Todd the demon is a he, now, if only because Granny Ethel
insists upon using copious ‘Dear boy, keep
trying’and ‘Atta boy!’ critiques to varying degrees depending on how well his
needlework, crochet, and knitting attempts progress.
Gender isn’t a concept
the demon concerned himself with before. If Todd had been, say, a girl named Tonya,
he supposes he’d be a she instead. If
Todd had been gender-neutral and properly communicated with his grandmother, he
supposes she would call him they or child, appropriately. Granny Ethel isn’t
one to discriminate. Even when she properly wears her glasses and sees his
obviously un-Todd-like appearance, only shaking her head and smiling with a
good-natured “kids these days” on her lips. But he wouldn’t mind if Granny
Ethel called him boy, girl, thing, or abomination, so long as she stayed happy.
Granny Ethel is a
patient woman. Todd simply can’t understand why or how she’d become the black
sheep of her family, especially after a full week of living with her
hospitality. Through the constant baked goods and the modest but satisfying
three-meals-a-day; the careful (oh-so-careful) dusting of trinkets and
bookshelves with tiny cloths and feather dusters not fit for large claws, which
he insists upon doing while she looks
on in worry before brewing more coffee; the midday television re-run breaks
spent sealing cash donations into envelopes and discussing human rights issues
instead of watching old shows, he simply can’t think of her as anything but a
paragon of her kind.
It’s a problem with them, he concludes. Not her.
It isn’t a decision he
Spending such a brief
time with her, he’s already learned so much more about humans than he ever
would have cared to know, beyond perceiving them as vessels or a means to an
end. There is much suffering in the world—sometimes even more than that in Hell—but
there is also kindness.
He’s known that, but he
witnesses it first hand during their first trip outside of Granny Ethel’s home.
“Come, now, Todd, we
have much shopping to do. I’m afraid my pantry isn’t stocked appropriately for
the upcoming food donation drive and I can’t just skip it this month.”
addressing an envelope to the local food bank—most people would stop there,
figuring their good deed was done.
“I also have to stock
up on this week’s groceries. Feel free to buy whatever you want, dear. I can
cook anything, you know! At least, I try. I suppose you’d like some snacks,
too. But I am so glad you’re here;
think of all the bags we can carry between the two of us!”
There is no car in Granny
Ethel’s driveway, or a garage to store it. He wonders how they’re going to make
it to the grocery store as he waits for her to lock the door behind them, as she
hobbles down the two small concrete steps with her cane in hand.
It isn’t until she’s
halfway down the sidewalk that he realizes they’re walking. In public.
An old crone in black
and a demon at her side, wearing a handmade shawl so lovingly stitched with various,
terrifying occult symbols.
He isn’t the only one
who sees a problem with this—the neighbor’s dog, a small, bug-eyed thing, yaps
indignantly at them from the front lawn as it bounces around the dewy grass at
its owner’s feet, soon erupting in warning yowls and howls, before falling
silent mid-yip when Todd locks eyes with it. The neighbor—Maurice, if he
remembers Granny Ethel’s gossip correctly—stands frozen, watering can dangling
limp from his hand as he overwaters the begonias at his feet, mouth hanging
open in undignified disbelief.
Maurice!” Granny Ethel calls with unmitigated cheer, and a hint of pride. “Nice
morning, isn’t it? Oh! Have you met my wonderful grandson Todd? He finally came
to visit! We’re going shopping now. Will you watch my house?”
Maurice simply stares,
dumb with shock.
Halfway down the block,
another neighbor’s car brakes with a squeal before they make it out of the
driveway and they stick their head out of the window to gape.
Shutters crack open.
Curtains are shoved aside.
Before Todd knows it,
they are the cul-de-sac’s center of attention.
Granny Ethel doesn’t
pay it any mind and continues obliviously on, waving to each face in turn as
those faces pale, yet hers remains rosy.
“My, such a busy day
today. I haven’t seen everyone out like this since the Fourth of July block
party. Oh, if you’re still here during summer, Todd, we should definitely take
part. Maybe we should start knitting an American flag for the occasion. What do
He can only nod.
