“The Heart of the Matter”
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Pencils and Inks: Mark Badger
Colours: Brad Vancata
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Terry Kavanagh
Original publication date: July 1991
This week, Anna, Mav, and Andrew are positively giddy about closing out “The Promethium Exchange,” chatting Excalibur #39, “The Heart of the Matter,” with editor, critic, and scholar Andrea Ayres, who’s allergic to kelp but addicted to trash. (She may have been sarcastic about the latter.) We talk the role of subjectivity in scholarship, how to deal (or not deal) with problematic people who make stuff, and debate whether Kurt’s Bermuda shorts in the Marvel Swimsuit Special were justified or a travesty. We also talk a little “Promethium Exchange” (just a little, we promise), which is worth it for Andrea perfectly analogizing the experience.
“This comic is like being hit in the face with a single wet spaghetti noodle, and you don’t know where it came from. It’s annoying, but it’s not going to ruin your life. That sums up my experience with this arc. Just – why.” -Andrea
“I was really bothered by the joke about Rachel not knowing how to program a VCR. It’s throwaway, but it’s also one of the things I hate about Lobdell’s writing. That casual dismissal of female agency.” -Andrew
On interconnected origins:
On interconnected origins: “Last year, I was invited to give a research talk at Andrea’s school about sex and superheroes. I was very stressed and uninspired, so I just said ‘screw it’ and basically gave a talk about sexy Nightcrawler. Which was the first time I’d really talked about that. In a way: Andrea was present at my origin story.” -Anna
On the personal in the political:
“In my critical work that includes the personal, I try to be as honest as possible. My hope is that people see their own subjective reading modelled through the subjective reading that I practice. If my process is transparent, people can trust my conclusions, even though they’re subjective.” -Anna
“It feels like Darkhoth was chosen because Lobdell was like, ‘what nerd is going to know who this is?’ Me. I’m the nerd who knew who that was, because I read the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe: Book of the Dead, which was the last place Darkhoth appeared.” -Mav
“I think Lobdell wanted a Dark Phoenix. If he’d stayed with the book, I can imagine him trying to do that with Meggan.” -Andrew
“I think it’s okay for Anna to feel weird about being name-dropped by Diaz. But for me, at the end of the day, what matters is – my friend was mentioned in the New York Times. And that’s awesome.” -Mav
“The attempt at imparting emotionality, or making the reader feel something, by bandying about suicide, and that being framed as cowardice – it feels thoughtless. It feels like it exists because we need it to exist to get to the next page.” -Andrea
Want more Andrea Ayres?
Be especially sure to check out her video game “The Average Everyday Adventures of Samantha Browne,” with art by Reimena Yee! We *dare* you to tell us you’re not intrigued by this description: “An interactive story about a painfully introverted college student who must find a way to make some oatmeal in the communal kitchen of her dorm. One simple task, can you help her complete it?”
And as usual:
You can find Andrew on Twitter (@ClaremontRun).