“Preachy” Doesn’t Mean “Bad” in Superman 27

by Spencer Irwin

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

“Preachy” is one of those words that I, as both a critic and a human being, hate using. Almost every narrative preaches in one way or another, meaning that the word largely ends up being used, much like “agenda” or “pandering,” only to describe concepts the speaker can’t stand. Yet, I can’t find a better word to describe Superman 27 than “preachy” — I mean, Lois and Clark spend the majority of the issue stating their beliefs almost directly to the reader in language that sounds straight from a dictionary, eliciting several eye-rolls from me. Thankfully, this doesn’t lead to the issue’s doom. In fact, it still succeeds because of three reasons. Continue reading

Action is Character in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 12

by Patrick Ehlers

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

For a character we’ve been hanging out with for like 60 issues, we don’t know an awful lot about Karai. She is the fiercely loyal Chunin of Oroku Saki’s Foot Clan, solely responsible for both the clan and its leader coming back to life in the 21st century. She’s a character of constant struggle, and she has an adversarial relationship with everyone. Erik Burnham and Sophie Campbell’s first chapter in Karai’s post-New York saga starts with circumstantial violence, and escalates it into meaningful scheming and action – and Karai is the merciless engine behind all of it. Continue reading

Lazarus X+66 1: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Desaulniers

Lazarus X+66 1

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

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Drew: This quote often comes up when discussing historical figures, but to my eye, it’s really all about the narratives we build around people. That is, this describes fictional heroes — from “chosen ones” destined for greatness to utterly reluctant nobodies that rise to the occasion — stories so familiar to us, we can’t help but project them on the world around us. But, like, what does it mean to be “born great,” and how do we distinguish that from someone having greatness thrust upon them? Those kinds of distinctions might make sense in stories where deities and magic put concepts like destiny in play, but the real world is much messier than that. Such is the case with Casey Solomon, whose greatness is anticipated by Forever Carlyle. Is her greatness inborn, or is it something she only achieved in order to live up to expectations? Continue reading

Descender 22 and the Art of the Opening

by Ryan Desaulniers

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

The curtains rise in Descender 22 on a stage which is nearly bare.

The only indication in the first panel that the comic has begun is the indication of the location, the planet Mata. A gentle blue irises on the right-hand side of the panel, and as your eye travels down the page, it’s difficult to tell that there even are panels. A fish glides into view, adding context to the first panel, then the next panel brings a flurry of fish and introduces an element of direction and movement, down and to the right. The gutters between the panels become more distinct here, before artist Dustin Nguyen, in the last image of the page, gives us the gloved hand, bare wrist, and a touch of the signature red of Telsa’s hair. The reader barely has time to think “oh shit!” before the page turn smashes us into a two-page spread of Telsa, floating and limp, wrapped in a hard layer of bubbles, hopeless. Continue reading

Crazy Twists Bring the Fun in Green Lanterns 27

by Mark Mitchell

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

I’m a sucker for a big, sci-fi twist. I love the ending of Tim Burton’s misguided 2001 Planet of the Apes reboot with Mark Whalberg’s Leo Davidson crashing back to “Earth” in front of the Lincoln Memorial… which Burton then reveals to actually be Ape-raham Lincoln. It’s a twist that makes exactly zero sense when considered for even a passing moment, but it’s capital “F” Fun and that’s good enough for me. Continue reading

Irony vs. Sincerity in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 6

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s a little bit of a disconnect between the crew of the Milano. On one hand, you’ve got Gamora and Drax, honor-bound warriors who are deeply entrenched in the galactic mythology that shapes the universe around them. On the other, you’ve got Star-Lord and Rocket, both of whom would happily throw sarcastic scare quotes up around “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s a tension of values — irony vs. sincerity — that eventually melts away in Guardians of the Galaxy 6. Continue reading

The Strength — and Risks — of Intimacy in America 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

Fear of intimacy is one of those tropes that’s so common it’s practically become cliché (Friends was on at the gym the other day, and I couldn’t help but to roll my eyes at Chandler trying to run away from his wedding), yet its based on very real, very understandable fears. Without intimacy one would lead a very lonely life, yet opening yourself up to another person is, ultimately, a risk that takes a surprising amount of courage to do. That’s something America Chavez has already discovered in America 5, an issue that shows the benefits of her emotional intimacy even as this same quality places her in grave danger. Continue reading

Stiff Acting Stilts Star Wars: Poe Dameron 17

by Mark Mitchell

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

A resistance movement concerned with growing apathy among the people, dangerous and corrupt leadership in power propped up by a legislative body too power-hungry to care, journalists as heroes despite being considered untrustworthy by many — the many  parallels between the current political situation in the United States and the state of the galaxy are the driving forces of Charles Soule and Angel Unzueta’s Star Wars: Poe Dameron 17. Continue reading

Hammer Time in Mighty Thor 21

by Taylor Anderson

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

When it was first announced that a woman would take up the mantle of Thor a couple years ago, people were shocked. The uproar about this wasn’t so much about a different person being labeled Thor, but the fact that a this person was going to become Thor while using the Odinson’s signature hammer, Mjölnir. (I would be remiss not to mention that blatant sexism and fragile male egos also contributed to the backlash against a woman being named Thor, but that’s a different discussion entirely). There have been plenty of versions of Thor in the Marvel pantheon, but the idea of Mjölnir going to someone else seemed to agitate fans. That this bothered people raises a question: if a person is Thor, or a version thereof, based on which hammer they wield, who is actually the hero, the hammer or the person who uses it? Continue reading

Balance in the Space Between in Batman 27

by Patrick Ehlers

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

What’s the difference between camp and genre fiction? How about the difference between parody and pastiche? All of these categorical distinctions share the same powerful feature — exploiting tropes to elicit involuntary emotional reactions. And usually, that reaction is a laugh. A knowing chuckle, a boisterous guffaw, rolling chortles — what’s the difference? Is one form ridiculous while the other form is cool? Is one form important while the other form is base? And is there any space between them? Tom King and Clay Mann’s Batman 27 answers that question with the simultaneously ludicrous and tragic origin story of Chuck Brown: The Kite Man. Continue reading