Secret Weapons 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

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Patrick: Thwip! Bamf! Snikt! You know those sound effects: respectively, they mean a) Spider-Man shooting some web fluid, b) Nightcrawler teleporting away, and c) Wolverine deploying his claws. It is perhaps illustrative of the predictability of their superpowers that there are immutable sound effects that accompany them. You know exactly what it sounds like when Wolvie pops his claws, but you also know exactly what he can do with them. These powers are used in unsurprising ways to save the day, but what happens when the superheroes have powers that aren’t so easy to understand? Well, then you’ve got the residents of The Willow and the cast of Secret Weapons. Continue reading

Definition by Contrast in Saga 44

by Ryan Mogge

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

When you are a kid, your family creates your idea of normal. It’s only when you go to a friend’s house and things are done just a little differently, that you can really define what makes your family unique. In Saga 44, Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan reinforce what we know about Marko, Alana, and Hazel by giving us a fun-house mirror version of their family.

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A New Take on an Old Myth in Batman/Shadow 3

by Michael DeLaney

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

“Forget everything you think you know” is a phrase that has become overused in pop culture — particularly in marketing movies like last year’s Doctor Strange. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think about it while reading Batman/The Shadow 3. Steve Orlando and Scott Snyder challenge our presumptions on Batman’s origins by positing that he is destined to inherit the mantle of The Shadow. Continue reading

The Failings of Friendship in Desperate Times in Secret Empire 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

“The power of friendship” is a popular trope in most media. The idea that most situations can be overcome through the bonds we share with our friends is powerful in a lot of ways, but it’s one that never really seems applicable to war or espionage stories like Secret Empire. Make no mistake, Hydra is not going to be defeated by friendship or optimism alone, but in Secret Empire 5, Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Andrea Sorrentino, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg do explore the effect pre-existing relationships have on their conflict. It’s not always a good one. Continue reading

Wants, Needs, and Given Circumstances in The Wild Storm 5

by Ryan Desaulniers

Wild Storm 5

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

In a world as complicated as this one, replete with conspiracies between corporations, technology theft, aliens living among us puny humans, and a gigantic cast of characters, it helps to find ways to keep things simple. In The Wild Storm 5, writer Warren Ellis and artist Jon Davis-Hunt introduce many new, somewhat confusing elements to the narrative, but underscore these revelations with a firm grounding in characters’ wants and needs. Continue reading

Secrets, Surprises and Criminality in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

by Patrick Ehlers

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

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

Liars. Thieves. Con men. They’ve all got secrets. It’s no wonder that the Galaxy’s rascally Guardians, who are more criminals than they are heroes, have a whole host of surprises and secrets up their collective sleeve. Writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder keep the reader in the role of the mark, setting us up to be as surprised as everyone else in their story. It’s a little frustrating to be kept at such a distance, but it is perfectly in-line with what it must be like to know these guys. Continue reading

Everybody Wants to Go Home in Green Lanterns 25

by Patrick Ehlers

Green Lanterns 25

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

In the first 20ish issues of Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz where largely earthbound Green Lanterns. Even the appearance of Volthoom — a villain that traverses all space and time — didn’t shift writer Sam Humphries’ focus away from their home planet of Earth. Issue 25 kicks off the second consecutive arc in outer space by constantly reminding the reader how much more the characters would rather be at home. In fact, that desire to be home extends beyond our heroes, right to the villain, the aforementioned First Lantern, Volthoom. Continue reading

Understanding Golden Age Tropes is an Asset in Doctor Strange 22

by Taylor Anderson

Doctor Strange 22

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

No matter how much success comic book movies have in crossing over into the mainstream or how dark and gritty Christopher Nolan, Alan Moore, or anyone else can make their comic book universe, monthlies will never be able to escape the shadow of the goofiness of the Golden Age. In some ways, the silliness of Golden Age comics have been celebrated by serious comic book fans and writers. They knowingly acknowledge that comics of the past weren’t great, but also pay homage to the stories that gave birth to some of today’s most beloved heroes. Doctor Strange is a product of the Golden Age, and in issue 22 Dennis Hopeless both celebrates and takes a dig at these roots. Continue reading

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 1: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Ryan Desaulniers

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

Ryan M.: How much background do you need to enjoy a single issue of an on-going serial? There is an argument that the answer is none. Most of us start out by just diving in, checking things out and then heading to Wikipedia or a very knowledgeable friend to help fill in the cracks. The serialized narrative is a moving train, you catch it when you can, and see what it has to offer. This can be one of the format’s strengths, giving the reader a feeling of discovery by entering a rich established world. You may have questions that aren’t answered or relationship dynamics you can’t understand, but you are seeing into a fictional world that is fully realized. It’s one of the reasons that origin stories can feel plodding. They are explaining why things are rather than showing what they become. In Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider Man 1, Chip Zdarsky balances out that sense of history by giving the story a day-in-the-life feel with a few big turns that make it clear that a bigger story is evolving. Continue reading

Choice is a Privilege in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 11

by Ryan Mogge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 11

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

Choice is a privilege. It’s easy to take that for granted when facing horrible options, but self-determination is worth something. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 11, Rich Douek and Aaron Conley explore this idea through the characters of Ray and Dreadmon. Continue reading