Black Panther 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Michael DeLaney

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

Taylor: The other day I was in a tabletop game store and played a great game called “Clank!” It was so fun that I ended up buying it, but not before having to choose between the original version, set in a typical fantasy setting, and another version set in space. I went with the original because it suits the game better, but it reminded me that I’m a sucker for anything re-imagined in space. That being said, I was super excited to learn about a new Black Panther series set in outer-space and am delighted to say that after reading the first issue, it doesn’t disappoint. Continue reading

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Secret Identities are a Weakness in Incognegro Rennaisance 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Incognegro Renaissance 4

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

Dark secrets are the number one motivator in noir, whether they’re motivating criminals (or witnesses) to hide the truth, or motivating detectives to uncover it. Indeed, the world of a noir story often feels like everybody has a deep dark secret they’re hiding from the world, leaving the detective with nobody to trust. It’s a great way to goose the tension of an investigation, but it can also feel a bit over-the-top, as though the secrets are there specifically to complicate the narrative. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen a suspect be evasive about their alibi because they were with a mistress or something, but more than enough to spot it a mile away. Which makes the secrets in Incognegro Renaissance 4 a refreshing change of pace. Here, the secrets aren’t reduced to some underhanded act the characters want to hide, but are tied up in their very identities. The result is a much more interesting and nuanced vision of secret lives that draws on the realities of 1920s Harlem, as opposed to the fantasies of noir’s criminal world. Continue reading

Trust Saves the Day in Super Sons 16

by Spencer Irwin

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

This month’s issue 16 marks the end of Super Sons (for now — a continuation is already solicited), so it only makes sense that writer Peter Tomasi, along with artists Carlo Barberi and Brent Peeples, would want to close on a milestone victory for Superboy and Robin. More important than the actual victory, though, is how they achieve it — partially by channeling their parents, but mostly by trusting in each other. Continue reading

Breaking the Loop in Batgirl 23

By Drew Baumgartner

Batgirl 23

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

We all have patterns. We run through them again and again until, one day, we finally see ourselves clearly and choose a different path.

Barbara Gordon, Batgirl

Let’s hear it for the quarter-life crisis. We tend to hear more about the mid-life crisis as either a pitiful or destructive force (usually middle aged men blowing money on a sports car or torpedoing their family life for a young girlfriend), but I think the quarter-life crisis is almost the opposite. As society extends adolescence well beyond the teenage years, and careers now take longer to kickstart than they did in generations past, the “what am I doing with my life?” urgency that kicks in around 25 can add some guiding structure. Maybe I’m biased in that way — my own quarter-life crises forced me to identify concrete goals that eventually sent me back to school — but I think a lot of us fall into a rut in our early 20s that we only later get the perspective to shake us out of. Maybe it’s a dead-end job, or an unfulfilling relationship, or a crummy apartment, or bad eating habits. For Barbara Gordon, that rut is a literal mind loop, preventing her from moving forward with her life. Continue reading

Ambiguity and Closure in Doctor Strange 390

by Patrick Ehlers

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

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I had a writing teacher in college that used to say there were four kinds of stories. The first is the most common: the hero wants something, gets it, and his happy he got it. We see this one in superhero media all the time, right? Batman wants to catch the Riddler, he does, feels great about it. The second type of story is the hero wants something, gets it, is unhappy he got it. This is the old Twilight Zone twist — “I can live for ever, BUT AT WHAT COST?”). The last two kinds of stories are similar: hero wants something, doesn’t get it, is happy to have not gotten it, and; hero wants something, doesn’t get it, is unhappy to have not gotten it. Doctor Strange 390 manages to be a weird mix of all these types of stories, where even the question of who our hero is leads to some fascinating ambiguity. Donny Cates’ send-off to Doctor Strange is as mysterious, and true to the tone of the character, as a reader could possibly home for. Continue reading

X-Men Red 4 Battles Real-World Threats

by Drew Baumgartner

X-Men Red 4

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

Comics have always reflected our real-world fears — from inner-city crime or nuclear panic — by heightening them to exaggerated extremes. Except, I’d argue, when it comes to the X-Men’s persecution. Sure, the X-Men’s superpowers would qualify as an “exaggerated extreme” of the types of differences that normally mark a minority class, but it’s straight-up not possible for writers to come up with more exaggerated ways societies persecute their minorities. From apartheid to lynchings to genocides, there’s nothing the X-Men have faced that real-world minorities haven’t already suffered, grounding even their most fanciful stories in sober reality. It’s a fact that Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar have leaned into from the start of X-Men Red, lending the series a “ripped from the headlines” approach that is truly unique in superhero comics. Continue reading

Donatello’s Peace in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 22

By Taylor Anderson

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

It’s always easy to say that peace is worth fighting for when we’re talking about cessation of hostilities between two groups of people. It’s not quite as easy to say that peace is worth fighting for when the type of peace being discussed is the inner kind. While the idea of inner-peace is always talked about with a special reverence, it’s uncommon to find it placed at the forefront of importance. That means a lot of inner turmoil for a lot of people, but what if both inner and outer peace could be achieved at the same time? If that sounds difficult, it is — just ask Donatello in TMNT Universe 22. Continue reading

X-Men: The Wedding Special 1

by Spencer Irwin

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

What’s a Wedding Special without a wedding? It’s X-Men: The Wedding Special 1, I suppose. I’ll try not to hold the fact that this isn’t actually Kitty and Colossus’ wedding against this issue — chalk it up to a failure of expectations and research on my behalf, although I’ll still argue that it’s a misleading title. If anything, the real problem with this special isn’t the lack of a wedding, but the fact that much of what we get instead feels insubstantial and, at times, even generic. Continue reading

Mind Wipes and Missteps in Infinity Countdown: Daredevil 1

by Michael DeLaney

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

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Infinity Countdown is well under way which means…time for some tie-ins! Written by the Infinity Countdown helmer Gerry Duggan, Infinity Countdown: Daredevil 1 focuses on the current owner of the Mind Gem: Daredevil “villain” Turk Barrett. Many readers scratched their heads when it was revealed that low-level criminal Turk was in possession of an Infinity Stone. While Duggan highlights why Daredevil is a good pairing for the Mind Gem, the issue lacks consequence. Continue reading

Breaking the Cycle in The Wicked + The Divine 36

by Spencer Irwin

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

It’s happening now. It’s happening again.

The Wicked + The Divine

Endless cycles are a motif that runs deep throughout The Wicked + The Divine, from the unending dysfunction and madness of the Pantheon, to the circle that makes up their logo and meeting table, to the very nature of their perpetual rise and fall, a neverending cycle of death and rebirth. In fact — if anything she’s said can ever be believed — one of Ananke’s greatest fears seemed to be the idea that this cycle could somehow be broken.

These are both ideas that Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, and Clayton Cowles dig into in The Wicked + The Divine 36, an issue that spends a shocking amount of space detailing yet another endless cycle, and the rest of the issue breaking an entirely different one. Continue reading