When Worlds Collide

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Avengers_vs_JLAIt was a short week but a packed one as the kids returned all seeming to have memorized the countdown to the end of the school calendar. On Tuesday night, though, the state revealed our waiver request was granted forcing a readjustment of the countdown clock, shaving a day off so we finish on June 16.  The seniors still get out after May 16 (for reasons that have never been clear to me). But with the schedule set, we got the finals schedule sorted out which has allowed me to carefully chart out my remaining lessons so there will be time for course review.The kids were also tough to settle down and my freshmen couldn’t find much enthusiasm for Shakespeare. After an observation from my Consulting Teacher, she pointed out that I was trying to get them to focus on the wrong things: the language and not the characters and theme. So, the next day I tried having them read the Modern English translation out loud, playing parts. We stopped to identify references, even the bawdiest of them, and she was right, they were more focused. Lesson learned.My juniors seem to be really into the Harlem Renaissance and their work this past week was particularly strong which made me happy. Hopefully that will continue as we move ahead and study August Wilson’s Fences. I’m delighted because it means two weeks steeped in baseball talk.Even though all my students know I write and used to work in comics, they don’t often bring it up and even then, usually to inquire about how much I earned. However, in three of my classes one day this week, students walked in and asked me to settle a bet: which universe had the strongest characters, DC or Marvel?Without giving it too much thought, I identified the DCU as having the stronger heroes but acknowledged Marvel had the stronger villains. In giving it further thought, my parameters limited the rosters to Earth-1 and Earth-616, respectively. I also kept it to modern day. By those measures, DC has the Wrath of God (the Spectre) and 7200 members of the Green Lantern Corps compared with the host of Asgard, and handfuls of intergalactic agencies. We’ve seen JLA vs. Avengers where those teams were more evenly matched, but once you factor in international and intergalactic, I lean towards DC.However, Marvel’s villains tend to have internalized powers, giving them more of an edge. You have them wielding weapons like the Cosmic Cube or the Infinity Gauntlet. You have beings like Galactus, the Destroyer, Malekith the Dark Elf, Loki, the Skrulls, Magneto, and Dr. Doom. Face to face, the likes of Luthor, the Joker, Captain Cold, Cheetah, et. al., don’t really stand a chance.My kids were somewhat stunned by the announcement, perhaps knowing Marvel and DC’s pantheons through their mass media appearances and not the four-color foundational works I was raised on. It certainly made for a lively pre-bell discussion.

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3 thoughts on “When Worlds Collide

  1. I don’t know that I can agree with your consulting teacher; learning Shakespeare through only the plots and themes is insufficient. They need to understand how the language used–the shifts from prose to blank verse, for instance–affect the kinds of characters and the emotional content of the dialogue.Have your students seen any of the plays you read performed?

  2. Here’s what I want to know: which universe has more psychosis pound for pound: Shakespeare’s or DC or Marvel?

  3. Shakespeare is still pretty hard to get through, then again I’ve always leaned towards fantasy and science-fiction.Shakespeare’s prose and use of language may be an important part of the English department, but it feels like some inclusion of contemporary works would give a good view; Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy anyone? 😉

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