Silver Sufer 12: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Silver Surfer 12

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

Drew: To say that Dan Slott, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred delight in the formal aspects of comics would be a profound understatement. The most indicative example must be issue 11 of the previous volume, which featured a kind of Möbius strip that readers had to consciously break out of. It’s the kind of innovation that might feel gimmicky to the passerby, but on closer inspection is so closely tied to the content of the story, it’s almost impossible to imagine it being handled any other way. In that case, Norrin and Dawn were stuck in a time loop, so the closed loop of the layout was essential to making that point literal. This issue finds Dawn stuck in time in a very different way, and the creative team manages to find a different technique to capture her stasis. Continue reading

The Non-Quixotic Quest in The Old Guard 5

by Drew Baumgartner

The Old Guard 5

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

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

Joe Darion, “The Impossible Dream”

Is Andy the anti-Don Quixote? Her world-weary cynicism is certainly the opposite of his delusions of chivalry; her bitter pragmatism the opposite of his flights of fancy. But the thing that strikes me most is that Andy is the unbeatable foe, the kind of mythical being Quixote could only dream of. Of course, this gives them different priorities — while he’s focused on those imaginary beings, she’s utterly undaunted by the mortal tilting at her. Sure, the mortal can get in a few good licks, but is more of an annoyance than a nemesis. Indeed, it turns out the only thing worthy of an unbeatable foe’s attention is another unbeatable foe. Continue reading

There’s No Virtue in Compliance in Bitch Planet Triple Feature 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Bitch Planet Triple Feature 1

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

It is more important that innocence should be protected, than it is, that guilt be punished; for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world, that all of them cannot be punished…. when innocence itself, is brought to the bar and condemned, especially to die, the subject will exclaim, ‘it is immaterial to me whether I behave well or ill, for virtue itself is no security.’ And if such a sentiment as this were to take hold in the mind of the subject that would be the end of all security whatsoever.

John Adams

There are always folks who will defend punishment for the guilty — whether it’s prison, public shaming, or being shot by a cop — but that often necessitates retroactively framing those who receive punishment as guilty. In the wakes of countless police (and neighborhood watchmen) shootings, the offenses that have been deemed worthy of death have ranged from stealing a pack of cigarettes to wearing a goddamned hoodie. It’s an absolutely despicable line of reasoning (even when it’s “I agree they didn’t deserve to die, but…”), but it falls completely on its face in the case of Philando Castile, who was inarguably guilty of no crime whatsoever. This is exactly the situation Adams was warning against. There is no virtue in innocence or — in the parlance of Bitch Planet — compliance, so why follow the rules at all? Continue reading

Subjective Martyrdom in All-New Wolverine 21

by Drew Baumgartner

All-New Wolverine 21

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

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:3

While I’ve often marveled at the depth of Tom Taylor’s allusions on All-New Wolverine, it doesn’t exactly take a biblical scholar to catch the parallels to Jesus in this issue. Laura practices peace, heals the sick, and ultimately dies (maybe), but it’s that middle point that Taylor really sinks his teeth into, detailing not only the pitiful masses in need of help, but the suffering Laura endures in order to cure them. She’s Jesus, just without the religious conviction (I opted not to open this essay with Luke’s account, which finds Jesus getting downright snippy when recently-cured lepers fail to praise God to his satisfaction). Continue reading

Remixing Jack Kirby in Bug! The Adventures of Forager 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Bug! The Adventures of Forager 2

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

How do we characterize a remix? As a self-aware riff on whatever work is being remixed, it feels somewhat postmodern, but in my mind, remixes don’t necessarily share the skepticism and ironic distance we associate with postmodernism. Indeed, many remixes might be better understood as reverent tributes to their source material, taking what I’d argue is a decidedly romantic approach: offering an unabridged window into how the remixer sees a given work of art (or entire oeuvre). I was first struck by this idea when listening to The Beatles’ Love, which feels very much like bouncing around inside a Beatles fan’s head, but it came back in a big way as I read Bug! The Adventures of Forager 2, an issue that takes the same approach to comics mythology (both DC’s and others). Continue reading

Green Valley 9: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner & Michael DeLaney

Green Valley 9

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

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Drew: The first time travel story I remember experiencing is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. Its time-travel mechanic was as logical as it needed to be to satisfy six-year-old me, but it left me with some weird assumptions about how time worked. Specifically, the way the movie intercuts between its present-day and feudal Japan scenes convinced me that the past is playing out in parallel with the present. That is, even though time travel is possible, if I travel to the past, wait five minutes, then return to the present, I can only arrive five minutes after I left. It makes no logical sense, but continues to be a popular feature of time travel stories in order to allow them to follow separate storylines in separate time periods simultaneously. Indeed, it’s a technique employed judiciously in Green Valley 9, as Max Landis and Giuseppe Camuncoli delight in touching upon just about every time travel trope as they draw the series to a close. Continue reading

Perspective and Power in Ms. Marvel 19

by Drew Baumgartner

Ms. Marvel 19

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

Plenty of comics have come out over the past year or so commenting on the rise of Trumpism, but few are as equipped to position their protagonists as the target of growing racial and religious resentment as Ms. Marvel. Helmed by writer G. Willow Wilson and editor Sana Amanat, this series has never been afraid to tackle the issues that face muslims in America — particularly young women — but this issue places islamophobia front and center as the “Keepers of Integration, Normalization, and Deference” disrupt Eid al-Adha, the holiest of Muslim holidays. Artist Marco Falla makes that disruption literal, as the “K.I.N.D.” men obstruct Kamala and Gabe’s path. Continue reading

The Amazing Spider-Man 28

Alternating Currents: Amazing Spider-Man 28, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man 28, originally released July 7th, 2017. As always, this article containers SPOILERS.

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

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 6/7/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Cannibal 6, Extremity 4, Injection 13, and Outcast 28. Also, we discussed Faith 12 on Thursday and will be discussing Star Wars: Darth Vader 1 and Paper Girls 15 on Tuesday, so check back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading

Marvel Round-Up: Comics Released 6/7/17

We try to stay up on what’s going on at Marvel, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of Marvel Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 3, Black Bolt 2, Daredevil 21, Doctor Strange 20, Hawkeye 7, Rocket 2 and Unstoppable Wasp 6. Also, we will be discussing Nova 7 on Monday and Amazing Spider-Man 28 on Wednesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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