in and there are only so many times you can go to the splash pad in one day and everyone wants every snack at once because they're so bored and why can't they just play video games? just how much you wanted them. And how excited you were to meet them back when they weren't born yet. And how much of this world you were ready to show them and teach them about. There's still a lot of world out there. A comic book can teach you that. Honest!

I'm going to be real here. Sometimes I write about comics because I don't have anything else to write about and writing blogs is like cutting my toenails: if I don't do it on a regular basis I feel gross and cut people. This isn't one of those times. This is a time when even if you've never read a comic before you should read this one. It's sweet and lovely and the art is fantastic and I just love Jessica Drew even though I barely knew who she was yesterday. Kind of like when you have a baby.