Secret Weapons 4: 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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“There. There it is: too much iron in your blood…”

Magneto, X2

Patrick: Magneto controls magnetic fields. It’s an objectively cool super power, impossibly useful in every situation (and particularly useful against any otherwise unkillable enemy). In X2, Magneto uses this power rip microscopic particles of iron out of his prison guard’s bloodstream. He manipulates the magnetic fields around the resultant bloody cloud until he’s in control of free-flying bullets and hovering platforms. It’s an absurd demonstration of Magneto’s powers. There’s a lot to criticize in the logic of that scene, but it’s hard to fault the giddy enthusiasm. Writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín show a similar enthusiasm for their characters’ powers. The difference is that they start from a ridiculous premise and work their way to exciting applications.

That’d be reason enough to love the conclusion of Secret Weapons, but Heisserer, Allén and Martín hold the comic book medium in the same high esteem as the goofy powers their characters posses. Just as Avi, Nikki and Owen apply their simple skills in ingenious ways, so too does the creative team master the page with mindblowingly intuitive art. Continue reading

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Empathy Overpowered by Patriarchal Vengeance in Green Lanterns 31

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz travel ten billion years into the past are integrated into the foundational Green Lantern myth. They are “important” in every conceivable sense of the word. And while they achieve that import through battle and victory and all the usual superhero hullabaloo, it’s Jessica Cruz’ skills coping with overwhelming emotions and mental illness that earn them a place in the Green Lantern history books… or, it would if her empathy weren’t so easily overwritten by a history that refuses to change. Continue reading

A Universe Made More Mysterious in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 10

By Taylor Anderson

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

Anyone who knows anything about science fiction writing knows that world-building is key to creating a good story. Without an established universe full of wonder and mystery even the best plots will fall flat. All-New Guardians of the Galaxy has been tiptoeing along this line ever since its relaunch ten issues back, but has survived based on the inherent likability of its characters. In issue 10, however, Gerry Duggan finally begins to unveil mysteries of the universe and the result is an entertaining and engrossing issue. Continue reading

Ace Reporter Lois Lane Returns in Superman 31

by Mark Mitchell

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

So much of Rebirth-ed Superman has been focused on Clark and Lois as parents. These familial dynamics are an interesting lens through which to view such storied characters, but doing so has largely left Lois cast in a passive role. The cover of Superman 31 promises fisticuffs between the Man of Steel and Deathstroke, but the issue is really all about Lois Lane, Ace Reporter, and how sweet it is to have this version of Lois back. Continue reading

A Glimpse Outside Non-Compliance in Bitch Planet Triple Feature 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Bitch Planet Triple Feature 4

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

Bitch Planet has always been about non-compliance, about women refusing to be denied their humanity in a system designed to do exactly that. For me, the real teeth of its social commentary lies in just how modest the infractions — and how strict the boundaries of compliance — are. These characters by and large are asking nothing more than to look the way the look, live the way they live, and love the way they love, and are imprisoned for having the audacity to do so. The “logic” of the fathers suggests that their lives would be so much better if they just chose to comply, though we’ve seen relatively little of what life is like for compliant citizens. Bitch Planet: Triple Feature 4 offers a hint at the larger world away from the penal system, following people who otherwise live within the strict boundaries of their world, but it sure doesn’t seem like life is any better for their compliance. Continue reading

Giving Dylan a Life Worth Fighting For in Kill Or Be Killed 12

By Drew Baumgartner

Kill or be Killed 12

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

It was clear enough that Dylan’s method for first round of killings wasn’t sustainable. We understand that in a practical sense — his sloppiness had landed him in brushes with both the Russian Mob and the NYPD, both of which seemed to be edging ever closer to figuring out who was behind these attacks — but I also mean it terms of Dylan’s psyche: the more his life was mired in guilt and paranoia, the less it seemed like he would risk so much to protect it. Or, perhaps more importantly, the less we could relate to his desire to protect it. This series regularly places Dyaln at the edge of relatability, but creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are smart to pull Dylan back a bit in this issue, renewing his lease on life before plunging him headlong into a one-man war against the Russian Mob. Continue reading

Blowing Off Mythology to Focus on Hal in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 28

by Patrick Ehlers

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

I want to start this piece with a pretty fundamental question: what is compelling about Green Lantern? It’s a tough elevator pitch, right? Part of that is because the great mythological expanse of the franchise is part of the appeal. How do you articulate the emotional spectrum with about babbling like a rabid fanboy for 20 minutes? Or how about trying to explain the always-in-flux state of the Corps, and their shifting relationship with the Guardians of the Universe? In the “Fall of the Gods” story arc, Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval are folding even more complex mythology into the dough, twisting their own narrative into a Kirby-ian pretzel. Issue 28, however, slows down just long enough to pitch the reader a different answer to the question I posed up top: Hal Jordan’s relationship to his dead father. Ingredients don’t get much more fundamental than that. Continue reading

Dinosaur Ultron Embraces Evil in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 24

by Spencer Irwin

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

Dinosaur Ultron is a terrific villain, partially because it’s just so cool to see Ultron as a dinosaur, partially because artist Erica Henderson has come up with a design for him that’s equal parts menacing and adorable and because colorist Rico Renzi mines his red glowing highlights for some particularly effective scares, and partially because Ryan North has found a genuinely funny and unique voice for him. What seems most notable to me about Dinosaur Ultron, though, is that he came upon his hatred of all organic life independently of the original Ultron’s programming; if both versions of the AI came to the same conclusion despite wildly different lives and circumstances, did they ever really have a chance to be anything different? Could he still be? Continue reading

Focus is a Strength in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 14

by Ryan Mogge

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

In real life, people who exhibit single-mindedness can be a bore. In fiction, that same behavior can work as a backdrop for more entertaining action. Erik Burnham and Sophie Campbell present two storylines in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 14, each with a woman at the center who provides the story’s drive if not its color. This is not a negative thing, Karai and Natsu both demonstrate a sense of purpose and commitment that pushes the story forward while also challenging the world around them to make room. Continue reading

Loneliness Kills in Deadpool 36

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Despite writer Gerry Duggan’s insistence on filling out the supporting cast of Deadpool over the last five years, Wade Winston Wilson is a solitary creature. He’s his own worst enemy and his own best friend. Issue 36 shows a Deadpool at the end of his rope, pushed to an unfathomable level of isolation. This is where artist Matteo Lolli truly shines, showing Deadpool as a man apart from those he once called friend and family. Continue reading