This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The medium of comic books isn’t an ancient indecipherable text, but it does have its own language that is learned and acquired by readers over time. Along with the significant portions of sequential art, readers must become accustomed to multiple forms of word-based storytelling. In Scarlet 1, writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Alex Maleev, and letterer Joshua Reed showcase an additional storytelling device not often seen in comic books. Continue reading →
This article containers SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk.
The ends of long creator runs in comics are a strange thing — an ending that isn’t an ending, a goodbye that isn’t a goodbye — but are also relatively commonplace. Indeed, those “final issues” are common enough to create a kind of map of morphologies, from those that send the characters in bold new directions to those that more or less put things back to neutral. One of the most common features, though, is that writers step out from behind the curtain to acknowledge their own departure. Some do this in a self-consciously postmodern way (a la Animal Man 26, excerpted above), but any hint of goodbye from the creative team breaks the fourth wall at least a little. We’ve written about plenty of those final issues over the years, but none quite as final as Invincible Iron Man 600, which isn’t just the finale of Brian Michael Bendis’s three-year run with the series, but of his 18-year run with Marvel. That is, he’s not just saying goodbye to the cast of Invincible Iron Man, but the Marvel Universe as a whole, which demands some kind of acknowledgement, which Bendis of course puts his trademark spin on. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Infamous Iron Man 1, originally released October 19th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Drew: I tend not to sweat spoilers — frankly, the notion that a story could be “spoiled” by knowing the plot ahead of time so disregards the importance of every other aspect of storytelling that I believe it misses the point of stories entirely. BUT, I do get how annoying it is to have the ending of a story blurted out when I wasn’t suspecting it. I may not mind clicking on articles I know contain spoilers, but I’d at least like to know what narratives those spoilers pertain to. Which is why Infamous Iron Man 1 seems to warrant a special spoiler warning: one for readers of Civil War II. Certain events in this issue fall out directly from events of Civil War II that haven’t happened yet, making it all but impossible to talk about the issue without spoilers. Consider yourself warned. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing International Iron Man 2, originally released April 27th, 2016.
Patrick: We hear a lot of grumbling about the ubiquity of original stories in superhero fiction. Hell, I do a bunch of it myself. Aside from the fact that we’ve basically seen them all before, one of the reasons these stories feel so unsatisfying is because there’s a huge leap in logic from traumatizing inciting event to costumed superheroics. A young Bruce Wayne sees his parents gunned down, and the only gaps between that and Batman that we ever need filled in are those that answer how he become such a physical bad-ass. But obsessions, passions and pathologies don’t develop in an instant — they grow over a lifetime. International Iron Man 2 explores more of what makes Tony Stark tick in those small, measured moments between dramatic reveals, even as Tony himself searches for answer he knows will be unsatisfying. Continue reading →
You know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you can’t judge the cover on its own merit. Some covers are so excellent that they pack all the drama, excitement and emotion of the whole issue into one succinct image. Sometimes they end up being their own surreal experience. And other times, we’re just exciting to see our favorite heroes kicking ass one more time. These are our top 10 covers of 2015.Continue reading →
Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Lando 5, originally released October 7th, 2015.
Michael: Lando Calrissian is one part Han Solo and all-the-rest parts Billy Dee Williams cool. Even in 2D, he can charm the pants off of us. Lando 5 asks us how far can that charm go? Lando schemes at every turn but does he ever come out on top? Can you count simply saving your skin as a profit? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Andy are discussing Lando 2, originally released August 12, 2015.
Patrick: When you think about Lando’s role in the original trilogy, it’s hard to see him as an active player in the drama. His pivotal turn in The Empire Strikes Back boils down to him sending Lobot a text. Think about his role freeing Han from Jabba’s Palace – he infiltrates Jabba’s guard and then… does what? The man is a maestro at seizing opportunity, just so long as that “seizing” doesn’t really look like anything. But damn it all: be basically thwarts the will of the Emperor to Darth Vader’s face and lives to tell the tale. Charles Soule and Alex Maleev translate that effective inaction to the comic book page in Lando 2, using trappings two separate genres to their advantage, and then punctuate the whole thing with Lando’s opposite: an agent that never stops being active. Nearly every single element of this issue, from the pacing, to the coloring, to the dialogue, to the antagonist, serve to highlight what exactly makes Lando so damn special. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Lando 1, originally released July 8th, 2015.
Spencer: Maybe it’s just because of the way superheroes dominate the medium, but when I think of comic books, my mind immediately turns to fighting. It’s almost unheard of to find a superhero who doesn’t fight in some capacity, and even in the indie books I read, most of the characters are spies, soldiers, robots wielding built-in weaponry, or kids struggling to survive in the wild — the one thing they have in common is that they all fight. Lando Calrissian, however, does not. Throughout Lando 1, Charles Soule and Alex Maleev depict Lando as someone who may know the value of a good warrior, but prefers to win his battles with cunning. It’s a compelling take on the character, one that helps set him apart from his good buddy (and fellow smuggler) Han Solo, and one which also establishes this mini-series as a heist story through and through. Sure, there’s action, but the twists and turns of Lando’s high-stakes schemes (as well as the schemes hatched against him) are what this series is really all about, and that’s a fun new direction for the Marvel Star Wars books to explore. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Daredevil 1.5, originally released April 9th, 2014.
Drew: Ah, the anthology-style anniversary issue. I absolutely appreciate the concept of bringing in a bunch of top creators to riff on a character they know and love, but in practice, all of that talent ends up competing to leave an impression. That often means wild deconstructions of the very character the issue is celebrating — a thrilling exercise for longtime fans, but one that runs the risk of alienating more casual readers. In the letters column for Daredevil 1.5, editor Ellie Pyle asks what Daredevil means to us, but the question in my mind is “who is this comic for?”
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Empire of the Dead 2, originally released February 26th, 2014.
Drew: What is it that makes us human? Is it the capacity for emotion? Reason? Is it the ability to recognize that other people might have perspectives and motivations that are different from our own? These are some of the most fundamental questions of philosophy and psychology– perhaps too big to hope to tackle in a discussion of a horror comic book — but I’d like to suggest that humanity, however we define it, is the detail that separates Zombies and Vampires. Sure, there are the obvious cosmetic differences (illustrated beautifully by Alex Maleev on this month’s cover), but they’re ultimately quite similar: both are undead, both feed on humans, and both have the power to convert their victims into more monsters. The fundamental difference between the two — and what makes each so scary — is the question of their humanity: vampires have all of those qualities I mentioned up front, but zombies don’t at all. Or, at least they usually don’t — Empire of the Dead 2 reveals that its zombies may be more human than it may seem. Continue reading →