Feature Panels Orient the Action in Extermination 3

by Drew Baumgartner

Extermination 3

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

Tony Zhou’s Every Frame A Painting channel might just be my favorite outlet for analysis of visual media. Zhou tends to frame his videos very narrowly — such as the “How to do Visual Comedy” video excerpted above — but the lessons can be applied much more broadly. Which is my half-explanation for why I chose that particular video to kick off my analysis of Extermination 3 — not because this issue has anything to do with visual comedy, but because artist Pepe Larraz does such a brilliant job inventively eschewing lazy visual conventions. Continue reading

Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 Corrupts a Generation

by Patrick Ehlers

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

One of the frustrating things about our currently social and political landscape is that the generation pulling our country to the right was once a force for radical social change. When the baby boomers where hippies, they believed in equality and rejected conformity and corporatization. They championed peace, both as an antidote to war and on its own merit. We can argue about the efficacy of that countercultural movement all we want, but the point is that they were idealistic once. Somewhere over the last 50 years, peace and love turned into opportunism and xenophobia. To this point, the original X-Men have been spared this curmudgeonly fate. Introduced as avatars of otherneess in 1963, Jean Grey, Hank McCoy, Warren Worthington and Bobby Drake have such a long way to fall. Matthew Rosenberg and Travel Foreman’s Astonishing X-Men Annual 1 shows this corrupting influence in action, slowly radicalizing the most level headed, unimpeachable voices for equality in the marvel universe.

It’s a truly heartbreaking ride. Continue reading

Multiple Multiple Men in Multiple Man 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Multiple Man 1

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

The X-Men represent a particularly confusing corner of the Marvel Universe. It would be hard enough to keep the ever-growing list of characters straight even without all of the time travel, shape-shifting, and body-doubling shenanigans. I suppose mileage varies depending on how familiar one is with all of those characters and timelines, but for me, the most readable X-Men stories tend to strip things down: a few characters, a specific problem, and clearly defined parameters that limit the solutions. Unfortunately, Multiple Man 1 doesn’t do a great job of laying out any of those components. Continue reading

Narrative Twists and Powerful Love in Hunt for Wolverine 1

By Michael DeLaney

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

Modern storytelling loves a narrative twist — you could argue that most stories are exclusively centered around them. With that in mind, do we let the success of a twist dictate the overall reception of a story? Hunt for Wolverine 1 may be such an example. Continue reading

Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey 2

by Drew Baumgartner

Phoenix Resurrection 2

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

Does anyone remember the “flash sideways” device from LOST‘s final season? The show mined a lot of fun out of the mystery of just what the heck that other world was — a parallel universe? a new timeline? purgatory? — but I never really found the guessing all that fun, as the magical/metaphysical nature of that particular mystery meant that any and all of those things could be equally right. I tend to feel that way about most mysteries that delight in building up red herrings to look as likely as the ultimate answer (perfectly demonstrated in Clue‘s multiple endings; the culprit can only be found by the movie telling us whodunnit, not through any deductive work on our own), but it’s particularly pronounced in stories with a fantasy or sci-fi element that might defy our own experience of the world. That is, if we’re operating in a world with a magical island, is it possible to rule out even the most absurd theory? These are the thoughts running through my head as I read Phoenix Resurrection 2. Continue reading

Jean Grey 1

Alternating Currents: Jean Grey 1, Drew and Spencer

Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing Jean Grey 1, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Ah, the solo album — is there any more fraught trial in popular culture? Making it as a solo act is a grueling process, and while most never rise above obscurity, artists who are already well known for their work with a band have the blessing/curse of starting their solo career in the public eye. It requires instantaneously landing on a musical voice that’s somehow familiar enough to appeal to longstanding fans (capitalizing on that notoriety) yet also distinct enough to justify the solo status. Dennis Hopeless and Victor Ibáñez face a similar tightrope in Jean Grey, aiming to give the (in)famous X-Man a voice that could distinguish this series from her other adventures. Continue reading

Inhumans v X-Men 6

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Inhumans v X-Men 6, originally released March 8th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

“You guys… who are the good guys?”

Ms. Marvel, IvX 4

Patrick: Kamala’s rhetorical question at the end of issue 4 might have been meant to highlight the idea that there are no “good guys” in war, just people living out of various levels of desperation. And that’s definitely true of both the I and X Camps — these are peoples who believe that their survival is contingent on the destruction of the other. What they’re willing to do to each other is resultant entirely from the treat they perceive from their enemies. In effect, everyone is retaliating, acting in self-defense, and therefore the answer to Ms. Marvel’s question is “everyone.” But that’s not true, is it? There is one agent of aggression who has been manipulating all players, X-Men and Inhuman alike. And that person — the sole “bad guy” — is Emma Frost, who defines her identity by the fear she experiences as a mutant.  It’s a heartbreaking fall from grace as the long-suffering White Queen finally succumbs to paranoia and unequivocally cedes the moral high ground. Continue reading

Civil War II 8

civil-war-ii-8
Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Civil War II 8, originally released December 28th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: The point of most blockbuster summer event crossovers is to throw as many characters together as a publisher can and coast off the spectacle, using tie-ins to boost sales and often refocusing their line of books in the aftermath. When these events are done right they can be loads of fun, but it’s hard to deny that there’s something kinda mercenary about the whole process. Is it possible for an event comic to have a soul? I’d certainly say so, and I’d imagine Brian Michael Bendis would agree with me. The problem with Civil War II, then, is that Bendis’ attempts to split the book evenly between spectacle and deeper themes results in both elements playing out unsatisfactorily. Continue reading

IvX 1

ivx1

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing IvX 1, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: Last month’s IvX 0 did a fantastic job of summing up the conflict between the Inhumans and the X-Men and showing why their going to war was only a matter of time. Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s IvX 1, though, is the issue where that powder keg finally ignites into all-out war, and war…well, war is ugly. IvX 1 plays up the fun of watching these two groups duke it out, but also the pain and sadness inherent in its scenario. Continue reading

IvX 0

ivx-1

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing IvX 0, originally released November 30th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: I don’t know much about my ancestry or heritage other than the fact that I’ve got blood from at least six or seven different European countries in me (I’ve been known to describe my ethnicity as “White Mystery”). Combine that with a family that’s never been all that worried about tradition and you get a guy who just doesn’t care about his culture (if I could even be considered as having one). This is absolutely not the case with the mutants or the Inhumans, though; although the two groups’ concepts of culture and tradition differ greatly, they’re absolutely vital to both camps. That’s something Charles Soule and Kenneth Rocafort make abundantly clear in IvX 0 — the conflict that’s been brewing between them isn’t really about the literal deaths of individuals anymore, but about the possible figurative death of their very ways of life. Continue reading