They make it to the
grocery store without incident—aside from the broken fire hydrant caused by a
distracted driver and the one, single person who ran away screaming, and the
handful that crossed themselves, and
the one person bold enough to snap a picture with their phone before Todd
grabbed it from their hands and threw it while Granny Ethel wasn’t looking, too
distracted with how well the city’s roadside flowers were blooming—and Todd,
ever the gentledemon, takes a small shopping cart from its line and trails
behind Granny Ethel as she consults the list taken from her purse.
As expected, those
within the store stop and stare. Even the calming elevator music jolts to a
A young man in an
employee vest, who looks high, shoots Todd the demon-horn hand sign and smiles
before swaggering away to the frozen food aisle, and the manager meekly
approaches them, skirting around a fresh fruit display.
“Ma’am, is there—is
there something I can—do you need help?” he asks, sweating from his receding hairline
to his neck as he tugs at his collar and straightens his frumpy tie.
“Oh! I’m so glad you
asked. I didn’t see any sales circulars by the door—what kind of specials are
on right now? Particularly on things like pizzas and cereals and whatever else
young men like to eat.” Granny Ethel leans in close to the man, close enough to
loudly whisper, “See, my grandson here is a quiet, shy boy despite his
appearance, and I don’t think he’d ask me himself, but I bet he’d love to get
some junk food to snack on between meals.”
The manager’s eyes
widen, blood-shot, as he looks to Todd, who only smiles—which comes off as
terrifying, he’s certain, with all the sharp teeth and red eyes involved.
“S-SURE! Junk food.
Right. Um—uh, w-well, I think there’s a BOGO—buy one get one free—deal on the
frozen pizzas. Uh…most cereals are marked down right now…th-there’s a sale on
potato chips…hot dogs…” His voice trails off, too burdened with trembles and
fear as he continues to hold Todd’s gaze. “And—you know, I’m sure some other employee
can help you, ma’am. I’m not one anymore as of this moment. I QUIT.” That said, he yanks the flimsy
plastic nametag from his shirt and runs for the door, followed by half of the
shoppers who abandon their carts and drop their baskets, scattering groceries
Granny Ethel watches
him go, then sighs. “He must have been overworked and stressed. I almost walked
out on a job a long time ago for the same reasons, but I needed it. You be
careful of corporate America, Todd.”
He takes her words to
heart, and he fully agrees.
Shoppers that remain in
the grocery mart avoid them at all costs as they meander through the frozen
food section, the bread aisle, the junk food corner—and Granny Ethel pays them
no mind, filling the cart to the brim with refills of groceries she needs back
at home and treats she thinks Todd needs more of in his life. He supposes he
does, if she says he does. Far be it from him to contradict her adolescent-savvy
Even so, the single
shopping cart is far too small for all of the spoils—halfway through the
shopping list, he finds them in need of another. It isn’t an issue. Many are
left scattered, abandoned, around almost every corner. By the end of the list,
both carts are full to the brim, and Granny Ethel is simply beaming.
The checkout lines are
deserted—they have their pick. Although only one station is manned by a clerk,
and it greatly narrows their choice.
As Todd wheels the two
shopping carts to the register, he recognizes the young employee from before,
who once again shoots him the demon-horn hand symbol.
“Love your poncho,
dude,” Sam (as his nametag reads) comments with a bit of a tired drawl, and
there are dark shadows under his eyes as expected from an overworked youth on
minimum wage, but he is otherwise energetic, quickly scanning each of the items
set on the conveyor belt, and smiling at demon and old woman in turn. “Did the
little lady here knit that for you?”
Ethel corrects with a grin, preening like a proud parakeet. “It does suit him,
doesn’t it? Of course, I would never make something that didn’t suit my dear
grandson. He must always be
“You seem like a really
supportive gramma. That’s cool. When I was in my super hardcore death metal
phase, mine just dragged me to church every Sunday.” A digital beep accompanies nearly every word as he
skillfully rings up each grocery down the line.
“Oh, I would never do
that. Mainly because I no longer belong to a church. And also because Todd
seems so averse to discussing Bible passages, so I never force him.”
