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, Taylor and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 25, originally released April 9th, 2014.
Taylor: They, the ever shifting and nebulous authority that knows more than us, is always saying that hindsight is 20/20. Once events have played out, we know exactly what we should have done in a given situation to obtain our desired results. It’s a damned feeling; there’s nothing you can do about it but you kick yourself for not doing the right thing. This feeling is often so frustrating that it can keep us up at night, pondering the grand “what if?” While that can be crushing, just imagine what the feeling would be like if perhaps you could change the past, if only you thought about it hard enough. Hank McCoy (the one in his proper time) knows this feeling and All-New X-Men 25 shows us just how deep and dark that hole can be.
Patrick: I can’t think of a superhero with a more troubling psychological origin story than Frank Castle. The circumstances are as cliche as they come: Frank’s family is murdered, driving him to take revenge on those responsible. But Frank’s able to abstract that responsibility and extend it to All Criminals. Very pointedly, he is not an agent of justice, and he’s not looking to make anything right — his goals and his ideology are so neatly wrapped up in his code name. Punisher. Obviously, his approach requires a horrifically oversimplified view of criminals, there’s no room for mercy or subtlety. But that also means there’s no room for complication: Frank’s MO is too pure for corruption. The world around Punisher isn’t so simple, and as issue four simultaneously focuses in Frank’s character and broadens out to illuminate his world, it’s clear that he’s up against threats on a scale totally inappropriate for a street-level executioner.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Starlight 2, originally released April 2nd, 2014
Taylor: In Western society we have a bad habit of forgetting the elderly. Indeed, when we aren’t forgetting them, the aged are bothering the young with their healthcare needs, their devotion to voting, and their being a reminder of what awaits us all later in life. I have to admit, one of my deepest fears is growing old and being alone with no one around giving a crap about this old fart. The gut-punch that was the first issue of Starlight explored the way a meaningful life can wither into one of loneliness and with it, a tale of redemption was set. In the second issue of the series, Duke McQueen — senior citizen and planet saver — laces up his boots once again to save Tantalus and it is an absolute delight.
Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 13, originally released March 26th, 2014.
Scott: It always amuses me when a character voices my same feelings towards an in-story event. It can be so tragically ironic. In this case, Gamora wondering if the Guardians’ involvement in rescuing Jean Grey is worth the heat it’s going to draw from the Shi-ar echoed the feelings I’ve had towards their role in ‘The Trial of Jean Grey’. The finale to this six-part event hits some emotional beats, but like the previous installments, the personal moments tend to revolve around the X-Men, leaving this series’ protagonists feeling left out. Ultimately, it’s an awkward goodbye to a crossover that never quite gelled and, frankly, probably wasn’t worth three issues the Guardians’ time. Oh, and Groot gets weird with some trees.
Taylor: Surfer’s have always had a pretty bogus rap around popular culture. We tend to think of them as west coast bums who have forgone any responsibility in their endless pursuit of the perfect wave. It’s an unfair stereotype and one that fails to acknowledge the deep community and thoughtful demeanor of a lot of surfers out there. Similarly, the Silver Surfer has struggled with his one reputation. Once the harbinger of doom for Galactus, the Silver Surfer now spends his days trying to make up for a past life of wrongdoing. His reputation is poor but maybe with enough good deeds he can change the way others look at him… and perhaps change the universe as well.
Scott: Why are Superman and Wonder Woman together? Anyone remotely tuned in to the DC Universe has wondered this at some point in the past several months. On the surface, it seems perhaps too convenient, or little more than an attention-grabbing ploy. Realistically though, doesn’t the relationship make perfect sense? People date the people they spend the most time with. A 20 year old college student is most likely to date another 20 year old who goes to the same college. So, in a time when Justice League duties seem to be dominating many heroes’ lives, it’s only appropriate that Clark and Diana, the two most similar Justice Leaguers, would get together. The real question is, what does their relationship have to offer us as readers? If Clark and Diana are going to be spending a lot of time together just by the nature of their jobs, does a romantic relationship add anything to the story? With Superman/Wonder Woman 6, Charles Soule sets the record straight — the relationship and, thus, this book, is more than the sum of it’s parts.
“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”
Patrick: I have a number of teacher-friends, my colleague and responder on this article, Taylor among them. The idiom above is largely bullshit, but it stings enough that I’ve seen links posted on facebook to articles decrying the attitude that it represents. The argument always follows that teaching presents its own specific challenges, distinct from the discipline being taught. (The follow-up argument, naturally, being that teachers are under-valued in our society, but like whatever: we’re all undervalued.) For my money, the hardest thing about teaching has got to be the shifting of priorities, from the betterment of yourself to the betterment of others. When I fail myself — write a bad article, perform as crummy scene, log something incorrectly in QuickBooks — I’m mostly just hurting myself. But when a teacher blows off their duties, there are a bunch of people, children even, that pay the price. Wolverine and the X-Men renumbers itself and zeros in on this burden of responsibility, just who can deal with it and who’s struggling. Continue reading