Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017.Continue reading →
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Spencer: Runaways 1 has to be one of the most unusual first issues I’ve ever read, especially for a team book and especially for a book from the Big 2. While I’ve read plenty of good, sometimes even great, first issues, there’s certain objectives most first issues have to achieve — introducing the series’ cast, premise, and villain, for example — that can lead to them all feeling like they’re cut from the same template. Runaways 1, though, shatters that template completely; Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson essentially skip to what would probably be issue 4 of any other series, immediately immersing readers deep in a tense, life-or-death scenario. It’s a marvelous decision. Continue reading →
More self-contained than an ongoing series (which may build on decades of backstory), but capable of more depth than a one-off, the mini-series may stand as the truest analog to novels that monthly comics can provide. 2015 was a banner year for mini-series, with both of the big two switching to minis almost entirely during their respective crossover events, and many more stellar minis coming from other publishers. These our our top 10 mini-series of 2015. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Infinity Gauntlet 5, originally released November 11th, 2015. This issue is part of Secret Wars. To see more coverage of this week’s Secret Wars issues, check out our Marvel Round-Up.
Spencer: There was one simple reason that I wanted to cover Infinity Gauntlet 5 this week: I just thought it would be a blast, both to read and write about. Spoiler alert: I was right, but considering the previous four issues, I suppose that was always a foregone conclusion. Even when his focus was on the cast’s hopeless task of trying to survive in a savage wasteland, Dustin Weaver imbued the story (and especially the art) with a certain spark of chaotic, creative energy that never failed to draw me in. That spark grew into a full-blown fire as the series progressed; the finale actually revolves around the power of creativity, both in terms of the ideas Weaver and scripter Gerry Duggan fill it with and within the story itself, where Anwen makes creativity her greatest weapon in the battle against Thanos. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing E is for Extinction 4, originally released September 30th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check out our Secret Wars Round-Up!
Drew: Do you ever hate movies for ruining a good premise? Like, not just for failing to live up to the potential they had, but for poisoning that premise for anyone else. You might have an interesting story where plants conspire to wipe out humanity, but the only thing anyone will see when they look at it is The Happening. A similar phenomenon can happen with smaller details, from memorable character names to meet-cutes to death scenes, that, for one reason or another, are so strongly associated with a crummy piece of art that it’s difficult to repeat. X-Men: The Last Stand is one such piece of crummy art, yet E is for Extinction 4 aims to reclaim many of the moments it had soiled. That’s an unexpected windmill to tilt at, but the more surprising fact is that the issue largely succeeds in winning those moments back. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Runaways 4, originally released September 23rd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!
“If there’s one thing I love, it’s teens who stay teens even when the situation is really dire, and so even when they’re running for their lives they never quite lose sight of crushes, pretensions, anxiety about their future and who they’re going to be. Sometimes those situations can feel just as life-or-death as…actual life-or-death.”
Noelle Stevenson, Runaways 4 letters page
Spencer: I loved Runaways 4′s letters page; the sheer unfettered enthusiasm and creativity from readers warmed my heart. But to me, the most insightful moment of that page is the above quote from Runaways writer Noelle Stevenson, which explains the greatest strength of both this mini-series and its finale magnificently. To these characters, coming to a romantic realization is just as significant as escaping from the Doom Institute; Stevenson and artist Sanford Greene realize that and treat every victory with equal importance. It makes for an uplifting, triumphant finale. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing 1872 3, originally released September 23rd, 2015.
Taylor: We just can’t seem to leave the Wild West, can we? Throughout the entire 20th century and well into the 21st the Western has endured in books, movies, TV shows, and of course comics. I guess there’s just something appealing about a world where there is no law except for the gun you hold in your hand. We all know for the most part these portrayals of the Old West are pretty inaccurate. It was neither as exciting or dangerous as one would have you believe. However, that hasn’t stopped artists from visiting a world we just can’t get enough of. Now into its third issue, I think it’s fair to judge whether 1872 is a version of the West we want to visit again and again, or one we let hit the ol’ dusty trail.
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 5, originally released September 2nd, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, check back Tuesday for our Secret Wars Round-Up!
Drew: It’s rare that we ever put a spoiler warning up on the site. It’s been suggested more than once, but we usually come to the conclusion that it would be redundant — it would be impossible to have the kind of in-depth discussions we have about comics without acknowledging what happened within them. That’s always been enough to end the conversation, but I also tend to think that superhero comics are impossible to spoil — or maybe that it’s they’re impossible not to spoil. That is to say, we don’t come to superhero stories to be surprised at the outcome, but to be inspired by them. I mean, “Spider-Man saves the day” isn’t exactly revelatory, but it describes the majority of Spider-Man stories (though not necessarily each individual issue), and doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Indeed, that we know Spider-Man will get back up to fight again is exactly what makes him such an enduring character in the first place. So when The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows inevitably lives up to its name, its predictability is a strength, not a weakness. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Michael are discussing Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos 2, originally released July 8th, 2015. This issue is a Secret Wars tie-in. For more Secret Wars coverage from the week, click here.
Spencer: One of my best friends and I quite often find ourselves arguing about how “realistic” a story should be. He loves stories that could take place in our “real” world, while they sometimes rub me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, there’s quite a few stories that benefit from a sense of gritty realism (The Black Hoodis an excellent, recent example), but I resent the idea that all stories need to be realistic. Our world is quite often an awful place, and fiction is my way of escaping it — I get a lot of joy out of stories that can break the restrictive rules of our reality. Gerry Duggan and Salva Espin’s Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos 2 is just such a story, one which takes great pleasure in transcending the limits of both reality and traditional narrative structures. It’s a hoot. Continue reading →
Today, Drew, Patrick and Spencer discuss Secret Wars 3, Giant-Sized Little Marvel AvX 1, Future Imperfect 1, Years of Future Past 1, and Secret Wars Battleworld 2.
Drew: There’s nothing like comics continuity — and I mean that quite literally. Virtually no other narratives feature the same kinds of questions about whether something happened, how so and so exists if that didn’t happen, whether or not characters remember events that did happen before they didn’t, or if all of the events we’re reading will somehow be undone in the future. I’ve never been particularly interested in what is and isn’t canon (as far as I’m concerned, the only stories that “count” in comics are the ones that I’ve read), but it’s certainly interesting to see how the Big Two twist themselves up in knots to explain things. Marvel has long touted its continuity as being unbroken (a few retcons notwithstanding), in contrast to DC’s system of periodically “resetting” their universe with a massive crisis, but Secret Wars began with proudly proclaiming the death of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Indeed, this week finds writers not just defending that break, but reveling in it. Continue reading →