This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Taylor: Nadia Pym isn’t the first person to don the Wasp moniker. Long before she became the Unstoppable Wasp, Janet Van Dyne was rocking a set of insectoid wings and shrinking down to microscopic sizes. The accolades Janet earned as Wasp are long, but suffice it to say that, as a founding member of the Avengers, her superhero resume is pretty well stacked. With such an impressive background, it’s interesting to consider what Janet thinks about Nadia, the love child of her husband with another woman and in many ways the younger version of herself. In bold fashion, Unstoppable Wasp 7 answers this question by shifting its narrative perspective and centering the action on the Wasp that started it all. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Astonishing Ant-Man 8, originally released May 18th, 2016.
Taylor: Recently, the Music Box Theater in Chicago hosted an event called Is It Still Funny? The purpose of this event was to determine why various movies of the past and present are or aren’t funny anymore. Regardless of what people came away thinking, the very idea behind the event is an intriguing one. Humor is such a contemporary thing; what was funny last year is stale today. Creating something funny that stands the test of time is incredibly difficult, but you wouldn’t guess that when reading Astonishing Ant-Man. Writer Nick Spencer makes this humor look criminally easy. After all, it takes talent to return to what is essentially the same joke issue after issue but continue to spin it in a way that is both entertaining and funny.
Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Astonishing Ant-Man originally released January 20, 2016.
Michael: At what point do you stop blaming the world around you for your problems and start taking responsibility for your own life? Life is undoubtedly full of poorly-timed coincidences, but there is also a lot to say about the power of free will. Astonishing Ant-Man 4 focuses on Scott Lang’s ignored responsibilities smacking him right in the face.
Today, Taylor and Michael are discussing Ant-Man 3, originally released March 9th, 2015.
Taylor: Before I became a teacher, I was working in a job I cared nothing about. While that sounds kind of miserable — which it was at points — I did enjoy that my work was something I could leave at the office. Weekends and evenings were basically all mine during this period and I did whatever I pleased with that time. Now, working at a job I care about, I find the divide between work and my home-life has blurred. Work comes home often now and weekends are spent mostly preparing for the coming week. Basically, my situation was a trade off. Work at a boring job and be free at home. Work at a job that you care about, and never stop working. Ant-Man 3, despite it’s humorous overtones, meditates on this aspect of life in a way that is both insightful and entertaining. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Ant-Man 1, originally released January 7th, 2015.
Taylor: As long as stories have been told, people have enjoyed hearing about clever heroes. Perhaps the prototype of the clever character in western literature is Odysseus — a man who more than made up for physical shortcomings with the power of his mind. And while many people nowadays might not feel a close kinship to Odysseus, they still appreciate a clever hero — and a clever story. Marvel, as a publisher, has taken this love of cleverness and has essentially turned it into a multimillion dollar business. While the Marvel movies embody this philosophy to their core, there are a number of comic series which also are banking on this appreciation for wit. The reboot of Ant-Man is no exception to this formula, but does it have anything all that clever to say? Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing The Superior Foes of Spider-Man 12, originally released June 4th, 2014.
Taylor: The excellent blog kottke.org recently brought to my attention a video on visual comedy. In this short feature, Tony Zhou makes a strong case for the lack of visual comedy in your typical comedic film. He also highlights a lot of movies, like Hot Fuzz, which make excellent use of visual comedy. It got me to thinking about how difficult it is to pull off visual comedy in film, much less in comics. Like in writing, something about pulling off a comedic still frame is surprisingly difficult. As with movies, I think we often aren’t treated to great visual comedy. However, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 12 bucks this trend and shows just how funny a comic can be based almost entirely on its visual elements alone.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing The Superior Foes of Spider-Man 3, originally released September 4th, 2013.
Taylor: We all know the origin story of Spider-Man. Peter Parker gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains the sensational powers of a spider. At first, he doesn’t use his powers for good, instead choosing to indulge himself in a world of personal gain and selfishness. An indirect consequence of the path he chooses is that his Uncle Ben is murdered by a thug he previously had failed to apprehend. Because of this, Peter comes to fully understand his uncle’s saying: “with great power comes great responsibility,” which leads him on the path to superherodom. But what if your path is different from Peter’s? What if instead of choosing to be a hero, you choose to be a villain? What creed or mantra would you follow then? What expectations would you have of yourself and those you call your allies? In a surprising change of tone, Superior Foes of Spider-Man 3 explores this question and the result is a deepening of Boomerang’s character that, while unexpected, is a welcome addition to the series.
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing The Superior Foes of Spider-Man 2, originally released August 7th, 2013.
Taylor: Comics inherently are a silly thing. Now, before you haul off and yell at me about how comics are a legitimate art form, cool your Rocketeer jets and let it be known I agree with you. But just hear me out. The fact that comics primarily deal with people in goofy costumes running around fighting crime can’t be ignored. That in and of itself is pretty damning evidence that comics are a little bit absurd. However, this is but one element of what goes into the makings of a comic book, and as with so many other things, comics are more than the sum of their parts. Still, reducing comics down to some of their most basic elements can have comedic results, just as reducing a basketball game to the idea of giant men throwing around a sphere for an hour or so makes it seem especially silly. While comedic gold can result from the acknowledgment of the pulpy origins of comic books, there remains the question of how lasting this humor can be. Can it go on for an entire series? The Superior Foes of Spider-man has you covered.
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing The Superior Foes of Spider-Man 1, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Ethan: It’s easy to make snap judgements about people when you’ve only known them for a short time, whether it’s a new face at a house party or a new coworker or neighbor who’s just moved in. Once you get to know someone better — say you decide to start renting with your partner, or you share a cubicle with the new guy long enough that he’s no longer the new guy — your opinion of them shifts, often for the better and the worse all at once. You learn about their ambitions and family and past experiences, and little things you didn’t even notice at first become pet peeves or endearing quirks. In Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1, writer Nick Spencer is betting the farm on that phenomenon with a more personal look at the day-to-day lives of the latest Sinister Six.