Ideologies Collide in Superman 2

by Michael DeLaney

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

Michael: Brian Michael Bendis continues to prove that he has an excellent handle on the mindset and disposition of The Man of Steel. Superman is a tireless force for good who refuses to see the glass half empty. This steadfast optimism even applies while he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone in Superman 2. Continue reading

An Opaque Reflection of Anakin in Darth Vader 19

by Spencer Irwin

Darth Vader 19

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

I could easily spend hours listing qualities that make Darth Vader one of media’s most terrifying villains, but one of the most prominent is simply how inscrutable he is. His mask and his voice give away almost nothing about his emotions, his goals, or his thought process, rendering him cold and unknowable — and nothing’s scarier than that. Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli have made excellent use of this attribute in their run on Darth Vader, and issue 19 is no exception. Despite offering up a mirror, an echo of Vader’s former life, in the form of exiled Jedi Eeth Koth, the Sith Lord remains as fascinatingly opaque as ever. Continue reading

Fantastic Four 1 Teases the Reader with Pathos

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Patrick: Dan Slott and Skottie Young close out the first issue of Fantastic Four by giving the creative team shit for not actually reuniting the titular superheroes. It’s a cute little one-pager, playing to Young’s hyper-specific strength for drawing adorably angry characters.

But this epilogue is more than just a cute way to sign off with joke. By ending the issue with an explicit acknowledgement that “they’re not even back yet”, Slott and Young are doubling down on the idea that the absence of the Four itself is a phenomenon worth exploring. Continue reading

Eternity Girl 6: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Mark Mitchell

Eternity Girl 6

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

Through our research, we discovered a disturbing statistic: 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide due to lack of societal acceptance. The national average is 4.6%. We were not willing to take that risk. For Ryland’s well-being, we were advised to allow him to transition as soon as possible.

The Whittington Family: Ryland’s Story

Drew: I first encountered this video as part of a training session for my job at a summer camp. It’s style, mostly still photos and text, doesn’t suggest a particularly moving experience, but the focus on Ryland as an individual helps pull the statistics in the excerpt above down to the human level. That is, anyone’s half-baked opinions about gender are rendered irrelevant in light of this kid’s very real risk of suicide if not accepted for who they are. Indeed, it’s a case that skirts the issue of gender almost entirely, finding the rate of attempted suicide in the trans community to be a much more pressing issue. These are issues that affect both Dani and Caroline but how they navigate their own choices (and their reactions to each other’s choices) lends further nuance to those dry statistics. Continue reading

Star Wars 52: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers

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

Michael: In The Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader has a score to settle with Luke Skywalker — solely for the reason that he is the rebel who blew up the Death Star. But Luke was only able to take that final shot because Han Solo intervened and blasted Vader’s Tie-Fighter out of the way. It is the dogfight of A New Hope. In Star Wars 52 we get the rematch we never knew we wanted: Han vs. Vader. Continue reading

Bruce Wayne Confronts His Assumptions (and Our Own) in Batman 52

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 52

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

slim-banner

We’ve written a lot over the years about how the disparate tones of various incarnations of Batman have created a kind of range that the character operates in. Maybe he’s light and campy, maybe he’s dark and serious. Maybe he’s a high-tech wizard, maybe he’s a low-tech sleuth. Maybe he’s a bitter loner, maybe he’s cultivating an ever-growing family of friends and allies. That range applies just as much to the look of Batman, as different character designs emphasize different aspects of his character. Is his costume scary, or silly? Is humanity obscured by his costume, or made more obvious by it? In practice, the platonic image of Batman we keep in our minds might be just as diffuse as his mood — a kind of pastiche of the designs from, say, our favorite comics runs, Batman: The Animated Series, and maybe even a few movies. High in the mix for most modern comics fans, though, must be David Mazzucchelli’s distinctively line-smart Batman: Year One, which distilled Batman down to as few brush strokes and dabs of color as possible, creating a kind of shorthand iconography for the character that perfectly suited the early-days nature of that story. It’s a style that Lee Weeks and colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser evoke in Batman 52, though rather than celebrating that iconography, they’re interrogating it. Continue reading

The Complexities of Internet Social Justice in Green Arrow 43

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spencer: The internet can be a powerful tool for justice, often simply because it allows information to get to more people than ever before, faster than ever before. It allows the voices of the oppressed and downtrodden to be heard, and I think the #metoo movement may be the greatest sign of this: great things have been accomplished, impossible targets have been taken down, thanks to the platform for social justice the internet provided.

Like any tool, though, the internet’s platform can also be misused. Let’s look at the recent situation where Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired by Disney. I’m not condoning Gunn’s offending tweets, though it should be noted that Gunn acknowledged and apologized for them years ago and never did anything like them again, and Disney was well aware of those tweets when they hired him. What’s significant about this situation is that Gunn’s firing was orchestrated in poor faith, by an alt-right goon who couldn’t have cared less about Gunn’s tweets; he wanted Gunn fired for criticizing the president, and the tweets were the easiest way to do it. He took a platform for social justice and misused it to serve his own agenda, and it’s scary not only that there’s no safeguard against this, but that organizations like Disney can’t see the difference; they simply bow to the “Court of Public Opinion” no matter who’s behind it.

This danger is front-and-center in Green Arrow 43, an issue that finds Oliver and company facing an internet vigilante, an angry public, and a tricky moral dilemma. Continue reading

It’s Wade Wilson’s World in Deadpool 3

by Michael DeLaney

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

Deadpool is a mercenary, assassin, sometimes hero, and fourth wall-breaking jokester. But after nearly 30 years of quips, kills and general raunch Deadpool has become something else entirely: a lens to see the Marvel Universe through. Deadpool has a funny effect on the characters and setting surrounding him — he Deadpoolifies everything he touches. Continue reading

Death Roulette in Death of the Inhumans 2

by Patrick Ehlers

This article containers SPOILERS. If you have not read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The title Death of the Inhumans makes one specific promise: some Inhumans are gonna die. But y’know, this is a comic book, and odds are just as good that the title is sensational hyperbole that they are of the title being literal. Writer Donny Cates and artist Ariel Olivetti spend the entirety of issue 2 insisting on three simple things:

  1. The Inhumans who have been killed already.
  2. The Inhumans left to kill.
  3. Vox’s ability to kill any Inhuman.

By the end of the issue, the reader is forced to take the threat of the title seriously. Cates and Olivetti cash in on that seriousness with one hell of a gut punch. Continue reading

The Seeds 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

The Seeds 1

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

Drew: Like a lot of people, I was deeply resistant to the concept of symbolism in my high school English classes. I don’t know if I resented this new (to me) world of symbols that I was so bad at identifying, or if I just lacked the imagination to conceive of writers having more literary tastes and aspirations than 15-year-old me, but I was incredulous that symbolism even existed in the works I was reading. My teacher was reading way too much into things (because, I reasoned, making things overcomplicated and boring was her job), and that no writer actually intended for these images to have any non-literal meaning. But my fixation on intent blinded me to the much more complex world of who was observing the symbolism. Is it just me, the reader, or are the characters themselves ascribing deeper meanings to the objects and actions around them? Or what if it’s the narrator, conjuring some kind of coherent aesthetic for the narrative as a whole? Perhaps it’s not the “writer,” but some diegetic force crafting these symbols, perhaps as clues to their motives or intentions? These are all questions wish I could go back to my teen self and ask, but honestly, I might be better off handing him a copy of Ann Nocenti and David Aja’s The Seeds 1, which interweaves all of these modes of symbolism with breathtaking ease. Continue reading