Chewie Gives Good Hugs in Star Wars 42

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Very little has been leaked about the new Han Solo movie, and depending on who you talk to, that may or may not be a very bad thing. Even though its release is only a few months away, details about it are sparse with the exception of a few tidbits, such as explaining how Han and Chewie first met. Unless Disney has changed the lore drastically, this will probably take the form of Han saving Chewie’s life so the former owes the latter a life debt. While that might be the basis of their relationship, in Star Wars 42, we see that there’s so much more to it than just that. Continue reading

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Doctor Strange 384: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: This is the second week in a row that I get to name-drop the Sentry! I think I may be in the minority when I say that I like the Sentry, the Dr. Jekyll Superman analogue with a Mr. Hyde counterpart called The Void. I don’t think that he should be headlining his own book, but I do like him as a co-star or part of an ensemble. Donny Cates makes excellent use out of the Sentry in Doctor Strange 384. Continue reading

Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Omega Spoils Itself

by Drew Baumgartner

Venom Inc Omega

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

How do we feel about Marvel’s “alpha” and “omega” strategy to crossovers? That is, mostly embedding the crossover in already-running monthlies, reducing the event series to just the first and last chapters of the story. They’re harder to skip by design — where you might be able to simply ignore an entire event series, you might be pulled into a crossover if a book you’re following is participating — but that can be frustrating to otherwise disinterested readers. Another downside that I hadn’t considered is that the stakes of an omega issue are kind of necessarily neutered — their inessential nature means they lack the ballast to make any changes that would be too earth-shattering to its participating series. Any big changes must have already happened in the series it would most effect, leaving the omega to tie up the loose ends with as little disruption to the status quo as possible. I don’t love to lead with these kind of meta-critiques of an issue (honestly, most superhero story arcs wrap up with the same kind of predictable return-to-normal), but Amazing Spider-Man & Venom: Venom Inc. Omega seems determined to keep it at the forefront of my mind, stymying any tension at every chance it gets. Continue reading

Batman 39: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Mark Mitchell

Batman 39

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Drew: Hey, so what is fidelity? I think we all understand the general concept, but the exact borders of the definition are not entirely well defined. If your significant other dies, for example, very few people would classify moving on to another relationship as “cheating,” so we might fairly define “death” as one of the hard edges of fidelity. But what if they’re just presumed dead — say, on a desert island for years and years? Do we consider Helen Hunt’s marriage in Cast Away to be cheating on Tom Hanks? What if it had been Tom Hanks who forged the new relationship (on the island, somehow) — he knows he’s not dead (and could reasonably assume Helen Hunt isn’t), but do the rules of fidelity extend to seemingly hopeless circumstances of languishing in a remote corner of the world? These are certainly unlikely hypotheticals, but unlikely hypotheticals are what superhero comics are all about, and exactly what Batman 39 needs in order to maybe-kinda-sorta justify Batman and Wonder Woman hooking up. Continue reading

America’s Joy Defines America 11

by Spencer Irwin

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

America‘s often breathless pace works to its favor in issue 11, a transition issue that manages to serve as an epilogue to the previous storyline while also diving head-first into the next, mixing heartfelt character moments with genuine thrills and actions, with none feeling out of place or poorly paced. For the moment, America Chavez is in a good place, and her joy shines through in this issue loud and clear. Continue reading

Too Many Premises in Ice Cream Man 1

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There is an often-repeated, often misunderstood, rule of improv called “yes and.” What it boils down to is that when you’re in an scene with another person, it is your job as a performer to not deny any of the reality your partner has set up, and everything you say should add to that reality. Mechanically, it looks like this: you hear what your partner said, acknowledge and affirm it, and then add something that respects what has already been established. This is great for starting scenes, but beyond the first couple lines, the “and” half of the equation gets dangerous. That’s how you start to get President Michael Vick drilling for pirates’ gold on Jupiter. See how fast that sentence got away from me? That’s too many premises to deal with in any way that makes sense, and is totally divorced from reality. Continue reading

A Different Set of Stakes in Old Man Hawkeye 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Old Man Hawkeye 1

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There are plenty of valid critiques of individual prequels, but I’ll never understand the argument that prequels are robbed of stakes because we know who survives the story. This ties into my wariness of spoiler concerns that privilege plot over all other aspects of consuming a story, but with the added twist of fetishizing death as the only stakes a story could possibly have. It falls apart under even the slightest scrutiny — the protagonist’s survival can be assumed for the vast majority of stories, and I reject the notion that this fact inherently makes those stories inferior. We know Vito must survive the flashback story in The Godfather Part II, but it is also regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time — held in higher esteem than virtually all movies where the protagonist might maybe die in the third act. Not all stories are life-and-death stories, and not all life-and-death stories require us to actually believe that the character might die. Such is the case with Old Man Hawkeye, which tells the story of Clint Barton before he went on that fateful road trip in Old Man Logan. (So, you know, heads up about spoilers for that series after the jump.)  Continue reading

Inspiring Vulnerable Populations in Ms. Marvel 26

By Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Kamala Khan is such a good kid. She get’s these stretchy-growy-shrinky superpowers and the very first thing she does is try to protect the vulnerable people in her community. Of course, that doesn’t mean helping impoverished families navigate the SNAP program or helping people with job placement or anything like that — it means punchin’ bad dudes with her temporarily over-sized fists. It’s an inspiring thing, both to read and for the characters within Kamala’s orbit. Issue 26 continues the ‘Teenage Wasteland” story arc by showing us just how thoroughly Kamala has inspired her friends to act as nobly and selflessly as she did when faced with roughly the same threat. Continue reading

An Overdue Spotlight Turns on Laney Lan in New Super-Man 19

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, read on at your own risk!

When New Super-Man premiered, Laney Lan, the book’s Lois Lane equivalent (whose name my iPad always wants to autocorrect like she’s a local area network), was primed to play a prominent role in the series — Kenan Kong had goo-goo eyes for her, and her plucky reporting skills promised to help Kenan unravel the mysteries of his family. But somewhere along the way, series creator Gene Luen Yang seemingly lost interest in repeating the ideas of Superman beat for beat, or perhaps just couldn’t find room for Laney as the book began to sprawl. But as Yang prepares to relaunch New Super-Man as New Super-Man and the Justice League of China, Mariko Tamaki and Richard Friend’s one-off New Super-Man 19 circles back to turn a spotlight on Laney — maybe as a taste of a larger role in the story going forward, or maybe as a last hurrah for a character who never quite had a place.

Continue reading

Different Kinds of Strength in She-Hulk 161

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Mariko Tamaki’s been taking Jennifer Walters on a long, singular journey towards recovery ever since taking over Hulk/She-Hulk, and the antagonists Jen has faced along the way have been specifically chosen to reflect different challenges of that journey, often by turning them into mirror images of Jen’s greatest fears. What does it mean, then, that She-Hulk 161 has two villains for Jen to face down? And what do these two foes have to say about where Jen’s head is right now? Continue reading