Watching Loki: S1E6 For All Time. Always.

Spoiler warning, obviously.


But first, a bit of space.

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I had some good conversations after episode 5, so I’m going into this episode with a bit of headcanon. It seems clear to me after “Journey into Mystery” that the person behind the TVA must be a Loki; it’s the logical extension of what they built up there. My preferred outcome is that Mobius is actually the Son of Loki and Sylvie and he’s been the driving force behind the TVA from the start with the goal of bringing about the circumstances of his own birth. That’s not very likely because it doesn’t fit into the larger MCU narrative and because this is more about alternate realities than time travel. If you haven’t, you should read “By His Bootstraps” and “…All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein and while you’re at it, watch Predestination. In that order.
But onto the episode.

It’s interesting seeing Loki and Sylvie on the cusp of realizing their goals become hesitant before they enter the suspiciously gothic castle.


The two statues we see as they enter are reminiscent of Sylvie when we first saw her. Their faces are clocks which is a cool juxtaposition.

Miss Minutes is clearly Satan.

Actually, to borrow a line from The West Wing, Miss Minutes is the guy who runs into the 7-11 to get Satan a pack of cigarettes.

“He who Remains.” Hurm. Could still be a Loki I suppose. So far, pretty cagey. Nice office though. Very Sanctum Sanctorum.

B-15’s scene in 2018 is a nice development, showing the other Hunters Ravonna’s pre-variant self, a high school principal(?) in Ohio. The diploma on the wall says “Rebecca Tourminet.” That’s an alias that the comic book Ravonna used when she was hiding in 1905 in the “Terminatrix Objective.” Checking the source material those do not look good. It was in the middle of the Cross-Time Kang storyline which I remember being tedious. This is a still stronger reference to Kang the Conqueror though.

Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective (1993). Own ‘em. Probably read ‘em. No memories whatsoever.

“I already know what’s going to happen” is a standard time-travel trope. Here it’s a pale reflection of Doctor Who’s “Blink.

He Who Remains is Kang, (really Immortus as he appears here). It was always the most obvious answer but that doesn’t mean it will be bad. Here he’s laying out the Cross-Time Kang storyline; I hope they can do that better. That story led to the Council of Reeds which I thought was pretentious but THAT led to the Council of Ricks which is great.

Quick aside: I’ve mentioned Hiddleston and Wilson before but Sophia Di Martino and Jonathan Majors and a bunch of others are terrific. This is a strong cast from top to bottom.

“Why would you give up being in control?” is a very Loki question. Sylvie wouldn’t ask that which is part of the reason they could work as a team.

Shades of Doctor Manhattan. “The threshold” is crossed and the time master no longer knows what will happen. That must be a standard part of that trope but I can’t think of another example, although Asimov’s “The Dead Past” has a similar device in the other temporal direction. Never mind. “By His Bootstraps” again. Right there at the end but in a much more organic way.

A “bazillion boogymen” sounds much better in a British accent.

Sylvie and Loki’s debate is authoritarianism vs. anarchy again. Until it isn’t.

I kind of love that Kang thinks this is all funny even to his death.

Tom Hiddleston is a good actor even when he’s just sitting there.

That’s a chilling moment at the end when Mobius doesn’t remember Loki and then worse when we see the fiction of the Time Keepers replaced with a version of He Who Remains looking much more Kang-Like than Immortus.

And Loki’s made the switch from being a budding authoritarian to being a revolutionary. Season 1’s Sylvie may foreshadow season 2’s Loki. Assuming that all this isn’t resolved in Doctor Strange: The Multiverse of Madness.

This is a great end to an excellent season.

Episode:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Season:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E5: Journey into Mystery

Spoiler Alert!

Nice title. “Journey into Mystery” was Thor’s original comic; that’s especially nice with Richard E. Grant playing Classic Loki.

Ravonna is a skilled liar.

I love that the Alligator with the horns is also a Loki. I approve of making things just a little more surreal.

Also, I had been hoping that the guy with the hammer was a Thor but he’s a Loki too. I’m now convinced that Sylvie really is a Loki herself.

