Strip Talk #27: My predictions for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers: Endgame is out of theaters. Marvel actors have gone on to new projects and “the snappening” is now but a distant memory. There’s no more anticipation of the next dreadful thing from Thanos and whether our favorite superheroes are coming back to life. Now that the hubbub has died down, let’s take a realistic look at the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We know that certain properties have been given solid release dates or at least have been announced. Various TV shows — WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier — have been announced as in development and coming to Disney+. Several movies including the highly anticipated Black Panther sequel and the Black Widow standalone film have been detailed with release dates as part of the upcoming phases. But, while we know projected dates, we don’t know much about the characters coming and the new villains. This is where the speculation begins.

My takes on the new phases, you ask?

1. I know who the Eternals are. They are the next big ensemble group coming up. My biggest worry is that no one will get them, and they will be compared to the previous Avengers even though they aren’t Avengers at all;

2. There will be a new set of Avengers. You saw this concept when Civil War hit with the training of new members such as Falcon and Scarlet Witch. Though Endgame went with Falcon as the new Captain America — bypassing the Winter Soldier’s time with the shield — Bucky will get his chance to wield the vibranium. Also, Captain Marvel will join and there will be another Iron Man or Iron Person, if they’re following the comics;

3. Steve Rogers will find a way to come back. Given that the character has been killed at least once in the comics and returned — after considerable backlash — there must be some form of Steve Rogers somehow. I give it a few years before they throw a boatload of cash at fan favorite Chris Evans to come back and reprise our favorite souped-up star-spangled patriot.

4. Black Panther 2 will make just as much money as the first movie, if not more. As a black comic book fan, I know I contributed about $200 of its initial run. I went to see it no less than five times and bought it on DVD. I don’t do that with most movies. Black Panther is the exception to that rule. I intend to contribute further to one of the best superhero origin stories I have ever seen. Buy black y’all;

5. The next big villain of the MCU will be Galactus. He is the only other overarching villain that I can think of that would threaten the Marvel universe on the cosmic scale. This, of course, would mean Silver Surfer would have to be introduced as well as the Fantastic Four. Given that the Fantastic Four’s reboot didn’t do so hot recently, it’s a longshot for them. But they’re needed to pull off Silver Surfer, kind of;

6. The X-Men will get pulled back to prominence. Now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, guess who can come back to the Marvel universe and be done correctly? Our favorite mutants will enjoy the benefits of tight writing and smart casting. There will be abundant Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen to go around and origin stories will be wonderful and plentiful, filled with accuracy and correct mutant powers; and,

7. With the X-Men does come a powerful villainous duo, who have been featured in some of the versus games: Apocalypse and Onslaught. These two are powerful enough on a cosmic scale (beyond an Omega-level mutant) to wreak appropriate havoc and cause mass widespread destruction, much like Thanos did. It remains to be seen who will emerge from that core, but if the X-Men come so does Magneto, who you need to create Onslaught. Both characters are a menace, not just to the X-Men but to all the Marvel universe.

So, with my predictions cast, I’m watching any Marvel casting news to see if any of these come true immediately. For the long-term, we’ll just have to see how this goes and if Marvel follows the same pattern that it did with introducing Thanos in the first ensemble movie and then using subsequent character sequels to build up to his main plan.
If you can’t tell easily, I’m excited as a true believer.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh [at] gaminginsurrection.com

Strip Talk #26: The DC universe could learn some lessons from Marvel

The DC Universe is at a crossroads I guess you could say. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has enjoyed unparalleled success, the DCU has all but died an ignominious death. Suicide Squad: flop. Batman vs. Superman: flop. Superman: flop. Justice League: flop. Aside from Wonder Woman, the Dark Knight trilogy and Aquaman, the DCU hasn’t been able to touch the prosperity of the MCU. There are reasons for this, but to keep this short, I’ll name just a few.

