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Treating Mental Illness With A Radioactive Spider

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Over the last two decades the public perception of mental illness has evolved from psycho or get out of jail insanity plea, to an epidemic that has, is, and probably always will affect most families in the world. It has affected my life personally and during that experience I learned the ugly truth, with most mental illnesses you are never “cured”, you learn how to fight it effectively, some days you win, some days you lose. That may sound extremely negative but, as the years go on you begin to win most of those fights and in this writer’s experience, the hardship you have battled through allow you to enjoy every positive day no matter how simple, to the fullest extent.

So just how do you treat mental illness and learn to fight it? My own experience was and is with depression, anxiety, and PTSD (nowhere close to a soldier but still tough). Those three combined can form an overwhelming swarm of emotions to one’s brain at multiple times every day. The most common emotions are anger, helplessness, confusion, sadness, and eventually numbness. The first step to preparing for this epic battle is to want it, you need to want to win more than anything. The next step is talking to someone, whether it be a family member, friend, or a professional, sharing your pain out loud and knowing someone is listening is a spark that will light the fuse of your rebellion from these feelings. In some more extreme but not at all uncommon instances signing yourself in to a facility equipped for the coming battle is a huge help. If you’re wondering what route I took, it was all the above. When you have taken these steps, the next phase is to find your brother/sister in arms, this can be a person, music, literature, hobbies, sport, the list goes on. The brother in arms I chose was Spiderman, that sounds strange right? I have always been a fan of comic books like kids and adults today love Harry Potter books, Peter Parker was my Harry Potter but to a much deeper extent.

Hear me out, when you are going through this tough journey (If you haven’t, I really hope you never do) you will begin to feel like nobody understands your pain, you will eventually find a song, book, person, or like me a character that knows, perceives, or symbolises exactly how you feel. I am trying not to make this post all about me as I hope that if any of you beautiful people are experiencing this pain, you can learn something from this post, but to do so I need to explain how a character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko saved my life. If any of you are comic fans you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Peter Parker was a nerdy kid who lost his parents when he was very young, he was raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, the latter of who was tragically taken from his life. Peter was bullied in school, was afraid of standing up for himself, and masked his hurt with humour. When he was bitten by a radioactive spider he became Spiderman and at first, he had fun with it, until Uncle Ben was killed by a thief who Pete had let escape.

This is just the beginning of this explanation and I already know that many people can tell what feelings he had at these times, for those who don’t, let me explain to the best of my ability.  I thankfully have both my parents but, I know a few people who tragically lost theirs and let me tell you, their lives were crushed. Losing a loved one is never easy no matter what relation they are to you, losing a parent must be pure agony. I can relate to this next part, although I had both my parents and they done a fantastic job with me, I will always give most of the credit of my upbringing to my grandmother, she was my Aunt May she taught me right from wrong, how to believe in myself, she was there to listen to my “world ending” problems as a teen, and she loved me unconditionally. I lost my grandmother earlier this year and it was in that moment I realised that she was my Aunt May and my Uncle Ben, even in her passing she left me with knowledge they can’t teach in schools and a feeling of being loved that in my grief I didn’t believe I would ever feel again. During this time in the comics Pete was feeling what I am still feeling now, an almost sub category of depression, Survivors Guilt. The name explains it all, Peter felt guilty that he lived, and Ben died, he also began to regret decisions in his life that involved Ben. I am still in that regret stage and it is a fresh battle for a veteran mind which has grown complacent.

