Monthly Archives: May 2015

Call for Papers on Outlander

Seeking a few more essays on Gender, Race, Orientation, and the Other in the Time of Outlander — just email valerie at  with your idea!


The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has sold 25 million copies worldwide. More interestingly, it’s said that mentioning Outlander in a group of women, no matter the age, will reveal that a quarter have read it. Now the television show, often called “Game of Thrones for Women” is transforming the popular cable shows, brimming with nudity and violence, as it brings in a specifically women’s fandom…or is it?

This collection welcomes discussion of the television show, novels, John Grey books, short stories, and associated works such as cast interviews, Gabaldon’s blog, or Outlander fan culture.

McFarland has expressed interest in an academic collection of essays on this pop culture phenomenon, which will likely come out alongside season two. Of course, this collection will only go forward if it gets sufficient submissions.

UPDATE: I’m considering splitting the book into two, one on genre and fandom, the other on race/gender/disability/homosexuality/otherness. Topics fitting into these categories are especially welcome.

Final essays 4000-5000 words, MLA format. 100-300 word proposals for your essay topic with optional bio or cover letter should be sent to valerie @, subject OUTLANDER ANTHOLOGY by June 22. Finished papers due Aug 15. Happy writing!

There are many areas to explore:
Gender Studies: Male courtliness as performance; feminine charm or seduction as performance; Geillis the femme fatale; Claire the WWII nurse; sexism; female gaze, homosexuality in Black Jack, the Duke of Sandringham, and Lord John. Characters such as prostitutes, housekeepers, clan chiefs, and warriors have many interesting gender nuances.
Genre: romance, time travel story, war story, military history, or cross-genre
Adaptation: comparison to other cable shows like Game of Thrones, The White Queen, Camelot, True Blood, etc. Differences between book and show and the motivations behind these. Costumes or music (the blogs by the ones in charge of these are useful resources)
Myth and Folklore: standing stones, circle dancers, gemstone magic, prayers from the Carmina Gadelica, Loch Ness, parallels between Claire’s journey and selkie or fairy kidnapping tales. There’s also the Caribbean stories of book three or Lord John and the Plague of Zombies, Native American myth in the later books, and so on.
History: World War II, the sixties, the Eighteenth Century, witchcraft, the Revolutionary War, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Louis XV, the Count de Saint-Germain
Symbolism: psychology such as Jung or Joseph Campbell, significant objects such as the blue vase, pearl necklace, or wedding rings.
Literature: analyzing the stories as literature or comparison with other important works
Fandom studies
Television studies

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Filed under Books, Call for Papers, Outlander, Pop Culture, Writing

