Uncanny X-Men 34

uncanny xmen 34

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Uncanny X-Men 34, originally released May 20th, 2015.

Closing time,
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Semisonic, “Closing Time”

Taylor: Chances are that if you’ve been in a bar in the past 17 years, you’ve heard these lyrics wafting across a half-filled room. Generally played to indicate that yes, indeed that bar is closing soon, it signals to stragglers of a long night that it’s time to go home. But be not sad, the bittersweet song entreaties its listeners. There is a silver lining to something coming to an end: it signals the beginning of something new, and isn’t that something to be optimistic about? A nice enough thought, but what if the ending of something isn’t all that great and therefore the thought of something beginning again is not cause for celebration, but sadness? A tough question to ask, but Uncanny X-Men 34 has me asking it whether I want to or not. Continue reading

Secret Wars 2

secret wars 2

Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Secret Wars 2, originally released May 13th, 2015. 

Mark: This summer finds both DC and Marvel presenting readers with big crossover events where their heroes fight for survival, but the approaches couldn’t be more different. For all of the problems DC’s Convergence has (and the list is not brief), one advantage is that DC has a long, storied history of multiverses, continuities, and characters to choose from. It does my nerd heart good to see characters like pre-Flashpoint Superman once again, characters to which I have a lot of attachment. Maybe it’s a cheap thrill, but there’s something to seeing these heroes from different times and universes coming together. Marvel does not have the luxury of history. They’ve always employed a rolling continuity that keeps their characters’ histories current without having to do a hard reboot like the New 52. Outside of Earth-616, the Ultimate universe has been a depressing mess for such a long time that Miles Morales was the only reason to keep it limping along at all. So in order for Marvel to create an interesting clash of heroes, they had to basically build one from the ground up.

Enter Battleworld. I admit to having Jonathan Hickman fatigue after his sometimes messy, always talky Avengers/New Avengers run, and I honestly found Secret Wars 1 to be rather boring, but I appreciated the mash up of sci-fi and fantasy tropes with the Marvel Universe found in Secret Wars 2. Continue reading

Darth Vader 5

darth vader 5

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Darth Vader 5, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Michael: Comic book narratives have always been about the change of the status quo. Common examples include the balance between good and evil, the latest hero to don a particular mantle, and in the realm of Star Wars, there’s the frequent rotation of Sith Lords. Darth Vader 5 questions the villain’s relevance in the galaxy that his master is trying to maintain a hold on. Continue reading

Silk 4

silk 4

Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Silk 4, originally released May 13th, 2015.

“My body can stretch all around this building. It’s natural state is a giant puddle of, well, me. It takes everything I have to hold myself together. So, yes. I’ve had anxiety.”

Reed Richards, Silk 4

Patrick: For obvious reasons, most superhero narratives that deal with mental illness stay pretty close PTSD or anger management problems. While debilitating issues in real life, in the realm of fiction, that all sounds very sexy — these afflictions either steam from or drive a character to action. Usually both. And it doesn’t much matter how negatively a writer tries to paint Bruce Wayne’s grief- and guilt-ridden revenge episodes, the reader always wants to see Batman kicking ass. Punisher may not be able to sleep without a gun under his pillow, but we sorta like that. Silk 4 toys with the idea that mental illness isn’t always so obvious and often isn’t so action-packed. Continue reading

Thor 8

thor 8

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Thor 8, originally released May 13th, 2015.

Taylor: Motion is an important thing to people. Most of us don’t like to be stagnant for any set amount of time whether it be an hour, a month, or a year. We visualize our lives as having a narrative that is always moving forward. Likewise, as a society, we like to think that we are also making a steady motion forward. In other words, we like to think of our society as making progress. And while most of the country can get behind progress (just look at how rapidly gay marriage became acceptable) there are always going to be those who oppose it. Thor 8 recognizes this dichotomy and in doing so makes a strong statement about the need for acceptance of progress and just how hard that can be for those who don’t want to see things change. Continue reading

Secret Wars 1

secret wars 1

Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Secret Wars 1, originally released May 6th, 2015. 