I guess that the Thanos Copter is the big Easter egg that everybody was excited about. Yawn. But we do get a glimpse of Mjolnir and Frog Thor. Better.

Sylvie’s self-pruning is a gutsy move; trusting Ravonna even in that was risky.

Classic Loki’s story involves being captured by the TVA and “pruned” after ending a self-imposed exile. God of Outcasts. But he inspires Main Loki to confront Alioth.

We get Sylvie in the void. And a better look at Alioth. I hope it’s Mobius in that car. And it is. Nice.

I’m pretty sure Alligator Loki is the best character. Classic Loki’s reflections are interesting. “We’re broken. Every version of us.”

Sylvie and Loki have some synergy themselves. They both independently decide to confront Alioth.

I had to look this up but the Eldridge is the ship from the Philadelphia Experiment. Real ship, probably fake experiment though.

Sylvie keeps getting better as a character.

Nice exchange between Classic Loki, Kid Loki, and Mobius. “It’s never too late to change.” That’s a nice setup for the Loki and Sylvie conversation.

The battle with Alioth is a good action sequence and Classic Loki gets his moment in the sun turning the tide. Recreating Asgard is a big distraction and visually stunning. And the music, strongly evocative of Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries is a nice touch. “I think we’re stronger than we realize.”

Classic Loki brings himself full circle, ending another exile by sacrificing himself. A pivotal character.

Everything is tinged green befitting the Lokis’ victory over Alioth and we see the episode title wasn’t just a nice nostalgic reference. Loki and Sylvie get to travel beyond the void to confront whoever is behind the TVA. The Journey into Mystery continues.

We’re perfectly set up for the finale.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E4: The Nexus Event

A lot is going on in this episode and there are a lot of reveals that I’ll try to be somewhat vague about. Still… spoiler warning. Less speculation this time. Probably.

If that little girl is Silvie, that makes it all the more dubious that she’s a Loki. But she’s Asgardian so maybe…. I have to wonder how much variation from the “sacred timeline” is allowable or even possible. This seems inconsistent with previous episodes.

I don’t believe the thing about C-20. But I don’t think we’re supposed to.

The destruction of Lamentis, by the way, is spectacular.

Seeing Sif was a nice surprise. This might fast-forward some character development for Loki.

It is clear Ravonna is up to something and that something is up with B-15.

Again Wilson and Hiddleston are spectacular together. Good subtle performances.

Ravonna is still acting suspiciously. She seems to have a strong connection to Mobius. It makes me wonder, what if Mobius ends up being Kang? That’s not a casting choice I see them making, but it would be interesting.

It was pretty obvious what was up with B-15 but we get confirmation at Roxxcart. And Mobius ties all that together with the lie about C-20.

One of the Time Keepers has a Mark Gruenwald mustache. That’s a nice touch. Also, Time Keepers. Called it.

Wow. Did not see that coming! Watch the episode.

Big reveal after the credits. Maybe Sylvie’s a Loki after all. There’s a nice nod to Journey into Mystery that might tell us something about Richard E. Grant’s character and also perhaps something that will drive the white supremacists crazy.

I’m on the edge of my seat metaphorically.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E3: Lamentis

Spoiler Warning!

This is about 10 minutes shorter than the first two episodes.

We rush straight into TVA headquarters: the Variant does not kid around, and she takes down a crowd of guards with no magic and no mercy.

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The Variant’s headgear is interesting; one of the horns is broken. So she’s a Loki but broken or different. Distinctly different; that much was already clear.

“Don’t call me Loki! Don’t call me Variant!” She’s Sylvie. That will cut down on the confusion. She and Loki are evenly matched, but far more different from other Lokis than I think we’ve seen in the comics. She’s far more direct and much more of an anarchist than Loki who, ultimately is a megalomaniac.

These two are different enough that I have to wonder if they really are versions of the same individual. If they are that calls into question the whole notion of a sacred timeline. The flawed headgear could be telling us that they’re not the same; her story is broken.

There’s a Sylvie in the comics, but she’s an Earth teenager given Asgardian powers by Loki. A later version of the Enchantress. That may or may not be a clue.

