This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Ryan: Wednesday is the worst day of the week for soap operas. The storylines all build to a Friday afternoon cliffhanger, so by mid week you are still wrapping up the fallout of last week and are too early for this week’s storylines to be very juicy. Nick Spencer and Leinil Francis Yu are mid-run in Secret Empire 6, and rather than an issue with a self-contained arc that can be completed, we get bits and pieces of several arcs, with only limited links holding them together. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Ryan M are discussing Paper Girls 15, originally released June 8, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Patrick: I’ve always loved the idiom “snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.” It implies such a rough and determined win against nearly insurmountable odds. Like, think about how much courage it takes to snatch anything out of a pair of motherfucking jaws, never mind that the jaws evidently belong to the personification of “defeat.” It’s dramatic, heroic, hopeful. But it’s seldom something we see in the work of Brian K. Vaughan. Closing out the third story arc, Paper Girls 15 gives us a prime example of the exact opposite — defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Every act of bravery is punished with increasingly perplexing consequences, until the very nature of the Girls’ time travel is thrown into question.
Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor 1, originally released June 7th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Mark: I’m an enormous fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, so I was super hyped leading up to the release of last year’s Fantasic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Written by J.K. Rowling herself, Fantastic Beasts promised to be another opportunity to immerse myself in a world I love. As the film worked its way through its first act, I found myself less than entranced; why should I care about any of these characters, other than the movie telling me I should? What is anyone’s motivation? But I watched hopefully. Once the exposition was out of the way, surely things would improve, right?. But slowly, as the rest of the film unspooled, a pit of melancholy grew in my stomach. This entertainment I was really looking forward to? It’s bad, and that’s a bummer. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 28, originally released July 7th, 2017. As always, this article containersSPOILERS.
Drew: When we’re frustrated with superhero comics, we’ll sometimes blame the serialized format for robbing endings of any tension (or even mocking the very idea of “endings”) — as much as a given comic may try to convince you of the danger its hero is in, we all know they’ll be back to fight again next month. And actually, genre conventions are much more prescriptive than that, generally insisting that the villain also live to fight again (though maybe not until the hero has cycled through the rest of their rogues gallery). I added the caveat of “when we’re frustrated,” because I ultimately don’t think anyone’s assessment of a story comes down to how rote certain genre conventions are — predictable stories can be great, and unpredictable ones can be terrible — just that we might misidentify (or overemphasize) “predictability” as the reason for disliking a given story. Writer Dan Slott may be most famous for throwing those presumptions out the window, but Amazing Spider-Man 28 reveals just how adept he is at making even the most familiar genre conventions feel exciting. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing Nova 7, originally released June 7th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: Add this volume of Nova to the list of great series that died too soon. Thankfully, Jeff Loveness, Ramón Pérez, and Ian Herring clearly know how to craft a powerful ending. Nova 7 loops back around to all the themes the creative team have been laying throughout their run — responsibility, friendship, teamwork, taking risks in life — and brings them to an explosive finale. It’s not just impressive how well it works, but that it works despite the fact that half the issue is drawn by a new addition to the creative team. Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Green Arrow 24, originally released June 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: It’s a unique experience to watch a set of creators leave their mark on an established character in real time. Though Benjamin Percy works with a handful of different Rebirth artists, none compares to the chapters that are drawn by Juan E. Ferreyra. Under their direction Green Arrow is returning to the socialist hero of yore in a unique Rebirth fashion. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor. and Drew are discussing Faith 12, originally released June 7th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: Perhaps the most well-known example of game gheory is something called the “prisoner’s dilemma.” If you’re not familiar with it, it goes something like this: two thieves are caught and interrogated separately by police. The police have separated the two thieves in order to get one or both thieves to confess to the crime since they lack the evidence to do so on their own. In doing this, the police must offer the thieves a clemency in order to get them to rat out their accomplice. In game theory, it makes the most logical sense for a thief to rat out their friend as opposed to confessing to the crime or not admitting anything. This is an interesting thought problem because it questions whether people can be trusted to work in their own best interest or in the interest of the group. For Faith, this theory is no game, but it may just be the thing that saves her life.
Today, Drew and Ryan D. are discussing Kill Or Be Killed 9, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
The best-laid plans of mice and men
Often go awry
Robert Burns, To A Mouse
Drew: I use this epigraph a lot on this site. It’s an appealing quote, both because of its sentiment and its popularity (bastardized “translations” to English aside), but also because plans going wrong is such a ubiquitous source of drama. We’ve all had something fall apart in spite of our best efforts, which makes seeing it in fiction tragically relatable, even if our plans (and how they go wrong) are more banal than we might encounter in fiction. It’s probably a bit too generous to say that Dylan’s plans were ever the “best-laid,” but we still recognize the panic that comes when they go awry. This issue pushes him ever closer to completely losing control, though he manages to just barely hang on. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing The Flash 23, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: I’ve never liked Barry Allen’s “new” origin story. It’s always struck me as an attempt to make the character — a likable, yet bland presence in his Silver Age heyday — more palatable to modern audiences by loading him with unnecessary angst, angst which tends to consume and overwhelm both Barry and his title. I’d be curious to see if current Flash writer Joshua Williamson agrees with me on that front or not. Flash 23 does indeed find Barry becoming consumed by angst, but not only do Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico present a rather compelling reason for it (in the form of Eobard Thawne), they also present it as being a rather glaring flaw on Barry’s part. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Michael are discussing Captain America: Sam Wilson 22, originally released May 31st, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Patrick: Thinking about the problems the United States faces on global and federal levels is daunting as hell. We’re inundated with concerns about the stability of our global leadership, about the viability of of our political system, the longevity of healthcare and other programs put in place to protect individuals. And what can you do? Call your representatives? Donate to the ACLU? Volunteer? Run for office? They’re all drops in a bucket — important drops, but drops nonetheless. In the face of a country that rejected him, Sam Wilson is forced to come up with his own answer to this question, and in so doing, brings Cap back to the vulnerable citizens that need him. Continue reading →