A Surprise Backstory Reveals the Depth of Curse Words 10

by Drew Baumgartner

Curse Words 10

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

What is Curse Words to you? As a series that wears its sense of humor on its sleeve, it’s easy to pigeonhole it as an irreverent romp, complete with magical beards and a talking animal sidekick. “Pigeonhole” makes it sound like a negative, so I want to make it clear that 1) goofy, fun stories are worthy of our collective attention, and 2) Curse Words worked beautifully as a goofy, fun story. But I suppose we always knew there was something lurking beneath that slick facade, whether it was some piece of Wizord’s backstory or the suspicious nature of his new magic-stealing powers. With this issue, Charles Soule and Ryan Browne take that several steps further, establishing some devastating emotional stakes that are so surprising, they can’t help but force us to question everything about this series. Continue reading

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Mogge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76

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

Drew: If there’s a sci-fi equivalent to “boy meets girl…” it might reasonably be “alien race comes in peace, humans react badly.” Where it goes from there depends a great deal on what type of story is being told, but the premise of an earnestly peaceful alien race forced to defend itself against panicky earthlings is full of the kind of themes sci-fi writers love, vilifying the xenophobia and shortsightedness that hold humanity back. Indeed, the human attack on the aliens is so despicable, storytellers have to go out of their way to make the aliens seem somehow suspicious — perhaps they look scary or seem to be keeping some kind of secret from us. That is, while we may come to sympathize with the aliens, there’s often some ambiguity to their intentions. This is decidedly not the case for the Triceratons in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76, whose intentions are clear to everyone — especially the reader — from the moment they arrive on Earth. It sets them up as the unequivocal good guys, allowing Agent Bishop to really cut loose as the issue’s villain. Continue reading

The Joy of Teamwork in Hawkeye 12

By Spencer Irwin

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

Hawkeye 12 is an ode to teamwork. It’s not just the lesson Kate learns at the end — that she’s going to need to ask for help if she wants to find her mother — but the way she learns that lesson that drives the point home. Kelly Thompson, Michael Walsh, and Jordie Bellaire make this issue fun, showing that teamwork isn’t just beneficial, but enjoyable for all. Continue reading

It’s the Old vs. the Young in The Wicked + The Divine 33

by Spencer Irwin

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

The Wicked + The Divine 33 is an absolute gamechanger of an issue (I know we put a spoiler warning before every article, but I just want to reiterate — you do not want this issue spoiled), one that made me rethink everything I thought I knew about the series, and which has me eager to go back and reread it from the beginning. Writer Kieron Gillen addresses this in his letter that closes the issue, stating that he and artist Jamie McKelvie have been unable to even disclose one of the three major themes of the series before because it would have spoiled issue 33’s big reveals. With so much out in the open now, though, I think I have a solid idea what that theme might be. Continue reading

Magna Tolvan is Lovable, to a Distracting Degree, in Doctor Aphra 14

by Taylor Anderson

Doctor Aphra 14

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

The great thing about Star Wars comics is that we’re introduced to characters from the extended universe we would never meet otherwise. I mean, Han, Luke, Leia, and Darth are all pretty compelling characters, but forty years worth of stories surrounding them means there isn’t a whole lot left to say about them. Dr. Aphra, then, is a great series in this regard. Aphra herself is a compelling character, but the title is made so much better by the rich cast of characters that surrounds her. However, if these characters lose their charm or act in ways that don’t make sense then there’s not a whole lot for an issue to fall back on save for space battles and explosions.

Continue reading

An Apokoliptian Mess in Superman 35

by Michael DeLaney

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

Superman 35 is the third chapter of the “Imperius Lex” arc, where Lex Luthor is trying to rescind his status as Lord of Apokolips. The Kent family has been separated across Apokolips, each dealing with the best of what Darkseid’s planet has to offer. It’s hard not to think of the last time Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason sent us to Apokolips in the pages of Batman and Robin. Unfortunately, this is light years away from that bombastic Bat-tale. Continue reading

Peter Gets a New Set of Great Responsibilities in The Amazing Spider-Man 791

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 791

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

“With great power must also come great responsibility.” Every Spider-Man fan knows these words as well as Peter Parker himself, so you’d think we’d have a good handle on what it means. And we do, to some degree — Peter’s superhuman powers demand that he take on superhuman responsibilities — but much of the tension comes from how all that superheroing clashes with the other responsibilities in his life. Writer Dan Slott has always kept that aspect of Spider-Man in mind, giving Peter more personal and professional responsibilities than he can really keep track of. It’s a juggling act we’re all familiar with in our own lives, and Amazing Spider-Man 791 finds Slott adding one more that clearly means a lot to him: publishing deadlines. Continue reading

Creating Stakes in Mighty Thor 701

by Patrick Ehlers

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

700 issues in, the gods of Asgard have faced annihilation numerous times. But they have always pulled through, because that’s how decades-long serialized mythologies work. Every threat must be bested in order to perpetuate the franchise. This isn’t something that bothers me: the “what happens” never concerns me as much as the “how it happens.” But for anyone demanding meaningful, lasting, concrete consequences in their storytelling should welcome the rise of Mangog. Mangog is here to kill the gods, and by the end of issue 701, he’s already got a definitive Win in his column. Continue reading

Batman Who Laughs 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Mark Mitchell

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

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Patrick: Outside of dance-able club hits, which state their desire to make you dance, very few works of art tell you what effect they intend to have on you. Batman Who Laughs has one purpose and one purpose only: to shock longtime Batman fans with a violent, evil twist on the Dark Knights’ mythos. And the book cockily asserts that it is going to surprise its readers, by having the titular laughing Batman address the camera directly and saying as much. “You really thought you had it all figured out. That you knew every combination in the deck.” The work assumes the reader is skeptical of its goal from page one — the remainder of the issue is spent trying to prove that this is the darkest, most twisted Batman story ever told. Continue reading

Help Drew Fund His Comics Anthology: MASKS

MASKS: An Anthology

Hi all! Drew here, interrupting our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a special announcement about a comics anthology I’ve spent the past several months putting together. It’s called MASKS: An Anthology, and it collects comics and essays about comics, all dealing with the theme of masks. It features writers and artists from all over the world, including our very own Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin, who are both contributing essays. Patrick is also writing and drawing his first ever comic, which you’re not going to want to miss. It’s up on kickstarter now, where digital and physical copies are available alongside a number of other exciting rewards. I’m obviously a bit biased, but I think this is a project that will appeal to most of our readers, as it features innovative and varied comics alongside in-depth analyses. It’s a project I’m very proud of, and hope you’ll consider supporting. The kickstarter ends on November 22nd, so be sure to act fast! (Check out a few samples from the book after the break!) Continue reading