Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Mogge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76

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

Drew: If there’s a sci-fi equivalent to “boy meets girl…” it might reasonably be “alien race comes in peace, humans react badly.” Where it goes from there depends a great deal on what type of story is being told, but the premise of an earnestly peaceful alien race forced to defend itself against panicky earthlings is full of the kind of themes sci-fi writers love, vilifying the xenophobia and shortsightedness that hold humanity back. Indeed, the human attack on the aliens is so despicable, storytellers have to go out of their way to make the aliens seem somehow suspicious — perhaps they look scary or seem to be keeping some kind of secret from us. That is, while we may come to sympathize with the aliens, there’s often some ambiguity to their intentions. This is decidedly not the case for the Triceratons in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76, whose intentions are clear to everyone — especially the reader — from the moment they arrive on Earth. It sets them up as the unequivocal good guys, allowing Agent Bishop to really cut loose as the issue’s villain. Continue reading

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Stumbling at the Finish Line in Archie 25

by Ryan Mogge

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

While I loved Sweet Valley High books as a tween, I never put them down satisfied. The reason being that, no matter how juicy the main plot of the book was, how conniving twin Jessica got her comeuppance or “good” twin found herself back in the arms of her longtime boyfriend Todd, the last two pages would introduce a plot that was totally unrelated to provide a transition to the next book. The ending of the A and B plots of Archie 25 aren’t quite that egregious, but Mark Waid and Audrey ask the reader to switch gears from much more compelling stories. Continue reading

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call 1: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Taylor Anderson

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

Ryan M: Beginnings have a sense of weight to them. Readers expect that the moment has been chosen with care, to best set up the story that follows. When readers enters the world, they are especially sensitive to the status of the characters. This is the point where a creator can offer a lifeline in the form of a point of view character. Alternatively, we can begin in a state of flux, so that the reader naturally finds the “new normal” along with the plot. Ghostbusters: Answer the Call 1 starts the series with the main characters in a comfortable rhythm with each other and their world. By not challenging their status quo, Kelly Thompson and Corin Howell let the Ghostbusters remain entertaining but not affecting. Continue reading

Pride Goeth in Curse Words 9

by Ryan Mogge

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

Hubris is like the ultimate pair of shades. You think you look pretty fricking cool but meanwhile you are not quite seeing what’s in front of you. In Curse Words 9, both Wizord and Botchko are too self-absorbed to see the trouble looming. Charles Soule and Ryan Browne play straight with the audience, creating a layer of dramatic irony that makes the attitudes of Wizard and Botchko easier to endure.

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The Weight of Memories in Saga 47

by Ryan Mogge

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

We all experience millions of moments. Some are life-changing, some represent a larger theme in our lives, and some don’t seem to mean much of anything. If you could choose three of these moments to tell your story, it would be hard not to stick to the benchmarks: births, deaths, weddings, etc. In Saga 47, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples give us a few glimpses into The Will’s past and, by the nature of storytelling, we know that these are not random, but their selection tells a story of its own.
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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

Generations: Ms. Marvel and Ms. Marvel 1: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Ryan Mogge

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

Taylor: When I was in college, I was a man of strong convictions. I may not necessarily have acted on these convictions, like a true American, but I at least had ideals that I believed and on which I was unwilling to compromise. Now that I’m older and have experienced the real world, my convictions aren’t nearly as strong as they once were. This isn’t to say I don’t believe in them anymore, but I recognize the need to make certain sacrifices and compromises for the things I truly believe in. It’s a hard lesson, but one Kamala Khan learns when she meets a young Ms. Marvel, and one that I can appreciate now that I’m a bit older. Continue reading

Focus is a Strength in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 14

by Ryan Mogge

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

In real life, people who exhibit single-mindedness can be a bore. In fiction, that same behavior can work as a backdrop for more entertaining action. Erik Burnham and Sophie Campbell present two storylines in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 14, each with a woman at the center who provides the story’s drive if not its color. This is not a negative thing, Karai and Natsu both demonstrate a sense of purpose and commitment that pushes the story forward while also challenging the world around them to make room. Continue reading

Secret Empire: Omega 1: Discussion

By Ryan Mogge and Drew Baumgartner

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

Ryan: Every event in your memory left some sort of mark. When it comes to trauma, those marks are more like deep grooves. No matter how much you heal, or how much better off you are, you are changed by what has happened to you. In the wake of a rebellion against a group of fascists bent on world domination with the face of the most trusted man alive, you certainly can’t expect to move forward without being changed. In Secret Empire: Omega 1, Nick Spencer and Andrea Sorrentino offer a mixture of back-to-normal plot points and artful rumination that operate quite differently but still offer the same themes of trauma and the scars left behind. Continue reading

The Inevitable Feels Vital in Saga 46

by Ryan Mogge

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

The most successful plot turns are ones that feel surprising but, in retrospect, inevitable. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples end Saga 46 with Petrichor and Robot in a passionate embrace. If this had happened on page one, perhaps the reader would have been thrown, but when the dust settles, it’s clear that this is where we were heading all along. Vaughan and Staples have fully established the depths of both Petrichor and Robot’s loneliness. Even their cliched verbal sparring into macking was telegraphed by the fact that they’ve both been reading romance novels, where kissing without first trading barbs is a rarity. Continue reading