Pain as a Prescription in Catwoman 2

by Spencer Irwin

Catwoman 2

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

Catwoman 2 continues the series’ fascination with the qualities that tie Selina Kyle and her nemesis, Raina Creel, together, even when the way they express those shared qualities couldn’t be more different. While last month’s premiere focused on the two women’s contrasting takes on fashion and identity, issue two zeroes in on the idea of pain, specifically on treating pain like a tool, a solution, even a prescription. Continue reading

An Opaque Reflection of Anakin in Darth Vader 19

by Spencer Irwin

Darth Vader 19

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

I could easily spend hours listing qualities that make Darth Vader one of media’s most terrifying villains, but one of the most prominent is simply how inscrutable he is. His mask and his voice give away almost nothing about his emotions, his goals, or his thought process, rendering him cold and unknowable — and nothing’s scarier than that. Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli have made excellent use of this attribute in their run on Darth Vader, and issue 19 is no exception. Despite offering up a mirror, an echo of Vader’s former life, in the form of exiled Jedi Eeth Koth, the Sith Lord remains as fascinatingly opaque as ever. Continue reading

The Complexities of Internet Social Justice in Green Arrow 43

by Spencer Irwin

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

Spencer: The internet can be a powerful tool for justice, often simply because it allows information to get to more people than ever before, faster than ever before. It allows the voices of the oppressed and downtrodden to be heard, and I think the #metoo movement may be the greatest sign of this: great things have been accomplished, impossible targets have been taken down, thanks to the platform for social justice the internet provided.

Like any tool, though, the internet’s platform can also be misused. Let’s look at the recent situation where Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired by Disney. I’m not condoning Gunn’s offending tweets, though it should be noted that Gunn acknowledged and apologized for them years ago and never did anything like them again, and Disney was well aware of those tweets when they hired him. What’s significant about this situation is that Gunn’s firing was orchestrated in poor faith, by an alt-right goon who couldn’t have cared less about Gunn’s tweets; he wanted Gunn fired for criticizing the president, and the tweets were the easiest way to do it. He took a platform for social justice and misused it to serve his own agenda, and it’s scary not only that there’s no safeguard against this, but that organizations like Disney can’t see the difference; they simply bow to the “Court of Public Opinion” no matter who’s behind it.

This danger is front-and-center in Green Arrow 43, an issue that finds Oliver and company facing an internet vigilante, an angry public, and a tricky moral dilemma. Continue reading

Surprising Shifts in Perspective in Saga 54

by Spencer Irwin

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

As its title would suggest, Saga is a series with an ambitious scope and a sprawling cast, one where the perspective often shifts between various groups of characters, even though we can count on Marko and Alana’s family to be at the center of events at any given time. It’s also a series where nothing stays the same for long, allowing for any number of shocking betrayals, alliances, deaths, and shifts in the status quo. This all comes heavily into play in Saga 54, an issue that upends the series’ world in ways we’ve never seen before, ways most of us probably were not prepared for. Continue reading

Action Comics 1001: Discussion

By Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

Action Comics 1001

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

Michael: The distinction between Superman’s two long-running titles, Superman and Action Comics, has never really been made clear. Besides the dollar and cents of it all, the two books exist simultaneously to give different creators the opportunity to tell their own ongoing Superman stories. But what happens when it’s the same writer plotting both books? Continue reading

Love Doesn’t Conquer All in Descender 32

by Spencer Irwin

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

Much like our own, the world of Descender is full of prejudice, hatred, and war. These various traits all fuel each other in some sort of endless, infinite loop — the only way to break the cycle is to come together, to learn from each other, to empathize with each other, to love instead of hate. Like in so many stories — and, again, perhaps like our own world as well — love is the answer, but it’s not a solution that comes easily. In Descender 32, the final issue of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s saga, love may be the answer, but love doesn’t conquer all. Continue reading

Appearance Affects Identity in Runaways 11

By Spencer Irwin

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

Our appearance and how we present ourselves to the world are vital parts of our personal identities, especially as teenagers. The way we look can be used to rebel or conform, to highlight and emphasize our strengths or conceal our flaws and insecurities. Sometimes our appearance perfectly reflects who we want to be, while at other times it just reminds us of everything we hate about ourselves. Our appearance can even have an affect on others, for better or for worse. All of these various facets of appearance and identity play vital, central roles in Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s Runaways 11. Continue reading

Thor 3: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Drew Baumgartner

Thor 3

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

Spencer: Last weekend my grandmother was sent to the hospital. Thankfully she’s recovering nicely, but the actual task of getting her treated was complicated by the sheer amount of her children and grandchildren gathered in one place, bickering over treatments, supposedly-rude doctors, and the usual family gossip. For better or for worse, I think this kind of behavior is typical when almost any family gets together; there’s no task so important that some family drama can’t derail it. That’s certainly the case for the Odinson clan in Thor 3, who nearly bicker each other into oblivion even as the Queen of Cinders is on the verge of conquering Hel.  Continue reading

Individuality is Growth, and Regression Danger in X-23 1

By Spencer Irwin

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

It’s hard not to view Laura’s return to the name “X-23,” after wearing the mantle of “Wolverine,” as a demotion, even a regression for the character. X-23 1 does all it can to smooth over this transition — writer Mariko Tamaki’s pitch-perfect channeling of Laura and Gabby’s voices combined with the return of one-time All-New Wolverine artist Juann Cabal gives this issue a lot of forward momentum, making it feel like a continuation of the story Tom Taylor began rather than a radically new take — but never explicitly addresses the change of code-names or the reason behind it. Instead, Tamaki and Cabal tackle the ideas of identity, growth, and regression head-on through the examples of Laura, Gabby, and the Stepford Cuckoos. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all leading towards an argument for “X-23” later in the storyline. Continue reading

Everybody Has Their Role to Play in Exiles 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

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Since the very first issue of Exiles the Tallus, an interdimensional, time-traveling gauntlet, has been calling the shots, pulling our heroes from reality to reality with its own agenda in mind. In many ways, it’s the true mastermind behind the defeat of the Time Eater, having charted a path towards victory and collecting heroes and allies all with vital and specific roles to play in its plan. Early on in the series this sometimes felt like it robbed the characters of their agency, but as we reach the finale of Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez’s story in Exiles 5 that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s interesting to see the role each Exile has to play, but far more interesting to see them all embrace their roles enthusiastically and of their own volition. Continue reading