Lamentian society as commentary lacks subtlety. It smacks you in the face with class privilege. Traveling to an arc so you can escape the destruction of your planet isn’t the time or place for luxury.

More differences: Sylvie doesn’t know her mother. That’s kind of chilling since that small nascent spark of decency in Loki mostly came from Frigga. Assuming she’s really a Loki. The broken horn would fit a missing parent symbolically though.

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Meanwhile, their plan to use the Arc to recharge the TemPad and escape Lamentis is extremely cold-blooded, even if everybody on board is fated to die anyway.

We get more clues that the TVA or at least the Time Keepers aren’t on the up-and-up.

A lot of this episode felt like an homage to the new Doctor Who that didn’t quite land but the episode was necessary; we needed to learn about Sylvie and we did. And the sense that nothing is as it seems has intensified somewhat. I’m still fully engaged.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E2: The Variant

Spoiler Warning.

I’ve been to Oshkosh. It doesn’t look anything like this. And I’m immediately reminded of Sheldon dressed as Spock at the Renaissance Fair.

“I Need a Hero” playing over the first scene is out of place unless it’s setting up a twist. An interesting thing about this show is that it isn’t clear who are actually the good guys.

Main-Loki goes into action with the TVA. His jacket begs the question: to which version is the title referring? Probably all of them. Loki’s fascinating on this mission; it’s clear he’s playing games even before they tell us.

I’m struck that the Time-Keepers may be an elaborate hoax. Looking it up, that’s not consistent with the comics. But they’re building up a sense of mystery about them. It will be interesting one way or the other.

I loved watching Loki’s face fall as Mobius perfectly laid out his plan. The dialogue in this scene is terrific; Wilson and Hiddleston together are a joy to watch.

Another image of Loki being tiny in his surroundings, this time with the Time-Keepers in the foreground. The look of the TVA is even more impressive this time, all vastness and grandeur.

That idea with hiding in the apocalypses is inspired.

It’s low-rent philosophizing, but I really enjoyed the conversation about mythologies and how ridiculous they all are. Also, now we’re discussing the Time-Keepers as mythology.

The name Ravonna just clicked. That’s the princess Kang the Conqueror was in love with during some of his early appearances (See Avengers (1963) #23). Of course, Kang/Immortus has links to the Time-Keepers. Unravel the threads far enough and we find Doctor Doom and the Fantastic Four I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the name “Nathaniel Richards.”

There’s lots of use of the term “Superior Loki.” Loki uses that term when there is a picture of Spider-Man in his black suit prominently in the background. A combined reference to two instances where Peter’s mind was somehow compromised, namely the Superior Spider-Man and the Symbiote. Clue? Misdirect?

I suspect the big reveal is why people love this episode and it’s pretty good but not particularly earth-shattering when we consider what we know about Loki from the comics.

But alternative Loki is demonstrated to be a badass. And when we see the TVA starting to react to the Variant’s attack, it’s the first time the surroundings seem cramped and mundane.

I’m psyched for episode 3.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Previous Episode:

Watching Loki S1E1: Glorious Purpose

Spoiler Warning.

The first new image of the series is a bug, reflected in a drop of water. Hmmm…

Loki arrives in the Gobi Desert

It’s a nice touch that they took the long shot of #Loki’s arrival; we see he’s tiny in this context. His landing is reminiscent of Iron Man 1.

We jump into action right away. I remember the Time Variance Authority (TVA) from the comics but only vaguely. Looking them up, there’s some good stuff (She-Hulk) and some egregious nonsense that I really didn’t care for. That might have been it’s precursor, the Dimensional Development Court which originated in MarvelUK’s Captain Britain stories.

There’s a cat. I hope we get more of the cat.

The informational video has the feel of a 1950s cold war propaganda video. In fact the whole TVA has a Twilight Zone vibe.

A less frenetic Owen Wilson is new but welcome.

As he traverses the TVA bureaucracy it becomes clear to us. Loki is like the bug we first saw; a distorted reflection with no ability to affect anything.

I suppose the sacred timeline must be the single one where the Avengers were able to beat Thanos. Maybe?

