Secret Weapons 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Drew Baumgartner

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

slim-banner

Patrick: Thwip! Bamf! Snikt! You know those sound effects: respectively, they mean a) Spider-Man shooting some web fluid, b) Nightcrawler teleporting away, and c) Wolverine deploying his claws. It is perhaps illustrative of the predictability of their superpowers that there are immutable sound effects that accompany them. You know exactly what it sounds like when Wolvie pops his claws, but you also know exactly what he can do with them. These powers are used in unsurprising ways to save the day, but what happens when the superheroes have powers that aren’t so easy to understand? Well, then you’ve got the residents of The Willow and the cast of Secret Weapons. Continue reading

Secrets, Surprises and Criminality in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

by Patrick Ehlers

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

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

Liars. Thieves. Con men. They’ve all got secrets. It’s no wonder that the Galaxy’s rascally Guardians, who are more criminals than they are heroes, have a whole host of surprises and secrets up their collective sleeve. Writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder keep the reader in the role of the mark, setting us up to be as surprised as everyone else in their story. It’s a little frustrating to be kept at such a distance, but it is perfectly in-line with what it must be like to know these guys. Continue reading

Everybody Wants to Go Home in Green Lanterns 25

by Patrick Ehlers

Green Lanterns 25

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

In the first 20ish issues of Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz where largely earthbound Green Lanterns. Even the appearance of Volthoom — a villain that traverses all space and time — didn’t shift writer Sam Humphries’ focus away from their home planet of Earth. Issue 25 kicks off the second consecutive arc in outer space by constantly reminding the reader how much more the characters would rather be at home. In fact, that desire to be home extends beyond our heroes, right to the villain, the aforementioned First Lantern, Volthoom. Continue reading

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

Star Wars: Darth Vader 1: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers

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

Michael: The transition from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequels was anything but seamless. By the end of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Anakin sure looks and sounds like Darth Vader but it’s clear that he’s still the irrational Hayden Christensen manchild underneath that black armor. With their new Darth Vader series, Charles Soule and Guiseppe Camuncoli hope to give us a more satisfying bridge between Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader than the prequels. Continue reading

Secret Empire 4: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

slim-banner

Patrick: The Secret Empire epic drives on an engine powered by dramatic irony. From the second Steve’s first “Hail Hydra” was uttered, the audience knew more about the threat the Marvel Universe faced better than any of its inhabitants. It is serendipitous (in the worst possible way) that the current political climate in the United States has made readers hyper-aware of this irony, as we’re able to draw obvious parallels between the rise of Hydra and the rise of white nationalism. We don’t need to parse out the rhetorical devices Steve uses to justify his abuses of power — we see them demonstrated by our president every day. Issue 4 doubles down on the practice of illustrating dramatic irony, giving the audience far more information than any of the characters are ever afforded. The result is an unsettling exercise in moral relativism. Continue reading

The Limits of Teamwork in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 22

by Patrick Ehlers

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 22

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

“Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.”

Michael Jordan

The rewards of teamwork are immeasurable. But it’s sort of amazing that any team can hold together for very long, right? A good team member is both strong and deferent to the team, qualities that would seem at odds with each other. Superheroes have a notoriously tough time working together — modern takes on both the Justice League and the Avengers barely have time to set up the relationships before knocking them down — but what about when the heroes and villains team up? In Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 22, writer Robert Venditti, artist Ethan Van Sciver and colorist Jason Wright put the teamwork between the Green and Yellow corps to test and discover how easily the cracks show. Continue reading

Fan, Creator and Hero are United by Expertise in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 17

by Patrick Ehlers

Unbelievable Gwenpool 17

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

What do Batman, his creators and his fans have in common? We’re all experts. Or at least, we all fancy ourselves experts. Comics in particular have always had this interactive component to their fandom; requiring readers to visit specialty stores, travel to cons, keep track of unwieldy pull lists. Just keeping up with Marvel comics requires a nearly insane amount of time and energy tracking character and release, and the comic fan reaches their 10,000 hours of practice with the medium early. Gwen Poole is an expert at comics — but is she an expert fan? Expert creator? Expert hero? Continue reading

Family in “Mutant,” Family in “Ninja,” Family in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 70

by Patrick Ehlers

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 70

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

Even though the title of this series may sound like four nonsense words jammed together for maximum silliness, there is a single thru-line that unites all four of them. It’s not immediately evident what that commonality is, but the final issue in the “Desperate Measures” story arc highlights how themes of “family” are relevant to both the Mutant and Ninja parts of our heroes’ lives. They are stronger when they work and fight together, naturally, but their greatest strength is their ability to prioritize that family over everything else. Continue reading

Paper Girls 15

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.

Continue reading