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I think a lot of people can relate to the last three stages of this beginning, I among many of you was bullied in school, I was afraid to stand up for myself, and to this day I mask my pain with humour. Being bullied is often the beginning of a person’s mental health battle, dormant feelings you had about yourself subconsciously are brought out and backed up by kids who are probably two stages further than you on their descent into mental illness. It is from this bullying that you gain the fear of standing up for yourself and this follows you through your whole life if you let it, it grows from being afraid to stand up to bullies to being afraid to stand up to your boss, significant other, parent, or even just a stranger. Bullying has now led to you feeling self-hatred, shame, fear, and worthlessness but, your human pride will not allow you to appear weak to the people closest to you so what do you do? “You should see the other guy mate”, you joke, you put on a mask just like Spiderman (More on this point later) and you don’t let the world see your vulnerabilities, in a nutshell you bottle up your feelings until you can’t fit anymore in and that’s when you explode and then go numb, not always in that order. The danger of this is that when you explode you may end up hurting someone you love and, when you go numb you may fall into the trap that myself and countless others have, you will hurt yourself just so you can actually feel something.

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After the passing of Uncle Ben, Peter chose to live by a code especially when he is Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. He put on the mask and the skin-tight suit (Seriously how does he keep everything “PG”, I wore a morph suit once and the party got an R rating) and began to stick up for the little guy. As I got older and got a firm upper hand on my ongoing battle, I saw younger kids in school being bullied like I was, this led to me letting my internal enemy gain ground because I gave into my anger and I got into fights. Now I’m not saying stopping someone from being bullied by taking on the bully is wrong (That is basically what superheroes do) but I constantly found it hard to stop once I got into a rage. “With great power comes great responsibility”, as I read more Spiderman comics these words became my code, from then on, I only used physicality as a last resort and I knew when to stop. This is important because we need to stop and think, at what point are we now bullying this bully? If protecting someone led to violence I stopped once the bully’s attention had gone from harming someone to protecting himself. Many years later I realised the reason I allowed my internal rage to control me in these moments was a symptom of the PTSD using my past to turn what should be a “hero moment” into a buffet to still the hunger of the monster I had in my head at the time. Just like all the other moments of realisation, once this became known to me I learned how to fight it and if I can (I’m not the toughest) then you can too.

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After the tragedy of losing Uncle Ben, Peter had begun to get some sort of hold on his life balancing being himself an being a web slinging superhero, that was until he lost the love of his life Gwen Stacey. This was a huge storyline and though it had obvious mental health ramifications on Peter’s life I’m going to leave it out of this post because if I included everything, this would be a novel. Instead let’s focus on the first half of that opening sentence of the paragraph, Pete was living two lives. There are many different mental illnesses that cause a split of personality however, the reason I relate to this is due to how I hid my feelings during dark times of depression. I, like many others put on a mask just like Spidey and I became someone different, someone my mind wanted me to be, but my inner war stopped it from ever being permanent. When you fall into the pit of depression everything seems dark and evil, the world is working against you but, you have your friends and family, to these people you don’t want to look weak. I put on the mask for my friends and for my family but, in the end it was them I nearly hurt the most had I not been saved.

This piece may seem like a how to guide on hiding mental illness but it is the exact opposite. I wrote this piece to be something other warriors against mental health can relate to, and something to give advice to the new warriors forced onto the battlefield. Spiderman was my guide, all the attributes mentioned earlier were what I related to, all the growth afterwards was my salvation. Spidey still feels grief and depressed at times, which we seen when he was infected with the symbiote, it brought his anger at life to the surface before he rejected it and it became pure rage using the vessel of Eddie Bock as Venom. This storyline alone shows how Pete fights his war with his webbed head held high and now the person his mind wants him to be shines more consistently. Peter shared the burden of being Spiderman with a select few people he loves and that alone lightened the load on his shoulders and it taught me that sometimes the best way to fix yourself is to let someone know the pain you are feeling.

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Mental health is not taboo anymore but, the recognition of the problem still has some ways to go. If you are reading this and you are going through something similar please, learn from the experienced warrior’s shortcomings. I understand that you may not be ready to talk just yet, but don’t let yourself be beaten too easily, you have the ability to fight within you! Find your brother/sister in arms and kick mental illnesses ass every damn day!