I did kind of enjoy it when Loki got the upper hand on Hunter B-15. In retrospect. When it was clear she survived.

The denouement of the episode is Loki gaining some self-awareness and realizing he’s the bug in this scenario. “I don’t enjoy hurting people… it’s part of the illusion. It’s the cruel, elaborate trick conjured by the weak to inspire fear.” Maybe. You really never can tell with this guy.

But he’s about to get some agency by joining an agency. Stay tuned.

So far not as weighty as #FalconAndWinterSoldier, not as emotionally resonant as #WandaVision but good solid entertainment. Strong performances all around.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Next Episode:

Election Day Reruns

“If you haven’t read it, it’s new to you” to paraphrase an old NBC slogan that really seemed to piss people off at the time.

I hope you’re enjoying Election Day, especially geeking out on the politics if that’s your thing.

While I finish up my last projection and final prediction, here are some old election related blog posts you might like. They’re pretty good if I do say so myself. I really wanted to update “Vote Anyway” for 2020 but sadly, time got away from me.

Enjoy!

59 Years of the Fantastic 4

Happy Belated Fantastic Four Day! Fifty-nine years ago this week Fantastic Four #1 hit the stands and to quote Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew, “Nuthin’ was ever gonna be quite the same again.” The Fantastic Four is one of those things that I’ve liked as long as I remember. As a kid, I knew them first from their 1967 animated series. I don’t remember it that well; (it’s not like we form a lot of detailed memories when we’re three), but I liked it. Here are three personal firsts that are related to the Fantastic Four to mark the anniversary.

My First Fantastic Four Comic

The first Fantastic Four comic I remember buying was Fantastic Four #126 (September 1972). This was about a year before I decided I was “officially” collecting comics; I was getting comics pretty sporadically at the time. But what an amazing place to start! Inside, the title is “The Way It Began!” and the cover is a stunning recreation of Kirby’s cover to FF#1 drawn by the inimitable team of John Buscema and Joe Sinnott. This comic defined my mental picture of the FF for all time.

The story is good as well. Initially, Roy Thomas treats us to the standard flavor of family brouhaha with which Lee and Kirby brilliantly began so many issues. Reed tinkers and then does the absent-minded-professor thing. Ben and Johnny bicker. Sue tries to keep things on track. Also Alicia. Classic. This leads us into a framing sequence where Ben is reminiscing using Reed’s thought-projector helmet which does exactly what one would expect a thought-projector helmet to do.

The thought-projector helmet… erm… projecting thoughts.

Ben then narrates a shortened version of the origin from FF #1, which ends with the iconic image below. I expect that many copies of this issue are missing this page; it’s one of the quintessential team pin-ups.

Short summaries of the team’s first encounter with the Mole Man and the Mole Man story from issues 88-90 follow. In that last story, the Mole Man uses a device that blinds the team and Ben has an epiphany. If the Mole Man’s device can blind and cure the team, maybe he can use it to cure Alicia’s blindness. He storms off intending to help her.

After a year or two, FF #126 was made into one of those Power Records sets with the recorded dialogue. If Johnny’s voice sounds familiar, that’s Peter Fernandez, aka Speed Racer! (The “!” may be obligatory). Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can experience the entire issue with the dialogue abbreviated somewhat here.

My First Blog Post.

Two years ago Marvel published a facsimile edition of Fantastic Four #1, part of the promotion for the latest series of Fantastic Four that started shortly thereafter. That seemed like a big deal at the time. “The World’s Greatest Comix Magazine” had been off the market since April 2015 because some executive at Marvel was having a pissing match with 21st Century Fox and didn’t want to do anything to promote Fox’s latest FF movie including publishing their own flagship title.

Anyway, I’d wanted to review the Facsimile edition. I’d previously done some short reviews that I posted on Facebook, like this one and this one here, but a Facebook post was utterly unsuitable for what I wanted to do for the Facsimile edition. I wrote All In Color for Forty Dimes and a week or so later I had a blog. This blog.