60 Easter Eggs in Avengers: Age of Ultron

    1. Ultron first appeared in Avengers #57 (as did the Vision). He wasn’t created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, but by Hank “Ant-Man” Pym, whose film is coming next, though not in time for him to play inventor here.
    2. The storyline Ultron Unlimited has the villain invading a fictional East European country with an army of robot drone. The title Age of Ultron has no connection with the comic book event of the same name, but was chosen because it sounded cool.
    3. In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “The Dirty Half Dozen”, it is Agent Coulson who breaks in to a Hydra base and locates Loki’s scepter. He then contacts Maria Hill so she can let the Avengers know to go to Sokovia and retrieve it, as they do in the beginning of the film. Dr. List, Strucker’s flunkie, appears on Agents of SHIELD, then joins his boss on the film.
    4. During the opening assault on Baron Strucker’s fortress, Captain America uses a wrist-mounted device to make his shield return. This is designed by Tony in the early Avengers comics.
    5. Baron Strucker has collected Chitauri tech from the Battle of New York.
    6. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch first appeared in X-Men #4 in 1964 as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (and children of Magneto!), then switched sides and joined the Avengers in 1965’s Avengers #16. The MCU is giving “Gifted” characters several origin stories, from artificial to Inhuman to genuine inexplicable gifts….they don’t say mutant or use Magneto as these rights are tied up with X-Men. Baron Strucker substitutes as evil father though the side-switching remains. The clip of their origin story includes a red burst of apparent Terrigen Mist (now appearing with the Inhumans on Agents of SHIELD).
    7. Pietro and Wanda Maximoff dress like in X-Men: Evolution (2000), where Pietro had on blue jeans and sports shirts, and Wanda had on a black dress and red coat.
    8. Strucker, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, was a returning nemesis in Fury and His Howling Commandos, beginning with #5 in 1964.
    9. Tony’s bumper sticker “Jarvis is my co-pilot” likely nods to the popular sticker “Wash is my co-pilot” from Firefly.
    10. Ultron starts out as as a peacekeeping force. This is a homage to The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010), where he had a similar origin.
    11. During Ultron’s birth, movie clips from the MCU and comic book scenes appear.
    12. Ultron’s odd get-up during his first meeting with the twins nods to his first comic-book appearance, as The Crimson Cowl.
    13. War Machine has ditched his Iron Patriot paint after hassling in Iron Man 3.
    14. Pepper Potts & Jane Foster don’t appear, but are mentioned during the party at Avengers tower.
    15. Erik Selvig from the Thor films cameos from England. Maria Hill reappears, but Loki’s scenes were cut in editing.
    16. Not even Captain America can afford a place in Brooklyn these days, though he lives there in the ’70s comics.
    17. All of Steve Rogers’ friends are senior citizen war vets, also seen in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates.
    18. Stan Lee in his cameo insists he can drink anything, as he’s a World War II veteran who stormed the beaches. Drunk, he shouts “Excelsior!” This last is a famous Stan Lee slogan, the same phrase with which he ended his weekly “Stan’s Soapbox” with, which appeared in every Marvel comic book.
      The World War II mention nods to Cap. Like most men of his generation, Mr. Lee did serve in the military. However, he never saw combat. Jack Kirby did storm the beaches though.
    19. The “whosoever holds this hammer” line is from the inscription on Mjolnir in the comics.
    20. Steve Rogers almost lifts Thor’s hammer – he swings it a few times in the comics, showing off his inner nobility.  Odd that Natasha doesn’t try the hammer — in the comic “What If?” Age of Ultron #3, she succeeds.
    21. The Avengers visit the city that produces all the world’s Vibranium to stop Ultron. Wakanda of course is home to the Black Panther.
    22. Andy Serkis’ character, Ulysses Klaw, is the Wakandan arms dealer who loses his hand. This prepares him to become Klaw, the nemesis of Black Panther with a vibranium-powered soundwave cannon arm. Apparently all the Phase 2 movies have someone lose a hand in a Star Wars reference, though this is a bit faint.
    23. Klaw is seen wearing a necklace with a claw. The comics state he got that from murdering T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda and the current Black Panther (2018) T’Challa’s father.
    24. In the comics, Ulysses Klaw was manipulated into battling the Avengers by the Crimson Cowl, actually Ultron operating under an alias.
    25. Tony refers to his Hulkbuster armor as “Veronica,” likely nodding to the character of Archie Comics. Her counterpart is named like Hulk’s girl, Betty.
    26. The Hulkbuster armor is from the comics and it punches Hulk offscreen as movie one Hulk punched Thor.
    27. Lou Ferrigno, almost every onscreen Hulk voice, contributed to the voice of the Hulk in this film.
    28. The truck marked Crawford in this scene nods to Hulk’s comic book mentor, Dr. Gregory Crawford.
    29. Tony calls Hulk Banner, then admonishes himself over the whole “puny Banner” comment. The Hulk shows hatred for his “puny Banner” side in the comics sometimes.
    30. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) wears a Bruce Lee T-shirt. Downey Jr. has a black belt in Wing-Chun.
    31. The Scarlet Witch blasts all the Avengers with visions, like Uatu the Watcher does to them in “Original Sin”.
    32. Tony’s Scarlet Witch dream has him in space with Chitauri Leviathans flying overhead, surrounded by dead Avengers. In the comics, Tony often flies into space, and this moment may certainly foretell his future in Infinity War. Stark finds the Avengers killed by Thanos in the Infinty Gauntlet comic series.
