Taylor: The internet is an amazing tool. The rhetorical nature of that comment is almost so great that it’s remarkable, but I think it’s occasionally a good exercise to step back and take stock of the amazing things that make up our world. In the recent past the internet has caused real social change given its ability to unite people behind a singular cause. In particular, the movement for gender equality seems to be gaining more and more steam, as both women and men are able to voice their experiences with prejudice in their daily lives. Comics, being a reflection of the world of which gave them birth, are also picking up on this trend. It seems only natural that Wonder Woman, a title which features an empowered female lead, would eventually weigh in on this subject. However, the subtlety and grace with which it broaches this topic in issue 30 is both unexpected and wonderfully wrought, making for an memorably understated episode.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing The Superior Spider-Man 31, originally released April 16th, 2014.
Shelby: If I learned anything from watching countless episodes of M*A*S*H* as a child, it’s that the first step of dealing with any disaster is triage. You need to assess the situation and make some quick decisions to prioritize your next steps. Usually this means letting some people in pain suffer a little while longer so you can tend to the immediately life-threatening issues. It’s only after you’ve stopped the bleeding and patched up the worse off can you step back and consider the situation as a whole; that’s the point you can begin to make some decisions about long-term fixes and really start cleaning up your mess.
Spencer: It’s rough to start picking up a new comic in the middle of a storyline. If I can’t buy a book starting with issue one, I try to wait for a new storyline to begin, and I’m far from the only person with this strategy. Charles Soule wisely takes advantage of this in his and Paco Diaz’s Thunderbolts 24; while much of the issue is devoted to establishing the new storyline to come, there’s enough focus on the characters and team dynamic to make this the perfect first issue for any Thunderbolts-newbie. If you aren’t already picking this book up, now’s the time to give it a try! Continue reading
Shelby: Mistaken identities and their resulting confusion have got to be one of the more commonly used plot devices out there. I think just about every play I did in high school drama involved people being mistaken for someone else and a lot of hiding in closets/multiple door antics. It’s commonly used because it’s one small moment that can quickly telescope into an entire story; each person’s unexpected reaction based on the mistake triggers another unexpected reaction, and so on and so forth. It’s so easy when we’re outside observers to see that if everyone would just calm down and think for a second, everything would make sense. As Carol Danvers is about to learn, however, sometimes mistakes happen so fast, you don’t even have a second to spare to think about it. Continue reading
Hell is a terrible place. Maggots are your sheet, worms your blanket, there’s a lake of fire burning with sulfur. You’ll be tormented day and night for ever and ever. As a matter of fact, if you actually saw hell, you’d be so frightened, you would die.
Miss Albright, “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment”
Drew: Do you ever get the impression that people are trying way too hard to make hell scary? Fire and brimstone is exactly as generically horrible as harps and white robes are generically pleasant — I understand the gist, but holy crap do those rewards and punishments have no relation to my everyday life. I suppose the reason the over-the-top conception of hell is so frustrating to me is that it ignores a much scarier truth about a life of sin, one that remains true even if you don’t believe in any kind of afterlife: that you may be forever tormented by your own guilt. If you believe you are deserving of some horrible fate, you will spend your days waiting for the axe to fall, while someone at peace with their actions may lead a more serene, contented existence. In that way, Heaven and Hell aren’t destinations we move to at the ends of our lives, but mindsets we create for ourselves as we move through them. These are feelings that tend to lie dormant, but can be brought to the surface by something as big as a loved one passing, or as small as having one too many drinks. Manifest Destiny 6 finds Lewis and Clark confronted by both ends of the spectrum (if you replace the drinks with a potent floral hallucinogen), and shows just how differently they respond.
Patrick: One of the tricks to performing satisfying long form improv is the ability to call out an unusual thing and deal with it. In fact, most of the Upright Citizens Brigade’s comedic philosophy is based around that single truth: whatever’s happening, let’s identify it, explore it and process it. “Don’t be coy” is what that usually breaks down to. Issue 30 of Batgirl is mercilessly coy, refusing to share its biggest secret, but still tries desperately to mine pathos out of it. The result is an emotional clusterfuck — one that I doubt would be satisfying even if the powers that be deemed us worthy of Forever Evil‘s biggest reveals.
Scott: He’s back! The recent Amazing X-Men arc found Kurt Wagner, AKA Nightcrawler, being brought back from the dead, an excellent set-up for a new Nightcrawler title. Nightcrawler 1 not only reintroduces Nightcrawler to the land of the living as the star of his own series, it reunites him with ex-X-Men writer Chris Claremont. There’s a lot of catching up to do, and Claremont seems more interested in writing about Nightcrawler the way he remembers him, rather than concentrating on the things that have happened to the character in the interim. Repercussions of Kurt’s death and new life are strangely absent, making for an uneven and perplexing first issue. Continue reading
-S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill
Patrick: For all the crap people give the superhero genre for being “formulaic” or “predictable,” the medium of comics is anything but. I really liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier — and that flick does take a lot of big crazy chances — but one of the moments I was disappointed by was the split second we thought we were going to see Nick Fury’s car fly through the streets of D.C. Hot damn, I wanted to see that car fly. “Flying car” is one of those things you sorta just have to shrug at and say “comics are weird, man.” Or, more precisely, “there are no rules.” Ales Kot’s Secret Avengers embraces this philosophy, combining a cast of button-down Special Agents with a band of superhero (…and supervillain) misfits into one cacophonous volume. It’s a buffet of surprises, each one gleefully undermining all the others. Continue reading
Drew: Ah, the anthology-style anniversary issue. I absolutely appreciate the concept of bringing in a bunch of top creators to riff on a character they know and love, but in practice, all of that talent ends up competing to leave an impression. That often means wild deconstructions of the very character the issue is celebrating — a thrilling exercise for longtime fans, but one that runs the risk of alienating more casual readers. In the letters column for Daredevil 1.5, editor Ellie Pyle asks what Daredevil means to us, but the question in my mind is “who is this comic for?”