We Stand On Guard 1

we stand on guard

Today, Taylor and Ryan are discussing We Stand On Guard 1, originally released July 1st, 2015.

Taylor: You don’t have to sort through many comics, movies, or books before you find a story about a war, on earth, set in the relatively near future. A lot of the time, these stories are a good way of capturing the zeitgeist of time in which it was written. Take, for example, much of the sci-fi written during the Cold War. What percentage of that writing focuses on a then-likely war with the Soviet Union and/or nuclear holocaust? Keeping that in mind, some might find it surprising that Brian K. Vaughan’s new series We Stand On Guard is about a future war between the USA and… Canada? Yes, the country known for its benign nature is now the centerpiece for a story about war. But why? As it turns out there are plenty of reasons which make this a promising series premier.

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Princess Leia 5

princess leia 5

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Princess Leia 5, originally released July 1st, 2015.

Patrick: Love it or hate it, I’m a Wisconsin boy – born, raised, and educated. It’s a weird culture to grow up in, but it’s an even weirder culture to have to carry with you for the rest of your life. There are some awesome parts of being from Wisconsin, like an enthusiastic beer culture or an emphasis on education or the outdoors. Plus there’s the general air of friendliness that permeates my every visit to the homestead. But man, oh man, there are also a ton of drawbacks to that cultural identity: a meatheaded obsession with sports (specifically, the Green Bay Packers), unhealthy and frequently disgusting cuisine, and a bunch of casual institutionalized racism. And every person I meet is surprised that I’m not some backwoods, smalltown hick. Worse are the negative characteristics I actually take with me wherever I go, like juvenile appetite for dairy products and that irrepressible accent. Throughout the course of Princess Leia, Mark Waid and Terry and Rachel Dodson have presented us with Leia’s cultural identity, and with the final issue boldly declares that being Alderaanian is a powerful thing. Love it and hate it. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 16

ms marvel 16 swToday, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Ms. Marvel 16, originally released June 17th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

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Spencer: Being a teenager comes with a skewed sense of priorities. Every setback you face feels like the end of the world, even something as simple as failing a test or embarrassing yourself in front of your crush. As the superheroic Ms. Marvel, Kamala Kahn’s problems are often much more severe than the typical teenager’s, but even she sometimes needs a lesson in priorities — it’s just a shame that Kamala’s reminder takes the shape of the literal end of the world. If that sounds depressing, don’t worry — despite the heavier subject matter, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona never let Ms. Marvel 16 feel gloomy or depressing, instead focusing on the same mix of humor, heart, and adventure that’s made this title such a delight from the very start. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1

tmnt casey & april 1

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Taylor: When you’re in a relationship with someone for a long time, it’s inevitable that you and your partner will eventually get into a tiff. Sometimes this might be precipitated by a single event and sometimes it’s the culmination of a lot of little things that have added up over time. In either case: you’re heading into an awkward situation. You’re upset with your significant other, but given the nature of your relationship you may end up spending time together anyway. Moments like this have a habit of happening in the car — where you have no choice but to stay together and fume. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1 throws us into just such a situation and we’re forced to consider just how good of a couple April and Casey really are. Continue reading

Marvel Zombies 1

marvel zombies 1 sw

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Marvel Zombies 1, originally released June 10th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For our conversations on the rest of Secret Wars last week, click here.

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Taylor: Whenever the subject of bleak and/or depressing stories comes up, I’m quick to point out that Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is perhaps the paragon of the genre. The book follows a man and his boy in an apocalyptic landscape as they struggle to survive in a world devoid of almost all life. While the narrative itself is heavy, what makes the book truly depressing for me is that it deals with the question of why try to survive at all. The book asks the uncomfortable question: if life is nothing but a struggle, why continue living it? Similarly, Marvel Zombies 1 has me considering these same questions. However, unlike the The Road, Marvel Zombies does spare some room for hope among the horror. Continue reading

Gotham Academy 7

gotham academy 7

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Gotham Academy 7, originally released June 10th, 2015.

Aren’t you two just the most precious, holding hands like that?!

