Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

By Magdalena Nitchi

After much anticipation, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse has finally been released in theatres. I was one of the many fans excited to watch this latest addition in Sony’s Spider-Verse trilogy, and I am pleased to say this movie completely lived up to the hype.

Set a year after the end of the previous movie, Across the Spider-Verse follows Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, and several new spider-people. After a confrontation with her father, Gwen flees her home universe and joins a task force trying to keep the multiverse intact. Dimensional instabilities are back, and while chasing a new villain, Miles gets pulled into another universe and quickly finds himself on the run not only from villains, but also from other web-slinging fellows.

The movie builds on the revolutionary animation techniques of the first film by incorporating other comic book styles, including the impressionistic universe of Gwen and the brightly-coloured streets of “Mumbhattan.” While I do not know much about the alternate spider-verses presented in the movie, I was impressed by the sheer number of references. The animation team’s unique twists on the designs from the comics never fail to impress.

I also appreciated the queer allegory present in this movie. While nothing is said explicitly (aside from a few background spider-people who are canonically queer), the scene in which Gwen tells her father she is spider-woman can be viewed as an alternative coming out scene. On top of the common superhero trope of hiding your identity, Gwen’s emphasis on needing her father to listen to her and not villainize her is familiar to many queer viewers. Other details, such as the “protect trans kids” poster in Gwen’s room and the colouring of her father’s police badges, have led audience members to speculate that she might actually be transgender. The fact that so many LGBTQ+ people resonate with her story is significant; one of the fortes of the superhero genre is how it can represent the stories of marginalized groups in an accessible way.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is not only an incredible work of animation, but a wonderful story that breaks the mould and will definitely have a lasting impact on the superhero genre.

Summer Sons

Par Samuel Jean

Aimer l’horreur, c’est accepter que le sombre et l’horrible puissent être incroyablement beaux. Que les plus grands malheurs et les plus grandes horreurs peuvent renfermer une sorte de grâce, être ovni de forme que beaucoup trouvent horripilante, repoussante ou indigeste! La réussite de Summer Sons par Lee Mandelo tient en cela : le beau y est étrange, et l’étrange y est fondamentalement attirant. Loin de se présenter comme un récit de vampires ou des récits érotico-cracra, c’est avec une certaine grâce poétique que se libère l’horreur dans ce roman.

Summer Sons raconte l’histoire d’Andrew alors qu’il hérite de la maison, des amis et du rythme de vie d’Eddie, son compagnon quelque part entre ami et amoureux, après qu’Eddie est enlevé à la vie dans ce qui semble être pour tous un suicide. Tous, sauf Andrew qui partage avec Eddie un lien particulier : un événement traumatique qui leur font voir des apparitions fantomatiques étouffantes. À mesure qu’Andrew découvre la vie que menait son ami, les découvertes et réalisations douloureuses s’enchaînent. Et que pourrait bien être cet esprit qui les hante?

La grande réussite de ce roman est d’aborder le deuil, l’amitié, l’homosexualité et le coming of age via le southern gothic et le dark academia. Le savant mélange d’humanité et d’horreur fait tout le sel de ce roman. Découvrir la véritable facette d’une personne que l’on pensait connaître est toujours un évènement difficile. Sombre et onirique, l’imaginaire visuel de Mandelo offre une exploration intriguante et originale de ces moments difficiles. 

Les apparitions hantant Andrew, si elles demeurent longtemps mystérieuses à travers ce slow burner bien rythmé, n’en demeurent pas moins explicitement érotiques. Les relents d’abus sexuels apportés par ces apparitions nous font merveilleusement contester l’amitié des deux hommes, surtout lorsque l’incertitude s’installe et que l’histoire commence à nous faire douter d’Andrew : est-il aveugle aux abus par l’homme qu’il aime?

En bref, Summer Sons est un excellent roman fantastique aux relents du Sud américain. Ses mystères intriguent jusqu’à la fin, et on sent l’étrangeté qui attend sous les soleils brûlants.

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir

By Magdalena Nitchi

In honour of Pride month, I read Kai Cheng Thom’s Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir. Originally published in English and later translated into French by Kama La Mackerel under the title Fèms magnifiques et dangereuses: Mémoires affabulées d’une fille trans, this book is a thoroughly enjoyable read in either language. As the title suggests, Fierce Femmes follows a young transgender girl as she comes out, leaves her home city, “the Gloom,” and makes her way to the “Street of Miracles”—an ethereal, dangerous place where trans women (especially trans women of colour) come to socialize and engage in sex work. 

While “the Gloom” is clearly reminiscent of Vancouver, strange moments such as mermaids beaching themselves force the reader to consider more complicated allegories about gender, the environment, and how being part of marginalized communities affects one’s self-perception. Thom’s poetic imagery is beautifully visceral, and left me with shivers while reading. Rather than write a realistic autobiography which depicts her suffering, Thom opts for a “confabulous” story which mixes elements of fantasy and science fiction with a more conventional narrative about running away to find oneself. These surreal elements, combined with the narrator’s moments of self-doubt and re-writing of what “actually happened,” create a tale that mesmerizes from beginning to end.

Additionally, Thom’s depiction of finding community is fantastic. Each trans woman she meets has a mythical story, from the sweet, motherly girl who takes her in, to the bald, brutal, battle-maiden who forms a girl gang to protect trans women on the streets. The transformation of their trauma into a fairy tale does not detract from their pain, but rather turns them into larger-than-life figures who are able to face the darkness of their world head-on.

I cannot recommend this novel enough. This surreal fantasy memoir can be heavy at times—featuring many forms of suffering, sexual assault, and a murder—but it is still a very touching story of hope and opening oneself up to love in spite of trauma. Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars is weird and beautiful, and the world needs more weird, beautiful, queer art.