  1. The director carousel is too much. There are too many names involved in projects and there are too many of the same names popping up that shouldn’t. Brett Ratner. Seriously? Zak Penn? Joss Whedon? With the exception of Penn, all of these directors are problematic in their own right, and Ratner is an absolute joke who managed to somehow screw up X-Men: The Last Stand so terribly a whole new movie was done to counteract it.
  2. Despite having recognizable characters, DC doesn’t know what to do with them. Superman is the most obvious out of them all, mostly because they don’t seem to know how to write Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Batman is second given the number of different actors to play him. The Green Lantern should have been easy to write, but that flopped a decade ago and they haven’t returned to him since.
  3. Consistency isn’t in DC’s wheelhouse. All of their movies suffer from some type of inconsistency, whether it’s writing the overall plot or character motivation. DCU cannot seem to get it together when it comes to establishing and staying with a character over the course of more than one movie.

With the myriad issues surrounding the DC Universe, it’s a wonder there are films in the pipeline, but there are. Shazam is shaping up, there will be a sequel to Wonder Woman and Aquaman performed reasonably well to probably warrant a sequel as well. However, there have been other downturns: Henry Cavill is out as Superman as is Ben Affleck as Batman. Jared Leto’s Joker was panned but Joaquin Phoenix may be able to rescue the character.

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but I’m imploring the DC Universe loreholders to take notes on Marvel’s Phase Three and pay attention to how a comic book film should be done. It’s made Marvel buckets of money over the past 10 years. Obviously, someone over there has created the Super Soldier Serum of Movie Success and succeeded in perfecting it.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh@gaminginsurrection.com

Strip Talk #24: Get ready for the deluge of comic book movies

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineThe deluge of comic book movies these days is like heaven-sent mana for a geek like myself. The sheer volume alone is overwhelming, and the majority of them happen to be good. I will properly confess that I wasn’t anticipating the quality of the majority, but it’s a welcome problem to have because it could always be worse.

If your name is Marvel, you have done extraordinarily well. Basically, everything they touch is gold. Captain America: Civil War was HUGE; we’re talking billions in box office receipts. Even the B-Team movies (i.e. the spinoffs) such as Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy have exceeded expectations and made buckets of money for the Marvel brand. So, we’re good here because just about everything about Phase III is going to translate into critical acclaim and financial windfall.

If your name is DC, you have some issues and we have concerns about you going forward. DC’s cinematic universe just can’t seem to get it right, whether it’s the poor characterization of Superman’s solo film, the tepid Batman vs. Superman or the silliness of Suicide Squad. It seems that DC is struggling to tell even the most basic stories about its legendary stable of heroes. Superman’s movies have been mostly miss since the ill-advised reboot attempt in 2006 with Superman Returns. Batman has been mostly good since the Christopher Nolan trilogy wrapped up with Dark Knight Rises, but there is yet another new face under the cowl — Ben Affleck — that’s going to have to carry major burdens. Suicide Squad has been hit or miss, with either enthusiastically great or horrible reviews. DC has got to get its act together if it’s serious about competing with the Marvel juggernaut in any way, shape or form.

If you’re not named either DC or Marvel and you’re producing a comic property, chances are you’re the X-Men or Wolverine. Fox handles the X-Men and it shows immediately that they’re not Marvel (despite being a Marvel property in ink). While First Class and Days of Future Past were wonderful and a great restoration of the X-Men name from the horrific days of Last Stand, the more recent Apocalypse nearly destroyed the goodwill that the franchise has managed to earn back. Poor pacing and character development of prominent X-Men such as Storm and Psylocke does not endear the series to anyone looking to see the merry band of mutants make a comeback. While Deadpool did extremely well for Fox, it’s hard to see where they’re going after this except for more X-Men/Wolverine and more Deadpool.

I’m all for the gaggle of movies expected to release in the next months to few years. By the time you read this, Doctor Strange and Thor: Ragnarok will have been released and we still have on the horizon Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Justice League, Avengers Infinity War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Shazam, The Flash, Aquaman, Justice League 2, Cyborg, Green Lantern Corps, Spider-Man: Homecoming, an Old Man Logan/Wolverine final movie, Ant Man and the Wasp, and several TV properties such as Luke Cage, and future seasons of Jessica Jones, Arrow, the Flash, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dagger and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If that doesn’t keep you busy and informed on comic adaptations, you’re missing quite a bit.

