Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing Hulk 1, originally released April 16, 2014.
Shelby: I love online quizzes, the dumber the better. If I can answer a dozen questions and find out which sandwich I am, I rest easier at night. There’s always that one question, “If you friends could pick one word to describe you, what would that word be?” that always gives me pause. How can a person be distilled down to just one, defining thing? And how am I supposed to know what other people would say that one thing is? Comic book characters probably don’t suffer the same sort of existential crisis I feel talking personality quizzes because most of them do have that one thing that defines them. Take Bruce Banner, for instance. He’s defined by his intelligence; he’s one of the smart ones. Well, I suppose he’s also defined by his predilection towards turning into a green rage monster, but if we consider Bruce alone, the one word I’d use to describe him would be “smartypants.” So, what does it mean for the character if he loses that one thing that makes him who he is? Or who he was, anyway.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Wonder Woman 30, originally released April 16th, 2014.
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, Drew and Taylor are discussing East of West 11, originally released April 9th, 2014.
That’s when the attack comes — not from the front, no, from the side, from the other two raptors you didn’t even know were there.
- Alan Grant, Jurassic Park
- Robert Muldoon, Jurassic Park
Drew: I’m not sure I can explain why, but some of my favorite movies feature surprises that are actually spoiled within the movie itself. Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy perfected this idea, basically using it to structure each film, but my all-time favorite example has to be the raptor attack from Jurassic Park. The attack doesn’t come until towards the end of the movie, but is actually explained, virtually point-for-point, by Grant within the first ten minutes. In the excitement of the scene, we forget what Grant said about raptor attacks, and can only piece it together after it happens — after we realize that we already knew what would happen. While Jonathan Hickman doesn’t hide anything quite as shocking as a surprise velociraptor in East of West 11, he does blindside us with an element that has been hidden in plain sight since the beginning: the Endless Nation.
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.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Punisher 4, originally released April 2nd, 2014.
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.
I’m not sure this was worth it.
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.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 1, originally released March 26th, 2014.
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.
Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Superman/Wonder Woman 6, originally released March 12th, 2014.
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.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing East of West 10, originally released March 12th, 2014.
Taylor: Anyone who’s been reading the news lately has been spoiled by a surprising amount of entertaining stories. The mystery of the vanished Malaysian airliner has captivated the world since each day new and more confounding information is released about its fateful voyage. Then there’s the ongoing political crisis in Crimea. Vladimir Putin’s bizarre quest to take back a former Russian province has set the Western world afire. With stories such as these making the news one would wonder why we need to read fiction since the real world seems capable of delivering enough entertainment on its own. As if in answer to this question, East of West 10 tells us why fiction and comics are important. This issue seems to hold a mirror up to the world and the reflection, while twisted, is all too recognizable as belonging to nothing but humanity.