The Responsibility of the Witness in Daredevil 605

by Patrick Ehlers

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

Charles Soule and Mike Henderson’s Daredevil 605 begins with Wilson Fisk raising from his hospital bed to attempt to regain control of New York City. Even dressed in a hospital gown and dragging an IV pole behind him, Fisk backs Foggy into a corner. It looks like Fisk is going to get his way, but ends up collapsing to the ground — it turns out that he wasn’t well enough to exert himself so much. But he made a choice to stop letting Matt Murdock run New York City, rather that simply witnessing it from the safety of his hospital room. While the sun sets on this Wilson Fisk story after three pages, the remainder of the issue plays out that same fundamental question over and over again: what responsibility does a witness have to interfere with whatever they are witnessing? Continue reading

The Many Irreconcilable Definitions of Redemption in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 34

By Spencer Irwin

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

Kraven the Hunter is not only the very first enemy Doreen Green defeated way back when Ryan North and Erica Henderson launched The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but he’s also the first enemy she reformed. Unlike the other villains whose lives Doreen has helped turn around, Kraven has continued to pop up as a recurring character ever since, allowing the creative team to explore life after redemption and just what, exactly, Kraven looks like as a “good guy.” With this image now firmly in place, North and artist Derek Charm use The Unbeatable Squirrel 34 to muddy and complicate it in fascinatingly complex and nuanced ways. What redemption means for Kraven may not be the same for Doreen, or Spider-Man, or the police, or the people of NYC, and there may simply be no way to reconcile these various viewpoints.  Continue reading

Amazing Spider-Man 1: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Amazing Spider-Man 1

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

Drew: If you only had one word to describe Spider-Man, what would it be? Strength? Responsibility? Verbosity? These are all great answers, each with plenty of classic Spidey stories that emphasize those characteristics, but they aren’t quite perfect. Plenty of heroes are as strong and/or responsible, and a few even talk as much as Spider-Man, but there’s something else that makes him unique. With Amazing Spider-Man 1, Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley offer up their own answer — one I had never considered, but feels obvious on reflection: Karma. Beyond his powers and the responsibilities that come with them, Spider-Man is a person plagued by the consequences of his past mistakes. Continue reading

Sensational Irony in The Immortal Hulk 2

by Patrick Ehlers

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

What scares you in media? I mean, we’ll all flinch at a well-timed jump scare: a sting of music, a flash of light, and suddenly we’re face to face with a monster. That’s a scare based on your senses, the creators manipulating your biological responses like buttons on a controller. Writer Al Ewing and artists Joe Bennett, Ruy José and Paul Mounts use sense-based scares as a smokescreen for the real horrors of The Immortal Hulk 2: irony.

This issue is so thematically compact and wonderful, it’s one of those rare superhero comics I’d recommend to anyone with a passing interest in The Hulk or horror comics. Even as Banner’s narration dips into some Civil War II plot nonsense, everything you need to understand the issue is contained within these 20 pages. Continue reading

Death Of The Inhumans 1: Discussion

By Ryan Mogge and Patrick Ehlers

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

Ryan: Narration can be a crutch, a device used to add exposition where story cannot carry itself, the epitome of “show don’t tell.” However, when it’s done well, it can be fantastic. In Death of the Inhumans 1, the narration’s tone and point of view work in concert with the story as it unfolds. At times, it feels as though the visual and the narration are two paths that run alongside one another and intersect intermittently. They inform each other and create a balance that elevates both elements to something more nuanced and affecting. Continue reading

Star Wars 50: Discussion

By Patrick Ehlers and Taylor Anderson

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

Patrick: With the conclusion of the “Mutiny on Mon Cala” story arc, things are looking up for our heroes. And why wouldn’t they? One of the features of Marvel’s interquel Star Wars series is that we know an awful lot about both the past and future of these characters. There’s a dramatic irony baked into the entire concept of this series. Any time Luke, Han, and Leia are in mortal danger, we can override our fears for their safety by simply remembering that they all live to fight another day. But that’s only half of it, right? We also know that the Rebels are on the run by The Empire Strikes Back. Writer Kieron Gillen and artists Salvador Larroca and Giuseppe Camuncoli use the oversized issue 50 to pivot from inevitable safety to inevitable danger. Continue reading

Captain America 1 Addresses the Change We Wish We Didn’t See

by Drew Baumgartner

Captain America 1

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

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. […] We need not wait to see what others do.

Mahatma Gandhi

You might be more familiar with this quote as it is often paraphrased, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” It’s a (hilariously self-actualized) misquote that kinda sorta captures the sentiment of the original, paring a nuanced sentiment down to something that could fit on a bumper sticker. But we only need to think about the cheery optimism of that bumper sticker for a moment to see the pessimism inherent in it. We can be the solution to the world’s problems, sure, but only because we’re already the cause of them. We need to change because we are what the world is — any problems in it are caused by us (whether by malice, ignorance, or complacency).

It’s a lesson many Americans learned (too late) after Donald Trump was elected. Not because we voted for him, but because we thought not voting for him was enough. We thought we were the solution to the problems we saw in the world, but didn’t appreciate how we were also the problem. We saw the battle over the future of this country as an “us vs. them,” failing to understand that there is only an “us,” that we can only be the solution when we accept that we are the problem. We thought fascism was a thing that happened in other countries, and that America would band together to reject it. We were wrong. Few people understand this (or have articulated it quite as clearly) as Ta-Nehisi Coates, which makes him the ideal writer to tackle Captain America, a series also coming to terms with its own in-universe convulsions of fascism. Continue reading

Deadpool is Back to Merc’ing in Deadpool 2

By Michael DeLaney

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

Deadpool is often characterized as the bane of the superhero community’s existence: he’s the last guy that they want to ask for help. That said, the Avengers set must derive some guilty pleasure when they get to cut loose and rip Wade Wilson’s regenerative body apart. At least, that’s what I gather from Skottie Young and Nic Klein’s Deadpool 2. Continue reading

Themes and Team Make for a Dream in Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel 1

By Taylor Anderson

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

On paper, the team-up of Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel makes too much sense for it not to happen. Both heroes are young protagonists. Both are second tier Marvel heroes next to the headliner Avengers. And perhaps most importantly, both of their series are strikingly modern and fun. But just because a team-up makes sense in theory doesn’t mean it will really work in practice. Artistic differences and such often derail the best laid team-up issues. Baring this in mind, does Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel 1 strike gold or strike out? Continue reading

Cypher Drives the Action in Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost 3

By Drew Baumgartner

Hunt for Wolverine Weapon Lost 3

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

One of my favorite insights in film criticism is that a shot can only have one subject. The subject can be (and often is) an individual, but the fascinating thing about a two-shot or group shot is that the individuals can’t be the subjects of those shots, so instead, the subject is their relationship. That is, when two characters are occupying a single shot, the subject of the shot isn’t either one of them, but their relationship to one another, whether it’s familial, antagonistic, friendly, or romantic. And I think we might be able to say something similar about ensemble stories. Or, at least, that the subject of an ensemble story can’t be several individuals. The subject can be anything from a character to a relationship to a theme, but there can be only one. So what is the subject if Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost? Is it Daredevil, our narrator (and most recognizable character)? Is it Frank McGee and Misty Knight’s budding romance? Is it the group dynamics of this makeshift team? With issue three, Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni seem to have settled on an unexpected option as their subject: Cypher. Continue reading