Patrick: There was always going to be something artificial about the A + X conceit. For as much as it feels like they’re all good guys, so they should have no problem teaming up for a little BAM-POW superhero adventuring, there’s just too much baggage to sustain it for very long. As the series comes to close, it appears that A + X was a promise too heavy to be supported by such a fluffy, carefree experience. The final issue seems split on this opinion, simultaneously expressing how similar the two groups are while stubbornly refusing to find common ground between the two.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing A + X 16, originally released January 8th, 2014.
Patrick: We quiet, sensitive nerds at Retcon Punch tend to bask in the more intimate, honest moments in our superhero beat-em-ups. It’s not that we don’t also love a good fight or car chase or explosion or whatever, but we savor those moments when the characters stop to catch their breath. Its in those moments where the characters actually distinguish themselves, not in between punches, but after when all their precious training and superpowers can’t assist them. A+X 16 tells two such stories, neither of which have easy answers and both show the real mettle of our heroes.
Today, Ethan and Scott are discussing A + X 15, originally released December 11th, 2013.
Ethan: A + X revels in the chance to turn big name team-ups into superpowered Laurel & Hardy shorts, and A + X 15 follows suit. Along the way, we get a rehash on an age old question of metaphysics, a bio of a famous president, and the alien invasions of our fast-food franchises.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing A + X 11, originally released August 28th, 2013.
Patrick: A+X prides itself of being a pick-up and read series – a zero-cost entry point for anyone looking to have some fun with the Marvel characters. As such, there’s no nonsense that’s too out of line for these stories – you want Beast and Spider-Man to travel to a post-apocalyptic future? No problem! The carefree nature of these stories is compounded by the fact that there are two in every issue – it’s not just a one-off story, it’s a two-off (or half-off… I guess I’m not totally sure how you’d articulate that). A+X 11 bucks this trend, nestling both of it’s stories between the events of current series. It’s a bold, oddly alienating decision for a series that boasts such inclusiveness.
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing A + X 10, originally released July 17th, 2013.
Shelby: I don’t expect a lot when I read A + X. I figure stupid fun at best, and just stupid at worst. Usually I’m dead on the money, but sometimes these stories give me a little more than I expect. It doesn’t happen every time, and it almost never happens twice in one issue, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when it does.
Today, Shelby and Taylor are discussing A + X 9, originally released June 19th, 2013.
Shelby: I grew up watching TGIF on ABC every Friday night. Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step, Boy Meets World, the Peterson household was all over it. So too I am quite familiar with the family sitcom format that delivers a bite-sized portion of morals every episode. I gobbled that up as a kid, but now the 20-minutes-from-conflict-to-lesson-learned setup generally isn’t enough for me. I want more complexity in my story-telling. That lighter fare can still certainly be fun, but lay on the morals to thick, and it becomes a lesson you’re trying to force down my throat instead of fun and mindless entertainment. A+X usually falls on the “fun and mindless” end of the spectrum, but this issues seems to be trying to teach me a lesson, and it’s bogging things down.
Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing A + X 8, originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Scott: Some would describe A + X as “fluff”, but that’s not entirely fair. These ten-page stories featuring one Avenger and one X-Man teaming up have no choice but to get to the very root of what the characters are all about. It’s fun for comic nerds because it shows how these characters, who wouldn’t normally be paired together, are able to compliment each other. It’s also great for new readers, looking for a quick way to familiarize themselves with several characters and decide whether they want to pick up their titles. Sure, A + X is just for fun and has no bearing on any other stories, but it provides a surprisingly good summary of Marvel’s characters.
Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing A + X 7, originally released April 24th, 2013.
Spencer: We live in an era of comics where six-month storylines are the norm and accusations of decompressed storytelling abound. Some stories are worth the space, but others just feel like they’re grasping for ways to fill out a trade paperback. Regardless, I’ve found myself greatly appreciating shorter storylines as a result, and as a writer who often struggles in vain to be concise, I admire a creative team that can fit a complete story into a small amount of space and not have it feel lacking. This month’s A+X not only tells two such stories, it even manages to throw in a twist ending; color me impressed!
Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing A + X 6, originally released March 27th, 2013.
Shelby: I love playing card games; they’re the perfect blend of luck and strategy, as you try to think your way out of the crappy hand you got dealt. I’ll play gin, cribbage, Monopoly Deal, Dutch Blitz anytime, anywhere. The one game I’m terrible at, though, is poker. I can never keep the winning hands and all the rules straight in my head. Plus, with my Scandinavian fair skin, I blush at the drop of a hat, which means I don’t have any sort of poker face; I try to bluff my way through a bad hand, my face goes red as a whole fucking beet farm. Seriously, I’m blushing now just thinking about it. Poker may not be my game, but apparently it’s how all the Avengers and X-Men pass the time between beating up bad guys and occasionally each other. As far as your standard A + X plot goes, that’s actually pretty solid. Continue reading
Today, Michael and Drew are discussing A + X 5, originally released March 6th, 2013.
Michael: Superhero comics tend to take themselves very seriously. They have to. Crime, justice, the duality of man — these are big themes that require sober moments. This might have something to do with the marketability and general popularity of dark graphic novels that differ starkly from older stories that have some ingrained silliness. These short team-ups are a perfect palate cleanser — especially since as of late, I’ve been reading comics that bite off more than they can chew, philosophically. A+X #5 gives us an unabashedly ridiculous story followed by an ostensibly serious story packed with lame jokes. While I enjoyed the first attempt with Iron Fist + Droop, the second with Loki + Mr. Sinister missed the enjoyability boat on both the comedic and dramatic front.