Different But Not Broken: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Disability

by Jihan Abbas | Originally posted at the Disability Visibility Project

Within the superhero genre, comic books have always strongly connected notions of difference with unique abilities. Villains and heroes alike often find their motivation and power through origin stories that speak to difference or a process of change. Alice Wong wrote a great piece exploring how the mythology behind superheroes is relatable to many disabled people and those who grew up on the outside looking in.

It was our shared interest in disability representation in comic books and the recent expansion of Marvel into television that prompted a back and forth between Alice and I around disability and difference in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While the show first framed itself as an opportunity to view the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D. — the so-called “normal” folks who work behind the scenes in this superhero filled world — it was clear from the beginning that the show was pulling on powerful threads about change, difference, and otherness. While this is not unusual where superheroes are concerned, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. applied these same dynamics to the bureaucracy behind the Avengers. In the first season Phil Coulson’s return from the dead — and the differences in him that resulted from this process, as well as Skye’s mysterious origins — were front and center.

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NOC Recaps Arrow: The Frustration of Justice

Well. That happened. This week’s Arrow threatens to turn the show in a whole new direction. I can’t even begin to guess where they take things next.

Getting to the episode itself, after watching it, I (and trusty Flarrow sidekick Christelle) went back to see a Facebook post Stephen Amell put up earlier in the week to describe the episode.

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Cat’s Out the Bag: Calista Flockhart is in Supergirl

Calista Flockhart is the latest name officially attached to the CBS Supergirl. The Golden Globe-winning actress has been cast as Cat Grant!

Flockhart, most well known from Ally McBeal, Brothers & Sisters, and being the lucky woman who captivated Harrison Ford, will portray Cat Grant as a “self-made media magnate and founder of CatCo” where Kara/Supergirl is her assistant. My first thought: Ohmygod, it’s going to be a superhero Devil Wears Prada, isn’t it?

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How Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Renewed my Love for the MMO

Back in the day, when I played single-player games, most of them were RPGs. My first RPG was Final Fantasy IV (or Final Fantasy II in the U.S.). I fell in love with it instantly and followed the series all the way into the Playstation 2 era.

When Final Fantasy XI was announced, I was completely psyched about it. Final Fantasy XI was to be an MMORPG — a massively multiplayer online RPG. The co-op lover in me squealed — playing an RPG with hundreds of people all over the world? Sign me up!

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Why Suspending Disbelief for Arrow is Becoming an Exercise in Futility

It goes without saying but when it comes to most works of fiction, a suspension of disbelief is needed. This is especially true for the superhero genre. In a world where meta-humans, costumed vigilantes, super-powered terrorists, and mystical leagues of assassins are the norm, it’s rare that the words, “unrealistic” or “illogical” are uttered.

However, as entertaining as Arrow is (and personally I love the show), the show has really been testing said suspension, this season more than ever.

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Aquaman Revealed: All Hail the King

Let me be as transparent as I can about my DC Cinematic Universe gripes.

Superman isn’t that interesting of a character. Peep the last two attempts. While it would be easy to hang the blame on Bryan Singer and Zack Snyder — these directors did not have too much to work with.

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Get Ready for MECCAcon 2015 This September

Comic conventions are like traditional meals. They are either wonderful and make you feel like you’re at home, or they are so terrible they induce nightmares and have you screaming, “You had the ingredients and the recipe. How did you screw up so badly?” From what I’ve been told, MECCAcon is home for a whole lot of people.

This September, Maia Crown Williams — the founder of #MECCAcon2015 and all around comic-culture badass — is making Detroit, Michigan the center of the universe for comic-culture for and by folks of color. While there has been some geeklash about how events like this, BCAF, OnyxCon and others are “exclusive” events; the overwhelming majority of people see the necessity of these events.

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NOC Recaps Arrow: No Longer My Sister’s Keeper

What was immediately fascinating about this episode is how the flashbacks were in Starling City and the present time was on Lian Yu, a cool contrast from seasons 1-2 where it was the reverse. Especially while in the direct middle of the five-year journey. I also noticed that the present and past were a bit more even this episode, as opposed to majority present, minimal past. The focus of both sides of this episode is Oliver’s relationship with his sister. I am so glad that Oliver told Thea the truth once again. As she said, now they truly have no secrets from each other (well, Oliver always has a few up his sleeve).

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Talking about Comic Book Diversity on MSNBC

So that happened.

This morning, I was a guest on msnbc’s The Rundown with Jose Diaz-Balart to talk about the debut of Marvel’s Silk series and diversity in comics in general. Check it out after the break.

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In Defense of Felicity

Badass Digest recently wrote a piece explaining how Arrow has “failed” Felicity Smoak in its third season. It brings up a lot of great points about the ways in which her character has changed, but I think it unfairly places the blame on the Oliver/Felicity relationship, when I think things are a bit more complicated than that. Sara’s death, pieces of Felicity’s (of the admittedly little) backstory that we know, and the overall darkness of the season all help push Felicity to a darker place this season. And I think that’s okay for the show overall.

The piece, which you should click through to read, explains that once Felicity and Oliver had their failed date and Oliver pumped the breaks on any relationship between them going forward, Felicity became a “woman scorned.”

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