Professor MacPherson

Drew: There are few experiences in life more alien than navigating your first crush. Fairytales and Disney movies insure that we’re all familiar with the idea of romance long before we ever feel those feelings ourselves, which makes them all the more bizarre when they start happening. With so much of childhood filled with understanding our emotions, it’s almost cruel that we’re thrown a totally new one just as we enter the most awkward stage of our lives. Indeed, that we don’t know how to process those feelings is exactly we tend to be so bad about acting on them, pulling pigtails or standing sheepishly at the middle school dance. It takes a while for kids to gain the confidence to push past that awkward confusion. Unless, of course, you’re Maps Mizoguchi, in which case a magic quill will take care of that for you. Continue reading

Zero 17

zero 17

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Zero 17, originally released June 3rd, 2015.

Make art, not war.

Traditional

Patrick: Perhaps it’s because the above statement is so simple that tracking down a specific origin proves so difficult. A little bit of on-line research will keep pointing back to street artist Shepard Fairey — who did design the now-iconic image that often accompanies the phrase. Even if we assume Fairey’s authority, the artist’s populist message and street-art aesthetic makes it hard to credit him with any particular concept or turn of phrase. “Make art, not war” is also clearly a reference to the anti-Vietnam War slogan “make love, not war,” which itself has an origin that is up for debate. Be it art or be it love, there is a persistent need for something that man can consider the opposite of war, so it’s fitting that these slogans should resist a single point of origin. Like the fungus in Zero, they come from everywhere — in all times and all realities — to mitigate the suffering caused by war. Continue reading

Star Wars Round-Up: Star Wars 6, Princess Leia 4 and Darth Vader 6

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Today, Patrick, Michael and Taylor discuss Star Wars 6, Princess Leia 4 and Darth Vader 6.
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Patrick: This week’s crop of Star Wars comics is unique in that it’s the first time we’re seeing multiple Marvel Star Wars comics released all on one day. All three find our characters struggling to understand and assert their place in the universe. Sometimes that struggle is literal, as in Darth Vader’s duel to claim his right as Palpatine’s protege. Sometimes the struggle is more abstract, as in Leia’s coming to terms with what it means to be the princess of a planet that no longer exists. And sometimes, it’s just blasters and lightsabers! So, let’s gather ’round and dig in to some stories from A Long Time Ago.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 6

squirrel girl 6

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 6, originally released June 3rd, 2015.

Drew: Hero punches bad guy. Bad guy goes to jail. Hero winks at the camera. It’s an ending we’ve seen a million times, but after 6 issues, its clear that Unbeatable Squirrel Girl will never be quite so rote. That’s not to say that Doreen isn’t perfectly capable of punching bad guys (or winking at the camera), just that she may be more open to alternative solutions to her problems. It’s an approach that is surprisingly rare in the world of superhero comics, but makes perfect sense when you look at her character sheet: talking is one of her superpowers. Sure, the remarkable part of that power may be that she can talk to squirrels, but honestly, conversation powers are rare enough when it comes to superheroes to forgive the generalization. This issue reminds us of why that power is so key to who Doreen is, then pushes beyond it to show us what else makes her so special. Continue reading

All-New Hawkeye 3

all new hawkeye 3

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing All-New Hawkeye 3, originally released May 27th, 2015.

Spencer: Matt Fraction’s run on Hawkeye got a lot of mileage out of a deceptively simple mission statement: “Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.” What Clint does when not being an Avenger is an insanely broad concept, but in Fraction’s run it quickly narrowed into a focus on how Clint handled loss. When tasked with the duty of following up on a run as iconic as Fraction’s, it’s no surprise that Jeff Lemire flipped everything on its head, changing the mission statement to “This is what [Clint Barton and Kate Bishop] do when they do what they do best.” Lemire’s concept of focusing on Clint as a super-hero is even broader than Fraction’s, and as I’ve pored over the last few issues of All-New Hawkeye, I’ve been waiting for his story to similarly build some kind of deeper overarching theme. This month’s issue in particular is almost screaming that it has some sort of deeper meaning or underlying message, yet I’m struggling to come up with one. I’m starting to think that I’ve been approaching this title all wrong. If this is a book about what Clint and Kate do when they do what they do best, then maybe what’s most important are the actual details of what they’re doing. Fortunately, those details are pretty charming. Continue reading