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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Princess Leia 5

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Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Princess Leia 5, originally released July 1st, 2015.

Patrick: Love it or hate it, I’m a Wisconsin boy – born, raised, and educated. It’s a weird culture to grow up in, but it’s an even weirder culture to have to carry with you for the rest of your life. There are some awesome parts of being from Wisconsin, like an enthusiastic beer culture or an emphasis on education or the outdoors. Plus there’s the general air of friendliness that permeates my every visit to the homestead. But man, oh man, there are also a ton of drawbacks to that cultural identity: a meatheaded obsession with sports (specifically, the Green Bay Packers), unhealthy and frequently disgusting cuisine, and a bunch of casual institutionalized racism. And every person I meet is surprised that I’m not some backwoods, smalltown hick. Worse are the negative characteristics I actually take with me wherever I go, like juvenile appetite for dairy products and that irrepressible accent. Throughout the course of Princess Leia, Mark Waid and Terry and Rachel Dodson have presented us with Leia’s cultural identity, and with the final issue boldly declares that being Alderaanian is a powerful thing. Love it and hate it. Continue reading

Daredevil 16

daredevil 16Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Daredevil 16, originally released June 24th, 2015. 

Patrick: One of the base assumptions that I usually have to check when discussing a work of genre fiction is the assumption that the villain acts as an analogue to the creative forces behind the story. Heroes — be they superheroes or brave knights or swashbuckling adventurers — seldom get to trade in particularly complex or nuanced ideas. But villains! Villains get to have a much more human relationship to morality, often holding conflicting ideas in their heads. What’s more is that both the villains and the creators have the same job: make the hero suffer. This relationship gets even trickier when the characters are on-loan from elsewhere, as is so often the case with comic books. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have made their mark on Daredevil, but the character does not belong to them in the strictest sense. Issue 16 sees the creators trying to reconcile their relationship to the titular hero, and in so doing, welcome a host of villains into their drama. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 6/24/15

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Today, Patrick, Spencer and Drew discuss E is for Extinction 1, Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies 1, Infinity Gauntlet 2, Planet Hulk 2, M.O.D.O.K. Assassin 2, X-Men ’92 Infinite Comics 3, Black Widow 18 and Loki: Agent of Asgard 15

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Patrick: How do you tell an alternate-reality version of a story? What elements of the original do you need to keep and which do you need to invert? How different is too different? How samey is too samey? Secret Wars is starting to show the full depth of its commitment playing with concepts that we’ve become so comfortable with over the years. Maybe now it’s cool to be a mutant. Maybe now M.O.D.O.K. stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Kissing. More than simple re-imaginings, Secret Wars gets to explore some truly re-invented and re-conceptualized worlds. Continue reading

Ms. Marvel 16

ms marvel 16 swToday, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Ms. Marvel 16, originally released June 17th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.

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Spencer: Being a teenager comes with a skewed sense of priorities. Every setback you face feels like the end of the world, even something as simple as failing a test or embarrassing yourself in front of your crush. As the superheroic Ms. Marvel, Kamala Kahn’s problems are often much more severe than the typical teenager’s, but even she sometimes needs a lesson in priorities — it’s just a shame that Kamala’s reminder takes the shape of the literal end of the world. If that sounds depressing, don’t worry — despite the heavier subject matter, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona never let Ms. Marvel 16 feel gloomy or depressing, instead focusing on the same mix of humor, heart, and adventure that’s made this title such a delight from the very start. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 6/17/15

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Today, Drew, Patrick, and Spencer discuss Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars 2, Thors 1, Runaways 1, and Old Man Logan 2.

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This is an imaginary story…aren’t they all?

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Drew: Comics continuity is a funny thing. We generally understand characters in their broad strokes, but those broad strokes can change from time to time. Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” was written at one such juncture, saying goodbye to one era of Superman before Crisis on Infinite Earths ushered in a new one. But that goodbye doesn’t have to be permanent; events can be revisited, recontextualized, altered, or even undone. All of those approaches are fair game during Secret Wars, which affords us more time with characters, settings, and situations we might have thought were gone forever. Continue reading

Marvel Zombies 1

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Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Marvel Zombies 1, originally released June 10th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For our conversations on the rest of Secret Wars last week, click here.

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Taylor: Whenever the subject of bleak and/or depressing stories comes up, I’m quick to point out that Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is perhaps the paragon of the genre. The book follows a man and his boy in an apocalyptic landscape as they struggle to survive in a world devoid of almost all life. While the narrative itself is heavy, what makes the book truly depressing for me is that it deals with the question of why try to survive at all. The book asks the uncomfortable question: if life is nothing but a struggle, why continue living it? Similarly, Marvel Zombies 1 has me considering these same questions. However, unlike the The Road, Marvel Zombies does spare some room for hope among the horror. Continue reading

Silver Surfer 12

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Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Silver Surfer 12, originally released June 10th, 2015.

Spencer: “Consent” is a word I didn’t hear much as a teenager, unless it involved waivers or some other sort of legal document. While I was (thankfully) taught from a young age never to make somebody do something that would make them uncomfortable, the concept never had a name, and that’s a shame, because there are very few ventures where waiting to get consent before proceeding is ever a bad idea — especially when it comes to sex and relationships. Dan Slott and Michael & Laura Allred’s Silver Surfer 12 emphasizes the importance of consent by featuring an entire planet that, despite having the best of intentions, needs to learn a serious lesson on the subject. Continue reading

Secret Wars Round-Up: Issues released 6/10/15

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Today, Patrick, Drew, Spencer and Michael discuss Ms. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos 1, Ghost Racers 1, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps 1, Weirdworld 1, Inhumans: Atillan Rising 2, Spider-Verse 2, Secret Wars 2099 2, Ultimate End 2, and X-Men ’92 Infinite Comic.

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Patrick: I’m not reading all of Secret Wars, but I am reading an awful lot of it. What’s impressing me the most about the world building is how patiently and deliberately various kingdoms are established and how they intersect. These aren’t simply re-imaginings of classic Marvel stories for the sake of re-imagining the classics, but a complex world wherein the conflict frequently comes from so many stories being forced to co-exist. In many ways, it’s an indictment of continuity: how can you possibly expect everything from 75 years of storytelling to all jive together? For the same reason, we don’t have peace in Battleworld, even with the editorial oversight of God Doom. But — and this is the important part — that doesn’t mean we can’t tell fun stories amid the conflicting continuities. Continue reading

Silk 5

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Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Silk 5, originally released June 10th, 2015.

Spencer: Asking for help isn’t easy. It should be, because we all need help from time to time (or, perhaps more accurately, almost constantly), yet there’s often a stigma against asking for help. Needing helps means admitting that you can’t do everything all by yourself; oftentimes it means admitting that you were wrong, or that you failed. In the case of Cindy Moon — a.k.a. Silk — it also means revealing some of her deepest secrets. Yup, asking for help can be downright difficult, but it’s also absolutely essential if we want to keep moving forward in life. Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee’s Silk 5 finds Cindy finally reaching out for help in both her superheroic and civilian personas, and in both cases it’s without a doubt the best possible decision. Continue reading