You can’t escape the prevalence of comic books in cinema, especially now that the mainstream public at large is invested in either Marvel or DC and second-tier characters like Groot are household names. You know you’ve jumped into mainstream consciousness when the bandwagon fans are sympathizing with the Winter Soldier without knowing his background and up-to-date biography. But it’s not really for the bandwagoneers, is it? It’s more for us, the comic book faithful who won’t turn down a movie about a superhero because, well, superheroes. I don’t know about you, but I’m about to be a little kid on Christmas morning once again.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at editor@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 8

L continues to inspire justice in Death Note Volume 8

Brandon-2012-cutoutFour years after his death, the world’s greatest detective L continues to challenge Light Yagami in the most intense  game of cat and mouse via his successors. Will L and company triumph or will Light have the last laugh? The answer to these questions awaits in Death Note Volume 8: Target.
Written by Tsugumi Ohba, drawn by Takeshi Obata and published by Viz Media, Death Note Volume 8 lives up to its subtitle. At the end of Vol. 7, we left Light (Kira/the second L) — the newest member of the NPA’s intelligence bureau — unchallenged in making his idea of a crime-free world come to fruition. However, he was unprepared for a two-pronged attack from Mello and Near, L’s true successors. Mello joins with an organized crime group to kidnap Light’s sister, Sayu, while Near gains the support of the president of the United States to form the SPK (Special Provision for Kira). Both parties’ main objective is to capture Kira and the Death Note.
For a brief period, Light and Near cooperate to rescue Sayu while Light’s father, Soichiro, leaves for Los Angeles to deliver their Death Note to Mello’s henchmen. Although Sayu was safely recovered, the notebook fell into the hands of Mello, allowing him and the gang’s boss, Rod Ross, to eliminate individuals who sold various illegal goods without Ross’ permission as well as three senior members of the SPK.
As the psychological warfare continues, U.S. President David Hoope gets thrown into the fray via Mello, whoDeath Note Vol. 8 cover states that his group would give the U.S. Kira’s notebook in exchange for funding, weapons and shared use of the SPK’s satellites. Facing a potential global crisis, President Hoope briefly complies with Mello’s requests but also notifies Light. Light promised to protect the president but also requests use of special forces soldiers to combat Mello and his group. Unfortunately, Mello was able to use the shinigami Sidoh to eliminate the soldiers at the same time President Hoope was eliminated, possibly by Kira (aka Light).
Volume 8 continues the tried-and-true formula that made Death Note a smash success: A great storyline that combines action and mystery with elements of supernatural horror. I still can’t keep my jaw from dropping to the floor when I read about Light and his plans to keep him steps ahead of the task force, Mello and Near while acting as L and Kira. As Death Note continues, you will form a view of Light Yagami: On one side, you admire Light’s intelligence and his just goal to make the world a better place, while on the other side you despise him and root for his downfall.
The art by Obata-san is flat-out awesome, from character design to the locations in America. You will have to give Mello and Near credit; they’ve made some game-changing moves of their own such as Near letting Light take the lead while he still has authority over U.S. law enforcement, while Mello uses the mafia and resources to force the U.S. president to give him money and other support to slow down Kira and Near to stay on top. Viz media, again, did an excellent job of adapting and translating, this time entrusting both tasks to Tetsuichiro Miyaki.
Volume 8 continues the nonstop battle of good vs. evil with the victor claiming the  weapon to END all weapons. While reading, I felt like I got a front-row seat to a three-way battle of devious minds that are determined to be triumphant. Who will prevail?

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached via email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Strip Talk #23: Animated Mario has wins, losses over the years

