E is for Extinction 4

Alternating Currents: E is for Extinction 4, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing E is for Extinction 4, originally released September 30th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check out our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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Drew: Do you ever hate movies for ruining a good premise? Like, not just for failing to live up to the potential they had, but for poisoning that premise for anyone else. You might have an interesting story where plants conspire to wipe out humanity, but the only thing anyone will see when they look at it is The Happening. A similar phenomenon can happen with smaller details, from memorable character names to meet-cutes to death scenes, that, for one reason or another, are so strongly associated with a crummy piece of art that it’s difficult to repeat. X-Men: The Last Stand is one such piece of crummy art, yet E is for Extinction 4 aims to reclaim many of the moments it had soiled. That’s an unexpected windmill to tilt at, but the more surprising fact is that the issue largely succeeds in winning those moments back. Continue reading

Runaways 4

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Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Runaways 4, originally released September 23rd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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“If there’s one thing I love, it’s teens who stay teens even when the situation is really dire, and so even when they’re running for their lives they never quite lose sight of crushes, pretensions, anxiety about their future and who they’re going to be. Sometimes those situations can feel just as life-or-death as…actual life-or-death.”

Noelle Stevenson, Runaways 4 letters page

Spencer: I loved Runaways 4′s letters page; the sheer unfettered enthusiasm and creativity from readers warmed my heart. But to me, the most insightful moment of that page is the above quote from Runaways writer Noelle Stevenson, which explains the greatest strength of both this mini-series and its finale magnificently. To these characters, coming to a romantic realization is just as significant as escaping from the Doom Institute; Stevenson and artist Sanford Greene realize that and treat every victory with equal importance. It makes for an uplifting, triumphant finale. Continue reading

1872 3

1872 3

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing 1872 3, originally released September 23rd, 2015.

Taylor: We just can’t seem to leave the Wild West, can we? Throughout the entire 20th century and well into the 21st the Western has endured in books, movies, TV shows, and of course comics. I guess there’s just something appealing about a world where there is no law except for the gun you hold in your hand. We all know for the most part these portrayals of the Old West are pretty inaccurate. It was neither as exciting or dangerous as one would have you believe. However, that hasn’t stopped artists from visiting a world we just can’t get enough of. Now into its third issue, I think it’s fair to judge whether 1872 is a version of the West we want to visit again and again, or one we let hit the ol’ dusty trail.

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The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5

Alternating Currents: The Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows 5, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5, originally released September 2nd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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Drew: It’s rare that we ever put a spoiler warning up on the site. It’s been suggested more than once, but we usually come to the conclusion that it would be redundant — it would be impossible to have the kind of in-depth discussions we have about comics without acknowledging what happened within them. That’s always been enough to end the conversation, but I also tend to think that superhero comics are impossible to spoil — or maybe that it’s they’re impossible not to spoil. That is to say, we don’t come to superhero stories to be surprised at the outcome, but to be inspired by them. I mean, “Spider-Man saves the day” isn’t exactly revelatory, but it describes the majority of Spider-Man stories (though not necessarily each individual issue), and doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Indeed, that we know Spider-Man will get back up to fight again is exactly what makes him such an enduring character in the first place. So when The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows inevitably lives up to its name, its predictability is a strength, not a weakness. Continue reading

Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos 2

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Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos 2, originally released July 8th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

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Spencer: One of my best friends and I quite often find ourselves arguing about how “realistic” a story should be. He loves stories that could take place in our “real” world, while they sometimes rub me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, there’s quite a few stories that benefit from a sense of gritty realism (The Black Hood is an excellent, recent example), but I resent the idea that all stories need to be realistic. Our world is quite often an awful place, and fiction is my way of escaping it — I get a lot of joy out of stories that can break the restrictive rules of our reality. Gerry Duggan and Salva Espin’s Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos 2 is just such a story, one which takes great pleasure in transcending the limits of both reality and traditional narrative structures. It’s a hoot. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 6/3/15

secret wars roundup3Today, Drew, Patrick and Spencer discuss Secret Wars 3, Giant-Sized Little Marvel AvX 1, Future Imperfect 1, Years of Future Past 1, and Secret Wars Battleworld 2.

