Thor 3: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Drew Baumgartner

Thor 3

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

Spencer: Last weekend my grandmother was sent to the hospital. Thankfully she’s recovering nicely, but the actual task of getting her treated was complicated by the sheer amount of her children and grandchildren gathered in one place, bickering over treatments, supposedly-rude doctors, and the usual family gossip. For better or for worse, I think this kind of behavior is typical when almost any family gets together; there’s no task so important that some family drama can’t derail it. That’s certainly the case for the Odinson clan in Thor 3, who nearly bicker each other into oblivion even as the Queen of Cinders is on the verge of conquering Hel.  Continue reading

Individuality is Growth, and Regression Danger in X-23 1

By Spencer Irwin

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

It’s hard not to view Laura’s return to the name “X-23,” after wearing the mantle of “Wolverine,” as a demotion, even a regression for the character. X-23 1 does all it can to smooth over this transition — writer Mariko Tamaki’s pitch-perfect channeling of Laura and Gabby’s voices combined with the return of one-time All-New Wolverine artist Juann Cabal gives this issue a lot of forward momentum, making it feel like a continuation of the story Tom Taylor began rather than a radically new take — but never explicitly addresses the change of code-names or the reason behind it. Instead, Tamaki and Cabal tackle the ideas of identity, growth, and regression head-on through the examples of Laura, Gabby, and the Stepford Cuckoos. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all leading towards an argument for “X-23” later in the storyline. Continue reading

Chemistry in Dead Hand 4

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Chemistry between characters is one of those things that’s almost impossible to fake. Either a group of people crackle with common charisma or they don’t. That’s very easy to recognize on TV or in movies, but how does that translate over to a comic book page? Snappy dialogue is one way to get that across, but that only works if your characters are the quippy type. So, sure, you can show that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have chemistry with each other, but good luck showing me Frank Castle has chemistry with anyone. In Kyle Higgins and Stephen Mooney’s Dead Hand 4, chemistry is expressed through non-acting visual cues, allowing the storytelling flow to express quality of the relationship. Continue reading

Everybody Has Their Role to Play in Exiles 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

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Since the very first issue of Exiles the Tallus, an interdimensional, time-traveling gauntlet, has been calling the shots, pulling our heroes from reality to reality with its own agenda in mind. In many ways, it’s the true mastermind behind the defeat of the Time Eater, having charted a path towards victory and collecting heroes and allies all with vital and specific roles to play in its plan. Early on in the series this sometimes felt like it robbed the characters of their agency, but as we reach the finale of Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez’s story in Exiles 5 that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s interesting to see the role each Exile has to play, but far more interesting to see them all embrace their roles enthusiastically and of their own volition. Continue reading

Idol Worship in She Could Fly 1

by Drew Baumgartner

She Could Fly 1

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

Is familiarity the opposite of idolatry? I suspect it’s only possible to idolize a celebrity or public figure because they’re unknown. Because we’re unfamiliar with their annoying habits or bad smells, we mythologize them as some kind of immaculate demigod, incapable of error. It’s easy to come up with a certain political example, but this is true for most public figures, from Elon Musk to Taylor Swift. We only know so much about these people, and in the cases where we like them, our brain rushes in to fill the rest with perfection. This is obviously the case for Luna Brewster, who has pinned her imagination to a mysterious woman seen flying over Chicago. Continue reading

The Responsibility of the Witness in Daredevil 605

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 605 begins with Wilson Fisk raising from his hospital bed to attempt to regain control of New York City. Even dressed in a hospital gown and dragging an IV pole behind him, Fisk backs Foggy into a corner. It looks like Fisk is going to get his way, but ends up collapsing to the ground — it turns out that he wasn’t well enough to exert himself so much. But he made a choice to stop letting Matt Murdock run New York City, rather that simply witnessing it from the safety of his hospital room. While the sun sets on this Wilson Fisk story after three pages, the remainder of the issue plays out that same fundamental question over and over again: what responsibility does a witness have to interfere with whatever they are witnessing? Continue reading

The Many Irreconcilable Definitions of Redemption in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 34

By Spencer Irwin

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

Kraven the Hunter is not only the very first enemy Doreen Green defeated way back when Ryan North and Erica Henderson launched The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but he’s also the first enemy she reformed. Unlike the other villains whose lives Doreen has helped turn around, Kraven has continued to pop up as a recurring character ever since, allowing the creative team to explore life after redemption and just what, exactly, Kraven looks like as a “good guy.” With this image now firmly in place, North and artist Derek Charm use The Unbeatable Squirrel 34 to muddy and complicate it in fascinatingly complex and nuanced ways. What redemption means for Kraven may not be the same for Doreen, or Spider-Man, or the police, or the people of NYC, and there may simply be no way to reconcile these various viewpoints.  Continue reading

Amazing Spider-Man 1: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Amazing Spider-Man 1

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

Drew: If you only had one word to describe Spider-Man, what would it be? Strength? Responsibility? Verbosity? These are all great answers, each with plenty of classic Spidey stories that emphasize those characteristics, but they aren’t quite perfect. Plenty of heroes are as strong and/or responsible, and a few even talk as much as Spider-Man, but there’s something else that makes him unique. With Amazing Spider-Man 1, Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley offer up their own answer — one I had never considered, but feels obvious on reflection: Karma. Beyond his powers and the responsibilities that come with them, Spider-Man is a person plagued by the consequences of his past mistakes. Continue reading

Superman 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers

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

Spencer: One of the biggest criticisms I’ve seen thrown around about Superman as a character is that he’s “too powerful,” that nothing can challenge a man who can quite literally juggle planets. There’s a bit of truth to this, to be sure, but it’s a narrow criticism, one that only takes into consideration physical challenges; the most interesting Superman stories are the ones that challenge him morally, ethically, or in ways that make his physical abilities useless. Superman 1 is such a story, an issue that finds the character at his most physically competent, yet feeling more lost and helpless than ever before.  Continue reading

The Martian Migraines and Cosmic Confusion ofJustice League 3

By Michael DeLaney

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

Great superhero epics always have a touch of mystery: an unseen enemy, the villain’s elaborate master plan or the occasional gigantic conspiracy. Does the simultaneous inclusion of multiple mysteries add to the excitement of such an adventure, or does it simply distract? These are the types of questions I face when reading a book like Justice League 3. Continue reading