Month: August 2016

LokiCast Episode 2: “Agent of Asgard” Issue #2 (2014)

Podcast available on SoundCloud.

“Loki and Lorelei, Sitting in a Tree…” written by Al Ewing, art by Lee Garbett and Nolan Woodard, letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles, and cover art by Jenny Frison

In Issue #2 of Agent of Asgard, we get two Norse gods trying to pull off a caper in a Monte Carlo Casino, Asgardian cosplay, the All-Mother popping up out of a punchbowl, and of course speed-dating.

Original script below.


Regarding Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings

provThe University of Chicago has sent a letter to incoming students for the Fall 2016 semester, notifying them that:

“Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion, and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’ we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

I think this letter defines many terms poorly.

“Trigger warnings” are not at odds with academic freedom. They are an acknowledgment to students that content encountered may be difficult, and that it is better to acknowledge that potential and discuss it, rather than ignore such a variety of experiences provoked by the texts we read.

Invited speakers are frequently cancelled due to the peaceful, ethical, and evidence-based protests by faculty and students. This kind of action has the potential to occur at any college campus. There are speakers whose arguments, when they are based on lies and unethical practices, deserve condemnation in peaceful and ethical ways; students and faculty will continue to protest such speakers, and should a college decide to rescind an invitation, it is by their own decision, not by anything peaceful protesters accomplish.

Finally, the use of “safe spaces” is limited, referring to it as a space for ignorance and monolithic thought, which is hardly its proper definition and hardly how many of us have used those spaces on campus in our work.

I have had some discussions the last two days about this letter from the University of Chicago, which I would like to share here.


New Podcast: LokiCast, “Agent of Asgard” Issue #1 (2014)

As I wrap up work my next publication, I want to spend the next few weeks sharing my thoughts about recent and popular interpretations of Marvel’s god of mischief and lies, Loki.

This is a new podcast: this is the LokiCast.

Episode #1 of the LokiCast is available for free on SoundCloud. Below is the script for this first episode, in which I look at Loki: Agent of Asgard Issue #1 by Ewing and Garbett. The podcast sticks mostly to this script, so if you don’t have 20 minutes to listen, feel free to skim the script below.

I’m going to record a few more episodes as I wrap up work on publishing about Loki. Let me know what you think about the podcast in the comments section or on Twitter.

(There is a short gap without audio early in this track; skip over that dead air.)

Loki: Agent of Asgard Issue #1 is certainly a product of the Marvel film adaptations, reconciling the newer cinematic portrayal of the character with his classic origins. The first issue in many ways replays details from the first Avengers film, whether the use of Stark Tower rather than Stark Mansion, this iteration of the team consisting of their cinematic counterparts, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and Captain America dressed in the same outfits that they wear in the films, even Bruce Banner offering an incomplete form of the “I’m always angry” line.  

It can rangle fans to have a more attractive, younger, more Hildeston-esque Loki on the pages, a point not lost upon Clinton Barton who describes the newer character as “One Direction-y.” The attractive smooth skin of this Loki is accentuated in contrast to the illustrations of Loki Classic, who arrives on the last page of Issue #1 and who pops up in a flashback in his first fight against the Avengers. This Loki differs greatly from how Jack Kirby was drawing him: the wrinkles and dead eyes are exaggerated, his gleeful smirk transformed into a frightening gaping maw.

Initially, this contrast in physical appearance seems like a cynical attempt to make New Loki look all the more interesting than Loki Classic. But, thank Odin, it’s not. Loki’s two sides are going to be front-and-center to this series. That structure to Agent of Asgard touches upon a point I traced in my earlier article, and which I’m working on in a new publication: what is Loki’s role? Issue #1 of _Agent of Asgard_ summarizes how Loki wrestles with his past self and his future potential, when he imagines his initial fight with the Avengers, way back upon their formation, as like a play:


CFP: “Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics” (NeMLA 2017 Baltimore, Deadline 9/30)

I wrote earlier about the many session proposals on comics, graphic narratives, animation, and related topics that the Northeast Modern Language Association includes for its upcoming March 2017 convention in Baltimore. With this year’s convention focused in large part on language, culture, and international studies, one particular comics session is especially relevant. Comics frequently focus on transformations–mutations, maturation, name alterations–as allegories for feeling one’s identity changed by movement or displacement.

