The Failings of Friendship in Desperate Times in Secret Empire 5

by Spencer Irwin

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

“The power of friendship” is a popular trope in most media. The idea that most situations can be overcome through the bonds we share with our friends is powerful in a lot of ways, but it’s one that never really seems applicable to war or espionage stories like Secret Empire. Make no mistake, Hydra is not going to be defeated by friendship or optimism alone, but in Secret Empire 5, Nick Spencer, Rod Reis, Andrea Sorrentino, Joshua Cassara, and Rachelle Rosenberg do explore the effect pre-existing relationships have on their conflict. It’s not always a good one. Continue reading

Being a Mentor is the Ultimate Strength in America 4

by Spencer Irwin

America 4

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

Nobody can make it through life alone — not even someone as powerful and independent as America Chavez. There have been many inspirational figures in America’s life, but no direct mentor figures. That’s something Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, and Ming Doyle aim to fix in America 4, where they not only give America Chavez her very own mentor, but show why it’s important for her to have one in the first place. Continue reading

Matt Looks to the Law to End Crime in Daredevil 22

by Spencer Irwin

Daredevil 22

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

As much as I admire superheroes and the aspirational messages they’re designed to send, it is occasionally troubling that they solve 95% of their problems with violence. There are other ways, often better ways, to help people, and that’s something Matt Murdock has always understood. It only makes sense, then, that the big plan to “end crime” in NYC writer Charles Soule (a lawyer himself) has been teasing for the past few issues has nothing to do with super-powered spectacle, and everything to do with setting a legal precedent.  Continue reading

Crosswind 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Taylor Anderson

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

slim-banner

Spencer: “Boys will be boys.” I can’t think of another phrase that seems so innocent, yet is in actuality so malicious. It does nobody any favors. It teaches men (and yes, for some reason this phrase is just as often — if not more often — applied to teenagers or grown men as it is children) that they have no control over their impulses and actions, while it simultaneously teaches women that they should just accept whatever men throw their way because men can’t help themselves, can’t be taught or trained or reasoned with. What started as a reminder of little boys’ natural boundless energy has become an excuse for misogyny, abuse — sometimes even murder. This phrase is also the only thing connecting the otherwise entirely disparate lives of Cason Ray Bennett and Juniper Elanore Blue, the dual protagonists of Cat Staggs and Gail Simone’s Crosswind. Continue reading

“The War of Jokes and Riddles” Gives Batman Another Opportunity to Feel Guilty in Batman 25

by Spencer Irwin

Batman 25

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

It takes quite a bit of hubris to think you can singlehandedly end crime, even in just one city. I’ve never been a fan of the interpretations that paint Batman as insane or as the genesis of his own enemies, but I do think there’s some merit to examining the negative effects his crusade on crime may create. That’s exactly what Tom King and Mikel Janin seem ready to do in “The War of Jokes and Riddles,” a storyline pitting the Joker and the Riddler against each other in a city-wide gang war that, of course, Batman blames himself for. Continue reading

Alfred’s Past Shines a New Light on His Relationship with Bruce in All-Star Batman 11

by Spencer Irwin

All-Star Batman 11

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

Alfred fills a peculiar role in Batman’s world. He’s Bruce’s father figure, but also his servant; he’s the Dark Knight’s staunchest ally, but also his greatest critic. The one thing these disparate titles have in common is that they cast Alfred as a supporting player — indeed, it’s often easy to forget that Alfred Pennyworth is a man with his own life and history, not just someone who cleans up after Batman. That’s something Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque are out to change in “The First Ally,” a storyline that dives into Alfred’s past and uses his history with his father to shine a new light on his relationship with Bruce. Continue reading

Knowledge is the Key to Victory in the Flash 24

by Spencer Irwin

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

Knowledge is power. Yeah, it’s cliche, but that doesn’t make it any less true; it’s especially true throughout Joshua Williamson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, and Pop Mhan’s The Flash 24, where the power dynamics between each character are defined almost solely by how much they know. Not only does the Flash’s victory over Multiplex come, not from brute strength, but from using his CSI skills to learn about his opponent, but Reverse Flash’s utter domination of all who face him is largely powered by his knowledge of the time before the New 52. Continue reading

Recovery Means Coming to Terms with the Monster Within in Hulk 7

by Spencer Irwin

Hulk 7

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

Recovering from a traumatic incident is a process that never quite ends. One can’t expect to ever be the exact same person again that they once were before the incident; instead, they have to learn to move forward and live with their new status quo. That seems to be the point Jen Walters has reached in Mariko Tamaki and Georges Duarte’s Hulk 7 — having come to terms with the fact that her life has changed, Jen’s now looking to figure out what, exactly, these changes mean and how they’ll fit into her life going forward. Continue reading

Dark Days: The Forge 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

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

Spencer: By some sort of weird cosmic coincidence, I’ve been re-reading Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s late 90s JLA run this week. While that series is rightly remembered for its grand, heady ideas and breakneck-paced tales, what impressed me the most this time around was Morrison’s regard for the DC universe — every story was sprinkled with guest stars and allusions to past stories, well-known and deep cuts alike. Despite Rebirth’s best efforts, that sense of history is something I’ve been missing from DC the past few years, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened Dark Days: The Forge — the prelude to Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV’s big summer event — and discovered that it’s practically an ode to DC’s past. Snyder and Tynion are clearly having a blast digging into DC’s sandbox, and it’s hard for that sense of enthusiasm and wonder not to rub off on the reader. Continue reading

The Role of Organized Religion in Godshaper 3

by Spencer Irwin

Godshaper 3

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

I recently read Dear Prudence column featuring a letter from an atheist who still enjoyed going to church because of the traditions and social aspects. This probably seems almost blasphemous to those who look to religion as a path to salvation, but it turns out that there are many who look to religion to meet other needs entirely. Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface run with that idea in Godshaper 3, as they examine the role of organized religion in a world where everybody already has their own personal deity. Continue reading