Secrets Don’t Stay Secret for Long in Dead Hand 3

By Spencer Irwin

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

Secrets rarely stay secret for long, but this is especially true when kids are involved. Younger children will repeat anything and everything to anybody, while older children and teenagers tend to be naturals at sniffing out lies and seeing through bullshit. What this means for the cast of Kyle Higgins and Stephen Mooney’s Dead Hand is that the secret of Mountain View is coming closer and closer to being revealed — unfortunately for them, the loss of that secret could very well mean the end of the world in a fiery nuclear holocaust.  Continue reading

Plastic Man 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Michael DeLaney 

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

Spencer: The first JLA comic I ever read was an issue from Joe Kelly’s early 2000s run. The story found Martian Manhunter corrupted and turned against a hopelessly outmatched League. The only hero who could stand up to him was, surprisingly, Plastic Man, whose shapeshifting skills were on par with J’onn’s and whose elastic brain resisted his telepathy entirely. Plastic Man was also an interesting contrast to the rest of the uber-serious League, a walking visual gag who cracked wise even as he fought the most powerful being on Earth one-on-one. That issue impressed on me the value of Plastic Man and the unique charm he adds to the DC universe. Gail Simone and Adriana Melo clearly understand the character’s appeal, and it’s ultimately Plastic Man’s charisma that carries Plastic Man 1 in its shakier moments. Continue reading

A Reveal as a Punchline in Batman 48

by Spencer Irwin

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

slim-banner

Last time Tom King and Mikel Janin put out a Joker story — in “The War of Jokes and Riddles” — the Clown Prince of Crime wasn’t exactly himself. Batman 48, then, gives King and Janin a chance to show their take on a more platonic form of the Joker. He’s probably more manic and scrambled than usual, but just as devious, cunning, and ruthless as ever. Most importantly, though, this Joker is wickedly funny. Batman 48 is jam-packed with black humor and perfectly constructed (albeit remarkably morbid) jokes. In fact, the entire issue can be viewed as one long set-up to a perfect punchline. Continue reading

Paper Girls 21: Discussion

by Ryan Mogge & Spencer Irwin

Paper Girls 21

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

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Ryan M: One of the best things about living in 2018 is the decentralization of knowledge. With the internet, you are a few queries away from knowing just about anything. There are, of course, the downsides, like I now have the power to use WedMD to diagnose myself with chronic illnesses or see evidence of the good time my friends were having last night while I watched 100% Hotter and diagnosed myself with chronic illnesses. Despite those minor dangers, though, there is so much to appreciate about how much we can know in moments. The titular Paper Girls come from a world where news and information travels manually, literally carried to your door in a finite form. Throughout the series, they have been at an information disadvantage, constantly trying to play catch up to understand what’s happening. For the first time, in Paper Girls 21, the advancements of the future may be a savior. Continue reading

Compassion is the Greatest Weapon of All in X-Men Red 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

A few weeks ago in X-Men Red Annual 1, Jean Grey met a bigoted anti-mutant protester and showed him kindness and compassion, relating to the turmoil and abuse he dealt with in his home life and continuing to worry about him long after their meeting had come to an end. Compassion continues to be Jean’s weapon of choice in Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s X-Men Red 5, and it’s a weapon she’s more than capable of deploying against an entire army. Continue reading

A Head-Scratching Flashback in Captain America 703

by Spencer Irwin

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

It’s a generally understood rule of storytelling that any detail included in a story should be there for a reason — extraneous plots, characters, or ideas can be distracting at best, or derail the entire story at worst. This rule goes double for flashbacks, which are so often useful, even essential storytelling tools that, nonetheless, stick out like a sore thumb when used without purpose. This is unfortunately the case in Captain America 703, an otherwise enjoyable issue that’s dragged down by an almost inexplicable flashback. Continue reading

The Power of a Clear Trajectory in Descender 30

by Spencer Irwin

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

Descender has a sense of trajectory unlike any other series I’ve ever read. From the very first issue, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have made their young protagonist, Tim-21, the focal point of the entire series — he’s not just the star, but he’s like the horizon point in a drawing, that one spot in the galaxy that all other figures are drawn to. Even as more and more characters have been introduced into Descender‘s world, all their various agendas have continued to lead straight to Tim-21. In Descender 30, Lemire and Nguyen continue to bring more and more factions drawing inevitably closer to Tim-21, all while upping the stakes — if Tim is captured, it’s not just his life that’s in danger, but the safety of the entire universe! Continue reading

Finding Strength in Others in The Amazing Spider-Man 800

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spider-Man has one of the most iconic, expansive, and enduring supporting casts in all of superhero comics, and that’s a fact Dan Slott has used to his advantage throughout his long tenure on The Amazing Spider-Man. He especially leans on his supporting cast in issue 800, the penultimate issue of his run and the grand finale of “Go Down Swinging.” It’s an issue all about the power of the people in Peter Parker’s life, be it the power he gives them, or the power they give him. Continue reading

Being The Hero, and Being the Sidekick in Lockjaw 4

By Spencer Irwin

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

Lockjaw is a pet, Black Bolt’s (and sometimes Ms. Marvel’s) faithful companion, so often a sidekick in their adventures. Daniel Kibblesmith and Carlos Villa’s Lockjaw miniseries has provided a chance for the teleporting canine to step into the spotlight and become the hero of his own story, a fact that takes center stage in the series finale. Continue reading

Justice League: No Justice 4: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Justice League No Justice 4

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

Everything changes here!

Comics solicit, traditional

Drew: Okay, that epigraph is maybe too cute by half, but seriously, what does it mean for “everything” to change? The closest parallel I can draw to real life is the conventional wisdom that “a baby changes everything,” but even then, we understand “everything” to be decidedly limited in its scope. Certain events might be life-changing, but only for those with some connection to said events. And yet: comics. Big crossover events are promoted with the promise that the events with change “everything,” and while we might understand “everything” to be limited to the folks involved (in the same way that it is for a birth), there’s also tons of details we might assume exempt from “everything,” from the laws of physics to the peculiarities of english grammar — some things never change. Even so: some comics events are bigger than others, so there’s a range of just what “everything” means. Maybe it’s interpersonal dynamics of the superheroes involved, maybe it’s the principles of the universe as we know it. In its finale, Justice League: No Justice reveals that it falls almost entirely into that latter category, sending the DC Universe into decidedly uncharted territory. Continue reading