My colleague at Keene State College, Rafael Ponce-Cordero, is organizing the session “Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics,” which considers both formal and content-based transformations. This session therefore looks at how comics represent or use transformations, whether as how characters conceive of changes to their identities in terms of race, nationality, as well as gender and sexuality, or how transformations of the comics medium have altered ways we communicate about these and other topics.

Potential topics may include adaptations from comics to animation and other media, innovations in the comics medium, or transformations of characters, whether physical mutations, Sailor Moon-esque transformation sequences, or changes to characters’ personalities over their publication history.

The CFP is below. Please consider submitting a 300-word abstract and a brief biographical statement to NeMLA’s CFP List web site at this link: Please forward this call for papers to interested scholars.

The deadline is September 30, 2016. If you have any questions, please email Rafael Ponce-Cordero (

Masks, Mutations, and Metamorphoses: Transformation Sequences in Comics
Rafael Ponce-Cordero (Keene State College)

Description: The transformation sequence is standard to comics: Clark Kent rushes out of the phone booth and is now Superman, Usagi Tsukino spins and lights up to transform into Sailor Moon, Kamala Khan experiences terrigenesis to become Ms. Marvel, and Bruce Banner hulks out into a giant green rage monster. This session welcomes submissions that look at transformations not only of characters but of the graphic narrative form, and how those alterations affect other narrative practices in the novel, film, and television.


CFP: “Transmedia Storytelling: Questioning Canon in 21st-Century Popular Culture Narratives” (NeMLA 2017, Baltimore, Deadline 9/30/2016)

My colleague Mary Ellen Iatropoulos (co-editor of the recent volume Joss Whedon and Race) is organizing a session at the March 2017 meeting of the Northeast Modern Language Association in Baltimore, Maryland, focusing on questions of what is canon in comics, film, and television.

“Transmedia Storytelling: Questioning Canon in 21st-Century Popular Culture Narratives” considers how shifts between comics, film, and television affect authorship and interpretation of stories, around what is considered canon among readers and fans.

Examples abound in recent adaptations of comics for television and film, as well as continuations of films and television in comic book format. There is the continuation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the debates as to whether these texts are considered official continuations of the story began on television, as well as continuations of Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity and Dollhouse, and comics-only prequels to Mad Max: Fury Road and the J. J. Abrams Star Trek films.

Related topics may consider how recent adaptations of United States comics for film and television alter what is considered canon in the original comics, as with DC and Marvel’s numerous adaptations, including SupergirlPreacher, Suicide Squad, and Jessica Jones. 

As well, in Japanese comics, there are considerable debates among fans–and academics–regarding the canonical status of anime that diverge sharply from their source material, before new adaptations emerged that were more faithful to the original text. Such was the case of the manga Fullmetal Alchemist, whose initial anime adaptation in 2003 diverging so much from the manga that a later adaptation, Brotherhood, was produced and considered by some to be more accurate.

Submissions may also consider the place of films that are based on entirely new content with limited involvement by the original mangaka, such as One Piece, or cinematic continuations that alter the original story substantially, such as the transition of Madoka Magica from television to film.

Abstracts and short bios are due September 30, 2016, at this direct link to NeMLA’s CFP List web site:

Please consider forwarding the following CFP to any colleagues who may be interested in this session. For more information, please email

“Transmedia Storytelling: Questioning Canon in 21st-century Popular Culture Narratives”
Northeast Modern Language Association, Baltimore, Maryland, March 23-26, 2017
Deadline: September 30, 2016
More information: Mary Ellen Iatropoulos,

Description: How does transmedia storytelling inform and influence contemporary understandings of the relationships between medium, auteur, canon, and fandom? When both fans and creators are “creating” meaning out of transmedia texts, what counts as canon – as the “real” character or story? By what criteria and to what critical end is such a judgment made, and to whom do we grant the right to make such judgments? This panel session seeks proposals that explore the often-vexed but equally-often fruitful relationships between readers, writers, auteurs and fans in the world of 21st-century popular culture narratives.