If you are reading this and you have been through similar and continue to win your war like me, you need to make sure the new warriors are not alone and clueless, pass on your learnings because you are in line with the bravest people out there. Remember, “With great power, comes great responsibility”.

 

Thank you for reading (enduring)

 

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Making A Symbiote

With Justice League in the cinemas, Black Panther on its way, and the Infinity War trailer fresh in everyone’s minds, comic book movies are continuing to dominate the box office!

10 years ago, the comic resurgence began with Ironman and it has only gained momentum since then. Movie studios are throwing millions into producing any and all superhero movies to try jump on this money train.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t all been rainbows and shawarma for superhero movies, a fair number of studios have tried and failed to make a good movie with the characters they own. Movies like The Amazing Spiderman and Green Lantern done more damage to their respective characters than good. This led to Sony agreeing to work with Marvel to create a Spiderman movie and include him in the MCU, and we all know what happened to the lead actor from Green Lantern.

But, let’s go back to Spiderman, Sony and Marvel struck a deal which allowed the wall crawler to be included in the apex of the Captain America trilogy and in any MCU movie going forward. Spiderman Homecoming was a box office success and a great coming of age story for our favourite web slinger. The Vulture was a fantastic villain to begin with and was portrayed epically by Michael Keaton. However, for those looking forward to seeing Spidey come up against one of his most fearsome foes, the news is bleak.

Sony announced that they would be bringing the terrifying Venom to the big screen in an R-rated movie which would dip its toe slightly into the horror genre, cue excitement from all Spiderman fans worldwide. The excitement grew when Amy Pascal let slip that Venom may be connected to the MCU Spidey, although Kevin Feige looked a bit surprised. That excitement was then turned to disappointment when Amy and Kevin corrected the statements by saying Venom was in his own universe and would not be connected to the MCU. This statement has caused more confusion than clarity within the comic community. The main question being, how can we have Venom without Spidey? Well, long intro aside, there have been some theories circulating about how this could work. I have decided to write about the theory that gives me the most chills.

They Lied

Possibly my favourite theory circulating is that Amy Pascal was supposed to keep the connection a secret, so they could shock the comic world when Spidey is seen or referenced in the Venom movie. So, could Kevin Feige be playing with our emotions by claiming the hero and his most terrifying villain are not connected?

The biggest issue if Venom and Spiderman are not connected is how they wil do the Symbiotes origin. It is common knowledge that the symbiote attached to Spidey causing him to be more aggressive and powerful before it was eventually rejected by Peter. The symbiote then found a host with a lot of anger and resentment, Eddie Brock. Why is this important? Well Venom gets his whole look and a lot of his power set from that previous connection with Spiderman. This is made evident by the spider logo Venom sports and by the way he grants his new host the ability to web sling.

So, with all this in mind it seems almost impossible to have Venom without Spidey. What if they are building up to Spidey getting that black suit for a very short period to keep the Venom story legit? Avengers Infinity War does not solely take place on Earth, what if Spidey needs to go off world and whilst there he makes the connection with the symbiote? Or, the symbiote could be hitching a ride on the Guardians ship and could make that connection with Peter during a battle scene when he is getting his ass kicked. Both theories have potential but the issue with both is that we would only see that black suit for a very short time before Pete has to separate from it. These theories would be stronger if Avengers 4 or Spiderman 2 were being released before Venom but, they are not. With all this in mind, this theory would be awesome if true, but it just seems to be made implausible by the timeframes of the movies. It could still happen, but Marvel and Sony would need to do something special, so it doesn’t seem forced or rushed which could damage the integrity of their connected franchise.

What do you think of this theory?

Do you feel a Venom movie could still be great without his comic origin?

What theories have you heard?

If you would like me to write about any more theories, leave a comment and I will try get to them all.

Thank you for reading.

By Peter Harte

*Disclaimer: I am just beginning my writing journey and understand this may not be a literary masterpiece. Any feedback is welcome and appreciated. *

Spiderman and Wonder Woman

The most anticipated and most under pressure!

