Drew: I suppose it’s no surprise that the phrase Deus ex machina is ancient in origin, but I was surprised to learn that it originally described an actual machine used to levitate actors playing gods in ancient tragedies. Of course, it’s more popular meaning as a totally lazy plot device are also ancient in origin — Aristotle took Euripides to task for using a dragon-drawn chariot to whisk suddenly Medea to safety — which speaks to just how long people have been hating it. I dislike unlikely reversals of fortune or sudden interventions by benevolent higher powers as much as the next guy, but the thing that really annoys me about the thought of meeting the man behind the curtain is the expectation that it will be in any way satisfying. I’ve had enough experience to know that the more interesting a question is, the less interesting its answer will inevitably feel, which makes the presence of a being with all the answers extremely unappealing to me. Jonathan Hickman manages to avoid this a bit in New Avengers 27 by answering some of the less interesting questions, though that unfortunately also doesn’t yield particularly satisfying answers. Continue reading
Spencer: Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers hasn’t exactly been a character-driven book; that’s not to say Hickman doesn’t have an excellent grasp on the various voices of his cast, but to say that this title is very much driven by the plot, with the characters often feeling like cogs in his Avengers machine. Starting with Avengers 35, though, the title skipped eight months into the future; catching us up to the activities of the various Avengers in this new setting has given Hickman a chance to refocus on his characters, as well as on some of the many plot points that have fallen to the wayside in the last nine months or so. Avengers can sometimes be a hard book to love, but issue 36 continues the return of the kind of storytelling that made me pick up this book in the first place.
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Avengers 21, originally released October 16th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Ethan: The Infinity arc has been many things: ambitious, epic, nail-biting, repetitive, crowded. The adjective that perhaps best describes the current bit of the story — Avengers #21 — is “compressed.” We’ve groused a bit about the many angles through which we were forced to watch the events of Starbrand wiping out a Builder fleet and an Avenger strike team freeing their teammates, so maybe this issue is a welcome departure from the exhaustive coverage of the previous battles. Yet I’d almost welcome an alternate perspective / re-hashing of the events of this issue, because it was anything but drawn-out. We get the meditations of supercomputers, hand-to-hand fighting across 6 different planets, absurdly dangerous decisions made by a handful of commanders far from the fighting. The brink of despair, total salvation, all in a couple dozen pages.
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Avengers 20, originally released September 25th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Spencer: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver; the Avengers have a long history of welcoming reformed villains into their ranks. Ex Nihilo and Abyss are the latest Avengers to take advantage of this, but after serving as the villains of the first storyline of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers — and after spring boarding the series’ central conflict — their reformation has felt just a little too easy. They basically became Avengers just because Captain Universe said so. I’m sure she knows best (well, kinda sure), but while I had no problem believing that these two were no longer threats to the Earth, I had a much harder time believing that they could reliably serve as Avengers. Now Ex Nihilo and Abyss are faced with their creators, their brothers and sisters…how will they react? Are they heroes, or villains?
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Captain Marvel 15-16, originally released August 21st and September 18th, 2013, respectively. These issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Options >> Preferences >> Fog of War: Off
Warcraft II, Traditional.
Patrick: I used to play a lot of Warcraft II, and by most accounts, I was very good at the game. I played both the campaigns, all the expansion packs, even played on-line before that was really a thing. But no matter how much I wanted to challenge myself, I would always, always, always go in to Options, Preferences, and then turn “Fog of War” off. The Fog of War feature would gray-out areas on the map that you had explored but in which you didn’t have any units — you could still make out the terrain but enemy activity would be totally invisible to you. I always wanted to see what was going on. Besides, the metaphorical fog of war would set in anyway — with so much activity it became impossible to focus on all of it. Ironically, if I had just let Fog of War stay on, I could have zeroed in on my own army and really understood what they needed to become stronger. Infinity has been playing the game with Fog of War off, and the spectacle of seeing the whole board lit up at once has been astounding, but the Captain Marvel tie-ins relish the Fog, finding focus and purpose and a very specific time and a very specific place. Continue reading
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Avengers 19, originally released September 11th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Spencer: What’s so special about Earth? It’s funny; in comics, human beings are usually portrayed as a weak, technologically backwards race, yet Earth is constantly under attack for some reason, constantly finding itself in the center of some of the most significant events the Universe will ever experience. So why is the Earth so darn special? Jonathan Hickman hasn’t given us any answers yet, but in Avengers 19 he does show us just how surprisingly significant the planet Earth has become in the grand scheme of things; for better or worse, the Builders have taken notice of Earth and want it gone. Good thing it’s an Avengers World.
Today, Ethan and Patrick are discussing Infinity 2, originally released September 4th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Ethan: Space operas tend to share a few common traits. The first is that they usually happen in space (surprise!). Next, they make some assumptions about technology, concerning themselves with the adventures that take place between the stars rather than the history of how their characters came to be able to travel across the galaxy. Some involve enormous space battles, and many feature a tightly knit band or bands of characters fighting back against monolithic forces of evil. I’m still trying to decide if the Infinity arc fits the bill of a space opera rather than just a standard sci-fi story, but Infinity #2 certainly provides a lot more evidence towards the former than the previous issue did. The heroic attempt by the galactic alliance of good-guys to halt the Builder onslaught didn’t pan out so well, so now they’re licking their wounds and trying to find a new way to survive.
It can be hard to keep up with all the comics you love. But it’s damn near impossible to keep up with all the comics you’re interested in.
Retcon Punch got you covered.
Infinity is already looking to be an insane exercise in more, MORE, MORE. If you missed out on Hickman’s run on Avengers, you’ve missed out on that precedent. “Bigger” is the name of the game, and it’s in that spirit that we cram 17 issues into one six-minute video. Enjoy!
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Infinity 1, originally released August 14th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Spencer: “So…what is Infinity actually about?!” It’s a question that, in one form or another, has been tossed around Retcon Punch quite a bit the past few months. Up until now, my answer has always been, “Um…Thanos?,” and even the Preludes over in Avengers and New Avengers did little to clarify things. Thankfully, now that the first issue has dropped, I can finally give a clear answer: “Infinity is the story of what happens when two different universe-ending threats—each capable of supporting a summer crossover all on their own—hit at the same time, leaving the Earth absolutely helpless.” Pretty cool, huh? Now I only hope that the series can live up to the massive threats it’s spent its first issue establishing.
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Dial H 5, originally released October 3rd, 2012.
Taylor: Here’s the thing: metaphysical thought is messy, very messy. Thinking about where man came from, what he is made of, and where he is going yields no solid answers and often times leaves the thinker more confused than when he or she first began to ponder those ideas in the first place. When you add the outside world (and universe) to this equation things are obviously going to get even muddier. What is this something we see? What is this nothing we don’t see? If there’s nothing, doesn’t that mean there has to be a something to validate the nothing’s nothingness? It’s not easy to discuss these confounding and complex ideas in an artistic way given that you can’t ever really speak about them in a straight forward manner. To do that would feel somewhat dishonest and wouldn’t accurately reflect the feelings that come with this philosophical territory. In Dial-H 5 the reader is presented with some of these questions, but rather than falling back on stale mythologies or old tropes, the issue embraces the chaos of messy questions and does so with stylish story telling and complimentary artwork. Continue reading