Deals With The Devil in Tony Stark: Iron Man 5

by Michael DeLaney

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

In modern storytelling it’s usually pretty obvious who the bad guy is going to be – often times it’s practically written on their face. Prior to reading Tony Stark: Iron Man 5 I had next to no knowledge of Tony’s elder brother Arno Stark, but just looking at Alexander Lozano’s menacing cover it seemed clear to me that Arno was more likely foe than friend. With that in mind. Tony Stark: Iron Man 5 could be considered a piece of a villainous origin story. Continue reading

Projection and Toxic Masculinity in West Coast Avengers 3

by Spencer Irwin

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

When discussing West Coast Avengers 2, we went into significant detail about how B.R.O.D.O.K. represented the worst traits of toxic masculinity, of entitled, deluded men who think of women as objects or prizes rather than real people with their own needs, personalities, and desires. With issue 3, Kelly Thompson and Stefano Caselli continue to explore this topic, but come at it from a slightly different angle. This time, their attention is focused less on the delusions that drive B.R.O.D.O.K. and more on how his actions effect the women around him. Spoiler alert: things don’t go well for them. Continue reading

Grounding a Bonkers Concept in Faith Dreamside 2

by Patrick Ehlers

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

The concept of shared superhero universes may have dulled readers to the fact that religious parables and alien invasion stories and time travel puzzle boxes are wildly different kinds of narratives. What is an Avengers comic, but a hyper-active mash-up of as many different genres as there are heroes on the team? But you’ll notice that none of these stories really deal with the gravity that should come with these sky-high concepts crossing paths. Faith Dreamside 2 finds both Faith and Doctor Mirage struggling to reconcile their extremely worldly views of the universe with the new reality plaguing Animalia. Continue reading

Hex Wives 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Michael DeLaney

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

Patrick: I’ve worked a 9-5 job for the majority of my adult life, cramming the entirety of my creative life into nights and weekends. When I take a vacation, it’s to attend conventions where I’m going to network and land interviews and get first hand experience with the newest talent and products in the comics and video games industries. In effect, I’m always working. But I do it because I love it. In fact, after a weekend of writing and performing and expressing myself creatively, coming back to the office is soul crushing. It’s the most mundane form of existential prison. Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo’s Hex Wives 1 explores that same kind of prison as it restrains a coven of immortal witches. It is simultaneously as exciting and as frustrating as it sounds. Continue reading

Extermination 4: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Spencer Irwin

Extermination 4

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

There’s no time to explain!

Evasive Characters, Traditional

Drew: There comes a point in any mystery where the effort of maintaining the secret is obviously more trouble for the characters than simply admitting the truth. Writers may delay the inevitable by interrupting much-needed explanations, or adding some urgency that makes such explanations impossible, but inevitably, just taking a moment to put everyone on the same page is better for everyone. That is, “There’s no time to explain,” almost invariably causes more confusion and delays, taking more time than actually explaining what’s going on, and any character who is truly concerned about time would recognize that. Case in point: young Cable’s cause, when he finally gets around to explaining it in Extermination 4, is so compelling that virtually everyone who hears it is immediately on board with his plan. It would have saved him a ton of time sneaking around and fighting if he had any confidence in the necessity and righteousness of his mission. Fortunately, writer Ed Brisson has written in a remarkably effective explanation for young Cable’s illogical behavior: he’s a teenager. Continue reading

What Aphra Deserves in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 25

By Michael DeLaney

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

Every time I read an issue of Star Wars: Doctor Aphra I come away thinking Aphra is a pretty despicable character. After reading Doctor Aphra 25 I found myself wondering if writer Simon Spurrier feels the same. Maybe that’s why, in the final issue of “The Catastrophe Con”, Spurrier provides a of bevy of even-more-despicable characters to favorably compare our girl to. Continue reading

The Limits of Control in Action Comics 1004

By Spencer Irwin

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

“For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother, and the two will be one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Mark 10: 7-8

I love the concept behind this bit of marriage/relationship advice, but the problem is that it’s, ultimately, just a metaphor; a couple can try to act as one flesh, but they’ll always be two different people with two very different sets of needs, and that can be a difficult thing to reconcile. In any close relationship the pressure to be on the same page at all times is great, and the temptation to try to control one another in order to reach that point can be even greater. Ultimately, though, you can’t control people, and especially not the people you love, no matter how close you are. That’s the lesson Clark learns in Action Comics 1004. Continue reading

Futility in Days of Hate 9

by Patrick Ehlers

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

“All we do is sit in rooms and wait.”

Arvid, Days of Hate 9

The scariest thing about the rise of fascism in the United States is the immeasurable apathy it has been met with. While people on the left have donated and volunteered and campaigned and protested, there’s nothing that won’t send us back to our couches like a little tongue-clucking about civility. We still expect the old tools work, but leverage and hypocrisy and blackmail only work if your opponent lets it work. In Days of Hate 9, writer Ales Kōt and artist Danijel Žeželj show the futility of protest, blackmail, and scheming against the unstoppable juggernaut of cruelty that is Agent Freeman. Continue reading

Strategies at Cross-Purposes in Coda 6

by Drew Baumgartner

Coda 6

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

I think it’s fair to say that Coda is set in a particularly fantastical world. Beyond the trappings of magical beings and beasts, the characters themselves recognize that they’re in a kind of mythical world that almost fetishizes heroic virtues of bravery and self-sacrifice. Which makes the cowardly pragmatism of our protagonist a distinguishing characteristic. He’s not an idealist willing to die in the battle against evil — he’s just a guy who wants to settle down for a quiet life with his wife somewhere. In pulling away from heroism, Hum forces us to reexamine the assumptions we have about what it means to be a hero, and what it means to not be one. It’s a subject Simon Spurrier and Matías Bergara have been playing with since the first issue, but one that comes to the fore in issue 6, as Hum argues his position with Serka. Continue reading

Black Panther vs. Deadpool 1

by Michael DeLaney and Drew Baumgartner 

Black Panther vs. Deadpool 1

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

Michael: How do you think Marvel editorial goes about creating another “Vs” mini-series? Is there a quarterly mandate they must fill? Is it a writer’s repurposed series pitch? I suppose there must be some sort of demand since they keep making them, right? In spite of that I must say I was pleasantly surprised by Black Panther vs. Deadpool 1, a book that accurately depicts the tones of these very different characters without compromising either one of them. Continue reading