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineCartoons, to me, fall in the same sphere as anime and comic books. If you tell a good story, I don’t care what medium you choose to tell it in. If it happens to be about something I love, chances are I’m even more for it. So it goes with Mario. I have loved the portly plumber since 1988, the first time I played Super Mario Bros. and died on the first goomba on the first level.
With that love of Mario cemented, I started looking for other avenues in which to pursue my affection. I found them in the only animated Mario show out at the time: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show.
Super Show was fantastic in the fact that Captain Lou Albano and Danny Wells really were Mario and Luigi for the live-action segments, and the animated portion of the show was really well done. Super Show got a lot of things Mario right, despite the combination of the then-unheard of Japanese version of Mario 2, Mario 2 USA and the first game. But, while I loved Super Show, the fever pitch in America for Super Mario Bros. 3 began and it was then that I truly fell in love with animated Mario.
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of my favorite Nintendo-themed properties.
First of all, it was based on Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the greatest games ever made and one of the few The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 games that lived up to the hype that preceded it. Second, the animation was great and really made you think about things from the perspective of the world Mario was in. Sure, I didn’t like the references to the real world because I associate Mario with fantasy and the Mushroom Kingdom, but I could kind of look past all of that so long as it didn’t happen that often. What Adventures did was take the concept of Mario the game to Mario the cash cow, meaning Mario was everywhere at this point. It didn’t hurt that McDonald’s had toys based on the game and TV show in their Happy Meals at this point, either.
After the hype of Adventures died down, though, there wasn’t much animated that I really cared for. Super Mario World’s cartoon didn’t do it for me and it didn’t seem to have the same magic that the previous cartoons captured from the games.
The brief cornucopia of Mario animated brilliance came to an end, and there haven’t been any replacements since. At least the game was fun while it lasted.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh@gaminginsurrection.com

Anime Lounge #13: Free!

Free -- Anime Lounge

Anime-LoungeSeries: Free!

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Three friends — Haruka, Nagisa and Makoto — decide to begin a swim club after a fourth in their group, Rin, reappears in their lives after living abroad and rejects their offer to swim together again. The trio recruit another member, Rei, into their club and begin in earnest to resurrect their old swim club and try to make it to Nationals.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. It’s got competition and friendship, which is standard for most anime these days. Also, if you’re into that sort of thing, the animation used in the muscles in this swimming anime is expertly drawn.

Breakout character: Rin Matsuoka. Rin comes across as a pretty dark jerk, but he’s got his reasons for staying away from the group. He’s interesting and he’s written well because of the realistic way in which he comes back to his roots after a long absence. The struggle is there but the way he manages it makes it worthwhile to keep watching.

Funniest episode: Episode 4, “Captive Butterfly.” It’s all about teaching one of the club members to swim, which is kind of the point of having a swim club in the first place. We won’t reveal which member can’t swim, but the efforts to teach are what make the episode hilarious. Also, searching for the perfect swimsuit in the episode also end in hilarity.

Where it’s going?: The Iwatobi High Swim Club trains hard to make it to Nationals. Their efforts will not go in vain, we promise, and it remains to be seen if they can patch things up with their former friend Rin. How they go about reaching these two goals is the best and brightest part of acquainting yourself with Free!

Otaku Corner: Cosplay is not Consent

Godzilla Guy panel-Otaku Corner

Sean “That Godzilla Guy” McGuinness hosts the “Cosplay is not Consent” panel during Nashicon 2015. | Photo by Brandon Beatty

Say it loud and proud: Cosplay is not Consent

Brandon-2012-cutoutI’m diverting from the normal course of reviewing the latest in anime and manga for a new segment called “the otaku tent.” I’ll give my thoughts on issues that not only affect otaku, but also other fellow fans of geek culture. Don’t worry, Otaku Corner will still do reviews of great anime and manga. This quarter, however, is a topic that affects more than just fans of anime. I feel that as a fan and fellow con-goer, this requires an immediate call to action.

GI Editor-in-Chief Lyndsey Hicks has recently written columns about issues regarding equality in geek culture. Those articles were written not to put down the entire male geek population, but to ensure that no gamer or fellow geek is discriminated against in our diverse-yet-awesome world. After reading her columns, I felt compelled as a fellow gamer/geek to write about a movement called Cosplay is not Consent. While attending Nashicon 2015 in our hometown of Columbia, S.C., Lyndsey and I sat in a CNC panel hosted by fellow Columbian Sean McGuiness. McGuiness is a known fixture in our city’s con scene as “That Godzilla Guy,” who sets up shop at Nashicon and Banzaicon, displaying excellent drawings of the King of Monsters and his cohorts.

During his panel, I learned about CNC and why it was unfortunately created and needed. Last year, there was an attempt of sexual misconduct toward an underage Nashicon attendee. The alleged perpetrator was found and reported to con staff and police, but if that attendee had not spoken up, it would have been a different conclusion. This is sad because incidents like this one are not isolated to Nashicon. In 2013, Seattle’s Aki-con experienced a public relations disaster when a special guest DJ was charged with sexual assault against a minor attendee. Despite his capture, Aki-con’s handling of the situation resulted in Aki-con being liable and losing dedicated attendees.

