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Greetings Readers!

Welcome to The Middle Spaces (Infrequent) Newsletter. The newsletter we send out whenever it feels right (but not too often) to let you know what's been going on with The Middle Spaces blog of comic, music, culture, and what is on the horizon. 

This is our second newsletter this year and the second in six weeks! It is almost as if as soon as I named the newsletter with the "infrequent" modifier it became more frequent.  Don't worry, it won't last.  We'll never spam you.

There has been a lot of activity on The Middle Spaces since the last issue of the newsletter. We had our Bitch Planet round table, which was a resounding success, being shared and discussed on various social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, including being shared by Milkfed Criminal Mastermind, the official website for Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction's production company, where they included links to all three installments. Kelly Sue is a great supporter of scholarly work with her comics and her repeated signal boosts of the round table on Twitter were much appreciated and in line with the impression I got of her from the brief time we got to hang out at ICAF2017.
Dinner in Seattle with Kelly Sue DeConnick and the ICAF crew back in November 2017. Joshua Plencner at the front on the left contributed to the Bitch Planet round table, and Qiana Whitted (also on the left, behind Kelly Sue) organized and co-edited it.
Speaking of the Bitch Planet Round Table, I am currently working with another scholar on a full post that is in part a response to the round table and explores with more detail one of the questions raised in part three, "Hard Time, Hard Woman."
Furthermore, Nick Miller, who contributed to the round table, posing the question "Where Does Bitch Planet Fit Into Scholarly Conversations About Trans Representation in Comics?" in part two has a post going live next Tuesday, April 10, using Dazzler: The Movie, the 1982 graphic novel, to consider the normalization of the kind of abusive behavior brought to light by the #MeToo Movement.
Apart from that, The Middle Spaces celebrated its 5th anniversary with a post about re-collecting a run of Uncanny X-Men matching up with my reading years as a kid from ages 10 to 17. The post considers what collecting this run of X-Men might mean for future blog posts, but most of all I am just looking forward to digging into them for the first time in about 20 years.
Since then we published the 7th installment of "Alpha & Omega," my series exploring both versions of Omega the Unknown, the 1976-7 version by Steve Gerber, Mary Skrenes and Jim Mooney, and the 2007-8 version by Jonathan Lethem, Karl Rusnak and Farel Dalrymple. One thing that didn't make it into the post was that despite the latter series having so far remained completely distinct from the Marvel Universe, there was an unexpected reference to the Baxter Building. I doubt anything will come from it (not that I recall from reading the series back when it first came out, anyway), but it seemed like an odd anomaly in an otherwise carefully curated sense of setting. Anyway, the post does mention a letter in the 1977 issue from a then teen-aged Kurt Busiek. He and I even discussed the letter a bit the other day on Twitter .
A reference to the Baxter Building in Omega the Unknown vol. 2, #7.
(art by Farel Dalrymple. words by Jonathan Lethem)
Most recently, I put up the first comic book reviews of 2018, including reviews of Monstress #15, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #3, and All-New Wolverine #32. Reviews are the kind of thing that seem like they will be easy and not too time-consuming, but when it comes time to write them and lay them out, it always takes a lot longer than I expected. On the one hand, I find I have better retention of comics I write about, so I like doing them from that perspective, but on the other hand, sometimes I just want to relax and enjoy a comic without having to think about how to approach writing about it or getting up from the couch (where I read) to my desk (where I write) after each issue, as I tend to write each review as I read them to keep my take fresh. Complicating this is the fact that reviews are popular and lead to more engagement from the blog and on Twitter. If I ever upgrade the site, I am going to create a photo gallery type section of the site for reviews that can be updated individually and on the fly.

Anyway, right after I published the reviews I got my hands on a couple of issues of the latest volume of Peter Park: The Spectacular Spider-Man, and thought I'd review them here as a bit of bonus content. 
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #301 & 302
(released March 14 & 28). Chip Zdarsky (writer) Joe Quinones (pencils) Joe Rivera (inks), Jordan Gibson (colors), Travis Lanham (letters)
This book was on the bubble for me. I was considering dropping it altogether. I had even taken it off my pull-list after reading issue #300 because I was so disappointed in it, but after I found out that Joe Quinones (Zdarsky's old Howard the Duck partner) would be taking over art duties, I decided I needed to give the book another shot. I love Quinones's cartoony art style and visually it is a good pairing with how Zdarsky likes to structure a story and his less-than-reverent take on Spider-Man. That said, part of what makes PPTSSM fall short of expectations for me is that I loved their take on Spider-Man in Howard the Duck, a lonely disliked sensitive loser even when he is a millionaire CEO or whatever the heck else he is these days. I know it is unfair to expect that take when this book is meant to exist within the precedent set by the wider Marvel universe, but I like what I like. In these two issues, Zdarsky celebrates Quinones's return with a wild story of time-travel and alternate realities where a present-era Spider-Man goes back in time to stop some future alien invasion by teaming up with his teenage self, and since it is an alternate past time he doesn't have to worry about changing his own future, because it isn't his at all. As such, while they wait for their moment to defeat the aliens, he goes about helping young Spidey defeat all his biggest foes preemptively. Most notably, they capture and unmask the Green Goblin way before Norman Osborn and Peter Parker even knew who each other was. Of course, older Peter's cavalier approach leads to a ton of terrible consequences, as they should in a Spider-Man story. As I have argued before, the history of Spider-Man is not so much about the responsibility of acting when you have the power to act, but the responsibility for the cascading consequences when you do use that power. Anyway, while typically I am pretty tired of time travel stories, what I like about this one is the ways it disrupts continuity and highlights how much Spider-Man has changed in the simultaneously compressed and scattershot 55 years of his existence (teen Parker exists "several years ago" narratively, but over 50 serially). I love a comic book that can admit to its own absurdity while simultaneously developing emotional stakes for the action. This achieves that, even if it plays with some bits of continuity I couldn't care less about. (Peter's SHIELD agent parents and pseudo-sister). I will stick with this book for now. I am sure Marvel will cancel it or Zdarsky and Quinones will quit as soon as it really hits its stride.   
You can read all the past reviews for recent comics on The Middle Spaces going back to 2014 by clicking here.

Thanks for reading and look for a lot more content in the coming months, including more reviews, another installment of The (re)Collection Agency, more about Omega the Unknownand hopefully getting around to writing about an issue of Teen Titans I mentioned in the 2017 Year-End Meta Post.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions don't hesitate to reach out via emailFacebook or Twitter, and be sure to also check out bonus content on my We Are In It and Notes from Comics Collecting tumblrs.

All best,
Osvaldo Oyola
Editor, The Middle Spaces
Copyright © 2018 The Middle Spaces, All rights reserved.

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