Uncanny X-Men 35

uncanny xmen 35

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Uncanny X-Men 35, originally released July 22nd, 2015.

Patrick: Mutants are among the more malleable allegories in comics. As a class of people persecuted for something they can’t control, they’ve acted as stand ins for racial minorities, religious minorities, disabled peoples, homosexuals – anyone with any kind of outsider status. But they’re also useful for other political debate: gun control, freedom vs. safety, etc. In one of his final issues writing the X-Men, Brian Michael Bendis employs a rarely-tapped metaphor and uses one of his own Mutants to tackle a topic that is decidedly apolitical, and casts an unlikely X-Man as the furthest thing from “outsider” you could imagine. It’s a delightfully simple slugline: what if Goldballs became famous? Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 7/22/15

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Today, Patrick, Drew, Mark and Michael discuss Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde 1, Weirdworld 2, Old Man Logan 3, E is for Extinction 2, Loki, Agent of Asgard 16 and Marvel Zombies 2.

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Patrick: We can argue about the merits of “Battleworld” as an engine for compelling narratives until we are blue in the collective face. (I assume we keep that face on Reddit, and its has seen some shit.) This week’s crop demonstrates that, no matter what stories are coming out of Marvel these days, the pages themselves are looking absolutely gorgeous. Andrea Sorrentino, Ramon Villalobos, Michael del Mundo, Kev Walker and Lee Garbett all in one week? Plus, relative new-comer Alti Firmansyah rounds out a beautiful line-up. Maybe there’s something about the freedom that Secret Wars offers that attracts this kind of amazing talent.
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Guardians of Knowhere 1

Alternating Currents: Guardians of Knowhere 1, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Guardians of Knowhere 1, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy regains girl.

Traditional

Drew: I’ve never seen any codified theories to this effect, but I strongly believe that every narrative has an ideal length. The Old Man and the Sea couldn’t be longer without losing its essence, just as War and Peace couldn’t be shorter. I can’t claim to understand all of the factors that determine the ideal length for a story, but it’s obvious enough when the length isn’t ideal. The epigraph may functionally describe a lot of stories we’re familiar with, but it’s too short to be a satisfying story — we have no empathetic connection to “boy,” no investment in his relationship to “girl,” no context for their eventual reunion. Conversely, Brian Michael Bendis is often criticized for making his stories too long to be satisfying, with each plot point dragged out for too many issues for us to be invested in the bigger picture. Of course, one of the big mitigating factors in the world of comics is the quality of the art — a dazzling action sequence may not require much of a plot, and indeed may be better off without many distractions. Nobody does “dazzling” better than Mike Deodato Jr., which makes him an ideal pairing for Bendis’ decompressed style. So does Guardians of Knowhere 1 live up to that “match made in heaven” expectation? Continue reading

Ant-Man Annual 1

ant-man annual 1

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Ant-Man Annual 1, originally released July 15, 2015.

Taylor: Mentorship is an ancient practice. Any of us who have had the pleasure of reading Plato’s Republic (or were assigned to read it for class) know that the practice of an elder teaching a younger the ropes is something present in almost all societies. It’s natural then that we see this same master-apprentice relationship present in comic books. Batman, the Ninja Turtles, Wolverine, Jean Grey – they’ve all had someone there to mentor them and help them become heroes who save the day. We generally like to think of those mentors knowing it all, often forgetting that they are still human and far from perfect. Ant-Man Annual 1 examines what it’s like to find this out in typical witty fashion.

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Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 7/15/15

secret wars roundup9Today, Spencer, Taylor, Patrick, and Drew discuss Siege 1, Planet Hulk 3, Years of Future Past 3, Captain Britain and the Mighty Defenders 1, Inhumans Atillan Rising 3, Secret Wars Battleworld 3, Hail Hydra 1, and Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps 2.

