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

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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

Archie 23: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Mogge

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

Spencer: One of the few consistencies throughout all iterations of Archie is that Archie Andrews, as a character, catches a lot of flak, not just from his friends, but from readers and viewers especially. Whether it’s his inability to choose between Betty and Veronica in classic stories or his almost complete cluelessnes/uselessness in Riverdale, there’s a lot to rag on the poor kid about. Why does he continue to endure and work as a lead character, then? Mark Waid and Audrey Mok pinpoint the reason in Archie 23: whatever his faults, Archie loves his friends with all his heart. Continue reading

Wondering about the Burning Axe in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dimension X 3

by Ryan Mogge

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

Sometimes a log line is better than a story because it’s pure potential and isn’t weighed down by the details of execution. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Dimension X 3, the boys visit a professional wrestling planet. It’s not as great as whatever your brain just conjured. Continue reading

Secret Empire 8: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Ryan Mogge

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

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Spencer: I’m writing this piece in the aftermath of one of the more horrific weekends in recent memory (Charlottesville), which arrives at the tail-end of one of the most horrific ten months or so of my lifetime. I don’t exactly feel an overabundance of hope right now, a sentiment shared by those trapped in Trump’s America and in the Hydra-Controlled America of the Marvel Universe alike. In Secret Empire 8, Nick Spencer, Daniel Acuna, Rod Reis, Sean Izaaske and Java Tartaglia finally bring the light of hope to their story, but I don’t know how well their methods translate to real life. Continue reading

Discussion and Respect at the Center of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 23

by Ryan Mogge

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

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 23 ends with Doreen in the clutches of a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the most important plot points involve discussion. It’s not quite My Dinner with Andre. We also get an explanation of the problem in the Savage Lands, a couple of montages, and the aforementioned robot T-Rex. Even so, the most important moments happen as Nancy talks it out with Stefan and then talks out that conversation with Doreen. Ryan North and Erica Henderson elevate these conversations by applying real caring between the characters and creating visual interest during these conversations. Continue reading

Challenges Posed by Starting in the Middle in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 72

by Ryan Mogge

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

When a story opens in media res, it’s a promise in two parts. First, the audience is given a glimpse at the excitement of the climax, a bit of a tease for when is it to come. The second and more tricky element is that by opening up at that point and then going back, the writer is telling us that the story of how they got there is somehow as interesting as what is to come. Often, there is a heavy layer of dramatic irony on the proceedings (preceedings?), characters laying out boundaries that we know they will cross, assurances of “what could go wrong?” when we have the exact answer, etc. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 72, the “Before.” section is more of a recap and road map, making it feel superfluous.
Continue reading

Wonder Woman 27: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Mogge

Wonder Woman 27

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

Drew: I think it’s safe to say our society is obsessed with patrilineage. Our last names (generally) come from our fathers. We have sayings about the sins of the father. And daddy issues abound in modern storytelling. This holds very true for superhero comics, where characters like Batman and Superman only survived their initial tragedies thanks to the heroic efforts of their fathers (at least in some versions). But Wonder Woman has always been different in that regard. As an Amazon born of clay, she has no father, nor a father-like figure in her life — this is a character poised to emphasize the roles of mothers. With issue 27, Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo do just that, albeit in unexpected ways. Continue reading

Secret Empire 6: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge and Michael DeLaney

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

Ryan: Wednesday is the worst day of the week for soap operas. The storylines all build to a Friday afternoon cliffhanger, so by mid week you are still wrapping up the fallout of last week and are too early for this week’s storylines to be very juicy. Nick Spencer and Leinil Francis Yu are mid-run in Secret Empire 6, and rather than an issue with a self-contained arc that can be completed, we get bits and pieces of several arcs, with only limited links holding them together. Continue reading