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Drew: There’s nothing like comics continuity — and I mean that quite literally. Virtually no other narratives feature the same kinds of questions about whether something happened, how so and so exists if that didn’t happen, whether or not characters remember events that did happen before they didn’t, or if all of the events we’re reading will somehow be undone in the future. I’ve never been particularly interested in what is and isn’t canon (as far as I’m concerned, the only stories that “count” in comics are the ones that I’ve read), but it’s certainly interesting to see how the Big Two twist themselves up in knots to explain things. Marvel has long touted its continuity as being unbroken (a few retcons notwithstanding), in contrast to DC’s system of periodically “resetting” their universe with a massive crisis, but Secret Wars began with proudly proclaiming the death of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Indeed, this week finds writers not just defending that break, but reveling in it. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 1

ASM Renew Yor Vows 1 header

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 1, originally released June 3rd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back tomorrow for our Secret Wars Round-Up!

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Spencer: Becoming a parent requires a serious reshuffling of priorities. Unlike what a lot of movies will try to convince you, it doesn’t mean that a new parent has to drop every activity they ever loved, but it does mean that those activities — and literally everything else in the world — takes a back seat to the duty they have to raise and protect their new child. It’s a staggering responsibility, even to someone like Peter Parker, who, as Spider-Man, has devoted most of his life to shouldering great responsibility. What happens when Peter puts his family before his duties as Spider-Man? That’s the question at the heart of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 1, and the answer is rather startling. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 5/27/15

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Today, Patrick and Drew discuss Old Man Logan 1, Where Monsters Dwell 1, Infinity Gauntlet 1, M.O.D.O.K. Assassin 1, Secret Wars 2099 1, X-Men ’92 Infinite Comic 1, Inhumans: Attilan Rising 1 and Secret Wars Journal 1.
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“So… isn’t that just Convergence?”

Comic Fan, Traditional

Patrick: The slug line for DC and Marvel’s big events couldn’t be much more similar: characters and concepts from the greatest stories in the publishers’ legacies are forced to physically live on the same planet. Conflict ensues. In Convergence, that conflict was prescribed by the villain that brought those worlds together. Telos made the characters fight each other for survival in a sort of superhero Hunger Games. Many of the tie-in issues found other narrative avenues to explore, but the set-up was tortuously samey (including a broadcast monologue I had to read 41 times). The issues springing out of Secret Wars, on the other hand, seem to have their own agendas: themes, ideas and values that drive the narrative forward — the patchwork planet is simply set dressing. Continue reading

Convergence: Justice Society of America 2

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Today, Mark and Spencer are discussing Convergence: Justice Society of America 2, originally released May 27th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: “With great power comes great responsibility” is one of the most iconic phrases in comic book pop culture. Most often associated with Spider-Man, it also seems to be a guiding storytelling principle for a lot of modern comics and (most pointedly) DC’s Batman and Superman films as of late. The idea that being a superhero is a huge burden is an easy storytelling device. It quickly humanizes and “grounds” an otherwise fantastical character. It’s also a plot machination that can drive me crazy. Part of my intolerance is absolutely a sense of envy. How can a character be dissatisfied with life when they have super powers? Super powers! Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 5/20/15

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Today, Drew and Patrick discuss Ultimate End 1, Battleworld 1, Planet Hulk 1, Spider-Verse 1, and Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars 1.
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I have no idea what Secret Wars is going to be.

Retcon Punch, Traditional

Drew: Seriously, though: what is Secret Wars? Is it an excuse to revisit popular stories from Marvel’s history? Is it a means to merge the 616 Universe with the most popular elements of the Ultimate Universe? Is it an open field for creators to try out goofy ideas? Is it a stupid summer crossover event designed to sell comics? Offering the first real taste of what the tie-in issues, this week’s offerings suggest that the answer to all of our questions is “yes.” Continue reading