“Oh, best war ever…”

-General Nick Fury, Secret Wars 1

Ryan: Secret Wars grabs the baton from Jon Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers beloved/despised/confusing “Time Runs Out” saga chronicling the futile struggle of Earth-616 against the collapse of the multiverse. Hickman dives in by tipping his hat to the concluding plot thread of Doom vs. The Beyonders, the significance of which — aside from helping to shrink the amount of surviving universes down to a baker’s dozen minus a bunch — is still a bit lost on me. The narration of the issue is provided by Reed Richards, and the first installment of this event belongs to him.

Continue reading

Ant-Man 5

ant-man 5

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Ant-Man 5, originally released May 6th, 2015.

Taylor: If you’ve ridden public transportation with any regularity, you are aware that there are some people who clearly don’t follow the unstated rules of the bus or train. Don’t bring cooked food into the vehicle; don’t have loud conversations; don’t listen to music loudly or without headphones; and always do your best to make room for others. Those who fail to follow the rules must suffer the passive aggressive wrath of those around them, yet remarkably, few seem to care. These individuals are either entirely brazen (a definite possibility) or perhaps they just lack a self-awareness that informs them that their actions are burden on others. In Ant-Man 5, we see if Scott Lang is one of these individuals and the result is an issue with unexpected emotional depth. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 18

amazing spider-man 18

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 18, originally released May 6th, 2015.

Love fades. But things? Things last forever.

Tom Haverford, Parks and Recreation

Spencer: We live in a materialistic society that oftentimes tries to convince consumers that the key to happiness and success is simply owning a lot of stuff (thanks a lot for that, Don Draper). For these Tom Haverfords, their entire identity is wrapped up in their possessions, but even those who reject consumerism have to rely on their possessions to provide sustenance, clothing, and shelter. Yes, “things” are important to everyone, even if it’s in drastically different ways. Dan Slott, Christos Gage, and Humberto Ramos’ The Amazing Spider-Man 18 pins both its stories on the power inanimate objects hold on their owners, and just as we’ve discussed, Parker Industries means something far different to its employees than Black Cat’s vast collection of stolen goods means to her. Continue reading

Avengers 44/New Avengers 33

avengers 44

Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Avengers 44 and New Avengers 33, originally released April 29th, 2015. 

Spencer: Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers saga has gone through three different phases. The first, which lasted from the series’ debut through the end of Infinity, found Avengers exploring the forced evolution of the planet Earth via Ex Nihilo’s Origin Bombs while New Avengers established the threat of the Incursions and the drastic measures the Illuminati would have to take to combat them. The second phase found Avengers essentially spinning its wheels, waiting for the Illuminati in New Avengers to reach their limit and, ultimately, fail. Then the books skipped ahead in time eight months, and both lost a bit of their former identities as they became swallowed up in the Incursions storyline. New Avengers has spent most of phase three explaining the mechanics of everything that came before, while Avengers explored the personal fall-out between the members of all these various teams. While the Incursion storyline is continuing into Hickman’s upcoming Secret Wars, the final issues of Avengers and New Avengers focus on wrapping up the ideas they’ve been exploring since phase three began. One is decidedly more engaging than the other. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 11

Alternating Currents: Silver Surfer 11, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Silver Surfer 11, originally released April 29th, 2015.

Drew: I both love and hate that Birdman was shot the way it was. I love that it uses the single-shot effect to such awe-inspiring ends, but hate that it feels so gimmicky. I want to be clear there: it’s not that I think it is gimmicky, just that it feels gimmicky. The conversation is so often about how Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki achieved those effects (or even just that they achieved them at all), that reason why they did it often goes unaddressed. That this kind of formal affectation might have an unnoticed thematic justification speaks to the low regard we have for form — we only notice it when its weird, and then only to comment on how weird it is. That low regard makes formal outliers all the more daring — will they be known for their reasoned narrative choices, or will they be dismissed as a vehicle for the most unusual of those choices? With Silver Surfer 11, Dan Slott and Michael Allred attempt an even more convoluted formal trick, but its rewards are well worth the challenges it poses to the reader. Continue reading