Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Avengers 40, originally released January 14th, 2015.
The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Drew: I think it would be fair to say that Dostoevsky’s polyphonic style — one built upon the perspectives of an array of characters — is antithetical to the notion of the hero’s journey. Indeed, Dostoyevsky’s philosophies (as articulated in the quote above) suggest that there’s an active tension between caring about an individual and caring about humanity at large. I’ve always been partial to the depth of understanding achieved by sticking with one protagonist — especially when it comes to comics — which has made me wary of the kind of expansive, Dostoyevskian scope of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers. In my mind, a tight focus on a single character more accurately reflects how we experience the world, but with Avengers 40, Hickman makes a compelling case for how his dense interconnectednessreflects how the world actually is. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Inhuman 2, originally released May 28th, 2014
Shelby: Serialized media has it’s pros and cons. I rather like having to wait a bit between installments; as long as the wait isn’t too long, and I know when I’m going to get my next chunk of the story, that waiting period adds delicious tension to the tale. I think it also makes things more special, having to wait for them; anticipation can definitely make things sweeter. But, like everything, there’s a downside to dragging a story out over months; when the reader wonders, “wait, is this still happening?” when we’re only on issue 2 of the book, you know there’s a problem.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Inhuman 1, originally released April 2nd, 2014
Shelby: I have always been somewhat baffled by racism. I can’t understand the reasoning behind looking at another human being and deciding that they are inferior because of the color of their skin. I understand that racism exists, I’m certainly not trying to deny it, I just don’t understand the logic (such as it is) behind it. How can any one human be inherently better than another? And what could skin color possibly have to do with it? As Charles Soule kicks off Inhuman1, he presents us with a situation where there IS a branch of humanity which is measurably superior. The Inhumans are stronger and more powerful than the rest of us mere mortals, and some are not afraid to show it. The real question is, once these inferior humans start instantly transforming into superior beings, what are all those racist Inhumans going to do about it?
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing FF 16, originally released January 22nd, 2013.
Ethan: With the arrival of FF 16 Scott Lang’s campaign to end Doom is itself at an end. Even though Doom was the cause of the crusade, it’s always been more about Scott — this finale is no different. As Scott confronts the mortal enemy of the Fantastic Four and the man who killed his daughter, there’s never going to be a better time to prove who or what the latest incarnation of Ant-Man has become. Unsurprisingly, Matt Fraction and Lee Allred do not disappoint.
Today, Ethan Patrick and Drew are discussing FF 15, originally released December 18th, 2013.
Ethan Patrick: I guess it’s appropriate that I’m stepping up to bat for Ethan for this issue of FF. There are an awful lot of substitutes and avatars in play for the invasion of Latveria. The good guys are all either trying to be something they’re not or asserting something else as themselves. In some cases, the characters are two or three steps removed from the version of themselves that’s actually doing the action. Interestingly, Doom never falls victim to this same delusion — in fact, even though everyone expects him to either a) port his consciousness over to another body or b) merge with another body. We know it can’t last, but Doom wins a victory here by being the only one refusing to be anything but himself. Maybe the kids still have one more thing to learn before the Fantastic Four comes back to town.
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Inhumanity 1, originally released December 4th, 2013.
Spencer: First issues are hard to pull off well. They have to be as exciting as possible to ensure that readers come back for issue two, yet they also have to somehow find space to establish a whole new world/concept/set of characters and make sure the readers aren’t lost; if those two goals sound completely incompatible, well, they often are. Matt Fraction’s task in Inhumanity 1 is made even more difficult by the Inhumans’ long and complicated history. Fraction goes out of his way to make sure we understand everything we could ever possibly need to know about the Inhumans in this issue, but unfortunately, it leaves little room for actual story—or excitement.
Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing FF 14, originally released December 2nd, 2013.
Patrick: “The eve of battle” is an experience most of us will never literally experience – simply by virtue of the fact that so few of us will ever experience “battle.” The phenomenon, however, is immediately recognizable. People get introspective and honest and fearless the night before Something Big happens. That’s why people hook up the last day of camp, that’s why you stay up too late the night before finals watching Lord of the Rings with your friends. There’s something about the Bigness of the next day that makes every flight of fancy seem relevant. As the FF find themselves staring down the barrel of a battle royale with Doctor Doom, the Allreds chase down every impulse and curiosity, revealing a beautiful mosaic as quirky and particular as the team itself. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing FF 13, originally released October 23rd, 2013.
Shelby: Uatu the Watcher refers to his home as his “inviolate domicile.” His digs on the blue side of the moon is a place wholly protected, whose inhabitants are guaranteed safe from harm. It could just be house rules, but I like to think there’s a little more magic behind it: something about the house or the Watcher’s presence that protects everyone. It’s a perfect setting for Scott Lang and the rest of the FF team to hide out and plot against Doom. Plus, space monkeys!
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing FF 12, originally released September 25th, 2013.
Shelby: Destiny takes on a whole new meaning in ComicBookLand. To us regular folk, destiny is the idea that the natural order of the universe has predetermined our future. In comic books, it generally means a version of yourself from the future has arrived who knows what happens next because they’ve already lived it. It makes it a lot harder to argue your future is your own when faced with someone who knows what you’re going to do next, and the consequences of those actions. Unless, of course, you’re in Matt Fraction’s FF; no matter how many intellects from the future drop by, you never actually know what will happen next.