My First Fan Letter

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The letter itself is pretty self-explanatory. It wasn’t printed because as I now realize it’s much too long. For your edification, an open letter to Dan Slott, referencing Fantastic Four (2018) #2. What do you need to know about the book to appreciate the letter? Not too much. This is the first time we’ve seen Reed, Sue, and the kids since Secret Wars. They, along with Molecule Man and the Future Foundation have been rebuilding the multiverse one universe at a time. Franklin rebuilds the universes and then the group explores them; they’ve been at it for five years or so and time seems to have passed more quickly for them than it has on Earth. Franklin and Valeria are teenagers.

At some point, Franklin loses the ability to create universes. Evidently, all is now right with the multiverse; Franklin is done.

And the “Multiverse” has to fight back as the personification of one of the fundamental forces of nature.

Confrontation commences. It’s not pretty. Then this.

You can read the rest for yourself; here’s my letter.

Dear Dan,

Fantastic Four has been my favorite comic for almost forty years.  I’m thrilled to have Fantastic Four back on the spinner racks; the Marvel Universe doesn’t work correctly without its first family.  When I heard that you’d be helming the book, I was pleased.  You always seemed to have a good understanding of the characters; from their guest appearances in Amazing Spider-Man, to your 8-issues on The Thing and everything in between.

Issue 1 was an unadulterated pleasure.  I also really enjoyed issue 2, but there was one false note I’d like to address.

Reed is a tricky character to write; this was never more evident than in Civil War.  Tony is an engineer who thinks pragmatically.  His position in Civil War made sense.  Reed by contrast thinks like an academic working forward from first principles.  He has strong sense of right and wrong.  He should have been the first person to come over to Cap’s side, rather than the last.  Reed’s characterization in that series is wildly off the mark, it’s almost closer to Victor than it is to Reed.  Civil War 2, incidentally, showed us how necessary the Four are to the Marvel Universe.  In that series, Reed was the person we needed to refute Carol’s arguments, but Reed was unavailable.

So what didn’t ring true in FF #647/2?  That Reed would bypass 208 realities teeming with life to secure a better chance of saving the rest.  Reed decides things based on principles, not pragmatics.  When Galactus lay dying, it was Reed who insisted on saving him despite the risk; Tony, the pragmatist, was overruled.  Reed is confident; he strode into the afterlife without hesitation to save Ben.  We see this confidence after the Future Foundation was routed by the Griever.  It should have been evident before then.  Reed doesn’t make tactical retreats nor does he take the easy way out.  In the Galactus Trilogy, a tactical decision might have been to try to quickly develop a way to preserve some life, while Galactus consumed the Earth’s energy.  Instead Reed confronted Galactus with the Ultimate Nullifier.  A riskier decision, but one that preserved virtually all life on Earth.

I hope this is helpful.  Aside from this, these first two issues were like a trip home.  You have to be careful writing Reed.  When you start pulling parts out of what makes him Mr. Fantastic, you could end up with the Maker and that would be a travesty.

Joseph F. Kolacinski
Horseheads, NY

Reed’s characterization has been hit-or-miss for a while; at least since Civil War. One of those posts that’s been waiting in the wings is called “Writing Reed Right,” but that’s a big undertaking. I don’t even have a guess as to when that might be finished.

Where’s a thought-projection helmet when you need one? I hope you enjoyed my reminiscences. We’re now on a twelve-month countdown to the 60th anniversary. We’ll need something pretty big for that. Any suggestions? Do you remember your first Fantastic Four comic? Let us know in the comments!

Marvel Action: Captain Marvel

Two things that you should know about me: I like cats and I like comics. One of my favorite novels is The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein because it features, in Petronius the Arbiter, possibly the greatest cat character in all of literature. Combining these two interests, I recently did a pretty extensive overview of Chewie the Cat from Captain Marvel for this very blog. You can find it here: The Book of Goose.

Petronius, from the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1956
Image result for marvel action captain marvel

So, when I saw the cover of Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #1, I knew I had to pick up a copy. Sadly, it’s insipid; the very thing I feared back when Disney first bought Marvel.

