Today, Ryan D. and Spencer are discussing Vote Loki 1, originally released June 15th, 2016
Ryan D: This story is as much about Loki as “The Great Gatsby” is about Gatsby; it’s a narrative told through the lens of Nisa Contreras, our Nick Carraway of the story, a former Daily Bugle reporter whose Lower East-Side block was devastated by an Avengers clash with Loki back in the Golden Age. Nisa distrusts the Trickster God implicitly, and her skepticism makes sense in this comic, with her pragmatics being a decidedly grounding force to a fairly outlandish idea. I wish that writer Christopher Hastings gave the audience a bit more characterization from Nisa, who at the moment is defined by her tenacity and care for the corrupt political election system, but I am sure further issues will allow her voice to be refined and heard. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Guardians of Knowhere 1, originally released July 15th, 2015.
Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy regains girl.
Drew: I’ve never seen any codified theories to this effect, but I strongly believe that every narrative has an ideal length. The Old Man and the Sea couldn’t be longer without losing its essence, just as War and Peace couldn’t be shorter. I can’t claim to understand all of the factors that determine the ideal length for a story, but it’s obvious enough when the length isn’t ideal. The epigraph may functionally describe a lot of stories we’re familiar with, but it’s too short to be a satisfying story — we have no empathetic connection to “boy,” no investment in his relationship to “girl,” no context for their eventual reunion. Conversely, Brian Michael Bendis is often criticized for making his stories too long to be satisfying, with each plot point dragged out for too many issues for us to be invested in the bigger picture. Of course, one of the big mitigating factors in the world of comics is the quality of the art — a dazzling action sequence may not require much of a plot, and indeed may be better off without many distractions. Nobody does “dazzling” better than Mike Deodato Jr., which makes him an ideal pairing for Bendis’ decompressed style. So does Guardians of Knowhere 1 live up to that “match made in heaven” expectation? Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 16, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Patrick: I very vividly remember being first introduced to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – it was late in the summer of 2003, and I was visiting my buddy Scott at his parents’ house between our Freshman and Sophomore years of college. Scottie had been playing the game on a borrowed console and the whole thing felt like a kind of wish fulfillment: suddenly there was a whole galaxy of Star Wars characters, stories and locations to explore, and all without leaving the confines of a single video game. There’s a promise inherent in KotOR’s premise – the depths of your imagination are already on display here, you only need look hard enough. This immediately becomes overwhelming. Even when alien races and spaceship designs look the way you remember them, you realize that any emotional connection you make with the material must be generated in-game. Without my core band of plucky rebels to get my automatic-love, I was left without a rudder, and instead of sailing the high seas of Star Wars adventures, I was mired in meaningless ephemera. This is often how I feel about the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe. I may be able to recognize Broods and Spartax and Skrulls and Grand Inquisitors, but without someone to actually care about at the heart of it? Not a lot to hang a story on. Brian Michael Bendis addresses this issue head-on by spreading the Guardians of the Galaxy out among the cosmos. Suddenly, even the muddiest mythology has emotional resonance.
Today, Scott and Taylor are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 13, originally released March 26th, 2014.
I’m not sure this was worth it.
Scott: It always amuses me when a character voices my same feelings towards an in-story event. It can be so tragically ironic. In this case, Gamora wondering if the Guardians’ involvement in rescuing Jean Grey is worth the heat it’s going to draw from the Shi-ar echoed the feelings I’ve had towards their role in ‘The Trial of Jean Grey’. The finale to this six-part event hits some emotional beats, but like the previous installments, the personal moments tend to revolve around the X-Men, leaving this series’ protagonists feeling left out. Ultimately, it’s an awkward goodbye to a crossover that never quite gelled and, frankly, probably wasn’t worth three issues the Guardians’ time. Oh, and Groot gets weird with some trees.
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing All-New X-Men 24, originally released March 12th, 2014. This issue is part of the Trial of Jean Grey event.
