Extermination 4: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Extermination 4

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

There’s no time to explain!

Evasive Characters, Traditional

Drew: There comes a point in any mystery where the effort of maintaining the secret is obviously more trouble for the characters than simply admitting the truth. Writers may delay the inevitable by interrupting much-needed explanations, or adding some urgency that makes such explanations impossible, but inevitably, just taking a moment to put everyone on the same page is better for everyone. That is, “There’s no time to explain,” almost invariably causes more confusion and delays, taking more time than actually explaining what’s going on, and any character who is truly concerned about time would recognize that. Case in point: young Cable’s cause, when he finally gets around to explaining it in Extermination 4, is so compelling that virtually everyone who hears it is immediately on board with his plan. It would have saved him a ton of time sneaking around and fighting if he had any confidence in the necessity and righteousness of his mission. Fortunately, writer Ed Brisson has written in a remarkably effective explanation for young Cable’s illogical behavior: he’s a teenager. Continue reading

The Limits of Control in Action Comics 1004

By Spencer Irwin

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

“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and the two will be one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Mark 10: 7-8

I love the concept behind this bit of marriage/relationship advice, but the problem is that it’s, ultimately, just a metaphor; a couple can try to act as one flesh, but they’ll always be two different people with two very different sets of needs, and that can be a difficult thing to reconcile. In any close relationship the pressure to be on the same page at all times is great, and the temptation to try to control one another in order to reach that point can be even greater. Ultimately, though, you can’t control people, and especially not the people you love, no matter how close you are. That’s the lesson Clark learns in Action Comics 1004. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Macro Series: Michelangelo 1

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin

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

Patrick: I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but part of that love comes from my now-decades-long exposure to them. I can look at any one of these four brothers and see a multifaceted, well-rounded character. This is in spite of the fact that they were introduced to me in a cartoon theme song that was content with describing Raphael as “cool, but rude.” And, to be fair, they can be tremendously fun characters, even when boiled down to archetypes. With that in mind, it’s fascinating to see how writer Ian Flynnn and artist Michael Dialynas craft a story the requires our hero to be so much more than a party dude. Continue reading

Darth Vader 22: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin 

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

Patrick: Our very own Mark Mitchell has expressed to me on a couple different occasions that he doesn’t get the appeal of either Darth Vader series that Marvel has published. His rationale is that the more we know about Darth Vader, the less terrifying he becomes. And he’s not wrong: there’s a whole trilogy of movies clarifying Anakin’s motives and they only serve to make the Dark Lord of the Sith more of a bumbling blunt instrument than an evil mastermind. But with Darth Vader 22 writer Charles Soule shows us how scary the motivations of a truly evil Dark Side master can be. Of course, Vader proves himself to be even scarier by rejecting Lord Momin’s ideology in favor of a far more direct motivation: accumulation of power. Continue reading

Shuri 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 character of Shuri is currently riding a wave of popularity, one that can be traced back to February’s Black Panther film, and one which leads right up to this very comic, the first issue of Shuri’s first ongoing series. Despite being the breakout character in a movie full of breakout characters, though, Shuri has existed in the comics for close to fifteen years now, and has built up a history quite different from her MCU counterpart. How do you reconcile those disparate takes on the character? If you’re Shuri writer Nnedi Okorafor, you don’t; you confront each version of Shuri head-on, and make her (and others) do the same. Shuri’s journey to figure out who exactly she is and what exactly she wants becomes the central conflict of Shuri 1. Continue reading

Venom 7: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Spencer Irwin

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

Michael: The first arc of Donny Cates’ Venom went for bombastic action and retcon myth-making, and as fun and exciting as that was, I can’t help but find myself more interested in the more “down-to-Earth” nature of Venom 7. Cates does still add to his symbiote mythos, but this issue focuses more on the personal bond between Eddie Brock and his symbiote pal – or lack thereof, in this case. Continue reading

Finding the Emotion Behind the Audacious Premise in Murder Falcon 1

by Spencer Irwin

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

Last week I had the pleasure of attending Friday’s Image Comics spotlight panel at New York Comic Con. The panel was a chance for about seven or eight creators to talk about their new or upcoming series, and while every creator there had an excellent pitch (and I want to read all their books), it was Daniel Warren Johnson who seemed to win the crowd fastest, with just two words: “Murder Falcon.” Murder Falcon has the kind of wonderfully insane concept — metalhead’s guitar playing allows him to fight monsters via an absolutely ripped bird named Murder Falcon — that just screams for attention, but for a book to keep readers, it needs more than just an audacious premise. Thankfully, Johnson is well aware of this, and thus Murder Falcon 1 finds the heart beneath all the (wonderful) silliness, and highlights the real emotional power of its premise. Continue reading

Border Town 2: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin

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

PatrickBorder Town hinges on an obviously loaded concept: the membrane between the monster world and the human world lies along the border between the US and Mexico. All the xenophobia, all the paranoia, and all the actual danger is exaggerated. But there’s another component of the traditional border dispute narrative that’s cranked up to ten — culture. Writer Eric M. Esquivel and artist Ramon Villalobos take care to bask in the cultural specifics of our heroes, while only hinting at the implied culture of the monstrous villains. It’s a fascinating look at what humanizes people on either side of either border. Continue reading

Individuality is the Key to Teamwork in Tony Stark: Iron Man 4

by Spencer Irwin

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

Despite the double emphasis in its title, Tony Stark: Iron Man isn’t really a solo spotlight for its titular hero. Instead it’s an ensemble piece, a team book, devoting just as much (if not more) space to the stories of Jocasta Pym, Andy Bhang, Bethany Cabe, Amanda Armstrong, or Rhodey as it does Stark. In fact, issue 4 outright turns this choice into an ethos, predicating Stark Unlimited’s entire victory on the fact that they are a team who can work together and pool their ideas, and their opponents from Baintronics’ loss on the fact that they’re not a team, they’re a hive mind. Their lack of multiple perspectives and approaches seals their fate. Continue reading

Man-Eaters 1: Discussion

by Spencer Irwin and Drew Baumgartner

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

Spencer: There’s quite a bit to unpack in the high concept behind Man-Eaters, and I don’t just mean its metaphors and allegories. Despite the fact that it takes place in a world similar to ours in most ways, the one new element Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk introduce — menstruation-triggered transformations into murderous big cats — opens up a bevy of new questions that beg to be answered. Thankfully, Cain and Niemczyk answer them with grace, simultaneously building both world and character effortlessly and never falling into the dangers of rote exposition. Continue reading