I’m not really a fan of Disney the corporation. Walt, as far as I know, was great. From his drive to make his parks amazing to the “this-is-how-we’ll-go-to-Mars” programs with Werner Von Braun to the whole cryogenics thing. Fascinating stuff from end to end. But in high school, I would occasionally read the Mickey Mouse strip in the Sunday paper and it was terrible. It was unfunny, preachy and an insult to the intelligence of anyone who happened to read it. When The Tao of Pooh was on the best seller list and I decided to write a parody called The Hedonism of Tigger with the premise that, to borrow a different metaphor, eastern philosophy is Mr. Miyagi while America philosophy is Cobra Kai. It never got written but while I was thinking about the project, I did buy and read Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. When I did, I realized how diminished these works were in the Disney adaptations I had liked as a kid. When you watch the original Disney Pooh shorts, Tigger, for example, is merely the wacky, gregarious comic relief who likes to bounce.

Image result for a a milne tigger

In the original books, Tigger has a child-like quality that to me comes across as a charming innocence. He’s a much richer character and he still loves to bounce. Occasional, accidental encounters with bits of the Disney Afternoon in the days before TiVo convinced me that, at least in the 90s, modern Disney entertainment was predominantly an empty vessel.

Let me back up a bit. What the hell am I reading? It’s not your everyday Marvel Comic. Disney has thankfully left those pretty much alone. The “Marvel Action” line is a collection of comics featuring Marvel characters that are not published by Marvel. Disney has licensed the characters to IDW and according to the descriptions on line, these carry an “all ages” rating. I think I understand that; early Warner Brothers’ cartoons were delightful and entertaining for kids but they also contained plenty of entertainment value for adults as well. Older viewers might recognize Edward G. Robinson or characters taken directly from Of Mice and Men. And who could forget this masterpiece, which makes a pretty salient point about the Arms Race?

But that doesn’t seem right. Other descriptions suggest that this comic is for “Middle grades” and I discover that that means ages 8 to 12. Middle grades, I guess, for back in the long-long-ago when elementary school lasted until grade 8. That doesn’t seem right either. I started reading comics when I was 8 and even then I can’t imagine having the patience for this comic. I still remember reading the three comics pictured below when I was 8 and I enjoyed them.

Those were far more complex than Marvel Action: Captain Marvel. Maybe I’m wrong about what “all ages” means. Maybe it means “really little kids.” I look up some lists of “all ages books.” Nope. My first thought was right. Harry Potter and The Hobbit aren’t my cup of tea, but they’re interesting. Shel Silverstein makes my skin crawl but ditto. I know I could sit down right now with a Dr. Seuss, or Where The Wild Things Are or Harold and the Purple Crayon and enjoy it. The Winnie-the-Pooh books are excellent! And evidently there’s something called Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. I want to read that right now! Why does the pigeon want to drive the bus? Does it even have a license? Is the regular driver ill? I want to know! All of this is great stuff. Sadly, what’s not great is Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #1.

IDW’s Captain Marvel is exactly like the Disney Afternoon shows from the 1990’s. Simplistic and uninteresting. There are no layers, no nuance, nothing to interest anyone other than small children. I also find the art off putting. It looks rushed to me. More distracting is the fact that the two main characters are women, presumably in their early 30s, and they’re drawn like children. I’ve seen some of Sweeney Boo’s other work and it’s far better.

Seriously, what’s even going on here?

Clearly this comic wasn’t written for me, not even 8-year old me, but it might be fine for little kids. The cats are cute and there’s a thread of story. And if there’s anything that would intrigue small children about the Captain Marvel story, it would be Goose. Or Chewie. Whomever. So, that’s a good place to start and the book works somewhat well on that level. But it’s a weak effort that diminishes the Marvel brand and I worry what the long term effects of that might be.

Bottom Line:

References:

When Jonah Learned Peter is Spider-Man

This was initially published in a slightly altered form on Quora.

SpiderMan: Far from home | cameo J. Jonah Jameson ...

