About Olivia Cottrell

Olivia lives in Chessington and as such finds the distraction of video games, books and television a necessity. A former student of Cardiff University, Olivia has an abundance of strongly held opinions, most of them contradictory. Her favourite things include video games, Marvel comics (especially ones from the Sixties), feminism, books about magic that don't feature young men going on an epic journey of self-discovery, Iron Man, and thinking far too hard about nerdish things.

The Cape and the Cowl 2 – X-Men Death, DC “0″ issues, Secret War and more

Death of Xavier in Avengers vs X-MenJames and Olivia return to the world of comics in the second edition of The Cape and the CowlWith the much-publicised death in Avengers vs X-Men, we stop to ask – wait, you mean Xavier was still around?! We also consider DC’s 0 Issues, look back at Marvel’s Secret War in Hazy Recollection, and make our recommendations for the best of indie comics right now…

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(Please note that this was recorded mid-September, but hasn’t been released until now because we were busy with Doctor Who and other stuff – sorry! Future episodes will be more current, we promise!)

The Cape and The Cowl, Issue 1 – new comics podcast!

Welcome to The Cape and the Cowl! In the new Comic Book Podcast, James and Olivia round-up how Superman kissing Wonder Woman damages female characters, discuss Rob Liefeld vs. Scott Snyder, review Kelly Sue DeConnick’s new Captain Marvel series, rundown the comics you should pick up this week, and try to remember what happened in Civil War.

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Let us know what you think – are you an avid comics reader, and if so, what titles are you into? Or are you new to the world of comics, but interested in finding out more? James and Olivia will be back soon with another Cape and Cowl, so get in touch with your feedback, comments and questions!

Five Comics You Should Read

It’s all fun and games until someone calls the Homicide Crabs

As the nation goes Dark Knight crazy once again, regular columnist Olivia Cottrell offers up some tantalising alternatives for those of you looking for more than just men in tights…

So, you like comic books, do you? Or maybe you’ve seen the big Marvel movies, or the Nolan Batman, and you want to get into the genre proper but don’t know where to start. Well, here are my top five comic books of all time: each one perfectly acceptable as a series on its own, but each, I hope, a great example of what the medium can offer in superheroes and beyond. There’s dinosaurs, cowboys, explosions and crime, serious comics and comics that will make you laugh your head off. They also probably say far more about me and my tastes than I intended.

Well, never mind. Onwards!
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Random Encounter #5 – Tropes Vs Me

Is there a sexual sickness at the heart of geek culture? Olivia squares up against the latest controversy, and the gloves are coming off…

Recently I’ve been trying to write something on this Tropes vs Women in video games debate that’s being raging on the Internet. For those not in the know, Anita Sarkeesian, who runs a popular YouTube series called Tropes Versus Women, recently asked for funding to produce a series that looked specifically at video games. While Sarkeesian received the funding she needed (and then some), she also provoked a backlash of the most poisonous kind. Every aspect of her online presence – her YouTube channel, Facebook profile, Twitter account and her own website, to name but a few – was flooded with misogynistic comments, threats of death, sexual assault and violence. There were event attempts to have her YouTube channel shut down by flagging her videos as ‘terrorism’.


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Random Encounter #4 – Why Video Game Movies Are a Stupid Idea

Cap’n Tightpants IS Nathan Drake. Almost.

Video game movies have a terrible track record but, as the games get more cinematic, the movies should get better, right? Olivia Cottrell doesn’t think so…

As a fan of video games, I’m often asked if I’ve seen any of their big screen adaptations – the Tekken or Street Fighter movies, for example, or the truly, truly awful Doom movie (I did watch it but, for my own protection, my brain has blanked most of the memories out). People also tend to assume I’m excited by the prospect of a Mass Effect movie, or disappointed that the film based on the Uncharted franchise floundered and died.

The truth is, I’m glad when these movies never see the light of day. Not just because the adaptations seem to be universally bad, but because they play to the assumption that film is a higher form of entertainment. True, films are more mainstream than video games (but not, I’d argue, for much longer, thanks to Facebook-based casual gaming and the rise of the Wii as a family console) but there’s no reason why a film should perceived to be a more valuable or significant cultural property than a video game.

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Random Encounter #3 – Don’t Stop Believing

Journey video game title card

Can video games be good for the soul? In her ongoing examination of the state of gaming, Olivia Cottrell wonders if we couldn’t all do with a bit more soul…

Video games and religion are not what you might call natural bedfellows. Even as games have grown up in the last few years and started to explore questions of race, sexuality and the more basic issues of morality (good vs evil, the needs of the many or the needs of the few and so on) religion has been a topic that most games try to avoid. As a gamer with a vested interest in religion (being a Christian), I find it frustrating that so many titles still shy away from a frank look at this fundamental aspect of the human condition. And that, when they do attempt it, they often fall very short of the mark.

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