Amazing Spider-Man 801: Discussion

By Spencer Irwin and Patrick Ehlers

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

Spencer: Dan Slott has written more issues of The Amazing Spider-Man than any other creator ever. That’s not something one achieves if they merely “like” a character — Slott clearly loves Spider-Man in a way even the most die-hard of fans can only dream of. Writing his adventures has certainly changed Slott’s world for the better, and that’s a sentiment he expresses beautifully in The Amazing Spider-Man 801, his final issue on the title. It’s a love letter to the power of Spider-Man told in the only way that kind of story really can be told — through the perspective of a fan. Continue reading

Moonshine 11: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

Patrick: Hey, how fast is a comic? I’ve read twenty-page comics that take me over half an hour to get through, and there are some issues I can breeze through in less than 10 minutes. Some comics take place over the course of 60 in-universe seconds, while others stretch on to tell stories that take entire lifetimes. So the answer to my question is: variable. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s Moonshine 11 masterfully commands pacing to create breathless swings between compression, tension and release. Continue reading

Rage is Ugly in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 23

by Patrick Ehlers

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 23

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

I think we all need a little mental health check in. How are you doing? At the time I sit down to analyze Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 23, the only news I can catch on my social media feeds are the infuriating reports of migrant children separated from their technically-criminal parents. This is an unspeakably cruel policy, enacted by opportunistic monsters, and enforced by a criminally unrestrained agency. It makes me mad to the point of being physically sick. And powerless. Ryan Ferrier and Pablo Tunica’s “…And Out Came the Reptiles” story from TMNTU 23 perfectly captures this sickening feeling of desperation, inflicting the ugliness of Mondo Gecko’s impotent rage on the whole issue. Continue reading

Thor 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

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

Taylor: When I’m teaching my students about tone and mood in class, my go-to lesson involves a Marry Poppins trailer. First I show them the original trailer for the movie and then I show them a trailer that Christopher Rule cut together, which makes the classic film look like a horror movie. It’s a great way of showing the kids that the same content can have a drastically different tone and mood based on how the artist presents the story. I was thinking of this as I read Thor 1, because the issue shares the same characters, settings, and even the same writer as the Mighty Thor, but it feels drastically different. It’s a textbook example of how a skilled writer can shift the tone of a story, and in this case, that shift is a refreshing change of direction for the Thor series. Continue reading

Malice in Civility in Mister Miracle 9

By Patrick Ehlers

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

War is hell. It is economically, physically, and psychologically catastrophic for both those waging war and anyone unfortunate enough to be in war’s orbit. But ending a war? Ending a war requires one of two things: one side to be completely destroyed, or an agreement to be reached between the warring parties. Most wars end the second way. Which is borderline unfathomable, right? Imagine sitting down to negotiate with someone who has been systematically, enthusiastically, killing your friends and family every day for months or years. Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle 9 wrestles with the dissonance of trying to make peace out of war. Continue reading

The Fix 12 is a Perfect Revenge Fantasy Parody

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“When I woke up, I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as a roaring rampage of revenge. I roared. I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction.”

The Bride, Kill Bill

I tend to struggle with revenge fantasies. The objective of the protagonist is too prescribed for me, as though the sentiment “I want the people who made me suffer to feel what I feel” is a universal impulse. That is, of course, part of the genius of Kill Bill: the revenge fantasy is challenged the second Beatrix Kiddo sees the life she’s sworn to ruin. It’s a twist on the formula, just like Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber’s The Fix 12. The motivation remains the same, but our hero’s efficacy is the variable. Roy’s complete inability to get revenge for Mac’s death makes this issue a borderline genre spoof, and it’s just so perfect. Continue reading

Indifference is the Enemy in Analog 3

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“Oona can handle herself…”

Analog 3

We find ourselves in a wholly irrational place in history — a swing away from progressive ideals. Regressive. Part of what makes this era so fucked up is that we believed ourselves to be beyond history. The concept of the “end of history” is contingent on society having reached a perfect state of civility. There would be no war, no famine, no racism, no inequality, no income disparity if only we reached this civil equilibrium. Here’s the problem: we never got close to perfection before white America declared that we were living in a post-racial world. And why would they? We are Americans and we are exceptional! We saved the world from the most obvious evil history has ever seen, and everything since 1945 has been a victory lap. Essentially, the belief has been that the system would find justice, or that society can “handle itself.” Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan’s Analog 3 explores the dangers of expecting a situation to fix itself. Continue reading

Good vs. Evil in Astonishing X-Men 12

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“Good vs Evil” implies that there are two sides — two warring factions — battling for the fate of the world. It’s a compelling image: a battlefield with good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. Good and evil are separate forces, and in our imaginations, represented by two different groups of people. While Charles Soule and Gerardo Sandoval’s Astonishing X-Men 12 still gives the reader avatars of light and darkness in the forms of X and The Night King, the armies fighting for each side are made up of all the same players. Old Man Logan is both a reformed ally-murderer and an irredeemable death machine; good and evil waging war within one mind. Continue reading

Compassion vs. Accountability in Green Lanterns 48

by Patrick Ehlers

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

One of my coworkers was really upset about Kanye West a couple weeks ago. No shit, right? Her problem wasn’t that West was tweeting racist things about slavery probably being a choice, or even his support of Trump (who she also loathes), but that the entire would was holding a mentally ill man on a psychotic break accountable for his actions. Her argument goes that someone in West’s condition isn’t being themselves — they are literally being their illness. I began to stammer back with some feeble counterargument, something about the illness being made manifest by that person, so while we can practice compassion, we do still have to hold them accountable. “So you think he… put his own spin on mental illness?” she exhaled back at me. Shit. No. What the hell point was I trying to make? All I can really say is that I want anyone who does something wrong to face consequences, but is a mentally ill person really the one “doing” it? We are bad at talking about, dealing with, and even understanding mental illness. Aaron Gillespie and Ronan Cliquet’s Green Lanterns 48 takes our capacity for compassion and places it squarely against law and order. Continue reading

Star Wars 49: Discussion

By Patrick Ehlers and Taylor Anderson

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

Patrick: If there’s one part of the Star Wars formula I’ve had the hardest time connecting to on a personal level, it’d have to be the huge battles between spaceships.  Don’t get me wrong: I think the ships look cool, and the Millennium Falcon is so near and dear to my heart that I almost cried during its reveal in The Force Awakens. But there’s something about two factions of cold, gray, lifeless ships zipping through space and shooting blasters at each other that feels remarkably impersonal. With Star Wars 49, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca set out to stage the mother of all space battles at the birth of the Rebel Armada. By linking the ships to the characters, the creators create a sense of emotional continuity that makes this one of the best space ship battles I’ve ever seen. Continue reading