Claws out Review of Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine, by Suzana E. Flores

Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine by [Flores, Suzana E.]It’s no secret that most superheroes, whether in comics, on the screen, or both, are fairly complicated folks, psychologically speaking. Part of what draws us to these complex, bizarre people is that behind the masks, under the capes, and sans the superpowers, they are at least as confused as the rest of us. Some of them are even more troubled than others, and Marvel’s X-Men probably include more people with mental health issues than the average behavioral health ward (in high school, I learned the definition of the word “angst” not from language arts classes but from the students of Professor X).

We read about these characters, or watch their adventures in films and television shows, partly to help us understand ourselves better. In an effort to help us better understand one of Marvel’s most popular, as well as most troubled, heroes, Suzan E. Flores presents Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine (McFarland, 2018). Clearly, Wolverine (or Logan, or any of his other pseudonyms) is a character worthy of psychoanalysis. Though it seems unlikely one would ever get the surly, isolated Wolverine on the couch (even with a bribe of whiskey. In fact, it is not difficult to imagine the comment and gesture such a suggestion would invite from him), Flores has made a valiant effort to help us better understand this fascinating figure and our corresponding fascination with him. Follow me after the break for my thoughts on this new book.

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Harry Potter and the Commemorative Ornaments

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at my house, given that we typically put our tree and other decorations up right after Thanksgiving. And yes, the Boy Who Lived has a place in my holiday decor.

Several years ago, after it was clear that Harry and friends would be a long term part of my personal and professional life, my mom began giving me Hallmark Harry Potter ornaments. Hallmark has been releasing these annually since 2000, and Mom has thus far managed to track down most on Ebay.  Harry-themed ornaments were not something I would ever have thought of getting for myself, but now that I have them, I love putting them up every Christmas.  When it became clear that they would all get lost in the eclectic jumble that is my family’s normal Christmas tree, I got them their own wrought-iron table-top version.  I thought I would devote this post to sharing a few favorites.

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Time and Death in Fantasy Worlds

Since much of fantasy literature is accessible to readers of all age and education levels, writers often use a variety of methods to work around and through difficult or unsavory topics. These techniques alImage result for time and deathso help with creating an alternate view of these subjects suitable for the alternate worlds in which these stories unfold. One subject that frequently manifests itself in unique ways is that of Death. While figures like Voldemort fear and flee death, it is an inevitable part of life, and no amount of Horcruxes or Invisibility of Cloaks will hide us from it forever.  To personify Death, authors sometimes rely on the conventional imagery of the Grim Reaper, but when it comes to speculative fiction, on the page or on the screen, this image sometimes is conflated with another, that of Father Time, and, in the process of fusing Time and Death, these stories use creative imagery and unique symbolism to portray the brief candles that are all of our lives.

On that cheerful note, cue up the cowbell and follow me after the jump for a look at a few recent and popular treatments of Time and Death in fantasy worlds. It really is less depressing than it sounds, TRUST ME.

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Not all Fantastic Beasts are Fictional

hpspiderIt seems appropriate that this paper should be released at this season of renewed interest in JK Rowling’s magical creatures. A pair of Potter-loving scientists from India recently discovered a new species of spider, and, upon noticing its resemblance to the Sorting Hat, named it Eriovixia gryffindori. Even better, they provided a explanation of the name in the scientific paper that described the beastie.

harry_potter_sorting_hat_by_boywizard94-d5ma8izThis uniquely shaped spider derives its name from the fabulous, sentient magical artifact, the sorting hat, owned by the (fictitious) medieval wizard Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and stemming from the powerful imagination of Ms. J.K. Rowling, wordsmith extraordinaire, as presented in her beloved series of books, featuring everyone’s favorite boy-wizard, Harry Potter. An ode from the authors, for magic lost, and found, in an effort to draw attention to the fascinating, but oft overlooked world of invertebrates, and their secret lives.

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Harry Potter and the Political Humorists

politico-harryThis election coverage has generated more media attention that ever before, and many of the stories have turned into fodder for writers, sketch comics, late-night stand-up routines, and internet memes.  It is not surprising that many efforts at humor, from both sides of the aisle, employ our favorite Shared Text.

There was, for instance, an early report that Trump nemesis Megyn Kelly had jokingly compared him to Voldemort, though a close reading of the quote in context made it seem more like a jab at the other Republican candidates for forgetting Dumbledore’s wisdom that “fear of the name only increases fear of the thing itself.”

hilary-love-childThere are also innumerable memes comparing Hilary Clinton to Umbridge, though, interestingly, as many seem to be the result of an admittedly less-than-attractive pink outfit she choose for a campaign appearance as for her politics. The truly anti-Clinton political nerds seem to prefer to compare her to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s power-hungry and self-entitled Kai Winn Adami, a comparison that goes back at least to 2008. Those of you who are not Trekkies can read about Kai Winn at the above link, or you can just rest in the kai-hillaryknowledge that she was played by Louise “Nurse Ratched” Fletcher, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know. This commentary, from a Clinton supporter, on those comparisons, will be of interest to anyone who has read Patrick McCauley’s work on violence against women in Harry Potter.

For sheer cleverness and clear Shared Text Appreciation, my vote for funniest piece goes to this essay on the destruction of Donald Trump’s Hollywood Star.  trump-star-vandalised-smallWhile I in no way advocate property destruction as a political statement, the author manages to simultaneously demonstrate knowledge of horcruxes, basilisks, Quirrell’s turban and house-elves, and gave me a laugh-out-loud that I could sorely use this political season.

potter-for-presFinally, I’ll close with the most non-partisan Harry Political cartoon I could find, and a link to this article (Hat tip to John!) that tells us Voldemort is more popular among Generation Hex than either of the two major candidates. Nonetheless, you are a US Citizen, get out and exercise your right to vote next week—  for someone, even if you must write in “He Who Must Not Be Named.”  Or maybe Harry Himself—  the Potter for President signs and buttons sold like hotcakes last week at Chestnut Hill.

 

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