Spencer: Obviously, the major draw of Spider-Verse is getting to see so many Spider-Men together in one place. It’s easy to think of them all as one homogenous whole — they’re all Spiders, after all — but this group is actually quite diverse, with each alternate Spider holding their own opinions and viewpoints. The readers no doubt want to see these heroes all work together, but what happens when their ideals begin to clash? This is the bread-and-butter of Dan Slott and Olivier Coipel’s Amazing Spider-Man 10; from Silk chafing at her strict handlers to the science vs. magic debates of Otto and Old Man Spider, this issue is all about the conflicts that threaten to tear the spiders apart when they need to join together the most. Continue reading
Drew: I love thinking about art. I know that sentiment sometimes seems sterile to folks who prefer to “feel” art, but I’ve really never seen the two as mutually exclusive. Indeed, I think deep thought about why a work of art invokes the feelings that it does makes for a much more rewarding experience, not only for our understanding of the art and ourselves, but for our own emotional satisfaction. For me, analysis doesn’t distance me from the art, it immerses me in it, allowing for countless stories within our favorite works of art. Surprisingly, the biggest resistance I get to this approach is in music, where most people — including musicians — seem to dismiss analysis as a sterilized intellectual endeavor. I personally think this is the result of incomplete familiarity with the tools and techniques of music theory. Even trained musicians tend to think of “theory” as referring to harmonic analysis almost exclusively, which is effectively like saying literary analysis is just the cataloging of assonance. One tool is not enough to effectively analyze any work of art, and flattens all art to existing in a single dimension. Then again, certain works of art lend themselves particularly well to focusing on one — the orchestration of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, for instance — yielding a rich narrative about the work, even if it isn’t the only narrative. I’d argue that Fables has this kind of relationship with allusions — one that is particularly pronounced in issue 146. Continue reading
You can’t tell the players without a program!
Spencer: I actually bought a program at a ballgame once, and while it made a nice souvenir, I can’t say it helped me follow the game any better — if anything, it was a bit of a distraction. I didn’t need to be able to tell the players to follow the action on the field, but the same isn’t true for Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers epic; thankfully, Avengers 38 provides us with a pretty snazzy program of its own, free of charge!
While only the characters in color actually appear in this issue, almost all of them play some sort of role in its story, making me increasingly grateful for this handy run-down. Actually, in its own way all of Avengers 38 is a program; the issue sets up the players in the upcoming conflict between the various Avengers teams as well as their motivations, allegiances, and weapons, and I have a feeling we’re going to be referencing this issue for quite a while to come. It’s place-setting, but place-setting is rarely this entertaining. Continue reading
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Drew and Spencer discuss Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 2, Captain Marvel 9, Silver Surfer 7, Nova 23, Justice League United 6, Batman Eternal 32, Outcast 5, Django/Zorro 1, and Hawkeye vs. Deadpool 2 .
