Heroes Sacrifice Their Humanity in The Immortal Hulk 7

by Michael DeLaney

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

In recent comic book history The Avengers have very little love for The Hulk, and the feeling is mutual. The Avengers see Hulk as a liability – a ticking time bomb that is bound to go off and destroy everything in his path. For The Hulk, The Avengers are quasi authoritarians who won’t leave him alone. It’s from this perspective that The Immortal Hulk 7 is framed.

Collateral damage in superhero stories is a plot point that is probably too prevalent nowadays. Instead of focusing on the body count of those scenarios however, Al Ewing deals with the weight of deeming what constitutes as “necessary loss.”

Joe Bennett brilliantly opens the issue with the image of a boy playing with action figures of Iron Man and Captain Marvel.

At first glance these two panels are seemingly innocuous – representative of the type of dialogue any child would recreate when play with their toys. But the little boy Julian may be something of a prophet, as we will later see the real Captain Marvel and Iron Man arguing about unleashing their own super weapon to take down The Hulk.

As they work to incapacitate The Hulk, The Avengers are at odds about using their devastating weapon “Code: Helios” as a last resort. Iron Man is trigger happy and ready to drop the bomb whereas Captains Marvel and America are far more hesitant.

America’s superheroes have often been compared to/aligned with the U.S. government, and in this instance Ewing gives them the dangerous power and responsibility that that entails. Like President Truman and the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, The Avengers must weigh the costs and benefits of deploying their weapon. Sure the immediate area has been entirely evacuated, but by initiating Code: Helios The Avengers are effectively rendering an entire town homeless.

In the wake of Secret Empire, it’s common for any of Captain America’s opponents to throw the sins of his doppelgänger in his face – Hulk is no exception. I think in this instance it is more appropriate than most however. After all, when you’re using the equivalent of an atomic bomb on your own soil however, how much different are you from Hydra?

Two additional things worth noting in the above panels: first is the tragic mis-coloring of Captain America’s uniform. With his chainmail design you could mistake him for Aquaman cosplaying as Captain America. Second is Hulk’s reflection in Captain America’s shield, reminding us that Bruce’s father Brian Banner is (mostly?) in control here.

The last thing I want to touch on is Jennifer Walters AKA She-Hulk. I will admit that I haven’t been closely following Jason Aaron’s The Avengers, but I’m not clear on why She-Hulk…Hulkier than usual. Regardless of the why, Ewing and Bennett use her current form to their advantage with the themes of this issue.

She-Hulk is the last line of defense before Iron Man decides to enact Code: Helios, because what’s better at stopping The Hulk than another Hulk? It’s that very notion that terrifies Jennifer, and Hulk exploits it. Iron Man and The Avengers sacrifice a little bit of their humanity by obliterating The Hulk and everything around him. When Jennifer looks into the mirror that is her cousin, does she realize that she has sacrificed her humanity as well?

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

Infinity Wars 4 Pits Novel Mash-Ups Against Classic Characters

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“In a life of weird experiences, this one is up there.”

-Bruce Banner, Infinity Wars 4

In the quote above, Bruce Banner is referring to the experience of having his soul un-merged from Scott Lang’s by the combined magics / telepathies of Loki and a Power Stone-wielding Emma Frost in the barren wastes of Soul World. It’s a jumble of virtually impenetrable Marvel Universe jargon, but it’s also sort of the appeal of the event as a whole. The Infinity Warps issues that have spun out of this story are sold almost entirely on the wackiness of the premise: a Captain America Doctor Strange hybrid! A Moon Knight Spider-Man mash-up! But with Infinity Wars 4, writer Gerry Duggan and artist Mike Deodato, Jr. start making the case against the novelty of these mash-up characters by asserting the strength and usefulness of the vanilla versions of these characters, to say nothing of just how appealingly weird they are to begin with. Continue reading

Commentary Track – Dan Watters Talks Sandman Universe 1

Commentary Track Sandman Universe 1

Expanding on the world of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, August’s Sandman Universe 1 served as the launchpad for four new ongoing series from DC Vertigo — The DreamingHouse of Whispers, Books of Magic, and Lucifer — each promising to explore different corners of that Universe. Just before Lucifer 1 released this week, we sat down with writer Dan Watters to go through his Sandman Universe 1 sequence page by page, so get your copy out and join us on the Commentary Track. Continue reading

