Avengers 38

avengers 38Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Avengers 38, originally released November 19th, 2014. 

You can’t tell the players without a program!

Traditional

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!

Program

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

She-Hulk 10

she hulk 10Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing She-Hulk 10, originally released November 12th, 2014. 

slim-bannerSpencer: At first glance, there are hardly any similarities between being a writer and being a lawyer, but ultimately, both professions owe a lot to the power of words. Writers use words to bring life to worlds and characters, while lawyers use them to argue and persuade, and sometimes even to tell stories of their own. The case between Jen Walters and Matt Murdock over the fate of Steve Rogers, as presented in Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk 10, is just one of those situations; everything comes down to the two lawyers each telling their own version of the truth and leaving the jury to decide which story they believe. As a look into the criminal justice system, it’s a bit unnerving, but as a showcase of the kind of power storytellers hold, it’s absolutely fascinating. Continue reading

All-New Captain America 1

Alternating Currents: All-New Captain America 1, Drew and TaylorToday, Drew and Taylor are discussing All-New Captain America 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.

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

Superior Iron Man 1

superior iron man 1Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Superior Iron Man 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.

Patrick: Let’s talk about Office Space. It’s a modern comedy classic, and while that Superman-3-inspired conflict is introduced far to late to be in any way meaningful, there are so many great gags and characters that buoy the movie. Plus, it introduced so many phrases into the lexicon — how would we even express ourselves in 2014 without “pieces of flare” or “no talent ass-clown?” But I’ve always had one gripe with Office Space: I always hated that Peter’s attitude change stemmed from something as ridiculous as a hypnotherapy mishap. Rather than giving Peter to agency over his own inciting action, the movie absolves him of any responsibility for what follows. Think about how much more meaningful it would be if Peter decided “fuck it, I don’t care any more” on his own. I find myself wishing the same was true of Superior Iron Man, which throws a bunch of interesting ideas at the wall but refused to let Tony Stark actually be responsible for his own actions. Continue reading

Thor 2

thor 2Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Thor 2, originally released November 12th, 2014.

Taylor: One of the best (and if I’m being totally honest with myself, the very best) parts of visiting a comic book convention is seeing the costumes donned by the attendees. It’s rare that you get to see grown men and women enthusiastically dressed in costumes which reference their pastimes. In particular, I’ve always enjoyed the gender-swapped costumes which many an industrious con-goer has crafted. It speaks to a reader’s dedication when they take the time to craft a costume that is at once recognizable as being the character in question, but also bold enough to envision that character as a different gender. The reboot of Thor, with a lady acting as the titular character, seems to have taken ques from the bold women who have gender swapped heroes in the past. In similar fashion, this She-Thor doesn’t take guff from anyone and is at once assured and powerful. Continue reading

Spider-Verse 1

Alternating Currents: Spider-Verse 1, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Spider-Verse 1, originally released November 12th, 2014.

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

The Amazing Spider-Man 9

amazing spiderman 9Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 9, originally released November 5th, 2014.

Spencer: I started reading comics regularly right at the beginning of DC’s Infinite Crisis crossover event back in 2005 or 2006; the story scattered just about every DC character across the universe, and I must’ve spent hours obsessively charting out which heroes were where. This gave me a big soft spot for massive crossover epics, the kind of stories that can really only be done in superhero comics, which have decades of stories across hundreds of titles to mine. When done right these epics are extraordinarily fun, a testament to the grand histories the DC and Marvel universes have built, but when done wrong they can just feel excessive, too caught up in their own impenetrable histories to tell a coherent story. What strikes me the most about The Amazing Spider-Man 9the first “official” chapter of Spider-Verse — is how aware of this danger writer Dan Slott seems to be. Spider-Verse is a story built around history and cameos, but Slott seems to be going out of his way to make the story — and the stakes — as clear as possible. So far, so good. Continue reading

Rocket Raccoon 5

Alternating Currents: Rocket Raccoon 5, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Spencer are discussing Rocket Raccoon 5, originally released November 5th, 2014.

Drew: I think reading makes us bad at evaluating comics. Or, rather, the fact that literacy so far outstrips our art literacy that the art can often go unnoticed. I know from my own experience that there’s a tendency for beginning readers to just burn through the dialogue, barely paying any attention to the art. It’s these tendencies that make Stan Lee an inarguable household name, while Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby are only known by comic fans. Indeed, our focus on writing is so ingrained, it often takes a compelling dialogue-free issue (or sequence) to remind us that comics are a visual medium. With Rocket Raccoon 5, Skottie Young and Jake Parker deliver something of a goofy cousin of the silent issue, but one that nevertheless emphasizes just how much storytelling can be done with images alone. Continue reading

Guardians of the Galaxy 20

guardians of the galaxy 20Today, Spencer and Shane are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 20, originally released October 29th, 2014.

Spencer: The first couple of times I read through Guardians of the Galaxy 20 I found myself utterly unable to figure out how to approach writing about it. To be honest, I’m still a little flummoxed; there’s plenty of moments within the issue I think are quite well done, but I don’t know if any of them ever coalesce into a cohesive whole. Is this an issue about Nova’s heroic sacrifice, or an issue about how his death has affected the Guardians? Writer Brian Michael Bendis is clearly trying to make it about both, but in the process, I’m not sure he gives either thread the full attention it requires. Continue reading

Elektra 7

elektra 7Today, Patrick and Drew discussing Elektra 7, originally released on October 29th, 2014.

Patrick: Though my love for Green Lantern has dulled some over the years, the central concept behind the character is infinitely compelling to me. All the Green Lanterns use their power rings to will physical objects into existence. Sometimes these constructs are simple blasts of energy, sometimes they’re giant hammers, sometimes they’re cages or slings or flyswatters. Whatever it is, the thing only exists because a human being (…or some kind of alien…) willed it into existence. I find this idea fascinating — all it takes to achieve the impossible is to have the resolve to declare it possible. Realistically, I know that’s not all there is to it: achieving just about anything also takes time and hard work and practice and failure and money — but that all falls as a result of one’s will. Superheroes are a willful lot, but none more defiantly so than Elektra, and issue 7 demonstrates that that’s been her most valuable superpower all along.

Continue reading