At this, Todd gives a
wry smile. He places the final handful of groceries onto the conveyor belt and
sidles around Granny to the other side of the checkout, bagging the groceries
that have already been scanned. It seems the official bag boy has fled in
“I can imagine. Never
one for religion, myself. Oh, and you’re eligible for the senior citizen’s
discount, so let me just…” Sam pauses a moment to key in a code on the register
and it dings. “Aaand, there. Your total comes out to $204.56. Stocking up for
the winter already? It’s only March.”
“Oh, dear, no. Half of
this is for the food drive!” Granny Ethel chuckles good-naturedly as she leans
her cane against the counter and digs through her small pocketbook and produces
a checkbook, then dives back in to search for her favorite pen.
Sam turns to Todd while
awaiting payment. “By the way, dude, that costume is killer. I’ve never seen anything so realistic, with the added bonus
that you scared the boss away! Totally made my day. My week, even.”
Todd gives a nod, happy
to be of service, even if it isn’t a costume. He can’t exactly say it aloud. Perhaps
one day he’ll learn how to speak English coherently, but for now nonverbal cues
work just fine.
Finally, Granny Ethel
finds her pink, plastic jewel-encrusted ballpoint pen and makes out a check to
DeVille-Mart, even going so far as to take one of the heavier paper bags for
herself, never one to make Todd carry all of the groceries himself. “You have a
wonderful day, young man. Thank you.”
“Y’all have a great
day, too, Ma’am.” Sam offers a toothy smile, and it seems sincere enough as he sees
them off with a lazy wave “Hope to be seeing you shop here again.”
Todd isn’t so sure they’ll
ever return once upper management hears about this visit, but it’s nice to know
they are accepted by at least one individual.
“Now, Todd, let’s get
to the food bank. We have such a long day ahead of us. But there’s a reward at
the end of it—I bought ingredients specifically for chocolate turtle brownies!”
If the visit to the
food bank is in any way similar to this excursion—and it will be, he decides,
as yet another gawking driver’s car slow-collides with the corner vending
machine when they pass through the automatic doors—they have a long day ahead
of them, indeed.
did you notice in the noir event that kara and todo have matching tattoos? because i did and i died
OOh they’re very similar! I wonder if tottys goes around his body like kara’s what I can see is that Dragon on kara, the head is in his arm and the tail is his leg, must be contrary for totty since I only see the tail AND it seems Kara overdid his dragon ,its all over his body, totty’s is only showin one arm BUT WHO CARES THIS IS AWESOME DRAGON BROS
Thoughts on Zendaya’s character in Spiderman Homecoming:
So SPOILER WARNING of course.
While I might be reaching here, I like the implication behind MJ’s update in the new Spiderman movie. Like, you know how Flash, instead of being the stereotypical jock bully, was updated to be a smug douchebag? I like the changes because I think they’re a better parallel to the current generation of teenagers.
The jock bully character is definitely a product of the past so in order to have a bully that’s more fitting to current teenagers, Flash had to be updated. Now, how does this tie back to MJ?
Well, MJ has been changed to a sarcastic intellectual whose always in her books. I like this change because it’s, whether intentional or not, is implying that the new “it” crowd are geeks and geniuses.
For so long, Peter Parker has been portrayed as the “unpopular” one because he was a smart geek. But nowadays, geek culture is in. Look at how many movies we have based on comic books, old science fiction/fantasy franchises, video games, and so on and so forth. So updating MJ, the popular girl who was way out of Peter’s league, as an intellectual who is part of the academic decathlon is a really damn good update in my opinion.
And you know what, I want to see this explored in the sequel. I wanna see Peter and MJ bond over nerdy shit. I wanna see MJ still become the most popular girl in school but still remain her geeky self. I want someone to call Pete a nerd and for MJ to shout, “Yeah, so am I, you got a problem with that?”
Just saying, I think there’s a lot of potential with this different interpretation of Mary Jane Watson. Not everything has to be 100% comics accurate.
P.S.: Yes I know her name is Michelle Jones but come on, she’s still “MJ”. The same way Robin John Blake was “Robin” in TDKR.