I hope everyone who’s planning to see Spider-Man: Far From Home has seen it by now. (If not, Spoiler Alert! Stop reading!) If you have, you know that the mid-credits scene involves J. Jonah Jameson broadcasting Peter’s identity to the world. We won’t know how that will play out until Spider-Man: The Cows Come Home or… Spider-Man: Phone Home or… Spider-Man: Something Else Home (I don’t know the title. I’m just guessing.) but maybe the comics can give us a hint. Maybe not. The MCU is a very different place from Marvel’s mainstream continuity; in particular, it seems far more hostile to secret identities. Let’s check it out anyway, just for fun.

As far as I know, Jonah learned Peter’s secret twice. The first time was in Civil War (2006) #2 and simultaneously in Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #533. To set the stage, Peter had been working with Tony at Stark Enterprises. The universal brouhaha over the Super-Hero Registration Act began with Tony leading the Pro registration forces. He convinces Peter to reveal his identity in a televised press conference as part of the Act’s media strategy.

Jonah watched this on television, it goes more or less the way you’d expect.

So, Jonah’s more hurt than angry, but he’s still angry. He sues Peter for fraud asking for the money he’d paid for photographs of Spider-Man over the years. When Robbie Robertson stands up to Jonah, arguing that the vendetta has gone too far, Jonah fires him.

Of course, Jonah forgets about Peter’s secret identity after it’s magically made secret again in the One More Day storyline.

I don’t believe that Peter would actually reveal his identity on television; he was famously careful about his secret identity and always refused to put his loved ones at risk. Still, the writers laid some groundwork for the decision and the reveal was one of the few compelling things about Civil War.

Back to the topic at hand. Time passes. Jonah has a heart attack, and the Bugle is sold out from under him. He becomes Mayor of New York City; his wife, Marla dies; he is forced out of office and becomes a commentator on The Fact Channel. Meanwhile, Aunt May meets, falls in love with and marries John Jonah Jameson Sr. This makes Jonah and Peter family in a very real sense. Functionally, they’re step-brothers. Not long before Jonah learns Peter’s secret a second time, his father dies, Marla is resurrected and dies again and Jonah is fired from the Fact Channel, after which he begins writing a blog. Also, at some point, his adopted-daughter died. Whew. Comics… am I right?

Spoiler Alert here, by the way. If you haven’t read Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (2017) by Chip Zdarsky, go get the trade paperbacks or track down the back issues or something. It’s great. Especially issue #310 which just won the Eisner Award for Best Single Issue. I’ll wait.

So then, how does the second time that JJJ discovers Peter’s secret come about?

It starts in issue #5 of the aforementioned series; Jonah is on the verge of breaking a big story and needs to talk to Spider-Man. It’s about someone Peter is trying to help and Jonah agrees to share what he knows.

The interview takes up most of issue #6, (which is the other highlight of the series btw). It’s interesting and turns into quite a heart to heart. There are some expected dimensions and some that are less expected, like Peter admitting to Jonah why he became a crimefighter.

And of course, it gets heated.

Eventually, Peter realizes just how miserable Jonah is, “M-my father is dead! My daughter is dead! The Bugle, the only thing worth a damn in the world, has rejected me! My wife is dead! My wife is dead… Interview’s over! I’ve got — got nothing in my life now! You win —”

“You’re not!” I find this far more believable than the incident in Civil War. This action is born out of compassion and maybe a little responsibility. That’s exactly who Peter is.

And it pays off in an unexpected way. Without going into much detail (seriously get it, read it! This is not a paid endorsement!), Peter’s immediately put in danger because of the interview. In the next issue, (number 279 #MarvelMath) he temporarily gets clear and then this happens.

Jonah helps. He knows Peter and very clearly trusts him and on some level, he probably wants to make amends for what he’s done to Peter over the years.

This starts a new dynamic and Jonah becomes a sort of a side-kick, around frequently and determined to help Peter be a better hero. It’s delightful. This is from # 309.

It’s still noticeably Jonah. He’s still headstrong. He’s still sure he’s smarter than Peter. He still fails to think things through carefully. But after almost 60 years, it’s really nice to see a new dynamic between these two characters. I’m a bit disappointed that we haven’t seen more of this in Amazing Spider-Man and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, but I hope this is the new status quo for years to come.

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