Drew: As much as I can understand the appeal of seeing your favorite superheroes fight, the strained justifications for why they were fighting in the first place always got in the way of it being any fun. Shouldn’t Superman have heard of Batman? Shouldn’t they know they’re on the same side? These problems are exacerbated in cohesive publishing universes where you can confirm that, yeah, every hero should basically have heard of every other hero by now. Brian Michael Bendis discovered a creative end-run around this problem in All-New X-Men — the time-displaced original X-Men ultimately missed a LOT of introductions to Earth’s superheroes — which finds its logical conclusion issue 24 as they face off against the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. I mean, honestly, how would they know they were on the same side? Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 11, originally released January 29th, 2014.
Scott: The call-and-response nature of crossover events can grow a bit tiresome. We all know it. Guardians of the Galaxy 11, the series’ entree into “The Trial of Jean Grey”, is only tasked with answering one question: why did the Shi’ar kidnap Jean Grey? While Brian Michael Bendis ably resolves that question, the rest of the issue winds up feeling rather pointless. Bendis handicaps himself by not allowing this issue to advance the story any further than that, insisting instead on keeping pace with the other half of the crossover, All-New X-Men. Guardians 11 is a necessary issue, to be sure, but also a very flat one. So while “The Trial of Jean Grey” isn’t the Lifetime movie its title suggests, it is off to a slow start. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 10, originally released December 31st, 2013.
Drew: We may lament the way crossover events tend to hijack otherwise enjoyable series, but it’s an unfortunate way of life for comics published by the big two. Once the crossover is over, the series can return to the conflicts and situations that defined the series up until that point. Usually. Guardians of the Galaxy 10 is committed to the fallout of it’s most recent events (still reverberating from Infinity, which saw the “living death” of Thanos, AND Age of Ultron, which saw the introduction of Angela to the Marvel Universe), which is great for legitimizing the stakes of those events, but may alienate fans who liked the series before all of that started. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Patrick are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 8, originally released October 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage. Scott: I always know I like a comic when it stops feeling “new”. There comes a point in every series where I’m no longer reading because it has potential to be good, but because it actually has become good (either that, or it never realizes that potential and I stop reading altogether). Eight issues in, and I feel like Guardians of the Galaxy is no longer getting by on merely being new. Without Iron Man to buoy it any longer, this is something of a sink or swim moment for this series, and it doesn’t miss a beat. Everything is clicking- the writing, the characters, the humor and the art. Especially the art. This is the issue that moves Guardians from my “Intriguing New Titles” column to my “Must Read!” column. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and guest writer Kevin are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 6, originally released September 25th, 2013.
Shelby: In the real world, I’m a QA Analyst for a software development company, so my job revolves around dealing with mistakes. There are times when it’s important to take responsibility for your mistakes; if I misunderstand some software and call something a defect that isn’t, I always make sure to acknowledge I was in the wrong. It’s not easy, especially when I’ve made a big deal about it before being proven wrong, but I do it anyway. Sometimes, though, when I’m confronted with a mistake, be it mine or otherwise, the top priority is fixing it. It might feel nice to assign the blame, but at times it is just more important to figure out what we’re going to do about it. Continue reading →
Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 5, originally released July 31st, 2013.
Ethan: I’ve always been envious of people who can consistently sleep through long flights. I’m not a tall person; airplane seats are not all that constrictive for me. Leg room is not really a big concern. Nevertheless, I haven’t mastered the skill of settling in and passing out. So on the one occasion in which I did get lucky enough to fall asleep during takeoff and wake up during the landing, I was freaking out a little. One minute, I’m freezing in the Great Plains; the next, I’m squinting at the Sierra Madre through bleary eyes and a tiny window. If our species ever gets around to inventing teleportation, I think it will feel a little bit like that. In Guardians of the Galaxy #5, a new character is undergoing her own, much more radical translocation – Angela, “Hunter of the Heavens,” has been ripped out of her home universe/reality, and she is NOT happy about it. Continue reading →