It isn’t often you see the two names in the title mentioned together, unless it’s me talking about my dream team up, but these two premiere characters actually have at least two things in common. They both have movies releasing later this year and their respective movies are both under severe pressure to deliver.

So why exactly are these marketing wet dreams under so much pressure? Well let’s start with Wonder Woman (her movie drops first after all). The plans for a Wonder Woman movie were revealed all the way back in 2014, two years before we would see Gal Gadot don the iconic Amazonian warrior armour and save both Batman’s and Superman’s asses! Gadot was cast as the Amazonian even before the plans for a solo movie were revealed. In December 2013, it was announced that she would take the lasso and play the iconic character in Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice”.

 So, lets fast forward to that movie and skip over all the whining and complaining about her casting seen all over the internet from people who obviously did not research Gal and how perfect she was the role. Dawn of Justice was a movie which a lot of people liked and a lot more people hated, especially one scene where I personally seen the angle they were going for, but I feel it was poorly done. Anyway, that’s for a different post, Wonder Woman was introduced early enough in the movie at a Lex Luthor Jr party looking gorgeous and showing her great cunning by stealing Bruce Wayne’s data stealing device right from under his nose. Wonder Woman would appear again in the film, but it’s the third appearance which stands out when she saves Batman by blocking a Doomsday blast with her gauntlets and looking badass with awesome theme music! She kicked ass in that battle and it made everyone pumped for her solo film.

A quick fast forward again to January 2017 and we are edging closer to the June 2nd release date with excitement and anxiety. The film will be directed by Patty Jenkins who is a very talented director, so why the anxiety? In a recent interview, I conducted for the podcast with comic writer C.E Murphy (which you can listen to here) she explains it. Murphy’s opinion and my own is that if they screw this movie up it will be unforgivable but also it could set the female hero movie industry into reverse. Cast your mind back to Halle Berry in Catwoman, an awful movie with an extremely talented actress who did what she could with the script she had, but ever since that mess Berry was labelled unfit to bring a super heroine to life on the big screen and was not given another comic role.

So why oh why was Ryan Reynolds any different? Green Lantern was an awful movie and they blamed the movie not the talent. I am a big fan of Reynolds and I am overjoyed he got another chance as Deadpool (granted he worked his ass off for the movie and role), but why did he get that chance when Berry did not? And that is where the worry lies, if this movie flops it will not only make the studios think “Women don’t sell comic movies” which will make it a while before we see an attempt at the Amazonian princess again, but it will be a huge dent in the relatively new career of Gal Gadot. There is also the worry for many comic fans of how close will it stay to its source material. I for one believe this movie will kick ass but I am also worried for the iconic character and the talented actress.

No movie could possibly be under as much pressure as that right? Wrong.

Spiderman: Homecoming swings into theatres July 7th this year and is one of the most anticipated and hyped comic movies I’ve seen in a long time. Tom Holland looked the part in Civil War and played both sides of the web slinger better than his two predecessors Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire. In Civil War, we were introduced to our new Spidey and his new suit, the movie also brought the realisation that we would not have to see poor Uncle Ben be shot for the third time, by having Peter reveal he has been Spiderman for about 6 months. There were plenty of other developments on Spidey during his rather short screen time but judging on just those two, we had reason to be excited for his solo run.

The trailer recently dropped for Homecoming where we saw Michael Keating as The Vulture, Donald Glover standing ominously by The Tinkerer, Peter in high school, and WEB WINGS!!! We finally get the classic Spiderman web wings. This trailer made me so hyped I almost decided to steal the movie before its release date. Another reason people are hyped is the fact that Sony finally saw sense and signed a deal with Marvel which gave them creative control and brought the web slinger into the MCU. It’s this partnership which is easing anxiety slightly, but where Sony and Peter Parker are concerned there is always room for errors.

