Patrick: The Avengers is a fairly masculine construct. I recognize that most superhero teams are, but this one in particular makes you really look for the contributing female members. On a team that just recently exploded to include over 20 members, there are five women in group, two of which are bizarrely abstract concepts (Abyss, the Universe). They don’t perceive the world or act like human beings, let alone as human women. That leaves Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Spider-Woman – none of whom have gotten much attention in the main Infinity series or either of the flagship tie-ins. Kelly Sue DeConnick has been tasked with injecting a little feminine energy into the saga. Unfortunately, she’s made to retread the same events endlessly, and ground the same emotional beats into a fine paste for easy digestion. Well, Infinity fans, open up: we’ve got a piping hot serving of emotional paste for you… I just can’t promise that it’s fresh.
Ethan: Ever since the birth of the film industry, it’s been a race for the technology and craft to keep suspending our disbelief as we become desensitized to each decade’s best special effects. Every once in a while, a filmmaker pulls off an innovation that jumps way ahead of our expectations, and the medium feels special again. And even while fancy visuals can surprise us, if the movie forgets that it’s supposed to have a plot and just chucks those visuals at our eyeballs for two hours without going anywhere, it feels like a waste. We talked about the long build-up to the Infinity arc, and then the first issue felt like a much more violent version of the grand finale at a fireworks show. With so many pyrotechnics and most of the characters strapped in to acceleration harnesses, it would have been easy to become distracted by the spaceships and forget the people inside of them. To balance out our view of that battle, Avengers Assemble18 rewinds all the way back to the pre-launch scene and tells the story all over again from the perspective of one character: Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman.
Today, Ethan and Taylor are discussing Avengers Assemble 15AU, originally released May 8th 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.
Ethan: It’s always tempting to poke fun at other cultures. Humans seem evolutionarily predisposed to draw lines between Us and Them, and in the present, enlightened point in the development of our species, we like to use humor to act on that where our paleo-ancestors might have used a nice, big stick. Humor’s got more uses than pushing others away though; sometimes it’s a good way to navigate the gap between the familiar and the different, and to draw people together. All of this is a bit overblown for introducing this issue. What I’m really trying to say is that writer Al Ewing really went to town on those silly Brits in this issue. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Ethan are discussing Avengers Assemble 14AU, originally released April 10th 2013. This issue is part of the Age of Ultron crossover event. Click here for complete AU coverage.
…it’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.
-Rachel Dawes, Batman Begins
Drew: I remember laughing out loud when I first heard Rachel’s lecture to Bruce in Batman Begins. It’s not that the scene was poorly acted, or even that the sentiment was that offensive, but that its underlying “who you are on the inside doesn’t count for much, after all” message flew in the face of essentially every 90s movie, from Beauty and the Beast to She’s All That. Of course, the message here is about action vs. sentiment — talk is cheap, if you will — rather than about superficiality, which makes it a more appropriate, if sensitive, topic for comics. It’s sensitive because we care about who our heroes are underneath. Does Superman’s moral strength come from never failing to want the right thing, or from never failing to do the right thing? Many fans may balk at finding out Superman has immoral thoughts, while others may find a squeaky-clean mind entirely unrelatable, making the very act of pulling back the curtain a precarious one. You might expect this discomfort to be smaller with more down-to-earth human characters, but as Al Ewing demonstrates in Avengers Assemble 14AU, the opposite might be true. Continue reading →