After the panel, I spoke with McGuiness and learned that cosplayers (especially females) are catching inexcusable levels of hell for either dressing too provocatively or being a poser. To me, a fan is a fan be it either anime or video gamer. It takes CRAZY levels of courage to do a cosplay of a favorite character and brave their way while at cons without the side looks of either an ultra fan or bible-thumper. My fellow geeks, I need to say this: Alienating our own kindred AIN’T COOL. I also have massive beef with dudes that are perverts toward women cosplaying or not.

In my six years writing for GI, I’m VERY fortunate to have learned from a gamer that eats, breathes and sleeps video games and geek culture, and also has the intelligence to make sure that this publication is on the mark in getting to the public on time. With all of the stupidity in our society, I’m glad that people such as Sean McGuiness are stepping up to make our anime — and similar conventions — which we thrive in are welcoming to all. I’m sending out a call to all my gamers, larpers, comic book fan, bronies and all geeks: If we see harassment of another geek, whether it be inappropriate touching or putting down one’s fandom, PLEASE step in or report it to con staff so that they can do what is need to stop it. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, fellow geeks. Let’s step up like our favorite characters and fight against evil. Let’s say to the world COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Anime Lounge #12: Special A Ep. 1-12

Special-A-1-13

Anime-LoungeSeries: Special A

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: A group of extraordinarily talented students are isolated in their school. The group is comprised of the top seven students from each class at Hakusenkan: Kei Takishima, Hikari Hanazono, Jun and Megumi Yamamoto, Tadashi Karino, Akira Toudou and Ryuu Tsuji, and they’re the best of the best within each class. Kei and Hikari, ranked No. 1 and 2, have a longstanding rivalry dating back to childhood and constantly compete against one another in every thing they do. Whether it’s academics or sports, Hikari’s goal is to one day surpass Kei. What Hikari doesn’t realize is that Kei is completely in love with her.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. It’s a major accomplishment when you can tackle a subject such as class warfare and in the same scene have a hilarious gag that makes a viewer laugh out loud. It’s great at being the serious and lighthearted simultaneously, which makes it worthwhile to follow through with the antics of the smart kids.

Breakout character: Kei Takishima. Kei has it all, quite frankly. So why he continues to persist in chasing dense Hikari, we’ll never know. But Kei is the breakout character here because, try as he might, the one thing he is never successful on the first try is getting Hikari to understand his feelings for her. However, Kei is a smooth talker and one of the funniest characters in the series. He’s that likable, which is great considering he’s the lead character.

Funniest episode: Episode 7: “Sensitive ~ Thickheaded.” Hikari tells Kei that she will tell Kei just what she said about him in the previous episode. Since Kei is keen to hear this info — he’s in love with her — Kei engineers a contest that he knows he will probably win with Hikari’s talk being the prize. How he gets her to open up and the lengths he goes to, to get the information from Hikari are absolutely hilarious. Kei will stop at nothing to get her to tell him how she feels about him.

Where it’s going?: Half of the series is left and there are some obvious questions that need to be answered: How does Hikari really feel about Kei? How do the others in the group feel about their potential pairing? Will they actually get together? And how the others in the group faring in their own lives and with each other? The pace picks up in the latter half of the series and it becomes the focal point of the show how things will end between the main characters and their friends.

Otaku Corner: Tenjho Tenge Vol. 2

Tenjho Tenge heats up in second volume of action

Brandon-2012-cutoutWelcome back to another installment of Otaku Corner. This time, we’re going back to school, which means we’re enrolling again at the renowned Todo Academy where students learn the three basics: Reading, writing and ass-kicking (yes, I said ass-kicking.) So, grab your backpacks, bento lunches and your grappling gear because it’s time to check in with the Juken Club in the latest installment of Tenjho Tenge Volume 02: The Battle Bowl.

Based on the manga series by Oh! Great and released by Geneon Entertainment (USA), Tenjho Tenge follows the story of Soichiro Nagi and Bob Makihara (aka the Knuckle Bombs), who plan to add Todo Academy to their list of conquered territory. Their plan quickly falls apart when they meet Aya and Maya Natsume, members of the Juken Club, which stands against the student Executive Council. After altercations with the council, Soichiro and Bob join Aya and Maya along with Masataka Takayanagi to fight the council, unaware that they are now locked in a 400-year battle that has yet to be resolved.

