She-Hulk 9

So, look.  I'm not saying that writing is easy.  This is a craft.  It requires a certain set of skills, a patience, a level of general competency.  And as someone who fancies himself a writer, it's a little painful to see something that reads at such a high level above what I could possibly do.  Extrapolating even further past that, She-Hulk is devastating.  Excruciating.  I want to take sharp objects and whittle away my skin, exposing my tender flesh to the harsh elements so that I may embrace the harsh, tortuous reality of my own limitations.  Did I mention that I rather enjoyed She-Hulk 9 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and the rest?  Because it was something special.  In the Marvel comics universe, superheroes are rather common.  A dime a dozen, even, and since all but a few of them are headquartered in my own home of New York City, you can pretty much toss a stone and hit someone invulnerable without even trying.  It takes little effort to read a comic about a character with super-strength, but, I must say, it's not quite as simple to read about a character in a law firm.  In fact, I can really think of only two major comic book characters who are lawyers, and, well, what do you know?  In this issue, both feature prominently.  It's almost like it was planned that way, who'dka thunkit?  Marvel legend Matthew "Daredevil" Murdock goes up against Jennifer "She-Hulk" Walters in court for, near as I can tell, the first time in comics history.  This alone is monumental, and having them war over the fate of Captain America can only add to the significance.  And as the middle issue of the saga, having the exact details of Captain America's brazen culpability revealed, with his arrogance leading to the death of an innocent, presents something of a moral quandary.  How can one defend someone that blatantly pushes an unstable man, to the point of someone else paying the price?  And at the same time, how do we condemn arguably the greatest hero in Marvel's history, the leader of the Avengers, somebody who has saved the country, the world, even the universe, countless times?    Daredevil sidesteps these issues quite comfortably, presenting the struggle in clear legal terms.  Is Captain America in any way responsible for this man's death?  Setting aside his famed heroism, the good Captain is human, and can he suffer grave errors in judgement?  And in the same vein, She-Hulk attacks Murdock's approach in technical terms, so that the judge may throw out the case before it grows further.  Although a strategy plagued by Steve Rogers' own sense of...responsibility? Justice? Guilt? The issue showcases a clear representation of a court of law, with a level of accuracy rarely seen in casual fiction.  In fact, few writers in the comics industry could show such a devoted insight to the details of the legal system, discussing case dismissals and mistrials and everything that I don't understand, but Charles Soule clearly does.  It's not a surprise, really.  Soule has quickly risen to the top of the comics industry for many reasons--his immense skill level, the top-rank books he writes, and the sheer quantity of his workload.  And yet, in addition to all of this, he has a day job. A law practice, even.  Something that most other people would consider a full-time job, Charles Soule takes on as...more than a hobby, certainly, with the level of devotion he provides.  It's admirable, and in his work, it shows.    With as much devotion as Soule puts in, though, artist Javier Pulido matches, especially in page layouts.  I'm happy to attribute many strengths to Pulido, including a recognition of facial expression matched by few modern artists not named Jamie McKelvie, but there are even less artists on top-tier titles who have such an innate mastery of the craft that Pulido expresses.  His layouts with She-Hulk pursuing Daredevil amongst the rooftops of San Francisco capture superheroics so seamlessly, and that's merely a fraction of the issue.  The final two panels of the issue, which I won't spoil here, are so casually intertwined, and yet flawlessly challenge any other artist to present two opposing viewpoints with anything resembling the same level of poignance.  Even the notable admissions of Steve Rogers in this very issue can't match the message in Pulido's work.  He's just that good.  The fate of the ongoing She-Hulk title has been somewhat the forefront of comics news as of late, with a not-unexpected but equally not-accepted cancellation that apparently fits with the creative team's plans but not hopes.  The quality of this issue presses the unpleasantness of this news, but I'm anxious to see how Charles Soule wraps the many plotlines built in this series and exacerbated by this issue.  With the last-page reveal, Drew, how do you suspect Soule may write around what could be a dramatic change to Marvel comics (one that, let's face it, will likely not be allowed in a tertiary title?)  Has this historic challenge between Marvel's two most notable lawyers met with your expectations?  And, most importantly, what do you think of Kevin Wada's cover for this issue?  Because for me, Wada's covers have been probably the best part of a series that has basically zero flaws, and yet I sort of feel like this is his weakest cover on the book yet.  It's almost traditional.  Come on, Wada.  You can do better.Today, Shane and Drew are discussing She-Hulk 9, originally released October 22nd, 2014. 

