[Guest Post] Alison the Beloved (Part Two)

In the first part of this essay, I explored the portrayal of Black women in Doctor Who, using the example of Alison Cheney. She appears in Scream of the Shalka, a 2003 web animation. Preceding the 2005 TV reboot by two years, she is the first broadcast non-white companion. 

I wrote about Alison’s role as the Doctor’s beloved, a status unusual for Black characters, and how she could have challenged the New Who’s portrayal of Black women as largely disposable victims. At the same time, SotS’ refusal to give Alison the lived experience specific to a Black London woman in an all-white small town reduces her revolutionary potential.

Alison’s ability to change the Whoniverse is also limited by SotS’ — and Alison’s — unpopularity. In this part of my essay, I dig into fan characterizations of Alison, using the AO3 corpus as a representative sample. An examination of SotS fan content on AO3 reveals that Alison may be the Doctor’s beloved in SotS, but she’s largely unloved in fandom.

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[Guest Post] Alison the Beloved (Part One)

The Black companions in the rebooted iteration of Doctor Who have it rough, especially the women. 

Think of Martha, who suffers Simm Master’s mockery and his enforced servitude of her family in Season 3’s Sound of Drums. Think of Bill, who endures a decade of medical abuse and slow Cyber conversion (i.e., being made into a cyborg) at the hands of Razor Master in Season 10’s World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. Think of Grace, who dies of electrocution and fall after defending the Thirteenth Doctor from a gathering coil in Season 11’s Woman Who Fell to Earth. The New Who’s Black companions are generally treated as more disposable and less important than the white characters.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if New Who’s first companion had been a young Black woman — cherished, celebrated, integral to the narrative? How might the experiences of Black companions be different if Alison Cheney had been the first?

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Looking Back: The Authority Volume 1 (Issues 1 -12)

Note: Depending on the format of the source media and what makes organizing my thoughts easier, the overall format of this blog series will be flexible to accommodate that! So this first, comics-focused installment of In Retrospect won’t be repeated for (as an example), me talking about an episode of “Smallville” that stuck with me.

I do not claim to hold the copyright to The Authority or the images in this post. I may own copies of the books, but that’s it entirely.

Content Notes: references to racism, misogyny, colonialism, fascism, and homophobia


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I got into The Authority right around the time that DC shut the doors on the Wildstorm universe for what I thought might be the last time.

A dear friend in the DC fandom, Sasha, had gotten me into the series after seeing me comment on fanart of Apollo and Midnighter with the kind of excitement that really only comes from getting to call a character “gay murder Batman” and pointed me in the direction of the series and some of its best arcs.

I started with Warren Ellis’s second volume of Stormwatch (which introduced the characters that’d go on to be part of The Authority and went on from there. It remains one of the series I reread as often as possible because the storylines and characters are just flat out fun to fuss over.

With DC’s The Wild Storm reinventing all of the characters from this run, I thought it’d be a perfect opportunity to look back at the first twelve issues of The Authority. What was so awesome about Ellis’s first run and why is it that Mark Millar and Frank Quitely’s following turn on the series so dang distressing?

And above all: does this series still deserve the hype in my head?

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[Guest Post] Love, pain, redemption – Bruce & Dick in Nightwing: Rebirth.

This guest post comes courtesty of one of my dearest friends in and out of fandom, Yamini, who kindly allowed me to repost her brilliant analysis of Batman and Nightwing’s relationship in Nightwing: Rebirth. (This post is also available on her tumblr, so please reblog it from there if you want to share!


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… And Fate them forged a binding chain / of living love and mortal pain” is one of my favourite lines in JRR Tolkien’s Lay of Leithian; encapsulating the poem’s driving conviction that mingled love, pain, surrender, and redemption can form the foundations of the most important relationships we can have with other human beings.

I found myself thinking about it after reading Nightwing #8 (by Tim Seeley, Javier Fernandez, Chris Sotomayor and Carlos Mangual) because love, pain, and redemption are so much a part of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, and how they relate to each other, and I haven’t read many comics that mediate on that as beautifully as this one (and hell, this whole arc) does.Read More »