The pressure on this movie comes from a different angle than the pressure on Wonder Woman. Where Diana’s pressure comes from previous female led comic movies being humungous flops, this movies pressure comes from previous Spiderman franchises fizzling out. This will be the third Parker we have seen in the last 15 years and many are hoping it’s the last. Sam Raimi’s trilogy fell flat at the final hurdle by introducing too many villains in one movie so the viewer never really had time to connect or feel much emotion towards any one of them. In that trilogy, Tobey Maguire played Peter Parker relatively well but in this writer’s opinion his Spiderman was average at best.

That is where the second franchise alternated, where Andrew Garfield played the smart mouth Spidey excellently, his Peter was not one that anyone liked to see. Peter Parker is a shy, intelligent, uncool nerd who struggles with women and friends, Garfield’s was a skateboarding hipster who charmed Gwen Stacey way too easily for his character. This franchise however fell to the same problem as the first when Amazing Spiderman 2 decided to try two main villains rather than just one main and one background. It could be said it had three villains if you include the Ace Ventura Rhino in the last scene. This movie had so much promise in using the death of Gwen Stacey (I thought it was maybe too early to try this) but ultimately it fell flat.

Spiderman: Homecoming already has three villains on its roster, however the Tinkerer can be seen as more of an accomplice. This leaves the question will Shocker be a main villain, a filler villain, or a background baddie who we may see more of in the future? So far, the casting seems spot on, the marketing is perfect, the costumes (yes even the black ops Vulture) are on point, and the hype is real! The only thing left to determine is the strength of the script, story, and directing. We will find out on the 7th of July and hopefully we will be talking about how to make the next Spidey film live up to the first.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed.

If you have any comments I will be happy to reply, and do you agree, are these the most anticipated and most under pressure films this year?

Have a wonderful week True Believers.

Challenge Time

So  with the premier of the podcast coming Monday, we thought why not attempt to gain more publici…… I mean why not do something interactive for our listeners over on YouTube?

We have set up our channel and you can subscribe here to keep up with and participate in our *Drum roll please* 30 Day Comic Challenge!

You can participate by tagging us in your challenge videos or tweeting us @SuperiorComic16 using #3oDayComicChallenge .

So I know what you may be thinking right now, what is the challenge? Well let me give you the daily objectives we (And hopefully you) need to discuss in our videos.

  1. Your first comic book.
  2. Your favourite character and why
  3. A comic you think is under-rated and why
  4. Your comic book/character guilty pleasure
  5. What comic character you feel (Or wish) you are most like
  6. Most annoying comic character
  7. Favourite comic couple
  8. The best series being published right now
  9. Most touching comic scene
  10. Your dream VS. match
  11. Favourite animated comic series
  12. A comic you think everyone should read
  13. A comic you have re-read multiple times
  14. Your most recent comic themed wallpaper (Phone, Laptop, Tablet etc.)
  15. An image from a comic you are reading right now
  16. Funniest comic book or comic book scene
  17. Most useless villain
  18. Favourite B-list character
  19. Comic book Universe or City you would like to live in
  20. Favourite super power or skill
  21. Favourite writer
  22. A 2nd volume of a comic which disappointed you
  23. Your favourite comic/cover artist
  24. Dream character team up
  25. A comic you plan on reading (not one you are already collecting)
  26. A comic you wish would get a movie
  27. Favourite comic book movie
  28. Favourite comic publisher
  29. A comic you thought you wouldn’t like but thoroughly enjoyed
  30. Your favourite comic run or series of all time

So these are the objectives per day for the challenge. Your videos or tweets can be short answers or in depth explanations you choose.

We hope this challenge can bring us closer to current and potential followers and give our podcast and blog that interactive feel for you guys and gals.

Start date is Monday 16th of January to give everyone time to get their answers ready and in my case, get a haircut before going on video.

We look forward to seeing and reading your answers 🙂