June 23, 2022


Constructor: Amanda Rafkin

Editor: Amanda Rafkin

Theme Answers:
GREEN ARROW (17A: DC Comics archer who sometimes dresses like Robin Hood)
SCARLET WITCH (29A: Marvel sorceress portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen)
SILVER SURFER (48A: Fantastic Four ally with metallic skin)
BLACK WIDOW (63A: Avenger aka Natasha Romanoff)

Theme synopsis: Each theme answer is a superhero (CHARACTER) with a COLOR in their name.

And now a word from our constructor:
Amanda: I think I whet my own appetite with my Batman villains puzzle back in March, and then proceeded to make just a ton of comic book themed/inspired puzzles. This is one of them. It brings me joy. If this is also your jam, then I'm stoked for you and hope you can nerd out with pleasure. If it's not your jam, whelp, better luck tomorrow. My absolute favorite character in the entire MCU is in this puzzle, but I won't say who here because *spoilers*. Feel free to take a guess though and I'll let you know if you're right ;)

Things I learned:
  • EMO (1A: Mayday Parade genre) Mayday Parade is a band whose music has been described as EMO, EMO pop, pop punk, pop rock, rock, and alt rock. They released their seventh studio album, What It Means to Fall Apart, in 2021. It took me a bit to realize the first letter of Parade was capitalized and the clue wasn't referring to an actual parade happening on May 1.
  • OPERA (3D: Du Yun's "Angel's Bone," e.g.) Angel's Bone is a one-act OPERA by Chinese-born American composer Du Yun. The OPERA is the story of two angels that are nostalgic for earthly delights and mysteriously find themselves back on Earth. The angels are discovered by a couple in financial crisis who enslave and exploit them. Angel's Bone won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • GREEN ARROW (17A: DC Comics archer who sometimes dresses like Robin Hood) GREEN ARROW is the superhero persona of Oliver Jonas Queen, a wealthy businessman in Star City. GREEN ARROW uses his archery skills to fight crime in Star City and Seattle. He is a member of the DC Comics' Justice League.
  • SARA (24A: Bareilles of "Girls5eva") Girls5eva is a TV series that premiered in 2021. The musical comedy focuses on four women that were part of a girl group (named Girls5eva) that had a one-hit-wonder. SARA Bareilles plays the role of Dawn, the self-proclaimed "chill one" of Girls5eva.
  • I MAY (27A: "Haven't decided yet...") and CAN I (68A: "Would it be OK?") I liked this introspective conversational pair.
  • SCARLET WITCH (29A: Marvel sorceress portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen) SCARLET WITCH, aka Wanda Maximoff, made her first appearance in The X-Men #4 in 1964. The SCARLET WITCH has superhuman abilities, a result of experimentation done on her as a child. She was originally portrayed as a reluctant supervillain, but joined the Avengers a year after her debut and has been a superhero ever since. As the clue informs us, Elizabeth Olsen plays the role of the SCARLET WITCH in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), including in the TV miniseries, WandaVision.
  • SILVER SURFER (48A: Fantastic Four ally with metallic skin) The SILVER SURFER first appeared in 1966 in the Marvel comic, Fantastic Four #48. A humanoid alien, the SILVER SURFER is able to travel through space (faster than light) on his surfboard-like craft.  
  • LSD (52A: "Flying Over Sunset" drug) I learned about the musical, Flying Over Sunset, from the March 16, 2022 puzzle. The show is an imagined account of a meeting between Aldous Huxley, Clare Boothe Luce, and Cary Grant, who all use LSD.
  • NESS (53A: Jonathan Van ___ ("Queer Eye" star)) Jonathan Van NESS stars on the Netflix series, Queer Eye, as the expert on hair, grooming, personal hygiene, and makeup. 
  • MMA (57A: Sport that uses grappling gloves) MMA stands for mixed martial arts, a full-contact combat sport.
  • VAIN (61A: "You're so ___ / You probably think this song is about you") "Don't you? / don't you?" These lyrics are from Carly Simon's 1972 song, "You're So VAIN." I have previously written about what Carly Simon has said about the subject of this song. 
  • BLACK WIDOW (63A: Avenger aka Natasha Romanoff) and NAT (62D: Nickname for 63-Across) The BLACK WIDOW, aka Natasha Romanoff, or NAT, is a Marvel Comics character that was introduced as a Russian spy. She later defected to the United States and joined the Avengers. Scarlett Johansson portrayed the BLACK WIDOW in the MCU. (Wouldn't it have been fitting for Scarlett Johansson to portray the SCARLET WITCH?)
  • AO DAI (67A: Vietnamese garment) I have written about AO DAI several times previously.
  • EGGS (1D: Easter ___ (hidden bonuses in many superhero movies)) This is a fun bonus theme answer, and, fittingly, Amanda has included several Easter EGGS in this puzzle. Here are the Easter EGGS I've found. Let me know if you find others!
    • BIRD (41D: Falcon, e.g.) Falcon (aka Sam Wilson) is a Marvel Comics superhero that uses mechanical wings to fly like a BIRD.
    • EVIL (56D: Like Hela and Thanos) Hela is a Marvel Comics character usually depicted as an EVIL adversary of Thor. Cate Blanchett played Hela in the 2017 movie, Thor: Ragnarok. Thanos is an EVIL Marvel Comics supervillain that made his debut in 1973 in The Invincible Iron Man #55. In the MCU, Thanos is portrayed mainly by Josh Bolin (via motion capture).
    • CAR (65D: Batmobile, e.g.) The Batmobile is, of course, the CAR driven by the DC Comics superhero Batman.
  • NAACP (18A: Image Awards org.) The NAACP Image Awards are presented annually to honor outstanding performances in film, televisions, theater, music, and literature. Here's a deeply hidden Easter EGG: The 2018 superhero movie, Black Panther (based on the Marvel Comics COLORFUL CHARACTER of the same name), won ten NAACP Image Awards.
  • SIWA (22D: Dancer and singer JoJo) I first learned about JoJo SIWA from the June 16, 2021 puzzle
  • SKIT (59D: "The Big Gay Sketch Show" segment) The Big Gay Sketch Show is a TV series that was created by Rosie O'Donnell and premiered in 2007. The show featured comedy SKITs with LGBTQ themes.

    Geography review:

    • OLYMPUS (26D: Home to the Greek gods) Mount OLYMPUS is the highest mountain in Greece. It is the home of the gods in Greek mythology. And it's another Easter EGG. The Olympian Gods are DC Comics characters based on classic Greek mythology. These characters have made appearances in Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and Aquaman comics. This August, DC Comics is releasing a new comic titled OLYMPUS: Rebirth #1.
    So many COLORFUL CHARACTERS! It's hard to pick a favorite, but if you have a guess about which superhero is Amanda's favorite CHARACTER, drop it in the comments, and while you're at it, let me know which superhero is your favorite. I enjoyed everything about this puzzle. In addition to the COLORFUL theme and all the Easter EGGS, we have delightful fill such as LOST AT SEA, HAS IT MADE, ABILITIES (super ones, perhaps?), and UNICYCLES. Thank you, Amanda, for this puzzle that was a fabulous way to begin my Thursday.
    And if you're still reading, thank you...there was so much I wanted to write about today!


    1. One more fun thing! We've seen this puzzle title - COLORFUL CHARACTERS - before with a completely different theme set. (May 1, 2022: https://usatodayxwordblog.blogspot.com/2022/05/may-1-2022.html)


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