The Great Escape


Dear Postman of the Apokalypse,

It has been truly a while since last I heard your name. As I sit here collecting the stories of those who have recently passed, I can’t help but think of your own.

Tell me, what are the stories that help you through the raw and the bleak, and why do they speak to you so?


I tell you what: These days I’m in a real kick of rereading the books I loved when I was a teen. I’ve gone through most of David Eddings’ fantasy work, and am currently rereading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, both of which are fun although absolutely cringe-worthy in many, many ways. I’m also in the middle of Ursula K. Le Quin’s wonderful Earthsea novels, which are a delight that only get better as they age. I marathon-ed my way through every single Sherlock Holmes story and novel Arthur Conan Doyle ever put to paper (although I admittedly do this every few years anyway) and the pulp mysteries of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Whatever allows me some time to escape from the present, and that gives me the nostalgic happiness of returning to a book that I loved.

Also? I’m super-into kids’ cartoons. Well, I’ve always been into kids’ cartoons, but watching a story where morality exists and goodness and virtue are reworded is intensely appreciated nowadays. I am currently watching Steven Universe (always), the new DuckTales, and the anime series My Hero Academia (which is certainly slow at first, but is a lot of fun). I just finished Adventure Time, natch, and Gravity Falls just wrecked me with its greatness. In my queue: Rewatching the entirety of the Batman and Superman animated series from the ‘90s.


I highly suggest thinking about the stories that made you happy in the past, and take a return tour to them. It helps.


Hurts, Don’t It

Christian O.:

I was watching Jessica Jones last night and there was a scene in which Jessica punches a hole in the wall of a jail cell, and this superficially injures her hand. It got me thinking, even though she doesn’t have the invulnerability of Luke Cage, her bones, muscles and other tissues have to have greatly enhanced durability over non-super-powered humans, right? Similarly, Spider-Man isn’t bulletproof like Superman is, but he does regularly perform feats of strength that would cause his bones to shatter, his arms to tear themselves out of their sockets, etc.

What do you think about this, and why isn’t a bigger deal made of it?

You’re very much correct: super-strength and invulnerability are two completely separate powers, and one does not beget the other. I mean, professional weightlifters aren’t any more impervious to bullets than you or I are. Spidey may be able to lift a metal girder over his head, but his many, many, many beatings by supervillains should have left him dead several hundred times over. Conversely, even though Luke Cage’s skin is bullet-proof, that doesn’t actually mean he should be super-strong. And if it did, he should still be susceptible to physics—a car that hits him should send him flying, not stop cold as if it hit a rock wall.


That said, a super-strong superhero who spent most of their time in the hospital because their bones and flesh can’t match their muscles would make for a poor story. It’s the kind of mundane realism that would disrupt the storytelling for no benefit, and no one really wants that.


Snap Judgment


If Thanos had snapped his fingers twice would that have killed off the remaining 50% of living beings or would it have just removed 50% of the remaining 50%?


The Infinity Gauntlet doesn’t have settings. It’s not stuck on “Kill half the universe,” and snapping your fingers while wearing it isn’t the specific way to trigger mass murder. He could have given a big thumbs-up and wiped out half the universe just the same.

So the second snap could do whatever the hell Thanos wanted it to: Kill another half of the remaining people in the universe, kill all the remaining people entirely, resurrect his army of generic alien monsters, or even given himself a new helmet so his dumb head stopped looking like a California Raisin.


I need some more letters! Have a nerdy question? Need advice? Want a mystery or argument solved? Send them to, please! As always, no question too difficult or dumb. (Probably.)