This article contains SPOILERSfor both this issue and Avengers Infinity War. If you haven’t read the issue or seen the movie yet, proceed at your own risk!
Patrick: Every big superhero event story needs to kick off with some kind of world-altering, morality-testing incident. A kind of “what did you just do?” moment that our characters will spend the next however-many-issues sorting out. Hell, the climax of Avengers Infinity War happened like 15 pages into the first issue of Jim Starlin’s The Infinity Gauntlet. Where writer Eric Heisserer distinguishes his story is in giving that catastrophic action to our hero, and making damn sure we understand why. Continue reading →
This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Avengers 672 opens with both the Avengers and the Champions having the same fight in two different places. A new satellite is about to reveal images either confirming or denying proof of the High Evolutionary’s Counter Earth, a planet sharing our orbit on the far side of the sun. Nova and Peter Parker have both been to the planet, but Amadeus and Wasp insist that it cannot exist because it would defy all laws of physics and throw off the balance of the entire solar system. Mark Waid and Jesus Saiz use this scenario — of two planets that cannot share the same orbit without causing destruction — to illustrate the problem facing both of these teams: they can’t be in the same place without tearing each other down. Continue reading →
Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Avengers 1.1, originally released November 9th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: Take 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 1.1-1.6 (which told a previously untold story set in Peter Parker’s first few months as a hero) and mix it together with Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s JLA Year One (which retold the Justice League’s post-Crisis origin in a modern setting) and you’ll get something resembling The Avengers 1.1. Waid and Kitson take their trademark stylistic combination of classic storytelling set in the modern day (which Waid has also been employing in his modern-day Avengers stories) and use it to tell an “untold” tale of the Avengers’ past. If you have any experience with the aforementioned stories or creative teams, then the result is probably exactly what you were expecting. Continue reading →
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, Ryan M. and Taylor are discussing All-New, All-Different Avengers 1, originally released November 11th, 2015.
Ryan: Though the Avengers have yet to assemble, the five of them that are featured in this issue have a shared problem. They have internal issues with how they are perceived by the outside world. Captain America is not happy to have his behavior scrutinized for racial implications, Iron Man is still seen as a titan of industry even though his wallet is literally empty and Spider-Man, well, to borrow a phrase, he can’t get no respect. In the second story of the issue, Ms. Marvel struggles with her ability to prove herself to a fellow hero and Nova can’t make headway with a pretty girl. These guys will soon have to work together to save the world from war-mongering aliens, but they each have something else to prove to others.
Today, Ryan and Patrick are discussing Secret Wars 1, originally released May 6th, 2015.
“Oh, best war ever…”
-General Nick Fury, Secret Wars 1
Ryan: Secret Wars grabs the baton from Jon Hickman’s Avengers/New Avengers beloved/despised/confusing “Time Runs Out” saga chronicling the futile struggle of Earth-616 against the collapse of the multiverse. Hickman dives in by tipping his hat to the concluding plot thread of Doom vs. The Beyonders, the significance of which — aside from helping to shrink the amount of surviving universes down to a baker’s dozen minus a bunch — is still a bit lost on me. The narration of the issue is provided by Reed Richards, and the first installment of this event belongs to him.
Today, Spencer and Ryan are discussing Avengers 44 and New Avengers 33, originally released April 29th, 2015.
Spencer: Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers saga has gone through three different phases. The first, which lasted from the series’ debut through the end of Infinity, found Avengers exploring the forced evolution of the planet Earth via Ex Nihilo’s Origin Bombs while New Avengers established the threat of the Incursions and the drastic measures the Illuminati would have to take to combat them. The second phase found Avengers essentially spinning its wheels, waiting for the Illuminati in New Avengers to reach their limit and, ultimately, fail. Then the books skipped ahead in time eight months, and both lost a bit of their former identities as they became swallowed up in the Incursions storyline. New Avengers has spent most of phase three explaining the mechanics of everything that came before, while Avengers explored the personal fall-out between the members of all these various teams. While the Incursion storyline is continuing into Hickman’s upcoming Secret Wars, the final issues of Avengers and New Avengers focus on wrapping up the ideas they’ve been exploring since phase three began. One is decidedly more engaging than the other. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Mark are discussing Avengers 43, originally released April 1st, 2015.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown
William Shakespeare, Henry IV
Ryan: It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and history remembers figures like this with no small sense of disdain. However, what of those leaders who came to reign under the most noble of intentions, who yet were forced to make decisions universally agreed upon as damnable? Jonathan Hickman and Stephano Caselli have taken readers on a convoluted and bumpy road in Avengers, and along the way have raised some sticky questions in regards to morals under duress. In this penultimate issue, we see how the crown of an empire and the Damoclean burden of genius can incite or deter an extinction. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Avengers 42, originally released March 4th, 2015.
“We don’t view our history as being broken or something that we need to fix. If anything we think we are building upon that history and we are taking the best and biggest pieces of it and seeing how easily they coexist with one another. We don’t expect all our moves to make everyone happy, but we think it will make for a really fascinating read through ‘Secret Wars’ and beyond.”
-Axel Alonso, Secret Wars Press Event
Patrick: The grander hyper-textual implications of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers have been apparent for some time, but the importance and meaning of the meta-textual reasons have been something of a mystery. By Alonso’s own admission, Marvel doesn’t really need a Crisis-style reboot, but Secret Wars and Battleworld seem to bear all the multiversal signatures of one of DC Comics’ rebooting events. The problem with Crises (and it’s a problem that I think both DC and Marvel are starting to experience) is that the real world drama trumps the in-narrative drama. We’re more interested in answering the question “What’s going to happen to Batman?” than “What’s going to happen to Batman?” — and that means that we are necessarily less interested in the stories themselves than the companies telling those stories. Avengers 42 tries to reclaim some of that drama for itself, representing what appear to be conflicting editorial voices as characters within the Marvel Universe. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Avengers 40, originally released January 14th, 2015.
The more I love humanity in general, the less I love man in particular
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Drew: I think it would be fair to say that Dostoevsky’s polyphonic style — one built upon the perspectives of an array of characters — is antithetical to the notion of the hero’s journey. Indeed, Dostoyevsky’s philosophies (as articulated in the quote above) suggest that there’s an active tension between caring about an individual and caring about humanity at large. I’ve always been partial to the depth of understanding achieved by sticking with one protagonist — especially when it comes to comics — which has made me wary of the kind of expansive, Dostoyevskian scope of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers. In my mind, a tight focus on a single character more accurately reflects how we experience the world, but with Avengers 40, Hickman makes a compelling case for how his dense interconnectednessreflects how the world actually is. Continue reading →