Fandom’s Power to Connect in Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special 1

by Spencer Irwin

Faith's Winter Wonderland Special

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

Fandom can be a pretty horrifying thing sometimes. A shared passion is often an excuse to harass or belittle others fans, or sometimes even creators, over differences in taste, which is inexcusable, yet practically inescapable. This is far from the way things should be, and that’s something Marguerite Sauvage, Francis Portela, and MJ Kim reminded me of in Faith’s Winter Wonderland Special. Though it’s only a small thread in the issue, the ability of fandom and pop culture to help Faith make meaningful connections is by far the part of this story that resonated the strongest with me. Continue reading

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Batman: White Knight 3

by Mark Mitchell

Batman White Knight 3

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

The primary mystery of Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight (with an assist from Matt Hollingsworth on colors) is determining what exactly Jack Napier’s intentions are. How much of his stance against Batman on moral grounds is part of a longer con? And even if Napier is truly free of the Joker, he’s certainly willing to indulge in a little villainy if the ends justify the means. But then, the same can be said of Murphy’s Batman, and it’s the murky morality of most all the major players in Batman: White Knight 3 that makes this book so compelling. Continue reading

Guardians of the Galaxy 148: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Taylor Anderson

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

Michael: There are a couple of ways to react when you’ve been caught in a lie. The most obvious option is to come clean and tell the 100% truth. The other, more likely way is to tell some of the truth but mitigate it with another smaller lie. This essentially comes down to self-preservation: you’ve been caught for one thing but not necessarily everything. It’s all about saving face, a truth that even applies to fictional space police.

The recent arc of Guardians of the Galaxy could be described as to “liars lying to sniff out other liars.” In Guardians of the Galaxy 148, the Guardians continue their undercover work with the Nova Corps to root out Shi’Ar spies. It’s getting difficult for the respective Guardians to maintain their covers and remember who’s in on their secret. Meanwhile some of the team starts to keep secrets from one another. Continue reading

Color and Foreshadowing in Astonishing X-Men 6

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Over the weekend, a friend who had fallen out of comics asked me how the Iron Man comics were these days. He was last reading like four years ago, when Kieron Gillen was writing about the secret origin of Tony Stark. Between the Tony Stark A.I., Riri Williams, and a reformed Doctor Doom, I realized it was almost impossible to walk him through all of it in any meaningful way. I mean, just explaining how / why Doom could be a good guy requires briefing him on all of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Secret Wars run. And in summary, it all sounds nuts — like the ramblings of a lunatic — but the moment-to-moment fireworks display that brought us to that point was exciting, compelling, and fun. That’s exactly what we get in Astonishing X-Men, a technicolor extravaganza content to sell the spectacle of the moment over the logic of the scene. But, man: what a spectacle it is! Continue reading

Steve Goes Freelance in Captain America 696

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 696

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

Do the citizens of the Marvel Universe adequately compensate their superheroes? There’s little doubt that the entire planet benefits from the efforts of Captain America and his ilk, but whatever gratefulness the citizens feel doesn’t put food on the table. Which is why so many superheroes either take day jobs (with S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Heroes for Hire, for example), institutionalizing their heroic output, are already independently wealthy (like Tony Stark), or have some wealthy patron (like Tony Stark). That notion of patronage hints at what I’m getting at: superheroism is a bit like making art — society may value the idea of it generally, but that doesn’t exactly translate to money in the bank. It’s a lesson Steve Rogers is learning as his journey as a freelance superhero begins in earnest in Captain America 696. Continue reading

Understanding History is Key in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 77

By Taylor Anderson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 77

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

The past is a powerful thing that both enchants and horrifies. It’s amazing that a simple picture of a familiar place can bring on nostalgia. On the other hand, the past can be misremembered as being better than it was, leading people down a dangerous path to recreate a time and place that never existed. The Triceratons, who haven’t had a home planet for ages, know their history, and unfortunately for Earth, that means they long for a time, the Creatacious period, that they feel is rightfully theirs. Continue reading

Batman 36: Discussion

By Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

Batman 36

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

Spencer: Is Bruce Wayne the mask, or is Batman? Which one is “real”? It’s a long-standing debate amongst the comic book community, and given the myriad of different interpretations of the character, probably one that will never have a definitive answer. My own feelings about this question have shifted and evolved over time, but if you asked me right this second, I’d say that both Bruce and Batman are masks of sorts — the millionaire playboy and the dark knight, respectively. We don’t see him too often, but there’s a real Bruce beneath both those facades, one with real human emotions that often get buried beneath the weight of his own mythology. The best parts of Tom King’s run on Batman have been the moments where he’s let that real Bruce shine through, and more than anything it’s been Catwoman who has allowed this Bruce to do just that. In Batman 36, King adds another tool to his storytelling arsenal that similarly cuts right to Batman’s hidden humanity: his best friend, Superman. Continue reading

Earned Ultimatums in Archie 26

by Ryan Mogge

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

Ultimatums are a hallmark of melodrama. They immediately raise the stakes, making the next move carry the weight of future. Usually this is an unfair burden. Since the time that I realized that the relationships on Beverly Hills 90210 weren’t healthy, ultimatums in romance get a healthy dose of side-eye from me. When a person says “do this or we’re done” it’s usually a cop-out or a cheap way to turn a pot-hole into a roadblock. Ultimatums are the cliffhanger of choice in romance, perching a relationship’s entire future on the next moment. Given my skepticism, it’s impressive how much empathy Mark Waid and Audrey Mok are able to elicit from me for Dilton and Veronica at the end of Archie #26. Continue reading

A Dog’s Day in Doctor Strange 382

By Taylor Anderson

Doctor Strange 382

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

A couple months ago, my wife and I fulfilled our destiny as newlyweds and took one step closer to actual adulthood by buying a dog. She’s an unholy mix between a labrador retriever and a dachshund, and perhaps the cutest dog on the planet. Even when she chews up favorite bookmarks I’ve had for years or drinks water so compulsively fast that she barfs it all back up one minute later forcing me to clean it up, I can’t help but love her. I blame the eyes. One sad puppy-dog look from her an all is forgiven. This is all to say I understand why people love dogs and why they seemingly go to the ends of the earth for them. As it turns out, that’s something I have in common with Stephen Strange, as well. Continue reading

The Fix 10: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

The Fix 10

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

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You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

Drew: If that quote doesn’t feel like it fits this issue, it’s because it doesn’t. Where The Dark Knight explores the ideas of good, evil, and the moral relativism that exists in between, The Fix is gleefully amoral, concerned less with good and bad as it is with whatever its protagonists can get away with. Which is to say, a quote about heroes and villains doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the world of The Fix. But I wonder if we strip away the morality from that quote, if we might get something a bit more universal (if still deeply pessimistic): you either die happy, or you live long enough to see yourself become miserable. The ordering of those outcomes betrays a cynical worldview that The Dark Knight (or at least Harvey Dent) shares with The Fix, one that presumes things are inclined to get worse. Of course, while The Dark Knight spun that cynicism into tragedy, The Fix funnels it into dark humor, making any successes Roy or Mac may enjoy are but haughty spirits before the inevitable fall. Continue reading