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Spencer: “Each domain is a region unto itself.” Each and every Secret Wars tie-in has begun with these words, and they really are a remarkably accurate mission statement: despite the common thread they all share, most of these mini-series feel like separate concepts far removed from the rest of their brethren. That begins to change with this week’s offerings, however. Several of this week’s issues find their casts questioning Doom and venturing beyond their own domain. Are we about to see some of these characters collide with the main Secret Wars title? Perhaps, but fortunately, these tie-ins still work as fun standalone stories as well. In many ways, it’s the best of both worlds.
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Hawkeye 22

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 22, Drew and Courtney

Today, Drew and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 22, originally released July 15th, 2015.

Drew: Endings are hard. Whether they break our hearts or leave us wanting more, even the most satisfying ending must face the bittersweet truth of being the end. “The End” takes on a peculiar meaning in the world of month-to-month comics (especially where the next volume may already be a few issues in), but whatever we’re saying goodbye to — whether its a paradigm or a creative team — can still have an almost hallowed air of significance. This makes talking about comic book endings in a issue-by-issue format particularly difficult, as its tempting to use the final issue as a platform for talking about the series as a whole. I absolutely want to talk about Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run as a whole, but I want to first give issue 22 its due respect as perhaps the perfect distillation of what made his run so remarkable. 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 7/8/15

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Today, Patrick, Spencer, Michael and Drew discuss Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows 2, Spider-Verse 3, Spider-Island 1, Civil War 1, 1872 1, Ghost Racers 2, Runaways 2, Secret Wars 2099 3, and X-Men ’92 Infinite Comic 4.

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Patrick: It’s Spider-Day in Battleworld! Not only do we have three books with “Spider” in the title, Civil War prominently features Peter Parker (and the rest of the Parker clan). It’s amazing how malleable the concept of Spider-Man is, and how it can be at home in all four of these discrete story worlds. The rest of the issues on our Round Up today all approach their unique worlds in different ways – some try to cram in every possible piece of relevant lore, others pic and choose; some want to make a point about the source material, others are only interested in telling fun stories with the concepts. I’m continually amazed that no two series have similar approaches to Secret Wars – not even when they’re all named “Spider.”
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Lando 1

lando 1

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Lando 1, originally released July 8th, 2015.

Spencer: Maybe it’s just because of the way superheroes dominate the medium, but when I think of comic books, my mind immediately turns to fighting. It’s almost unheard of to find a superhero who doesn’t fight in some capacity, and even in the indie books I read, most of the characters are spies, soldiers, robots wielding built-in weaponry, or kids struggling to survive in the wild — the one thing they have in common is that they all fight. Lando Calrissian, however, does not. Throughout Lando 1, Charles Soule and Alex Maleev depict Lando as someone who may know the value of a good warrior, but prefers to win his battles with cunning. It’s a compelling take on the character, one that helps set him apart from his good buddy (and fellow smuggler) Han Solo, and one which also establishes this mini-series as a heist story through and through. Sure, there’s action, but the twists and turns of Lando’s high-stakes schemes (as well as the schemes hatched against him) are what this series is really all about, and that’s a fun new direction for the Marvel Star Wars books to explore. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 7/1/15

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Today, Spencer, Patrick and Drew discuss Secret Wars 4, Red Skull 1, A-Force 2, Giant-Sized Little Marvel AvX 2, Ultimate End 3, Years of Future Past 2, and Secret Wars Journal 3.

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Spencer: One thing that’s always bothered me about line-wide crossovers is when the tie-ins are forced to incorporate certain elements whether it makes sense or not. I can’t help but think of the earthquake in all 40 of the second issues of Convergence, or that month where every single DC comic released had to feature a fight with an OMAC — besides being creatively stifling, it makes all the books start to feel way too similar. With that in mind, what I’ve appreciated the most about Secret Wars is the sheer variety found in its tie-ins. All these books have in common is that they’re all set on Battleworld — other than that, they’re free to do whatever they please. This week’s offerings feature everything from the inner workings of Doom’s mind and Battleworld’s politics to zany childhood shenanigans — it’s a fun change of pace from the typical crossover, and in fact, the only real disappointments to be found may be the titles that don’t take enough advantage of their setting.
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