Big Rocks and Tiny Plots in Guardians of the Galaxy 147

by Michael DeLaney

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

What happens when the lovable misfit space pirates becoming the lovable misfit space police? The Guardians have teamed up with The Nova Corps to sniff out Shi’ar spies and track down the missing Infinity Stones in Guardians of the Galaxy 147. Joining the Novardians of the Corlaxy is Ant-Man (Scott Lang), who is trying to redeem himself in light of his Secret Empire betrayal. Continue reading

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Tyranny Destroys Expertise in Darth Vader 8

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Authoritarian rule is often the result of resentment toward the professional political class. All it takes is one “outsider” with enough willpower to assume power, and then the common man is freed from the dubious expertise of career politicians. The problem, of course, is that the elimination of political experts leads to brain drain in all other aspects of government, and eventually the loss of all knowledge and expertise. Star Wars Darth Vader 8 shows the tenuous balance between the experts and the tyrants that force their extinction. Continue reading

The Joy of Teamwork in Hawkeye 12

By Spencer Irwin

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

Hawkeye 12 is an ode to teamwork. It’s not just the lesson Kate learns at the end — that she’s going to need to ask for help if she wants to find her mother — but the way she learns that lesson that drives the point home. Kelly Thompson, Michael Walsh, and Jordie Bellaire make this issue fun, showing that teamwork isn’t just beneficial, but enjoyable for all. Continue reading

Magna Tolvan is Lovable, to a Distracting Degree, in Doctor Aphra 14

by Taylor Anderson

Doctor Aphra 14

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

The great thing about Star Wars comics is that we’re introduced to characters from the extended universe we would never meet otherwise. I mean, Han, Luke, Leia, and Darth are all pretty compelling characters, but forty years worth of stories surrounding them means there isn’t a whole lot left to say about them. Dr. Aphra, then, is a great series in this regard. Aphra herself is a compelling character, but the title is made so much better by the rich cast of characters that surrounds her. However, if these characters lose their charm or act in ways that don’t make sense then there’s not a whole lot for an issue to fall back on save for space battles and explosions.

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Peter Gets a New Set of Great Responsibilities in The Amazing Spider-Man 791

by Drew Baumgartner

Amazing Spider-Man 791

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

“With great power must also come great responsibility.” Every Spider-Man fan knows these words as well as Peter Parker himself, so you’d think we’d have a good handle on what it means. And we do, to some degree — Peter’s superhuman powers demand that he take on superhuman responsibilities — but much of the tension comes from how all that superheroing clashes with the other responsibilities in his life. Writer Dan Slott has always kept that aspect of Spider-Man in mind, giving Peter more personal and professional responsibilities than he can really keep track of. It’s a juggling act we’re all familiar with in our own lives, and Amazing Spider-Man 791 finds Slott adding one more that clearly means a lot to him: publishing deadlines. Continue reading

Creating Stakes in Mighty Thor 701

by Patrick Ehlers

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

700 issues in, the gods of Asgard have faced annihilation numerous times. But they have always pulled through, because that’s how decades-long serialized mythologies work. Every threat must be bested in order to perpetuate the franchise. This isn’t something that bothers me: the “what happens” never concerns me as much as the “how it happens.” But for anyone demanding meaningful, lasting, concrete consequences in their storytelling should welcome the rise of Mangog. Mangog is here to kill the gods, and by the end of issue 701, he’s already got a definitive Win in his column. Continue reading

Cliches and Cutlery in Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan 2

by Michael DeLaney

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

Story models repeat themselves, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For me, Deadpool vs Old Man Logan isn’t trying to be anything new or groundbreaking — but then again every comic book is someone’s first. Deadpool vs Old Man Logan 2 uses the X-Men staple of a military organization hunting “the chosen one” while the two mutant former weapons trade quips and shed blood. Continue reading

Peter Parker Sacrifices Action in Spectacular Spider-Man 297

by Patrick Ehlers

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 297

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

Peter spends the majority of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man 297 out-smarting, out-punching, and out-maneuvering both the NYPD and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Mintz. And he does it all while being underpowered and trying to keep his identity a secret. It’s the kind of Spider-Man story that wordlessly plays in the fantasies of Spider-Man fans — scrape after scrape, close-call after close-call, until he finally escapes. It’s thrilling, wonderful stuff. Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Adam Kubert use this issue to set up these thrilling heroics as the stakes of this arc, rather than the actual substance thereof. Continue reading

Doctor Strange 381: Discussion

By Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

Doctor Strange 381

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

Taylor: There’s a scene in the excellent new Thor movie where the titular character comes face to face with Dr. Stephen Strange. At the time, the scene struck me as kind of weird, even if I enjoyed it greatly. What seemed odd to me at the time was the idea of Norse gods meeting a sorcerer who seemingly hails from a completely different mythology. But as the rest of the movie showed me with its zany and fun plot, there’s no reason why the two mythologies shouldn’t meet. At the end of the day, both Thor and Dr. Strange have super powers, and whether one is or isn’t magic doesn’t seem to really matter. Once I crossed the cognitive divide that these two characters shouldn’t interact, I was totally hooked. The same is true of Doctor Strange 381, because it operates in much the same way. Continue reading

Gwen is Armed with Head Canon in The Unbelievable Gwenpool 22

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Gwen Poole reads comic books; she’s a Marvel fan. This means that she’s held all the conflicting ideas that Marvel fans have been wrestling with for decades — including a bizarre mix of love and hate that comes from a feeling of ownership so many fans carry. In issue 21, Gwenpool proved that she had mastered the medium of comics, but was losing her edge in terms of up-to-the-minute Marvel continuity. Issue 22 furthers that journey, doubling down on her medium mastery powers, while emphasizing the failings of her regressive fandom. Continue reading