slim-bannerShane: So, look.  I’m not saying that writing is easy. This is a craft.  It requires a certain set of skills, a patience, a level of general competency. And as someone who fancies himself a writer, it’s a little painful to see something that reads at such a high level above what I could possibly do. Extrapolating even further past that, She-Hulk is devastating. Excruciating. I want to take sharp objects and whittle away my skin, exposing my tender flesh to the harsh elements so that I may embrace the harsh, tortuous reality of my own limitations.

Did I mention that I rather enjoyed She-Hulk 9 by Charles Soule, Javier Pulido and the rest? Because it was something special. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 9

ms marvel 9Today, Suzanne and Taylor are discussing Ms. Marvel 9, originally released October 15, 2014.

slim-banner

Suzanne: Ms. Marvel 9 introduces the subject of having a heritage that you don’t necessarily connect to. Who hasn’t gone through that at some point as a teenager? We’ve all been there, usually in less dramatic fashion than Kamala’s trip to New Attilan. For some teens, it looks like telling your dad you don’t want to go to med school like he did. For Kamala, this essentially expands on her feelings of difference and being an outsider as a Pakistani American. Continue reading

Daredevil 9

daredevil 9Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 9, originally released October 15th, 2014. 

Patrick: Have you ever watched a video of a baby eating a lemon for the first time? There are hundreds of these videos up on YouTube, and while it always strikes me as a little mean-spirited, it’s fascinating to see the purity of these babies’ reaction to the sourness of the lemon. There aren’t any videos of adults eating lemons, because: who cares? Adults have filters and modesty and the knowledge that they can make that sour taste stop. The baby, meanwhile, just has to stew in this unpleasant, unfamiliar experience. The same is true of emotions — adults have enough perspective to realize that their emotions are temporary or irrational or perhaps just resultant from a changeable attitude, but children are largely at the mercy of their emotions. Basically, adults can will themselves to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but as far as a child knows, the tunnel is all there is. The Marvel villain the Purple Man is a scary presence, with his ability to impose his will on others, but the Purple Children introduced last issue are something much more terrifying: the entire slate of childhood emotion projected outward. Continue reading

Avengers 36

avengers 36Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Avengers 36, originally released October 8th, 2014. 

Spencer: Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers hasn’t exactly been a character-driven book; that’s not to say Hickman doesn’t have an excellent grasp on the various voices of his cast, but to say that this title is very much driven by the plot, with the characters often feeling like cogs in his Avengers machine. Starting with Avengers 35, though, the title skipped eight months into the future; catching us up to the activities of the various Avengers in this new setting has given Hickman a chance to refocus on his characters, as well as on some of the many plot points that have fallen to the wayside in the last nine months or so. Avengers can sometimes be a hard book to love, but issue 36 continues the return of the kind of storytelling that made me pick up this book in the first place.

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Silver Surfer 6

silver surfer 6

Today, Spencer and Suzanne are discussing Silver Surfer 6, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Spencer: You never really know someone until you live with them. I’ve never moved in with or married a significant other, but even just spending a few days rooming with friends on vacation in the past has tended to reveal entirely new sides of our personalities — most often, the annoying sides. That said, if you can work past whatever aggravating habits cohabitation may entail, then you’ll also be treated to all your roommate’s wonderful qualities, and possibly even a whole new perspective on the world. That’s the situation Norrin and Dawn find themselves facing in Silver Surfer 6. Norrin’s ill-prepared for his new companion’s many human frailties, but his annoyance is also blinding him to the many advantages Dawn’s “imperfections” have to offer. Continue reading