    33. Scarlet Witch helps Captain America have a vision of Peggy Carter, from her own show, possibly preparing for a second season. As she tries to convince him his fight is done, this moment echoes her talking down Howard Stark’s plane on her own show. Plus, they finally have their dance date from their first film.
    34. The Roy Thomas Players, the band in Cap’s dream, are named for the comic book writer who created the Vision and Ultron.
    35. Thor’s Scarlet Witch dream sequence takes him to Asgard, where Heimdall, the keeper of Bifrost, tries to choke him. This may foreshadow events of Thor: Ragnarok.
    36. Black Widow’s vision is of her Red Room training, seen (with another Widow) on Agent Carter. She and Dottie from that show cannot have children, emphasized by Dottie’s playacting with a baby carriage. They both have ballet training, something Natasha does in her comics origin story, and a possible nod to River from Firefly as well.
    37. When Scarlet Witch tries to mind control Hawkeye, he neutralizes her. He then quips: “I tried the mind control thing. Not a fan!” This is a reference to  being mind controlled by Loki during most of “The Avengers”.
    38. Banner plays with a cradle in movie one, noting he doesn’t always get what he wants. This time, he also talks about having a child.
    39. “Marvel Ultimates” has a controversial incestuous storyline between Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. According to Elizabeth Olsen, she and Aaron Taylor-Johnson touched each other a lot in a subtle homage.
    40. Vision saves Scarlet Witch and flies off with her in his arms nodding to their future romance.
    41. Black Widow’s outfit is from Fear Itself. Hawkeye’s is more like his classic comics look, with elements of his original Marvel Comic outfit, his Ultimate Marvel outfit, and his Ronin identity.
    42. Actor Aaron Himelstein played the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who wouldn’t launch the ships in Captain America: Winter Soldier and returns as one of the new agents on Fury’s helicarrier.
    43. Grand Central Station, blown up in Avengers, has been rebuilt with an Avengers statue.
    44. Sam Wilson, the Falcon, from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. His “working missing person’s cases” quip is a reference to Bucky. Presumably both characters will star in Captain America: Civil War.
    45. Friday is one of Tony’s AIs in the comics. The other two AI chips were named Jocasta (Ultron’s bride in the comics) and Tadashi (Big Hero 6)
    46. Tony and Steve’s ideologies clash, preparing for Captain America: Civil War.
    47. Someone chokes Tony in every movie he’s in, including this one. Some people are just that irritating…
    48. Cap’s line “This is what SHIELD is supposed to be…” feels like a wave to the Agents of SHIELD TV series, which hasn’t gotten the hype of the films.
    49. Ultron proclaims that everyone creates the thing they dread, including “invaders” creating “avengers.” The Invaders were a comic precursor to the Avengers.
    50. “There are no strings on me” is Disney of course. Also, Ultron’s line “People have looked to the sky and seen hope. I’ll take that from them first” may nod to Joss Whedon’s Firefly credits song: “Burn the land, and boil the sea – you can’t take the sky from me…”
    51. Speaking of, the Hellicarrier, Iron Man, and Thor reuse musical scores from their earlier movie appearances (in Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Thor: The Dark World).
    52. In the comics, Dr. Helen Cho is the mother of Amadeus Cho, a superhero who may appear in later stories.
    53. Clint Barton’s wife Laura is from the Ultimate comics. She names their child Nathaniel Pietro for Quicksilver and Black Widow., though in the comics it’s Nicole for Nick Fury.
    54. When Black Widow snatches Captain America’s shield  and puts it on the front of her motorcycle., this mimics the motorcycle round windshield of the Reb Brown Captain America films.
    55. Loki’s staff contains the “mind stone,” one of the Infinity Gems being collected for Avengers: Infinity War. Stones available in the MacGuffin hunt include the aethyr from Dark World, Orb from Guardians of the Galaxy, the Tesseract, and now (unfortunately for him) the one in the Vision’s head. These are the Tesseract/Space Gem (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers), The Aether/Reality Gem (Thor: The Dark World), Loki’s Scepter/Mind Gem (The Avengers) and The Orb/Power Gem (Guardians of the Galaxy).
    56. At film’s end, Thor goes off to deal with the impending Ragnarok, and Tony Stark drafts legislation to help governments better regulate superhuman activity, kicking off Captain America: Civil War. Hulk heads off alone, as with several Avengers comics.
    57. Tony says he’s ready to tag out — after this film and Avengers 3, Robert Downey Jr. was going to retire from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, he later signed on for Captain America: Civil War (2016).
    58. Cap ends by almost saying “Avengers Assemble.”
    59. At last, Captain America enters the “New Avengers Facility.” Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, the Falcon, War Machine and the Vision, located within, might indeed be called the “New Avengers,” a comic spinoff series.
    60. The end credits scene features Thanos claiming the Infinity Gauntlet (seen in the Asgard treasure room) and adding, “Fine, I’ll do it myself” – likely collect the last gems.

Celebrate Avengers: Age of Ultron and Free Comic Book Day! Free kindle book now-Monday May 4: The Avengers Face Their Dark Sides: Mastering the Myth-Making behind the Marvel Superheroes. Explore the deeper fantasy symbolism of Jung and Joseph Campbell behind the beloved movie heroes plus ALL the Easter Eggs from Daredevil Agent Carter and Agents of SHIELD to ALL the films.

There is also a list of the Agents of SHIELD tie in episode’s easter eggs.

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