Tenjou Tenge Vol. 2

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

During golden week (Japanese May holiday), the Juken Club begins their training to prepare for future attacks from the Executive Council. At this time, Maya has a great idea to go bowling to give the club a break from training. Unfortunately, the council makes immediate plans to send their forces led by its most terrifying members to crush the Juken Cub for good. In three episodes, the Juken Club are separated from each other facing off the council’s most feared “executioners,” who consist of vice chairman Emi “The Black Blade” Isuzu, who hates Maya with INTENSE passion; Shirō “The Last Samurai” Tagami, who gives Aya a major battle; and, Koji “Saga Mask” Sagara, who challenges Soichiro for free passage into the rest of the bowling alley.

Meanwhile, Bob and Masataka deal some serious damage to the Council’s army while protecting Bob’s girlfriend, Chiaki Kounoike. After their separate victories, the Juken Club looked as if they were going to escape a vicious gauntlet, until the Council’s president shows up ready to deal his own brand of justice.

After watching this volume of Tenjho Tenge, I felt that although the battles were drawn out, they still kept the action intact. I personally like the way episodes were written to give the Juken members a chance to test their new skills while allowing the backstory of the executioners to come full circle, showing the reasons why they fight for the council so much. You’ll still get the usual fan service moments, but the stage is set for future episodes that will deepen the story line. Also, adding more punch for the dollar, three new series coming from Geneon and the non-title ending made me feel that I was not getting a case of buyer’s remorse. Geneon USA and Bang Zoom! Entertainment deserve credit as well with a smooth English adaptation and translation as well as having excellent voice acting from Steve Staley (Soichro), Wendee Lee (Maya) Stephanie Sheh (Aya), Johnny Yong Bosch (Masataka) and Jamison Price (Bob). Credit also goes to Kate Higgins, Paul St. Peter and Dave Mallow for their respective roles of Emi, Tagami and Sagara.

Tenjho Tenge continues to keep its successful blend of school drama with intense martial arts action that puts the series in a class by itself. Will the Juken Club survive the wrath of the Council’s president? Keep it here in Otaku Corner to find out.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Strip Talk #22: No fat-shaming allowed of any kind

Lyndsey-2013-cutout-onlineLet’s be real for a moment: I am what you would call a fat girl. I’ve been fairly overweight for a large portion of my adult life. It’s nothing I don’t already know and it’s nothing that I haven’t tried to fix. That doesn’t seem to stop my surviving parent from attempting to fat shame me every time I call him out for being a jerkhole. That glimpse inside my hectic and drama-filled home life should let you know how I feel about others fat-shaming others. And, let’s get down to the nitty gritty about things: I can’t stand women downgrading and fat-shaming each other.

Universally, I can’t stand women going against each other. Real talk: We don’t exactly have the best standing in the species, whether it’s from the original sin still being used against us (really, though? It’s been eons upon eons. Some folks really need to let things go), or that it’s still assumed that we’re dumb and can’t fend for ourselves when we clearly have intelligence, there’s still a stigma attached to being a woman. So, really, we need all the help we can get starting with our own side of the species stepping up to support each other. But what do we get? “She looks like a beached whale.” “She shouldn’t be into that weird stuff like cosplaying.” “She’s way too weird for any man to really get involved with her.”

Having heard the majority of that foolishness from my own side of things, and specifically from black women, you’d think I’d be used to it by now, but I’m not. It never ceases to amaze me how many people — especially black people — will throw stones and not get the full extent of being different. I was born different. The moment I came into the world, I was expected to utilize my intelligence, and leverage the fact that I could do whatever I wanted and be whatever I wanted. I was encouraged to have different interests and to not be so isolated and into my own self. So, when I developed an interest in other cultures besides my own (I do still have nationalistic black pride, by the way), it came as no shock to anyone who knew me well. I know better than to ever fat shame anyone, let alone other cosplayers and let alone women. It doesn’t matter if you’re a big girl like me or rail thin; do you and keep it moving.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com