Thor 6 is a Mirror for Our Own Societal Flaws

by Michael DeLaney

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

slim-banner

In the six issues of Jason Aaron’s latest Thor relaunch, the veteran writer has the most fun with an arc set in the far future at “the end of time.” While it’s certainly been a trip to see Marvel staples like Wolverine and Dr. Doom juiced up with powers of other heroes, I was most affected by the commentary at work – both from environmentalist and societal perspectives.

The first notable instance of this is during the interlude where “The Worm” (Loki) is tormenting Ego the Living Planet to get what he wants.

The idea of a planet tearing itself apart to rid itself of a tiny worm is an effective and relatable image – who among us hasn’t been driven into a frenzy trying to swat one measly fly? While we have been in Ego’s position, more often it seems that we are the worm – exploiting the Earth for our own personal gain at the expense of the planet itself.

Eventually Loki’s “whispers” drive Ego mad, leaving him broken and defeated. He gives in and tells Loki that he can take whatever he wants from him. Without laying the metaphor on too thick, this really feels like a metaphor for taming the Earth by beating it into submission and sucking all of the life out of it for our benefit.

The main hook of the story however focuses on All-Father Thor and a Phoenix-possessed Wolverine battling Dr. Doom – who has been imbued with the powers of Iron Fist, Starbrand, Doctor Strange and Ghost Rider. With a far-out premise like that, artist Christian Ward does not fail to deliver.

Ward’s colors are powerful and electric. The orange red flames match the cosmic powers that are battling, worthy of The Phoenix itself. There is a powerful contrast on display during the battle, with verdant green landscape of New Midgard juxtaposed with the volcanic showdown at the Earth’s core.

Again I find myself returning to the commentary angle. Doom and Thor are battling for generations – 99 years to be specific. In that time the people of New Midgard move on and become used to the violence and destruction that their battle creates.

They have become apathetic to their circumstance, similar to how we are with many things climate change and otherwise. It is easy to become complacent, but unlike the residents of New Migard, we don’t have an All-Father to save us from our apathy.

slim-banner

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

Batman 57 Pushes Through the Looking-Glass

by Drew Baumgartner

Batman 57

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

slim-banner

In his write-up of Batman 55, our very own Spencer Irwin highlighted the formal differences between the sequences featuring Dick Grayson and those featuring the mysterious “Mr. Zimmerman.” The Dick Grayson layouts are freewheeling and unpredictable, while “The Zimmerman sequences are highly regimented, each and every one depicted as nine-panel grids. This seems to represent how cold and calculated Zimmerman is and how mercenary and transnational his life is, but also how isolated he’s become.” Issue 56 drove that point home further, doubling down on the formal differences between the two stories (even after Dick Grayson stopped appearing). So by the time we read Batman 57 we’re pretty well conditioned to the notion that nine-panel grids = the KGBeast’s story, while anything else = Batman’s. It’s an expectation Tom King and his collaborators upend brilliantly, forcing us to question those conclusions we drew about these formal choices way back at the start of this arc. Continue reading

Shuri 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney

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

Spencer: The character of Shuri is currently riding a wave of popularity, one that can be traced back to February’s Black Panther film, and one which leads right up to this very comic, the first issue of Shuri’s first ongoing series. Despite being the breakout character in a movie full of breakout characters, though, Shuri has existed in the comics for close to fifteen years now, and has built up a history quite different from her MCU counterpart. How do you reconcile those disparate takes on the character? If you’re Shuri writer Nnedi Okorafor, you don’t; you confront each version of Shuri head-on, and make her (and others) do the same. Shuri’s journey to figure out who exactly she is and what exactly she wants becomes the central conflict of Shuri 1. Continue reading

Lucifer 1: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Lucifer 1

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

…its attempts at rising are hopeless. As all attempts are.

Lucifer, Lucifer 1

Drew: When I spoke with Lucifer writer Dan Watters about the teaser pages for this series that appeared in Sandman Universe 1, he was unequivocal about the symbolic meaning of the death of a character named Hope:

I’ve made it quite clear, at least I tried to, that this is going to be a dark book. This is the darkest corner of the Sandman Universe — at least that’s being explored right now. Which, you know, by the nature of the character, by the book, I think it should be. It’s definitely a statement of intent.

And the book is definitely dark. Lucifer‘s assertion that all “attempts at rising are hopeless” comes on the first page, before the issue plunges us into the present day of a status quo Lucifer clearly wishes to rise out of. A character learning to embrace hope would normally be an upbeat moral, but it takes on a twisted meaning here — whatever it is that could force Lucifer into retreat must be truly harrowing. And this is the story of what that experience was. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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