Venom 7: 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: The first arc of Donny Cates’ Venom went for bombastic action and retcon myth-making, and as fun and exciting as that was, I can’t help but find myself more interested in the more “down-to-Earth” nature of Venom 7. Cates does still add to his symbiote mythos, but this issue focuses more on the personal bond between Eddie Brock and his symbiote pal – or lack thereof, in this case. Continue reading

Finding the Emotion Behind the Audacious Premise in Murder Falcon 1

by Spencer Irwin

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

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Friday’s Image Comics spotlight panel at New York Comic Con. The panel was a chance for about seven or eight creators to talk about their new or upcoming series, and while every creator there had an excellent pitch (and I want to read all their books), it was Daniel Warren Johnson who seemed to win the crowd fastest, with just two words: “Murder Falcon.” Murder Falcon has the kind of wonderfully insane concept — metalhead’s guitar playing allows him to fight monsters via an absolutely ripped bird named Murder Falcon — that just screams for attention, but for a book to keep readers, it needs more than just an audacious premise. Thankfully, Johnson is well aware of this, and thus Murder Falcon 1 finds the heart beneath all the (wonderful) silliness, and highlights the real emotional power of its premise. Continue reading

Clark Controls the Narrative in Superman 4

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Earth is trapped in the Phantom Zone and Superman is being attacked by Rogol Zaar and an army of Phantom Zone prisoners! It’s a dire situation, and not one that Superman has any confidence that he can solve by punching it. Instead, Superman has to redefine his terms of victory, drawing Rogol Zaar out of Earth’s atmosphere just long enough for Ray Palmer to shrink the planet and slide it out of the Phantom Zone. Clark is able to accomplish this because he controls the narrative, even as Rogol thinks he has the upper hand. Rogol’s tactics are better, but Superman controls the goals those tactics are meant to achieve. Artist Ivan Reis and writer Brian Michael Bendis fill the issue with examples of Superman controlling both the stories about him and the method and medium in which those stories are told. Continue reading

How The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 37 Hides Everything in Plain Sight

By Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 37

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

Doreen Green’s honesty is a key part of her character. It allows her to find nonviolent solutions to so many of her conflicts, helping her adversaries find a better path forward. But it also means she’s not great at subterfuge. It’s a weakness that Ryan North and Derek Charm lean into hilariously, as Doreen and Nancy don some truly absurd costumes in order to infiltrate Squirrel Girl’s own funeral.

Bass Lass and Fish Miss

As silly as these costumes are, they also reinforce Doreen’s natural honesty — she’s simply incapable of selling a lie convincingly. It’s a philosophy that North and Charm use to inform the whole aesthetic of the series, which tends to overshare and lampshade niggling details we might have otherwise overlooked. But unlike Doreen’s compulsive honesty, North and Charm can use our trust against us, landing a thrilling twist in this issue’s final page. Continue reading

Deadpool 5 Sacrifices Character for Laughs

by Michael DeLaney

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

Every creator has their own take on a character — it’s why we keep returning to the same stories of caped mystery men and women after all this time. Working within the familiar realm of the Marvel Universe, they can forego some of the basic elements of a character’s world. However, there are times where creators might rely on that familiarity a little too much, neglecting to fully establish their version of the character/world. Such is the case with Deadpool 5. Continue reading

Border Town 2: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin

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

PatrickBorder Town hinges on an obviously loaded concept: the membrane between the monster world and the human world lies along the border between the US and Mexico. All the xenophobia, all the paranoia, and all the actual danger is exaggerated. But there’s another component of the traditional border dispute narrative that’s cranked up to ten — culture. Writer Eric M. Esquivel and artist Ramon Villalobos take care to bask in the cultural specifics of our heroes, while only hinting at the implied culture of the monstrous villains. It’s a fascinating look at what humanizes people on either side of either border. Continue reading

Balancing the Superboys in The Adventures of the Super Sons 3

by Michael DeLaney

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

When Pete Tomasi began pairing Jon Kent with Damian Wayne back in the pages of Superman, their dynamic was immediately successful. The pair emulated their fathers in a way that previous Superboy/Robin duos never could, with Damian having Batman’s brooding and Jon having Superman’s pluck. But what happens with you throw another Jon Kent into the mix? Continue reading