Gwenpool Trades Genre for Medium in Gwenpool 21

by Patrick Ehlers

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

This may be the first time in my life where I’m reading a superhero who is as obsessed with the gutter as I am. Since discovering that she can manipulate the physical space of the comic book page, Gwen no longer needs to rely on her knowledge of story tropes to defeat her enemies. Gwen is on something of a fan’s journey here, discovering that her real power (read: her real fandom) lies not in the genre but in the medium. Gwen’s no longer a fan of superhero stories, but a fan of of comics. Continue reading

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Looking Forward by Looking Back in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 30

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Green Lantern is a mythological big bang, constantly expanding outward into space at an alarming rate. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps writer Robert Venditti usually participates in these kind of elliptical expansions that loop back around on information or concepts that readers are already familiar with and then venturing out further into the undefined depths of space. That’s how Hal’s relationship to the New Gods of New Genesis was fleshed out, that’s how Soranik Natu temporarily re-joined the corps before betraying them and defecting with her father’s evil army. But those are whirling galaxies of mythology, and in issue 30, Venditti and artist Patrick Zircher bring that same cyclonic energy planetside.  Continue reading

Despicable Deadpool 287: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers & Taylor Anderson

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

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Patrick: There’s a principle in screenwriting called “save the cat.” That phrase refers to the act of unambiguous good a character needs to perform in order to win the audience’s sympathy. To use the idiom’s namesake as an example, as long as our hero has rescued a cat from a tree branch, any other morally dubious behavior can be forgiven. One shred of evidence that he’s a good guy is enough to trick our brains into believing that he must actually be good. This may sound like kind of a hack technique, but writers use it all the time, particularly since the rise of antiheroes. Our boy Wade Wilson gets them all the time — the audience can recoil at 95% of his actions, just so long as he protects a kid, helps and old lady, or saves a cat. Despicable Deadpool 287 throws that convention out the fucking window. This isn’t the hero Deadpool, this is the cut-throat, single-minded, merciless merc with the mouth. Continue reading

Harley and Ivy Meet Betty and Veronica 1 Only Works When It’s Simple

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Crossover comics almost always have a problem of feeling overstuffed. There are two complete casts of characters and two different worlds, all of which need to be honored in one way or another. Harley and Ivy meet Betty and Veronica 1 packs in a ton of individual character personalities, but ultimately fails to juggle them all at once. By the time we get to the climactic costume party, we’re tracking Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Kevin, Sabrina, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, to say nothing of Hiram and Smithers, who we can assume are all on-site somewhere. Artist Laura Braga does some incredible design work in this issue (so many costumes!), but continuity of space totally falls apart with so many players in a scene. This issue is at its best at its simplest, but it so seldom sticks to simplicity. Continue reading

The Other Sickness in Cannibal 8

by Patrick Ehlers

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

I think we can all agree that cannibals are bad. Right? They feast on the flesh of human beings, their survival requires murder of innocent people — that’s pretty cut and dried. But there’s a second sickness that’s infested the town of Willow, Florida, and it’s proving just as deadly. Issue 8 of Cannibal focuses on those infected with affection for a cannibal. Symptoms include: viewing some people as “garbage people,” poor judgement, and prolonged cases of severe, obvious dishonesty. Continue reading

Hawkeye 11: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson & Patrick Ehlers

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

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Taylor: If you read enough ancient ancient Greek myths you quickly realize that people have had complicated relationships with their parents since history began. Cronus was afraid his son Zeus would kill him and take over the world so he tried to eat him. Cronus failed. Zeus did indeed come to rule Mt. Olympus but not, without inheriting his father’s fear of his own children. Kate Bishop shares a similarly complicated relationship with her father, the only difference is that she doesn’t fear him so much as she fears to become him one day. This relationship is part of what defines Kate and the way she responds to it is fascinating in Hawkeye 11.

Continue reading

Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Ryan Mogge

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

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Patrick: One of the harsher truths of Secret Empire is that America was always run on an engine of hatred and fear. Racism, sexism, classism, fascism — neither Hydra Cap nor Donald Trump invented these things. They didn’t even popularize or legitimize them, they’re simply high profile embodiments thereof. It is increasingly easy to read the totality of American history as ugly and hateful, filled with crass opportunists, liars, and mass murderers. That can make the USA a hard hero to root for. With Generations Sam Wilson Captain America & Steve Rogers Captain America 1, writer Nick Spencer goes back in time, giving both Sam Wilson and his readers a lifetime to reconsider the value in fighting for what may, at times, appear to be a lost cause. Continue reading

The Infinite Loop Nothing But the Truth 1 Turns to the Opioid Crisis

by Patrick Ehlers

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

The original Infinite Loop series was pretty transparent: it was a sci-fi crusade for the rights and acceptance of LGBTQ folks. That was thinly draped in allegory: Ano wasn’t a target because she was gay, but because she was a time-travel anomaly. But the themes of tolerance and gay rights were prevalent and obvious, presented with a sci-fi veneer that was often better enjoyed than actually understood. I was trying to explain the series to our own Ryan Mogge last night, and while I had the themes and characters totally nailed down, I had a hell of a time trying to recall the plot. Nothing But The Truth firms up some of those logical conundrums while shifting its focus to another group caught in an infinite loop: those effected by the opioid crisis. Continue reading

Flipping the Revenge Narrative in Bloodshot Salvation 1

by Patrick Ehlers

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

What would it take for Bloodshot to settle down? Easy answer, right? Wife and kids. Classic motivators for a cowboy to hang up his boots. We’ve all read enough genre fiction to know what happens next: the quiet of the Bloodshot/Magic Jessie household is violently shattered, sending the hero on a revenge rampage. Hold the phone — writer Jeff Lemire is flipping that trope on his head, instead killing off Bloodshot and making Magic and her daughter the heroes of our story. Continue reading

A Revealing Interruption in Batman 31

by Patrick Ehlers

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

There’s that part in The Princess Bride where the narrator announces the King died in the night and Buttercup was married to Prince Humperdink the next day. It’s a jarring bit of information, totally incongruous with the story we’ve come to expect, but the more impressive feat of storytelling is Fred Savage’s interruption a few seconds later. Savage’s character cuts in on Humperdink’s “My father’s final words were…” with an impetuous “hold it, hold it!” The effect his immediate: the audience is reminded why we’re watching this story in the first place. “Trust me,” the film implies “even if you’re momentarily upset, you’re going to have fun in the end.” Tom King and Mikel Janín’s Batman 31 pulls off a similar interruption, emphasizing the riddle (or is it the joke?) at the heart of this story arc: why is Bruce telling Selina about the War of Jokes and Riddles? Continue reading