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 1

Alternating Currents: Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 1, Ryan and DrewToday, Ryan and Drew are discussing Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 1, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Ryan: I love when comic books try new things. Whether the point is to advance the relatively young medium or simply to offer some variety to a landscape that sometimes feels dominated by the same handful of big names and tried-and-true styles, it excites me to read a daring, non-linear narrative or to see adventurous use of graphic design in a title. I spent the entire summer haranguing a friend to read the copy of Jonathan Hickman’s The Nightly News which I graciously let him borrow. Hickman, responsible for both the writing and art, confessed in the afterword of the trade paperback that he intentionally made the comic difficult for the reader’s eye to follow by cluttering the pages with infographics and non-sequential art. Luckily, this calculated risk works perfectly in the total package. Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier showcases a fun, new direction for the former covert operative/Captain America and art that looks unlike anything I have read lately, but do these strong choices translate into a great read? Continue reading

Thor 1

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Thor 1, originally released October 1st, 2014.

Taylor: The internet is a powerful beast that once mobilized can bring on a sea-change in our society. Many of the recent and memorable movements in the world have been brought about in large part due to social media and other online resources. The likes of the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring are testaments to the power of the internet and at this point it is clear that any meaningful change in the world might just begin in front of a computer screen. In much the same way, women are using the internet to voice their opposition to the inequalities they face everywhere from the workplace to the glossy pages of comic books. Of the latter, while there is still much reform to be had, there are clear signs that things are getting better. There is perhaps no better example of this than the transformation of Thor into a female character, and as issue 1 of this series shows, perhaps we need ladies in comics more than we could have ever believed. Continue reading

Deadpool 35

Alternating Currents: Deadpool 35, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew and Taylor are discussing Deadpool 35, originally released September 24th, 2014.

Then things started to get weird;
middle of the night he would disappear.
He’d come home smelling like bad guys
and that would make me really mad.

Cars Can Be Blue, Dating Batman

Drew: It goes without saying that the lives are superheroes are kind of weird — that’s the reason they’re of interest — but they’re often so removed from any frame of reference that it’s easy to forget just how strange a superheroes daily life actually is. Over the last year and a half, Deadpool has learned that he has an estranged daughter, befriended a group of mutants engineered using his DNA, mourned the loss of his baby mamma, gotten married, and antagonized Dracula. It’s a long, strange list that only feels more disjointed when they’re listed together like that, which is of course what Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn do in Deadpool 35, hanging a lantern on just how weird it is to be Wade Wilson. Continue reading

New Avengers 24

new avengers 24Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing New Avengers 24, originally released September 24th, 2014. 

slim-bannerSpencer: New Avengers hasn’t really been a title with an antagonist, at least in a traditional sense; the Illuminati are trying to stop the Incursions, but such a mysterious, primal, multiversal threat can be hard to fathom, and they largely act as the impetus behind most of the title’s action rather than the “big bad”. Instead, the Illuminati mainly grapple against themselves, dealing with matters of morality and conscience. In New Avengers 24, Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti skip ahead eight months from the climatic final pages of issue 23, giving them time to establish the Cabal as a group of horrific, homicidal monsters. In a way, they may be serving as the more physical, black-and-white antagonist this title’s been missing, but that seems to be far from their only purpose. Both the Illuminati and the Cabal have done horrific things with a noble goal in mind; the methods of these two groups, and how the world at large have responded to them both, is where the differences lie. Continue reading

Daredevil 8

daredevil 8Today, Greg and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 8, originally released September 17, 2014. 

Greg: I went and saw a movie last week against my better judgment. That movie was the clunkily titled Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, a comic-book adaptation and sequel to the excellent 2005 adaptation of Miller’s hard-boiled neo-noir stories. My roommate, who shares my love of this first one, warned me it was terrible. Rotten Tomatoes warned me it was terrible. I didn’t listen. I went and saw it, and boy, terrible doesn’t scratch the surface. It’s a miserable piece of garbage. I could spend hours rage-explaining (ragesplaining?) what is so fundamentally wrong with this dreck, but one criticism stands head and shoulders above the rest: The stylistic tics and techniques are arbitrary, meaningless, and add nothing to the story. Conversely, any play with form in Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s outstandingly excellent Daredevil 8 are part and parcel of an intense, dark, and captivating story.

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