Drew: To say that Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier is a dense read is a bit of an understatment. Indeed, we couldn’t even agree on what the events of the first issue were, let alone how we interpret them. Issue 2 manages to up the ante, taking Marco Rudy’s already trippy art on a literal drug trip, and ensconcing the already difficult-to-follow narrative in a series of Loki illusions. The effect is mesmerizingly like watching a movie half-asleep — you catch the rough outline of the plot, but the actual details are utterly lost — but frustrates any sense of narrative flow. I never like to dismiss a work for my own failure to understand it, but I’ll be damned if I got anything out of this issue other than that Bucky’s sights are now set on Mer-z-bow (though I’d love it if somebody would like to explain it in further detail in the comments). Continue reading
Shane: When you’re working with some of fiction’s most iconic characters, there’s a lot of baggage to handle. Even DC’s New 52 initiative, designed to jettison most of that excess material, is several years old at this point: there’s history, and relationships, and these characters have already gone through a number of personal journeys. Continuity can be messy, so a fresh start can be appealing, but how does one attempt that without alienating the previous audience? And even if you manage to successfully jumpstart an ailing franchise with new energy, launching a first issue that exceeds expectations and captures interest, is it always so simple to maintain that momentum? Continue reading
Drew: Am I the only one who sees Captain America as an unlikely legacy hero? I understand that the precedent was set back when Bucky first took up the mantle, but Captain America has always struck me as a character more defined by his personality than his power-set. I think that tends to be true of Marvel’s heroes in general — Iron Man is less the adventures of a guy with a metal suit, and more the adventures of Tony Stark, for example — which makes the thought of separating the hero from the alter-ego seem almost impossible. If you take Steve Rogers out of the equation, what is Captain America other than a good fighter with a patriotic outfit? That question seems to be at the center of Rick Remender and Stuart Immonen’s All-New Captain America, and while the first issue only addresses it glancingly, it’s clear they have a compelling answer. Continue reading
Shelby: Speaking broadly to make my point, I’ve found there are two types of people in the world: people who like horror and people who don’t. I (probably unsurprisingly) fall in the former category. I’m a big wuss about scary movies, even though I really appreciate them, and at Six Flags’ Fright Fest this year my friend Selene had to hold my hand when we went through the haunted houses (no joke: I am 30 years old), but I still get and like the thrill of being scared. Horror novels have always been my jam; I started on Goosebumps as a kid, graduated to Fear Street in middle school, and straight on to Stephen King in high school. It’s no surprise, then, that I am loving Scott Snyder’s Wytches. Again, no joke, I am writing this with all the lights off, wrapped in a blanket, listening to an album of horror movie music. After all, pledged is pledged. Continue reading
Patrick: Joker is one of those characters that resists definition. In fact, we often use that lack of definition as a defining trait. I’m going to do a disservice to whoever made this observation — because I can’t remember where I first encountered it — but the most terrifying thing about Joker is that you never know whether he’s going to murder a child or throw a pie in Batman’s face. Arguably, the only thing that motivates the character is the desire to be a good Batman villain. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have played with this idea before — the Death of the Family even had Joker buying into the importance of their “relationship” — but this latest arc in Batman seems poised to establish Joker as something else entirely. He’s not a instrument of random, but intriguing, chaos, and he’s not in love with Batman. No: he’s Batman’s nemesis, and that means that he’s a sort of anti-detective, setting up mysteries that Batman cannot solve, corrupting superheroes and putting everyone’s lives in danger in the process. Continue reading
Drew: I tend to jump to conclusions about media before I’ve ever consumed it. I know that seems problematic for someone who reviews media, but with so many movies, shows, and comic books out there, it’s impossible to try them all, so I tend to gravitate towards the ones I think I’ll like. Of course, it’s an imperfect system, meaning I sometimes bet on a dud, or miss something truly great, but without any other way to pre-filter content, I continue to defer to my gut. After weeks and weeks of buildup to Spider-Verse, which seemed to pimp the event as a high-stakes affirmation of Spider-Man’s necessity in not just our universe, but ALL universes, my gut was telling me that this event was not for me, but I decided to give it a fair shot. Fortunately, my gut turned out to be wrong, with Spider-Verse 1 serving not as a herald of doom and gloom, but as a celebration of what makes the idea of Spider-Man so fun in the first place. Continue reading
Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Spencer, Drew, and Shane discuss The Woods 7, Batman Eternal 31, Spider-Verse Team-Up 1, The Legendary Star-Lord 5, Swamp Thing 36, and Tooth and Claw 1.
Spencer: The last few issues of James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas’ The Woods have been character studies, combining flashbacks with the kids’ adventures on the distant moon in order to further flesh out its cast, and while this method has had much success, the story was starting to lose some of its forward momentum in the process. Fortunately, issue 7 fixes that by combining another successful character study with some pretty massive revelations, and it may just be the best issue yet. Continue reading